Sober Relationships (part 2) A Man’s Perspective

Relationships and Early Recovery by Fred Hundt

 

When I came into recovery, carried into the Psych Ward for my threats against myself and others, I felt as alone as I’d ever been in my life.  My girlfriend was done with me, I’d alienated most of my friends and my main relationship problem was that I didn’t have any.  I had to face the fact that, for the first time in my life, no one was going to “rescue” me.  I had to face my addiction and my demons and I needed to accept help honestly rather than manipulating people and situations.

 

In early sobriety I heard the AA maxim of not getting into a new relationship for at least a year.  I didn’t understand it then, but listened to my sponsor’s advice to take things slowly, earning my way back into my girlfriend’s life with my behaviors, not promises.  He also warned me against turning meeting camaraderie with women in the program into anything more. 

 

Looking back, I’m grateful for the AA approach and my sponsor’s “Easy Does It” advice.  In early sobriety I needed to build a relationship with me.  I’d been avoiding myself through alcohol for years.  I had to learn to face myself, spend time with myself and, eventually, even begin to like myself.  I also needed to build a close working relationship with my Higher Power.  I learned to talk to my HP through daily prayer, to connect through meditation and to listen to the quiet voice of Spirit within.  Building those two relationships was a full time job…I couldn’t have given them the attention they needed if I had been involved in a romantic relationship.

 

I watch newcomers in the rooms get involved in relationships and I see the roller coaster rides they take.  I remember that in my early sobriety I needed less drama, not more.  I’d had plenty of it in my last few drinking years.  I needed the calm and quiet of those months to learn about serenity and how to achieve and maintain it in my life.

 

Part of what I realized about myself in early recovery is that I was a “taker,” not a “giver.”  As much as I tried to wrap my behavior in noble motives, I had always looked at relationships entirely from the point of view of what I could get from them.  I always expected that the “next” woman would save me, would make things all right.  When that didn’t happen, I pulled away.  I usually didn’t even have the courage to break up.  I would just make myself emotionally unavailable until she broke up with me.  That allowed me to play the victim or the martyr.  I didn’t know how to have an honest relationship!  If I had pursued a new relationship in early recovery, I’m certain that I would have defaulted back to my old behavior.  Falling back in the part of my life would have risked relapse, too.

 

Over months (and years) of sobriety, parts of the program began to sink in.  I began to learn humility and thought of myself less.  I began to focus on how I could serve others without expecting anything in return.  I learned that I could be honest with my Higher Power and with the people in my life.  Today I have a wonderful relationship with the woman who had “written me off” that night I went to the Psych Ward.  I’m grateful each day for the opportunity to serve her and for the simple joy it brings me.  I can’t give anyone else relationship advice, but can share that the AA program has worked for me in this and all areas of my life.

On Buprenorphine in Recovery?

(Buprenorphine facts are taken from physician desk reference and the Suboxone.com website and the pamphlet that Subutex/Suboxone distributes.   And other various research reference sites online. )

FINGER POINTING AND FALSE COMPARISONS

It has come to my attention that the belief systems running through NA and even AA are that if your on any kind of pain drug from your doctor or even a rehabilitation maintenance type drug such as buprenorphine then your “not clean & sober”.  What I want to do here today is take a fair and balanced look at this issue and define what sobriety or clean and sober really is.  I also want to take a look at each of a few drugs and point out the differences in how they do affect a person trying to rehabilitate from an abusive and addicted lifestyle.

What is the cure?

Firstly and foremost I want to say, and this trumps anything following that I have written.  You have to feel if you want to heal.  Therefore in recovery we must be able to do the steps with our entire emotions invested in the process for it to work.  When we stop drinking and drugging there is a natural process of emotions in us that surface in perfect order.  Stuff comes up from the past that we have ignored or stuffed down  and repressed by using drugs and ignoring our emotions.  If we are still numbing ourselves out we won’t be able to heal 100% by addressing our underlying issues and processing those issues.

