Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. ~ Thomas Edison
We celebrate Peace on Earth, but forget to practice it. We want happy gatherings, but choose to bring our old angry baggage. Long ago, I picked up the phone for support and understanding as I was heading out to be with my family (at a distance; for the holidays). The AA on the other end gave me a great life lesson: She told me that I had freedom and choice. I was shocked. I thought invitations were command performances. I thought it was required that I spend all of my free time and vacation days on traveling, cooking, gifting, spending, decorating, and being around family. She told me that I had a choice. And, even after I made the choice to attend, I had all sorts of choices beyond that: what to pack, what to wear, who to talk to, what to talk about, what to eat, where to sleep, whether to participate in gossip or not, how long to stay, and when to leave. I had choices! That in itself, is the freedom.
She set me free that day. That visit was the beginning of having holidays with my family that for the first time were peaceful for me. I started seeing my mom as another human being and an equal to me. I started seeing that the stress and anxiety that I had felt were from within and from having an expectation that my family would ever be perfect, functional, and happy. I had 10 more years of visits with my mom that were happy and peaceful. I got to know her on a personal level. She passed away some 3 years ago. I am glad that the 12 Step program gave me that 10 years to enjoy her and to make peace with her and myself. Remember that when we fail to plan, we plan to fail. Set your plans, follow through. Enjoy your own peace on earth. You deserve it.
The word resentment comes from the Latin word “sentire” which means, “to feel”, and when you put “re” in front of any word, it means “again”, so the word resent means “to feel again”. ~ Big Book Study
I remember many childhood years when Christmas was a whole lot of expectation and anticipation to the point where we could not fall asleep. As grown adults we know that expectations are planned resentments. Anticipation is another way to not be in the moment and to play the “if only” game. One guy spoke up at a recent meeting and lamented that he was expected to show up at all these holiday gatherings, but never gets a present. Isn’t that so like us!? I sure can relate. We expect to be rewarded for doing what most “normal” folks consider sociable and responsible adult behavior. Just for this holiday, let’s focus on the kids and the real meaning of Peace of Earth and good will to all beings. Let’s live simply, so that others can simply live.
Here is a simple acronym to consider attaching to your morning mirror or rear view mirror: H.A.L.T.
H = Hungry. Keep your intake to 3 meals and a snack. Focus on whole, fresh foods. Avoid the candy, etc. It causes depression and anxiety. Eat before going to events.
A = Angry. Breathe, go for a walk, or go to another room. Ask yourself if you want to have to make amends later. Do a 10th step inventory. Ask: What is going on with me?
L + Lonely. There are many people (AA’s included) who are institutionalized, laid up (sick), or unable to get out and about. Call or visit them. Volunteer at shelters. Call someone on your amends list. Be of service to others.
T = Tired. Pace yourself. Take a nap, go meditate, relax and enjoy the people you don’t normally see all year. May your day be merry and peaceful
Just for today, I will be happy This assumes to be true what Abraham Lincoln said, “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” ~ 12 Step Literature
My life is topsy turvy this week. I am working most days by 6 AM, and there is no WiFi there. So, you get my evening thoughts. Hopefully, they will make sense. Today, I decided that I can be as happy as I make up my mind to be. I had the opportunity to work with a few people who have made other decisions. I learn from working with others how good I have it. I am no better than they are. But with sobriety, I have been a better class of problems. I do not have to worry about being found out in secret drinking. I am not worried if a I see a cop following me. I no longer feel as if the world is handing me a raw deal or plotting to make me miserable.
Today’s problems are more like unsafe drivers, tailgaters, cat puke on the floor, my favorite TV program being preempted by news or weather warnings. Electricity going out during storms, etc. These are pretty doable and manageable. Right? Thank goodness for sobriety and AA. Life is good if we will have it. We “can have peace if we will have it,” ~John Lennon. I hope that you all find some peace and happiness today. Practice being happy. It beats the alternative. My worst day sober is still much better than my best days drunk. Breathe peace.
Taint worthwhile to wear a day all out before it comes.
~ Sarah Orne Jewett
There are many benefits of Step #10. We no longer have to rue the day. We don’t have to wake up thinking, “Oh, no! Now what will I have to face?” We do not have to worry about running into that guy we owe, the banker, or the creditor. We do not have to screen calls. We do not have to dodge the ex or the relatives for fear we will be accused of things we do not even remember doing. And, the biggest one is that we no longer have to run around saying “I’m sorry!” without really meaning it. After all, we were only sorry we got caught or we had to face the accuser. If we were really sorry, we would have stopped doing the same thing over and over again; like drinking.
