This Is A Description, Not An Indictment


man in a dark forest

I’ve been doing some work over the last week or two.  Recovery work.  Step work, to be honest.  One doesn’t ever graduate from doing this kind of work.  There aren’t diplomas that hang from our walls when we go through this stuff, same as I don’t have one for having a child.  I just continue to be a dad – for a lifetime.  Same goes with recovery.  It’s not a destination – it’s a journey.  And I forget that sometimes.  I have realized in the last year or so that I have been complacent.  Very complacent.  Lazy.  Oh sure I don’t drink, and don’t get the urge to do so.  I have a good life.  I have a life that others would dream of.  I’m not rich in money, but I have people who love me and who I love.  I work and have an amazing family and good loyal friends. I work in an industry that I still enjoy.  I have a roof over my head.

I also have an illness that wants me dead.  An ego that likes to shoehorn itself into my thoughts and turn them wayward.  I have old thoughts and habits that if and when they crop up, can be detrimental to my well-being.  Complacency, in my case, allows these things to creep up on me more quickly.  Just like I can’t survive on yesterday’s food, I can’t rely on actions I took yesterday, last month or last year to help keep me on solid ground.

So I decided to have an old-timer friend of mine, John, take me through some work.  Different work.  It’s work from another fellowship that deals with narcotics, which is really an umbrella for any chemical  addictions.  The work is 12 step, but they approach it a bit differently.  More digging.  More writing.  More questions.  It’s something that I know other alcoholics have done, my sponsor and others I look up to included, and I know it’s deepened their own recovery.  And so I am taking this on.  And it’s not as easy as I thought it would be.

As John and I sat at the coffee shop and I had my homework ready – a list of things I was powerless over and how my life was unmanageable.  He didn’t ask to look at it, but we spoke.  And as we talked about addiction in general, he asked me a simple question – what do you think addiction is for you? I stumbled at first and then got into a progressively eloquent and dainty definition that eventually got away from me.  He stopped me.

“Before you get further into your description there, let me ask you something – how is your addiction acting out in your life right now?”  Full stop. I started to well up.  Damn.  You see, I am not in the throes of active alcoholism.  I am not detoxing or just on 15 days of recovery.  But hell if my alcoholism isn’t kicking my ass these days on so many other fronts.  Knowing that I haven’t been entirely content and not going to meetings and not doing what I need to do is because the damn thing still likes to dance with me and screw me over is precisely why I decided to the work and why I was started to cry.  I am still hurting and I don’t know what to do.   That is the uncanny truth. The unfiltered verdict in my life right now.

Food. Sugar. Running. Internet. Talk about addictions. And let me tell you about some other hard truths.  As we spoke, he brought up his own issues and how he, even after 25+ years recovery, still struggles with in different ways.  He spoke about his alcoholic dad and the family dynamic which was exactly like mine and my wife’s. He showed me something from Adult Children of Alcoholic’s literature:

“We had come to feel isolated and uneasy with other people, especially authority figures. To protect ourselves, we became people-pleasers, even though we lost our own identities in the process. All the same we would mistake any personal criticism as a threat…We lived life from the standpoint of victims. Having an overdeveloped sense of responsibility, we preferred to be concerned with others rather than ourselves. We got guilt feelings when we stood up for ourselves rather than giving in to others. Thus, we became reactors, rather than actors, letting others take the initiative. We were dependent personalities, terrified of abandonment, willing to do almost anything to hold on to a relationship in order not to be abandoned emotionally” – excerpt from “The Problem” ACA

As I nodded and felt both sorrow and relief from hearing this, he read the last words from that passage –

“This is a description, not an indictment.”

Oh Christ, what a thing that opened up for me.  To not feel bad about those things…I mean, I am not an adult child of an alcoholic, but I was and sometimes am those things there.  I am also have immense intellectual pride.  I am arrogant.  I judge.  I isolate.  I don’t go to meetings because I don’t think I will get anything from them right now (even though when I do go, I am glad I went).  I am a prideful balloon.  These are the things that are tearing me down right now.  These are the things that darken my heart these days, and have for some time now.

These are my hard truths.

These things do not define me though.  I am not a monster.  I am not an asshole.  I sit in front of my computer here and make grand statements and sound like I know what I am doing and that I am some recovery guru, but I am just as messed up and unsure and just getting out of the starting gates in so many ways as others are.  Just in different guises. I let my intellectual pride lead the way when I should be letting my heart and my Higher Power do it.

