Saturday, May 31, 2014

Knowledge vs. Knowledge

     I have this relative that calls me up every so often to tell me I'm a moron and that he's smarter than me. To be fair, he only loses it if I either suggest he go to treatment or don't agree that he's a victim. But let's help him out a bit by defining what smart means. From Merriam Webster - SMART (adjective): very good at learning or thinking about things. Showing intelligence or good judgment.

     So a middle-aged, depressed and lazy alcoholic with no job, no relationship, no emotional stability, no mental stability and no psychological stability who lives off his Dad and still blames everything and everyone but himself for his feelings, thoughts, circumstances, life and addiction is super smart? I don't know, man. I guess we have two different ideas of what smart is.

     As far as I'm concerned, you can memorize as much shit as you want and still be a total dumbass. I got straight As my entire life and was an utter failure and an utter loser, not to mention a selfish, self-seeking piece of garbage. What good is it to have an IQ but have the emotional sophistication of a narcissistic, immature teenager? I think we need to redefine what it means to be smart. The guys I know who can barely spell or complete a sentence but who are stable, secure, recovered, doing right and helping others are considerably smarter than any Ivy League train wreck.

     Knowledge has two meanings today, and they couldn't be further apart from one another. For sure, knowledge and understanding gained from life experience is quite different than knowledge gained from the classroom.

     True knowledge is what happens when we face life's challenges, figure out how to solve them, and make decisions on our own. True knowledge is gained when we learn how to sustain ourselves instead of depending on mommy or daddy to bail us out. True knowledge is gained when we have the courage and the guts to face ourselves, our fear, our depression and our addiction, when we conquer them through hard work and sacrifice instead of popping more pills. True knowledge is what happens when we stop whining and complaining and worrying about spending two or three weeks of our entire lives going away to treatment. We acquire knowledge and wisdom by fighting to get better and pushing relentlessly until we are free, responsible, capable and independent adults.

     So let us look at ourselves and what we are made of scathingly and honestly. Jump in, step out of our comfort zones, take rigorous action, help others, give speeches, cultivate relationships, work hard, try new things, start a family, give back, improve ourselves, meditate regularly, exercise, whatever it takes. Let's engage in repeated action until we recover, and then we will know what it means to be smart, dear relative.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Boy, Have We Lost Our Way...

Haha, wow... someone just searched for: "12 Step posters without God."

That's like saying,

Can I have a car with no engine?

Can I have a pair of lungs that can't breathe?

Can I have a heart that doesn't beat?

Can I have a body with no soul?

Can I have a bottle of medication with no medication in it?

Can I have a solution without the actual solution?

Can I get a Big Book without the word "God" anywhere? Sweet, thanks.

Actually, can I just get a blank Big Book? Perfect, thanks.

Can I have a big, bright 12 Step poster to stare at but never actually do any work on myself? Thanks, that'd be great.

Can I just please get the miraculous power of God to heal me and lift my addiction without having to ever believe in Him, admit His existence, or have any humility whatsoever? Gee, that'd be so awesome. Thanks!

Boy, have we lost our way...

P.S. Here's a little wake-up call for everyone out there sipping on the fed/cnbc Kool Aid. Please be advised before you lose your shirts all over again. Recovery a not-so-amusing hoax... The Retail Death Rattle. You also want to be careful not to drink Piketty's economically delusional Kool Aid as well, unless of course, you want to, like the French, completely annihilate the economy and drive capital as far away as humanly possible. And I suppose you could peruse this one as well, just for good measure... The Federal Reserve's Murder of the Middle Class

The Power of the Steps

     I know I write some rather scathing indictments of the medical Establishment when it comes to addiction and recovery. And though I've also tried to describe the power behind a rigorous Twelve Step process, allow me to elaborate on the profound workings of this solution. Words on a page or screen are totally deficient here, and despite the fact that it's impossible to truly describe something you haven't experienced yourself, we should nonetheless attempt to do so for the very future of addiction treatment.

     There is a reason doctors don't suggest this and send you on your way, and it is precisely because they have no idea of the sheer power and mystical events that can take place when one embarks on a thorough, rigorous, and fearless Twelve Step process, as it's laid out in the original AA text, published in 1939.

     Since recovering 9 years ago, I have been fortunate to see a few others do this work, and let me tell you, it is something you don't want to miss. It reminds and reassures me of the power of this solution, the power of God. Having seen it in others, I know that it is real, I know that my own experience wasn't just some aberration, just some isolated, mystical flash... perhaps even a hallucination.

     While the first two Steps are largely educational, despite the presence of humility during a 1st Step experience, you being to see the mettle of a man (or woman) after he takes a 3rd Step and begins to write a moral inventory of his entire life. Remember, this is a life exorcism - every single resentment we've ever held towards every family member, friend, girlfriend, spouse, teacher, colleague, boss, bank, school, institution, norm, moral, platitude, random person, you name it. All of it.

