The Importance of Sponsorship

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Sponsorship is one of the tools of recovery in Twelve Step programs. I, however, would call it more than a tool. I would call it absolutely necessary for honest recovery.  Whereas I can fool myself pretty much all of the time, I can never fool my sponsor for very long. Nor would I want to.

This morning, I went to an OA meeting. I admitted that I’m still in deep denial about the whole process. I didn’t even admit that I’m a compulsive overeater. I merely said “Hi, I’m Chris” and began my sharing.

The miracle though, the one I’m referring to with the picture I’ve inserted here, is what I did even before the meeting started. I approached a woman I’d been thinking about whom I listened to at my very first meeting. Her name is Mary, and she has a strong program, I can tell. Plus, she seems like she would know what to do if you called her in a panic. 😉 You know what I mean?

I already have a strong Al-Anon sponsor. But Dori would not know what to do about compulsive overeating because she does not struggle with that addiction.

So I saw Mary getting out of her car, and even before the meeting starting I walked up to her and asked her. “I’m still in deep denial about the whole thing. I just thought you should know.” I told her. “But I’m willing to do whatever you ask  me to do. Absolutely anything.” She never hesitated. She wrote her phone number on the inside of my Big Book of AA (our basic text for OA).

I’m calling her at 6:00 tonight. I’m SO looking forward to it.

Peace out.

Serenity

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The original serenity prayer is stated as follows: “God, give us the grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.” This serenity prayer was written by Reinhold Niebuhr.

Over time, Alcoholics Anonymous adopted the prayer as part of the Twelve Step program. The prayer was modified and is said as: “God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, courage to change the things we can, and wisdom to know the difference.” While the serenity prayer’s origin may be sketchy, the prayer has been used extensively in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) since 1942.

One of AA”s founders, Bill W., says the prayer was introduced to the program by Jack, an AA member in New York. According to “A.A. Comes of Age,” Bill W. writes how Jack found the prayer in A New York Tribune obituary. Soon after, the prayer was printed on small cards and carried everywhere by AA members.

The rest is history: the serenity prayer is known worldwide as a prayer of strength and hope for AA and Al-Anon, and other myriad Twelve step members. I know it has helped me many a time, to the point where I’m praying it without even being aware of it at first.

Peace out.

Thanksgiving Day Redux

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A couple months ago I wrote a post about gratitude, and today seemed a fitting day to revisit the subject. So here we are.

At the meeting this morning we chose three readings, and they all seemed related to changing our attitudes, whether it had to do with a state of needless worry, or communication with the alcoholic in our lives, or whatever.

It made me realize how much there is in my life – right now, this minute – to be grateful for. My mother will by 85 years old this year and is in very good health, still quite active and social (often more than me!).

I still keep the gratitude book my sponsor asked me to keep, and it is not hard to think of five things every day to be thankful for. Sometimes they are small, simple things . . . and other times they feel like huge, miraculous achievements.

My sister is safe in her own home right now. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, and that’s just fine, because we don’t live in tomorrow. We live one day at a time, right? We live in the moment. God’s taking care of her, and she couldn’t be in better hands than that as far as I’m concerned.

My mind is not as clear as it once was, because of the CFS, but I have a wise, compassionate doctor.

More and more friends every day, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2Tim 1:7)

For those things and so much more, I am forever indebted. What are you thankful for today? 🙂

Peace out.

Hands . . . Off

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The tenth step of Al-Anon says: “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.” It’s one of those steps I take on a daily basis, or try to, before I hit the sheets at night, during my prayer time. I ask God to point out to me any areas where I might need to make amends. I also acknowledge any successes or achievements throughout the day, and am grateful for those. It’s a time for me to make any adjustments in my life.

The adjustments aren’t always easy, and sometimes take much longer than the recognition comes. You know?

So this morning I was aware when I spoke with my sister that I had been stepping over boundaries left and right into her program. Worried, I had been speaking out of that and telling her what I think would happen or what I think she should be doing. 😦

When I look at my hands and my arms, I see the scars still there from self-harm (cutting and burning). The ways I coped in the past with my codependency were so varied, convoluted and harmful. I still mess up, as witnessed by stepping on boundaries. I took the picture to remind myself I’m so very human. I’m no better than anyone else.

So I spoke with her, I apologized, told her I overstepped my bounds. This time I said, “I only know what I can do. I don’t know what’s going to happen. The only thing I know for a fact is that I love you.”

Peace out.

 

A Whole Lot of Love

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Love

At Saturday’s meeting there was another double winner, like me, a friend of mine (at least, she signed my sheet, so I count her among  my friends now 😉 ) who is in both AA and Al-Anon. She mentioned when it was her time to share that she was celebrating that very day 27 YEARS of sobriety. Whoo hoo!!!

All meetings have a different sort of “flavor,” and this meeting is much looser, and allows crosstalk. We allow questions and direct statements back and forth to each other because we are a very small and close-knit group. It’s just how we are. Most groups don’t allow that, because it tends to put people off and they then don’t feel very willing to share their story.

