Thursday, September 19, 2013

AA Sponsorship

     What is sponsorship?

     Is it approaching some newbie at an AA meeting and telling them that they need a sponsor and that you're the man to do it? Is it then dragging your sponsee to AA meetings day after day after day? Is it calling your sponsee on Saturday night to make sure he isn't drinking? Or is it fielding frantic and desperate phone calls from your sponsee as he teeters on the edge outside of a bar? Is it providing a social structure for your sponsee by taking him out for dinner, a movie, or some bowling? Is it telling your sponsee where to work, who to be with, or what friends they should have? Is it getting all militant and beating the shit out of him? Better yet, is it telling your sponsee what kind of clothes to wear? Is sponsorship determining what colored socks to wear on Monday? Sure that may sound ridiculous, but it's just as ridiculous as all the other useless actions I just mentioned.

     Sponsorship is NONE of the above. Watered down, modern AA has spawned all sorts of new ideas and norms about what sponsorship is. Hollywood has well-defined the slew of AA cliches - the meeting room, the sob stories, the group prayer, and the sponsor who calls you when you're in trouble. Sorry to say that none of these things have much to do with Alcoholics Anonymous, which was originally nothing more than a series of spiritual actions designed to restore the addict to sanity by accessing the power of God, or Spiritual Power, if you like. It is a way to God - nothing more, or rather, nothing less.

     The 12 Steps was the sole program of AA - a rigorous and life-changing set of actions to heal ourselves from deep within. An enormous amount of work is necessary to extract the life-destroying character defects that sabotage all good things in life. The work continues as we make amends to all who we have harmed. We take Steps to prepare us for our new life of purpose, the purpose of helping others who still suffer. If all we did was to sit there in meetings, make some coffee, be the treasurer and pass out sobriety coins, we remain untreated, insane, and a threat to every newcomer who walks through the door. Why suffer? Why struggle through each day when there is a solution?

     Sponsorship is very simple. It is one person who has taken Steps and recovered taking another addict through the Steps as they are laid out in the Big Book. That person must be willing to change and grow along spiritual lines. Our job as sponsors is to hook the sponsee up to God and then get out of the way. Nothing more. I take them through the first 7 Steps, guide them with their first few amends and then they should be on their way.

     It is not my job to be their friend or to listen to them blab on all night about their feelings or struggles, allowing them to validate themselves as some sort of victim. It is definitely not my job to call them. If you want to get better, then it is you who have to call me and I'll tell you what I did. And by the way, your feelings don't matter. I don't really care how you feel. Sound harsh? Well, it's really not so harsh when you think that our pathological focus on ourselves and our feelings, our constant engagement with self-pity is the exact thing preventing us from getting better.

     Holding on by a thread is not AA. AA is a set of spiritual tools that we can use to build a foundation of strength, peace and freedom. We can be forever rid of the mental obsession, the insanity before a relapse. There are no such things as cravings. There are no such things as triggers. We are either okay or not okay, recovered or recovering, sane or insane. There is no in between. Same with sponsorship.

See: Meeting Makers Make Meetings

God, Make me a better man today...

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fearing God Isn't Scary

     A few entries back, I opened with...

     The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7

     A common criticism towards this language and type of relationship with God is that our Creator is some scary, punishing God - one to be 'feared'. I get quite the opposite from this. Sometimes we addicts must step back and suspend all preconceptions... and also be sure not to robotically press the 'PLAY' button in our heads. We must stay open and educable.

     My translation:

     Be humble, and in a healthy way, fear doing the wrong thing for the effect it will have on self and others. To fear wrongdoing is wisdom, for we have been blessed with the knowledge of the certainty of cause and effect, a knowledge which better allows us to love ourselves, love others, and ultimately love God. To fear God is also to be vigilant not to become narrow and closed to new ideas and information. Remain a sponge, yet firm in our resolve that God Is. The boundaries of our knowledge rest in understanding and respecting where we come from.

