These readings are from the Nar-Anon book called, "Sharing Experience, Strength and Hope"
Please read my latest blog post. These daily readings will no longer be posted after TODAY (December 31st). Thank you for reading them each day!
Thank you for walking with me!
PRACTICING THE PROGRAM December 30
AN ACT OF FAITH December 29
WHAT I HAVE LEARNED December 28
ACCEPTANCE December 27
BEING POWERLESS December 26
GIVING BACK December 25
SPIRITUAL AWAKENING December 24
“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci
CHANGING WHAT I CAN December 23
Thank you for walking with me!
REFLECTION: NEW YEAR’S EVE December 31
Every day can be a new beginning; but New Year's Eve is special and different. There is no other time of the year when people of the world simultaneously focus on the same phenomenon. Each country and its people acknowledge the passing of time and change as we recognize the end of the old year and the beginning of the new.
Nar-Anon is a worldwide fellowship and I take great comfort in the thought that millions of recovering people take this time to reflect on the events of the last year and commit themselves to continued recovery in the new year.
I look at my own personal growth in this process of recovery. Last year I finally asked someone to be my sponsor and this year I have been asked to be a sponsor. This could not happen without the support of my fellowship and my willingness to keep an open mind to the Nar-Anon program and its principles.
I reflect on the long-time members who shared their experience, strength and hope with me to show me that I can change. I see my pain, anger and confusion lessen as I choose to be happy whether others choose recovery or not. I reflect on the newcomers because they give me an opportunity to share my recovery. I see my progress and I can have that same hope for them.
Thought for Today: Today is the end of the old and beginning of the new. I look forward to the New Year, with hope for continued recovery and growth. I thank my Higher Power for showing me the way. Today I am exactly where I am supposed to be.
“New Year's Eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence among created things that the passage of another twelve months may be noted; and yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights.” ~ Hamilton Wright Mabie
PRACTICING THE PROGRAM December 30
Today, I look forward to another Nar-Anon meeting. I am uplifted and energetic. My Nar-Anon meetings are a special place where I can share my situation with others experiencing similar pain and powerlessness. Often our friends and family do not understand these feelings. Most of all, I come to hear the experience, strength and hope of my Nar-Anon Family. It is a safe place where I will not be judged for my actions or reactions. It is a place where I can grow at my own pace, set my own boundaries, and work my own program as the Higher Power of my understanding guides me.
Without Nar-Anon's Twelve-Step program, I would not be able to understand the addict in my life. I am learning to detach with love and compassion. When I admit I am powerless and quit trying to change my addicted loved one, I can face adversity that comes my way by using the Twelve Steps and principles of the program. I am grateful for my newfound courage and strength. Nar-Anon has taught me a new way to live and think.
Thought for Today: Wherever I am in practicing my Nar-Anon program, there is a place for me to learn and to grow. At the end of each meeting, I feel a little better than when I arrived.
“God expects but one thing of you, and that is you should come out of yourself insofar as you are created being made, and let God be God in you.” ~ Meister Eckhart
AN ACT OF FAITH December 29
Many years ago, when my daughter was about four years old, friends took us to a surfing beach. Although the tide was out, I found the scene rather daunting. My daughter, however, ran after some adults heading towards the surf. We were playing in fairly shallow water about fifteen meters from the shore when suddenly someone shouted, “Run for it, here she comes!” I grabbed my daughter’s hand and we ran towards shore. I realized we would not make it to safety before the wave hit us. Many thoughts were racing through my mind in that moment of panic. I thought that if I held onto her hand I might pull her shoulder out of its socket because we would tumble at different speeds. I thought that I might drown and take her with me, or let her go knowing that her body was light and would float to shore. I had to make a split-second decision, so I let go of that precious little hand. I was hit by the water, thrown and pounded. My little girl had floated to safety and shook herself with hair flying, water spraying and shrieking with laughter. This all seemed a marvelous adventure to her. I was bruised black, blue and purple from my left shoulder to my ankle for several months, by trying to maintain control.
