Dreams

imageDreams, I am learning, can be found in a simple place and time. I had rather live in this world than live in another and wonder all the time what’s going on around me. When I used, days would pass where I could not recall where I’d been, who I was with, or what I had done. Those are blackouts, but now I can recollect events of my past much better that my mind is clear. My thoughts are much more fluid; my mind not blown. What happens when I use is that I can’t stop. Nothing can stop me…not loss of income, kids crying, bills not paid, relationship threats, or family interventions. Sometimes I would get so puzzled by my actions and reactions that I would wonder how it had all come to where I’d be. Frustrated, exasperated, disillusioned, and full of terror, I would awaken to fight one more day. And that’s where dreams come true. I had always dreamed of a better life, I just didn’t know how to bridge the gap to freedom. Now, I do what I have to do because I want to, and that is a freedom I never had when I lived enslaved to drugs and alcohol. I see more clearly also the destruction I caused. Looking back, the tornado’s path I left was wide smattering paths of utter destruction; endless relationships where I took and took and decisions that I made out of self centered fear that totally put me in harm’s way. I love page 25’s paragraph in the BB that starts with there is a solution. No man likes the leveling of pride it takes to consummate the man that I want to become. But that is where the work starts, and recovery begins. Old ways of thinking and acting don’t bring about change, action does. And that’s how dreams get made….good day!…b

Prayers

 

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For God to have restored my sanity, I had to ask. For him to relieve my obsessions, I prayed.  Today, my prayers have changed. If talking to God were as formal as I once made it out to be, then I would have stopped long ago. It’s just the acknowledgement today that nothing, absolutely nothing, I have or ever will have is because of how much I deserve or how hard I’ve worked. I know people who work hard and have little. I know people with lots who have never worked a day in their lives. One has peace, the other chaos. It’s not work or money that defines success as much as the perspective that all gifts are from God; all blessings from the Maker of it all, and I must share them.  I believe today when I once had fear and doubt. Addiction does that. It bleeds me of all resources, strips my dignity, warps my mind, and leaves me feeling shame and remorse.  I simply do not have the power within me to pull myself out of the ditches of life. That is why gratitude lists are so important for me to write because I forget, get left of center, and start thinking the world owes me. As if I truly deserve it. If I had gotten what I deserved, it wouldn’t be the life I know today, I can assure you. So I have to be grateful for the peace and serenity I have even in the middle of storms. They will come, they will pass. Nothing ever stays the same for very long. I’m grateful for change now too. But most of all, I’m grateful for living close to a recovery community that is solution oriented. People sharing their hope, faith, and courage in ways that remind me of the nearness of my Creator. After all, He took the obsession away and restored me to sanity.  Thankfully, I’ve never forgotten those simple prayers…..good day!…b

 

 

 

 

Listening

Screenshot_2016-06-25-23-02-34-1It’s a developed skill I’m finding out because so much of life and living I had no clue about until I stopped and asked. I simply had to admit that I don’t know, and then listen for the answers. So much of what I’ve learned also has been thru observations. Now, I’m working thru self centered fears that drive my character flaws. When I ‘one up’ conversations,talk incessant nonsense, and otherwise tune others out, then I become the very person that I abhor. I don’t want to be that guy anymore. He’s hard to be around and even harder to like. I spent a lot of my life running from situations that weren’t even after me. That’s fear. Throw in some pride and ego, mix a little ‘I got this’ mentality, then stop listening, and it becomes a recipe for disaster for me. I simply cannot move forward until I’ve learned the lesson, and I can’t learn it with my mouth open. My mother told me when I was a kid that I had two ears and one mouth. Today, that saying makes much more sense than it did way back when. It’s also knowing that defensiveness, divisiveness, and drama no longer work, either. I’ve been a little left of center lately quite frankly, but the best indicator of my spiritual condition is my language. And it all starts in the heart. I swear more, blatantly curse, listen less, and gossip; all deal breakers to my serenity. So, what is the solution? I go back to what works: hitting my knees, acknowledging my blessings, making morning meetings, and meditating by the sea. At one time, I could not enjoy the sound of the lap of the waves. The reason is because I had my mouth open and my ears closed, but  I no longer can learn and live that way…..good day!…b

