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Hi guys, Auds here, sober and abstinent one day at a time, by the grace of God, this fellowship and my own effort.

I have always been a person of extremes. Ups, downs, energetic, exhausted, diligent, neglectful. Thrilled, depressed, enthusiastic, cynical. I have starved and binged, I have been in recovery and the sloughs of despondency. I lived my life on the edge, the highs of riding a great horse at great speed over great fences, and the lows of sitting in darkened rooms terrified of the telephone.

Until I came into the program, I knew nothing else. Terror of my infuriated father, despair at not being able to please. Highs when applauded and rage when misunderstood.

Being hugged for insolence one day. ( my sense of humor was applauded) and being spanked for the same insolence (I was disrespectful) the next day. I learned to hide from authority. I learned to block my feelings with food. I wrote about injustice in my mind and read about me in books that had nothing to do with me. I was Scarlett, Melanie, St. Bernadette and always one notch better than they were.

Somebody told me that everyone who worked for me was afraid of me. I was angry. How dare they? I was a saint who was not only a door mat, but the best damned doormat in the world. hmmmm!

As I slowly recovered in the program, I was able to look at the real me. I had never been me before only what I thought you wanted.

I was like my father, I was quixotic like he was. I laughed with you and in the twinkling of an eye I turned serious and insulted. I exploded, How dare they?

When I was nineteen, I worked for two brothers who "adopted" me as their little sister. They had rules, the rules always stayed the same, I blossomed, I became me, happy, honest, trustworthy, and talented in my field. When I went out on my own fifteen years later, my mother had died, I had begun to drink seriously during her last illness. I would leave work at ten one morning and be back at work by ten the next morning. In the meantime I drove up the New Jersey turnpike from Maryland and back once a week to be with my dying parent. My mother was my best friend, she was suffering from emphysema, I ate at three restaurants going north and three coming south. I didn't want to arrive and I didn't want to leave. I gained sixty pounds in one summer (April to Sept.) I drank in the darkness of my basement rooms.

I held my adopted brother at fault in my mothers final illness. Totally illogical, but my father said it was our fault because we got Mummie involved in horses. I believed my father because the alcoholic in me embraced pain. Pain was an excuse to hide, to binge to anethesize myself to the point of black out.

Yesterday, I went to my cousin John's tenth anniversary. This is a family disease. His sisters were there, his in-laws and wife, and I too was there in a room full of recovery. The message was hopeful, and joyful. We all had breakfast together, we laughed with no thought of ulterior motives. We might be trudging but this is certainly a road of happy destiny.

I learned my lessons well when a child, don't trust love, accept brutality as love. "This is hurting me more than it hurts you" Hide from stated love and know that no such thing as unconditional love exists. Lie to avoid pain, resent pain fairly or unfairly given. Accept that you have the right to be in a rage, because ______. Accept that nobody else has rights because they don't know the facts.

When I came into the program, I was told that I could die of terminal uniqueness. I was told that if my father did it to me when I was six, shame on him. If I was doing it to myself now, shame on me.

Okay so you have heard me say this before. I started doing two things a day I didn't want to do and I started to feel proud of my accomplishments. The waste baskets were empty. my house was getting neat. I was cheerful at work. I didn't leave early. I used the telephone to call my sponsor. I had a plan for the day. I read something that took concentration. I read a paragraph at a time and eventually whole pages and chapters. For someone who could not concentrate on a sitcom this was indeed progress.

Progress! That is an important word in my recovery. Perfection made me afraid of effort. what if I failed? What if someone said it was not good enough? What if? What if? There are no destinations in progress. There is no judgment of an unfinished journey. Just for today, whenever I demand perfection, someone says how important is it, or simply Why?

I go to a lot of meetings, I believe my higher power lets me know what needs working on. Each time I become angry (how dare they) I vent and then think hmmmm. Why am I so angry, what did I hear I didn't want to hear? I am not perfect, and now my self esteem allows me to make mistakes without the terror of feeling less than.

I am happy being just another bozo on the bus. I am happy that I no longer have to be the peacemaker, the maker of all things peaceful. I no longer need to take sides or try to make sides agree. I am happy I no longer need to control. Of course I frequently have those old thoughts, If they would just let me choreograph the dance all would be perfect. It is such a relief today to tell the truth and not what I think you want to hear. To give my opinion without judgment. To let you take what you need and leave the rest. I still have moments of joy and despair, but these too pass if I take the appropriate steps to deal with them. My extremes are a warning to me that my spiritual balance may be slipping. That's okay, in the eleventh step (AABB, page 105) there is my favorite paragraph.

" All of us without exception pass through times when we can pray only with the greatest exertion of will. Occasionally we go even further than this. We are seized with a rebellion so sickening that we simply won't pray. WHEN THESE THINGS HAPPEN we should not think too ill of ourselves. We should simply resume prayer as soon as we can, doing what we know to be good for us."

All of us, hmmmm. When not if these things happen. Here is an antidote to terminal uniqueness. The writers of the 12&12 did not expect perfection ... they expected human frailty. Self centeredness can be destructive when into perfection. The instinct to say, 'if I can't be perfect what's the use' will definitely lead me to relapse. The power to say 'so what if I'm not perfect', if I were someone who would dislike me for that very reason, keeps me coming back.

There is unconditional love. It exists in the rooms and on the webs of recovery. It is freely given, and in most cases gladly received. My extremes grow less each twenty-four, my promptly admitting is still not perfect but the eventually is growing nearer.

As usual take what you need and leave the rest. Thanks for letting me share. This brings hugs and the certainty that God loves you and so do I.

xxoo Auds

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