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current weekly topic THE SUFFERING OPTION Sunday 7pm topic

Chad 19 04 2019 3:58 pm (sent from my mobile)
Chad, alcoholic.  Grateful to be sober, and that the 4th Step resentment inventory format keeps helping me when resentments drop up on my 10th Step inventory, like right now:  I'm resentful at:  the God of my (mis)understanding.  The Cause--no matter what I do, I seem to just be stuck, it's really painful, and no good option is coming up no matter how I pray and try to take action--like I've been forgotten, and/or God quit liking me.  Affects my:  self-esteem, Ambition, Security, Personal relations, Sex relations?  My part/mistakes:  Frightened--I fear Monday's job interview to teach in a prison-that the wrong thing will happen with it, I fear what emotional growth I might be needing that might be ahead, I fear leaving this place when I seem stuck in dysfunctional family dynamics, I fear dying, and I fear living.  Dishonest--I'm pretending I should be completely serene about a change of job, state where I live, sponsor, home group and more, when these are rated as really stressful things to do, and it's okay that I'm freaked out.  Self-seeking--I also imagine that my God is going to do something stupid with my life, buying my mind's insane bs.  How I retaliated:  sitting in  the suffering between my ears-- "I'll show You, I'll hurt me," maybe.  Thanks! 

Chad 18 04 2019 8:27 am (sent from my mobile)
Chad, alcoholic.  Grateful to be sober, and grateful, Alan, for your helpful share.  It just came to mind, while I read it, that I used to hear, maybe at my first home group, "pain is mandatory, suffering is optional," or something like that.  Wonderful, beautiful news for this alcoholic, after a "life" of suffering before and in active alcoholism.  Then I read something in the Big Book about how character building through suffering might be all right for saints, but we are not saints.  Then I read in the Twelve and Twelve about pain being the touchstone of all spiritual growth.  And life started to open up for me, in sobriety, partly through inventory!  Who knew a simple tool like that could bring such wonderful results?  Grateful it does! 

alan 17 April 10:04 am
Alan alcoholic.

I changed weekly topic to THE SUPPERING OPTION

I find that there's some pain involved in Step IV as I uncover hitherto hidden (from myself, I thought) defects at the root of that pain and it gets me thinking that it's like the pain in a tooth where some people put off going for dental treatment for as long as possible. This only prolongs the pain and the suffering remains; true relief will only come when correct treatment is administered and there will be no more suffering.

Allowing the status quo to continue is what keeps many alcoholics drinking, and the suffering only worsens as the disease progresses, but AA offers me a solution beginning with stopping my consumation of what has become for me poisonous mood changer. To continue progress and recovery  through Steps 1,2,3 and Step Four It is suggested that I don't drink, go to meetings and help other alcoholics through acquired motivation as to how I can help, how I can serve.

To attain a situation of continued recovery is a serious reconfigutration of the status quo for any alcoholic but that "change of heart" is the only true way to lasting recovery. When I'm working Step Four I find that, in the same way I cut alcohol out through not drinking, I need to curtail and eventually cut out the warped thinking which is behind the pain and lmeading to the suffering.

At the end of the day the pain is not the same as that experienced previously, rather it's different to the dull ache which I constantly felt when I drank. Needless to say that the suffering has all but disappeared and I believe that this is largely due to my acceptance of the Twelve Steps both  as an ongoing part of my recovery and as a work in progress which will always be progress and never perfection. The suffering option is always there for those who think otherwise.

Chad 17 04 2019 6:02 am (sent from my mobile)
Chad, alcoholic.  Grateful to be sober, and thank you for the helpful shares.  David, I know those feelings well, my friend!  My mind tends to tell me they're never going to change for the better, but thankfully, in sobriety, they always do.  Thank God (of my understanding) for inventory; one of the humbling gifts I get from it is recognizing that what goes on inside of me in sobriety is basically the same as what goes on inside every other alcoholic in sobriety.  Believing that seems to help me, anyway.  Grateful for your part in my  wonderful adventure of sobriety today!