It’s in seeing what The Problem is that gives me some clarity these days now.  While I see that I sometimes want  to (and do) manipulate people and situations to please me, while I see that I have glaring character defects, while I see that I have a lot of work ahead of me, I also see that I am a child of Creator and a work-in-progress.  That’s it.  Nothing more, nothing less.

As we sat and spoke, John in his tell-it-like-it-is mocking ways (“Oh intellectual pride? Not you Paul…”[laughs]), I saw a crack in my armour.  The one that still keeps others away.  The one that’s still afraid to connect with others in a true, deep way.  The one that is chain-mailed with fears galore.  The one that is greater than and less than.  The one that is still wounded. And we all know that crack is where the light comes in.

This stuff hurts, this truth thing.  And I felt crushed in some ways.  I still do a bit, but I know I need to keep writing and doing the work and talking about it.  I am not sad, nor self-pitying, but just seeing what I need to see. But I know in the next step I continue to connect with a power that can and will help me.  And then I get to see that once again, I am not the one running the show.  I am just a garden variety drunk who is getting well.  I don’t have an indictment, I have a description right now.  I need not flog myself for not being a perfect example of recovery.  I just needed to be. Something that is still hard for me to understand and do.

What it all comes down to is that I still don’t think I am worthy of all this.  I know I am, but my alcoholism tells me I’m not.  And that is what brought on my sadness. It will pass as I move through the work, as I move on my journey.

As we left the coffee shop and I started to unlock my bike, John told me of his plans for an upcoming vacation.  We paused and then he hugged me in his huggy bear way and told me to “be gentle to yourself.”  I laughed and told him that that was the advice I usually gave to others, but had a hell of a time doing myself.  He laughed and smiled at me.

“Put the whip down Paul.  Put it down.”

And he turned and walked away.

Be well, all.

Love,

Paul – a work-in-progress

65 responses to “This Is A Description, Not An Indictment

  1. “Be gentle to yourself”…waaay easier said than done, I know. Another well-written and enlightening post, dear Paul. I’ve made a concerted effort to be kind to myself and have had to subdue (more than once) the silly-ness that it feels like sometimes. I had a good friend ask me, “How can you be kind to others if you aren’t kind to yourself first?” I took her words to heart. Like you, I’m a work in progress. But, aren’t we all? xo

    • You see, my problem is that I think it’s all okay for *you* guys to be kind to yourselves, but for me, I would hold myself up to a loftier goal. That’s ego talking, and that is precisely what I am trying to deal with. But knowing it up in my head and knowing it in my heart are two different things, so I will do my best to act “as if” and just let go of things. Thanks for the kind words.

      From one work-in-progress to another 🙂

      Paul

      • Dear Paul,
        I always enjoy your work and our discussions. There’s just something about this today that makes me want to reach out and help and say, “It’s gonna be okay. Because, well, you rock!!” But I know words from others only go so far, right?
        That said, Michele from Mished Upturned me onto an author and book that I’ve just started. “When Things Fall Apart” by Pema Chodron. I wanted to quote everything I read and for common sense (and lack of space) I settled on this: ” Life is a good teacher and a good friend. Things are always in transition, if we could only realize it. Nothing sums itself up in the way we like to dream about. The off-center, in-between state is an ideal situation, a situation in which we don’t get caught and we can open our hearts and minds beyond limit. It’s a very tender, nonaggressive, open-ended state of affairs.”

        It spoke to me and I thought it might give you some comfort, too. Here’s hoping that you’ll be just as kind to yourself as you are to others. xo

  2. Incredible how what you wrote there is exactly the way I’ve been feeling. Same thoughts. I just can’t seem to express or articulate those feelings when I close up and isolate, putting a smug “I’m good” face on my head. Thanks a lot for doing what you do.

    • Thanks Kevin. Thank you for showing me that I am not alone (I know that I am not, but the one thing that my thick head needs is constant validation of that.) The “I’m good” face is a killer – or at least it was for me. Being able to share what I am feeling, either to my wife, my recovery friends, folks out here, etc, is one way of getting myself out of self. A problem shared is a problem halved, as they say.

      Thanks for being here – means a lot to have you read and comment.

