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.

Anger toward Dis-ease

Alcoholism is cunning, baffling, and powerful. ~ Big Book

I would say that all addictions are cunning, baffling and powerful and extremely patient. Today, I am full on angry at this dis-ease that kills, destroys families, maims and harms those effected, and shows no misery whatsoever. Dang it all. Yet another family member is dying as a result of this dis-ease. He is my age. Heavens, I am just getting started. He had a whole life ahead if he had chosen differently. And, I am powerless over him, his choices, his dis-ease, and his consequences/early death. I want to be more powerful. I want the whole world to know that no good will come of harming one’s body with toxic chemicals. The answers to life’s problems are not in the bottom of a brown bag or brown bottle. That there is more to life than getting high or blitzed. That their lives and those of their loved ones matter more than a brief buzz.

I am powerless over all people, places, and things. The best I can do is express my sadness for his pain and stay sober. I can be the sober family member through this death too. It is not my business how others express their sorrow and grief. Whether they choose to be drunk or get high through this pain, is not my concern. I can be as angry as I want toward this dis-ease, but I do not have to express it in front of family members. I have a sponsor who will and can listen lovingly and direct me toward literature, etc. that will give death meaning and peace. So long as we live, we will have loss. It is our choice how will deal with this loss. Choose wisely.

A Symptom

I have a dis-ease of selfishness, and alcoholism is a symptom. ~ Anon

The very first recollection I have of when alcohol was a problem in my life was at a very young age. Perhaps you can relate.  My notion was that I would not get my fair share, which of course was the lion’s share of whatever was being served. I never drank to sate a thirst. I drank to get blitzed; to be removed of my reality. 1,000 was never enough, and one was too many, of anything.  Some call this black and white thinking…all or nothing. I know, for me that thinking infected my whole life.

In step #8 we are encouraged to pull back to veil of denial and investigate how we were selfish and self-centered in all of our relationships. This can be tricky because our inaction can be as selfish as our actions. For instance: To withhold our affections or boycott a friendship just because we are not getting what we want. To not express ourselves honestly when asked to for fear we may upset the other person. These are ways our inaction harmed others and ourselves. The AA program asks that we only change only little thing, and that is ourselves. It is a small price with some big pay-offs. Such a deal we get in AA.

Self-Love/Compassion

God, please help me see the truth about myself

no matter how beautiful! ~ anon, 2011

The secret to success in AA is in believing you are worth it, acting as if, and staying sober; so that you can appreciate this fact fully. I have said before, and I will gladly say it again: I do not respond well to criticism. I am not motivated by negative reinforcement. And, all the self knowledge in the world will not get and keep me sober. I must practice day after day, and year after year this thing called absolute love and compassion for myself and others. How can I be compassionate toward others when I beat myself up and find only fault in the mirror? I can’t.

Last night, I witnessed a conversion between a healthy member in AA and someone who does not embrace the concept of love and compassion toward self and others, yet is dry. What I heard a lot were excuses, blame and self sabotage when healthier options for living were introduced.  My questions for you are: is it enough to just be dry and drag yourself to meetings? Or is being healthy, happy, free, and truly sober a better objective? I choose the latter. So long as I treat myself like garbage, I will fee like garbage, and eventually I will say, “what the heck; I might as well be drunk.” Eat well, live well, and be well one day at a time.

Chemical Peace of Mind?

A week ago, I fell on my behind and have been pretty sore since then. I have been accused of being a pain in the butt, so this gives new meaning to that phrase! It reminds me of an old timer in the meetings who used to say, “I have given up the right to have any chemical peace of mind”. How often we are encouraged (by advertising and well meaning advisers) to ask our doctor for this or that drug to mask a physical problem.  We do not want to bear pain. We hate discomfort. We also shun simple, drug free solutions in favor of the ease and comfort of sedation. As someone with long term, chronic pain, I know the desire well.

One of the things I have learned along the way is that I cannot afford another addiction. I cannot depend on addictive substances to make my life easier or pain free. There are options out there that have worked for me. One of the best pieces of advise I got was “move it or lose it”. Exercise helps stimulate the endorphin hormones (what makes us feel good) and keeps the body in motion. Simple solutions such as ice or heat, eating well, and getting a massage, etc. will service to soothe the body.  And, it will keep us sober. Isn’t that what we are here for? Please write and let me know what your experience with dealing with pain has been like.