But One Purpose – 290

Our 5th tradition says, Each Al-Anon Family Group has but one purpose: to help families of alcoholics. How do we do this? How has this supported and worked in your recovery?

In full, it reads, Each Al-Anon Family Group has but one purpose: to help families of alcoholics. We do this by practicing the Twelve Steps of AA ourselves, by encouraging and understanding our alcoholic relatives, and by welcoming and giving comfort to families of alcoholics.

I explore how this tradition appeared in my life, in reverse order of the phrases in the tradition.

Welcoming and giving comfort to families of alcoholics.

    • I walked into my first Al-Anon meeting with some fear and trepidation. I didn’t know what I was going to find there, and I was terrified that I’d meet someone who knew me. Of course, that happened even before I stepped into the room!
    • I really don’t remember what anyone said at that meeting, but by the end of the meeting, I knew one very important fact: I WAS NO LONGER ALONE!
    • I was welcomed with open and loving arms into the Al-Anon fellowship. That alone was enough for me to come back the next week, and the next, and the next.
    • I try to remember to extend this welcome whenever a new person comes to a meeting, but also to all members, whether new or “long timers”. This can be a spiritual practice: to smile, to say “hi”, and to listen with real interest.
    • In my experience, there is no comfort to be had that is greater than someone saying, “I’ve been there. This is what I did. It wasn’t easy, but I got better.”

Understanding and encouraging our alcoholic relatives.

    • Oh, this was hard. I was so angry and resentful of my loved one’s alcoholism. Initially, I was angry at her. Why couldn’t she just stop. Or maybe just drink normally? Why couldn’t we go back to the “way it was”?
    • I started to learn about the disease concept by attending “friends and family” days at treatment centers (and yes, there were several of these).
    • What really drove home to me that alcoholism was a disease, and that it was not a choice of my loved one, was attending AA speaker meetings. During my first few years, I must have attended 100 of these. I started to see that the “arc” of their story was the same, even though all the details were different.
    • I could hear my wife’s story in other people’s voices, when I couldn’t hear it from her. I could start to develop compassion for her struggle.
    • “Encouraging” — What does that mean? It’s not standing on the sideline shouting “Rah!” or “Ole!” or “you can do it!” At least I don’t think so. For me, it was being loving (as best I could), whether she was drinking or not. It was not berating her when she slipped, as she did many times. And it wasn’t always easy.

Practicing the 12 steps of AA ourselves.

  • This is where recovery happened for me. I had to find (at least the concept of) a higher power. I had to look at myself and ask for help to change. I had to clean up “my side of the street.” And I had to grow into a new way of living, and finding a new emotional and spiritual center for myself.

Readings and Links

I read from Courage to Change, December 20.

Upcoming

Upcoming topics include quotes. What quotes have helped you or inspired you?

A listener suggested the topic of Spiritual Experiences. Have you had a spiritual experience (large or small)? Share it and help us to put together an episode.

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.

Acronyms and Alliterations – Episode 284

Do you QTIP? Have you practiced the 3 A's? Spencer and Eric, with support from many listeners, talk about some of the acronyms (such as HALT or FEAR) and alliterations (3 C's, 4 M's) that help us to remember the important principles of the program. As Eric says, “these are like pocket change — they're easy to pick up and use.”