ALCOHOL AND DRUGS ARE BUT A SYMPTOM OF AN UNDERLYING ISSUE OR SICKNESS

Emotional disorder- is the inability to process our feelings.  We, I tend to stuff down and put into denial my intense feelings of FEAR in the form hurt, anger, betrayal, abandonment, rejection, and the big one inferiority.

First I want to point out that addiction is due to underlying causes such as emotional and mental disorders.  Some people think the disease is in our  DNA and hereditary they may be right.   But I believe it’s a learned behavior and the sex, drugs, gambling, food, alcohol are a solution to our deep fear, anxiety, and depression.   The drugs eventually stop working and our cure becomes lethal to us.  If we were emotionally balanced we wouldn’t need the steps the program or even God until our death…then we better have a relationship built with a Higher Power that can deliver us from death because we are all headed that way dope or no dope.

PEOPLE GET INJURED, SICK AND NEED PAIN MEDICINES FROM THE DOCTOR

We can be so sick or injured that if we don’t take our medicine our quality of life will be way worse than if we don’t. We mustn’t judge others for taking pain meds.   Come what may some day karma may tap us on the shoulder with some excruciating and chronic pain from a sudden injury.  To thine own self be true.  We are not martyrs.

I think if a man does have to take pain meds he has a better chance at recovery if it’s later rather than sooner.  Once you have six years under your belt sober I personally believe we don’t think with an addict mind anymore therefore we have a much better chance at following the doctors orders in sobriety.

 

WHAT IS CLEAN & SOBER?

Step One “We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol (drugs) and our lives had become unmanageable.”

If there is an absence of un-manageability then ones life is manageable.  If there is an absence of powerlessness then there is no issue…is there?  Just like a gun can be used for a good purpose to protect our families they can also be used to murder and mame.  A product in and of itself is not evil it is mans use of that product which defines weather it is good or evil.  Even Heroin, morphine and cocaine  are used for good purposes in hospital settings.  And don’t think hospitals don’t use Cocaine I had jaw surgery and know better.  They put cocaine on a long q-tip and went from nasal to throat cleaning it out.

Heroin; some scientists proclaim is a much better pain killer than Morphine however due to the prejudices and stigmas attached to it they use Morphine instead.  If one labels an inanimate object “evil” just because someones use of it makes it evil that is called a prejudice.  We can be prejudiced in our minds over any people, places, and things.

If I am addicted to pornography then the computer is my evil catalyst where-as if a scientist posts the cure for cancer on his science blog and it is used around the world then the computer is a wonderful tool that saves lives.  These examples tend to apply to anything.  Chocolate cake at a 5 year olds birthday party is something he will enjoy and look back on all his life.  How his mother nurtured him emotionally with her positive attention.  And yet to the obese man a chocolate cake is the evil which can kill him.  Sugar is actually poison which WILL kill him.

Pot or Marijuana to some people is their evil.  They abuse it relentlessly.  Others do not.  Hear me OTHERS DO NOT.  Just because someone can’t take narcotics without abusing them doesn’t mean they can’t smoke pot responsibly.  Pot is a drug that can be used reasonably in recovery in my opinion as long as you are not smoking it abusively and soberly work the 12 step program with a sponsor.  Go to meetings 90 and 90 and all the other stuff suggested.

HYPOTHETICAL:  MARIJUANA

Say Johnny smokes some weed at night and then he goes during the day to meetings and works the steps.  He is also seeking God with his heart and getting group therapy.  He doesn’t smoke pot during or before his recovery appointments.  He has stopped crack smoking and every other hard drink and drug he was doing.  Please don’t tell Johnny he is not sober he is doing great and so much better than he was.  He is a father to his children he is home at night.  And don’t forget he has been on dope pretty much all his life.  Having a cushion to keep his rage in check till he can work through his emotional issues is a plus.  Don’t ask Johnny to go on anti-depressants just so he can be legal.  Pot works for Johnny and is soon to be legal where he lives.   Do you think that smoking cigarettes is a healthy recovery thing to do?  Yet cigarettes are accepted among NA and AA members and don’t cancel out your recovery.  Why would pot cancel -out your recovery if Nicotine doesn’t?  Why would we judge Johnny as “not sober”, he doesn’t smoke cigarettes which are a drug also.  Cigarettes are an unfair status-quo in the rooms.  Cigarettes will kill you quick and are far more harmful than Marijuana if it’s smoked occasionally and not abusively.  Most cigarette smokers smoke way too much but yet they are considered sober.  And they are sober just not perfectly sterilized sober.  Bill Wilson our co-founder of A.A. died from cigarette addiction as a matter of fact in the form of He died from emphysema and pneumonia.  Why am a telling you this?  To point out that even the best of the best have secondary addictions.  For me it’s the internet and food.  None of us are truly qualified to harshly judge others.

