Monday, August 2, 2021

 Made A Decision

(24)
                                       AA Slogans
I took great exception to what I considered a "bumper sticker mentality" when I first got to AA and saw all those slogan signs around the meeting rooms.
One Day at a Time
Easy Does It.
Let Go and Let God.
Live and Let Live.
Fake It Till You Make It.
First things first.
Change or Die.
"Po-leeze," I thought. "How simplistic is this?"
So, as ever in my early days in recovery, I brought attitude and judgment to an AA tool that has, over time, brought me much solace. 
And had I been able to put any of them into constant practice over the years I'd be damned near perfect by now. (As it is, I remain merely OKay.)
Many more slogans have been added since those early ones. Some have been around now for quite a while and many more are being added all the time. Here are just a very few of them:
  • Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes. ...
  • Progress Not Perfection ...
  • This, too, shall pass.
  • Time takes time.
  • Principles before personalities.
  • H.A.L.T. - don't get too hungry, angry, lonely or tired.
  • Meeting Makers Make It.
  • GOD - Good Orderly Direction.
  • Keep the plug in the jug.
  • Stay alert. The Devil misses his drinking buddy.

There are many, many others, but my personal favorites are:

"Up your Attitude with Gratitude,"

 and 

"Nobody Ever Found Recovery as a Result of an Intellectual Awakening."

One, more, or all of the slogans were on the walls of every meeting I went to in my early days in AA. One of them would often be selected as a topic for a meeting. Every single one of them is tailor made for the alcoholic mind.

Let's get back to the oldest standbys, the ones listed earlier. Despite their apparent simplicity none of them are easy. All require a lot of practice.

One Day At A Time - That's all we've got, folks. We can't undo one thought, word or deed from yesterday's personal history, and yet we've all met people who are still living in their yesterdays. They're not happy people, being stuck in their past, but they exist.

And we've all met people who are living for their tomorrows, for the day "when I get enough money/time/energy/love (pick one) I'm going to be able to  ...". 
In constantly dreaming about their tomorrows they miss opportunities today that would get them to their goal.

People who live in today, in the moment, benefit from yesterday's lessons while smoothing their path into tomorrow - One Day at a Time. 

Easy Does It - My idea of a morning meditation when I first got sober was reading the 24-hour a day book while combing my hair and putting on makeup - all while driving 70 mph to work.
 
Many alcoholics live that same way - at full throttle. The path to becoming a human being, not merely a human doing, takes a lot of practice.
Using "Easy Does It" like a mantra helped me slow down. It has done the same for millions of others wired like me. It can work for you, too.

(Easy Does It - but do it! This is a newer twist on the original, but one of great help to another alcoholic type, those who procrastinate rather than act.) 

Let Go and Let God - Got a problem?
 (Who doesn't?) 
This slogan doesn't mean ignore the problem and expect God to fix it for you. It means do what you can to correct the worrisome situation and then stop thinking about it. Think about God instead.
 As in: God is good; God cares about me; my Higher Power has my back; God loves me, and so on. Then let go of the problem and let God handle it.

Live and Let Live. 
We must learn to live our own life and stop worrying about what others think, do or say. 
We can only control our own behavior and that's a good thing, because (certainly in my case) it truly is a full time job.
When we focus on learning how to live a full and sober life we won't have time to obsess about how others are living theirs.

Fake It Till You Make It Here's some science for you: 
(1) It is impossible for our brains to hold onto a positive thought and a negative thought at the same time. Making a gratitude list therefore can - and will - make us feel better.
(2) Putting on a happy face when we aren't happy lifts our spirits.
(3) Standing up straight is a physical tool that builds our confidence. 
       And here's a spiritual law for you:
Being grateful for what we have, instead of complaining about what we don't have, brings more of what we do want into our life.

We don't always "feel" like we're "getting" the program. We don't "feel" like we are actually in contact with a Higher Power. We don't "feel" joyous, happy or free every day. 
Of course we don't. We live on Planet Earth, not in La-La Land.
But we can trust those who got to AA before us when they tell us we are "getting the program" when we are staying sober; 
and that just like in any relationship, it takes time to get to know our Higher Power and to feel that presence active in our lives; 
and that if we keep on doing-the-doing we will eventually have a life that's joyous, happy and free most of the time.

