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.

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.

The Results

Rather, I do whatever is in front of me to be done, and leave the results up to Him; however it turns out, that’s God’s will for me.

~ pg. 452, Big Book, 3rd edition

I love the Big Book. It is as if someone followed me around and wrote down all my thoughts and experiences. I always thought that I was so unique and special, that people just could not figure me out. After all, wasn’t I more clever and smarter than them? ha ha. The Big Book reminds us all that we are pretty ordinary and predictable in our collective dis-ease. How we reacted to the influence alcohol had over us is pretty much same ole same ole. In all my years, I have not heard many extraordinary stories of the chaos we created while using. I have however heard fabulous and unique stories of recovery, and how people have creatively learned to live soberly and productively. Now, that is something to talk about!

I love this story the most because the situations and relationships did not change so much as the perception, and that is exactly what AA is all about: changing our perception of things. How we act and react is all we need to know about. When sponsees seem lost and unsure of themselves, I suggest they look down at their shoes. That is exactly where they ar,e and where they are going. We are moving toward recovery, or we are moving toward that next drunk. Doing the next best thing keep us focused on the direction our shoes are pointed. Whatever is in front of us, is what we do next. It is that simple. Stop complicating things. Breathe in the freedom of sobriety. Your G.O.D. has got this.

Daily Work

Amazingly, God did for me what I could not do for myself. I was to ask,

using steps 9, 10, 11 and 12 on a daily basis. ~ Anon

If AA were a treatment center, steps 1, 2, and 3 would be the emergency room. Where a lot of detox, testing and surveying goes on to assess the problem and decide on a treatment plan. Steps 4-9 could be considered inpatient treatment. Where there is direct supervision to work the steps, a protected environment, and an ongoing treatment program, the ground is being laid for a lifetime of recovery. Steps 10-12 then could be considered outpatient treatment. The alcoholic is out in the community with the freedom to choose when to go to meetings, do daily work toward a better way of living, and hopefully becomes involved in the AA community in his/her own right.

I never went to treatment, but I need to add the word “yet” to that sentence. I do not plan to go back to drinking. I suspect that I do have few a few more drunks in me; but I don’t think I have another recovery left in me. That keeps me sober. AA is a lot like the Mafia. You know too much to leave! I thank goodness and the universe that 2 drunks got together and decided it would be smart to help each other get/stay sober. It is a simple program, but some of us are too smart to enjoy it. Be teachable. Invite HP in and enjoy the ride. You will love it some day.

The Silence

Before I speak, consider: Is it true? Is it kind? Does it improve upon the silence?

~ Anon

In my drinking days, booze made me more talkative, less filtered, and left me feeling all powerful and all knowing…..immortal! Super woman! I loved telling people what to do and when to do it. I loved giving people my “honest” opinion. I could figure out everyone else’s problems in a big hurry, but then would fall short on insight and problem solving when it came to even the smallest of my problems. What I have learned in AA; is that all of my problems had one common denominator = me. Wherever I went, there I was. Boy, did that irk me! I hate when someone points out the obvious to me.

Today, I can look people in the eye. I am on equal par with all folks It is freeing to let them express their issues and pain without having to tell them what to do about it. The burden of being a know-it-all no longer has to be lifted by me. I do not have to have all the answers all the time.In fact, I do not have to have any answers at all. So, when there is some silent moments in a conversation these days, I am reminded that I do not have to fill the gap. One of my favorite prayers is: “Lord, fill my mouth with worthwhile stuff, and nudge me when I have said enough.” Enough said!

Agnostic as to Application

The devout active alcoholic, unable to apply their religious truths,

are agnostic by application. ~ Anon

The single greatest chapter in the Big Book to aid my recovery is We Agnostics. This helped to explain that AA is not a religious program, and that sobriety is not just for the Christians among us. What a relief! This is a spiritual recovery program open to everyone. When we use the words G.O.D. or Higher Power, etc.; how we envision this is very personal and unique to each of us. We are all inclusive and accepting of all persons no matter what they choose to believe or not believe in. To me, that is so freeing and liberating. We do not have to accept cultural norms that limit who we associate with.

We get this chance to do things all over again. Our sobriety allows for a fresh perspective on life and other humans. In sobriety we see the souls of others and regale in their beauty. We learn that so long as we were drinking, we may have been very devout in our beliefs, but in practice, we were agnostic. So long as we continued to drink, we had no trust in a HP. Our HP was booze. That was the only thing we believed in. E.G.O = Edging G.O.D. Out. Thus, alcoholism was the great equalizer. We all came in agnostic. It is sobriety that gives each of us the opportunity to find our own HP concept. Now, that is true freedom. Wouldn’t you wish that for everyone?

