Why Am I an Alcoholic?

Why Are Addicts in so Much Emotional Pain?
Why do addicts seem to have a proclivity towards self destruction?
Why are addicts so inclined to blame others for their own choices?
And the biggie, why do our sponsors teach us to not ask “why”?
Answer number one: THE PROBLEM

I was in so much pain that I needed to numb myself due to a life-time of hiding away my true identity. By hiding intense feelings and thoughts away my pain lived inside me till I finally was taught how to let it all out.

Continue reading “Why Am I an Alcoholic?”

Although I Search Myself it’s Always Someone Else I See _______Elton John

Addicts are really good at one thing…”the game of denial”.  I blinded myself for many years.

Am I an addict?  Addiction is a symptom.  What other symptoms do I have going on that may reveal to me what my addiction was really about.

In a crowded room full of people would I be attracted to the sickest person in the room?  Have my relationships been riddled with abuse and betrayal?  Do I have a problems communicating on a respectful level when I am upset?  Do I fear my feelings because they make me intensely miserable?  Do I have a hard time sharing my fears and opening up to people?  Do I have a hard time sharing my most intimate feelings, hopes, and dreams?  Do I have ANXIETY, ANGER, DEPRESSION, LOW SELF ESTEEM?  What about mental health problems such as depression, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), PANIC ATTACKS, self harm, suicidal thoughts.  Or learning and earning difficulties, lower educational attainment, difficulties in communicating behavioral problems including anti-social behavior, criminal behavior?

Continue reading “Although I Search Myself it’s Always Someone Else I See _______Elton John”

HOW DO I GET CLEAN & SOBER?

If you seek a full recovery from addiction A.A. Works for some people, therapy works for others, and spirituality works for yet others.  Combine all three and you have a chance.

THERAPY

Be sure to choose a therapist who knows how to show empathy not one who just sits there like a bump on a log writing words you can’t see.   I say this because addicts suffer from low self-worth and we already feel like we are being judged. An addict will rarely open up fully to a person unless he feels he will not be judged.  When it comes to therapy for addicts it’s best to have a therapist who has recovered from addiction himself.   And if you can’t find a recovered addiction therapist then group therapy could work because of the feedback and relating.

AA sponsors are there to take you through the 12 steps not to delve into your emotional healing.  The statistics of suicide among recovering addicts is high.  I am basing this on the fact that I know several who have killed themselves while in A.A.  I accredit the suicide rate to the fact that so many recovering addicts don’t get the right therapy.  And they don’t address their true core issues.  The things that we are ashamed of are the things that haunt us.  Past issues live inside us and take on a life of their own.  Past issues make us sick, angry, and trying to fend the pain off causes character defects.

CHURCH

I recommend a Spirit-filled church (holy roller type).  Dry and Spirit-less churches whose members really believe in the gifts of the Spirit don’t have allot of spiritual power.    Make certain that your church at least believes in the power of the blood of Jesus and the laying on of hands for healing and deliverance.   Truly every spiritual experience I have had of high magnitude has been in or around a church where people praise God openly.   Miracles can happen anywhere but it’s more likely to find a miracle at a tent revival than in the bathroom at home.

ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS

There are many non-addicts in church who will not relate to what your feeling when going through a struggle with addiction.   Non-addicts are not privy to the practical solutions that you will learn at A.A.  By the same token many A.A. people don’t know what a complete deliverance from addiction by a spiritual experience is either.  And really isn’t that what actually took place in Bill Wilson’s life the co-founder and author of The Big Book and most of it’s literature?  That spiritual white light experience of his is what prompted the idea for the 12 steps.  So really why not seek both a miracle and sobriety from working the steps?  Why not use both solutions?

The 12 steps are not therapy they address our shortcomings and the need for confession and repentance. (step 4 & 5) You won’t hear it worded repentance and confession in AA confession is called a fifth step.

Every addicted women I have met WAS SEXUALLY MOLESTED at some point in their child hood and most were repeatedly molested.   Unfortunately the 12 steps don’t and step-work don’t provide a way for  true “victims” to acquire a healing.  If we hold a grudge toward our assailant then the steps do give place to addressing our resentments.  But simply jotting down the event in a one sentence format and then searching for our own guilt in the experience and what we did wrong WILL NOT HELP US HEAL FROM ABUSE.

Maybe that’s where Bill Wilson just missed the boat on his own emotional healing.  There should have been a step that addresses the pain of the true victims of abuse.  “Victims” are real and not some made up psychological crutch or bad habit.  Yes we need to get past being a victim and the idea can be used as a way to control people.  “Oh poor me give me attention that sort of thing.  In AA they call abuse an “outside issue”.  It’s understandable they are not equipped to handle deep emotional trauma issues.  But in my opinion those issues are why people become addicts.  So the 12 steps alone will only be enough if God touches you and heals you.

That’s it bottom line without God the steps won’t work and without giving rebellious addicts a way to seek God that is acceptable to them they will not recover that’s why the church shouldn’t judge AA and AA shouldn’t judge the church but they do and often.

The steps and Big Book do not tell us how to get an emotional healing from abuse.  And even if you don’t remember being abused, or emotionally neglected it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.  Many addicts don’t know what emotional neglect looks or feels like.  They will say they had a fine childhood, “my parents did the best they knew how”.  And they did , except;  why then are we alcoholic?  Emotionally balanced people don’t seek to numb themselves out on a regular basis to the point of self-destruction.  Emotional abuse by a parent can be just as devastating as sexual abuse or violent beatings.   Most addicts subconsciously grow up thinking they are bad and wrong.  Therapy will help us figure out why.  I think if Bill Wilson would have had a better therapist he could have felt free enough to let out some of the feelings that were causing him so much depression.

