I found out yesterday that two fellow alcoholics (people I care about and who want recovery,) are being sponsored by someone considered to be a “fellowshipaholic”. In other words, he’s not in the program for recovery, he’s hanging around because he would otherwise be lonely. I have never heard him share from the book. He shares gleefully about defying his own sponsor. Let me state without hesitation that judging others is something I struggle with and a character defect that can shut me off from my higher power in a heartbeat. When I heard that this man was sponsoring others I was more sad than angry. It took every bit of self restraint I could muster not to play God here, as I am so wont to do. See, the source was none other than one of the sponsees themselves. My mind went to the recurring suggestion that has been put in front of me so recently: let God be God. I asked if the man had been taking them through the work. The answer was as I expected; no, they meet for meals, shoot the breeze and in rare instances talk on the phone. One of the sponsees is newly sober. This is none of my business, right? No action to take. No hand has reached out to me. I think the serenity prayer is in order here. It wouldn’t hurt to run it by my sponsor, see if she thinks action is necessary. I sure would hate to see that guy drink because his program of recovery consists of what the fortune cookie said after the buffet dinner.
I have been devouring another recovery blogsite, Daily Reprieve. The author and I seem to have much in common; former military service, multiple trips through the steps, alternative lifestyles (former, in my case, but the experience is ingrained.) He posted this on September 2, 2009.
I finished my 4th and 5th steps this weekend. I also accomplished the 6th and 7th steps. Now to the amends list for 8 and 9, to face my regretments.
The stranglehold that my fears had on me, particularly with the military, have been amazingly removed and replaced with a resolute serenity to reconnect in the way I finish my service to this country. Is this for real? Or have I just hyped myself up somehow? I don’t think so. This does not feel like the manic-depressive roller coaster ride. I could be wrong, but I don’t think so. Something is doing for me what I could not do for myself.
I must invest this relief in the lives of others, or it will vanish from my own. I know this. I am grateful today.
By the way, on Sunday, I dropped off that resentment marble I spoke of in the previous entry.
I had dreams about the military long after I believed I had let got of my “regretments”. Was I fooling myself that I had let go of them? Perhaps. I have never held to the belief that dreams hold some secret key to our psyche, but I do feel free today of the emotional bonds that kept I myself in over my military service. I have not had one of ~those~ dreams in some time, and it has been even longer since one of the once ubiquitous high school dreams found their way into my sleep. Regret, I think, is a wasted emotion, and yet I have squandered a great deal of emotional energy grieving past actions. Having come into AA an atheist, I still have little concern for how it all began or what will happen when I am gone, but “What if?” still has a tendency to preoccupy my monkey mind.
My fears no longer have the ’stranglehold’ on me that they once had, they no longer motivate me, but they are ever-present. I must hold constant vigil. Replacing them with faith takes constant practice. Will this ever become second nature?
I have been told this twice in just over one week: Let God be God. The two people who said this to me could not be less connected with each other, in fact one of them told me to stay away from the other. One of them told me from a spiritual high ground. The other told me this because I have a tendency to play God. That having been said, it is exactly what I needed to hear. I need to relax and take it easy. I went to an AA function yesterday and saw an Alanon friend I haven’t seen in awhile (yes I dabble there too. My dis-ease takes all shapes and forms.) She asked me what I’ve been up to. “Running the show,” I said. I suspect she thought I was joking. I couldn’t have been more serious. A dear, wonderful friend of mine has a terrific sponsor whom I’ve known since the first days of my sobriety in 2001 (we’ll call it the first incarnation of my sobriety.) She tells my friend “when in doubt, do nothing.” What a tall order, but exactly what I must do. I must let God be God. I must do what is in front of me but aside from that I must do nothing. We shall see how that works for me.
We should remember that all A.A.’s have “clay feet.” We should not
set any member upon a pedestal and mark her or him out as a perfect
A.A. Its not fair to the person to be singled out in this fashion and if
the person is wise she or he will not wish it. If the person we single
out as an ideal A.A. has a fall, we are in danger of falling, too. Without
exception, we are all only one drink away from a drunk, no matter how
long we have been in A.A. Nobody is entirely safe. A.A. itself should
be our ideal, not any particular member of it. Am I putting my trust in
A.A. principles and not in any one member of the group?
Reprinted without permission from Hazelden’s “24 Hours a Day”
I went to a meeting tonight for some recovery and landed in a birthday meeting. A gal with 3 years was singled out, the whole meeting was about her ‘achievement’. Hooray for her, awesome, well done. I’m not sure when this group officially celebrates birthdays, perhaps that’s how they do it, maybe I should find out. I am not fond of birthday meetings which aren’t identified as such on the schedule or group bulletin board. Nor do I care for the entire meeting becoming about the newcomer who has identified themselves as such. Pass around a phone list and greet the newcomer at the end of the meeting. Take a few minutes out of your tv time to shove your opinions in their faces after we’ve had our cross-talk free meeting. Am I being overly rigid to look forward to serenity in a meeting?
