August 9 2012 | AA 12 Steps In Action | Step 8 Amends And Willing Alcoholics Anonymous Today's AA daily reflection: "amends to all, and forgiving 'them' whoever they may be…" A two way Street of forgiveness, and only one side of the street can we work to keep clean. We can learn to understand and forgive the human condition. We can learn over and over again to forgive ourselves and others no matter what others may be doing. We learn and move on, letting go the vexatious…
Video For Today:
We all have consequences of past actions. Sometimes we have a huge collection of good experiences, most of us have the good bad and ugly experiences of life in no particular quantity or quality until we look at them and how they have impacted on our lives. This is what the steps reveal. When we look at step eight, and begin, we look at all we have done, and we look at a consequence at what other people did to us. Forgiveness is a two way Street we need even if 'others' don't...
Listening to others describe how they did the steps recently, it seems some attempt the twelve step process as some form of examination with a pass or fail. And how many times do they think they have to do the steps, once? Principles of living, that is what the twelve steps are, never completed, always pertinent to what is going on. Thank God, I will never finish the steps nor will I finish the learning of the twelve traditions, they will always work one day at a time if I work them…
What makes me special and different? What makes me and my situation more important than any other human on the planet? When I'm dealing with people, in particular places and needing particular things, my case is not special and different, my case is what it is, based on reality and consequences of my actions and behaviour not only today, but on my past actions, attitudes and behaviour and what people know about me. Am I special and different? Most emphatically no in any moment of now…
Olympians! Team GB more balanced than the leader and prime minister Mr Cameron. Mr Cameron, the man behind the big society, currently keeping us in a double dip recession suggests that we need take a leaf out of the team GB Olympians playbook and their competitive edge. Mr Cameron says team GB are an example to new generations and how to compete in life. Team GB disagree with the man behind the big society, or simply say sport need be fun first before you ever get close to competing or you kill enthusiasm before you even start a new way of living… And every time I see the politicians at the Olympics, I feel the touch of elitism, I feel the touch and taint they bring to the greatest sporting event on Earth today… And I say sporting event, because there are bigger events impacting on every human right now and in the future…
Daily Reflections Step 8 of all persons we had harmed "and became willing to make amends to them all" [12&12]
One of the key words in the Eighth Step is the word all. I am not free to select a few names for the list and to disregard others. It is a list of all persons I have harmed. I can see immediately that this Step entails forgiveness because if I'm not willing to forgive someone, there is little chance I will place his name on the list. Before I placed the first name on my list, I said a little prayer: "I forgive anyone and everyone who has ever harmed me at any time and under any circumstances." It is well for me to contemplate a small, but very significant, two-letter word every time the Lord's Prayer is said. The word is as. I ask, "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us." In this case, as means, "in the same manner." I am asking to be forgiven in the same manner that I forgive others. As I say this portion of the prayer, if I am harboring hatred or resentment, I am inviting more resentment, when I should be calling on the spirit of forgiveness.
DonInLondon 2005 2011
Riots in London. A breakdown in law and order. Anger and resentment, loss of reason and insanity rules. Why? The answers will come in time. Most of us know the answers, and many just cannot accept them. If we do not invest in people, people will likely divest those privileged in a broken society. Weak leadership, process driven, reliant on "the establishment," out of touch and out of sight need a kick up the arse...
I can recall working hard and putting every effort into my work. Driven beyond reason to sustain the unsustainable. Job cuts, sell off and no guarantees of a future. I did what I always did, found another job to start. It looked bigger and better, and turned out to be more of the same. A breakdown, loss of purpose and no identity, I sought oblivion and wanted to end it all. Drink helped me on my way to hell back then...
August 9 2010 ~ Before I go to bed at night, I forgive everyone and everything who has ever harmed me... Much easier after step 9 in our programme and after a while of practicing the steps. But if the resentment still lingers, I say "fuck em" and then pray for them and eventually forgiveness finds its way. Progress not perfect today...
August 9 2010 ~ This matter of honesty everyday... Upon waking, my daily practice, is ask myself how am I feeling, then think why, then what may I do. If I try deny my feelings, I start my day dishonestly. What I do is reflect and meditate, see the big picture, remind myself of steps 1 to 3, serenity prayer. I can do this anytime of day...
