September 10 2012 | AA 12 Steps In Action | Step 9 Amends In Action Alcoholics Anonymous Today's AA daily reflection: "humility is being able to learn, being humiliated is altogether different. Being humble is a strength not a weakness…" One day at a time, we start from scratch, with all the experience, strength and hope inside us and the opportunity to ask the help at any time of day. The promise is a bigger broader outlook one day at a time emotionally and spiritually…
Video For Today:
Open, honest and willing with the humility to keep on learning life emotionally and spiritually is the greatest strength we develop. Humiliation is optional, usually based on our ego covering up fear and not knowing something and pretending we do. One of the ways we can be thrown off course is when we feel the need to cover up and avoid the truth of not knowing. It is okay to say to people, "I may be a hundred years old, and at the same time this is my first experience of this particular situation with you, so help me understand what's going on…"
Being humble, accepting I don't know the way offers the opportunity to ask for help. I don't know why it is that so many people go along with things they don't understand, just in case they look foolish. A bit like the lemming on a cliff top. A bit like a politician thinking idealism gives them economic genius. A bit like an impressionist artist being able to construct a racing car. There are exceptions of course, but usually when it comes to learning and understanding the building blocks of emotional and spiritual development, Herbert Spencer was correct when he summed up everlasting ignorance is founded on, "contempt prior to investigation…"
When the AA big book describes the promises it is all about the courage to keep on changing, that there will be fearful times as life happens but not crippling fear as it was before. Why? Because we do not have to face every life challenge alone, we can learn again and keep on asking for help and we don't have to cover up any failures or mistakes. There would be no progress without failure or mistakes, in all aspects of life we learn over and over again what works one day at a time. And for me in my life it starts with sober today and then the glorious torture begins…
I try to be careful with promises and propositions. A bit like the difference between attraction and promotion. I am not fond of making a promise which might hold good right now and fade with time. Attraction to a set of principles for example the twelve steps and twelve traditions, is a proposition and not a guarantee. Promoting a fix does not feel right, suggestions to a better way of life feels very right. Emotional and spiritually I'm likely to grow and develop real feelings and cope with reality with a sober head, and that is a suggestion and a proposition. Around every corner in life is a "medicine man with his snake oil." And we have medicine men in fellowship too, and usually what they promote is short lived as is their sobriety… When a person tells you what to do in fellowship, and it is contrary to your common sense if you have any and I didn't at first, you can thank them kindly for the instructions and tell them to fuck off and mind their own business… It is all part of growing up and finding the vocabulary which might suit the situation we find ourselves in…
Sobriety, the habit of a lifetime, just for today… Emotional sobriety; knowing how I feel about life and feelings fit my experience. Spiritual sobriety; able to cope with life right now, and seek help if needed. Physical sobriety, no longer craving a fix so my body can keep stable…
Promises, promises... I heard this many a Friday in early recovery. "Deluded fools" I thought as I sat at the back of the Friday promises meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. Talking of their years of sobriety, death, marriages, taxes, divorce, higher powers and god doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. I found it hard to listen to these mad people, full of BS and full of sanctimony. Keep coming back... brainwashing and bull. This was me and my thinking in early days. And judging "them" as they kept on saying, "keep coming back."
Yet, for all their differences to me, they never criticized me, they never said go away, they never said I was bad, just suggested I was sick and demented by drink. I thought not, but as time went along, and I kept sober, I felt better, felt less like drinking and felt they had some good points besides their obvious delusions about god and all that malarkey. And all they said was keep coming back, have a laugh, have a cry, share your anger, share your story, deal with your feelings by finding out what they are. And if you drink come back anyway.
Friday night is promises night. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly it will get better and I will have a life beyond my wildest dreams. I thought for a long time, that meant I could go back to the way I was, successful, average big shot, average big car, or small eco-friendly car to prove my point and feel right in my conscience, try find and stay with one girl, marry and live happily ever after. Those promises I could recognise and had great expectations of this happening. I would be normal, indeed I would be exceptionally normal and people would see me so. And if god did not deliver, it confirmed my suspicions; there was no god and no promises. A very limited view by me...
