A Few Surprises in Life

As mentioned yesterday I reached a minor milestone of eight months sober. I’m filled with a lot of gratitude for where I am today. As I went through my day, a couple things happened. I have made a conscious decision to quit smoking. My roommate is finally getting out of his depressed state watching a few episodes of the The Shannara Chronicles with me and dropped some news about our possible future. New York State Department of Taxation and Finance sent me an “Overpayment Notice”. During the Winter I fell off the healthy lifestyle not going to the gym, so has my roommate – that is now changing. Last night, I signed up for a membership at Planet FitnessLastly, at a sister Fellowship meeting (CoDA) the message was clear, “Trust in the process . . . “

I Quit Smoking

Just like my drinking, I have tried to quit smoking. I’ve never made a conscious decision to “stay stopped”. For the last couple of days I’ve been questioning “why” I’m still smoking giving myself excuse after excuse after another excuse. I recognized I’ve been increasing my smoking because of stress (14 meetings or more a week, Sponsorship and just living life on life’s terms). When I walk to the local Price Chopper up the street or take other long walks I become extremely short of breath, sometimes having to stop and sit. I know I’m killing myself and it needs to end.

After writing and posting my Daily Readings, I sent a note to my doctor asking for her to call in a prescription for NRT (nicotine replacement therapy). I had three other scripts waiting for pickup at Walmart. I wasn’t sure the process but got a email back later in the day, it was waiting for me at the pharmacy. I also had to make an appointment in June for a follow-up. So I picked all my scripts up later in the day.

At around 11 p.m. last night I smoked my last cigarette. I prayed to my Higher Power to help remove the craving and obsession. I literally said, “Goodbye, old friend. I’m done!” as I walked back to the house. This morning I promptly put a patch on and have not had a craving yet but I feel a need to walk, so after I get done with this post, that is exactly what I’m going to do.

No Expectations – Little Disappointment

My roommate has not been himself for the last couple of weeks. He’s been isolating in his room, not going to meetings, basically being a recluse. Why? Because his recent break up with a woman was especially hard on him and he thinks believes he’s an unworthy human being, “. . . a complete piece of shit”. Of course my codependency wants to kick in but I’ve been working on that since I’ve met him in so many ways. As painful it is to watch I’ve keep my mouth shut only to open it at times to say I’m here for support if need be.

Yesterday he and I spent some quality time watching the Shannarah Chronicles as both of us like this genre – fantasy, science fiction. I actually enjoyed his company and he appeared different. Not once did he mention “the other woman” or made comments of himself. It was just nice to see him emerge from his extreme depressive state.

Yet, at the same time, he always tends to tell me things last minute. At first, we had plans to move out, get jobs and move on with our lives as roommates in August. This was delayed, his own decision, until the first of the year. Now, he tells me, certain entities are “pushing him” to leave in the next couple of weeks. I “suggested” he advocate for himself, telling the truth he doesn’t feel ready to do so getting all entities involved in that decision. However, I did remind him, “It’s not happening today is it? Let’s just watch Shannarah”. I really do feel it helped.

How does this affect me? It does and doesn’t. Part of me will be disappointed, yet part of me has a plan if things fall through. I applied for college at Penn State for my Bachelors in Software Engineering (awaiting entrance approval). It’s a four year online program where I would be able to stay where I’m at, get a job but also live with the various supporting organizations, at least for a while, to help me through the transition. I’ll be disappointed we won’t be living together because we both have been through a lot, supporting each other in our new journeys. But if it comes to us living separately, I’m okay with it. He knows I’m just a phone call away, I’m willing to go to meetings and no matter what I’ll still be a supporting friend in all his endeavors. Perhaps, just maybe, my Higher Power’s plan all this time is for me to learn from my experiences with him and grow from them.

NYS Tax Department – Impending Dreed

After filing my taxes this year, NYS withheld them. I conveniently forgot about a large tax bill back in 2014-2015 when I cashed out a retirement plan. My alcoholic mind convinced me I had paid those back taxes. However, yesterday I received a letter. A sense of dreed come over me – what now? As I carefully glanced over the notice it stated an overpayment. I had to read the notice THREE TIMES to make sure I was understanding it. Apparently with last years tax refund, I paid the remaining balance and they owe me a partial refund (**dances with excitement**). When and how it will get paid, I don’t know. It’ll happen when it happens. It was just some unexpected news in so many ways.

Back to the Gym

Back in Winter, my roommate and I were going to the gym. The weather got really cold, my roommate didn’t go, so I couldn’t go either as he had the membership, so i was his guest. Planet Fitness sent me an email about $1 down and $10 a month. I had to really think about it but late last night made a decision to sign a two-year contract. I’m doing this for me – period.

