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current weekly topic Amends through demonstrating my spiritual awakening? Sunday 7pm topic

Chad 20 09 2018 7:09 am (sent from my mobile)
Chad, alcoholic.  Grateful for your part in my sobriety today!  In the last year or two, since being diagnosed with PTSD, I've been helped by looking at parts of my dark past with the help of words like "abuse" and "assault," and at some point it came to me that those words describe harms I did when I was drunk.  Looking online, at Merriam-Webster's dictionary, at the RAINN web site, and at an abuse victim help web site, I believe I was able to see truthfully that, in the hell of active alcoholism, I committed battery, sexual assault, intimate partner sexual violence, and emotional abuse--tragically common for people with our disease, I believe.  Helps me be grateful for where I'm at today, whatever harms I may have done in sobriety!  Infinitely better than that sick darkness.  And, since it clearly seems like I'd be injuring the poor women who suffered what this disease did to us if I brought it up to them, I pray "Thy will be done," and plan to ask my sponsor during our Thursday phone call for suggestions.  

Chad 18 09 2018 8:08 pm (sent from my mobile)
Chad, alcoholic.  Thanks, Duncan, for that helpful share.  Grateful for your part in my sobriety today! 

Duncan 17 09 2018 3:57 pm (sent from my mobile)
Duncan, grateful Alcoholic,

Perhaps our friends are God's way of apologizing for our family? 
We don't get to chose our family, nor are we "joined at the hip" but we do get to chose our friends.

Cheers --- To a Resentment free day

Chad Monday, 17 September 2018 1:08 pm
Chad, alcoholic.  The helpful shares brought this topic to mind--my current sponsor, Brett, has talked a number of times about amends involving "demonstrating," living differently, if I understand it right--showing that I'm not the same guy who was dying of untreated alcoholism until 2001.  It helps me to remember that that may have started before I was aware of it--people talking about how I'd changed, how positive I was, how I was a good man, and things like that.  It also seems like that may be important for making amends where I shouldn't try to contact the person directly--my ex-wife, my ex-wife's family, and others where the harm could injure them to hear about.  Lately, I've found myself taking just a little extra time to show kindness to people in public who might not get it, sometimes (I can still be a jerk in traffic), and maybe that's part of this gift of 9th Step work.  Maybe my creative work is part of it, too--I started hiding it from people even before I started drinking, and it continues to grow in unexpected ways as I follow this "beautiful spiritual path" (my old timer friend Dave's way of putting it), the 12 Steps of AA!  Grateful for your part in my sobriety today!  

Chad Monday, 17 September 2018 1:01 pm
Chad, alcoholic.  Thank you for these helpful shares.  If I hadn't been freed from resentments toward my parents during this time of staying under their roof, I don't believe I would have been able to make amends the way I have.  And 12 hours or so ago, I got to talk with my sponsor about amends to my brothers and their families, by way of trying to call each of them once a month.  Fearful that that might open me up to toxic, dysfunctional stuff, but it might be stuff I need to see and turn over, if so.  And seeing AA as my primary family these days, my "family of choice" as an old timer friend put it a few days ago, helps me let more go from my biological family, I believe.  Grateful that amends doesn't necessarily mean doing what other people want, and that discussion with my sponsor and others, most of all my Higher Power/GoMU, has guided me through it so far.  

