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Monday Thoughts 9.26.22

“How many times did I ask myself what I found so thrilling about drinking when it only brought unhappiness, loneliness, sickness, depression? I wasn’t ‘living,’ I was only breathing to feed an addiction.”

Jean Kirkpatrick, PhD., Turnabout

“To change requires a decision, a conscious decision to end all the misery you endure and that which you create for others. It is the beginning of accepting responsibility for yourself and your actions. Just thinking about it won’t work.”

Jean Kirkpatrick, PhD., Turnabout

“Exercise your mind and direct your thoughts. The effects will demonstrate to you that your thoughts are responsible for what happens to you.”

Jean Kirkpatrick, PhD., Turnabout


#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.


Just like a garden, Statement #1 is the soft, fertile soil upon which to plant New Life. Yet nothing can grow or bloom from a center of intense drama, emotional turmoil, or regrets…which is the same as addiction. Our founder, Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph.D. cleared the land, prepared the soil, and planted the WFS 13 Statements. Today, each of us can revel in this beautiful garden of life much like the Greek proverb reminds us, “A society grows great when old (wo)men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”

If you are new to Women for Sobriety, welcome! We are so happy you are here. Jump right into Statement #1 and plant your recovery. Embrace the Statements and connect with other women on the WFS Online Forum, during video/chat meetings, or in a face-to-face group, and know that you are never alone. Live, grow and seed your garden. Choose from a sturdy variety of trust, acceptance, and balance. Be sure to include lots of love. Pull and discard those pesky weeds each week and watch your garden blossom.

Maybe you aren’t new to recovery but are noticing feelings of disconnection or just ‘blah’ in your garden. It’s been a tough couple of years, and it’s common to hear that women are feeling unmotivated or isolated lately. This week, examine your garden so far. Do some self-comparisons, remember to measure yourself using your own yardstick, not someone else’s. How is your life different in sobriety and recovery? What was the most surprising thing that you have learned about yourself? Do you need to encourage growth in different areas of your garden? Are you seeing any pests? How will you care for your garden this week, this month, and next year? What was the one thing that you learned that made a difference in your garden?

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

I love that Karen shared Jean’s quotes in her message. It is a wonderful reminder of how courageous and insightful Jean was at a time when there was such a double standard for women. Rather than remain stuck, she took her life lessons and created a New Life for all of us. She is the master gardener! I am grateful that I am able to keep a close eye on my garden and it is all due to Jean’s vision of encouragement, empowerment, and accepting responsibility for how our garden grows.

This Statement completely changed my attitude and how I viewed myself and my substance abuse. I was more addicted to wanting people to like me than I was to learning to like and eventually love myself. The word “problem” was so profound to me as a problem meant there could be a solution. This is where I learned and understood that coping, problem-solving, and decision-making skills were of utmost importance. This is the answer to the question Karen asked about the one thing I learned that made a difference in my garden. If I wanted a beautiful garden, a New Life, it was my responsibility to learn the tools to do that. The most challenging part was identifying my triggers and having a plan to cope with those feelings. I soon discovered that some of my triggers were attached to not just the person or event that was occurring at that moment but almost like a compilation of anyone who hurt me. This was an eye-opener and helped me to respond when I was ready and not automatically react or completely shut down. I learned to reflect rather than react. I found that when I was in a calmer state of mind, I could think more clearly and have a conversation where I was heard and neither party would become just defensive. If I felt condescended to, I learned a one-word response – Ouch! It’s a universal understanding that what was said or done truly hurt. Without getting into a defensive mode, I made myself understood with just that one word.

Another coping tool was using positive words to define me. Those words led to self-worth, self-love, and self-respect. I have written lists over the years about my positive qualities and when I feel myself going back into negative thinking, wanting to escape, I get those lists out and realize a person who speaks a mean-spirited word or a triggering event has lost its power over me. I am in charge of my well-being and that means being gentle with myself. I encourage you to make a list of your positive qualities and keep it close.

I have shared this many times to write why you want to be sober. We all know why we don’t want to drink or use but knowing why we want a New Life is crucial to practicing Statement #1. Think about what you are doing that supports your well-being, helping you to be in charge of your life. What are new coping skills you have learned?

Remember in anything you do, ask yourself if it is good for your sobriety/recovery. And above all, know that while you are responsible for your life, you are not alone. Reach out for support and give support back when you are able.

Bonded in creating a New Life with coping, problem-solving skills that empower us in self-love, self-respect, and self-worth, Dee


WFS is proud to announce the start of the LGBTQ+ Affinity Group meeting!

Thursday, September 29 at 12pm ET

Please email [email protected] with questions and to obtain the exact location of the meeting.

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Monday Thoughts 6.27.22

women for sobriety decorative image statement number 1 wellbeing

“Sometimes we can only find our true direction when we let the wind of change carry us.”

Mimi Novic

“Every moment is a fresh beginning.”

T.S. Eliot

“With change comes the chance to fall in love with yourself again.”

Gemma Troy


#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.


