Anybody can post to the blog -- please do so! I'd love to hear from you!
My therapist would tell me to spend as much time as I could on the first three steps -- she would say that the first three were the foundation for the next 9. My sponsor would say that the shorthand version of the first three steps was: Lighten' up! May I lighten up today.
Grateful for opportunities to grow, though painful at times, provide me with a way to connect to the greater good.
We suffer to get well. Ther is no way to escape the terrible suffering of remorse and regret and shame and embarrassment which starts us on the road to getting well from our affliction. There is no new way to shake out a hangover. It's painful. And for us, necessarily so.
If you are like me you may find that accountability to your sponsor, group or another group buddy is difficult. As an addict, I struggle with accountability. I have to remind myself that surrender is not an option -- unless of course I like living in the disease. I tried that -- it just doesn't work. So what I have to remember is simply obedience. One of my personality traits is that of the 'rebel'. The rebel in me is anything but obedient. But what I've learned that when I choose to do the next right thing and practice surrender -- practice being obedient to my God, my program, my sponsor, my vows and my accountability friends -- I experience true freedom from my disease. So it seems that a paradox exists between being obdience and experiencing freedom. I have the freedom to do just about anything -- but it is in obedience that I experience 'true' freedom. May God bless you today and every day. Peace. eSB
The 9th Step asks us to make direct amends wherever possible... When it is not possible to make direct amends, sometimes I write letters to the persons I’ve harmed which I do not send. Sometimes I pray for people and say to the Universe what I would if I were there with that person. I keep it simple, honest, and I let it go. The best amends I can make to another is a “living amends” which means I simply stop doing that behavior to anyone.
Where does willingness come from? Sometimes I have a great amount and sometimes I have the f it's
Willingness comes from the soul. It comes from knowing what bottom looks like and never wanting to experience that again. It comes from a clear understanding of the consequences of addictive behavior. It starts with conscious contact (prayer and meditation) with God and a desire to stop living out a pattern of addiction. It comes from a desire to stop acting selfishly and to live your life always with a clear understanding of what sanity and recovery looks like. It comes from SURRENDER. Pick up the phone and tellsomeone you don't have all the answers and that you are struggling. If you do that ... you've just experienced willingness. You've done the next right thing. You took the action knowing that the feelings will follow. That's willingness to me.
I love the self esteem prayers. I am really working on s.e. And willingness right now. When I am doing well the odds of acting out are small to none. Why because I feel a self worth and willingness that mAkes acting out seem harmful and stupid. When I am doing poorly usually because of fatigue, lack of exercise, depression and other negative emotions - my willingness and self respect go out the door. I would love to be all exercised, rested, and emotioally healthy 100-% of the time, but that is unrealistic. What suggestions , besides calling and praying do you have for the vulnerable times?
Practice your vulnerability by being vulnerable. Do something that you know will benefit you, your wife, your partner or society as a whole. Let go of perfection. Let go of the belief that says I need to do all these things to feel self worth. You don't have to earn your right to willingness or self worth. Even if you did earn your right to self worth -- it doesn't mean you'll feel any better. Strive to be a garden variety human being ... not less than, not greater than anyone else. Write down your feelings ... check them in with your sponsor, accountability partner or friend. Tell God that you are feeling unworthy and that you need His help to be okay with however you are feeling. Read the section on withdrawal above -- that may help as well. Sometimes all you need to do is what my sponsor told me ... eat a sandwich and take a nap. Know that these feelings will pass ... look at them not as a negative but as a positive opportunity to practice 'your part' in recovery. You are powerless not helpless. Admit powerlessness by being vulnerable and to the considerable help that is out there to access. God Bless Bob H!
And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today... When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place or thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my addiction, I count not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.
My biggest challenge is to feel what I feel, say what I mean, mean what I say, to not people please or play martyr or be something that I am not. All I need to do today is to be a garden variety human being -- not less than, not greater than -- garden variety. If I can let go of expectations and my codependency -- life is pretty good. Things are never as bad as they appear to be and never as good as you think they are. Everybody suffers equally -- just in different ways. Embrace your suffering. Be garden variety. Tap into humility by being of service to someone else. Humility is the antidote to the disease. Find it everyday and take the medicine!!
Acceptance and humility are important. Right now what is working for me is connection to others and "lightness" . By connection I mean calling people and doing this blog. I have it on my phone and I think it is an amazing service that bob m. Is doing. For some reason somtimes it's easier to write something down than make a call. This blog is really helping. Thanks Bob M.
Lightness has two meanings for me. The first is to not take everything so hard . An example is business negotiations take longer than I expect, and I get angry and resentful over it(acceptance). But more than just grudging acceptance, but lightness in terms of instead of focusing on the negative focus onthe positive that I have the possibility of making a deal.
And the fact that no matter what - it's not that important.
The other definition of lightness for me is the lightness of god shining through me. It is hard for me to believe it is in me, but it is and the way to let it out is to do the next right thing-and it's usually somthing mundane like laundry.
Great site! A common friend, Bob H., recommended this site to me. I am so glad that you created this site for others, a tremendous choice of service with the 12th step. Belated happy birthday by the way.
Today I'm reminded of what the gymnast Olga Korbut said: " Don't be afraid if things seem difficult in the beginning. That's only the initial impression. The important thing is not to retreat; you have to master yourself. " Isn't that what recovery is about -- overcoming your fear and mastering yourself. Today, I will let go of fear. I will not retreat. I will exercise discipline and work my program in an effort to master myself.
