August 23 2012 | AA 12 Steps In Action | Step 8 Amends And Willing Alcoholics Anonymous Today's AA daily reflection: "bringing the message home of tolerance and love to deranged families…" Sometimes the words in the AA daily reflections book, for example; deranged, do have particularly negative feelings attached to them and prejudice. Why use the word deranged in the same sentence as tolerance and love…? Why not, it is true…
Video For Today:
To the person who has self harmed, has developed self prejudice about themselves and not able to break through denial and accept they have a disease, there is a need for tolerance and love from those around them and from them towards others. To get to tolerance and love means we have to break the pattern of self harm and step out of the blame game of self prejudice so we can stop blaming others for being prejudiced. Prejudice and resentments against others begets more prejudice and resentful behaviour too… Not easy for the stubborn of heart… Or those still active in the malady and stuck in the disease of alcoholism…
I know my family were driven mad by my situation as an active alcoholic. Nobody can understand the horror of not being able to stop doing something over and over again which was killing me back then. My family had to cut me off and let me sink or swim in the end, driven mad by their own powerlessness over me and my actions. And if I could not stop myself, how on earth could they stop me? It took a fellowship and many sharing experience strength and hope to help me find my way…
Sometimes even in fellowship, we can feel the pull of another person in active addiction asking for help, and suddenly find we may be the only ones they are focusing on for help. I have felt shame and guilt about saying to people in fellowship who continually lapse that I cannot help them on my own. They may see that I'm sober, but I need everyone to keep me sober and so do they. Tolerance and love on my part has been to urge them back into meetings, take as many phone numbers as possible and talk with as many people as possible until the sober days start to come again. It is so difficult when a person cries out in anguish that we are the only one who can help them, it does not work in my experience and it takes the many in recovery to keep one of us sober today. Unity, service and recovery are key…
Tolerance and love… I remember how I was in active alcoholism, and looking back I can see just how mad and insane my behaviour was. Part of my problem was that success had propped me up and I had resources to finance my addiction to alcohol. And then the money ran out, and I had stretched everyone to the limit of their patience. Then followed homelessness and years of self inflicted torture. Even my psychiatrist told me he could not help me and he said I had to go back to AA. I hated this advice, but he was right, I had to learn all aspects of life all over again… And I said to myself, "I cannot do this on my own and I don't know how." I stopped trying to prove myself to everyone and stopped pretending to be okay and then started to learn how to ask for help. I love learning all aspects of life today, and every relationship is new, there is equality in my outlook, if I do not know what is right for you, and I am only finding out today what is right for me, we are all learning together. Humility saves me just for today…
AA Daily Reflections ~ "August 23 Step 8: Bringing the message home... Can we bring the same spirit of love and tolerance into our sometimes deranged family lives that we bring to our A.A. group? [12&12]
My family members suffer from the effects of my disease. Loving and accepting them as they are - just as I love and accept A.A. members - fosters a return of love, tolerance and harmony to my life. Using common courtesy and respecting other's personal boundaries are necessary practices for all areas of my life."
DonInLondon 2005 2011
How am I feeling? Yesterday, a brief encounter with a friend lifts me up inside, and a gift given. Learning how to love is deep, practical and without any conditions. Being loved without conditions is a wonder to experience. The truth, as we give, we receive and never quite as we may have learned in the past. New days, new beginnings and cherish always...
Step eight, working on the wreckage of the past. A list of amends and willing to make them and I was thorough and rigorous. And still some amends become clearer as the years have passed and I am more human, making progress and not perfect. At my worst, it was the best I could be, at their worst it was the best they could be. Forgiveness and acceptance deepens with every encounter in the present day...
August 2008 ~ 2010
My family... Relieved beyond imagination I found recovery, no longer confounded by silence, broken promises and old behaviour from back then. As I am learning who I am today, they too see the changes in me. A son, brother, uncle, cousin, friend ... more real, open honest and willing to be a part of all living today...
How am I feeling today... Upon waking, how am I feeling? Open to share, honest in my outlook and willing to be a part of the big picture today? Or do I feel closed down, not able to share my truth and unwilling to be part of the big picture today? Most likely I am making progress and never perfect, just for today...
