Monthly Archives: November 2013

Monday Meeting Miracles: 11/25

My Monday meeting was a great one, despite the freezing weather!  There were eleven of us in total, one newcomer to the meeting, the rest were regular attendees.

Since today is the fourth Friday of the month, the literature selection is “Chairperson‘s Choice.”  I still laugh at this, as I am the sole chairperson of the meeting.  This morning’s selection was an article from the AA Grapevine, which is the International Journal Of Alcoholics Anonymous.  The article is entitled “Open 24 Hours,” and it chronicles the history of online AA meetings, the evolution of online participation in AA, and the similarities of virtual meetings to traditional “live” meetings.

I selected this article for two reasons.  First, and this is a little sad to admit, I had no idea that AA hosted meetings online!  The information I took away from the article was substantial, and so I figured I needed to check it out before I could write about it, so after my regular meeting I attended my first online meeting.  I went to www.aaonline.net, and, sure enough, there was a meeting to start within minutes!  I will talk about my experience with the online meeting in a bit.

The second reason I selected this article is that a lot of the positive experiences reported in it reminded me of my experience in our “blogosphere.”  I have read much in our community about people who came here because they wanted to stop drinking, and desired a supportive community, but were unwilling to look for help within their live communities.  The reasons are varied, from a fear of being labeled, philosophical differences of opinion with 12-step groups, or simple time management issues, there are many of us who want recovery but need the online community to be our primary resource.  What I did not realize is that you can participate in the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous virtually!  There are a variety of meetings online, just as there are in churches and clubhouses… there are discussion meetings, Big Book meetings, step meetings, to name just a few that I saw in my preliminary research.  And they seem to be run in a format very similar to live meetings:  there is a chairperson, they have a meeting format, there is an order to sharing, just like in regular meetings.  Best of all, you can just sit at your computer and read the interaction, if you just want the experience, but are fearful of sharing.

The online meeting was an interesting experience.  As a newcomer to both online meetings and chat rooms in general, I was unsure of the proper etiquette for sharing, and unfamiliar with some of the lingo used.  But within minutes I had the general hang of it, was able to participate in the discussion, and encourage others who participated.  In my online meeting, there were about 15 “attendees” who stayed for the entire hour, but many more “entered” and “exited” throughout the meeting.  The format was a topic meeting, there were two main points of discussion: how to handle the upcoming holidays, and how to determine if you are an alcoholic or just a problem drinker.  The people who shared were very candid about their sobriety, and equally candid about their certainty in terms of their alcoholism.  Some were completely uncertain, others were zealous in their belief that they had an incurable, progressive illness.  Everyone was respectful of one another’s opinion (an issue about which I worried when there were such differing viewpoints), and everyone seemed grateful for everyone else’s honesty.

For me, the online experience would be something I would seek out if I were in imminent need of a meeting and could not find one live; I would probably never look to switch over to online meetings exclusively, or even regularly.  I guess because I am somewhat entrenched, as it were, in my live 12-step community, I find it easier to follow the meetings when I can see and hear the people as they share, rather than waiting to read each sentence as they type it. However, for someone who is looking to get sober, but reluctant to go to a live meeting, I think the online meetings would be an amazing resource!  And I think that newly sober people will find an enormous amount of like-minded individuals all reaching for the same goal.

I would love to hear feedback from anyone else who has participated in online recovery, and how it has worked (or not) for you!

Today’s Miracle:

Finding new resources for staying sober, and sharing them with others, is a great way to expand my recovery tool box! 

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Roar

About 6 years ago, I was on a girl’s weekend with some of my female family members.  We spent a weekend at my cousin’s vacation home on an exclusive island off the coast of North Carolina (lucky her).  On that weekend, we took a boating trip (because, of course, what would a vacation home on an exclusive island be without a boat?), and many of the girls wanted to try their hand at tubing off the back.  There was an enormous tube that could easily hold 2 at a time, and it was attached to the back of the boat with a long rope.  Once the boat was in full gear, it was not unlike an amusement park ride…  except that you are not harnessed in.

Consequently, I was one of the least interested in taking this ride.

