ANYBODY CAN TAKE STEPS
ANYBODY CAN TAKE STEPS
This is part of a new comment on, Why Alcoholics Hurt People:
“I thought my love would be enough, I thought my love and caring would fix her. The problem with the addict: the more you love, the more they take of you and everything else, until there’s nothing left to give.”
This is a guy who gets it. I don’t sit here and turn things upside down for no reason. If you have a real alcoholic or drug addict in your life, you will eventually come to realize that there is no amount of time, energy, love or money you can sacrifice that will fix him or her, so you might as well not spend your life fighting so hard or making war with someone’s addiction. All you will do is burn yourself out. You will become emotionally, mentally, psychologically and physically exhausted, sick, torn and depleted. That’s what addicts and alcoholics do to people.
But as I explained in the old post, we do this because addiction and alcoholism is #1 in our lives… until it isn’t. Drugs and alcohol are the loves of our lives and we will stop at nothing to get what we want and use to our little hearts’ content, even if that means lying to you, deceiving you, hurting you, abusing you and breaking your heart day after day after day.
So, ask yourself honestly, do ‘Science and Kindness‘ change addicts and alcoholics? NOPE. Addicts and alcoholics need to get worse, so once they’ve crossed over that line, don’t stop them. The worse we get, the closer we get to getting better. The worse we get, the closer we get to coming home to God, one way or the other. Addicts and alcoholics need God.
Here is the gentleman’s full comment:
“Wish I had read this a year ago. 3 weeks ago I had enough and for my own mental health walked out. She has no idea how much she hurt our relationship with her drinking. I’m left with the guilt of calling it quits and the pain of seeing her downward spiral in extremely dangerous lifestyle choices.
Everything you mentioned in your article is so true. To anyone even contemplating a relationship with an alcoholic: RUN, run as fast and as far away as possible. I didn’t want to run. I thought my love would be enough, I thought my love and caring would fix her. The problem with the addict: the more you love, the more they take of you and everything else, until there’s nothing left to give.”
“Being a junkie and coming up with 100 bucks for your habit everyday is a harder grind than many working adults have ever experienced.” – By Jackie X (Haha, yeah, stealing from those responsible, hardworking adults is really tough. Please.)
“I’ve never hurt a soul. In fact, I’m a really nice guy. Besides, all I do is smoke pot all day and drink the better half of a twelve pack every night.”
“Pot isn’t a drug. It’s been proven! There are no harmful effects and it is NOT ADDICTIVE! In fact, it actually heals you from, like, everything, and makes you a much better person. I heard that weed is actually the leaves of the fruit of the tree of life from the Book of Revelations. I definitely get closer to God the more weed I smoke. Definitely. I wish I still had my coconut chalice, man. Where the F did that thing go? I think my stupid Dad threw it out.”
“I’m a happy drunk.”
“I’m a really nice drunk.”
“The thing is, nobody feels the way I do, because believe me, if they did, they would drink and use drugs too.”
“Look, it’s not my fault. It’s my genes. Geez, have some fucking compassion. I have a disease, just like anyone else with any other type of disease. Totally involuntary.”
“My doctor said it’s totally fine and totally safe to just smoke pot, take methadone, and pop klonopin once in a while for my anxiety. That’s all ‘as prescribed’ stuff, so please stop implying anything because I’ve been sober for a really long time. In fact, I’m celebratin’ my 1 year this weekend at the meetin’. Omg, can’t wait to get my chip!”
“I don’t really owe amends to anybody ’cause all I did was use, but I didn’t hurt anyone. If my mom was like sad that I used, that’s her choice to be sad because I didn’t actually directly do anything to her.”
“I’m different than everybody else in the world.”
“I use because I don’t fit in.”
“I use because of the way the kids treated me in school. It’s their fault I started smoking meth and huffing. Now that I cook meth for my community, I’m at least trying to give back a little bit.”
“I use because of stuff that happened to me, stuff that people did to me, and stuff that people said to me.”
“I use because I’m bored, miserable, angry and have low self-esteem. My therapist said it makes sense that I would use if I felt all those things. He also said that relapse is part of recovery, so I shouldn’t judge myself if I ever relapse. So I relapsed about 50 times over the summer and I’m really just gonna roll with it and go easy on myself. I mean, hey, it was the summer.”
