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Showing posts from July, 2012

Tao Wisdom

Therefore the Master
acts without doing anything
and teaches without saying anything.
Things arise and she lets them come;
things disappear and she lets them go.
She has but doesn't possess,
acts but doesn't expect.
When her work is done, she forgets about it.
That is why it lasts forever.
-Tao Te Ching, passage 2

     Acting without doing anything means that we act with nothing attached to it. We act and do what's right just for the sake of doing it. We don't have ambition or selfish intention. We don't try too hard or push and force. We just act without carrying all sorts of baggage. We act unemotionally and unconditionally. And we don't act if we are affected.

     Teaching without saying anything means that we teach by example. All of that stuff we believe in and desperately want to preach to everybody, we don't. Instead, we live it. And quietly.

     Letting things come and letting things go is the practice of non-resistance and non-attachment. We don&#…

Recovering vs Recovered

Not sure why, but folks in AA look at me like I'm evil when I say I'm a recovered alcoholic. This is especially fascinating considering the title page of Alcoholics Anonymous clearly states, The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have RECOVERED From Alcoholism (caps used for emphasis - yes, pun intended).

     If we are "recovering" or "in recovery", then we have achieved physical sobriety but continue to struggle. We are restless, irritable and discontent. We still want to drink. We fight to stay sober and get through each day. Terms like dry drunk and white knuckling it are reserved for those who are merely recovering.

     Why does this sound harsh and why make a fuss about the distinction?

     Because being in recovery is not the solution that AA prescribes. AA makes no mention that its program in intended to leave an individual suffering, craving, fighting and utterly miserable. And what sucks is that people commonly think that any alco…

God Brass

If alcoholics and addicts have the capacity to be honest with themselves, they have the seed of God within. And because a seed that is nourished can grow forever, there is no limit to our spiritual growth. There is no limit to how much we can change and heal and thrive and give back. We must simply find the willingness to turn our inner seed into a fountain of strength.

     For willingness, we pray. Two of my favorites are 'God, make me a better man today' & 'God, bring the opportunity to help someone.' I have no idea if the first one ever comes true. But the second one always does. There are always people to help.

     I'd like to think that the seed of God is in all of us. Someone once likened this seed to a ball of brass. Perhaps it is dull, worn, small, and has lost its glow. Yet when we polish it and shed the layers of resentment, fear, selfishness and dishonesty, gradually it becomes brighter and brighter. It begins to glow once again. It beg…

Sex Inventory

(Also see Resentment,Resentment Inventory,Resentment Inventory Example &Fear Inventory.)

Sex inventory...
The instructions are: a) write who I’ve hurt, b) write who ELSE I’ve hurt, c) write what happened, and d) write what I should have done instead.
Here’s an example:
1st Column - Who? College girl 2nd Column - Who else? Her husband 3rd Column - What happened? Slept with her knowing she was married, and pretended I cared about her. 4th Column - What should I have done instead? Left her alone. At the very least I should have masturbated rather than destroy someone’s marriage.
As a conscienceless addict, I filled my emptiness by manipulating women and using them for sex. I used a foreign girl in college fully aware that she was married. I used my gifts to manipulate her, taking her into piano rooms on campus and playing Chopin while I stared into her eyes. From piano recitals to piano room seductions… this is what I became. I acted like I cared about women just to have sex with th…

Projection

When we engage in projection, we are in a state of delusion. Projection is when we transfer or "project" our own defects onto someone else. We accuse others of the very qualities, behaviors and attitudes that we own ourselves. So when I'm screaming at someone, or judging them, or calling them names, or ripping them apart from every angle, I should be screaming in a mirror because I'm really just talking about myself. I tend to think that when we lash out angrily at others, most of what we say is projection. Addicts, narcissists and crazy people who are incapable of assuming any responsibility for their words, thoughts and actions engage in pathological projection. I suppose it's a defense mechanism born of too much pride, shame, self-hatred and immaturity.

