Saturday, February 27, 2010

Meeting an angel

A while back I wrote about the day that I talked to someone on the hotline. What an angel in disguise they were. Today I got to meet that person and give them a big hug. I love Saturday morning meetings. They are well attended and lots of great discussion goes on. I listened to this person talking today and then I also spoke, and after the meeting they came up and asked if I had called the hotline a few weeks ago. I said "Yes, I did, are you the person I talked to?" "Yep, its me! How great it was to thank them. They said the thanks really belongs to God, that they just acted through them. We talked for quite a while. It's awesome when you can thank someone in person. I met with my sponsor for the first time last night and it was great. So many things to learn. One is that alcoholics are often perfectionists. We like things perfect, we are extremely critical and hard on ourselves. How true this is! My sponsor told me to put the big stick away and to stop beating myself up every morning. I never realized how true this is. But like most things in life this habit won't be broken overnight. One 24 hours at a time. With the help of God. Isn't that how we should live anyway? Have to go, but will write more tomorrow!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Doing what it takes.......

Selfish is a word that is thrown around a lot at AA meetings. It's often at the core of an alcoholic. We of course do not see our selfishness because we are too busy being the victim, or the one who doesn't have a problem, everyone else has the problem. But there is also a time when selfishness is very important in the role of recovery. You need to do what it takes to stay sober. For some people they have to stop hanging out with people that they've been with for years, because they know that staying with these people will only lead to relapse. For others it's learning to take care of themselves, to say no, and to let other people take care of themselves. And there are often times when the situation is so wrong that the person may have to leave their families in order to stay sober. This can come with a heavy price tag. The guilt associated with making such a selfish decision often weighs heavily on the mind of someone who has been told they have a very selfish and self-centered disease. Yet is it selfish? Working through this program is no easy task. Sobriety is not for cowards. You have to face it head on and be fearless. Otherwise when it comes to admission, forgiveness, and redemption you will be overwhelmed and give up. Having to leave behind friends and family to stay sober may seem selfish but compared with baring the emptiness of your soul, it's not. Selfish lies in deliberate hurt, not taking responsibility for your actions, and not caring because you only care about you. A fellow AA is facing leaving their family. They are torn, but they know its the only way they can stay sober. Rarely do you get to glimpse real courage. This decision that they have to make takes real courage. They will not be alone. They have their AA family, sponsor, and the greatest power of all, God. The next time you need real courage, ask God to walk with you. There is nothing you can't do with the Lord on your side. Doing what it takes in this circumstance is not selfish at all.....

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Giving It A Rest

A fellow AA member remarked how difficult the winter is. It's dark all the time and I find I need to pray and concentrate on the steps more during these times. "I just hate winter" they said. I used to hate winter too. I hated when I had to cut my perennials back, and clean out the yard for winter. November was always such a cold dead month to me. Then I read in a magazine that November was stillness at its best. A welcome rest for nature so it could burst forth in the springtime in all it's glory. Everything needs a rest sooner or later. By the time someone makes it into AA they are in desperate need of a "rest". The bodies are battered, the mind is exhausted, and the soul broken. The spirit that once was there is missing and for many suicide is close behind. I have heard people say more than once that they "just wanted to die". AA gives you a rest. All you have to do is go to the meetings those first few weeks. Rest, listen, share only if you want to. But rest and rest assured you are no longer alone. Your higher power will be with you every step of the way. Your fellow members can relate to you and if you look closely enough you will see somone who has their soul back. There is a softness, a humility, a gratefulness that there was a choice besides death. By August last year I didn't care anymore. I was too tired. But it took me another six months before I was tired enough to get help. I love my flower gardens, but by the end of summer, I let the weeds do what they wanted. I blamed it on not having enough time, but in reality I had enough time to pour a drink, and stare at my chaotic gardens and sip the cares away. This year when I cleaned the beds for fall, I didn't care. It was just one more chore to do. That is why finding a place to rest is so important. It lets you know that there will be better days, sunny days, days you can't imagine any more than just living. When I went to get the mail the other night I found a new seed catalog that had come. On the cover the beautiful flowers reminded me of what is to come. Better days, days with sunshine, and bees buzzing, and my gardens. I touched the cover tenderly because I knew the catalog was a sign from God. I will rest, I will heal, and my soul will bloom again once more. There is "son" even on cloudy, snowy days.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Learning About Yourself