Many years later, during my first month in Nar-Anon, once again I knew I had to let go of my daughter’s hand. She was already in recovery and no longer wanted to be dependent on me. This time it was so much harder for me to let go. It was like letting go of the habit of a lifetime. All my thoughts started with “yes, but” and “what if?” I realized that without faith in a Power greater than myself, I could not do it.
Thought for Today: Today I know that letting go of her hand was an act of faith, although then I would have denied that strongly. I realize that the effort it takes to control still causes bruising and damage, not only to my daughter’s life and other people, but to my own life, too.
"The successful people of this world take life as it comes. They just go out and deal with the world as it is." ~ Ben Stein
WHAT I HAVE LEARNED December 28
The Nar-Anon fellowship has given me the tools to deal with the hardships that have come into my life. I am grateful for the program and the friends I have made who have been sharing and teaching me many good things. I have learned:
• do not be afraid every time I see a patrol car in my neighborhood;
• do not be afraid of reading the crime log in newspapers for fear of seeing the addict’s name in the write-up;
• do not jump when an unfamiliar voice on the phone asks for the addict;
• do not trust as easily as I used to, but do not be cynical either;
• do not feel guilty about an event that is out of my control;
• do not be ashamed of something someone else does; and
• do not dismiss the past as wasted time and do not let go of the happy memories either.
I have also learned:
• do examine all sides of a situation;
• do know that some things are beyond my control no matter how hard I try to manage them;
• do believe it is true that good people sometimes have bad things happen to them;
• do believe that dreams can be destroyed but life goes on, just in a different direction;
• do give up thinking my suggestions are helpful when in reality they are enabling tools;
• do detach from the disease, not from the addict;
• do embrace each day in spite of the sadness I might feel; and
• do believe I could not have reached this point in my life without help.
Thought for Today: Today I have a new perspective on life and the person I want to become. I want my actions to always be spiritual. I have a much improved relationship with the addict I love and I thank recovery and Nar-Anon for helping me to change my life for the better.
"By learning you will teach, by teaching you will learn." ~ Latin Proverb
ACCEPTANCE December 27
Years ago my wife contracted breast cancer. I was scared and angry. After several months, I asked her doctor if he could think of anything or anyone else who could help her. With a caring, compassionate voice he said, “Your problem is you haven’t accepted the fact that your wife is dying and, until you do, you will not be any good to yourself or to those who rely on you.” His words finally helped me to see things as they really were. I went home and cried, but from that moment on, I was calm and focused on keeping my wife as comfortable as I could. She died within six months.
Twenty years later, my son told me he had been using heroin for over a year and could not stop. I was struck dumb and stunned beyond belief. We both cried hugging each other. Finally, I understood some of his unexplainable behavior. I made up my mind that I was going to help my son become clean and sober.
I smile now at my innocence. I have gone through all his lies, deceptions; collect calls from jail, residential treatment facilities, and his heartfelt promises that were all broken. My son could not stop using and I could not understand why.
A friend recommended I join a Nar-Anon family group. I balked at the idea because I am shy, but I went because my desperation overpowered my shyness. I went only to learn how to help my son. I listened as people spoke openly and lovingly about themselves and their addicted loved ones. I did not know any of the people in the group but I felt a sense of kinship with them. I came back to the next meeting, and I kept coming back. During one meeting, I felt a God moment. No one had asked or spoken about my son, but I felt as if the members were kindly and tacitly saying to me, “Your problem is you haven’t accepted the fact that your son is a heroin addict.” From that moment on, I became calm and focused on my own recovery.
Thought for Today: Acceptance means that I can admit that I cannot end my son’s chemical dependency nor can I make a healthy person sick. If I can accept this, it means that I can go on with my life.
"We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope." ~ Martin Luther King Jr.
