Thursday, August 13, 2009

Three years

Today is the third year since my Higher Power guided me to my first Al-Anon meeting. I am grateful to be here today as a part of this wonderful program.

Many of you who read this blog know that I have spent much of my life studying the ocean. I also have a sail boat that I enjoy immensely. The ocean can be deceiving. It can be calm one minute and then turn into a raging beast that will take your life. Living with alcoholism is a lot like that. It is about uncertainty of knowing what to expect, how to steer. It is about being rudderless in a stormy sea.

I'm glad today to have the “life ring” of Al-Anon. I have found that this program provides a way for me to experience happiness, peace, and love. All I have to do is reach out and grab on. This program is truly a way of living. Al-Anon is the “life ring” that keeps me afloat in the roughest water.

When I came to this program, I was pretty much an empty shell of a person. I was drowning in self-pity, fear, resentment, and a host of other character defects. I felt like I was a failure. I believe that God put the right circumstance in my life at just the right time so that I could reach out for the life ring of Al-Anon. And because I trusted what He said, I grabbed hold and starting swimming.

I knew that this was a journey that would require fortitude and stamina. But I knew that this was going to be a great journey and one that could change my life. So I did what I was told. I got a sponsor, worked the steps, came to believe that I didn't have the answers, took the time to look at my character defects, recognized the pattern to them, saw how they absolutely polluted my life, listened to those who had the serenity I longed for, watched how they dealt with their "journey" by sharing their road to recovery, and tried to emulate that willingness and honesty through service work and attendance and sharing.

Today, I see each of you in the program of recovery as courageous. Just making the leap of faith to reach out for the life ring of any recovery program is awesome. Whether you are in calm waters or whether your life is still stormy, there is someone in these rooms who has been through it all.

I’ve seen the destruction of what alcoholism can do. I’ve felt lost and adrift. And if I hadn’t been willing to ask for help, my life would still be miserable. But one of the things about this program is that no one could take me off the sinking ship. All you did to help me was to point out that the ship is going down and that I had a choice: I could either reach out for the life ring of this program that was tossed to me or I could drown in self-pity, fear and resentment. So my part was that I had to become willing, open, and honest. I had to learn to save myself based on the steps of this program.

Today, I feel truly blessed. I take better care of myself spiritually and emotionally. I do my best to not place unreal expectations on others. I do my best to just live in today or the next 15 minutes if that's all I can handle. I've learned that fear, self-pity and resentment are my biggest enemies. I've learned that there are tools that help me defend myself against those enemies. I've learned compassion for the alcoholics in my life. I used to only be judgmental and angry. Although I still can isolate at times, I am not feeling alone much anymore. I have found new friends in Al-Anon. I feel understood and as if I belong.

I am grateful for the events and problems that led me here. I realize that God has done for me what I could not do for myself. I feel liberated from all sorts of self-inflicted torments. But I still have a long way to go. I still need to reach out my hand when I am in trouble. I realize that the journey continues. But when I look back over the last three years in this program I see how far I have come. I have a sturdy foundation on which to build the rest of my life. The life ring of this program is there. It never loses it essential form or purpose. It keeps me living life on life's terms with the help of God, one day at a time.

Thanks to all of you for being here with me on this journey.


  1. Thank you for having us Syd. In many ways you have perfectly described how I feel. The change that has already occured is what spurs me to move forward and keep it going.

  2. Happy 3rd Al anon Anniversary Syd!!!

    Lovely ! summary and very nicely written. :)
    I ! completely identify with your journey. Amazing. three years already! where did it go?
    well yes you've come a looong way in the three years. you've changed the habits of a ! lifetime, and you can still see that the path stretches onwards to infinity, so we can carry on no matter how much better we were than before.
    well you've done very well in the three years in that you've made ! complete use of whats on offer. the results you've achieved speak volumes about just how powerful this program is when put to good use.

    And three years of lovely beach pictures too :) Perfect!

  3. Congratulations Syd. Happy Anniversary!

  4. Happy 3 Syd! Thank you so much for the wisdom you share every day with us. I can always count on your compassion and it has been a comfort to me. jeNN

  5. Happy 3 years! I feel exactly the same way about my journey going into my 4th year- so much to be grateful for and so much growing to look forward to

  6. Thanks you Syd once again for uplifting my life, many lives on your personal journey. I to love the ocean and I think relate to it many times when I am slipping away. I still need to reach out when I am in trouble as well, I need at times to make myself truly understand God's plan for all.