Ultimately as time went by, I found out what the promises are, or maybe just one promise. The promise: that I could live sober, no matter what happened to me. So far, I have got my wits back, even when romance and finance can still make me insecure. That I can have my heart broken, recover and cherish always what has been shared with me. That my bank balance can be as little as enough to cover the very basic of needs and I can still enjoy this day. That I can catch a virus, get type 1 diabetes and still live happily. That I can accept I have clinical depression, which goes through cycles of ups and downs and still make the best of darkest times knowing they may well pass eventually. That I can be useful, love people and be loved back even when accepting love back feels so hard and unusual. That I can believe in finding truth daily, love daily and learn from the wisdom of others...
Are these shabby promises? I think not, sometimes quickly, sometimes excruciatingly slowly, especially romance and finance, smiles here, they do happen when we least expect. And of course can disappear again, because that is life as it is. The best promise has been reality, the spiritual connection to now. And of god? God seems to be rolled up in truth, love and wisdom, reality, now and not tomorrow or last week, in providence as life is on life's terms and in the nature of all things...
Humility, the ultimate quality of connection and learning helps us keep learning, truth, love and wisdom and to cherish always... now that is a promise!
Sobriety is like marriage, for better or worse. Often we find life gets worse before it gets better in recovery. Why? Simply because we let go old habits and learn new ones. No matter how hard life gets as rocks and hard places happen, we learn how to deal with reality and always just for today...
Promises, over promise under deliver... Promises like expectations can lead to resentments under construction or reconstruction. I do not promise to be sober today. I live the day and can look back at what works, sober works for me day by day. Hard or easy, happy or sad, I can cherish all living and be me today...
AA Daily Reflections ~ "recovery by proxy?" They [the Promises] will always materialize if we work for them.[big book]
Sometimes I think: "Making these amends is going too far! No one should have to humble himself like that!" However, it is this very humbling of me that brings me that much closer to the sunlight of the spirit. A.A. is the only hope I have if I am to continue healing and gain a life of happiness, friendship and harmony."
September 10 2007
DonInLondon - ‘Day In the Life’ All About Recovery
Tolerance and Love
Seems a good place to start on a Monday morning. I have some things to do, like address notifications and quite a lot of admin. The move to my new home went reasonably well apart from the loss of most my possessions. Tolerance beckons on this situation. Not having all my stuff is not unusual, and its loss does not daunt me. I just wonder where it is.
Last night we heard good words from many people in my AA meeting at flood Street. Easier to get to, just a few streets away now. And its always good to catch up with friends. I went to two meetings yesterday both at Flood St.
The theme of tolerance goes a bit deeper today. A new friend was asking me if they had overstepped the mark in their back to me in a meeting last week. I was doing the main share, and when we have finished we don’t generally say anything. I think they were perturbed by my lack of response to their compliment to me. In truth we don’t share back to compliments or criticisms either of what we offer as experience, strength and hope.
And the expression of what they said was not really based on their own experience of me. Actually they were voicing words from someone else who although they say these things to the good, their behaviour in the past has left me quite unable to connect as before. So the purveyor understand I could not share back. And I have tolerance a plenty for past events and forgiveness too, or how would we ever make life work in the day?
I have no desire to be in a camp where I would endeavour and not be appreciated. Words are free, actions to the good rare in reflection and the paucity of good reminds me where to focus. Not there!
I am in love with recovery? In love with living definitely today, even though many aspects of life are tough still, the roof I have over my head today id helping me with tolerance. Loss of material possessions is not really something we may grieve about, its inconvenient. People are far more important and always are my focus.
So today, I had cramps in my legs, a part of diabetic neuropathy. I managed to get up off the floor in time to overcome the worst of it. Sleeping on floors still at my age, well that’s life..
As to what next today?
I have done one video. I have a whole load of small things to keep doing as part of my diabetic regime and other matters related to people I know locally too. So it will be a busy day. My mother is fine as usual and we touch base every morning for a mutual check up on incapacities, a part of life.
More later if time allows. Last years journal entry below.
