Sat at an “envelope” meeting this morning, which is where people pass around an envelope at the table and each person picks out a little piece of paper, and whatever is on the paper is what you talk about.
It may be a step, a slogan, or what have you. It was absolutely one of the best tables I’ve sat at in a long time. Not necessarily because of what my piece of paper read, or because of what I talked about, but because of what the woman, Marty, said next to me.
“Our first reaction is our disease, and our second reaction is our recovery.”
That is SO cool. Which tells me I usually need to let myself sit and think before I say anything.
Hope you are having a lovely Sunday. Peace out.
“Serenity isn’t freedom from the storms of life. It’s the calm in the middle of the storm that gets me through. It’s up to me to try to keep this calm, even when the storm gets worse.” -Alateen–a day at a time, p. 30
This picture, and this quote, are so perfect for the topic of the day, which is of course, serenity.
Serenity manifests itself in several ways for me. When I need that calm in the middle of the storm, these are the places I go/things I do/people I seek:
1. Pray. I often think it’s not always the first thing I remember, but it always is, when I look back on the storm. When I have time to think my prayers are long and detailed, but when I don’t, my prayers are like this, “Oh dear God . . . please God . . . please please please . . .” So I don’t always think I’m praying. But God hears me, and He always begins calming His child.
2. Talk it out. I usually call my super sponsor. She’s always honest with me and tells me if she’s not available or if she’s just walking out the door, in which case I would call someone in one of several of my meeting lists to talk with. Unless of course, I call my super sponsor in tears, in which case she has told me she would drop everything to talk to me. This also brings on serenity in the midst of the storm.
3. Go to a meeting. Even though it’s hard, because in the midst of a storm, I’m afraid I’ll fall apart and cry, the best place for me to be at that time is at a meeting. It centers me, it reminds me I’m SO not alone, and I’m SO not the only one who has storms. Plus I usually get hugs, and there is a tissue box at meetings. Yes, other people have cried too. I’m SO not unique. Dang.
4. Read Al-Anon Approved literature. Anything, whether it’s from a meditation book or from the Big Book of Al-Anon itself, will help to bring me serenity and calm me in the middle of a storm. One definition of serenity I found for serenity is tranquility, and I would guess that’s tranquilizer-free. Whenever I read something, even a paragraph conference-approved literature, I find a gem that helps me feel stable and grounded, free from floating anxiety.
5. Help someone else. Have you ever called someone for help, asked them politely how they are and found that they are in a worse state than you? Helping someone else can put things in perspective for me, adding to that calm center, and remind me how blessed I truly am.
6. Make a gratitude list. Yes. Right in the middle of the chaos. Find a quiet corner or go outside if the weather is nice. Find one thing to be thankful for, even if it’s just “I woke up this morning,” or “I have all four of my limbs and they’re in perfect working condition.” I’m always so surprised that once I write one down I’m able to write one more and then before I know it I have five.
What are some ways that serenity manifests itself for you? How do you get to that calm place in the middle of a storm?
Often, when people get to the 2nd step, Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity, they are not quite sure what to do.
Many (including yours truly) have come from a place where they felt so beaten down they didn’t believe anything or anyone could fix it. I was told “Keep coming back.” So I did. I came. That’s all I could do for a while. I came and got my butt in the chair and I listened.
I came and then I came to and then I came to believe.
It’s a process, and it looks different for everyone because everyone is an individual.
Here’s the problem, though. Sometimes, people in the program will make another person their higher power. Like, say, a sponsor. So what do you suppose happens if that sponsor should happen to get really sick, or die?
The difficulty is people are fallible. They are HUMAN. They make mistakes. Sometimes they fall down. Sometimes they’re late, or they forget to call, or they don’t show up at all. If we rely on another human being — someone with 10 fingers and 10 toes, just like us — we are in for a world of hurt.
I found myself thinking this morning “What in the world would I do if Super Sponsor died?” (I don’t really call her that in my mind, but this is an anonymous blog.) The fact is, I’d be really sad. I’d probably cry for a long time, because I love her a lot. She’s a great person. But I’d have to move on with my life, because she wouldn’t want me to suffer for too long.
My higher power is God. He doesn’t go on vacation. He’s never late, He is always there when I call, He doesn’t have voice mail, is never in a pissy mood, always has time to listen, loves to hear me go on and on about things I have on my mind, and has the best solutions if I just listen.
Who’s your higher power?
The 11th step from Al-Anon states: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
According to Dictionary.com, the word ‘conscious‘ means: 1. aware of one’s own existence, sensations, thoughts,surroundings, etc., and 2. fully aware of or sensitive to something (among others that you may peruse if you wish ). Some synonyms of conscious are understanding, sure, vigilant, watchful. Contact can be seen a few different ways: touch, actual touch; meeting between two people; a nifty friend or acquaintance who can garner you influence.
I’ve been trying to improve my conscious contact with God, and yesterday I wanted so badly to be in His will, but I struggled with my own anxiety and it felt like a huge risk I would be taking. It seems like such a silly thing to say now.
Since I’m going to be 50 years old in September, I qualify for the senior choral in my city. It’s a very big deal. It’s not just singing they do, but dancing, skits and small group duets and singing. There’s a big production once a year, and this year it’s about Broadway show tunes. I had been looking forward to it, but as my mom and I (she’s been in the group for years, approaching her 85th birthday this year) sat on the porch, just about ready to go, anxiety sank in my stomach like a serrated knife. It was that quick.
Mom suggested I go anyway, just to see what it was like. I wouldn’t have to commit, or pay the $50 fee until the next week. She was already sure I would love it, because everyone was going to love on me and not want to let me go. I was so anxious I ended up taking an anti-anxiety med before I left. All the way there I asked my mom questions. And I was so glad Tweetybird was clean, because we drove my car so I could smoke on the way. Yeah, now you know why I sing Tenor.
Well, I prayed and prayed as we walked in the door. I already knew God wanted me to take more chances and to get out into the world. I needed more friends, and these were good people, friends I could count on to stick with me through thick and thin. They had been there for my mother for several years already. Hadn’t He stuck with me through my anxiety with work at the Book Nook? What other proof did I need?
So I went in, and every hand I shook, I couldn’t help but blurt out, “I was so NERVOUS! I don’t know why I was so nervous, because everyone’s been so nice to me!” …even though I had pointedly expressed to my mother NOT to mention to anyone how anxious I’d been, on pain of death. ::eyeroll::
It’s amazing what can happen when we keep up that conscious contact, and we stay in at least what we hope is God’s will . . . He always gives us the power to carry it out. Whew! Slept 9 1/2 hours last night after that. Was pretty tired. But it was such a good experience.
AND . . . I ended up paying the $50 that very day. I didn’t need to wait. I also signed up for skits and small group singing. It’s going to be a bang-up production. Wish you were here!