God, please give me knowledge and wisdom, and instruct me how to better do Thy will and Thy work...

Monday, September 16, 2013

Damaged Person Glass Analogy

     Just heard this somewhere and thought it was brilliant. Wish I could give credit but just can't remember. I think it was the radio, maybe some interview on WBUR.

     Take a person and see them as a piece of pristine glass.

     Some of us are smudged, some of us are cracked, and some of us are shattered.

     Great analogy, to say the least. Let's elaborate a bit for fun.

     Smudges are easily manageable. Cracks can also be undone with some effort. But if we are shattered, there is virtually no hope, barring divine intervention.

     I believe most addicts are simply cracked whereas, say, a narcissist or a sociopath (both the same really) are shattered.

God, help me to love those who are shattered, those who hurt others with no remorse...

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Spiritual Debt


     Just like our economy and supposed 'recovery' is fake - driven by the false prosperity of debt, consumption, government intervention, accounting fraud and false data - as opposed to savings and production - and will inevitably come to screeching halt or a slow painful death...

     ...so too the drug addict is fake, driven and fueled by the false solution of drugs and the accumulation of spiritual debt - and will also inevitably come to a screeching halt or a slow painful death.

     Spiritual debt, i.e. the accumulation of various forms of poison such as fear, anger, resentment, self-pity, ego, pride, narcissism, dishonesty and immorality, must be eliminated and a replaced with a spiritual surplus of honesty, courage, strength, tolerance, patience, willingness, selflessness and love.

     Special bonus tonight: Please have a look at Aristotle's criteria of a tyranny (and more specifically a tyrant) in his timeless work, Politics, and tell me if you don't see a frightening correlation to what we have developing today, especially under the current regime. Just sayin'. Aristotle - Politics (See Book Five - esp pages 127-8, 133-135.)

     But times have indeed changed a bit since the days of Aristotle. The financial system is a complex ticking time bomb filled with trillions and trillions of worthless paper money, trillions in hypothecated and re-hypothecated securities, trillions in leveraged derivatives, and market rigging of the entire world's interest rates, market rigging of stocks, bonds, commodities, elections, everything.

     So what else do governments and central banks do when they are completely bankrupt, totally corrupt, and have no intention of ever repaying their debts? They find creative ways to confiscate the wealth of their citizens and then hire the media to lie about it. Wait, let's get this straight - I mean even more money than the trillions they already stole from the American people during the planned financial meltdown of 2008 and subsequent bailouts, which, despite popular belief, was the antithesis of capitalism. We don't have anything close to free markets.

     ZIRP (our current Zero percent Interest Rate Policy) is nothing but an ongoing bailout for the biggest banks (which are insolvent), allowing them to borrow from the federal reserve at 0% while crushing savers, senior citizens, and creating asset bubbles from a misallocation of capital, of which average Americans are always the victims as they are for the most part clueless about the way our financial and monetary systems work. And now we have stagflation coming to melt away what little savings the middle class has left. Good job, central planners. You have completely and utterly broken the markets and destroyed the American economy.

     QE (Quantitative Easing) is nothing but an ongoing bailout of the federal government as well as the banks, as it simply amounts to the fed printing money to buy our own debt (debt monetization), as well as to buy the worthless mortgages on the banks' balance sheets. It has nothing to do with creating jobs or helping Americans. Nothing. The federal reserve serves their member banks, as does our government. They couldn't care less about you except to make sure you are kept blind from the fact that you are a financial serf, to be sheared regularly, but kept alive, numbed and dumbed down such that you can continue being milked without protesting too much.

     But since we are beyond broke and will never grow our way out of this increasingly unstable volcano of national debt, QE and ZIRP are necessary and will never end until we either default or hyperinflate it away. Since there is not enough foreign treasury demand to satisfy the government's profligate spending, they are just idiotically printing money and lending it to themselves. That's called counterfeiting, and it robs the purchasing power of the dollars you are working so hard for. Wages flatline but prices go up. Inflation is a hidden tax. It is theft. It is a wealth transfer from the lower and middle classes to the rich. These policies are dramatically increasing wealth inequality, especially since 2009, even though most people have been somehow led to believe the exact opposite.

