September 9 2012 | AA 12 Steps In Action | Step 9 Amends In Action Alcoholics Anonymous Today's AA daily reflection: "change… Sometimes quickly and sometimes slowly, sometimes a back step in order to go forwards…" In life, making progress is not always as we may assume in our emotional spiritual development. We still have to cope with reality and everything everyone experiences. Sometimes like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, sometimes our toes burning in the embers of the old life…
Video For Today:
Step nine is the continuation of clearing the wreckage of the past by making the amends where possible to anyone we have harmed and not causing further harm. The primary amends is a change in outlook, the change in our ability to deal with our emotions and cope with reality today. In our new living what is stressed all the way through the principles of the fellowship is humility to keep on learning and change direction when needed and not to see change in direction as failure, simply adapting to new life situations and circumstances…
When I see a newcomer in meetings, angry and frustrated and not able to accept that the days of drink may be finally over, a bit like a contract with the devil, looking for the detail where there may be a get out clause. Newcomers can easily reject help and support when people with the best of intentions tell a newcomer what the best way to keep sober may be. Suggestions, not instructions: No single human force will keep another sober, and the newcomer can be very flattering, singling out you or me to be the saviour, we know it doesn't work, it takes everyone in fellowship to keep the newcomer sober…
Newcomers need newcomers, men and women near the same starting point in recovery, and middle timers and old timers who are on the path of destiny one day at a time. Each of us with a unique perspective, and still identification in all respects to everyone is how the program succeeds one day at a time. The diversity of every human being helps the newcomer, not one single force, not one particular sponsor, not one particular interpretation of recovery. I realised early on after many relapses, usually a Sunday morning after a meeting that I was still trying to find that one person with the right idea so I could follow it. And in the end I found out I needed to keep on asking for help every day for the rest of my life, inside or outside fellowship, and let go the idea of a right way or no way…
As the song goes, "I promised you a miracle…" Miracles do not have conditions, and in this current world of measuring people and the virtues of perfection, there are few miracles for the common man. The fact that I am still on my emotional and spiritual journey with all the aspects of life that I encounter, good, bad and ugly, and sober one day at a time is the miracle which offers progress for me. To continue to learn how to love unconditionally, how to be loved back unconditionally and useful in whatever capacity is possible one day at a time…
We live in the moment, no getting away with this truth. Our whole history manifests in how we experience today. We do not forget, memory helps us to experience life on life's terms, reality not fantasy. And yet fantasy and dreams inspire and motivate us to live. Grief comes and goes, deepens every emotion and we evolve as human beings. Love, be loved and useful? Yes we can, each and every day... cherish always
The fourth dimension is time. Being rocketed into the fourth dimension, to the here and now may imply we let go of being stuck in old ways, old habits and experiences relived over and over in our minds. The usefulness of any vessel is in its emptiness means as we let go, we make room for the new. We do not shut the door on the past, a life story reminds us always of what we can and cannot do today, and the wisdom to know the difference...
Save me from myself! I want to be right and happy. And in the past I thought everyone wanted to be right and happy. A lot of time spent finding out the right path, the right answers and getting everyone to go along with my plans? Or was this self-righteousness, being right about everything and then imposing my views on every situation. Rarely did it make others happy. And then a loss of direction, thrown this way and that, awash and then beached over and over again. Hard economics made me work at many things which were not always of my choosing. An underlying fear of being found out and not up to scratch, always made me strive hard for success and approval in every element of living. Our cultures are riddled with manipulations in the world of work, business and these ways hit our personal lives too. Success in the modern world is built on being driven and with each achievement comes another reward. Success for me led to excess, always trying to be the best at everything, right and happy. The result, I might have been right some of the time, happy some of the time and never sure all of the time.
