- An Irish Friend of Bill
- 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, August 27, 2010
Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail. p89 Big Book. Chapter 7 Working with others.
They knew they must help other alcoholics if they would remain sober. p159 Big Book.
Particularly it was it imperative to work with others as he had worked with me. Faith without works was dead, he said. p14 Big Book.
Our very lives, as ex-problem drinkers, depend upon our constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs. p20 Big Book.
If an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he could NOT survive the CERTAIN trials and low spots ahead. p15 Big Book.
Helping others is the foundation stone of your recovery." p97 Big Book
A kindly act once in a while isn’t enough. You have to act the Good Samaritan every day, if need be." p97 Big Book.
To be vital, faith must be accompanied by self sacrifice and unselfish, constructive action. p93 Big Book
Happy in their release, and constantly thinking how they might present their discovery to some newcomer" p158 Big Book
But what does AA mean by 'intensive work' with other alcoholics? Presumably the work involved in carrying the message of how precisely to recover (pxXIII) to the alcoholic who still suffers.
Also, the conditions under which this 'intensive work' take place most effectively are defined very explicitly on page 18;
these are the conditions we have found most effective.
he obviously knows what he is talking about;
his whole deportment shouts at the new prospect that he is a man with a real answer;
no attitude of Holier Than Thou;
nothing whatever except the sincere desire to be helpful;
no fees to pay;
no axes to grind;
no people to please and;
no lectures to be endured.
So basically, the experience of the first hundred members would seem to be that nothing insures immunity from drinking as much as 'intensive work' with other alcoholics (p89 Big Book) and this 'intensive work' is performed most effectively under the 8 conditions listed on page 18. Easy!
It is very easy to complicate the process of recovery, and make very ? complicated analyses of why certain people relapse and why certain people don't relapse.
Rather than get sidetracked by the debating society line of thinking, I prefer to stick to what I have observed first hand keeps people sober in meetings. All I know, is that I have yet to meet an alcoholic who consistently (!) makes helping newcomers their priority who has relapsed. Thats what attracted me to it in the first place. Yes I know some members 'two-step' (meaning they practice only step one and 12, and skip the rest inbetween) but I mean in conjunction with completing the first 9 steps. I just haven't met them. All the people I meet who consistently focus on, and assist newcomers insofar as helping them stay sober using the programme, ..all stay sober. (as opposed to consistently using AA as a social club, or a place to find a husband, friends or a job or ? whatever..)
Its probably the most consistent thing I've done in AA. The other stuff was presented to me by old timers as a sort of 'side salad'. Optional in the sense that I didn't need to do it straight away or every day, whereas helping others was presented to me as mandatory daily fare right from the beginning. I started when I was very very new. Less than ? 3 months. Its helped me !!!!! tremendously so I always mention it to people who are concerned that they might drink, or are having thoughts about drinking. or for whom drinking still seems appealing. I almost feel guilty saying it, but I literally never think about drinking. But then I help newcomers a LOT. Always have. and I am sure that is why. I really enjoy it now, but I wouldn't say it is ever easy. Its a very demanding workout, but feels great once you get into the swing of it.
I'm not saying it's easy, all I'm saying it's extraordinarily rewarding when you throw yourself into it unconditionally. Plus you don't have to worry about drinking. Well that's what I find.
So, next time you meet somebody who has relapsed, (at ? some point) ask them how many AA newcomers they spoke to, or tried to help in the 7 days preceding their relapse. Two weeks beforehand?
Or how often they helped newcomers before they relapsed. Once a week? Once a month? Every day?
Or ask them which step they were working at the time of their relapse.
If you have no attitude of holier than thou, and have nothing whatever except a sincere desire to be helpful, (page 18) then you can ask these questions without fear of harming the other person. Well thats what I find.
Anyway just thought I would mention that, as I have always been very interested in the conditions preceding a relapse. And the conditions that make people feel very free, and unburdened. Not because I have an interest in the matter per se, but because I have a desire to be helpful, and being informed as to what leads to relapse allows me to be more effective in helping others.
Informed decisions are better than uninformed decisions in my experience. So I try to understand the conditions as best I can, knowing that I may never really understand it, but there's no harm in trying to make sense of it.
Thanks for taking the time to read this :) and I hope you have a !!! fabulous weekend :)
Thursday, August 26, 2010
It feel like it's time for a laugh :) so here's some Fascinating Aida :) This song is called cheap flights. (They use the word 'fek' just so you know). For US readers, the blonde has a brilliantly accurate rendition of a Southern Irish accent. I rarely find such convincing accents on TV or radio.
They have another funny track called dogging which is ! hilarious. for some reason I only discovered fascinating aida in the last week or so, which is unusual as I used to go to a lot of comedy clubs, so I'm surprised their name never came up.
Also the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britan does a great version of 'Shaft' which I only discovered a ? year or so ago.
