Endigar 808

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 5, 2018 by endigar

From Courage to Change of March 16;

Progress can be hard to recognize, especially if our expectations are unrealistically high. If we expect our negative attitudes or unhealthy behavior to change quickly and completely, we are likely to be disappointed — progress is hard to see when we measure ourselves against idealized standards. Perhaps it would be better to compare our present circumstances only to where we had been in the past.

For example, a Fourth Step inventory led me to realize that I hold grudges and that they hurt me. I try to let go of resentments and I despair when these attitudes persist. Fortunately, Al-Anon has taught me to focus on progress, not perfection. Although sometimes I still hold on to resentments, I know I’m making progress because I don’t do it as often as I used to or for as long a time.

Today I am no longer seeking perfection; the only thing that matters is the direction in which I’m moving.

Today’s Reminder

As a result of hard work in Al-Anon and a willingness to change, I am moving in a positive direction. I will celebrate my progress today. I know that the process of recovery will continue to help me grow toward a better way of living.

“Keep adding little by little and you will soon have a big hoard.” ~ Latin Proverb

 

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I tend to procrastinate. I have difficulty completing projects. I am highly distractible. My attempts to confront these short-comings lead to internal proclamations; “From this day forth, I shall be efficient and focused!” When this resolve expired within the coming days, I would build great resentments against myself. The image of what I wasn’t grew stronger. The tyrant of the “perfect me” gave birth to an anarchist rebellion within. Responsibilities were to be evaded and minimized. Withdrawal from public observation was paramount. Introspection gave way to morbid rumination. The overall direction of my life drew me to a lack of confidence inspired by self-hatred.

My alcoholism forced me to fail in monumental fashion. The recovery I sought forced my life into the spotlight of a moral inventory. There were others around me who had overcome bit by bit while continuing to fall along the way. I was accepted by these “non-saints” who moved toward a life worth sharing. The “perfect me” tyrant was revealed to be an icon I forged to stand above all criticism. There was nothing truly perfect about it. Establishing a standard of perfection while in a very imperfect state is an exercise in futility. The Infinite One has a grasp on what perfection truly looks like, and still created me. Perfection then, is progress in this relationship with the ultimate loving Father. This is now my reality, and it works well for me.

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Endigar 807

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 4, 2018 by endigar

From Courage to Change of March 15;

Before Al-Anon, forgiveness meant power to me. I could judge the offender — the person who wasn’t doing what I wanted — and then exercise my power by showing that I could rise above the offense and magnanimously bestow forgiveness. But I would never forget what had been done.

Today I know that forgiveness has nothing to do with power. It does not give me control. Forgiveness is simply a reminder that I am on equal footing with every other child of God. We all do good and noble things at times; on other occasions we may offend. I have no right to judge, punish, or absolve anyone. When I behave self-righteously, I’m the one who suffers — I separate myself from my fellow human beings, focus on others, and keep busy with hateful and negative thoughts. By taking this attitude I tell myself that I am a victim, so I remain a victim.  The most forgiving thing I can do is to remember that my job is not to judge others, but to think and behave in a way that lets me feel good.

Today’s Reminder

I don’t know the motives or circumstances that cause another’s behavior. I do know that when I hold onto resentment and blame, I occupy my spirit with bitterness. Today I will find a more nurturing way to fill myself up.

“You can’t hold a man down without staying down with him.” ~ Booker T. Washington

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Internal festering resentments lower the quality of my life and threaten me with spiritual bankruptcy. This ultimately manifests in addictive relapse for me. This is the major motivator for me to practice forgiveness. There are noble philosophies that surround the act of morally releasing someone held captive in my mind’s prison, but this one reality anchors me to the practice. It is pragmatic and simple. Trying to wrap it all up into some idea of the equality of mankind, or the rewards of Karma, or the imitation of whatever God embraced is pretty packaging that invites intellectual debates. These debates are fuel for self-destructive justification. That is my reality.

