Endigar 690 ~ When Faith is Missing

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 27, 2015 by endigar

From the Daily Reflections of February 4;

Sometimes A.A. comes harder to those who have lost or rejected faith than to those who never had any faith at all, for they think they have tried faith and found it wanting. They have tried the way of faith and the way of no faith. (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, page 28)

I was so sure God had failed me that I became ultimately defiant, though I knew better, and plunged into a final drinking binge. My faith turned bitter and that was no coincidence. Those who once had great faith hit bottom harder. It took time to rekindle my faith, though I came to A.A. I was grateful intellectually to have survived such a great fall, but my heart felt callous. Still, I stuck with the A.A. program; the alternatives were too bleak! I kept coming back and gradually my faith was resurrected.

 

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How did I lose my faith in the vortex of a chaos storm? I thought it would stand the test of time, resistant to anything life could muster. The death of my sons, the feeling of betrayal and abandonment in my marital severance, and the fearful rejection of my fellowship of faith left me in a very bewildered state. I turned to alcohol and it quickly turned on me.

The worst time of my life was when I no longer had the faith to be angry with God. I looked into the darkness and understood that I was absolutely alone. At this moment I left behind old ways of thinking, but could find nothing to answer the call of my gaping wound. I served in the military, and when my problems with alcohol revealed themselves, I was volun-told to go to rehab and I began a quest for sobriety that led me to AA and that Fellowship introduced me to the Gomu (God of my understanding). I am grateful for my restored faith that actually grants me a source of spiritual power.

Endigar 689 ~ Filling the Void

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 19, 2015 by endigar

From the Daily Reflections of February 3;

We needed to ask ourselves but one short question. “Do I now believe, or am I even willing to believe, that there is a Power greater than myself?” As soon as a man can say that he does believe, or is willing to believe, we emphatically assure him that he is on his way.  (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 47).

I was always fascinated with the study of scientific principles. I was emotionally and physically distant from people while I pursued Absolute Knowledge. God and spirituality were meaningless academic exercises. I was a modern man of science, knowledge was my Higher Power. Given the right set of equations, life was merely another problem to solve. Yet my inner self was dying from my outer man’s solution to life’s problems and the solution was alcohol. In spite of my intelligence, alcohol became my Higher Power. It was through the unconditional love which emanated from A.A. people and meetings that I was able to discard alcohol as my Higher Power. The great void was filled. I was no longer lonely and apart from life. I had found a true power greater than myself, I had found God’s love. There is only one equation which really matters to me now: God is in A.A.

 

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I see believing, as it is used in the 12 Steps, as having a knowing that something is in actual existence and is something I can invest my trust in. Participation in the program begins to provide evidence through personal experience and observation to strengthen that trust. I just have to keep coming back with a willingness to believe. This God of my understanding is a real entity that is loving and that ultimately, has to become infinite enough to counter any argument that my corrupted isolating ego might offer to re-assume charge of my life. As John Green wrote in “Fault in Our Stars,” some infinities are bigger than other infinities. I do not need GOMU to fulfill dogmatic demands of being omnipresent and omnipotent throughout the entire Universe. I just need It to be everything in my tight little universe. I have to be willing to believe that there is something out there that cares about me and can intuitively become everything in the creation of a connected ego.

 

Endigar 688 ~ Rescued by Surrendering

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 17, 2015 by endigar

From the Daily Reflections of February 2;

Characteristic of the so-called typical alcoholic is a narcissistic egocentric core, dominated by feelings of omnipotence, intent on maintaining at all costs its inner integrity. . . . Inwardly the alcoholic brooks no control from man or God. He, the alcoholic, is and must be the master of his destiny. He will fight to the end to preserve that position.  (A.A. Comes of Age, page 311)

The great mystery is: “Why do some of us die alcoholic deaths, fighting to preserve the ‘independence’ of our ego, while others seem to sober up effortlessly in A.A.?” Help from a Higher Power, the gift of sobriety, came to me when an otherwise unexplained desire to stop drinking coincided with my willingness to accept the suggestions of the men and women of A.A. I had to surrender, for only by reaching out to God and my fellows could I be rescued.

 

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I can remember fighting hard against the concept of surrender when I first sought help for my alcoholism. I preferred to assist in the planning of my rise from the ashes. This was a continuation of the persistent self-deception that if I carefully planned my consumption of my favorite intoxicates, I would know a powerful freedom and a renewed happiness. When I was forced to admit that this union was and would always be pathological for me, I still wanted to retain the ego that had bound me to this course of futility. It was the only ego formation I had invested my trust in.  This is what I had to surrender because this was the power generator of my alcoholism, the seed of my ultimate destruction. In order to recreate my life, I had to agree in the initial conspiracy to destroy the internal tyrant of my own ruin.