The 2022 WFS Conference this past weekend brought women together from across the map and continued creating a lasting foundation of joy, connection, and love. A heartfelt thank you goes out to all the women who helped make this wonderful experience possible, from our WFS staff to the generous volunteers who brought this year’s event to life. It begins with our founder, Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph.D., and Statement #1.

Jean envisioned women coming together to support each other in recovery and brought the 13 Statements to life. While she could not see the future, Jean did however understand that women had different needs in recovery. From the beginnings with pen-pals, phone calls, and small face-to-face meetings, WFS is now reaching women every day through our robust online forum, virtual meetings, chats, email, face-to-face, and of course this past weekend, our annual Conference.

If you were like me this year and unable to attend, set your intention for next year! One way to get and stay motivated is to volunteer your time, talents, and skills to the WFS Planning Workgroup for Conference 2023.  It is also a FABULOUS way to put Statement #1 into practice, ensure your sobriety and work alongside other 4C women! (Plus, you get exciting firsthand knowledge of what’s up and coming!)

This week let’s put action into Statement #1:

What are my triggers? Remember a trigger is something that activates that part of your brain that starts to yell at you about drinking or using. Is one trigger standing out more than another? Why? How can you create more balance in your life?

How will you respond to those triggers? Always have a 5-point plan when the urge to drink or use hits hard. List a minimum of five things you can do to prevent relapse such as texting or calling someone, jumping on the WFS Online Forum, doing something physical like a brisk walk (if able), or keeping your hands busy with crocheting, drawing, journaling, weeding a garden. Meditation or repeating a mantra can ground you while you learn the root cause of a particular trigger. Lastly, you can always grab your WFS Program booklet and find a Statement that resonates with you.

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

A plan is so crucial in preparing yourself when a triggering thought starts shouting to drink or use. While it may be a person or situation, it comes down to a feeling that triggers these thoughts. It’s a message that what you are feeling is uncomfortable and numbing or running away from that feeling would make it all go away. That is an old message and yet familiar message which is why having plans in place before a trigger happens will give you a life-changing lesson that you need and deserve. What is that life-changing lesson? To know that you are worthy of being in charge of your reactions/responses, that you are growing stronger with each no to those triggers and each yes to YOU! The key is to know what your feeling triggers are. It is different and yet similar in many ways for each of us. It also changes as we change.  What triggered me in the past was feeling less than… That is no longer my trigger as I have worked really hard at believing in myself, speaking my voice, and learning to value who I am today. As you successfully handle triggers, you are building a strong toolbox of coping skills that support your recovery and also others as you share those successes.

I am including a list of triggers that I have used in my meetings to help identify triggers in order to create your 5-point plan.

What feeling/s triggered me? (From the Gottman Institute)

  1. I felt excluded
  2. I felt powerless
  3. I felt unheard
  4. I felt scolded
  5. I felt judged
  6. I felt blamed
  7. I felt disrespected
  8. I felt a lack of affection
  9. I felt uncared for
  10. I felt lonely
  11. I felt ignored
  12. I felt like I couldn’t be honest
  13. I felt like the bad guy
  14. I felt forgotten
  15. I felt unsafe
  16. I felt unloved
  17. I felt disconnected
  18. I felt frustrated
  19. I felt a lack of passion
  20. I felt trapped
  21. I felt like that was unfair
  22. I felt like I couldn’t speak up
  23. I felt manipulated
  24. I felt controlled

I added:

I felt a lack of compassion

I felt a lack of caring

I felt invisible

What would you add to this list?

The goal is to be able to develop your personal 5-point plan to protect your recovery and most importantly to say YES to you with love and compassion.

Bonded in accepting responsibility and building a strong toolbox to support your recovery journey, Dee


Thank you for blooming with us in Portland 

to our volunteers, presenters, and attendees!!!

women for sobriety annual conference bloom logo

You can still register for on-demand access to key moments from the 2022 Conference for $25

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Monday Thoughts 3.28.22

women for sobriety decorative image new life

“Sometimes when in a dark place you think you’ve been buried
when actually you’ve been planted.”
Christine Caine

“Everything is within your power, and your power is within you.”
Janice Trachtman

“One day you will tell your story of how you overcame what you went through

and it will be someone else’s survival guide.”
Brené Brown


#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.


A New Life. What does that mean? Is it really new… or is it the same life? At the beginning of sobriety and recovery, I would have answered that it was the same life and not anything new. After all, I was the same person, with the only difference being that I was sober. But it didn’t feel or look new, it just felt empty. I was needing more, and opened up to learning, absorbing information like a sponge.

Unknowingly, my brain was just beginning to heal. Alcohol negatively affects the body in any number of ways (a quick google search is eye-opening) but it takes a heavy toll on how the brain uses and processes information.  Women are more vulnerable than men with regards to Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) and can develop cirrhosis, heart damage, or have increased risks of immune problems with fewer years of heavy drinking than men.  Still, I didn’t feel any different (denial) but everyone else saw and felt the downhill trend. It was time for a change.

Sobriety and Statement #1 in action create a New Life, and today I feel and know it is a NEW LIFE! My life is beautifully felt, experienced, and lived. Lasting friendships, deeper family relationships with bright days unfold. There is an underlying layer of contentment even during the difficult days. This life is NEW. I feel connected, inspired, and grateful. I feel value, balance, and love. Living…growing…experiencing life…. yes, it is a beautiful NEW 4C life!