Anyway, what I did was, I asked her “How’d you do it?”, which is a question oft-asked of people who get a token for achievements such as this. People want to know how one made it through even a month of such an achievement, let alone 27 years.

Well, “J”, my dear friend, simply said, “It was love. A whole lot of love.” And then she couldn’t talk anymore about it because she got pretty choked up.

Love pretty nearly does make the world go ’round. God’s love, through Him, and through His people.

Peace out.

P.S. Got three more phone numbers of potential friends Monday morning. Yay me!! 🙂

Fear and its Antidote: Faith

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Fear

Often, around the tables, we will hear the acronym F*E*A*R defined as “F*ck Everything And Run.” 😉

I’m sorry if that offended anyone, but lately it is more my intention to be honest and as upfront as I can . . . I try also to be kind, but sometimes they do not go hand-in-hand, when the truth is so very important.

Yesterday, just before I left for my meeting, I received heartbreaking, devastating family news. My heart literally broke into pieces at the same time I could feel my pulse begin to race and mouth dried up like the desert.

I had two choices. I could stay home and wait by the phone for further news, or I could go ahead to the meeting where I knew I would get help.

I had my phone with me. I told my mom it was turned on, that I would take it into the meeting with me (normally a strict “no-no”, but this was a looser meeting) and duck out to answer it if she called. I prayed so hard for my family member that day on the way to the meeting, for a future forever changed by one choice. I prayed for protection, for guidance, for comfort against fear . . . all the things that people pray when they are concerned.

My biggest fear, one that I need to turn over many times a day to God, because I keep doubting, and having to grab onto faith again, is that my loved one will forever hate me. Because I am changed today, because I make different choices due in much gratitude to the Al-Anon program, there is one big thing I did not do yesterday . . . to rescue.

I am in constant prayer. I keep a candle lit. They have no idea how much we love them and how difficult these choices are. It’s not just a flip I switched in my mind and was like “Oh, I think I’ll torment someone today. I think I’ll make them spend the night in hell. See how that feels.” It’s not like that at all.

Faith doesn’t pull any punches, though. Faith knows what it knows and it still believes . . . and acts.

Peace out.

 

De Nile: It Really Isn’t Just a River in Egypt!

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It’s fairly easy to talk the talk. It’s much easier to tell people what to do, to give people advice, than to take that advice for oneself. What I’m trying to say is, I’ve been in some denial about something pretty big.

I’ve said here on my blog that I’m a “double winner,” and by that I mean I am a member of two anonymous groups: Al-Anon, and Overeaters Anonymous. Well, I’m in a rather large amount of denial about OA, and I intend to change that in this blog post.

I’ve still been attending the meetings. I just haven’t been reading any of the literature that I’ve purchased. Whenever we go around and say our names before sharing, most people say “Hi, I’m so-and-so, and I’m a compulsive overeater.” I say, “Hi, I’m Chris, I’m a sugar addict, and I’m in huge denial about it.” Then I continue my sharing.

I suppose I could just say I’m a compulsive overeater like everyone else. Why the need to be unique? Well, it’s not so much a need to be unique, as a need to be specific. I don’t struggle with other carbs. I struggle with sugar specifically. Once I eat something sweet, specifically chocolate or a cake-y thing, I’m a goner.

If I don’t buy it, or it’s not in the house, I’m okay. But I’ve been known to eat sugar just by the spoonful if I’m desperate for that “feeling.” And if you’re a sugar addict, you’ll know what I mean. It’s a euphoria, a calmness that overtakes one, followed by numbness and a quite sleepy feeling. There’s nothing like it.

When I think about it, I’ve used sugar to comfort myself since childhood days. Sugar and I go way back. It’s probably why my weight has gone up and down so much during my lifetime. When I was particularly scared, and didn’t know what to do, I would take a box of cake mix down from the cupboard and pour a bit out int a cup, mix that with some water and eat it with a spoon. Weird, eh? But it comforted me, went straight to those neurotransmitters that told my brain, “Mmm, this means something good.” I was probably all of eight or nine at the time.

But now, with something like chronic fatigue syndrome, I know I’m playing with fire. It’s a stupid, dangerous thing to keep turning to sugar when I know I’ll only crash and burn. It makes me feel worse than I would had I not gone to it in the first place. I need to take care of myself, because there’s only one me, like it or not. And I do love Lucy . She’s supposed to live to about 14 yrs. old.

It feels good to get through this. Denial is tough. It’s not easy to cut through; takes a machete. 😉

Peace out.

Chris’s Recovery Manifesto

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I wrote this for myself, but feel free to take and leave whatever works for you. We’re all in this thing called recovery together, right? We need to help each other as much as we can. 😉 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

CHRIS’S RECOVERY MANIFESTO

Boundaries are good. They’re important.

There is no such thing as too many meetings.

It’s okay to need people.

“No” does not require an explanation.

If you don’t mean it, don’t say it. If it comes out anyway, be prepared to make amends.

Always follow through.

It’s okay to be human; mistakes happen. What’s important is the getting back up part.

Call your sponsor.

