Posted on

This Could Have Been Me

Recently, someone recommended that I watch a video on Netflix. Lipstick & Liquor is a documentary film that explores the growing number of suburban women who become alcohol dependent. It is a film about women and alcohol – one in particular who disappeared on a frigid December day. Thirty-nine year old Julie stumbled away from a minor car accident, leaving behind her eight year old daughter, an open container of alcohol and a host of questions that baffled her family, her friends, and the police.  Days later, Julie was found dead right around the corner from her home. 
We had a huge snow storm several weeks ago and similar events unfolded right in my own neighborhood. I didn’t know the woman well, but had met her once through my husband. He told me that she also suffered from a life-threatening problem. She disappeared during the storm and was discovered two days later, a victim of hypothermia and other injuries.
This very thing could have happened to me! She came from the same culture, socio-economic status, and community as I do. She was admired and esteemed by all who knew her. 
I remember, awhile ago, I started drinking in the morning and walked down to the local liquor store. On my return up the steep hill home, I slipped into the woods to have a few drinks, hiding so my adult children who were home wouldn’t know. The glass bottle was tucked safely under the waistband of my sweats inside my coat. I placed my arms around my tummy to keep my prize from escaping from my grip.  
I had sneaked out of the house earlier, no one the wiser save for the occasional passerby and the liquor store owner. He didn’t recognize me because I seldom frequented his store. I was ashamed to be known as a familiar buyer in my own neighborhood. Years ago, when it was owned by different people and I was in denial of my disease, I was a regular. Back then, I told my kids it was the licorice store because I would purchase licorice for them when I stopped to get my own treat. My own treat ~ really?
The news of the woman in my community has hit me hard!
I picture that day.  She saw the snow coming, went to church, cleaned the house, cooked her family’s meal, all while sipping her drinks. I imagine her husband getting frustrated with her – scared and angry, helplessly taking away her keys. Then, after he left for work the following morning, the cravings hit hard. Without a vehicle, she grabbed some cash and began the mile long trek to the store. Ahh… the bottle.  Walking home, she stopped and hid to take a swig. She slipped in the snow, already a foot deep and still coming down. She reached for her phone, but realized it was at home. She couldn’t get up.
I envision her husband returning home from work to a cold and silent house. He calls his wife’s cell and it rings in another room. He is alone, completely alone. Out in the driveway sits the new fifth wheel they purchased to vacation with this summer and in the coming years of retirement. After a long while of comforting his anxiety, reasoning that she is with a neighbor, or on one of her long walks, he faces his reality. He calls 9-1-1. A report is filed. The adult children are notified. Days pass. Another needless tragedy has struck. 
Liquor and lipstick – the middle class career woman’s essential purse items. According to the documentary, DUI arrests of women have increased by 30% over the last ten years. Binge drinking by women is also on the rise. However, if you were to query a woman’s family or friends about her habits, many would not even know she has a problem. That’s because women are more likely to drink alone and keep it hidden. 
This could have been me. It could have been you. We must stay vigilant so that our families do not endure this type of senseless loss. I have so many questions. How do I reach out to women in denial, women at risk, women who believe they are fine because they think they are responsible, women who call themselves highly functioning? How do we reach these women before they die? How do we reach all women? How do we help homeless women, women of color, and women in abusive relationships? How do we help them find peace? 
It is my sincere hope that these women will discover the benefits of Women For Sobriety (WFS) and its New Life Program. To learn more visit https://womenforsobriety.org/
~ MAC
Posted on

Monday Thoughts 9/30/2019

Monday Thoughts

“Never forget how far you’ve come. Everything you have gotten through. All the times you have pushed on even when you felt you couldn’t. All the mornings you got out of bed no matter how hard it was. All the times you wanted to give up but you got through another day. Never forget how much strength you have developed along the way.” ~~Tiny Buddha

“Change how you see and see how you change.” Zen proverb

“If you’re facing challenges, think of yourself as an ‘OVERCOMER.’ Make this your identity, that you’re the type of person who ‘OVERCOMES’ challenges.” ~~Karen Salmansohn


Statement #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.


