Endigar 786

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on December 10, 2017 by endigar

From Courage to Change of February 23;

Even as a child, I had grown-up responsibilities, so it is no wonder that I grew up to be a caretaker. It seemed so comfortable, so automatic to think of others first and to give myself completely to whatever crisis was at hand without a thought for myself. When I became aware that this was not one lf  my most admirable traits but was instead a form of self-destructiveness, I was horrified. I set  out to wipe out all such behavior and attitudes. I was determined to become as self-involved and uncaring as possible.

Fortunately, I failed to make such a radical change. Today, years later, I am still a caretaker, and I probably always will be. But now I consider it a valued characteristic, a gift of my upbringing that can greatly enhance my life if I don’t carry it to the extreme.  Although I no longer  do things for others that they could do for themselves, I still try to be nurturing to them as well as myself. Al-Anon helps me to find some balance.

Today’s Reminder

Today I will try not to condemn parts of myself while accepting other parts. I am a composite, and I love myself best when I embrace all that I am.

“My imperfections and failures are as much a blessing from God as my successes and my talents, and I lay them both at His feet.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

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I struggle with this  self-destructive caretaking. It is difficult for me to see it as a gift from my childhood. I suppose I have not been able to achieve the balance necessary to use it without unknowingly discarding self-care. I wanted to go to military school when I was adolescent to escape this adult burden of family diplomat and champion and harden myself. My life of military service failed to purge this indoctrinated “weakness” from my personality.

Yet, when I became the primary care-giver of my father, I did see its benefit when used where it should be. My father was a good man who was self-sacrificing. In honoring him, it has given me a different perspective on my own compassion. I think the balance will come as I grow more comfortable directing some of that heart in my direction. I have tried it a few times and my soul seems to respond. This is an ongoing process that I believe to be a beneficial pursuit.

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Endigar 785

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on December 9, 2017 by endigar

From Courage to Change of February 21;

Thanks to Al-Anon’s Traditions, I am able to have a Sponsor whose politics are abhorrent to me. Although we totally disagree on other issues, this person has helped me learn valuable lessons about serenity, courage, and wisdom. If I had insisted on a Sponsor with political views exactly like my own, I would have missed out on an extraordinarily rich and beneficial relationship.

I think that the spirit of the Tenth Tradition has  made this possible. It states that “The Al-Anon Family Groups have no opinion on outside issues; hence our name ought never be drawn into public controversy.” At the group level, this means that I can go to a meeting and know that I won’t be recruited for any particular cause. As a group, we have a single purpose — to support one another as we recover from the effects of alcoholism. But on a personal level,  this Tradition allows me to establish a valuable relationship with a person who, under less supportive conditions, I might have been hard pressed to treat with civility.

Today’s Reminder

Today I can  be more tolerant  of other views  as I learn to take what I like and leave  the rest. I don’t have  to let outside issues distract me from  my primary spiritual goal. I’ll keep the doors open, for I never  know  where I might find help.

“Within the fellowship, the one thing that has brought us together must remain our sole concern.” ~ Al-Anon’s Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions

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Al-Anon has “no opinion on outside issues; hence the” Al-Anon “name ought never be drawn into public controversy.” This is the Tenth Tradition of Al-Anon, taken from AA and used for similar purpose in Al-Anon. It is there to provide protection for the group and focus for its individual members. The purpose is not the life and death struggle of the alcoholic or addict. Instead, as a member of Al-Anon, mine is a struggle for sanity. I need a safe place to recover. This is my focus when I come into the rooms and reach out.

Alcoholism/Addiction is like a deadly vine that wraps around poles, markers in my heart. The poles may be legitimate expression of love. The vines creep and grow and engulf that marker and it becomes too difficult for me to discern between the poisonous plant and the affirmation of devotion to my afflicted family member or close friend.

