Archive for Addiction

Endigar 872

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 7, 2023 by endigar

From Courage to Change of May 11:

I spend more time with myself than with anyone else. Wouldn’t it make sense to put some energy into making that relationship as fulfilling as possible? Another person cannot prevent me from feeling lonely, but my inner emptiness can be satisfied. I can come to value my own company. I am a worthwhile companion.

One of the illusions shared by many of us who have been affected by alcoholism is that only another person, usually the alcoholic, can fill that empty place within us. If only he were more attentitive, if only she got sober, if only they were with me now, I wouldn’t be lonely. But many of us remain just as lonely even after those conditions are met.

Today, when I’m by myself, I will know that I am in good company. When I stop expecting others to meet all of my needs, I find new and exciting ways to enjoy my own friendship. And when I do get lonely, I have the comfort and support of a Higher Power who never leaves me.

Today’s Reminder

Today I will spend some time exploring the most intimate human relationship I will ever have–my relationship with myself.

“What a lovely surprise to discover how un-lonely being alone can be.”

~ Ellen Burstyn

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I have been experiencing this today. This day. Right now, I know how to be with me. We look at each other as children running around a bed, each trying to gain the advantage in observation. Like the playful ouroboros of dogs sniffing a new arrival. Both inspecting and being inspected. My body is not me, but my care for it is. My activities are not me, but they are a litmus test of the trust I am building with myself. I care for that one right there. I know you can’t see him. He has been pretty good at camouflaging himself. But I see. Just in this day, right now. Hello me. It so nice to meet you.

Endigar 871

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 4, 2023 by endigar

From Courage to Change of May 10:

I am so grateful to belong to a fellowship where everyone speaks for himself or herself. Al-Anon has no spokesperson, no authority who tells what “our” experience has been. I am the only one who can tell my story.

I find it very comforting to be part of a group of people who share some of my problems and feelings. Although we have much in common, each Al-Anon member has unique wisdom to offer. Through the interchange of experience, strength, an hope, we learn specific ways in which fellow members have applied the Al-Anon program to their situations. Taking what we like and leaving the rest, each of us is free to benefit from this individual approach to our common purpose–recovery from the effects of alcoholism. So when I share in a meeting, I try to avoid phrases such as, “This is a problem for us” or “We tend to do that.” Instead, I look at sharing as an opportunity to see myself more clearly.

Today’s Reminder

Today I will speak for myself, secure in the fact that I am supported by a fellowship of men and women who “understand as perhaps few others can.”

“Our recovery is reflected in our ability to tell our own story not that of an alcoholic or another Al-Anon or Alateen member.”

~ Why Anonymity in Al-Anon?

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It seems paradoxical to me that I would need help from a group to see myself, the individual me, more clearly. I remember the Johari Window model from early days in college. It was apparently created in 1955 to show the importance and power of developing trust in a team to facilitate the development of its individual members. It was not until I entered the rooms supporting the 12 Step program did I experience the reality that there is much I do not know about myself. There is also much that I have kept hidden.

When I share in the group, what seemed liked wisdom in my cranium is either confirmed as something of value to retain or revealed to be neural clutter that should be discarded or recycled. When I hear others share I am given reaffirming connection or an unconsidered new perspective. A room full of individuals all risk fearful exposure for a common purpose which is to become a better version of ourselves free of the damning effects of alcoholism or addiction. Maybe I should only speak for myself. This is what the fellowship has been for me.

Endigar 870

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on December 26, 2022 by endigar

From Courage to Change of May 9:

One evening, I was taken by surprise when another member complimented me. I was very uncomfortable with this gesture of kindness, feeling inside that I didn’t deserve it. When I tied to talk her out of her kind words, she refused to take them back. She insisted that I deserved her compliment, and others as well. I began to realize how far down my feelings of self-worth had sunk while living with an alcoholic. I couldn’t even consider that there might be something nice about me!

My Sponsor suggested that I make a list of the things I liked about myself. It was awkward and embarrassing, and my list was very short, but it was a start. When I shared it with my Sponsor, she agreed with every nice thing I said about myself, refusing to let me negate them when I tried instead to focus on my shortcomings. As a result, I am learning to like myself and to see that I have many qualities that are worthy of compliments.

