Faith Facts Friday With Fiona

Written By: Fiona Stockard

The Big Book Broken Down – Part Thirteen

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who help each other to recover from alcohol and drug addiction. It was founded in June of 1935, just celebrated its seventy-ninth anniversary, and boasts over two million members.

AA’s central text is the Big Book. With a sponsor and a Big Book, AA members work the twelve steps, and “recover from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body” (title page).

Big Book

Today, I’ll be breaking down a section of the chapter Working With Others.

Working With Others

Part of getting sober is learning how to deal with our families. By deal, I don’t mean begrudgingly exist with them! No, I’m talking about being helpful, kind, patient, and loving.

That’s new for most of us! It was for me anyway. Prior to sobering up, I was nothing but a drain on my family and loved ones. It was hard to start giving instead of taking. It was hard to start comforting instead of being comforted.

My new relationship with my family began after I’d made amends and shown them that I meant business. Working With Others echoes this idea. It reads,

“When your prospect has made such reparation as [s]he can to his [or her!] family, and has thoroughly explained to them the new principals by which [s]he is living, [s]he should proceed to put those principals into action at home” (p 98).

Before I cleared away the wreckage of my past, I wasn’t able to live on spiritual principals. Once I’d made amends and, more importantly, incorporated the ideas behind my amends into my life, well, that’s when things began to change. That’s when I stopped blaming my dad for all my mistakes. That’s when I stopped arguing with my mom about every little thing.

Again, Working With Others emphasis this. It says, “[S]he should concentrate on his own spiritual demonstration. Argument and fault-finding are to be avoided like the plague” (p 98).

That’s much easier said than done! For me, learning how to live in harmony, peace, and usefulness with my family was a trial and error process. After enough errors, I started to get it right!

Then there’s the idea of continued sobriety and spiritual growth. Simply telling my parents and brother I was sorry, then continuing to act on old behavior, wasn’t going to cut it. Nope. I had to live a completely new way of life. A.A. puts it like this,

“…the alcoholic continues to demonstrate that [s]he can be sober, considerate, and helpful, regardless of what anyone says or does. Of course, we all fall much below this standard many times. But we must try to repair the damage immediately…” (p 99).

What happens if we don’t get our family back, though? What happens if our drinking and drugging was so bad, took us to such a dark place, that our family wants nothing to do with us? Well, we can still get better!

Getting sober with the support and love of family is the easier path. Just because they may not want a relationship, though, doesn’t mean we can’t still heal. The only person we need a relationship with is God. Working With Others reads,

“Let no alcohol say [s]he cannot recover unless [s]he has his [or her!] family back. This just isn’t so…Remind the prospect that his [or her] recovery is not dependent upon people. It is dependent upon his [or her] relationship with God” (pp 99-100).

That’s the truth. I was lucky because, despite hurting them time and time again, my family gave me another chance. That’s not always the case. If they hadn’t wanted me in their life, I’d still have been okay as long as I had God in my life.

It’s that simple. God is or God isn’t. God is everything or God is nothing. You choose.

So, what happens once we have God in our lives? Well, A.A. says, “Both you and the new [wo]man must walk day by day in the path of spiritual progress. If you persist, remarkable things will happen” (p 100).

Remarkable things? Sounds good to me. Where do I sign up?

Tune in next week for another installment of Faith Facts Friday with Fiona!

The 10th Step Promises

Written By: Fiona Stockard

What are the 10th Step Promises?

Much like the ninth step promises, the tenth step promises are a section of the Big Book where recovering alcoholics are promised peace and recovery from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body.

Sounds too goo to be true, right? Wrong! The tenth step promises are available for everyone who works for them. They’re guaranteed to you, to me, and to the broken woman who just walked through the door.

Of course, there’s a pretty big caveat here. We have to do the work! These promises don’t just magically happen in our lives. We have to sweat. We have to earn it. We have to earn recovery!

Bill Wilson Wrote –

10th step promises

And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone-even alcohol. For by this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in liquor. If tempted, we recoil from it as from a hot flame. We react sanely and normally, and we will find that this has happened automatically. We will see that our new attitude toward liquor has been given us without any thought or effort on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it. We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation. We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality—safe and protected. We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us. We are neither cocky nor are we afraid. That is how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition.