     Then your man has to find his own self-seeking, selfishness, dishonesty and fear in each resentment. Say you have 2000 resentments, that's 8000 answers you must dig for. And forget about being done as you then must embark on an entire fear inventory and an entire sex inventory. That's a nice little stack of notebooks filled to the brim with every bit of poison you have stored up inside over the course of your life, and you will soon spill your guts of all of it.

     As you see your man read his inventory, if he has been brutally honest, you will see him change before your eyes. You will witness physical changes. You will witness bio-chemical changes. You will see a jaded, hurt and damaged soul become vulnerable and then become an innocent child - red in his face, a softening of the eyes. You begin to see him filling up with something very powerful, something other-worldly.

     The man meditates and then once again asks God to remove it all from him, and after this 7th Step prayer, miracles can occur. The man becomes lit up with Spirit. It is a material change. He looks different. His posture is different. His eyes are aglow with the knowledge and serenity of God within. His bio-chemistry is different. Serotonin and dopamine levels have returned to normal. His depression has vanished. His mental illnesses have vanished. His fear has vanished. He is free and without limit. Drinking and using drugs suddenly sit last on his list of problems. The obsession to use is just gone. He has no thoughts to self-destruct. All he cares to do is make things right, help others, and get closer to God.

     The man returns home with a new attitude and a new understanding.  He goes around on a mission from God, making it right with everybody he possibly can. There is nothing he won't do to get better and stay close to the Source. He has suddenly become a better husband, father, son, brother, friend and colleague. People can trust him. People being to count on him, even look up to him. He is a changed man.

     This is the power of the Steps, my friends. Tell your doctor about it so he can prescribe something other than synthetic opiates to a drug addict. Tell your so-called treatment specialist about it to help them with their ignorance of addiction. And tell those other bloggers and dual-diagnosis pumpers out there who haven't a clue in the world about addiction and the Twelve Steps.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Ways of Telling if Your Addict is Recovered

Instead of running away from life's challenges, they run right into them.

Responds to the needs of others.

Eager to do service.

Eager to grow spiritually.

Puts their relationship with God above all else.

Doesn't mind working hard.

Doesn't mind being responsible.

Doesn't mind taking care of themselves. 

Wants others to get better.

Can walk through strong and uncomfortable feelings.

No longer avoids life.

No longer avoids pain.

Can suffer and has no thoughts to self-destruct.

Can lose a loved one and has no urge to drink or use.

Steps up and takes care of their family.

Makes amends to creditors and stays out of debt.

Doesn't behave immorally in other aspects of life (lying, stealing, adultery, etc.)

Has a glow to them.

Has a quiet confidence.

Can look you and the rest of the world in the eye.

Is no longer ashamed.

Is no longer fearful and fear-driven.

Continues to get stronger and stronger, even when they are vulnerable or suffering.

Is able to accomplish more and more as time goes on.

Willing to try new things.

Willing to go to any length to get better and stay better. 

Triggers don't exist anymore, and even though triggers don't exist anyway, they no longer perceive anything to be a trigger.

They are content and at peace.

You can just tell they're okay.  

Authenticity

     Ever left for a meeting or something feeling all confident and pumped up, and then by the time you get there, you're totally deflated, no longer confident, and altogether introverted? Yup, that's what happens when we try to control the way we feel. And the sad truth is that even when we show up the way we want to, it still doesn't seem to work out the way we planned.

     That's because other people respond to authenticity and are turned off by phoniness. So whether we feel confident or whether we feel quiet and self-conscious, go as you are, and your honesty will put you in the best possible space for the best possible outcome.

     Back in one of my dark, living in Boston phases, I was sort of off the heavy stuff and felt pumped up one day, you know, because I was only smoking pot and only putting down the better half of a twelve pack at night. That's what me doing well looked like. At any rate, I'd gotten some jacket for my birthday and my hair was long and obnoxious, so I thought I would take some headshots downtown to a modeling agency.

     I skipped out of my Jamaica Plain apartment brimming with confidence and high as shit on my ego and vanity. But alas, during the long subway ride into Boston, I realized just how broke, skinny and ridiculous I was. I got off the train totally deflated and walked up to the agency shaking in my boots. The girls were just like, uh-huh, whatever, and threw my photos in some heap under the desk. 

     Now that is truly pathetic. Maybe if I was on my way to do something useful, selfless, good for others and good for the world, it may not have been such a disaster. But that wasn't gonna happen, as I was just a useless and self-seeking piece of shit... and as far away from my authentic (true) self as humanly possible. 

     At any rate, don't worry about how you feel or try to control it. You won't be able to. Just do what you were going to do with sincerity and authenticity. Whether you're confident and charming or nervous and insecure, you still have a 100% better chance just being who you are and where you are at the time.

God, please help me to become more honest and authentic...

Textbooks Can't Help Speedballers

     Textbooks can't help speedballers. You can't think, know, prescribe or lecture your way out of the mental obsession. That's what it means to be an addict. That's what addiction is. It is an insanity that comes on and takes over. So if your doctor told you that science can prevent you from shooting heroin and cocaine, you need to stop drinking the Kool Aid, and fast before you die.

