Category Archives: Emotional Sobriety

FORGIVENESS

In his book “Is Human Forgiveness Possible?” Theologian John Patton examines the New Testament story, in which Peter asks Jesus of Nazareth of forgiveness:

“Lord, when my brother wrongs me, how often must I forgive him? Seven times?” And Jesus answers: “No, not seven times; I say seventy times seven times.” (Matt. 18:21–22)

Patton comments: Peter’s question seems to say, “Please give me a rule so I don’t have to keep dealing with this. How can I know when enough is enough? I want to know what to do instead of having to come to terms with the history of our relationship.” Jesus’ response to the question says in effect, “I am unwilling to give you a way out of a continuing relationship to your brother.”

For the opposite of “resentment” is forgiveness, recognized by centuries of spiritual thinkers as “the endpoint of human life.” Forgiveness is “given,” and not only in English; the French say “par-downer,” the Spanish “per-donar.” That is because, in the words of D. M. Dooling, a student of mythic spirituality: “Forgiveness belongs to the divine. It is God’s act: something other, something that is not ours; and unless we can acknowledge this, the word is only ‘a noise we make with our mouths.’ ”

What became clear to me from this exchange was the following:
When I am making an amends it is not forgiveness that I am seeking, but the act of doing what is right and cleaning my side of the street. If the other person chooses to forgive me, that is a bonus. Forgiveness ultimately is between my Higher Power and me. Just like a wrong I perceive to have been committed against me; I may forgive it, but the real forgiveness is not up to me. It is between the Power of the Universe and the transgressor.

Forgiveness is not ours to give, but ours to receive. We cannot create it; we can be certain only that it is beyond us, in the sense of beyond our control, beyond our ability to will it into existence.

Excerpt From: Ernest Kurtz & Katherine Ketcham. “The Spirituality of Imperfection.”

FORGIVENESS

In his book “Is Human Forgiveness Possible?” Theologian John Patton examines the New Testament story in which Peter asks Jesus of Nazareth, “Lord, when my brother wrongs me, how often must I forgive him? Seven times?” And Jesus answers: “No, not seven times; I say seventy times seven times.” (Matt. 18:21–22)

Patton comments: Peter’s question seems to say, “Please give me a rule so I don’t have to keep dealing with this. How can I know when enough is enough? I want to know what to do instead of having to come to terms with the whole history of our relationship.” Jesus’ response to the question says in effect, “I am unwilling to give you a way out of a continuing relationship to your brother.”

For the opposite of “resentment” is forgiveness, recognized by centuries of spiritual thinkers as “the endpoint of human life.” Forgiveness is “given,” and not only in English; the French say “par-downer,” the Spanish “per-donar.” That is because, in the words of D. M. Dooling, a student of mythic spirituality: “Forgiveness belongs to the divine. It is God’s act: something other, something that is not ours; and unless we can acknowledge this, the word is only ‘a noise we make with our mouths.’ ”

Forgiveness is not ours to give, but ours to receive. We cannot create it; we can be certain only that it is beyond us, in the sense of beyond our control, beyond our ability to will it into existence.

Excerpt From: Ernest Kurtz & Katherine Ketcham. “The Spirituality of Imperfection

Resentment and Anger

“A former inmate of a Nazi concentration camp was visiting a friend who had shared the ordeal with him.
“Have you forgiven the Nazis?” he asked his friend.
“Yes.”
“Well, I haven’t. I’m still consumed with hatred for them.”
“In that case,” said his friend gently, “they still have you in prison.”

Resentment is the poison of the spiritual life. The word means, literally, “feeling again,” in the sense of “feeling backward”: the emphasis is on a clinging to the past; a harping on it that becomes mired in it. Resentment goes over and over an old injury: revisiting the hurt, the powerlessness, the rage, the fear, the feeling of being wronged. Scraping the scab off the wound, resentment relishes anew its pain; it is the particular kind of memory that reinforces the vision of self-as-victim. This vision is the antithesis of spirituality, for spirituality begins with recognition of our own imperfection. Focusing on the past faults and failings of others blinds us to reality of our own present defects and shortcomings.

