Addiction is not a Disease, but rather it is a spiritual malady and force of habit. It is a poor self image and the presence of a broken heart. Our heart can be healed and our habits can be changes. We won’t relapse if we take the time to respect ourselves enough to realize not only did we hurt others but others hurt us deeply. The certainly taught us as children that we were inferior and bad. So we spent the rest of our days trying to prove that it wasn’t true while our own hearts believed that it was.
What can I say? I have been passionate about recovery for years. I made my Recovery Farmhouse websites back at around 6 or 7 years sober. Since then I have written hundreds of articles and engage in numerous Facebook group posts. I have worked in AA for years on end being a member of a home-group and being a sponsor. I have held positions in my homegroup such and chairman, secretary, and the like.
Relapse Feels Horrible
Here is a great solution for the remorse. It’s one little assignment that is tried and true…if we can just pick up a pencil and paper to do it!!!
Relapse brings up a lot of guilt and shame which sucks, however it is the perfect time to get some serious baggage off of our heart. Building self-esteem happens when we take one right action at a time. First thing, write core feelings. Write the self-loathing and the feelings of utter worthlessness you feel. Example: I feel like a failure, I hate myself for the things I have done to me and others (children especially). Write the fears associated with thoughts like: I let down my fellows, what will they think of me now? I want people to like me but now they will know I am a failure. Write all the society fears associated with relapse. Write the shame of re-entering the rooms after a relapse and what that does to your reputation and how it makes you feel. GET TO THE CORE FEELINGS THAT MOST EVERY RELAPSER FEELS UNLESS THEY ARE A SOCIOPATH or can’t get honest.
OLI SYKES: “Bollocks” to addiction’s, political correctness
Click here to SKIP COMMENTARY
I will be candid. I never heard of this guy or his band “Bring me the Horizon’s”until today however, I like the way he thinks. And what this title means (Bollocks) in England’s terminology is basically; “Screw addiction’s political correctness”
YES! A man after my own heart. He does not see addiction as a disease…for him anyway. And even better he calls for a “celebration of depression.” He isn’t saying that depression is great and we should all band together and pray for more of it. No, rather he is saying feel your feelings rather than trying to chronically fend them off and repress. We need no longer fear our feelings but rather let them flow through us. To do that we must accept them. I can relate! This theory is the foundation of healing. Maybe that is why he doesn’t see addiction as a disease because he realizes YOU CAN HEAL AND MOVE ON.
Picture this, a large Martini glass 6ft tall, green olive, plastic sword, and lots of Vodka and Vermouth. On the rim is me in a pink tutu, doing a balancing act. A long balancing pole and 12 meetings a week are the only thing preventing my decent into the poignant liquid by which I would get an instant intoxication followed by a 12 hour ride to the same place I left on my sobriety date ten years ago. SCREW THE DISEASE CONCEPT sorry folks I am not buying that pig to market. Granted, disease is a safe concept for the first oh___say 6 or 7 years of healing but after that…if I still need 4 meetings a week then I have not learned to live the program of 12 steps and have barked I mean balked at outside help. Please allow yourself to cry all the tears you stuffed down all those years of addiction. Yes I am saying crying for two or three years pretty regularly, share, journal, make a God box basically allow yourself some emotional diarrhea to heal. Your heart is not a tough girl.
The Interview on Video SEE HERE from APTV’s Ryan J. Downey
Musician Oli Sykes speaks about his critics- “They want you to say what’s in line with what their experience is like. They say like, “How dare you say drug addiction is not a disease.” I am telling you, it’s NOT, that’s what I think. Addiction is not a disease!” says Oli Sykes, perturbed that people are offended by his own experience. He shared how he overcame his addiction to drugs and some people were offended because he believes addiction is NOT a disease.
Band “Bring Me the Horizon’s” Oli Sykes on Depression and Inspiration from Louis C.K.
