12-step recovery for those of us who love alcoholics or addicts. We share our experience, strength, and hope as we use the principles of the Al-Anon program in our lives. We talk openly and honestly about the problems and challenges as we face alcoholism and addiction in our friends and relatives. We share the tools and solutions we have found that let us live a life that is serene, happy, and free, even when the alcoholic or addict is still drinking or using.
Step 3 asks us to “make a decision” to turn our will to the care of a higher power. Why is this so hard for many of us?
I looked back over 15 years at the 3 times I have worked step 3, and found the answers I wrote in 2002, 2011, and 2017 for these questions about making a decision.
* Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
* How do I feel about turning my life over to a Higher Power for guidance?
* How do I know who or what my Higher Power is?
* Am I willing to turn my problems over? What could help me be willing?
* How can I stop thinking, trying, and considering, and actually make a decision?
* Have I had a problem making decisions in my life? Give examples.
If I am unable to make a decision, what holds me back?
How would you answer these questions? Share your responses so we can read them in a future episode.
Upcoming are two more parent episodes. For one episode, please share your experience, strength, and hope about being the parent of an alcoholic or addict. For the other, how has recovery changed the way you are a parent? Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
Audio versions of three Al-Anon books are now available:
The Al-Anon online store has links to purchase the books from Audible, Amazon, or iTunes. Here are direct links to purchase them through Amazon: One Day at a Time in Al-Anon, How Al-Anon Works, Courage to Change: One Day at a Time in Al-Anon II.
A description of the “persistent illusion” can be found in the book Alcoholics Anonymous starting on page 30. Here is one online copy that you can read.
The original “3rd Step Prayer” and several variants of it can be found at the “Friends of Bill W.” website.
A listener asked about the song “Drowning’s Better (with your friends)”, which can be found at the Bandcamp page for Misty Lyn and the Big Beautiful.
Music from the show
Just Decide by I Fight Dragons
Free to Decide by The Cranberries
Choose by Hightown Parade
More songs about making decisions are in this Spotify playlist.
Jan. 10, 2018
Are you the sober parent in an alcoholic family? What challenges have you faced? How has recovery helped you?
* What challenges do you face as the sober parent?
* Keeping your children safe
* Making decisions about how to parent. What happens when you disagree?
* Taking everything on.
* Anger, rage and anxiety.
* “Parenting” your spouse?
* Jealousy/resentment of the “fun parent.”
* Attributing all “problems” to alcoholism.
* Not know what “normal” is. Or what “healthy” is.
* Trying to parent together when you don’t feel strong in your marriage… or when its actually breaking/broken.
* Protecting anonymity while being honest on medical and education paperwork for my children
* Traveling for work and setting expectations for care of our kids knowing I really have no control over whether or not my wishes/expectations are upheld
* Not having control. Allowing kids to ride in the car or even just be at home alone with the alcoholic parent.
* How did you react to these before recovery?
* Resentment – LOTS
* Snide, snarky comments to spouse, spitefulness
* Anger, particularly misdirected anger
* Guilt and self-loathing
* All or nothing attitude/perspective
* Relentless pursuit of “agreement” or seeing my viewpoint
* Lack of trust
* How has recovery changed the way in which you face these challenges?
* Living one day/one hour/one minute at a time.
* Setting boundaries
* Focus on myself… self-care, self-inventory, stay in my hula hoop
* Crazy thought train doesn’t stay as long
* Awareness of my anxiety and anger
* Learning to pause.
* Not as hard on myself
* I don’t always feel compelled to make decisions right away
* I’m learning to let go of outcomes
* I’m learning the difference between true issues/problems and simply unmet expectations
* I apply program to my actions on a daily basis (first things first, how important is it, HALT, etc.)
* What is a typical day like now?
* More loving behavior with my spouse.
* More patience
* Make amends to my kids whenever necessary
* I hear from my Higher Power through my children
* More loving and accepting of myself and more compassionate toward my spouse, which creates a more peaceful environment
* Imperfect – some days i feel like i’m right back where i started, but that doesn’t last as long
* How do you face the fears and worries that you have for your children?
* How do my children see me? My spouse?
* How can I be the parent my children need? The parent they want?
