Neutrality

How can AA sit by and say nothing about the many social evils which seem to go unchecked in the world? ~ Anon

The key word in Tradition #10 is neutrality. We stay in our own lane = alcoholism and sobriety because we are uniquely qualified in just that. Nothing more and nothing less. When we are tempted to bring our political, religious, or any other special interest into the mix, we need to stop and think: Does this keep me and others sober? Is this improving upon the silence? How important is this when it comes to offering the new person the solution to sobriety? Emotional and spiritual sobriety means acceptance of life on life’s terms. Nothing less and nothing more. Does this mean we must be in sheep-like agreement and not have a passions in life? No. We are welcome to our opinions and our feelings. They just do not belong in an AA meeting. Goodness knows, I sure have them!

Here is how tradition #10 worked for us at a recent business meeting. We are coming up on elections, and as always there are openings but not many applicants banging at our door to be of service. This drives me bonkers. But, somehow people end up stepping up for service every single time. The process changes each year, as the people making decisions are different each year. It is much like herding kittens…..they are all over the place and each going its own way. Staying in neutral, not having a vested interest in the outcomes, and staying calm helped a lot. Staying on topic when others less experienced kept drifting off topic also helped. We got a lot done. We came to a consensus about how to proceed, and everyone’s voice was heard. Our personal beliefs, feelings, and political stances would have kept us apart. We need neutrality so that we can remain united in the interest of our sobriety. Stay calm. Stay in your lane. Enjoy neutrality.

Return of Sanity

For by this time, sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in liquor. ~ pg.84, Big Book 

It is assumed that by the time a person gets to step #10, that they are beyond the jitters, dt’s, and cravings. If not, perhaps a revisit to steps 1, 2, and 3 is needed. There is no shame in redoing things. A solid foundation is necessary in any building efforts. You don’t want to build on something shaky and weak. A thorough and fearless approach is best. As I said before, if there was black out drinking, perhaps the person does not even recall some of the harms done. This can trip you up. Take the time and effort to make sure of what you have:

Step #1: An admission of complete powerlessness and complete willingness.

Step #2: A belief that G.O.D. can restore us to sanity.

Step #3:  Complete reliance upon G.O.D. in all of our affairs.

That is the foundation that is needed. It is essential to long term sobriety. No exceptions. I have worked with many folks over the years. I can hear the words mumbled, but few have really acted as if they really were accepting of these basic tenets of sobriety. It eventually shows itself. The whole point of the AA program is to have no reason on this green earth to drink. In my experience, I am too busy and occupied; too hooked into AA to even think about adding alcohol to the mix. That is sobriety to me.

Being A Part Of

Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to G.O.D.

and the people about us. ~ Big Book

Being a part of something greater than myself (not apart from) is the essence of this thing called fellowship. I was asked just yesterday by my only “normy” friend why I go to AA if I have been sober for over 31 years. I said that this is a life long commitment. Beyond that, I do not think anyone who is not involved in this program would understand why we keep coming back, why we call ourselves alcoholic when we no longer drink, or what we do in our our meetings. I have to remember that AA is for those who want it, not those who need it.  If it were the prior, there would not be enough chairs in the building to occupy.

So, why do we old timers keep coming back? We give back freely what was freely given to us. Our appearance and sharing at meetings is a form of service. It is our primary purpose to be of service to HP and others.

G.O.D. does not call those who qualify; but does qualify those who are called. Sometimes, I do not know when I will be called, but I do know in my heart of hearts that the skills and words will be furnished. Sometimes, I just open my mouth and the words fall out. There are other times (like funerals) where I ask that the right words be given. It all works when we work it. And, we are worth it. Keep coming back, you just never know who will be there that needs to hear what you have to say.

About Turning 31

You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there is going to be

somebody who hates peaches. ~ Engine 2 Diet

You got to love AA. We celebrate birthdays! We celebrate that others saved their own butts by getting and staying sober. Now, isn’t that ironic? Today is my 31st AA birthday. My first thought this morning is that I am glad that I lived long enough to see 31 years of sobriety. Then I thought of all the wonderful people that I have met in AA here in the metro area. AA is alive and thriving in the Des Moines area. For that, we can all breathe some in gratitude. We have a growing and sober community of support for the still suffering alcoholics who may want us some day. How sweet is that?

