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?
The pain that is involved in accessing and cultivating a free mind leads to insights, enlightenment, and wisdom. Do not fear. ~ Anon
The key to freedom lies in our willingness to learn, grow, and stay open to knew ideas. Just like most of you, I was watching people in Hurricane Irma on the news all weekend. When I would get sick and tired of it, I would randomly color, get on Facebook, garden, or do puzzles. There is just so much insanity I can tolerate. Back in my drinking days, I had no boundaries. Chaos was my nectar. Pain and crisis were my everyday conditions. In sobriety, I can get pretty tired of it pretty darn fast. Here were these news people and locals out on the beaches gawking at the destruction Mother Nature was wreaking. Every now and then, the news people would say that there was a curfew in order, but there they were; out in the storm and past curfew!
Sounds crazy huh!? It is. It was just as crazy as we were once. I would drive in blinding blizzards and go out a make donuts with my car in abandoned parking lots in the middle of an snow storm. I had no fear. I had almighty alcohol tell me that I was safe. I was immortal. That I could do and say anything I wanted to, and to hell with anyone that objected. They were “cold blankets” and “party poopers”. So, I understand the minds of those who laughed at a deadly storm and mocked the warnings of authorities. In AA, we get the chance to be free. But, that freedom comes with responsibility, accountability, and consequences. We can no longer blame alcohol for our choices in life. It is all on us. Choose wisely. Stay safe and enjoy your freedom.
Bless them and heal me. ~ anon
I have learned to say this small but powerful prayer when I get angry or hurt at what someone else decides to do. I have to remember that G.O.D. has put them in my path, so that I can learn from them. Most of the time, I do not know what the lesson is until I get further down the road, and then boom: there it is! The light goes on, and I awaken some more. I will give you an example. On the road, I may be miffed or frightened (or both) by some jerk that cuts me off and nearly runs me off the road. I may get a mile or two down the road, and low and behold, I do the same thing to the next innocent schmoe. Whereever I go there I am. Whatever problems I have in my life, I am the common denominator.
Can you relate? How can we expect unconditional love, understanding, and peace; when we do not afford it to other beings? I have to ask myself: how important is it really? Will it be as important in one year as it is now? So much pain, hate and cruelty is born out of fear. The 12 step program offers us a way out of the fear and pain and into the unconditional love and acceptance we all seek on this earth. It starts from within each of us. One by one we can build the peaceful world we all want. In Tradition #8, we are asked to embrace our fellows as equals. Look for the similarities, not the differences. You will surely find the peace you have been seeking.
When we first get dried out, we will experience dreams where we are drinking or feeling extremely blasted beyond control. This is normal. I used to have dreams that I was being forced to drink that which I did not want. I know! Even in my dreams, I wasn’t responsible, and I was the victim! I am sure you can relate! I consider these dreams freebies: all the memories and thrills; but none of the guilt, shame, or remorse. So, relax. It is just your subconscious in overtime.
Sometimes, we can learn from these dreams as well. They can be wake up calls to get more active in AA, to do more service work, or perhaps let up on caffeinated beverages by noon, so that we can sleep better at night. I have also been able to recall things for my 4th and 5th step inventory that in real time and when wide awake, I could not recall. That was due to black out drinking. The brain has a funny way to tease things out, that we would rather not remember having done. So, be kind and gentle with yourself. Enjoy the freebie, but try to learn from what is revealed.
Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is very uncomfortable that is called cognitive dissonance. And, because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore, and even deny anything that does not fit in with that core belief. ~ Frantz Fanon
The fears and feelings that we hold onto are the ties that bind us to our past. Unless we are willing to let go of the past, we cannot live in the moment. Our history is not our destiny. Those fears and feelings are core beliefs that we have about life, ourselves, and how the universe is revolving around us. They are based on false assumptions many of us made in the small, insulated social bubbles like family, our schools, and our small home towns. They were formed mostly in our youth by immature minds who were just trying to survive. In order to recover and to grow into our genuine autonomous selves, we need to challenge these beliefs.
What is true for us as youths, is not true for us as adults. We are adults who can choose to see these differently. We can also choose how we act and react to what is presented. We are no victims, but rather we are active participants. I understand that life is challenging, things do get scary, and those in charge of our world can be pretty darn nasty and hard to like. If you list all that you are powerless over today, I assure you that you will run out of paper. The only things we are in charge of us are our feelings and our fears. We get to decide how we will respond each and every time. Choose wisely and keep plugging along. You are not alone.
What we resist, persists. ~ Anon
Persistence used for the positive can keep us active in the program, helps us grow and learn each day, and is the only form of permanence in the universe. We alcoholics do not like change. When faced with the prospect of amending our ways and letting go of character flaws, we resist and think: what will be left of us if we change? I offer this suggestion. Ask yourself: what is the worse possible thing that could happen? When you keep at this, you will see that the fear you are having is worse than any possible outcome of change. One gal came up with her worst case scenario, and that was to be stuck in her parents’ basement with no job or income. I suggested that at least she had parents and a roof over her head.
The universe wants what is in our best interest. I often say that HP has not dragged me this far through life to drop my on my head now. I don’t think Mother Nature stays up all night plotting how to upset anyone of us. When we use resistance on the negative side, we become stubborn and hard-headed. It seems that the whole world is run wrong, and nothing is going as we planned. We have to do a few things when faced with these feelings: Take a breath. Relax. Don’t do anything about it for 24 hours. Call someone. Write down what is the worst thing that could happen. Ask HP for direction and protection. The answers will come if your own house is in order. REMEMBER, IT IS ALL GOOD, EVEN THE BAD.