Posted in Sharing

The Practice of Forgiveness

Marianne Williamson says, “The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world.”

We must learn to forgive, not just for ourselves, but because we influence the rest of the world,

including our loved ones and families. Forgiveness is deeply healing. It allows us to live free in the present moment.

But let me be clear about what forgiveness is not:

  1. Forgiveness does not mean condoning. It does not condone past hurtful behavior. Forgiveness is consciously choosing to release past grievances that have happened, so that you can be free and move on with your life. It gives you the power to release resentment.
  2. Forgiveness does not mean inaction. It does not mean that we blindly accept the destructive behaviors of others who threaten our safety. In no way does forgiveness mean that we allow violent acts to continue. Forgiveness takes great strength. True forgiveness frees us from acting out of separation and hate, and empowers us to speak the truth from our hearts.

Forgiveness may seem like a far stretch in the beginning. At first what we often feel is rage, anger, and thoughts of revenge. Violent acts of injustice often spur people toward major action. Anger lets us know something must change. We must not ignore it. But we must take time to acknowledge and experience the pain we feel, so that we do not inadvertently channel more of our pain unto others. Forgiveness is an act of self-empowerment that allows clarity and wisdom to transform our pain into loving action. It makes us clear vessels for positive change.

Forgiveness is healing. It leads you towards greater health and wholeness. Unfortunately, there is no shortcut to learning how to forgive. Finding a way to plant the seed of intention for forgiveness allows it to germinate in its own time, in its own way. When you are gentle, loving and patient toward yourself through the process, the intention of forgiveness will find a way to flower on its own.

Through forgiveness you choose to act from love and strength. But how can you even begin to forgive? Here are 10 ways to start the practice of forgiveness:

  1. Honor your true feelings. What are your true feelings? Do you allow yourself to fully express them, or do you push painful emotions away? In the healing arts, they say “feeling is healing.” By allowing what you really feel, without guilt or shame, you give yourself permission to fully purge your emotions and move forward.
  2. Practice self-observation. Notice the thoughts you have when you choose not to forgive, and the way it affects your health and energy. What happens when you don’t forgive? Where do your attention and energy tend to go? What is the story you keep telling yourself over and over again? Where do you feel contraction in your body?
  3. Imagine being the other. For a moment, take yourself out of your own shoes, and imagine being the other person. Imagine them as a child. What was it like for them to grow up? What was their experience like for them to have behaved the way they did? What was their pain like? Meditate on being the other person and seeing the situation from his/her point of view.
  4. Reflect. Take time to reflect on what happened and how the situation transpired. What was your initial intuition? What unspoken agreements were broken? What is your life lesson in the matter? What good, if any, unfolded as a result?
  5. Open your perspective. Look at the situation from a bird’s eye perspective that can see 360 degrees, across all time and space. What would you tell yourself in 200 years about what happened? What would you say to your perpetrator in 200 years? What do you see happening in other parts of the world?
  6. Take responsibility. When bad things happen, you can feel helpless. In what way can you take responsibility for your own healing and feelings? How do you choose to respond? Robert Parker acknowledges that we all have free will: “I’m not mad. I have my own agency to use this event to do whatever I can to make sure my wife and daughters are taken care of.”
  7. Forgive the other. What would it be like to forgive the other? To simply have an intention to forgive? How does it feel in your body?
  8. Forgive yourself. Can you forgive yourself for what happened? For the judgments, resentments or actions you took? What would it be like to wholly forgive yourself?
  9. Choose to learn. What do you feel that you learned from the situation? What do you want to see change? How would you choose to act differently in the future?
  10. Take positive action. Transform your hurt into positive action. What you experienced as a “lack” or “wrong” in your previous situation, create an abundance of it in your community. If you experienced violence or apathy from those around you, offer service and healing to your community. Notice the effect it has on you and your well-being.

Forgiveness is an act of liberation. It no longer binds you to your perpetrator. It frees you from the past, and any negative energy that you hold within yourself against the other. Keep in mind that you are not giving anything up when you choose to forgive, you are choosing to claim your life back. To learn how to forgive unthinkable acts is possibly one of the most challenging, yet greatest gifts you can bestow upon yourself.

Ultimately, forgiveness is an act of self-love. It is by far one of the most loving things you could do for yourself. It takes great courage and humility to choose to forgive. When you’re feeling challenged, take time to be with your pain. Being present to your own pain is one of the hardest things you can do. But that too, is an act of self-love. It purifies you and asks you to grow. Be gentle with yourself, and let yourself be nurtured in times of unbearable grief. Surround yourself with those who love you. And remember the power of forgiveness.

