Head On Collision with…Reality

One of my favorite quotes from someone in a meeting was, “When I come to this particular meeting, I feel like I am having a head on collision with Gratitude.”  This is pretty obvious to anyone that starts their day off with a meeting at a Homeless Shelter, which is what I do most days.

imalcoholfreeFresh from jail, thrown out of the house or inside from living in the woods, these folks are at our AA Meetings at 7:30 am.  Most of the time, the environment is pretty stable but there are some days when someone has a seizure, sounds of people vomiting, belching, etc. Our Grapevine meetings go on.

I get to leave the Shelter after the meeting.  Many others do too. Some leaving at the end of the meeting are those that lived there once, but “Graduated.”  Have jobs, a place to live and lives all because of Recovery.

We Will Love You Until You Love Yourself

Like most of us, Recovery is my journey.  For me too, the road has been rocky and smooth. Right now I am in a rocky spot.  I go to meetings to sit and allow myself to heal through the emotions I am not accustomed to feeling.  To do things differently than what I have done for years while I was drinking.  To let the chaos pass and not participate in it- it is hard. My friends in meetings provide me “Experience, Strength and Hope” while I sort things out. I think the last time I felt this confused and upside down things were A LOT worse. I chose drinking as my solution, drinking was the only one I knew. It propelled my alcoholism into a 10 year spiral and I felt like I had no way out, except to “end it.”  Everyone would be so much better off without me.

Escape to Recovery

Yes, I will admit it.  I am going to many more meetings than I usually do.  In the old days I would go to a Bar, grab a stool, order a “Vodka and diet” (no carbs!) and escape from my feelings.  Now I go to a SAFE place, a meeting TO LIVE through my emotions and when it comes time to deal with the situations and the feelings they cause,  I remind myself I am safe and I don’t have to drink.

For today. 

 

 

 

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Tears of a Clown

Right now, I know there is a little hysteria about clowns, but bear with me.

Even after a few years of Recovery (One Day At A Time) under my belt, I aimage_tearsm still amazed at how most of the people in my life had no idea the depths of my alcoholism. I am not talking about how much I drank, how often I drank and how little people knew about why I drank.

The Steps

When I did the Steps with my Sponsor the first year, it was only the tip of the iceberg of what was happening with me. I would still say that I made a “fearless and moral inventory” of my faults and character defects.  I knew the names of what I was saying, but I didn’t know the actual depths of the things that were buried within me. It has take these few years of continually going to meetings, talking to friends in the program, living Recovery as much as I can.  Learning about myself has been hard at times, but using the tools of prayer and meditation have helped me look at these things and not own and absorb them anymore.

I DESPISED MYSELF

I have said in meetings, the last days of my drinking were days of isolation and self hatred. And when I understand that I am not the same person as I was then, I can talk about that it came down to the fact that I wanted things to stop.  I felt that the world would be a better place if I wasn’t in it.  Never did I think that my family would be devastated I felt that they would be better off if I wasn’t around.

Baby Steps

My way into the storm of my alcoholism took a long time. From what I can see now, it took about 10 years.  My marriage had ended and I was devastated.  Everything that I thought my husband and I worked for and were working for to retire was changed.  I had moved to a new place to take a job that was going to allow us to move closer to our dreams and in reality it moved me further away from my husband and he closer to  wanting something different.  Then he and his lover had a child together.  The job I had moved 3 hours away to take – ended as the company retreated back to Canada.

Unfortunate Circumstances

I cannot say that I am without blame here, I certainly took it all, owned it and drank to cover my feelings.  Did lots of volunteer work, started a business, worked my a$$ off. Worked so I wouldn’t have to think or feel.  I drank mostly on weekends and binged once in a while, nothing serious, but certainly it wasn’t normal.  As the years past, the binging stopped and I drank every night.  I worked late often and drank when I got home.  I thought I deserved it.  I was taking glasses of wine to bed with a book. Later on, I would wake up in the night and have a drink to get back to sleep.  With every sip, I was covering my loneliness, fear and feeding my disease what it needed to take hold of me, of my life.  I gave in, it was the easier, softer way.

