A journey to embrace, explore, and honor the Freedom and Power inherent in active recovery.

No more shame...

No more shackles....

No more secrets.

The path--and the Power--are within. Be Free.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Hand-Me-Down Program

In the effort to find an easier, softer way, I actually used groups
like the 12 Steps Programs in that capacity. Trying to make what others
said worked fit into my life. Listening to the words that others swore by.
Following the men and women who said they had answers I, too, could
partake of.

But it wasn't a one-size-fits-all. How could it be? We are each of us
unique and wondrous. One person's answer cannot fit everyone, and as
I learned the hard way, forcing it doesn't make it fit any better.

Yeah, I used the dreaded U word. Uniqueness, like ego and selfishness,
is not a dirty word. It gets a bad rap in program, but that doesn't
make it so. Like any word, like any concept, it can be taken to an
extreme of toxic use. In and of itself though, it's a beautiful thing.

Much like our lives, it simply is. What we do with it makes all the difference.

When I tried to emulate others, I wound up with a life that was not my
own. When I followed others, I ended up in a place I did not belong.
When I trusted others instead of myself, I found answers that didn't fit my
problems. There is a blessing to being alone on the journey. No one else can
determine who we are or where we are going. No matter what their experience
or level of smarts. Some things just aren't ours to know; other people fit into
that category.

No matter how well-intentioned, "Follow me" has a dastardly insidious ring to it.

That old alcoholic standby, The Ego, is at heart of wanting to lead and mold and
tell others how to be. That isn't something for instruction. It's something for
discovery. Maybe some are content to be the lesser being in a codependent dance
of sickies, but I have other needs.

Even if no other knows them or understands them, I respect and answer to my

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I've never been good at boundaries.

Not at knowing where mine begin and end, where another's
begin and end, not knowing what an appropriate design
for levels of overlapping is, etc. None of it.

When you don't experience the proper examples, and
your desires are also based on neurosis and dysfunction, how
do you dope out what 'healthy' is, running amok in a world
with other folks devoid of same?

I know I am responsible for self. No matter what.
And others are responsible for themselves, too. Going through\
rough things somewhat alone is a cornerstone of self-discovery
and learning.

But how do you tell when someone really needs help?
When you should put aside pride and defense and go
the extra mile actively pursuing someone with kindness,
even as they blow you off and put up walls? I know
from personal experience that such machinations are a
tool based of fear; when I actually needed help the most
is when I growled the worst.

But I'm codependent, too, and I worry over making myself
a doormat once more for those who don't value, respect, or
care for me a fraction of what I do them.

And then I think "Well, you don't actually know what's in
anyone's head. Who are you to assume and determine."

And then I wonder if I'm spiritually deficient. Would a
great figure worry over how they were received, or simply
do the Right Thing in all circumstances, and let the chips fall
where they may? "Be thought a fool. Give too much. Love too
greatly. Just do it."

And then I remember that I have a history of being taken
advantage of, and it is possible to give too much of yourself
away. I invoke my inner warrior and say "Every man for
themselves. I have to cover my own ass before I can even
think about doing the same for another. That's not pride, it's

And then my head explodes from all the quick changes and
spinning and personality clashes.

It's a work in progress. I'm trying my best to figure what is best
for me and find healthy balance.

But then I remember the beautiful blessed souls I have known that,
for whatever reasons, found themselves at that fateful point where
they were all alone. That they didn't feel connected enough to press
on, or, more importantly, to reach out for help. To ask for someone
to love them enough before they ended their lives.

I can't help but wonder what I could have done more to let them
know in time that they were loved. What action would have been
enough? What word would have made a difference? Were the clues
there? Was I too selfish or busy to notice?

People have to figure things out for themselves, but how do we know
when it's time to make a nuisance of ourselves, and ignore the signals
we're being sent? How much is my responsibility? How much is theirs?

And in times of war and extreme emotional turmoil, do the normal
rules still apply?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Taking a breath

So I've been kind of 'rode hard and put up wet'
the last several weeks. Lots of blessings, and lots
of burdens, and it's been a lot of up-and-down
as a result.  The usual.

This week, health hasn't been great at all, which
weighs on me, and adding to that has been my Mom
going in for heart surgery.

Last night, late, I finally spoke to her and she was
not doing well. For her to say she's unable to talk
because she's not having a good night, that's a big
deal. She puts on a strong front. But she sounded very
weak and was a scary night.

I have the date of May 25th looming overhead for
me, too. It was the date of my sobriety until I foolishly
went back out last year, and the celebration for
another in recovery has been announced lately.

I 'should' be a big enough, good enough, strong
enough person that I can just breeze past it and go
to the celebration and wish him well and be humble.
But there is a horrible mix of embarrassment and pain
and memory involved for me. I also know that I will
need to talk that night. I need to have someone in place
to listen.

I have other emotional attachments to the date that
I have not yet mastered. I feel quite a bit of anxiety
regarding the night, and I had considered many
options of what I might do to keep myself occupied
and distracted.