     As financial slave-master, Amschel Mayer Rothchild, revealed long ago, "Give me control of a nation's money supply and I care not who makes the laws." Not only does a private cult of bankers control the money supply, but through QE they have been actively buying our debt - mortgage debt and treasury debt. The fed owns your house and your nation, which they seek to dissolve, and with plenty of help from Washington. It is purposeful. If you want to control or own people, all you have to do is lend them money or buy their pre-existing debt. So, you see, we still have slavery - it's just carried out through debt and other financial weapons of mass destruction.

     Folks, this is the end game of the current climax of government corruption and our mathematically unsustainable debt-based monetary system. Unfortunately, it doesn't matter who you vote for since the Left/Right paradigm is just a hoax designed to fool you into thinking there are two different sides when, needless to say, there aren't. Save for a few social issues, when it comes to economic and foreign policy, they're both the same. They are puppets, owned by the corporate/banking elite and the oligarchs. They do not serve the people, the middle class. So that won't solve anything.

     This is a moral issue, a moral issue regarding the future of our children, of which there will be none if we remain blind and passive. So please, dear voters, stop voting for these jokers. They have no clue what they're doing. Is it not time we get these war-mongering, surveillance-obsessed clowns and their collectivist debt state out of government and let some sane adults take over? Debt and war are crippling America and our insolvency will force them to confiscate as much of our wealth, wages, property, privacy and freedom as humanly possible. We don't want our somewhat free republic devolving into a totalitarian banana republic.

God, please teach me that hard work and honesty is what changes me, builds character, and leads to success...

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

      I am generally at a loss for inspiration during the summer when I take care of the turnover and maintenance on our rental property. Summer heat + physical labor + baby + dog = no good blog posts. So at times I'm reduced to re-posting older entries like this one about the modality of choice for your average therapist or addictions 'specialist'.

                                                        *  

     Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is what the "experts" and the taxpayer-funded (immorally funded) addiction programs have to offer, besides doing skits, writing down triggers, or just sucking on Methadone wafers for the rest of your life.

     CBT - identify the faulty belief, change the thinking, then change the behavior. Ahhh, we're talking about alcoholics and drug addicts here - pathological liars with twisted, deranged minds. So forget about the fact that most addicts cannot recover without spiritual help, CBT isn't gonna cut it. After using for 15 years, my brain is so destroyed that I can't possibly think straight. My sponsor said it one night at this old meeting we used to have.

     "If I can't think my way into right action, then I have to act my way into right thinking."

     Sometimes we're so messed up that we just need to start taking right action and then the mind follows.

     I used to see this therapist in Boston. Totally useless. Good guy, though. I think he was reasonably genuine and wanted to help. All we did was talk.

     "Hmmm, so Charlie... why do you think you use? Maybe we should dig into this family stuff and that might tell us why." 

     You gotta to be kidding me. Yeah, buddy, it's my crazy family... that's why I use. Newsflash: Nothing in our lives is responsible for making us use and become addicts. But I'm sure glad my poor Dad paid the guy every week because he gave me some top notch excuses to get hammered.

     Drug addicts are completely nuts and, by the way, nobody can help me unless they ARE me, unless they use the way I do, unless they feel the way I do, unless they just happened to be recovered and living a fulfilling life - unless I want what they have, so to speak. Therapists try and tell you what your problem is. Guess what? I already know what my f'ing problem is. The problem is that I have no idea what to do about it. I need a solution. I need tools. I need someone to lay out exactly what I need to DO to recover.

     But what do we do in therapy? We get the therapist to tell us what we want to hear. Now I can walk out of the office and justify my drug use. Yup, he told me I'm depressed and I've been abused and I have anxiety and bipolar 1 or 2, 2a or 3c, or some other ridiculous diagnosis... and that's why I use. Let me help out the Docs a bit: the diagnosis is addiction. But instead they give us justifications and excuses.
   