      Paul

  3. Paul…thank you for this. They are my hard truths exactly! Everything I have been thinking about and working on! We are worthy:-) it’s our disease that says we aren’t! Thinking of you as you go through this part of the journey!

    • Thanks Tracy. I am very glad to hear from you and other long-timers who still struggle. I sometimes think that those who have been in recovery a long time have at some point “gotten it” – whatever that means…lol. But I know we all struggle, and I just wanted to put it out there in an almost factual way.

      Thanks again for your kind words…and keep snapping those fab pics of yours 🙂

      Paul

  4. lovely paul..thanks for letting us in.
    I am doing a 5th step with my sponsee and it’s been humbling, because as she shares with me, I have stuff come up, I suggest actions to her that i’m not doing. but humbling is good…brings me back to where i need to be and i am so grateful for this experience. i can see that you are too.
    i love the question..”how is your addiction acting in your life right now?”…talk about to the point, talk about confronting, just a great question and one i will be thinking about and probably using. that reminder that it is always there, that it can manifest in many different ways is something i cannot be reminded of enough.
    anyway..lots to chew on here, and thank you, as always, for a great post.

    • Thanks M. And great of you listening to that 5th. I have had the pleasure of listening to one or two (most of my sponsees bolted at inventory time), and you’re right about how it brings up stuff. Having sponsees helped me greatly as it kept me in check too and had me wondering if I was doing what I was instructing! I too loved that question about how the addiction is acting right now, and that is the focus of the work – how all of this is manifesting now. It would be naive of me to think that doing the work the first time would make things magically turn to pink…lol.

      Anyway, thanks again for your take on this. Always glad to see you here 🙂

      Paul

      • yea..they do bolt before the 5th, way too often! I told her that her chances of staying sober are rising dramatically by doing the 5th….
        i know for me that is when i started to really feel a part of the whole 12 step culture…
        i am holding the hope for her

  5. It’s so true. We sometimes forget that no one is perfect. We feel guilty for our flaws. We punish ourselves for I ur inadequacies and we berate ourselves for our weaknesses. The difference between a good and bad person, I think, is the insight to see our imperfections, to know them intimately and learn to adapt, cope and adjustment them as much as we are able. You are a beautiful soul, Paul, love the good things about yourself and accept your flaws. Because people who love you sees both the good and bad, as you should love about yourself.

    • Thanks Tiff. I don’t know of any truer and wiser words…now I just need my thick skull to take them in. They say the longest journey is from the head to the heart, and that’s where I am at right now. I am a slow learner and take a long time to get to things (my oldest son, unfortunately, has gotten that trait from me!), so I know I will get this. I just have to work through this, even through my life, and do the very best that I can. That’s all. Thank you for sharing here – you too are a beautiful soul.

      Blessings and have a great weekend 🙂

      Paul

  6. Thank you Paul for being so honest! Admitting we have a problem, having the problem reflected back to us, through a meeting or even when doing the work can catch us off guard. Isn’t that why we go to meetings, isn’t that why we do “the work” to see ourselves, to feel, to grow?

    What is addiction to us, how do we avoid the world around us even when to drinking, while in recovery. Addiction is the dis ease. Addiction is that other little voice, and or behavior that tells us not to go to meetings, or to help that other person, whose problem you recognize but haven’t done the work yourself, or not really anyway.

    I myself have found many excuses and I have the pride of Spiritual elitism, I keep people away in that manner. People who are newcomers are in “awe” only approach cautiously, the others think I “got this” I don’t need help, I don’t need fellowship and friendship, “he’s got it goin on!!”

    None of us are perfect, and yes we are always working on our recovery. It is progress not perfection, it is the journey not the destination.

    Keep coming back.

    Jeff

    P. S. I thought I had commented on “pink cloud”. Which we see you are not any longer on!

    • Great comments Jeff. Thank you for sharing your ES&H.

      I understand that voice that tells me to not go to meetings, to maybe cheat a bit on that bus fare, to not be honest to so-and-so, to slack off on such-and-such, to not get up when an old lady gets on the subway, to not bother with meditation, etc. I also know that the voice of conscious contact counteracts that, and when I listen to *that* one (when ego is out of the equation), things ALWAYS go well. Always. So why don’t I listen? Ego. That’s it. As Chuck Chamberlain explains in A New Pair of Glasses, our main problem is conscious separation. And that is what still drives my character defects, along with fear.