Bill W.’s depression is well documented. Instead of looking at “our part” on our fourth step concerning  childhood abuse (which by the way, could only be that we held a natural resentment toward our assailant for years and that we are full of false guilt over the event.  We do not grow out of trauma, it will live inside us until we give it a healthy door out.  What we actually need to do is find a way to go back to the events that traumatized us and express the way we feel about it from our hearts core.  Crying, weeping, screaming, moaning, and guttural sounds will do the trick.  But also talking it out with a caring listener who can relate to the pain it caused us.  This can heal us.  In AA they will shut you down quick over expressing past trauma and insist that you forgive or just “get over it!” before you are even able to express your pain.  We usually are unable to forgive until the emotions are properly expressed.  If you get hit in the face you scream ouch then cry! Then you can work on forgiving after the OUCH and tears are out.

JAILS AND INSTITUTIONS

What about rehabilitation centers?
Getting thrown in jail and rehab can be a good thing initially to get sober.  Sometimes we have got to be locked up for the first 90 days or so because otherwise we will not be able to get through the physical withdrawal.  Plus rehab centers teach many things about sobriety.  Having a detox center to help with the withdraw is good.  My theory is get all the help you can!  If your dead from a drug overdose having a house and job won’t do you any  good anyway right?

HOW TO REALLY GET SOBER?

THERE IS NO PERFECT SPONSOR, NO PERFECT REHAB CENTER NO PERFECT DETOX NO PERFECT COUNSELOR, NO PERFECT PROGRAM AND NO PERFECT CHURCH , PREACHER OR THERAPIST.  However, all these imperfect things combined can lead to your imperfect recovery.

A FULL RECOVERY

Yes you can recover.  AA works.  “THESE SICK PEOPLE ARE KEEPING ME WELL”  how ironic.    Those sick people , and they are will teach you how to get and stay sober but you won’t find many that believe in employing all three spirituality, therapy, and the 12 steps.  But that’s what worked for me.  After several years of all three you won’t need meetings anymore, why would you?  Meetings are not the program the 12 steps are the program.  Fellowship though, is a must in the beginning to establish sober relationships with people.  Also it’s suggested we go to 90 meetings in 90 days if at all possible to jump start recovery.  You won’t hear in AA that you will fully recover and no longer need meetings even if it is written in the big book.  Look it up , the word “recovered” is all over the Big Book.

The following are some quotes from the Big Book about being “recovered”.

“I will always be recovering, never recovered.”  This statement is not aligned with the teachings of the Big Book we do recover!

 

 Title Page: “ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS. The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism” (I totally agree with him on this one we absolutely do recover, at least I have.)

 

Page 20, paragraph 2: “Doubtless you are curious to discover how and why, in face of expert opinion to the contrary, we have recovered from a hopeless condition of mind and body.  (here, here!)

 

Foreword to the First Edition: “We, of Alcoholics Anonymous, are more than one hundred men and women who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body.”

 

Page 29, paragraph 2: “Further on, clear-cut directions are given showing how we recovered.”

 

Page 132, paragraph 3: “We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others.”

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NEXT ARTICLE:

WHAT PEOPLE HATE AND LIKE ABOUT A.A.

http://www.orange-papers.org/

http://leavingaa.com/why-i-left-aa-stories/#comment-123785

These two links are anti-12 step websites.  It appears that the sites were created by disgruntled ex-A.A. and N.A. members.  The Orange Papers site has allot of statistics true and balanced.  The “leaving AA” site is more just a bitch session by people who either have been hurt by people in A.A or they are trying hard to rationalize their own inability to stay sober, you be the judge.  Lord knows I know how guilt can wear on a person struggling to stay sober.  If their blaming keeps them feeling sane without really hurting anyone it’s ok I reckon, let them bitch and criticize as one.   They have a common bond at least.

I like to give a fair and balanced opinion about anything.  Leave it to alcoholics and addicts to have to label things either all bad or all good.  Addicts are notorious for wanting to put the “bad and wrong” label on anything they can.  (myself included at times)  However lets face it there are not many things in this world that are all bad or all good, in fact it is a rarity.  Even a good thing can be overdone until it becomes bad.  But when it comes to inanimate objects they are not usually bad on their own.  It’s the people that are wrong for using an object like a gun or knife for evil purposes.

From what I have read some people end up with oppressive and controlling sponsors in A.A. I don’t doubt that a bit.  I have been a member of A.A. for ten years…this time.  I have met the sick and controlling people.  I have seen the closed-mindedness, the liars and the sick perverted sex offenders by the droves.  As a matter of fact I think child molesters and alcoholism go hand in hand.

What these sites comments say about A.A. is probably true on the most part.  But what they are not saying is that they need to label A.A. bad because to them there is no such thing as something being both good and bad.  IT MUST BE ONE OR THE OTHER THEY SCREAM!

So does A.A. really work?  Well it appears that only 5% of newcomers will pick up a 1 year medallion and only 1.17% will pick up a 10 year medallion and 0.15% will pick up a 20 year medallion.  Now that doesn’t mean that there are not allot of people that stay sober due to A.A. yet leave A.A. for one reason or another.    I know some people who have learned the 12 steps and how to live them. They have people in their lives that they confide in and they are close to God… they don’t NEED the meetings when they have the program.  Maybe others no longer need to sit in A.A. meetings absorbing the sick vibes of all those emotionally handicapped people who frankly don’t open up enough in meetings to get better.  And with good reason.   They would no doubt get shut down and criticized if they actually shared their hurts, fears, and worries the way that they should be encouraged to.

If they could vent they would heal.  If people would get real in the rooms and tell the sick and suffering addict that they understand and have felt that way too then the program would be much more effective.  But instead people sit like vultures in meetings waiting for someone to criticize.  Members use the A.A. cliche’s as if they were weapons to stab the unknowledgable newcomers with.   Newcomers suffer while members make it a fault-finding meeting rather than looking for the similarities and relating.

