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Monday Thoughts 12/28/2020

“When you quit drinking you stop waiting.”  ~~Caroline Knapp

“Recovery is an acceptance that your life is in shambles and you have to change it.”  ~~Jamie Lee Curtis

“There are women succeeding beyond their wildest dreams because of their sobriety.”  ~~Mary Karr


#1 I have a life-threatening problem that once had me.

I now take charge of my life and my well-being.

I accept the responsibility.


This week marks the start of a brand-new year filled with dreams, hopes and possibilities.  The WFS New Life Program and the 13 WFS Statements of Acceptance can guide and support sobriety and recovery no matter if this is your first day sober or your tenth year in recovery. These Statements are the cornerstone of a continuing balanced and beautiful New Life free from alcohol or drugs.

If you are new here, welcome!  Women for Sobriety is an organization of women for women.  We encourage, connect, and believe in you.  We also affectionately call ourselves “4C” women, which stands for being “Capable, Competent, Caring and Compassionate.”  Our website is filled with information that can aid you on your journey and offer ways to connect with other women on the same path.  For an introduction to WFS and to read helpful articles written by our founder, Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph.D., click here.  If you would like information on the WFS Community including information on connecting with other women online, click here.  Remember, you are not alone.

Beginning the year with Statement #1 is an empowering way to cement your recovery and focus on continued growth.  What would you like to accomplish this year?  Leave a trauma behind?  Find a new hobby?  Learn a new language?  Connect with someone?  This week write down a set of goals for yourself and reflect on how far you have come from the previous year.  For many, 2020 has been a significantly difficult year filled with uncertainty but there were areas where your strength shown through so embrace that part of yourself.  After all, you are a strong, beautiful 4C woman!

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

Even with the ups and downs of 2020, I have seen so much resiliency among 4C women.  The old adage that it’s not that you fall down, but it’s how you get up that matters, has certainly been seen over and over again this year.  I have been privileged to witness women dealing with sometimes extreme isolation and loneliness still having the courage to seek help, to keep moving forward when standing still may seem like the only thing a woman feels able to do at any given moment.  Obtaining and maintaining sobriety can be challenging during typical times but during a time of uncertainty, loss and isolation, it certainly makes it even more challenging.  However, it is absolutely possible, yes doable, with the encouraging and supportive WFS program and the 4C women involved.  What Karen said about not being alone on this journey, this path, is why building a strong support system and sharing coping tools with each other is so crucial and invaluable.  I have found that it also reinforces my desire, my need, to remain sober.  It reminds me of how much better my New Life is and what matters the most to me.  Sometimes we take for granted that we know what matters yet I am always grateful for this push to remember to keep my core values at the forefront.

As we work towards sobriety and maintaining our recovery, it is important to know what our triggers are.  Knowing them helps us to put plans into action before the thoughts of drinking or taking drugs becomes the action.  I found a list of things that may cause or trigger slips/relapses.

  1.    Stress
  2.    Becoming overwhelmed by feelings and emotions; this can happen in therapy as well when uncovering core issues
  3.    Loss of a family member, friend, co-worker, a casual acquaintance or seeing the numbers rise this year from COVID
  4.    Marital and family problems
  5.    Feelings of loneliness, shame, guilt, anger and abandonment
  6.    People’s reactions to changes you are making in your life
  7.    Fear of change and/or living without alcohol/drugs
  8.    Celebrations
  9.    Success
  10.    Habits – automatic reaction, responding

What would you add to this list?

How would or do you cope with any of the above?

You may wonder why even bring up situations/people that may cause or trigger relapse/slips when Statement #1 clearly states we are in charge of our lives and well-being, that we had a problem that once had us.  I believe this year has made me take a deeper look at how women, including myself, are handling difficult feelings and situations.  As I said, it’s important to know what triggers you so that you have a plan, even several plans.  Nancy Cross once wrote, “You don’t recover from an addiction by stopping using.   You recover by creating a New Life where it is easier to not use.  Your addiction has given you the opportunity to change your life.  Take advantage of this opportunity and use it to improve your life.”   Think of the positives that take place when you create this New Life in recovery.  This is what I kept in mind when I first became sober.  This year, I again needed that awareness more than ever.

