September 22 2012 | AA 12 Steps In Action | Step 9 Amends In Action Alcoholics Anonymous Today's AA daily reflection: "the limitless lode of truth and hope one day at a time…" When I share with a newcomer, "what happened, the journey and where I am today" I'm not surprised just how often I hear "it seems like it's okay for you now, but what about me!" Without the spiritual principles of the programme I can get very frustrated and very quickly feel like giving up and revert to, "yes, what about me, you ungrateful newcomer today!"
Video For Today:
The spiritual principles which I need remind myself to practice every day with everyone: to live life "real" ~ "Forgiveness" "Acceptance" "Surrender" "Faith" "Open-mindedness" "Honesty" "Willingness" "Inventory" "Amends" "Humility" "Persistence" "Spiritual-Living" "Service." First principle I need to remind myself of today is forgiveness. I forgive everyone everywhere everything as my starting point or I will be overwhelmed when people criticise me and don't get where I am coming from today…
Forgiveness: starts with me, the twelve steps and twelve traditions helped to straighten me out so I could see where I came from, the abject misery of addiction into recovery. All the things I did along the way based on trying to fix life for myself and for those around me were completely distorted and in the end addiction was the master and I was the slave. As I have old behaviour still haunting from time to time, when I start with forgiveness and why those old ways can still come back at me, I need to forgive those closest sometimes when they feel like giving up on other people and some when they stop forgiving can revert to old hurts and horrors…
That was then and this is now: "forgiveness and acceptance is necessary for however long we head back to denial as a starting point on any given day" how do we share our journey with family, are our family interested in how we recovered and anyone we still have in our lives? And as we were unable to find recovery on our own we cannot expect family and friends and any significant others to understand what they have gone through as a direct result of our behaviour and it is no wonder that we often find ourselves in fear and trying to defend the past. I found out some time after I got to recovery that my mother and my sister had been in contact with Al anon, and thank goodness they did. How could they manage their pain about me on their own…?
Then there is: "forgiveness, acceptance and a surrender to the truth of today and how it is." Surrendering to the truth of today, the old times, "that was then," and today, "this is now." Very many people in our lives will still be stuck in the history of what happened back then and they will remind us constantly and sometimes with a burning rage inside them, I saw this in my mother many times and it was about me, it was about my dad and it was about my brother, seeing a disease rampant in the generations. I realise forgiveness is a daily endeavour for anyone and sometimes surrender to the truth is very difficult when a person has not yet expressed their rage about the past and the impact on the innocent that the disease of addiction inflicts arbitrarily on everyone…
When the lid comes off from those we have hurt, it can be the most painful of experiences for everyone. The judgement and the prejudice digs deepest at those primary emotions of love and hate. In recovery we are no strangers to those feelings of self-loathing and self-hate, self-harm and self-prejudice. And when the weapon of the past is inflicted over and over we can crumble in abject misery, anger and hateful feelings we try to avoid and we live a justifiable horror and an injustice and resentment can hurt so deeply it may as well be a spear through the heart. As we could not recover on our own, it is the same for those who suffered with us through those tragic years, they too need help if and when they ask for it from us… Or anyone else they choose!
How am I feeling, why and what to do... When I ask myself how am I feeling, whatever the emotion I then know what is influencing my thinking. If I feel happy joyous and free, my thinking is optimistic. If I feel fearful, the need to pretend to be okay and some guilt and shame, then my thinking will be more pessimistic today. Step six when I feel fear inhibits me somewhat. Step seven with faith and courage, I feel everything will be okay no matter what happens today... feel right and think right today?
At sixes and sevens: meaning a state of total confusion and disorder, or of disagreement between parties. Interesting that this old phrase fits with the steps, step six and step seven. We do need enough fear to be careful, we do need enough faith to keep on going in times of uncertainty. Enough doubt to keep sharp, enough confidence to see us through the unknown. We can be at sixes and sevens with ourselves as well as everyone around us...