Jean Kirkpatrick, Ph.D. often remarked about “white knuckling sobriety” and developed the WFS New Life Program’s 13 Statements of Acceptance to enjoy life in recovery while taking charge. Statement #1 in action enables a sober and balanced life.

On page 3 of the WFS Program Booklet, it states: Use the Acceptance Statements daily. Read them each morning, then choose one and practice it all day for a week. After that, select another and use it for a week. In time, the actions resulting from the use of these Statements will become automatic and your life will change for the better.” The simplicity of how to use the Statements insures manageability and ease of use.

Jean also encouraged daily meditation. In Goodbye Hangovers Hello Life, she wrote “Meditation need not be complicated. There are some complicated methods, if one wishes to delve into them, but the kind of meditation I found effective for me and others at this stage is merely to set aside twenty minutes each morning for absolute silence.” Today, with life filled with electronic gadgets and social media, those twenty minutes are like absolute gold.

How do you begin each new day?

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

Statement #1 always reminds me of Independence Day. The day we celebrate freedom from our addiction and take charge of our lives. How do we begin this new journey of responsibility? It could be as simple as taking a new route home to avoid the urge to buy alcohol or as difficult as deciding you need to go to treatment. Whatever decisions you make to create a healthier, more joyful New Life, it is important to recognize that this is how we learn to let go of guilt and shame, to learn new ways of coping with all the challenges and obstacles that will occur in our lives. It is a beginning of empowering you to be the 4C Woman that’s always been there and most of all, to remember this is a process, not a giant leap! Be gentle with yourself as you go through the process.

  1. Where do you start? What’s your plan A, B or C?
  2. What changes have you already made? How challenging were they to make?
  3. What’s your greatest fear/stumbling block to change?
  4. Do you have a strong support system in place when you may start doubting your capabilities?

Bonded in accepting responsibility to be in charge of our lives and well-being,
your 4C sister

Posted on

Monday Thoughts 7/1/2019

Monday Thoughts

“I dwell in possibility.” ~~Emily Dickinson

“There is no condition so severe that you cannot reverse it by choosing different thoughts. However, choosing different thoughts requires focus and practice. If you continue to focus as you have been, to think as you have been, and to believe as you have been, then nothing in your experience will change. ~~Mary Ann Hickman

“The best way out is always through.” ~~Robert Frost


Statement #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 thought of sobriety was terrifying to my alcohol damaged brain. How could I possibly live without alcohol? Drinking was the first line of defense and it worked for a long time, but then my life began to fall apart. Unable to see the connection between my misery and alcohol, I struggled and wallowed in self-loathing and negativity.

Initially, Statement #1 helped to retrain my brain. The words allowed me to understand that this was indeed a life-threatening problem. It was easy to think otherwise; denial had run very deep. Yet, repeating this Statement each morning enabled me to challenge justifications and begin to create a healthier thought process.

The continued practice of Statement #1 can be viewed as an insurance policy against relapse. Understanding the connection of well-being with sobriety, I engage in thought patterns that support my recovery. In our face to face group this past week, we had a wonderful discussion of how sobriety has facilitated empowerment and feelings of contentment. Taking charge feels absolutely great!

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

I love the analogy of sobriety being like an insurance policy and the best part is that it is free! I pay a decent amount for long term care insurance just in case something may happen and I need to be in a nursing facility. It protects my family and my little bit of assets. Statement #1 offers protection on our lives and our loved ones as well, providing security as long as we keep it paid up with our sobriety.  The key, as Karen shares, is to remind ourselves each day that we are in charge of our lives and well-being. There is no more denial but acceptance of our responsibility. The beauty of WFS is that if we have a slip, the safest place to share, learn and keep moving forward without shame and guilt is in a WFS group. Our program is one of abstinence – that is the goal to having a New Life. Yet, we all have a personal path to that goal and sharing our journeys with each other is how we support, encourage and lift each other up. There is so much to discover and uncover about our true needs. For me, this is how I learned to take charge of my life. Once I knew what my needs were and allowed myself to actually express them, I realized that WFS provided the tools to achieve them. I also learned that life is not stagnant. As new and different situations arose that I was not quite prepared for at the time, I still had the foundation of sobriety and the WFS program to provide me with the ability to work through them.  I have a favorite saying that I actually got from a calendar several years ago and it helps me when a new challenge presents itself. “Life is change, growth is possible, choose wisely.” Just as I chose to become sober, I must choose wisely in unsettling or changing situations. I learned what triggers me and I try my best to voice them long before they lead to an unhealthy choice. The biggest challenge is always family. The love, hurt, joy, pain and history all become entwined in my approach to problem-solving and decision-making. However, I am not one to give up or give in to harmful choices. I may be sad, angry, resentful or disappointed yet WFS has taught me to remain strong, resilient and always, always, hopeful.