Today’s Reminder

One way to learn to love myself is to accept the love of others. Even if I don’t feel deserving, I can be grateful for another’s kindness. And if I appreciate something about someone else, I can tell them so. A small gesture can go a long way toward healing a hurting soul.

“I’ve heard people in Al-Anon say they got back their self-worth. I never had any in my life, so it was a whole new feeling to like the person called ‘me'”

~As We Understood . . .

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I have never tried to make a list of things I like about myself. I do have a persistent desire to do more than just survive life. I like that I am able to do what I have to do. I am able to lead when it is needed. I have a flame of creative productivity. I am somewhat intelligent. I listen to others empathetically. Yet I feel most of the good within is potential rather than active. I sat on this reflection for some time now. I suppose I will have to say with Joni Mitchell that I don’t know clouds, love, or life at all. Namely, I don’t know me. Maybe a future version of me will be able to respond better.

UPDATE as of 13 Jan 2023: Yesterday, I was introduced to a fellowship. It seems most appropriate to mention it here in this writing because I think I was struggling with the reality of an inner child in desperate need of some re-parenting. It is a local ACA (Adult Children of Alcoholics & Dysfunctional Families) group. Someone in my support group sent me something called “The Laundry List.” I most definitely relate. I picked up a Welcome Coin last night.

The Laundry List – 14 Traits of an Adult Child of an Alcoholic

  1. We became isolated and afraid of people and authority figures.
  2. We became approval seekers and lost our identity in the process.
  3. We are frightened by angry people and any personal criticism (seeing this situation as a literal threat)
  4. We either become alcoholics, marry them or both, or find another compulsive personality such as a workaholic to fulfill our sick abandonment needs.
  5. We live life from the viewpoint of victims and we are attracted by that weakness in our love and friendship relationships.
  6. We have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility and it is easier for us to be concerned with others rather than ourselves; this enables us not to look too closely at our own faults, etc.
  7. We get guilt feelings when we stand up for ourselves instead of giving in to others.
  8. We became addicted to excitement.
  9. We confuse love and pity and tend to “love” people we can “pity” and “rescue.”
  10. We have “stuffed” our feelings from our traumatic childhoods and have lost the ability to feel or expresss our feelings beause it hurts so much (Denial).
  11. We judge ourselves harshly and have a very low sense of self-esteem.
  12. We are dependent personalities who are terrified of abandonment and will do anything to hold on to a relationship in order not to expereince paniful abandonment feelings, which we received from living with sick people who were never there emotioonally for us.
  13. Alcoholism is a family disease; and we became para-alcoholics and took on the characteristics of that disease even though we did not pick up the drink.
  14. Para-alcoholics are reactors rather than actors.

Endigar 869

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on November 24, 2022 by endigar

From Courage to Change of May 8:

“Yes, but . . .” These two words have become a signal to me that I am refusing to accept something over which I am powerless. My world is rich with wonderful gifts: beauty, a loving fellowship, and challenges that strengthen and prepare me for a better life. Is it worth it to deny these gifts by wishing things were different? Will it make them change? No! I prefer to accept them gladly, enjoy them thoroughly, and humbly accept the reality my Higher Power offers without any “yes, buts.”

The harsh tone, the unkind word, the apparent indifference of another is usually over in a few minutes. What price am I paying by holding on to those few minutes? I don’t have to like reality, only to accept it for what it is. This day is too precious to waste by resenting things I can’t change. When I accept everything as it is, I tend to be reasonably serene. When I spend my time wishing things were different, I know that serenity has lost its priority.

Today’s Remember

While I am responsible for changing what I can, I have to let go of the rest if I want peace of mind. Just for today I will love myself enough to give up a struggle over something that is out of my hands.

“By yielding you may obtain victory.”

~ Ovid

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When do I seek to foster acceptance in my life? What circumstances would be better met with neutrality? The following assertions are realities for which I am learning to surrender myself:

My efforts must not require me to cut myself off from my support network. I accept that I am more likely to make good decisions in the light of invested accountability.

My actions need to have the strength and steady growth of an Oak. Explosive impulses scorch the earth like lightening blasts. My energy must find safe conductors to be useful. This is something I accept to build a life I no longer need to escape. “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” ~ James Clear in Atomic Habits.

