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Why We Celebrate Sobriety Anniversaries in Alcoholics Anonymous
Sometime in the spring of 1991, I was in a meeting. Now mind you, I had been in many meetings at this time, but this particular meeting brought new meaning to me. You see from this time I began to understand what people read, at the beginning of the meeting. How It Works, The Serenity Prayer, The Promises and so on, began to make sense, in terms of just plain English. Before that, I only heard echoes of words, which made no sense to me. The many years of alcohol and drugs, my brain was damaged beyond repair, I think. People would sometimes say, “Chuck, maybe this is as good as you get.” The fear of getting worse and ending up like one of those street guys was enough to motivate me not to drink. However, there were times when I thought what is the use and wanted to give up, but I never did. No matter how bad I felt or how hard life seemed to be, I never gave up. I knew deep down that this was my last and only shot at a life without alcohol. I could not see myself drinking, but at the same time I knew that alcohol was sending me to a death worse than death. See my last drunk who wanted to die, my wife left with our son. Life as I had known it, because a living hell. I arrived the next morning. even after drinking enough to put the average man into a coma or even kill him. I knew that drinking would never end the pain. It made things worse. Somehow, someway, I needed to keep going. I have to be better than now. If I can see something that shows me, there is something good about not drinking other than not drinking. Yes I feel better in the morning. Yeah, I didn’t come up with an alibi for my whereabouts the night before. No tickets or accidents either. I wanted to feel wanted, and useful. I wanted to be liked. I wanted friends, but mostly I wanted someone to tell me if I’m better and doing better, because frankly, I didn’t know!
Meanwhile, while I was thinking about all this, the meeting started and went. It was announcement time. Oh boy here we go the same boring blah blah, about Open Talks, and social events that I was too scared to go to. This old man stood up and walked to the front of the hall, near the podium, and took a huge deep breath. It seems that he is trying to vent his emotions, as if announcing the death of his mother or another close relative. No, instead, he gets all starry-eyed, this big smile crosses his face and he says, “I remember when this young man first came into Alcoholics Anonymous, he was broken. He was scared. and angry, he felt hopeless and he. asked me to help him. We worked together through the steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, and he is a changed man. So it gives me great pleasure, and you all help me congratulate Steve P., who is celebrating a year of sobriety!” my jaw dropped, and my eyes were wide and teary. I felt something in that room, I have never felt before. I have never seen anything like this in my life. Steve was grinning like the old man, his sponsor, and tears were streaming down his face. He held this bronze symbol in his hand as if it were an Olympic gold medal. Everyone shook his hand and hugged him. I’ve heard Steve tell his story at meetings before and for me he was getting a lot worse than me. The first thing that came to mind was, if Steve can do it, so can I. He said that not only did his sponsor walk him through the steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, but he made coffee and helped set up for their home group meeting. His sponsor added that he was also president of the group. Well, the gears started turning in my head. If I want to have what Steve had, I have to do what Steve did.
The following Sunday, I got to my home group early and asked Ray and another guy if I could help them set up. They said sure! I felt a little on the important side, because I thought that only certain people were allowed to be coffee makers and set up for meetings. Also, it looked like anyone who wanted to help clean up could. Thursday in the same meeting room, Ray and a different man were making coffee, and I asked if I could help again. Ray showed me how to make the coffee and set up the area where he puts the coffee, creamer and sugar. This went on for a few weeks and finally they gave me the key to the room, Ray and Bob said I was ready to handle a big responsibility. I can take responsibility for myself. I just looked at the keys and I was scared and proud at the same time. They told me to pray and ask GOD for help and I will do well. Before my first meeting as the coffee maker and the installation guy, I did what they said and everything was fine. Ray was president of the meeting by then, and I saw how he did, because I had hopes of being president one day. Banging the gavel, asking for a moment of silence for those who are suffering, choosing people to read “How It Works”, The Promises, etc. You know it’s a lot of responsibility.
