Windows of Opportunities

Windows of Opportunities

My experience in the fellowship has been one full of opportunities. I have taken many but missed many too. Nearly every time, the window of opportunity opens up before me without warning and if I don’t take the leap of faith and grab it with both hands, before I know it, the window will close and the opportunity will be gone. Through trial and error, I have learnt the importance of taking these opportunities as soon as they present themselves.

This is best summed up in my experience of getting a sponsor. A taken opportunity that has turned my life around.

I came back to the meetings in September 2016 after relapsing from several years of abstinence. At that point, I was a mess, I had found another rock bottom, I had caused a huge amount of harm to the ones I love and I would’ve done anything to stop. I had ‘the gift of desperation’. Had I been directly offered sponsorship on that first meeting back I may have taken it. (It should be noted, unlike today, the chances of being offered sponsorship on your first meeting was slim at best) For me, I can say with a degree of certainty that first window closed on me with the serenity prayer that very same evening. Why? Because the magic of that meeting worked, the obsession to gamble lifted, I felt better, I felt strong, I felt recovered, I was cured. I didn’t need the steps and sponsorship. Life was great again. Window closed. Clearly the obsession that I am not an addict got the better of me once again.

For others, that gift of desperation may have lasted for another week or two. Everyone is different, but it is my belief that sooner or later the window will close. I had to wait another 6 months before this particular window reopened. Thankfully I kept ‘coming back’ to meetings. Eventually, the consistent message of recovery coincided with another gift of desperation in the form of a sudden realisation that I, despite my past and present abstinence, had not changed a single bit. I was still the same fearful, resentful, lustful, dishonest person. I didn’t like who I was, gambling or not, and I was desperate for change. The window was ajar for the second time.

That evening, I never had the courage to ask for a sponsor but I gave the most honest and desperate share of my life. At the end of the meeting, and before the window shut in my face again, God placed before me my sponsor, who promptly proceeded to give me a clear idea of what being a sponsee entailed. I’m genuinely not sure what came over me, but despite my many reservations, I took that leap of faith, something I had never done before, and took the opportunity that presented itself. Had I not, I have no idea how long that window of opportunity would have stayed open. Knowing me, not long.

This is just one of many examples. Some windows come along every few months or so, some on a weekly basis and some every single day. Whether it be an opportunity to attend an extra meeting, or reach out to a struggling member, or make amends to someone I’ve harmed, or tell someone I love them, I try to take the opportunity before it disappears for some reason or another – because it will.

When God speaks to me, however I hear his words, I need to act before the idea of not doing so becomes an overpowering comfortable one.

Windows of Opportunities….. I assume they call it Windows because they open……. And close.

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Update….

Further to yesterday “Can we have a chat later?”

So yesterday’s chat came and went. The content of the conversation was what I expected. I can say with a degree of certainty, based on personal experience, that had that conversation happened maybe a year ago, maybe even less, the way I reacted to it and the way the conversation flowed would have been completely different. I am not going to go into the nitty-gritty of what was spoken but it’s safe to say my old self would have hated the situation. Defects of character would have burst out of me like fireworks – arrogance, Intolerance, impatience, anger, self pity, judgement. These are just a few. Yesterday I spoke of how different my thoughts and feelings were in the build up to this conversation. I felt incredibly connected yesterday and it’s this connection that enabled me to think like that. Because the preceding hours weren’t filled with fear and self I was able to prepare spiritually and put into practice all of what the 12 steps have taught me. Subsequently none of those defects of character came out. Instead I sat, I listened, I really listened, I considered, I understood and I learnt a great deal. No harm was felt and none was caused. Feeling very blessed.

Gratitude List 29/05/2019: Again and again

Gratitude List 29/05/2019

Again and again.

A very thought provoking piece of writing that was shared yesterday, made me think of all the things I currently do to acknowledge and respect my powerlessness over certain things. The idea behind it, as I understand, is by taking on specific actions I am once again admitting my powerlessness over my compulsions. And these humbling acts can be the difference between me staying clean and me ‘acting out’. For each one I am very grateful.

Today I am grateful for picking up the phone and calling my sponsor. By doing so I am asking for help, admitting again and again that I am powerless over my addictions and that my life is unmanageable.

Today I am grateful for writing this list. By doing so I am practicing gratitude, admitting again and again that I am powerless over my addictions and that my life is unmanageable.

Today I am grateful for reading some recovery based literature. By doing so I am learning more and more, admitting again and again that I am powerless over my addictions and that my life is unmanageable.

Today I am grateful for completing a daily inventory. By doing so I am having an honest and fair look at myself, admitting again and again that I am powerless over my addictions and that my life is unmanageable.

Today I am grateful for calling two members. By doing so I am uniting with fellows, admitting again and again that I am powerless over my addictions and that my life is unmanageable.

Today I am grateful for prayer. By doing so I am handing my will over to my greater power, asking for His guidance and strength, admitting again and again that I am powerless over my addictions and that my life is unmanageable.

