Monday, October 24, 2016

Monday's Message - Statement #9

Release the Past


“We are new women, filled with life and hope.”  -Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph.D., WFS Program Booklet 

“There are times in our lives when we have to realize our past is precisely what it is, and we cannot change it.  But we can change the story we tell ourselves about it, and by doing that, we can change the future.”  -Eleanor Brown, The Weird Sisters 

“A wise woman sat in the audience and cracked a joke.  Everyone laughs like crazy.  After a moment, she cracked the same joke again.  This time less people laughed.  She cracked the same joke again and again.  When there is no laughter in the crowd, she smiled and said:  You can’t laugh at the same joke again and again but why do you keep crying over the same thing over and over again?”  -Author unknown 

Statement #9, “The past is gone forever.”
No longer will I be victimized by the past.  I am a new person.

+ Karen’s Perspective +
        Under the influence, one of the ways that I experienced life was through weak and desperate eyes.  I had felt victimized early in life and while unconscious of this fact, I had learned how to use these feelings and behavior to my advantage.  Alcohol had simultaneously provided a cover for uncomfortable feelings while faux-creating the image of a strong and bold persona.
        This enabled me to repeatedly seek out dangerous or high risk situations which then allowed me to feel that I had earned or deserved a drink.  Caught in this cycle of victimhood and alcohol, I clung to every past pain and hurt.  I wallowed in self-pity and dragged people down around me.  It was an emotionally painful time with no end in sight but there was an end, or rather a new beginning.
        Sobriety and Statement #9 in action provide a clean slate while enabling the past to become a tool.  Upon reading the words “The past is gone forever” for the first time, I felt like a weight had been lifted.  I recall feeling hopeful and even worthy, which felt so good after years of my own victimization.  I began to feel better inside and out, and these feelings were authentic and came from the heart of me.  I am a new person.
        I reside in the present while continuing to reveal and embrace the authentic me.  Hugzzz, Karen
+  Member Insights  +
        I love Statement 9.  It helped me the most in my recovery, my divorce, my outlook on everyday life.
        Before practicing this statement, I clung to the past like a life-line.  I felt I deserved the pain and guilt I constantly piled on myself.  It became this huge, high wall that blocked out all the good things waiting for me on the other side of that wall.  As I learned to let go of the past, I felt pure joy for the first time in a very long while.  I actually learned to love myself in spite of my past because no longer would I allow myself to be victimized by something I could not, or ever would, be able to change.  I learned a lot about my strengths as I slowly tore down that wall.  I became vulnerable and survived.  I realized vulnerability wasn’t a sign of weakness but of courage in learning to connect with others without fear.
        I recently read that in a study on shame that women tend to turn against themselves, engaging in destructive self-loathing.  Shame gets in the way of forgiving ourselves, of being vulnerable because we might be judged or rejected.  For me, it became a choice of being stuck in a past that will never change, leaving me in a place of shame, guilt, un-forgiveness and definitely a sad, negative state of mind... or moving forward with the willingness to face my fears, learning to love myself, love others with authenticity, and most of all, to forgive myself to live with joy, peace and being in the present.
·         Are you ready or willing to let go of the past?
·         If not, what’s stopping you?
·         How is it serving you?
·         Can you use what you have learned about yourself to build up your self-esteem rather than tear yourself apart?
·         Can you face your fear of being vulnerable?
·         Can you describe what that would feel like?
·         Have you learned to forgive yourself for what cannot be changed?
  -WFS Member
© WFS Inc. * Women for Sobriety, Inc., PO Box 618, Quakertown PA 18951
Email:  *  Ph: 215-536-8026  *  Fax: 215-538-9026
Daily Inspirations on Twitter: @WFS4C  *  Check out the WFS Blog:
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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Happiness Survey

Study on the Role of Happiness in Recovery

All invited to participate

Please note: this study has been reviewed and approved by WFS.

Dear WFS participants,
We are conducting a study on the role of happiness in recovery, and would like to ask you for your feedback and insight. Our reason for conducting this study is that in treating addiction and researching ways to support recovery from addiction, we often focus on the negative. We know much less about the role positive emotions and experiences play in the process of recovery. To fill this gap, we are seeking input from persons in recovery via this online survey:

Survey completion would take about 15 minutes, and is completely anonymous.

We are a group of scientists from the Recovery Research Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital / Harvard Medical School ( We do research to enhance continuing care for individuals in recovery from alcohol and other substance use disorders.