George 16 April 9:01 am
Georgina, alcoholic. Step four took me four years to get to.... but I gave myself a break about that as I remembered that it would only work for me WHEN I was ready - and it was not for me to decide when I was ready. I was ready when I was ready. I thought about this step, obviously, for many months.... and then one day I knew it was the time to sit down and do it. And I did. All in one go. I poured out every resentment I thought I had - and discovered that those resentments had legs that I never even knew about. Felt so much better afterwards - more solid with realising more about why I felt how I felt. I let go after that. Not conciously - but understanding gave me answers to uncomfortable niggles and opened the door to acceptance

The Promises say that we will be amazed before we are even half way through. I am. I am no longer anxious, paranoid, fearful, stressed, so overwhelmed that I cannot think my way out of a paper bag. I never thought that this peace would happen for me but it did. As long as I start my day handing it over to my HP, asking for my character defects to be removed, and say the Serenity prayer to ask only for guidence for the day ahead and the courage to carry out whatever my HP has in store for me.... all is well. I used to be afraid of doing that - but there was no reason to be fearful.... God will never ask you to do something that is too much for you. I am no longer a captive of my own mind. My own mind doesn't matter..... it is there to help me work through 'life' tasks (bills, admin, cleaning the house). The rest of it I hand over. 

David 16 April 4:02 am
This morning I tried to do an emotional inventory, emotionally today I feel numb, I feel full of fear, overwhelming fear to the point of panic or anxiety levels out the roof. I feel detached and withdrawn and disconnected from my feelings and emotions, in a state of paralysis of analysis. I feel full of guilt and shame, and full of perfectionistic thinking, I feel mentally attached to a rigid mind set of fear of rejection and cpeople pleasing. Internally I just feel dead, like I haven't a heart, soul or spirit. I feel lost in life, lost in space and time, and feeling life is completely meaningless and serves no point. I feel my efforts are always in vain, I feel my drive in life has been lost or apathy and indifference and resignation, and I feel full of unrealistic expectations both of myself and other peiople, i feel sad, depressed, overwhelmed and overwhelmly negative towards life, not positive I feel scared all day long, scared of making mistakes, scared of being wrong, scared of hurting myself and other people. I feel like a little baby in an adult body. I feel bitter and lethargic 

Chad 15 04 2019 7:42 am (sent from my mobile)
Also, it helps me to share what my friend and hero Gene O, 58 years sober!, went through and shared that helps me with resentment, which Step 4 so helpfully focuses on.  Members of his family were tragically killed maybe 2 1/2 years ago by a drunk driver who also died; Gene told me that he couldn't resent the man because it could have been him.  And hearing that helped me let resentment go too, I believe.  And Gene, I believe, was able to grieve and recover.  

Chad 15 04 2019 7:39 am (sent from my mobile)
Chad, alcoholic.  Grateful to be sober, and for the helpful share!  For me, too, it's important to identify my character defects without imagining that I'm simply a mass of them.  Truly grateful for the help of Step 4 in that process! 

alan 13 April 10:25 am
Hello, Alan alcoholic.
I  enjoyed working Step IV at 7 pm yesterday, I spent the time thinking how I could optimise my approach regarding the admission of character defects. I find it useful to visualise why I need to do so and I came to the conclusion that the goal is is to change my faulty thinking, character and bad motivations into something better in order that I may become a freer and more serene human being. Yes, as Chad says, we are spiritual beings living a human condition, and I feel it's as important to be aware of the crux of the matter, particularly where I balk in front of more difficult admissions.

When studying the alphabet I need to know that the objective is to compose words and communicate otherwise my desire to learn those letters will diminish through lack of evident purpose. The musician learning scales needs to know that they lead to tunes and the recovering alcoholic can stimulate and motivate that recovery through visualising the end result. This would perhaps be preferable to a questioning and doubting skepticism, particularly when the stakes are so high, an they are. Alcoholism recovery is never a done deal and, like global climatic change, has an infinitely long arm.

Working through the lists of character defects is a wonderful if daunting experience, the shear number I relate to is surprising. When I find myself hesitating before an item I try to remember what all this is for and also look at the opposite of that defect to see if I relate to that. When in doubt I prefer admission to denial but I'm not going to tick all the boxes as a matter of course turning myself into a sanctimonious mound.

This whole process needs my stringent further searching and fearless honesty and begins to look like a serious opportunity to grow up.