Oliver says; “People have become so scared just to be alone with their feelings and their thoughts. And I realized that, for me, a massive part in sorting myself out was accepting what I’m feeling and just sort of letting myself experience it. the whole album’s about the celebration of depression—not saying, ‘Yeah, it’s a good thing to be depressed,’ but that it’s better to accept depression rather than trying to block out the darkness. It’s about accepting it, accepting who you are, and accepting what life is.”
I woke up with my friend depression
I went to see my therapist for a skull session
He asked me do you have any aggression
I told him aggression is not my only obsession
Without a profession its easy to get caught in any obsession
So when I am feeling blue I try to be happy and think of you
But my old friend depression is very sly
Sometimes it wont even let me try
But I am not giving up, I will not die
I will keep on going I am going to try
There is always hope if I don’t give in
As long as I don’t pick up booze and dope!
I will not die, so my old friend depression
Why do you even try
“We are convinced that a spiritual mode of living is a most powerful health restorative. …But this does not mean that we disregard human health measures. … though God has wrought miracles among us, we should never belittle a good doctor or psychiatrist. Their services are indispensable in treating a newcomer and in following his case afterward.” [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, p. 133]
Me and a group of recovering addicts/alcoholics had the opportunity to participate in group therapy from a brilliant ground-breaking therapist and writer in the field of “Trauma and Recovery”. Randall Mayrovitz is employed at Meridian Healthcare, Bridgehouse Rehabilitation Center. The therapy took place in 2006, our little group of women are still to this day sober and very much emotionally healed. And thanks to the 12 step program spiritually fed. Our commonality besides addiction is we women had suffered from abuse and neglect, of different types and different extents.
Please, we all love AA and still go on the most part. We believe deeply in the working of the steps. However, each of us women believe in our heart of hearts that without learning what Randy taught us in group, we would not have made it. The pain was much too deep to be healed by looking only at “our part” in matters.
Learning our own patterns of dysfunction was a large part of recovery. But do we shut down the tears of a five year old who is black and blue from the fist of a parent? Do we send him off with an assignment to write down his part in the abuse? An abused child now an adult does not grown out of needing comfort, care, and an understanding and loving hand to say, “I feel your pain, its safe to cry.” An abused child suffers and until that child is taught a way to heal they will be sick and continue to suffer. Outside issue you say? Well in some ways yes. But also for us it is the issue. Causes and conditions, the reason we (not all) drank and drugged was to bury feelings we could not bear. Addiction is a shame based malady with fear at the helm and anger spewing from the rudder. If addiction were or is solely a spiritual malady then we must all have a demon dwelling in us. For us spirituality is the remedy but the sickness is very much emotional coupled with a lack of spirituality. In my opinion.
EMPATHIC RECOVERY STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
We come together as survivors of painful life experience seeking a place to heal our wounds. We’ve reached a point in our recovery where interventions aimed at symptomatic relief no longer satisfy us. We recognize the revolving door of symptom substitution and feel the weight of something deeper.
While our symptoms and circumstances may vary, the end product of our trauma is the same: frozen feelings bottled inside because it was too unsafe to feel. It was our natural inborn impulse to express these feelings in order to heal and grow. Their suppression has created a powerful negative energy, driving us to emotional, physical, and spiritual illness and destructive behaviors.
Through each other’s empathic support and understanding, we hope to be able to restore our life flow, the inner force that guides us toward vitality and well being, compelling us to feel our darkest pain in order to recapture our deepest pleasure. In so doing, we will slowly render unhealthy coping mechanisms useless, giving expression to old and new feelings and healing our wounds one piece at a time.
I will be publishing more from the Empathic Healing Workbooks that we were given at Bridgehouse
NO RELATIONSHIPS BEFORE A YEAR SOBER..SO THEY SAY IN AA. the suggestion has much merit but there are exceptions to the rule.
We can quickly destroy all our loving relationships due to natural knee-jerk reactions that fend off fear and the feelings that fear creates. Some deadly knee-jerk solutions are blame, criticisms, hate, playing the victim or the oppressor anything that relates to putting down and condemning others to make ourselves feel better if even just for a short while. There is no shortage of people to condemn including ourselves. In the meantime we lose what our hearts really need and crave…to Love and to be Loved, to comfort and to be comforted, to understand and to be understood, to follow our conscience and to live guilt-free.