…on and on…
Alcoholics and addicts are stubborn, obstinate, and tend to worship their own minds/intellect. We think we can get ourselves better if and when we choose to, which is a fallacy. And no matter how smart we think we are, our minds have instead become narrow, limited and ignorant. We demand to see results. We demand to know exactly what it is that will fix us. We want to see it to believe it. But that may be the one thing standing in the way of getting better.
Until I read my inventory (5th Step) and recited the 7th Step prayer, I didn’t know if any of it would work. Sometimes it was difficult to embark on this mountain of work without knowing the end result. There was no guarantee I would have some profound psychic change. There was no guarantee I would recover. This is exactly why us addicts need to take a leap of faith… to break a lifelong pattern of never trusting in the unknown. We always have to know. We cling to our own self-will and sense of control because we don’t trust in letting go. We don’t trust in God’s will.
So in the Steps we are asked to step into the darkness, unsure of where we will land. We are asked to just do the work on faith and see what happens. It’s like a trust fall. You don’t know that all of those people will catch you when you fall back. You have to trust that they will. Faith is trust. Trust that it will work. Trust that you will be okay. Trust in your recovery. Trust in the unknown. Trust in God. And hey, why not?
Dumb, entitled, ingrate teenagers who threw trash out of the window while driving by my house.
a. Threw trash out of the window while driving by my house. Plus one of the kids’ hats was on sideways and elevated. That doesn’t help.
P/A, SE (because I take it personally)
*Self-Seeking: I’m a tough guy. No one throws trash outside my house. Good thing they didn’t stop. And besides being a tough guy, I’m also way too smart to do something that stupid.
*Selfish: I want others to act and think the way I do. Even more, I want these kids to feel ashamed for their stupidity (to indulge pride etc.).
*Dishonest: I take it personally not necessarily because I care so much about Mother Earth but because I don’t want to see the trash on the ground outside of my house. I don’t like the way it looks.
*Fear: I fear not being seen or noticed by others (for what I perceive to be good or superior qualities in myself).
Let’s look at this because it is a great example of how we alone cause our resentment, not the person or people we’d like to blame.
Dumping garbage out of my window is not something I resent in myself because this really is something I would never do. I used to consider myself almost a different species from someone who would voluntarily throw shit out of their windows, including cigarettes. I found it vile. I was shocked and angered that these kids (the future) feel neither embarrassment, nor do they feel any reason to NOT throw crap on the ground. If I did something like that, even by accident, I’d be glowing with embarrassment.
So then, how was I self-seeking?
Originally, I figured it was that I wanted to be seen as smart and advanced, but when looking deeper, the truth is that it pissed me off because I took it personally. How dare anybody drive by my house and throw trash on the street, especially a bunch of teenage ingrates with no purpose to their existence other than aspiring to look incarcerated? At any rate, I wanted to rip the one who threw the trash out of the car and inflict shame and punishment on him. Why? The bottom line is that it affected my pride. I wanted to be seen as a tough guy. So it had less to do with the idiocy of throwing trash out of one’s window and more to do with the fact that they did it in front of me. If they had been on another street and I didn’t witness it, would it have pissed me off just the same? Nope.
So it’s more honest to say that I wanted to be seen as a tough guy than as someone who is too smart to throw trash on the ground. I’ve left both answers so you can see that there is more than one, but the trick is to find the deepest truth, to discover what is really going on.
As far as selfish goes, I originally thought it was that I wanted others to be like me – to think, speak, dress and act the way I do. But when looking deeper, the truth is that I want these kids to know how ignorant they are and feel ashamed of it. Yup, sorry. I want the kid who threw the trash to feel shame, to suffer some kind of emotional consequence. Instead, they sped by laughing and screaming and blasting music… and that is what caused the resentment. It wasn’t that they are different from me but that they did not suffer any consequence.
Why do I care so much that they suffer for what they did? Am I some justice man? Nope. Again, it’s simply because I took it personally because they did it outside of my house. It makes me feel like some loser who gets trash thrown on his lawn, even though they don’t know me from a hole in the wall. In this way it affects my self-esteem and how I see myself. Am I some schmuck that even dumb teenagers can walk all over? The truth is it had nothing to do with me, but you can see how I made it about me and this is what caused the resentment.