If my mind’s fantastic ability to forget is not filtering out the trespasses of my internal courtroom, I add the practice of praying and seeking the betterment of the other person every time I fall into such soul-sucking rumination. I avoid situations that will open old wounds. These I do because I love my own life and want to give others I care about the permission to do the same.

There are some lyrics from Audioslave’s song, Exploder, that comes to my mind as I think of what happens when I struggle to forgive:

There was a man who had a face
That looked a lot like me
I saw him in the mirror and
I fought him in the street
And when he turned away
I shot him in the head
Then I came to realize
I had killed myself

This will not be me. The release I give my offenders is a mercy granted to myself. Live and let live.

Endigar 806

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 2, 2018 by endigar

From Courage to Change of March 14;

One beautiful day, a man sat down under a tree, not noticing it was full of pigeons. Shortly, the pigeons did what pigeons do best. The man shouted at the pigeons as he stormed away, resenting the pigeons as well as the offending material. But then he realized that the pigeons were merely doing what pigeons do, just because they’re pigeons and not because he was there. The man learned to check the trees for pigeons before sitting down.

Active alcoholics are people who drink. They don’t drink because of you or me, but because they are alcoholics. No matter what I do, I will not change this fact, not with guilt, shouting, begging, distracting, hiding money or bottles or keys, lying, threatening, or reasoning. I didn’t cause alcoholism. I can’t control it. And I can’t cure it. I can continue to struggle and lose. Or I can accept that I am powerless over alcohol and alcoholism, and let Al-Anon help me to redirect the energy I’ve spent on fighting this disease into recovering from its effects.

Today’s Reminder

It’s not easy to watch someone I love continue to drink, but I can do nothing to stop them. If I see how unmanageable my life has become, I can admit that I am powerless over this disease. Then I can really begin to make my life better.

“It stands to reason that a change in us will be a force for good that will help the entire family.” ~ How Can I Help My Children?

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I have seen the effects in my family near and extended of alcoholism, and addiction in general. Some of us overcame or at least learned to cope with it. Others wrote in blood a tragic story. It hurts deeply to watch the struggle knowing I have no real power to help until it is sought. I have learned that those of us caught in active addiction need a few gifts in our lives; consequences, demonstrated living, and an intimate, caring spiritual connection.

Consequences act as a braking mechanism that allows the addict moments of sanity and personal reflection. The internal braking mechanisms that healthy people have has been corrupted and overridden by the addiction. External forces are often needed to buy the addict/alcoholic time. It feels like love to save them from their consequences, but in the world of addiction life is turned upside down and inside out. My protection from consequences will aid the disease in consuming its host. I will enable the tragedy against my own will and that is my part of this disease. It is a way in which I become powerless.

Demonstrated living is when I show that I love my own life by taking action to protect, strengthen, and improve the way I interact with the world around me. I remove the addict from the center of my life and find that raw and fearless courage to live. This is good for me and for those who share my intimate world. It gives others “permission” to love their own lives. If the alcoholic/addict is going to overcome their unfolding tragedy, they have to have Step Zero, the self-concerned desire to live. It cannot be gentle self-care. It must be a ferocious appetite to live. This is the one thing that I have seen that separates those who make it, and those who don’t. I had an alcoholic ask me one time, “why do you want to live?” I knew that I could not convey that adequately in speech. That had to be a product of her own discovery. And at the time, I was not living it well myself. Months later, she was dead. And I was glad that she and I had parted ways because I truly did want to live. I do not want to share that fait nor see it inflected on my loved ones. Then I could demonstrate why the recovery program is a “selfish” program. It is not the damning isolated selfishness that kills us, but the fierce self perseveration that gets us into the rooms and gives us the desperation to do the work of recovery.

