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.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

'Off duty' and 'On duty': Being able to HAVE A LAUGH when not 'Prescribing verbally'

When I'm delivering information to Sponsees/newcomers, I often have to adopt a 'No messing' tone as SO many people think drinking is a 'bit of a joke'. But I LOVE being 'off duty' and just having pointless fun. Once one of my Sponsees really 'gets' the gravity of the situation, only THEN do I start having a laugh with them and being foolish. The monks taught me a LOT about being playful. 'Childlike not childish' seemed to be the rule. Humor really helps, and I think JJ's and Daaves humor comes across very well in their blogs,

But it's a BIG responsibility to help other alcoholics by verbally depositing so much information in an AA context. As Sponsors we 'prescribe' via our speech. It's HARD work. If I wasn't playful and irreverent as often as I got the chance to be, I think all the mental deterioration I am exposed to on a regular basis would bring me down to that level. It would all just get FAR too heavy..

I get a bit annoyed that people who I relate to in an aa context (unless they know me pretty well) only get to see me in a more ''serious' tone. But when it comes to AA I am 'on duty'. I only 'relax' in AA with men and women who are around a long time and are pretty happy, but even then, conversations are pretty INTENSE by 'normal' standards. Lots of complex personal analysis of situations!

The moral of the story is that by and large, although I am ENDLESSLY fascinated by the conversations I have with other alcoholics new or long time, I COULDN'T have those kinds of conversations ALL the time (or even most of the time!) or I would go MAD! I NEED time out to 'recharge' and have FAR less draining and PLAYFUL conversations with NON alcoholics when I am 'off duty'. I can just HAVE FUN FOR FUN'S SAKE. In fact when I am at work, it feels like a 'holiday' compared to the intensity of the kind of work I do in an AA capacity. That's not good is it? Well I would say my job is a comfortable rut, so it is far from challenging. So perhaps its not THAT bad!

So really I do NOT have a 'sense of humor failure'. It might look like that sometimes in AA! But it's just because when I am in AA I am VERY focused on dishing out information instead of just 'kicking my heels', as I would when I DON'T have to contend with the possibility of the people I am talking to, possibly experiencing insanity and death as a direct consequence of untreated alcoholism. It kind of puts a damper of things, and changes the focus of the conversation!

It is the Quality of your Heart which determines the World you live in

"It is the quality of your heart which determines the world you live in.
We are all living in different worlds".
Sister Santacitta. Real World. Radio 4. Saturday 24th Feb 2007.

This was my favorite thing that Santacitta said in the Radio 4 programme.
So I just thought I'd post it here. I'm not even going to TRY to explain it as I think it just speaks for itself.
Have a fabulous Sunday y'all!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Sister Santacitta from Amaravati on Radio 4. The Real world. Radio 4. Saturday 5.45am

You can listen again to the programme here

She’s GREAT!! Its a 15min programme.
You have till next Saturday to listen to this programme as they only archive one week at a time.

Series in which monks or nuns leave their communities to mix in the real world. 5/5. Buddhist nun Sister Santacitta out and about on a celebrity fashion shoot.
This is a GREAT series!! monks and nuns on the radio!! Cool!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Does 'pain', or unfavorable circumstances, (past or present), put you at risk of drinking?

I have (former) Sponsees who have had VERY painful interpretations of their past, and 'heavy' baggage to process. Plus some very REAL 'challenges' in recovery!! (Not abuse issues, they belong to the 'drinking years!'}
'Painful' issues as regard to the distant drinking past can include, broken hearts, violence, physical and sexual abuse. Parental cruelty and neglect.
Current challenges can include career and scary financial issues. Serious illness, dealing with former abusive partners in separation wrangles. Anything really!
You name it! But they do NOT find themselves thinking of drinking. Even the ones with previously HEAVY drinking patterns.

I see 'pain' and the desire to drink as TWO SEPERATE THINGS.
One says a lot about the things you learned in step 4 and how you take inventory on a daily basis.
The other says a lot about now much you are helping newcomers. And weather you have REALLY learned how to help them.

I have often said to Sponsees who are CONVINCED their CIRCUMSTANCES mean they have no choice but to 'suffer', and mentally deteriorate..

"Some of us have taken VERY hard knocks to learn this truth: Job or no job, wife or no wife, we simply do NOT stop drinking so long as we place dependence upon other people (places and things) ahead of dependence on God" p98

"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." p14

"Practical experience shows that NOTHING will so much insure immunity from drinking as INTENSIVE work with other alcoholics." p89

"We CANNOT subscribe to the belief that this life is a vale of tears, though it once was just that for many of us." p113

"It is a design for living that WORKS in ROUGH going." p15

"We meet these conditions every day. An alcoholic who cannot meet them, still has an ALCOHOLIC MIND; there is something the matter with his spiritual status. His only chance for sobriety would be some place like the Greenland Ice Cap, and even there an Eskimo might turn up with a bottle of scotch and ruin everything!" p101

Monday, February 19, 2007

Quality NOT Quantity! Good intentions AND length of sobriety ALONE are NOT enough

Good intentions AND length of sobriety ALONE are NOT enough.
They are better than NOTHING but they do NOT remove (or diminish) th e short OR long term risk of untreated alcoholism getting the better of the suffering alcoholic (Sponsee) in question.

