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.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Hope I die before I get old: The Zimmers

I think I want to adopt these guys! Old people are pretty cute.
Heres some blurb about the Zimmers posted on you tube:

The oldest and greatest rock band in the world - meet The Zimmers and their amazing cover of The Who's "My Generation".
Lead singer Alf is 90 - it's quite something when he sings "I hope I die before I get old". And he's not the oldest - there are 99 and 100-year-olds in the band!
The Zimmers will feature in a BBC TV documentary being aired in May 2007. Documentary-maker Tim Samuels has been all over Britain recruiting isolated and lonely old people - those who can't leave their flats or who are stuck in rubbish care homes.
The finale of the show is this group of lonely old people coming together to stick it back to the society that's cast them aside - by forming a rock troupe and trying to storm into the pop charts.
Some massive names from the pop world have thrown their weight behind The Zimmers... The song is produced by Mike Hedges (U2, Dido, Cure), the video shot by Geoff Wonfor (Band Aid, Beatles Anthology), and it was recorded in the legendary Beatles studio 2 at Abbey Road.
Look out for the single being released from May 21 - with proceeds going to a good cause.
And check out more photos and info at:www.myspace.com/thezimmersband

Monday, April 23, 2007

Are you hoping that one day everything will be fine and you'll enjoy everything?

"You can enjoy everything, nothing is too small or large to enjoy.
You should learn to enjoy, in all aspects of your life.

Tell me one thing in the day you look forward to."

Reading Syd's post about the joy that comes from little things reminded me of something someone told me, who has an AMAZING capacity to enjoy life.
I don't know about you, but it really made me think.

The first thing that they said was the bit in the heading.
Then when they suggested actually thinking about what I look forward to in the day, I was really surprised at the answers that came into my head. I suppose they were little overlooked pleasures and moments of beauty that for some reason I just completely took for granted.
I still find it a fascinating way to direct my attention.

Another way of phhrasing it could be
Notice what you enjoy today.

For instance, when I ask myself this question am ! surprised at the answers.
For instance.
Being interested in the political evolution of the European union.
Learning new things.
Burying myself in piles of books in the British library.
Being showered with little pink blossom petals in a sunny afternoon on my way someplace.
Blossom on the trees.
Running with my ipod through crowded city streets.
My cat. Because she is so cute.
Black filter coffee from the Algerian coffee store.
The smell of the beans when I open the airtight container I put them in.
Vidal sassoon hair colour.
The earthy smell of foliage in warm summery evenings.
The great court and the reading room in the British museum.
Feeling mentally alert.
Tea and toast.
Radio 4.
Generosity of time and expertise from other aa's.
Aa's who do their best to encourage, inform and support me when I don't understand something.
Coffee after the meetings.
Being a non-verbal reassuring presence for weepy newcomers in meetings.
Helping newcomers. Feeling useful.
Seeing sponsees start sponsoring others.
Thinking of my mentors, and the people I love and admire.
Peaceful silence.
A Sponsee telling me they have been dancing till 5am.
Cobalt blue.
The moon.
Thinking about sea air.
Looking at a picture of the beach and thinking about what it feels like to be there.
Bright spring quality of light.
The pub with no beer.
Great quotes.
Getting comments on my blog from passing visitors.
Knowing aa's that live locallly to me.
That the centre of London feels like my 'front garden' or ''front porch'.

Well anyway, there are a lot of things on that list that I did not expect to see there. It surprises me what they are.
So anyway, what I'm saying is that it is fascinating journey to notice all the little pleasures that pass our way in the course of a 24 hours.
Its sort of like a gratitude list but different . The focus is not gratitude as such. Just
What do you enjoy?
Name one thing in the day that you look forward to?

And then, working on the principle that " You can enjoy everything, nothing is too small or large to enjoy."
REALLY taking a second look at things and finding how that applies to all the things I do every day. When I do that, its TRUE. I CAN find joy in just about everything. Its WEIRD. Ah well. See for yourself.

Well I find it very interesting.
Right I'm off. Have a GREAT Monday!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Correction!: Abuse responses

Upon reflection, I can see I was describing ONE common response to abuse. As opposed to a universal response. Also it was a bit confusing because I mixed it up with some other ideas, like the hungry ghost thing. So in the interests of clarity...
People who have been abused end up all different.
Some are prickly and defensive, some are doormats incapable of enforcing boundaries. Some think its ALWAYS their fault when a relationship goes wrong. That all they need to do is 'try harder'. Others are bitter and always blame the OTHER person, even when they themselves have behaved ! terribly. And mostly there are elements of both, as so many of us are a bunch of contradictions anyway, and swing from one to the other in a completely irrational way.

So there Is a broad range of types. So the guarded, defensive, untrusting type is just ONE response to abuse. The less socially skilled tend to be outwardly guarded, defensive, untrusting. The others with a bit more restraint or impulse control, might be EQUALLY guarded, defensive, untrusting, but it would not be nearly so evident. You might only get to see that when they are ambushed by triggers from within a relationship. As opposed to observing them in their day to day dealing with others.

So basically one is FAR TOO defended. And the other is NOT NEARLY defended enough!
The boundary-less person needs to learn to stop getting trampled on. We could call them the gullible, trusting types. Far too 'open'. Not 'contained' enough!
And the too-defended person needs to learn to STOP expecting EVERYONE to trample all over them! We can call them the 'suspicion at all times' type. Either too 'cut off' emotionally, or too 'contained'.

For what it's worth, I'm DEFINITELY the 24hr HYPER-vigilance type! As neurosis goes, it has its uses. I do not have the 'extreme cleaning' neurosis, (shame!) or the overachieving neurosis, (bummer!) but I DO have the 'hyper vigilance' neurosis. This comes in VERY handy when it comes to ANY form of contingency planning, and troubleshooting, and risk assessment. If you need anyone to do that stuff. Ask me! As it comes VERY naturally. I can EFFORTLESSLY identify EVERY possible risk, loophole and danger you have overlooked. I think I'm very 'survivor' orientated. Not in a wild eyed slightly crazy way! (As that would increase risk by attracting dodgy attention) But more like I'm very good at scanning the horizon for every unnoticed risk. I can spot a crazy person in the street from 100 paces. I sort of am familiar with danger, and expect it so I never have any trouble noticing where it might arise.

Basically I'm the opposite of a trusting gullible person, or bold risk taking entrepreneur type. Yes I do get caught out. But not very often. I have only had a bag stolen once. Put it this way. I can walk around most parts of London past all kinds of hoods and weirdoes and feel safe. I can walk past gangs of drug dealers at 3 in the morning on my own and feel safe. I think that is a bit unusual for women. I like to think I can 'out-psych hoods' who try to intimidate me. I have learned (from the old drinking days) how to never show fear when with dodgy people.
Yeah but the DOWN side of this is that trust is !!! Very difficult! Ima LOT better than I was, but I still have to ignore residual 'alarm bells' when dealing with 'good' people, who inadvertently set off a 'danger' trigger.

