Saturday, December 31, 2011

Galatians 1:11

Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ. (NLT)

We used to amuse ourselves by cynically dissecting spiritual beliefs and practices when we might have observed that many spiritually-minded persons of all races, colors, and creeds were demonstrating a degree of stability, happiness and usefulness which we should have sought ourselves. (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 49)

Human reasoning.
If I can't convince myself
right now my own logic
trumps all others,
I look to wisdom
of the elders,
the sages,
the erudite of ages.
Tea leaves, ouija boards,
crystal balls,
divine revelation
feel gullible,
juvenile, naive.
Before tossing bath water,
I should check for babies.

Higher source,
teach me to trust your
higher wisdom.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Galatians 1:10

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. (NIV)

That the man who is making the approach has had the same difficulty, that he obviously knows what he is talking about, that his whole deportment shouts at the new prospect that he is a man with a real answer, that he has no attitude of Holier Than Thou, nothing whatever except the sincere desire to be helpful; that there are no fees to pay, no axes to grind, no people to please, no lectures to be endured – these are the conditions we have found most effective. (Alcoholics Anonymous, pp 18-19)

No people to please – how liberating!
I've tried all my life to please people,
to follow the rules,
to go with the flow,
to not make waves,
to blend in.
I've tried all my life to disappear,
to not be seen
at least not in a bad light,
a way that would reflect badly
on my parents,
my school,
my town,
my profession,
the church
I've now no people to please!
What you think of me
is none of my business!
What God thinks of me —
that's my business.
But when I'm showing up,
asking him to tell me what to do
and doing it,
I'm free!

Free at last, free at last,
thanks, God, I'm free at last.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Galatians 1:9

As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! (NASB)

I seemed to be able to snap back the next morning better than most of my fellow drinkers, who were cursed (or perhaps blessed) with a great deal of morning-after nausea. (Alcoholics Anonymous, "The Doctor's Nightmare")

God as I understand God
loves.  Period.
So, to be accursed?
Invoking supernatural power
to inflict harm, punishment?
God is god, in control,
has no need to call on himself
or his underlings to punish, harm.
Be afflicted with?
That one makes sense. I surely can
and do
curse myself, cause me misery,
agony, separation
from God, from all.
I need the right message,
the one from both Big Books
as my guide.
And when I stray and feel accursed,
it's a blessing, beckoning.

God, let me not curse myself
but always seek your love,
your blessings.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Galatians 1:8

Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. (Galatians 1:8, NLT)

If he is sincerely interested and wants to see you again, ask him to read this book in the interval. After doing that, he must decide for himself whether he wants to go on. He should not be pushed or prodded by you, his wife, or his friends. If he is to find God, the desire must come from within. (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 95) 

Let him go if his chosen path
varies from your own.
You can't sell God, convince folk
you've got God-knowledge 
they must take your word.
Don't claim decoding or the inside ropes
or special knowledge.
Instead state truth, changes in you,
recovery you've found.
What others do is none of my business
even when my heart hurts for them,
aches over their decisions.

God, let me live the message,
be the message,
closely enough
others may want what they see
in me.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Galatians 1:7

...which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. ~ Galatians 1:7 (NIV)

Once confused and baffled by the seeming futility of existence, they show the underlying reasons why they were making heavy going of life. Leaving aside the drink question, they tell why living was so unsatisfactory. They show how the change came over them. When many hundreds of people are able to say that the consciousness of the Presence of God is today the most important fact of their lives, they present a powerful reason why one should have faith. (Alcoholics Anonymous, pages 50-51)

I trust only me
and chase my tail,
follow a trailblazer
to deserts I despise,
flit like a butterfly,
flower to flower to flower,
drift like a balloon
to popular causes,
the thing du jour.
As long as I'm my own
higher power,
or I choose other lower higher powers,
I wander, dissatisfied.
Once I become conscious
of the Presence of God,
I know the path
to all I want or need.

