Women for Sobriety, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping women overcome Substance Use Disorders. Founded in 1975, it was the first national self-help recovery program for women. The WFS New Life Program helps women achieve sobriety and sustain ongoing recovery. This blog is being preserved as an archive, as new posts are now being made on our main website, womenforsobriety.org.
“Respect yourself enough to walk away from
anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy.If you aren’t being treated with love and
respect, check your price tag.Maybe you’ve
marked yourself down.It’s YOU who tells
people what your worth is.Get off the
clearance rack and get behind the glass where they keep the valuables.”-Author Unknown
the end of this week, we will be welcoming in a new year.We say goodbye to 2016 and usher in 2017….we
will have 12 new months, or 365 days, 8,760 hours, 525,600 minutes or
31,536,000 seconds.Each moment is
filled with infinite possibility.
decisions, choices are traditionally set to begin on January 1.A fresh start, open book, tabula rasa (blank
slate), new beginnings can start at any
moment of any day.Sure, it is fun
to start at a beginning, but anytime is
a great time for a new beginning.
those still drinking, take Statement #1 and immerse yourself into the Women for
Sobriety Program.Open the Program
Booklet and dive into each page, answer the questions that Jean Kirkpatrick
asks with complete honesty.If you are
not sure how to answer, pause, an answer usually appears when we least expect
it to.I recall relating quite well to
what Jean spoke of in the Program booklet; to avoid problems and especially to
produce a personality that I liked better.
New Year can also be a great time to refresh coping skills, to reflect on the
past year and acknowledge the growth that we have achieved and identify areas
where we need to pay more attention.If
we haven’t already done so, the New Year can be planned out with goals to
strive for.Even the smallest of goals
will make a difference.
What will your
tomorrow hold?You decide.You are worth it!
Hi 4C Women,
believing you are worth it can sometimes seem impossible.How can you be worth anything when you feel
like nothing?I am here to say that it
is absolutely possible to turn that negative definition we have of ourselves
into a definition of self-love and self-worth.
realized that my drinking was consistently fueled by my feelings of
worthlessness.Jean talked a lot about
that and how our self-talk needed to be one of love and knowing that we were in
charge of our lives, including how we viewed ourselves.I’ve shared this many times that my daily
mantra was as I looked in the mirror – “You’re stupid, fat and ugly.”Ugly was my spirit.I would have laughed in your face if you said
there would be a time when I looked in the mirror and said “I love you.”Yet that is what happened as I started to
take charge of my life through sobriety, believed I was worth it and learned to
feel the love that others had for me.
all starts with a sincere desire for a new life, a life each of us is deserving
of and yearning for.Accepting Statement
1 is powerful and what drew me to WFS.It
didn’t say you are a terrible person, forever an absolute mess and you need to
keep reminding yourself daily of the disaster you have made of your life.It said that I had a problem that once had me.I am in charge of my life, my mind and I
accept the responsibility.No
continually putting myself down for what I could not change but a guide to
living a positive, loving life with coping skills to face the challenges.I firmly believe and understand that without
the coping skills and positive support of WFS, I would be a woman who wasn’t
drinking but inside a woman who would still be scared to face life without the “inside”
changes WFS has given me.
I end with Karen’s wonderful question and message:What will your tomorrow hold?You decide.You are worth it!-WFS Member
Love, Hope, and Joy to all!Christmas
day has arrived and my heart is filled with gratitude and love.One of the many blessings in my life is the
Women for Sobriety “New Life” Program.Learning and exploring the 13 Statements on my own can be tedious at
times, but working the Statements with all of you is just amazing.As I read over the holiday online message posts
and replies, they touch me deeply and remind me how much our members give back
to one another in support and caring.Another blessing to be truly thankful for is our devoted group
moderators and chat leaders who spend countless hours volunteering their time
and sharing experiences and encouraging our hopes and dreams for a new life
that is free of addictions.A special
place in my heart, however, is reserved for the WFS office…all the dedicated
and hardworking staff and volunteers who make sure all the phone calls and
emails are answered with lots of care and compassion.They are a vital link to the organization and
I am ever thankful for all the encouragement they give to new members to learn
more about the program and to join the nearest face-to-face meeting and online
forum community for additional support.
want to wish all of you a sober, blessed day today…one that is filled with
love, gratitude, and compassion for yourself and for others in your life.I also want to share with you my thoughts on
the “New Life” Program.I hope it will
add strength and encouragement to your day.
