Friday, February 19, 2010
I remember learning that "fellowship" was the act of people worshipping God together. That God wanted you to participate in fellowship, he had made people for each other. One of the great things about AA is that the core of the program is fellowship. For some people it's the only fellowship they get. It's not uncommon for people to attend 2 or 3 meetings a day. Sometimes they come by the club to hang out and play cards, or cribbage. It's really a simple concept. People need people. Yet without this simple concept the program can work, it just doesn't have all the benefits. Sometimes when I walk into a meeting, I'm frazzled. Work has been crazy, I shuttled the kids to ten different places, I'm tired, hungry, and hitting a low. But just walking through the door brings, hellos, hugs, and acceptance. Isn't that one of the most important things in life? Total acceptance and being made to feel that you are important?! After an hour of sharing, laughing, sometimes crying, you are refocused, aligned, ready to finish your day with a new perspective. There is an unwritten rule that everybody who walks through the AA doors agrees upon: "If you feel like drinking, either get yourself to a meeting, or pick up the phone and call someone". God created other people for strength, for support, for laughter, for tears, for survival. Take a look at the people you share fellowship with and count them among your greatest blessings. Because they are!
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Last night the meeting focused on hitting bottom. What was the final turning point. For some people, a court order, for other's their children or grandchildren, and still other's the death of someone near. For me it was just being sick and tired of my life. Not in the sense that I wasn't grateful, I mean I am very blessed! My children have not suffered too much, my husband is still with me, I'm not homeless. But sick in the fact that I had been following the same pattern for so many years and nothing had changed. I remember when I turned 40 last year I wanted it to be such a great year! I wanted to change so much! To do so many things, and its pretty sad when you wake up on birthday 41 and realize you never did any of the things you wanted, problems you had last year were still there plus more, and certain areas were worse off than ever. I had finally had enough! But where do you turn, how do you figure a way out of the mess that you and your little problem have created? I hear this saying a lot at meetings, "No one understands you better than another alcoholic". Its very true. We can sit and spin our wheels for years and we see nothing wrong with it. My wheels had quit spinning, I was just plain stuck. I probably knew for the last two years that I was definately an alcoholic. Yet it took another 24 months for me to descend deeper into my self-destruction before I had had enough. You can't make somone enter recovery. You can't wish them into it. I'm not sure what made me pick the phone up but one day I closed my office door and called AA. The person who answered the phone talked to me for about 20 minutes. This person whom I will never know really saved me. They made me feel that it was ok to have this disease. Their exact words were, "Somewhere you crossed a line and now you can't go back". They didn't make me feel ashamed or embarrassed. They gave me the information I needed to make a choice. I could beat this. It wasn't going to be easy but if I was willing to work, I could do it. Just having that acceptance, that assurance was all I needed. And you know why? Because the person on the other end of that line was another alcoholic. They had been sober for four years and the 12th. step is passing it on. This person was the calm in my storm. They also said other things that were very powerful, and I often come back to that conversation when I'm having a bad day. Angels do walk among us. They don't have halos, wings, or a bright light, but they have compassion for others and grace. I'm thankful for the angel that picked up the phone three weeks ago.....and I'm hoping that someday I get to be that angel, giving someone else the help they need!
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Life is fragile. You hear people say that but rarely do I put it into context. Yet, everything can change in an instant. Talk to people whose lives have never been the same, changed by a single moment in time. I tend to forget how fragile my world is. But once you set your vulnerability out for the world to see, it looks very small and breakable. Sometimes in AA people expose the fragility of their worlds. You don't have to, you're not required to but truth is the only way to set yourself free. Its heartbreaking to listen to someone admit that they took a drink. Perhaps they just celebrated so many days of sobriety, and then in an instant its gone. The mind loves to play tricks with you. It likes to tell you, "You don't need this program, look how good you're doing, you're not like them, besides do you really want to do this for the rest of your life?!" And just when you think you've got it together the glass shatters. Someone gives you a dose of how fragile your world is. One second, one sip, and the freight train starts moving. In AA there's a saying : "It's not the cabose that kills you , its the engine" (meaning the first drink). Fragile goes along with humble, and the need to let your higher power be in control. We have no control. Each day I now ask God to lead me. To guide me in the direction he wants me to go. God made a committment to me a long time ago. I just realized I never committed back. Its the committment to God that makes the difference. And on the days I'm really fragile, I like to imagine that he's holding me in the palm of his hand. He's got your back. Life is fragile, we all need a safety net.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
I never thought about listening. I guess because I'm a terrible listener. My mind tends to wander when I'm listening (or suppose to be) and before I know it I've missed 50% of what someone is saying. In AA you have to listen a lot. Only one person at a time may speak, which is followed by "Thank you so-and-so". This shows respect and a fellow AA made a comment the other day that really stuck with me, "If you're thinking about what you are going to say you're not really listening". Wow! How true, thoughts or advice or statements should be spontaneous not prerehearsed in your head as the other person is talking. I have spoken a few times at meetings but lately I've just listened. This is a tremendous task for someone like me who thinks she has valuable advice for everyone. What I found out is that by really listening to someone you don't just hear words. You hear emotions. A person told of their struggles with just admitting that they were an alcoholic and I actually felt their pain. So much that I didn't even notice tears were running down my cheeks until someone handed me a Kleenex. I have been going 80 mph for the last 15 years. Rarely do I stop and really listen to all that's going on around me. So now I can't get the past back but I can listen starting each and every day. It's amazing what people are trying to tell you. What God is trying to tell you. Be still, it's not something I'm good at but when I am still I am in the moment. I have avoided pain and feelings for so long, scared I wouldn't survive them, but when the focus is off of me,and on what I need to be doing the pain isn't so overwhelming, I can do it. My challenge is for everyone to set their ego's aside and listen, really listen to someone else. You will be amazed at what you discover, about them, and about yourself.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Wow, you mean the world doesn't really revolve around me?! This is about as hard to swallow as the fact that I haven't woken up famous yet! All kidding aside its very hard to put your ego away. Alcoholics are all about ego. Not the stuck up kind, or the I'm better than you way, but just the I can do everything, I don't need you or anybody else...step aside I'm large and in charge. The sad part is we aren't in charge, we just think we are, and then we cower behind the bottle to give us the courage to keep this facade going. I hate asking for help. I hate admitting I'm not as great as I think I am. But it finally dawned on me why when I tried to quit before it never worked. I tried to do it alone. When you sit in an AA meeting there is every walk of life you can think of seated around the table. If you think for a second you are different, better, smarter, richer etc. all that is leveled off very quickly. The leader starts by saying, "Hi I'm so and so and I'm an alcoholic" then the next person introduces themselves the same way and it goes around the table. By the end, all bets are off that you are any different than anyone else in the room. We are all alcoholics. We all suffer from the same disease. As you listen to other's tell their personal tales you are humbled. Humbled because you have a God who loves you. Humbled because he cares enough to come and save you from yourself. I have good days, and some not so good days. But one thing is constant. God loves all of us equally. If you think he loves you more or less than anybody else you are wrong. He loves us all. If I have learned anything this last week its being humble is the best way to share the grace of God.