Monday, October 31, 2016

Reflections ~ ISOLATION

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Isolation

     The days were somber, stretching out there in a long line toward an eternal nowhere.  I reached into time and came up with haunting memories of waste and a squandering of myself.
     The emptiness of that time is with me always but overcoming it is part of my present life.
     Today I will cherish the fullness of my life and my divorcement from isolation.

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      Isolation was a big part of my drinking days.  Years ago, I didn’t want anyone to know how much I drank, so I would isolate and hide in order to be alone and drink.  Then I was diagnosed with bi-polar and told I could not drink.  I quit immediately and that lasted for two years.  Then I slipped back into it, isolating from everyone, especially my family.
      The silver lining I guess is that my kids never saw me drink.  The worst though is all that I missed out on in their lives so that I could stay home and drink - all the times I said “that’s okay honey - you take the kids and go – I’m not feeling up to it.”  I’ll never get those moments back.
      The biggest gift of my sobriety has been rejoining the world.  Rejoining friends.  Rejoining my family.  Coming out of hiding.  Those isolated moments were so very raw and desperate.  Anytime I think of drinking now, I remember that deep loneliness and rejoice that sobriety means I never have to go back there.  Cindy
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      Today seems like an ideal time for reflection.  I sit here alone on a beautiful, peaceful morning.  Summer is slipping away and time here in the country is drawing to a close as we prepare for a permanent move back to the city.  Another chapter in our lives is reaching conclusion.  The page is slowly turning.
      So much has happened since I put down the last glass of wine.  I don’t expect anyone close to me can really understand the impact this, what-seems-like-simple act, has had on my life.  And it honestly matters very little now.  What truly matters is that I know I am conscious and aware of it.  For one thing, my journal entries are no longer focused on my inability to stop the madness of dependence.  No more pages and pages of self-loathing, shame and regret.
      So many events have taken place in these past 18+ months of sobriety.  Events that would have sent me off the deep end had I still been under the delusion brought on by my fervent ingestion of a toxic substance.  In all honesty, it has taken me 18 months to truly come to terms with the salient fact that I was, without a doubt, addicted to alcohol.  That the mere idea of putting it down for good was unbearable and unfathomable should have been “proof” enough of the reality of my addiction.  Only through seeing it with a clear mind have I been able to see the depth of my delusion.
      For decades, I struggled to find equanimity.  I sought it in prayer, in meditation, urges to change others’ behaviors, teaching what I myself was reluctant to learn and accept.  Every time I came across a subject I could see was of value, I sought to impart it to others before applying it to my own life and struggles.  There was always someone other than me who could benefit from wisdom, I thought.  So I shared and I recommended books before I took the trouble to read them myself.  I compiled lists and accumulated inspirational quotes.  I meditated with the intention of teaching the benefits of mindfulness to those who I thought needed it more than I did.  Always the teacher; never the student!
      I could look at this now as hubris on my part.  Complete arrogance and superiority.  However, I choose to see it as unconsciousness.  I am humbled by my own inability to see clearly.  I am humbled by the sheer power of an addiction that reduced me to blindness.
 
·         Would I be the same today if I hadn’t stopped drinking?
·         Would age alone bring clarity and insight? 