     Intellectuals should do drug addicts a favor and stay in the classroom pretending like they actually do something, because when it comes to say, speedballing, the only chance you have is to listen to the people who actually have the illness of addiction, who have embarked on a rigorous program of spiritual action, and who have recovered completely from a seemingly hopeless condition of mind and body.

     Intellectuals, doctors and the like will never be able to help a miserable crack addict or chronic intravenous speedballer. They don't know what to do because they don't know what they're dealing with. They think they know what they're dealing with, but they don't. They have no clue. They just sort of blab on and on and on... and then prescribe something. That's all they know - prescribe more drugs and go to therapy. And what could be more contrary to a solution for drug addicts than more drugs and more talking?

     Personally, I recovered by getting out of my head, out of the textbooks and theorizing. I simply acted. Good things happen to those of us who work hard. That I'm convinced of, aside of course, from outside forces such as government and central bankers that screw everything up and are hell bent on transferring your wealth into their own do-nothing hands. But besides the moral degenerates who run/ruin the country, all we can do is continue to work hard and take action everyday, and as such, we may get somewhere.

     Chronic speedballers have no chance in hell with conventional methods. Group therapy and role play about mommy and daddy isn't gonna cut it. Having an NA sponsor whose only advice is "go to meetings" isn't gonna cut it. Substitution drugs and antagonist injections aren't gonna cut it. Substituting one science project for another isn't gonna cut it. Listening to the Ivy League boys at McLean isn't gonna cut it. Following someone who has zero experience with the mind of an addict isn't gonna cut it. Chronic speedballers need one thing only, and fast before they die:

     God.

God, please help those who suffer become so hopeless that they finally reach out to You...

Monday, May 26, 2014

Question Who You Are

     "Those who abandon their dreams will discourage yours." - Orrin Woodward

     It was the people who told me what I didn't want to hear that saved my life.

     Perhaps the only chance we have is when someone finally challenges us, challenges our most precious and deep-seated beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, perceptions and opinions. Questioning who we are, what we are and what we think is vital to the growth of any human being, not just addicts. But the difference is that addicts MUST change or else we die. Normal people can continue to remain as blind as they please, but not so with addicts.

     In this sense, it's better to be controversial than not to be. I realize that the mainstream/statist news puppets have made that term a dirty word by linking it to everything they want you to see as bad or anti-status quo. They love to report lies and berate guests for being "controversial", as if being controversial, as if thinking and acting for yourself, as if being original and having your own ideas is somehow a bad thing.
 
     But the truth is that controversy is what makes the world turn. It is the very people who ARE controversial, who challenge the status quo, who challenge themselves and who challenge others, that make the world turn. So next time you hear some bullshit, try speaking up and see how you feel afterwards.

God, please shield me from becoming brainwashed and complicit... teach me to think, speak and act for myself...

Why Are Humans So Damaged?

   
     Why are we humans so sensitive emotionally, psychologically, socially, spiritually, you name it?

     Perhaps it's because we don't accept ourselves, because we feel ashamed of being human, having a human body and mind, with all sorts of natural imperfections. We feel ashamed of simply being who and what we are, which is so sad as it's totally beyond our control. We cannot change the fact that we are human.

     So to become untortured by our physical and mental reality, it might help to a) stop thinking and just be where we are, as neither the past nor the future exists, b) live deliberately and mindfully as in nature, totally lost in the moment - think Emerson's transparent eyeball from his essay Naturec) stop wanting or expecting to be anything more than who and what we are, and d) simply realize what we are, which is human, and relax about it.

     Nothing is perfect except imperfection.


God, teach me how to better love and accept myself, that I may let go...

How Not to Be an Addict:


   

Run in the other direction.



How to stay recovered:



Keep running...



God, remind me that the secret to getting better is hard work...

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Addiction Is a Moral Failure, Obviously

     Everybody knows that using drugs is wrong...

     Let's get something straight. Addiction is without question a moral failure. Why do people freak out when they hear that? It doesn't have to be such a big deal. It doesn't mean you're the worst, most evil thing to ever trod the earth. It just is what it is. But hey, for all those who think addiction has nothing to do with morals, please allow me to explain the following fact:

     If I lose my moral compass, I will relapse. Fact. My moral compass (which is God) is the only thing keeping me sober. Fact. Yes I was restored to sanity, but 9 years later, the only thing keeping me sane is that fact that I care about what I do. I care about the effects of my actions. The minute I stop caring about consequences is the minute I get sick and eventually relapse. And when we stop caring about consequences, what else is that except for a moral failure?

     Please.

     You cannot maintain a state of recovery without a moral compass that is alive and well within. That is a fact. If you can do the wrong thing and not give a shit about hurting others and somehow stay sober, then you're a sociopath or a psychopath, and in that case, you've got bigger fish to fry than alcoholism.

     Mutating myself into an addict was a moral failure. Drinking and using repeatedly until I crossed that line, broke my body and became an alcoholic/addict was a moral failure. Drinking and using excessively whether you're an addict or not is a moral failure. Continuing to remain an addict and failing to look for a solution to stop hurting others and to stop killing myself is a moral failure. Being presented with a solution and failing to employ it is a moral failure. Acquiring a solution and getting better and then relapsing is a moral failure. Regaining the power of choice and regaining one's moral compass and then using again is a moral failure, obviously. Using or doing anything once I've lost control of it is a moral failure. Doing anything that causes pain or harm to self or others is a moral failure.

