Alcoholics Anonymous Blog & Video | Jan 20 2014 - 2004 | DonInLondon | Step 1 "Powerless" |
A really good meeting this morning: the second half of step twelve, the serenity prayer, the nature of our personality traits and the richness of learning how to be human all over again one day at a time. Somebody came up to me after the meeting, and I've been racking my brains for the last few weeks trying to remember where I met them. It was four years ago, and I gave them a chip with the serenity prayer on the back of it. Four years later, they are sober and they thanked me for taking the trouble to do something for them. Many other people I don't know then helped get them sober. We never know what might happen, and on this occasion I feel great gratitude for their thank you.
January Step One Month: "We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable." "Ready or not here we come?" I am responsible when anyone anywhere reaches out for help, I want the hand of AA to be there and for that I'm responsible. In my local GP surgery, there is a sign up which I guess was put there by an AA person, its been there for years and years. Who might judge when a person is ready or not to find out how to stop drinking?
DonInLondon January 20, 2014: I was not ready to give up drinking when I first encountered alcoholics anonymous. Indeed I was hung over and pushed through the doors into an AA meeting. I did admit my alcoholism at that first meeting, and then I spent five years denying it. Of course the cry from many would be, "he wasn't ready." And all those who cried out that I wasn't ready were right. I was dismissed as not ready by some of the people in AA. It could have been a death sentence, it nearly was as intensive care hospitalisation did happen more than once. Do I blame those who said I wasn't ready to be sober? Of course not. At the same time I know many people are judged not ready by many other people in Fellowship and this practice continues.
The use of slogans in Fellowship can become meaningless if they are memorised and then people are able to share these slogans and share the AA pledge without even thinking about it once they've remembered it. I remember standing in a car park of a DIY store talking to somebody and I don't know why we got onto the subject of drinking. In the end I gave them a where to find meetings in London pamphlet of the Fellowship. I have no clue what happened next, at the same time I know I sowed seed, and if it germinated into someone having knowledge of a means to get sober, job done. But if I had judged the person as a waste of time and energy, job not done, job not done at all.
Just because we have wisdom of recovery, just because we might realise a person is not ready to stop drinking, it does not mean that they will not develop a desire to stop drinking. If you or I judge a person is not ready to quit drinking or drugging, then that person has been short-changed in knowing something about the possibility of recovery. And even when we hear people in the rooms who have chastised the Fellowship for not fixing them, being a cult, too much talk about God, too much talk about this and that, somehow the message received by the newcomer is incorrect. Something has gone wrong, somebody somewhere has not offered the hand of AA unconditionally. There is good news and bad news in this, we don't tell people what to do, and people have their own ideas about recovery and what has worked for them. Something though might not be working too well. Usually it is the judgement made by people to help or not in their own indomitable way. And yes you could accuse me of this too. But I don't speak for AA, and neither do you as an individual?
Just because we think we know people, and we know who is likely or more likely to benefit from our wisdom, some people suggest it wastes time to spend time with a person who is not a good prospect for recovery. And although we are non-professional in our outlooks, some people feel they have developed the expertise which allows them to write off particular people as a waste of their energy. My first sponsor certainly was very surprised to see me alive some years later when I encountered him. He actually said to me that he was surprised I was alive, and I told him that based on his judgement of me, I too was surprised to be alive.
If we don't take the time to listen carefully to a person trying to understand the fatal malady, however we explain the nature of the fatal malady is lost. If we don't take time to listen to people, the likelihood is they won't be listening to us. And there needs to be a better understanding of how to share the message when we feel personally reluctant to try share some light on a very dark subject. And if the person who is listening does not have the benefit of your own particular belief system, why not suggest to another person in Fellowship who has the same sort of belief system that they might have a go at trying to share some light on this very difficult, deniable subject: alcoholism.
If I don't know the answer for me on my own, how on earth can you know the answer for another person on your own? And the dependence that can be created, dependence on one other person for the answers might make the source of knowledge feel good, and the person still trying to make sense of the situation, out of their depth and not understanding anything. And the counter intuitive part of this is the many voices in Fellowship, sharing their own particular experience, strength and hope from which we start to understand our own story into alcoholism and then a way out. No wonder there are many stories in the big book which are so different and diverse, with this one similarity, a desire to stop drinking.
