Am I Wasting My Time? Will this Pain Ever End?

  

Comment

Hi,

      I’m a therapist and work with addicts. What brought me to this population, as I was previously wanting to work with couples and marriages, was the failure of my own relationship with an alcoholic. I have never in my life been through so much pain before. We were together … years; he was sober most of the time. He was going to meetings; sponsor; etc. I moved in and we got married… months after we married he relapsed and kicked me out. He had started taking adderall and I knew a relapse was around the corner. [That’s] when he decided he wanted me gone; He became horribly
mean; calling me vile names and telling me he didn’t love me or want me anymore. This was a year ago… It killed my entire family. 

I found out later he relapsed. I have done much research and I still can’t come to peace with this. He immediately got on dating sites and acted like it was the most natural thing in the world. I moved out and picked up the pieces of my life. He has called me … times in this period wanting me back; in between arrest charges for battery (domestic violence); dui; etc. He is a… and after losing one job; he was able to get another one even with pending charges due and making more money than before. He has always had things work out for him. He called me a month ago and wanted me back again. This time he kept slipping up calling me another woman’s name. I asked who she was; he said my wife. I fell into shock. He had met someone and already married in that short period but was calling me telling me she was a mistake and wanted me back. I have blocked his number.

     I googled “why do addicts hurt people” and found this site. I ordered both of your books. After reading all of this; I am wanting to send him an email and telling him how fucked it was for him to hurt me and my family that way; how wrong and selfish he is. I feel like I never stood up to him; I lost my voice. Am I wasting my time? Will this pain ever end? He has hurt me over and offer again.

Response:

Dear …,

     I’m grateful to you for reaching out and sharing with me so honestly. As well, thank you for reading the blog and ordering the books. I hope more than anything that you find them even moderately useful. My goal was to illuminate the mind of an addict, the true nature of addiction, and thus recovery. As addiction is very much a symptom of an underlying spiritual problem (and lack of purpose – it has nothing to do with anything outside of the addict such as his family life, mom, dad, town, job, etc. no person, place or thing is to blame), the behavior and character of an addict must be addressed if he is to have any chance of real change. The addict/alcoholic becomes a cauldron of emotional poison and spiritual destitution, and yet today, we have reduced addiction down to a blameless neurochemical disease.

      Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, achieving physical sobriety does nothing to change the mind and heart of an addict, to restore him to sanity, to remove his obsession (recurring thoughts to use that do not respond to ration and reason) and to cure what ails him spiritually. As you will learn, I took Steps to recover and it was through consistent right/moral action and service that I dissolved my preoccupation with self and became more other-centered, which is the solution for addiction – service, humility, rigorous honesty etc. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a wise-ass with a plethora of issues, but the obsession is gone. Drugs and alcohol are no longer a problem. The new-age ‘you’re f’ed for life’ disease model fails to explain this. It fails to explain recovered people who are now glowing and filled to the brim with a new sense of purpose and strength. It fails to explain spontaneous recovery as well as action-based bio-chemical change over time.


      At any rate, I can all but guarantee you that writing will do zero to change him in any way. That said, there is nothing wrong with getting some honest feelings off of your chest, especially if it will help you to let go. There is only peace to be found in letting go, and of course, this must occur (internally) regardless of whether he ever changes or makes an honest amends (a ‘living amends’, meaning that he changes as a person and begins to act right each and every day towards the people in his life).


     The problem with an addiction is that addiction is the addict’s “solution” and thus comes first about all else, and we will do anything it takes to maintain our comfort, even if that means ripping your heart out. Truly, the addict is backwards, so what may work to help others will do nothing for an addict. Therapy, pills, group, role play, relapse prevention, the identification and avoidance of triggers (which don’t actually exist), harm reduction, meetings, beliefs, self-knowledge, analyzing the past, coming up with reasons (which also don’t exist)… all of it is basically useless in treating the addict. He must undergo a fundamental psychic change whereby guiding principles, attitudes and beliefs that have driven him for years are suddenly cast aside and a new set of spiritual principles begins to dominate. As well, often it is only another addict who can instill confidence as opposed to a doctor, therapist or family member.