In order for me to do that, I was introduced to the prospect that I needed to develop an intuitive knowing that there is a Power greater than myself, a Power outside of my warped ego’s domain that can direct and strengthen me in the birth of a new ego that is catalyzed through connections of usefulness and compassion. I pray that my life not be the result of that old isolating, destructive self-will but a product of a will united to the loving and infinite God of my understanding.

Endigar 687 ~ Forging Forgiveness

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 15, 2015 by endigar

A few weeks ago, my counselor suggested I consider and blog about forgiveness. Implied by the context of our session, this should especially include self-forgiveness. This entry is my attempt to fulfill that tasking and I hope you will find my musings helpful.

The Big Book says resentment is the number one offender for the alcoholic, and that it is a deadly hazard and that dealing with resentment is infinitely grave because it runs counter to the power of our spiritual experience. I gathered these thoughts from pages 64, 66, and 117 in Alcoholics Anonymous. I think everyone maintains an internal courtroom with open cases of those who have offended us.  This is the Courtroom of Resentments. Victim’s cards are printed and issued liberally. The docket is focused on hearing cases over and over, sometimes improving the arguments made but never providing any kind of resolution. Painful memories are rehearsed and wounds are re-opened. The primary fear that keeps the complainants locked in this limbo is the fear that they will forget what has been done and therefor fall prey once more to the same person or to a similar situation. This self-torture of reinforced distrust works to cut one off from possible help. More work is spent building walls than accepting risky connections. Those who opt to hold their place in this state of unforgiving resentment become intimately acquainted with  powerlessness and unmanageability in their lives.

The 4th Step of Alcoholics Anonymous presents a way to escape this loop of traumatizing vigilance. We must change the way we look at resentments and find our part in the event or interaction. We use the resentment to find the point where we surrendered our power to an outside entity. We seek to change that aspect about ourselves so that we retain possession and responsibility for our lives. The 10th Step helps to reinforce this as a habit.

Once I know what MY PART is I no longer need the memory of what was done to me. The knowledge of my part allows me to transform into someone who does not invite or is not sensitive to offense. This takes overcoming fear because change involves becoming vulnerable and taking risks to achieve self improvement. It is in the Crucible of Courage that a better life is forged.

If I am my own resentment, then I am also burdened with guilt and shame. I must connect with others to identify what is legitimate guilt and what is the paralyzing shame of unforgiveness toward myself. I may think that maintaining a memory of my wrong or my short-comings will cause me to never behave in the offending fashion again and will protect me from future criticism. My experience is that I will find others who will exploit this internal pain to manipulate me for their own purposes. I will return myself to situations that insure I will fail again and again as I try to rewrite history and become something I was never intended to be.

When I am actually guilty of hurting someone else or violating my own code of living, I identify it specifically and make amends where possible. I connect with my Higher Power to live in a way that will keep me from repeating that hurt or offense. That is all I can do, and I am not responsible for how others react to me. If they want to stay in the courtroom of resentment, I cannot pull them out. I must have enough survival-selfishness to desire a good life and to do the work to achieve that, even if it involves letting go of relationships or situations that keep me living in shame. Survival-selfishness keeps us coming back for help and isolating-selfishness kills us. I must not get the two confused. I need a healthy dose of survival-selfishness.

I do want to live an enjoyable, useful life. I want to be able to close the cases I have against me and depart from the courtroom of resentment. I want to work with the GOMU (God of my understanding) in Steps 6 and 7 to release my short-comings. A fish must relinquish the character defect of trying to climb trees or the transgression of running cross-country. The fish’s Higher Power would help it see that it was made for the water, and says to it, “To thy own fins be true.” If I remove traditional religious self-loathing from Steps 6 and 7, I will find that God wants to introduce me to me, maybe for the first time in my life. Then I will know a new freedom and a new happiness.

 

My Part

 

Endigar 686 ~ Goal: Sanity

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 14, 2015 by endigar

From the Daily Reflections of February 1;

“. . . Step Two gently and very gradually began to infiltrate my life. I can’t say upon what occasion or upon what day I came to believe in a Power greater than myself, but I certainly have that belief now.”  (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, page 27).

“Came to believe!” I gave lip service to my belief when I felt like it or when I thought it would look good. I didn’t really trust God. I didn’t believe He cared for me. I kept trying to change things I couldn’t change. Gradually, in disgust, I began to turn it all over, saying: “You’re so omnipotent, you take care of it.” He did. I began to receive answers to my deepest problems, sometimes at the most unusual times: driving to work, eating lunch, or when I was sound asleep. I realized that I hadn’t thought of those solutions — a Power greater than myself had given them to me. I came to believe.

 

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2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Step two has a couple of bitter pills that I had to swallow when I started working the Steps. The first was the implication that on some level, I was insane, or if I desire to be more gentle with myself, I lacked sanity. The next bit of bad news to ingest was that my solution was wrapped up in recovering a trusting acknowledgement of a Power greater than myself.