And just because somebody doesn't believe in God like you do, or will not affiliate to your understanding and religious observance, does this make it okay to condemn them to everlasting ignorance of the rest of Fellowship? I would have not and yet when people don't get their own way, they are very capable of labelling a person an outcast at the extreme, or simply not worth the effort because they don't believe what you believe.
Of course we can suggest that if you don't like it, one can go somewhere else? Of course they do, they go down the pub or bar or die. When somebody says I am responsible, what is the exact nature of the responsibility they are undertaking?
DonInLondon 2005 - 2013
New Video: Step Six And Step Seven "Step one, let go the old life, and all twelve steps for a new life..." The twelve steps of emotional and spiritual well-being, all about letting go what we cannot do any more, and starting to do the things we can, not all at once, because learning life all over again with a new set of principles is going to take time. The gift, we learn what we can do and what is good for us. One day at a time…
It took me a good while to get any sense of well-being when I got to recovery, I was still very fearful about stepping back into this fatal malady of addiction. And I had paranoia, a fantasy that people were watching me and expecting me to fail. My expectation. When I finally got to a point where the pain of recovery was worth attempting, there had been many false starts, and many false hopes, because the human being inside me, seemed to be standing on a precipice where one step one misstep would set me back all over again. The choice was so simple and yet on the emotional and spiritual level, it felt so complicated and impossible, I had no clue that fellowship and support would be the key to my recovery one day at a time. Letting go an old life and starting a new life, with twelve steps, or rather, twelve principles of living which would help me every day from then to now, and when I put these principles into my living experience, life works as well as it may be and as life is today. Life on life's terms, living reality and learning to cope. And when I cannot cope, I can ask for help…
About step six and seven, step six is about the old life which was full of excess and extremes of behaviour. Step six, defined as defects of character, or rather, personality traits which have been so ingrained, likened to the seven deadly sins. These defects, described as sinful would be: pride, envy, gluttony, lust, wrath, greed and sloth. And in step seven, shortcomings, and shortcomings can be personality traits. I need to develop on a daily basis makes the shift from old to new behaviour and attitudes. So the opposite of the seven deadly sins, is quite simple, developing the seven virtues: humility, kindness, abstinence, chastity, patience, liberality and diligence. Defects and the old life, to varying degrees in step six and then in recovery, developing and working on my shortcomings in step seven. I'm not a religious person, or affiliated to any particular viewpoint on the seven deadly sins or the seven virtues, and did not know to what extent I was impacted by any of the defects of character, and the defects are when life is negatively impacted, not just my life, and the lives of people around me who were affected too. And then as part of the twelve steps, step four helps me take inventory of the defects, and step four helps me look at the virtues. So, the step four inventory, helps me understand how life was made negative by defects and positive by the virtues. And in all of this is balance, a person isn't completely defective or virtuous, there is some good in the worst of us, and some bad in the best of us. And the good and bad news is, on any given day, we can find ourselves in situations which have a negative impact, or a positive impact. Clearly, if we know our mood, how we are emotionally dealing with life in the moment, we start to understand where we as a person or a human being are coming from in any given moment. It only takes the blink of an eye to be into a different mood as life hits us full on. Our mood can go from negative to positive in a split second, and similarly, our mood can go from positive to negative in another split second. Now how efficient is that? Able to respond in the moment of now!
We human beings are built through nature, nurture and providence to be able to respond to our environment in the moment of now. And our mood, how we feel about things changes in the moment of now. Which is why we can all be in turmoil and confused when we are hit with new experiences. And when we are in recovery from addiction, we will have developed very extreme and negative attitudes and behaviour to sustain our old life, the life blighted by addiction. The new experience of recovery, where we are constantly trying to move forward, into a new positive way of living feels and is a dramatic change we ask of ourselves and one that is difficult to sustain, without support and a new attitude of being open, honest, and willing to feel wrong footed for as long as it takes for the new life to be a possibility. And I know, the pull back to addictive behaviour and extremes in the old life were extremely difficult to let go, so that I could start this new life, where I would be free again. Letting go old ways and starting a new life, and then getting stuck in the middle of it, where I couldn't work out what to do, one split second, the old life seems right, the next split second, the new life must be better, but how to get there? Constantly to and fro in my head, the old way, battling with the new way caused me psychotic episodes and without help I would definitely have found myself back in the fatal malady.
