Gifts for Growth

“… within our Twelve Step fellowship, we’re surrounded by people who exemplify the rewards of change.” – In God’s Care

I was just sharing the other night with Mike, another life loving member of the Program, how grateful I am for the examples that the people and literature in the program are to me. This certainly is a new way of living, one I never learned in school or college. 

Not that I’m ungrateful for the teachings I received in educational institutions, at home, and in the school of hard knocks, but what I’ve learned in the Program has helped me find a wonderful purpose in life – something I never had before. I’m here to stay sober so I can be of maximum useful service to others, which can only happen if I work the Program, trust God and love myself. 

And you know what else is cool? I also learn from the people in the rooms who don’t work a Program, who say and do things contrary to our principles. From them I learn exactly what not to be and how to avoid becoming them, namely by doing the recovery work that they clearly are unwilling to do in order to live on a higher spiritual plane. Which means that, even to them, I can say “Thank You!” 

When I am able to practice the awareness required to shift my judgement of others into compassion, and then finally into gratitude, they too become gifts for growth, and … ILML! 

– JamieQ

Working the Program in our Romantic Relationship

“Surrender is not something we can do in our heads or control with willpower. But when we have the courage to surrender, we experience the release of a heavy emotional burden, followed by a deep healing and release. This process allows us to move forward, out of Dis-Ease and into happiness.” — Very adapted (lol) from The Language of Letting Go 

But what about surrendering romantic relationships? How do we know when to fight for them and when to surrender?  

Often, in romantic relationships, the behavior of one or both parters causes discomfort or frustration. From a program perspective, I’ll share with you my solution; one that’s helped me fight for, rebalance, heal and stay in a marriage for almost 21 years, with a love that grows stronger between us each day. 

The first thing I do is apply Rule 62 and ask myself “how big of a deal is this?” If I’m honest, often times it’s not. if this is the case I immediately let it go and act loving towards my wife. Problem solved. 

However, if it feels like it really is big deal, something that happens over and over and us tearing me apart, the next thing I do is write a mini-4th step on it to uncover, discover more about it, making sure I find my part, and identifying how I’d like to behave in the future. If I’m still upset, and don’t feel that I can take action to make it better on my own, then I call my sponsor.

In reviewing my 4th with him, we attempt to ascertain (1) if I’m overreacting (aka being a drama queen), (2) if my behavior is contributing to of the problem, (i.e. reacting and engaging instead of stepping away) and (3) if my partner is behaving in a way that I should not be subjecting myself (or my kids) to. 

Unless there is physical abuse involved, If the answer is 1 or 2, I must first change my behavior consistently for at least 30 day so that I stop contributing to the problem. And until I can do this for 30 days straight, I’m not allowed to blame them or focus on 3, as I am, at least in part, the cause of the problem. But after such time, if required, if 1 and 2 no longer apply, and if 3 is still going on, then I ask my sponsor to (a) help me discover appropriate boundaries, (b) come up with a way to explain them to my partner, and (c) detach from my partner (permanently if necessary) if they are unwilling to honor my boundaries, knowing God will put someone more healthy into my life. 

So surrender is really an action word. If we have hit our “hurting” bottom, and are brave enough to surrender through first cleaning up our side of the street and then detaching when necessary (even leaving the relationship if it doesn’t shift), while trusting that God has a better plan, we may be surprised at the results. 

One possibility is that this process may awaken our partner to the true level of our suffering, and they may choose to respect our boundaries (i.e. change) and stay in the relationship, making it so much better. Another possibility is that we may no longer stay with that person, but by detaching from an unhealthy relationship we’ve now made room for another, more wonderful, more loving, and more respectful person to share our lives with us. 

When I trust the surrender process, work the Program, detach with love, and choose to believe that my Higher Power has great things in store for me, I actively invite abundance and ILML! 

– JamieQ

Reaching out for Help

“Perhaps we think that asking for help is a sign of weakness. In reality, it is a sign of strength.” — Reaching for Personal Freedom 

Odd that asking for help could be considered a strength, right? But something happens to me when I pick up the phone and call my sponsor. In that moment of need, I feel safe, knowing he is always there for me. His strength is imparted to me, and it strengthens me. And, being a sponsor myself, I know that in exchange for the gift he is giving to me, I am giving him three in return. The first is the opportunity to get out of his head by helping me sort out what’s in mine. The second is that, as he channels source, his higher power’s words travel through him to me, spiritually strengthening him, as they do me. And finally, his self-esteem grows as my calling upon him recognizes that he is a man who who possesses true value; one who is willing to unselfishly sacrifice his time by  giving it to me in love and service. Yes, giving to others from our heart is awesome. But when I have the courage to ask for help from others who’s only motive is for me to be happy, joyous and free…. ILML! 

