I wasn’t sure which way today’s meeting was going to go, attendance-wise, being that we are two days away from Christmas. At the start, it was just me and two other gentleman, so I thought, “Well, I wasted some baking.” But ten minutes after the start of the meeting, we were up to 10 attendees, so hooray!
Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs
Step 12 is a great one for sharing at meetings, because there is so much to discuss, and because it encapsulates the 12-step program so beautifully. One person shared that what he took most from the reading is the importance of staying in good spiritual condition. For him, that means regular meeting attendance, so that he can be reminded of what is important… and what is not. A great thought for this time of year!
Another person found his focus on the part of the step that talks about carrying the message, and how much reaching his hand out to another in need enriches his life.
For me, what I took away from the reading selection today is the importance of maintaining the proper outlook. In any given situation, I can choose to focus on what is going wrong, or I can choose to focus on what is going right, and my mental state will reflect that choice perfectly.
And what another great message this is for the season. As I headed into the meeting, I was preoccupied with my ever-present holiday to do list: will I have time to hit all the stores I need to hit? What chores can I delegate (and be satisfied however they turn out)? Will the kids manage not to kill each other while I am away from the house? You get the idea. And when my mind is going a mile a minute like that, guess where my serenity level is?
Just reading about the idea of changing my thought process was enough to stop the racing thoughts, and by the time I was finished sharing, I truly felt ready to leave the meeting and properly enjoy the holiday season, the school break, and even the shopping, wrapping and baking that still awaited me.
Which, when you think about it, is a miracle!
I am filled with excitement, not only because I got everything done I needed to today, not only because I am sitting down to write this post (which I never thought I would do), but because I vowed to myself that on December 26th my Christmas present to myself will be an uninterrupted morning, coffee ready and waiting, a comfortable chair, and my computer, and I am catching up on all the brilliant posts I have been missing by my wonderful friends in the blogosphere. In the meantime, know that I miss you all so much, and I am praying that you are having a miraculous holiday season!
This one step- choosing a goal and sticking to it- changes everything. -Scott Reed
Here’s how the mind of an addict works: Time to un-decorate the house. Check. Start un-decorating, make some headway, then decide to start hauling the decorations down to the basement. Look around the basement and realize that all the cardboard boxes from online Christmas shopping are still sitting in a gigantic pile blocking the path to where Christmas storage containers sit. Alright, slight diversion, but deal with it, and move on. Trash day was yesterday, so move the pile, but mentally bemoan the fact that trash day has come and gone. Continue to organize decorations upstairs, all the while thinking about the projects that await in the basement. Look over and observe that there is still a pile of Christmas presents, in boxes, in a corner. Another diversion as they need to be unboxed, put in their place (What place do they go? Oh, man, just put them in the dining room for now.) Back to Christmas decorations. Wait, while in the dining room did I just observe yet more decorations? Okay, back to that room to un-decorate, and now the pile of decorations has grown, still not stored, still not down in the basement yet. Tree still upright, with all decorations on. Oh, and what about those high shelves with the decorations still on them? Where is the big ladder? Back down to the basement, no ladder anywhere in sight. Need to text husband to find out where the hell the ladder is. Back upstairs… okay, let’s just get the larger decorations into the basement and put them on the shelves, that’s a simple enough project. Back down the basement, only to discover there is no room on the shelves, because they are filled with non-Christmas decorations that go back up once the Christmas decorations come down. But which ones, and where do they go? And shouldn’t I completely dust and vacuum before I put non-Christmas decorations back in place? And don’t I need to completely un-assemble the tree before I dust and vacuum?
And now it’s two hours later, and I’m looking around the chaos I’ve created, and I have no idea what to do next…
Except stop what I’m doing, take a deep breath, and do something else on my to-do list so I can clear my head (which, if you have not figured out yet, is write this post). And realize that projects are done one step at a time, and obsessing about all the other projects that need to be done will not help complete the project at hand. One goal: can the Christmas decorations come down? Yes, if I stop adding things on, and worrying about other things.
One day at a time, or, in this case, one minute at a time, one project at a time.
I have an entire day with absolutely no distracting appointments in which to complete this project, and no matter how un-fun these chores are, I am still so happy to be at home to do them!
