May 26, 2008

"THE DEGREE OF MY ANXIETY IS A MEASURE OF MY DISTANCE FROM GOD"

Before recovery, anxiety was the master of my life. Without a relationship with God, I faced life alone and was in constant fear of not getting my needs met or of losing something I had so desperately fought to get. The past was a constant source of regret and shame, and the future was filled with countless unknown dangers that would surely overwhelm me. All this made the present intolerable. 

When I entered recovery, I brought my constant obsession with the past and future into the rooms with me. My sponsor taught me about living one day at a time, and he showed me that was where I would find God - today, right here, right now. He told me that if I could get present and so be in the presence of God, my anxiety would go away.

 This was simple advice, but not so easy to do. The more I worked at practicing it, though, the more I found it to be true. Over the years I've found that the more I use the tools of the program - prayer and meditation, pausing and asking for God's guidance, and acknowledging in the moment that God is here - the more I find myself in the peace and serenity of God's
presence. 



Today I use the degree of my anxiety to measure my distance from God.

May 19, 2008

"RELAPSE BEGINS A LONG TIME BEFORE YOU PICK UP THAT FIRST DRINK OR DRUG."

I'm a three meeting minimum a week kind of guy. Anything below that and I begin feeling, well, kind of vulnerable. Oh, not that I'm going to pick up and use, but vulnerable to what my head tells me, and vulnerable to feeling more irritable, restless and discontented. I'm quicker to judge, and I begin storing resentments. 

After a few weeks of that, it begins to get harder to make even two meetings a week. Soon I'm not answering my phone very much and calling my sponsor doesn't even occur to me. Work pressures mount, and on the way home you're not driving fast enough, and the parking lot is full, and Blockbuster doesn't have the movie I want. Suddenly the world is out of whack, and the idea of a drink seems not only natural, but completely reasonable as well.

I can't tell you the number of times I've heard people who relapse tell a story similar to the one above. It always scares the heck out of me because there have been times when I've begun to go down that same path. Thank God for my commitments, a strong support group, regular meetings I look forward to, and sponsees who continue to call me. 


Today I have four meetings a week I go to - whether I need them or not - because I want to keep the distance between me a relapse as far apart as possible.

May 12, 2008

"THE PROGRAM DOES FOR US SLOWLY WHAT DRUGS AND ALCOHOL DID FOR US QUICKLY."

I can clearly remember what I felt like before recovery. I was anxious, on edge, so uncomfortable with my life that I wanted and needed to escape. I can also remember the immediate sense of ease and comfort that came from the first hit of my drugs or alcohol. Suddenly, everything was OK, and the future actually had some hope in it.

This was my solution for a long time, and when it stopped working, I was truly at a jumping off point. In the beginning of my recovery, meetings and fellowship offered me temporary relief from the near constant dread and anxiety I felt. The problem was how to get by in between meetings, and I'll tell you, it was rough going for quite a while.

And that's when I heard someone share that "we go to meetings for relief, but we work the steps for recovery." As I worked my program, I found this to be true. The relief and sense of ease and comfort I used to get through using now began to be part of my everyday experience. After a while, I actually had peace and serenity and most of the time felt comfortable in my own skin.

One day I realized that the program had done for me slowly what drugs and alcohol had done for me quickly.

May 5, 2008

"IT'S NOT OLD BEHAVIOR IF I'M STILL DOING IT."

It's easy to let go of things that are causing more pain than pleasure. Like when my drinking and using was killing me, I stopped, and even though it was hard at first, I found that being sober really was the easier, softer way. But I still had a lot of old ideas and behaviors that still worked sometimes, and letting these go was not so easy.

As I sat in meeting after meeting, I would hear that "the result was nil until we let go absolutely", and I never really got it. I mean, I was certainly getting results - I was clean and sober; I got my job back, and I began repairing broken relationships. But there were also times when I was intensely unhappy, irritable, and needed and wanted a drink. It took a long while for me to see that these feelings almost always followed old ways of thinking and behaving.

The longer I'm in recovery, the more I understand the value of steps six and seven. My old behaviors will continue just so long as I remain unwilling to give up the character defects that cause them. But when I do become willing, something wonderful happens - my Higher Power does for me what I can't do for myself - and that is relieve me of my old ways of thinking and acting.

Today I understand when they say, "It's not an old behavior if you're still doing it."