Any Old Road

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Many days I’ve taken the long way home on ‘trips’ so far out that even I didn’t think I would make it back. I’ve known a few who didn’t.  I use to believe that any old road would take me there. Recovering from a hopelessness and futility that was beyond any human willpower that I could muster works much the same way. The disease of addiction is more than just mental; it’s spiritual in nature and I have to get down to causes and conditions. Bottles are symptoms of a bigger problem, and that is why my help has to come from the Divine. I know this because I’ve tried to come full circle and pull my life together in my own ways, and I ended up on a dead end road going nowhere, stuck on the one way rail we call existing. I had to humble myself enough to simply say, ” I need you God because I can’t stop on my own.” Everyday, I say the same simple prayer, “God, please help me stay sober.” That works, it really does. Finding new ways to live with life challenges can be overwhelming at times, but my old ways got me hammered. All my toolbox consisted of was that whammy and a few rusty nails. I do not have the power to fix me using my own toolkit. All I was doing was nailing the coffin shut. I found God thru surrender. I woke up yesterday full of fear and anxiety over situations outside my control, so I turned my thoughts to God thru prayer. At 7:30 in the morning, I received a phone call from a life long friend. Our conversation revolved around spiritual growth and how we could better serve. That’s God showing up, giving me a lift, and getting me home in ways I never even imagined before……good day!…b

Enduring Love

Enduring love is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory-William Barclay

 When it comes to love, I will or I won’t. It’s a choice, and I had to learn to love myself again because I can’t give nor receive love if I don’t have it in my heart. The need to have love for my fellow man doesn’t always come natural. Some days, I have to pray for it and just act as if its there. I  go thru the motions and smile against my own good nature. I’m writing specifically about loving others enough to put their needs before mine. It’s hard to do sometimes. Seeing the needs of others is a responsibility I have today. To reach out and help others is taking the action. I better be ready because some days people ask, “how did you get here?”, and I tell them “God, love, and endurance.” If God is love, then I better love thru the hurt, pain, and disappointments.  Recovery has taught me that. The debt I owe can’t be paid in dollars and cents. Have you ever noticed how easily it is to love the lovable? Those friends and family who are easy to be around, make you happy, and make life fun. The people who reciprocate their love back are easy, but how about the unlovable? Quite frankly, some folks are harder to love than others; there are difficult people in my life, even ones close to me. The responsibility lies in loving them anyway, right where they are and right where I’ve been. Love doesn’t just make the world a better place, it makes a peaceable and happy existence….good day!….b

Staying Connected

You want to go fast, go alone, You want to go far, go together– African proverb

For me, staying connected is essential to my recovery. For a long time, I came to meetings late, left early, talked a big game, self sponsored myself, and made no real commitment to work the steps.  Those same actions today will kill me. It’s killed two of my buddies recently. They could not or would not see this way of life. Even a pride of lions know their survival rate goes up by staying together, but I made no real connections with people in recovery back then and subsequently could not stay sober. Reaching out is one thing, but staying connected takes it to the next level. How many people look around a burned out trailer full of people drinking and getting high and think, “but I’m not like them”?  I have the terminal uniqueness gene, too. I’m  glad to still be here, and I accept that I have a disease that wants me dead.  I’ve run fast most of my life, but what I’ve learned is that just because I had people around me doesn’t make me feel any different inside. It just distracted me from looking at me. My disease wants me to do that. So, my mind tells me, “oh, you’re not like that” which causes ISOLATED thinking. That is what lions do, they isolate the weakest ungulate, surround it, and go in for the kill. Thankfully, I have a support family today. Staying connected frees my spirit to live life, and the problems that were once insurmountable in my mind, lose their power.  I then have the energy to go farther with your help. I can’t stay straight by myself. I tried and failed. I need the help of the fellowship as well as God’s help. This time of year is difficult for many of us.  I can’t let isolated thinking kill my will. …..good day!….b

Reaching Out

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For all its worth, I have spent countless hours and lots of money trying to figure out the how and whys of my life. I have been to psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, ministers, mountain tops, beaches, resorts, churches, and retreats to help me. The answers, I have found, were inside of me all along. I am the source of my own problems, all dictated by my own choices. Being a child of God and dwelling in His Spirit were foreign concepts to me, at least on the surface. I understand intellectually that there has always been my belief in God, but it never had been personal. I only called on Him when the going got tough. Today, I not only reach out to God, but I see the need to reach out to others as well. That is where I see God, thru the eyes of another’s lense. It takes faith to build character, and it takes willingness to change. No, I’m not perfect, and in that admission I am more able to be humble and express my need for Him. The solution is what I seek, but talking and writing about it are not the same as living it. The promise of a new found freedom and happiness is what I get when I reach out. Today I do see how my experiences are shaping me, but also how I can share them,be relational, and help others. God didn’t strike me sober, but He never got me drunk, either. Each day I thank Him for the gift that has been given me, and I still reach out and ask for that same gift thru a simple prayer I pray every morning to start my day. The miracle of it is that I reached out at all, but then again, desperate times do call for desperate measures….. Good day!…b

