Discovering My Balance in the Midst of Chaos

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During a “getting caught up” phone call with a good friend last night, I was giving her the scoop on all the craziness currently surrounding me.  I am definitely going through something, but I’m not feeling out of control.  I laughed when she said it sounds like I’m really handling everything well.  “Perhaps,” I replied, “But I feel like I’m on the awkward side of clumsy through all of this.”  She described a perfect image of one of those wobbly dolls bearing a weight in its center.  The doll moves around, but never losses its balance.  Yeah, that’s about right. 

Image  This is me right now, and I know we’ve all been here.  It’s not exactly my world that is caving in, but I’m standing in the middle of something that feels like a mild hurricane.  Things are getting thrown at me from several directions, and people are challenging me without even knowing they are doing it.  It’s part of their role in my life right now.  I’m being provoked because I’ve been desiring to become more independent and I’m desperately trying to listen to my own inner voice, which often gets eclipsed by the needs and wants of others.  How many times in my life have I disconnected from my own self in order to please another person, or to win over their approval?  How many times have I compromised my own values so that I feel safe, instead of stand strong and trust that I will be provided for when I follow the right path?  Too many times to count, and I’m not doing it anymore.  I may be wobbly in thought, but I’m not being pulled by someone else’s idea of what is right for me.  And then there’s the question nagging inside of me… Am I being to stubborn, or too selfish?  This is when the wobbling begins.  I often doubt myself because I haven’t had a lot of practice listening and following my own inner voice.  The outside voices are louder and some of the choices I’m offered to make, appear more cushy and safe than me trying to stand on my own two feet for once. 

But then I recall my past, when I did make those cushy and safe choices in my life.  Where did I end up?  Oh, that’s right… DRUNK.  The further I get away from myself, the closer I am to picking up a drink to drown out the calling of my soul.  I have this really assertive soul, you see, that does not rest.  It beckons me like a beacon light… I’m telling you.  It’s like it came here to accomplish specific things and when I stray away from my path, I’m insanely unhappy.  I realize I may be different from a lot of people, and perhaps no one can relate to me here, but this is what I deal with in my life.  I’m clear about my path, and sometimes I’ve got to stand up for myself when other people are telling me which direction to take, because they are not living inside my body.  They don’t know what I need.  Only I know this.  “To thyself be true.”  Someone wise said this.  I’m pretty certain he was a fellow writer… 

I’m still coming off as rebellious and perhaps a little immature, but it’s my inner child screaming to break free this time around.  I never let that little one have her way while I was growing up.  I shut her down and oppressed her.  To quiet her, I poured drinks inside my body and took drugs.  Now she is free, and I’m unaccustomed to allowing her to lead the way.  I’m giving her a voice now, but she’s undeveloped and sometimes stomps her foot and throws little tantrums while my adult-self is lost in the shadows of her zeal for life. As a whole,  I am still breaking free from the restraints of my childhood, and I’m not perfect at this endeavor.  But for once in my life, I am not afraid.  I do not fear walking along the right path.  I may offend some, ignore others, and bark up the wrong trees at times, but I think of this as my soul learning how to navigate through the noise of other people.  From the outside it may appear that I’m a little off-balance, but from within (from this perspective), I’m becoming aware of my place here.  This is nothing short of a miracle. 

I’m discovering that by taking a chance and allowing my voice to be heard for once, I’m offering myself unto the judgment of others.  I also hear my own inner judge, but I’m not letting her rule this time around.  There is a little word I heard about in treatment, called compassion.  I’m giving myself compassion right now.  I’m not perfect.  I’m still on the awkward side of clumsy, but I’m ok with this.  I have been in much more compromising positions in my life than this… in front of the whole world (literally), and I suppose this is why I don’t have a problem with judgment any longer.  People judge.  This is the nature of humanity.

As I walk into the chaos surrounding me today, I’m just going to wobble my way through, and trust that inner weight of my soul has the courage to keep me centered.  I’m not allowing the world to sway me from this awkward balance of mine.  Pretty soon, I will be more like a sturdy oak tree with arms extending out into the world so that I can help others like me.  But for now, I will be the little wobbly doll, and I am absolutely ok with it, because at least I am not drinking.  This is why I consider my chaotic life an absolute victory.