As you celebrate the 4th of July, think of your personal independence that you are in charge of and how freeing it is to accept the responsibility.

Love,
a 4C sister

Posted on

Monday Thoughts 4/01/2019

Monday Thoughts

“For many years before leaving on Safari, I carried the same old map around in my pocket. The map was torn and faded from so much use, but it was always there like a comfort to me when I needed to know where to go. The map had lands on it that might appear strange to some, but to others on our Safari, they are familiar places: The Republic of Resentment, the Nation of Negativity, the Icy Fjords of Fear, the Dark Seas of Self-Doubt, the atolls of Apathy. Numerous times I would tell myself that I wanted to journey to a different destination, but each time I pulled out that map, I wound up in the old familiar places.

“In a supreme act of faith, I began looking for a new map. One day, when I feared there were no more places to look, I saw a light on in a quiet little place and small sign said simply, WFS. The women were leaving on safari and said I was welcome to travel with them. But, in order to go, I had to surrender any maps I already had, as they would not serve me in the place I was going. I solemnly placed my map onto the warm fire and could see the ashes of the other maps that had been placed there…..it gave me courage. No one person had all of the pages, but together they were complete. I gathered together all that they have given me and, as if by magic, the separate pieces came together to form a single map. There were many choices of ways to go, but no matter which path I chose, they would all lead to the destinations I had been seeking: The Hallowed Hills of Happiness, the Estuaries of Enthusiasm, the Glaciers of Growth and Greatness and the Lands of Love.”

~~LC, An empowered 4C Woman


Statement #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 quote this week came from a retired WFS pamphlet, the WFS Sobriety Safari Series which was submitted by Nancy Cross and compiled by many, many, incredible 4C women. Below, you will find each section that was used in the series. Feel free to discuss and answer the questions in each section. (slightly edited for space)

  1. Preparing for Departure:  We all came to a point where our addictions became an issue. What was it like for you? What prepared you to want to change your life? What will you take with you and what will you leave behind?
  2. Arriving in New Territory: What is it like as you touch down and land in this new place called Recovery? Why do we sometimes feel like we don’t fit and can’t understand the foreign language of love? What was the excitement/fear like for you?
  3. Exploration: Mapping Your Journey: How did you find you way around? What did you use to get and keep your bearings? Do you dare go out among the lions, tigers and unfamiliar territory without some advice or map?
  4. Obstacles & Unknown Dangers on the Recovery Trail: How will you respond to different obstacles in this new land? How will you respond to feelings of fear?
  5. Survival in the Wild: What tools do we need? How can we keep from being eaten or getting lost?
  6. From Darkness to Light: Sometimes the jungle is dark, or lands go on forever and we become tired. What keeps the sun at your back and hope in your heart on your sobriety safari?
  7. Treasures Discovered: What have you found? What will you carry forever? How will you decide what to keep and what to leave for others to discover and see?
  8. Understanding Our Discoveries:  What does this trip mean to you? How will your legacy be changed by your adventure here? What are you learning about yourself and the world you live in?
  9. Leaving a Trail for Future Travelers: How will people know where you have been? What legacy are you going to leave behind?
  10. Returning to Civilization: What can we do to fit ourselves back into the world from which we always tried to escape? How will our families, friends, and co-workers benefit from what we have learned on this sobriety journey?

Hugzzz

Karen


Hi 4C Women,

I have the pamphlet of the “Safari” series and used it at the WFS meeting a few years ago. The questions provided a great deal of discussion and a lot of personal insight was gained from sharing and uncovering our journeys in sobriety/recovery. My favorite question was from Chapter 9 regarding the legacy I am leaving behind.