So yes, a little light relief is always a good idea. I also really like the Sassy Gay Friend, but NOS gets the credit for pointing that one out to me :) I LOVE the sassy gay friend :) so thank you NOS for that top tip :)
Also Snatch Wars is very funny (but has lots of swearing) based on the character 'Brick Top' in Guy Ritchie's film Snatch. Very UK humor. May not appeal to the US visitors.
But seriously. I think having a laugh is very !! important and is part of the reason I spent a few years going to comedy clubs.
Because I think we all have a tendency to take ourselves far !! too seriously, comedy clubs can be very useful in teaching us how to lighten up. And also just providing us with something to chuckle about later on. I also like being (appropriately) irreverent in conversation as a way of making people laugh, but I'm sure that came from attending comedy clubs. People say they think I'm funny, (when I'm not on life and death AA conversational territory) and I am sure this has a lot to do with having spent years watching live acts. It becomes much easier to use humor in conversation when you have observed comedy acts developing their own styles for a couple of years. I love Harry hills TV Burp, but I don't know who the new talent is on the comedy scene nowadays. Youtube has changed everything, so loads of new material is on there.
Right well. I'd better go off and do some work. (!)
Have a great Thursday :)
Monday, August 23, 2010
I had this conversation recently with someone who was going through a difficult time and was finding it difficult to tolerate restless irritable and discontented people, because they were just too draining for her. Rather than say to her “stick with the winners” I said something along the lines of - “make it your business to identify and locate the people at work, family, and AA meetings who are the least restless irritable and discontent. Whoever ? those people turn out to be, those are the people that you ought to be affiliating yourself with during this difficult period. When things get back to normal and everything feels fine, then by all means strike up conversations with people you thoroughly dislike, or who have zero social skills or impulse control. But in the meantime put your recovery first. Put principles before personalities. Recovery comes first. Everything else comes 2nd. Friendships come 2nd. Family comes 2nd. Obligations come 2nd. Within reason. i.e. do not use this AA principal as an excuse to abandon basic common sense. (When in doubt, ask your sponsor or another alcoholic first.)
When I was new in recovery, I had a persistently fragile emotional condition that was easily affected by detrimental or negative influences, so I had no choice but to practice “principles before personalities” in order to have some composure and clarity. So out of necessity I had to learn this AA lesson very early on. I often met people who I thought I had something in common with, or whose sense of humour I liked better than others, but because I was so emotionally fragile I had to put those things to one side and focus instead on who seemed the most comfortable and happy in any given meeting.
Their age, social background, level of professionalism, likes and dislikes were just not important. What mattered was how comfortable they were in their own skin.
I knew at the time that what I was practicing was the notion of “sticking with the winners” but because so many people have difficulty with that expression, I’m explaining it a slightly different way here. People often misinterpret this slogan to mean that it infers that the person who is “sticking with the winners” is making a judgment about the people they are choosing not to affiliate themselves with.
That has not been my experience. What I found, and still find, is that when I choose to gravitate toward people who are the least restless irritable and discontent, this is often a very ego puncturing proposition, because it sidesteps my intellect and ideas about who I like or who I agree with, and instead focuses on the conduct of others. Actions speak much louder than words. Talk is cheap. AA is full of people who like to talk, but may not also like to do the next right thing, or simply haven't learned the importance of moral restraint. “Restraint of tongue and pen” and are therefore very heedless.
I can easily form attachments or friendships to people who are likable but at the same time have destructive or heedless behaviours, which cause rough edges one way and another when I'm in conversation with them. Their lack of moral restraint, or heedlessness, is a sort of loose cannon, which can go off at any time. Friendships with people like this are problematic if I spend much time with them or have quite a few conversations with them. I prefer to form friendships with people who understand how not to be heedless. People who have impulse control and are considerate in their speech and action. Ultimately I find that the people whose actions are the most considerate are the people who are also the least restless irritable and discontent. My experience reflects the experience in the big book insofar as the extent to which I am able to “think of other people's needs and how I can help meet them”, is the extent to which I am “freed from the bondage of self”, and are therefore able to understand the meaning of what it is to be “happy joyous and free”.
Basically I am free to the extent that I am not self obsessed.
So if you are going through a disturbed patch, and are wondering who can show your way out of the mental and emotional disturbance. Simply look around you in the meeting and attempt to identify the least restless irritable and discontent person. That is the person most qualified to teach you how to reduce your discomfort. (This rule does not apply if they are glazed over and doped up to the eyeballs with 101 prescribed mind altering drugs!). When I say the least restless irritable and discontent, I mean without the numbing effects of mind altering drugs. (!)
I look for people with a twinkle in their eye, and inner and outer steadiness.
Using this method has always worked for me. It has guided me to some of the most wonderful AA meetings, AA members and people outside AA, so I'm very grateful that AA taught me this lesson.
So I hope you find it useful if you didn't already know about this one :)
Have a lovely Monday, wherever you are :)