How Long Will the Cravings Last?

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The obsession to drink and use can become so overwhelming in early recovery, that we give in just to stop the noise of our minds.  I recall a desperate time of my addiction when I was in a constant battle with myself.  More than anything, I wanted to quit drinking, but my thirsty addict-self was a monster inside me, breathing down my neck in repulsion of my weak sobriety.  For me, it took getting into a treatment program to save me from that monster, but many people tackle the beast by simply getting a sponsor and working an honest program, or by recognizing the voice of the addict and not giving in to its desire to use.  As a chronic relapser, my monster was well groomed by the end of my drinking.  It knew if it became loud enough, I would do whatever it took to get it a drink.  This was how the beast grew and overwhelmed me in the end.

In treatment, I spent six months with a mindset that I was never going to have a drink while I was in there.  I had no money, no friends or family nearby, and no transportation.  Leaving the facility would be a shot in the dark to nurture the beast, so he remained silent, but when I left the program to enter the real world, I would face the greatest challenge of my life.  You see, the beast was growing inside of me all of those months, and now I was dealing with a terrorizing bully inside of me. He arose when I was at my weakest, and he caught me off-guard.  

It was about seven months after treatment… one year and three months into sobriety, when the bully shadowed everything I learned in recovery.  He was not backing down while I was emotionally grieving for the first time since I left the doors of the treatment center.  The monster was so loud, it eclipsed my instincts to call a sober friend, or to go to a meeting.  I was alone and it had me captive, so there I was face to face with my addict-self, and it was winning, but suddenly I whispered something that saved my life, “God, please help me right now.  Please help.”  My body was shaking as I thought about buying a pint of vodka, knowing exactly which liquor store I would make the purchase, and as I salivated for that warm buzz.  Nothing was about to stop me, but when I whispered those words, I grabbed my backpack and ran; not to the liquor store, but right up the Berkeley Hills where the treatment facility was located.  I walked into the sacred place and slid down into a wooden bench in front of the front desk where one of my closest peers just happened to be working that day.  I melted into tears and told on myself, “I was just about to drink…” 

I spent the remainder of the day inside that facility, joining my peers in groups and telling the woman what it felt like to be defeated by my emotions.  I spoke to a couple of counsellors and went home feeling both drained and victorious.  I had never overcome a craving of that magnitude, and it was empowering.  What I didn’t know was that I was well on my way to defeating that beast inside of me.  My cravings are far and few in-between these days, and they certainly don’t last very long when I stay with them and allow them to be part of my experience, without giving in to their greed for my sanity. 

I’ve been sober for two years, eleven months and four days.  The obsession to drink is far removed, but I’m not going to lie and say that I have won this battle.  Just a few months ago I was side-swiped with devastating news and the first thing I wanted to do was buy a bottle of vodka.  This came out of nowhere.  Sometimes I can go months and deal with many emotional upswings and downswings without thinking about alcohol, but once in a great while, it will overcome me, and usually when it’s least expected.  I think of recovery as a practice of NOT DRINKING.  Every time I move through a craving without picking up, I’m exercising my sober-self, and my beast is finally backing down.   

What keeps me from taking a drink these days is the self-respect I feel, the love I have for myself, and knowing that taking a drink will not solve anything.  It will set me back and I do not want to feel like a failure.  I have never felt so good about who I am, where I’m going and my sobriety.  I’m simply happy and life is so much easier without an addiction to battle.  