Love, “Mrs. Claus”
My name is … and I’m a competent
woman.Saying a positive statement about
ourselves – out loud – is where the transformation begins for a new life.And Women for Sobriety’s Statement #5, “I am what I think” is a great place to start because
it is the very heart and soul of this “New Life” Program.
So how do I bring the heart and soul
of this program into my own life?Where
do I begin?Well, the founder of our
program, Dr. Jean Kirkpatrick, worked the whole thing out for us by creating
the 13 Statements of Acceptance and putting them in a format she calls the
“LEVELS OF RECOVERY”.
Level 1 is where
you begin by accepting the reality that you have a life-threatening, physical
disorder known as alcoholism and to take control of this problem you need to
stop drinking.Statement #1 says it very
clearly, “I have a life-threatening
problem that once had me.”I now take charge of my life and my
disease.I accept the responsibility.In the Mission Statement for the
organization, it says that to become a member of Women for Sobriety requires a sincere
desire for an abstinent new life.It begins with SOBRIETY and stopping the substance abuse and then you
move into recovery and start making those internal changes that will jump-start
your new life.
Level 2 is all
about replacing those negative thoughts with positive ones, putting guilt
behind us, and practicing new ways of viewing and solving problems.Okay – that is A LOT to do!Thank goodness Jean didn’t tell us we need to
accomplish this in 6-8 weeks!Personally, it is easier for me to catch someone else saying mean and
nasty things about themselves than it is to catch my own negative put-downs
going through my mind.
One of the best suggestions Jean
made to all of us is to start listening
very closely to our inner thoughts, as well as what we say verbally about
ourselves.Writing all this down in a journal is the start of becoming AWARE of what’s going on in our
head.Once I become aware of the problem
areas than I can start implementing those important changes that are necessary
to re-build my self-esteem and confidence so I can tackle any situation that
enters my life.
And that leads us to Level 3 – creating and
practicing a new self-image – we are now at the heart and soul of the program.
I’d like to summarize this level
with a quote by Jean, “To change our circumstances in life we must change
ourselves.And this happens when we find
a formula to follow.The formula of the
“New Life” Program is to know that our mind controls our world.Our entire character is determined by and is
formed by the thoughts we permit and place in our minds.We create the world in which we live by the
thoughts we have.We must train our
minds to work for us and not against us.”
Those are some very enlightening
words to ponder.I have many choices and
decisions to make in my new life.The
first is to stop the substance abuse and the second (which is just as
important) is what thoughts I will allow in my minds.While I create and practice my new
self-image, I will start using these new attitudes to enforce new behavior
That is what Level 4 is all about:Happiness – Enthusiasm – the Freedom to Choose an ordinary life or a
GREAT life.But, hold on a minute – what
if you’re saying to yourself…how can I have happiness in my life when I can’t
even stand looking at myself in the mirror?How can I possibly get excited about buying an onion at the grocery store
when I can barely drag myself out of bed in the morning to face another day?
That’s why Jean put Level 2 and 3 before this one.We need to create a positive attitude that
will boost our self-esteem so we can look in the mirror – with eyes wide open –
and say out loud:“I am a Beautiful, Capable, Competent, Caring, and Compassionate
Woman.This is what I am and I shall
know it always.”
Level 5 –
Improving relationships as a result of our new feelings about ourselves.This level deals with the “LOVE”
Statements:#7 “Love can change the course of my world,” and #10 “All love given returns.”
Many years ago, when I was reading
over the WFS Collection of Sobering Thoughts booklets, I was surprised that
Jean wrote so few articles on the “Love” Statements.When she became aware of this as well, she
said it was a subject that she and many other women alcoholics have some level
of difficulty with.
For myself, I totally believe that
love does change the course of my world and all love given does return in many
ways because love has been an integral part of my life since the moment I came
into this world.I am so grateful to
have parents and siblings that love and care for one another and to have a
marriage built on love and faith.I
believe whole-heartedly that love is the main source of my strength and
enthusiasm to live my life.