September 10th 2006
When Vision Fades to Grey
Hi KT, like you I do feel that hope springs eternal. And yes I sometimes wonder at the gifts life brings us. Oddly enough, I do feel to an extent, some of the gifts I have been given may not seem so on first glance.
If anyone had suggested it was a gift to be prone to depression or use some form of oblivion to escape from these moods, well I guess I would have thought them mad! Yet to me, it seems the gift of desperation does offer us alternatives which sharpen and make possible insights to living with a greater range of feeling capacities. I don’t feel that this makes me ‘more than’ others who never experience depression or oblivious tendencies, it does however give me insights to me and my world, and how this impacts on others too. Greater sensitivity is helpful when helping others in similar states of mind, and useless for helping others who have no experience.
Like you, I am one of three siblings. And I guess there are always reasons why we might be more prone to depression than our brothers or sisters. I feel it’s a combination of genetics and nurture. Even in the same family our growing experience, once we are out of the nest, well we all get some stuff we might wish we never experienced. And I certainly have my memories which triggered fear and doubt. My Brother and sister did not have the same experiences. At the same time I know there has been a significant pattern of depression down the generations on one side of the family tree. Inevitable we do inherit some of this genetic predisposition and inevitable we need to make the best of what we get. Of course we need to find these things out if we can. And this took a long time for me to know.
Smiles here, I thought I knew myself well. In reality I did, and being reasonably intelligent, was able to work out most of my living, my good points and my bad. But in the key area of what used to drive me to extremes in work and career, and drives to impossible standards in my relationships, well it was mainly fear of failure and fear that something could and would go wrong. The self fulfilling prophecy of fear is more evident today as I look back. I never learned to feel some elements of life or know myself as well as I might, and most of all I am learning what suppressed feelings are these days. More on that in a while.
If I wasn’t an alcoholic?
You know I have never really thought it through or really wondered how life might have been. And I suppose it also begs the question what would life have been like without the depressions and fear and anxieties. How would ordinary life have been for me? I reckon it would have been pretty marvellous, to have had a childhood free of those anxieties, of the fears I dare not speak of, the experiences and the inner humiliations which came my way. Of feeling an outsider to where others were. Where others did not notice the potential of what might go wrong, and where they played in some safe world I seemed unable to feel or imagine or even experience. I guess all those things come to mind. It was as if they, my playmates around me were unaware of any danger and I just saw danger. Never feeling safe and on my mettle. I guess the difference might have been profound if those fears had not been there.
At the same time, with all those fears rampant and the sense of need to achieve as I grew up, the need to get out to work and make money. And the need to experience education. All those things I learned to be driven towards. From where? Well at the time from necessity and from society. And if I had not had those drives, or my driving motivations left to their own devices, I suspect I would have been doing what I do right now, that is writing and reporting to an extent.
If I had not been an alcoholic, I would have learned all my feelings and more about who I really am a long, long time ago. And the good news is, somehow I am recovered enough to find my way. Or, with hindsight…
The torture which can bedevil and derail us and let us into a new and more elaborate world of pain. Smiles here KT, I realise the reality of how things have been, the best I could do, the part I have played in my life and the choices I have made. Most to the good of my experience and mostly to good conscience.
Would I have preferred to be ordinary? Smiles there is no such thing actually, just what we have. And as for others who don’t take things to extremes and feel the depressions we have experienced, well thank goodness they have not!
We get what we have and make use of what we have, with luck and happenstance. And actually, I would have liked a conventional life with wife and kids. Certainly a life partner to share living. How would she have coped with the likes of me? Smiles I guess again, I wonder. And know somehow a balance in life may have been struck quite differently. I also know my life taken me to places of understanding another life precludes. So we are shaped and made so by luck and realities. I don’t dwell too much on what if’s these days. Just deal with now this day and where it may lead. I do know one thing though, I do need female friendship in my life, which I have and helps me balance my thoughts and feelings, where male friends are harder to relate to except in some outlooks. Somewhere in there are stereotypes I do not find so helpful these days. As we all mature we do find outlooks are less differentiated into gender types.
