Posts Tagged ‘cocaine addiction’

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New Chapter, new year, new blog

January 5, 2011

Well friends, I’m starting a new blog.

This one will not shut down, I am just refocusing, and I felt a fresh start was in order.  Comments will be replied to.

Please feel welcome to drop by at http://onedirectionforward.wordpress.com/

The new blog is still developing and I am not sure all of where I am going to take it.  A few things have come to light for me:

 

1. Drug and alcohol recovery is no longer my central focus. 

I can never lose sight of the fact that my alcoholism and addiction must continually be kept in realistic perspective and high priority in my life.  I continue to work the 12 steps and remain a sober member of AA.  I think my recent post about the limiting effect I have experienced in my local AA community really sums up how I am feeling.  I want so much more than what this 12 step community in my area focuses on. 

I want to continue to grow other important aspects of my life including marriage, parenting, career, management of finances, fitness, emotional health, and my spiritual pursuits of God as I understand him, specifically Jesus Christ.  Not a light switch, not “The Fellowship”, and not some nebulous, unidentified, self-designed-to-suit-me “Higher Power”.  I need to be honest with and true to what I believe.

 

2. My heart is for families and to help other men and women who have survived calamity.

This is where I feel my new focus needs to be.  My heart aches and breaks when I hear about yet another divorce, and another family ripped apart because our culture of selfishness has suggested it is OK to do so.  While I am not convinced all marriages can or will hold together, I believe what Dr. Phil states so plainly, “most people are too quick to get divorced. You shouldn’t get a divorce until you’ve turned over every stone and investigated every avenue of rehabilitation possible”.

Speaking as a man for just a moment…. men, we need to get it together.  We need to raise the bar and take our part of the responsibility for our lives, our marriages, and our families.  If calamity has struck us such as divorce, addiction, financial failure, health issues, depression, or what have you, we are not defeated.   Our spouses need husbands, our kids need dads.  A champion is simply someone who gets up again one more time than he gets knocked down.

My heart is to create a resource for those of us who have been knocked down, and don’t know if they can get back up.  We can people!  Men and Women alike!  We can! 

Our children will benefit, our communities will benefit, and our nations will benefit.  And I do not wish to sound selfish, but at the centre of it all, we will benefit.

 

3. I feel more compelled to comment than post.

While I love posting and am grateful for the lively dialogue you have all contributed to my blog, I find my posting is somewhat sparse based on my time availability.  At this stage, I feel far more compelled to read your thoughts on your blogs and reflect back with comments.  I will likely continue posting on the new blog, but for now, my greater focus will be comments and replies.

I have linked all of you who have frequented my blog and you will most certainly be hearing from my by way of post comments.  I will continue to tag to “twelve steps” so I will be in the neighbourhood.

I have few specific plans for my new blog, but who knows, I may do a similar blog with similar posts under the new domain.

4.  I am no longer the YuppieAddict.  I am Husband, Dad, Son, Friend, Neighbour, Servant.

My choice of domain name was somewhat circumstantial and relevant for a time.  It does not describe how I want to be recognized.  It has been a great 2 1/2 years on this site, with over 87,000 hits and hundreds of replies.

Well friends, I am looking forward to connecting in the new chapter.  See you on your blogs.

All the very best.  And God Bless you all.

Chaz   http://onedirectionforward.wordpress.com

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Limited by the 12 steps

December 16, 2010

It is often my experience that AA can be limiting.  AA was how I got sober.  The practice of the 12 steps also helped me order my thinking in ways that made me less anxious, depressed, and irritable.  Beyond that though, I have found most of my help in personal growth outside of AA.

Yet many people in AA discourage or minimize other approaches to personal growth, claiming that “The Program is all we need”.  I disagree.

The only contribution AA formally makes to any issue other than our alcoholism is the suggestion in step 12, “we tried to practice these principle in all of our affairs”.  This is fine, but for me and what I want from life, it is insufficient.  I want more than just sobriety.  And I am glad that AA recognizes its own finite scope.

We are free to, and it is suggested, that we strive for better things in all of our affairs.  But this is where AA must leave off.  AA history shows that any time AA tried to be more to people than a way to get sober, it failed.  This is not because AA does not care or wish for better things for us, it just appears that there is a limit to which the scope AA can be effective.

Where I find AA limiting is when members profess that AA is all we need.  Or that all roads lead to AA.  Sorry friends, I don’t see it that way.  In fact, by and large, AA’s I have known as a group do not have a very high standard for themselves when it comes to matters like relationships, health, fitness, and career development. 

How is it that so many of us are snatched from the jaws of death of alcoholism, only to continue in other jaws of death like toxic, abusive or non-functioning relationships, poor eating habits, obesity, under-employment, financial irresponsibility, lousy parenting, and the biggest mystery of all to me… SMOKING. 

I know so, so, soooo many AA members whose lives are disasters in these ways.  Yet they profess the great power of their program and “higher power”.  For me, AA was a life-preserver that God used to help save me from alcoholic destruction so that I could continue living long enough to find other solutions for growth and recovery in addition to my recovery from alcoholism.