     There is just no getting around any of that.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Recovery Inc.

     Allow me to post the guest blog I wrote for the Addiction Journal blog, a great resource written by a parent of an addict and fellow New England guy.

*

RECOVERY, INC.

     The very concept of recovery threatens the industry of drug and alcohol treatment. There is no money in recovery. There is only money in relapse, pain, struggle, heartache and destruction... 

     Where do you suppose the ridiculous cliche "relapse is part of recovery" comes from? My best guess is from the iniquitous dens of corporate marketers, advertisers and government agencies. If they can infect every addict and every parent with the idea that we are never truly okay, it all but ensures continued extraction of your life savings, IRA, 401K, college fund, or perhaps your entire house. But don't question BBR (Big Business Recovery), because everybody knows you need a $63,000 tropical resort with a sauna, masseuse, and some juicy tenderloin in order to get better.

     By the way, addicts love that cliche, which is, of course, a dead giveaway. To state the obvious, relapse is NOT part of recovery. Relapse has nothing to do with recovery.

     The last thing BBR wants is for addicts and alcoholics to fully recover. It would put them out of business. Actually getting better would choke profits and render the whole industry rather impotent, and we certainly can't let happen, as allowing failing businesses to fail is now sacrilegious in the era of corporate welfare. But BBR relies on the notion that addicts will always be sick and struggling, fending off relapse and depression etc.

     The fact that there are countless treatments for addiction is NOT because we need a zillion different treatments to address every individual addict's myriad of special needs. We all have the same illness. It is the illness of addiction. Trying to compartmentalize addiction is a marketing strategy. The more symptoms and the more dual-diagnoses that exist, the more treatments can be produced, and therefore sold. The pharmaceutical elite are no dummies. They know that the more disorders the APA creates out of thin air will only necessitate more and more lab cocktails, i.e. enormous profits.

     Part of the problem is that conventional treatment and even modern AA wrongly focus on the more immediate symptoms of active addiction as opposed to focusing on the person, on the soul, on expelling the various forms of poison within to allow something much Greater to come in and fill us up.

     To only focus on our symptoms is to ignore what truly ails us. Symptom management is the strategy of those who do not understand addiction. Classroom or academic addiction can be as dangerous to the chronic and hopeless addict as the drug itself. Personally, I believe addiction to be a spiritual problem, which simplifies treatment quite a bit, or in the eyes of the Establishment, simplifies it way too much. Recovered addicts like myself are the biggest threat to BBR. Why? Because I recovered entirely with nothing more than a Big Book, some paper, a few pens, and another alcoholic. And I didn't just recover from drug and alcohol addiction, but from anxiety, depression, fear, chaos, insanity, debt, professional failure, relationship failure, bad luck, etc., etc., you name it.

     The truth is that BBR purposely takes the teeth out of recovery. They must or else too many addicts would recover. Oh the irony of recovery as a threat to the recovery business. They also continue to remain ignorant to the very crux of our problem: the fact that we have entirely lost power and suffer from a form of insanity we like to call the mental obsession. Needless to say, it is going to take something quite powerful to re-insert Power and make an insane addict sane once again. I've never seen it done via man-made remedies, so as far as I'm concerned, this is the sort of procedure that can only be done by God. I am also quite certain that no addict can stay sober and live a good life without developing a moral compass, a spiritual life and a purpose - neither of which are commonly recognized and offered by BBR. 

     I personally have 15 years of direct experience with BBR. My poor Dad blew thousands and thousands and thousands on countless doctors, therapists, social workers and addiction "specialists" and not a single one could offer me a solution or even tell me what to do when I walked out of the door except to come back in a week for another 55-minute session of talking, which is probably one of the worse things for an addict. All we do is talk, folks. We'll talk you in circles. Sorry, but talking is not a solution. Nor is attending to our feelings. Or focusing on reasons and "triggers", neither of which exist. Avoiding people, places and things that 'make' us want to use is a useless endeavor, as nothing makes us want to use. We want to use all the time. We don't need a reason, or rather, an excuse.

     But now I get it. No doctor, therapist, or overpriced treatment program is going to tell you to just enlarge your spiritual life, take some right action, and then send you on your way. And yes, it matters who you follow. How funny it would be if it wasn't so tragic: Big Business Recovery will sell you anything except a solution.


C. A. Peabody
The Privileged Addict
www.theprivilegedaddict.com
www.privilegedaddictwriter.blogspot.com

Monday, May 19, 2014

Recovered Atheist?

     Great comment last night from a recovered atheist. For the record, you'd have to be considerably touched to think a Buddhist or other atheistic individual cannot recover, grow spiritually or become enlightened due to what is simply a difference in semantics. For further elaboration, do yourself a favor and read Thich Nhat Hanh's, Living Buddha, Living Christ. I've also tried to address this topic in several previous posts such as Don't Care What You Feel or BelieveAdopt a Belief? & God Isn't a ConceptI also tried to address this anecdotally in my book.