So, 31 means I have been sober longer than I drank, for certain. Much of my drinking life feels like a nightmare that I once witnessed someone else going through in slow motion. Due to black out drinking, I don’t remember most of the gory details. Back then, I could never imagine living without alcohol as my main beverage. Now, I cannot imagine alcohol in my life. There would be no space or room for it. I have too much going on and too many things to accomplish to let it back in my door. I tell people if they want long term sobriety, all they have to do is not drink and stay alive! So, I will leave it right there. Stay sober and stay alive. Thank G.O.D. we found AA.

 

Step #8: a 2 Part Plan

 

Made a list of all people we had harmed and became willing to

make amends to them all. ~ AA 12 X 12

The first part of step #8 is to make the list. The easiest way is to write down everyone that was on the 4th and 5th step list. I strongly suggest that everyone works with a sponsor in this process. One quick story: a sibling of mine, who came right out of a treatment program, and being so anxious to stay sober, ran around telling tales on everyone she had been involved with. It caused a great deal of pain, and she went back to the drinking as a result. Your sponsor will also be helpful in removing those names on the list who victimized you, not vice versa. Heed this advice. We are not doing this to alleviate or assuage the guilt of others. We are doing this to recover our own sanity and stay sober.

The second part of step #8 is to become willing. Here is that word again! The essence of the 12 step program of recovery is just that: being willing and remaining teachable. If how we were living our lives was working for us, we would not have a need to be in AA. I recommend to my sponsees that they write letters to each person on the list, but do not send them!! Write what you would want to say, if you knew you would never see the person again. Then, with the aid of the sponsor, nail it down to a simple sentence, “I was wrong about such and such, and how can I make it right.” Now, the hard part is to pray for them the things you wish for yourself. The healing thoughts and feelings will come. You will know when you are ready to move on.

 

It is that Simple

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius, and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. ~ Albert Einstein

Alcohol has a special capacity to make ordinary people into extraordinary monsters and over confident fools. As a youngster, I was painfully shy and an introvert. People could make me cry just by looking at me sternly. I grew up on a large farm here in the Midwest where we were pretty insulated from the community at large. I really thought all families had abuse, heavy drinking and smoking going on. I had a huge revelation at my first sleep over (age 8) for a friend’s birthday party. What occurred was so foreign to me (a dad who came home for dinner by 6 PM, no booze at the table, no smoking, and a dad who prayed and played with his kids. Then at night, he read us a story.

That was the last time I spent an overnight in anyone else’s home that wasn’t family. It frightened me to know that ours was not a “normal” family after all. It haunted me until at last I took up the bottle on my own behalf. The booze made me feel “normal” again. It made me feel powerful, glib, sociable, friendly, outspoken, and empowered. It worked! No wonder my dad loved it so. But, as they say: we invite the booze into our homes as a guest, but it soon makes demands and takes over. Then it becomes the lord and master of our universe. The good news is that we have this simple program of recovery to teach us to live, breathe and exist freely without the crutch of of alcohol. Have the courage and wisdom to live freely.

Being Prepared

Being willing to achieve is not nearly as valuable as being prepared. ~ Anon

I saw this the other day, and it reminded me of getting and being sober. We spend years of hangovers and regrets swearing off then swearing on again. Our lives were consumed in pretending and promising to ourselves and others that we can act maturely when drinking, we can drink moderately in polite society, and we really mean no harm. To no avail. Many of us wanted to achieve sobriety. But, wanting and doing are totally different things as we have been humbled to learn.

Remember the acronym H.A.L.T.? Hungry, angry, lonely, and tired are the greatest bug-a-boos for any alcoholic. We cannot afford these feelings. I add S for sore (due to chronic pain). Life happens, and we will be confronted by these on a regular basis. For those who are new into recovery, I offer some tips and tricks: To avoid being hungry: eat breakfast, take healthful snacks to work, hydrate with water; not juice or pop. Drink warm lemon water before breakfast each day. To avoid anger: have some AA numbers entered on your phone and use them, take a walk, count to ten, do a step 10 inventory, and/or pray for the person. To avoid loneliness: go to a meeting, call until you get a human voice, walk around the mall, call someone who is struggling, or volunteer at an animal shelter or retirement home. And, to avoid tiredness: take daily naps, get to bed at a reasonable hour, avoid caffeine or cut back after noon, take 1/2 hour of quiet time before you sleep, move the TV/radio/stereo out of the bedroom, and consider not bringing work home with you. Preparation will reduce the exasperation and ensure continue sobriety.