I have often wondered why is it some people want to make people feel better and other people want to make people feel inferior.  If I were hurt by an A,A cliche’ that a member wielded at me as a newcomer, would I then wield that same cliche’ later?  Wouldn’t I access that the statement was hurtful therefore I would find another way to express a similar thought?  However I do see people using the same tools that hurt them to hurt other people.  It’s not surprising that many people just get tired of A.A.

Granted A.A is the perfect platform for a minister or counselor to catapult his career.  Some groups will allow any member with 30 days sobriety to take meetings into jails and institutions.  These people could have audience to hundreds of people in no time while they share their story and their own interpretation of what the 12 steps really are and how to work them.  Right or wrong if they are offering hope to the hopeless it good.  Service work is a wonderful thing if it’s done with kindness.  It does not take brash, and mean cliche’s to share the program of A.A.

Why are so many members so defensive when it comes to their 12 step program?  That’s simple in the addict mind things are either good or bad so if someone points out one wrong thing with their A.A then that means that the entire program is bad, which in turn in the perception of the insecure addict makes themselves bad as well because they are a member.  An insecure man with low self-worth is defensive because he feels he needs to be to make himself look better…and if his program looks bad he looks bad.

Feeling we need to defend A.A. is akin to thinking we have to defend God Himself who clearly doesn’t need us for It’s defense, It is the almighty It needs no defending because no one can bring it down.  Both God and A.A.  I think the only one that could truly bring down the 12 steps and their programs would be He who established it to begin with (and I don’t mean Bill W. I mean God Itself, Himself, Herself. (Choose your own descriptive word.)

HOPE & TEARS

HOPE AA

Even though I am crying please do not think I have given up hope.  Feelings are a part of me and should be expressed.  Crying is a healthy emotion.  What hope do I hold inside?  I hope for success in every way.  I want to get ahead in life financially.  I pray to accomplish goals that will provide a nest-egg for me and my partner’s retirement.  I pray that we can afford a new house not because I am greedy or ungrateful but rather because the one we live in is old and decaying. 

I work hard to get ahead and then I see myself fail.  I see some dreams slip away beyond my reach. 

I know what “time” shall make us become, if we live.

So  I regroup my hopes and set my eyes on the eternal, the incorruptible and have faith these hopes WILL come to pass.

Even if I don’t accomplish Earthly or carnal success now, when I die I will be with my creator.  That is a much more spiritual hope.  Salvation is not an achievement.  Eternal life is ours as children of an eternal creator.  Our evolution from birth as a human-aging-death-then we step into our eternal bodies.  

I will then understand the mysteries of our universe, I will then have a deeper and much higher purpose.

Then I will not feel pain, then I will no longer cry, then I will no longer feel the separation from God that has haunted me as long as I can remember.

Being separated from God is my problem

Dying (not suicide mind you) is my ultimate solution

I see now time is very short and so I better Love while I can and that includes loving myself.  I have no right to condemn or spank myself it is non-productive.  Self-punishment will not help me attain my goals.

What is your Hope?  When the carnal dreams are crushed reach for the spiritual dreams called hope.

 

SELF-LOATHING to SELF-LOVE -INTRODUCING MY COMMITTEE

_____ And finding my true self.SELF LOATHING 2

WE DON’T HAVE TO HATE OURSELVES ANYMORE….

FLASHBACK FEELINGS -I woke up this morning with the feeling of impending doom.  The feeling that I am bad, that I have done something wrong, that I am not good enough or am good enough and just don’t do what I should. 

The Old Me 

I had a dream the first year I got sober.  (I have been sober nearly 10 years today) this dream in early recovery revealed to me the personalities in my head that drove me to addiction.  In AA we like to call them the “committee”.    These personalities for me are three people.  One is a brassy red headed “bitch” for lack of a more precise term.  She loves to tell me how worthless I am.  She loves to put me down by never ever looking at my accomplishments or my good deeds.  This brassy haired bitch cuts me down at any opportunity.  If she gets her way….I will hate myself utterly.  She will never ever be satisfied with my actions and who I am.  She is the personification of Hate and if I listen to her and forget who she is I will believe her and fall into her awful deception. My self-worth will become skewed.  I must be aware of her at all times and ignore her incessant lies.  Giving myself positive affirmations and seeing myself as a literal child, innocent, good, and spiritual fends her off.  Giving thanks aloud to my higher power silences the bitch.  Taking a walk, going to a meeting, writing my feelings, fears, and thoughts, these all silence her.

 

My second and third personalities who wants to destroy me iare “sloth” and his brother “false pride” The first man lies in bed at all times.  He will not and cannot get out of bed.  Beside his bed are bleachers filled with an audience this audience watches him at all times and he is aware of them.  What this man wants me to do is stay in bed and do nothing like him.  No work no fun no social life no exercise no showers no shopping no eating, especially no cooking to eat right. 

 

Subconsciously fear tells me that if I stay paralyzed then the red-headed bitch can’t tell me my actions are worthless…at least that’s what the man in the bed thinks.  If I do nothing I won’t get an “F” on my report card of life.  If I stay hidden from the world I won’t be a failure.  But that won’t stop the bitch really it only makes her stronger.  If I let fear paralyze me it will cause more fear.  My mind will become more and more negative.  The 12 steps, the program of AA or NA, meditation, therapy, nature, pets, love, dancing, exercise, step five.  These are all solutions that combat fear and negativity.  My words have power I should never speak harshly to myself or others.  It hurts me by giving power to a supernatural negative karma.

 

The male personification also wants me to think that the world revolves around me and that everyone is watching what I do.  He wants me to think that people are judging me harshly, and that I need to perform and wear a mask for the audience in the bleachers.    He tells me that I need to put on a production, a facade rather than actually live my life for me and be honest to people.  He wants me to repress all my feelings and fears and pretend I am some perfect human with a perfect life. The F.I.N.E. syndrome- Fucked up, insecure, neurotic, & emotional.

 

My fourth personality is a little girl.  She is a victim who is afraid.  She doesn’t think that she has any value.  People have abused her and been very mean to her.  People that she trusted have betrayed her.  The little girl has been wronged and told that she is worthless many times over.  She is a direct reflection of my injured heart. 