Hugzzz
Karen


Dear 4C Women,

I rebelled at first to take responsibility for my New Life. I eventually retired my “blame everyone else for my life” crown. It was challenging as that crown felt so comfortable on my head. In learning to take responsibility, I felt so empowered, in charge. I wasn’t expecting that. For me to accept responsibility for my choices felt scary. To admit I made mistakes and unhealthy choices meant I really had to accept Statement #1 in totality.

Little did I realize I was exchanging fear for freedom, guilt, and shame to learning major life lessons that helped me create problem-solving skills rather than automatic reactions, life-changing coping skills, and surviving the acceptance of my mistakes. Even now, when I question my decisions, I realize I am in a better space and it’s due to acceptance of Statement #1. I truly did not believe that taking charge of my life would empower me. I am so glad I persevered and learned a whole new perspective of what being in charge meant for me. I have been in recovery for a long time and yet I feel new each day and privileged to even think I might be a part of someone else’s survival guide as quoted by Brené Brown. What’s beautiful about her quote is that as we practice Statement #1, we each become a gift to others.

Writing Monday Thoughts is part of giving back for me. It is letting others know and understand that we are together, we are bonded in helping each other. Perhaps that is part of my empowerment story. It is bringing hope to others that it is possible and it is! The life-threatening problem that once had me has been exchanged for a New Life. Even when I feel unsure at times, I accept that I know it is temporary, that I no longer react impulsively in a way that might harm me but in the assurance that I will survive with the knowledge and support of my 4C sisters. What a gift, what a joy, and what a New Life!

Considerations:
Who is part of your support system?
What are the new coping skills you have acquired?
What is your gift to others?
Do you allow yourself to feel your feelings and learn from them?
What have you learned about yourself as you practice Statement #1?
What are your current struggles in creating your New Life?
What is the best part of your New Life?
I hope these questions will help you work through the challenges and rewards of creating your New Life.

Bonded in empowering change and supporting each other’s recovery journey, Dee


The Creative Crew is hosting another sale of handmade items and blooming specials!
Save the date to be able to shop at the Blooming Sale, June 10-11, 2022. 
If you participated in the 2021 Conference Auction or the Creative Crew Holiday Sale in November, your registration is still valid!  More information will be coming out soon!

 

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Monday Thoughts 12.27.2021

Monday Thoughts

“I chose sober because I wanted a better life.  I stay sober because I got one.”~~Unknown

“Live less out of habit and more out of content.”  ~~Unknown

“Sometimes when in a dark place you think you’ve been buried, when actually you’ve been planted.”  ~~Christine Caine


#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.


It is fitting that we are closing out the year with Statement #1.  The end of the year or New Year’s Eve has historically been a time of drinking and/or overindulgence, but looking closely, it’s just a routine or habit, simple as that.  It is not permanent.  Routines evolve and habits can be changed.  The same is true for drinking or using.  The end is a new beginning thanks to effort and action into Statement #1.

Our founder, Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph.D. knew that she needed to do something different, and was eager to learn how to change and adapt. Incredibly resilient, Jean took her inklings and intuition and created Women for Sobriety.  It was new and it was different. No one had ever focused on just the needs of women in recovery before.  She had left the place of shame, regret, and guilt behind her and set out on a new adventure, and in the process, continues to help women today embrace a sober New Life.

Welcome if you are new here!  Jump into your New Life and explore.  You will find women who feel just like you, who understand and who care.  You are invited to learn, grow, share, connect….Women for Sobriety is a soft, comfortable landing place. Settle in. This is also a wonderful time to instill a new routine and review your sobriety/recovery and adjust goals and aspirations.  Close this year with a fresh outlook and an open heart and mind!

Hugzzz

Karen


Dear 4C Women,

Jean was a true pioneer in helping women to heal from guilt and shame.  Over the years I have shared Nancy Cross’s message regarding the Guilt Trip.  While some of you may have traveled already or are at your destination or at home with your thoughts about shame and guilt during this holiday season, Nancy’s words still ring true for many of us, especially during the past couple of years when there has been more isolation and time for reflection.  So here goes –

The Holiday Season usually brings a busy travel season. I do hope none of you have booked (or are planning to book!) this trip.

The Guilt Trip

I had not really planned on taking a trip this time of year, and yet I found myself packing rather hurriedly. This trip was going to be unpleasant and I knew in advance that no real good would come of it. I’m talking about my annual “Guilt Trip.”

I got tickets to fly there on “Wish I Had” airlines. It was an extremely short flight. I got my baggage, which I could not check. I chose to carry it myself all the way. It was weighted down with a thousand memories of what might have been.
No one greeted me as I entered the terminal to the “Regret City” International Airport. I say international because people from all over the world come to this dismal town. As I checked into the “Last Resort” Hotel, I noticed that they would be hosting the year’s most important event, the “Annual Pity Party.” I wasn’t going to miss that great social occasion. Many of the town’s leading citizens would be there.

