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.

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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.

Endigar 801

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on March 9, 2018 by endigar

From Courage to Change of March 9;

I often struggle to know what is my will and what is God’s. I feel serenity slipping from me while a war is waged within my mind and loud voices urge me to take one path or another.

Doubt is an unavoidable companion of spiritual seeking. I don’t have an instruction book, so I must continue to explore and challenge my perceptions. I know that when I feel a desperate urge to act, it is usually my will that is pushing, and when I feel a calm certainty, it is usually God’s. But much of the time, I don’t have such a clear indication. What then? Sometimes I wait for clarity or try to listen more closely for guidance; I may share my confusion and ask for the wisdom of others; or I may just make a choice, take an action, and see what happens.  More will be revealed when the time is right, no matter what choice I make. Since I have turned my will and my life over to God, any choice I make can be used to carry out His will.

Today’s Reminder

Today I will remember that uncertainty is not a fault but an opportunity. Everything I do and everything that crosses my path — people, situations, ideas — all have the potential to contribute to my growth and understanding. Just for today, I don’t have to know what that contribution will be.

“There lives  more faith in honest doubt, Believe me, than in half the creeds.” ~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson

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The unavoidable companion of spiritual seeking is doubt. The unavoidable companion. I like that. That resonates.

For me the purpose of the struggle in segregating my will from that of my God is the realization that the GOMU (God of my understanding) is not looking to create a robotron attitude in me. I believe that the love of my Father wants me to trust, learn, and decide for myself that my truest, deepest Self will is an echo of GOMU’s heart. The testing of this life is to rip away enough isolated self-deception to see how fulfilled I am in caring about others and how much I enjoy experiencing life. My Father does not want to see me lobotomized into blind obedience. GOMU wants me to stop and ask questions and to appreciate the mystery of the Infinite One vying for my attention. It seems to me that God’s will is more of a radiance from Source than a straight line on a map. In practical terms, this means that my Step 3 / Step 11 journey may have many possible lines on that map without any one of them deviating from God’s will for me. My Papa loves and honors my freedom. What a magnificent mystery to live out.

“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”  / “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.” ~ Steps 3 & 11 of Alcoholics Anonymous

The struggle for me comes from the hunger for maps over mystery. But that is not a relationship. That would be mindless slavery. And that is not the heart of my Father.

Endigar 800

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on March 8, 2018 by endigar

From Courage to Change of March 8;

One of the wonderful benefits I receive by going to Al-Anon meetings is that I find new ways to work my program. The Chairperson at one of my favorite meetings passed around a basket full of Al-Anon slogans and suggested that we each take one and try to apply it to this day. It was remarkable how many of us seemed to get the perfect slogan!

The very next day I found myself in a stressful situation. I was struggling to solve a tough problem, growing frustrated and upset but no closer to a solution. I asked my Higher Power for help and suddenly remembered that basket. In my mind, I imagined myself reaching once more  into a basket full of slogans. Again I got exactly what I needed: The slip of paper I pictured reminded me that “Easy Does It.” I stopped trying to force a solution and waited until I could approach the problem more gently. I felt much better, my thinking was clearer, and in time a solution appeared.

Today’s Reminder

It is not always easy to know which Al-Anon tool to apply, especially in the middle of a crisis. I am grateful for a Higher Power who knows my needs, and for meetings that help me to find new ways to put these tools to work in my life.

“As we learn to depend upon our Higher Power through applying the Al-Anon program to our lives, fear and uncertainty are replaced by faith and confidence.” ~ One Day at a Time om Al-Anon

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Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a fan of Star Trek. When I look at Captain Picard and Locutus of the Borg, I see the battle between Me as the Captain of my Soul, and Soju of Alcoholism as a major personification of the Anti-Me. This entity that lives within my psyche has a dehumanizing support network much like the Borg. And like the Borg, a weapon is only successful if it can quickly change frequencies because the soul-sucking collective adapts quickly. In the program, there is not just one way to approach the disease of my mind. Variation prevents the Anti-Me collective from weakening and overcoming the gift of neutrality that my Higher Power provides. I switch up between prayer, meetings, study of literature, counseling, friends, service, visiting new meetings, seeing where religion is right, rule 62, pulling back for reflective solitude (not isolation), and so on. I refuse to let my enemy find me predictable. To do this successfully my thinking has had to become more and more on the “plane of inspiration.” As it says on page 87 of Alcoholics Anonymous, I have come to rely upon it.

Endigar 799

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on March 7, 2018 by endigar

From Courage to Change of March 7;

In Al-Anon I discovered that I needed to make changes in myself. After a lifetime of living with a disease of attitudes — alcoholism — I didn’t think very highly of myself, so I didn’t have much faith that anything good could come out of my efforts.

I learned better by watching my son’s silkworms. Silkworms are fat and greedy creatures, but out of their own substance, they create something beautiful. They have no choice in the matter. They were born to express this beauty.

I, too, can transform something negative into something positive; by changing my self-defeating attitudes, I become a more beautiful human being. I was born with this beauty inside me, and if I will only allow myself, I can express it freely. Al-Anon helps me learn to put love first in my life. And gratitude, a cornerstone of my Al-Anon recovery, brings hidden loveliness clearly into view.

Today’s Reminder

Today I can spin a little silk and let it grace everything I touch. I don’t have to look back to past ugliness except to learn from it, to enhance the present, and to release whatever beauty  is trapped behind old secrets and self-defeating attitudes. One day at a time I can delight in the splendid person I am becoming.

“Sometimes it is necessary to reteach a thing its loveliness . . .  until it flowers again from within . . . ” ~ Galway Kinnell

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Saint Francis and the Sow

The bud
stands for all things,
even those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as St. Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of
the tail,
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking
and blowing beneath them:
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.

I extracted this poem from Galway Kinnell’s website today, March 7th, 2018. [http://galwaykinnell.com/books/poetry/body-rags/poem-1/] I am moved by this thought of being retaught one’s loveliness. I love that the goal of this process will allow an entity to prosper under its own self-blessing. I remember in the early days of my own time in rehab I had to become my own best friend. In my isolated self this was not possible. Until I had a network of loving souls investing in wounded heart, my life seemed to be a tragic betrayal. I was retaught. I am grateful for those who patiently held mirrors to the inner strength and beauty of my own life long enough for me to agree. Thank-you.