BEING POWERLESS December 26
The fourteen years that my son was doing drugs put me on an emotional roller coaster. For a long time I surmised, guessed, assumed, but never had actual proof that he was using drugs. When the proof finally came, his life and mine were completely out of control. My days were consumed with looking for him at 3:30 in the morning, bailing him out of jail, making good on credit card bills that he had no intention of paying, and patching holes in the walls of his room, while the holes in my heart grew deeper by the day.
I could not bear to look at pictures of him, as they were only a sad reminder of what he had been and what was taken from him. I missed his sweetness, his innocence, his loving nature, and his honesty. That was my son, not the shadow of the person he was now. I was losing him and myself while my family was being torn apart. The only thing I was sure of was the fact that I was powerless.
Walking into a Nar-Anon meeting was my only hope of bringing sanity back into my life. It allowed me for the first time to cry, to vent, and to be unmasked without pretense and not to worry what other people thought. There was no judgment, only understanding. There was no inquisition, only compassion. I was aware that I was among people who have traveled this same road.
My son has now been in recovery for nineteen months, and has graduated into independent living while still in rehab. I am proud and hopeful. I pray and I am thankful. I have my son back again. My husband, daughter, son, and I are a family again. I can now allow myself the right to dream again.
Thought for Today: Nar-Anon gives me the tools to deal with what lies ahead. It is a crazy ride but there is laughter, joy and hope. I am not afraid of facing tomorrow whether the addict in my life is in recovery or not.
“As we change in such ways as these, we change the world around us and all the people in it for the better.” ~ Nar-Anon Blue Booklet
GIVING BACK December 25
When I first came to Nar-Anon, I was not able to give of myself. Most of the time, I was confused and did not even know who I was. I was so addicted to the addict that it was difficult to shift the focus back to myself. I was his caretaker and fixer. This made me angry and resentful. The thought that my son’s problems were because of addiction never entered my mind. I thought only other people suffered with this problem. I then found myself fighting the disease of addiction as if it was a battle to be won.
How wonderful that Nar-Anon gave me the opportunity to face reality and admit that my life was not working with me in charge. Now I have the choice to give up the control I thought I had and let my Higher Power take over; otherwise, I would continue to go on suffering. Now I know that I do not need to have all the answers. I can feel my feelings. I can have my own life and be happy in spite of what is happening in the addict’s life. My happiness does not depend on the happiness of anyone else.
By working the steps and using the tools of the program – the slogans, meetings, sponsorship, literature, and doing service, I realize that what I am learning not only helps me but also could help others. By practicing Step Twelve and Tradition Five, I can give back to the other members of Nar-Anon what was so freely given to me.
Thought for Today: I have the responsibility to give to others the gift that was given to me by the Nar-Anon Family Groups.
“Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need.” ~ Kahlil Gibran
SPIRITUAL AWAKENING December 24
“Having had a spiritual awakening” – I remember hearing that statement when I first came through the doors of Nar-Anon. I wondered what that meant. I decided that it meant that I was going to be a perfect, spiritual person, that I would have no more problems or concerns and that I would be able to completely trust in my Higher Power for all things. I was ready for that experience. I also decided that in order to accomplish my spiritual awakening, I needed to get the addict in my life clean and into recovery.
In the beginning, I was only able to take what I could and leave the rest. That is what makes this program work. I was not forced to learn it all at once. How glad I am that I stuck around and allowed the tools of this program to work in my life. I am learning along the way that my spiritual awakening came “as a result of working the Twelve Steps.” It was not something I could claim and use without the work that preceded it. I also need to use what I learn to “carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all my affairs.”
Thought for Today: My spiritual awakening will come as a result of working these steps. We try to carry this message to others who suffer as we have, hopeful that it will be received, remembering always that Nar-Anon is not for those who need it but for those who want it.
CHANGING WHAT I CAN December 23
I am beginning to sense the changes arising from my attendance at Nar-Anon meetings. My wife does not attend these meetings and she seems to be in a constant state of anxiety and nervousness that I have not felt for some time. I am drawing my strength from the others who attend. I would share this experience more with my wife, but she has asked me not to and that is her choice.
