FORGIVENESS and STEP FOUR

krishna-christ

 

FORGIVENESS

Most religions teach forgiveness.  Forgiveness is a part of self-Love because when we forgive we receive peace of mind and healing on an emotional and spiritual level.  But, is it easier to forgive a stranger or a family member?  Don’t we tend to allow family members much more leniency where our boundaries are concerned?

I recently had an argument with some family members.  We argued back and forth and one of them un-friended me…temporarily that is.  However when my nephews new wife entered the picture and began verbally attacking me suddenly I realized that I had totally forgiven the members of my family and now despised this strange women that my nephew had recently married.  I found myself hoping for their speedy divorce so everyone would see what a bitch and traitor she is

Yes it’s a good thing that I so easily forgave my family but it’s just as important to forgive strangers.   I thought to myself; “screw that bitch who does she think she is?  She doesn’t deserve my forgiveness!”   However,  my unforgivness or “resentment” toward her is not hurting her at all.  On the contrary it’s actually hurting me.  Resentments are poison that live inside out bodies until they make us physically sick.  Furthermore a resentment can morph into full blown hate.  And then into wrath where we are lashing out and spewing evil words from our mouth.

Jesus said “It’s not what enters the body that pollutes it but rather what comes out of the body that defiles it.”  http://www.blueletterbible.org/bible.cfm?b=Mat&c=15  They say in A.A. a resentment is like eating poison and waiting for the other person to die.  And really every resentment stems from a lack of love for one’s self.  (Big Book page 417)         http://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/en_bigbook_personalstories_partII.pdf

Acceptance
A
nd acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.
When I am disturbed,
It is because I find some person, place, thing, situation —
Some fact of my life — unacceptable to me,
And I can find no serenity until I accept
That person, place, thing, or situation
As being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.
Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.
Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober;
Unless I accept life completely on life’s terms,
I cannot be happy.
I need to concentrate not so much
On what needs to be changed in the world
As on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.”

Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition p. 417 If I am angry at others it is something in me that is ill-at-ease that is sparking that anger.  I know this.  Please, I do not mean that anger is a “wrong” and “bad” emotion.  It is a valid feeling that is part of the human condition.  If I am angry there is a reason behind it if I can just get to it and understand it so I can let it go.

I have found that for myself most of my anger stems from my unreasonable and even slightly irrational desire to be perfect in my own eyes.  If I say I want to be God it soundS ridiculous however, that is the core character flaw of most addicts and alcoholics in recovery.  It is where controlism springs from and lord knows there are a boat-load of control freaks in A.A.

Ok but how do I go about forgiving someone I hate or am disgusted with?  Journalling what happened and how it made me feel in regard to my resentment is very helpful as well and is part of the letting go process.  Being as concise as possible when describing ny feelings is very important.  Words like “I felt weird” or “uncomfortable”, “uneasy”, are not direct terms.  If I felt insecure or afraid or the fear of loss, or hateful, angry lesser than or ashamed I should write it down.

 

STEP FOUR

Remember feelings of shame, fear, and insecurities do not have to be logical to be valid and real.  If we shrug off every intense feeling because it is illogical to our intellect or originated in our past then we are still repressing emotions and they will eventually come out sideways usually at those we love most.

Firstly the most  handy and simple solution is to pray for those we resent.  Again, they teach this in A.A. and it’s also in the Bible    Start by praying every day for the person we resent.  If that doesn’t work then write out a formal fourth step to get to the bottom of what it is that we are really afraid of regarding the resentment.  There is ALWAYS fear at the core of every resentment whether (Big Book step fourhttp://www.stepsfoundation.com/Assets/Documents/4thStepForm.pdf

I want to stop right here and interject one of the most important parts of the forgiveness process.  In spite of what A.A. teaches about “my part” and EVERYTHING SURROUNDING A RESENTMENT BEING “MY FAULT”, the truth is there are abusers and very mean people out there who have not and will not hesitate to abuse small children in unthinkable ways.  When we have been wronged it’s important that we don’t blame ourselves for not knowing how to let the pain and violence that was inflicted on us as children or adults, go.  People can tell us all day long to forgive and “let it go” but if we don’t know how to let it go their instructions do us no good.  Furthermore if I was abused as a child, as many addicts were it is clearly not my fault.  Many of us tend to blame ourselves and beat ourselves up for things we didn’t have “a part” in.  Granted if we hate our abuser then that is “our part” and we need to let that go by working the 12 steps.

It is apparent in A,A. that there are two types of people.  Those who are much too hard on themselves and are hyper-aware of most of their character defect patterns.  And those who remain in deep denial of their shortcomings and are incapable of recognizing their faults on their own.  These types do well with a sponsor that will not hesitate to point out their shortcomings for them.  As long as the light bulb goes off when their sponsor points out their patterns they can then work a successful fourth and fifth step….with their sponsors help.  The hyper-aware types don’t need a sponsor to further point out defects they have already beat themselves up for for far too long.   These types need a more empathic and nurturing type of sponsor, caring, compassionate, understanding.  Both types are being nurtured in their own ways.  What one man considers “disrespect” another man considers that same thing “love”.  To each his own.

