About Me

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I have recovered from the disease of Alcoholism. I believe there is only one person really,.. everybody. And that peace of mind is everything. -So treat your neighbor as you would treat yourself, because your neighbor IS yourself. I think most of recovery is what I would call common sense, but that learning to be ordinary is a true gift very few people acquire. My ambition is to accept everything unflinchingly, with compassion, and therefore be intrinsically comfortable in my own skin, no matter what. I am comfortable being uncomfortable and am willing to go to any lengths to improve my life. I believe the Big Book was divinely inspired, and is extraordinarily powerful. Unfortunately AA's best kept secret a lot of the time. (In my opinion). I just try to do what works, no matter what it is.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Earnest? No. It's much ! healthier to be harmlessly mischevious

Heard in meetings: 'Sober not Somber'
'If you are happy would you please inform your face'
Big Book:
We are not a glum lot p132
Those in bad health, and those who seldom play, do not laugh much. p132
We absolutely insist on enjoying life. p132
We cannot subscribe to the belief that his life is a vale of tears, though it once was just that for many of us. p133

I like it when people in AA are having FUN, wherever ? they are, but not at other peoples expense as that would constitute 'harmful speech'. Or in a socially embarrassing or inappropriate way. Social skills are a !! huge asset, without them its so easy to rub people up the wrong way without realizing..

I saw someone who was clearly quite 'into' the AA programme recently in a very uneventful phase of their recovery, but to me they ? just looked like they were having no ! fun. Very dreary. So ! serious! Bleh. All I know is that I would find it unbearable to endure an overly serious sobriety indefinitely. It looks too much like sufferance. If I go to a meeting which is attended by fairly serious looking people, I'm almost certain that they must think I am some sort of ? lightweight because I look like I'm just having a bit of a laugh. The more serious they are the more I want to have a laugh. But if I attend a meeting full of high-pitched shrieky nervous laughter I am equally uncomfortable and would prefer a more relaxed calm response.

But I was at a meeting full of slightly more serious faces recently and it crossed my mind how important it is to have fun, because it's very hard to stay sober if recovery is terribly serious. if I meet someone who looks a little too earnest or serious, or is simply trying too hard, I try to tell them how important it is to lighten up and wear life like a loose garment. it's the only way that long-term sobriety is bearable. It gets too heavy otherwise. Besides having fun is not an opportunity to be missed. It costs nothing :)
But occasionally I attend meetings full of young people trying desperately to look “interesting” by sounding witty or clever, and those meetings also grate after a while. “You impress me when you stop trying to impress me” is something an old timer at my home group used to say.

My home group 20 years ago was full of people having a laugh, so that's what I became used to. Now when I see a room full of serious faces I cannot really relate to them very much. I understand that this is a common feature of the first 5 years of recovery, and I am sure that when I was less than 5 years I was equally unduly earnest, but I try to encourage sponsees to lighten up as soon as possible rather than wait 5 years to do so like I did. I think 5 years is a common benchmark for the time it takes a reasonably disturbed person to loosen their feverish grip on the program and start to relax a little, by doing less AA activities without fear of drinking again.

So generally speaking I would say that being a bit too serious is not at all good for long-term sobriety, and that if you are a little bit humourless, or serious and preoccupied a lot of the time, that this could quite reasonably have devastating effects on your sobriety long-term.
Trying too hard to be a “good” AA member is equally disastrous because it is not sustainable. Nobody can maintain a earnest disposition, because at some point we all ! look foolish for some reason or other, so the 'earnest' mask will crack. It gets unbearably dull and repressive. There is no fun in it.

So forget the “too good” ideology. Stop trying to convince everybody that you are serious about your program by trying desperately to look serious and earnest, or speak in a terribly serious way in meetings. You stand a much better chance staying sober indefinitely if you really learn how to wear your life like a loose garment and stop taking yourself so seriously. Get over yourself! Try to cultivate harmless mischievousness instead. And if your face looks miserable then you are not there yet :) There should be a glint in the eye. A wry smile. No sufferance. Not a sad “Oh well never mind” smile. A jolly smile. A Santa Claus smile. The best example I can give you as to what I mean when I say this is the example provided by TNH. He discusses very serious and far-reaching topics but he is not miserable looking. Here is a link to recent video so you can see what I mean. http://vimeo.com/14221955

