Sunday, 21 July 2013

Alcoholics Anonymous | July 21 | DonInLondon | Step 7 "Courage To Change"

July 21, 2013 step seven in mind: "contingent on the current conditions today." Why is it always the emphasis that recovery is one day at a time? Moment to moment, minute to minute, hour to hour and all day long is where life happens and reality is changing as we change and everyone and everything changes. We are evolving in the moment of now. We develop wisdom in the moment of now, attitudes shape what we do, and our actions develop our skills and aptitudes. Recovery becomes a skilful daily enterprise and endeavour.

In a meeting yesterday it struck me just how resilient a human can be, that every human in that meeting was there with a common purpose, to continue living life to the full and learning what we can and cannot do on a daily basis. Listening to the sharing, the types of endeavours everyone seemed to take on in their lives has led to extremes, extremes of success and extremes of disaster because of a killer malady. The malady itself becoming the reason for extreme change in outlook and what we do on a daily basis. Often we are driven to try new things; that the grass is greener on the other side and we need check it out, rather than watering the grass upon which we stand. These reflections are shaped by the words of a good friend in recovery. Without them I could not contemplate or reflect in this way.

Very often we are driven to succeed. I often wondered why I kept on being successful that whatever I did. Simply, I was driven to find a place where I would feel comfortable and successful. And listening to fellows who had similar experiences, it was always the notion that when I am successful, then I will feel happy and content. In my case when I look back, it was not ambition which drove me, I just wanted to fit in somewhere, but then I didn't want to fit in because if I stayed too long in one place, you would likely find me out as lacking and not worthy of your company. Having reached the pinnacle of success in more than one career, every time I was close to being the most adept, being the most adaptive and eclectic person, staring success in the face, in the mirror, I felt no joy or contentment. Only when I stopped looking for the answer, and started to feel right within myself and content in the moment did I realise as the song goes, "I still haven't found what I'm looking for…" And the reason was, well quite simple really; I had no identity and did not know who I was back in the day. Today, living in the moment I can see my part in the world and where I fit moment to moment.

History and the way we have grown up does shape the way we think about ourselves. We can be driven to be accepted and find conventional ways to succeed and prove ourselves. And we can be driven to be outside conventions, because we don't like to be conventional. And we can be both at the same time. And we are shaped by what we can do and what we cannot do, and life for each individual is often driven by basic needs, then a whole gamut of wants. If we are wanting, rather than needing, usually our outlook has been distorted in some way. We congratulate athletes, people in business who do well; we celebrate the success of people in a singular activity, where they have put all their energy into being good at one thing. And being good at one thing, because we are human means we are not so good at everything else. Having ambition and being driven needs to be balanced with? Often there is no balance and when a person only finds self-esteem in one field of activity, when that activity is taken away, a lot of humans collapse emotionally and spiritually and are left with a void so deep that nothing can fill it and oblivion from reality may be preferred.

I know in my own case that I became a one-dimensional being who succeeded in one particular area of living, and relying on my work and professional identity to keep me going meant that everything else fell by the wayside in those final years. Success felt empty, the highest mountain seemed to have been climbed and then I felt lost and broken as life became predictable and unsatisfactory. And although that was part of my way to rock bottom, loss of identity, loss of prestige in my own eyes, a misunderstanding about life in general and desolation and despair meant life was very bleak. The reason why I'm sharing this is because the deeper and more broken we have been over the years, the sweeter reality can be as we find ourselves in recovery one day at a time. And the phrase, "life will take on new meaning," comes to mind. In early days, the statement that life can take on new meaning made me angry, and then with the passage of time, curious about what life or the meaning of life might be.

I love the Saturday morning spiritual meeting. Rarely about God doing things for us, more about and understanding that spiritual life is most often of the educational variety when we apply ourselves day by day. Part of my psyche wanted a spiritual experience of the miraculous kind in order to be a fully qualified member of Fellowship. I did have blinding flashes along the way, the first which happened I can recollect clearly. Lonely and alone, dazed by a night of drinking and desperately wanting to be either dead or sober. I had tried everything to stop on my own. I said to myself, "I cannot do this on my own." And it struck me that that was the answer, to break through the delusion that I could stop on my own and control addiction. I picked up my telephone, rang the right number and asked for help, and help came. The help that was offered was haphazard, crazy, insane and absolutely right for me, people sharing their experience strength and hope about the truth and reality of recovery. No easy path to redemption, hard work to change an outlook, and a long time to heal.

Somebody was trying to describe what had happened to them, and the story was so similar to mine I nearly fell off my chair with excitement to share back. Fortunately my friend, who was choosing people to share, was unable to include me so I could not share back. And it made me smile inside. The meeting before the meeting had been wonderful seeing people I know and love. Seeing people I don't know too well sharing wonderfully about what matters today. The material world is important, thinking and logical activities are important, work is important. And more importantly is the emotional spiritual journey we have right now. Even when we might be ill, have desperate secondary illnesses, life can be full of love and we cherish the moments we have. Living in the moment, sometimes we do get fearful, grumpy and wish for better times. And at the same time, going to a meeting dealing with the basics can put us back on track. It's never about overcoming an obstacle; it is the emotional and spiritual experience: feelings in the moment and coping with the truth of now be it good bad or ugly.

And the meeting after the meeting, where we can catch up and share with friends, and make new friends. I am smiling here as I recall a bunch of grumpy old men sitting behind me in the meeting, hundreds of years of sobriety between them, no two of them are alike, all with wisdom and experiences drawn from different endeavours, I love them as humans, I will call them granddads in recovery because of their years, but in real years we are not far apart. We are an odd community full of gifts and variety. We have a primary purpose, and we feel responsible. Finance and romance were and are always part of life. Learning what love is, unconditional and constant becomes a theme. And finance in the material world, may always be a part of what makes us tick, and for many it becomes a secondary activity in the living of a real human life, the one we can have in the moment of now. We learn daily what it is to love, be loved back and find useful endeavours which suit each of us just for a day and even a lifetime…

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