My wish for you

If you are one of millions who see the Christmas season as a time of extreme emotional turmoil and you are one who somehow misses the joy and excitement everyone around you is celebrating, then may you find peace in knowing you are not alone.  Turn to the comforts of your AA  groups who understand; lean upon each other for the support necessary to survive another holiday episode.  We, as a family in recovery, find within the fellowship others who have walked this tightrope many times.  We have experienced the fine line associated with sociable interaction with “normal” holiday celebrants and the challenges of not stepping over that fine line into relapse.  The booze is flowing, caution is often thrown to the wind, we are tempted to have “just one”.  It need not happen.

Know your program, know your limits, be on firm ground with your HP, and finally, always have your contact numbers with you if you are anticipating a holiday social affair or work party including booze.  Don’t push it.  If you find yourself out of your comfort zones, don’t be afraid to run for the hills and the safety of an alcohol-free atmosphere.  It’s your sobriety and your life.  Nobody at that party will care as much about your sobriety as you do.

Well meaning friends and family have in the past chided me, “Aw, c’mon, you’ve been sober over 30 years, a glass of wine won’t hurt.  You’re not an alcoholic anymore.”

And that’s OK.  They don’t understand the nature of the beast.  But, I do.  I pray to never forget the heartbreak, the lying, the cheating, the self-loathing, the stealing, the pain and agony of the bottle. Even 36 years later, all that is just one drink away.  I am as close to a relapse as any one of you.  Whether we are celebrating 24 hours, 30 days, 1 year, or many years of sobriety, all of us are just one drink away from the misery we knew in our active addictions.

One of the demons of the Christmas season is the loneliness.  Don’t feed it.  Go against your feelings to isolate.  Avoid depression like the plague.  We all have different ways to cope with negativity.  Indulge yourself and a sober friend in a luxurious, expensive meal.  How about a winter cruise?  Shop for a new outfit for yourself.  One of my favorite head-cleaners is a hike in the forests nearby.  And, of course, meetings, meetings, meetings.  Helping and reaching out to other alcoholics is a sure cure for the holiday blues.

As we progress, we learn what to avoid.  One of my undeniable downers is the mall at Christmas.  The decorations, the laughing children, and Santa Claus invariably bring back memories which should stay buried.  Christmas music is another.  I limit myself to listening just a few days towards the end of the season.  We are all different in how we handle the rampant emotions.  You will find your remedy and you can stay sober.

In closing, this is my Christmas wish for you.  God bless you for finding the courage and desire to maintain sobriety in a crazy, screwed-up world.  We are not alone because we know there are millions just like us worldwide.  We are a brotherhood of God’s children who once lived broken lives.  We have been redeemed.  We have been made alive.  We are not perfect but, God knows, we are better than we used to be.  Your HP and mine loves us more than anything in the world.  That gift of love is the true magic of Christmas.  It was created to be shared.  Share your love, share your life. Value and protect your sobriety for it is indeed a treasure from God.  Merry Christmas.

 

 

 

 

IT’S AN INSIDE JOB

“World peace must develop from inner peace.  Peace is not just mere absence of violence.  Peace is, I think, the manifestation of human compassion.”

DALAI LAMA XIV

Recovery from alcoholism is often referred to around our meeting tables as an “inside job”.  Every time I hear this my mind immediately goes to the questioning of self, “how is my inside world?”

It would be absolutely hypocritical to allow others to think that my inner being is always peaceful.  It would be fatal to my sobriety to convince myself that all is well inside at all times.  I am human, the world is flawed, God is within and the three are involved in a battle for my soul.  It’s truly that simple.  I no longer have the idealism of a younger man who is on a crusade to change the world.  The crusade now is for soul to emerge victorious over ego and the world.

Escaping the ravages of alcoholism and living in the beauty of recovery has allowed my Higher Power whom I call Lord and Savior to work the miracle of saving grace, a grace that is unmerited and undeserved.  The anger is gone, the self-loathing is gone, the fear of life is gone.  That has been replaced by introspection, meditation, and reflection.  Through these disciplines, I believe, compassion is initiated.  When I experience the peace through soul searching and self forgiveness, as my HP has forgiven me, then I am more able to regard my brothers and sisters with active compassion.

It’s an inside job.  World peace starts with me.

HIS GIFT TO US, not in a manger

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Before a committee of well-intentioned religionists come to my front door with blazing torches and wood to stoke the fires around my stake, let me take the above statement to the next  level.

I also love the comfort of scriptures whether they be writings of Christianity, Islam, or Buddhism.  I celebrate the holy days of Christianity because that is my tradition.  I pray earnestly to the God of my understanding for guidance and instruction.  There is no need to incinerate me with your holier-than-thou rhetoric.  I get it.  If you are one of the torch bearers, then you are obviously incensed by a challenge to your belief system.

And that is a good thing.  THINK!  Your God (mine too) gave you at birth an essence which is intended as a spiritual guidance system, logic and reason.  Ok, call it the Holy Spirit if you must.  I’m fine with that.  However, everything we have accumulated in religious baggage since that moment is man-made and fallible.  Again, before you stick that torch to the wood, recognize that I am not calling that accumulation wrong or unreal.

Religion, when it upholds the value of all peoples everywhere in peaceful coexistence, is a wonderful thing.  Theology, when  it guides adherents to tolerance and acceptance of other beliefs, is  a desirable undertaking.  But, mankind somehow takes religion and theology into another universe with ‘thou shalts’ and ‘thou shalt nots’, with dogma, with creeds and opinions.

I know y’all hate it when a person who is heretical and faithless quotes your scriptures, but, I’ll do it anyway:

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

 Maybe Jesus was referring to the innocence of babes in their spirituality before religion and theology had an opportunity to corrupt them.  Oh, what do I know?  I’m just an old, uneducated codger who believes the world could be a spectacular place for everyone if religionists would focus on compassion and “peace on earth”.

Merry Christmas…….y’all

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RENEWAL

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Especially for those of us who belong to this club of recovering drinkers, involving ourselves in controversy carries a greater degree of risk than most of our friends and family.  In sobriety we become keenly aware of social injustice, of bigotry, and racism and we carry that concern into our daily lives sometimes with quite a negative effect upon our desire for ‘clean and serene’.

It’s a delicate balance we seek juggling a sense of civic responsibility with the peace we have found in our recovery program.  Sometimes, as in this election, we go overboard with the politicking.  After all, we are alcoholics.  We never did anything in moderation.

Whatever the outcome of our election might be, for most of us life will go on much as before.  We will work our jobs, pay our taxes, support our families, and give homage to our Higher Power.  It is, therefore, extremely crucial that we maintain our sense of priority.  For us, the humility described in the writings of Alcoholic Anonymous, “a clear recognition of what and who we really are, followed by a sincere attempt to become who we could be,” needs to become the focal point once again of our recovery.

Possibly a personal inventory and clean sweep is in order followed by a heart and mind renewal.