I need to accept gifts in my life and recognize them with gratitude. My Higher Power does not provide frivolously. All magic that finds me has a purpose to be fulfilled. I must accept that gifts from beyond strongly imply stewardship and a personal need I may not currently understand. I accept that such gifts are a quest and not a destination.

I accept that helping others is more powerful than conquering enemies. It is this potent usefulness that I protect from the bloodlust of my isolated ego. I accept that this is how honor is built.

I accept that I will fail while trying. I accept that failure is my teacher while I work. I accept that my perception will make failure a teacher or a mental illness in my life. “There is a lion outside! I shall be killed in the streets” ~ Proverbs 22:13 and “There is a lion in the road, there is a lion in the streets” ~ Proverbs 26:13 are both quotes from the lazy man. His fears quench the fire out of his motivation. He loses heart because he sees failure as a threat. Embracing a quivering fear of failure produces a lazy, withdrawal from the interactive life. This seems to me to be the ultimate failure.

There was a man who had a face that looked a lot like me
I saw him in the mirror and I fought him in the street
Then when he turned away, I shot him in the head
Then I came to realize, I had killed myself

Exploder by Audioslave

Endigar 868

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on November 11, 2022 by endigar

From Courage to Change of May 7:

Why do I find it so hard to accept that alcoholism is a disease? Would I blame a diabetic or a cancer patient for their symptoms? Of course not. I know that willpower alone is not enough to defeat a disease. If alcoholics could simply stop drinking whenever they wanted, many would have stopped long ago. It would do me no good to plead, berate, or reason with tuberculosis; I will not waste my time pleading, berating, or reasoning with alcoholism.

I therefore resolve to stop blaming the alcoholic for what is beyond his or her control — including the compulsion to drink. Instead, I’ll direct my efforts where they can do some good: I will commit myself to my own recovery. I know that improved health in one family member can have a profound effect on the rest of the family. In this way, I can make a much stronger contribution to the well-being of those I love than I ever could by trying to combat a disease that can’t be controlled.

Today’s Reminder

When I accept that alcoholism is a disease, it becomes easier to recognize that I, too, have been affected by something beyond my control, and to begin to recover from those effects.

“Whether or not the alcoholic achieves sobriety, the time for the family members to begin working on their own recovery is now.”

~ A Guide for the Family of the Alcoholic

END OF QUOTE—————————————

What would my young adulthood have been like if I had found Al-Anon before I activated my alcoholism? My mother’s father died of alcoholism when she was seventeen. She idolized him and was devastated by his tragic end. And through her untreated response to his alcoholism the disease continued to take its toll on our family long after its primary host was buried. My siblings who suffered from addiction or mental distress were enabled to live on in their suffering. We were isolated by family pride. Those family members who succeeded to develop something for themselves were expected to attempt rescue of those who were in need of professional help. The rescue was to be a prevention of consequences and not an exposure to accountability. The disease had turned our family into an embrace that smothers.

The wasted life, the pain, the unfairness of this dark network makes it easy to blame the carriers of the disease. I lose the objectivity of treatment when my resentments fester. There is no emotional connection to a parasite. I take Steps to remove it from my life and let my own health act as a beacon of hope for those I love. I can safely draw close to the people I love while staying detached from that insidious blood-sucker, alcoholism.

Endigar 867

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on October 26, 2022 by endigar

From Courage to Change of May 6:

I was intimidated by Step Five, because it meant revealing my darkest secrets to another person. Afraid that I would be rejected for being less than prefect, I put so much energy into hiding the truth that, although no once rejected me, I was as isolated and lonely as if they had.

When I realized how painful it was to continue living that way, I found a Sponsor and asked for help. We worked the Fifth Step, and I shared some of m characteristics and attitudes that I found particularly shameful. My Sponsor began to laugh. “You see,” he quickly explained, “I’m laughing because five years ago I sad the same things to my Sponsor, almost word for word!”

I would never have imagined the universality of my experiences. I would never have guessed that, in sharing what I felt made me different from other people, I would discover how alike we all really are.

Today’s Reminder

Many have known shame and fear and many have known joy. Sharing mine with others today will make my ride through life a smoother one.