It was this peril—the danger of cutting ourselves off from the spiritual resources that offer the only possible healing of our own imperfection—which the desert genius Ponticus cautioned against in explaining the proper use of anger. He noted that resentment—clinging to misdirected anger—stifled spiritual life by stealing the very tools of virtue:

We need to reclaim anger for its proper purpose. It is always a waste of good anger to get annoyed with other human beings…. What the ascetic needs to do is to focus his attention … on the fact that he is annoyed. Instead of seeing some other human being angrily, he tries to see his own anger. He can then begin to fight against it.

Anger can be an important part of the process, the journey that is the construction and discovery of our spiritual home. But resentment has capacity to stop that process, to abort that journey. The anger that metamorphoses into resentment isolates us, creating the illusion that the world has stopped in its tracks and has come to focus entirely upon our hurts, our desires, our victimhood. In resentment there is no chance of release but only imprisonment in a painful past and the gradual stifling of all serenity, indeed, of all humanity. “If a man removes his bitterness, he becomes human; otherwise he becomes an animal,” observed one Sufi teacher”

Resentment unites anger, fear, and sadness in a kind of closed-circle, scissors-paper-rock game. In absence of resentment, anger, fear, and sadness tend to heal each other. Anger can act like a scissors, cutting through fear—the fear that like an enveloping shroud wraps itself around and threatens to smother the rock that is sadness. But that very sadness, which rises from realization of our own transience and the ultimate futility of our human efforts to control, is the only tool we have to blunt anger—to forestall the resentment that anger becomes if nourished even after our fears have been quelled.

Excerpt From: Ernest Kurtz & Katherine Ketcham. “The Spirituality of Imperfection.”