BUPRENORPHINE (SUBOXONE, SUBUTEX)

I have know people that used buprenorphine when they started recovery and weaned down and people who have had to start med well into their tenth or more year.  Firstly if your on Suboxone which is buprenorphine and Naloxone combined don’t bother shooting it.  The Naloxone is only effective for relatively 20 minutes just long enough to block your rush and initial effects.  When the Naloxone wears off your drug works the way it is supposed to so as to reduce pain or cravings.  Secondly they have developed both Suboxone and Subutex (both buprenorphine) with a ceiling…if you take more than 3 pills don’t expect to feel the fourth one BUT you can still OD on them.   you just won’t get any higher than if you took 3. YOU CAN NOT GET ANY HIGHER ONCE YOU HAVE HIT THE BUPRENORPHINE CEILING.

Thirdly don’t expect Buprenorphine to get you high like an opiate the scientists have developed this PARTIAL OPIATE AGONIST so it won’t have the effects of a full blown agonist or “NARCOTIC”.  Put simply the chemical Buprenorphine does go to your opiate receptors. However, picture your receptors with a closed door in front of them.  When you take an opiate the door swings wide open and your receptors are drenched with the effects.  With partial opiate agonists such as Tramadol or Bubrenorpine the door to your receptors only opens half-way so the receptors only get half as sedated.

METHADONE

Methadone works to keep Heroin addicts off the street, keeps them from having to steal and rob to get heroin however it is very strong and will stop the natural process of healing and recovery.  So if methadone is used in the beginning of recovery it should be a temporary thing to ween off of eventually.  Then it can be considered progress.

ALCOHOL

Alcohol is a drug.  If you can sit down and drink 2 or even 3 drinks and stop every time.  If drinking doesn’t make you want to use crack or shoot dope etc. then your obviously not an alcoholic.  Personally I don’t know nor do any of the people I have asked know one dope fiend who is not also an alcoholic.
So as a rule if you want recovery you will have to stop drinking.

Bottom line we do the best we can.  If we are working the 12 step program and our lives are manageable then we are clean and sober if we have not picked up our drug of choice and abused it basically.

“NOT ONE ALCOHOLIC OR ADDICT WORKS A PERFECTLY STERILE PROGRAM WITH NO VICES”

Whether it be food, sex, sick relationships, gambling, cigarettes, weed, non-narcotic pills, wrath, violence, serial killing, wife beating, every addict in recovery tends to fall back on some vice or another.  We all humans commit sin of some sort.  We are human and I think we were created imperfect.  Perfectionism will beat us down if we don’t get it in check.  We will never be perfect and it is futile to struggle with ourselves relentlessly in a cycle of guilt and self-floggings that originated in our first addiction.  When we get into that cycle we go to a meeting.  “MOVE A MUSCLE CHANGE A THOUGHT”.   WE MUSTN’T JUDGE OUR OWN INSIDES BY OTHER PEOPLES OUTSIDES OUR FELLOWS ARE SELDOM TRANSPARENT.

 

 

Emotional Healing

Therapeutic Healing

I let all my secrets out of the bag with my first sponsor who is now passed away.  She was a counselor at Bridge House who by no coincidence helped me and several other women learn how to heal from grave emotional disorder and addictions. 

