Saturday, November 30, 2013

Nov. 30, 2013 - Step by Step

Step by Step
Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013

Today, understanding that a "substitute" chemical to replace alcohol that alters my perception of reality is not working toward recovery from an addictive personality, grant me the wisdom to also understand that "mind- and mood-altering chemicals" may not necessarily include prescribed medications. If depression continues to be a condition even in sobriety, for example, let me listen to reasons why anti-depressants may not compromise my sobriety but may even improve its quality. The debate in AA and other 12-Step groups that any substance which affects my mood is as old as the Program itself. But the Program admits that it is not a medical one, and that tells me it is my responsibility to seek out the knowledge from sources that may be more qualified than me to determine if my sobriety is at risk. Today, understanding that the substances I ingested are not the same as prescribed medications, let me also consider the possibility that acting as my own physician may be writing my own relapse somewhere down the road. And our common journey continues. Step by step. - Chris M., 2013

Nov. 30, 2013 - Twenty-Four Hours a Day

Twenty-Four Hours a Day
Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013

AA Thought for the Day
We have slips in AA. It has been said these are not slips but premeditated drunks, because we have to think about taking a drink before we actually take one. The thought always comes before the act. It is suggested that people should always get in touch with an AA before taking that first drink. The failure to do so makes it probable that they had decided to take the drink anyway. And yet the thoughts that come before taking a drink are often largely subconscious. People usually don't know consciously what made them do it. Therefore, the common practice is to call these things slips.

Am I on guard against wrong thinking?

Meditation for the Day
"The eternal God is thy refuge." He is a sanctuary, a refuge from the cares of life. You can get away from the misunderstanding of others by retiring into your own place of meditation. But from yourself, from your sense of failure, your weakness, your shortcomings, whither can you flee? Only to the eternal God, your refuge, until the immensity of His spirit envelopes your spirit and it loses its smallness and weakness and comes into harmony again with His.

Prayer for the Day
I pray that I may lose my limitations in the immensity of God's love. I pray that my spirit may be in harmony with His spirit.

Hazelden Foundation

Nov. 30, 2013 - A Day at a Time

A Day at a Time
Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013

Reflection for the Day
If you're a negative thinker and are not yet ready to do an about-face, here are some guidelines that can keep you miserable for just as long as you wish to remain so. First, don't go to meetings of The Program, especially discussion groups. If you somehow find yourself at a meeting, keep your mouth shut, your hands in your pockets and your mind closed. Don't try to solve any of your problems, never laugh at yourself and don't trust the other people in The Program. Above all, under no conditions should you try to live in the Now.

Am I aware that negative thinking means taking myself deadly serious at all times, leaving no time for laughter - and for living?

Today I Pray
If I am feeling negative, may I check myself in the mirror that is the group for any symptoms of a closed mind; tight lips, forced smile, set jaw, straight-ahead glance - and not a glimmer of humor. God, grant me the ability to laugh at myself - often - for I need that laughter to cope with the everyday commotion of living.

Today I Will Remember
To laugh at myself.

Hazelden Foundation

Nov. 30, 2013 - The Eye Opener

The Eye Opener
Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013

Many who are active in AA work come to feel that they just can't carry on any longer. There is so much to do; so little time can be spared to do it; so few to do the work. There is a limit to their endurance. After all, a guy has just so much health, strength and patience.

When the burdens get too heavy and too numerous, take it up with the Big Boss, tell Him you like to do His work but that it is more than you can handle - ask Him for more help - and you'll get it.

Hazelden Foundation

Nov. 30, 2013 - Today's Gift from Hazelden

Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013
Today's thought from Hazelden is:

In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.
 -- Anne Frank

Newcomer

I get upset and discouraged about what's in the news. So much of it is about violence and tragedy, lying and competition. What's going on our there is so different from what I see at meetings. I wish that everyone had what we have.
Sponsor
Sometimes it does seem as if the world "out there" is on a binge of some kind. And addictions themselves, of all kinds, are still widespread and causing considerable damage. But what about the healing, the taking of responsibility, the turning around of lives? News of recovery, changes in consciousness, spiritual growth, and service is not what sells papers, but it is a real and vital part of what's happening in the world. Twelve Step recovery has been around for less than a century, but its healing principles have entered the awareness and lives of millions of people around the world.