In recovery we realise there is a different way to live and be happy. Happiness and serenity today, the elements change as life changes. And then dealing with every difficult situation is unique to each person on the planet. And of course the similarities we have help us understand the possible and the impossible. After decades of success, financial and material, rock bottom was painful because I had no clue I was at rock bottom or why the world felt desolate, empty and meaningless. Bleak and dark, black followed by fear, anxiety without respite for two years and then depression set in. And it got worse back then... and could do again…
My old attitudes, my old behaviour, trusted ways to be successful right and happy became nightmares as each step taken towards being my old self, crushed me inside. Drink, alcohol was my trusted friend, oblivion my sanctuary and my prison. I was fortunate to have been revived to live long enough to be happy when happy is possible, to be sad as sad experiences happen and find out what is good for me today.
My new attitudes are not about being right or happy or knowing the answer today. Simply life is about love and usefulness. To love, be loved back and have something useful to do. What helps me each day is truth, love and wisdom of others. And of course we learn about lies, hate and the inexperience of others, we need not join in with those outlooks. We can say no to our old behaviour and old attitudes, and when we encounter old attitudes and behaviour in others, simply we need not join in, we make better choices in the moment, sooner rather than later, it is part of being sober today.
Breaking the habits of a lifetime: sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. Yes, yes and yes again... So easy to say yes because people feel good when we say yes. And I now realise I can say no. An emphatic no is better than a half-hearted yes. More often than not, an emphatic courteous NO to some people and places keeps me sober today...
Stability for today; it is so easy to be knocked off balance in real life situations. Every day we hit the ground running and sometimes life gives us bruises as we encounter "rocks and hard places." Even when situations can be hurtful, I can share the experience, express my feelings, learn wisdom, hear and listen in fellowship and be more human every day...
AA Daily Reflections ~ "Opening new doors...They [the Promises] are being fulfilled among us - sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. [Big book]
The Promises talked about in this passage are slowly coming to life for me. What has given me hope is putting Step Nine into action. The Step has allowed me to see and set goals for myself in recovery. Old habits and behaviours die hard. Working Step Nine enables me to close the door on the drunk I was, and to open new avenues for myself as a sober alcoholic. Making direct amends is crucial for me. As I repair relationships and behaviour of the past, I am better able to live a sober life! Although I have some years of sobriety, there are times when the “old stuff” from the past needs to be taken care of, and Step Nine always works, when I work it."
September 9 2007
DonInLondon - ‘Day In the Life’ Serenity Is An Option Today
Indeed serenity is an option for me today. Much upheaval these last few weeks, and more coming. I have moved and reside now in SW3, Lucan Place. Not so far from where I used to be, but far enough not to have trains running past my flat every two minutes.
The story so far. A chance call to see if I was on the list for the dwelling I am now in. Many calls preceding to ensure I was on the list to be considered. And an outcome which I never thought might happen to me! To be in a flat where I feel at home, in a place which is close to all amenities and definitely close to medical as well as family support.
I don’t rattle off my incapacities so much here. Yet I am affected daily and life is less easy than it was once.
Meeting Last Night
And last night some news of people like me, that is Diabetic and in recovery. It is ok to express these things when others do I feel, and I don’t refer to other incapacities always because its not really relevant to those who have no experience of extra diseases besides addiction.
So it was good to find two others in a small and very honest group sharing their conditions and maladies. I felt ok and felt like I could share the totality if you like rather than the specific of alcoholism.
As I write I realise I forget to mention the other incapacities often and leave out a chunk of recovery I do daily. So last night it was ok for me, and all my stuff relating to type 1 diabetes, and clinical depression was shared.
In today’s video I mention more about clinical depression and hopefully in layman’s terms I am sharing what medication does rather than old and ignorant ideas of happy pills most people think anti depressants are.
They don’t make you happy. They offer a chance to overcome a depressive episode, or a clinical condition of depression. No happy smile is offered, only a path to normal where we experience life as is and not in some fugue state where nothing makes sense.
And last night listening to a relative newcomer, the overall story showed a remarkable turnaround in a persons life. Mine took longer and I am glad today my changes to the good of living happened slowly and not a break neck speed like I used to live.