Making a Fear List is documented in the Big Book as part of the fourth step, of which many people overlook.  Learning to identify the fear that lives behind our intense feelings is part of the life changing self awareness that comes to us when we work the 12 steps.  However these fears live in us at a core, or root childlike level.  Most people are ashamed of their core fears and rarely want to admit them to themselves much less to others in a fifth step.  “The truth shall set us free”.  If we address these core fears and share them their burden will be lifted from us along with the shame of who we are.

So many times we hear in A.A. “I don’t care what people think about me.”  When in all reality if we don’t care what our fellows think of us then we are bordering on sociopath.  It is completely natural to care what our fellows think of us and to fear what people will think of us as well.  Fear of what people think of us should most likely be on our fear list.  Ninth Step Promise “fear of people will leave us”, but not if we don’t do the work.  We label this flavor of fear “society”.

The next big fear is “security”.  who doesn’t fear losing their car or home once in a while.  Specially if we live from week to week or moth to mon financially.

The third primary fear of loss is labelled “sex”.  Fear of losing our sexual partner is a big on.  So many character defects can be triggered by these fears of loss.  Jealously, envy, greed, worry, lying, cheating, and stealing are all motivated by fear of not having enough money  or enough control over our significant others.  Where are they at?  What time will they be home?  Who were they talking to?  Why were they out all night?

So we right down our fears and then we go one step further…Below the surface, why am I really afraid of losing my significant other?  Two things 1. I am not trusting my Higher Power and 2. I have self-esteem issues, I don’t think I am good enough.  If I were totally confident in myself and in God I would not fear losing the three S’s, sex, society, and security.  99 times out of 100 if I am disturbed it is because I am afraid of losing and I am not trusting God.  So what’s the solution?

I repent of my lack of faith, trust, and I ask my Higher Power to forgive me and help me to trust Him, It, Her.  Also working steps 10 through 12 on a regular basis will increase my self esteem and bring me closer to God through prayer and meditation

The 12 steps work.  they were developed for addicts, thing is most people that work the steps do it at a very superficial level.  Few people will admit that they fear and have self-esteem issues.  Obviously is I have low self-esteem it will make me very ashamed and uncomfortable to broach the topic in a candid way.

 

SOBRIETY TOOLS

TOOLS TO STAY CLEAN AND SOBER

THE SAME THINGS I DID TO STAY SOBER NINE YEARS AGO I DO TO KEEP ME SOBER TODAY.  TEMPTATION STRIKES AT NINE YEARS SOBER!  DOES THAT MEAN MY SOBRIETY IS NOT QUALITY SOBRIETY?  

I used to love to drink the frothy brown head on the top of a cold Amber Bock or Dark Heineken beer.  I preferred my beer nearly frozen.  I would chug down the first one till I remember getting a warm fuzzy feeling in the pit of my stomach.  Then I felt the alcohol coarse through my veins almost like a shot of heroin straight into my blood stream.  I would sit around with my friends connecting on a level that made me feel brotherhood and a sense of belonging.  I had found my place in life and it took alcohol to get me there.  

So when I walked to my neighbor’s house yesterday to pick up my little dog I was a bit taken by the ice cold cooler full of Amber Bock and the fellowship that I found.  At nine years sober I must admit my mind went to a place where I asked myself, “Can I safely drink?  After all I am a different person now.”  When they kindly offered me a beer I laughed and told them that I quit nine years prior and that drinking got me in trouble.  They laughed and said, “We thought that was the whole reason TO drink….to get in trouble that is”.  I kindly laughed-back enjoying the prospect of being enabled by alcohol to do the things that my pesky conscience wouldn’t allow.  And is that the “why” behind the wealthy man’s reason to drink as well as the poor man’s?  Who knows?  All I could remember were the good times and that’s ok temporarily that is.   I did have some good memories of drinking and met some wonderful people.

The counselors at Bridge house Rehab gave us a little sobriety tool called “play it through”.  This tool, if you really do want to be free from the miseries drinking brings, works.  It works for me and it works for those I got sober with back in 2006 who are still around.   