When we think about what our individual lives were like before recovery and what fundamental changes we've been able to make in a short time, it gives us hope and a sense of what's possible.

Today, I'm blessed with hope. I let change begin with me.
From the book:
If You Want What We Have © 1998 by Joan Larkin

Friday, November 29, 2013

Nov. 29, 2013 - Step by Step

Step by Step
Friday, Nov. 29, 2013

Today, if my candle is burning at both ends with responsibilities, obligations and expectations that have been entrusted to me since I started following the Program, I will not complain or seek adulation and, instead, will practice gratitude and humility that I now am trusted and can carry out what is asked and expected of me. But if I feel overwhelmed at times, I can fall back on the Program's edicts to prioritize and take "First Things First." The first thing is sobriety and, without it, there is literally nothing. With it, there is literally everything. The benefits sobriety bring to me include service to the sufferer who needs and wants to hear the Program's message, and I should not shirk or complain about being in service. Not only does what I contribute to another soul strengthen my own against a possible slip or relapse, I need only to remember the days when I was drunk literally 24/7 and ask if those days were better than now when I have been given the gift to be of some greater good. Today, my yesterdays are nowhere better than today, and today is where I will stay without complaining, without seeking recognition and instead asking in humility for His will for me and the power to carry it out. And our common journey continues. Step by step. - Chris M., 2013

Nov. 29, 2013 - Twenty-Four Hours a Day

Twenty-Four Hours a Day
Friday, Nov. 29, 2013

AA Thought for the Day
The AA way is the way of sobriety, and yet there are slips. Why do these slips occur? Why don't we all accept AA and stay sober from then on? There are many reasons, but it has been proved without exception that once we have become alcoholics, we can never drink successfully again. This has never been disproved by any case we know of. Many alcoholics have tried drinking after a period of sobriety from a few days to a few years, and no one that we know of has been successful in becoming a normal drinker.
Could I be the only exception to this rule?

Meditation for the Day
"We are gathered together in Thy name." First, we are gathered together, bound by a common loyalty to God and to each other. Then, when this condition has been fulfilled, God is present with us. Then, when God is there and one with us, we voice a common prayer. Then it follows that our prayer will be answered according to God's will. Then, when our prayer is answered, we are bound together in a lasting fellowship of the spirit.

Prayer for the Day
I pray that I may be loyal to God and to others. I pray that my life today may be lived close to His and to theirs.

Hazelden Foundation

Nov. 29, 2013 - A Day at a Time

A Day at a Time
Friday, Nov. 29, 2013

Reflection for the Day
Contrary to what some people think, our slogan "Let Go and Let God" isn't an expression of apathy, an attitude of defeatism or an unwillingness to accept responsibility. Those who turn their backs on their problems are not "letting go and letting God" but, instead, are abandoning their commitment to act on God's inspiration and guidance. They neither ask for nor expect help; they want God to do it all.

In seeking God's guidance, do I realize that the ultimate responsibility is mine?

Today I Pray
May I not allow myself to be lazy just because I think God is going to do everything anyway. (Such apathy reminds me of my old powerless self, the one that moaned that the world was going up in smoke, civilization was going down the drain and there wasn't a thing I could do about it.) Neither may I use "letting God" do it as an excuse for shrugging off my problems without even trying. May God be my inspiration; may I be an instrument of God.

Today I Will Remember
God guides those who help themselves.

Hazelden Foundation

Nov. 29, 2013 - The Eye Opener

The Eye Opener
Friday, Nov. 29, 2013

We find in life exactly what we are looking for. In your drinking days, you courted trouble constantly and you probably found more than your share of it.