If you want to read what Alcoholics Anonymous’ take on dating and sex is read page 69 from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Also here’s the link to the Narcotics Anonymous literature on the topic.
There are some awesome suggestions in both texts. I feel obligated and inspired to write my own experience on the topic as an A.A. member since 2006. My sobriety date is 04-15-06. My name is Lori E. and I am a recovering drunk, heroin addict, crack-head, and co-dependent. Given all of the things that I have recovered from including cigarettes I needed more than just A,A, to get better.
However without A.A. I doubt I would still be sane and sober. I am the Chairman of the New Life Group in Gainesville, Florida. I have done my share of taking meetings into the very jail I got sober in and the institution that taught me emotional healing. Bridge House at Meridian Health Care. http://mbhci.org/treatment-services/residential-inpatient-services/ saved my life and it cost me about $4 a day for 28 days if memory serves. I do know at the time of my stay the government was footing most of the bill. They allow A.A. to bring meetings into inpatient on a regular basis including women meetings which at this phase of my sobriety are my favorite. Women open up on issues that are so pertinent to their healing that would otherwise be taboo in mixed meetings. I remember they told us that only one out of the 30 patients in our group would still be sober after a year. We proved them wrong due tothe excellent psychological therapy that we received from psychologists working there at that time. There is a group of 5 or 6 of us who are pushing the 10 year mark of sobriety. “Trauma in recovery” was the name of the therapy group. And we had a “women’s issues” group also. Out of the two therapists who saved our lives and taught us how to emotionally process (live with feelings) one has passed away and the other still works there.
Three of the women that I got sober with including myself have been in long term healthy relationships that began during the first year of our sobriety in 2006. Two of us are with men that have at least 7 more years sober than ourselves and we met these men in the program. Technically that makes those two men 13th steppers but we can laugh about that now. Thank god for the 13th step! 13th stepping is when a member with say a year or more sober preys upon a new and vulnerable member. Technically this can be a very bad thing so I won’t make light of it without explanation. I believe if we are over the age of 18 we are responsible for our choices and that includes when we are newly sober.
We women in my outpatient therapy group were dating early on but we took every action and choice that we made regarding our new relationships into the group for feedback and guidance. We all spent at least a year in that therapy group 2 to 3 nights a week. Since we had a support group we were not technically as vulnerable as your typical and newly sober woman. Without that group I would not be in a mature and happy relationship today. But it took allot of work on myself to change. So two of us found our men in A.A. and the third women a total miracle because she found her husband in Bridge House. Hers was what we call a re-hab relationship. Re-hab relationships rarely last. Usually what happens is the two people leave rehab and use drugs together. Next they betray one another and the relationship ends in a total train wreck. That’s the odds.
Even our wise counselor at Bridge House told us that from what he had seen people who get into relationships in their first year always relapse. I remember in group one day Dr. Rand Maryowitz told us that he had never seen a relationship work that had started in the first year of sobriety. Us women looked at each other reading one another’s minds we thought, “there is no way we are ending this relationship! It feels too good.” And it was good, the trick for me was to survive the crash of the fairy tale expectations which was one of my patterns of co-dependency.
I wanted to RUN AND BLAME
so many times when my feelings would get hurt and I felt he had wronged me. That was me a runner and a blamer. I was the victim. Each time I felt that way I would call my new friends from group instead of running. I would then realize one of two things, either my new partner had not wronged me at all or he had unknowingly done so and I just needed to communicate with him on an honest level and let him know how I felt and why I felt I was wronged. Not so I could be “right” but so we could get to know each other and learn what one another considers disrespectful. If you are with a partner that is willing to work with you and communicate at a core and honest level then you have a chance of gaining a life-long mate. Soul mates THE FACES OF LOVE
RULE NUMBER ONE- STOP BLAMING MY PARTNER FOR MY OWN FEELINGS AND MY OWN CHOICES.