'We feel a man is unthinking when he says that sobriety is enough'. p82
'My friend was much more than inwardly reorganized. He was on different footing. His roots grasped a new soil.' p12
'Cessation of drinking is but the first step away from a highly strained, abnormal condition.' p122

This is why I always say Quality NOT quantity. I have met LOTS of long time AA's whose sobriety I DO NOT WANT. At ALL!

I've also seen VERY promising new people that I KNOW will have GREAT recovery in 10 years time provided they sustain the effort and thoroughness they are applying from the start.

I think it's REALLY difficult to tell unless you get to know a bit about them. Put it this way, I do NOT make 'favorable assumptions' about people based SOLELY on length of time sober. Just like I TRY (not often very successfully!!) not to make UNfavorable assumptions about people who are new around. I get it wrong ALL the time. All I know is that I DON"T know.

Another benefit of being sober a longer time is that its VERY hard to be idealistic or put ANYONE on a pedestal. I know too much about the terrible weakness we ALL have!!
I am DEEPLY Unimpressed by length of time ALONE. I look for completely different things.

Having said that, yes, THOSE WHO USE THEIR TIME IN AA TO GOOD EFFECT, ARE able to enjoy rewards of peace of mind that others, who by virtue of luck or choice, have Not made such 'skilful' use of heir time in AA. So time CAN be an advantage, BUT IT IS NOT AUTOMATICALLY AN ADVANTAGE.
Just like LACK of time CAN be an DISadvantage, BUT IT IS NOT AUTOMATICALLY A disADVANTAGE.

I really do think length of time ALONE means VERY LITTLE. There's a LOT more to it than that. In my opinion.

If you look in more 'structured' (as opposed to 'arbitrary') style AA meetings, generally you will find more accountable AA members.

I have to say, I am mostly VERY disappointed with what I hear about the general quality of sponsorship out there, even though a LOT of it is well meaning. Good intentions aren't enough unfortunately!

Unmanageability: Lateness and Flaky-ness

A VERY respected old timer in my old home group would send Sponsees home if they were TEN minutes late for a 2hour 5th step appointment, even when they had traveled from the other side of London.

Personally, I haven't done that, but I make it clear that I will not tolerate my time being wasted due to Sponsees flakyness. (Without GOOD reason) But then I'm from a highly structured 'school' (meaning home group and line of sponsorship) of AA.

I don't know ANY flaky sponsors amongst my former home group contemporaries. The ones I know are VERY reliable.
I do not know ANYONE with 'decent' sobriety who would cancel AFTER the time at which they had arranged to to the event. Ie 11am for a 8am booking!!

I have NEVER made an arrangement with a Sponsee and cancelled with short notice. If they cancel with me at short notice, I am NOT happy about it! Unless they have a VERY good reason.

I HATE being caught up in any sort of arrangements with flaky people. I avoid them like the plague. I consider it MY fault not theirs if I PUT MYSELF IN A POSITION TO BE LET DOWN BY OTHER PEOPLE REPEATEDLY.
Yes there are exceptions. When people are SO damaged that they lack the ability to focus enough to be relied upon. Eg newcomers. But by and large I choose to form friendships with people who CAN be relied upon. Within reason.

Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery:
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol-that our lives had become UNMANAGEABLE.
Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventure before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:
(a) That we were alcoholic and COULD NOT MANGE OUR OWN LIVES.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Cirrhosis in UK teenagers! The UK is in a RIGHT MESS with alcohol addiction.. BIG Opportunities for Service!

I read these quotes in the Independent

Doctors warn that conditions such as cirrhosis of the liver are now starting to appear in people who are still in their teens

British children were more at risk from alcohol, drugs and unsafe sex than any other wealthy country in the world.
UN Report

alcohol abuse accounted for more than 8,600 hospital admissions of under-16s last year - the highest ever and a 37 per cent rise on five years ago
The IoS investigation

"Hospital statistics grossly underestimate the number of young people drinking alcohol in ways that will damage their health. We are in danger of creating a generation permanently scarred by alcohol."
Professor Mark Bellis, the Government's leading public health adviser on alcohol.

This is SO depressing. There is SO much work to do in the UK in terms of addiction. If I had no reason to work or have an income, (which I don't) and had limitless amounts of cash to start some kind of project, (which I don't) I would be sorely tempted to TRY doing something that might have an impact on these depressing statistics. ?? I have no idea if anything like that would work, at all. The only thing I have learned is how to help people on a one to one basis, so I have a feeling that may be the limit of what I can do, but wouldn't it be nice to TRY to reduce the numbers of people drinking themselves to death? As it happens, I am pretty sure that I will NOT be doing that, as I think I have enough work of my own to TRY to get done in this lifetime, but these statistics do make you want to go full-tilt and try and do something about this problem. I'm just glad that my Sponsees know the importance of trying to help others, because that means there are a few more people out there looking out for the newcomer. Dear god, this country is an addiction MESS. You HAVE to view these things as OPPORTUNITIES FOR SERVICE, otherwise you would go mad!