It is so easy to allow prayer and meditation to be the daily casualty of a hectic work schedule. But as an addict, I need to do things that allow me to be vulnerable and intimate. Prayer connects me with God. It is the highest form of surrender. It allows me to be vulnerable and intimate. It is a gift I give myself. God's unconditional love is waiting there for you. Don't worry that you just acted act or that you feel unworthy. God wants to demonstrate His love for you, but you have to do your part -- that's where the free will comes in. Exercise your free will -- Love God as He loves You. Now go get some lovin'!
Thank you for the hard work in setting up this site. I just discovered it at the recommendation of my therapist. It has been very inspirational for me. I'm 6 weeks sober and just trying to take it one day at a time.
All I need to do today is have a program. Pick up the phone call a friend, go to a meeting, get spiritually connected or do something that benefits another. Today I sent a card to my daughter at camp. It took 2 minutes to write it. It made me feel better and it made her feel wonderful. I just bought myself a day of sobriety. eSB
Checking in here again. No acting out since June 12. Feels great. I have been reading the green book, praying and trying to stay healthy by taking long walks with the dog in the morning. I took my two daughters and my dog to the river the weekend so we could cool off. What a fun and relaxing time. Being out in nature reminds me that there are beautiful things out there that can take my mind off my addiction!
Nature never disappoints. I too, take my dogs and kids down to a creek at Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield. We like to skip rocks in the water and watch the dogs frolick. It's fun to be with family in nature. Lots of great memories. Glad you are finding your way Mike N. Keep coming back. eSB
Obedience. Addicts don't like to talk about obedience. We do what we want -- when we want to do it. As I reflect on obedience though, I realize that true surrender is being obedient to my program, my Higher Power, my sponsor and my accoutability partners. When I freely choose my addiction I know that I will feel a prisoner to it. When I choose obedience to my Higher Power and my program I feel true freedom from my disease. There in lies the paradox. To feel free I must be obedient.
One of the biggest challenges I've had in my recovery is connecting with my higher power. I've never been a religious person, in large part because my parents were not. But I may be coming around. Case in point: My wife went out of town on Friday morning and won't return until Monday night. Normally this could leave me on a slippery slope, but what happened the night before she left? Our internet connection went down, leaving me with no access to my slipperiest slope. A repair guy came today and could not fix it. Something beyond my control had to have been responsible! Thanks higher power.
God is doing for you what you can't do for yourself. What God sees is you doing your part. When you do your part He does His part. When we make positive choices He affirms those choices. When we take a step in faith by our actions this faith is rewarded. Faith without works is dead.
Blessed is the man to whom work is a pleasure.
By whom his friends are encouraged,
With whom all are comfortable,
In whom a clear conscience abides,
And through whom his children see God.
- William Arthur Ward
All men seek peace first of all with themselves. That is necessary, because we do not naturally find rest even in our own being. We have to learn to commune with ourselves before we can communicate with other men and with God. A man who is not at peace with himself necessarily projects his interior fighting into the society of those he lives with, and spreads a contagion of conflict all around him. Even when he tries to do good to others his efforts are hopeless, since he does not know how to do good to himself. In moment of wildest idealism he may take it into his head to make other people happy: and in doing so he will overwhelm them with his own unhappiness. He seeks to find himself somehow in the work of making others happy. Therefore he throws himself into the work. As a result he gets out of the work all that he put into it: his own confsuion, his own disintegration, his own unhappiness. -- Thomas Merton
Let nothing worry you,
Nothing frighten you.
Everything passes away,
God doesn’t change.
Patience gets everything.
Whoever has God
Is missing nothing.
God alone is enough.
St. Teresa of Avila
I realized this week that I still have the 'twin selfs' -- selfishness and self righteousness as major character flaws. I boarded a plane traveling to my corporate HQs. I am a frequent flyer and take pride in my airline award status. Getting on the plane early to stow my luggage and secure an aisle seat is an 'earned right and privilege'. So when a family of four with two toddlers had drawn two middle seats in different rows boarded and politely asked me to give up my aisle seat for a middle -- ON A TWO HOUR FLIGHT - well as you can imagine -- I was appalled. My immediate reaction was a big 'harumph', followed by the rolling head and closed eyes and the look of contempt. I couldn't believe they would even ask me such a thing! The gaul. Upon seeing my reaction, the couple quickly said 'forget about it' we'll just sit in our middle seats. When the father and the son sat down next to me, I realized quite quickly that I had overreacted and was indeed being selfish. Feeling guilty, I asked the father half heartedly, if he wanted me to put his wife and other child in my seat. Of course, I was secretly hoping that he would say 'no'. And that's exactly what he did say. Relieved that I would not have to give up my precious aisle seat, I threw out a couple of one-liners -- like: 'if you change your mind, I'll gladly move." All these one lines were to make me feel better -- not the passenger.with the toddler. About three minutes later, an elderly gentleman, gave up his aisle seat allowing mom and dad and family to sit together. This gentleman didn't wait to ask the family what they wanted -- he took action. He did what I should have done. By this time I was riddled with guilt and shame at my actions -- I said a short prayer to God apologizing for my selfishness and asking Him for an opportunity to redeem myself. Little did I know that opportunity would present itself the next day in precisely the same manner. I had drawn a middle seat for my return flight. At the airport I worked the ticket agent over and after 30 minutes of shuffling seats on our over booked flight, he was able to find me an aisle seat on the last row of the plane. Just like the day before, I was one of the first to board the plane -- and quickly got situated in my aisle seat. A few minutes later a Vietnamese family of four with two toddlers comes walking down the aisle asking me if I would swap my aisle seat for the man's window seat opposite of my row. My heart sank and I was visibly frustrated and angered. I immediately told the father that I had already changed my seat once (and with considerable effort) to get the aisle seat. But once he made it clear to me that I was going to have to sit next to a mother with two toddlers, I begrudingly gave up my seat. I am not a small man. At this point, I wished I had not given up my middle seat. Sitting in a window seat is torture for me. So with a few harumphs and a bad attitude I flung my belongings over into the window seat and made a scene of giving up my seat. I was utterly contemptuous of this couple -- especially since they weren't your average immigrant family ... IZOD clothing and IPads for everyone ... I thought I was helping out a family from the third world -- now I was really pissed. Throw bigotry and contempt into the addict's cauldron of selfishness and self rightousness and you got one pretty far out addict. It took me a few minutes to settle down -- that is of course until a rather large woman sat next to me. Things just kept getting worse. On top of being fat -- she apparently was a lesbian too! My God - did I really deserve all this?? Finally, I remembered the acceptance passage in the BB and had access to it on this website. I read that and a few other things until I calmed down. I then realized that I did not like the man I was -- all the good in recovery that I have done -- was lost in two short identical/episodes in my life. I hated myself. I spent the rest of the flight reflecting on my actions -- and felt deep shame and disgust for the man I had become. I resolved to do some work around these obvious character defects -- and today I ask God to take them away -- and I know that God can and will if I do my part to be released from them. Today I surrender my selfishness, my self-righteousness, my pride, my bigotry, my anger -- I offer it to you Lord for my sins of the last two days. I ask that you bless both families and especially their children. I ask that you bless the Lesbian couple next to me -- who proved to be a wonderful and warm couple -- both laughing at me and with me at the end of the flight in our shared circumstance. I don't want to be the man I saw over the last two days -- release me from the bondage of self Lord -- that I may better do your will. Amen.
