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Monday Thoughts 8/27/2018

“As you become aware of what has robbed you of the purity of an innocent mind, a clear heart and a strong body, you will be deeply served by letting go of those familiar limitations.” Debbie Ford

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.” ~~Thich Nhat Hanh

“Often we want to go back to the familiar, go back to where we felt our life pause, but nothing is ever the same.” ~~Erica Durance


Statement #9:
The past is gone forever.
No longer am I victimized the by the past. I am a new woman.


Regret, shame, and guilt are some feelings which can link us to the past.  Before a sober New Life, these emotions ruled and directed, keeping past dramas, emotions and/or feelings pinned to the present.  Sobriety and Statement #9 in continuing action provide an opening to the present enabling feelings of contentment and satisfaction.

Understanding the need to cling to the past can open the door to the present.  This was a new concept in sobriety.  What was so important in the past that there was a continual need to bring it forward?  Carrying past emotional pain does nothing to ease life but, it is familiar.  Through WFS and the practice of the Statements, I now understand why I remained in a toxic relationship.  It was familiar, and the fear of the unknown bound me.   No matter how much I wanted to go back and fix or rearrange life, the present is the only available moment there is.

The practice of this favorite Statement encourages the release of what no longer works, even if it is familiar.  Examples of this can translate into releasing control and embracing the unknown, letting go of a toxic relationship as I had done, or practicing mindfulness.  New tools can be learned through WFS to bring the present into view, establishing a rewarding, full 4C life.

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

Letting go of the fear of the unknown and wanting to rewrite history certainly kept me stuck in the past.  Each time I tried to prove myself lovable and worthy, all I got was trapped in a vicious cycle of victimization because I was working so hard at trying to be what someone else thought I “should” be.  My focus was all wrong but I was stuck in guilt that if I was smarter, prettier or worked harder in my role as wife, I would be loved in a way that I needed.  As I started practicing Statement #9, I realized an important aspect was necessary to stop the victimizing of my unfounded failings. That aspect was forgiving myself.  That act of forgiveness changed my actions, responses and attitude.  It helped me to learn that self-love and forgiveness was the key to letting go of the impossible – changing another person’s definition of what my role should be and how love and forgiveness needs to be expressed and given.  Sometimes we carry old baggage for so long that we may not recall when or why we packed our guilt and shame, and most importantly, why we continue to carry it around.

Below is a message from Nancy Cross that dates back a few years.  She was a phenomenal woman, strong supporter of WFS, certified moderator, board member, held the first online chat and wrote thousands of encouraging messages.  Sadly, Nancy passed away on August 25, 2015. In honor of her commitment and loyalty to WFS, I wanted to share her message on Statement 9 – so powerful and insightful.

“I recently had the opportunity to hear Claudia Black, PhD, speak here in Cincinnati . Claudia is a well known author and lectures on addiction and family issues.  You may have read one of her many books, “It Will Never Happen to Me: Growing up with Addiction as Youngsters, Adolescents, Adults.”  (www.claudiablack.com
 
During the second half of the lecture, she presented a visual exercise using three members of the audience.  In front of the volunteers there were numerous pieces of luggage, all shapes, colors, and sizes.  The luggage was handed out to the volunteers – some for them to hold and some for them to hang on their shoulders and arms.  Claudia then went on to explain the luggage.  There is hard-sided luggage representing people who are known for saying, “I can do it myself, I do not need help,” and the soft-sided luggage represents those who “sit on the fence or can’t make a firm decision.” 
 
There was green luggage (envy), red luggage (anger), blue luggage (sadness), and black luggage (guilt, shame, and depression).  All of the things we tend to carry with us or hang on to from our past.  When we find we have too much to carry, we look for a cart.  That cart in my case, was my addiction.  It helped me carry the load, or so I thought.  But that cart only led to other carts as I needed more and more to help with the extra baggage of guilt and shame that became overwhelming.
 
The key sentence in her presentation, for me, was, “Do you know who packed your bags?”  Wow!  So many thoughts came to mind when she said that – voices from the past of parents, other family, friends, co-workers, teachers, ex-spouse, and my own voice echoing my lack of self-confidence.  Each and every one had a hand in packing the luggage that I carried around all of those drinking years.  And was it heavy!  
 
She went on to say that each of us has a choice to continue carrying that luggage, or, to repack it as we see fit to lighten our daily load.  We can unpack all the “shoulds”, the “cant’s” and the “I wish I would haves.”  We can toss out the guilt and shame we carried for so many years.  WE have a choice!  
 
We may have added positive things to our luggage in sobriety/recovery, however,  those bags are still going to be tough to tote until we dig to the bottom layers and toss out the negatives stowed there. 
 
Consider the WFS Program a training manual on how to repack that luggage.  There are some wise lessons to be learned.  I know finding and embracing WFS helped me lighten my load and I have long since given up looking for a cart.
  
