You don’t have to say “Yes”

(From the archives)

You don’t have to say “yes”, just stop saying “no.” 🤗

An incredibly large percentage of the people I’ve spoken with in recovery about God have a similar story to tell. In one way or another, they feel that God has let them down, or betrayed them, or they blame God for the actions of people claiming to represent Him.

In my case, I had been taught that God was angry and short-tempered; He watched my every move just waiting for the next time I screwed up. I came into The Rooms with the belief that my purpose was to be a “Whipping boy” whenever He felt like punishing someone. I certainly was never anywhere near perfect, so I knew that I deserved every bit of pain and sorrow that I received.
Not coincidentally, my vision of who God was looked remarkably like my Dad: overbearing, rageful, impatient, and entirely frightening. 😢

As I was thinking about this, I was reminded of something a friend said to me many years ago, in regards to establishing a relationship with my Creator.
I was in perpetual “bowing and scraping” mode. I was way too ashamed and fearful and guilt-ridden to even consider approaching God. Rather than beginning, I would stay stuck in the endless reasons I had for why He would not welcome any interaction with me. I was positive that I was better off doing everything I could to stay invisible to Him.

My friend told me that as far as this “introduction” to (hopefully) a loving God went, I didn’t have to put my foot on the gas pedal: I simply had to take it off of the brakes.

Instead of fighting to keep God at a distance, perhaps I just needed to stop running away, and stand still. 🤔

There have been periods in my recovery where I’ve done a better job at coasting than others.
I was talking about the “g” word with a friend recently, and she said that she was ready to start moving closer to God. It sounded like she was seriously standing on the brakes…but there is a lot to be said for “acting as if”!(You do NOT NEED to understand. Just follow directions.)

I get it. Apprehension and trepidation were my closest associates in my early days of sobriety. All I can do, after all, is share my experience, strength and hope. One of the most amazing parts of early sobriety, for me, was the (gradual) realization that I was not God. I’m gonna try not to interfere as He works His loving ways with my friend. I just hope I’ll get to watch, and that I might somehow be helpful as she inches toward the loving Father of Whom she’s in desperate need.

He knows what skittish little kittens we can be. I imagine Him sitting still with His back to us as we creep ever so silently toward Him…letting us take all the time we need, while gently coaxing us to come nearer so He can rub our fur and scratch us in the best spots.

In considering “the God part” of your recovery, I would suggest that, rather than the thought of throwing the door wide open to “whatever” may be on the other side of it, maybe just open it a crack, and then pause.

Rather than focusing on all of my “problems with God” (things that I don’t understand/agree with), my life has progressed in a positive direction when I concentrate on learning about the simplicities of His character. He wrote a book as an introduction, but for so many years I believed the hype instead of SEEING FOR MYSELF.

I’ve gotta tell you, it’s been worth it, to investigate for myself. Standing on the brakes get tiring. He hasn’t steered me wrong. Not even once.

Smart People Take More Drugs

​I wish I could take credit for this piece, but, alas, I can not. However, I was educated by it & think you may be, as well.  

I’ve heard alkie/druggies described in many ways, and smart isn’t usually one of them. There’s a reason why AA has the slogans. For example, “Think think think.” – Sponsor says “That doesn’t apply to you.”

Working with Angels

I remember once, at a group home where I used to work, celebrating the fact that a client actually used the toilet instead of her chair. The next time wasn’t quite as spectacular, but there for a minute, we were All-Stars. 

When I went off to work I jokingly (or not) told my hubby that it was a good day if I didn’t get poop actually ON me. That night, I told of the amazing feat of my lady actually using the bathroom facilities for a change. I knew he wanted to support me, but his face had kind of a blank look whenever I shared this kind of news. Fair enough. I didn’t fully appreciate the goings-on at his place of employment, but I was glad to see him happy. Probably the same way he does me. 

Sometimes when I’ve had a client with me out in the community, people have said something like “It takes a special kind of person to do that kind of work.” I appreciate it. I guess it does take a special something to do this work, but no more special than any other job that requires a lot of emotional weight-lifting, along with the usual physical manipulations of assisting an up-to 250 lb. infant/toddler go through their daily activities…

I mean, everything that an infant or toddler relies on their parents for, our clients depend on us to do for and with them. There’s kind of an inside joke among myself and my co-workers, that the bosses get us to start working there for super low pay, knowing that we’ll fall in love with our charges and basically put up with (no pay increases ever) any Managerial shenanigans so that we can be sure the clients are getting cared for by people who genuinely care about them. It’s the Hotel California trick. 

