Monday Meeting Miracles: 12/30

The last meeting of 2013!  Attendance was lighter than usual (8 people), but I attribute it to holiday commitments (at least, I hope so!).

Today being the 5th Monday of the month, I selected a group of readings from the book As Bill Sees It.  This book is set up topically; today I selected the topic “temptation,” mainly because this time of year presents many temptations for the recovering alcoholic.

The lines that stood out for me in today’s readings were:

…any scheme of combating alcoholism which proposes wholly to shield the sick man from temptation is doomed to failure. If the alcoholic tries to shield himself he may succeed for a time, but he usually winds up with a bigger explosion than ever. We have tried these methods. These attempts to do the impossible have always failed. Release from alcohol, and not flight from it, is our answer.

~Alcoholics Anonymous, pg. 101

It stood out to me because of my recent experiences, which I wrote about here.  As much as I mentally prepared for the holidays, being back with the people, places and things that I associate with my active addiction had an impact on me.  Temptation might be a bit stronger of a word that I would use for my personal circumstances, but it did affect me, and I was grateful to have a new set of skills with which to cope.

So for me, the words above hold true:  I did not, and I do not, need to avoid alcohol, because I have been blessed with release from the obsession.  Of course, that release is wholly dependent upon my maintaining my spiritual fitness, but what a blessing it is to be able to be with family and friends, eat at restaurants, shop in stores, and feel comfortable that I can remain sober!

It is hard to describe what the release feels like.  Possibly the best example I can give is the thought process, so let me set the stage:  a celebration attended by family and friends, all people with whom I once drank.  Most of them are drinking, a few (including myself) are not, but when the thought occurs, I am noticing only the people who are drinking.  So the thoughts would go something like this:

“Isn’t that drink pretty?  I bet it’s delicious.  Remember what that used to taste like?  Remember how it used to feel?  Wouldn’t it be fun to feel that way again?”

…Or something to that effect.  Truthfully, the thoughts are way too fast for me to really record them properly.

In the past, the old me would have done one of three things when these thoughts arose:

  1. Drank, because dammit, I’m an adult and no one is going to tell me what to do
  2. Not drink, but be miserable for the rest of the celebration
  3. Not drink, but let those thoughts linger until a time arose when I could chemically alter myself in private

Here’s how the thought process ends for me now that I have been given a release from the obsession:

“The drink is pretty, but, let’s face it, you never drank for taste.  It may have felt good for an extremely short period, but you ALWAYS drank past that, and the bad feelings were more intense, and lasted way longer, than any good feelings that might or might not have been produced.  Finally, and most importantly, you will give up your sobriety.”

It is the last part of playing the tape through that seems most miraculous to me.  Whereas I once lived by the motto, “tomorrow is a new day,” now the thought of giving up my sober time genuinely twists my stomach.  I believe this shift in perspective is God-given, and I am grateful for it every day.

Another attendee had a spin on the readings that fascinated me, and has me thinking about my own choices.  For her, the temptation is to remain set in restrictions she put upon herself in early sobriety, because it has been effective in keeping her sober.  But she realizes now that in limiting herself, she is denying personal growth, and so she needs to push herself to reach out more to family and friends, so that she can continue her journey of self-development.  It was a perspective on temptation that I never considered… the temptation to grow complacent, and I will be taking some time to consider how I have given in to that temptation.  Probably more to follow on this subject as I ponder!

Everyone else had insightful things to share, from tips on refusing alcohol at parties, to dealing with the stress of family during the holidays.  As always, I leave the meeting a better person than when I walked in!

Today’s Miracle:

The joy I feel in wishing all my friends in the blogosphere a wonderful, miraculous New Year‘s!  I look forward to learning from all of you in 2014!

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Posted on December 30, 2013, in Monday Meeting Miracles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Happy new year Josie! I love how you describe the really fast thought process that runs through our mind when we feel tempted. What a relief when we are able to see through the BS. This season is so trying, you know? Im ready to get to the unfestive drudgery of January, never thought I’d say that back in November. I’m proud of how you handled new territory in old people, places, and things and really glad you wrote about it here.

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    • Great minds think alike, Kristen, because I was just thinking the same thing… I am really looking forward to being back on a schedule! I have been eating crazily and being sedentary for a solid week now, and I am really feeling it! Time to go back to the Couch to 5K, I will be emailing for support in a few days!

      Happy New Year to you, and let’s shoot for another get together to break up dreary January!

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  2. Great post Josie – really loved it. I think that you really are wise with this topic. Like you, having the obsession means I don’t think about booze all day and all night, but yeah, a thought drifts in now and then. Can’t help it. I am not in control of my thoughts, but like you showed so wonderfully, I am in control of my reaction to them. And also, even though the obsession has been lifted, doesn’t mean that I am willy-nilly with my sobriety too. When things get a bit dicey for me, I split. I mean, I wouldn’t work at the liquor store. Why do that? Or go to a big piss up. Or something that I don’t need to be at, or where I find I might be living vicariously through others. The BB warns us about the latter. I check my motives.

    Parties are parties, and they happen this time of year like mad…that’s why so many of us have troubles. But I learned that I needed to stay away from all that early in my recovery. Temptation (or however else you want to describe it) will be there in some small rumbling at times. But knowing our truth, our experience…well, that’s the real juice and I think that God has some say in that 🙂

    Happy New Year, Josie – I am looking forward from learning from YOU in the new year.

    Blessings and hugs,
    Paul

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    • I just posted on your blog, and I am still chuckling over my word of the year for you, hope you laugh as well! I am glad that you point out here (and on Maggie’s post as well) the importance of removing yourself from temptation in early sobriety. It is one of the most important changes we must make in the first challenging days/weeks/months, whatever it takes!

      Thanks, Paul, and, once again, Happy New Year!

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  3. This was a great post Josie. I go to Monday meetings as well, but wish mine were as enlightening as yours. I’m just looking forward to the day when alcohol isn’t in my thoughts constantly. I’m not tempted at all, the obsession is gone…but my thoughts are of my sober status. Does that ever leave us?

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    • That is an interesting question. Right now I am actually grateful to be mindful of my sober status, because it keeps me on the straight and narrow. As I wrote above, caring that I have strung together a bunch of sober days is a radically different way of living for me; before my thought was, “big deal, I’ll just start over tomorrow,” but that day never came. So the fact that I am aware of how much time I have, and that the time is important to me, is such a blessing, and I hope I never lose it!

      I wish you could come to my Monday meetings too! Someday I would love to set something up where bloggers could sit in electronically. Would probably break every rule of anonymity, but wouldn’t it be so much fun!?!

      Happy New Year!

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  4. Just wanted to say that I dig the new look and the new pic 🙂

    Both look loverly 😉

    Paul

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  5. I love your miracle for today! Congratulations on having a wonderful holiday season even with the possibilities of temptation. Thank you for your open kind words. Best wishes for a wonderful 2014!

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