Although I can’t give you an exact day when the obsession to drink and use will diminish, I can tell you that the more you practice NOT using, the stronger you will become.  And it certainly gets easier as time goes on.  Think of the cravings as the treacherous road you must travel in order to get to your destination.  Allow them to overcome your body once in a while, knowing that this road is temporary on your long term journey.  The cravings won’t last more than a few hours, and usually they diminish within an hour.  Sometimes we’ve got to walk through the fire to get to the oasis.  Don’t let the beast take over your soul.  It is your battle to win, and you are strong enough to claim your victory.  Discover this for yourself; it is incredibly empowering!

http://www.amazon.com/THE-DEVILS-ALTAR-Dynamic-Recovery-ebook/dp/B00FO72854/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395671279&sr=8-1-fkmr1&keywords=the+devil%27s+altar+by+J.+L.+Forbes

The Droning Search for Meaning

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Much of my life has been spent searching for meaning.  More specifically, my purpose for being here.  I have never bought into an idea that there is no purpose for my life and that death is the end all for me.  If this were the case, I would have never stopped drinking.

My curiosity and questioning has dominated any savage religious doctrine that I was predestined to buy into, or some lackluster philosophy that this human experience is strictly non-dimensional and linear.  I do not believe that this is an assembly line we were born into with random moments of bliss.  If this were the case, why do we have endless desire, multiple talents and brilliant minds?  Why are there varying degrees of personalities, stars which bring us to awe and an instinctual yearning for exploration?  Why is there unfathomable beauty, immeasurable contrast and limitless color?  How do we explain harmony, expansion, octaves, vibrations, music and the depths of love, if creation is simply an accidental calamity?  Why the full spectrum of emotions we experience as opposed to robotic responses?  What’s with laughter and humor?  Why do we dream and why do we have an endless myriad of choices?  Why do humans both differ so immensely and correlate so intimately?  Doesn’t everything we experience from birth to death point to a bigger picture?  I conclude, it certainly does.

If we were here to merely exist and then to die, what’s with the magic in between?  I mean really, why fuss with teasers of unexplainable phenomenon if there isn’t something greater happening?  What on earth, exactly, would be the point?

When life began feeling like an assembly line, somewhere in my mid-teen years, I had a vivid image of being a meaningless ant in a droning line of other ants, hauling salvaged crumbs around as a desperate method of survival.  I grew restless, irritable and discontent, constantly staring at metaphoric ant butts while carrying the lead weight of life upon my shoulders.  Unable to bare the tedium of my existence for long stretches of time, I created ways to make things more exciting for myself which included excessive drug use, drinking and spontaneous decision making.

This eighteen year stretch of insanity led to me finally admitting that I am completely powerless over alcohol and drugs, and that my life had become completely unmanageable (Step 1 of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous).  I made this assessment several times throughout my drug and alcoholic years, but the final declaration was on April 21, 2011.  This is my sobriety date.

When I finally decided to quit the delusional race of running away from myself, the first steps of an incredible journey began.  It has been over two years of continuous sobriety; something I never believed was possible.  What has also occurred on this journey of mine, is that I am fully discovering a beautiful and complete person who I left behind in the wake of my running.  It is as if I have returned to the innocent child I once abandoned, and we are reconnecting on a very deep level…

(Except from ‘The Devil’s Altar’ now on Kindle – coming soon in paperback).

Discouragement in Recovery

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I’m barely keeping my head above water.  I’ve worked diligently and trusted my intuition.  The stars are visible, but beyond my reach.  I’m wading in a river, and I’ve grown weary of floating along.  I feel as if an anchor is tied to my feet and the bottom feeders patiently await my rotting corpse.  What am I wading for?  I ask myself this question as I keep on writing.  The words keep flowing, although the readers are few.  I’m staying afloat only by my own words, which seem bottomless in depth, yet I need a stairway out of this fucken river.  Or maybe I’ve set my sights too high…

There is a dock taunting me, always.  It’s that blasted career of mine that’s kept me just above water. But this dock has been the crutch holding me close to the shoreline, when I’m longing for the ocean; the abundance.  Such a mediocre life.  I’ve always desired something more fulfilling; something that brings ultimate deliverance from the monetary drudging.  But I continue writing because it is a natural high when the words pour out of me. It’s all I’ve got, yet it’s difficult to reach the heights of my dreams. I don’t know why I thought it would be so easy. Instead of wading here, or going against the current, I’ll swim downstream with the river without resistance to the discouragement I’m experiencing today.