Today we are looking for a better way of life and this, too, we find at every turn.

We get what we want if we put forth sufficient effort to look for it, if we have the ability to recognize it when we see it, and the tenacity to hold on to it when once we grasp it.

Hazelden Foundation

Nov. 29, 2013 - Today's Gift from Hazelden

Friday, Nov. 29, 2013
Today's thought from Hazelden is:

Reflection for the Day
Now that I know I can't use bottled courage, I seek and pray for 24-hour courage to change the things I can. Obviously, this isn't the kind of courage that will make me a strong and brave person for life, able to handle any and all situations courageously. Rather, what I need is a persistent and intelligent courage, continuing each day into the next one - but doing today only what can be done today and avoiding all fear and worry with regard to the final result. What does courage mean to me today?
Today I Pray
May I tackle only those things which I have a chance of changing. And change must start with me, a day at a time. May I know that acceptance often is a form of courage. I pray not for super-bravery, but just for persistence to meet what life brings to me without being overcome by it.
Today I Will Remember
Courage is meeting a day at a time.
From the book:
A Day at a Time © 1989 by Hazelden Foundation

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Nov. 28, 2013 - Step by Step

Step by Step
Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013

" ...(W)e launched out on a course of vigorous action, the first step of which is a personal housecleaning, which many of us had never attempted. Though our decision was a vital and crucial step, it could have little permanent effect unless at once followed by a strenuous effort to face, and to be rid of, the things in ourselves which had been blocking us. Our liquor was but a symptom. So we had to get down to causes and conditions.
"Therefore, we started upon a personal inventory. This was Step Four." - Alcoholics Anonymous, 3rd Edition, Ch 5 ("How It Works"), pp 64-5.

Today, the "vigorous action" of the Fourth Step cannot and should not be associated with a vigorous schedule, that is, we should not expect a thoroughly honest moral inventory to be done in one sitting. In our impatience or zeal to get to the promises of the Program, we risk skirting the depth of some Steps, and the Fourth is vulnerable. But without depth and absolute honesty, and neglecting to come to terms with some issues identified in the Fourth Step, the integrity and effectiveness of subsequent Steps may be less than what they could and should be. I am required to submit to Step Four and honestly assess both my character defects and moral attributes. But I should not expect that I can honestly compile a thorough list in one attempt, particularly when identifying the "causes and conditions" of which alcohol was "but a symptom." After all, those defects will likely still be there tomorrow if I need a break today from the "vigorous action" that the Fourth requires. And our common journey continues. Step by step. - Chris M., 2013

Nov. 28, 2013 - Twenty-Four Hours a Day

Twenty-Four Hours a Day
Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013

AA Thought for the Day
The AA way is the way of sobriety. AA is known everywhere as a method that has been successful with alcoholics. Doctors, psychiatrists and clergymen have had some success. Some men and women have got sober all by themselves. We believe that AA is the most successful and happiest way to sobriety. And yet AA is, of course, not wholly successful. Some are unable to achieve sobriety and some slip back into alcoholism after they have had some measure of sobriety.

Am I deeply grateful to have found AA?

Meditation for the Day
Gratitude to God is the theme of Thanksgiving Day. The pilgrims gathered to give thanks to God for their harvest which was pitifully small. When we look around at all the things we have today, how can we help being grateful to God? Our families, our homes, our friends, our AA fellowship: all these things are free gifts of God to us. "But for the grace of God," we would not have them.

Prayer for the Day
I pray that I may be very grateful today, I pray that I may not forget where I might be but for the grace of God.

Hazelden Foundation

Nov. 28, 2013 - A Day at a Time

A Day at a Time
Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013

Reflection for the Day
Our faith in God's power - at work in us and in our lives - doesn't relieve us of responsibility. Instead, our faith strengthens our efforts, makes us confident and assured, and enables us to act decisively and wisely. We're no longer afraid to make decisions; we're not afraid to take the steps that seem called for in the proper handling of giving situations.

