August 7 2012 | AA 12 Steps In Action | Step 8 Amends And Willing Alcoholics Anonymous Today's AA daily reflection: "a design for living…" The old design for living created by society and everyone around me was, "work hard and play hard…" I worked hard to complete my education and played hard as well, wine women and song for me, and no doubt wine men and song for the girls around me. It only took 35 years to break me down, start again and recover with a new freedom one day at a time…
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The suggestion in the daily reflections, "a design for living" which I wholeheartedly agree with. Each person can learn and live a new life free of the desire to drink again. The twelve steps and traditions suggest as an individual, we can develop and be open, honest and willing one day at a time. And as a fellowship we develop unity, service and recovery. We are not enslaved by the principles, we are free to do what is right and make free choices based on reality today…
Freedom to be ourselves in our new design for living, means we really do understand the serenity prayer and its usefulness in any situation and at any given moment, serenity by understanding what we can do and what we cannot do and continually learning the wisdom of life! Learning the wisdom of life is wonderful some of time, horrible some of the time and sometimes its blinking indifferent, until I remember that sober anything is possible based on "reality" in the next twenty-four hours…
Emotional and spiritual living is my new design, and the design, the twelve steps and traditions offer new knowledge where emotionally I know where I stand, I know my feelings in the moment of now. And most of the time I can cope with my real feelings and that means every feeling including natural anger and resentments as they occur. In the moment I'm grateful to have every feeling because in the moment I'm coping and not overwhelming myself with history or the future…
Olympics! Even the commentators are looking the new angles to describe how the Olympics and the Olympians are doing. Journalists are rushed in to talk about psychological and emotional management of the competitors. And particularly they are concentrating on the "what if" questions around failure… How on Earth can anyone who is an Olympian see themselves as failures? Only if the expectations being raised are resentments under construction… We sober people know this so well…
AA Daily Reflections ~ "A design for living": August 7 We in our turn, sought the same escape with all the desperation of drowning men. What seemed at first a flimsy reed, has proved to be the loving and powerful hand of God. A new life has been given us or, if you prefer, “a design for living” that really works. [AA big book]
I try each day to raise my heart and hands in thanks to God for showing me a “design for living” that really works through our beautiful Fellowship. But what, exactly, is this “design for living” that “really works”? For me, it is the practice of the Twelve Steps to the best of my ability, the continued awareness of a God who loves me unconditionally, and the hope that, in each new day, there is a purpose for my being. I am truly, truly blessed in the Fellowship."
DonInLondon 2005 2011
“It’s all about me!” I never thought it was. Ignorance: followed by denial and drink. Driven to consume back then in the day. Now is different, humility to learn, share experience strength and hope, and listen always to the wisdom of my fellows…
And of course we need determine the wisdom when listening. No one is perfect, and there are no perfect solutions, simply progress, what may seem wisdom can be opinion and dogma, doctrine and expressions of the selective truth…
The psychic change in steps 6 & 7 ... from extremes of fear, brave facing and brittle ego we found in step six, to a balance in faith, courage and confidence in step seven. It was suggested to me "I let go and let God." As God works through people, not just me, I ask for help in fellowship or elsewhere. My faith is not blind it's all around me today...
Publish August 7 2007
DonInLondon - ‘Day In the Life’ Developing Our right Size
Much Ado About God - Monday Steps
Indeed seems like I have been mentioning God a lot. For me in my life and the way the world works, its gratifying to know people find their faith, their beliefs and make it all part of life and living as we can in each and every day.
Being fairly neutral about God one way or another for myself, means I need respect always any and everyone’s right to belief and to live to their values and principles. In essence most world religions and believers live a full, and very straightforward life and find God works. And why not? I see no reason to interfere or judge what I don’t understand. Ways of living generally to good conscience, with or without a creator, included or excluded is not my issue.
My issue is accepting life on life’s terms, living in harmony and following a spiritual path which is about now and truth.
When I read step three and the inclusion of a higher power, I was quite disturbed on first reading as it offers a challenge which can be erroneous. And only in context do I see it’s a power greater than me, or me just right sized which is the issue. And the other part of this long theological debate can be useful to keep us sober long enough to make up our minds one way or another, or as I prefer keep an open mind. And of course the debate on god means there is one, in our heads, so it has been for as long as mankind has looked to the heavens and the stars.
Theology has had to cope with science, a planet which is more a sphere than a flat land. That alchemy and witchcraft are all part of our civilisation through centuries. That Gods have yet to be seen and challenged, and if anyone has suggested a connection or part of Gods family, they generally ended up either crucified or locked up.
Even prophets have had a particularly hard time over the eons. So I make no case either way, except we are best to keep an open mind and some of us may assess the risk either way, and realise there is no point in the end.
What matters is now..
If we follow and have an open mind, we can let in the world and see it as is. And this can lead any way to whatever belief we choose. Or actually we learn through osmosis and become comfortable in knowing there are powers greater than us, we are best living with our human size and our spiritual truths as we learn. Reality offers the best experience and wisdom is developed through time.