Phew. Hope that's a bit clearer!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Abusive Background?: Your TOUGHEST lesson in sobriety is VULNERABILITY

Its tricky learning how to endure the overwhelming scariness of being vulnerable if you come from an abusive background. There is a tendency to either over indulge or repress, as well which doesn't help. All these thing require a very skillful, mindful, balancing act interiorly. Its quite subtle. Plus nigh on impossible if you cannot tolerate overwhelming emotional states without needing to drink to deal with it. so I suppose the heavier stuff, works best after step 9. Well that's what I've found anyway.

If you come from a physically abusive, sexually abusive, indifferent or cruel emotionally abused background, my guess would be that the TOUGHEST thing you will EVER learn in sobriety will be letting your guard down and allowing yourself to be utterly vulnerable. Trust basically.

No front. No defence. No second guessing.
Not everyone is the same, but I think that will be your greatest and toughest lesson. My experience is that the miraculous power in trying to live along spiritual lines by doing the steps can create enough healing to make that possible.

By the way, some people have a ‘front’ but do not make it obvious in their outward manner. These are the types with GOOD social skills, who nonetheless, never REALLY drop their reserve. These are just the ‘controlled’ types. Again this need to ‘be a certain way’ is a little inflexible and fear based and can be reduced with a good step 11 practice after step 9.
For these people the lesson is ‘not being in control’. Not having all the answers. But don’t worry. Basically if you bash away at the programme long enough, you Do get to be more like the ‘wearing life like a loose garment’ type. You DO get there in the end!

For those in search of a surrogate parent, or ‘someone to take care of them’ I recommend step 11. It ! Should leave you feeling connected to an ever present feeling of love, no matter what is happening. I refer to this in a previous post called a ‘‘dual mind space’.

Basically ‘god’ is the new ‘mother’, or parent you never had. The new benchmark for trust, security and wellbeing. Perhaps the first TRUE constant you have ever experienced. Its very cool. And step 11 brings you right into the bosom of your higher power. Steps one to nine, ‘set the stage’ for the step 11 magic to happen.

Personally I prefer ‘spiritual’ ? Esoteric ? Remedies for these things rather that (what I see as) the very limited scope of man made intellectual awareness that is available in 20th century mental health. Too limited! I want something MUCH more advanced than that. Ancient wisdom from the great masters. So that’s why I do not promote therapy with my Sponsees regardless of their histories. I understand that is not a currently popular view, but when I say this stuff, I say it to explain what I do. Not to try to control others or ‘make’ you do what I do. I have MUCH better things to do with my very limited reserves of energy than try to herd cats! No Siree! MY life is centre stage. I have NO power over others so that is not my concern. So what I mean is ‘do as you please’. I do not ‘need’ people to agree with me in order to feel ? Validated.
By the way, if these things didn’t work I would never subscribe to them. My experience and observations is that these things DO work. (Just in case you think I am a deranged idiot!)

Anyway! Regarding the abuse personality type, it’s worth noting that alongside this ‘invincibility’ (which is just another way of saying they NEVER let their guard down, or ‘show their face’ that this heavily defended approach is often coupled with a ‘god shaped hole’ of YEARNING to be take care of. This is because people with these backgrounds seem to spend the rest of their lives looking for surrogate parents. In the form of a partner often. Women with this tendency can often have a terrible emotional desperateness about ‘wanting ? Something’ from a relationship that it can never really provide.
They are looking in all the wrong places so to speak. Looking to fill the god shaped hole in relationships. Looking to satisfy the "Hungry Ghost". Relationships were never designed to meet the needs of a desire for a surrogate parent.

In addition. These types can be the ‘We don’t make friends we take hostages’ type. Meaning there is a clinging also. A sort of ‘hanging on to the apron strings’.
I find that people with these types of background have the most difficulty with abandonment issues and ‘letting go’ when I complete the first nine steps with them. They kind of want ‘more’.

‘More’ is just another word for the "Hungry Ghost"., and I direct people to a GOOD step 11 practice who are suffering from this condition. Step 11 is a VERY effective tool for addressing this spiritual condition. The hunger is finally satisfied! Wow. That’s how powerful a GOOD step 11 practice is. It reaches places in the soul that neither you or I will ever know exists. Its very powerful. Make sure you have a good teacher!

By the way, vulnerability does NOT mean being a 24 hr pool of weeping ? ..whatever. It means not being afraid of being exposed, of being (temporarily) a blobby mess. Not being afraid of being 'seen'. It is not a blank check for catharsis, or anything else. It means TRUE honesty. TRUE intimacy. No holding back. No trying to be 'clever'. Its an unflattering exposure of self. There is no ego. But more importantly, its a decision to NOT BE SUSPICIOUS or defended.
It can mean many things. Bu that's more what I mean in this case. So basically, I am not advocating limitless weeping as a hallmark of vulnerability. It is MUCH more than that.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Perhaps you think you're "Not that bad": 'Yets' and The PROGRESSIVE nature of this illness

if you are sick and tired of being sick and tired, you will be able to do WHATEVER you need to do to get well. But when people don't grasp step one very well, they can be a bit ambivalent about the programme and have no real sense of urgency about getting well. They can still see some options or mileage with drinking.

In many ways I was a very ''high bottom' when I as new. I was not at a point in my drinking career where I needed to drink every day, or even every month. I could stop for long periods like the 'carpet slippers and a bottle' fellow in the big book. I had no physical symptoms. My liver hadn't packed in. I wasn't incontinent. But I HAD reached an unbearably agonizing emotional and mental rock bottom and I was willing to do ANYTHING to get well. Nothing you could suggest would be more awful than what I was feeling, so it wasn't a problem.

Sometimes people need to suffer a bit more before they start taking this disease seriously. Sometimes people can only acknowledge its power when it takes EVERYTHING away from them. Including their job, and their ability to earn a living. Often the job is the last thing to go. It's the thing that convinces them that there really IS something horribly wrong.

With some newcomers, their ability to earn a living gives them a false sense of security (especially if they are reasonably professional) and make them think they're 'not that bad'. Ie they won't lose eve-ry-thing. they wont lose their ability to earn a living, mind ! or control of their bladder. That happens to 'other' people. Basically, the more skilled they are, the more they struggle with grasping their GREATEST weakness, their inability to stop or control their drinking. Or in cases like mine, how they fall apart and lose everything with or without alcohol. (That's the insanity option by the way!)
(It doesn't ALWAYS happen like that though. I have spoken with park bench homeless old men (for instance) who thought THEY were 'not that bad', so its a fairly universal condition! Denial is the same, no matter what your personal circumstances!)

Anyway, the reason I say this is because this is a PROGRESSIVE illness, and those things are 'yets' I'm afraid. Yes. Even for skilled, competent, intelligent, professional, capable people. For everybody! I know SO many VERY ! skilled VERY competent people who were brought to their KNEES with this thing. Reputation and intelligence don't put this disease in remission any more than they put cancer in remission. So those things, although nice to have, will not save you.

