Fears & Feelings

In AA, we discover that humility is simply an awareness of who we are and a willingness to become all that we can be. ~ AA Literature

The feelings and fears I talked about yesterday are really the ties that bind us to the past and to our old self-defeating behaviors. We will always have feelings and fears. That makes us uniquely human. I like to write each day, “I am imperfect, but perfectly human.” I need to remind myself of this every day. The good news is that in AA, we learn a new way (or many new ways) of acting and reacting to life. We are no longer merely victims of circumstances. We are actors in our own stage productions. We set the stage. We provide the props. We decide who to act with, what our lines will be, and then pretty much ad lib it from there.

When we experience a feeling or fear, we can stop, and call to discuss with another sober alcoholic. They can help us logically come up with a few realistic options and practice scenarios. We do not have to dwell on things anymore. We can act decisively. If it is a real poser, then certainly pray on it and wait 24 hours. The solutions will come. That is part of the promises. In our daily 10-11-12 step process, we can do a thorough inventory to help us sort out what happened, who did what, our part, our fears/feelings, and then consider any amends we may owe. Practiced daily, this becomes second nature. I promise. Take care. I will see you tomorrow, where we will delve into Step and Tradition #11. I can’t wait!

Root of All

Most of us find that fear is at the root of many of our

damaging emotions and actions.

~ 12 Step Literature

You know when I first got here, I had one emotion = rage. Deep, seething, and gonna do someone great physical harm kind of rage. Scary rage. I knew I was powerless over that rage. It was the only emotion allowed where I came from. Fear, sadness, envy, hurt, silliness, etc. were considered weaknesses. We were discouraged from showing any kind of weakness, lest we were taunted or shamed before all for being “too sensitive”. It took strong sponsorship and G.O.D. = good orderly direction to get me involved in learning about a whole spectrum of feelings I never knew existed. It was an exciting experience. I was given assignments that allowed for safe expression of these feelings.

What I learned that was of great benefit was that feelings and fears are just feelings and fears. They do not and cannot control me. I learned that everyone has these. I am not unique in that. I also learned that most fear is at the bottom of anger, jealousy, envy, hurt, shyness, anxiety, etc. They are just expressions of fear. So, when I see myself or others expressing self-defeating behaviors, I think: they must be afraid. I no longer have to fear their rage. So, when you are doing your daily inventory, ask yourself: have I been angry, hurt, jealous or fearful today? How did I express these feelings?

 

Swallowing Pride

Swallowing your pride is better than eating your words. ~ Anon

I tell you that one hit me right in the face today. This year and all of next year, I am involved in the running of two 12 step conventions. I have off and on over my years done just about every position on convention planning boards and committees. Each year, I try to do something of value for each of the two programs I am a member of. That keeps me busy. When my hands and mouth are busy doing productive things in service to others, I find that I have no energy left to get in trouble with those around me. Yes, even after all these years, I need to have G.O.D. = Good Orderly Direction. I get in trouble with unscheduled idle time. I enjoy resting and relaxing, but then after a few hours, I get antsy.

I appreciate that there is plenty of work to be done in the 12 step program. I feel needed and I feel productive. But, I do have to watch that I do not get too prideful in my work. I also have to guard against feeling as if that service position is my career or my job. My personality can get way too enmeshed in the title, the responsibility and the outcomes of my service work. So, working with others on a committee or a board stretches me. I get to learn how to take criticisms, let others take the lead, and most importantly teach others how to do the work I am doing.  The concept that we share responsibility in the work of AA is so important. It does my heart good to see those who are new in the program get up, go greet the newcomers, give out their contact number, and and offer to be of help. Let’s keep AA alive and well for the still suffering alcoholic. If you are not sure what to do, ask.

Controlling Others

By trying tho control others through manipulation and direct force, we have hurt loved ones. When we tried to control ourselves, we wound up demoralized. Even when we succeeded, it wasn’t enough to make us happy. ~ 12 Step Literature

If we have accepted in Step #1, that we are powerless over our own lives and behaviors; then this Step #10 stuff should be a no-brainer. Step #10 encourages us to keep our own side of the street clean. I don’t know about you, but I have no time for other people’s responsibilities, lives, actions and attitudes. I have a full time job just dealing with my own. It is none of my business what others think of me, and conversely, it is none of their business what I think of them.

