Sept. 19, 2021 – Readings in Recovery: Step by Step

Step by Step

Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021

“The mental twists that led up to my drinking began many years before I ever took a drink for I am one of those whose history proves conclusively that my drinking was ‘a symptom of a deeper trouble.’

‘Through my efforts to get down to ’causes and conditions,’ I stand convinced that my  emotional illness has been present from my earliest recollection. I never did react normally to any emotional situation.” – Alcoholics Anonymous, 3rd Edition, 1976, “They Lost Nearly All,” Ch 12 (“Freedom From Bondage”), p 544.

Today, knowing that my emotional and spiritual sickness preceded my alcoholism, I also know that abstaining from drinking is not enough in my recovery. Drinking was, for me, but a symptom of a “deeper trouble,” and AA has to be worked and climbed step by step to overcome that symptom. Without tending to the “deeper trouble,” my recovery will be less sober and more like a dry drunk. Whatever my pre-drinking “deeper trouble” was – fear, anger, shame, loneliness, low or inflated self-esteem, resentment, depression or a diagnosed psychiatric condition – I need to confront and either come to terms with it or let it go. Then, and only then, can I move on with the business of sobriety and serenity. And our common journey continues. Step by step. – Chris M., 2021

Sept. 18, 2021 – Readings in Recovery: Step by Step

Step by Step

Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021

“I’ve been benefited from a dictionary definition I found that reads: ‘rationalization is giving a socially acceptable reason for socially unacceptable behavior, and socially unacceptable behavior is a form of insanity’.” – Alcoholics Anonymous, 3rd Edition, 1976, “They Lost Nearly All,” Ch 12 (“Freedom From Bondage”), p 551.

Todaygetting drunk every night and waking every morning to shakes, dry heaves and a shot of whiskey instead a cup of coffee can’t be rationalized with, “Everyone drinks.” Not everyone gets drunk every day or has blackouts, and giving a “socially acceptable reason” for an unacceptable behavior is part of the insanity of alcoholism. And alcoholic drinking is not a socially accepted behavior. Today, in my recovery, the definition of insanity is expanded beyond continuing behavior that always leads to the same outcome to include rationalizing my unacceptable conduct with an acceptable reason. May it serve me well. And our common journey continues. Step by step. – Chris M., 2021

Sept. 17, 2021 – Readings in Recovery: Step by Step

Step by Step
Friday, Sept. 17, 2021

Todayfirst things first, one thing at a time, one step at a time, one feeling at a time if one day at a time is too daunting a challenge. Today, I will quiet the noise in my mind for the Program’s wisdom to take me from the character defects that degrade sobriety into dry drunkenness – if not a wet one. If and when the responsibilities to sobriety seem too heavy, I will look to the Steps and live in the answer of sobriety instead of the problem of trying not to drink. And, in the end, the problem is not living with the struggle not to relapse: the answer is living in the Program. Today, I have the choice to live in sobriety instead of struggling to fight off what threatens it. Today, I can live in the answer, not the problem. And our common journey continues. Step by step. – Chris M., 2021

Sept. 16, 2021 – Readings in Recovery: Step by Step

Step by Step
Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021

“In two ways I may be a little different from other alcoholics. First, we all hear at AA meetings about those who have lost everything, those who have been in jail, those who have been in prison, those who have lost their families, those who have lost their income. I never lost any of it. I never was on skid row. I made more money the last year of my drinking than I ever made before in my whole life. My wife never hinted that she would leave me. Everything that I touched from grammar school on was successful. I was president of my grammar school student body. I was president of all of my classes in high school and in my last year I was president of that student body. I was president of each class in the University, and president of that student body. I was voted the man most likely to succeed. The same thing occurred in medical school. I belong to more medical societies and honor societies than men 10 to 20 years my senior.

‘Mine was the skid row of success. The physical skid row in any city is miserable. The skid row of success is just as miserable.'” – Alcoholics Anonymous, 3rd Edition, 1976, “They Stopped in Time,” Ch 6 (“Physician, Heal Thyself!”), p 345.

Today, no pride in successes or acquisitions of things in my life – for they are no refuge from alcoholism. Skid row is just as miserable in my own home as it is under a bridge or in a homeless shelter. Responsibility comes with success and material gain as it does with irresponsible choices, and alcoholic drinking is not the responsible response to life when it is good any more than when it is bad. If I choose to “reward” my successes and material gains with irresponsible drinking, I risk turning my living room into skid row. Today, I accept responsibility to my sobriety just as I am responsible to the consequences of my drinking. What I have today is not promised me tomorrow. And our common journey continues. Step by step. – Chris M., 2021

Sept. 15, 2021 – Readings in Recovery: Step by Step

Step by Step
Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021

” …I can only say that whatever growth or understanding has come to me, I have no wish to graduate. Very rarely do I miss the meetings of my neighborhood AA group, and my average has never been less than two meetings a week. I have served on only one committee in the past nine years,  for I feel that I had my chance the first few years and that newer members should fill the jobs. They are far more alert and progressive than we floundering fathers were, and the future of our fellowship is in their hands.”
 – Alcoholics Anonymous, 3rd Edition, 1976, “Alcoholics Anonymous Number Three,” Ch 6 (“The Vicious Cycle”), pp 249-50.