I am COMPLETLY powerless over the point at which people 'see' the grave nature of this disease. I would LOVE to be able to 'make' people have a 'proper' rock bottom. But it's NONE OF MY BUSINESS when that happens. Oh well. I find step one the MOST hard work with Sponsees. REALLY hard work! There is a LOT of work to do in terms of understanding what the implications of having this disease really means. Its a VERY bleak prospect if you really understand it. Step one is a downer really! But I always see that as a really healthy sign. Personally I think an incomplete understanding of the implications of the illness makes for a VERY shaky foundation to the programme of recovery. But that's just my view of what I've observed working in myself and with others.

Whatever! Have yourselves a cool Thursday!

Afternoon play about a woman who starts going to AA meetings on Radio 4

Friday 20 April
By Dennis Kelly
Kate is just beginning to enjoy herself for the first time in her life. Each week she checks in with a support group to tell them how things are going for a recovering alcoholic.

I've heard this before. Its quite tortured, but I found it very moving last time I heard it and I always love listening to stuff about alcoholics.
Just thought you might be interested. Its on Radio 4. Theres a link on the sidebar if you want to listen to it online instead.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Free Teleclass about living in the solution regarding Virginia Tech: Thursday, April 19th at 4 pm Mountain Time

Join Rhonda Britten this Thursday, April 19th at 4 pm Mountain Time
Call number: 641-297-5900 or 641-297-5910
Password: 80080

Here's some of her blurb:
I am deeply moved by what occurred at Virginia Tech yesterday morning. I know my heart is heavy and broken. I shared a lot of my feelings on my Blog written at 2 am this morning. And if you are like me, you may need to talk about what it all means....therefore, I invite you to join me on this Free Telecall to share your feelings and perhaps find some solace in this precarious time for our nation.
We may not be able to find any answers but together we might be able to heal some of the pain that this tragic event has stirred up inside of us. I send prayers to you and yours and know that light, and love, and peace surround you during this trying time.
With Fearless Love,

I do not agree with Rhonda that fear is behind all emotional maladjustments to life, but I can still find her very non judgmental, solution orientated approach very helpful. (Take what you like and leave the rest sort of thing) I'm just saying that so that you do not conclude that I think she has all the answers, that she has what I want (as such), or that I trust her motive for saying what she does, or even that I agree, The things she DOES have that I would like to acquire interest me GREATLY and I always love listening to motivational and positive stuff. She's doing a lot right I reckon, but I get tied up when it comes to the money aspect. I think money corrupts a LOT of the time. That part doesn't work for me. Although I have learned a lot from the mind body spirit workshop school, I got a bit fed up after a while having to listen to them re-brand an aspect of the human condition to make it look like they have cornered a unique perspective on life, when the very act of re-branding it adds confusion to the job of trying to understand the process. So I don't buy the ''fear is everything' idea. I just found I ended up reframing her quite complicated ideas into more common sensical terms that had universal applicability. Fear Is a big thing, but it is not everything. Well I think so. Everything? That would be greed, hatred, delusion. Fear is a big part though. But who knows, perhaps I am wrong. I just think if fear was behind the whole thing the Dalai Lama and all those teachers would be focusing on it a LOT more than they do. They don't. That's my guess as someone who is trying to learn from the best examples I am aware of. When I want to know something I just consider the dalai lama and all those people and what they say. I'm just mentioning this because it is free. She is lively and good at speaking honestly, which is a skill in itself. Also she is good at uncovering crappy hidden motives, and being flexible. She makes no attempt to look 'cured' which is humble. And a lot of her stuff seems similar in approach to aa stuff. Whatever. Just don't blow your life savings on the workshops! Sorry if you are a hardened Rhonda Britten fan! Who knows, I could have it all wrong anyway!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The dark side of humanity: We ALL have a latent aspect of the Shadow

In trying to come to terms with violence and terrible deeds of one sort or another, I have been helped by reading stuff about the shadow. (Robert Bly is very good)
I believe we all have the capacity to discover ! terrible things about ourselves depending on what we focus on.
(as in)
You MOVE TOWARDS, and BECOME LIKE, THAT WHICH YOU THINK ABOUT, whether it is good for you, or bad for you

So, if I were in military combat. for instance and was required to kill others to survive, I think I would get to see some VERY ! dark places in my mind. We all have a shadow nature, but we don't get to see it very well if we choose to live a wholesome life.

I believe violent people are very caught up in that aspect of their condition, due to habitually negative behaviors, and do these things in an act of desperation to relieve the suffering that is building up inside them. I believe it is simply overwhelming for them and they blindly follow the tendency because they can see no other way of finding satisfaction. they are very sick people, and they create huge amount of suffering upon themselves for many lifetimes for performing such an act. its very sad.

They may put an end to their body, but they do not put an end to their suffering or their newly acquired karmic debt. Well that's how I see it anyway.

Also my non-dual view of the world and everyone on it, means I do not see myself as separate from anyone including people who kill and maim. But that's another post!
Like Thich Nhat Hanh says in the poem 'Call Me By My True Names':

I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat, who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate. And I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving.

On that rather ! Unexplained point, I'm off! Anyway have a great Tuesday!

Monday, April 16, 2007

The gift of Desperation: Remembering the intense, angry, determination to get well when I was new

I was just thinking about the intense ? Anger, resolve? that I felt about wanting to get well when I was new. I was chatting to a former Sponsee's, Sponsee (about her first Sponsee as it happens) at a local exhibition the other day and she said I reminded her of Dirty Harry in the way I described my initial resolve to get well. Funny. I haven't seen the film (not being a big Clint fan), but I think its useful to know that this kind of 'cornered rat desperation' has its uses in the beginning. I definitely was very sort of angry and intense about wanting to get well. Inwardly. I have no idea what I looked like to others when I was new. As far as I know I did not appear to be angry when I was new. I did not have any antisocial behaviors in that I was not acting out in an angry way. Mad? yes. Antisocial? no. What I'm describing is an inner condition.
Anyway, sure enough I was reading about Kenny's THIRD AA anniversary TODAY!! (Ah bless his cotton socks), and he was describing a very similar thing. Of basically this VERY intense faculty that took over regarding getting well. I just completely related to it.

I think back then, I felt SERIOUSLY ! pissed that after following recommendations from what seemed like all the 'right' people, (therapists etc), that I was in an UNBEARABLE emotional state that I could NOT get out of. It really WAS like the 'quicksand' analogy that Bill talks about in his story.
It wasn't that I wanted to give myself 'one shot', Its just that I felt like this was as close as I EVER wanted to get to losing my mind and wanting to die. This was as close to the edge as I could get. I just felt I had no option but to see if AA would work. I really believe that I owe my life to AA. I just do not know how I would have endured that state much longer without some relief.

I love that 'gift of desperation' thing. It works! Intensity has its place in recovery. It is often required for the bits where we need to go to any lengths. I LOVE a tough, gritty approach when its needed.

