Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Teabag Wisdom

     Astonishing the amount of insight that can be amassed from a box of Yogi ginger tea.


     "The art of happiness is to serve all."

     "Trust creates peace."

     "Your life is based on the capacity of energy in you, not outside of you."

     "Obey, serve, love, excel."

     "Chances multiply if you grab them."

     "You only give when you love."

     "The best way of life is to simply be."


God, teach me to apply what I've learned, not just store it uselessly in my head...

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Home Depot Inventory

     "A business which takes no regular inventory usually goes broke... We did the exact same thing with our lives. We took stock honestly. First, we searched out the flaws in our make-up which caused our failure. Being convinced of self, manifested in various ways, was what had defeated us, we considered its common manifestations." -Alcoholics Anonymous, p.64.

     Gee, I'm glad I didn't listen to the guy who ran the Beverly Farms meeting years ago when he stood up from his seat in a fit of rage after I mentioned inventory and the above passage and constructed the following bit of eloquence, give or take. "Listen, I run a friggin' business and lemme tell you, no friggin' God and no friggin' spiritual Big Book step bullshit keeps me sobah! It's this friggin' meetin' and you friggin' guys that keeps me sobah!"

     Um, I know AA is self-governing but I have a hunch that's not the best advice.

     "Resentment is the 'number one' offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease, for we have not only been mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick. When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically." - Ibid., also p.64.

     And the above is why I don't go to meetings. Why add to the already steady accumulation of resentments? Plus, it was Alcoholics Anonymous that saved my life, a program which bears little to no resemblance to what takes place in some of these meetings.

Home Depot Inventory

1st Column (Who): Moron at Home Depot

2nd Column (Cause): a) Never cut my carpet after I ordered it, then forgot and sold the last of it to someone else.

3rd Column (Affects my...): Pride/Ambition, Self-Esteem, Wallet,

4th Column (My Mistakes):
Self-Seeking: I am the man. No one messes with me.
Selfish: I want my carpet when I want my carpet.
Dishonest: I make, and want to be forgiven for, my own human errors yet judge everybody else for theirs. (i.e. I know it wasn't intentional.)
Fear: I'm afraid to let go. I fear looking bad to our new tenants.

God, forgive me for my sins, for being unloving and verbally abusive, for being intolerant and judgmental, for not forgiving and giving others the benefit of the doubt. Help me to see my character flaws, that I may rid myself of them and replace them instead with Your principles...

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Should Addicts Be Taking Credit?

     Who really gets us better?

     I always thought that if I ever recovered, it was ME who got myself better. I couldn't even wrap my head around the idea that something else could fix me, especially something intangible. I could only conceive of my own power. How narrow and limited of me. How small-minded and stupid of me. 

     Addicts love to take credit for every good thing that happens to them, for every accomplishment no matter how minute. They simply can't handle the possibility or even the idea that something else may be responsible for what they have achieved or what they have been blessed with. If they land a great job, it's all them. If they make a bunch of money, it's all them. If they meet a loving, loyal spouse, it's all them. If they are showered with good friends and abundance, then yup, it's all because of them. They create everything... unless it's something negative, of course. Then it's suddenly someone else's fault. This is the disturbing result of an addict's sick mind and pathological self-centeredness. We've become blind to the greater powers at work. Plus we need for others to see what we can accomplish, how brilliant and talented we are.

     The sheer comedy of all this is that doing things my way, my genius way, landed me in a locked detox/psychiatric ward with my bony, emaciated ass hanging out of a hospital johnny. So after failing repeatedly to control, shape and mold my life, desperately trying to exert my will, it was such a great relief to stop relying on my warped head to guide me through life. When I stopped trying to get myself better, that is the very moment I began to change.

     So I don't take credit for what changed me, for what removed the obsession to drink alcohol and use drugs. I don't take credit for the things I've accomplished since I got sober. I don't take credit if one of my knucklehead sponsees actually gets better. I don't take credit for all of the miracles and blessings in my life. I don't look around to see my wonderful life now and think, Wow, look what I did! I'm so the man! I'm so amazing and talented and strong! I can conquer anything! 

     When I began to do things that I could not previously do, I could no longer deny the truth. I had to give credit accurately. It was God who made me better and who keeps me better. Everything good that we do and everything good that we have is from God and is God. Fact. Addicts should be honest about credit. As tempted as we might be to tap ourselves on the back for something we did, try not to. Chances are we had little to nothing to do with it. And besides, isn't it more humble and conducive to our spiritual recovery to have this sort of attitude?