Grant, Lord, that no one may love You less, this day, because of me; that NEVER a word or act of mine may turn one soul from You & ever daring, yet one more grace would I implore-that many souls this day, because of me, may love You more...
I am not a bad person getting good, but a sick person getting better. Today I will have compassion for myself for being so wounded that I compulsively seek mood-changing behaviors that leave me vulnerable to my addiction. Compassion is not the same as self pity. Self pity keeps a person stuck in the addictive cycle, whereas compassion is the impetus for self-loving action.
“Be still and know that I am God!” is the first part of Psalm 46:10. Here, the word still comes from a Hebrew word meaning to “let go” or “release.” In other words, we need to come to a place where we are willing to submit ourselves to God and acknowledging that He is in sovereign control.
When we realize that we are truly incapable of controlling life, we can surrender our will to God’s will. It may be a matter of finally saying we trust Him. This will open the door so that we may experience the fullness of all God wants and has for us. After all, He is our Creator and has a perfect plan for us when we let Him orchestrate it.
I was having a conversation yesterday with a friend who told me about something she read recently about 'hitting bottom' and redirecting that idea to: 'falling through bottom into the arms of a loving God'. I've always been of the mindset that you had to 'hit bottom' to change your acting out behavior. In my view this was where you really found God. If I say that I ‘hit bottom’, I am responding to the fear of the consequences of continued acting out. And yes, this can propel me to positive sobriety. But for how long? Falling through bottom and into the arms of a loving God, allows us to love and be loved. A ‘love based recovery’ versus a ‘fear based recovery’ serves my recovery better.
Monday morning and I just passed through security at Hartsfield-Jackson Intl Airport. Air travel is test of my patience. Whether its long lines, security checks, the people -- all of it has a tendency to take me out of my centeredness. Today, I want to practice patience -- obedience - discipline - and tolerance. Surrender ... let go of control. This is what I must do. Practice acceptance. My prayer today is simple: God, grant me your special blessing to allow me to take life on life's terms; to be obedient to Your will; to slow down and take it easy; to let go of 'my rights and expectations'; and to be of service to my fellow man. Thank you Lord for clarity today.
I'm a big believer in karma. I believe that what you put out is what you get back. I had proof of this yesterday. I was in Minneapolis for business and I stayed overnight. I typically leave a tip for the hotel maid, but when I looked in my wallet, I noticed that all I had was a $10 bill. I had only stayed one night -- so I though this was a rather large tip. I closed my wallet and was putting it back in my trousers. Then I thought: "I don't want to stiff the maid." My room was comfortable and clean and I thought -- I'll just leave the whole $10. I certainly could afford it. I also thought for just a fleeting moment -- that God wanted me to leave the $10.
Fast forward to the afternoon. I entered a security area on the opposite side of the airport from my departure gate. TSA was forcing everybody to go through the body scanner. I HATE the body scanner. I honestly think it is harmful and intrusive. I had a problem with this same security gate the prior month -- so much so, that I found the TSA head honcho and gave her a piece of my mind. So it was with much anxiety that I knew that I'd have to go through the Body Scanner and have to practice SURRENDER with the same agents that got my dander up the last time. Low and behold, I get up to the body scanner and the TSA agent points to the magnetometer instead. I was the only one of the 10 or so folks in line offered this opportunity. I was estatic. Off to my gate. It was a good 10+ minute walk to get there -- and that's taking all the moving sidewalks. Upon arriving at my gate, I heard over the speaker that someone had left a laptop at the security gate. I knew immediately it was me. I still had 20 minutes before we started boarding, so I hustled all the way back to the security gate. Two female TSA agents were waiting with my laptop. I thanked them profusely -- but I also noticed how polite they were -- they wanted to know how far I had to walk. When I told them my gate number and concourse, they cringed and were immediately sympathetic. They knew how far I walked back. I thanked them and departed.