By the way I HAVE seen people get well who did NOT have this thing. People who kind of 'floated' into AA by mistake very early on in their drinking careers. So don't think that this means that only people who feel this get well. I'm just saying getting well is a DAMM SITE EASIER if you have this thing. Otherwise you have little or no sense of urgency, and any half hearted attempt can cost you DEARLY in either relapse or !! HUGE ! pain. But I tell you, those people are REALLY ! hard to sponsor. It CAN be done, but it is HARD work! Basically, they can think you are being a bitch when you tell em to do things. (Bitch? Moi??) Heheh. People who have been brought to their knees, or are just 'ready' to take suggestion, just kind of listen. Who knows how the damm thing works. But suffering sure gets our attention!! and makes us listen!

Anyway, Have a LOVELY Monday.
And Happy Anniversary Mr Kenny! London won't be the same when you head off to Dublin!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

I am LOVING Ajahn Munindo's online talks right now

(And people like Ken Wilber.) It feels like what I need to hear right now.
Just thought I would share that with you!
I was listening to the talk called Am I Practicing Rightly? Today and LOVED it.

Gawd knows, but its just the ticket. Mostly stuff about what I call 'emotional processing' because I have NO CLUE what else to call it!
He refers a lot to Self centeredness, but the words he uses to describe it is 'trying to get my own way', and control freak. I always use those two terms to describe what's happening when we are 'trying to run the show'.

He also describes what he calls a 'capacity to feel', being increased by this process. Which is what I was trying to describe in an earlier post called
'Steady containment' is what I call enlightenment
Becoming a 'Strong Vessel': Increasing your capacity for holding very powerful (good and bad) mind states in consciousness, without going mad!
Peace of mind is NOT dependent on having PLEASANT thought forms or emotions

What he describes is the ability to hold powerful emotional states in consciousness without making them a problem. Normally they are overwhelming, But that the more you do this thing, the greater your capacity is to feel these things. This is a step 11 mindfulness technique if you don't already know. This is a post step 9 thing really.

Anyway, he explains it better! have a nice Sunday!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Pray for the Bastard!: A 'stand-in' cure for Resentment before you complete the 4th and 5th step.

"If you have a resentment you want to be free of, if you will pray for the person or the thing that you resent, you will be free. If you will ask in prayer for everything you want for yourself to be given to them, you will be free. Ask for their health, their prosperity, their happiness, and you will be free. Even whey you don't really want it for them and your prayers are only words and you don't mean it, go ahead an do it anyway. Do it every day for two weeks, and you will find you have come to mean it and to want it for them, and you will realize that where you used to feel bitterness and resentment and hatred, you now feel compassionate understanding and love."
Freedom from Bondage, Page 552, Alcoholics Anonymous.

(Thank you Zane at Zanejabbers(who is actually a rather lovely human being) for reminding me of where this passage is. I completely forgot!)

When people are new and do not have the skills in identifying resentment that come after (competently!) completing steps 4 and 5, this is what I tell them to do with resentment. It's the NUMBER ONE offender" so it's VERY important to find a way of managing it prior the the insight we have after step 5.

My favorite old timer used to say it (Pray for the Bastard!) ALL the time.
I did it when I was new.
It worked for me.
I know LOADS of other people who did it and it worked for them too.
So, basically, it works.

Trust me, you NEED this skill prior to completion of step 5. If you do not learn this skill there is a STRONG chance you will get hijacked by resentment, and you are in GRAVE danger of drinking if you have not been 'restored to sanity as a result of having a spiritual awakening having completed the first nine steps.'
So this is VERY necessary.

Resentment is probably the greatest threat to sobriety. And the only real way to get on top of it is by the process of examining our resentments in step 4, and staying out of harms way till we know better in the meantime.

"But with the alcoholic, whose hope is the maintenance and growth of a spiritual experience, this business of resentment is infinitely grave. We found that it is fatal. For when harboring such feeling we shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the Spirit. The insanity of alcohol returns and we drink again. And with us, to drink is to die.
If we were to live, we HAD to be free of anger. The grouch and the brainstorm were not for us. They may be the dubious luxury of normal men, but for alcoholics these things are poison."
p66 BB

And this is why arguments (or ANYTHING that inflames resentment) puts you in an EXTREMELY vulnerable position. Anger just doesn't work for us. We can't just follow it like we used to. Even when we are 'right'. And especially ! when we are new because that's when we have the LEAST defense against the first drink.

This ' Pray for the Bastard!' thing is actually rather a lovely process. I LOVE hearing the stories people tell about what happened after they did it. Really !! Cool stuff happens sometimes. It seems to have a very miraculous effect.

The REALLY cool part of the proceess, is asking yourself IN ALL HONESTY. "What do I want?"
Really. What do I LONG for?
What would I love more than ANYTHING ELSE?"

See untill you answer that question HONESTLY, you have NO CLUE what to ask for the other person.
You have to identify your HEARTFELT DESIRE
You need to identify the thing you CRAVE
No bullshit. The truth.

THAT'S the cool part.

And when you know what that thing is?
Well. You ask for the OTHER person, to have that thing.

Wow. I LOVE this practice. Its EXTREMELY powerful.
The more HONEST you are about what you TRULY want, the BETTER this thing works.
Yes. Of COURSE it involves going to ANY LENGTHS. But whats new? That's the 'AA deal'. This is NOT a half measures thing. Just do your lousy best. I start off saying it through gritted teeth, (Heheh) but it gets easier.
But just trust me. You will LOVE this one, in hindsight. Its an AMAZING practtice. We are SO lucky to have this gem in our toolbox. It REALLY moves things around in the universe.
Right I'm off. Have fun with that one!

Friday, April 13, 2007

DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED. The moment of certainty NEVER arrives

When I get a new 'step one moment,' it can feel very overwhelming. there is SO much work to do! Makes you want to hide under the duvet!


If you are feeling a little overwhelmed by the realization of the work you need to do, I think that its very promising that you are feeling this way because it tells me you have a much more realistic assessment of the work that is required of us to get well. This is something I see people go through when they first start to get well, and later after step 9 when the 'scales fall from their eyes' and they are restored to sanity. I call them 'step one moments'.

Its a bit like "Oh my god, there is just SO much that I need to work on, I don't know where to start, and I have little or no confidence in the things my head is telling me anymore, and the way I am interpreting the world, because I've SEEN though some of the delusions it has been telling me so far"
Basically its a very uncertain and vulnerable mindset. Takes a bit of getting used to! But it is EXTREMELY teachable. This mindset is the hallmark of new and very exciting growth. This is the 'spirit' of step one. I have experienced it MANY times in sobriety. Sometimes I 'coast', which feels more comfortable for sure, but I just am not learning nearly HALF as much when I am in 'coast' gear.

The people I worry about are the arrogant ones who think they will have the whole thing 'sewn up' at some point and that they will end up with the answers to everything, and uncertainty will be a thing of the past.
Not so!

Uncertainty is actually very promising. I think. I love the U2 Zooropa lyrics when I am outside my comfort zone exploring uncharted territories.
It reassures me and helps me see a constancy amid the ever changing and frequently unknown landscapes.

