September 6 2012 | AA 12 Steps In Action | Step 9 Amends In Action Alcoholics Anonymous Today's AA daily reflection: the "removing threats to sobriety, making amends without further harm" is very difficult. The biggest threat in living is denial of our emotional and spiritual condition where feelings fit the moment of now and the experience of now. My experience is that these words happen quite often, "I can't believe it!" Denial rising and truth fading inside me and around me…
Video For Today:
Denial rising and truth fading, no desire to be open, honest and willing, when we have a crunch point. Figures worse than denial sometimes, goes into keeping secrets from others just in case they may not like us the way we are. We can feel hungry, angry, lonely and tired, but don't want to admit this is so. The crunch point comes, and if we tell the truth about how we feel, even when it feels unacceptable to feel a certain way, expression opens the door to both help and hindrance from those around us… We still need to make decisions and often the best ones come from those who hinder rather than help…
M Scott Peck said, "life is difficult," in his book the road less travelled. And went on to say: that if we can accept that life is difficult it ceases to be an issue. As I was watching TV last night, I was watching something quite horrible. And it made me relate to M Scott Peck, and my quote would be, "life is 'orrible," and when we accept life is " 'orrible," we can be accepting of the truth of where we are right now, ask for help and make it less 'orrible in the moment of now…
'Orrible secrets keep us stuck! Secrets and lies to cover up are usually about not wanting anyone to know where we have failed in an aspect of our lives. Why on Earth would we want to keep secrets? To hold on to something usually, people, places and things and by holding on we are impeding our emotional and spiritual progress not only for ourselves but the people around often. And this is where we can stumble when trying to make amends without doing further harm to ourselves and other people…
A fearless moral inventory in step four, step five sharing the truth, step six seeing where we can revert to old ways and step seven looking to new ways of life. Step eight a list of amends to make and willingness. And then step nine, restitution and making the amends: it needs careful consideration and not harming anyone further… I don't know the answers for you, often the answers come through time and applying ourselves to step nine and often reality provides the impetus, the drive to make the amend whenever possible…
Threats to my sobriety? Forgetfulness, not keeping connected to fellowship, not willing, not honest and not able to be open about the truth of my true situation. I try to remember steps one to three, powerlessness and unmanageability, the insanity of the same old same old, let go the old ways and stick with the new ways day by day, the serenity prayer and practising these principles especially when there are crunch points and challenges occurring pretty much every day, dealing with the good, the bad and the ugly…
September 2005 ~ 2011
Risk? What if I was to tell you the truth and you don’t like it? Am I in possession of the truth, or just my opinion and belief? I can misjudge, misinform, make mistakes and not progress when I exclude you from my understandings… Truth is revealed when we speak up today…
Breaking habits of a life time? Now a life time is one day long... "another day above ground is a miracle" said the man in the street walking his dog. I saw my neighbour yesterday, on my way out to the market. I had not seen him for months, as I have been away from regular meetings with injuries this year. He is in the fellowship as are hundreds of people in my neighbourhood. My neighbourhood; where the richest people in the world live, and also the poorest, from any background, colour and creed. So many in fellowships in my neighbourhood to keep sober and live happy lives, whatever our circumstances, fellowships are always free. Addiction has no boundaries and affects anyone who is susceptible, alcohol, drugs, substances and behaviour. In fellowship, with one purpose, prejudice and background is put aside, often lost and forgotten as we learn to love, be loved and useful again. We become human as we become sober and learn to value all life if we are so inclined. Indeed the only prejudice we have becomes addiction itself.
The man and his dog, no one else in the street knows of the years in sobriety and need never know as fellowship provides anonymity. But hundreds know all the same. Anonymity is the sanctuary to find truth, love and wisdom from others and ourselves, one day at a time. Some suggest god is truth, love and wisdom we learn from others. I am happy with this starting point and truth, love and wisdom is my higher power. I need truth love and wisdom to keep sober, a very cool outlook for me today.
And good conscience prevails as we become sober if we are inclined, self-harm and harming others pulls us down as surely as any addiction. As we make amends as we go, when we find ourselves in troubled moments, truth will always set us on the right course of action today. Open, honest and willing, sober offers hardship joy and sadness, as life is and not some fantasy we may have lived in the past. Sober for today, means I give life my best shot, no promises, simply reality and life on life's terms today...
2010 ~ AA Steps and philosophy; freedom to make good choices. Letting go old ways and outlooks, and giving up our secrecy about our drinking. We learn in fellowship we need never pick up a drink again. Learning news and outlooks, we stop self-harm, and stop harm done. We make amends as we can and by how we live today...
