Alcoholics Anonymous Blog & Video | Jan 30 2004 - 2014 | DonInLondon | Step 1 "Powerless"
DonInLondon January 30, 2014: yesterday was quite challenging: an unhappy consultation with my general practitioner. And then a very healthy consultation with the nuclear science medical Department at the Chelsea and West hospital, who really work hard to deliver an excellent service. Two parts of the medical system of the NHS, almost to opposites in the way they handle their patients. Talking with my sister, I realise I am seeing reality as it is, and from a legal standpoint she is very helpful, now retired from being legal director of a very large UK enterprise. Being right, well I am happy I am, at the same time there is work to be done!
Life is full of ups and downs, and sometimes we find it easier to help other people, rather than help ourselves because we are built that way emotionally and spiritually. At the same time if we do not look after ourselves, emotionally and spiritually, we will lose the plot. I am so grateful to have been to a meeting yesterday morning before embarking on difficult matters during the day. What it meant was having a level head and being able to: "state my case," to those who would undermine the reality of today and their behaviour. If we get bad consultations and half-truths suggested to us, we do have the right to challenge people. It does not mean we end up in conflict, we can indeed find resolution. However, always know, that people do not like to be challenged if they feel they have power over others including ourselves.
Public service: when people in government, when people hold positions which are about supporting people and caring about people, they can be in conflict with their own personal values, and the values they have to adopt in order to carry out their work. A bit like being addicted to their authoritative positions, people forget their role and responsibilities and to whom they are accountable. These responsibilities, of public service are often forgotten by individuals who feel they have power because of their positions in society. Indeed I need people to be able to utilise the power of their positions in a positive way, in "public service “which means they are accountable and responsible for their actions on a daily basis. We do have ways to challenge these powerful people, not necessarily as an individual, we hand it over to people who have authority to scrutinise the behaviour of these public servants, and public servants need to be aware that they can be challenged as individuals and not as the organisation in which they work. The buck does stop somewhere!
Good news: the early-morning meeting was brilliant and all about truth and all about step one. Almost the end of January and in February I will be looking more closely at step two if I continue my blog. Truth in a meeting means we deal with life as it is, and also about the death of one person who was best friend someone sharing. I can't go into details of course but it reminds me of the times when I was on life support as a consequence of my drinking many many years ago. Even then it didn't stop me, and I continued to drink for quite a few years. Step one, admitting powerlessness and unmanageability: opens the door to accept and admit the truth of now, that recovery offers far more freedom of choice, leaving an old life where self-harm was killing me and moving into a new life, completely different and more worthwhile than I ever thought or felt was possible.
An early-morning meeting gives me perspective. With any luck I will be okay today, and whatever might have upset me in recent days is nothing compared to the alternative where life is lived in the dark. Over the last few weeks I have learned how important any Fellowship is to those who attend. And having been to many meetings that are different to the Fellowship to AA, all the similarities are there and the only difference? I gain a wider perspective than the one I had before. AA is my mainstay in recovery and any other Fellowship will simply improve my understanding of my humanity and my human condition.
And being reminded of step one powerlessness, I was very grateful for many contributions which go with my feelings about powerlessness. I am powerless over my old addiction, and recovery is preferable. I'm also powerless over people, places and things which means I am not trying to control the world, I am learning how I fit in the world one day at a time. And if I don't fit somewhere, it is good to move on. Not fitting in does not mean I need to change my open honest and willing approach, my own values and my own philosophy, it simply means I find a place where I do fit in, for however long one day at a time. And I fit in Fellowship.
Alexander Pope: "Hope springs eternal in the human breast; man never is, but always to be blessed: the soul, uneasy and confin'd from home, rests and expatiates in a life to come." Which roughly translates to no matter what the circumstances, man will always hope for the best - feels and thinks that better things will come. We may not always act our best, and yet we have the potential to be better moment to moment. No matter how bad things have been, they can always get better with a clear head and perspective.
"We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable." Life changes beyond imagination in recovery. We might dream of a return to how we were when drinking without having to have a drink. The truth is when we were drinking, we were the best we could be with drink inside us and influencing our lifestyle to include drink and maintain those happy times: until of course the good times just turned out to be the worst of times day in and day out. Sober we have our freedom to choose given the current conditions in which we live in the day and we remind ourselves of step one.
