August 20 2012 | AA 12 Steps In Action | Step 8 Amends And Willing Alcoholics Anonymous Today's AA daily reflection: "toward emotional freedom, a daily freedom when I remember…" Emotional freedom, what on earth is that? I guess emotional freedom is the ability to ask ourselves this simple question, "how am I feeling, right here and right now?" And if we can answer this question truthfully, without having to force ourselves into an answer, the freedom is now…
Video For Today:
"I shouldn't feel like this!" And the answer is if you know what the feeling is and it's being felt right now, you should be feeling like this right now. Right now I feel happy to be me and there is no guilt or shame attached to being me. But if I listen to the opinion of others, I will start to feel very judged. Because some people just don't like other people being happy or they feel like putting us down, because they feel down about themselves. Let go of abusive people as much as possible…
"I feel guilty because I can't and am too tired and exhausted to help." Actually I don't feel guilty, if a person asks for help and I am not capable or able right now, I do not feel guilty. I need to suggest as was suggested to me, take lots of phone numbers, make as many connections as you possibly can and be aware that up to nine out of ten people are never available when you want them, because they too have a life to lead…
Emotional freedom, feeling right about next actions. Feeling right and knowing what we feel, means we know what is going to influence our thinking and then our actions. Emotional freedom is very like the serenity prayer, knowing what we can do and what we cannot do in the moment of now and keep on learning the difference. Unity service and recovery is about saying yes when we can, and no when we cannot without damaging ourselves and others. It is always the many in recovery who help us to keep sober and continue to be free emotionally. If we rely on one other or just a few, codependence is but a moment away, and then both sink together…
AA Daily Reflections ~ "August 20: Toward emotional freedom... Since defective relations with other human beings have nearly always been the immediate cause of our woes, including our alcoholism, no field of investigation could yield more satisfying and valuable rewards than this one. [12&12]
Willingness is a peculiar thing for me in that, over a period of time, it seems to come, first with awareness, but then with a feeling of discomfort, making me want to take some action. As I reflected on taking the Eighth Step, my willingness to make amends to others came as a desire for forgiveness, of others and myself. I felt forgiveness toward others after I became aware of my part in the difficulties of relationships. I wanted to feel the peace and serenity described in the Promises. From working the first seven Steps, I became aware of whom I had harmed and that I had been my own worst enemy. In order to restore my relationships with my fellow human beings, I knew I would have to change. I wanted to learn to live in harmony with myself and others so that I could also live in emotional freedom. The beginning of the end to my isolation - from my fellows and from God - came when I wrote my Eighth Step list."
DonInLondon 2005 2011
A life story in step four becomes our reference book. Step five we share our assets and liabilities. Step six, contingent on the day we ask, less drawn into our liabilities and step seven improving our courage faith and confidence. Step eight making the list of amends and being willing to make them. Step nine follows. Step work, timely and particular to each of us. Sober, good and usually difficult, life works better today...
Our way back to extraordinary ordinary living is truly a gift in recovery learning as we go with gentle stoicism. Hope each day slows down or speeds up to be in the moment of now, where feelings fit our current situation, no burden from the past, enough faith to continue our journey's today...
August 2008 ~ 2010
Toward emotional freedom... Feelings first then we think about them. Our mood and emotions, felt then thought through, sometimes limits the actions we take, sometimes extends our actions. We make risk assessments all day long, consciously and some without thought. What was I thinking about when..?
How am I feeling, why and what can I do is assertive. How are we feeling, why and what can we do is empathy. To be able to feel, express and be assertive in the moment helps us find empathy, of how we feel, the why and express what we can do together. Empathy part of our emotional progress today...
Publish August 20 2007
Anxiety State - DonInLondon ‘Day In the Life’ August 20 2007
Not Today Thank You: 1996 - 1998
I had a problem about ten years back it went on for a couple of years and then got worse.
I was in an Anxiety State
Unbelievable pain. I recollect those harsh times without much relish these days. However did I get like this:
Mental anxiety: this includes, excessive worry or excessive preoccupation that 'something might go wrong', disturbing thoughts, ideas and impulses, (as a consequence, you may feel excessively irritable and oversensitive). Mental anxiety can occur with little or no associated physical symptoms.