In A Meeting, Carl said one time

“I was sick.  I didn’t know how bad.  I was dying, I didn’t know when.”  That was me too.  I didn’t care when, I just wanted it to be over.

And it was from that deep, dark, place I found HOPE in AA.  My whole life is different.  I meditate, I pray, I go to meetings.  I work, I write, I help others struggling, I also help my family and friends.  I do fun things and live without drinking.

But Life Still Happens – My job is to live it without drinking today.

 

*thank you to Pinterest for this image.

#MeetingGem: “I didn’t come up for air the first time until I was 31…”

About Relapse and Coming Back…

The first meeting of the day in Bangor, Maine is at 7:30am at the Homeless Shelter. The name of the shelter is The Hope House.  Monday thru Friday is a Grapevine Format. There is an article from The Grapeunspecified.jpgvine read – paragraph by paragraph, round robin style until the reading is finished.  Sharing begins on the reading or thoughts to “Staying away from a drink for today” are the focus.

So Many Points of View

Sitting in a meeting (any meeting), reminds me that my way of thinking is not the RIGHT way or the ONLY way.  It is A WAY.  As people share around the room, topics that come up from an article that we all just read TOGETHER, that are helpful to me understanding the struggle that is so real in each of us.  Even when we see things from a different point of view.

Relapse

When alcoholics go back out, it is dangerous.  When we drink, we make bad choices, we are not in control of anything.  That means ANYTHING can happen and it usually does.  Most of which we may not remember.  Every time we go back out, our disease has been “doing push ups” getting stronger, waiting for us.  Our relapse periods vary and our trip back to the rooms of Recovery are at risk.  We can die. In my opinion, something worse is to kill someone else and live through the tragedy.  This isn’t Meeting drama speak, this is reality.

“Keep Coming Back”

Is an expression used in the Rooms of Recovery.  Today, I learned that people view that expression from a variety of angles.  To me, it means to “Keep Coming Back” to meetings because I am worth Recovery.  When the days feel really dark and I am struggling, I need to keep coming to meetings, get out of my head. My Higher Power has something in mind for me.

Others shared that no matter how many times a person relapses, they are welcomed back to AA.  And in another breath someone said that she felt that gave her permission to give up and give in the the disease.  Go back out because she could come back again.

Whatever “Keep Coming Back” means in your Recovery, I pray that when someone decides to just throw in the towel it isn’t a casual mood decision.  “Things suck so I will drink.” Call someone first.  Take a walk.  GET TO A MEETING. Giving up on yourself is a very dangerous place to be, not a passing fancy.  When we stumble, we don’t have to fall and roll around in the $hit of our past decisions.  We are worth living without putting ourselves (as well as others), thru holy hell.

“Think Before You Drink”

And if you don’t, please come back to AA.  “It takes what it takes.”

 

 

 

She Did It…AGAIN

Writing a letter to my Stepmother proves to help me understand her more

When my Sponsor and I were working through Steps 4 and 8, she made me create a “Hell No” List.  This was the list created of People that I had identified in recognizing my character defects that created upset in me for making amends. imsorrybear The list was made as a recognition of my distress and the lurking Resentment that was inside me. Writing the person’s name on a piece of paper forced me to deal with those feelings.  There were 3.  The first person molested me and was dead.  The second raped me in High School and now has since died.  The third, was my Step Mother.

Needless to say, making amends to the dead is less risky, but in the end after I worked through my motives in making those amends, they both seemed unnecessary.  The resentment was really no longer there, I had closed the door.  Putting them on the “Hell-No” list was a great process to go through.

“She makes me want to tear my hair out and eat it.”

When my Dad was living I would say this often to myself.  And when he was dying, she and I sort of “came to terms.”   I mentioned that in this blog previously.  And over these past 2 years there has been things that she has said that I have found haunt me.  I figured I would write her a letter, come clean about my own alcoholism and my belief of my father’s own illness.  At my father’s bedside, we made peace for his sake, I felt it was time to make peace for my own.