As I ponder and analyze, swimming circles around myself, mentally aspiring to outsmart the system, I’m lifted to a new place. Perhaps it’s merely driftwood I grab a hold of during this moment of weariness as I’m trying to stay consciously afloat, but it comes at the exact right time, and I must laugh at myself for not noticing it before. It’s been beside me the whole time I’ve been drudging here, and what it represents is the safety of my recovery.

Look at ME! I’m going through all of this today, following last night’s realization that what I write is not by popular demand. Most people are interested in fiction or intellectual prose. I write notes to the soul; not by choice, but because no matter how much I try, the keyboard and pen take over, and the voice of my intuition is much louder than my imagination. I don’t have much control on the words that organize themselves before me, and going against them only brings me inner conflict. Here I am climbing upon this beautiful piece of driftwood as it takes me downstream, and suddenly, there is no conflict of nature. I’m simply floating along without struggle now, as I’m reminded that during this time of discouragement, I am still 100% intact. I am SOBER! There is no desire here to drink, or even consideration to alter my mind or my experience.

It’s clear to me, after the years without a drink, that I don’t ever need one. I’m perfectly capable of being discouraged without a need to self-destruct. If anything, I should recall the stormy days and nights along this river when it was freezing and there was no dock to support me. I should remember when I was sucked into the whirlpools and slammed against the rocks without mercy, due to my own self-sabotaging ways. Wow, what a lovely reprieve from my discouragement. How could I be so blind?

Hmmm… I guess I should spend some time taking it easy with this lifesaving notion that regardless of my monetary discouragement, I’m making my way in this world without a bottle to carry me through. I’m literally above water now, and why the hell have I been so hard on myself? Let’s keep things in perspective from here on out… shall we?

Three Statements I Live By, to Keep Me Sober

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If you are anything like me (and I’m guessing you are, if you’ve come to the brilliant conclusion that drinking and/or using drugs is not the solution to your problems), you’ve tried to get sober countless times, but something finally worked (or you are currently trying to figure out what will work), and it would be in your best interest to KNOW exactly what that missing link is.  I’m pretty analytical, so I’ve often found myself going in deep with a gazillion questions… “What is it that makes one person this way, and other people that way?”  What I’ve determined in my surveillances of the world and everyone around me, is that the way people THINK, directly affects or alters the outcome of their experience.  (I’ve also read a ton of books on the subject).

Perception is relevant, and everyone is having an entirely different experience of the world by the way they see things, or by how they feel and what they think while they are having the experience.  Step outside of that limited box of perception, into the infinite world of awareness of your experiences as they occur, and discover a place where you are no longer persuaded by emotional responses, or triggered by your ravenous thoughts.  We forget that WE are not our emotions or our thoughts – WE go beyond these temporary internal ebb and flows.  And the most important thing I’m about to say, is that we have the power to completely modify the way we think, so that our emotional response will follow. 

I’ve programmed my brain, you see, so that whenever I’m tempted by my addict mind, an immediate tape rolls out and plays along the margins of my psyche.  If I see or feel something that triggers me to desire a drink, I quickly play the tape, which looks something like this..

What a beautiful glass of champagne.  I could have one glass of champagne… no problem.  It would taste so refreshing, and what a treat!  OH, SHIT, what am I THINKING?  Yeah, I’m going to have that glass of champagne, and then I’m going to want another one.  That second one won’t be enough, so I’m going to make friends with the bartender over there, and we’re gonna party it down tonight.  He has no idea that I’m an alcoholic, so it will be impressive to him with how much I can drink and still remain standing.  I’ll continue drinking because I can’t stop, and then I’m gonna get shitty, and I’ll completely black out and throw myself at whatever man comes along.  I’ll most likely wake up not knowing how I got home, or outside somewhere on someone’s lawn with my dress stained with my own urine.   NOPE… I DO NOT need that one glass of champagne 

STATEMENT #1: “PLAY THE TAPE.”

Change the way your brain thinks whenever you have a sudden desire to drink or use. This has been essential in my own recovery. That tape was obsolete the last few times I tried to remain sober. This time around, I’m BFFs with that damn roll of film.

STATEMENT #2: “NEVER FORGET!”

