Thursday, June 21, 2018

An Admission Is Required

Step One in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous requires an admission to our innermost self that we are alcoholic.  As difficult as this is, we see the progression not only in the amount of alcohol we consumed but the negative effects the alcohol was having on our bodies and on our lives. This realization comes after we declare, "I am an alcoholic" (or "I am an addict") and after we had a desire not to drink and not to use.  We had to make an admission that we were powerless over alcohol, over drugs, over our reckless behaviors, and that our lives had indeed become unmanageable.  We drank, used, and behaved the way our disease willed us to and so many of us relapsed time and time again over events and circumstances in our lives. The happenstances of our lives are only excuses as the real reason we lapsed was because we only wanted or had one foot in the  program, and one foot out of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous.

          In Chapter Five of the "Big Book" of Alcoholics Anonymous entitled "How It Works" states, "Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program."  We can chose  not to thoroughly follow the path and so we do not completely give ourselves to this simple program as we are so very defiant by nature.  The result of such defiance is relapse (if we are lucky, death if we are not).
          It is true that an admission is required.  It is true that we must admit complete defeat.  It is true that our lives are unmanageable. It is true that we must admit to our innermost self that we are alcoholic, that we are addict, that we are amok with disease.  It is true that we must surrender to the program of AA.  Once we have made all of these admissions we must integrate the program of AA into our lives in such a way that it becomes our life.  Then maybe, just maybe, for the first time in our  existence we will have a life... a real life...a joyful, loved-filled life.




Monday, June 18, 2018

Our True Maldy

In the Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous in the chapter "How It Works" it states, "The first requirement (in taking the Third Step) is that we be convinced that any life run on self will can hardly be a success.  Remember that we deal with alcohol - cunning, baffling, powerful!  Without help it is too much for us.  But there is One who has all power - that One is God. May you find Him now!"  It also says "Selfishness-self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles... So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making...and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn't think so. Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness... And there often seems no way of entirely getting rid of self without His aid."
       We have learned through the program of Alcoholics Anonymous that we have three basic instincts. These instincts are God given and necessary for life, but in me I can never get enough of what it is I think I need.  The great psychiatrist Sigmund Freud defines an instinct as "a bodily need manifested in our thought process."  What occurs for us as an alcoholic is our instincts manifest themselves in our thought process and trigger our self-centered fear.  We learned through the program that alcohol is but a symptom of OUR TRUE MALADY. Any addiction is such. OUR TRUE MALADY is self-centered fear: afraid that we are not going to get what we want, afraid that we will lose what we have.  Once our fear is triggered we reach for our character defects in an attempt to satiate our instincts. The only problem is that in us we can never get enough of what it is that we think we need, then we run around chasing our tails creating havoc in our lives - but more importantly, havoc in the lives of everyone around us.  This is the functioning piece of alcoholism.
        As an alcoholic we have a compulsive need to defend our basic human instincts, often to an extreme.  This manifestation of our character defects is a result of our self-centered fear that permeates our lives.  Alcohol is but a symptom of OUR TRUE MALADY. OUR TRUE MALADY is SELF-CENTERED FEAR.

Written By Armand

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Can't Solve The Problem With The Problem

       Our lives were lived to constantly fuel and satisfy our desires. We protected our instincts that were warped by fear and self-absorption. We lived our lives in defiance wrapped around our own self-centeredness - with extreme sensitivity and grandiosity.  Our nature could never initiate or sustain true, honest relations with other human beings. We were forever searching outside of ourselves, completely unaware that the solution to our problem lay within. These lives we lived, fueled by fear and insatiable desires to appease our human instincts, became so anxiety-filled that we increasingly sought escape as a way to experience ease and comfort within.  We were a contradiction unto ourselves.
         As for myself, the escape was the increasing use of alcohol that led to addiction. I sought control over my addiction yet to no avail.  This inability to control created a series of very negative consequences in my life. I was driven by a self-will that knew no boundaries. I constantly attempted to fix the problem with my own internal drive.  I was trying to solve my problem with my problem.  We cannot ever solve the problem with the problem.
         I was unaware of the uniqueness of the disease in that it is a two-fold one. We have a physical  allergy, which ensures that each and every time we put the substance(s) into our system we will get sick, drunk/high, and into all kinds of trouble. But, more importantly, we have a mental obsession which ensures that even though we don't want to drink or use or behave in such a way our disease wants us to. Sooner or later our minds will tell us it's ok. We will satiate our desires, we will trigger the physical allergy and we will ultimately succumb to the hand of addiction. Time after time, using our minds to create a way to control our disease and always failing to do so is proof to us that we can't solve the problem with the problem.
      The solution to our problem with alcohol, with drugs, and with every problem borne from our defective, ill nature is a relationship with God. Through a vital spiritual experience which we temper and enlighten with prayer and meditation we foster such a relationship.  The experience occurs in our lives when the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous are integrated into it. We practice the steps in such a way that they become our lives so that the problem will be solved.