First, there would be the Done family, you know … Should Have, Would Have and Could Have. Then came the I Had family. You probably know old Wish and his clan. Of course, the Opportunities would be present, Missed and Lost. The biggest family would be the Yesterdays. There are far too many of them to count, but each one would have a very sad story to share. Then Shattered Dreams would surely make an appearance. And It’s Their Fault would regale us with stories (excuses) about how things had failed in his life, and each story would be loudly applauded by Don’t Blame ME} and I Couldn’t Help It.

Well, to make a long story short, I went to this depressing party knowing that there would be no real benefit in doing’ so. And, as usual, I became very depressed. But as I thought about all of the stories of failures brought back from the past, it occurred to me that all of this trip and subsequent “pity party” could be canceled by ME! I started to truly realize that I did not have to be there. I didn’t have to be depressed. One thing kept going through my mind, I CAN’T CHANGE YESTERDAY, BUT I DO HAVE THE POWER TO MAKE TODAY A WONDERFUL DAY. I can be happy, joyous, fulfilled, encouraged, as well as encouraging.

Knowing this, I left the “City of Regret” immediately and left no forwarding address. Am I sorry for mistakes I’ve made in the past? YES! But there is no physical way to undo them. So, if you’re planning a trip back to the City of Regret, please cancel all your reservations now! Instead, take a trip to a place called “Starting Again.” I liked it so much that I have now taken up permanent residence there. My neighbors, the I Forgive Myself’s and the New Starts are so very helpful. By the way, you don’t have to carry around heavy baggage, because the load is lifted from your shoulders upon arrival.

If you can find it, please look me up. I live on “I Can Do It” Street. – Meg Schell – 

Bonded in healing as we take charge of our life and well-being, Dee


Hear more about Statement #1

 

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Monday Thoughts 9/27/2021

“A part of me wants to keep my eyes closed and pull the covers over my head, block out the light trying to be turned on in my room…. a part of me is so afraid to open my eyes because the very nature of waking up is to be aware, to be accountable, to be responsible for the healing of my life.”  ~~Sarah Blondin

“Invest time and energy in your well-being.  Create an atmosphere of emotional safety for yourself.”  ~~Amy Leigh Mercree

“Are you prepared to put in the time and energy to create change in your life?  Are you prepared to make and keep that commitment?  If not you, then who?  Invest in yourself.”  ~~Akiroq Brost


#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.


It felt easier to hide under the covers of alcohol instead of moving through difficult or painful emotions, much like a child hiding from real or imagined fears. Yet unknowingly, I was also hiding from living and the beauty of life. Sobriety and Statement #1 in action lay a reliable foundation for recovery while adding connection builds security and cements well-being.

The WFS New Life Program aids women in reclaiming and redesigning their New Life and Statement #1 leads the way.  It states in our WFS Program booklet, “New Life begins with recognizing that we have a life-threatening problem and accepting the responsibility to be in charge of our own lives.  By acknowledging our reliance on alcohol or drugs, we can begin to explore why we sought to escape.”

Throwback the covers and embrace each new day. It is yours to create and experience. Of course, it is unrealistic to expect sunshine and rainbows every day, so learning new coping skills and techniques help us move through challenges and uncertainty.  If you are new to sobriety, develop a plan of action to insure your sobriety and new goals.  Enlist the help of other 4C women by becoming engaged in the WFS Online community or if there is a face-to-face meeting near you, connect in person.  What will you create this week?

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

The last quote from Akiroq Brost is the first question I asked myself when I made the decision to quit drinking.  Was I really ready to make such a drastic, strong and committed change in my life?  And of course, the follow up question – if not you, then who?  The answer is all there in Statement #1.    As I built my tool box of coping skills, I realized that while I recognized there were people and situations that triggered me, I also needed to dig deeper and uncover the feelings that created these intense reactions/responses.  I want to share a list from the Gottman Institute that helped me identify those feelings.

What triggered me?

  • I felt excluded
  • I felt powerless
  • I felt unheard
  • I felt scolded
  • I felt judged
  • I felt blamed
  • I felt disrespected
  • I felt a lack of affection
  • I felt uncared for
  • I felt lonely
  • I felt ignored
  • I felt like I couldn’t be honest
  • I felt like the bad guy
  • I felt forgotten
  • I felt unsafe
  • I felt unloved
  • I felt disconnected
  • I felt frustrated
  • I felt a lack of passion
  • I felt trapped
  • I felt like that was unfair
  • I felt like I couldn’t speak up
  • I felt manipulated
  • I felt controlled

I added:

  • I felt a lack of compassion
  • I felt a lack of caring
  • I felt invisible

What would you add to this list?

Identifying feelings is the beginning.  How to create changes in reacting and responding to these feelings is a crucial component of being in charge of your life.  This is not about ignoring feelings.  That’s what got me into trouble to begin with.  It’s understanding perhaps where or why these feelings are so intense that we would harm ourselves by making an unhealthy choice.  Instead, think about some of these triggers.  How can you take charge if perhaps you didn’t feel you could speak up, felt trapped, couldn’t be honest – anything on this list that speaks to you?