I was dishonest because I was lying to myself. That is, instead of being some righteous individual who doesn’t ever litter, the truth is I took it personally. Avoiding that truth helped fuel the resentment. In my new book, “Anybody Can Take Steps” (due out this fall), the 4th Step chapter on our written moral inventory is very extensive, so hopefully it will help.
Finally, what was I afraid of? What did I fear? Originally I thought that I was afraid to love others, afraid to love these children despite our differences, but the truth is that I want recognition for those differences. These kids remind me that I’m not showing off who I am, my goodness, what I’m capable of, my talent. I’m afraid nobody will notice me. I know it sounds a little ridiculous to get all of this from a bunch of kids throwing a McDonald’s bag out of the window (which is also annoying that is was McDonald’s), but when we dig deep, get honest and see things clearly, we discover that our resentment is born, fueled and maintained within.
Everybody should go through this process when they cop resentments, or at least addicts and alcoholics. Why? Because it prevents us from wrongly judging others and from accumulating the poison of resentment within, which brings us down and can affect all aspects of our lives.
Purpose. That’s what Steps give us, and for people like us that is priceless. Addicts, alcoholics and many non-addicts alike are lost and have no purpose in life, and even if we have a purpose/goal or think we have one, it is not serving us, nor is it powerful enough to keep us on the right path. But when addicts give themselves to this process, they gain a two-fold purpose: spiritual growth and service.
So you really have to measure that against other treatment strategies when assessing the Twelve Steps. For instance, What purpose do Vivitrol injections give you? What purpose does Methadone give you? What purpose does relapse prevention give you? What purpose does writing down your made-up triggers give you? What purpose does therapy give you? What purpose does fabricating reasons why you drink or use drugs give you? What purpose does blaming someone or something outside of yourself give you? What purpose does blaming your parents or genes or feelings or thoughts give you? What purpose does merely attending AA meetings give you? What purpose does listening to stories, making coffee, reciting slogans and holding on by a thread give you? What purpose do watered down NA workbooks give you? What purpose does Passages Malibu give you for $92,000? What purpose does having an orgy in one of Narcanon’s saunas give you? What purpose does Rational Recovery or Smart Recovery give you? What purpose does your psychiatrist give you? Being a guinea pig? A brain experiment? A numbed, controlled, mindless robot who can no longer think for themselves or make their own decisions?
So ask yourself from time to time, what purpose does your program give you? Does it give you a whole new meaning to your life? Does it provide you with the gift of a service and spiritual growth? If not, you may want to reassess at some point. If you are relapsing left and right, you might want to try something else. If you are still miserable and full of RID, can you entertain the notion that something might be missing in your program? If you find yourself still on substitution drugs two years later or twenty years later, you may want to somehow pull yourself out of your Methadone/Suboxone-induced fog/paralysis and consider doing some actual work on yourself.
Fearlessly and thoroughly taking Steps leaves you with the burning desire to grow along spiritual lines, with the purpose of carrying this message and helping others to get better, with a new relationship and love for God. Sorry, but what better purpose is there in life than service? Please, enlighten me and educate me on a more nuanced philosophy 😉
P.S. Since financial IQ is non-existent in mainstream America, mainstream media, school, college, government and the white house, let me share this brief clip I saw this morning from Mike Maloney’s The Hidden Secrets of Money: Your Government Will Eat You Alive. As well, Armstrong Economics is a great site to learn about how the world economy works, and he writes a terrific blog as well. I also procured enough time to watch part of Jon Stossel’s new show on Victimhood in America, which is an absolute must-watch.
He discusses the welfare state’s actual effects and how sensitive everybody has become, how everybody is somehow a victim and how everything is now offensive, noting how many liberal arts college kids are being infected with a hyper-sensitivity and a sort of guilt radar for what they call micro-aggressions – terms that contain covert, subtle, subconscious (i.e. non-existent) forms of racism or sexism. Some colleges are even punishing students for using micro-aggressions unknowingly, as if such a thing exists to begin with. True story.
So for example, say you’re getting to know a new friend in college and you ask him if he has a girlfriend, that would be both an act of covert discrimination as well as an act of violence towards him and of course, the entire LGBT community. Lol. Someone also recently sent me studies claiming men who BBQ are sexist and that people who haven’t had sex with multiple ethnicities are racist. I’m not kidding. This is what the academic elite are producing and pumping into your kids at private colleges for 40+k a year. They have made war against the freedom of speech and the end result is total control and totalitarianism. This is just the beginning. Mark my words.
