Destiny

My history is not my destiny. ~ Anon

Step #10 offers us a way out of the past. It gives us a fresh new day every day to do things over. We get to experience life on life’s terms, and to learn new and better ways of acting on not reacting to life. In the past, I had the victim role down pat. You know: Poor me! Poor me! Pour me another. As if the universe laid awake all night trying to figure out ways to make me miserable. As if it were me and my kids against the world. I had led a life that supported this thinking. I had taught those around me that I was helpless and hopeless. I remember a time when my mom told me that she prayed for me and my lost soul every day. My response was, “Keep praying!” “Pray harder!” I don’t feel that way anymore. I don’t feel lost at all.

Step #10 is my prayer…my active response to life. My sanity step that gets me out of self, helps me see the patterns that bound me, and gives me a big do over on life….a reset…. a fresh start every single day. Step #10 is like fixing a leaky faucet, so that there is no flooded kitchen in the morning. That drip drip drip doesn’t not have to keep me awake nights fretting, fearing, and dreading the day ahead. I can look people in the eyes today knowing I owe no one, I have not harmed any being, and I am on an equal par with all others I share this old world with. What a gift step #10 is for all of us who choose to use it. Our history is not our destiny. We create our destiny day by day by living well, being well, and treating others well. What a gift that is.

Neutrality

How can AA sit by and say nothing about the many social evils which seem to go unchecked in the world? ~ Anon

The key word in Tradition #10 is neutrality. We stay in our own lane = alcoholism and sobriety because we are uniquely qualified in just that. Nothing more and nothing less. When we are tempted to bring our political, religious, or any other special interest into the mix, we need to stop and think: Does this keep me and others sober? Is this improving upon the silence? How important is this when it comes to offering the new person the solution to sobriety? Emotional and spiritual sobriety means acceptance of life on life’s terms. Nothing less and nothing more. Does this mean we must be in sheep-like agreement and not have a passions in life? No. We are welcome to our opinions and our feelings. They just do not belong in an AA meeting. Goodness knows, I sure have them!

Here is how tradition #10 worked for us at a recent business meeting. We are coming up on elections, and as always there are openings but not many applicants banging at our door to be of service. This drives me bonkers. But, somehow people end up stepping up for service every single time. The process changes each year, as the people making decisions are different each year. It is much like herding kittens…..they are all over the place and each going its own way. Staying in neutral, not having a vested interest in the outcomes, and staying calm helped a lot. Staying on topic when others less experienced kept drifting off topic also helped. We got a lot done. We came to a consensus about how to proceed, and everyone’s voice was heard. Our personal beliefs, feelings, and political stances would have kept us apart. We need neutrality so that we can remain united in the interest of our sobriety. Stay calm. Stay in your lane. Enjoy neutrality.

Perserverance

LEST WE BECOME COMPLACENT. It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do, for alcohol is a subtle foe.

~ AA BigBook

The key word for Step #10 is Perserverance which is the steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement. Step #10 is a daily 4th step. Daily being the key word in that phrase. I like to do mine first thing in the morning. That is when I have more energy, I have had a chance to sleep on it, and I have given things a few hours to allow for a better perspective. I call this my G.O.D. time. Others do theirs at night. Still others do this mentally and throughout the day. I have to write it down. It is more tangible and real for me when it is in black and white. I don’t care when it is done, but I do encourage that it be done daily. I know when I have not done this, plus the steps 11 and 12 first thing in the morning, I get to about 10 AM, and I cannot think straight, and I lash out at others for no reason.

Step #10 offers us the Freedom from complacency.  I believe that it is imperative to remain active, alert and on top of this dis-ease to maintain sobriety. Sobriety is a whole lot more than just putting the plug in the jug. It is about spiritual, mental and physical health and balance. The minute we start thinking that we have this thing licked, that we are just F.I.N.E., or we know how to do this without all that reading, writing, etc.; we are flirting with the dis-ease. I have seen my share of old timers who abuse food, gambling, spending, coffee, cigarettes, pills, relationships, etc. This dis-ease is dead serious. It will take many forms. It will wait for a weak moment and then attack. There is so much more to learn. There is so much out there to experience. Stay active. Heads up. Embrace action.

 

The Spirit of Traditions

Never since it has began, has Alcoholics Anonymous been divided by a major controversial issue. ~ AA 12 X 12.

Admittedly, I am one of those who would groan audibly whenever there was a traditions study at my home meeting. Oh my gosh, can we just get into the steps? What on earth is this for? Why do we have to keep talking about this stuff? OH MY GOSH!! I can laugh at myself now. I was an angry, stubborn young girl. The traditions represented the rules, the adults in the room, and the restrictions on my personal sharing. Heaven forbid, I be confronted with any such thing. It took the loving confrontation and gentle persuasion of others to teach me the benefits of following the traditions.