When I look outwards at the Universe, its beyond comprehension, infinite, with more in it than we can ever know in our short lifetime. The truth of the Universe may well be discovered some day, most likely a long time from now and not in my lifetime.
Courage and faith are our human qualities which aid survival as we learn life. We are still impacted by nature and genetics, and what others do, those who lead us in our endeavours as societies in transition. And we also take a lead in our own beliefs as we learn and experience our lives.
So I am hard pressed tonight to feel anything but ok with the universe right now. And I am grateful for every explanation which works as time goes by. I will leave the door firmly open, and recognise that some things I have learned are learned not because of me, but because of where we are today and the shared wisdom of civilisations, our foundations and living over centuries.
We need keep our eyes open and living as well as we may with support and help and in good conscience.
Is my spiritual base, where we open ourselves to truth and experience as each moment is lived. Ephemeral we are, as we change every moment. We need not stay the same or keep doing life as if it’s a sentence of living to our death.
To the good is all I suggest. And beyond is a personal journey.
As often I feel the meditation or prayer to follow
With or without God and in good conscience
‘Grant me the Serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the Things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference’
August 7th 2006 [same time last year]
Strange to find my fellows in gloomy frames of mind. Our early morning gathering seemed a little circumspect. I had been up for hours as is usual for me. I don’t sleep that much at the moment and insomnia sits with ease in my head. I promised myself some time back with changes in my overall regime of living to accept these changes as just part of my transition from one way of trying to manage my particular ailments to another. And the result, overall is good, except for insomnia. Its just the way things are for now and I don’t get worried unduly, I just get tired!
Fear is always with us I feel, its necessary, it keeps us on our toes and alert to dangers we may face or have to contend with all the time. And for some reason fear seemed to be in the minds of a lot of my fellows in the early morning group. And we kicked off with a "chair" from one fellow with much on their mind. The fear of things to do with business matters, that came first, how to deal with family and kids growing and the dangers there, the fear of relapse and turning back to addiction. And also the fear of failure and becoming a workaholic to avoid the failure associated with having nothing material. All legitimate fears, but not relative and no sizing to the relative dangers. All fears big and nothing to differentiate the risks overall. The tendency seemed to be to "catastrophise" fear so its burden overwhelmed. Now that really is a fearful situation. There is no catastrophise in the dictionary I notice, what it means is, to make everything a catastrophe, an absolute failure, often in humiliating or embarrassing circumstances. This might also lead to death scenarios common in our fellowship where the loss of sobriety leads to untimely endings. And so we are choked with fears imagined so overwhelming we cannot act at all.
And then others chimed in to offer their own particular outlook, from illness and undiagnosed conditions and partly diagnosed conditions where the fear of changes leave some of our fellows with a knowing their disablement will undermine their quality of living. Fear seems to grip in so many ways, and then more about relationships on the rocks. And so on, we had a grip of fear, not palpable, but enough to make everyone see there is much to fear when we get things so big in our heads we cannot break things down to manageable chunks and make changes and adjustments to our living. What we fear most is still a loss of control, we are not God and in charge, where we don’t call the shots and make our lives the way we will them. As we soon discover our notions of recovery are tested to their very limits as fear grips and undermines peace and tranquillity.
I sat there with much to say and really no chance to say it. How so? Well this particular meeting of fellows is a strong a tight knit core. The tight knit core of this group often keep the sharing to their nearest and dearest fellow members of the group. So although I am a fellow in a public meeting of the fellowship, I could see a round robin of speeches from old and well known faces who most often get to speak as our "chair" chooses who will speak. Its something that used to irritate me, it doesn’t anymore. As always these days when I realise that there will be a sharing by just the select few, I put my hand up to get picked to speak and don’t get concerned when I don’t get picked, I sort of just do it without looking to the picker and see if I am mistaken or get nudged to speak. In this meeting I don’t. But I did feel the need to speak to a couple of people after the meeting to allay their fears of some things medical and what it means for me, a person who has some experience strength and hope to share about precisely those medical fears as they come along. And why?
Well because I have had some medical scares along the way and have ongoing medical conditions. I don’t shout or complain too loudly about my medical conditions. For the record they fall into three categories. First I am in recovery from addiction and have been sober for some time, measured now in years. Second, I have clinical depression, an ongoing medical condition which has been around for most my adult life according to professional experts, and is now treated. And third, the one which makes life even more haphazard is Type 1 diabetes.
It was apt I feel that fear came up this morning, for in the early hours I had been overwhelmed and nearly rendered incapable by what is known as a "hypo", where my blood sugar levels went down to 2 when I took a reading. At 2, its really serious, and I needed to treat my situation quickly and then recover my senses. And this I did on my own at around 3:00 am. And that was that really. But I know from my years of fearful experience just how fear feels when not in control. And while my "hypo" was a nasty reminder just how easy things can go quite wrong for me, it did not lead to a real catastrophe. I guess the thing for me is, I don’t fear the actual event of a "hypo", maybe I just realise it could be a quick end, as living on my own and without back up, if I get things wrong, then it is my end. And no one would know until I am found.