If I am to live a life where it is safe to love again, I cannot be distracted by “outside issues” or become burdened with “public controversy.” If I am to build a new life and a new freedom, I need others with similar focus. There is hard fought wisdom in the Tenth Tradition. Outside issues are anything other than my efforts at cleaning my side of the street. It is the only place I can exercise real power. And that is the source of my strength in the face of tragedy and chaos. The arena of public controversy seeds resentment and distrust in my life. I embrace the Tenth Tradition to clean away the wreckage of my inner life, and to share that power with others.

 

Endigar 784

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on December 8, 2017 by endigar

From Courage to Change of February 22;

I had problems making  decisions because my standards were impossible to achieve. I wanted to make decisions that would get me exactly what I wanted, or I didn’t want to make them at all. I learned in Al-Anon that no one can know in advance all the consequences of any decision. We can only take the information at  hand and do our best in choosing thoughtfully.

I don’t have to make decisions alone. I can turn to God and ask for help. Over time I have come to realize that this help takes  many different forms — a meeting topic that offered perspective, a tug at my stomach, a “coincidence.” And sometimes God speaks through others. When members share their experience, strength, and hope, I listen carefully to how they handled similar situations.

In the grand  scheme of things, no single decision is ever really that important. I can  do my best to make decisions wisely, but the results are in the hands of a Higher Power.

Today’s Reminder

With the help of a Higher Power, decision-making can be one of life’s great adventures. Each crossroad brings a new challenge, and I am capable of dealing with whatever comes my way.

“When I used to make specific requests [of God], I was so busy waiting for them to be granted that I didn’t realize the answers were staring me in the face.” ~ As We Understood . . .

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“Nevertheless, we find that our thinking will, as time passes, be more and more on the plane of inspiration. We come to rely on it.” ~ Alcoholics Anonymous

Solsbury Hill

by Peter Gabriel

Climbing up on Solsbury Hill
I could see the city light
Wind was blowing, time stood still
Eagle flew out of the night

He was something to observe
Came in close, I heard a voice
Standing stretching every nerve
I had to listen had no choice

I did not believe the information
Just had to trust imagination
My heart was going boom boom, boom
“Son,” he said, “Grab your things, I’ve come to take you home.”

To keeping silence I resigned
My friends would think I was a nut
Turning water into wine
Open doors would soon be shut

So I went from day to day
Tho’ my life was in a rut
‘Till I thought of what I’d say
Which connection I should cut

I was feeling part of the scenery
I walked right out of the machinery
My heart was going boom boom boom
“Hey,” he said, “grab your things, I’ve come to take you home.”
Yeah back home

When illusion spin her net
I’m never where I want to be
And liberty she pirouette
When I think that I am free

Watched by empty silhouettes
Who close their eyes, but still can see
No one taught them etiquette
I will show another me

Today I don’t need a replacement
I’ll tell them what the smile on my face meant
My heart was going boom boom boom
“Hey,” I said, “You can keep my things, they’ve come to take me home.”

For me, the spiritual experience is an intimate relationship with Mystery, and that experience can be relived in small daily interactions when I am faced with decisions to be made. Decision-making can be the foundational stones in the pursuit of intimacy with my Higher Power. I struggle with life when I exercise my volition in a reactive dance with fear. Those moments then become fodder for the muddy earth where life is ground underfoot, and ruts grow deep. Is it possible that something out there gives a damn about me?

“I believe the universe wants to be noticed. I think the universe is improbably biased toward 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, The Fault in Our Stars.

The GOMU (God of my understanding) seems to care much for those who reach out to connect. This God is often subtle though, wanting me to experience life and partake of it with my free will intact. God is a gentleman.

When I can stop long enough to involve GOMU in a decision, the process of walking it out is an examination of the most profound union I will experience, which is the one between the individual human and the Infinite Spirit. All my mortal relationships are an echo of this great Mystery.