2010 ~ AA life a day at a time; out of the problem and into the solution. We start with 90 meetings in 90 days, a commitment to new living, and sober. Sometimes quickly we feel we are on the right path, sometimes slowly and sometimes we stumble, and we keep coming back as sober sticks, and life improves just for today...
AA Daily Reflections ~ "Removing threats to sobriety... except when to do so would injure them or others [big book]
Step Nine restores in me a feeling of belonging, not only to the human race but also to the everyday world. First, the Step makes me leave the safety of A.A., so that I may deal with non-A.A. people “out there,” on their terms. It is a frightening but necessary action if I am to get back into life. Second, Step Nine allows me to remove threats to my sobriety by healing past relationships. Step Nine points the way to a more serene sobriety by letting me clear away past wreckage, lest it bring me down."
Step Nine Reading
Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
How It Works
Although these reparations take innumerable forms, there are some general principles which we find guiding. Reminding ourselves that we have decided to go to any lengths to find a spiritual experience, we ask that we be given strength and direction to do the right thing, no matter what the personal consequences may be. We may lose our position or reputation or face jail, but we are willing. We have to be. We must not shrink at anything.
-A.A. Big Book p.79
After we have made a list of people we have harmed, have reflected carefully upon each instance, and have tried to possess ourselves of the right attitude in which to proceed, we will see that the making of direct amends divides those we should approach into several classes. There will be those who ought to be dealt with just as soon as we become reasonably confident that we can maintain our sobriety. There will be those to whom we can make only partial restitution, lest complete disclosures do them or others more harm than good. There will be other cases where action ought to be deferred, and still others in which by the very nature of the situation we shall never be able to make direct personal contact at all. - Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 83
September 6th 2006 [All About Last Year]
Fool on the Hill
I feel that maybe me..
Hi KT, its really good to know we see the world as is, its very difficult to remove all filters and get on with real life, as real as it ever is and see the world spinning round.
I really do understand those feelings you mention, fear is always there just below the surface. Actually I reckon its not the fear of relapse most of the time, its often we understand the world too well and the fear is we know outcomes for others and ourselves and we have no permissions to help others. Relapse is often out of frustration I feel, our equal sized presence does not undermine our gift of foresight and predictions. Prophecy can be a real hindrance to wise folks.
The SAD’s lurk always in me too, so I realise keeping myself in the day and acceptance help. Wisdom is really a multifaceted part of us and sometimes leads to depressive episodes. Knowing too much and the gifts it brings means we must let go often, and let the world turn to its own rhythm, and afford others the luxury of learning their wisdom too. We need turn our attention to our part in our doings, love the people we love and be mindful wisdom cannot always be heard or understood by others until their experience enables understanding.
Any endeavour, and a course which leads to new experience is a good and healthy way forward. We can always bail out if we need. And as long as those around us understand where we are, then the endeavour is endorsed and understood. Nothing is ever in stone, or concrete, we can break free again and regroup as we know now wisdom allows for us to U turn if need be. We can make our choices and remake them by the day or hour or month, or even after years. There is no shame in endeavour in all elements of living or realising we may have been heading in the direction most appropriate only to find we have gone completely the wrong way. Smiles here your post helped understand some things about me again too.
In the olden days
In medieval courts, long before the Beatles and the Fool on the Hill, the court jester or "fool" was someone who was not expected to follow the same rules as others. A Fool could observe and then poke fun, the Fool unpredictable and full of surprises, sometimes the conscience, the seer who cajoles truth and consequences. And like the Fool of old, trusting that each will find their way with a little guidance, with faith in the good of all.
I reckon the role of Fool was mine, often, too innocent and full of joy. I could be a real pain as I could see the consequences and futures and possibilities. I always trusted to my judgment until it was undermined and lost to a hard time where all judgment was tainted by others maladies and left me corrupted by their misdeeds and treatment of me. I lost my natural and common sense understanding of life and took solace in oblivion.
I think the modern term is nervous breakdown?
Anyways I had one of them, a nervous breakdown, followed by years of darkest depressions. Actually more than one, indeed as the last few years has severely tested my perceptions. With hindsight I find that my perceptions and judgments in sober living are not wrong or ever were. The capacity of others to bend truth through their needs and wants is staggering.
Confidence to be Ourselves
I watched a lot of Newsnight on Beeb Two, all about the leadership stuff with Mr Blair, and also a powerful discussion with Claire Short. I feel like I have a lot in common with Claire Short and you can work the rest out I reckon. Knowing the realities helps not one jot does it? Or does it when we understand our gift of being merely the equal of others. If we are equal we can get on with our own stuff and stop caretaking people and being the moral compass other than for ourselves.