     "Sorry I just stole a hundred bucks from your wallet and totalled your car on my way to see Pablo, Dad, but it wasn't my fault, you see... It was the bipolar's fault!"

     "Sorry I just called you a stupid bitch and slammed the door in your face so I could go get jammed out of my skull, honey, but you see, it's really not my fault... it's the horrible depression I have!"
     
     No, no, I got it... "It's my parent's fault!" Yup, that's it. Perfect. "Those assholes!"
   
     Um, yeah, okay. As if I have the right to use because of somebody else. Bullshit. I made myself a drug addict. Nobody else. We should be fully accountable for our actions.
   
     Bottom line: I need a real solution and sorry but talking is not a solution. Besides, all alcoholics and addicts do anyway is talk. We just talk, talk, talk... haha, like me. Ridiculous.

God, please give me the power, strength and willingness to stop talking and take action...

Sunday, September 8, 2013

One of Seven Billion

     Guess what? I am just one of seven billion people who all feel the same things and go through the same things. My human experience in no more novel than anybody else's.

     My pain is no more excruciating. My depression is no more brutal. My addiction and alcoholism is no tougher. My anxiety, insecurity and self-consciousness are no more agonizing. My life problems are no harder. My relationships, jobs and finances are no more complicated. My thoughts, emotions and feelings are no more unique. My challenges, both internal and external, are no more difficult.

     My life takes place in the same human body and the same human mind as everybody else's. There's nothing special about me. How do we addicts become so narcissistic as to assume we are somehow different from everybody else?

     Trust me, we're not. We just think we are. We think nobody in the world really knows what it's like to be us, to feel the way we do, to think the way we do, to suffer the way we do. In fact, the only thing that distinguishes us at all is our degree of narcissism.

     So whether we are alcoholics, addicts, or just plain mentally ill, it's good to look in the mirror at least once a day to affirm:

     You aren't different. You aren't special. You aren't a victim. You don't have it particularly tough in life. You don't have problems that no one else has. You don't have a harder life than others. You aren't smarter than others. You aren't more talented than others. The world doesn't owe you anything. Nobody owes you anything. The only difference between you and other people your age is that you still haven't grown up. You don't realize that nobody else is responsible for your circumstances. You don't realize that nobody else is responsible for the way you feel. You don't realize that life isn't about you feeling good all of the time.

     Guess what? There are seven billion of us. So stop whining and get to work...

God, help me to get outside of myself and remember that I am just one of seven billion...

Friday, September 6, 2013

This State Doesn't Work Either

     I used to think that all I had to do to snap out of my depression was just to get out of my freakin' house! I have to get out of town, man, and move across the country. Breathe the fresh mountain air! Oops, no wait, now I have to drive back home to breathe the cool ocean air! Nope, wait a sec, that's not working either. Okay, I think I should change schools or jobs or relationships. Yup! Nope. Hmmm, nothing works. What the hell, man?

     Gee, maybe because changing our external reality does absolutely nothing to change the way we feel inside, nor will it cure what ails us. One of the only good slogans I heard in AA is how when you try to escape your problems by driving from state to state, each welcome sign that you pass should say,

     "Welcome! This State Doesn't Work Either."

     Our problems will follow us wherever we go. Our fears, our depression, our anxiety, our alcoholism and our addiction will tow right behind us. To get rid of our demons, we must change, not travel. We must take action of a different nature... action which effects profound and fundamental change on an internal or spiritual level.

     Personally, I took Steps to get better, although there are many other ways we can change or grow and become sane once again. I took Steps because I am an addict. If I were something else, perhaps I would embark on a disciplined meditation routine, or perhaps I would do service of some sort. Volunteer somewhere. Teach others a skill that I have, or a talent.

     Usually changing involves giving. That is the only thing I am certain of when it comes to changing. No matter what our problem is, the solution must involve getting rid of SELF.