When we moved across the country last year, I was of course really sad that my older boy wasn’t coming with us, I still am every day. But he assured me that he  was a Big Boy and didn’t need me anymore.  So I gave him the benefit of the doubt,  and we moved. 

But deep inside of me, where I hadn’t even realized they were hiding, were my feelings about leaving behind “my” (non-verbal) little client. I really love working with the individuals who don’t speak. Possibly because of my personal experience in having to read body language as a child, and also because I know that they are the most vulnerable of any people group. 

The lady I had been working with before we moved was just as close to being an actual angel as I’ve ever seen. It’s not that she was beautiful by society’s standards, but her spirit shone through. When she was happy, her entire body shook with joy. And she was happy a lot when I was there. She loved going to church with me and her roommate, and the people at church fell in love with her, too.

Some of the other staff at the group home would get irritated with me because when she saw me come in, the world stopped and she did her kind of lurching goose-step over to me and hugged me fiercely. She watched for me to arrive, and would have hugged me all day if I would have let her. It was really nice. Like having a daughter, I suppose.

But then we had to move. Leaving that  sweet little girl behind was more difficult than I’d expected. Times when I’ve been home-sick, her smiling face has always come to mind. 

I know she is ok. The staff there are very compassionate and capable of caring for her, complicated medical issues and all. But I’ll probably never forget her, and I can’t wait to see her in her perfect new body in Heaven…

I was back home briefly over the summer, and the first thought  was to go see my special friend. Then I thought it through. And decided it would be selfish as hell for me to stop by & then leave again. So I didn’t go by the house where she lives. 

I know for sure that the rewards of this field of work are monetarily minimal. But the intangible rewards can make it surprisingly easy. I’m amazed when I think of the trust I’m given, when caring for my clients. Whether it’s pushing a wheelchair, coloring a craft, changing their pants/diapers for the umpteenth time or going through the “feelings” flash cards again, it is a privilege. 

Just another phenomenal blessing of sobriety. 

“And for that, I am responsible.”

12 Steps & Christianity

​Are the 12 steps for a Christian? 

Can they be used in a Christ like manner to bring us to a closer walk with Him? I say yes…the steps are Biblical in nature and this is how I view them as a Christian. 

1. I am a sinner. My life is broken and chaotic.  

2. Jesus I believe (trust in, rely on, adhere to) the fact that you can restore me to right thinking, action, speech, and relieve me from self destruction. 

3. Jesus I turn my will and my life over to You. 

4. I look to the past mistakes (sins) I look to the past victories and assess them all. 

5. I share with God, myself and a trusted individual those things of my past. I confess and bring them to the light of exposure in humility. 

6. I become ready to have God remove these defects of character. This sin nature. 

7. I become willing to allow Him to remove my shortcomings. Those things that don’t glorify Him. We all fall short yet in Him by His grace they can be removed. 

8. We make a list of those we have harmed and become willing to make amends. Sometimes it is just by the change that He produces that we becoming a living testimony, a blessing a true amends to family and friends whom or sins or shortcomings have affected. Also there might be financial amends but we should not let that hinder us from taking this step which releases us and mends our fears of the past. 

9. We begin to work with Him on the amends and the healing process. This takes time, prayer and humility. 

10. Daily we take into account our actions and reactions, if we fall short we promptly admit it. Honesty open-mindedness and willingness is a key to unlock this step. We don’t always have to be right we should be willing to admit our faults. This will free us from sliding down the wrong road. 

11. We pray, we continue to search His will for us through the meditation of His Word, and we seek the power of the Holy Spirit to carry His will out in our day to day life. 

12. Having been set free or a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps we carry this message and practice these principles in all our affairs. We walk the walk not just talk the talk. Spiritual progress.  

I’m definitely not a person who holds perfect adherence to these principles yet they to me are filled with Spirit and Truth and if worked in order continually can produce right relationship, right standing, or in biblical terms righteousness with Christ Who is our Righteousness. But that’s all contingent upon our spiritual maintenance. If this helps someone praise God. Be blessed and be a blessing.