      Spiritual elitism – love that term. Suits me fine, ha ha. I remember an old timer sharing that he’s afraid to share about hard times because he doesn’t want the newcomer to think that life even 20+ years of recovery down the line can still be tough. But it can be. So I know what you mean about others seeing that you’ve “got it”.

      Funny how I wrote about pink cloud before doing the work and getting here. I couldn’t have planned that any better (or worse). But I am not in the dumps either. I am still pretty happy, frankly. I just have crap to work through and to get spiritual clarity and progress on. 🙂

      I will keep coming back, Jeff. That you can be sure of!

      Blessings
      Paul

  7. Great post, Very vulnerable. A lot of this resonated with me, especially the intellectual pride part (definitely need to work on my ego) Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work.

    • Thanks BK (I laugh because my drinking buddies and I would call any slow bartender or server a BK – buzz killer!) Ego is certainly the main culprit for my ills, but luckily I do have tools at my disposal, support and a connection to something that keeps it from racing out of the stables. And hey, if they do run out of the barn, I can always stuff them back in 🙂

      Thanks for being here and look forward to reading more of your blog 🙂

      Paul

  8. What a beautiful, moving post, Paul. I appreciate, as always, you letting us in on your life; you share, and we all learn. So thank you for your service. I agree with all the commenters before me, I can relate to letting ego stand in the way of doing the work that needs to be done. Such a vicious cycle, and all it gets us is more pain. You inspire me to get going on some step work, so thanks for the nudge!

    Also, and I will probably need to reach you off line for this… as a comrade in our 12-step fellowship, I am so intrigued by the concept of doing the step work through the format of another fellowship. I have never heard of this, and I am interested in hearing more! I will have to get in touch with questions, and I am so interested in any follow-up posts you may write on this subject (then again, I am interested in every post you write, so this last sentence is pretty redundant).
    Hope you are enjoying your weekend 🙂

    • Thank you Josie – I was rather hesitant in posting this, because I didn’t want to come off as…well, I don’t know how I thought I would come off, but I just wanted to be more honest with myself. Spent my whole life deceiving myself. Don’t want to be like that in recovery!

      It’s been mad at work, so I haven’t finished my work on this step, but will do it tomorrow. Hard to approach this with a tired mind and exhausted body. But I will persevere…I have to. Just like the first time 🙂

      And yes, email me. I can be more specific than I am here.

      I am working this weekend (as I do every weekend), but it’s been good over all. Hope you and the family are well 🙂

  9. Wow. You don’t know how much I can relate to this Paul. In so many ways, I’m right where you’re at. And, that part that you quoted from ACA is so right on. Thanks for your honesty and sharing this. It gets me thinking about some changes I need to make.

    • Hi Chenoa – thanks for the comments. I’m happy to hear that I am not alone in this. I know it’s a journey and sometimes I just have a hard time accepting things. Usually I do. But I get my moments. And it’s in those moments that my monkey mind starts going. But in the end, as I mentioned, I am generally well. Happy. But I know that I can’t sit on these things because my alcoholic mind can turn. I guess I am just being vigilant. I’ve seen too many others go out because of this. I hope you are doing well, my friend 🙂

      Blessings

  10. I am also so grateful for this post. have kept coming back to it and seeing new things in it as my reflection upon it deepens. I so appreciate your willingness to continue upon the journey of self-examination and your grace in sharing it with us. this: ‘I let my intellectual pride lead the way when I should be letting my heart and my Higher Power do it’: yes. yes.

    and also thank you for gently showing me the addictive face of some of my own behaviours. don’t you just love it when that stone you’ve been staring at stands up and wanders off on its own turtle legs?!

    • Thanks prim…love when you’re here and comment 🙂

      I love that turtle analogy! Anything with turtles I love. So very me in so many ways. But yes, I am opening my eyes to some behaviours of mine that stem from the same place that my alcohol use derived from. They are sometimes obvious and often not so obvious. It’s no surprise that much of our behaviours switch to other things – food, sugar, sex, working out, etc. I know a few people who got into shoplifting after getting sober. Strange, but that need for *something* in their lives took over. I am not there, but I don’t want to find myself in a sticky situation (emotionally, mentally, etc) and then wonder how I got there!

      Anyway, thank you for the kind words. Means a lot to me.