I still have goals to lose a few pounds and want to gain muscle strength. I walk everywhere I go, so my weight has not changed drastically. The point of going to the gym with my roommate was to turn the fat into muscle – tone the body. The problem now is that my roommate tends to go and do his own thing on the spur of a moment. I’m a more organized, planning type of guy. I do things according to my schedule. It’s hard for me to just get up and go do something. Now with the membership I’m no longer dependent on him. I know I can do this and I’m willing to. The struggle for me is getting comfortable getting in a routine and sticking to it. But in a way, this is what sobriety has taught me – getting comfortable with the uncomfortable part of me – becoming a accountable and responsible with myself.

Finally – Trusting in the Process

Last night at my CoDA meeting, the message I heard was, “trusting in the process”. Since I’ve been going to CoDA meetings and concentrating on my codependent behaviors, I have seen within myself some dramatic changes. I trust in the process of both AA and CoDA. I “believe” in the principles of both programs having seen them work in my own experiences. But this work is never ending, I always have to be aware of what is going on taking action when needed. I have been given a chance of a new life, so I’m using those “spiritual gifts that are laid at my feet”. I trust in the process.

Minor Milestone – 8 Months Sober

Eight months ago, I woke up in a daze. “My Gods, I’m really getting a chance to do this again?” Deep down, I was scared like a child lost in the dark. I took a deep breath. My fear was slowly washed away as I practiced gratitude for waking up alive and sober. A new journey began.

Every day since I do the same thing – practice gratitude when I wake up. There are so many alcoholics and addicts who don’t get a chance to live the next day succumbing to their addiction in the night. I believe we are all on this Earth for a purpose. Therefore, I take every opportunity to appreciate those things around me because where I was headed was my own grave.

Things had to change since my last sobriety of ten years. In the last eight months I have learned so much about myself. It was only through my experiences with Alcoholics Anonymous I was able to stay sober.

After my short stay in an impatient treatment center, I immediately got involved in my local recovery community, specifically Alcoholics Anonymous, to begin working on myself. Instead of waiting seven months, I immediately got a Sponsor who took me through the Twelve Steps. Every day, I attend at least one meeting, if not two. I’m also involved in CoDA (Codependents Anonymous) because it was in part due to those behaviors which got me to where I am today. I immerse myself in several commitments (coffee, chairman of meetings, District meetings, etc.).

Early recovery can be rough at times. Adopting the principles of AA helped me live “One Day At A Time” and “Living Life on Life’s Terms”. We all have “good days” and “bad days”. Today, first and foremost, I 100% don’t drink. Secondly, if I’m having a bad day – I get out of myself. SELF has always been the problem. I have been “given spiritual tools laid at my feet”, so I need to use them: going to a meeting, trusting in my Higher Power, speaking to my Sponsor, helping another alcoholic / addict or sometimes just being kind to a random stranger – try it sometime!

The work continues no matter what life throws in front of me. As long as I stay connected in Alcoholics Anonymous “practicing these principles in all our affairs” one day of sobriety suddenly becomes eight months. It’s an amazing journey with much more to come I’m sure.

As my Sponsor says at meetings:

Sobriety is to be enjoyed, not endured.

I’m grateful to be alive,

I’m grateful to be sober,

and I’m grateful to be a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Thanks for letting me share.

A 12 Step Series

For the last couple of years, I have thought about publishing my own experiences through the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Why would I publish the most intimate details of my life to the public? The primary goal of this blog is to give the reader, “An inside look into the world of a recovering addict”.

The goal is to publish the Twelve Steps as a series in the next year. Each month will concentrate on a particular Step. What I haven’t thought through is what I should include or what the structure should be. For instance, I would start with the Step itself, quoting the Chapter and page of the Big Book for reference. Perhaps highlights from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. My background as it applied to the Step. Then a description of what I exactly did – written, oral, prayer, meditation, etc. Lastly, the ending results. The goal is to provide a complete picture “from the eyes of a recovering addict” of my experiences when I went through the Steps.

Now that I really begin to think of this process, perhaps this will take on two parts: My Story and The 12 Steps, I’m not going to actually publish my whole story right now. However, the process may help this future endeavor.

This whole process will be beneficial (I hope) to new readers but myself too. Honestly, I’ve only gone through the Steps once. But I practice them to the best of my ability every day to “apply those principles in all out affairs”. I might even surprise myself with something new or perhaps something I’ve held on.

This may be too much for me right now.  I just started something very important in my own spiritual practice which may take a lot of my time. It’s a THOUGHT I’m taking into consideration. I hope I made my intentions clear enough.

