Start where you are – Episode 173

DSC_0379Start where you are. Bring your angry self. Bring your despairing self. Bring your resentful and frustrated self. Bring your confused self. And we will meet you there.

Sometimes I think I need to be “ready” before I can do something, before I can make a change. But that’s not true of our program. I was able to start where I was, and I can still start where I am. How does this work? How was I able to “start where I am” at each point along the path of recovery? Because recovery is a process, not an event.

  • Walking into my first meeting.
    • You met me where I was. You didn’t require that I know anything, that I agree to anything, you just welcomed me.
  • Step 1: We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
    • My first challenge – what does “powerless” mean? Can I admit that I am “powerless”? How do I recognize the unmanageability of my life? Is this where I am right now?
  • Step 2: Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
    • I start into this step where I am: questioning the very existence of a Higher Power. Some start into this step with a vengeful, angry God. No matter where we start, we can find an understanding of this step.
  • Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
    • If my starting point is “the meeting is my HP”, I can look for guidance and wisdom in the meeting, and try to follow that.
  • Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
    • This step has always met me where I was. As my starting point has changed, the inventory has also changed. My new point of view has revealed other aspects of myself, which were not visible earlier.
  • Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
    • My first starting point for this step was “no way!” My second starting point was “there’s some stuff I’m just not going to talk about.” I *think* that, at this time, I’ve admitted all my wrongs, but I might be wrong about that.
    • Each time, there was power in the step, no matter where I started, and how “well” I did it. The point is to take the step, not to take it perfectly.
  • Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
    • Again, my starting point has “moved” with time. I’ve gone from “well, of course” to “um, not that one!” to “please help me to become willing”.
    • I didn’t understand this step the first time I “took” it, but I did it anyway.
  • Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
    • What does this step mean if I don’t have a concrete idea of G-o-d?
    • But, I found that, when I ask for help, I find it, and I change.
  • Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
    • The literature suggested that I can group my list into: people I am willing to make amends to, people I might be willing to make amends to, and those people who I was not willing to make amends to.
    • I started there, and found that my lists changed as I moved into Step 9.
  • Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
    • Do the easy ones first, and don’t worry about doing it perfectly!
  • Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
    • I started doing this step before I actually got to it. Because I didn’t want to add new things to my “Step 4 inventory.”
  • Step 11: 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.
    • Wow. What is prayer? How do I do it? You suggested I start with the Serenity prayer. And I was able to do that.
    • Meditation? How? When? “Just try. Sit with me. Breathe.” It’s a start.
  • Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
    • My awakening came gradually, as I moved in recovery, I became more awake, where I was.
  • Sponsorship!
    • I was not “ready” (in my mind) to be a sponsor the first time I was asked. But I said “yes” and did the best I could.
  • Gratitude
    • Finding gratitude in small things helped to to develop an “attitude of gratitude”.

So, start where you are, and we will meet you there and welcome you into the beginning of your path to recovery.

Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.

Spencer’s Open Talk – Episode 168

DSC_9877What was it like? What happened? And what is it like now?

Spencer was invited to give an “open talk” recently, and he elected to use this traditional format.

It starts with “what happened?” With that moment when the reality of his powerlessness and the unmanageability of his life crashed down on him. When he heard that “You didn’t cause it, you can’t cure it, and you can’t control it.” And when those words lifted a weight from his shoulders that he hadn’t realized he was carrying. That he had been trying to accomplish the impossible: to make his loved one stop drinking.

He came to see that his journey to Al-Anon has really started much earlier. He believed that it was his job, his task in life, to “rescue” others. And so, maybe it is no surprise that he fell in love with and married an alcoholic. Because, who needs “fixing” or “rescuing” more than an alcoholic. Not that he recognized that at the time!

He came to his first Al-Anon meeting almost unwillingly. After all, he was not the one with the “problem.” But nothing was working, and his life was miserable, so maybe, just maybe, this Al-Anon thing would help.

His recovery story includes coming to understand what “working the steps” means, and learning to trust others with the reality of his life. It includes finding freedom from anger, fear, despair, and rage. It includes experiencing serenity, even when his life was still in the midst of chaos.

And, it includes finding an answer to what seemed an unanswerable question: “I can’t live this way, but I can’t leave either. What can I do!?” The answer turns out to be “I can live.”

Upcoming topics include sorrow and feelings. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.

Serenity – Episode 167

SunriseWhat is serenity, anyway? And how do you get it?

