Saturday, 31 August 2013

Alcoholics Anonymous August 31 DonInLondon Step 8 "Amends And Willing"

Alcoholics Anonymous Blog/Video August 31 DonInLondon Step 8 "Amends And Willing"

Step 8 "Amends And Willing"


August 31, 2013: "all hands on deck!" Reaching out for help is a very difficult thing to do when we are new to recovery. Reaching out for help is a very difficult thing to do when we have a few days of sobriety, and no matter how long we have been sober, the longer it is, the harder it might be to accept help or be able to give it in the right way to the right person at the right time. I felt like that yesterday sitting next to a newcomer, in some distress and realising that there were other people better suited to help on that day.


I have always been careful when approaching newcomers in meetings where they seem to be at sea with themselves, and I don't see anyone reaching out the hand of AA, that is simply sometimes newcomers can go unnoticed because? It could be they go unnoticed just because… If I see a young woman, a medium aged woman, and especially a woman of my age, I try find a female friend and nudge them in the direction of the female newcomer. Yesterday a young person new to recovery and full of anxiety for a lot of good reasons made a connection which I signalled, and maybe the younger person with mature sobriety saw my signal or simply decided it would be good to talk to the newcomer. Either way yesterday it worked and for that I'm really grateful.


It was a really good meeting yesterday, seeing people I haven't seen for ages, being greeted, cared for, conscious of the concern being shown and my happiness in just being there. Nobody thought I'd slipped or relapsed, and it was just good to be at a meeting I had not been to for so many years. Ironic really, it is one of the nearest meetings to where I live. But then again, I don't really go to the nearest meetings, I get on the bicycle and set off and see what happens when I can. And someone else said they were really grateful for something I'd done some years ago. And it made it worthwhile to have made the effort to share the message of experience, strength and hope in my own particular way which certainly does not suit everyone in Fellowship, nor should it.


Before getting to the meeting, I had decided to put a fully charged battery on the bike, which will give me a round-trip possibility of 20 miles without having to pedal. And because it was sunny I decided the early-morning meeting would be a pass and the midday meeting would be a yes. And with that in mind I recharged my cameras, ready to take photos in the midday sunshine. So past South Kensington, up near Harrods, and then swinging on to the back of Buckingham Palace for the meeting at midday. Taking photos on the way. And then the meeting, some happy, some sad, some just glad to be there, and some people who could surely make it rain with a look at the heavens. We are all not a glum lot on the same day and the majority I feel were benefiting from sunshine and fellowship.


Acceptance of not being able to help some people in recovery is really important to me. Humility, the ability to keep on learning life and learning that people are different helps every day. It is always the same when taking photos, some are happy, and some are very unhappy to have their photo taken and almost by instinct we can develop that intuition of what we can do and what we cannot do inside and outside fellowship. Different strokes for different folks, so true and also it keeps most of us safe when we follow a simple code of conduct: live and let live.


In particular yesterday having listened to the chair, where the emphasis on powerlessness had been so important in recovery, it was a timely reminder. And what does powerless mean to me? It means I don't need to have power over something and then I don't have to control it. It took me quite a while to understand that if I am powerless over alcohol and one drink would lead back to an unmanageable and dangerous time, being powerless means if I don't drink, I get my freedom back, freedom to make choices about what I can do and cannot do on any given day. And that powerlessness opens the door to growing wisdom one day at a time. No matter what I believe personally, the serenity prayer when we break it down and utilise every element of it does lead to an opportunity for serenity today and every day in sobriety.


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Friday, 30 August 2013

Alcoholics Anonymous August 30 DonInLondon Step 8 "Amends And Willing"

Alcoholics Anonymous Blog/Video August 30 DonInLondon Step 8 "Amends And Willing"

Step 8 "Amends And Willing"


August 30, 2013: "in the moment of now, if our emotions fit with what is going on, no matter whether it is good bad or ugly, it is the best that this moment can be." And how often can we say that our emotions fit with the moment? Does something happen right now which triggers a memory, which triggers a desire, which triggers something which makes us very uncomfortable in the moment of now. When we feel our gut wrench, our feelings rise up, what are we going to do?


I feel like the world is in a state of outrage about what we know is happening in various countries. And the world lives on a knife edge some of the time, when feelings run high, and all the thinking goes into stopping something or starting something without knowing what the outcome will be. And although we know in the UK that crimes against humanity have been carried out, and there is an obvious target, politicians have said no to military intervention without facts which are beyond refute. And there are very strong feelings, that whatever the outcome of enquiry and judicial reviews, a rogue state continues to wreak havoc. Two wrongs don't make a right, and the world cannot agree on what needs to be done. And yet, something will be done. Not by me, and not in my name. And the reason I say this, when other conflicts have led into years and years of horror, retribution can serve little purpose, no matter what is done if there is no freedom of choice, a revolution of some sort is always the outcome.


And I don't know the answers to the world and what it is doing. And when we say there's a problem when good men or women do nothing, we are looking outwards at those with notional power to do something. Learning right and wrong starts in our own hearts, the feelings we have and the actions we take. In recovery, when feelings start to really matter and guide actions, there can be quite a delay when feelings are at extremes, simply because we learn to think about the consequences of our actions, not only the consequences for ourselves, we learn about the consequences for other people around us. It is a double-edged sword, extreme feelings, lead to extreme actions and we don't know sometimes what the consequences will be if we do not think hard enough about our motives, and what happens next. Sometimes extreme situations, there needs to be an immediate and extreme reaction to stop further harm.


