Chalk and Cheese

This is very relevant to my life at the moment so I thought I’d share my experience of Step 2 – “Came to believe in a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

“Came to believe…” This is exactly what happened to me. Through the humbling of Step 1 and reading the first few chapters of the Big Book, I came to believe. There was no existing belief beforehand, in fact, I almost resented the idea on the basis it was ridiculous, a sign of weakness and lack of self-will. It was comforting to know I didn’t need the belief before I embarked on the 12 Step Program.

“… in a power greater than ourselves…” The admission of my powerlessness over my illness and the the fact I had done an awful job at managing my life, gave me the necessary humility to accept and come to believe there are many things more powerful than I. For me it was that simple. The fact I am not the most powerful thing means there is an abundance of things that are. When I get on my knees and pray, this is what’s going through my mind. Simple humility.

“….could restore us to sanity.” Wait a minute! Not only do I have to believe in a power greater than myself, but I have to believe this power can influence me enough to restore sanity?? Despite my initial reservations, my experience has proved this can be quite simple. To start with, one of the main reasons I started this journey of recovery is because I wanted the apparent serenity I could see in others. If the programme, which includes a belief in a greater power, can work for them, why can’t it work for me too? Who am I to say it won’t? That was enough for me to get started. Since then, my belief has progressed and evolved into faith. How? Simply through experience. On a daily basis, when I feel connected to my greater power, I am a different person. I am calmer, I talk lower, I am at peace, I am a good listener, I appreciate the small things. When I am running on self will I am in a rush, I obsess over food, I am resentful, I am fearful, I am angry, I am selfish. Like chalk and cheese. Like black and white. It is as clear as night and day if I am running on self will or a greater power’s will. So, do I believe a power greater than myself can restore me to sanity? Most definitely.

Chalk and Cheese

This is very relevant to my life at the moment so I thought I’d share my experience of Step 2 – “Came to believe in a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

“Came to believe…” This is exactly what happened to me. Through the humbling of Step 1 and reading the first few chapters of the Big Book, I came to believe. There was no existing belief beforehand, in fact, I almost resented the idea on the basis it was ridiculous, a sign of weakness and lack of self-will. It was comforting to know I didn’t need the belief before I embarked on the 12 Step Program.

“… in a power greater than ourselves…” The admission of my powerlessness over my illness and the the fact I had done an awful job at managing my life, gave me the necessary humility to accept and come to believe there are many things more powerful than I. For me it was that simple. The fact I am not the most powerful thing means there is an abundance of things that are. When I get on my knees and pray, this is what’s going through my mind. Simple humility.

“….could restore us to sanity.” Wait a minute! Not only do I have to believe in a power greater than myself, but I have to believe this power can influence me enough to restore sanity?? Despite my initial reservations, my experience has proved this can be quite simple. To start with, one of the main reasons I started this journey of recovery is because I wanted the apparent serenity I could see in others. If the programme, which includes a belief in a greater power, can work for them, why can’t it work for me too? Who am I to say it won’t? That was enough for me to get started. Since then, my belief has progressed and evolved into faith. How? Simply through experience. On a daily basis, when I feel connected to my greater power, I am a different person. I am calmer, I talk lower, I am at peace, I am a good listener, I appreciate the small things. When I am running on self will I am in a rush, I obsess over food, I am resentful, I am fearful, I am angry, I am selfish. Like chalk and cheese. Like black and white. It is as clear as night and day if I am running on self will or a greater power’s will. So, do I believe a power greater than myself can restore me to sanity? Most definitely.

My Ego Vs My Spiritual Self: The Forty Two Year Wars

My Ego Vs My Spiritual Self: The Forty Two Year Wars

For decades my ego enjoyed landslide victories in this war. So cunning were it’s triumphs I didn’t even know it sat upon the throne in complete control. Like a ghost puppet it pulled my strings into the darkest of places and mis-shaped my life.

Three years ago, at Rock Bottom, my desperate spiritual self produced a challenge that hurt my ego. Until this day any attempt had been nonchalantly brushed off with ease. This small cut, produced not by force but by a leap of faith, was a glimmer of hope and changed history.

Since that fateful day my spiritual self has not rested. With daily diligent effort, it’s army led by gallant knights such as Sir Love and Sir Humility has continued to grow with new soldiers enrolling every day. Coinciding with this progress, my ego has deflated into a regressing gang of pirates succeeding only in little ambushes. Insidious jabs which remind my spiritual self not to get too comfortable.

Keep going….

Wow, I love this! Something I can really relate to. Whenever I cast my mind back to where I was spiritually, physically, emotionally, mentally and financially three years ago, I am shocked as to how far I have come. With such a dramatic turnaround it would be easy for me to rest on my laurels, enjoy the comfort zone and seize to take action. But something (mainly my sponsor) has kept me going, kept me working, kept me progressing and I will be eternally grateful.

