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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Power and Responsibility


Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.
We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us;
It's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we're liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.
I went to a meeting today and listened people talk about being powerless and their lives being unmanageable. I heard a lady with 29 years talk about how she is still "recovering" and struggling with wanting to drink and how she relies on human power (meetings) to stay away from that drink. There was a guy there who is brand new, it was his second A.a. meeting ever. I realize that these people were only speaking from where they are at, but I wonder if any of them stop to consider what kind of message they are carrying. I hear these people say "I know it works, but I don't know how it works." I wonder if they think that they are being humble. But I don't think they realize how irresponsible they are being. It is my responsibility to know how it works. I'm rather useless in Alcoholics Anonymous if I don't know how it works.
I thank God that when my ears finally opened and my eyes were able to see, that I encountered men who were not carrying that message. They told me that not only did I not ever have to drink again, but that they could show me precisely how they had recovered. They said I did not have to stay in a state of constant struggle, always fighting. They said that I could get well here. They told me that their lives made sense to them and that they could show me a way to live in which my life would make sense to me. At the time, my life didn't make sense to me or anyone else. These days, my life makes sense to me, I know what it is about, and I don't much care if it makes sense to anyone else.
It has been said that to whom much is is given, much will be asked. Early on I awakened to the responsibility I had been given, and at first it scared me and it disturbed me. Think about it, people put their lives in our hands on a daily basis, and that is an awesome responsibilty that I don't take lightly. So to sit and say that I'm still sick and struggling is not only playing small and being irresponsible, it is messing with what can be a life and death situation.
Why do people in A.A. carry the mesaage that denies the Power of God? Well, they are only expressing their own agnosticism. They are afraid, because although we say that lack of power can be a dilemma, power can be a dilemma too, if you don't know what to do with it. Because with power comes responsiblity. They would rather be powerless, unmamageable, irresponsible, and in the dark. They play small, thinking they are being humble, when really it is a false modesty. To quote the late Frank Mck., they are saying that they are less than what they are, they are saying that this program doesn't work. The Power is there, it has always been there. We just have to tap into into it. "We have recovered and have been given the Power to help others." That is what Power is for and to use it for anything else is a waste of spirit.

30 comments:

  1. I have a little problem here, Jim. I don’t fear being inadequate because I don’t consider myself to be so. Nor do I fear being powerful beyond measure because, again, I don’t consider myself to be so.

    Now, as a child of God I could consider myself to be something special, but I don’t believe that fact in itself makes me any more brilliant, gorgeous, talented, etc. than any other child of God. We’re all children of God, thus all begin our lives on the same level playing field. Many become good, reflecting the glory of God within us while others become inherently evil, reflecting the worst in mankind.

    The poor woman at the AA meeting has too many years in AA and not enough days. I would guess that she considers herself an agnostic and is using the group as her higher power. That’s her prerogative, I suppose. I don’t knock agnostics as I don’t get into theological discussions within AA. But after 29 years she should have AA figured out by now.

    We’re not talking rocket science here. We’re talking a fellowship of men and women who have taken 12 simple steps to change their character. Somewhere along the way we experience a spiritual awakening; somewhere along the way the promises come true. After arriving at this point, we try to carry the message to other alcoholics and practice the principles in all our affairs. What’s not to understand?

    Are these people really playing stupid to avoid the responsibility that comes with knowledge? I doubt it. I think it’s simpler than that. These people prefer to remain powerless, irresponsible, and lead unmanageable lives because they don’t want to get sober. And don’t confuse these people who say the program doesn’t work with those who have gotten sober by other means.

    I consider myself a simple man, trying to do God’s will as best I can. I fear neither inadequacy nor adequacy. I am comfortable with what I am as a person, a child of God. I have peace and serenity in my life. And yes I have the power to help others, and I use that power without hesitation.

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  2. Loveable loser... my ego must seek your approval and be liked.

    The measure of my effectiveness is directly proportional to quality of my enemies.

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  3. I don't know. Am I powerful? Is it my power? Who cares? I used to go out with this lady named Darlene (R.I.P.) who first showed me the Marianne Williamson quote. To me, it lines up with what the book says. Why not think of ourselves as intelligent agents, spearheads of God's ever advancing creation? Why not claim the power to work miracles in the lives of people? Why not be what The Creator intended us to be?

    Not long ago, I was called arrogant. I was asked how could I be so arrogant? I said why shouldn't I be utterly confident in The Presence of God? As for enemies, I have some. If my relationship with God is right, all others will be right as well. And so it is.