 

My older sister was very mean and critical of me from the very moment she became threatened and jealous of me at a very young age.  My parents never knew they should validated my feelings and encourage me…I became afraid to confide anything to anyone at a very early age.  They made sure to let me know that if I felt it then “it” was wrong.  I was molested and abused and never ever told anyone, they did not have a role of protector for me whatsoever.  I thought I was bad and it was my fault.  This little girl was the wounded and sick “me” until I healed and learned to process feelings and fears. The other personalities are my survival skills as twisted as they may be.   Emotional processing and communication skills are CRUCIAL for women to maintain healthy emotions. Learn here:  http://www.recoveryfarmhouse.com/12-steps-and-the-right-therapy-go-hand-in-hand/  

THE FEAR LIST In Step Four

Emotional Healing
Sobriety Tools

How to stay sober

Getting to know our addict is very helpful.  How?   To be aware of the core reasons that we have tried so hard to numb even destroy ourselves is part of the healing process.  We should learn to love all aspects of ourselves and to be understanding as to why we did or do what we do.  We were children when our psyches were formed.  Many of us addicts just didn’t have a chance emotionally.  But we can change our self-image can change.  Think of recovery as not destroying those personalities of our addict but rather we silence them.  They are no longer on the forefront of our personality.  We literally built a new identity in AA.  Now Who am I really?

 

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Next I give you an assignment if you will.  I have discovered who I really am.  And if you are clean and sober you can discover who you really are as well.  Not the addict who would love to surface, not the injured child but rather the pure soul level person who was created by God absent of all the wounds,  flaws and character defects.  After we clear away the wreckage of our past by working the 12 steps and getting therapy who do we find walking in our shoes?  For a time it’s helpful to take on the A.A. persona.  Quoting lots of cliches and only doing A.A. sanctioned activities.  But at some point we are living the program, it’s now time to re-define who we are outside of A.A.  After all walking and talking like an A.A robot is just another form of fear and hiding who we are.  It’s time to embrace our true and innocent selves.  Here are my findings after clearing my own wreckage.  I encourage you to write your own three natures down.  This is an empowering exercise.

 The New Me

MY THREE NATURES

 

The Shaman, the Priestess.  I am connected to my Higher Powers and I hear my Spirit Guides clearly.  I do what is best for me and others.  I know my shortcomings and keep them in check.  I am aware of my core issues and work through them when they come up.  I walk in the Light, Strength and Power of God!  I have visions of past, present and future.  I can look deep into your eyes and see your heart and soul, I am spiritually gifted and use my gifts to heal.

 

I am a sensitive child of God who can be hurt emotionally because today I can feel and that’s good.  I am a human being and God created me with feelings.  I don’t have to claim I don’t care what anybody thinks because that would be a lie.  Wanting people to love me, care about me, and think highly of me are all God given traits they in no way make me weak.  I am a strong and courageous child he above all just wanted to be Loved and be fulfilled by her Higher Power.  I have to cry sometimes to clear out the emotional cobwebs.  I know what the world is I accept it but don’t like some of it.  I side with truth.  I love color and fantasy and the supernatural.  I am open-minded and non-judgmental.

 

My third Nature is a strong and powerful woman who in real life has overcome many obstacles and predators.   The powerful woman is athletic and a fighter if need be.  She is a survivor.  She-I am a writer and seamstress a mother a protector.  I have the power to give and to receive.  I know how to make money and get what I need to keep a roof over me and my Childs head.  I love travel and am comfortable doing anything alone that I do with a partner.  I don’t need anyone in particular.  I do not rely on anyone person I am self-supporting.  When I fail I get back up.  I am a student humble enough to be taught and I am a teacher strong and confident enough to teach.  I can easily speak in front of a room full of people.  I start the day with a knowledge of my character flaws so I don’t have to engage in them.  My Higher Power said (Jesus) The things I do you can do also…and more.

Guest Post “Shame” The Prison and The Key

By Adam J. Pearson.    Recovery Farmhouse Thanks you Adam Pearson for your courageous bravery which you have exhibited by addressing a topic most people run from.  The topic of shame is one that should be addressed by each of our hearts.  Until we examine our shame we cannot claim to know ourselves.  If we say we have no shame we have not examined ourselves any further than ego and false pride will allow.  We will not be ashamed of being ashamed!…..The Farmhouse.

xx bars keys

The Wisdom of Eamonn Perkins

Eamonn Perkins is a wise, humble and tremendously compassionate teacher from Ireland who spends much of his time working with addicts and prisoners. He’s so low-key that, as of this writing, he doesn’t even have a website. In a 2014 interview, Eamann said something brilliantly concise and and equally incisive:

“If you truly knew me, you wouldn’t like me,” that’s the mantra of human existence. “

I love this line. It’s so simple and so profound. It’s one of those ideas that is so powerful that it momentarily stuns us into silence. Words like these hit home somewhere deep within us and resonate with something in the darkness that wants to be seen, a hidden truth that yearns to come to light. I couldn’t agree more with the truth of the statement, especially in our current global situation in which we have so much information and yet paradoxically feel so lost, are so socially connected and yet so lonely, and are so encouraged to puff up our egos and yet so inwardly drowning in a sea of shame.

And if shamethe intensely painful feeling that we are in some way flawed or not good enough and are, therefore, unworthy of love, belonging and connection–is the cause of our drowning, then it’s no surprise that we’re all desperately searching for a lifeline out of it.

If you truly knew me, you wouldn’t like me” is the secret belief, the shameful idea, the “mantra of human existence.”

When we believe this story, we meet each other from a place of fear and put up fronts and facades. We operate from a feeling of inadequacy and hide out of reflex. We refuse to let ourselves really show up and be seen out of the fear of being judged or rejected. And very slowly and very quietly, this message, which is the voice of shame within us, begins to stifle life. Without understanding, we watch it happen, wishing we had the words to describe what is going on and the tools to handle it.