Physical anxiety: sometimes there are also physical symptoms. These include - palpitations, dry mouth, breathing difficulties, giddiness, sweating, nausea, diarrhoea, frequent urination, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, restlessness, sexual disturbances, sleep problems, nervous tension, (resulting in headaches, tightness of the throat, stomach or chest etc), hyperventilation (resulting in tingling in the hands and legs, pins and needles, giddiness etc). Experiencing these sensations has the effect of making you even more anxious, thus a vicious circle can be set up.
Dissociative anxiety: i.e. where certain feelings or thoughts appear separated from you or your personality. Symptoms include - depersonalisation, (the feeling that your body is strange or you are somehow removed from it), derealisation, (the feeling that the world is weird or unreal), narrowing of the time-frame, (so that only now matters), mental confusion, (adding to disorganised and ineffective behaviour), your mind 'playing tricks on you', repeated waves of emotion, occasional sense of dread, emotional numbing, episodes of amnesia. 'Mini-mood swings' are common, i.e. where normal day-to-day changes in mood are exaggerated by your anxious state. Understandably, such symptoms are disconcerting and can make you feel that you are losing grip with reality.
Years Later 2007 Here and Now
And in recovery from a lot of pernicious conditions, it feels a lot calmer nowadays. Even in the big picture those years of anxiety can throw me back to panic mode when I forget to utilise every tool in my toolkit to make life work.
These days you won’t find me so affected by living. And whilst my physical and mental awareness is heightened these days with more incapacities I care to mention, they are nowhere near as bad as those days gone by. These days I am able to make sense of this day to day living. And for years it seemed my turn in living had been done, the best over before I got where I wanted, wherever that may have been. And this is true, with more to go wrong as time has gone by, I have learned to live with me and my lot..
Today and Tonight
I spent a while on the phone with a friend who is still out there in the wilderness of compulsive drinking. And their stuff gets more and more as any alcoholic knows, unmanageable and full of sorties into turgid goings on. We are proof of unimaginable doings and near misses and nearly doing this and then doing more outrageous activities. I had to smile as we discussed recent events for them, it took me back to my wilder and more out of control days. It was as if hearing my story from darker times for me. Much fun there can be on some levels as we plough and make life exciting to the casual eye, whilst underneath we feel utter desolation. I don’t blame or judge my friend out there, it would be unwise.
I also realised this last few weeks I had been so hard on myself I could not see the good of life in the end. I nearly perished more than once as life was truly out of control. I don’t share much about hospital, near misses with dangerous types, other matters which reflect what alcohol can do and merely survive the consequences a while.
In truth I see exactly where my friend is. It is all the above, and worse with drink. Both of us are lucky we don’t add much else to this mixture. At least not me, and I am glad I never made it more than alcohol. Apart from decades back trying some cannabis. It was short lived and interfered with the effects of booze, which I utilised to “obliviate” life.
After such a call you might wonder why I could forget it till now? It would disturb most people to hear a friend so out of control we might worry. I don’t worry because I am powerless as the world was when I was like that. Its sad but we cannot do a thing till a person is ready to change and give up. I realise their reasons were as mine years back so let go and let them share as I share how I got a life back in the end.
Lunch with Family
With my sister and mother, a good lunch and perfect company. We had a good time and shared and swapped news and stories. We live with and experience grief these days. We live with consequences of loss and make good use of memories and photo’s and share good thoughts and feelings. There is emptiness and loss, as sadness rolls in to hark our recollections to more happy exchanges with one who has departed. And we share our sad moments and laugh at their humour and wit. We will not forget for sure. And there is joy and sadness in recollections. Glad we can share and not hide our feelings. We make progress each day.
I was truly weighed down with a great Sunday Lunch and had to sit quietly a while. Then off again to a meeting this evening.
The knowledge of what I have endured and lived through, the anxiety state described above, it makes me realise that although life is certainly harder today, at least I can differentiate what is really happening and how to live again.
