When I watch the news or read ads on my Facebook, twitter, ebay, or any other media input, even when I have conversations with other people…I ask myself ; What do they want? What are they really saying and why? For the last ten years since the onslaught of social media developers have been working hard for powerful people. They have been finding and perfecting new ways to PROFILE YOU and we the people. What they are doing with this mind power is open to the highest bidder. Money is power and the powerful want more power. Just be aware. Choose your battles, don’t let battles choose you. The powerful are now armed with the ability to single out huge groups of people to react in the way they want. These wealthy billionaires can control not only Facebook America but also Facebook Europe, Facebook Russia, Facebook, Twitter, of the entire world. Sure people will not easily cross moral boundaries but, now it’s evident where which boundaries lie and where they don’t. Think about what even a small percentage of mind control on global levels can do. See mind control techniques here.
Beyond the U.S. in many places domestic violence is not considered a crime (see definition and info)
The number of American troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2012 was 6,488. The number of American women who were murdered by current or ex male partners during that time was 11,766. That’s nearly double the amount of casualties lost during war.
Women are much more likely to be victims of intimate partner violence with 85 percent of domestic abuse victims being women and 15 percent men. Too many women have been held captive by domestic violence — whether through physical abuse, financial abuse, emotional abuse or a combination of all three.
We are inundated with news stories about domestic violence , from athletes beating their significant others in public elevators or in their own homes to celebrities publicly abusing their girlfriends. This problem is not one that will go away quickly or quietly.
As Domestic Violence Awareness Month comes to an end, discussions about intimate partner abuse and its horrible repercussions should not. In an attempt to illustrate the gravity of abuse all genders (but largely women) face in the U.S., we rounded up 30 statistics on domestic violence.
Domestic violence is not a singular incident, it’s an insidious problem deeply rooted in our culture — and these numbers prove that.
Read the staggering statistics original article at the Huffington Post
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.
If you seek a full recovery from addiction A.A. Works for some people, therapy works for others, and spirituality works for yet others. Combine all three and you have a chance.
Be sure to choose a therapist who knows how to show empathy not one who just sits there like a bump on a log writing words you can’t see. I say this because addicts suffer from low self-worth and we already feel like we are being judged. An addict will rarely open up fully to a person unless he feels he will not be judged. When it comes to therapy for addicts it’s best to have a therapist who has recovered from addiction himself. And if you can’t find a recovered addiction therapist then group therapy could work because of the feedback and relating.
AA sponsors are there to take you through the 12 steps not to delve into your emotional healing. The statistics of suicide among recovering addicts is high. I am basing this on the fact that I know several who have killed themselves while in A.A. I accredit the suicide rate to the fact that so many recovering addicts don’t get the right therapy. And they don’t address their true core issues. The things that we are ashamed of are the things that haunt us. Past issues live inside us and take on a life of their own. Past issues make us sick, angry, and trying to fend the pain off causes character defects.
I recommend a Spirit-filled church (holy roller type). Dry and Spirit-less churches whose members really believe in the gifts of the Spirit don’t have allot of spiritual power. Make certain that your church at least believes in the power of the blood of Jesus and the laying on of hands for healing and deliverance. Truly every spiritual experience I have had of high magnitude has been in or around a church where people praise God openly. Miracles can happen anywhere but it’s more likely to find a miracle at a tent revival than in the bathroom at home.
There are many non-addicts in church who will not relate to what your feeling when going through a struggle with addiction. Non-addicts are not privy to the practical solutions that you will learn at A.A. By the same token many A.A. people don’t know what a complete deliverance from addiction by a spiritual experience is either. And really isn’t that what actually took place in Bill Wilson’s life the co-founder and author of The Big Book and most of it’s literature? That spiritual white light experience of his is what prompted the idea for the 12 steps. So really why not seek both a miracle and sobriety from working the steps? Why not use both solutions?
The 12 steps are not therapy they address our shortcomings and the need for confession and repentance. (step 4 & 5) You won’t hear it worded repentance and confession in AA confession is called a fifth step.
Every addicted women I have met WAS SEXUALLY MOLESTED at some point in their child hood and most were repeatedly molested. Unfortunately the 12 steps don’t and step-work don’t provide a way for true “victims” to acquire a healing. If we hold a grudge toward our assailant then the steps do give place to addressing our resentments. But simply jotting down the event in a one sentence format and then searching for our own guilt in the experience and what we did wrong WILL NOT HELP US HEAL FROM ABUSE.
Maybe that’s where Bill Wilson just missed the boat on his own emotional healing. There should have been a step that addresses the pain of the true victims of abuse. “Victims” are real and not some made up psychological crutch or bad habit. Yes we need to get past being a victim and the idea can be used as a way to control people. “Oh poor me give me attention that sort of thing. In AA they call abuse an “outside issue”. It’s understandable they are not equipped to handle deep emotional trauma issues. But in my opinion those issues are why people become addicts. So the 12 steps alone will only be enough if God touches you and heals you.
That’s it bottom line without God the steps won’t work and without giving rebellious addicts a way to seek God that is acceptable to them they will not recover that’s why the church shouldn’t judge AA and AA shouldn’t judge the church but they do and often.
The steps and Big Book do not tell us how to get an emotional healing from abuse. And even if you don’t remember being abused, or emotionally neglected it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Many addicts don’t know what emotional neglect looks or feels like. They will say they had a fine childhood, “my parents did the best they knew how”. And they did , except; why then are we alcoholic? Emotionally balanced people don’t seek to numb themselves out on a regular basis to the point of self-destruction. Emotional abuse by a parent can be just as devastating as sexual abuse or violent beatings. Most addicts subconsciously grow up thinking they are bad and wrong. Therapy will help us figure out why. I think if Bill Wilson would have had a better therapist he could have felt free enough to let out some of the feelings that were causing him so much depression.
Bill W.’s depression is well documented. Instead of looking at “our part” on our fourth step concerning childhood abuse (which by the way, could only be that we held a natural resentment toward our assailant for years and that we are full of false guilt over the event. We do not grow out of trauma, it will live inside us until we give it a healthy door out. What we actually need to do is find a way to go back to the events that traumatized us and express the way we feel about it from our hearts core. Crying, weeping, screaming, moaning, and guttural sounds will do the trick. But also talking it out with a caring listener who can relate to the pain it caused us. This can heal us. In AA they will shut you down quick over expressing past trauma and insist that you forgive or just “get over it!” before you are even able to express your pain. We usually are unable to forgive until the emotions are properly expressed. If you get hit in the face you scream ouch then cry! Then you can work on forgiving after the OUCH and tears are out.
JAILS AND INSTITUTIONS
What about rehabilitation centers?
Getting thrown in jail and rehab can be a good thing initially to get sober. Sometimes we have got to be locked up for the first 90 days or so because otherwise we will not be able to get through the physical withdrawal. Plus rehab centers teach many things about sobriety. Having a detox center to help with the withdraw is good. My theory is get all the help you can! If your dead from a drug overdose having a house and job won’t do you any good anyway right?
