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….
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 “Integrity”
In recovery, I believe, we tend to talk more about the things that can go wrong with our programs than about the things that indicate growth. I hear a dozen conversations or shares about how to spot relapse for every one about progress; about spotting things that are going right instead of wrong.
So I thought I’d write a couple of posts about ways we can take an inventory of our changes, new behaviors and general progress toward sobriety. Most of us know what alcoholic/addict behavior is, but how often do we think about signs of recovery? So here goes…
Continue reading “Recognizing Progress In Our Programs”
All addicts enter recovery out of isolation. Often that was our choice, because we didn’t feel that we had anything to offer others, or believed that we were contemptible in their eyes. When we did interact with others, we made sure that they only learned those things that we thought would disguise who we really were.
The only way we can overcome our habit of withdrawing from others is to practice. We do that in little ways — a phone call, a conversation after a meeting. Gradually we get the courage to open up, testing the other person’s reliability and developing the trust we need to allow them to know us. In doing so, we learn about ourselves and our truths.
We think of Truth in broad terms, as the truth of ideas, philosophies, belief systems and the like. Many thinkers, priests, shamans and charlatans over the centuries have laid claim to the Ultimate Truth, but we aren’t speaking here of a concept that is at best ephemeral. There are other truths, much closer to our lives, our recovery and happiness: a caress, a secret shared, an apology, forgiveness, delight.
Being truthful, in this sense, is being genuine — letting the other know who we really are. Shared concerns and fears, the beauty of a flower, mutual appreciation of a good book all give us glimpses into the heart of the other person. Knowing another person in that way is close to being the most genuine and intimate truth of all, but the greatest is that of who we are — not as perceived by others, but by ourselves.
One of the main reasons we have problems in early recovery is our inability to be open and honest with others. Most of us have spent a good part of our lives hiding one truth or another from the people around us. Telling the truth about our addictive behavior would endanger it, and we protect our addictions with everything we’ve got. We convince ourselves that no one knows what’s going on (wrong, in most cases) and that as long as we can keep them in the dark about our activities we can keep using and be okay.
But there’s another, deeper reason why most of us kept secrets: Continue reading “Being Vulnerable”
Addiction is all about secrets. By the same token, recovery is about letting sunshine and fresh air into the hidden corners of our souls. In addiction we build ourselves a little fantasy world, a totally imaginary place where we go to hide when we act out.
It doesn’t matter if we are alcoholics who seek solace and solitude in a bottle, food addicts who attempt to control our little world by controlling our bodies, shopping addicts who imagine that if we only have that one special thing we’ll be happy, or sex addicts who search for love and solace in porn, online chat rooms or massage parlors. However we set up these magical places in our lives, we do so in secrecy. Even if we brag about how much we can (insert behavior here), we don’t want others to know how important acting out is to us, or exactly what we do. We don’t want to admit that we are trapped.
Continue reading “As Sick As Our Secrets?”
Masque [mask, mahsk]: a form of aristocratic entertainment
in the16th and 17th Centuries…elaborate productions
delivered by amateur and professional actors.
Addicts are actors. We hesitate to reveal who we really are because we are ashamed, and we develop an act that we perform for the rest of the world. Friends and family think they know who we are, and initially it may be that a bit of the “real” us peeks through, but addiction changes that. Every addict is an actor, and we each star in our own masque. The difference is that actors are most proficient at the ends of their careers; we aren’t.
As our addictions progress and we become more enmeshed with the substance or behavior, the circumstances force our masks to harden. We become secretive to protect our addictions, and often try to hide it with “sincerity” or grandiose gestures. We make up legends to explain who we are, and why we behave a certain way. As we do so, we draw farther and farther away from everyone else’s reality, and into a world of our own. Rarely does the sun shine in, and neither do we shine out.
Continue reading “The Iron Masque”