I get back to the gate in time for the boarding process to begin. I looked up at the upgrade screen and I realize that they still had 3 seats in first class. I then looked at my ranking and saw that I was 3d in the rankings of about 15 people. I thought to myself ... "I got a shot!" The first two upgrades cleared quickly. Boarding began. I was now the #1 ranked upgrade with one seat remaining. I approached the gate agent. She told me that they were still waiting on a 'Diamond' traveler to check in and that I'd have to wait for awhile. She told me to hang out inthe boarding area and not board when my zone was called. I HATE waiting ... especially when a full plane is boarding and there is a real chance that there would be no overhead storage left for me to stow my rollaway. I waited for what felt like an eternity and finally my name was called and I was upgraded. I couldn't believe it. AND, I found overhead storage for my luggate. Looking back upon my day and doing a good 10th and 11th step, it is clear to me that my kindness in the morning of leaving $10 for the maid came back to me in an upgrade on the flight. But I also was given an opportunity to view TSA in a different light -- a true gift from God. I was given a chance to heal and be helped by people that I only had contempt for. I was given an opportunity to practice patience and surrender when waiting for my name to clear for an upgrade. I was given an opportunity to LET GO of FEAR that I wouldn't have this or that. I was allowed to TRUST God. Karma ... it's whats for breakfast!
Good stuff. Been working my job too hard and not trusting God enough. I produce a big outdoor festval that takes place in 2 weeks. I have to get out of my head and realize no matter how hard I work the success or failure of the event is not mine but Gods. Do what I can and let it go.
The success of my program is my responsibility. I need to measure myself by that, not my worldly success or failure. Stress at work is not an excuse to act out
Every morning as we rise to face the day, we face a fundamental decision: "Today, shall I live in faith or shall I live in fear?" It seems that fear is a passive choice ~ the default decision. We seemed to be programmed to live in fear. This is not all together bad; having a strong sense of what can hurt you and then taking precautions to stay safe is an exercise in prudence. But when we let fear take us over and become the overriding cause of all our actions then we truly are operating without faith. Faith on the other hand, requires an active choice. Faith requires courage and trust. It acknowledges our fear but it allows us to move past our fear. If fear was at one end of a continuum and faith at the other ~ the only way to move from fear to faith is trust. Trust is action. It is the gas that propels the engine of faith. To me, life is a journey of trust. Ultimately I have to learn to Trust -- that no matter what, I will be okay, because I'm in the loving care of a God who loves me. Today, I choose to live in faith and do so, I will trust God.
I've had a tough go of it lately. I had an abnormal EKG yesterday. I need to go for a stress test next week. It's got me thinking how much I love life -- even with all its challenges and uncertanties -- it is such a precious gift. I needed some inspiration today. I found it in this video. It reminds me that we all suffer -- just in different ways. But if we have the courage to face adversity and to persevere, we can overcome any obstacles that are in our way. Be inspired to overcome.
My abnormal EKG turned into a trip to the Cath Lab for an angiogram. My cardiologist found a congenital anomaly called a 'muscle bridge'. About 5% of the population apparently has this anomaly where muscle tissue grows over an artery that lies on the surface of the heart. The good news is that I should not need a further intervention and that a blood thinning drug should keep this from becoming an issue. During the week that I was waiting for this test, I looked seriously at my life. The thoughts of a heart attack and impending death took hold of me. I was able to think clearly about the consequences of death on my family. I realized quite clearly all the things I had yet to accomplish and do -- and that time was not to be wasted. It's curious that when we are shown clearly the consequences of our actions -- like hitting bottom -- we are propelled to change. The FEAR of not doing otherwise is enough to move us to change. Why does it take this hitting bottom to change? Why can we not change by understanding clearly the consequences of living in the addiction? I believe the answer to this is simple -- we FEAR the unknown world of recovery more than the known world of addiction. Let's face it - getting high or living in the addiction can be fun. But this is an illusion. How many times have you felt the euphoria of acting out -- only a minute later to feel the pinge of regret? Of course, this 'downer' feeds the cycle of addiction -- ever searching for a longer, sustainable, higher high. This is not the answer. Finding God and serving others is the greatest of highs. Think about those times where you've helped others -- was that not the greatest of highs? Fear not your recovery. Live in the faith and hope of a better life one day at a time.
Two days ago, my daughter was accused of cheating on a quiz at her high school. She denied cheating and gave what I thought was a questionable explanation of what happened. My first reaction was contempt, anger and accusation. I didn't believe her....
My daughter is a good kid. However, I do believe she is capable of cheating and certainly of lying. My daughter is a lot like me. She doesn't readily show her emotions. She's had a tough go of it this year. New high school. No friends. Tough curriculum. She's struggling. A ripe opportunity to cut corners. She's lied to me in the past, and being addict, I struggle with giving people the benefit of the doubt. Questioned again and again, she denied cheating and maintained her innocence.
Her teacher gave her a zero on the test and referred her to the Asst. Principal for disciplinary action. My wife was mortified. Truthfully, I had flashbacks to my own childhood of shame and humiliation. In fleeting moments I felt extremely sorry for my daughter. In other moments I found myself accusatory and asking her how she could tarnish her family name? Maybe its because I have a history of lying and cheating that I wasn't willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. The apple doesn't fall to far from the tree don't you know?. The irony of life is how your own challenges are replayed in the lives of those closest to you. They give you a chance to look in the mirror -- to see yourself once again, reliving your 'moments of truth' from yesteryear. In recovery, it is hard to teach what is right --when you feel unworthy because of your own poor decision making. Maybe I'm being too hard on myself, but I kept asking myself: "who do you think you are to cast judgment on your daughter? Who are you to offer advice and to set punishment?" Yes ... I am a hypocrite of the first order. So life is confusing and a conundrum ... what to do? I've learned in recovery that my life's experiences can serve as a meaningful guide in terms of 'what not to do'. I've learned that I can best help people by telling them the consequences of my poor decision making.