HOW TO REALLY GET SOBER?
THERE IS NO PERFECT SPONSOR, NO PERFECT REHAB CENTER NO PERFECT DETOX NO PERFECT COUNSELOR, NO PERFECT PROGRAM AND NO PERFECT CHURCH , PREACHER OR THERAPIST. However, all these imperfect things combined can lead to your imperfect recovery.
A FULL RECOVERY
Yes you can recover. AA works. “THESE SICK PEOPLE ARE KEEPING ME WELL” how ironic. Those sick people , and they are will teach you how to get and stay sober but you won’t find many that believe in employing all three spirituality, therapy, and the 12 steps. But that’s what worked for me. After several years of all three you won’t need meetings anymore, why would you? Meetings are not the program the 12 steps are the program. Fellowship though, is a must in the beginning to establish sober relationships with people. Also it’s suggested we go to 90 meetings in 90 days if at all possible to jump start recovery. You won’t hear in AA that you will fully recover and no longer need meetings even if it is written in the big book. Look it up , the word “recovered” is all over the Big Book.
The following are some quotes from the Big Book about being “recovered”.
“I will always be recovering, never recovered.” This statement is not aligned with the teachings of the Big Book we do recover!
Title Page: “ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS. The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism” (I totally agree with him on this one we absolutely do recover, at least I have.)
Page 20, paragraph 2: “Doubtless you are curious to discover how and why, in face of expert opinion to the contrary, we have recovered from a hopeless condition of mind and body. (here, here!)
Foreword to the First Edition: “We, of Alcoholics Anonymous, are more than one hundred men and women who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body.”
Page 29, paragraph 2: “Further on, clear-cut directions are given showing how we recovered.”
Page 132, paragraph 3: “We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others.”
WHAT PEOPLE HATE AND LIKE ABOUT A.A.
These two links are anti-12 step websites. It appears that the sites were created by disgruntled ex-A.A. and N.A. members. The Orange Papers site has allot of statistics true and balanced. The “leaving AA” site is more just a bitch session by people who either have been hurt by people in A.A or they are trying hard to rationalize their own inability to stay sober, you be the judge. Lord knows I know how guilt can wear on a person struggling to stay sober. If their blaming keeps them feeling sane without really hurting anyone it’s ok I reckon, let them bitch and criticize as one. They have a common bond at least.
I like to give a fair and balanced opinion about anything. Leave it to alcoholics and addicts to have to label things either all bad or all good. Addicts are notorious for wanting to put the “bad and wrong” label on anything they can. (myself included at times) However lets face it there are not many things in this world that are all bad or all good, in fact it is a rarity. Even a good thing can be overdone until it becomes bad. But when it comes to inanimate objects they are not usually bad on their own. It’s the people that are wrong for using an object like a gun or knife for evil purposes.
From what I have read some people end up with oppressive and controlling sponsors in A.A. I don’t doubt that a bit. I have been a member of A.A. for ten years…this time. I have met the sick and controlling people. I have seen the closed-mindedness, the liars and the sick perverted sex offenders by the droves. As a matter of fact I think child molesters and alcoholism go hand in hand.
What these sites comments say about A.A. is probably true on the most part. But what they are not saying is that they need to label A.A. bad because to them there is no such thing as something being both good and bad. IT MUST BE ONE OR THE OTHER THEY SCREAM!
So does A.A. really work? Well it appears that only 5% of newcomers will pick up a 1 year medallion and only 1.17% will pick up a 10 year medallion and 0.15% will pick up a 20 year medallion. Now that doesn’t mean that there are not allot of people that stay sober due to A.A. yet leave A.A. for one reason or another. I know some people who have learned the 12 steps and how to live them. They have people in their lives that they confide in and they are close to God… they don’t NEED the meetings when they have the program. Maybe others no longer need to sit in A.A. meetings absorbing the sick vibes of all those emotionally handicapped people who frankly don’t open up enough in meetings to get better. And with good reason. They would no doubt get shut down and criticized if they actually shared their hurts, fears, and worries the way that they should be encouraged to.
If they could vent they would heal. If people would get real in the rooms and tell the sick and suffering addict that they understand and have felt that way too then the program would be much more effective. But instead people sit like vultures in meetings waiting for someone to criticize. Members use the A.A. cliche’s as if they were weapons to stab the unknowledgable newcomers with. Newcomers suffer while members make it a fault-finding meeting rather than looking for the similarities and relating.
I have often wondered why is it some people want to make people feel better and other people want to make people feel inferior. If I were hurt by an A,A cliche’ that a member wielded at me as a newcomer, would I then wield that same cliche’ later? Wouldn’t I access that the statement was hurtful therefore I would find another way to express a similar thought? However I do see people using the same tools that hurt them to hurt other people. It’s not surprising that many people just get tired of A.A.
Granted A.A is the perfect platform for a minister or counselor to catapult his career. Some groups will allow any member with 30 days sobriety to take meetings into jails and institutions. These people could have audience to hundreds of people in no time while they share their story and their own interpretation of what the 12 steps really are and how to work them. Right or wrong if they are offering hope to the hopeless it good. Service work is a wonderful thing if it’s done with kindness. It does not take brash, and mean cliche’s to share the program of A.A.
Why are so many members so defensive when it comes to their 12 step program? That’s simple in the addict mind things are either good or bad so if someone points out one wrong thing with their A.A then that means that the entire program is bad, which in turn in the perception of the insecure addict makes themselves bad as well because they are a member. An insecure man with low self-worth is defensive because he feels he needs to be to make himself look better…and if his program looks bad he looks bad.
Feeling we need to defend A.A. is akin to thinking we have to defend God Himself who clearly doesn’t need us for It’s defense, It is the almighty It needs no defending because no one can bring it down. Both God and A.A. I think the only one that could truly bring down the 12 steps and their programs would be He who established it to begin with (and I don’t mean Bill W. I mean God Itself, Himself, Herself. (Choose your own descriptive word.)
Satan or self?
What would Satan do….just a little joke joke…remember rule 62 : Don’t take yourself so damn seriously! But pretty sure Satan would play the blame game and not take responsibility for his own actions. In AA we learn to own all our actions. Own it!
Hmmm Alright since we are talking about the voices in our heads. I choose not to glorify Satan or give him credit or blame for my own consciousness. How-ever I acknowledge the existence of evil and dark forces whatever name they may be given.
Anyhow I personally have a committee sitting on bleachers in my head. They observe and sometimes criticize my actions. I will label them “society”. They are my perceptions of what others think of me and they could be accurate or way off base with their ideas. They believe that “The world revolves around my belly button” per-say.
Here are the rest of the people in my head. I have a guy (sloth/fear) who lies in bed all the time and wants me to stay paralyzed in bed. He wants to hide from the light of life. Get busy dying instead of living. Its best I resist him he wants to isolate me.