Publish August 9 2007
DonInLondon - ‘Day In the Life’ August 8 2007
Live and Breathe - Alcoholics Anonymous!
Last night I was up late and way behind with my writing and my video blog for you tube. We get diverted this way and that as things crop up, like a call last night and a friend seeking advice. Its got to be like this I feel.
And for two nights a gentle regime of getting out and going to meetings. Last night was Kensington, and tonight was Fulham Broadway. So near and yet so different and equally good as different fellowship meetings have special impacts on me.
Get A life!
You might wonder if I actually have a life the way I share in my journal and what is life like outside the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous for me? Actually it seems its all integrated and works in a complimentary way.
Before the AA experience my life was hanging by a thread. I had broken limbs over the years, made poor decisions after a breakdown, found myself unable to work at all. Found myself in hospital too many times. I was as near derelict as any human can be without checking out completely. A sad truth.
My Enthusiasm for Recovery
From the late 1990’s my maladies were profound. A mental breakdown in 1996. I never got my wits back as before, something had broken and splintered. No joy, blackness and rolling depressions over something and nothing. I never found a safe place to be.
A New Millennium - Promise
I broke down completely over the millennium. And then as I could not function at all, the avenues kept drying up. A head full of knowledge and skills and nowhere to go.
Handyman, Bookseller, Doorman, Painter and Decorator, Fixer. Drinker.
Always more drink than was good for me. Then times without and dark depressions without end led me back to drink and wanting it all to end.
Bereavement And Loss
We are poorly equipped for loss. I had some double helpings over and over in the nineties. And nothing seemed to matter as life lost total meaning.
So getting a life today, where I feel life as life is, its something not really ever felt or dealt with as now.
Strangely there seem to be many people experiencing bereavement and loss.
And as we share and swap our experiences, we learn from each other. Sometimes it seems that AA is for survivors of our own wreckage and then we go on to help each other and others outside fellowship with what we know over and over.
We all seem to develop our ways to mend our broken hearts as life takes away those we may love beyond life itself. This dangerous and hopeless state where we would prefer to be dead than go on to live more.
Breaking and Broken
The truth as we get on, that we meet and fall in love and we cannot ever replace love of one with another. What we learn is love in the present need be found if we wish it so. Or maybe like me, open to love and yet careful to be clear in my own identity. And still I feel sometimes it’s the fear of causing others hurt in case what I feel is somehow flawed.
Level and Equal
On any particular day we may feel level and equal to life and everyone, as we are there then the world does not offer the same in others, we are all in various places of up and down living. We find where we fit each day, and be part of life.
So have I got a life today?
Yes I am part of something bigger than me, humanity. I have interest and don’t mope. Unless of course there is reason to mope. So there has been some moping, and aware of grief as grief is.
And What a Life. Just about!
My head functions as it may, I find a path, I write, I take photo’s of life and living, people places and things. I share the good and bad of living with incapacity and realise that I am merely one of many millions in the same boat.
I make friends and share time, I find ways to endeavour even when its tough and I am worn out.
I live through the depressions as they occur, and those are hardest moments when fixing the pain is offered through oblivion and then the certainty of another breakdown. So I keep close to fellowship where people understand all too well the torments on offer if life is given up to drink or worse..
So I have a life. And a right to live just as life offers. I may recollect times spent over the years and much joy lost to me this last decade. Times feel ok and as I have been touched by much life’s calamities and joyful wonderment, the journey has been worth it.
Balance to the Good?
We don’t know the difference until we have lived all life offers, I hope for another day to find out some more. Just another day..
August 9th 2006
The Truth is all we Have
Tonight I am to talk out loud about a step in the process of recovery. And its one of those steps in life which really does help anyone understand the true nature of being human. Of course it’s a difficult thing for me to do. I used to be good at speaking out loud about anything and everything.
For years though the very idea of speaking out loud about anything that was on my mind made me feel very nervous indeed. For years, and I mean decades in my case I felt hugely uncomfortable and horrid, nervous and tongue tied, the last person on earth to reveal anything about me.
It was or has been the bane of my living, that if I reveal the real me I can be hurt, if I reveal just the good parts of me, you will like me, if I reveal the bad parts of me I am undone and the world will shun me and make me run and hide.
What made me feel so inadequate I could not share the real me, that hiding felt more comfortable, that revealing the true me would be so painful, I might just hide under a rock, kill myself, be no more and not bother society with my twisted nature.