God, sometimes I need 
blinders. When I'm distracted,
nudge me.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Galatians 1:6

I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. (Galatians 1:6, NLT)

Above all, he believed he had acquired such a profound knowledge of the inner workings of his mind and its hidden springs that relapse was unthinkable. Nevertheless, he was drunk in a short time. More baffling still, he could give himself no satisfactory explanation for his fall. (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 26)

From the welcoming arms,
the sense of relief,
the portal to recovery,
shouldn't the path lead only in?
How did I manage to turn,
how did I go back out?
So soon, and without
a thought,
without a reason,
abandoning the hope
I'd found...
I know others who never got back,
who let embarrassment win,
whose pride locked the door.
But some, including me,
made a U-turn
and reentered, determined to stay,
knowing how easy
leaving was,
how glorious staying

God, give me the sense
to stay put
in recovery.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Galatians 1:3-5

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen. (Gal. 1:3-5 NASV)

We are like the passengers of a great liner the moment after rescue from shipwreck when camaraderie, joyousness and democracy pervade the vessel from steerage to Captain's table. (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 17)
Rescued, saved, liberated
from an evil age, from peril
drowning us, engulfing us,
shutting off air and hope.
Rescued from myself,
my obsessions, my fears,
my stuffing down hurt,
my anger at others
for what only I could change.
Grace and peace to us
who, rescued, can now see
the beauty, goodness, joy
all around.
Joyousness and camaraderie
to me who knew no joy,
who felt all alone,
among a cloud of folks 
who loved me.

Thanks – an inadequate trinket
of a word —
for all your gifts and love  

Friday, October 21, 2011

Galatians 1:1-2

Paul, an apostle – sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead – and all the brothers and sisters with me,

To the churches in Galatia: (Gal. 1:1-2, NIV)

Carry this message to other alcoholics! You can help when no one else can. You can secure their confidence when others fail. Remember they are very ill. (Alcoholics Anonymous, page  89)
Carry the message,
spread the word,
an apostle of the good new,
of salvation, 
of freedom
from obsession, 
from fear, from hell. 
Paul didn't let his not walking
Israel hills with the Master
silence his call
to apostleship.
Bill W told the first 100
he didn't write the Steps,
God did – it wasn't subject
to edits.
Isaiah stood in the Temple
the year King Uzziah died
and trembled in the presence 
of Glory but heard the word
and said, "I'm here, send me."
How long? Thousands of years,
Not just them, though. All of

God, I'm ruined, dirty
in your presence, 
as dirty as all around me.
But you speak. Who am I
not to do your bidding?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hearing a Food Report

I was thinking about the fact that you have to read what food myself and others are eating – foods that you are probably abstaining from, and I wanted to let you know I am very appreciative!
Love ya

Actually, getting the food report does the opposite. Any kind of service in OA reinforces our own program. I think the relevant part of the Big Book and an excellent illustration of how it all works begins on page 100 of the Big Book. Incidentally, here's a neat online version of the BB: There's the other at but the anonpress one, you can cut and paste. 