Then I have a red-headed woman who is simply “fear and attack” she is very critical of me and others. Really she just needs to know everything is going to be OK and she does not have to be afraid and react in critical and insecure fear. She is a part of me I need to accept her to help her heal.
These characters are in essence are my core “character defects/flaws”. They were revealed to me in a vivid dream at about a year sober. I wrote the dream down; it was a revelation of who I am and who I do not want to be. They are NOT some enemy rather a part of me in need of healing. They should be understood, resisted, ignored, and I should be aware they are usually mistaken. They will push Love out of my life in error by their/my misguided self-destructive solutions of resentment, blame and twisted perception.
If I label the committee some evil outer entity then the 12 steps, fear list and sexual inventory are useless in over-coming them. Only thing I can do with Satan is the third step by which I put him and his demons into the God box or into God’s hands. The only thing I can do with Satan is resist the temptation he, it, they, and I put in front of me.
The steps really do work when I work them! As for Satan why concern myself with him when I can neither change him nor kill him? I can only work on my own stuff; Satan will answer to God who gave him the power to tempt me in the first place. After all doesn’t the Bible say “all things are of God” 2nd Corinthians 5:18.
Thank you “Elmer” for your insight on emotional tools which you shared at the Triangle Club to help the guys your worked with get well.
In Gainesville ******ics Anonymous Program some of us have a certain tradition. I am not talking about the 12 traditions right now. I am talking about an exercise that we do in accordance with the fifth step. This tradition keeps us SANE, AND SOBER. This tradition keeps shame at bay which is the number one reason people leave the program…shame. Yes “resentment is the number one offender but it is not the #1 reason people that have the program working for them yet choose to leave. Ok yes they leave because they drank or wanted to drink and then the shame sets back in.
The Gainesville tradition that I am referring to is that we share in our meeting “WHAT HAPPENED AND HOW IT MADE US FEEL.” We have learned that keeping secrets about our INTENSE feelings will kill us. We have learned that all the repressed emotions in the world will not change who we are. We have learned how to come to terms with who we are and to accept that. But not only accept..WE SHARE NOT ONLY “WHAT HAPPENED” BUT “HOW IT MADE US FEEL”
This is the magic children. This is the one thing that 12 step programs around the world are missing. THERE IS NO WRONG FEELING ONLY WRONG ACTIONS. If we label our feelings “wrong” we are labelling ourselves wrong. Every feeling that we have is for a valid reason and is valid. Granted we don’t share all of our feelings nor do we allow our feelings to rule over us. However, we do respect and honor our feelings, they are valid. No we don’t run around having to express every small felling we have. There is a time to say “feelings aren’t facts” and simply ignore them. But there are on the other hand feelings that are eating our lunch that need to come out… Otherwise we may slip into our old behavior of projecting and blaming others for the way we feel. So we put our intense and nagging emotions into the middle of the meeting room so they get absorbed and carried away by the Spirit of the program. This my friend is one of the most important solutions I have. It is just as important as not holding resentments. Similar article “Men in Recovery”
By Adam J. Pearson. Recovery Farmhouse Thanks you Adam Pearson for your courageous bravery which you have exhibited by addressing a topic most people run from. The topic of shame is one that should be addressed by each of our hearts. Until we examine our shame we cannot claim to know ourselves. If we say we have no shame we have not examined ourselves any further than ego and false pride will allow. We will not be ashamed of being ashamed!…..The Farmhouse.
The Wisdom of Eamonn Perkins
Eamonn Perkins is a wise, humble and tremendously compassionate teacher from Ireland who spends much of his time working with addicts and prisoners. He’s so low-key that, as of this writing, he doesn’t even have a website. In a 2014 interview, Eamann said something brilliantly concise and and equally incisive:
“If you truly knew me, you wouldn’t like me,” that’s the mantra of human existence. “
I love this line. It’s so simple and so profound. It’s one of those ideas that is so powerful that it momentarily stuns us into silence. Words like these hit home somewhere deep within us and resonate with something in the darkness that wants to be seen, a hidden truth that yearns to come to light. I couldn’t agree more with the truth of the statement, especially in our current global situation in which we have so much information and yet paradoxically feel so lost, are so socially connected and yet so lonely, and are so encouraged to puff up our egos and yet so inwardly drowning in a sea of shame.
And if shame–the intensely painful feeling that we are in some way flawed or not good enough and are, therefore, unworthy of love, belonging and connection–is the cause of our drowning, then it’s no surprise that we’re all desperately searching for a lifeline out of it.
“If you truly knew me, you wouldn’t like me” is the secret belief, the shameful idea, the “mantra of human existence.”
When we believe this story, we meet each other from a place of fear and put up fronts and facades. We operate from a feeling of inadequacy and hide out of reflex. We refuse to let ourselves really show up and be seen out of the fear of being judged or rejected. And very slowly and very quietly, this message, which is the voice of shame within us, begins to stifle life. Without understanding, we watch it happen, wishing we had the words to describe what is going on and the tools to handle it.
As if paralyzed, we watch shame crush our free expression. The fear at its core blocks our creativity and replaces honesty with self-defensive lies. It makes us scramble for escapes and distractions to avoid the excruciating pain that is fundamental to shame. And while saying that we would never want to be anything but authentic, we find ourselves so afraid to be real and not belong that we choose to be inauthentic in order to fit in.
Shame is Widespread
Lady Godiva statue by John Thomas (1813 – 1862), Maidstone Museum, Kent, England.
This pattern is so common and yet so unspoken. “The less you talk about shame, the more you have it,” says the brilliant and inspiring shame researcher Brene Brown in her renowned TED talk, “The Power of Vulnerability.” “The only people who don’t have it” she continues, “also have no capacity for human empathy or connection.”
Shame is incredibly universal. I’ve seen it in the students I’ve taught. I’ve seen it in the men and women I’ve known. I’ve seen it in my friends. I’ve seen it expressed in the media on TV. And I’ve seen it in myself. For 25 years of my life, shame stifled and held me down like a heavy and unspoken weight. I feel for, and with, all of those who struggle with shame because I get them. Shame varies in the details from person to person, but its core is always the same.
This is one reason why I’m open about shame, because I’ve struggled with it, because so many people do, and because shame grows in silence and “cannot survive being spoken” (Brown, 2013). When I do openly talk to people about shame, I tend to hear the same thing over and over again: “I thought it was just me…” Oh yeah. I know that feeling. Shame is tremendously effective at making us feel like we’re the only ones who feel it, when the truth is that it comes up in nearly all of us.