    Where I AM God is

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  4. Patrick, if your ego must seek my approval, or anyone's approval for that matter, then you'll lead your life trying to please others rather than God. I think you're a little too self-assured to fall into that hole. I've never viewed you as lacking in confidence.

    And Jim, by our nature we humans have power. The strength and effectiveness of that power, I think, is dependent on our realization that we have it and our willingness to use it as God intends for us to do so.

    There's an old saying that I love:
    "He who knows not and knows not that he
    knows not is a fool, ignore him."
    "He who knows not and knows that he knows not, is ignorant. Teach him."
    "He who knows and knows that he knows is a wise man. Follow him."

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  5. I don't think good people are just good and evil people are just evil. Some seem to be wired wrong... but can still choose to do good or to get mores with being evil.

    It takes guts and sacrifice and hard work to live the spiritual life.

    I do seek peoples' approval from time to time... especially in sales.

    I do get caught up in worship of other things. It feels good and right at first. But then it gets boring and dull.

    The spiritual life is not boring. It can seem scary though.. I can also get lazy. You people taught me that I can ask God for the courage to go... just like the evil person or the good and righteous person.

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  6. My name is Paul and I am an alcoholic (in Australia). I was 100% clean and sober from July 8th 2009 till early May this this year; about 22 months.

    I lapsed into alcohol abuse in early May as I was getting close to getting 2 years up.

    I will not bore you with all the details. But I want to say that I have enjoyed reading this blog and the comments,on and off, for over a year.

    Today, I am back to 4 days sober and clean; I have to take meds for a bipolar type illness as I have a "dual diagnosis".

    When I was last released from prison the jail psych reports said.

    Mr Paul .......,

    - Chronic alcohol abuse

    - Bipolar disorder; now in remission

    (- a diagnosis of episodic bipolar schizoaffective disorder was considered)

    - etc

    I have probably written too much here. This is not my AA meeting.

    I have abused alcohol in the past because I am the same as any other alcoholic.

    But the "dual diagnosis" bit makes it worse because as the shrinks have said "alcohol abuse aggravates his (my) underlying psychotic propensities." etc.

    Most times when I get drunk, I just get drunk (which is bad enough) but at other times I have been totally insane while drunk and have committed crimes which have had me spend time in 3 maximum security jails..........as well as 4 long term rehabs over the years.

    I hope and pray that at 48 I have finally had enough and I this time beat my record of 22 months sobriety.

    Thanks again for this blog.

    Paul.

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  7. HI Paul,
    give the steps an honest shot with a recovered alcoholic, you may be amazed at how some of these mental health issues you have mentioned go away. Glad you enjoy this site, there is no bullshit.

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  8. Good to meet you Paul. You're free to post away here. It's been slow lately too, which means we're either very quiet or very busy.

    We're not doctors. I could only suggest though, that you communicate what's going on with your doc and follow the directions on your meds if you need to take them.

    Now, as Rob says, a set of steps with a recovered alcoholic may lead you to a freedom you've never known.

    I'd forget about and not sweat the time you had. It's obvious you need a new foundation anyway.

    Be open to the questions,

    A) are you a real alcoholic? and,
    B) why A.A.? Do you need a spiritual solution?

    Another way to look at b is, are you willing to seek God to solve your "problem"? Notice I said problem and not problems.

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  9. Thanks, Rob B and McGowdog,

    Am I a real alcoholic?

    I believe I am a real alcoholic.

    I have read the Big Book several times. For example, Dr Silkworth in the "doctor's opinion" writes of the manic-depressive type alcoholic. There is also that bit about alcoholics with grave emotional and mental illnesses recovering, if they have the capacity to be honest etc.

    Family, friends, ex-girlfriends, doctors and magistrates and judges have regarded me as an alcoholic.

    Also, I don't believe it is possible to end up 4 times in long term D and A rehabs unless one has a serious problem with alcohol and/or drugs.

    But more simply put, I am an alcoholic because for many years I have drank too much, too often and my drinking has caused me and others a lot of pain, humiliations and troubles etc.

    I honestly believe if I had not had time out (on and off from 1991 to this year, 2011; 20 years) in and out of rehabs, prisons and psych wards, I would not be alive now at 48.

    Sorry for maybe writing too much but since I turned 40 I have made some serious attempts and had some periods of sobriety: 4 months, 5 months, 10 months, 14 months and, my record, 22 months. I have had a little success, in a way, but there is obviously at least one or two important things with recovery that I have not got right.