– JamieQ

Letting Go of What Ifs

“… change need not be so scary… My Higher Power May be inviting me to walk further down my spiritual path…” — Hope for Today 

I had the opportunity and privilege to talk with a friend this morning about some changes that may be occurring in his life. At first glance, they could be looked at with fear; fear that he may lose something and it could hurt. A part of my mind will worries about this all the time.

But “what ifing” is a painful exercise in fear, and keeps me out of the present, away from where peace, serenity and happiness lives. I’m not sure I’ll ever overcome fear of losing things I love or think I need, but by turning to my Higher Power when those feelings come up, I can walk through anything. When my mind wanders into the scary what ifs, by actively choosing to let go of them with the belief that my HP will bring me people and things that are even better for me, I can walk through the sadness of loss and into a place of peace, where new happiness awaits me. 

When I trust that my HP has my back, and everything that is happening is exactly as it should be in order for me to be more happy, more joyous, and more free… ILML! 

– JamieQ

What the St. Francis Prayer Means to Me

The 11th step prayer is my favorite. These are the words I hear when I say it…

God, use me to bring peace to others in the world. 

Today if I feel anger towards another, please let me bring love instead. 

And if I am hurt by someone, help me to not react but to instead remember that they are like me, imperfect, and that I don’t need to get angry or even or mean. 

If I start doubting myself or life in general, please let me hear your words “everything will be ok.” 

If I feel hopeless, remind me that there is always hope if only I reach out to you.

If I feel like darkness is closing in around me, turn on the sun for just a moment.  

If I feel sad, help me realize that it’s ok because joy is just around the corner. 

And today instead of trying to get others to make me feel better, give me the opportunity to comfort others and encourage me to be of service to them. 

And rather than trying to be heard and understood, which I so frequently do, let me be a little quieter today, listen better, and try to understand how it might feel if I were in their shoes. 

And remind me that the best way to feel loved is to go out there and love everyone else, and more importantly even, to let them know how much I love them. 

Because I now know in my heart that the best kind of reward comes from giving of myself to others. 

And that I am only ever truly forgiven of my wrongs and character defects, and am finally able to stop blaming myself, when I’m consciously able to consistently forgive others when they behave inappropriately.

God, I know this life doesn’t last forever and there are no guarantees how long I even get in this world. So let me live my life in a consistent state of Thank-You-Ness. In that way, my spirit of loving life will live on forever in this beautiful world. 

– JamieQ

Inspiring Daily Readers 

On Sunday evenings in Maui, I’m lucky enough to attend a DW meeting in a home for those of us who want to work the Al-Anon Program, both alcoholics and normies. We read out of one AA and one Al-Anon book, sharing on the readings and how they relate to our lives. Today I’ve decided to share with you some excerpts from each of the books we use at the meeting:

“If I don’t make big problems out of little ones, I can save myself much grief.” — One Day at a Time in Alanon

“We alcoholics are the biggest rationalizers in the world.” – As Bill Sees It, p. 128

“Today I am aware of many gifts and wonders because I am actively practicing gratitude. So I thank my Higher Power for little things as well as big ones.” — Courage to Change 

. . . and when we were wrong promptly admitted it… regardless of how it might turn out. — Daily Reflections

“By improving my conscious contact with God, I find that emotional balance and inner peace can be a part of my daily life.” — Hope for Today 

Double Winners meetings can’t be listed in directories or officially connected to either Program. But for me and some others, it’s really nice to have one Al-Anon meeting where I can admit my alcoholism as well as the effects that the alcoholism of others has had on my life. I’m grateful for A.A., Al-Anon andDouble  Winner meetings and… ILML! 

— JamieQ

The Higher Powered Voice

“… a voice deep within me told me to ask the “odd lady” to be my sponsor. I knew this voice was my Higher Power’s. “You’ve got to be kidding,” I said.” — Hope for Today 

That story reminds me of one of my own. One day I had a fight with my wife. I was really, really angry at something I can’t even remember. I went into the bathroom and was yelling. I looked up into the mirror and I, too, heard a voice deep within me. I knew for sure it wasnt me because it said, “I want you to go back out there, wrap your arms around your wife, put your head on her shoulder, then tell her you are sorry and that you love her.” I literally said out loud to the mirror “No way! Absolutely not! I am not going to do that!” This debate went back and forth a few times until I finally said, “Fine. You want me to do that? Ok. But you’ll see. It won’t make a difference!” So I did it — begrudgingly. And guess what happened? The anger melted. She held me tight. She said “Me too baby. I’m sorry. I love you.” And we ended up having a great night from there on. 

You may be saying “Come on? A God voice? Seriously! That’s absurd!” I don’t blame you. I would probably have said the same thing 20 years ago. But I know what I know. That night, and many times since, the voice that resonates at a higher energy, where feelings like love, peace, happiness and helpfulness exist, will speak to me. And when I listen for—and to—the words of my Higher Power… ILML! 

— JamieQ