Monday, 30 September 2013

Alcoholics Anonymous Sept 30 DonInLondon Step 9 " Amends Into Action"

Alcoholics Anonymous Blog/Video Sept 30 DonInLondon Step 9 " Amends Into Action"

Step 9 " Amends Into Action"


September 30, 2013: "end of the month and sharing about step nine, part of the transition into a life where openness, honesty and willingness will pay dividends for everyone." And yet it is still difficult to overcome the shame and guilt, the fear of being found out if we have not been thorough in our understanding of how the steps work in real life.


Clearing the wreckage of the past is a really difficult process and not something that can be done overnight, even when we have gone through the process of self-examination, giving up our best friend, the addiction and the oblivion, real life is quite difficult. In real life, we keep on creating the wreckage of the past until we are thoroughly aware of old behaviour and attitudes and actions which lead back to a desire for oblivion, and learning new behaviour which leads into new attitudes, new behaviour and actions. This is where step six can prevail on any given day, and the defects come out to play. Or we are more conscious and more aware of the opportunity with courage to change, faith in next actions and the growing confidence to make mistakes and learn from them with step seven.


In meetings around here, and thankfully there are many, we listen to the experience strength and hope of people new in the Fellowship, people learning how the steps work in reality, and even when we have understood and live the steps as part of our way of life, even if we are a newcomer or an old timer, every day is a new day of learning. And old behaviour so ingrained over the years can be very difficult to shake off.


Married people! Very often married people find life extremely difficult with their partner who may not be in recovery because they don't need to be. And somebody who is married, changing the old life, the old attitudes and behaviour, throws up many complications. How on earth do we relate in a new way to partners? How can we be intimate like we used to be? And the answer is, we need to be open honest and vulnerable and willing to ask all the old questions, and very new questions about how to relate and how to be intimate and how to learn to love one day at a time. Assumptions can be the very devil in the detail. Having had to accept our own recovery and what that means, what does it mean to partners, to family, to friends and wider society? Unless we share and reveal, everyone we know is disabled because they don't know the truth. Always truly difficult unless we find humility to be the greatest power of learning one day at a time.


Ego, pride and fear can keep us stuck and ignorant. And the problem with ego pride and fear, is usually trying to hide or defend the truth of what happened. And until we are acquainted with our own frailties and vulnerability and actually see the gift in acceptance, we run the risk of never growing and never knowing our full emotional and spiritual potential one day at a time. Step nine can be very liberating, and don't forget that sometimes people in our lives deserve to be liberated from us.


If we approach step nine in an open honest and willing way, working out the immediate amends which can be made, where we need further information in order to make amends which are important, the phrase, "without doing further harm," is not a way to smooth over difficult amends, it is about due consideration for everyone, not just us. Courage to change, faith in doing the next right thing, confidence growing and learning and with humility becomes a power in itself far greater as we ask for help one day at a time.


I love recovery; I am learning my emotions in real time. Feelings fitting with the moment of now. In conversation with my best friend yesterday and hearing about how they are enjoying a new freedom never experienced before is a real and happy experience. Indeed it is about spiritual awakenings, feeling right in the moment of now even if life is good, bad or ugly. Righteous anger through to unconditional love is to be experienced based on what is happening. And often by asking for help at the right time, in the moment of now, we learn what we can do and what we cannot do and the wisdom keeps on growing until we expire.


Step nine releases many of us from the bondage of self. And at the same time it can be very difficult because we release others in the process. Amends with love can cause endings we might prefer never to happen. At the same time as we face loss, the freedom which comes from telling the truth, offers everyone freedom, forgiveness and tolerance, and maybe then we learn how to love again, how to be loved back without any conditions in the moment of now.


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Alcoholics Anonymous Sept 29 DonInLondon Step 9 " Amends Into Action"

Alcoholics Anonymous Blog/Video Sept 29 DonInLondon Step 9 " Amends Into Action"

Step 9 " Amends Into Action"


September 29, 2013: "building relationships and being inclusive in our living is critical for everyone on the planet." And after a week of frustrating medical tests, inclusivity can be very difficult when the people are suspicious of what we may be doing. From Monday to Friday, trying to be inclusive was made more difficult by inherent prejudices about people in recovery and people with mental health conditions. And of course, recovery is a mental health issue for anyone trudging the road of happy destiny.


What first started as an investigation into my general health, problems with prescriptions, a timely review of medications for type I diabetes, and the impact of a change in supplier of one generic medication, was undermined by the activities and attitudes and behaviour of other people. The automatic process of repeat prescriptions meant some medications were ready for me at the local pharmacy and I was unaware that this had happened. The impact on the GP practice led them to believe I might be trying to get additional quantities of my medications. And I only realised at the end of this frustrating week, that people in the practice were suspicious. Only when I produced repeat prescriptions I had kept to talk about with the doctor, did he realise that both of us were in the dark about our intentions.


The doctor was trying to understand why I had only a couple of days of medication available, as he thought I had had a complete repeat prescription the week before. Whilst we were discussing the shortage, he asked me why I was asking the medication which had been prescribed the week before. And I was astonished of course, because the chemist said he would wait for me to sort things out. In between complaining to the chemist and the medical practice, my usual prescription list had been reordered without me knowing. Once we understood that neither of us had been up-to-date in the activities of other people, the medical review went much more smoothly. I also had an ECG Friday lunchtime. Although I don't know the exact nature of the results, it seems that nothing startling or nothing to worry about in particular is going on.