One of my old time drinking buddies told me recently of some complete stranger totally flipping her off and upsetting her over some minor traffic snafu. I had to chuckle. I did not respond, as she really does not want the solution. She prefers a life as a drunk and a grump. Life is all full trouble and not pleasant under the best of situations. Being a victim is her choice. I know all this because I used to feel the same way. Everyone I ran into and everywhere I went, life caused me pain. Life was unfair. And, I was the victim of a myriad of circumstances. I thank goodness, AA hauled me out of that black hole of depression. For today, I have a solution to most of what life has to offer. Here is to another day just like to today: sane and sober. I hope the same for you.

 

I Will be Happy

Just for today, I will be happy This assumes to be true what Abraham Lincoln said, “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”  ~ 12 Step Literature

My life is topsy turvy this week. I am working most days by 6 AM, and there is no WiFi there. So, you get my evening thoughts. Hopefully, they will make sense. Today, I decided that I can be as happy as I make up my mind to be. I had the opportunity to work with a few people who have made other decisions. I learn from working with others how good I have it. I am no better than they are. But with sobriety, I have been a better class of problems. I do not have to worry about being found out in secret drinking. I am not worried if a I see a cop following me. I no longer feel as if the world is handing me a raw deal or plotting to make me miserable.

Today’s problems are more like unsafe drivers, tailgaters, cat puke on the floor, my favorite TV program being preempted by news or weather warnings. Electricity going out during storms, etc. These are pretty doable and manageable. Right? Thank goodness for sobriety and AA. Life is good if we will have it. We “can have peace if we will have it,” ~John Lennon. I hope that you all find some peace and happiness today. Practice being happy. It beats the alternative. My worst day sober is still much better than my best days drunk. Breathe peace.

Key Aspect of Recovery

The 10th step begins with the word ‘continued’, our first clue that perserverance is about to become a key aspect of our recovery program. ~ 12 Step Literature

I thank goodness every day that I am a stubborn woman. Stubbornness used for good purposes is called perseverance. I will not give up once I start something. I refuse to let go of the way I work this program. I stubbornly put AA first in my life. I continue to do the same things that have kept me sober over 30 years because they work. I adamantly stand for the traditions in my meetings. I stubbornly insist that I will not let persons or personalities run me out of AA. I must of I will die.

Today, I had the honor to work with a new person. What I heard was, “Yeah, I am willing, but but but but”. The “yeah buts” are what stand in the way of recovery. They are the excuses, the interferences, and the reasons why we plan to fail. Believe me when I say, I have heard it all, seen it all, and done it all. My stubbornness almost cost me my life, my sanity, and my livelihood. So, if you find yourself saying you are such a stubborn person, consider turning that defect into an asset. Reframe your statement: I am absolutely persistent enough to recover. Or: My perseverance is finely tuned. It works when you work it; and you are worth it.

 

Freedoms

Taint worthwhile to wear a day all out before it comes.

~ Sarah Orne Jewett

There are many benefits of Step #10. We no longer have to rue the day. We don’t have to wake up thinking, “Oh, no! Now what will I have to face?” We do not have to worry about running into that guy we owe, the banker, or the creditor. We do not have to screen calls. We do not have to dodge the ex or the relatives for fear we will be accused of things we do not even remember doing. And, the biggest one is that we no longer have to run around saying “I’m sorry!” without really meaning it. After all, we were only sorry we got caught or we had to face the accuser. If we were really sorry, we would have stopped doing the same thing over and over again; like drinking.

AA offers us a whole new life; a life of freedom, joy, choice, and peace. Why would anyone want anything less or more? When we treat others as if they have the right to the same things, those things are afforded to us. It’s called Karma, baby! We get that which we give. It’s called natural consequences. I do not believe in hell because I know most of us have already been there here on earth. It was a hell of our own making. The hell of alcoholism kept us imprisoned and burdened with regret, remorse, and pain day in and day out. We now can look people in the eye, and know we are equal in all senses. What a gift we have in AA. Let’s keep this thing AA alive and well for the millions of drunks who have yet to find us, but will surely need us one day.