Anger, Anxiety, Resentment, Stress and Basic Humanity

by Steven Stosny, Ph. D.
Anger In The Entitlement Age

After 30 years of work on problems of anger, resentment, anxiety, and stress, and half a dozen books on the subject, I still get sarcastic emails:
“I want to manage anger, anxiety, and stress, but I’m not interested in becoming a ‘better person’.”
Let me be very clear. Your chances of consistently managing anger, anxiety, resentment, and stress, without becoming a better person, are practically zero.
By the time we’re adults, most anger, resentment, anxiety, and reactions to stress are conditioned responses, usually caused by precipitous drops in self-value. That is, we feel devalued. To change conditioned responses, we must develop new conditioned responses, for example, conditioning behaviors that raise self-value to occur automatically when self-value declines. CompassionPower has techniques that, with practice, will build more beneficial conditioned responses. However, those won’t be enough. The only significant and lasting improvement in life and relationships results from becoming “a better person.” We become better persons by staying in touch with basic humanity, the survival-based capacity for interest in the well-being of others.
Basic Humanity and Survival of the Species
Early humans could not have survived competition from more plentiful and powerful predators without banding together in emotionally-bonded social units to defend and hunt collectively. Small, emotionally-bonded, cooperative communities became the natural order of human social organization. We’re so dependent on the consideration and cooperation of others that we condemn even minor deviations from them by other people, while ignoring or rationalizing our own lapse of compassion and cooperation. The “out-group” phenomenon, instrumental in racism, rises from the fear that “they” won’t be compassionate or cooperative.
Basic Humanity as Motivation
More important as a motivation than a feeling, basic humanity motivates respectful, helpful, valuing, nurturing, protective, and altruistic behaviors. In adversity it motivates sacrifice. In emergency it motivates rescue.
A Condition for Personal Growth
Basic humanity allows us to grow beyond the limitations of personal experience and prejudice. If out of touch with basic humanity for too long, we become locked in a prison of the self. The sense of self grows fragile, in constant need of validation by others, intolerant of differences, resentful, anxious, or angry. Other people matter only to the extent that they validate our (inherently biased) experience. We feel less humane.
In touch with basic humanity, we become smarter about the world around us and our relationship to it. There’s an intrinsic reward for this increase in vision; the more in touch with basic humanity, the more humane we feel.
The Prominent Emotions of Basic Humanity
Compassion – motivation to help relieve pain, suffering, discomfort, or hardship.
Kindness – motivation to help others be well.
Guilt – motivation to be true to personal values and community standards.
Shame – motivation to succeed or compensate.
Anxiety – motivation to avoid exposure to guilt or shame.
Violations of basic humanity automatically stimulate guilt, shame, or anxiety, to motivate humane behavior. But that natural motivation is subverted by the toddler coping mechanisms:
Blame, denial, avoidance.
Yes, these ways of coping begin in toddlerhood. Ask a two-year-old how the toy came to be broken, you’ll likely hear:
“He/she did it.” Or, “I don’t know.” Or the kid is preoccupied, ignoring you, or hiding.
Toddler coping mechanisms invoke the anger-resentment formula:
Anger = vulnerable feeling (guilt, shame, anxiety, sadness) + blame
Resentment = vulnerable feeling + blame, denial, or avoidance.
Blame, denial, and avoidance cut us off from basic humanity, which is why, to consistently manage anger, resentment, anxiety, and stress, we must become better persons.
The Modern Paradox of Basic Humanity
In general, cultures are more humane now than ever before in human history. (For example, see Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.) So why is it so hard for individuals to stay in touch with basic humanity?
The answer is simple: there are so many of us, and we’re all different. Basic humanity is easier for individuals to maintain in smaller communities of people who seem to be alike. The mammalian brain, a better safe-than-sorry organism, distrusts differences. The human bias is to distrust people who look different, believe different things, have different values. Yet our lives are clearly enriched by differences; sameness is boring, while appreciation of differences yields intellectual, emotional, and spiritual growth.
How to Maintain Basic Humanity in Diverse Cultures
• Accept the complexity of human beings. When you’re sure you understand someone, you’re most likely oversimplifying, based on superficial observations through inherently biased lenses.
• Appreciate as many differences as you can; tolerate the ones you can’t appreciate.
• Focus on categories of values rather than specific values.
We tend to make invidious, largely error-prone judgments about people whose values are different. To obviate this unfortunate tendency, we must appreciate what we share with most others, value categories. The major value categories, which anthropological evidence suggests have been important to humans since our earliest time on the planet, are:
• The ability to form and maintain emotional bonds
• A sense of spirituality (desire for connection with something larger than the self)
• A sense of community (identification with or connection to a group of people)
• Appreciation of natural and creative beauty.
What makes me like myself better?
In general, feelings are not a good guide for becoming a better person, as they are always derived from past experience and acting on them runs the risk of repeating the same mistakes over and over. An exception lies in which behaviors or attitudes produce more positive feelings about the self.
Will I like myself better focused on:
How my values differ from someone else’s?
How the categories of our values are similar?
Do I like myself better:
When I’m devaluing other people?
When I’m in touch with basic humanity?

About the Author

Steven Stosny, Ph.D., treats people for anger and relationship problems. His recent books include How to Improve your Marriage without Talking about It and Love Without Hurt.

In Print:
Soar Above: How to Use the Most Profound Part of Your Brain Under Any Kind of Stress

Online:
Compassion Power

Website Link:
https://www-psychologytoday-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/www.psychologytoday.com/blog/anger-in-the-age-entitlement/201708/anger-anxiety-resentment-stress-and-basic-humanity?amp

