From the BlogMeet Ron

Some posts from Chuck D.

The only intrinsic evil is lack of love. 
–John Robinson
When we have feelings of guilt or self-hate, we have spiritual problems. It is a time to turn to our program for help. In the early stages of recovery we may, at times, feel more shameful than we ever did before, simply because we are becoming honest about how we feel. We may even become ashamed of our guilty feelings, and then the problem escalates.
Lack of love for ourselves is at the heart of our problem. We cannot become self-loving by force of will, but we can stop being so willful by simply yielding to the care of a loving God. At those moments we do not feel deserving of love, but we can stop fending it off. Perhaps God’s love is coming to us in the concern of a friend or partner. Maybe it comes in the warm sunshine or in the smile of a child. As we yield to it, we take a spiritual leap into a world we don’t control and we didn’t create, but we can be healed by it.
Today, I will surrender to the love which comes from the world around me and let it teach me how to love myself.
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“If a man does not know what port he is steering for,
no wind is favorable to him.”
 
It’s surprising how easy it can be to just let life send us careening this way and that, as if our boat has lost its rudder. We complain every step of the way, of course, about how bad our luck is, how nothing is turning out the way we want.
   How can we be disappointed about where we land when we didn’t know where we going in the first place?
 
If I want my life to make sense, I need to start with a mental map of what direction I want to go.
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Thought to Ponder
A “shortcoming” is like a flat tire.
A “character defect” is driving on it.

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A good indignation brings out all one’s powers.
–Ralph Waldo Emerson
 
Anger is a human emotion that gets us in touch with our energy and our vitality. But like any good thing, it can also be used in hurtful ways. When we examine the role anger has played in our lives, some of us can see where we used it to intimidate and dominate others. Maybe we can recall being terrified by someone else’s anger or even by our own. Some of us denied our anger and covered it with excessive helpfulness.
Examining the place anger has had in our lives Is one of the doorways we must pass through to regain our full spirit. We learn to set aside the anger we used to cover fear or hurt. We express it respectfully and honestly when we feel it in a relationship. Expressing anger does not have to be abusive or rejecting. It can mean we care enough to be fully involved and we will not leave after we express it. We can learn to hear others in their anger rather than an attempt to control or evade their message. In the process we are invigorated and feel healthier because we are claiming a larger part of ourselves.
 
Today, I will first be honest with myself about angry feelings. Then I will find respectful ways to express them.

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Here’s some more from Chuck D.

THE PARENTS WHO DRUGGED US. 
The other day I was in an old farmhouse in the adjoining county and someone asked me a rhetorical question, ‘Why didn’t we have a drug problem when you and I were growing up?’

 I replied that I had a drug problem when I was young: I was drug to church on Sunday morning. I was drug to church for weddings and funerals. I was drug to family reunions and community socials no matter the weather.

 I was drug by my ears when I was disrespectful to adults. I was also drug to the woodshed when I disobeyed my parents, told a lie, brought home a bad report card, did not speak with respect, spoke ill of the teacher or the priest, or if I didn’t put forth my best effort in everything that was asked of me.
 I was drug to the kitchen sink to have my mouth washed out with soap if I uttered a profanity. I was drug out to pull weeds in mom’s garden and flower beds. I was drug to the homes of neighbors to help mow the yard, repair the clothesline, and if my mother had ever known that I took a single dime as a tip for this kindness, my dad would have drug me back to the woodshed.

 Those drugs are still in my veins and they affect my behavior in everything I do, say, or think. They are stronger than cocaine, crack, or heroin: and if today’s children had this kind of drug problem, America would be a better place.
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The ONLY reason to drink
Staying Sober

There’s only one real reason I can ever have for taking a drink, ant that’s because I want to.

This remark at a meeting sums up AA’s position on why we drink. We never really drink because of pressures and troubles. We drink because we want to, because we feel like taking a drink.

It’s true that a serious crisis, like going into bankruptcy may make us conscious of an urge to drink. But we know that we’re also likely to have such urges in the face of good fortune. The alcoholic who would drink over a bankruptcy would also probably get drunk if he or she won the lottery.

