Posts Tagged ‘drug abuse’

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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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Do it scared, do it hurt, do it depressed…

December 27, 2010

I am revisiting the notion of not letting fear, pain, depression, anxiety, or any other invisible inward feeling stop us from doing what we feel is the next right or wise thing to do.

For most of my life, I let unpredictable, unreliable inner feelings act as a traffic light telling me what I should or shouldn’t do next.  I was naive enough to believe those feelings and would often shy from important things in my life that needed to be done.  Important things like filing my taxes on time, opening mail, completing a home project, working out, or fulfilling a promise made to friends or family.

Instead, I often felt paralyzed by fear, depression, or anxiety.  Feeling so overwhelmed that the easiest thing to do was to procrastinate the task and escape into sleep, tv, or in the old days of active addiction and alcoholism, I would drink or drug.  None of these escapes were of any value.  I was seldom rejuvenated and the task avoided was still there.

Then one day, years ago, I was listening to some teaching on pressing through fear or other overwhelming feelings.  A simple suggestion was posed, “Why don’t you just do it scared”? 

‘It’ being the task that you would otherwise avoid or procrastinate on.  So I began to think back and ask myself, how many exams did I write in school while scared?  Pretty much every one.  Or when I was starting out my career and doing interviews, how many interviews did I do scared?  Pretty much every one.  And how many sporting events did I play scared?  Again, pretty much all of them.  So I realized I could, and often have, done many things while scared.  So why not continue in this?

How was it the first time any of us walked into a room of AA, NA, Al-Anon, OA, or any 12-step program, scared?  I would bet all of us.  Yet what did we find on the other side of that fear?  Sobriety?  Help? Hope? A new beginning after repeated failures and painful losses?  Yes, absolutely!

I believe  that  fear and other negative emotions are tactics often used by the sick/addicted part of our thinking to self-preserve the sickness or addiction.  Somehow, it is like our unrecovered self has a mind and agenda of its own, and it wants to continue to live and grow.  So it suggests to us that we should remain immobile and avoid certain tasks.  Often, the very tasks that will give us the most growth, recovery, and victory in the shortest period of time.

I post this because I find myself in a bit of a post-Christmas funk.  My mood has been heavy for a few days since Christmas and some things are bothering me.  I am home early from work and I have some financial matters that really need attending to.  And at this moment, my mind is doing everything to avoid these matters.

So my determination was to acknowledge and expose these feelings for what they are by sharing them on my blog, then press past the anxious feelings and just do them.  Which is the next and only thing on my list of things to do tonight. 

If re-living feelings of fear and anxiousness similar to those I felt at many important moments in my life is the worst it can be, then I know I can handle it.  I just need to keep it simple, shut the brain off, turn the body on, and do it.  Scared, anxious, depressed, overwhelmed, or whatever.  It is do-able, even if I am not comfortable.

Ciao.

Chaz

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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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“…would it not be likely that their lives are crap”?

November 24, 2010

Ever have a momentary experience with a very challenging person? 

My wife went through two of these in the last two days and came home upset as a result.  One was with an irreverent receptionist at a dental office who seemed to fancy herself for her brashness and exaggerated snippy and sarcastic comments, all in the paper-thin guise of humour.  She made derogatory comments about our dental insurance plan and a scheduling question.  My wife was so taken aback, that she didn’t even know what to say in the moment and just left.  You know those experiences?

The other was in a business situation in which someone threatened to diss our name in the profession we are in.  They made some completely unfounded accusations about us hiring someone away from them, when in reality, the prospective employee approached us and offered up this person as a reference.

What’s my point?  In debriefing these disturbing incidents with my wife, the question that begged to be asked was,

“If these  momentary experiences with these people were typical of how they are, would it not be likely that their lives are crap”?

It was only natural that my wife and I thought of several retaliatory comebacks to these people.  None of which we are following through on.  Why would we?  Their behaviours are likely to carry their own consequences far greater than any rebuttal or reprimand that we could give.  And how is it even worth our time or energy?  We have a tremendous number of priorities with family, business, home, and life.  Where does correcting, reprimanding, or telling-off a stranger fit amongst our priorities.  It doesn’t.