alan Saturday, 15 September 2018 8:51 am
Hi all Alan alcoholic.
Thanks Chad for chair and your wonderful share, Duncan for yours.
I got to make amends with my parents before coming into AA although I was abstinent at the time.
After over 35 years of estrangement from family, without contact of any kind, I got wind that my Father was ill and that he would not be long for this life. I called him in South Africa where they were living and he was pleased to hear from me but I could still hear his stiff defensive demenour coming through down the phone. I said that I would soon come to visit them but he didn't believe me.
Luckily I was financially able to quickly buy a ticket and, a month later, I was there and holding his gaunt and ravaged frame in my arms like a wounded bird. This was the only occasion I remember having this kind of contact exept perhaps a brief hug before leaving. The rest of the time was dictated on his terms from behing his usual curtain particularly when the last sundowner took him over the horizon. During my visit we talked of course but the old behaviour was still there in him, the things I resented or disliked had not changed and why would they? It was the same with my mother except a chink in the armour appeared when she mentioned that I had been "good at guitar" although how she said that surprised me as she'd never heard me play.
Remember this all happened prior to my coming to AA and it was only several years later when I took my last drinkin. But even without the insight and AA wisdom which has today been passed to me I realised that my Parents would never change and that it was in my role that there were possibilities and it was there that the progress could be made. It was in this way that I made my tacit amends as it was, as ever, impossible to bring up anything remotely "upsetting". It was through my comportment  that my peace was made and I realise today that I'd got it right for once.
Just before leaving I said to my father, I wanted to keep him alive by this, that I would come back the following year and visit. He greeted this in his usual dubious manner but I was there in Durban the following year and he was still alive to greet me. We spent our time roughly as the previous year so nothing had evolved and why should it. Some things will never go away and that includes some pain and emotional privation; I just accepted that and had a good time. Looking back I can see that God was looking after me and that I had lived another blessed moment, this time fully consciously.
The following year, in January, I got the dreaded call from my sister to say that my father had passed away. She told me that my remaking of the bridges with my father had been deeply appreciated, I know by my father but also knew that there was judgement on the family grapevine, and how could there not be?
Today I realise that some things will not change and that I have to change my role in life and find peace in letting go the things I cannot change in myself and accepting those things in others. This doesn't mean I become a doormat and there are many amends I would not even attempt as I prefer to try and be a generally better human being towards humanity as a whole. It would be easy for me to see families as toxic and dysfuncional but today, thanks to this program, I bless any family as I let go of the resentments over my own past. This, for me, is the most important amend and I can accept that some may disagree.
Alan, grateful recovering alcoholic

Duncan Friday, 14 September 2018 1:38 pm
Hey Chad,
Good stuff to hear! Thanks for sharing that with us.
It's always very rewarding to see the "fruits of our labour" come back to us so soon.
Sometimes it takes years, or even decades to see but it doesn't matter really.  I've always found that if I do my part the rewards are in the doing; the rest is all a bonus. 
I get to remain sober, just as the Promises indicate, and live more freely from guilt, fear, resentment and anxiety with each passing year.
Hope the party goes well, have fun, Chad.
Thanks again for sharing --- Duncan

Duncan Friday, 14 September 2018 1:29 pm

Chad 14 09 2018 10:44 am (sent from my mobile)
Chad, alcoholic.  Grateful to be an alcoholic because I'm sober, and it's wonderful how making amends has helped make my life better on top of the always most important reason to do it--staying sober.  A few hours ago, I got to announce a going away picnic for my friend Michelle in the program, and realized that making direct amends to my former boss Michelle, 3-4 weeks ago, had helped me get into a place to do that.  Wonderful. 

Chad Wednesday, 12 September 2018 8:09 am
Chad, alcoholic.  Grateful for the chance to chair this month, and that a topic came to me that I wonder about, fearing that I've been too cursory about some amends in the belief that it would cause injury to carry them further, and maybe having my tendency to overthink things and tune in to the nasty committee in my head that has been telling me I fall short since maybe shortly after I came out of the womb.  

But my current sponsor and maybe the one before him helpfully suggested looking things up in the dictionary, and "injure," on, shows this:  

1.  to do or cause any kind of harm to; damage; hurt; impair:
     to injure one's hand
2.  to do wrong or injustice to.  
3.  to wound or offend:  
     to injure a friend's feelings.  

Maybe the clearest example is my ex-wife--got together and got married when I was drinking, and she divorced me when I was drinking (that divorce was part of my hitting bottom, then getting sober).  At maybe 3 years sober, in 2005, I tried to contact her online, through a social media web site, saying that I was hoping to make amends to her, and got blocked.  That seemed like a sign of her being wounded by any contact, or further contact.  The same seems true for her family, since any contact from me would probably get back to her.  

If I remember the Big Book example right, it's about infidelity--something that shouldn't be brought up to a spouse, even though, maybe, amends would be needed for other harms?  That's what I've tried to do with my parents and brothers--with both of my parents, I got to make direct amends in person, sharing harm that I had done, without getting painfully specific.  That seemed to work well.  On the phone with two of my three brothers, I believe and hope I was able to do the same.  

Maybe the area where I fear I've rationalized, and about which I've heard different things, is in making amends online that might cause injury to do in person--it might wound a number of people to have me just show up, where I could send a message that might leave a comforting, for them, buffer between us.  Sponsors I've worked with so far have all been in favor of that; I've gotten to make maybe a dozen or more amends that way.  