RULE NUMBER TWO- TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR EVERYTHING IN MY OWN LIFE. INCLUDING MY PAIN AND INSECURITIES
RULE THREE-LEARN WHAT TO DO WITH THE INTENSE FEELINGS THAT WON’T GO AWAY.
I had spent my whole life blaming others for my shit. It took a strong support group, a good counselor, and A.A (the twelve steps to be precise) for me to make the transition into self-responsibility. Here are some of the articles that talk about the solutions to relationship sabotage. I really had no idea what a healthy relationship was until I got sober and allowed myself to be emotionally vulnerable and teachable.
The thing is we get hurt and betrayed then we put up walls that protect us from that happening again. But unfortunately the instinctual walls of a sick addict push love out and bring fear in. I had to learn how to be okay with me. I had to let myself off the hook for all the mistakes of the past and make amends where I could. I had to invite God into all the areas of my life that I had been shielding Him from. Without a Higher Power the healing process does not have the supernatural punch needed for an emotional make-over. Therapy, 12 steps and God. Three ingredients to a super dooper recovery! I know many people in A.A. have given up of intimate relationships. Many times when they do give up then, finally they find their soul mate. A partner cannot fix us. They cannot process our feelings for us or build our needed self-esteem only we can do that by doing the next right thing. And continuing to do the next right thing. Here are some articles about relationships and what it takes to be a partner.
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 darknessthat 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.
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.
WHILE SADNESS AND GRIEVING ARE A SIGN OF WORKING A BAD PROGRAM?
Depression is often repressed anger that lacks enthusiasm, 12 step action should be taken to fend depression off. But also a deep emotional process of cries, guttural-outbursts, writing, sharing, moaning, and screaming needs to take place to release the emotional pangs misery that encompass the feelings of the adult who missed out on emotional Love and nurture while growing up. “
Oh wouldn’t it be nice to feel totally secure & happy, with not a fear. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be aware of our own mortality and yet not fear the unknown when it confronts us? Isn’t the happiest person in recovery synonymous with the most spiritual man in recovery? But wait…truly any man facing his own reality on this Earth with eyes wide-open should be afraid. There are entirely too many horrible things that can happen. There are too many terrible things that WILL HAPPEN…THAT IS, IF WE LIVE LONG ENOUGH TO EXPERIENCE THEM.
Don’t you just love those drug company commercials that relentlessly remind us of the many horrible illnesses that could befall us as we walk into our twilight years? Struggling as we go to fend off the Alzheimer’s and decomposition? Or how about the endless ads in the mail once we hit the magic age of 50 for final expense and burial insurance. Or how about the progressive memory loss and thinning hair line? Just to name a few…the better we are at “denial” of all this reality the happier we may be. And isn’t denial dishonest at its core and contrary to every Twelve Step principal we have learned?
Nevertheless, however rewarding our pleasant & various distractions from our sickening reality may be these pleasantries may not be in OUR OWN best interest. Staying in the house of gaiety, celebration, and gratitude may seem like our highest achievement in recovery not to mention how we do enjoy appearing [above it all] to our fellows. After all doesn’t our happiness prove that we are working the best program out there?
In spite of the world-renowned 12 step solution of teaching us to grab pencil and paper to write down all the things we are so wonderfully thankful for, at the on-set of any signs of ill-at-ease. Beware this 12 step solution may NOT always be [the-next-right-thing].
We may be experiencing on-going discontent and irritability for a very important reason. Our discontent could be our call or the only thing that draws us to our higher power. Perhaps instead of distracting ourselves from our sadness we should be accepting, owning it, then we should take a much closer look at the reality of our own impending doom as mortals. This wake-up call per-say could be so we will seek GOD the lasting solution rather than repeated and temporary Band-Aids that we stick on our skin while under the surface we deteriorate along with our soul’s spirituality.
King Solomon the wisest man of all time has written a message to us:
“It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter,
For by a sad countenance the heart is made better.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.”