Self Compassion-Heal Yourself

by Kristin Meekhof* EDITED
After a loss in your life because of death, a breakup or even giving up your addiction there is pain. Your level, including anxiety, may actually increase as time passes because you are coming to terms with all that is broken. Unfortunately, a reboot isn’t available. The life you once had no longer exists. It is important to feel self compassion – heal yourself.
In understanding grief or loss, it is important to understand that healing doesn’t occur in one fell swoop. For some, there is much that waits to be healed. In addition, it is not unusual to feel anxiety, fear, doubt, anger and frustration. When working with these feelings associated with loss, practicing self compassion can assuage some of the emotional pain. For the purpose of this piece, I am defining self compassion as this: the act of practicing loving kindness both in words and actions with the intent to heal one’s pain.
Five Ways To Practice Self Compassion After Loss:
1. Journal Writing: This technique allows you to become transparent with yourself and show your deepest fears. It is difficult to heal that which you hide from yourself. Keeping a journal allows you to write the unspeakable. When you look over your journal entries, see the words you use to describe yourself. Take notice if you are overly critical with yourself.
2. Soften The Critical Inner Voice: Speaking to yourself with a harsh and cruel tone shapes the way you think and feel. Your grief can be overwhelming at times, so be gentle with your words. You don’t heal any faster with negative thinking.
3. Forgive Yourself: Mistakes both big and small happen. Beating yourself up isn’t going to change the past or help you cope better. And if you can’t forgive yourself for everything, then try with a small piece and forgive yourself for this.
4. Make Modifications: After a loss, you are not 100 percent. Instead of trying to do everything as you did before, go ahead and make small changes to your daily tasks and schedule. For example, you may still go to a work event, but instead of being the last one to leave you decide to leave early. It is okay to make other adjustments as well. You may not have the energy to clean your entire home at once, so you decide to break it down into small tasks and do it over a period.
5. Reach out: Grief is not a D.I.Y (do-it-yourself) situation. This means that you may need to swallow your pride and ask for help with plumbing, childcare. While you might think others should be at your doorstep volunteering to pitch in, this may not happen. Asking for help can save you a great deal of extra stress and frustration. You may also need to seek professional mental health treatment to help you cope with your bereavement.
Remember that practicing self compassion isn’t natural post loss. Unfortunately, there is not a set time frame for recovery. Your life sustained a severe complex fracture. Give yourself permission to be sympathetic to your own pain. Give yourself grace.

Self Worth


Author Unknown

I used to believe I was not worthy of happiness. I believed the first person that told me that. It became a subconscious mantra to myself. It defined the young woman I was I hid behind a mask pretending I was in control and I was “OK”. I ran from even looking at myself in the mirror because I had defined myself as less than. It was one of the most exhausting, debilitating, saddest times in my life. Using and drinking made me feel numb and gave me liquid courage, which was actually more, fear and pain. I didn’t know it at the time I just thought it was a fast and easy remedy. It was until it almost became my demise. It was then I decided I could no longer feel this way again. I didn’t know if I could recover but I had never gave it a true shot. I was truly scared to find out who I was. The REAL ME!. I must wholeheartedly say I’m grateful not only that I have given myself a chance at a beautiful life but I too was beautiful with every imperfection. I forgave my pain and what wreckage that came with. We all deserve to recover! I’m recovering and I’m the Best person I can be in a daily basis. Not perfect but better than yesterday

All Humans Unalienable Rights

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

I have the right to be treated with respect.
I have the right to say no and not feel guilty.
I have the right to feel and express my feelings.
I have the right to change my mind.
I have the right to ask for what I want.
I have the right to express myself openly without concern for my well-being.
I have the right to move freely within my country not causing harm to others.
I have the right toattitudeiseverything make decisions concerning my health and my body.
I have the right to feel good about myself.
I have the right to behave in ways that promote my dignity, self-respect and self esteem as long as others are not violated or impacted negatively.

Thank You

“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”
Meister Eckhardt

Some of us are more delusional than others, but delusion and grandiosity are commonly present in most alcoholics. My life was centered on perfection and the projection that I was always right. Saying or expressing thank you never crossed my mind. This wasn’t a compulsive disorder as much as it was arrogance and self-centeredness.

“Selfishness — self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. 
Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, 
we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. Sometimes
they hurt us seemingly without provocation, but we invariably find that
at some time in the past we have made decisions based on self
which later placed us in a position to be hurt.” Big Book

Several years ago a company recruited me to be its COO. It was an industry I was well acquainted with and the job came with a major increase in pay and responsibility. In my mind it was about time I was to be rewarded for my talents. This was while I was still a sober drunk without a program, steps or recovery.

It didn’t take long for me to alienate most of the employees and cause serious regrets by the owner of the company. My deluded self-absorption convinced me that I was doing a phenomenal job. I exposed company theft, poor decisions by ownership and a total lack of controls. I also did not waste any time letting everyone know how incompetent they had been and what actions we had to take to correct these poor decisions. Of course without any regard for the people I offended or feelings for them.

It took about six months for them tell me my services were no longer needed and I was dismissed. I left with resentments, anger, dishonesty and self-centered righteousness. I had been wronged and told everyone who would listen. Within six more months I was drinking again; much worse than before.