Simple enough – Just bring yourself right back to your final rock bottom when your addict mind temps you to use. GO THERE, and remind yourself what it was like, and what will happen if you decide to relapse.

STATEMENT #3: “NO MATTER WHAT…”

This is one I didn’t know about until I went to treatment and a dynamic counselor, who was a former junkie, went around the facility and had us make a pact to ourselves. “NO MATTER WHAT… I will not use drugs or drink.” No matter WHAT! This means if the world is about to end because of a polar shift followed by an impending ice age, and I’m sheltered in the only place left standing, which just happens to be an old dive bar somewhere in Australia, and I’m offered whisky by an attractive Aussie to keep myself warm, and to numb the impact of the trauma, I will absolutely, no matter what, DECLINE the offer to drink.

Yeah, that’s how far my imagination goes with things… otherwise I’m screwed in any situation.

So this is my formula, and it seems to be working for me. I deliberately programmed my own mind, changed the way I think so that I immediately go to these three statements, and I’m still sober today after nearly three years. My emotional response in turn, has shifted from longing to laughter. All of these statements bring me right back to where I was at the end of my rope, and I know that I no longer have to live that way. I am free now, and LOVING LIFE. Why would I ever go back to that space? You have the power to change your thinking, so I encourage you to do so…

Play the Tape. Never Forget. No Matter What.

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My Relentless Search for God (Empowering)

There is an innate question within all of us… Is there a God, and if so, where can I meet this maker of mine? For me, the question was not being fully answered within the walls of my church, although the attempt was whole heartedly made. Determined and starving for greater knowledge, I went on a journey to find God. Not without peril, I inadvertently found my way to a place I least expected. This is a poetic version of how I discovered spiritual sustenance after years of feeling separated from God. Follow me on Twitter @authorjlforbes

What Does it Take to Remain Eternally Sober?

Change your thinking

I recently heard someone say, “Hang out with people who have the same passions; not the people who harbor the same problems,” yet for those of us in recovery, it has been ingrained in us that we must go to meetings, or else our sobriety is on the line.  I don’t disagree that meetings are a great way to remind myself that I should never drink again, but I am certainly not convinced that without them, I’m inevitably going to drink.  If I’m that close to having a drink, I trust myself enough now, to do whatever it takes to get myself back on track.  There are several ways to do this, and most of the time, it means spending time with a friend who is also in recovery.  Going to a meeting is secondary; being aware that I am slipping, is primary.  Because meetings are so conveniently available, they are a great reprieve during a sudden moment of craving (which I haven’t had in quite some time, btw), but they are not a cure-all.  Meetings are also a wonderful crutch during early recovery, but like any crutch in life; once the wound has healed, it’s time to stand on your own two feet. Before going to treatment for six solid months, I desperately tried to become and remain sober, yet sometimes after a meeting, I was more thirsty for an alcoholic beverage than I was before I walked into the room.  Hitting a bar on the way out didn’t sound so awful… and the liquor stores are everywhere.

So what does it take to remain sober?

First off, I’ve stopped telling myself that I’m simply not going to drink “Just for today.”  What a load of crap – I know, and you know, that recovery means I am never going to have a goddamn drink, or pick up a drug, for the remainder of my entire life. Let’s make this abundantly clear.  Let’s allow it to sink in… and welcome the anger that floods your body with this realization.  Allow the grief to overcome you for a while.  Embrace the full experience of knowing that you cannot drink or use drugs, ever again. When all of this intense emotion eventually passes (or flows through you, and then departs for good)… you have just entered into the lovely place of ultimate acceptance.  This is where you’ll want to hang out for the remainder of your life.  It’s a liberating space to navigate in, and it works for just about everything (acceptance of being chubby, bald, weird, etc…).  It’s the key to long-term, eternal sobriety.  It’s like you are saying, “No matter what… I will not pick up a drink or use a drug…” PERIOD. 

