Alcoholics Anonymous Blog & Video | Feb 13 2004 - 2014 | DonInLondon | Step 2 "Sanity"
DonInLondon February 13, 2014: step two month: "came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." Part of my restoration process towards sanity meant I needed some enlightenment about my situation. In active addiction, no amount of my willpower seemed to be able to stop me from drinking and sometimes using prescription drugs to find oblivion. I needed help, and in one blinding and very obvious moment, I did accept the truth that I could not stop active addiction on my own. I surrendered to the truth and the reality of my situation. And there will always be situations where I cannot cope on my own. And I need to ask for help.
Surrendering to the truth is not a deficit or something lacking in me, it is accepting that some things that happen in life can be overwhelming. Loss of a loved one, loss of one's career, loss of control and overwhelmed by something in the day. These are situations which many people face head-on with help. For me as recovering alcoholic, trauma still happens and I ask for help and share about situations with those I know have experience, strength and hope. And they can support me and others in difficult situations. These days, it is not only the fellowships which help me, it can be anyone anywhere, and often professional help is at hand. And I can ask without fear, pride or ego getting in the way today.
Courage to change, faith in doing the next right thing, being open and honest to face the truth can be very difficult. It takes practice to understand what is going on in our emotional and spiritual living. Considering our feelings, and sharing the truth of our feelings in the moment of now is normal and natural. And for some reason, whatever it may be, we might not share because we feel our emotions are negative and unwanted. That may be true, at the same time being true to oneself and the people around us, sharing exactly how we feel about situations, opens the door for those who may help. There is never a guarantee that anyone can solve our problems, and they cannot stop the feelings we have. Sharing the feelings we have, however, will provide illumination to everyone and then we see if anyone can help. We don't always get support immediately, that is life! Sometimes it takes time and more expression of feelings in the moment to help us be open to people who may come forward today.
Only when we suffer loss do we really understand the depth of emotion we can feel. We move through a process very often, it starts with denial: "I can't believe it, it can't be true." Then as we start to understand the truth, we feel quite naturally, anger and frustration. And then we may become quite depressed by these overwhelming situations. And the problem of this process of grief is that it can go backwards and forwards, denial, anger, frustration and depression swirling around and we cannot stop it. Of course in the old days we might take a drink or drug to alleviate the pain and seek oblivion. In recovery, even though we may feel overwhelmed, letting the emotions out as they happen is just right. And eventually as we accept the truth, we start to find new ways to cope with reality as well as the loss we experienced and continue to feel for as long as it takes. Hopefully we cherish memories and let go the pain. And this can take a very long time.
In this morning’s meeting, all about step three, means that we have an understanding of step one and two? Some people are not yet involved in learning the steps, and the clarity of step three is frustrating to understand. All of the steps are frustrating because they are about emotional and spiritual well-being, and the last thing we had any understanding of in active addiction was emotional and spiritual living. Indeed, every day since our birth we all live an emotional and spiritual life, even if we are unaware of this understanding, it is still happening. And the emotional and spiritual experience in addiction, always ends in oblivion, because reality is too horrible to contemplate or live in during those awful times. So, coming into Fellowship and the emphasis on emotional and spiritual progress is quite different to all we did before, covering up with our thinking and intellect and blotting out emotional pain.
So these days I like to feel life as it is, I feel okay, things to do, and progress is being made in one or two areas of drama and conflict. And I am hoping these matters are resolved amicably in the next few weeks. With respect to the steps and how they work for me, I always remind myself I am powerless over the actions of others who may have different ideas about what is right. We would be madness to believe I can control anything in particular in the minds of others. So that is about step one and two. And then step three: let go my own self-will over the outcomes, and ask for help from those I may be in conflict with today. By asking for help from those involved, a bigger truth will hopefully emerge and it will be agreeable to everyone concerned. And so I let go being right, and righteous and trying to do it all on my own because I cannot. Open honest and willing to change? Yes I am, even if the outcome is quite different to my desires, I can let go the impossible, and try for the possible, which is where other people can suggest an outcome.