What gets confusing in recovering is a product of the limitations of language and how that makes seeking a spiritual connection so complex. It is important for me to understand that there is helpful selfishness and there is destructive selfishness. Isolating selfishness that makes me anti-social and creates a need of continuously activated primal pleasure centers is destructive. Chemical dependency becomes the best answer for such a situation. When I develop the skill of silencing this type of selfishness described in the text surrounding page 62 of Alcoholics Anonymous, I can find a solution that works to improve my living of life on life’s terms. The best avenue for me to develop this skill is finding ways to help others who are attempting to help themselves. Thus, I get to keep what I learn to give away.

All three of these gifts are the best that I can offer to those held hostage in their addiction. It is not callous. It is courageous and necessary.

Endigar 805

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on May 17, 2018 by endigar

From Courage to Change of March 13;

I’m apt to think of Step Seven – “Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings” – as a Step I take tearfully and on my knees. I’ve had that experience, but I want to entertain the possibility that Step Seven might be  taken with  joy – and even humor.

Sometimes the sign that I have  actually gotten humble enough to ask my Higher Power to remove a shortcoming, is that I can laugh about it. Suddenly a past action or decision of mine seems ludicrous and I can stop taking myself so seriously. When this happens, I realize that my Higher Power has lessened the impact of another shortcoming. Real change often announces itself to me in the form of a belly laugh.

So the next time I want to tear my hair out because I haven’t gotten rid of some nagging shortcoming, I’ll try to lighten up and see how silly my intensity can be. When I’m  willing to step back and see humor even in the areas that fall short of my expectations, I get out of the way and give my Higher Power room to work.

 

Today’s Reminder

Desperation and pain can certainly lead me to humility, but in Al-Anon I’m cultivating a new and eager willingness to follow my Higher Power’s guidance. Because I am willing, I am freer to learn from all of life’s lessons, not just the ones that hurt.

“Humbly . . . means seeing myself in true relation to my fellow man and to God.” ~ How Al-Anon Works for Families & Friends of Alcoholics

 

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Living life enslaved by my emotions is a tragedy a brewing. Feelings make horrible leaders. Their only goal is intensity by way of impulse. That has been my experience. They do make for powerful servants once they have been properly trained. Humor is one strategy to diminish the judgement-corrupting intensity of my emotions.

I often have casual moments of prayer-conversation with the God of my understanding (GOMU) throughout the day and have come to rely on intuitive inspiration, as is discussed on page 87 of the Big Book,  in order to “hear” my GOMU. In one such moment I said to my Higher Power “I suppose you’re right.” And I heard back, “Yes, I probably am.” I stopped, considered, and then just laughed. The anxiety I was feeling took a knee to the good natured back and forth between God and myself.

Endigar 804

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on March 26, 2018 by endigar

From Courage to Change of March 12;

What does another person’s mood, tone of voice, or state of inebriation have to do with my course of action. Nothing, unless I decide otherwise.

For example, I have learned that arguing with someone who is intoxicated is like beating my head against a brick wall. Yet, until recently, I would always dive right into the arguments, because that was what the other person seemed to want. In Al-Anon I discovered that I don’t have to react just because I have been provoked, and I don’t have to take harsh words to heart. I can remember that they are coming from someone who may be  in pain , and try to show a little compassion. I certainly don’t have to allow them to provoke me into doing anything I don’t want to do.

Today’s Reminder

Detachment with love means that I stop depending upon what others do, say, or feel to determine my own well-being or to make my decisions. When faced with other people’s destructive attitudes and behavior,  I can  love their best, and never fear their worst.

“. . .  Detachment is not caring less, it’s caring more for my own serenity.” ~ . . . In All Our Affairs

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The paradigm that has helped me the most with compassionate detachment is to see the one I love in an intimate relationship with their anti-self. The goal of this anti-self is to isolate and destroy the individual it has latched onto. When this anti-self takes front and center to engage me, I pull detachment out of my spiritual toolkit and focus on my own serenity which is the ultimate manifestation of the strength of my faith. When the ones I love regain sanity enough to receive it, I have compassion awaiting. In this way, I honor their free will and my own. Al-Anon provides a network of others who are familiar with this struggle.