As I once heard in a meeting, "I still have bad days, but that's OK. I used to have bad years."

First Things First - This one is about our priorities. You can easily remember them by just looking at your hard. Hold it up now and number your digits, with the thumb being #1 and your pinkie #5.
 
#1 - Do your spiritual homework daily. Getting to know your Higher Power (and if your AA group is your Higher Power at the moment, that's fine) is the first of the first things. 
#2 - Maintain sobriety by using all the tools in the AA toolbox - get a sponsor, work the steps, sponsor others, share at meetings, do service work, etc. 
#3 - Meeting makers make it. Have a home group. Be there when it meets. Go to other meetings. Meetings are our medicine. We need them, especially when we don't want to go.  
#4 - Family and friends. Practice being as nice to family members as you are to the people around you in a meeting. Enjoy your kids and grandkids, nieces and nephews. Make time for them. Make time for your friends. 
#5 - Work ... your career, your job, your way to earn your living. Too many of us swap out one of the earlier numbers for #1. If we love our job, that's great, but at the end of the day our work just pays for us to have a life we can enjoy. Enjoy your life.

Keep your priorities in the order given and your recovery will stay intact and grow stronger. Switch them around and the ground can get very slippery. Without number one, two and three firmly in place, numbers four and five won't matter. They'll be gone.

Change or Die - It doesn't get more basic or real than this slogan. 
Most of us want to do the bare minimum to stay sober in early recovery, because change is hard.
But we are dealing with a terminal, fatal, physical, mental and spiritual illness. It won't go away without us making the necessary changes in all those areas. Step by step, AA teaches us how to do that.
                    
                                    Here's the best news: 

                     "Change is the invitation to a richer life." 



Monday, July 26, 2021

 Made a Decision:


(23)
                     The Promises


A Donkey is a stubborn beast, sometimes refusing to move an inch forward even under pressure.

People will sometimes use a stick on them. Others offer a carrot held just out of reach, because a donkey will usually take one reluctant step after another trying for a bite.


Some say sticks and carrots, used in combination, work best. I wouldn't know. I've never owned a donkey.


But I do know alcoholics can be a lot like donkeys, and my Higher Power knows I can HeeHaw with the best. Tough love is a technique God doesn't hesitate to apply in my case, often using the combination described above.


Every AA newcomer soon learns that "working the program" requires commitment and discipline. It's called "work" for a reason. That's the "stick" used by the program (and Higher Power) to keep us sober, and to improve us in the process.


The big "carrot" is there for us in recovery, too. We hear about it when The Promises are read.


The Promises are read at the beginning or the end of most AA meetings. And I know how very easy it is to tune them out when they're read. Especially when we've heard them read dozens, or hundreds, of times. 


"Yeah, yeah, yeah," say our busy monkey minds, already planning our activities for when the meeting is over. But hold on a minute. The Promises are read for a reason. If we break them down, one by one, their message will stick with us:


If we are painstaking about this phase of our development we will be amazed before we are halfway through.


Halfway through what? 

That would be the steps of recovery. Once we roll up our sleeves and start working the steps to the best of our ability, the promised amazement can begin.

 The good news is, as long as we continue to "work the program," the amazing life we're building will never stop offering more opportunities for amazement. 


We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.


Work, family, jobs, pandemics - all are often annoying to the determined drinker. Finding the time to drink was a challenge for me (even without a pandemic) and for many of us, but despite the time and stress involved in laying in a daily supply, I managed it.

 

So the freedom - and happiness - that came when I no longer had to maintain my drinking lifestyle was new indeed, and it was huge.

 

Addictions enslave us. Recovery sets us free!


We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.


Hiding our behaviors from others - and from ourselves - was a full time job in and of itself during our drinking years. The thought of anyone knowing about any of those escapades appalled us.

 

It was hard for me to believe I would come to not regret the past, but that day arrived the first time I revealed a dark secret in an effort to set another free from alcoholism.


We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.