* How can I not transmit my resentment and anger at my spouse to my children?
* But: fear of what’s to come in my children’s lives.
* What tools do I want to give to my children?
* God Box (kind words, deep breaths)
* Acceptance of their emotions
* A parent who is approachable and thoughtfully responds rather than reacts
Upcoming topics include parenting an alcoholic/addict child, and how recovery has changed the way in which you are a parent. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email email@example.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
Music from the show
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young: Teach Your Children
David Haas: The God of Second Chances
Jan. 2, 2018
Begin the new year in stillness, in contemplation of the year past and the year to come.
* What do you want to let go of from the last year?
* Write it down. Destroy what you have written (burn it, dissolve it in water, or crumple it up and throw it in the trash.)
* You don’t need to share this with anyone. It is just for you.
* As you destroy it, feel yourself letting go of the anger, the fear, the anxiety, the resentment, the desperation, or the sorrow.
* What aspirations do you have (for yourself) in the new year?
* Write it down. Put it someplace you will re-encounter it throughout the year. Maybe in your wallet or purse, maybe tucked into the sandals you will wear when summer comes. Let it remind you, when you have forgotten all about it, what you wish for yourself.
* What is the difference between an aspiration and a resolution? Why is this important?
* What gift would you like to give to someone else for the coming year?
* Try for a single word, a short phrase, or a picture.
* Give it to someone else. Preferably a stranger, maybe someone you don’t even know who. Leave it in a library book. Tack it on a community bulletin board at a store. Be original.
Share your responses to these questions with us by email or voice.
Upcoming topics include parenting. From at least these 3 perspectives: Being the sober parent. Being the parent of an alcoholic or addict child. And how has recovery changed the way you are a parent? Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
Music from the show
The Black Angels – Life Song
Kendrick Lamar – FEEL.
MILCK – Quiet
Dec. 25, 2017
In this recording from the 2010 AA Woodstock of the South, Bob B, Polly P, Ralph W, Michael E, Bill R, and Linda B share their experiences of family recovery in Al-Anon and AA.
Upcoming topics include parenting. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email email@example.com with your experience, strength and hope. Our contact page has more information about joining our conversation. Or just leave a comment right here.
Dec. 19, 2017
As we enter into a season where many of us are celebrating an end of the year holiday — Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, New Year — what expectations do we have? What anxieties does this season provoke? Do you look forward to spending time with family, or dread it? Or are you spending this time alone? How can expectations be deadly, this time of the year?
* By expecting it to be just like it was.
* By having unrealistic expectations.
* This year, everyone will be happy and glad to spend time together.
* Dreading family dysfunction.
* How can we set realistic expectations or let go of expectations?
* How can we protect our serenity?
* What can we do differently?
I was inspired, in part, to this topic by the following article in the June, 2017 issue of the Forum, which reminded me of an experience I had when I was just a couple of years into recovery.
I Asked God To Guide My Words
One of the countless new skills I began to learn when I came to Al-Anon was managing my expectations. My need to improve in this area was especially evident whenever I was anticipating a visit with my alcoholic son, who lives in another part of the country. Beforehand, I would build up the visit in my mind’s eye, picturing our family laughing together, doing fun things, talking easily and affectionately about our lives.
But it was never like that. Conversation was constantly strained. It was hard to find any safe topics. Our son didn’t seem to want to talk about his work, social life, whether he was working his program or much of anything else. He wasn’t particularly interested in doing any of the things I thought would be fun. My rosy expectations bore absolutely no resemblance to what really took place.
As a result, these visits left me feeling hurt, disappointed, frustrated, sad, regretful, hopeless and even a little angry. I definitely had to get my head into a better place.
With my Sponsor’s guidance, I began to study Al-Anon literature on the topic of expectations. I soon discovered that there is a close relationship between my expectations and my level of acceptance—or lack thereof—regarding the circumstances of my life. My expectations were unrealistic because I had not truly accepted the realities of my son’s life and their impact on mine. I was simply turning a blind eye to how things really were—not denial, but not full acceptance either.