Within another six months I had crashed and burned. I crawled back into AA searching for an answer to the fear that if I drank again I would surely die.

Willingness to be teachable led me to a new path of recovery and a beginning to build a new life and a new mind. The 12 Steps, a sponsor and the unconditional love of people in the fellowship opened me to all the promises of AA.

I heard from one of my co-workers several months after I was dismissed that the owner of the company had remarked after I was gone that he had a God in his life and didn’t need another one.

Now it is time for me to do another 9th Step and make amends for the wreckage I caused with the people who gave me an opportunity that I destroyed. Thank God I learned how in the 12 Steps.

Finding The Right Sober Living House

Author Unknown

Sober living facilities are needed to provide a supporting and pro-active healthy transition, allowing you to leave the safety of rehab and enter a less-restrictive living environment while maintaining a focus on recovery. Residents enjoy a less structured atmosphere while developing the tools and skills to sustain sobriety in the “real world.”

While there are many sober living facilities in Florida, you need to make sure the home you choose offers the highest level of care, qualities, and features that support recovery. You should never commit to living at a sober living home without visiting and talking with the owners and residents.

Here are the top five qualities you’ll want to look for in a sober living house:

#1 FARR Certified Residence

Picking a FARR certified residence guarantees that you are in the best possible environment that is regulated with the highest standards. This is a critical decision that affects your recovery. You are faced with an overwhelming amount of decisions each day; many affect your sobriety. You need to know the sober living has a proven structure to assist and support recovery. That’s why it’s so important to find a sober living home that implements a higher level of care…it should also implement rules and regulations, such as mandated curfews and a zero-tolerance drug-free environment.

#2 Safety

Being in a safe environment is an absolute necessity. Look for things like; 24/7 staff, if the entire staff is trained in CPR, do they have an emergency kit in case of an overdose, and a protocol for emergencies. What steps and measures do they have to absolutely make sure there are no drugs or alcohol on the premises? Is there a zero tolerance for possession and use of alcohol and drugs? Check out and speak to the people currently living in a sober living facility. Ask them about the technology and safety measures used by the facility.

#3 Connecting Atmosphere

The camaraderie, atmosphere, mood, energy, and vibe at the sober living house with its current residents are very important. During your tour ask to speak with the current residents, they will be valuable in your decision to pick the right place for you. What types of activities are there to help you develop new skills; assistance with job search, better eating habits, health and fitness. Make sure you feel a positive vibe; your gut will tell you if it is the right place for you.

#4 Supports and Assists Recovery

A solid support system is crucial for anyone in recovery. 12 step recovery is not for everyone, however the sober living should have other actions on and off the property in place like; relapse prevention, AA, NA, and counseling to assist you in recovery. When evaluating a sober living support team, it’s important to find a staff that truly cares about you and your success…but you also want a staff that’s unafraid to enforce necessary rules and regulations.

Everyone’s recovery path is different and proceeds at different paces, however individualized recovery plans are essential for staying sober. The employees should be professional, and be there to keep you on the road to recovery. They should be encouraging 12 step, AA, NA meetings or a support system that fosters sobriety. There should also be some sort of drug testing policy in effect.

#5 Take Responsibility; Own It

Remember, you must own your sobriety. That means that you may not always like following rules and regulations like a curfew, structured events, meetings, etc. You must be willing to do the difficult things to maintain sobriety. The sober living home should challenge you to be able to make that step to be fully functional on your own.

 

Unholy Trinity – Fear, Anger & Guilt

By Marc Dunn
Fear, anger and guilt, the unholy trinity of emotions, are feelings that every addict seeks to alter. They dominated my life from the time of my earliest memories. It was those feelings that lead me on a path of reckless, selfish and dishonest seeking of substances to mask myself. It was the thoughts that I wasn’t good enough and needed to be better that blocked me from being.

Young boys grow up with a father or role model they seek approval from or they seek to emulate in order to become a “man” with all the characteristics that are deemed admirable and manly by society. The lack of this approval, the feeling of being less than, set me on a course that lead to addiction before I picked up my first drink.

