Wednesday, December 14, 2005


So, we did the world this big favor, stopped using alcohol and other drugs, holiday time is coming up, and twin dreads begin camping out in our guts. Holiday time is still using time for much of the human race, and those temptations will be all around us. In fact, that was how we used to spend holidays. Now there are more important priorities—at least, they seem more important right now: staying clean, recovery. The closer we move to that second dread, though, the priorities might change. The second dread is being alone, lonely.

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By the time we get a taste of recovery, many of us have used up friends, family, and even acquaintances. Most of our new friends in the program walked the same nightmare we did and never learned how to make real friends or become a real member of a family either. Smack in the middle of holiday joy and festivities and are we going to sit there alone, no drugs, no friends, no family, no fun, nothing to do but wallow in how much things suck and that things shouldn’t have turned out the way they did?

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No one had a choice in getting the disease, but everyone in recovery has a choice about what he or she will do with it. Here’s the choice: (a) Sit on the pity pot and risk using, or (b) Make plans.

What plans? In rebuilding your life, the first relationship you need to repair is between you and your HP. The next relationship is the one between you and yourself. Ask your HP about plans. Pick meetings to go to, and maybe bring a little something for everyone. Visit your sponsor, take yourself to a movie, pick some programs to watch on TV, take a hike in the snow if you have any, buy some dye and tie-dye a tee-shirt red and green, decorate your place—home, apartment, rehab room, jail cell, cardboard box, whatever. You’re not a Christian? No matter. It’s a time to be happy, to show others how much you care for them, to wish the best for everyone we know, which includes ourselves.
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Happy, joyous, and free. That’s the promise of the program, and the holiday season is just as good a time to begin as any. Better, actually. Most folks feel obliged to cooperate.

Misery is optional. Choose happiness. Who knows? You might learn how to be happy the rest of the year.
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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Revenge or Justice

“If you can’t beat them, arrange to have them beaten.” —George Carlin

At this holiday season, with the ideals of freedom, peace on earth, and spiritual salvation filling the air, the recovering addict’s thoughts naturally turn toward revenge. We all know about the big setup: Get miserable enough and you’ll go back to the potions and powders. Resentment is a great misery producer but it pales next to the heaps of sorrow revenge can bring. Revenge is resentment put into action. It’s like putting hell into powder form and snorting it.

“But terrible things were done to me! Justice demands that I get some of mine back.”

—Oops. That “justice” word came up as though it was interchangeable with the word “revenge.” You can poke around through dictionary definitions to try and find the difference between the two, but there isn’t anything there you can’t bend to fit whatever it is you want to do. Still, “justice” is good and “revenge” is bad. Why? I ran across a quotation that cleared it up for me:

“An act of justice closes the book on a misdeed; an act of vengeance writes one of its own.” —Marilyn vos Savant

So, after you’ve done what you can regarding your injury through the law, therapy, and modification of relationships, what do you do with the rest of this mountain of anger and pain? You do what you need to do to let go: Sponsor, meeting, steps, HP, and a thing called forgiveness. Remember: forgiveness is not letting someone else off the hook. Forgiveness is putting down the weight of resentment.

Sunday, December 11, 2005


It seems a recovering addict named Ralph developed a resentment at a particular NA meeting and stormed out of the meeting into the night. After a few days his fellow group members wondered what had happened to him. It was almost as though he had disappeared. They hired a private investigator to track him down, and in a few weeks they had the PI's report.

It turned out Ralph had heard something at the meeting that angered him, left the meeting, went to the marina, got in his sailboat, and headed out to sea. It had taken some time, but the PI managed to locate the uninhabited desert island upon which Ralph had been stranded. The investigator couldn't bring Ralph back himself, but he gave the group instructions on how to reach the island. The group rented a boat and made sail, hoping that this experience had gotten through to Ralph about his resentments.

When they reached the island they found that not only was Ralph still alive, he had built a fine house to live in. With pride Ralph showed them the house's root cellar, porch, and garden. There was another structure they could see from Ralph's window and they asked him what it was."

"That's a church I built. I go to my NA meeting there."

Several of the members frowned, wondering how Ralph could have a meeting by himself, when one of the group looked out of another window and saw another structure. "What's that?" he asked Ralph.

Ralph scowled angrily and answered, "Oh, that's the meeting I used to go to."

California Clean and a Brief Peek at Reality

  Denial, that old Egyptian river. It is the principle symptom of active addiction. This is why addiction is often described as the disease...