Embracing our Addiction

I was talking to a fellow this morning who was with the four horsemen: Terror, Bewilderment, Frustration, Despair. He had been sober for six months until Christmas and then decided to join the festivities. He now finds himself with no job, no home and few resources. It’s never his fault: someone else is always to blame for the soap opera that he’s living. It’s work, relationships or politics.  All fingers always point away from him. We’ve talked about program in the past, about rehab, but he’s always sure that he can do it on his own. He believes that his relationship with his Saviour will save him.  Only it doesn’t seem to be happening this way.

I’ve seen him repeat the process of sobering up, cleaning up, getting along okay for several month and then binging out of control until he comes to, one morning, realizing that they’re back again. I hope someday soon he’ll be ready to stop trying and start doing.  I’ve learned in recovery that I cannot give him my sobriety. I can only tell him my story and hope that he can relate to it enough to make changes for himself. We carry the message, not the mess.

How do we stop and stay stopped? I believe it is by embracing our addiction. I believe that what I resist in my life will persist. If I resist the changes in my life, I will be faced with lots of changes. If I resist conflict, I will be surrounded by conflict on all sides of me. If I resist anger, then people, places and things that I cannot control will be all that I see. I have to stop resisting these things and embrace them, accept them,  and ask myself what I can learn about them.

When I resist something I am putting my focus onto it. I resisted before I arrived at the meeting rooms. I told myself I could manage this, I could control it, I could function, I wasn’t living on the streets. I was focused on trying to prove to myself that I wasn’t one of those people. Only, of course, I was. Coming into the program of recovery I embraced my addiction: I accepted it as a part of me and I accepted that ‘I’ wasn’t able to do anything about it alone. I dropped my resistance and that allowed me to change my focus onto recovery, but first I had to realize that I needed recovery.

My buddy who is facing the Four Horsemen? He’s still resisting. He’s still focused on his disease and unable to admit he can’t control it; he’s trying to push his disease away. I hope that someday soon he will make the choice to accept and embrace his addiction. Once he does, I’m sure that he can leave behind the Terror, Bewilderment, Frustration and Despair that have been stalking him and find his own long-term serenity in recovery.

Peace my friend.


By the time we get to Step Twelve in the program of recovery, a lot will have changed in our lives. A lot changed in my life. I recently was reflecting on my life before and after that Gift Of Desperation that I had several years back. I thought my life was manageable. I thought I had things under control. I didn’t think anyone really knew how much I was using and that I was covering things up pretty well. Yeah…right…

Looking back on my life I can see now that somewhere along the line, my addiction became my “go-to” for dealing with things in life. If things went well, I celebrated. If things went wrong, I commiserated. All is good in the world? Time for a drink. There’s a threat of war? Time for a drink. The only way I dealt with anything was by either floating on the red sea of wine or jumping off to drown my sorrows. I had no other way of dealing with life any more. If I had used any other ways of dealing with life, they had been discarded somewhere along the way. And of course, I was only pretending that I was dealing with life. In reality, the world began ignoring me and moving on without my not so imperious presence.

Upon coming into recovery, I found that life was very difficult to deal with life. I no longer had my crutch. I had to learn or relearn what I was supposed to do. I listened at meetings. I read our literature. I talked to my sponsor and to other recovering members. Gradually I learned how to do simple things like say ‘No, thank you,’ and ‘I think I’m going home. Thanks for a nice evening.’ As time went on I learned that I can stand tall against tragedies as well as triumphs without falling back on my old stand-by. My thinking changed. I was no longer doing the same things that I used to do. I was facing life and managing.

This, for me, is the spiritual awakening that is talked about in Step Twelve. A change in my spirit, my response to life. It’s a change in mindset: a new approach to life. And it’s just an awakening: it doesn’t mean I’ve got it all figured out. I see a spiritual awakening in the same was as I look at waking up in the morning. When I first start to become conscious in the morning I slowly open my eyes, come to realize where I am. I get up, put the coffee on and maybe after that first coffee, I can say that I am awake. In the same way, I see a spiritual awakening as that first opening of the eyes in the morning. It will take a while before I am fully awake spiritually.  A few more cups of ‘spiritual’ coffee, if you will, before I am spiritually conscious. More will be revealed.

I am grateful.



Preparing for the Holidays

The upcoming holidays are often a difficult time for anyone.  Add being in recovery and it becomes more difficult.  If it’s your first time around, it can be overwhelming: parties, holidays, friends and plenty of temptations. And, of course, there’s nothing that can push our buttons more often than our own family. How can I have a  good time if I’m in recovery?

First of all, especially for someone who is new in the program, look for the book Living Sober. It is published by AA Services, but the advice is easily applicable to anyone in recovery from any addiction. The book has several chapters on how to stay clean and sober during the holidays and other events where we may find ourselves tempted.  If not this book, then there are others available that your homegroup can recommend to help you through those difficult first months.  The holidays are especially fraught with times where liquor is flowing in large quantities and when people step outside for a smoke, it may not be just tobacco that is burning.

Be prepared.  Drugs and alcohol permeate our society.  You can’t nor are you expected to hide yourself away forever from the world. If this is your first time going through a holiday season clean and sober, talk to your sponsor or a trusted friend in your program. Ask them how they made it through that first holiday season, ask them for suggestions and recommendations.  My sponsor does a lot of role playing so that his sponsees can get used to the language of sobriety as well as to the possible scenarios that may occur.

Perhaps we only go to part of a gathering and not stay until the end like we were likely to do in the past. Some fiestas we may want to miss all together because we know who will be attending and we know they may be a trigger for us. Bring along a friend you trust who knows your are in recovery. Have an escape plan to fall back upon if it is getting too difficult. It’s okay to admit there are times when we are weak. There is no shame is stepping back from the action. None of us is made of stone; in early sobriety we might not yet know our limits so we need not lead ourselves into temptation.

Like everything else in recovery, these events become easier to handle as time goes on. But everyone still has to maintain their guard. Keep an eye on your glass. Just recently I refused a soda at a party because it smelled a bit “off”. I’m sure it was fine, but I am not willing to take the chance. It was easy just to sent it down on a table and then talk with folks and casually leave it behind as I joined another circle of friends. My recovery is my number one priority. I won’t risk it to please a host. Fortunately, a good host won’t care if a guest doesn’t imbibe. You may even make new friends by becoming the designated driver.

Be careful during this season. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Peer pressure and family pressure may seem like a lot at the time, but it will alway lessen. If you don’t go to the company Christmas party, there’s always one next year when you will have more experience at living sober in party world. January will arrive and things will get back to normal again.

Enjoy the holidays clean and sober.christmas-2890410_960_720