And as the questions trip off my internal audit, the things I don’t want you to know about me, I start to feel better, I start to realise everything in me and what makes me the way I am is a common set of feelings we all have. And for whatever reason as I grew up, somehow I had felt it more dangerous to tell the truth of me, that shame and guilt would be so overwhelming I could not share.
This fear was so great for many a year, I can recall how it kept me from being myself from earliest times. That shame came into my life early, that the damage was done and the early patterns of depression and insecurity were sown so easily in a young mind and hiding became natural to me, that I was somehow a monster and not fit company,
So easy in isolated thinking as a child to make our monsters so big, the nightmares of dreams become our daily fears. That if we show our true nature, we show our fears and shameful insides. That we are racked with guilt because we don’t know what we are, no we know we are guilty as we have experienced some punishment. And that punishment has set a trail of events to last a lifetime long. And in my case made more complicated with natures all too common gift of depressive qualities and a moribund state of living.
So now comes the door opening to another reveal. As my life went on, it was obvious I was not all bad, as some parts of me seemed entirely acceptable. And some parts of me were ok. And so I could function, not completely, but function become a great actor in my life. The part you saw of me was the part I felt was acceptable. What lay behind my Actors mask was deep worry that there were bad parts of me you would never wish to encounter. My insecurities were made in me very young. And to expose them as time has moved along, well to get there and share them, its been a hard road to journey.
And in isolation I was able to make my insides as bad can be and monstrous. And when I look at my shame of times past, the revealing makes me wince and stare into that gloom with surprise, it was not so big or bad as anything, had there been the right size understanding of what I had been looking at.
The natures of mankind, yes we have nature which makes us all from the same set of ingredients and our recipe if you like, how we are generally helps us understand where we find balance and not where balance has been driven out for one reason or another. Most usually someone who has turned us one way or another. Made us out of balance and out of tune with where balance might be, and that is part of this action step four, to restore our balance and get back to sanity.
Of course part of the process of being out of balance with our nature, is most often learned from those around us. And so it takes more than ourselves to be out of balance to start with. We can though, with the benefit of help and support see our part in the whole process or we blame the world for our problems and forget to realise our part was being there at all.
And we must acknowledge the help which made us the way we are, our nature and our nurture. Nature gave us our template, nurture most likely help to distort or challenge our very nature. And this set up those internal conflicts which make us react badly to our world. The nature of and nurture of living. Most often we don’t see these great tribulations as we live them. We are experiencing their growth over years and sometimes our rotten outlook has been made before we even got to be who we really might have been.
We are lucky to get this insight. If of course we live through these dark revelations of the soul. We hate our darkness, we don’t like to admit our faults, our shame is so great we need it covered, as if for all time, but it burns us deep and our insecurities will be forevermore if we let our prejudice keep itself lit and burning deep within.
When though we have opportunity to do this this fearless tread to the inner parts of the soul we do find our true nature is most often quite good, that we are not so different from others, even though experience has made us out of balance from where we prefer.
When we get to grips with the things we become, and see our part and our less helpful attitudes and behaviour, we start to see what we can be. And this is the truth of us. Once we can see where fault lies, the fault is not blame as such for blaming will keep us resenting, then we see how we can respond to living rather than react as we always have.
One of the keys to change is realising we cannot do anything about what others think of us, so its pretty pointless acting one way and being another. If we find out where we are out of balance we start to learn how to be balanced in our own conduct and behaviour. We learn to be ourselves. What is best for us and what we need to deal with to overcome learning so unhelpful it made us distorted from our truth and true nature.
I don’t know if we are ever born bad as such, maybe we are in which case we will suffer hugely as we are rejected by society. But if we get back to our true and good nature, then we can nurture the person we wish to become. And do this as progression and not to perfection, as perfection is not our aim.
Do this make sense to you? It does to me. It is simple and true. Yet the complications of living make it so difficult to reveal where it all started and where it all went wrong or right for us.
We have loyalties we don’t understand, connections to others we have loved and who are most likely still around and we have great worries about our behaviour over the times present in our misdirected living and outlook. We have a world of living experience which makes us wince and wonder what we can do to make our lives good again.