Shame Itself is Fear, Our Prison and the Key to Freedom
Facing shame can sometimes feel terrifying because shame itself is fear, the fear of not being enough and being unworthy, unlovable, and rejected as a result. The basic truth, as I see it, though, is this: if we want to flourish, if we want to be boldly authentic, if we want to truly love and be loved, if we want to transcend fear, if we want to cultivate kindness and forgiveness, if we want to find peace, then we need to face shame rather than deny, repress, and project it. We need to meet it in an intelligent and self-compassionate way that works.
And that’s why I spend so much time and so many words writing about shame. Because it’s the substance out of which we forged the bars of our internal prison. And it’s also the key to our liberation.
Resources on Shame and Cultivating Shame-Resilience
If anything I said above resonates, rings true, or sounds familiar to what you or people you know have felt, here are some resources that I’ve found helpful that will give you some powerful insights into shame and shame-resilience.
- Above all, I’d recommend reading the amazing book “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way we Live, Love, Parent and Lead” by the shame-researcher and brilliantly compassionate and inspiring Brene Brown. This book literally changed my life. It gave me words for feelings I had felt for years and had never been able to express. It cast light on powerful shadows. And it empowered me with useful tools. I’ve read it 3 times. It’s that good. It literally changed my life.
- In addition, here’s a wonderful Positive Psychology article on Brene Brown’s “Shame-Resilience Theory” if you’re into a more psychology-oriented academic approach.
If you want some down-to-Earth distillations of the core principles from Brene’s book as I’ve applied them in my life, here are a few articles that I’ve written on the subjects of shame and how to empower ourselves with resilience against it. These articles are grounded, not in hypothetical theories, but in both solid research and in my own experience and practice. My general rule is that I only write about tools I’ve actually used and found helpful in my own life. If I haven’t used it and found it to work, I don’t write about it.
However, you don’t have to take my word for it. Let your own experience be the laboratory and the judge. I’m right there in the arena with you, facing the same issues. We’re in this together and we’re never alone, even though shame can make us feel that way. There are useful strategies that work to empower us to work with these things and the purpose of my writing is to share them.
Here’s a brief guide and orienting overview to my writings on the subject:
- “Silencing the Praise: Why Seeking Approval Fails to Fill Our Inner Void” introduces shame and identifies it as the name of the void we feel within us, the void that says we are “not good enough” and are thus unworthy of love and belonging. It then explains why approval-seeking fails to fill the void of shame because shame invalidates approval even when we do receive it. We are not hopeless, however; at the end of the article, I introduce a few healthy alternatives and powerful strategies to meet shame with resilience and compassion.
- “The Heart of the Void: Finding the Assumptions at the Heart of Shame” breaks shame down into two key components: a feeling part and a thinking part. The feeling part involves the painful emotions at the heart of shame (e.g. fear, anxiety, inadequacy) and the thinking part involves the core assumptionsabout ourselves that are at the root of the feelings. This article specifically explains how to discover these assumptions and then how to reality-check andtransform them once we find them. This practice is a powerful tool for our shame-resilience arsenal.
- “Finding the Calm Within the Storm: Shame-Resilience in Practice” breaks down Brene Brown’s powerful shame-resilience method into clear steps and gives a real-world example of how I applied it to one shame story in my own life. I’ve seen tons of articles about the method online, but very few concrete examples of how we apply it in our own inner experience. This article was written in an attempt to fill that void and also to practice “the courage to be vulnerable” that Brene Brown champions.
- “Forgive and Be Free: The Liberating Power of Forgiveness” offers a useful practice for compassionately addressing the feeling part of shame throughforgiveness. Forgiveness was a subject that I took for granted for a long time because I didn’t realize how powerfully liberating and empowering it truly is. However, it was a key part of the shame puzzle for me.
- “Release the Past to Free the Present: Another Meaning of Forgiveness” expands on the previous article to explain how forgiveness helps us lovingly liberate our present from the stranglehold of the past. Since shame is powerfully rooted in our past thoughts, perceptions, and experiences, forgiveness thus is a powerfully compassionate practice for skillfully handling shame. This article explains how this works.
- Shame sometimes expresses itself as catastrophizing or obsessive worst-case scenario thinking. “Catastrophizing: How to Handle Worst-Case Scenario Thinking” explores the fascinating dynamics of catastrophizing. It also offers a powerful way to handle catastrophic thinking so that it ceases to drive us towards unintentional self-sabotage and drag us out of the joy of being present.
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6 thoughts on “The Prison and the Key: Why I Write About Shame”
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- Lisa Kahale
Dissolving shame is like dissolving a poison that is killing, one drop at a time. In its place… space, air and welcoming of life. That’s what happened for me, finally.
Keep writing about this, Adam, it’s needed.
Well said, Lisa. I totally relate. Thank you for sharing.
“PEACE” The other greatest gift
EVERY COURAGEOUS ACT STARTED FROM A FEARFUL BEGINNING.
I did not know just how valuable Peace of mind was until I found it. Alternatively….I did not know how valuable Peace of mind really was until I lost it. Either way there is no doubt in my mind that peace of mind is one of the most wonderful things a person can possess and that lack of Peace is at the core of the addicts malady. When one has peace of mind, they are not in a wanton state of craving, obsession, or intense need. Peace of mind stirs through our being and shoots out from us touching the lives of everyone around us, When we are at-peace we have no need to be mean, or sarcastic, we have no need to belittle our fellows with snide remarks. We are not in fear because the presence of fear is the absence of peace. It is said that Love is the greatest spiritual gift and that hope, & faith are next in value. However, mixed into all three of these greatest spiritual gifts is Peace, which lingers amidst each one of them. Peace is the by-product of the greatest spiritual gifts.
The absence of peace of mind can happen in different degrees. We can be extremely fearful to the point of anxiety, panic attack, and even complete emotional paralysis, which is the absence of not only faith but of peace as well. Mankind seeks out many destructive devices to outrun its torturous fears. Seldom if ever does the fearful and miserable man admit or even realize that he is afraid or that it is fear that tortures him. For he has been taught that to admit fear would be admitting that he is weak, bad, and not as good as his peers so, much of mankind (not just active addicts) choose denial over truth. Moreover, we all know what we were taught about those who fear when we were young and impressionable…scaredy-cat, chicken-shit, pussy, pansy, yellow belly, yellow, woosy, and any other negative descriptive word that would shame us for being who we are….human and afraid. I must remind myself that without fear there would be no courage and that every courageous act started with a fearful beginning.
So it’s ok to be human and afraid but we need to have a way to get out of fear. We need to forbid fear from taking power over our actions. We must step out of the box and deploy Love in defense against fear so we can experience that wonderful thing called spiritual peace. How in the heck do you “deploy Love?” You might ask. We deploy Love by looking fear straight in the eye and walking, or taking action in spite of how we feel. We walk through the fear! If it is sobriety and reality that is paralyzing us then we get up, put on our shoes, and we go to a meeting. We work the steps and do a fifth step in spite of our survival instinct which screams “keep your shortcomings a secret! We deploy Love by doing service work, Step twelve. We pray to our Higher Power when we feel like we have better things to do. We write out our Fourth Step because we want to feel and get better. We put the things on our fourth step list of which we are most ashamed. Deploying Love does not necessarily feel good at the time but it is what is good for us and will bring us peace. By the same token Love tears down our character flaws. Working the Twelve Steps cuts flaws like false pride, self-loathing, lying, sloth, procrastination, lust, wrath, gluttony, envy, and greed to the quick.