On the other hand, I am very susceptible to goading, and I received plenty of it from my cousins.  So I watched as, one by one, the girls jumped onto the tube, the boat would accelerate, and, like one of those bull rides in a honky-tonk bar, it would be a matter of seconds before they would go flying off the tube into the water.  Exhilarating for them (I assume, since they would jump right back onto the tube to try again), more and more anxiety-producing for me.  Finally, it was my turn, as I could take the nagging no longer, and I got myself situated.  I asked one of the veterans, “any advice?” and she said, “hang on, and don’t let go, no matter what.”

Sounds ridiculous, but those words were like a mantra as the boat sped up.  And hang on I did, I was the first and only to not fall off the tube for an entire ride.  To this day I remember the feeling:  arms aching, wind and water stinging my face, boat motor roaring through my ears, waves bouncing the tube, and me, like a popcorn kernel in the microwave bag, but I knew if I just “hung on, no matter what,” I would get to the other side.

Sometimes, when I think of parenting my children during this time of their lives (13 and 11), I am reminded of the feeling I had on that tube.  There is a barrage of issues, both large and small, when it comes to raising children.  It’s not a question of whether or not there will be waves, it’s a question of how often they hit, and how big the waves will be.

In recovery, it is often said that sometimes the only thing you can do in a given day is not drink, and that is a huge accomplishment.  I often feel the same way about parenting:  sometimes the best thing I can say about my job as a mother is that both kids have made it through the day intact, that they are in one piece and under the same roof as me when we go to bed.  And I feel as grateful for that as I do for not taking a drink that day.

I wrote last week of the struggles I am having with my daughter and her varsity basketball team.  This struggle, I assume, will continue for the rest of the season, and the best thing I can say about it is that it is a learning experience for both my daughter and me, and an opportunity to have a dialogue about her feelings.

Yesterday I faced an issue with my son: a problem with a fellow student, who lied to school authorities to keep himself out of trouble.  Now my son is being judged for doing something he did not do.  It would not be worth the time it would take to write out all of the nuances of this story, but where it becomes an issue for me is that at the end of it, my son was made to apologize for something he did not do, and the boy in question had no repercussions whatsoever.  In other words, they believed the troublemaker, and blamed the victim.

So here I sit, The Least Confrontational Person in the World, and now I have to take on the Principal of my son’s school.

Something tells me that this tube ride is going to take a bit longer than the one I described at the beginning of this post.  God willing, I will have the same feeling of excitement and accomplishment at the end.

I will, of course, provide an update when I have one.

Today’s Miracle:

As I was running this issue around in my mind in the car this morning, Katy Perry’s Roar came on the radio.  Which, of course, is not a miracle by itself, since that song comes on every 3 minutes.  But the opening words caught my attention, I had never listened to more than the chorus before:

I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath
Scared to rock the boat and make a mess
So I sat quietly, agreed politely
I guess that I forgot I had a choice
I let you push me past the breaking point
I stood for nothing, so I fell for everything

I am taking this as a sign:  time to stand up and roar!

Monday Meeting Miracles: 11/18

I need to come up with a new way of saying that my Monday meeting was fantastic, because I fear I’m getting repetitive.  It was fantastic, 12 people, it seems these days that even when a regular attendee does not show up, I will have a newcomer to take his or her place.  Here’s what was cool about today’s meeting.  It is the third Monday of the month, which means a reading from the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.  Because it is November, we read the chapter dedicated to Step Eleven:  sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.  Of course I know this is what we are going to be reading, and so I have been considering how I am faring with this step in my everyday life, and I find that I am comfortable with the prayer portion of the step, but still feeling very weak in the meditation part.  I have written about my struggles with meditation several times in the past, and I don’t feel as if I have progressed very far in this department.

Back to the meeting.  I am contemplating what I will be sharing, and I am focusing on what I can say about my struggles with meditation, and a car pulls into the parking lot that I do not recognize.  Out of the car steps a gentleman I have not seen in at least 6 months, maybe more, named Brian.  And, of course, it is always so wonderful to reconnect with someone you have not seen in a while, but here’s what is amazing:  the last I saw Brian he was attempting to start a meeting in the same club house I run my meeting.  And that meeting was to be a moving meditation meeting. He wound up shutting down the meeting due to a lack of participation, but how fortuitous is it that as I am gearing up to talk about my lack of progress in meditation, he drives into the parking lot!