In the last few days the remembrance of a speech: "I have a dream…" About equality and judging people by their actions and their conduct and not prejudice about their colour or creed. All embracing within the international articles of human rights. When we look closely to home in any country, how often do those in power undermine basic human rights? Some say get your own house in order first and then look outwards. And of course in a complicated world we do not live alone, and we do not live alone as countries. Something has to start somewhere, and we have to find a way forward. I'm very lucky, with the help of many, balance has been restored as well as sanity one day at a time.


If only people could all be restored to sanity one day at a time? They are! Unfortunately not always on the same day. So the best we can do most of the time is examine our conscience, our personal conduct today and how it will be: even though life will be difficult, it could be good difficult, but difficult and ugly difficult. Unity and principles and purpose have taught me how to get out of the madness of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. And so in a very good way I have learned and continue to learn how to be a good citizen and part of something bigger than me.


We all have a voice to the good, we all have the opportunity to say how we feel and make a statement which serves to good conscience. And we have the right to vote for and against what we believe to be the best path. If we choose apathy, even if we are good people, we have no voice. Strangely and peculiarly our UK Parliament seems to have developed some moral fibre. Of course that is a personal opinion, and not one shared by all. In the face of an obvious evil, obvious truth about the evil, there is yet to be a proven way forward agreeable to everyone. No one in their right mind wants evil to continue? It is very hard to judge the motives, the reasons, the politics, the global picture, when global peacekeepers allow evil on their watch to occur.


Statesmen, those who are real statesman are above politics, above self-interest, see the vision with clarity, see the big picture with clarity about the common good. A crime against humanity is against the common good as outlined in "The Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948." This declaration applies to each individual who draws breath on this planet. We need some real statesman, not just potentates and temporary leaders, we need some real statesman or this world will crumble far faster than nature might destroy it. Indeed we all live in the moment of now, some live responsively, some live reactively and most politicians with self-interest and self aggrandisement at their core. And the problem of the moment, when it comes to politics, there is expectation of action when no action might be the correct path in the short-term. And so in the vision of the big picture when evil grows because good men do nothing, there could be a greater evil growing when good men do not know what they are doing.


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Thursday, 29 August 2013

Alcoholics Anonymous August 29 DonInLondon Step 8 "Amends And Willing"

Alcoholics Anonymous Blog/Video August 29 DonInLondon Step 8 "Amends And Willing"

Step 8 "Amends And Willing"


August 29, 2013: "it is a mad mad world!" A film some time back with the actor Peter Finch, "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more!" Feels like the world is in one of those moments, needing to do something to put something right and yet the evidence is incomplete, and we have not got a mandate to do it. And yet for years we have been driven mad wanting a change for the good and yet unable to find a way. Or the way is blocked by something somewhere beyond our control.


The dawning of a new age in recovery, seeing the madness in the world and also seeing just how difficult it is to influence people to change. As we start to get sober, feel better in the moment of now, we see the madness of doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different result. That is why nations find themselves in conflict with each new generation having to learn what it is to be grown up. Rock bottom as an individual is devastating, rock bottom as a nation is a blight on humanity. Personal principles and ethics are something we learn as we grow up, or something we ignore because we are mad as hell and we won't stand for it any more and we need to get the job done. We forget to win hearts and minds.


Sobriety has taught me to apply the principles of the program to the way I live, twelve steps and twelve traditions which are timeless in the main and almost agreeable? Some traditions written in haste when the world was in a different state, where self prejudice and fear shaped some outlooks. As we come of age as a Fellowship and we feel more confident in personal recovery and in the understanding of recovery is a Fellowship, almost everything changes very subtly to a more open, honest and willing outlook. As we approach times where transparency, seeking truth, with love in our hearts and learning the wisdom of life, we have nothing to hide in the moment of now.


Learning to live to the truth of now, coping with reality. This is the emotional and spiritual journey for every human. The emotional and spiritual journey includes everything, and everyone. No matter what belief system or non-belief system, no matter where we come from, if we have integrity and truth, we start to understand our motivations and feelings in the moment of now. And when driven to extremes of feeling, our motivations and our actions most often need pause for thought. Cooling extreme feelings and understanding the consequences of actions in the heat of the moment is an imperative or we can lose everything in blind fury and justifiable anger.


"When war is declared, Truth is the first casualty." On a personal level when we are at war and in battle with ourselves, truth is the first casualty. Ask anyone about denial in recovery, actually when it comes to recent times I have not heard much about denial in recovery in our meetings round here. Somehow it seems like it's forgotten, that the truth was lost about our condition because denial kept it hidden. When a person closes down the borders and hides, the same can be true of Nations on either side in a conflict where denial makes truth almost impossible to find. To thine own self be true, this is the starting point at the beginning of the day, and therein lies the key to serenity. What we can do and cannot do and the wisdom to know the difference one day at a time.


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Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Alcoholics Anonymous August 28 DonInLondon Step 8 "Amends And Willing"

Alcoholics Anonymous Blog/Video August 28 DonInLondon Step 8 "Amends And Willing"

"Amends And Willing"


August 28, 2013: "what if?" Step eight is a curious bind for many people. After the fearless moral inventory in step four, sharing the truth of who we are with another human being in step five, understanding our defects of character in step six, fear, pride and ego as part of the seven deadly sins, and understanding our shortcomings which include courage to change, faith in doing the next right thing, and building confidence to be a human being again in step seven. The list of amends is a complete list, and then the willingness becomes part of an imperative to live to the truth, love and wisdom of now. The personal amend, to find a path forward and the amends listed and willingness.