As if paralyzed, we watch shame crush our free expression. The fear at its core blocks our creativity and replaces honesty with self-defensive lies. It makes us scramble for escapes and distractions to avoid the excruciating pain that is fundamental to shame. And while saying that we would never want to be anything but authentic, we find ourselves so afraid to be real and not belong that we choose to be inauthentic in order to fit in.

Shame is Widespread

Lady Godiva statue by John Thomas (1813 – 1862), Maidstone Museum, Kent, England.

Maidstone_012
Lady Godiva statue by John Thomas (1813 – 1862), Maidstone Museum, Kent, England.

 

shame 2

This pattern is so common and yet so unspoken. “The less you talk about shame, the more you have it,” says the brilliant and inspiring shame researcher Brene Brown in her renowned TED talk, “The Power of Vulnerability.” “The only people who don’t have it” she continues, “also have no capacity for human empathy or connection.”

Shame is incredibly universal. I’ve seen it in the students I’ve taught. I’ve seen it in the men and women I’ve known. I’ve seen it in my friends. I’ve seen it expressed in the media on TV.  And I’ve seen it in myself. For 25 years of my life, shame stifled and held me down like a heavy and unspoken weight. I feel for, and with, all of those who struggle with shame because I get them. Shame varies in the details from person to person, but its core is always the same.

This is one reason why I’m open about shame, because I’ve struggled with it, because so many people do, and because shame grows in silence and “cannot survive being spoken” (Brown, 2013). When I do openly talk to people about shame, I tend to hear the same thing over and over again: “I thought it was just me…” Oh yeah. I know that feeling. Shame is tremendously effective at making us feel like we’re the only ones who feel it, when the truth is that it comes up in nearly all of us.

xx shame

Shame Itself is Fear, Our Prison and the Key to Freedom

Facing shame can sometimes feel terrifying because shame itself is fear, the fear of not being enough and being unworthy, unlovable, and rejected as a result. The basic truth, as I see it, though, is this: if we want to flourish, if we want to be boldly authentic, if we want to truly love and be loved, if we want to transcend fear, if we want to cultivate kindness and forgiveness, if we want to find peace, then we need to face shame rather than deny, repress, and project it. We need to meet it in an intelligent and self-compassionate way that works.

And that’s why I spend so much time and so many words writing about shame. Because it’s the substance out of which we forged the bars of our internal prison. And it’s also the key to our liberation.

***

spring 2014 Anna Maria 105
“The Flower hugs the Stem” We embrace our ugly parts

 

Resources on Shame and Cultivating Shame-Resilience

If anything I said above resonates, rings true, or sounds familiar to what you or people you know have felt, here are some resources that I’ve found helpful that will give you some powerful insights into shame and shame-resilience.

  • Above all, I’d recommend reading the amazing book “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way we Live, Love, Parent and Lead” by the shame-researcher and brilliantly compassionate and inspiring Brene Brown. This book literally changed my life. It gave me words for feelings I had felt for years and had never been able to express. It cast light on powerful shadows. And it empowered me with useful tools. I’ve read it 3 times. It’s that good. It literally changed my life.
  • In addition, here’s a wonderful Positive Psychology article on Brene Brown’s “Shame-Resilience Theory” if you’re into a more psychology-oriented academic approach.

If you want some down-to-Earth distillations of the core principles from Brene’s book as I’ve applied them in my life, here are a few articles that I’ve written on the subjects of shame and how to empower ourselves with resilience against it. These articles are grounded, not in hypothetical theories, but in both solid research and in my own experience and practice. My general rule is that I only write about tools I’ve actually used and found helpful in my own life. If I haven’t used it and found it to work, I don’t write about it.

However, you don’t have to take my word for it. Let your own experience be the laboratory and the judge. I’m right there in the arena with you, facing the same issues. We’re in this together and we’re never alone, even though shame can make us feel that way. There are useful strategies that work to empower us to work with these things and the purpose of my writing is to share them.

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“The Odd Tree”Is Not Ashamed of being different Photo by Laura Edgar

 

 

Here’s a brief guide and orienting overview to my writings on the subject:

  • “Silencing the Praise: Why Seeking Approval Fails to Fill Our Inner Void” introduces shame and identifies it as the name of the void we feel within us, the void that says we are “not good enough” and are thus unworthy of love and belonging. It then explains why approval-seeking fails to fill the void of shame because shame invalidates approval even when we do receive it. We are not hopeless, however; at the end of the article, I introduce a few healthy alternatives and powerful strategies to meet shame with resilience and compassion.
  • “The Heart of the Void: Finding the Assumptions at the Heart of Shame”  breaks shame down into two key components: a feeling part and a thinking part. The feeling part involves the painful emotions at the heart of shame (e.g. fear, anxiety, inadequacy) and the thinking part involves the core assumptionsabout ourselves that are at the root of the feelings. This article specifically explains how to discover these assumptions and then how to reality-check andtransform them once we find them. This practice is a powerful tool for our shame-resilience arsenal.
  • “Finding the Calm Within the Storm: Shame-Resilience in Practice” breaks down Brene Brown’s powerful shame-resilience method into clear steps and gives a real-world example of how I applied it to one shame story in my own life. I’ve seen tons of articles about the method online, but very few concrete examples of how we apply it in our own inner experience. This article was written in an attempt to fill that void and also to practice “the courage to be vulnerable” that Brene Brown champions.
  • “Forgive and Be Free: The Liberating Power of Forgiveness” offers a useful practice for compassionately addressing the feeling part of shame throughforgiveness. Forgiveness was a subject that I took for granted for a long time because I didn’t realize how powerfully liberating and empowering it truly is. However, it was a key part of the shame puzzle for me.
  • “Release the Past to Free the Present: Another Meaning of Forgiveness” expands on the previous article to explain how forgiveness helps us lovingly liberate our present from the stranglehold of the past. Since shame is powerfully rooted in our past thoughts, perceptions, and experiences, forgiveness thus is a powerfully compassionate practice for skillfully handling shame. This article explains how this works.
  • Shame sometimes expresses itself as catastrophizing or obsessive worst-case scenario thinking“Catastrophizing: How to Handle Worst-Case Scenario Thinking” explores the fascinating dynamics of catastrophizing. It also offers a powerful way to handle catastrophic thinking so that it ceases to drive us towards unintentional self-sabotage and drag us out of the joy of being present.