I think that my wife would get so much out of the meetings were she to attend. I witness the bonding when one of the group members shares and I see the recognition in the eyes of another member going through a similar experience. That demonstration of help is rewarding to me. If nothing else, perhaps my wife could connect with another who is going through the same situation that we find ourselves experiencing. I repeat to myself, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can” because this applies to everything in my life, if I but see it. This does not exclude my wife and I must accept this.
Thought for Today: I am learning that the message of Nar-Anon is not only carrying the message to others but also practicing the principles in all my affairs. I hope that a change in me will be noticed and others will want what I have gained through my program. I can remember that Tradition Eleven reminds me that ours is a program of attraction rather than promotion. Step One suggests that I am powerless over others and that trying to exert power over them most likely will bring some insanity into my life. Live and let live is probably my safest course of action.
“The world is new to us every morning; this is God’s gift, and every man should believe he is reborn each day.” ~ The Baal Shem Tov
PROJECTING December 22
I have been thinking about the Nar-Anon slogan, “One Day at a Time.” Thinking that the addict might straighten out if she gets arrested is worrying about the future and projecting. This is something that contradicts the notion of this slogan. I project as I think of her possible arrest, being sentenced to prison time, and possibly seeing the error of her ways. In my mind, this event will, of course, lead to her recovery.
While no parent wants their child to be arrested, this scenario made sense to me. Rather than wishing she would get her life together, my thoughts seem to be about her suffering the consequences of her addiction. Why did I have to think this way? Why did I have to worry about the future?
In Nar-Anon, I am learning that I do not need to worry about the possibility of my addicted loved one “seeing the light.” Nor do I have to be disappointed if she is arrested, spends time in prison, and then goes back to her old ways. I can cease projecting my sense of morality onto her.
As many people who are going through this know, I so desperately want my once beautiful daughter to stop her life of self-destruction and to rejoin our family. However, I have learned that I will be on the path of self-destruction as well, if I continue to try to manipulate her or this disease as I have no control over either situation. I try not to project my will on the addict’s life.
Thought for Today: The Nar-Anon slogan of “One Day at a Time” helps me realize that I have no control over the future. I must face the problems of today and today only. Trying to predict events and worry if they will come true is merely wasting energy that is better spent in focusing on me.
REPLACING FEAR WITH FAITH December 21
I once read a book entitled: “Do Not Be Afraid.” This book is full of words of wisdom, and talks about life and the pitfalls that it presents to us. The words, “Do not be afraid” help me put my life in perspective.
“Do not be afraid.” I am coming to understand that Nar-Anon for me means just that. While I may want the best for my addicted loved ones, I am concentrating on what I am learning in my program. I am focusing on that phrase “Do not be afraid” and finding that I do not need to be afraid for the future of the addict. She is in the care of her Higher Power, just as I am in the care of mine.
“Do not be afraid” means to me that I can turn my life over to the will of my Higher Power as it says in the Third Step, and have faith that all will be as it should. I believe that I will have the strength to deal with whatever lies ahead.
Thought for Today: These few words, “Do not be afraid” are powerful in my recovery. When I practice the Twelve Steps of Nar-Anon, I learn to replace my fear with faith.
“Never fear shadows.... that always means there is a light shining somewhere.” ~ Jonathan Santos
THINK December 20
When I lived with active addiction, everything I did seemed necessary from crisis to crisis. I was in survival mode. My life was similar to an emergency room triage. What is the most urgent of the three or four crises currently facing my family today? I found myself always choosing the response that would cushion my loved one from the consequences of addiction. Needless to say, things became worse.
I have learned in the Nar-Anon program to shift the focus onto myself and away from my son. The meaning of what is necessary has changed and it now includes me. It is now necessary for my survival that my recovery program is my first priority. My son has his own path to recovery and his own program. If he is going to win against this deadly disease, he has to fight his own battles. I cannot fight, let alone win for him.