For those who have read this far: Discussion!

I would like any comments, questions or concerns regarding this post. For instance, what were you thinking when you read this? What are any of your thoughts about doing this? We talk about honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness, so GIVE IT TO ME. The honest, blunt, to the point TRUTH.

Ready . . . Set . . . Go . . . Let’s Begin . . .

 

DR – August 6, 2017

Daily Recovery Readings for August 6, 2017:

Daily Reflection

DRIVEN

Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. ~ALCOHOLIC ANONYMOUS , p. 62

My selfishness was the driving force behind my drinking. I drank to celebrate success and I drank to drown my sorrows. Humility is the answer. I learn to turn my will and my life over to the care of God. My sponsor tells me that service keeps me sober. Today I ask myself: Have I sought knowledge of God’s will for me? Have I done service for my A. A. group?

From the book Daily Reflections
Copyright © 1990 by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.

Big Book Quote

“Carry this message to other alcoholics! You can help when no one else can. You can secure their confidence when others fail. Remember they are very ill.” ~Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, Working With Others, pg. 89~

Keep It Simple

Fear of people and economic insecurity will leave you. . . Alcoholics Anonymous

We don’t have to fear people. They can’t wreck our spirit. We don’t have to fear money problems. We won’t have to starve to death. Our Higher Power will lead us on a safe path through life.

Our Higher power wants us to be safe, happy, and wise. Our Higher power wants us to feel loved.

We’ll learn to trust our Higher Power. And we’ll learn to trust the happiness we find in our new way of life. People may still hurt us, but there will be much more love to carry us through.

Prayer For the Day:
Higher Power, I know You protect me and care for me. Help me stop worrying.

Action for the Day:
Today, I’ll list four fears I have. I will talk with my sponsor about how to turn these over to my Higher Power.

Daily Horoscope – Cancer

You are eager to explore the emotional mysteries that create fireworks in a relationship. You’re not interested in clever ideas and intricate theories; you want the juicy stuff that rattles your cage and heats up the red blood cells running through your veins. Unfortunately, there are no maps that point the way to the secrets of interpersonal chemistry. You must look for it on your own and be able to recognize it once you see it. Novelist Nora Roberts wrote, “Love and magic have a great deal in common. They enrich the soul, delight the heart, and they both take practice.”

DR – July 30, 2017

Daily Recovery Readings for July 30, 2017:

Daily Reflection

GIVING BACK

. . . he has struck something better than gold. . . .He may not see at once that he has barely scratched a limitless lode which will pay dividends only if he mines it for the rest of his life and insists on giving away the entire product. — ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 129

My part of the Seventh Tradition means so much more than just giving money to pay for the coffee. It means being accepted for myself by belonging to a group. For the first time, I can be responsible, because I have a choice. I can learn the principles of working out problems in my daily life by getting involved in the “business” of A.A. By being self-supporting, I can give back to A.A. what A.A. gave to me! Giving back to A.A. not only ensures my own sobriety but allows me to buy insurance that A.A. will be here for my grandchildren.

From the book Daily Reflections
Copyright © 1990 by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.

Big Book Quote

“As each member of a resentful family begins to see his shortcomings and admits them to the others, he lays a basis for helpful discussion. These family talks will be constructive if they can be carried on without heated argument, self-pity, self-justification or resentful criticism.” ~Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, The Family Afterward, pg. 127~

Keep It Simple

Beauty may be said to be God’s trademark in creation.—Henry Ward Beecher

Our addiction was like a veil over our heads. We saw the world as an ugly place.

We saw people as trouble. We thought our drinks and drugs were beautiful. But even they became ugly over time. Life became ugly because we had put distance between our Higher Power and ourselves.

Now we are blessed because the veil is lifted, and we are part of the healing process. We help others step into the beauty of recovery.

Our spirits are again free to seek a relationship with God and others. Through these relationships, we get our hope back. This hope helps us focus on the beauty of the world. Hope is the rain that helps our souls grow.

Prayer for the Day:
Higher Power, the world is both beautiful and ugly. For too long I only saw the ugly. Help me focus on the beauty.

Action for the Day:
Today, I’ll keep an eye out for the beauty recovery holds for me. Throughout the day, I’ll pray for this.

Daily Horoscope – Cancer

Your desires are sending signals in several directions, attracting people and circumstances outside of your normal lifestyle. However, you’re uncomfortable sharing your personal business too quickly because you’re naturally overprotective when disclosure triggers your emotions. Nevertheless, don’t allow your feelings to go dormant now; keep your passions alive by feeding your dreams with your awareness. Poet Mark Strand wrote, “Old ways won’t open new doors.”