For questions or concerns about this study, please contact Bettina Hoeppner at

Thank you for considering – your feedback would be incredibly useful to us!

All the best,
Bettina B. Hoeppner, Ph.D., MS
Assistant Professor of Psychology
Harvard Medical School

Director of Biostatistics, Center for Addiction Medicine
Massachusetts General Hospital
151 Merrimac Street, Boston MA 02114

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Monday's Message - Statement #5


Reclaiming Self-Esteem


 “Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create that fact.”  -William James

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”  -Maya Angelou

“The one self-knowledge worth having is to know one’s own mind.”  -F.H. Bradley

Statement #5, “I am what I think.”  I am a capable, competent, caring, compassionate woman.
+ Karen’s Perspective +
        Statement #5 consists of five little words that produce BIG results when practiced and lived daily.  In the past, before sobriety and New Life, it was easy to try to figure out what someone else thought about me but (how could I possibly know?) ….I am not what …he/she/they… think at all.  I am what ………I ……. think.
        Jean writes in our Program Booklet “When drinking has ended, we are still faced with the poor image we have of ourselves.”  Looking in the mirror in those early days of sobriety, I had no idea who I was in that moment so I decided to invest in a new me.  I began a journey of uncovering what alcohol had hidden for so many years.  This is not an overnight process; I continue to learn about myself daily while finding new strengths and abilities.
        One of the women in our f2f group remarked this week how significantly different her life and perspective is today.  Her thoughts are clearer and balanced with an openness that was not possible until learning how to manage and engineer her thinking.  The contrast and results can be striking.  For me, this Statement addresses one of women’s greatest needs in recovery:  reclaiming of self-esteem and self-worth.  I encourage you to compare your thoughts today with your thoughts held before sobriety.  Hugzzz, Karen 
+  Member Insights  +
        Changing how we feel about ourselves is challenging, especially if we feel guilt and shame from our past behavior.  That guilt can keep us stuck, so I encourage you to keep Statement #9 in mind when you begin practicing the powerful you!
        Yes, the powerful, empowered you.  I remember how difficult it was to rebuild my self-esteem when my daily mantra had been so negative for years.  As I started to feel competent, then that inner critic started showing up.  He used to be my friend because I believed his negative messages from the past.  I finally realized that he wanted to show me once and for all who was the powerful one.  I fought hard to quiet him and it took a lot to do that.  I had to believe in my new truth.  Those old messages were no longer relevant.  I was a new person - becoming a 4C woman.  I had to be in charge of this transition.
        What helped me is the exercise I found in the Self-Esteem Companion Book by Matthew Mckay, Ph.D., Patrick Fanning, Carole Honeychurch, Catherine Sutker.  Apparently, it takes a lot of people to teach us how to build our self-esteem which was comforting to me working on my own.  Whenever I feel myself feeling unsure, I do this exercise.  I hope it helps you as much as it has helped me. 

1.       Recall a time when you felt really cared for and loved.  It can be a big event or a small moment.

2.       Think back to a time when you felt really successful.  Anytime will do as long as it provides a strong memory of your feelings of success.

3.       Remember a time that you did something important for someone else.  It can by any moment of selflessness that’s important to you.

4.       Look for a memory of loving someone else.  Think back to a moment when you felt love for another very strongly, when that feeling filled your heart.

Practice this exercise and use it whenever you need a quick reminder of how to feel good about yourself.

Embrace the personal strengths that lie within you, encourage their continued growth and know that you are what you think, so practice positive thinking in all areas of your New Life.  -WFS Member
© WFS Inc. * Women for Sobriety, Inc., PO Box 618, Quakertown PA 18951
Email:  *  Ph: 215-536-8026  *  Fax: 215-538-9026
Daily Inspirations on Twitter: @WFS4C  *  Check out the WFS Blog: 
DONATE NOW ~ Your Donations Help Support WFS’s Services ~ Thank you!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Sobering Thoughts Article by Jean "...Early Sobriety"

Dealing With The Confusions Of Early Sobriety

By Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph.D., WFS Founder

     Finally we have quit drinking and our world is going to be set right.  Our marriage will now flourish, as it did in the early years, and all the problems with the children will finally be over.  And thank heaven, the in-laws and parents will stop the constant haranguing about drinking.  And it certainly will be a nice change to hear a few compliments for doing something about the drinking.

     What a wonderful dream sequence!