Chad 12 April 10:00 pm
Chad, alcoholic.  Grateful to be sober, and I hope you had a great meeting on zoom; hoping to join you for one soon, too!  I definitely identify with the shares here about Step 4, and they help since I've started working through the Steps again with my sponsor; I get to have more of the experience my hero Chuck C described as "uncover, discover, discard."  It's my belief that I find that difficult because of my disease, which centers in my mind and maybe overlaps a lot with my ego; it insists that I am these sick parts of me that Steps 4-9 free me from; I was told at my first home group, "we're spiritual beings having a human experience," and that perspective helps me tremendously to accept getting rid of the grit of resentments and other "ick" from this spiritual malady, and see more of the real, spiritual me underneath.  Grateful to be enjoying this lovely spring day, thanks to AA, and thanks for your part in that miracle, mes freres et mes soeurs (hope I wrote that right :))!

alan 12 April 6:20 pm
Alan alcoholic.
Thanks David gor your share, I totally identify with what you're feeling and I believe that working this Step IV can go a long way in alleviating my own deep malaise which is still there but better than when I started AA 22 years ago.

In a way it gets more difficult as more is revealed and I dig deeper but I'd like to keep up the effort and acknowledge these demons rather than deny them. Difficult, yes, but simple as the deep seated pain is directly linked to my character defects and here I am working them!

The meeting on Zoom starts in a half hour for those who would like to spend an hour with me pondering this step. Mark has just sent notice of his absence, I'll be online in 15 minutes to see who'll be there - the great unknown!

David 12 April 5:14 pm
Thanks for the links, going over the worksheets I just feel completely overwhelmed really, but dealing with it, instead of stuffing it, denying it, would be a move exactly like my parents and grandparents did, they just never talked about it, never did anything about it, 

alan 10 April 12:20 pm
Alan alcoholic.

This morning I looked at "AA Thought For The Day" and it struck me regarding the connection between the text and the Fourth Step which we are currently working.

"On awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead.
We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God
to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from
self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives.  Under these conditions
we can employ our mental faculties with assurance, for after all
God gave us brains to use. Our thought-life will be placed on a
much higher plane when our thinking is cleared of wrong motives."

I've put in red the words that stuck out to as I saw how the step inventory is connected in all sorts of ways. It strikes me that working on my charcter defects through using the lists will eventually lead to a better mental attitude, particularly with regard to WRONG MOTIVES. I certainly hope so and not without God's help.

One list can be found here (thanks to Mark B for propviding the file!)

Another is here (you can have fun filling out this one on your computer)

Friday 7pm Paris time on Zoom at we can discuss the implications.

David 5 April 12:43 pm
Step four, for me sort of brought me to a place and point where I had to face and deal with things that for the most part of my life had just been shoved under the rug and to the best of my ability forgotten about, only to be remembered during working my fourth step, one thing I found discovered in my 4th step was the very suttle lies I found that my disease seems to lead me down a path naturally of self deception, cowardness, self righteousness, perfetionism and the biggest one is utter close mindedness, i came to AA believing that I was actually quite a open minded person when in fact, that turned out to be more of a self delusion than a fact of reality. I discovered so many of my fears and inner critic seemed to be attached to my ego, this completely fake and false persona. I came to AA believing I knew everything about everything, but the longer I stayed in meetings and thawed out, I began realizing I'd just been lying to myself and that I quite honestly didn't know anything really about life. I had just had a few life experiences and then quickly drawed erroneous and false assumptions and conclusions and sweeping assumptions that everyone was wrong that I was right, that everyone needd to see things my way and the largest problem in life was the fact other people just didnt' see things the way I wanted them to, and then I had this sick search or quest for sympathy from others, which I know now is nothing more than a form of enabling really, or co signers to my own bullshit. Becoming spiritually awaken or alert is a strange experience, because for me, I feel that my super ego which by the way makes me feel inferior to you all, literally hides my spirit and soul beneath it, it's like my ego functions much like the shell of a turle, this hardened external surface, but within in completely different all together. I have to confess that doing step 4 is when I've began learning how to share and speak from the heart instead of my ego or mind. My mind can often create this completely fake narrative that operates on top of sober reality and all it's good for is misery and confusion and fear. I once heard in AA that we alcoholics are truly addicted to misery and we are addicted to being right and we are addicted to over thinking. I have learned though that I don't have to share with other's every single thought running through my head, but at the same time, I've discovered there's absolutely nothing I'm going through unique to myself, that there might be dozens of alcoholcs out there facing very similar external circumstances, and internal dialogue and attitudes, anyways for me going through this step 4 work again is coming out of more denial, denial of the trauma, denial of the pain and terror and how its warped me and being able to begin talking instead of suffering in silence

alan 2 April 12:25 pm
Alan alcoholic.