  1.   Remembering what you said, what you did, how you got somewhere
  2.   Waking up without a hangover or having to make excuses for your absence at work or any event
  3.   Freedom – for me, this meant I was available at a moment’s notice to drive, to listen to someone in need, to say yes to a spontaneous invitation if I chose      to
  4.   Saving money – this is huge.  Some women even decided to put the money they would have used for alcohol or drugs into a jar and then donate it to          WFS.
  5.   Reputation – repairing and rebuilding
  6.   No legal consequences
  7.   Spending time doing things that are fun, creative, rewarding, you are passionate about
  8.   Being a positive role model
  9.   Living by your values, setting healthy boundaries and learning that no is a complete sentence
  10.   Building authentic, healthy relationships
  11.   Making your own choices and trusting your instincts
  12.   Knowing your hard work has created the 4C woman you always were

What would you add to this list?

Bonded in taking charge of our lives and our well-being with intention, Dee

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Monday Thoughts 12/21/2020

“Responsibility is accepting that you are the cause and the solution of the matter.”  ~~Anonymous

“Responsibility to yourself means refusing to let others do your thinking, talking, and naming for you; it means learning to respect and use your own brains and instincts; hence, grappling with hard work.”  ~~Adrienne Rich

“A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom.” ~~Bob Dylan


#13 I am responsible for myself and for my actions.

I am in charge of my mind, my thoughts, and my life.


In our WFS Program booklet it states “Sobriety is just the beginning.  The WFS New Life Program provides a portal for personal growth.  It shows us a new way of thinking.”  This Statement is not a one and done or something to be checked off a list; Statement #13 is designed to be used continuously throughout our New Life.  This is especially true for long term sobriety for it keeps us on the path of recovery.

In the past responsibility felt frightening since in my mind, responsible people made difficult decisions and were often reprimanded.  Through years of drinking, I felt incapable of making even the smallest of decisions and unhealthily depended on others.  This way of life shrunk my mind, my thoughts and my life.  Yet, Women for Sobriety helped me change all that.

Today I feel a sense of freedom in responsibility and no longer fear decision making since it’s how we all learn.  A favorite phrase defining responsibility is “I respond with my ability and that ability keeps evolving and growing.”  There is underlying joy and contentment in embracing my own mind, my thoughts and my life.

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

Like Karen, I had no confidence in my decision-making abilities. Statement #13 had me shaking in my fear of believing all my decisions would be wrong, that my mistakes would just validate those beliefs that I was inadequate and incapable.  This fearful negative self-talk brought to mind a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, “You gain strength, courage and confidence in every experience in which you stop and look fear in the face.”  Ok, sign me up!  Truthfully, no was my immediate response just as drinking was my immediate response when coping with my fear of change, being in charge of my mind, my thoughts and my life.

Over the years, I have been fortunate to learn from others who have walked this path before me.  While ours paths to recovery are very unique, individual and achieved in our own time frame, the life experience, insights and shared coping tools I received from other 4C women was such a gift in uncovering and discovering how I could become responsible for myself and my actions.

Here are some of the tools I used in taking charge of my life:

Positive self-talk which for me was accepting mistakes as life lessons and surviving the outcome with that knowledge.  I’d like to add thriving because I started to learn that I could be successful in my decision-making which boosted my positive self-talk.

Reframing the situation – avoiding all or nothing thinking which led me to change what is the “worst” that could happen to what is the “best” that could happen in my decision-making.

Redefine my definition of who I am.  This was a tremendous change as I had to let go of old messages from the past that no longer served me in the present.  In fact, most of those messages were given to me by people who had their own issues that were never worked through.

Self-care and being proactive in doing that.   As women, many of us place the needs of others before our own.  Sometimes that might be necessary depending on the situation.  In the big picture, it’s about balancing what needs to be done yet keeping yourself at the top of that list so you have the energy to do whatever else is necessary at that time.

Acknowledging my fears rather than drinking them away.  This was a huge challenge because it meant I had to not only face my fears but work through them.  It helped me to be aware that in facing my fears, I had to be aware of how I responded/reacted to them.

Seeking support.  Reaching out to people who understand, accept and have life-changing coping tools to share.  Having the input, insight and support of the WFS women I have been privileged to learn from and care about, was key in putting Statement #13 into action.

In reading over the changes above, which of these do you feel you are working on or need to work on?  Please consider sharing the coping tools that have helped you up to this point.  We all learn from each other.

I encourage you to remember that we are all heroines when we walk through the doors or attend a WFS virtual meeting for the first time, when we continue to attend as we learn to take responsibility for our lives and our actions, reaching out making that first phone call to ask for help, registering online seeking and receiving the much-needed support to guide us in putting Statement #13 into action.  It’s all about community, taking charge of our lives and the freedom working this Statement brings into our lives.