Gotta feel to heal and gotta seek God diligently to find.
“Fear not” is easier said than done. We need to learn the 12 step tools and especially invoke step three to keep fear at bay. There is no shame in revisiting a third step to remind us that God has our back! One of the first things we do when beginning our walk in sober school is identify, seek, and find a Higher Power. Step five in the Big Book is the magic step that alleviates our guilt & shame but make no mistake, it is not a one-time job! Unless of coarse your perfect or sociopath.
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. “They say that the most used phrase in the Bible is “fear not”
The psychological make-up of an addict
Many of us when we were very small children were often told by parents that we had nothing to be afraid of when we expressed our intense child-like fears. Unfortunately during our forthright expression of true feelings our parents often implied by their lack of empathy and understanding that our fears were not only unfounded but ridiculous and perhaps absurd. These adults knew no better.
Parents do not usually know that some validation of our feelings along with comfort and logic was necessary for our emotional health. Therefore our intense little feelings were invalidated, we felt “wrong” for being afraid. After-all our parents knew best how we should feel so our fears must be wrong. But instead of that making our fears go away it motivated us to hide our fears for shame. My parents used shame to control me. They used shame to oppress me and steal my dreams and hopes.
What’s worse once we got to pre and elementary school we found out just what kind of people express their fears openly. We learned about the scaredy-cats, the chicken-shits, the pussies and the yellow-bellies. We learned that people who express any form of fear will be ostracized greatly by their fellows and friends. We must be bad we must be wrong!
And so we learned to stuff down those big fears into our guts, we learned to act, and we learned to put on the mask of fearlessness. No-one would call us cry-baby again! Ever! We learned, even…to shut off our tears. Showing any kind of hurt emotional or physical would label us weak. So we turned our hurts to anger. Who could blame us…we didn’t want to be labelled by everyone. Between our parents and our school-mates we were really left with very few people if any in whom we could confide our true feelings so we could let them out.
Most of us women in addiction were sexually abused as children. We hid the feelings from that away as well…deep in our bowels lie the pain and hurt of a wounded, neglected, and abused child. We did not trust that our feelings were right therefore we could not trust our parents to tell them what happened…or maybe our parents are the culprits of the abuse. Either way we had no adult to confide with about the abuse and the feelings of self-loathing that resulted from it.
AND SO GOES THE STORY OF THE TYPICAL ADDICTS EMOTIONS…expression of feelings was off the table so what would we do with all those feelings inside us that were ready & able to cause an explosion of wrath. We usually weren’t cruel people we didn’t want to take out our feelings on others so we beat ourselves up for being who we were.
We developed a voice in our head that screamed at us for things we said and did and things we didn’t say and do. We became our own worst enemy.
The self-hate, the anxiety, and the depression that we felt had to stop!
SO WE MEDICATED! After-all the last thing we would do is confide in someone so they could turn around and use it against us!
Ohhhh how the drugs worked, ohhhh how they made us feel better…for a while anyway!
Robin Williams-an addict in recovery hung himself today. Why would anyone with all that money, in the program, sober for quite some time want to kill himself?
“Our liquor was but a symptom, so we had to get down to causes and conditions.”
I have a friend who is a therapist and in 12 step recovery. He loves both programs. But he has quoted me shocking numbers of addicts/alcoholics in a 12 step program who have committed suicide. The statistics are staggering. What you will find behind the statistics is an ability to express and share negative feelings. . My friend insists that all his sponcees do regular fifth-steps in meetings by telling “WHAT HAPPENED AND HOW IT MADE ME FEEL.”
FEELINGS ARE NOT AN OUTSIDE ISSUE, THE SOLUTIONS DO NOT LIE IN SHUTTING DOWN OUR FEELINGS AND PRETENDING THEY DON’T EXIST.
“WE ARE AS SICK AS OUR SECRETS”
WE MUST FIND AT LEAST ONE PERSON WE CAN TELL ANYTHING TO.
