My Spirit

By Dee H

My Higher Power is not myself I’m thankful I don’t need to be right Today I put my ego on the shelf Meditation reverses my search lights I’m glad there’s nothing I must tell My Higher Power is mine alone But we often share our Love Love sets the tone of any gathering Never a need to push nor shove Kindness is a skill worth mastering My Love knows me very well Wants what is best for me Hate and fear It does quell True desires are always fulfilled This is a truth I need not sell I found my Love by making a list After meditation and prayer I wrote The gist of things I value most Freedom and positivity made a pact Spirituality is a natural creative act Try this too when you are alone We can be together in spirit I hope to see you somewhere soon If you feel generous I’d like to hear it That list possessed by your own Spirit

Love Empathy and Compassion

No Criticism or Character Assassination By Rick R.

Hanging on to resentments and criticizing the behavior of others is often a noticeable characteristic of some members of the Program that never find the serenity and peace that is mentioned in the promises. For some people it seems impossible to let their guard down. I think that most of us can understand this, simply because we have all had to face this issue and deal with it as we went through the Twelve Step process. One of the things that I learned when I was faced with this matter was that I had a self-esteem issue and I overcorrected by pointing out the faults of others, to somehow make myself seem normal. This never worked for me as I could not fool my conscience. Things only got worse. I still worked through the Steps and did what I could at the time. No one gets it perfect the first time, but we can make a second effort at it when we have established a record of living by principles. Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are a training ground for how we treat others and if we cannot accept the people there, it is a cinch we will not do it outside of the rooms. Everyone that comes to A.A. brings with them their own assortment of mental, emotional, spiritual and material problems, and none of us are without these concerns. If we did not have them, we would not need this Program. We all feel vulnerable and establish our own firewalls, with the help of our egos, to protect ourselves from our perception of what those other people are doing, saying and thinking. We each might establish hard and fast protective reactions, mentally and verbally to protect our own turf. With so many different personalities brought together in one group, it is extremely hard to let down our guards. We all feel justified when pointing out the faults of others. This is what the alcoholic personality does. With the understanding that most forms of criticism and character assassination stem from low self esteem, it occurred to me that I was just as guilty of the very things that I was accusing them of. I likened it to two old men in a convalescent home hitting each other with their canes because one was not walking fast enough for the other. I had to step up to the plate and become strong enough to look deeper into their motives and understand what caused them to behave the way they did, and not be threatened by their outside behavior. I cannot express in words the mental freedom that this principle has produced in me. When I see someone acting out, my first thought is not judgmental in nature but of empathy and compassion. My next thought is” what I can do to help him or her.” In time, I have come to terms with all the people that I interact with on a day-to-day basis and I conflict with no one. To me, they are all like kids just learning how to do life. They all have problems and I am not going to be one of their problems. I need to be strong enough to replace words like resentment, judgment and criticism with empathy, understanding and compassion. Today I have no adversaries that I can think of, and peace of mind is the natural result of this approach. I find no exceptions to this principle and I cannot be selective about who I apply it to. Everyone gets amnesty in my book. All those mental gymnastics about “those other people” are a distant memory and I cannot think of a single time that practicing this principle did not serve me well. The only one that is sorry for this profound and life changing transition is my ego, but about that, who am I to criticize?

The Eyes Have It

By Christine R.

