Reason v. Experience: Step One - Rebecca Frederick

“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.” P. 59

Rebecca Frederick

For many years, I “tried” to get sober on my own terms. After all, I was an intelligent, educated woman and my family told me so my entire life. I was the oldest of three girls, the “good one” my sisters would say. I was definitely the least likely to become a drug addict. So, what if I over indulged a little here and there? I should be able to read a book and teach myself how to manage on my own, like the smart girl that I was. Plus, my young parents were both alcoholics and I saw what it did to them and our family, I had vowed at a young age I would never let alcohol get ahold of me. And yet I took my first drink at 13… For decades I lived under the delusion that I was in control and could stop when I wanted, and it almost killed me. The truth is that as soon as I ingest any mind-altering substance into my body, I lose any ability to stop entirely. My addiction has taken me to places I promised myself I’d never go.

Our book tells us that alcoholism is a disease, not a moral failure, no longer a choice. It is the only disease that I know of which tells our brain we don’t have it. Not me. Nope. I’m nothing like y’all. I had a job as a registered nurse and a family who loved me. Yet as most of you know, alcoholism doesn’t discriminate.

 By the time I got sober the last time at age 32, it had been years since I had a choice whether I would stick a needle in my arm. I didn’t understand this until I came to Texas in 2015, where they were doing things a little differently than they did in Chicago. At home, they told me things like “meeting makers make it” and “easy does it” and “one day at a time.” So, I went to a lot of meetings, took it easy and lived one day at a time but I always got high eventually. In Austin, I noticed something a little different; young people were working steps and staying sober and helping other alcoholics as quickly as possible.

The thing is, we are dealing with a progressive and FATAL disease and now I know that I don’t have the luxury to take things easy. I needed to get through the steps to save my life. My mother (my angel) sent me to Austin for sober living because my sister who wanted nothing to do with her heroin addicted sister would be near-by in case of emergencies. I’ve come to believe that this was one of the many divine interventions God had in store for me, because little did I know when I was on the plane that I would end up in not only one of the biggest party cities in the US, but the strongest most amazing sober community I could have imagined. In order to live in my sober home, I was required to get a sponsor and work steps.

I really didn’t want to be homeless in a city I didn’t know. For the first time in my life I sat down with a woman who had been through the 12 steps of AA and had her own experience and knew she needed to share what she had in order to keep it. We read Alcoholics Anonymous together and she shared with me that she had once been strung out on drugs, but she had recovered and was free. Free to enjoy her life moment by moment and go anywhere and do anything she pleased. I had my doubts. But I was so spiritually bankrupt, physically and mentally deteriorating, I listened. I decided I had nothing to lose.

In Alcoholics Anonymous I learned that alcoholism (and drug addiction) is a two-part disease that affects the mind and also the body. The difference between the body of an alcoholic and a non-alcoholic is an odd little term they use “manifestation of a physical allergy.” Interchangeable with “phenomenon of craving” the body of an alcoholic craves more alcohol or drugs once the first drink or drug is ingested. Once an alcoholic takes the first drink, the alcoholic has lost all control of how many drinks he will take. There were many nights in my drinking days where I would go out with every intention of having two drinks with friends and end up buying everyone at the bar Jager bombs, spending all my money, waking up late for work, wondering what had happened. The Big Book also tells us that “no real alcoholic ever recovers control.” Unwilling to hear it before, I had to smash my previous delusions.

The second part of alcoholism they talk about in Alcoholics Anonymous is the “obsession of the mind.” It is in this deception of our own minds that our disease is trying to kill us. It tells us things like “this time will be different” or “I quit for a period of time so it’s safe for me to drink again.” My disease shows up in other areas of my life as well and may tell me that a relationship with a man, my career or external or material things are more important than going to a meeting. And then before I even realize what has happened, I get separated from my program and my higher purpose, I end up strung out again.

Alcoholics Anonymous tells us than unless we have a spiritual experience that will interrupt, the cycle of addiction is doomed to repeat itself over and over until we are willing to accept this truth. Not only an experience, but an entire personality rearrangement, an upheaval of our previous thoughts and attitudes, an “entire psychic change.” The steps are a guide to a relationship with a God of our understanding and a rebirth of power over our lives and our disease, we can experience peace. It is promised. I am living proof of this.

