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"Miracles" vs. Reality when sober?

Old 11-12-2016, 05:51 AM
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I've found the longer you're sober, the more you come to appreciate it.

I do consider it a miracle that I was able to quit. I'd be dead by now if I hadn't.
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Old 11-12-2016, 06:11 AM
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Great thread, Steve. It is always good to reflect. As others have said, becoming sober wasn't hard compared to living sober. The hardest thing for me, as I have posted on other threads, so forgive if this is repetitive, is to sit quietly with a problem that really has no solution. Cases in point: aged mother with some dementia and alcoholic sibling. Challenges associated with both people, and it ain't gonna change for the better. This is the kind of thing that would have sent me racing for the bourbon bottle, knocking over a cat or two on the way. Mrow! Now I meditate. I practice yoga, I go for a walk or to the gym. I pet and brush said cats, which are furry little calmer-downers. I also try to remember that my life is very blessed, and that I am a lucky little chucklehead. Peace.
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Old 11-12-2016, 06:58 AM
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A few thoughts come to mind. I gave up cigarettes once for a few months and then started back mainly because I didn't think I felt any better. I hadn't noticed the incremental improvements is all. Within a week of starting I sure felt worse.

If alcohol is the problem, then stopping drinking should fix everything. But if alcoholism is the problem, then stopping drinking will likely bring it out worse unless a good plan of action is in place. Alcohol comes in bottles, alcoholism comes in people.

An earlier poster spoke about the AA promises. Strange as it may seem they all came to pass for me at pretty much the same pace I worked the steps. When I took step two the step two promises kicked in, same with three, and so on. Particularly profound where the fifth step promises, an accurate description of what I was feelng immediately after taking that step. All of these things are miracles to me.

It is strange how the big book took on a completely new meaning post-steps. Prior to the steps I missed all those promiss, they meant nothing as they were all about things that were beyond my experience and understanding. Just words. Yet now they are facts about my life.

None of that has made me immune from life, but I have undergone a miraculous change in my reaction to life. It has nothing to do with chosing not to drink, it is that it never occurs to me to drink no matter what life has thrown at me. That's the miracle.
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Old 11-12-2016, 09:40 AM
  # 24 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by August252015 View Post
I have been floored at how quickly the promises (I am an AA-er) have come true in my life. Not all of them, and not all as I'd ever have expected (or thought I wanted).

I was actually warned against the very things Steve mentions in the op - that you stop drinking and "poof" all's coming up roses. So I set about beginning and now continuing to develop a strong program. Faith work (for me, Christian spirituality), daily program work and usually 4-6 meetings a week, sponsor work, the whole gamut.

The best way I can describe what makes my life so different is that it's real. I get to be present and deal with....all of it. And so much of it is so very good. Acceptance has indeed been the answer to all my problems- struggling, sometimes, but doing my best to live life on life's terms.
Faith, unexpectedly, was a necessary step in my journey, being someone who turned away from God for my whole adult life, and it just broke me wide open. I was also blessed with the willingness to finally do the work, when God started opening doors to sources of strength I could pull from, namely other women like me who had healed their lives.

I am with you, I feel present and able, finally. Acceptance was hard won, painful at times, but very worth it.
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Old 11-12-2016, 09:48 AM
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I dunno...I felt a huge weight off my shoulders, both physically and emotionally, pretty much right away when I quit drinking. The momentum of that feeling of freedom carried over into other areas of my life, so that I was able to accomplish some things and grow in ways that I wasn't able to as a person addicted to alcohol. Quitting alcohol doesn't fix everything, but it makes it possible to eventually fix everything.

I also think that entitlement can lead to much struggle and unhappiness. The universe does not "owe" me anything, nor does anyone in it. I am not going to be pelted with kittens and rainbows just because I'm so amazing, and rainbows and kittens aren't the key to happiness anyway. When I stopped grasping for them, I suffered less. I also bristle a little at getting praise for quitting. I don't feel like I should get a medal for finally doing what I was supposed to be doing all along. I am responsible for my happiness...no one is going to give it to me.