Assuming we are spiritually fit, we can do all sorts of things alcoholics are not supposed to do. People have said we must not go where liquor is served; we must not have it in our homes; we must shun friends who drink; we must avoid moving pictures which show drinking scenes; we must not go into bars; our friends must hide their bottles if we go to their houses; we mustn't think or be reminded about alcohol at all. Our experience shows that this is not necessarily so.
We meet these conditions every day. An alcoholic who cannot meet them, still has an alcoholic mind; there is something the matter with his spiritual status. His only chance for sobriety would be some place like the Greenland Ice Cap, and even there an Eskimo might turn up with a bottle of scotch and ruin everything! Ask any woman who has sent her husband to distant places on the theory he would escape the alcohol problem.
In our belief any scheme of combating alcoholism which proposes to shield the sick man from temptation is doomed to failure. If the alcoholic tries to shield himself he may succeed for a time, but he usually winds up with a bigger explosion than ever. We have tried these methods. These attempts to do the impossible have always failed.
So our rule is not to avoid a place where there is drinking, if we have a legitimate reason for being there.
You will note that we made an important qualification. Therefore, ask yourself on each occasion, "Have I any good social, business, or personal reason for going to this place? Or am I expecting to steal a little vicarious pleasure from the atmosphere of such places?" If you answer these questions satisfactorily, you need have no apprehension. Go or stay away, whichever seems best. But be sure you are on solid spiritual ground before you start and that your motive in going is thoroughly good. Do not think of what you will get out of the occasion. Think of what you can bring to it. But if you are shaky, you had better work with another alcoholic instead!
Why sit with a long face in places where there is drinking, sighing about the good old days. If it is a happy occasion, try to increase the pleasure of those there; if a business occasion, go and attend to your business enthusiastically. If you are with a person who wants to eat in a bar, by all means go along. Let your friends know they are not to change their habits on your account. At a proper time and place explain to all your friends why alcohol disagrees with you. If you do this thoroughly, few people will ask you to drink. While you were drinking, you were withdrawing from life little by little. Now you are getting back into the social life of this world. Don't start to withdraw again just because your friends drink liquor. 
Your job now is to be at the place where you may be of maximum helpfulness to others, so never hesitate to go anywhere if you can be helpful. You should not hesitate to visit the most sordid spot on earth on such an errand. Keep on the firing line of life with these motives and God will keep you unharmed. 
Many of us keep liquor in our homes. We often need it to carry green recruits through a severe hangover Some of us still serve it to our friends provided they are not alcoholic. But some of us think we should not serve liquor to anyone. We never argue this question. We feel that each family, in the light of their own circumstances, ought to decide for themselves. 
We are careful never to show intolerance or hatred of drinking as an institution. Experience shows that such an attitude is not helpful to anyone. Every new alcoholic looks for this spirit among us and is immensely relieved when he finds we are not witch burners. A spirit of intolerance might repel alcoholics whose lives could have been saved, had it not been for such stupidity. We would not even do the cause of temperate drinking any good, for not one drinker in a thousand likes to be told anything about alcohol by one who hates it. 
Some day we hope that Alcoholics Anonymous will help the public to a better realization of the gravity of the alcoholic problem, but we shall be of little use if our attitude is one of bitterness or hostility. Drinkers will not stand for it. 
After all, our problems were of our own making. Bottles were only a symbol. Besides, we have stopped fighting anybody or anything. We have to! (Alcoholics Anonymous, pp 100-103) 
I think that's a pretty darned good description of the state of mind. At a meeting yesterday, one of the speakers made banana pudding and I was amazed (and actually turned off!) by how rich she made it, using condensed milk in it and so many cookies. When it was passed around, I was busy when it was put at my place, took it over to another table, and waved it off when they tried to replace it, and it was all without emotion or feeling. The speaker passed out recipe cards afterwards, and I told her I'm not eating any sugar. And it was all easy and natural and no big deal. 

I was SO amused when I started fixing my lunch on Tuesday, the first day after six whole days of traveling and eating out. I was making a soup out of 6 oz tuna, 8 oz broccoli and cauliflower and water, and a drink of a protein supplement blended with a peach. I grinned when I found myself really looking forward to it and being so glad I was back where I knew what was in it and what the measurements were! I've always before had trouble measuring, but now it's a relief. I'm not a perfectionist, but I get close, and it feels just plain good.

I'm working in my old profession today but in a different level, the same general procedures but not exactly the same, with an unfamiliar script, one I haven't heard much since the '80s and have never spoken. I've made some mistakes – one of them in two different events, one after the other! It's the kind of stress and embarrassment that would have led to wanting to grab something and stick it in my mouth, but I'm only concerned about where to find a microwave to heat the lunch I brought. It's all so wonderful for the food to feel so right. It's worth getting here, I promise you.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Principled Life

Karen Casey, author of Each Day a New Beginning (which has sold over three million copies) and other books including My Story to Yours - A Guided Memoir for Writing Your Recovery Journey which was published this year, has graciously allowed publication of this question and my answer. Thanks, too, to Karen Casey for her cover blurb for A Cloud of Witnesses - Two Big Books and Us by Barbara B. Rollins with OAStepper.

Hi OAStepper,

I read this, am going to sleep, and I'm not exactly sure, but I thought of sending it to you. I don't fully understand it and if you could, would you be willing to shed some light?
I can honestly say that I was never affected by the question of the success of an undertaking. If I felt it was the right thing to do, I was for it regardless of the possible outcome.
—Golda Meir
Living a principled life is what the inner self desires. It’s what God desires. And it’s what the healthier ego desires. Living the program’s principles is giving each of us practice in living a principled life, one that is free of guilt for our shortcomings.
Having principles assures direction. We need not ponder long how to proceed in any situation, what decision to make regarding any matter, when we are guided by principles. They offer us completeness. They help us define who we are and who we will be, in any turn of events.
As women, particularly as recovering women, we have struggled with self-definition. Often we were as others defined us, or we merely imitated those close by. Sometimes we may slip into old behavior and lose sight of who we are and how we want to live. It’s then that the program’s principles come immediately to our aid.
There is no doubt about how today should be lived. I will do it with confidence and joy.