Currently, I have 90+ letters filed for amends that would probably cause harm to attempt at all, mostly to women--with that, too, I fear doing too little.  But working with a sponsor, who I can ask about that this 9th month and/or later if need be, and through prayer, I seem to get exactly what I need.  Like you said, Alan, the proof of that is that I, an alcoholic, am sober!  Thank God (of my understanding)!

alan Tuesday, 11 September 2018 8:41 am
Alan alcoholic
Thanks Chad and I'm looking forward to working Step Nine with your help.
I also have fond memories of our meeting in France and also our staying in contact over the years is an ever present source of strength in my recovery.
The best thing is that we are both members of an association (AA) and that we are passing the message to others through actions, giving it away to keep it, and it really works as it keeps us sober!

Chad 11 09 2018 12:16 am (sent from my mobile)
Thanks, Alan, for the opportunity!  Hoping to get a new topic up in a few hours.  My current sponsor, Brett, talks about how amends can be demonstrating, through changed behavior, and it might be that I got to do that on the trip to France where I met you.  When drinking, maybe in May 1997, I or anyway my body met my father in France, kept him worrying through sick behavior including getting stranded in Paris and hitchhiking from it (not enough money to drink and pay for the train both), and maybe more insanity.  After nearly dying of this disease, I got this magnificent gift of sobriety through AA's 12 Steps, and at 9 years sober, in 2011, I had gotten a PhD, and met my father in France, to go together to a lovely rented farm house in the countryside, with great food, sightseeing, and, best of all, a ride from him to the meeting at your house!  Grateful 

alan Friday, 7 September 2018 6:50 pm
Thanks to Chad P for taking chair at step meeting this month.
We are on Step Nine:
Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Alan alcoholic

alan Tuesday, 24 July 2018 7:03 pm
Alan alcoholic.
I've set my self as chair and will do August as well. However, the chair is open to anyone who wants to take the service, just let w<ebmaster know.
Humility is ever a great topic, including as related to Step Seven. I'm finding some small progress in the handing over of tis request to God "please help me take away my shortcomings, or at least some of them.
Not giving in is one of my major defects but I have managed to find the humility to give in in a couple of things and I feel lighter as a result. It does, however, leave me with the thought I need to sustain the status quo as well as well as advancing but it's so in most things. Sharing here helps a lot and seems to give me clearer vision.
Slowly but surely, life gets better.
Alan grateful alcoholic

alan Wednesday, 4 July 2018 10:24 am
Alan alcoholic.
I changed the weekly topic to Step 7: A GREAT USE FOR HUMILITY
Without action humility is just a word. By making a list and asking for God's help I can at least start the process and hand over my stubborn will, praying for His divine intervention.
This seems to me to be one of the most appropriate situations where the power of prayer will come to my aid.

alan Thursday, 28 June 2018 10:06 am
Alan alcoholic
Thanks Chad for sharing regarding that particular defect of character where there is misuse of the procreative gift. I think that, for many, the sex instinct is adopted both as a means of escape and as a panacea.
As usual it's man misusing and mis-treating the resources which are given to us for one purpose and diverting them for another. A glaring example is money which is given to us as an intermediary for exchange and is used for power and domination of others as well as excessive self serving gratofication through amassing far more that what is a reasonable share for one individual.
Coming back to sex, there is no area where there is more distortion of the truth or boasful exageration or dar secrets yet it's given to us as a gift when we come into the world in all our innocence.  Children are misinformed from the start and the advertising industry is only too happy to capitalise on this failing by driving product sales through cynical use of sexuality. I remember a girl saying to me "can't you separate sex and love" and frankly no, I couln't and still can't. What little we get right straight out of the box is "educated" out of us as we are exhorted to join the mayhem of modern sexuality.
I went to a conference many years ago, "Sex And The Sacred", given by one Charles Rafael Payeur, a French Canadian priest, writer, philosopher and conferencier. There were mostly women present (as always at his events) and the clarity of how the context of sexuality and spirituality was developed was a revelation and a joy. Of course this will be sure to raise a few eyebrows and curl a few lips but that's part of the par course for this subject which has, frankly, great difficulty in growing up from the playground on.
Of course, like all learning, life's discoveries tend to fade, like a pair of jeans in the wash, but I believe that knowledge can be re-ignited and even some former innocent simplicity can be regained as by Picasso who spent much of his life unlearning adulthood in order to paint like a child. Working on Step Six and being ready for God to remove my shortcomings I'm sure that He'll leave me some choice in the matter. As an alcoholic, I've a special problem but, if I need to bring back some childish ideas, then I'll give that a try. After all, children seem to know more about love than most.