Posted in Sharing

Twas the night before Christmas…

“Twas the night before Christmas, we were all in the club,
Enjoying the meeting, instead of the pub;
The ashtrays were clean and the coffee was made,
The Big Books were out, and all had prayed.
When out in the lot, there arose such a clatter,
We jumped up from the table to see what was the matter.
The Chair with his Big Book, and I with my smokes,
Headed outside and found these two blokes.
They came on inside, and sat at the table;
Said that they’d chair, as soon as they’re able.
To start with, they said, “It’s more than not drinking.
It’s doing your best to fix your wrong thinking.”
“Think, Think, Think!” and those slogans we used,
Help keep the newcomer from getting confused.
Step 1 is a start, they said we should know,
But after Step 2, we’ll be all aglow.
We make a decision when we get to Step 3;
Step 4 is real tough, we all could agree.
Step 5 is the one where we let it all out,
After Steps 6 and 7, we’re left with no doubt.
We get to Step 8, and we make our list;
And then with Step 9, we have to persist.
After Step 9, our promises ring true;
We didn’t just get that, out of the blue.
After that, it’s on with the rest;
We must do each day, to be our best.
They put on their coats and got ready to leave;
A pretty good end, for this Christmas Eve.
As to their names, we only could guess;
I’m pretty sure it was Bill W. and Bob S.
The two men hopped into a ’35 Ford,
And as they pulled out, one of them roared:
“We leave this message, for you our brothers:
Trust God, clean house, be of service to others.
And for all of you people, we just want to say:
Merry Christmas to all and don’t drink today.”

Posted in Events

12 Ways To Accept

  1. ACCEPT, that I am a sick person, and need help and that help can be found by attending meetings, reading literature and by practicing the program at all times.
  2. ACCEPT, that I am powerless over anyone, but that I do have the power to change myself.
  3. ACCEPT, that I am not responsible for everyone’s actions, but I am responsible to myself.
  4. ACCEPT, God or a Higher Power back into my life. To LET GO AND LET GOD, and to learn to have patience by not taking things back too quickly and trying to manage or play God myself.
  5. ACCEPT, that I am a good person and it is OK to be good to myself. Don’t be afraid to be happy and enjoy what is beautiful. Always remember, I’m OK, GOD DOESN’T MAKE JUNK.
  6. ACCEPT, tolerance with others and especially myself, having faith that I can grow in our program and become a whole person again.
  7. ACCEPT, things I do not like, realizing that all things do not have good to be acceptable. By having to let someone we love suffer for their own mistakes, or actions, by detaching with love.
  8. ACCEPT, that I do not have to be right all the time and that it is OK to be wrong or make mistake, our mistakes can be a learning experience.
  9. ACCEPT, that it is OK to say I’m wrong and ask forgiveness when I hurt or wrong someone.
  10. ACCEPT, that I must be open-minded enough to listen thoughtfully to the opinions of others.
  11. ACCEPT, that each day is a new beginning and that it is within my power to make that day as good and happy as I want it to be.
  12. ACCEPT, that I have no control over the PAST. That TOMORROW is beyond our immediate control for it is yet unborn. This leaves only TODAY. Let us therefore live but ONE DAY AT A TIME!
Posted in Sharing

Emotional Maturity

The mature person has developed attitudes in relation to himself and his environment which have lifted him above “childishness” in thought and behavior.

My Mind Is My Garden,
My Thoughts Are My Seeds.
I Will Harvest Either Flowers or Weeds.

Some of the characteristics of the person who has achieved true adulthood are suggested here:

  1. He accepts criticism gratefully, being honestly glad for an opportunity to improve.
  2. He does not indulge in self-pity. He has begun to feel the laws of compensation operating in all life.
  3. He does not expect special consideration from anyone.
  4. He controls his temper.
  5. He meets emergencies with poise.
  6. His feelings are not easily hurt.
  7. He accepts the responsibility of his own actions without trying to “alibi.”
  8. He has outgrown the “all or nothing” stage. He recognizes that no person or situation is wholly good or wholly bad, and he begins to appreciate the Golden Mean.
  9. He is not impatient at reasonable delays. He has learned that he is not the arbiter of the universe and that he must often adjust himself to other people and their convenience.
  10. He is a good loser. He can endure defeat and disappointment without whining or complaining.
  11. He does not worry about things he cannot help.
  12. He is not given to boasting or “showing off” in socially unacceptable ways.
  13. He is honestly glad when others enjoy success or good fortune. He has outgrown envy and jealousy.
  14. He is open-minded enough to listen thoughtfully to the opinions of others.
  15. He is not a chronic “fault-finder.”
  16. He plans things in advance rather than trusting to the inspiration of the moment.

