August 29 2012 | AA 12 Steps In Action | Step 8 Amends And Willing Alcoholics Anonymous Today's AA daily reflection: "since there are no rules in AA, I choose anonymity…" Anonymity is double-edged, it opens up the door to be open, honest and willing to change by providing safe sanctuary to get on the path of sobriety and stay on it. Within fellowship and from prying eyes we find out how to be truthful and live in unity, being of service to each other and live recovery one day at a time. The other edge to anonymity can be utilised by those with dark purposes, to control and develop fear and impose a rule of law which does not exist… The real violators are those who suggest steps and traditions can be violated as if they are rules...
Video For Today:
In recent times, again I don't know why people assume they have a right to tell others what to do within the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. So it is timely, that in the daily reflections it points out very clearly that there are no rules in AA. There are no leaders, because simply leaders can hang onto power rather than the principle of service. We don't elect trusted servants forever, and I don't want a trusted servant behaving like a leader telling me what to do. Underpinning the whole of the fellowship programme is the simple straightforward understanding that a person sober can make better choices about how they live their lives today, and the humility to keep on learning life by making mistakes every single day until we stop trudging the road of life…
All people are free to follow their beliefs and their personal moral code, some conservative in their values and some are liberal in their values. And most people given the opportunity look to make the best choices for themselves and those around them, to love the people to be loved back and live a useful life. The fellowship of AA came about to help people get a life back and not have it controlled or undermined. There is but one ultimate authority and it's not you and it is certainly not me! So as a supporter of a newcomer, if you tell them what to do and if you tell them that you cannot help them if they won't thoroughly follow your instructions even though you might call them suggestions, you make yourself a prisoner as much as you make them your prisoner, it is the horror of codependence and that is not love…
Inner joy and peace comes from the freedom to be oneself. There may be some satisfaction in controlling others under the auspices of anonymity, but if someone is controlling you, you are not free and anyone suggesting damnation as a result of not thoroughly following your path as you see it, can be offering a return to hell and uncertainty and a shorter life. There is freedom in unity, service and recovery...
Social media and recovery: social media gives every single person an opportunity to make connections to keep on the path of recovery from addiction to anything. The addiction can be people, places and substances. Social media and networking provides support to people who feel stuck wherever they may be. The connection to a wider number of people in recovery has helped me when I could not get out to meetings, develop friendships which are based on recovery, developed into firm friendships and founded in the philosophy of fellowship, living and practising the principles of the twelve steps and twelve traditions and as they say in the jargon, "without let or hindrance" which simply means without impediment...
Truth is the spiritual foundation of life. And I tend to agree with what Gandhi said, "God is truth and God is love."
AA Daily Reflections ~ "I choose anonymity... We are sure that humility, expressed by anonymity, is the greatest safeguard that Alcoholics Anonymous can ever have. [12 & 12]
Since there are no rules in A.A., I place myself where I want to be, and so I choose anonymity. I want my God to use me, humbly, as one of His tools in this program. Sacrifice is the art of giving of myself freely, allowing humility to replace my ego. With sobriety, I suppress that urge to cry out to the world, “I am a member of A.A.” and I experience inner joy and peace. I let people see the changes in me and hope they will ask what happened to me. I place the principles of spirituality ahead of judging, fault-finding, and criticism. I want love and caring in my group, so I can grow."
DonInLondon 2005 2011
Bank Holiday Monday, less meetings of fellowship today as some venues for meetings are closed. Good news, any meeting close to home is likely to be full of people I know, a chance to say hello and catch up just for today…
And lots of people are coming back from holidays as August comes to an end. Some mad as hatters, some so chilled out they are horizontal. Some angry and resentful, mostly serene as the meetings start, preamble sharing and a prayer to truth, love and wisdom for today…
August 2008 ~ 2010
"Since there are no rules in A.A."
Truth, love and wisdom learned, key to living openly, honestly and willing to face the consequences of who I am today. Sober life has taught me to accept the consequences of not only my attitudes and behaviour but those of others too. No secrets to keep me or you deluded or stuck, one day at a time...
