August 28 2012 | AA 12 Steps In Action | Step 8 Amends And Willing Alcoholics Anonymous Today's AA daily reflection: "expression lightens the burden…" Through sharing, experience strength and hope we let a little bit of our history out every time. Just like breathing, we take in fresh air and let go the detritus of life. Tuesday a working day after the bank holiday weekend. Notting Hill Carnival, impressive in so many ways, good, bad and ugly. Tuesday just starting, feels a little flat after the pounding…
Video For Today:
Expressing ourselves, and I need to remind myself after a weekend of highs and lows, step one, if I try to manage my feelings life will get unmanageable. If I know what my feelings are, for example, HALT: hungry angry lonely tired, I can understand my thinking and then I can manage my choices and actions to a degree today. Emotional, knowing my feelings and the impact they will have on my actions today…
In order to understand our feelings we need to know what they are. Under the influence of alcohol, much of my emotional life was suppressed or a elevated but nothing real in between, and except a lot of thinking and doing and hoping that by taking action I would be able to find a better day tomorrow. There is the future obviously, and we may have long-term goals, and at the same time we need to look after ourselves and live life real today and then most likely, tomorrow will take care of itself…
Too much thinking and not enough action? I don't know if there is a formula between thinking and doing, but if there is no action, thinking has no impact on what we are up to on a daily basis. Learning the fellowship is all about emotional and spiritual "being" has been very helpful. I never knew how rich the emotional life would be until I was able to open up and express my feelings about real life and how to cope with it. People talk of intellectualising, actually all it means is stuck in thinking mode and probably trying to rule the world around us, the more I tried to control the more I was stuck in thinking and doing to preserve rather than innovate and be myself. These days going with the flow and understanding the universe just a little bit better one day at a time…
Who am I today? May seem like a bit of a silly question, but who really answers? And if we were to ask ourselves who we are today and every day, where would we be? Maybe as part of my daily meditation, on the bus, standing still for a moment close to the end of the evening, the last few moments before sleep in bed, simply just knowing if I am hungry, angry, lonely or tired helps. If I have had joy today, or sadness today or a new experience today, I have changed from when I woke up this morning and I am different one day at a time… Progress is key and not perfection…
AA Daily Reflections ~ "Lightening the burden... Showing others who suffer how we were given help is the very thing which makes life seem so worth while to us now. . . . the dark past is . . . the key to life and happiness for others. [big book]
Since I have been sober, I have been healed of many pains: deceiving my partner, deserting my best friend, and spoiling my mother’s hopes for my life. In each case someone in the program told me of a similar problem, and I was able to share what happened to me. When my story was told, both of us got up with lighter hearts."
DonInLondon 2005 2011
Speaking for myself! In fellowship I may speak for myself, never speak for you. Experience strength and hope is particular to each of us. And we are non-professional in a fellowship based on love not science. We may be learning the art of life together, each with our own particular outlook. Each and everyone a teacher in what works or does not work today. Can do, change me, cannot do change you, the wisdom to cherish always...
A kind word, a handshake and "how are you doing?" We never know what the response may be. We may try help and not be worried if we are not welcome. Fear and isolation are so frequent, and then we make a difference as another shares their story to us today. Simply listening to good news or bad news open the door, offers inclusion on a dark night when loneliness grips and bites deep in the soul...
August 2008 ~ 2010
Light of heart... when we wake up each knowing we are never alone, that we can share our good news and our hard news and be supported and challenged helpfully, a heavy heart is lightened. Conscious contact with good conscience, a broader view, our life choices become more open and realistic today
How am I feeling, why and what to do... I feel good, because I am not alone, and I can share openly, honestly and be willing to change. I can cover my needs today, be free of wants, know desires are good and be open to all possibilities. Good choices, possibilities, options, a No is as good as Yes.
August 28th 2006
~ The Gift ~ restored to sanity, just daily
Bank holidays, for many years I always seemed to work Bank holidays, I worked in industries where seven day a week operations was just the way it was, no closure, no days off. So it is odd for me when some of the world are enjoying a Bank holiday three day weekend to treat it as any other weekend, in fact any other set of days in a row. As I mentioned there no days off in recovery…
Its been raining these last few early hours of Bank holiday Monday morning, and its chilly. I’ve been mulling over the meetings from yesterday. Both were excellent for me.
