Thursday, December 25, 2014

Mainstream Propaganda

     A friend recently sent me yet another article that tries to prove scientifically that right, moral action and/or spiritual development should be replaced altogether as a form of treatment by the plethora of new designer prescription drugs that we now have available to us. As well, they continuously bash AA by misrepresenting the program, while stealing its very essence and trying to attribute it to their own re-named, watered down modalities. Welcome to the new world of moral relativity. See for yourself.

     "NIAAA officials say such [twelve step] programs still hold an important place in alcohol treatment. But they note that newer behavioral treatments try to empower patients instead, and focus on developing skills to stay sober." - WSJ Article - A Prescripton to End Drinking

     Does it not mind-boggle anybody out there that 'well-educated' addiction specialists know absolutely nothing about the Twelve Steps, while at the same time flaunting a tone of confident understanding?

     The Twelve Step program of spiritual action does exactly that - empowers you. People seem to think that admitting defeat or powerlessness over a particular substance disempowers the entire individual, promotes low self-worth and self-esteem, and makes us ashamed of ourselves. Wow. I gotta tell ya, that is not very astute or sophisticated, no offense. Yes we admit we are powerless over alcohol, but that is because one might want to begin their recovery without being totally fucking delusional. Second, the admission of powerlessness (besides being a fact of reality) is the very sort of event that DOES empower us. This is how you BECOME empowered, by looking honestly at yourself and by letting go of old patterns and behaviors that have failed you.

     Finally, there is an implication that the Twelve Steps end right there - by admitting we are powerless, worthless, pieces of shit. Um, folks, that's just the First Step. The rest of the steps are not only filled with hope but they give us several powerful tools and skills that enable us to maintain our sobriety and sanity, that help us grow and become more honest, that help us become stronger and more confident.

     The very criticism of these new-age doctors is the precise opposite of what the Twelve Steps actually are. And as these articles continue to go mainstream, they are infecting addicts and parents alike with false knowledge and suggestions that will surely lead to relapse. The mainstream is claiming that advancements in powerful designer drugs is the absolute best and most cutting-edge form of addiction treatment. Why do you think they pump that message, beside the profit motive?

     In case you can't figure that out, it is because God and moral action is offensive to them and they want both removed from the conversation altogether. It makes them uncomfortable and makes it difficult for them to engage in self-worship and intellect-worship. Trust me, this will kill drug addicts just as quick as the drugs themselves. But hey, by all means, go trust your doctor and have a ball with some concoction of insane drugs... just don't be surprised when you or your child relapses and doesn't change one single bit as a human being.

Merry Christmas.

Thank you Lord for restoring me, for changing my life and giving me all that I have. Everything good that I do is powered by You, and everything good that I have is from You and is You...

P.S. I know it's difficult for some of us to accept spiritual language and God, but that is exactly why I write about my experience and what ACTUALLY HAPPENED to me. God is not a concept or human construction. Sure we have done that to Him, but trust me, there is an unlimited, mind-bending POWER out there that is capable of anything. There is much, much more going on around us than we can see, hear or touch. This power is indeed, God.

     I don't tell people how to get there, and that's because a) who am I (who is anybody) to tell you what to do or to sit in judgment, and b) because we're talking about drug addiction here, and when someone is totally fucked in the head, you don't shove doctrine down their throat. You try to get them to just become willing, and then they can begin to heal, grow and strengthen their spiritual foundation from there. One step at a time. Nobody gets better or becomes enlightened overnight.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Does Your Program Really Work?

     I am a living, breathing, insatiable dumpster - a full blown alcoholic/drug addict. Perhaps the only thing I really know is what it's like to be absolutely powerless.

     But that doesn't mean we can't regain power.

     In fact, I am recovered and will never use again. I now reject and repel all drugs and alcohol as a form of spiritual poison. Until I breathe my last breath, nothing will ever be more important to me than my relationship with God.

     So the only question is, is our program capable of giving us our power back, or is it just a phony band-aid?

     That is a question we need to search for in the deepest parts of our minds, hearts and souls. We must be rigorously honest when looking at ourselves and our program.

     We have spent so many years bullshitting other people, the very last thing we want to do is to bullshit ourselves in recovery.