So of course I needed to share this serendipity with him and the other early birds to the meeting, and we had a fascinating discussion about the benefits and practical application of meditation in everyday life.  It turns out that two other early birds are well-read on the subject, and I was able to learn so much from them in the 20 minutes before the meeting even started!

Now, when a meeting is that interesting and it hasn’t even started yet, you know it’s only going to get better, and it did not disappoint.  The other attendees had just as great things to share, both on meditation, and step eleven in general.  Here are some of my take-aways:

  • Meditation is a process, and therefore takes time, patience, and practice; the results are cumulative.  The goal is not for a white-light moment; rather, it is a slow and steady shift in perception that, over time, leads to a substantive increase in peace and serenity
  • It is beneficial to establish a routine:  create a spot in your home that brings you peace, and intend for that spot to be a place where you will meditate daily
  • Meditation is about the absence of judgment.  So whatever comes into your mind, let it come in and go out, negatively judging it will only lead to resistance in meditation
  • Keep it simple.  Forget about all the fancy clothes, incense, music, and whatever else is associated with meditation.  Be still, be quiet, focus on breathing in and out.  Keep that up, and you will find yourself meditating as surely as those in the cloistered monasteries all over the world!

… At least that was what I was told.  I committed to the group that I would designate a spot (which I have), and I will attempt to sit quietly in that spot for a few minutes each day, and see what happens.  I am still toying with the time of day to do this, but for now I will try different times to see what yields the best results.  I am hopeful that this new information will help me to make some serious progress, and I will check in at some point and let you know how it goes!

Today’s Miracle:

An absolutely gorgeous day on the East Coast, warm weather that is unheard of in mid-November.  I will appreciate it while I can!

Mean Girls

I have had one of those full-circle moments that I want to share with all of you, I will try to tell this tale as concisely as is possible for me to do (read:  not possible at all, this will in all likelihood ramble!).  So, here it goes:

Yesterday was my birthday, a glorious day from beginning to end.  Lots of well wishes, shopping, eating, merriment, presents.  I couldn’t ask for anything more, and I am one who LOVES my birthday.  A heart-felt thanks to all who helped make it so special.  But, back to the story:  in the middle of the day, I attended a basketball game for my daughter’s middle school varsity team.  I am specifying, because she is also on a travel basketball team, and has been for the past 5 years.  But the team I watched yesterday is a school league, and varsity at that.  So for the non-sports-inclined readers (a club for which I could be the President), varsity teams take themselves very seriously, and if you are not the best of the best, your role will be primarily to sit on the bench and cheer for your team mates.  And so, with the exception of about 45 seconds, I got to watch my daughter cheer her team mates on (to a huge loss, might I add, and I could write a separate post on my opinion of the coach’s decisions).

So, not the most fun hour of the day.  Meanwhile, I sat next to a parent whom I have known for years.  Her daughter, who was very close friends with my daughter in elementary school (please note the tense of the verb in this sentence), falls into the category (at least according to their coach) of “the best of the best,” played the whole time (and, please remember, we had a stunning loss at the end of this game).  By no means would I say that this mother and I are friends, at least not by my definition of the word, but we have always been friendly, and, as I said, we have known each other for years.  She is the type of woman who I like to think of as a “back door bragger.”  What I mean by this is that she is the type to speak in a self-deprecating way, but her real goal is to sneak an accolade in the back door.  For example, she is ostensibly telling the story of how she had to put her foot down with her daughter, but through the course of telling the story she “slipped in” how she stayed for an hour after practice to help decorate the locker of another player.  I’m sure you know the type.  Not really the point of the story, but I wanted to set up the backdrop for what is coming.

At the conclusion of the game for which her daughter played the entire time (And did I mention we had a huge loss?  I’m not sure if I brought that up yet or not), she turned to me and said, “I feel so bad for Reilly (my daughter).  She is certainly one of the better players in the second string, and she just has no one to play to, so she must be frustrated.”