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Related

The Heart of the Void: Finding the Assumptions At the Core of ShameIn “agony”

Finding the Calm Within the Storm: Shame-Resilience in PracticeWith 8 comments

Silencing the Praise: Why Seeking Approval Fails to Fill Our Inner VoidIn “affect”

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6 thoughts on “The Prison and the Key: Why I Write About Shame”

  1. Pingback: Silencing the Praise: Why Seeking Approval Fails to Fill Our Inner Void | Words from the Wind
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  4. Lisa Kahale

February 3, 2015 at 5:58 am

Dissolving shame is like dissolving a poison that is killing, one drop at a time. In its place… space, air and welcoming of life. That’s what happened for me, finally.
Keep writing about this, Adam, it’s needed.

Reply

February 3, 2015 at 6:17 am

Well said, Lisa. I totally relate. Thank you for sharing.

Reply

Pingback: Shadow Integration: The Complete Shadow Work Process in Four Steps | Words from the Wind

QUALITY SOBRIETY

QUALITY SOBRIETY HAS MANY FACES AND THE FACE OF PAINFUL EXPRESSION EXHIBITS TRUTH.   I AM NOT AFRAID TO LET YOU SEE MY TEARS THEY ARE A MANIFESTATION OF THE NINTH STEP PROMISE THAT “FEAR OF PEOPLE” WILL LEAVE US.

The Diff recoveryfarmhouse.com

rfh sick

The face of recovery that shows no pain or tears is a misrepresentation of one’s true self and a deep deception to us all.

The face of recovery that shows no pain or tears is a misrepresentation of one’s true self and a deep deception to us all.

IS LAUGHTER AND CELEBRATION ALWAYS A SIGN OF “QUALITY SOBRIETY”?

WHILE SADNESS AND GRIEVING ARE A SIGN OF WORKING A BAD PROGRAM?

 

Depression is often repressed anger that lacks enthusiasm, 12 step action should be taken to fend depression off.  But also a deep emotional process of cries, guttural-outbursts, writing, sharing, moaning, and screaming needs to take place to release the emotional pangs misery that encompass the feelings of the adult who missed out on emotional Love and nurture while growing up.  “

 

Oh wouldn’t it be nice to feel totally secure & happy, with not a fear.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be aware of our own mortality and yet not fear the unknown when it confronts us?    Isn’t the happiest person in recovery synonymous with the most spiritual man in recovery?  But wait…truly any man facing his own reality on this Earth with eyes wide-open should be afraid.  There are entirely too many horrible things that can happen.  There are too many terrible things that WILL HAPPEN…THAT IS, IF WE LIVE LONG ENOUGH TO EXPERIENCE THEM. 

 

Don’t you just love those drug company commercials that relentlessly remind us of the many horrible illnesses that could befall us as we walk into our twilight years?   Struggling as we go to fend off the Alzheimer’s and decomposition?  Or how about the endless ads in the mail once we hit the magic age of 50 for final expense and burial insurance.  Or how about the progressive memory loss and thinning hair line?  Just to name a few…the better we are at “denial” of all this reality the happier we may be.  And isn’t denial dishonest at its core and contrary to every Twelve Step principal we have learned? 

 

Nevertheless, however rewarding our pleasant & various distractions from our sickening reality may be these pleasantries may not be in OUR OWN best interest.   Staying in the house of gaiety, celebration, and gratitude may seem like our highest achievement in recovery not to mention how we do enjoy appearing [above it all] to our fellows.   After all doesn’t our happiness prove that we are working the best program out there? 

 

In spite of the world-renowned 12 step solution of teaching us to grab pencil and paper to write down all the things we are so wonderfully thankful for, at the on-set of any signs of ill-at-ease.  Beware this 12 step solution may NOT always be [the-next-right-thing]. 

 

We may be experiencing on-going discontent and irritability for a very important reason.  Our discontent could be our call or the only thing that draws us to our higher power.  Perhaps instead of distracting ourselves from our sadness we should be accepting, owning it, then we should take a much closer look at the reality of our own impending doom as mortals.  This wake-up call per-say could be so we will seek GOD the lasting solution rather than repeated and temporary Band-Aids that we stick on our skin while under the surface we deteriorate along with our soul’s spirituality.

 

King Solomon the wisest man of all time has written a message to us:

 

Ecclesiastes 7:2-4

 

“It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart.

 

Sorrow is better than laughter,

For by a sad countenance the heart is made better.

 

The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.”

 

Gotta feel to heal and gotta seek God diligently to find.

STEP ELEVEN
STEP ELEVEN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step Five of Alcoholics Anonymous (2)

Topics: Fear Not, Step three and Step Five of Alcoholics Anonymous

HELP LINE

Suicide rate statistics among addicts.

“Fear not” is easier said than done. We need to learn the 12 step tools and especially invoke step three to keep fear at bay. There is no shame in revisiting a third step to remind us that God has our back! One of the first things we do when beginning our walk in sober school is identify, seek, and find a Higher Power.  Step five in the Big Book is the magic step that alleviates our guilt & shame but make no mistake, it is not a one-time job!  Unless of coarse your perfect or sociopath.

 

John 14:27
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  “
They say that the most used phrase in the Bible is “fear not”

 

The psychological make-up of an addict

Many of us when we were very small children were often told by parents that we had nothing to be afraid of when we expressed our intense child-like fears. Unfortunately during our forthright expression of true feelings our parents often implied by their lack of empathy and understanding that our fears were not only unfounded but ridiculous and perhaps absurd. These adults knew no better. 