Step six, which is the old life, always attractive? Not so much these days because the new life, step seven, where I have my choices back, and freedom to be me. In early days, I really did not understand who I was and that it was okay to have a complete fear of having no identity at all. And no way to relate to the world like I used to. What kept me looking backwards into the old life, the desire to be the man I used to be, the man who could do anything when asked, and the man who could make lots of money, the man who was drinking himself to death because he had lost the plot and really did not want to be here anymore. The old life, when I took inventory, was a man pretending to be something and having no clue who I was, except a desire to get to be the man I thought you wanted me to be. And then step seven, all about having humility to learn, which apparently can cure pride and rest assured it does. Humility to keep learning life and asking for help. And with fellowship I found kindness, which seemed to help me with envy. Kindness of other people, and offering support. If I asked for it! I needed humility to ask.
When it came to alcohol, that was the top addiction which anyone could see as the problem. And the virtue of abstinence, and total abstinence in this case was the cure for gluttony. Gluttony! In my emotional and spiritual hell. Back in the old days, and this is my belief, the spiritual experience is good, bad and ugly, and when we are in addiction we are in hell because there is no way out on our own. Addicted to a substance, alcohol, and also addicted to trying to be perfect with the right people, in the right place, with the right things. Gluttony is an ugly word and is also a spiritual experience, and abstinence offers a way back to sanity and forming new relationships with everything, substances, people, places and things today.
Lust! In the vernacular of the seven deadly sins, again, all about wanting, craving, desiring to excess. Just like alcohol, we don't know the problem until we are in it. Lust is not love. Lack of love can drive anyone into extreme feelings of loneliness and a desire to fill ourselves with activities which may lead to some sort of serenity. Part of step four and looking at our negative attitudes and behaviour, as we feel lost and lonely, we will crave love and try find it wherever we can. As the great loves in my life needed to get away from the old me, the man who did not know himself, and the man who tried to be perfect and was never so, the more we try find love in many ways… And with many women in my case… In the end, I found women who were just like me, lost and lonely in many respects, but fortunately for them, they were not alcoholics or addicts? I would say 99% weren't, and that is why they are probably very happy somewhere else! And those who loved me enough to stay around for a while, I feel they saw my madness and had to leave anyway, no matter how they may have felt about me, at the time, if I did not know myself, how on earth could they know me?
As I write this, I need to realise there is no blame attached when it comes to the behaviour of people in the moment of now. Most people are reacting, and responded as they can give their life experience. When I look back at my life experience, there were many dramatic and wonderful times, and I tried my utmost to create wonderful scenarios. Wonderful and extreme scenarios cannot be maintained at an extreme level. And I guess part of the disappointment in myself, was the high expectation and trying to be the very best in all situations, not at the expense of other people, just simply driven and then, driven mad. So the old life, I really set myself up for failure in the end, because whatever it was I thought I ought to be, I could never achieve it, and so I was plunged into the negative world and could not see a way out on my own. And those final years of drink, the hopefulness of never waking up, and the horror of waking up and hating myself and by hating myself, I could hate the world and everything in it. Maybe blame is a horrible defect, although it is not mentioned so anywhere. Curative power comes in the form of forgiveness. I needed to forgive myself for my fatal malady, addiction and extremes, which were impossible. And part of step seven for me is reminding myself when I wake up, to forgive everything of everyone, including me, right now. And I know during the day, there will be times when forgiveness gets very thin, and I need to remind myself again, that people are the best they can be right now.
People are the best they can be in the moment of now, I am the best I can be in this moment, and for both you and me, the spiritual experience of now can be: Spiritually good, spiritually bad and spiritually ugly. Whether life is good, bad or ugly in the moment, can be changed depending on what we do next. In the blink of an eye, we know our mood and how emotions are going to affect our thinking, and the next action we can take. Freedom of choice about situations, what we can do, and what we cannot do help us navigate and feel right in the moment of now. What are described as negative emotions, which we will all have when things are going against us, need to be felt, and then as we feel these negative emotions in the blink of an eye, we can think about our responses to the immediate situation. We can have a step six response, full of anger and blame, and bringing all the extremes we have dealt with in the past, or we can have a step seven response, which is to take account of how we feel, and how we are impacting on the situation. If we do impact negatively on a situation, we feel the full horror of the old life start to grow again. If we can impact in a positive way on a situation, we are utilising the positive and although it may feel awkward to be level and equal with people when they are not level and equal with us, we do not need to be dragged into old behaviour. We can walk away if we have the tools, and sometimes we can be the mediator if we have the tools, and if we are the problem to other people, we need to understand why, and if we can change, we need the courage to do so.