      Addicts are also difficult to treat because they can become somewhat sociopathic over time, as the conscience shrivels up and becomes practically non-existent. The addict is a pathological liar and master manipulator, similar to a narcissist (though different in the sense that many maintain at least the capacity to become honest once again whereas narcissists are proud, ego-driven monsters who never change or assume any responsibility.) But the point is that there is no in-between. The millions of addicts people think of as “in recovery” are merely sober but still very ill. The difference between an untreated addict and a recovered person is vast. Recovered people glow – they are honest, they are somewhat humbled, they help others, they are loving. You can just tell that they are okay. They are different people.
 

     So…, God bless you. I will pray hard tonight for you and your family, and for him as well. As far as the pain goes, YES, it will go away. Of course, if someone continues engaging in a toxic relationship, the pain will not subside any time soon. In other words, the pain will subside sooner if the boundary you put around sick people is firm, and that often means zero communication. As long as we have feelings attached to someone, we continue the relationship internally, so to mitigate the emotional charge, I personally believe that very strong boundaries are called for. Don’t take any shit…

      Addicts will ride the train of bullshit as long as possible, so it is good for others to tell them the truth, what they’ve done, what they don’t want to hear. Sure it may not fix them, but at least you are not enabling the heaping pile of BS and the delusional thinking.

Fondly,

Charlie

"Subtance Abuse Disorder"

“The process of losing choice is a choice.”  The Privileged Addict
    

     “Substance abuse disorder”? Lol.

     A friend of mine just texted me to share how tremendously relieved he was to know that he was in no way a selfish, dope fiend alcoholic, but just a sweet little boy with a “substance abuse disorder”. I wrote back at once to further reassure him.

     “Ya bro, you didn’t know?! It’s not your fault, man… you just happened to catch a ‘substance abuse disorder’ as it was flying through the air.”

     Again, he was relieved.

     “Oh that’s great. A disorder doesn’t sound so bad.”

     “Exactly, dude. And don’t forget that relapse is part of recovery, bro!”

     I understand that we want to minimize addiction, especially when it’s your loved one. Sure you would rather call your child someone with a “substance abuse disorder” as opposed to an emaciated, toothless, STD-ridden junkbox. Sure you would rather say that your child has an illness when in fact he or she is a thief who is robbing your jewelry or a liar who is pretending to come to dinner and plea for 20 bucks for organic kale or a bus ticket to the micro-aggression/safe space rally in Times Square.

     I understand.

      But that doesn’t change the fact that addicts do not innocently catch “substance abuse disorders” in the air. First of all, no need to minimize addiction by regurgitating psycho-babble DSM bullshit. We are addicts. Period. Second, we put a hell of a lot of time and effort into becoming addicts. We didn’t just wake up one day while cuddling our stuffed giraffe and suddenly we are some full blown meth junkie. Sorry, nope.

     We mutated ourselves into addicts via a series of selfish acts. It’s very simple. And if becoming an addict is the result of a series of selfish acts, than recovering from addiction results from a series of unselfish acts. And if our problem is spiritual in nature than so must be our solution. It’s very simple. You don’t need a Harvard-trained psychiatrist and the DSM-V to figure it out. Trust me. Addicts who don’t get better simply do not want to change. When they do, the solution will find them.

     P.S. When I say solution, I don’t mean 4 methadone wafers everyday until you are drooling on the couch with Kool-Aid dripping from your chin and half-chewed Twizzlers stuck to your t-shirt. That’s not a solution. Sorry to offend the makers of Kool-Aid and Twizzlers, but I might as well go for it before free speech is a thing of the distant past. Trust me, it is happening… right along side the economic/social decline and the loss of confidence in government. Collectivism is collapsing my friends, but I suppose that is a somewhat different topic for a somewhat different forum.

*P.S.S. Some new opportunities have materialized for us to expand our real estate business, and since that is the endeavor that actually pays, I will not have time to open up TPA counseling again. Apologies. However, I will soon be moving everything over to a new, beautiful Privileged Addict website, where you will be able to go for blogs, future vlogs, discussion, books, everything. I will try to connect everything with the social media as well so you can share this stuff more easily. Together, we can remove the bullshit from addiction and the sugar-coated nonsense from status quo recovery. Help me do this. I need you.

Don’t Let Your Sponsee Whine

Don’t let your sponsee whine. He is not a child anymore.

 
     Talking is NOT a solution.    

     I once had a sponsee who was sort of a microcosm of the modern, fuffy (toothless) sponsor/sponsee relationship. That is, he considered sponsorship to be an opportunity to engage in all-out, daily woe-dumping sessions. It was really just free ‘pity pot’ therapy, but with the sponsor you don’t have to pay for your friend. He was ultimately shocked and heartbroken by the ruthless, coldhearted notion thought that I didn’t want to pick up the phone at all hours of the day and night and endure endless whining and complaining about every minor discomfort and disappointment known to mankind.

