When we finish our amends, most of us feel closer to our Higher Power than ever before. ~ Anon
Here we are in September already. This month, we will be working on step #9 and tradition #9. Step #9 reads: “made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.” The key word for this step is unconditional love. Many of us never knew what that felt like to be unconditionally loved and accepted. In AA we learn for the first time to love and be loved without reservations. Isn’t that powerful and healing? When I first came in, it hurt to be hugged, and I was suspicious of others’ intentions toward me. It was hard to feel anything at all, let alone unconditional love and acceptance.
I had spent my whole life feeling that I was too much of some things and not enough of other things. So, I had a whole litany of reasons why I did not trust your love and acceptance of me. “You must be crazy!” was my first thought and reaction. The hugs hurt. But, I let you say those things and give those hugs reluctantly. Now, you can’t keep from the hugs, and I am the first to offer them. Funny how love will do that to people. It melts away the prejudice and fear. It cures all. In step #9, we can learn to extend that unconditional love and acceptance to those from our past. One person and one day at a time, we can heal the past hurts and live in the present through the AA program of life. Such a deal we have here.
We will love you until you can love yourself. ~ AA slogan
How important that was to hear, when I first got to AA. Unconditional love and acceptance is what kept me coming back. I had never had that in my life, so at first, I was suspicious of what you people in AA wanted from me, or perhaps you were a crazy cult! Ha ha. The hugs hurt, the “keep coming back” frightened me. I did not want you to have my phone number lest you want to call me and interrupt my precious life or ask for money. I know. Pretty crazy, huh!? That is what the dis=ease of alcoholism does to us. It is a isolating condition. It tells us we are not good enough, that no one will understand, and that we are not lovable.
When I first started drinking, it made me feel more social and glib… the life of the party per se. As the dis-ease progressed, I had lost most of my moderate drinking friends, as they were too boring. It was more expedient and more affordable to just load up for the weekend and drink at home. Or, so I thought. Thank G.O.D. that I stopped listening to the dis-ease and started listening to you folks in AA. That was the saner and healthier decision. It has paid off, I keep coming back because I know there are millions of young folks you need to hear, “keep coming back”, “we love you” and “we understand”. What a gift we have in the fellowship of AA.
We have learned that complete willingness to make amends to ourselves and to forgive ourselves or past mistakes has been essential to our recovery. ~ Anon
I know this goes against the grain for most people who perceive self-love to be selfish and self-centered, but believe me when I say, that unless we love ourselves unconditionally and accept ourselves with no ifs or buts, we will struggle with ego based problems such as judgmentalism, fear, social insecurity, etc. How do we go about this thing called “living amends.” There are certain things we say to ourselves in our heads and out loud, that if said to another person, would be grounds for a law suit for defamation of character or outright abuse.
So, how does one overcome this self-abuse? The first thing is to catch ourselves in the act. In other words, jot down each time a negative thing falls out of your mouth or pops into your head, as an example: “I’m stupid”, or “there I go screwing up again.” Once you have a few on paper, identify a positive affirmation to counter what was said or thought. And put the word “absolutely” in front of it. For instance, “I am absolutely smart enough.” I find it helpful to write these each day, until the falsehood is removed. Another tactic that works, is to catch yourself in the act, and then correct it on the spot. I did this once in the middle of a sentence. The person I was speaking to chuckled at my affirmation and said, “I agree!” Be kind and gentle especially to yourself. As one friend says, “I have to be on my own team.”
I still believe that love s all you need. I don’t know a better message than that.
~ Sir Paul McCartney
We learn in step #7 that low self-esteem is the opposite end of egotism.
E.G.O. = Edging G.O.D. Out. Both low self-esteem and egotism keep us apart from others and the solutions found in working the steps. When we buy into the notion that we are nothing, that we are the mistake when we make mistakes, and that we are not good enough; we are actually grabbing the reins and playing a god. We are harming our opportunity to know what is is to be truly loved and accepted. It is a soul sickness. I know society tells us differently, but wise person once said, “It is no sign of mental health to be normal in a sick society.”~ anon
It is estimated that over 70% of families in modern day society are effected by at least one addictive process. How can we expect to know how to be and act “normal” when most of us never witnessed this in our childhoods? I do not blame parents. Most folks can only give what they were given. Our task going forward is to avail ourselves of the solutions offered in the 12 Step of AA program. While we are busy attending meetings and doing service, the disease of alcoholism is out there in the hallway doing one arm push ups. We have our work cut out for us. Newcomers need sponsorship and a place to heal. Be the voice of recovery. One person at a time, we can stem the tide of generational pain. Love is all we need.
Today marks the 50th anniversary of this Beatles hit. It took me back to my teens when my biggest concerns were grades, fitting in, and high school angst. I started drinking to escape my reality, oil the social wheels, and to have power in my life. Funny how we become dependent on the very thing that causes us the greatest level of pain. In the 60’s it was all about dropping out, making love not war, and rebelling against whatever the establishment demanded of us. It was great time to be young. Our generation brought about many great changes. But, not all of us made it out without scars and addictions.
People come to AA for many reasons. Mine was a spiritual awareness that happened without my permission. It was an awakening that for me was enough to pay attention to. I just knew that I did not want to die of this disease, even though I may die as a result of it. There are after all consequences for years of self harm. My living amends to myself is years of self love and self care. All I need is love: the love a HP, AA, and sponsorship/fellowship. What do you need in life?