Do You Still Go To Meetings? By Mike H.

in: recovery

 Recently a client came up to me and asked “Do you still got to meetings after being sober for so long?”  I saw the pained look on his face when I answered “Of course, where do you think the so long comes from?”  I know he didn’t want to hear that – his thought process was this “these meetings are kind of a pain, but someday I’ll be sober and won’t have to go anymore.”  I, unfortunately, have seen too many alcoholics who after a time thought that they didn’t need to go to meetings anymore.  As one of them told me (shortly before his relapse), “Mike, I have taken all the drinking, the chaos, and the insanity and turned them over to my Higher Power, and I don’t have to worry about them anymore.”  Wow!  What a deal!  I never heard my Higher Power volunteer to take all of my crap; that has always been my responsibility.  I find that meetings are a good way to remind me of what that responsibility is.  I had a bad day not long ago, and I ran into an old friend that I hadn’t seen in years.  I wanted to ask him “Do you still go to meetings?”  But I didn’t because I already knew the answer.

 …I won’t ask.

You Have Downloads Available by John B.

in: recovery

“The fact that the human race has evolved to this point is conclusive proof of the existence of a Higher Power.” 

I have come to realize that my brain is like a computer, and it’s Operating System known as Alcoholic/Obsessive-Compulsive 1.0 has viruses, outdated programs and mal-ware in it.  In the same way that I have to regularly update my home PC, because it runs on a Microsoft OS, I must regularly update my personal OS with the latest patches and updates.

Sometimes I forget how important these are and neglect to save them before shutting down at night; or I get the message that updates are ready to download, but rebel and refuse to download them, because I am too busy sitting in a meeting obsessing about something, grinding on a resentment, or just sitting there judging someone!

If I did not update my home PC regularly, it would crash.  But, sometimes when I don’t, won’t or can’t PAY ATTENTION, I neglect this very important activity, and I do have a “crashis”.  Thank God for sponsors!

Luckily for me I have always been able to get to “the source” before the dreaded Blue Screen of death happens and take a drink or use a drug, etc!

That source of course, is my higher power and meetings.  Prayer, meditation and regular attendance at meetings keeps my OS operating without mishap!

Hey, if you don’t believe me……Try it!

Fear…Bugaboo by John B

in: recovery

I am grateful that I am not dead.
Because, If I was dead I would not get to learn how it all turns out; and I really want to find out!    I’ll bet that it doesn’t even come close to the way I think it will.  I heard there are actually some 25 year olds out there wondering what has happened to the youth of today….Man, I am afraid, sometimes!
Certainly, fear can be a rational response to certain life events, like a fire or an avalanche, or a crazed man chewing someone’s face off, even!
But when fear is continual, everyday, day in day out, something may be lacking in your life.  Something lacked in mine: I was emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually bankrupt when I got sober.
Meetings and therapy and a support network took care of the first three.   But for me to get my “house in order” required a little more.  A belief in a power greater than myself was needed.
I resisted at first.  After all, how could there be a power greater than I?
It began when I realized that almost any 12 step meeting was, because if everyone in the meeting came at me at once, I would be TOAST!
Then, one day, I had an epiphany….there really IS a power greater than me!  Now, I start every day by asking for help.

And I get help; not in the form I want, of course, but THAT is another story!

Client Quotes…(You Can’t Make this Stuff Up)… By Mike H

in: recovery


Client:   I don’t think I need to stay at a half-way house after treatment.
Therapist:  Why not?
Client:  My boyfriend has an apartment that’s about half way between here and my job.

 Client:  I am not in denial – I am not an alcoholic.
Therapist:  How do you explain 3 DUI’s?
Client:  Easy.  All the guys I work with stop for drinks after work just like I do.  None of them have ever gotten a DUI.
Therapist:  Your point?
Client:  Don’t you get it, man?  I’m not an alcoholic, I’m just unlucky.

Therapist:  When are you going to get honest with your peers about your using history?
Client:  Probably never – I have trust issues with these people.
Therapist:  You have trust issues?  Someone who admits they will meet a complete stranger, in the worst part of town, at 2:00 in the morning, to give him $200 for drugs that could be anything, to put in your body?
Client:  That’s different.

Client:  I’m really happy to be in treatment – I picked up my 30 day chip last night.
Therapist:  You said you had a problem?
Client:  Well, yeah.  When do we get a break from all this recovery stuff?