    Ultimately, all that matters in recovery is living right and doing right, not what we believe. Let's face it, what's the point of believing in God if you run around abusing the shit out of people? I think I'd rather have a friend who is a kind atheist as opposed to an asshole believer... and I'm sure there are plenty of asshole believers. I'm probably one of them.

     That said, I believe that Buddhism and Christianity are quite similar in moral essence and proverb. And with recovery, it's not so much about belief system but rather action system. What are we actually doing? How are we living? Are we treating others with kindness, tolerance and respect?

     The one difference, for me anyway, is that for an addict to cultivate humility, I think it's important to get underneath something. It feels more humble not to take credit for my recovery and the ensuing blessings. When I start taking credit, that is the very thing that gets me in trouble.

     Plus, I can't deny that God is responsible for my recovery because of what happened to me, because of the way the obsession was lifted. I felt His presence, His mind-bending power. It came from outside of my being and hit me like a ton of bricks. It flowed through me for a brief time, and fundamentally changed my mind forever. From that moment on, obsession gone. Thoughts to drink alcohol and use drugs suddenly had zero power over me.

     Finally, I'm not quite sure how many of us are really atheists. I know this will sound cocky and perhaps even dangerous, but God is not a belief in my opinion. God simply Is. God is more of a Knowledge I have as opposed to a concept, though I can understand the difficulty in accepting this if our experience with God only rests with others' man-made conceptions and not with any direct experience of our own. Indeed, man-made conceptions of God and definitions of the word "God" have most certainly led us astray.

     "We finally saw that faith in some kind of God was a part of our make-up, just as much as the feeling we have for a friend. Sometimes we has to search fearlessly, but He was there. He was as much a fact as we were. We found the Great Reality deep down within us." Alcoholics Anonymous, p.55

Thursday, May 15, 2014

It's Okay to Suffer

     Addict Newsflash: It's okay to suffer a bit. It's not gonna kill you.

     I don't think triggers exist. I do, however, realize that suffering exists. When we feel RID (Restlessness, Irritability or Discontent) and we go drink or use, we think something has triggered us. Nothing triggers us. We use because either we are afraid to suffer in any way, shape or form, or just because we love using. It's that simple. If you use too much, you become an addict. Anyone can become an addict.

     At any rate, most addicts fail to get better and stay sober because they fail to understand this simple concept, otherwise known as Life on Earth. We suffer in life. Sure we also experience joy and a myriad of other things as well, but it's not all roses and it's not meant to be. Life in a human body is not designed for us to feel comfortable and happy and jammed 24/7.

     I had to not only understand this but embrace it. In fact, my recovery revolves around this concept. I had to begin to welcome the darker aspects of life and walk directly into them with total willingness. That is the only way we become truly solid and strong and recovered. We have to be willing to suffer, just like every other human being on the planet.

     It's okay to suffer and not go whine about it to someone who is dealing with their own crap. It's okay to suffer and not broadcast it on the nightly news. It's okay to suffer and not immediately freak out and make war with it. It's okay to suffer and not run the other way like a child. It's okay to just sit quietly with our suffering and let it be. We understand that it is not only part of us but part of life. We own it.

     Embracing the darkness of life and the darkness within is what builds us a foundation of strength. Suffering without reacting builds character and we become living examples for others that we might help. What right do we have to sponsor others if we cower or relapse when the going gets too rough?

     Finally, being sober and pure is what the spiritual life is all about. When you read some of this new-age, self-help nonsense about states of rapture and practicing this or that because is sends you into lala land, that has nothing to do with living spiritually. The spiritual life is all about facing reality, feeling what we are feeling, being human and experiencing all facets of life soberly. The spiritual life is purity - pure experience and pure reality, without trying to change, alter or control things when we start to feel bad or when things don't go our way.

God, keep me close to You today...

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Narcissism in Recovery

     I'm re-posting this (originally Change is Internal) as I recently went through a bout of narcissism. That is, I began to perceive myself to be an extension of everyone else and as such I falsely believed my feelings to be dependent on what occurred externally (outside of me). In plain English, I started to blame others for how I felt, which is delusional. By the way, it is also narcissistic when I start thinking others should think or feel the same way I do about something... so feel free to disagree.

     But the point is, once again, that knowing all about my flaws is completely useless if I don't cleanse myself properly via inventory etc. so that the work I do actually works.

                                                        *

     Nothing outside of us can change us (other than God). We have to change ourselves...

     The problem with addicts is that that we carry this flaw into our recovery. Our self-absorbed frame of mind tells us that even our recovery is dependent on the outside world. We have a grand old time blaming anyone and anything when we feel like shit or when something goes wrong. Because we are so full of pride and arrogance and bullshit, we cannot see that nothing outside of us is responsible for how we feel or for what happens to us.

     We must be aware that our narcissism still pervades our perception far into recovery. We often think that our recovery itself is dependent on things taking place outside of ourselves.

