Wednesday, October 25, 2017
"If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month." ---Theodore Roosevelt
A fellow at the meeting said his sponsor told him to stick on his bathroom mirror, in big black letters, the following statement: "You Are Looking At The Problem!"
"I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened." (Often attributed to Mark Twain)
There is something the disease of addiction believes, and it has thousands of years and billions of examples for evidence to back up its belief. My disease believes if I get miserable enough, I will go back to using drugs. There is another way to put that: If I can make myself miserable enough, I will go back and use drugs.
Find yourself taking offense at every little thing? The weather isn't perfect? Find a new scratch on your car? Some motorist turned around in your driveway? There's a grease spot on your pants you can't remove? The wrong person (in your view) is dating your sister, daughter, or mother? The wrong person (in your view) is president, prime minister, or dictator? Or the wrong person is criticizing the president, prime minister, or dictator? Rent, taxes, prices too high? Wages and allowances too low? Meetings seem to be a waste of time?
Most normal persons, when they get a flat tire, either change the tire or phone a garage or the auto club. A recovering addict who is letting addiction choose the kind of day he or she will have looks upon a flat tire as just one more confirmation that life sucks and staying abstinent from mood altering chemicals is a complete and utter waste of time, happiness, and life.
Life is the purpose of life. Just as addiction wants to keep on using, life wants to keep on living. As it says in NA literature, the ends of untreated addiction are always the same: "jails, institutions, and death." To live, to serve life, runs counter to addiction. To serve my recovery and my life, I need to avoid feeding my own misery---what a friend of mine in the program called horriblizing her life.
Today I am going to learn how to start my day over, with me, my life, and my desire for recovery doing the thinking rather than my disease.
Saturday, August 19, 2017
This morning I learned to make new friends because, if I stay clean and am very lucky, everybody I know now will die before I do.
By handing this same suggestion out, I learned I really need to call my sponsor more often, and share my feelings concerning the things pushing me down.
That constant anger, worry, and resentment is the dragon's way of getting you miserable enough to pick up.
An oldie but goodie: Resentment is like picking up a hammer, smacking yourself in the head with it, and saying "Take that!" to the object of your resentment who will not be affected by your action one little bit.
That forgiveness is not forgetting; it is simply releasing one's hold on the other guy's throat.
Also, forgiveness isn't letting someone else off the hook; it's climbing off the hook yourself.
A new tool for the toolbox: To get rid of a persistent resentment, every time the thought comes to mind, say out loud to your brain, "If you have nothing new to say on this subject, I don't want to hear it." And every time the thought pops up, say it again. Eventually it will go away.
There was much more, but why am I telling you? You're going to meetings regularly, aren't you?
Thursday, June 29, 2017
"If this life be not a real fight, in which something is eternally gained for the universe by success, it is no better than a game of private theatricals from which one may withdraw at will. But it feels like a real fight."
What is the point? Getting clean, staying in recovery, what is the point? What were the original reasons?
To stop getting arrested?
To stay out of jail?
To get children or a spouse back?
To stop feeling sick, afraid, and desperate all of the time?
To end being a slave to a disease?
To become sane?
To become a human being?
Whatever our original reasons, the Twelve Steps worked with a sponsor begins the task of reprogramming to become a free human being once again. With a little time clean, though, the disease of addiction plays a game on us called "selective memory" in which nothing but "good times" can be recalled.
And, you're feeling good, maybe earning money and paying bills. Perhaps the family returns or a new love relationship comes into your life, and addiction seems more like a bad dream than a chronic disease that has no cure. Perhaps you think, "Well, I've got control of this thing, now."
If you attend meetings regularly, you know what happens next. It usually shows first as not going to meetings, no longer working with a sponsor, not staying in touch with other recovering addicts, trying to maintain spirituality on last month's prayers.
See, the disease of addiction, I call "the dragon," never dies, never quits, and always grows stronger. If I let it, the dragon will gladly do my thinking for me.
I don't really need meetings. I can do this on my own. I don't have the time to spend writing and working Steps. It really wasn't all that bad . . . That is what dragon smoke sounds like. It smells like jails, institutions, and death.
On July 4th, most Americans will be celebrating Independence Day. Many by setting off fireworks and discovering why lots of folks have the nickname, "Lefty." Many will take time off, go to the beach, visit and spend time with loved ones, and a very large number will "celebrate" by using alcohol and other drugs.
For those who are not addicts, perhaps it will be a celebration. For addicts and those in recovery planning a one-time "slip" just to celebrate Independence, understand that independence is the one thing that will not result from picking up and using drugs. Instead, one might celebrate Dragonfest: the return to slavery.
Be careful out there this Independence Day; You risk losing a lot more than just your fingers.
Friday, May 05, 2017
It has a lot of names, such as, "turd-stacking," "projecting the wreckage of the future," "horriblizing" one's life, "fly-speck magnification," "asshole gazing," and many other ways to describe the disease of addiction's practice of adjusting an addict's focus until all he or she can see is what's wrong: in the universe, in the world, in the nation, in the job, in the home, and in his or her life.
As an old sponsor of mine pointed out to me, "If you stare into an asshole long enough, sooner or later you are going to get an eyeful of something that won't make you very happy."
Addiction's main tool to get us back into the nightmare is this: If I can make myself miserable enough, I'll use. Pain, troubles, unhappiness at work, at school, at home, it all comes down to "If you had my troubles, you'd use, too."
"What do you mean 'Make myself miserable,'" I asked in rehab after being told the above dynamic.
Then I learned one of the most important facts of addiction and my experience with it: I didn't use because I had troubles; I had troubles in order to give myself excuses to use."
My original reaction was, "Bullshit. It can't be that simple. Why would I make myself miserable?"
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
This weekend I am attending the Brothers In Spirit men's retreat in Alfred, Maine. Flyers and details are available at the NA Maine website under "Events." The theme is Guilt & Shame and what to do with them. Both are prime setups to go back to using ("If you'd done what I did, you'd use, too.")
Even if you do not attend the retreat, the program is published below mainly because it's fairly self-explanatory and make excellent topics for meetings, sponsorship discussions, or just plain writing.
about brothers IN SPIRIT
Welcome, a little about Brothers in Spirit, about our theme, and a time to meet and share.
Guilt, shame, & the payoff
What is guilt? What is shame? How does the disease of addiction use these to encourage relapse.
letting go of shame
To let it go we have to pick it up. Using sharing, sponsors, friends, and Steps Six and Seven as parts of letting go of shame.
Clearing past wreckage using Steps Eight and Nine
FOCUS ON FORGIVENESS
Forgiving the guilt and shame we put on others, and forgiving ourselves: Resolving resentments.
HAPPY, JOYOUS, AND FREE
Without resentment, shame, and guilt what's left is a future as a human dealing with problems instead of medicating them, keeping the way clear for happiness, serenity, and fulfillment. Step Ten, hope, and keeping growth in recovery
Regarding the question, "What Price Sanity?" the answer is, "Whatever it takes."