Category Archives: Step 1

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.

Abundant Life

A friend of mine brought a wonderful quotation to my attention, but she didn’t say where it came from. I apologise for not giving credit where it is due:

The Abundant Life begins when we give up all hope of ever having a better past

I am having some struggle with staying in the moment these days. I have quite a lot of big changes coming and I am sure that the uncertainty is enticing me to bring out The Controller and also to look back and think that if things had been different, these changes wouldn’t be necessary.

What insanity it is to look back and wish it was different? And even more so to try to control the future and others.

Imagine I could give up these very unhelpful behaviours, I would be free from the pain they cause, and abundance would be my prize. So the first step is to recognise all the things that I am trying to have power over, but in fact I have none. The second step is where I come to see that a Power greater than myself can free me from these behaviours. This Power can be as simple as Awareness.

The third step is very like imagining, but it is more directional and more specific. I have to decide to hand these behaviours over to that Power and to know that in this way they can be resolved. I came a little unstuck before, when I handed things over and within a few days/weeks/months, I would find that these behaviours were back in my brain, bouncing off the walls. The third step makes no statement about how many times we must hand over. In my experience, the more entrenched the behaviour is, the more often I need to hand it over.

After two years in recovery and 6 months ‘sabbatical’, it turns out that I need to return to step 1, 2 & 3.

That’s the way recovery goes….

 

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Back on the Wagon

Last year was the most intense year, in my recent history. My year was full of reasons to stay on the straight and narrow, to immerse myself in 12 Steps and to recover as quickly as possible. I had relationship challenges, partner challenges, family challenges, work challenges, money challenges. By time I got to the end of 2011, I was exhausted and sick of my own feelings & issues.

I took a little break from work and the stresses of life. I managed to have a perfectly peaceful Christmas & New Year. All the family birthday celebrations went off without incident. I thought I had recovered and that 2012 was going to be sweet. I resolved to be less intense, more happy-go-lucky.

It turns out that I only made it 21 days until I realise that recovery isn’t ever going to be something I finish. My feelings are a BIG part of me, and they are going to come, whether I like them or not. Life on life’s terms are going to be good and bad in cycles, I have to accept all of it.

Now that the holiday is over, I have to get back on the wagon. The work begins again. I am back in recovery and taking the very first step.

I admitted I was powerless over feelings – that my life has become unmanageable.

I’m grateful to be back in recovery and I am grateful that through this blog (and the others that I can read again) I am going to connect with other people in recovery – and most specially, my friend T.

 

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Wood For The Trees

For some time now, I’ve been feeling like my perspective is warped and I can’t see the next step in front of me. It comes and goes, some days I’m filled with enthusiasm to make plans for the future. Today, I’ve lost my perspective again, I can’t see the wood for the trees.

In photography, perspective is about angles and distances and depending on how you use them, you can create optical illusions. I don’t think that this is too different from how the mind processes stuff. I feel like I can’t really tell the difference between the real and the illusion right now. It may be that I am too close to the problem, or maybe I’m too far away. Maybe I’m standing at the wrong angle in relation to the thing that needs action or detachment.

I’m struggling to see how to apply my program to this loss of perspective. I’m not about to admit that I am powerless over my mind. That is the first step down a slippery slope. I wonder if I should be handing my mind over to the care of God. Also seems like a dangerous move? As I read this back, it seems like maybe I’m heading to schizophrenia or dementia at my tender young age. Gosh! This gets scarier and scarier by the minute.

No, I think that I am going to lean on some of my fellowship slogans. I particularly like:

This Too Shall Pass, Keep It Simple, One Day At A Time & Easy Does It.

The one that I would change is:

Keep An Open Mind to just Keep A Mind.

I suspect that this lack of perspective comes from being overly stressed and over exposure to forking paths. If I can just keep a series of wonderful weekends flowing and take some down time over the holidays, I’ll get my perspective back. Perhaps when everything comes back into focus, the blooms before me, will be brighter and more colourful than before.

 

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Recovery for Non Believers

When I first came into recovery, I was definitely not a believer. I had worked through my supply of hope and was ready to give up the fight, that was my life. I felt abandoned by the world, my family, God. I vehemently believed that if there was a God (as per the stories that were regularly shoved down my throat), then God was a He and wasn’t around for me, because I was flawed.

When I stopped crying in fellowship meetings long enough to hear the words that were being spoken, I was disappointed to hear talk of Higher Powers because I thought that if I didn’t have a God, I also couldn’t have recovery.

The talks went on and I came to understand that although I had suffered great pain and abandonment as a child, the one inflicting the most pain & abandonment on my grown up, was me. I came to see that I didn’t take good care of myself, I allowed others to treat me badly and I joined in (or led) the devaluing of my work, opinion, time, body, mind, etc. I did all of this because that’s what I learnt to do as a child growing up in a home wrecked by alcoholism & dysfunction. As a grown up I had to take responsibility to parent myself in healthy ways of behaviour & belief.

I began working the steps and while it was really simple to see that my life was unmanageable and that I was powerless to change it, I hit a brick wall at step 2. I didn’t believe that a power greater than myself a) existed or b) cared about me enough, to restore me to sanity. If that was possible, why was I in the situation I was in? If I had not wanted change or something better so desperately, I would have abandoned recovery and carried on my miserable way.