      I will never truly know the answer to those questions.  Nor does it matter anymore.  I am grateful to have been granted the chance to experience sobriety before it became too late.  I now have first-hand knowledge of what it means to be “grateful for sobriety”.  I am beholden to all WFS sisters who carved out a path and in whose footsteps I am privileged to follow.  “Maxine”
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      This is such an interesting reflection for me.  I think it depends on my definition of isolation at the time of writing.  I never really thought I isolated, but as I gain time and perspective in sobriety, I can see that I did.  When I was drinking I mostly drank at home, alone.  I did that because I was afraid to have people see me drunk, because it was less expensive than going out, and because I was afraid to drive after drinking.  I would drink wine when I got home from work, and continue to drink all night long.  Is that isolation?  Was I hiding?  Yes, probably.
      The day after, if I didn’t have to work, always found me at home, alone, shades pulled down, phone unplugged.  I was definitely isolating, but I never thought of it that way.  I was sick, after all.  I was taking care of myself.  The lies we tell ourselves!
      For most of my life I have been an extrovert.  I loved being out, around people.  I was very social and rarely missed an opportunity to get together with friends or family.  On most of these occasions I did not drink, as I didn’t trust myself.  The exception was parties, where I’d let myself go, because that’s what one did at parties, right?  I always enjoyed the morning after phone calls reliving the night, and filling in the blanks.  Everyone I knew at these parties drank to excess so I never felt any shame.
      Now that I have been sober over 15 years, I am less of an extrovert.  I no longer go to parties; I have no desire to do that anymore.  I am not very tolerant of drunken people making small talk, but even a sober party holds little interest for me.
      In the last few years I have learned how to be alone –really be alone, not just a day here or there.  In the beginning it wasn’t by choice and it made me very uncomfortable.  Moving to a new state, leaving friends, family and work behind, I had a lot of time to pass, mostly by myself.  My husband found a job three weeks after we moved that took him away 3-4 days/nights a week.  I was frantic at first.  What will I do?  Who will I hang out with?  I’m all alone!  I was lonely and miserable and wondered if I’d made a mistake moving so far away from everyone I knew and loved.
      Looking back on that first sad, lonely year I now see it as a gift.  I learned how to be comfortable in my own skin.  I dug deeper into my inner work and discovered more about myself.  That onion continued to peel and I found I wasn’t so afraid to see what it had to offer me.  I became so comfortable with myself and my alone time that I didn’t care, or need to venture out for entertainment.  Was this isolation?  Maybe, but it also felt therapeutic.
      Now, three years later I’ve developed a bit more balance.  I’m working again and doing what I love.  I’ve developed a routine and fill my days doing things that nourish me.  I used to live for my “deb days”.  Now every day is a deb day!  I work, I write, I play, I go to the gym, I read, I see friends, I volunteer.  I am alone much of the time when I am not working and I love it.  I am not hiding, rather I have discovered I am enough and I don’t need others or other things to fill that empty, aching hole I used to have.
      That hole has been filled with so many things over the years:  sex, drugs, alcohol, relationships, shopping, eating, exercise, anything that took me outside of myself and numbed me.
      Now I like to be inside myself.  Full.  Content.  It’s a good place to be.  It took a long time to get here and I will do what it takes to stay in this place.  It doesn’t come easy, but it’s so worth the effort.  Is it isolation?  I don’t think so.  I think it’s freedom.  Find yours.  It begins with quitting drinking.  All those years ago who knew where it would lead?  It’s better than I could have possibly imagined.  Onward!  Deb from Cornville, AZ
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     Sobriety sometimes means isolation is necessary.  It can be tough but is part of growing.  We are creating a new life which doesn’t happen overnight.  Our drinking isolated us in ways we needed.  It was to be someone else, not our authentic self.  It was part of us even though we thought it made us different and happy.  It’s part of the WFS program to change your life.
      You must as well emerge from isolation and engage in life.  That is a key to opening up more possibilities.  Don’t stay stuck too long – more life is ahead.  Life has many changes.  Help is hard to ask for sometimes when needing to be down but always know you have a program to support you.  You are a 4C woman.  CandyO
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© WFS Inc. * Women for Sobriety, Inc., PO Box 618, Quakertown PA 18951
Email: contact@womenforsobriety.org  *  Ph: 215-536-8026  *  Fax: 215-538-9026
Daily Inspirations on Twitter: @WFS4C  *  Check out the WFS Blog: http://wfsorg.blogspot.com
DONATE NOW ~ Your Donations Help Support WFS’s Services ~ Thank you!

Monday's Message ~ Statement #11


Enthusiasm

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“Unlike stress, enthusiasm has a high energy frequency and so it resonates with the creative power of the universe.  This is why Ralph Waldo Emerson said that, ‘Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.’  The word enthusiasm comes from ancient Greek—en and theos, meaning God.  And the related word enthousiazein means ‘to be possessed by a god.’  With enthusiasm you find that you don’t have to do it all by yourself.  In fact, there is nothing of significance that you can do by yourself.  Sustained enthusiasm brings into existence a wave of creative energy, and all you have to do is then ‘ride the wave.’”  -Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to your Life’s Purpose

“Enthusiasm adds fire to life and it provides the force for accomplishment of all things, most especially good relationships with other persons.”  -Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph.D., WFS Program Booklet

