daily reflection: a thankful heart

I try to hold fast to the truth that a full and thankful heart cannot entertain great conceits. When brimming with gratitude, one’s heartbeat must surely result in outgoing love, the finest emotion that we can ever know.

— AS BILL SEES IT, p. 37

My sponsor told me that I should be a grateful alcoholic and always have “an attitude of gratitude”—that gratitude was the basic ingredient of humility, that humility was the basic ingredient of anonymity and that “anonymity was the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.” As a result of this guidance, I start every morning on my knees, thanking God for three things: I’m alive, I’m sober, and I’m a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. Then I try to live an “attitude of gratitude” and thoroughly enjoy another twenty-four hours of the A.A. way of life. A.A. is not something I joined; it’s something I live.

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daily reflection: mysterious paradoxes

I try to hold fast to the truth that a full and thankful heart cannot entertain great conceits. When brimming with gratitude, one’s heartbeat must surely result in outgoing love, the finest emotion that we can ever know.

— AS BILL SEES IT, p. 37

My sponsor told me that I should be a grateful alcoholic and always have “an attitude of gratitude”—that gratitude was the basic ingredient of humility, that humility was the basic ingredient of anonymity and that “anonymity was the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.” As a result of this guidance, I start every morning on my knees, thanking God for three things: I’m alive, I’m sober, and I’m a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. Then I try to live an “attitude of gratitude” and thoroughly enjoy another twenty-four hours of the A.A. way of life. A.A. is not something I joined; it’s something I live.

daily reflection: guidance

. . . this means a belief in a Creator who is all power, justice, and love; a God who intends for me a purpose, a meaning, and a destiny to grow, however . . . haltingly, toward His own likeness and image.

— AS BILL SEES IT, p. 51

As I began to understand my own powerlessness and my dependence on God, as I understand Him, I began to see that there was a life which, if I could have it, I would have chosen for myself from the beginning. It is through the continuing work of the Steps and the life in the Fellowship that I’ve learned to see that there is truly a better way into which I am being guided. As I come to know more about God, I am able to trust His ways and His plans for the development of His character in me. Quickly or not so quickly, I grow toward His own image and likeness.

daily reflection: a part of the whole

At once, I became a part—if only a tiny part—of a cosmos. . . .

— AS BILL SEES IT, p. 225

When I first came to A.A., I decided that “they” were very nice people — perhaps a little naive, a little too friendly, but basically decent, earnest people (with whom I had nothing in common). I saw “them” at meetings—after all, that was where “they” existed. I shook hands with “them” and, when I went out the door, I forgot about “them.”Then one day my Higher Power, whom I did not then believe in, arranged to create a community project outside of A.A., but one which happened to involve many A.A. members. We worked together, I got to know “them” as people. I came to admire “them,” even to like “them” and, in spite of myself, to enjoy “them.” “Their” practice of the program in their daily lives—not just in talk at meetings—attracted me and I wanted what they had. Suddenly the “they” became “we.” I have not had a drink since.

daily reflection: the gift of laughter

At this juncture, his A.A. sponsor usually laughs.

— TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 26

Before my recovery from alcoholism began, laughter was one of the most painful sounds I knew. I never laughed and I felt that anyone else’s laughter was directed at me! My self-pity and anger denied me the simplest of pleasures or lightness of heart. By the end of my drinking, not even alcohol could provoke a drunken giggle in me.

When my A.A. sponsor began to laugh and point out my self-pity and ego-feeding deceptions, I was annoyed and hurt, but it taught me to lighten up and focus on my recovery. I soon learned to laugh at myself and eventually I taught those I sponsor to laugh also. Every day I ask God to help me stop taking myself too seriously.

daily reflection: i’m not different

In the beginning, it was four whole years before A.A. brought permanent sobriety to even one alcoholic woman. Like the “high bottoms,” the women said they were different; . . . The Skid-Rower said he was different . . . so did the artists and the professional people, the rich, the poor, the religious, the agnostic, the Indians and the Eskimos, the veterans, and the prisoners. . . . nowadays all of these, and legions more, soberly talk about how very much alike all of us alcoholics are when we admit that the chips are finally down.

— AS BILL SEES IT, p. 24

I cannot consider myself “different” in A. A.; if I do I isolate myself from others and from contact with my Higher Power. If I feel isolated in A.A., it is not something for which others are responsible. It is something I’ve created by feeling I’m “different” in some way. Today I practice being just another alcoholic in the worldwide Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.

repost: a down week

Searching for Hope

I have had a very low week. I feel like the honeymoon phase of my sobriety has worn off and my meds have either not kicked in or need to be increased. I have an appointment with my psychiatrist on Tuesday. I would like to increase my dosage of Sertraline. I’ve been at 50mg a day for six weeks now. I know it takes quite a bit of time for it to really kick in. Sometimes longer than eight weeks. But I’m not feeling good. I felt positive when I ditched the booze but that has waned. I spent all day in bed sleeping a couple days ago. At least I’m not waking up with a hangover.