In preparation for the most recent visit, I armed myself with lots of study, prayer, reflection, writing in my journal and a commitment to constantly seek my Higher Power’s guidance. I literally asked God to guide every word I said and everything I did. While I hoped the visit would be, at the very least, pleasant and congenial, I no longer harbored glowing images that had no roots in reality.
The visit went better than any of the previous ones, and afterward I felt somewhat at peace. There had been times of real connection and other periods when each of us just went our own way, giving each other plenty of space. I relaxed and didn’t try to force things into a mold that would never fit our life. I hope future visits will be even better, but I’m grateful to have learned a new way of dealing with my expectations that I can apply to all areas of my life.
Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters., Inc., Virginia Beach, VA
I’m planning some episodes about parenting, but I need your help. Share your experience as the sober parent. What have you learned about being a parent to your alcoholic or addict child? How has recovery changed how you are a parent? Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with experience, strength and hope. Our contact page has more information about ...
Dec. 13, 2017
Do you have trouble trusting other people? Do you have people you trust? How do you know they are trustworthy?
* What is trust?
* firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. (Dictionary.com)
* Do you have or have had trouble trusting other people?
* Do you have people you trust? How do you know they are trustworthy?
* Do you have a Higher Power you can trust?
* What is the difference between trust and faith or is there a difference?
* If we developed an ability to trust, how have we done that? with meetings? the program/steps? the tools? slogans? (I find that each of these has a role in developing trust).
* Can you trust yourself?
* Can others trust you?
* When I don’t trust someone what am I feeling?
* Fear of being judged – ties in with perfectionism, low self esteem, unloveable
* Fear of being hurt – emotionally, physically, intentionally and unintentionally.
* Trust to me is having the confidence that another person is not going to harm me intentionally.
* Sometimes the lack of trust is an issue on my side of the street
* Sometimes the other person has not shown themselves to be trustworthy
* Often I would assume that I couldn’t trust someone to be thoughtful of me because of my past experiences or my way of thinking.
* Slogans / Tools for building trust:
* One Step/Day at a Time (Tincture of Time)
* Act as If in less important situations
* Keep an Open Mind (helps with jumping to conclusions, esp. About negative intent)
* Let it begin with me
* Building others’ trust in me
* Traditions – learning to co-exist with others
* Concepts – learning to work in an organization
Upcoming topics include parenting, being the sober parent, and being the parent of an addict or alcoholic. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email email@example.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
Music from the show
Trust in Me – Stewart Holloway from the Jungle Book movie
Trust – Christina Perri
Olivia O’Brien – Trust Issues
Dec. 6, 2017
The first episode of The Recovery Show was posted to the internet on Dec 10, 2012. It’s hard to believe that we are now 5 years and 227 episodes in. What has 5 years of podcasting meant to me? What has it meant to you?
* How did it happen?
* 6 years ago — the only “podcasts” I listened to were NPR shows like “Car Talk” and “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me”.
* I first heard about recovery podcasts from my friend Mark, who produces “Recovered”
* I asked him to be my sponsor in early 2012, and he said “would you like to be in my podcast?” I had to think about it!
* Started guest hosting in Recovered Spring 2012.
* Said “we should do an Al-Anon episode”. Mark responded “You should do an Al-Anon podcast!” What?!
* Thought about it. Talked to some friends about it. Decided to give it a try.
* Early December 2012, Kelli, Swetha, and I recorded our first “pilot” episode with a conversation about boundaries. The audio quality was not good, but we decided to post it anyway.
* I bought some microphones and a mixer, and by episode 4, we decided it was no longer a “pilot.”
* During the next 11 months we consistently had 3 hosts for each episode, and sometimes an additional guest.
* In October, 2012, Kelli and Swetha decided they could not continue with the podcast.
* What to do!?
* Episode 47, “Changes” records my reaction, as I tried to draw on my program tools, and move forward.
* I was challenged to find co-hosts, because I thought I needed to keep the conversational format we had developed in the preceding 11 months.
* Bringing in remote co-hosts.
* First remote co-host in episode 55 with Ruth from Germany!
* First solo episode: 66 “codependency”. Challenging myself to do it differently, feeling insufficient.
* Later feedback is that people like both formats.
* Consistency: format, schedule
* Finding co-hosts
* Keeping track of requests and offers!
