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.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Loneliness' True Origins

Even as I have progressed with this last year in the
program of recovery, I have actually begun to feel more

My old friends don't understand or support who I am
becoming, which is of course a good indication that they
may not have been the truest of friends to begin with.
I think it's closer to the truth to say that all relationships
are fragile as hell, and with changes we see what people
are made of and what their commitment to us really is.

I get to feeling sad and hurt by people not calling and
checking on me, people not returning the level of affection
I have shown them, not being included in invitations, etc.

Whose fault is that? There are no promises on this planet.
No one has pledged themselves to me. There is no one
outside of me who is responsible for my happiness.

I have had to get honest with myself. I have an unnaturally
high neediness level of emotional gratification from OTHER

Part of my addictive personality, which not only includes
looking to outside sources for a fix, but includes a selfishness,
a sense of never having enough, a discomfort with being alone
in my own skin, hyper-sensitivity, woundedness, and much
more. As usual, most fault lies within me and my perceptions
and defects. (I am only speaking to myself here; not doing
the typical  thing of projecting criticism!)

For me, I have discovered that I have such a high standard
of need for others--my expectations for their loyalty/actions/
lovingness/devotion/etc are just outrageous...according to
how other people in the real world live! That was hard to
understand and hard to take. I have been living with my own
fantasy of hand-holding and communal living and being one
another's care-takers for so long, and now I find out that
real people just sort of peripherally have you in their life,
even when they do care about your welfare.

Even in a program of recovery, where we are ostensibly
committed to the care of one another, I must accept that
people have lives of their own, that I will not always connect
with another alcoholic, that there are time restraints and
geographic constraints and so forth, and sometimes we just
don't get what we need.

Perhaps most significant; when we look to other tragic
and flawed creatures to be our sources of hope and
inspiration, there's a good likelihood they may not be well
enough to provide it.

Sometimes it's also a matter of "Am I guilty of the same
things I complain about in others?"
When was the last time I called a particular person?
When was the last time I checked on someone I know is
prone to depression?
Is it a fair assessment of the entire situation?

Sometimes others do 'let us down' or treat us poorly, but
if we keep the level of involvement with others at a healthy
level, and have no expectations of them providing us with
anything, then we won't face such disappointments.

This has all been a difficult discovery, but I am adjusting. 
We are--as I see it--truly alone in this world. Other people
are a passing fancy, a distraction really, and that is neither
a burden or a despair; it simply is. It is my emotional
attachment to it that needs adjusting.

I grew up in a world of codependent love songs and
waiting for magical saviors to come in and hold hands
and save the day. That isn't reality. And part of my
recovery is coming to terms with reality and not needing
to drink over it. I can't change the world...only the way
I see it.

So, today, I view my loneliness (which is an emotional,
internal reaction to discontent, not a response to lack of
people) in very different ways. It is a personal problem
I must solve, not the failing of other people.
Not the inability of others to love me 'adequately.'
Not people 'disrespecting' me with insufficient phone
calls or attention or other availability.

As usual, I need to take responsibility, stop pointing
a finger, stop expecting, stop avoiding unpleasant feelings,
and let go of my old thinking.

Because the alternative to not accepting things the
way they are is that I am one step closer to a depression
and/or a drunk.

Sorry...I'm in a bit of a snit today myself. Didn't intend
to get so dreary. "Take what you like and leave the rest!"

Insides Vs. Outsides

October 20
The Inside Story
The only true measure of success is happiness. -Anonymous
One of the most difficult things I have ever had to do was to walk into the college class that I was co-teaching and inform the students that our senior instructor had committed suicide. My task was especially onerous in light of the fact that the course was a self improvement class for adults who were seeking motivation to get back into the job market. Dr. Doughty was a brilliant, personable, and vital man who had won the respect and appreciation of many; no one had any clue that he was so unhappy that he would take his own life.
The face that many successful people present to the world is a facade. Behind the smiles, charm, and bravado of many famous and admired people, there lies great emptiness and pain. It is only when there is a tragedy such as a suicide, a violent crime, or a painful divorce that their inner life becomes obvious to the world.
Do not be fooled by appearances. The presentations of the world are deceptive. Many people in my seminars have described the glamorous lives they lived as successful business people or entertainers, followed by horror stories of how they were dying inside.
If you are smiling at the world but crying inside, you must begin to tell the truth about your experience. Share your real feelings with a friend or counselor, and make a commitment that you will not settle for a double life. Pray to be released from any activities that dishonor your spirit or your integrity.
Seek the company of people who are genuinely happy. The happiest are those who have nothing to prove or protect. I thoroughly enjoy "what you see is what you get" people. God created each of us in magnificent beauty. Every human being has enormous gifts to share and bless the world, if we will only be who we are instead of who we are supposed to be. Just be yourself.
I want to live from my heart. Help me to be me, without hiding or protection.
What I am is good enough.
This meditation is an excerpt from Alan Cohen's meditation book, A Deep Breath of Life.
Also available through the "In The Rooms" website.