It was, by and large, the responsibility of the chairperson to conduct the meeting in an orderly fashion. The same man chairs this meeting every week, same bat time, same bat channel, and I invariably leave feeling bereft of fulfillment. So this is about me, not the meeting or the chairperson or the gal with 3 years. It’s about my expectations, once again, and the fact that they directly relate to my disappointments. Hello, square one…
I often tap things into my iPod, during meetings, when I listen to speakers, etc.
I had no idea until quite recently that the program of Alcoholics Anonymous was based on the biblical book of James. Early AA’s would go into hospitals and present the book to suffering alcoholics. Upon further research I have found that our fundamentals also come from 1 Corinthians 13 and also Emmet Fox’s work “The Sermon on the Mount”. These were our ‘literature’ before our Big Book existed.
Fox’s secretary was the mother of a man who worked closely with Bill W. It was partly because of this connection that early AA groups went to hear Fox and also why his writing subsequently became so popular in AA.
The following notes are from Father Meletios Webber’s “The 12 Steps of Transformation.” Fr. Webber is an Eastern Orthodox Priest who is himself in recovery. I paraphrase wildly:
Yes, but means no. Everything I say after “but” negates what I said before. “I love you, but you make me angry” means only “you make me angry.”
Spiritually speaking, the most valuable thing a person can do is admit their brokenness. (Step One.)
We can tie God’s hands. (To me, this means I can pray that God show me his will but I will get in his way regardless. I put up the roadblocks. Where is God? Why isn’t he helping me? But all the while I am playing God.)
Step 1-I Can’t Step 2-You Can Step 3-Please Do
Moral=Honest (Step 4)
There is only one prayer to begin–Thy will be done
*A favorite* There are 3 criteria for talking: That it be TRUE, That it be NECESSARY, and That it be KIND
When I have spoken unkindly, my heart was not in front of my mouth.
On the subject of ego: The ego doesn’t actually exist. It’s just a collection of thoughts titled “Yes but what about me?” “How the world has let me down.”
Heard in meetings:
Pride keeps me sick.
Am I important enough for this power to care about. (Good for me to hear, as I suffer from low self-esteem.)
We fail forward. (I use this often with my sponsees.)
I didn’t come to AA because I saw the light, I came because I felt the heat. (not necessarily the law!)
Defenses of character (They are like our armor, aren’t they?)
I must turn over my knowledge of right and wrong to God. (What a tall order!)
If someone tells me something I’ll forget it, if someone shows me something I’ll remember it, if someone involves me in something I’ll understand it. (I have since learned that this is a Chinese proverb, and my experience shows this to be true.)
Fear is a dark room where negatives are developed. (Heard on a Searcy W. speaker tape.)
I conditionalize my happiness. This is because of my lack of acceptance. (Not me!)
Jump into the lap of God. (Yeah baby!)
Robbing people of their emotional sobriety. (Causing them worry, etc. I am an expert at this.)
The 12 steps are terms of surrender. They smash my ego. (But it rebuilds itself, that’s why I never stop working them.)
When I lay down at night and I go to sleep fairly fast I am doing well. (Relative.)
If the quality of your life diminishes faster than you can lower your morals, you might be an alcoholic!
Giving rather than getting will become the guiding principle. p.128 (I wrote this down because I can be such a GETTER!)
To maintain one’s character is easier than to rebuild it. I don’t say that from experience, they are someone’s wise words, someone I cannot give proper credit to for lack of good memory. I do not have the experience because I cannot say I have ever had good character to maintain. I have spent 41 years tearing down my character. It’s time to go about building it before there is something to maintain. Perhaps I had character as a child, perhaps it is something we are all born with. Does innocence equal character? Do we begin to then tear this quality to pieces or, conversely, build upon it as we become adults and either give in to the influence of maturity or stand up for what is right, do what is honorable?
What I do know is this: I have been handed a kit of spiritual tools and I have been given instructions. I know how to use the tools and who to go to for help. It is up to me to take the action necessary to become spiritually fit, to build this character, to do what is honorable. No amount of writing about this process is any substitute for action. I must surrender myself to God (action,) get to causes and conditions (action,) humbly ask him to remove all these defects of character (action,) clean up my side of the street (more action,) and continue to take these steps in my daily life (still more action.) I must go to Him every day for guidance and I must share my experience with others.
No, I’m not flying high on a spiritual bubble right now but I have had a spiritual awakening, even as a result of the painful experience of the last couple of days (self induced, oh yes.) Growth for me is never in the form of comfort. Oh, if only it were. Doors have closed. What’s behind the ones waiting to open? Only He knows. Let me put away my expectations and not conditionalize my happiness for once. For once. Just once.