Acronyms

    • FEAR – Face everything and recover
    • PAUSE – Please assist until serenity enters
    • FEAR – False evidence appearing real
    • LOVE – Let others voluntarily evolve
    • JADE – (don’t) Justify, argue, defend, or explain
    • WAIT – Why am I talking (thinking)
      • Neutral responses (scroll to the bottom of episode 249)
    • HALT(S)
    • NUTS – Not Using The Steps (Slogans)
    • TRUST – try really using step three!
    • THINK is it..?: Thoughtful. Honest. Intelligent. Necessary. Kind.
    • HOPE: Happy. Our. Program. Exists.
    • DETACH: Don’t. Even. Think. About. Changing. Him/Her.
    • HOW: Honest. Open. Willing.
    • STEPS: Solutions. To. Every. Problem.
    • QTIP: Quit. Taking. It. Personally.
    • FINE
    • PISO: Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional
    • Eric would write this on his hand.
    • GOD: Good Orderly Direction
    • UTT: Use the tools
    • ODAT: One Day at a time
    • ANGER = A Negative Grudge Endangers Recovery
    • ASK = Ask Seek Knock
    • CHANGE = Choosing Honesty Allows New Growth Everyday
    • COOL = Creative Opportunities Offer Love
    • EGO = Easing God Out
    • FAITH = Finding Answers In The Heart
    • FEAR = Forgetting Everything Is Alright
    • FEAR = Future Events Aren’t Real
    • FROG = Fully Relying On God
    • GIFTS = Getting It From The Steps
    • HOPE = Helping Ourselves Purge Emptiness
    • HOW = Honest, Open, Willing
    • MYOB = Mind Your Own Business
    • PUSH = Pray Until Something Happens

Alliterations

  • 3 A’s – Awareness, Acceptance, Action
  • 3 P’s – Perfection, Procrastination, Paralysis
  • 4 M’s – Manipulation, Managing, Mothering, and Martyrdom
  • 3 C’s – Didn’t cause it, can’t cure it, can’t control it. (But I can contribute to the problem.)
  • 6 P’s: perspective, pain, prayer, patience, process and payoff.
  • 3 C's –  Have I Criticised, Have I Condemned, Have I Complained?
  • 3 G's – Get off his back, Get out of his way and Get on with your life
  • 4 P's     Why we don't forgive?..: Protection, Power, Pride, Punishment
  • 3 S's –   Selfish, Self-seeking, Self-centred

Readings and Links

We read from Courage to Change, March 26

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 “Acronyms and Alliterations – Episode 284”

Willingness – Episode 216

A member asked another member to be their sponsor. The response was, “Are you willing to do what I did for as long as I did it to get what I have?” What would your answer be? Where does that willingness come from?

  • Definition
  • What does this word mean to me today?
  • How is that different from how I understood it in the past?
  • Where does willingness appear in the Steps?
  • Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  • Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
  • But also: Step 4 — willingness to look deeply at ourselves.
  • Step 5 and 6 — willingness to change.
  • Step 11 — willingness to deepen our relationship with a higher power.
  • In fact, we can find it in all the steps!
  • Eric noted that you can put the word “willing” in front of each step: Step 1, “Became willing to admit we were powerless…”, etc.
  • Acronym: HOW — Honest, Open, and Willing. This is HOW the program of recovery works.
  • How did I become willing?
    • Examples of others — your stories of using the principles of the program in your own recovery helped me be willing to try them for myself.
    • Pain — “hitting bottom” over and over in different ways. Eventually willing to try something, anything new.

A few tidbits from the episode:

Psychology Today article: 5 Ways to Really Get Closer to Each Other

Phone meetings web site.

And the quote from Marilyn Monroe that Spencer mentioned: “Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”

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 “Willingness – Episode 216”

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.

What does it mean to work the steps? – Episode 80

When you first heard “work the steps”, what did you think? Are you still confused about what it means? Or, maybe you’ve worked the steps, but you’re looking for more.

Spencer talks with Ruth, Maria, and Patti about our understanding of and experience of “working the steps”. We consider these questions in our conversations.

  • When you first heard the phrase “work the steps”, what did you think it meant?
  • Have you worked the steps once? More than once?
    • If more than once, how did your understanding of “working the steps” change?
    • How did you work the steps? From a book? With a sponsor? As part of a group?
  • Some steps have clear actions in them (“took an inventory”, “made a list”), and some do not (“came to believe”, “became entirely ready”).
    • Would you say that some steps are “action steps” and some are not?
    • Or, do you believe that all the steps have actions in them?
  • How do you know you have “finished” a step and are ready to move on to the next one?
  • If you are a sponsor, how do you guide your sponsees in working the steps?

Our topic for next week is “The 3 C's“. We are told that “We didn't cause it, we can't cure it, and we can't control it.” How does this help? Does it help? What do you think? 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 “What does it mean to work the steps? – Episode 80”