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Voices Of Recovery

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...

Emotional Calisthenics

  From Hope for Today, August 20: “The more I feel my smallness and powerlessness, the more I grow in spirituality.”   There’s a lot of wisdom in that short sentence. And it has everything to do with turning our will over to a Higher Power. It’s about letting go of our ego more and becoming right-sized. This is hard work, because catering to our ego is part of what makes us human. We are all at times slaves to our will and desires, but living with an addicted child in the family all these years, I’ve learned how my will can distort reality. Turning myself into a pretzel was destroying me. I’ve learned to accept what I cannot change, and allow the peace and serenity of the Spirit to fill me up. I don’t have the power to change my daughter, though I wish with all my being that I did. So I’m still learning to let go, even after all these years. It’s so very hard; Angie is my child. Life goes on, and there are other voices out there. I’m listening to...

More Breathing Lessons

“These are the only genuine ideas, the ideas of the shipwrecked. All the rest is rhetoric, posturing, farce.” Jose Ortega y Gasset taken from Richard Rohr’s book Breathing Under Water Many times in recovery meetings people refer to us all as shipwrecked human beings. I like that metaphor because it reminds me that we are all together on that ship, all part of the same human race, triumphing sometimes, often struggling, but together. How we navigate our lives together on that ship is as varied as the shells in the ocean. But 12-Step work has a lot in common with many other forms of spiritual recovery, some of them organized religions. I go out of my way to avoid the “R” word, but don’t we all seek peace and serenity in our troubled world? The tools we use strive toward the same goal. We need not be divided. We all pray for the same miracles, the health and wellness of ourselves and our loved ones. When I remember that, I feel as though we are all part of the same...

Independence Day

From Opening Our Hearts, Transforming Our Losses, p. 169: “I’m still grieving, but the despair is gone.” “I am learning that though I grieve incredibly for the loss of my ———- (fill in the blank), I don’t have to drown in that pain.”   Before getting into recovery, I wasn’t aware of the tools available to all of us to cope with the inevitable disappointments in life. No one had explained to me the concept of letting go of people and situations that I had no control over. This is huge because the continual battle of my will to change the unchangeable was exhausting and taking a toll on me more than the person I was hoping to change.   The regular practice of gratitude has gifted me with a perspective on my own life, simply focusing on my blessings and keeping them in the forefront of my mind. Surrendering to a greater being than I am for guidance and faith is so basic. And I  believe absolutely that no matter what happens in my life, all will be well. These are but three of the tools the program has given me. And when I pick them up and use them, no matter what sadness I must deal with, the despair is lifted and I have hope. Happy (early) Fourth of July, everyone! This year I’m celebrating sixteen years of freedom and independence from the disease that affects so many of us. God Bless!                ...

Turning It Over

              From Courage To Change, January 23: “Today’s reminder: At the start of each day I can make the decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God. This way I begin my day with a strong assertion that I choose to accept the reality of my life. I am growing in a healthy direction, growing ever more able to live a good life and to love those I meet along the way. ‘Decision is a risk rooted in the courage of being free.’”   My will(fullness) has gotten me into trouble often. I’ve exercised bad judgment and made questionable decisions, especially around my daughter Angie. I wanted to help her beat her addiction—as if I had any power over that. When I was finally, after much trial and error, able to accept my powerlessness, a weight was lifted off my shoulders. Nothing changed in our situation except the way I began reacting (or not) to it. Taking my attention away from Angie and the struggle that is hers alone, what was I going to do with all my energy? Focus on myself and all the blessings God has given me. When I turn my burdens over to Him, I am free....

Beach Combing

I have a huge collection of shells that I’ve amassed over fifty years. But I’ve pretty much stopped collecting because I have no more room to put them! It’s time to enjoy what I have. And to wonder what they’ve represented to me all these years. Ego. Such a fundamental part of the human condition, and yet the very thing that makes us human and separates us from God. It’s ego that keeps us struggling in our relationships, ego that keeps us from accepting things as they are and feeling content with what we have. Ego and our willfulness beneath it that traps us in our restless search to outdo ourselves and others. And it’s ego that makes us want to leave an imprint in the sand. All human beings wrestle with ego, but addicts have found a solution that elevates them from their soul sickness: losing themselves in substances and behaviors that provide oblivion for a time.  “We want what we want when we want it.” That tired old phrase smacking of egocentricity and childishness. Addicts in their disease are all about themselves. In Alcoholics Anonymous, one definition of an alcoholic is an egomaniac with an inferiority complex.. To be “relieved of the bondage of self,” as the Third Step Prayer states in the Big Book, I’m learning how to nurture a relationship with God and remember my place in relation to Him. My importance is next to nothing in the scheme of things. This keeps me right-sized and humble. I’m just another grain of sand on the beach. Learning to live beyond ego has been one of...