As to my fears on this score, well I guess based on what happened in the early hours, I did what I could as efficiently as possible, and that was the end of it. I don’t know if I realise how dangerous my situation is when this happens, all I know is I can do my best to make sure I catch the event in time and respond. I know without back up there is a strong chance that I might just expire. Does this mean it would be catastrophic? Well I guess it is for me. And there is no way to make a mistake and maybe live to tell the tale. it’s a done deal.
Now where is the fear in me? I did ponder on this for a while, and wondered what I might read into my situation, and then felt there was not much mileage in doing anything but deal with things as they occur. For me the nightmare used to be fear of death. Well to be truthful, I don’t fear death, just the way it might happen, for indeed I do fear pain like anyone else. But I realise from having a "hypo", it would not be so bad, as its quite quick, and just completely out of my hands if things go untreated. And as to the fears and desire to live, well maybe I am circumspect about this too. Certainly my death would be untimely, but I don’t know that anyone’s is actually timely. I guess there are those around me who might feel it was avoidable if I had back up, but I don’t and cannot get any. So there we are, its just that way. And I do not fear my situation.
So as the meeting progressed and I was not picked to speak, I stopped raising my hand and felt I might approach those worried afterwards. And the meeting remained old timers gassing on about their pet fears and worries. I don’t mind actually, it made me realise I had got closer to my own programme of living and have overcome a lot of fears I used to have.
And afterwards I saw a couple of the worried and not yet treated. And I explained how I manage what I can of my conditions. And they were surprised I think to find out the extent of my conditions. I did not tell the grim truth of some elements, nor here for now, they are too many and the worst of telling is where I lead now.
The awful nature of disability. Its not always the condition we fear, its actually the fear of how we live on with disability to start with. And funny but true, we do adapt. What I realised, and it comes as a surprise for me, is telling others I have some things wrong at all!
I have become used to my various ailments and have made many adjustments in recent years. I had not realised until now, just how many adjustments I make on a daily basis. And another element which I had not really considered until I put my hand up to speak was actually telling others of my disabilities.
I suddenly felt like a pretender wishing to share there are some things wrong with me. And actually I don’t look ill at all. And I guess because others have not noticed anything I wondered if they might react differently if I told them the extent of what I have to contend with, or worse they just might think I am complaining. And actually I am not complaining about the things which have gone wrong. I just felt that pang of being seen as less than complete all of a sudden.
I did speak to my fellows with worries and it turned out well as it happened, but I had a nagging doubt in my mind about my motives for not sharing more often and completely how life is for me.
So later I went to another meeting and when sharing opened after the chairperson spoke I said I am Don, and thank you for the opportunity to share…. Funnily enough the fear issue had come up again. And I felt able to make a frank confession of all ailments and what I do to keep things in balance, using our fellowship programme. And indeed it is the fellowship programme which stops me going mad, and getting fearful. Having shared, and after the main meeting was over, one person came over and said how useful it had been to hear what had been said. It was hearing the chairperson and others including me, which helped put everything in context for them. It helped them chop their fears to their right size, and so not become overwhelmed to the extent that everything became a catastrophe. And I learned a lesson, that I do need to share what is happening for me, the good and the bad, and what I do to keep well, and it gives others hope.
I had not really got to grips with this fact, that in sharing what I deal with because I have no choice if I wish to live, I might indeed provide a framework for others so afflicted or facing tougher ways of being alive. I had thought, with the time when I had been diagnosed and shared back then, well I had thought that was enough of sharing the pain of finding out. It had been a long time since I had made a public comment on things about me and diseases other than being vague and maybe people were uninterested. Anyway, I always share something if I feel the need and this might have been the appropriate time.
With a "hypo" so close and the thing of fear so open and obvious I just wanted to share it was not so bad to have things wrong which can be dealt with as best we can.
I was surprised by the fear I had, it was sharing the illnesses at all. And I am still wondering if my silence has been about how others might view me, as less than just an ordinary person. But I don’t know, and reconcile my outlook to not bothering people with things they cannot change. And oddly its in our serenity outlook:
"grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to changes the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference"
So now that I look at this thing of fear, I only shared my ailments because it seemed appropriate. And still there is a nagging doubt about my diminished capacities. Indeed in some ways I am diminished, at the same time, I don’t feel that way inside, and am willing to try just living and getting on with life as it is. My reality accepted I suppose.
All I can do is to resolve to share just enough and often when it seems appropriate or I am worried I guess, so others know what ails me. Just enough and not more. Or I become a broken record and boring or just seem to be playing on disability, or I don’t know. But there is no fear in that and will check it out with a mentor I have to see what they think and feel about it.
So where am I with fear of living? Funny and true, I am willing, which means I am prepared to try anything and be involved as I can to my capacity. Its all I need do and desire. And see what happens next…
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