I was saying to another AA member recently how much I appreciated learning how to have huge amounts of fun doing incredibly mundane things. We had stopped to buy something trivial after a meeting in a very ordinary supermarket and ended up having a really pleasant and funny exchange with the cashier. It was a lot of fun, and this isn't the sort of place where people normally ! expect to have much fun. So after we left I was saying to the other AA how lucky we are to be able to have fun in such mundane circumstances. Perhaps this example gives you a better idea of what I mean about developing one's capacity to have fun every day. It's very important. I can't emphasize this enough. I can honestly say that you put your sobriety at grave risk (long term) if you do not learn how to have fun and enjoy your day ? whatever you happen to be doing. Being generally humourless, earnest or taking yourself far too seriously is a recipe for disaster. Even if it doesn't drive you to drink, it will make your sobriety utterly grim, and who wants that?

Anyway, I'd better go so hope you have a lovely weekend :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Codependency: Brainwashing myself with Byron Katie on repeat play

Im not sure what exactly ? codependency is, but if any of you see a great weakness in (what you think is) this area, which I would say is just about ! every alcoholic I meet :) .then I would strongly recommend this CD by Byron Katie. Its not the answer to everything, but its a damm fine start :)
You could do a lot worse, put it that way. Anyway I hate (!) to deflect newcomers from the meat and potatoes of the first 9 steps, so I include this as a post step 9 'side salad'. Meaning something that has the potential to enhance ones recovery once the (much !!!!! more important task of stopping oneself drinking oneself to death has been addressed. (!) So yeah, Im not holding this out as a substitute for the steps. No way :)

Basically I am learning a lot from listening to Katie Byron at the moment. It is taking a while to really sink in. But after many many ! many repeat plays, it is starting to seep into my bones. It is essentially a master-class in Acceptance with respect to our relations with others (among other things). and life in all its forms. I love learning new ways of practicing the principles in all my affairs, so this is my current focus. Will be something else in 6-12 months! I learn better by listening than by reading as it catches me off guard, so sneaks into my brain when I am not looking. You might prefer books. I LOVE hearing the voice. It brings the ? teaching home. Or ? something. Gawd knows. Works for me. Thats all I know :)

So, I thoroughly recommend brainwashing yourself by repeat play on loop on your ipod of 'I Need Your Love - Is That True?' audiobook by Byron Katie if you are struggling to accept life on lifes terms with relationship issues. Family, friends, significant others, you name it :) Its the same as AA (well thats how i see it) so ought not contradict any of the principles we are introduced to in AA. But if in doubt, ask another AA or your Sponsor as I would hate to confuse you. I usually recommend this material to people after the first 9 steps, as by then they understand the AA principles with sufficient clarity to be able to dovetail material like this seamlessly with their existing AA programme. If for some reason they are unclear as to what acceptance means in day to day practice (for instance) this might confuse them and look like something ? completely different to what AA advocates, which (in my opinion) would be counterproductive to their recovery. But then I prefer to err on the side of caution. If I were very confident that the Sponsee was able to grasp the 'similarities not the differences' between AA and Byron Katie I would make an exception, so this is not a blanket rule by any stretch. More a case by case basis. I see only similarities between the material on this CD and what AA suggests, so it presents no conflict for me. But there you go, each to their own. Just thought I would mention it in case anyone was interested.


Have a great Thursday :)

Friday, September 03, 2010

Go see the (free) Heart Shrine Relic Tour if you get the chance..

Relics are things that ? show up in the cremated remains of teachers from the Buddhist tradition. They are handed down to entrusted people who have donated some for a 500 ft bronze statue in India which is built to last 1000 years, where they will be housed to benefit others.
Its a rare sacred treat to be able to see them, (if you like that kind of thing) ..so ? if you are in London for the next three days, you can see the Heart Shrine Relic Tour at the Jamyang Buddhist Centre,The Old Courthouse, 43 Renfrew Road, London SE11 4NA tel: +44 (0) 20 7820 8787 fax: +44 (0) 20 7820 8605 email:admin@jamyang.co.uk

And f you live in the states, (or anywhere across the world really) the Heart Shrine Relic Tour will travel across the US, so check the Tour calender to see if it is passing near you :)

And regardless of all that :) Have a ! fabulous weekend :) Weather is soo nice today. Crisp and dazzlingly sunny. Gorgeous.