For me happiness in life doesn't mean everything is good and the way I want it to be. Happiness for me means understanding that things will always be good and bad and up and down, and that I will be ok no matter what.

The pink cloud that comes from being free from addiction? I've had mine for almost 10 years now. The blackest times over the years will never be reason enough to go back to that hell. Even when life feels suffocating and threatens to do me in emotionally, I will always have the quiet comfort that despite everything, I am free.
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Old 11-12-2016, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Gottalife View Post
A few thoughts come to mind. I gave up cigarettes once for a few months and then started back mainly because I didn't think I felt any better. I hadn't noticed the incremental improvements is all. Within a week of starting I sure felt worse.

If alcohol is the problem, then stopping drinking should fix everything. But if alcoholism is the problem, then stopping drinking will likely bring it out worse unless a good plan of action is in place. Alcohol comes in bottles, alcoholism comes in people.

An earlier poster spoke about the AA promises. Strange as it may seem they all came to pass for me at pretty much the same pace I worked the steps. When I took step two the step two promises kicked in, same with three, and so on. Particularly profound where the fifth step promises, an accurate description of what I was feelng immediately after taking that step. All of these things are miracles to me.

It is strange how the big book took on a completely new meaning post-steps. Prior to the steps I missed all those promiss, they meant nothing as they were all about things that were beyond my experience and understanding. Just words. Yet now they are facts about my life.

None of that has made me immune from life, but I have undergone a miraculous change in my reaction to life. It has nothing to do with chosing not to drink, it is that it never occurs to me to drink no matter what life has thrown at me. That's the miracle.
Reading this I'm starting to get interested in working the steps.. and actually thought, maybe right before I return to school (because I have 1 and a half recovery related books I want to get through first) I could find a sponsor, work maybe one step a day, focusing on getting new insight, but also making note of the things I have already accomplished, or may just touched on and can go a little deeper in to.. And tie it in with the rest of my recovery "research" as it were.. I've taken a student role, but also applying as I learn.. maybe doing the steps can fortify me even more in a way.. as I go in to nursing school, which is a lot to contend with.. especially knowing I've failed out twice because I was drinking. Owning that.
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Old 11-12-2016, 10:19 AM
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I really like this thread - so much information!

Things haven't immediately improved for me but my perception of things has. I'm currently unemployed and it's causing me a lot of stress, however when I was drinking, I was convinced that I couldn't cope with being unemployed and that was my reason for continuing. However once I stopped, it's got rid of that brain fog and not only am I more proactive, I sort of see things as they are rather than my brain putting a spin on it that causes me more shame and sadness.

During drinking, my health anxiety was through the roof. I constantly checked if my eyes or skin were going yellow, was convinced that I had a terminal disease, thought that every single pain in my stomach was a sign of organ failure...it was horrendous. Three days after stopping drinking, my body started feeling better and I can honestly say that the health anxiety is 100% better. It's amazing how much trouble the booze caused me.
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Old 11-12-2016, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by steve-in-kville View Post
I was reading through some older threads and started to see a trend.... how many of us were somewhat mislead to believe that just by sobering up, all our problems would just go away instantly?? And we'd be happy and rich and life would be full of kittens and rainbows.

But, once sober, we realized that the miracles don't happen on the second day. Or the second week. Life can still suck pretty bad. We still have bills, maybe legal problems and life to live.

But, with time, things do get better. It just doesn't seem to happen as fast as we think it should.