The bottom line is that you do not need to impress anyone, so stop worrying If you think you are a bit ! Crap because you don't know the answer to something or you haven't figured a way to dig yourself out of a particular hole yet.
I have yet to reach a point where I feel secure in the knowledge I have gained. The more you know, the more you see how much ELSE there is to be understood. So the moment of certainty NEVER arrives. Not for ANY of us!

Getting used to uncertainty instead of arrogantly 'taking a position' takes a bit of work, and never really gets to feel 'comfortable'. But who said reality was supposed to be 'comfortable'? Reality just doesn't exist in the comfort zone. Its MUCH more challenging than that. But there are LOTS of wonderful moments along the way, where bits of the jigsaw fall into place and we experience the love and fellowship of the people we meet on the way. So its not that bad!

Basically reality is a vulnerable place. Delusion does not challenge us. It simply reinforces what we wanted to hear anyway. Usually some sort of ego massaging bullshit.

Vulnerable is VERY healthy. It is the OPPOSITE of arrogance. But please, do not be vulnerable in abusive or toxic situations. Choose to express your vulnerability in places where you will be supported, as opposed to undermined.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Give till it hurts and INTENSIVE work with alcoholics: A Female Mystic enlightenment path

This is a U tube talk by Ken Wilber where he explains the path of 'Give till it hurts'.

"Give till it hurts" Mother Theresa
"Practical experience shows that NOTHING will so much insure immunity from drinking as INTENSIVE work with other alcoholics." p89

My favorite old timer used to say this, but (although it is a standard I use) I tend not to advertise this ? method for fear of being labeled horribly co dependent. Anyway. The missing piece of the jigsaw fell into place when I saw ken Wilber's utube item called 'give till it hurts'

Its actually very difficult to describe unless you've done it, so if you haven't really pushed yourself to your ! limits of patience and tolerance and gone to ANY LENGTHS to try very hard to help others, this may not mean very much to you at all. Who knows. But when I heard Ken Wilber describing the 'radical acceptance' that an INTENSE relationship to 'damaged goods' can bring about, I recognized it straight away. But then I have a bit of experience with meditation as well so perhaps that's why I can notice it.

I always say to Sponsees that newcomers are literally 'mind altering', in that they bring about a very clear and even mind space, but only if we are 'going the extra mile', or going to any lengths. Anyway, all I know is that at some point in the process, (usually after feeling very !! exasperated with the awareness that any judgment I am experiencing is completely road blocking my attempt to help) I sort of 'push myself up a gear', to 'get through to the person'. And reach a point internally where I GENUINELY feel no sense of 'good' or 'bad'. Its sort of like I can see the divine in them. They are not 'bad' people getting good. They are sick people getting well.
Anyway, it all goes a bit ? Neutral. Ken Wilber calls it an 'immoveable awareness'. Which sounds about right. It feels like I am 'holding' a 'space' for the craziness of the newcomer to exist in, where I do not flinch, internally or externally (in the form of speech or action) , while they relate their craziness to me. Its like I'm 'holding steady'. Yet it feels very intense at the same time. Anyway, it feels very cool. Kind of tough, but very cool. Its a very nice place to be in my head.

Anyway, Ken describes this as a way of achieving pure Equanimity, or 'one taste', which is just another word for releasing all judgment. All notions of things being either 'good' or 'bad'.
Anyway he pointed out that this was a way that women mystics tried to achieve the mental states normally created in more patriarchal institutions such as monasteries by sitting meditating for eight hours not blinking. It was very interesting and puts the mother Theresa doctrine into context. I always like mother Theresa, but I did not understand why. (Like most things to do with higher powers and what have you) Now I know! Well a BIT better!

Anyway anything that helps me put the jigsaw pieces together is good! I'm STILL 'looking though a glass darkly' but it all helps!

By the way, Mystics are very interesting if you can be bothered reading about them. I have heard the Christian mystics are worth getting to know, but I haven't done research in to book names or authors.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Trust issues: Letting my guard down COMPLETELY

Everyone is different, but I have a !! LOT of work to do in the area of trust, so I just thought I would share some stuff with you..

I STILL find it hard to relax and trust that I will not 'fall' in the presence of unconditional love. Being UTTERLY undefended still feels ! scary, as I spent many years of my life (quite rightly!) looking over my shoulder in unprotected, unpredictable and edgy surroundings. Its a hard habit to break!

The only way 'out' for me is to trust that 'Feelings aren't facts'. And that even though it FEELS like instant annihilation looms if I so much as leave my guard down for a ! MOMENT, that it is just my old conditioning playing tricks with me. Its pretty uncomfortable work though! Allowing myself to trust feels like I am standing in the path of an oncoming juggernaut! Not nice! Even when I KNOW my feelings are NOT reality, it STILL feels like a waking nightmare when I try to 'stand firm' and not 'withdraw' emotionally to a 'guarded' position. The only way to 're-programme' myself is to not 'run' and wait till the emotions subside. I don't know what its like for others but I have quite ! Severe trust issues, so my emotional work can seem very demanding at times. But I don't mind. The end justifies the means.

I have found I have to be willing to endure uncomfortable turmoil to 'see through it'. I just cannot make sense of it without 'seeing' it first hand. I have some sort of safe 'core' from which I observe these emotional reactions, So I'm not sure the same technique would work for newer people.

This type of trust work is a fairly recent thing for me. 2 years old or so. For some reason, my old programming is 'coming up' in a very clear and noticeable way. Its a blessing, as I can SEE what I am dealing with. I don't recall EVER being able to see these 'demons' as clearly as I have in the last 2 years or so. I'm very excited about where this work is taking me in regard to my ability to relate fearlessly and openly in relationships.

Although I cannot really tell, as I am not a mind reader, I think in comparison to others, I may ? actually be quite an emotionally damaged person. This is probably why I rely on the programme to the extent that I do. But who knows, its VERY difficult to be objective about these things, and holding that view reinforces my ego, or sense of 'small' self, so I tend not to like thinking along those lines.

(By the way, this post is NOT about learning to trust recklessly, with all and sundry! It refers to learning how to drop my guard in a SAFE context. So if you are new please don't think you should start trusting EVERYBODY. That is NOT what I am referring to here. Learning who you CAN entrust is actually a pretty sophisticated skill in itself.)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

What does 'No Mental Defense' mean? Selective amnesia at uncontrolled intervals

What's the CRITICAL weakness that makes people relapse?

Selective amnesia concerning "the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago", which occurs at TOTALLY random, uncontrolled time periods.
This is what it means to have NO MENTAL DEFENSE against the first drink.

A momentary (amnesia induced) lapse in recall, leads us to believe we can put our hand on the (metaphorical) hot stove.

