Alcoholics Anonymous Blog & Video | January 3 | DonInLondon | Step 1 "Powerless" |
"We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable." Speaking for myself, I need to translate the twelve steps into an active statement: "I do admit I am powerless over alcohol, and that if I drink today the consequences are life will become unmanageable all over again." If I ever forget or feel that I can go back to drinking without consequences, bad consequences, the only person I will be fooling is me.
January 3 Video
Step One Video 12 & 12
DonInLondon January 3, 2014: inside families, some friends, even people who we work for will have an inkling that something is different about us when we are drinking to excess. It is easy to brush off the concerns when we are asked about our drinking, a late-night, if you had my life wouldn't you drink? When we drink to excess and cannot stop, the first thing is denial. I'll take it easy tomorrow, I won't have a drink for a few days, and then I drink for the next few days. I don't even realise that I am trying to deal with a problem I cannot fix. That is how it was for me.
I did not plan my first meeting to Alcoholics Anonymous, family had decided to take action on my behalf and make some calls to people who might help the stricken person, me in this case. They answered the questionnaire that the people in Alcoholics Anonymous have made, and it highlighted that I would answer every question as yes to being an alcoholic. Unaware of their activities, the family decided to find a meeting locally, and my sister drove me there, and said, "Go in there and sort yourself out." I went into the hall at the meeting, it was full of people I knew from my local community, and the meeting was big, over a hundred people. I was hung over at the time and freely admitted when the opportunity was given to speak, that I was an alcoholic. Even though I admitted my plight, I left the meeting early and went to the pub at the end of the road, the Trafalgar pub on the Kings road, a regular watering hole for me. I needed a bracer to steady my nerves before returning to family and facing them. It would be five years of least before I got to my next meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous.
We do things to avoid the truth. I ran into problems with my business affairs, a healthy contract was lost because the firm was taken over. And relying on one contract, even though it would bring in a huge amount of income, if it doesn't happen the consequences can be very bad indeed. I could not meet my bills, my mortgage debt was rising, so I sold up, and although there was a healthy balance of money left over, I really didn't know what to do with myself and life was just horrible. Even though I had more than enough ready income to try start again, I was broken emotionally and just wanted to end the struggle. I felt like I could just die and leave the remainder to family. Instead I thought to clear my mind I took a holiday for two weeks in the Caribbean. The Caribbean proved to be economically cheaper than London to live at that time and I stayed away in luxury for nearly a year. I played a recluse, and pretended and made up stories for being away for so long to those who got to know me in my island luxury life. And drink sustained the illusion of happiness, but underneath all there was, well all there was, was me: fearful, and no idea what to do with life at all.
In the end I came back to London, and lived on floors, found work of any kind and started over, becoming acclimatised to my old haunts. But I was still haunted by the old life I had led, and a new life finding work of any kind just to sustain a minimal presence, and drink kept on holding me in its sway. If I could block out the horribleness of starting over, and I liked the jobs I did, and after each shift I would drink my troubles away. It was a living nightmare, and I was a nightmare to family, because I couldn't stop pretending to be okay. From the high life, to barely any sort of living, I derived pleasure by working hard and proving I could still do it in some small way. But I just couldn't stop drinking and reminding myself of these hard facts is necessary, because even though it is been a long time since I had a drink, a drink is always on offer and only a moment away. Over the years I have realised it is the love and concern and support given by fellow sufferers in recovery that has kept me sober all these years one day at a time.
I never think for a moment its been an easy process to stop drinking, go through the pain physically and emotionally to stop self-harm. It is not easy to give up something which has become a best friend, then my worst enemy by being dependent, and then addicted to a substance which brought joy and oblivion for many a year. Alcoholics Anonymous remains a society, a fellowship, no leaders, no typical organisation, no rules, no laws, no regulations, run by trusted servants who cannot tell you what to do. An odd type of society which opens the door to freedom of choice in what we do one day at a time. And how do we explain this to newcomers? It can seem like the blind leading the blind quite a lot of the time, because people in recovery don't always know that we are a society and there are no rules or regulations to govern personal behaviour. But sometimes fellows do get the wrong end of the stick and try to make AA be the way they want it, rather than the way it is: "anarchic democracy" where any changes are made by the group conscience and not by a single individual who wants to own and control whatever it is they think they have a right to do. And that won't work ever, because we are not that sort of society!