Higher Power

Once again I am reminded that these “hauntings” “constant nudges” are not mine, they are from someone else trying to tell me something.  Until I do something – in my case that usually means write something, it doesn’t go away.  That is how our book came about.  I kept getting reminded about writing and then writing a book came from that and the rest seemed to fall into place.  As of today, it has been submitted to 3 publishers.  I do the footwork and my Higher Power does the rest.

Once I started writing the letter it was obvious that it was what I was supposed to do.  The words came out and with just a couple typos the letter was ready.  I printed it, addressed the letter and drove it to the Post Office.  Felt like I needed to do that. (When this happens to me these days I just do it, without question.)  When the letter went into the box, I felt a little relief.

I wasn’t sure what to expect

She and I are not bosom buddies but we are not enemies anymore either.  We are polite and friendly, but sending this letter to her was not a “slam dunk” resolution.  It was a letter reconstructing our relationship and taking my responsibility for the stress and strain that a 26 year old woman (the age they married), may have caused.  I believe my feelings for her were much stronger than hers were for me, so the letter did not identify the “he said, she said” or really in much detail of situations themselves.  The words were kind, I mentioned a few of the sentences she had said several times, “The drinking had stopped but not the behavior…”  “He could be so cruel and divisive…”  I wanted her to know that none of this behavior was her cause and that being an alcoholic myself in recovery, I can recognize the “dry drunk” and had in my own father.

The Phone Rang

My Stepmother is one of the most impossible people to reach.  When I was drinking I thought this was all part of a GAME she was playing, trying to punish me.  Well that wasn’t the situation at all.  She just vaporizes.  She doesn’t stay in touch with anyone. After a couple of telephone tag attempts we were able to talk.  She was kind and so was I. There were no “I’m sorry’s,” there were more, “I understands.”  She told me about what she knew about alcoholism and how she thought there were some in her family that were alcoholics.  And we ended the conversation with a pleasant “Goodbye.”

 

 

 

 

Coming Back From the Dead

Many that read this blog are aware that my Home Group Meeting is located at a Homeless Shelter.  While by the Grace of God I have never been homeless, going to a meeting in a Shelter nearly every morning reminds me of how grateful I am.  Someone said once, “Coming here is like a ‘head on crash’  with Gratitude.”  I have to agree with that.

2016-10-02-17-55-52Stories

Our meetings are long on the “Experience” side of the “Experience, Strength and Hope” equation.  Some days folks are fresh out of jail, rehab or been kicked out of the house. Some are still drunk.  Many are sick and tired of being sick and tired, others are pissed off at the world, but our job is to have a meeting.

We have a daily morning meeting – Grapevine format for weekdays, Living Sober on Saturday , Sunday is 12 and 12.  People living at the Shelter are rousted out of bed early and our meetings are in a “Day Room.”  Some stumble into the meeting.  Others plan on it and some of us come in from the outside.

What This Has Done For My Recovery

When I am sitting in meetings I am recharged with relevant content that I need to stay sober.  I hear stories from people that have cheated the Grim Reaper 3 or more times.  I can identify even though my “story” is different.  I feel it in my heart and I am grateful for being sober TODAY.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who Me? Write A Book?

I Never Thought I Would Ever Send A Manuscript To A Publisher

But that changed on Tuesday.

When I came into AA, I honestly thought I was a dead woman. Everything today seems so obvious 3+ years later but when I was “in it”  (I fondly call it “$hit City”), I thought that was what my life was going to be and continue to be.  I was soooo lucky, no sirens, no hospitals, no jail- but I was all ready dead inside.  Inside my head and my heart.  I would look at the vodka bottle I had stashed so no one would find it and cry as I poured it.  There are plenty of blog entries that describe my journey but in case this post is the only you may read I want to say….

THANK YOU.

