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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in friendsofbillw's LiveJournal:

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Sunday, February 3rd, 2013
9:10 am
Loss of Dignity
Loss of Dignity: "When a person has lost their dignity, there is a hole filled with despair, humiliation and self hatred, filled with emptiness, shame and disgrace, filled with loss and isolation and Hell. It's a deep dark horrible hole, and that hole is where people like me live our sad, screwed-up, dignity free, inhuman lives and where we die, alone, miserable, wasted and forgotten."
Tuesday, August 7th, 2012
4:47 pm
Looking for friends!
Hi Everyone!
I just got rolling again on the LJ thing for the first time in a few years.

I am a 30 year old married woman without kids. I'm 5 1/2 years sober. I go to 3-5 meetings a week and really get a lot out of them. I have a sponsor and two sponsees (they are the true treasures of sobriety). I am a big fan of live music and consider it the express train to the fourth dimension. I have a very nature-based sense of a higher power...lots of sky, ocean, forest and tree type stuff =)

I started my LJ just to chronicle my spiritual journey and am looking for some companions on the ride. Please let me know if I can add you as a friend!
Wednesday, July 28th, 2010
3:13 pm
Abstinence is the leading cause of relapse.
Abstinence is the leading cause of relapse. Sounds kind of comical when heard for the first time. Almost like a contradiction of terms. In theory, abstinence is supposed to PREVENT relapse. How can it be RESPONSIBLE for relapse?

It turns out that the recovery process cannot be done in one simple phase. Not unlike getting a car or truck rolling along it takes more than one gear. Abstinence is comparable to first gear in a motor vehicle. It is the best and sometimes the only way to get a massive vehicle in motion but not unlike a car going down the highway, being stuck in first gear is destructive. At some point the cars engine will blow apart from too much stress.

Rehab programs seldom talk about this matter because it is simply not their job to talk about long-term recovery strategies. Their goal is typically one of getting the subject to reach some short-term goal that can be achieved and measured within a short time frame,
typically 30 to 90 days.

So what is the equivalent of second gear in the recovery process? Principles to live by. Specifically rules to live by that can be used to day in and day out without overloading ones psychic engine. Some of these principles can be summed up in simple to grasp slogans like; one-day-at-a-time, easy-does-it and first-things-first. These are more or less psychological tricks and tips that can be used in times of stress.

There is more to recovery however than just psychology. There is an even higher set of principles that can be viewed as the equivalent of over-drive in an automobile. That is spiritual instead of psychological principles.

Spiritual principles are harder to learn than psychological principles because some of them are hard to grasp at first. In fact, many of them are closer to paradox’s than logic. That is why it is best to leave them for last in the learning process.

The fundamental spiritual principles are not too bad to deal with like honesty, open-mindedness and willingness but some of the deeper principles like humility and serenity are beyond the grasp of those new to the recovery process.

Perhaps the most esoteric spiritual principle to grasp is true humility. A word often confused with humiliation. The easiest way to distinguish between the two is to remember that humiliation leads to fear, guilt and shame where humility leads to insight into new truth. Another important difference between them is that humiliation is 100% pain where humility is 50% pain and 50% gain. As body-builders would say “no pain, no gain.

All those who are suffering from an addiction have a serious lack of insight. Humility, more than any other tool, can circumvent this problem and provide new and lasting paths to the truth about themselves, their disease and their potential to change. Think of spiritual principles as the over-drive that allows an auto to cruise for countless hours of stress-free progress on the life-long journey to recovery.
Thursday, June 3rd, 2010
1:07 pm
Abstinence vs Recovery

Abstinent and recovering.  These two words appear to have the same meaning but they differ substantially when looked at over a long period of time. Abstinence may measure the same as recovery in a urine sample or blood test but the intention, expectations and the long-term durability of the two paths to “legally defined sobriety” are qualitatively quit different.

The abstinent addict is looking for a quick-fix for their problem where the person living in recovery seeks, desires and expects to find a new way of living without the need for any substances (crutches) in their lives.  Abstinence may cure back problems (getting your license back, job back, family back) but it does not address the underlying causes of needing a mind-altering substance in the first place.  A person seeking true recovery recognizes the truth about themselves, that is, that there was some kind of problem that existed prior to seeking out drugs or alcohol initially.

For the person who was uncomfortable in their own skin to start with, not drinking or drugging does not treat their bigger malady (anxiety, frustration, guilt or despair).  The individual who is merely abstinent must go on to face these obstacles long after obtaining their short term goals or getting their stuff back. In short, abstinence is not drinking and feeling bad about it.  Recovery is not drinking and felling good about it.

