Archive for the ‘AA’ Category
Step Three: Made a Decision to Turn our Will and Our Lives Over to the Care of God As We Understood Him
This time, much like the first time that I worked my way through the steps, at Step Three, I feel as though I am standing with my toes dangling over the edge of a vast cliff and attempting to will myself to leap. Before me, a self and a way of living that is uncertain and unknown, behind me is my past self, all that I have believed and known and been and all that I must let leave behind. What is before me is less uncertain today and what is behind me that must stay behind is much less that it was the first time. And Yet, where I am going MUST be where I have not dared or been capable of before and what I will leave behind is clearly what I have clung to and been unwilling or unable to release before.
Highly metaphorical, I know, so what exactly would I be leaving behind? and What awaits when I leap off that cliff? To the first point, I am not sure that I know right now. I only know that holding on to it has been allowing me to slip back into spiritual and emotional sickness. The central task in this step is to ask yourself how far are you willing to go? Am I ready to really and truly hand my life and my will over to the care of God? Get ready because here comes the insanity, not having done so is allowing me to fall back into sickness, threatens to get me drunk again and is potentially causing me to make other people miserable and my response to the central questions of this step today, at this moment is: I don’t know. Not the response that I want to have, and I see in it the absolute insanity of my sickness, but there it is in full glory.
What if this time upon examination I realize that I have to change my views on sex, or am called upon to truly take up my calling and dedicate myself to being a prophet? What if, I have to let go of writing all together? Or feel compelled by God to become a real minister? What if my entire world view must change? Am I ready to join a religion or a church? Because I don’t actually have a defined understanding of God and maybe that is the problem! What at the end of the day am I willing to change, relinquish or bring into my life in order to achieve the promises entirely, have serenity and know that I am serving God and my fellow man at my best potential.
I suspect that moving past this and starting my next 4th through 9th step will illuminate the answers, but there is the rub eh? To get to those steps, I have to take a leap of faith, I have to drum up within myself the worst case scenario, assume that I must go that far and then say “yes, I am willing” – In short, I have to be Abraham with his son on the rock and blade in hand, ready to go to any lengths. I don’t know, I doubt, I am not sure. I am afraid.
It isn’t all fear and negativity. I dream sometimes of a me for whom God has expunged fear, doubt, rage and frustration; A me without violence, who knows and understands the path of serenity, love and compassion well enough to teach it and who reaches first for spiritual solutions to all of his problems. I dream of a self that is patient and kind and loving; who pursues his dreams and goals, that is useful to himself, his family and his community. I dream of using my gifts in some way that it benefits the sea of humanity around me. Though each of them frighten me because, I don’t know how to be sure what those paths or how to achieve any of it, or what I might miss over here if I do. It all scares me, but I really do want it and I always have. I wonder (not doubt) what my wife would say if I told her I I want to go to divinity school – not saying that I do necessarily, but who knows right?
Anyway, today was more of a rambling attempt at self discovery than I real blog entry, but this is where I am at. God Bless us all
Since around the time that my mother’s cancer got bad, perhaps even longer, I have not been the same, haven’t been myself and have been way off center. I haven’t felt right or been acting right and suddenly that awful trajectory has slipped into overdrive. When you are a recovered alcoholic and you find yourself lost or in a tailspin there is just one thing to do, start over at Step One and walk all the way through, this time do it better, if you think you did it with a willingness to go to any lengths, go farther. Go to more meetings and get a new sponsor.
It is my intention to do all of that starting right now, before I am lost and hopefully better with greater abandon and willingness to surrender than any time before so I don’t have find myself back this far again. As part of my meditation and conscious contact, I will try to write something, hopefully with Gratitude every day. When I am focused on a step, I will write about it. I won’t publish my (next) fourth step here, but I will talk about it.
We admitted we were powerless over alcohol— that our lives had become unmanageable
4.6 years or 1684 days ago, I was without exaggeration dying. Having one fat bloated foot in the grave and the other in pool of whiskey. I was an alcoholic of the hopeless variety and at 34 I had an illustrious drinking career spanning almost two decades. I had tried to moderate, tried to quit and tried to deny my problem, sometimes I even acknowledged I was an alcoholic, but didn’t think that was a problem. I couldn’t see how it was destroying my relationships, my mental or emotional state, or care about how it was killing me. So, yeah by the letter of it, I know Step One for a fact everyday.
That said, if you aren’t paying attention the fine print between the lines of Step One can be overlooked, forgotten or ignored. At nearly five years sober, I alternate between understanding and forgetting that my powerlessness over alcohol is almost the least of my problems (because I have no desire to drink today), because there is a list over things, which stacked end to end could reach to the moon and back, that I am also powerless over and unable to do shit about. Just like continuing to drink or trying to conquer it without God’s help, continuing to try to have power over any item on this list will make my life unmanageable.