Quoted from the book Each Day a New Beginning.

My response:

What would your life look like as a principled life? It's basically doing the next right thing, but it's doing it without the nagging doubts that plague you. It's not just not asking about the woman your husband was involved with in the past or looking at the phone bill, or any of that obsessive/compulsive stuff you feel drawn to do. It's wanting to do the next right thing, really putting the other stuff as things of the past, of things you cannot control, as none of your business. It is running your business because people need to be the services you offer to live better and reach their own goals. It's helping your customers one at a time, knowing you have time, not wasting it but not worried about time limits set by your employer, knowing God will give you the rhythm to see to clients' real needs, to be of service both to the client and to the employer. 

Your inner self wants peace and serenity more than anything, and this is the way to/result of a principled life. You know the principles of OA, based on the Steps and the Traditions? 

Step One
Step Two
Step Three
Step Four
Step Five
Step Six
Step Seven
Step Eight
Step Nine
Love for others
Step Ten
Step Eleven
Spiritual Awareness
Step Twelve

Tradition One

Tradition Two
Tradition Three
Tradition Four
Tradition Five
Tradition Six
Tradition Seven
Tradition Eight
Tradition Nine
Tradition Ten
Tradition Eleven
Tradition Twelve

You get a principled life, AKA peace and serenity, by living these principles of OA, and this principled life is not only what you want but what God wants for you and what your healthier ego desires. 

Then that kicker, " that is free of guilt for our shortcomings." When you go to bed at night you calmly review your day. You look at a snit you threw in the office, a text message trying to run somebody else's life, being late to an appointment - whatever - and just kind of take it out and look at it, realize  you could have done it differently, that from the calmness of your sitting there thinking about it, you wish you had, but without the anguish of guilt, without the emotional turmoil these realizations always seem to ignite. It's like sorting through a pot of pinto beans you're about to cook and picking out the bad beans, tossing them, meaning accepting that they added nothing, and you trust yourself to get it "right" next time. 

Doing the next right thing doesn't mean you are unorganized and fritter from one thing to another as that instant's circumstances dictate. The interruptions no longer are a new path, but a movement to the side to another aspect that actually was part of the ultimate plan even though you see absolutely no correlation. But when you finish with that diversion and the two following quickly on its heels, you're still on the path and continue to move to the undertaking that feels like the right project, the right direction now. Since you didn't pick the path, you're moving forward at just the right time as long as you're open to guidance. But it's SO much easier. You're not tied up, you have your mind on where you are and what you are doing at the moment, and you know what to do then and there without the emotional roller coaster of taking the weight of the outcome on your shoulders (or in your hands). You've got the guidance you asked for on arising, for knowledge of God's will for your life and the power to carry it out, and the principles as you live them make that knowledge of his will clearer in communication, easier to detect in a moment of crisis or contemplation. 

"They offer us completeness." Isn't that an AMAZING sentence? You and your husband have made decisions about where to live, where to work, and what you want to build for the future while working programs. As you work more, get more enlightenment, that may evolve somewhat, but you know the general direction, and the evolution comes from God and is the right thing. Unless it doesn't, and then you're not comfortable with it, your stomach tightens when you move that way. 

Have you got any questions about how you struggled with self-definniton? Neither do I (as to me). Do you doubt you've taken your self-definition from your mother or your father or husband or others? When you acted like someone you thought had it all together, it wasn't the same as "act as if" unless that was a person in program who had what you wanted and you were taking guidance that came from God, perhaps through that very person. Slipping into old behavior... yeah. We ALL do it, not just you. Really! That's when you get the power from the principles and live a principled life to get back to the serenity and peace.

Monday, September 26, 2011


This is not a blog for selling, for promoting. Yet, I know those of you who have read Slender Steps of Sanity - Twelve Step Notes of Hope will want to know I have another book, in which the primary author is Barbara B. Rollins, with me, OAStepper. The book first arrived in the publisher's office last Wednesday, and already sales are brisk. But that's not the purpose of this blog, as I said. The publisher is Eagle Wings Press (imprint of Silver Boomer Books) and you can get it at bookstores and online.

