Taking positive steps in the recovery process. Since alcoholism affects body, mind, and spirit, action in all these areas are probably necessary to restore the mind, body, and spirit.
Some examples are:
Meditation or other relaxation techniques
Devoting time to other people
Reading inspirational material
Helping other people
Learning new things
Attending fellowship meetings
Spending time in nature
Eating healthy food
Devoting time to listening to family
What has been your experience?
What activities did you do most before the program?
What actions did you do most often in early recovery?
How about now?
Is there a difference between now and early in recovery? Why?
How do you stay committed to positive actions such as exercise? Examples may include setting goals, schedule activity on calendar, charting progress/taking notes.
It is a good idea if people tie their daily positive action to an overall goal. So for example they might decide that their aim is to become a less selfish person, and so they can do things each day to bring them nearer to this goal.
Create a schedule where they write down the positive actions they plan to take and when they are going to take them. It may sometimes be necessary to adjust these schedules so it is best to view them as a tool and not become a slave to them.
Journaling at the end of the day is important because it gives the individual the chance to reflect on the positive action they have taken that day. This way the person can track their progress and ensure that their actions are taking them in a direction they want to go.
Another important reason for why journaling is important is that it keeps people motivated. Progress tends to occur slowly that it is easy for people to miss it – by looking back on a journal the individual will be able to see how much of a difference their daily positive actions have made to their life.
If people have some type of routine it usually makes it easier to commit to daily positive action.
My name is Mark and I’m an alcoholic. My sobriety date is March 17, 2003, my home group is Canton Candlelight, my sponsor’s name is ???, and my wife’s name is ????….but what the hell. That’s not why I’m here. I’m here because I heard a long time ago that this group was alive and well, and that there were many young people in recovery at this meeting and that they were excited about recovery. That’s why I’m here. I was taken to my first AA meeting by a sixteen year old heroin addict. He saved my life. So if you’re new and you don’t think that you know enough about recovery to make a difference in anybody’s life. I’m here to tell you as living proof, you can make a difference3. You don’t have to believe this, but you do have to believe that I believe that you can make a difference. You can save a life, if you try. You don’t have to do it perfectly, but you do have to try.
Last week I came into this meeting down and depressed. Kevin came up to me and asked me how I am. I thought to myself, perfect, I can finally unload on somebody. I told Kevin that it was a bad day and that I was really down. He said, huh, I know, why you don’t lead this meeting next week. Kevin, do you remember what I said? I said what the fuck. Don’t you see I’m dying here? But Kevin was right. You people are always right. I sat down and started to think about my recovery and what I wanted to say to you. You see, I stopped thinking about me and I started to think about you, and I felt better. So you see, Kevin was right. He had the solution. I just didn’t know it at the time.
Like I told you, I have a fondness for the young person in recovery. That 16 year old heroin addict I told you about, that addict was my son. He saved my life. Where there is recovery there is hope. And so I’m a man of hope. Even though Andrew struggled in sobriety, we were so alike. We supported each other in recovery. His home group and mine were the same and our home group met every night. The 12 steps guidance group meets every night at 11:30 pm at the Northwest Alano Club in Wayne Michigan. So for a while there we went to meetings together every night. I would drive and Andrew would tell jokes or he would tell me hilarious stories about what you young people do in recovery. Yes, Andrew was a great support in my recovery. When the PC Alano club opened up in Canton Michigan in the summer of 2008, Andrew supported me in starting my current home group, Canton Candlelight. Lives are being changed there and lives are being restored. This all happened because of Andrew and his encouragement of starting this new meeting.
In the fall of 2007, I started a recovery podcast. I would talk about a recovery topic and record it. Everybody thought I was crazy. But not Andrew. Andrew gave me constructive criticism. Andrew encouraged me and he assured me that I had something going on here… that people would listen if I would keep it up and get better. And so I did. I took his suggestions, made changes but most of all, just kept doing the podcast no matter what. Because of Andrew, the message of hope goes out every week and we get about 20,000 downloads every month. Lives are being changed because of Andrew. I know this because the listeners tell us every week.
Andrew took me to my first meeting and it stuck. I stayed in the program and things got better. Andrew, not so much. When he worked a program, things got better, when he relapsed, things got worse. But through the fellowship of the program he had much success. He graduated from high school, this is a miracle. Andrew graduated from college and earned a degree in business and this is a miracle. So even though relapse haunted Andrew so did recovery at times which allowed him to achieve things beyond his dreams. Andrew moved to Florida to start a career. He got promoted and was working directly for the CFO of a major corporation in Tampa Florida.
I worried about Andrew every day. I was upstairs at alanon every week learning about detachment about letting go. I prayed every night that God would protect Andrew that AA would support Andrew. That Andrew would be surrounded by people who would support and love him. Like you all did when he was here in Michigan.