I didn’t know what I didn’t know

My Dad told me that getting sober is about growing up. One of the first things that I can remember becoming clear to me in those early days was that I didn’t know everything. The next step seems to have been realizing that it wasn’t important for me to be RIGHT. That’s been an on going lesson. 

When I became a Mother, I knew that I had no idea how to care for my child. I’d worked at Day Cares, and even become a certified Nanny at one point, but in the position I found myself when I became a parent,  I realized that I was pretty much clueless. I knew how to put on a diaper, sure, but there was so much more about which I had no idea. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Now, almost 24 years later, I am convinced that I have no clue. By the grace of God my boys have turned out as healthy as they are. 

When I began working the steps with my Sponsor, I was apprehensive, having heard lots of those who’d come to the rooms before me talking about their struggles. Of course, I hadn’t begun my Stepwork, so I thought those people were a bunch of cry-babies. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. But I soon found out. 

When I was still calling the shots in my life, in Party Girl mode, I was always looking for something new. Something exciting. For a long time, the chemicals were enough to bring me to new and exciting lands (if only hallucinatory). After a while that wasn’t enough, so I chose more exciting places and more dangerous people with whom to run around. I suppose it was the adrenaline rush along with whatever drugs I used that made for an acceptable escape from the mundane and the depression that was a constant companion. I knew how to create distractions for myself, even if they were increasingly perilous. I was untouchable. 

I didn’t know what I didn’t know. 

Of course one can only live in that level of (drama) for so long before it starts to catch up with them. I don’t recall anyone talking to me about my drinking or using, but I suspect that’s just because I’d decided that wasn’t going to hear it.  More than likely, there were at least a couple of times that folks cared enough to try to get through my hard head. But I was skating along with relative ease, at the time. I refused to see the place that this lifestyle was taking me. I suspect that much of my cavalier attitude regarding the impending crash-and-burn was due to my complete lack of self-worth and my confidence that the hell I was living in was unavoidable.  I didn’t know what I didn’t know. 

I’ve been unable to avoid the political sh*t-storm in recent weeks, try as I have. This post was prompted by learning the truth about a situation that had been sold as a seriously unfathomable act by a candidate. The original information wasn’t (clearly) reported as having been (spun) by their adversary, so I took it as the truth. It was pretty outrageous. I thought this person was as big a scumbag as I’d already decided that their opponent was. Then I stumbled across the truth. I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
It’s my own fault. I’m too comfortable hearing about unethical behavior to actually look into it, to find the truth. Laziness, I guess. But as the Day of Reckoning draws nearer, I’ve begun to concede that I ought to gather some information before I go pull a lever. I lot of times in the past I’ve been able to just watch for my associates (politically in-the-know people) to summarize the facts, and go from that. But this time it’s just not that easy. I’m beginning to know what I don’t know. Once you know a thing, you cannot unknow it. As much as I prefer to be ignorant about the goings-on of the “powers that be”, I’m coming to believe that not only is ignorance NOT bliss (crazy, right?), but that ignorance in these matters may give me something else to answer for in the Grand Scheme of things. And that list is already WAY TOO long for my liking. 

Let’s get busy and learn about the people who are vying for control of our great country. Four years in the hands of an idiot has proven to be more costly than we the people can afford. 

30 days and done

There’s an idea, a fairy tale, if you will, that’s been going around. It may have even begun before Alcoholics Anonymous found the solution for alcoholism. The story goes something like this: go to treatment for 30 days (or however many meetings your Judicial Scholarship requires), and then go home and return to life as normal. I’m pretty sure this myth is perpetuated by pre-recovery alcoholic/addicts, and also the family members who desperately want things to go back to “the way they were”. That does sound good, doesn’t it?


Stick with the Winners.

When I was first clean, my Mom had a big house with a very pretty bar in the basement. I mean, a pool table, big screen tv, and little lights behind all the bottles. She said to me, more than once, something like “it’s too bad you’re not drinking anymore, since we’ve got this fully-stocked bar!” She didn’t know. She’d never seen me in all of my drunken, belligerent, sloppy, (and eventually) semi-comatose glory. I assured her that she really DIDN’T want that, and that if I did have a drink, there wouldn’t be enough for me, anyways.

But I get it. I can imagine that most social drinkers wish we could join them for, oh, I don’t know, a half a glass of wine (AS IF), now and then. This is just one more aspect of sobriety in which we have to help educate them. It’s NEVER going to be like it was again, unless you look back to way before we ever took that first drink. Even then, the only real similarity would be that we weren’t drinking. The “ism’s” would still be there.

