Afraid to Love?

     Addicts are afraid to love… to love ourselves, to love others, to love life.

     Our attitude is, Why bother doing anything when we’re just gonna die some day, man? I mean who cares, bro, might as well just get drunk or high.

     By plying ourselves with drugs and alcohol, we ensure and perpetuate a life of emptiness and failure. By becoming addicts, we eliminate all possibility. We have effectively enslaved ourselves. When you’re an active addict, that’s all you are. There is nothing else. There is no life beyond drugs and alcohol. It’s pathetic. And now we don’t have to do anything, to create anything, to give anything, to love anything, to love anyone… because we can’t. We have let ourselves off the hook. There are no expectations for us for we have sunk to the bottom where we remain firmly rooted.

     If we are to love, we need to first become ready to love. How do we do this? We do this by working tirelessly on ourselves, by using the tools that we have been given in the Steps and in other practical sources of wisdom and knowledge to remove the emotional and spiritual sewerage within. We give everything, we surrender everything to this work. We give 100% of our hearts, minds and souls to this program, to spiritual growth, to God. We must give up everything we think we need to be okay.

     We have to let go.

     Trust me, we don’t need people, places or things to be okay. We simply have to want God more than drugs, and He will come. If you truly want to get better, if you truly want to change, the universe will conspire to make that happen.

     What are you waiting for? Start loving. Get better. Set things right. Have a family. Have children. Then you’ll see what love truly is, what miracles are, and how amazing it feels.

God, please give me the strength, courage and willingness to love…

Walk Right Into It

     “If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.” -Alcoholics Anonymous, pp.83-84

     I remember making an amends to an old boss, one of a long list of people whom I swore I’d forever avoid like the plague. I was bubbling over with shame, humiliation and disgrace after driving company trucks around jammed out of my skull, stealing pills from people’s homes we entered, selling drugs to other employees, and threatening my poor boss in an effort to extort thousands of dollars out of him. Walking into his office that day I could feel streams of sweat trickling down the back of my arms… and just to add some insult, the ass of my pants was soaked through as well. Nervous, shaking, heart-pounding and gut churning, I approached him and became accountable for my wrongs.
     This is how we change. This is how we turn from insecure, cowardly boys into strong, confident men. Recovering from drugs and alcohol is the process of growing up and becoming an adult. To do that, we have to first understand that suffering isn’t a novelty. Then we have to roll up our sleeves and do that which frightens us the most. We simply walk right into it. And we should also do so without announcing it to everyone we know or expecting a trophy afterwards.
   
     I also remembering waking up one day after years of non-stop action and realized, Holy shit, my life is incredible. It is full of blessings and miracles, loving friends and family, purpose and power. It’s not complicated, it just requires some actual work. Think of it as the new high. See how much fear and discomfort you can walk through. Challenge yourself. That’s what I did. And I HATE losing a challenge. I hate being a wimp.
     You see, because we addicts are dishonest phonies, we should generally be doing exactly what we don’t feel like doing. To get better, we must do the very things we fear. If we cannot fathom that, we aren’t cut out for the Steps. If we aren’t willing to follow our gut (conscience), then we should probably just start drinking and shooting dope again. And if we don’t even have a conscience, or if it doesn’t return once sober and engaging the steps, then drugs and alcohol are the least of our problems.
     Walking into fear dissipates cowardice, depression, self-pity, and fear itself. Again, this is how we get better. When we walk through tough feelings in order to do what is right, we grow. In fact, it is absolutely necessary to take action while suffering, while we are afraid and in pain. Only by having courage during tough times do we then get this relief and this peace within. God will reward us with serenity and give us more power to take even more action. As our conscience expands with each right action, we become a shield against spiritual poison. We begin to repel that which is wrong and destructive. That’s why addiction is most certainly a moral problem and why the solution is right action. 
     If we come to naturally repel what’s wrong, we have reacquired the power to stay sober. That is the name of the recovery game. That’s the trick to getting and staying better – caring about what we do, caring about the consequences of our actions. Without a conscience that is in tact, do you really expect methadone maintenance to work? Lol, please. Some of this stuff I read on other blogs is so backwards, I sometimes feel that there is little point to continue doing this. 
    At any rate, if it seems difficult to climb that mountain of fear and discomfort, that’s because it’s supposed to be. We don’t get to recover and have inner peace without some hard work. But when it seems impossible and when we cannot find the willingness and courage to walk into our fears, ASK for it. Sincerely ask God for willingness, strength, courage and power. If we ask for these things for a righteous and selfless cause, He will deliver them to us. Why wouldn’t He, for their is nothing more selfless and pure then wanting the power to get better so we may serve others and do God’s work.
God, be with me…