By refusing to accept all of these alleged reasons for drinking, AA simplified our problem so we can deal with it. We either want to drink or we don’t want to drink, period. Even if we want to drink….. and some members do…. AA can show us how to stay sober and eventually lose such desires.
Nothing has the power to make me drink today. It is only my own willfulness that can destroy my sobriety.
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He who conceals his disease cannot expect to be cured.
–Ethiopian proverb

Concealment and secrecy have been second nature to some of us. We may have felt that our femininity/masculinity kept us loners. Perhaps we said we were covering the truth for someone else’s good. Maybe we could not bear to expose the truth because we feared the consequences. For some of us a lie came more automatically than the truth. Now we are learning to be open with our friends, and we are finding the healing effect of fresh air for our secrets.

Although it’s frightening to stop tampering with the truth, it’s also exciting to feel the power of honesty and to deal with the consequences of uncovering it. Perhaps we still have some secrets that erode our wellbeing. If so, we need to bring them into the open so we can live completely honest lives. When we let others know us as we really are, we are casting our lot with good health and recovery.Today, I will make progress in my recovery by letting myself be fully known.
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Heressssss more Chuck D.

“Wait till next year!” is the favorite cry of baseball fans,
football fans, hockey fans, and gardeners.
–Robert Orben

 

Hope was a casualty for many of us in our life of chaos and extremes. Some of us said to ourselves, “Life is just drab, I’d better get used to it.” We may have slowly changed our definition of normal to mean a hopeless existence. Others of us held onto some shred of hope that said “Better times are just around the comer,” but it only kept us from confronting how disastrous our lives had become. We are siblings in that we truly have been people on a dead-end path.

Our new lives have seen the dawning of true hope that has a solid base upon reality. We have the reality of friendships with our brothers and sisters. They provide comfort and support which are reliable and durable. We have the reality of our clearer thinking and our amended lives. We may not have everything we could desire, but we are actually on the road and progressing in directions we wish to go. We are engaged in the adventure of increasing our conscious contact with God. Our hope is founded in what we already feel in our lives.

Today, nothing is perfect, but hope underlies everything.
With the return of hope, I have my life back again.
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I would like to highly recommend reading the story in the July Grapevine “Something to Behold” written by a member who got sober in 1955. It shows what our meetings were like, focused on the new comer and not drinking “today” . Not a form of group therapy where not drinking is replaced with relationships, no work, finances, car broke down I could go on and on, God
forbid we talk solutions.  As a side note I spoke at a large meeting in La Jolla, Ca. couple of weeks ago (approx. 200) it was June 10th and less than 25 people knew it was the Anniversary of our Fellowship. They meet in a Beautiful Church with large signs ask “NO SMOKING” about 80 were standing outside before the meeting and at the break smoking. The meeting was in the Church Sanctuary and a girl with 4 year was the 5 min. speaker and in that short time ever other word was F— and S— and no one made a comment. ( I DID ) They call this the norm now. So SAD.

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In the life of the Indian there is only one inevitable duty – the duty of prayer – the daily recognition of the Unseen and Eternal. He sees no need for setting apart one day in seven as a holy day, since to him all days are God’s.
–Ohiyesa, Santee Dakota

Some of our past troubles came from our naive arrogance. We failed to acknowledge anything beyond ourselves. Whatever was unseen or eternal remained invisible to us. We were skeptical, scientific, task-oriented, self-centered, and unreflective. It’s like we had been racing down a country highway at top speed, hardly tuned in to the rich vitality of life that surrounded us. When we stopped the car and explored the road banks, we could suddenly smell the grasses, hear birds singing, perhaps see a whole community in an anthill, or watch a darting squirrel.

Coming to believe in a Power greater than ourselves is not something we create on our own. It is largely a matter of shifting our attention, of being open to the spiritual. We don’t need to force it. We need only be willing to quiet ourselves and notice. Ultimately, every moment is sacred.
Today, may I live from moment to moment.
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hERE ARE SOME MORE GOODIES FROM CHUCK D.