August 23rd 2007
DonInLondon - ‘Day In The Life’ I Can’t Believe it Moments
It is true when we have been under the weather with ailments that good news in what has been a pretty challenging year makes for happy denial.
Denial is about our ‘I can’t believe it’ moments and they happen with out of the ordinary events.
A character called Victor Meldrew in the TV show “One Foot In The Grave” summed up his exasperation and denial moments with the phrase ‘I can’t believe it.’
So when a bit of good news which affects me in life changing ways, the truth of it still needs to sink in as much as bad news. Indeed I have been programmed over recent years to have bad news and deal with it by the day.
We use denial for good reason to make big events and moments easier to deal with. From death and sadness to joy and new life we are prone to take in events carefully when we overload our senses.
Acceptance of life as is..
We do take time to let good and bad news sink in, as digesting big things needs time to assimilate..
I have a home at last. And the homeless status feels a lifetime long. Officially and unofficially it is a good decade in a wilderness of painful wanderings and wondering how to get my feet back on the ground. Now I have a home to go to. Compact and close to the amenities which matter to me, hospital, meetings I have in fellowship. Most of all close to family not too far away. Help and support as well. All things I need to help life along and keep with a programme of healthy living.
I have and had been a singular liver of life a while now. Isolation is not my path, and never designed for it. The truth is we often do best in the company of people we know best, love and love them. Family have helped me beyond boundaries which would otherwise never be crossed. Fellows in my fellowship have listened and helped me with their wisdom.
After seeing my home last night I went a fellowship meeting in Fulham Broadway. Just down the road, the Fulham Road from where I will be shortly. Past the hospital where I am an outpatient for Type 1 diabetes and the conflagration of complications that affords in the emotional and physical condition. There is a star bucks just outside the hospital and I stopped for an extravagant coffee. I had been a frequent visitor at this hospital a few weeks back where my Sister’s partner died. I sent a silent reminder to the heavens that he is not forgotten and will not be. And my Sister came to see home for me last night. She intends to return with some paint and a roller!
And last night’s meeting had strong family themes as a lot of people have been bereaved and see the importance of looking after one another. And where parents still are alive, we all felt we needed to share time with the living, or often its too late. And there is no time for blame or anger at how some living turned out, as truly everyone does their best as they know how as each day unfolds. We can blame nothing in the end. It’s a waste of time and energy.
So by the end of the meeting with many still making connections and helping family as we get with sobriety sometimes connections can be restored and sometimes left as nothing good may come of it.
We deal with our ghosts of times past. And know our ghosts still haunt now as time is needed to heal and ,move along.
Seems denial so integral to life and living serves us well much of the time.
Although in our fellowship we recognise its intrinsic hold on living when in the grip of a killer addiction.
Denial will love us to death…
So this morning I have been up and doing only a short time, the video done last night and I have forgotten much of what I said..
August 23rd 2006
I must admit after long weeks and months of insomnia, life does take on surreal feelings and thoughts. Its been the usual again, going to bed around 11:30PM and dropping off to sleep sometime later and awake with a start around 1:15AM. So not much more than an hour and I bounce out of some odd dream about assessments and examinations of me. And my GP’s voice in my head. Not good karma.
I am feeling tired and out of sorts. The meaning of things in general feels out of kilter and I am definitely suffering from fatigue. And my limbs feel heavy and feet feel like they belong to someone else. Odd feelings, and a desire for days where I slept on for hours at a time. Acceptance feels a long way off this early morning.
Its quiet, no railway works tonight or this morning. I live right next to the tube lines. And the constant roar during the day does not bother me or sleeping when I go to bed at night around 11:30, I feel. Mind, when the workmen are busy when the network is shut down at night, the constant intermittent or continuous drilling and bashing of steel does grate on the nerves and keep even the hardy sleeper from their slumbers. I tried ear plugs, but with tinnitus, it only makes the roar in my noodle louder with them in. Double jeopardy.