“Deep down I had the nagging knowledge that there would be no real relief from myself until I could bring my problem out in the open and talk to somebody else about it . . .” ~ As We Understood . . .

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I have done Step 5 three times in my struggle to find the truth of Me and to be free of the burden of self isolation. I thought my issues were never going to be as significant in degree as others’ experiences. Not true. I thought my confessions would expose my personally repulsive weaknesses. Again, not true. I feared that I would confirm that I was an imposter, completely useless to myself and others. The exposing flames of my own burning bush did not consume me. It revealed Me to myself.

This burning truth of my reality is that I can find a useful uniqueness when I am no longer defined by the flaws of my humanity which are not the flaws of my own existence. I was shown a process to confront the burden of my self-loathing. There are so many things in my past that I used to carry with me. They are gone from my daily thinking. I bear witness that the program works when the moral inventory remains a fearless endeavor.

Endigar 866

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on October 11, 2022 by endigar

From Courage to Change of May 5:

Humility was a tough concept for me to comprehend. Taught from childhood to place the wants and needs of others always above my own, I equated humility with taking care of others and ignoring my own feelings and needs. In Al-Anon I have learned that true humility is not degrading; it doesn’t require that I neglect my own needs. In fact, humility is not measured by how much I do for other people, but by my willingness to do my part in my relationship with the God of my understanding.

I begin to learn humility when I take the First Step. By admitting I am powerless, I make room for the possibility that a Power greater than myself can do all those things that are beyond my reach. In other words, I begin to learn about what is, and is not, my responsibility. As this becomes clear, I am better able to do my part, for myself and for others, and better able to ask God to do the rest.

Today’s Reminder

Part of learning humility is learning to contribute to my own well-being. Today I will do something loving for myself that I’d normally do for someone else.

“We cannot tell what may happen to us in the strange medley of life. But we can decide what happens in us — how we can take it, what we do with it — and that is what really counts in the end.”

~ Joseph Fort Newton

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Humility is a protective virtue. It fends off my tendency to self-delusion. It guides me along a path toward honest self-appraisal. In a home that has been corrupted by the need to endure the addictive behavior of one or more of its members, delusion is a learned skill for survival’s sake. I learned to embody an iconic role to aid my family’s hospital mission for the wounded. We never realized that a family becoming a mental health asylum locked us all in a prison fearful of recovery. Recovery of our true selves. Our purpose was linked to the perpetuation of the disease. Who are we in a healthy world? Humility tells me I am not that protective icon of my childhood. That was what I had to become. Humility allows me to come out into the open and connect with my Higher Power. Humility allows me the courage to find human connection with those who do not need me to be anything other than myself. Humility is a protective virtue.

Endigar 865

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 24, 2022 by endigar

From Courage to Change of May 4:

Who am I? When I came to Al-Anon, I thought I knew the answer to that question, but I discovered that my answers were all out-of-date because I had long ago stopped asking myself who I was. I could tell you about the alcoholics and everyone else in my life – there likes and dislikes, opinions, feelings – but I had no such answers for myself.

Al-Anon gave me Twelve Steps with which to rediscover myself. Making a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself and sharing it with a trusted friend (Steps Four and Five) were especially helpful. It was the first time in a long time I had paid so much attention to myself! I also learned about myself by listening in meetings – when I identified with others, I gained insight into my own thoughts and feelings.

Today I know that I am a passionate, generous, opinionated, moody, hones, tactful, stubborn person. I know how I feel and what I think on an assortment of topics, and I am aware when these thoughts and feeling change. Al-Anon has given me back the only thing that was every really mine to keep: myself.

Today’s Reminder

Recovery is a wonderful word. It means getting something back. Today I will try to remember that “that something” is me.

“If a man happens to find himself . . . he has a mansion which he can inhabit with dignity all the days of his life.” ~ James Michener

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I have spent much of my life bogged down in a navel-gazing coffin. My introspection was not productive. I battled the black void of morbid self-reflection. The maintenance of my psyche has been a burden of self-castigation with very little actualizing into the stream of life. I was driven to become what the afflicted souls in my family needed me to be. That is what I quickened. It was not me I summoned. Not me. I could not see my reflection in the mirror of the waking world.