My brain’s travelling neurons then took an abrupt turn into an exit ramp and caught my pain-staking-ly built sobriety bridge.  By doing the “next right thing” and by God’s grace I have built a bridge over the carved out and well used roads in my brain labelled “This way to Hell”.  After nine years of recovery my minds neurons have learned to travel on the well-lit highways or “neural-pathways” of sobriety.  And what did I find on my well lit road leading me away from the Hell that I have had enough of?  You guessed it, I found awareness.   I recovered the memories of the hangovers, the regrets, the wrongs I committed, and my destructive actions.   I found memories of throwing up, of waking up so thirsty from a black-out that was so deep it could only have been induced by poisoning my brain.  I remembered crashing my vehicles, and the regret of sleeping with countless men just so I could feel I had some value.  I remembered the jails.   I remembered my moral compass and self-esteem being crushed even further into the dirt.  I remembered doing the things that a hurt child of God does while just trying to make sense of a young life filled with betrayal, evil, hurt and pain.  And so I knew then as I sat on my neighbor’s porch that drinking was not my choice, not today and hopefully never again.

SO IS MY SOBRIETY QUALITY?  I DIDN’T DRINK, I USED THE TOOLS, I DIDN’T DISRESPECT OR JUDGE MY DRINKING NEIGHBORS, I AM NOT ASHAMED OF WHO I AM AND MY THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS.  QUALITY SOBRIETY HAS MANY FACES INCLUDING A FACE OF PAIN.  BUT THROUGH IT ALL IT HAS A FACE THAT HAS EYES TO SEE PAST THE EVIL INTO THE GOOD.  YOU BE THE JUDGE.

A.A. HIGHER POWER

God is Love. I have run the gambit where religion and spirituality are concerned.   

I believe in Christ He is my higher power.  I use the terms “He” and “Him” even though I believe my Higher Powers are Spirit not flesh.  I also believe they could become flesh anytime they want.  I use the “Him” term because I am just so used to it, I do hope it doesn’t put you off. 

Anyway Before I met Christ I had a prayerful relationship with who I call “God the father”.  Christ brought me closer to, God the Father.  I had one drastic life altering white light experience where I was delivered, yes delivered (one of those religious terms unpalatable to many especially to recovering Catholics & addicts) from a life of deep and twisted addition.  I learned allot about God’s Grace and unconditional Love after I turned my back on Him by sinking into a deep dark and long relapse.  I say I learned much about His grace because he again pulled me from the mire and brought me into the program of AA. 

The first time I got sober due to my white light experience I was also involved in NA.  I didn’t work the steps or get a sponsor.  The second time I got sober I pretty much did everything suggested and learned and worked the steps more thoroughly than most woman I know.  (I can say that because I have worked the 12 steps with countless woman and I know to what depth of awareness they worked.  Granted this doesn’t make me better or of more value than any soul just self-aware.  False humility is not one of my defects I won’t hide behind a mask of false bravado pretending to be unaware of my own accomplishments for fear that acknowledging my progress would be vain or defective.  (Pet-peeve sorry) There is a thing called footwork and I have done plenty of it!  I won’t stand by and say I don’t know anything either as I have seen countless both blessed and knowledgeable men do.  That would be dishonest of me wouldn’t it seeing that I KNOW different.

These misguided attitudes are a luxury to those who perhaps fear that if they did acknowledge any goodness in themselves or acknowledge that they achieved (for lack of a better term) an “A” or “B” level of recovery they would quickly be swept away by the false pride that would send them plummeting to their last and final grave & incomprehensible relapse.  Let me point out that one character defect (false humility) will not protect oneself from another character defect (false-pride).  It’s not the little quirkish traditions of local AA lore that get and keep us sober.  And certainly self-degradation won’t keep me close to God or sober for that matter. 

Let me also clarify what humility really is, it is the awareness of one’s own character flaws or patterns.  We acknowledge these patterns not so we can publicly announce them but rather so we may avoid acting them out.  Sitting in a meeting and stating that I am garbage without God and the program implies that God does make junk.  Do I need God to be good and stay on track?  Hell yes!  However no matter how reliant upon my Higher Power I am cutting myself down openly or privately is a form of condemnation, harsh judgment and criticism. 

Ok back on topic…God the supercomputer.  For us Bible believing folks we like to validate ideas by lining them up with the word.  It’s written that “man was made in the image of God.”  The Bible speaks of the “hand of God” and other various body parts such as His eyes, arm, and mind.  Scientists have proven that our human brains are a computer of sorts.  A fleshly computer to be precise.  In deep meditation I have had many visions but most recently I have had visions that make me believe God can download us mere mortals with any program he wishes.  He can change out our hard drive or do a complete recovery on us.  Is it coincidence that when you clean out a computer it is called a “recovery”?   Ok I know what your thinking…Lori’s cheese has finally fallen off the cracker. Lol!

When I was delivered from addiction the first time around I was clean for years I stayed on a pink cloud for at least a year.  Prior to that I was plagued with anxiety, and panic attacks, I was a heroin and cocaine junky who had to have a shot of dope to get out of bed in the morning.  After one touch from God my thinking was changed dramatically.  I no longer had anxiety or panic attacks.  After one download in a little Baptist church in the meadow.  As windows 8 calls it, by one “refresh” I was set in a direction of service and Love toward mankind.  I received a new operating system with my files or memories left intact.  My resentments were quelled and my sickness abated.  I loved my mother again that in itself was a miracle. 