I settled on making myself be around others
so that I could put a positive spin on things.
Celebrate the night in a personal way, and change
the old. I really need to not be alone.

I had a lot of trouble sitting through a meeting last night
but I realized I need to work through that sort of thing.
My disconnectedness, my separateness, my emotional
insecurities....I have to do something to face and tame it.

So I decided to ask if I could hold a special meeting
at our clubhouse on the same night as the big birthday
party, giving a space for me to be safe and a space for
others who might want to attend a discussion group.
I have specifically asked several friends to attend to
support me, and of course it's open to any who need to go.

But already the drama had begun. The questioning as to
why and what and how and the policing of a casual event
that only just crystallized. I really want to say "Either come or
don't come. Problem solved." Why does everything have to
become insanity-based.

All I want is a place to stay sober and sane and connected
for one night. I imagine it will happen exactly like that. I am
trusting that it will. But right now, with everything else on my
mind, the undue drama and conflict are irritating the living
shit out of me.

And that's on me. I have to work on myself and just be
content and whole and not tuned in to what's going on
around me or in others. Let it be. That's really hard for me.

When all this starts I really just want to pick up my marbles
and go home. Just toss it all aside. But that ain't it. I have
something to offer, I have a right to have my needs met too,
and I have to find the delicate balance between being a
doormat and being dominating.

It's hard for me to want to have anything to do with people
at all. 90% of the time I'm content to be by myself to avoid
all the horseshit all together. But I want to be capable and
learn better ways.

Let me be at peace with what others do while not giving
up my ability to prosper. I deserve my own happiness and
well-being. There's more than one way to recover.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Value of the Unseen

Is the truth always best? Can we even
know the difference between truth and
perception? Likely not.

Some days, the fake smiles and the
false pretenses and the stupid upbeat
phrases may seem like the bitter stem
of a delusional dam barely maintaining
the flood waters of despair and

I guess that beats the alternative.

It's hard to let down the guard of only
relying on what we feel is real and

Today, let my prideful brainiac self
not cast smug denouncement on the
simple joys of letting things be okay
just as they are....of giving faith a chance....
of putting off crazy for just one more day.

Maybe I can finally learn the value of
the essential intangibles like Hope, Mercy,
Love, Faith, and Prayer.

Today, let effort and desire be enough
to carry me through. Good days will
come back around. Let me hold fast to
that truth while things are bleak.

Let me see the value of ideals and 'pretenses.'
Today I give circumspection, cynicism, and
criticism a much-needed break.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Heart of the matter

There's no road map, and maybe it's best that way.

We don't choose who we fall in love with, but we
still have the option of choosing whom we love.

The heart wants what it wants, but the brain is
the organ that controls what we do with that
visceral urging. Character is made by our choices.

A desire is not a dictate...we can choose to be as
happy or as miserable as we wish. People have
been living lush, glorious lives--long after a heart
breaks--for centuries. We have what it takes to survive.

We are the architects of our own demises, over
and over again.

We build walls to keep others at bay; we find ways to
feel superior and thus buffer ourselves, we create
barriers with silence and refusals to share, we build
constructs and emit energies that make us seem

We like control and managing over integrating and
We prefer being in charge to giving others their chance.
We maintain self-sufficiency, when another may need
to feel useful and be helpful.
We like the appearance of being well off and having it
together, but we exclude ourselves from open healing
by keeping our wounds covered.

We sabotage and push away and miss opportunities.
We wait for others to act. We hold on to past hurts.
We keep quiet rather than risk showing emotion.
We guard ourselves instead of jumping headlong.
And then we feel lonely and curse the fates.

We have a hand in how the world develops.

"If you want more love, ask for it."
We are only as lonely as we choose to be.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Seen and Unseen

There's certainly a place in life for the stiff upper lip and
putting forth an impressive and hopeful attitude, regardless
of how accurate it may be.

But so many of us in recovery--especially in program-- become
obsessed with keeping up appearances that we fail ourselves
and others.

Maintaining a particular image at all costs IS addictive and
sick behavior. If we are focused on convincing others how
well we are, especially when we aren't, we are isolating
ourselves from true interaction with others.(Yes, you can
spiritually and emotionally isolate while in a crowded room.)

We have an obligation to seek, reach out, and ask for the
help we need, especially in a time of crisis.

We also have an obligation to our fellow travellers to share
our hurts just as readily as we share our advice, support,
and good moods. When we let struggling people know that we
have worries and troubles, too--in the present day, real, active,
alive--we allow them to better connect to our humanity.

We cease being an approachable stalwart and start becoming
a regular person. No pretenses. No separation. No baloney.
People need to know that recovery isn't all sunshine and roses,
in order to understand that when they feel their despair and doubt
it is entirely natural.

We will never know others fully. It's impossible. We aren't meant
to know everything. But if, as people in recovery, we can't make
strides to place more balance between the reality within us and
the self we project to the world, everyone's sobriety is in

Open, honest and willing is easy to say, but oh-so hard to live.