Working through these triggers helped me figure out what I needed to do to obtain and maintain my sobriety.  Let’s face it, these feelings will arise throughout our lives.  It’s our response/reaction that will protect our wellbeing and our recovery.  Feelings are just that – feelings.  Acknowledging and having awareness with a plan in mind will empower you and, in the end, be a healing process as you take responsibility and stand strong.

Bonded in empowerment, growth, acceptance that we are in charge of our lives, Dee


Shop on Amazon?

Shop through smile.amazon.com instead and a portion of your purchases will go to WFS – at no cost to you. Designate WFS as your charity today!

https://smile.amazon.com/ch/23-1972763

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Monday Thoughts 6/28/2021

“The beginning is always today.”  ~~Mary Shelley

“Never feel guilty for starting again.”~~Rupi Kaur

“The future lies ahead, calling us up, offering us a new chance to make a new choice every day, offering us the chance to go another way, to start over.  The possibilities are countless.  All you have to do is just dare to take them.”  ~~Zøe Haslie


#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.


Maybe you are completely new to sobriety, or maybe you have been trying to achieve more than a few days or weeks sober, or it is possible that you are just exploring sobriety. In any case, welcome!  Women for Sobriety is an empowering tribe of courageous women who understand and can relate to what you are thinking and feeling.  You are not alone!

Our founder, Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph.D. writes in a Collection of Sobering Thoughts (Volume 17), “When trying to quit drinking, it is extremely important for us to be around persons who feed us positive messages.  We cannot be around persons, who when learning that we’ve quit drinking say, ‘It’s just about time.’  Comments like that we don’t need.

Self-help groups are extremely valuable because the members reinforce each other’s commitment to a life of sobriety.  Why we are quitting drinking begins to have some appeal.  It may not be much, but we will be leaning in the right direction.  Another very important result of all this is that our defiance and anger lessen.  Even our fears begin to lessen and we start to have some real good feelings about ourselves.  It begins to look like we might make lasting sobriety this time.”  Sobriety and recovery?  Yes, you can!

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

What I deeply appreciate about support groups like ours is that we continue to learn from each other.  I’ve said this before, and I will keep saying it because the insight and life experience of those courageous women who walked into a WFS meeting or into a zoom room are the encouragers for others of how to work towards a New Life.  In one word, their recovery journey brings HOPE when it is needed the most.  In a world where there are struggles, uncertainty and even fear of being able to live free and supported in a sober world, we share a commonality that doesn’t need explanation.  As Karen said, it’s important to remember we are not alone, we are accepted and encouraged to keep trying.

I found my recovery path in WFS over 33 years ago.  As a facilitator, I wanted to be sure that it was a safe place for women to share, to know they would not be judged if they faltered.  Along the way, there was a lot of bonding together as well as sharing of fabulous coping tools.  I met women who empowered each other with uplifting insights and sharing positive characteristics in each other that they themselves had yet to discover.  In the end, we all learned that it was still each woman’s responsibility to take in all this incredible encouragement and support and create the New Life they yearned for and eventually believed they deserved.

What do you consider your major stumbling block in accepting responsibility?

Do you have an action plan to work towards accepting responsibility?

How are you an encouraging supporter and giving back to others what you received in your New Life?

How does HOPE show up in your world?

What responsibilities have you taken on in your recovery that has somewhat surprised and yet created confidence in your capabilities?

What coping tool has helped you the most?

What self-care/well-being actions are you taking?

Remember, it doesn’t matter why you start, it matters why you stay.

Bonded in your willingness to start being in charge of your life and well-being; bonded in playing it forward, Dee


Thanks again for a fantastic conference! We reached over 550 women and raised over $100,000 to bring the New Life Program to women in recovery. If you attended this year’s conference, please don’t forget to fill out the conference evaluation today!

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Monday Thoughts 3/29/2021

“When I got sober, I thought giving up was saying goodbye to all the fun and sparkle, and it turned out to be just the opposite.  That’s when the sparkle started for me.”  ~~Mary Karr

“Well-being cannot exist just in your own head.  Well-being is a combination of feeling good as well as actually having meaning, good relationships and accomplishment.”  ~~Martin Seligman

“Take a shower, wash off the day.  Drink a glass of water.  Make the room dark.  Lie down and close your eyes.  Notice the silence.  Notice your heart.  Still beating.  Still fighting.  You made it, after all.  You made it, another day.  And you can make it one more.  You’re doing just fine.”  ~~Charlotte Eriksson


#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.


New Life.  Two simple words.  Words that are packed with change, with possibility, and with being.  It is choosing to try something different.  Alcohol or drugs did not work.  That was messy, complicated, and painful, even dangerous.  New Life is not threatening and much like the above quote, it is quite the opposite.  It is the beginning of fully living.  It begins with a willingness and Statement #1.

Questions can zip through the mind when contemplating sobriety.  When will I have any fun? How will I manage __________?   What about the holidays?  Ruminating on questions like these can be a way to stall and avoid taking charge of your life.  Answers will come, along with understanding.  Early sobriety is a critical time for self-care.  You are beginning New Life, be gentle, adaptable, and curious.

