Alcoholics Anonymous Blog & Video | Jan 14 2004 - 2014 | DonInLondon | Step 1 "Powerless" |
January 14 Video
January Step One Month: "We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable." Our very first problem is to accept our present circumstances as they are, ourselves as we are, and the people about us as they are. This is to adopt a realistic humility without which no genuine advance can even begin. Again and again, we shall need to return to that unflattering point of departure. This is an exercise in acceptance that we can profitably practice every day of our lives. Provided we strenuously avoid turning these realistic surveys of the facts of life into unrealistic alibis for apathy or defeatism, they can be the sure foundation upon which increased emotional health and therefore spiritual progress can be built. AS BILL SEES IT, p. 44
DonInLondon January 14, 2014: Evolution is inevitable! And sometimes there needs to be a revolution in our own personal lives, or a complete break from old ways which are not only redundant, they were killing us. Alcoholism is something unavoidable? I have long ago stopped debating what caused me to be an alcoholic, genetics, nature or nurture, the fact is I am an alcoholic and the difference one day at a time is not drinking. So far so good today, I am sober. And I feel distracted at the moment by a few things which are happening to me personally. I need to be truthful, to share the truth as I see it because sharing my truth is limited by what I have learned so far. There is a lot more truth out there, indeed in the X files the quote is: "the truth is out there." Yes it is always, the truth is out there and usually what is in me is my limited perception which needs to be informed by listening to and understanding the truth of others in all matters.
In my own small world, I have a number of appointments for specialist medical investigations. I have an MRI scan later; I cannot drink or eat anything for quite a few hours before going for the scan. I have an email to reply to regarding various repairs the landlord needs to do, and my whole apartment needs to be rewired. I have raised concerns to the landlord and the landlord is subordinating their responsibility to contractors who I don't trust. Always, my truth is limited to what I know so far and so I must engage carefully. And more importantly to me, is the challenge of being truthful about who I am, I am an alcoholic in recovery one day at a time.
From time to time, I do upset quite a lot of people because I share experience strength and hope in an open honest and willing way. I have never been given the opportunity to be anonymous in my own community when it comes to people knowing who I am and what has happened to me. Because of my sharing within a recovery centre run by the national health service, I was asked if I could make some daily comments about recovery and the source of my recovery, the reason being, many outpatients would not go to Alcoholics Anonymous because of their own personal prejudices and fears that Alcoholics Anonymous was some form of cult, imposing religious doctrines rather than the truth of AA. AA is all about liberation from active addiction into making better choices about how to live one day at a time.
I never question the sanctity of anonymity to find a path in recovery. I do believe anonymity affords the opportunity to find out how to live sober. I do believe every single person has the right to decide their status in this world, and share their status with the world as they choose. I am not better or worse than any other person in recovery. At the same time from people who have had a long time in recovery, based on particular values and beliefs they have, my openness about what has made it possible to be sober so many years does not serve other people in the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. And when I am challenged about my openness, I have to pause and reflect because I do not want to alienate anyone in recovery, and I really don't want to alienate myself from Fellowship either.
Always, it is personal choice and that freedom of expression which enriches every single person to the truth as others believe, and it doesn't necessarily mean that I can take on the opinions and beliefs of other people. At the same time I do listen, I do read intently when someone is upset with what I do. Newcomers to the Fellowship of AA, they really are not engaged enough to understand the philosophy of Fellowship, I am hoping they are just grateful to find out that there is such a Fellowship, and that it is open to everyone with a desire to stop drinking.
Personal conduct within the Fellowship of AA, remains a personal responsibility based on personal beliefs and opinions, and the truth of their own situation. The Fellowship of AA is all about change, changing from active addiction to being in recovery and being sober one day at a time. Belief and opinion is a personal set of standards which each individual comes to believe for themselves. In all matters outside Fellowship, the Fellowship of AA has no interest. The Fellowship itself has no rules, no laws or regulations, people need to grow in recovery and find a path which offers best opportunity and best freedoms and best choices. The Fellowship of AA is all about helping each other to find their own way forward: a way forward in society which can be maintained and fruitful on a daily basis.