Chad 28 06 2018 8:34 am (sent from my mobile)
Chad, alcoholic.  Alan, thanks, that idea of substituting has been popping up for me this week; it seems like an old timer friend of mine, Ruth N, suggested that or something similar in 2011 when I was on Step 6 or 7.  It always helps me to remember when my defect or defective behavior of using women for sex was removed in 2008--not that I haven't acted out on lust in other ways, but I'm grateful to say that I've been freed from that kind of harm that I believe both the Big Book and my observation have shown me can kill us alcoholics.  Your share helps me reflect that maybe it was replaced with something; I got a surge of creative energy, maybe after that.  Maybe being entirely ready to have defects removed meansI'm ready to accept what may take their place?  Grateful for your part in my sobriety today!

alan Monday, 25 June 2018 12:42 pm
Alan alcoholic.
Thanks Chad for that very thought provoking share, it's well to look at the imponderable as well as it's opposite.
When something is removed, there's got to be a void and, if that void needs filling by replacing with something else, there needs to be consideration given to what the replacement might be.
One area to explore might suggest taking a dictionary of antonyms and using that to get inspired on what opposites might be applied, as in the replacement of fear with faith. Anger is of course a tough one but you've got to start somewhere if you'll "go to any lengths to get what we have". I'm ready to try harder on that thanks to this step work opportunity.

Chad 25 06 2018 6:15 am (sent from my mobile)
Chad, alcoholic. Alan, thanks for your helpful share. Maybe for the last 4 years or so, I've been hung up from time to time on what my part is in Steps 6 and 7--I heard Paul O say "I'm powerless over my defects," I've heard or read maybe the opposite, and maybe it's individual to at least some extent.  In the Big Book, I'm told to pray for willingness if I need it, in Step 6.  In the 12 and 12, it says "try as best we know how."  Try for willingness, or try to act differently from the defect, or ... ?  My own experience, so far, is that I can't seem to change myself, defects do get removed maybe after a surrender, and no amount of criticism from others can seem to get me to do better; I may even try to use that group effort as a way to get a quorum against the God of my (mis?)understanding, because of my defect of pride. 

Grateful it is progress, not perfection, and that instead of the terror, frustration, bewilderment and despair of coming out of a blackout not knowing why there was blood on me, I'm sober and enjoying the luxury of uncertainty about this!  

alan Saturday, 23 June 2018 7:32 pm
It's only through "a day at a time" remembering my character defects and asking God to remove them that I can continue to grow spiritually in recovery. In addition, I believe He will require some effort pn my part.

Chad 22 06 2018 4:06 am (sent from my mobile)
Chad, alcoholic.  Grateful for your part in my sobriety today.  A character defect of mine definitely seems to be at work this week.  Got 3 new sponsees in the last 3 weeks or so, and suggested that they try to call me daily, like my current sponsor Brett had me do when we started working together in 2016.  My phone got cut off maybe Sunday, and my sponsor suggested getting it "squared away," which I told him I was hoping to do the next day.  It hasn't happened yet, and I've been hoping my student loan would come in; meanwhile, my mother asked "Do you need money?" And a no came out of my mouth.  My father suggested talking to the people I owe money to. Haven't done that.  Two of my sponsees have been in touch by email; one fired me as a sponsor.  Grateful it is progress, not perfection, and that I can pray for help.  