It’s time we reconditioned our thinking.  This is not the 1930’s.  People are evolving.  Self-awareness is trending.  Institutions are becoming obsolete because people are waking up and discovering their own innate sovereignty.  Because I’m a person who was submerged in religious fear as a child, and then spent most of my adult life trying to break free from that fear, I’m thoroughly convinced that fear is not the answer to overcoming anything; addictions included.  If I buy into the belief that my sobriety rides on the thin line of making a meeting every other day (or whatever), then I’m pretty much thoroughly f*cked.  What if one unfortunate day, I become stranded on a deserted island and I’m inadvertently surrounded by fermenting fruit… Here I am completely caught off guard… yet NO MEETINGS?  I mean, come ON!  We’ve got to realize that we DO have the inner power to overcome our addictions, and all it takes is a few ingredients:  Willingness, Acceptance and Self-Awareness (knowing what I am thinking and feeling every moment, yet not buying into my thoughts, or acting out in my emotions).  Sprinkle on the continuous attitude of “learning-to-LOVE-life-because-it’s-flippin’-WONDERFUL,” and you’ve just created a successful concoction of ULTIMATE RECOVERY.

I recall going to a meeting with my grandfather, who was only there to support me, a few years ago (prior to treatment).  I stayed a few minutes afterward to talk to a woman who offered her sponsorship.  When I got back into the truck with my grandpa, I mentioned that the woman had twenty-eight year’s sober.  My grandfather’s eyes bugged out of his head, “AND SHE’S STILL GOING TO MEETINGS!?”  His comment floored me.  I couldn’t stop laughing during the ride home.  Back then, I thought that he was clueless about recovery, and that I knew a great deal more than him.  It’s funny… he always told me I make things too difficult for myself, and his answer to getting sober was simple.  “Stop drinking.”  What a concept!  Abstinence is the only cure for addiction.  Once you learn to accept your inability to drink or use drugs, you’ll need to recondition the way you think about life… THIS is where your journey begins.  How you think, directly influences your course of action, so it’s imperative to become the watcher of your mind, and to take control of your thoughts and behaviors. 

I am not an expert, but I am one of those alcoholic/drug addicts who attempted to get sober by going to meetings for several years to no avail.  It’s the same exact thing as going to church to find God.  God is not confined in a room built by the hands of man… Your sobriety doesn’t exist inside the institution of AA or NA.  It’s within YOU.  You have everything you need to become and to remain sober.  Know this, and own it.  And for goddsake, figure out what you are passionate about, and go hang out with people who are doing the same thing.  Surround yourself in an uplifting environment instead of places that remind you of the awful past.  Get moving forward in your recovery.  Life is a wonderful playground, filled with laughter and unlimited opportunity, when you aren’t stuffed inside a room getting high, or reminding yourself what it was like.

Please, comments are incredibly welcome… 

Who the Hell am I When I’m Not Drinking, and How Will I Feel at Parties?

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The initial ambivalence about becoming sober brings up many insecurities.  Many of us use drinking as a social lubricant.  Even “Normies” use alcohol as a stimulant in social situations.  It’s not uncommon to feel as though you are losing an identity when you become sober, because essentially, you are. 

The first year I went to social events as a sober person, I discovered myself much more subdued than my usual attention seeking persona.  What I did not do in these situations, was judge myself for this.  More than anything, I observed myself like I would normally observe other people, except it was less obvious and more internal.  What emotional responses am I having?  What insecurities are arising?  Who am I feeling like I should impress at this party?  Am I comfortable right now?  These are the questions I asked myself, and I continue to do this.  It’s a practice of self-awareness that keeps me present.  If I merely observe my inner dialog, rather than react to it, I discover myself entirely in my body.  I am able to be thoughtful in my interactions with other people, and I’m much more natural as a human being.  The alcoholic is insecure as a human being, which is why becoming sober feels a lot like being the only one naked at a party.  It can certainly feel this way, but don’t buy into it.  You are much more acceptable being yourself, than you are when you are drunk.  People knew you were drunk, they just didn’t say anything to you.  If they did, then you were most likely hammered, and embarrassing yourself.