            There are a series of “simple to grasp” slogans used within recovery groups designed to get the newcomer through the next day/week/month or whatever short-term goal that particular program has.  In all fairness to any counselor/teacher/sponsor these psychological tricks and tips are essential in the first few months of any kind of recovery and there is no practical way around them.  The danger for the person in recovery comes when they continue to rely on these “band-aids” permanently and fail to heal the wound.

            The limitations and weaknesses of abstinence typically do not show up until sometime later-on in the recovery process, when the now sober mind starts to realize that only a few things get better while most “life challenges” go on.  They begin to recognize that most of the slogans they heard were simply not true or were gross exaggerations.  One such slogan is; “just don’t drink, go to meetings and life will get better”.   Your parole officer might think your life is better but he is looking at the situation from the perspective of a baby-sitter who is responsible for cleaning up your mess.  The reality is that if you can’t sleep at night because of worries and fears, your life may in fact get worse and the 4 horseman of the Apocalypse may even move in with you.  Peace of mind is a precious commodity to the soul living a sober life.  Drugs and alcohol may have been a “rock” comfort-wise, but life without them may prove to be the “hard place” for the person who was caught in the middle and must now choose one side or the other.  Now where does he or she find refuge?

            A person taught to say the serenity prayer in his or her treatment program is in a better position than someone not familiar with the importance of peace of mind.  Serenity is the deluxe edition of sobriety, which includes peace of mind, acceptance and a starting point for meditation.  Without serenity, sobriety may not be worth having.  True sobriety rides on the coat-tails of serenity.  The next time you can’t sleep at night try asking yourself if sobriety is of any help in this particular situation.

Where humility has teaching power, serenity has healing power.  That is the power to instill peace of mind.  Just because someone was powerless over their drinking or drugging does not mean they have to be powerless over their recovery.

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010
8:41 pm
ACA Steps Cosponsor Meeting in Palo Alto, CA
If you identify with the Problem, you're welcome to sign up for the ACA step cosponsor meeting. We'll go through the steps in the ACA workbook. Meeting time is Saturday afternoons in Palo Alto, CA. The meeting will be closed.

Contact me to find out more and sign up.
Friday, April 2nd, 2010
9:18 am
Resentments and Politics.
I am nearly 15 years sober. I got to regular meetings. I sponsor people regularly. I am almost always working with a newcomer. I have two homegroups and hold a chair position for our local intergroup (PI/CPC). I am active in the fellowship, go to outings, have regular contact with AA'rs. I go through the steps regularly...as I work with sponsees, of course... with my sponsor or a group about every year to year and a half.
I haven't posted on LJ in about a year. But........Collapse )

Current Mood: contemplative
Monday, March 16th, 2009
8:59 am
I'm really struggling right now after some recent trauma. Any help/encouragement would be nice. I keep everything in my personal journal so I can lock down if I ever need to, but everything is public right now. Thanks.
Wednesday, March 4th, 2009
1:28 pm
This has certainly been true for me!!

The mind can assert anything, and pretend it has proved it. My beliefs I test on my body, on my intuitional consciousness, and when I get a response there, then I accept.

~D.H. Lawrence

We should listen to our body. Sometimes our body can tell us more about what’s right and wrong than our mind. When an insight comes to us, or an idea for good, we can feel it at gut level. And when we are about to do something that won’t work or be well-received, we often feel instinctively before our mind gets into gear.

Our mind and body, of course, are not separate, so it’s not surprising that we can feel things before we “know” them. Our mind can often be so cluttered with trivia that only feelings can through to us. Intuition is one way God gets in touch. We need to keep our mental pathway open to our Inner Guide, but if that channel is blocked, we can still listen to our body.

Today I attune myself to God – mind and body.

Current Mood: calm
Thursday, August 7th, 2008
10:11 am
Saturday, August 2nd, 2008
10:32 am
Week one of sobriety...
Hi. I'm "Gilda". I'm currently going into my 5th day of sobriety and recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I just started posting to this journal, which is my personal recovery journal that has been sitting unused for some time. I'm just looking for friends and support here. Thanks.

More about where I'm at right now.
Friday, May 9th, 2008
7:41 pm
Saturday, April 5th, 2008
3:07 pm
Any good AA meetings/fellowships in Manhattan?
Hey ya'll,

Am flying out to my companies' Manhattan office next week, and I've never caught a meeting while I was there. I've called the local AA phone number and got some dates and times for local meetings, but was wondering - anyone have any suggestions for good AA meetings within walking distance of Grand Central Station? Our office is on East 42nd St, near the Grand Hyatt, for "walking distance" reference.