More later as time affords…
September 9th 2006
Gold - Always Believe in your Soul
Hi KT, thanks a million for your posts, they do make a difference. I recognise the benefits of so many influences on my life which kept me going when all seemed to be impossible. When we humans are so sensitised to our living, and to everything in our world, we are literally rocked to our very core by all elements affecting ours and others lives. This fantastic human quality of seeing everything so raw, and with insights which enable all the scenarios to play in our mind’s eye, its often overwhelming.
Having wonderful people close to us again too, is so fantastic. The restoration of our wits, and our recovery help us connect with our family and friends. At least those we can, for some though it is a long time before they can trust us and feel confident in letting us be part of their lives.
Something a lot of us forget, it is the very sensitive nature we have, and the gap inside us which drives us bonkers in the first place. Intuition and the ability to foresee much of life, this comprehension and despair as we see not just the joy, also the pain to come. The gift of wisdom and outcomes others will live, and our own outcomes all add to that heavy load of knowledge we often carry.
So KT, smiles here you have a big Sis, well so do I. And without her support, when there was nothing left to catch me, she provided a safety net till I had that odd moment of clarity, now years back. We do have guardians around us, some have wings according to people I know. Well, all I know is sometimes we are lucky to have human beings who are there whatever happens. Providence is the best word for me to describe my feelings.
Spandau Ballet and Gold! There are always people who we can believe in, even when we are at our lowest ebb. There is something in us which connects us back to the path of living. And my firm belief is always there is a way back from wherever we get disconnected. If we get help in time.
Its good to know you have wise counsel who can help with the process of understanding how to make life work. Life skills and life knowledge, and having a process to apply to make sense, well these are so welcome for us in our early recovery and also key to well being in the future.
We humans are better for contact with each other. We get more confident in our path as we share our journey.
Seems like my telephone is ringing more often than not over the last few days. Is this a consequence of me venturing out? And as we do in the fellowship, we hand out our phone number. And then for ages no calls, then a quite a few all at once. The more we are active in fellowship, the more connection and the more we are involved.
For me, this is ok to an extent, and when I am connected its great to share and be involved. And I realise now some of my limits. There is only so much contact I can have before my head starts to spin, not just with my own odd world, but everyone’s world too. I can feel too connected and too involved. And with connection comes responsibility. How this works out, well I guess this is where we need apply wisdom. And share our limits and our human size.
Balance in all living helps confidence
Indeedy. Balance is sometimes elusive. As we feel better about our own situation and help others too, we need to keep some boundaries in place. And in the fellowship I feel we have a good system of sponsorship which helps even out the load. Yet we can be lured into too much contact and too much connection. And there needs to be balance with people in our close family and friends and our fellowship friends too. For me, friends, they are all close and they need know I am just as them, a human being.
On Thursday, I had a bit of a rant when I shared at a meeting, about our traditions in our fellowship. These traditions help establish the bedrock which makes the fellowship possible. Things to do with equality, anonymity and so much more. Principles which make the fellowship work. And without the traditions, the practical tools of the fellowship, what we call steps one to twelve would not work. Many fellows don’t really get the importance of our traditions. Why? Smiles, because you don’t have to, until things start to go wrong!
This thing of balance though it can be hard to keep to a place where we feel confident and happy. There always seems to be opportunity to be over confident and so ego gets too big, or less confident when all elements of life take on a fearful grip.
There have been times when I felt unable to answer the telephone, the doorbell, open the post, switch on the TV, just connect in the most simple way. And to the other extreme where I am driven to be in contact all the time with everyone and everything. And somewhere there is a balance in there for me, and all those I hold close.
Often though, what makes me ultra cautious is knowing what will happen next. The folly we have when we know the most likely outcomes and then interfere too much in the learning of others and their experience. Buddhists are helpful in their philosophy, which is letting others find their experience and learn from it, and we need not interfere. How hard is that? Very hard.
In Spandau’s lyrics indestructible is a key. And it is our young eyes which see life as eternity and we are indestructible, then reality won with experience and wisdom help us to caution. I have tested the indestructible philosophy enough!