     Very likely not a single one of those events will ever take place.  And if you waste your time waiting for any of them to happen, then you are still dreaming.

     For some very crazy and very human reason, we are under the delusion that when we quit drinking, everything in our life will be wonderful.  When it isn’t we begin to think we did something wrong.  Or we wonder if it’s really worth it, this life of sobriety.

     But why isn’t everything wonderful?  Why isn’t every problem solved?  Why are some members of the family still angry, as if you’ve committed a crime?  And why are the kids so belligerent?  And why is it always so tense?  And why does everyone speak to you in such a dumb way, like you’re not present or conscious?

     Early sobriety is the time of our greatest confusion.  While we are still in that peculiar state of expecting everyone to congratulate us, we find that that isn’t the reality of life.  Those who seem to make us feel good and who REALLY UNDERSTAND us are members of our group.  THEY understand and they are the ones who tell us how wonderful we are for quitting.

     But when we are away from our group, all hell breaks loose and we feel angry all of the time.  Angry and frustrated and ready to scream.  We think about drinking every once in awhile but then we remember the remorse and the guilt feelings and the headache and the depression and we decide not to go back to that.  But we can’t understand what is going wrong.

     Well, the truth of the matter is that nothing is going wrong.  It’s just that two things are happening, both of which are at cross purposes.

     Your family is happy that you have quit drinking but the notion that they will probably display towards you in the beginning will be the anger they have been feeling for a long time.  They are not about to congratulate you.  Instead they finally want to tell you off… tell you how many times you spoiled their plans, how many times you insulted them, how many times they wished you were not a part of their family.  Your sobriety is finally a time when they see you sober and know that what they say to you will at least register in your brain.  So their reaction to your sobriety will not be what you have expected.

     As for your kids, you now want to play Super Mom to make up for all the rough times but all they seem to do is stay away from home or yell at you.  Why?

     The reason for their reaction to you is that for the past several years, they have been taking care of you.  They have looked over you, protected you, made excuses for you.  They mothered you.

     They are not about to regress to the age they were when your drinking started to affect their lives.  And that is perhaps the saddest part of all in this scenario of sobriety.  That part of your children’s lives is lost to you and that is one of the biggest causes for the guilt you will battle in your sobriety.  And that is why the WFS “New Life” Program can help you, because you will have to know that “The past is gone forever.”

     No matter how upsetting this fact of your life is… the lost years of your life with your children… nothing can be done about it except to accept that it is over, that you did the only possible thing for the disease you have… stopped drinking… and that you are a changed woman who will now try to understand the distance your children are putting between you.  No matter how hard it will be for you to understand this, you must see that they are very, very angry with you because they missed you.  They are hurting and have been hurting and they can’t just suddenly be happy all of the time about your sobriety.

     Sobriety does not make our problems go away.  Sobriety is a time when our problems seem overwhelming, because we are seeing them with sober eyes, with a clear mind, and then we are very confused.  That is when we ask if it is really all worth it?

     Of course we know the answer to that.  No matter how very bad things seem, there is no problem that drinking won’t make worse.  If there is one thought we should keep uppermost in our minds, it is that drinking makes everything worse and there will always be a day when we must sober up and look at the problems.  That day cannot be put out of our lives.  Our problems are there for us to deal with.

     Early sobriety is a time when we come up against several hard truths that whatever we must do in life, we must do for ourselves and give up waiting for someone else to do them for us.

     Added to our feelings of guilt in the early days is the feeling of anger we also experience.  We are angry because what we have put off dealing with, we must face and deal with it now.  The time of postponement is over.  The time of doing is at hand.

     Even worse than the anger we feel is the feeling of fear.  And anxiety.  We feel incapable.  We know we can’t do it.  We know that this problem… or problems… is greater than we are and we just can’t do it!

     We are nervous, anxious, fearful and angry.  We are squirming with these nagging emotions.  Where can we turn?

     This is the time when we must really live our new program, the “New Life” Program.  This is the period when we most need the early morning time of meditation, when we can sit by a window and put our problems into proper order and sort out our emotions that are probably misplaced.  Remember the suggestion of thinking about our problems in relation to eternity?  How serious are they?  If we had just one day to live, which problem could we eliminate?  Are these problems as devastating as we are making them?  Do they all require immediate solutions and/or decisions?