In my experience, the AA bar is fairly low.  Divorce is as rampant in AA as anywhere else.  I am constantly hearing stories of conflict, painful breakups, problems with parenting, and unexpected pregnancies.  Standards of health and fitness are probably worse than the average sampling of people.  I am in the minority as a non-smoker. 

I know these are not official AA positions.  I guess my point is that if AA is the only process of growth in a person’s life, then one shouldn’t expect much beyond getting sober and a little more sane.

For me, I have a hard time imagining that God threw me a lifeline just for me to jump back into a different sea of destruction.  I want a lot in my life.  I want a great marriage, great relationships with my kids and family, great health, great fitness, financial prosperity, and to be a resource to anyone whose path I cross. 

To accomplish these things, I need a lot more than just AA.

Ciao.

Chaz

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Powered by Gratitude

September 17, 2010

In the past 2 years, I have been discovering the amazing depth and power of gratitude. 

I’ve discovered gratitude at levels far deeper than can be expressed by words alone.  I am talking about the gratitude that we live, rather than say.  We express it in our actions by doing and the choices we make on a day to day, moment to moment basis.  We begin to see so vividly that the blessing we have received and recovery we have experienced are truly rare and amazing, that gratitude permeates our subconscious and becomes one of the foundational influences of our entire outlook on life.  We don’t just think about it in our conscious mind, we move to feeling it in our emotions continuously.

The power is that we are far less fearful, far more hopeful, and we discover new energy and motivation in life because we feel grateful for everything, and anxious for little.  We can do and achieve things that we used to fall short of.  Why?  Because the negative thoughts that always stopped us in our tracks are now nudged out by gratitude for each moment, each person, each event, and each physical item in our lives.

On a practical level, I have found gratitude helps me maintain a happy marriage, a fun and functioning relationship with my kids, physical fitness, success in my career, and better relationships with everyone in my life.

Again, why?  Because I have let go of so much self-pity that kept me only seeing the negative in each circumstance.  Filtered through fear and self-pity, I would virtually always see the half-empty glass.  My mind would automatically nit-pick the imperfections in my job, my home, my wife, my family, and my health.  Even if I didn’t say it, I would allow the thoughts in my mind that would then translate into behaviours that limited me.  Or worse, led me to give up.

Gratitude on the other hand, especially when we live it rather than say it, keeps us focused on the half-full portion of the glass.  Gratitude leads us to become excited and energized because of what we do have.  So we make use of the blessing of the half-full part of the glass and build a better life for ourselves with what we do have, rather than remain immobilized looking at what we don’t.

An example on a practical level would be times when I decide to act in gratitude for my wife by doing something as an expression of this gratitude.  This may be rubbing her neck while she works at her desk, or telling her I love her at a time when I don’t normally, or doing some of her share of the household responsibilities, or taking the kids out so she can have some peace for a while.  When I determine to act in gratitude, I am careful not to speak it as well.  I feel I don’t want to taint the purity of the expression.  And by doing, it has such an impact on me and her, that the most amazing feelings in both of us begin to emerge.  And our marriage functions better and better.

Another example is my fitness routine which includes cycling for about 10 kms a few times a week.  Self-pity would have me complain in my head about the cold, the rain, dogs, traffic, sweating, and how hard it was.  Gratitude on the other hand focuses on the opportunity to be in shape, the beauty of the area I cycle in, the fresh morning air, the compliments from others, and the feeling of accomplishment that only comes from knowing I completed a task fully.

When I let gratitude guide my thoughts and express itself in my actions like riding longer or pushing harder, I have better workouts and cycling than ever and get better results, which then fuels more gratitude and more action.

Gratitude expressed only verbally will do some good.  But gratitude internalized so deeply we constantly feel it to the point that it becomes one of our defaults of perspective, then expressed in actions, can take us to new heights in every part of our lives.  It has freed me from so many of the shackles of negativity that limited me.

I encourage everyone to seek gratitude beyond words then act on it.

Ciao

Chaz

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We become what we practice

August 25, 2010

One of the strengths of AA and 12-step recovery is the opportunity to practice over and over the principles of this approach to recovery.  Abundant meetings in most areas make is possible to receive a continual steam of support and input for prolonged periods.

Was this not how we became sick and alcoholic in the first place?  We learned something by observation or experience, we did it once, then repeated over and over for a prolonged period?  Until our patterns of thought and behaviour became so entrenched, they were our defaults?  They were part of who we were.

So why would it not take the same to change?  We practiced thoughts and behaviours of self-pity, escapism, resentment, anger, envy, and potentially a hundred other dysfunctions until they wove together to make up the fabric of who we had become.

I did 90 meetings in 90 days at the same daily meeting.  A lot of people have asked, “Didn’t it get boring and repetitious”?  It would have if I let my old thinking tell me it was.  But gladly, I had some support from those who had travelled the path before me who compelled me to try to learn something new each day.  Even if the same people spoke again and again.

