I started a Web Site in 1999 when I came back into the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. Tripod decided to block me a few years ago , so I stopped writing, posting. SO I decided to take the posts I had there and put them here. Plus new ones I found on the net and shares of my own. Take what you need and pass on the rest! Blessings ds♥

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Thankful for this day


I wake each morning with the thrill of expectation and the joy of being truly alive. And I'm thankful for this day.
-Angela L. Wozniak

Being open to the day's offering, all of it, and looking for the positive experiences therein, becomes habit only after a firm commitment and dedicated practice. Today is special for each of us.

These next twenty-four hours will be unlike all others. And we are not the persons we were, even as recently as yesterday. Looking forward to all of the day's events, with the knowledge that we are in the care of our higher power, in every detail, frees us to make the most of everything that happens.

We have been given the gift of life. We are survivors. The odds against survival in our past make clear we have yet a job to do and are being given the help to do it. Confidence wavers in all of us, but the strength we need will be given to each of us.

In this day that stands before me, I can be certain that I'll have many chances for growth, for kindness to others, for developing confidence in myself. I will be thoughtful in my actions today. They are special and will be repeated no more.
You are reading from the book Each Day a New Beginning

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Expectations



"My serenity is inversely proportional
to my expectations.
The higher my expectations of other people are,
the lower is my serenity.
I can watch my serenity level rise
when I discard my expectations.
But then my 'rights' try to move in,
and they, too, can force my serenity level down.
I have to discard my 'rights,'
as well as my expectations, by asking myself,
'How important is it, really?
How important is it compared to my serenity,
my emotional sobriety?'
And when I place more value on my serenity and sobriety
than on anything else,
I can maintain them at a higher level--
at least for the time being."
Alcoholics Anonymous, 3rd Edition p. 452

Thought to Consider . . .

Lower your standards and improve your program.

*~*~*AACRONYMS*~*~*

GRACE
Gently Releasing All Conscious Expectations


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Requiem For An Alkie


We don't have to drink to die of alcoholism. We buried him yesterday. The County Coroner had published the required notices for next of kin and nobody had claimed the body. It was just myself, and his sponsor, not even a preacher - the county doesn't pay for those.

Not much of send-off, and not the one David had asked for. A cheap coffin, a backhoe digging a hole, and that was it - another old AA gone.

He had been sober over 20 years and in and around AA over 30, a stern and rigid man who tried to soften his edges and never could. He was a loner, an isolated man at the edge of life's good things. He hung in there ... and in the end hung himself.

I don't know why; I can't know. I know there had been a diagnosis of senile dementia, and I know that the doctor had added cancer to the list. But, I've seen AAs deal with such things before ... I don't know why David decided he couldn't.

It isn't the first time I've been through this in Alcoholics Anonymous. I've known several over the years who just up and walked out life's door one day. Sober, but not happy. Sober, but not at peace. Sober, but they died of alcoholism. Our disease doesn't need us to drink in order to kill us. I wish more folks knew that, and appreciated it. Alcoholism is the only disease that is entirely capable of fighting back, of taking care of itself, and of emerging in new places and new forms when it isn't properly treated. That's because of the spiritual malady.

Most people think that has something to do with prayer or with God. It doesn't. It has to do with 'our spirit' ... that force which animates, motivates and propels us.

As an alcoholic, my spirit is ill. It is flawed. My character, or basic nature, doesn't work right. At its root, it is a fundamental and irresolvable insecurity ... a hole that can't ever be filled. It is an instinct run rampant, a desperate need for acceptance and love that cannot be met. It hurts. It fills one with fear. The selfishness and self-centeredness of the alcoholic lies here ... we are totally preoccupied with what is going on with ourselves on the inside. The slings and arrows of experience warped by this need drive us to the fringe, and the voices of the committee in our head keep us there.

We are obsessed with ourselves, and from this condition of mind ... the insanity of feelings gone haywire, we become self-medicators eventually. We discover alcohol or something else ... and the stuff quiets the voices, provides the relief we've never been able to find in any other way.