–(Big Book pp. 84-85)

Again, like the ninth step promises, I didn’t know what those words meant until I experienced them. It’s easy to read, “…the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us.” To experience that freedom firsthand, though? I can’t describe it. It’s simply freedom.

My Experience with the 10th Step Promises

I’m a tried and true alcoholic and addict. Before picking up a drink, I would use things like attention, controlling my weight, boys, and good grades to feel different. Then I got high. After that, all bets were off.

See, I have the three-part disease of alcoholism and addiction. My body processes alcohol and drugs differently than “a normie’s” body. Once I start, I can’t stop. Of course, stopping wouldn’t be a problem if I never started in the first place.

I always begin to drink again. I always begin to drink until I reached “a position of neutrality – safe and protected.” See, I had a mental obsession with drinking and drugging. Once I started to think about alcohol, I wouldn’t stop until the thought of drinking pushed out all else. I wouldn’t stop until a drink was in my hand.

That’s the heart of alcoholism – the bizarre mental obsession. Did you notice, though, that I wrote in past tense in the above paragraph? That’s because I’ve recovered. I’ve been granted safety from a God of my own understanding. I’ve been set free.

That’s my experience with the tenth step promises. They set me free. When I was newly sober, they offered me hope. My sponsor showed them to me almost immediately. I thank God she did. They showed me that recovery isn’t only possible, it’s promised if I do the work.

See, I have to complete the steps in order for these promises to manifest in my life. Even then, they don’t always occur during the tenth, eleventh, or twelfth step. It takes some women much longer to have them come true in their lives. For some lucky women, the obsession is lifted before they reach the tenth step. Like most of sobriety, these promises are an entirely subjective experience.

The bottom line, though, is if I do the work, if I search within myself and find God, the obsession to drink and drug will be removed. That’s all I can ask for and all I continue to ask for on a daily basis.

The Link Between Ferguson & Drug Addiction

The War on Drugs = The War on Minorities?

ferguson and addiction

Some might say the question I pose is a stretch, but is it? Ever since the Reagan era and the birth of the War on Drugs, minorities have been prosecuted, sentenced, and imprisoned for the distribution and possession of drugs.

 

Black and Latino men and women are sitting in jail for the sale of small amounts of marijuana, a substance that’s now legal in four states and Washington DC. Now, I’m not arguing that selling drugs is acceptable. It isn’t. Rather, I’d like to shine a light on the unjust practice of law enforcement targeting minorities.

The War on Drugs is a Manhunt

That says it all. The War on Drugs is a manhunt. It’s an all out blitz to find drugs at any and all costs. The most precious things thrown by the wayside are individuals’ rights. As a result of numerous less-than-savory practices, the divide between law enforcement and those living in low-income areas grows.

Protected under the flimsy idea of “cleaning up the streets,” the police have lost all sight of civil rights. So how does a tragedy like Ferguson happen? Why does it seem the police feel justified in there extreme actions. For that matter, why is it that most of us assume what happened is unjust. Because police have been conditioned to distrust the citizens and take extreme action. In turn, citizens are conditioned to mistrust the police and assume they always take extreme actions. Because that’s what our police officers are trained to do.

That sounds like hyperbole, right? Well, take a look at policies like New York City’s Stop and Frisk. The New York Civil Liberties Union had the following to say,

“The NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices raise serious concerns over racial profiling, illegal stops and privacy rights. The Department’s own reports on its stop-and-frisk activity confirm what many people in communities of color across the city have long known: The police are stopping hundreds of thousands of law abiding New Yorkers every year, and the vast majority are black and Latino. An analysis by the NYCLU revealed that innocent New Yorkers have been subjected to police stops and street interrogations more than 4 million times since 2002, and that black and Latino communities continue to be the overwhelming target of these tactics. Nearly nine out of 10 stopped-and-frisked New Yorkers have been completely innocent, according to the NYPD’s own reports.”

Yes, the NYCLU is talking about New York, not Ferguson. Still, the fact that these policies are acceptable and implemented in the first place speaks volumes. Once again, it becomes readily apparent that law enforcement’s approach to fighting the War on Drugs is one that does more harm than good.

Is the War on Drugs Really a War?