And why is step eight a curious bind for many people? How much of the truth are we willing to share? Or it of course and hopefully we did in step five. An irony for me, it was only after my first attempt at step five that any of the real horror opened up as I realised I was on an emotional and spiritual path, and some of the horror was all about my attitudes, my outlooks and my actions rather than the actions and attitudes and outlook of other people. Looking into the mirror, and realising back in the day I had been doing the best I could with what I knew, did not fill me with a warm glow. I wished some of the time I had grown up to be myself a lot sooner rather than later. Sometimes, it simply takes as long as it takes to see a better life ahead.


Back in the day, with the current conditions at that time, my intense dislike of the world and all it represented made it possible to prefer oblivion, what I thought was comfortable oblivion as I beavered away at a career which kept me in the manner to which I become accustomed, simply numb. Without a sense of identity, without a particular purpose which made a difference, and a dark picture of life in general, what we do during those times can be very destructive to ourselves and others. We cannot change the past and we cannot live in the future, there is a great deal that we can do in the present moment of now. Sober, we have a chance to redeem ourselves now by what we do and that is the lasting amend we are going to make to ourselves and everyone we encounter.


Some days as we progress past step eight, and get step nine which is all about doing amends without doing further harm, we get step ten which is our spot check inventory. What I have found with the personal amend, how I conduct myself now and in the future, helps me with the admission and acceptance of my part in matters, whether my part in matters is good bad or ugly, with step ten and on the spot I detect whether I am a force of good, bad or ugliness in the moment of now. Anger and resentment are the number one contenders when my mood goes dark and I have the twelve steps to deconstruct other people. The steps offer me an understanding of me and my behaviour, they are not a weapon to be turned on other people.


And the reason why each step in recovery is so important, and living to the principles of the steps rather than using the steps as emotional and spiritual weapons of destruction, lies in the serenity prayer: To God or to good conscience; grant me the serenity, to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. The most important elements of the whole programme is to open up freedom of choice to ourselves and not assume choices for others. And sometimes when we look at step eight, we can forget, or try to ignore some of the things we have done because of the repercussions for ourselves rather than other people. Emotional and spiritual, step eight is about freedom of choice for other people and not just ourselves.


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Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Alcoholics Anonymous August 27 DonInLondon Step 8 "Amends And Willing"

Alcoholics Anonymous Blog/Video August 27 DonInLondon Step 8 "Amends And Willing"

Step 8 "Amends And Willing"

August 27, 2013: "sharing with friends, friends who are sober means we may be able to access the truth of who we are." We still need to be careful in recovery, not everybody in Fellowship is your friend, indeed although we have one common purpose or rather primary purpose which is to be sober, how people either adopt the steps and traditions, reject the steps and traditions, use the steps and traditions as a means of control and judgemental behaviour, all depends on people's attitudes and behaviour in recovery.


Anyone can be in the Fellowship of AA who has a desire to stop drinking. The exact nature of our character at the beginning when we are newcomer can be quite difficult to work out. Most likely suffering greatly from the physical, emotional and spiritual rollercoaster of addiction. Most likely in a state of shock and unable to cope with life or reality. Isolated, broken down with no glimmer of hope. No courage, just fear, no faith, just pride, no self-esteem, just ego. Powerless and unmanageable, driven mad and hoping for a magic potion to fix the problem that we are.


A Fellowship based on love to help anyone anywhere who reaches out for help, we all want that hand of Fellowship to be there and for that we are responsible. And what about those, the bad Wolf's that bite the hand that feeds them? It's a good idea to have got to a place where you feel comfortable in your own skin, are wearing chainmail gloves when you start shaking hands. Rather it is probable that we take people on face value, that they do have a desire to stop drinking. As to the rest of what we encounter, only time will tell. Some people make good, and some people remain quite awful even though they may have been around for quite a while. Contingent on the current conditions of any day, any one of us can be good, bad or ugly in our attitudes and actions.


All I know, everyone who gets into recovery has a chance to change. Sometimes we do not see the changes, sometimes years on somebody will come up to us and thank us for something we did some years back. This happened quite recently to me, at the same time, based on their current behaviour in recent times, I did not want to prolong or be in their company, a womaniser, a shyster, a beggar and a liar. At the same time, the glimmer of hope is there, that the words were genuine and authentic. The door is still open, and if emotional and spiritual support is asked for, I will do my best to help if I can. At the same time, treading with care is required, I cannot be their conscience, and I cannot judge them. It is always the many in recovery who make the difference to one individual. And one individual in recovery can have a profound effect on many be it good, bad or ugly. One day at a time, progress can seem like an eternity if I choose to judge rather than let go.


A famous author summed up much of what all humans are about. They said that life is difficult, and once we accept that life is difficult, the fact that it is difficult ceases to be the issue. Rather than be stuck in the old insanity that everything is difficult, we can move on and start to see where we can change and find solutions one day at a time. Difficult yes, impossible? Not so much one day at a time.


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Alcoholics Anonymous August 26 DonInLondon Step 8 "Amends And Willing"

Alcoholics Anonymous Blog/Video August 26 DonInLondon Step 8 "Amends And Willing"

Step 8 "Amends And Willing"


August 26, 2013: "when we make positive judgements about people, we are looking for the positive in our living situations. When we defer to the negative judgements about people, we are looking for the negative in our living situations." How do we measure life in general? Well, if we are trying to measure something, we do make ourselves prone to self prejudice, unforgiving outlooks and never being quite good enough on our roads to perfection.