     Huh?

     Sorry, but how is a sponsor doing a sponsee a favor by allowing him to think that his feelings are important or have any relevance to him getting better? I’ve written at length about how the new-age therapeutic model of hyper self-focus is precisely what the addict doesn’t need. What makes an addict an addict is his or her delusional and destructive belief that their suffering is somehow unique from the rest of the human race, that our feelings are OH SO important. Therapy perpetuates the isolation of an addict by validating and empowering our warped and over-inflated sense of self. Therapy actually perpetuates addiction.

     It is precisely this mainstream, ‘every kid gets a trophy and a hug’ approach that is keeping addicts sick. Needless to say, addicts are not children and do not need trophies anymore. 

     Instead, we need to be told that our feelings and thoughts really don’t matter, because they don’t. Nor do they have much to do with getting better. The trick is actually to stop focusing on oneself so much and stop talking so much. As a sponsor, it is a complete disservice to give you a platform to flood about your life. As an addict who has failed endlessly and finally succeeded, let me tell you that the trick is to do quite the opposite: shut up and walk through it. All of it. Then watch it dissipate and lose power over you as you become a strong, mature, responsible adult.

     Sorry, but addicts are not hopeless zombies that need to be medicated. We are not screwed forever. Anybody can recover. Those who don’t, won’t. Think about that and compare it to what the clinician told you about our so-called ‘disease’ and how we need to be medicated for life. Nonsense. That is just pharmaceutical propaganda designed to lure doctors and addicts to stop working and get subsidized.

     But hey, I guess this is what you we’ve been reduced to in the whiny, entitled, everything is offensive, micro-aggressions actually exist (lol), you’re violating my safe space, nanny state of America 😉 Why worry about pulling the cart when you are now actively encouraged to jump in it? In fact, why worry about doing anything as success and work are now punished, while failure and insecurity are now rewarded? Care to take a stab at why this message is now being pumped so profusely? The answer is as obvious as the truth about the message.

     PS I’ve decided that I am now offended by my own post for discriminating against being offended, which is not only offensive, but quite frankly traumatizing. I’m traumatized. It may take me a while to recover from myself, especially since I can’t kick my own self out of my safe space. Advice? And then what happens when I’m appalled by being appalled?  

Hand of God

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HAND OF GOD
The Privileged Addict, Copyright 2012

     It was the middle of a moonlit night in the chapel up North. My body told me when I was finished meditating. I sat down for a few minutes. A feeling of certainty calmed me. I was ready. I knelt down on my knees and opened up the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous to page 76 and read the 7th Step prayer out loud.
     “My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen.” Alcoholics Anonymous, 76.
     As I finished reading the prayer, an unexplainable miracle occurred. The instant I was done, something rushed through my body. Something wonderful. I laughed and cried simultaneously. It was strange. Some force immediately took over my body and mind, controlling me for some time. Then a volcanic feeling of relief and rapture pervaded my entire being. I remember thinking, Holy shit. It worked! I felt it in every cell.

     I stood up and walked into the main room. I felt as light as air. From somewhere up in the Universe came a rush of energy. At first it was a surge… then a steady flow of God rushed through me, entering through the top of my head and flowing down through my feet and back out. I was emptied out. My mind was clear for the first time in my entire life. Totally, utterly, empty.
     Then a second miracle occurred. I suddenly had full control over my mind. I could choose to think or not to think, but I had the choice. It was pure and absolute freedom. A telephone line had been activated between me and God, and in that moment I knew with certainty that I could tap into this Universal Power at any time. I realized that I had just tapped into Power.
     Then a third miracle occurred as I experienced a total absence of fear. All fear just gone. It was unbelievable. Deep inside, I knew I would be okay from that point on. There was nothing fear could ever again stop me from doing. There was no problem anymore. Something had shifted. For the next several days, I entered a prolonged state of calm and inner peace. I was reborn. Since those moments up North, I’ve felt exponentially better than I ever did high on drugs or alcohol.
     What occurred that night was an intense spiritual experience. The mental obsession was lifted from my broken mind. Before, my shoulders were hunched over from the heavy load of resentments and grief that I carried around with me. But suddenly, I stood straight up, shoulders cocked backed, eyes and face aglow. A limitless and mind-blowing power brushed me for a brief moment. And so I was restored to sanity.
     I was touched by the hand of God that night and it was no hallucination. No human thing is responsible for what I felt, for what flowed into me, for what changed me. I refuse to take any responsibility for what happened and I am so grateful and humbled by that. From then on, I have been willing to do anything it takes to get better, to stay better, and to grow spiritually.
     I walked out of the chapel and entered what felt like a different realm. Fog hovered over the grass, deflecting beams of light in every direction. Everything was vibrant. The earth was breathing. I was alive. Away I went to fall sound asleep.
     In the morning, something was fundamentally different. I needed less and didn’t think about myself as much. I wanted to help others and be useful. I wanted other people to have what I had.
     People noticed what happened. No one could ignore it. The change in the way I looked and in my mental state and attitude could not be mistaken. And it happened to all of us who sought out a spiritual experience. We were taken over and glowing from Spirit within. Truly amazing.” – The Privileged Addict, pp.139-141