Personally I would like to see warnings on alcohol JUST LIKE YOU SEE ON CIGARETTES. Perhaps trying to encourage legislation along those lines might help. Its the same battle with the alcohol corporate giants that we saw happening with the cigarette manufacturers. I should lobby my MP!! Or send a petition to Parliament or something.. Well it would be a nice thing to look in to, even if realistically I do not have any free time..

Here's some ideas off the top of my head.. (I've just made up the percentages as I have no idea what the real ones are)
Medical ones

Mental health ones

Behavioral and crime ones

Sexual ones

I think it would destroy the 'coolness' the alcohol branding over here, which I happen to think is INCREDIBLY sophisticated.

If these statistics are anything to go by, we have a HUGE responsibility in UK AA to carry a message THAT WORKS. Otherwise all these addicts will die of alcoholism when they come to AA looking for a solution. We have to be on top of our game, so that we STAY sober. So if you live in the UK, PLEASE STAY SOBER!! There are a LOT of 'future fellows of alcoholics anonymous' who will be relying on YOU in years to come. But seriously, I find that I become MUCH more effective (at just about everything), if I do it for UNSELFISH reasons. (That's my MOTIVE 'trick', but that's another post)

Anyway. I had better be off to the gym and library and such.
Anyway hope you are all having a FABULOUS Sunday!!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Dalai lama is going to do a talk in Houston Texas on May 1st 2007!! (And Massachusetts, May 9)

You LUCKY LUCKY Americans!!!
As far as I know he will not be attending AA meetings at the Lambada Centre, but I think he will be there in spirit!
(Tibetan monks LOVE anything to do with being helpful. It is seen as a MAJOR aspect of growth, so he's on the same page as all you service-junkies out there!)

I reckon he was SO impressed with the good vibrations in Houston Texas, he decided to visit. Perhaps he has been reading Daave's blog?

He is visiting LOADS of places near you. Check the teaching schedule for 2007.!!

Texas, May 1
Talk in Houston, Texas, USA on May 1: His Holiness will give a talk (topic and venue yet to be decided) at Rice University.  Website: www.rice.edu/dalailama

San Francisco, April 29
Public Talk in San Francisco, California, USA on April 29: His Holiness will give a public talk (topic and venue yet to be decided).  Website: www.dalailamabay2007.com

Wisconsin, May 3 & 4
Teaching in Madison, Wisconsin, USA on May 3 & 4: His Holiness will give teachings on tokchod donlekma and lamrim dudon and also confer the Green Tara Empowerment (doljang jenang) at the request of Geshe Lhundup Sopa of Deer Park Center. Contact: www.deerparkcenter.org

The People at Wisconsin are getting a HUGE treat! They get a GREEN TARA EMPOWERMENT!! How Cool! Green Tara is REALLY LOVELY. GREAT for women, and as far as I know I don't think he does this empowerment very much AT ALL. Well I haven't heard about any. You don't actually need an empowerment to use the mantra, but it's SUCH a cool being, that it would be very special to receive some sort of blessing in the presence of the dalai lama, as I'm sure it would reinforce whatever connection you already had. I LOVE the green Tara mantra! I'm tempted to head off to Wisconsin myself! I dare say I should be in the library or something instead though..

The Green Tara 'does' Protection: Here's a quote about her:
Your left hand gives us refuge, showing the Three Jewels;
It says, "You people who see a hundred dangers,
Don't be frightened-I shall swiftly save you!"
First Dalai Lama (1391-1474)

I have an explanatory old Green Tara postunder the Topic 'Protection' on the right hand side.

Chicago, May 6
Public Talk in Chicago, Illinois, USA on May 6: His Holiness will give a public talk on Finding Inner Peace in A World of Turmoil.  Contact: The Office of Tibet, 241 East 32 Street, NY, NY 10016 Tel: (212) 213-5010 Fax: (212) 779-9245 Email: otny@igc.org

Also he is TEACHING, not just TALKING on Chicago, May 6!!! Cool!!!

Massachusetts, May 9
Talk in Amherst, Massachusetts, USA on May 9: His Holiness will give a talk (topic and venue yet to be decided) at Smith College.  Website: www.smith.edu/dalailama

Feeling sorry for yourself? Shame you missed the Paul Abbott interview on Radio 4..

I heard this interview . on BBC Radio 4 yesterday (you have to click on the Desert Island Discs title to see it) and it made me think of a few things..

Ok, so he's still got issues, has chosen a 'godless' life and is reliant on medication and what have you, but there is still a LOT to learn from this story.
I am a sort of magpie, in that I am interested in Everyone's story in case there' something there that I can learn from it. There are many things in his story which are polar opposites to my coping mechanisms, but I find aspects of his story very interesting.

Firstly, it is his writing that 'saved' him. he says in the interview that he would die if he could not write every day.
I feel the same way about service as he does about writing. I simply cannot imagine not contributing in some small form every day. My soul would wither and die. Service keeps me afloat.