Am I right?
I was quite a miserable wreck when I got sober. I really didn't know if the program of AA and all the footwork involved was going to make a difference, but I had hope. and I surely didn't want to be miserable any more. I didn't stop drinking and walk into AA to continue being miserable.
I knew it was going to take T.I.M.E. to become unmiserable, but I did want it quick, but I knew that 36 years of living with the last 23 of those stuck in a bottle...welp, it wasn't going to be an overnight fix....
if that makes sense.
so I put in the footwork for what I wanted.
at 90 days I knew something was different in me but I wasn't sure what. I kept working the program.
at a year, I was honestly to a point I loved myself and happy with life.

for me, the very first miracle happened on the first day I attended an AA meeting- I got the courage to walk into an AA meeting. that was a miracle.
somewhere in there I realized the program would work. that was a miracle.
somewhere in there I had a very strong craving to drink- quite a few of them actually and had to take it one second at a time. that was a miracle.
then 13 months in another miracle happened. I was diagnosed stage 3 melanoma.
and I didn't want to drink nor did I drink through the 3 1/2 year battle.

buuuuut
I can still have times I want what I want and I want it now.
but the miracle is I know that's just me being selfish.

in short, I wasn't mislead to think it was an overnight matter nor would elimination of alcohol be a miracle cure, the world would be great, and everything would just be dandy. I knew for a fact it was going to take T.I.M.E. and footwork.

keep putting in the footwork,steve! its pretty awesome to read the growth!
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Old 11-12-2016, 12:39 PM
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I used alcohol to fill an empty space inside myself. A space that was a void where safety should have been. Most animals when under extreme threat retreat to a place of safety. I have kind of worked out as a kid - didn't happen. So avoidance and sick days to retreat from threats (real or imagined) became the norm. I began to adjust off kilter. I had no 'normal' role models to learn from. Then along came my predatory friend- alcohol. Fixed everything! Once I stopped drinking and I evicted my lying bast..d friend alcohol- guess who was waiting in the shadows? Yep- that empty space. Problem was it was there all along. THAT is the reason I began and continued to drink. So the hard work now is making that safe place within myself. Not a physical place (that however is necessary) but just a confidence in myself I do stuff without retreating (running away sounds so ugly). Not stupid- think like an adult but react with the emotional maturity (at times) of a 14 year old.
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Old 11-12-2016, 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Maudcat View Post
Great thread, Steve. It is always good to reflect. As others have said, becoming sober wasn't hard compared to living sober. The hardest thing for me, as I have posted on other threads, so forgive if this is repetitive, is to sit quietly with a problem that really has no solution. Cases in point: aged mother with some dementia and alcoholic sibling. Challenges associated with both people, and it ain't gonna change for the better. This is the kind of thing that would have sent me racing for the bourbon bottle, knocking over a cat or two on the way. Mrow! Now I meditate. I practice yoga, I go for a walk or to the gym. I pet and brush said cats, which are furry little calmer-downers. I also try to remember that my life is very blessed, and that I am a lucky little chucklehead. Peace.
I am a caregiver for a 90 year old with dementia.. just over a year now. Her entire family visits a lot, but she has one nephew who lives across the street and stops by almost daily, when he can... blatant alcoholic, wife of a recovering (loose term) alcoholic, she used to take care of his aunt full time before she got sick.. and his addiction certainly puts him at a disadvantage when it comes to coping with watching a loved one succumb to Alzheimer's.. that's putting it lightly.

Being around these dynamics, the drinking, the dysfunction, stressed me out for a long time, til I learned how to better cope without drinking.. but it also served as an opportunity for growth, as most uncomfortable experiences do..
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Old 11-12-2016, 01:58 PM
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If somebody on SR is selling the message "that just by sobering up, all our problems would just go away instantly", I sure haven't seen them. Quite the opposite.
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Old 11-12-2016, 03:12 PM
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I was reading through some older threads and started to see a trend.... how many of us were somewhat mislead to believe that just by sobering up, all our problems would just go away instantly?? And we'd be happy and rich and life would be full of kittens and rainbows.
In response to the OP’s question, I don’t see a whole lot of people claiming that things went smoothly or that very many things got better by virtue of putting down the drink alone. So, no, I don’t agree and am stumped as to where all these comments are. If they do exist, I’m certain their numbers are greatly overshadowed by the more realistic comments that describe the process of getting sober.