Our responsible way forward in all these matters is to ask ourselves what we may do change ourselves and no one else. We are here to make our lives as good as we can. What we fear sometimes in this whole endeavour is the impact our changes will have on others and how we deal with our behaviour towards others. That is what stops us from looking too hard. We fear again, as we reveal our truth of what we have become over the years and what we might do to restore not just us, but deal with our consequences along the way.
And those are other steps in our programme of recovery.
The problem we face though is to be careful as we go searching into our past. And its good we do, and bad news if we try do this alone without help. We need guidance and support in our actions, which is why we need a mentor, a sponsor or someone we can rely on to give help and assistance as we uncover our truth. We fail often in early stages because we still want to keep our truth to ourselves. And we need some compass to keep ourselves on track or we most likely cherry pick and make assumptions about what our relative good and bad points of living have meant for us. We are singularly good at denying our part in our lives as we go through this moral inventory of ourselves and our behaviour.
And one important aspect as we reveal our truth is the need for compassion not only for ourselves but those who might have wronged us, or we thought they have wronged us as well those who did. As we are all human we all have the same liabilities in life, other people!
And other people are the same as we, doing their best with what they have. And most often other people are not engaged as we in a moral inventory, so we might see quite clearly our part in living and theirs too.
All we can do is address those things in ourselves and work towards our own understanding of living again. And this gives us much to understand about the nature of progression and that others too are on their journey in life. We need be respectful of our boundaries around our discoveries and that others need not necessarily benefit from our enlightenment. And that too is part of other steps we live in our programme.
With this step we try to clear the decks as best we can to understand and get a sense of balance about what we need to address in our own conduct and living. If we try to lump everything into this step, we will be overwhelmed and fail. Its necessary to make the changes to make living work and we need to make the changes worthy, but not too big or we will be overwhelmed again.
As this process of living the steps of our programme progresses we learn more and more about what we have done and how we change and live today. We don’t need to solve everything at once, that is a lifetime job.
As to why I was able to overcome my fear of speaking out loud, the actor in me years ago found a voice, and had much truth to share. And as I was given years of opportunity to understand my faults, I somehow fell into helping others with theirs. It seems the good or my bad qualities came out in spades as a helpful way to assist others on their track to happy living. An ironic and surprising revelation to me? Not really, it is often easier to understand the qualities in others we wish in ourselves and develop along the way we live.
We are not intrinsically bad, we have much to offer when we are rebalanced and recalibrated. We need to find the balance.
Indeed my most successful career is and always has been helping others, and only out of balance when I just worked to please others and lost my own way in the journey. I cannot ever go back to that needy helpful and quite distorted way of being a pleaser of others to get my value as I once did. That does not mean I don’t help people anymore, I do, and at the same time, put my boundaries up and secure my space for me.
We learn our benefits as well as our deficits, we find our balance in sharing all that is us.
At the same time, some of us, and I don’t know how badly some of us have lived, but we have much to sort out when it comes to the process of forgiving ourselves and others.
Forgiveness is a key. And truly when we understand that forgiveness can be used unhelpfully to excuse and make good ongoing problems for ourselves and others, we have not learned the real process of change here.
Forgiving requires some actions beyond just saying the words to ourselves. Our own forgiveness is dependent on our changing attitudes and behaviour. Forgiving is not an excuse to keep on doing the same old things over and over. We need a change in ourselves and what we do next, even though we prefer old ways and habits.
Old habits do die hard. And it is not surprising that for us addicts, old habits do kills us. Our main habit, oblivion, through our preferred fix, will surely do us in, and end all our potential.
What lies behind our habit there, are other parts we need to address as we develop our spiritual, not religious path and connection one day only, today. We just progress a little along the road.
And we need to recognise our reactions to life often are still about a quick fix, and not about recovery. Recovery often is a response to our situation and not a reaction.
Our reactions to life, well if we get with the programme we have a sponsor or mentor to help guide us through those times when we get giddy and forgetful and fall back a bit in our aims of making recovery work today.
This bucket of life experiences we try to resolve, its too big at one go to sort it all out. And we have our sayings, like, "we cannot solve all our problems today" and we can work out some of them and move on as we learn. This whole notion of progress and not perfection comes to mind too.
So somehow we begin to let go our old ways and find new ways which work for us, gradually and carefully. We make our mistakes and we learn and we develop new ways to be ourselves. Slow steady, or sometimes quickly.
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