My alcoholic insanity is different from the schizophrenic and his hallucinations.  Nevertheless, there is a disconnect from reality that I have constructed in order to keep using alcohol.  It is a necessary skill for me to learn to lie to myself in order to drink pathologically.  Further, I must believe my own self-deception to maintain my fatal attraction to the chemical alteration of my brain.  Then I must manipulate everyone around me to support this life of illusions.  As the consequences pile up the insanity becomes obvious to everyone, except me. I am usually the last to know how crazy my life has become.

For some people, finding and speaking the truth is a pretty good idea. For me, it is the path to sanity and it is easily lost. I have to fight to keep it every day, one day at a time.

The problem is compounded when I am dependent on my warped ego that is bent toward self-deception and so I need help that resides outside of my skull. The Power greater than me creates in me the ability to connect and thus delivers me from my isolating selfishness.  In that connection I can start the work of acquiring and keeping the truth. It is only necessary that I am willing to consider that there is something out there that is immensely  and lovingly enveloping. For me, experiences begin to pile up to confirm the presence of something and these experiences have been outside of myself. That something takes a personal interest in my well-being.  The willingness to believe allowed me time to witness the persistent presence appear.

“I believe the universe wants to be noticed. I think the universe is inprobably biased toward the consciousness, that it rewards intelligence in part because the universe enjoys its elegance being observed. And who am I, living in the middle of history, to tell the universe that it-or my observation of it-is temporary?” ~ John Green (Fault in Our Stars)

Endigar 685 ~ Our Common Welfare Comes First

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 13, 2015 by endigar

From the Daily Reflections of January 31;

The unity of Alcoholics Anonymous is the most cherished quality our Society has. . . . We stay whole, or A.A. dies.  (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, page 129).

Our Traditions are key elements in the ego deflation process necessary to achieve and maintain sobriety in Alcoholics Anonymous. The First Tradition reminds me not to take credit, or authority, for my recovery. Placing our common welfare first reminds me not to become a healer in this program; I am still one of the patients. Self-effacing elders built the ward. Without it, I doubt I would be alive. Without the group, few alcoholics would recover.

The active role in renewed surrender of will enables me to step aside from the need to dominate, the desire for recognition, both of which played so great a part in my active alcoholism. Deferring my personal desires for the greater good of group growth contributes toward A.A. unity that is central to all recovery. It helps me to remember that the whole is greater than the sum of all its parts.

 

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The necessity for ego deflation in the 12 Step program has been a difficult thing for me to grasp. It sounded like an approach that would enslave me to my depression and it was too similar to the self-castigation of churchianity to trust. The best I was able to give AA was a begrudging compliance.

And yet I know that this process is used in Buddhism, in the military, and in BDSM, which are systems I have some level of respect for. My days sequestered in the monastery of religious fear allowed me to grasp the difference between pride (which God did not like) and confidence (which God sought to inspire). I understand that to reap the benefits of a system, one must surrender. Compliance leads to self-deception. I know and have experienced this.  I know that to build something new and powerful, the present structure must be surrendered to destruction. I must break down and then build back up under the directed vision of my Higher Power.  This is the only way I know that I can achieve an alignment between my inner ego and that outer Ego of Gomu (God of my understanding).

Photo Credit:  Katie H.

Endigar 684 ~ Freedom From . . . Freedom To

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 8, 2015 by endigar

From the Daily Reflections of January 30;

We are going to know a new freedom. . . .  (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 83).

Freedom for me is both freedom from and freedom to. The first freedom I enjoy is freedom from the slavery of alcohol. What a relief! Then I begin to experience freedom from fear — fear of people, of economic insecurity, of commitment, of failure, of rejection. Then I begin to enjoy freedom to — freedom to choose sobriety for today, freedom to be myself, freedom to express my opinion, to experience peace of mind, to love and be loved, and freedom to grow spiritually. But how can I achieve these freedoms? The Big Book clearly says that before I am halfway through making amends, I will begin to know a “new” freedom; not the old freedom of doing what I pleased, without regard to others, but the new freedom that allows fulfillment of the promises in my life. What a joy to be free!

 

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Most freedom is not given, it is taken. If it is a gift to you, then someone else’s blood was spilled to secure it. Freedom is not a natural state of existence. The living creatures around us are slaves to the need to feed, reproduce, and seek security. “Freedom from” is something only the top of the food chain becomes aware of and it is taken violently. The positive variate of liberty, “freedom to,” is a highly advanced experience that allows one to go beyond survival and contribute one’s self-actualization to the treasury of our collective consciousness. But it must be built on the negative variate of overcoming that which would consume us.

In AA we who have lived as prey to our Alcoholism have established a mutually beneficial connection with the God of our Understanding (GOMU). In this, God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. My Higher Power’s loving violence in my behalf secures the opportunity for me to experience the most advanced form of liberty. I pray that I make good use of it.

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