Resentment Inventory

     We write inventory to extract resentment, fear and sexual misconduct, which if left in the body will cause all sorts of damage, both spiritual and physical. Here we deal specifically with resentments, which block us from truly getting better, as they form a wall between us and God. But inventory is a miraculous tool and should be used by anyone seeking to grow and rid themselves of the various forms of spiritual poison.

     Before reading and using these instructions, please first read the post, Resentment.  

(See also Resentment Inventory Example afterwards for an example, as well as Fear Inventory, Sex InventoryMore InventoryHome Depot Inventory, Professor Masshole & Resenting Ourselves?.)

     So here are the instructions for writing resentment inventory:

     
     1) Write the name of the Person, Institution (place) or Principle (idea) that we resent. Just the name.
     
     2) Write the Specific Resentment we have towards that person, institution or principle. This could be what they did or said to us, what they did or said to someone else, or just some quality or trait that we resent.
     
     3) Write the parts of us that the resentment affects. Does it affect our  Pride (ego) or Ambition (desire), our Self-Esteem (self-worth), our Personal or Sexual Relationships, our Security (physical security/survival), or our Wallet/Pocketbook?
     
     4) Now the real work begins. In the fourth column of resentment inventory, we ask ourselves how we caused each specific resentment, because the truth is it had nothing to do with the other person, place or idea. This is where we discover our character defects, our maladjusted and unhealthy behavioral patterns that have caused us to become so spiritually ill, and caused others so much grief. This is the most important part of our inventory. If this 4th “column” isn’t done, than no real work has been accomplished. Today, many modern AA and NA workbooks and sponsors leave this column out completely… and that, needless to say, could be deadly.
         
     So in the 4th column, we ask ourselves how we were being: Self-Seeking, Selfish, Dishonest, and Fearful. Below are some guiding questions, but we should try to discover the deepest, most accurate answer for each of the following categories.
          
          Self-Seeking (i.e. Seeking a Self): How did we want to look or be seen by others, or by ourselves? Were we trying to be seen as a tough guy, a hero, a stud? Did we want to look smart, cool, strong, normal, successful, rich? How do we want to be seen by others? Addicts are VERY self-seeking – that is, they seek a self. We seek a self because the way we want to be seen is NOT the way we actually are. So usually when we want to be seen as tough, the truth is that we are a coward.
          
          Selfish: What did we want? What were we trying to get? What were we trying to keep or protect? What were we unable to see about the other person, about ourselves, or about the situation? We have to really DIG for this one. It is essential to find our selfishness in the resentment.
          
          Dishonest: How were we being dishonest? Did we or do we do the very thing we resent? Were we lying to ourselves or others about something? Were we avoiding some truth about ourselves, the other person, or a situation? Were we not being honest about how we felt? A good example is when we act nice when the truth is someone upset us. But instead of standing up for ourselves, we instead chose to act nice to avoid confrontation. This will cause a resentment… but you can see that it was our fault because we weren’t being honest about how we felt. Addicts tend to act dishonestly in many situations.
          
          Fear: What did or do we fear? What were we afraid of? Were we afraid of what the other person thought of us? Are we afraid of other people’s opinions of us? Are we afraid of rejection, failure, weakness, insecurity, cowardice? Are we afraid to be seen as weak, abnormal, mentally ill, insane, or a loser? So we ask ourselves what did we fear in the situation or prior to, that caused the resentment.