IN THE U.S. SUICIDE STATISTICS FAR OUTWEIGH OTHER COUNTRIES.
The solutions to anxiety and depression are simple but not easy. You can find them on my website:
It’s the way of some of the AA old-timers to go to an extreme by denying that their emotions exist. They confuse emotions such as anger or hurt with character defects. A feeling is not a defect again I say it comes from our heart which is a place of truth. Actions are the only things that come under the heading of “character defect” . These old crotchety types will teach the new-comer that crying is self-pity and that expressing hurt from being wronged under any circumstance no matter how horrific is always a character defect in us
POET & SONGWRITER JOHN MELLENCAMP EXCERPT FROM “PINK HOUSES”
“Oh but ain’t that America, for you and me
Ain’t that America, we’re something to see baby
Ain’t that America, home of the free, yeah
Little pink houses, for you and me,
oh baby for you and me
Well there’s people and more people
What do they know, know, know
Go to work in some high rise
And vacation down at the Gulf of Mexico
What do we do after we have processed our painful traumatic pasts, we have a new set of friends in AA, we have let our feelings out, talked about them and the circumstances surrounding our feelings, (make no mistake it is vital we express both our feelings and the circumstances that surround them,) we wrote about same, identified & related with others about same, talked about our shame, and thoroughly worked our steps, we have reconnected with God YET we feel bored. We feel something needs to be done, its as if the spark is gone from our recovery and all we do is work, work, work!
So, I tell my partner “Partner” I say, “I am bored and feeling unfulfilled because I must work, work, and work some more!” He says to me; “partner, set your eyes upon the CARROT” . He jogs my memory by his suggestion. I had forgotten how valuable the carrot is for me emotionally and how it improves my attitude. And so I do just that. I work, work, work, and keep my thoughts on my up and coming “vacation down at the Gulf of Mexico Oh yea! I pack my camera, my bathing suit, I buy a $3 raft and I am on my way! Yaay!! I have worked and I deserve a rest to reflect, revitalize, and remember how good life really is!
And yes, the next paragraph of the song by the way talks about “the pills that kill” but I shall save that for my next article on that and the choice of taking meds for pain, anti-depressants, psych meds etc. while in recovery. If I can’t go to the gulf then I will go to the local springs or wherever I can get with nature and be refreshed. I count my blessings and am filled with gratitude when I get close to God’s natural creations and then I do it all over again.
Step Twelve work gives me a purpose when I share the solutions at meetings. AAers need to talk about what is going on with them. It is not our place to shut anyone down who needs to express their emotional pain. Recovery is about learning what to do with our emotions not pretending we don’t have emotions. Staying in emotional denial feeds anxiety, fear, and secret-keeping. We are as sick as our secrets and that includes secret emotions.
It’s the way of some of the old-timers to go to an extreme by denying that their emotions exist. They confuse emotions such as anger or hurt with character defects. A feeling is not a defect again I say it comes from our heart which is a place of truth. Actions are the only things that come under the heading of “character defect” . These old crotchety types will teach the new-comer that crying is self-pity and that expressing hurt from being wronged under any circumstance no matter how horrific is always a character defect in us.
Oftentimes alcoholics have been sexually and emotionally abused as children and have never had the chance to express the pain associated with the abuse. Getting sober will always bring those deep pains to the surface so we need an outlet. God gave us tears for a reason and crying is absolutely a part of the healthy emotional process. We who have learned the remedy for addiction share the solutions for the newcomers pain in meetings and that is a twelfth step action.
We gain fulfillment by sharing in meeting however it can get old continually being around negativity especially when we just want to enjoy life and stay on a positive train of thought. Nothing wrong with taking a break from meetings when we know how to live the program.
When we vacation down at the Gulf of Mexico we get to go to out-of-town meetings that are new and different. That in itself is a positive change.
And so we use the carrot as one of our survival tools for the good life in recovery.
A THOUGHT:Yep acceptance is a part of healing. Where there is no acceptance there is denial., However denial is also one of the stages of healing. Denial keeps us alive until we are ready to face past traumas and process or cry them out…or scream…or write…or punch the bag.
