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I've gone through a lot of "firsts" in sobriety; I've had to walk through many events that before would've been my excuses to drink or use. Last night I received news of the death of someone from my home group. I immediately recognized I was having trouble accepting this fact. Early on in sobriety, my sponsor had me earmark p 417 in the Big Book; the Acceptance Prayer.

"And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation - some fact of my life - unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God's world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life's terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes."
--p 417 Alcoholics Anonymous

None of us know the details surrounding our friends death, but it was truly so comforting that I saw us all reach out towards one another today when we all were feeling such immense pain at the loss of a friend. These experiences and others which cause us pain are good measures of our spiritual strength and progress; I am learning each and every day that I really can face these seemingly insurmountable things and the biggest difference is I am no longer facing them alone.

My sponsor called me after I had shared the news with him and he said that even though this was my first loss I've faced in the rooms, it most certainly would not be the last. I don't know what the circumstances were surrounding his death, nor do I wish to start any rumors, but I've also realized that the people who go back out, who part from the fellowship and die before they've had a chance to return, are my greatest teachers. That the selfish thoughts of "better you than me" were natural and we do in fact learn the most from those that do not return.

I know that it is ok to feel this pain; I don't need to try to numb it out or hide anything; these are just feelings, and these too shall pass. Man, talk about progress. Today I will repeat "Thy Will Be Done" as many times as necessary and ask for the right thoughts or actions even if I don't understand the present circumstances. I don't have to understand them, but I do need to accept them. Once I am able to do that, I will know peace and serenity.

Here's to doing the next right thing.

Just do the next right thing....

Man, when it rains, it pours! Trying to clean up my life is definitely a challenging task, or at least it seems to be the case today. All I keep telling myself is just do the next right thing, and God will take care of me. I finally got through my court date; 12 months probation and random drug tests and treatments of their discretion. My probation officer called me this morning and says she's going to be doing my home inspection this afternoon, and tomorrow I have to drive down to Salt Lake to meet with her to discuss the terms of my supervision. I know I have nothing to hide, but I'm still extremely nervous about it all. I suppose that's normal?

After meeting a friend for coffee this morning, I drive back home and as soon as I pull in the driveway, I suddenly get extremely light headed and start shaking uncontrollably. I look in the mirror and I'm sheet white. I immediately tested my blood sugar and ate a piece of french toast, but my blood sugar was normal and eating didn't really help. So I set my alarm for 1:30 and then decide to lay down and see if taking a nap would help. After just falling asleep, my phone rings, with a number I'm not familiar with. Thinking it could be my probation officer, I answer it, and it's a private investigator looking for me! He said he has a court summons for me; fortunately he said it's a civil matter and not a criminal one, and that it's likely a bill that's just gone into collections. So we're meeting tomorrow (hopefully) so he can give me that paper and then I can try to get it figured out.

Lastly, the lady whom I'm painting a picture for texts me and tells me she needs it by Monday, as in 5 days from now. I've been working on it in small chunks as my health will allow, and I didn't know I was working on a time frame here. But my savings account will welcome that money for sure. Slowly starting to feel the pressure, when all I'm trying to do is the next right thing. That's all I can do, right?

Is this what sobriety is like for everyone? I know in comparison to where I could be, these are good problems to have, and that all I can do is turn it over to God and just continue to do the next right thing, but I'm not going to lie, this all feels extremely overwhelming!
"When I was 8 or 9 years old, life suddenly became very difficult. Feelings began to emerge that I did not understand. Depression crept into my life as I started to feel alone, even in crowded rooms. In fact, life didn't make much sense to me at all. It's hard to say what sparked all of this, to pinpoint one fact or event that changed everything forever. The fact of the matter was, I was miserable from early on in my life.
It was all very confusing. I remember isolating on the playground, watching all the other children laughing and playing and smiling, and not feeling like I could relate at all. I felt different. I didn't feel as if I was one of them. Somehow, I thought, I didn't fit in."

This was the reading we based our shares off of in today's meeting. I was called on to share, and suddenly I found myself opening up in ways I hadn't anticipated. I went well past my 3 minutes, and still didn't get to share everything I wanted to or was feeling inside. So this is where I will share the rest.