Anxiety had lived in my gut seemingly all my life, so the first time I had a serene moment in recovery it scared the hell out of me. I felt detached from reality - and I was, from my old reality. I felt lighter, peaceful, scared and hopeful - all at the same time! 


Serenity took a bit of getting used to, but once I had a few more tastes of it - addict that I am - I wanted more. Enough to do the work necessary to have it on a regular basis.


Serenity eventually arrives for us all as the promised result of doing-the-doing of recovery.


No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.


People still caught in the hell of alcoholic drinking, and those AA newcomers just barely into AA's lifeboat, can't believe the people in AA could ever have experienced what they're going through.


Newcomers especially find it hard when they enter a meeting and see well-dressed confident people exchanging good natured banter with one another about their years of drinking.


But once an alcoholic is exposed to the gritty stories we also hear in meetings, and in private talks with our sponsors and new AA friends, they feel a lot more at home. 

 

Low-bottom experiences resonate powerfully, even with those who "got off the elevator" at an earlier stage in their drinking. They learn from them that they, too, can live those kinds of horror stories if they return to drinking. 


That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.


"It's too hard."

"What's the use?"

"I wasted decades drinking, I'll never have ..." a loving relationship, a decent job, a home of my own - fill in your own blanks here.

 

As the AA saying goes about the dangers of self-pity: "Poor me. Poor me. Pour me a drink." Because once we are inside AA we are never useless. We need AA and AA needs us! Our story can - and will - inspire others to stay sober. All we have to do is share it.


We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.


Once we've had the experience of seeing another suffering alcoholic have their light-bulb moment - where they suddenly realize they won't have to die of our deadly soul-destroying disease - we can get a high unmatched by anything ever found in a bottle, pill, smoke, or needle. 


Self-seeking will slip away.


And once we've experienced the kind of high described above we'll find ourselves becoming far less concerned with our own wants and more and more fired up for helping others. 


Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.


Doubt it? Velcro yourself to the program and stick around awhile. Don't leave before YOUR miracles happen!


Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.  


I was a single mother with four small children and no income beyond what I could earn when I arrived in AA. Money worries plagued me then, and for a long, long, long time after I got sober. 

("Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.")


It took a newcomer with three months sobriety to set me free. He talked about having no job, no money, no place to live, and then said, "But I knew God hadn't brought me into the safety of AA to then drop me on my head. I prayed and surrendered it. By nightfall I had been offered a place to stay and a job that even gave me an advance on my first paycheck." 


 I heard what I needed to hear from him, took his advice, surrendered my money fears to my Higher Power, and from that moment to this have never had to worry about my needs being met.


God will meet our needs when we ask. Maybe not all our wants, but whatever we really need will absolutely be provided. My own finances are like the tide. The money sometimes goes way, way out, but then - when a genuine need arrives - it floods back in to meet the moment.

I'm good with that.


We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.


Before I started asking my Higher Power to run my life, I never knew how to handle the most basic life situations without risking turning everything to shit. 


Nowadays a "prompt" will come to mind when a right word or gesture is needed to fix my own situation or to help another person.

How great is that?


Driving ourselves through life is damned hard. Once we're aboard the AA bus we can kick back and enjoy the scenery. 


We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.


(1) Without my Higher Power running my life I become a restless, irritable, angry and anxious person. The kind of person people see coming and get out of the way. 


(2) But when I finish my morning prayers and say, "Over to you, Boss," I become the kind of person people want to help. 


I'll take option two above any day, thanks.


Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us - sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.


One day at a time, one step at a time, a sober life has brought me experiences beyond my wildest dreams. Anyone in AA can have the same. It's promised!



Sunday, July 18, 2021

 


Came to Believe:


(22)


It Works if you Work It. It Won't if you Don't.  



When most of us get to AA we have no idea who we really are after years of covering up who we really are by drinking. That was certainly true of me.


And self-discovery as we do in our fourth step can bring a rude awakening about our former behavior. But we "don't know what we don't know," and finding out those things is what makes living the sober life such an adventure!


Very early in my recovery I complained to an AA friend about not having any fun anymore. I assured her I loved AA and the life it was giving me, but there wasn't much fun in it. She agreed. So we decided to go out on the town and find the fun.