Before we go any further, let’s define what war actually is. Wikipedia defines war as “an organized and often prolonged conflict that is carried out by states or non-state actors. It is generally characterized by extreme violence, social disruption and an attempt at economic destruction…”

By this definition (extreme violence, social disruption, attempted economic destruction), the War on Drugs is, without a shadow of a doubt, a war. It’s a war on communities like Ferguson. No wonder the situation there has reached a boiling point. I’m just surprised it hasn’t happened sooner.

The citizens of Ferguson, and many other communities like it, seem to be fighting a war for their basic freedoms. That’s a fight many of us have never had to face. Riots are certainly no solution to the problem, but it’s an understandable reaction to decades of unfair police practices.

What’s the Solution?

The sale of drugs is rampant across America. The use of drugs is rampant across America. Addiction is rampant across America. So, how do we solve the problem? Well, the first step is starting to deal with addiction properly.

Instead of treating the problem, we throw people, more often that not minorities, in jail. This does nothing but compound the problem. Now, someone struggling with addiction is imprisoned with thousands of others struggling with addiction. It’s no wonder drug abuse is so prevalent in jails and prisons.

Taking a good look at the root of the problem, it’s glaringly obvious that there’s a lack of proper treatment for addiction. Okay, fair enough. Everyone knows that, though. It’s no surprise that there aren’t enough substance abuse treatment options available in the U.S.

I think this lack of treatment options ties directly in with the abuse authority figures bestow upon citizens. It’s no wonder people go to jail and come out with a chip on their shoulder. They’ve been abused by police every step of the way.

Imagine if police in our neighborhoods behaved in the same fashion they do in low-income areas. That would never stand. That would never be acceptable.

So, what’s the solution? Simple. We end the War on Drugs and start the peace treaty on drugs. We treat the problem instead of fighting it. Our current approach is brutal, barbaric, and inhumane. This is a direct result of a lack of education, understanding, and compassion. Police are trigger-happy and have grown accustomed to doing whatever it takes to “find the dope.”

If our attitudes, and those of people in positions of power, don’t seriously change, there are going to be more Ferguson, Missouri’s.

Faith Facts Friday With Fiona

Written By: Fiona Stockard

The Big Book Broken Down – Part Twelve

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who help each other to recover from alcohol and drug addiction. It was founded in June of 1935, just celebrated its seventy-ninth anniversary, and boasts over two million members.

AA’s central text is the Big Book. With a sponsor and a Big Book, AA members work the twelve steps, and “recover from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body” (title page).

Big Book

Today, I’ll be breaking down a section of the chapter Working With Others.

Working With Others

This chapter makes clear that the desire to get sober must come from within. We can’t make a family member, friend, or sponsee want to quit drinking. If they don’t want to, we simply have to move on.

Working With Others reads, “To spend too much time on any one situation is to deny some other alcoholic an opportunity to live and be happy” (p 96).

That’s much easier said than done! Fortunately, we have prayer and meditation on our side. We have spiritual tools that allow us to deal with any situation.

When working with a new sponsee, it’s important to remember that we’re offering spiritual guidance only. To that end, this chapter says, “…that he is not trying to impose upon you for money, connections, or shelter. Permit that and you only harm him” (p 96).

I’m not a bank and I’m not a homeless shelter (although being both those things would be pretty rad!). I’m an alcoholic who has found a spiritual solution to the disease of alcoholism. That’s all I can offer a woman seeking help.

Working With Others goes on to list some of the ways that helping others can be inconvenient. Remember, life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows! The chapter talks about how working with a sponsee may mean losing sleep, interrupting personal activities and work, having to go to hospitals and jails, and my phone ringing at all hours.

That seems like a lot of negative consequences all from helping someone out! Guess what? They’re all worth it. Anyone who has seen light and life return to a sponsee’s eyes will tell you the same.

Is sponsorship sometimes a hassle? Absolutely. Do I really want to pick up the phone during the last five minutes of Scandal? Not even a little bit. But I do it anyway. I sponsor women because it’s the best feeling in the world to help someone else and expect nothing in return. It’s the closest I get to meeting God.

Working With Others then returns to the idea there are certain things we shouldn’t help newcomers with. It says,

“He clamors for this or that, claiming he cannot master alcohol until his material needs are cared for. Nonsense…we simply do not stop drinking so long as we place dependence upon other people ahead of dependence on God” (p 98).

Ain’t that the truth! I thought I needed to have a good job to get sober. I got that job and continued to drink. I thought I needed a cute guy to get sober. I got a cute guy and would drink in the bathroom after he fell asleep.