Friday, February 8th, 2008
5:40 pm
Simple friendly reminder...
If you work the 12 steps, share your experience here. Its how we relate in 12 step communities.
If you are curious about the 12 steps, by all means, ask here, lurk here, watch here...
Even if you don't think they will work for you, or have an alternative, share here...

Thursday, September 20th, 2007
8:29 am
Are you an alcoholic/addict?
I posted this as a comment to another post, but since I often see and hear confusion here, in other journals, and EVERYwhere, I thought it was worth repeating to all. I talk primarily about alcohol but this applies to all mind/mood altering substances with some variation depending on the substance (i.e., with opiates the craving begins before use and is satisfied by using; with stimulants, the craving begins AFTER putting the substance in your body)

Alcoholism (addiction) has absolutely nothing to do with how much or how often one drinks/uses.
Just thought you should know that.

It has to do with three things.
You can determine for yourself if that may be you, or if you may be a "potential" alcoholic/addict.

Physical: When you put alcohol in your body, you react differently than other people...a craving for more. I didn't ALWAYS end up drunk. But it got progressively worse. Sober, I would decide to have a drink or two. And that would be all I intended. Yet once I started, I almost always had to drink more, and eventually nearly every time drank until I passed out. This is a progressive disease. Some people fall within that spectrum of "not every time" to "almost every time" at different places or times, but again, it makes no difference how OFTEN or how MUCH. What is important is how your body reacts to alcohol. Alcohol is a poison to the human body. If you "crave" more, there is a good chance that you are alcoholic as "normal" people do not have that craving.

Mental: I lack the reasonable, logical ability to rationalize my way out of an obsession about alcohol. Sometimes I don't even give it a thought...I just drink. But if I get the "idea" of having a drink in my head, I cannot fight it. Or better yet, I can fight it, but I always lose. I always end up forgetting what happened before, rationalize it, justify it, ignore it, minimize it until eventually I drink again. Once I have one drink, the physical reaction takes place and the craving starts. Sometimes the time between drinks is a day. Sometimes a week. Sometimes years. One man stayed bone dry for 25 years and as soon as he had the one drink it set him off into an unstoppable spree that killed him. I lack the inability to react or think rationally with respect to alcohol regardless of how successful or rational I am in other areas.

Spiritual: this has nothing to do with God or religion. One's "spirit" is the driving force(s), ideas, ways of thinking and reacting to the world. My spirit was sick. I was driven, and still am at times, by fear, anger, dishonesty and selfishness. BETWEEN drinks, I grew more and more restless, irritable and unhappy with my life. Sometimes other things would temporarily appease those feelings but the ALWAYS grew until I rank again. Sometimes the period between them would be hours, Sometimes days or weeks. Other people would be spree drinkers that could go for months or years. But they, as I am, are still alcoholic because of their reaction to alcohol once they put it in their body.

You decide. Look at your OWN experiences and determine whether or not you have this thing. If you have had good reason to stop, FOR GOOD, an find that you cannot, perhaps you should consider this.
Tuesday, September 11th, 2007
8:40 am
You can't dive into a swimming pool without getting wet
 I just now joined this community and wanted to share a thought about what the program has done for me.

As the subject mentions it is impossible to dive into a swimming pool without getting wet and even when you get out of the pool you are still wet for awhile.  In many regards, I look at AA and its spiritual principals in much the same way. Every time I share with someone else in the program of recovery, I dip into a pool of spirituality and humility that I can not help but get "wet" from doing so. AA and its 12 steps and traditions are my swimming pool of humility and spirituality that the longer I have been around it, the more I want to regularly refresh myself in that "pool."

My compulsion to drink was relived quite a few days ago and God willing, I don't die or drink in the next 16 days I will have 16 years of climbing the steps.  The longer I have been around the more I want what sobriety has to offer and as I "trudge the road to Happy Destiny" I realize that today's reprieve that can only come from  a Higher Power is not just from alcohol but it is from those things in life which led me to the "isms" of alcohol addiction. For that I am forever and humbly grateful.

I spend slightly over half my time working offshore on 5 week rotations where I am at sea for 5 weeks and then home for 5 weeks (though the travel time comes out of my time "off") so  I frequently have to go long stretches without being able to attend a meeting.  Hopefully, this community will provide me a good alternative when I am away and desire a dip in the pool. :)

Thanks for letting me share.

Current Mood: calm
Sunday, September 9th, 2007
2:44 pm
some sayings
God can't hand you anything new
until you let go of what you're holding.

If you keep bringing your body,
your mind will follow.

Every AA meeting is a payment on your sobriety.

My problems are self-made.

Yesterday is so far in the past I can't see it;
tomorrow is too distant in the future to be seen.
                                     So I'll take a good look at what I can see - today.