     This early morning time is when we must begin to understand the strange reactions of our family.  It is the time when we must know that our stopping drinking was, and is, the most important decision we have ever made in our lives.  We now know that we are the victim of the disease of alcoholism and that we cannot tolerate alcohol in any form.  And learning that this has been the cause of our inability to control our drinking, or our lives, is a relief.  We had thought we were horrible persons.

     But now that we know, we must grasp life and be on top of it, not be swayed or overcome by fear and anxiety.  We know that we must practice feeling like a competent woman and then we will know that we are, because we will find this to be true.  And this time of morning meditation will help us to understand our fear, our anxiety, our anger, and our guilt, and we will know that none of this is justified.

     Every day we will make certain we have the morning period of meditation to get our emotions right so that we are comfortable with ourselves.  And we will know that we are capable of handling the daily pressures.  And we will try to understand the anger of our family.  And we will know that we have compassionate and understanding friends in our group.  And we will know that every day we get better and life will be very rewarding.  And we know now that all of this does not happen overnight… as we thought it would when we got sober, when we expected magic to happen and it didn’t. ø [June 1986]

(This article is a reprint from the Sobering Thoughts newsletter, June 1986 edition and is in Volume 11 of the Collection of Sobering Thoughts Booklets and has comments from Amy and “Godiva214”.)

Comments from Amy “AmyMarie”:
        When I first quit drinking I wasn’t expecting anything.  I had no idea what was going to happen.  I just stopped drinking and went from there.  One of the first problems I tackled was getting out of debt.  I was in this mode that I wanted to bulldoze my way through all of my problems and get my life back under control.  Eventually, once things were under control in regards to the damage I had done with drinking, I found myself in an odd place.
        I must explain at this juncture that I have no family so all of the familial issues that Jean cited in her article do not apply to me.  Most of the friends I had were drinking buddies so they were pretty much eliminated once I got sober.  Most of the damage done was to myself, to my roommate and my boyfriend.  I recognized in early sobriety the things I had done wrong to these two people and knew that the only way to “make amends” to them both was through staying sober, a “living amends” if you will.  I had no issues with my boyfriend when I got sober.  He was thrilled and was always filled with praise and did not seem to have any past transgressions on my part to bring up and be angry about.  My roommate was a different story.  In my early sobriety, he didn’t display any anger towards me, that came later.  Now he has a tendency to bring up things I did or said while I was drinking, even after over 5 years of me being sober.  I get angry about it sometimes because there is nothing else I can do or say to demonstrate that I am sorry other than staying sober.  Also I believe a part of him misses “toasty Amy” (as he likes to refer to me when I was drinking) because he took care of me and, now that I am sober, I guess he feels he is not needed.  We have also grown apart because me, in my sober state, does not enjoy hanging out with him as much as I did when I was drinking.
        I transgress, so let me get back on point.  The odd place I found myself in was that I replaced my drinking addiction with an exercise addiction.  I have always been active, so exercise was not new to me; however, I went way overboard and, as a result, I misaligned my pelvis which in turn led to a lot of pain that I struggled with for about 2 years and even now deal with to some degree.  This is where I started to believe that since I had quit drinking that nothing bad should ever happen to me.  And, as Jean states in her article, I became very confused as to why I was going through this and, at moments, thought about drinking.  I, of course, knew that drinking would only make my problems worse and cause me not to be able to handle it with a clear head.
        Another issue that developed in early sobriety for me was a severe case of anxiety.  I didn’t have my old crutch to depend on to momentarily take away any worries or concerns I had.  I didn’t know how to live life and was always afraid that the worst thing would happen to me.  I had been using the AA program on off up until September of 2013 (my sobriety date is November 28, 2009) and it was not helping me to learn to live life.  I found the principles of the program to be too harsh and depressing to use as a guide.  I don’t like to think of my liabilities as “character defects”.  It makes me feel as if I am defective.  So, I was at my wits end and that is when I rediscovered WFS (I had tried WFS in the past, but did not actively participate in the program).  That was the turning point for me.
        It has been a slow process learning to deal with life’s issues and being positive in my sober life; however, I am happy to report that I am making progress.  As a result of utilizing Jean’s 13 Statements, I now have the ability to do things for myself, deal with the ups and downs of life in a more productive and positive manner and the anxiety/fear is abating.  I am “on top of life” and I am very proactive when it comes to my mental, physical and spiritual health.  I still have a long way to go though and I do recognize it is a journey not a destination.
        Early sobriety wasn’t too difficult for me in regards to family issues.  What was difficult for me was knowing how to live life and handling its obstacles.  I will be honest and say that I believe I do not deserve to go through anymore hardships because I have been through so much in my life, before, during and after sobriety, and I believe I deserve smooth sailing beginning now and until the day I die.  However, I do acknowledge that I must do my part to make sure my life “flows” and I do believe that if I do my part that the Universe will help me. ø