Do I believe that God is at work beyond my human efforts, and that my faith and trust in Him will bring forth results far exceeding my expectations?

Today I Pray
May my trust in my Higher Power never falter. May my faith in that Power continue to shore up my optimism, my confidence, my belief in my own decision-making. May I never shut my eyes to the wonder of God's work or discount the wisdom of His solutions.

Today I Will Remember
Our hope in ages past, our help for years to come.

Hazelden Foundation

Nov. 28, 2013 - The Eye Opener

The Eye Opener
Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013

Knowledge is of great value, and nothing of value is acquired without price. Wisdom is even more to be desired than knowledge, which can be but an accumulation of facts. Humility is greater than wisdom for there is no real wisdom without humility. The wise are humbled by the knowledge of the limitations of their knowledge.

No man is born with these characteristics, they are born of the vicissitudes of life. Sorrow, despair and failure are their breeding grounds.

Hazelden Foundation

Nov. 28, 2013 - Today's Gift from Hazelden

Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013
Today's thought from Hazelden is:

Gratitude

Sometimes in life, things happen too fast. We barely solve one problem when two new problems surface. We're feeling great in the morning, but we're submerged in misery by nightfall.

Every day we face interruptions, delays, changes, and challenges. We face personality conflicts and disappointments. Often when we're feeling overwhelmed, we can't see the lessons in these experiences.

One simple concept can get us through the most stressful of times. It's called gratitude. We learn to say thank you for these problems and feelings. Thank you for the way things are. I don't like this experience, but thank you anyway.

Force gratitude until it becomes habitual. Gratitude helps us stop trying to control outcomes. It is the key that unlocks positive energy in our life. It is the alchemy that turns problems into blessings, and the unexpected into gifts.

Today, I will be grateful. I will start the process of turning today's pain into tomorrow's joy.
From the book:
The Language of Letting Go © 1990 by Hazelden Foundation

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Nov. 27, 2013 - Twenty-Four Hours a Day

Twenty-Four Hours a Day
Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013

AA Thought for the Day
The way of AA is the way of sobriety, fellowship, service and faith. Let us take up each one of these things and see if our feet are truly on the way. The first and greatest to us is sobriety. The others are built on sobriety as a foundation. We could not have the others if we did not have sobriety. We all come to AA to get sober, and we stay to help others get sober. We are looking for sobriety first, last and all the time. We cannot build any decent kind of a life unless we stay sober.

Am I on the AA way?

Meditation for the Day
To truly desire to do God's will, therein lies happiness for a human being. We start out wanting our own way. We want our wills to be satisfied. We take and we do not give. Gradually we find that we are not happy when we are selfish, so we begin to make allowances for other peoples' wills. But this again does not give us full happiness, and we begin to see that the only way to be truly happy is to try to do God's will. In these times of meditation, we seek to get guidance so that we can find God's will for us.

Prayer for the Day
I pray that I may subordinate my will to the will of God. I pray that I may be guided today to find His will for me.

Hazelden Foundation

Nov. 27, 2013 - A Day at a Time

A Day at a Time
Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013

Reflection for the Day
The Program shows us how to transform the pipe-dream of our pasts into reality and a true sense of purpose, together with a growing consciousness of the power of God in our lives. It's alright to keep our head in the clouds with Him, we're taught, but our feet should remain firmly planted here on earth. Here's where other people are; here's where our work must be accomplished.

Do I see anything incompatible between spirituality and a useful life in the here and now?

Today I Pray
May my new "reality" include not only the nuts and bolts and pots and pans of daily living, but also my spiritual reality, my growing knowledge of the presence of God. May this new reality have room, too, for my dreams - not the drug-induced, mind-drifting fantasies of the past or the remnants of my delusions - but the products of a healthy imagination. May I respect these dreams, anchor them in earth's possibilities and turn them into useful creativity.

Today I Will Remember
Heaven has a place in the here-and-now.