Of course, my life isn’t always
filled with sunshine and roses; however, I can assure you that when I
experience the difficult and painful times, I choose NOT to stop and take
pictures of it.Meaning that I don’t dwell
on the bad times by keeping a mental picture of it for the rest of my life.
Make room in your heart and your
mind for love – to receive love is a precious moment not to be pushed
aside.In fact, I encourage you to take
lots of mental pictures when love comes along in your life – those are the
moments that will help you get through the tough times.
Level 6 –
Recognizing life’s priorities:Emotional
and Spiritual Growth, plus Self-Responsibility.
I’ll start with the ‘self-responsibility’ part of this level.Statement #13, “I am responsible for myself and for my actions.”Many of us can have a love/hate relationship
with this statement.On one hand, it’s
great to be able to admit to others that you were responsible for a great idea
and that you followed through with the project and it was a huge success.On the other hand, it is very hard to admit
when you do not follow through with something you said you’d be responsible for
and, in turn, it has a negative effect on others who were relying on you.Admitting you were irresponsible in a
situation and saying it won’t happen again doesn’t always leave you off the
hook.Your future actions will determine
If my goal is to achieve emotional
growth and maturity, I will need to make a sincere conscious effort to work at
becoming responsible for myself and the actions I take.Jean sums it up by saying that the entire
object of this “New Life” Program is to come to this point:to the maturity of accepting ourselves and
being responsible FOR ourselves and ALL that we do.
To accomplish emotional and
spiritual growth in our lives, Jean says it is a learning process of figuring
out who we are, exploring ourselves, and what we need to change.To quote Jean, “The object of our living is
to find the best of ourselves and when we do that, we experience emotional
growth.Our spiritual life is best
tended to in periods of meditation.It
is the time in which we examine ourselves carefully in an effort to cast out
pettiness, jealousy, anger, or guilt so that our spirit, our soul, is at
peace.”She goes on to say that the way
each of us defines and goes about achieving emotional and spiritual growth is
individual and extremely personal.It
may be very different for each of us.There
is no one way.Well, all I can say
is AMEN to that!
I am grateful for the fact that we
have all these opportunities available to us to learn a variety of new ways of
thinking and living our lives so that we can make the proper choices to create
the new life we always wanted. ø[From 2002]
the years, I’ve written many articles about what I’ve done during the holidays
to stay sober and sane.While I was
thinking of what to write this year, I discovered I couldn’t really come up
with anything new.What I do have is a
basic recipe, one that I follow each year, with a few tweaks here and there,
depending on where I’m at.Sort of like
a favorite old recipe that we can change to suit our taste.It reminds me of my old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.I bought it in 1973 when I first learned how to cook.It is splattered and torn and many pages are
missing.You can tell which are my
favorite pages - many of them stick together!Well, the bottom line is that these recipes work and are dear to my
key ingredient to a happy holiday season is DON’T DRINK.Sounds so simple and, on some level, it
IS.Find your tools that support this
and just don’t drink.My mentor and
friend, Lilac, who recently passed away, offered me two great pieces of advice
when I first got sober.Advice #1 - Don’t
drink even if your ass falls off.And
since I don’t have to worry about that happening, I’m safe.The other more serious piece and the one that
worked every time was advice #2 - Think the drink all the way through.This single piece of advice was the one that
saved me every Friday night, my trigger night.I’d think so romantically about that first beautiful glass of red
wine.In my imagination it glowed, and
I’d think of how good it would feel going down, awarding me instant
relaxation.Before I got this advice,
I’d stop here and reach for the wine bottle, a Pavlovian response.However, after hearing this advice, I’d keep
it going, thinking about the various stages I’d predictably go through, ending
up on the bathroom floor, covered in vomit, sweat, shame and the bath mat.Not so romantic after all!
other ingredient, and one that also packed a punch, was learning how to say NO
and to SIMPLIFY.Each year this looked
different depending on where I was mentally and emotionally.The key was to trust were I was at and use
that as a starting point.I had to make
sure I was doing the work so I could trust my emotional state.Once there, I could decide what I wanted to
do.Some years I decorated like crazy
and went to lots of parties.Some years
I did not decorate at all and stayed home.The constant thread though was being aware of how I felt and doing what
I needed to do.