Choice of attention – to pay attention to this and ignore that – is to the inner life what choice of action is to the outer. In both cases, a man is responsible for his choice and must accept the consequences. 
–W. H. Auden
 
Many of us have said, “I can’t help myself!” when we tried to stop our constant thinking about other people or their behavior. “I know it’s not good for me, but what can I do when they keep acting that way?”
Let us think of ourselves as living in a house with many windows. At each window is a different view, and within each view are many things to catch our attention. Perhaps there are some people, some traffic, some buildings, a horizon, and some trees. If we always go to the same window and focus on the same object, we are not using all our choices. We may have overlooked some things in our lives that need attention. There are many things we are totally powerless over. Our power exists in changing the focus of our attention.
   Today, I will notice where I am choosing to pay attention.
I pray for guidance in being aware of my options
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Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it. 
–Helen Keller
 
When we look at our life and at the lives of others, it is clear that pain is part of life. We cannot escape this tragic truth; our growth and our wholeness must include it because our recovery stresses honesty. In our old way of living, we may have been bitter. Many of us felt sorry for ourselves. Some of us cursed God and wasted time in our self-centeredness, thinking life was especially unfair to us. Life is not fair; it just is. It is left to us to choose how we will respond.
People’s responses to life inspire us. We not only acknowledge the pain, but we see the heroic lives of others around us. They met their limitations and went forward with a willing spirit and faith. Today we can be grateful for the progress we have made in overcoming our suffering. We have friends who give us the joy of human contact. We have choices and possibilities where we never saw them before. We have a growing self-respect.
I accept the reality of life, and I will respond
with faith in the choices I make today.

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Despair is the absolute extreme of self-love. It is reached when a man deliberately turns his back on all help from anyone else in order to taste the rotten luxury of knowing himself to be lost.
–Thomas Merton
 
The surest way to unhappiness is to concentrate only on ourselves. Nothing will bring on despair quicker than thinking only of our own concerns. Extreme self-centeredness brings alienation from God, from our friends, and loved ones.
 
The surest remedy is to pray, not for our own comfort, but for God to bless someone else. If self-centeredness is contributing to our unhappiness, focusing some attention on others is the way out. We always get help for the blues by offering a hand to another or accepting a hand ourselves.
I can avoid despair by looking beyond myself. 

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THANKS CHUCK D.

It’s not hard. When I’m not hittin’, I don’t hit nobody.
But when I’m hittin’, I hit anybody!
–Willie Mays

It seems like some days everything goes our way. Everything falls together in a way that makes life easier for us. Other days are just the opposite; on a bad day we seem to be all thumbs. In our spiritual practice we know we don’t control all that goes on around us.
We all are vulnerable to accidents, random misfortune, and illness. Yet, when we don’t fight against the events of our lives, somehow things go better for us. We can remember that as difficult as a day may be, we are never alone because nothing can separate us from our Higher Power. When we accept the bad things that come, even though they are unfair, we give them less power in our lives. Then we are free to go forward and leave more room for the good things.Today, I’ll accept the problems I must confront and leave room for the good things.
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The loneliness each man feels is his hunger for life itself….
It is the yearning that makes fulfillment possible.
–Ross Mooney

Many different journeys have been taken by the folks who finally entered this program in search of hope. Most of us have known our own brand of desperation, but we have one thing in common – the loneliness we felt. Some of us felt left out of our families and other groups. We were appalled by what was happening in our lives, alone with our secrets, as if no one truly knew us. Some of us even romanticized our loneliness as a form of heroism.

As we gave up our controlling behaviors, false pride over-competitiveness, and striving for power, we made our weak spots and secrets more obvious. We became more accessible to friends. As we count the blessings of recovery, high on our list is that we are no longer lonely.

In part, what kept me going and led me to this program was my hunger for life.
I’m grateful for the friends who truly know me now, and still accept me.

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A father is a thousand schoolmasters.
–Louis Nizer

We carry our fathers within us in ways we may not notice. When we do notice this in our thoughts and actions, we can use this relationship as a source of strength. When we hear a critical mental message saying we didn’t perform well enough, is it a father’s voice? When we feel a sense of strength and peace, are we in touch with our childhood knowledge of fatherly love? When we doubt our ability to get along with any woman, are we relying on what we learned in our childhood homes?