Me and my writing
I feel its been good to write, and as you know I can write. I do this all the time, so its not as if a couple of weeks ago I started writing all of a sudden. It has been something I’ve been doing off and on for years. And sometime back I wanted to learn how to make a web page and put my thoughts out there on the web.
We start something and then it grows. It all started because I needed to have an email address. I met someone, she was just lovely and wanted to keep in touch and signed up for a free account on msn oh and on some others too over the years all now defunct. And they had all sorts of extras to add in like make a web page, messenger, so I could keep in touch and things called chat rooms. Chat rooms are generally gone these days as we know, they seemed like a good idea and then got hijacked by less well meaning types. Everything gets exploited. Anyway "she" never got my email, as she let her free account lapse. I smile as I cannot reveal her name, it would not be fair, and the crush I had, it went away as there was no common ground for us and distance was great. Just like life I guess.
Any way I got the bug to write and had always had it. And so I am out there writ large and sometimes people have a look. I think I’ve decided to post here just for a month.
So the posts will end around the 14th of September. I feel a month of writing here on the Beeb is just as much as can be stood by anyone, and then the post no doubt will disappear which will do to share my recovery, or sooner depends how the moderators feel. I don’t know it has much more in it right now or me either. I am hampered in writing about a lot to do with recovery. And some traditions we have in our fellowship. I need be discreet and keep faith with anonymity. Its so vital and important to our fellowship. And recovery is about sharing and helping those who have a desire to stop drinking, not undermine anything connected to our fellowship or break anonymity. So my vagueness remains and this is good. There are other traditions which curtail my inclinations to keep the post going. I am happy for people to know about my story not keen to exploit it though. I am merely me in recovery and that keeps me right sized and not ego driven.
Anyways, after Saturday evening and out for a coffee, I did feel more relaxed. And thought sleep would be longer, but as the last two nights demonstrate, insomnia is persistent and ever present. After writing the last post in the early hours, it was time to get ready and go out for my usual early meeting on Sunday morning, it’s the closest I have ever got to meetings which can be a bit God related and regular.
I have no argument with belief per se, but have not and still remain open on the question of a higher power associated with a deity and anything organised makes me very cautious, my Dad helped me be this way and he was the nearest thing to a deity in my younger days. And he was snuffed out early in his life as I have said, he never made it to recovery and an opportunity to see the world as it really is. So the God connection has always been difficult.
In AA though and its been around about seventy years, the founders were clearly quite religious and weaved God into the fabric of what they saw as recovery. Yet as time has shown there is no need to be religious or a believer in God to be part of AA or indeed get the recovery programme. AA is quite secular in its approach, but a belief in a higher power helps make sense of everything. And quite honestly I have always believed in powers higher than me, more in terms of mankind and humanity as a collective society and community. In the sense of the accumulated wisdom we have about is more than me and will always be so. And a higher power than me? In most things yes, as a deity in the traditional sense, I keep my mind open. At the same time I have always felt powers greater than me exist in wisdom and conscience.
Why am I going on about this? Well in our steps to recovery there is the second step of twelve, It reads as "Came to Believe That a Power Greater Than Ourselves Could Restore Us to Sanity." Now this is where we get a bit controversial and we can become bamboozled by our intellect and our belief systems.
Sunday Morning - The Gift
Anyway this Sunday morning at my usual hang out, we are there and it’s a free choice what we talk about. And someone suggests we talk about Came to believe… that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. This sort of got the vote although there was another topic not dissimilar. Anyway the person who suggests it then shares their feelings and thoughts on the subject.
I could feel half the meeting starting to twitch a bit, and definitely maybe turning off the next bit and probably wishing they might have stayed in bed. As it usually means someone has their pet take on what a higher power is and all that, and the God thing comes up and with all our fellows from all over there is no one strong belief or set pattern. And God usually wins the argument in all these discussions because no one wants to be that controversial about others beliefs and also don’t want to discuss their own views, because we are in England and we are reserved about our beliefs anyway.
