Thursday, 20 August 2009

I burst into tears like a two-year old

I felt under pressure on this one particular day; I had to take part in a very important television interview later in the afternoon and the demands on my time from others who expected immediate attention was becoming unreasonable (but not unbearable). I felt heaviness around my eyes and temple, the kind of heaviness one experiences when you want to cry. And yet I had no reason to want to cry. On the contrary, I’d never felt so much happiness and contentment in my life as I’d been experiencing lately. Was it, perhaps, I wondered, because I had forgotten the importance of leaving a margin on the page of my busy life? Had I been forgetting to give myself some “me” time?

I entered my office and wondered why I felt stressed. For some reason, I was drawn to my bookshelf and to a recent purchase I’d made when the Logos Hope Ship had visited Cardiff - The Life Recovery Bible. A few years ago I was given The Life Recovery Bible as a gift by a friend of mine. Alas, at the time I was still very much a “people pleaser” and had given it to my local church minister, telling him that I felt sure he’d find more use for it than me. I’d always regretted doing than. And when the minister died recently I asked his widow whether the Recovery Bible was still in his library. After a thorough search she informed me it was not.

A few weeks later, however, I visited, with my granddaughters, the Logos Hope Ship in Cardiff dock – a floating source of knowledge, help and hope - and there, in one corner, was a copy of The Life Recovery Bible. I immediately purchased it; and have treasured this purchase ever since.

In my office that morning, I reached for The Life Recovery Bible and flicked through its 1728 pages. For some reason, my finger settled on Numbers 23: verses 18 to 24 (page 204). And I read aloud the following:

‘This was the message Balaam delivered:

“Rise up, Balak, and listen!
Hear me, son of Zippor.
God is not a man, so he does not lie.
He is not human, so he does not change his mind.
Has he ever spoken and failed to act?
Has he ever promised and not carried it through?
Listen, I received a command to bless;
God has blessed, and I cannot reverse it!
No misfortune is in his plan for Jacob;
No trouble is in store for Israel.
For the Lord their God is with them;
He has been proclaimed their king.
God brought them out of Egypt;
For them he is as strong as a wild ox.
No curse can touch Jacob;
No magic has any power against Israel.
For now it will be said of Jacob,
‘What wonders God has done for Israel!’

But well before I’d finished reading the verses, I had burst into tears like a two-year old – tears that led to a deep, deep sobbing. And I found myself mumbling through my tears, “Forgive me Lord; forgive me for not trusting you enough.”

Immediately I was filled with a profound feeling of wellbeing. I knew that everything would be alright. And I knew deep within my soul that I was capable, with God’s help, of confronting the burden of being human. I knew, if God was for me - who possibly could be against me?’

The rest of the day went as it was meant to go – perfectly.

To date, God has never let me down. After that experience in my office that morning, I know he never will.


Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Prayer, Gratitude, Acceptance - emotional balance

Last time I wrote about my recovery journey I said that the daily practice of prayer - asking for guidance for my life and the power to use that guidance - has given me an inner strength. This is step 11 of the 12Step programme. Together with keeping a watch on my behaviour and having the desire to put things right immediately - step 10 - I am able to accept life on a daily basis no matter what it brings.

I am able to stay emotionally balanced which is essential for growing in recovery. I need to be able to control my emotions otherwise they will control me - it is the daily practice of prayer and meditation which helps me to do this.

The other essential part of this daily practice is GRATITUDE! - being grateful for everything I have. I need to be truly grateful every day. The practice of gratitude can transform a negative situation immediately. Making a mental list of everything to be grateful for or even better, writing out a list of everything to be grateful for, can TRANSFORM a situation. It puts things in perspective and calms the emotions. Personally I have never known it to fail. So prayer plus gratitude allows acceptance of whatever life brings which keeps the emotions balanced - essential for recovery.

This daily practice is what I suggest as being ESSENTIAL for growing in recovery and enjoying the wonderful new life which replaces the nightmare of addiction. For me it is an absolute must and I would not dream of going one day without it - why would I when I know the benefits it brings - inner peace, joy and happiness.

I mentioned meditation - for me it is simply a time of silence. I make time to simply sit for a short time every day in silence placing myself in the presence of the loving power of God. This is the listening part of the prayer conversation - allowing God to speak to my heart. I make time for developing my relationship with God. The time of silence allows me to reflect and become aware of myself and my relationship with others. I need this time to detach from the activity of life and just 'be'. This is the suggestion of step 11.

There have been many times in my recovery when I have been presented with very difficult emotional situations which would in the past certainly have resulted in me relieving the pain through alcohol - now when I am in great emotional pain I turn for consolation and strength to the loving power of God instead.

Probably the most difficult situation I have coped with to date in recovery was the sudden death of my youngest sister. We were very close and we often used to meet during her lunch break. We met on the Tuesday and enjoyed being together - she was full of fun and we talked about a wedding she was going to the following week. Little did I know that when I said good bye to her that day that it would be the last good bye. She died in her sleep that night.

I had been given the opportunity to make amends to her - to say sorry for all the awful times that I had behaved badly towards her - and she had forgiven me totally. Please, if you are reading this and there is someone you need to forgive or reconcile with, I urge you to do it today - right now - because tomorrow may be too late.

I went to see my sister in the chapel of rest. I told her how much I loved her and how I would miss her and was truly made aware of how short life is and of how we should try to be kind to each other. It brought home to me the futility of being angry, resentful, of holding on to grudges.

As I checked my phone for messages a short time after my sister's death, I came to the message she had sent me that Tuesday evening - it ended with the words 'I love you'. I love you to my darling sister and I miss you so much.

Love and prayers, Rosie

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Growing in a wonderful new life......

The last time I wrote about my recovery journey through the 12Step programme I had completed Step 9 to the best of my ability - I had said sorry to all those I had hurt.

I had now earned the wonderful new life expressed in 'the promises' of the programme. All the promises have come true for me as they have for thousands of other people - it still takes my breath away when I think about how much I have been given by just being willing, honest and open-minded enough to to complete a simple process! Well, my sponsor did say "It's not a big deal - just do what is suggested."

That is all it took for the desire to drink to be removed from me! WOW! INCREDIBLE - JOYOUS, HAPPY AND FREE AT LAST! AND GUESS WHAT? IT CONTINUES TO GET BETTER AND BETTER! WOW! How? By relying on the loving power of God which has come into my life to continue to be my guide in all things. The loving power which removed my alcohol problem and changed my attitude to life completely.

As promised, I have had the necessary spiritual awakening. Through a daily spiritual practice I have grown in interior strength. This has taken time! It has not happened overnight! Recovery is a healing process which takes time and through the programme, the willingness for me to ask for guidance and direction from God - on a daily basis. This practice influences my thinking, and therefore my actions, in a positive way.

Through the programme I have been given a new design for living based on patience, tolerance, kindness and love. Step 10 is really a 'mini' Step 4-9 on a daily basis. I need to be aware of my thinking and my actions and when I realise I have been at fault - be willing to put the situation right straight away. I am amazed how practice heightens awareness -the result is the conscience rarely allows anything to go unchecked!!

Incorporating this practice with Step 11 - daily prayer - and then reaching out to help others - provides the foundation for emotional balance. The latter is essential to grow in recovery - one day at a time. I will share with you next time I write how prayer has changed my life and how it gave me strength to cope during a very painful emotional experience in my recovery.

Love and prayers, Rosie