What am I powerless over? In short form it is:
People: Examples, My stepsons Autism, his attitude and his choices (when I’m not around). I cannot make my friends sober, or make them do things that are good for them, I cannot make my wife work out, take medicine or go to the doctor, I don’t get to choose for other people and I CAN judge them, but it will only make me unhappy and less useful to them.
Places: Examples, Can’t change systems or my very much about my place in them. Schools, Courts, Work, Police, Creditors all operate and have the authority they do and I will not be able to overcome that
Things: Stuff breaks, cars die, houses are in their state, money is never abundant enough, traffic goes however it goes, rain, sleet, snow, heat. I have power and authority over absolutely none of these things and that is just how it is, no amount of fear or worry, or rage or pleading or pleasing is going to make that change.
and my life has become unmanageable
Because for nearly five years I have been prone to distraction and dropping out and holding back, my life, while so much better than it was before, is not managed like it should be today. I have multiple lawyers pursuing me financially and have met suddenly with around between 12 and 17 thousand dollars that absolutely must be paid out to creditors and taxes in the next 8 months or so and I am sure that my ex wife will be following suite since she isn’t getting payments. Almost comically I am in jeopardy of losing a fucked up mess of a house that I don’t even have a mortgage on because I have neglected to pay the taxes! Holy shit, who does that?
Someone, who is seriously ill, who has a program of recovery that works miracles, has worked miracles for him, but who has held back and hasn’t been paying attention in class because he is a terminal fool.
My life is no longer unmanageable because of alcohol, but because God talks and I don’t listen, or I am too afraid to do what is right, or speak up or take charge. Fear, Fear, Fear, Fear, Fear until I am tired of being afraid and lash out with anger, upsetting everyone and thinking I can control everything. I am it seems at times a farce, a comical exaggeration of a man.
With a powerful need to escape all of this, I will drop to my knees today and say unto the Teeth Mother, the other Sacred Muses and the Word, my own Step One
I admit that I am powerless over alcohol, other things, people and places and having forgotten that, have made my life entirely unmanageable; I am lost and adrift and will not find my way alone.
Step One: The Prodigal son comes home, having made a mess on his own.
Positive energy must flow from you, out over people around you like a river rushes down the mountain
some like fish and animals will swim and drink of it, being cleansed and nourished
some like the sand and dirt will flow along with you
others, like reeds will bend to your momentum
The rocks, the rocks will dig in and remain, some fighting and attempting to block your current
Never mind them, in time your waters will polish and carve them into proper shape
This is me. I am going to speak to my sponsor this weekend because I frustrated. Each of these things seems to feed the other and when I slip into one, it wakes and feeds the others. I have not been going to enough meetings, and that is part of what is happening with me, that said, I also made a conscious choice at work to stop being so humble as it seemed to be hurting me professionally. The problem is, there doesn’t seem to be a dial on my ego it is more like a big switch, either on or off and at full speed. I have made great strides in promoting my ability and intellect at work, but I am also growing increasingly judgemental of people and being authoritative, curt and condescending, even snapping at people and much in the way that Hunter Thompson describes an Ether binge, I find myself watching it happening, knowing I am behaving in a way that is no longer comfortable or in any way okay to myself and yet I seem powerless to stop it.
I have a new fourth step to start and I am going to need, more meetings, prayer and meditation. I think I might have to return to practicing continual humility and accept the potential consequences to my work life, because every time I act like a jerk, I feel like a jerk and it brings up guilt, shame, resentment and runs ragged over my self image.
Someday’s real sobriety is harder than others.
I want to start by saying that for me, where the Bible, all of the Sutra’s, the Tao Te Ching and every one of the library full of books I have read have failed, the Big Book of AA has succeeded. It created for me, a path to God and today it is my Bible, there is every instruction I need to lead a spiritual, peaceful and most of all, sober life. This is nothing short of a miracle, not only for what the program and the book have done for me, but what it had to overcome in order to do it, namely, my ego. In recovery, being smart, analytic and defiant is a perfect recipe for failure and too often this type of personality does not make it. Our mind is focused on finding flaws, issues, reasons to disagree and on uncovering the mechanics of everything.
When I first came to AA, I did this. I tore the Big Book apart, word by word and I started finding the psychological reasons that some of the Steps, the BB and the fellowship work. I was appalled at first, what terrible malignant genius was behind this? I thought there must be some catch, some cultist purpose. Then, I started learning the history and how much of the program was trial and error, how much was input from great minds like Carl Jung, whom I respected (I respected Bill more for translating his goofy existential language into concrete suggestions). I learned too that there was nothing what-so-ever that AA was going to ask of me, beyond, not coming to meetings shitfaced.
Then, the most extra-ordinary thing happened, I took that keen analytic mind that had torn apart the texts of the great religions, great works of literature and philosophy and I simply shut it off, or rather turned the dial way down. I don’t analyze the Big Book today, except to decipher what it is suggesting I do and how it relates to my own life and the more I come to that book with a different, less analytic and less defiant attitude, the more I seem to get out of the book and the fellowship.