Now you would not want my problems would you? Actually for all the things to contend with, its ok, as long as I stick with the knitting of the programme.
I just checked my blood sugar, its low now, and was high when I went to bed. So something has occurred. I have a sore throat, so a cold maybe on the way. Its tricky this maintenance thing, just when it seems sorted, it throws an odd curve. No need of insulin then..
And I missed the meds last night. Some forgetting. Not sure if I took them or just forgot to record it. I was making some salad and chicken for dinner and somewhere forgot either to record or take them. Anyway, as I’m up and its just gone 3:00AM, an early infusion won’t do any harm. And make up the disparity if I did forget.
Now forgetting makes me feel worried. Forgetting and absent minded behaviour is not the best way to be with self managed medication and control of diabetes and depression. Being confused is a state of being a lot of the time. And this is worrying because while people do keep an eye and ask me, and usually I am or seem to be ok, because I say so, they don’t keep up the frequency and connection.
Which is why its so important for me to get out to meetings. I took some ibuprofen yesterday to see how that might help with the pain in my feet. It did not work. It’s a real irritation and realise that the solution most likely and known to work is amitriptyline. So the choice is mine, no pain is the gain and a head with fog in it the consequence. I will hold off another day.
Putting on a Brave Face
Being stoic, "somebody who is unemotional, especially somebody who shows patience and endurance during adversity" has served me all my life.
And being stoic, it’s a double edged sword. So for years I had been the rock others rely upon and now as I need help and support these days, its working against me. I find it hard to express my feelings and my worries. Its easier to keep up a front of being ok. And I am a master of this particular art.
Putting on a brave face actually is a form of self denial. Denial is something anyone who has to deal with diminishing abilities and capacities tends to enact. Why? Because like everyone, we don’t want to be different or less than what we were. And we will battle to maintain a front of being ok even when the inside is all mashed up. Expressing true feelings can be very difficult and very hard when all my life I have worked as I was taught, never to show weakness and always to look on the bright side of life.
And you know I still do this. Because there is a lot to be grateful for. As mentioned before the amount of help and support has been fantastic. At the same time, inside I know I am less than I was in some ways. In other ways I am learning a whole new way of living and need carry these new ways of living to others who get bashed up by life and deal with changes and what to do to cope.
In my fellowship, I share more openly and believe my denial of my real feelings is less, and my ability to share the truth is improving. I also know that denial is a natural process we all have to cope, when faced with big changes and things we find unacceptable. So it is a daily process to accept the changes and get on with life. And I do. Then I don’t, then I do again! Little by little I accept a bit more truth and get on. it’s a process of change.
Acceptance of anything is pretty hard, and its not something we humans do well especially when we have been ok for years. So it does take time and patience.
I will always have a brave face, its just the way it is I feel. And breaking down like last week was out of character for me. To be judged, misheard, misdirected and wrongly diagnosed and then wrongly reported, well it really did undermine me completely. Thank goodness there were some professionals around to help me at the hospital.
I am lucky, I have meetings near me all the time, and within five minutes walk, which is pretty much the extent of walking on feet which feel like they are on fire by the time I get there. I tell this truth not for sympathy, more for understanding. And you know what, I’d rather not tell you at all. I don’t want you to know. If I don’t tell you, you might wonder what’s wrong, and you might assume I am ok. I look ok, and I will engage you in conversation, and find common ground, and chat. And we all do these things a lot of the time.
A good venue, an old church, not that I am a fan of "Church" per se, but they are cheap to rent for an hour or two and our fellowship works on paying its way from us fellows, and some of us don’t have much money. I smile actually, because there are many who were and are very well off, and we do encounter the rich and well heeled now and then. And they are generous I must say with their contributions when we are running low on the rent for the meeting rooms.
Odd that I was writing about our first step yesterday, it seemed to be a focus again last night. And the thing of being powerless cropped up. New fellows to our fellowship, and some more than a few years sober can be persuaded by their internal thinking that they can bargain and get round this truth of powerlessness. And we were listening to argument that might persuade the most gifted of thinkers there is something to be said about having our will restored and abilities enabled to control our drinking behaviour. So persuasive are these arguments that our fellows are well known for popping out for a drink or two to see whether its true.