Character flaws within us have a life of their own and when we begin working the steps they cry, scream, claw, and scratch at us from the inside. Our character defect patterns do not want us to change and they will tell us all the good things that we need to do instead of working a program because the bad that we would do won’t work to trick us into not working the steps. Meaning, our brain will tell us “you need to take you children bowling because you should spend more time with them, or you need to clean the house, or you need to job hunt or you need to work. Yes all these things are good to do in recovery but if we do not have the foundation of the twelve steps we can easily slip. Doing ninety meetings in ninety days will expose us to the program enough to get us started with a sponsor and some new sober friends to hang out with. If we are going to stay sober and do the responsible thing for us and our families we need to do first things first. All the other “good” things should come after our daily meeting, getting a decent sponsor, one who shows respect and emotional maturity, and working the steps.
Yesterday I felt horrible and I wasn’t sure why. I kept having a bad re-occurring memory of me at a very young age feeling rejected and even loathed by my father. I wrote about the memory and shared my feelings with my close confidants in AA. I felt a huge relief after I shared my core insecurities of inadequacy and worthlessness. But there was more…there was something else going on with me yesterday and in the past few weeks. I have been working toward some business goals and things were looking pretty darn good where finances are concerned. Then suddenly out of nowhere I had some pretty big set-backs occur that threw me for a loop.
I have had expectations; high expectations that my websites and business were on their way up! When everything took a turn down hill at one time I was shocked. I did not expect the setback at all. I beat myself up for not using the money I had been making in a more responsible way. Somehow I really didn’t expect my E-bay sales to slow down either. I realized this morning that I had lost hope. I felt like my efforts were stupid…like “what did I think I was doing expecting my financial life to be above average or even average for that matter Who did I think I was.” “Did you forget young lady that you are a piece of shit and don’t deserve money”. “You have lived from week to week all of your life and it is not going to change because your Higher Power will see to that!” “Give up hope for the good life Laura because you don’t deserve it, who do you think you are!” This is what my head said at a very, very deep subconscious level mind you. And that is what my feelings dictated so I laid down in hopelessness losing the warm reassuring vision of a bright future and concentrated on fear of the future instead. YIKES!
Please keep in mind when you are reading this and maybe judging me as totally wretched. The logical mind in humans says one thing while feelings and emotions can speak quite another thing. And just because my logical mind knew I really had nothing to worry about because God always takes care of me. I still experience the insecurities. False pride will not allow a man to confess his weakness. Without confession negativity multiplies. Fearing what other people may think of me if I do admit weakness means that I feel inferior to others anyway and am ashamed of who I am.
False comparisons are just that…they are false. I should not compare my insides to other people’s outsides as they say in AA. People wear masks and to a certain extent masks are necessary. We don’t usually “unless we are writers” need to advertise our struggles and weakness to more than one or two close confidants. However in the name of compassion and sharing so other people will not feel so inferior themselves we should let them know what is going on inside of us and that we are not perfect by any means. I share to let other people know what works for me emotionally, spiritually, and mental health-wise.
“Fear of people and economic insecurity will leave us” so says the Ninth step promises in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. But what I was going through was a definite financial insecurity….I needed to put my future….and my thoughts into the Loving hands of God. I have a Third Step God box that me and some ladies in AA all sat down and made for ourselves. It is stuffed full of fears that have passed.
And so I had not lost my spiritual gift called hope I had just misplaced it per-say. I experience deep and wrathful anger during that period at which time I prayed deeply that I wouldn’t hurt anyone by my words.
I learned a valuable lesson as I sat I said to myself and God, “I can see why some people do not seek God and reject Him all together. My feelings of anger were so deep that I could only do what I knew was right and true from my experience. Because in the moment of my rage I hated everyone including God and myself. That hate made me realize that I have judged many a man without walking in their shoes or feeling how they feel or going through what they had been through to get to the place for which I looked down on them.
ISN’T IT STRANGE THAT IN THE DEPTHS OF MY EMOTIONALLY NEGATIVE AND UNKIND PLACES WHERE MY SOUL SLIPS AGAINST MY OWN WILL. IT IS THERE THAT I AM HUMBLED AND FIND MY MOST VALUABLE SPIRITUAL LIFE LESSONS.
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.
“We are as sick as our secrets”
|Which Feelings Need Addressing & is Step 10 enough? I woke up in the middle of the night with an intense feeling of impending doom. I felt like I was somehow in a position where I had no safety. I felt like I was dangling miles high in the air with no safety net. In my heart and mind I must be putting my well-being in the hands of the wrong thing. It is not uncommon to sub-consciously put our faith into a cigarette or a pill while in recovery from a traumatic addiction. When in that addiction our neuro-pathways had been trained to take the direction where drinking is a solution. Sometimes in recovery our brain takes a wrong turn if you will. All we need do is put our faith back on the right neuro-road where we depend on our spiritual God rather than a person, place, or earthly thing. When I was a very young child I remember having an intense realization that one day I would die. It frightened me because there is no earthly solution for death. It prompted me to seek and connect with my Higher Power. |
When I experience impending doom all I have to do is pray and tell my Higher Power how I feel (fear) and remember that He/She/It does have my back and the feeling of fear will leave me. Maybe it was the prospect of death itself that haunted me. Perhaps I had awoken from a nightmare that I don’t remember. Do I need to write a fear list? If the feeling does not let-up by prayer alone then “Yes” back to Step Four!
The fear list is an important part of our on-going maintenance in sobriety. You will find the directions for it in Step Four of the big book. “But that’s Step Four I should be over that!”….So some say. However my experience is in the matter of emotional sobriety and overcoming grave emotional disorder I revisit the fourth step as often as needed and Step Ten is far from enough maintenance to keep my emotions in check.
In Step Ten the book reads that we are pretty much cured of regarding drink & drug as a solution, this is true to any extent. “The problem has been removed, it does not exist for us.” However emotions and emotional sobriety are another matter, if I don’t stay emotionally balanced I will eventually see alcohol as a solution. Absolutely we do “recoil” from alcohol if we work the steps but will we “recoil” from being self-destructive or hurting others? Or will we just switch to another self-destructive habit?
STEP TEN-“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”
This is a very limited prospect of which is useless without the rest of the 12 steps.
Step ten works good enough for a quick apology or when simple self-acknowledgement of a defect then a little prayer will resolve resentment, shame, guilt or fear but if it doesn’t rectify my deep negative feelings a little more work may be necessary even though I have worked the steps thoroughly. Truly Step Ten is not much of anything without the rest of the 12 Steps actively in place in our lives. Furthermore without prayer and meditation we are usually not spiritually fit enough to take our own inventory anyway.
