I thought it would be of interest to share a couple of stories with the clients, and get to use the “Big Book of AA” at the same time. The stories are of two female AA members, one a long time friend, the other is someone I am working with in the program.
I was at work last Sunday. It was the third day of a very hard and busy weekend. Because our crew was ahead of schedule. we had the opportunity to allow two of our crew to go home at 3:00 P.M. instead of working the full shift till 7:00 P.M.. Puzzle piece #1
The method of sending people home early is simple. We follow a list, and if you go early, your name goes to the bottom of the list. This allows for fairness for the entire crew.
I was third on the list that day, but the second person on the list choose not to go, so I took the spot, and left early. (Good for me) The person who was second, usually leaves when given the chance. Why not today? Puzzle piece #2
I decided since I now had the afternoon free, I would stop on the way home to pick up some groceries. Random decision or puzzle piece #3?
As I was leaving the store with my bag of goodies, I ran into a long time AA member. Puzzle piece #4.
I asked this person how things were going. She proceeded to tell me all the troubles that were happening in her life. I asked her when the last time she had been to an AA meeting (knowing it had been a long time). She was honest with me, and said she had not been to a meeting in over two years.
I shared with her that I have problems in life as well, but going to meetings helps me to deal with life situations.
She then proceeded to give me a long list of reasons (excuses) why she was not attending meetings. (Which I called her on).
I reminded her of the Sunday night meeting in Aylesford.
She agreed with everything I was saying, but would not be going to the meeting. Too busy.
I shared with her that I could not stay sober and content if I did not attend meetings. I agreed she was sober, but certainly not content. (In my opinion, by what she was telling me.)
I asked her what she was doing to help herself. She stated she prays every day for an answer.
I shared with her all the circumstances (or puzzle pieces) that brought us together at this time and this place. I explained to her, in my opinion, that she has prayed for an answer, and here I am standing in front of her with an answer for a struggling alcoholic. The higher power works through people.
We can recognize the path of life or choose to ignore it.
I wished her well, and we parted ways.
“I’ll see you at a meeting sometime, and I hope you find your answer,” were my parting words.
I don’t need a direct message from the higher power or a flash of light to wake me up, but if I start to recognize all the little signs, or how all the pieces of a puzzle fit, I start to see life is working with me and not against me.
I received a phone call from an AA member (9 months in the program).
She was a (or still is, I guess) a sponsee of mine.
We attended meetings on a regular basis, did some Big Book study sessions, and began to work on the steps.
She was two or three months sober and decided that she was two busy to attend meetings, and our contact became less and less. She would call once in a while to tell me things were going ok.
The most recent call was not such the case. She was describing a major “meltdown”, was very angry and had just had a verbal outburst with her parents and children.
“I feel like I did when I was drinking”, “I feel so ashamed”, “I can’t believe I’m feeling like this”, were some of the comments.
I told her that I was not surprised. I explained to her that this is why I still go to meetings. It’s not about the drinking any more but about the emotional and spiritual qualities that the program brings into my life. I attend meetings to learn how to deal with life. If I don’t go to meetings, I eventually will breakdown as well. I understood how she was feeling.
Instead for focussing on the negativity of the present situation, I quickly turned the conversation positive. I told her how proud I was of her, that in this difficult situation, she did not pick up a drink. (We both agreed that a drink was not going to fix this situation). I also expressed my extreme joy that she called her “sponsor”. I commended her on her courage to make the phone call, and on her honesty to share her raw emotion. I also took the opportunity to throw in a little big book stuff.
Step 7 prepares us for setbacks. We are human. Sometimes we will allow our defects to get the better of us, but we pick up and keep trying.
Step 10 allows us to accept our actions (positive or negative), and when we are wrong, make the appropriate apologies.
We talked for about ten minutes, repeating all the positives of the situation. She too expressed how happy she was for the phone call, that I was always able to speak honestly, put a positive spin on things and calm her down.
We agreed that meetings should be a part of her regular routine, and checking our schedules, set a time that we would attend a meeting together in the near future.
It was a great call, and my heart is filled with joy.
This artwork by a client shows her destiny tree. The branches of the tree and its roots are the hands of the artist, they symbolize the many roles we have in life, how we reach out to give or receive help on our journey of recovery. The branches hold the doves of peace and the roots have entwined in them the family members of the artist. - The roots surround the family of origin. The tree is in a bath filled with music, nature and the family. These are required to nurture the destiny tree to make it grow and change. It is a metaphor for recovery, having everything in balance to lead a healthy life.
We welcome Eric who has joined our clinical team as a Senior Counsellor.
There have been a number of evenings over the last few weeks where clients have enjoyed a social evening without drugs or alcohol. Clients have opted to play board games such as scrabble and monopoly, prepare and share a meal, or watch a movie or hockey match. Everyone has joked around, there has been a lot of laughter and non-malicious teasing. It has been good to see the balance being struck between working hard on recovery and having fun. Clients told me it is nice to have everyone in such a positive frame of mind.
With another client leaving us today having completed the program, we took the opportunity to say our farewells. This is an important moment, but we remind ourselves that leaving Ledgehill is not an event in itself; it is one more step in the unfolding of each individual’s recovery.
Saying goodbye as a group is not just for the individual client. It is a moment for the community of clients and staff at Ledgehill to recognise the efforts and achievements of the client, and to acknowledge that our group dynamic must continue to evolve as people join and leave.
Today at our evening reflection, we talked of change, moving on and transition. There is so much fear associated with change, leaving behind the known and familiar to step out. Over the last week there have been two clients who have moved on after completing treatment. We talked of the friendships made and the importance of true friends in recovery, and of the roles our family play. Our circle of trust.
Taking risks and sharing will change again as a new client comes to us tomorrow.
We had an external provider at Ledgehill today to provide a drumming session for our clients. I was gratified to find that our clients seemed to really gain from the session. One client fed back how the drumming session was very enjoyable. In doing so he related the story shared by the lady conducting the session – about how she had to set aside her love of music early in recovery because it triggered her drug use, but over the course of time and recovery work, it all came back and she now enjoys her music more that she did when she was using.