"We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness WITH SUFFICIENT FORCE the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are WITHOUT DEFENSE against the first drink.
The almost certain consequences that follow taking even a glass of beer do not crowd into the mind to deter us. If these thoughts occur, they are HAZY and READILY SUPPLANTED with the old threadbare idea that this time we shall handle ourselves like other people. There is a COMPLETE FAILURE of the kind of defense that keeps one from putting his hand on a hot stove."
p24 Big Book

The difference between 'hiding' and self restraint

I was just thinking about pretense when we have a desire to appear a certain way to others, and also the ability after a while of being in recovery to be every 'contained' with what we happen to be experiencing. And how those two things can look a bit similar from an external view, but are actually two very different choices, done with two very different motives.

So basically what I mean is, do we have good or bad motives for choosing very deliberate, contained and restrained ways of relating to others? I think its all in the motive.

I don't really like the word pretense, or pretending because they both imply dishonesty. but I'm taking it to mean a sort of very conscious way of expressing oneself as opposed to 'unedited' expression, or behavior.

"Skilful or Good' pretending. (Ego puncturing reasons.)
Act as if
Behave better than you feel
Bring your body and your mind will follow
Restraint of tongue and pen
Not 'indulging' emotional reactions
Not blindly following feelings

"Unskillful or Bad' pretending. (Ego massaging reasons.)
Telling you I'm fine when I'm not.
To conceal or withholding information about faults for fear of being judged or not living up to to other peoples (unrealistic) expectation.

I find the 'pretense' thing interesting. Yes, I did used to do that. But I have a different way of expressing myself now that Is very ? Contained and restrained. As opposed to 'zero impulse control', so what I may look like on the outside and what I am experiencing internally may be two very different things. But I would not call that pretense. The fact that I do not need to explain my inner conflicts to whomever I meet could also be described as an inner/outer mismatch, but its the motive that makes it different. The 'containment' is not done for the sake of protecting the ego from the (imagined) judgment of others, it is simply because relating all my experiences to others as they occur does not always help me. Sometimes it does. But not very often. I can often obtain more peace of mind by focusing on what I can contribute.
Anyway. Its all interesting. I love this recovery thing, it never stays the same. Seems to shift around constantly. And you can never be entirely sure if you are right or deluding yourself which adds a certain 'Je ne sais quois' to say the least!
All I know is that I can 'feel' when there is a desire to hide a weakness for fear of being judged. If I feel that, then I know I am wrong and ego is in charge. If that happens, I try to puncture it by saying the thing that my ego is telling me I should keep to myself. I did it this morning as a matter of fact and it seemed to work. The ego is a funny old beast. I can just! about feel it when it sticks its head up over the parapet. But its not always easy to see.

Vaguely interesting talks about enlightenment by Andrew Cohen and Ken Wilber on You Tube

You tube is SO cool! It has loads of weird eclectic stuff on it! I'm amazed!

I only just discovered that Andrew Cohen and Ken Wilber have quite a few you tube entries. Cool. Yeah I know it can sound like these people are talking out of their a**e, but it hasn't got the same (built in) VERY ego puncturing starting point that AA has, so, yes, you can get people who are a bit ? Soft or something. The people they lecture to haven't had a rock bottom, so they haven't had to learn the basics the hard way. But I like listening to people like these talk. Mind you I think I prefer Ajahn Munindo(The Abbot at Harnham). Whatever. I think I'm just not very good with people who become 'famous' for teaching about enlightenment. I don't like the groveling adoration that they get exposed to. Always makes me squirm a bit. Perhaps that's why I prefer the monks. Who knows. Actually, it could be the money angle as well. I think when money gets involved, the motive can be affected badly. Corporate pressures! who knows. but i think money can be very corrupting. i would never pay a pile of money to see any of these people. Put it that way.

Anyway I'm just saying I think these talks are pretty cool. Not my FAVORITE. But I like them. Stuff like this used to drive me NUTS when I first started listening to them!! They just seemed pointlessly complicated, but I can accept the complexity of the arguments now. I still find it much easier to listen to monastics, but they don't make so many videos! So teachers like these are much more accessible. Its all useful really. I like the way they talk about ego and all that. Its a different sort of thread of reasoning than you get in AA.

In the beginning, it used to confuse me because it sounded different from AA, but now I see no contradictions between the two approaches. Took me a while to dovetail the two things though!

Its funny, when I'm in AA I can crave talks like this, and when I hear talks like this, I crave the simplicity of AA stuff. Funny! That's just the old restless mind doing its thing. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence! They both have their uses!

CHECK OUT Mr Ken Wilbers 51 year old body!!! WOW

Here's Ken Wilbers photo page.
Click on 2000's section, Its the 5th pic. and when you see the torso shot scroll by, click on it and it will display properly. DAMM fine!

If that isn't an incentive to 'get spiritual' I don't know WHAT is!!!

Men who have a lot of mind control have a lot more choices than the likes of you or I. Don't get me wrong, that doesn't mean they get off lightly. They are going to ANY LENGTHS too by the way.
A monastic would not choose to develop their bodies in this way as I don't think it would assist their celibacy very much! But I dare say they might have the ability to exercise their will power along these lines if they wanted.

"Spiritual" isn't this fluffy, feel good, ego massaging, comfy, tree hugging, kitted-muesli-jumper, baggy option.
Well for me it isn't anyway. Yes there is incredible compassion, but that compassion stems from a RUTHLESS UNWAVERING commitment to REALITY.

'Proper' spiritual people are pretty tough people. Incredible persistence and staying power. Often they are just born like that, as opposed to 'made'. Having said that, even the ones who are born like that can choose a very demanding life path of learning with REALLY tough obstacles. What I mean is, they don't 'have it easy'. No Siree! There are no days off, not even for those guys.
Anyway I digress. I'm not drawing your attention to this to make you feel bad about your body, but to make a point about what it means to be spiritual. Its actually hard to put into words. And pictures help a bit. But it is a very common misconception that there is something 'malleable' about it. That's not the same as open minded by the way. Remaining open minded is actually a VERY tough doctrine to maintain in my opinion.

Basically spirituality (from what I have seen of it anyway) is INCREDIBLY tough. But in a GOOD way. Like when you see the Shaolin monks bend pointed steel poles on their chest. These guys are not Nancys!
They're not vague. They're not wooly. They are very, very precise in their thinking.

Anyway I think this picture communicates what I mean FAR better than my words can. But this is how I 'see' spirituality. I do NOT see it in a 'therapy' view. That approach is MUCH softer in my opinion than this stuff. Put it this way, you don't see many therapists that look like this, do you? EXACTLY! (Anthony Robbins doesn't count by the way! Sorry but he's just not in the same league.) They are two very different doctrines. Personally I prefer this one! It goes WAY beyond 'knowledge'. It REALLY relies on what is utterly unknown and mysterious.

Anyway I DO love AA, but these guys have chosen to make themselves publicly known as teachers, and they are not celibate monastics, so it gives you an idea of what I think a non monastic spiritual life can look like. Now you know why I think it is terribly cool to do this stuff.
You can be beautiful inside AND outside!! Cool! Sign me up!