Thank you all for reading. I am so grateful. May God bless you and comfort you…

Anybody Can Take Steps, Chp. 3

Anybody Can Take Steps (Copyright, 2015), pp.45-55:
(Also see Chapters 1 & 2
*
STEP 3
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
    
     Sounds great, but how exactly do I turn myself over to God? What does that even mean? For now, let us consider this Step to be a vow – a promise to ourselves, to others and to our Higher Power to grow along spiritual lines and to repel anything that prevents us from doing so. On a practical level, we are vowing to cultivate and expand our conscience, and then never to ignore it. As well, we are not going to consciously erect any walls between us and our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health.

     For addicts and alcoholics, when we remove substances and begin taking right action, we should experience the return of our conscience – that feeling in our gut which tells us if something is right or wrong – and our new job is to listen. For some, this will become an entirely new purpose in life. If my gut tells me something is right, I can no longer ignore the message but must gather the courage to act, and if I have no courage, I pray for it. If courage does not immediately come and I continue to be filled with fear or reluctance, I have to push myself to walk through it and act, knowing that if I do not, bad things will happen. When we fail to act on our conscience, we gradually lose our spiritual connection and become ill again.
     On the other hand, if my gut tells me that something is wrong, I refuse and repel such a thing at all costs, and again, I pray for the willingness and power. I refuse to act, speak or even think in a way that is harmful to self or others. If I see wrongdoing around me, I do not selfishly remain in my comfort zone, but instead speak up and do the right thing. By diligently obeying our conscience, we nourish it like a tree. Soon it becomes rooted and grows taller. The roots spread, its foundation becomes more secure and the wind cannot blow it over. Our tree grows fuller and more beautiful as the light inside of us shines brighter. Following our conscience is the way to recovery, as it heals the soul of a person. With each right action, we draw closer to God.
     Turning our will over to God also means that we don’t rush around forcing our will, trying to control everything and everyone. Sure we continue to get up, go to work and do what we can, but we let go of the outcome and how that will look. As human beings, we often feel as though we must manipulate the world around us. If something veers even slightly off course to the way we envisioned it, we hurl ourselves in, aggressively trying to steer the ship in the direction we see fit. In trying to force certain outcomes, we amass countless expectations, expectations that are never quite met to our standards, thus ensuring we suffer constant disappointment. Turning our will over to God means that we stop trying to dictate what is happening, both inside and out. If things happen the way we want, great, but if they don’t, also great. We accept the outcome. We stay in the moment and leave the rest to God.
     It’s easy to get confused and frustrated while trying to figure everything out on our own. Slogans such as ‘Think Through the Drink’or the CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) model of thinking through a situation make no sense when you are incapable of thinking properly through anything! One way to get through tough and chaotic times is to simply STOP. Stop right in your tracks. Stop trying to think. Stop freaking out about what to do. Step back and get quiet for a moment. Pray. The prayer can be simple, such as “God be with me” or “Thy will be done.” I like to pray in my own language, as I would talk to myself or to a friend. “God, please keep me out of my head right now.” “God, help me to let go and have patience with my boss.” After praying, we simply continue moving forward, but we have now come back to the present moment, letting the details and the future work themselves out. Human beings like to play God, as if we can do that, as if we are that powerful… but playing God is a fool’s game. Do what you can and then get out of the way.
     Another strategy is to put the more complicated tasks aside for a while and engage in a more simple or menial activity like cleaning, organizing, walking or exercising. Simple activities can take us out of our racing mind and ground us with haste. When I came home from treatment years ago, I somehow procured a cooking job at a local assisted living center for about 150 residents, despite having no experience whatsoever. This involved running around a kitchen for eight hours straight – mixing this, whipping that, throwing together soups, entrees, appetizers, deserts, you name it. I loved it because for those eight hours, not a single thought went through my head. No thinking about the world, the past, the future or any other illusory, self-made problem. The mental relief alone was worth the shitty paychecks and the menial, dead-end labor.