Honoring Commitments

Commitment means staying loyal to what you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has left you- unknown

One of my major weaknesses  in the past was getting tight as exactly the wrong times.  When that blank spot hit, I usually would not or could not follow thru with much of anything. This recognition is a huge milestone in my recovery. To say I’ll do something, and actually follow thru is huge for me. Once ruled by fear, or rejection, I would back out or not show up at all, then feel shame and remorse for not doing what I said I would do. Worse, I never thought of the repercussions until after the fact. That puts me in a class all its own. I promised BIG, but delivered small. Today, God has set me on solid ground. If I sign up to do something, I show up or find a replacement; whereas before, I would do neither. I never saw the value until I got sober, worked the steps, and recognized my part. Probably not a character defect as much as a refusal to live in reality. The reality is that dependable people do what they say they are going to do. They do it because they understand that honoring commitments is important to the people around them. I don’t show up to meetings anymore just because I have to, I do it because I recognize the sacrifices others have paved in helping the newcomer.  Every time I reach out, I learn something new about myself and others. It’s important to me today to do what I say I’m going to do, and ultimately gain some self respect and self worth in the process. It’s in following thru with the little things that makes a BIG difference in my recovery, and  I now write checks worth cashing……good day!….b

Insanity

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 Insane people are always sure that they are fine. It is only the sane people who are willing to admit that they are crazy-Nora Ephron

 I have no problem admitting that sometimes I feel a little crazy, but feeling crazy and behaving insanely are not the same animal. I can laugh now at the crazy stunts I pulled, but reading about the tragedy of the drunk lady who plowed thru a parade in Oklahoma and killed, maimed, and destroyed lives is a sobering reminder that if it weren’t for the grace of God, it could be me. Yesterday happened to be one of those days where I was a little off center.  Maybe it’s the weather I think, or a three quarter moon. The reality is that I have no idea, but yet I still try to figure it out, like I really need to understand it. No, I don’t, I just need to accept it. In very early sobriety, Friday nights were the crazy ones. I found myself wound so tight that I would literally walk around in circles, going from one crises to the next, chaos all in my head.  Hitting myself over the head with a chemical hammer didn’t fix it. It never has, and I finally believe now that it never will. It just makes me act insane. The reason I know is because I would tell you everything was fine even when it wasn’t. When I’m feeling crazy, I need someone to tell me the truth. Obsessing over it certainly won’t change it. Talking to someone, going to a meeting, or helping someone will. In a matter of minutes, I can get caught up in the “feeling crazy trap” that can totally transform my outlook on life. One important recovery lesson I have learned is that I can’t hide behind the truth. I have to expose it. If I’m a little off center, you will know, I can’t disguise it anymore. It’s when you quit hearing from me that I’ve fallen off the edge, but it’s ok, at least I can admit that much today…..good day!….b

Rebirth

 “Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.” – Mahatma Gandhi
A man that exhibited calmness in the middle of chaos. I loved chaos, but  obviously what I was doing was not working very well. In fact, the days once fueled by adrenaline, pills, and  booze, and what I thought were exciting doesn’t even sound fun anymore. Today I crave peace and tranquility.  There are still days with all the same joys, disappointments, fears, ups and downs that have always been there. What has changed has been my reactions to them. You can ask my kids or the people closest to me. They have witnessed a psychic change.  Now,  I can turn my gaze forward with shoulders back and enjoy all that life has to offer because I’m sober. That is a miracle; blessings from the Maker. A gift that, just for today,  I never once could see. Once blinded by confusion, unrest, chaos, and turbulence like the bounce you get at about 10,000 feet in a thunderstorm. That was my life, the only one I knew. So, each day I wake up into a brand new life,  a rebirth of sorts. I see, feel, and experience life in a new way. Old ways do not produce new behaviors.  I run into somebody now and remember that maybe it is a good time to make that amends to them because I no longer have to hide. Or if I’m stuck in an emotional hangover I can call on a friend to give me some strength and hope to live one more day. I do not heal the past by dwelling there. I heal from it by living fully in the here and now. Enjoying the moment, laughing until it hurts, loving until it doesn’t, learning to live….again, and again, and again….Good day!….b