      Blessings,
      Paul

  11. Godd stuff! Also, difficult to formulate words to even comment on this intense piece.. I really like your response to Josie, “spent my life deceiving myself”. Pretty much sums up my entire adult life. When all of the smoke, cream, fluff, and confusion clears up, that is exactly the core stump that is left heaped on the ground like a stupid, smoking, and deceiving clump. Thank you for your very insightful post.

  12. Hey Paul! Excellent post. I read it through about 4 times, pondering your concerns and revelations and work. You know what struck me? I have, at times drunk very heavily, but I dont think I am an alcoholic (it may have been close a few times)- I rarely drink more than a bottle of wine a month now. However, some of the struggles you are describing are the same struggles that I deal with as well,; including intellectual and spiritual elitism, ego, sublimation of self, dealing with my previous selves (that would be me in the past not as in schizophrenia), seeking God’s will, pride,etc.

    I know that your struggles with acoholism have given you a perspective that i don’t have and you can and do link a lot in your life to that experience – and properly and necessarily so in order to maintain control. That being said, I think you may be digging into the “normal” and “typical” behavioiur and thought patterns that we all have. Granted it is from a direction that is not typical, but nonetheless, still very familiar to anyone who has lived an examined life for any reason.

    You have dug deeper by pursuing a more difficult program in order to continue your work as you seem to feel it is incomplete. That is the same feeling that many of us share – that we have more to do, further to go, and falling back is not an option. I get the sneaking suspicion that that same feeling will pursue us to our graves. I don’t think you are alone by any means Paul.

    As far as your previous life is concerned, I know your circumstances were not “average” but, given that, I think you will find that any honest person will have tales to tell of their past that they would not normally wish brought up.Perhaps not as concerning as yours or perhaps more concerning. I deal with this by perceiving my past as a separate person – one i was/am responsible for, but nonetheless a previous incarnation of myself. And then i forgive that person, because it always seems easier to forgive someone else than myself – at least so i’ve found. This seems to lift a lot of weight off my shoulders – and for sure involves something greater than myself and all that is around me. A sort of way to harness that greater power.

    Anyway, Paul, excellent post. All this to say that whatever your initial intentions with treatment, you have progressed to a level that covers all of humanity – not just those who have suffered as you have. I suspect that if we trace this back in time, it will become clear that although many have not shared your background, your actions and discoveries are, indeed a part of us all on some level. Thank You for your strength and for sharing.

    • Thank you so very, very much for this, Paul. I think that you are right in your observations – that much of what I discuss goes further than what recovering alcoholics or addicts deal with. These are human things. This is why I appreciate the thoughts from those who are not in recovery, as they can tie this into their lives as well. And I am very glad that it transcends basic recovery. Because this is the tough stuff. Stopping drinking and staying stopped is one thing. But delving into the human psyche and spirit is another. The struggle of sublimation of self (love that term) is age old and is the basis for many practices and spiritual paths.

      In recovery we talk about the “normies” – those without addiction in their lives. And we talk about them as if they had super powers – how do they live life without numbing agents? How do they deal with things? We prop them up at the expense of putting ourselves down because we have preconceived thoughts that we are inferior and you guys “lucked out”. But hold the phones – *everyone* struggles with something. Everyone. One need not have dramatic situations to have that struggle of “who am I?” and “what does this all mean?”

      And you are absolutely right that we take these struggles to our end. Constantly evolving, changing, shifting. We will discover so much about ourselves on our journeys, if we are open to it. And you sound like you are on quite a journey Paul. I know we can all pretty much substitute “drinking” for some other kind of activity or way of being that may have served us at some time, but no longer did. And we hope we can forgive that old incarnation, as you stated, and continue to move forward.

      Thank you again Paul for this – I loved it and one of my favourite comments here ever. You really hit the nail on the head in terms of this whole journey…for all of us.

      Blessings and thanks for being here.
      Paul

  13. Trying for the second time as WordPress was playing silly buggers yesterday. Paul that passage from ACA could have been written about me. It still stuns me how similar we all are but in a good way. Thanks as always Paul xx

    • Sorry to hear about the gremlins there, Lucy. That is why sometimes I put my response in Word and then cut and paste…just in case. Been burned way too long typing long responses and have them disappear!