I’m back from my trip and the anxieties of my work have come back full strength. I was stressed before I left. Now there is an additional two weeks piled on my desk…

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repost: a day in the life of my PTSD

Recovery Round 2

So I’m currently suffering worse than I have in a long time with my PTSD. I’m working nights and mornings so I think I’m hiding it well but everyone expects someone with PTSD to be a quivering mess, I function, sometimes better than others but it’s still hard.

When I’m finally free to sleep, after all my work is done I check the doors and windows twice before going back to my room. I’m currently sleeping with a knife near my bed, I know that this is more dangerous should something happen but it makes me feel more in control. I leave the light on or one of the hall lights, something so I’m not in complete darkness, I need to know my surroundings. My heart will be racing and I try to calm myself for sleep. I lie there for a long time before I can sleep, i listen…

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repost: the spiritual malady

Don't Drink and Don't Die

Resentment is the “number one” offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease, for we have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick. When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically.

I have always felt that resentment was not my “number one” offender.  I think, for me, it’s been fear, and a kind of resentment turned inward.  I see resentment and fear and part of the same thing.  I do experience resentments though, for sure.  Just not quite as often as fear.

This quote, from page 64 of the Big Book, precedes the fourth step inventory.  It’s saying to me that if I can dig out my character defects, I can stay sober and live well.  And from where I sit, with 34 years of sobriety, I can stay sober, and I do…

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daily reflection: our paths are our own

. . . there was nothing left for us but to pick up the simple kit of spiritual tools laid at our feet.

— ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 25

My first attempt at the Steps was one of obligation and necessity, which resulted in a deep feeling of discouragement in the face of all those adverbs: courageously; completely; humbly; directly; and only. I considered Bill W. fortunate to have gone through such a major, even sensational, spiritual experience. I had to discover, as time went on, that my path was my own. After a few twenty-four hours in the A.A. Fellowship, thanks especially to the sharing of members in the meetings, I understood that everyone gradually finds his or her own pace in moving through the Steps. Through progressive means, I try to live according to these suggested principles. As a result of these Steps, I can say today that my attitude towards life, people, and towards anything having to do with God, has been transformed and improved.

daily reflection: the love in their eyes

Some of us won’t believe in God, others can’t, and still others who do believe that God exists have no faith whatever He will perform this miracle.

— TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 25

It was the changes I saw in the new people who came into the Fellowship that helped me lose my fear, and change my negative attitude to a positive one. I could see the love in their eyes and I was impressed by how much their “One Day at a Time” sobriety meant to them. They had looked squarely at Step Two and came to believe that a power greater than themselves was restoring them to sanity. That gave me faith in the Fellowship, and hope that it could work for me too. I found that God was a loving God, not that punishing God I feared before coming to A.A. I also found that He had been with me during all those times I had been in trouble before I came to A.A. I know today that He was the one who led me to A.A. and that I am a miracle.

daily reflection: commitment

Understanding is the key to right principles and attitudes, and right action is the key to good living.

— TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 125

There came a time in my program of recovery when the third stanza of the Serenity Prayer — “The wisdom to know the difference” — became indelibly imprinted in my mind. From that time on, I had to face the ever-present knowledge that my every action, word and thought was within, or outside, the principles of the program. I could no longer hide behind self-rationalization, nor behind the insanity of my disease. The only course open to me, if I was to attain a joyous life for myself (and subsequently for those I love), was one in which I imposed on myself an effort of commitment, discipline, and responsibility.

daily reflection: taking action

Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us — sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.

— ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p, 84

One of the most important things A.A. has given me, in addition to freedom from booze, is the ability to take “right action.” It says the promises will always materialize if I work for them. Fantasizing about them, debating them, preaching about them and faking them just won’t work. I’ll remain a miserable, rationalizing dry drunk. By taking action and working the Twelve Steps in all my affairs, I’ll have a life beyond my wildest dreams.

daily reflection: expectations vs. demands

Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone. The only condition is that he trust in God and clean house.

— ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 98

Dealing with expectations is a frequent topic at meetings. It isn’t wrong to expect progress of myself, good things from life, or decent treatment from others. Where I get into trouble is when my expectations become demands. I will fall short of what I wish to be and situations will go in ways I do not like, because people will let me down sometimes. The only question is: “What am I going to do about it?” Wallow in self-pity or anger; retaliate and make a bad situation worse; or will I trust in God’s power to bring blessings on the messes in which I find myself? Will I ask Him what I should be learning; do I keep on doing the right things I know how to do, no matter what; do I take time to share my faith and blessings with others?

daily reflection: we can’t think our way sober

To the intellectually self-sufficient man or woman, many A.A.’s can say, “Yes, we were like you — far too smart for our own good. . . . Secretly, we felt we could float above the rest of the folks on our brain power alone.”

— AS BILL SEES IT, p. 60

Even the most brilliant mind is no defense against the disease of alcoholism. I can’t think my way sober. I try to remember that intelligence is a God-given attribute that I may use, a joy—like having a talent for dancing or drawing or carpentry. It does not make me better than anyone else, and it is not a particularly reliable tool for recovery, for it is a power greater than myself who will restore me to sanity—not a high IQ or a college degree.