As I believe is true in most cases of making major changes in life, or when major events are thrust upon us that require major changes in order to manage or to just survive them, perception plays an important role. I define perception here as the way we interpret the events we experience in life and not as taking events objectively or on face value alone. At it’s very best, black-and-white thinking is misleading, and the reality of becoming dangerous and destructive is only a half-step away.

Early sobriety sucks for most people. I don't think I need to give a detailed list as to why this is so. Even the most optimistic and determined person suffers greatly from such a dramatic change in lifestyle, a change in our being-in-the-world.

I wasn't at all interested in getting sober when I finally put down the drink, but I had few options and little choice. So I scratch my head when getting sober is described as a function of being "ready" or being "motivated enough.” My sense is that these things are true or make sense only in retrospect, given, for example, how many times people describe themselves as ready or motivated to get sober, only to fail repeatedly at getting there. Besides, how do I as a drunk even know that I'm ready or motivated to make any substantive changes in my life? The phenomenon of denial also throws off my judgment and my internal compass when I'm drinking, allowing me to regularly lie to myself to the extent that I may even believe that I would be better off waiting until the time is “right,” that I may not really, after all, have such a big problem with drinking (When all is said and done, I do make it to work each day.), or that I just need to control how much, how often, and when and where I drink. I've seen this scenario played out here on SR and in my own life hundreds of times. So, saying that I was ready to to stop based on the fact that I finally did stop this time falls within the relevance of the kind of logic that tells us that at least broken clocks are right two times a day.

Meaning in life and struggle are inseparable. We’re built to take for granted things that come easily to us in life, and to value more those things that are the product of our labor, our struggle, our heartache. I don’t see any rational way to dispute this. If you want substance and meaning in your life, you need to be willing to struggle for it. I would go as far as to say that the struggle itself is where meaning in life resides. I’ve yet to find it anywhere else.

Faith helped me. I’m not at all religious and, unless I suffer a traumatic brain injury, I don’t see this changing. Faith, for me, is believing not in something that is utterly impossible to achieve or exist, but believing that I have the to capacity to survive my own struggle on my way to what I am becoming: I will never be a finished product. Faith is not a thing that we either have or we don’t; it’s a task, a way of being in the world. It’s easy to believe in things that are more or less easily obtainable. It’s easy to believe in the trust, loyalty and support of people who are indebted to us or who are otherwise attached to us as a result of their own psychopathology, such as in the case of co-dependency, obsession or other versions of psychological dependence, wherein the relationship is one such as exists between a subject or a person and any other external object in the world, like a car or a video game. But neither of these things has anything to do with faith or, perhaps more accurately, with being faithful. Yes, I know and have known many people who claim that they don’t believe in anything. I silently add the word ‘yet’ to such statements, given the fact that they’ve stated that they believe that they don’t believe in anything, in itself, a statement based on faith, and camouflaged as fact. How does anyone accurately assess that they don’t believe in anything?

I hear and read a lot of well-meaning statements that attempt to persuade people to be a certain way along the lines of “You have to believe in yourself, before anyone else will believe in you.” “You have love yourself first before you can love anyone else.” And, in relation to sitting for a job interview or going on a first date, “Be yourself.” I don’t make any of these recommendations, and don’t in any useful way know what they mean. I intentionally avoid the injunction to “Be yourself,” or, worse, “Just be yourself.” This recommendation is perhaps the most complicated of all and, at times, the most dangerous in terms of personal integrity. Particularly in early sobriety, how do I know who I am? How do I go about just “being myself?”