After letting things settle down for a few hours, it is my love for my daughter, and ultimately my desire to be a compassionate father, that led me to take her out after dinner and talk about consequences, my life experiences, and quite frankly, to 'optimize' this teaching moment. Secondly, I have to remember that even though I sometimes have a tendency to suggest to my children: "Do as a say, not as I do" ----- I am responsible for raising my children to be the best that they can be. This means teaching them about life and life's consequences. In that regard, I thought back to my 2nd step and I thought about what my goal in life was for the raising of my children: It is my responsibiity to demonstrate acts of kindness and love towards their mother so that my daughter has a clear understanding of how a husband treats his wife and so my son learns to respect and honor women. I need to encourage them. I need to be gentle but firm with them. I need to teach them that attitude is everything. That life is hard and not always fair. That’s its okay to fail, that failure can be their most important teacher. That they should respect life ~ all life. That they should treat people as they would like to be treated. That honesty is still the best policy. That character counts. That your reputation is everything. That there is no substitute for hard work. That you have to give up something to gain something. That God’s unconditional love and forgiveness is always available if you just ask for it. That victory in life is in the surrender of one’s will to God. I want them to learn from their dad’s mistakes of pride, anger, lust, resentment, envy, guilt, shame and selfishness ~ that these things diminished him and kept him from being true to himself and to others.
Fast forward to last night ... my daughter met with the assistant principal and she accepted my daughter's explanation of what happened -- and so did the teacher. No further disciplinary action was taken and my daughter (and her parents) were very relieved. Another opportunity ... I took my daughter out for chocolate macaroons and and pumpkin latte. We talked about life, dodging bullets and the consequences of one's actions. (I'm an expert on the latter.) I told her that I would prefer her to fail in school than to be labeled a lier or a cheat. But no matter what,-- she was my daughter and that I loved her and would always be there for her. I told her that I just expected her to do the right thing. She smiled and we demolished those macaroons.
I have to admit my own sadness in this ... not because of my daughter or the situation, but because of how this same event would have played out in my own childhood. My parents reaction would be to cover up, dismiss, and not discuss. The condemnation and contempt would have been so thick in the air you could it with a knife. Yesterday, I checked all this into my 12-step group. I was amazed at how many people congratulated me on the way I handled the situation and how many said that I was being a good father. I struggle to give myself credit -- I am a perfectionist and this is a messy situation. But I can see their point, especially when I contrast it to my own childhood. So I'm very sad for the little boy that still needs nurturing. The one who sucked his thumb and wet his bed and failed pretty much at everything. What I would've given to go out with my mom or dad and had coffee and to hear them say: "Don't worry son, we love you and we'll be here for you no matter what." So I'm sad and I'm starting to slip into self pity ... so I will work to let it go and move on, knowing that my youthful experiences were turned into a positive today. For that I'm grateful. May God bless all those kids who are still suffering -- especially those that may have been victims in the Penn State scandal. Have mercy for the perpetrator as he may have been a victim too. Have a wonderful day.
As a Georgia Bulldog fan I never cheered for Tim Tebow. But even as he and his Florida Gators routinely beat Georgia, I couldn''t help but admire him. Tebow is a man of convictioin, persistance and faith. Lately, Tim has been taking a lot of criticism from sports commentators for his verbal acknowledgement or his phsical displays of his love for Jesus Christ -- called Tebowing -- especially after a touchdown or during a post-game interview. I was reading a column the other day in USA Today and he was taking some heat from Jake Plummer. Tebow was asked about this criticism, and he used an analogy of marriage and the love one has for his wife. His love for Jesus is the same one would have for his wife. He asked the question, wouldn't you acknowledge your love for your wife, with your wedding ring, or holding hands and honoring your wife in all things? Essentially, Tim was speaking to the point that he puts his Lord Jesus Christ first in all things -- just as husband would put his wife before himself. That made me think ... as an addict, I have trouble putting anything first except me. Like the big book says: Selfishness is the root of our problem. Having taken the 12 steps a couple of times now, I believe that I have repaired my relationship with God ... but I must ask myself: Do I really put him first in all things? I don't. This is the essence of humility -- subordinating yourself -- your will -- to that of God. Until I fundamentally practice this -- I will not fully recover from my addiction. So today, I will practice Tebowing -- I will place God's will before my own and acknowledge him in all things.
I was listening to sports radio the other day and heard something profound. I can't remember the question, but I do recall the answer. This individual was speaking about average teams/programs that focus on one key win or competitor to make or define their season. The goal of winning this game becomes 'the season' for this team. When they eventually accomplish this goal of beating this one key opponent -- they have a hard time 'finishing' the rest of the season -- and many times after that key win, they will drift back into mediocrity -- eventually losing games they never should have lost. Great teams/programs on the other hand, will also focus on one or two key wins -- but they don't stop there -- they have goals to win their conference, division or a national title. Great teams seem to 'double-down' after a key win and say: "We're not done yet -- let's not forget what got us to this point. We want CONTINUED Success." The parallel in recovery is simple. Getting through a few key wins -- like maintaining your bottom lines long enough to earn a few sobriety chips -- is good but it shouldn't define your 'season'. After more than four years in the progam I made the mistake to think that I had my addiction licked. Remember that the season is defined by RECOVERY and the 'Giving back what you freely received' to sustain your own recovery. I can stay clean for awhile, but I need to double-down on my sobriety until I am happy, joyous and free for life, not just a few months or a few years but for the season called life. Today, I will DOUBLE-DOWN ... I will remember what got me through four years of sobriety.