Do I have any unresolved resentments I ask myself? If so I need to pray for that person and if that doesn’t work I do a step four and five including “my part” and not eliminating “wrongs done to me” and how both of those have made me feel. If it brings up deep feelings I let myself feel them and I cry.
If I have a reoccurring memory of an event in my past and it is attached to an intense feeling; that is when prayer is not usually enough. That does not mean I don’t pray. It just means that there is something in my past that I need to explore with an empathic listener who can hopefully relate to the event. I write down what happened. Have I wronged anyone? Do I feel guilt or shame? Remember our heart does not have to make sense it just needs to express itself, raw, & without editing. I share my feelings with a listener whom will neither shut me down, shame me, nor invalidate me for my feelings.
Staying disconnected from our feelings is an old survival skill that worked. To truly process core feelings we need to connect with them 100% and write, cry, scream, talk, moan, run, or even punch (the bag, pillow) them out.
Let’s face it folks some AA, NA members are in the business of invalidation. These members will always look for the differences instead of the similarities. Furthermore they will look for the “wrong” in anything you propose to them. This may work for some people…but blame is a principle of co-dependency not a principle of healing in recovery.
Do I feel dirty, wrong, and bad? We must not allow our intellect to cloud our fourth step by invalidation. Admitting core feelings like “bad, dirty, wrong, disgusting, or cheap sounds embarrassing but these are the common human feelings that surface after living an addicted life. These deep feelings need to come out or they will make us sick. Let’s face it not only have most of us crossed our own moral boundaries when in addiction but we also have core issues that need addressing from childhood. Oftentimes adults taught us that we were just plain “wrong” and that we don’t even have a right to be who we are and feel how we feel.
Remember we in recovery usually reach out for some secondary dependencies or lesser addictions when we get sober. You won’t hear it talked about in the rooms much but that’ what we do.
There are two kinds of people in AA those who struggle and admit it and those who struggle and don’t talk about it. We certainly don’t struggle at all times and we do reach a place of peace if we work the steps but we are never finished doing the work while human and alive.
Do not be too hard on yourself for that is a character defect within itself! Come on folks! We are all doing the best we can for right now. From what I have experienced in Narcotics Anonymous the way they sometimes ostracize fellows for secondary addictions it feeds into the sickness of keeping secrets, repressing emotions, and feeds our shame issues. Some groups forbid members to chair meetings if they are on much needed psyche meds or pain meds even non-narcotic meds. Intolerance and a lack of acceptance for others and their personal medicinal status is just that…a lack of understanding and empathy.
In recovery we often struggle with sick relationships (co-dependency), cigarettes, food, sexual promiscuity, anger issues, even your non-narcotic prescription drugs…nevertheless we are doing way better than we were before AA and the 12 steps. Do not think that your recovery is counterfeit if you struggle with one of these? Believe me we all struggle at times. You will find that when one of us overcomes ALL of our little crutches we then become highly judgmental, and our control issues hit their highest peaks. It’s always something! Not a justification just fact. Best we accept ourselves and other as human and remember “OUT OF THE PROBLEM INTO THE SOLUTION”!
Disclaimer: Oftentimes people in recovery from addictions, usually men do not need to ever return to a fourth step after doing it once, they don’t need to talk about their feelings, nor do they need an empathic listener. They are emotionally and spiritually healthy. These type fellows have either had an intense spiritual healing experience or they have gone to therapy for a year or more and worked through their core emotional issues, or have done both.
Alcoholism in itself is traumatic experience to our hearts and minds. My suggestions in the following articles are for those in recovery who have a knowledge of the 12 steps and have had trauma in their past and are in need of an emotional healing from that.
STEP THREE….LETTING GO & LETTING GOD
AT A YEAR SOBER WE ASK; WHATS WRONG WITH ME????
Real Recovery doesn’t always feel or look like quality sobriety
|“If anybody knew how I really felt inside they would know that I am not doing well in my recovery. I feel like something is wrong with me. I must be doing something wrong! I am sober but I am depressed, I am sober but I still have anxiety attacks. I mustn’t tell anyone how I feel or they will know I am not really emotionally sober. I don’t have quality recovery how could I if I did I would not feel like this.”Hmm??? Ever hear anybody share the above statements in a meeting? Most likely you answered no. However the above scenarios show the way that many addicts think and feel even though they have worked the steps and regularly work steps ten through twelve.WHY????????????|
First let’s define this type of thinking and what it’s connected to in us. Let’s explore the dreaded word, feeling, and thought called “SHAME”. Alcoholism & addiction have been explored and painstakingly researched by many experts who have finally defined addiction as a “shame based disease”.In the Big Book it is written that alcohol is but a symptom of an underlying problem. And that we alcoholics suffer from spiritual and emotional maladies. So what is this underlying malady and how do I fix it? In “How it Works” it is written that some of us suffer from “grave emotional disorders”. It says that those who suffer from these disorders can also get better and stay sober. Well guess what ALL ADDICTS AND ALCOHOLICS SUFFER FROM EMOTIONAL DISORDER in my opinion. It takes some serious open-mindedness and lots of journaling, meetings, therapy, working with a sponsor, prayer and meditation to get in touch with and admit to ourselves our underlying malady of shame.Shame tells us that we are not worthy of a Higher Powers Love. Shame tells us that we don’t deserve anything good. Shame tells us that we are bad, wrong, evil, and that we must keep who we are a secret or we will never have anything we want or need. Starting the day from the platform of shame blocks us off from so many good and spiritual things. It causes us to have to justify and defend ourselves. It causes us to be in defensive mode. It shuts us off from Love. Shame shuts us off from God even in our prayers we block off certain parts of our heart hiding parts of us from our Higher Power in hopes that even He, It, She will Love us if we pretend to be someone we are not.
We must first realize that we are human and we will never be perfect as long as we are human so we can never ever approach God as a perfect and totally worthy person. We must quit hiding and keeping secrets from God and man.
We should lay on the bed or floor stretch our arms out as far as we can to our sides focus on God and expose all of our heart to God. We should approach our Higher Power in all honesty and transparency and say; “here I am just as I am, I want a relationship with You I need your help.”
We are our Higher Powers creation and we were created INCOMPLETE that’s why we feel so incomplete. Not because we are bad, wrong, unworthy etc. but because that’s the way we were made. We are only complete & fulfilled when we exercise an ongoing relationship with our creator. Fulfillment, enlightenment, encouragement, comfort, and healing are some of the things we get from opening up to our creator. That’s why the steps work, they show us how to have a spiritual connection with our creator.