Anonymity in fellowship offers confidentiality. Anonymity to find the truth of who I am and can be a day at a time. Truth is my spiritual compass, truth the foundation of spiritual living... The horrible truth of addiction back then locked me in secrecy, truth today liberates, not just me, but everyone who knows me today...
August 29th 2006
Bank Holiday Blues
Or just another day? I don’t know myself. My Bank Holiday Monday as usual was as long as any other day. Having been up most of the night, my world was well advanced when I checked and found that Sainsbury’s opened at 9:00AM, meaning I could go get a lettuce early for salad with some chicken for my dinner later. In the olden days supermarkets were only open from 11:00AM. So I am out of touch with where law and shop opening have gone. And in the really olden days, no shops were open on holidays, and pubs had restrictions on their hours.
The world is definitely a 24/7 regime these days and we all seem able to make use of it as it expands to utilise everything to the optimum. We seem driven to fill every waking second, its as if we are driven to make every moment count, needing and wanting. We need to do this, we want to do that. No space to take stock and reaction goes as responses and considerations leave us in a backwater. Jumping on the next bandwagon before we are left behind. We all seem to be playing catch up in a spinning environment.
Our esteem and confidence seems to be set by our constant ability to be flexible and jump, how high and how long and wherever the next fad and fashion may be. There is little consolidation, little time to appraise the right path, the right way. We seem to be lemmings, or like mice in a wheel, driven and driven again with relentless movement somewhere and yet directionless to our true purpose.
What a world in recovery for me! Physically, I have to consolidate me as often as seems necessary, to find the balance which is so elusive so often. Just keeping in balance and following a regime to ensure my physical being is in order requires extra monitoring with tests for or five times a day to check blood sugars, food intake and amount of energy to use to get that balance. And continue to shed weight as diet and exercise are calibrated.
Emotionally, it’s the usual ups and downs. I was talking with a fellow last night about their depression. He as old as me and a long term sufferer, we know how depression works for us and we are not dissimilar. And we do need ask ourselves those questions of how am I feeling, why and what can I do? This we do as we go along, for forgetting to ask those questions we can find our mood altering dramatically, going up then down, then crashing through to the all too familiar depths where its almost impossible to move and do anything at all. He like me uses meetings of the fellowship to keep the worst of depression at bay. We don’t stop the depression, its still there but we cope better by attending meetings and keeping in company, especially when we don’t want company, we just need it to keep faith and in touch with being human at all.
And spiritually, well as I mentioned in my last post here, Sunday evening was great as was the morning meeting. Human spirit, it needs to be sustained, and through the friendship of others most of us get by, yet fail to develop our good conscience as we might wish, the rush at life stops us as we go helter-skelter for the next challenge with little learning from the one just achieved. Our spiritual development is lacking in our modern world. Not because we don’t want it, but because the world does not recognise its importance or gets it so rigid in religiosity, large swathes of us fail to make our connection with our humanity and any spiritual infusion gets lost in embarrassment and cult type worries. Our spiritual insides are most often starved as the world is engaged in the next best thing and forgets the best thing we have, ourselves and our good conscience.
What a Dog’s Breakfast!
And yes it is just like that sometimes. Last night, the meeting was packed out with usual suspects and more. As Bank holidays mean some venues are shut, my usual meeting was packed with more than the usual number. And it was a good meeting but hardly intimate and hardly sustaining as it was disingenuous, lacked some of the sincerity you get as a consequence of familiarity with so many ‘foreign bodies’ about. Anyway there were things I saw going on, which indeed are none of my business and had to put them out of my mind. Smiles here it is easy to move to be judgmental and wonder how on earth some things happen, but they do, we are humans after all.
At this meeting there is a vacancy for tea maker, a good and although sometimes a difficult position to fill, its one which affords much in connection and regularity for the post holder. At the moment there is little interest in taking it up, so I offered to fill in and help. Then found there are issues I was unaware of surrounding the post of tea person, which have nothing to do with me, more to do with other things. And now I find I have had to put the brakes on my offer of help beyond one meeting, or by default will end up being the tea maker. And I’ve done it before, so it would be unfair to become the tea maker by default, indeed it would be easy to construe my offer of help so many ways, I now wish I had been less helpful and never offered in the first place.