More than once my GP asked me if I was Gay. This question came to me a couple of times when I had admitted my alcoholism. And I wondered at the time why ask me at all, and wondered what judgment might be being made about me. This came up last night when I was chatting with two Gay men before the meeting and they were laughing. And they asked me what I had said. Actually what I said to my GP on the second time of asking was, " would it help if I was?" And the two chaps laughed. And one said he’d do his best to convert me if I thought it might help me, but alas I don’t feel it would help. And always having been happy in my preferences, it seemed this question is often asked of men who are alcoholic or suffering from depression according to further discussion last night. If it’s a suppressed tendency, I’m ********* if I know where its gone!
Was good, having written a lot in the early hours. The time for getting out and to a meeting was early. And I had to leave posting to the BBC later as I was in my meeting at 8:30AM, which is why it takes so long to appear over the weekends. It was a really good morning, I called my Mum to let her know I was fine while I was on the bus. She was preparing to go out to Waitrose with my Sister, and do the weekly shop. Her leg is much better, and still wearing the brace to support her torn ligament. Another missed diagnosis at my GP’s surgery by the way. We don’t seem to have much luck there as a family.
The meeting, I got there early and helped set up. And all the usual faces are there. Except one, a closer friend to me than some. And this is worrying me somewhat. it’s a long absence now of two weeks, I know they went away to see their family, but usually there is word before now. I can only wait and hope all is ok. Get fretful when people are away and out of touch longer than they may be. But I know they have closer friends than me to keep in touch with, so rely on my patience.
The "chair" speaker had a very dry sense of humour. And they were able to make us all laugh at this serious subject of recovery. They had much wisdom and many years of time in recovery. The humour was to do with how we all are when faced with admissions to our drinking habits and what we need to do to start to recover.
Fade to Grey
And as if in artists talk the chair helped us see how our world often does fade to grey as we seek oblivion from the real world. And as the drink takes us over, the grasp on reality really is lost for a time. All of us seem to have this tendency to find real life too hard to cope with in some ways. That fear and gap inside which leads us to fill it with drink. And its not for the want of love from others it seems.
As life is multicoloured and multifaceted, when we still find depressions rife and gaps we cannot fill and uncomfortable in our own skin, we use drink to change our mood and perception and make it in some way unmanageably manageable, only to find we are lost completely to reality. And as the world has a black cloud, the drink just makes it more black. The fade to grey and worse. A monochrome life in a high definition reality of many colours.
So there were some similarities. Mind I realise my drinking behaviour was learned from my father in early years and what his normal became and what I knew of drinking was actually quite outside the normal most people know.
Sharing was good and many people related other humorous stories from life. And this helped me as my mood was ambivalent, a mixture of up and down moments. Late nights talking to others had certainly clouded my perceptions and their thoughts still hung around gloomily in my head.
Feelings we never knew we had
And then as I have shared to my surprise in recent times, how hard and horrid feelings have come out so strong. Another fellow related their complete surprise at their anger about being undermined and thought badly about. And their reactions were as hard to deal with as my own as unsuppressed anger spilled out into their life. Actually its rage that consumed them, like it had done me. And this was never expected in their sobriety.
And we realise even though we are mature in our outlook and can see how irrational our anger may be, its new to us, because its not suppressed or medicated away with drink. And so in our sharing we get it out and express the feelings, to make sense of them when they make no sense to us. To be hurt and undermined is as bad as it can be, and just now in recovery, even a few years along we realise what we humans are able to feel. And its reality!
And so our sharing was doing what it need do, recognise our feelings and what we can do, express them safely, till they get to the right size again. What it means really, is we recognise our human feelings and how badly we might react, and through expression in a safe environment like ours, we get them into perspective and don’t act them out. Another lesson learned!
So it’s the programme in action all over again, as both men and women are able and capable of feeling with strong passions and all feelings. And its what we do, make sense of our stuff, express it and realise how we might respond in our world rather than live with reactions and in fear of consequences no good for anyone.