In my early months years sober, I stayed at Mom’s place a few times. She asked me once “How long do you have to go to those meetings?” And I told her what I’d heard from The Winners: “Until I die from something else.” That mindset helped to keep me clean/sober.

The fact of the matter is that the initial 30-60-90 days are primarily to get most of the chemicals out of you, and get you started on the right path. I don’t think there are any successfully recovering folks who didn’t continue to make drastic changes in their lives for a very long time, after.

So, my friends, if you’re thinking about getting rid of whatever you’re addicted to, I hope you’ll keep this in mind: as long as you want to feel better, and as long as you want to hate yourself less & less, and have people begin to trust you again…That’s how long you’re gonna have to live this New Life. If you’re good with returning to the lifestyle of your last several drunks (or whatever), then just do sobriety half-assed, don’t get committed to it, and hang around the same people you used to. That’s a recipe for all the misery you once had, and then some.

I’m only saying it because I care. So, to re-cap: Treatment does not equal recovery. Judicial Scholarships are not given out as the absolute solution to alcoholism, addiction, codependency, or any number of other addictive behaviors.

They told me in The Rooms something to the effect of “You didn’t walk that deep into the woods in one day. It’s going to take a while to find your way back out.” Another saying (we really do have a ton of them) is that “Time takes time.”

So, I hope this has been helpful. It’s a sign of progress when the newly clean/sober individual goes to a meeting every day, or meets with their counselor frequently. It really is a Good Thing.

Posted from my hut in the forest.

Sober Quality vs. Quantity

Recently, there was a discussion among some of the #Recoveryposse about Quality recovery; what does that look like?
There has been discussion about which is more important, for all the years that I’ve been in the Rooms. Usually, the “Quality is more important” camp included Newbies that have seen how ugly some of the Oldtimers can be in their approach to the world. And who can blame them? I’ve seen way too many Oldtimers that had NOTHING that I wanted! At the same time, there’s a lot to be said for that saying about finding whatever you look for. Many of us come into the Rooms looking for reasons to not come back.
In my experience, Quality Recovery is a thing that kind of requires a certain amount of, well, Quantity Recovery.  Not by ANY means am I saying that a person with an extended length of time sober is better or wiser than a person with just a few days. I’ve heard folks with a week sober who were infinitely wiser than certain Oldtimers in the room.  And definitely more “happy, joyous, and free.*”
The Promises in the Big Book of AA (Pg. 83 & 84-ish) are one way to assess where I am.
For those of you not familiar with the AA literature, here are some of the highlights of The Promises:
• We will know a new happiness & a new happiness
• We won’t regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it
• We’ll comprehend the word serenity & we’ll know peace
• We’ll see how our experiences can help others
• No more feeling useless, & self-pity will disappear
• We’ll lose interest in selfish things & gain interest in our #Recoveryposse
• Self-seeking will slip away
• Our whole attitude and outlook on life will change
• Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us
• We’ll intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us
• We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves

Not a bad list, huh? I can tell you without reservation that I’ve seen every one of them come true in my life. Not necessarily when I would have liked them to, and not all in the same day, but looking back, The Promises have really become a constant in my life. Some days I’m too freaked out to notice whether any of them are happening or not, but I’m pretty sure that the occasional emotional roller coaster is just a sign of life.
It seems to me that judging between quality and quantity is a thing best left for every person to do for themselves. It’s really not even a thing, if you get right down to it. There is sober, or not. There is abstinent, or not.
So the age old debate of “Quality vs. Quality” will likely be happening wherever a group of clean/sober alkie/druggies congregate.  Cos that’s just human nature.
At 23 years, I’m feeling like I have the Quantity thing pretty much covered, but that doesn’t mean that every day is rainbows and unicorns. In fact, if there is a person in my position who HASN’T had a few absolutely sh*tty days, weeks, or months…well, I’m betting they’re not really one of us. Possibly not even human.
So, from where I stand (long-ish in the tooth, I suppose), I judge my Quality of recovery by my willingness to serve others, my ability to stay out of my own head, and how quickly I reach out my hand to lift up the still suffering addict/alcoholic. 
Your thoughts?

*this could be attributed to the Pink Cloud, so it’s not really a good measuring stick.

Posted from my cabin in the hills.