To my utter amazement, they were right.  New gems of truth and enlightenment began to emerge out of the same people at the same meeting day after day.  Why?  Perhaps it was because I was changing.  The repetition I heard was slowly breaking down the walls of my old thinking.  And my follow-through on a daily basis began to establish new patterns that further opened my mind.

Learning through practice and repetition is one thing that has kept me in the rooms of AA for a number of years, even though I can’t get any more sober than I was the day I first sobered up.  It took a long time to weave the old fabric, it is taking a long time to weave the new one.  Practice, practice, practice leads to progress, progress, progress.

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We don’t need to understand pain

July 31, 2010

I used to make painful moments and circumstances in life far more painful by expecting to understand the pain.  I rarely do that anymore.  Pain is inevitable in life.  It just happens.  Nobody is exempt.  We choose whether or not we want to turn it into suffering by complicating it.

I used to complicate pain all the time by reading deep meaning into it while it was happening.  Even though this never helped.  I would want to know all the reasons why.  I would want instant clarity.  I felt an injustice was done on me if God or someone didn’t deliver clarity of reason to me right away.

Today, “it just happens” and eventually passes.  It goes away in time, every time.  So I am more prone to just grit my teeth, focus on something else positive, and let it pass.  The amazing thing is that some clarity or lesson usually follows at some point shortly thereafter.  I “let” more be revealed rather than “expect” it.

And if pain is getting me down, I have the secret weapon of surrender.  I turn it over.  Let go, let God.

Life is way better.

Ciao.

Chaz

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Pain + Drama = Self-Pity

March 19, 2010

I find the tricky part of self-pity to be the fact that it is usually rooted in some amount of genuine pain.

Our culture has encouraged us to wrap our pain in drama and the result is usually self-pity.  Betrayal, loss, abuse, injury… they all hurt.  There is no getting around this.  They are however entirely typical and frequent events.  Nobody is exempt.

We unfortunately, whether knowingly or unknowingly, add drama to our pain and thereby, throw a bucket of gas on the fire.  We multiply our pain.  We often say, “It’s not fair, How could this happen to me? I don’t deserve this, How could he?  How could she?  I’ll show him/her, Why me? etc”.

Closing in on my mid-40’s, I have yet to meet the person my age who has been spared some form of painful calamity or gross injustice in life.  I would be wary of anyone who felt they hadn’t.  Illness, loss, injury, divorce, betrayal, financial setback, job-loss, abuse, natural disaster.  Who hasn’t been through one of these?  None are fair and they all hurt.

The day I learned to simply say, “this hurts”, and drop the followup statement like, “how could she? I don’t deserve this? I’ll show them? Its not fair?, etc”… or a real sneaky one, … talking about the injustice over and over with as many people as possible, was the day my pain stopped morphing into self-pity (as often).  Life took a turn toward becoming more manageable.

When we express our pain with the addition of drama, it is usually distasteful to others and they become intolerant.  So we are often unable to find genuine help because we push others away.  Instead, I have found that simply saying, “Man this hurts and I don’t really know what to do about it”, was often an effective way to seek help dealing with the pain.  Especially from those who have walked a similar path before me.

The advice back was often, “You just have to go through it a day at a time”.  This was not what my self-pity wanted to hear.  It didn’t feed the drama.  Yet when I finally learned to go through the pain a day at a time and function as best I could with minimal drama and focus on positives, life did indeed get better and the pain began to subside.  Very quickly in fact.

Others relate to the pain of the experience more than the drama.  So today, I do my best to separate the two, and avoid the drama altogether.  This is the easier, softer way.  Even though the unrecoved parts of my thinking want to run to the drama.

Undramatically….

Ciao.

Chaz

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Another year, another pineapple.

March 9, 2010

So Chaz celebrates another year sobriety and recovery.  Late in relation to the date, but celebrated nonetheless.

BTW… no big hidden or double meaning to the header… I take pineapples rather than cakes.  Just a health and fitness preference.

I wasnt going to do a public “cake” (pineapple) this year.  Frankly, I have grown weary of public meetings.  I stepped aside and did a step series over the past 4 months and nary have been to a public AA meeting.  Frankly, tired of many outside agendas I experience in meetings. 

Wanted to dig into the steps and connect with others in recovery on a meaningful and authentic level.  Hard to do that in a room of mixed genders and multitude of intents for people being there.

So three other guys and I met weekly, privately and worked through the steps once again.

Then a trusted and loyal friend pointed out to me that people newer to the program may benefit from knowing more publicly that I found things that work.  So I re-joined a home group and took a celebratory sobriety anniversary pineapple.

I came, once again, to the conclusion that the rooms of AA are really only a small part of my program of recovery and sobriety.  They help keep me in fellowship, share what I have received, and receive new things and things I have forgotten.

The power comes from fellowship and seeking the will of God as I understand him.  When we gather in his name, he shows up.  Even if everyone is not entirely sure who he really is.  Lights come on and eyes begin to open.

Good things happen.  Every time.

Ciao

Chaz