Posts tagged Step 12

Practicing

My husband was a little embarassed by that last posting.  He thought I was just bragging about him and didn’t initially see that what I was focused on is my gratitude for all of his hard work and how just doing what’s in front of us to do helps us make progress.  The programs tell us this, and it’s up to us to take the action.

I’m happy to report that after the nine assignments, tests and presentations that were due last week and the three interviews, I have good news and more gratitude.  A few hours after my third interview on Saturday I was offered a practicum position!  It’s located closest to home and school, and it will have more than enough hours for me to finish my masters degree on time!  I may even be able to finish a little early.  And we have two more contracts signed to start this week and another bid to do.  Okay so obviously I’m stuck on a theme this week.  This is all the result of our Higher Powers taking care of everything while we focus on the tasks before us each day.  There were a few moments in the past week when a little fear flashed across my screen tempting me to doubt.  I think my husband had a round with it too.  But for both of us it was fleeting.  And fear didn’t stop either of us from doing what needed to be done.

There was a time where it would have been easy to grab onto that fear and ride it out to the unpleasant state of lack of serenity and insanity.  No thanks.  Not interested.  Nor does that mean that we can get cocky and arrogant about our blessings and good fortune to date.  It was only a month and a half ago that we didn’t know how we would pay the bills.  We’re making good progress, and we have more to do.  Sometimes I still feel like such a beginner.  When we are out of debt, then we will celebrate in a big way.  Meanwhile, we have small celebrations, hugs, prayers of gratitude, passing on any jobs we aren’t capable of doing to others in our network of friends and colleagues.  And we’re doing our best to carry the message and practice the principles of the program in all areas of our lives, daily.

Affirmation for the Day – ” I am practicing the principles daily. ”

Remember to say the affirmation at least 3 times whenever you remember it, preferably in front of a mirror.

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Being Openminded

The story of how Lois Wilson started Alanon will be televised on Sunday.  Many in the 12 Step programs are looking forward to learning more about her journey.

Four months after finding Alanon, I went to my first closed AA meeting – because I belonged there too.  That was 25 years and 1 month ago.  Thank God I wasn’t too closed minded to consider that perhaps it would be helpful for me to look into another 12 Step program. 

Back then, there was a lot of opinion bandied about by the members in both AA and Alanon about the “other group’s” members.  Much of the opinion was gender based.  One day after arriving early for an AA meeting, a jolly older man – an oldtimer –  looked over at me and said, “I think you’re in the wrong meeting little lady.”  I smiled and assured him I was right where I belonged.  He meant well.  It just hadn’t occurred to him that a nice looking young woman could be wanting what AA had to offer.  In the earlier days of the program it seemed that most oldtimers suffered for many more years before reaching the same conclusion that some of us younger people were just blessed enough to be realizing much sooner.  Before we had as much to lose.  And if it weren’t for those oldtimers who were there to welcome us, unexpected as some of us were, we couldn’t be passing it on to the newcomers today.  Many of us showed up so much sooner because of those oldtimers “carrying the message” in the 12th Step.  I hope all 12 Step program members have an open mind to the value in all of our journeys, no matter what “side” of the programs we seem to be on.  It seems to fit in with the principles of the program.  I’m looking forward to learning more.

Affirmation for the Day – ” I am keeping an open mind.”

Remember to say the affirmation at least 3 times whenever you remember it, preferably in front of a mirror.

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Keep Coming Back – It Works

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Outside a meeting hall recently, a 20 something year old man introduced himself to me, then asked, “So how many times have you relapsed?”  Surprised, I gently replied, ” None – did you know you never have to use again? ”    He looked at me a little quizically and asked, ” How long have you been sober?”  His eyes opened wide when I told him,” 24 years.”  The surprise on his face made me feel a little sad.

In our local recovery community there seems to be an unusually wide spread expectation of failure in sobriety among many newcomers.  This is a new phenomena to me.  When traveling for business, I attended meetings all over the United States.  At none of those meeting halls did I hear people focus conversation on an expectation of relapse – a fear of it, yes – but not an expectation of it.  It’s become so prevalent here that two months ago I asked another sober person of several years if he’s noticed the same preoccupation.  He has, and thinks it may have to do with the fact there are so many treatment facilities where we live that families and the courts intervene earlier, before people have really hit bottom.  Perhaps, but I don’t buy it.

Unless those of us with more years in recovery keep coming back and sharing our experience strength and hope, the newcomers don’t have the same examples we had to see that it works.  What I’ve been taught is we have a sacred responsibility, obligation and opportunity to pass on the principles of the program as they were passed on to us by the old timers – Step 12.  Many of us came to the program earlier in our drinking/drugging careers and didn’t have to lose as much as the old timers of our day, because they told their stories.  I was in my 20’s.  Now I’m not – it’s been 24 years of sobriety for me in AA.  It’s been the same number of years for me in Alanon – I only wish my serenity and sanity as an Alanon member was as consistent as my sobriety. 

When I was a newcomer, AA meetings opened with “Let’s begin with a moment of silence for the alcoholic who still suffers followed by the Serenity prayer.”  They all ended with “Keep coming back.  It works,” sometimes adding “…if you work it.”  That opening and closing are rarely said in meetings here now – maybe I just need to try some new meetings.  Sometimes people begin with a moment of silence, but they forget to add that it’s for the alcoholic who still suffers.  There, but for the Grace of God go I. 

Recently, our attention was drawn to a seeming absence at some meetings of people welcoming the newcomer.  Could the lack of extending ourselves to newcomers at meetings be part of the cause of this preoccupation with relapse?  If I hadn’t felt such a  warm welcome from our fellows at my first meetings, I may not have returned.  It was scarey, and the people in meetings were “different.”  We need to remember our fellows – sisters and brothers – who haven’t made it to the program yet, or who’ve gone back out.  As a sponsee reminded me, the 12th Step keeps us sober, sane and serene – a true miracle of the 12 steps.  We can follow the example set for us and make it a point to reach out warmly to newcomers at every meeting. 

And, I needed to be told to keep coming back, it works.  I had no hope – only desperation.  When people said it worked, that gave me the little bit of potential hope for something better to keep my interest.  At my first meeting I told all of the men I didn’t like them very much.  When I finished the male trusted servant said, “Just keep coming back. We’re glad you’re here.”  That made me mad.  But, it also made me curious because they still wanted me there despite my upset with them.  What kind of people were they?!

I’m grateful the oldtimers in AA and Alanon gave me that simple direction at the end of every meeting.  I was willing to do what I was told, to follow directions – desperation works that way.  Thank God, so many of us do keep coming back.  God has since blessed me with sponsees willing to work the 12 Steps, and now they can work the 12th Step with other newcomers.   That’s the miracle of how the program works. 

So, all of you out there – keep coming back!

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Affirmation for the Day – ” I am being of service to God and my fellows.”

Remember to say the affirmation at least 3 times whenever you remember it, preferably in front of a mirror.

Course In Miracles Lesson – I rest in God.

Practice – I rest in God.

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