“Christine, you need eyes for your 9th Step. You need someone to receive your 9th Step amends on behalf of your dead father. Before you go to his tombstone in Reno, make your amends to me.” Thus spoke my sponsor who provided a baseline by which to make amends to those who have departed, as well as opportunities to receive amends from sponsees whose loved ones are dead. My drinking career began when my father died unexpectedly and I was 15. Unable to handle the grief, I poured myself into a scotch bottle. Some 15 years later, I came pouring back out again. Only this time, the liquid was my tears. Fifteen years of bottled-up grief turned a wounded teenager into a screaming, raging drunk. Finally, under the guidance of strong sponsorship, I stood at the crest of my drinking history— the memory and hurt of a love lost long ago, my father. With papers ready and in a complete downpour, my sponsor and I scampered out to a little gazebo at a park we often frequented. The heavens opened up with rain. Water was everywhere outside and inside. Tears were spreading down my sponsor’s cheeks hearing the heart-felt shame, regret, love and forgiveness from that 9th Step. Her tears mingled with mine and were washed away by the rain. Through her eyes, I could feel my father’s eyes. I knew dad heard me. They say, “Water seeks its own level.” Quite true in sponsorship as countless women enter my life whose parent died early or unexpectedly. We share the pattern of unrequited love. The unfinished business. The “if onlys.” At the deepest of levels, I know these women and they know me. One woman hated her father so much she did not even have a photo of the guy, so great was her wound. (Thankfully, the 9th Step is a far piece away from the 1st!) By dint of working Steps 1-8, she came to a point of willingness to discover a well-worn, black and white photo of her with her father at a fiesta in Mexico—even the edges were still gilt with tiny specs of salt from the margaritas! Using her cell phone, she took a picture of the picture. With the phone camera on, the fragile, tattered, black and white photo became part of her 9th Step. The one she was about to give to me. This time I was the dad. Like my sponsor before me, I turned into her father. Like wires in an electric cable, I became the conduit between the living and the dead. After we finished, she printed up her dad’s photo. Now he adorns her altar. Now he has a place in her heart where before there was only turmoil. She has appreciation for her father and feels the “all around forgiveness” promised in our Program. There is one in our Fellowship who says, “You don’t want to go to your deathbed knowing you could have done something, and you didn’t. The 9th Step is your way out.”  Through the lens of that kind of consciousness, we can truly see what needs handling right away and what does not. This is why, if our parents are still alive and we have not done our 9th Step, now is the time to get going. Saying the amends to a tombstone is nothing like saying them in person. Up close and personal, you can read in the other person’s eyes you really mean what you say. You are following through to amend your ways. They see what you see—the mend-making is more than an apology—you are creating a new beginning. However, if the beloved is deceased, find a safe person to receive your amends. Read in their eyes what they read in yours. Only forgiveness and love and eye see you.

Upon Awakening XI

By John W

The business man had successfully remained anonymous City meetings avoided, in his small hamlet, few knew him. He came and went with ease, OK with the occasional familiar face. In passing weeks he learned some names, he even shared his. He still was anonymous, yet he no longer felt anonymous. Ninety and Ninety had passed with help from his “guy,” He continued to “walk the walk,” the “talk” part came slower. The wedding reception challenge, survived with spousal support. So why must he leave his “cocoon”? Could not this trip wait ?? Alone, five days, client dinners, no home group – FEAR! The skid-row meeting that hot, summer afternoon – happenstance. Calmness upon arrival, that true sense of belonging – Unexpected gifts.  

Subtext to Modernity

By Paula M

Subtext

Bill and Bob introduced an awareness of body-mind connection insofar as the phenomenon of craving and the mental obsession.  In the 83 years since the Big Book’s first publication, in a time typified by vast scientific achievement, little headway has been made in the quest to understand the disease of alcoholism. The founders uncovered the taboos of alcoholism, delineated its expression and provided a design for living for the recovered alcoholic.  On the heels of the Great Depression and in precursor to World War II, the founders, guided by faith and physics, envisioned the creation of a worldwide fellowship of recovered alcoholics.  As dawn rose in the field of atomic energy resources and weaponry and as Europe unraveled into chaos, the founders of our Program set forth their collective efforts to save humanity, starting with alcoholics with the desire not to drink.   All the work they did was in preparation for this moment in time, would you believe?  As we stand at the precipice of nuclear war and thick in credence divides, our worldwide fellowship is obliged to stand. For what is the benefit of a new life, gifted to us through this Program if life is extinguished all together?      

