The Need To Control

We can’t control other people.  We can force them, but we can’t control them.  Nor can we control love; to love is to let go.

How often have we pursued another person, determined to “make” them love us…and how often have we been disappointed, or had to use emotional — even physical — force to attempt hanging on to someone who didn’t want to be with us, or to escape the clutches of someone who wanted us too much?

This need to control ourselves, our feelings and other people, to live in a little world of our own making, to want to get our lives exactly right and have them welded shut, is the basis of addiction.  We believe deep down inside that we are unable to get, or unworthy of getting, what we need through our own self-esteem and feelings of wholeness, and yet we crave the love and acceptance that should have been our birthright.


The “hole inside” can only be filled from inside.  We can’t fill it with alcohol and others drugs, with sex, with food, with busyness, or with the dozens of other ways we may try.  We can only do it by facing our deepest want and desire: to be accepted and loved for ourselves alone.  Getting past the fear of rejection, of lost trust, of compulsion and digging deeply to discover and nurture the child inside that was convinced it was unloved, unwanted, unworthy — a nothing — is the only path that will eventually lead to the sense of wholeness that we desire in our deepest heart.

We do this by developing relationships and the trust we need, seeking out people in our recovery groups who seem trustworthy, and then slowly, slowly learning to give that trust.  The big mistake that many newcomers to recovery make is to mistake style for substance.  The quiet woman in the corner who shares seldom but who always rings a bell with us when she does speak is far more likely to be “that” person than the loudmouth who spouts lines from the Big Book or Basic Text, parroting what he has heard or read. 

We have learned to be careful in bestowing our trust, and need to be careful in our fellowships (after all, we aren’t there because we’re all healthy).  But if we look, and watch, and move cautiously, there are many folks who can and will help us to learn that we, too, can be trusted and loved.

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Where’s Your Stash?


I remember when I was a kid how I’d have a full box of .22 ammo, or a brand-new pack of cigarettes, or a new package of notebook paper, and just having it would give me a safe, secure feeling.  We were poor, and it was rare for me to have more than one of anything at a time.  Hell, around our house, it was pretty unusual for anyone to have more than one thing at a time.  For me, having fifty cartridges, or twenty smokes or — OMG! — a hundred sheets of notebook paper created an unusual sense of everything being right in my tiny world — at least for that moment.  Even an unopened or relatively new pack of playing cards could do that to me.  To feel secure, I needed my stash.
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To give applicants with a past a fair chance, employers should ‘ban the box’

Originally posted on The Opinion Zone:

072612 (Photo by Taylor Jones/The Palm Beach Post). WEST PALM BEACH. Applicants fill out paperwork. The School District of Palm Beach County's Department of Transportation is encouraging job seekers to apply for school bus drivers at a jobs fair at its Central Transportation Facility on Summit Boulevard in West Palm Beach Thursday. In addition to exceptional retirement benefits, competitive pay and health insurance. Applicants fill out paperwork for a job with the School District of Palm Beach County in 2012. (Photo by Taylor Jones/The Palm Beach Post)

“You make a mistake and there are no second chances, even if you want to do the right thing. Nobody will hire you once you have a record.”

That was the voice of a young man who spoke at a community meeting last week in West Palm Beach’s Gaines Park, in a neighborhood that’s been wracked this summer with gun violence — and which generally sees too much of crime, drugs and joblessness.

There are, we all know, no easy solutions to this problem. But it would certainly help if we could make it easier for people with criminal records to get jobs once they have served their prison time or probation.

As many as 1.5 million Floridians have felony convictions, according to the American Civil…

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It was a hot and humid day.  I think that may be the tropical equivalent of “It was a dark and stormy night,” but perhaps “It was a hot and humid night” fits better.  No matter.

The weather has been miserable.  Yesterday the temp was 96 degrees F. with a heat index of 105 and humidity in the high 80’s. We’re not expecting much different today.  Pity the poor guys who have to work out in this stuff, keeping up spoiled rich folks’ landscaping, but on the other hand it’s good that they have jobs so that they can eat and send money back to their families in whatever country they came from.