Perhaps we can recast our father-son relationship in adult terms. Were our fathers too removed from our lives for us to know them? Maybe we can see now that a father’s love was there but was overshadowed by the demands of survival or by a misguided life. If we are forever seeking our fathers’ approval, we may need to find the ways in which they are truly human and imperfect like us. Making peace with them – whether face to face or in the memory of a relationship – empowers us with their strengths and grants us the adulthood we deserve.

I will make peace with my father in my mind, and his strength and that of his father will be a well-spring, in my life.
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SOME MORE FROM CHUCK D.

Come, Love! Sing On! Let me hear you sing this song – sing for joy and laugh, for I the creator am truly subject to all creatures. –Mechtild of Magdeburgm  

Recovery without joy and song and playfulness is incomplete. The beauty of music uplifts our spirits and shows us the face of our Creator. For many men, music is their means of meditation and conscious contact with their Higher Power. When we experience the creativity of a musical piece, as it speaks to us, we take a step beyond the practical world, into the profound level of creation.
Some people say, “How can you celebrate when there is so much suffering, so much to grieve about?” We have grieved; we continue to grieve alongside our joy. But we need not pour all our energies into the painful and sad. Life is also wonderful. Music and dance and the joy of good fellowship enrich our lives and strengthen us to go on.
Praise the spirit of our Creator for all that is given to us!
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Originality is unexplored territory. You get there by carrying a canoe – you can’t take a taxi.
–Alan Alda

   We are on an adventure trip in this program. Each of us is a wilderness that is only partly explored and mapped. We can’t know exactly what we will find along the way, but we can expect to find some great and moving beauty, some spectacular experiences, as well as awesome and frightening ones, and some soft, pleasant rest spots. Any day will have a mixture of various feelings.
This program is not a map of the uncharted territory. It is a guide for survival in the wilderness. It tells us how to orient ourselves when there are no familiar landmarks and how to learn and grow from the experience. The more time we spend in this wilderness, exploring the mystery of living, the more comfortable we become with it and the greater appreciation we have for its unique beauty.
   Today, I pray for the courage to explore the original person I was created to be.
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I believe our concept of romantic love is irrational, impossible to fulfill, and the cause of many broken homes. No human being can maintain that rarefied atmosphere of “true love.”
–Rita Mae Brown
   What the popular media teach us about marriage and love is poor preparation for the real thing. When we enter a relationship we may be filled with a feeling of magic and excitement of new love. But that is not a good basis for a lifelong commitment. Love at first sight is no reason for marriage. Many of us, upon meeting difficulties in our relationships, said to ourselves, “Maybe it wasn’t true love after all, because now I don’t feel in love with my mate anymore.”
   Honesty and learning how to resolve difficulties provide a solid foundation for durable love. Some relationships do not survive the honesty of recovery. Sometimes the development of honest love only begins with recovery. The love that endures, the love of real intimacy, comes when we know the real person. Loyalty to our loved ones may deepen as we deal more and more with reality.
  As I grow in this program, married or single, I become more able to have an enduring love.
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The Fundamentals–In Retrospect – Dr. Bob

AA Grapevine – September 1948

The Fundamentals–In Retrospect –
Dr. Bob

THE feeling that one belongs to and has a definite personal part in the work of a growing and spiritually prospering organization for the release of the alcoholics of mankind from a deadly enslavement is always gratifying. For me, there is double gratification in the realization that more than 13 years ago, an All-wise Providence, whose ways must always be mysterious to our limited understandings, brought me to “see my duty clear” and to contribute in a decent humility, as have so many others, my part in guiding the first trembling steps of the then infant organization, Alcoholics Anonymous.

It is fitting at this time to indulge in some retrospect regarding certain fundamentals. Much has been written, much has been said about the 12 Steps of A.A. These tenets of our faith and practice were not worked out overnight and then presented to our members as an opportunist creed. Born of our early trials and many tribulations, they were and are the result of humble and sincere desire, sought in personal prayer for Divine guidance.

As finally expressed and offered, they are simple in language, plain in meaning. They are also workable by any person having a sincere desire to obtain and keep sobriety. The results are the proof. Their simplicity and workability are such that no special interpretations, and certainly no reservations, have ever been necessary. And it has become increasingly clear that the degree of harmonious living which we achieve is in direct ratio to our earnest attempt to follow them literally under Divine guidance to the best of our ability.