So balance in life was key in my mind yesterday, and after writing for ages, the phone started ringing. Anyways its good to be in touch as much as we can feel able, and be cautious in our words with others, most often looking for support and not advice.
Yes we all have this inside us all the time. As Jung observed our conscious processes are, we perceive, we judge. We perceive the world through our senses and we judge all day long. And we do this to our own situation and our own world. And not satisfied with this we do the same for everyone and the whole world too. We see, we judge. And sometimes we are judgmental. A less preferred trait which leads to prejudice and fence building rather than just getting on with our day..
Put any group of people in a room and all our old knowledge and behaviour which works for us is deployed for safety. And we in the fellowship are no different, so we have our traditions to help us be less prone to the ravages of judgmental thinking. We encourage people not to gossip. Gossip kills as we know. So we are reminded at every meeting not to do this. Humans and we are, do gossip, and over the last week its been a bit rife. Not helpful to recovery or to anyone. It will simmer down as people realise what they are doing. But it is unsettling.
Fortunately its always on my mind and feel careful enough to avoid this tendency which can be so undermining. But I know I am human, and not immune, just aware of consequences.
Advice is not cheap
I made a strong plea to a fellow I know. It was about something they wanted to get involved in and use to their advantage. My problem with their intent is quite simple, what they are planning to do is absolutely against their best interest. How do I know? What they plan to do is so risky. I know where they would make their path, and that path is ruinous. I shared my knowledge of their intent and the outcomes. And that the intent they had, well I have direct and hands on experience, and know where it leads.
My advice was blunt in the end. And I guess they will be angry for their plan not to be endorsed or sanctioned. But then all I can do is share what I know. The real problem is where their recovery is right now, and most definitely in jeopardy.
Yes I can feel the resentment already. And this is unhelpful. But inevitable. When I do advise people not to put their hands in a fire? Or do as a Buddhist and let them burn? After all it is their life experience. There is a middle ground. I guess its hard to judge where it is, and judgmental comes into it. Whenever I make myself bigger than human size, resentments are waiting to happen.
Meeting last Night
I have been on an odyssey over the last few years, going all over to meetings near and far. My reasons are quite selfish. I am aiming to keep myself close to fellowship and understand my place in it as a fellow. And the best way seemed to be to go anywhere and everywhere. And the good news is, well it is good, wherever I go meetings and people follow the same path. The traditions and steps make it possible to share in recovery anywhere in the UK and the world for that matter.
And everywhere I find people have the same goal, and slightly different approaches to their way of making recovery work in this careful framework of fellowship. Every individual is different, no two the same, but we all work the same way! No two people in the same place, but using the same principles to carve out their unique path in life. Now that is odd and wonderful sort of, because we keep what we are, our unique authentic selves and who we are. Of course a lot of us are still wondering who we are, but that’s just life, smiles.
So where did I go last night?
I changed my mind a few times, and resolved on my destination. On the way I was stopped by another fellow I know on the way to another meeting I like too. Half prepared to change my plans I nearly did, but agreed I may see them today somewhere else. Several million Londoners and I meet fellowship people wherever I go? Now explain that!
Where I went, it was a big meeting, about seventy plus. And it was busy. Mind it was a Friday night and as we all would have been out clubbing in the past we do need somewhere else to get our fun, as well as a bit of experience strength and hope.
Its good to go both to big and small meetings as long as we know what we go to each for. For me, big meetings is the knowledge I am not the only one. And there are literally tens of thousands in recovery. And in big meetings its easy to see we are all different. I like different and diversity. And small meetings I like because its easier to have a share with fellows. So I love both. And with mostly small groups all week, the big one balances out my needs for solidarity in numbers. At big meetings I see lots of people I know from a distance, in smaller meetings I know lots of people more closely. Big or small they all help me along, and I go to suit my frame of mind.