I found the moral inventory of Steps 4 and 5, the identification of points of transformation in Steps 6 and 7, and the cleansing of my connections with other people in Steps 8 and 9, as the most productive path of self-discovery I have experienced thus far. I am beginning to hear the squeaking of my casket of co-dependence and finding a revised thirst for life. The sunlight of the Spirit is no longer a threat to my existence. Doing what is in my nature to do requires that I know who I am. It is a necessary process to recover what I buried in my family of origin.

Endigar 864

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 16, 2022 by endigar

From Courage to Change of May 3:

Detachment. At first it may sound cold and rejecting, not loving at all. But I have come to believe that detachment is actually a wonderful gift: I am allowing my loved ones the privilege and opportunity of being themselves.

I do not wish to interfere with anyone’s opportunities to discover the joy and self-confidence that can accompany personal achievements. If I am constantly intervening to protect them from painful experiences, I also do them a great disservice. As Mark Twain said, “A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.”

I find it painful to watch another person suffer or head down a road I believe leads to pain. Many of my attempts to rescue others have been prompted by my desire to avoid this pain. Today I’m learning to experience my own fear, grief, and anguish. This helps me to be willing to trust the same growth process in others, because I know first-hand about the gifts it can bring.

Today’s Reminder

Sometimes it is more loving to allow someone else to experience the natural consequences of their actions, even when it is painful for us both. In the long run, both of us will benefit. Today I will put love first in my life.

“All I have to do is keep my hands off and turn my heart on.”

~. . .In All Our Affairs

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by obnoxiousnox on deviantart

The problem with detachment is that the consequences an addict/alcoholic face may cost them their lives. I am a double winner, qualifying for both the AA and Al-Anon fellowships. I know what it is like to live in the upside-down world of active addiction, where consequences are beneficial if I survive and the comfort of protection is damning. An addict/alcoholic is more likely to seek freedom from the sting of consequences of their own making. Without consequences, I cannot imagine ever wanting to stop seeking the relief that mind-altering chemicals provided.

No matter how tragic the fruits of chemical dependency become, I have to keep in mind that when I detach I am providing the best hope my loved one has to find recovery. And it is also more likely that I will build a life worth emulating. Improving my own spiritual life and honoring their free-will is the best I can do for my loved one trapped in the upside-down world of alcoholism.

Endigar 863

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 9, 2022 by endigar

From Courage to Change of May 2:

Sometimes I become so busy staring at my problems that I miss the guidance I’m being given. When I become willing to let go of the need to do it by myself, I can listen to others and receive direction from my Higher Power. I become better able to move beyond my problems and start solving them.

This became clear to me when I was caught in a sudden, blinding snowstorm. Visibility was so bad that I couldn’t see the sides of the road; I couldn’t tell where my driving lane began and ended. I struggled to find my way, but finally surrendered and began to pull off the road to sit out the storm. Then I realized that I could make it home if I allowed the trees that lined the road to help me to gauge my position.

When I accept that help often comes in unexpected forms, I can release my hold on the problem and become willing to receive help.

Today’s Reminder

I must do many things for myself, but I am not wholly self-sufficient. I need the help, support, and guidance I receive from my Higher Power and my Al-Anon friends. When I catch myself struggling with a problem today. I will let go of it long enough to reach out for help.

“Once we learn to let go of the problem, the loving concern and help of the other members will provide strong support to help us understand what the Al-Anon program can do for us.”

~ This Is Al-Anon

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When I first began to seek help, I did so because my life was full of powerlessness. I wrestled with living life on life’s terms. I was confused in a cloud of fear. I resented not being able to control the results of my efforts. I gave smiling handshakes to cover my painful retreat. When I was first introduced to the 12 Steps, I feared another dance of futility with religion. Over time, I began to recognize the program as a power grid for genuine spirituality.

“Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves.” ~ Alcoholics Anonymous, page 45.

One of the manifestations of this power is during moments of surrender. It may appear in the beginning that I am surrendering to hopelessness. Just giving up. But that is not the case. As I stay devoted to the process of the program, I learn that I am surrendering to trust. The quiet is my private laboratory that justifies my public faith. I am gathering evidence invisible to casual observation. Today, I listen with anticipation. Plug in and prosper.

“We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.” ~ Alcoholics Anonymous, page 164.