 

 

Killers

imageI haven’t had a cigarette in a long time. I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I smoked a full pack, but it’s an addiction so strong, and so hard to break, that I finally figured if I write about it that somehow it will lose its grip on me, so read on. I started “dipping” smokeless tobacco as a teenager. I was only a weekend smoker, but smoked when I drank. Then, after many years of being a closet smoker, my daughter caught me on the porch one night and I came out. I’ve made the same promises to quit that I did while drinking, but unfortunately I’ve been unwilling to admit that I’m powerless and lack of nicotine makes me irritable and anxious. Just a few years ago, I was snow bound in a cabin in the Tennessee mountains when I paid 40 dollars for a truck with snow chains to bring me cigarettes up the mountain. That is insane and embarrassing all in one sentence. I began vaping over a year ago to wean off of the addiction to cigarettes, but got sick at the high altitude in northern Arizona last summer, and then picked up replaceable cartridge e-cigarettes. So far, the verdict is still out. I’ll vacillate between e-cigs and nicorette gum to calm the cravings. Add to the fact that I’ve tried other NRT (nicotine replacement therapy )methods like the patch to no avail. I do nothing half way, and nicotine has been no different. I want to change, but the question is the same. Am I willing to turn it over, throw in the towel, and admit it’s controlling me like pills and booze did? Not a big deal you say, then let me add the costs. Those were monsters to admit and accept and overcoming not only the cravings, but the habit has been extremely difficult with nicotine as well. If you have suggestions, please feel free to message me. Nicotine is a killer and I don’t want to die knowing that it’s preventable. I watched my aunt die of lung cancer and believe it or not, the last thing she wanted before she passed was a cigarette; another cunning, baffling, and powerful addiction that I want to overcome….good day!…b

Willful defiance

Ever since I was a small child, I’ve had this feeling – it’s in my nature, and so it’s not even pretentious – that if everyone’s going one way, I will go the other, just by some kind of spirit of defiance.- Charlotte Rampling

There are times that I don’t want to go with the flow, even sober as a judge. My will overrides my best thinking and I’ll paddle exhaustingly against the tides of time to prove I’ll make it. What I found is that my will is hopelessly lacking in good judgement. I’ll go go gountil the wheels fall off before I’ll admit that I’m in a current flow of life so strong that I’ll deny it trying to right the boat. Defiant behavior is a common characteristic with addicts. It wasn’t until I surrendered in complete defeat that my life began to change. Just stopping drinking and drugging got me to the starting line of recovery. It took about three months for my head to clear enough to see that my will, my actions, and my behaviors were the cause of my problems. I had living issues and coping with life was my problem. Then I read that I had been ruled by anger, fear, and resentments that had controlled every fabric of my time. When I wrote out my part in each situation, I began to see that character was my issue and the flaws in my make up were catalysts that fueled my addiction. The insight came when I saw that my stubborn defiance will kill me quicker than an armadillo crossing a flat lane. Recognition that I need to run my ideas by others is progress because they can objectively see perceptions and ideas that may be skewed. I may think that my motives are good, but my actions can ultimately prove otherwise. If I want to change, I’ve got to continue daily to look where I stop and others begin. I can’t control the actions of others. My defiance can’t define me anymore. It has to refine me into pushing the pause button, stepping back, and continuing to follow the path of acceptance in accordance to God’s will and not my selfish desires….Good day!!…b