But we are in luck, if we concede we have this disease of alcoholism and fully understand that we will drink again unless we experience this spiritual awakening, because we have a sick body and mind, we still might have a chance. Read further and you will find that Alcoholics Anonymous is a step by step instruction manual toward a solution to all our problems. I had no idea what that meant when I was finally willing to jump into the work. I am accepting of the fact that I had to experience every horrible thing in my past to appreciate the life I have today. By the Grace of God and this program I am sober today. I continue to practice the spiritual principles of 12 step recovery because I am very clear that I can go back to my drug use at any point. I am not afraid.

Thank you for being a part of my story

Life and Recovery - One Mothers Story

Life & Recovery - One Mother’s Story

The thing that I have learned about life is you never know what or who lies on your journey and the places it will take you.  The journey will enlighten you and expose you to lessons and experiences that will make an impact on you forever.

One of my journeys began with my son Matthew (Matt), “gift from God”. My gift was born on February 5, 1984. My gift was adorable, sweet, affectionate, charming, annoying, kind, funny, compassionate, mischievous, sensitive, and at times, sad, lonely, anxious, and insecure.

School was an overwhelming obstacle for Matt (not the friends or the fun!). Failure and anxiety had become part of Matt’s journey.

Super mom, that would be me, was to get this all straightened out. A new journey commenced, that of advocacy, tutors, counselors, therapists, learning interventions and accommodations, IEP’s, doctors, medications, vitamins, whatever it took. Medication seemed to help but it was apparent that Matt was also self-medicating; our journey become more challenging.

Several years into Matt’s work life he was injured on the job and that resulted in nerve damage to his arm. Doctors opened the door wide for Matt to access opiates.  Matt grabbed on with both hands. On Friday, August 5th, 2011, I discovered that Matt was using heroin. My heart, soul, and spirit shook. Understanding that possible recovery would be a dynamic, grueling, complex process. I knew I needed help in order to support Matt.

Family Anonymous meetings became my anchor.  There I found love, support, understanding, acceptance, friendship and a new family. I learned to pray a new way from my friend Colleen. It wasn’t about praying for my outcome but strength to handle whatever the outcome.  One evening at my house, I held Matt in my arms as he cried and wailed for me to please help him. His pain pierced my heart. His years of addiction made him a person who was suffering biochemically. He was altered and an abyss of pain. I knew I could not fix this or him, and all I could do was love unconditionally.

On Saturday, September 21, 2013, Matt, my gift from God, lost his battle with addiction. His wails were now my wails. My journey through grief was going to be life long. How do you say goodbye and live after you have lost your child? My strength comes from my daughters, Erin and Cathaleen, my grandchildren, my dear friends, FA, and my faith.

Over were the overwhelming feelings of worry, anguish, terror, and fear.  They were replaced by loss and sorrow that brought me to my knees and how grateful that God was kneeling with me. As I continue on my grief journey I embrace every single moment I had with Matt.  Matt’s life and death have made me a kinder, more forgiving, grateful, tolerant, loving person.

The first morning of my sorrow I woke up, I got out of bed, dressed in a cute outfit, did my hair, put my make up on.  This is a promise I made to myself and Matt that I would do everyday. Matt, in his charming way often said to me “mom, you look good, you are a pretty cute lady”.

I still have nights I cry myself to sleep, but I get up, I breathe in my strength, and I put on a little extra makeup.  This is my gift to Matt, my gift to God.

Maureen

PS My heart overflows with pride for Grace Recovery co-founders, Leah, Rebecca, and Natalie. Thank you for loving Matt unconditionally.  


Connected Heart #2- The Mental System

As we begin our journey into the Connected Heart, we start our exploration in the first of our four systems, the Mental System, with the Wolf as our guide. The Wolf connects you to heightened senses and intense presence as you learn how your own mental system operates within you.