Obviously this is a very personal view, but I just thought I would share it with you. Each to their own. But this is what 'proper' (non celibate) spirituality looks like to me. The really 'top quality' stuff anyway. Monks may be similar in mind, but not in body shape! Except if you are a Shaolin monk I suppose...
I'm not saying I EXPECT spiritual people to look like this, but this is how I 'see' it. Anyway, I hope you get an idea of what I mean. Basically there are no knitted muesli jumpers in my spiritual view!

(This is actually more difficult !! to explain! than I thought it would be!) Hope that makes sense! Sorry if you think I am a body fascist! I'm not really!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Being 'well' up's the stakes in terms of what 'looks good' in potential relationships

You know its perfectly normal to want to be in a relationship. If it's any consolation, a whole new world of possibilities opens up (if you make good use of your recovery) with regards to forming relationships. What I mean is that the more 'well' we are, the better we are at identifying and attracting the other 'well' people. Yeah of course we can all still get it horribly wrong, because we are not mind readers and terribly human. But by and large we are just better at sensing who is well and who is ! nuts.

But the bottom line is that it happens in gods time, not ours. 99.99% of alcoholics secretly believe they deserve ! crap, (crumbs on the table) even if they have a boatload of bravado in an attempt to cover that up.

So just be reassured that your expectations are probably VERY LOW. I don't mean that in a bad way, its just how CAN you want GOOD things if all you know is 'bad mental habits' about life such as ? Cynicism, negativity, self pity outlook, defeating attitudes, resentment in all its forms. I don't mean you are FULL of those things. I just mean you haven't learned to be AWARE of all those things.

That's what 'taking stock' is in step 4. Once you SEE these defeating outlooks in MUCH greater clarity in step 4, it's VERY hard to not notice them in others too. You notice it like you you'd notice bad breath in others. What I mean is that its MUCH more obvious where people are coming from. Not entirely. But you just get better at it. the upshot is, the stakes are 'raised' in terms of what you are looking for in people. Again the extent to which that happens depend on the extent to which you learn to identify your OWN weaknesses. Those character defects are worth getting to know!

You just have to TRUST that your higher power is not a DOPE and knows what they are doing in this respect, if for whatever reason you find you are not in a relationship at the time.

Besides, it's a 'grass is always greener thing' on both sides--single people want to be married, and married people want to be single. I think the mind is just very good at NOT noticing the PLUS side of the situation we are in, and finds reasons to be miserable based on what other people are doing. Good old envy! A VERY lopsided and INCOMPLETE view if ever there was one! And a recipe for PERMANENT dissatisfaction! Lovely!

Jeez. Those RANDOM AA crushes in the first year! Try VERY hard to ignore them!

Almost everybody gets a really ! inappropriate crush on another aa in the first year. Mine was SO funny. I tell Sponsees about how ? Rubbish this guy was when they are looking a bit glum because it was a kind of funny-bad mismatch. Always makes them laugh when I tell them who I found attractive in the first year! What I mean is that AFTER the first year, you sort of 'wise up', and think 'thank GOD I didn't get involved with that guy!!!'. Its like the first crush at school. You think they are GREAT at the time, but of course they COMPLETELY ignore you, and it isn't till some reunion 20 years later that you realize THANK GOD he ignored me!

Well anyway, try ! to ignore the RANDOM aa crushes as much as possible. You'll be VERY glad you did later! I am a strong advocate of the non alcoholic partner. They are just so ! Much more peaceful inside than we are. They forgive more easily. They seem to care more naturally. They have good hearts. They are not 'edgy'. They don't understand our crazy alcoholic head! But that's ok! One alcoholic head is PLENTY in any relationship! Anyway of course that is just my personal preference. I LOVE alcoholics, but I would NOT want to be involved with one. They have their demons! Me too. I STILL have my demons! To some extent.

So anyway. Your higher power will take GOOD care of you.
One thing that I used a lot and helped me in regards to this issue (Because I really believed that my 'old ideas' about relationships were WELL past their sell by date) was:

We tried to shape a sane and sound ideal for our future relationships.
We asked God to MOLD OUR IDEALS and help us to live up to them.
Whatever our ideal turns out to be, we MUST be willing to grow toward it.
In other words, we treat relationships as we would any other problem. in meditation, we ask God what we should do about each specific matter.
The right answer will come, if we want it. p69 (slightly altered)

(By the way I think that instruction I just mentioned is SERIOUSLY COOL. It really changes the way you feel inside about a future relationship. It sort of 'breaks ties with the past' or something. Shows us a 'better way.')

Punctuate time alone with short social lunch or morning meetings. Otherwise you can get a bit moody!

Oh yeah. And the other thing, self pity kicks off a bit if you are alone with your head for too long. Regardless of how long you have been sober. Us humans are social animals! We were not designed to be on our own for too long. On 'unscheduled' days I like to nip in to an early city meeting and go for coffee after or a busy lunch meeting in town and coffee after.

I love the coffee bistro scene. Especially in this GREAT weather. Sitting outside on little tables in the sun in busy streets gasbagging about anything and everything. Its great fun!

Anyway the social aspect of aa is important as a way of avoiding negative lethargy of the mind when left on its own too long. So what I mean is that it really helps to punctuate time alone with short social lunch or morning meetings. Otherwise you can get a bit moody! I actually love being able to go to meetings as they are always full of interesting colorful people, and I love it when I see people I haven't seen for a while.

AA really IS 'The pub with no beer'.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Ladies! Seriously cute guy alert!

Oh my!

Feeling fed up?
Tired of life?
Do you have that dull, listless feeling?

Well then! I know the PERFECT cure for those mid afternoon blues!

Not the serenity prayer. Nope!
Not a meeting.
Not a jog round Hyde park!
Not even talking AT a newcomer! (And that's saying something!)
In the shake of a lambs tail, YOU TOO can be lifted from the grey tide of inertia by gazing POINTLESSLY at the SERIOUSLY FIT BLOKE behind the counter in the Algerian Coffee Store in Old Compton Street.. (Reminds me of that old diet coke ad where all the ladies stare at the guy cleaning the windows!)

And if you are a CAFFIENE JUNKIE (like my good self), then you can get to buy some SERIOUSLY GREAT coffee at the same time.

Yeah basically, show up to buy some of the FINEST coffee that it is possible to buy in London, AND gaze ADORINGLY at the !!!! UNBELEIVEABLY cute guy, (who if luck will have it), will be serving that day.

Well it works for me! That's all I'm saying!
It sure beats a Step 10 as a pick me up! And the coffee is PURE NECTAR to boot.
Apart from that its a really CRAP place!

By the way, there is a bunch of guys that work there, so if you see a somewhat ? weird looking one, THAT IS NOT WHO I MEAN. Haahaa He is a VERY handsome young man! Well I think so. What he is doing working in a coffee shop, I have NO idea. That guy should be on a catwalk somewhere..(Well I think so anyway)
You ladies that do NOT live in London! I feel SORRY for you. You are missing some GREAT eye candy in this neck of the woods!