     We who project are like children who never grew up. We become ever more damaged and now live in a deluded world of our own, broken from reality and shattered to the core. I know a few crazies like thi…

God Proof

In the 2nd Step, we are asked to believe in a power outside of ourselves, one that is capable of fixing us - GOD. Boy, what a loaded word that is. But God is just a three-letter word meant to convey an idea, like any other word. The problem is when we mention God, all sorts of man-made concepts and belief systems invade our consciousness, not to mention traumatic personal experiences with religious fundamentalism, religiously justified domestic abuse, or even (gulp) ethnic cleansing. But codes, creeds, rituals, churches, pipe organs, Sunday school, and a big throne with a bearded man sitting there with his rod and staff are all just man-made social constructs.

     Who are we to know what God is and what he looks like? And why is God in a building on Sunday morning but not outside in the woods on Monday afternoon?

     And then there's atheism. Some of us think that if you can't see, hear or touch something, then it doesn't exist. Some think you cannot prove the exist…

Blind Faith

Image
Blind faith is the key to getting better.

     Alcoholics and addicts are stubborn, obstinate, and tend to worship their own minds/intellect. We think we can get ourselves better if and when we choose, which is a fallacy. And no matter how smart we think we are, our minds have instead become narrow, limited and ignorant. We demand to see results. We demand to know exactly what it is that will fix us. We want to see it to believe it... but that may be the one thing standing in the way of getting better.

     Until I read my inventory (5th Step) and recited the 7th Step prayer, I had no idea if any of it would actually work. At times, it was difficult to embark on this mountain of work without knowing the end result. There was no guarantee I would have some profound psychic change. There was no guarantee I would recover. This is exactly why us addicts need to take a leap of faith... to break a lifelong pattern of never trusting in the unknown. We always have to know. We cling to o…

Anger

Anger is a lack of purpose...

     Some punk kid called me a prick the other day after wrecking one of our apartment doors, so I pretty much lost it. The best is that I didn't react at first, but upon further reflection, or rather lack thereof, I let him have it. I just couldn't let it go.

     Anger is a code word, like depression. Underneath depression is anger. Underneath anger is grief, and underneath grief is spiritual imbalance. Spiritual illness often results from a lack of purpose. If I'm on the wrong path, I am spiritually ill. If I'm on a path that doesn't serve anyone, I am spiritually ill. And if I have found the right path of service but stop serving for a while, I become spiritually ill.

     Conversely, when I am giving of myself, I don't get angry. When I am working with others, I don't get angry. When I am speaking, writing, meditating and praying, I don't get angry. When I am constantly taking actions that bring me closer to God, …

Recovery NOT A Function Of Time

Bottom line: The better I want to get, the more action I will take. The better I want to feel, the more action I will take.

     Recovery, or rather, mental and spiritual health, is NOT a function of time... it is a function of what actions we take and at what frequency we take them (consistency). I've known many people only six months into sobriety yet involved in a rigorous program of action who are far more sane, healthy, coherent, useful and at peace than a slew of untreated types I have met in AA who are sober for ten, twenty, even thirty years yet are still filled to the brim with resentment, depression, chaos, and who struggle as if it is, and must be, a fight to stay sober from one day to the next.

     But those who have taken Steps the way they are laid out in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous are people I would trust with my life. They take honesty and right action more seriously than anything else. They value and put their relationship with GOD above all else. …

Psychotherapy

Not to bash psychotherapy, but it's pretty useless for a drug addict.

     Most addicts, being pathological liars and manipulators, will simply get the therapist to tell them what they want to hear. Hearing that we had a rough childhood, that we were abused, that we have anger, depression and sadness is like music to our ears. All of that victim bullshit just allows us to justify our drinking and using. Then we can go home and scream at everyone that,

     No wonder we're on drugs you assholes! It's not our fault, it's our crazy families, or our abusive dads, or our alcoholic genes, or some disorder, or some life event!

     Bullshit. It's like,

     Hey, sorry I totalled the car Dad, but it wasn't me, it was the bipolar I have! OR Sorry I just called you a crazy bitch, Mom, but I can't help it because I have depression! OR Sorry I verbally abused you just to get out of the door to go buy more heroin from Pablo, sweetheart, but I just can't help it b…

Unfamiliar Territory

Why do addicts sabotage everything... over and over and over?

