“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

How Do You Eat An Elephant?

The other day while I was washing a mortar and pestle in the bathroom sink (too complicated; don’t ask), I noticed that the heavy machined stainless steel pestle seemed to roll quite easily up and down the slope of the porcelain basin.  So I gave it a shove and watched as it kept oscillating up the slopes and down again for a surprisingly long time.  I cranked up the stopwatch on my phone (Imagine writing that 20 years ago!) gave the pestle a good shove, and timed it until it became stationary again.

The back and forth momentum lasted for 7 minutes and 24 seconds!

Later I was demonstrating the Miracle Of The Rolling Pestle to my-wife-the-shrink and got to thinking how important momentum is to recovery. Continue reading

Integrity

Dictionary.com defines integrity as “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.”  

Way back in the ‘80’s during the real Miami Vice days, I knew a Dade County police officer whose beat was along the Miami River.  “Jorge” was offered $50,000 to take his lunch break at a particular time — one day, one time.  In those days, that was roughly equivalent to a year’s pay for a patrolman. Definitions are well and good, but when the bag man shows up with 50K and you have kids in school and a mortgage, it’s simpler than that: do I do the right thing,  despite the cost, or the wrong thing?

Continue reading

Hope and Expectations

I hope I’ll win the lottery, but I don’t expect to.

A lot of us addicts get our hopes and expectations amazingly tangled.  Most of us need to take a close look at the difference during our early recovery (and often afterward), because they can cause huge complications in our lives.

Continue reading

The Only Requirement…

Every now and then I’ll run into one of two situations at a 12-Step meeting:

  • Someone will read a statement about “our primary purpose” requesting that sharing be confined to such-and-such a topic; or
  • Someone will comment “We don’t talk about that,  this is ____ Anonymous”.

12-tradGenerally speaking. I don’t have an issue with the first, although I think it ignores reality to a remarkable degree.  But if the issue is carried over to the second it’s another matter.  If a group has a problem with talk about other issues, the proper way to handle it is for someone to take the so-called offender aside after the meeting, and gently explain the rule and why it exists (if they can).  That should be a policy arrived at by the group conscience, not an individual or the service office.  As AA puts it, “Our leaders are but trusted servants, they do not govern.”  [Emphasis mine.] Continue reading

The Built-in Forgetter

[I’ve been more-or-less absent from the blog for several months due to surgery in the family, among other things.  All’s well there, and with any luck I’ll be back to my regular lackadaisical posting.  Thanks for your patience.]

forgetterWhen we begin to “get on with our lives,” or “make up for lost time,” or study to become an addiction guru — whatever — we can easily drift away from our program.  We feel good, our finances are becoming something like organized, and we’re generally busy and entertained by the stuff of our lives.  We begin to think that we can handle it all.

The idea that we can somehow cure a chronic disease can be problematic and sometimes tragic.  People feel better so they stop taking the medications that got them that way.  We addicts stop taking care of ourselves in the ways that got us moving forward.  We get stressed, lose focus on what’s really important, and begin the slide toward relapse.

When that happens (assuming that we survive) many of us are ashamed to go to a meeting and admit that we messed up — the worst possible decision we can make.   We need to hit the brakes and return to the basics that brought our success to begin with, getting back on the path to sobriety with meetings, phone calls, fellowship, sponsor, Steps, meditation, daily inventory and so forth.  Relapse is part of addiction, and everyone at the meeting has been there or come terrifyingly close.  All we’re really doing is admitting to ourselves and other people that we’re no better than any other “bozo on the bus.”    

Why did we forget where we came from?  It’s because we are wired to forget pain.  We automatically push such memories aside, and that’s why we are able to get back on the horse, or deliver a second child, or drag ourselves up and dive back into the scrum on the field of life.  But those of us who made a habit of addictively suppressing pain in whatever way possible are even more likely to do it, and that’s why our “built-in forgetter” makes us so prone to backsliding.

Our programs are there to help us stay sane by keeping us in good spiritual, physical and emotional health.  We put them on the back burner at our peril.

Quote

‘We act as though Truth were something we could stuff in our pockets, something we could take out every once in awhile to show people “Here! This is it!” We forget that they will show us their slips of paper, with other Truths written upon them.’
~ Steve Hagen Roshi