Letting Go

     Letting go is when I no longer care what others think of me. I no longer need the approval of my family. I no longer need approval of who I am, who I’m with, what I believe, what I’m thinking, what I do for work, etc. And I no longer need to preach to others because I am okay with myself.

     When we need to prove or preach something to others, the sad and rather unattractive truth is that we don’t entirely believe it ourselves. But if we are okay, inside and out, we don’t need to prove anything to anyone. We don’t need approval, validation, credit or recognition. 
     The day I let go was the day I stopped caring what other people thought about my life and what I was doing. It was the day I stopped needing for my friends in recovery to see all the stuff I was doing to help others. I didn’t need to show off, or need a pat on the back, or need smoke to be blown up my ass. And this is true peace – when you no longer need something outside of yourself to be okay.

    Letting go is also forgiveness. That’s why the process of writing a thorough inventory can truly save an addict’s life. Clearly understanding our resentments has the power to fix an addict for good. If we can successfully dissolve our anger and resentment then we can forgive, and when we can forgive, we are free. There is no more need to hurt self or others. That is peace. Ridding ourselves of resentment is crucial to the process of restoring ourselves to sanity. And sanity, of course, means no more addiction. Sanity means life. Enjoy it.

     Finally, it is important to understand that letting go is a process. We don’t just read it in a supermarket self-help book and wala, we’ve let go and our life magically gets better. Letting go is the result of hard work. As we continue to take Steps year after year, we step back one day to realize that we have let go. We are completely okay with the way things are. We are okay with life. We are free inside. We have recovered.

God, help me become willing to take actions that help me to let go…

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…

Want To Stop But Can’t

     As I stood, emaciated and dope-sick, staring into the broken bathroom mirror of the shithole real estate office I worked for, I finally wanted to change but had reached the point of no return. When you want to stop but can’t, that’s when you know you’re screwed. No hope, no will, no energy, no power… and worst of all, no solution. I’d already tried every imaginable remedy to get better and fix myself but failed miserably every time. I tried therapy, pills, relationships, traveling, jobs, herbs, homeopathy, self-help books, AA & NA meetings, and on and on.

     I drank and used for fifteen years until I was sick, spiritless, incoherent, numb and careless. My depression was so great that it wouldn’t let me go. It was like I had fallen in wet cement and woke up one day to find myself immovable. Officially unsalvagable.
     It was only because I was financially broke that I finally dragged myself to detox. Once physically sober, I decided to go up North, but that was mainly because my wife, mother, and some bitter social worker lady wouldn’t stop bitching at me. So to shut everyone up, I went. Perhaps I knew deep inside that if I walked out of detox, I was a dead man. Or maybe it was a simple case of divine intervention.
     It wasn’t long before my entire attitude changed. After meeting a recovered addict for the first time, I not only wanted to change, but for the first time in my life, I became willing to do anything it took to accomplish that. No thought, feeling, relationship, circumstance or life event was going to stop me, regardless of how dark or horrifying.
     So my advice to addicts is: At some point it will really help your cause if you WANT to change. I believe with all my heart that if we truly want to change and are willing to go to any lengths, the universe will conspire to bring us opportunities to make that happen. God is there for us… we just need to get over ourselves and then humbly and wholeheartedly ask Him for help.
     I was reading Proof of Heaven the other night and it amazed me that the same thought came into my head as I faced death. In 1996, after being hit by a drunk driver plowing the wrong way down the highway, I regained consciousness some two days later in the ICU unit at Mass General. I couldn’t move or see. I knew something was terribly wrong. After realizing my predicament, the first thought that went through my head was, God help me. I suppose the Big Book is right when it says that God or God-consciousness is simply fundamental to our make-up as human beings.

God, please teach me to let go of Self…

New Employer

     “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 little plans and designs. More and more we became interested in seeing what we could contribute to life.” -Alcoholics Anonymous, p.63

     Admittedly, it is very difficult to understand something that we haven’t gone through ourselves. Someone who has never felt the paralyzing effects of severe clinical depression will never truly understand it. They might think, Oh they’re just choosing not to get out of bed because they’re f’ing lazy. At the same time, someone with major depression is not doomed, nor do they require medication to lift their depression and function properly once again.