We are all still sober today that was in 2006.  I remember one of the counselors was talking to me.  I was sharing my horrific past with him and all the tie I told him of my tragedies I had a twisted smile on my face which was helping me to NOT FEEL the emotion attached to the stories.  It was my safety net I would not feel my past!  He looked at me and said “Lori what you are telling me is traumatic and yet you are smiling”.  At that moment all of my feelings connected back to my body.  I was no longer cold as stone separated from my real life.  When I finally allowed my feelings to re-attach themselves to me I was able to start processing my past.  Things that I should have cried and wailed over but didn’t were making me sick.  Prior to that I had gone to a woman’s meeting where all the woman cried and felt their pain.  I was stone cold, I walked out of that women s group and told my soon to be sponsor/counselor that ‘I had no business in that women s group

BECAUSE I HAD NO EMOTIONAL PAIN” and at the time I really believed it, that was how deep in emotional denial I was.  But my feelings buried and festering were coming out sideways in hate, resentment, and self-loathing.  I was buried alive in guilt and shame.  I used to turn red with shame regularly.  I was so deep in shame that I had a cancerous tumor grow in my leg till finally it was surgically removed in 2000.  My counselor told me that people that take out their pain on others by yelling at them and attacking verbally and wrathful people have heart attacks and people that repress their emotions and bury their pain get cancer..  That was me.  Since then I have learned how to let it all out.  I spent years processing by crying, screaming in my car (not at people like I mentioned) When I wailed and moaned guttural sounds little by little the grave emotions left my body.  We were taught to do that in therapy.  the first time I heard one of the girls do the guttural sounds it made me very uncomfortable.  I felt shocked that it was somehow wrong and she was absolutely insane.  But she had been in group longer than me and showed me how to save my life emotionally.  Moaning hurts no one. It’s a natural process when we get sober that the past resurfaces in us from deep in our bowels.  We ask ourselves “what’s wrong with me why do I feel like I lost my best friend yet nothing bad has happened?”  I was told that I need to cry about the intense events in the past that I never allowed myself to feel.

Doing a through fourth step accompanied with daily prayer and step eleven meditation goes hand in hand with therapy and therapeutic exercises.  I didn’t make this stuff up it was given to me as solutions to anxiety attack, panic attacks, fear and shame

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.

RECOVERING SOBER WRITERS WANTED

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Basic editing skills preferred.  Please put your article through an editing process best you can. Your writing does not have to be perfect just from the heart.  Writing for Recovery Farmhouse is a little more that just sharing your experience strength and hope.  You are allowed to have an opinion and state it.  However open-mindedness to other people’s views and acceptance for same is a definite plus.  Poetry is accepted too.  Please e-mail me at edgarlaura826@yahoo.com with your articles.
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Sobriety Year Seven

SEVEN YEARS SOBER, ALCOHOL WAS BUT A SYMPTOM OF A DEEPER SICKNESS

 

I ran into a lady a Wal-Mart, she invited me to church.  I gave her a brief summary of what God has done for me in the last nine years.  I told her I have stayed sober nine years.  She looked at me amazed and said, “Wow!  That must be hard, it’s hard to stay sober.”  I thought to myself about the last years in sobriety and how easy it has been to stay sober anymore.   I thought to myself this life of mine is the closest this former drunk has ever been to a “normal life”.  I told “June” (is her name), I said, “June it was hard, very, very hard to get sober and the first four years where absolutely filled with processing my core issues. 

 I worked very hard to clear up the wreckage of the past and root out the underlying causes of my addiction.  Not to mention the twelve steps were and are my guide through my sober journey.  In the twelve steps lies the magical jump-start that made all my healing and psychic change possible.  That magic is my Higher Power.  I relentlessly worked step eleven meditation daily for years.  I connected with God, I met my Spirit Guides and I became strengthened to the point of a new self-confidence and awareness of who I really am.  I let little Laura out of the closet and she isn’t so bad after all.                                                                      

My underlying cause was “emotional disorder”    Not to mention I was ate up with shame.  Until I went to AA and had one full year of recovery based therapy I had no idea what to do with feelings.  Feelings used to scare the shit out of me to put it bluntly.