    Why AA? Why I think I need a spiritual solution?

    Because, here in Australia, I have seen Bob (34 years), Grant (23 years), Richard (11 years) and Jackson (7 years) ie- people I know best in AA; each achieved their sober time with the AA basics of: meetings, steps, spirituality, trying to help other alcoholics, gratitude lists etc.

    I want what each of the above men have. When I was getting close to getting 2 years up, I had some hope that my sobriety might possibly last like theirs did. But that didn't work out.

    All I can do now is start again.

    It is not crazy or irrational of me to think that if I have twice before got over a year sober, then I can probably do that again next time; and then maybe have some hope that I might last even longer this time.

    Thanks if you have read this.

    Next time I comment I'll try to be a lot more brief with the amount of words I write.

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  10. Write away. I think you're doing your best to communicate your truth.

    So... let's talk about the basics; I think you're getting a good hold on this alcoholism. But I challenge you to keep the door open... use the path of consideration as to being alky or not. If you start a spiritual exercise with an answer and not a question... you'll not move from here. Look at the problem drinker... the hard drinker... continuous or not... then the real alky. Do you lose control once you start to drink? Can you stay stopped for long on your own? Have you lost control staying stopped? Do you have a mind that tells you that you can control it this time? If yes to both of those... you just might be one of us.

    Now... this being so... are you ready and willing to quit booze for good and all? Are you ready to go to any lengths to get and stay sober?

    If so... then take a look at your life on your own power... without God. Is that going as intended? Can you manage anything... without God? If not... are you willing to believe that there is a Power... that will meet you where you stand... and take you further in all areas of your life?

    Are you ready and willing to decide into this Power? Or... do you have a plan B? Have you got a few cards up your sleeve? Are you willing to do each and every one of those 12 steps? Including writing an inventory, 5th stepping it, being willing to give up the good and the bad to God... making amends where you caused harm, doing prayer and meditation, helping drunks who are willing to try this?

    That's a quick synopsis of what I was shown. Hope this is helpful to you now.

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  11. Thanks, McGowdog,

    A spiritual question?

    Could that be a prayer to God; "Please God, I need your help to achieve what I have failed at before; that is achieving some long term sobriety (2 plus or more years of sobriety). Can you help me, God?"

    Over the next month month, or maybe more, my plan is:

    -Go back to Step One.
    -get to meetings.
    -do a daily gratitude list.
    -pray to God each morning for help to not pick up that first drink that day.
    -thank God at the end of the day if I have not picked up.
    -shut up and listen when someone with 5 plus years of sobriety is talking to me and offering advice.
    -and then try to follow that advice by my actions.


    I will not answer all your questions here but I am in a big sense the "pure" classic alcoholic in that drinking 2 or 3 beers, or 2 or 3 wines etc, has, hundreds and hundreds of times, just triggered VERY powerful cravings to just keeping drinking until I have often consumed insane amounts; and then I've suffered all the consequences from that; from loss of reputation and loss of jobs, loss of friendships, to loss of my sanity and at times I've lost my freedom by being locked up........and, of course, my closest family have, on and off, over many years, been put through hell because of things I've said done while drunk. (amazingly, many of my closest family have not rejected me but are still offering support as I try again. Maybe because when I was recently sober for 22 months they saw me how I could be if I could be an alcoholic who did not drink......and they still have some hope etc).

    Paul.

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  12. I think going back to step 1 is a great idea.

    But I'd forget about your 20 months, 2 years, etc. Sobriety.

    I'd also forget about this day at a time shit, praying daily for God to keep you sober, and thanking God nightly for another day without a drink.

    Just do the fucking 12 steps or try something else. How far have you gone in the steps before? Have you completed steps 1-8 before and finished all your amends.

    Has anybody in Australia done a set of steps before?

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  13. Ok, I've got to jump in here. Welcome to the blog, Paul. As Rob said, here there's no bullshit. Always good to see new blood. I've read through your posts and have a couple of comments.

    I think you're in a good frame of mind here. You see people with sobriety and want some of what they have. Problem is, you haven't been too successful so far at getting it. Probably because you aren't doing what they do.

    This isn't rocket science here. AA is a 12 step program that's pretty successful for those who really want it. Or, as Patrick asked, are you willing to go to any length to get it? 'Cause if you're not, don't waste your time here. Keep drinking til you're ready to stop.