Anniversaries are a great event in AA. Yesterday four anniversaries were celebrated ranging from six months to over 20 years. These are often happy occasions and they set the tone for the meeting. We talk about how they did it, often it took more than one try, but for some just walking through the doors and surrendering to God or your higher power is all it takes. Time before and after meetings is important too. This is when you often get the best advice. This was proven to me last night. Sunday I was really feeling low, and of course my spouse was an easy target. I wanted him to feel bad too. If I'm going to suffer so are you which is ironic since most people have already suffered thanks to the alcoholic. I was sharing my argument with a fellow AA member when they stopped me in mid-sentence: "Did you ask him how he was feeling or did you tell him?" I replied "I told him." "Then how do you know what he is feeling? He could be happy for you, he could be sad, he could be scared to death. You put your agenda first. You wanted him to feel bad because you were feeling bad yet you never really found out his feelings. He can feel anyway he wants to. He doesn't have to go to Al-Anon unless he feels a need or wants to. You have no right to tell him what he should do or feel. That's your selfishness, your wanting to control. But in reality his feelings are his not yours." I sat there and for the first time and realized how true this was. I am selfish. I do want people to do things in certain ways, or I want them to feel certain things, but rarely do I just let it happen. I want the agenda. I wasn't hurt by this person pointing this out, I was thankful. It's like someone let me see a piece of myself very clearly for the first time. In AA we work through steps that help us take care of ourselves. No, you do not neglect others but you stay focused on things that you can change. Your thoughts, your feelings, your reactions, you do not waste time and energy trying to control everyone around you. You accept yourself for your limitations and you embrace the differences of others. I had another lesson taught to me by this same person last Saturday. This person was asking if I felt I was the one person in the house doing everything. Yes , I replied. "We were all like that and I bet you liked to bitch about all you were doing too". Yes, came the reply just a little slower this time. "It's a character flaw in most alcoholics. We always feel we are the victim. You will learn to do things because you want to, and you won't need to complain about it. And you will learn to say no." Respect your boundaries. They are there to keep you from overwhelming yourself. They can also help keep you humble. I have switched my routine to reading and meditating and asking God for help in the morning. That way I can thank him and express my gratitude at night. Its a great way to begin and end my day. I am grateful to be learning something new each and every day.

Monday, February 22, 2010

High Bottom, Sponsors, and Hitting the Wall

You hear lots of terms in AA such as high bottom alcoholics. Friday at the meeting I asked what a high bottom was? (no its not a nice firm butt) A high bottom is an alcoholic that realizes they have a problem and comes to AA before they have lost their spouse, children, job, home etc...and low bottom is someone who comes into AA having just about lost everything with nowhere else to turn. I'm a "high bottom". Now most people would think that being a "high bottom" was much better than being a low bottom, but there is a lot of danger in thinking that way. As I now have heard more than once, is that "High bottoms" feel they are different and almost always drop out of the program. This proves to be a very bad decision because almost every "high bottom" that drops out comes back within a year and now enters as a "low bottom". Alcoholism is alcoholism. High or low its still the some evil cunning disease. Never think you are different. That your drinking is more manageable because you haven't lost everything. I heard first hand two tales of high bottoms thinking they were different and both returned as low bottoms. You can pay a great price for humility. To ensure that you work the twelve steps correctly you are asked to choose a sponsor. Someone who has completed the twelve steps, who has a certain time of sobriety and can lead you on your journey. I chose my sponsor Saturday. She is awesome. Funny, warm, sober for 20 years and no bull about her. We will get together for the first time Friday night for a one on one session to talk about me. Not the me that I pretend or want to be, but the person I truley am. That's a bit nerve racking. I've said it before, that alcohol is a very small part of this process. Examining your life, asking for foregivness, total submission to God, these are the parts that bring you serenity. I am scared. I really don't know who I am. What if I don't like the person I really am, what if my friends don't like the person I am to become? You have to totally trust in the plans God has for you. Right now I'm on the edge of a cliff, looking at a bridge and the people who have made it to the other side. I have to totally trust that with the help of God I won't plung down, but that I too will make it to the other side. Saturday we had an awesome speaker and potluck at AA. I love these people. A bunch of us sat together from our usual 5:30 meeting, and we shared stories. I love to hear the personal journey stories. Each one is a miracle. Each one is a testament to God. I came home flying high. Grabbed the kids and headed off to church. I was not prepared for what happened next. Tears, tears spilling all over the place. For the first time in years I had such a rush of emotions surfacing and spilling out I didn't know what to do. I wanted the floor to open up and swallow me whole! Thank God for Bob and Sherri, thank you so much for your hugs, and words of support, and cleaning my face up. It was as if for the very first time I didn't just hear what God had done for me, a poor miserable sinner, but I felt it. Felt it in my entire being. It's overwhelming. But life doesn't stop because mom is falling apart. It was off to an awards banquet for Al and the Curling team. I was smiling and trying to keep my eyes from squirting every five seconds, and I must have been pretty bad because another mother offered to bring Alex home so I could take Grace and Sam and go. Thank goodness! I barely made it to the car. I cried the rest of the night. I was trying to pass it off as over doing it, exhaustion. I woke up feeling worse on Sunday. At the AA meeting I talked about it with my sponser and found out I had hit the wall. The emotional wall. And I was to ride it out. Cry all day if I wanted to. No one can prepare you for it. I feel so full of hurt, shame, pain, and sadness that I feel like it's going to fly out of me like a fire hydrant. My sponsor also told me its one of the shortest phases, and its God's way of opening up my heart. I sat in a room full of people and sobbed, and I wasn't ashamed. That in itself is a huge step for me. I spent the rest of Sunday like a train wreck but let my parents come over and help me with household chores, and dinner. I guess its not so bad to let other people help you. I knew a long time ago I wasn't super woman but I never turned my cape in. I did now!