September 2 2012 | AA 12 Steps In Action | Step 9 Amends In Action Alcoholics Anonymous Today's AA daily reflection: "a reason to believe… Developing courage faith and confidence…" Two people, same problem in sober living: One person very angry and very, very unhappy that they have been struck down and stricken with another chronic ailment. The other person, same ailment and same prognosis which is not good, is living one day at a time with courage, faith and confidence moment by moment…
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I was very lucky to get to a meeting yesterday, a meeting at what I call, "the spiritual hut." It is in fact a spiritual reflections meeting, focusing on appendix II in the big book "Alcoholics Anonymous, spiritual awakenings…" We all have our own understanding of what is spiritual and how it works in our lives. Some people say they are not spiritual or are not "that spiritual." Many people associate spiritual with religion, and many people separate religion and spiritual. I cannot suggest what is right for you, I can share what is right for me. Spiritual is the ability to live in the moment of now, where feelings fit the moment and we are able to cope with reality. For me this definition of spiritual simply means everything in the moment is the spiritual experience, and a person can add or subtract whatever they feel is right for them…
We can be living in an emotional and spiritual hell or heaven. In the fellowship where emotional and spiritual is the foundation and the twelve steps and twelve traditions are a way of life, living with free choices and freedom to experience life as it is today. And as I point out very often, emotional and spiritual works when we ask the help when we are facing difficulties as well as success and we are not co-dependent on people, places and things…
A reason to believe in the spiritual and emotional way of life is a personal journey. Regardless of our beliefs, my feeling is that everything is spiritual, where we are right now, how we feel and how we cope with reality. History provides fantastic experience of life, and it is history and experience strength and hope which makes it possible to be aware of the reality of now. Belief and our history influences everything in the moment, it does not mean that everything is already decided, freedom of choice provides our way of understanding and living life as we do today…
Coming back to two people, same chronic ailment, same prognosis: which could be very dire. We can become stuck in denial yet again, feel the anger and frustration of why me? And it can cause vile depression. In our one-day programme in fellowship, we do learn how to deal with grief and horrible times. The spiritual path helps with our emotions, an emotional rollercoaster not only from illness, but every experience and also fears about the future can become overwhelming. If we really understand how to live in the moment, we really understand it is okay to face destruction if we are stricken if we know how. Twelve steps and twelve traditions help, and other help may be needed, if we can accept it and get past loss before it happens…
If we have nursed a person who is dying, very upsetting to experience as a helper and also very upsetting when it is someone in your family or somebody you love, in my case my father. My dad changed beyond recognition, from being fearful and covering up and from feeling shame and guilt at failure, he found the courage to express his love for each of us, my mum, my brother and sister and me. He changed his outlook in such a short time it was completely overwhelming and for the first time I really experienced loss of love, and every element of the denial process. Then, hotly followed with the end of a relationship which felt like rejection and divorce. Those times broke me to pieces in the bottle kept me alive long enough to find fellowship and a way to cope with reality…
A few years into recovery, restored to rude health, I started to feel quite ill and forever a year it seemed that I could get no help to understand what is happening to me. And during that year I really did feel like life was coming to an end. Not knowing the problem, I did not realise that nature was preparing me for my end. Oddly I didn't fear death because there was beauty all around me and I felt it. In the end I insisted to the general practitioner that I was not imagining something being wrong, which was their viewpoint, and had some blood tests which revealed I had type I diabetes. And as part of this diagnosis, psychiatric support diagnosed chronic depression. Now armed with three chronic conditions, recovering alcoholic, type I diabetes and chronic depression, I was quite delighted to know what had been bothering me! Without the tools of recovery, I would have been dead anyway and every day and then two new diagnoses had prepared me for the worst, with the best way of dealing with what was going on. Simply to accept every feeling as they happened, and to live in the moment and to share what is going on. Support came in the form of love and understanding. Like King Canute we cannot stop the waves of life, but we sure can cope better because of fellowship and whatever we need deal with one day at a time…
DonInLondon September 2006 ~ 2011
Last night the meeting felt like comedy hour, tragic comic, real life shared and truth, love and wisdom abounded. The consequences of living sober? Everything that happens in the next 24 hours will be felt as it happens, good, bad or indifferent today…
And I laugh at myself, happy to be human making progress; every step forward might mean two steps back. And that is okay today, because today is where I see the wisdom which makes the difference. No expectations no resentments and life is surprising me in the moment…
As new living opens us up with a clearer outlook we find new purpose in living. Simply the purpose is what we find out as we live each day. Humility: our key to new life and learning. We open up to the power of nature and providence whatever each of us understands it to be. We are a part of life today...