Client:  All right, all right.  I’ll read the pamphlet on Codependency – when I get a chance.  Right now I’ve got to help my roommate write her life story and talk to my sister, who needs help with her boyfriend.
Therapist:  (God, grant me……)

Client:   Well, I did it, I got totally honest with my wife about my drinking the problems it has caused me.
Therapist:  When did this happen?
Client:  Sunday, on visitor’s day, I told her almost everything.

Dog Paddling by John B

in: recovery

So I had this moment the other day.  It had only been a couple of weeks since I had stopped working my program, and I was feeling pretty squirrelly.  I’m always surprised when this happens, of course.  I usually have no idea what is going on.  Why do I feel so uncomfortable, I think.  Am I getting the flu?  Did I get some bad meds?  Not enough sleep?  What?     The thing is, being in recovery and working a program is like dog paddling around in the ocean; it takes some effort.  If you don’t believe me, try it sometime.  Dog paddling, I mean.

Occasionally, my arms get tired so I stop paddling turn over on my back and  try to float there and rest.  This works OK for a while, but then the water gets choppy.  Still, I keep trying to float.  Then somehow I get turned around so my feet are facing toward the waves.  Then water begins to wash over me and go up my nose.  Very soon after that, it feels as though I am being water-boarded at Guantanamo!

Guess what?  It’s time to turn (it) over and start paddling again!  This is usually when I panic, and begin to dog-paddle my little heart out.  Grab a pen,  write, call people, go to meetings, pray, share!

Then, a miracle happens.  Like magic, I am relieved of the “bondage of self”!Hey, if you don’t believe me, you could try it.

Living The Life Unconscious by John B

in: recovery

This post is about living an unconscious life.  The tragedy is  that, by its very nature, when you live “unconsciously”, you tend to be unaware of it!  To be fair, it is very difficult to pay attention when you are busily engaging the addict/alcoholic through addictive behavior, either by obsessing about your addiction or actually engaging in it.  My addictions also increased my depression and my general and social anxiety disorders, as well.  Fear ran rampant, and being unconscious worked for a while!

When I drank and used, I was afraid of literally everyone.  My solution was to live unconsciously – not have a phone, keep the curtains in my house closed ALL THE TIME, lest some passerby look in my window and see me in there!  And please, please don’t KNOCK on my door!  Yikes!

It took me a long time to get over this.  Although to be truthful, I still have a PTSD type reaction when someone knocks on my door; I really hate Halloween.

However, the longer I stay sober, the more I realize there is actually a lot of stuff to pay attention to.  It’s not that scary, and it’s OK to be uncomfortable (or conscious) once in a while.  I also realize that many, if not most, of the people “out there” in the real world, are really struggling now in the same ways that I used to.  They  need some tolerance, love and understanding, too.

Today, I mostly try to identify my fears and deal with them as best as I can.  But sometimes, it’s too much and I revert to being unconscious again.

… right now….for……..instanc

One Less at Happy Hour by Mike H

in: recovery

Many clients enter treatment with the affect of an abusive history, usually dating back to childhood.  They speak safely, avoid eye contact, and tend to isolate themselves.  This is how they learned to take care of themselves in their abusive, chaotic environment.  “If they don’t know I’m here, if they can’t see me or hear me – they can’t hurt me.”

At 5-o’clock tonight, the bars will be full of these people.  They have discovered how easy it is to hide in a bottle, where they are temporarily free from an abusive spouse, employer, coworker, family member, or so-call friend who continually takes advantage of them.  Their lives are miserable, and the alcohol dulls the pain.

Helping these alcoholics lean how to stand up for themselves is a primary function of treatment.  This is approached by encouraging clients to confront others who take advantage of them and do not offer mutual respect and support.  When a situation like this becomes apparent to staff, they will encourage the client to confront their peer in the group process.  The client usually panics and states “I can’t do that.”  Individual therapy will be focused on how the client can learn to stand up for themselves in the safety and support of the group.  They are made aware of the importance of taking care of themselves as a large part of recovery.  They are encouraged to face up to others and taught how to find the courage to do so.

Today, I was reminded why I do what I do.