It isn't any wonder we drink, or drug, the way we do. And some of us don't develop an addiction ... in attempting to meet these crying demands of our spirit become ill, we develop other malformations of behavior, and suffer in a hundred different ways.

God broke David's obsession to drink. But, I don't think David ever truly understood his disease. I say that because I watched him struggle with those old unresolved issues of his heart for years. His rigidity, coldness, aloofness, isolation and difficulty with other people were a reflection of the pain in his heart ... of the disease of alcoholism gone deep inside, and still active.

Alcoholism didn't need David to drink in order to continue trying to kill him, and in the end ... it succeeded. In the end, instead of self abandoned ... David abandoned hope ... and discovered a bitter end.

Our recovery from alcoholism through the Steps must be a three-fold process. It is not one-dimensional. When we say, in AA, that we have a triangle ... recovery, unity, service ... we mean it. In working the Steps, I clear a pathway for two purposes ... first, to come into a group of human people and away from the fringe of society where I have spent most of my emotional life. Secondly, discovering 'belonging', through service to the people within that group. It is only this entire, threefold process that heals.

It is especially true for those of us who suffer from the spiritual malady to a great degree. Perhaps the 12th Step says it best: "Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps (recovery), we tried to carry this message to other alcoholics (service) and practice these principles in all our affairs (unity).

You see ... I cannot hold back. I must not continue to suffer that shyness, aloneness, that overwhelming sense of self ... in my affairs. I must get involved in a group of people to practice these principles in all my affairs. Only the total approach is healing. Anything less is little more than driving my disease deep ... and if I do that ... it will continue to eat away, trying to destroy me. It destroyed David.

This is a memorial to an old AA who gave his best shot ... and I think David ended up on the plus side. It wasn't his fault; he seemed to have been born that way. There were a lot of old ideas about self that David could never muster the willingness to let go of.

He is at rest now. But it says somewhere that "no matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others." David cannot speak to his experience any longer. I am speaking in his memory. And I think that if David could talk to us today, he'd say "Understand your disease thoroughly, and work the complete program of recovery!"