Life and death... lessons in recovery life. Last year, a neighbour perished as a consequence of addiction. Asked to help it was too late, the memory and details clear and imprinted. Before I found recovery, I was another statistic. In recovery, the horror and consequences a reality. A good person lost, cherished in memories always...
AA Daily Reflections ~ "Finding "a reason to believe" The willingness to grow is the essence of all spiritual development. [As Bill Sees It]
A line from a song goes, ". . . and I look to find a reason to believe.” It reminds me that at one time I was not able to find a reason to believe that my life was all right. Even though my life had been saved by coming to A.A., three months later I went out and drank again. Someone told me: "You don't have to believe. Aren't you willing to believe that there is a reason for your life, even though you may not know yourself what that reason is, or that you may not sometimes know the right way to behave?" When I saw how willing I was to believe there was a reason for my life, then I could start to work on the Steps. Now when I begin with, "I am willing," I am using the key that leads to action, honesty, and openness to a Higher Power moving through my life."
September 2nd 2006
Day In The Life
Well thank you KT, if only it had been an NHS rehab, I hope yours was better than the one I went to. The nightmares from the one funded by a major religious organisation I attended are something I will have to live with for the rest of my natural. Odd that a God related establishment would treat people with a version "tough love" which they suggest will only work on a third of the people they have into their rehab, if they were Jesuits I would have understood the rules, but being more mainstream oriented, I was left completely bamboozled. Anyway we learn something either way.
I got the News Today Oh Boy
And no it wasn’t there are four thousand holes in Blackburn Lancashire! I saw my consulting Psychiatrist at the hospital.
It was a very good news appointment for me. As I explained some time back, I had been completely overwhelmed and left bewildered by my assessment with the medical agents who work for the government Department of Work and Pensions.
Looking at the notes I made and the information supplied by my GP, which were inaccurate, it is no wonder I felt wrong footed and so for that matter, was the assessor for the DWP. Indeed the lack of information, and wrong information did not help me or the assessor. Also he said it was completely unprofessional for the assessor to have used derogatory terms to describe me and make assumptions about my ethnicity or conduct as a person by suggesting I looked like a "Mediterranean Playboy". So I felt a lot better about the whole matter. He also said if I was inclined I could take up both matters regarding the GP and the assessor with appropriate agencies who overlook conduct. I felt this was likely to cause me more grief and so would prefer to let things alone for the moment, as my major concern is and always my recovery.
As to my reaction to events, sure it was destabilising to experience things like this. But I needed to find context and make efforts to look to my recovery and what I am doing to maintain my diabetic management, my living with depression and maintaining my recovery.
He suggested something very simple which I know is good to do, to keep good esteem and make setbacks less harmful.
Keeping my esteem
It’s a well tried and tested form of positive thinking and feeling actually, which I have used in the past with team building in industry and individual personal development planning. It is simple and so easy, and that’s why we overlook it and don’t do it, because its child’s play actually. And that is exactly why I am going to do it for a change!
Making Lists of Positives and Negatives
It’s so simple and it fits in with something I do in the recovery process. Simply get some bits of card to write on, use one for positive things I know about me, and one for negative things I know about me. Sometimes these cards are called flash cards. It’s really a way of affirming I have success as well as issues which draw me to negative thinking and feeling. But its finding where the balance is and ensuring I don’t drag myself back
downwards into gloomy thoughts.
So on my list of positives, well the things I do, manage my diabetes by …, deal with depression daily by…, keep to the recovery process by… and so on. Then as I start to look at what gets me down like, assessor did …, Doctor failed to supply right information by …,
Now I can start to see my part in what is going on, what I have control over and don’t. And as it happens when I start the process like this, it seems I am not the one who is making things difficult, its other things over which I have no control or power. Now what that tells me is, I am doing my bit to keep well, even when things and events don’t work out. I did my best. And so when it comes to it, I don’t blame me and make myself feel worse over what has happened.
And the other news is
Now I understand the medication for the diabetic neuropathy will not make me bonkers or undermine my thinking and feeling processes I can start taking the treatment. The "dogs my stop barking as much", my pain in the feet that is, may get less as we understand the right dose to take. And fortunately the low dose of amitriptyline required will not affect my head or have an anti-depressant effect, it will merely alleviate the pain caused by the neuropathy.
Now it also says something about me, that I don’t get down about the neuropathy, well not right now, so my acceptance of the diabetes and its effects is less troublesome to me at the moment than other matters.
I do feel the need to approach the Employment Service, to see options and where I may find help with work in the future. And this is something to discuss next time with my Psychiatrist, or soon. He also suggested he was a good connection for future information regarding me for the DWP, as so far my GP has not responded to my letter to clarify what is on record and what information is circulated to the DWP etc. So overall a rational and understandable way forwards.
