August 19 2012 | AA 12 Steps In Action | Step 8 Amends And Willing Alcoholics Anonymous Today's AA daily reflection: "a frame of reference… Our own book of life!" Over the decades I kept writing about life, an informal look at the people I knew, the world in which I lived in those closest I loved and many I still love. In recovery, living the twelve steps provides me with my book of life, and writing about the steps keeps my book of life in the ever present imperfectly perfect moment of now…
Video For Today:
We all have our own book of life, it is our self help book. The book of life is always inside us if we choose to take a formal reckoning on where we are in any given day. Everyone has a rich history of life within, always relevant and always based on experience strength and hope. Once we break through denial and can come to terms with the truth in our book of life, the door opens, we have courage to change, live in the experience of now where our feelings are more likely to fit the reality of our situation…
In our fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous, we continue to discuss and share our experience, strength and hope. And our fellowship is all about emotional and spiritual well-being which I often describe as "living our feelings in the moment of now…" If we know what our feelings are in the moment, we know how these feelings impact on our thinking and on our actions in real time. We can pause, understand our feelings, look at our thinking and how it may impact on our actions, good bad and ugly…
As we are writing our book of life in the moment, some people say, "we seem to be on the same page!" Sometimes we are on the same page, and sometimes we need to check that we are on the same pages of the people around us, or what we feel is good for us may be very horrible for them and totally wrong. Assuming that everyone is on the same page right here right now, is where we can detach from the truth, think we are open honest and willing, and we are far from it in the moment of now…
Yesterday was truly inspiring in many respects. I was able to get out, talk to people in the world who were complete strangers and then asked to photograph some of them. I love taking photos, where the eyes capture and show me what's going on inside people and I feel their feelings, most of the time and share a little hope about what might happen next. I did bump into one man by accident when I was not looking where I was going, and obviously he wasn't either. He told me, "you should look where you're going…" And I said, "ditto." The word in my head was cuntibollockbastard! But I didn't think calling him cuntibollockbastard would achieve much even though I might have felt better for it? No, not in the big picture of life today. I know sometimes a good fight might feel like a good idea, but only time will change the other person and not me, not today and not ever…
AA Daily Reflections ~ "Step 8 Daily Reflections August 19: A frame of reference... Referring to our list [inventory] again. Putting out of our minds the wrongs others had done, we resolutely looked for our own mistakes. Where had we been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking and frightened? [big book]
There is a wonderful freedom in not needing constant approval from colleagues at work or from the people I love. I wish I had known about this Step before, because once I developed a frame of reference, I felt able to do the next right thing, knowing that the action fit the situation and that it was the correct thing to do"
DonInLondon 2005 2011
Actions fit the situation? It took time to experience feelings in the moment. Back in the day, I often walked away from situations confused, and only then wondered how I felt. Today feelings are not blocked by overwhelming fear. Good, bad, happy or sad feelings happen, no need to second guess or pretend. "Now, is what it is," feelings fit the reality of now and I can be myself as life unfolds...
After Eight meeting tonight: Chair was funny fantastic. Steps stop us from suicide, Traditions stop us from homicide. And life is real in recovery, good bad sad joyful. So many friends there. Hugs all round. I belong in fellowship :)
August 2008 ~ 2010
Agnostic, atheist and believer all in one... Back then and even now, when I feel the need to think, isolated and alone, the agnostic and atheist prevails in self-will. When I share and ask for help, I receive truth, love and wisdom. For me, the believer prevails in conscious contact with you today…
Ego vs. Esteem... Back then, self will run riot, ego raw, and no room for faith. Now, as I see "Truth and Wisdom" shared, I am open and learning. Ghandi, “god is truth, love and wisdom of others." Interdependent in the reality of now, equal to listen and to share, learn and grow today...
Publish August 19 2007
DonInLondon - ‘Day In the Life’ Identity is a Key 19 August 2007
A steady day for me here in London, no photo taking. I over did the cycling yesterday and am reaping the benefits. Serious cramping and nerve pain in my legs and feet. All part of my living, I mention it as background as sometimes I forget myself I have been up half the night walking carefully to get over the experience.
A change in direction with the web. My initial photo additions are tentative and for pleasure, no hidden messages unless you see them of course. Photo’s for me are just the revealing of people we see and experience them everyday and fail to see consciously what the subconscious picks up in the blink of an eye.
We make most of our decisions about people in that instant and it fascinates me how we understand and make life out as we go, in moments usually and not years.
I saw the movie, the Bourne Ultimatum today and it was a great thriller and well portrayed as we would expect? I don’t know, I cannot share much without giving away the plot, except for this thing of identity. Its an issue with me as I am still trying to put elements of living into place. Careful reconstruction?
