The single most important weapon for combating addiction is honesty. It is only through rigorous honesty that we may break the chains of delusion and melt away the heaping pile of bullshit we have fed ourselves. Honesty is like a sword, slicing through the very things that keep us ill, including the many false and narcissistic perceptions and beliefs we have amassed, the lies we tell ourselves, and ultimately, the bitter and lonely darkness within.

     Honesty is pure freedom. To be honest is to have chosen to remove the oppressive weight that holds us down. It is how we truly let go and how we repair our broken minds. It is how we move from lunacy to sanity. And by taking this action, we have done our part. This is when God rewards us by removing our shackles. We do the work, and He takes it away. This is why the Big Book makes it very clear that the capacity for honesty is the single requirement to heal. Only those who lack this capacity have very little hope of recovery.

     Honesty is therefore our only option, our ultimate strategy, our greatest ally, and perhaps our only hope against the poison inside. And fear not, for once we become honest, the power of God does the rest. Once again, we do the work, and He takes it away. What a beautiful combination. These two great forces will free us from the heavy burden of believing our own lies. They will rid us of the darkness, the angst, the fear, the unhappiness, the sleeplessness…

     We cannot serve two masters. We are either fear-driven or God-driven.

God, please teach me how to become more honest…

Bill’s Story

     There seems to be quite a bit of confusion about AA, so let’s have Bill Wilson help us out. Remember Bill? He was the guy who envisioned and co-founded AA. It also wouldn’t hurt to read some history of AA, from his friend Ebby Thacher’s experience with the Oxford Group to the contributions of William James and Carl Jung, and even back to the Washingtonians. And just in case nobody has any interest in reading from the source, here is a nice, succinct summary:

     Trust God. Clean House. Help Others.

From Bill’s Story, Alcoholics Anonymous, pp.12-16:

     “It was only a matter of being willing to believe in a Power greater than myself. Nothing more was required of me to make my beginning. I saw that growth could start from that point. Upon a foundation of complete willingness I might build what I saw in my friend.
     Thus was I convinced that God is concerned with us humans when we want Him enough. At long last I saw, I felt, I believed. Scales of pride and prejudice fell from my eyes. A new world came into view.
     The real significance of my experience in the Cathedral burst upon me. For a brief moment, I had needed and wanted God. There had been a humble willingness to have Him with me – and He came. But soon His presence had been blotted out by worldly clamors, mostly those within myself. And so it has been ever since. How blind I had been.
     There I humbly offered myself to God, as I then understood Him, to do with me as He would. I placed myself unreservedly under His care and direction. I admitted for the first time that of myself I was nothing; that without Him I was lost. I ruthlessly faced my sins and became willing to have my new-found Friend take them away, root and branch. I have not had a drink since.
     My schoolmate visited me, and I fully acquainted him with my problems and deficiencies. We made a list of people I had hurt or toward I felt resentment. I expressed my entire willingness to approach these individuals, admitting my wrong. Never was I to be critical of them. I was to right all such matters to the utmost of my ability. 
     I was to test my thinking by the new God-consciouness within. Common sense would thus become uncommon sense. I was to sit quietly when in doubt, asking only for direction and strength to meet my problems as He would have me. Never was I to pray for myself, except as my requests bore on my usefulness to others. Then only might I expect to receive. But that would be in great measure. 
     My friend promised when these things were done I would enter upon a new relationship with my Creator; that I would have the elements of a way of living which answered all my problems. Belief in the power of God, plus enough willingness, honesty and humility to establish and maintain the new order of things, were the essential requirements. 
     Simple, but not easy; a price had to be paid. It meant destruction of self-centeredness. I must turn all things to the Father of Light who presides over us all.
     These were revolutionary and drastic proposals, but the moment I fully accepted them, the effect was electric. There was a sense of victory, followed by such a peace and serenity as I had ever known. There was utter confidence. I felt lifted up, as though the clean wind of a mountain top blew through and through. God comes to most men gradually, but His impact on me was sudden and profound.
     For a moment I was alarmed, and called my friend, the doctor, to ask if I were still sane. He listened in wonder as I talked. 
     Finally he shook his head saying, ‘Something has happened to you I don’t understand. But you had better hang on to it. Anything is better than the way you were.’ The good doctor now sees many men who have such experiences. He knows that they are real.
     While I lay in the hospital the thought came that there were thousands of hopeless alcoholics who might be glad to have what had been so freely given me. Perhaps I could help some of them. They in turn might work with others. 
     My friend had emphasized the absolute necessity of demonstrating these principles in all my affairs. Particularly was it imperative to work with others as he had worked with me. Faith without works was dead, he said. And how appallingly true for the alcoholic! For if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he could not survive the certain trials and low spots ahead. If he did not work, he would surely drink again, and if he drank, he would surely die. Then faith would be dead indeed. With us it is just like that. 
     My wife and I abandoned ourselves with enthusiasm to the idea of helping other alcoholics to a solution of their problems… Many times I have gone to my old hospital in despair. On talking to a man there, I would be amazingly lifted up and set on my feet. It is a design for living that works in the rough going.
     We commenced to make many fast friends and a fellowship has grown up among us of which it is a wonderful thing to feel a part. The joy of living we really have, even under pressure and difficulty. I have seen hundreds of families set their feet in the path that really goes somewhere; have seen the most impossible domestic situations righted; feuds and bitterness of all sorts wiped out. I have seen men come out of asylums and resume a vital place in the lives of their families and communities. Business and professional men have regained their standing. There is scarcely any form of trouble and misery which has not been overcome among us. In one western city and its environs there are one thousand of us and our families. We meet frequently so that newcomers may find the fellowship they seek. At these informal gatherings one may see from 50 to 200 persons. We are growing in numbers and power. 
    An alcoholic in his cups is an unlovely creature. Our struggles with them are variously strenuous, comic, and tragic. One poor chap committed suicide in my home. He could not, or would not, see our way of life. 
     There is, however, a vast amount of fun about it all. I suppose some would be shocked at our seeming worldliness and levity. But just underneath there is deadly earnestness. Faith has to work twenty-four hours a day in and through us, or we perish. 
     Most of us feel we need look no further for Utopia. We have it right here and now. Each day my friend’s simple talk in our kitchen multiplies itself in a widening circle of peace of earth and good will to men.”

