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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Posted on November 4, 2013, in Monday Meeting Miracles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. I was laughing when I read this because that page number (417) was hammered into me early on when I used to get upset about this, that and the other thing (or usually person). My sponsor and others always gently guided me to those pages 417-419. And to this day I love them. I need them tattooed to my forehead. The author, Dr Paul Ohliger, has written a few books since. I purchased one not too long ago but haven’t had a chance to read it yet. He also has some tapes floating around too.

    Anyway, as you mentioned, the idea of acceptance goes way beyond just understanding that we are alcoholics / addicts. This permeates all areas of my life and whether its the mail carrier, my boss, or the person who is playing music loudly on the subway, I have to see that things are exactly where they need to be, and that my playing God has never, nor will it ever, serve me. It doesn’t mean that I can’t change certain things (mainly my attitude towards those things or people). it doesn’t mean I am a door mat. Accepting is just that – accepting. Whethere it’s the dentist’s bill, a grim medical diagnosis, or a child acting out. It is where it’s supposed to be.

    And as for the golf analogy – I loved that one. Gonna steal it. (For the record, I love golf, but it hates me in return…oh what sweet sorrow!) I like the idea of playing the lie…that is a wonderful way of looking at things.

    Great post, Josie…thank you for this 🙂

    Blessings,
    Paul

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    • Hi Paul, I just finished reading your post, and I’m definitely sensing some similar themes. I can’t say I do it too much in “the rooms,” but all the other judgment, yeah, I’m right there. And if I am deeming them wrong, then I am deeming God’s handiwork wrong.

      I love when our thoughts/posts are on the same wavelength, that’s one way we know we are heading up the same mountain!

      Thanks for the comment, I’ll see you over at your blog!

      Like

  2. Love, love, love the ‘acceptance is the answer’ story. Like you, it kept coming into my life so often I finally was like ‘hm, maybe I need to hear this’. And now the message feels ingrained enough that I more easily notice when I’m feeling disturbed or bothered, which is a key step I often missed before.

    Really glad to see you passing it along here because it has hands down been the most helpful passage and lesson for me in recovery.

    Love the golf analogy too and I am totally sports impaired.

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  3. Hi Kristen, isn’t it just the best story? I think it would be helpful for anyone to read it, not just an alcoholic. And I’m with you on it being ingrained, I can so much more easily spot in myself when I am losing the battle of acceptance.

    Still, it was really meaningful to read it again, I could probably sit through a meeting like the one I had every month and it would not grow old!

    Oh, and, sports impaired does not begin to cover it. I just had a cousin say to me this weekend, “how could you have gotten this far in life and not know how many periods there are in hockey?”

    And the best part, I still don’t get why I need to know that information 🙂

    Thanks, as always, for the validation and comment, Kristen!

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  4. There’s something about “accepting God’s will” that takes the pressure off of us to “fix” things. Once I accept, I can take a huge breath and let it go. Thanks for your insightful posts.

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  5. On the other side of the chip, one of the reasons i love AA is, just as i do my best to be accepting, i feel that i am accepted. That sense of belonging and unconditional acceptance is one of the strongest pillars in my recovery!

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  6. “…bemoaning where the ball should be..” That really rings true and I think acceptance of certain people, places and things is the hardest thing for some of us. I guess it is a deliberate way of thinking. Well said.

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