God, please bring all my fellow addicts who still suffer to the depths of despair and hopelessness, that they may begin to embark on real change...

Thursday, September 5, 2013

"How Does God Remove Your Mental Obsession?"

     Saw this search phrase/question on the stats page.

     Nobody truly knows the exact how of it, the precise mechanism of God's power, which is surely unreachable and thus unknowable to us shallow, mundane creatures. The closest we can come to the answer is by experiencing it ourselves. Although once our obsession is removed and has become a reality, there is little need to ask the question anymore.

     But it seemed like such a genuine and sincere inquiry, I thought it deserved some kind of pathetic-at-best answer.

     Answer: God, being unlimited in Power, can do anything. He can literally rewire your brain such that you suddenly have no desire to drink or use. He restores your mind with the power of choice. As a direct result of rigorous spiritual work on self, a sincere desire and willingness to change, and when reaching out humbly, God can very suddenly or over time remove our obsession and restore us to sanity. God can alter our minds fundamentally, such that bio-chemical imbalances, obsessions, urges, thoughts, attitudes and beliefs that have haunted us for years are removed and replaced with balance, sanity, reason, spiritual principles, an entire change in attitude and the birth of a strong and accurate moral compass... but only if we work hard for it.

     So if you are an alcoholic or drug addict and your obsession to drink or use is suddenly gone, you have no one to thank but God. Trust me, don't thank yourself. You didn't do it. If we have lost the power of choice, then how can we suddenly re-insert it? We can't. If we have lost an innate power, the power of will, then it can only be restored by our Creator. This sort of power comes from somewhere outside of ourselves, somewhere well beyond the bounds of human faculty.

     If you are a true addict and you can quit 'upon a non-spiritual basis', then let me know... and also let me know what the quality of your recovery is. Let me know what your relationships look like, and your career, and your emotional and spiritual well-being. I'm curious. I've never seen it done before, which is why I write this blog. It's why I wrote the book.

      A recent commenter (anonymous, of course) on some old post about triggers suggested I am grossly misguided regarding addiction, and that relapse prevention works for "most people". Haha, that's funny. Please. Talk to some parents, buddy. I went from an emaciated, lesion-covered, hopeless, pathological monster to completely and utterly free inside. I'm now a recovered alcoholic and heroin addict who hasn't the slightest urge to self-destruct... I think I know what I'm talking about. But even so, who gives a shit about what I write? Um, does it matter one bit? I am nobody. So don't worry about it.

God, please remove the obsession to drink and use drugs, and restore me to sanity...

Monday, September 2, 2013

Phony

     The hardest yet simultaneously most important thing for any addict is to be honest. Not just honest in his word, but honest in his thought, action, and character.

     Addicts are perhaps the biggest phonies on earth, besides your elected officials. That is, the way we act is fake. We are always trying and acting like anything BUT ourselves, which becomes necessary to achieve our selfish ends. Why is it so hard just to be real? Why is it so hard to be ourselves?

     One, because we have no clue who we are. Second, because we have been full of lies and bullshit for so long, honesty and authenticity are unfamiliar territory, to say the least.

     Another reason is a bit more subtle. I remember a story an old teacher of mine told me about how he asked a guy to join him in driving to another state to speak at some meeting. The guy responded that he would only go if he went with joy. That's an honest guy for you. How often do we do things without really wanting to, but just to please someone or to look some way to others? It's even more difficult to distinguish what it is we truly feel like doing - a natural problem of not knowing who we are.

     So I've been trying to only act with joy, with the exception of needing to help someone, which honestly, I don't always feel like doing. I've been trying to act whole-heartedly, if you will, in an effort to not just be myself, but to become who I am, to become truer to who I am, and accordingly, to become more honest.

    For an addict, fake and phony won't do. And once sober, being a phony is like a form of torture - it will bring you down until you become depressed... and then ill... and then... boom. It all blows up. Great job.

God, please help me to become more honest, to just be myself and to act whole-heartedly and with joy...