The pursuit of happiness? Happiness can be found in the most extreme conditions of poverty, abundance and just enough one day at a time. It really does depend on our outlook, how our needs met on the physical, emotional and spiritual? Why is it when we are children, we might have found more pleasure in the wrappings of an expensive present than the present itself. And is this not true in all our experiences of life. I could make and get a lot of pleasure out of playing with a large cardboard box when I was a kid, and a form of insulation when I was a homeless adult.


I can remember in early childhood having a desire for a drum kit for Christmas. And that Christmas I got a mouth organ. I can remember in early childhood asking for a very small cheap tape recorder, that Christmas I got a top of the range reel to reel tape recorder. And each of those Christmases what mattered most was snow, running around and all the rest of it, most of it forgotten.


I can remember spending large amounts of money on gold trinkets for my girl, I got enough to last for Christmas and birthday, but because I couldn't contain myself I gave them all once to show my love. The gold never helped the relationship, there was love, and yet love was not enough to sustain. Insecurity always made things out of proportion, and the compensation? Another dive into oblivion one day at a time. Money can't buy you love, money cannot buy happiness even though it might be more materially comfortable, there is no satisfaction other than the real thing today. Love!


We all live and learn, if we are lucky we get sober, we learn what it is to love and cherish. We also learn what it is to be treated with indifference or superficiality. And when it comes to understanding step eight, making a list and being willing to make the amend whatever it may be, it needs to come from a place of courage, faith and confidence, with love and not indifference or superficiality. It is so easy to mistake what amends need to be done without doing further harm, we have to be open honest and willing to share our intentions before we take action. If I say I am sorry to you, I am saying I am sorry to you for what I have done. And there is no expectation that an amend is due back because that is not how it works in recovery.


When we are holding on for some reason, to a belief that we are right, to a belief that we have power to control others for whatever reason, we do need to check out our values our attitudes and what we really are about. There are many people in recovery, full of good intention, and full of shit rather than shinola. My life would be wasted trying to correct the behaviour of other people, I have enough of the job on with my own outlook, attitudes and actions one day at a time.



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Alcoholics Anonymous August 25 DonInLondon Step 8 "Amends And Willing"

Alcoholics Anonymous Blog/Video August 25 DonInLondon Step 8 "Amends And Willing"

Step 8 "Amends And Willing"


August 25, 2013: "my own personal madness: a self-inflicted hell, by doing the same things over and over again. I did believe that ethics were important back in the day." Being ethical in an unethical situation, where you or I try to behave in an open honest and willing fashion, when the rest of the world it seems is doing the opposite means I am in the wrong place, with the wrong people and doing the wrong things. Being right, open, honest and willing and fair when everybody else is thinking and acting in a different way will make you realise you really are better off letting go and moving on.


Listening to a friend in Fellowship talking about the good Wolf and the bad Wolf. Sitting on each shoulder, a Wolf. We can feed the good Wolf, feeding it with courage to change, faith in doing the next right thing and developing confidence by making mistakes and learning from them. We can feed the bad Wolf, with our fear, pride and ego which keeps a person isolated, judgemental and fearful of being found out or fearful of other people's prejudice. In this story of good Wolf and bad Wolf, the bad Wolf is about feeding and believing in our defects of character, where pride fear and ego keep us alone and full of blame. The good Wolf, fed with courage, faith and confidence, keeps us on an open honest and willing path of learning.


The bad Wolf wants power, the bad Wolf wants to be in control and the bad Wolf takes us back into the world of pain and a world where we think we should be in control and masterful. The good Wolf is happy to roam free of the burden of power and control, to experience life in the fall, courageous, having faith and self-esteem based on new experiences and involvement in good enterprises whatever they may be. The bad Wolf needs revenge, the good Wolf forgiveness.


Do I really understand the difference between step six and step seven? How many other people really understand the difference between step six and step seven? And why do some people prefer that defects and shortcomings are the same thing when they are not? And are they really the same thing after all, defects and shortcomings?


Do I really understand that I need to really understand step six and step seven before doing step eight? If I don't understand step six and step seven, how on earth can I make a list of amends and be willing to make them? Only time and endeavour will give me the answer?


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Alcoholics Anonymous August 24 DonInLondon Step 8 "Amends And Willing"

Alcoholics Anonymous Video August 24 DonInLondon Step 8 "Amends And Willing"

Step 8 "Amends And Willing"


August 24, 2013: "insanity is only a moment away." No matter how hard we may be trying to be open honest and willing to live life on life's terms, why is it that we might revisit insanity on any given day? Being open, honest and willing is our own personal expectation of what we do to live life truthfully in the moment of now. Once there is an expectation within us, we are already on the way to a resentment when others do not live to open honest and willing, and they certainly may not like the truth as we see it in the moment of now.


On any given day with one primary purpose, to be sober and help others find recovery, reconnect with recovery or just simply living in recovery. And we will hear all these stories, those who have strong feelings which are very positive because life is going well, those with strong feelings that life is against them and yet they do not drink to drown their sorrows. Others coming back to reconnect in some way having found themselves back on their knees. We can hear all this in the space of a few moments in the meeting or in a group of Fellowship. Life experience and real-life examples.


Some people have fantastic memories, they can read something and almost share it back word for word from memory. We don't have to be like this in recovery, indeed  if all we can do is share words from a book, albeit a very good book, we are not listening to the sharing of experience strength and hope which is likely to be appropriate today. The literature of Fellowship is always a starting point, not an endpoint, not an exam to be assessed and rated at the end. Each day we have step ten and the gratitude list to consider when we are feeling either good, bad or ugly about life today. No exam, no pass or fail, simply living and learning from life today.


