Alcoholics Anonymous Blog & Video | January 4 | 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 4 Video
Step One Video 12 & 12
DonInLondon January 4, 2014: fear, pride and ego can keep anyone in everlasting ignorance about themselves, that their opinions and beliefs can be challenged, that motivation to be stuck believing the sun revolves around the Earth. It can be truly difficult to understand the nature and consequences of addiction. It is also difficult for any individual to believe that addiction is an emotional and spiritual malady, rather than a simple physical affliction caused by over indulgence in a substance. Whichever way you look at alcoholism, it is a very destructive, damaging and life threatening ailment. One of the most destructive conditions any human can have, is self-prejudice because it opens the door to every prejudice available to any man anywhere. Just because I don't see the world as you do, it does not mean I am wrong or that you are wrong, it simply means we both have a point of view.
Powerless over alcohol -and life is unmanageable. Two components to the first step in the twelve step principles of living which have been evolving through time in a timeless manner. The interpretation of each of these principles depends upon outlook, attitudes, beliefs and opinions. And there is a conundrum here, interpretation can lead to arguments about what each step means. The more enlightened look at both or as many arguments or statements connected with a particular action in order to derive a workable solution one day at a time. My advice to anyone is keep it simple and work with what works for you.
If we can admit powerlessness over alcohol, there is the first part of our solution. Knowing what is wrong and what to do about it is really helpful, and denial keeps putting us back into the driving seat or drinking seat. It is easy to admit complete defeat one day and change our minds the next. I know I was capable of this because I'm a human with all faults of any human. Same goes for anything really, if we are finding something disagreeable, we tried to ignore it, we tried to confront it and still it’s there no matter what we do, usually the unacceptable truth. Just because you find the truth unacceptable, it does not mean it is not the truth. And of course on any given day, our emotional and spiritual nature can be playing to the good bad or ugly of what we are confronting. Same goes for people with different outlooks to our own, what does a non-alcoholic make of an alcoholic? It usually starts with what the alcoholic feels about themselves and if they feel attacked in some way by the non-alcoholic or someone with a different set of understandings about how to live. When you are digging yourself into a hole with no way out, usually the best thing to do is stop digging.
Secretiveness will keep us stuck, it may be for a short while, it may be for a long while, and often secretiveness is based on a feeling of fear, pride and ego because to take the lid off what is going on in anything means there is less room for manoeuvre or hiding. The saying within the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous and as far as I know is not part of any of the literature, "secrets keep us sick." And in the Fellowship, the sickness of alcoholism can keep us sick. This includes me of course, I can easily be wrong about anything. At the same time, have never found it to anyone's advantage, that is the mutual advantage of people getting on together to keep secrets from each other. And this can open the door to all sorts of statements about exceptions to the rule, that the truth will set you free.
Anonymity in Fellowship provides sanctuary to find out how to be sober. In a world which will heap prejudice on anyone anywhere, will utilise any form of control manipulation in order to keep people down or frightened to speak up, it behoves no one to start throwing stones at anyone for whatever reason in a fellowship which is all about love and tolerance, learning what it is to be an emotional and spiritual person one day at a time. Humility is the ultimate in learning, being open honest and willing to explore all elements and aspects of life without prejudice. Some may find this a bit of a libertine attitude, because it means we question and develop our own outlook, our own way of looking at the world and develop our own beliefs and opinions. I mentioned this in response to the some individuals who find truth to be the preserve of theirs and they the controllers of it, that is the truth as they see it. Keep it simple? Hopefully we do. And live and let live? We meet plenty of people in recovery who don't want to let you live and let live, they want you to live within their purview and their control. That is not my way, and I cannot live their way without seriously compromising other people's values about freedom one day at a time.
Timeless principles work because they are timeless. And rarely have I seen a person fail to understand the difference between a timeless principle over personal belief and ignorance. Ignorance simply is the preserve of those who will not accept other people have a point of view, which may or may not be the truth, but if it is working for them, why mess with how other people are living their lives? I'm of the opinion that if people are behaving in an honest way, able to accept acceptable boundaries formed by society and keep sober so they may keep on living and learning about life, no rules laws or regulations need to be evoked, especially when they don't exist within Fellowship. So when somebody puts themselves up as custodians rather than trusted servants, or lash out because they feel they are trusted servants, to impose their will upon you, better to get out of Dodge rather than get involved in another person's crusade. Be yourself, life is too short to kowtow and live in servitude. So I encourage everyone to challenge and support each other, except that there will be differences of opinion in regard to beliefs and opinions, because that is the way of the world. Truth simply manifests when agreement is reached through dialogue and interaction in the moment of now. And if that is so, it is a timeless principle.