Many years ago, I was talking with a fellow member regarding the reticence many experience when contemplating Step IV. This reticence tends to become prevarication and all the excuses come out such as "I'll do the step later" or "when I've got the elements" or "when I get a Big Book" or "when I buy some paper".

We decided to assemble a certain quantity of Step 4 methods and combine them into one PDF document including the approriate part of The Big Book at the end so that there would be no further room for excuses. We then (jokingly) realised that lack of a pen could be brought up as a let-out so we made the PDF in a form which can be filled out directly on the computer or tablet.

Over time I've realised that, if the willingness is not there, then no amount of technological help will get an unwilling alcoholic to do what he resists although a power greater than ourselves might do the job. Once again, as servants of His will, we can only carry the message as best we can and then hope for the best. At the same time the benefits to me have been enormous, as I struggle to clean my own house, I've found the cleaning materiels extremely useful - particularly the list of potential chacter defects.

As a starting point to this month's step work this is the link to the PDF document if you'd like to check it out
I'll be using this document to continue my Step IV work as well as reading the other related literature in our literature cupboard, accessible through the menu at the top of this web page.

Chad 2 April 4:40 am
Chad, alcoholic.  Grateful to be sober, and thank you for these helpful shares.  Can definitely identify with lacking relationship skills!  From an early age, I seemed to be trapped in rigid ideas about how everyone should behave, and burdened with an awful (maybe God-sized) sense of responsibility for everyone's behavior.  Maybe the 4th Step is the start of letting that insanity go for me; I didn't know I had resentments until starting to write the inventory, empowered by the 3rd Step, and thank GoMU they started to come.  The other day, I was sharing with a friend before a meeting about my mother (who has or had a similarly troubled mother), and that friend asked, "do you resent her?," then said "it's okay if you do."  That really seemed to help me to hear--it's okay that I get resentments, and then I get to and need to surrender them so they don't kill me via the bottle, the needle, the pistol, or maybe in other ways.  

David 1 April 1:29 am
good morning, sharing is caring they say, even when you don't feel like it, expereince stength and hope, expanding my spiritual life and having a vital meaningful spiritual experience, i can't say I know much anything on spiritual matters, I have very little spiritual experience or maybe I've had more spiritual experience than I'm aware off. For me, when I use alcohol I use it like a passive form of suicide, alcohol was a form of seld medication, medicating from living lies, very suddle deep rooted lies, wreckage from the past, alot of hurt that runs dark and deep and that I wasn't aware of coming in the program that today have slowly surfaced as I can handle them. I think a large part of my problem in the past was suffering in silence, keep things bottld up on the inside and drinking to self medicate, alcoholc insanity playing the director over the years of sobriety I've done countless fear inventories that seem to remaing the same for the most part, fear of letting go, fear of loosing what I have, no of uncertainty which life is full off, fear of not getting what I want, the other thing I've been aware of is how mechanical I can become in trying to relate to other's without having any emotion involved good or bad, and being overly hypervigilant always on guard. I'm not sure why but after so many years of sobriety I feel like I'm just waking up to my complete lack of relationship skills, sometimes I look back on past relationships and ponder the endless possibilities had I been better equipped to handle the relationship in a much healthier way, what I seem stuck in alot off, is starting a new relationship with lots of potential and promise and then over time the relationship continues to deteorite ever getting worse and worse and more toxic, a large part of this goes back to my emotional intelligence trying to engage adult relationships with a child like brain, king/baby as they say, behaving very childish at times. And having relatonships that were amazing and powerful but over the pages of time just seemed to have faded away to the point their lost and gone and there's nothing left anymore.  I can often find myself frozen in these mental narratives in my head and mind that set on top of me, and it seems easy to get sucked into them, even when they don't reflect reality, they just are thoughts and a mental narrative. Anyways enough of my ramblings its good to read shares here

alan 31 March 2:46 pm
Alan alcoholic.

Willingness, acceptance, humility all lead to the handing over of control to a power grater than myself.

alan Sunday, 31 March 2019 8:26 am
Alan alcoholic.

The decision I made to turn my will and my life over is something I need to renew daily otherwise I know that I will tend to forget. The power of prayer is paramount in my quest for spiritual progress, that I may find Him NOW.