THE AWAKENING -The Moment of Clarity-

 
A time comes in your life when you finally get it. . . when, in the midst of all your fears and insanity, you stop dead in your tracks and somewhere the voice inside your head cries out - ENOUGH!
Enough of fighting and crying or struggling to hold on. And, like a child quieting down after a blind tantrum, your sobs begin to subside, you shudder once or twice, you blink back your tears and begin to look at the world through new eyes.
This is your awakening . . .
You realize it's time to stop hoping and waiting for something to change...or for happiness, safety and security to come galloping over the next horizon.
You come to terms with the fact that you are neither Prince Charming or Cinderella and that in the real world there aren't always fairy tale endings (or beginnings for that matter) and that any guarantee of "happily ever after" must begin with you...and in the process a sense of serenity is born of acceptance.
You awaken to the fact that you are not perfect and that not everyone will always love, appreciate or approve of who or what you are ... and that's OK. They are entitled to their own views and opinions. And you learn the importance of loving and championing yourself...and in the process a sense of new found confidence is born of self-approval.
You stop complaining and blaming other people for the things they did to you (or didn't do for you) and you learn that the only thing you can really count on is the unexpected.
You learn that people don't always say what they mean or mean what they say and that not everyone will always be there for you and that it's not always about you. So, you learn to stand on your own and to take care of yourself...and in the process a sense of safety and security is born of self-reliance.
You stop judging and pointing fingers and you begin to accept people as they are and to overlook their shortcomings and human frailties..and in the process a sense of peace and contentment is born of forgiveness.
You realize that much of the way you view yourself, and the world around you, is as a result of all the messages and opinions that have been ingrained into your psyche. And you begin to sift through all the junk you've picked up from the garbage dump of others about how you should behave, how you should look, how much you should weigh, what you should wear, what you should do for a living, how much money you should make, what you should drive, how and where you should live, who you should marry, the importance of having and raising children, and what you owe your parents, family, and friends.
You learn to open up to new worlds and different points of view. And you begin reassessing and redefining who you are and what you really stand for.
You learn the difference between wanting and needing and you begin to discard the doctrines and values you've outgrown ... and in the process you learn to go with your instincts.
You learn that it is truly in giving that we receive. And that there is power and glory in creating and contributing and you stop maneuvering through life merely as a "consumer" looking for your next fix.
You learn that principles such as honesty and integrity are not the outdated ideals of a bygone era but the mortar that holds together the foundation upon which you must build a life.
You learn that you don't know everything, it's not your job to save the world and that you can't teach a pig to sing.
You learn to distinguish between guilt and responsibility and the importance of setting boundaries and learning to say NO.
You learn that the only cross to bear is the one you choose to carry and that martyrs get burned at the stake.
Then you learn about LOVE. How to love, how much to give in love, when to stop giving and when to walk away.
You learn to look at relationships as they really are and not as you would have them be.
You stop trying to control people, situations and outcomes. And you learn that alone does not mean lonely.
You also stop working so hard at putting your feelings aside, smoothing things over and ignoring your needs. You learn that feelings of entitlement are perfectly OK....and that it is your right to want things and to ask for the things you want ... and that sometimes it is necessary to make demands.
You come to the realization that you deserve to be treated with love, kindness, sensitivity and respect and you won't settle for less. And you learn that your body really is your temple. And you begin to care for it and treat it with respect. You begin to eat a balanced diet, drink more water, and take more time to exercise.
You learn that being tired fuels doubt, fear, and uncertainty and so you take more time to rest. And, just as food fuels the body, laughter fuels our soul. So you take more time to laugh and to play.
You learn that, for the most part, you get in life what you believe you deserve...and that much of life truly is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
You learn that anything worth achieving is worth working for and that wishing for something to happen is different than working toward making it happen. More importantly, you learn that in order to achieve success you need direction, discipline and perseverance.
You also learn that no one can do it all alone....and that it's OK to risk asking for help.
You learn the only thing you must truly fear is the greatest robber baron of all: FEAR itself. You learn to step right into and through your fears because you know that whatever happens you can handle it and to give in to fear is to give away the right to live life on your own terms. And you learn to fight for your life and not to squander it living under a cloud of impending doom.
You learn that life isn't always fair, you don't always get what you think you deserve and that sometimes bad things happen to unsuspecting, good people. On these occasions you learn not to personalize things.
You learn that God isn't punishing you or failing to answer your prayers. It's just life happening.
And you learn to deal with evil in its most primal state - the EGO.
You learn that negative feelings such as anger, envy and resentment must be understood and redirected or they will suffocate the life out of you and poison the universe that surrounds you.
You learn to admit when you are wrong and to build bridges instead of walls.
You learn to be thankful and to take comfort in many of the simple things we take for granted, things that millions of people upon the earth can only dream about: a full refrigerator, clean running water, a soft warm bed, a long hot shower.
Slowly, you begin to take responsibility for yourself by yourself. You make yourself a promise to never betray yourself and to never, ever settle for less than your heart's desire. And you hang a wind chime outside your window so you can listen to the wind. And you make it a point to keep smiling, to keep trusting, and to stay open to every wonderful possibility.
Finally, with courage in your heart and God by your side you take a stand, you take a deep breath, and you begin to design the life you want to live as best you can.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Tradition Three

The only requirement for A .A. member­ship is a desire to stop drinking.”
 