As an addict it is really easy to fall into depression and helplessness. But I need to remember as an addict that I am powerless not helpless. One day at a time, I need to keep my senses about me and face the reality that I have to fight back in order to live not for just for myself, but for my family and my brothers and sisters in recovery. They bring me back to life. They give my life purpose. They give me a reason to get out of my self pity and FIGHT BACK! Today I will fight back. I'll get in the game of life and do the next right thing regardless of the outcome -- because no matter what, I'm going to be okay -- because God loves me.
I love this blog. I can get connected immediately on my phone. Thanks for doing this.
I know it doesn' t seem like a big deal , but I'm angry today over a pickup game of basketball last night. The guy guarding me was way too physical and my team lost. I need to express my anger and forgive him and move on. Otherwise I'll act out. I know it sounds trivial, but it's how I feel , I have the right to feel it and the responsibility to myself to not let it take me where I don't want to go.
Hi Bob H, thanks for taking the time to post a blog. I’m very happy that you have decided to express your feelings and find a positive outlet for your anger here at esoberbuddy.
I know that I don’t get angry without a reason. Usually I feel anger because I’m overwhelmed. When I’m overwhelmed I tend to try to control things. When I try to control things ~ especially those things I cannot control – I lose patience. I lose trust. I want to do things my way. This is a huge setup for me and it always ends in hurting someone’s feelings or damaging my emotional sobriety. When I lose my emotional sobriety, I am at the tipping point of losing my physical sobriety. I find that my emotional sobriety is at risk when I feel that I am treated unfairly or unjustly ~ or when my physical security is threatened or my image of myself is threatened or at risk.
In moments like these I have to remember that passage from Big Book that talks about acceptance:
“Perhaps the best thing of all for me is to remember that my serenity is inversely proportional to my expectations. The higher my expectations of my wife and other people are, the lower is my serenity. I can watch my serenity level rise when I discard my expectations. But then my “rights” try to move in, and they, too, can force my serenity level down. I have to discard my “rights,” as well as my expectations, by asking myself, “How important is it, really? How important is it compared to my serenity, my emotional sobriety?” And when I place more value on my serenity and sobriety than on anything else, I can maintain them at a higher level – at least for the time being.”
My mom used to say: “Why spend 25 cents of emotion on a 5 cent problem?” Good question.
While acceptance helps me manage through the ‘moment’ or time being -- I still haven’t dealt with the underlying cause of my anger. It is here that some quiet time and reflection is needed. I examine my life. Sometimes I do an examination of conscience.
What exactly are my views about myself? How do I see myself? Often I do not realize that I am channeling the anger that I feel towards myself to other people, or it could be the other way around, that I am keeping in the anger I feel towards other people to myself. This is not healthy behavior because the anger slowly eats me up from the inside. The more I try to suppress it, the more like it is going to explode.
I know that I experience anger when I get hurt. Therefore my anger stems from something that has hurt me. I write down my thoughts and feelings, and just let it all out. Sooner or later I will find myself writing about the things that make me angry, the things that frustrate me, and how these things hurt me or damage me. Sometimes I find that my anger started back in my childhood, and like a dam, it has broken.
Finally, I call a friend or get to a meeting and I check in. It is amazing how quickly my anger dissipates when I take right actions. Best of luck Bob H!
“The Travelers Gift”
“The Travelers Gift” is about a 46 year old man “David Ponder” who had lost all hope. David was a hard working professional, loving husband and father. His executive position was terminated when his company was sold. His personal life crumbled along with his professional life. As his world was coming to an end – he had a unique experience that allowed him to visit with 7 different people and therefore the option to choose to make 7 different decisions.
Find out what those 7 decisions are -- Check it out under Inspiration Reading.
Life is crazy right now. My heart is giving me trouble and my feet are swollen like balloons. Work is nuts. Sales are in the tank and so are my commissions. I may have to fire my best friend because his group isn't getting it done. I'm working behind the backs of my subordinates, actively looking to replace two of them. I feel alone and empty ... numb. I haven't been to group in almost 4 weeks. I feel like I'm on an island. One of my kids is sick. My first reaction is to run ... run far away and put this life in the rearview mirror. But if I'm being honest, I have to realize that I'm actually living my life and believe it or not, still slogging away. I have much to be grateful for: Great kids, a great wife, a beautfiful home, a good job, money in the bank. Despite all my life's problems and addictions, I have persevered. It has not always been pretty and boy, do I have plenty of mistakes to clean up. But I haven't given up. I think that's what God expects of me ... to never give up. You are going to get knocked down in life.
I have noticed that I seem more willing to let go of God rather than the addiction and all its components. My nature is to put all of my problems on my back and work harder. I still have issues trusting God and turning my problems over to Him. The rewards of recovery sometimes seem distant and elusive -- certainly NOT self evident -- and when you're living in the addiction, well what should I expect?
Addiction holds a certain allure. It's relief can be transient and short in duration, but it does provide relief nonetheless. HOWEVER ... before I start believing that addiction is the answer -- I only have to feel the anxiety, fear and uncertainty that universally returns after a brief episode of acting out. There is no permanent relief from acting out. You only want more. Before long, you need a bigger and bigger hit. Then you crash and burn. I must remember that if I live in the addiction -- the addiction will live in me. It will inevitably separate me from family, my God and myself. It is not worth it. So what to do?