Let’s face it folks steps 10, 11, and 12 are the maintenance steps when I meditate I get spiritually fed, I get a disk defragging, a disk cleaning, and vital updates.  Why is it different this time clean and sober for me?  Granted I had much joy my first round of sobriety, I learned allot, I changed in a huge way morally and I became Loving but God had only begun my overhaul.  The first time I was sober I didn’t wholeheartedly believe that I was a good child of God.  I believed with my head but my heart deep down was telling me that I was bad and of Satan.  I still carried deep shame within my heart from the sexual abuse I suffered as a child and my actions during years of addiction.  Deep down I knew I would screw things up again.  Why? 

There are three things that I did different this time (I got sober this time in 2006) One; this time I worked the steps with a sponsor honestly and thoroughly, everything came out in my fifth step.  Two, I got empathic recovery therapy and learned how to continually share my true, illogical and fearful heartfelt inner feelings.  People are usually ashamed of their true feelings because nobody (well most people) wants to be vulnerable or be looked upon as different.  The thing is everybody except perhaps true sociopaths have illogical fears and deep child-like feelings that they don’t like about themselves.  So we cover them up with the mask, distractions and lies.  Therapy taught me to vent these feelings so they don’t fester, or turn to rage, and obsession.  Thirdly this time I practiced meditation on a regular basis for the first six years I was sober.  What this did is open my mind to receive God’s blessings.  Meditation improved every aspect of my recovery and most importantly helped heal me both emotionally and spiritually.  

When I say “meditation” I don’t mean picking up a book and reading a passage.  I am talking about the kind of meditation that takes an hour a day to be still, silent, and open.  Meditation when practiced regularly brings a steady flow of continuous spiritual experiences that can move mountains and heal the heart the soul and the mind.

Funny thing…different things have different ways of communicating.  Animals have their own way, humans speak to humans verbally, computers have their own language, electricity speaks to the light bulb and it reacts, the light speaks to our atmosphere and it reacts and becomes visual, the sun speaks to the flower, the moon speaks to the Earth, even water speaks to our bodies and we live.  Action and reaction but how does man speak to God?  Should we use our tongue as if God were a man that has ears…perhaps so but God my friend “looks upon the heart” so it is written.  Should we not try seeking God with words straight from our heart and then talk to Him with our minds as well? 

Seek and you shall find but seek with your hearts language for it is the language of truth absent of all the editing that our mind thinks should be done.  For out of the heart bursts forth the well-springs of life.  Eternal Life“  

What is logical to the mind is folly to the heart and what is truth to the heart is valid to God.”   

Medications & Recovery

 

THE TOTALLY CONTROVERSIAL TOPIC OF: TAKING MEDS WHILE IN TWELVE STEP RECOVERY.

FINDING THE PERFECT BALANCE THAT LIES SOMEWHERE BETWEEN “MARTYR” & DOPE FIEND.

AA put out a pamphlet on medications & recovery.  In a nutshell it’s easy to anticipate AA’s stance if you have read the Big Book. Listen to your doctor, doctors are good, we members are not physicians etc.  http://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/p-11_aamembersMedDrug.pdf  Or rather a group of AA’s members and their stance on taking medications while in recovery.   There are many drug-addict/alcoholics in AA who have medicinal needs whether it me psychological meds or pain meds.  It seems to me that the recovering alcohol-addicts who wrote the AA pamphlet do not have a well-rounded view of doctors and their common practices.  CLEARLY BY MY OWN EXPERIENCE AND THOSE CLOSE TO ME DOCTORS DO NOT ALWAYS HAVE THE PATIENTS WELL BEING AT HEART.  How can they help no promoting drugs that they are getting kick-backs from the drug company for…and it’s completely legal.

The AA pamphlet called, “THE AA MEMBER: MEDICATIONS & OTHER DRUGS” which, mind you is full of good advice, excuse me “suggestions”….well, under certain circumstances  it would be good advice.  Unless of coarse, your doctor is harboring a century old resentment toward his alcoholic & addict parents for instance…not such a good idea to spill your wide-eyed confession out onto the highly toxic floor.   Then there’s the doctor who goes right to treating the symptoms, the hell with healings & causes!   He applies drugs no matter what the ailment in spite of what his (perceived) feeble-minded patient informs him of.  What does a patient know after all?  Uneducated and below his own social status.  This kind of doctor will object to any curtailing of his normal methods of doctoring.  This kind of doc seldom listens to any patient.