Last of all, we think in terms of spiritual maturity:

  1. He has faith in a Power greater then himself.
  2. He feels himself an organic part of mankind as a whole, contributing his part to each group of which he is a member.
  3. He obeys the spiritual essence of the Golden Rule: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

Emotional sobriety is when:

  1. I am free of resentments, jealousy, and envy–and free to forgive quickly.
  2. My emotions are not so violent that they cause me to go or be on a dry drunk.
  3. I am able to make normal everyday decisions without my vision being unduly influenced by my emotions.
  4. I am able to identify & live by my personal values without compromise to emotional pressure.
  5. I am able to enjoy life as spiritual principles would dictate–such as being properly revolted by ugliness, sin and suffering, and positively rewarded by happenings of love, beauty and principle.
  6. I am happy when others do things better or quicker than I have done them.
  7. My emotions are in sync with my intellect and both are in synch with God’s Will.
  8. I can live freely without being emotionally subservient to another human being.
  9. I can move freely between the emotional states of child, adult and parent.
  10. I derive genuine, healthy pleasure from helping others without thought of reward, money, prestige or station.
Posted in Sharing

A Good Life

When I came to AA my life was certainly not good
I needed to stop drinking, but not sure that I could
I’d lost self-respect; I was completely beaten down
My daughter would not even let my grandkids come around

The wife had stood by me, but her patience wearing thin
My best friend at that moment was my bottle of gin
My partners in business said it’s time I should leave
I had lost almost everything I’d worked hard to achieve

So I went to rehab, then after, to AA
But I was not convinced they could show me a new way
A way of life that would remove my alcohol obsession
To ward off that first drink that would then lead to regression

But I’d made a commitment, to do what those folks said
For I knew if I did not, I just might end up dead
So, I went to a meeting every day as was suggested
Asked help from a sponsor, to help me get connected

Then after a while, things did begin to change
A chance for my redemption did not really seem strange
The thoughts about drinking slowly did start to cease
It had been some time since my mind felt this inner peace

But, although my life was better and had greatly improved
There was still stinking thinking, that had not yet been removed
A reminder of some things I’d done, during my drinking past
This would lead me to start thinking, this new life would not last

All my character defects had not been deleted
Envy was the one that most often got repeated
It happened once again at my brother’s newly built house
It was huge for two people, just himself and his spouse

Our families were invited to a house warming type bash
The house was a real showplace, costing him bundles of cash
The party was catered, and no expense was left undone
Yet I could not enjoy it, I was not having fun

I experienced envy and began to regret
The past I had chosen, one I’d rather soon forget
The time that I spent drinking, and the harm it had cost
The money that I wasted, the earnings that I’d lost

But as I sat there thinking and began to look around
The program kicked in, and my thoughts did settle down
My brother had almost everything that his money could buy
But the thing that was missing helped to open up my eyes

He’d not talked to his daughter for almost twenty years
His son lived in Montana, so he rarely appeared
No children or grandkids to enjoy all that he’d made
The pleasures of a family had somehow been mislaid

As I looked round the room, gratitude filled my mind
I saw all of MY family and they all lived real close by
My wife and our three children, and seven grandkids, all were there
The best years of my life with them, our family time to share

Had I not found AA, I would not have had this gift
Consumed by the drink had caused my family to drift
Today we’re all together, a family reunited
The spark that I had lost, has been once again ignited

Any time my brain begins to have thoughts like these
I think back to that night, that helps puts me at ease
Surrounded my family, kids, grandkids and wife
I know now what it means to say that I have A Good Life

Larry R.

Posted in Sharing

The 12 Steps – A New Perspective

I took Step One, began to moan
I can’t do this one on my own.

I took Step Two, began to pray
Restore me God, please now, today.

I took Step Three, gave up my will
Maybe God could love me still.

I took a Fourth, I looked inside
Nothing more would I hide.

And on the Fifth, I said aloud
I’ve done some wrong, and I’m not proud.

I took Step Six, and got prepared
To lose the defects, I was scared.

Now I’m at Seven, take them away
My God, for this I do pray.

And on Eight, the list was long
Amends to make for all the wrongs.

I took Step Nine, put down my pride
Amends made, I will not hide.

Step Ten I take, each day I pray
I make amends along the way.

And on Eleven I pray to know
Each day His will, which way to go.

I take Step Twelve, I’m like a bird
To others now, I spread the word….