DonInLondon 2004 - 2013
January 30 2013 | AA 12 Steps In Action | Step 1 "Powerless" | Alcoholics Anonymous | "freedom to be me, but who am I…?" All those years of trying to fix myself, trying to fix the way I looked to other people, trying to blend in, trying to be included in the world and always using my wits and abilities to be that chameleon, morphing into what you wanted, and never knowing what I needed…
Learning who I am today, this is not the sort of question I would imagine many people ask themselves. Most people? I don't know about most people, I just know about me, always asking myself the question, what am I doing, why and what is the point? I do believe that this question was with me from the start. A primary school teacher asked me who I wanted to be when I grew up, and apparently I looked at her with surprise and said, "I want to be King!" I know this, and I was five years old. The teacher told my mother and my mother thought it funny at the time. Can a person be grandiose, aged five? No! I reckon it was equality of opportunity that was required and not some notion of hereditary rights! After all, my dad was a socialist and he was very grandiose about everything. So who am I today? I don't know, but by the end of the day, I'm likely to have learned something useful and made some progress, it is the journey and not the destination today, the destination is the same for everyone, we just don't know when it's going to be…
I can remember, when talking to a friend some years back who was struggling to change career, that I suggested with any endeavour, start by being open, honest and willing to look at all the positive reasons for a change. And then look at all the reasons people may put in your path to block your ambition. And what will block you most in your own ambition to become something different. Impatience, resentment at the world, battling to be something, rather than being the person they were, made them exaggerate their skills, made them be selective with the truth about the past, in other words, leaving out some bad bits which could be researched. The CV was inaccurate and the pertinent questions unanswered, the interview good, the outcome, a flat rejection and huge annoyance by the potential employer at being misguided. Rage and anger persisted in my friend, the world against them again. If we are to get anywhere in life, we need to be open, honest and willing, with ourselves, first and foremost, telling the truth to ourselves, will stop us telling lies about our character and our values to other people. And people don't need to know everything, if it is not pertinent to the relationship? In my experience everything is pertinent and we get found out. If we hide, we miss our real opportunities to live openly and be successful at living. Living life now, as close to truth as we can muster will let people in and not shut us out...
Common ground in life and in recovery, we are all human, sensitive to our environment, we all have feelings and every person is learning about their feelings every day. Some are a quick study, living and experiencing their feelings in the moment of now, without any historical emotional eruptions blighting the present moment. And other people, their emotional fingers burned, holding on to grudges and horrors which have never been reconciled. I have a host of ghosts and emotional hang-ups, and the bloody ghosts will often chatter. If I have not dealt with these ghosts and why they hang around in my head, they will and can erupt in ugliness in the moment of now. Some of these ghosts, I can laugh at the causes and the effects, and some can make me mad as hell, because life isn't supposed to be like that. And I should not have been treated that way, I just didn't know what was right and wrong back in the day. Today, I am more clear, able to be assertive and have empathy with everyone I meet. And this is courtesy of the learning available, the experience, strength and hope of many people in fellowship and outside fellowship one day at a time...
Step one is all about powerless over alcohol and life gets unmanageable if we take a drink. A huge learning for me is accepting other people have power and control in many relationships. Anyone can encounter the helpful boss, the bullying boss, the helpful store assistant, the store assistant, who couldn't care less. The doctor who wants to help us, the doctor so stressed out they miss what's wrong with us. So many people need power in their positions in life, usually we can power up the people around us to help us if we ask for help in the right way, at the right time and in the right place. If we ask the help, without thinking or feeling we are entitled, even though, by law, we may have some rights, simply ask openly and honestly, "can you help me please?" And in recovery we need and in fellowship, the fellowship is a safe place, most often to ask for help. Sometimes help comes immediately and the solutions are found. Most often we ask for help, and it takes time, because it takes time for others to recognise our asking, and it takes time for us to recognise who might be appropriate to help. Nothing will ever work to your timetable, if you feel entitled and you feel you deserve something. Humility, recognising the need for help, asking for help, and then people recognising your needs rather than demands and wants is a lifelong journey in being alive and living one day at a time…
If you are asking for help, ask the person if they are able to help. And if they are not able to help, thank them for their honesty, and move on, or listen to the person you have asked who may be suggesting the right person to help you. This is life, it works in fellowship and it works in reality, in your daily doings, family, work and community and society. We all have rights and responsibilities, at the same time we need to power up the people around us, so they can be helpful and we can engage with them as we may. I have been around for five decades, and a bit like anyone reaching what might be a midpoint, or quite a late point in life, wisdom grows and grows. Why can't we get it sooner rather than later, this wisdom of life? Well we can find ways to learn and engage in life sooner rather than later. Once we have our freedom of choice back, freedom from drink, freedom from fear and freedom from our own worst enemy, the critic within who searches and searches and never finds the answer on their own…
