March 13, 2021
Karla A. is a woman that works her sobriety by working the 12 steps steps of alcoholics anonymous. She currently has about 8 years sober under her belt and works the program feverishly. The magic of working the program has brought her to a job working in Montevideo, Uruguay. Because she is distant to her motherland, USA, she attends many online AA meetings via Zoom. One aspect she had trouble with while drinking was her ability to restrain herself from speaking without thinking. Listen to her in this brief 10 minute share.
Karla A. Transcript
The transcript from the audio is slightly edited for readability
Hi everyone, my name is (hidden) and I am an alcoholic. And I’m going to need that 3 minute warning because we’re talking about step 10 and self restraint and I could go on and on and on and on. You know when Erin asked me to share today, I’ll always say yes when AA asks. You know that’s just what I do now. But of course it has to be on self restraint.
I am a grandiose alcoholic with one mode of operation and that’s GO. I don’t have this idea that I can practice self restraint. It’s as foreign to me as not picking up a drink. I need my higher power. I can’t do this on my own. This is not my nature, I have no poker face. Exactly what I am thinking and feeling is on my face at all times and it gets me in trouble, all the time. Especially in these meetings. As soon as I have a thought, I got to say it and I got to say it right now. There is just no filter and the other thing I’ll say about that is there is a long standing joke in my family that none of us have tact.
It’s just that we are constantly putting our feet in our mouths and know today that no situation, no disturbance that I have can not be made worse by me picking up a drink. Or rattling off the very first thing I think because my thinking is narrow. I’m going to take this small view of what’s going on and think it’s real. And I did that all the time, that’s why I drank. Either I was the result of these great things and I had to celebrate, or you didn’t do what I wanted you to do, or things didn’t go my way, and it was calmative, and I had to drink over that too.
Good or bad, big or small, it didn’t matter, I just couldn’t operate, I couldn’t function and I had to drink. By the grace of God I haven’t had a drink of alcohol since June 1, 2013 and I was given the gift of desperation and my whole attitude and outlook on life has changed.
I did the steps and here we are at step 10 and all over the place it says progress not perfection. But what I love most about step 10 is where it says when I make mistakes, here’s what I can do about it. I am always thinking I’m not going to make mistakes, as if I’m always right.
I ask Him every single morning to direct my thinking, I want His spirit to flow through me. I’ve gotten this connection to my higher power by working the steps. Our code is practicing love and tolerance and I can’t when my will gets in the way. And it always does. If I don’t pause when I’m disturbed, I’m in trouble because it doesn’t come naturally to me. Self restraint has to be a top priority, it has to be! Otherwise I have no chance. I must pause, take a deep breath, ask my higher power and say, “show me guidance” and then go on. Because without that, like I said my world view is very small.
I’m always like, “why did I say that” or, “why did I do that”, “why do I automatically assume this”. It’s just a miracle to me when I pause. What I used to do is email someone and say, “oh you don’t know what you’re talking about!” First thing I do is remove the recipient and click reply. This way, I can’t accidentally send it. I let it sit and come back to it. And then thank God that I didn’t send that email.
Because I can pause and go back to it and let my higher power enter in, I realize that I don’t need to say those ugly things. When I’m disturbed, it’s because of me. I don’t have to do that as much anymore these days. From practicing the program this idea of self restraint is a little bit easier at times. Now I get an email and I’m like alight, I don’t have to respond to this right now, move on. I have a particular co-worker whom is beyond verbose and if I don’t say a prayer before meeting with her, I’m going to do something I regret. For example, last week I literally put my head down in the middle of our online conference call. Could you imagine if I did that in person? We’re sitting around a conference table and I just decide to put my head down on the table. Like I’m done listening to you, you suck, I got no more. How rude, inconsiderate and completely insubordinate. Just unconscionable behavior and I didn’t even realize I did it.
I forgot I was on a zoom meeting. This is the real me reacting to life! So if I don’t pause when agitated and let my higher power in, I’m a rude, horrible co-worker. Thank God I do this self appraisal now which was absolutely foreign to me when I was drinking.
When I was drinking, bad behavior was normal and I didn’t care. The concept of making amends was never going to happen because that would require of me to think of somebody else which I again don’t do without the help of my higher power.
I’m constantly self-involved and self-seeking in this moment. Whatever my co-worker had to say just didn’t matter. I always think I know exactly what she is going to say because I’m on these conference calls with her all the time. You can tell I probably need to add her to my prayer list. But she’ll say something and I’ll be like, ahhhh you’re right, I don’t know it all! This is why I gotta keep listening.
I’ll tell you an instance of successful self-restraint and why it’s so wonderful. I had a relationship, a long term relationship end about over a year ago now. You could imagine communicating with this ex is not my favorite thing in the world.
If I do not pause and ask my higher power to guide me, I’m going to make the situation worse. I’m going to end up having a text message argument. There’s absolutely nothing worse because you can’t read tone (from a text message). I’m going to assume it’s one thing and there’s going to be a situation where he texted me over something.
In this case I paused and responded appropriately and then he just went off on this barrage of text-messaging at me, and that used to be me! I’m the one that’s going to go off at you. Now the situation was reversed. It was incredible. I said to myself, “I don’t need to respond”. I don’t need to pick up this problem anymore. It’s all due to working the steps with my higher power. I don’t need to respond to this, this isn’t a problem. And I don’t need to make it worse. I just let it be and that’s incredible!
Okay, I have 2 minutes left and I’m going on and on and I need to get to these emotional boobie traps and then talk about big-shot’ism because I am grandiose. And I think I’m the best thing in the world. Someone does something I don’t like and I’m going to show you! And I was telling people before the meeting, my favorite thing to do is giving you the silent treatment. Even though I’m in South America and live thousands of miles away from you and we only communicate via text… you don’t even know that I’m ignoring you and giving you the silent treatment and it only hurts me!
I’m able to respond to situations that used to baffle me as the results from working the steps with a higher power in my life. Which is also the only reason why I’m sitting in front of you today from Montevideo, Uruguay! My ego wants me to take credit for it and wants me to think it’s all my actions. No, the only reason I’ve gotten a better job and a better job and actually, I’m about to start another better job! I’m moving back to the States and the only reason that that’s happening is because I got sober and I worked these steps to the best of my ability and I have step 10 to properly admit when I am wrong.
I can now try to right wrongs, like inappropriate and unacceptable behavior, that I am no longer ok with. I try to remember that every gift I have gotten was freely given to me by you all. It’s none of my doing and I just stay in gratitude.I’m just so indescribably grateful that I have this program and that I have a new job and I have the opportunity to move back to the States. And this is my cat Flint, who predates my sobriety. With that I think I’ve gone on long enough, I’d love to hear your thoughts on self restraint.