Hazelden Foundation

Nov. 27, 2013 - The Eye Opener

The Eye Opener
Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013

Sorrow and happiness are mental states, but the effect they have upon our nervous system and our blood pressure is a recognized fact.

The "Atmosphere" of a hospital and its staff can lengthen or shorten the duration of an illness.

We alcoholics spent years driving nails into our coffins; let us spend today drawing those nails out.

Hazelden Foundation

Nov. 27, 2013 - Today's Gift from Hazelden

Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013
Today's thought from Hazelden is:

Give to the world the best you have and the best will come back to you.
 -- Madeline Bridges

Sometimes we feel lazy or bored, and then we don't do our best work. Perhaps we are daydreaming instead of listening closely to what a friend is trying to tell us. When we are not really paying attention to our activities or the people around us, we'll likely miss out on something important because we do receive in equal measure what we give. And this truth works in every aspect of our lives.

When we treat our friends, our families, even people we don't know well with kindness, we'll experience kindness in return. Our own actions and attitudes toward others are what we can expect from others as well.
From the book:
Today's Gift © 1985, 1991 by Hazelden Foundation

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Life after a failed suicide attempt

By the time I was 24 years old, I long ago passed that line between social drinking and alcoholism but prided myself that relatives who actually bet money I wouldn't even live to see 24 lost. It was little comfort, though. By the time I was pushed into that desperate decision to stop life on that Thursday morning in January, I had long ago quit asking why I could not begin any day without at least three mixed drinks, what was so wrong that I carried a flask in my car to have a mid-morning shot and why literally every night I drank myself into oblivion. They why's didn't matter any longer; I knew that morning that my life as it was then had to stop and, so cognitively and emotionally ravaged by years of daily drinking that I didn't consider that stopping the drinking was an alternate solution - at its worst, I was at a fifth of Canadian Club a day - I saw only that every day of the rest of my life would be like "this," and "this" was no longer acceptable. Only in dying could I stop it. And I tried, with what police later said were about 60 anti-depressive and mood-altering meds that I had been prescribed by a psychiatrist.

I woke up in a hospital intensive care unit, stymied about how I got there. It was later that I learned my only older sibling, a sister - who herself died in January 2008 after her three-year war with breast cancer - decided to "check" on me, something she'd never done before. She said she found me sprawled on my living room floor, no pulse, no breathing. She dispatched an ambulance, and the burns on my chest where paramedics "hit" me with the electric "paddles" to get my heart started again remained for three months, a reminder of the desperate, lonely and empty soul I had become.

Ironically, it was anger - at God because even He  - rejected me by letting me live and the conclusion that I "can't even die right" - that got me to stop drinking. I figured there was no reason to drink anymore if I couldn't even die right. I had gone to Alcoholics Anonymous for about a year before my suicide attempt but, clearly, I didn't get it. With time on my hands that would otherwise be spent drinking, I started hitting the meetings two or three times a week. For six months, I carried a chip on my shoulder and that anger at God because of what  He "did to me." Until that late July afternoon. Sitting on the stoop outside my apartment, drinking coffee and thinking what BS coffee was when only a few short months earlier I was inside, door locked, curtains drawn and drinking myself into that oblivion where there is nothing, nothing to feel and nothing to hurt. Drinking my coffee sitting on my porch step that July evening, I could hear a gang of kids playing loudly in a nearby park. And this, what I to this day believe to be the first "spiritual awakening" that AA promises, as I was thinking that I wished those "son-of-a-bitch kids would shut the hell up," I noticed at the same time the setting sun behind the top of a huge oak tree and the sound of birds chirping. Then, my own spoken words: "Oh, dear God. What have I done to myself?"

In that moment, I realized that the sound of children playing, a setting and rising sun, and outline of a clear sky behind a towering tree - they had always been there, but I hadn't noticed. I had been too drunk to notice.