The Message

Those of us who live this program do not simply live this message,

we are the message. ~ Anon 

This is a program of attraction, not promotion. We cannot go into every bar in town and drag people out of there and into AA meetings. That doesn’t work so well. That is what boxers call, “leading with your chin”. I do take up the argument, that we are not the message, but rather G.O.D. is the message, we are merely the messengers. The question is: what message do we want to convey? I have to remember what attracted me in the first place: unconditional love, compassion, humor, understanding and an open door policy.

Most folks in AA will tell you that you may be the only Big Book that someone will ever see in their lives. If that is so, then it would make sense that we crack the book open every day, and learn what it says. I admit to being a Big Book thumper, but I cannot quote chapter and verse, and I never could. There are some handy dandy Big Book reference cards that one can use. That way, when a certain issue and emotion troubles us or our sponsees, we can refer them to a chapter that addresses such a thing.  The nice thing about AA is that there have been millions who have already recovered, so all we have to do is learn from their experiences. There is no need to recreate the wheel. Just jump in and enjoy the ride. As one old timer used to say, “Just shut up and get in the bus!”

Deep down in the human spirit there is a reservoir of courage it is always available, always waiting to be discovered. ~ Pema Chodron

Just about the moment I feel discouraged or defeated and feel I just do not want to go on, someone says to me the very thing I need to hear at the very right moment. And, magically, I am willing to listen. I like to call these times God-cidences. And, isn’t it weird that it something that I have said the same thing to them at one time? This gives me chills. I do believe the people in AA are G.O.D. with skin. I am the kind of person who doubts the existence of something greater than myself from time to time, so having a physical presence helps me reconnect with this Higher Power source more readily.

I believe we are going into a period of darkness and confusion as a society. There is more talk of war, hatred, bigotry, and strife than I have seen/heard since my brief time on this planet. I think there will be uncommon heroes and extraordinary acts of bravery as a result. I could believe that all will be lost, but I choose to think much good and enlightenment will come as a result. Remember what Mr. Rogers used to implore of kids, “look for the helpers. The helpers will always be there.” You just never know who will be asked to bring you the message of recovery. It is wise to not dismiss the messenger even if they do not appear to be someone you even like or trust. God calls those to service who are the least likely to serve. Be brave. It may be you next.

 

 

 

There is no experience like telling a being who has been hurt spiritually and possibly physically that, “You are loved, this is your home, you are safe here and you matter. ~ Kathy Stevens

The word domestic comes from “domo” or home. Most of us think our homes are places of refuge and safety. But are they really? Are we living loving and productive lives, or are we angry and depressed? Step #8 gives the opportunity to evaluate just how things are going. We may be sober and have completed the first 7 steps. That is all well and good. But, there will never be a time when we can just lay back and rest. Remember, while we are in the meetings, this dis-ease is out in the hallway doing one armed push-ups. It is cunning, powerful and baffling…and very patient! We cannot stay clean on yesterday’s bath.

Step 8 is the big person step, where we put on our big girl or boy pants, suit up and show up. We take ownership of our issues, past and present, so that we do not have to go on being nonproductive and angry toward our fellow beings. A few years back, I began to incorporate my “do over G.O.D.”. Remember when we were kids and we lost the game? We would shout, “do over!”. Step 8 offers a big old do over on each and every issue, relationship, and problem. What a deal this AA program is. Embrace the change. Recovery is for all who want it.

Speaking Truth

Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates: at the 1st gate, ask yourself: “Is it true?” At the 2nd gate, ask “Is it necessary?” At the 3rd gate ask “Is it kind?” ~  Sufi Saying

One of my sponsors, who eventually became a good friend says all the time, “speak your truth peacefully and quietly.” I have learned from her that most people shut out the “noise” of unwanted criticism, bossiness, judgmentalism, and harshness. It is probably to self-protect. I know when someone whispers, it is harder for me to hear, so I lean in more and pay more attention. We live in a society that loves to keep us thinking we are either too much or something or not enough of another. One can hardly get through a TV show without commercials telling us our bodies stink, we need medications to cope in life, our bank account or house is too small, and our pets need medication as well.

So, today is all about speaking the truth peacefully and quietly. The AA program teaches us to be honest in all of our affairs. It does not teach us to judge, harm, criticize, or push people around. My own business ends at the tip of my nose. There on outward is the responsibility of others. Thank goodness, there is a loving a merciful G.O.D., and it isn’t me. I do not have to fix anyone else but me. What a relief that is for me today. What a blessing that no one, no thing, and no event can knock me off my serenity boat but me. What a deal we have in AA.