I want to talk about the title, though, and what it means to me in my recovery. The phrase is from the book of Hebrews, where chapter twelve, verse one reads (with verses two and three):
    Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (NIV, ©2011 by Biblica)
"A great cloud of witnesses" – how expressive is that! The Contemporary English Version of the Bible uses the term "crowd of witnesses," as does the Good News Translation, but they are paraphrases. The idea of a cloud of witnesses certainly carries more of a zing, gets attention better. (However, the word crowd does carry the message of the passage.) Commentaries declare the meaning to be as in the Greek races with masses of people participating, then those who have finished stand on the sidelines and cheer on the others, helping them to finish. That, to me, is the epitome of Overeaters Anonymous. We've run a solo race for so long, and we couldn't do it, limped along struggled, gave up. But with the program, suddenly we're not alone and people care about us! Not only do the seasoned members, but newcomers walking in the door catch the spirit and cheer us on as well. So that part of the title represents the fellowship in Overeaters Anonymous. The subtitle, though, is necessary as well: Two Big Books and Us. Recovery is not just about the group. If it were, those other organizations we tried first would have been just fine. No, it's a spiritual program of twelve simple (but not easy) Steps. The two big books, of course, are the Bible, which for me is the message of my Higher Power, God, and the Big Book,  Alcoholics Anonymous. You don't have to read the book (though to be honest, I think you should) but do get the grace and power inherent in the title of the book.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Ninth Tradition

9.   OA, as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve. (O.A. Tradition 9)
My list said I should post here today. Uninspired, I decided to pick up OA literature and find a subject. Choosing the OA 12 and 12 (aka The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous) I chose the 9th tradition in honor of the 9th month, not knowing what it was. I got there, and as always, the 9th tradition makes me smile. That's because I've observed something of OA past the group level. While groups do tend not to be organized, the service bodies can get funny. To be truthful, they feel vastly OVER organized to me since I don't like formal meetings.

Actually, my list of things to do today included more than posting to It also speaks of getting someone to tape an event about seven months off, to email a number of leaders in OA on the Intergroup level, and to prepare for our local Intergroup meeting I'll need to miss next weekend. It's also got contacting another service body in another fellowship, trying to communicate with them about some tapes I made a year and a half ago that we'd like to make more public. I'm trying to organize me, which is tough and needs to be done lots more than organizing OA beyond the local group level.

Hum. Listen to what I said. That's the message for this post, what I need to hear. I hope you do understand I use my writing about recovery most of the time to talk to myself. My thoughts flitter away, totally unorganized, so if I'm going to know what my thoughts are about any subject, I have to write. (And since I can't ready my handwriting and actually write much better typing than by hand, it's always on a computer.)

Traditions are not just about how to run the business of OA. They also have a personal dynamic. To quote a Narcotics Anonymous service body:
The 12 Traditions describe the external environment (the surroundings of, and influences on, a particular item) that is required for a Narcotics Anonymous Meeting, Group, and Service Structure to exist. The Traditions do not describe a process of recovery. The process of recovery is outlined in the 12 Steps. The 12 Traditions describe the primary purpose, collective need, requirements for membership and service, priorities, and restrictions necessary for the process of the 12 Steps to occur in an NA Meeting, within the NA Group, or any services performed by Service Boards and Committees that are formed by the Groups. While the 12 Traditions are commonly regarded as the rules and regulations of NA, they are actually a set of Spiritual Principals that create the perfect environment for the spiritual process of the 12 Steps to be shared between Addicts, Groups, and the Fellowship as a whole. This same set of Spiritual Principals can also be adapted and used to create a healthy environment within our families, workplace, and in the community.
"They are actually a set of Spiritual Principals that create the perfect environment for the spiritual process of the 12 Steps to be shared...[and] can also be adapted and used to create a healthy environment within our families, workplace, and in the community." Yes. Living the traditions in relationships with others makes good sense. But my issues at this point are more about dealing with myself. I certainly have other groups, but it's just me I need to see to today. I'll see other people at a meeting this afternoon, but up until that point I have no planned interaction with any other person. And most of that time I'll be physically alone. After the meeting, I'll go home and be physically alone again. At this point I need to apply the program not to my groups but to me, myself and I – the only group I'm normally with right now.