Parents do not usually know that some validation of our feelings along with comfort and logic was necessary for our emotional health. Therefore our intense little feelings were invalidated, we felt “wrong” for being afraid.   After-all our parents knew best how we should feel so our fears must be wrong.  But instead of that making our fears go away it motivated us to hide our fears for shame.  My parents used shame to control me.  They used shame to oppress me and steal my dreams and hopes.

What’s worse once we got to pre and elementary school we found out just what kind of people express their fears openly. We learned about the scaredy-cats, the chicken-shits, the pussies and the yellow-bellies. We learned that people who express any form of fear will be ostracized greatly by their fellows and friends.   We must be bad we must be wrong!

And so we learned to stuff down those big fears into our guts, we learned to act, and we learned to put on the mask of fearlessness.   No-one would call us cry-baby again!  Ever!  We learned, even…to shut off our tears.  Showing any kind of hurt emotional or physical would label us weak.  So we turned our hurts to anger.  Who could blame us…we didn’t want to be labelled by everyone.  Between our parents and our school-mates we were really left with very few people if any in whom we could confide our true feelings so we could let them out. 

Most of us women in addiction were sexually abused as children.  We hid the feelings from that away as well…deep in our bowels lie the pain and hurt of a wounded, neglected, and abused child.  We did not trust that our feelings were right therefore we could not trust our parents to tell them what happened…or maybe our parents are the culprits of the abuse.  Either way we had no adult to confide with about the abuse and the feelings of self-loathing that resulted from it.

AND SO GOES THE STORY OF THE TYPICAL ADDICTS EMOTIONS…expression of feelings was off the table so what would we do with all those feelings inside us that were ready & able to cause an explosion of wrath.  We usually weren’t cruel people we didn’t want to take out our feelings on others so we beat ourselves up for being who we were.

We developed a voice in our head that screamed at us for things we said and did and things we didn’t say and do.  We became our own worst enemy. 

The self-hate, the anxiety, and the depression that we felt had to stop! 

SO WE MEDICATED!  After-all the last thing we would do is confide in someone so they could turn around and use it against us!

Ohhhh how the drugs worked, ohhhh how they made us feel better…for a while anyway!

Robin Williams-an addict in recovery hung himself today.  Why would anyone with all that money, in the program, sober for quite some time want to kill himself?

“Our liquor was but a symptom, so we had to get down to causes and conditions.”

I have a friend who is a therapist and in 12 step recovery.  He loves both programs.  But he has quoted me shocking numbers of addicts/alcoholics in a 12 step program who have committed suicide.  The statistics are staggering.  What you will find behind the statistics is an ability to express and share negative feelings. .  My friend insists that all his sponcees do regular fifth-steps in meetings by telling “WHAT HAPPENED AND HOW IT MADE ME FEEL.” 

FEELINGS ARE NOT AN OUTSIDE ISSUE, THE SOLUTIONS DO NOT LIE IN SHUTTING DOWN OUR FEELINGS AND PRETENDING THEY DON’T EXIST.

“WE ARE AS SICK AS OUR SECRETS”

WE MUST FIND AT LEAST ONE PERSON WE CAN TELL ANYTHING TO.

IN THE U.S. SUICIDE STATISTICS FAR OUTWEIGH OTHER COUNTRIES.

 

The solutions to anxiety and depression are simple but not easy.  You can find them on my website:

HTTPS://WWW.RECOVERYFARMHOUSE.COM

 

PLEASE NO MORE Feelings! & Is Step Ten Enough?

Step 10

Alcoholics Anonymous

“We are as sick as our secrets”

 

Which Feelings Need Addressing & is Step 10 enough?  I woke up in the middle of the night with an intense feeling of impending doom.  I felt like I was somehow in a position where I had no safety.  I felt like I was dangling miles high in the air with no safety net.  In my heart and mind I must be putting my well-being in the hands of the wrong thing.  It is not uncommon to sub-consciously put our faith into a cigarette or a pill while in recovery from a traumatic addiction.  When in that addiction our neuro-pathways had been trained to take the direction where drinking is a solution.  Sometimes in recovery our brain takes a wrong turn if you will.  All we need do is put our faith back on the right neuro-road where we depend on our spiritual God rather than a person, place, or earthly thing. When I was a very young child I remember having an intense realization that one day I would die.  It frightened me because there is no earthly solution for death.  It prompted me to seek and connect with my Higher Power. 

When I experience impending doom all I have to do is pray and tell my Higher Power how I feel (fear) and remember that He/She/It does have my back and the feeling of fear will leave me.  Maybe it was the prospect of death itself that haunted me.  Perhaps I had awoken from a nightmare that I don’t remember.  Do I need to write a fear list?  If the feeling does not let-up by prayer alone then “Yes” back to Step Four! 

The fear list is an important part of our on-going maintenance in sobriety.  You will find the directions for it in Step Four of the big book.  “But that’s Step Four I should be over that!”….So some say.  However my experience is in the matter of emotional sobriety and overcoming grave emotional disorder I revisit the fourth step as often as needed and Step Ten is far from enough maintenance to keep my emotions in check.

In Step Ten the book reads that we are pretty much cured of regarding drink & drug as a solution, this is true to any extent.  “The problem has been removed, it does not exist for us.” However emotions and emotional sobriety are another matter, if I don’t stay emotionally balanced I will eventually see alcohol as a solution.  Absolutely we do “recoil” from alcohol if we work the steps but will we “recoil” from being self-destructive or hurting others?  Or will we just switch to another self-destructive habit?

 

 

STEP TEN-“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.” 

This is a very limited prospect of which is useless without the rest of the 12 steps. 