A resolve to end old thinking patterns and old behaviour is encompassed in step nine as we make amends. Daily we live the steps, in six letting go old fears, brave facing and brittle ego, in seven developing our courage faith and esteem and the possible today. Each day is new, gratitude lists and step tens help us live truth and hope today
Like a gaunt prospector in olden days... desperate and lost, digging deeper and deeper into despair a drink in hand and lost to humanity. Today, less gaunt, more alive, more maladies with age and happier in this moment than I have ever been, even life is harsh and can be desolate, today there is always truth and hope as it may be...
AA Daily Reflections ~ "A limitless lode... like a gaunt prospector, belt drawn in over the last ounce of food, our pick struck gold. Joy at our release from a lifetime of frustration knew no bounds. Father feels he has struck something better than gold. For a time he may try to hug the new treasure to himself. He may not see at once that he has barely scratched a limitless lode which will pay dividends only if he mines it for the rest of his life and insist on giving away the entire product. Alcoholics Anonymous Pages 128 & 129
When I talk with a newcomer to A.A., my past looks me straight in the face. I see the pain in those hopeful eyes, I extend my hand, and then the miracle happens: I become healed. My problems vanish as I reach out to this trembling soul."
Spiritual principles to live life "real" ~ "Forgiveness" "Acceptance" "Surrender" "Faith" "Open-mindedness" "Honesty" "Willingness" "Inventory" "Amends" "Humility" "Persistence" "Spiritual-Living" "Service"
September 22 2007
DonInLondon - ‘Day In the Life’ Irony for me Powerless
Today This Year And Last Year
As you will see from my words last year at this date, I was pretty set to give a presentation to an NHS Trust Conference on what helped me find sobriety.
It was a whole lot of interventions which made my recovery possible and a willingness in me to have a go. As everything had failed including me I had nothing to lose and everything to gain from taking advice and getting along with suggestions made to me.
And it’s no surprise to me that life can be dogged by so many hang ups from the past. I had a lot to sort out on a day by day process and let go drinking for good. Or as we suggest in AA, just for a day.
At worlds End we were back to the first step of the AA suggestions, that we are powerless over alcohol and our lives have become unmanageable.
An admission most fight to the bitter end and often death. Indeed addiction is a quick way to check out if we get caught in the trap. Or it may be slow and horrible with drink as I found, and death was too close on too many occasions as I look back.
So step one and hearing another’s experience strength and hope helped me make sense of my journey too. A speaker with 20 years sobriety today, just a day at a time. And how? Just through suggestions and choices, living with care and find fellowship of course. Love and laughter come along too as we realise our folly, find friendship and how to live as a human being again and not a thing that drinks and makes mess everywhere, physically, emotionally and spiritually!
So for me this was a good day, I saw my sister as well and shared some time just chatting about the day. And for me I am glad to be of support, well just about I hope, to be there to chat and share recent times and the tragedy of her loss of her partner of near two decades. Sorrow and grief are hard indeed.
So today it was right to be here, to be part of something far bigger than me, to have some purpose. And to learn more about living and making life work. Just small steps and then big discoveries. Well big to me, about who I am and what may follow. I have no big answers these days, just observations and sharing, and experience and wisdom follows in my fellowship.
Resistance and Denial
I am human though and know the powerless nature of addiction for me, it is so easy to be persuaded that recovery is complete and we are recovered and able to drink again. Few are able or sure they are right in their path back to drink. But we do get our choices back when we remain sober. I can ask myself a simple question, how would drink improve my life today, with all the risks involved? Drink will not improve my outlook, my feelings, or anything else, just make me medicate life away. So I am happily powerless over alcohol and know it would lead back to an unmanageable life, so why bother?
I don’t need prove anything to anyone, and need not feel less than for being in recovery from the hardest tortures I have ever known. And it works just for today, no more or less. And in fellowship we find experience strength and hope where we feel lost and then found.
September 22nd 2006
Who’s Sorry Now?
What a day, it was full and long. And there is something odd changing in me again. After months it seems of not sleeping, chronic insomnia, the last three nights I am sleeping about 4 hours at a time. And it’s really peculiar to sleep so long all at once. Don’t figure as they say. I feel sorta guilty for being asleep and certainly feeling a bit better about life. Why guilty? Don’t know.