     It’s the same with addiction. People who are non-addicts cannot truly understand what it’s like to experience having ZERO power over drugs and alcohol. At the same time, they may not know what it’s like to have undergone a profound and fundamental change. It is a common perception that sober addicts will forever be teetering on the edge of relapse, forever fending off an undying desire to drink and use drugs. I’ve even been told by some guy at an AA meeting that if I could take a magic pill and be able to drink recreationally like a normal person, then I most certainly would. That was a guy who hasn’t had a spiritual experience.

     The above quote summarizes exactly what happened to me. Once I dropped this lifelong belief that it was only me out there and that I was the only power that could fix me, everything changed. Once we drop our arrogance, our pride and our ego, we become open. Thoroughly and fearlessly taking Steps removed the poison that kept me locked in the darkness, and once it was removed, there was room to let something else come in and fill the empty space.

     I get that it is hard to intellectualize this notion of letting go of my self will to instead be ‘directed’ by God’s will. But it is real and it is possible. Once I gave my whole self to this process, I finally understood what it meant. If we get out of our own way, something much greater and wiser and more powerful than us becomes our ‘driver’, so to speak. When we stop trying to direct and control our own lives, the result is nothing short of a miracle.

     And remarkable things indeed follow.

     Though I left treatment after having a white-light experience, I came home to a war zone of broken relationships, tens of thousands in debt, no job, and a still emaciated and broken body. But I continued the Step process and fought hard to build a new foundation based on spiritual principles. And I was provided with what I needed. And it’s true that we can become less and less interested in ourselves and our selfish needs, wants and desires. In fact, my favorite thing to do still 8 years later is to help others.

     Sure I am still the most selfish idiot that I know, but the point of this ridiculous post is that this DOES work. We can recover, grow new minds, heal our spirits, and never suffer from the thought or desire to drink or use drugs ever again.

God, keep me close to You today…

Tao Wisdom

Therefore the Master
acts without doing anything
and teaches without saying anything.
Things arise and she lets them come;
things disappear and she lets them go.
She has but doesn’t possess,
acts but doesn’t expect.
When her work is done, she forgets about it.
That is why it lasts forever.
-Tao Te Ching, passage 2

     Acting without doing anything means that we act with nothing attached to it. We act and do what’s right just for the sake of doing it. We don’t have ambition or selfish intention. We don’t try too hard or push and force. We just act without carrying all sorts of baggage. We act unemotionally and unconditionally. And we don’t act if we are affected.

     Teaching without saying anything means that we teach by example. All of that stuff we believe in and desperately want to preach to everybody, we don’t. Instead, we live it. And quietly.

     Letting things come and letting things go is the practice of non-resistance and non-attachment. We don’t fight against whatever arises in our lives, and we don’t hold on to whatever leaves us. And we do this because we don’t need to control everything. We have faith that things are the way they are supposed to be. We let whatever happens, happen. We have faith.

     Having but not possessing means that we don’t care about what we have. Sure we have things but it doesn’t matter to us. We can take them or leave them because we are okay inside. We are at peace. Possessing the things we have occurs when we are clenched, afraid, empty, and without purpose. We need to possess because we feel powerless. Without real power, we look for false power. Possessing is a false sense of power. It isn’t real.

     Acting without expecting is what altruism is. We do things such as helping others without expecting anything in return. We don’t act in order to feel a certain way, in order to appease ourselves or to clear our conscience. We act for the sake of acting.

     Forgetting about our work means that we don’t need, want or ask for a pat on the back afterwards. We don’t need to be seen. We don’t need recognition and praise for the things we do. We are perfectly willing to do our work quietly even if no one ever sees what we did. Needing an award for our work negates our work. Helping someone and then showing off afterwards erases the deed. Forgetting about our work ensures that its essence lasts forever because it hasn’t been tainted by our selfishness. Showing off is like pouring a slow-burning acid over our work. Over time, the work disintegrates and then disappears altogether. Nobody cares what we do when we show off about it.

     Achieve this and we are well on our way to enlightenment. I’ve been sober and taking Steps for more than 7 years now and I’m still miles and miles and miles away from this…

God, teach me to let go, not to attach, resist or expect, to let what comes come and what goes go…