It brought back the memory of a member in the group from several years ago who had one year’s sobriety when she sadly passed away from an undiagnosed heart problem. However, what she did in that one year was phenomenal. The legacy she left behind was one of resilience, courage, commitment, fearlessness, loyalty and a trusted wife, mother and friend.

That has stayed with me all these years and it has kept me grounded when the tough times have confronted me, as it does each of us. Amid the struggles, I keep that question in my mind – how will I be remembered? Even with the mistakes I’ve made, I hope I can show that I am learning from them, that I didn’t collapse completely and am still willing to learn more about my reasons for my current choices.

While I have remained sober, I know there is still emotional and spiritual growth that needs to take place. That’s okay with me because in my heart, that is the legacy I want to leave behind – that no matter what, I am willing to continue on this learning and healing journey.

I am feeling very melancholy today as I have been packing my daughter’s house and coming across so much wonderful history and realizing how much has changed. I yearn for those fun times yet that is not what today, this time, is bringing. While the tears flow, I am grateful for having those fond memories and always hopeful for better times ahead. This is what WFS has taught me and mostly that I am not alone and will make it through with the support, encouragement and love of my WFS sisters.

We are bonded together in taking responsibility for our lives and our well-being on this journey.

– A beautiful 4C Woman

Posted on

Monday Thoughts 12/31/2018

Monday Thoughts

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process, is its own reward.” ~~Amelia Earhart

“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” ~~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“My life used to be like that game of freeze tag we played as kids. Once tagged, you had to freeze in the position you were in. Whenever something happened, I’d freeze like a statue, too afraid of moving the wrong way, of making the wrong decision. The problem is, if you stand still too long, that’s your decision.” ~~Regina Brett


Statement #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.


With the New Year, comes new decisions. The decision to live life without alcohol or drugs is a decision that is made every day by 4C women all over the world. Waking up sober, feeling content in not only remembering activities and conversations from the night before but enjoying the moments comes from multiple decisions from the preceding 24 hours.

The very first time the decision to embrace sobriety is made, it feels incredibly difficult if not impossible. Racing thoughts and muscle memory for substances can be strong, but with the Women for Sobriety Program in action each and every day, sobriety and recovery become cemented. You are never alone; the WFS Online Forum offers a wealth of information, plus connection to understanding women. You are never alone, for we are bonded together in our decision.

New to sobriety and recovery? You are invited and welcomed with open arms to attend a face to face WFS meeting, use the WFS meeting locator here.  Or, if there is not a meeting near you, please take the time to explore our WFS Online Forum here. The WFS Program and Statement #1 in action propels every woman into experiencing a 4C New Life!

Happy New Year!

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

Can you believe that tomorrow will be 2019! I find myself reflecting on the choices and decisions I made in 2018, over 30 years since I made the decision to quit drinking. Each year has challenged me to make both major and minor decisions and while I have struggled along the way, the decision to quit drinking has remained the most important one of my life. Even though I thought life would be a breeze once I stopped drinking, I soon learned that it was definitely not stopping drinking that was life-changing, it was changing my thoughts, responses and so much more. Yet, if it wasn’t for the WFS program, I doubt that I would have made this absolutely necessary transition to being in charge of my life and well-being. I learned how to cope, to feel safe in sharing my feelings and concerns without judgment and to especially embrace the happy moments. In the past, I either kept looking for the other shoe to drop so to speak or completely missed the joy right in front of me. Being in charge of my well-being seemed an unrealistic concept to me. Yet, this is the process that takes place when practicing the WFS Statements.

For me, it’s all about choice. Each day we get the opportunity to react, respond and choose how we will be in charge of our well-being, sobriety/recovery and to learn from both our mistakes and successes. I love how Karen expressed the feelings of tackling racing thoughts and muscle memory as we make the decision to become sober. While definitely difficult, it is true that we are not alone. I am most grateful for that.

As you read this message and are not sure how to start or continue on this sobriety journey, consider the rewards of sobriety and how that impacts your life and your relationships. Although it may be obvious to you, putting it in writing may be just what you need to uncover, discover and recognize what matters to you and what you are willing to do to get it.