My anger at God gone, the brutal reality of what I myself had done to myself and near tears, I knew I had to be at a meeting and, then, this time, to listen and begin again to live.  An "inner voice" suggested I not drive and, in a rare instance, I listened to it. I called another AA member instead and said simply that I wasn't drinking, that I wasn't OK but I was going to be, but that I needed a little help to get to a meeting. My friend complied, asked no questions, sat with me at the meeting, I for once shut up and said nothing but listened and I accepted at that meeting that God apparently still had business with me.

By the grace of God, I have not had a drink since and the regularly scheduled visits to the shrink gradually became fewer and now are non-existent. In the years after my botched suicide attempt, I can to understand why the time I decided to die was not in the cards. It took years amending for the hurt I inflicted on others by my alcoholic drinking and behavior, but eventually I became accepted once again.

Most of those people in my life have long since gone on - both parents, all 10 brothers and sisters, extended relatives. Now I am needed here as the sole caregiver to a terminally ill senior citizen.

In the years after my last drink, as part of my own evolution in life's ever-changing process, I came to understand that the "reason" for my "need" to die was not alcohol but that deeper and darker reasons that I turned to alcohol in the first place. I long ago came to terms with those reasons. But the most important fact that I have discovered is that we, as individuals, must accept ourselves for we who are, not empower others to demean or hurt us because we might not rise to their standards and to live life without setting out to hurt ourselves and others.

I am a suicide survivor, though I do not and never have thought of myself on those terms. Instead, I see myself who came through it and, by the grace of God, listened to be able to live again.

Nov. 26, 2013 - Step by Step

Step by Step
Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013

"Helping others is the foundation stone of your recovery. A kindly act once in a while isn't enough. You have to act the Good Samaritan every day, if need be. It may mean the loss of many nights' sleep, great interference with your pleasures, interruptions to your business. It may mean sharing your money and your home, counseling frantic (spouses) and relatives, innumerable trips to police courts, sanitariums, hospitals, jails and asylums. Your telephone may jangle at any time of the day or night. ...A drunk may smash the furniture in your home, or burn a mattress. You may have to fight with him if he is violent. Sometimes you will have to call a doctor and administer sedatives under his direction."Alcoholics Anonymous, 3rd Edition, 1976, Ch 7 ("Working With Others"), p 97.

Today, just as I was responsible for the consequences of my drinking, so I am also responsible to the benefits of sobriety and recovery. Both sobriety and recovery are a gift, and they require nurturing and work to grow. "(T)he foundation stone of ...recovery" is helping others, that is 12th-stepping by carrying the message and hope of sobriety to others who need and want to receive it. But in our 12th Step work, we must understand that we are also required to stress individual obligation to the gift that we receive in the Program, that the gift is neither a right nor given without responsibility to it. The work of the truly effective and committed 12th-stepper is seldom limited to just talking to someone who reaches out for help. But the work to carry the message and in the process holding onto it ourselves is nowhere near the work needed to get and stay drunk. And our common journey continues. Step by step. - Chris M., 2013

Nov. 26, 2013 - Twenty-Four Hours a Day

Twenty-Four Hours a Day
Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013

AA Thought for the Day
Continuing our thoughts about the rewards that have come to us as a result of our new way of living, we have found we have got rid of many of our fears, resentments, inferiority complexes, negative points of view, self-centeredness, criticism of others, over-sensitiveness, inner conflicts, the habits of procrastination, undisciplined sex, wasting money, boredom, false perfectionism, jealousy and envy of others. We are glad to be rid of our drinking, and we are also very glad to be rid of these other things. We can now go forward in the new way of life, as shown us by AA.

Am I ready to go forward in the new life?

Meditation for the Day
"He that has eyes to see, let him see." To the seeing eye, the world is good. Pray for a seeing eye, to see the purpose of God in everything good. Pray for enough faith to see God's care in His dealings with you. Try to see how He has brought you safely through your past life so that now you can be of use in the world. With the eyes of faith, you can see God's care and purpose everywhere.

Prayer for the Day
I pray that I may have a seeing eye. I pray that with the eye of faith I may see God's purpose everywhere.

Hazelden Foundation