The Fellowship of AA is about understanding the emotional and spiritual journey of life. It does not ever offer one outlook, every single outlook of each individual in Fellowship is determined by the individual themselves. Some people have their own religious beliefs, some people have no religious beliefs. Some people have very strong personal political beliefs, some people have no political beliefs and have no interest in them. Some people are rich materially because that is what they have made of their lives, some people are poor and that is because situations and circumstances have not afforded them the luxury of material wealth. Of course all these beliefs, material things, whether a person is rich or poor materially has absolutely nothing to do with emotional and spiritual? Well it probably does, in some ways if we misunderstand the purpose of life itself. A functioning human who understands their mood, "emotions or feelings," how these feelings and emotions impact on their thinking, and how thinking then drives actions is the key to living in the moment of now.
My personal conundrum about anonymity being the spiritual foundation within the Fellowship of AA, I do not question it at all. Within groups and within Fellowship, anonymity of the individual is sacrosanct in those meetings and outside those meetings as people choose for themselves. Anonymity in the moment of now in Fellowship preserves and keeps individuals safe from harmful prejudice which may exist in the world in general. Harmful prejudice, if anonymity is broken can have drastic and tragic consequences if an individual suffers as a consequence and is exposed. In my own situation, the problem of exposure and people knowing my situation was never a problem for me. On a personal level my choice is truth and openness on a daily basis. And if I am challenged on my sobriety, I can only share the truth or I undermine my own personal beliefs about how to live life.
On occasion suggestions come my way that I ought not to share about Alcoholics Anonymous and how the Fellowship of AA keeps me sober and reasonably able to cope with life. If I were to change the truth of how my life unfolds and why it is working and why I am coping, I feel like I am being asked to lie. Using diaries and multimedia to share my story was a request made of me. I must admit at the beginning I felt privileged [and of course I questioned over and over if this was pride ego and fear at work] and also conflicted about sharing the truth of who I am. And where the source of my inspiration, the source of knowledge about recovery ought to be covered up. And more importantly some people in the Fellowship, suggested never to show my face because that just wasn't done.
Anonymity is sacrosanct to protect the person who is trying to turn their lives around. At the same time, by hiding my identity, this would undermine my principles of being open, honest and willing to change. When all is said and done, diaries, video diaries, are a form of one-to-one sharing if that is the intention. There is no personal gain in my philosophy of sharing. I am just an ordinary person, same as anyone else in Fellowship. I never know any better than anybody else on any given day, the best way to help the newcomer is always by sharing the truth of now. And on reflection, looking out there in the multimedia and social media, some people maintain their personal identity and share long and hard and it works for some individuals. There are tens of thousands sharing experience strength and hope on a daily basis, to varying degrees of success. Nobody knows who will strike the right chord with a newcomer. And the more all share in whatever arena, simply share the truth, the more likely a connection might be made and the newcomer’s journey starts.
Truth, love and the wisdom learned on a daily basis is my own personal spiritual foundation for life. And I only get to the truth, love and wisdom of now by sharing in an open, honest and willing way. The first step in the twelve step principles is about a clear admission and acceptance of the truth about who I am as an individual. And this first step into the truth of life in recovery sets a standard for me as an individual. I simply accept the truth of who I am, and that my outlook is not for everyone. Indeed we all need as many outlooks and as much sharing about the truth as people see it on a daily basis or we get stuck in the damage of the past and don't make much progress at all on a daily basis. I simply share as anyone else does in Fellowship when I am in meetings, and I need the truth of other people to guide me. At the same time please respect my personal choice to be free from personal self-prejudice, the prejudice of others is none of my business, because I need engage with those who can help me and support me and I can do the same for them in are truthful way. And if people are prejudiced against me, they will not help me and I respect their choice.
And I emphasise again, "the truth is out there, the truth and common ground where feelings fit in the moment of now is where it works best: real life." And what works worst, is conflict and denial, prejudice, imposing control and manipulating the truth to suit doctrine which does not exist. Except of course the doctrine is there if you choose it and then it is your reality.
