Review the Growth

Obviously, we cannot give what we do not have. ~ Big Book

In Step #12, it is important to review the growth we have had or need to have in the prior 11 steps. Here is a guideline that may be of help.

Step #1: Key word is honesty, The freedom is from the obsession with alcohol. We must be completely willing and admit completely powerless over alcohol.

Step #2: Key word is: hope. The freedom is from insanity and hopelessness. We must willing to believe in a power great than ourselves and that we can have our sanity restored.

Step #3: Key word: Faith. Freedom from the bondage to self. We must willing to turn our whole lives/selves over to a power greater than ourselves.

Step #4: Key word: courage. Freedom from dishonesty. We must be willing to do a searching and fearless personal inventory.

Step #5: Key word: integrity. Freedom from isolation. We must be willing to tell another human being and HP the results of our inventory.

Step #6: Key word: willingness. Freedom from running the show. We must be willing to become entirely ready to have HP remove our character flaws.

This is enough for today. It is important that we review where we came from, where we are right now, and where we are heading. If we are to be of service to others, we first need to make sure we have a good strong foundation of sobriety on which to build a sturdy temple (body/mind/soul). I hope you will take the time today to do this necessary work.

Working with Others

hideous Four Horsemen: Terror, Bewilderment, Frustration, Despair. Unhappy drinkers who read this page will understand.

~ Big Book, pg. 151 

On the other hand, there is also the counterbalance: The 4 Horsemen of Recovery: Love, Peace, Serenity, and Hope.  There is a yin/yang in the universe. Good VS evil. Positive VS negative. If I have learned anything in this 12 step recovery program, is that there is always balance. Thank goodness for that. If we did not have balance, we would all be insane. So, when it comes to working with others, the first key guideline is to maintain your balance! Slow down, take a breath, relax, and recognize you are not responsible for saving others or AA as a whole. There is a G.O.D., and it isn’t you! You do not have to have all of the answers all of the time. That is why we have intergroups, group consensus, G.S.O., literature, old timers, and speakers to guide us.

What all alcoholics need in a sponsor is a loving witness and a listening ear; someone to show them how to apply the 12 steps of AA to their lives: a mentor in recovery. That is the sum total of all that is needed. Whether of not he/she has a job or no job, $ or no $, married or single, health or illness, aged or young or housed or homeless are outside issues. The solutions for these (and any life problem) come from their commitment to living the 12 step recovery program. Your wallet, wisdom, or wit cannot save them. And, they should not. I suggest staying out of their way, give them plenty of room to learn from their own mistakes, and let G.O.D. intervene. When someone comes to you with a life problem, I suggest that you give them the option:  get off the hideous horse or climb onto a recovery horse and hang on! Seek balance.

 

Service = Rent to Live

Service is the rent we pay to be on this earth. ~ Anon

My first experience with the notion of service happened on my first day in another 12 step program. I had been sober (dry drunk) for 3 + years, angry, and completely defeated. My disease had taken another direction. So, in desperation, I called the number listed. The lady who answered the phone had convinced me that if I came to the meeting at 9 AM the next day, “we can talk more.”  I thought, “cool, free therapy!” So, I showed up. That in and of itself was a miracle. I never got out of bed before 1-2 PM on Saturdays! But, something awoke me and there I was, my three year old in tow. The lady was nice enough. She said, “let’s put out these chairs and this literature.” So, I helped with that. Pretty soon others came into the room, so she said, “we can talk after the meeting.”  My thought was at least I could still be listened to for free (after all, she had promised). Well, the meeting ended, and everyone greeted each other and me (no hugs, please. They hurt!) As people filed out, I positioned myself next to her, so she could hear my “story”. She turned to me and said, “let’s put these chairs and that literature away.”  That was it. She said to call her the next day, and thanked me for helping out.

I learned from that, that service is a major part of this deal. If I wanted to feel worthwhile and be a part of something that would bring me joy; service would be a part of that belonging. It is a give and a take. This month we will be working on Step #12 and Tradition #12. Both of these have to do with working with others and being of service. Service will keep your hands and mouth busy. Addicts like us need to keep our mouths and hands busy and out of trouble. Most days, I am too busy helping others and doing service, that I have no time to dwell on my own “issues”. I no longer have to have others listen to my “story”. May you find more sobriety in service.

In Alignment

Through prayer and meditation, we align ourselves with a higher spiritual power which gives us everything we need to live to our highest potential. ~ 12 Step Literature

Upon rising, I use prayer, meditation, writing and reading to put things into perspective. All people, things, institutions, and situations are within the realm of HP to handle. I just ask for direction and protection in how to do the next best thing. Simple prayers such as “thank you” and “thy will be done” help me maintain my morning mood into the day and night. My greatest spiritual potential exists in my service to others. I cannot give what I do not have. So, I try to stay in my own lane. If people come to me for solutions, somewhere in my answer will be the suggestion that they take a 24 hour pause, pray on it, and ask HP to lift and carry the problem. Their solutions do not rest in my finite self/ego/brain. Thank goodness for that!

