Other People’s Opinions by John B

in: recovery

I have been a prisoner of what I like to think of as OPO, for a very long time. See, all I was trying to do, when I came to recovery, was stop the insanity.  That’s it.  I had no idea that there would be so much of it involved (and that it would be mine).

When I came to 12 step recovery, I had no knowledge of OPO, and certainly had no defense against it.  All I really knew was that I had this FEELING sometimes when people said things like, “keep comin’ back!” after I had just shared something I felt shame about, which was most everything, really.  You see, I had no boundaries, and, being a people pleaser, I was and still am very co-dependent.  Please love me!  No wait, don’t love me, like me, no love me…..oh, whatever.

Sure, you probably think you aren’t like THAT.  Not ME you say.  I have NO PROBLEM declining invitations I don’t want from people I don’t like!  I am able to refuse to accept and eat food that I don’t like/want, from people that I want/need to like me.  I mean, really, I certainly don’t want to OFFEND anyone—so I say nothing about that resentment, that invasion of my SPACE that happens over and over, my blood pressure rising all the while.  What if they don’t like me?  What if they speak badly about ME?

I do understand that there may be some people that have absolutely NO ISSUES with this….stop gloating.   For me, recovery is about learning how to be a human being in a world that is just CHOCK full of other human beings.  Yes, Rodney, we CAN all just get along!  But only if we develop “healthy” boundaries!!

Next up:  When, Oh when will They recognize me for my exceptional abilities?

It’s Not Brain Surgery by Mike H.

in: recovery

Why, Why, WHY do addicts insist on make a simple program so difficult?  (Answer:  The need to control every minute of their daily life).  A client once asked me, “How are going to stay sober today?”  I replied, “Well, let’s see….I’m not going to drink any alcohol.”  “Good, good” replied the client (as he took notes) and then asked “What else?”

Come on people – we are not performing brain surgery here.  We are not building a piano or painting the Sistine Chapel.  We are  following a simple path that allows us, just for today, to remain sober.  I finally satisfied the client, who had to hear “what else” by telling him that I was not going to drink today because I had more important things to do.  (Before he could ask what they were, I gave him an assignment to work on).

Throughout the Big Book are reminders that we need to “keep it simple” – “a day at a time” – “First things first” – “Easy does it”.  Put away your scalpel, your hammer, and your paintbrush – you don’t need them today.  I think I’ll stay sober today by not drinking any alcohol, writing an entry for the blog, and going to a meeting.  What’s your plan?

It’s a matter of perspective…by Bob J

in: recovery

Recently while driving to work I happened to see the reflection of an egret in the very still waters of a small lake; the image that I saw was very elongated and made the egret appear larger than life. It was a beautiful sight and a great start to my day but it got me to thinking about how my perception affects my view of the world.

When I view the world as hostile and threatening I become wary and untrusting. If I think that a situation will result in discord or disagreement, chances are increased that it will turn out that way. Many of us comment “I hate calling customer service for (cable company, telephone, internet, etc) because I always lose my temper with their incompetence.” We are unconsciously setting the stage for the uncomfortability we experience in our lives.

A recent experience demonstrated just how insidious this can be felt in my life. I received notice of a certified letter waiting for me to pick up from the post office. My first thought was that it was from the management company for the apartment that I had recently vacated with my job change. I began to prepare myself for battle with that company since I “knew” they were going to try to make me pay an outrageous sum for moving out earlier than my lease would allow. I conjured up what the letter would say and plotted which attorney I would use to fight this battle. THEN I went to the post office to retrieve the letter which was indeed from the apartment management company; I waited until I was in my car to open the letter. I removed the contents of the envelope and unfolded the pages to read the dreaded accusations and demands for many hundreds of dollars but much to my amazement the contents were an accounting of the funds applied from my security deposit and a partial refund of about $400.  I was shocked and a little embarrassed that I had allowed this to take up so much of my mental energy. The situation turned out much better than I had planned for in my head.

This reminder that my default setting is untrusting and adversarial was an eye opener.  I admitted that I was operating in overload mode (in the course of less than six weeks I had been laid off from one job, secured a new job and moved to a new town) and that I had been neglecting taking good care of myself. I increased my meeting attendance; starting cooking more at home paying attention to my nutritional needs and spoke more with my sponsor. Paying attention to the little things and getting regular rest also played a part in the changes I found necessary.

My attitude is much improved; I find myself smiling as I am driving TO work!! I drive through a very pretty golf course community with lots of green space and water features so the morning commute is quite lovely. The morning sun is shining brightly in my face as I drive east toward the office, sometimes there is a mist rising from the water in those early morning hours I try to notice at least one item of beauty or nature to reset my mind to seeing the beauty that is present every day. When my attention is on my gratitude and appreciation for the gifts of my recovery negativity can hardly get a foothold. It is, after all, a matter of perspective.