Honestly, I’m not sure what I said to that, in the actual moment.  As I recall the story, it is enshrouded in the red haze of rage, but I’m sure I was polite and switched topics, and we left the game cordially.

I will get back to this, but there is more to tell to get to the full-circle moment.  During my kid’s dinner I am speaking with my daughter, who is understandably frustrated by the coach’s decision not to switch players out, particularly when we are losing so badly.  She remarks to me that had she known it would be like this, she would have quit the team.

Okay, fast forward a couple of hours.  I have what qualifies is my mind as the ultimate in luxurious evenings:  a night out, with my husband, at a romantic restaurant, fireplace roaring right behind us, delicious food, and a couple of hours of uninterrupted conversation.  We got to talk about everything and nothing, and it was glorious.  The kind of night that, had you told me a few years ago would be possible without the aid of a few bottles of wine, I would have thought impossible.  Miraculous!

Through the course of the evening, we are talking about my daughter, and how we worry that her innocence and silliness might be a detriment to her as she approaches High school.  My position is that, although her maturity may be on the lower end for girls her age, why are we wishing it away?  The good far outweighs the bad, at least from the parental perspective.  And I tick off the various ways that we are so blessed to have a child so innocent and pure of heart at the age of 13:  we do not have to worry about alcohol consumption, sexual situations, or any of the other craziness that often comes with the age.  Now, that may all change tomorrow, but for now, why not celebrate the blessings, rather than fret about the possible downfalls?

We move on to my description of the basketball game, and I share the story of what the woman said to me.  My husband knows her just as well, he is the coach of the travel league, and this woman’s daughter has been on this same team with him for the past 5 years.  He is also offended by her comment, and we talk about it at length.

The night moves on, I come home and have yet another birthday celebration with my children, more presents, more merriment.  The night comes to a close, and we go to bed.

I had a fitful night’s sleep (now this may also have to do with quality and quantity of the celebratory food I ate, but that will have to wait for another post!), and I woke up and recalled the disturbing dreams I had, and I realized that I am really bothered by this whole basketball thing.  So at breakfast I sat down with my daughter and husband, and we talked at length about her feelings of frustration, and I tried to show her a new way of looking at the situation.  Rather than think it’s a waste, see it an opportunity to learn, the physical activity, the team bonding, and the ability to improve her game for her travel team.  My husband speaks more to the competitive side of sports, and points out this is a realistic progression as she gets older.  She leaves for school, I feel better, but still have some low-level agitation.  I speak to my husband about it, he suggests I write about it.  I say, “Great idea, but I need to figure out what I’m upset about before I can write about it.”

So I take some time and sit and puzzle out what’s not yet resolved for me.  And then I have my eureka moment:  what I’m still bothered about is my reaction, or lack thereof, to that woman’s offensive comments.  Why did I not respond in some way to her comments that Reilly is second string?

So I explore further… what did I initially think when she said it?  And the honest truth of it is this:  in the moment, I had an inkling that what she was saying was offensive, but my naive mind thought, “No, it couldn’t be, no one would say anything like that to your face.  You must be misunderstanding.”  Sounds so idiotic, but that’s the truth.  My own “innocence,” as it were, refused to believe that someone would be snarky like that for no real reason.

And I am frustrated as hell with myself that I did not catch it quicker, and did not handle the situation better.  I feel like a chump.

But I can’t write, “I feel like a chump,” I need to find some kind of solution, or at least a different way of looking at things, before I can write about it.  And I get quiet again to think where the progression of this post could go.  And I have my second eureka moment:  I flash back to the conversation I had with my husband last night about my daughter.  How I said that yes, it can be frustrating when she is silly and goofy and immature, especially in comparison to other 13-year-old girls, but the good far outweighs the bad, so celebrate the blessings.