Some sponsors! I was reminded of a particularly insane share some years ago. The share went something like this, "even though he was in a wheelchair, his commitment to getting on his knees to pray was such that he endured a great deal of pain in order to demonstrate his desire to pray in the appropriate way." The sponsor felt humbled by this commitment and admired it. In my opinion, the ego of the sponsor was a horrible example of taking advantage of another person's fear of exclusion to the extremes.


Some people who sponsor, can be quite the predators. We are nonprofessional in Fellowship, and that means anything we might get good at which relates to recovery can be a godsend to somebody else when it is shared in an open honest and willing way. When you find yourself with the sponsor who has an agenda which is to do with instructions rather than suggestions, I suggest you let go that sponsor and find a sponsor to suit you better, who understands the difference between step six and seven, lives all the steps and understands the traditions enough for you to get started.


Everybody has their own pace in recovery one day at a time. What seems impossible to understand at the beginning, starts to take on new meaning as we progress in sobriety. A simple thing can take one person a few moments to understand and put into practice, another person a few years to understand and then a few years to put into practice. There is no race in recovery, those who tell a good story, and leave out the bad and ugly bits, may spare the blushes of the audience for some reason. Or feel unable to share some of the horror along the way because they did not understand it was okay to feel awful over and over again one day at a time.


A friend mentioned another meeting, the share or chair full of scientific enquiry, deep analysis of every word written in the big book, a complete set of judgements about the personalities they had sponsored over the years. And somebody got up and walked out of the meeting in rage and anger. Enraging people is a fact of life in recovery, and sometimes when people are looking for the science to explain, are intelligent enough to pick the good and the bad and the ugly and rewrites history, well, they do tend to get up most people's noses. Over the years I have left many meetings full of rage and despondency. I did not drink, and nowadays even when people can be very unhelpful, better to forgive and let go their outlook, and carry on with my outlook which is simply wrong for them, but right for me.


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Friday, 23 August 2013

Alcoholics Anonymous August 23 DonInLondon Step 8 "Amends And Willing"

Alcoholics Anonymous Video August 23 DonInLondon Step 8 "Amends And Willing"

Step 8 "Amends And Willing"


August 22, 2013: "expectations and boundaries are the very clear issues we face in sobriety every single day." This starts on day one, setting our own personal expectations of ourselves tends to be either too high or too low. Pride and ego will set the expectations in recovery too high very often. Lack of confidence, lack of courage and faith will often set expectations so low, going back to the malady and starting again is always a possibility. And what about other people?


Recovery and discovery all in one, the twelve steps to help us become more human and more capable of living in the day and being able to cope with it. When I look back at my first steps in recovery, it was easy to go backwards because I had no expectation of living at all. Indeed living in the harsh light of day was excruciating. I needed to be with the many, and it is always the many who provide us with support most often just by being there. And it always applies no matter how long we are sober.


Courage faith and confidence do not grow on a daily basis, life experience, where fear pride and ego can rise up again is available every single day. And it is often through adversity that we learn what it is to change our outlook, our attitudes and our actions. And we can't learn the twelve steps without life experience. If there were an exam, it would be almost impossible to have a pass fail situation. In life, sometimes it all works out and sometimes it feels like a failure. So no exams, and yet we have a mentality of expecting success and still wonder why things don't go our way. Indeed life is not about our way at all, life is a set of understandings we develop with people inside and outside fellowship.


One of my favourite meetings… I can't mention much about the location or who was there; I can share how it impacted on me. Meetings and groups change regularly and sometimes when the trusted servants move on and new trusted servants take over, subtle changes happen which can rankle in me. I noticed more than one control freak, a stubborn and defiant individual has taken a post. I hope they learn from it, they taught me a lot about them, and then they taught me a lot about me and my attitudes because of their behaviour. This is all about boundaries of course…


Men and women in recovery need to learn not only how to be sober, they need to learn how to live the principles of the fellowship and how they work inside and outside. A lot of talk about boundaries: "I need to keep on setting the boundaries, if I don't set the boundaries, people are going to get into areas of my life and overstep. Boundaries cannot be imposed unilaterally, that's how we start wars. If I tell you that I have particular boundaries you cannot cross, and do it in a way which leaves no room for discussion, I am pushing people away most often. We can have clear boundaries by interaction and sharing where they may be.


Boundaries with men and women in recovery can be solid brick wall type boundaries in some respects. It all depends on the inclination of men and women and how they wish to live their lives and the actions they take. And behind these actions, there is an internal and difficult personal turmoil which is about step six and seven. Boundaries which are set with fear pride and ego can work against us. Boundaries set with courage faith and confidence in sharing what our personal boundaries offers a way to respectful interactions. Of course there will still be people who have no idea what boundaries are, and they do not hear or understand the boundary. Sometimes we have to tell people to fuck off and mind their own business. We don't have to put ourselves at risk, at the same time if we are trying to build relationships and live in an open, honest and willing way, we do need to develop our personal freedom and choices and see how they can be respected by others.


Some of the things I have learned over the years about learning how to be a man in recovery needed no extra help from people around me. I did need to be around men who were strong and sober in character and learning life. I am a natural flirt, flirtatious and I love to flirt with women, at the same time this would have got in the way of my recovery had I spent all my time flirting with women who used to drink like me. I feel the same applies to women who are natural flirts and flirtatious. There is nothing wrong with being flirtatious and how to be flirtatious in recovery, but not if it's going to get in the way of sobriety, women need strong and sober women to help them in recovery. So whatever your flirtatious nature may be, this must not get in the way of recovery and sobriety.