Right I'm off! Just thought I would share that with you! Brightened up my day anyway!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Small things with Great Love: 'Constant thought of others' in daily life. (As opposed to grand, lofty, one off, dramatic gestures)

There is NOTHING more powerfully restorative for our wellbeing than thinking of what we can do for others. (In my opinion!)
That's what service is. You don't have to be a missionary in Africa to be thinking of what you can do for others. There are PLENTY of people who can benefit from a kindness of some sort, right on our doorstep!
Gazillions !! in AA!
If we are treating others as we would like to be treated. Well that's what 'constant thought of others' is!

Its just being KIND.
PAYING ATTENTION to the needs of others.
Looking for things you can do that might ? help them.
It doesn't have to be a big thing. At all!

Like mother Teresa said..
“We can do no great things; only small things with great love.”

Another one is:
"You can't change the world, but you CAN change the world for one man."
(Cliff Richard said that, funny enough! I'm not a big ! fan of his music, although I'm sure its very good. but I like his generosity.)

I'm a service JUNKIE. Because I ! LOVE how It makes me feel. I get to feel ? GREAT when I ! try to help new people.
I love it. Its like a spring clean for the head or something! Feels DAM good!

If you don't believe me, just try it!
Pay CLOSE attention to how good !! you feel when you REALLY ! think of what you can do for others.

Works like a CHARM too!

Drinking dreams. They mean nothing really.

Oh yeah, and the dreams mean NOTHING. Standard issue I'm afraid. Its just you're good old friend Monkey !! Mind! Playing tricks with you. That's all. Its actually quite a powerful omen In my opinion. It means stuff is shifting about. I mean you never had those dreams before did you? See? It marks a transition. Its like a rite of passage for the unconscious. I think they really 'show' us step 1 very powerfully. The TRUE nature of what it means to have NO power. To be at the mercy of other forces.

If you ever get to do some !heavy duty retreats in step 11, you'll know that peoples dreams go REALLY weird during the retreat. I LOVE the dreams I get on retreat. Very very cool. Not scary, but VERY vivid and VERY symbolic.

What I mean is that during substantial inner work and spiritual practice, it is VERY common to have powerful dreams. Drinking ones do not feel nice, but I am sure they are evidence that this transition is being felt at a deep level of the subconscious.
Anyway, don't worry about them. We all get them in the beginning, and very occasionally long after. Yeah, they ARE scary, but don't let that undermine your confidence. Just keep doing the same ol stuff.

Its not the 'craving' that makes you drink. Its the presence or absence of a 'mental defense' that is CRITICAL to staying sober

"Our so called will power becomes practically nonexistent. We are unable, AT CERTAIN TIMES, *(ie not ALL the time) to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink."
Page 24 Big Book.

"Once more: The alcoholic AT CERTAIN TIMES *(ie not ALL the time) has no effective mental defense against the first drink. Except in a few cases, neither he NOR ANY OTHER HUMAN BEING can provide such a defense. His defense must come from a Higher Power."
Page 42 Big Book.
*My insert!

The problem is not the craving as such. The problem is whether your 'mental defense' is shot! Good old Dr Bob suffered from cravings for TWO AND A HALF YEARS!! But, most importantly, he said "at no time have I been anywhere near yielding." See?
So what I'm saying is, don't concern yourself with the cravings, they indicate very little. It helps a LOT If you do Not skip meals or let yourself get thirsty. And stretching yourself to the point of exhaustion is NOT allowed!! Basic HALT really..
Eating something sweet, or a sweet drink can make cravings disappear. All this stuff is in living sober by the way.

There's a Big difference between a craving and a compulsion. If you have a craving but your 'mental defense' stays intact, then all is well!

The problem is when the mental defense is like Swiss cheese! And a momentary (amnesia induced) lapse in recall, leads us to believe we can put our hand on the (metaphorical) hot stove. Well THAT'S when we have a problem! Its all covered in the first three chapters in detail.

"There is a complete failure of the kind of defense that keeps one from putting his hand on a hot stove."
Page 24 Big Book.

The 'compulsion' is relieved if we adhere to the suggested actions. Higher power, talking to alcoholics, meetings, service. Its a basic drill. Nothing weird.
So you are in good company with the cravings!

From "Dr. Bobs NightMare"
"I spend a great deal of time passing on what I learned to others who want and need it badly. I do it for four reasons:
1 Sense of duty.
2 It is a pleasure.
3 Because in so doing I am paying my debt to the man who took time to pass it on to me.
4 Because every time I do it I take out a little more insurance for myself against a possible slip.
Unlike most of our crowd, I did not get over my craving for liquor much during the first two and one-half years of abstinence. It was almost always with me. But at no time have I been anywhere near yielding. "

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Trying to run before you can walk: ‘Processing’ difficult emotions without letting them ‘take over’ is a skill best learned AFTER Step 9

A lot of newish people think getting well means they will be so 'serene' that they will feel 'blissful' or 'neutral' all the time. Things won’t feel ‘unpleasant’. Wrong! Serenity is not numb. You get to experience the ENTIRE range of the human condition! Serenity is being at peace with the process. Not making it a problem. It is peace AMID the storm.

Yeh of course addicts want a quick way out. Feelings, good or bad, need not be a problem. But the act of processing them without letting them 'run the show' is actually rather !! skilful. It requires a relaxed and easy going unflustered attitude to 'take on' these seemingly dramatic inner states without getting caught up in them. This skill is best learned AFTER step 9. (Actually this would be something you learn automatically if you were to do a high quality step 11 meditation practice, under the guidance of a good teacher.)

There is just too much resentment clogging up the system prior to that. Plus there is not enough emotional stability to really take these things on an maintain some sort of balance. I would say that without a decent completion of steps 1 to 9, trying to process resentment is like swimming upstream. You will simply never really !! 'catch up', as there is just too much resentment being produced on a daily basis.

Basically step 10 is a lost cause (in my opinion) if you haven't received the benefits of the first 9 steps. You will just never keep up! It’s better than NOTHING, or as a temporary support while you complete the first nine as fast as you can, but as a long term plan? Yipes! No!
What I’m saying is that ‘You cannot survive on step 10 alone’, for very long. Its a FAR better decision to REALLY go for the first nine, as THOROUGHLY as you can, using step 10’s as a way of keeping tabs on resentments, once you have learned the AA craft of identifying them in step 4. But in theory, you should be more ‘normal’ after step 9, and things should be getting to you less, in the main.
Obviously if (god forbid) your entire family gets wiped out by a hurricane, then YES you are going to get pretty !! Annoyed about that after step 9. Well you know what I mean! I hope!

I had MASSES of resentments (Every !!! FRICKIN day!!!!) before step 9, compared to after. Jeez, it would have been a FULL TIME JOB !! doing step 10's if i didn't get the benefit of the first 9. Now I hardly have to to anything. phew!
Well that's what Ive found anyway. In myself and others.
Basically that is what I would recommend, based on my own experience and what I have observed. I am not saying ‘You HAVE to’. (Just in case, there are lots of restless, irritable and discontent people reading this!!)

Have a DAMM fine Sunday why don’t you!