Category Archives: Alcoholics Anonymous

“Almost Done, But First…”

‘Twas late afternoon on the 6th day. God knew it was time to send His Son into the garden to spend the evening walking with Adam’n Eve. But first…

He called His arch angels to His side, because He had just one more quick idea.

He stepped to the edge of heaven and said: “Watch this”… Extending His hand way up into what centuries later would be called Utah, He scratched a line in the earth with His little finger.

As Gabriel watched in Awe’n Amazement, (this may have been the first ever A.A. meeting) Micheal declared: “WOW! God, That’s GRAND!!”

SATURDAY GRATITUDEs #4

You can read part #1 HERE

Part #2 HERE Part #3 HERE

There’s this guy that likes to live in my head. In AA they call him “The Committee of one” I call him Sir James. I introduced y’all to him HERE. And HERE

One of the favorite tricks of Sir James is to get me to Compare. I’ve said it before, and I come to believe it more as time passes: 

Comparison is a Thief of Joy! 

AND Gratitude. 

Comparison is such a part of our natural way. It’s what makes us feel better (or worse) than others. It’s what drives us to build bigger, buy more, to plan ahead for greater tomorrows. It’s also a huge part of the reason I occasionally find myself in a pit. Fortunately, not as often nor as deep as in past times. 

I doubt that I have ever felt grateful because of comparison. Oh, I’d be glad that didn’t have “problems like other people.” But, I’ve discovered that feeling was usually based more on PRIDE than GRATITUDE. The major problem with being glad you have a better life than someone else is because none of us are at the top. There’s always someone else that’s “glad they don’t have a life/troubles like mine”. 

So… How/Why am I grateful? To a large degree, it’s a matter of choice. It’s a choice that I can CHOOSE to make. I do not have to listen to The  Voice of Sir James.  

My friend Matt once told me: “Jim, you need to write a book about Sir James, because EVERYBODY has a Sir James in their life.”

Q for YOU – What’s the name of the man / woman that lives in YOUR head? Does {S}He bring you to a place of peace and gratitude? 

This prayer is one of the thngs that helps me cope with Sir James:

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. 

Living one day at a time; Enjoying one moment at a time; Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; That I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him Forever in the next. Amen


A Theme, not Resolutions

Rainy Monday Morning Musings…

Yesterday at New Life Church, Pastor Gary shared he “is not one to make New Year Resolutions.” I totally identified with him. Pastor Ben had already made the same statement, so I feel I’m in good company. Gary then went on the say he likes the idea of living with a yearly THEME rather than a list of resolutions.

I’ve had several words that could describe my journey over the past few (7) years of recovery. Each one seemed to build upon the last. Can I call them THEMES?

•   I think the first was “LOVE!” As in when God said: “Jim, I want to begin to teach U just how much I LOVE U!  I’ve spent much my life trying to get Him to Love me more. He showed me that He doesn’t do “much” or “more“. S’prise, S’prise, S’prise! He already does!! LOVE! (me) as much as He ever will – and always has.

  The next theme was “TRUST“. Love and Trust have become two sides of the same coin in my life. I can’t have one without the other. in ALL my relationships. The more I discovered God’s Love for me, the more I came to Trust Him. The more I Trust Him, the more I Love Him. U see, “MORE”  “TRUST” is on my side of the fence. It’s already all been done from His side. His greatest purpose in my life is to teach me how to grow in that.

  As I recall, it was Jan 10, 3 or 4 years ago. I was sick that Sunday morning, and as a result I attended the 5:30 service. One of the advantages of that later service is that we don’t have to hurry, so as I knelt at the altar that evening, the word “STILL” was on my mind. As in… “Be Still – and KNOW“! It became my theme for the year. I didn’t go home after service and make a list (of resolutions) describing how I was going to learn to BE STILL, but by November, I was amazed to recognize how the turmoil and storms of my life had calmed. I’d love to be able to say it was the end of my struggles, but I can’t, because of the next theme:

 •   HONESTY. Alcoholics Anonymous uses the term “Rigorous Honesty“. One of the reasons I ended up in Celebrate Recovery 7 years ago was because of the masks I had learned to wear. I had gotten lost behind the secrets. Guess What!!! SECRETS make us lie!! The biggest lies are the ones we tell ourselves. A young lady once shared with me: “He can’t tell me the truth, because he doesn’t know the truth himself.” It’s been a difficult journey to move out from behind the masks into honesty, from that place of hiding. It still calls to me. It seems like a place of safety, but it quickly becomes a dark, lonely place.