There are more funerals this week for people who were in fellowship, and some people are feeling a lot of grief, which is overwhelming. And that is the truth of now, not coping with feelings and feeling overwhelmed with everything: from denial, which is normal, to anger and frustration which is normal, and feeling depression and loss, which is absolutely normal. And the acceptance of the truth will take time, it is not about closure, or getting over something in my humble opinion, it is about finding those times to cherish those we love and have lost. And the cherishing can take years to emerge. Hopefully, we forgive ourselves and we forgive those we have lost. There are many things about life, where we are powerless, driven mad and find it hard to surrender to the truth in the moment of now.
DonInLondon 2004 - 2013
Alcoholics Anonymous | February 13 2013 | AA 12 Steps In Action | Step 2 "Sanity" | House Of Cards and "common welfare, common ground and your personal spiritual beliefs…" Alcoholics Anonymous is all about inclusion, if you say you are in, you are in the fellowship. One primary purpose to stay sober and help others. With step two, coming to believe in a higher power will always be a personal matter. Our spiritual beliefs will always be personal beliefs. I do believe myself: "spiritual living is the ability to cope with reality, the reality of now." My own personal spiritual compass is based on: "truth, how to love people and how to be loved back by people and develop this wisdom from moment to moment." Truth, love and wisdom, helping me cope with reality in the moment of now. And what is my higher power? Truth, love and wisdom shared in the moment of now, through people, places and things. Strength in unity, understanding and helping each other live the truth, love and wisdom of now. Which makes it easy, as a person who still finds it difficult to believe in other people's notion of God. Gandhi suggested: "God is truth and God is love…" And this manifests in what we do together by sharing experience strength and hope, inside and outside fellowship through actions and not just impressions that something will happen just because it will happen… We have to work at life, the spiritual life of now is always going to be a work in progress…
I was watching the brand-new series of "House Of Cards," and one of the principal characters in the story is an alcoholic. And the alcoholic in the story is having trouble with a higher power. And the alcoholic in the story is finding it difficult to understand what on earth the twelve steps are about. They do have a sponsor in the story and the sponsor suggests that we come to believe in a power greater than ourselves. I won't say what happens in the series because I need not spoil the story for anyone. What it reminds me of, and this is part of my daily reminder, that each of us needs to develop our own understanding that we are not God, and we are not infallible. And if we were omnipotent in the first place, we would not be alcoholics with a killer malady. Does it need to be any more than that? I do believe it’s up to the individual what they believe in. All I know is I'm very happy to have people in my life who have superior knowledge and experience. Sharing as they do in meetings of the fellowship and in family and in my community...
In my videos, January all about step one, and powerless over alcohol, and if I drink again life will get unmanageable. And part of step one is recognising that all I need to do is be sober today. And then with step two, came to believe that a power greater than me would restore me to sanity was a big ask, because the word God seemed to be shared quite a lot, and with all the people in the meetings, although they talked about God, there was not much common ground about what God represents, what God is and if anyone got into a debate about it, it all went to pieces. So the God bit has no consensus in terms of definition, and this is quite right because 7 billion people on the planet will not agree about God. Apart from one obvious fact, no single person is God on the planet, and it is unlikely that there will be a definition of God which all will believe in today. So I am happy that I am not God, and you are not God, at the same time, the collective conscience to the good of life is shared as best we can across this globe one day at a time… In other words, listen to people who share experience, strength and hope of their recovery, listen to the many voices of recovery and follow the path of sobriety as you develop it. Today!