Bonded in sharing and learning new ways to practice Statement #13. Dee

Over the years, as the holidays approached, I have asked women in my local group to give a gift to themselves by answering the questions in this document, put them in a decorative bag or box and give it to themselves on Christmas Day or any day they wish to celebrate themselves.  After all, we give to others all year and this gives each woman an opportunity to think of what they will give themselves in the upcoming year (self-care) and what positive changes they have made throughout the current year and acknowledging any blessings they have received.  While it’s been a challenging year, I believe we’ve learned a lot about our abilities, our resilience and what gift we deserve to give to ourselves in the upcoming year.  

 

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Monday Thoughts 12/14/2020

 

“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”  ~~E.E. Cummings

“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.”  ~~Eleanor Roosevelt

“Trust yourself.  Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life.  Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.”  ~~Golda Meir


#12 I am a competent woman, and I have much to give life.

This is what I am, and I shall know it always.


Unaware of negative internal dialogue, it was inevitable to feel less than or not enough.  Add to this a laser-focused comparison to others, healthy self-esteem was not possible or even compatible. Alcohol compounded the doubt, insecurity, and fears, which led to extreme feelings of incompetence and worthlessness. Yet sobriety and Statement #12 in action lay a foundation for self-worth and ability to flourish.

Why is it easier to recognize competence in family, friends, or others, yet more difficult to embrace within ourselves?  For women in recovery, it is important to embrace this quality within ourselves.  In our WFS Program booklet it states “By releasing the baggage of self-denial about ourselves and our abilities, we can free ourselves from feelings of guilt, despair, and unworthiness.  We are competent women, capable of great accomplishment, when we nurture a belief in ourselves.  Begin each day with an unshakable belief in your own competency.  First the thought, then the reality.”

Self-imaging and affirmations are two tools which can aid in practicing Statement #12.  Self-imaging, the art of imagining who or where we would like to be, (either spoken or written in detail) along with daily affirmations can increase our acceptance of ourselves.  Here are a few examples to begin with:

  1. I am a capable, competent, caring, and compassionate woman.
  2. I am enough and I am doing my best.
  3. I love myself and my body and treat myself with compassion.
  4. I am dedicated to taking small actions each day towards my goals.

What other affirmations will you add?

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

It took quite a while to erase, even quiet down the negative self-talk I had in my head for so many years.  Comparison was my daily thought.  Drinking seemed to be the answer to quiet those negative images of who I thought I was.  Of course, that was definitely not true because the pain remained and my self-esteem remained damaged.  Gladly, through WFS, I learned that the way to becoming the 4C woman I had sadly trapped with drinking to squash those painful feelings of unworthiness, was to unravel those false perceptions I bought into.  I needed to unwrap the woman I was smothering with alcohol, to discover the woman I needed to be and could be with just changing the way I defined myself.  In other words, I needed to rethink and behave my way through to the present truth.  I realized I was trapped by old thinking, old messages that no longer held strength in the woman I was working so hard to release from the past.  I understood that my beliefs were from others who were authority figures in my growing up years or loved ones who had their own baggage they unpacked and put in my suitcases.  I also came to understand that it was me who kept those painful beliefs active and current into my adulthood.  Any traumatic or unpleasant event only proved that everyone was right about me rather than accepting and knowing that life is full of hurtful moments and joyful ones as well.  I realized I was focused only on the negative events.  Statement #12 was one of the most difficult ones for me to process.  Years of believing I was anything but incompetent seemed unnatural for me to embrace, to acknowledge both competency and having much to give life!  However, being a persistent woman and determined to keep moving forward, I began to challenge how I defined myself.  The first time our group had to list 50 positive terms to describe ourselves, I was stuck at 3 and that was a challenge all in itself.  This was a big wake-up call.  I even provided the group a list of positive characteristics to help in the process.  Eventually, with hard work and confidence, I was able to list more than 3 words!

I have a paper dated 2015, on Self-Esteem and Substance Abuse as it related to Statement #12.  There were some common characteristics of people with low self-esteem.   The top one was negative self-talk, then frequently apologizing, focusing on “perceived” flaws and weaknesses, seeking constant reassurance from others and not feeling better even with positive feedback, refusing to accept compliments or denying positive comments you get, tending to be a perfectionist who’s afraid of failure.  Fortunately, there were constructive ways to build self-esteem and I’d like to share them.

