May 22nd 2006

copyright© don oddy

~ dealing with our light and dark ~

As is my inclination, I wrote my daily reflections in the early hours before a wash and bush up and going out for my daily meeting of my fellowship. I must confess, nearly a daily meeting. Some weeks I donít get there every day, just most days.

Sunday at 9-00 is a meeting where I have said before, it can be like breakfast and sanctimony, we take on a spiritual feel, itís a Sunday and we look at our lighter living and our darker qualities. Fellowship meetings are about our experience, strength and hopes for our daily lives and how to live them. How too meet reality with a fair go, without our need to mediate the real with some form of self medication. Self medication is easy, its called denial and humans do this all day long about almost anything and especially everything we find mildly or completely disagreeable. In our fellowship we are used to finding denial not only through self delusion, but an addictive nature to oblivion through alcohol, which takes us completely from reality and makes ourselves unmanageable and pretty much bonkers.

Our meeting today was a full one, forty or fifty people and for me I enjoyed conversation with two people I have never met or they either, three different people completely new to each other and talking and able to chat about the common ground, of experience strength and hope, a very intense and personal conversation you would not get with complete strangers you might meet on the street. Just like that in moments and in its way, unthinkable in any other arena without hesitation or planning. A level of honesty never available in society without people thinking us strange or gushing or quite frankly bonkers for being so open and honest. How very appealing it is and ordinary to us with enough mileage on our living to know honesty is so liberating.

The benefit of such open behaviour and the knowledge that we can share and not be hurt, it is liberating to an extent we need not worry or feel vulnerable and actually turn fear to strength. itís the intimate conversation shared between equals and although we are nowhere near perfect we understand our rules and honour our commitments to truth and integrity, knowing our darker qualities of judgment are in us too.

And so to the light and the dark of this meeting. We were able to vote for discussion of these dark sides to personality. The dark all humans have, where our judgment can flare and be harsh and angry with anyone and everyone we encounter.

Great and similar examples of our behaviour in being annoyed and angry at others, neighbours and what they do, partners and what they wind us up doing. Our capacity to be judgmental is as great as it ever was.

Now in our fellowship these emotional states we can assume with alarming ease were always good causes to get into a state of denial or anger, to lead us to self harm and outbursts causing breakdowns in every respect. Our fellowship is used to understand these reactions to reality, and in its early days suggested these reactions to life were caused by defects of character. The defects focus on the identifiable negative qualities we humans have. Ego, pride, anger, venom, envy, sloth, jealousy, you name it, the green eyed monsters which makes heavy and antagonised by our situations.

And long ago we realised that these defects, or defaults to negative are indeed parts of us that take us away from harmony and donít ever lead to equal outcomes and understandings as behind that is resentment and seething states of disaffection with ourselves and others. What turns us to all this is simply what others do to us or what we perceive as unjust and unfair behaviour, our living situation in general, anything in fact.

What we feel is defective here is our outlook, for it means we are denying the reality of what is and our acceptance of imperfection is negligible. Especially what winds us up is seeing these things in others and the anger often is our reaction to knowing we can be exactly the same. Our defects are profound when we see in others our own capacity for dark. And we need to be forgiving of others when we would rather strangle them most often.

So while a lot of the defects are apparent, I am always struck if we did not have them, then how would we know we feel out of sorts, or what is troubling us. Without our reaction to the negatives we experience, how can we develop our lighter outlook. Indeed defects for me feel very necessary as I am truly learning who I am.

One of my horrid realisations in sobriety has been my compliance with life and others needs and wants. The compromise being simply, never really asserting my own views or my own understanding of who I am and what I want from my one and only life. Somewhere, I had lost the ability where I felt able to express my true nature, Iíd give in to others and their needs and wants and in doing so find acceptance of me by others. Now life is surely a bit of both, but I see compliance made me able to find love, and intimacy from sources who used me rather than valued me for my true being.

This surely is a defect in as much as I never quite felt I belonged or was valued, and modified my behaviour to accommodate others and their needs and wants over mine. Yet now in compliance with my needs and wants I can take account of others in equal amounts rather than push my needs to the back of the queue.

Realising this notion of defects of character, has made me realise they will never be lost, for we will be wound up by others and their imperfect outlook as we will too, our imperfect perfect world. It is our lot to negotiate and compromise within certain codes and be tolerant of others in their needs and wants. I think that is democratic and as frustrating as can be, but its life and its reality.

We are learning as everyone else might have as we never quite did, that we need our balance of light and dark. Dark makes the wavelength between good and bad, the more we recognise both states the more we respond to our part in all that we encounter, rather than react with devastating results in self harm and harming others by our neglect at the very least.

Defects, well I know we need every feeling we have. When we feel out of sorts at what we are doing and when we feel that others are fucking us up, we need our dark and we need our light, to make sense what to do, not as reaction, more as response.

Self esteem comes from self knowledge, and knowing our chances to light or the dark, well the defect is reaction, not necessarily the emotion, for emotions inform us of whatís going on. When feel our anger and we feel our pride, when we feel light, then others donít value us, we are put down and experience every dark quality of the human psyche, we need time to reflect. We can work out what is best, to challenge or withdraw, examine our part in things, and when necessary head for the door! Is moving from reaction to response and responses stand a better chance provided we have time and the situation is not life threatening, we need reaction to danger.

We are human at this meeting and we laugh at ourselves, we know how imperfect we can be with anyone and anything, and we know the difference to lighter ways forward. Then we make choices, which help us see whether we have accomplished the best that we can. Or whether we fucked up , and need make amends.

And this is part of the answer, when we realise, we are the cause, we need to put things right. If we can then we do, if we are unsure what to do, we have our fellowship to help us sort things through.

Its quite a relief to know just how human we all are, and that in any meeting we get to every experience we might make, its been done before and been redeemed before. We find acceptance in our humanity, in reality, a day at a time. We donít let things build up and we deconstruct big things which donít help us in our mind.

The defects then this morning as many laughed aloud were common to all and all of mankind. We are a bunch of winners and losers, winning a way forward when we realise our true state so imperfect its perfect, and we get on with our day.

As for things that we do, some in our fellowship were returning from being back out there again. And what we mean by back out there is having a drink, and most likely it took some time to get back to our fellowship, for in our world one is never enough, and keeps us going on and on till we get another moment of clarity before we check out for good. As I mentioned checking out for good happens all too often.

If you saw us in meetings you wonder most often what is so funny and tragic and how do we get on? There is no fellow who looks like another, from gutter to boardroom, from profession to manual labour, from male to female, and every orientation you can think of, we are all as different as humanity. Our similarity is one, we all human imperfect and perfect. Learning life whatever age we might be.

My fellowship and others like it, fill a gap and help me make sense of life. And without doubt in a restoration to sanity comes a spiritual understanding and philosophy which enables an outlook beyond any of my wildest dreams. There was promise made that this was a possibility. Odd I never gave it much thought until now, a couple years on, the difference from wreckage beyond repair, to salvaged and living a day at a time to the best of my ability is truly remarkable and might be considered miraculous. For me it is, and that will do me, smiles and acceptance of being an ordinary human Ö today!

Copyright © Don Oddy

light & dark