Endigar 803

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on March 24, 2018 by endigar

From Courage to Change of March 11;

“I’ve chosen my epitaph,” says an Al-Anon friend. “I want it to read, ‘He’s finally minding his own business.'”

We laugh, enjoying some relief in contemplating the lighter side of a serious subject, those defects of character that seem so hard to shake. Laughter makes our frailties seem easier to bear, and we can forgive ourselves for our imperfections. What a change from the days when we hid in shame from our flaws or used them to beat ourselves over the head!

My friend and I resolve that in the future we will try less, accept more, and let go of our impatience, self-criticism, and self-hatred. We take a deep breath and say, “Help me, Higher Power. Help me remember that the purpose of making mistakes is to prepare myself to make more; help me remember that when I’m no longer making mistakes I’ll be out of this world.”

Today’s Reminder

In a way, I will always be a beginner. There will always be some new challenge to face because life is ever-changing and so am I. Because of this constant change, ever tiny little action I take involves some risk of making a mistake. It takes courage to participate in life. Today I can applaud myself for trying. I’m doing a terrific job.

“My Higher Power is the confidence within me that makes me unafraid, even unafraid to make mistakes.” ~ As We Understood . . .

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“Middleton Group #1. Rule #62.” Once the card was unfolded, a single pungent sentence leaped to the eye: “Don’t take yourself too damn seriously.”  ~  Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, page 149.

I hate making mistakes. I feel dirty, ugly, and stupid when my mistakes happen in the public eye. An honest criticism becomes a dismissive judgment of my worth. These feelings I do not want. It hurts and it trips survival alarms in my psyche. My creative, day-dreaming inner child makes me exceptionally vulnerable to error and I have spent a good deal of my life spanking him into the closet, and putting a guard outside the door called Mr. Double-check, from Second-guessing Security. This is an old way of thinking deeply engrained, that I need GOMU’s help changing.

What I have discovered through inventory and much patient prayer is that child carries the energy core of my life. All facets of me are empowered by appreciation and connection with that child. My ability to learn, expand, and mature comes from exposing that child to the interactive world. As an adult, I parent me. Whatever my physical parents could not or would not do to strengthen the voice of that inner child becomes my responsibility to face as an adult.

No more internal child abuse. It is safe to come out now. Mistakes never made are lessons never learned. Life is the ultimate school.

Endigar 802

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on March 13, 2018 by endigar

From Courage to Change of March 10;

Part of my recovery has involved reversing some old ways of thinking. It had been my habit to avoid painful feelings and situations, to play it safe and keep away from risk. But life involves one risk after another, and some pain is unavoidable. Al-Anon helps me to accept what is.

Instead of running away, I am learning to look at the source of my distress. As a result, I find that pain passes much more quickly, and what I gain is freedom from fear. Al-Anon gives me tools, such as the Fourth Step inventory, with which I can take an honest look at myself and my situation. A supportive Sponsor, my Higher Power, the Serenity Prayer, and my Al-Anon meeting help me to find the courage to deal with fear, pain, and risk.

When I was avoiding taking risks, fear was always with me, just over my shoulder. Now I go through it and come out the other side, often unscathed. I no longer have to keep a constant watch for potential dangers. Instead, I can occupy myself with living.

Today’s Reminder

Wonderful things can happen today because I welcome the thrill of participating in my own life.

“Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” ~ Helen Keller

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Artwork by Larry Fanning

My Father once told me that the only way to overcome fear is to face whatever is causing it. He encouraged me to become bold. Anxiety was something I know that he dealt with on a regular basis, but his bold actions would not reveal that struggle. The idea in recovery of taking overwhelming actions one day at a time has been quite helpful. I often lock myself into a direction through various commitments because I know that the tendency to quit and retreat into a small darkened den and hide is ever within me. I share my Father’s anxiety genetically I suppose, but the encouragement to be bold regardless of that inner pain has helped me find more moments of serenity after the inner storm has lost its source. The 12 Steps are possible only with small, continual footfalls of courage.