So it is with me.  My naiveté is known far and wide within my circle of family and friends, there are humorous tales of my innocence that have been in circulation for years.  I guess the apple does not fall far from the tree, in terms of my daughter.  So I can get frustrated with myself for not picking up faster that this woman is an adult version of a mean girl, and for not being quicker on the draw with a comeback (or at the very least defending my daughter, but really what I wanted to do was give her a little dose of her own medicine and point out that the first string LOST THE GAME), or I can be grateful that my mind does not work that way, that I am more inclined to think of the good, rather than cynically waiting for the bad.

I am a work in progress on this one.  That last eureka moment only happened a short while ago, and I am already wanting to slide back down the rabbit hole of beating myself up, and coming up with all the zingers I wished I had had at the ready yesterday.  But at least I had the eureka moment, and I can talk back to those insecure feelings!

Today’s Miracle:

That I am blessed with this blogging community, which gives me the ability to work through mental challenges.  If not for this blog, I would still be sitting in agitation, and not have the outlet to work through it!

Straining at Gnats and Swallowing Camels

I am getting quite the late start in writing this post, to the point where I almost opted not write it, but we had such a good meeting this morning, I wanted to share it with all of you.

I wrote last week that a newer attendee of my meeting was celebrating 26 years of sobriety, and opted to share her celebration with my Monday morning group.  I was both honored and humbled by this decision… I would imagine that after 26 years of attending meetings, there are all sorts of options available to her, so it means a  lot to me that she chose my itty-bitty meeting!  She brought some people with her, which will hopefully mean more future attendees!

So, first, there is always such joy in announcing an anniversary.  You can feel the collective pride in the room, as if it were a separate entity, and it never fails to amaze me. I asked her to select the reading for this week, and she selected a chapter entitled “Watching Out For Anger and Resentment,” a topic that any alcoholic/addict should contemplate/read/discuss on a regular basis.

Now the only catch in her selection is that we had read this exact chapter last month when it was time to read from this particular book, so we all heard each other’s thoughts on the subject.  For me, especially, as the first to share, I struggled to find something new to say that I hadn’t talked about 4 weeks ago.  But, as in all recovery literature, something new pops out each time I read it,and, as usual, I gained some new insight on the chapter that I shared with the group, as did every person in the room (which is the best part of the smaller meeting!).

The best takeaway for me came from a gentleman who just returned to the meeting (he had been taking an academic course on Monday mornings, and now the course is over).  He has a decent amount of sober time, and he shared that what he looks out for the most in this stage of his sobriety is not the large, dramatic resentments, but the small, petty little annoyances that come up with a much greater frequency.  If he does not handle them, promptly and effectively, they will pile up and disrupt his serenity as surely as one rage-producing issue.   At this point he referenced a bible passage, reportedly quite common (although you can’t prove it by me, I’ve never heard of it!), which is the title of this post.

This share hit me like a ton of bricks, because it describes me perfectly.  Most of the other people at the meeting talked about starting their road to recovery with so much anger they couldn’t see straight.  But this idea of straining at gnats but swallowing camels… this is something to which I can relate.  The big giant issues in life, the crises, the dramatic moments, I can be as cool as a cucumber.  But put me behind a driver who is breaking the “Road Etiquette According to Josie,” and I completely lose it.  Prior to this morning’s meeting, I would just shrug off the road rage as one of my peccadilloes, but now I will look at it in a new light, and do my best to improve my reactions.  Because enough frustration at the idiot drivers on the road, enough disgust at the flawed customer service in any given store, enough annoyance at the repeated mistakes of my children, could lead me back to a mind-altering substance.  When viewed from that perspective, it seems almost ridiculous not to get a grip!

Today’s Miracle:

Well, technically it’s not for a few hours, but what the hell… Happy Birthday to me on the 12th, and what a miracle it is to be celebrating another sober birthday!

My Friend Jerry

In the earliest days of our friendship, Jerry and I bonded over a shared love of this show.  Now, we pass that love on to our respective children!

I am back to another chapter in the series “Friends Who Stick By Troubled Friends.”  As I mentioned in my last post on this subject, I am writing this series in the sequence with which old friends came back into my life as I began my journey of recovery.