Now after several years of clean time, he has another deadly disease. I can give him support but I cannot fight this new battle for him. But I worry: If he has to take prescription drugs with his new health problem, will a relapse follow? Then I remember I do not know the future. How he copes with severe pain is between him and his doctor. It is not necessary for me to be paranoid about whether he relapses into severe addiction. If that happens, he will have to find his way out. When I am paralyzed with terror that he will die, I remember that a negative attitude will only send a negative message. What I can do is have hope that he will survive and heal one more time. I need to keep a positive attitude and remember with the help of his Higher Power he found the way from impending death back to life from this deadly disease of addiction.
Thought for Today: All I can do is love and pray for him and that is enough.
“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” ~ Corrie Ten Boom
CONNECTIONS December 19
When I was young, I felt a strong connection with my Higher Power, who I believed linked all human beings to each other. I experienced an electric current of connection as we held hands during the closing prayer of a spiritual ceremony. But as I grew up in the traditional, patriarchal organized religion I was familiar with, I found little or nothing to offer a young adult. After living with my partner’s active addiction for twenty years, I lost any connection to a Higher Power that I once had.
Upon coming into the Nar-Anon program, I reconnected through that familiar activity – holding hands for the closing prayer. Although I liked that, it was different from my childhood prayers. I began to feel connected to the people in the group – my first step in a new relationship with my Higher Power.
During the many years of my son's battle with active addiction, I had to accept that this disease might kill him. I had to release the addict with love into the care of his Higher Power, not mine. I slowly accepted that my Higher Power is in charge of my life. My addicted son survived, made a new life, matured, married, found a new career, and bought a home.
With six years of clean time, this adult now has aggressive cancer. More than ever, I must turn my will over to my Higher Power. I am grateful that I have reconnected with God while dealing with addiction. Yet again, with this deadly disease, I am powerless and my role as "helper" is exactly as described in "Helping" in the Nar-Anon Blue Booklet.
Thought for Today: My Higher Power connects me to others. He is the loving link between each of us. We are strong because we are all of the same cloth.
“It is better to practice a little than talk a lot.” ~ Muso Kokushi
CHANGING WHAT I CAN December 18
Change! Well, I am learning that I definitely cannot change the addicts. I cannot make my addicted loved ones do anything they do not want to do. I cannot make them stop their obsessions with drugs, food, smoking, gambling, sex, golf, or computers. Their obsessive/compulsive behavior continues and will until they desire to change and seek the help they need.
Every now and then, I still take their inventory and talk to them about their behavior. That does nothing to improve our relationships; instead, it causes more resentment and creates more distance between us. I need to remember they will work their own programs with their own sponsors when they are ready. The only thing I can do today is look at my behavior. Am I obsessed with cleaning my house, working long hours, and taking on more than I should to fill my time so I do not have to feel or see the addicts’ behavior? Am I avoiding my own shortcomings?
I know that I have a choice today to change what I can. I also know I can only change me. I can do this by working the Twelve Steps with my sponsor, going to meetings, being of service in Nar-Anon and taking care of me. I have to stay on my side of the street to be healthy.
Thought for Today: Today I will only work on changing my attitudes and myself. I cannot change the addict, only my reactions to the things the addict and others do. Today I choose to have peace and serenity in my life.
“The sages do not consider that making no mistakes is a blessing. They believe, rather, that the great virtue of man lies in his ability to correct his mistakes and continually to make a new man of himself.” ~ Wang Yang-Ming
A CREDIT TO SERVICE December 17
You were there to greet me as I came through the door,
You listened to my story, though you’d heard it before,
And as I recall at my meeting number two,
The people I recognized were all too few,
On a different day, in a different place,
I felt secure seeing a familiar face,
You didn’t say much, but you nodded a lot,
I thought to myself, “She has what I’ve got!”