DonInLondon 2013 - 2005
January 14 2013 | AA 12 Steps In Action | Step 1 "Powerless" | Alcoholics Anonymous "Last Chance Saloon..." It seemed to me that Alcoholics Anonymous was the last chance saloon. And I heard it said more than once in my first few days in the fellowship. A saloon, which only served tea and coffee, water. And with luck, a few biscuits to eat for those of us without the means to buy anything, let alone an alcoholic drink. Was this rock bottom? That life could get no worse? And was there a hope in hell? Most emphatically, yes…
In one of the AA literature books, the writing describes many who come to AA as in a revolt against life in general. And indeed as an alcoholic, I felt revolting as well as revolted by everything and anything. My head was sore, my senses painful and scratchy all the time. And when I had said to myself, "it can't get any worse, I cannot do this on my own, and I need help." That first admission of hopelessness and not being able to cope on my own, not being able to stand on my own two feet, I made a call to my psychiatrist, saying that I could not cope anymore and that I realised I really needed help. Sometimes described as the jumping off point? Keep on drinking and I will die, or simply admit and accept that help was needed by me as soon as possible...
I managed to get to the psychiatrist on a bitter January day, it was a Friday, and I was really suffering badly. Fortunately, the psychiatrist told me not to stop drinking completely, to avoid an alcoholic seizure, just to taper it down a bit, so I could actually get to their office. As I explained to the psychiatrist, nothing, absolutely nothing was working any more, and drinking to oblivion every few hours seemed like I was at the end of the road. A physical wreck, some of the time feeling nothing, some of the time in a half conscious nightmare. The offer came, a place in a safe house run by a charity for three weeks to get dried out. And then? I was told not to think too far ahead, just to be able to get there on the Monday morning, drunk or sober, no matter what I might be thinking. As soon as I had said yes to the safe house, walking out of the office, my head was already saying no, no way am I going there. I did go there, they dried me out, and it was the longest I had been sober in a very long time…
The emotional torture, based on what life is all about in the world in which I lived, standing on my own two feet, working hard, playing hard and be able to do whatever I wanted, that illusion still held me in its sway. The reality, broken. Emotionally, physically and spiritually bankrupt, not coping with anything and alcohol taking away everything except one thing, excruciating and excoriating pain inside and out. How can it be that a human being cannot stop hurting themselves even when it's obvious? It was about letting go an old life which was killing me, and starting a new life in recovery. Ingrained in the old life, the struggle into recovery felt impossible until I really understood. I could not get sober and keep sober on my own on a daily basis…
The reason for writing these words is to remind myself, all about step one, powerless over alcohol and if I drink life will become unmanageable. It is taken some time to understand that when we get sober, we are still vulnerable to all the attractions of the old life, where alcohol made us feel right with ourselves and right with the world. The attraction of the old life is always powerful. Until we get to a place where the new life becomes more peaceful and serene, more exciting and rewarding where our feelings fit with what is going on and we are able to make choices, and if we are uncertain we can always ask for help from anyone, anywhere at any time…
I was watching a TV this morning, and they presented a piece on self-help books. Many years ago, helping people achieve through counselling, training and on job work development was the very essence of what I did and I was very good at it. I could help other people, and at the same time, was unable to help myself with my biggest problem, a loss of purpose in my own life, unable to love myself unconditionally, unable to love anyone unconditionally and without a reason to be useful in any capacity. I did not realise I was suffering from clinical depression, and using alcohol to self-medicate the desolation I felt inside. It was the ugliest of times, pretending to be okay, and living in a bleak emotional state, I could not control it, master it, as Churchill described it, "black dog." The only way I found respite was in asking for help, professionally to start with and then in fellowship one day at a time…
Over the years, with many experiments conducted by professionals, to help me find balance in my physical chemistry, to enable the production of the right chemicals, to give me a chemical balance in my endocrine and hormone system, chronic depression is alleviated. There is no such thing as a happy pill, there is medication to improve the chemical imbalances that many people suffer from. And without the talking therapy, which is very sparse, people drift back to depression if they rely solely on their self-will and self-determination. I needed a fellowship. Once the chemistry set inside me was working adequately. I could start to feel life and experience life as it is today, feelings fitting with reality in the moment. Emphatically the most profound change in me in all my life, to find balance in living one day at a time. Life can be, and still is good, bad and ugly. I cannot change the world, and if I cannot change the world, I need to understand how I may fit in the world and make the best of what is, and not some fantasy I might expect beyond the realms of reality...
