Someone Mentioned…

By Bill

Someone mentioned that I had a problem, and I listened

Someone mentioned meetings, so I went

Someone mentioned honesty, so I tried to be

Someone mentioned willingness, and I thought I was willing

Someone mentioned meditation, and I thought about it

Someone mentioned phone numbers, so I got a couple

Someone mentioned calling them, but I didn’t want to bother anyone

Someone mentioned getting a home group, so I looked

Someone mentioned connecting with others at meetings, so I said hello to a few

Someone mentioned that I needed a sponsor, but I couldn’t find the right one

Someone mentioned 90 meetings in 90 days, but I had two jobs and I needed to rest

Someone mentioned the twelve steps, so I read them

Someone mentioned working the steps, so I read them again

Someone mentioned doing service work, so I went to a business meeting

Someone mentioned helping others, so I gave them advice

Someone mentioned making amends, but I was always the victim

Someone mentioned that I looked stressed, but I didn’t worry about it

Someone mentioned that they saw me in a bar, but I was drinking a coke

Someone mentioned that they hadn’t seen me for a while

Someone mentioned the obituary, but no one remembered me

Unique, and yet…

By Bill

No one like us has ever existed before.  There are similarities with others, and some of those may be more important than the differences — such as our identification with and understanding of other addicts.  Nonetheless, the combination of elements, molecules, electrical charges, life experience and consciousness that combine to be “us” has never existed before and never will again.

Even identical twins begin to diverge from the instant the first group of cells divides into two individuals.  The part that we consider “identical” is, in fact, only descriptive of superficialities.  Inside, they are unique, irreplaceable like the rest of us.  Furthermore, neither they nor we are the same from moment to moment.  All of the factors mentioned above — and even the subatomic and quantum conditions that make up our “unique” selves — are changing so rapidly that they are impossible to measure with any meaning.  We aren’t the same people from instant to instant, regardless of how precisely we measure the instants.

So it’s really pointless to compare ourselves to others.  My siblings are unique.  So were my parents and their ancestors.  My relatives, friends and every other human being — living or dead — possess the same uniqueness in abilities, drive to succeed, interests and motivations that I have.  I may admire others (or the reverse), but comparisons are ridiculous!  I’m comparing myself to a standard that literally no longer exists.

I can’t be someone else, nor they me.  I can only be myself.  I decide what’s next.  That’s not to say that I can’t learn from others, but  I need to be sure I’m making my decisions based on what’s best for me.  I need to build skills — like those of recovery — that make it possible for me to make decisions and move in directions that put me at peace with myself.

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Letting Go Of Our Blindness

by Bill

purp_oxWhen we are no longer blinded by addiction, we find ourselves open to a new world of beauty and discovery.  We notice and marvel at wonders that never before registered as worthy of our attention, from the perfection of a tiny flower at our feet to the laugh lines of a loved one.  The isolation of our addiction opens up into a universe of delights to explore and cherish.

All we have to do is overcome our fear of change and get to work.

The House By The Side Of The Road

by Bill

“I know you’re in there
You’re just out of sight.”
~ Al Stewart

I can’t begin to number the times my wife has said to me over the years things on the order of “I just want to talk to the real you!”  It used to piss me off, because I was convinced that the “real” me was the legend I’d created in my mind and was attempting to project to the world.  Hell, it was frightening to think (because it was true) that there might be someone inside that I didn’t even know — someone who might blow my cover, who might leak the word that I wasn’t the tough guy I’d painted myself to be.  What if the world back then had known that I secretly wrote poetry; that my greatest ambition was to live in the woods, take pictures and write?  Would they have cared one way or the other?  Probably not.  But having been convinced that the real me wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t about to let them find out. Continue reading

We Can’t Do It Alone

I recently ran across a piece of writing that made me really sad.  There was talk of repeated relapses and “doing things differently,” but never a mention of a support group.

I’ve been around recovery for a long time, and I have never seen anyone recover successfully without some kind of support outside their immediate family.  (I’m not saying that such folks don’t exist, but merely that I haven’t known any.)

Isolation and secrecy are part and parcel of addiction in all its forms. 

Continue reading

Nobody’s Perfect

In early recovery we are still concentrating on our addictions.  Even after we are abstinent, it takes us a while to reach a point where not acting out isn’t foremost in our minds.  Eventually we began to think of ourselves as sober addicts, and develop interests that take us farther yet from our addictions.

No one is perfect.  If we are preoccupied with thinking about our mistakes, we will find ourselves living in the past.  We can’t change the past, nor can we control the future.  If we insist on trying, we will make ourselves crazy.  Living in today, to the best of our ability, is essential for successful recovery.

Steps one through nine are our tools for dealing with the past.  Completing them as thoroughly as we are able, along with some outside help if needed, brings us up to today.  Ten, eleven and twelve guide us through the present.  Tomorrow isn’t up to us at all.  It will take care of itself.

Building Self Esteem

Practically all addictions are shame-based.  In some way we have been convinced that we are “less than,” damaged goods, that we don’t measure up, that we are good only for being used, or that we’ll never amount to anything.  When we are told such lies often enough, we internalize them and they become part of our self-image.  At that point they become self-fulfilling prophecies.  If I’m convinced that I’m no good, that I’m flawed, that I’m unworthy, then it’s going to be pretty hard to get anything done in the way of growth and progress with my life.  Even if I do, it’s unlikely ever to be enough to satisfy me — especially if my emotional abusers are still around.

 In order to replace these convictions with a healthy, productive attitude toward ourselves and our lives, we need to overwrite a lot of data: all those messages that said “You’re not good enough,” “You can’t,” “Your brother was smarter,” “Your sister was the loveable one,” “You’ll never amount to anything,” and the other false information we absorbed from the words and actions of people we should have been able to trust — but who let us down. Continue reading