WE ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO FEEL GOOD ALL THE TIME
NEGATIVE THOUGHTS THAT ATTACH THEMSELVES TO MY FEELINGS ARE NOT FACTS.” FEELINGS themselves ARE FACTS because they are very real to us and come from our hearts experiences. It’s the thoughts that get us in trouble. If we don’t honor our feelings and journal them, talk about them then we are dishonoring and invalidating who we are. Our unhappy feelings come from somewhere real and often times we need to do some crying, some screaming (not at anyone) some beating the bed with our fists to get these intense feelings out in a healthy way so they don’t come out sideways at other people.
All humans have a capacity to be hurt emotionally by others, if we do not have a healthy outlet for hurt it will evolve into anger and continue to live inside us until we connect with it and express it in a healthy non-attacking way.
Depression is anger without enthusiasm
WE DO NOT RAMBLE ABOUT HOW BAD OTHER PEOPLE ARE AND WHAT THEY DID TO US UNLESS IT’S ON PAPER. WE ONLY NEED TO SAY IT ONCE OUTLOAD, IN A MEETING AND AGAIN TO OUR SPONSOR OR EMPATHIC LISTENER. It’s the talking about “how it made me feel” that heals us. It made me feel worthless for example or it made me feel dirty etc.
We woman will die if we don’t talk about the way we feel. Criticizing others, character assassination and living in blame are character defects that we should not confuse with the expression it takes for healthy emotional order.
ACTION: What about anxiety? The fourth step in the Big Book has an exercise called the “fear list”. We write down all our core fears, we explore them.
REMEMBER FEARS COME FROM OUR HEART AND DO NOT HAVE TO BE LOGICAL. Just because our mind knows we don’t have to fear something if our heart fears it we should recognize it and honor it. Furthermore we should not let our shame throw us into the deep river of denial. Our fears need expression if we want to stop the anxiety attacks. So we write all our fears down and consider them. We realize we are not trusting God and that our faith is sometimes little if we are in fear. So rather than sticking our fear in the “denial box” we stick it in the “God Box”. We then ask God to remove our fears and help us to rely on him, it, or her.
THOUGHT PROVOKING QUESTIONS: Why is screaming a natural response to intense fear? Screaming releases boatloads of endorphins and is a solution to fear. Why do some soldiers come back from the war with PTSD and others don’t who have the exact same experiences? Because often times we were taught that our expressions of fear and hurt and anger are wrong, bad, weak, stupid, ugly, disgusting etc. We were taught that our healthy emotional expression was wrong by some adult when we were very young and so we believed them and we became ashamed and shut down our own healthy emotional process.
God gave us vocal cords for a reason we can either save our face or save our ass! It’s time to let the emotional child within us out of the box so she, he can have a half way decent recovery.
|This article was found at “Mail Online” http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-436932/Scientists-discover-eyes-really-window-soul.html#ixzz2wdLnkgBz|
Scientists discover that eyes really are ‘the window to the soul’
Everyone has a different structure of lines, dots and colours in their iris.
The researchers argued that eye structure and personality could be linked because the genes responsible for the development of the iris also play a role in shaping part of the frontal lobe of the brain, which influences personality.
They say the findings could one day be used in psychoanalysis and by companies screening candidates for jobs.
The results will be published in the American journal Biological Psychology. ‘Our results suggest people with different iris features tend to develop along different personality lines,’ said Matt Larsson, a behavioural scientist who led the study at Orebro University.’These findings support the notion that people with different iris configurations tend to develop along different trajectories in regards to personality.
Differences in the iris can be used as a biomarker that reflects differences between people.’
The speed and accuracy with which irises can be mapped means there is growing interest in using photographs of eyes for security as well as research purposes.
Trials of the iris technology have been taking place at Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester airports.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-436932/Scientists-discover-eyes-really-window-soul.html#ixzz2wdLnkgBz
Life on life’s terms
|Sometimes for those of us recovering from the traumas of abuse, abandonment, neglect, and addictions sobriety gets tough. Life on life’s terms seems to drag us into a rut and the negative thoughts takes hold…Ouch! Its ok it happens to the best of us. However we need to remember that staying home in our safe caves watching our favorite programs on TV will eventually compound our negativity if we continue there. Though it seems cozy and safe do not be deceived, what we really need is to get up, put our shoes on, get some exercise, go to a meeting, go for a swim, a bike ride, bird watching, or any other bright and lively activity we can think of in spite of the way we feel.What daylight and nature does is renew our minds and feeds positive energy into our soul. Going to meetings gives us food for thought keeping our mind sober. If we share our experience, strength, and hope in a Loving way it feeds fulfillment to our soul. We are one with the universe; we become who we think we are. Being one with creation gives us the power to attract success and joy. However we must keep our minds on a positive track and sometimes that means getting very real with our Higher Power by praying for more of Its/His/her positive energy to enlighten and refresh our weary bones. Without a refreshing of our minds now and again things can get very hum drum and mundane and then down right depressing. Be compassionate toward yourself if you are feeling down. It doesn’t help to be angry and criticize ourselves for feeling the human emotion of sadness. Remember that will feed the negativity. Instead be kind get out of the problem by taking action into the solutions that you know work. Recovery is: to not let our feelings rule us anymore. We become strong when we pick ourselves up in spite of what our feelings are telling us to do. Good feelings follow right actions not the other way around. Sometimes we will start feeling better when we get just a block down the road.Bill Wilson and the authors wrote some great prayer examples on page 86 & 87 of the Big Book under step eleven to start our day. You are God’s child you are of great value; you are special and have a sacred calling, a mission in life that is to be fulfilled. God will give you what you need to leave your great and humble mark upon this Earth. The good works we do for your fellows WILL echo in eternity! Don’t believe for a minute the lie that tells you otherwise.|
|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!
THE GIFT OF DESPERATION
|Back when I was drinking and drugging I went through the pains of withdrawal so many times. I went through so many sleepless nights of misery I cannot count. I went through so many fights, betrayals, fears, and neglects and abuses to me and by me both.Now I am older, eight years ago I ran out of gas you could say, I was just done with that life.|
I sat in one of my first AA meetings scared to death and shaking filled up with so many issues that I had never faced about me. I honestly had no idea who I was. I had developed emotional survival skills that were killing me now it was time to learn who I am and a new set of healthy coping skills.I held the gift of desperation in my heart and the open-mindedness of humble and sacred Hope sparkling like a diamond among a dense darkness.
That Hope had to be carefully nurtured or it would be buried alive by darkness and fear of the future.
The people in AA said things like, “This minute are you ok do you have what you need?” And I did. They told me “It’s completely natural to be afraid its ok”. They said “If I weren’t afraid something [was] wrong”. They said “Go to two or even more meetings a day if you need to”. They told me to “Express your fears because we are as sick as our secrets”…so I journaled.
Slowly my self-confidence rose by working step 12 chairing meetings regularly. I was a sponge that absorbed every recovery tool I could.
