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Showing posts from December, 2012

Recovery = Balance

After 8+ recovered years, I've changed my tune a bit. I used to think that non-stop recovery was essential to lifelong health. Don't get me wrong, in early sobriety, we have to work our asses off if we are to fully recover. Without question, we must go to any lengths to get better. That means that we never procrastinate, never ignore our conscience, and actively seek out opportunities to give back. That means that we take rigorous action. We write inventory, we read it, we pray, we meditate, we give service, we give to our families and we make our amends - all without hesitation. We put our spiritual growth above all else and we don't stop until we are sane once again. And yes, we will always continue doing the work.

     But one thing I have learned is that there is a time for everything. Sometimes I focus more on my recovery, sometimes more on my family, sometimes more on my career. I've also learned that we can't give every second of the day and every cell …

Spiritual Realm

Is there a spiritual realm?

     Yes. There is without a doubt much more happening than we can see, hear, or touch.

     As I knelt down to pray one night up North, I was touched by something beyond comprehension. The scope of Its power is something I can't even fathom. It cannot be described or measured. It is beyond man-made definitions, boundaries and conceptions. It is beautiful, mystical, and unexplainable. And in a single moment, it freed me from the lifelong chains of fear, anger, sadness, depression and emptiness.

     So why spoil something that we fragile, flawed, and fleeting humans can barely handle? We have to box everything, define everything, describe everything, own everything, and assert doctrines, codes and creeds as if they are absolute and come from this Power. Who are we to define and possess God? Who are we to fight over God?

     Forgive me, but it feels like some of our man-made conceptions of God seem rather silly, if not altogether ridiculous. Trying…

The Face Of Therapy

Sorry, but most psychotherapists aren't going to tell addicts to just enlarge their spiritual life, take some right action, and then send them on their way. And, uh, have you ever met an active alcoholic or a drug addict? It sounds like this: blah blah blah blah-blah blah blah blah-blah-blah...

     Probably the very last thing an addict needs is to be talking incessantly about their addiction and depression, whether sober and miserable or active and manic. By digging into our past and finding even more problems, more reasons and more stuff to blame, it distracts us and ultimately delays our recovery. We don't become empowered by blaming our problems on some trauma in our lives, thereby recusing ourselves of ownership and responsibility. We become empowered by moving on from the past, blaming nothing and no one, and getting our asses off the therapy couch and taking action - rigorous action.

     Therapists (especially psychiatrists) have little understanding about the na…

Addiction 101

"There is no such thing as making a normal drinker out of an alcoholic. Science may one day accomplish this, but it hasn't done so yet." -Alcoholics Anonymous, p.31

     Translation: Physically, we are screwed. Oh, and science still hasn't done so... but even if it did someday, I would refuse such a procedure with a resolve as strong as gold. I think I'll take the incredible and mystical life that I have now as opposed to muddling through as a mundane zombie, locked inside my small, narrow, 3-dimensional world.

     You can turn a non-addict into an addict, but there is no turning an addict back into a non-addict. We have an 'allergy' to drugs and alcohol that we will die with. It doesn't matter if we are sober for half a century. Give us a drink and we will react physically as does any chronic alcoholic. It won't be long until we are falling down drunk 24/7 and back in detox. This is what both addicts and families MUST understand. Our bodies…

Take the Garbage Out

I don't know who coined the phrase, Take The Garbage Out, but this is exactly what we need to do when it comes to our minds and all of our petty, worldly problems. The late Suzuki Roshi said that if we practice zazen everyday, problems will cease to exist. It'd be nice if psychotherapists told us to just go meditate and save us the 20 years and the $200,000, but I suppose 8 years of student loans wouldn't exactly be worthwhile if they didn't keep us eating out of their hands.

     If I hadn't meditated everyday after I got home from treatment, I wouldn't be where I am today. I wouldn't have altered my bio-chemistry back to normal. I wouldn't have conquered my fear or the mind-blowing depression. I wouldn't have freed myself from the prison of psychological diagnoses such as major depression and bipolar disorder. I wouldn't have freed myself from the brainwashing I got from doctors who told me that I would forever need to be medicated. 8 yea…

Why Alcoholics Hurt People

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Sadly, people who find this blog often type in the search phrase, 'why do alcoholics hurt us?', which results in an older post I wrote about why drinking is selfish. I renamed that post, Selfish No Matter What, and hopefully this one will come up instead.

     First, let me tell you that it's not because of you. You are not the reason. There is no person, place or thing to blame. We have only ourselves to blame for our selfish actions.

     Alcoholics and addicts hurt others because their addiction comes first before everything. And if our addiction is our very top priority, then we will do anything it takes to use the way we want, even if that means lying to you, stealing from you, manipulating you, deceiving you, abusing you, hurting you and breaking your heart.

     Many of us probably don't want to hurt you at all, but if we are addicts, our addiction comes first, and that means nothing and nobody will get in the way of us drinking and using to our little hea…

Self Will For God's Will

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"Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God's will into all of our activities. 'How can I best serve Thee - Thy will (not mine) be done.' These are thoughts which must go with us constantly. We can exercise our will power along this line all we wish. It is proper use of the will." -Alcoholics Anonymous, p.85

     Translation: I can use my self will until I'm blue in the face... to do God's will.

