Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sponsorship in Recovery

Sponsorship can mean so many things.  To me it means a mentor, someone who can show you the ropes, so to speak.  Someone who has been in similar situations and knows how you feel and has found a way of life that brings them peace and joy, and is willing to share how they found this way of life with you.

What a sponsor should not do, in my opinion, is demand anything!

A sponsor is someone who suggests, leads, and directs one on their spiritual path, in a general way.  The exact path cannot be orchestrated by a sponsor...influenced, yes, but not planned out in detail.

"Don't make goals out of the spiritual path. A goal implies time, working toward something in the future. But the spiritual path is about discovering what you already are. You are the goal. Now come to understand what that means and live it."  ~ Unknown author

What does sponsorship mean to you?  Have you experienced sponsors who have dictated your daily decisions?  How has this worked or not worked for you? 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Gratitude is Action Not Opinion

photo by Kate Ware

Saying I am grateful isn't enough for me these days...well, maybe on some days it is, but what is enough for me isn't always what is healthiest for me.

I've been taking more time to myself in quiet meditation, just observing my surroundings and noting the things I see, hear, and taste. It seems to keep my daydreaming and worrisome thoughts away. Keeps me focused on the here and now.

One day at a time becomes one moment at a time. And in those moments is where I become grateful without even trying to be. I have always had to try so hard to be positive and thankful. My nature is definitely that of a pessimist.

But when I stay in the moment with one thought at a time AND have no opinion about whether things are good or bad, I can't be negative...no opinions allowed, right? I allow myself to identify things as healthy or unhealthy, but not as good or bad.

After doing this for a few days now, I have come to realize that the majority of the moments in my life are fairly neutral anyway. It is my opinions about them that make them negative.

I guess in my case, I have to remove all my judgements about things before being able to take a walk on that wild, positive side. I guess when I don't judge things my true self is revealed and it shouts gratitude everytime!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Emotional Sobriety

Thank you for the response to my last email.  I have decided for now to continue posting here since I feel this is the best way to reach those individuals specifically in recovery or interested in recovery.

Today I am going to talk a little about emotional sobriety.  Emotional sobriety involves having peace of mind regardless of what is going on around you.  It involves maintaining a clear head, and trusting in the process of life - "living life on life's terms."  Accepting what you cannot change.  Having faith.  Taking a deep breath and not flipping out when things don't go your way or when you become fearful or worried.

photo source

Feelings are not facts.  Feeling a certain way does not mean that in reality things are going the way I think they are.  For example...

Last night I became extremely fearful of some things that were upsetting my daughter at her school.  I feared that she was being exposed to unfair and possible cruel acts by her teacher.  I feared that her emotional development was being compromised.  I feared that I wasn't doing a good job at protecting her from a teacher who doesn't know how to relate to kids in a positive, supportive manner.

I took a deep breath after listening to her concerns and went to a meeting.  Talked about it at the meeting and decided to bring my concerns to the school director the next day.  Sounds simple and mature and emotionally sound enough, doesn't it?

Well, what ended up happening is I got home and went to discuss my fears and how upset I was with my husband and the first thing he said that I didn't agree with launched me into a rage of blaming him for not supporting me, not seeing things my way, for not wanting her to take this class to begin with.

My fears escalated to not knowing what to do, not being able to handle this on my own, to going crazy with worry about the whole situation.  I ended up saying things to him that I regret and later had to make amends for my hateful words.  All based on fear.

The facts are my daughter is safe, my husband supports me, I am not a bad or neglectful mother, and I don't know for sure how this teacher really is.  I do know how she is making my daughter feel, however, my daughter's feelings may not be facts either.

Couple all this with the fact that I was physically ill all day with a migraine and dealing with my other daughter's science project challenges at ten o'clock at night (which had me already frustrated with my husband for not helping her while I was gone) and its no wonder I lost control of my emotions.

The bottom line is sometimes things like this just happen.  Sometimes we can't keep it together.  Sometimes we don't even know how stressed we are until we explode.  If I hadn't been sick earlier in the day, I would have had more "spiritual time" to myself and been better prepared to handle the stressors that evening.  If I would have know that my husband was going to use "tough love" on my procrastinating daughter by not helping her with her science project, I would have stayed home from my meeting. 

All of this makes me realize that my daughter's complaints about her teacher, while upsetting to her, and therefore to me, would have been easier to handle had I been more spiritually fit that day.

Today, I will spend extra time with my meditation books, I will get a nap in, I will take some extra quiet time to myself, I will write, and pray, and do all the things I normally do to prepare myself for the upcoming evening when everyone gets home.

Emotional sobriety for me includes recognizing that I am human and will make mistakes and forgiving myself for them.  It means that when I am sick, tired and lonely, I will be more suseptible to emotional binges like last night.

Sometimes these things catch up with me before I realize it.  But when I look back on the situation I find there are ways I could have prevented the emotional upset I caused myself and others.  Different choices I could have made.  And just knowing this gives me hope for the future.

I can learn and do things differently next time.  "Progress not perfection" is what I have been taught.  Watch out for "HALT" (being hungry, angry, lonely, and tired) and "Easy Does It."

Any thoughts? 

Monday, December 31, 2012

How Many People Read This Blog?

Hi, all.  Happy New Year!  I am considering moving this blog to a different site, but before I do, I want to know how many of you read this post.  If there are a fair number of people still following this blog, I may not move it.

Leave a comment, even if it is just a punctuation mark, so I can tally your acknowledgement of this request.  Thanks so much, and have a safe, sober and fun new year's eve. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Acceptance Check

Not accepting my limitations and the limitations of others is something that has caused me great pains, and I know that I am not unique in that. I have found that working on acceptance of myself - and all of my flaws - has allowed me to more easily accept the flaws of others. I'll say it again because I have to remind myself of how backwards I had it for years. I HAVE TO ACCEPT MYSELF BEFORE I CAN TRULY ACCEPT OTHERS. This is just how it works for me.

Several years ago, at 4 years sober, I was in the midst of agonizing non-acceptance. My job was stressful to the point of causing me physical and mental illness which landed me twice in the hospital. The first time, the health care professionals said I needed to change my lifestyle to fit my limitations and my reply was, "No, I need to change my physical and mental capabilities to fit the lifestyle I want" (or thought I "needed"). Needless to say, this attitude is why I ended up in the hospital the second time, six months later.

Since then I have not been able to work which leads me to a discussion on tradition 7 (self-supporting through my own contributions.) I spent three years berating myself for not being capable of working because of my illnesses. Rather than being grateful, I felt guilty for the help I received financially, and angry at myself because I was not able to be "self-supportive."

Upon honest appraisal, pride and self-pity (which is pride is reverse according the one of our books) were the real reasons for my misery.  I will write more about this in a subsequent post.

I am just coming off of a year-long step 4 and 5 journey (a searching and fearless moral inventory and many step 5 sessions with my sponsor and counselor.) As a result, I am slowly beginning to accept my limitations as well as my character defects.

The first frees me from the chains of pride and egoism while the second frees me from the torture of attempting perfectionism.  I work steps 6 and 7 on my character defects, and I work on acceptance of my physical and mental limitations.

How to tell the difference between the two used to stress me out. The Serenity Prayer (Grant me the serenity to acceptance what I can't change, courage to change what I can and the wisdom to know the difference) was very applicable during these times, but I found out that wisdom to know the difference isn't just given to me because I ask for it - I had to do the work in steps 4 and 5 to gain that wisdom. It was SO hard but well worth it.

What do you have difficulty accepting? What actions have helped you come to accept things in your life that you used to fight against?