Doubting myself and my outlook
You know I have been through the mill over the last few years and have been reliant on others to help and support me. And sometimes even when I felt the help was intermittent or less than complete, I have let it go, simply because of fear and worry and my inability to trust myself. What my psychiatrist is encouraging me to do, is to trust my judgment and check it out as I go. This is good news.
This comes up a lot when I am discussing my situation. I always say no I don’t feel like it (even when in frustration a quick excess of insulin would do the trick). And to an extent its true I don’t actually plan this. At the same time I know my behaviour tends to look to being well without medication and without help. I do realise that this self-reliance thing in me, it can easily become self-harm, by trying to avoid medication and trying to be back where I was before my world turned to crap, myself reliance talk can easily turn me away from all the help that is there. I want to be what I was, and therefore ,not need medication, this can actually lead to self-harm.
And I need to be aware I am not what the perfect human specimen I was, I do have to take the medication, and I do need people and especially AA is more primary source of support, which means the reliance on professional and NHS resources is minimal. And actually I do pay my way in AA as we are a fellowship. And in the grand scheme of things for many years I paid a lot of tax and insurance too. So I may not feel guilty and a burden! So it was a good morning for me.
Later that same day
I went to sleep for an hour and woke with a thick head as a consequence, but felt better overall. And so planned to go off to a meeting, not my usual one, another one I used to attend at the beginning of my real recovery two years back. I say my real recovery because I only really got into AA after messing about with it for about 18 months before. In and out like a yoyo, and always fed up and angry at not finding the way to stop hurting myself with a drink.
The Old Curiosity Shop
Is a good way to describe the venue where I ended up last night. And I smile at saying this because it is a curiosity, where the venue is held.
Enough of that though.
I was curious to see how the meeting had changed, some new members? We’ll all practically. And it has been a good eighteen months since I went to this meeting. And it shows how people move around in the fellowship and where they choose to go. Funny, I knew most of the people at the meeting, yet I had no clue they came here on a Friday. So it was a new membership of old faces, with a sprinkling of new and visitors from abroad. Just as it may be.
A great chair and sharing and all of a sudden the meeting was over. Just an hour long now and not what I expected, an hour and a half. And no time for me to share how I felt after the day’s events. Well that’s ok I felt. And was pleased to go to a solid meeting where people talked about their ordinary stuff of life and how to let some light into it. Have a little faith in themselves and the support of the fellowship, and that even after years of fighting depression and the like, there is some sort of life to be had. So it is worth persevering and well worth trying to get on even when the road travelled is black and murky.
I suppose in essence, by expression and getting things out of our systems, we do clean house inside our heads, leaving room to let something in which can be to the good. All good in my own opinion.
It was nearly nine when we all broke up and just time to get to Boots and get my insulin supplies and other meds. I was almost last one out of the chemists, but glad I got it last night, was down to just a few days’ supply.
Or I could have gone for a coffee with others, but it really gets too expensive to be out in a big group and I don’t have the resources to do the going out too much. I know there is pride in me which sort of stops me doing the coffee thing, and that others may pay for it, it still makes me feel a bit less than to say I can‘t afford it. I only go when confident I don’t give up a necessity in the process and can pay my corner.
Not a bad day overall
Mind you the insomnia is another matter, it would be good to get to a better sleep pattern. Rome, not built in a day, or recovery!
And what have I learned overall. That it is ok to test out my judgments on things particular to me. That my judgment is not so far wrong overall. And that overall with a little practical exercise like the flash cards and writing the positives and negatives about my feelings and thoughts, I can start to see and read the balance of what is going on for me. I am glad my psychiatrist suggested it. You know I would have rejected such a suggestion in the past times as beneath me, because it’s so easy and like child’s play. It’s actually a good exercise.
And the fellowship suggests we make a list at night for things to be grateful for. it’s the same thing, doing a list of positives. It need only be one item long, or a hundred. We need just a little positive to make sense when sense it lost so easily as a mind caught in depression is spiralling down not up.
We in our fellowship say "keep it simple", and in my head its always too complicated, until I stick a stake in the ground and stop myself freewheeling into the dark. And that is the nature of depressed thinking and feeling. Whether just a straightforward depression or clinical in nature, it sends us spinning into dark territory. Sometimes we have to go there, but anything which helps find a way out is worth a try, especially when its straight and simple and does not need much to apply it. So I’ll just blinking well do it.
Not so dumb huh? Well not today, maybe, maybe never, as I realise other people’s part in my story. I can own my own crap, I need not own others part in life as well. That’s their job, whoever they were, are, or might be in future.
And as came through loud last night, response is far better than reaction. Reactions happen in the blink of an eye, responses take a bit longer and generally keep us on a middle road of balance. I know, I know it, I better try practicing this too...
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:
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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