I thought Andrew was on his way. I trusted God and let go. But our disease is patient, cunning baffling powerful. In the spring of 2012, Andrew pick up again. On July 2, 2012 Andrew took his own life. My life can never be the same. I was crushed, depressed, and ANGRY. I was angry at God. I was angry at alanon. I was angry at AA. I did everything right. I did exactly what those people told me to do upstairs, and the result was exactly what I feared. What about AA in Florida, where were they? Andrew was dead and there was nothing I could do. I am haunted by the thought that I could have prevented this terrible disaster. But I don’t know. I will never know.
Three weeks after Andrew’s death, we had to go to Florida to gather Andrew’s things. I was afraid to meet all the people I was so angry with. But you know what we found out? Andrew was surrounded by people who loved him and supported him. Andrew had been surrounded by AA to support him in recovery. My prayers were answered and God was present in his life. Andrew chose the tragic path.
This affects every aspect of my life. I felt just like the new guy. Sick, confused, hurt, hopeless….so I did what every new comer should do. I went to a ton of meetings. I went there and poured out my heart. And the miracle happened. You listened. You didn’t claim to have the answers, you don’t. You didn’t tell me what to do, you were simply present. I wasn’t alone, and this was enough. This was enough to get me through the day.
But you did give suggestions. You told me I was vulnerable, just as vulnerable as the new guys. I was told to take care of myself. Watch what I eat. Get plenty of sleep. Exercise and take care of the other suicide survivors in the family. We are all hurting. But we are all in recovery. Where there is recovery, there is hope.
And then there’s the spiritual component of grief in recovery. So we got a spiritual director to help us navigate this. I told him about my anger towards God for these events. Our spiritual director told us that we were right, it’s not fair and this is just awful. He told us that God’s plan A was to have Andrew live a long and happy life. But that’s not what happened. And so there’s plan b and plan that could be even better than plan A if we participated. We had choices. We could either sink into depression and despair and the story of Andrew would die too. Or we could decide to make meaning of the life that was given us. That we could honor those things that Andrew honored.
So through the podcast we organized a fund raiser for an organization Andrew supported. Because of Andrew, we raised enough money to make recovery a possibility to about 6 people. The story of Andrew has not died. It continues on.
If you’re new and you don’t think recovery will work for you, I’m here to tell you that it can work for you. This room is full of people who thought exactly that. They thought they were hopeless. That they had a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. But in this room, you can find hope; you can find a fellowship that will help. You will find a solution that has 12 steps, and this is our great news for you, if you want it. The choice is yours.
So if you’re new, here are a few suggestions. Abandon yourself to god and admit your faults. Clear away the wreckage of the past and give freely.
we are going to talk about The special challenges and blessing for the couple in recovery
and we might talk about the legacies affecting their children and future generations.
Let’s kick off this segment of the show with a voice message we received from Bronte in Austrailia.
Feedback from listeners
we posed the following questions to our listeners
3. Question: When there is the disease of alcoholism in a family, the whole family is sick and dysfunctional. In recovery, who is to take responsibility for this dysfunction?
Both partners must accept responsibility for the health or dysfunction of their coupleship.
Both partners bring their own addictions, personalities, family-of- origin messages, and individual dysfunctions into the coupleship.
This does not mean that one is responsible for any of the addictive or dysfunctional behaviors of one’s partner. Both partners are responsible for the presence or absence of intimacy.
4. In a recovering couple where only one has alcoholism, is there only one co-dependent?
Both partners may be co-dependent.
Mutual co-dependency may be an aspect of co-addiction. Partner co-dependency may be based on fear of abandonment, deep shame, or a need for approval. Enmeshed partner attachments may result, causing both partners to seek to control each other, usually to prevent their partner from leaving.
There can be two styles of control: manipulative and domineering. The manipulative co-dependents seek to secure their partners by always doing what their partners need or want. This compels these co-dependents to lose their independent identity and sometimes to almost literally die for their partners. This style, which is usually unconscious, might also include portraying themselves as victims, which projects images of being such poor, wretched, mistreated people that no one could ever leave them.
The domineering style is more directly controlling. In this style, the co-dependents use anger (or even rage), harsh orders, demands, argumentation, threats, and suggestions (in a variety of subtle and not-so-subtle ways) that they are superior and should control the behavior of their partners.
Whichever style is present, both partners fear the other’s leaving and use their own personal co-dependent style to prevent abandonment. In recovery, partners can learn how to be in the coupleship by choice. Before such recovery, co-dependent partners lack choice. They are in the coupleship out of necessity— the compulsion of their shared addiction to each other.
6. Is family of origin issues relevant to the recovering couple?
Both partners usually have significant family-of-origin issues.
The limited amount of research that has been conducted with addicted couples suggests that both partners may be victims of some kind of neglect or abuse. Addicted couples may have learned unhealthy styles of relationships in their families of origin, where they did not receive healthy modeling of nurturing and intimacy.