Yes, we need to help ourselves, and the best way to help ourselves often is to be in the company of people who have wisdom of life in all respects. Wisdom of being themselves, and knowing who they are today. How on Earth could I have missed the point for so long? It is very simple, in my old world, emotional and spiritual life was completely misunderstood and never really discussed in any shape or form. Life was about people places and things, being the best and trying to be perfect. That impossible expectation of life, and myself, kept me separate and kept my feelings pushed down inside for over forty years. Dismantling the old life, the emptiness and the gap inside was immense, and I needed to make sure this emptiness was not filled for the sake of it. I needed to learn everything from scratch, from a place of not knowing and accepting that no knowledge and no understanding was the right starting place and still can be on any given day in recovery…
In listening to the person describing how to help yourself, I really enjoyed the discussion because the person who has written this "self-help" book has broken the notion of powerful mastery over something which can take a lifetime, simply how to be useful and attracted to the usefulness and endeavour we may undertake at any time. I am not really a fan of self-help books which may be purchased. I am a big fan and advocate of you writing your own book of usefulness and purpose. As Max Ehrmann suggested in his poem, desiderata, we all have purpose and something useful to do. And we should cherish learning what it is. My purpose changes, my outlook changes, what I know changes, my emotions change, and my outlook changes. With an open mind, I can find purpose, usefulness and endeavour on any given day. I don't know what my usefulness and purpose may be until I arrive in the moment of now…
Write your own self-help book is my suggestion, write it one day at a time, some of the pages, and some of the writing may be a bit short on some days, and on other days it feels like we learned so much, how on earth are we ever going to write it all down? My suggestion is as I have heard from the wisdom of others, "keep it simple," and, in manageable chunks, so that when you look back at your own writing and your own self-help book, you will make sense of the wisdom learned and the journey we take one day at a time…
January 14 | Daily Reflection | 2012 | AA daily reflections "no regrets, we will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it" fits very well with my day to day experience. Just today meeting yesterday, full of hope, sorrow and joy all mixed together as we shared experience strength and hope.
And today, nothing is wasted seemed to be part of our theme in the spiritual experience meeting. To thine own self be true, let go of the past and by accepting what has happened, it must be about today. Many recollections of beginning and being a newcomer, living in the moment and neither dwelling on past, or wishing for the future. All about now and what we can and cannot do.
"We will be rocketed into the fourth dimension" seemed often to be about tomorrow or some future time. What it means for me, rocketed into the fourth dimension is simply living in the moment and being aware of how I feel, why and what can I do for life to be okay even when terrible events happen.
Sober life is all about now. Anger and resentment is always now if we feel it now. When I came to AA, I had a mountain of anger and resentment, and with the help of the steps and fellows in fellowship I was able to deal with the past. No regrets and all experiences necessary for me to be who I am today.
I can look back, and need not stare balefully at the past. I can recollect wonderful love, to be able to love and be loved back. Cherish always and when we find it difficult, reminding myself I can love people and not always find their behaviour helpful. Love people, understand why they may behave the way they do…
Tonight over a hundred alcoholics in recovery jam packed into a small meeting room learning how to love, be loved and useful again, just for a day. To forgive, stop self-hate and hating the answer which is... fellowship. We can learn to love, change our behaviour from hateful to loving, learn who we are just for a day without a drink inside us. Enough love to stop the old ways and start again today, open honest and willing to change. Secrets keep us stuck....
Step One "We admitted we were powerless over alcohol-that our lives had become unmanageable"
"God [it is what we understand to be God or a "Higher Power"] grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot, Courage to Change the things I can and the Wisdom to Know the Difference" God is Truth Love and Wisdom in the moment of now...
Step One "We admitted we were powerless over alcohol-that our lives had become unmanageable"
Step One Video 12 & 12
AA Big Book Video | Chapter 1 | Bill's Story |
AA Big Book Video | Chapter 2 | There Is A Solution |
AA Big Book Video | Chapter 3 | More About Alcoholism |
AA Big Book Video | Chapter 4 | We Agnostics |
AA Big Book Video | Chapter 5 | How It Works |
Alcoholics Anonymous Videos, AA is for Alcoholics, AA 12 Steps, Addiction And Recovery, DonInLondon, Don Oddy,