was hard to learn because I discovered that not everyone appreciated this.I was expected to do what was always
done.I am out of favor with certain
family members for not attending the annual dinner at a local restaurant.They think I don’t come because I don’t like
them and judge them.The real reason is
they are all actively drinking/drugging and I am very uncomfortable in this
environment.You’d think I could just
white knuckle it and go for the day but I’ve decided that after many years of
“trying” that I just did not want to.I
told them I couldn’t come because I’m honoring my recovery, but they don’t
understand.To be honest, it’s a relief
not to have to be around that any longer.This was a process and one that I had to learn and be able to be
comfortable with my decision.
created new traditions, ones that honor the new me.I’ve changed so much since that first sober
Christmas and each year I’ve added/subtracted “traditions”.One of the most enduring and endearing
changes I’ve made is going to a Saturday matinee of the Nutcracker with my
husband.It is so joyful to see all the
children dressed up and excited.We
splurge on good seats, wear our fancy outfits and then go out for an early
dinner.In the beginning, he was a good
sport and just came along, but now he’s grown to love it as well and it’s
something we really look forward to.
tradition is I’ve stopped giving/receiving gifts with the exception of a few
close friends.This took so much
pressure off me, financially and emotionally.Again, my request to do this was initially met with resistance and
judgment but now it’s normal and I think we are all a bit relieved.
do love to give and send cards so I keep this tradition.I also like to bring out certain items that
make me happy.I have the cheesiest
fiber optic Christmas tree, one I bought as a sort of joke about ten years ago
and it has become one of my most favorite pieces.It gives me so much joy!I also have many lovely ornaments from years
of Christmas exchanges on the old WFS/AOL message board and I always bring those
also make sure to do the basics: get
plenty of rest, eat right, exercise and continue my daily practice of prayer
and meditation.I know time is short,
but I MAKE THE TIME.I get up earlier or
do them in between during the day; the key is to do these things.It’s the foundation on which I build my
day.I do it daily all year long; why
would I not do it now, during one of the more stressful times?It keeps me sane.
there you have it.The basics.A good recipe for success.It’s simple and it works.
To sum it up:
¦Don’t drink no
¦Use your tools to
keep yourself healthy on all levels –mentally, emotionally, physically and
¦Learn how to say
traditions for yourself.
¦Know what you want
and don’t be afraid to express it.
¦Be grateful for
your New Life.
last one, gratitude, is the biggest gift you can give yourself.Indulge yourself!Happy Holidays!Onward! ”dask”
December 2011, Sobering Thoughts Newsletter.]
holidays often give you the desire to drink?Whether you want to celebrate or drink out of frustration, many special
occasions have similar triggers.
The word holiday
is defined as a day set aside by law or custom, usually in commemoration of
some event.I consider holidays to
include not only Christmas and the 4th of July but also such events
as birthdays and weddings.
following are my best tips for maintaining your sobriety during those first few
biggest tip I can give you is to focus on yourself and your recovery.That may sound overly simple but it
works!Read inspiring books, go to more
meetings, give yourself treats such as getting a massage or buying something
special.Talk to sober friends about the
upcoming event you are worried about.Knowing that people are supporting you is comforting.
are paying attention to yourself and working on your recovery, you are less
likely to be influenced by external circumstances.If someone inadvertently hands you a glass of
champagne on New Year’s Eve, it is less likely you will be caught off
guard.This will make it easier for you
to firmly say “no thank you.”
are feeling especially vulnerable, don’t underestimate the value of advance
planning.Picture the worst scenario and
how you would handle it.Avoid
situations that trigger you.Buy and
bring something non-alcoholic that you like to drink.
what gives you pleasure and what time reasonably allows.This is a good opportunity to recognize your
needs and practice setting boundaries.For example, stress and overwhelm are my biggest triggers for wanting to
drink.I dislike cooking so I’ve given
up on giving dinner parties and baking 5 different kinds of cookies.I don’t barbecue my 4th of July
meat anymore; I buy it already grilled at the local market.
learned to say no to some invitations.Try to avoid too much explaining or feeling guilty.Whatever it takes for you to keep your
sobriety has to be your main priority!
the Number of Gifts You Give
very difficult for me because I felt obligated to get the right thing for
everyone.I don’t enjoy shopping in
stores so now I buy most of my gifts on-line.To save time, I buy gifts throughout the year when I happen to see
something that is just right for someone.This strategy also keeps me from experiencing a financial pinch at the
end of the year.
over the years, I have downgraded the number of gifts I give, and you know
what?!The people I exchange gifts with
experience the same sense of relief I do.I also make it clear to them that they don’t have to reciprocate if they
don’t feel like it.