    I've read your plan for the next month and have a few comments. To begin with, where's your sponsor? We have some discussions among ourselves as to the value of a sponsor, but in your case I think we'd all agree that a sponsor is critical here.

    As Patrick said, go back to Step One but forget the 20 months, 2 years and all that shit. Your past efforts haven't been real success stories, so forget about them. Start over again. But this time start with a sponsor.

    I disagree about the prayer business. Nothing wrong with thanking God and asking for His help. Spirituality, prayer and meditation are integral parts of this program.

    Forget about yesterday, and tomorrow isn't here yet. Focus on what you're doing today. Go to meetings and listen. But don't get hung up on only listening to folks with 5 years or more in the program. Years don't mean shit, it's the quality of sobriety that matters. You'll know it when you see it.

    Accept the fact that you don't know anything and have a lot to learn.

    Learn to take Patrick's sarcasm with a grain of salt. He's a pretty good guy, actually.

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  14. I'll concede that I was a tad abrasive with the day at a time concept.

    But its not in the book. Why not give the 164 a look and see what it says?

    If I decide in and get rolling on a fourth step, I'm under God's protection and care with complete abandon!

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  15. Focusing on what I'm doing today is a little different than the day at a time bullshit from the Rehab Centers. A lot of people either live in the past or project what's gonna happen tomorrow rather than pay attention to the train about to crash into their car, if that makes any sense.

    And a lot of shit isn't in the 164, like sponsors, Home Groups, etc.

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  16. Welcome Paul and hello the everyone else. I apologize for my absence as of late. I have been slammed at work and the rest of life is full as well. I've got two new guys I picked up to work with. One hit the wall at two years with an MOTR sponsor who doesn't think that paying back the money owed in financial amends is that important. The other one I got yesterday, a drug & alcohol counselor who got fired from his job for drinking. He should be fun to work with as he has a head full of ideas. Over last weekend I spoke at a 12th Step workshop, a speaker meeting, (both on Saturday), and on Sunday I facilitated a group inventory.

    Life is good. I'm looking forward to a four day weekend and a little down time.

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  17. And I hope we didn't scare Paul off....

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  18. You were too busy shoving honey down his throat to scare him off.

    If I pissed him off, that's par for the course.

    He told us he was watching us for a year, so... he should have known we would shoot him straight.

    I went to a treatment center meeting this morning and it was like walking death.  No identification, no program, and no hope.  Not for a real alky anyway.

    SR is looking like a wasteland. Carol sure bends over backwards to wipe their asses and keep them comfortable.

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  19. Well Joe, you do have your brass balls on tonight.

    Saw you over at ST.

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  20. I lurked on SR from my work computer last week. Fucking bland is about all I can say.

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  21. ever since we all got the ban, that place has been unlively, there are a few Solid AA's still over there, that being said said, it appears that not making anyone uncomfortable is the ongoing flavor of the day. So be it.

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  22. Shoving honey down his throat? C'mon, Patrick. At least I'm not a dickhead who asks if anyone in Australia has ever done an 8th step. Got something against our Aussie friends?

    Sorry for the lousy typing. Got into a disagreement with a table saw Friday and now can only count to 8.

    I'll have to check in on ST and see if my simple question upset anyone....

    Have to admit I haven't been on SR in a while. Carol deleted another of my responses 'cause I told a guy to stop whining. "Not a positive, constructive statement." OK, here's a positive statement. Keep whining! Let me know how that works out for you.

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  23. Oh, you think the dissing of his country/continent might have pissed him off a bit?

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  24. I think them bloody blokes from down under are fine folks.

    Aren't they just British hillbillies or something?

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  25. Nothing any of you has written has pissed me off.

    I am grateful for your honest views on what could work best for me in staying sober.

    I will think carefully about what each of you has written.

    I have not responded before this because I have been caught up with helping my woman with her serious problems. I am 48 and I am an alcoholic and I have EPISODES of a bipolar illness. Melanie is 36 and also has a bipolar illness. Unlike me Mel does not run to alcohol and/or illegal drugs. Her episodes of depression can be terrible. She very recently almost killed herself by taking too much of the pills that are meant to help her; eg- Seroquel, valium, anti-depressants etc....

    I love her and will stay with her and do my best to help her.

    Regarding sponsors; I met my sponsor in Sydney today. He has had zero alcohol and no heroin for almost 8 years. He still does 3 or 4 AA or NA meetings a week minimum. He has been a part in other drunks and addicts starting up periods of clean and sober time.

    Thanks to all of you again for this blog.

    Paul.