Someone is Talking to You

Last week a co-worker confided in me he got a DUI.  He took an opportunity to pull me aside, knowing I am open with my recovery, stating, “Mike, I don’t believe in the 12-Step program but I can’t continue to live like this . . .” We had a good conversation of where he is now and, if he chooses to, what can be done to stop the insanity currently controlling his life. A couple days later, he contacted me asking if we could go to a meeting. Last night, I took him to a meeting where he lives (about an hour drive from me). The experience showed him how the program works.

We arrived at a small church in this small town proceeding downstairs to the basement. Immediately, as in AA fashion, people greeted us knowing we were “out of towners”.  Before the meeting, we chatted with others for a bit and between ourselves about the program. My intuition (my HP) was telling me this was going to be a good meeting.

After the typical Preamble, 12 Steps, 12 Traditions and Promises readings, a topic was decided – the importance of meetings. It couldn’t have been a better topic for the both of us! My friend didn’t know it at the time but I hadn’t been to a meeting myself in a couple of months.

At the tail end of the meeting, the chairperson asked, “Would the person from Binghamton like to speak?” I obliged by recounting how people who already spoke brought a message to me. Several people spoke about how they missed meetings and relapsed. They all had their own excuses, as I recounted mine saying, “I’m too busy and don’t have time.” I explained how a person with 10 years of sobriety, lost it in a minute due to lack of meetings. Another had seven days of sobriety after a recent relapse, again because of a lack of meetings. I too could be both those people – all because I didn’t go to meetings. “Someone is talking to me, my HP and I need to listen and do the right thing!”

Afterward, my friend and I went to Denny’s for dinner. I answered several questions but felt I was bombarding him with program information perhaps he wasn’t ready for right now. Instead, he was thankful for me driving all the way, taking him to a meeting and showing him how the program really works. I guess WE gave him a first good impression.

We have already talked about going to another meeting here in the next couple of days. We both have to find out what our schedules are at work and try to coordinate a good date and time. Meanwhile, he got a recent meeting list and I “suggested” he try to get to at least a meeting a day. However, if he couldn’t, for whatever reason, to call me or pull me aside at work. I would be more than willing to talk to him about events going on in his life.

So the ball is in his court. I have done my part. It is my hope he continues his journey.

 

 

What A Sponsor Does for Me

My Sponsor and I have known each other for over nine years now. We have a strong relationship. As mentioned, after receiving my nine year medallion, he is one of three people who saved my life. He’s been there, night and day, through my “growing pains” of sobriety, thus I am eternally thankful. However, there are times the relationship feels as if I’m about to jump off a cliff; the relationship doesn’t seem to be working. Yet, there are times, like yesterday, when I’m reminded why he’s my Sponsor.

After an exhausting week at work, due to Storm Stella, the plan was to stay at home.  With my job as a CNA, I don’t have a luxury of two days off together. Three days off, like this weekend, is exceptionally rare. I wanted to make the most of it getting things done of my ever growing personal to-do-list. But my Sponsor always seems to put a dent in my plans.

This is the part where I feel the relationship is no longer working.  At the age of 76, I’ve noticed an increasing number of signs attributed with his age.  He tends to be very forgetful, yet insistent he’s always right.  That in itself just drives me nuts, as I just grind my teeth and bare it.Over the years I’ve known him, I have learned he can be a hypocrite.  Another annoying side of him. Lately, he’s become needy and dependent on me.  Every day off he “suggests” I come help him with tasks he should do for himself.  Of course, I indulge him, only regretting my decisions every time.

But there is another side of him – the reason he’s my Sponsor.  While his suggestions can become numerous, he’s typically spot on. For instance, I haven’t been to a meeting in quite a long time.  Yesterday, he made the strong suggestion I need to attend more meetings. Part of me struggles accepting his suggestion, while the other part of me knows he’s exactly right.

A while ago, I made a commitment to attend the noon meeting at a local church daily to myself.  I made it a couple of times, then just stopped going. Excuses: I was to busy having more important things to do; I wasn’t getting any messages for myself there; it was a waste of my time. Then almost every day, I ridicule myself for not going. As I look back, selfishness rears its ugly head putting me on the pity pot. Houston, we have a problem!

But the more I think about it, my Sponsor is right. I need to get involved going to meetings to share my experience, strength and hope.  I’ve seen to many people go down that road never to return again. It’s my experience meetings are an essential part of your recovery – it is a must and should not be ignored.

Therefore, I need to get back to reality. I need to stop thinking and just DO it. That is why I have a Sponsor – to give me a reality check and help me keep my sobriety in tact.