Actually the truth of living is we are forever changing if we are able to take time out and view how we evolve.
Evolution is happening whether we are aware or not. As each generation gets a little more along the genetic path, we change or adapt to environment and our mental outlook is fashioned by experience. We forget that evolution s ongoing, that we provide the genetic code for future generations as our ancestors have since time made humans.
Maybe God is time?
It struck me that time indeed continues as the fabric of the universe shifts this way and that. As we seem fairly speedy this last few centuries, utilising technology, and so on, our understanding of the universe has meant many old ideas and faiths have been challenged.
Some recent ancestors claims to a flat world, to the sun going round the earth, and some notions of God or Gods..
Well what can we do with the science and the theological debates in this lifetime? I don’t ignore the problems of theology, or the science which makes us challenge of everything.
I know from recent experience yet again, that when we depart this world and our body has expired, whatever spark we saw, that blink of an eye that makes us able to discern humans we want to know and humans we prefer to leave alone, is gone.
Spark of Living
It is this zeitgeist moment in many ways how we turn from one way of living to another or we fear the change and lose our potential. All these matters feel important just now.
I have no answers tonight, relish maybe a view here and there, and will come back with more another day. A significant shift in outlook and not so in capacity in other areas of living, but we never know with modern science.
August 19 2006 [ last year DonInLondon]
Railroads and Chain Gangs
Compliance Yes - With Support
Is it any surprise some of the songs which stick in our minds have simple lyrics? They have some meaning for us in a way we don’t always pick up straight away.
And why are we so absorbed by music and tunes and lyrics at all? On a deep level it’s a way of helping us touch our feelings and expression. What we hear from the time we are born is the music and rhythm of life. And we feel the emotions and feel the expression of others. We learn simply and easily the most complex parts of our inner workings.
Often a simple lyric can touch our inside deep so profoundly, and we feel the passion and the heart of another as we wish we could express ourselves. That is why we listen to music and lyrics. We get in touch with our inner being, the one we don’t share as openly all the time, or feel able to express as openly.
We somehow don’t learn to express our feelings as they are inside for many reasons, yet our feelings are there and hearing others express them helps us explain our insides to others. We have favourite songs and lyrics, we share common themes and share common feelings with those we love.
And songs of strength and fortitude are used to motivate us. We have anthems, for sports, for our country, for special occasions in life. And we have songs which get us in touch with everyday feelings we have about everyday life.
I was mulling things over during the early hours. Sam Cooke’s Chain Gang was rolling around in my head. Hence the title for this piece of writing. Railroad. Railroading and the sort, it had been running along inside me after the recent events where I have been compliant with life and things we must do when needed. Railroads and railroading. We have our ideas about how he we live. Being derailed is a train crash in living terms.
My life is very much about compliance and middle of the road living, without extremes which push me into the heights or depths of feeling. And being a clever son of a gun some of the time, it does not make me detached from my feelings or able to deflect the feelings I have from time to time when I must comply with ordinary things we all must do.
Being railroaded, that is when we are made to do something we don’t really think is right or helpful. Being railroaded and going with the flow of others and their views and their ways, it’s a real hard place to find ourselves and that is the truth. Yet sometimes we need comply and get on with it, because it’s the right thing to do or we don’t feel able to get out of the arrangements. We feel we must go along, and being railroaded is bound to set us off balance and bound to push our feelings from the middle of the road and maybe to extremes.
I am surprised in the last week, unable to detach my feelings from the ordinary business of life. I am compliant and know its just the way things are. And still I am blown away at how a simple act of compliance has led to extreme feelings I wish I never experience. Yet these feelings are there. And I feel them.
I know where my extreme feeling has been made, and its to do with my notion of fair play, fairness, integrity, openness and honesty. And willing to do things we all need to do get by which led to my values being compromised led to my extreme reactions this week.
As I mentioned I cannot change the rules of living to suit me, and the rules are there as they are, immutable. And its when we realise the rules don’t work, is where we get upset. And we get really upset when rules are then applied to us in person. That is when we find it hard to detach and keep our middle of the road perspective.
Breaking down and unable to express myself yesterday in front of specialists. Now it came as a surprise to me. I am able to keep control of most my feelings in front of anyone most of the time. But I now realise my reserves are gone and there is no mask to wear to disguise my rawness.
I was helped with the utmost kindness as I went through some examination of my current conditions with the Clinic at the hospital. And I gave them a copy of my notes on recent days, just in case I could not find words. And it was the kindness which completely overwhelmed me, and I broke down. If only they had been indifferent and not kind, if only they had been hostile, I could have kept my mask in place and gathered sufficient strength to keep myself together in hiding.