There was an OA retreat for the Silicon Valley group on living the traditions, and they get closer to what I'm trying to ferret out for me today. They suggest the principle for the 9th tradition as it applies to me is responsible organization, not formally organized. Yes. That's what I need right now. I've told you of my list of things to do today - going back to an iProcrastinate app I hadn't used for a while. And certainly it's a tool, but my goal for the day can't be checking off everything on that app. It has to be living a meaningful life, being in turn with what God wants me to be doing today, and DOING that.

Okay. I've got other things I need to address today. And now I'll address them because they're the next right thing to do, not that they need to be checked off the calendar on the app. Thanks, God, for leading me here. What can I do for you next?

Saturday, July 30, 2011


I learned a new word today. Preceptor. It shouldn't be a new word. Know why? Because it's in Overeaters Anonymous, 2nd edition. The Acknowledgement begins:
This book would not be possible without our great preceptor, Alcoholics Anonymous. 
My dictionary simply defines the word as "a teacher or instructor." Obviously, though, the word is derived from "precept" which gives a deeper understanding of the role of a preceptor. Merriam-Webster says a precept is:
  1. : a command or principle intended especially as a general rule of action
  2. : an order issued by legally constituted authority to a subordinate official
So, the teacher, the giver of precepts, the educator is the general rule of action, or as the Big Book says, the basic textbook, the lesson plan, the curriculum of the Twelve Steps. "Legally constituted authority" rings of the lesson on pages 60 and 61 talking about, "Most people try to live by self-propulsion," and "if only people would do as he wished, the show would be great."

I'm not in charge. My only job is to turn my life and my will over to the care of God as I understand him and to seek only to know His will for my life and to have the power to carry that out.

May the Twelve Steps be my preceptor today, this day, the only day I have.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Awesome Reading this Morning

No, it's not OA material. It's not even Al-Anon approved, but it is Al-Anon. And Powerful.

"Sobriety means getting rid of the bottle and the baby." Those words are from a physician who directs a fine alcoholism treatment center. What does he mean? The still-sick alcoholic not only has a problem with alcohol, but with immaturity -- to the point of infantile social behavior.
One of the ways this irresponsibility manifests itself is in the alcoholic's high degree of selfishness -- an infantile narcissism which means that, after the booze, he is the important one. It's a long way down the line before anyone or anything else is truly important, except that which helps him get momentarily puffed up -- serving his illusions of grandeur. This is not an exaggeration of facts, merely a statement of them as they are, part and parcel of his disease....
Unfortunately, the facts don't seem to indicate he's going to, on his own, have a great change of heart and become a caring person. The facts say he is a very sick man, not just occasionally, but always, as long as he drinks -- and that his disease is a progressive one. This means he will most definitely be getting sicker if he does not get well. It further means he will be in even worse shape to help you, should you become ill. 
There is one paradoxical fact that could, and would improve the situation  for you. The sooner you stop centering your life around him; the sooner you give his whole disease back to him; the sooner you let go of his problem; the better chances will be that he will treat you well!
Getting them Sober, Vol. 1 by Toby Rice Drews, pages 91-92

I think the sample I copied is legal under the fair use doctrine. But even if it exceeds those lengths, I need to write it here for me and for others. The book is copyright 1980 and out of print, but it's worth getting it and the sequels on EBay or any way you can. 

So, why does this Al-Anon advice ring true to me? Let me count the ways:
  1. As soon as I'm back in my disease, I'm acting childishly and the center of my universe is ME.
  2. Those I care for who are not in the program who belittle me and disdain me are acting this out -- they're not intentionally saying I mean nothing, they just don't see it, don't get down that far on the list very often if at all. 
  3. When I have spent my life as a people-pleaser, being the childish person who picks wildflowers and brings them inside fifty times because the first time they got a smile and a kind word, persisting in the behaviors that are supposed to please, expected to create a smile -- just don't. And never will.
  4. My creating a distance, stopping feeling like "The Help" not only isn't selfish, it's beneficial to the other -- when and if the "other" gets over his pity-party.
  5. And that last sentence. The last phase. What I've spent decades trying for. I've been trying all wrong.
  6. That's the big one. That's the thing I cannot change. God, give me wisdom! And serenity!

