‘.. the program is a road not a resting place’……’For life is not flat but a slope upwards’…

‘.. the program is a road not a resting place’……’For life is not flat but a slope upwards’…

I love this. It reminds me that I need to keep working in order for me to keep progressing.

Before recovery I was walking the road through Hell. Not that I knew it, my mind was entirely focused on self. Like tunnel vision I did not notice what was around. I did not notice the destruction that surrounded me, the view was too ugly to bear, I’d rather not look. Neither did I notice the glimmers of beauty that were trying to break through, I had no time to appreciate them, I had a purpose to fulfil. For many, many years I walked down the same road.

In February 2017 I came across a man, he was neither friend nor family but he was willing to help me. He assured me there was a another way and that I didn’t need to continue down the same dubious path. He had been shown another way, a road of recovery. He spoke of a new life, a life of serenity and happiness and he offered to walk with me as long as I was willing to walk the walk. I stood and looked in the direction he was pointing, I couldn’t see what lied ahead (the future is like that) but after decades of experience I knew where my old road was leading so I thought ‘what the hell’ and took a step into the unknown.

What I can say now, is that leap of faith has been the best decision I have made. So unlike me to make a decision like that, I often wonder if I was given a big nudge by a divine hand. Walking the walk has meant dilligent effort on a daily basis but boy it’s worth it, the views are gorgeous. No longer is my vison tunneled. My eyes have been opened and I now look around me with gratitude, I can see the beauty the world has to offer. So beautiful is the world it is often tempting to stop. But the man, who is still with me, tells me things get even better and the slope back down can get slippery if I stay too long. I still have no idea what lies ahead but my belief has turned into faith and my faith is fast turning to trust. I trust that there is a never ending road ahead of me and I trust that the road just gets more and more beautiful. The colours become more vibrant, the good in people becomes more evident, I become more joyous and free. All I need to do is keep walking the walk.

Let’s stick together

My name is *** and I am an addict.

In my experience, when life has thrown a challenge my way, it has effected my motivation to do the next right thing. Suggestions can become lackadaisical, I can start to think about the steps rather than act upon them, meetings can become a chore and my priorities can get turned on their head.

But why? Surely in difficult times it is even more necessary to work a solid program? I know it works if I work it, so why in tough times can I take my foot off the pedal? Truly baffling I can be.

When I do not put in the daily diligent effort I can very easily become resentful and/or fearful. Selfish and dishonest behaviours aren’t far behind. A perilous way for an addict to live.

I am as much an addict as I ever was. This will never not be the case. NEVER. The 20 questions still apply to me now and always will. ALWAYS.

Why am I sharing this now? Because, we are all being challenged in one way or another right now and it appears to be set to last for a considerable amount of time.

It is my belief, that like it or not, us addicts find ourselves in a potentially vulnerable position. Vulnerable to relapse. Vulnerable to causing further harm and destruction to ourselves and our loved ones. BUT only if we allow it too. It DOES NOT have to be that way.

Please consider the following:

– Keep in constant contact with fellows. Reach out to someone who will appreciate your call. Be of service to the fellowships that have done so much for us.

– Attend (in person or online) as many meetings per week. Get things off your chest. Talk about your feelings. Give service by listening to and sharing the message of experience, strength and hope.

– SMASH the suggestions to pieces! Do two gratitude lists if you have to! Mediate three times a day if it helps! Call ten fellows and not just two! Smash them all.

– Pray, pray, pray, pray and pray again to your higher power. If you do not have your own concept of God, choose someone in your life you believe has faith and pray to theirs.

– Do not delay the steps. If it is impossible for you to physically meet with your sponsor, don’t waste any time. We are blessed with technology which allows calls and video calls. Use them.

– If you are interested in sponsorship and willing to go to any lengths then start now! Do not wait, sponsorship has proven it can work from country to country. We are blessed to have many available sponsors who can be (somewhat) flexible in their delivery.