Secondly, It reminded me what 'beauty' there is in suffering. I know it sounds crazy, but I see great ''beauty' in suffering. I see something like that in Johnny Depp, and the LOVELY old actor in the film the Straight Story, and Thich Nhat Hanh and whatever the thing 'is' that I 'see' in them, it is very beautiful.
Anyway I saw an element of the same thing in this guy Paul Abbot. Obviously people have different ways they deal with their suffering, Thich Nhat Hanh has a more elegant way of dealing with it than Paul abbot does, but they have both got suffering written on their hearts.

Basically, what I'm saying is that I think terrible suffering really does bring us closer to god, like Mother Theresa used to say. I think people who have had terrible experiences AND USE THEM TO GOOD EFFECT, have an opportunity to 'grow along spiritual lines' that other people with 'easier' lives simply do not have. Its like god gave you a bigger set of weights in the gym to work with, and as a result, you have stronger spiritual muscles.All I know is that I am often drawn to people who have had really difficult experiences, and I can feel there is something lacking when I am with people who haven't had tough things. Don't get me wrong, I find that EVERYONE has a story that would break your heart, but I'm not talking about those.
Basically, it is a blessing to have terrible thing happen, as it means we are more likely to need to find solutions, and I think it makes people more attractive.

There was loads of other interesting stuff, his constructive use of anger etc, but I won't mention them all as it would just take too long.

It's such a pain but I've just found out you can't listen to this online!!
The extra bits are, He hated being with his family so much, he ASKED to be taken into care, but was refused. He was brutally raped at 14 and then tried to kill himself by jumping off a multi storey car park, but instead managed to break a leg. Because there was nobody he could talk to, he was unable to talk about the rape till he was married at 28. He still thinks about suicide regularly because he is bi polar, but his love for his family and kids keeps him going. He is TOTALLY in love with his wife of 18yrs and loves her more as time goes on. His kids are in GREAT shape, and one is a GREAT drummer. I found the story heartbreaking AND heartwarming. He HAS to write every day. It is his lifeline. By pure fluke, he managed to write for radio, otherwise god knows what would have happened to him. He chose some GREAT tracks as well. The Roberta Flack one, was in reference to his wife and kids which was very moving.

From the Radio 4 webpage.
"He was driven to write as a response to the chaotic and traumatic childhood he’d suffered. One of eight children, both parents had left the family home by the time he was eleven, leaving his older sister to bring them up. They had a near feral existence, and lived, says Paul, like rats. At fifteen he attempted suicide and ended up in a psychiatric ward. After that, without wanting to or really being aware it was happening, he wrote as a way of letting out the rage he felt inside him."

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Valentines day thoughts from Jonathan Cainer

"Don't, today, get caught up in a fantasy that is being peddled by the greeting card industry and the international association of florists. Focus on what's real and you will get what you really need."
Jonathan Cainer

I'm not an advocate of any social ritual (for the sake of it) , and valentines day is no exception. I know it sounds like 'Bah humbug', but I'm glad Jonathan 'agrees' with me on this one.
So many of these things are consumer driven and have very little to do with 'what is invisible to the eye' as in the quote..

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

There are some funny anti-valentine websites out there, but I do not want to feed your cynicism at this point so I won't link them here.
Happy Wednesday!

Comedy is VERY useful in recovery. Harry Hill clip

I just love 'Harry Hills TV Burp' programme.

I've added some British TV comedy links from Utube and what have you of stuff I like watching. Comedy is very subjective, so you may find it not funny at all, but I'm just saying that comedy has an important place in recovery because it teaches me to NOT TAKE MYSELF SO SERIOUSLY.
It teaches me to have a laugh, lighten up. It teaches me to have a sense of humor, helps me be witty. It teaches me how to be funny and say funny things to people that makes them laugh.
One of my 'service' things is that I will make people laugh if I think they are looking a bit fed up, or glum. Comedy had helped me a LOT in this. If you are a bit on the glum side, I recommend comedy of some sort on a regular basis.

Like I said before I have stuck some links on the right hand sidebar under 'funny', as a starting point. But I am sure you will find stuff that is more suited to your own comedy preferences if you look around. The ones I've listed are some of the ones I love. They're great to watch if I'm getting a bit moody. Music works the same way too.

I'm very mentally preoccupied with study and what have you lately, My mind is not really on recovery subjects at the moment! so that's why not so many post and visits, but hope you are all well! I'm not very good at thinking of two things at the same time. My mind is either in study gear or 'recovery' gear. At the moment I am pretty preoccupied my new doctrines, so they are constantly turning over in my mind. I still find myself thinking about seemingly complex recovery things from time to time, but by and large, my mind is 'booked' rumbling over this new stuff I'm learning. That's why there's fewer posts. It is like discovering a whole new country or something. Very exciting!
Anyway, thanks again for all your comments and everything, and sorry for not paying so many visits and all that, but I have a feeling I will be pretty busy till June or so. Who knows? If my mind changes gear slightly back into recovery during this busy period I'll post as and when.
In the meantime, hope you are being little recovery ninjas out there! Working a DAMM fine programme!