Why does the addict work so hard to change the way he/she feels?  How is it that the new re-habs are advertising that they have the “cure” for addiction when we are taught in the big book that we will always be alcoholics?  Is it possible that Bill Wilson was wrong?  We are taught to keep an open mind and to never limit God and His power.   Maybe Bill Wilson just never did find the courage and where-with-all to return to his childhood traumas and scream and cry them out as that small child.  Letting the hurts out rather than holding them in and allowing them to rule over out action and emotional responses is the sickness.  Letting hurt out is the process that leads to our healing but not everyone can make themselves so vulnerable.  Crying is a healthy emotion and should not be repressed.

If the underlying cause is healed by God and we are taught how to express our feelings in a healthy way, then it becomes very easy to stay sober. Is it a cure?  Well that’s a matter of semantics.

NEVER-THE-LESS I AM SOBER BY THE GRACE OF GOD WHO PICKED ME UP OFF THE STREET WHERE I WAS DEAD TO THE LIGHT AND HE OPENED MY EYES AND HEALED

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.”   

AA “Get In The Middle Of The Boat”

They say in AA to “Get in the middle of the boat” if you want to get and stay sober.

 

  

Important suggestions for early sobriety.The first thing we should do is put ourselves out there in a meeting.  Introduce ourselves as a newcomer and share our fears, feelings, and any other struggles we are having.  This will attract people to us and make us approachable.  We must get to know people.    Just what and where is the middle of the boat.  Firstly we go to 90 meeting in 90 days that way we will establish some new relationships with sober people…soooo important.  We need to find out who and how people are staying sober. We should join a “home group” for sure, it’s important to feel “a part of”.  After all we have earned our seat in the rooms of AA and NA by our history, we have been in a war with ourselves that has not been easy…it is time to surrender to our hearts call. 

I believe there are spiritual windows in time that make it easier for us to stay sober within a certain starting point…as if it were a spiritual call.  Trying to get sober without that spiritual window things just don’t “click” like they do when the window is open.  Don’t worry you will feel it when it happens.  For instance I got sober and arrested on Good Friday in 2006 which also fell on Easter weekend.    I must say many times people that stay sober for years and years have a sobriety date that is either a holiday or some kind of special date.  Just a little factoid.  People stay sober, the program works regardless of the date in time.  Do not be discouraged.

Secondly after a few months of exposure we should get a sponsor start working the steps.  Also we should make a commitment to one of the activities that AA-ers do like chair a meeting once a week or speak at a jail or institution.  None of these commitments will feel natural. Oh contraire it will feel uncomfortable but you will be growing both emotionally and spiritually because of it.  Taking meetings into detox is the easiest place to begin with to share your experience of how sobriety is for you.  When we see those sick and suffering addicts in detox it works like magic to keep us sober.  It makes us remember all too well what it was like and we realize how far we have come.  We addicts in recovery usually need reminding that we are doing well.

After 6 months of sobriety and a completion of working the 12 steps we should definitely volunteer to sponsor newcomers.  This process happens very quickly.  Don’t worry too much if you are on probation, I have found that probation actually helps build a structured life in the beginning of sobriety and gives us something to focus on odd as that may sound.  Not to mention the drop tests aid in keeping us sober.  Sobriety is not for sissies it is a challenge that we can meet with hope.  One day at a time.

WRECKAGE OF THE PAST

Wreckage of the Past

Growing up emotionally

Clearing the wreckage of the past means growing up emotionally.  “INDECISION”    Page 86 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Step Eleven “In thinking about our day we may face indecision.  We may not be able to determine which course to take.  Here we ask God for inspiration, and intuitive thought or decision.  We relax and take it easy.  We don’t struggle.  We are often surprised how the right answers come after we have tried this for a while.

Why was it so hard to make any decision when I was newly sober?  One huge reason is because I was afraid of the outcome of my own choices.  My decision could turn out bad or wrong and then I would be bad and wrong.  And why not, I made so many wrong choices in life I was used to the badgering and consequences of my selfish actions.  Obviously the “bad” and “wrong” label was stamped on me at an early age therefore it is at the core of my “fear of people” issues. 