     Why is it so difficult to understand the difference between self will and God's will? Every time people discuss some horrible tragedy, someone always asks, "Golly gee, why did God let this horrible tragedy happen!?" Acts of horror have nothing to do with God's will. Acts of abuse and violence are purely an act of Self will. God's will involves listening deeply and following our conscience. Most of us should have one, less the sociopaths, psychopaths and narcissists. It's the visceral feeling we experience when we s…

Don't Care What You Believe

I don't care what you believe. It really doesn't matter... compared to what you do. We can believe in the most noble, lofty principles in the world and still be useless sacks. We can believe in every good thing known to man and not evolve spiritually in the slightest. We can have our doctrines of choice memorized front to back and never change at all. We can be religious show-offs who can throw passages around like no other and still be deranged monsters. What matters is what we do, not what we believe.

     I also don't care how you feel. I don't care if you're sad, angry, depressed, anxious, or feel like a victim. It doesn't matter because your feelings have nothing to do with getting better. Discussing your feelings or digging into them with a friend, social worker or psychotherapist is a waste of time. Instead, we addicts and alcoholics need to get over ourselves, do some work, and start changing. We need to stop thinking and just do the right thing. 

There Is No Worse Than

Once we cross over that line, we are all the same...

     A speaker that I once looked up to stunned me one night at a meeting. He was handing out a 1-year sobriety chip and essentially glorifying how 'bad' of an addict this girl was. The money quote was, "She wasn't just some suburban dope sniffer..." As if it's harder to get better because of what we use, or the way we use, or what town we come from, or our ethnicity, wealth, status or privilege.

     The very second we cross over that line and become addicts, we are all equally screwed and the mountain we have to climb to recover is the same exact height. Just ask two vastly different recovered people how easy it was to actually go through a rigorous, thorough and honest 12 Step process. It's not easy at all, no matter who you are. To go from being insane to sane is a miraculous feat, and one that requires spiritual help. And the internal effort it takes to access this spiritual Power is pretty mu…

Don't Forget To Have Fun

Between a barrage of frantic questions that I desperately needed answered, my sponsor calmly smiled and said to me, "Hey, don't forget to have fun. We need to have fun, too." That was 8 years ago and I still often forget.

     But he made a good point. After all, we are addicts and we will grab onto anything and everything that makes us feel good. We can become consumed by recovery, which is not a bad thing, but we must remember not to take life so seriously all of the time... or ourselves for that matter.
     Go hang out with an old friend and engage in some uncontrolled self-deprecation. Go to the mall and make fun of the mall walkers. Go out to eat at the Cheesecake Factory and try to get through one of their monstrosities... or not. Go to the batting cages with a friend and smash the hell out of a few balls. Go to the movies with your wife or girlfriend. Go to the beach, lie down on the sand and fall asleep. Drive to Vermont and take the Winooski approach up Ca…

Learning To Pray

I remember kneeling down in the chapel up North to take a 3rd Step and hoping that I'd be able to connect deeply with the prayer. Don't get me wrong, the prayers in the Big Book are beautifully written, but they aren't written by me. I realized that if prayer was going to work on a daily basis, if it was going to access this Power that existed, then it would have to be much more personal. Prayers that were written 2000 years ago are lovely, but they're not exactly our 'language', so to speak. So I started praying in my own language, in my own voice, using my own words. And I don't attach all sorts of rules to my prayer. I don't need to be clean before praying, or only pray on a special mat, or only pray in church, or make sure to pray before a certain meal, on a certain day, in a certain way. If you want to pray in the shower, on the toilet, or in front of a urinal, go for it. And make it your own.

God, please keep me out of my fucking head today. 

New Employer

"When we sincerely took such a position, all sorts of remarkable things followed. We had a new Employer. Being all powerful, He provided what we needed, if we kept close to Him and performed His work well. Established on such a footing we became less and less interested in ourselves, our little plans and designs. More and more we became interested in seeing what we could contribute to life." -Alcoholics Anonymous, p.63

     Admittedly, it is very difficult to understand something that we haven't gone through ourselves. Someone who has never felt the paralyzing effects of severe clinical depression will never truly understand it. They might think, Oh they're just choosing not to get out of bed because they're f'ing lazy. At the same time, someone with major depression is not doomed, nor do they require medication to lift their depression and function properly once again.

     It's the same with addiction. People who are non-addicts cannot truly unders…

Non-Spiritual Basis?

"Whether a person can quit upon a non-spiritual basis depends upon the extent to which he has already lost the power to choose whether he will drink or not." -Alcoholics Anonymous, p.34

     Translation: If you are too far gone, chances are that you cannot recover without the help of God.

      The Big Book also says, "Though there is no way of proving it, we believe that early in our drinking careers most of us could have stopped drinking. But the difficulty is that few alcoholics have enough desire to stop while there is yet time." -Alcoholics Anonymous, p.32

     Translation: Before you mutated yourself into a chronic, hopeless drunk, you may have been able to quit without spiritual help. You may have been able to still recover on your own power and self-will... but maybe not, hahaha.

     The Big Book spends the first 43 pages just trying to drill a 1st Step into our heads. There is no moving forward until we know with every cell in our body that we are po…

"The Spiritual Life Is Not A Theory"

"The spiritual life is not a theory. We have to live it." - Alcoholics Anonymous, p.83

     So often we hear wisdom, knowledge and inspiration. We hear it in meetings, churches, lectures, hospitals and treatment houses. We read it in books and even see it sometimes in film and television. There is only one problem with wisdom. It is utterly useless if all I do is hear it, read it or see it. I could have the entire Big Book memorized. Useless. Do I really want to follow the guy who talks up a storm at the meeting but doesn't live by these principles once he walks out the door? Do I want to go to three meetings a day, chain smoke butts, slurp coffee and stuff my face with cookies during break or do I want to actually get better, do some work on myself, remove character defects and grow spiritually so I can be useful to my family, help others, serve God and make a difference?

     Living it means so many things. It means that I DO what I've learned. It means that I…