 

Rescuing

“it is not easy to find happiness within ourselves, and it is not possible to find it elsewhere.”- Agnes Repplier

“Just because the circus left town, doesn’t mean that the monkeys aren’t still hanging out,” George Carlin once said in his stand up routine. The terms codependency and enmeshment are words that were coined back in the early 80’s to describe those who become so interlinked in the lives of others, that self identity is lost. Think of enmeshment like the woven fabrics of a blanket. If one piece gets unraveled, the whole blanket falls to pieces. Lives can become intertwined like honeysuckles on a back 40 fence row. It takes a lot of courage to admit that I’m warped with a highball in hand. It takes work to see where the core of codependency has almost cost me my sanity as well. I drank, then I became needier than a three legged dog. Martin Luther King said “if you can’t be the sun, be a star,” and in the galaxy of rescuing I have really shone, even when I was lost myself. An unhealthy dependency on others causes an unreasonable demand to make certain they act accordingly, and that creates emotional instability and chaos which  distracts me from working on my own concerns. For me, the question is what do I have to do to take care of myself today?  It sounds selfish, but If I don’t take care of each of the emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual needs in my recovery, then I’m of little use to anyone else. No need for shame or guilt here.  After all, “I didn’t cause it, I can’t control it, and I can’t cure it” is the catchphrase of the ACOA, Alanon, and CoDA movements.  Life has a way of evening out the rough spots, and to believe that I can rescue somebody is playing God.  I’m a proven dismal failure at both…good day!…b

Perception vs. Reality

Those blurry lines get crossed often in my mind. It’s why I have a sponsor, do step work, have a home group, read recovery literature, and spend time working with others on their recovery. I tell them I will meet them halfway. Sometimes their lines get blurry too. The disease centers in my mind and tells me the opposite of what I know is rational and true, but it takes no prisoners and it is all lies. The reality is that I lived in a fantasy world most of my life. I lived joint to joint, drink to drink, toke to toke, and line after line. Eventually that life became the only normal one for me, and I could not “differentiate the true from the false.” My mind would tell me that I had control, but in actuality my thinking and actions were so insane that I should have been chained to the foot of a bed long before I hit bottom. That is a perception problem. Looking back, I shutter and am ashamed of some of the stunts I pulled while under the influence. I tried to push them deep down inside of me as far as I could, but even then I couldn’t live with myself for very long. So I would revert back to the madness of  that ease and comfort of the first one or two just to take the edge off of the rough places. Not until I got honest did the fog start lifting. Even three and a half years without a mind altering chemical, I still need to run my experiences by others because my perceptions still get skewed. I try to overthink, out manuever, overcompensate, and outwit a disease that beats me to the punch every time I have tried to revert back and live life my way. If I was successful at it, I wouldn’t have had the consequences of realizing that it got worse, never better.  The reality is when I put my prejudices, rationalizations, and justifications aside, and I’m stripped down to the basic framework of who I am, I must concede daily that inside of me is the basic fundamental idea that God does for me what I never can do by myself…….good day!…b

Blame Game

Blaming my alcoholism on anything or anybody makes about as much sense now as blaming Native Americans for losing my money at the casino. I can’t lose if I don’t play. The games I played while under the influence were as dangerous as riding a mechanical bull on a straight tequila night. I never wanted just one, or two, or even three. I wanted the whole keg man, tap and all, but what once was a joke turned on me and wasn’t funny anymore. I drove thru my hometown recently on a whirlwind ride of the places I once called home. For so much to have changed, not much has changed. They chopped down the huge magnolia tree on the town square and replaced it with a Bradford pear. That is how I know. I pulled over on a mountaintop road to let a passer by, and he threw his arm out of the window, which simply means “thank you” in the Appalachian foothills. And somehow, I just knew I was home. Just like when I walked into a meeting with a bunch of “drunks.”  The strange thing was that they weren’t drinking anything besides coffee, and I was pickled like a cucumber. What qualifies me is that I could not quit entirely, nor could I stop once I started. These folks had stopped all the lies and the blame game and were taking responsibility for their actions, and I couldn’t tell you the truth from a lie.  As long as it is somebody else’s fault, I can never have hope of getting better. As long as I have somebody to enable me, I will never get well because I stay enmeshed in the blame game and I lose my hand every time. Today I have to take personal responsibility for my actions as well as any man who reaches out for help, to show him that accepting my part is one of the hardest lessons I’ve ever had to learn …good day!….b