Sobriety and recovery is a time for unlearning and becoming.  Create a real/virtual toolbox or folder and add helpful examples, empowering quotes or articles.  Avoid isolation and stay connected.  Give yourself permission to slow down and experience every hour differently.  Treat yourself like you have the flu.  Rest, eat small meals including protein and avoid sugar. (Sugar can dramatically increase cravings) Be active.  Get up 15 minutes earlier and begin your day by reading the Statements.  Choose one to focus on for the week.  Spend a few minutes either mentally reviewing moments of gratitude or write them down in a journal.  Learn about addiction; it is not a moral failure.  Notice your thought patterns.  Connect with other women in recovery.  Join the WFS Online Forum, or find a local face to face WFS meeting, many are getting closer to gathering in person again.  If there is not one in your area, make it a goal to start one.  Expand your interests.  If you are established in sobriety and recovery, now is a great time to examine your progress, create new goals or push through uncertainty.  Unleash the sparkle in your New Life!

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

Since the pandemic, the question most asked is how will I remain sober in this isolation?  The next question, as many establishments re-open, is how will I be able to maintain my sobriety when I am back out interacting and doing activities with others?  It’s as though we’ve been out of practice in sober socializing and it can be scary.  These are unusual times yet practicing Statement #1 has not changed when it comes to being in charge of our lives no matter the circumstances.  It might be more difficult yet it needs to remain a top priority as we learn new ways of coping.

My favorite philosophy of WFS, as Karen mentioned, is that substance abuse is not a moral failure. It is how we coped with life, our feelings.  Now we have and are learning to use positive coping tools to choose a better, healthier, life-changing way to create our New Life.  One thing I never considered initially was to discover what I enjoyed in life, what brought a smile to my face, a giggle that made me feel like a kid again.  I was so serious, which wasn’t a negative thing, yet I didn’t have balance.  I was in a fight for my life and while achieving abstinence was rewarding, I realized I wasn’t having much joy in the celebration of recovery.

So, one day I decided to re-discover what joy meant to me in the present.  It took a while as I started to focus only on what brought me joy in the past until I finally realized that I had this wonderful opportunity to explore new things.  I could build up my “fun, joyful” bank by searching out new ways of bringing that much needed balance into my New Life along with a few fun things from the past such as dancing, decorating my house with snowmen in the winter and bunnies in the spring.  I was still decorating but it almost seemed like a stagnant, joyless chore.   What a beautiful awakening the first Christmas I unwrapped each ornament and knickknack.  The memories started flooding in and my heart was full with an enormous surge of happiness.

When I went to a family wedding, there was a question on the invitation – What song will make you get up and dance?  I said, “Sweet Home Alabama.”  Well, it was played and I danced with pure abandon.  All of this while sober!

As we hopefully move toward being with others on a more consistent basis, it is important to have your well-being, responsible tool box ready and accessible to use.  The transition will be different for each of us depending on our current situation.  Healing and adapting to change is a process and this is the time to practice self-care, reaching out for support as this is a sign of strength, and knowing you have the ability, capability and willing heart to be in charge of your life.

And a problem is telling us there’s something that needs solving.  Accept this part of the statement and move on to finding your personal solution to change from a problem to a resolution that leaves you in charge of your life and well-being.

Are you ready to be in charge?  What and how do you plan to solve the problem that once had you?  It may seem obvious to stop drinking or using drugs but it goes much deeper than that.  WFS was written to create a New Life beyond just not drinking or using drugs.  It is about the inner change that will sustain our recovery.

I took a WFS workshop years ago and I will always remember the facilitator saying, “We will no longer be manipulated by our addiction.  We have free will and are able to make decisions.  We have control over ourselves even if it now seems almost impossible.  You can choose to have control.”  I encourage you to keep this thought close in mind when you feel triggered.  We may have manipulated ourselves and others when we were in active addiction yet we can use that same energy to choose differently, to be in charge.

Be encouraged, be a warrior, be willing!   Dee


WFS Virtual Conference
June 11-13, 2021
Look out for registration opening this week!

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Monday Thoughts 12/28/2020

woman with sparkler

“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 6/29/2020

“The beginning is always today.”  -Mary Shelley

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for your senses to grow sharper.”  -W.B. Yeats

“The beginning is the most important part of the work.”  -Plato

_______________________________________________________________

 #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.
_______________________________________________________________

 Welcome to your New Life!  Today is a brand-new day, filled with endless possibilities and it does not matter if you are 20 years sober or less than 24 hours sober, your New Life starts right now.  This day can be anything you want it to be; you are taking charge of your life and well-being. You are accepting the responsibility.

Today, embrace this beginning.  It states in our WFS Program booklet “New Life begins with recognizing that we have a life-threatening problem and accepting the responsibility to be in charge of our own lives.  By acknowledging our reliance on alcohol or drugs, we can begin to explore why we sought to escape.”  In balanced and long-term recovery, escape is not an option, but responding with our ability is.

No matter where you are on your journey, begin today.  If today is your first day sober, connect with the women on the WFS Online Forum.  Write your first post and introduce yourself.  A simple hello is enough!  If you are cemented in sobriety, how about reaching out to someone who has just said hello. During a Zoom meeting this week, share how you moved through your first month sober.  What did you do?  What didn’t you do?  How did your body feel?  Name some feelings and share your most often used recovery tool.  As our Motto says, we are bonded together!