And even when years of sobriety have passed some go out drinking, not just for the odd one, but for a few years at a time, and then come back and report how awful it gets all over again. And some don’t get back ever, as we know all too well, gone for good, and buried and read about or their funeral attended. Well we get to know somehow and there is no way back to drinking we do really know. But we humans are able to deny the most obvious truths as it does not suit our view of living.
I did share last night about my personal stuff. And about some history, and maybe how I have come to understand why I am the way I am. We inherit everything we are from our parents and theirs too. Some traits we have are hereditary we know. I inherited my Dad’s strong will and determination against all odds to keep on going, whatever I might encounter. And his brains. And from my mother, her brains too, and I suspect a gentler side of living, and certainly an affinity with people and their spirit of life. And generations back there looms a lot of depressives who now I have found were quite prone to depression and all that entails. Well its just the way it is you know. No blame attached here, its just nature. And I have no complaint on that score, or any other as acceptance seems to be complete in this respect. Provided of course I work at acceptance every day. it’s a maintenance thing, acceptance.
Knowing why I turned out this way is helpful, it means I don’t need to debate or get shameful about why certain things have happened to me. And actually I don’t need blame anybody for my situation today, well except me of course.
And in our fellowship, there is much discourse and reflection on whether our disease is genetic or from our nurture. But we seem accepting of it being a disease, and then we don’t because there is ownership of responsibility there too. And there is some denial that had we choices about how we became addicted to some behaviour, in our case alcohol and that excess.
Because if we can put the blame on us, we feel better able to shoulder it all. At least some of us sometimes feel that’s a better way to look at it. Then simply when we look at the choice to be an addict or be a normal person, why on earth would we choose this disease? So we all go through these debates. And we recognise we have a prejudice against ourselves whilst we still debate. And the reason being so hard on ourselves? We know society and people in general reckon it’s a self inflicted illness and disease. My view? I know its not, it is a disease and no one chooses it. And actually I don’t care for the debate anymore, it changes nothing of my reality today.
Prejudice by me and others
But I do know this, people with this disease are treated as well as society understands the condition. And many people are treated so badly, they die of neglect, and most often self neglect and shame, because they do not understand the disease.
And I also know without any doubt, that many do not understand clinical depression either. That for normal people it is time to pull their socks up, when they get a dip in their mood and circumstances, put on a brave face and keep on smiling. There are songs and music a plenty to help encourage just that. Keep on smiling, the whole world smiles with you! And so we do
And I believe we do need to be stoic to an extent. Or we would all flop about and get nowhere. The difference is this. Depression will lift on its own with support most likely from friends and family. Clinical conditions of depression need more attention and more support and take forever to sort, or a long time to come to terms with, because it does not go away, ever. It is a bloody nuisance and blight. At the same time, we live with it and make the most of what is, with acceptance as the key.
Some therapies are helpful to alleviate depression and help people cope. I would be concerned if you get the wrong impression of some therapy, especially the talking type. Counselling can be extremely helpful and very beneficial in the right context, with highly trained professionals with sufficient experience of life to make a difference.
There are very few highly trained professionals out there with sufficient life experience and adequate knowledge of clinical disorders. There are not many psychiatrists for the number of patients, or really experienced counsellors about who really know their stuff for the number of patients. I say this with no slur on anyone who is in this field particularly, its just a fact of life, there are few available and many in need of help and support.
And there is another problem, the proliferation of cognitive behavioural therapeutic process to cover all ills of all people. It is dangerous to use cognitive behavioural therapy as a catch all process for all people. And worse it is the new fad and easily accessible and delivered by people looking for a quick fix to a big problem. It can cause more harm than good in the wrong hands with inappropriate use and damage to people. A personal view of mine and I guess unpopular with those in training or practice as counsellors. Tough.
Just my thoughts in these early hours, and I’m still knackered. So silent out there, just a thrum of a city, not yet awake this Wednesday morning, just me it feels like right now and that’s as ok as it can be...
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