I am encountering a growing number of people in recovery that express some dissatisfaction with the Big Book, or ignore it completely. Last night for example I heard a guy complaining about the book and when someone spoke to him he griped:
Even the book says this isn’t the only way, but there are people who tell me all of time that it is the only way
To clarify for anyone who shares this sentiment, what the book says is that AA is perhaps not the only way to get and stay sober, that they have no monopoly on it. However, the cold, hard reality is, that the Big Book, the program described in it and the fellowship ARE the only way to do AA. If you hear the promises and you want them, if you are looking for THIS spiritual solution, then the Big Book and the program within in it, are not negotiable. I would suggest to anyone who disagrees and feels they know a better way than that described in the book, that they are either truly remarkable or very sick still with the problem of ego.
While it is true that the only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking, one has to wonder why people that do not believe this show up at meetings? You wouldn’t major in Psychology if you didn’t believe in it’s value as a science would you?
I know, there are things that upon first read one can find fault or objection with in the Big Book, but there is the thing. There are some books that are written down, to a sort of lowest common denominator, ones that virtually anyone can read and find wonderful, the authors of these books took painstaking care to ensure it; we call them Easy Reads, Fluff books and they are the most common of books out there. As a life long student of literature I can then also tell you about other books, uncompromising books, books that do not come to you but rather force you to come to them. E.E. Cummings, Emily Dickinson, James Joyce wrote such books and I can tell you from experience that E.E. Cummings did not make it easy and was never going to step toward my point of view so I could understand. These are books that in order to get the fruits and the rewards from them, you are going to have to grow, change perspective and see things different than you did before. In fact, the better part of the reward for seeking their understanding is that growth.
The Big Book is the same way. You will come to it, you will grow and learn and let loose all prejudice and control before you get anything from it. It is a perfect exercise and metaphor for how you are going to have to live your life in recovery if you want, not only to be sober, but also be happy joyous and free. Life isn’t going to come to you either, conform to your ideas, your rules, your woulds and shoulds. Instead you will have to learn to be humbled by it, grateful for it, grow in it and embrace challenge and change. You will need to let go of prejudice, fear, control and ego.
The end result is always the same and boils down to this; If AA is your chosen path
Read it looking for what fits you today, with gratitude and appreciation for the message and the men and women that put it into that book, shut down the ego and the critic. Look for what is right, rather than wrong and you might just find the promises coming true.
Read it with that “smart” brain of yours, disregard the suggestions and at best live on in misery with half measures, perhaps finding yourself back on a bar stool one day.
I guess this was a little bit ranty, but I feel strongly about this.
It is perhaps one of the things at the root of my craziness these last few days, and I have been crazy and my life has been crazy; that for a few brief days I could feel the presence of The Word, I could see the beautiful and the divine. I am at my most confident and the height of my…”Muchness” when I can feel that presence, though I never, ever say that outloud, at least not in those words.
I don’t know what it is like or how it comes for other people, but for me, it always comes back to two things, writing and, for lack of a better word Information. I do not know why, but my conscious contact with God, comes less from kneeling down and praying, than sitting down to write. In the average moment, my mind is the most interesting and distracting thing around. Constantly in motion in my head is a minimum of 5 different, focused, active and constant trains of thought, with literally hundreds more whirling around unfocused and skipping across my consciousness or running deeper in less conscious parts of my brain.
Done correctly however, when I sit down to write, everything can change, if I pause and try to feel idea, the problem, or simply the presence of The Word, then shortly after I begin writing everything can vanish and I disappear too, thoughts and all, my mind is quiet and my whole being is a conversation between my fingers and God. I may not know what I am even writing once things get really cooking my fingers just seem to fly across the keyboard and words come out. When I make it to this point and for some lingering time after it has past, I feel inside of me a presence that is dense and heavy, but powerful and good and what is more I feel the energy, the material, the matter of the universe around me and I given to the impression that it is information, the Ones and Zero’s of the divine and beautiful creation that is our universe and it doesn’t feel like something that is touching me, but rather like the rest of the same great fabric that I am a part of, not an extension of me, but the same as me; something of which all of the “ten thousand things” are just an expression. All expressed different, but all part of the same system, One
01000001 01101100 01101100 00100000 01100101 01111000 01110000 01110010 01100101 01110011 01110011 01100101 01100100 00100000 01100100 01101001 01100110 01100110 01100101 01110010 01100101 01101110 01110100 00101100 00100000 01100010 01110101 01110100 00100000 01100001 01101100 01101100 00100000 01110000 01100001 01110010 01110100 00100000 01101111 01100110 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01110011 01100001 01101101 01100101 00100000 01110011 01111001 01110011 01110100 01100101 01101101 00101100 00100000 01001111 01101110 01100101
Like this, but different. I am not Neo, but it that is a very similar analogy to how it can feel. This is my love, this is my understanding, this is my gift and my song, this is my meditation and conscious contact and every-day from here on out, I will plead to hear the word, feel the muses moving in me and see and understand the divine and beautiful, because I must, I must in order to transform, in order to be useful, in order to do what I meant to.