It's great working the steps, I hope to share the experience and the benefits with others. Tomorrow is April first and we will begin working step Four, using guidelines which will show me how to avoid April fooling myself as I make this important, thorough and fearless moral inventory.

Chad 30 03 2019 7:35 am (sent from my mobile)
Chad, alcoholic.  Grateful to be sober, and thanks for these helpful shares.  One of my current fears is that my life is really going in the wrong direction and my belief that it's divinely guided is just an illusion (another one is that people are figuring out that I'm a monster--thankfully my fears tend to be wildly untrue).  It helped me to talk this week to a friend who's been sober a long time, who was sharing about similar things.  And another one, who I hope to see in a few hours,  once told me his belief that "we work in the dark."  Which reminds me that I'm not promised that I'll be kept up to date about where my God is guiding my life.  It's not for me to interpret, and maybe it's not even my business, like I believe Chuck C talked about.  Which gives me a lot of freedom, including from what people think of me, maybe.  Idk, but I'm grateful to be sober with you, my wonderful friends! 

David Saturday, 30 March 2019 1:30 am
One thing I have observed is my ease and cooperation when it involves judging others and doing other peoples inventory, maybe if i start placing as much time energy and thought into doing my own inventory instead of others I'd have some amazing freedom and break throughs in my recovery. 

David Saturday, 30 March 2019 1:25 am
The great news with my step three involves the fact an idiot is no longer in charge of my life and all my fears, all my delusions, all my pity parties have thankfully been handed over to something greater than myself plus all my shorr comings and character defects, which i have cargo ships full of. Self will, pride ego, self righteousness, moral superiority, resignation, indifference unrealistic demands and expectations have all.been sold to God, he can deal with those bastards from now on I'be had enough. 

alan Wednesday, 27 March 2019 12:31 pm
Alan alcoholic.

Thanks to those who have shared here as we worked this month on step three.

Taking responsibility for my recovery I find that remaining focussed is important. This means dealing with my own recovery first and foremost in order to be able to help others. It turns out that there's enough cleaning to do on my part of the street rather than looking at what others are or aren't doing.

David Sunday, 24 March 2019 2:00 pm
thanks for everyone's shares, one thing that helps combat my perfectionistic ego based thinking, is a higher powers grace, a old saying I've heard lots of times, but for the grace of God there go I, today i don't have to be perfect anymore, i dont have to have all the answers either, and most of all I don't know it all, a sense of accomplishment is just taking it easy and not treating myself like total shit, over the days and years of my sobriety is the fact that more will be revealed, as the onion keeps getting pilled back, layer by layer of beliving suddle lies. To thine own self be true, discovering, discarding false beliefs, delusions, and re-establishing my life on the truth, I'm not more than, and certainly not less than, but just equal to, balance and being grateful to what has happened so far in my recovery. I still remember getting a txt message from a friend in Kona Hawaii years ago, it read, "message from God I will be handling all your problems today and will not be needing your help."

Chad 20 03 2019 2:36 am (sent from my mobile)
Chad, alcoholic.  Thanks, Alan, I believe I'd be lost without Step 3, and new evidence of it working in my life is the resentment inventory I'm blessed with being able to share here.  I'm resentful at:  my abusers. The Cause--none of them has ever acknowledged the harms they did to me, leaving me to believe that I'm crazy, that I deserved it, that I asked for it, or all of the above.  Which is evil.  Affects my:  Self-esteem/fear, Ambition, Security, Personal relations, Sex relations.  My part/mistakes--Self-seeking--I imagine people should act perfectly as God, because my ego/disease saysI'm God, and evidence that we're sick and imperfect reminds me or it that I'm a sick human being like every other one.  Dishonest--I haven't looked at the limited apologies I've gotten for the gifts that they are, gifts from the God of my understanding, because they show both some acknowledgment of wrongdoing and that inability to see the whole truth that I get from blackouts (I still can't remember a lot of what happened in my active alcoholism).  +?  Frightened--I fear the gifts of honesty and humility plus other progress that I need and may need to pass on to others; and I fear accepting that all people are sick, and what that might say about God, evil, +?.  And I fear accepting the help of my God/Higher Power at the level of intimate personal relationships.  How I Retaliated (Grateful my friend Tom A, 50+ years sober!, suggested this 5th column):  Withholding, sarcasm, negativity, people-pleasing, being controlling, +? in relationships.  Thanks! 

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