The threat to bad-mouth us was in all likelihood benign.  Besides which, who is likely to take seriously such an erratic person.  Especially if this behaviour is typical.  Is it not more likely that if she did say anything, that others would just roll their eyes, and dismiss her comments as more bitterness from a disturbed person.  And we have an otherwise flawless name in our profession.  Do we not have confidence in who we are and what  our capabilities are?  Are we going to be dissuaded by one unbalanced, rude, probably sick person?

And for the dental receptionist, we may simply and calmly either find a new dentist, or calmly describe the episode to the dentist at next visit.  Surely, this will not be the first this dentist has heard of the receptionists tone and behaviour.

"My life sucks and I am making sure it stays this way"!

Can you imagine what the families of these two people go through?  If the families in fact still have anything to do with them.  Their kids, their spouses?  Seriously, if these were just momentary samplings of their behaviours, what must it be like to be them or be around them continuously?  Clinically speaking, their lives must suck.

Recovery has taught me that I seldom need to retaliate and that the behaviour of the foolish and unhealthy will be its own consequence.  My main responsibility is to myself and my family.  I am not the equalizer of the universe.  I am not the messenger to all who for whom I have a distaste.  And if I have anything to say, it will more often be in a calm, collected frame of mind after processing the initial impact of the disturbing event.  In fact, I am less prone to using words at all, I would just speak with my feet and walk away, leaving them to their own self-imposed misery.

This may sound cold, but a much better alternative to investing time and energy into someone you may never see again or who is not looking to change.

Ciao.

Chaz

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Fortressing a limp

November 6, 2010

Why is change so rare and difficult? I heard a fascinating interview with a doctor this week. He gave an analogy about people who would come to him with back pain who he helped by treating their feet.

Why? Because in these cases, he discovered that the back pain originated in a foot problem, which was compensated for by the ankle, which then was compensated for by the knee, then hip, and by the time they did anything about it, their back had joined the chain of compensating adjustments and now was hurting.

The patients had re-arranged most of their body to keep the untreated foot problem alive. They altered the way they stood, walked, sat, and slept to facilitate the foot problem. They unknowingly built a fortress around the original hurt and protected it with everything they did.

Treating the back did not have longterm benefit. The problem kept reoccurring because the cause was the untreated foot. He analogized this to problems in our lives where we experience a hurt or problem such as a childhood trauma or dysfunctional conditioning by our family, then slowly and silently begin re-arranging our life to suit the hurt; often for decades or a lifetime.

Over years, we have actually created a network of supports to enable the hurt to continue and affect us. We unknowingly choose and get into habits of thought and behaviour that help keep this damage alive. We choose people, build relational dynamics, occupations, living environments, and daily routines that also nurture and protect the hurt. We fortress it. Or we let the untreated hurt destroy our relationships and hurt others. Why?

Perhaps simply because it’s familiar and in a paradoxical way, comfortable? And why can’t we detect it to any degree that we can bring about change on our own? Perhaps because it is so woven into our psyche, it has become effectively permanent (so far).

Then, when one part of the compensating behaviour is challenged (the knee-limp), it upsets the whole dynamic (foot, ankle, knee, hip, back) so we resist it. We may be fearful or confused by the new awareness so we retreat to the comfort of the familiar, even if it is only kind-of working.

After years or decades of this protective behaviour, we have a well-rehearsed limp; physically, emotionally, relationally etc.
It is no wonder that we recovering alcoholics, ACOAs, codependents, ragers, etc. cannot affect change on our own and that the journey of change requires time, effort, and lots of support. Equally sick people in our lives often resist change as much as we do because it takes them into the less familiar as well, so they may not want us to change. And they too have fortressed in their limps with compensating behaviours.

I am grateful today for the numerous voices that I can listen to that help me see more of the root causes of my problems, rather than just the symptoms. I am grateful today for the company and influence of healthy people who are also on journeys of recovery, who don’t need me to continue limping in order for them to remain comfortable. I am grateful today to God for bringing these people and circumstances into my life to help break the fortresses around my pains and dysfunctions. I know a freedom and contentment like I have never known. I feel like a freed captive.

Ciao.

Chaz

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“… at best, nobody will ever take another word you say seriously ever again”.