      But yeah – pretty amazing how we have similar traits. We keep thinking we are so unique (and we are in many ways, of course) and yet here we are – sharing and nodding our heads.

      Hope you are doing well 🙂

  14. Paul,
    I am always (for lack of a better word at 2:30 AM) excited and interested in a persons struggle with their addiction, and the courage to put it out there to the strangers who read their blog. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have such an addiction and have the courage to stop.

    I myself, believe that addiction is in the DNA, passed down through the generations, My son believes the opposite that it is a choice. He was an active heroin addict’s for over 10 years and it almost tore our family in to pieces. He is sober now and trying to figure out what caused his addiction, and he believes it comes from his childhood. He believes that something in his childhood snapped his synopsis and caused him to be an addict. Myself I know how he was raised, he was raised with love.

    I now know things now that I didn’t know before about addiction. I am an RN, and I saw it a lot in my line of work. People being admitted to the facility, To feed their addiction through IV, which by the way is a powerful concoction when administered by IV. I’m saying Demoral or morphine mixed with Phenergan, etc. I knew that that was why they were there, But as a nurse you have to play their game and agree that their pain is real, And I know that it is real, that they tell you it’s a 10 it’s never a one it’s always a 10 on the pain scale of how bad does it hurt from 1 to 10. I felt sadness for these people because it always reminded me of my own problems with my son and his addiction to heroin. He had told me that the pain from withdrawl was an all over the body pain not just localized in one area as patients tried to tell you

    Paul, I am so very proud of you for the steps that you are taking to make yourself well, to be able to become the person that you want to become. I am just extremely very proud of you! I enjoyed your blog very much.

    The Mom
    Kris

    • Thank you Kris so much for this hopeful and honest share. I believe that we are predisposed to this. I don’t feel anything “causes” alcoholism / addiction. I too was raised by loving parents – I had what I needed, got love, got hugs, support, encouragement, etc. and yet I still felt “broken” inside. Alcohol was a way to eradicate those feelings and to try to live a “normal” life. For others, it might be heroin or gambling or anonymous sex. My brother grew up in the same house and he’s not an alcoholic, so I don’t see it at an environmental thing, although in some cases I can see how alcohol abuse can happen.

      I never did hard drugs, or drugs really for that matter, but I certainly know what alcohol withdrawal is like, and it’s not pretty. I had DT’s – massive shakes, hallucinations (auditory and visual) and couldn’t sleep for three days straight. Horrible. So I understand that 10 out of 10 thing.

      Anyway, glad Dustin is doing well and that you are so supportive. Believe me, it makes a huge difference for us.

      Blessings to you and your family 🙂

      Paul

    • But I can’t just BE Rebecca! I have to DO things and BE something….LOL. (Just kidding – hype hysteria that my mind likes to play on me sometimes). I’ll get there. I know down in the core of me that I am fine. I really do. I just have to shed more and more to get to that place. You rock, my friend 🙂

      • Hi Paul, thank you for your post. I’ve just been out here a few days and find it all very interesting. And, I am curious after what you say here; I have to DO things and BE something. It very much relates to my life time conviction that ‘normal is not good enough’ – for me at least, it is of course very much ok for all other people, if they are into being normal and stuff ;-). I have thought about this and I somehow feel that it is a very basic misunderstanding in me that stimulates addiction in all its forms. Do you, or does anybody here, have a clue as to how this misconception ‘works’?

        • I am not entirely sure why it is we think the way(s) we do. I have heard alcoholism described as the “disease of more”. More booze, more feelings, more ego, more validation, more me, more more more…so the thought of “normal is not good enough” falls in line with that, methinks. It also puts me in a place of being superior. That is, it’s okay for “you guys” to be such and such, but for ME, I am held to a loftier ideal.

          Ego.

          And ego, alongside self-centered fears, drives my character defects and that feeling of wanting MORE. But I realize that what I need is already within me. Just accessing it is the work 🙂

          Thanks for the comments 🙂

  15. Pingback: I feel like this. quite a lot of the time. | taking a new path·

  16. I too enjoyed this post! I found myself taking notes.
    I agree with the other Paul.
    To be or not to be. That is the question.
    Life; it’s tough but oh so revealing in so many ways!
    peace

    • thanks Pamela (I apologize for the late reply in this, by the way!). To be or not to be truly is the question.
      Like layers of an onion, we are always pulling back the layers of life 🙂

      Thanks for the read and comments!!