The Wolf

“Take my eyes and senses to see with. I give you the gift of mental clarity and curiosity, so you will be able to see the thoughts and beliefs of your mind that were too scary to see before.”

Each system of our Connected Heart communicates with us in the language of that system. Current issues or dissatisfactions in our lives show up in our mental system as thoughts and beliefs about ourselves, others, and the world. At Connected Heart, we call these our Disconnected Beliefs. These belief systems become patterns of thinking, acting, and ultimately the lens we see the world through. This creates a feedback loop where we only see the evidence of these belief systems, seemingly confirming these thoughts as true.   

These disconnected beliefs block us from Heart-Knowing, our natural state of well-being, worthiness, freedom and love of our self and others.   

Disconnected beliefs live in the mental system. Many of us operate largely from our mental system and use it as the primary source of information about ourselves and the world. We tend to identify with the mental system and believe this is the totality of who we are. The reality is that we are much more than just the activity of our mental system! Yet because of our modern society’s over-identification with the mind and our disconnected beliefs, we don’t recognize that we are far more and we don’t gain access to the other systems. We then stay stuck unable create the change we desire.

Journey into your mental system and learn what disconnected beliefs are active, blocking you from your natural state of worthiness, well-being, and freedom!

Join us in creating a world of Connected Hearts!

Until next time,

Love,

Robin and Wendy





I Choose Bold - Coaching and Consulting

Dear Self,

I am going to take things slow and breathe deeply.

I am going to love on you just like I’d love my bestie.

I am going to open my heart to you and listen from there.

I am going to let go of any shame or blame. It’s covering up what I need to learn.

In uncovering, I discover parts of me I had never known.

So much to learn, to connect with and understand under this veil.

Some parts need to be seen, some need to be heard and some need healing.


I welcome all of you- the broken, the chipped and the healed.

I celebrate you, whole, as a woman, experiencing her life.

As I love you, I get to know you.

As I get to know you, I realign and rebuild.

I will not be unkind and unfair. I will support you.

I will take deep, full breaths and get into my body and away from the chatter of my ego mind.

I can slow down now to speed up later.

This is my time to just BE with you.

You're My Favorite!

Love, ME

I Choose Bold

Source: ichoosebold.com

Connected Heart #1

Journey Into Your Connected Heart

Hi, Heart Knowers.

Welcome to Connected Heart, a journey into the depths of your mind, body, heart, and soul.

Join us on an adventure that leads to connection, resilience, unleashing your full potential, and ultimately a return to Heart-Knowing.

Heart-Knowing is our natural state of well-being, worthiness, freedom, and love. Your journey to Heart -Knowing begins now!

Within each of us exists a Connected Heart, made up of 4 systems: the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual aspects of ourselves.

These systems are how we translate our experiences in the world, and they are the basis for understanding all of life’s challenges.

Negative life experiences create blocks in these core systems keeping us from reaching our full potential.

Step into the journey of your Connected Heart and begin the exploration into each of your four core systems. Learn the healing ingredients of curiosity, compassion, vulnerability, and responsibility that assist you along the way, allowing you to return to Heart-Knowing.

We’re excited to have you on the journey! Let’s create a world of Connected Hearts together!

Until next time,

Love, Robin and Wendy

Connected Heart

Source: connectedheart.net

Teressa

My names Teressa, and I’m a grateful recovered drug addict. My struggle is part of my story, and I’m so grateful for my journey. It has made me the woman, mother, sister, daughter and friend that I am today. The tools of this program have enabled me to tap into an amazing power that gives me the ability to show up for others and myself.

 I don’t remember much of my childhood, but I do remember always feeling out of place. I was surrounded by drug and alcohol abuse growing up and its prevalence caused me to believe this way of life was normal. By eleven years old, I had adopted the same lifestyle as the adults around me. Drugs enabled me to face life and I assumed they would continue to be the central fact of my existence. They gave me strength, independence, security and confidence. However, Addiction is a progressive illness and it did not take long before I reached extreme lows. By age thirteen, I was taking pills, smoking weed, drinking and began smoking meth.

