Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Beyond Mental Control

Mind over matter. In answers.yahoo.com, an explanation of the meaning given by Sadeae is:

It has to do with will power. You must have will power to overcome obstacles. For example, you can choose to quit smoking rather than continuing to smoke...you can experience an enormous amount of pain and not succomb to the pain......you can loose weight if you decide that is what you want to do.

If you have the will power, you can succeed at anything you "put your mind to". This is the essence of what "mind over matter" means.

Sure. So I've been told. I've never started smoking, so I never had to try to stop. As to enormous amounts of pain, does that mean physical? Psychic? Emotional? Not sure I'm qualified to respond there. But as to loss of weight, I've got more than fifty years' history proving mind over matter as described here doesn't work. For me. For others I've come to know and love in OA. I've heard it. I've believed it. I've tried - HARD - to live it. I haven't managed. It's caused the psychic pain in my life, the emotional havoc. It's made me feel like a miserable failure. But I'm not. I wasn't when I believed it, I'm not now that I don't believe it. I've got a defect that causes a craving, one just like Dr. Silkwood described:

I do not hold with those who believe that alcoholism is entirely a problem of mental control. I have had many men who had, for example, worked a period of months on some problem or business deal which was to be settled on a certain date, favorably to them. They took a drink a day or so prior to the date, and then the phenomenon of craving at once became paramount to all other interests so that the important appointment was not met. These men were not drinking to escape; they were drinking to overcome a craving beyond their mental control. (Alcoholics Anonymous, pp xxix, xxx)

Look at those words. Craving. Phenomenon. Paramount. Beyond their mental control. How hopeless! Phenomenon means can't be understood. Craving is feeling a powerful desire FOR something. Not just an emptiness, not just discontent, restlessness, but the savage need to get the substance, for me, the food, the sugar, the pastry, the ice cream. Paramount. NOTHING can be of more importance. Mind over matter? I think not. I can't think of anything else of my own, by my will power. I'm helpless, hopeless, a failure. My mind can't overcome the matter. No matter what.

I'm powerless over food. My life has become unmanageable. 

But there is a Higher Power who is able to restore me to sanity, to relieve me of the insane cravings, the pain, the phenomenal NEED. And when I let him, he does. Again and again, continually, forever. And besides that, he throws in more than a TV salesman in an informercial could promise or even intimate. And his promises are real and happen. Thank God!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Willingness = Courage

I groggily said the serenity prayer in my head as I tried to motivate me out of bed this morning, and the words kept getting tangled. I knew "willingness" wasn't in there, but I kept trying to shove it in. Sitting here, reading "The Doctor's Opinion" then saying it right, I realize I wasn't wrong in the first place. Yes, we need serenity to accept what we can't change, wisdom to know what that is, but for the rest, the part we can change, we need courage, and for me right now that means willingness. Maybe always it means willingness, but I know for certain today it does. And that's all that matters. Today. Having the willingness to be courageous enough to avoid the chemicals that for me produce "the effect... so illusive that, while they admit it is injurious, they cannot after a time differentiate the true from the false." (Alcoholics Anonymous, page xxviii) 

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Listening to me

You know, "they" all say you get more out of sponsoring often than the person being sponsored. It's true, of course. And sometimes the reason it's good is that you listen to what comes out of your own mouth, or from your fingers on the keyboard. Recently in talking to a woman I sponsor, I said several things that catch my own attention. I include basically my part of the conversation, hers where necessary for context:

She: but my insides are a mess
Me: Okay, so stand aside and allow them to be fixed. This is the one time it's okay to be helpless. When you're yielding to somebody who really CAN control your life better than you.It's none of your business what anybody, including family, thinks of you. It's none of your business what you weigh. It's none of your business how fast you run. It's out of your hands. You're there to take orders, to do the next right thing.
She: how do i know what the order is?
 me: the order of the next right thing?
"Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10)
 She: so take a second between stimulus and response and shut up
 me: yep
(In responding to a question about what her character defects might be, I answered from seeing in her what I see in me:) me: It's self-loathing. It's excusing mistakes by thinking they're your nature. Hiding your head in the sand.
"courage to change the things i can"...tough part
to grow up and be the grownup in charge instead of the child who can't
fill in any blank after the can't.
the person you get most irritated by has the character defects you hold onto hardest.
Understanding is part of the cure.
I'm getting to see more and more what in xxxx is like me. And it's scary, but when you can see it, you can see the way out.
She: ok. i am very similar to my mother.
Me: yep
Me: And it's natural. But you're also a very creative person who has the ability to see it and grow out of it, not to do what she did which you can see very well doesn't work.
Forgive your mother. And forgive yourself.
love your mother. and love yourself

My sponsor told me before I work with somebody to say the 3rd step prayer. That night it was working. It was what she needed to hear, I think. But I absolutely KNOW it was what I needed to hear, to affirm, to accept as the truth for me.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A funny

I'm working with Ed H. on his book to be published by Eagle Wings PressSurvived to Love, helping with some editing issues. Ed's a long-time sober alcoholic, a survivor of Hurricane Katrina as well as of cancer of the larynx. We were chatting earlier this week, and I told him I'd eaten crow about a mistake I made. I thought I'd share his refreshing response:
Ah yes, eating crow. I do so much less of that these days. I carry my speaking device in my pocket. By the time I dig it out what I was going to say is always edited and goes from what I would have said to what I should say. I mention this at meetings when discussing the 10th step especially. Very few apologies needed with that built-in ten to fifteen seconds. Another blessing in disguise from not being able to talk. 
My glass has been full today without having to look at it halfway full and deciding to see it that way. It's been a good day, thank God!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


The Foreword to the 2nd edition of the Big Book says,
Since the original Foreword to this book was written in 1939, a wholesale miracle has taken place.... Many of our friends encourage us by saying that this is but a beginning, only the augury of a much larger future ahead.
I'm well aware the subject is the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. Yet, it spoke to me as to my own recovery, a metaphor. I've got recovery. I've had a wholesale miracle in my life. But I sit here, convinced there's more recovery available, there's more peace, more serenity, more freedom from fear, more... recovery. I want it. I claim it. It's mine. The peace I have from this passage is an augury of a larger future, a larger recovery, a larger life ahead.

I asked God today to teach me to pray. What came to mind are the words of a time-tested hymn, "Jesus Is All the World to Me." It says when he couldn't get his music published, Will Lamartine Thompson (1847-1909) started his own publishing company. That resonates with me as do his words, my words, my augury.