Depending on our own personal conduct, boundaries become natural. Some natural boundaries are brick walls erected for self-protection. Some natural boundaries are about tolerance and love, and develop over time where friendships happen naturally. Boundaries are different, different strokes for different folks. And we can only learn this through time. Just because you fancy somebody in recovery, a completely natural happening, we then need to work out the appropriateness of where we are and where they are in their lives. There are many predators around, both male and female. And in the vernacular, there are many "ball breakers" both male and female in fellowship. Misogyny is a two-way street in recovery, men who use women horribly, and women who use men horribly, and sometimes in order to understand the range of what men and women do to each other, some go to other fellowships like Coda, which is about for co-dependence.


Co-dependence: all about power, where someone the some reason has power over another person and the person allows another to be powerful over them. It leads to horrible scenarios of abuse. Behind it is a desire to be loved, no matter what. And when power is being used in a relationship in an abusive way, it is not love, it is something else. Why do people go back for another go when all they get is abuse either physical or emotional? There are many reasons; behind it is always a need to be loved. And we are all for whatever reason susceptible to abusive relationships. And boundaries are a very important part of our learning on the road to recovery, some need be rock solid, some need to be understood and negotiated, and some boundaries need never exist when there is love, as we truly learn what it is to love and be loved back.


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Thursday, 22 August 2013

Alcoholics Anonymous August 22 DonInLondon | Step 8 "Amends And Willing"

Alcoholics Anonymous August 22 DonInLondon Step 8 "Amends And Willing"

Step 8 "Amends And Willing"


August 22, 2013: "step eight can lead to unacceptable expectations of others. Just because we are on the road to redemption, it does not mean it is the same for other people, often they are on the road to perdition." Indeed, the behaviour attitudes and prejudices that other people have keep them on this road of ruin and there is no emotional or spiritual enlightenment. It could be that they live their whole lives with very dark outlooks. If there were such a word it would be "endarkenment."


Many people have found themselves judged and then accepted the judgement of other people. They have lost their adaptability and tenacity. They have lost the ability to be open, honest and willing in a world which seems like it is closed down, dishonest and unwilling to include them. And although step eight is all about redemption, clearing the wreckage of the past, we will encounter many caught up in their own wreckage and ruin. Are we here to change them? The simple answer is no. The more complicated answer is what we do by example, and by example we can illuminate the world. We can still be open, honest and willing, and see the truth of now. Those on a path of enlightenment and those on the path of endarkenment.


Truth love and wisdom are critical elements which keep a body and soul working well. When we have found ourselves on a path of truth, we often temper our responses to people with love, and let them get away with things which we would not do ourselves. Anger and resentment is brewing. And we need to remind ourselves that we are all on the path of learning, that we don't have to go back to step two, doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different result is insanity. We give people leeway, we learn from the wisdom of life and we make decisions which are fair and honest as we find fairness and honesty. Don't forget a lot of the world has been taught to be dishonest and trying to get something for nothing. If there is no effort, endeavour and toil, nothing changes.


A friend of mine mentioned that the world can go to hell if good people do nothing. And it is true, if we do nothing even if we are good, the results can be very bad, because we are putting up with things which are just wrong. Why am I writing this? Because I was beaten down by alcohol to the point where I lost all judgement about what might be true and what might be false. Self-esteem issues, fear, pride and ego can undermine recovery and put us on a backward trail very quickly. We need the courage to change, developing faith in doing the next right thing and having the confidence to rise to challenges as they happen. If we procrastinate, complain rather than explain, we find ourselves back in the darkness of here we go again.


And I know it's not easy to have the courage to change because I found it so difficult to seek out truth and wisdom from others when things were going badly. And I ended up in an industry which was all about profit and had no integrity whatsoever. And the bonus system may people ugly, greedy and out for themselves. I was lucky enough to fall out of that type of industry, suffered excruciating years in the wilderness of life. And then found a wilderness and then a Fellowship put me back together again, the help of many helping me as a single person find my voice and outlook again. A different voice a different outlook, sober, with the opportunity to be happy joyous and free depending on the current conditions of the day which could be good, bad or ugly or all of them in one day.


Certainly in Fellowship, we have the opportunity to live and work together with the twelve steps and twelve traditions providing sound principles and a good starting point. And in many organisations, family, community and society the same is true because integrity, openness, honesty and willingness to learn still prevail. And we also know there are many places where there is nothing which holds people together, absolutely nothing. And these days I have learned that we can live with the enlightened and let go those who have become endarkened and ruinous to themselves and others. People can change if change is what they need and want. People can change, but I know I am powerless to impose those changes which might be desired by me and not by them. Influence yes, impose a change, no way.


Having had poor service from my landlord's agents over the last few years and a specialist expert attending and basically condemning all my plumbing, I feel happy joyous and free because I was right all along. I feel sad for the agents who did nothing but botch and patch and never tell the true story. And there are consequences for my landlord, anyone being sent by them will be signing in, I will have a signing in book. The signing in book will require that they show their current credentials, current qualifications, that they know exactly what they are here to do in terms of instruction from the landlord, time in and time out, name and telephone number. I might also photograph them, and tell them there will be a Webcam watching their progress for the time they are here to repair anything. And I have also banned certain individuals from being involved in current or future activities who cannot provide adequate qualifications be they a surveyor or a surface cleaner. And their personal conduct and their interpersonal skills need be good or they will be ejected summarily if they fail to get the job done properly and in a timely way.


