I Usually Wake Up With The Opportunity To Be Unhappy

How we wake up in the morning is a barometer of our Program. 

Are you the kind of person who as soon as you open your eyes begins to obsess about the day ahead. For example, if you have a lunch date with someone later that day do you think about all the things that can go wrong. Maybe you won’t be able to find a parking space, or you will miss the bus, or you won’t like the restaurant, or you will be late for the appointment.

On the other hand, when you wake up in the morning are you the kind of person who takes life “one day at a time.” You will plan to do everything in your power to arrive at your lunch date without a hitch. Once you’ve done that, you can let go of any obsessive thinking. In the event something occurs beyond your control which causes a delay, you won’t  beat yourself up about it. You accept that you are exactly where you are supposed to be in God’s world.

Sometimes we can’t seem to shake the fears we have about the future. When that happens  you can reach out to someone in the Program and talk about your concerns. As part of the conversation they might ask you what Step you are working. They will probably  remind you to focus on Step Two which says, “came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”  Ultimately, we need to ask our Higher Power to remove our obsessive thinking and negativity.

Personal Reflection: How did I wake up this morning?

Call God When There Is No Phone Available

WAt the end of many meetings you will see people exchanging phone numbers. Often, one of them has said something that the other identified with and they decided to stay in contact. Most of us have collected a large list of phone numbers over time.

That little Rolodex of numbers is a valuable tool for the alcoholic, drug or food addict. We have our “regulars” whom we call on a weekly basis just to touch base and talk about how our Program is going. We can also use the phone when we need to make a decision about something and want to get some feedback or advice. Often, we make a call when something is bothering us and need to talk about it and ventilate some of our feelings.

Almost all of us have the luxury and immediate access of a cellphone. Before the era of cellphones, program members were advised to carry around a pocket of loose change. Back then, a phone booth was our cellphone.

Sometimes of course we do make that call and it immediately goes to voicemail. We try another number and it’s busy. We finally reach someone but they can’t talk with us. We really need to dump our feelings or seek advice and no one is picking up. At that point we make a virtual phone call to the One who is always available and who always answers our call.

That conversation often relieves our upset about something. Frequently we even come up with an answer to a problem that has been dogging us. 

Remember, you never need to spend money to chat with your Higher Power.

Personal Reflection: When was the last time I called my Higher Power?

I Blew Through A Lot Of Stop Signs

When we are graced with sobriety, we can take a look back and examine our actions. Recently at a meeting a fellow with one year of sobriety was talking about clearing up some of his past actions while under the influence. He “discovered” a pile of tickets from his township for red light camera violations. He had no remembrance of either going through the red lights or of having received the summonses. Part of his amends process was to pay the fines and penalties on the tickets which ran into the thousands of dollars.

Yes, it’s true that many of us blew through red lights and stop signs on the road. We also blew through stop signs that periodically appeared during our drinking and drugging careers. Signs that had we heeded them would have saved us a lot of pain. Perhaps a doctor spoke with us about the damage we were doing to our bodies through drinking, drugging or binging on food. Maybe a family member sat us down and had a heart to heart talk about our substance abuse. Of course there were the repercussions from our actions while we were in a blackout and of which we had no remembrance. At some point we might even had had a glimmer of awareness that the way we drank, drugged or used food was not within the realms of acceptable behavior. 

Unfortunately, these moments of clarity were not lasting. We might have paused for a day a week or month but we eventually returned to our destructive behavior. 

The blessing is that each  of us eventually  came to a stop sign and  slowed down long enough to admit our powerlessness and unmanageability. That day was the beginning of our recovery.

Personal Reflection: How can I serve as a stop sign for someone who is still active?

AA Introduces You To A Sponsor……

AA (NA or OA) introduces you to a sponsor……

Many a beginner has protested against the idea of getting a sponsor. They think that once they have put down their drug of choice, everything else will fall into place. What that don’t understand is that it is precisely because of their thinking while active that they ended up in unhealthy and often dangerous situations. Once they humbled themselves and committed to speaking with a sponsor they discovered just how convoluted their thinking was.

The sponsor introduces you to the Steps……

As we began to speak with our sponsor, we realized that he or she was not giving us random advice or opinion. Almost immediately they began to take us through the Steps. We began to discover more and more about ourselves as part of the process. Our sponsor also reminded us that a personal inventory needed to assess our strengths as well as our character defects.

The Steps introduce you to God……

As we worked the Steps there was a recognition that we could not successfully navigate sobriety without assistance. In the past, we had relied on drugs, alcohol, food, people, places and things to assist us. In step 2 we finally surrendered and “came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

God introduces you to yourself…..

Over time as we called our sponsor, worked the Steps and called upon our Higher Power something miraculous began to happen. We began to change. Long held resentments were dropped. Owed amends were made. We began to experience the hand of God more and more in our life. Our Higher Power began to reveal to us the possibility of the man or woman we were meant to be.

Personal Reflection: Is more work needed for me to come to know myself?

Smudges On The Mirror

Early recovery for many of us was a bundle of confusion. We had been so full of denial and self loathing for so long that we didn’t have much of an idea of who we really were. To remedy this, we were urged by our sponsor and others to make  a “searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”

Some of us wanted to avoid this process because we didn’t want to have to confront our character defects. We felt it would be too painful to face the truth about ourselves.

One member recently spoke about it this way. She described looking in a mirror that was so smudged that she could barely make out her reflection. That mirror was her life prior to entering the program. Every smudge represented a character defect.

So what do we do when our mirror is smudged? Why of course we clean it with some Windex. For her, every time she worked on a character defect, it was like a spray of Windex removing a smudge on her mirror. As she progressed in her Fourth Step work, the smudges on her mirror slowly began to disappear. For the first time in her life she began to have a clear view of who she was. For the first time in her life she began to like that reflection in the mirror.

Personal Reflection:  What smudges on your mirror still need to be removed?

Acceptance and Serenity

Almost every 12 step meeting regardless of fellowship will begin or end with the serenity prayer, which says, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

At a topic meeting recently, the chairperson of the group had chosen to qualify on acceptance and serenity. After he finished sharing, he opened up the meeting for others to share.  Towards the end of the meeting, one fellow rhetorically asked, “Do you want to know the difference between acceptance and serenity?”

“Acceptance is when you are standing on the 10 item express line at the supermarket where the person in front of you has 13 items and you don’t say anything to them.

And serenity…….Serenity is when you are on the same line and you don’t even count how many items he has in his basket.”

Many of us have mastered moments of acceptance,where instead of blurting out a criticism or a disagreement we exercise self-control over our speech muscles. Yet one often still senses a degree of agitation which percolates along with our self-control.

To come to a place where we no longer even “count” is a much more rarefied spiritual state. 

You can determine if you are in acceptance or in serenity by examining if there is any “counting” chatter in your head the next time you are presented with a challenging situation.

Personal Reflection: Have I gone beyond acceptance and moved towards serenity in my life?