Alcoholics Anonymous Blog & Video | Jan 25 2004 - 2014 | DonInLondon | Step 1 "Powerless"
January 25 Video
DonInLondon January 25, 2014: every day when we look at the big picture across the world, the world appears to be in chaos. And at the same time as the world is in chaos, we can also be in chaos, and there are limits to what we can do and cannot do on a daily basis. The goal of Fellowship is to understand the truth of life in the moment, sometimes it is peaceful and serene, often it is a combination of good, bad and ugly events going on as well as the past experience which shapes the actions of what we can do and cannot do today.
I was hoping to come back from the meeting at lunch time at the spiritual hut of enlightenment. By the time I was able to get back, I was so exhausted I needed a rest. And as a consequence I am writing this a day late. No harm done, my posts are not time critical. In the old days, the old days of drinking that is, everything seemed to be important and a priority. Get the job done, relax with a drink. Get the job done and celebrate with a drink. In the end it was just work and drink, and all romance of life was lost.
And these days life is quite different, no urgency to fix anything other than priorities of course. But today the priorities start with understanding my emotional and spiritual condition, my feelings in the moment of now. And of course I need to be aware of the current conditions today, and very often it is about being prepared to meet the day as it is, rather than some fanciful notion that whatever happens I can cope with everything. And the truth is I cannot cope with everything or anything today, on our own, it is unlikely that we have the influence or the energy to put everything right. And we don't have to, as long as we are aware of ourselves and our limitations, without losing sight of the potential to be involved and active, we can make a fair assessment of the can do and cannot do individually and collectively.
There is a world conference trying to resolve an issue in one country, the people of that country are living in hell. Whichever side is conflicted with the other, there seems no way to peace and resolution. If the world cannot solve it diplomatically, why do I think I have the answers inside my head? I used to think I did know the answers, and maybe I did, at the same time if the world cannot influence one country to peace, I need to reconcile that my answers are simply beliefs and opinions and not the truth which would bring an end to war. And the same is true in my own backyard, in Fellowship, we do rely and accept that unity, service and recovery will surely help free an individual of their own internal conflict when it comes to finding recovery one day at a time.
Yesterday was very good in the spiritual hut of enlightenment, this is my nickname for a mid-morning meeting of the Fellowship. It was all about the first tradition of the Fellowship: "our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon AA unity." And it is the most cherished quality we have, unity offers the best way forward to help an individual find their freedom from addiction and get their freedom of choice back one day at a time. Unity service and recovery: it is the foundation which holds everyone together in Fellowship, and ensures each individual can find their own personal path, their authentic path in life. A bridge back into the world of chaos and confusion. A bridge back into the world where we can make the best of who we are, and do the best we can under the current conditions today.
Life in recovery was very difficult begin with, learning how to live without my best friend, which turned out to be my worst enemy, alcohol. And then I discovered I could have been addicted to anything because when I put the bottle down, I found myself in extreme feelings which I just didn't know what to do about. I was angry and resentful at myself, and then angry and resentful that the world, but oddly enough I was not angry and resentful at alcohol. It was almost a sacred substance which didn't have to be forgiven. It remained free from guilt which I find very odd looking back even now. If I didn't make alcohol the enemy, I suppose I could have gone back to it at any stage. And only in writing just now, do I see how open the door was to relapse in the future. It might be obvious to other people, but somehow the substance or behaviour of itself was never blamed by me. It was always my reaction to the world or the reaction of the world to me which caused me to drink the poison that killed off so much of my potential back in the day. I am actually surprised to write this just now.
Anyway the good news is I do recognise alcohol is poison to me. And I was watching a programme in the early hours all about how chemists spent most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, concocting painkillers of one sort or another. At one stage aspirin was seen as more dangerous than heroin, which is not surprising because heroin was immediately efficacious to most human conditions, causing oblivion which happily pleased most of the public. In the end the dangers became apparent, if capitalism had had its way, and there were no laws or regulations, the havoc would be even greater than it is today. Alcohol is no different, it is addictive, it is a palliative, it offers oblivion, and even today is freely available. And after decades of drinking, I can say with clarity and certainty I am better off not having any alcohol one day at a time. Having said that, I am not a Puritan.