Hugzzz

Karen

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hi 4C Women,

With the pandemic and alcohol sales skyrocketing, I am grateful for Statement #1.  This Statement helped me tremendously, especially in the beginning when I felt so intimidated to be in charge of my life.  For so long, I had been made to feel incompetent, inadequate and unable to make the right decisions.  I was honestly quite scared to be in charge of my life, however, I persevered and I survived my mistakes as WFS taught me to view these as life lessons.  I’ve had a LOT of life lessons yet knew and know I would never again give up accepting responsibility for my life and well-being.  It’s a pretty empowering place to be.

Last year our group did a Relapse Prevention Plan while acknowledging that there may be slips and relapses during the recovery process (process is the key word). 

Here’s a sample list of things that may cause slips and relapses:

           Stress

·         Dealing with the underlying issues in therapy

·         Becoming overwhelmed by feelings and emotions

·         Death of a family member, friend or other significant person in your life

·         Marital and family problems

·         Feelings of loneliness, shame, guilt, anger and abandonment

·         People’s reactions to changes you are making in your life

·         Fear of change and/or living without alcohol

·         Celebrations

·         Successes

·         Habits – familiarity

 

What would you add to this list?

This is where coping tools come in once you can identify what could cause a relapse or slip.  What would be a healthy way to cope with any of the above situations/feelings?  Do you have a plan A, B, C or whatever It takes to be in charge of a healthy choice?  There are costs (risks and disadvantages) and benefits (rewards and advantages) to our choices in active addiction.  I have expressed many times that we need to be honest with ourselves and the costs/benefits.  I was reluctant to do this exercise as I saw no benefit in my uncontrolled drinking.  However, my answers explained why at one time I did see the benefits (short term).  An example was drinking gave me an excuse for nothing being my fault, forgetting my problems, the feelings of rejection and being unlovable, immediately numbing pain.  When I did the costs, it became clear how short term and destructive the benefits were.  I didn’t realize how much until I wrote it down.  Long term costs became so obvious, i.e., hangovers, harming relationships, no room for personal growth, no problem-solving skills, health issues, legal issues.  So, while I was more than reluctant to do this exercise, I am glad I did.  There is something about seeing my life in words that has a greater impact on me.  I would encourage you to do this for your own well-being and benefit. 

Lastly, the final part of the exercise was to list the cost and rewards of NOT drinking or using drugs. I found the list of benefits much longer than the costs.  The list of costs was losing drinking friends, no quick fix for emotions and coping with intense feelings – all risky challenges for me at one time.  Yet, the list of benefits became obvious and long term.  They included improved health, memory of what I said or did, saving money, saving reputation, freedom from fears, building or rebuilding friends and relationships, and very important to me, being available.  The freedom of being available, whether it was to pick up my children or listen quietly and respectfully to another’s hurt and needs, was the best gift I received in my sobriety.  I treasure it to this day. 

What is your gift that you treasure in being in charge of your life and your well-being?  I hope you decide to take on the challenge of these exercises and share it with your WFS group or a trusted friend.  It is one way to start the process of understanding your personal costs and benefits.  The answers will provide coping tools in moving forward as you become more empowered in your life choices and well-being. 

Bonded in accepting the process of being in charge of our lives and well-being, Dee

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Monday Thoughts 3/30/2020

women for sobriety decorative image woman stretching

“It’s good to do uncomfortable things; it’s weight-training for life.”  ~~Anne Lamott

“The day she let go of the things that were weighing her down, was the day she began to shine the brightest.”  ~~Katrina Mayer

 “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”  ~~Confucius
_______________________________________________________________

#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.

_______________________________________________________________

In our current state of world events, it is critical for women in recovery to keep sobriety as our number one priority.  Yes, the daily, ever-changing news can invoke intense feelings of uncertainty, unease and fear but with Statement #1 in action we take charge of our lives and well-being.  We accept the responsibility.

Now is the perfect time to examine what your triggers might be.  Emotional triggers can change and evolve in our lifetimes, investigating what activates these feelings is essential.  When we identify what bothers us, we can take responsibility for our balance and well-being.  From Kerry Campbell, founder of the Academy of Well-Being:

“When we don’t recognize our triggers and our unhealthy reactions to them, it can lead us down a long, tortuous path.

Part of my recovering from a debilitating substance abuse problem involved understanding how triggers work and also learning healthier ways of responding to them. This is why now when I feel dismissed or rejected, I give voice to those emotions. I open my mouth and say, “You know, that hurt my feelings because…”

I have found that by giving my pain a voice, I no longer have to turn it inward upon myself and suppress it with alcohol. This helps keep me sober to this day.

Let’s go over a few other emotional trigger examples:

  • A person who felt ignored and dismissed growing up might start yelling whenever they feel they aren’t being heard.
  • A person who had emotionally unavailable parents (or partners) may get insecure whenever someone isn’t there for them.
  • A person who felt controlled in the past might get angry when they think they’re being told what to do.
  • A person who felt helpless for years might panic when they’re in a situation over which they have no control.