    May God continue to bless you and your lovely wife, and friends as you have blessed many on here.

    I am grateful I found your blog.. SMILES

  7. Syd says: "I feel liberated from all sorts of self-inflicted torments."

    Tammy says, Syd, you sound healthy even if only in the moments of this post. I would print this post out and hang it near an area you visit daily. This sentence is profound in so many ways.

    You do strike a sense of understanding of the alcoholics mind. I don't know why after 20 years I still have white knuckle days but today, the beast grabs hold again. I will fight my way through with those who understand & my higher power. I have four dogs now as of last night. The one who came to us last night is severely malnourished, has been beaten and possibly used as a bait dog. When I see this beautiful creature come across my floor after only 14 hours, I sit in awe of God's purposes in life for us.

    I've had some serious white knuckle days and each time I am brought to task with something greater than I to tend to. What a powerful all knowing God we serve.

    Your writing today, I needed more than words can express. May I just humbly say, Thank you for understanding us. We need it more than we know! Hugs and spiritual thoughts! Tammy

  8. Congrats on 3 years Syd!

    You are liberated and I hope you know what an important role you play in helping others find the right path!

  9. Happy Anniversary, Syd!

    Thanks for bringing us along on your journey.



  10. I can't think of a better invitation to AlAnon. You always lay it out clearly and truthfully.

    Last Sunday, I got my 1 year chip. I carry it in my wallet, next to a favorite picture of Andrew & me.

  11. Hi Syd,

    First things first: Happy Third Year Al-Anon Anniversary!

    Reading your blog kept triggering memories of my grandkids saying, "Look, Granny - - - The little fish can talk!"

    You come into my mind with the description of the life-ring and swimming for dear life, as the little fish in that movie said, very encouragingly and simply, "keep on swimming; keep on swimming; keep on swimming!"

    This is definitely a life-long map to a life of serenity, and how to live with and handle the hurdles and more exciting moments!

    Have a wonderful day! Keep on swimming!

    Love and hugs,
    Anonymous #1

  12. Thank you for the inspiration! I needed that today. We buried one of our familiy's beloved today, active alcoholic. He delt with his pain the best that he could. I will miss that boistrous guy! Without Al Anon, I could never have had this love and grace. Thank God for Al Anon, I am free now, free to give love to all AND myself.

  13. Congratulations on your 3 years in Al-anon.

    I know also that fear, self-pity and resentment are my biggest enemies. I guard against them using the Al-anon tools. I am so grateful to God for bringing me to this beautiful program.

    I am a work in progress and that's O.K. with me.

    Thanks for being here Syd,

  14. Syd. THREE YEARS! I thought you had been born into Alanon, you "do" it so well.

    I am happy for you, continuing in the program, and also for LOU>.

    You are both strong advocates for the program...even got me to several in a row, during the year.

    Maybe yet, who knows (sigh)...

  15. It sounds like a bit of a miracle to me - every time a human connects to a Higher Power good things start to happen. You did the connecting. I hope your life grows happier each day.

  16. Thank you not only for your 3 years in the program, but more importantly to me and many of us, for writing about your journey.

    I remember when you got that boat. Damn, I'm getting old. LOL

  17. Wow 3 years in Al-anon..congrats.
    I love what you write from what you have learnt in Al-anon and am enjoying being on this journey with you.

  18. "I am grateful for the events and problems that led me here." This is my favorite part. The thing I tell myself when the going is rocky, that I need to have confidence that the stumbling is taking me where I need to go.

  19. Congrats on three years, Syd. Thanks for journaling.

  20. Happy and Blissful 3rd, my friend.


  21. Happy 3rd Syd...

    You are a blessing to me and many...

    If you've come this far in 3 years, imagine how far you'll be in 6!!!

    Blessing and aloha...

  22. Happy Birthday Syd. This is a wonderful post and a great message for others, myself included. I always get a lot from your posts and comments, so Thank you.

  23. Recovery changes lives, really gives us a chance at a new one. Thanks for sharing your E,S & H here.

    There is a line from a song that describes the journey for me..."And I cannot say what has happened to me, except... I am not the same."

  24. Happy 3 year Anniversary Syd. I seems like I have "known" you a lot longer than 3 years. And grateful for that.

  25. Happy Anniversary, Syd. Thank you for sharing.

  26. So glad our digital paths have crossed. You're an inspiration.


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