January Step One Month: "We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable." "Risk management: relapse prevention, whatever you like to call it, in early days of trying to stop drinking, life is difficult." We want to keep on doing the things which we liked to do, until what we liked doing became an addiction. All the things we liked to do probably involved alcohol as an accompaniment, and then alcohol became the main reason the doing anything.
DonInLondon 2004 - 2013
January 25 2013 | AA 12 Steps In Action | Step 1 "Powerless" | Alcoholics Anonymous | "what on earth is emotional and spiritual?" And all you need to do is work out what it means to you. One fellowship was common ground, a multitude of beliefs and opinions, just as it will always be, because we are human beings, with freedom of thought and choices. When we are restored to sanity!
Emotional and spiritual! I heard these words quite a lot in my early days in the fellowship of AA. And upon becoming part of the fellowship, with no particular thought or feeling about emotional and spiritual matters, simply a desire to stop drinking for a while, and absolutely no intention of committing myself to a lifetime of sobriety. After all, we would be mad to say never drink again, would we not? All I wanted to do when I got to AA was fined relief from the world which either I had discarded, or the world had discarded me as useless and surplus to requirements. I wanted to use my brain to understand the twelve steps, to understand the logic and why people kept on saying it was simple for complicated people like me. Using logic on an emotional and spiritual malady is likely to cause more madness, logic is the second part of what happens in our brains, but we humans still think we can rule over everything. No one told me much about my feelings, my emotions and the idea that my emotions were at the root of all this inability to stop drinking made me even more mad. I thought I controlled my emotions really well, and my emotions never got in the way of getting the job done. A bit of a nitwit in this respect, I never realised how my feelings impacted on everything, how my mood altered my thinking and my actions every single day… Emotional and spiritual, I thought it got in the way of my recovery, because if I understood the twelve steps, that was going to be enough… It was not.
I thought that, emotional and spiritual was something for those who believed in God, was something to do with mystical notions, and nothing to do with me. And I failed to understand most of what was going on in my head was about my feelings, which I ignored at all costs because they were too painful to deal with. I had not dealt with heartbreak, I had not dealt with the love I felt for women in my life, I had not dealt with my inability to cope with reality when people died and were close to me. Drink was my saviour when it came to feelings, I felt it helped me understand love in the logical way, I felt alcohol took away the sting and the pain, as well as made possible joy and happiness. I thought I was controlling my feelings, and that drink was always the best solution. I never realised how deluded I was, because everyone around me seemed to be doing the same thing and I could not understand people who did not drink as much as people like me. Either they avoided me, which is much to my cost, or I avoided them because the way they behaved did not need alcohol to be happy or sad. They just had feelings they dealt with as they happened in the moment… And that is what emotional and spiritual life is about, feelings fitting reality, feelings happening in the moment of now and being able to cope with them even when they feel very uncomfortable…
If you have ever walked away from a situation, and suddenly found that you have not said what you meant to say, most likely you were suppressing your true feelings. From having a discussion with a beautiful girl who says that she is doing nothing tonight and me, simply saying, "neither am I, it looks like a bleak night," not realising she was inviting me out for the night. It took me a long time to realise I was a shy person and did not pick up on the invitation. All walking away from saying yes to something, I don't want to do having agreed to for a quiet life, and simply wondering why had I agreed? Because although I felt ill at ease, it was not until I walked away and let the feelings come out that my thinking and subsequent anger at myself just gnawed at my soul, without respite… I had no forgiveness for myself, and would not go back and say no or yes, I will just grit my teeth and get on with it…
The first ninety days, the first ninety days when I stayed within the fellowship, I started to realise I had a lot of unresolved feelings inside me, which had been suppressed for many a year by alcohol or stimulated by alcohol, so I could feel something back in the day. My feelings erupted in all sorts of ways, I felt angry and rage at myself, for the way people have treated me, for the way I thought I allowed people treat me. And these feelings felt so strongly, I felt I had the power to walk through walls with this strength of feeling. And happy one moment, angry the next moment, almost in tears as each emotion tumbled out of me and around me. A seething fog of unimaginable pain. No longer suppressed, the feelings and the outrage kept me stuck going round and round in circles. I did not know that I was grieving for everything that had gone wrong in my life, trying to grieve a lifetime in the moment of now, no wonder I felt thirsty, I felt I wanted oblivion from this pain and I had a strong desire at the same time to overcome and conquer my killer malady. The trouble was, to take away the pain logically, it would lead back to drinking again and killing myself, what might have been quickly or slowly, I will never know, well at least I hope I never know...