     So that’s what AA is, and as you can see, it isn’t really about AA. It’s about getting better. It’s about growing spiritually, taking right action and helping others. Doesn’t matter how we get there, but whatever our path, it must involve hard work, humility, service and God.

Altering Projections

     Sometimes it feels like negative projection is fundamental to being human. It is like a virus that never goes away, though I can keep the symptoms at bay for a time. It’s just one of those insidious things that haunts me day after day after day.

     Sadly, I remain sensitive to seeing in others those things that I once loathed or still loathe about myself. Especially the things I wanted so desperately to rid myself of, such as irresponsibility. I become critical when I see irresponsibility in others. Why? Because I was the epitome of irresponsibility, and this is one of the things I hated most about my old self. Other things I hated about myself were vanity, arrogance, even gregariousness – you know, as if everyone is looking at me, so impressed, but the reality is I’m just loud, obnoxious and embarrassing, as my audience suffers my presence. I hate it when I see that now in others – that fake, narcissistic, cocky charm.

     So how do I get rid of persistent negative projection, when even inventory and prayer fail me? Personally, I’ve had to search for some more unorthodox measures. For one, my wife and I have both been doing a guided heart meditation. Second, I read a fascinating article about how the power of simply repeating certain phrases can alter my mind and bio-chemistry, and therefore what I attract to myself. The strategy is essentially just love. Love for self and therefore love for others. It is based on the notion that everything in our world is simply a projection of our inner selves. So if we are light-filled and peaceful within, then everything outside of us will change accordingly.

     The truth is that when I begin to see countless things that annoy me, it is merely a reflection that I’m messed up inside. So if I can change myself within, if I can love and forgive myself, then my outer world will also change. But to do this, I must repeatedly alter my frame of mind, even my bio-chemistry itself. And by repeating loving words, I can do just that. Music can accomplish this as well. Sound resonates, like everything, and therefore has the ability to completely shift energy. And it’s not even miraculous, it’s just the way it is. It’s simply the metaphysical reality of the way things are.


God, help me to find ways to shift myself, that I may create peace around me…

Armed With A Solution

     “Highly competent psychiatrists who have dealt with us have found it sometimes impossible to persuade an alcoholic to discuss his situation without reserve. Strangely enough, wives, parents and intimate friends usually find us even more unapproachable than do the psychiatrist and the doctor.
     But the ex-problem drinker who has found this solution, who is properly armed with facts about himself, can generally win the entire confidence of another alcoholic in a few hours. Until such an understanding is reached, little or nothing can be accomplished.
Alcoholics Anonymous, p.18.

     This is why it’s entirely useless for an addict to go talk to a therapist or a doctor about their drug problem. Therapists and doctors don’t know what to say and they don’t know what to do. They can’t instill confidence in us and they can’t offer us a solution (that actually works).

     Therapists, doctors and addiction counselors don’t instill any confidence in us because they have not used and felt the way we did. Some counselors may have, but their problem is that they are not armed with the solution. They cannot lay down the path to freedom for us, the path to God.

     If you haven’t used and felt they way I have, if you cannot accurately describe the alcoholic mind, then you have no business trying to help me with my addiction and I have no business listening to you. If all you have to offer is text book nonsense and propaganda, a prescription for suboxone or an injection of vivitrol, then you’re in the wrong business. And the same goes for you counselors. If all you have to offer is relapse prevention, trigger identification, group therapy and skits, then you have no business working with addicts. By the way, triggers don’t exist. Breathing is a trigger.

     So if you are truly suffering, do yourself a favor and find a recovered alcoholic/addict to take you through the first 164 pages of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Yes, AA is a book – a text book that describes how to take Steps, which is how we recover from alcoholism. The “program” is little more than a set of spiritual actions. The fellowship is simply meant to bring this solution to others in humility and good will.

God, please help me become willing to trust, grow and change…

Holier Than Thou

     It’s funny, I went to a place that suggested I smash my pride and arrogance to bits. The notion of Holier Than Thou was to be destroyed and replaced with an attitude of humility, acceptance, kindness and tolerance. Guys I used to meet and share with always highlighted and emphasized the Big Book passage, “We are those who would normally not mix. But there exists among us a fellowship, a friendliness, and an understanding which is indescribably wonderful…” as if to proudly show how anyone can come together to share this solution and bring it to others.

     Well, that has changed a bit. Some of us in recovery and in the Steps have formed some fairly exclusive cliques, limited to those who meet certain specifications, and unfortunately, wanting to be involved in sharing and bringing this solution to others isn’t one of them. This is what all of us must watch out for in recovery – becoming exclusive, superior, cocky. I’ve been guilty of it myself. And how comical for an addict to have spiritual pride of all things. How ridiculous, considering the source.

     Any of us who have supposedly recovered but who believe ourselves to be too cool for school, who rest comfortably in our Holier Than Thou fog, are perhaps no better at all. In fact, we are probably dangerous and our sponsorship is dangerous. Looking back on my own hubris and isolation at times, exclusivity and superiority tend to be the ideologies of proud tyrants, fear-driven phonies, and the spiritually ill.

God, please remind me that I can help no one with a Holier Than Thou attitude…