•  I could show U the very spot I was standing when a man called me “SIR JAMES. U can read about him here and here. One of the best things that ever happened to me in recovery is when I found out who SIR JAMES is. I’d LOVE to be able to say “he was“, but I will never be completely free from him. (pssst – we all have a “Sir James” that lives in us!) I can say however, he is nowhere near as dominant as he used to be.

  THEMES… LOVE, TRUST, Be STILL, HONESTY, SIR JAMES…, I could go on. But I said all that to say this; as Gary was sharing yesterday, this word came to my mind… “DEEPER“. On the way to church yesterday morning, my daughter shared her word of the year with us: “BLOOM. Then my youngest grandson shared his: “FAITH.”  He then changed it to “EMMANUEL” (either one is fine with his PaPa) His mother asked him if he knew what that meant, and he said “God With Us“!!

But I digress…    What does “DEEPER” mean for me this year?  I’m sure I don’t have much of a clue as yet. But if U read my last post, U might understand my trepidation as I contemplate what it might mean and where it might take me. I have to remember the theme of “STILL” and how I didn’t see it’s progress at first. Can I TRUST that SomeOne knows more about it than I do?

DEEPER… in

Relationships?
His Word?
Wisdom?

Generosity?
Prayer?
???

Time will tell…. Stay tuned, it should be interesting! and scary!! MY favorite word, perhaps the underlying theme of this journey is PROCESS. I’m glad He’s teaching (taught) me that HE knows so much more about the process than I do. After all, He’s God! I’m not!

7 THINGS I LEARNED IN AA – that I should’a learned in church…

4 years ago TODAY I attended my 1st ever AA meeting. That was July 6, 2011

Please read yesterday’s post – 4YEARS

These are a few of the things I learned there

In the next few (7?) posts, I hope to unpack (ugh, I hate that word…) these a bit more, and try to explain why I feel AA expanded and deepened my relationship with “My Higher Power” Whom I call Jesus

Note : these are my thoughts and experiences. If Ur path is different, feel free to comment / share. AND – don’t take the title the wrong way, I love church! I grew up there. But there were some things I “just didn’t get.”

1) EVERYONE is welcome! Come! Just as U.R.

2) All I need is a desire…

3) EVERYONE is BROKEN! 

4) I will never get so sober/well that I will outgrow the benefits of going to meetings

5) I’ll NEVER understand GOD… And that’s OK!

6) Sharing my brokenness in a place I discovered is safe provides an opportunity to heal 

7) GOD is Bigger! and more Loving than I ever knew. Or imagined!

  4YEARS

July 5, 2011 – 4 years ago today was my first day without a drink “in a while.” Boy, THATs a l.o.n.g story cut short! 4 years ago tomorrow was my first ever AA mtg.

Stayed dry 90+ days. Went to 80+ meetings. Then, my wife’n I went on a 3 day anniversary trip. The resort left us a bottle of wine. Yep, I did! ’cause, ya’see, I came to AA to learn how to stop drinking… SO MUCH! So – it was easy to say – “I think I’ve learned how…”

4 months later, when I came back to AA, I KNEW I was/am powerless over alcohol. In my relapse, I learned my lesson. That was 1,227 days ago – 40.32 months for those of us who might be numbers challenged!

I now know – I’m not totally powerless…  I have the power to make the choice to NOT.TAKE.THAT.FIRST.ONE!!

After the first one, I PROBABLY won’t have a choice. At least, that’s been my pattern. THAT makes me powerless. I must know and stay within the limits of my power

I’ve already made the decision – SO I DON’T!! Take that first one! ’cause the next one (no matter how much later) is the second, and the next is the third. And then, I’ll lose count… Again. And then, I’ll lose… things, people, respect, Love… That price is too high! The real price of alcohol (for me) is MUCH more than the price on the shelf.