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Internal Authority

     Alcoholics and drug addicts lack internal authority.

     That is, they have no authority or control over their emotions, their thoughts, and most unfortunately, their actions. Because we have no internal control, we allow other people, things or events to dictate how we feel. Even more sad, we allow other people or other institutions to make decisions for us and to take care of us.

     This is why we are such a disappointment, because others have to make decisions for us and take care of us financially, physically, emotionally, etc. Having no internal authority over ourselves, we succumb to external authority, and thus, we are slaves. Truly, we active and/or untreated addicts are a waste of precious natural resources, not to mention a waste of a precious life.

     So please do your parents and the already fleeced taxpayers a favor and take care of yourselves. Most of us are plenty talented enough to at least accomplish that. The secret is to become willing and to be a tad more unselfish. Get better and give back, as there is now no other option. We have officially given up the right to drink, use, hurt others, or in any way, shape or form do the wrong thing.

     And yes, I screw up all the time. The trick is not to do so intentionally, but either way, we must see our wrong and then go make it right. That's why we write inventory - to identify our wrongs. That's why we pray for willingness, for the power to then go and make them right. If we cannot or if we refuse to correct our wrongs, to become accountable and attempt to relieve those we hurt, we will never recover from anything. Doctors and counselors will tell you that you relapsed because you were triggered.

     Wrong!

     We relapse because we are doing the wrong thing, coupled with our refusal to grow up and act like an adult, to be a good person, and to do the right thing. Moral action and God alone can remove the mental obsession. Science cannot. It has never been able to. Goodness and spiritual fitness cannot be injected - they must be earned through hard work, right action, and Grace.

God, please teach me how to take better care of myself, that I may stop depending on others...

Friday, January 10, 2014

Why Take Steps?

      Anybody can take Steps, and it's probably not a bad idea. The actions involved in the Step process work to extract the toxic baggage within - the build-up of fear, anxiety, resentment, anger, depression, discontent, dissatisfaction, vanity, arrogance, self-centeredness and selfishness. By extracting negative perceptions, beliefs and behavioral patterns, by smashing attitudes, ambitions, motivations and delusions that have been driving us our entire lives, we become empty and free to allow something better to come in. Once cleaned out, we can become filled instead with humility, sanity, peace, positivity, responsibility, tolerance, other-centeredness and freedom. We can replace the darkness with light, with Spirit.

     Of course, addicts, like most people, will only try something if they know exactly what it is, how it works, and if it will work. We want results, we want them quick, and we want it to be easy. And when we fail, we LOVE to blame anything and everything other than ourselves. But when we fail in the Steps, it is not the Steps that failed us, nor is it the fault of anything or anybody else outside of ourselves. Your success in the Steps is entirely up to you. It is between you and God.

     By the way, if your sponsor has any clue at all, he will never tell you to do something that he hasn't done himself. That is not our job as Step sponsors. Our job is simply to tell you what we have done, what worked for us. Our job is to take you through the process laid out in the Big Book. That's all. And we are not responsible for your results. Again, that is entirely up to you.

     So what you get out of this process is directly proportional to what you put into it. If you give everything you have, if you are thorough and fearless, and most importantly, if you really want to change, then you will. The universe will conspire to bring you opportunities to change. You will strangely bump into people you owe amends to from years ago. Chances to help others will drop out of the sky, especially if you pray for them. It is mystical.

     If you let go of self, of needing to do everything and control everything on your own, freedom is yours. Take the leap. Have blind faith. Challenge yourself, give back and do the right thing. We owe it to the people in our lives. We owe it to the world. So go ahead... change.

God, please bring me the opportunity to help someone today...

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Get Over Ourselves

     Guess what?

     Even when we are sober, sane, honest and living right, life can get pretty dark, heavy, tough and challenging sometimes. But we walk thought it all, just like everybody else. That is how we get better, how we get stronger. It's how we dissolve character flaws and how we build character.

     Addicts don't get it. Our experience and pain is no more unique than anybody else's. Going through tough times is called life on earth. This is key. We can accept that our life experience is both up and down, and push through it all. This is just what it means to be human. 

     We spend so much time while we're using and even in recovery and especially in meetings talking about our feelings, thoughts, behavior, lives, relationships, what we've done, what we're doing now, and on and on endlessly. Maybe we should consider veering away from the perpetual self-focus. Maybe we should try focusing on others, or even just living our lives without talking about it so much.