God, please remove any obsession I may have to self-destruct or to sabotage all that is good...

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Don't Wear It on Your Sleeve

     Some sound advice: Don't wear your shit on your sleeve and don't dump your woes on other people. Trust me, nobody wants to hear it.

     When you walk into a room flashing your every woe, you are bringing everybody down with you. This sort of victim affect is not only immature, but it is selfish and actually somewhat narcissistic. No it's not wrong to suffer and yes I understand that life is tough sometimes, but when we are spending time with others, the right thing to do is to suck it up. When our countenance is completely saturated by our negative thoughts and feelings, it makes others uncomfortable. Do we not have a duty to act in a way that we would recommend to others?

     There used to be this guy at the gym who loved to dump his woes on me. Some people might say the right thing to do is to listen to him and allow him to go off as much as he wishes, but that is the wrong approach. What he needed to do was to get over it, stop focusing so much on his problems, take some action and move forward. He needed to get over himself.

     Talking is not a solution, obviously. Sure we love to be heard and to let it rain down on anyone who will listen... but the relief, if you can call it that, is fleeting at best. Nothing really changes. Circumstances don't change. Your life doesn't change. Even the thoughts and feelings that bother you don't really change. They are temporarily masked by blabbing on and on, but once the woe-dumping session is over, they return with haste... and you are compelled to find a new host to emotionally blood-suck.

     How easy it is to assign responsibility for our own self-created and self-accumulated garbage. Victims believe that all of their negative thoughts, feelings and life circumstances are the fault of something or someone outside of themselves, which is, of course, totally false. And while we remain in this delusional state of mind, we feel as though our experience is somehow novel, different, and tougher than everybody else's, so we wear it all over our bodies as if it's something tangible, palpable. You can almost see the weight that some of us carry around, sighing heavily, hunched over and so forth.

     Victims who outwardly suffer are like those 'never-lose-suction' Dyson vacuums, sucking every ounce of emotional energy you have left to give. And while addicts are usually guilty of this sort of manipulative homeostasis, if you will, many non-addicts do this as well. Unfortunately, we now live in a culture that breeds this sort of dependent, victim-like behavior and frame of mind. But that doesn't mean it's right.

     So for the holiday season, let us addicts, codependents, and other like-minded 'victims' out there step back a few feet and think about those who have to suffer our presence when we decide to wear it on our sleeves and dump our shit on anybody and everybody who will listen. Do we really want to be that way? And if the roles were reversed, would we really want to deal with that?

Also see: Victim Mentality & Humility 

God, please give me the maturity and willingness not to dump my woes on others or wear them on my sleeve...

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Develop a Natural Repulsion

If we come to hate drugs and alcohol because they prevent us from growing spiritually, we will begin to naturally repel anything that takes us away from God.

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     This is how you get better. When you are properly educated about addiction, you come to realize the damage you have done. You also come to understand and respect the law of cause and effect. You being to see that everything you do has a consequence in kind.

     If we achieve physical sobriety but do not repair our conscience, we have little chance of staying sober. But if we work on ourselves spiritually, it will nourish and expand our conscience and we will begin to care deeply about the consequences of what we do. This process of the expansion of one's conscience is the process of a person returning to sanity.

     We do not need to have some white-light experience necessarily. Many addicts can undergo a psychic change of the 'educational variety', as William James put astutely. That is, through rigorous work, right action, and the development of faith, the addict is gradually restored and then one day he wakes up recovered. Obsession gone.

     Regardless of how an addict recovers, the secret is in beginning to care. Trust me, what keeps me sober today is the fact that I care profoundly about cause and effect. I know that if I hurt others, I will hurt myself, and my mind and spirit will become sickened. I heard some wannabe comic at an AA meeting tell the adoring crowd that he was still an asshole, just a sober asshole. Besides the nature of his message, it is also rather unfortunate that you have so many people in AA that aren't real alcoholics.

     I cannot impress upon you enough how effective the spiritual solution is. If the conscience of an addict is restored and burns like a fire within, he or she will never use again. The step process is simply a set of directions that we can use to do the necessary inner and outer work that we must accomplish in order to live with ourselves, forgive ourselves, and move forward. Some think that this blog is harsh, but trust me, if you could see some sort of visual depiction of your mother's and father's torn hearts, you wouldn't think so.