Sharing feelings is not morbid reflection nor is venting, gossip.
Sharing feelings is not morbid reflection nor is venting, gossip. In AA we find ourselves trying so hard to appear spiritual that we may overstep the line of sane thinking into stifling insanity if we are not careful.Squinting and judgmental eyes pear down at us as we squirm and struggle to appear OK when we are really shaking inside, dripping cold sweat, and can’t keep our legs from vibrating during meetings. Why? From holding in traumatic feelings that desperately need to be expressed.
NO we say! We cannot share how we really feel then everyone will know who we are and that we are a dismal failure! No we say! We must keep an upper lip about our gnawing feelings…fake it till you make it they tell us! Well lets just see now why is it that our country especially the Caucasian race are on so many anti-depressants and sedatives? Why is it that white males are at the top of the serial killer list. Why is it that our country has so many addicts? Why is it that some men come back from the war with PTSD and others that experience the same trauma don’t?
I surmise that stuffing feelings is at the core of our dysfunction. I believe that when we don’t get traumatic feelings out that we carry them around inside of us until they make us sick. One thing certain in AA “IT IS BETTER TO SAVE OUR ASS THAN TO SAVE OUR FACE.” For woman especially we must have one person we can tell anything to. We must have one person that we can vent our core feelings to about certain situations and feeling and not think that we are committing the crime of gossip or morbid reflection.
I am by no means the only one who has this theory.
Gossip is gossip when our MOTIVES are to belittle others to make ourselves feel better. Gossip is gossip when we share with people that will pass the rumors on and we know it. Morbid reflection is when we go back to the past and obsess on wishing we could change it. Morbid reflection is when we go back and relentlessly beat ourselves up over and over for what we did. Talking about how a past situation made us feel on the other hand can release us from it’s power over us. WE ARE AS SICK AS OUR SECRETS!
We share with someone who will not judge us, someone who cares and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Our confidant should have humility meaning they are aware of their own character flaws and start their day from that platform of truth. If we have feelings of resentment because we have been wronged, betrayed, or hurt then it is important to vent our anger first and then forgive later with God’s help.
Remember the drink and drug is but a symptom. If we are to heal from the childhood trauma of abuse or neglect we need to express our anger even if it’s at an empty chair that we are pretending is the person. Things that happen to us as children effect us as children. Yes now we are grown but that effect does not change just because we are adults. Take out a picture of yourself from the age of your abuse. Then you will look at your inner child with the compassion and understanding that you deserve. We so many times beat ourselves up for having feelings that are fragile and hurt we forget we are still partly children inside.
Addicts make the HUGE MISTAKE of thinking that somehow if we go to our abuser and tell them how we feel we will get relief however that usually ends up backfiring. We instead can write a letter to the person not holding back anything and be especially aware of and write how it made us feel when it happened. We can read our letter to our trusted confidant not to our assailant. This is how we will get relief. This process is extremely different from morbid reflection because our hearts are being honored and respected. We are allowing our true hearts to be expressed. We are respecting ourselves. Or we can say I don’t want to face the past and keep pushing down until it interferes with our ability to Love and trust others. One last question…why do we think that it is that addicts in recovery have such a hard time with relationships? Hmmmm
“God I offer myself to Thee to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy way of life. May I do Thy will always!”
Perhaps it is because we alcoholics know what pure and sacred goodness is that we sometimes feel an intense shame for who we are. Is that consciousness humility or is that self-degradation? Our thinking may tell us that even our feelings of shame are lowliness and wrong. However our Higher Power created us imperfect beings to strive and struggle toward righteousness and purity. We while in the flesh will never be perfect. We must let ourselves off the hook. How can we be anything but the children of God as God intended us to be with our struggles and faults?
Our solution to the human condition of an addict is to rely on a Higher Power just like the Third Step Prayer exhibits.