But our speaker starts to share and its not really about God, or it sort of is, and not. Anyway its about a higher power. Something greater than we are. And most people will agree, the knowledge and experience in our fellowship is vastly superior than one ex drunk trying to make sense and trying to stay sober on their own. So we have some common ground, AA is like a University for people graduating into sobriety. that’s the good news. And the bad news, or really good news is we never graduate, because its just a day long programme and we never have a day off, or get recovered, we just make sure we don’t chuck in the towel and get spangled all over again.
Then as I was listening, half to what was being said and surveying the members for people I know. Yes I am always curious to see regulars and who is missing, missing people are either on holiday, or it could be worse, but the newcomers I know are here so that’s good. Except one, that’s bad.
So I settle and listen, and the speaker is apologising for woolly thoughts as they had not really been prepared to speak and their coffee fix had not kicked in. They shared about the came to believe in a power greater than themselves, and it was lovely to be restored back to sanity. And in their eyes that was a gift received. A gift…
Hmm, I was curious how this was developing. And so were my fellows. A gift to be restored back to sanity from a power greater than me. Now that I knew was true. I know, and knew I was a straight down the line drunk alcoholic on my way out and had no resources left to get out of my addiction. And my addiction was so complete, it had taken away my will, my spirit, my emotional insides and was proceeding to rot my physical being as well, and my number was up.
Without the fellowship then, I was done for. And so I did and do believe in power greater than me to keep me sober a day at a time. And in this way the second step of AA is "Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy". But we do make things complicated generally and God is part of it for some. The fellowship of all our fellows knows more than me, and so is a higher power and body of knowledge and wisdom is AA. End of? Yes indeedy. For me..
But, we are all argumentative ex drunks with our own opinions. We are all like the Vicki Pollard character in "Little Britain", we all say "Yes, but no, but yes." and our feelings keep shifting and thinking is as mature as the character or when we got used to our drinking habits. So we can all kick off a bit. Anyway we keep working it out like her sometimes and I can see this in me and others. Sorry others..
So this ultimate gift of restored sanity, a day at a time only. Smiles here because our speaker shared how we get so blinking fed up, having then to live without drink or drugs, we forget the gift as soon as we have it.
And then this thing of gifts we get in life took on a whole different feeling as our speaker explained it a bit more fully. Sometimes we don’t like the gift we get and we can be sullen and a bit peeved. But generally in life we do and have so many gifts from nature itself, we might be very thankful for all of them. And to be resentful of the gift of living at all, well there are some if not all of us who would have readily given up living and how things had become before we got our sanity back, a day at a time.
And this touched me actually. Because as our sharer was explaining, when we work out the difference between what we need to live life, and then all the wants we put on top, we forget the basic needs of life make it worth living, and the wants make us unhappy, because we never have enough of them! Flipping true I thought and have done for ages.
So I was starting to feel pretty content. But others were quite provoked by circumstances.
New to sobriety, we are very sensitive and still craving and the world is horrid. Old to sobriety and the world shows us what we need, and our wants have become burdens again, because we want more! Like a good job, a car, a partner, a better life for the effort we have put in to making life good again. And we forget basics are pretty glorious if our attitude is right. And a good holiday, a high definition TV, a better computer, a lover, for my spots to go, for more hair, for a luxury hamper from Harrods! All our wants are burdens, and generally our needs are met.
So we can see the gift of sobriety is a bloody good one to have, for we can cover our needs generally and its our wants that trip us up. Especially if we live round here where wealth is abundant and we are poor. Smiles, I am glad I don’t feel much desire above needs these days, or life would be horrid.
But others like me have other health issues, and some shared their story. That having been in recovery quite long time, we still get ill and other diseases like other ordinary people. So when we have this gift of sobriety, which then means we get ill like ordinary people, the struggle seems so much harder to bear, without resorting back to a drink to take away reality again.
