Gulp, I Raised My Hand

Take a Chance

I’ve worked the steps, read the book more than once, but I’ve never sponsored anyone – officially. I’ve supported women in their recovery, I’ve given advice, I’ve shared my story – but I’ve never sponsored another woman one-on-one. So, the other night in my home group meeting when they asked if those who were willing to sponsor please raise their hand, my hand shot up and I took the first step in overcoming my fear of sponsorship.

In my program of recovery, working with other alcoholics is a must. It’s how we stay sober and give back all that we have received. I’ve been skirting around the whole idea of sponsorship ever since my sponsor “cut me loose” to sponsor other women. I was scared. That little voice kept saying “Why would anyone want you as their sponsor? What if you don’t do it right?” That little voice ruled by fear kept coming at me. The same voice that I used to drink over.

I give fully and honestly on this blog. I don’t hold back. I try to share my story as openly as I can – pretty or not. However, I know I have to do more. I didn’t get sober online. I got sober in rooms and church basements in my community. It was the women and men who greeted me first thing in the morning with my coffee cup in hand who saved my ass. It was the women who ate loads of cake with me when my sugar cravings were off the charts. It was my first sponsor who told me (not suggested) that I needed to call other women, go to meetings and read the book. It was my current sponsor who took me under her wings after I dragged myself back in the rooms after a relapse.

So, maybe raising my hand during a meeting doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but it was. It was me telling that fear to stick it. I have no idea when I’ll have the chance to sponsor a woman, but when I do, I’ll share my experience, strength and hope with her just like all those other alcoholics did with me. Just like my first sponsor, I’ll ask her if she’s willing to go to any lengths to get sober. I’ll share my own miracles with her. I’ll tell her that just when you think you’ve lost everything, you can get it back twofold. I’ll tell her that there’s an amazing life waiting for her, if she’s just willing to do the work.

I thank God every day for my sobriety and being at the point where I can give back to others is a miracle in itself.

Change is Required

Change

Last night, the meeting topic was change. How have we changed since we got sober? How do we continue to change? What led us to that change? Were we willing to change or did we fight it?

You don’t have to be in recovery to relate to these questions. Change is hard. Period. And, I can guess most of us don’t like it – one bit. I can’t stand it. In fact, I spent most of my life trying to control everything around me so people, things and situations wouldn’t change. But, sooner or later I realized that I don’t control change – God does.

I have a good friend who’s struggling in her recovery right now. If you’ve never dealt with addiction or alcoholism, it’s hard to understand why someone would continue to do the same things when they always get the same results. But, that’s the insanity of an addictive mind. A “normal” person might ask, “Well, why doesn’t she just stop and get help?” It’s not that easy. You have to actually WANT to change. And, change is NOT easy.

When I first got sober, I knew my life had to change, but I wasn’t necessarily up for the work it entailed. My sponsor asked me to do things that, honestly, I felt were stupid and below me. Imagine that?! As if I was such a model citizen at that time to believe that something (or anything for that matter) was below me! Wow, what a little perspective can do for you!

Anyway, I begrudgingly took her suggestions and attended daily meetings (at 7 a.m. in snowstorms!), called other women in the program, got involved in service work and, really, everything else she suggested. However, through all of this, I still had the assumption that if I did everything she asked and worked the steps, I would be “fixed” and everything would be “peachy keen.” Ha! The joke was on me.

In my sixth month of sobriety (the first time around), I started in on my ninth step, which is when you make amends to those you have harmed and try to repair the damage of your past. Oh crap. That was my first reaction. I did NOT want to do this. It was hard and scary – and after one or two amends I said “Screw it!” and went out and drank again.

I didn’t attend meetings for a few months, but after getting a phone call from a friend in the program, I decided to give it another try. This time around it was different. I had made the decision that alcohol was not going to be a part of my life – period. I was now ready to dig in and do the work that was required to achieve that change I so desperately wanted. I also came to realize that what I learned through working the twelve steps was not a one time gig – it was a lifetime commitment.

Having completed the steps, I now apply them to my daily life. Am I right with God? Am I doing His will and asking for His guidance? How am I treating others? Have I done something that requires an apology? Where could I have done things differently? How am I sharing my experience, strength and hope with others?

My life has changed drastically since making the decision to get sober. I could’ve never imagined a life so filled with joy after all the pain and suffering my family and I had experienced as a result of my drinking. But, here’s the thing, it’s NOT easy. It’s HARD. I work at my sobriety EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Just yesterday, I realized I need to make amends to someone else, which means admitting my wrongs and owning up to my actions. At first, it’s scary, but the process is beautifully humbling and in turn brings me a little closer to God because I know I’m doing His will.

There’s a passage in the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous that states, “Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon.”

“Complete abandon.” I love that image. I see myself free and open, with arms stretched out wide, abandoning the old and WILLING to accept a new way of life – a better way.