Reservations, Powerlessness and Surrender

I surrender!

Reservations are little ideas, beliefs and loopholes that we leave for ourselves. We reserve the right to hang on to them, not realizing that we are really protecting some aspect of our addiction. Most of us started recovery with some reservations. They may have gone like this:

  • Opiates are my problem, a little drink now and then won’t hurt me;
  • Alcohol just about ruined my life. I don’t ever want to drink again–of course, I’ll still smoke a little weed when I’m feeling stressed;
  • I don’t relate well to other women, so I’ll need a male sponsor;
  • If my mother died, I don’t see how I could handle it without picking up;
  • They say we’re as sick as our secrets, but they can’t mean everything. I’ll never talk about that!
  • They say no relationships for the first year, but a hookup isn’t a relationship!
  • But I’ve found my soul mate! (Another one?)

We may be sincere about wanting recovery, and may be working diligently toward it: going to meetings, doing step work, and almost giving ourselves fully over to the program’s recommendations. But as long as we hold reservations, consciously or unconsciously, we are fooling ourselves.

One of the worst effects of reservations is that this kind of thinking keeps us from bonding with other recovering people. Recovery works because we are a fellowship with a common purpose: to stay clean and sober, and learn how to live that way. We do this by accepting that we can’t do it on our own, and that we need the guidance and support of others who have been successful at what we want to do. Reservations  prevent us from developing the close, trusting relationships that make those things possible.

Fighting is so much a part of addiction—fighting for the next fix, the next drink, the time to use, protecting our ability to keep getting high—that we forget how to stop fighting. When we are able to relax and stop struggling, we begin to gain the benefits of our recovery program, along with a huge sense of relief.

The problem is that we may still be trying to control our addiction, when what we really need is to let go of that control, let go of our reservations, accept the reality that our addiction is far more powerful than we are, and that we must move away from our addiction, not stay and fight.

Once we are able to surrender, the feeling of relief is amazing! We are no longer forced to twist our thinking around so that we can try to have things two ways at once. We no longer push, push, push back against our program. We no longer have to deal with the stress of always trying to be right in the face of massive evidence to the contrary. We are, at last, able to relax and recover.

We must surrender before we can win!

Slippery Places

Most of us wouldn’t stick our hands into a bag of rattlesnakes to find out if they’d bite.

If you don’t want to slip, stay out of slippery places.
Heard around the rooms

No plan survives contact with the enemy.
Ageless Military Adage

It is in the nature of human beings to try out new things. We hate change, but we love discovery. While this has led us to great advances, it can also get us into big trouble. Another adage that comes to mind is “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” Continue reading “Slippery Places”

An Unsolicited Plug

For several reasons I make it a point not to review books or accept ads, “infographics,“ and guest posts on this blog, except in extremely rare situations.  When I tried it the first one led to more, and to requests that didn’t meet my standards (never easy to refuse for a codependent like me), plus other complications, like conflicts of interest, etc.  I don’t like hassles, and promoting business in whatever fashion is not the purpose of this site.  However, it’s my blog, and I occasionally make exceptions for myself when I think it’s important enough.  This is one of those times.

My long-time readers will probably have noticed the blurb in the sidebar for Joe C’s book, Beyond Belief, Agnostic Musings For 12-Step Life.  No doubt the word “agnostic” turned some of them off.  I’d like to comment on that, and explain why the ad, recommendation, or whatever you want to call it is there.

Continue reading “An Unsolicited Plug”

Fine Print

Education is what you get when you read the fine print;
experience is what you get when you don’t.

~ Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger is one of the Grand Old Masters of folk, along with Woodie Guthrie, Buffy St Marie, Bob Dylan in his early days, Joan Baez, Peter Yarrow, Paul Stookey and Mary Travers, Odetta, Leo Solieau, The Carter Family, Fiddlin’ John Carson, Harry Belafonte, Dave van Ronk, and a host of others–not forgetting the Folk who carried many of the tunes in their oral traditions and sang them over the centuries before recording technology.  They’ve all contributed more to our culture than we may realize.

Seeger has always sorta been a hero of mine.  In addition to the obvious effect he has had on generations of music aficionados, he influenced major figures in the Civil Rights movement and other movements toward Liberty as did many of his contemporaries. He had a way of expressing himself that was at once deceptively simple and, at the same time, pretty damn deep.  The quote above is a prime example.  When I ran across it recently I was immediately struck by the subtle way in which it relates to my recovery, and maybe yours, too. Continue reading “Fine Print”

Thought for the day 6/10/17

This is a good day for gratitude and what-ifs: what if Bill had been offended by Bob’s issues with other drugs; what if Bill had just taken the drink he so desperately wanted, instead of looking for an alternative? What if they just hadn’t been sympatico – the high-pressure Easterner and the Midwestern physician? Would I still have my sobriety to be grateful for? What about my other 12-step fellowships? 

Happy 82nd Birthday AA!

Okay, God . . . what am I supposed to be learning this time?

There’s an old saying something like, “Just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.”  That’s certainly inarguable logic, but most of the time it fails to lead to a valid conclusion.  Most people don’t care about us one way or the other.  Those who do care usually wish us well, as long as we’re not standing in the way of their comfort somehow.  The fact is, we’re not powerful enough — most of us, anyway — to make ripples in the lives of those who aren’t pretty close around us.

Assuming that we’re not annoying other folks enough to make them want to take time to mess us up, things continually going wrong in our lives usually mean that we aren’t properly interpreting the lessons that life is trying to teach us.  There are a lot of reasons for that, but most often they boil down to our not wanting to hear what the teacher is saying.  After all, it’s not only easier but far more comforting to attribute our misfortunes to bad luck or to someone’s ill-will or mistakes, rather than to look honestly at the part we had in them.

Everything that happens in our lives is a lesson.  Good, bad, or indifferent, there is always something to be learned.  The big question is not “Why Me?” but rather, “How can I honestly interpret this lesson and learn from it?”

“Slips”

I can’t count the times I’ve heard shares in various fellowships like this: “I just had one beer, but I figured since I’d slipped anyway I might as well have another.”  (Substitute pertinent acting out for “beer”.)

All too often, these sorts of remarks are heard from folks who were “out there” for much longer than just an evening or a couple of days, most often for months or years, and they all say it got worse than before.  Because the next morning  Continue reading ““Slips””