So now I shall tell you the story of my friendship with Jerry.  Another friendship of about a quarter century, Jerry and I met in Marketing 201 our sophomore year in college.  I came to find out that we had mutual friends, but for whatever reason did not connect our freshman year.  No matter, what we missed out in terms of friendship that year we more than made up for the following three years.  I pretty much followed Jerry around like a puppy, and am grateful to this day that he allowed me to do so.  As soon as my friendship with Jerry took root, my college experience blossomed in ways it never would have without him.  All of the sudden, the parts of campus life I had never even considered before meeting him… student government, residence life, social life with sports teams… all of these quintessential college activities became written into my life story.  When I think back to my college experience, I do so with a huge smile… my college life was a blast.  I owe almost all of those experiences to my friend Jerry.

By the time I was a senior in college, I intended to be a lawyer, and had completed the checklist in pursuit of that goal.  I had taken the law school preparatory exam, was admitted entrance into a law school, and had made those announcements to my family and friends.  But, in the meantime, I had been slowly gaining an interest in the job I currently held as a Resident Advisor at my college.  It was my friend Jerry who helped me make the first giant life-changing decision I had ever made:  instead of attending law school, I changed direction, and made plans to pursue a Master’s in education.  I still get butterflies when I think of the courage it took me to make that change.  I remember sitting down with my Dad to explain it to him, hastily taking another set of entrance exams, applying to an entirely different school, and many other smaller changes that added up to a whole new future.  If it were not for Jerry, I would be on an entirely different path right now.

Because, in the midst of those changes, some miracles came into being, I was able to stay on the campus and work at my undergraduate university while pursuing my Master’s.  In so doing, I was able to meet, befriend, date, and ultimately marry the love of my life, and subsequently live the life I am living today.  When I trace the path backwards, it all begins with Jerry, and his tremendous influence.

But I digress!  In the meantime, Jerry and I continued our friendship, and our education, as we each pursued our Master’s.  It was at this stage in our lives that we were truly inseparable.  We worked together, we took classes together, we studied together, and we spent our leisure time together.  Usually that meant watching television, as we both held jobs in residence life, taking care of a college campus.  Golden Girls, Empty Nest, ER, Knots Landing… when I see anything related to any of those shows, I think of Jerry and smile.

Through all of the stress of getting our degrees, through weddings, funerals, work dramas, through thick and thin, Jerry and I were there for each other.  Jerry was standing right next to me when I got the phone call that my Dad had a heart attack.  He followed me to the hospital, was there when they pronounced him dead, and practically lived with me through the week we arranged his funeral.  And that is just one of many big life experiences that we shared.  We developed a short-hand vocabulary to let each other know when we were in crisis.  For example, “taking out the insurance policy,” to this day means “I need to tell you something in the utmost of confidence, and I need your complete attention, stat!”  Through the course of 25 years, I have taken out quite a few of those polices, and written a few as well!

So you would think, with all this background, it would have been a very simple process… “Hey Jerry, I need to take out the insurance policy, because I’m having some issues with addiction.”  No, sadly, it did not go this way at all.  Poor Jerry was one of the friends I kept completely in the dark throughout my active addiction.  I did my utmost to put on a good show for him, and have him believe all was well and good, and I was fairly successful with that charade for a time.

I still have a lot of shame in admitting this next part:  I was not the one to tell Jerry about my problems with addiction.  My husband, in his desperation, reached out to Jerry, as they were friends for all this time as well.  I think I was about 3 weeks sober when it occurred to me that I had not reached out to Jerry, and something in my gut told me that my husband may have already spilled the beans.  Coward that I was, I sent a text, and asked Jerry if he had spoken to Dan.  One word reply:  Yes.  Oh boy, I can still remember the feeling I had when I got that reply.  I arranged a time for us to speak on the phone, and I couldn’t sit still for hours before that phone call.  And it was as awkward, and painful, as ever a conversation I have had with Jerry, and hope to God I will never have again.  He was still, weeks later, in a state of shock… how could this have happened, and he not know about it?  How could I have done this to my husband, my children, my friends?  How can he ever trust me again?

And, another miracle:  through his pain, his confusion, his anger, he continued to talk to me.  He said he didn’t know what to do for me, but he wanted to try to figure it out.  Most important, he was willing to stick with me through this crisis.  And did he ever, we talked more in those next few weeks than we had in years, and he applauded every milestone I hit.  When I started this blog, I believe he was my third follower, and still reads every post I publish (won’t he be surprised when he reads today’s?).