There was strength behind your words,
That through my fears somehow I heard,
I could tell when you talked you didn’t pretend,
And it didn’t take long ‘til you felt like a friend.
At my first convention, I was feeling alone -
Until I ran into you and soon felt quite at home,
I see how you work hard to do all you can,
You’re a credit to service, always lending a hand.
I treasure the way you share as you grow,
You’ve helped me in ways you’ll never know,
“It works if you work it,” I know that part is true,
But it only works for me because of people like you.
So let me take a minute, my hand in your hand,
To thank you from my heart, I know you understand.
Thought for Today: The Nar-Anon program and fellowship is here for me because of the service given by other members. They carry the message and support the program. Today I will give to the program as I can only keep what I have by giving it away in the form of service to others.
“Carrying the message is the fundamental service essential to our personal recovery and a way of offering hope to families who still suffer.” ~ The Nar-Anon Family Groups draft working manual
CARRY THE MESSAGE December 16
When I first learned of my son’s addiction, I rode an emotional roller coaster. Nearly a year passed before I heeded the advice of my son’s Narcotics Anonymous sponsor, who suggested I attend a Nar-Anon meeting. My first response was that I was not the one with the problem.
Little did I understand that an emotional roller coaster is a problem. The first meeting I went to was small; only two other women were there. I wondered what good this meeting would be to me. The first lady shared how her son had overdosed and died. My son had also over-dosed, but he had lived. Not only did that give me something to be thankful for, but I had also finally met someone who understood what I was going through. I felt some healing take place immediately at that first meeting. I was so glad I had gone to this meeting. I continue to attend Nar-Anon meetings for the strength it offers me. Hearing others’ experiences lets me know that I am not alone.
Attending Nar-Anon meetings is one of the most important ways I can carry the message. Even when things are going well in my life, I attend meetings. I pray that when I share my experience, strength and hope, I may help someone else feel the healing I experienced at my first meeting. Each time I attend a meeting I pray that it will help me or give me the opportunity to help others.
Thought for Today: I can carry the message by sharing my experience, strength and hope with others. Only in this way can I continue to heal and recover.
“When we share openly at meetings, this is also part of Step Twelve. Our experience, strength and hope will benefit someone. Even our early shares about our pent up frustration, grief and pain living with an addict, before we are able to focus on ourselves, helps newcomers realize they are not alone. Newcomers’ stories remind old timers how grateful we are and how far the Twelve Steps to recovery has taken us.” ~ The Nar-Anon Twelve Step Program
HEALTHY BOUNDARIES December 15
Today, I am learning the importance of setting healthy boundaries for myself. I learned from past experiences that all my efforts to control and change my addicted loved one by pleading, crying, praying, and shaming would not make him stop using. My behavior made me emotionally sick. My anger turned inward and resulted in depression. My depression took such a strong hold of me that I feared being emotionally damaged for life.
At Nar-Anon meetings, I am learning that I can set boundaries and reclaim my life. Boundaries are limits I set for myself, what I will or will not allow in my life. Boundaries are not limits I set for others. For example, I can choose to leave a party if someone’s behavior affects me in a negative way. I can change an old pattern of enabling and say no. I used to engage in circular arguments with the addict. One of my new boundaries is to stop this behavior because it never improved anything. It only made me upset. Now when I see I am arguing in circles, I stop. I look at the addict and say, “You may have a point. I would like to talk about something else.” It does not mean I have to cave in to the addict’s demand to be rescued from consequences. It simply means I stop arguing.
Setting boundaries is a change in my behavior and it does not always come easy. Many times, others criticize me when I change. However, I can set another boundary and choose not to let others’ reactions change my decision to take care of myself. In Nar-Anon, I am learning a better way to live. I feel as if a ton of bricks has been lifted from my shoulders.
Thought for Today: I do not have to let someone’s reaction to my changed behavior discourage me from doing something good for me. I will choose to set healthy boundaries.
“If others put me into emotional bondage, my boundaries are not yet defined.” ~ Unknown