I still have two results to come back and the results should be ready by next Thursday morning. In some ways one of these results or both could have quite an impact on me, so I have to wait and see. I feel much better having had all these tests; my diabetic condition is improving over time. Blood sugars better, cholesterol better, and all the blood works seem to be okay. I did find it difficult to produce a stool specimen which would fit into the small receptacle provided, and in the end, after much personal hilarity at home, I managed this particular sample. Even though this is necessary, it could be embarrassing and it can cause hysteria in the process of collection, and then delivering the sample to the hospital.


Being of a certain age, the usual problems that some of us get with digestive issues, a rectal examination was required. I am not a fan of rectal examinations per se, that's me not particularly enjoying the experience. Especially when the sensation I imagine to be similar to sticking a large toilet brush up one's back passage with very stiff bristles and then turn it round several times. Or being examined by someone using an exfoliating glove with coal tar soap. Although the sensation lasted only a few seconds, it is unforgettable. And apparently it might be a good idea to have a camera have a good look and rummage sometime in the future which is yet to be determined.


Using the can-do cannot do philosophy in the serenity prayer; it is very useful because I cannot overcome the prejudice of other people, who assume that anyone in recovery or with a mental health condition is trying to acquire additional medication for the sake of it or simply to find their way into another oblivious state. Of course there needs to be caution, and that applies both ways, to medical people and those taking the medication. And when you do not see the same doctor ever in the same practice, the doctors do not always take account of the individual; they make assumptions based on evidence or worse, hearsay and attitudes that prevail through ignorance about individual patients. General assumptions are very bad medical practice. And this prevails.


Although it's been frustrating, I feel much better knowing that some things are okay, type I diabetes with improving results, blood work good, no anaemia and no thyroid problems. My blood pressure in my left arm is quite alarmingly low, and then when they took my blood pressure in my right arm, it was alarmingly normal. So I am quite interested in what the ECG will show me when interpreted by an expert doctor, and what the stool sample result will be. This is part of recovery!


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Friday, 27 September 2013

Alcoholics Anonymous Sept 27 DonInLondon Step 9 " Amends Into Action"

Alcoholics Anonymous Blog/Video Sept 27 DonInLondon Step 9 " Amends Into Action"

Step 9 " Amends Into Action"


September 27, 2013: "building relationships and being inclusive in our living is critical for everyone on the planet." Quite a bold statement when often we are confronted by and helpful people, places and things going on which we cannot fathom. Forgiveness for the way people behave towards us when it feels bad and ugly is a truly good way to live. Of course, I could be wrong!


Everybody in the UK anticipates that the national health service, the NHS, will be there and able to support anyone needing help. Usually this expectation is confounded by the actual experience of what happens if we are ill. After all these years of technology, coupled with the professionalism of GPs, and professionalism within hospitals is being undermined in so many ways. This week is proving to be an education to me. I was hoping for a smooth week, go to the medical practice, get my results and then see what I need to work on between now and November when I go to hospital for the specialised check-up. A personal amends to make to myself: I need to try to keep on forgiving or I will shut the door on those who have answers and can help me one day at a time. If I don't forgive, anger and resentment will keep me away from those I need in order to maintain my emotional, physical and spiritual health.


My current medical practice has over 7000 patients on the books. That's a lot of people. I hope you don't all get ill at once and I hope their situations are less complicated than mine. Monday of this week started with my agenda of getting results and a repeat bimonthly prescription which never changes, but is often disrupted by IT glitches and GPs/locums who don't understand how the IT works. I got my results back, which are better than they have been for a while so I am pleased. Less pleased to have to take some other tests connected with low blood pressure, dizzy spells, and some digestive issues. So I will be off to take more tests this morning and try ensure my prescriptions are back on track, currently no expectation of achieving this right now. Forgive everybody everything!


Two invitations this week I cannot keep. And these two invitations would have been really good for me and hopefully can be rescheduled. I was very lucky yesterday to get to see my sister; she was in very good form and on top of lots of different things going on in her life. I do admire what she does. And my sister is very supportive and understanding about life being difficult, not only for herself, she is hugely supportive of other people including me and I have immeasurable gratitude personally. And we can laugh, and we can be sensitive and we can be caring and inclusive. Inclusion in family, community and society is so vital to the survival of any individual. That's how it works and gives purpose to life. We all give in our own way, and receive in our own way.


On the plus side I also got to two meetings this week, when I get to a meeting I realise the benefit. We will always hear good bad and ugly things in meetings. We will hear the opinions and beliefs of other people as they express their version of truth. I only say it is a version of the truth, and I only express belief and opinion, and sometimes it is the truth. With inclusion, we start to build a better outlook and as we all express the truth as we see it, we will find common ground some of the time and conflict even at the fundamental level about what the truth is today. I might be right today, and of course tomorrow it could be wrong! Forgive everybody everything!


The more we know, very often we come to the conclusion we really don't know that much. And we can become more included by accepting that we don't know very much and many people can provide much more information, experience, strength and hope on any given day. And I mention again because it's quite important to me that anyone can be guilty of contempt prior to investigation.


Contempt prior to investigation! A BBC programme highlighted that medical professionals do not often listen to patients who have physical problems if they already have mental health issues recorded on their computer. The BBC programme discussed with a Prof of psychiatry and a patient how general practitioners see the mental health issue, and then ignore any physical problems the patient might express. I felt a lot better hearing and seeing what was being shared because my general practitioners cannot often get beyond the mental health and recovery perspective, they stop listening and treat me as intellectually challenged and mentally deficient. I do have chemical deficiencies in my brain chemistry; it no longer has alcohol sloshing about in it. The brain in my head no longer numbed and no longer full of prejudice especially self-prejudice these days. There is however an acute awareness that medical people generally are prejudiced to some others they serve and the listening skills are almost non-existent.