Chad Sunday, 17 June 2018 11:11 pm
Chad, alcoholic.  Thank you for the wonderful shares, Alan.  My friend, hero and brother in recovery Mel B, who got sober at 24 like I did and reached over 66 years of sobriety before he passed, did not talk to me directly that I remember about his own spiritual beliefs, but I heard him say in a recorded lead that he was a "believer in synchronicity," if I remember right, and I am reading your share just 3 hours or so after a counselling session where my difficult relationship with my mother came up.  These days, I believe I'm blessed with perspective on how therapy fits in with my 12 Step program--showing me my defects, maybe old ideas that they started to sprout early in my life, and emotions that I get to acknowledge and turn over if need be, and accept that I'm powerless over these, too, rather than trying to fix them like I started trying to do maybe around the time I started drinking.  My sponsor suggested seeking healthy, platonic relationships with women in AA, and it seems like more synchronicity that my old timer friend Lisa S, when I told her I was going to therapy, said "you go, baby!"  Everything within me is acceptable to the God of my understanding, who maybe made me to be every way that I've ever been and ever will be; I don't know.  Grateful for great company like yours on this great journey of recovery!

alan Sunday, 17 June 2018 8:38 am
Alan alcoholic
Yesterday I played at a funeral for a 90 year old lady I very much liked, respected and admired. The accompanist comes from Colorado every year to spend the summer in France and she's a divine player. Her virtuosity as a reader and musician is without question but she also has qualities over and above such as complete attention, beautiful observation of musical nuance, telepathy and anticipation as she communicates whilst faithfully and humbly following the solo violin part as I played the Ave Maria by Gounoud.
Today I was rerunning this in my head and I suddenly thought about respect for women and how I'm acquiring so much more thanks to the help from this step.
One of my big shortcomings and defects, whetever the cause might be, is lack of respect of women or I should say the "ability" to respect them because, although I've tried enough to make amends for my part in the bad relationship I had with my mother, my efforts fall short when they meet certain obstacles.
God needs my help in surmounting obstacles and He is call me to do just that in this fifth step and being "entirely ready" means admitting that there are things I need to make an effort over and actually do something about them.
He spoke to me this morning about yesterday's playing experience and I could see how it was tied to the respect of these two women: the dear departed old friend and the elderly lady who was such an amazing accompanist. They both helped me to clear the way and God's voice did the rest: All I felt then was love.

alan Thursday, 14 June 2018 5:22 pm
Alan alcoholic
Thanks Chad, not only for your continued service helping me to stay sober but for shining the light on the path to tread as I work through the steps.
I love the Yellowstone Park story, it makes me think that my character defects can be replaced by something else; as the flowers grew in place of the ashes fear can be replaced with faith and much much more.
It's given me the opportunity to think creatively about STEP SIX, I'll keep this short right now but will soon be back.

Chad Thursday, 14 June 2018 5:53 am
Chad, alcoholic.  Grateful for the chance to chair for the rest of June, and maybe it's the GoMU working that I couldn't log in to the chair's section to change the topic--the whole Step was part of the discussion at my home group earlier, and there's plenty that it helps me to share about just on that!  A couple of friends sober longer than me were sitting at the same table, and shared--one, Denny, about how it's helped him to pray to have the benefit of a defect removed.  That helped me to try praying silently there in the meeting.  The other one, Charlie, shared, maybe about Step 6, 7, or both, a story that he went with someone to Yellowstone national park, to a section that had been burnt, expecting to see burned ground.  Instead, he saw an amazing display of wildflowers that had grown out of the ashes, with no trace of those ashes anymore--all flowers.  Maybe that's what I start getting a glimpse of when I become entirely ready, or as close as I can humanly get, to having the God of my understanding remove my defects of character.  

Also, it came to me when I was talking to my sponsor after the meeting that I heard a talk by Paul O, who wrote "Acceptance Was the Answer" in the Big Book, and he said something like "my book says I'm powerless over my defects."  

Just remembering now, an old timer friend of mine here quoting Don M, another wonderful member who lives maybe 2 hours away (and whose house i hope to go to for a meeting soon), talking about wearing the defects that haven't been removed like a comfortable pair of shoes.  Maybe that fits with being entirely ready for me, too.

Either way (and this came to me to share in the meeting, maybe because I needed to hear it), I remember being maybe 5 years old and having such a painful drive to fix myself, to cast out this overwhelming load of sin I felt I had in me, and when I came to AA I feared it meant returning to being that kid, which had maybe nearly killed me already.  Instead, a guy, Chuck, said at my first home group, "you are incapable of change," and it hit me that, okay, this is the place for me.  

Recently, I heard that in a talk by Bob W that I believe is on youtube, from 1984.  He said he believes we only have one choice in life--to let God change us.  Which, I now realize, sounds a lot like Step 6 to this alcoholic!

Grateful for your part in my sobriety today!

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