'Turning the mind around' Series of five Wednesday talks at the Jamyang Centre

Starts today!
Turning the Mind Around. All levels.
Wednesdays 7.30pm. Suggested donation £7/£4

14th, 21st, 28th February, and 7th, 21st March

(Explanatory blurb from the Jamyang website)
We seek happiness all the time and yet rarely find it. This is because we are looking in the wrong places. By turning the mind around to see things in a more realistic way we can be freer, lighter and happier, and mind training or thought transformation practices teach us to do just that. Seemingly simple in concept, yet profound and difficult to actualise, they are revolutionary and desperately needed in a world being destroyed by selfish concern. Geshe Tashi will be using the text The Blade Wheel of Mind Transformation.

ISOLATION creates 'Car Crash TV Mind': Default leaning towards Morbid preoccupation, Despair, Bleakness, Pessimism and general Negativity

The Fast Show. 'Black' sketch. or those of you that didnt see the fast show series, this poor guy 'goes off on one' EVERY week, after the work 'black' comes into the conversation..

Heres another one. They all end up pretty much the same way!

I LOVE this comedy, but I also find it a useful tool for describing the way the alcoholic mind CAN operate WHEN LEFT TO IT'S OWN DEVICES. When I meet AA's who are being TERRIBLY morbid and GRIM, in my mind's eye, they remind me of the character in this sketch. We ALL have this to some degree, it's HOW WE HANDLE THIS TENDENCY THAT COUNTS. If you KNOW about it, and can see it from a mile off, you can nip it in the bud before it 'takes over'. This sketch show character helps me see the tendency more clearly, giving me more awareness, and therefore strengthening my position, in the battle with all these weird parts of the mind!
Some poor sods in AA are really LIVING this character though. There is quite a lot ! of negativity in AA! Thankfully I try to stick with positive people when I am not doing service.

LEFT TO OUR OWN DEVICES... We end up like the list below!
We do this mainly by ISOLATION in some form. Either lack of social contact, or not HUMBLING ONESELF on a REGULAR basis by CONFIDING in one's fellow man for life's INEVITABLE problems of one sort or another. (In a CONSIDERATE fashion of course! The aim is NOT to bore them to death!)
Or you can 'isolate in a crowd', meaning you have contact with people but you are not being HONEST with other human beings who could help you. Problems build up, or just SEEM to become overwhelming and BIG DEAL.
I'm always AMAZED at how even SMALL 'trivial' social contact (if approached from the point of view of service) COMPLETEY alters my mindset if I am becoming negatively preoccupied. Such a SMALL price (of time and effort) for such a BIG return!
You do NOT need to practice these things in an AA context. I have learned how to do ALL of the above, OUTSIDE AA. This means I can practice my programme wherever I go. Which is useful, if I am busy.

Unless we 'artificially' prompt our minds into POSITIVITY, using either meetings, newcomers, service, 'constant thought of others', contact with step 11 people, ON A REGULAR BASIS
Our minds default to..

Doom and gloom

Wagnerian angst
Three act tosca
Morbid preoccupation

Morbid preoccupation

Big GAY Drama Queen. (Get out the big feather Boa and strike a 'tortured' pose!)
BIG Deal

Out of balance. Tipping toward INDULGENCE
Staring into space
Paralyzed by 'overwhelm'. Grind to halt.
Dwelling on 'the problem'

I call this 'Car crash TV mind'.

There is a sort of 'gravitational pull' towards NEGATIVITY, if the mind does not get actively 'trained' towards solution-based problem solving (by using meetings, service, reading or listening to programme stuff outside meetings etc)
Basically we are social animals. We were not designed to be on our own for very long. And certainly not designed to be preoccupied with self or 'conceal ourselves' in a crowd of fellow men.
The only way life 'works' is if my motive is to make a contribution in my activities (including the mundane ones) and seeking out other human beings to be kind to and reach out to help or be helped, (risking rejection in the process.) Trying to help others is actually very vulnerable, because you risk rejection. Well that's what I find. Vulnerability makes me more 'porous' and 'connects' me to other human beings even when I don't disclose a ton of personal details. As long as I am trying to help others along the way, (in ALL my affairs, not just in aa affairs), I am never alone.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

What does largely SUPRESSED Anger look like in women? 'Tightness'

I just wanted to describe this thing that I see all the time. Its what I call one of my 'earmarks' for identifying primary weaknesses in people. I NEED to make an accurate assessment of the things that are at the forefront of each Sponsees illness. They are all different. They usually fall into one of three 'neurosis'. Either Anger is the main player, Sadness, or Fear. That's it! There is other stuff that can be a roadblock, (like arrogance, or laziness, or inertia etc etc. the list is endless! But I quite like being able to identify the predominant 'color' of the emotion. I call it 'the main player'.

Anyway, I just think this one is REALLY easy to spot. Almost in an instant, so I thought I'd share it with you. There are some exceptions but I'm not going to explain that here as I don't want this to take too long!

Basically this is the way I 'see' anger in women
There is something a little bit FEROCIOUS about them, even when they are saying NOTHING. (I know someone like this and even though she never expresses her judgment OPENLY, you FEEL her wrath!!)
Hard faced. I think you can see a LOT of tension in the face, and this is why we have the phrase 'hard faced'.
Driven. (Describing more of a tension more than a HEALTHY desire to improve oneself.)