      Paul

  17. This a fantastic post. I had to pause when your friend asked what is your alcoholism to you. I was thinking that alcoholism seems almost like the wrong word for what bothers me. Because my immediate answer was “an escape”. Which is pretty much what all of my bad behaviors are. Now I am better at noticing a feeling and instead of trying to find a way away from it, I identify it and check around for real things I can do about it. Sometimes the answer is nothing, in which case I can often let it go, even if only temporarily.

    I always get weirded out when people say something I’ve said or done is “brave” or that I set a good example because most of the time I feel like I’m just surviving and putting one foot in front of the other (preferable to stumbling down drunk). Not that I don’t hope that my honesty doesn’t help someone on their own path, but just that I am painfully aware that I am no expert on anything and just work hard to not screw up. Hardly brave or exemplary.

    Sorry so long here. I guess you got me thinking, which is a good thing. So, thank you.

    • Hi Judith – please forgive the lateness in this reply (I was in a particularly tough work schedule around this time). Anyway, what you said is bang on for me. The idea that we’re “brave” and “courageous” doesn’t hold water for me often. I understand that there is *some* sort of courage required in doing the work, but for me, it was desperation. I guess we are doing what we’re supposed to be doing – being alive and present to ourselves and others.

      My honesty is all I have for the most part. People say that I am very honest, but again, it’s not that I am portraying something – it’s just where I am at in this journey. I am sure I am in denial about some things, and not always as honest as I can be. But when I can…I will. And as you said, it’s about sharing. That’s what we do 🙂

      thanks for this and again, sorry for the delay in getting back to you!

      Cheers and happy running!

  18. I love how vulnerable and truthful you are! What you write about sounds like it is hard for you but from where I stand you are brave and strong in your self-discovery.

    My sponsor and I recently walked out of a meeting debating which one of us caused a member to run out abruptly. We both thought we had; to which my sponsor said, “We’re all fucked up.” I laughed at this because, ain’t it the truth?

    I am glad John told you to put the whip down. I’ll do the same. 🙂

    Fern

    • thanks Fern – sorry about the delay in getting back to this (I am pretty anal about getting to every comment, regardless of how old it is).

      It’s true about us all being f*cked up in our ways. AA ain’t a hotbed of sanity at all times. We are all there to grow and we’re not always at our best. Then again, I can say that about most people in general. I am trying to get right sized, and that generally means ego deflation. Something that is proving to be a bit more difficult than I thought 😉

      Glad you’re here, as usual, my friend 🙂

  19. This comment has been one of the most helpful I have read to date ‘ “How is your addiction acting out today”? Wow, that is so helpful and has literally stopped me in my tracks numerous times throughout the day. When I try to do something so that I am not seen as incompetent or “bad”, I realize that this is my addiction acting out – it’s not me. Love it. It’s also very helpful in dealing with and understanding others behaviors – I can have more compassion when I ask the question or acknowledge that perhaps it is that persons’ addiction acting out and not necessarily the real person. Fabulous Paul – thanks for the insight!!

    • Thanks Lyn for reading and commenting! I am glad you found something in this. I think you nailed something here – compassion. Sometimes I will disregard what someone says because I know it’s because of X, Y or Z. Like when my kids are grumpy because their just hungry. In many ways, we come from places that aren’t out of malice, but out of whatever it is we are struggling with. When I talk to other alcoholics, and they say / do something that I might find distasteful or what not, I think about how I used to act at that point. I try to show compassion.

      Thanks for making me think about this again.

      Blessings 🙂
      Paul

  20. Wow, reading this and seeing some of the responses boy can I relate, especially, “Be gentle to yourself,” and how you can see it for everyone else. I am going through it, I cannot forgive myself for my daughter’s problems. I cannot let go of the guilt, shame and pain I feel. She’s in jail now, safe for the time being. We are trying to get her into a long term treatment facility but the truth, she’ll be 18 in a month, have access to her trust fund and I’m scared to death. She will be in jail long past her 18th birthday but I am so terrified for the day she gets out and a treatment facility is just wishful thinking. Until she wants it, nothing we do will matter except to continue on my own journey and continue to do my recovery work, stay clean and forge ahead one small step at a time. I have to patiently wait for her to be ready and it tears me up inside, the what-ifs, the guilt, I’m learning but it is challenging and being gentle to myself is something that doesn’t exist in my world but I can see it for everyone else.