 We dressed up in our "glad rags" (as my Mum used to call her best outfits), put on our warpaint, and went downtown.

But once there we stood on the pavement in the heart of the city and hadn't a clue what to do for "fun."

All our former "fun" had involved barroom pulls or barroom brawls. Without them, we were clueless.


By nine p.m. we had ended up at the home of another AA friend where we sat sipping coffee, swapping our drinking war stories, and laughing a lot over them. We finally went home - sober - at 2 a.m.


That experience taught me I had to find another concept of "fun" to continue enjoying life on my new sober path. And, thanks to a great sponsor, I soon learned self-discovery needn't all be painful.


I told my sponsor about our big night out and - after we'd had a good laugh about it - she addressed my concerns about having no "real" fun in my life outside of meetings.


She did it by having me write a list of all the things I liked to do when I was a small child, before life took those away and replaced them with work, the expectations of others, more work ... worry ... anxiety ... and drinking.


She then suggested I might see if I'd still enjoy doing any of those things, and sent me off to learn who I could now become, by exploring what I had once enjoyed. 

I learned I had outgrown having a doll house and roller skating, but that I still loved surrounding myself with bright shiny things (because glitter still turned me on).

And I learned, while I didn't want to ride a bike anymore, water aerobics and dancing do the trick when I need exercise - and they're fun.


Other items that made my list included jigsaw puzzles, art projects, reading, gardening, and there were many more. And I enjoy all of them in my sober life today.

 

Recovery isn't all about self-examination, however. Once we get an inkling of who we really are, we have to take our show on the road.

Our fellow AA members need what we have to offer and the entire world could stand a dose of what we learn in AA, too.

(Like tolerance and patience, for instance.)


 Our Big Book is very clear about it:

 "'Faith without works is dead.' How appallingly true for the alcoholic! For if an alcoholic fails to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he cannot survive the certain trials and low spots ahead.

 If he does not work, he will surely drink again, and if he drinks, he will surely die. Then faith will be dead indeed."

 

To fulfill our "primary purpose" of carrying the message to those who still suffer, we need to make sure ours is a strong message of hope and faith. Doing little exercises into self-exploration helps build both.


Doing them helps remind us of that little kid we once were who started out so bravely in life, but then got derailed by it. We can get her/him back in an all grown up and lovely version - and

we do it through self-care.


Just like our early ignorance of "fun" in our early sober days, we can be pretty clueless about self-care, too.

So here follows the 101 version of what practicing self-care involves:

1. Don't drink and go to meetings whether you want to go or not.

2. Support your friends in AA and make new friends in AA. Greet the newcomers. Make them welcome. Some of them will become the best friends you'll ever have.

3. Hold the thought that God made you and "God don't make no junk!"

4. The word "NO" is a complete sentence.

 5.   A good tomorrow depends entirely on what we do for ourselves today.

 6.  At least once a day look into a mirror and tell the person you see there they are terrific.

 7.  Positive affirmations - spoken or written - work! They insert a positive voice into our ongoing mental dialogue and over time that brings positive changes. Do them!

 8. Don't be too hard on yourself when you have a bad day. We all drank for a very long time so it's natural that changes for the better will take a bit of time, too.

9. Put the stick you use to beat yourself up in the corner and back away. (If you are only doing 1-8 above, you're doing fine. Focus on that and not any of your perceived faults!)

 10. Become a human being and not just a human doing. Give yourself a break and a day off when you need one. Trust me, the world will keep on turning even if your shoulder isn’t at the wheel.  (I call mine mental health days). 

 11. Be kind to those past versions of yourself that didn't know the things you know now.

 12. We are entitled to take our own life into our own hands. (Yes, that means you, too).

 13. Self-esteem is worth the work involved in building it.

14. Expect to be happy in your life. Practice smiling more.

 

And here's the best one:


We all go through life dragging a wagon full of crap behind us. Every so often we need to look over our shoulder and see who is back there helping us through life by pushing the wagon, and notice who is weighing us down by riding in the wagon.

