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Don’t Hold On

The argument could be made that the basic foundation of recovery is learning to let go.

We addicts began using a defect of character / crutch (alcohol, anger, cigarettes, pornography, control) to help us traverse a crippling problem but we became so dependant on the crutch that it became our crippling problem.

We need to learn to let go of the crutch, but we’re afraid. We’re a afraid we cannot go on without the crutch, that we are defined by it and that it our crutch is now a part of us.

We are afraid that if we let go, we will fall.

But what if the branch we are desperatey clinging to isn’t a branch at all?

What if the branch we are holding on to is an anchor holding us down? And what if by letting go of the defect, we let ourselves fly to the heights we can’t reach while clinging to the weight of our crutch?

Throw down your crutch and soar!

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For those of us in AA:

This post relates directly to Steps 6 & 7. In Step 6, we became willing to have our Higher Power remove our defects of character and in Step 7, humbly asked him/her to do so.

Our defects of character are our crutches and our anchors. Step 6 is recognizing these defects and simply saying “My anger / fear / lust / control issues / jealousy / laziness / resentments… are not a part of me. They don’t define me. I really want to be rid of them.”

Step 7 is catching yourself using these crutches and mentally saying out loud (praying), “I am not able to control this part of my life, so I’ll stop trying to manage it and let my Higher Power remove it from me.”

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Just a reminder that i ‘m on vacation in a place that has very limited internet access and so i won’t be able to respond to comments with my usual ruthless efficiency. Please don’t think i ‘m not reading them (i most definitely am), and please continue to leave them (they make my day).

i’m Looking Up

Looking up - alkhallanonymous.com

Things Are Definitely Looking Up

i’m wrapping up Step 6 of the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-Step Program

Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character

My super Sponsor who is older than dirt and wise beyond his years is not too keen on the whole self-flagellation thing and i must say i think anyone in AA who focuses on the negative doesn’t really get the program. It says in the literature that we are all about spiritual progress, not spiritual perfection. Hell, my perfectionism is what got me into trouble in the first place. i placed such high (no pun intended!) demands on myself that i needed alcohol to console me when i inevitably failed to live up to my own unrealistic expectations.

In order to demonstrate how entirely ready i am to remove my defects of character, my sponsor told me to write a list of what i was like when i drank and what i’m like sober so that i can have black & white evidence of how i’ve already started removing my defects of character and to encourage me to keep heading down this path.

Drunk v Sober Al K Hall - alkhallanonymous.com

i also decided to look at my Step 1 list again. In Step 1 (“We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable”), i wrote down all of the ways in which my life had become unmanageable and i thought now would be a good time to see how far i’d grown.

Unmanageable v Manageable Al K Hall - alkhallanonymous.com

In conclusion, i’m far from perfect but i’m better off than i was and everyday sees me stronger than the day before. i’m definitely looking up!

Action not Reaction

For Every Action, There Is An Opposite Reaction

When last we met, i described how Step 5 of the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Steps had me detailing my defects and defaults to another human being. This step was key because it forced me 1) to unburden the secrets i used to have to drink to drown and 2) put them out in the open where i could deal with them.

That done, i was ready to move onto Step 6:

[I was] entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

The key to this step, my sponsor explained, is the “entirely ready”. “Entirely ready” means i do not expect myself to become a saint and don’t pressure myself to be perfect. i do not beat myself up for my shortcomings…but i no longer use them as crutches or excuses, either.

It’s all about recognizing patterns. Lately, i’ve been noticing when i get angry or become anxious that it’s like there’s two parts to my brain, the one part that feels and another, distant part that stands off on the sidelines and observes.

In the past, i wasn’t able to distinguish between these two entities, so i thought they were one. If i felt an impulse, i had to act on it because it was valid.  The fact it was an urge that came from deep inside of me meant it was good, by definition. Now i understand i need to analyze these urges to see if they’re good or not.

That’s what i mean by “action, not reaction “. Instead of reacting blindly to stimulus, i need to take a step back and act responsibly and consciously. Sometimes the best reaction is no action at all. Sometimes, doing the right thing means doing nothing. Keeping my mouth closed and losing the battle to keep the peace. Or if i’m anxious, “acting” means sitting myself down and for the rational part of my brain to tell the freaking out part, “You go ahead and freak out for as long as you need,  i’ll be over here waiting, just let me know when you finish.”

Don’t Get Mad, Get Evened

This Is You On Anger

i’ve been working on Step 6.

[We] were entirely ready to have God remove all [our] defects of character.

“Willingness” is the operative word here. Nobody is perfect, but in my heart i have to be willing to let my Higher Power take my defects of character.

Fear is a big defect of mineGuilt is another at the top of the list. Then there’s Anger.

When my children were toddlers, i refused to take sides in their arguments. i told them they had to work out their disputes between themselves and i always told them “It takes two to fight.”

If one person doesn’t want to argue, an argument cannot take place. If i find that i’m in a heated discussion, i am doing something to perpetuate the spat. A tool my Sponsor told me about is the question, “What is my role in this?”

The trick is to consciously avoid the situation—to catch myself out when my ire begins to rise and shut it down. The second i notice my tone is cutting, there are tools i use to dull the edge in my voice and remove the sting my words bring on the tip of my sharp tongue.

  • Agree with the other person’s perception (“I see why you would think that.”)
  • Ask for precise details (“Can you be more specific about that?”)
  • Stall (“Let’s talk about this later.” “I’ll get back to you on that.”)
  • Don’t say anything
  • Leave

i have to remember:

Not one single disagreement has been resolved because a person talked more…, l o n g e r, or LOUDER than the other.