Immediate Amends

It is easier to eat crow when it is fresh and tender as opposed to stiff and stale. ~ Anon

No one will ever tell you that making amends is their favorite part of AA membership, but at the same time, they will tell you how liberating and refreshing it is. We no longer have to hang our heads down, do the walk of shame, or fear retribution as we may have in the past. We can look people in the eyes and feel equal to our fellow people here on earth. We know we owe no one, we are doing our fair share, and we have no hidden guilt, shame, or remorse. Step #10 affords us these luxuries that have seem to allude us in the past. As soon as we notice we are wrong, we can admit it and move on.

To say: I am wrong. I was in the wrong. I have made a mistake. That was my fault. How liberating is that? Not to say I am the mistake. Not to have to carry around that guilt or shame for more the a minute that it takes me to make amends. No lost sleep. No disturbing thoughts of regret. No mulling over who said what to whom and why. Not to have to spend one frantic minute that I might be found out. Wow, this is a whole new way of living for most of us. The Big Book offers us happy, joyous and free lives so long as we work the steps and use the traditions in all of our affairs and do the best we can along the way. Big ticket items for so cheap a cost. What a deal we get in AA.

 

Group Conscious

Once we have spoken our minds, however, the 9th tradition tells us to relax and let our Higher Power take charge of the meeting. We find that we cannot force our will on the AA group, no matter how right it may seem to us. ~ AA wisdom

Some person wiser than me once counseled me to let go of my expectations of the program as a whole, meetings, and the AA structure as a whole. She told me that it is not responsibility to make AA last or survive the many changes and people that come through those doors. Bend with the breeze, or be broken by it. From time to time, I have to be reminded of this. If you have been around as long or longer than me, you will have noticed that new people bring in new ideas. Not all ideas are right.

I remember one gal came in and immediately campaigned and won her right to change the wording of the How It Works! Guess what: she went back to drinking and the group recovered and prospered via the experience. Over the next few days, I will submit some tradition #9 questions for consideration that you may want to use in your meetings:

  1. Does our meeting support our leaders and service providers?
  2. Are we critical of those who are giving service and suspicious of their motives?
  3. Are we mature enough to take responsibility for the well-being of AA and our own recovery programs. Take some time to survey your groups and help others embrace the traditions as that glue that binds us to each other and to AA.

First Thought: Wrong

You can give a person knowledge, but you can’t make them think. Some people want to remain fools only because the truth requires change. ~ anon

Have you heard the saying in AA: “first thought…wrong!”. We need to think, but then run it past a sponsor or someone else you trust before taking action. It is not because we are stupid or unable to make decisions, but as addicts we have minds that tell us stupid things like: No one is watching. What the heck/who cares. It is my life. I deserve better. No one will know the difference. Everyone else does it. Just this once. I can do as I please. Surely, my mind is not the only one that spends a lot of time justifying and rationalizing in order to get the outcomes I think I need and want.

In step #9, we get the chance to review how this stinking thinking got us into trouble in the first place.  We get the opportunity to find better ways of relating to people, places and things. Life doesn’t have to be so hard. I don’t think most folks lay awake all night trying to figure out how to make us miserable. I don’t think G.O.D. does either. We choose how we are going to respond. Today is going to happen anyway. We might as well decide on it being a good day. Right.?Think..think/… think…but check in with someone. Sometimes, just hearing yourself say the justification is enough to help you hear the crazy. Just think: that would be one less amend to make. That is a huge reward for me!

Before I Speak

Before I speak, think: Is it kind? Is it necessary?

Does it improve upon the silence? ~ Anon

In step #9, we are given a chance for do overs. I have told you before that a few years ago, I took on a G.O.D. that I believe allows for do overs. In AA, we are told that “there is only one little thing we have to change = ourselves”. That used to make me mad as all hell. How dare they say that to me! Who do they think they are? They are drunks, just like me, that’s who they are. But they had managed to stay sober for years on end. Perhaps, I needed to sit down, take the cotton out of my ears, put the cotton in my mouth, and listen instead of spouting off. They just may know a thing or two more than I do about living soberly and peacefully. Perhaps I could learn that too.

I still spout off to friends when I am passionate, but I have learned how to listen to their point of view as well. I am in this life to learn and grow. There are several lessons in this universe that I have yet to learn and incorporate. That is half the fun of being in the 12 step program of AA = learning. I feel that every day has a new lesson in it for me to experience. Each day offers more do overs. It is like the movie “Groundhog Day!” ha ha. Wherever I go, there I am. There is the postal person, the person in traffic, the clerk in the store, and the dog in the street. What I breathe out, I breathe in. If I see things as all bad and wrong; that is how I appear to others. It is all about perception. Chose how you want to live this day. It is either a good day or a bad one. Your choice.  I will give you one little hint: the good one is easier!

 

Home Group

We have two things in common: the dis-ease of alcoholism and sobriety. Looks for the similarities; not the differences. ~ Anon

The concept of having a home group in AA is a valuable one to embrace. I have lived in  few different states and cities over the  years, so setting up and keeping a home group on my weekly schedule has helped me get to know people in AA and my community much easier. As I have mentioned before, I am a bit socially anxious and a loner, so this is as necessary to me as unpacking my boxes after a move. Home groups offer a sense of home, where we have our elders, youngsters, a common bond (sobriety), we have chores to do, and we celebrate birthdays! Ergo, “home” group. For some of us, this is the only family we have in life. I like to call it “my tribe”.

I have moms, aunts,and grandmas in AA that have been my role models and have seen me through life’s ups and downs as a blood relative might have done in past generations. I got to learn how to age gracefully and go through changes in my body and life; that I would have had no clue of what to expect. Over the years, we have shared parenthood, grand parenting, aging, health concerns, deaths, and births, jobs, and retirement. When people wonder aloud how I can live alone, I need only remember the tribe I have around me, to realize that I am never ever alone. They are just a phone call or meeting away. That is the fellowship of AA promised in tradition #8.

Ignorance is not Bliss

Often, the greater our ignorance about something, the greater our resistance. ~ Marc Bekoff

After spending 3 days trying to get a 12 step tri-fold flyer put together, I have decided that I learn best by doing. I live life backwards. Instead of getting training or learning how to do it and then do something; I will take on a job or task, and then try to figure out how to do it. I call it baptism by fire. This time, I asked for a strong deadline, so that I do not dilly dally for months on end, reconstructing the project in my head daily (well, truth be told, in the middle of the night)! That is one thing I did differently this time. That was a sane change.

This reminds of step #8. We need directions. We need a sponsor who knows how to do this work. We need to not be so ignorant as to forego our sponsor’s direction and help. This is a WE program. We do not have to do this alone. We do not have to pretend that we know how to do something we have never done before. By using our sponsor’s experience, strength, and hope and by following directions, we can navigate the new waters ahead of us. We do not have to do this alone anymore. We have a fellowship as is promised in step #8.

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.