Christianity and Judaism introduced the concept of God to me at an early age. It was natural for me to identify the first father figure in my life as being God like because of the teachings in our places of worship; all powerful, all knowing, supreme judge and benevolent or punishing. My first hand experience was that of an abusive stepfather. Consequently I felt early on in my life that there must be something wrong with me. How could the God-like figure in my life be wrong? It had to be that something was wrong with me.

The lack of self-esteem for me was enhanced by changing school districts every year and constantly being the new kid having to prove himself on the schoolyard and not equipped with the tools to succeed. I wanted to escape but didn’t find a route until my early teens when I was introduced to alcohol. In the interim my stepfather and boys my age constantly picked on me, beat me up and tortured me.

Years later when my stepfather was on his deathbed I confronted him about why he treated me this way. His answer was, “you were a willful child and somebody had to beat it out of you.” My answer was, “Really? That’s the way to correct a child? Fuck you!” That was the last interaction I had with him. It also gave me a good reason to get drunk.

The fear lead to anger with God because I would constantly pray for relief from the treatment I received and my prayers did not lessen the pain, Naturally the last of the emotions, guilt, grew because of my low self esteem and conviction that something was wrong with me.

My alcoholism progressed, as I grew older and resulted in suspension from the university, failed relationships with women, marriage and divorce, arrest, theft, near death escapes, many automobile accidents and escapades from reckless behavior.

My constant companion was fear of not having your approval or being found out, mainly that I wasn’t who I was pretending to be. As a young man it was important to me to appear to be fearless and full of bravado. I accumulated things that made me look good; attractive women, nice cars, expensive home and cash. It was all a grand delusion fueled by alcohol and drugs.

Drugs and alcohol were now my master and I found nothing wrong with the person I had become, totally unaware of the destruction I was causing along the way.

In the 70’s I had my own business in a small college town. Although I stayed way from the selling of substances, it was common for me to be close to those who did and insure my accessibility by brokering deals for others. It wasn’t only substances, my addictions crossed over to gambling and sex.

I owned a small business that catered to college students and the resident hippie population. One afternoon three guys came into the store who I had never seen before. It was strange that they were all very tall and after a few minutes of conversation the explanation was easy. They played basketball and were in town for a game that night. Basketball was big in the town, although our team was pretty average. A big turnout was expected for the game because the opponent was a rival and was favored to beat our home.

We were joking about the game, and then it happened. They asked if I could get them high. “Of course! No problem, “ I said. “Come back in an hour and we’ll go outside behind the store and smoke a joint”.

Friends of mine had connections with a bookmaker and we placed bets regularly on all sporting events. My addiction to gambling enhanced my “macho man” image.

As soon as the players left, I rolled a joint and went to one of my betting buddies to share the good news. We had a sure thing. One of the players was a starter. Once I got high with them, there was no way they could play a decent game that night. We bet 5 times our normal wager.

The guys returned about an hour later and I let them smoke most of the joint. They went back to join the team, completely stoned. They were carrying on about how good the shit was and they’d never been so high. I was on the phone as soon as the Bookmaker’s Office opened, made my bet and went to the game. It was insane; they couldn’t make a shot, missed passes and looked awful. We won.

Several factors were at play in my behavior: drug and gambling addiction as well the thrill of living on the edge and attention seeking. Self-centered attention seeking only rivaled my dishonesty. This was more than the youthful arrogance of immortality, there was an attitude of, “I don’t care about anyone but me and I’ll do whatever to get what I want.” It wasn’t really evil, but it was reckless and harmful to others and it made me feel like a real man. More delusional grandiosity.

Incidences such as this continued during my young adult life: arrests by the FBI (later dismissed by the courts), a divorce because of my infidelity and gambling, running a night club frequented by drug dealers and bookmakers, drunken misdeeds such as out running the police in a car chase and being thrown out of numerous bars for being too drunk. These were not accomplishments; they were the result of a total lack of self-awareness, and disregard for the safety or feelings of others.

Finally in my mid 30’s I felt the need to make a change, a combination of events: custody of my son, meeting a woman I wanted to spend my life with but probably more than anything I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. It wasn’t an epiphany or revelation as much as was my fear driving me. I married, bought a home and started a family. Only I hadn’t changed my behavior, I only masked it behind what looked like the ideal family. I began a horrendous chapter of stealing from those who loved me the most, my family. I stole their peace of mind.