Really?  Does everybody just automatically take the doctors prognosis as gospel?  Seems like the people I have heard share in AA on this topic have absolutely no inclination what-so-ever to question a doctor’s advice….I find that odd.   I have repeatedly heard physicians painted as all-knowing saints who should never be questioned by the lowly and  conniving alcoholic.  In my subconscious I am wondering what’s behind that kind of blind faith in any human being.  

And just to stray off topic a bit…assuming that every addict lied and cheated his way into his oh-so-successful addiction is an assumption that reveals the character of he who assumes.  Everybody lies at one time or another, yes.  But not everyone stooped to a standard level of “if they’re mouth is moving they are lying” I came from the school of “honor among thieves”.    But oh_________ how some people love to brag in a packed meeting about their “stealing your dope and then helping you look for it.”     It’s only a fifth step confession by the way if your feeling at least a little guilty about it.   Boasting is a whole other matter folks categorized under the flaw of false-pride.  “false” because it isn’t the good “pride” in a hard worked job well done.  This boasting (hypothetical but common member) is a prideful balloon of ego ready to pop wide open at revealing his next villainous act.   Sorry..back to the meds!

Truly writers of this pamphlet and the Big Book obviously haven’t been watching the commercials that inform us about the many lawsuits over hanus prescription drugs advertised by lawyers everywhere.  Nor are they taking into account the kickbacks that doctors get for prescribing certain harmful and questionable, newly developed drugs.  Don’t get me wrong like I said “good advice” but only under the circumstance that you have a truly good man or woman as a doctor.  What are the odds?

We must as addicts in recovery find our own boundaries where meds are concerned and this is not an easy task it will take time and counsel.  We cannot depend on our doctors in many cases for the best “next right thing” to do.  We must be true to ourselves where meds are concerned and find the perfect balance that lies somewhere between martyr and dope fiend because both are self-destructive.  Martyr being the man who suffers so badly with a physical or emotional ailment that he is continually miserable in sobriety.  Yet he refuses all and any help from the doctor because of his NA counterparts that deem such consumptions a relapse.  At some point we should as people learn to let ourselves off the hook and not be so rigid with ourselves and others.  At the same time we don’t want to become so lax that we are not connected to what fulfills us.

Abstinence from prescriptions is not always best in fact it can be dangerous.  Many if not most people in AA are on anti-depressants.  Anti-depressants will most likely quit working at some point.  Doctors have to continually switch people around from drug to drug, change dosages, and try different combinations.  Whatever works.  And hey I mean that it’s not for me to judge.  Next there’s the pain issue.  If you’re a narcotics addict and pain drugs are your drug of choice best draw the line at surgery.  Especially early on in recovery.  Meaning don’t take them unless you have severe pain.  There are drugs like “Buprenorphine” that are non-narcotic yet very strong.  There is allot of controversy about this drug.  And if you are in Narcotics Anonymous good luck with finding a sponsor who won’t dub you “still using”.  If  this is the case, hey there are lots of addicts in Alcoholics Anonymous, “the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.”  If you are in AA and are not abusing your Buprenorphine then you are sober.  

The addict mind prior to a psychic change better yet a total mental transformation is incapable of thinking like a normal person regarding drugs therefore if you have to have surgery in your first five years or so don’t expect to not hear the voices of obsession in your head when you bring home those Percocet for post-operative pain.  You can take them as directed but most likely they will talk to you in between doses…they did me.  That doesn’t mean I relapsed it meant I was triggered by them.  A thought does not constitute a relapse.  I was going by the book with my meds and doing the right thing while at the same time the addict in me had her voice as well.  Things are not always just one way they can be both.

More about suboxone & methadone.  Well if an addict gets on these drugs early on and uses them temporarily to “adjust” emotionally to sobriety that could be a good thing if there is a gradual and complete reduction.  I have seen these drugs help people transition into sobriety slowly and successfully.  I know some people who started with methadone, switched to suboxone, weened off that  and have been sober a very long time.  They got off both drugs within a year.  Keep in mind that these success stories also include doing allot of step work, getting a sponsor, having therapy, going to many meetings, opening up to people and making new friends in AA.  

If my friends had stayed on those drugs past say a year chances are they would not have worked through their emotional underlying issues…YOU HAVE TO FEEL TO HEAL.  The drugs may work for a while to suppress painful emotions but when they stop working the addict will either honker down, work the 12 steps, get some therapy and start to really recover or they will just go up, up, up, on the dosage until other drugs like cocaine, alcohol etc, start to look like a solution. 

Remember if alcohol is only a symptom of a deeper problem then finding and alleviating that problem is the solution.  Usually that problem is grave emotional disorder.

The important thing is to learn how to live and work the steps often and at least when we need it and to establish an ongoing relationship with a Higher Power.  If drugs interfere with that process or cause unmanageability then that constitutes a slip.  If a psychic change doesn’t take place “the same man will drink again”.  People who get on pain meds which cause no unmanageability have not relapsed…. have they?   Again you have to feel to heal.