     It is so important to dig in with this process and find these answers, as it brings us clarity and understanding to the flawed ways we think and therefore act. Sure it may be that first answer that pops into your head, but it also may be something deeper or more subtle. We want the best answer, the most honest answer for each category.

     For example, when my wife is suffering and I’m trying to enjoy the football game or some other nonsense, I resent her (I know, pathetic). But part of why I resent her is my own self-seeking. I want to be seen as a perfect husband, so why on earth would she be suffering? And selfishly, I resent her because her suffering takes me out of my comfort zone and therefore I can’t enjoy the football game. 

    Or in some other circumstance, I want to look like a loving husband by doing something nice, but because she is suffering, she doesn’t notice, and therefore I resent her. 

     Many resentments are born from expectation, which fall under the dishonest category. Often the truth is that we expect someone to respond a certain way and when they don’t, we cop a resentment. Very selfish. In the instance of my wife, I expected her to praise me for all I’ve done and when not only she doesn’t, but she simultaneously has a problem with me about some other thing, I resent her. The resentment is actually my fault because I was expecting a different response from her. 

     Remember, when we don’t get what we want from others, we resent. And to avoid seeing the truth of our expectation and to avoid taking responsibility, we retaliate like children. That is just one of many character flaws to be identified… and eventually exorcised from our being through Steps 5, 6 and 7.

     Also to note, sometimes we exhibit our selfishness or dishonesty well after the event, like if someone abuses us but we lash out at others down the road who had nothing to do with the abuse. 

     It’s this type of searching that we must engage in to find our deepest truth. It’s this type of painstaking focus that we find purity in our work, and thus the greatest rewards – the rewards of change. So don’t be afraid, pray if you are stuck, and always remember that in every resentment, we were somehow selfish, self-seeking, dishonest or afraid, whether before, during, or after.

      Good luck… and check out the link below. 

12 & 12 – Step Four – Insight

God, help me to see those things that block me from You and Others…

Feelings, Fear & Insecurity

     One of wisest things I’ve ever heard: Don’t let your feelings stop you.

     I spent the first 28 years of my life crippled by fear. And the only way to conquer fear is to literally walk right into it… and then right through it. Do the very things we fear. If we fear public speaking, speak publicly. If we fear intimacy, be intimate. If we fear what we have done to someone in the past, find that person and make a direct amends to him or her.

     By the way, if you want to grow up in lightening speed, go make some amends. Coming out of a tough amends to someone, I was a different person than going in. To walk right into shame, to feel that sort of humility, to sweat through the ass of my pants from nervousness, to speak honestly about how I’ve wronged you… this will change anybody, unless of course, you are a sociopath and lack the capacity to be honest. In that case, there isn’t much hope. We all know these types, and usually it’s impossible for them to get better. But anyone who can be honest with themselves can change, heal, grow and recover.

     The moment I begin to avoid fear, avoid making an amends, avoid what I know will feel uncomfortable but is the right thing to do… that is the very moment I begin to suffer, become sicker, and sink back into a well of self-pity and cowardice.

     My feelings of self-consciousness and insecurity used to be so strong, they paralyzed me. I didn’t have the guts to face the world, to do what I needed to do. But the moment I begin to push myself and do what I need to do regardless of how shitty I feel, that’s when I start getting better. Do what you fear and that which you fear loses power. It becomes easier and easier. Now I run, not walk towards any opportunity to speak publicly if it might help or inspire people. I’ve actually come to enjoy it. The bigger the crowd, the better.

     Here is some magic. Have you ever had a nasty cold or something and then had to teach, speak, lead, or be of some service to others? What happens when you start giving of yourself? I had the flu last winter and I had to guest speak at a Twelve Step group late in the evening. The second I opened my mouth, the flu was gone… and gone it stayed until I was driving home. Magic.

God, please give me the courage and power to walk right into my fear…