I stand on the threshold of defaulting to the addiction or choosing the 'hard labor' of recovery. Reminds me of the Country Strong movie and the song Chances Are: One foot on the narrow way, and one foot on the ledge. Sifting through the devil’s lies, from what the good book says ---
I've experienced the peace of a sober and contented life before. I miss PEACE. It was earned and bought at a steep price .... broken trust, amends, forgiveness, meetings, sponsorship, steps, treatment and therapy. I've learned that earthly peace can only be found in Him. I have to remember that everytime I choose the addiciton -- it will have a deleterious and incremental effect on my recovery. It's as if I move another 10 miles from recovery and peace. Each time I act out -- I have to slog through 10 miles of hell just to find peace again. So while I may find temporary relief in the addiction ... it's just one big unfulfilling lie, resulting in an awful violation of conscience, God -- family and everything I ultimately want for myself. Should I go forward -- or stay in the disease?
I can take solace in knowing that I only have to make this decision in 24 hour increments. I just have to choose sobriety for today. So now, publicly, I admit that I am powerless over my addiction and that my life is unmanageable. I surrender to God saying -- "I can't do this Lord -- please take it for me today." I trust him. And then I just do the next right thing: Buddy calls, sponsor, service -- whatever it takes. The peace will come if I trust, clean house, stay honest.
Are you one of those people where chaos defines your life? Every now and then chaos seems to overwhelm me. When I fall into 'overwhelm' it is very easy to put my program and my recovery way down the priority list. It is when I am in overwhelm that I need to practice rigorous discipline and honesty in my program.
For me, I have to get really clear on what is causing my overwhelm. Most of the time it's work -- but then it could be family. It starts with one and then it is exacerbated by the other. It seems that I am constantly running from place to place. I seem to keep falling woefully behind and have to take nights and weekends to catch up. This causes anger and resentment. My traditional response is to white knuckle my way through it --work even harder. I have to be careful though, I have boundaries around working to hard as my addict can find a way to medicate on work just as easily as my other addictions.
So what to do? As an addict, I have to live what I call a 'principle-based' recovery. I have to have a clear understanding of what is okay, what is not okay and what is negotiable. I have to have a daily plan of action that includes prayer and meditation, journaling, accountability calls, etc. I have to be willing to 'play by these rules' otherwise I know where I'm going to end up -- back in my addiction and doing things that may cost me dearly.
For me, chaos was just part of my life. It took me awhile to understand that I attracted chaos by my actions and decisions. In my family of origin -- I came to accept that chaos equaled security. This was an epiphany for me. Once I began disassociating chaos from security and reframing security as peace, serenity and living by my principles -- did I stop attracting chaos as part of my life. This is not to say that chaos and overwhlem will not be routine visitors in your life. On the contrary, there will always be episodes of chaos in life. The first difference is accepting life on life terms. Life happens. The second difference is that you are not attracting it anymore and you're not escalating the chaos, and when it arrives you have the awareness to recognize it and then respond to it positively (through the tools of your program and accountability of your buddies) rather than by acting out or medicating the anxiety and fear created by the chaos. I found that if I medicated it -- I wanted to keep medicating it. It would be weeks sometimes before the chaos dissipated before I realized that I was deep into my addiction ... work, sex, alcohol etc, before I realized that my medication wasn't working. Only through active surrender and admission of powerlessness coupled with working my program could I get out of it. Of course I had to be willing to see that there was another way.
If your life is chaos and you seem to be constantly in overwhelm, look closely at the decisions you are making and how you may be attracting chaos. What are you going to do about it?
We here in the Wellness Promotion Department at UNC-Charlotte have just started a Collegiate Recovery Community blog. It is in essence a recovery center on a college campus. This community will be integrated into the college school system, while students are actively in recovery. There will be scholarships available, and many opportunities to get involved.
It has been hard getting people to share on the blog, so to expand the scope i have been posting other sobriety related materials; blogs, articles and websites through my facebook to show we are doing this together.
I woke up the morning I found this site and I asked the angels to help me gain more positive perspective. When I read the inspirational reading-boundaries-fear-loss-romantic obsession, etc. I felt this is the positive perspective I needed. I put down my last drink and have not drank since July, 10 2008! I am very grateful to have the combined effort all of us are putting into letting people understand some pertinent things about the beast of addiction! Thank you for all of the insight and an opportunity to learn and pass on knowledge full circle to help other alcoholics and addicts.
As a result of Hillary's post, I have put a Collegiate Recovery Communities menu above. I never thought that the on-campus addiction and recovery groups were now establishing themselves on campus and integrating into college life. Well done Hillary. Let's spread the word! eSB
Living in Faith
When I awake each day I have a choice to make. I ask myself a simple question: "Shall I live in fear today or shall I live in faith?" It seems for me, fear is a default response that is part of my human programming. Faith on the other hand, is a affirmative and conscience choice -- I must decide that I want to live in faith. That affirmative decision then requires another action: Trust. I think of it as the Fear-Faith Continuum. At one end of the continuum is fear and the other is faith. What propels one from fear to faith is trust.
What is trust and why is it important? Trust is reliance on and confidence in the truth, worth, reliability, etc., of a person or thing; To me, It is active believe in truth. Since God is all truth -- it is an affirmation of my believe in God.
Faith does not guarantee freedom from fear -- you cannot be totally liberated from fear -- it seems to be part of our human DNA. But trust does empower us to defuse fear and free us to achieve all of what God wants for us. Trust requires a believe in a benevolent God. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
My sponsor used to tell me to repeat this simple affirmation: "No matter what, I'm going to be okay, because I'm in the loving care of God." Yes I am. Today I live in faith and I trust that I'm going to be okay.
