Alcoholics Anonymous Blog/Video Oct 6 DonInLondon Step 10 "Reality Check"
October 6, 2013 Step Ten Month: "continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it." There is no party line in the Fellowship of AA. Of course there is! No there isn't, always the group conscience at the level of the group decides upon what is right, and that it can be wrong another day. We are not bound by rules, laws or regulations within. It is all part of a learning process for each individual. We are being restored to sanity on a daily basis and that is not an easy journey for anyone. We can be very judgemental people, being judgemental about our own behaviour and equally judgemental about the behaviour of other people we encounter. Thank God step ten.
You never know who is listening these days, you never know who is looking over your shoulder, and sometimes when we say something in confidence, it can be overheard and misinterpreted very easily. I really enjoyed yesterday, an early-morning meeting and for me as an individual it was good. And yet, some can be disgruntled, a big meeting does not always allow everyone who wishes to speak. Over the years I was always encouraged to speak to others before the meeting and after the meeting if I could not speak in the meeting. And in those early days of recovery, now years ago, I was so rattled and shaken I could not speak at all. That was the best advice, speak to people before the meeting, speak to people after the meeting especially if speaking at all in the presence of a large group was feels like an impossibility in that moment when judgement of myself meant I had nothing useful to share.
Whenever people leave a meeting and feel they have not been able to share because they were not picked, the expectation has been met and the resentment has been constructed. And the complaint afterwards to like-minded friends can either help let go the issue of not being popular enough to speak? Actually it simply is not about popularity, it is hard enough for the person who has to select those who volunteer to make a judgement about who speaks or doesn't. And even when it seems like maybe a person is choosing favourites, they don't, a sea of faces with hands up is complicated. They may know people in the room, have affection for them and friendship and fellowship, there is no way to select the right people in the right place at the right time.
Many people share that they have favourite meetings. I feel we have so many meetings where we feel comfortable and there are meetings where we do not feel comfortable. I'm lucky, 700 to choose from. And I could love them all and hate them all on any given day depending on what happens. I have favourite people, because I know them better in some instances, I don't have favourite meetings particularly, but I do frequent some in particular. Entry to anyone is their desire to stop drinking. After that it is about learning to be sober and then finding a path which suits you, and it will not suit everyone in recovery. Fiercely independent people; working together in unity service and recovery. We will bicker, we will agree, we will dissent, we will find acceptance on any given day depending on the current conditions which may be good, bad or ugly.
The just for today card; full of useful advice if you are in the right frame of mind. But as with any advice, if you are having a particularly bad or ugly day, the just for today card can feel like a taunt and that we are not matching up to some form of settlement on life which we should be able to achieve. I find the just for today card very useful especially when life is difficult, it gives me a framework to be argumentative with myself, resentful and angry when my expectations far exceed reality. Just because it is a card with some affirmations which are inspirational to me, sometimes I will take the opposite view in order to deal with my expectations which are unrealistic. And then I laugh at myself and my satirical humour and as one person said to me, "get over yourself!" And I do for a day, or an hour or a minute, it just depends how deep the hurt is in the moment and to the next moment.
I was thinking this morning, how to overcome some issues to do with sharing in meetings which are well established and where people have an expectation of sharing. Maybe we could allocate a particular amount of time where we invite anyone to speak who was never spoken at the meeting, or has not spoken in the meeting in the last month, and open the door to newcomers somewhere in the middle rather than at the end. The problem being, the more we try control the behaviour of anyone in recovery, the more we lose our sense of freedom. So I recommend that if you cannot speak at a meeting for whatever reason, try getting there sooner rather than later and shake hands with the person next to you as we do. And after the meeting, if you have heard something which sparks a reaction in new, try talked to that person before they disappear into the distance.
I meet good people, bad people and downright ugly people in their attitudes and behaviour in my early days. Just like real life, there are good, bad and ugly people around in fellowship. Or simply some people will not be our cup of tea, and we judge them that way. Same goes for meetings, good, bad and ugly ones in early days are very upsetting because there is no consistency. If we look at ourselves, we are inconsistent from one day to the next because we are learning how to be human in our own way without a drink inside us. Step ten is all about forgiving everybody everything, forgiving the fact that we find some aspects of life unacceptable to us, and all we have to accept is that sometimes life is bad and ugly and unacceptable in that particular moment. We learn from those moments as powerfully as we do from the good times in life. We get our range of emotions back, we get our freedom of choice back and what we choose is what we can do and cannot do today. And there is grace in acceptance.
I was able to mention yesterday just how difficult life has been over the last two months and that the only thing left to examine in this present about of testing requires a camera and an invasion of my back passage. Having the benefit of an examination which felt like a large hard bristled brush covered with scouring powder inserted into a private part and then twiddled around, I'm sure the camera will be a more acceptable proposition. Life is funny in recovery. And the good news is all the tests so far are good with regard to health even if they have not determined the reasons for various symptoms. What next? I do not know as yet, I simply find the process to be long-winded, protracted and unnecessarily lengthy in my one day at a time living experience. And there is acceptance in the moment of now. Now how useful is step ten?
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