I am so sensitive, you just hurt my feelings by John B

in: recovery

 

Growth

Here’s how I know I am growing:  I am uncomfortable.  That’s why I resist it so much!  I have heard it said that the 12 steps is a “Million Dollar” program.  Well, people like me get it jammed up our assess one nickel at a time!!

Ego

My ego so fat…..
The back of its neck looks like a pack of hot dogs!
When my ego runs, friction causes its thighs to catch fire!

Sensitivity

I am so sensitive, you just hurt my feelings

Self Centeredness

It’s all about ME, right?  I mean let’s face it, how can it not be all about me because I am so smart and handsome and smart too…..stop looking at me

The New Guy at my job

Being the new guy at my job, I feel like the character on SNL;  you know, the “Makin Copies” guy?   I am always trying to connect with people so they will like me, but never really succeeding, because I try too hard and just end up scaring them!

Thank God I am going to a meeting today!!

My Little Negativity Generator by John B

in: recovery

I am afraid of my brain; I have good reason to fear it, too.  You see, my brain is very much like a computer, it can be used for good, or evil….. and I am the programmer!

This is not good news because I naturally lean toward negativity and disaster.  And I am really good at projecting bad outcomes and worrying about things that may never happen.  I love depression and anxiety, and fear I am hopelessly  addicted to fear!  I have had imaginary conversations with people I have never met, about things that never happened!   And then there are the “dark days” when all I do is feel like running away and hiding, or worse….

Here is the default setting for my brain: “we are screwed!  It’s no good, it will never work, they hate you, don’t tell anyone!  let’s drive to Las Vegas…..”  If I don’t continually make the effort to change that default, I will have a bad result.

Sometimes I forget that I have to continually put in positive programming such as this: “acceptance is the answer”, and “I am powerless over people, places, things” or ” there really are people like me at meetings” and “my sponsor is there to help me”.  If I don’t my “bad brain” goes back to manufacturing misery.

All this really wouldn’t make one bit of difference if I lived in a cave.  See, I actually ENJOY manufacturing my own misery sometimes; I am quite good at it, too.  The problem is that I tend to inflict my bad attitudes on others…

I have the power to create a bad day, and need NO help to do THAT, thank you very much; or I can create a good day.  But for that I need all the help I can get!!

I can’t do this by myself!

Next Up:  “When oh when are they going to recognize ME for all my exceptional abilities?”

I’m Not Santa by Mike H

in: recovery

I remember my grandiose thoughts during my first year as an addictions therapist – I would give the gift of recovery to my clients.  Wow, look at the Ego on me!  I quickly learned that recovery wasn’t something I could just hand over to someone – I didn’t have that kind of power.  What I did discover was that I could show my clients where to look for the gift and make suggestions on how to obtain it.  I do this by walking along side of them on the road to recovery.  If they stray off the path, I redirect.  If they stumble, I help them up and offer encouragement to try again.  When we pass a milestone, I pat them on the back.  There’s a catch, of course.  The client must have just a bit of willingness and enough courage to take the first few baby steps.

If you are currently traveling down the destructive path of addiction and seek new direction, come on down and lets you and I take a walk – I have some things I’d like to show you.

I haven’t been totally honest – there was one occasion in my life when I successfully did give the gift of recovery —-the day I gave it to myself.  My heart is still filled with love and appreciation for all you who showed me where to look.

Beliefs and Other Things “I Know” by John B

in: recovery

We all have belief systems that we use to make sense of the world.  Wikipedia (it’s the only website I can view at work) says this about them:   “The British philosopher Stephen Law has described belief systems (including belief in psychic powers and alien abduction) as “claptrap” and said that they “draw people in and hold them captive so they become willing slaves … if you get sucked in, it can be extremely difficult to think your way clear again”.

Like everyone else, I also hold many beliefs which are near and dear to me, and some of these beliefs are actually valid (I think).  For example, I believe that do be a totally functioning and healthy person, we need to be not only mentally, but also physically and spiritually fit.  This is what is known as a GOOD belief.  How do I know this?  Well, for one thing, I have never (yet) been arrested after leaving a gym or my therapist’s office!

However, I have discovered by staying sober that a majority of what I believe is just crap.

I could be wrong, but my guess is that most all of the beliefs in my system were formulated before age 7 or so.  Such as my perception and ideas that I have about women, and their roles in life, which I got from Mommy, of course; let’s just say they are not  accurate….  Or the belief I have sometimes, that the world is not a safe place; turns out to be bullshit, too.  And there a many more beliefs like this that I used to form the “Operating System” for my computer brain.  Anyway, when I began drinking and drugging, any hope of changing or even looking at my beliefs, vanished. 