If you are agreeable to the notion that you could not stop drinking on your own, and no matter what you do, you don't seem able to stop once you start, it is a pretty mad situation. Insanity, of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result by drinking, drugging or addictive behaviour, it is truly mad. And the madness turns into blame, and the madness turns into isolation and covering up. And the madness is that although we may feel completely out of control, our thinking is so disruptive that we quell our madness with addiction! So if we have got stuck in this madness, and it has happened for thousands of years, most of society will write us off and throw us on the scrap heap, disown us and be despairing. And worse, usually those of us who have been trapped by addiction write ourselves off, hide away from life and the people who might still love us and then we die, sometimes quickly sometimes slowly and it is desolate…
Every day, we are faced with the conundrum of what to do and what is happening. Sometimes life remains busy and we are confronted with so many different pressures and stresses that we don't know how to cope. And the immediate solution for alcoholic is always in a bottle when it gets too tough and unmanageable. Fellowship, empowers freedom of choice again, with a desire to stop drinking and a desire to help others, we start to develop a new outlook and start doing new things which keep us sober today. And if we are able, we start to understand that life is lived in the moment, and no matter what happens, most of the time we can cope, and if we cannot cope, we can ask for help today…
Sanity is contingent on the day I ask. Today has been interesting so far, overnight watching the entire series of "House of Cards" with all the machinations about power, money and corruption and blind ambition, I really enjoyed it. Reminded me of the old life. And a particular incident in one of the episodes, reminded me of my life and the torment I faced in a past career. Powerful and evocative of how I could not cope with myself, and yet I could cope with the outside world, until… Anyway, it was a salutary reminder of past times, and a breakdown, that I thought could not happen to me, because I knew better. Of course if we burn out and don't realise it, we keep on going on fumes until the breaking point. Burnt out! The only reason I did not give up completely is the impact it would have on my mother and family. There was no other reason to live. Today is completely different, sober one day at a time, the spiritual principles of truth, love and wisdom work for me, the truth, love and wisdom which is available around me every day. Contingent on me asking for help. One day at a time…
Alcoholics Anonymous | February 13 2012 | AA 12 Steps In Action | Step 2 "Sanity" |Today's AA daily reflection: "we cannot think our way sober." For me it is the difference between thinking and knowing versus actually doing and living sober. I read the books, thought I knew it all and I don't, and waited. I needed to wait for life experiences which meant I could see my old behaviour and my need to change my behaviour as the steps and traditions could be utilised in real life… It was not long before I could see how each step and tradition helped me with my feelings and actions on a daily basis…
Clearly the school of hard knocks and the University of life provides every experience to test and challenge how we can keep sober and live the steps and traditions in our lives. Never perfect, simply progress today and the joy of understanding what my feelings are, rather than thinking what they ought to be was a revelation almost from day one. My first feeling, not pushed away by alcohol was almost paralysing, it was fear. And with the passing of each anxiety state, the fear kept on diminishing to fit reality.
It seemed like I had put the cart before the horse, my thinking had been a fantasy of what I ought to be able to do. As my feelings and emotions started to settle down, I realised if I knew how I was feeling on a daily basis and in the moment, my thinking would be the right size for the day and that moment. Then my actions were more in keeping with the reality of what is happening and not trying to think of myself bigger or smaller than the problems and solutions on that day…
And now, I realise just as I did not think my way into being an alcoholic, it is not thinking which comes first in keeping sober. Knowing how I feel, will always show me the way. Extremes of emotion which do not fit with reality will always lead to overthinking the situation and the actions being extreme and will not help me cope with reality as it is. I really didn't understand my feelings and emotions because I was only half complete. I now know that I can feel anything dependent on my spiritual condition. And as described by an archbishop and probably many other religious and secular "emotional and intellectual scholars," "spiritual living is the ability to cope with what is going on now."
This does not mean we abandon our thinking completely or ignore what we have learned over the years. We need to put the horse before the cart, know our emotional state and how it impacts on our thinking or we keep on doing the same old things expecting a different result which is Einstein's definition of insanity…
"Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity"
"Even the most brilliant mind is no defence against the disease of alcoholism. I can’t think my way sober." As Bill Sees it
Two meetings, lunchtime at the "hut" for spiritual experiences and traditions. Wonderful chair, all about reality. We can live reality today without the need to take the edge off. Gifts in recovery, getting to know ourselves and those we love. Sometimes just in time, we realise just how much we care for family and make amends before it is too late.
And then "after nines" at Eaton square, all about later sobriety. The good news in later sobriety is to live the days and not rely on years, that we still get into scrapes, fall into holes, bits may drop off us! Same as everyone who keeps on living. And always newcomers looked after in this meeting in a caring way, and similarities and not differences emphasised all the way...
AA Daily: WE CAN'T THINK OUR WAY SOBER ~ FEBRUARY 13 To the intellectually self-sufficient man or woman, many A.A.’s can say, “Yes, we were like you-far too smart for our own good…. Secretly, we felt we could float above the rest of the folks on our brain power alone.” AS BILL SEES IT, p. 60
Even the most brilliant mind is no defence against the disease of alcoholism. I can’t think my way sober. I try to remember that intelligence is a God-given attribute that I may use, a joy-like having a talent for dancing or drawing or carpentry. It does not make me better than anyone else, and it is not a particularly reliable tool for recovery, for it is a power greater than myself who will restore me to sanity-not a high IQ or a college degree.
Step Two Video 12 And 12
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,