After my last post, I had a bit of work to do for a conference I have been invited to attend run by the NHS, in my capacity as a service user, the name we patients have given us by the government. We are all service users of the NHS by the way.
What it is like to be in Group Therapy - Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
That’s what I am going to talk about. I have found it really helpful, and it helped me keep on my rocky road of recovery from alcoholism. I owe the NHS and their staff big time for helping me get into recovery from a killer disease. As much as anything the early days of fear and overwhelming confusion were made easier with their support. Gratitude is enormous and helps me overcome my worries about speaking in public, and I will no doubt be shaking in my boots when I go to do this conference next week.
Up to Soho and the Alcohol Treatment Service for the meeting
Yes I went off to Soho on the tube. It was hot yesterday and the slightly smelly tube was full of baking people, me included. But it’s good to be out and not stuck inside with my head. I had a free voucher for coffee from a friend, so I could enjoy a few minutes in Café Nero in Frith Street. It’s expensive usually, so being out and sitting just having a coffee is great. I watch the world going by. And it’s good to see women in their summer outfits and makes me grateful to appreciate beauty! If I could paint I would. If only I had my camera, I could take a few pictures of people and places, it’s just that late summer sun and warmth we get sometimes. And I love it.
And so up the road, past Ronnie Scott’s nightclub, a place I used to go to in another life, and to the NHS. My head is full of memories of those of us who went through the service and still are around, and some who came along and did not make it into recovery and died. Bitter sweet memories.
Anyway it’s a good meeting and I suddenly realise that the conference is very near. And my words will be on a presentation given by the NHS. And I’ll be speaking. I want to, I don’t want to, it’s a nervous thing, I will though’.
After I go sit in Soho Square. Warm and sunny. And more people resting in between work and playing a while. People reading and me sitting and thinking. It’s good to be outside and connected to life again. I wandered into Oxford St, and a friend calls me on the mobile and we chat a while as I perch on a shop front. Thousands going by and a quite serious chat helping a friend who is wondering how they might get out of their house sometime. And there I am, out.
Home on the smelly old tube, it gets worse as the day gets longer and people get riper. People are frazzled as they travel and it must be close to 90 degrees in the tunnels. And back home for a few minutes, to get my AA book and go to the evening meeting.
And then out again on the Tube. Down to Sloane sq. and Chelsea and the Kings Road, on my way to the meeting.
Who’s Sorry Now?
And it’s a step meeting in our fellowship. Where we talk about a practical Step to our fellowship programme. It’s this one, step nine:
"Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others."
And we have our speaker and we all settle down to listen about doing and living step nine of the programme. And we realise it’s a simple thing to do- NOT! Smiles here, and a grimace, because how do we catalogue our wrong doings and then find the people to make amends to? Well step eight is listing the things we did wrong as alcoholics and this one step nine, is then finding the people and saying we are sorry and doing whatever it takes to make things right, without hurting them anymore.
And we hear sometimes it’s easy and mostly it is hard. Because we have moved around a lot as other people have. And even when we find them, will they want to listen to us as we make our amends whatever that involves?
And we hear practical examples, some very hard and some very long, and some which just make us want to cringe, because we see how bad we may have behaved and what we might do to make amends.
It’s a very moral programme after all, and it’s about getting our house back in order, and doing the right things in our recovery. Making sure we will pay back as best we can whatever it might be. And try do this with good conscience. Whatever it takes.
So we hear the worst and best of amends. And that’s anonymous business and it’s not for telling ever. But I see my part in things, and realise I am willing to make any amends I might need make. And own my part in history. My biggest problem is awareness of the things I have done and to who, for often we hurt people by our old behaviour and putting right those things is difficult, but again I am willing to do whatever it takes. And own my part in life. I need accept others will not be forgiving of this recovering alcoholic, and accept also others may not wish to revisit the past. I accept all that.