     Some of us need to rationalize our addiction or our child's addiction and to do this we see ourselves (or you see us) as a victim. But in the case of addiction, what seems up is really down, and this frame of mind is actually very destructive and unloving. Over the years, I've worked with many addicts individually, and while I probably come across in a much more loving way in person, the gift of candor and honesty is what changes them and helps them to ultimately tap into God.

     What critics fail to understand is that the approach will change depending on who the sponsee is. I am present and listen deeply to the person in front of me, and it is they who tell me what approach they require. The attitude of this blog is simply the approach that worked for me personally. I got better and stay better everyday by trying not to be a fucking wimp, so if you don't like it, read something else ;-)

     "Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail." -Alcoholics Anonymous, p.89

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Reality & The Spiritual Life

     The concern of the flesh is death, but the concern of the spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:6)

     I personally don't believe the spiritual life is about becoming 'enlightened' or achieving various states of rapture. I don't believe it's about leaving our bodies and minds and floating off into space. It's not about escape. Nor is it about trying to change the way we feel, which contradicts reality. Just as the cycle of the day involves both light and dark, so does human life, and the sooner we accept that and embrace the way things are, the sooner we will be free. We are here on earth in our bodies, for now anyway, and we should honor that reality with purity and humility. So spirituality, for me, is about being human, facing reality, being where our feet are, and taking whatever comes our way - inside and out.

     Many people do not understand things like addiction. An addict develops and maintains his or her addiction because of the people they are, and you've misunderstood if you think I'm saying that were all bad and evil. However, the fact is that we become and remain addicts because of our internal condition, which may (of course) vary from addict to addict. But when push comes to shove, it's really all the same. We are just not right.

     So why is it that doing the right thing and living by spiritual principles works so well to fix an addict? Isn't it obvious? And though I fail miserably to achieve this consistently, do we really have to prove the results of honesty, courage, service and right action? I think love speaks for itself, but regardless, there will always be some half-wit out there who calls me a new age satanist, or something equally insane... one of whom is currently a local principal for a conglomerate of taxpayer-funded, alternative schools for special needs children and adolescents, if you can believe it. What is it with people who feed off the public trough? But yes, your tax dollars are funneled liberally to all manner of filth.

     At any rate, AA was inspired by the conversion of Ebby Thatcher, an old friend of Bill Wilson's who had taken steps in the Oxford Group, a Christian organization founded by Frank Buchman, a Lutheran minister, after his own conversion in some chapel in Keswick, England. AA itself was a Christian program based on the Biblical principles of love, faith, kindness, service and humility, among others. Needless to say, right off the bat, and steadily through the last century, the language has been watered down to remove God, and more specifically Christ, from the equation. 

     This is actually a macro cultural shift to rid God and Christ himself from every aspect of American life and duty. When you swear an oath these days, you need not utter the word God. Children in school are being ridiculed, mocked, criticized and suspended for praying on campus, reading the Bible, and starting Christian social groups. My mom left a postcard at some artsy rehab place in the people's republic of Cambridge and I got a call from some woman asking me to come speak to the addicts there. She said, "But if this is some Christian thing, we can't have that... we're just looking for good AA people." Yup. That's what she said. And this is why you have lunatics out there calling me a devil worshipper, even though I am a Christian and love God. 

     The twelve steps of AA are a spiritual program given to us by our Lord. But based on some of the nonsense out there today, I can see how some of these recent assumptions may have arisen, despite the complete lack of humanity in the comments. The point is that we should get over the fact that we think we know so much. Who are we, the cesspool that is the human race, to pass judgment on anyone or anything?

     Bottom line, the twelve steps are a solution for drug and alcohol addiction. We don't need to get all bent out of shape about the details when the children of heartbroken parents are dying. And the gist of this solution is simply being a good person. And guess what? It works. When you are a good person, you can feel good about yourself and proud of who you have become. In fact, right and moral action has the power to turn your whole world around. So if you are trying to help an addict out there or you are an addict, stop fooling yourself about curing your addiction with some science project. You will never make it without changing who you are and becoming a better person.