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  26. PS-

    In January this year just after my girlfriend left her physically and emotionally abusive, piece of dog shit, of an ex-husband, she took about 25 nadal (sp?) and almost died and she was in intensive care in hospital for a week.

    Her recent overdose (which she does not mention on her new blog) was an accidental one. She just took too many pills trying to knock herself out into a deep sleep and over did it. This was not over me but over her on going legal dispute/battle with her cock-sucker of an X-husband over who will end up with full custody of the 3 kids. They share custody now. She knows her X has a good lawyer and he will use her illness (which is EPISODIC; and her parents look after the kids then) when the matter is finally resolved in family court.

    Sorry, this has nothing to do with AA and getting and staying sober.

    But, do I have resentments towards Mel's fucking abusive X husband?

    Yes! The dog is lucky he has children or he himself would be in hospital now.

    BTW- Regarding Aussies. I am a white Australian; born in Australia. We have done our family tree and my German-Jewish and Irish ancestors came here as free settlers; but my English/Scottish ancestors probably came to Australia sent by the British as convicts.

    BTW(2)- In D and A rehabs and jails, young Asians, Serbs or Lebanese etc can say to us white Australians:

    "We came here in boats and planes;
    You came here in balls and chains".

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  27. Hey, good to hear from ya Paul.

    Thanks for hangin' in there and prayers to you, your girlfriend, the kids, and freedom from that guy who your girlfriend got free from.

    Sounds like you're hooked up with someone who is in 12 Step and will hopefully lead you into and through the steps.

    Meetings are a vehicle here, but they are NOT a substitute for doing steps. I hope your sponsor is on-board with this. If you don't see him pushing you through finishing the steps, I would find someone else who does steps and pretty much demands you to do likewise. At least give the steps a shot.

    It's pretty obvious you carry some resentment with Mel's ex. He may be an absolute nasty son-of-a-bitch. You can get free of him mentally and perhaps externally, and he dosen't have to change a bit. Just don't let him take your sanity away from you. If nothing else, your girlfriend needs you now. Do everything you can at your legal disposal to keep him from further harm to your new family, but don't fight and push back. Let the law take care of things as best it can. Follow the law, arrange the best deal, work with the counsel you have and whatever. But you need to find God in your life is this is what you're gonna do and the steps can get you there.

    As far as Australia, I'd love to go there. I've got family in Perth. I'd like to check out Sydney I wish I could scuba-dive that Wall before I croak.

    I had family who visited Ireland and the Irish folks were nasty to my American family while they were traversing the country on a bus. Some Australians stepped up and took care of my aunt and cousin. I have great respect for our Australian brothers and sisters... even though I joke.

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  28. McGowdog,

    I'd write more but I have to rush to see a lawyer this morning.

    Thanks for what you wrote.

    About 50 years ago an Oz Prime Minister said Oz is "All the Way with LBJ" etc. So many other Oz political leaders have said and acted the same since.

    Our present PM, Gillard, who was VERY left wing in her early student years and then early lawyer years, still later as PM went to USA and kissed the arse of US congress and big business etc.

    A significant number of my extended family have fought and even died in battles/wars where Oz supported USA all the way.

    I hope you yanks appreciate us! We are possibly in some ways your closest ally at times (which I see the political need for), and your most grovelling (sp?) ally, which at times I don't like.

    Sorry, back to AA. My sponsor is a following the 12 step type of AA and NA member.

    Re- Mel's X husband. The wife and child abusing bastard goes to court for an AVO and other matters on July 19th. If the magistrate decides against him then that could be a factor in him looking fucking bad in Family Court (re custody of kids) at the end of this year.

    To get this back to AA. I once had a sponsor in AA who said it is good to pray for people who have wronged you or those you love. My prayer is that God will see to it that some justice (God's justice, not my idea of justice) is done to this cock-sucking wife abuser. I don't think even God would like a "man" who has raped his 6 month pregnant wife. Then it was "he said/she said" and Mel has bipolar and he is "sane" so who is to be believed etc.

    But to God today I pray re this "man".
    "Your will, not mine be done."

    Now I DO have to run! Shit, shower and shave etc.

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  29. Paul, I also pray for people who tend to piss me off. An example would be "Dear Lord, Please allow my dear friend Patrick to witness your divine presence and glory. Today, if possible."

    And I have been on a few fine pub crawls with your Navy pilots back in the late 60's.

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  30. Well I hope you were on time.

    If we're gonna talk A.A., bout time we got after it.

    What step are you on now?

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