Sometimes the truth can be elusive. And the on-going experience we face in recovery is to be open, honest and willing to keep on working with the truth and not to give up when others are ignorant and unhelpful. As a poet wrote, "even the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story." Thank God I don't have to live their story, the life of an ignorant and dull individual may be self-serving, and it is not for me. So I will deploy and utilise experience strength and hope of step six and step seven. I can make it a step six day, where fear pride and ego will fuck me up, or try for a step seven day, courage to change, faith in doing the next right thing and keep on being confident that eventually I will be heard and listened to today. If not, better to forgive everyone everything and let them face the consequences of their actions today. I don't have to live like them.


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Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Alcoholics Anonymous Sept 25 DonInLondon Step 9 " Amends Into Action"

Alcoholics Anonymous Blog/Video Sept 25 DonInLondon Step 9 " Amends Into Action"

Step 9 " Amends Into Action"


September 25, 2013: "the last few days and the next few days are all about medical tests." And last night a reading from the literature about health professionals and how they are somewhat hindered when trying to help the alcoholic. When trying to help the active alcoholic that is, because when there is no rhyme or reason in a thinking man's or woman's mind to why person cannot stop drinking, prejudice can run riot. Professionals very often do not wish to accept that addiction is a disease and renders a person powerless over there addiction. Unless of course the person who is a medical professional has become an active addict or alcoholic.


And what about prejudice by individuals in recovery towards some of the medical fraternity? Very easy to poke holes in the ability of others to be helpful. And when I start to hear cautionary tales about the competence and professionalism of some medical people, from the mouths of those who could not stop their own addictive behaviour without the help of the many, is it any wonder that some medical professionals cannot understand addiction nor can they understand why the addict cannot stop of their own accord?


When we listen to others in recovery, sometimes we hear the most harrowing and difficult stories of loss. We are not immune to the rest of life happening and sometimes outside help is absolutely necessary to help an alcoholic or an addict keep on track and understand how to experience grief and how to grieve. Just because we know and have lived through grief ourselves, and there may be recognisable ways of understanding grieving, until it is experienced personally, we are somewhat hindered in our helpfulness. And everyone will grieve differently depending on their life experiences. And when individuals in recovery make judgements and condemn medical professionals, counsellors and therapeutic processes, that sort of prejudice is the prejudice of ignorance.


When people say or the odd individual says, "all you need is the big book and do the twelve steps," they forget everything else to do with recovery. And there is nothing worse than a zealot, a fixed outlook without flexibility preaching ignorance to other people. The Fellowship is about love, care, emotional and spiritual living. It is the experience of living which provides context and how the twelve steps are lived, anyone can read the big book and know the twelve steps, they cannot develop experience, strength and hope and pass an exam. Recovery is simply sober today and then everything that life with throw at us be it good, bad and ugly. I do believe medical professionals are learning, counsellors and therapeutic listeners are all part of the mix in learning and understanding how to help an addict in recovery.


And a TV programme last night, all about Paul Gascoigne, the famous footballer who experiences the highs and lows of being an addict in recovery. I could only really watch the first few minutes and then needed to stop watching. It is not because his story of experience strength and hope is alien to me, by no means, I just didn't need more last night after a good meeting locally. So the word is being spread, I don't know how well programmes on TV help people understand. The good news is that TV programmes about addiction and where it takes people opens the door to some finding their way to medical professionals and maybe the Fellowship. In Fellowship I hope people remember that we are nonprofessional, and that part from the big book which suggests that if we do not know what is good for ourselves, we better be careful when we express views about what might be right for others.


So these last few days I have been immersed in medical matters to do with me. There is good news, I've improved my blood sugar averages, and I have improved my cholesterol levels. All the blood tests taken so far suggest that my major organs are all working well and the ingredients in my blood seem to be okay. I am being tested however, more blood tests for thyroid function. And I have to get and EEG done later in the week. And there are questions around low blood pressure and dizziness. And there are some conflicts in my own mind about the way GPs and some professionals conduct themselves. Having tried to get my prescriptions dispensed correctly over the last four weeks, I have yet to succeed. So I could be in the camp of undermining and decrying the competence of GPs in general and especially the guidelines medical professionals have to follow. These guidelines are like life, very often subject to individual interpretation, individual prejudices and individual attitudes and behaviour towards patients, not just alcoholics and addicts, everyone they see. There is good bad and ugly everywhere. Malfeasance by professionals and wilful prejudice is as bad as malfeasance and wilful prejudice of alcoholics and addicts in recovery.


So it is an interesting world, ignorance and prejudice can make life very ugly. And I am thankful that the spiritual awakening in the big book appendix II, always helps me get back on track. When we live in an open honest and willing way, to keep on learning with an open mind on all elements of life, life becomes more meaningful. And the worst part of anything is contempt prior to investigation. Just because something is not working now, it does not mean that it cannot be changed or least we can find a path out of harms way. And when we listen to others who have experienced grief and loss and sought outside help, outside the Fellowship, undermining the efficacy and helpfulness of outside help is a really ignorant thing to do. A bit like tarring all alcoholics with the same brush.


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Sunday, 22 September 2013

Alcoholics Anonymous Sept 22 DonInLondon Step 9 "Amends Into Action"

Alcoholics Anonymous Blog/Video Sept 22 DonInLondon Step 9 "Amends Into Action"

Step 9 "Amends Into Action"


September 22, 2013: "shame and guilt about the past, usually so many reasons why we feel shame and guilt, what happened and the cause can be lost when we prefer to cover up the truth and not let it out." And chatting with a friend yesterday things which happened in childhood and those growing years around shame and guilt, can hardly be talked about by anyone anywhere at any time. Letting out the truth and expressing the truth can be very healing, can be very destructive and something most people avoid at all costs? Seems that way a lot of the time.