One of my valuable (old behavior) survival skills when drinking and drugging was to let others make my choices for me.  When I hand over power to someone by asking them…”what should I do” I am offering them ego-feeding material.  Furthermore if the decision turns out “wrong” I can quickly blame that person for the outcome.  This is why a sponsor should always answer objectively when a sponcee tries to hand over their power of choice by responding with “it is your decision but we can go over your options and I can suggest to you what may be the best choice.”

Why does the Ninth Step promise us that “fear of people will leave us” and how does it leave us?  Between our connection with God and our customary twelve step work our confidence and self-esteem are rebuilt and we no longer fear making personal choices.  We need no longer fear “bad” outcomes because life is a journey, we are only human and we have been created to make mistakes and to rely on a Higher Power.  We are and will never be perfect while human.  When we make right choices and do the next right thing we receive positive consequences which are confidence and true pride the good kind.

When I hand over power to a person it is a manipulation skill that keeps them coming back.  It feels good to rule over someone and make their choices for them.  However when that kind of power is snatched back…ouch!  The person feels empty and lacking and usually they don’t react well.  How do I snatch power back?   By going against the advice given or just pushing the adviser right out of the picture all together by walking away.

It also says on page 88 that “faith without works is dead.”  Therefore we should be sure to have some Step Twelve action going on even if it’s not in the capacity of AA.  Not everyone fits into AA’s traditional version of the twelfth step, by chairing meetings, becoming an officer & active in business meetings, making coffee, speaking in institutions, speaker meetings, joining the activities committee etc. there are many ways to share the message outside of AA that will work to give the same good effect. 

“Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principals in all our affairs”.

However if we choose to not do traditional twelfth step work we may be in danger of missing out on valuable personal growth, maturity, self-esteem, confidence, and emotional sobriety that happens when we do the things underlined above.

Learning to take responsibility for our actions and building confidence takes work.  Fear of people will leave us IF we work the steps.  One thing sure if we don’t put ourselves in uncomfortable and vulnerable positions by working step 12 we will not gain the confidence that no longer fears people and makes independent choices. 

STEP 12:  Courage & willingness means doing the next right thing when I just want to go home and hide in my bed.  It means telling my story at detox when I am nervous as a cat.  It means chairing a meeting when my hands shake, courage is making coffee when I fear that everyone at the meeting will tell me it tastes horrible, courage is doing a fifth step when every fiber of my being says “keep it secret”,  courage is asking someone to sponsor me when I am afraid of being told “no”, it is sharing my secrets when I fear betrayal, it means making a friend when I fear I will just be abandoned again, it means putting pen to paper when I feel like it will all be a waste of my time.   Without these kinds of courageous actions and the willingness that goes against our core fears we might not grow in the miraculous and amazing ways that are promised in Step Nine “fear of people will leave us”, furthermore we may not stay sober at all.

THE SAME MAN WILL DRINK AGAIN.

 

Get Busy!

GET BUSY LIVING OR GET BUSY DYING

GRATITUDE & PRAISE

STEP THREE

http://www.recoveryfarmhouse.com/2/get-busy/
http://www.recoveryfarmhouse.com/get-busy/

 

 

TODAY I HAVE JUST ONE THING TO TELL MYSELF AND THAT I WILL SHARE WITH YOU….I HAVE A CHOICE TO MAKE TODAY AND HOPEFULLY IN DAYS TO COME.GET BUSY LIVING OR GET BUSY DYING.I wonder to myself why so many days I choose seclusion and even isolation. Being alone is a good thing for some people…in moderation. I Love to be alone and have my time with God to worship freely.  I need to be alone sometimes just to cry when I feel the separation from my Higher Power. God dwells in the praises of His people.  It’s time for me to be among those praises in whatever form they take.

Praise in song, praise in testimony, praise by worship and reverence, we can even praise in silence. Also being among the energy of my Higher Powers people gives me joy and a feeling of belonging…yes it does.

Nature!  We must not forget what nature does for our soul.  This Earth was made to accommodate us humans not only naturally by sustenance but also spiritually.  So I soak up the nature again and again.