Names Can Definitely Hurt Me

How we speak and think about ourselves cements
a concept of our identity in our minds and hearts.
Speaking derogatorily sets us up to continue to think
of ourselves are derogatory.

I can appreciate the need for some people coming
into a program (or any avenue of recovery) to
need to identify their problem with alcohol for the
necessary step of becoming clear and taking
responsibility. Admitting that you have a problem
is always a starting point for getting help, and
with alcohol addiction, denial is a huge obstacle.

But the attitude we hold about our personhood is
affected by negative connotations. Not only does the
'outside world' have a major hate-on for the worth
of the average alcoholic, but the group itself takes
the malady and makes it a power that can never be
shaken. That sets us up for a fall, too.

But back to words' impact.
Words reflect possibility and hope, or they reflect
rigid limitations and negativity. We all choose words
very carefully...or at least we should. Our minds dictate
what we do and say and feel, so the intention and
consciousness of every choice is significant.

Every time we state a belief, we make it a reality.
We maintain every nuance of our own realm with
every thought and feeling we substantiate. So to
reinforce the idea of being forever linked to a drug,
as well as the negative connotation that goes along
with it, helps to destroy one's esteem.

I hear people in 12 Step refer to themselves as
'just another drunk' or a 'worthless alcoholic' or
'an alcoholic whose problem is (fill in their name.)'
These are all very dramatic ways of keeping the
focus on their associated disease, but it crushes the
spirit of the person. It sets one up for more negativity,
despair, and failure, which I find to be the chief
issues behind all addiction anyway.

(When I hear the contempt in people's voices at
meetings speaking of themselves as an 'ALCOHOLIC,'
I feel like there should be an asterisk next to their word
balloon and a footnote that says "alcoholic: a nasty,
decrepit, meaningless piece of shit on the shoe of
humanity." That seems to be the indication.

And yes, just calling yourself a garden variety 'alcoholic'
is still demeaning, too. (I do like when folks who put a
positive and personal spin on it with comments like
"I'm a grateful recovering alcoholic,' or "I have a desire
to stop drinking" or "I have a desire to recover."
What a difference a turn of phrase makes.)

Think about it; the attitude you bring to a fight
determines a lot about how well you'll survive it. In
relationships with others, being forgiving and loving
make great strides in conflict resolution. The same is true
for our relationship with ourselves.

You get more flies with honey than vinegar.

The idea of reducing a human to an affliction is also a
telling notion. It's the same concept used to dehumanize
people who live on the streets, people with mental illnesses,
people who are differently-abled, and so on. Anytime we
want to invalidate a person or group of people, we
break them down to a dismissible point; 'bums,' 'head cases,'

We like running down those who are already run down.

The term 'alcoholic' makes less of the beauty and blessing
inherent in every human being struggling with the illness.

Yes, I understand the need to connect and bond over
the issue at hand. But that's covered. "The only requirement
for membership is a desire to stop drinking." That says it all.
My being in the room says what needs to be said; anything else
is completely optional. There are no mandates in the rooms,
despite there being many chiefs and police who might like
it otherwise.

It's not about shame or avoidance; it's about aspiring to be
better. More. Hopeful.

No man can determine what another's worth is. For someone
else to label me a 'drunk' or an 'alcoholic' as if that is all there is
to my burden me with that onus and not sing my won't do. I--like all people, both in and out of
the rooms--am a blessed child of the Universe, with light and
love enough to share.

My power is great if I accept and acknowledge it. My problems
are mostly of my own making, as are my solutions. Feeding
my self-hate does not create in me a better or stronger person;
it creates more dependence and hurt.

I'm sorry Bill W. was, in his mind, such a lousy prick and had
so much guilt about his actions. Humility is required to amend
what has gone before, and then build back up what may
never have been sound in the first place.

Words have tremendous meaning and influence.

What would happen if we allowed ourselves to say phrases
every day like;
"I love myself completely."
"I am worthy of love."
"I deserve to be happy." ?

The transformative effect of the power of the mind, the
words we use, can bring about any result. Most of us beat
ourselves up and degraded ourselves, as well as attracted
people who would do the same. Most of us have been
playing 'tapes' in our heads from abusers for many years,
eroding our confidence and self-respect.

What would happen if we took the focus off of deficits and
placed it on benefits and greatness?

What an awesome experiment that would be.

"My name is Robert, and I am......."

Blessed. Powerful. Recovering. Beloved. Beautiful.

"Embracing Your Greatness" by Isha Judd

Some terrific thoughts on transformation, consciousness,
evolution, the mind, and societal resistance. Worth a peek.