Each partner may be the victim of violation of personal boundaries—emotional, physical, sexual, or spiritual. Such violations often create suppressed rage, coupled with profound fear and anxiety. Addictions may develop as ways of coping with these feelings.
8. What about comparing our relationship with normies?
Couples are full of illusions about ideal relationships.
Addicted couples may have lists of requirements for what they believe makes a “Good Couple.” For example, the partners may think if they have violated their marital vows, have money problems, or are not perfect parents, they can never be acceptable as a couple.
9. Do you have slips in recovery? What does that look like?
Just as individuals have slips, so will couples.
Just as individuals in recovery know that addiction lasts a lifetime and they must continue their programs for life, so partners learn they must maintain recovery in their coupleship for life. If couples stop working their program, experience has taught us that old patterns of dysfunction will likely return. Just as individual addicts have slips, so will couples. Slips occur in coupleships when:
• Communication breaks down,
• Old fights and patterns of interaction return, and
• Partners start distancing from each other.
10. What support do you rely on?
There may be little social support for the recovering coupleship.
When couples enter recovery, the social system around them may not comprehend or accept the changes both partners are making, and may not support the partners in their efforts. We have found RCA to be a useful support for us in our efforts to change.
12. Do you experience shame?
Couples will experience shame, just as individuals do.
We must be aware that our individual shame is doubled in coupleship when we become convinced that we are a terrible couple. Sometimes we may feel we are “terrible” friends, parents, sexual partners, communicators, managers of money—seemingly not doing as well as other couples in RCA, etc. This is called couple shame. We may think that we are in the worst coupleship imaginable. In this state of mind, it may seem to us that the only solution is to end the coupleship.
The answer for couple shame is the same as for individual shame. As we tell our story to other couples, we learn that we are not alone in our problems. In this way, we can also experience affirmation for our progress in recovery. Additionally, by getting a sponsor couple, working the Steps, and working our own individual recovery programs we will begin to heal. Gradually, over time, we can experience intimacy that few other couples know.
If you’re new, this episode is for you. We want to take the fear out of going to your first few meetings. This episode is really for those of you who have not yet mustered up the courage to go to your first meeting. But it episode can also be useful for those of you who have tried recovery programs before, but they didn’t stick. But now you are desperate because it is getting worse.
To kick off this discussion, let’s take a look at what our listeners think are the most important basic recovery tools they have obtained in the program.
The question we asked our listeners was
Let’s start our discussion with MEETINGS
let’s open with the question
Where (how) do you find (good) meetings?
what makes a good meeting?
What should someone who is new expect at meetings?
What about the location of a meeting, does it affect whether you attend or not?\
Are there types of meetings you prefer? why?
Are there types of meeting that you avoid? why?
What if you don't like a meeting, what are your options?
Let’s move to FELLOWSHIP
How to get a sponsor?
How to get rid of a sponsor?
How to make phone calls.
How to get involved with the meeting before and after the meeting.
How to get involved in service work.
Now, let’s turn to SPIRITUALITY
How do you pray
How do you meditate
what’s the difference
When do you pray
Why do you pray
PROGRAM - let’s talk about what the program is for you
Most would agree that the program is in the steps.
What should a new person expect when they start working the step?
Do you have to do the steps?
For the benefit of our listeners who may be new to the show,
On July 2, 2013 our oldest son died suddenly and our lives have been forever changed. Andrew struggled with addictions and mental illness for at least 12 years before he took his own life.
This podcast is one of hope.
Loss and grief will come to everyone.
But we want to encourage you that 12 step groups can equip you with tools that can help you to cope these disasters. You don't have to believe that these tools will work for you but you do have to believe that they are working for us most of the time, some of the time?
Anna, welcome back to the studio
Anna, tell us a little about yourself, when did you first come into a 12 step program?
Our listeners took part in a survey to help us prepare for this show.
The question we asked was “How Do You Cope With Grief”.
Anna, you thoughts on the survey?
Well, Anna, let’s jump into this segment of Grief, Loss, and Recovery.
First of all, Anna, what would you like our listeners to know about your son Andrew?
What has been the some of the most difficult things you have faced since Andrew's death?
How has your 12 step program helped here?
What else was helpful?
Tell me about denial. Have you experienced denial this past year?
How? How did you face denial?
As for me
Thought it was a Set up at first, Now, I find myself expecting to hear from him.
Anger is something that i have really struggled with. Have you been angry about Andrew's death?
At who and why?
What did you learn about anger? need to forgive
As for me, I was angry with al anon and AA, angry with self as a way of mothering andrew
Did you go through the bargaining phase after Andrew's death?
What did you learn?
What about isolation?
What did you learn?
What steps or what part of the program helped?
How about depression?
Did you experience guilt?
What steps, slogan, part of the program helped?
Where are you with acceptance?