Back to me and my Breakdowns
So I have had some, and it reminds me that when I had a breakdown in the last big career job, the company Doctor intimated in his confidential report I would never perform in the job as before, ever again. I can remember the reading of those words and my denial was overwhelming that I had been damaged so. And years later I was able to see the Doctor was right. And so ending a fantastic run in big career success. Success by the way, I could not see for years and years no matter what people might have said, and my shame and guilt over my mental collapse was, is with me forever in some form. After all I had never learned the real meaning of failure or how to cope with it, writ large and for all the world who mattered to my career to see.
However, there ‘s no Fool like an old Fool
And I am smiling writing this down, for the complete nervous breakdown had some benefits. The benefit of enabling depression to be experienced, the slide into ignominy and then later into alcoholism. And then recovery! So much to my surprise I find myself on the path of restoration. What does not kill us makes us stronger? Not so, we end up different and with new wisdoms. And we have a healthy fear in the main, coupled with bravery and courage to start another day. Open, honest and willing, progress not perfection.
I am an old fool sometimes and still hold to those values which make me see the good in others and discount their lesser qualities. it’s a part of me, the eternal optimist and supporter of anyone who applies endeavour and needs a helping hand. It is in me, as is my fantastic perception of living and consequences. I read people well and then to my detriment often help where no help or contact is a better outcome.. It has always been so. Now however I am learning the balance of when disconnection and moving on and letting go are more appropriate.
Lost, Undermined and Reclaimed - my understanding of people
You know its easy for us to hope for the best and place our trust in expert power. I had let myself be bamboozled and let my own perceptions slide as times in depression don’t lend themselves to self belief. And this neatly brings me on to yesterday. And of course a meeting.
Seeing specialists at the hospital, connection to greater wisdom through the fellowship, and especially some sessions, one to one with my psychiatrist and a psychologist, has helped me get some perspective so sadly lost for a long time. And a realisation that I have not been wrong about much of what I have seen. Just shocked and completely unable to respond to life by fatigue and depressions beyond my control. Through all this I, like most who experience it, we don’t lose our gift of intellect or feelings, in fact they are more acute. We just cannot deal with our own pain and often pain of those nearest to us. We are disabled by life so raw it sets off a scream inside best depicted by the artist Edmund Munch in his work "the scream".
Belief in People
Yesterday, this fool on the hill was sitting perfectly still, wondering about a friend. And as with all things modern we have instant opportunities to send a message, which I did. And you know its an instinctive reaction to cave in to concerns for people we know and love. And know full well we are better leaving some people we know and love to get on with their lives. Yet the reaction was there and so I did send a kind and supportive text via the mobile. Man!
And that was in the morning. And with all things where nature tells me to be caring and supportive anyway, I did not expect any reply, certainly not instantly. Mind you, this old fool on the hill, smiles here, saw the sun going down and then got a reply. Half hoping it was a text unconnected to my earlier foolish folly, like a reminder to put some money in my phone account, it was reply to my earlier missive of concern and general bonhomie.
In my easy good humoured friendliness or largesse of earlier, I opened the door again. And with an enquiry for a chat later, thought nothing more about it, on my way to a meeting.
Before the Meeting
I had been foolhardy Monday night and got overtired with things. And then during the day, now yesterday, I had got stuck on a bus going nowhere fast, got off and walked home. Another error of judgment, so yours truly had feet on fire or as I quaintly put it, "my dogs are barking". Now I know its neuropathy and the medication will work when I get the dose right. Well it does not make it easier right now. And right now they are giving me gyp.
So arriving early with biscuits from Sainsbury’s on the way, I was early and had a great few minutes chatting with another fellow about life and just ordinary stuff. As the hour arrives for the meeting, there are lots of faces I know. We settle and the chair person makes their share on experience strength and hope.
I am transported back a couple of years or more
Sharing evokes feelings in me, happy times and sometimes a return to living nightmares. On this occasion it was a return to times I will never forget in rehab. Rehab for me? I think I mentioned I went for an assessment at the hospital to check how mad I was when I left as a self discharged client after a few months, and I had done my term. They wanted me to stay on, I could not stay another minute in their regime. And the assessment outcome was that rehab was not my way to recovery, that AA was in fact my path best taken. And it has proved to be the case.
It can be the best thing for a person or the worst thing, but who are we to know when we have endured untold torture before we get there and our senses are shot to bits? I had no clue what rehab was really. Or that many who get there have been there before and know how to play the game of least resistance and least trouble and pain. For some as I say, the rehab will be the best thing that ever happens and they find their way, one in three makes it and goes on to sober living. Not good odds. Or for me, I was not one of the one in three.