I needed God to get sober. That was it. End of story. Working With Others points this out, too. The chapter reads, “For the type of alcoholic who is able and willing to get well, little charity, in the ordinary sense of the word, is needed or wanted” (p 98).

That’s been my experience. When I was finally ready and willing to get sober, there wasn’t much I needed. I had a roof over my head and food in my stomach. Oh, and I had God in my life. Guess what? I got, and stayed, sober!

The 9th Step Promises

Written By: Fiona Stockard

What are the 9th Step Promises?

The ninth step promises are a section of the Big Book where recovering alcoholics are promised certain things. I like the sound of that! Remember though, these promises only apply to alcoholics working the steps. Specifically, they only apply to those who’ve reached the ninth step.

So, what does the Big Book promise us? Red bottom heels and a hot guy? A Rolex and a smaller waist? Nope! It promises us emotional and spiritual health. It promises us that we’ll finally be okay.

Bill Wilson wrote –

9th step promises

If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.

(The Big Book, pp. 83-84).

Like many alcoholics, I’d heard the promises read at meetings. I’d seen them hanging on the wall of clubhouses. Hell, I even went to a meeting called “The Page Eighty-Three Promises Meeting.” I thought I knew the ninth step promises.

It turns out, like many blessings in sobriety, I knew these promises on paper, but had no idea what they looked like in real life.

My Experience with the 9th Step Promises

I got sober and I began to learn what these promises were really about.

See, things like “We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it” and “We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows” sound good. When they happen in your life though? The feeling is nothing short of amazing.

After completing my steps, I was stunned. I was, for the first time in my life, free. I was okay in my own skin. More importantly, I was able to show other women how to be free. I was able to be selfless, rather than selfish.

So, friends and dear readers, I’ll leave you with my personal take on the ninth step promises.

Fiona’s 9th Step Promises

If we complete the steps, we’re going to be amazing. Sometimes it’ll be halfway through, sometimes it’ll be afterwards, but it’ll always happen.

We’re going to know the freedom of sobriety and the happiness of recovery.

We won’t regret the past. In fact, we’ll embrace the past and use it to help other women recover.

We will live in serenity and we will practice peace, helpfulness, and love to others.

No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we’ll rise. We’ll rise because women lift us. We’ll then lift other women. Together, we’ll rise and never fall.

Uselessness will become useless. Self-pity will become useless. Service will become everything.

We will lose interest in our old lives and gain interest in God and other women.

Self-seeking will become uncomfortable. Selfishness will become uncomfortable.

Our attitude and outlook upon life will change and become whatever God wants it to be.

Fear of people, of economic insecurity, of being single, of gaining weight, of being rejected, of being embarrassed, of being anything other than exactly who and what we are – will leave us.

We will learn how to handle situations with grace and dignity.

We will suddenly realize God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves and that God has been with us, carrying and helping us, all along.

Are these extravagant promises? F**k no.

They’re being fulfilled among us – look around and see the beautiful healing power of sobriety.

They happen for everyone, always, if we do the work.

Getting Sober…on Facebook?

Can We Use Facebook to Get Sober?

Recently, The Atlantic published an essay about one woman watching her friends fall into, and recover from, heroin addiction. While their sheer volume often drowns these stories out, this particular one was interesting.

online sobriety

What made this essay different from the other 10,000 we see everyday? Well, it looked at addiction and recovery through the lens of Facebook!

I use Facebook pretty much all day. I’m always peeking in to see if I was tagged in anything and what my friends are up to. Add Instagram, Twitter, etc. to the mix and it becomes plain to see that we’re surrounded 24/7 by social media!

But what if we could use Facebook, and all the others, to spread a message of hope and recovery? I mean, you’re probably reading this article right now because you saw it on social media!

So, how can we, as women in recovery, use social media for more than a five-minute distraction?

Social Media and Active Addiction

It’s funny how accurate The Atlantic’s essay was. They talk about how friends and family of addicts can gauge someone’s addiction through their activity on social media.

That is 100% my story! I can’t tell you how many times I deactivated my Facebook when I was getting high. My Myspace and LiveJournal (I’m dating myself, I know!) fell out of use when I was drinking. Concerned comments would pile up and give me even more guilt.

There’s the other side, too. I remember posting countless pictures of friends and myself playing beer pong or at a party with our white girl wasted faces.