My advice no suggestion  (if you’re new to AA the word “advice” is extremely and politically incorrect)…anyway, if you have a serious pain issue say you broke your leg or severed a limb personally I wouldn’t tell the doc at the ER “I am an addict” you’re liable to go home with a bottle of aspirin.  Seriously most doctors are either all in or all out when they hear the word “addict”.  Either they will prescribe when it’s unwarranted or they won’t prescribe when it’s truly needed in spite of the label you are wearing.  

It’s a matter of throwing the dice.   I have had it go both ways.  My pain doctor knows my story and he has asked me lots of questions about recovery life, it interests him.  If I am in pain he works with me he is neither all in or all out he prescribes judging by the symptom and watches me for any evidence of what he calls “deviation” from recovery.  I have also had the opposite happen when I told one new doctor my history and was swiftly treated like I was an inmate in a prison by the meanest jail guard there.  With no logical explanation this doctor cut my seizure medication in half.  Not a good idea it could have killed me.  So prayer and common sense play into it.

Be sure to talk to someone about your medicinal situation if you have guilt feeling get them out.  We addicts oftentimes lay guilt trips on ourselves.  False guilt will eat us alive and there is always someone out there looking to validate how wrong you are.  By the same token there are emotional enablers a plenty.  Finding an emotionally  balanced confidant in any 12 step program is very important.  Addicts tend to swing to either one extreme or the other.  Therapy, the 12 steps, and spirituality WILL bring you emotional balance after a time…and two times.  Thank you so much for reading along.  If you are a writer submit your recovery articles to http://www.recoveryfarmhouse.com/2/recovering-sober-writers-wanted/

THE PAMPHLET

• No A.A. member should “play doctor”; all

medical advice and treatment should come from a

qualified physician.

• Active participation in the A.A. program of

recovery is a major safeguard against alcoholic

• Be completely honest with your doctor and

yourself about the way you take your medicine.

Let your doctor know if you skip doses or take

more medicine than prescribed.

• Explain to your doctor that you no longer

drink alcohol and you are trying a new way of life

in recovery.

• Let your doctor know at once if you have a

desire to take more medicine or if you have side

effects that make you feel worse.

• Be sensitive to warnings about changes in

your behavior when you start a new medication

or when your dose is changed.

• If you feel that your doctor does not

understand your problems, consider making an

appointment with a physician who has experience

in the treatment of alcoholism.

• Give your doctor copies of this pamphlet.

 

 

THE FIFTH STEP

THE FIFTH STEP

LIFE ON LIFE’S TERMS

Because of what life throws us quality sobriety doesn’t always look pretty.  At times the appropriate sober emotional response is to throw down the mask and promptly fall apart.  We must release the poison that negative human emotions can create in our hearts if we are to survive not only sober but sane as well.  Contrary to common belief crying is a healthy emotion that should not be shut down by force of habit.

Psalms 30:5 “Weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

Pretending we know no sorrow does not exhibit strength it exhibits weakness and fear by forbidding others from seeing who we are and how we truly feel sometimes.  It is not sincere for those in the program to constantly portray that “It’s all good” all the time as if those who are having struggles are inferior for lack of a decent program.

Sharing from our heart during times of struggle is often a huge relief to our fellows because now they know…they are not alone.  By the same principle of honesty the most important thing to share on a fifth step is the deep dark secret we are the most ashamed of.  Shame is an exhausting emotion that cannot stand the light of confession and so it leaves.  Thank God we have a way to emotionally heal.

 

5

 

SELF ESTEEM IS BUILT BY TAKING ESTEEM-ABLE ACTION

SELF ESTEEM IS BUILT BY TAKING ESTEEM-ABLE ACTION

PROBLEM

One thing sure that will put a human-being in defensive character-defect mode is having low self-worth. One thing sure that will cause us to put on a mask of deceit, beat ourselves up psychologically, and fear (not care) what people think of us is if we think we are just not good enough as people. A negative mind-set makes us think everyone else is better than us so therefore subconsciously we reason-out that we had better start some defensive maneuvers to fix the way we are looking at us. And these maneuvers are usually not the kind that really do work to raise our self-worth. Things like anger, criticism, lashing out, looking for the negatives in other people and lesser addictions. That’s how the “ego” usually copes with low self-worth in recovery and along the way we lose any chance of filling our lives with joy, Love, and true self-worth.

Furthermore even if we have worked the steps several times we can still slip back into a low self-worth mindset because we had lived with that thinking for so long before we got sober. Our neural-pathways were set and even though we have built a recovery-bridge of healthy neural-pathways over the sick ones sometimes our thinking falls off the new bridge onto the one below and goes into a path of destructive and negative thought. Not to say we want to drink or drug…no, we no longer see drinking & drugging as a solution to anything. We have worked the steps but God did not render us defect-free nor does he take away our free-will.