What I have come to appreciate is that the traditions kept me from being kicked out of AA.  The spirit of the traditions led the old timers to respect me and my feelings, but kept the traditions alive in the off chance that I would finally get what they were trying to teach me. I sure appreciate that they did what they did. Ironically, I am now one of those old timers that insist that the traditions be followed. What goes around, comes around.

Here are a couple more questions on Tradtion #10 to consider: 

6. Do I breach this or any of its supporting Traditions in subtle, perhaps unconscious,
ways?
7. How can I manifest the spirit of this Tradition in my personal life outside AA? Inside AA? Let me know what you discover.

More on Tradition #10

When we are first getting sober or even trying to get sober, chances are we have tried it all: clinics, shrinks, drugs, medical community, hospitals, rehab, Antabuse, etc. We have become experts at feeling like failures, and morally bankrupt souls. We know the bottom. We are no longer afraid of hell; as we have lived through that here on earth. It is not as if any of these are wrong or bad. It is that they are not AA. AA is uniquely gifted and qualified at helping millions of people get and stay sober. It cannot be duplicated. Even though most clinics, hospitals, and rehabs use the steps, and talk the talk, they are not AA. They are medical facilities. They are good at housing people and providing medical supervision during the detoxing and withdrawal period. But, they are not AA. For the long haul and for long term sobriety, the suffering alcoholic will need the AA community. We follow the traditions in order to keep AA alive and there for the suffering alcoholics who have no where else to go.

Here are a few more Tradition #10 questions:

3. What in AA history gave rise to our Tenth Tradition?
4. Have I had a similar experience in my own AA life?
5. What would AA be without this Tradition? Where would I be?

Take some time to learn about our AA history. If we do not learn from the past; we are doomed to repeat it. Keep AA healthy for the future and insist that the traditions be studied and followed at the local level.

Thoughts on Tradition #10

Tradition Ten: Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside

issues; hence the AA name ought never be drawn into public controversy. ~ AA 12 X 12

Tradition #10 was a tough one for me to wrap my head around. I struggled to dismiss my education and training in the helping profession and just be one of the members; not the fixer in the groups. Or AA as a whole. After all, I was over qualified, right? I knew best, right? I struggled. I can tell you that. Until one day, I was told (a bit abruptly, I might add) to pretend as if I knew nothing; to put the cotton in my ears in my mouth and listen. Wow. Just wow. I had hurt feelings for a long time. But I realized then and now that truth hurts. If I wanted what they had; I needed to do what they did. Dang. How simple is that?  The traditions are the glue that binds us. We keep outside opinions out of the deal, so that we can focus on being sober and helping others get sober. In today’s lingo, it is called “staying in our own lane.” We are “experts” at only one thing only: Alcoholics Anonymous. That is it.

Here are some questions for your consideration: 
1. Do I ever give the impression that there really is an “AA opinion” on Antabuse?
Tranquilizers? Doctors? Psychiatrists? Churches? Hospitals? Jails? Alcohol? The
federal or state government? Legalizing marijuana? Vitamins? Al-Anon? Alateen?
2. Can I honestly share my own personal experience concerning any of those without
giving the impression I am stating the “AA opinion”?

We will do more tomorrow. Take care. Be kind and gentle. Enjoy the process.

Stumbling Blocks

The purpose of Step #10 is to identify and remove from our path

today’s stumbling blocks. ~ Anon

I call Step #10 my sanity step. Each day, I get a clean slate and a fresh start. I love it. I never understood, or maybe I just never wanted to understand that there was a way out of the insanity I called life. I just thought misery was what life was all about. I came by that naturally with an alcoholic father and a mom who was the uncrowned martyr mother of the year.  I don’t blame them. They did the best they could with what they had. They never had the opportunity to recover and even know this program existed. I got lucky. Some kind people (I call angels) came into my life from time to time to deliver the message of recovery. I got lucky with the wonderful sponsors I was given who directed me toward the daily exercises; that to this day I practice.  Who encouraged me to look at my part, keep my side of the street cleaned off, see the patterns, recognize and remove the stumbling blocks, and to stop living as if life is a burden to be bear.

Thank goodness and G.O.D. that I have AA. I have some solutions some of the times. Before doing a daily Step #10-11-12 daily; my life was a series of catastrophes of my own making. I would let the little stuff simmer until they were unmanageable by me, so when the big stuff happened, there I would be with boiling over emotions and feelings; and  paralyzed to do anything about it. With a daily Step #10-12, I have a solutions. I get to look at things logically, hand them over and go about my new day unburdened and unfettered by any unresolved problems. When I get stuck, I ask for guidance. It helps to filter things through my sponsor like I did today. For all of this, I will be eternally grateful. I hope you find your path leading toward a daily Step #10-12. Keep reading pages 84-88 in the Big Book daily. The solutions are at hand.