A young woman who saw herself as a “nobody” when she entered treatment was instructed by the staff to call out her roommate who had been giving her orders on what to do.  I watched as she sat in group, anxious and fearful but determined.  She had decided to trust the staff and the process.  We made eye contact and I saw the fear taking control.  “Come on, you can do it,” I said to myself as she slowly raised her hand to speak.  She confronted the abusive roommate by telling her about the behaviors she used around her and how that made her feel.  She asked the roommate to stop these behaviors and show her some respect.  The fear gave way to composure and I knew that important progress had been gained.  Bu then, it got even better.  The peer, fighting back her anger, asked to respond.  “Here comes the denial,” I thought.  But no, this client was working on what sh needed to do in finding her recovery.  She acknowledged the behavior, apologized for it, and offered to work on the relationship.  After group I saw them talking and laughing together.

You know, if this keeps up, the Happy Hour Group will be getting smaller…..where will you be at 5-o’clock?

It’s a Miracle by John B

in: recovery

Let me say a few words about depression and anxiety:  I hate them both!  And they are related to each other like evil twins; an incestuous brother and sister act.

For those of you that don’t actually have a diagnosis of depression or anxiety, you are the lucky ones.  For those of us that do, life can be difficult sometimes; hard all the time – if you don’t get some professional help.

See, I don’t have a choice to just STOP being depressed.  I wish I did.  Really, I do.  It seems that sometimes in 12 step meetings, there exists an unspoken belief by some that, if God can solve any problem, why not that one?  Well, because YOU don’t have DEPRESSION, is why!   What you have is called “the blues”.  Sing a happy song, think happy thoughts!  Listen to some music and all is right with the world.

At a meeting the other day, I shared about my issues with depression.  After I finished this girl raised her hand and said she read in the Bible that Jesus said in regard to depression, you “need not” feel this way!
So, when she read that, she was able to cure HER depression…. just like that!  A miracle, indeed.

Sadly, it’s not that easy for people like me.  Luckily HP stocked this world full of PhD’s and Therapists, for those of us that have “outside issues”.

Believe me, the only shame here is NOT getting some help.  Hey, it’s in the Big Book, you could look it up!

Man in the Mirror by Jim D

in: recovery

Surrender and acceptance is key to my program on a daily basis today, without it I think (KNOW) I’d drive myself crazy and more than likely lean toward a relapse.  In the beginning of my recovery it was all about staying clean and not drinking or using drugs, which I thought was my only problem.  I’ve come to realize that once I surrendered to acceptance, I accepted to surrender. I didn’t want to accept the fact that I’m an addict and that I have a problem. Once I accepted that FACT, I was able to surrender to the fact that I can’t put ANY mind or mood altering substance in my body, because for me… is too many and a thousand definitely never enough for this addict….of ANYTHING.  When the urge to not use finally subsided, I started working on my program and working the Steps—finding out wherein the problem REALLY lies…….the mirror!   Today, when life shows up, things start to get to me, my stinkin’ thinkin’ keeps happening, 9 times outta 10 all I have to do is look in the mirror to find the problem.  The good news is, when I look into the mirror, I’m also looking at the SOLUTION……if I surrender to the situation going on, accept it for what it is, and deal with it in the most positive way I can.  If I can’t figure it out, then all I have to do is dig into my recovery tool box and start using the tools I’ve acquired over the past four years (My HP, sponsor, support group, literature, gratitude list, journaling or prayer and meditation).  As long as I keep doing what I was taught and suggested, by the grace of God I will have four years on August 26th, 2012.  The only way I can do that is to surrender to and accept whatever is thrown my way, on a daily basis……one day at a time!  Every morning when I wake up and ask God for peace of mind throughout the day, I’m a newcomer to that day.

Just Do It…by John B

in: recovery

Think About this:

According to a bunch of really smart people, the majority (95 percent) of the observable universe is made up of stuff that nobody knows what it is…..they call it Dark Matter and Dark Energy.

That means that the earth and everything we can see from it makes up less than 5 percent of the whole UNIVERSE…..!  So, how much does that make YOU, do you think?

Selfishness and self-centeredness…could that possibly be the root of my problem?  Nah!

 Did you know? According to AA’s book The 12 Steps & 12 Traditions, “the difference between a DEMAND and a REQUEST should be plain to anyone”.  Well!

So, if you are LUCKY enough to be involved in any type of 12-Step recovery, and you find that you have a bad attitude about your life or, like me, are busily manufacturing your own misery,  it’s YOUR own fault!  Want some relief?  Then go to some meetings and work the steps, or get involved and do some service work.  You will be amazed before you are half-way through!