AA offers us a whole new life; a life of freedom, joy, choice, and peace. Why would anyone want anything less or more? When we treat others as if they have the right to the same things, those things are afforded to us. It’s called Karma, baby! We get that which we give. It’s called natural consequences. I do not believe in hell because I know most of us have already been there here on earth. It was a hell of our own making. The hell of alcoholism kept us imprisoned and burdened with regret, remorse, and pain day in and day out. We now can look people in the eye, and know we are equal in all senses. What a gift we have in AA. Let’s keep this thing AA alive and well for the millions of drunks who have yet to find us, but will surely need us one day.
We vigorously commenced this way of living as we cleaned up the past.We have entered the world of the Spirit. ~ Pg, 84 Big Book
Step #10 is a two part measure that we can take each day in all of our affairs. The first part is “continued to take inventory.” It is easiest if we just use the step 4 inventory as laid out on page 65 of the Big Book. There are 4 columns. Far left of sheet is “fear”, next is “Person”, next is “Resentment”, and then “Affect (feelings) is in the far right column. Let’s do an example:
Fear person Resentment Affect
Will lose control Guy in traffic unsafe, tail gate frightened, unsafe
I usually do every one of these first thing in the morning. If a big deal hits midday, I may verbally inventory it with my sponsor. Keep in mind, your name should be the first one on the list. What are things you did or did not do that caused you pain or stress?
The second part is the amends. Remember, it says “promptly”. My biggest motivation in acting nicely is so that I do not have to make amends. I know, that sounds selfish, but it works for me. The simple statement “I was wrong about such and such, and how can I make it right” works best. Keep it simple. Most folks won’t even be phased by what you thought was a big deal. Remember, we are doing this for our own sanity. We will talk about Step #10 prayers next time. Have a wonderful, sane day. Feel free to let me know how you do Step #10.
We react sanely and normally, and we find that this has happened automatically. ~ pg. 84, Big Book
I have to laugh because I cannot honestly tell you what is “normal”. It is said that it not healthy to be normal in an insane society. If the events of the last year does not demonstrate some crazy mass mania going on, then you are #1: not paying attention or #2: think it is just fine. There was a time when I craved chaos and was usually the one creating it. These days, I have very little tolerance for crazy. I understand when an individual person goes off the wall. That I get. I do not get a large swath of society bent on destroying the very fabric of a once good and free nation. I know my 10th step list has grown a whole lot longer!
What has this got to do with sobriety? Step #10 offers the daily opportunity to review what happened, who was involved, how we felt about it, what our fears were, and what was our part. I call it my sanity step. No matter how crazy everyone around me gets, I can have “serenity.” I can choose how to react and act. I can get a perspective on things, get with my sponsor and talk things over, and hand it over to HP. One thing I know is that I do not have to like what is going on or who is involved. I always tell myself, “you don’t ever have to do that again!” That seems to calm me down. Remember too, that it is not about me or you. Most of it isn’t. G.O.D. can and will lift and carry this too.
I am simply too busy looking for a blinding revelation from the heavens or the fireworks, that I do not notice the miracles inherent in step #9.
I did not experience many oh wow feelings. I was not blinded by awe. Nor was I bowled over by any reactions to step #9. I did however experience great healing and peace of mind. I think that is more the typical reaction to step #9. Some of the most healing and peace filled experiences came from letters I wrote to people who had already died. Some folks might mock and overlook this tremendous opportunity to make amends to those no longer here. They dismiss this as silly and useless. I would say, unless and until you have gone through this process, you know not what you speak of.
One of these amends had to do with my dad. We had had a long and painful relationship. He was a baked in sexist, racist, bigoted and angry man. In AA, I learned to forgive and move beyond his pain. I learned that we each have good and bad in us. I learned that step #9 was for me; not him. He had to die to find recovery. His death was the catalyst for me to get sober. I did not want to die in regret and from the effects of a lifetime of abusing my body. I would not wish that on anyone. So, I wrote him a goodbye letter. The format is: I loved…I hated…I wanted…I wished for…I hoped for….and then, goodbye and then hello. Hello is for all that will be in life if I let go of my feelings and control of the outcomes. Do yourself a favor, and write a goodbye letter. It will launch you into a new realm of peace.