Today I choose life and one day my Great Master and Creator will call me home and my human hardware and software will be deleted, no more updates.  Maybe just maybe I will have learned enough and Loved enough to be the Spirit Guide for some important human who’s journey will have just begun.

SPIRITUALLY FIT

“SPIRITUALLY FIT”

Does being “spiritually fit” mean that everything is wonderful in my life and I won’t feel any unpleasant or even horrible feelings? Does being spiritually fit mean that I will never make a mistake? Does being S.Fit mean that the 12 step lock-combination is flawless and perfection is what I have attained. Whoa! This kind of idealism will lead me to misery because every time I don’t feel good I will beat myself up for not being spiritually fit and hide my true feelings from my fellows until they consume me. . Perfectionism! I no longer suffer from the ideals of perfection. Perfection is something I will never attain while I am human. I revisit my step three. Thats right I am relying on a Higher Power because I AM fallible. Spiritual growth is sometimes painful I will need to cry while spiritually fit.

Sobriety is like….peeling an onion, my past feelings, regrets, shames, trauma will come up best I don’t ignore deep feelings especially in the first three to five years of sobriety these are the “heavy emotional processing” years. T The first five years shit just comes up, tears we didn’t cry, screams we should have let out, shame we needed to confess, guilts we buried so deep we thought they were gone, loss we could not bear to feel, abandonment and betrayals by those we trusted. Yep it all comes up, sorry.

The good news is A Higher Power can lessen the pain even remove it but never all of it…not that I have seen. Journalling is priceless for the emotions. If I am doing my fourth step correctly it should be a very emotional time of tears, regrets, shames, grief, realizations about myself and my survival patterns (steps 6&7.) The work ain’t easy but it works. I have worked the steps once a year for the first six years anyway. I am probably due to do it again.

The imprints of the past no longer have a hold over my actions. I need not destroy myself because of the way I feel. I can change the way I feel today by taking actions.

I don’t want to leave out the Joy, fulfillment, enlightenment, the laughs and the awareness of Gods Grace and wonderment that sobriety offers.  Sobriety rocks!

Disclaimer: There is always a possibility that you do not fall under the addict norm and don’t need to do the step work at all. Maybe its only the traumatized that need to do step work.  If a pink cloud never leaves why do the steps? I wouldn’t.

 

pic found at-http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/bits-and-pieces/images/1814875/title/tears-wallpaper Thankyou!

Taming the Tongue Step Eleven



Taming the tongue

I will not debate with wrath although my own false pride would have me do just that. Wrath knows no logic, rage knows no compassion nor can it be reasoned with….natural anger can be managed with the tools and a little self-honesty. The accuser of the brethren that old crusty angel of lies (the disease) will come alive in me if I allow it. The tongue a small organ yet strong enough to wield the power of life and death, Love and hate in its grasp. A man can conquer ten cities but who can tame the tongue?”

I wrote this a few years ago as a status in another secret group. I find personally that doing step 11 at length instills in me the self-restraint necessary to stand quietly through the manipulation of my mother or other emotional triggers. She throws out the fishing line and hook to bait me into telling her how to live her life or what choices to make and then she never does what I suggest anyway.

I end up with a feeling of struggle and strain in my heart and frustration…inevitably I get an emotional hang-over. Verbal struggles don’t always come in the form of sarcasm, insults, name-calling and lies. . Sometimes my struggles are fears within my own mind or me trying to be the director.

SOLUTION: Step Eleven and self-restraint of keyboard & tongue. It is not my place to tell other adults how they should act or to make their choices for them. If they are not breaking a law or harming someone literally physically then it’s none of my business to control other peoples interactions with one another.

EACH PERSON HAS THE RIGHT TO REACH THEIR OWN LEVEL OF INCOMPETENCE! Each person must learn their own lessons…we are all at different places in our recovery…on different levels even however, we are all of equal value as human souls with hearts that need to Love and be Loved.

