Saturday, August 28, 2010

Secret of AA: The article on AA from Wired Magazine

You may have heard the buzz in meetings about this article in July WIRED Magazine. In case you missed reading the whole thing--and you have to read all of it, here is the link:

Secret of AA: After 75 Years, We Don’t Know How It Works

Friday, August 27, 2010

Progress Not Perfection ...

So here is another way of saying what I wrote about yesterday. Perhaps better in the inimitable language of the AA rooms:

“Just because the monkey is off your back doesn’t mean the circus has left town.”

Thursday, August 26, 2010

More Happiness

I’ve had wonderful things happening in my life recently. A wedding. A trip to Paris. But even with that I’m confronted with myself and the sure knowledge that recovery is “progress not perfection.”

I found myself –in the midst of these good things--stoking an old resentment and contemplating schemes to make another person miserable. “Just a tiny tweak”, I told myself. “Just a teensy jab in her direction?”

And then it hit me. Good stuff was happening in my life: Love. Happiness. Sobriety. And then this thought:

“My happiness is not contingent on other people’s unhappiness.”

And even then I had to pray to be better than my own thoughts, to be bigger and better than I may really be.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Dogs, Drugs and Doing Good

Here is an excerpt from a news story from Santa Fe, New Mexico. I’ve known Chris for years and I’m celebrating her appointment to the National Advisory Council on Substance Abuse. Sober 25 years Chris is clearly “out of the woods” but still and always able to tell a story on herself. You just have to love dog people and addicts!

“Chris Wendel hasn't touched a drop of liquor or smoked dope or snorted cocaine or "tripped" in 25 years. Instead she has made it her mission to help others who are still struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. "My passion is my sobriety and other people's sobriety," Wendel said. "That is my passion."

As chairwoman of the state Behavioral Health Planning Council, Wendel has spent the past three years organizing and directing the group of consumers, family members, advocates and providers who advise the state Behavioral Health Collaborative on how best to spend millions of dollars worth of federal grant money earmarked to address Behavioral Health issues in New Mexico. Soon, she'll have even wider influence. She was chosen to sit on the advisory council for the national Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.

Wendel feels her experience as an ex-addict is one of her greatest qualifications for the work the she does.

When Wendel's dog had surgery a while back, the vet prescribed a narcotic similar to Valium for the dog. Wendel said she immediately started calculating her weight compared to the weight of her dog and figured she could probably "get off" by taking four times the dose prescribed for her pet.

"I'm 25-years sober and I'm thinking about stealing meds from my dog," Wendel said. "My first reaction to every situation will always be that of an addict. But now I wait for the second reaction."

Monday, August 16, 2010

Two roads diverged...

And you will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the path. Walk ye in it.”

---------Isaiah 30:21 The King James Bible

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Learning about Happiness

One of the things we learn from the Big Book and our founder’s history is the warning that alcoholics—let’s say addicts of all kinds—are often guilty of “Contempt prior to investigation.” I stumble over this defect all the time.

Most recently it involves happiness. I have seen the book, “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin on the best-seller list and I saw the book again and again in my favorite bookstore. It was even selected as a “staff pick” by some pretty savvy readers. But, I thought I knew better.

After all, this woman was a blogger. Uh huh. And she was on Oprah. Now there’s a curse. And the book is about happiness of all things. Really.

But one day, not long ago, I picked up the book and started to read and found myself reading and learning and laughing. I got a copy from the library but then realized that I wanted to scribble all over the book—a sure sign for me that I am loving a book. So I bought a copy.

And guess what? It’s really, really good. Almost like a Big Book for people who don’t need AA but who want to change their thinking, attitudes, behaviors and relationships. And it’s fun and insightful and warm.

So much for what I think I know. Now I’m glad that I read “The Happiness Project. Live and learn. And get happy.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Dear Mind: Shush!

A big event this weekend and my mind has been yakking at me. The progress part is that I have been talking back and saying, “Dear mind, Shush!” I have to talk to myself like I talk to a baby: “It’s OK; it’s all OK; everything’s gonna be OK.” (cue Bob Marley in the background)

I don't like the old-time AA idea that our minds are our enemy or that my mind is out to get me. But there are times that I have to remind my mind that I am not 9 years old, that it can take a rest from trying to protect me from EVERYTHING, and that I will notice trouble without my head constantly alerting me to possible dangers.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Working the Steps?

Today’s meeting was about the steps. Surprising sometimes that in all of this AA-ing and meetings we forget that it is about these 12 steps. We say we “do” them, and we “work” them and we have instructions—sort of—in the Big Book.

But what has been your experience of working the steps? Did you do them once? Is it ongoing? Are you of the school that says we do Step One once? Or every day? And how about Step Four? I’ve done several 4th step inventories but some people say you do Step Four once and Ten through Twelve after that to keep things in line and sober.

And from this far out—or into the woods- what do you now say to newcomers who ask when they should start working the steps?

Sunday, August 08, 2010

What's my Business?

I’ve heard in Alanon that “What other people think of me is none of my business”. But I’m also learning that what I think of other people is also none of my business. Their lives and their behavior are their business.

What this leaves me with is keeping the focus on myself.

What a concept.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Happy, Joyous and Free

We are told that the gift of recovery is that we will become happy, joyous and free. Freedom we know: freedom from hangovers and sickness and obsession and shame. Freedom from fear. And happiness yes. Not all the time. We do not stop being human; and life happens to us as it does to everyone else. So happiness is not a constant even though periods of happiness will increase the longer we are active in recovery.

But Joy is something else. One of the best things I learned about Joy is this:

“Joy comes from my relationship with God.  So I can be Joyous even when I am not happy.”

As we daily pursue a connection with our Higher Power we can be happy, joyous and free. This is why recovery continues even after our last drink was many years ago.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

If My Husband Ever...

“If my husband ever…”. Yes, with each round of celebrity infidelity we engage in the age-old game of, “If my husband ever…”. At 56, I’ve played this many times at lunch tables and water coolers and sitting on the floor in a girl friend’s living room. But at 56 I’ve also taken enough early morning phone calls from friends and sponsees to know that even if you think you know what you’d do if you discovered a partner’s infidelity, you don’t.

Some leave at once, some never leave, some forgive, some don’t. Sometimes the ones that forgive stay but sometimes leaving is the route to forgiveness. Most chilling, I think, are those that never leave, never separate and never forgive. They keep up appearances—maybe are even envied by others for their perfect marriages which are glued together with hatred and spite.

The agony of infidelity does not discriminate. There is enough to go around. I’ve played all the parts: scorned wife, secret lover, other woman—and the friend who knew. There are no winners. No one has more or less pain.

Now, a new novel comes pretty close to accurately depicting each of those points of view. It’s a great read and even better as a book on CD to listen to in the car or at the beach.

If you have ever said, “I’d never” to any part of the extramarital triangle take a look at: “Heart of the Matter” by Emily Giffen.