     If my boss was only there when I went to make an amends, I'd be okay right now. If my wife would only do some work on herself, I'd be much better spiritually. If my family would only change along with me, I'd be more recovered than I am by now. If people would only forgive me, my depression would be gone already. If I had only gotten that job, I could've made amends to my creditors, but because there is no work, I have to stiff them, and then if I relapse, it's not my fault.

     Wait a minute, wasn't the whole point of getting better to finally understand that we alone are responsible for who we are, what we are, how we feel, and what happens to us? Wasn't the whole point of taking Steps to propel us into the light of reality?

     In order to grow, change or get better to any degree at all, alcoholics and addicts must fully understand that we are where we are because of us and us alone. No one and no thing gets us better or worse. If we change, it's because we change ourselves. If we fail, it's because we fail ourselves.

God, help me understand and remember that change comes from within...

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Don't Do Anything About Your Feelings

   
     Yup, that's right. That's the trick.

     When you feel like shit, don't do anything about it. Just sit quietly with your feeling of shittiness. Let it be. If you don't freak out about it, fight it, or impulsively try to change it, it will move right through you. In fact, as soon as you resist the urge to fight, change or make war with how you feel, you will have already begun to feel differently. Our feelings will constantly change and morph from one thing to another, and we can aid that process by not going to pieces just because we feel bad.

     That is a recovery gem for addicts, and perhaps for people in general.

     Needless to say, it's also okay to address our feelings positively. If I'm feeling stressed and I go to the gym to run and lift weights for an hour, that is a productive use of time and may help to shift my feeling of stress. The point is not to approach our awful feelings negatively, as that will simply compound the shitty way we feel.


God, please help me to stop resisting so that my feelings may freely move through me...

The Secret to Getting Better

The secret to becoming recovered is so simple it hurts: repeated action. 

     If we do certain things everyday, month after month and year after year, then we will completely change fundamentally (physically, mentally, spiritually). It's really simple. You just can't stop. You can't give up. We become what we do, thus if we 'do recovered', so to speak, if we live it consistently, we will become recovered.

     Great, but what exactly do I do everyday? 

     For me, I took and continue to take Steps to get better. And even though so few have a clue about the Steps, they actually contain a plethora of very specific actions. If you interpret the Steps properly from AA's original text, you will discover endless things to do on a daily basis:

     Praying, meditating, writing inventory, working with others, helping people, helping our families, being a better husband, father, son and brother, walking in the woods (form of mediation), exercising (living amends to self), giving back to our communities, being a better employee, being a more positive and respectful person out in the world when interacting with others, reading and educating ourselves, cultivating healthy friendships, being creative, honoring who we are, following our hearts, etc. etc. etc. 

     All of these and more are actions suggested by the Steps.

     So please don't tell me that the Steps are just some outmoded poster on the wall of your meeting that you can't stand looking at because they failed you. Please don't tell me that the Steps are not for everybody, that they don't work for some people, that some people need to suck on Methadone wafers for the rest of their lives. Please don't go there because if you remove the label of AA or the label of the 12 Steps, we're really just talking about right action. Take a shitload of repeated right action and you will recover. Period. Amass a repertoire of tools that heal you and then go and use them over and over again until you die. That is the secret to getting better.

     I used to struggle to do all sorts of things like writing inventory, exercising, working, facing people, dealing with worldly shit, public speaking, praying, etc... and now I just do it. It's easy now. I don't struggle to take care of myself. And the best part is that I became recovered in the act. I have a vast reservoir of peace and sanity from taking repeated actions all these years.

     And sorry, but pills and therapy and meetings alone won't build you this kind of reservoir - vast, expansive, deep and pure. We have to earn it. We have to do the work. We have to take right action every day, year after year. Go ahead, try it before you tell me it fails. Try it for ten years and then call me up and tell me how you're doing. Or take suboxone and go to meetings and call me when you need a ride to detox. Your choice.

     Finally, it is crucial to ride out the first initial period of suffering you experience after you get sober and begin taking steps and recovering. Without fail you will come crashing off the pink cloud, and for the rest of our foundation to be laid, we must suffer in sobriety and endure it. It is crucial that when we begin to suffer, we pack it in and stoically continue doing the work and continue taking steps. Trust me, that is a test we must pass to see if we truly want to live the spiritual life. Once we get through our first real funk in sobriety, that's when we even out and experience what real strength is. After that (and after finishing ALL of our amends, of course) it won't be too long before we become RECOVERED.

God, please teach me and show me what I have to do to recover...

Monday, May 12, 2014

Stigma? Nope, I'm Proud & Grateful

     Proud because of where I was and who I was and where I am now and who I am now.

     Grateful because my darkness prompted me to reach out for something powerful, and what I found changed my life so dramatically that I can find nothing but gratitude. I am humbled by what happened to me up North, and what I have gained is worth the price of being a drug addict and an alcoholic. No, I'm not kidding.  

     Many of us and our loved ones fear the stigma we will forever carry around with us. According to such a fear, I have the "stigma" of having been a drug-addicted lunatic. It may or may nor bring you solace to know that none of my history do I consider a stigma, and of course, all that truly matters is how I feel about it, not the world. Plus I've found that by accepting and loving who and what I am, the world tends to as well (Law of attraction, if you will).

