Sunday, May 31, 2009


I read for the first time this morning Kahlil Gibran's addressing the issue "On Crime and Punishment." The phrase that grabbed me and sent me to find the rest was "And how shall you punish those whose remorse is already greater than their misdeeds?" It's a powerful piece of writing, one that makes me think from the perspective of the criminal justice system, but even more as a recovering compulsive overeater. It really doesn't matter whether we're thinking about the wrong people did us or the wrong we've done others. It says we're all equaled, all "sinners" and all "saints" or at least we're as high as the highest among us. Fascinating.
The perspective I see right now in reading this, the reason this draft has been sitting open on my computer for a while, is in looking at those who make my life uncomfortable. Through program I've come to see their behavior as the same as mine when I was struggling to like myself. The blame placed on me by the other is not my blame to adopt, as I was so quick to do for so many years. It's his or her own, and no matter what I do, I can't take away that blame, can't relieve him of it. Nor can I punish him for dumping it on me, for that only serves to give him another focus, to make his self-reproach something he can hide from himself in his anger at me.
I feel sorry for him, for I'm no longer playing the game, and I see his hurt, his misery. His remorse greater than his misdeeds -- and far greater than any punishment I could mete out.
God help us all.  

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Strength or Power

It struck me today, trying to figure out what that last phrase of the 7th step prayer is and going back to look at it, that there's a significant change in shift between the 3rd step prayer and the 7th. I've been making a mistake in the 7th step prayer, praying for power. That's a REAL mistake. Now that I've spent the morning, or at least bits and pieces of it, thinking about power and strength, I realize they're far from the synonyms I would have told you they are. In fact, in program at least, they're polar opposites.

Power. We had power, or at least longed for power, when we were in the morass of disease and distress. I have an old disk (a reference disk for Microsoft Office Professional, (c) 1983-1996) that is a valuable possession of mine for the Microsoft Bookshelf '95 on it. I've sat here for a while reading all the quotations filed under "Power." Then I went to "Strength" and found the quotations for that -- or, rather, the lack of any quotations on strength. But the ones on power are as fascinating as the lack of quotations on strength. Among them:
  • "A friend in power is a friend lost." (Henry B. Adams)
  • "It is a strange desire, to seek power, and to lose liberty; or to seek power over others, and to lose power over a man's self. (Francis Bacon)
  • "Those in possession of absolute power can not only prophesy and make their prophecies come true, but they can also lie and make their lies come true." (Eric Hoffer)
  • "To get power over is to defile. To possess is to defile." (Simone Weil)
  • "Power? It's like a Dead Sea fruit. When you achieve it, there is nothing there." (Harold Macmillan)
But then there's:
  • "The purpose of getting power is to be able to give it away." (Aneurin Bevan)
  • "I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power the greater it will be." (Thomas Jefferson)
In recovery, power is a god attribute, God being described as our Higher Power as we understand him. We do use power in the 3rd step prayer, but it's not our attribute, but God's: "Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of Life." In fact, what we're asking for in the 3rd step prayer is surrender of our power. "I offer." "Relieve me." "Take away." The only affirmative request is, "May I do Thy will always!"

Then to the 7th step prayer, after walking the path through 4, 5, and 6 -- a path that can at times feel like a gauntlet -- through the triumphal arch. "I am now willing." and "Grant me strength... to do Your bidding." It's not "grant me power."

Strength is defined as "the power to resist attack; impregnability," "the power to resist strain or stress; durability" and as "a source of power or force." Power, on the other hand, is defined as "strength or force exerted or capable of being exerted; might."

Like many similar words in English, one (power) comes through the Roman/French influence, "to be able." Strength came through the old English, celtic influence.

I guess I finally arrive at the conclusion that having power is okay, but seeking it is not. And having power, without seeking it, we're in the position Jefferson envisioned and Benjamin Disraeli described: "Power has only one duty -- to secure the social welfare of the People."

Friday, May 22, 2009


First, I had promised to lead my readers here on the blog know when I mastered the intricacies of uploading Slender Steps to Sanity as a Kindle book. I did. (I hope.) Since I'm writing here about ego, I'll say it was both a boost to the ego in finally figuring it out (with a little help from a computer guru I raised) and a reality-check in the work it took to get my stuff up and out there. And it led to a touch of humiliation and a healthy serving of humility when I found that the mention in the text book of "seremity" left me anything but serene. Sigh. Anyway, the Kindle book is now available.

While I was pulling my hair out trying to figure out how to send Amazon the encoded book I'd labored over, making the code look right and reflect the line breaks, etc., in the book, I had three chat boxes going at once. One was with a business partner getting account numbers and details I needed to set up the Kindle account, another was with my computer guru son, or more specifically with his wife until she got him to type for a while in her place, and the third with a "sponsored." (It's been a while since I said here I hate the word sponsoree.) Here's part of that conversation:
Sponsoree: I just sent that email back to you
  (and to me)
8:39 PM me: okay. one minute.

9 minutes
8:48 PM Sponsoree: my biggest revelation is that all my resentments stem from one thing - I feel entitled to be the center of the friggin' universe
8:49 PM me: Yeah. Wait a minute. Grinning. But not kidding much. ;)
8:51 PM Sponsoree: i'm still here for a bit. i'm going to read a few pages until  hubby turns the light out.

7 minutes
8:58 PM Sponsoree: ok. back
9:01 PM me: Okay. I got my fire put out too.

As I look at this, obviously I wasn't very honest. My one minute the first time took nine, the second time that same minute came up, it meant seven. And she and I were both busy being the "center of the friggin' universe" at the moment.

I talked yesterday with my therapist. She pulled out some facts in my life -- honors and achievements -- I hadn't talked to her about, and she tried to make me realize how special they are. No, I hadn't told her about them, for I'd been working with her to get to the core issues, and I didn't see the need to try to impress her. But I do understand how special they are, and when I'm insecure I find ways to work those kinds of facts into my conversation. Last night I was in a crowd of people (about 40) I didn't know. Well, one I've known for twenty years or so, and another I've been married to for several decades, but most of them I was meeting. And I don't remember names well and don't easily blend into an established group of people. When I dropped my most obvious impressive credential, though, the answer was, "We know." Well, yeah. It's kind of obvious, and the kind of thing people would know even just talking about him, as "his wife is...." But something about me needed to say it, needed to establish a foothold of credibility. Standing on my own two feet wasn't enough. 

It is with you, my OA family. I'm me. I'm on the same pedestal you're on -- well, at least the same podium. Pedestals are too lonely; podiums are raised and can be shared. I like that. I used to live in a tri-tiered universe. I was on a lonely pedestal with nobody near. Above me were those I hero-worshiped. Below me were the rest of the masses. Sometimes the populace above was multitudinous; sometimes that below. But my pedestal stayed lonely. Then I came home. I don't have to be the center of the universe, nor do I have to stand alone no matter what level. We're all equal, we're all God's kids, and we're all worthy, without having to impress anybody. We're loved.

Thank you for loving me.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


Wow. That's absolutely the way I feel. My Slender Steps to Sanity is here, but I strongly feel it's not my book. Maybe "ours" meaning belonging to the whole fellowship, maybe God's. But its not mine.

I will be buying a number of copies at my author's discount and sending them to individuals I know in OA and to individuals connected with groups and intergroups I haven't met. I'd appreciate your help in doing this. I'm sending them as a gift. If you want to make some of them your gift as well, there's a link to the right where you can contribute to the printing and postage costs. If you know of OA's who should receive them,  you may email me their physical address. Thanks for being there, for giving me the message so I can carry it to others in this way and more. I'm so totally blessed. I love you all.