As far as MY interpretation goes, these OUTWARD signs, are indicative of an INNER quite FEIRCE thought pattern, containing a lot of JUDEMENTAL thoughts about people, places and things.
There is also a FRUSTRATED (usually suppressed) desire to CONTROL. No wonder these people are angry!!
It saves you a LOT of bother, if you are able to spot these things from the off, as NOBODY LIKES TO BROADCAST THEIR 'emotional cripple' status. No siree!! They keep these things to themselves!!, and then you only find out about them later on when you get to spend time with them in person.

This is a useful 'trick' for guys who are looking to get involved with women. AVOID THE ONES THAT LOOK LIKE THIS. Only AFTER you get to know them, and you have to some extent 'fallen' for them, will you find out that they are actually quite angry people, and there is a biting presence of resentment burning underneath their 'controlled' exterior.

Also don't assume that this quality has ANYTHING to do with the length of time people are sober. It doesn't.
I always say to Sponsees QUALITY NOT QUANTITY. Look for hallmarks of EXCELLENCE, NOT length of time around!! The two do not always correlate. At all!!

Also I see the ABSENCE of anger in women as what I call 'SOFT'
Relaxed. Physically relaxed.
Easy going
No 'tightness'

Tightness is just another word for uptight, but I thought I'd elaborate on this 'identifying characteristic so that you can see it as clearly as I do.

Don't think I resent these people. Often they can have other very redeeming qualities, but I confess, that apart from Sponsees, I choose not to spend time with these types of women in the main, unless I HAVE to.
There you go!! Sorry if any of you ladies reading this see yourselves in this description!! If it's any consolation I have seen obedient Sponsees with very embittered mindsets REALLY 'soften' over time with a bit of work. And I myself! Have this tendency, but I like to think that my awareness of it has reduced it to a 'puppy'. It rears its ugly head from time to time, but I do NOT allow it free expression!

Don't get me wrong. ALL women have anger in some form. The very BEST of us can, and DO have our 'moments' when the best we can do is go off and count to 10!

But I'm talking about something else here. The women who display THESE CHARACTERISTICS mentioned above are TROUBLE, insofar as their anger will cause you pain and problems should you choose to be their friend or business partner. There will be RANCOUR, HARSHNESS, BITTERNESS, BLAME, JUDGEMENT, SUPERIORITY, SARCASM, ATTACKING COMMENTS AND DIGS, LOOKING DOWN THEIR NOSE AT YOU, LASHING OUT, CRUEL WORDS, INABILITY TO TAKE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILTY.
You will become the 'BAD GUY'. The SCAPEGOAT for their PAINFUL REACTION TO LIFE.
These are all examples of 'acted out' anger. There may also be PHYSICAL ATTACK with these women. Could be fairly inadequate as women are in the main much weaker than men, but they may resort to some sort of attempted physical assault. If you are a guy or family member.
These people have NO IDEA that happiness IS AN INSIDE JOB.
So stay away!! Sponsor them, but not much more..

There is another LESS SUPRESSED version of female anger, the 'Jade Goody' model I shall call it!! This is the ZERO SUPRESSION, ZERO IMPULSE CONTROLLED model, and is much more common amongst LESS EDUCATED or socialized people.
I would normally associate this with a MALE model of anger, but it is beming increasingly more common amongst women. But that's another post!

Oh well. Never mind eh? Hope this helps somebody out there!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Admitting defeat: Relationships that JUST AREN"T WORKING

I think that it's REALLY hard to admit defeat with something like that. Been there! Done that!!! It brings up all sorts of desperation and fear of being alone. Yuk!! Its not easy. All I can tell you from my own experience, is that the longer you 'stay' with something that ISN'T WORKING, the MORE pain there is to deal with when you finally do separate. Being rational and objective isn't even SLIGHTLY easy in these matters. but life has a way of 'educating' us (!!!) into submission. 'Resistance is futile' as they say. We have two choices, either we capitulate to the wisdom of our feelings, or we are 'bludgeoned into humility by pain and unremitting suffering'. Bleh!
'Simple but not easy' Too bloody right!

Related quote-things:
'Pain isn't caused by change, it's cause by RESISTANCE to change.'
'We don't make friends, we take hostages'
Wishful thinking. Deluded optimism.

There IS, on the other hand a time when perseverance IS called for, but I don't really want to mention it here because the people who are 'flogging a dead horse' will grab onto that (in a heartbeat!) as a lame excuse for dragging out the death throes EVEN LONGER.
By the way In all HEALTHY relationships, there will be 'rough edges', this is NOT what I'm talking about here..

This is more for the 'love addicts' out there who are chasing the 'love avoiders'. We are TERRIBLY REACTIVE, and that means when someone distances themselves in some from or other, our KNEE JERK reaction, is to TAKE THEM HOSTAGE, in some form or other.
It is ALSO true, that if someone is ALL OVER US like a SUGARY RASH, we will (very reactively) be REPELLED, and want to LEAVE asap!!