     Sure when the moment came and I finally had to step into the light and become an 'open book' to recover, I feared the same. But what happened was just the opposite. Being an open book brought me freedom - freedom from having to lie, freedom from the weight of those lies, and a freedom that comes from acceptance of my past. Furthermore, the process I undertook to recover had such a profound effect on me that I couldn't help but have respect and even gratitude for my humiliating past, as it gave me the fuel I needed to create the life I have now.

     If the person we become is someone we love and respect more than the person we were, someone who stands with their feet on the ground and looks the world in the eye, we won't shun our past but accept it confidently, and perhaps even be proud and grateful for it, as ridiculous as that may sound.

God, thank you for touching me that night, giving me power and removing my fear...

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Total Loss of Power?

     "Whether such a person can quit upon a nonspiritual 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 a really bad alcoholic or drug addict, you may have no chance unless you give your entire life to God.

     I know what you may be saying,

     Hey, sounds great and all but what does that even mean? How does one do that? How does that look?

     Glad you asked, because giving our lives to God is actually quite specific and practical.

     By the way, I often fail miserably at the following so please don't take this the wrong way. I've said before and I'll continue to say that when I write these blogs, I'm simply talking to myself. 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.

     So giving my life to God means that I drop what I'm doing and go live a life of purpose and meaning, i.e. a life of service. If my job is purely selfish and spiritless, like banking or real estate broker etc., it means I drop it like a bad habit and choose service instead. Service includes jobs that help and serve others. Go work with other addicts at some treatment center or go work with burn victims at the hospital, etc. You will know if it lifts you up and keeps you close to God. You will feel it in your gut if it's good for you or not, if it serves you spiritually or not.

     Giving my life to God means that from now on, I never ignore my conscience. If I feel in my gut that something is wrong, I avoid it. Conversely, if I feel that something is right, I do it. I never engage in immoral conduct, violence, or abusiveness. I never intentionally hurt others, and if I do for some reason, I go make it right. Every time.  I stop being dishonest, self-seeking, manipulative, controlling, self-centered.

     Giving my life to God means that if my conscience has taken a beating and has shriveled up to the size of a pea, then I take actions that expand and restore it. I pray, I meditate, I work with others, I speak honestly at groups, I support and educate parents of addicts, I help my family, friends and relatives, I become a better man, a better husband, father, son and brother. You get the picture. Taking spiritual or right action will gradually repair your conscience, and then once it has grown healthy again, make sure you listen to it. Don't ignore it or bad things will happen.

     Giving my life to God means that I get quiet enough to be able to separate my will from God's will. If we pray and listen deeply and feel that we should make a change, whether professional or personal, instead of being selfish and doing what I want, I make the ultimate sacrifice and do what I know in my heart is better for me.

    Giving my life to God means that I put Him and my relationship with Him above all things, all people, all places, all jobs and all possessions. I must be willing to let go of anything or pursue anything if that is what it takes to stay close to God. I must be willing to go to any length to maintain this new relationship. I must put my spiritual growth above anything and everything, including my family and my job. Sure not everybody may have to do this, but if you are a hopeless, reckless alcoholic, you may just have to in order to stay sober.

     So the point is that even the most chronic, beat-up, miserable and suicidal drug addicts and alcoholics can get better, it's just that they may have to blow everything up and give their entire lives to getting closer to God, and then staying close once they get there.

God, please help me to be still and know, that I may separate my will from Your will...

Academics Are Useless

     "Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence, is the key to unlocking our potential." - Winston Churchill

     There is nothing more useless than an academic. Well, perhaps a few things, but not many.
   
     Even though I am a drug addict, I always blew through school. I packed my brain with book after book and remembered practically everything I heard, read or saw. I wrote essays an hour before class and memorized text books front to back so I could walk out of exams thirty minutes before everybody else... and yes, even when I was high, though I'll admit I didn't do quite as well during my falling down drunk phase.

     The point is that being obsessed and preoccupied with academics and whizzing through school got me absolutely nowhere - less than nowhere, in fact. Relying on my intellect to improve my life and become successful landed me in detox at the age of 28 - emaciated, broken and hopeless.

     NO, I'm not saying that knowledge is useless. I'm saying that focusing solely on intellectual pursuits is an empty proposition, for me anyway. Nothing changed in my life (whether recovering from addiction or having financial success) until I began to simply do certain productive and beneficial things day after day - like working hard, praying, meditating, exercising, writing inventory, helping my family, working with other alcoholics, speaking to groups, etc.

     My success in recovering from alcoholism and drug addiction, my success in creating a family and a business and whatever else I've done that is worthy has practically nothing to do with all the shit I've learned (except what I have taught myself and learned on my own), which is especially disturbing given the powers that be seem bent on telling the youth how worthless they are without a college degree and oh by the way, here's 200k of debt from JP morgan in order to get one... but neither party cares of course, as the loan is backed by the government and never to be forgiven in bankruptcy court should you find yourself unable to get a job in our State/Fed-ruined economy.

