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.
I went to plug in my cell phone to recharge last night. And, lo and behold, I had not packed a cord for my week on the farm. So, here I am with no phone for at least 6 more days. Now, the old Jo would have gone into a five alarm fire, busted up the place and blamed the cat/kids/dog, etc. But, I am learning that all the rage in the world will not fix the problem. I didn’t have to call suicide hotline either. I did look around their home for a spare charger. But, alas there were none to be had. Now, I could go into town today and try to find one. But, it is unlikely that a town of 900 would have one for sale. So, I may go totally retro 80’s and not have a cell phone in my ear!
What does this have to do with sobriety? These little things were the very things that would make my house go crashing down in my drinking days. The reason being is that I had not attended to a laundry list of amends which compounded any minor scrape 10 fold. There is a silver lining in not having a cell phone; as there is a silver lining in making amends. We get a chance to practice living saner, simpler, and harmony with others and the universe. Doesn’t that sound nice and peaceful? You bet! So, go retro. Put your cell phone down and go have a real conversation with a real person. Make that an amend to yourself. Treat your self to a human interaction. Or better yet, go outdoors and breathe in some beauty. Just for today, just be.
Alcoholism is cunning, baffling, and powerful. ~ Big Book
I would say that all addictions are cunning, baffling and powerful and extremely patient. Today, I am full on angry at this dis-ease that kills, destroys families, maims and harms those effected, and shows no misery whatsoever. Dang it all. Yet another family member is dying as a result of this dis-ease. He is my age. Heavens, I am just getting started. He had a whole life ahead if he had chosen differently. And, I am powerless over him, his choices, his dis-ease, and his consequences/early death. I want to be more powerful. I want the whole world to know that no good will come of harming one’s body with toxic chemicals. The answers to life’s problems are not in the bottom of a brown bag or brown bottle. That there is more to life than getting high or blitzed. That their lives and those of their loved ones matter more than a brief buzz.
I am powerless over all people, places, and things. The best I can do is express my sadness for his pain and stay sober. I can be the sober family member through this death too. It is not my business how others express their sorrow and grief. Whether they choose to be drunk or get high through this pain, is not my concern. I can be as angry as I want toward this dis-ease, but I do not have to express it in front of family members. I have a sponsor who will and can listen lovingly and direct me toward literature, etc. that will give death meaning and peace. So long as we live, we will have loss. It is our choice how will deal with this loss. Choose wisely.