And then as planned I meet up with a friend and another one smiles, as we go for a cuppa, and chat about things. We talk about Stephen Fry and his documentary on depression he has. it’s the one I need see and have missed. But I listen and hear how we are dealing with our depressive ailments and link what the BBC programme uncovers. And we see much in what is said applies to us, not quite as severe, but close enough to realise we are lucky indeed to be AA fellows.
After all, AA has been around so long no one realises much of the programme is focussed on cognitive behavioural therapy techniques. We are just a fellowship full of the wisdom and experience of decades doing therapy and working to good conscience and making life work! Smiles I am indeed fortunate to have found the NHS part which helped me and then joined in with AA around the same time. Both work and I work with the guidance they bring to my life. From isolation and fear, to inclusion and integration, just a little bit a day at a time.
Smiles again, for indeed at the end of the day, after doing ordinary things, its complete. As well as blood sugar tests, injections, taking my meds as stipulated and my kind of therapy, life is working gradually and it felt ok.
I still ache and hurt from head to foot from just a simple bike ride of a few minutes two days ago, but what the heck. And my eyes are a bit out of focus and fatigue was pretty heavy on me. My feet complain, but they will get by as long as I am careful and don’t push it today? They really do "bark", I slept four hours, and that’s magic. And this morning? Blood sugar is ok at 5.9, I can function ok. The rain has been falling lightly, my head is all vague. I am able to get started again and look out, and not be imprisoned by depression as before. A good if foggy head, and practical start to another day.
And on reflection, from being completely imprisoned by fear of living to being able to step out and do some plain ordinary things, I am indeed grateful to the NHS. And on-going to every fellow in AA, who puts themselves out, as I do now, to help and do whatever it takes, to help anyone anywhere, as best we can, just a day at a time. A community and fellowship all over the place, always and just a handshake away.
I watched Question time near the end and then This week on the BBC before going to bed. What chaos we are living in these days, mind you it’s always been this way, and so the world turns. And my head spins…
Funny Weird Amends
When I saw my Brother on Tuesday, I did an amends. I mentioned we had chatted for an hour or so and then on the way back to the Tube Station at Earls Court, somehow he recalled an incident where I was sort of at fault, well I was actually,
He asked me about the time back in 1966, when I locked him in a hotel toilet in Norway. I did remember the incident, and said I was truly sorry about that. I still don’t think he believes it was accidental. I had turned off a light on my way out in the corridor, and he was inside the main part washing his hands. I had no idea it turned all the lights out, and there were no windows. He got stuck in the dark. I got a good wallop on my head from my Dad for it.
We were just kids at the time, but it stuck as a memory. Mainly because I was wearing a hat, under which I had a load of sweets stashed. They spilled across the hotel lobby floor as my Dad clonked me. A harsh moment of shame for me, for what I did to my Brother and the smack and sweet spilling incident, shamed and punished publicly in front of everyone. I can still remember it as clear as day. Shame and injustice and pain. Not good memories, or for my brother who was really stuck and very unhappy. It’s so funny to look back and the tragedy is it’s still with us 40 years on, hopefully to be forgotten? Not now it’s here I fear. But the amends is done!
Soho Alcohol Treatment Service
Don Oddy - Service User
Abstinence - Relapse Prevention - Life Skills
Alcoholics like me isolate ourselves from the world. Our outlook has diminished and we prefer to keep ourselves to ourselves. We don’t want interference or anything to get in the way of our desire to drink. We are out of control and we don’t have an "off" switch. We know we are ill with drink, yet we cannot stop and no amount of persuasion or our will power will stop us.
We are fortunate indeed if we make it to any service which might help us deal with our addiction and our inability to cope with life.