And it is a real issue for me, when I was diagnosed with diabetes, I was wondering if I’d want a drink. Or to drink and let go living. But actually what happened to me was different. I had spent so much time learning recovery from alcohol, that when I was really ill last year and losing my grip, I was relieved to find out it was diabetes, so drink was not really ever on my agenda. In fact it was just wondering how to learn to do injections and measure blood sugar and work out a diet plan which made me worried.
So most were in agreement with the gift of sobriety and more angry with the gift of life offering up more diseases and stuff. And I had to ask myself what I felt about being diabetic, and having clinical depression too. Well yesterday and now, I seem to accept my situation on a daily basis. And don’t get more distressed than the conditions evoke.
I got to share about the gift
Yes I got to share in the Sunday meeting, I had no intention. But for some reason I needed to say I felt that the gift thing was a great topic, because I understood it! And life is a gift, absolutely. And felt the topic was very apt to my situation, because I can look back and be very unhappy to have lost a lot of things, including some of my abilities, mental and physical. But as I said, I still have a heartbeat, and I still breathe, and I can still smell the coffee from Brazil, smiles here. And appreciate beauty, nature, something in the day when depression allows for it. Its all still doable, with certain disabilities which I accept.
Others were happy or not so happy
Some are as happy to be here as me. But some have had the life knocked out again by other things and other ill health. And some had felt that they had been let down by their belief in their higher power. As God is brought back into this discussion, there was some unhelpful and certainly some anger at being singled out for more pain and distress.
Resentment at having struggled back to life only to be pulled down again made for resentful times. And that was enough for some to contemplate drinking again. I can understand the frustration and yet I accept my lot. Simply because I have had extra time added to my life, and truly it was over before recovery.
Anyway overall I really felt that the meeting had made me see the gift of sobriety, a gift beyond my wildest dreams when I faced certain death from my illness. I guess we either get to acceptance or get to resent. And I feel relieved I have got to acceptance so far. But if they had caught me last week when my world imploded and the assessments on my health had been done, I can endorse a feeling of deep resentment and upset which would have made me unreceptive to the idea of the gift of life at all. In fact I shared my words with the speaker and said if they had suggested the notion of gifts to me last week I would have told them where to go.
And also that things change daily, and now I could hear and see the gift of living again, and hear their words, when last week they would have been lost. Our minds, our feelings go through this process, and we get acceptance if we are lucky.
So this notion of coming to believe in a power greater than us, it changes daily, and it changes as we understand living with what we have to contend with. We do make peace if and when we accept our lot.
So my power has never been as great as other higher powers definitely exist, like AA, or the local council, or the NHS, or to an extent government, or all sorts of things, oh and women of course often appear to be higher powers than me, smiles.
But for some they do include their belief in God as the higher power, they can be resentful to he, she or it, which has given them another thing to sort out, or be made really ill over again. And resenting God means often we resent what we are and nature itself. So it’s a big issue for any of us.
Someone had cancer, and was in remission, and more stories of recovery and belief came out as we chatted, and then the hour was up and we all went our separate ways. Some happy, some less than happy, me quite relieved I could see this gift and had come to believe in higher powers than me!
As to God, I need not debate it, I believe in good conscience, that by nature good conscience prevails and develops in humanity. Good conscience, it may seem far away sometimes, it is however, ever present in all of us and restores us to sanity if we are inclined and able.
I went Home and my dogs were definitely barking!
"my dogs are barking" in 1920 speak translates to "my feet arehurting" in 2002 speak"
Its good use slang for some things, it takes the sting off the reality of some things we have to contend with. Which reminds me, I seem to have mislaid my libido of late, I am assured I will find again according to the higher powers at the clinic, but it would be nice to locate it sooner rather than later. I have to smile or I’d be a bit crushed methinks. The good news is the higher powers suggest there are always way to restore that too. For now though sanity will do!
There is more but I feel its already a long missive, so I’ll leave it for now. My evening meeting was very revealing and very cathartic, all about anger we men and women get about life and stuff. It was a human perspective on anger, shared so well by everyone. It was about anger in ordinary life and nothing to do with anger and recovery, as if there is much difference? It would take as much space to write again, another time …
I felt better connected and went home...
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