I can remember second through 5th grade in elementary school. I'm not sure why I don't remember our house in Taylor, Michigan very well. I remember bits and pieces and even less of our house and life in Gibralter, MI. Unlike the story above, however, I do have a distinct starting place in mind where in my eyes, my life changed forever. I preface this by saying that although I do not remember the details, nor do I remember what happened that required us to uproot our lives in the middle of the night, I do remember my mom coming to wake my sister and myself up in the middle of the night. She only told us that we had to leave. When I asked her when we were coming back, she looked at me and said, "We're not, Tinks". As I sat in the back of my dad's Thunderbird as we pulled out of the driveway, I wondered if she was right. Would I never see my home again? (I never did) Could every part of my life simply be uprooted that easily? (I've learned time and time again since then that yes, your life can be pulled away from you over night.) I remember looking at my home for the very last time as we pulled out of the driveway and drove away to our "new life".

Since I don't remember too much about our next home, I'll skip that part (for now). In between finding a house in Taylor and our sudden upheaval overnight, we lived in a motel. My mother did her best to make it a game for us, so we wouldn't be scared. It must have been during the summer, as my sister and I didn't attend school the whole time we stayed in the motel. Every day my mom and dad would get up, we'd clean up the motel room and then my dad would go to work and my mom would load us into a car and we'd go house hunting. I remember looking at a few places with mom, two places in particular. One was a two story house. I was SO excited; the idea of living in a house with a staircase was exactly like something you would only see in the movies! I envisioned Christmas mornings; my sister and I running down the stairs to be greeted by our parents standing in front of a well-dressed Christmas tree with mountains of brightly colored and perfectly wrapped Christmas presents waiting for each of us.Looking up at my parents as I unwrapped my gifts and seeing the joy and love on their faces as they watched my sister and I open box after box of toys and clothes. I knew that this was the perfect house for my family, that if we moved in here, things could go back to how they used to be. Nope.

The second place I remember going to look at with my family was actually after we were already living in Taylor, and we were about to make our big move (although I didn't know it at the time) to Romulus, MI. I can only look at that double-wide trailer as a place of sadness now; too many horrible memories, fights, tears shed, my pleads to God that I thought had gone unanswered (I know differently now). Each day as my sister and I would walk home from the bus stop, our steps would get slower and slower and slower as we approached our home. Even worse, some days mom would be waiting for us at the end of the driveway. Funny, looking back now, I can see I always started to gauge how the evening was going to go based on the location of my mother. If she was on the porch having a cigarette and talking on the phone or if someone was there visiting her, we knew we were safe for a couple of hours. If we started walking home and saw that her car was not in the driveway, we would flat-out run to the house; we wanted to take advantage of the time she wasn't there and we did not want to waste a minute of it!

Ok, that was a bit of a tangent. I'll redirect myself so the rest of this entry pertains more to the passage up top. Everyone thought I was so weird; I LOVED school...every single part of it. When reading books about sleep away camps or schools that the kids stayed at, I was so envious, and would make believe that my bedroom was part of the campus and that I only took a bus to school because the campus was so large. From as early as second grade I can remember wishing for another life. Any life, as long as it was not my own. If I saw a TV show that had a big, loving family I would pretend what it would be like to belong to that family. What my life would be like if I could grow up with them. I'm not sure when I became aware of it, but I would soon realize that not everyone else grew up like this. And the moment I realized this, I became different from my peers. I was on the outside looking in, and without anyone telling me, I knew my home life was something I had to keep secret. If anyone knew, they would know what a terrible child I was. They would feel sorry for my parents for having to deal with me, wouldn't blame my mom for beating me and my sister almost every night. After all, if you had me for a child wouldn't you have done the same?

I never was able to identify that the feelings I had inside of me were ones of longing, jealousy, hurt, frustration...why did all the other kids have such an easy life? No one else counted the hours until it was time for them to return to school. No one else had to deal with my life...why? I didn't understand that I was feeling all this inside. All I knew was that I had to be great at school. Had to. It wasn't bad enough my sister and I would get yelled at if we brought home anything less than an A. But school was my safe place; if I didn't do well there, I felt as though I didn't have the right to be safe there. I had to earn my place. Of course, all of this manifested itself in various ways, but I ended up the social outcast. Made fun of very early on by my peers for being a "nerd, dork, freak, four eyes,poor kid, buck-toothed beaver"...you name it, the kids called me it. I took it, convinced that I was losing my special place at school. That slowly, just like at home, I was becoming a "bad kid" worthy of all this ridicule and punishment.