Comments from “Godiva214”:
        As human beings, we often find that a “new” situation brings anxiety and unease into our lives.  Starting a new job, moving to a new home, starting a new, healthy relationship -- and certainly embarking on a life of sobriety -- are among the life changes that can seem overwhelming.
        So, here we are, newly sober, struggling with the crushing guilt of past deeds and we have to summon the strength to navigate through unfamiliar, uncharted waters.  Ugh.  That sounds impossible!  And why?  Consider these realities:

1.       “New” can be difficult because it is not familiar, not comfortable, not EASY.
2.       Being in a “new” situation can create anxiety and unease.
3.       Unease can trigger doubt.
4.       Doubt in our abilities brings back our old pal, Low Self Esteem!
5.       Low Self Esteem -- OMG, how hideous is it when she shows up?  She brings along her evil twin, Negative Mindset.
6.       When Low Self Esteem and Negative Mindset drop by (unexpected, of course, and usually at an inconvenient time), they always want to bring their chaotic cousin, Drinking/Drugging Behavior, into the toxic mix. 

        And we all know where things go when those three B!*@$#S show up.
        Therefore, in Early Sobriety, I think it’s OK to treat ourselves with kid gloves, so to speak.  Realize that “regret is the poison of life” and yes, the past is gone forever.  But, instead of concentrating on past mistakes, build a game plan for a better future -- one that’s healthy and happy and full of the possibilities that you generate for yourself.
        Above all, remember that when Low Self Esteem, Negative Mindset and Drinking/Drugging Behavior come around, you can tell them you’re too busy to see them.  Screen their calls.  Don’t return their messages.  Get up, leave them behind and just walk outside for a breath of fresh air.
        You have a new friend of your very own creation:  The Future Is Now.
        She is a true friend, one concerned with your best interests.  And she can be whatever you want her to be! ø
© WFS Inc. * Women for Sobriety, Inc., PO Box 618, Quakertown PA 18951
Email:  *  Ph: 215-536-8026  *  Fax: 215-538-9026
Daily Inspirations on Twitter: @WFS4C  *  Check out the WFS Blog:

DONATE NOW ~ Your Donations Help Support WFS’s Services ~ Thank you! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

October Reflections

Excerpts from the October “Reflections For Growth” Booklet by Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph.D.

October 1
    The times when I lose my temper and see how much I hurt others and myself, I know that venting my grievances was definitely not worth it.
    And then I vow never to let this happen again.
    But it does, and I know that I must make renewed and continued efforts to master, “Negative thoughts destroy only myself.”
October 9
    Feelings of compassion are both soft and strong.
    So many other emotions that are soft, leave us unprotected, vulnerable to hurt.
    But this is not true of compassion.  The softness involved in our feelings of compassion shows also the strength in our caring.
October 14
    When we feel resentment, it usually is because we feel we’ve been left out or taken advantage of or short-changed.
    In the WFS “New Life” Program, we try to overcome any change of resentments conquering us.  How?  By growing emotionally - by feeling good about ourselves.
October 21
    During those years of drinking, there were times when I told persons exactly what I thought about them in totally insulting terms.  You see, I thought I was perfectly justified in my “honesty.”
    Unfortunately, what I thought was honesty was nothing more than the insults coming from an unreasonable, drunken woman.
October 30
    The society within which we live sometimes reinforces our feelings of insecurity.  Other persons are busy with the intricacies of their lives and have little time to support us or even to listen to our feelings.
    Somehow we must learn to deal with, and overcome, our feelings of insecurity through our personal growth.

Women for Sobriety’s Motto

“We are Capable and Competent, Caring and Compassionate, always willing to help another; bonded together in overcoming our addictions.”
© WFS Inc. * Women for Sobriety, Inc., PO Box 618, Quakertown PA 18951
Email:  *  Ph: 215-536-8026  *  Fax: 215-538-9026
Daily Inspirations on Twitter: @WFS4C  *  Check out the WFS Blog:

DONATE NOW ~ Your Donations Help Support WFS’s Services ~ Thank you!