But, rather, their solutions come in developing and maintaining a constant spiritual connection with an HP of their own understanding. Keeping this attitude makes sponsoring and working with others on a saner plane. Before I figured this out, I tried to be everything and everywhere for others. I thought I had to have all the answers for everyone all the time! I wore myself and others out in trying to be in charge. The best question anyone has ever asked me in AA was and is, “do you have a loving and merciful G.O.D.?” I now know that there is a loving and merciful G.O.D., and it is not me!! Be kind to yourself, align yourself with a power greater than yourself, and enjoy the process. It is that simple.

Joyous Noise

P.A.U.S.E. = Pray and use spiritual energy. ~ Anon 

Yesterday, I saw a Gregorian Chant being sung in a Nebraskan seminary. That took me back to my religious roots. I have always loved singing as a form of prayer. The vibrations in the brain are so healing. One of my biggest gripes against the church of my origin is when they outlawed Latin in the rituals. It seemed to me that prayer and song in an ancient language was more devout and more meaningful. Perhaps it was more romantic and exotic as well. Some say song is joyous noise. I like to sing along to hymns like “Alleluia” loudly and off pitch while driving. Hey, whatever floats your boat!

Here is a mantra I learned which may be of help:

Be still, and know that I am G.O.D.

Be still, and know that I am.

Be still, and know that I.

Be still, and know that.

Be still, and know.

Be still. 

Be.

Enjoy some joyous noise today. If nothing else, listen to some Christmas music….lalalalalala!!

Relationship with HP

If HP wanted us to be born into perfect homes with perfect parents, he could have arranged that. He trusted us to be able to learn and grow from those families that we were given in life. ~ Anonymous

I will tell you a story I heard when I first came in:

There was this guy who stumbled around AA for a long time, until he finally asked someone to help him. That sponsor suggested that he find a Higher Power greater and bigger than himself to pray to. So, the guy went out looking for a Higher Power. One day, while on a walk, he saw this great big old tree. It had great shade, hug arms, and seemed to be very old and wise. After all, had it not weathered severe weather and the ages? So, he decided that the tree was his Higher Power. He was filled with glee, as he could go out there and pray to the tree every day. He could touch and feel the tree, so he was pretty sure that his HP was real. This kept the guy sober and happy for many years. He knew that he had an HP that was sturdy, timeless, and strong enough to handle whatever problem he brought to it. Then one day, the guy came into his home meeting crying. He was inconsolable. Finally, the group asked what was wrong. All he could mutter was: “Dutch Elm’s Disease”.

Whatever your concept of HP is, is what will work for you for the time being. As you grow in the program, this concept will mature, much like any relationship. As you grow in sobriety, you will be more forgiving, less demanding, and more mature in the give and take that defines all relationships. We get back all that we give in this program. I know we could all be more serene and more sober on a mountain top or at a beach in the sunshine and away from all of life’s troubles. But, we are in the human element, trying to be spiritual in our day to day human surroundings. The best advice is I can give is to do the next best thing. Breathe. Lighten up. Don’t take things or people so seriously. Laugh. Relax. Suit up and show up for life. When you screw up, get back up. When you mess up, clean it up. Move on. If you get lost, look down at your shoes and realize that you are exactly where you need to be….in the moment. It is that simple.

Public Anonymity

Maintaining our anonymity at the public level is one way in which we can practice humility. ~ Anon

This whole idea of public anonymity is foremost in my mind. Just recently, it has come to my attention of how distracting and misleading it is to hear one person or personality being promoted as the answer to all life’s problems or the expert on all things Big Book or AA. So, I have started to confront people when this happens in meetings. I will admit that I am not one bit comfortable in confronting the breaks in our traditions, but I am learning to find my voice. We all need to find our voices. The 12 traditions are the glue that binds us to each other. They were developed so that many different personalities from many different backgrounds could find common ground and common goals to work on. Tradition #11 is all about anonymity. AA is not just one person or a few people. So, it is important that we not put people on a pedestal or promote them above all others as experts on anything AA.

Another issue that breaks tradition #11 is the publishing the names of speakers at AA events or on AA flyers. We may feel as if we are honoring these people, but in essence, we are promoting that person and his/her sobriety as a draw for the crowds. What we need to remember is that person could fall flat on his face the day before the event, go back out and drink and show up hung over at the event. How would that help AA? Recently, the group treasurer showed up late and drunk. Thank goodness, it wasn’t his meeting or his turn to lead. His name wasn’t on any flyer that advertised recovery in AA. That would have been a great big black eye for AA. We all are just human beings who happen to have a disease called alcoholism in common. No one is better, more sober, or more experienced than the next guy. The less we rely on ego and personality to keep us sober, the more likely we will be to rely on the only source of constant and continuing support = H.P.