     It seems to me that perseverance, entrepreneurship and perhaps some financial IQ are worth considerably more than an overpriced liberal arts degree, especially for the next generation. But at any rate, it was through consistent right action that God blessed my life, restored me to sanity, got me from A to B, cultivated this connection or that connection, landed me here, landed me there, and now suddenly I can look down on my life and say,

     Holy shit, I've gotten somewhere...

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Disease of Alcoholism/Addiction = Disease of Selfishness

     90% of all search phrases that appear on my stats page are some variation of the same theme:

Alcohol selfishness
Alcoholics are selfish
Alcoholics are so selfish
Alcoholism and selfishness
Why are alcoholics so selfish?
Do alcoholics realize how selfish they are?
Why do alcoholics become so selfish?
Alcoholics don't care
Alcoholic victim mentality
Are alcoholics selfish? 
Why are drunks so selfish?
Does drinking make you selfish?
Recovering alcoholic self-centered
Why don't alcoholics give a shit if they hurt people?
Why don't alcoholics care when they hurt people?
Do alcoholics care when they hurt us?
Do alcoholics use people?
Addiction and selfishness
Selfish addict
Are drug addicts really selfish?
Are people with addictions selfish?
Do drug addicts use people?
Why do addicts act like victims?
Why are drug addicts so fucking selfish?
What makes addicts selfish?
Why does addiction make him selfish?
Are addictions selfish? (uh, yup.)
Addicts are so selfish
Why do addicts become selfish?
Do drugs make you selfish?
Addiction is selfish
My addict husband is so selfish
Why is my addicted boyfriend so selfish?
Why are they so selfish?
Does alcoholism lead to selfishness? 
Junkie selfish
Crackheads are selfish
Does crack make you selfish? (hahaha)
Is meth seflish (huh??? )
Selfish in recovery
Selfish even in recovery
AA is selfish
Untreated, unrecovered, piece of shit selfish alcoholic
Addicts are selfish fucks
Addicts & projection
Drugs make you selfish
Why do drug addicts hurt the ones they love?
Are all alcoholics selfish?
So hurt by alcoholism
Alcoholics are cowards
and the list goes on...

     So, um, I think alcoholics and drug addicts have a problem with selfishness, don't you?

Monday, May 5, 2014

Addiction & Recovery

     I recently wrote a guest post for a guy I respect who asked me to share some thoughts on the subject of big business recovery. Needless to say, there was some pushback, and some flaky assumptions made about my understanding and attitude towards addiction and recovery. So here are some addiction facts as I understand them... and I'm pretty sure I know what I'm talking about. Here is the link: Addiction Journal - Recovery, Inc.     

     Look, it's not rocket science. I understand that without a comprehensive solution, without the total removal of the mental obsession, an addict will relapse. I have never said, because it's not true, that active addicts who are suffering from this insanity can control it. Active addicts are without power, both physically and mentally. Physically, we will die without power over drugs and alcohol, but mentally, we do not have to.

     I also understand that for an addict to get better, he or she will need some reassurance that the solution they employ will provide some relief... that is to say, we're only going to live a sober fucking life if we feel okay inside. Which is why I'm here to reassure you all that there is such a solution effective enough to both keep us sober AND feel good enough to want to live a sober life.

     But it is without question our responsibility to get better, given the extensive damage we've done to others. Failure to do so or failure to stay well once we have found something that truly works is wrong and is most certainly a moral failure. You just cannot get around that fact. It is wrong to continue hurting others and this "disease" is totally different than those beyond our control.

     We are not born addicts. Fact. We turn ourselves into them by using. Even if we have a genetic predisposition or proclivity to use, we don't turn on that switch unless we drink or use over and over again. Come on, folks, booze doesn't crawl its way down our throats, nor does heroin shoot itself into our veins. Let's not be ridiculous. We use indulgently because either we are afraid to feel human and suffer like everybody else or because we just love it.

     And our suffering isn't novel. We are no different from anybody else. That feeling everybody flashes like a badge of honor in AA meetings about never fitting in, never feeling a part of the world, never feeling connected, well um, we all have that. It's called being human. We all suffer, it's just that normal people walk through it while we addicts cower and use. We feel like we have the right to use because nobody feels the way we do or understands what it's like to be us, which is just a pile of bullshit that we feed to ourselves and to everybody else to continue using the way we want.

     We don't become addicts involuntarily. Fact. We make ourselves addicts by using repeatedly because we WANT to use repeatedly. THEN at some point we cross over that invisible line and can no longer control it. That's when it becomes a reflex and a "disease", if you will, but nobody is born a full blown, insane addict. That is just wrong and it is a justification that we use and that our parents and spouses use to explain and rationalize our using and our chronic (and very selfish) relapses.

     Using is selfish, folks, let's face it.

     And just because we cannot control it, doesn't make it not wrong.

Please also see: Fundamental Error, Origins of AddictionThe Truth About AddictionAddicts Are Self-Created, & Relapse is NOT Part of Recovery