You Will Not Fail

     “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. There are those, too, with grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.”
– Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 58

     So trust in God, do the right thing, follow your heart…
     And you will not fail.

God, teach me how to properly love and accept myself so that I may better love and accept others and do Your work well…

God, help me to let go of my fear, anger and resentment, that I may embrace Your principles of love, patience, compassion and courage…

God, give me the power and the willingness to do anything it takes to grow spiritually…

God, help me to become more honest…

God, please bring me the opportunity to help others…

God, make me a better person today…

God, keep me close to You today…

God, please help us all to heal ourselves and find our way to You…

God, take our will and make it Your own…


     If we are serious about our recovery and about growing, then we don’t want to put up any walls, even thin ones, between us and spiritual health/freedom. That means we don’t mess with anything. That means we don’t take Tylenol PM, Sudafed, or any mood or mind-altering substance whatsoever, regardless of how subtle. That means we don’t take prescribed painkillers during or after surgery. Why, knowing that our bodies are permanently damaged, knowing that the allergy we have crosses all lines, and knowing that ANY mood-altering substance will set this allergy off, would we screw with anything? Plus, if we wuss out after getting a tooth pulled or some other nonsense, then we really can’t be much of an example to anyone we might help or sponsor now, can we?

     But whatever we do or don’t do, the most important thing is intent. Is our intent in taking something to feel good, to feel different? If it is, even to the slightest degree, then it is of ill intent, it is wrong, it is dangerous, and by taking it you have without question relapsed. And remember, lying to ourselves is basically equivalent to relapsing as well, so we must be sure that we truly know our intent. Are we deceiving ourselves, thinking or believing our intent is pure when it may not be? Remembering that we are warped, isn’t it better just not to mess with anything at all?

     For the record, you can have surgery without taking narcotics like a baby. I’ve had an abdominal surgery and a wrist surgery (that included a nerve block procedure) without any pain meds whatsoever. Sure it hurt like hell, but it’s possible, and I’m not willing to lose what I have now. We have to ask ourselves, how serious are we about our addiction, our recovery, our spiritual health? How serious are we about about living it, about setting an example for others? How serious are we about our lives, about getting closer to God? Shouldn’t we be making choices and living in a way that we would recommend for all others, especially for other suffering addicts? So if we get sober and really want to change, then we will abstain from any and all mood-altering drugs, even during and after surgery.

     To note, for major surgeries, such as my abdominal surgery, it is necessary to be unconscious. However, that procedure is non-narcotic and has no affect on the dopaminergic (reward) system of the brain or central nervous system.

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…

Any Lengths?

     “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.” -Alcoholics Anonymous, p.58

     Sad that this paragraph from the Big Book has become a common preamble in AA meetings. Why? Because its rote recitation further diminishes its meaning and interpretation… and therefore its implementation.
     We “disclose our stories in a general way…” Really? Because the laundry list of war stories and sob stories I hear spewed out so often doesn’t sound too general – “I did this, and I did that, and can you believe I did this, and could you believe I did that! Man, I used to drink a 30-pack a night!” I never heard general anything when I used to go to meetings, unless by general we refer to a lack of sophistication and understanding of one’s problem and what to do about it (i.e. a really dull, general story that is generally incoherent and has zero usefulness). I never heard a summary of the alcoholic mind and body… what it means to think, feel and drink/use the way we do.
     I also never heard the “what happened” part because nothing did happen. There was no summation of recovery or the process underwent to achieve it. And “what we are like now” was for the most part frightening. “If you have decided you want what we have…” Question: Have you ever gone to an AA meeting and seen something that you wanted? I guess I should ask what we want? Mere physical sobriety? I’m all set. I want to be strong, centered, grounded, balanced, confident, calm, content and free. I want to be giving and useful and loving. I want to be sane again.
     “… are willing to go to any length to get it – then you are ready to take certain steps.” When we hear this in meetings, unless we have been taken through the Big Book by a recovered expert, then we undoubtedly won’t have a clue what this really means. Ready to take certain steps does not mean that you make some meeting your home group, become the treasurer, make coffee, set up chairs and just keep comin’.
     Taking certain steps means that we embark on a rigorous Twelve Step process – we get up, leave the meeting, and actually take the actions involved in the Steps to expel a lifetime of poison within. We change who and what we are. We restore ourselves to sanity via a spiritual experience in order to equip ourselves with the tools and the condition necessary to go help others. The point of the Twelve Steps is solely to get to that Twelfth step – to go out and help another alcoholic/addict recover by taking him through the same, mystical process we just went through.
     So “willing to go to any length” means that there is nothing we won’t do in order to become recovered. There is nothing we won’t write about in our inventory. There is nothing we won’t unearth or admit because of the shame or embarrassment we have. There is nobody we won’t make an amends to. There is no part of us – our stubbornness, our pride, our ego – which will prevent us from having faith in GOD and from believing that we cannot do it without His help.
     Willing to go to any length means that there is no feeling or thought, no matter how horrible or dark or powerful, which will prevent us from doing the right thing. Going to any length means that even if you have recently gotten sober and you are still a miserable prick, you don’t let your self-pity and your selfishness stop you from growing and taking actions that need to be taken in order to achieve and maintain spiritual health.
     It would be great if one of the chairmen/women of the local meetings around here would stop when he or she reads that line and look everyone in the room straight in the eye and ask if they are really willing to go to any length to get better. Because really, we have no excuse not to. We owe it to ourselves, our families, our spouses, and to the entire world. We owe it to God. The program is about humility, not stories and stature and “how much clean time you got, kid”. Put your sobriety chip away until you’ve done some work on yourself. And even then, the only chip we really need is a 24-hour.
God, teach us to love and accept ourselves so that we may love and accept each other and do Your work well…

Pray For Those We Resent

     What happens if we write inventory but a resentment continues to haunt us?

     Pray for that person. I suggested this to someone who my wife and I were trying to help and her response was, “I’m not praying for that bitch! I pray that she rots in fucking hell!”

     She relapsed about two weeks later, becoming delusional once again.

     If you can’t pray for someone whom you resent, then you probably aren’t cut out for the Steps. If we don’t have the guts or the courage or the willingness to grow spiritually, than relapse is inevitable. Swallowing our pride and ego and anger is a sign of maturity, but a refusal to mature and evolve will surely lead to failure. We will relapse, cause more pain to others, and eventually leave behind an unresolved life after a premature death.

From Alcoholics Anonymous, p.552:

     “If you have a resentment you want to be free of, if you will pray for the person or the thing that you resent, you will be free. If you will ask in prayer for everything you want for yourself to be given to them, you will be free. Ask for their health, their prosperity, their happiness, and you will be free. Even when you don’t really want it for them and your prayers are only words and you don’t mean it, go ahead and do it anyway. Do it every day for two weeks, and you will find you have come to mean it and to want it for them, and you will realize that where you used to feel bitterness and resentment and hatred, you now feel compassionate understanding and love.”

     When we pray for others in this way, we harness the power and willingness necessary to diffuse our anger and judgement. Trust me, letting go is pure and total freedom.

God, please give me the courage and willingness to pray for those I resent…