I was miserable from such a young age; but what I didn't realize was that all these pent up negative emotions inside of me was truly just a longing to fit in somewhere. I'm not sure where it was exactly I thought I belonged, but as early as second grade I knew it wasn't with this family. The isolation, lonliness, longing to be loved and valued by someone...I took all of that on as my own fault. If I could just "be a good kid", then my mom would love me. I would stop being the black sheep of the family.

I believe that that's why drugs and alcohol held such an appeal for me. From the minute I took my first drink or hit...feeling that welcoming warmth creep over me, it was the closest I'd ever felt to belonging somewhere. The people I was drinking or using with...they became my best friends. I didn't have to hide anything from them; they were just as messed up as I was. Soon, being high/drunk was the only way I felt comfort. I tried huffing, ODing on sleeping pills and allergy pills, pretty much any kind of drug you could think of as long as it would get me high. Alcohol produced the same effect. When I was drunk or high or "medicated", I could interact with others, try new things, not care what people thought about me. It was such a welcome feeling. I simply thought that this was how life was supposed to be. At least for me.

When I walked into the rooms, I looked around and immediately began sizing everyone up. I assumed because I was dishonest and still in active using, that so must be everyone else. This couldn't have been further from the truth. I went into the rooms to get my drinking and using "under control". What I found was a family and a program that would teach me how to live.

I'll close with this thought that I heard in today's meeting...something that really clicked with me and quite literally brought tears to my eyes. "I was the black sheep of my family, but when I walked into these rooms, I the rest of my flock".

Live and Let Live

I've been hiding my recovery from others around me; as if my addiction was something to be ashamed of. While I won't announce to the world that I am a recovering alcoholic and addict, I won't deny it either. If my experience, strength and hope can be of some purpose to another struggling alcoholic or addict, then I am happy to share it.

Today I am starting on my fourth step in my program. Prior to this I had heard others speak about it with fear, dishonesty, hesitation; simply put nobody wants to do this step. As I met with my sponsor this morning he assuaged many of my fears; fear of being judged, of it not being done right, over analyzing things, you know, the usual suspects. He reminded me that we talk daily, and have already gone over quite a bit of my history. So very few things, if any would pop up that he didn't already know about. I know enough now to not be so worried about judgement for any of the resentments that I may list out, but the goal for me today is to not worry about judgement of any kind, but to be as thorough and as honest as I can. As my sponsor put it, it's the very basis of "to thine own self be true".

I feel like things in this program are really starting to make sense to me. For the first time in a very long time, maybe in forever, I feel calm and at peace with how things are in my life right now. Even my "troubles" that are in my life seem completely surmountable; God is definitely alive and active in my life today. I was driving home from a meeting this morning (which is when the above photo was taken) and again found myself in awe of this world I'm living in. I had no idea how blinded I was to so many things around me while drinking and using, but slowly I'm beginning to believe that I can feel alive again, even without using any mind altering chemicals. Who knows what else I will begin to uncover as I continue my journey through the 12 steps; all I know is I am alive and hungry for more of this peace and serenity I feel within me today.

Today I am just so grateful that I was and continue to be willing to let things play out, even if I don't understand them. I never truly thought Jessica and I would be over. I thought I'd never get past the pain that accompanied me seeing her move on and start dating someone else; but I feel like maybe, just maybe if I keep doing my work and it's God's will, that we can begin to get our friendship back. It sure feels that way sometimes. I think she goes back and forth about how she feels about it, but that's not for me to decide, and whatever she decides I have to respect.

I think that's been the hardest part of my recovery so far; acceptance and letting go of control. It's the essence of the 3rd step, but it's been by far the biggest obstacle I constantly find myself struggling over. What am I going to do to participate in my recovery today? Consciously decide to continue practicing acceptance and turning it over to God; when I do that, my life gets infinitely better. When I don't worry about controlling others or my environment or the situations around me, I find that I'm not plagued with fear or anger or discontent of any kind. When I start to feel these things, specifically aimed at a person, I need to remember "if they could do it differently then they would do it differently". I am not perfect and neither are others around me; and when I'm angry or judgmental towards others, it's typically just a projection of one of my own fears.

My Higher Power created me for a purpose in life. I ask him to accept my honest efforts ton continue on my journey in the spiritual way of life. I call on Him for strength to know and seek His will. Thanks for letting me share.