I’ve come to believe that all my past failure and frustration were actually laying the foundation for the understandings that have created the new level of living I now enjoy. –Tony Robbins
It’s that time of year again… resolution time. I was just watching a small clip of Tony Robbins, and he was explaining why most resolutions fail. He says in order to be successful at resolving to change, you must have these three components in place:
1. Compelling vision (not just “I want to lose 10 pounds,” but really have a clear picture of what it will feel like once you have lost weight)
2. Strong reasons for pushing through when inevitable challenges arise (the reasons can be negative or positive, but they have to be serious)
3. Review it and feel it daily (otherwise you will run out of steam quickly)
Today I am celebrating 11 months of sobriety, and I can say these components were critical to my success in recovery. My compelling vision, 11 months ago, was that I wanted my life back… I wanted to gain back the trust and love of my husband, I wanted my family reunited, and I wanted to repair relationships everywhere else in my life. The vision was compelling because I knew what it looked like… I wanted what I had before I was in active addiction.
My strong reasons for pushing through were mostly negative, but they did work…. if I did not stay sober, I would lose my marriage, my family, and my life. Period. Along the way new reasons did pop up, such as letting down the people in the AA fellowship, and losing my sober time, which became an important part of my identity. All of these reasons kept me working towards my goal of recovery.
Reviewing it and feeling it daily is perhaps the most important of the three, at least for me. If I don’t get on my knees each morning and thank God for another day, if I don’t remind myself in meetings where I’ve been, and if I don’t reach out to help another person in need every day, then I am likely to forget the reasons I have chosen this resolution.
So the new question I am pondering, as the new year looms, and as I am heading towards the one year mark of sobriety… what am I resolving to progress towards next?
The thing about denial is that it doesn’t feel like denial when it’s going on. -Georgina Kleege
It seems to be the time of year for this subject, because I have been hearing a lot about it. And who can blame someone? Holiday parties, egg nog, champagne toasts, wine spritzers, cookie exchange invitations that also require a bottle of wine… it can be difficult to picture a Merry Christmas without the merriment of alcohol. So, in honor of the holiday, here is the top 10 list of denials I have either used personally, or have heard about in meetings:
1. I’m really not that bad, because I haven’t… (fill in the blank: gotten a DUI, overdosed, gone to rehab, etc.)
2. Yeah, I probably shouldn’t drink, but what’s wrong with smoking a little pot? (switch substances as needed)
3. I’m a grown-ass man (or woman), I’ll do what I want!
4. I will just cut back, and drink like normal people (or, I’ll just pace myself, or I’ll drink water in between drinks, this list could go on forever).
5. I’ll stop AFTER the holidays, because, really, who would quit before?!?
6. I will stop drinking (or using) if you will just get off my back.
7. How can I not drink when all my friends (or family, or co-workers) drink?
8. I would stop drinking if I could just eliminate the stress of… (fill in the blank: job, spouse, kids, finances, almost anything could be inserted)
9. If you had the (spouse, kids, family, job) I do, you would drink like me too.
10. And my own personal favorite, one I used for months on end… I will absolutely stop this insanity TOMORROW…
The real problem with denial is why I used the quote at the top… the deeper you are in it, the less likely to see it for what it is… an excuse to avoid the pain of change. People in denial truly believe the lies they are telling (believe me, I speak from experience).
Here’s what I’m grateful to know today: there is no problem I have that a drink or drug won’t make worse. Once I decide to use a substance to solve a problem, I’ve just increased my burden exponentially. I thank God I don’t have to live like that anymore!
Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.
(It is piously believed that whoever recites the above prayer fifteen times a day from the feast of St. Andrew (30th November) until Christmas will obtain what is asked.)
The prayer listed above may be familiar to the Catholics reading this post, it is a Christmas tradition to try to remember saying it 15 times a day for 25 days! I have been attempting this ritual for more years than I can count. Two interesting things to note about this year’s novena. First, my good friend and novena partner left me a voicemail on the 29th to remind me to start praying it the next day. I listened to his voicemail, then walked over to the computer to google the prayer to make sure I remembered all the words. In my inbox was a group email from a distant relative, and she wrote out the prayer. Good stuff…
The next day I sat down to officially start the novena. As I mentioned, I have been doing this for years, I’m trying to remember all of the different “favors” for which I have prayed, I’m sure sobriety and weight loss topped the list! But in general I believe the idea is to pray for one particular favor. This year, I was sincerely stumped… I really and truly don’t have a specific need. The most I could come up with is “please let the miracle that is my life continue to be as blessed as it currently is.” Great stuff…