The H.O.W. of Recovery

Walking through the door into a recovery meeting for the first time is very daunting. Anyone who has done it though, has made the realization that something has to change or life is going to get even worse. I am grateful for the support that I found in my recovery room and that I continue to find. I realized quite quickly that I really didn’t know ‘how’ to live.  Somewhere along the road of life I had mislaid my owner’s manual. Here I found one that works for me. However, it was, and still is up to me to take on the proper attitude if I am going to be successful in this endeavor: the H.O.W. of recovery.

Honesty, Open-mindedness and Willingness are what I need to cultivate if I am going to give recovery a fair test. If any one of these is missing I am severely limiting my chances of success in recovery.

Honesty for me is an integrity of person; that what I show to the world and what is inside of me is the same thing. No more lies. No more secrets. No more cover ups. It is being true to who I am, how I am and where I am. It’s a ‘what you see is what you get’ attitude.  For me, honest and humility are pretty much the same thing. It’s not being more than who I am or less than I am. It stating openly ‘this is me’. I let go of ego. This is me with these strengths and these weaknesses. I am no longer sugar coating or trying to impress. 

Open-mindedness is accepting that I don’t have all of the answers. It is saying that it’s not up to me to find all of the answers either. My way of life certainly isn’t the only way. And, if I am really being honest with myself, my way wasn’t working all that well, else why would I have ended up at the doors of a recovery meeting? I can listen to others. I can learn from them and their experiences. I can keep my mind open to other possibilities without automatically shutting down when I hear certain thoughts or ideas like prayer, mediation, spirituality. 

Willingness. I need to step out of my comfort zone and try something new. I need to put the effort into applying new habits and principles into my life. I must work, apply and live the twelve steps of the recovery program. I have to be willing to be patient as well, knowing that everything takes time. I was told if I put half the effort into my recovery that I did to keep myself loaded, I would be well on my way to a life that is happy, joyous and free. 

Honesty, open-mindedness and willingness are qualities that I continue to pursue in my recovery. It doesn’t end when I first finish the twelve steps or get my first year medallion. I continue to work and cultivate these qualities on a daily basis. It’s the moment that I think that I’ve ‘got it’ that I begin to lose it.

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The Power to Carry It Out.

Last post I wrote about knowing what my Higher Power’s will is for me. This post will address the second thing we are told to pray for in the Eleventh Step:  the power to carry out that will.

Just where do I get that power? I’d like to say that there’s an automatic line from heaven to me that pumps energy into my to do the will of my HP. But I can’t. It just doesn’t work that way. My Higher Power only does for me what I cannot do for myself, so if I can do it – it’s up to me.

When I came into the program, I believe that HP removed my obsession to use. I sure couldn’t do it myself. I had been trying for years to stop without much success. Suddenly I no longer had the urges and for me, that was a miraculous power. I was told that faith in a Higher Power does move mountains, but to bring along a shovel and a wheelbarrow. In other words, there are things that I have to put the work into. It takes time and it takes an effort forge a life that is truly happy, joyous and free. So where did I find the power to keep trudging the path of happy destiny?

I found power to do HP’s in my own past. If I could stay sober yesterday, then I could use that as encouragement for me to stay sober today. Gradually the days added up. I can still find self esteem and courage in the small successes to keep me going through today. I have been through separation, death, and broken bones in recovery, and I didn’t fall apart so the small victories, one day at a time, gave me power to get through the traumatic times. I admit that my mind sometimes throws my failure at me with full force. However, by developing the habit of looking for successes, I can find power even in the smallest ones. They encourage me.

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I found power in my recovery fellowship. I listened: at meetings, before meetings and at the coffee shop after meetings. Here were people who were doing the same thing  as I was and they were finding a path through difficulties. They were showing me what to do and sometimes, what not to do, by their example. Their experience became my valuable experience; even though it didn’t happen to me I could learn from their lessons. I needed and still do need my recovery family to help me through the difficult times that pass through everyone’s life at sometime or another.

I found power in the assistance of mentors in recovery. Sponsorship helped me to see on a person to person level how to go through the Twelve Steps of recovery. It allowed me to share things I wasn’t ready talk about with a group or perhaps weren’t appropriate for a meeting share. Having a sponsor helped me to see and celebrate those small successes, as well as the major ones.

Past successes, recovery fellowship and sponsors are also there to challenge us. If I am the same as I was yesterday, then I’m not growing. I believe that this is a program that requires growth and constant learning. The power I need to step out of my comfort zone and into unknown territory comes from knowing that I can face fears and walk courageously forward because others have done so before me. I know that I have the power to carry out my Higher Power’s will for me today.

 

The Heart and Soul of the Matter

“The mind is the last part of yourself to listen to. It thinks of everything you can lose. The heart thinks of everything you can give, and the soul thinks of everything you are.” Neale Donald Walsch

We all have that voice inside of us that we tend to ignore on a regular basis. I ‘know’ when I have done something I shouldn’t have done, that it goes against who I am trying to be, but I still do it.  Why? Because I think that if I don’t, I’ll be missing out on something or I can ‘get’ something by doing it. My mind is analytical and it looks for things to flow logically, it looks for patterns, it looks for cost-benefits. If my mind says I should do it, then I often do, regardless of what my heart and soul might say. I know this is true because most often I would give into the temptation of my addiction even when, at the time,  I was completely clean and sober. I wasn’t considering the negative consequences of taking a substance. I was allowing my mind focus on what I might miss out on rather than what probably would happen.

That’s probably why I was told that my thinking was no good when I came into recovery. It wasn’t trustworth. My mind could find a logical reason when it wanted to get loaded. E-VE-RY TIME! My addiction was my answer to my problems. That’s what my mind believed and why it won every time, until the last time.

I’m not quite sure why my heart and soul won out in the end. Graveyards, prisons and psych wards are full of those whose souls lost that battle. Call it a moment of clarity, gift of desperation, an open door that for some reason I espied being open and I walked through. I really don’t know why I’m living a life that’s happy, joyous and free and so many of my sisters and brothers are not. I do know that I have received a gift. And I intend to offer this gift to others because I know that by keeping it or trying to hold this gift to myself, I will lose it.

My mind, after seven years in recovery is now more conscious of what I would lose should I decide to return to my former way of life. My mind knows what happens to people who do. It’s seen, first hand, what happens. It knows that I am not an exception, that I would again head down that rabbit hole of addiction so fast it would make Alice think she’s having a hallucination.

I have had to train my mind to think in a different way. I continue to train it by working my program, by attending meetings, by doing service work. Step two told me in a nice way that I was insane when it said that a Power Greater than myself could restore me to sanity. And it has. I can trust more of what my mind has to tell me. However, I have learned to listen to my heart and soul because my mind can still try that trick: every once in a while my mind tells me that I’m missing out, that it would be okay, that this time it will be different.

So while in most areas sanity has returned, when it comes to addiction, I turn to my heart and soul. When the thought comes to mind that I can ‘try it’ this time, my heart and soul tell me through a very real feeling in the pit of my stomach that my thought are wrong. My heart reminds me that I have so much to share with others and my soul reminds me that I’m no longer that person I used to be. And for that, I am grateful.

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