My feelings suddenly came back full force in rehab. Not my good feelings, they were lost and submerged by rehab activities and exercises. My bad feelings about life and living were provoked and came to the fore. These feelings were provoked daily by all kinds of exercises to highlight our characters and our defects. My defects of feeling were never really experiencing my sad, my ill temper, my anger and rage at life. All these feelings came out in abundance, after all they had been suppressed since childhood days. If ever a regime was geared to help a person manifest feelings this rehab was worthy of a gold star. Unfortunately for them, the rehab counsellors, they are the resident powers that be (Romans 13:1. 'Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: The powers that be are ordained of God.') although they had mastered the art of provocation and enabling feelings to come out, they had not the wit, skill or time to help me really sort out my stuff. Me, a trained counsellor in the past, I could not get to grips with what was going on till too late, and better judgment led to me leaving later rather than sooner, the streets were far better for me. And consequently, and in my own humble opinion, their success rate of one in three to sobriety is remarkable, it might have been a lot less and often is when statistics reflect the truth. A hapless and questionable endeavour made so by their own view of their expert power in their field, rather than the reality. They tried to do too much in a short space of time.
Feelings and Fellowship
And you know I am a lucky son of a gun. Because the fellowship programme really helps us deal with our feelings. Sticking to the fellowship and just going to meetings helps us get back our confidence and esteem. It takes as much time as we have with our feelings, we cannot fix them or make them other than they are. We need time to work them out and express them, not reactively, unless spontaneity is key, but most often in a responsive way with a bit of thought in them.
I learned after my rehab trauma that as we get feelings back, we humans feel as anyone can, all of what life offers and we are all capable of anything until we have checks and balances in place. We can feel everything and do, we can feel love and the opposite, and we just darn well need to learn what to do with our feelings which are beyond our control.
And I shared my feelings had been sorely tested of late with assessments of me by powers that be, needing to know my relative well being. And those assessments had been erroneously founded on misinformation. And as a consequence I had been left full of rage. My way to deal with it, not to react or lash out, but to respond and share my feelings in meetings till the power ebbed out of them and I could see the picture true sized as a result. That in reality I had the feelings, and still do to an extent, now placed in a bigger context of my life and living and no longer rage, but adequate anger. So in future, when the same happens again, I can manage the whole affair better in my own way, responding and not reacting or acting out.
And I also shared how lucky I am to be here at all, thanks to modern science and the recovery programme. I never fail to see the significance that I would have been dead long ago if interventions had not been there to help me recover. Its true and not to be forgotten. I was feeling drained by the end, sharing these unpalatable truths about my feelings being so out of ‘whack‘, and needing to work on them rather than suppress them, well glad I can and not turn to oblivion as I have before.
Going Home and confidence and esteem
Going home was good, long enough for my head to settle down. Sharing my deepest feelings and not my best side of character, well who wants to? I know though I have found out how human I am. But for the grace of "good conscience", taught me by exemplars in my life, anyone including me can be provoked beyond the pale to unacceptable behaviour. And the fellowship helps me rebuild confidence and esteem and how to respond well to all situations.
And I reflect its an everyday thing, we never stop learning or we get stuck and lose our way. And this is good to know.
Texts sent reactively
And I also reflect on the odds of my friend calling as promised. Not that good…
Home and Bed
I got home and made some dinner, with a weather eye to keeping my blood sugar the same. It can be done, some foods don’t make sugar levels go all over, they just seem to release enough sustenance to make living ok, and insulin injections small doses.
It was a judgment thing whether my friend would call and fortunately I did not hold my breath. And much later a text saying how sorry they were to have been caught up in another matter and maybe a call back today. Well most likely they will today.
And to matters of Judgment
Hmm, I am still pondering on judgment. It is all very well being able to predict and be a smart ass fool on the hill, seeing and being part of this world spinning round. It does not change how we feel when we know we are not that significant or we are unapproachable or there is something which precludes friendship from others, as its just that way. I know this too well and accept where things are and my feelings too. I need not react as if I am less than, or more than am, just an equal and finding my way, as does my friend. And so let go and make room for friendship as it may be. And most likely from elsewhere in this particular time and situation. Let it be…
And now. With a weather eye to my next steps, its Wednesday and the morning dawn broke a few minutes ago. Sleep has been missing, I woke from "a nightmare in rehab", thankful it was a dream and not a reality. I recalibrated by feelings to where response helps and reactions would hinder all well being. I understand my consequences are shaped by me.
And confidence and esteem come from my continued journey a day at a time. Sometimes backwards, then forwards, just as life deals and we take our risks and live our hard knocks...
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