Do any of these emotional triggers resonate with you? Ask yourself, “How do I handle it when this occurs?” Many of us turn to food, alcohol, or other substances to dull our pain when faced with unresolved anger or other emotions.

A trigger is simply a stimulus that evokes upsetting feelings, which may lead to problematic behaviors. We all have triggers, and we all have unhealthy ways in which we deal with them. But we have the power to stop our automatic responses and re-route. The challenge is learning to identify our triggers and then recognizing them when they are happening.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” ~Viktor E. Frankl

Often, our triggers are experiences, situations, or stressors that unconsciously remind us of past traumas or emotional upsets. They “re-trigger” traumas in the form of overwhelming feelings of sadness, anxiety, or panic.

The brain forms an association between the trigger and your response to it, so that every time that thing happens again, you do the same behavioral response to it. This is because what fires together, wires together.

This means when neurons fire in the brain, they wire together the situation, emotions, and responses that caused that firing of the neurons in the first place. Sensory memory can also be extremely powerful, and sensory experiences associated with a traumatic event may be linked in the memory, causing an emotional reaction even before a person realizes why he or she is upset.

Habit formation also plays a strong role in triggering. People tend to do the same things in the same way. For example, a person who smokes might always smoke while he or she is driving; therefore, driving could trigger an urge to smoke, often without the smoker’s conscious thought.

Because our responses to triggers usually occur at the subconscious level, and we are completely unaware of the firing and wiring we have created, we are doomed to repeat self-destructive behaviors until we identify our triggers.

Once we know our triggers and begin to recognize them when they happen, we can see them for what they are—over-reactions to a perceived threat. Then, we can learn to respond in ways that are more life affirming, useful, and healthy for us.

There are two different types of reactions to triggers:

Emotional

We get stuck in negative emotions such as anger, sadness, or anxiety and react in extremely emotional ways—getting violent, yelling and screaming, withdrawing completely, etc.

Physical

We crave certain substances (food, sugar, alcohol, drugs, etc.) This happens because the emotional pain triggers our habitual way of indulging in some kind of physical activity that we are using to suppress the emotion or dull the pain.

When it comes to physical reactions, it helps me to create space by doing something else, for example, taking a walk.

For emotional reactions, it helps me to clearly communicate my feelings. Mostly I had to learn to understand my emotions, acknowledge them, and then give them a voice.

Instead of unconsciously reacting to a trigger/stimulus, you can learn to consciously respond to them by doing what I call The Trigger and Response Exercise.

Start by taking a sheet a paper and creating three columns. Title them: Trigger, Current Reaction, and New Response.

In the Trigger column, write each one of your triggers. You can think of these as things that “push your buttons.”

In the Current Reaction column, list how you normally react when this button is pushed.

In the New Response column, write what you could do as a conscious response instead of your normal knee-jerk reaction.

Below are a few examples:

Example 1

Trigger: When I feel that my spouse dismisses my comments or feelings about something

Current Reaction: I get angry and yell at him.

New Response: I’ll tell him my feelings were hurt.

Example 2

Trigger: When I feel insecure about my body

Current Reaction: I eat a bag of cookies.

New Response: I’ll go for a walk around the block.

Example 3

Trigger: When I get overwhelmed and stressed

Current Reaction: I binge drink.

New Response: I’ll practice deep breathing.

Now that you’ve written your list of triggers and changed how you’ll respond; you’ve got to learn to make these responses your habitual way of being.

Keep this list handy and use it as a guide. You can add new ways to manage your triggers as they come to you.

Don’t get discouraged if you falter, as it takes time to learn new ways of being. Just keep practicing them, until over time, they become your new habits. In this way, you are powerful in that you consciously own and choose how you respond to people, situations, and circumstances. You aren’t blindly reacting anymore.

Life is full of triggers, know this. But, also know you have the choice and the power to respond to those triggers in ways that are healthy and achieve better outcomes. In this way, you transform your life for good.”

These are excellent suggestions to practice Statement #1 while moving through our triggers and increasing our well-being.

Hugzzz

Karen

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Hi 4C Women,

Such great suggestions for learning healthy ways of coping in uncertain times.  It reminded me that it’s not enough to know our triggers but to have new ways of responding.  As Dr. Phil says, you have to replace an old habit with a new one.  It’s finding the new healthy one that requires introspection and a plan.  I was thinking of all the lists I have made over the years of what gives me joy and perhaps I need to incorporate those joys into my action plan. Of course, then there is the time I now have to clear out my office and closets but somehow those were not on my joyful lists!

I will say that I am grateful that we live in a day of technology where we can speak and see each other on many devices.  I grew up in a time of only landline phones, no face time, zoom or google meetings or echo devices. Heck, we didn’t even have computers, answering machines or more than 3 tv stations.  Yes, I am that old!   So, as we wait patiently or impatiently (depending on the moment), there are ways to cope as we uncover and discover those ways that are individually ours.  I wish for each of you to find your path and always remember that we are definitely in this together, supporting and encouraging when we have the strength to do so and to ask for it when we don’t.  Bonded in accepting the responsibility for our lives, Dee