Step ten works good enough for a quick apology or when simple self-acknowledgement of a defect then a little prayer will resolve resentment, shame, guilt or fear but if it doesn’t rectify my deep negative feelings a little more work may be necessary even though I have worked the steps thoroughly.  Truly Step Ten is not much of anything without the rest of the 12 Steps actively in place in our lives.  Furthermore without prayer and meditation we are usually not spiritually fit enough to take our own inventory anyway. 

Do I have any unresolved resentments I ask myself?  If so I need to pray for that person and if that doesn’t work I do a step four and five including “my part” and not eliminating “wrongs done to me” and how both of those have made me feel. If it brings up deep feelings I let myself feel them and I cry.

If I have a reoccurring memory of an event in my past and it is attached to an intense feeling; that is when prayer is not usually enough.  That does not mean I don’t pray.  It just means that there is something in my past that I need to explore with an empathic listener who can hopefully relate to the event.  I write down what happened.  Have I wronged anyone?  Do I feel guilt or shame?  Remember our heart does not have to make sense it just needs to express itself, raw, & without editing.  I share my feelings with a listener whom will neither shut me down, shame me, nor invalidate me for my feelings.  

Staying disconnected from our feelings is an old survival skill that worked.  To truly process core feelings we need to connect with them 100% and write, cry, scream, talk, moan, run, or even punch (the bag, pillow) them out.

Let’s face it folks some AA, NA members are in the business of invalidation.  These members will always look for the differences instead of the similarities.  Furthermore they will look for the “wrong” in anything you propose to them.  This may work for some people…but blame is a principle of co-dependency not a principle of healing in recovery.

Do I feel dirty, wrong, and bad?  We must not allow our intellect to cloud our fourth step by invalidation.  Admitting core feelings like “bad, dirty, wrong, disgusting, or cheap sounds embarrassing but these are the common human feelings that surface after living an addicted life.  These deep feelings need to come out or they will make us sick.  Let’s face it not only have most of us crossed our own moral boundaries when in addiction but we also have core issues that need addressing from childhood.  Oftentimes adults taught us that we were just plain “wrong” and that we don’t even have a right to be who we are and feel how we feel. 

Remember we in recovery usually reach out for some secondary dependencies or lesser addictions when we get sober.  You won’t hear it talked about in the rooms much but that’ what we do. 

There are two kinds of people in AA those who struggle and admit it and those who struggle and don’t talk about it.  We certainly don’t struggle at all times and we do reach a place of peace if we work the steps but we are never finished doing the work while human and alive.

Do not be too hard on yourself for that is a character defect within itself! Come on folks!  We are all doing the best we can for right now.  From what I have experienced in Narcotics Anonymous the way they sometimes ostracize fellows for secondary addictions it feeds into the sickness of keeping secrets, repressing emotions, and feeds our shame issues.  Some groups forbid members to chair meetings if they are on much needed psyche meds or pain meds even non-narcotic meds.  Intolerance and a lack of acceptance for others and their personal medicinal status is just that…a lack of understanding and empathy.   

In recovery we often struggle with sick relationships (co-dependency), cigarettes, food, sexual promiscuity, anger issues, even your non-narcotic prescription drugs…nevertheless we are doing way better than we were before AA and the 12 steps.  Do not think that your recovery is counterfeit if you struggle with one of these?  Believe me we all struggle at times.  You will find that when one of us overcomes ALL of our little crutches we then become highly judgmental, and our control issues hit their highest peaks.  It’s always something!  Not a justification just fact.  Best we accept ourselves and other as human and remember “OUT OF THE PROBLEM INTO THE SOLUTION”!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer:  Oftentimes people in recovery from addictions, usually men do not need to ever return to a fourth step after doing it once, they don’t need to talk about their feelings, nor do they need an empathic listener.  They are emotionally and spiritually healthy.  These type fellows have either had an intense spiritual healing experience or they have gone to therapy for a year or more and worked through their core emotional issues, or have done both. 

Alcoholism in itself is traumatic experience to our hearts and minds.  My suggestions in the following articles are for those in recovery who have a knowledge of the 12 steps and have had trauma in their past and are in need of an emotional healing from that. 

ANGER

SELF-AWARENESS

Anger & Resentment Issues

STEP FOUR

ANGER
In AA we are sometimes taught by comments in meetings and other people’s attitudes that it is a shame to be angry. We learn that if we have a resentment even when wronged we have somehow failed so we receive a giant “F” on our recovery report card! We get the feeling that if we are angry our spiritual condition is less than it should be.

Granted if we were made of Love and Love alone anger would be below us and not in tune with our own natures because if we were only Love we would be only Spirit.  BIG HOWEVER! No matter how much we meditate, pray, read the big book, go to meetings confess our shortcomings, work on core issues, call our sponsor, resfrain pen and tongue etc. etc. we will still eventually become angry and hurt because we are humans and anger is one of our primal key human survival emotions.   ANGER IN SPITE OF POPULAR BELIEF IN THE ROOMS IS NOT A CHARACTER FLAW. Wrath on the other hand is a flaw and also one of the seven deadly sins. The trick is not to allow our natural anger to become wrath by hurting ourselves or others in result of it. We in recovery must learn how to admit our anger to ourselves, God and another human in spite of our shame.   And so we say to ourselves; “its ok I am angry” and then we move on to the solutions of how to express the anger in a healthy way to let it go. 

 

We journal our feelings. We write a letter that we will NEVER send journalling all the reasons for our anger. We leave logic and self-conscience maturity behind and we write our core feelings toward ourselves, others, and our Higher Power if need be. At the end if we have wronged anyone, are not trusting God, or are playing God in our minds we admit our part. We ask our Higher Power to remove any defects of character. 

 

WE DO NOT BEAT OURSELVES UP FOR HAVING EMOTIONS. Our emotions should flow through us and out of us.  We addicts tend to hang on to feelings and not let go. We revisit our Third Step…we are in God’s care and we sigh a sigh of relief and giggle at ourselves a bit for forgetting we are human.