  • Make lists, rereading them often and rewriting them from time to time (the exercise I described above).  These lists can include your strengths, things you admire about yourself, i.e., healthy relationships/spirituality/emotional growth.
  • Five greatest achievements/accomplishments in your life so far.  (I took my driving test 3 times as a 16-year-old before I passed and in the past 13 years have driven to PA/NJ by myself.  Now I consider that quite an accomplishment.)
  • Things you can do to make yourself laugh.
  • Things you could do to help someone else.
  • Things that you do that make you feel good about yourself.
  • Develop a personal positive affirmation.  (This is so important.  I use to look in the mirror every morning and tell myself that I was stupid, fat and ugly.  When I think of that now, I cringe.  The first time I looked in the mirror and said that I loved me, I knew I was on my way to building my self-esteem and that is my wish for each of you.)

Bonded in knowing you are unique and loved and deserving of loving yourself, Dee


 

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Monday Thoughts 12/07/2020

“A contented heart is a calm sea in the midst of all storms.”  ~~Anonymous

“Contentment comes from many great and small acceptances in life.”  ~~Anonymous

“Comparison makes finding contentment a million times harder.”  ~~Anonymous


#11 Enthusiasm is my daily exercise.

I treasure the moments of my New Life.


Enthusiasm has been at times difficult to embrace, especially this year with changes from the pandemic.  Many things are different and routines have been disrupted. As I struggled with practicing Statement #11, I found that switching out the word enthusiasm with contentment has helped me connect and appreciate moments each day.

Obviously, this has been a difficult year for numerous people; uncertainty with finances, the inability to connect with loved ones, fear of the virus itself, and the inflammatory political spectrum has stretched our nervous system to the extreme.  Being enthusiastic feels almost impossible, yet contentment feels practical.  In our WFS Program booklet, it states “Pause at random times throughout the day and identify something to appreciate about that moment.  Learn which things make you smile and feel excited.  Reflect on your life and find things to be thankful for.”  There are numerous moments throughout the day to embrace contentment, it takes conscious awareness and effort.

Even though life feels unsteady lately, it doesn’t mean sobriety has to be unbalanced.  Recovery is the one constant in life that I have complete control over and it means the world to me.  Taking stock of who I have become and the many positive changes in my life is a baseline of stability.  So even when life feels the complete opposite of enthusiastic, I can feel contentment, even amidst chaos.  Again, from our WFS Program booklet for Statement #11, the following questions are asked:

How can you increase your enthusiasm (contentment) today?

What energizes you naturally?

How can you enjoy what you currently have?

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

I am grateful for the word “contentment” that Karen used to express enthusiasm as she feels it today.  I love decorating for the holidays yet this year I find myself fluctuating between pure joy and exhaustion just from packing up the fall decorations and dragging the winter/Christmas/holiday decorations into the house.  I know the exhaustion is a combination of age, energy and space.  As I unpacked each snowman, decorated the tree and found a spot for just one more decoration, I found myself feeling lighter and dare I say, enthusiastic!  I treasure the memory behind each decoration and soon gratefulness was flooding into my heart.  Like many of us, I am missing family and friends that I haven’t seen in person for over a year.  Many of my snowmen are gifts from family and friends who know my love for snowmen.  I mean how can you not smile back at a cute, fluffy smiling snowman!  As Jean said, enthusiastic moments are just that – moments.  It’s the awareness of them that makes them treasures.

I’m feeling that this year, perhaps more than ever, we need that awareness to lift our spirits, to treasure the joy – contentment of those precious moments.

So here are some questions I have presented in the past that I find make me dig a little bit deeper to know there are enthusiastic, joyful, content moments to treasure even in uncertain times:

What is the last spontaneous moment you experienced and treasure?

What sparks your creativity?

When we do what we are passionate about, we have total confidence in our abilities. What makes you unafraid of making a mistake? Is it your passion, enthusiasm, joy that keeps you moving forward without fear? In the past, I was riddled with fear of making a mistake so I became stagnant, not opening up to taking on a project that in my heart, I was passionate or joyful about just thinking of it.  Where does your passion or joy take you that making a mistake doesn’t hold you back?

Answering these sensory questions may be just the spark needed to discover what brings a smile to your face, where you feel most creative and how to achieve the joy of enthusiasm, meaning and living a balanced life

I love the taste of:

I love the sight of:

I love the feel of:

I love the smell of:

I love the sound of:

The answers to these questions may lead us to create and enjoy an uplifting song, cooking a meal that evokes a powerful, wonderful memory, watching snow fall or depending on where you live, a beautiful fall tree with leaves still brilliantly shining, eating your favorite snack or food.  So much we can do personally and individually to bring about enthusiasm and contentment when we explore, discover and uncover the answers to these questions.

Bonded in discovering and treasuring the moments of our New Life, Dee