     I remain recovered today because I am strong in who I am, because I can look at myself, others, and the world in the eyes, because I am proud of who I've become, and because I can sleep at night with a clear conscience. Trust me, that's something that suboxone and talk therapy and other secular remedies can't give you. When you are doing the right thing, you have no reason to use because you have nothing bringing you down, no heap of guilt and unfinished business to haul around.

     All that said, we can only maintain what God has done for us. We addicts cannot on our own power lift our obsession and save ourselves. We cannot take credit for restoring ourselves. That is the work of our Creator.
  
     He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit. (Titus 3:5)
 
     P.S. The book is going well, although it will take a while to edit because I refuse to put stuff out there unless it's good. I also don't have that much time anymore to write, so I'm hoping the universe will bring me some sort of literary agent so I can continue writing professionally. Finally, the treatment center is sorting itself out and I expect it to be underway soon. Will continue to update on all concerns.  

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Real vs False Self-Esteem

     What is this nonsense about how addicts already feel bad enough about themselves and so we should adulate them to instill self-esteem as opposed to pointing out and educating them on their character defects? If you want REAL self-esteem, you have to do the opposite of blow smoke up an addict's ass. Active and newly sober addicts should be torn apart because you don't want them believing in, validating, and giving worth to a false, caricature, addict self. We want to shed this old self and then develop true self-esteem in a new and sane self. And yes, this can be done carefully and with love.

     Sorry, but the soft, new-age, 'everybody gets a trophy' status quo is totally wrong on this one. Addicts are the last people on earth that should be coddled. Watch Stossel's new piece 'Parenting' for some entertaining illumination on the disturbing trends developing out of our macro swing towards collectivism.

     It is perfectly acceptable to rip ourselves apart so that we see the error in our ways and the damage we have done to others, so long as we do not devolve into a pity-pot, as self-pity is a form of selfishness. But if we never get tough on ourselves, we don't know what the hell we're getting better from, let alone how to really change. Plus, we haven't yet learned how to process sincere love and praise in the proper way. Instead, we use it solely to our advantage or even against the person offering.

     Real self-esteem comes from self-honesty. False self-esteem comes from frothy emotional appeal and smoke blowing. When you are talking to someone who is insane and causing harm to both self and others, you don't shower them with praise and compliments! Active addicts and untreated sober addicts who are recognized for certain qualities they may or may not possess have been done a total disservice, for in our minds the praise means you still accept us the way we presently are. More importantly, it also means that we can effectively keep you off our backs a bit longer and continue to manipulate you, which means more drinking and using unabated. None of these things is acceptable.

     So the message to all of you parents and spouses is, don't shoot yourself in the foot. While our brains are still warped beyond comprehension, you must act counter-instinctually. No you don't have to rip us a new asshole every chance you get, but don't lie to an addict, which is simply returning the favor, even though it doesn't feel that way. Telling us what smart, loving, wonderful people we are is a lie. We are not smart, loving or wonderful at all. Given our present construct, the reality is quite the opposite. Is it smart and loving and wonderful to use drugs, hurt others and cower from fear and discomfort? Uh, nope.

     Real self-esteem can only be cultivated through rigorous honesty and healthy self-criticism. If we never identify the false and destructive ways in which we think, speak and act, the self-esteem you try to instill will be empty and worthless. When we begin to think clearly about what is right and what is wrong, then we can stand with our feet on the ground and begin to feel proud in the REAL way for being a normal, upright person. What makes us feel good about ourselves is being strong, courageous, kind, tolerant, helpful and humble. What makes us feel good about ourselves is every time we take right action and do something that is productive or healthy.

     This is why the Big Book so astutely asserts that frothy emotional appeal seldom suffices. It's okay to scrutinize and identify our character defects, and this can be done in a loving way and with a loving intention. The intention is to free ourselves within. It may seem backwards, but this is actually how we rid ourselves from guilt and shame. Having some sanity and some clarity about what's right and wrong is what strengthens and empowers addicts and alcoholics.

     So let us have it. Let yourself have it. Bullshit is no answer. Never has been, never will be.