(Sorry…there is no recording available for this particular workshop.)
(week 240) 11 August 2016 Big Book Step Study
AA Big Book: Chapter 6 Into Action.
From: Page 82:1 “Perhaps there are some cases where the utmost frankness is demanded…”
until top of page 83: line 1: “Yes, there is a long period of reconstruction ahead.”
We may not have done the exact same thing (as that written in the Big Book) but we can:
1) Thank God in humility that we didn’t do something we are hearing somebody else did;
2) That is waiting for me if I am not vigilant;
3) I now have something to help somebody else. I have learnt.
I can have some compassion for the man or woman who had an extra marital affair. Can have compassion for the other person. Can walk side by side with someone. And guide them not shame them. Encourage them. Help, guide them into what is the right amends.
So everything about making amends is important to us. Because underneath making amends are eight previous steps: hitting bottom, knowing how powerless you are over your own behaviour and that you may not have had an extra marital affair but you could not stop eating, drinking alcohol, there is not that much of a difference. That person could not control his sex drive, I could not control my desire to look good, so taking diet pills. By the time we get to step 9, I pray that I can see that you are eligible too Stephanie. You were there. They are powerless over their sex drive, you Stephanie are powerless over co-dependency, diet pills, alcohol, sugar etc., on the continuum I am not less valuable because I am powerless over clutter, clothes, TV, alcohol, than someone who will say: “I am just powerless over gambling, that is the only thing I ever did.”
We do not compare. We don’t have a scale 1-10: I am better than them because… or they are worse than me because… By the time we get to step 8 we see our own mistakes and we keep the focus on: I made mistakes, I am not a mistake. I don’t want to make any more mistakes, God help me. But if I do, I know what to do, to write it down, how to approach somebody. I don’t say: I only did blah blah while they did blah. We stop playing that game in our heads.
Hopefully we have recovered to the point where we are praying all the time. We are minding our own business and we are helping others in a loving compassionate way. So we are praying and when I say minding our own business let me describe what I mean. Then I want you to write on this. You may not even agree on this.
Praying: we have our Quiet Time and we bring whatever we need to to God. After we have read our literature, we Write a
Dear God letter, we bring our heart to God, we bring what we need guidance with and we ask for an
Action Plan. We make an action plan for the day. We pray all day to do that action plan with the help of God. Then we mind our own business.
It means firstly, love and tolerance of everybody else. Then we take care of ourselves spiritually emotionally by working inch by inch on our action plan, and we take care of ourselves physically . I didn’t want to go to my workout yesterday but I have balance and posture problems. I don’t have enough muscle mass to be considered healthy so those three areas are very deficient so I drag myself to class. Part of my action plan is doing it Monday Wednesday and Friday – doing exactly what the professional taught me to do. I did not want to. I did it. I had to make a phone call, somebody called me about something. I had responsibility, a meeting I am responsible to. I go to my spiritual house of worship doing my own prayers, quiet time. Spiritual first, then emotional and then physical.
I took three 20 minute power naps one in the morning one in the afternoon and one at night. At night I have a commitment 7.30-8.30pm and if I had not taken a power nap would not have made it.
That is taking care of myself. How many sponsees did I talk to?. Probably three or four. I am not saying this to put myself on any pedestal. I am saying that pray all day, your spiritual recovery and your emotional recovery is your action plan which you have gotten through your spiritual life. I have accountability around that. And then physical recovery. We don’t judge other people and when others ask for help because I am spiritually, emotionally and physically fit. I don’t think of myself better or worse and I have something to offer. I have just spent 20 minutes on living amends.
Q1. What is living amends? I want you to summarise what living mends means to you.
Stephanie told you what living amends is to her. Believe me not every day do I take three 20-minute power naps! I have walked and done some yoga for 35 years. I am at the weight the doctor wants me to be at, and I never felt healthier yet a professional physician is telling me I am physically unfit! I don’t have to have falls of pride today by saying: Look I weigh and measure my food . I did not have to do that. I said thank you for your input. I went home and I brought it to God and I brought it to my accountability partners.