Written by Armand

Monday, June 11, 2018

Trust In God


         There is an old Biblical story which relates to having trust in God.  When the Jewish people left Egypt, "The Exodus", God had prepared a land for them - The Promised Land.  The Promised Land was an eleven day journey from Egypt. Moses sent a scout from each of the twelve tribes to explore The Promised Land and report back. They reported that the area was magnificent, a land flowing with milk and honey, but the people there are powerful and the cities well fortified. What's more, "we saw giants seven to nine feet tall". This caused fear in the people. The only scouts willing to face their fear (by trusting in God) were Caleb and Joshua, both willing to enter The Promised Land. The Jewish people decided not to enter. For the next forty years the Jews wandered around in the wilderness until all those who were over twenty at the time had died.  Once again, they stood at The Promised Land and only Caleb and Joshua who were over twenty from forty years ago were allowed to enter as they had been willing to face their fears by trusting in God.

           We each have our own exodus from our own addiction. We became weary of wandering around the wilderness alone. We were ill. We were finished. We face our fears by trusting in God and we enter The Promised Land - a land of serenity, peace and joy. Are you ready?  Have you come to believe that a power greater than yourself could restore you to sanity? Have you come to trust in that power?

Written By Armand

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Sponsorship

 I have had the privilege of working with many people in Alcoholics Anonymous. I have worked with all walks of life: male and female, rich and poor, young and old, believers and non believers, Christians, Jews and Muslims. I do the same thing with everyone - I always have the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous between them and me. I simply open the book and we begin reading at the preface. As we read the book we discuss the material. I don't change anything for anyone. The solution, a vital spiritual experience, is the solution regardless of what their problem may be in addition to their addiction. Obviously, if a person has mental problems then additional help is necessary for them.  I never tell anyone what they must do - I just follow the material and incorporate the Twelve Steps as we move through it all: A practice that can be replicated by anyone.
         I know that my behavior is being observed.  Not just whether I can "talk the talk" but more importantly can I "walk the walk".  Am I practicing the principles of AA?  In the forward of The Twelve And Twelve it says, "The twelve steps are a group of principles, spiritual in nature, which if practiced as a way of life can expel the obsession to drink and enable the sufferer to become happily and usefully whole."
         The following is what my sponsees see in me: I am responsible. When asked to take someone through the book of Alcoholics Anonymous, I say yes. I never consider whether I have enough time...  I simply just make it work.  There isn't a greater exercise one can participate in than to help another recover from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. Nothing. We meet once a week for an hour and I only cancel if I have an urgent family matter or if I am doing step work with another. My emotional state rarely, if ever, changes one week to the next as I am serene and at peace.  I never prepare for a meeting as I am dependent upon and trusting in God.  Again, I never tell another what they must do as it is their recovery. It is their relationship with God.  I am the example, not the taskmaster.


         When we live this life in AA we become happily and usefully whole.  Let us share in this legacy.  

Monday, June 4, 2018

Become The Being That God Created

   When I first walked through the doors of Alcoholics Anonymous I had no idea what to expect. Though quickly I was able to see what worked in others -  a belief in and dependence upon God.  As Bill once said "Would I have it? Of course I would."
          The Sixth Step of the program of  Alcoholics Anonymous is "We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character."  We learn through the program of Alcoholics Anonymous that alcohol is but a symptom of our true malady, our true malady is in fact self-centered fear. We are afraid we are not going to get what we want, afraid that we are going to lose what we have.  Once our fears are triggered we reach for our character defects in an attempt to satiate our human instincts.  The dictionary defines defect as, "the lack of something necessary for completion or perfection."
          We learn in the Fourth Step of the program that it is necessary to find out what it is about us that keeps the Grace of God from our lives. It is in doing this that we discover the exact nature of our wrongs, as we make the list of our defects. In the Fifth Step of the program we confess our character defects.  Then, in the Sixth Step, we are entirely ready and willing to have these defects removed.
          It is our character defects that keep us from the perfection of God - from becoming the human being God created each of us to be and not the self-centered people who care only for their human desires and what they think they need in life.  A person who is willing to use almost any means necessary to fulfill their desires is sick.
          With all of our human flaws we can become the being God created us to be when we turn from our human nature and surrender to His will.

Written by Armand

Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Bright Spot Of Our Lives

As sponsors in Alcoholics Anonymous we must live the principles of the program if we are to have the integrity it takes to present the principles of AA to others.  We have come to understand that our very lives as ex-problem drinkers are dependent upon the lives we are called to help.  Our lives take on a purpose and meaning that we have not experienced before.
    In the "Big Book" of Alcoholics Anonymous in the chapter "Working With Others" it states, "Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics... You can help when no one else can... Remember  they are very ill.  Life will take on a new meaning.  To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends - this is an experience you must not miss.  We know you will not want to miss it.  Frequent contact with newcomers and with each other is the bright spot of our  lives."
        There is nothing that we can do with ourselves that is more important then helping someone else recover from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. Nothing. In order for this recovery to occur for them in its purest form, those we are helping must develop a personal relationship with God. It is through such a relationship with Him that they will recover. It is through this relationship that they will know serenity, peace and joy, maybe even for the first time in their lives.
        Obviously none of this can possibly occur for others if it has not occurred for us - as we cannot give away that which we don't have. Live this life through Him and in helping others do the same, you will be living within the bright spot of your life.

Written by Armand