Let’s start with a definition: (dictionary.com)

1. the state or quality of being serene, calm, or tranquil; sereneness.
2. A title of honor, respect, or reverence, used in speaking of or to a certain member of royalty (usually preceded by his, your, etc).

Synonyms
1. Composure, calm, peacefulness, peace.

Antonyms
1. Agitation

  • How did you conceive of serenity before recovery?
  • Did you think your whole life had to be “serene” in order for you to have personal serenity?
  • How did you act in ways that pushed serenity out of my life?
  • When you heard the Al-Anon suggested welcome, did these words make sense to you?
    • Did they seem unattainable?
    • Did they give you hope?

      “We urge you to try our program. It has helped many of us find solutions that lead to serenity. So much depends on our own attitudes, and as we learn to place our problem in its true perspective, we find it loses its power to dominate our thoughts and our lives.”

  • Do you recall experiencing serenity, perhaps briefly, as you started to work the program?
    • What happened?
    • What did it feel like?
    • How did you recognize it?
  • Reading: Hope for Today, May 20.

    “The serenity I am offered in Al-Anon is not an escape from life. Rather it is the power to find peacefulness within life.”
    “Al-Anon does not promise me freedom from pain, sorrow, or difficult situations. It does, however, give me … the necessary skills for maintaining peace of mind, even when life seems most unbearable.”

  • What tools have you found for maintaining or restoring your serenity?
    • Trust in a Higher Power. Let go and let God.
    • Detachment.
    • Just for today.
    • One day at a time.
    • Talk to a program friend.
  • “Exercising” spiritual “muscles” by working the steps, going to meetings, reading the literature, etc.
  • Do you think serenity is a state of being, or an attitude? Or a little of both?
  • What would you say to a newcomer who is living a life full of “agitation” with little or no serenity?

Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
Continue reading “Serenity – Episode 167”

Meditation – Episode 151

DSC_5126How do you meditate? Or, DO you meditate? Meditation is something of which many of us say “I need to do that!” “I’ve got to get into doing it regularly.” “I know it would really help me.” So why is this? What is blocking us? What good can it do us? And what ways are there to meditate?

Spencer and Eric talk briefly about their (non-)understanding of meditation before coming to recovery. We explore some of the benefits of meditation. And talk about the ways in which we have practiced it. Eric points out that the key word here is “practice.” Just as we must exercise our muscles to become competent at a physical activity, we also need to exercise our “meditating muscles.” Carrie and Patty also share some of their experience and understanding.

For some articles and a video about the benefits of meditation, read on. Continue reading “Meditation – Episode 151”

Holiday Survival Kit – Episode 134

Holiday lightsDo you dread the holidays? Do they bring out the worst in you or your loved ones? Are you not sure how you’re going to survive visiting (or visits from) your family? What is in your holiday survival kit?

Here are some items from my and my friends’ holiday survival kits:

  • Plan ahead
    • Take Al-Anon literature with you.
    • Talk to Al-Anon friends or your sponsor — get numbers you can call if you need to. Make sure they are in your phone or carry a phone list with you.
    • Talk about your anxiety or fears with a program friend.
  • Don’t set unrealistic expectations.
  • Don’t try to meet others (or your own) unrealistic expectations.
  • Take care of yourself.
    • Get enough sleep.
    • Eat properly.
    • Get enough “self time” — don’t spend all the time with your family (toxic or not!)
  • Have an exit plan.
    • Where can you go to be alone?
    • Have a way to leave if you need to (drive yourself, for example.)
    • Stay at a motel instead of in the family home, if possible (see above about others’ expectations!)
    • Go for a walk.
    • Make a phone call.
    • Stay only as long as you want to.
    • Sit at the “kids table” (they’re usually more sane than the adults!)
  • Plan to attend meetings.
    • If you are traveling, check the local Al-Anon district website for meeting times and locations. (Google “Al-Anon in city” works pretty well.)
  • Take the podcast with you.
  • Pray and meditate — keep up your recovery routines.
    • This can be hard when you are not in your own space. Maybe you can’t do it exactly as you do at home, or for as long, but you will feel better if you keep up whatever P&M you normally do.
  • Take it one day at a time, one hour at a time.
  • Remember, “this too shall pass.”

Upcoming topics include Concepts 11 and 12. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
Continue reading “Holiday Survival Kit – Episode 134”