 

 

Endigar 783

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on November 28, 2017 by endigar

From Courage to Change of February 20;

One of the first things I heard in Al-Anon was that we didn’t have to accept unacceptable behavior. This idea helped me to see that I need not tolerate violence or abuse, and that I had choices I hadn’t even recognized before. I set some limits, not to control others, but to offer myself guidelines so that I would know what was and was not acceptable and what to do  about it.

A few years later I was congratulating myself on how I no longer had such problems, when I suddenly realized that there was still one person from whom I regularly accepted unacceptable behavior –me! I was continually berating myself and blaming myself when things went wrong. I never gave myself credit for my efforts. I told myself I  was homely, thoughtless, lazy, stupid. I would never say those things to a friend. I realized that until I started  treating myself like a valued friend, I would be standing in the way of my own recovery.

Today’s Reminder

I  have been affected by a disease of attitudes. When I treat myself with love and  approval, I know that I am recovering.

“Let one therefore keep the mind pure, for what a man thinks, that he becomes.” – The Upanishads

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My faith in a Higher Power does a dance with faith in myself. I saw this connection when conducting my moral inventory and realized that most of my resentments were against myself and my God. I cannot build trust in the God of my understanding without likewise building a trust in me for myself. “To thine own self be true” means that I have to get to know me. The 12 Step program provides an opportunity to take myself out on dates and develop an understanding of who I am. That relationship deserves a protection in the boundaries I set. And just like another human being that I would date in pursuit of intimate connection, I must protect it from harsh, hurtful treatment.

I have a family member in the program who received this bit of advice that I think is appropriate here: “If you want self-esteem, do esteemable things.” I think one of those things worthy of esteem is how I choose to treat myself.

Endigar 782

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on October 24, 2017 by endigar

From Courage to Change of February 19;

When I wrote my Fourth Step inventory, I carried a notebook around with me day and night. I didn’t want to leave anything out. I discovered my first defect — obsession. I was still writing fifteen minutes before I shared my Fifth Step.

As I took this Step and read my words out loud, some of my patterns became clear for the first time. My behavior paralleled that of the alcoholic. The only difference was that I did it sober — insane, but sober. I saw how much I blamed other people for the events in my life, how I took everything personally, and how my reactions to the alcoholic were based on my fears.

I expected to feel differently the next day, but nothing much happened  except that I felt very tired and a little fragile. But change had begun. As time went by, when I found myself in situations similar to those I had described in my Fourth Step, I noticed that my reactions were less extreme. Some things that had bothered me terribly no longer mattered. That’s when I knew I’d begun to change.

Today’s Reminder

I am learning the “nature of my nature” through the Twelve Steps. I trust that I will uncover what I need to know for now, and leave the rest for another time. I am worth learning about.

“When we take Step Five . . . we demonstrate a willingness  to change.” . . . In All Our Affairs


END OF QUOTE—————————————

I have been through the 4th Step Moral Inventory three times with progressive insight and truthfulness. I have called my short-comings “cog worms” that lived in pockets of personal guilt. Their presence in my life seemed natural until I found myself spiritually bankrupt and out of power to face life. Out of power. Powerless. Angry. Thrashing about in convulsions of isolated self will.

At first I thought this program’s “obsession” with cleaning up my side of the street was unfair and a bit like religious self-castigation. The reality I have found is that identifying a failing in my life and being willing to change it is empowering. It is something that is connective between me and my Higher Power and with that network of fellow recoverynauts who are invested in the best version of my Self. I do not weep and wail about these identified areas of weakness – I have a practical approach in the 12 Steps to turn weakness into strength.

Endigar 781

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on September 18, 2017 by endigar

From Courage to Change of February 18;

Daily practice of the Al-Anon program is helping me to become more tolerant of other people. For example, when I take my own inventory and examine my motives, I recognize the same shortcomings I once eagerly pointed out in others. It is easier to accept the limitations of others when I acknowledge my own.