 

What Condition My Condition is In

That is how we react so long as we are in fit spiritual condition. 

~ pg. 85 Big Book

This last promise in Step #10 is a segue into Steps #11 and 12, which is a daily and continual renewal of what we have been given in AA, that is a new way of living; of acting and reacting to life on life’s terms. One might wonder what the heck a spiritual condition is. Most folks are just relieved that the cops aren’t hounding them anymore, that they feel so much better, and that the family is not on their case so much. They are in survival mode, much like the patients in the emergency room. Last night some young pup was crowing about doing steps 4, 5, 6, and 7 in one day! I had to laugh at him. I know; not too polite. After I gathered myself, I explained that we did not get here yesterday. It took many years of dysfunctional living to get us here….it will take a lot longer than one day to recover.

What is the rush, I wonder. Lighten up on the coffee. Slow down and smell the roses. Breathe! I know when I am more fit spiritually is when I am out of the head, and into the heart of the matter. Gardening helps me. Being in nature helps me. Others say meditation and prayer help them. Still others, thrive in service to others. Thinking less of self and more of others. Being in the moment and not dwelling in past or future. Doing more listening than talking. Embracing life and those around us as being exactly as they are supposed to be. Waking up with the thought “Good morning, G.O.D.”; not “Good gawd, it’s morning!”. These are all signs that the spirit is well and fine. It is a process not a race. If it were a race, it would be a marathon; not a sprint. So, pace yourself for the long haul.

Being Cocky

We are not cocky, not are we afraid. That is our experience.

~ pg. 85, Big Book  

We cannot afford to be cocky. Most new folks in AA are a bit put off by our humor. We do seem to be silly and frivolous at first look. However, our humor is measured. We are not a glum lot, but we take this dis-ease quite seriously. We know that no matter how long we have been sober, we are just one drink away from exactly where we left off when we put the plug in the jug. Alcoholism is cunning, baffling and powerful. I add: and very patient! While we are busy going to meetings, giving service, and working with others; the dis-ease is out in the hallway doing one armed push ups. It is just waiting for that one weak moment, that first wrong thought to catch us at our most vulnerable state. We are dead serious about that fact!

Step #10 offers us a way to keep the small stuff from becoming the big stuff that will trip us up, and make us feel overwhelmed. It keeps our side of the street clean, and when practiced with steps #11 and #12, it is a sure fire way to keep our spiritual fitness honed and ready for tough times. What a gift we have in AA. All we have to do is work it each day in every affair, stay sober, and stay alive. That is not too much to ask of us, is it? The rewards we will reap will certainly outweigh any work required. I like to do Steps 10-12 daily. I will walk you through that in the days to come. Meantime, read pages 84-88 in the Big Book daily until the fear abates. You can do this thing. Be well, my friend.

Swearing Off

We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed.

It does not exist for us. ~ Pg. 85, Big Book 

I often wonder what the average number of times per alcoholic that we tried swearing off booze before we finally surrendered and asked for help. That would be an interesting study. We all think our personal experience is so unique. That the alcohol problem is worse for us, and that sobriety took way longer than anyone in history! Remember the mole hill into mountain analogy I mentioned? Well, this a prime example of that. Shrinks call this “catastrophizing.” I call it being a human with an addictive brain. From time to time, some problem will present itself in my life, where I will think it to death. I will lay there, tossing and turning to try to solve it. I cannot even tell you how many good night sleeps I have wasted on trivia. And, for naught.

Life is so much better now. But from time to time, I must go through the process of letting go and mourning my losses (deny, get angry, bargain, etc.) until I get to acceptance. One thing I do is write to G.O.D. every day. That seems to keep things at bay. I will write down things that trouble me, put them in a sealed envelop and not open until 6 months later. Some folks will shred the paper, throw it in a river, or burn it. Others use G.O.D. cans.  I had one sponsor who kindly asked me from time to time, “do you have a loving and merciful G.O.D. in your life?” That seemed to pull me down off the wall. In Step #10, we are asked to act ourselves into right thinking. We are taught that G.O.D. can and will lift and carry our burdens in life. Isn’t it great that we no longer have to do this alone? What a gift we have in AA. What a deal. Here is a simple prayer when someone or something is troubling you: Please, G.O.D., life and carry so and so. Say it until you believe it. Act as if.