Before I first got sober in 1983, I knew that I had a great many dreams and goals, none of which I did very much about, if anything at all, in terms of achieving them. I knew that failed romantic relationships weren’t my fault or responsibility, that I knew how to solve all the problems in the world besides my own, that I had a good sense of what was “wrong” with other people (though not a clue as to what was truly going with me). I might pass that off as being very young, but even if that were so, it didn’t bring me any closer to knowing who I was. Besides, there were many people my age who handled and worked through such things much better than I could have imagined.

A great many of us struggle with the concept of self-identity through the course of our lives. It is, perhaps, our greatest struggle. We’re mostly on intimate terms with our habits, our tendencies, our likes and dislikes, though often less so when it comes to our strengths and weaknesses. Personally, I believe it’s more helpful to concentrate on our perceived strengths rather than focus on our perceived weaknesses in terms of growing as a person and making progress as a decent human being, if those are the terms under which we choose to assess ourselves. Based on personal and professional experience, I've learned many of us have little idea about how other people experience us, except in the case of very extreme or very reliable behavior on our part, the latter of which takes time. And, even still...

I have no idea what people mean when they tell me to be myself before a job interview. I believe that most of us struggle with this within the context of presenting ourselves as being a good match for a particular interviewer about whom we know very little, if anything at all. The interviewer is generally not as interested in seeing who you are as much as she is in believing that you’re capable -- or that you at least have the potential -- of doing the work that needs to be done or, even better, to do it in a way that surpasses the requirements of the job. But not always. So, as the interview approaches, we start to get a little anxious and may even panic. “What the F**K does ‘be yourself’ even mean?! If I’m myself, they’ll have security escort me from the building!” Yeah. So, we grab an off-the-rack identity in order to survive the interview or to avoid saying anything that’s “wrong” or “stupid” which, in turn, muffles our passion for what we do or for what we’d like to do, ultimately yielding to an executioner that carries many identities, including but not limited to “I’m a people person.” “I’m never late for work.” “I love working with people.” “My one weakness is that I tend to take on too much responsibility.” And the last thing that the now-buried truer self hears is “Next!” Who I truly am never made it to the interview. Or the date. But enough of that for now.

Faith offers the possibility of living a meaningful life. Like love, faith is not a thought, a process of thinking or believing, or a conclusion of the mind. Faith is a task that is demonstrated in what we do, and what we avoid doing. It is both an attitude and a way of being in the world, the conviction that no matter what I want to accomplish, I will do whatever is necessary to get there. It’s a belief in what I’m capable of pushing myself to do in order to get to a better place. And just as soon as we’ve discovered that we’ve made such a commitment, we let go of the outcome entirely. If not, then this is not an act of faith, but of standard operating procedure that offers a certain probability that I’ll get what I want. A dispassionate relationship with all that is external to who and what I am, of who and what I see myself as becoming.

The process of faith, of doing whatever I need to do to get where I want to be is, in itself the outcome at every moment. What and where I want to be is to be alive in the present moment. Faith isn’t about something that I’ll do, or achieve, or get somewhere or sometime down the road, some phantom that only exists within the confines of my imagination but does not and may never exist in what we’ve come to know as reality. It’s about what I’m doing in every moment to get to a better place and accepting that that “better place” is likely to be something very different than what I originally envisioned it be. The better place is in the doing, in the struggling. In the end, and unless I’ve missed something very important, that’s all we truly have.
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Old 11-12-2016, 03:34 PM
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It is nice to meet a fellow traveller who doesn't get the "you have to love yourself.... "kinda thing.
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Old 11-12-2016, 04:39 PM
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I automatically compare my life now to the life I would have had if I'd continued drinking, not the life I had when I stopped drinking.

I am sure I was on the cusp of majorly stuffing up my job and career, and healthwise I was on the express train to liver disease, final destination: grisly death. I have not had rainbows and kittens per se, there have been challenges a plenty. But I look upon everything these days as rainbows and kittens, relatively speaking to where I would be otherwise.