So, let me ask you – 
Do you know who packed your bags?  
Have you discovered how to lighten your load?

EnJOY, Nancy”

Bonded in healing from the past and unpacking those unnecessary bags of guilt and shame!
4C WFS Member

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New WFS Meeting – St. Petersburg, FL

WFS is proud to announce the start of a new face-to-face New Life Program meeting!

St. Petersburg, FL

Fridays at 6:00 pm

Please email 1076@womenforsobriety.org with questions and to obtain the exact location of the meeting.

 

Please join us in extending our gratitude to the volunteer Certified Moderator who has made the commitment to bring the New Life Program to her local community!

If you are feeling inspired to bring WFS to your local community, please review the requirements for becoming a Certified Moderator and contact the Face-to-Face Management Team for assistance.

Posted on

Monday Thoughts 8/20/2018

flowers-in-field

Monday Thoughts

“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells constellations.” ~~Anaïs Nin

“For behind all seen things lies something vaster; everything is but a path, a portal, or window opening on something more than itself.” ~~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~~Anaïs Nin


Statement #8:
The fundamental object of life is emotional and spiritual growth.
Daily I put my life into a proper order, knowing which are the priorities.


Early sobriety can feel like a past feeling from youth of wanting to be older, wiser, more adult or grown up. Adulthood seemed so fancy, with immense schedules and deep conversations through childhood eyes; thoughts of the grass is always greener…. except it isn’t greener, it’s just different. With WFS, sobriety, and the practice of Statement #8, the grass can be greener with growth.

Unknowingly, alcohol prevented growth. Emotionally stuck, life was experienced through a filtered lens. Unable to see or feel clearly, life felt overwhelming and filled with fear and pain. Feelings of dread and of “what’s the point” were common emotions. WFS provides the tools to clear that foggy lens and bring about balance and growth. Connecting with sober women near and far, whether on the WFS Online Forum or in a face to face group, the warmth from feeling a part of a courageous community continues to inspire growth and development.

Statement #8 with its simplicity, encourages new avenues to be explored. Instead of rigid rules or paths to be taken, growth can occur by embracing priorities. The practice and understanding of this Statement can ease fears of purpose, opening a portal for mindfulness and spirituality to flourish.

How do you incorporate Statement #8 into your daily life?
Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

Setting priorities has a lot to do with core values as defined by Cookie Tuminello.

“Core values are the foundation that creates more of what you do want and less of what you don’t want in your life. They must be present in your daily actions if you want to be truly at peace with yourself. Core values are who you are right now, not who you think you should be, can be or might be. They define who you are on the “inside” – your core. These values help you define what matters most to you in your life and they are the basis for making better choices for taking better care of yourself.”

I think that as we all work towards emotional and spiritual growth, start achieving it, our core values become clear to us and we can continue to make decisions that authentically reflect our core values/priorities.

I was watching an episode of Iyanla, Fix My Life on OWN (Oprah Network). It was about a mother-daughter relationship in need of major healing. When Iyanla said that unhealed people create unhealed situations, I thought of how I struggles with putting my priorities in a proper order when I so wounded. Drinking certaining didn’t help the healing process. It numbed, stopped and harmed any necessary healing I needed in order to grow my emotional and spiritual life. Her question was to figure out what you need help with, because if you don’t ask for what you need, the need gets bigger.

I realize I drank because I had unmet needs that I had no idea of how to meet or could even identify them at that time. Over the years, I have also learned that as I identify my needs and meet them, other needs start to appear. WFS has taught me that there is always room for emotional and spiritual growth to take place as life presents new challenges. Knowing that lessens my fear and cuts short the negative self-talk that I “should” be able to handle any situation after all this time.

In order to determine if you are using your valuable time and energy that includes your core values, make a list of what matters most to you. Remember, be completely honest with what you value and not what you believe you “should” value. As you reflect on this list, consider if you are prioritizing your life incorporating these values by the choices and decisions you are making. Most importantly, this list is to create awareness, not guilt. Make changes, if necessary, in how you spend your time and energy once you know what your core values are.

Bonded in discovering and living our core values,
4C WFS Member

Posted on

Monday Thoughts 8/13/2018

Monday Thoughts

“Life is the flower for which love is the honey.” Victor Hugo

“Do you have to have a reason for loving?” ~~Brigitte Bardot

“Love harder than any pain you have ever felt.” ~~unknown


Statement #7:
Love can change the course of my world.
Caring is all-important.


The concept of love can be easy to identify, yet it’s the giving and receiving of love which can feel difficult, especially in early sobriety and recovery. Before WFS and a sober New Life, rejecting love came easily since it felt foreign and uncomfortable, whether directed at self or others. Today, with hindsight being 20/20 and the practice of the WFS Statements, it is much easier to give, receive and even greater understand this thing called love.