Your Own Traditions
of giving gifts to cousins, we donate to our favorite charity and send a little
announcement to them telling them about it.They do the same and we get to learn about different organizations that
help people and animals.It feels good
to help others who are less fortunate than we are.
the artist in me wants to make handmade cards and I get great enjoyment out of
playing with paint and paper.But I don’t
like to cook, so Santa gets store bought cookies now!My family loves to laugh.We give gag gifts to each other just for the
humor.That seems to be more important
to them than the serious gifts now!
birthday, this year, I convinced my family not to buy me gifts.Instead I went shopping for a new coffee
table and I got what I really wanted!
Of Family Fuses
can bring out the best and the worst in each of us.If you feel strong enough to not engage in
reactive behavior, then get together with them.If not, then be honest with yourself and maybe postpone or change your
plans.There’s nothing wrong with taking
care of yourself during a challenging period in your sobriety.
I used to
disappear during cocktail hour to do my journal or have a cup of tea.At a certain stage in my sobriety, I just
couldn’t be around people who were drinking when I wanted to join them.
Give Up Your Healthy Habits
I used to
give up my exercise class during the holidays because I “didn’t have time.”Wrong choice!I got stressed and irritable.Now
I always make room for exercise and find other things to eliminate.
in food and sweets may seem like a righteous choice if you can’t drink, but
beware of the “hangover” you will experience.Low blood sugar may make your craving for a drink even stronger.If you have to overeat, choose food over sugar
morning coffee and journal time before everyone else gets up is very important
to me.It lets me review what happened
the day before, figure out what I need to work on, appreciate special moments
and experience new insights as I write.This
is a must for me to maintain my sanity amidst busy days.
is extremely helpful for me to release held tension, become calmer, and accept
what is.I must admit that it is more
difficult for me to embrace sitting on the pillow than writing in my journal.I tend to be much more of a “doer.”But when I feel too much tension building up,
I do sit because I know I will feel much better when I am through.
Personal, Inspiring Story
morning of my 9th sober Thanksgiving, my family was walking our dog
in the park and my husband suggested we each think of 3 things we were thankful
for (not including our family-that was a given!).
of my health and was thankful that I could attend Jazzercise classes.My Jazzercise teacher was no longer able to
teach due to an unusual health problem she was experiencing.I thought of my job and how I was thankful
that I could work at home.Then I
wracked my brain, trying to think of a third.What else was important in my life?Then it came to me, I was thankful that it was Thanksgiving and I wasn’t
thinking about wanting a drink.Wow, and
I really wasn’t thinking about it at all!
remember when my addictive self tried to convince me that having just a few
drinks at Christmas once a year couldn’t hurt.Fortunately, I refused to listen as I knew that those few drinks would
jumpstart the addictive monster machine inside me.
first few sober holidays, I was resentful of those who could drink--it wasn’t
fair!Whether it’s beer on the 4th
of July or champagne on New Year’s Eve, you’ll just have to trust me that these
triggers lose their intensity over time.Eventually, you will experience what I did, realizing that I no longer
desire alcohol on a holiday!
Can Learn to Enjoy Holidays
are a time to appreciate what you have, to reconnect with family and friends,
to affirm your spiritual roots, and to enjoy some time off for yourself
(another definition of holiday is a day set aside for leisure and recreation!).
church if it inspires you, take a long walk on the beach, find something to
laugh about.These are the things you
must search for in order to feel fulfilled without the need for alcohol.
of what you’ve already accomplished!You
can get through the next holiday too.With
time and preparation, it becomes just one more day without a drink.
the ideas I have shared with you help me to reduce stress and maintain my
sobriety during holidays.I hope that
these tips help you too!I know you can
do it!~Jeannie L. – California~