I needed help so badly, that I kept coming back. Anyway, it felt good to be with people that understood what I was feeling. Through listening at fellowship meetings and reading the writings of others in recovery, I realised that I didn’t have to believe that a Higher Power could restore me to sanity, I just had to be willing to believe. I also realised that I didn’t need to know how I could be restored to sanity, just that I could be. It took a few months but eventually I got to a place where I believed that being restored to sanity was possible.

Here I came upon another barrier, I had to turn my life and will over to a God that I really didn’t understand. Some say that the understanding is part of step 3, but I say, even without understanding, we can still progress in recovery. I got a beautiful box out of the cupboard and started writing notes to my ‘higher power’. I asked for strength and clarity and help (with the mosquitos that were keeping me out of sleep that I desperately needed). Slowly, the things that I asked for were being delivered to me. I started getting more sleep at night, I was feeling stronger and started seeing more clearly how to recover.

About a year after I took step 3 for the first time, I revisited the step (read it here) to work out again what I understood about my Higher Power. I also worked out what I could physically do to strengthen my connection to HP Source and the way I do that is by keeping a gratitude journal, leaving notes in my God-box and being out in nature. Through being connected I am developing my belief that I am good enough to love, to save and to be happy.

I am really glad that I didn’t abandon recovery because I didn’t believe in God. My connection with my Higher Power is one of the most precious things in my bag of tricks. I keep revisiting the steps and every time my connection & belief grows stronger.

 

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Taking It Personally

I’ve been having a tough time lately. I keep living the trauma of doing work with my best intentions and efforts, only to have my clients refuse or neglect to pay my bill. Naturally, it puts me into a very tight spot financially, to meet my obligations. I was talking to a friend, a couple of days ago, and he expressed his sadness and rejection by the world, of the talents that he has to offer. He said that his gifts were God given but the world clearly didn’t want them, because his business was suffering.

As I was thinking about what he’d expressed, I suddenly realised that he was taking personally, a circumstance that has taken the whole world by storm. Millions of people, everywhere, are really struggling to make ends meet. They are defaulting on credit payments, trading down on homes, groceries, cars and staff. Where they would have paid someone to provide a service, they are now doing it for themselves. I could see that my friend’s talents are God given and are very worthy of acknowledgement and payment. That they are not being taken up is not because he is unworthy, but because the world is in a very tight financial spot. People are making do without his services or trying to do it themselves.

So, if this was true for him (and I am sure that it is), why was it not true for me? Why, when things don’t right for me, do I immediately leap to thoughts of being useless, bad, unworthy, punished, intrinsically flawed? Why do I take so personally, that some people can’t make ends meet, that they don’t behave honourably, that they don’t pay their bills?

I still believe that if I was worthy, everyone would treat me well and the world would suddenly be a fair place. That belief is pure insanity. It looks like I need to return to Step 1 and make a list of all the things that I take personally, that I actually have no control over. Also, a message to my friend: You are wonderful & worthy, and you can take that personally.

 

Untangled

We can’t choose how our relatives feel about us. We can’t choose how our loved ones think about us and react to us. We can’t alter how those people at work speak about us when we’re not there. None of that  is ours.

YOU OWN YOUR HEAD

What you can do, however, is work on yourself, is accept yourself as you are right now, is start to fuel your own personal inner fire of belief without any external sources. It’s not that you don’t value the thoughts of friends and people you love, but instead, that you accept them as simply that: thoughts and input from the outside world. If every time you speak to a group of people, they yawn and look away, accept that maybe you’re boring them, but don’t take it any further than that. Don’t read minds. Just take that information and decide what you want to do about it.

In the above example, maybe you’re talking to the wrong people about the right stuff. If you’re passionate about dance but you’re talking to a bunch of farmers, maybe that’s not a good fit. (Maybe it is.) But own your head, and don’t let their tangles snarl you.

via Untangled.

I found this blog via Todd’s Point of View today and it gave me a different way of looking at my experience as described in God, Of My Understanding. I don’t know if Chris Brogan knows about the 12 Step Program but his sentiments mirror the principles in the program. He calls it Tangled, I know it as enmeshed or Minding Someone Else’s Business. This is Step 1 – We admitted we were powerless over ‘what others think/say/believe/treat us/react’ – that our lives had become unmanageable. His writing has gotten through to me and given me an idea of which is the next step to take.

I Miss You

I know that the best thing for me is to Let Go of a bad relationship. When I say bad, I mean that I am unable to get my needs met in this relationship.

After 21 months in recovery, I admit that I am powerless over my partner and my feelings have become unmanageable. I believe that a Power greater than I can restore me to sanity and I have made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God. So here’s the rub: it is so damn hard to do nothing.

I want to rush in to fix this problem, and I know that temporarily I can, but eventually, I will have to come back to step one. Once again my feelings of not feeling loved and of not being seen will become unmanageable.

Nobody told me that it was going to be painful sometimes to Let Go & Let God. Well here I am telling you that it is painful. It hurts to walk away.