 
THIS Tradition is packed with meaning. For A.A. is really saying to every serious drinker, “You are an A.A. member if you say so. You can declare yourself in; nobody can keep you out. No matter who you are, no matter how low you’ve gone, no matter how grave your emotional complications— even your crimes—we still can’t deny you A.A. We don’t want to keep you out. We aren’t a bit afraid you’ll harm us, never mind how twisted or violent you may be. We just want to be sure that you get the same great chance for so­briety that we’ve had. So you’re an A.A. member the minute you declare yourself.”
To establish this principle of membership took years of harrowing experience. In our early time, nothing seemed so fragile, so easily breakable as an A.A. group. Hardly an alcoholic we approached paid any attention; most of those who did join us were like flickering candles in a windstorm. Time after time, their uncertain flames blew out and couldn’t be relighted. Our unspoken, constant thought was “Which of us may be the next?”
A member gives us a vivid glimpse of those days. “At one time,” he says, “every A.A. group had many membership rules. Everybody was scared witless that something or some­body would capsize the boat and dump us all back into the drink. Our Foundation office* asked each group to send in its list of ‘protective’ regulations. The total list was a mile long. If all those rules had been in effect everywhere, nobody could have possibly joined A.A. at all, so great was the sum of our anxiety and fear.
“We were resolved to admit nobody to A.A. but that hy­pothetical class of people we termed ‘pure alcoholics.’ Ex­cept for their guzzling, and the unfortunate results thereof, they could have no other complications. So beggars, tramps, asylum inmates, prisoners, queers, plain crackpots, and fallen women were definitely out. Yes sir, we’d cater only to pure and respectable alcoholics! Any others would surely destroy us. Besides, if we took in those odd ones, what would decent people say about us? We built a fine-mesh fence right around A.A.
“Maybe this sounds comical now. Maybe you think we oldtimers were pretty intolerant. But I can tell you there was nothing funny about the situation then. We were grim be­cause we felt our lives and homes were threatened, and that was no laughing matter. Intolerant, you say? Well, we were frightened. Naturally, we began to act like most everybody does when afraid. After all, isn’t fear the true basis of in­tolerance? Yes, we were intolerant.”
How could we then guess that all those fears were to prove groundless? How could we know that thousands of these sometimes frightening people were to make astonish­ing recoveries and become our greatest workers and inti­mate friends? Was it credible that A.A. was to have a divorce rate far lower than average? Could we then foresee that troublesome people were to become our principal teach­ers of patience and tolerance? Could any then imagine a society which would include every conceivable kind of char­acter, and cut across every barrier of race, creed, politics, and language with ease?
Why did A.A. finally drop all its membership regula­tions? Why did we leave it to each newcomer to decide him­self whether he was an alcoholic and whether he should join us? Why did we dare to say, contrary to the experience of society and government everywhere, that we would neither punish nor deprive any A.A. of membership, that we must never compel anyone to pay anything, believe anything, or conform to anything?
The answer, now seen in Tradition Three, was simplicity itself. At last experience taught us that to take away any alcoholic’s full chance was sometimes to pronounce his death sentence, and often to condemn him to endless mis­ery. Who dared to be judge, jury, and executioner of his own sick brother?
As group after group saw these possibilities, they finally abandoned all membership regulations. One dramatic expe­rience after another clinched this determination until it be­came our universal tradition. Here are two examples:
On the A.A. calendar it was Year Two. In that time noth­ing could be seen but two struggling, nameless groups of alcoholics trying to hold their faces up to the light
A newcomer appeared at one of these groups, knocked on the door and asked to be let in. He talked frankly with that group’s oldest member. He soon proved that his was a desperate case, and that above all he wanted to get well. “But,” he asked, “will you let me join your group? Since I am the victim of another addiction even worse stigmatized than alcoholism, you may not want me among you. Or will you?”
There was the dilemma. What should the group do? The oldest member summoned two others, and in confidence laid the explosive facts in their laps. Said he, “Well, what about it? If we turn this man away, he’ll soon die. If we allow him in, only God knows what trouble he’ll brew. What shall the answer be—yes or no?”
At first the elders could look only at the objections. “We deal,” they said, “with alcoholics only. Shouldn’t we sacri­fice this one for the sake of the many?” So went the dis­cussion while the newcomer’s fate hung in the balance. Then one of the three spoke in a very different voice. “What we are really afraid of,” he said, “is our reputation. We are much more afraid of what people might say than the trouble this strange alcoholic might bring. As we’ve been talking, five short words have been running through my mind. Some­thing keeps repeating to me, ‘What would the Master do?’” Not another word was said. What more indeed could be said?