Thursday, May 5, 2011


I have a couple of blogs - this and another in my name. And I've made a commitment to a third, DAILY. That's a big step. But it's something I need to do. It does commit me to recovery writing, though the other author and I have a stash of material we can start with. That will run out, though. The other blog can be found two ways: or

I guess where I am right now is the recovery saying, "I can't, God can, I think I'll let him." I've got so many irons in the fire, how DARE I do this? But it feels right, and I didn't think I could do what I'm doing right now. Speaking of that, I have a major commitment I said I would do last night, and I came to the office this morning intending to do it first thing. But it's an hour before noon, and I will do it. Now. The big things are so much more intimidating before we jump in. And that's what commitment is, whether it's to blog or to write or to chair a major undertaking. And I'm committed. So I'm jumping in. Come along for the ride!

Saturday, April 30, 2011


I sat down this morning, the end of April, and accidentally clicked "Edit Posts" rather than create. I found this from two months ago that evidently I never posted. So I'll read and finalize or toss it. Let's see what happens...
Pipes get blocked. Blood vessels get blocked. Recovery gets blocked.
Though our decision was a vital and crucial step, it could have little permanent effect unless at once folowed by a strenuous effort to face, and to be rid of, the things in ourselves which had been blocking us. (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 64)
We hope you are convinced now that God can remove whatever self-will has blocked you off from Him. (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 71)
How does Recovery get unblocked? How do pipes and blood vessels get unblocked? A Roto-Rooter. Angioplasty. "If you have already made a decision, and an inventory of your grosser handicaps, you have made a good beginning. That being so you have swallowed and digested some big chunks of truth about yourself." (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 71.) Steps Three and Four - for a start.
Obviously I would have elaborated further. But at this point I don't see the need. I'll hit "publish" and come back and write what's on my mind this morning.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Decision time

I'm working on the new book, A Cloud of Witnesses - Two Big Books and Us by Barbara B. Rollins with OAStepper. It's decision time, cutting out time. And my words are my children, hard to let go of. These didn't make the cut, so I'm sharing them with you now. May God be with you and may these words go where they need to be today.

Hebrews 1:13-14
And God never said to any of the angels,
“Sit in the place of honor at my right hand

until I humble your enemies,

making them a footstool under your feet.”
Therefore, angels are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation. (NLT)

Angels are servants,
only servants,
like second class,
like riffraff.
Guardian angels,
a real angel,
as sweet as an angel,
gone to be with the angels,
with the riffraff? With servants?
Perspective’s everything.
When speaking of one higher than angels,
how high they are
fades in importance.
I’m okay. I’m fine.
Even if I’m lesser, riffraff when contrasted
that doesn’t mean I’m not fine, high enough
not real.

God, enough of my ladder,
folks higher, lower,
none on my rung.
I’m lonely. Enough with
knowing about, not knowing.

Hebrews 2:14
Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. (NLT)

Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 146
After your man has gone along without drinking for a few months, you may be able to make use of his services with other employees who are giving you the alcoholic run-around… An alcoholic who has recovered, but holds a relatively unimportant job, can talk to a man with a better position. Being on a radically different basis of life, he will never take advantage of the situation.

Same, same;
different, different.
Same, different,
different same.
Some differences matter – big time.
Others flavor.
You tell me it’s fine to have just a bit,
I’ve earned it, I’ve done so well.
You’ve no idea what a snippet would do,
how total debacle would follow.
You have to be like me
to understand me,
to gain my trust in my insanity
with my recovery.

God, thanks for putting people in my life
who’ve walked this path,
who lead me to recovery and to you.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Incremental Growth

I remember, years ago, when we had someone plant the pine tree. We moved here in 1994, and sometime - I'm reasonably sure within a year - Biff planted a twig he called a pine tree. I don't think it was a foot tall, and I know for certain some of the weeds I mowed down today were larger that that tree. But while mowing I was startled by a sight - a pine cone. From that tree. It's really been a tree for a long time, but the cones I've noticed before were anemic little things. This one wasn't! When did that happen?
I've become aware of changes in me. Not changes happening, but realized transfigurations. The very act of mowing was one. Previously, I would have tentatively proposed the project to hubby, not wanting to offend, having an aversion of taking a task he might possibly have hired out or planned to do soon. And I know my bringing it up would have been, in some frames of mind, asking permission to make a decision, and in others, trying to go the extra mile to earn praise or recognition or acknowledgment. But I did it because I'd grown embarrassed by the yard. Even the house next door, normally by a totally derelict appearance making ours shine as a potential show home, boasted a more manicured lawn.