As the days went by, the physical shakes and nervous tics started to go away and just left with a head full of feelings which were driving me mad, constantly feeling like I was being jabbed and beaten up. Now I really started to understand what emotions were, and just how extreme they could be when they were not suppressed. I suddenly realised I was capable of every extreme feeling known to mankind, and the desire to act on those feelings was immensely strong. I was no different to anyone else on the planet, when feelings have been suppressed for a long time and suddenly there is space to express them, they will all come out at once, and trying to sort them out with my thinking and logic was impossible, I was simply overloaded, emotionally, I was overloaded and could not cope from moment to moment, without wanting that drink to shut my head up and the racket inside. Now that's why I was going to meetings, to let the racket go on and on as long as it needed to, to realise I was emotionally ill, and I needed help to cope moment to moment, minute to minute, hour to hour and just for a day…
I'm sure people said, over and over to me, "this is an emotional and spiritual malady," when drinking I had suppressed so much and all I was doing was putting off the day when we have to deal with reality, and reality never goes away. And then trying to understand this emotional and spiritual fellowship, trying to understand the logic of it, how to control it and think recovery, rather than live it, it was very very difficult to let go, to accept what it means to be powerless, what it means to be unmanageable and then see the strength in vulnerability, humility and learning how to ask for help when I cannot cope. I was still stuck trying to understand why me in the first place, then, why do I have to accept help, why do I have to accept humility, especially with all I know about life, especially because I used to be good at a lot of things, and still with all my previous experience, why had it taken so long to realise just how much I had not coped with my emotions in any moment of now?
A rude awakening those first ninety days, there was no finishing line at the end of the ninety days, simply a prospect of better days, and I started to realise coping with those feelings during those ninety days had not been done by myself. I had endured the awkward company of many happy people having a happy time whilst I felt rage, anger and misery, and times of mad humour and comedy at myself and the antics that was shared as experience, strength and hope. The mad reality of times past, and the reality of now was being shared at every meeting, whether it was good, bad or ugly, I started to hear the truth that people shared, the tall stories that people shared, the funny stories people shared and the horror and tragedy that people shared. I was beginning to realise what it was like to be a human being, dealing with their emotional and spiritual living on a daily basis.
I'm grateful I was reminded that there is a reading in one of the AA books, as Bill sees it, that we are one fellowship with common ground and a primary purpose, and everyone in the fellowship has their own belief system and opinions. In the early ninety days, I was hoping for divine intervention which would lead to me believing in God. I suppose I was already aware that the miracle of sobriety was indeed a miracle, and yet I could not connect it to a deity selecting me or anybody else to an emotional or spiritual path. And then it dawned on me, after all these years, that everything is driven on the emotional and spiritual path of life, experiencing feelings in the moment of now. Coping with them. And if we can't cope, ask for help. Even though I did not like the word back in the day, humility and the ability to keep on learning and asking is the greatest strength each human can utilise. And then somebody said, "God works through people, and I'd heard Gandhi say that God is truth and God is love." Truth, love and wisdom are learned and when we can't understand something, we can ask for help. And that cracked it for me, I was not omnipotent, never thought I was, but I'd forgotten how to ask for help. So the notion of prayer and meditation was a good idea, sorting out what I could do, and what I could not do. So when I couldn't do something, it was okay to feel the awkwardness and ask for help. Thank good or God or whatever you believe in, for that!