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Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Alcoholics Anonymous August 21 DonInLondon Step 8 "Amends And Willing"

Alcoholics Anonymous Video August 21 DonInLondon Step 8 "Amends And Willing"

Step 8 "Amends And Willing"


August 21, 2013: "how do we deal with knowledgeable idiots? Number one, do not assume that they are an idiot or knowledgeable. Find out a little bit about their background if you can and why you are in their company." Sometimes, based on old judgements and old knowledge we make assumptions about the abilities of other people. Or we become more open to knowledgeable idiots in recovery because we can think that they are normal, and in fact they are quite ignorant because of their own belligerent denial. Or we just don't know what their agenda is when we are in their company. I must not act out of contempt, I need to investigate and check whether they are ignoramuses after all.


Sometimes and recovery, and learning this new life of being open honest and willing to change, we apply the same outlooks to people we encounter in life. Within the fellowship we might come to believe that everybody is on the path of righteousness! This is not true; everyone in recovery is on a journey and is still learning what it is to live an emotional and spiritual life. A lot of people are new, a lot of people are getting well, a lot of people are changing to the good, and there are also characters who remain bad and ugly. We don't get to see the bad and ugly until it is upon us, and it can be very disappointing when we find individuals can be very selfish, full of ego pride and fear and behaving very badly. I have learned to walk away from the judgemental old temperamental gits who have personal agendas which can be harmful to me. And what about other people?


For several years I have tried to encourage my landlord and their repair agents to fix various internal problems. And the evidence is now overwhelming, that repairs over the last few years have been causing damage in my abode and worse in my neighbours abode downstairs. A specialist plumber came yesterday and declared that the plumbing in my various water related, compartments was substandard and never installed correctly or to a standard expected today. I have been right all along and my landlord and their agents have blatantly misinformed me for their own reasons whatever they may be. I'm not going to teach them a lesson, not me personally, I'm going to let the professionals argue it out for themselves and put me back in my place as a client. As a client I need to report the truth to those with influence and gumption and common sense to take appropriate action. It is not my opinion which matters here; it is the opinions of those professionals to argue things out correctly and properly.


So what am I doing? I'm going to write a report and let go and that other people sort out their own particular responsibilities with regard to actions required in my abode and the abode of my neighbour. Step one: powerless over people places and things with regard to their power to do something. Today I cannot put it right on my own, I need to marshal and inform the right resources who have the capacity to do something. Step two: the madness of doing the same thing over and over again will not restore me to sanity, at the same time I can report the insanity of other people, and what they do and the things which have not worked. Step three: let go being right about the wrongs, because if I don't I will head into the madness of yesteryear.


Step ten: forgive everybody everything every day. People are doing the best they can with what they know. People every day are learning the limits of their capacities, or that their capacities are better utilised in different ways. Step ten, see my part in matters, and understand the limits of my influence are also influenced by the capacities of other people to do the right thing. Other people can be doing the wrong things in the wrong way because they fear trying to change or put things right when they have no power to do so. It is a tricky thing, to admit previous mistakes, to have been in denial and to have been obstructive. Forgive yes, as a consequence however we may say no to interacting with them ever again, either because they are incompetent or often because we just don't like them. We are not here to change anybody, we have the power to keep on changing ourselves, and we are all on an emotional and spiritual journey. And sometimes people keep living an emotional and spiritual nightmare one day at a time.


Having encountered quite difficult people recently, incompetent, obstructive, careless and stupid, it can be very difficult to feel any forgiveness? After the anger and the initial upset, I feel genuinely sad for their dilemmas which must really keep them on the approach to step one and never getting there. Working together is a far better outlook, and encouraging and influencing people to be open and honest and willing is where we can all make a difference in the life of others. The adage, "you can take a horse to water but you can't make it drink," and another one, "as stubborn as a mule." We do not have to keep on hitting our heads against a brick wall. We can always find another brick wall and another, or simply find a new path and live with those we choose and can love.


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Alcoholics Anonymous August 20 DonInLondon Step 8 "Amends And Willing"

Alcoholics Anonymous August 20 DonInLondon Step 8 "Amends And Willing"


Step 8 "Amends And Willing"

August 20, 2013: "on the way to acceptance: denial, anger, frustration, and sometimes a reactive depression and sometimes a clinical depression and then some acceptance." Some acceptance, will lead into acceptance of the reality of now and it takes time. And often when it involves habitual and devastating experiences, the process towards acceptance happens and is relived over and over again." DonInLondon


Over the last few days, small irritations connected with long standing problems could have made me feel outraged and unhappy. When I got my last batch of medications which are for type I diabetes and other complications, the prescription was incomplete and it was also inaccurate and some of the medications have changed in terms of manufacturer. And over the last couple of weeks I had felt lightheaded, and when my blood pressure was checked yesterday, sitting and standing, it was quite low and for all the time I have been in recovery and before, my blood pressure was always excellent. Fortunately I will be having blood tests which have been ordered by my medical practitioner. I am unhappy about the mistakes made in my prescription at the same time I am happy that I can see them. I'm not happy that generic medications have been prescribed instead of the brand medications, and only time will tell if there is any difference. On a happier note, with low blood pressure, and some Viagra in the cupboard, I could experiment and see if I get my blood pressure up! Acceptance is a key.


