Monday, February 28, 2011


Uh huh. This says it all.


  1. For some of us Power is a dilemma if you don't know what to do with it. Others are afraid of it, because with Power comes responsibility ("Too whom much is given much will be asked").

    So, many of us stay powerless, irresponsible, and in the dark, using alcoholism as an excuse for our lives being a mess, even years away from a drink. These days, when I'm jerk it's not because I'm an alcoholic. It's because I'm being a jerk. I have to take responsibility for my life and my actions and my own spiritual growth. I can't sit around "waiting for the miracle to happen." I can't keep on causing harm saying "Well, at least I'm not drinking about it," or "It's progress and not perfection." I make mistakes, lots of them. And when I do, I own them. I also have a fantastic life, and it's not because I sat around and waited for God to do for me what I should have been doing for myself. God just gave me the Power and what I do with that Power is up to me.

    "We have recovered and have been given the power to help others."

    That is what power is for. To use it for anything else is a waste of Spirit. And to misuse it will destroy me and cause much harm to others. But if I use it for what it is for, it is unlimited. All the Power that God has is mine.

  2. Well said, Jim. I can take those excuses from someone very early in sobriety, like their life's a mess or they're bring a jerk and it's all because they're alcoholics.

    Then I'll ask "Ok, what are you doing about it? We know the problem,what's the solution?"If I hear that the answer is working the program, then all is well.

    But if I get some bullshit like "well...I'm trying to organize me feelings, to get in touch with myself", then here's $5, go buy yourself a drink. You're not ready yet.

    And your waiting for the miracle to happen idea folds in with the keep coming back mantra. Or meeting makers make it. Bullshit! People who work the steps make it.

    Miracles don't happen because you're in the magic chair with the magic cup of coffee. Miracles happen because you bust your ass. Intentions aren't worth shit. It's actions that count.

    As you said Jim, when the miracle happens, then God has given us the power. Carry the message, help other alcoholics. The power I have to stay sober depends on using that power as God intended. If I misuse that power (and I think I misuse it by not using it) then I waste the miracle and my sobriety is gonna be short lived.

  3. Good stuff on power.

    Question; can I use power to help others besides alcoholics inside of and outside of A.A.?

  4. Let me answer part of that with another question: Who are those others besides alcoholics in AA that you're talking about?

    As to using the power I've gained to help others outside AA? Depends, I guess. I was always able to help others before I came through the doors, and I did.

    Now that I've overcome my self-centeredness, (Somewhat. It's a work in progress) though, I have a lot more empathy, concern, understanding, and love for others that I never had before.

    And this has certainly given me the ability to see in others things that I never saw. One of those things is needs they have. I had always been focused on my own needs before this.

    I still have to restrict myself here, much as I restrict myself when helping alcoholics in AA. In AA, I can only help them based on my own personal experience, strengths, and hopes. I can't help anyone in areas outside of my personal expertise.

    So this same restriction applies to helping others outside AA. Within the confines of my own limitations, yes I can help them. Outside of that, no.

    But let me digress here for a minute. We talk about the "power" over alcohol. But what, specifically do we mean? Control over taking a drink? Self control? The sudden ability to make the right decision?

    I think that the "power" we talk about here is a lot more than just those things. Yeah, it may boil down to control and decisions, but what determines our ability to have that control, to make those decisions?

    Certainly, God is a major player here. But I think it goes even further than God's role. I look at this "power" and come up with "spirituality" as another word for it. I think that our spirituality is the power we have over alcohol.

    I look back at all those things I listed in "As Joe sees it" and find an awful lot of things that apply to what we're talking about here. Forgiveness, control, acceptance, patience, humility, love, happiness, serenity, and so on.

    These are lessons I'm learning, lessons I can teach others. This is knowledge. And knowledge is power. These lessons, this power, I can use to help, to teach others both in and out of the program. So maybe it's more than power to help others based on my experience, strengths, and hopes. Maybe it's the ability to help others using my power, experience, strengths, and hopes.

    This is just a thought, though. Comments are more than welcome.

  5. I'm talking about the Power we choose into. The power we intend. All action is born in thought. We go nowhere till we point our toes into a direction. I'm talking about the practice of steps 6 and 7. We do not develop these skills over night. Some things take time and practice... and we all develop a different skill set.

  6. We all have defects of character. We all have them for a reason. Some of them we become willing to ask God to remove... and if we mean it and work at it, some stuff gets removed. Some stuff doesn't get removed because... we're still making use of them (these defects of character).

    But despite that, we can be useful and put together a life for ourselves that's useful and whole.

    Do you have the power to follow through on that which you intend? Can you be relied upon? Do your yes's mean yes? Do you have the ability to say "No"... and mean it? How are you in relationships? How are you in being a provider? When you have a buck or two in your pocket, are you a fool? Our you a good steward... to your family?

    Are you willing and able to accept success? What does getting on in life and passing on what you were given to an occasional and willing alcoholic have to do with eating, breathing, and sleeping A.A.?

    All I'm saying is that we can serve from wherever we stand. And yes, we must intend and use this power. Power is not a gay little butterfly in your gut. When you got it, it's great. When you don't... and think you do... you can't hit your ass with both hands. Been there done that.

  7. Ok, Let me see if I understand where you’re going here. We have character defects because we’re human beings. These defects may differ among us, but we’ve all got ‘em.

    We admit these defects to God and become willing to have Him remove (at least in my case) all of them. So we ask Him, and He helps us to remove them. But He only helps; we have to do the brunt of the work. We do the best we can. Some shit gets improved on, some shit gets resolved, some shit we hold onto.

