M(3), 6/6/16: Back to Business!

feelings-e1419050371417

Many apologies for the unplanned two-week hiatus.  Week one saw me with a dental crisis; the worst is over, but follow-up visits abound (cue the sad music).  Week two saw me preparing for my first job interview in 17 years (cue the horror music).  Both of these situations deserve completely separate blog posts, which I will hopefully get to sometime this decade, but in the meantime, let’s return to our regularly scheduled program.

This week’s reading came from Alcoholics Anonymous, colloquially referred to as “The Big Book.”  We read one of the quintessential chapters, entitled, “How It Works.”  This is the first in a three-chapter overview of the 12 steps; specifically, steps one through four.

A newcomer reading this chapter is likely to be overwhelmed, as there is a lot going on in these four steps!  We had two women in the meeting today that, by my definition, would count as newcomers:  one having recently completed rehab, and one that indicated she was a newcomer, but did not elaborate just how new she is.

First-time readers of this chapter might be alarmed at how often the words “self-centered,” “egotistical,” “resentful,” “self-pitying” and “fearful” are peppered throughout.  Indeed, the entire premise of the twelve steps (at least in this writer’s humble opinion) is based upon the notion that the alcoholic life is run on self-will and self-seeking.

And so the answer to the alcoholic dilemma is a paradigm shift:  instead of thinking the world is out to get us, we choose instead to look at our part in any situation.  Instead of considering what the world owes us, we look to see what we can contribute.  Instead of dishonesty and deception, we opt for transparency.

Instead of thinking we are running the show, we now seek a Power greater than ourselves, and we turn our will over to the care of that Power.

As always, when newcomers attend the meeting, I read and consider how I felt as a newcomer.  I know when I first started paying attention to this reading, I considered myself an exception to most of the generalizations:  I did not feel particularly angry or resentful, I didn’t consider myself to be (overly) selfish, and I believed I put the needs of a great many others before my own needs.

I remember thinking, “Wow my inventory is going to be so small, since I have no resentments whatsoever!”  I can’t remember exactly, but I believe my inventory ran upwards of 6 handwritten pages.

Now I read the chapter and consider how my life has changed since first starting the road to recovery.  The most fundamental change would be awareness, and the ability to feel my feelings.  Sounds ridiculous, but it is a change that words cannot sufficiently capture.  In addiction, I self-medicated so as not to feel anything.

So now I feel, and I’m aware that I feel.  I can define the emotion, and the corresponding physical sensations.

“Why is this a big deal?” someone may wonder.  Awareness allows for the processing of emotions, particularly negative ones.  If I’m stuffing down feelings, I’m not processing or releasing them.  So there they sit, swirling around and ready to wreak emotional havoc at any point in time.

Awareness is just one part of the puzzle.  That same awareness had me realize that all my resentment-free days were just a facade designed to keep me from feeling.  I had a lot more resentments than I ever realized I had, and a lot more fears as well.

In fact, I believe I am a work in process in the arena, and likely will be for some time.

In getting more self-aware and more honest about my part in every resentment-filled situation, I am better able to handle new challenges.  Now when a resentment pops up, I am able to:

  1. recognize it
  2. define it
  3. look at my part in it

All of which allows me to

4.  handle it

Above all, the peace that comes from a reliance on a Higher Power is the gift that keeps on giving.

Having this before-and-after experience upon which to draw was especially helpful this morning when one of the newcomers expressed confusion… she does not think she has any anger, or even much fear, so she’s not sure where she would even start with such a process.

Today’s Miracle:

The ability to pay it forward!

 

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Posted on June 6, 2016, in Monday Meeting Miracles, Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Hi Josie!
    I hate medical problems that pop up!
    I am sorry about your teeth, and hope you heal fast!
    I didn’t think I had many resentments and when I wrote them out, I was angry at a lot of things. I was so angry at things I had NO control over…like terrorism. It made me so mad, and I was carrying so much of that.
    My sponsor once asked me, “So is your being mad making terrorism go away?”
    Boom.
    Same question works for a lot of resentments.
    xo
    Wendy

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just another way you and I are alike, Wendy! And thank you for sharing that question your sponsor asked you. I am currently so very angry about the news of Stanford swimmer getting such a light sentence, so that question is a timely one for me! Thanks for the comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m struck by how often the theme in your posts reflect what I am thinking about. I’ve been considering ‘honesty’ recently, as I slowly step towards living a more authentic and truthful life. “Opt for transparency” – that’s the phrase I’ll take with me into tomorrow. Thanks for sharing it Josie. Love from The Sober Garden x.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi SG, thanks so much for the comment, and I’m glad to hear the themes in this blog/my meeting resound with you… I wish you could join us in person! Opting for transparency is another gift that keeps on giving: no secrets, no worries about secrets, just peace and serenity! Speaking as someone who used to keep a lot of them, I can tell you transparency is the way to go!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow. So perfect.
    I just went to a new therapist to try to deal with some anxiety (PTSD) from the fire and evacuation.
    I was honest – I still struggle to understand WHAT I am feeling.
    I have good coping mechanisms to deal with physical sensations, but I am confused by myself.
    She says she can help! And that it will take me a step towards reduced generalized anxiety.

    I remember how self pitying and hard done by I felt drinking. But, at the time, I felt like a martyr, under appreciated and doing everything. How blind I was.

    I like how it works. It’s insightful….

    Thank you!
    Anne

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anne, thanks so much for the comment, please know you are still in my prayers each and every morning. I LOVE that you are seeking therapy to help you through this. I know from experience that therapy helps! I hope that I will be reading more about your experience soon, as I know it will help so many!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Welcome back 🙂 I’m recovering from gum surgery myself, ugh! I love what you say about “awareness” how it allows us to process our emotions–lot’s of things going on these days to get angry and resentful about (hell, even be AFRAID of!) but I am able to process them in a more constructive way. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, yikes, gum surgery sounds way worse (mine was cracked tooth, which required some kind of torturous shaving down, followed by root canal, and then I suppose I need something permanent put in… but the worst is over, thank goodness). I hope each day finds you feeling better, Lori!

      Like

  5. Thank you for this. I’m a newcomer, and I’m working through some resentments today, and this was a very timely read.

    Like

    • First, welcome! Always glad to welcome a newcomer, and I’m hoping lots of support for you as you begin this journey. Resentments are “the number one offender,” and we’ve all got ’em, whether we recognize them or not, so your knowing is actually a gret thing… as I said, I went for a long time thinking I had none, so you’re a step of ahead of where I was as a newcomer!

      Wishing you much success as you make you way!

      Like

  6. Yes, yes, yes to all of this. I distinctly remember when I started feeling again in early recovery because the intensity scared me. Now of course it’s much better but it still strikes me what a challenge it is to feel without a filter. It’s no doubt how we’re meant to experience and learn and grow. It is also (for me) a gradual, oftentimes stubborn process. I love that you read and consider from the newcomer’s perspective. I imagine that makes all the difference in their experience.

    Like

    • Thanks Kristen. Sometimes I feel that challenge as well, I want to swat emotions away as one might a persistent mosquito, and then I remember, “oh yeah, I’m supposed to be feeling this stuff.” Part relief, part annoyance, but the progress is I don’t self-medicate (with mind-altering chemicals, food, tv, and phone apps is a post for another day). I appreciate, as always, your feedback!

      Liked by 1 person

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