But I will help out for the next one. And then find another post elsewhere, service is after all integral to our fellowship and doing some service, like tea making, greeting people, helping with literature etc, there are plenty of vacancies around which I would be pleased to do, as long as the vacancy is well advertised and others who are keen to be more involved get their chance to bid for a position. Doing things by default just gets up people’s noses and makes them think something goes on behind the scenes, and I want none of that.
So yesterday was a dog’s breakfast sort of day, with tempers a little frayed around the edges and I felt that dislocation, and realised it truly was their business and not mine. My world needs to be what it is without others and their turbulence making it more difficult.
All of Sunday it seems the fog in my Noggin was less than usual. Even with fatigue so ingrained and all that jazz, insomnia and definite disruption that involves, my thinking and clarity of listening had been really good. Hearing what is said and shared is so much more powerful when we can really listen and let things sink in.
Listening, we often listen just for what we want to hear, and don’t hear anything else. We crave familiarity and can miss so much. We need to listen more carefully, it’s a human thing. Humans like me only hear what suits us, and that’s just a small part of the speaking we encounter. Its no wonder we humans get into conflict. We are crap at listening generally.
Anyways, Sunday was great. And the evening meeting was full, and it was unusual being a holiday, there is no rhyme or reason why it might be well attended. Anyway our ‘chair’, our speaker, they had a lot to say, and for anonymity I relate my take on what was said as it applied to me and not them.
Its an angry world
In my upbringing, which I feel was as good as it could be under the circumstances, I learned many ways to feel things to the good. And there were many things I never learned to express, and one emotion in particular was anger.
We are allowed to be human you would think. We are to an extent. Yet while we have every element of human in us, our emotions are expressed as we are taught. I was taught to be kind and loving. I often saw anger and frustration so violently expressed I feared it totally and never knew myself how to express my anger. I suppressed anger as often as I could and it burned in me, simmering a long time.
Fear, I guess of some expression of anger, became second nature to me. But we need to remind ourselves we come equipped with every emotion to be developed and utilised in its right place at the right time. And like so many others we either get to develop our full range of emotions or for reasons of culture or family or tradition we suppress some emotions and have them boiling inside where they work on us and not outside where they would have served us to the right degree.
We also encounter unbridled anger from others. Just because we look a certain way, happen to be male or female, happen to have an orientation to life others hate, or have a colour which others don’t like. We get some anger before we even speak and make ourselves open to anger for who we really are. Those things are beyond our control. And we deal as best we can.
But our inside emotions, we might be well served to understand we have in us all that nature gives. Nature can make us loving, nature can make us brutal. How we are taught helps us understand the expression and appropriateness of our feelings, or fails.
Anger is one thing I never learned very well. And my response to others anger was to give in most likely, so others got their way. Or anger so violent I would walk away from it. And other’s anger I never realised was there, unaware I angered many by my normal behaviour of being me. So it is complicated to work it all out if we keep trying to second guess others all the time.
But what was related and shared help me see, that truly we need really only sort ourselves out in this enterprise of living. Making sure we can deal with our own emotions first and foremost. And how we respond to the world, our way of expression and being heard.
Anger in my sober world
I never realised just how angry I was until I put down the drink. So many violent and torrid situations I had gone through and reacted to them and not dealt with the consequences.
And now, when someone, something makes me feel anger, its normally all about the impact the situation has on me. It makes me feel awful and its unjustified and unfair. And I need express it appropriately.
But on Sunday as the meeting developed it was obvious a lot of us have deep and horrid thoughts connected to anger, which have built up over years, where life has dealt some very raw deals and people have suffered much, or conversely dealt out too much on the back of anger they had learned.
We humans are capable of anything
It was a lesson. Indeed from the most meek and mild, to the obvious thug we might encounter, we all have capacity to be as nature made us, to love, to hate. And when it comes to anger, anyone can react out of fear and do their worst in a split second. In the blink of an eye it seemed, inside we could go from calm to murderous in our thoughts.