Ninth Step Promises

Ninth Step Promises click

 

The program does work.  Fear of people and what they think of us will leave us.   If we work the steps and do plenty of step twelve service work.  If we bring meetings into jails and institutions, chair meetings, and work on our core issues and underlying causes.  Furthermore if we build a relationship with our Higher Power and  do a thorough fourth step we will get not only a psychic change but also a spiritual experience that will help us to rely on God rather than mankind for what we need emotionally and spiritually.

“Fear  of people will leave us” is a quote from The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.  It is written under the “Step Nine”  heading in the “Into Action” chapter and considered one of the “Ninth Step Promises”.

This link is to the Twelve & Twelve Step Nine:

http://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/en_step9.pdf   twelve and twelve step nine

In the Big Book step nine is on page 76  and starts in the middle of the page.  The ninth step promises are on page 83 starting at the bottom of the page.

http://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/en_bigbook_chapt6.pdfNinth Step Promises

 

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THE NINTH STEP PROMISES

If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are halfway through.  We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.  We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.  We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.  No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.  That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.  We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.  Self-seeking will slip away.  Our whole attitude and outlook on life will change.  Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.  We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.  We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises?  We think not.  They are being fulfilled among us____sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.  They will always materialize if we work for them.

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I believe that when Bill W. wrote “Fear of people will leave us” in The Big Book under the Ninth Step, what he actually meant was, “fear of what people think of us will leave us.”   

Alcoholics and addicts when in their addiction and early recovery tend to be nervous around other people.  Alcoholics have anxiety attacks, they have the desire to isolate and steer clear of other people often. 

All these symptoms show a fear of being around other people.  But not because they are afraid of being robbed or attacked.  These fearful behaviors stem from our own insecurities and self-loathing.  We addicts often simply feel like other people are better than us.  We are afraid of being judged by others.  We fear getting close to people because they may hurt us emotionally.   We don’t want to set ourselves up for another emotional loss so we reject human interaction and relationships all together.  

We often feel (subconsciously) that if people get to know us they won’t like us much because… bottom line…after years of going against what our own conscience says to us we don’t like ourselves much so how could anyone else like us…we think.   Many times in meetings and around A.A. people will say “I don’t care what people think of me” usually we, say this as a defensive measure to make ourselves look better to  others, as if it is weak and socially shameful to care what others think of us.   

However, caring what people think of us is an emotionally balanced social human trait. So many recovering addicts and people in general say they don’t care what others think of them, yet their actions prove otherwise.   Contrary to what most people in recovery so defensively state, I believe people DO care about what others think and say about them.  Of course that healthy caring can be taken to an extreme and turn into fear of what people think of us.  That’s where lying, dishonesty, faking this and pretending that come into play.  Vanity and false pride are character flaws driven by fear of what people will think of us.

 

It seems like addicts don’t know it’s OK, NOT WEAK to care and it’s normal socially to want to be liked and admired.  Seems some have an inability in their minds to distinguish between fear and healthy concern. Caring is not a bad thing and its human nature to want to dress nice and look good to our fellows.

 

People generally love to be the best at things, be the smartest, the fastest, and be a winner so they can feel good about themselves and look good to others.  Certainly if we were repeatedly taught as children that we are bad and wrong and received little if any parental validation of our feelings and ideas we will carry a low self-identity with us until it is reamed out by either therapy or spirituality.  Until that self-image is changed we will be hyper-sensitive to any perceived criticisms.  And unfortunately once a self-image is burned to our psyche it can’t be removed easily.  Just knowing that our self-image is inaccurate won’t change it.

 

Personally it does concern me when people dislike me or accuse me but I must put it in perspective.  Firstly, I ask myself if the accusation is true.  Then I delve into trying to understand the motivation behind the accusation.  When I understand the accusers reasoning it helps me accept their views.  If their opinion sticks in my craw too long and a resentment grows in me I will pray blessings upon them until I forget about it…works great!

 

Yes I care what people think!  I am not ashamed to admit it.  My admission of care does not make me a weak person, actually it shows I am self-assured enough to not fear appearing weak by that admission. 

  In other words, if someone is overstating the fact that they don’t care what others think of them you can pretty much bet that they’re healthy social caring has morphed into a fearful self-consciousness of what other people think of them.