 After some consequences that landed me in a juvenile program, I entered my first 30 day residential treatment center.  I was able to stay off meth the following years of high school but supplemented with other drugs because I believed meth was the problem. What I didn’t understand at the time was that the drugs were in fact not my problem, they were my solution to my own internal condition. Yet the other drugs landed me in many more juvenile programs, caused me to repeatedly be expelled from school, and created issues at home.

 A big part of my story and another addiction I struggled with was selling drugs because I was obsessed with the lifestyle. I was seventeen when I left home to pursue an abusive relationship and was introduced to heroin.

 Once I started using heroin I felt like I had finally found my place. Through relationships ending and new ones starting, I hid my addiction from my family and friends for as long as I could. My deception came to a head when I couldn’t disguise it anymore.  I got honest with the father of my children after many legal consequences and started Suboxone for a few weeks until I got pregnant with my son.

 When my son was six months old, my mom went back to prison and I started using heroin again. I had tried to get sober for years - Methadone maintenance, treatment centers, relapse prevention plans, sober livings, I followed discharge plans, and for some reason I just could not stay sober. I truly believed I had to kill myself to end the cycle.

 God had other plans for me. I landed in a treatment center that actually sat me down, opened the big book and explained the truth behind step one. I felt a sense of relief that I didn’t think could happen. I was not alone. I was hopeless and doomed but there was a program that could give me freedom and all I had to do was put in the work. So, I did and though I’ve had some struggles sober, I’ve recovered from a hopeless state of mind and body.

 Today I am free. For the first time in my life I have begun to learn who I really am and begin to love myself. I’ve formed the most amazing relationships along the way and I work in my career field that I love. I’ve been able to show up as a mother to my kids and make up for time that I lost. Not only has my life blossomed but I get the opportunity to help others and take women through the same work that set me free. Watching women gain freedom for themselves and pass it on to others is truly a special experience. I’m so grateful for my spiritual life and the faith I’ve acquired along the way. I’m grateful for this program, the change that has occurred in my life and the ability to share my story.

Intro to 12-Steps

I’ve been asked to contribute an article on 12 Step Recovery for our monthly newsletter for the women of Grace Recovery ATX. There is so much I would like to share with you, it is difficult to know where to begin. It is my goal to provide information on 12 step recovery and share my experience on incorporating the 12 steps into my life, while maintaining anonymity which, according to the 12th Tradition of Alcoholics Anonymous, “is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions”. (p. 562)

I choose to identify myself as a recovered alcoholic and recovered drug addict because I have experienced a “spiritual awakening” or if you will, a “psychic change” by working the 12 Steps out of the book, Alcoholics Anonymous, with the spiritual guidance of a female sponsor. I will not identify myself publicly as a member of any particular fellowship,( i.e. Alcoholics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Heroin Anonymous, Crystal Meth Anonymous.)

We at Grace Recovery ATX would be delighted to give you information about meetings, sponsorship or literature, or if you are interested about anything else about these spiritual programs of recovery! The great thing about Austin is that on any given day, multiple times a day, there are drug addicts and alcoholics meeting to share hope and solution about a new way of living. The aforementioned 12 Step fellowships also have websites detailing meeting locations and times, with 24-hour hotline services if you need to speak to another addict. Links will be included in this article.

In my own personal recovery, I see the Power of “the program” come to life when one practices the spiritual principles outlined in our text, rather than recite passages or give a personal interpretation of the words that were precisely executed in the 1930’s. The amazing thing to me is that the words in Alcoholics Anonymous are still relevant to my life and those of hundreds of thousands of others; young and old, black and white, alcoholic or drug addicted, around the world today, in 2018.

The “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous was written in 1939 by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith in 1939. It is believed Bill Wilson had his last drink on December 11, 1934 and the official founding date of Alcoholics Anonymous is June 10, 1935, the day of Dr. Bob’s last drink. It is important to note that AA identifies as a spiritual program, not a religious one, in case that deters anyone from participating. We will explore further in upcoming months exactly what that means. AA encourages and supports you to find a personal Higher Power through working the program as outlined in the text. We share our “experience, strength, and hope” and take other alcoholics and addicts through the work, as was done for us by those who came before us.