     Because being happy is such unfamiliar territory. They've gotten used to misery and drama and negativity. They've gotten used to destroying everything. They've become pain-dependent. Being happy and successful and fulfilled and at peace is far too strange a feeling for addicts. So when things start going our way, it's much easier to just tear the whole thing down.
     Sabotaging all the good things in our life is also a defense mechanism, oddly enough. If we're always screwed up and making a mess of things, no one will expect that much from us. It takes the pressure and the focus off. More importantly, it allows us to use the way we want to. It allows us enough moral relativity to just do whatever we want to. We can justify doing the stupidest shit in the world because we're 'just screwed up that way'. Great excuse, huh? So sabotage is a defense mechanism because it allows us to ke…

Families & Codependency

Families don't need to suffer...

     Families and spouses can become spiritually ill and go somewhat insane themselves, just as the addict. Let's face it, if you live with a crazy person, chances are you will go sort of crazy yourself. An addict’s negative energy permeates all who surround him. If and when the addict gets better, spouses and family members are suddenly slammed with the pile of crap inside of them that had built up and was perhaps ignored by necessity. They begin to suffer greatly and wonder why.

     Why do I feel more awful now that he or she has gotten well? I should feel better now... but I feel worse!

     Our addiction is their bridge to insanity. The addiction of another can become a necessary preoccupation from their own worsening mental sickness, anxiety or depression. In a strange, almost pain-dependent way, families remain in a comfort zone of their own by trying to control, fix, manipulate, instigate, antagonize… all things a healthy person wou…

Parents & Spouses Take Steps

Seven years ago, I got to escape to my cozy little treatment center to rest and recover, to nourish myself and feel better. I got to eat well, heal myself and focus on my spirit. I got to run away from the world all over again while my wife was left to deal with the bills, rent, insane phone calls from drug dealers... and a mountain of heartache. As my insanity washed away, her's sunk in. While she was preoccupied with my lunacy, a well of pain and resentment had built up inside her. She knew she had to do something, so she became willing, and then took Steps, just as I.

     What my wife did took untold courage. She could have said,

     "To hell with this, why do I have to get better? You’re the selfish piece of shit drug addict, and now I’m the one who has to change?! How fair is that? Screw it, I’m out of here!"

     But my wife knew she was hurting. And yes it’s my fault, but people in the addict’s life choose to respond in different ways. Someone else's add…

Self Will vs God's Will

When I get out of my own way, what fills the space is God's will...

     The only time something becomes impossible is when I become hell bent on getting it. I used to agonize over getting things. I had to have this, become that, change into this, look like that. The more I pushed, the farther away it all went. Trying to grasp too hard, I couldn't seem to actually get anything.

     I pushed and pushed to become a musician, and the more I pushed, the farther away the record deal got. I pushed and pushed to become an actor, and the more I pushed, the farther away the lead role got. I pushed and pushed to become a writer, and the more I pushed, the more the rejection letters came pouring in. I pushed and pushed to make money, and the more I pushed, the less money I made. I pushed and pushed to become enlightened, and the more I pushed, the more angry, frustrated and depressed I became.

     But when I finally let go of needing to achieve, I found peace. When I stop trying to for…

2nd Step

Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
     If I can take a 1st Step, then I can take a 2nd Step. Without knowing it, by taking a 1st Step, we've already taken a 2nd Step.

     I remember sitting in treatment and a fellow knucklehead was trying to convince me that I had no power. I went on one of my embarrassing rants, asserting that I had power... just let it get a little out of hand. That's when another guy stared me down and told me if I was still thinking that way, I just wasted my first three days.

     And then the 1st Step hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized that for all the things I could do, the one thing I couldn't was to control my addiction. Drugs and alcohol had me by the balls. That's probably why I was sitting in rehab wearing four flannel shirts in the middle of summer after stumbling into detox looking like a corpse.

     So I've just admitted that drugs and alcohol are more powerful than me…

Nothing & Nobody

When I came home from treatment, a friend of mine looked at me and said something like, "Man, I'm so proud of you! No wonder you got better... look at everything you have! You got sober for your wife and your family and all the stuff you have. Good job!"

     I thought to myself, Oh my God, this guy has no idea how sick I really am.

     He didn't understand that nothing we have can get us sober or keep us sober. Likewise, nothing anybody says to us can keep us from drinking or using. No relationship, job, or possession means shit to us when it comes to our addiction. Trust me, I didn't get sober because I was hurting my wife and mom. Sure, that would be a damn good reason. But the truth is that there is nothing on this earth that could actually get me to stop.