Bonded in empowering our lives by being in charge of our well-being,
4C WFS Member

Posted on

Monday Thoughts 10-1-18

Monday Thoughts

“Behind every successful woman there is a tribe of other successful women who have her back.” ~~unknown

“Tell your story. Shout it. Write it. Whisper it if you have to. But tell it. Some won’t understand it. Some will outright reject it. But many will thank you for it. And then the most magical thing will happen. One by one, voices will start whispering, ‘Me too.’ And your tribe will gather. And you will never be alone again.” ~~L.R. Knost

“We spend so much energy and breath trying to be accepted in tribes that are not in our ‘soul DNA’. Learn to walk away from a table that has no seat reserved for you. Align, go with your flow and the rhythm of synchronicity will lead you to your tribe.” ~~Malebo Sephodi


 Statement #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.


Sometimes it comes in whispers, and sometimes it comes through a megaphone, but it comes. It comes when it no longer works, it comes when it makes absolutely no sense, but it comes. Yet the tribe, the tribe awaits. Women are welcome, anytime, from anywhere. A beautiful tribe of 4C women has open hands, minds and hearts.

Taking hold of any number of strong hands from the tribe, Statement #1 begins the WFS New Life Program. We are women reaching out to one another, bonded together in overcoming. From the first month of sobriety to the toughest day spent in recovery and beyond, we support each other. We listen, we laugh, we cry, we encourage. We are one in the same, we are capable, competent, caring and compassionate. We are the tribe of 4C women.

Even before knowing the need, before the whispers or megaphones, this tribe of strong and mindful women, live life. Real life, with all the joys, the sorrows, the ups the downs and everything in between, but always ready to welcome and extend a hand and heart. Jean Kirkpatrick, PhD, created and rooted this ever-growing tribe, inviting any woman desiring a new way of life to embrace Statement #1 and live, fully. Every day, through the WFS Online Forum, Face to Face meetings, on the phone or in person, this tribe forever strengthens and connects.

“We are capable and competent, caring and compassionate, always willing to help another, bonded together in overcoming our addictions.” WFS Motto

Hugzzz
Karen


Hi 4C Women,

I love belonging to this tribe of 4C women. After 30 years, I remain enthused and grateful for the women I have met and watched grow emotionally and spiritually through the WFS program.

Statement #1 gave me hope. It was life changing to realize that I was able to take charge of my life and actually accept the responsibility! It was freeing as it changed my negative thinking from believing I was stuck without a way out to learning new coping tools for what life handed me, all the ups and downs. It was tricky at first because those up times could be triggers that I had everything under control forever. Bring on the challenges – I was ready! Well, life experience has shown me that there is always room for learning new ways of coping and to be aware of diverse triggers. I’ve learned what many of my triggers were, some new ones along the way, and created plans to handle them as best I could.

This may also be a time when you are struggling with staying sober/not using. WFS is an abstinence program yet it is also a safe place to seek input, learn more about yourself, new ways of coping with life situations/people and to make plans for whenever such a situation arises again. Trust me, there will be more situations/challenges to face yet as we continue to learn, we build up the confidence to handle them differently. The goal is for a New Life and each of us is in charge of making that happen but remember we are never alone. Take the time t o reflect on the who, what, why and where of your urges and make those plans. This is the time to uncover our wounds, begin our healing and discover all the possibilities that lay before us.

It is also important to have a strong support system where you feel safe in sharing. This is what I love about WFS. We do the best we can, no judgments, no blaming ourselves if we make a mistake. WFS encourages learning from our mistakes, no beating ourselves up as this can be a trigger for “what’s the use?” Freedom, availability, self-respect, self-love, self-worth and all those other positive self’s – that is the purpose of practicing Statement #1. We are gaining a whole New Life and that is worth it all.

Do you know what your triggers are?
What coping skills/plans have you developed?
What are the benefits of recovery? (i.e., defining boundaries, healthy relationships)
What is the most challenging part of recovery at this point in your life?
Who makes up your support system?
How has Statement #1 changed your approach to recovery?

Bonded in accepting responsibility,
4C WFS Member