On my Way home and the "dogs are barking"
On my way home I bumped into another fellow of AA. We had been at the same meeting as last night and we started chatting. And he has recently had heart surgery and is moving along with his life, like me looking at work and where it will lead. We both used to have big careers in the past and recognise we ain’t going back there as those doors have closed. And we were very happy chatting for about fifteen minutes or more. We set our world to rights as if we had known each other for years. In reality it was our first conversation ever one to one, and we were on the same page. Now how strange is that? Weird stuff this fellowship we are in, complete strangers who meet and resolve and talk about anything and everything open and honestly. All our fears and all our hopes shared, as if with a confessor or confidante we have known all our lives. Strange and truly a gift…
Now my "dogs"(feet) are "Barking" (hurting)
Yep, the feet and diabetic neuropathy. My "dogs were barking", standing too long and the pain when I moved was excruciatingly profound. No that has taught me a lesson that medication can work to an extent, but it ain’t going to cure the pain or neuropathy. Blimey I thought, this is never going to end, so I better be careful how far I push myself, and its not so good or bodes well for the future. And that is a real concern. So I resolved to keep it in the day. What follows on from this is not really where I want my thoughts to go, so a little suppression on my part about walking in the future, it does not need elaboration or more worry than I have already.
Got back and posted the last missive to the BBC. I’d already put my stuff out on my own webs and blogs much earlier. And I was really very tired.
I dropped off for an hour, and woke with a groggy Noggin. The medication for the feet is definitely taking the sharpness away from my head. Any analgesic will do this, even aspirin these days so avoid anything if I can. And my concerns do have foundation. Yet I do know this forever insomnia will drive me crackers if it goes on as it has done these last few months.
A couple of calls to friends and then out to a meeting in the evening. I am feeling overloaded and need be careful I realise, that I am taking in too much information. Yet meetings help me make sense of so much I feel a lot of good from them.
Was excellent, as our meetings are filling up as holidays are over. And this one was bigger still, being near Chelsea who were playing yesterday at home. We got some new people in this meeting, and newcomers to fellowship. So from one day sober, to decades of sobriety, we all sit and listen and discuss experience, strength and hope. For some its so new, they cannot understand why we help them and give them tea and biscuits, they must think we are mad. And they then start to listen and realise there’s no weirdness going on, until of course they come back! And then they see they have somewhere to get sober, just a day at a time. And often that stops them, for a day, a month or as in my case several years in fact…
It was about how to live sober
Our chair was not planned he just had turned up after the football and was from far up North, you know the far North, somewhere beyond Watford!
We didn’t mind though. But he shared how hard life was once he stopped drinking. And when he stopped how hard feeling was, because he had to catch up and sort out his feelings about the world and people and relationships. And like many of us and I relate this to me. As I must for anonymity. I went and studied and learned about human psychology. Besides an illustrious career in operations management, and every job on the way up the corporate ladder, and then down it as well! I also learned much about being and doing as a counsellor, and then was in counselling and worked in that field as well. And none of this was ever really applied to me, by me, except as a sort of externalised intellectual exercise. Until I could not cope with my life anymore, extraordinary it may seem, but we avoid pain don't we, and its easier to help others through theirs? So then I had to really work on me as we all find in our fellowship. And stop being a counsellor, which had helped me to burn out.
So this business of what we avoid and suppress over the years with drink or drugs or often chocolate, or the gym, or starving ourselves, or sex, or generally just being out of balance with wherever normal is, we face this in our fellowship. And our chairperson helped us resolve to keep on working the programme as best we can, for the rewards of knowing ourselves more and being able to meet the world head on is the greatest of gifts. Sorting out our emotions enables another element too, our spiritual well being as we come to understand it.
A good day all round
And I even commented on the Beeb blog on politics as well! And then more calls last night, I had to switch off the phone and give my head a rest. And then awake as usual, but I got a good couple of hours sleep. Not enough I realise. And so now as I end yesterdays day of recovery stuff, I reflect on concerns for a friend still missing. Of old loves and new friendships. And best wishes for all. Acceptance is a key to living each day at a time, with gratitude to still be here to sort myself out and join in human living as well as I might.
Just for today...
Step 9 "If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves." Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us…sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them." AA Promises
Step 9 Amends In Action Alcoholics Anonymous Anonymous Reading Video Link:
“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