As the clock ticked off and meetings every day, showed one day at a time of sobriety. I was listening desperately to find a way out.  A way out of myself.  You guys kept sharing your Experience, Strength and Hope.  We did lots of laughing and crying too.  But we did it together. And every once in a while, something would tweak my heart and I would write it down in a book that I carried in my purse.  I called all these little “Pearls of Wisdom” -Gems.  If you are a friend of mine on Facebook or Twitter you can see that I post these often.  I would write them down in a small book that I carried with me.  (I have also mentioned this book before in this blog.)

These expressions, sentences, phrases, etc. cut to the heart of the matter- WHY we go to meetings, WHY the fellowship is so precious. WE all connect. When times got tough, I used that book, I would open it and read something someone had said and I wouldn’t feel so alone. It was like my own “Pocket Meeting.” And it got me through, “One Day At A Time.”

My First Year Anniversary Mason Jar

My First Year, I was smack dab in the middle of Step 9.  I got thinking about how I might make myself feel a little better.  So I wrote all the “Gems” that were in my book onto a sheet of paper (I th2016-10-02 14.43.45.jpgink there were about 60 then), cut them into strips (each Gem was on a strip), folded them neatly and put them in a large old fashioned Mason Jar.  And off I went to the Homeless Shelter to celebrate my Anniversary.  When I was presented my coin, I thanked everyone and passed around the Mason Jar, explaining that they were their words as well as words from any AA Meeting I had been to – I wanted to express how much they all meant to me. How much I have learned I could count on the Fellowship.  I suggested they choose a Gem for themselves and put it in their pocket- save it for their own rough patch.

As the days have gone on, I still write down Gems and each Anniversary I share them.
The list was growing considerably.

Gnawing Feelings

It was about a year ago, I finally asked my Higher Power to guide me. I was feeling so led to do “Something” I just didn’t know exactly what it was. More meetings, more places, more Gems.  The people in AA are so smart, creative and funny.  I would put the book away and then feel like I needed to keep adding to it. And, I was writing about them in this blog, but not sure what else there was to do with them.    I would feel an overwhelming need to look over the Gems, organize them and even a few times at night was awakened thinking about the whole thing.  ( I know it sounds crazy, but it happened and it happened more than once.)

I have been a writer of sorts for years. For business client projects, for web and other copywriting. I had mentioned writing a book many times from a barstool, but never had I bothered to commit to anything. Writing is hard work and discipline.

Last winter, I found myself having opportunities to talk to writers and creatives that I never had before.  I received an invite to a place about an hour from my home to attend a Writer’s Symposium. I met a woman who became my writing coach.

One of my friends told me about a contest that winners would receive a 4 day Writer’s Retreat in Vermont.  Just for fun I entered it and won.  And I went.

Facing Fear – Fear of Failure

The other part of writing and submitting a manuscript is Failing.  As many of us know in this fellowship, FEAR is front and center in many of our lives.  FEAR has ruled my life for longer than I care to admit.

But things that were put in front of me I couldn’t ignore. Still the gnawing and the pulling continued. My coach helped organize me at several points along the way and though she is not in the program, she was there for me.  I had to put it down again.  Then I was reminded that this is OUR book.  This book stands up for the “Sick and Suffering.”  There is HOPE.  Brilliance, creativity, honesty.

Before my 3rd Anniversary, the book was written and organized.  Our “Shitty First Draft” was complete.

The Hard Part

Submitting a manuscript isn’t easy, no query asks these questions.  If they did they wouldn’t believe you any way. (“Hey Fred, this chick over here said she gave it to God and he partnered with her in this project- there’s a winner for you!”)

How can you take a list of requirements, answer “form questions” effectively enough to transmit the magic that is in a meeting.  How does a Marketing Plan (and I have written many) explain that the content of this book will save lives – like Meetings do.

I will be submitting this to more than 1 publisher though I really hope it gets picked up by the first one I sent it to – the Publisher has published other books like this one, for people “like us.”  But this one is different in the way that it is YOUR WORDS from 2013-2016, not from Bill W. back in the 40’s.

Wish us luck!  This could be a great journey sprinkling “Experience, Strength and Hope.”