In other situations, with other people, I'm asserting a leadership role, no longer anxious to avoid offending at all costs some possible idea, unexpressed, obscure, and - truth be told - unlikely to occur in anyone's imagination but my fertile garden of what-ifs.

As to abstinence, after the initial year of pink-cloud eating, emotions roiled, and old habits inched their way back in. Abstinence from early 2008 until early 2011 was the white-knuckle variety, something I'm as good at now as I was all those years from age 13 to almost 60 which I was on a "diet" - steadily gaining most years, reaching that awful 300 pounds on a doctor's scales. I worked with my sponsor, and she pointed out a pattern I hadn't detected. I'd do pretty darned good white-knuckling it for a month. Then the old "reward due" attitude would butt in, and for a few days nobody would have seen my eating as having any redeeming qualities. Remorse came quickly, especially as the depredation grew with subsequent slipping periods, and another month would begin. I didn't gain substantial weight back, was truly on a food plan many more days than not, but self-esteem was a word in the dictionary, nothing with which I was even slightly acquainted.

Then something happened. I didn't know it at the time - no "scales... fell from my eyes," no significance "burst upon me." Instead, it was a "different footing," "roots in a new soil." (Quotes from page 12, Alcoholics Anonymous.) But some time in late January, I got it. I found out how to surrender, how to let go. I learned there's no effort in abstinence, just accepting the rules laid down for me by a benevolent friend whose knowledge and insight know no bounds. My roots are firmly planted in rich loam. Thank God!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Restless, Irritable, Discontented

I'm scheduled to speak at a meeting tomorrow. While I know it's not a time to prepare a speech (meaning to figure out how to show myself in the best light) not to have thought about it, to have invited God's input for preparation, is wrong. I don't know where the collection of my pictures I had got off to, so I printed out some more today. It's good to look at them. And it's good to see the others, the ones during recovery, that show the distance I still have to go toward a normal body weight. My abstinence has been good since January, and the scales and clothes show it, but not fast enough for me ego, which, of course, needs to be dumped.

What do I have to share? I do have recovery that's awesome, and I am in the midst of taking quantum leaps forward in recovery. That's the reason for the subject I wrote for this post - yesterday. It's been my state all week. The reason, as I understand it, is the growth itself. I'm addicted to a person, just as much as I am to food, to compulsive overeating. I've had him in the role of my higher power for years and years and decades. At this point I'm trying to move him out of that slot so God has room to take it. I can't move him out, but I can avoid worshipping at the pagan shrine. How can I do that? My current course is to utilize the mantra, "Say what you mean, mean what you say, and don't say it mean." Just this evening, he asked me if I had put an orange in the refrigerator, and I said no. So he suggested I put it in the freezer. Then later he asked for it and only then did I realize he had intended the orange sodas he bought, not a piece of fruit. His anger at my doing the wrong thing when he could easily - as easily as I could - have placed it there and gotten it out was not fair - as if that had ever made a difference in our relationship. Yet he's bitter at me for not doing it right. I thought it was an unusual request. And yes, I could have figured it out - I finally did. But in the past I would have bought into the guilt he threw at me. It's not my guilt. We went further, with him criticizing my life, my not staying in his presence, and that only, all day every day. I sit here with the fear still there, but not the recrimination. I'm finally growing up, finally realizing the next rung of recovery and delivered promises. But it's not fun, at all!

For Today this morning said, ‎"It is not easy to risk failure in plain view of those who wait smugly on the sidelines. To be thought foolish or insane could well start an avalanche of negative self-judgments. But as I grow, I become more willing to venture out of my cocoon." (p. 99) I did. I ventured out of my cocoon. A little. I'll move more tomorrow, and each day, one day at a time.

And yes, I'm restless, irritable, and discontented. It comes from feeling my feelings, from not denying them. It results when I realize what I've missed out on for so many years, in so many different ways. Affection, acceptance, respect, attraction, affirmation, confidence, confiding. Trust. I'm grieving for a life that could have been, but I have to offer the hard-won understanding that each of us is responsible for our own recovery, for our own life. Nothing I could do would be good enough, would elicit the acceptance I crave. Not from a broken person. But an unbroken God and a fellowship of sick people, recovering from insanity like mine, can fill me so full of acceptance, I find surfeit at last.