And I had a hard time! I had a hard time for a couple of months. But I made an action plan and I have been doing it since June. So it is not long but feels like forever! You get what I am saying? This is living amends to the people who love me, because I want to live a long life. I have a husband who is going to live to 95. He never went on a physical equipment in his life but is in good shape and he works so hard. We have a son and for you my sponsees I want to walk in this recovery for a long time. I want my last breath to be given over to helping somebody. That is my prayer to God: Help me to be useful for others God. And so it is living amends.
And its a wonderful lesson for me to bring to all of us. That pride becomes before the fall. And I could be very prideful “but you don’t understand etc.” I do understand I am not physically fit. There is a huge deficiency. I cannot stand on one foot with my eyes closed. I could not do six seconds. Now I can do eleven. But you have to go to 30! I am not making this a physical fitness group. What I am making it I made the mistake of thinking I was OK when I was not. That is why we need each other. That is why we need to be humble and we need to first take care of our spiritual life. If we pick step 9 and you really want to go on and live a recovered life your spiritual life has to take precedence. Then your emotional. You do an action plan. You stay current with your inventory. Stay current: am I resentful? Am I fearful? Am I dishonest?
Am I willing to go to any lengths? So that is what I want you to write down. .. Am I acting out? Am I acting in any way that does not show tolerance?
1) Am I resentful or angry in any way?
2) Am I acting out in a selfish way?
3). Am I dishonest in any way shape or form?
4). Am I fearful?
5). Am I willing to go to any lengths to clean up any one of those areas?
There is plenty we should do at home? What did I just tell you I did yesterday?. I went to God, and worked my action plan and I helped others. I took care of the spiritual, emotional and physical and I helped others. Was I willing to go to any lengths? Yesterday afternoon at 1.45 I literally dragged scuffing my feet into the gym. Thats going to any lengths. For two cents I would have gone home and taken a nap. I would love to say I came out of there feeling great. All I felt was I did what I said I was going to do. I felt totally spent. And I came home and I took a nap then at 4pm I had an hour with a sponsee. Working through a program with her. and then dinner with my husband then before my commitment at 7.30 I took another 20 minute power nap. Did I feel great yesterday? No. But when I went to bed last night I thanked God I did my action plan and put God first. I did my emotional and physical recovery. When I say I weigh and measure my food, that means for me doing my dishes. I have my dishes all made for the next two days. Leaving at 6am on Saturday for another workshop. The bed was made, the room was decluttered. I just say ‘weighed and measured my food but that means everything in my home is done. I thank God because God gives me that ability. That is step 9. Do not put me on any pedestal. I am just another bozo on the bus. I remember seeing a picture of a bunch of bozos on a bus going to a children’s hospital to bring a little joy. That is what I want to do, be one among many. Bring a little joy to other people. I am not more than, less than.. I make mistakes I am not a mistake. That is a living amends to God and others. I am not getting too big for my shoes or the least.. I am just another recovered alcoholic, food addict, one day at a time doing the right thing. You don’t have to be the best or the least – just be the best you are today.
“If we have no such complication, there is plenty we should do at home. Sometimes we hear an alcoholic say that the only thing he needs to do is to keep sober…”
The ‘home’ is us. We are the home. There’s plenty to be done. I am going to another drive of two hours up and down to another workshop because this home needs a lot of work and I have to go to where they are teaching how to make my home better. This is a spiritual workshop. And then as I repair this home and maintain this home with nothing resentful, not acting out. not being dishonest, not living in fear and being willing to go to any lengths then my home, spouse, children, siblings, parents if they are alive,neighbours, a spiritual community, 12-step community, all of them are in better shape because I am there.
When my home, me, is in fit spiritual emotional and physical condition then the larger home that I live in is in a better condition because I am there. When I am broken down and I go to a family party that family party is like the front door is broken. The whole house is not falling down but a part of it is. So as I make my home with God healthier., I make the bigger home I live in healthier. That is what I see out of this line.
The most self-centred and misguided person is the one who says: “the only thing I need to do is keep sober.” Have love for them. See if you can sponsor them. You don’t want them to live too long with that solution.
“…Certainly he must keep sober, for there will be no home if he doesn’t. But he is yet a long way from making good to the wife or parents whom for years he has so shockingly treated. Passing all understanding is the patience mothers and wives have had with alcoholics. Had this not been so, many of us would have no homes today, would perhaps be dead.”