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Statement #11, “Enthusiasm is my daily exercise.”  I treasure all moments of my new life.
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+ Karen’s Perspective +
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        Statement #11 is the most spiritual of all of the Statements for me.  Have you ever been around someone who lifted up you up or gave off an incredible energy that left you feeling invigorated?  The most passionate and love-filled people in the world do this without even realizing that this is what they are doing.
        Taking the word enthusiasm in the broken down form of “en” and “theos” I am able to use Statement #11 in a fresh context and honestly treasure this New Life.  When drinking, all I was looking for was excitement, enthusiasm, or the life of the party.  Knowing this about myself, I needed instead to embrace balance and contentment while leaving drama and upheaval behind.
        Quitting drinking was the end of self-destruction and the beginning of a new existence, a new expansive and most beautiful life.  Though I felt anything but enthusiastic at that point, the clarity that sobriety brought to mind opened the portal for a foundation of spiritual existence to take shape.  An example of this universally creative power is the writing that I have done which resulted in 3 books so far with one more in the future.  (Which solely benefits WFS.)  Numerous people have asked how I am able to write, to construct meaningful page after page and the only response I can explain is that …I don’t know ….yet I am grateful for the beautiful energy.  I encourage everyone to examine how it is that you define/experience enthusiasm and if you deem it lacking, as Jean remarks in our Program Booklet; “Find something to be enthusiastic about in everything.  It is there just for the looking.”
        I feel contentment as I treasure my New Life.  Hugzzz, Karen
 
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+  Member Insights  +
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        I find myself enthusiastic when I feel I’ve accomplished a project, even if it’s cleaning out a closet.  Then there are others times when I breathe in the crisp air of autumn or spring and I feel energized and content.  That is when I realize that Statement #11 has given me insight into the awareness of enthusiasm that I didn’t possess before WFS.
        I am so grateful for being able to live in the moment, to appreciate the joy of a task completed rather than bemoaning that it has to be done.  I have learned over the years to try approaching a task with the positive result in mind.  Realistically, this doesn’t always work but I now know myself well enough to know that I will be excited, happy, fulfilled and all those other good feelings, when it is done.  Now that is something to look forward to and appreciate.
        Many women in the WFS group have begun new adventures and their enthusiasm is contagious.  I feel so happy for them and they encourage others to consider what is out there for them to become enthusiastic about.
·         What are the moments you treasure?
·         How has your outlook changed for you in sobriety?
·         What brings you joy or contentment?
-WFS Member
 
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© WFS Inc. * Women for Sobriety, Inc., PO Box 618, Quakertown PA 18951
Email: contact@womenforsobriety.org  *  Ph: 215-536-8026  *  Fax: 215-538-9026
Daily Inspirations on Twitter: @WFS4C  *  Check out the WFS Blog: http://wfsorg.blogspot.com
DONATE NOW ~ Your Donations Help Support WFS’s Services ~ Thank you!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Monday's Message ~ Statement #9


Release the Past

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“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 

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Statement #9, “The past is gone forever.”
No longer will I be victimized by the past.  I am a new person.
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+ Karen’s Perspective +
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        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
 
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+  Member Insights  +
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        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
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© WFS Inc. * Women for Sobriety, Inc., PO Box 618, Quakertown PA 18951
Email: contact@womenforsobriety.org  *  Ph: 215-536-8026  *  Fax: 215-538-9026
Daily Inspirations on Twitter: @WFS4C  *  Check out the WFS Blog: http://wfsorg.blogspot.com
DONATE NOW ~ Your Donations Help Support WFS’s Services ~ Thank you!

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 (http://www.recoveryanswers.org/). 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 bhoeppner@mgh.harvard.edu.

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

All the best,
Bettina
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

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 “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

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Statement #5, “I am what I think.”  I am a capable, competent, caring, compassionate woman.
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+ Karen’s Perspective +
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        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 
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+  Member Insights  +
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        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
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© WFS Inc. * Women for Sobriety, Inc., PO Box 618, Quakertown PA 18951
Email: contact@womenforsobriety.org  *  Ph: 215-536-8026  *  Fax: 215-538-9026
Daily Inspirations on Twitter: @WFS4C  *  Check out the WFS Blog: http://wfsorg.blogspot.com 
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
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