      When I did finally manage to stop after 15 years of chronic drug addiction, it was only because I was broke, couldn't get more money, could barely stand up, felt like I was dying, and to avo…

Sartre

Jean Paul Sartre: "Existence precedes essence".

     Whether we end up a hero or a drug addict, Sartre contends that we make ourselves into who or what we are. If we become a drug addicts, we have turned ourselves into drug addicts. There is no blaming our genes, or our parents, or our feelings, or our psychic pain from a past life. Likewise, if we become heroes, it is because we have turned ourselves into heroes.

     We are not born alcoholics or drug addicts. We turn ourselves into them. Sure, there is now scientific evidence of an alcoholic allele, responsible for a predisposition to substance dependency. But we never become useless, selfish alcoholics unless we actually start drinking over and over and over and over. The booze doesn't crawl its way up our bodies and pour itself down our throats. Neither do we become addicts because of our sadness, or our family tree, or the stress of our lives. We do it to ourselves and therefore we are solely responsible for t…

Once An Addict...

There is no such thing as making an addict into a non-addict, or making a non-recreational user into a recreational user again. There are programs out there that claim to do just that, but trust me, if you're a real addict, then your body is completely broken and you are physically screwed for the rest of your life. We will most certainly die some day with the body of an addict.

     At a meeting I used to run, guys would say to me that if doctors had some surgery or magic pill that would suddenly make me normal and able to use moderately again, I would take it. One guy yelled at me and called me a liar when I said I wouldn't even think of swallowing this magic pill. Why? Because what I have now, what I have been given as a result of my addiction, I wouldn't give up for anything. I would much rather be an addict with the spiritual life I have now than some joe zombie who, yes, may be able to drink socially with friends on the weekend, but is void of this new dimension…

Suspending Disbelief

Someone came to me recently about a problem they had with the spiritual element of the AA program. I say spiritual and not religious, as religious implies adherence to a specific doctrine or creed filled with codes and rituals. AA does not wish to force feed anybody religious doctrine. It does however question whether a chronic and hopeless alcoholic can quit upon a non-spiritual basis. If that be the case, we must then be at least willing to accept that there is something Greater than us that can solve our problem. We must turn to God.

     But if we are athiest or are particularly stubborn or proud, we may have to temporarily suspend our disbelief in order to open that door. So we simply take all of our beliefs and attitudes and carefully move them aside. While they are temporarily suspended, we embark on the Twelve Steps and see what happens. Chances are that if we are thorough and fearless with our Step work, something happens to us along the way and we suddenly find it easy t…

Willing To Be Wrong

Probably the most important thing we can do to get better is to become willing to be wrong. This was a central theme up North. The Big Book astutely notes that we addicts are obstinate types. We like to argue with you even when we know we are wrong. You say up, I say down. You say left, I say right. You say hi, I say fuck you. We just like to argue. Besides being ridiculous, this sort of attitude can become very dangerous for an alcoholic or an addict who is trying to get better.

     Recovering, healing and growing is all about being wrong. In order to move forward, we peel away a slew of beliefs, notions and attitudes that we were wrong about. With addiction, we come to understand that we were wrong about having power over drugs and alcohol. We were wrong about being able to manage and control our lives during active addiction. We were wrong about being able to get better on our own. We were wrong about not needing spiritual help. We were wrong about all those people we resente…

Giving Up Rights

Once I lose control of something, I give up the right to continue doing it. I give up that right simply because I've lost control. There are consequences to losing control. I hurt myself and more importantly, I hurt others. Beyond that, I become useless to the world. I fail to contribute to my fullest capacity. I become irresponsible as a human being. Losing control means that the world has lost a productive soul.

     The second I can no longer control my drinking, I no longer have the right to drink. The second I can no longer control my drug use, I no longer have the right to use drugs.

     And it's the same with every other destructive behavior, action, thought, word, or state of mind.

     If I lose control of my anger, I no longer have the right to get angry (not be angry, get angry). If I lose control over my depression, I no longer have the right to get depressed (and if it happens, then it is my sole duty not to STAY depressed, but rather pull myself out). If I …