Step eight, starts with forgiving me for not knowing the road I was travelling with the help of a drink. And nobody wants to look foolish or fearful in the face of adversity. I was taught to stand on my own two feet, put on a brave face and get on with it. It certainly worked well, to be able to adapt quickly like a chameleon and then succeed in whatever endeavour I took on. I would always say yes, dive in and have a go at whatever endeavour seemed okay at the time. I do forgive myself, because it was habitual to be a trouble-shooter and learn the skills and actions required. And my way of chilling out was always drink at the end of the day, and oblivion became the norm rather than the unusual. I forgive myself, I was doing the best I could with what I knew back in the day.


Anyway back to my journey of acceptance over the last couple of days. I do accept that people make mistakes and also know that with the change in personnel within my medical practice, and the changing their systems and computers, there have been more than a few mistakes along the way. I forgive them, and still there was some residual denial, anger, frustration and a feeling of being fed up of having to do the same thing again: just put things back to where they were before.


Myths and legends: doctors or medical practitioners may be very well versed and educated and skilled. It does not mean that they are always right, and often because they have their own prejudices about people, places and things, they do not listen and they don't want to be seen as wrong. Professionals with their qualifications are no better than the experiences that they have developed through time. Never fear asking questions, never fear feeling stupid in front of a professional, keep on asking the questions until you feel confident in the answers being given. Yes I can forgive people, at the same time there are consequences and some people I will not deal with again. Indeed some people can fuck off in my humble opinion.


All good! Yesterday was a good day, that is 20 August 2013. Getting medical help on the one hand, getting further tests done to discover if anything has changed and do I need to change anything about what I need to do in future. I can do my part and in so doing, I can improve the knowledge and understanding of those professionals tasked with helping me. Step eight in mind; if I can forgive me for my inner tantrums, it leads me to forgive everyone else as they learn on the rocky road of destiny.


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Monday, 19 August 2013

Alcoholics Anonymous | August 19 DonInLondon Step 8 "Amends And Willing"

Learning To Live With Each Other


August 19, 2013: "thank God for the group conscience!" God "good" works through many people. And within our fellowship the group conscience and what happens in a particular meeting is for everyone to decide and not just the management committee or rather the "trusted servants" fulfilling commitments of service.


Sometimes when people are new to fellowship and particularly when they have been around a while, they can still take advantage of the good nature of most people who belong to a group or a meeting. And within my community where there are 700 meetings weekly, often we find disagreeable behaviour which undermines the peace and tranquillity and dare I say it, the group serenity and individual sensibilities. The person who goes round begging at every meeting, who does not enjoy the trust to be handed the pot on its way round, in case they need money to pay for rent and services, a birthday card to be sent to their loved one, or for whatever reason makes them cry over and over again. I say, "Let go and let God," because if I use my judgement I would have been dead a long time ago.


Old attitudes and behaviour prevail around other people in recovery. We can all have a prejudice about a person and I mentioned yesterday just how easy it is to bump into disagreeable people and even people we can choose to dislike. Just because we don't like them, just because they are different, just because their best way to behave, and by that I mean people behave as best they can with what they know in the moment of now, I would not exclude them under any circumstances under my own steam and under my own judgement. That is why we have a group conscience. We are trusted servants.


Sometimes people have a relapse, sometimes people stop taking their medication, sometimes they are so desperate, they go back to the way they were before. And sometimes some of us have an attitude and a prejudice about certain groups of people. How many times have we all been profoundly upset by how some meetings are run? I can remember years and years ago, one person was frequently arrested when they turned up at meetings, certainly off their medication and dangerous. And yet this individual is still sober today. It does not mean I will write them off when they're feeling bad, when they are in or close to their right mind, they can be very agreeable on the road of happy destiny, as long as I don't meet them on it too often. Always the many help one, and when it goes the opposite way round where the many do not help, the outcome is bleak and dark for that individual.


In meetings, when a group conscience is called, often the most level headed fear staying because of controversy. Or they do not feel motivated to stay and argue, or should I say debate? Group conscience is a democratic form of something, what the something is depends on what the group conscience decides. It can be something about the brand of tea, matters of safety, and often matters to do with individual behaviour which some people do not like. It all starts with self-prejudice, and then becomes judgemental prejudice towards single people who probably are not part of the group conscience and a lot of stuff goes on with hearsay and gossip. Even if the gossip is true, condemning an individual and excluding them will put us all back in the dark places.


When a person habitually does something which upsets people, for example begging, eventually people stop giving when it becomes plain that they cannot give any more for whatever reason. In other words each individual makes up their own mind about their own personal conduct. Tradition seven, when we read it, it makes sense. Whenever we are putting another person down for what they do, because it does not fit with our values and beliefs, we are endangering our own sobriety, and this is something I have learned over the years. Brazen behaviour by others, to undermine or use the fellowship for other reasons, I try to keep out of that area of judgement, or I would be a very lonely person all over again. Self-prejudice, self-hate undermines our ability to love others far more quickly and undermines good living principles, "live and let live." People learn, or they don't when it comes to personal conduct. And utilising the group conscience usually and hopefully helps produce a result of tolerance and love in the long run, even when we hate the notion on the day.


Cheats, liars, thieves, when we apply the emotional and spiritual understanding, certainly who am I to judge? I can only be certain that I follow a path which helps me with my emotional and spiritual sobriety today. There is redemption, but not in our own desired time scale, in the present moment of now? I need to rely on gumption, common sense and the group conscience one day at a time.


Our fellowship! We are all tested over time, how we want to live, how we can learn to live again. The way people are helped, is helping each of us learn a new way of life. If we try making people orderly, taking on ideas and principles which do not fit with them, we are back to the basic problem that the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous faced early on. The more rules and regulations, the more laws and enforcement of them would end fellowship.


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