I don't forget in my early days, as my feelings erupted all over the place, I needed to safe place to be, and being destitute at the time, if I had not bumped into an old friend in the Street who said they couldn't help me and I ought to go to AA, I would be dead. Because he wouldn't help me even though he was a professor of psychiatry, or rather he realised he simply couldn't help me, is what I realise today. Even the most eminent of scientists have not been able to provide a logical clinical process back to sanity, a fix which can be administered with a guarantee. No wonder the fellowship of AA has always said, attraction not promotion. How they got this so quickly is beyond me, and only now do I recognise just how many alcoholics got to recovery and realised that there is no fix to be promoted when it comes to addiction. In fellowship, what you see is what you get on any given day, always good, always bad, and always with some ugly bits thrown in. Because that is life! Good, bad and ugly…
So the medical profession, they can understand how people fall into addiction, however medical people cannot stop life happening nor the consequences for anyone, anywhere when it comes to addiction or disease or anything else. Some medical conditions can be fixed because science has found a way. Science has not found a way to medicate humans out of their life experiences. And it is life experience, the emotional and spiritual condition we have, that fellowship helps people deal with and cope with on a daily basis. Sharing experience strength and hope leads to learning the truth, what it is to love, what it is to be loved back and the wisdom as life happens...
Mankind's most difficult task, to live in the moment of now, cope with it, or not cope and ask for help. Carry on evolving and learning life, being involved in family, community, society, arts and sciences, enterprise, and dealing and coping with the good the bad and the ugly of everything we may encounter day by day. We make progress, we have imagination, we see the next step, and we make intuitive leaps, sometimes into fantasy, sometimes into a new reality. Very cool, one day at a time…
January 25 2012 | Daily Reflection | AA Fellowship basics: as an individual to be open honest and willing one day to time. In fellowship to be steadfast in unity, service and recovery, and again one day to time. And if we are diligent we make progress and do not seek perfection. Attraction, what you see is what you get "WYSIWYG" rather than promotion which is a guarantee or a fix and is impossible one day at a time…
Nobody is perfect and on a daily basis it is very difficult to be perfect in our open honest and willing behaviour. Indeed a BBC news bulletin suggests based on broad studies that the individual is less honest because there is a lack of role models in all walks of life, in particular in politics and industry, community and religious leaders. I have learned it is not what others do, it is what I do today… You can.
Tradition three: the principal of inclusion rather than exclusion from fellowship. The only requirement a desire to stop drinking means the door is always open to anyone with a desire to quit, and that we are all equal in fellowship. There is no hierarchy and we will speak with an equal voice in our group conscience. This is what kept me coming back to share and listen to experience strength and hope, learning what I can do and cannot do today…
Contingent on my asking for help, my spiritual condition "being able to cope with reality" is likely to be more balanced than reverting to old behaviour. Step six, defects of character and old behaviour can emerge in the blink of an eye when things are difficult. Step seven, my shortcomings of courage and faith and confidence in doing the next right thing can improve if I pause, reflect and then respond rather than reacting as I might have in the old days… Every day I can be at sixes and sevens with life…
I have learned the difference between "isolation" and "solitude." Isolation from the world when I'm hurt and fearful makes me want to shut down and ignore the reality of now. Solitude on the other hand, is time on my own where I enjoy reflection and meditation, or simply reading a book or watching a film or TV. Isolation can be me in the grip of fear or depression. Solitude enjoying individual pastimes when opportunity arises…
"Needs and Wants," acceptance is learning the difference, needs met wants forgotten? ~ Gail Sheehy "Would that there were an award for people who come to understand the concept of enough. Good enough. Successful enough. Thin enough. Rich enough. Socially responsible enough. When you have self-respect, you have enough." -/- Humility is essential in learning life every day and just for today...
Step One "We admitted we were powerless over alcohol-that our lives had become unmanageable"
AA Daily: WHAT WE NEED - EACH OTHER ~ JANUARY 25, A.A. is really saying to every serious drinker, “You are an A.A. member if you say so . . . nobody can keep you out.” TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 139
For years, whenever I reflected on Tradition Three (“The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking”), I thought it valuable only to newcomers. It was their guarantee that no one could bar them from A.A. Today I feel enduring gratitude for the spiritual development the Tradition has brought me. I don’t seek out people obviously different from myself. Tradition Three, concentrating on the one way I am similar to others, brought me to know and help every kind of alcoholic, just as they have helped me. Charlotte, the atheist, showed me higher standards of ethics and honour; Clay, of another race, taught me patience; Winslow, who is gay, led me by example into true compassion; Young Megan says that seeing me at meetings, sober thirty years, keeps her coming back. Tradition Three insured that we would get what we need - each other.
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,