YET, withal, there are no “shibboleths” in A.A. We are not bound by the thongs of theological doctrine. None of us may be excommunicated and cast into outer darkness. For we are many minds in our organization and an A.A. Decalogue in the language of “Thou shalt not” would gall us indeed.
Look at our 12 Points of A.A. Tradition. No random expressions these, based on just casual observation. On the contrary, they represent the sum of our experience as individuals, as groups within A.A. and similarly with our fellows and other organizations in the great fellowship of humanity under God throughout the world. They are entirely suggestive, yet the spirit in which they have been conceived merits their serious, prayerful consideration as the guidepost of A.A. policy for the individual, the group and our various committees, local and national.

We have found it wise policy, too, to hold to no glorification of the individual. Obviously, that is sound. Most of us will concede that when it came to the personal showdown of admitting our failures and deciding to surrender our will and our lives to Almighty God, as we understood Him, we still had some sneaking ideas of personal justification and excuse. We had to discard them but the ego of the alcoholic dies a hard death. Many of us because of activity have received praise not only from our fellow A.A.s but from the world at large. We would be ungrateful indeed to be boorish when that happens yet it is so easy for us to become, privately perhaps, just a little vain about it all. Yet, fitting and wearing halos is not for us.

WE’VE all seen the new member who stays sober for a time, largely through sponsor-worship. Then maybe the sponsor gets drunk and you know what usually happens. Left without a human prop, the new member gets drunk too. He has been glorifying an individual instead of following the Program.

Certainly we need leaders but we must regard them as the human agents of the Higher Power and not with undue adulation as individuals. The 4th and 10th Steps can not be too strongly emphasized here–“Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves . . . continue to make personal inventory . . . promptly admit it when we are wrong.” There is your perfect antidote for halo-poisoning.

So with the question of Anonymity. If we have a banner, that word, speaking of the surrender of the individual–the ego–is emblazoned on it. Let us dwell thoughtfully on its full meaning and learn thereby to remain humble, modest, ever-conscious that we are eternally under Divine direction.

ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS was nurtured in its early days around a kitchen table. Many of our pioneer groups, some of our most result-full meetings and best programs have had their origin around that modest piece of furniture with the coffee pot handy on the stove.

True, we have progressed materially to better furniture and more comfortable surroundings, yet the kitchen table must ever be appropriate for us. It is the perfect symbol of simplicity. In A.A. we have no V.I.P.’s nor have we need of any. Our organization needs no title-holders nor grandiose buildings. That is by design. Experience has taught us that simplicity is basic in preservation of our personal sobriety and helping those in need.
Far better it is for us to fully understand the meaning and practice of “Thou good and faithful servant” than to listen to “With 60,000 members you should have a 60 stories high administration headquarters in New York with an assortment of trained ‘ists’ to direct your affairs.” We need nothing of the sort. God grant that A.A. may ever stay simple.

Over the years we have tested and developed suitable techniques for our purpose. They are entirely flexible. We have all known and seen miracles–the healing of broken individuals, the rebuilding of broken homes. And always, it has been the constructive personal 12th Step work based on an ever upward-looking faith which has done the job.

IN as large an organization as ours, we naturally have had our share of those who fail to measure up to certain obvious standards of conduct. They have included schemers for personal gain, petty swindlers and confidence men, crooks of various kinds and other human fallibles. Relatively their number has been small, much smaller than in many religious and social uplift organizations. Yet they have been a problem and not an easy one. They have caused many an A.A. to stop thinking and working constructively for a time.

We cannot condone their actions, yet we must concede that when we have used normal caution and precaution in dealing with such cases, we may safely leave them to that Higher Power. Let me reiterate that we A.A.’s are many men and women, that we are of many minds. It will be well for us to concentrate on the goal of personal sobriety and active work. We humans and alcoholics on strict moral stock-taking must confess to at least a slight degree of larcenous instinct. We can hardly arrogate the roles of judges and executioners.

Thirteen grand years! To have been a part of it all from the beginning has been reward indeed.

Dr. Bob
AA Co-Founder, Dr. Bob, September 1948
The Best of the Grapevine, Volume 2