Statement #7, the first of the WFS “Love Statements” encourages giving and receiving love, and it begins with self. The act of maintaining sobriety for 24 hours is a gift of a full day of love. Instead of running away from life into alcohol or a substance, sobriety and recovery connect the experience of living, and not just merely existing.

In our WFS Program booklet on page 23, “Self-love is a gift that allows us to build healthy relationships with ourselves and others.” Take a moment to examine the relationships in your life. Some may have changed, some may have not. Maybe some relationships no longer exist or have done a 180°. What is different? What is the same? Are you better able to embrace love today? If not, what one small act can you take to welcome love into your life?

Hugzzz and love
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

After all these years, I hadn’t thought that maintaining sobriety for 24 hours as a gift of love, yet how true that is! That act of self-love can be practiced in many areas of our lives, i.e., setting boundaries, saying yes when we want to and saying no as well, setting time aside for our needs, identifying and expressing those needs to others, being true to ourselves and being assertive.

For me, being assertive is saying that what I feel/think is important enough to share it when the opportunity presents itself. In the days of low self-esteem, I never felt confident enough to stand up for myself. I was intimidated and fearful of more rejection so I just accepted negative comments. In learning to stand up for myself, I also learned compassion and empathy for those who struggled as I had. I truly cared and care for their hurts. I have also learned to lessen my own pain, to not take negative comments at face value and be crushed by them. I just see those people as broken and trying to fix themselves by hurting others to feel better. That doesn’t work. It just pushes people away and that’s a sad, lonely place to be.

So, I encourage you to risk giving and receiving love, starting with loving yourself. Love is a powerful emotion and it creates avenues of personal and emotional growth.

I hope you will take the time to answer Karen’s questions and perhaps add to that the questions in the New Life Diary:

  • Make a list of the people you love and why you love them.
  • Make a list of the people you have difficulty loving and why.
  • What is your definition of love?

What do you think your answers will reveal about love changing your world?

Bonded in changing our world with love,
4C WFS Member

Posted on

Monday Thoughts 8/6/2018

walking on the beach

Monday Thoughts

“Simply enjoy life and the great treasures that come with it.” ~~Karolina Kurkova

“Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast—you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.” ~~Eddie Cantor

“Find ecstasy in life and the great pleasures that come with it.” ~~Emily Dickinson


Statement #6:
Life can be ordinary or it can be great.
Greatness is mine by a conscious effort.


One of the greatest fears before sobriety and New Life was not knowing how to live life without alcohol. For years, addiction directed my behaviors and influenced my decisions but learning empowering tools through the WFS New Life Program, those fears have been replaced with empowering skills making room for the enjoyment of life.

Statement #6 encourages consciousness, whether it be first thing in the morning or throughout the day, awareness is key to enjoying sobriety and recovery. Instead of wondering how to make it through an event without alcohol, I am free to enjoy what is. Even if the moment is less than desirable, I am able to understand value contained within.

Enjoying days whether they are ordinary or great, some days can still be very difficult, but when placed next to some of the devastating moments before this New Life, the differences are quite striking. By using the Statements on a daily basis, awareness is increased and greatness is unleashed.

How do you make life great?

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

I love how Karen pointed out the major difference between how we view similar circumstances in our New Life to when we were drinking/using. This is crucial because life is full of bumps, sometimes huge boulders in our way. There is no clear path because we are sober. What we have are positive guides through the WFS program to choose how we respond, how we cope with adversity and ways to create awareness of the beauty and joy before us. Perhaps we didn’t care in the past as we had shut down our feelings out of fear, disbelief that we even wanted a great life or deserved one!

There is a lot of material available on mindfulness and I must say that in this world of technology, with our heads down, glued to our cell phones, we are probably missing out on some beautiful sights, some engaging conversations, an opportunity to change someone’s day with a smile, a compliment or a hug of compassion and understanding. The human connection we yearn for requires attention and participation.

For me, when I was drinking, my interaction mostly consisted of pretending everything was just fine. It’s difficult to build a great life when pretending. Oh, how I love the authentic expression of my feelings in sobriety. Gone is the fear of rejection, being misunderstood or judged. I have learned that in order to receive what I need, I had to learn to step out of my comfort zone, to be true to myself.

Another big lesson is knowing who to trust and share your feelings. For me, it is the women I have met in WFS. I know this because we are all eager to learn how to change from the inside. The biggest lesson is that in order to create a great life, which includes the ordinary, it is appreciating the moments when they are at our doorstep.

These are questions that have been part of my message in the past yet I do think they are powerful ones for Statement #6:

  • What am I going to do today to make the day count?
  • What can I do today to love myself?
  • Today I dare myself to …
  • Today I take full responsibility for …
  • What I most need to learn today is …

Bonded,
4C WFS Member