Today, words that establish the Program as a lifelong commitment and call to service. If I remain reluctant for whatever reason to propel myself into visible service, my own continued sobriety and emotional and spiritual growth can serve the newcomer by witnessing my own example that the Program works. And, hopefully, with continued growth and nurturing, I may someday be able – even eager – to serve in a visible capacity such as a speaker, moderator at a meeting or giving a ride to a meeting to someone who needs it. Today, I strengthen my sobriety with more than gratitude by respecting it because, in the end, my own recovery and that of everyone else may well determine “the future of our fellowship.” And our common journey continues. Step by step. – Chris M., 2021

Sept. 14, 2021 – Readings in Recovery: Step by Step

Step by Step
Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021

“Why sit with a long face in places where there is drinking, sighing about the good old days? If it is a happy occasion, try to increase the pleasure of those there; if a business occasion, go and attend to your business enthusiastically. If you are with a person who wants to eat in a bar, by all means go along. Let your friends know they are not to change their habits on your account. …While you were drinking, you were withdrawing from life little by little. Now you are getting back into the social life of this world. Don’t start to withdraw again just because your friends drink liquor.”
 – Alcoholics Anonymous, 3rd Edition, 1976, Ch 7 (“Working With Others”), p 102.

Today, what “good old days” of my drinking? If they were so good, why am I in recovery? And because I am in recovery, do I skirt responsibility for my alcoholism by expecting or asking others to accommodate me by not having alcohol in their houses or serve it when I’m there? Do I expect a friend to take me to a new restaurant if the one we frequented serves liquor? And if others don’t alter their habits to accommodate me, do I repeat what I did as my drinking progressed by steadily withdrawing? Today, I begin taking responsibility for my own addiction and recovery by making changes from within and not expecting them from outside. By failing to do that, I am doing little else than living in the problem of struggling not to drink instead of the answer of sobriety. And our common journey continues. Step by step. – Chris M., 2021

Sept. 13, 2021 – Readings in Recovery: Step by Step

Step by Step
Monday, Sept. 13, 2021

“Above all, I was suffering inner pain because my performance and my accomplishments in life failed to live up to my own expectations of myself. I had to anesthetize that pain with alcohol. Of course, the more I drank, the more unrealistic my expectations became and the poorer my performance, and the gap widened. So the need to drink grew still greater.”
 – Alcoholics Anonymous, 3rd Edition, 1976, “They Lost Nearly All,” Ch 13 (“AA Taught Him to Handle Sobriety”), p 557.

Today, understand the reasons that I concocted to drink were and are little more than excuses and, more, that maybe I should work a Program that keeps me sober instead of keeping me from drinking. It’s a fine line between struggling to keep from drinking and working to stay sober: by working only for the purpose not to drink, I probably am not applying the Program’s Steps and Principles to get sober. If so, I am not coming to terms with the “reasons” that I “had” to drink. And, by neglecting my psychological and spiritual sickness, I run the risk of losing or simply giving up the battle to keep from drinking. In the end, AA is intended to help us handle our living problems and not our drinking problem. And our common journey continues. Step by step. – Chris M., 2021

Sept. 12, 2021 – Readings in Recovery: Step by Step

Step by Step
Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021

Today, I will not feed anger to poison my actions and words for which, inevitably, I will have to answer. If I forget I have only today and reach back into yesterday and resurrect some anger or resentment, justified or not, I will Let Go and Let God because I don’t WANT to add any excess baggage and I DON’T want to empower an emotion that might derail me if I don’t control IT. If I get angry today, I will walk away from the source until I can think with reason and logic, without emotion. And if I get the chance to talk to a person who has made me angry, I will confine my words to how I feel instead of, “YOU made me feel …,” “YOU shouldn’t have …” and “YOU had no right …” In that context, I am risking taking another person’s Fourth, and the job as moral gatekeeper has been taken by a Power greater and stronger than myself. As a drinking alcoholic, I had no control and let my anger gain the upper hand; today, as a recovering alcoholic, I have the choice to NOT allow anger to guide my words and thought. Today, I choose to weaken any potentially lethal emotion by NOT feeding it. And our common journey continues. Step by step. – Chris M., 2021

Sept. 11, 2021 – Readings in Recovery: Step by Step

Step by Step
Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021

“We must learn to walk before we can run. That’s why we have these slogans. I use that ‘Easy Does It’ every day, to slow me down a little. I have to watch myself all the time. So I don’t just take the inventory at night – I take it continually throughout the day. Before I step out and do anything, I stop and check it over first, and then let my conscience be my guide.

‘For me, AA has become a way of life.” – Alcoholics Anonymous, 3rd Edition, 1976, “They Lost Nearly All,” Ch 8 (“Desperation Drinking”), p 516.

Today, talking the talk isn’t enough, nor is walking the walk. Both have to be in my soul, spirit, character and mind if I have any chance of a meaningful, serene, peaceful and quality recovery. Nor is the quality of my recovery truly measured when I am dry and life is generally good. It is measured when life situations arise that require practical but diligent application of the Steps. Even if I emerge from those situations sober but my reaction and response to those situations do not meet the Program’s standards, I need another 10th Step. Today, I may talk the talk and walk the walk, but if recovery has not become a way of life in all I say, do and feel, I start working again on talking the talk, walking the walk and feeling the feeling. And our common journey continues. Step by step. – Chris M., 2021

Sept. 10, 2021 – Readings in Recovery: Step by Step

Step by Step

Friday, Sept. 10, 2021

Today, if life in sobriety jolts me with a reality that in the end is truly hopeless, I will not yield to hopelessness and instead will reach for the hope – and the first word in hopelessness is hope. If the Program has impressed anything on me, it is that hope exists in all things and that hopelessness is empowered only if I bow to it. In hope, there is faith and promise that the hopeless will be overcome by hope; in hopelessness, there is loss of faith and inviting all those lethal feelings like fear, dread, self-pity and selfishness that, together, spell a slip or relapse. And either can send me back to that dark pit from which the Program guided me. From hopelessness, the power of hope can and will take me from that dark place – as long as I keep the Steps close to heart. Nothing, including the despair that life in sobriety will sometimes present, justifies my giving up all I have gained in recovery. And our common journey continues. Step by step. – Chris M., 2021