So step six and the old life, I will always have these extreme personality traits in me, just like everybody else, and we can find ourselves in extreme feelings, extreme thinking and extreme actions. Similarly, and this is the problem, we can have extremely virtuous notions, which are unreal. The old life and the vices, the new life, actually is not to be a Puritan. The new life is to be human and recognise that we all have the vices and virtues, that we are a complicated mix of feelings all the time, and that these feelings are very real. Very real feelings can lead to fantasy and impossible ideas which have no foundation. We all dream, we all have fantasies and will have ideas and things we want to do. How can step six, and step seven help me today?
In my daily living, step six reminds me that I can imagine many things which would make my life seem better. I would like to be younger, I would like to be more virile, I would like to be attractive to the girls I am attracted to, funnily enough, just writing this, drink was not the one thing that came to mind. It reminds me sometimes that I do miss the imagined life of getting married and having children and all the love that there would be. And then I know something else, back then I was not prepared and I did not understand how to be that man. And step seven reminds me, unconditional love is where I am today. Not to impede the spiritual progress of other people, especially anyone who might be close to me because I just simply want them to flourish and be happy. Unconditional love for other people, is more than I ever dream possible.
Unconditional love is something I thought I had to acquire as an asset. I don't know that we understand love, it is an emotion and not a thought that can be described. Love has always been there, and all my life I have been a loving person, as best I could be in the moment of then. Unconditional love these days, is about learning every day, how to love, how to be loved back and the unconditional part really is in the can do and cannot do in the serenity prayer. Unconditional love, I feel we will always be learners, and we will keep on learning the capacity of unconditional love is without limit, but we humans are limited in some respects by life and experience. The twelve steps as life principles keep on opening the door to new life and new living. And providing I keep living, learning love continues one day at a time…
So in my step six and step seven life, I can be at sixes and sevens. It is just the way it is, because I'm a human being, sensitive, full of the old wisdom, and learning the wisdom of the day. The old negative wisdom can shape me in the blink of an eye, and the new positive wisdom is what I learn in the moment of now. It is a free choice. If we know how to make good choices today, the likelihood is that serenity and peacefulness is available. And on offer one day at a time…
January 20 2012 | Daily Reflection| AA daily reflections, "we pause and ask for help…" An alien concept; in my drinking days and how I was educated. Back then in the day, standing on my own two feet, a brave face and stiff upper lip. Today, asking for help and pausing and reflecting long enough to improve my situation and spiritual condition is second nature to me…
The simple moment of clarity, when I realised I could not stop drinking on my own could have paralysed me yet again. And that life could get no worse somehow was a relief because I was still alive. The first trudge into acceptance and picking up the phone and asking for help was enlightenment…
Early days, the first ninety where thirsty moments produced fear and anguish, started to fade and as each day passed, there were light and dark moments and both light and dark moments became good reasons to talk sharing experience, strength and hope about the reality of recovery…
Sometimes we classify ourselves as newcomers and old-timers. I quite like and feel comfortable being a "day timer." One day at a time, anything can happen and being aware that I don't know the answers means I can ask the help, pause and reflect and make sure that at least my spiritual condition is developing as I cope with reality…
In recovery we find our feelings fit the experience we are having. We feel life as it is right now, happy or sad, in love or out of love. We lose our irrational fears about life, we live reality. We can learn how to live our real life, and not a fantasy one day at a time today...
Step One "We admitted we were powerless over alcohol-that our lives had become unmanageable"
AA Daily: WE PAUSE . . . AND ASK JANUARY 20, As we go through the day we pause, when agitated or doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action. ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p.87
Today I humbly ask my Higher Power for the grace to find the space between my impulse and my action; to let flow a cooling breeze when I would respond with heat; to interrupt fierceness with gentle peace; to accept the moment which allows judgment to become discernment; to defer to silence when my tongue would rush to attack or defend. I promise to watch for every opportunity to turn toward my Higher Power for guidance. I know where this power is: it resides within me, as clear as a mountain brook, hidden in the hills - it is the unsuspected Inner Resource. I thank my Higher Power for this world of light and truth I see when I allow it to direct my vision. I trust it today and hope it trusts me to make all effort to find the right thought or action today.
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,