Sobering Thoughts

Archive for the month “August, 2012”


I don’t often talk about resentments because I don’t like to give them undo attention.  We learn in Alcoholics Anonymous that resentments are our number one offenders; if we don’t get rid of them they can lead us back into morbid reflection and eventually lead us to a drink.  With that said, sometimes there is a resentment that seeps through and tries to stake a claim in your recovery. Recently, a woman I very much like, and is relatively new to Recovery, told me that her Sponsor fired her because she wasn’t willing to do the work and get honest.  Do you see the problem with the statement of this Sponsor? This woman has been struggling to find a good Sponsor and probably is having some difficulty learning to trust and get as honest as the Sponsor may like her to be.  However, I want to say, the literature I read tells me my goal is “love and service” and that by working the Steps I am better able, after each one, to turn my thoughts to others and help them find their way out of Addiction. I cannot help but be angry about the damage that is done to another Alcoholic when they are fired (abandoned) and chastised just as they are beginning to delve into the damage caused by the storm of their Addiction.  Did this sponsor not hear that she is NOT GOD? I think I understand why we read, “no human power could,” in How it Works at each meeting and that it never says trust people, only “trust God and clean house.”  The spiritual arrogance of people like this Sponsor makes me crazy.  We are Alcoholics, not saints.  We were lifted from the gutter to the curb, not the gutter to the pedestal.  I help those who God puts in front of me, not the ones I deem to be ready or willing or able.  My actions as a Sponsor toward the new person determines my Sobriety, not whether or not the new person stays sober.  I will pray for this Sponsor, but I also want to tell anyone who is reading this blog that it is clear that you can stay Sober “regardless of anyone or anything.”  Just as in politics there is always the “lunatic fringe” who have bastardized our purpose and our literature by reading only the parts that serve them rather than the common good.  Bless them, change me – surrender the resentment.


We must open enough to be surprised by joy.  Our minds are so conditioned by what is wrong that we are numb to our feelings.  As our feelings come to the surface during our Sobriety, we learn to label them and experience them.  When we let go of control and stop saying to ourselves that a feeling is good or bad, we begin to experience it for what it is… It is our need to judge and evaluate the feeling that keeps us from the full experience of that feeling.  To first surrender control in Step 1 and then eliminate the negative language we use on ourselves by working Step 2, we begin to allow ourselves to feel freely.  When we are free we can be surprised when we experience emotions like joy because we no longer fear we cannot control them.  Today I own my emotions they do not own me. Power comes from surrender and powerlessness.  I have surrendered the need to control my feelings and, therefore, I feel them more completely. Accepting I have feelings has given me ownership, where pretending they didn’t exist left me detached from my own life.

Coming Out

I have never met an Alcoholic who was not facing an inordinate amount of shame. The things we have said and done while drinking consume us and seep into our very being as shame. While we are able to let go of guilt as it pertains to specific aspects of our life, shame has stained every part of us and can keep us trapped in old patterns. The truth is we can often feel comfortable in it because we understand it. Sadly, if we do not begin to leave it behind we cannot hope to live a useful and purposeful life.  However, we can learn from our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in this area: coming out of the closet literally means coming out of shame. The result of coming out of the dark place we have been hiding in, as Alcoholics, gives us an opportunity to live rich and authentic lives.  It is like dipping your toe in the water; you dabble at the edge until you can fully submerge yourself in it.  For many people, shame is exposed in the 4th Step and then is peeled away as you practice the 6th and 7th Steps.  I have found that coming out of this shame has truly allowed me a chance to live “in the sunlight of the spirit.”


Side Effects

The real side effect of a “psychic change” is awe.  When you become willing to work the steps and find a power greater than yourself, you come to see the world in a new way.  The light of optimism shines into the common and ordinary places that many of us took for granted.  It is here, in the rituals of every day life, that we can see the magic of Recovery – the brilliant colors of flowers or the smell of new mown grass the first sober time is riveting.  We have a disease of perception that can be corrected on a daily basis with prayer and meditation.  When I choose Recovery the world takes on a new form and shape.  Sadness and joy, light and dark, assets and deficits co-exhist in peaceful harmony no longer struggling to dominate the other.


The ability to live in awe and wonder is a real side effect of Recovery.  Like a child I am able to contemplate “the unheard poetry on the hidden side of the round earth, the great thirsts everywhere, the wonderings past wonderings.” All because I put down the drink and picked up a spiritual tool-kit, I am able to chase the real spirits I am seeking. Ah…

The Untapped Resource

“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.”   Thoreau

Gratitude is like an underground spring – just below the surface lies an untapped resource.  When you act your way into gratitude (even when you don’t feel it) you tap an otherwise unknown reservoir of abundance.  Once I had experienced this, I never wanted to go without it again.  I have learned in my daily Recovery that gratitude springs forth as the result of giving away what I have received and thanking God for the opportunity to be useful. Gratitude is the result of specific actions I take to be  literally giving away my thanks. What is perpetual is the abundant flow of energy that is tapped, and flows forth untainted with negativity and sadness, when I remember to do this.

Who Left The Window Open?

“…and sometimes it feels like an intruder found a way in–those life-changing, habit breaking people and situations. But if you are honest with yourself, you can admit that you left a window open. Secretly hoping they’d creep in and disturb your restless sleep–shatter all you’ve ever identified with. As you lay there exposed, sacrificial style, its terrifying and breath-ta-kingly beautiful all at once. Something in you knows that nothing will ever be the same… if you do it right.”

These words are from a former “non alcoholic” student.  A grown up now, her words convey so clearly what happens when we give up or surrender to being victimized by our situations.  She recognizes “her part” in the mess of things (she left the window open) but then quickly realizes that it is this very place where transformation begins.  Ownership – if the program of recovery has taught me anything it is that I own my life, it does not own me.  When I work the Steps to identify and correct the patterns that have brought me anxiety, I own my defects and my assets, they do not own me.  When, in Step 7 I give everything to God for good use, I find a freedom from myself that is hard to explain.  I did know that first time I did this that “it will never be the same.”  The program of Recovery has shown me how to be honest about my life: I was harmed and “left the window open.”  Taking responsibility has taught me that it is the price we must pay to live full and purposeful lives.


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