– Be selfless. Think of others less fortunate than you, that includes the elderly, the homeless, our families and everyone not in a fellowship (in my opinion). Even if it’s to listen to them share their feelings and get things off there chest, let’s do what we can.

– Put the effort in on a daily basis. 6 days per week is not enough.

By keeping our foot flat out on the pedal we will improve our chances of being abstinent and reduce the chance of harming others and leaving destruction on our paths. Through God or the simple higher power of the fellowship, we can be the best version of ourselves and of best use to the people around us.

Grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, Courage to change the things we can and the Wisdom to know the difference.

Cyclone Farmer

Back when I thought abstinence was the key to all my troubles, this ‘cyclone’ analogy fitted me perfectly. I genuinely believed once I was clean from gambling everything would be fine. I was definitely unthinking in terms of the extent of destruction I had left behind. Thankfully, I am no longer that farmer. I now work a program involving service, unity and recovery. This action is progressively clearing the debris, repairing the damage, mending broken hearts, strengthening relationships and replanting seeds of affection which now fill my home with love and kindness.

Daily Suggestions

Daily Suggestions

They are daily for a reason.

What if I don’t drink any water today? Does my body hydrate itself?

What happens if I don’t brush my teeth in the morning? Do they clean themselves?

What if I don’t wash my hands with soap? Does the bacteria just jump off?

No

These are but a few “suggestions” that better my physical health. If I don’t do them, it will be to my own physical detriment in some way or another. And the longer I neglect them, the more they disintegrate. They are all suggestions in a sense that nobody forces me to do them, yet I do them day after day. They have become non-negotiable habits.

But what of my spiritual health? The very thing that brings me serenity, humility, courage, acceptance, sanity, happiness, gratitude, honesty, faith, forgiveness and love. Why would I neglect my spiritual growth? Well I did for decades. I was stuck in ‘self’ and quite simply my life as a result wasn’t pretty reading. Not surprisingly, instead of living alongside the strengths above, I constantly lived in the spiritual malady with defects like resentment, fear, selfishness and dishonesty.

A quote on the word ‘spiritual’ from page 28 in the Orange Book reads ‘Simply stated, the word can be said to describe that characteristic of the human mind which is marked by the highest and finest qualities such as generosity, honesty, tolerance and humility.’

In my humble opinion, and bear in mind I know very little, this is what I get in return for embracing, taking advantage of and practicing each suggestion.

Prayer – humility, gratitude, thankfulness, selflessness, faith

Meditation – calmness, open-mindedness, serenity, mindfulness, high mindedness, spirituality

Gratitude List – gratitude, appreciation, serenity, happiness, contentment

Reading – wisdom, knowledge, open-mindedness, inspiration, motivation

Calling my Sponsor – honesty, willingness, commitment, humility, open-mindedness

Calling Two Members – selflessness, generosity, unity, service, love, compassion, kindness

Inventory – honesty, self-honesty, humility, self-evaluation, looking for the good

The Daily Suggestions, as they are fondly known, aren’t just thrown together without any thought. They are proven. They have worked for thousands of others. They each have the ability to take me out of self and better my spiritual health. For obvious reasons, I wouldn’t want to go a day without sleeping, why would I want to skip on suggestions that give so much back?

Spiritual health is not something I can reach, collect the certificate, and then put down again. Like going to the gym, I can’t get spiritually fit, stop working it and expect to stay that way. I need to look after and nurture it. They say ‘faith without works is dead’, well so is my spiritual health. My illness does not stop. To quote a fellow, ‘my illness is always there in the background doing press-ups’ waiting for me to take my foot off the gas.

Hence these suggestions are daily.

Disclaimer – other than the quote from the Orange Book the views above are expressed by me, an addict who cannot manage his own life, they are not the view of any fellowship as a whole, so take it as you please with a big pinch of salt 😉

Terms and conditions – the daily suggestions work best when part of a bigger program including the 12 steps, 2 home meetings with service and sponsorship 😉