Classic teenager and young adult move, right? Except, for me, these “fun” pictures were less a chronicle of youthful mistakes and more snapshots of my active addiction.

Facebook and Sobriety

And then I started trying to get sober. Suddenly, Facebook became less terrifying. Rather than hiding from concerned friends’ messages, I could post how great life was! Of course, relapse would send me running from the computer.

The Atlantic’s article touches upon this very idea. The author writes about seeing her addict friends post things like “Today is ninety days!!” I’m pretty sure I made that exact same post…more than once!

This is where Facebook, and the rest of the social media family, can become useful, and even indispensible, to sobriety.

Imagine if you lived in a small town and didn’t have access to around the clock meetings. Imagine it’s two a.m., you can’t sleep, and all you can think of is drinking. What’s a girl to do?

Simple! You can hop on Facebook and instantly connect to millions of other recovering addicts and alcoholics. You can get support, encouragement, and general positive messages no matter the time or location.

That sounds pretty awesome to me!

Let’s Spread a Message of Hope!

Can we all agree, right here and right now, to start a new trend? Let’s switch from liking pictures and status to liking God and our sisters in recovery!

Let’s start using Facebook to spread a message of hope and recovery!

Faith Facts Friday With Fiona

Written By: Fiona Stockard

The Big Book Broken Down – Part Eleven

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who help each other to recover from alcohol and drug addiction. It was founded in June of 1935, just celebrated its seventy-ninth anniversary, and boasts over two million members.

AA’s central text is the Big Book. With a sponsor and a Big Book, AA members work the twelve steps, and “recover from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body” (title page).

Big Book

Today, I’ll be breaking down a section of the chapter Working With Others.

Working With Others

Picking up from last week, Working with Others urges us to use simple language when working with sponsees. It reads, “…you had better use everyday language to describe spiritual principles. There is no use arousing any prejudice…” (p. 93).

Remember, the goal of sponsorship, of any service work, is to be helpful. We can’t be helpful if we’re using ten-dollar words! That’s only going to confuse people.

What about working with newcomers who have strong religious backgrounds? Don’t worry, the chapter has that covered too. It says –

“Your prospect may belong to a religious denomination. His religious education and training may be far superior to yours…But he will be curious to learn why his own convictions have no worked and why yours seem to work so well…To be vital, faith must be accompanied by self sacrifice and unselfish, constructive action” (p. 93).

This is absolutely true! I’ve worked with many women who know more about a particular religion than I do. Their knowledge didn’t keep them sober though. This goes back to one of the pillars of A.A. – knowledge isn’t enough to achieve and maintain sobriety.

Self-knowledge doesn’t work. Religious knowledge doesn’t work. Knowledge in any form isn’t enough. We need, as the Big Book says, “self sacrifice and unselfish, constructive action.”

How do we get to action? Simple. Working with Others says, “Outline the program of action, explaining how you made a self-appraisal, how you straightened out your past and why you are now endeavoring to be helpful to him” (p. 94).

There you have a very vague description of the twelve-steps. Our self-appraisal is the fourth step. Straightening out our past is the ninth step. Being helpful to others is the twelfth-step.

Through working these steps (and the other nine!), we have a spiritual experience. And that, my friends, is what sobriety is all about!

Getting back to helping newcomers, the chapter touches upon some common roadblocks we, as sponsors, experience. It says –

“Your candidate may give reasons why he need not follow all of the program. He may rebel at the thought of a drastic housecleaning which requires discussion with other people” (p. 94).

and –

“Tell him you once felt as he does, but you doubt whether you would have made much progress had you not taken action” (p. 94).

and –

“If he is not interested in your solution, if he expects you to act only as a banker for his financial difficulties or a nurse for his sprees, you may have to drop him until he changes his mind” (p. 95).

and finally –

“If he thinks he can do the job in some other way, or prefers some other spiritual approach, encourage him to follow his own conscience. We have no monopoly on God; we merely have an approach that worked with us” (p. 95).

I can’t overstate these enough! Not everyone who asks for our help will really want it. I’ve sponsored more than my share of women who call for a few weeks, maybe even work the first couple of steps, and then disappear.

On the flip side, I’ve been that woman! I pulled the disappearing act myself. I had quite a few sponsors before I actually worked the steps.