Overjoyed, the newcomer plunged into Twelfth Step d work. Tirelessly he laid A.A.’s message before scores of people. Since this was a very early group, those scores have since multiplied themselves into thousands. Never did he trouble anyone with his other difficulty. A.A. had taken its first step in the formation of Tradition Three.
Not long after the man with the double stigma knocked for admission, A.A.’s other group received into its member­ship a salesman we shall call Ed. A power driver, this one, and brash as any salesman could possibly be. He had at least an idea a minute on how to improve A.A. These ideas he sold to fellow members with the same burning enthusi­asm with which he distributed automobile polish. But he had one idea that wasn’t so salable. Ed was an atheist. His pet obsession was that A.A. could get along better without its “God nonsense.” He browbeat everybody, and everybody expected that he’d soon get drunk—for at the time, you see, A.A. was on the pious side. There must be a heavy penalty, it was thought, for blasphemy. Distressingly enough, Ed proceeded to stay sober.
At length the time came for him to speak in a meeting. We shivered, for we knew what was coming. He paid a fine tribute to the Fellowship; he told how his family had been reunited; he extolled the virtue of honesty; he recalled the joys of Twelfth Step work; and then he lowered the boom. Cried Ed, “I can’t stand this God stuff! It’s a lot of malarkey for weak folks. This group doesn’t need it, and I won’t have it! To hell with it!”
A great wave of outraged resentment engulfed the meet­ing, sweeping every member to a single resolve: “Out he goes!”
The elders led Ed aside. They said firmly, “You can’t talk like this around here. You’ll have to quit it or get out.” With great sarcasm Ed came back at them. “Now do tell! Is that so?” He reached over to a bookshelf and took up a sheaf of papers. On top of them lay the foreword to the book “Alco­holics Anonymous,” then under preparation. He read aloud, “The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.” Relentlessly, Ed went on, “When you guys wrote that sentence, did you mean it, or didn’t you?”
Dismayed, the elders looked at one another, for they knew he had them cold. So Ed stayed.
Ed not only stayed, he stayed sober—month after month. The longer he kept dry, the louder he talked—against God. The group was in anguish so deep that all fraternal charity had vanished. “When, oh when,” groaned members to one another, “will that guy get drunk?”
Quite a while later, Ed got a sales job which took him out of town. At the end of a few days, the news came in. He’d sent a telegram for money, and everybody knew what that meant! Then he got on the phone. In those days, we’d go 4 anywhere on a Twelfth Step job, no matter how unpromis­ing. But this time nobody stirred. “Leave him alone! Let him try it by himself for once; maybe he’ll learn a lesson!”
About two weeks later, Ed stole by night into an A.A. member’s house and, unknown to the family, went to bed. Daylight found the master of the house and another friend drinking their morning coffee. A noise was heard on the stairs. To their consternation, Ed appeared. A quizzical smile on his lips, he said, “Have you fellows had your morn­ing meditation?” They quickly sensed that he was quite in earnest. In fragments, his story came out.
In a neighboring state, Ed had holed up in a cheap hotel. After all his pleas for help had been rebuffed, these words rang in his fevered mind: “They have deserted me. I have been deserted by my own kind. This is the end.., nothing is left.” As he tossed on his bed, his hand brushed the bureau near by, touching a book. Opening the book, he read. It was a Gideon Bible. Ed never confided any more of what he saw and felt in that hotel room. It was the year 1938. He hasn’t had a drink since.
Nowadays, when oldtimers who know Ed foregather, they exclaim, “What if we had actually succeeded in throwing Ed out for blasphemy? What would have happened to him and all the others he later helped?”
So the hand of Providence early gave us a sign that any alcoholic is a member of our Society when he says so.

*In 1954, the name of the Alcoholic Foundation, Inc., was changed to the General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous, Inc., and the Foundation office is now the General Service Office.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Pray first






"People think other things are more important than prayer, but they are mistaken."
-- Thomas Yellowtail, CROW
An Elder once said the most important thing you can do in the course of a day is to pray. If we get up late or oversleep, which is more important? Rush to work without praying or pray first and then go to work? The Elders say it's more important to pray. If we get angry, should we act on our anger or should we pray first? The Elders say it's more important to pray first. If, during the day, we face indecision, what should we do? PRAY. If, during the day, we become irritated or we experience fear, what should we do first? PRAY. The Warrior who prays first will lead a different life from those who pray last.
Great Spirit, teach me to pray first!