And how am I feeling today? I feel good, it's 8:30 in the morning, mild weather, although dark and dingy with clouds. All my usual routines, reminding myself of steps one, two and three, that life can feel powerless and that is the strength, but doing the same things over and over again will not yield a new outcome, and let go and stop battling and pretending to be okay. Remind myself of the serenity prayer, the things I can do and cannot do today and the wisdom to know the difference will happen in the moment as each new life event unfolds. Sharing the experience, strength and hope of past times, and share the experience, strength and hope of present times. When life is good, when life is bad, and when life is plain old ugly, sharing the truth and being open, honest and willing, will be as good as it gets on any given day, and especially just for a day, this one…
I have heard many people say this, "let go and let God…" Certainly, let go the notion that you have all the power and are responsible in all ways to achieve your ambitions and goals which are about the future. In my experience, letting go is about letting go the mystery and mythology of being powerful over people, places and things. We don't live in this world alone, we live interdependent lives. And we need to take account of the wisdom around us, people who may be able to help us, and we need humility. Like I mentioned yesterday, humility can be seen as a grandiose word, or a word you don't like because it takes away your power. The evidence, in my life is that humility, opens the door to asking for help. "Let go and let God!" I feel very concerned that is the most grandiose copout on the planet. Let go and be guided by the wisdom of the universe, accessible twenty-four seven all around you, every day, the people, places and things familiar and unfamiliar. When we let go and ask for help, we work harder and smarter and with more freedom of choice from moment to moment. Truth is now, love is now, wisdom always in the now, because everything is happening right now… And thank God for that!
January 30 2012 | Daily Reflection | Today's AA daily reflection: "freedom from and freedom to?" It can be very difficult in my experience to feel any freedom at all in early days of recovery. Which is why hope is so important and was so important. Hearing people share their stories, experience of recovery in the fellowship of AA, eventually started to make a difference to me. Simply one day at a time, not needing to drink was key. I still had many wants, wanting to be well, wanting a roof over my head and many more, but not wanting a drink or needing to drink was enough for me….
From hopeless desperation and desolation to hopeful and able to cope just enough today, my daily rehab in the community, going to meetings and for the first time in many years being included in something and not looking from the outside meant I kept sober. It felt like a long-distance endurance of fear and looking over my shoulder for some imaginary bogeyman to catch me out. Of course there was no bogeyman, and the extreme fear began to subside when I realised fellowship was my community within my local community, and at last I was included and belonged again...
My first emotion in recovery, extreme fear beyond reality. Fear of being found out, fear of not being good enough, fear of being beyond redemption which felt like a 24 hour nightmare. And then in time fear seemed to become just one of many emotions I may have today. And over the years, I still am learning what it is to be loved and to be able to love back. And every emotion a human being can feel today is more understood by me. The twelve steps help me learn what my feelings are today, and they fit my experience. And when my feelings fit the experience of now, I think and behave consistent with what is happening and my personal outlook today….
The greatest freedom for me is to learn "who I am daily." I start my day with basic routines to understand my emotional and spiritual condition, "How am I feeling, why and what may I do?" Just simply checking out my daily starting point and then reminding myself of steps 1 to 3 and the serenity prayer. And at any time of day, steps 10 to 12 will help me and guide me just for a day. And with humility it's not whether I'm right or wrong, it's what I do and how I live which defines me and helps me understand a little bit more about life and living in the moment, the only place where we can change our outlook day by day….
Two meetings for me yesterday: At lunchtime about tradition one, freedom of choice in recovery is paramount. And then late evening: all about issues in later sobriety. Each meeting emphasised living real life as real life is, and with acceptance we keep making the best choices to action, action being the key...
Arthur Gordon "Some people confuse acceptance with apathy, but there's all the difference in the world. Apathy fails to distinguish between what can and what cannot be helped; acceptance makes that distinction. Apathy paralyzes the will-to-action; acceptance frees it by relieving it of impossible burdens."
Step One "We admitted we were powerless over alcohol-that our lives had become unmanageable".
AA Daily: Freedom from... Freedom to ~ We are going to know a new freedom... ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 83
Freedom for me is both freedom from and freedom to. The first freedom I enjoy is freedom from the slavery of alcohol. What a relief! Then I begin to experience freedom from fear - fear of people, of economic insecurity, of commitment, of failure, of rejection. Then I begin to enjoy freedom to - freedom to choose sobriety for today, freedom to be myself, freedom to express my opinion, to experience peace of mind, to love and be loved, and freedom to grow spiritually. But how can I achieve these freedoms? The Big Book clearly says that before I am halfway through making amends, I will begin to know a "new" freedom; not the old freedom of doing what I pleased, without regard to others, but the new freedom that allows fulfilment of the promises in my life. What a joy to be free!
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,