Almost time for people being away over Christmas and New Year to return and share their experience strength and hope of what happened over the festive season. It will have been a struggle if fellows have been out of touch with their fellows locally. And the local fellows need be tolerant and loving about what is coming their way. There will be shattered dreams, because reality is really difficult to cope with. And there will be successes, where everything went well and then there will be disasters which lead to relapse. Either way, as long as people are coming back, the matter what is happened, good bad or ugly, hopefully they are back and the experience shared not only helps the old timer, the middle timer and the day timers, it helps newcomers realise they are in a safe place to share what's going on for them.
What keeps me sober today? You do!
January 3 2013 | AA 12 Steps In Action | Step 1 "Powerless" | Alcoholics Anonymous | DonInLondon | Why on earth would I accept I am powerless over alcohol and if I take a drink today, life will become unmanageable? I can still recall the really awful days when I could not stop drinking, no amount of self will, no amount of common sense, no amount of encouragement from family and friends could stop me. And if family and friends could not stop me from drinking even when I knew I should stop, how could I do it on my own? The answer is and remains the same, I need the help of fellowship and people who live sober one day at a time…
The answer is always going to come from the wisdom shared in fellowship on a daily basis. If the answer comes from others, what is the question… The question is, "how can I live life on life's terms, living reality and being able to cope with it. And if I cannot cope, what to do?" I need to know my emotional and spiritual condition in any given moment. Where my feelings fit with my reality and the reality of life today. No feeling is wrong, and this is where we often make a mistake, trying to correct feelings which happen automatically as life happens. We need to know and acknowledge our feelings, and then think, and then work out our actions in the moment of now…
If I accept I am powerless over the emotional and spiritual condition of other people, and if I accept what my feelings are right now, and what can be done right now, there is something to share with whoever I might be with. Realising I am powerless over the emotional and spiritual condition of other people, means I can have a dialogue and ask for help and agree a way forward. Asking for help, empowers those around us to share their outlook so we can work together in harmony, or find out where the conflict is. Sometimes the answers to our situation, will not match our expectations, and these are the days when acceptance of how life is becomes of prime importance…
If I were to try and get you to agree to my point of view, you might say yes, outwardly, and yet say no inwardly. Telling the truth, also means helping other people tell their truth as well. And really important in recovery is to accept disagreeable situations happen all the time. It is not what we can do to change the world, it is what we can do to live with real life as it is. And a good way to cope with real life, is to have people who count and will give us feedback about what we have to deal with on a daily basis. And in the fellowship of AA, we do learn more about how to be open, honest and willing to change our own outlook, make better choices, and realise what we can and cannot do. We can change our own attitudes and outlook, we can change what we are doing, we cannot change the world that takes an eternity!
January 3 2012: Step six and step seven, step six all about extremes of fear, putting on a brave face and ego covering up shame and guilt. Step seven, about developing courage, faith and confidence daily. Contingent on asking for help, to see the truth of now and how life really is, the extremes of step six defects as they are known, become less and less. And my shortcomings, courage faith and confidence can grow to meet the day and its challenges. Willing to ask, willing to make spot checks, willing to reflect and willing to share the truth of who I am today…
Experience strength and hope: Back in the day I used to try and prove myself in whatever endeavour seemed right at the time. Old fears and insecurities from childhood, fear of being found out, guilt or shame about what I did not know was always there. I proved I could work hard, be successful, have romantic interludes and keep making life bigger and bigger. But the old fears were always there and alcohol and activity kept them at bay. Nowadays hardly any fear, just enough to keep a watchful eye. Today I can look out and be part of what is good for me, rather than what I thought I ought to be doing to prove myself. Living in the now, is where true happiness can be experienced. Sober and free to make good choices today…
My final Christmas "drinking alcohol" was a living hell. Walking to my mother's house, for lunch, not very far, felt like 1000 miles. Sober nearly, jittery and fragile. I could only stay an hour or so, hardly able to eat a thing. The look of fear on my mother's face, and walking home to recommence the endless drinking, is a long time ago. Today and over Christmas, seeing friends and being sober could not be more different. Seeing family via Skype, and kept in touch every day and was very happy. That first step in the AA program, powerless over alcohol has not changed; I simply need not drink one day at a time...
Back in the day, educated and driven to prove my place in society. To overcome all difficulties through personal power and drive. Left no room for other people to really influence what went on inside me. And the reason, being a man, standing on my own two feet was what I thought it was all about. Today I realise it's not about me and what I think, a very narrow outlook; it's about what is good for everyone and having freedom to make good choices based on reality. There are few vacancies at the very top of society and they tend to be very lonely situations. I love life, have no clue how it may turn out, and a good day is knowing myself a little bit better before I go to sleep…
"Don't aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally" David Frost
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 |
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