Step Five: Admitted to God, ourselves, and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
This is an honest program, and I recognize that I’ve been lying to myself and others my whole life. Shame, stigma, embarrassment were just a few of my rationales. But the lies kept my addictions going. I didn’t have to face them if I didn’t acknowledge them.
Telling someone else was the game changer for me. Other people became the mirrors I needed for valuable feedback. And telling other people made it all real. I could no longer hide in the shadows with my defects.
Bringing them out in the open with witnesses gives us a chance to deal with our defects more honestly and effectively. Freeing myself of some of my defects is critical to my growth and recovery in the program. My defects were roadblocks for me and contributed to my drinking.
I’m glad I’ve come out of isolation and faced myself. Day by day, I’m healing and getting better.
My List That Keeps Changing:
My love, Gene
My recovery fellowship
Herons and eagles
Oh heck, this list is endless…
From Each Day A New Beginning, September 27:
“’The wisdom of all ages and cultures emphasizes the tremendous power our thoughts have over our character and circumstances.’ ~Liane Cordes
We are gifted with the personal power to make thoughtful choices…Our minds work powerfully for our good. And just as powerfully to our detriment, when fears intrude on all our thoughts…My outlook and attitude toward life reveals the strength of my connection to God.”
I’ve read that fear and anxiety are at the base of many addictions. I can’t speak for all of them, or for everyone, but I can speak for myself. Fear precipitated every single addiction I’ve been subject to.
And it was fear that kept me addicted to my daughter Angie. Fear for her well-being—and for mine.
Letting go of my obsession and fear—replacing them both with faith—has brought peace into my life.
I will continue to channel my sorrow about Angie’s drug abuse into something good.
I will remain in recovery and add my voice to others fighting this cruel disease.
I believe that my daughter would want that.
From Opening Our Hearts, Transforming Our Losses, p. 3
“Alcoholism robbed me of who I was, caused injury to my daughter, and almost completely destroyed my best friend. It took bits and pieces of us all during those first six years. Those were tremendous losses that took a long time to work through. My grief was immense. I felt inconsolable.”
That is exactly how I felt when I entered the rooms of recovery. I was broken and at the same time I was crippled with guilt. That put me at high risk for enforcing the boundaries I should have been recognizing. I was completely lost and overwhelmed with the reality of Angie becoming a drug addict.
In the beginning I couldn’t be tough with her; I simply defaulted to rescue mode. I wanted to protect her, but in so doing I was shielding her from the natural consequences of her bad choices. So she learned nothing and the behaviors continued. Like it said in the quote, the disease robbed me of who I was. Once upon a time, I was a more responsible parent. But this frightening disease caused me to lose my compass and I lost my way.
Fortunately, over the years I listened to the voices of recovery around me and I started changing my behavior. My sense of right and wrong returned and I was able to set boundaries in order to protect myself. As we all know, when an addict is using there is great potential for abuse. I had to be armed, all the while loving my daughter deeply.
There’s nothing harder than watching our children go off the rails as they often do. Some recover, and some don’t. That’s why recovery stresses the importance of taking care of ourselves. We can’t control the addict but we can control our own lives. We can pay attention to what’s around us, other loved ones, and try to make the best of what we have.
“Life is not always what one wants it to be, but to make the best of it as it is is the only way of being happy.” Jenny Jerome Churchill
From an old Facebook thread, this mother’s comment:
“I am sick of hearing addiction is a disease! It is a choice! I have been clean/sober for over 20 years. I made a choice! I chose to put a needle in my arm. I chose to get drunk because I could not handle what life gave. I chose to get clean and stay clean. Life is all about choices. I did not choose this for my daughter, she did! What I need to do is take care of me today. I choose to let her go no matter how much I love her!”
My response is this: This may be a problem of semantics, but it also involves the old chicken and egg confusion. Which came first? I think the question “Is addiction a disease or a choice?” oversimplifies: I think it’s both a disease and a choice. The soul sickness that most addicts have—from which they seek relief via drugs, alcohol, food, gambling, etc.—is an emotional condition. Call it depression. But when addicts self-medicate with a substance, then the substance often takes over in the body, creating a craving. Then it’s physical. Then it’s addiction.
So I think the mother on FB is saying that there is choice involved: the choice to fight the disease and go into recovery. Many addicts do just that. But there may be a genetic predisposition in some people to be vulnerable to addiction. In any case, the American Medical Association has stated that addiction is a brain disease. And what people choose to do about it—or any disease—is a matter of choice.