The selfish, careless & dishonest behavior continued, sometimes sneakily in alleys or outside bars, other times under the guise of legitimacy in the driveway of my home. It wasn’t like I was always absent or didn’t properly interact with family and friends, but it was always on my terms with an eye toward the exit.

For the next twenty years alcohol became more important and lead to many misdeeds that jeopardized the family’s financial security and our physical safety as well. My need to be in charge and the man of the house was far more important than the needs of anyone else.

There was the verbal abuse I used to prove my superior manliness, and dangerous actions as displays of bravado. One episode involved me taking the family on a boating trip into the gulf that required us traversing a channel I had never done before with a lack of the required skills. The result was having to be rescued in the middle of a lightning storm after I luckily spotted a marina I managed to steer the boat to. My wife and kids were frightened, while I maintained everything was under control. More delusional grandiosity.

Finally I stopped drinking about 15 years ago, not because I wanted to, but the pressure from my wife and others was getting more intense. I had a couple of car accidents that were not exactly the direct result of being under the influence, but my decision making was based on appearances more than sound judgment. Looking good still dominated my thoughts.

I went to AA meetings for about 30 months. Most of the time I would burglarize the conversations of old-timers, repeating what I had hears them say as if it was what I had learned in recovery. Chairing and speaking at meetings like I was a big shot, never getting a sponsor, never reading the Big Book or doing the steps. I drank again, and went on a 6 months bender that finally brought me to my knees.

It was crashing my car in a blackout on the interstate in the middle of the afternoon that did it. The car was totaled, no one was hurt, no other cars were involved and somehow I walked away without being arrested for DUI. It was the last time I had a drink and it was the last time I stole peace of mind from my wife and children.

The next day I started my recovery from alcoholism searching for a healing of the mind, body and spirit; although I didn’t know it I was about to begin an internal search of my heart and spirit.

Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time. Some handle it by resolving their issues and allowing their feelings to pass. I had trouble moving past those feelings and seemed to linger there, where the danger of addiction came into play. The temporary and seemingly soothing nature of drugs and alcohol provided me some with the quick relief but they we never the answer to stress, depression, or anxiety.

I knew that I had never felt at home. I had never felt at home in my home. I had never felt at home in my religion. And for many months, I did not feel at home even in Alcoholics Anonymous. I had to learn that home is where the heart finds rest and renewal. That’s where coming home is.

I am far enough along in the journey now to be able to see that there is only one ultimate coming home, and that is the final, total, complete, surrender of self to a Power greater than myself. I’m also brave enough today to believe that there will come a day, there will be a place sometime, somewhere, someday, that I will probably in all likelihood completely be able to open my heart and express my feelings without fear. It comes now at times when I share at meetings, even when I engage with people outside the rooms, because I am comfortable and I don’t feel the fear of being found out. I have nothing to hide.
I am reminded of this exchange between two friends on a cattle drive from the book Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty;
“You’re so sure you’re right it doesn’t matter to you whether people talk to you at all. I’m glad I’ve been wrong enough to keep in practice.”
“Why would you want to keep in practice being wrong?”
Call asked. “I’d think it would be something you’d try to avoid.”
“You can’t avoid it, you’ve got to learn to handle it,” Augustus said. “If you come face to face with your own mis¬takes once or twice in your life it’s bound to be extra painful. I face mine every day-that way they ain’t usually much worse than a dry shave.”

The shortcomings and defects of character I confronted in my 4th and 5th Step allowed me an awareness of what is in my heart and in doing so helped me to understand that I am a human being, with feelings the same as all human beings and its okay. I had to let myself feel fear, anger and guilt, but not act out in such a way that would hurt others or myself. I learned to trust and love the Sunlight of the Spirit and make better choices and most importantly I didn’t have to be perfect. That perfection was not the measure of a man; honest admiration, love and respect of others and self are what make us men. We are all loved by our families and friends we just have to let them love us and love them in return.

My recovery is a narrow bridge, I am not afraid because I am not alone.