What made this last time different? I’m not sure. I think I was ready to commit to going through all of the steps. I didn’t pull the disappearing act. I stuck around.

Guess what? It’s led to a life beyond my wildest dreams!

You Can Wear WHAT in Sobriety?

Sober Clothing: Rad or Fad?

I’ve noticed a trend over the last few years of women in recovery rocking some b*dass sober clothing.

sober clothing

In fact, from the humble beginnings of wearing a recovery shirt to a meeting, sober clothing has grown into a booming industry. Don’t believe me? Check out Party Sober Clothing.

Party Sober, and a handful of other recovery clothing lines, are trying to redefine how the general public views sobriety. They’re seeking to change the popular conception of recovery and let the world know we’re not a glum lot.

Is this new trend of sober clothing something rad or simply a fad? Will our alcoholic grandchildren wear sweatshirts that proudly proclaim “Never Hungover,” or will recovery clothing make some waves and fade away? And what about personal anonymity? So many questions!

Recovery Clothing: Trend or Game Changer?

Is recovery clothing here to stay? Well, the answer depends largely on the end goal of sober clothing lines. Are they making shirts that read “I Heart Sober Boys” to make money or is their goal to raise awareness about what recovery is really like?

The longevity of any company, especially those involved in social causes, rests on their overall mission. Think about it – if a company is genuinely interested in bringing about positive change, people are going to respond.

Look at TOMS shoes. For every pair of shoes bought, they donate a pair to those in need. That’s a win-win. That also generates the best kind of advertising – word of mouth from satisfied customers. In short, TOMS is selling more than shoes. They’re selling hope.

So, are recovery clothing lines like Party Sober in it for the money or to help people? Well, the guys behind the brand write, “The Party Sober mission is simple, to glamorize a sober lifestyle opposite of what mainstream media glorifies.”

I can get behind that. Imagine if we saw honest and accurate portrayals of sobriety in the media. We’d see a lot more women walking through the doors of meetings! Speaking of meetings, how does anonymity factor into sober clothing?

Are We Broadcasting too Much?

recovery clothing

Ah, the age-old question of anonymity. How do we balance our personal anonymity with our personal style? For that matter, is wearing recovery clothing breaking anonymity at the levels of press, radio, and film?

I think, like most questions of anonymity, this is a personal choice. Personally, I’m okay with wearing a shirt that says “Still Hot When You’re Sober” or “All This & Sober.” That’s me, though. What’s okay for me might not be okay for others.

It’s important to point out that we should be living by spiritual principles before we start wearing recovery clothing. After all, if I’m wearing a “Still Hot When You’re Sober” shirt and acting like a brat, well, I’m not making sobriety look attractive. Remember, this is a program of attraction!

Why Stores Would Never Carry a Sober Clothing Line

One of the largest challenges, maybe even the largest challenge, recovery clothing lines face is getting stores to carry their clothes.

Now, in the age of the internet, when so many of us shop online, this might not seem like a problem. It’s not a problem, if a company’s goal is simply to make money. But if they’re attempting to change how society at large views recovery, it is a problem!

Right now, stores aren’t going to carry recovery clothing because it hasn’t reached that critical mass of cool. I mean, are teenagers lining up to get a sobriety date bracelet? I don’t think so.

If brands like Party Sober continue their good fight to break the stigma of addiction and recovery stores will one day carry their clothes. Unfortunately, we haven’t reached that day yet.

Would You Wear Sober Clothing?

Like I said above, I know what’s okay for me, but I don’t know what’s okay for you. Learning this lesson is one of the greatest gifts sobriety has given me!

So, would you wear sober clothing? Let us know!

One Woman’s Remarkable Fight Against Anorexia

How It All Started

At the age of twelve, I started to feel different about myself. I saw flaws and didn’t like what I saw in the mirror. It was the summer and I remember looking in my friends mirror and seeing my body for what felt like the first time.

rayne87

I hated my body. All I can see was fat and it scared me.

I made a mental note that I was going to change this. For the whole six weeks of summer, I was going to make my body different.

I started by running everywhere when out playing with my friends. Then I slowly cut back on eating. No snacks, eating less at dinner, etc. Before I knew it, I was hardly eating anything at all and exercising all day.

I used to go to tell my family I was going to bed at six. Really, I’d exercise in my room constantly until eleven. My parents found me going to bed this early strange, but I made excuses. That’s one thing anorexia is good for – making up lies so it doesn’t get found out.