As I approach the anniversary of my 3rd “Birthday” in recovery this week, it is a natural time of reflection. It is a beautiful Fall Sunday evening. I’m sitting on the back porch at my home in Austin which I rent with two of my best women friends, who also work strong 12 step programs of their own. It has been a particularly chaotic week at work, followed by a high energy weekend with my nieces and nephews; full of kisses and questions, cupcakes and crocodile tears. The sun is setting over the hills. My roommate’s chihuahua, of whom I am particularly fond, is sniffing around the yard. A glass wind chime is delicately twinkling in the background. Sipping a steaming mug of ginger tea with honey, I am at peace. Grateful. This is heaven on Earth, in this moment. The 12 Steps have given me a life beyond my dreams. If you had known me 3 years ago, you would not doubt the presence of a Higher Power in my life today. If my life had continued the way it was headed, things were not going to end well. I was hopeless, a broken shell of the woman I was meant to be. Now, my life is full, and I have purpose and am surrounded by love, it is truly miraculous. I could not wish for anything more. I am truly grateful for the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.

I encourage you to be open minded as each month we explore different topics and relate them to 12 Step recovery. If you have questions or topic suggestions feel free to reach out to us at info@gracerecoveryatx.com See y’all next month! And don’t be afraid to reach out if you want a change! If it is possible for me, it is possible for anyone. Thank you for being a part of my journey!

Rebecca Frederick

Co-Founder Grace Recovery ATX

Sober since October 31, 2015

becca@gracerecoveryatx.com

 Alcoholics Anonymous,

 Fourth Edition, 2001. New York City,

ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS WORLD SERVICES, INC.

www.austinaa.org

www.ca-scta.org

www.heroinanonymous.org

www.crystalmeth.org

HOPE continued

HOPE
It is my responsibility to create my life. I have the power to make changes or to not. HOPE CAN BE BORN, because I allow it to be.

Growing up in a constant state of "fight or flight" has conditioned my body and my brain to feel normal when stressed.

I fight so desperately to heal, from what, I'm not sure. I just always knew, I felt broken. Through my attempts to heal I have learned there is not a finite point in one's life where, bam, you're healed. And although that is a very hard concept for my type A brain to process, it has become a building block throughout my healing journey. The healing process is and will always be forever changing, rebuilding and remolding, which is both my biggest nightmare and my biggest relief. It makes me HOPEful that I will heal.

One of my biggest challenges is to stay present in my moments. With mindfulness meaning to be aware of the present experience, with acceptance, that means I cannot judge and I have to turn off my thoughts. What!?!? That is next to impossible! I believe that if I am not being stressed, there is always more I can be doing. Remember, my brain is conditioned to think stress is normal. Taking on the task to live a more mindful life has given me a lot of Hope that I do not need to be stressed to think I am living up to my fullest potential.

I remind myself that to be mindful doesnt mean to sit in the dark, with no noises, and humming. It is a personal journey. For me it is not periods of formal practice, rather becoming mindful as a way of life is how I practice mindfulness. (At the end of this article you will find links to recommended Mindfulness literature and resources to get one started on their own personal mindfulness journey.)

To create who I am I realize, now, is an ongoing process. I remind myself, I am not my past, my history is not my destiny. Whatever got me to today, got me to today, and all I have guaranteed is, today.

Martin Buber is a master of living in the present. He says a way to tell yourself if you are being present is ask yourself:

1. Are you engaging in true I/Thou relationships?

2. Are you allowing meaning to exist in situations?

3. Are you being responsible for you here and now?

To Buber I/Thou means to not make a mistake of reducing relationships to mere objects. It is important to have I/It relationships in everyday life, however relationships that have meaning and purpose in your life must be looked upon with positive mutual respect.

Reducing meaningful relationships to mere objects can rob an individual of purpose and presence in their own life.

See the beauty in others and add to that beauty, in turn, beauty will be brought to your life.

Read more on Martin Buber’s thoughts on HOPE in his BOOK.

Meditation Now

Mindfulness for Life