Some even ride in our wagon and drag their feet along the pavement, slowing us down further.

  Empty your wagon of the dead weight. Find ways to distance yourself from those who only want you to carry them. Keep those who add their power to yours.

 

  Remember: "Precious things are very few - that's why there's only one of you!"

Monday, July 12, 2021

 Made a Decision


(21)

          Make Use of What Others Have to Offer


Our AA founders taught us all the meaning of humility in many ways, including by taking no credit for creating our program of recovery.

 According to Bill Wilson:
"A.A. was not invented! Its basics were brought to us through the experience and wisdom of many great friends. We simply borrowed and adapted their ideas.

"Thankfully, we have accepted the devoted services of many non-alcoholics. We owe our very lives to the men and women of medicine and religion."
As Bill Sees It, page 67

Our Big Book, in describing living the spiritual life, takes that even further by stating we must make use of what others have to offer. 

While the literature of AA contains everything an alcoholic needs to know to stay sober, venturing further means to not be afraid of exploring various spiritual teachings to expand our own spiritual growth.

There's a lot of rigid thinking creeping into the program in today's meetings, but that's not new. Bob Pearson, AA's general services office manager in the 1970s and 80s, was worried about it even way back then: 

"If you were to ask me what is the greatest danger facing AA today," he said. "I would have to answer: 'the growing rigidity - the increasing demand for absolute answers to nit-picking questions; pressure for GSO to 'enforce' our Traditions; screening alcoholics at closed meetings; prohibiting non-Conference-approved literature (ie: banning books); laying more and more rules on groups and members.'"

                The ONLY requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.
                                                                       (Tradition Three.)

I've been called out by members for reading from "non-Conference-approved literature," and for "cross sharing" (I'll get to that in a minute), and even for being "too tough a sponsor" in suggesting we let people go when they are unwilling to do the steps of recovery! 

But, as defined in AA, "We carry the message, not the alcoholic."  Taking a person through all 12 steps is the sponsor's only actual real job, so when a sponsee keeps ducking that work I was taught we need to let them go.
That reluctant one may become willing at a later date, but meanwhile there are people needing sponsorship who are ready and willing to do the work. In that moment they need us more.
 
To keep pushing an unwilling sponsee isn't sponsorship, it's codependency - a whole other recovery issue.

And what about "cross sharing" and "cross talk?"  There seems to be a lot of confusion about these two phrases, but here's how it was explained to me by those old-timers who were around during my early recovery:

"Cross talk" is when someone is sharing and we butt in to give them our opinion on what they're saying. Not only is this rude, it can derail their train of thought and prevent them from saying what they need to say. Cross talk is not acceptable. We don't do it. Period.

But when a member shares something troubling them that we have successfully dealt with by using the tools of recovery, we tell them about our experience when it's our turn to share in that meeting. 
That's "cross sharing," and it's what we are supposed to do in AA - to share our experience, strength and hope with a member in need. Our entire fellowship is built on cross sharing, inside and outside of meetings.

To "make use of what others have to offer," to explore the fullness of spiritual teachings as promoted by our AA founders, is not only desirable, it is our best adventure in recovery and in our life. There is some amazing stuff to be found out there.

 I especially like this bit below from the Book of Proverbs (23: 29-35) in the New King James version of the "Big Big Book." (Bible).  It pretty much describes us and our disease:

"Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes?
Those who linger long at the wine, Those who go in search of mixed wine.
Do not look on the wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it swirls around smoothly;
At the last it bites like a serpent, And stings like a viper.
Your eyes will see strange things, And your heart will utter perverse things.
Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, Or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying:
They have struck me, but I was not hurt; They have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?

Then there's this succinct quote from the Koran:
"If not now, when?"

Wiccans teach that we must "harm none."

Judaism tells us there is one God, incorporeal and eternal, who wants all people to do what is just and merciful. That all people are created in the image of God and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

 The golden rule of Confucianism is: “Do not do unto others what you would not want others to do unto you.”

In AA "We represent no particular faith or denomination. We are dealing only with general principles common to most denominations."
Alcoholics Anonymous 4th Edition, Working With Others, Page 93


Reading various spiritual teachings strengthens and helps us develop our own relationship with our Higher Power. 