I especially like how she delineates a need for separation
once advancement is taking place. It is not only natural
progression, but foisted on us often times by those in
our old lives who are poised against change or progressive

"Light on the Shadow" by Alan Cohen

November 20

Light on the Shadow

"If I keep busy, I won’t have to look at what is frightening me."
— Anonymous

One night Nasrudin’s neighbor Jalami found Nasrudin on his hands and knees under a streetlamp, searching for his house key. Wanting to be of service, Jalami joined Nasrudin on the ground and together poked around in the grass. After 20 minutes, Jalami asked Nasrudin, “Do you remember where you were standing when you dropped the key? ”
“Yes, ” answered Nasrudin, “over there, ” pointing to a tree 30 feet from the lamp where the two men were searching.
“Then why are you looking for the key here? ” Jalami had to ask.
“Because there is more light over here. ”

It is tempting to look in easy places for answers, instead of confronting our inner thoughts and beliefs about ourselves. One of the techniques we use to distract ourselves from facing our fears is to create endless errands, projects, meetings, emergencies, dramas, crises, upsets, and intellectual dances that keep us so occupied that we have little or no time left to be with ourselves. But simply taking a few quiet moments to honestly face what is troubling us may be exactly what we need to heal the insanity we create in our outer circumstances.

Enlightenment is an inside job. Doing more in the outer world will not result in more peace; only being more will get us what we want. Peace is attained by letting go of everything that distracts us from it.

Step back from your busy-ness and look within, where you will find everything you have ever sought in the outer world, and more.

All I really want is to know You. Help me to stay on purpose.
Give me the inspiration to look within for my answers.
Help me take the time to be with myself and find the peace I seek.

In quiet I look within and discover the light I am.


This meditation is an excerpt from Alan Cohen's meditation book, A Deep Breath of Life.
Also available at "In The Rooms" website.


I think one of the things that happened for me, as someone whose
life has been RULED by emotional influence, is that I was so
wrapped up in emotionalism that I never 'noticed it' as a pattern.
When I did, I thought it was just 'who I was.'

I have been consumed by grief, despair, loneliness...and built up a sort of
identity around that; assuming these things were FACTS that could not be
avoided, controlled, managed, or sublimated. "Oh seems like there's
no point, so I guess That's That!" I am amazed at how long I was stuck in that

Now I know the truth; I don't have to give in to a feeling!
If an emotion is harmful, I can change or ignore it.
I do not have to pack my van and leave a home every time I start to feel
I do not have to give up on a job or school or program just because I FEEL
overwhelmed or panicked or worthless...for the moment.
I do not have to pledge my undying love to someone just because I FEEL
like they hung the moon.
I can take it all like everything else; One Day At A Time. Knowing that;
This Too, Shall Pass!

I know now that I am not a prisoner to what I feel, even though
I allowed myself to believe so for so long. I am able to start making
progress on becoming a whole person. I have used sources like
Melodie Beattie's "Codependent No More" and Eric Butterworth's
excellent work with "Healing Hurt/Forming Relationships" as great
tools for getting me to understand how to start being a normal human being,
since that is more responsibility than most sponsors sign up for!

I have started to say goodbye to extremism; Ending relationships 

when someone says an unkind word once......quitting a job over an unjust 
practice.....disregarding people when their opinions differ from my own, etc.
Today I have the 10 second Rule down pat. Hardly anything needs my
and when it does, I can respond calmly.

Finding a Source of Power

We are all human. We all stumble. Anyone who says or
implies otherwise is proving they don't have all the answers
in their actions! You're going to be just fine, like the rest
of us. It doesn't always have to be 'pretty' to be done right.

As for a higher power; the premise of the AA organization
(which not all of its members cling to) can be GOOD; something
greater than yourself. I will emphasize that this need not be something
'outside' of yourself. The danger is in externalizing the power.

I find a HP in the socializing of the fellowship. I find a HP in working
towards being a more full and developed human being. My HP is
insight and love and compassion. It is whatever it needs to be to give
you strength and hope; and it is not 'devalued' because you may not refer to
it as 'God'. Your HP is also not something you have to discuss with
others in detail. It is not discounted based on others' inability to relate
or comprehend. It only has to work for you.

My Higher Power is self improvement and self-sufficiency, which
I never allowed myself to be. No more excuses. No more blame.
Taking responsibility and seeing my full worth and ability. No
more believing lies of powerlessness and weakness.

For me, I know there are a lot of HPs at work in the world;
The police, the sheriff, the government, the law makers, bosses,
landlords, shop owners; there are always those that have power
over me.

Why can't I extend that comprehension to the positive side of the
continuum and say that there are HPs in the form of friends, lovers,
happy thoughts, gifts, blessings, ideals, and more? Because those
things seem more impermanent than the distressing ones?

What things were happening before the drink? I know I can start by
letting destructive thought-processes in the door, and then start
changing patterns (sleeping, eating, etc.), avoiding sharing what's
going on in my head with another person, and so on. Those slippery
slopes are what lead to a fall.

This whole thing is a journey. The process of traveling--not the
destination--is where the work and the beauty come in. Give
yourself a break, and take care of today. Today is where the power
is; everything else is history or mystery.