I struggle with the 'maintenance of continual sobriety'. Let's be honest, sobriety is sometimes boring and no matter how much recovery I have, I find myself longing for the 'rush' and the high of getting looped. But it is all an illusion and setup. Recovery challenges us to draw closer to God. But this closeness or desire isn't always tangibly rewarded. I can have really great moments of peace and connectedness while sober - but contrarily, I can have frustratingly painful moments as well. I must be willing to sit with my feelings and practice self denial. I know that when I do, I am drawn closer to God. I got drunk to try and fill a void and emptiness. If I learned one thing - getting drunk just made the hole deeper; drunkedness never filled anything. The only way to fill the hole is through love. And self denial is the first way to offer myself in love to God. But self denial is uncertain and feels lonely too! Yes it does. But I must trust that God rewards this denial and fills up this emptiness with love and grace. I must be prepared to suffer and offer myself as a living sacrifice -- and one day, God will reveal himself to me and say "Welcome home good and faithful servant." eSB
Sobriety and recovery can feel absolutely wonderful. There are many days of peace and serenity – of good feelings and connectedness – where everything just feels right. Inevitably though, recovery produces days where my feelings – particularly those of regret and missed opportunity overwhelm my senses like a river overflowing its banks. I have learned that as I experience sobriety, my feelings become more apparent. And as my feelings become more apparent – I can easily slip into self pity, guilt or shame. I need to stay vigilant and aware and remember to feel these feelings. I have to remind myself that my past medication sometimes provided temporary relief from my feelings – but the side effects of these ‘drugs’ just produced greater sadness and depression – and put me further down into the proverbial rabbit hole. Rabbit-hole medication never works. When I’m feeling the pain and sadness of regret, I can use this time to journal about my experiences (as I am now in this blog), feel my feelings and express myself in positive ways.
Having experienced the benefits of working the 12-steps (a few times), I know that I have worked hard on forgiveness of self and others, that I have reconciled myself to the God of my understanding, that I have practiced a living amends and I have done what I could to clean up the debris field of my life. But sometimes, these regretful feelings morph into major feelings of sadness and pain – especially in contemplation of the poor decisions I have made and the indescribable consequences for the people in my life. It seemed that all the fear and anxiety of my youth, the shame of past humiliations, and guilt from my own lies and deceit -- create emotional debris that occasionally washes up on the shores of my conscience. No matter how much recovery I have, no matter how much work I do on ending resentments, practicing forgiveness of self and others, group, counseling and therapy, it seems I can only get an extended reprieve from my past sins – never a full pardon. It is moments like these where I call a friend and get honest. I am often reminded by those closest to me that my own perfectionism gets in the way of self forgiveness. And am I reminded that I took the 12 steps and that I have forgiven myself and others and conversely, others, including God, have forgiven me.
So why then do I want to continue to hold myself to a higher standard of forgiveness than God holds me too? Why can’t I accept and let go? It is in these moments I am reminded that I am not to forget the past nor shut the door on it. But this doesn’t mean I should live in it either. This is a good time to go back to Steps 1-3 and remind myself that I ‘came to believe in a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity’ and that I ‘made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God’. Maybe I should get busy turning it over to him, instead of holding myself up as Him? Who am I to not accept God’s forgiveness? Pride … there is my problem!
Now I know what to do. The best way out of feelings of self pity, pain and regret, is to serve others and to be of service to others. Humility … the antidote to Pride. God allows me to be reminded of my past, so I don’t think -- that I don’t have work to do! He is using my past – my negatives – for a positive – to help others. If I’m wallowing in self pity – I’m not doing anyone any favors. I must awake to the opportunity before me. Today, I am reminded that I have forgiven myself and so has God. Self pity is wasted time – and we only have so much time to do good and serve others. I choose to get busy --
I sometime buy into the belief that “I’m an addict, I can’t resist; I might as well give into the temptation to act out.” The truth is, I can resist by the grace of God -- no matter how many times I’ve failed before. Our Lord promises that He will always provide a way of escape (see 1 Corinthians 10:13). To thwart this lie that I tell myself, I pray for the virtue of hope to counteract despair. I must believe that I can resist with God’s help and then, I must LOOK for the way of escape He has made for me. I must trust that if I LOOK it will be there.
Hitting the wall –
There are times in my recovery where I need to renew my sobriety. Renewal can come from desire to get back on track after a bottom line or boundary slip. I have posted an excellent tool on this site to help those of you who want to renew their sobriety. (See ‘Renewal of Sobriety’).
But renewal can also be from a desire for continual growth. You may have hit the wall in your program. You may be struggling with ‘where do I go from here?’ When I am confronted with this question – I ask myself a few questions:
What am I doing today that I shouldn’t be doing or that I need to stop doing?
What are the negative consequences of not stopping?
What should I be doing that I am not?
What are the positive consequences of starting?
Over the next month, what three things am I willing to stop doing; what three things am I willing to start doing; what three things should I continue doing?
What boundaries and bottom lines should I set or reset?
Pretty simple right? Before I put these thoughts on paper, I ask God for intuitive thought or suggestion -- some insight and awareness. I pray for His help and assistance. I pray for the strength and courage to do what I need to do. Then, I put these thoughts down on paper. (Where appropriate, I seek the guidance of my sponsor or a program friend who knows my story.) Then I make a commitment to myself, to my sponsor (or to an accountability partner) and to God. I hold myself accountable to these changes for the next 30 days. I do a daily checkin with my sponsor or accountability partner. I gave him permission to ask me where I am with my commitments? If I stumble, I reset the clock and I start over for the next 30 days. The goal is not perfection – but consistency, honesty and humility. It produces awareness and stokes the fire to want to change for the better. And of course, I want to get better and I am prepared to go to ‘any length’ to do so.