The Program

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What does it mean when someone says that they are working a “program?” Recovery involves change and growth, but mostly willingness. It also involves  action even when I fail. The book says that we alcoholics are undisciplined, so we let God show us how to get and stay sober by working the steps outlined in the book. It’s not always easy, but it’s rewarding to make it thru the day without the obsession to use mind altering chemicals. Boy, how I hated that feeling of being out of control emotionally and not being able to stop from taking that first drink. It’s a strange twist that kept me in a dazed fantasy land of ‘what ifs.’ I don’t deny that there are times that I have thoughts that a drink would be nice, but I proved time and again that it never stopped with just one. I know people who can do it and I don’t understand. That’s why I need a support network around me who does. Days later and pickled as a cucumber, I would dry out and repeat the cycle. I binge drank for a long time before I became an everyday drinker. Binging curbed the cravings, and I was able to stuff what responsibilities I had in between each binge. I knew I was powerless, but life hadn’t gotten totally unmanageable in my mind. I was a sick man denying the truth of my own existence, but then again, no one likes to admit complete defeat. Today, I have to humble myself, go to meetings, share where I am, and reach out for others to help me unravel the madness. They’ve been there, like most of us. It’s refreshing to relocate to an area that I’ve visited often, go to a meeting, and see others staying sober that I’ve met years before. It reminds me that the “program” works. Now, to get with the “program” has taken on new meaning. It involves acceptance, faith, work, admission of shortcomings, amends, prayer and meditation, and service to others. I can only do my part by staying spiritually connected and that’s a life I don’t want to miss….good day!…b

Family Disease

imageI’ve watched the ravages of addiction far too long completely suck the life blood out of family members; mine and others. There is a solution, thanks be to God. For the selfish addict I was and can still be, and think that I was only hurting myself was twisted, but then again, I was the sick one, and it’s my side of the street I have to keep swept clean. These are miracles that happen when I surrender. I don’t won’t to live with the thought that my kids will see me wasted out of my mind anymore. But what happened before I got sober I must never forget. My children cried and asked me to stop. My brother ran a “family intervention” to help me understand the damage I was causing. My mind was warped and the thought and obsession of that next drink is all I wanted. The only way I can explain how I got sober is a belief and faith in God who removed the obsession because I had tried everything: sports, school, women, retreats, vacations, geographical changes, doctors, counseling, and psychiatrists. I’d build up false hope, and then after a few months dry, I’d shake everyone’s faith in me right back to the core. I even visited an Al Anon meeting, an organization to help loved ones understand and cope with an addict, with the belief that I was going because everyone else had the problem….and then I’d drink again. It’s a progressive disease that rolls on in my body and mind whether I pick up another drink or not. I instantly understood the writings in the Big Book, and that was where I found God. As my faith grows, I can share that today I believe more in the teachings and parables of Jesus Christ, and I believe that when I die, I’ll be reborn. I gave God a chance, and He proves me right all of the time. I guess I really am that stubborn. In the pages written by other alcoholics who shared their “vital spiritual experiences” of how they were living sober, happy, and free is where it dawned on me that I had to change, not everyone else. Denial is a big obstacle. No one likes to admit defeat. After being sober a while, my little daughter asked me if I’d been drinking. I asked her “why?” After all, I had just come home from a meeting and laughter and joy filled my soul. She said that I seemed too “happy.” Then it hit me that it took her over a year to start trusting that my actions were in line with my words. It’s humbling to think back on now. They tell me Rome wasn’t built in a day; therefore, the disappointment, mistrust, and despair of loved ones doesn’t just return. It takes time to rebuild the wounds I’ve caused my family and to show them that a rebirth really can happen here on Earth as well….blessings!…b