My dad - a recovering alcoholic - loves to call to check in on me and is super-pleased at every report I give him about how things are going for me now. Things are going pretty well for me on the job front. The other day he asked me "how much of all this do you think is due to your sobering up?" I blurted out: "All of it!"

Now that's not strictly true, because I had a couple of decades of effort that would count towards my current job position, and a lot of that time I wasn't sober.

But to me it feels like my whole life is possible now only because I'm sober.

In a nutshell, it's not about how good or bad things are for me now, it's about how catastrophic things would be in comparison if I was still drinking.
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Old 11-12-2016, 05:05 PM
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Faith- what I am now not I will become. I don't mind rainbows but kittens? Rainbows and dogs- definitely dogs. Faith is a matterBof being. My ability to carry on despite cancerous negative thinking. Not all about here and now although it is grounded here. Faith is also knowing stuff will get better.
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Old 11-12-2016, 08:32 PM
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So I was at work tonight, with a home care client, and spotted a little plaque with the Serenity Prayer, had never noticed it before in her house.

What stuck out - I never really saw it written this way - was that three words were in larger font than the rest: SERENITY, COURAGE, WISDOM

Somehow I've never isolated those words before.. but that's everything I want out of life.. and I think that's what I get through faith. Having faith now, in myself as well as in my higher power, is allowing me to live with serenity, courage and/or wisdom in all situations.

In sobriety, I can take life as it comes, until the situation calls for action, and then I have the courage to do what I have to do, and everything is an opportunity for gaining wisdom.

It's little 'aha' moments like this that make my recovery seem miraculous.. it just didn't happen in the blink of an eye.
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Old 11-13-2016, 03:51 AM
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I was only told to quit drinking, go to meetings, get a homegroup and a sponsor. Then I could maybe see a life again.

I found out I not only had to quit drinking. I had to change everything. I had to go back to my core.

I found God again. I realized He did for me what I could not do for myself. We did it together.

That pink cloud that people talk about.............. I now have it and it follows me almost everywhere. I didn't find it or sense it until I was sober almost for two years just again after a life of trying to get right with myself. The longer I am sober the more I feel alive. The promise of really LIVING NO MATTER WHAT CHALLENGES I MAY FACE has enabled me to get on with my life amidst the hope and faith I have back in my life.
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Old 11-13-2016, 08:00 AM
  # 38 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by BrendaChenowyth View Post
So I was at work tonight, with a home care client, and spotted a little plaque with the Serenity Prayer, had never noticed it before in her house.

What stuck out - I never really saw it written this way - was that three words were in larger font than the rest: SERENITY, COURAGE, WISDOM

Somehow I've never isolated those words before.. but that's everything I want out of life.. and I think that's what I get through faith. Having faith now, in myself as well as in my higher power, is allowing me to live with serenity, courage and/or wisdom in all situations.

In sobriety, I can take life as it comes, until the situation calls for action, and then I have the courage to do what I have to do, and everything is an opportunity for gaining wisdom.

It's little 'aha' moments like this that make my recovery seem miraculous.. it just didn't happen in the blink of an eye.
theres another version of the serenity prayer:
God
grant me the serenity to accept the people I cant change
courage to change the one I can
and wisdom to know that's me.

first time my sponsor said that to me my response was
"blahblahblah."
i have a habit of having that response when its what i needed to hear.
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Old 11-13-2016, 08:23 AM
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tomsteve, I love it, there's so much freedom in that.
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Old 11-13-2016, 10:59 AM
  # 40 (permalink)  
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I think it's just easy to forget how bad things were when you were drinking every day.

I sure like not being sick every day and feeling like I'm wasting my time, and looking back on my week and realising I've done nothing.

I also have a lot better chance of getting good out of opportunities that come my way.

It's not heaven, and it's not like someone touched my forehead and I was healed and able to walk again... But drinking myself sick, and crying over nothing, and feeling sorry for myself all the time. Yeah that did go away, and I'm glad. I have other things to be sad about, but they don't seem so dramatic as they once did.
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