Today I am grateful for meditation. By doing so I am taking the time to improve my conscious contact with my greater power while I open up my heart and mind to Him, admitting again and again that I am powerless over my addictions and that my life is unmanageable.

Today I am grateful for attending meetings. By doing so I am practicing unity, hearing and sharing what I need to, as well as contributing to the welfare of the meeting and the fellowship as a whole, admitting again and again that I am powerless over my addictions and that my life is unmanageable.

Today I am grateful for working the steps in my daily life. By doing so I am changing who I am, admitting again and again that I am powerless over my addictions and that my life is unmanageable.

Today I am grateful for taking on service. By doing so I am being selfless as I think of others, admitting again and again that I am powerless over my addictions and that my life is unmanageable.

Gratitude List 13/05/2019: Sometimes I forget.

Gratitude List 13/05/2019

Sometimes I forget.

Today I am grateful I remembered I am never alone.

Today I am grateful to have a power greater than myself. A power that gives me acceptance when expectations arise.

Today I am grateful to have a power greater than myself. A power that gives me courage when fear creeps in.

Today I am grateful to have a power greater than myself. A power that gives me wisdom when there is choice.

Today I am grateful to have a power greater than myself. A power that gives me guidance through difficult times.

Today I am grateful to have a power greater than myself. A power that gives me tolerance when I am tested.

Today I am grateful to have a power greater than myself. A power that is all forgiving when things could’ve gone better.

Today I am grateful to have a power greater than myself. A power that lifts my obsession to feed any addictions.

Today I am grateful to have a power greater than myself. A power that is always there for me.

Today I am grateful to have a power greater than myself. A power that kicks my self-run ego’s arse!

🙏🏻😊👍🏻💪🏻❤

Gratitude List 08/05/2019: Hard truths

Gratitude List 08/05/2019

Despite the surge of judgement, self-pity, self-centeredness, resentment, anger and arrogance….

Today I am grateful I am able to hear some hard truths.

Today I am grateful for another’s courage to deliver them.

Today I am grateful for honesty.

Today I am grateful I can quickly park any ill feelings.

Today I am grateful for big servings of humble pie.

Today I am grateful for another lesson learnt.

Today I am grateful I know how to deal with arising fears.

Today I am grateful for guidance and strength.

Today I am grateful for the guided plan.

Today I am grateful for doing what is right today and only today.

Gratitude List 02/05/2019: Never alone

Gratitude List 02/05/2019

Today I am grateful I am not alone and as a result I do not have to deal with everything by myself.

Today I am grateful I have a sponsor who I trust and respect in so many ways.

Today I am grateful for my sponsees who have no idea what their recovery and regular contact does for me.

Today I am grateful I have an abundance of like minded fellows, all of whom I feel comfortable opening up to.

Today I am grateful I have my girlfriend, who as a result of our honest relationship, is always willing to lend an understanding and supporting ear.

Today I am grateful to have a family, all of whom live close by. Again, my openness means I can reach out to them.

Today I am grateful to have friends outside the fellowship. There are a few special people I have known for a long time, true friends I can confide in.

Today I am grateful I have God in my life. A power greater than me who’s guidance and strength is always there if and when I seek it.

Today I am grateful I feel part of mankind. I see life all around me and feel connected to it. In truth, I’m never alone.

Today I am grateful I have what I have. I have felt what it’s like to have no one to turn to, no one to understand, no one to support, no one to guide, no one to believe in. I witness others struggling with the same feeling- there’s no outlet for them, if only they had what I have laid at my feet. I am truly blessed.

Gratitude List 27/04/2019: Falling Short

Gratitude List 27/04/2019

“Suppose we fall short of the chosen ideal and stumble? Does this mean we are going to get drunk? Some people tell us so. But this is only a half-truth. It depends on us and on our motives. If we are sorry for what we have done, and have the honest desire to let God take us to better things, we believe we will be forgiven and will have learned our lesson. If we are not sorry, and our conduct continues to harm others, we are quite sure to drink. We are not theorizing. These are facts out of our experience. “

Alcoholics Anonymous, PG. 70

Today I am grateful I have a better idea of what ‘the chosen ideal’ is. Without this knowledge I’d be in denial.

Today I am grateful I have the humility to honestly admit when I have fallen short.

Today I am grateful that personal experience has proven these falls do not automatically lead to a relapse and that a lot will depend on my response.

Today I am grateful I do ask God, as I understand Him, for forgiveness, praying only for knowledge of His will and the power to carry it out. I do this on a daily basis.

Today I am grateful that I believe God has forgiven me each and every time and will continue to do so as long as there’s an honest desire on my behalf.

Today I am grateful that I do take these falls as an opportunity to learn, improve myself and equip myself for the future.

Today I am grateful I am under no illusion that if I am not sorry and I continue a conduct that will harm others, including myself, then a relapse is inevitable.

Today I am grateful I don’t have theorize! I don’t want to decide what’s right and what’s wrong. I’m no good at it anyway. The facts are there in clear view if I wish to see them.

Today I am grateful for those who share their own falls. If I truly listen without judgement, I can learn from them – I don’t have to go through the same terrifying experiences to prove it.