When it came to time to eat and people were around, I’d pretend to dish myself up food and eat it. If they were watching me closely, I’d even put food on my plate. Then I started to hide food.

I’d wear clothes with pockets so when people weren’t looking, I could quickly stuff food into them. I’d tip my drink down the back of the sofa and flush food down the toilet. If I ate, my brain wouldn’t be happy.

My anorexia started with my in control, but ended with my losing completely control, rather quickly too.

Anorexia Takes Over

I was admitted to an adolescent mental health unit by the age of thirteen. Sadly, this facility was no help to me at all. The longer I was there, the more anorexic I became. The longer I was there, the more ingrained my eating disorder became.

They staff didn’t understand eating disorders and I was surrounded by people with serious mental illnesses. Not like me. Of course, I know see how sick I was.

Slowly, I became more and more depressed. My brain wouldn’t give me even one moment of peace. I just couldn’t escape. My mind and body were deteriorating. That’s when I turned to self-harm.

At first, it gave me some form of release. It made me feel a tiny bit better, if only for a minute. It was the same when I started acting out on anorexia. It made me feel better about myself. I could never please the voices in my head, though. Nothing I did was ever good enough.

From Bad to Worse

I was in and out of that adolescent unit until the age of fifteen. Then I was sent to a specialized eating disorder unit. I hated ever moment. I hated being made to eat. It terrified me.

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I still found ways of hiding food, though. By this time, I’d also started to make myself sick. I couldn’t stand to keep any food in my body. I hated the feeling of being full. It drove me mad. It scared me. It tormented me.

Eventually, the nurses found out I was throwing up and I had to have someone come to the toilet with me. I also had to have someone follow me around all day, but I still found ways to cheat.

I’m not proud of what I did, but deep down I know it wasn’t really me doing it.

I began to throw up into things in my room. Video boxes, my wash bag, even the floor if I was desperate.

I stayed in this eating disorder unit for three more years. By the time I turned eighteen, I could no longer stay on the adolescent unit. I wasn’t allowed to leave of my own free will, either.

My parents couldn’t even take me home. I remember them being told to leave. I watched them from my window. At that moment, my whole world fell apart. I hit the absolute bottom.

I started to learn how to cope with my illness. I started to become a healthier weight. I was still underweight, but getting healthier. The doctors and nurses noticed and I was finally allowed to go home.

She Lost Everything

I did well until I reached twenty, when I relapsed. This wasn’t my first relapse, mind you, but this was the first time I’d managed to live successfully for years before everything came crashing down.

I was sent to a different eating disorder unit and it was the worst experience of my life. The staff didn’t understand at all. We were left for whole days with nothing to do.

I slept away most of my time there. Eventually, though, it all became too much. I started to fight to get better. This wasn’t ‘cause I wanted to get better, but because I couldn’t stand to be there for another minute. It was pure hell.

A Cycle of Relapse

Eventually, I discharged after I reached my target weight. Things went well for another few years. I was happy and life seemed good. I managed to stay out of any mental health units…until I turned twenty-four.

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At twenty-four years old, I relapsed again. This time things didn’t get as bad as they had in the past. Still, I needed help, so I was admitted to a day unit. This time I had a very different experience!

I met some wonderful and lovely people there. I met some of my closest friends there. That was two years ago. In the past two years, I have relapsed. I haven’t gone back to the beginning though.

That’s what those suffering from an eating disorder have to hold on to. Yes, you may relapse, but it’s a different stage of relapse. It becomes easier to return to normality, to recovery.

Although I’ve never been fully rid of the illness, I’ve had times where I can manage it and live with it in health. If you relapse, admit it to yourself! Admit you’ve fallen, dust yourself off, and get back up.

There’s HOPE

We have to be strong! Eating disorders are cunning and find ways to creep back into our lives, especially when we’re most vulnerable. We can fight!

We can realize the feeling eating disorders offer is a lie. It doesn’t give us control. No, it takes away control. Eating disorders control us. “Life” with this illness isn’t life at all. Life with this illness is merely existing, not living.

There may be times you want to give up and die because it seems easier than fighting the voice in your head. There may be times you want to quit life because it seems easier than dealing with the torment and self-hatred.

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There’s more to life than anorexia. I promise you. Eating disorders don’t want you to realize this.