Needless to say, college kids and intellectuals alike don’t even understand these terms, as for an individual to actually be racist, he or she has to possess power, or rather, the ability to physically or systematically oppress a person or a group of people. What they in fact are getting all worked up about and obsessed with is prejudice, as opposed to racism, and believe me, we all have bias, but making it such a big deal actually works to empower it. Special treatment is itself a type of prejudice, so the truth is that all of the people who fight for some other group are much more prejudiced than people who simply go to work and live their lives.
Addicts, for instance, are stereotyped, and rightly so. Stereotypes wouldn’t exist if there weren’t some truth to them. Many societies stereotype addicts as selfish… are they not all selfish? Of course they are!
Don’t get me wrong. Both political parties seem to be absolutely brain dead, if not altogether insane, as they both seem to have no problem whatsoever destroying the country. Both parties are pro-government expansion, pro-spending, pro-debt, pro-war, pro-surveillance, pro-authoritarian rule and pro-moral relativity. The Left is outwardly profligate while pretending to be anti-war, while the Right is outwardly pro-war while pretending to be anti-profligate. I have to say, I find the lying, the hypocrisy, the corruption and the moral destitution on both sides to be somewhat vile.
The Left preach tolerance yet often become enraged and react with disgust and vitriol to anyone who disagrees with them or voices any dissent from their views, calling them stupid, if not evil. They cannot listen to anyone or admit mistakes. As well, they have an intellectual superiority complex and an arrogance to them when in fact they fail to understand several things, nor can see the long view on anything. The Right are in many cases quite stupid, as the Left charges, which certainly doesn’t help their cause. As well, they are completely obsessed with war and the police state.
The truth is both want war and both want to bankrupt America in an effort to maintain power and line their pensions, so you just can’t believe anything they say. And then you have the globalists and the elite who essentially want to depopulate the Earth by about 40-50%. But look, all you need to know is that most of the Right and especially the Left could not care any less about the middle class and the poor. They are owned by the banks. Bought and sold to the highest bidder. The should wear Nascar jackets with their sponsors, as Washington is essentially a collection of prostitutes.
We are now rapidly swinging away from democracy and economic freedom and more towards socialism/marxism, but people are being duped. Socialism has nothing to do with helping the poor. I know it’s a good sales pitch, but sorry guys, it’s not true. It’s about justifying theft to hand more control to the state so they can take whatever they want for themselves. Candidates simply want power and to rule the world. They will say anything to get voted in, and trust me, ‘free stuff’ works every time… even though there is no such thing as free anything. Everything you think is free was taken from somebody else. Question: What then happens when everybody is broke?
Read some history and you will see for yourself. Authoritative socialism actually crushes and cripples the poor and destroys society. All Marxist societies throughout time have devolved into massive unemployment, impoverishment, depravity, dependency, division, and corruption at the state level. Sorry, but that’s just what you get when tear at the fabric of humanity and freedom. Economic freedom has lifted more out of poverty than anything else in all of history. Mix freedom with personal responsibility and be sure to prosecute fraud, corruption and cronyism, and you have the best of all the systems we have. Be careful and beware what is coming our way because trust me, it’s not going to be pretty. You will see the greater depression resume and an increasing loss of confidence in government as war and civil unrest turns up. Good job, central planners. Trust me, this isn’t the natural business cycle. This is what happens when you try to manipulate and interfere with natural cycles. Margaret Thatcher understood this and astutely remarked, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” The bottom line is if you have more people riding in the cart than you have pulling the cart, the cart stops. Is that not a fact?
Look, when you clamp down economically, all that does is drive capital away and slowly impoverishes a nation. Expanding government and taxing the shit out of everybody decreases real GDP and net income per family. It is deflationary and reduces economic activity. Government is funded by extracting wealth from those in the private sector who actually earn and produce. Therefore, more government = shrinking economy. Sorry, but there is just no good argument against mathematical certainties. The underlying problem here is that your government is bankrupt and the debt bubble is bursting, which is why they are justifying theft and taxes under the guise of social justice and whatever ’cause’ they can come up with, both real and imagined.