Writing my life story, the real life story rather than the one I felt compelled to write when under supervision in a mental health unit was more meaningful. Compelled to write a life story as part of treatment and then to be shared with counsellors who either had gone through their own trials and tribulations, or had a casual acquaintance with psychotherapy offered me the opportunity to highlight what bad people did to me, and exaggerate some elements of me because I was still covering up the fear with pride and ego.


My childhood experiences at home tended to be very happy and good. Outside the home as a child, the nature of children and growing up can be like an inquisition into all aspects of human experience. Some of us experienced the abusive behaviour of older children, emotional and physical and sexual. Where these older children learned and how they shared with younger children leads the imagination to run riot. Abuse, as a child, the word abuse is not understood, and sometimes what seemed a very enjoyable experience and very interesting, was actually abuse. Laced into this is the guilt and shame of finding out what we enjoyed in childhood, was in fact abuse by others. Breaking free and saying it happened, and realising that what seemed okay and good when it happened only to find it was as wrong as it gets when we are growing into our teenage years can really undermine and close down any person as they mature into adult life.


It is very difficult to open the door to what happened in the past and those experiences of childhood. Unless we understand that children learn from each other and what children do has a lot to do with how they are exposed to different experiences of life. A child really does not have much say when innocent playing becomes abusive and corrupting. When we look at our own story, we always need to look at where the power and control resided in those childhood times and who was educating us. And when we look at what happened with due care and attention, rather than labelling ourselves in some way, we can start to understand what happened, let go of shame and guilt and start realising that there is a way out and away to share and express and get past the cover up and find some way into recovery from those experiences. Even though we could be scarred and harmed and have completely misunderstood and therefore covered up, with the right help in a timely way we learn how to live the way we wish to live in a natural way today. Some may feel that is impossible. And it may be.


The illicit secrets and what seemed like play as a child, learning how to keep secrets did me no good. And then as we grow up and find out the right and wrong of those experiences, the guilt and shame is overwhelming and a strong determination never to talk about what happened fuels a rage inside and an extreme desire never to be found out. And a strong desire to feel normal meant it took years to unravel and the emotional pain would have broken me had I not had the benefit and honesty of others around me who loved me. What hurts most looking back is the corruption of love. And yesterday in the meeting I was sharing about how each day I keep on learning to love unconditionally, still feel it difficult to be loved back unconditionally and find purpose? We all have purpose even though we don't know it today.


All the things I'm sharing about today were not discussed in the meeting of Fellowship, but arose in conversation with a friend afterwards. It came out of their needs to share something about what I said about childhood. Children learn from each other about everything which is quite natural, and then adults with good intent can misinterpret, can be corrupting and can be quite dangerous. And we don't know the difference as children. We both agreed that we were lucky to find recovery and restore our outlook and rid ourselves of the shame and guilt we had felt. When we look back as adults, we can condemn ourselves without realising that we had no power over some experiences we had. Both of us have had the benefit of professional help, real professional help and the benefit of many different sponsors for many different reasons. In my case one or two sponsors to take me through the initial stages of the steps, and then other sponsors connected to other experiences back in the day and the dark past, and often sponsors who help us for different reasons as matters arise one day at a time. Getting to the truth, and also getting to the mythology I created around all that stuff in the past, I realised just how powerless I was in many respects. All based on fear of being found out and guilty that I could not get myself out of harms way. Today I can.


When there seems to be no safe place in one's life, where we hold secrets from our very early days in living, the nagging doubts often create deep emotional turmoil. Finding out what is natural in our instincts is really important. And of course there are so many different value judgements about right and wrong, I feel lucky to have had opportunity all through my life because it was necessary to have counselling as part of my professional work which help me understand the difference and find a moral compass within. At the same time, society experienced decades of liberation which offered everything to those who worked hard and played hard. I will never be a puritan dressed in black with a white collar and black hat judging the world, I simply prefer to be me, learning what it is to live and really experience the truth of now as it unfolds and with freedom to choose what I do today.


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Saturday, 21 September 2013

Alcoholics Anonymous Sept 21 DonInLondon Step 9 " Amends Into Action"

Alcoholics Anonymous Blog/Video Sept 21 DonInLondon Step 9 " Amends Into Action"

DonInLondon Step 9 " Amends Into Action"


September 21, 2013: "denial: I can't believe it, coming to terms with truth in extreme circumstances is something all humans experience every day." Life in the raw, good bad or ugly can produce extreme feelings and fear clouds the truth, ego challenges our beliefs and opinions about the truth and pride can delude us into believing we know the truth.


Needing and wanting certainty in an uncertain world, being resilient when life is tough, being steadfast when challenged to the very core of our being happens on a daily basis. And usually the person or people, places and things are going to challenge hardest is always our inner voice of reason and unreason. Developing the courage to change our outlook, challenge our own position, learning to greet reality in the cold light of day and faith in doing the next right thing needs each and every individual to have the confidence and flexibility to be open to the truth of each day as the truth develops.


When we face issues and problems, the logical mind and logic might suggest we need to divide our issues and problems into manageable chunks. When we are overwhelmed and confronted with immense issues, it does not break down into manageable chunks that we can control emotionally in the moment of now. Thankfully we do have denial when life is overwhelming or we would not be able to resurface and learn how to accept changes we prefer never happened. Loss of loved ones, loss of control, being out of control and so many different variations in life events can throw anyone off course into unmanageable territory. The greater our emotional repertoire, the greater our emotional range, the greater our knowledge and experience developed through time, unless of course we do become stuck in denial.