Current Mood: chipper
Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007
2:40 pm
Today I am 5
Thanks to the Grace of God & the program of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Dear Universe,

As I go through my day please let me remember how it was, what happened and what it's like now.
May I never take my freedom & MANY blessings for granted in the "heat" of daily life!

Sheila in NJ

Current Mood: grateful
Sunday, August 12th, 2007
7:48 am
3rd step decision
I remember a decade ago sitting ina meeting, confused, angry and irritated by hearing people discuss that third step and saying shit like, "Just turn it over."
What the hell does that mean?
I shared and I was pissed. All I heard was circular logic and people talking out thier ass. At least that was my perspective ay the time. No one would explain to me what that meant and what the hell it had to do with the third step. Do I just sit back on my ass and do nothing? That was what it seemed like I was hearing.

A decision is not a decision if not followed by action. Without action, its just a good intention. And we probably all know what our good intentions have gotten us.
Faith without works is dead. Period.

How do I turn my will and my life over to God? I let God direct my thinking and guide me and provide me with the needed power that I lack (powerless).
How do i let God direct me and give me strength? The same way I would ghet help from anyone. Starting with communication. By building a relationship, listening and ask for help, and following His direction.
How do I get that direction? Prayer and mediation.
How do I gain power from Him?
By finding out what it is that blocks me from God and others. And then asking Gods help in removing that by taking more action.
How do I do all that and grow in my relationship with God.

The only way I know that works is the twelve steps. That is what they are designed for.

So what is the proof positive that I have made the decision to turn my will and life over?

I've completed, and practice the twelve steps. All of them.
Wednesday, July 18th, 2007
12:09 pm
Hi. I'm 27 and I have been drinking since I was 13, off and on until I was 21 and pretty much every night since I was legally old enough to buy alcohol on my own. Well, I have had brief periods of sobriety. On my 21st birthday (I knew then it would be downhill from there) I walked into AA and stayed sober for about a week. I've been back a couple times since, but never achieved more than a few days at a time.

I hate it. I absolutely hate being reliant on this thing. I have made huge efforts to make my life better in other areas (I'm getting in shape and losing weight, etc), but I know I will never be truly at peace unless I beat this addiction. I am currently on the weight watchers plan to lose weight and was wondering why I was so hungry on it when I realized that I am saving over half my daily calories to use on alcohol instead of real food!

The problem is that I'm terrified. I not only scared of what life will be like sober (that's the least of my worries right now!), but of going through withdrawal. While I drink heavily at night and normally not at all during the day, it's still been so long since I've gone longer than 24 hours without a drink. I know withdrawal will be bad, but I'm terrified of the worse effects, the vomiting, seizures and possible death I see listed among it's symptoms. I've been drinking so long, what if withdrawal kills me?! I'm scared to death and I don't have the resources to go to a hospital.

I want to get clean, but I'm more afraid of immediate death via withdrawal than dying of something alcohol related in the distant future.  Would cutting back gradually work?  Has anyone ever successfully done that?

x-posted.  sorry if anyone got spammed.
Monday, July 16th, 2007
1:06 pm
Inertia is a powerful force. So is compulsive behavior.

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results," writer Earnie Larsen has said for years. I think it goes one step further. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over because we can't find the button that says, "Stop."

"My mom was dying," a woman said. "I went to live with her, take care of her. We had our issues, like most mothers and daughters. But I love my mom, and this was the end of her life.

"She had a studio apartment. We both lived in that one room. I had to get out of there once in a while. Whenever I returned from being out, I knew what to expect. My mom would slam me with sarcastic remarks. She'd say things like, "It's nice to know that I'm not as important to you as your friends."

"My mom had used sarcasm to cover her emotions all my life. I had tried to explain this to her, and how I felt when she was sarcastic with me. I had told her it was okay for her to be vulnerable with me and just say how she really feels. She either didn't get it, or she didn't want to change.

"I had to keep taking breaks. I couldn't be there 24 hours a day. But I'd cringe when I came home, dreading her caustic remarks. One night, I tiptoed in. I was praying to God that Mom would be asleep. She wasn't She was lying there waiting for me to walk through the door.

"I took off my coat. Asked her how she was doing. Said I had a nice night.

"'I'm glad you had a good time,' Mom said. 'But I feel really sad and scared when I'm alone. And I feel better now that you're here.'

"I couldn't believe what I heard. Don't tell me it's too late to do things differently. My mom made a choice and took the action to change in the last week of her life."

Putting values into action in our lives takes courage and hard work. Sometimes the little steps we take mean a lot.

Change the things we can.

You are reading from the book:

52 Weeks of Conscious Contact by Melody Beattie

Current Mood: good
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