And learning what the latest science has to teach us about our alcoholic brains is fascinating. 

Go for it! Learn stuff!

But first, learn first-hand what AA actually teaches.
AA members don't enter into theological discussions, but in carrying our message of recovery we attempt to explain how living a spiritual life has worked for us.
How our developing a faith in a Higher Power has helped us overcome loneliness, fear and anxiety, and helped us get along with others.
How having a Higher Power in our lives has helped us overcome our desire for those things that would destroy us and replaced them with a simple and effective faith that works.

It's in our own best interest to become familiar with AA literature, to know what AA is - and is not. There are Big Book and 12&12 study groups in every country. Attend some, because in our regular meetings we will hear a lot of suggestions not based on our program of recovery. We won't know that unless we know what our program actually teaches.

We must rely on the teachings of AA to keep on track, but accept there is a lot of good stuff heard in meetings that isn't the gospel as taught in AA. If something appeals, and the person sharing it has some AA credibility, don't be afraid to experiment with it.

Like journaling, for instance.
It's a great tool in recovery, and as far as I know there's nothing about it in our literature.

Giving ourselves a gold star (shiny sticky ones are still around) in those same journals whenever we do something good that was difficult for us. Then, when having a bad day, flip back through your journal and read the entry whenever you find a gold star. It won't take more than three stars to remember you've done some hard stuff to be proud of.

Or, the next time someone gives you a pretty blank book, using it to collect inspiring quotes that can also provide a lift of spirits on a down day. (I call mine my sanity books.)

We'll hear about a lot of these various techniques that aren't to be found in our literature - from affirmations to daily exercise - but when used they can help our minds and bodies get healthier. Don't let fear of doing something new and different get in your way.

Seek joy. Be joyfull. Joy is your birthright!


Monday, July 5, 2021

 Made a Decision


(20)                           

                   Growing Up in AA 


"Hey - remember when you were a little kid and couldn't wait to be a grown up? To get to do all those neat things that grown ups get to do?
 "They" didn't tell you about the shitty hard parts, did they? 
            Bastards! 😏"

I sent that exact same message in a lengthy email to a young friend of mine following a sudden life lesson in codependency that had hurled her into a bit of recovery madness, right into the kind of situation that too often sends newcomers back to drinking. 

She got through that lesson with flying colours, BTW. She did so by using all the tools of AA recovery at her disposal ... lots of meetings, talks with her sponsor, reaching out to AA friends, and ultimately the hard part - replacing old familiar bad behaviors with new and healthy ones. 

And what she did is damned hard to do. We can so easily say, "It works when we work it" - and we often do - but it can get very, very hard indeed when we are actually faced with having to DO some of that work.

Our personal "grace period" in AA can run from mere days to even years before we are called upon to actually do the hard work of applying new methods to old problems. But that day does come, and it's never easy.

Old behaviors are as comfortable as old slippers. We can slip into them far easier than we do into new shoes, even when we wouldn't really want anyone to see us wearing our unattractive old comfys out in public. 

It is said that alcoholics stop maturing when they start drinking. Having had to begin my own growing up at 37 instead of following through with that process at 17, I believe it. (Sadly I still remain 20 years behind my non-alcoholic peer group in sooooooo many ways).   

And while some of today's alcoholic-authority-wannabees have debunked central tenets of AA doctrine, including our levels of maturity upon arrival, I know that I arrived in AA exactly as is described on pages 122 & 123 in my copy of our Twelve Steps and Twelve.

 Here's what it says:  " ... When AA was quite young, a number of eminent psychologists and doctors made an exhaustive study of a good-sized group of so-called problem drinkers. The doctors weren't trying to find how different we were from one another; they sought to find whatever personality traits, if any, this group of alcoholics had in common. They finally came up with a conclusion that shocked the AA members of that time. These distinguished men had the nerve to say that most of the alcoholics under investigation were still childish, emotionally sensitive, and grandiose."