After detox and 1:1 counselling - Group Therapy is an option
Introduction to Group Work as a concept by a Counsellor
How it worked for Me
Confidential Group Activity to get to know others with the same problem
That we have the same problem, but we are individuals with differing life experience
We can learn from each other how to make the best of the day and the week between each group session
Focus on daily activities
Risks we encounter trying to be sober
Getting to know we don’t have to face this alone
How and Where to get help, either from each other or outside help out of office hours
Reference to what most of us found helpful like AA and other ways to keep in the loop with other people
Avoiding the loneliness of trying to beat this addiction on our own
The whole process is helpful keeping us connected to a group with the same problem, not focussing on the problem as such just how to keep ourselves involved in life, with new connections or family or others who can help
Coming back if we have a lapse is key rather than hiding out in shame and guilt
That life actually works without a drink inside us to alleviate our fears
Relapse Prevention Group
Introduction to this group activity by a counsellor. That it was to develop strategies and tactics to help stop me from relapsing back into drinking. A structured and thorough course to help provide the "tools to keep sober"
I feel the aim was to help me have enough self-awareness to keep myself sober, the necessary awareness to understand the day to day dangers any alcoholic faces, and how relapse is often the end result of a lot of smaller events leading us back into our addiction. We don’t necessarily plan a relapse consciously, but we do definitely have a mind-set which helps us press the "fuck it" button (service user term for permission to drink). I understand why we are called service users by the way, as some of us alcoholics might feel a bit sore at being termed "alcoholics" in our early days of recovery. I don’t give a darn anymore!
Why people relapse in early days, as we feel more in control and this is our dangerous time when we feel we might be ok again
How we need to identify high risk situations which any alcoholic might find attractive and helpful towards relapse
Warning signs like emotional states, conflicts with people/family, and social pressures from events and seasonal things
Hope to cope with high risk situations, it’s not just the one high risk we might face it could be a series
The dangers of going back to old Haunts and Places where we felt secure and in control. It’s always when we feel we are in control we are most likely at risk
Practical Exercises to help identify risks and what we can do to get us back to safety
Understanding our own Denial of Risk
Understanding our own Denial of our Disease
Understanding our own Risk triggers, certain people, places and memories
What I learned
By the end of the programme I understood the relapse process as a part of my living. How to be aware of relapse risks and cope with my thirsty nature. And how to spot my denial about high-risk situations, and to know what makes me have urges and cravings to old behaviour and drinking. Like sorrow and anger and fear. Above all how to stop feeling thirsty!
And what to do if I made a mistake, limit the risk of total relapse back into my old drinking. How not to beat myself up for not being perfect and get "back on the wagon" to minimise the consequences, which in some cases ended in some of my fellow group members dying of their relapse.
And also how to keep on coming back after a relapse, the most difficult thing to overcome is the failure of what seems so simple for ordinary people, to keep sober. And feel we are allowed to continue in our treatment of our addiction even when we have relapsed.
Above all how to find a style of living which works, has some balance and helps us deal with the bad things and the good things in life.
Overcoming my Difficulties
With people, my situation, my age, my own behaviour, other illnesses as well as my addiction, depressions and anxieties, loss of job/people/old life, trauma's I have had and my fundamental shift in my lifestyle. And getting out of the drinking culture, and isolation.
Life Skills Group
The Equal of the First two group Activities and often misunderstood. Life Skills is a generic term often bandied about these days, and there are many practitioners out there who are not really clued up to deliver Life Skills.
The Life Skills Group
On-going group activity similar to abstinence group, and more focussed on daily living after abstinence has been established
A weekly review of progress against intentions of members of the group
Brainstorming what is working and what is hindering our progress back into daily life
Our fears and successes, our concerns and our worries
What we can do next to avoid the isolation so often felt starting life afresh with sobriety as our goal and a way back into living life to the full
Acceptance of our situation, the limits we may have
How we are progressing, checking in with our group members
Working out what to do next
Being realistic in our aims
Focussed on our day at a time mentality
Progression and not perfection
Dealing with good experiences, and bad experiences
Dealing with our feelings, our situations and our dangers
Making simple plans, not being too ambitious
Making do in reduced circumstances
Making do with our limitations
Finding that elusive balance in life and not letting the bad days drag us so far down we relapse
Where to find help and always keep away from our best clue to relapse, isolated thinking and feeling!
Just For Today, cherish always…
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
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