So it does not matter who we are, some people will find a way through and let us reveal our truth. Even when we would rather run away and hide our feelings, and steel ourselves and just bloody well suffer in silence!
It is the hardest thing to do, reveal our hurt and our true deep feelings. And of course as I realise my feelings are running deep, and very angry feelings are there, I didn’t want anyone to know how deep my anger and reaction might be. And truly I felt capable of reacting as badly as any human wronged for events this week. That is my horror and my acceptance. That I too can be pushed over the edge.
And I know I need time and distance to recover composure, which I explained to my Specialist, and later to my Psychiatrist over the phone, who was concerned enough to track me down later and arrange an earlier meeting. And its often those moments when we don’t know how to be ourselves, that the true self can be revealed through extremes. And our learning is not to react or consequences can be so severe and our behaviour so severe, we might not pull back from the edge. That edge of reason we wish we all have and try keep us in place when others reason and behaviour fails.
For indeed we look to be reasonable when pressured or challenged, but there is and will be a push too far. Or we would not be human.
A cautionary tale for me. And a realisation as I don’t use anything but my feelings these days to work through my issues. I don’t drink (or as others do, drug) and find oblivion anymore, I use expression and safe places where I can trust and be able to find myself again.
What I realise in this process is we are all able to reach the end of our tether, and its how we are able to find expression enough times to work through issues which helps. And in this case, be offered support from people who are professional and the epitome of integrity. And that is as hard to deal with if not harder than what happened before. When we are used to abuse we have our defence in place, be it denial and shut down, to anger and violence, we all have our ways, and mine is silence and isolation. Silence and
isolation will keep me stuck, and the lesson learned is continued sharing and expression of feelings, until the feelings get right sized once again.
Getting right sized again means I will get perspective. Getting perspective I will realise the things that happened to me this week are common and ordinary. That my reaction need be what it is, because it hurt me to the core of my principles and ways of living and treating others. And I need not be wrongly sized or out of balance in my whole outlook because of this week.
At the same time, I will be wiser and more careful when told I must comply with others. I can make sure next time, there will be a witness and there will be independent observation of the behaviour of others who assess me and my condition.
And as to my state of mind. It is out of balance, it will take time to sort itself out, and I will need and get help from my fellowship and whoever else need be involved. And somehow for a change I am not going it alone, as before and isolated it near killed me off.
When I went to my meeting last night, a friend said to me "I can’t believe what happened to you this week". They had read my words on the website and were shocked. In surprise I asked how they knew I was writing on a web log and they had merely been looking for some information on other matters and found my posts.
It’s a small world. And thankfully we do get help in the most surprising and careful ways when people know what is happening. I am humbled by concern shown to me, and am starting to learn how to really express what is going on all over again.
I felt years ago, I knew everything, and as time goes on, I realise there is so much more to learn, as long as I just keep on going one day at a time, just solving a part of life and not trying to do the whole job at once.
Sam Cooke and Charles Cooke:
All day long they work so hard
Till the sun is goin' down
Working on the highways and byways
And wearing, wearing a frown
You hear them moanin' their lives away
Then you hear somebody sa-ay
That's the sound of the men working on the chain gang...
We learn as we can just one day at a time…
Step 8 "Step Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all." "n other words, who have you harmed? You will recall from our discussion of Steps 4 and 5, that a preliminary list of persons we had harmed is generated there. The list will now be refined into a personal amendment plan, which is the product of Step 8."Although this step requires plenty of work, there is nothing frightening in it. Amends are not actually made in Step 8. Instead, we plan for the making of amends in Step 9, which follows. Harm is: injury, hurt, damage, misfortune, grief, pain, sorrow, evil, wrong or wickedness. Have we brought about any of these in the lives of others? The Big Book and the 12&12 also are quite specific about harm." BB Bunch
August Video Reading Step Eight Into Action Link:
Step Eight Reading
“How It Works” Reading Video Link:
“Into Action" Reading Video Link:
I do not speak for Alcoholics Anonymous I speak for myself. Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of unique and authentic people who speak for themselves where they will to share experience, strength and hope about recovery on a daily basis. Anonymity affords sanctuary to find how to live sober and be open, honest and willing to learn life day by day. For me "truth," "love" and "wisdom" offer the best spiritual experience by living reality today. Into the fabric of recovery from alcoholism are woven the Twelve Steps and the Traditions: steps to be open, honest and willing to learn, traditions to live unity, service and recovery.
Spiritual principles ~ Forgiveness Acceptance Surrender Faith Open-mindedness Honesty Willingness Moral-inventory Amends Humility Persistence Spiritual-growth Service