(Author unknown)

Posted in Sharing

The Road to Humility

The word ego is actually the Latin word for I
That makes a lot of sense when you decide to wonder why
Our ego makes us do things that we may come to regret
Like boasting of our exploits when we use the internet

When kept under control it’s very healthy to posses
It’s what makes us unique, it helps our talents to progress
A measure of self-confidence we need to venture out
When starting a new venture where success may be in doubt

But once out of control, the ego takes another path
It leads us to become someone who soon will feel its wrath
It cons us into thinking we are always in the right
When challenged we lash out and become ready for a fight

When told we’re drinking way too much, we say it isn’t true
We say “you are mistaken and you haven’t got a clue “
Our egotells us they are wrong, we’re strong enough to quit
We just don’t want to at this time, we’ll slow down just a bit

But slowing down don’t seem to work, in fact it’s gotten worse
We start to hide it from our friends, and then we start to curse
Those people passing judgement, make us start to feel ashamed
It’s then we finally realize that our ego is to blame

To us the word humility is not our egos friend
It tears apart what we’ve believed, it wants us to pretend
That all is well, ignore the fact that we’ve lost all control
Until we hear that desperation bell begin to toll

For some of us we had to lose the things we held most dear
The spouse, the job, the car we wrecked, our life consumed with fear
Yet other still have reached this point without those other things
We’ve hit a bottom, none the less, the misery it brings

It’s called humiliation, so ashamed what we’ve become
Inside we feel no different than the lowly sidewalk bum
It’s at those final moments that the ego must be smashed
If we will have a chance to live, before all hope is dashed

For most of us humility was not an easy task
Potholes filled the road we took, we stumbled to get past
Our ego keeps us off that road till we admit defeat
Put it aside and ask for help, acknowledge we’ve been beat

Humility’s a virtue, humiliation a disease
One brings us back our self-respect, the other to our knees
Us alcoholics need to go through one to reach the other
The road to reach humility and help us to recover

Larry R.

Posted in Sharing

16 Relapse Symptoms To Watch Out For

  1. Exhaustion – Allowing oneself to become overly tired; usually associated with work addiction as an excuse for not facing personal frustrations.
  2. Dishonesty – Begins with pattern of little lies; escalated to self-delusion and making excuses for not doing what’s called for.
  3. Impatience – I want what I want NOW. Others aren’t doing what I think they should or living the way I know is right.
  4. Argumentative – No point is too small or insignificant not to be debated to the point of anger and submission.
  5. Depression – All unreasonable, unaccountable despair should be exposed and discussed, not repressed: what is the “exact nature” of those feelings?
  6. Frustration – Controlled anger/resentment when things don’t go according to our plans. Lack of acceptance. See #3.
  7. Self-pity – Feeling victimized, put-upon, used, unappreciated: convinced we are being singled out for bad luck.
  8. Cockiness – Got it made. Know all there is to know. Can go anywhere, including frequent visits just to hang-out at bars, boozy parties.
  9. Complacency – Like #8, no longer sees value of daily program, meetings, contact with other alcoholics, (especially sponsor!), feels healthy, on top of the world, things are going well. Heck may even be cured!
  10. Expecting too much of others – Why can’t they read my mind? I’ve changed, what’s holding them up? If they just do what I know is best for them? Leads to feeling misunderstood, unappreciated. See #6.
  11. Letting up on disciplines – Allowing established habits of recovery – meditations, prayer, spiritual reading, AA contact, daily inventory, meetings – – to slip out of our routines; allowing recovery to get boring and no longer stimulating for growth. Why bother?!
  12. Using mood-altering chemicals – May have a valid medical reason, but misused to help avoid the real problems of impending alcoholic relapse.
  13. Wanting too much – Setting unrealistic goals: not providing for short-term successes; placing too much value on material success, not enough on value of spiritual growth.
  14. Forgetting gratitude – Because of several listed above, may lose sight of the abundant blessings in our everyday lives: too focused on # 13.
  15. “It can’t happen to me.” – Feeling immune; forgetting what we know about the disease of alcoholism and its progressive nature.
  16. Omnipotence – A combination of several attitudes listed above; leads to ignoring danger signs, disregarding warnings and advice from fellow members.

— Akron Intergroup News, December 1998

Posted in Sharing

Emotional sobriety is when:

  1. I am free of resentments, jealousy, and envy–and free to forgive quickly.
  2. My emotions are not so violent that they cause me to go or be on a dry drunk.
  3. I am able to make normal everyday decisions without my vision being unduly influenced by my emotions.
  4. I am able to identify & live by my personal values without compromise to emotional pressure.
  5. I am able to enjoy life as spiritual principles would dictate–such as being properly revolted by ugliness, sin and suffering, and positively rewarded by happenings of love, beauty and principle.
  6. I am happy when others do things better or quicker than I have done them.
  7. My emotions are in sync with my intellect and both are in synch with God’s Will.
  8. I can live freely without being emotionally subservient to another human being.
  9. I can move freely between the emotional states of child, adult and parent.
  10. I derive genuine, healthy pleasure from helping others without thought of reward, money, prestige or station.