Remember you can always thank people. When all else fails, when you don’t know what to say, .you can always say: “I was so blessed to have you as a mother.” “I am so grateful God gave me you as a brother.” Or an aunt, a teacher, a pastor, whatever, a spiritual director, a sponsor. Thank you. I am so grateful God gave me you. That may be the only appropriate amends. “Thank you for coming into my life. You taught me a lot. You gave me a lot. I am grateful.”
It is not good if you went over in detail the harms done and would bring up bad memories for them when too much water over the dam and they would not understand. Just a sincere thank you is so important in making amends. It will heal your heart. Of course you will read to me or your group how you hurt or harmed them. To them you just say: “Thank you for being in my life.”
“This alcoholic is like a tornado roaring his way through the lives of others. Hearts are broken .Sweet relationships are dead. Affections have been uprooted. Selfish and inconsiderate habits have kept the home in turmoil. We feel a man is unthinking when he says that sobriety is enough. He is like the farmer who came up out of his cyclone cellar to find his home ruined. To his wife he remarked, “Don’t see anything the matter here Ma. Ain’t it grand the wind stopped blown’?”
That is a perfect take of all I need to do to stay sober. It is a beginning of course. This always brings tears to my eyes. I ruined so many sweet loves and friendships but all we can do is know we made mistakes, apologise from our hearts. Don’t look at what they did and know that I have made mistakes and with God’s help I do not have to make those mistakes again and I am a woman with dignity under God. And maybe others don’t want to give me dignity. It is up to them. God will always give me dignity. When I admit I am wrong I admit my mistakes. I try to make it right before God, the other person, under the generalship of a 12-step sponsor.
I am 66 years old, I will jump through any hoop I have to, to be right with God. If I am carrying a resentment, if my behaviour is unacceptable, if I am not 100 percent honest or living in fear of people I am not making God no. 1. Then I will pick up the food. That is the one along with co-dependency that I need constant vigilance to stay out of resentment, selfish behaviour, dishonesty, fear and keep the willingness to do the spiritual emotional and physical discipline. And without that I will go back. I know it.
I am just going to leave you with this:
Big Book: Page 83 line l: “Yes, there is a long period of reconstruction ahead.”
Q3. Write on the long period of construction ahead. What does that mean?
Are you ever going to be done? No. You are never going to get done with amends. Why? We live our recovery one day at a time. We live our amends and once we have gone to people and they have received their amends, they are going to be watching us. And so that is why we have the spot check inventory that I gave you.
So I want you to write on those things that I have mentioned. Yes its a long period of construction ahead. Write on that along with the living amends that I told you about I told you what mine was, write on your own and own it. Own your own recovery. because your recovery is not just yours, it belongs to the world. That is living amends.
On the next page of my big book I have written: “Just keep quiet Stephanie”. Sometimes that is the best amends. Loving does not mean we always have to have an answer. It means we lovingly listen to other people . And tolerant that they have not had the years of recovery that we have had. I cannot give them 38 years of recovery. What I can do is listen lovingly. and maybe have a pearl of wisdom, though it may not be one. If I don’t really hear something I keep quiet today.
It takes time. Time is what we have
Time is our best friend, when in doubt don’t. What do you do? You keep praying. You keep bringing it to Quiet Time. “I don’t know what else to do.” Pray pray pray.
And work on what I have told you: living amends spiritual life emotional recovery, physical recovery and pray do it one day and then do it the next day. And you know what, you will get the answer. You will know. How? You will get to know that intuition that the Big Book talks about it. The intuition about what is the next right action. And you have got a clear road ahead. The fog is lifted and you have a clear road and you know exactly what you need to do, you know how to do it and with God’s help and an action plan you are going to do it inch by inch.
I really have nothing else to tell you.We have had two people on this call say that before they didn’t know what to do. Before they would have acted differently now they knew. They knew intuitively and did not act in the same old way.
So now you have me telling you and two of your group members. That is recovery. We are recovered one day at a time. We are never finished. That is what the Big Book says.
It says: Yes theres a long reconstruction period ahead. Again until we go in the ground. Living amends very important.
I had that No Never they did me wrong attitude. I think God could part the sea easier than change that. But my sponsor promised me that if you do these steps in order and you have Quiet Time every day and you ask God for the next right action, by the time you get to step 8 you will be chomping at the bit to make amends. Three people in a row have now said they have had a changed attitude and a changed attitude means a change behaviour.