There is joy today…
There is sadness today…
And for today I know the difference.
Thanks to family and fellowship, careful connections and careful doings. Just for today.
August 20 2006 [ about last year]
Keep it Real
My Raison D’être
Keep it real, it being life I guess. Real life is sometimes up and sometimes down, most of the time its somewhere in between. How we view life and how real it is, well that depends on our outlook and sometimes our outlook determines how we feel about reality.
How we feel, we don’t ask ourselves this question often enough maybe, and of course its easy to go too far the other way and end up trying to analyse everything too much. Its got to be about finding a balance, some middle road most of the time where we can get on and be reasonably happy with living.
Asked a couple of days ago, the idea of being normal and living an ordinary life. You know it is a deep question, what is ordinary life these days. Like the person who asked, is it normal to spend ten hours a day in front of a computer screen and then go home and spend more time in front of another screen? It could be and it could be ordinary and could be happy. Again I reckon it depends on our outlook and our own version of ordinary.
Yesterday morning, I was back at the hospital, not for anything in particular to do with the last week, but for a meeting of my fellowship. We have fellowship meetings all over London and this one just happens to be where I go for specialist care for my Diabetes. And it’s a place where people with every disease go to find help and care. The coincidence that a fellowship meeting is held there is fortuitous for me.
Our chairperson, speaker was someone who is or has become an occasional visitor to meetings. They have been leading a normal and ordinary life for years. They got married and started a family and have been very happy and living just the ordinary life any ordinary person looks to have. Usual things, with wife and kids, mortgage and bills and schools and stuff. And just having a perfectly ordinary living with everything associated with family and so on.
Especially love and being loved figures as the number one in their family.
The speaker had bumped into the secretary for the meeting and they had not seen each other for years, but the secretary asked them to come along and speak about their experience strength and hope.
Experience, strength and hope are our keys for discussion and find this bridge we talk about, the one back to modern living. The bridge back from the madness of excess, to living this ordinary thing called life. And we like to hear about ordinary, and what its like. Because the more we hear individual tales of real stories back into recovery, and staying "recovered", the more hope we have we can be able to find our bridge back to our ordinary living.
Ordinary living is really being ourselves without a drink or drug altering our ability to just get on with life. Or using drink or drugs to enhance or make our experience tolerable or more enhanced in some way. Anyone who has had some sort of experience with drink and drugs knows its effect, and long term the effect is so damaging, it cannot be reversed completely. And that is addiction, where one fix won’t do it and fixing will lead back to addiction. Once the line is crossed there is no safe place except total abstinence. And life will always have its highs and lows, and an addict will go back to their addiction if pressure is there either too high or too low and try fix, if they don’t keep their head on straight and have a programme of recovery. And that’s the role of the fellowships.
Anyway our chair spoke about their life. It was good and balanced and all is hunky dory. Except for a couple of occasions recently where they had been affected so badly by incidents out of their control. Road rage was one and I forget the other. But what our occasional fellow shared helped me enormously, and made me realise my regular attendance at meetings is absolutely vital. He related the rage he had felt when others had got in his way and made his life feel like hell all over again. His wife witnessed how her husband went from calm and loving to enraged and out of character in no time flat. Something she never saw in their ordinary living.
Our occasional fellow said he was taken aback and shocked that he had touched again, those inner depths where we all can be pushed too far, and he did not feel the need to go drink or drug, but he needed somewhere to let out his feelings and do it without harm or hurt to anyone. He needed a safe place where he could express his anger and astonishment at the deep rage he felt for being endangered and made to feel so bad. He came back to meetings to express his dark depths and in doing so get it out of his system. It was a perfect example of what I have been doing this past few days in fellowship meetings.
I shared back to him what had happened to me, the outcomes and the feelings and the helpless powerless upset of being made less than human by things that happen. And after the meeting he came and talked to me, and thanked me, because it helped him see the true need to keep close to the fellowship, so feelings don’t get out of control and then acted upon in the heat of the moment.
Cathartic? Well when I realise that the upset I have is as genuine and important as this speaker, where his family and he were endangered, and that we need a safe place to express torment and deep feelings, I knew I was in the right place to keep working on my reality and so did he.