I see now that my thinking has often been distorted, my behavior inconsistent. If my perceptions of myself have been so inaccurate, how reliable can my perceptions of others be? I really don’t know what anyone else should think, feel, or do. Therefore, I can no longer justify intolerance.

Regular, dedicated practice of the principles of the program keeps me feeling good about myself. This permits me to be increasingly open-minded and considerate toward everyone in my life.

Today’s Reminder

Al-Anon meetings, fellowship, Steps, Traditions, and literature all help me to improve my ability to relate to others. I will renew my commitment to recovery today.

“An earnest and concentrated study of the Al-Anon program, in depth, will help us to become more tolerant, confident, and loving, teaching us to accept the faults of others as we seek to correct shortcomings in ourselves.” ~ The Dilemma of the Alcoholic Marriage

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The important lessons in truth and mercy have made appearances in my life, but the 12 Step program revealed these two gifts as something more than just a good idea. They are life-sustaining and enriching. When I was facing the harsh realities of alcoholism they were key to regaining my life.

There is a saying in AA that is quoted oft from Shakespeare; “To Thine Own Self be True.” Going back to Hamlet the full quote is actually “This above all: to thine own self be true. And it must follow, as the night the day. Thou canst not then be false to any man.” The fearless moral inventory of the 12 Steps allowed me to see the truth about me. Before I did this, my attempts at honesty with others were skewed by the falsities I truly believed of myself. Obtaining and maintaining truth in my life is an event of courage and a process of vigilance. This has been the case for me.

Armed with the truth about myself, I saw the need for mercy in my life. I had to have room to fall and get back up, to recover.  I obtained this by giving it to others. This does not mean that I abandon accountability and embrace enabling behavior. It means that I do not add the extra burden of harsh judgment that turns self-appraisal into morbid self-flagellation.

Endigar 780

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on July 18, 2017 by endigar

From Courage to Change of February 17;

My vision can be so limited. I often think that the only possible outcomes are those that I can imagine. Fortunately, my Higher Power is not restricted by such logic. In fact, some of the most wondrous events grow out of what appear to be disasters.

But faith takes practice. Fears can loom large, and I can get lost in my limited thinking. When I can’t see any way out and I doubt that even a Higher Power can help me, that’s when I most need to pray. When I do, my actions demonstrate my willingness to be helped. And time after time, the help I need is given to me.

Today I know that even when my situation looks bleak and I can’t see any way out, miracles can happen if I turn my will and my life over to God.

I have an important part to play in my relation-ship with my Higher Power–I have to be willing to receive help, and I have to ask for it. If I develop the habit of turning to my higher Power for help with small, everyday matters, I’ll know what to do when faced with more difficult challenges.

“In the hour of adversity be not without hope

For crystal rain falls from black clouds.”

~ Persian poem

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I am like most of my kind in that I desire to control my universe. Unlike others, it becomes an obsession for me that makes me vulnerable to despair when life happens beyond my ability to set it right. During the dark days when all I trusted crumbled beneath me, when betrayal replaced intimacy, when cash ransoms and casual visits replaced the respect and responsibilities of my home-building heart, and when finally the devotion of my faith became the mockery of my life and love – I wandered the Earth with no use for discussion of miracles. I had concluded that hope was a distraction and that divine intervention was only relevant when it happened. A miracle that could happen had become the ultimate tale of quantum physics, like Schrödinger’s cat.

Yet this life is not about God’s performance, but about our performance. Hope creates a nest for the prospect of a miracle and the justification for persistence in the face of failure. Fall down and get back up. Relapsed? Vomit out the poison and go after sober living again. Keep coming back. Don’t give up five minutes before the magic occurs. The intervention of my Higher Power is a crown given for my own dogged grasp of life. This life is a proving ground for me, not God. It is my union with the God of my understanding that extends my potency. It is not the existence of God but the intimacy with my GOMU that dictates the story of my life. I will not surrender to despair. Let the Watchers of the Universe ink their quills and record the story of my strength of heart. And yours too.