Americans today simply don’t “get,” for the most part, that we were all immigrants at some point in our family history.  My family came to French Canada in the mid-17th Century.  Thank God for that!  (Or maybe not; if they were still in Brittany we’d have free health care!)  No matter.  They wanted to make their own way, and were willing to work at whatever it took to realize their dreams.

Your family was probably the same: hard workers busting their asses so that we, their descendants could enjoy the necessities of life: TV, mobile phones, cars at 10% below dealer cost, and the best politicians money can buy.  Everyone took their turn at the bottom, and that’s the way it goes today.

Today’s reading in Answers in the Heart included this phrase, “It is a moment of wonder when we have something in our lives that requires the best we have to give.”  Our forefathers gave that kind of effort for us, and so that those who came after them would enjoy the same opportunities. 

I try to imagine the feelings of those Frenchmen who first set foot on the shores of the St. Lawrence: relief because they were on dry land at last, fear of the unknown, uncertain futures, but an absolute conviction that they were going to do the best they could.  How brave they were!

I wonder if I have that kind of conviction, or that willingness to set off into the unknown without even the certainty of getting to my destination?  What faith must have driven them?  What circumstances back in Europe must have given them the push to make a home in the New World?  Do I have that kind of guts?

Yes.  I’m in recovery.  I’ve forsaken the known for the unknown, the misery of addiction for the scary but hopeful future promised by those who went before me.  First I had faith, and then I came to believe. Now I know.

I came to recovery a stranger in a strange land.  I remained because I saw the promise.  I left the comfort zone (finally) and did the work — something that I can be proud of.  I try to pass that on to others, so that they can experience the benefits too; the way our forefathers did, back before we got spoiled by the fruits of their toil.

I wonder if they’d be proud of me?

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A Challenge


I belong to a 12-step fellowship that deals largely with relationships — with others and with ourselves.  Last night, at the end of the meeting, the question was raised: What Is Love.

My challenge to you is to address this question in the comments.  What is your idea of love — healthy, sustainable, long-lasting love?  I’m not referring to the lust that often characterizes new relationships.  Although it has its place in the scheme of things by encouraging us to remain with the “other” until something longer-lasting hopefully evolves, it never lasts and thus is not, in itself, capable of sustaining a healthy relationship.  I’m talking about the kind of love and respect that has old couples walking along hand-in-hand and smiling at each other at the start of their second thirty, forty or fifty years.

So, let’s hear it.  Be sure to use the comments, not the contact form, so that we can all see each other’s ideas.

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People Need People

By Bill

Path-300x241One of the fellowships that I attend is focused, in the early stages, on the process of overcoming obsessions.  Obsession of one kind or another is a big component of most addictions, but some more than others.

The interesting thing about obsession is that it is a vice best practiced while alone.  Our brains go ’round and ’round, and we are unable to shake the undesirable thought pattern no matter how hard we try.  Our minds keep coming back to it, him, her, that, those, and it can seem as though ridding ourselves of the thoughts is like trying to push toothpaste back into the tube.  But put us in the presence of another human being with whom we have to interact, and things are different.
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Happy 80th Birthday, Your Holiness!

"Dalailama1 20121014 4639" by *christopher* - Flickr: dalailama1_20121014_4639. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

“Dalailama1 20121014 4639” by *christopher* – Flickr:  Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – 

“Whether one is rich or poor, educated or illiterate, religious or non-believing, man or woman, black, white, or brown — we are all the same. Physically, emotionally and mentally, we are all equal. We all share basic needs for food, shelter, safety and love. We all aspire to happiness and we all shun suffering. Each of us has hopes, worries, fears and dreams. Each of us wants the best for our family and loved ones. We all experience pain when we suffer loss, and joy when we achieve what we seek. On this fundamental level, religion, ethnicity, culture and language make no difference.”

His Holiness Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso
14th Dalai Lama