Even the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story said Max Ehrmann. And for a long time I became dull and ignorant with the help of alcohol which took the edge off me emotionally and spiritually as well as intellectually and certainly reduce my capacities to think while under the influence. And all the emotional stuff of life, namely our feelings were either poorly developed, underdeveloped, overdeveloped and certainly outside the natural instincts I was born with. And it takes time to thaw out, learn what it is to move away from pride ego and fear, to a better way of living with courage to change, faith in doing the next right thing and confidence to be open to all the possibilities the world and life offers. Keeping secrets will keep me stuck in old attitudes, old beliefs, old opinions and afraid of the new. It doesn't mean that the new outlooks are any better than the old outlooks, it just depends on what works for you as an individual. I don't believe that the sun revolves around the Earth, it seems an obvious truth, and yet many over the centuries would disagree for a lot of reasons, usually because it meant loss of face, that truth had found something out and people were defending the indefensible: ignorance. Of course I could be wrong. And back in the day, challenging the status quo about the Sun and the Earth would lead to death. Nothing changes?
Anonymous is important or rather anonymity is important and critical to develop an outlook of open honest and willing to live life truthfully. If we did not have emotions like guilt and shame, if we were unable to make people feel ashamed, it would probably be a better way to live. Of course I could be wrong because that is my opinion. Anonymity affords an opportunity to try find out the truth about ourselves, what makes us tick, and what makes us sick. I never had the opportunity to have anonymity around my ailment of alcoholism, at the same time, within the Fellowship, the cloak of anonymity provided sanctuary to experiment and find out more about myself and what might work trying to live one day at a time. I still find it difficult to believe in the God of your understanding, because I cannot see inside your head and I don't know what is going on inside your head other than what you share. And when you share venom, and when you criticise, and when you are unyielding in your opinions, you deny others their opportunity to make the best of what is the best in Fellowship: learning how to love, learning how to be loved back and find useful endeavours in life all over again.
A simple rule of thumb for each individual in recovery: "to thine own self be true." And although this is an idealistic proposition when we don't know what the truth is, the suggestion is progress not perfection. And when we finally find some peace of mind, try not to undermine the peace of mind of other people. Serenity and peacefulness is possible even under the most adverse of conditions and often we find pride fear ego, envy and all the negatives can undermine the good in life. Of course I could be wrong. And yet, some things I find very difficult to accept, and I'm not trying to be scientific or clever about anything, some things just don't work in this world for me. At the same time I don't want to prevail or convert you to a different opinion or belief, I don't wish to undermine what you believe to be true in the moment of now, because undermining you would be wrong, because I could be wrong today. The acceptable truth of now reached through dialogue and agreement? Of course we will have to agree to disagree or we will both be wrong today. And the same is true for any group conscience held in any gathering of humans one day at a time.
AA daily reflections: is all about "Begin where you are…" Seems like a very obvious statement, but when I started recovery I have a mountain of unfinished business with the world, and my feeling was once I sorted out what the rest of the world was doing, I could then work on me. And obviously I got it the wrong way round, once I sorted out what I could do and could not do on a daily basis, the rest of the world could be left to get on with their business. It took a long time to realise I built the mountain of unfinished business, and the rest of the world knew nothing about it…
In my career I worked with a lot of very damaged people, and many of them had drinking problems, and drug taking problems. In their opinion, there was not enough drink and there were not enough drugs to solve their problems. I would often help them find ways to resolve their problems and they stopped drinking and taking drugs. And I never looked at me, going home to take the edge off and push their problems out of my head with alcohol. We don't know we are an alcoholic until we get there because it's always them and never me…
Step one, powerless and unmanageable living: Even when we realise there is something wrong, denial and always tomorrow to resolve the issue kept me drinking because it was important to see through to the end of the day. Step two, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. And that is the madness; I will sort it out tomorrow and tomorrow never comes. By the time we admit and accept our problem, we are at rock bottom. No wonder sobriety is one of the most difficult journeys into recovery from addiction.
And even in the early days of recovery, I hoped after a few months there would be an inner sanctum, where I would graduate and become immune to addiction. The graduation would be celebrated with a drink, a cigarette, a good time and girls adoring me. The pipedream probably kept me going for a while and then reality bit hard. I got my through the pipedream and found reality, with freedom to choose and learn life. No need to dream or fix my life away… The girls would have been very welcome though…
"In order to succeed you must fail, so that you know what not to do the next time" Anthony J. D'Angelo
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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