We both agreed the initial feelings and actions that could have happened would have been catastrophe, and that it would have done long term harm to act on those horrid feelings. So we found a place to keep on saying how we felt till the feelings get back to right size and about living normal again. He was pleased I shared my experiences, and I was pleased he had helped me as a way to see my own problems.
He then asked me how I felt about the diabetic neuropathy in my feet. And do you know, I don’t know how I feel in my head about this. Because I am so out of balance still about all the other crap surrounding last week, I have not had a chance really.
So asking myself this question now, how am I feeling about diabetic neuropathy and my feet and the pains which stop me walking some days, and walking in pain every day? Thank God I now know exactly what it is, because my GP has told me it cannot be this when last I raised the issue with her some months back. She had looked at me as if I were an idiot. And I felt as insignificant and stupid about the whole thing, as if I were making it up. And finding she had suggested it was psoriasis to the DWP (department of work and pensions) makes it all the more difficult to trust her and her judgments about me.
How do feel about this this early hour on a Sunday morning? Crap and angry about being misdiagnosed and misjudged by the GP. She has always acted superior and not really listened. When I saw her a couple of times last year, it took more than one visit to see her before she sent me for blood tests and was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, and by that stage I had lost nearly three stones and was really very ill. But she knew best I had thought at the time and relied on her judgement. I really don’t have any trust in her any more, she has left me weakened over and over in the last couple of years and made me feel like I am less than an ordinary person. And I trusted her judgment when all the signs were there was something so wrong inside, and still I put my trust in her. I feel stupid now for not keeping on and asking for more help, but felt with my history of depression, it must be my imagination and I should not bother or question what so called experts say.
That is my story of events and I feel, well I don’t know. I feel undermined, and lost because I should be able to trust my GP, and its gone wrong. And I don’t feel right saying this at all, its not my way to undermine others, but these are life threatening errors of judgment and real life, my life. My error for being so ashamed to be ill, and her error of not paying attention to what I have been saying.
How am I feeling? I don’t know how to feel about these things. I don’t feel right, and I don’t feel confident about what has happened, because I have doubted my judgment for so long, its hard to know what is true and what is perception.
I feel I will be better served going to a meeting soon, there is one at 9:00 am locally. And just sitting and listening and seeing how my fellows are this morning. I am too tired after little or no sleep to say much or speak out. Its usually a big meeting on a Sunday morning and lots of fellows come out to sort out their crap before going home to make Sunday Lunch and have ordinary Sundays with their families.
Sunday mornings for me used to be going to the gym and work out, then out to lunch with friends and keeping a happy day happy all day. My Sundays typically are a meeting in the morning and one in the evening, and the rest of the middle doing something useful. And learning something new, and maybe a film. But it does not work like that with depression as time slips and memory is not good. I feel unable to concentrate well and things get lost in time. I don’t function at all well at this present time.
But as to friends from the past? Where are they now? I have no idea, as they do not have my need to keep safe and away from old times where ordinary indulgence would now lead to catastrophic consequences.
Especially with my additional conditions. So a safe and quiet day. Maybe speak on the phone to my Mum, and Sister, and Brother. Maybe, or see some people from the fellowship who gather safely to do ordinary life, like have a cup of tea and a bun.
Other ordinary fellows though. I smile at this will be deep into family, deep into their relationships, deep into studies, deep into telly and deeply immersed in ordinary stuff. As light as a feather or as heavy as a ton weight, just as real life can be, a day at a time.
Its just five in the morning, the baby next door is crying, just newly born. And the baby, her Mum on her own, a refugee and in emergency homeless accommodation, just like me. I feel its tough for me sometimes, still registered homeless and at fifty years old, not much to show for my life in some ways. I reflect though how it must feel to be a refugee from another country and running from violence with a new born baby to care for as well. And all I wonder is how I might help..
Now that is real and right in my reality. Helping others is and has always been my raison d’être. And at the moment I better tend to me as well, or there will be no helping anyone, just a day at a time...
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