That’s what I learned in relapse. Am I a Real alcoholic? I don’t know! I always thought a “Real Alcoholic” lived in the gutter. That certainly was never me. (yet) BUT I do know I am powerless over my addiction. And that’s all I need to know.

And for that, I am GRATEFUL!

SOBRIETY – Event? or Process?

One of the Greatest Bondages you will ever be in is that of pretending to be something or somebody that you are not

I spent 50 years like that

Freedom from that bondage is a Journey, a Process of discovering who you really are and learning to live that person’s life

I took my last drink 40 months ago today. But the Process of Sobriety will continue for as long as I have feet on this planet

“JUST ONE…”

My BOYZ’n I had a rough night last evening.

I spent the evening by myself. Well, an hour or two. My son-in-law’s in the hospital waiting for surgery tomorrow. My wife and daughter had gone to dinner with “the girls” and then to a painting class.

   Nelda - Daisys

 That left me with my twin grandsons for dinner, to an open house at their school, showers and to bed. But the evening was not quite that easy.
I got into a bad mood which put the boys in a bad mood. Or was it the other way around? But… I AM the adult! S’pose to be, anyway! Suffice it to say, by the time they were settled for the night,
I was ready for a drink!
    …Yeah, that was my thought. Kinda surprised me.
But – I’ve been having that thought – A few times lately.
It’s because I’ve been remembering the GOOD things a drink would bring. I’ve been remembering the pleasures. Like a margarita w/Mexican dinner. Or sharing a bottle o’wine on Friday nites with my WW.
I remember thinking:  “You know, a glass of wine, or a vodka on the rocks, or a vodka and cranberry would just help take the edge off. A drink or two would actually help me settle down so I’ll treat my BOYZ better.”
So yeah – I was remembering the beneficial effects that alcohol could bring into my life and my relationships.
But there were two excuses I used when I was drinking. One was: “I’ve had a rough day, a couple drinks would just make it all go away and help me settle down.”
The second excuse was: “Wow, what a wonderful day I’ve had. It’s time to celebrate. What better way to enjoy myself than to have two or three drinks.” Did you catch the change?
You know, a glass of wine would really help me relax…”
You know, a drink or two would take the edge off…”
You know, two or three drinks just to celebrate…”
But 4 years ago, I got to the point that one to even three drinks did not take me to a stopping point. My stopping point was when my daughter said: “Dad you can’t have my sons in your truck with you again.” The stopping point was at dinner on July 4th 4 years ago when it took me three days to remember everything that went on and all I said that crazy afternoon. A reason to stay stopped was when my WW told me: “…and U hurt me more than U think U did!”
So last night – because I have learned that I don’t stop until it’s too late, I did not start. I did not have that first one.
I’ve changed my thinking.
But I’ve been sober long enough to begin to forget the pain. I’ve been sober long enough to begin to overlook the damage my drinking brought to the lives of others. I realize this morning –
This is a dangerous place to be
It would be easy for me to think:
My family’s over the damage I caused.”
I can enjoy it now, without the danger of having ‘too much.'”
I can handle it. It’s been more than 3 years, and I’ve learned a lot!”
But… Not only has my thinking  changed, my actions have followed.
So I went to bed sober last nite. I was lying in bed watching a John Wayne movie on my iPhone when she came home. This morning I awoke to my 1,162nd day somber. In a row.
The TWINZ’n I are friends again. I can still take them with me without having to ask their mother for permission. My WW is still my BFF.
I don’t have to worry about not being able to stop after two or three. I just don’t take the first one. If I take the first one, the next one is the second. Then the next is third. It won’t matter how far apart they are; minutes, hours, or days. The 2nd and 3rd WILL follow the first. Before I know it, sooner or later, I WILL lose count – and control, again.
         
I’ve discovered I CAN control my drinking! I don’t take that FIRST one.
I’ve also discovered that alcohol has NOTHING to offer me that I don’t already have – IN ABUNDANCE!
I don’t have to remember the bad times, I don’t have to risk hurting my family and friends because I’ve had too much. Again.
I just have to remember this –
DONT TAKE THE FIRST ONE!
It really ISjust that simple. 
It ain’t always easy,
But it’s simple!