Sadly, the reality is that while your purchasing power is shrinking under the Fed’s lunatic QE program and ZIRP policy, median wages (unbelievably) haven’t budged since 2000 and since 2009 have actually begun to decline. Adjusted for population growth, we have zero net new jobs since 2000 and wages are falling. It is a fact that more businesses are now shutting down than starting up (death knell, my friends), that non-menial, non-temp, non-service jobs are practically non-existent, that Americans must work until April 29th this year just to service their taxes, that social programs, unholy wars and entitlement promises are unfunded to the tune of 220 trillion+ on the backs of your children, that our national debt has gone parabolic, that debt to GDP has crossed 100% (nobody cares or even knows what that means), that public employees have no problem whatsoever lavishly feeding off of the dwindling public trough and still complain, that students are over a trillion dollars in student debt (student slavery) and many are coming out with little or no actual skill set and a set of social/economic/political beliefs that are total nonsense, that government is a monstrosity that creates nothing and can be likened to a never-ending Dyson vacuum, sucking capacity, entrepreneurship and imagination out of the real economy.
You have to ask yourself, why do people vote the way they do, for the complete and total annihilation of the American economy, for capital controls and the loss of economic freedom, for the loss of privacy, free speech and the ability to create, produce and start a business? Have people lost their minds? Have people been brainwashed by Keynesian academics and the collectivist, state-sponsored media? Or is everybody really that stupid? Just curious 😉
I don’t know if this is purely an addict reality, as I have nothing to measure it against, but I can’t deny that the avenue to abundance lies in selfless action. In fact, worldly success or failure seems directly proportional to my degree of self-preoccupation. The greatest abundance in my life has materialized when I’m focused on service and attempting to be unselfish or useful to others, so there appears to be no direct avenue to worldly gain. There is only a by-product of gain from doing the right thing.
Perhaps this is because acting unselfishly runs so contrary to my previous character, and even to my current character to a lesser extent. But regardless of the mechanism, the more I focus on spiritual growth and helping others, the more abundance comes my way and vice versa. Whether direct or indirect, service is a recipe for inner peace and outer abundance whereas selfishness is a recipe for outer failure and inner chaos.
I suppose because addicts are the way they are. That is, because our sanity and well-being are directly tied to our moral character, it must be reciprocal. All of our success, whether spiritual, emotional, physical or financial, is somehow tied to our degree of selfishness, to the tenor of our actions, to the integrity of our character, and to the accuracy of our moral compass. Granted, the absolute law of cause and effect applies to everybody, but I’ve certainly seen a great many non-addicts succeed based on nothing but self-will. For addicts, though, and perhaps for everybody to some extent, the universe doesn’t reward us when we get too obsessed with ourselves.
And why should it be otherwise?
It makes perfect sense that the addict who has spent his or her whole life being so self-centered should have to be actively other-centered to receive abundance.
Full disclosure: I spend a great deal of time on business, research and work of different kinds… but it’s not so much a question of the fact that I’m working but rather how I’m doing it. What is my mindset? Self-gain or responsibility to family, etc.? As well, how do I spend my free time? Do I sit on the couch full of want and fantasy, full of self-worship or self-pity, full of ideas and ambition about where I’m going and why I’m not there yet? Or do I leave all of the self nonsense at home and just go be useful – to the world, to others, and most importantly, to God?
Fuller disclosure: I’m still plenty guilty of self-preoccupation, but when I snap out of it and the necessity of God and service comes to mind, I don’t ignore it. I just do what I have to do to be okay, and in doing so, I stay healthy enough to begin suffering when I become too focused on myself. Make sense?
God, help me to care more about my spiritual growth than personal ambition, that I may accept whatever comes my way and whatever goes, that I may accept Your will and live in peace…
All I know is that I took Steps wholeheartedly and was touched by the power of God one night and instantaneously I went from a full blown junkie/alcoholic who couldn’t stay sober for more than a few days for 15 years, to recovered and completely free from any thoughts or desires to drink or use whatsoever.
That was ten years ago and I still have utterly no desire to self-destruct on any level be it emotionally, mentally, spiritually or physically. And remember that an addict is literally defined by a constant need/desire to self-destruct. So the steps work, or rather, God works.