* Expectations — particularly what I expect you expect of me!
* That Mark suggested it
* That Kelli and Swetha were consistent co-hosts, co-creators in the first year.
* For all of you who express your gratitude to me.
* For all of you who contribute your ESH to the show.
* Especially for those who have co-hosted, or who have offered to co-host, even when I lost track of your offer.
* To Ruth and Akilah, who were my co-hosts for the Traditions and Concepts episodes.
* For your questions and topic suggestions.
* How has my recovery benefited?
* I have to “dive deep” into a recovery topic almost every week.
* I have to move outside my comfort zone, to reach out to co-hosts and ask them for the gift of their time.
* The “Step 10 inventory” aspect of “our week in recovery”.
* What now?
* Keep on as we have done?
* What changes would you like to see?
* Episode formats: conversation, solo, speaker. What else?
Upcoming episodes include 3 parenting topics: being the sober parent in an alcoholic marriage, parenting an addict or alcoholic child, and parenting in general. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
Music from the show
Lori McKenna – Drinkin’ Problem
Michael Jackson – Man in the Mirror
Sam Cooke – A Change is Gonna Come
Nov. 26, 2017
I asked you to share your gratitude with me. Many of you did so, and this episode highlights your voices and your gratitudes.
I also put together a playlist on Spotify, included below, that doesn’t even scratch the surface of the songs about gratitude and thankfulness. I’m sure I missed your favorite, so please email your suggestion (or comment below).
Next week’s episode will mark 5 years of The Recovery Show. I will be looking back over the last 5 years. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email email@example.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
Music from the show
Darius Rucker: This
Nov. 22, 2017
* What challenges have you found, as an adult child of an alcoholic, in parenting your own children?
* What program tools have you used, and how have they helped?
* What is your biggest challenge now?
Several listeners shared their experience around these and similar questions.
Some challenges were
* Not controlling.
* “Hurt people hurt people”
And some tools for better parenting include these:
* Step 10 — apologize and make amends to our children.
* Demonstrate humility and honesty — see it in the children
* Tradition 11 — let it begin with me (attraction rather than promotion)
* Tradition 1 — unity — guard against dominance — not about “me” but about the family
* Tradition 2 — a trusted servant (a trustee) to the children — they have their own higher power
* Tradition 4 — autonomy except where it affects others
* Tradition 10 — no opinion on outside issues — let the child dress how she or he wants to dress
* Tradition 7 — self supporting — allow children opportunity to be self supporting to build dignity, respect, responsibility.
* Concepts of service — shared responsibility (co-parenting)
* We love the presentation in the Reaching for Personal Freedom workbook, because it helps us understand how we can use the Traditions and Concepts in our own lives, in our families, and other relationships.
* Step 11 — “I don’t own my children, God owns them” — need knowledge of God’s will.
* Easy does it
* How important is it?
* Detaching with love.
* “Don’t argue with alcoholics, toddlers, and terrorists.”
* Let them express emotions without needing to change them
* Sharing program with children.
* “What am I hurt about?”
* Pause — the “Al-Anon breath”
Our topic for next week is gratitude. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to share something you are grateful for today.
Music from the show
DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – Parents Just Don’t Understand
John Mayer – Daughters
Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – Teach your Children
Nov. 14, 2017
As we approach the US holiday of Thanksgiving, I naturally think about the things I am grateful for. What are you grateful for?
Here are some things I am grateful for
* That I have a program of recovery.
* Our dog is a sweetheart, so loving.
* That my adult children choose to spend time with me and share their life with me.
* Although it snowed Thursday evening, on Friday morning it was sunny and pretty.
* That, as a sponsee reminded me, I have a roof over my head, a furnace that works, and a warm blanket.
* That you share your experience, strength, and hope with me and with the other listeners of this podcast. You make the podcast better and stronger by your presence.
What are you grateful for? Call or email with one thing you are grateful for this year, this month, or just today. Or, if you wish, share a gratitude list with us. I will compile your responses into an episode to be published on the US Thanksgiving weekend (last weekend in November). Please send your contribution by November 25, 2017.
Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email email@example.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
I read a bit from this Vox article about the Netflix show Jessica Jones, and its depiction of drug use and addiction.