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.

“Can we have a chat later?”

This morning I was greeted with that dreaded question…

“Can we have a chat later?”

This is never good news, is it?

Based on personal experience, no, it is not good news. What have I done wrong now? What faults are she going to bring up? What situations can I bring to the table to counter hers? These are just a few of the questions that would be spinning around my head in the meantime. That is if I allowed it to be delayed till ‘later’. Normally, I would insist that she said what she needed to say immediately. Why should I be made to wait and suffer?

Well today, I am grateful to have not reacted this way. How I’ve reacted goes to show how far recovery has taken me.

These are just a few of my thoughts…

– This is probably an opportunity for her to get things off her chest and share how she is feeling. Something I am blessed to do several times a week at meetings.

– This could be an opportunity for me to listen and learn from whatever she has to say. Another chance to progress.

– This could be an opportunity for me to practice strengths of character like tolerance, patience, consideration, love and humility.

– This could be another opportunity for me to make amends if I have caused any harm.

– This is an opportunity for me to use the ‘meantime’ to pray and meditate and prepare myself spiritually, rather than acting on impulse (self).

– This could be an opportunity for her to bear witness to my difficulties being removed and see God’s power shine through.

– This is another opportunity for me to accept the things I cannot change and have the courage to change the things I can.

– This is another opportunity for me to let go and live life on life’s terms.

There is nothing for me to fear. Furthermore, when reality plays out, there is rarely anything to fear in the first place.

In any case, wish me luck 😉

Something new….

Yesterday was the first time in a long, long time I didn’t blog my daily gratitude list. It’s not that I didn’t do one, I just decided not to post it. The lists will continue to be a vital part of my recovery program, but from today, my blog will look somewhat different. I’m not entirely sure what I will blog about, I’ll just have to wait and find out….

Saturday just gone took me and my partner to a friends 40th birthday party. Prior to going we had already resigned ourselves to the fact we were going to have a few drinks and promptly booked a room to assist in our post night out rehabilitation. Both my partner and I are blessed in a sense that we do not (currently) have an issue with drinking alcohol. We don’t drink that much, on average we drink a unit or two every couple of months and nights out like this are a rare occasion.

So Saturday came and went and despite my amateur status I surprisingly held my drink well. I was able to control the amount I was drinking – control being something I cannot exercise in other aspects of my life. As a result, I felt feel physically well (ish) in the morning.

It’s now Monday morning and as I reflect on my Sunday I have realised how much the alcohol had indeed effected me. Although I didn’t suffer with the stereo-typical physical symptoms of a hangover I did suffer spiritually and emotionally. I just wasn’t myself all day. I was argumentative, snappy and bloody lazy! Although the latter can be a common Sunday occurrence.

I’ve always known that alcohol is a drug, but yesterday was the first time I’ve really felt it and admitted it. It shouldn’t be a revelation but like many other ‘in your face obvious things’ I’ve discovered in recovery, it was.

Gratitude List 29/06/2019

Gratitude List 29/06/2019

Today I am grateful for the English weather. Sometimes cold, sometimes hot, sometimes wet, sometimes dry and highly possible to experience all four seasons in one day. But it’s rarely severe to the point lives are lost.

Today I am grateful to be up with the birds and on my way to better myself with some recovery work. An early morning spiritual gym workout!

Today I am grateful my willingness to put in diligent effort is as strong as it was when I started my spiritual journey two and a bit years ago.

Today I am grateful to be able to close my eyes wherever I am (currently on a bus) and improve my conscious contact with God through prayer and meditation.

Today I am grateful for how much God has been speaking to me (through God’s conscience – gut instinct) and for how much I have been listening to him.

Today I am grateful for recently witnessing how recovery has helped people come through some very difficult times. It’s absolutely miraculous.

Today I am grateful for who I am. For my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. My outlook upon my self has completely changed.

Today I am grateful that despite with being happy with who I am, I will not stop working. For two reasons, one I can still progress further – I am no saint, and two if I stop I will surely degress.

Today I am grateful that one thought of recovery and all of a sudden my gratitude list goes off on another spiritual tangen. I started with the weather! Can’t help it! I have so much gratitude for it.

Today I am grateful for all the poeple in my life who have helped shape me into the person I am today. Good or bad experiences, I have learnt from you all.

Gratitude List 28/06/2019

Gratitude List 28/06/2019

Addiction demanded so much of me. It demanded my time, my money, my thoughts, my sanity, my happiness. It demanded dishonesty, selfishness, fear and resentment. It demanded me to break relationships, lose trust and isolate. It demands I get nothing in return. Nothing.

Recovery made no such demands of me, in fact it made suggestions.

Today I am grateful recovery suggests I attend meetings regularly.

Today I am grateful recovery suggests I share how I am feeling.

Today I am grateful recovery suggests I do service at the meetings.

Today I am grateful recovery suggests I work through the 12 steps.

Today I am grateful recovery suggests I do so with a sponsor.

Today I am grateful recovery suggests I carry the message to another.

Today I am grateful recovery suggests I am honest, open-minded and willing.

Today I am grateful recovery suggests I believe in a power greater than myself.

Today I am grateful recovery suggests I am loving, caring and forgiving.

Today I am grateful recovery suggests I complete a simple set of suggestions.

In comparison, these suggestions are far less taxing than the demands gambling made. Truthfully, they’re not taxing at all. They aren’t chores. They are blessed opportunities. Unlike addiction, I get an abundance in return – I get serenity, happiness, hope, humility, trust, maturity, faith, self-esteem, emotional security, purpose, tolerance, love, etc etc etc.

If only these suggestions were demands 😉

👍🏻💪🏻❤😊🙏🏻

Gratitude List 27/06/2019

Gratitude List 27/06/2019

Today I am grateful I took my car in for it’s MOT before it expired!! Woop woop! Responsible me! Haha!

Today I am grateful that not a lot of work needed to be done. I don’t know how. I should really make amends to my car, I’ve caused a lot of harm through neglect over the years.

Today I am grateful I agreed to get the brake pads replaced even if it would have passed the MOT anyway. No way I would’ve done this in the past, I would’ve run the risk!

Today I am grateful for the school run this morning with my daughter. Always has been one of my favourite parts of my day. Saying goodbye always tugs at the heart strings.

Today I am grateful my son is comfortable in our new home. He was more than happy to stay in bed, have a lie in and then make his way home a bit later.

Today I am grateful for the lovely evening we had last night. After dinner we went outside in the garden and just talked. No TV, no phones, just interaction.

Today I am grateful to reach day 4 in my food related abstinence. The obsession is not there at the moment and when it is, I am able to surrender to God’s will.

Today I am grateful for the day ahead of me. If all goes to plan, I’ll finish work mid afternoon and follow it up with several hours of service, recovery and unity.

Today I am grateful for this opportunity. For this void in my day to do this suggestion. I’m grateful I haven’t filled it with something not so positive.

Today I am grateful for the smile on my face, the serenity in my mind and the bounce in my step. It really does work if I work it.