There is a meeting in half an hour, and I think I shall go and come back to writing later. And now a couple of hours later having seen many friends in recovery and listen to a wonderful chair, I feel happy. Just in time to get there, listening to words of wisdom, words heartfelt and emotional about the good, bad and ugly of life, balance feels like it has been restored. There is another meeting in an hour or so, more the regular meeting. There can be extra goodies to be heard, or it might fall flat. The number of meetings we attend is really subject to what we feel is right in the moment of now. A good meeting in the morning can be overshadowed by an awful and unfortunate set of events in another.


I am happy in the moment of now, HALT: I am neither hungry, angry, lonely or tired. I am refreshed having been out. There is never enough time in one day to be able to do everything. And recognising there is never enough time to do everything is good perspective about progress and not having to be perfect ever again. Imperfectly perfect, in the ever present present moment of now is as good as it gets today. And I find it wonderful that many younger people are finding recovery early, making sense of life on the emotional and spiritual level and then able to think about what they can do one day at a time. I may go to another meeting. I am very aware having been to a meeting how strong denial can be on any given day.


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Friday, 20 September 2013

Alcoholics Anonymous Sept 20 DonInLondon Step 9 " Amends Into Action"

Alcoholics Anonymous Blog/Video Sept 20 DonInLondon Step 9 " Amends Into Action"

Step 9 " Amends Into Action"


September 20, 2013: "part of my amend to myself is to recognise that I can be wrong." And if I can be wrong, I need to listen carefully and with humility to the beliefs and opinions of everyone I encounter. And another aspect of the amends process in my case is understanding why the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous should never be organised in the conventional sense. No single person holds power over another in our Fellowship.


Even though there is an understanding that the Fellowship of AA should never be organised, obviously many of us hold heartfelt beliefs and opinions about how we conduct ourselves in Fellowship. There can be the voice of reason, there can be the voice of control and a desire to be powerful. In my experience, even though it is a haphazard process, we are quite democratic. We may not get our way. However because we are all different in the way we conduct ourselves and that is a very powerful motivation to anyone anywhere reaching out for help, there will be a voice we can hear and they can be helpful. The more human we become, we show our defects of character and shortcomings to ourselves and the world. And the more human we are with humility, the more we learn one day at a time.


Even though I didn't recognise it at the time, one of the amends to myself was to recognise that I could not recover from the disease of alcoholism. I still had denial running rampant even though I recognised I could not find a way out on my own. Acceptance of my plight as an active alcoholic needing help, it was an amend even though I would not have seen it was an amend in those early days of struggle. The good news, I don't struggle with alcoholism, the bad news and the ugly news can happen around me and about me on any given day. The best news, having a clear head which still gets clouded when anger and resentments arise, now though it is far easier to stand back, and when I am unsure or even when I am certain, I have good companions on my road of recovery.


How am I feeling today? So important to recognise my emotional and spiritual condition, my feelings working, feelings fitting the moment and being able to make sense and cope today. On Tuesday night my head was buzzing and I struggled to get to sleep. I was aware that I needed to confront some medical issues and be very careful and very logical. The underlying feelings did have some fear and anxiety in them, when we challenge medical people and their competence, we do run risks and the thinking head can start going round and round in circles. Part of my process when I cannot understand why I am fearful, it is because I fear what has happened in the past in similar circumstances. At the same time I felt more levelheaded in the morning when I wrote a report as best I could and got it out of my system. I feel okay today, I know there are challenges ahead, the anger has gone, and I don't feel lonely or tired. My feelings fit with what is happening right now and I can cope. A living amend.


How often do we ask other people how they are feeling today? And really mean it. A usual greeting: "how are you?" And how often are we prepared to listen rather than speak about ourselves? I do listen in meetings, I listen before the meeting and after the meeting. And very often I can be the last person leaving having shared and listened to friends and newcomers on the journey of recovery. I can find it very tiring and quite difficult listening with care and attention, it is worth it, every single person needs others to listen. And very often I turn down the broadcast or turning off broadcasting completely to listen before sharing anything when I'm out and about.


Chatting with my best friend over the weekend, always good and always cherished moments, feedback is always helpful. And feedback reminded me all about my medical issues and what I needed to do, and not to procrastinate too long. I needed a firm reminder and to know my best friend has my best interests at heart, loves me without conditions and is available and able to set me back on track. So often, as she pointed out, we can please people and not assert our own needs which are of equal importance. And one of the best traits she shared I had, is about truth, the foundation of all good decisions and that I did tell the truth, although sometimes too much information of a very personal nature can make anybody squirm. Truth will out always in the end, the nature of the truth and truth itself is always changing. The world spins, global and local actions impact as they will and the truth is changing as actions change life.


In recovery we accept responsibility for our actions. And we make amends as we go if we are fortunate and able to do so. And as we know, families, communities and society in general face big challenges as the world is changing. Tradition nine reminds me that in democracy we all have a voice. And we are able to share our truth as we see it. Recovery offers this opportunity to find our voice and share what is important to us and the people around us. And there is a big problem with the way people places and things are running these days. More clarity, more transparency is opening the door to bigger opportunities for the truth to come out. And of course with truth we find out what is good bad and ugly. We can participate if we feel able, and through recovery I feel more able to speak my truth one day at a time. And of course I can be wrong and I can change and keep on learning today.


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Thursday, 19 September 2013

Alcoholics Anonymous Sept 19 DonInLondon Step 9 " Amends Into Action"

Alcoholics Anonymous Blog/Video Sept 19 DonInLondon Step 9 " Amends Into Action"

Step 9 " Amends Into Action"


September 19, 2013: part of the living amend: "the grass is always greener on the other side…" Is the grass always greener on the other side? No matter where we go, we will still be there. Sometimes we do need to make moves, as long as we understand why from an emotional and spiritual point of view, and then think about it. Better people, better places and better things? Am I a more able person, where I am right now and doing the right things?