I still must nurture that Hope unto the end. I choose today to endure to the end no matter how scary life looks. I get up I put one foot in front of the other and I go on unto the end of my days. So I live on and keep that darkness at bay through faith, Love & Hope. Fear would have me take my end into my own hands but be reassured things always, always, get better if we endure and hold on to Hope and Faith.
Meditation: There is one thing true that will end a man before his time that is the fear of the future and a lack of trust in a Higher Power that does Love Him. Surely if I choose Love how much more will a God of my own understanding of Love save me from the throngs of death and suffering in this natural life and lead me unto a better eternity.
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;
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.
TRUSTING GOD IS A PROCESS
“When one door closes another door opens;
but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed-door, that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” Alexander Graham Bell“When one door closes another one opens” Once we have done our Third Step our lives are in God’s care but we don’t always remember that. After living a life of addiction littered with betrayal and lies suddenly we are challenged to trust that God has our needs covered.
Trusting God is a process usually consisting of walking through uncomfortable and downright scary changes. If we lose our job we end up with a better one, if we lose our spouse by divorce we adjust and realize we are better off in many ways. Even when disaster occurs things can end up better than they were, we could end up with a better house or a better car or a fresh appreciation for what we do have. Suddenly we no longer take for granted our blessings. When terrifying changes strike we draw closer to God, often times that’s the only reason we draw nigh unto our Creator.
Once we put ourselves in God’s care He, [She or It] has our back. We can now sit back and let worry, manipulation, and grasping fearful behaviors go. God has a way of pulling us close to Him so we don’t stray back into self-destruction.
It takes practice to build trust in God and unfortunately that trust is usually built by trial and tribulation. Just as we have to get to know people before we trust them; it’s hard to admit we also need to get to know our Higher Power and watch Him save our ass a time or two before an unshakable trust is built.
THERAPY VS PROGRAM?
“I WON’T CO-SIGN YOUR BULLSHIT!”
One of the first steps of true healing is expressing our deepest fears and hurts. We should have at least one person who won’t shut us down. Someone we can tell anything. But first we have to become courageous enough to let our heart be heard.
“I won’t co-sign your bullshit!” scream the 12 step sponsors to the detriment of their heartsick fellows! When and how is it okay to let out our hurt while attending Alcoholics Anonymous? Sponsors tend to shut down our pain when it’s bubbling up in us and ready to explode. That is not healthy. Teaching mere distractions from our core issues is dangerous. At some point in our program we need to get to our core reasons for drinking and drugging. Meditation and prayer will help that. And working the steps first is fine. As long as we find an empathic friend or therapist who we can tell anything to. “What happened and how it made me feel” is the magic guide to what we need to express from our heart. This is what we need to let out. And believe me our feelings DO NOT HAVE TO BE LOGICAL. We should not invalidate our feelings just because they don’t make sense to our mind’s eye. There is a great need in AA to understand the difference between co-signing bull shit and showing Love by exerting understanding, compassion, and care.
Part of our step 5 should be “what happened and how it made me feel” regarding our most intense memories and feeings in our past.
There is a great need to understand the difference between self-pity and the expression of valid feelings such as anger, and hurt.
Human feelings that result from an abusive past need expressed for us to stay or get sane.
The words, “I know how you feel, you have a right to feel your pain, even if, the feelings derive from years prior” are words that can heal a heart. Most addicts have stuffed down tears for years that desperately needed to be cried. Usually when we get clean & sober all our un-cried tears come to the surface and scream to get out. We then ask ourselves: “What’s wrong with me? I should feel good I tell myself! Next our sponsors quickly tell us to “get over it and write a gratitude list” as they watch us slam the door in the face of AA.
Gratitude lists work great for self-pity. However when it comes to the horrible feelings of grief that result from abuse and other childhood trauma all our sponsors suggestion does is add to our low self-image and push us out the doors.
The most common “grave emotional disorder” that addicts in the rooms suffer from is the inability to process deep hurts and trauma. We have turned our hurt to anger and search for a scapegoat to blame for our intolerable feelings. Our hurts have morphed into anger because “grief”, is unacceptable in our society and in AA unless someone dies. When we experience any other cause of emotional pain except what’s socially acceptable we are often told to just “GET OVER IT!” So driven by shame we bone-up, pretend we are tuff-girls and boys, file our feelings under the “wrong and weak” category and make ourselves sick till we have no other solution except to numb our so called “Invalid feelings”.
Is it no wonder that when one of us relapses so many seem to be so devastated by it…
even when we scarcely know the person who went back out? We are desperate to let out some of our grief in a way that is acceptable to our fellows. We all step up our meetings and talk about our pain and loss when it usually has nothing to do with the guy who just relapsed. Few of us were taught by example or in school that it’s ok to scream and cry feelings out, or that crying is a part of emotional health.
Grave emotional disorders
are not healed by just writing down [our part] and transferring all the blame from one scape goat to the next; [ourselves]. Please don’t hear what I am not saying…we addicts have boatloads of character defects that we need to work on however, not all grave emotional disorder is solved by doing a guilt based fourth step.
Typically Bill was too hard on himself. He was depressed for years and doing his fourth and fifth step did not touch his deep depression. There comes a time when we must pause from blaming ourselves for where we are at emotionally if we are to find answers and heal.
THERE IS NO WRONG FEELING
Taking responsibility for ourselves includes learning how to process hurt, anger, guilt, remorse, disgust, fear, and pain. We must quit running from our emotions to recover. We should start journaling “what happened and how it made me feel. This is a magic cure to depression. Then when we get comfortable with that we can share our feelings no matter how ridiculous our head tells us they are. Labeling feelings wrong, staying in denial about them till they come out sideways at those we love most is dysfunctional. That’s what happens when you call your heart “invalid” and say; “I should not feel that way.” Intense feeling need journalled and shared. Intense feeling can be cried out, screamed out, we can beat the mattress, beat the couch, get a plastic bat and beat a strong tree. This gets feelings out. Sounds crazy huh? Well repressing intense fears and feelings is what gets us sick. Letting them out is one of the most important parts of true recovery.
Have you ever asked why there is so much finger-pointing going on in AA or the world for that matter? And why is it that so few alcoholics and addicts in recovery find healthy and loving long term relationships? We can’t make our significant others’ responsible for our feelings and show them Love at the same time. So many alcoholics just settle for the fact that they will never be able to have a successful relationship if they are to stay sober. Ouch!
Lastly have you ever heard anyone in meetings pit therapy against the program as if there were a war between the two? How about putting religion against the program or pitting religion against therapy (that’s a common one in the church). The fact is these all three are good they are not at war at all. Combining a therapy with the program and a spiritual program along with it will give you the edge you need to recover.
Every person I know that shows quality sobriety; have used a combination of therapy, a 12 step program and seek spirituality. All three are good and all three work if we are willing, open-minded, and honest enough to not practice contempt prior to investigation on any of them.
Therapy vs. program or therapy enhances program?