Reflection

When a baby first looks in a mirror he becomes happy and excited to perhaps meet a new playmate. There comes a point where he understands that his reflection is him yet not himself.   At this point a gradual transformation in a blend of his subconscious and consciousness forms  his belief that he can exist outside of his body and furthermore is in control of his body. With or without an actual mirror in hand, we see ourselves in third-party fashion.  For the alcoholic, the allergy of the body- the phenomenon of craving triggers expression due to a prior selection of false presumptions and selecting non-choices. In other words, before the active alcoholic is in the physical presence of liquor, he/she doesn’t have the ability to not drink.  Drinking was a non-choice many steps back and furthermore, the ‘he’ who exists outside the body, the self who stands as third party, has the disease of perception. Alcoholism is defined through a pattern of thinking. Whatever image an alcoholic does or does not want to portray in the present time, the obsessive thoughts which drive one to the act of taking a drink sets crave in motion.  The phenomenon of craving preempts reflection, thoughts, feelings and emotions as outlined in ‘Modernity.’ The automatic, immediate and direct link from basic instincts gone awry to mental obsession is another abnormality beyond the phenomenon of craving. As if a refined, ubiquitous spade, the spiritual awakening delves back into the unconscious/conscious and restructures the mental form of existence. A true spiritual awakening begins on our outer physical core and bypasses the web of choices and options.  When the compulsion to drink has been lifted, it is as if the detrimental thoughts, emotions and mind pattern have been surgically removed and the alcoholic is recovered Just as the disease embodies a direct, forged path from character defection to the consumption of alcohol, a spiritual awakening exploits this direct path, taking it in a spherically reverse direction. This deconstruction explains why alcoholics are so grateful to be alcoholics, for they may never find a path from physical action to intuition without the forged path already in place.  Just as Gollum (Lord of the Rings) played a part in the salvation of all, the deformation of our perception allows a fast track to connect with a source of power intent on our well-being.       

Hypocrisy

Hypocrisy must be viewed as a series of binary choices rather than an end-state of existence.  

The deconstruction of juxtaposed thought, emotion and feeling are backed into, going in the reverse direction of the path the disease forged. 

Hypocrisy does not necessarily have as urgent a need for removal as does the antics of an active alcoholic.  In other words, the lack of perceived desperation may prevent one from having the humility required to change. 

Swim From Alcatraz 

By Jessica M

There is an annual event where people swim from Alcatraz to San Francisco. It is the swim the Anglin Brothers and Frank Lee Morris made in their escape from Alcatraz on the night of June 12, 1962. A friend of mine did the swim and he told me his story about participating in it. What stood out the most to me was that he said the organizers tell the swimmers to head towards Coit Tower to account for the current in the bay. If they aim that way the current will help them get to where they need to land for the end of the event.  As I continue the work to stay sober, I get still get caught up in the spiritual component: The God word, Higher Power, God’s will and the next right action. I have found surprising comfort in my friend’s story about swimming from Alcatraz.  At the risk of sounding dramatic, I am trying to escape the prison of my own mind and my own island of isolation that I see as the manifestation of the disease of alcoholism. Coit Tower is what I am aiming for, sometimes it is thinking of others, sometimes it is God’s will, sometimes it is my greatest hope for myself or at least the better parts of myself.  I don’t actually have to reach it. I just have to continuously align myself with it.  The current is everything else. It is the things I cannot control, it is my self-interest, humanness, my limited subjectivity. I try not to judge the current as something good or bad as much as I can. I do my best to see it as natural and a neutral part of the reality I am in. I don’t have to fight the current. I don’t expect it to be anything other than a part of the experience. The current is not going to go away, it is not personal, but I do have to account for it in the things I do.  I don’t have to wish the current or myself or the world was another way than the way it is, but I do have to accept what is there and work with it all the best way that I can. This way I can get to where I need to be.   

Point Honors | November 2022

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