I have to remind myself about the past, and what happened over the years. Certainly a poor start for many reasons in my childhood and there is no blame attached to anyone or anything in particular until I got to school of course. And for whatever reason I really was unable to understand the rules of the game at school, at work, at college, then back to school, then work, then universities and polytechnics and then business schools. I would cooperate to find out what was going on, but always the heretic in me would operate within the law of the land, but failed to be the square peg in the square hole. Certainly a maverick, and a quick mind led to many adventures which were very successful. And of course my downfall. In the end though, I'm very happy to be me today, still outside the conventional and certainly a heretic. Amend to self, it's okay to be me.


And part of the living amend is being open honest and willing to change. That does not mean I am open and willing to change to suit you. And I certainly hope you are not willing to change to suit anyone, especially me. Be yourself? If you are anything like me, trying to identify who you are and me trying to identify who I am is something I can do in hindsight. So I am happy to recognise that I will know more about myself by the end of today.


Yesterday I wrote a report for the attention of the principal Doctor at my medical practice to review events over recent times and the failure of the practice to provide anything near an adequate service to me. This is an amend to myself, voicing my opinions and beliefs about the deficit in the medical practice services, the personnel, their Administration and IT function, I could go on, it would take 2000 words! I was on time: I waited but no sign of a doctor, consequently I left when the specified time ended. And I left my report with the practice, which I've also copied to the overseeing body of the medical practice. And I will be back seeing them on Monday. I wrote the report as factually as possible and expressed how let down I felt. I practiced the art of step ten, desist from pen and tongue for too long. When people have had reasonable and adequate time: to reflect, to feedback, to find agreement, to take action, well, time up.


I feel better, in the process of writing the report, it occurred to me I ought to get some more information to ensure that I was indeed right in my personal findings about my medical practice and its failures. I have been to various dispensing chemists to ask them if they would be happy to be my provider. All of them said yes until they asked me which medical practice I belong to currently. When I shared which medical practice would be writing prescriptions, all but one said they would rather not be involved, which is a polite way of saying, "not fucking likely!"


And so today how am I feeling? HALT: I am not hungry, angry, lonely or tired. I do have my usual complications going on, the good news is they are the usual complications over which I am powerless. And although I started writing with the comment or saying that the grass is always greener on the other side, I am not particularly confident and I don't have any expectations other than the people on the other side could be competent and efficient. My emotional and spiritual response to the current day and my personal situation is reasonably good. I could make matters worse by suggesting the Minister for health leaves a lot to be desired, writing a detailed analysis of the political system in the UK could cause a reactive depression, writing graffiti on the walls of the medical practice would make me a criminal even though it might be quite satisfying. So there are many things I prefer not to do today. Being a heretic and a maverick, I find this to be completely acceptable, and I can find ways to share my point of view without resorting to anything underhand or unhelpful to the general populace. In other words as always, the law of the land provides ample means and opportunity to share my views and opinions in a constructive way.


The very last thing I ever wanted to be in recovery was conformist. And thankfully the principles of the program have worked greatly in my favour and in favour of everyone I know. Everyone I know is finding out who they are one day at a time. Everyone I know is finding out what it is to be open honest and willing to change. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. And many times we all make mistakes, learn, make amends and change. That is my experience strength and hope, and sometimes some people take years and years to experience the freedom of choice recovery offers on a daily basis. I hope it's good to be you, and thankfully it's good to be me, just for today.



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Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Alcoholics Anonymous Sept 17 DonInLondon Step 9 " Amends Into Action"

Alcoholics Anonymous Blog/Video Sept 17 DonInLondon Step 9 " Amends Into Action"

Step 9 " Amends Into Action"


September 17, 2013: "oh dear what calamity, just for today I might be restored to sanity!" And what about the rest of the world? The world seems to be suffering great anxieties, great anxieties make me feel anxious too. I do know however, some things I am powerless over and each day the serenity prayer helps me understand what I can do, what I cannot do and the wisdom to know the difference. There are many things I do not know, and the amend to myself is finding out, keeping a level head and not getting frightened by how things used to be in the past, just be calm with the way it is today.


Over the last few weeks, due to a change medication, I have experienced low blood pressure and dizzy spells. And this change in medication is really a change in supplier and no other elements of my life or medical care has changed. So one would suppose that the change from one supplier to another is the cause? Trying to get information out of my medical practice, the chemists/drugstores about what is going on is proving to be an education in itself. No one seems to know quite what is going on at the sharp edge except me, because I am at the sharp end of other people's actions and rules. When did I stop being the client?


Taking responsibility for myself and my actions is part of my living amend. Some of the practices and actions of others has deeply upset me and my outlook. One of the medications I take is for clinical depression, and when this medication is interfered with, the impact is significant. I'm going to find out the can-do cannot do and learn the wisdom to know the difference. A non-reactive depression is the worst of situations because being non-reactive, the cause is difficult to identify. Other than a change in manufacturer of the medication I take. Why do people change medications without telling the patient who is at the sharp end of such changes? I need the wisdom sooner rather than later.


I've been wondering what's going on all month, and although I'm not the best at dealing with all the various things which I have to contend with, changes and mistakes in prescriptions leaves me feeling very let down. Just because somebody else thinks it's okay to change my medical regime, well my amend is to check out the reasons for doing so, and hope there are answers which can rectify a situation which leads to darkness in my life.


There is a general malaise within this country, people have got their business hats on, cost-cutting hats on, and believe they are not accountable or responsible for what they do to other people. When medical people, and their IT departments and their Administration managers make changes to prescriptions, without telling the patient, I am at a loss, and I have been harmed as a result. But I don't know this until there have been further tests, and the problem is when people are defensive about their actions, they hide behind other actions which are beyond their control. This is wholly irresponsible in my opinion, as a casualty of their incompetence.