    • Oh Amy…I can’t imagine what this is like for you. I am watching my kids playing now and I can’t imagine them in that situation. But then again I am sure my folks never thought they would be getting their 40 yr old son from the police station after blowing major over with their 3 1/2 yr old grandson in the back seat. ugh. But as you said, she’s safe there at least. Thank God for small blessings.

      And what you said is true – you can only work on your recovery and be there if and when she she is ready for help. that’s all we can do. Are you or have you looked into Alanon / Narcanon? I know it helps many families deal with their own feelings and such while someone in their family suffers from addiction.

      Treatment center saved my life. I hope that she agrees to get herself help.

      Thank you for this reminder and my prayers out to you guys:)

      • Unfortunately someone in my family went and got her out of jail yesterday. I’m concerned for both of them. This is an absolute disaster and there’s nothing I can do. I’m going to have to stay away and stay out of it and only work on myself and protect me, my recovery and my mental health and my teenage boys. This is a difficult time indeed but what’s done is done, if I wallow in self pity & guilt it will eat me alive. I have found a great outlet, writing! and calling my sponsor and getting to my meetings and going to my therapy appts and living my life one day at a time. That’s all I can do, I have no control over anyone else but me.

        • I am so sorry to hear this, Amy. But you are copping the best attitude towards this. I was just commenting to someone just now about how other people’s journeys are their own, and we *about* the person but we can’t care *for* them. You have your own path to forge ahead on, and you aren’t going to be any good to her if you’re in a state (emotionally, etc.). she may need to lean on you sooner than later. Of course you will be there, but at this point…ugh, it’s her life. I can’t imagine being in that position, but that is about the only thing that can be done.

          You are in a place to be a living example of recovery and that may attract her at some point. Be open and available, but as my sponsor says, we can’t go over to that side of the train tracks to get that person, but we can be waiting here on this side when they decide to cross over.

          Blessings and hugs
          Paul

  21. Paul, I dropped by as I’m just back from our holiday in the UK and have about 24 hours until my nose is back to the grindstone (I am going to remove it occasionally and scream ‘BK’ at Mr WG if he’s the tiniest bit tardy with my coffee :D). We had a weird summer visit to the UK – deeply dark in places and ultimately more rewarding because of that – and I left feeling so happy to be growing and not a ‘grown up’ who thinks they’re about as ‘done’ as they’ll ever be. The excerpt you included from the ACA book is absolutely my sister, who’s really struggling as a result of having lived her life this way so far. I’ve always been The Selfish Brat of the family (am I in the book? am I in the book?) so although there’s loads of love, there’s not too much common ground between us and I am struggling to know how to help her. I think the ACA book could be a good place to look. I bloody love the honesty in your writing. It always, always speaks to Lil’ Ole [Former] Wine Drinker Me and Normie Me.

    • Hey!! There’s a friendly blast from the not-so-past 🙂 So happy to see you here! Glad you’re back and yeah, what a trip you had!

      Sorry to hear about your sister. I think that while love is so important, it doesn’t solve all. We still need tools, and perhaps your sister might do well with something like that. The ACA book is something I think I may look into, even though I don’t qualify as an adult child of an alcoholic. There is no shame in using tools to help us deal with things. We all do and it brings us to a lighter place in our lives.

      Selfish brat? Oh, we’re ALL in the book on that one…lol! I still am in many ways 🙂 Thanks for your words and sharing. I am glad you’re back. I hope you have time to decompress and all 🙂

      Blessings,
      Paul

  22. Pingback: and no birds sing | taking a new path·

  23. and I had my homework ready – a list of things I was powerless over and how my life was unmanageable.

    Awesome. Isn’t addiction really idolatry? Which is simply worshiping an aspect of ourself, not Whom we were meant to worship? And what often drives the addiction – a severe form of the idolatry we all commit – is fear of not being satisfied, taken care of. So we go on the hunt for counterfeit pleasures.

    • I have never, ever heard addiction described like this and I LOVE it. Outstanding in its depth and understanding, yet simple. Counterfeit pleasures – awesome. And so very true. We talk about trying to fill God-sized hole with different things, but we all know one thing fits snugly in there 🙂

      Thank you Diana for this.
      Blessings

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