     Addicts LOVE to broadcast anything and everything about themselves, like a teenager - entirely clueless that nobody is looking at us, nobody else cares what we're doing, what we're saying or how we look. But since we're not clueless teenagers with a case of developmental narcissism, perhaps we should get over ourselves?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Fundamental Error

     As long as our recovery revolves around focusing on drugs and alcohol, we will never get better...

     Why does conventional treatment fail miserably to fix an addict for any length of time?

     Because they will forever commit a fundamental error. Their belief is that if you are a drug addict or an alcoholic then you must focus on drugs and alcohol to get better. In fact, the more we focus on our drug and alcohol problem, the more we talk about it, the more we treat it with therapy, groups, medications and relapse prevention, the further away from real recovery we get. Sounds backwards, right?

     Actually, the truth is that it's backwards to focus our attention on drugs and alcohol, on our drug and alcohol problem. Our problem has little to do with drugs and alcohol, but for some reason they don't get it. It has nothing to do with triggers, predispositions, the alcoholic allele, our parents, our upbringing, peer pressure, our bio-chemistry, our feelings, thoughts or circumstances. Nothing. Sorry, but NOPE.

     Our only problem is spiritual, and so must be our solution. The only thing wrong with us is that we have no relationship with God. That's all. It's that simple. Recovery amounts to nothing more than taking actions which bring us closer to God and improve our conscious contact with Him.

God, please remove the universal veil of bullshit that smothers our understanding of addiction...

Sunday, January 5, 2014

False Solutions

     Addicts don't have a drug problem, they have a life problem...

     So we look for solutions until we find drugs and alcohol, which are certainly solutions, just not very good ones. It's not quite accurate to say that addicts always want to feel good. I think the deeper truth is that we just want to be okay. If we were okay, we wouldn't need drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and constant distraction. If we were okay, we would be content with the way things are. If we had peace, there would be no need for drugs and alcohol as a solution. Trust me, if we were filled up inside, if we replaced our emptiness not with drugs but with God, we'd be just fine. That's what I did.

     The reason why so few get better is because they fail to replace their addiction with something as powerful as the drug itself. If we replace our addiction with something as powerful, we will achieve freedom. I replaced, or rather made an attempt to replace my addiction with spiritual principles, which opened up a line between me and God. Access to that kind of Power was enough to instantly restore me to sanity and banish my addiction forever. I am completely recovered. Yes, completely. Even the 2 packs of butts I used to suck down all day long like a pig.

     Drugs and alcohol of any kind will never be a problem for me. And not in an arrogant way. In a God way. God is real. Shoot, inhale or chug some of that instead.

God, please bring every suffering addict to You in their hopelessness and tire of false solutions... 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Letting Go

     Letting go is when I no longer care what others think of me. I no longer need the approval of my family. I no longer need approval of who I am, who I'm with, what I believe, what I'm thinking, what I do for work, etc. And I no longer need to preach to others because I am okay with myself.

     When we need to prove or preach something to others, the sad and rather unattractive truth is that we don't entirely believe it ourselves. But if we are okay, inside and out, we don't need to prove anything to anyone. We don't need approval, validation, credit or recognition. 

     The day I let go was the day I stopped caring what other people thought about my life and what I was doing. It was the day I stopped needing for my friends in recovery to see all the stuff I was doing to help others. I didn't need to show off, or need a pat on the back, or need smoke to be blown up my ass. And this is true peace - when you no longer need something outside of yourself to be okay.

    Letting go is also forgiveness. That's why the process of writing a thorough inventory can truly save an addict's life. Clearly understanding our resentments has the power to fix an addict for good. If we can successfully dissolve our anger and resentment then we can forgive, and when we can forgive, we are free. There is no more need to hurt self or others. That is peace. Ridding ourselves of resentment is crucial to the process of restoring ourselves to sanity. And sanity, of course, means no more addiction. Sanity means life. Enjoy it.

     Finally, it is important to understand that letting go is a process. We don't just read it in a supermarket self-help book and wala, we've let go and our life magically gets better. Letting go is the result of hard work. As we continue to take Steps year after year, we step back one day to realize that we have let go. We are completely okay with the way things are. We are okay with life. We are free inside. We have recovered.

God, help me become willing to take actions that help me to let go...