Now I have had my say, I need to work out what I can and cannot do and listen carefully to the replies I get to the questions I ask. When a person is suffering from depression, their outlook is somewhat distorted and not aligned with reality. And as I have this particular issue of depression which is non-reactive, I have to be doubly careful, getting to and from, overcoming an overwhelming desire to stay in and hide away from reality which is painful right now. And in expressing my feelings and thoughts here, I am starting to feel a whole lot better, even if it is just in the moment of now. Progress not perfect.



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Friday, 13 September 2013

Alcoholics Anonymous Sept 13 DonInLondon Step 9 " Amends Into Action"

Alcoholics Anonymous Blog/Video Sept 13 DonInLondon Step 9 " Amends Into Action"

Step 9 " Amends Into Action"


September 13, 2013: "the living amend: restored to sanity one day at a time even when life is good bad or ugly." I can remember a long time ago now, the friend who was a psychiatrist, and an ad hoc employer who gave me clients who could not be medicated said to me, "how do you deal with your rage?" I did not know, I didn't even know how to be angry, I was still living in the thinking world and trying to work out logically what my emotions were. A man without a clue about his feelings. And broken.


It never occurred to me that I was relying entirely on logic and thinking about a situation which required an emotional understanding of where I had got to with life and a nervous breakdown, and I was still on my way to rock bottom. What on earth were feelings? The only feeling in the blackness, was fear and a strong desire never to wake up. And yet, logic and thinking kept me alive as I took every medication offered and no alcohol as before for over a year. Exhausted, set up, bullied and broken, the one thing my friend and ad hoc employer said which was true, "you will never work there again, and it is unlikely that you will recover and be the same as you were before." Of course, stubbornness and denial persisted for a few years.


Letting go the old lucrative life, the one where I was very successful in many respects, pride and ego and fear kept me boiling along and pretending to be okay. And even though I could do some of the work logically and with my brain, I absolutely lost any desire, any resilience and any belief in my old lucrative life. And with a sudden loss of a big contract, I was truly in the mire. If I had some emotions, I would have hoped for self-pity and ego to hold me together, I didn't even have that. The amend to myself was letting go a life which was killing me and I didn't even know.


When I write about some of the past, I suddenly realise that there are amends which have not been done. And it may take quite a long while to make those amends. And the same time there is a balance which can only be seen with hindsight and makes those amends quite impractical and probably very unwelcome because I see them the self-serving rather than being of service to others who are quite well and happy where they are. We do get quite difficult memories with guilt and shame which make it all our fault. At the same time, we are simply human and sometimes very damaged. And reflecting now, I know my part in matters, what needs to be done, by who and where and when. Everything comes back into balance with an overview and not just my view today.


Do I miss the work I used to do, the old lucrative work? Actually, much of what I did in the past has applications in my present life and living. At the same time, being an open honest and willing person, and able to see the difference between how I used to be, and how I am today, I am actually unemployable as life used to be. And with a slight humorous feeling, nobody could afford to be paid the amounts charged for my services in the past, even in financial services where the gravy train still rolls along nicely. And thankfully without me. The living amend to self, my needs are met and most often these days, wants are forgotten to be replaced by other wants which I do not satisfy and so with needs met, wants become forgetful and unnecessary today.


If I had been an arrogant, egotistical nitwit, completely self-absorbed, I would never have broken into as many pieces emotionally as I did. At the same time, if I had been an arrogant egotistical nitwit, I would have continued into becoming something quite alien to me, an individual bereft of feelings, and a robot and witless instrument of power. Thankfully and for whatever reason even though I have done things which give me nightmares sometimes, I have a conscience and life can be good, bad or ugly, and conscience keeps me on a sober and emotionally balanced path today. And the power greater than me: the collective wisdom growing around me one day at a time.



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Thursday, 12 September 2013

Alcoholics Anonymous Sept 12 DonInLondon Step 9 " Amends Into Action"

Alcoholics Anonymous Blog/Video Sept 12 DonInLondon Step 9 " Amends Into Action"

Step 9 " Amends Into Action"


September 12, 2013: "amend to self, recovery makes me human, not superhuman." Recovery offers the opportunity to become the human being we might never imagined possible as rock bottom gripped and distorted reality. Within the fellowship the understanding of many people, when asked to do something in recovery we ought to say yes. The serenity prayer is often helpful when I'm asked to do something and I am not able to say yes.


Some of the things which we learn through time, is what we have in terms of capacity to do something, stretch beyond what we have done before and still have the ability to stop ourselves from treading into dangerous territory. Just because we are asked to do something, we have to come to an understanding of the possible, what is good for us as an individual and what may be inappropriate today or another day. It can be frustrating if we are in a service position within a group and find individuals less compliant to our requests and expectations. If I'm asked to share at a meeting at the beginning and I am there, my response is usually and happily a yes. If I am asked in advance, to avoid disappointment it is better for me to say no.


Understanding what I can do and cannot do on any given day is subject to quite a few medical considerations which are not known to those who may ask me to do service, and this can be very frustrating for me because I like to share and participate. My medical issues do not allow me to know how I will be on any given day. So I try to share, that if I am there on the day, please ask me. If I'm not there on the day no harm done. Not always what I want to say and what you might want to hear. At the same time, better to share the understanding as far as another person can understand, and hopefully keep expectations real, and avoid resentments under construction.


We had an advert in the UK about a particular bank. It went along the lines of, "we are the bank that wants to say yes." And in recovery, most people who can say yes will, most people want to be included and demonstrate sobriety by inclusion. This is not true for everyone and sometimes inadvertently enthusiastic individuals can be very undermining when people say no to them. And it is also undermining to personal recovery when asking others for support and getting a flat no as a response. We all have to say no at some stage or we stretch too far, become overwhelmed and sobriety is threatened at the fundamental level.


