The Pernicious Pursuit of Perfection

by Bill

Sometimes we get so tired of trying to be perfect that we are in danger of quitting altogether.  This can happen in everyday life, and is one of the major causes of “dropping out” into various addictions, whether chemical or behavioral.  It also happens in early recovery, which by its nature defies perfection.

We don’t have to finish everything we start Continue reading

Courage and Decisions

Courage is being afraid but doing it anyway.
~ Unknown

Every day we make thousands of decisions: Am I going to shave before or after breakfast; Should I wear this blouse or that one; Latte or mocha; Shall I go to the morning or evening meeting, and so on.

These usually seem like small things, and they often are.  But small decisions can lead to big results.  I might decide to cross the street, and thus meet the love of my life — or she might walk past on the side of the street I just left. Not all our decisions are so momentous.  Nonetheless, we need to be mindful of those that might carry weight.

Generally speaking, good decisions are those that will benefit us, and it’s pretty easy to analyze them: will this further my sobriety, or not; what might be the long-term results, and can I live with those possibilities; am I doing this to help me stuff some feelings, and so forth.

Bad decisions, on the other hand, tend to be focused outwardly: will this please my partner, even though I might get a resentment about it; am I doing that in order to avoid looking at something about my life that I’d rather forget…. These are often more difficult to identify, but if we use the criterion “Will it really benefit me in the long run” we most likely won’t be too far off track. 

This may seem selfish, but we need to remember that we can’t take care of others if we don’t take care of ourselves! We need to consider our decisions mindfully.

In our addictions we let our minds run free, doing what felt good and avoiding — at all costs — things that made us uncomfortable, or that frightened us.  In order to recover, we need to develop the courage that carries us past our fears and our wants, to actions that satisfy our true needs.

And we need to look carefully at what those fears might be, because that’s what doing the “next right thing” is all about.

Why Not Bend…Just A Little?

Tomorrow is Easter, and the third day of Passover.  Many of us will be visiting with relatives, or we may be living at home.  There will probably be some pressure to attend church, or temple during the coming week, and many of us have developed aversions to the religious practices of our families, for a variety of reasons that aren’t worth delving into here.

However, those of us who are involved in 12-step programs are in the process of making, or preparing to make, amends.  Even though we may have our reservations, wouldn’t it be a wonderful surprise for our families if we tried to participate in the celebrations? 

It wouldn’t cost us anything, really.  Our “principles” were formed in our addictions, and such an endeavor will give us a chance to reevaluate them in the light of sobriety and clear thinking.  We can tighten it up and “act as if” for a couple of hours.

And it would mean so much to them.

Stinkin’ Thinkin’, and Less Odious Thoughts

by Bill

downloadI was with a group of folks recently who were discussing the fact that addiction is as much a problem of the mind as of the body. Yes, it is a physical disease, but it is also a complex of emotional difficulties and turmoil that can ruin a person’s life, even years after they have put the cork in the bottle or the tracks have faded.  This true of all addicts who get clean but fail to make the necessary changes. Call it a “dry drunk, “stinkin’ thinkin’” or whatever you will, it is one of the main things that lead to misery while technically still clean and sober, and often relapse.

The specific topic was how folks sometimes think they can go ahead and drink or use other drugs socially. Continue reading

Looking Down

by Bill

Don’t look back; something might be gaining on you.
~ Satchel Paige

In her wonderful book The Long Steep Path, Catherine Ryan Hyde writes of a three-day trek to Machu Picchu, during which the trail tops out on two mountain passes approaching 14,000 feet above sea level.  She comments on the difficulty of simply breathing at that altitude, and the daunting sight of still more climb ahead.  Than she writes: Continue reading