Oh yes, If you want to get in touch with your 'inner misguided fool', just look back at the way you have behaved with the people you formed relationships with! It's VERY humbling!!! Relationships do NOT show us in our most flattering light! They require a LOT of ego puncturing admissions to work. Well I think so anyway. But then I think most of life is like that really. But in relationships is is definitely more painfully obvious!!

Basically if you fancy a bit of ego puncturing, go get yourself a relationship! Fancy seeing the limits of your patience, tolerance, and understanding? A relationship will do that for you! Want to see how mean spirited you are when push comes to shove? You guessed it! Want to see yourself possess every shade of desperation, craving, insecurity, and neurosis? Yep. Go get yourself a relationship! Want to see some REALLY BAD decision making? Etc etc..
I think the best we can hope for is 'restraint of tongue and pen' when we experience 'moments' of irrationality and desperate feelings. It would be nice to be 'cured' of these moments of weirdness, but I do not expect that to happen somehow!

Relationships are not for pansies! That's why they say leave it till after step 9. It is the home of hot headed irrationality and neediness. Lovely!! Plus we all get to act like spoilt children, trying to get our own way and failing! I feel sorry for the poor bastard whose inventory we take!
They are GREAT things, as tools for growth, but I would NOT describe them as EASY, that's for sure.. All relationships require 'difficult conversations' from time to time. Alkies DO NOT like those!

Some people 'coast' in a comfortable, habitual rut, but that doesn't count! That might FEEL 'easy', but I don't believe that, that IS really easy. Not in the long run. Some people do manage to do that though. It's not what I want though. The way I understand it anyway. I have 'coasted' myself in the past, but, it didn't work out.

I think 'normal' non alcoholics are occasionally VERY GENEROUS and UNTROUBLED, and can make life every easy for us if we get involved with them, but I don't think even the most service-orientated amongst us (meaning alkies) can say we have the same level of generosity when push comes to shove. We get all reactive and twisted inside, even if our CONDUCT is 'clean'. Who knows? as I can only see it from the alcoholic point of view, but I DO wonder sometimes what cool NON alcoholics see in us! That's my low self esteem talking there. Yes I DO still have it! I just accept these things as part of the emotional landscape. It's not what comes into my head that's important, its the way I DEAL with them. 'Act better than you feel' and all that..

The truth WILL set you free. Not MIGHT set you free

I always say 'The truth will set you free'.
(I know its' not original, but I DO end up saying it quite a lot to people!)

So, the 'rule' is, if it doesn't feel 'free', then it simply just ISN'T the 'truth'.
Well that's how I see it anyway.

That explains also why it is 'gods will' for us to be 'happy joyous and FREE'.
I LOVE the word 'free' as a description of an inner condition. If I REALLY feel 'free' inside myself, then I ALWAYS feel happy and joyous at the same time. I cannot imagine feeling 'free' inside myself and NOT feeling 'happy and joyous' at the same time.
Free (to me) describes the feeling I have when I accept things as they are without needing to change them. Its actually hard to describe what it feels like inside, but its a really LOVELY feeling. I am not bound to any particular outcome, there is a feeling of no obstruction, no roadblock, no tangle, no Gordian knot!
Like when Bill describes his 'spiritual awakening'
"I felt lifted up, as though the great clean wind of a mountain top blew through and through." (from Bills' story in the Big Book)

That sort of describes what 'free' feels like. Its a lovely emotion, and I do not expect to be able to do it justice by trying to describe it in words. But it is a very godly thing. And tells us we are on track.

Another way I think of what the 'free' feeling is, is being like the way people say they feel when they have near death experiences or out of body experiences. You know when people have road accidents or heart attacks and find themselves looking down at their body DISPASSIONATELY and AT PEACE whilst the ambulance people attend to the body, or while the surgeon performs life saving surgery? Well that is sort of how I see what 'free' means.

It's the absence of drama, and self will. No controlling tendency, and a sense of peace in an otherwise traumatic set of conditions.
(By the way there is a GREAT chapter on near death experiences in the book 'The Tibetan Book of living and Dying' by Sogyal Rinpoche.)

I suppose what I'm saying is that 'free' for me, means feeling UNATTACHED to people, places, and things, and outcomes.

I would say the OPPOSITE of 'free' would be what I call CONTRACTION, which is another way of saying resentment. All resentment creates (to some degree) a 'knot' of anxiety inside, and Buddhists often refer to these emotional imbalances as 'contraction'. BAD feelings do not feel 'free', they feel 'contracted', 'knotty', 'stuck'. All 'bad' feelings are resentments in some form. (as far as I am concerned anyway). 'Free' is like saying 'no resentment'.

So anything that DOESN'T feel like that, is JUST NOT TRUE. (Based on my understanding of that statement)
It doesn't mean I am NOT experiencing stuff that doesn't feel 'free', it just means that the beliefs that are 'propping up' those feelings are DELUSION. They are not 'right view'. They are INCORRECT assessments of reality. If I COULD see the 'truth' (or reality) it would NOT feel like that.