If we start our day from a platform of humility knowing full-well the character patterns in us that were unveiled during our step work then we do have the goodness and awareness enough to ask our Higher Power for help throughout our coming day.
Reliance on God works for us…it is our solution to the human condition we are not alone in our sometimes perilous yet wondrous journey.
In AA we are sometimes taught by comments in meetings and other people’s attitudes that it is a shame to be angry. We learn that if we have a resentment even when wronged we have somehow failed so we receive a giant “F” on our recovery report card! We get the feeling that if we are angry our spiritual condition is less than it should be.
Granted if we were made of Love and Love alone anger would be below us and not in tune with our own natures because if we were only Love we would be only Spirit. BIG HOWEVER! No matter how much we meditate, pray, read the big book, go to meetings confess our shortcomings, work on core issues, call our sponsor, resfrain pen and tongue etc. etc. we will still eventually become angry and hurt because we are humans and anger is one of our primal key human survival emotions. ANGER IN SPITE OF POPULAR BELIEF IN THE ROOMS IS NOT A CHARACTER FLAW. Wrath on the other hand is a flaw and also one of the seven deadly sins. The trick is not to allow our natural anger to become wrath by hurting ourselves or others in result of it. We in recovery must learn how to admit our anger to ourselves, God and another human in spite of our shame. And so we say to ourselves; “its ok I am angry” and then we move on to the solutions of how to express the anger in a healthy way to let it go.
We journal our feelings. We write a letter that we will NEVER send journalling all the reasons for our anger. We leave logic and self-conscience maturity behind and we write our core feelings toward ourselves, others, and our Higher Power if need be. At the end if we have wronged anyone, are not trusting God, or are playing God in our minds we admit our part. We ask our Higher Power to remove any defects of character.
WE DO NOT BEAT OURSELVES UP FOR HAVING EMOTIONS. Our emotions should flow through us and out of us. We addicts tend to hang on to feelings and not let go. We revisit our Third Step…we are in God’s care and we sigh a sigh of relief and giggle at ourselves a bit for forgetting we are human.
Step Three and Four of Alcoholics Anonymous are solutions to feeling afraid
Most likely regardless of how long we have been sober we will wake up one day feeling afraid. We will wake up scared of one of the many things that threaten us. Things like sickness, loss, homelessness, Alzheimer’s, poverty, an inability to take care of ourselves, our children’s well-being and so on and so on. The horrible things that can happen and have happened to us are endless. What do we do on these fearful days? Do we wake up and distract ourselves by attacking those we love most? Do we try to control everything around us? And even if we could control everyone would that even work to protect us from our fears and problems? NO!
What then do we do? We revisit our Third Step and remember that our well-being is in the hands of our Higher Power. We remember that our Higher Power Loves us and has our back. We should not be ashamed that we fear we share our fear and then move on to the solutions. It is hard though because humans try so hard to hide their fears that it leaves us feeling alone and even more afraid thinking we are the only ones who feel that way.
We do not always know why things happen, we don’t always know why we are so afraid however be encouraged for we do have the solutions for that fear. We put on our shoes, we tie them up and we do our work. Put on your shoes now and feel the power that it gives you. Sounds silly huh? That’s what I thought also until I actually tried it. Spending the day barefoot, un-showered, and is the same clothing I slept in does not empower me whatsoever. It is a slothful behavior that I need to change straight-away.
In this human life of ours we do what we can for ourselves and at the end of the day we are reminded that we do have a purpose and that we are emotionally strong, if we weren’t we would not have survived thus far. We are here in the flesh to give Love and to be Loved. We are here to give and to receive to help and be helped. By us giving encouragement to others and sharing how we overcame a state of hopelessness in addiction we teach others that they also can overcome their fears, and their feelings of impending doom with the help of God.
Oftentimes we don’t know what we are feeling just that we are uneasy or are having anxiety. One sure way to get out anxiety is to walk outside and scream loudly “I am not going to take it anymore!” Again louder! After all at the heart of all anxiety is fear and we do not have to let it rule us anymore! We do have a choice!