Stop worrying about what other people think of you. It’s none of your business what they think of you.

Do the best you can; at the end of the day that’s all you can do.

Pray always. Pray about everything, the little things and the big things. Say thank you, regardless of what happens.

Never take the steps out of order. They were written that way for a reason.

Let go and let God.

Breathe. Breathe again.

Remember that you can’t save anyone, not even yourself. That’s God’s job.

Stop trying to control the moon and the stars. They were here long before you, and they function quite fine without your help.

People are who they are. Accept that and avoid much heartache.

Love them anyway.

Live big. Dream big. Laugh long and hard.

Have goals. Change them as necessary.

Always love and know that someone loves you.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Note: I reserve the right to add to and edit this manifesto as I grow and learn more about myself and this thing called life. 


Peace out.

G is for Grace

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It’s no secret that I grew up in an alcoholic home. I lived my childhood and most of my adult years and sometimes still today thinking I

had to be perfect and that I was responsible for everyone around me. When I became a born-again believer on March 5, 1997 I clearly understood God’s grace for my life, and that there was nothing I COULD do that would ever make me perfect or even NEAR perfect compared to Christ and what He had done for me.

The amazing thing about grace is it’s there for me to call on whenever I need it.

According to Dictionary Online, grace means, among other things: mercy, clemency, and pardon. It also means LOVE, favor, goodwill, and kindness. How cool is that?

My sponsor and I have talked about this many times, as she is also a Christian. We have talked about the idea of speaking the truth with grace to others, and how difficult that is, both growing up in alcoholic homes. When you haven’t been raised with grace, it’s hard to know what that looks like, feels like.

So the best we can do, we decided, is to speak the truth with kindness, gentleness. Even being polite, respectful.

When I’ve tripped and stumbled in my walk, when I’ve made a mistake, it still takes me a bit to get back up and approach God. I’m not quite at the point where I can run to Him and agree freely that I’ve blown it.

I’ll get there. It’s a journey, and I’m not going anywhere.

Happy Easter, friends. Grace to you!

This is a post for the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. My theme is “taking care of ourselves.” Check out some of the other bloggers participating.

A is for Acceptance

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Wanting that feeling of being approved/accepted comes from deep within our hearts, and it starts when we are very young.

I remember needing nothing more than to be accepted as a child, for who I was. It seemed my well-meaning parents were always wanting to make me into something different. A better, more-polished, more-polite, more-confident, more . . .  version of Chris.

It seems like it takes so much for us to shake off those old tapes and that old wiring and reach for something better, even if that something better is so spectacular as to be a higher power, whom I choose to call God.

We DO get some DO-OVERS in life. We get second chances to get acceptance in life. I get it in Al-Anon, around the tables,with God, and with the best sponsor in the whole, wide world. 🙂

At those meetings, I don’t have to pretend to be something I’m not. I don’t have to struggle for the right words, or say them in the right way. I can have an off day. No one is going to fault me for it. I can laugh, cry, get angry. I still get a hug at the end of the meeting.

Do I still work hard at changing myself, as this lovely cartoon by Cathy Thorne suggests? SOMETIMES. But it’s not so much big changes, because I think I have begun climbing this daunting mountain called Acceptance. I’m halfway there. 🙂

Until I get to the top, I can let OTHER people accept me the way I am . . . that, too, gets me there more quickly.

The thing is, I don’t think we can truly accept OTHERS unconditionally if we cannot do the same with OURSELVES. How are you doing?

Peace out.

The Ruffle Scarf Pattern And Magic Knitting

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ruffle scarf
Okay, so it’s not really magic. I mean, I don’t believe in magic. But I don’t know how else to explain the Ruffle Scarf Pattern, and I’m . . . actually, I’m enchanted by it.

I’ve always been, like addicted to patterns. When I get upset or stressed out, I count things in my mind. People don’t know it or see it; but I’m counting things – tiles, the number of people in the room, etc. Or I’ll repeat the serenity prayer a certain number of times in my head, then just the acceptance part. Over and over. I think maybe I have a touch of OCD. hehe

At least with knitting, that obsessive nature has a productive end to it. But the Ruffle Scarf – it’s such a simple pattern: Cast on 20 stitches, knit 20 stitches, knit 8, turn, knit 8 into the back of the 8 you just knitted, knit 6, turn, knit 6 into the 6 you just knitted, knit 4, turn, knit 4 into the 4 you just knitted. That’s it! Then you start again and continue until the end of the skein of yarn or your fingers fall off, whichever comes first. ;).

But the beauty of it is when the scarf begins to ruffle. It doesn’t happen for a while. You have to be patient, which I’m not good at. I’ve made a few of them, given them out as gifts, and made one for myself. I knit them at meetings, because they don’t take a lot of concentration, and I can still listen to the other members at the Al-Anon tables and watch as what looks like nothing starts to turn into a magical spiral before my very eyes and fingers!

It’s magic! I know, I said I didn’t believe in it, but how else can you explain it? lol

Same thing happens to us, doesn’t it? We start out pretty rough . . . ahem, some of us still are . . . and over time we become something God can use.