SOLUTIONS

So what can we do to boost our self-worth? Step twelve…chair a meeting as the “facilitator” not the controller. A facilitator serves the group not himself. We can share from our heart what God and AA has done for us with newcomers. If we share from our ego or to control others it will not work like sharing the naked and humble truth from our heart of hearts. We can do some work, clean the house, wash the car, get some tasks done that we have procrastinated about finishing for a long time.

We can do some Step Eleven meditation and prayer and be sure to speak to our Higher Power straight from our heart about our issues and give thanks.

Before we pray and meditate to God we should consider if we have left any amends undone. We should get right with our neighbors and then commune with our Higher Power.

We can confess in a meeting (step five) how we feel. We should say that we have been speaking to ourselves in an unkind way and that we have been driven under the common addictive delusion that if we beat our self up enough we will somehow get more good things done when really it’s counterproductive to run ourselves down in our minds. Fifth step confessions like this cut false pride to the quick and leave the destructive ego lying on the floor of the room.

If we are well-off financially then we can give to a charity or one of those guys in the median standing with a “please help” sign. Especially if we usually judge those guys harshly, giving to them in spite of negative feelings toward them will cut the character defect of greed, & harsh judgments to the quick. Furthermore we do not have enough information to fairly judge anyone in such a way as condemnation dictates. We don’t know what people have been through in their lives. They may be planted on the median by God just so people have the chance to give and in turn get blessed (Jesus was clear that it is more blessed to give than receive) (Acts 20:35) or alternatively to judge the homeless guys harshly and in turn be judged. (For whatever yardstick you use to judge your brother it in turn will be used to judge you.) Mt.7.2

Unfortunately allot of money has a way of making us feel secure, empowered, and better than those without it (not always of course) therefore we tend to want more just so we can get more or, keep those nice feelings we get when we increase our holdings. Jesus also said it’s harder for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God than for a camel to walk through the eye of a needle. (Mt.19:24)

OUT OF THE PROBLEM INTO THE SOLUTION!

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

 

Two Rights Don’t Make A Wrong

 

FAULT FINDING IS THE COUNTERFEIT FOR SELF-ESTEEM AND A TRUE FEELING OF SELF-WORTH.  Fault finding will replace self-esteem for a while until  we can do the next right thing long enough to actually build some.

Why is it that we see on all recovery websites and AA, NA chat rooms people are always looking for someone or something to pin the label “BAD” or “WRONG” on? It just never fails, and why?

Anyone who has worked the steps thoroughly and honestly knows that their most common character defect or carnal survival skill has been “BLAME” in the past.  

BLAME comes in many forms such as: attack, accusation, criticism, gossip,resentment,self-pity, and hate, even righteous indignation. These all reek of blame. The state of “blame” is a state of denial. Even if our blame is in the form of righteous indignation it is still a state of denial. When we blame others we are denying the real core reason for our yucky feelings.

We in recovery must learn the hard hard lesson of not only taking responsibility for our own feelings by owning them but also finding healthy and harmless ways of processing those feelings such as;
hitting with a plastic bat, punching bag, punching a pillow, writing, the [fuck you] letter that we never send, screaming, crying, sharing with an empathic listener, moaning, groaning, and other guttural sounds all promote release of emotions from the gut and relief. If we want to heal we have to feel not blame.

All of these method of processing feelings are usually looked down upon by others and considered crazy or weak.  Therefore it is best we exercise them while we are alone in a private place.  Beating ourselves up is not a healthy way to deal with our feelings.  Our hearts are innocent and need to be listened to by us without judgement.

We take our feelings and we write them down; “I feel hate or resentment toward Betty.”  Behind every resentment is fear.  When we find our core fear and ask God to remove it we find peace.

“I am afraid of losing my partner because I feel like I am not good enough I feel like Betty is better than me so I hate her” Wow! Was that so damn hard? Its ok to admit being afraid and feeling [less than] when we have solutions for that state of being.

Remember feelings do not have to be logical.  The fourth step work is an ongoing tool that should not be thrown by the wayside after accomplishing it one time.  Doing the fourth step should be a way of life in addressing every one of the blame characteristics listed above.  Humans fear they are not good enough especially if they were relentlessly taught that in youth. 

We can feel yucky without blaming anyone for it. Feeling bad does not mean we are weak it means we are human.

 

FLAVORS OF BLAME: attack, accusation, criticism, gossip,resentment ,self-pity, and hate, even righteous indignation are all by-products of blame. Addiction is a disease of denial which travels through the psyche in many ways. Denial or the lack of knowing how to take responsibility for our own feelings and blaming others for our feelings is the number one cause of failed relationships among addicts. The refusal to own our own feelings walks hand in hand with resentment. But don’t be too hard on us, no-one taught us how to process deep dark feelings. Addicts have a huge capacity for emotional pain in turn when we heal we have a huge capacity for understanding and Love. Once we learn how to own and honor our feelings, process them in a healthy way there is no limit to what we can accomplish for Love.