Even suffering from those childish, emotional and grandiose handicaps, I still managed to do some of the things non-drinkers did in my 20s and 30s. I got married, had children, began a career, bought property, cars, and all that grown-up stuff. 
But, except for the career part, where I worked my ass off and did very well (for a time) - I was mostly crap at the rest of it.

Drinking put paid to my marriage, made me an impatient mother, cost me friendships, frustrated those who loved me, and eventually found me living with my four children in a two-room flat in my parent's house, driving a beat up clunker of a car, and - ultimately - it cost me my job security. 

I was always an overachiever at my job (perfectionism), but ultimately no employer wants to deal with a continually hungover employee who might - or might not - be able to make it into work.

Starting the growing up process at 30, 40, 50, 60 (or sometimes even older) carries with it problems non-alcoholics generally haven't had to face. 

When we've never dated without a courage-making drink beforehand, or never danced sober, or (the big one) never had sober sex - dating can be a minefield of fear and uncertainty.

Add to that a dash of codependency involving the need for hostage taking and the dating game for many recovering alcoholics sees relationships become a trip that leads straight back to drinking. 
Relationships get started, and ended, on that very slippery ground. Some people don't survive them. 
        Literally.

Pulling someone has more than a few earmarks of ego stroking in it. As in, I am desirable, I am attractive, and so on. (The key word here being "I").  We are all of those things, but we have to learn to actually believe that about ourselves without having someone prove it to us. It takes a bit of work, and a bit of time, but it's worth it. 

(For non-Brits, "pulling someone" is the same as "being on the make" in the states. Or at least it used to be when I was still doing it).

AA friends are the best kind. Male and female AA friends. But it really is best that friendship remain just that until we have a couple of years of sober living under our belts. 
(If needed, buy yourself a good sex toy to take care of that particular need in the meantime.) 
 Throwing ourselves into helping others with their recovery - as our AA literature recommends - is a damned good idea, too.  AA gives us everything we need to examine our motives and actions and then to act in a new and better way. Also, in helping others, we get to learn a lot more about ourselves! 

I once heard in a long-ago meeting, "We attract what we are." 
That scared me! I didn't know very much about me at that time, but I sure as hell knew I didn't want a partner who was anything like me!  Hearing we attract what we are opened up a whole new dimension of working to improve myself, using AA's tool kit. 
 
When we strive to be our best awhile we'll find the people showing up in our life will be of the highest and most supportive quality. They really are worth the wait. 😏 

Love of God, Love of self, only THEN are we really ready for more.
 Patience! It's all about SLOW-briety!!!

But growing up in AA is about much more than relationships. 

In our drinking days many of us used money (especially plastic money) to buy drinks, friends, sex, and "stuff" of all kinds - from expensive vacations to the newest fashions - all without a moment's thought for tomorrow's obligations. So money management, too, becomes part of our goal when growing up in AA.

Time management is another one. No one can mismanage time like an alcoholic. We're either full throttle all the time until we collapse with exhaustion, or we're stuck on procrastinate and never finish anything we set out to do. 
The full-speed-ahead crowd learns over time in AA how to become a human being and just not a human doing.
The procrastinators learn over time in AA how to set aside their worry that they won't do the job at hand perfectly - and then to just do it!

Also:
Grownups don't live on junk food. 
Grownups know that exercise is good for the body and brain, that getting out in the sunshine gets rid of depression. 
Grownups recognize when they find themselves addicted to their phones or Facebook. 
Grownups know when they're spending more time gaming than living. 
Grownups start to recognize when they begin obsessing.
Grownups then take whatever step (or steps) necessary to fix these and similar roadblocks that stop them having their best quality of sober life. 

I realize that in today's blog I sound even more than usual like a preachy old lady. I am one, of course, but I preach only what I know for sure. And I know AA's tool kit of recovery got me safely through many of those same dangerous fires and kept me sober in the process (smoking sometimes, but intact). It will do the same for you! 

We are all on the AA road to becoming grownups, past the crap parts and on to the real benefits being a grownup can bring - loving relationships, terrific friendships, bills paid, fun enjoyed, good mental and physical health, freedom from anxiety ... the list is long and lovely! 

It's all because AA really does work - "When we work it."