When recovery starts to take hold, it can come with a wave of change that we want to spread to everyone we know, even total strangers. We manage to give up cigarettes or beer or pills or weed or sugar or pornography a day at a time, and suddenly we’re convinced that that abstinence will cure every problem in the world. Before you know it, we’ve got a business plan for opening mandatory twelve step programs in every part of the world. We are two-stepping our way into our short-comings; we admitted our powerlessness and now we’re ready to carry the message.
No doubt, the steps are powerful and can effect tremendous change. That change is based first and foremost on my willingness to continue to admit powerlessness and take actions to stay sober and stay connected. What happens outside of me is largely beyond my control. But I can influence the world around me. A whole bunch of small steps put together allow me to travel great distances. I am able to take those small steps, and travel those great distances, when I focus on what’s directly in front of me: sobriety, humility and service.
Help me focus on the here and now, that is the best way for me to prepare for the future.
Control the pitch and then let it go, you can't do anything after if leaves your hand --28 days
So often, I’m convinced that I just can’t do it. I just can’t stay sober. How can I do this for the rest of my life? I think, if things were different I could do it. If I had a personal trainer, or a better house, or different parents, or a different childhood, or a better relationship, or if I was more like someone else, then maybe I could make my life work in sobriety. Maybe sobriety would be easier.
Unfortunately, nobody made us any promises about sobriety being easy. And we only complicate it more, by trying to control all the things around us. We cannot control how our lives will end up, we cannot control how other people think of us. Can we even control our own thoughts and emotions? And more importantly, do we need to? The simple path forward is to focus on ourselves and work on accepting where we are. That’s where we start as people, and in fact, that’s where our control ends.
Rather than trying to control my world, I can accept it.
Stop and think for a second, isn’t it amazing that we’re still around? Just think of the torture we’ve put ourselves through. Consider how hard we have pushed away our loved ones. Remember the extreme danger we put ourselves in – risking arrest, risking our health, risking our personal safety. What about all the money, the hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of dollars or more that we have pumped into our addictions. It has been like riding a death machine that we fuel with our hearts and the hearts of our loved ones.
And yet, we’re here. In fact we’re beginning to thrive. We are living in ways we never thought possible for ourselves. We are embracing relationships, and caring for ourselves, and laughing, and crying like real sentient humans. How in the world did we make it through? How in the world do we continue to wake up with the willingness to follow the path, or at least the willingness to be willing. If we go with God, it’s hard to lose.
When I choose God’s path, I will see that I have always been with God.
What is this disease of addiction? What is it really about? There is the obsession, where we just can’t stop thinking about that hit, or food, or fantasy, or person. There is the inability to put down, the compulsion. No matter how bad it gets, we still just want a little more to get through how bad it is.
But is the addiction just that? Underneath, there is the truth of addiction, and it is brutal. The truth of addiction is that we hate ourselves so much, so completely, that we can offer nothing but hate to everyone and everything in the world. It is so miserable being ourselves that we need to block it out, or medicate that devastation. But we think we’re miserable, it’s the thinking that does it. And when we are stuck in those thoughts, there’s no way to feel. When we take our heads out of the sand of addiction, and clear away the wreckage we have wrought, we are left with true emotions, the feelings we’ve been running from all our lives. And those feelings mean we are alive. Which beats the alternative that we’ve suffered with for so long.
Emotions come in all flavors, some hard to tolerate, but all are indications that we are alive.
How many times have we thought, I’m the dumbest in the room, I’m the weakest, the least sober, the biggest failure? It is so easy to go to that chorus of negative self talk. We’re convinced that we’re the worst in the world. And we’ve got the facts to prove it.
But if we can slow down and get out of the world of black and white, we can remember that we’re not always the best judge of facts and circumstances – that’s why the program is working for us. And we can remember that that voice in our heads, that voice of doom and self-loathing, is not our inner voice of truth and is not our higher power’s voice. It is just a character defect. It is not fact, it is disease. And that means that the program can help. We can pray for god to remove that defect of character. And we can see that our lives are wonderful, not in spite of ourselves, but because of ourselves.
I’m a good person and I’m good enough for me.
Getting ready for Step 9 is not easy. I need to drop the blame and stay on my side of the street. I need to talk about myself and make amends when I’m ready, not when I think the other person deserves it. My frequent thought on Step 9 was, I’ll make amends to them when they make amends to me.
But the program gives me the support I need. My sponsor is there for a reality check. And the literature tells me the right frame of mind for amends making. And the best route is the simple one. I start with “I was wrong”. That’s the big one, ownership for my conduct. Then I ask, “How can I help?” Then I can listen. There is a person on the other end of the amends, and the process is about taking responsibility for what I did to that person. It’s simple, but not easy.
My strongest amends is taking ownership for my actions.
We must have been architects in addiction, because we create some amazingly elaborate structures. The lies we concocted were incredible. Lies within lies on top of lies connected to lies. Brand new lies and old reliable lies stitched together into a dizzying array of deception. We were so relieved to get away with it, that we had little time to realize the lies were devastating, and spiteful, and uncaring to the ones closest to us.
Sobriety is clear and open. We stick to the truth and we save time, and save money and save energy that we no longer have to invest in our lies. It is so much easier that carrying around any new lies is just too much. And now every drawer in my house, every number in my contact list, every story I tell is so clean that I don’t have to hide any of it.
Integrity is hard, but perpetuating the lies is harder.