The thing should understand, is that everyone else at a party is thinking mostly about themselves.  Their focus is not on you.  It’s human nature to be self-absorbed.  The other thing I observe is that people don’t really drink as much as I believed they did.  Every party or social gathering I’ve been to thus far, has proven to be a very non-alcoholic event.  I’ve even met several people who don’t drink at all.  I believed other people drank as much as I did.  Well, I was wrong.  Most people drink very responsibly, and most people don’t really care if you aren’t drinking alcohol.  If they are bothered by it, then you are probably with the wrong people.  At parties now, I have just as much fun not drinking, as I did when I was drinking.  This is because it is exciting to me that I am finally comfortable in my own skin, without the assistance of a drug to help me feel like I am fitting in.  My experiences are much different now because they are organic.  My perception is clearer and I am much more available to enjoy each moment, as opposed to worrying if my glass is empty.

Lastly, if I am not feeling a party, I have the confidence and self-respect to leave.  In my recovery, I have learned to honor myself, so it doesn’t really matter to me who gets offended if I am taking care of my own needs at any given time.  As long as I am not being selfish and hurting someone, it is okay to take care of myself.  Integrity begins with respecting yourself, and honoring your lifestyle in recovery.

It’s okay to take moments away from the crowd if it becomes overwhelming.  It’s perfectly natural to feel awkward and nervous.  Allowing these feelings to be there with you, rather than running from them or avoiding them altogether, will allow them to breathe and dissipate.  Having a sober friend or loved one with you in these situations is extremely helpful as well.  Don’t judge yourself for your insecurities.  Have some compassion for yourself, and allow yourself to feel everything you are feeling, without trying to change it.  This is what it means to recover; acceptance of yourself under any given circumstance.

In time, you will discover a very alive and joyful person under all those insecurities.  Others will see it too, and they will accept you exactly as you are.

Is There Another Route to Recovery Besides AA?

Powerless

Even before I arrived to the conclusion that I was an alcoholic, the answer to my own recovery was waiting for me in the rooms of AA along with the suggestion to get there as quickly as possible.  Most of us resist these meetings because of preconceived notions that we will be joining some kind of cult.  Others of us find ourselves reluctant, because going to meetings means we are doomed to eternal sobriety, which sounds terrible.  I’ve been sober for a while now, through the help of a behavior modification program.  I tried AA prior to getting into treatment, and I got a sponsor and everything, but my inner addict was ruthless, and I found ways to circumvent the program which lead me to my own drunken demise. 

Treatment somehow worked for me, but not everyone can take this route.  It’s a time commitment and many of us do not have the luxury of time.  In treatment, the twelve steps are the crux of most programs, but what if some of us are tired of being overrun by “programs.”  It sounds like “programming” to me.  Isn’t there an easier way to become and remain sober?  Also, what is all this powerlessness stuff about?  I’m not willing to say I’m powerless over anything.  For me, my powerlessness is another word for “acceptance” that I am someone who cannot drink like a normal person.  It is also more about surrendering to my own self-will and tapping into something deeper within myself, rather than claiming that I must surrender the bottle.  Our self-will is a monster, and it needs to be put in check, but this is something that we have the power to overcome, because we are created intelligently.

According to a former AA member, there is a much easier and shorter way to recovery.  It’s really simple.  It’s… (get this)… complete abstinence.  The author and founder of this road to recovery is Jack Trimpey.  His book is titled, ‘Rational Recovery’ and it teaches the addict to recognize his addictive voice, which is always causing problems.  Jack Trimpey cuts to the chase in his new way of thinking about recovery, and does not believe that addiction is a disease.  Rational Recovery is simple, and has a very high abstinence rate.  People who can think for themselves, and want an alternative to a lifetime commitments of meetings and sponsors, should find out for themselves if Rational Recovery is right for them.

I’m still learning about Rational Recovery, but so far, it really makes a lot of sense to me.  I feel like I should have been given the opportunity to chose which route to recovery I wanted to take, but AA is so ingrained in our society, as the only way to true recovery.  I am all about taking responsibility for my life and for the future of my life.  I think Rational Recovery is a responsible answer to an irresponsible problem.

Check it out for yourself, and any feedback is greatly welcome and appreciated!