October 26, 2010

A dialogue from Bugsy, the 1991 movie portraying the life of legendary mobster, Ben Siegel, came to mind today. 

In particular, the dialogue between Siegel, played by Warren Beatty, and Meyer Lansky, played by Ben Kingsley, in which Siegel tells Lansky of his seemingly hair-brained plan to fly to Italy in the midst of World War 2, work his way through elite Italian society to get close to  and assassinate Mussolini. 

Lansky’s response to Siegel was to ask him to promise never bring up this grandiose plan ever again because if he did, “… at best, nobody will ever take another word you say seriously ever again”.

I remember all the grandiose plans I would state to people pre-recovery.  What I was going to do, where I was going to go, who I was going to be.  It was not so much the fantasizing during my drinking, but more the self-deception due to my alcoholic thinking whether drunk or sober.

It was self-deceived because I seldom ever followed through with the stated plans.  My behaviours, in fact, worked completely opposite to my verbalized intentions.  How badly I harmed my credibility in those times.  How sad it was for the people in my life to not be able to believe the words that came out of my mouth.  Yet the saddest part was that I could not even see it.  And truth remained hidden from me largely because some things were indeed working out.  But it must have been largely by fluke because I was not often following through.

One noticeable change for me in recovery is my ability to believe my own words.  This is partly because I less often state things that are unrealistic.  And partly because recovery has taught me to align my words and behaviours so they are moving in the same direction more often than not.

As an ACOA (adult child of an alcoholic), I have also come to grips with the fact that I used to over-commit because I didn’t want to let anyone down.  I was completely unrealistic.  Yet this urealisticness was the very source of me then letting people down.  Weird eh?

Being credible to ourselves and others is an amazing gift of recovery.  We more often are able to say what we do and do what we say.  Nothing more complicated than that.

Ciao

Chaz

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Whats with “God as we understand Him”?

September 28, 2010

I hear ongoing concern and even debate over “God as I understand Him”.  For those not familiar with the 12 steps or AA, “God as I understand Him” comes from the wording in the third AA step.  Specifically, “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him”.

Those who have a clearly defined understanding or belief of who God is, appear often to find this challenging or offensive.  I suppose I understand.  Yet even among people of the same faith systems, do we not all know God only as we understand him?

Do any two Christians, Muslims, or Jews understand God the exact same way?  What about our various denominations, sects, and cultures of any major faith?  Do they not all have very distinct view of what they presume to be the same God?  Are there not members of major faith systems who profess the same God yet some feel God is a God of violence while others feel God is a God of peace and kindness?  Clearly a difference in understanding.

Others are concerned that AA, which certainly appears to have been rooted in Christianity, was tainted when step 3 was changed from “God”, to “God as we understood Him”.  On one hand, I understand their concern over the morphing of their specific belief that yielded results into something compromised for broader appeal.  On the other hand, I don’t understand where this is still not an honest statement because we all can only believe to the degree our understanding allows us, can’t we?

My understanding of God changes continually as I feel he reveals more to me of who he is and how he works.  I believe in the same God I believed in many years ago when I was going nuts with anxiety, depression and ramping up for active alcoholism.  But I understand God today a lot differently than I understood Him then.  This does not mean God changed.  It means my understanding changed.

I used to believe the philosophies and theologies of men who sought to package and sell God to me through their organizations.  And much of what I understood has indeed proven to me to be correct.  But the understanding I had of God through this set of perspectives did not help me get sober.  In fact, their input based on their understanding barely helped me at all.  Some of them even told me that God did not work a certain way or through certain people or organizations that turned out to be the very people and organizations who did indeed help me get sober and recovering.

So were they really interested in helping me find God and seek his help, or were they more interested in my conformity?  Perhaps I will never know.  Nor do I resent them for trying.  They were likely just trying to share God as they understood Him.

One day, I am sure greater truths will be revealed.  And we may find out which understanding of God is correct and incorrect.  Maybe there is a “Road to Damascus Experience” awaiting us and thus we ought to use wise caution in saying who God is or isn’t.  Until that day, how can any of us not be limited by our experiences, cultures, perceptions, and basic natures in our understandings of who God is and how he works?

Ciao

Chaz