    So we’re still imperfect, but maybe not as much as we were. But when we improve on a defect or eliminate it, we have to replace it with something. We could use either another defect or a positive asset, but we’ve gotta use something to fill in the blank. If we don’t, then there’s a void and we become amoral. Not good.

    Despite this continued imperfect existence, we can still put together a life that’s useful and whole. I like to call that sobriety, myself.

    So as I understand it, Patrick, this power you refer to is a derivative of the process of work on character defects. Christ, I hope I’m at least close here.

    Do I then have the power to follow through on that which I intend? Damn right I do! If I felt I didn’t have the power, then I wouldn’t touch the problem. To me, intentions aren’t worth a shit. It’s the results that count.

    Can I be relied on? If someone asked me that in conversation I’d take it as an insult, but in this context it’s a good question. My word is my bond. You can take my handshake to the bank. This is one defect (dishonesty) that’s been totally removed.
    And similarly, when I say “no” that’s what I mean. Whether honestly answering a question or withholding permission, “no” means just that.

    Relationships are still a work in progress. I still have problems with effective communication and conflict resolution. Meaningful personal relationships are hard to establish for a number of reasons, but I work on them doing the best I can.

    And yes to the issues of financial responsibility and providing for my family. I’m willing to accept success, but try to do so graciously and when possible, anonymously. I don’t feel the need for recognition anymore.

    And the rest of your question – working with the other alcoholic, getting on in life and eating, living, breathing AA? It’s all intertwined. It’s living the principles in all my affairs. It’s sharing my experience, strength and hopes gained from the 12 steps, and strengthened by my spirituality that I’m able to do this.

    Yeah, we all serve from wherever we stand. Some are in a better position than others. And my position improves as my sobriety grows, as my spirituality grows.

    You mentioned that we must use this power. Absolutely. If I don’t have it and try to bullshit my way through? Well, we all know what’ll happen then. But If I do have it and don’t use it, I’m not gonna hold onto it for long.

  8. Good points there. I agree about bringing all those defects of character to God and all that... but as you say, we grow and get into a better situation as we continue in sobriety.

    Another way to look at it is this... what is our current level of awareness? As it says in the book when we return home from a 5th Step... we have just swallowed "some" chunks of truth about ourselves and we thank God from the bottom of our heart we know Him better. Or as Jim or you said recently... we are only responsible for that which we are aware of... as we go on and get more awareness... and thus Power... we become responsible for more... the road narrows.

    But I have yet to meet the man/woman who has written so thorough an inventory that they've had it all removed at once right there in one sitting. I, like you Joe, have had a big piece removed from me. For you, it was honesty. For me, it focused on my attitude towards women and the useless emotion of jealously... to the degree that it's detrimental. Gone. God gave me permanent beer-goggles for women and I see the beauty in all of them now. It's hard to describe.

    About your comment on honesty... how do you tell when a recovered alcoholic is lying? That's right. His lips are moving.

    Now... I don't so much use the analogy that we remove things so God can come in... I like to think that God is already in there and once we remove some of the shit, God can shine forth and nature itself replaces the void... the vacuum.

    But Jesus Himself used the power of intention... the power of need... to move mountains... aka feed the masses.

    There's nothing wrong with intention... so long as you act on it. You can't just manifest something without thinking it first. All action is born in thought. Right?

  9. Writing an inventory, no matter how thorough, is merely a recognition of our defects. To write a perfect inventory, we'd have to have a perfect understanding of ourselves. But humans are imperfect by their nature, so a perfect inventory is a contradiction of our very nature.

    And even if I'm willing to have God remove all repeat all of our shortcomings, that doesn't mean it's gonna happen. First, I didn't list all our shortcomings. I ain't perfect.

    Secondly, God requires some action on my part here, too. I don't think that God often waves His hand and "Zap", there they go. I think it's more that the removal of my defects comes from our sudden, honest realization of the nature of these defects, and with that some appropriate action on my part.

    With this realization I sometimes have an "Aha!" moment, where I finally realize the true cause of the defect and am able then to deal with it. Is God's hand in there? Sure. But so is mine.

    As an example, let me talk about honesty. I was less that honest with other people about how I felt and what I thought. I didn't steal money, but I wouldn't hesitate to steal ideas. So I looked at this defect and asked why?

    Well, it was my ego at fault here. I wanted to look good in front of others, wanted them to think well of me, and especially wanted to appear better than any else to my bosses. Ego.

    But this ego lived in fear, actually. My self esteem that was at risk here. I was afraid of how I viewed myself and how others viewed me. I was afraid I wouldn't get what I wanted - to appear to best of the best among men. It didn't matter whether or not I was the best, only that I looked the best. It was almost a "fake it 'cause you can't make it" thing.

    So it came down to fear of not getting a need filled. When I realized this for what it was, then came the question of why I needed to appear to be the best. I either was or wasn't.

    If I was, then there was no reason to be dishonest about anything. If I wasn't (and here's the key to everything), who cares? I'm imperfect, damn it! It's ok not to be #1 as nobody really gives a shit! The only one I was bullshitting was myself. So why the fuck am I afraid? And lastly, if my life is in the care of God, what's to fear?

    And with that revelation, part me, part God, I became an honest man. At the same time I was made aware of those good qualities I had, and learned what gratitude was.

    But this is just one small example of a very long process, and not every defect is being expunged as easily(easily, my ass) as this one. I'm still working on a lot of others, some are coming along well, some not so well.

    God is helping, but the progress is my responsibility. He points the direction, I walk the path.

    I'm never gonna resolve all my character defects, but that's ok. I'm imperfect and always will be. That's how God made mankind. But my intentions are good ones, and I do act on them as best I can. One day at a time.