     Simple activities and hard work can effect wonders as a meditative tool. Try it, and don’t think of it as punitive. Next time you are all wound up, go outside and start landscaping your yard or working on your house. If you rent, try cleaning and organizing, or just going for a walk or a jog. And if you don’t feel any immediate relief, don’t worry about it. You did it. You took action, and that alone is positive and can shift your direction. That alone will serve you in some way. Just keep moving forward and don’t let your feelings stop you. Ask God to dissolve your resistance. Continue doing productive things and taking more and more action. Most importantly, don’t give up. Trust me, in time it will make you stronger.
     Finally, one simple way to stop thinking and redirect self-will is to simply do what’s right in front of us. If you think about it literally, there is no such thing as the past or the future, so why go there? When we project ourselves into the illusion of the past or the future, we are imagining things and thus not really living. We are stuck in our heads as opposed to living in the present reality, so stay out of lala land and instead put one foot in front of the other. For instance, all I’m doing right now is writing this book. That’s all I need to do, so I’m not going to worry about anything else. After I’m done writing, I’ll do what comes next, which is to go make breakfast. Then I’ll take the dog out. On and on, moment by moment, we move through the day with relative ease, in peace rather than chaos. Being where our feet are right now without constantly wandering off somewhere mentally = freedom. Try it.
     Cause and effect. This is a central idea behind not only this 3rd Step, but the entire process. We are to smash into our heads the certainty of the law of cause and effect, and not only its universality, but its reciprocity as well. We have been taught in school that Newton’s 3rd law of motion (for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction) occurs on the physical plane, but that is only partially true. Contemplate this law crossing all realms and holding true on the mental and spiritual planes as well. Everything we do, say and think will have an effect in kind. If we have committed some wrong, even if we make it right, rest assured, it will come back to bite us in some way. Just a simple and seemingly harmless negative thought will have an effect on self. Perhaps it comes back to us emotionally, as we begin to suffer or start feeling depressed. We must start believing that there is no acting, speaking, or even thinking in a vacuum. There is no anything in a vacuum. So we must deal with all we have done, but try not to let it bother you, as escaping consequence is no privilege. Consequences help us to evolve, grow stronger and build character, contrary to popular belief. Cause and effect is a blessing, not a curse.
     This attitude is our foundation for life, or as the Big Book says, our “design for living”. If we do this work, our conscience will return and we will suddenly care about what we are doing. That’s all there is to it. That’s the secret. Caring about the consequences of our actions drives us to always do the right thing. Let’s look at the 3rd Step prayer and see how it breaks down.
     “God, I offer myself to Thee – to build with me and do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of Life.” -Alcoholics Anonymous, p.63
     “God, I offer myself to Thee – to build with me and do with me as Thou wilt.” Offering ourselves to God can be equated with letting go, another concept that sounds wonderful, but how exactly does one do that? Self-help books frequently talk about the almost euphoric release and inner peace that can be achieved by letting go, but where is the instruction manual? For some, the concept alone is confusing. What does ‘letting go’ even mean?…
*To read more, click on the link at the top of the post or purchase the book here on Amazon

‘How It Works’

 

From How It Works, Alcoholics Anonymous, pp.58-63:

     “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.

     Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it — then you are ready to take certain steps.
     At some of these we balked. thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.
     Remember that we deal with alcohol — cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power — that One is God. May you find Him now!
     Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. we asked His protection and care with complete abandon.

      Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery:
     1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.
     2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
     3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
     4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
     5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
     6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
     7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
     8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
     9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
     10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
     11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
     12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
     Many of us exclaimed, “What an order! I can’t go through with it.” Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.
     Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventure before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:
     a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
     b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.
     c) That God could and would if He were sought.
     Being convinced, we were at Step Three, which is that we decided to turn our will and our life over to God as we understood Him. Just what do we mean by that, and just what do we do?
     The first requirement is that we be convinced that any life run on self-will can hardly be a success. On that basis we are almost always in collision with something or somebody, even though our motives are good. Most people try to live by self-propulsion. Each person is like an actor who wants to run the whole show; is forever trying to arrange the lights, the ballet, the scenery and the rest of the players in his own way. If his arrangements would only stay put, if only people would do as he wished, the show would be great. Everybody, including himself, would be pleased. Life would be wonderful. In trying to make these arrangements our actor may sometimes be quite virtuous. He may be kind, considerate, patient, generous; even modest and self- sacrificing. On the other hand, he may be mean, egotistical, selfish and dishonest. But, as with most humans, he is more likely to have varied traits.
     What usually happens? The show doesn’t come off very well. He begins to think life doesn’t treat him right. He decides to exert himself more. He becomes, on the next occasion, still more demanding or gracious, as the case may be. Still the play does not suit him. Admitting he may be somewhat at fault, he is sure that other people are more to blame. He becomes angry, indignant, self-pitying. What is his basic trouble? Is he not really a self-seeker even when trying to be kind? Is he not a victim of the delusion that he can wrest satisfaction and happiness out of this world if he only manages well? Is it not evident to all the rest of the players that these are the things he wants? And do not his actions make each of them wish to retaliate, snatching all they can get out of the show? Is he not, even in his best moments, a producer of confusion rather than harmony?
     Our actor is self-centered — ego-centric, as people like to call it nowadays. He is like the retired business man who lolls in the Florida sunshine in the winter complaining of the sad state of the nation; the minister who sighs over the sins of the twentieth century; politicians and reformers who are sure all would be Utopia if the rest of the world would only behave; the outlaw safe cracker who thinks society has wronged him; and the alcoholic who has lost all and is locked up. Whatever our protestations, are not most of us concerned with ourselves, our resentments, or our self-pity?
     Selfishness — self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. Sometimes they hurt us, seemingly without provocation, but we invariably find that at some time in the past we have made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt.
     So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn’t think so. Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kill us! God makes that possible. And there often seems no way of entirely getting rid of self without His aid. Many of us had moral and philosophical convictions galore, but we could not live up to them even though we would have liked to. Neither could we reduce our self-centeredness much by wishing or trying on our own power. We had to have God’s help.
     This is the how and the why of it. First of all, we had to quit playing God. It didn’t work. Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director. He is the Principal; we are His agents. He is the Father, and we are His children. Most Good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom. When we sincerely took such a position, all sorts of remarkable things followed. We had a new Employer. Being all powerful, He provided what we needed, if we kept close to Him and performed His work well. Established on such a footing we became less and less interested in ourselves, our own little plans and designs. More and more we became interested in seeing what we could contribute to life. As we felt new power flow in, as we enjoyed peace of mind, as we discovered we could face life successfully, as we became conscious of His presence, we began to lose our fear of today, tomorrow or the hereafter. We were reborn.
     We were now at Step Three. Many of us said to our Maker, as we Understood Him: “God, I offer myself to Thee — to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!” We thought well before taking this step making sure we were ready; that we could at last abandon ourselves utterly to Him. – Alcoholic Anonymous, pp.58-63

Do You Know God or Have God?

     For sure, there is a difference between knowing God and having God. To know God we simply have to believe, read some doctrine, or perhaps drop by Sunday service and potluck. But to have God we have to perform. We have to take actions that bring God into us and expand His actual presence.

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     If alcoholics and addicts have the capacity to be honest with themselves, they have the seed of God within. And because a seed that is nourished can grow forever, there is no limit to our spiritual growth. There is no limit to how much we can change and heal and thrive and give back. We must simply find the willingness to turn our inner seed into a fountain of strength.

     For willingness, we pray. Two of my favorites are ‘God, make me a better man today‘ & ‘God, bring the opportunity to help someone.’ I have no idea if the first one ever comes true. But the second one always does. There are always people to help.
     
     I’d like to think that the seed of God is in all of us. Someone once likened this seed to a ball of brass. Perhaps it is dull, worn, small, and has lost its glow. Yet when we polish it and shed the layers of resentment, fear, selfishness and dishonesty, gradually it becomes brighter and brighter. It begins to glow once again. It begins to grow. Our conscience expands, and we become acutely aware of what is right and what is wrong. So my job is to make sure I continue to polish my God brass on a regular basis so that it never becomes dull or loses its shine. 

God, teach me to have You, not just to know You. Help me to grow spiritually, that my God brass may shine within…