If you are very, very fortunate in life, you will meet a person that you know, deep down, will have your back no matter what.  Jerry is that person for me… no matter what happens, if I need something, he will be there, no questions asked… especially if I take out the insurance policy.

Today’s Miracle:

Being able to replay a 25-year old friendship, and write it down for the world to witness, is a miracle and a blessing!

Expectations: Premeditated Resentments

Another Monday, another fantastic Monday 12-step meeting.  Here are just a few reasons why it was so great:

  1. Based on last week’s discussion, I believed this was to be a smaller meeting, and, these days, a smaller meeting is 10 people.   Last year at this time 10 attendees would have been a dream come true!
  2. A woman who has recently become a regular attendee announced that next Monday she will be celebrating 26 years in the Fellowship, so I get to have another celebration next week!
  3. And, last but certainly not least, it is the first Monday of the month, so I got to choose a reading from the Big Book (Alcoholics Anonymous).  I decided since I am starting year two I would select the very first reading I ever used at this meeting, a chapter entitled Acceptance Was The Answer.  It is, by far, my favorite chapter in the Big Book.

The story I selected has special significance to my sobriety.  When I was newly sober, I went to meetings that featured this story 4 different times in as many weeks.  For those reading who do not regularly attend 12-step meetings, this is highly unusual; in fact, since that time, I have not heard this story in a meeting again, unless I am the one choosing it!  So there I was, newly sober, life in chaos, marriage a shambles, and this story keeps popping up.  The first time I heard it was day one of sobriety (literally), and I’m not sure I was able to retain anything.  The second time I heard it, I noticed that the writing style was excellent, the tone very humorous, which I always appreciate, and the writer references a dual addiction, something to which I could relate.  The third time I heard it, I started paying more attention to actual message of the story, and believed the man to  be not only a good writer, but to also have a lot of wisdom.  The fourth time I realized I was at a meeting where this story was to be read, the light bulb finally went off in my head, and I actually had the thought, “Maybe this story keeps getting repeated because there is something for me personally to learn.”  When I read the story with that thought in mind, I was flabbergasted… this was why the story kept getting repeated!  I needed to truly grasp the idea of acceptance.

So this story is significant for me personally because it was the first time I recognized that God speaks to me directly, I just need to open my mind and heart to what He is saying to me.

The critical paragraph in the chapter, the one that is oft-repeated in the 12-step Fellowship that I participate, reads:

And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation—some fact of my life —unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.

-pg. 417, Alcoholics Anonymous

I know I have quoted this paragraph before in my blog, but it is one that bears repeating.  Acceptance has become the answer for me in so many different ways.  First, I needed to accept that I am an alcoholic and an addict.  Once I did that, I began living in the solution, rather than the problem.  But acceptance goes so much further than sobriety… the minute I am out of sorts about anything, big or small, I am allowing expectations to override my serenity, and those feelings are like a snowball hurtling down a mountain… before I know it, I am dealing with an avalanche of resentments!

The best part of the meeting for me was the analogy that one gentleman made.  He said when he was a young boy, he was a golf caddy at a country club, and they had “summer rules” and “winter rules” for the game.  The summer rules were that you had to “play the ball as it lies.”  He said when he gets upset about any condition in his life, usually one that he cannot control, he remembers this analogy, and tries to live life on life’s terms.  When he remembers to do this, life goes a lot smoother.

In the past week I have not been playing the ball as it lies.  Instead, I have let myself get caught up in self-righteously bemoaning where I think the ball should be, how different elements have gotten in the way of my ball, and how, if things were as they should be, I would have had a hole in one.  And we all know the outcome of that attitude, and the outcome is anything but peaceful and serene.

So now, with a new week upon us, I am going to play my ball as it lies, and see where it gets me!

Today’s Miracle:

If you knew how little I knew about sports, the fact that I could make a sports analogy, even with help, is a miracle!  I know at least one golf lover that is reading this and smiling!

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