Learning to say yes to the right things, learning say no to the wrong things is a daily way of life. If you need someone to do something for you, even though you might hear that people ought to say yes, take it is a privilege and a truthful statement when they say no. There are no rules, laws or regulations in recovery. If a person says no for whatever reason to service, just because they think it's a good idea, be respectful when people say no or all you do is feel resentment and anger ultimately. Humility to truthfully say no becomes a practice which is very worthwhile. When you have learned to say no, you can be more confident about saying yes when you are confident, more open and able with the right encouragement and the help of powers greater than you.


The weather outside is frightful! I was able to get out yesterday and do a few errands. Being out and about, the beauty of the world is striking. With the change in the seasons, people wrapping up against the cold, umbrellas at the ready, I do like autumn. Not so keen on the shorter days of lightness. Years of living in the dark, this time of year can send a chill through my bones for quite a lot of reasons. I relish the light of the day even more in recovery. Yesterday's programs about 9/11 were very moving and I hope one day to pay my respects to the innocent at ground zero.


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Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Alcoholics Anonymous Sept 11 DonInLondon Step 9 " Amends Into Action"

Alcoholics Anonymous Blog/Video Sept 11 DonInLondon Step 9 " Amends Into Action"

Step 9 " Amends Into Action"


September 11, 2013: "pundits, professionals, stakeholders, media reporters, reports from the masses and of course globally the politicians." The flow of information, finding out what the truth may be is difficult in this transition towards transparency and truth. And of course when it comes to big events in the world, beware the purveyors of the selective truth, those who do it intentionally, "tell lies." And the purveyors of the selective ideology, "tell lies." And the pundits, who may be highly qualified, are still lagging behind the big picture and locked in their own outlook, "misguided purveyors of refined selective truths, "unintentional lies." If somebody has a drum to bang, you can't help hearing the banging.


An amend to the American people, "listening to the will of the people." Amongst all the noise and speculation, a sensible person listens to their constituency. A sensible person consults and finds out where support and truth can be found. And even when the truth is found, it may be contrary and frustrating to adjust intentions and change actions. When a president or leader consults and listens, continues to share truthful information, takes a pause and opens the door to diplomacy, it is not for the media all the pundits or ideologues to undermine a sensible move forward. At the same time, all efforts in other directions to stop crimes against humanity is happening.


This morning I feel relieved to listen to the commander-in-chief of another country share the truth as he sees it. And nothing is lost at this stage on the particular issue raised and shared eloquently. It does not change the horror of what is going on, and it does not undermine what other nations are trying to do to help those who are suffering as a consequence of civil war in Syria. At the same time, listening to the reporting and old thinking of media hacks is very troubling. An American president with common sense and gumption, talking to and sharing with Americans and the international community who also have common sense and gumption is a most welcome moment. And utilising the efforts and intentions of other powerful nation's to help resolve what happens next and the actions to follow is as good as it gets in this moment of now. Truth, finding the truth is a continuous process opening the door to everyone and not slamming it shut when the world is participating and trying to do its best in the worst of circumstances.


In recovery from one affliction, every day I have gratitude and seek to make the best use of my time and be happy in my own life. The one amend which counts more than anything is the ability to keep a level head when everyone around may be finding extreme positions suggesting extreme actions need follow immediately. Sometimes a race to action is certainly the right way forward. A race to action on one's own when it affects great numbers of people is not necessarily a good idea if those involved are not included in the decision-making process. A child, a young person, a maturing person and a mature adult still needs inclusion in a decision-making process when the outcome is going to affect more people. A young society, a maturing society and mature societies still need to include dialogue and discussion to get to an agreement. How else do we ever get to the truth? Second-guessing the truth seems to be a bit of a sport these days rather than actually reporting the truth today.


To thine own self be true, now that is hard enough for any single human being. And yet we all value truth as a virtue in ourselves, something we aspire to, something we've made progress towards and continue to do so on a daily basis. Of course the truth is developing with every moment that passes. The old model of Communism versus Capitalism, the old model politics, the new politics and the new economics are not well understood by the more mature, the less mature and the young. Every day is a new world and the truth keeps changing. United efforts, agreements and treaties can become more meaningful in a transparent world, with transparent living and more transparent understanding of what can be done and what cannot be done. The world can learn wisdom just as I can one day at a time. We do not imbue superhuman qualities to our leadership any more, they may lead if we are willing to follow. There is no room for arrogance and ego in politics, politicians do not know better than us, they represent us and not an ideology if they are sensible and not stupid.


Thank God for recovery one day at a time, learning to live in an open, honest and willing way. To thine own self be true, and fear not? Every day there will be a little bit of fear, because we can be assured there is a madman out there somewhere with a gun. And that remains true as individuals, families, communities, societies and international situations as they are today. We need to be sensible, careful and understanding of the current conditions today, what is safe and what is dangerous. Nature provides enough danger, and sometimes humans make it impossible to live in peace. As the world becomes more transparent, peace and conflict become more obvious and the truth prevails eventually. And we cannot make people grow up and be like us. As individuals we learn each day and so do nations.


The more we share, the more accountability and responsibility is shouldered by inclusion, the risk of exclusion and conflict is reduced. That is of course if we were dealing with rational and sane people. And as we know sanity and being restored to sanity is a daily occurrence at the individual level let alone at the National and international level. So I guess, as individuals, to thine own self be true is the best course of action and keep on sharing the truth as we see it, and if we are incorrect and need modify our outlook to the truth rather than a belief or opinion it too can be done, one day at a time. By anyone, anywhere open, honest and willing to change.


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