Response to Stimuli

imageI’d be a lying devil in disguise  if if I told you that some people or situations don’t annoy me. I have my own quirks, idiosyncrasies, and petty annoyances. Maybe they always will be there to remind me that I also can annoy others to the brink of despair. Pavlov’s study on response to stimuli rings true for me, too. If you ring my bell long enough, I simply snap and the ending is never good. Stimuli can come at me in all forms, but it’s my response that determines my emotional equilibrium and that is what is changing within me thru the 12 step recovery model. It may not work for everyone because there is more than one way for others to find their ways back home. The old “pause when agitated or doubtful” is always a good idea. It can be the difference in me hurting myself and others thru my words and actions. Some days are better than others, but throw a monkey wrench in my plan and suddenly my brain chemistry changes. It’s as if anger is the flood, and my will is the gate. Ironically, those same character flaws that annoy me in others are the very ones I can also exhibit: pride, selfishness, self centeredness, and egotism…….my responses are getting more humane now. Today, a kid blew vape  in my face to be funny. Instead of suddenly snapping his neck, I simply stepped back, and asked him not to do it again. But what happens is that annoying people can become more annoying to me and it feels like being trapped in a reality warp. Drugs kept me in that time warp. It’s not my job to retaliate, snap, or lose my cool. I remember what the book says about fitting myself to be of maximum service to God and the people around me. If I do snap, I lose my chance to be helpful and possibly gain a brother, but we all have our breaking points, and I wouldn’t be human if I can’t say when enough is enough. I know that’s it’s ok to set boundaries and stick to them as much as walking away from annoying people and circumstances. It’s not so much that the stimuli have changed as much as my response. I don’t always handle life to perfection, but I’ve learned the hard way what does not work. Now I try to do the opposite, let go of old ideas, and allow God to change me into the emotionally sober man that I’ve always wanted to be. When my heart is in the right place, my motives change, and being right or looking good on the outside does not matter near as much as what’s taking place on the inside. After all, it’s an inside out job….good day!…b

 

 

Stinkin Thinkin

imageMuch change has been running thru my life lately. So much so that I’ve missed my time writing. I get caught up in the rat race like everyone else I assume, but then again, I learned a ways back that assumptions will kill me. Maybe I am the only one running around my recovery these days like a cat chasing its tail. I push my meditation and reading aside, I think it’s raining to hard to get to a meeting, and I get crazy thoughts like stealing a hub cap cover off a car in a Wal Mart parking lot. Thankfully, I have tools to help me manage today. I thought thru the guilt and shame I’d feel, and the thought of stealing left me. All that was stolen was a little peace of my mind for a moment.  Who thinks like that?…I do, and when my thoughts get squirrelly, I had better talk with another alcoholic. I’ve never been to a meeting where I could not relate, in some way, to the patterns, behaviors, thoughts, and actions of another sober alcoholic. This morning, I got a 7 am dose of the true nature of this disease. Unfortunately, it’s tragic and fatal. Two of the first three shares involved stories of others who had some time in sobriety, and just like that, the first drink and now they are dead. Another reminder to me that my thinking is what gets screwed up, even when I know the outcome will be horrific. So, I have to pray, and today I asked God to take away those thoughts that carry me back. A thought produces a feeling, and a feeling produces an action. That’s simply how my mind works. If I still had the obsession to drink, I’d be a goner. Thankfully, God restored me to sanity by working the steps and carrying the message. All of us who have battled addiction get it. The battle is won each day when I surrender. I stopped fighting and threw in the towel. Now, it’s up to me to let go of those thoughts that get me sideways…..good day!….b

No Strings Attached

imageIt is hard existing by a thread. What’s harder is living on someone’s else’s beliefs, ideas, and experiences. Rigidity and stiffness were the order of the day when I drank.  The reasons are varied, but very little comes without strings.  When I was drinking, I hated change. Change was that ball of strings that bound me. I hated things not being the same, and I feared anything being different. Rarely did I want to go anywhere new. I resented any criticism of my behavior. The unexpected was seen as sabotage or a threat. My paranoia was extreme in that I thought others were talking and laughing about me. Today I have decided to let go of the control, the pretense, and the arrogance. I face life as it comes, and today I do not drink. I am responsible for my life, but I cannot control others. I can’t be controlled by their actions either, unless I choose. When I drank, I was at the world’s mercy. I kept up a facade that all was well, but I was dying inside. Guilt, shame, and remorse hung over me like a black cloud. I was prey to misery and depression. Having to live a double life is difficult when the string is hung around my throat. Then over time, a psychic change occurred in me as a result of not drinking after a couple of years and looking back a couple of years from that, I hadn’t realized then that time was when my reactions to life were changing.  It takes step work, building recovery friendships, and working with others and now  these are the highlights of my day. When I get a phone call from a newcomer, sponsee, sponsor, or maybe someone returning,  it gives me a sense of belonging and purpose. The miracle is that there are no strings attached, just simple suggestions that work in my life when I became ready to let go of the knots that kept me bound to a way of life that had quit working long ago….good day!…b