Who knew crying is a healthy emotion, privately screaming is a potent way to release anger. (not at someone) Writing a “fuck you” letter that we never send is an awesome way to release intense feelings of hate. Confessing shortcomings in meetings in a general way is a awesome solution for that defect.

We have the tools, we CAN stay sober and find Love, fellowship, and a psychic change.

WHY IT WORKS

GOD GRANT ME THE SERENITY TO ACCEPT THE THINGS I CANNOT CHANGE, THE COURAGE TO CHANGE THE THINGS I CAN AND THE WISDOM TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE.RARELY HAVE WE SEEN A PERSON FAIL WHO HAS THOROUGHLY FOLLOWED OUR PATH. “BIG BOOK OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS.”

My creator and God is the cornerstone of my spirituality.   I obtained spirituality initially by Step Eleven which is:   “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”    I continue feeding the spiritual part of my being by doing steps Ten through Twelve.   

 

But not just that; I revisit step three oftentimes to remind myself that God has my back.  I revisit step three to remember that everything WILL be ok because I am not running the show God is.  When I consciously did my Step Three I gave my higher power permission to guide me, and to intervene for the sake of my well-being.  

 

I revisit Step Two when I see myself slipping back into insanity usually due to complacency.   When I see the red flag of fear, intolerance, resentments, hatefulness, and grasping’s for food, sex, or anything else to numb my feelings I know I am getting a little crazy.

 

Lastly I keep a good handle on steps four and five because I do….yes on occasion pick up resentment and fear. I have the directions to maintain spirituality by living the steps. That’s “why” not just “how” it works for me.  

 

The 12 Step programs work because the steps are a practice of good character and spirituality while the disease is a practice of character defects.  As we practice the good character by doing the steps our sanity is established. The longer we live the steps…the more ingrained the good character becomes in our brain.  

 

We build sane bridges over the insane neural pathways of the past.  My sobriety has been supplemented with several formal, long, and thorough fourth steps, each year.   In recovery therapy I learn healthy communication, plus techniques to process painful emotions.   Given all these factors and God’s Grace…why it works is not a mystery…. to me anyway.

Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

The reason relapse happens is because the neural pathways that were carved out in our brains do not go away. If I do not maintain spirituality there is a possibility my thoughts will spill or drop off the new bridge of healthy thinking that has been built over the old carved out neural paths of the past. However If I remember that I DO HAVE A CHOICE and tell myself that; I have the ability to take the next right step I will be ok.

 



“Life on Life’s Terms

PTDC0001

Early recovery is great when there’s a pink cloud following us everywhere we go.  We are so relieved to have escaped our living Hell that we just beam at the thought of the fresh day that lies ahead of us.  As the years move on and “life on life’s terms” sets in…not so much beaming happening eh?  The daily chores like work, raising children, grocery shopping, house cleaning and laundry sink in as our gratitude spills out with the laundry soap.  Ouch!  And what about this whole aging thing?  Another Ouch!

We in the program have two really great ways of escaping the pitfalls of relapse that threatens us.  Relapse usually starts by losing our zeal for meetings and daily life then losing our gratitude.  Next we experience emotional suffering and then perceive the drink and drug as a solution to depression and anxiety.  Unfortunately this is the common progression of the classic addict thought processes and memory.  Have no worry have no fear!  Our solution for the mundane is in steps eleven and twelve.

Meditation puts our thinking on a higher plane.  We start with a simple prayer, we pray for the knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out and we ask God to help us meditate.  Next, we sit quietly seeking our Higher Power by repeating a mantra over and over.  By this seemingly non-productive action we train our mind to shut out the chaos and fear the world and our own psyche offers us.  Once we establish the ability to concentrate on one thought clearing our mind of all thoughts is the next natural step.

Once our mind has moved into the space that owns no fear, our mind is empty.  We then are able to hear our Higher Power clearly while we absorb our God’s Spirit and enjoy His or Her or its healing power of mind, body and soul.  When practicing this regularly we are in a position to do our service work with a supernatural kick.  We have a fierce gratitude for life, we don’t forget where we came from and we work hard on keeping our side of the street clean and guilt free.  By meditation we gain patience and tolerance toward ourselves, others and even the fearful and struggling relapsers[1].  By chairing a meeting, speaking at jails and institutions or just working with a sponcee one on one we are reminded of our own progress and that classic addict memory that gets us in so much trouble is transformed to sanity.  We no longer have the addict mind, we are free!

 [1] Let me clarify I am not disrespecting those of us who have relapsed, most all of us have relapsed, if we resent relapsers it is usually because we resent ourselves.  I have observed in the rooms people in recovery often become intolerant of those who have gone back out.