For me the 'truth' is what people (say they) experience when they die, the blissful infinite ?? condition of light, you hear people talking about. I've never had one (that I am aware of) but I have always LOVED the way people describe that 'place'. The glimpses of 'grace' that I get from talking to my higher power and trying to be of service give me a CLUE as to how good it could feel to connect with that 'place' permanently.
Personally I don't think ANYONE knows the truth really, except 'god', whatever 'god' is. There's no point trying to figure it out, but the GOOD news is that even if we have NO CLUE what the 'truth' is, we can STILL 'become more like' our higher power, because..

You MOVE TOWARDS, and BECOME LIKE, THAT WHICH YOU THINK ABOUT, whether it is good for you, or bad for you

So rather than waste time trying to figure out the impossible (ie the 'truth'), I just use my feelings to guide me to what feels free. The freer I feel, the closer I am to the 'truth'. The more 'attached' and 'un-free' I feel, the more I am in DELUSION.
This always cheers me up when I am tangled up in some unhappy condition! Some part of me KNOWS that the condition I am feeling is NOT reality. It is a 'twisted' version of reality. 'Twisted' by me and my self will!

Bloody ell! Isn't it weird that the thoughts and reasoning we take for granted after a while of being in recovery, are just so weird! We are funny animals. I think It's funny that our ordinary daily lives are permeated by this sort of reasoning. Who'd have thought eh? It's a funny old world! If I didn't have this information, I just couldn't function. I would be overwhelmed! Its funny that we need this weird esoteric s**t, just to function on a most basic level, and get out of bed in the morning. Weird. No wonder non recovering people find us a bit odd! The longer I am around, the more embarrassed I am to explain what I really think about things, because a lot of it sounds a bit weird. Oh well. At least my Sponsees understand where I'm coming from! I love the simple practical suggestions too though, but this esoteric 'stuff' plays an integral part in my mundane daily tasks as well.

4 week Karma Class at the Jamyang Centre. Starts Wed 17th Jan

This looks good so I thought I'd post it if anyone fancies going..

Karma - looking at cause and effect
17, 24, 31 January, 7 February
Wednesdays 7.30pm
suggested donation £7/£4

(blurb from the Jamyang webpage. See links menu on right hand side)
Karma is a fundamental Buddhist concept, and in this very fragile world, this understanding and practice will be very powerful, individually and collectively. Our individual world as well as the world community is constantly evolving, mainly due to our actions. It is very important for the Buddhist practitioner to know the processes of Karma, and how our actions effect not just the individual but also the worldwide community

The Teacher
Geshe TashiTsering has been the resident teacher at Jamyang since 1994. Born in Tibet, he studied for the Lharampa Geshe degree (the equivalent of a PhD) at Sera-mey Monastic University in South India, gaining the highest marks possible at every level of the sixteen-year course. He teaches in English and is renowned for the warmth, clarity and humour with which he makes complex subjects accessible to Western students.

Geshe Tashi is the creator of the FPMT’s Foundation of Buddhist Thought, a two-year course on the basics of Tibetan Buddhism and author of The Four Noble Truths and Buddhist Psychology. He also teaches widely in the UK, Europe and elsewhere.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Self Talk: Saying NASTY things to ourselves

Self critical thoughts are themselves just a habit. All I know is it is MUCH harder to say nasty things to myself than it was before. But I can still do it. Again, I'm never really sure if these things occur LESS, or I have just stopped making a BIG DEAL of them. Either way, they just don't feature on my 'radar like they used to.
I can still in a careless moment be shocked at an inconsiderate, cruel thought I have had about myself though. In fact I think I am probably MUCH more sensitive to them now, (which is probably why I do them less), they are so cruel sometimes I weep, when I realize how NASTY some of those commenting thoughts can be. I would never in a MILLION years think of speaking to another person like that, so I find it quite shocking when it happens. I think it's just SO much much easier to make truly wounding digs at oneself simply because we have so much personal information at our disposal which we can use as ammunition. I think my cruel streak, knows it has no outlet in the 'real world', but sort of thinks it can 'get away' with saying cruel, personal, punishing things to myself. That's the 'shadow' as I call it, and bits of anger left rumbling around the system, looking for expression of some sort I reckon. If you don't deal with this stuff, it deals with you!

In my case I would say that in the same way that people curse or swear when they are frustrated and exasperated, that these callous unkind comments I hear myself saying to myself sometimes, are a way of 'smashing something up' like you see people do in films when they are angry. You know when they fling everything off the desk? Well outwardly, all my roads of harmful expression are blocked. Also the type of personal work that brings about this kind of exasperation, is 'invisible to the eye'. M 'battles' are nearly always personal and internal. So I think the 'invisible' source of the 'battles' PLUS the fact that all roads of negative self expression are BLOCKED, means that my carelessness tends to result in this inner 'flinging' of deliberately unkind words toward myself. Realizing the error of my ways can be terribly sad, once you grow a conscience!

The weird thing is, is that I do it so much LESS than I did it before, but I just never really noticed it before. It seemed 'normal' and didn't even register. Which is sad too. But most of us are TERRIBLY TERRIBLY UNCONCIOUS. Its SHOCKING seeing this, the longer you are sober and the more you see about how you actually think, to see how crappy our habitual thinking can be. I started to se how crazy it was when I first started going on retreats, but now I have a much more heartfelt appreciation of how mean and cruel some of those thought are, so it impacts on me more.