And it’s a shock in a world with sobriety and nothing to filter these feelings. We need to understand our nature and not react on it, or the consequences I have heard are as bad as can be. And these last few weeks my feelings of anger have been so sorely tested, not just by events, but because I feel so much from my suppression, the anger is not justified to the event. Its all out of proportion and all skewed so deep, it makes me feel frightened as to what I might do.
All this stuff came out from so many and me, and our anger understood and where it has come from helps me and others realise what needs to be done. We need take a breath and respond and wait a few moments, check ourselves out and wonder why this small anger grew so large we feel out of control.
How this relates to esteem in particular
I mentioned ages ago, the road rage incident, where a chap had been out with the family on an outing in the car and he was subjected to the road rage of another. And he too had been looped into the whole thing and ended up so enraged, he scared himself and his family.
And this chap had come back after years to the fellowship to work on his angry feelings and his reactions. And it seems we too in the fellowship share out our anger, and express our fears and overblown notions that we were the real cause of all that went on.
Our esteem and our confidence was completely undermined by our inability to express what was really going on. We got everything out of proportion so easily, and coming to meetings to put things in perspective helps get our response to our anger and expression done in the right measure and place. And often when we got angry it bubbled up much history inside us than ever the incident needed or justified.
And it’s the same whether in recovery or just an ordinary person, our anger is often so deep when it comes out we don’t just react to the moment but add everything on top. So reactions are bad news and responses are more measured when we know what’s going on.
Getting to know ourselves
Yes we are! We are getting to know ourselves so much more. We understand and accept where anger has taken us, either to hide or to fight to alarming degrees. And we know how better it is to express things like anger to their rightful measure, and not more and not at all.
Well is it really so much a revelation? That my feelings of late were so out of proportion I felt so wounded? Not really now. And my reactions to hide were my normal, as to try and respond was never going to work. If I had acted on my initial feeling, goodness knows what I might have done, something I would never ever be proud of or admire in anyone for sure.
So I learned all over again. How did I feel about things just recently? So angry I could not function. But I asked myself the questions, and so acknowledged my anger. Why? Because I was being judged and all that happened was based on misinformation. What did I do? I shared my truth, and hoped it was the truth. Shared my upset and tried to see what could be done. Accepted I could not do anything other than go with the process of being judged and assessed. Took my feelings and my really out of balance feelings to meetings and expressed over and over what was going on in head. Until the power of the upset got into better proportions so I could function again.
And I know its not over yet, for things are still up in the air. And I know I have to deal with reality. And the reality is a lot of what is happening is out of my hands. I need to accept the world as it is, and also be open to changing and expressing my feelings as they are and where they do no harm to me or to others just doing their job. And just darn well get on with living.
So I am finding expression, and I am dealing with the reality, reality is not always fair or to my way of thinking, and that’s ok, it is just the way it is. So ya boo and it sucks, and hooray, its out of my system to much of my surprise.
What I realise is life is just what it is and I can deal with being the usually depressed miserable git I am, and also work on being a sociable miserable git when needed.
The Brave face we wear
Finally, when I was chatting last night to the other chap with depression, we both noted how often we look ok. We do put on a brave face, a poker face.
We don’t often express our feelings so deep they near break us every day. And the why? We don’t want you to know how miserable we really are, or be seen so gloomy nobody will engage or want to know us. And if we look ok you won’t dig too deep and find our pain, in case we unravel in front of you. Because if we did come unstuck out there in the public world, however would we put ourselves back together or be able to function with you knowing the truth?
Answer, if we were more open more often, we would clear out our reserves, and get over the crap accumulated inside a lot quicker. Fortunately my fellows and me do this clearing away of old rubbish all the time so it does not build up anymore or as much as it used to. But there is still a lot of rubbish dumped inside still and it’s a daily chore to throw it out before it stinks up our life again.
And Sunday was an excellent reminder in why recovery and the fellowship are so helpful to me and my esteem. Knowing and understanding our part in living well, its helping us find balance each day, a day at a time. And life never stops, it will always be 24/7, and we need our safe place to off load our reactions to living, so we respond well to life..!
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