Friday, January 3, 2014

Trust

     Ever try to rehearse or plan something, like say, a speech? Disaster, right? You end up trying to remember what you were going to say, then you can't remember, then you maybe look at some notes but even then, you're already in your head, it's not organic, the whole thing sucks and there is no life or charisma to anything you say. So that's pretty much the opposite of what you want to do.

     It's the same thing with recovery. We have to try without trying. Make sense? Sure we do all the work and we do it thoroughly, but the x-factor in getting better is trust. We have to let go of knowing the outcome, knowing if this process we've embarked on will actually work. We must step into the darkness, unsure of where we will land. We must trust in the unknown.

     Until we let go, God does not touch us. Addicts have been enslaved by self-will. We are so obstinate. We cannot let go. We have to know everything and do everything by ourselves. Until we leave the actual change up to God, we don't get it. We don't have that vital spiritual experience.

     If there is one difference between those who make it and those who do not, it is trust. Trust is faith. Faith that something you cannot see or touch or prove can and will fix you. When an addict becomes willing to let go, then he can touch divinity. At that point, anything it possible.

     This is pure knowledge. It isn't us that makes things happen, that gets us better and restores us to sanity. It is the mind-blowing power of our Creator.

God, please help us become willing to let go of self and trust in the unknown...

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Origins of Addiction

     Addiction/alcoholism is simply a natural extension of a preexisting spiritual condition.

     Trust me, if we turn ourselves into addicts, there is something wrong with us spiritually. You don't just become an addict because you broke your ankle and some doctor gave you vicodin and now you're an addict even though you don't have that type of personality and so it's pretty much the doctor's and the vicodin's fault. It's nobody's fault. It's our fault.

     We became addicts by selfishly avoiding discomfort. So us getting better must entail endless amounts of action, hard work and humility. We must demolish the belief that we can fix ourselves, that we can do anything because we are so amazing and so cool, so gifted and so genius. We must crush our arrogance and get underneath something. Sure we may be able to do all sorts of other things, but when it comes to drugs and alcohol, we are completely powerless. We have no control. So pretending like we can do what we clearly cannot is insane. When we're ready to stop lying to ourselves, we need to get underneath God.

     Newsflash: Normal people feel all of the things we do (it's called being human - we're not special), but they are mature and courageous enough to face their feelings and do what's right despite what they might be going through. This is also known as growing up. It's what some refer to as becoming a responsible, accountable adult. Addicts should try it sometime. God knows America is in dire need of help as we spiral down the rabbit hole.

     P.S. Just to be clear, when I write these blogs, I'm simply talking to myself, so please don't take offense if you're another knucklehead addict out there reading this. I'm the demented shithead that I refer to when describing addicts. Writing these blogs reminds me of what got me better and what will continue to keep me better... and so they might resonate with other addicts or be somewhat useful for parents, spouses or friends of addicts who'd like some illumination on why we act like deranged idiots.

God, please help us to understand the nature of addiction, that we may better treat those who are afflicted and bring peace to those around us...

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Afraid to Love?

     Addicts are afraid to love... to love ourselves, to love others, to love life.

     Our attitude is, Why bother doing anything when we're just gonna die some day, man? I mean who cares, bro, might as well just get drunk or high.

     By plying ourselves with drugs and alcohol, we ensure and perpetuate a life of emptiness and failure. By becoming addicts, we eliminate all possibility. We have effectively enslaved ourselves. When you're an active addict, that's all you are. There is nothing else. There is no life beyond drugs and alcohol. It's pathetic. And now we don't have to do anything, to create anything, to give anything, to love anything, to love anyone... because we can't. We have let ourselves off the hook. There are no expectations for us for we have sunk to the bottom where we remain firmly rooted.

     If we are to love, we need to first become ready to love. How do we do this? We do this by working tirelessly on ourselves, by using the tools that we have been given in the Steps and in other practical sources of wisdom and knowledge to remove the emotional and spiritual sewerage within. We give everything, we surrender everything to this work. We give 100% of our hearts, minds and souls to this program, to spiritual growth, to God. We must give up everything we think we need to be okay.

     We have to let go.

     Trust me, we don't need people, places or things to be okay. We simply have to want God more than drugs, and He will come. If you truly want to get better, if you truly want to change, the universe will conspire to make that happen.

     What are you waiting for? Start loving. Get better. Set things right. Have a family. Have children. Then you'll see what love truly is, what miracles are, and how amazing it feels.

God, please give me the strength, courage and willingness to love...