And our chairperson was remarkable with decades of sobriety. You know when I first got to AA, I thought there must be a secret society inside it where people must get so much time sober, they can go off for a secret drinking holiday. Or how on earth can people go so long without a drink. I was very, very suspicious. And thought often they came to meetings and said they were sober, only to go home and get their drinks in. A fantasy of course, but I know now it’s the last thing they would ever do. Weird I realise they value sobriety and living with all their senses working as best they can and unimpaired! Me too. And I never thought it possible. This just shows me how deluded I was when I first got sober.
It was a great meeting and for me, it’s the realisation that there is a life worth living. A lot of people do think there is something magical which happens to people. Actually the magic is merely hard work and living well to good conscience. So through all my depressive episodes and those to come, either side of them I can make life work. And make the best of the hard times too, I learn as much then as ever when it all is hunky dory. Which is to the good.
And I felt the most important thing for me from the meeting was an understanding to make the best of each day I have. So much time spent in the past, and so much time given to the future and wants, rather than meeting my needs today, well I know what works best for me. Simply making the best of now, today, dealing with simple needs and not getting wrapped up in any wants. Needs met, wants forgotten.
As our ‘chair’ said, if they were to get run over by a bus, even if they were having a bad day, the balance would have been a life spent making the best of what they had, and not lost in wanting something different! And this is what I believe too.
It may seem little consolation when we feel really depressed about life, as the black cloud hangs over us. At least we know we are doing our best and the best is really good enough. Just making the best of what we have.
Home and the Phone
When do we ever sleep, or is it that some people stay up late and therefore call at odd times, or do they call because they are in need? I don’t know, but I did talk to one fellow till quite late about things in general. And when I awoke after the usual fitful sleep, there were calls made to me when I had gone to bed. I don’t know whether I should have had the phone next to my head, ready or whether there was something urgent. And I guess in the early hours, they would not want me ringing them back? I’ll check later. I sent texts but no reply. It’s a bit worrying never quite knowing if a person is desperate. Thank goodness we get lots of phone numbers to call when we feel in need, someone is always awake!
Life the Universe and Everything
Well it feels like the weekend for me, I usually get to two meetings both days. I have my preferences with one in a couple of hours at 8:30AM and the next this evening. I need to check a few things out today for my own study on websites, and where next in my recovery. I am still working on next steps to making a living.
It is fundamental to my well being to be involved in life and making a living the best way I can. It feels integral to being part of society, being a part of the mainstream. Even though I have some extra’s to contend with health wise, we can still be a part of in my view.
My world is starting to get bigger again, I need be careful it does not consume me as it has in the past. I know there are tell tale signs of depression about. And its easy to dismiss them, as who wants it back again. Denial is surely every present. I need make sure all my medication is taken at the right time and also my insulin and blood sugar regime.
Balance is the key, to being this human sized person. Peace and harmony are not natural states of being without discipline and effort to ensure boundaries. Time to work, time to rest, to for play and time to settle the mind and its connection to the day. Time to accept I am just that, human, fallible, vulnerable, with courage, developing strength and enough hope to carry me along.
Whenever I write, towards then end of any of my endeavours on a daily basis, I recollect people who I have known. Lovers from times past and how they may be. People I have known who are gone and there are many. And people maybe I wish had been different in my life, less difficult to get on with. Something in our programme is how to get over resentments to others, for when we are resentful of others we have no forgiveness. When we have no forgiveness for others, we have none for ourselves. And if we resent ourselves for our human qualities good or bad, then we are often lost.
So I guess my question remains with Alexander Pope who wrote "To err is human, to forgive divine." Can we forgive anyone, or do we live our forgiveness through our consequences? And our living to good conscience. My mother and I discussed it, we agreed forgiveness is a really difficult one to work out as there are no God’s here on earth, and the representatives of God often go to war to prove a point . And Mr Pope was a busy man back then, he also suggested, "Trust not yourself, but your defects to know. Make use of every friend and every foe." And this very apt to fellowship matters and people in recovery, who may not be aware where our steps to modern living originate…
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