It’s definitely a long and hard road, but no matter how long it takes – don’t give up! Don’t let it win! It’s time to get your life back!

I never thought that I’d suffer from this illness for over half my life. If I could turn back the clock, I’d never stopped eating. I didn’t plan to be anorexic. It simply took over.

It became me, until I was nothing but anorexia and I lost every tiny part of myself. I lost my friends, family, and relationships. This illness doesn’t give you anything. It just takes and takes. It takes everything.

If you’re reading this and you’re struggling with anorexia or any other eating disorder, keep fighting! One day it’ll get easier! One day you’ll get who you really are back. One day you’ll see that all this fighting’s been worth it!

You’re worth so much more than this illness. I promise you, you are! Always stay strong and remember you’re not alone. Always stay strong and remember we can all change!

 

Find Rayne87 on Instagram to learn more about her amazing story!

Faith Facts Friday With Fiona

Written By: Fiona Stockard

The Big Book Broken Down – Part Ten

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who help each other to recover from alcohol and drug addiction. It was founded in June of 1935, just celebrated its seventy-ninth anniversary, and boasts over two million members.

AA’s central text is the Big Book. With a sponsor and a Big Book, AA members work the twelve steps, and “recover from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body” (title page).

Big Book

Today, I’ll be breaking down a section of the chapter Working With Others.

Working With Others

This chapter, as the name ever so subtly suggests, is about working with other alcoholics. This usually takes the form of sponsorship, though there are many ways to be of service to our fellow drunks!

The chapter opens by saying, “Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail” (p. 89).

That’s the truth! Sponsorship, or even generally helping other alcoholics, is the heart of AA. It’s the only way to stay sober no matter what.

Guess what else? Working with newcomers has a lot of other benefits as well. Case in point, Working with Others reads,

“Life will take on new meaning. To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends – this is an experience you must not miss” (p. 89).

The chapter then goes on to offer suggestions for finding active alcoholics. Remember, the Big Book was written in 1939. There wasn’t a multibillion-dollar rehab industry around then!

Most of these suggestions are pretty outdated. They do offer a few good points, though, like –

“…cooperate; never criticize. To be helpful is our only aim” (p. 89).

“If [s]he does not want to stop drinking, don’t waste time trying to persuade him [or her!]” (p. 90).

“If [s]he does not want to see you, never force yourself upon him [or her!]” (p. 90).

And finally –

“Tell him enough about your drinking habits, symptoms, and experiences to encourage him to speak of himself…give him a sketch of your drinking career…when he sees you know all about the drinking game, commence to describe yourself as an alcoholic” (p. 91).

Those all stand the test of time pretty well! It doesn’t matter if it’s 1939 or 2014, those are solid ways to approach, talk to, and help newcomers.

So, what about once you’ve approached a new woman? How do you convince her you know what you’re talking about? How do you make it clear that you have a solution to active alcoholism?

Simple! Working with Others says, “Show him [or her!] the mental twist which leads to the first drink of a spree…If [s]he is alcoholic, [s]he will understand you at once. [S]he will match your mental inconsistencies with some of his own” (p. 92).

That’s identification. If I’m talking to a newcomer and she starts nodding her head and saying, “yeah, yeah, that’s me!” I know she’s identified with me. I know that, despite being new to AA, she’s found some hope in what I’m saying. And hope, my friends, is what Alcoholics Anonymous is all about.

Working with Others offers some more ideas on how to foster identification. The chapter reads,

“Show him [or her!], from your own experience, how the queer mental conditions surrounding that first drink prevents normal function of the will power…Continue to speak of alcoholism as an illness, a fatal malady. Talk about the conditions of body and mind which accompany it” (p. 92).

This installment of Faith Facts Friday, with your lovely host Fiona, ends on one of my favorite passages from the Big Book. Remember that idea of hope? Here Working with Others spells it out explicitly,

“…he has become very curious to know how you got well. Let him ask you that question, if he will. Tell him exactly what happened to you. Stress the spiritual feature freely. If the man be agnostic or atheist, make it emphatic that he does not have to agree with your conception of God. He can choose any conception he likes, provided it makes sense to him. The main thing is that he be willing to believe in a Power greater than himself and that he live by spiritual principles (p. 93).

Tune in next week for a breakdown of the rest of Working with Others!