A couple of months went by, and Ray came to me and said he was going out of town to visit his mother, and I was filling in as president until he got back. I was beaming with pride and terrified as I accepted the responsibility. I did like Ray. I distributed the readings, called the meeting to order, which meant that I asked for a moment of silence for all those who were suffering outside and began the Serenity Prayer. I just stood there scared and proud, thinking to myself “I finally feel like somebody”. The next week, Ray called and said he couldn’t go to the meeting because he was still visiting his mother and needed me to do a special favor. I thought to myself, here I am, the cafe, a guy settled, what’s next now he’s secretary and treasurer and now he wants me to do what? I know I’m a hyper guy with endless energy, but come on now, that’s it! Ray’s voice was different this time. He said, Chuck this is a very important task and a great honor. I want you to give Danny his 9 year old token. Danny, he was a man whose wife had died because she had gone back to drinking and he was close to drinking himself, but somehow he managed to stay sober. Danny, he said things about the meetings helping me, and I just thought it would be weird that I was going to be the one to give him his sobriety anniversary symbol, after all, I haven’t even had a year sober. What about Gary B., did I mention? Chuck, it was Gary’s idea to give Danny his sign. You will do well
On Sunday, I made coffee. Put it all together for the AA meeting, while I repeat my talk. I wanted this to be as perfect as I can, and also sound really good to me.
The meeting went as it always goes. Asked for a moment of silence, and had to shout to the boys in the back to be quiet, that we started a meeting. After the readings, I still repeat my speech, in my head for the umpteenth time. Finally the time has come for me to make the announcement. I held the token in my hand and rubbed all the sweat on my shirt. I said, starting to choke, “It gives me great pleasure to give Danny F. his nine-year token.” People stood up and applauded. Heck I didn’t think it was that good. Danny came to me. I gave him the symbol. He hugged me! Oh my god! Why do men have to hug? Jack. Someone shouted, “How did you do that? He let me go. Thank GOD. He said, by the Grace of God, the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, my Sponsor Ray, and you people. I was standing here tears that run. my face and I don’t care. Give someone, a token Anniversary is like, let them know that you are for them, and give that pat on the back that so many of us need so much in so, congratulations and thanks, all at the same time.
Another month passed, it was now the 3rd of March, next week will be my one year anniversary, I don’t drink. Every meeting I went to, people would ask me how I was doing. They must have known, I was afraid not to. During the last year, I was going through a divorce, and I hadn’t seen my son, who was now 3 years old, all while trying to stay sober. I was really sick of it all. I continued to make coffee, organize the meetings in my home group, and chaired them as well. Ray, was treasurer and secretary. Funny how that was done. I was sure there was some sort of conspiracy. I thought of Danny. He never gave in and never gave up. I think of Steve P. He never gave up and never gave in. I thought about how I could give my younger brother has 5 years token. Finally March 10th arrived and what a long day it was before the meeting started. All I did that day was think and watch the clock. Finally it was 6pm and I got to the meeting room earlier than normal because I couldn’t wait any longer, doing my AA home group homework would help kill some time and I felt safe. I made the coffee, set up the coffee area, set up the meeting books, before I knew it, I was in front of the meeting and I asked, “Are there any ads for the good of AA? My Sponsor Gene, a very famous, just ask the lawyer, got up with a big giant smile on his face, got up and started talking as he made his way to me, “Give me the biggest of pleasure, to give to this guy, who has grown. this program is the fraternity of Alcoholics Anonymous, its symbol of a year. ” People stood up, cheered, shouted “How did you do it? “He hugged me. Why do these guys keep hugging me? I just said, ‘Thank you.’ I didn’t do it, we did it! “
I will never, ever forget that day for the rest of my life. More than twenty years have passed since that day, and I have not found it necessary to take a drink since I came into Alcoholics Anonymous, and if I had, it certainly would not have been necessary.
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