It’s more about catching fire, so to speak. If the addict’s moral pilot is properly lit, he won’t use again. If the addict suddenly wants God more than drugs and is convinced that he must take constant right action lest he go insane and lose his connection to God, the problem is solved.
All anyone has to do is to sincerely want to grow spiritually. Trust me, when a person really wants to change and get better, the universe will conspire to make that happen and bring him or her the necessary opportunities to grow.
So anybody can recover. Anybody. And thus there is no excuse for an addict/alcoholic not to recover because there is a solution. The only people on earth who may not be able to recover are pathological narcissists, or sociopaths.
Trust me, anybody who doesn’t recover just doesn’t want to. There is no such thing as I tried this or that and nothing works. Addicts continue to use and be addicts because they want to continue to use and be addicts. Same with alcoholics. Same with any other damaged individual. It’s that simple.
Regarding the title, by recovery we don’t mean that an addict has chosen to ingest methadone everyday. That is not recovery. That is an addict who still very much wants to be an addict. Same with any other addict who takes any other substitution drug. Sorry.
“Sorry I relapsed, guys, but it was the liquor store’s fault. If the liquor store wasn’t on my block, I never would’ve relapsed.”
“Sorry I stole your jewelry Mom and Dad, but it really wasn’t my fault. If you guys understood what it’s like to be me, I never would’ve become an addict and had to steal your shit.”
“Sorry I just blew all of our savings on heroin, baby, but it’s not my fault, it’s my addiction’s fault, and my addiction isn’t my fault, it’s my Dad’s fault because he gave me his genes.”
“Sorry I just drank and used like a pig all semester, Mom and Dad, but it’s not my fault, it’s the school. I don’t connect with anyone here. You shouldn’t have wasted your money on this stupid place.”
“Sorry I have to lie to you every time I go out, honey, but if you didn’t pry and nag so much then I wouldn’t have to.”
“Sorry I get drunk every time we go to your family’s house for dinner, but anybody would drink before going to your family’s place because they’re so freaking dull and uninteresting.”
“Sorry I got hammered right before my job presentation, but I have alcoholism and that’s one of the symptoms.”
“Sorry I totalled the car, Dad, and then called Mom a controlling, crazy bitch for no reason, but it was my depression’s fault, not my fault. Plus, my therapist said that I have a few other disorders and that they might actually be your fault, not mine. Cool?”
So what you’re saying is that NOTHING is your fault, right?
No offense, but as I become increasingly more inundated with wordly life (bills, work, kids, family, dog, tenants, taxes, maintenance), I’ve realized that self-help gurus and addicts who don’t ever leave treatment are essentially fraudulent, not that I’m not, but let me explain…
Sure the self-help ‘gurus’ are generally accurate about psychology, karma and our inner lives, and sure addicts who never leave treatment are sober and sort of okay, but here’s the thing:
Um, it’s easy to be calm and at peace when all you do is hang out at an oceanfront retreat ringing a meditation bell, sweeping leaves and writing books on how messed up everybody is and how you just need to let go, man. While I certainly resonate with Buddhist philosophy and psychology, does anyone not see the inherent selfishness in this? Don’t worry, Many Western traditions are guilty of this kind of isolation and idealism too.
Try joining the world and working a full-time job and then we’ll talk. Better yet, try serving in the world as well as serving the dust particles in the monastery, as no one can deny that balance between inner and outer is the way.
Same with addiction treatment. It’s easy to be okay if you never leave the womb-like bubble of treatment, but after a certain amount of time, remaining in treatment or working in treatment year after year can become a crutch. I am guilty of multiple crutches, too, so no need to get trigger-happy with the keyboard.
To truly grow, we must rejoin the world, face the challenges of adult life, put away the blanky and the stuffed animal collection at the treatment center. Trust me, if you want to get really strong in your recovery, come home, serve your family, serve your friends and colleagues, get a job, work hard, pay down debts, serve your region, try new things and jump in. Remaining protected and isolated at some treatment center is fine for a while, but will cripple you after too long.
Remember, we addicts and alcoholics want to do what is HARDER, NOT EASIER, as the harder thing is the better thing for people like us, and perhaps everybody. It is harder to come home and be there for our families. It is easy to remain in the cozy bubble of treatment. Whenever we get too comfortable, we need to get moving. That is the trick to growing and staying strong year after year. Never make a home in your comfort zone.
See also, Don’t Isolate