For instance, I try way too hard to make people like me because I am a “people pleaser”, which is just one of my worst character defects.  The belief is that if people like me, I am ok!  This belief persists, even though I have observed over the years that most people don’t really give a crap what I am thinking about because they are so full of their own thoughts.

So, be sure to check your belief systems today, boys and girls!  Ask yourself this question: Is it working?  

But, don’t worry, changes that occur in beliefs usually come in small increments, thanks H.P.  And for those of us that tend to resist change, as I do, they sometimes come in micro- increments.  The good news is that through staying sober, showing up and trying to do the right thing, we do get them, never-the-less.

So, stay tuned, I am sure more will be revealed! – John B

Setting Yourself Free by Stephanie B.

in: recovery

Addiction – such a bad word, connotating images of paper bags, dirty men under the bridge and bottles of cheap wine.  In reality, however, it is more likely the middle-class, middle-aged man or woman sipping, gulping, hiding, working, and striving to cover up their daily struggle of keeping up the façade of “I’m okay.”  The disease weaves in and out their daily lives whispering, lying and stealing, until there is no thing left but despair and death.

 This is not written in stone, however.  Nowhere does it say that this conclusion is inevitable.  What will it take to best the demon, pin it down, and gain control?  It takes acceptance and surrender.  Accepting your powerlessness and surrendering to your Higher Power.  It means totally and completely working towards recovery and freedom.

What recovery means to me…

in: recovery

I have been thinking about my recovery from alcoholism and how to explain what it means to me.

  • It means emerging into the light instead of living in darkness
  • It means waking up instead of coming to
  • It means knowing who I am instead of pretending what I want to be
  • It means finding meaning and purpose in my life instead of creating confusion and chaos
  • It means finding daily positives to be grateful for instead of dwelling on negatives to complain about
  • It means realizing that people in my life treat me with love and respect instead of anger and pity
  • It means fulfilling a dream instead of chasing a nightmare
  • It means finding hope instead of living in fear
  • It means being ready to act instead of ready to run

It’s all good………………………….What does your recovery mean to you?

Problems Other than Alcohol

in: recovery

It took me a long time to realize that I am not alone with my character defects and mental illness issues.  There are others in meetings who suffer as I do, who have problems other just their “addictions” with which to deal.  There are those with mental and emotional problems, people with personality disorders, control freaks and co dependents.  Some with just one or two of these maladies, some with the full spectrum.  Then there are the zealots, those that treat AA or NA like a religion, and the Big Book as though it is The Bible.

I ISOLATED when I got drunk and high.  Additionally, I spent most of my life as a selfish/self centered alcoholic, with my head firmly planted way up my digestive tract, where oxygen is in short supply –  hence the brain damage – but I digress.  I therefore did not have much experience dealing with anyone, let alone these types of folk, on a sober basis, until I started going to AA meetings.

Certainly, this is not to say that I am without defects because of course, I know better than to try and pull that shit.  At times I am an obsessive/compulsive, at other times a depressive.  My anxiety issues can be off the charts some days, and God help you if you have to be exposed to me after I have experienced a DISAPPOINTMENT, or happen to be ENTHUSIASTIC about some new idea or concept!  But I really do try not to inflict my defects on others, at meetings, anyway; at home, all bets are OFF.

At first I didn’t trust anyone at meetings.  Even though they said stuff like “let us love you until you can love yourself” and “you are the most important person in the room”.  I knew that they only said that stuff because they wanted all the other people in the meeting to like them for “practicing the program”.  What a bunch of a-holes, I thought!  I was to find out later the term is “people pleaser”.  Spot it ya got it, Richard!

Gradually, and with repeated exposure in meetings, concepts that were foreign to me such as “tolerance” seeped through to my new conscious self.  Slowly, when my active little “monkey mind” was between obsessions, I began to find people in recovery that had the same “illness” that I had, seemed to have what I wanted, and also could tolerate my special brand of crazy.  These people showed me that “true tolerance of others” is achievable for me, even if only occasionally.

I find that my higher power is always present at meetings, and is helping me to find ways to accept, tolerate and actually PRACTICE principles that I would otherwise choose to ignore.  “God, Grant Me the Serenity…” is the answer to achieving peace and serenity, as we all “trudge the road of happy destiny” in each of our daily lives.

Even though some days when I leave the house and the sun is shining and the birds are trilling, I just want to shout to them all………….. SHUT THE F… UP!!                  

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