I am not perfect and I never will be. This is not negative thinking, its quite the contrary. If perfection is unreachable then that means there is no ceiling to my recovery! I can keep progressing, I can keep going! Where I was three years ago is not where I am today and where I am today will not be where I’ll be in three years time.

I can also relate to this quote from a completely different perspective. There have been many moments where I have had to endure difficult times – some brief and some extended. Upon reflection I can say through experience that I kept going. I didn’t dwell and reside in that difficult moment, I took action sometimes quickly sometimes slowly, but in time things have always passed.

I’d like to hear how you relate to this quote? 🙂

Unity

Tradition 1 – Our common welfare should come first, personal recovery depends upon Unity.

Now read it again. And again.

Sounds like Unity is vital, but what does unity actually mean. Here are some quotes and definitions that have helped me understand the meaning of unity.

“The state of being united or joined as a whole.” – Oxford dictionary

“It’s the opposite of being divided.” – vocabulary.com

“We must hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” – Benjamin Franklin

“That no personal sacrifice is too great for preservation of the fellowship. He learns that the clamour of desires and ambitions within him must be silenced whenever these could damage the group. It becomes plain that the group must survive or the individual will not.” – Twelve and Twelve

Do I really want to stop?

Do I really want to stop?

When I first walked into the rooms I was met with just one requirement – a desire to refrain. Did I have that desire? Of course I did. I had the gift of desperation. My path of destruction had caused a huge amount of pain to both myself and others. Why wouldn’t I want to give up the cause of it? This was my conscious thinking at the time.

In hindsight I have come to realise that not only had I given up the negative side of my addiction, but the level of desperation meant I had also given up the ‘apparent’ positives. There were positives of course. I wouldn’t have done what I did had it not been for the dopamine hits I was getting in return. This realisation took my surrender to a new level. I clearly wanted to stop 100%.

Which brings me back, do I really want to stop? Do I really want to stop over-eating? Do I really want to stop being dishonest? Do I really want to stop being a people pleaser? Sure I want to stop feeling crap after binge eating on pastries, but do I want to stop the brief pleasures I get from eating that sugary pain-Au-chocolate? Sure I want to stop lying to the people I love the most, but do I want to stop taking what seems to be the easy way out? Sure I want to stop living in fear of letting someone down, but do I want to stop being everyone’s best friend?

To have a desire to refrain, to really want to stop, my recovery from my primary addiction has taught me that I need to surrender 100%, the bad… and the good.

People, places and things

The following is based on my experience….

A person very close to me has been showing symptoms of compulsive behaviour. Symptoms that are recognisable to an addict like myself. This compulsion has been progressing over the last couple of years and despite my good intentions the effect I have had over it is minimal at best. Over the last week I have spent a lot of time with this person and subsequently seen first hand how far his compulsion has developed.

For the first four days or so, I had decided (emphasis on the ‘I’) not to act and instead seek guidance from those with experience at the end of the week. As a result, I allowed his compulsive behaviour to continue on the basis that I had no idea how to deal with it so why bother trying. At the time I genuinely believed this to be the right course of action. And maybe it was, maybe I had to do something wrong (or paradoxically right) to learn from it and progress.

I continued to pray and meditate around this subject and by the fifth day, an answer began to dawn on me. I became aware that I had been feeling an almost constant resentment in the form of frustration and disappointment towards this person. I could also sense two others were holding similar resentments towards him and further resentments towards me for not doing anything about it. I then resented them for resenting me! Last but not least, the person himself could feel the negativity that surrounded him, so probably resented the three of us in return!!

So, in this particular situation (because every situation is different) by doing nothing, I had allowed the situation to fester. Four people were now suffering with resentment – a crippling defect of character. The four of us ended up, in a way, against each other. And why? Because I feared for this person’s welfare. I feared failure. I feared powerlessness. I feared making this person unhappy. I feared being disliked. I feared I would ruin the time we were spending together. I feared a negative effect on the impossible perfection.

This sudden, somewhat obvious, realisation slapped me round the face (not the first time recovery has provided this kind of wake up call). I realised that ‘I’ had made the decision to do nothing. This decision was born out of fear and not out of the powerlessness over people, places and things which is what I originally thought. And ever since I did, I had unintentionally made the whole experience about me. I hadn’t been thinking of this person – the one who is actually struggling, or anyone else involved at all. Just me and my fears.

Along with this realisation was a guidance towards action. I still need to explore the available help and support from someone with experience, but I also needed to act now – in the form of being honest with this person. Being truthful can sometimes be tough for the person on the receiving end, but some situations warrant hard truths. I needed to pray for my fears to be removed. I needed to pray for the courage to change the things I can – by being honest. I needed to pray for the acceptance that I might not be this person’s ‘favourite person’ for a while.

So, on that fifth day, the honesty card was played and I can confirm I wasn’t this person’s ‘favourite person’. But only for an hour or so.

This resulted in vast improvement. Firstly whilst being honest I felt (for the first time) that I was actually thinking of this person and the others involved too. Secondly, the person took the hard truths on board and showed a degree of willingness and desire to progress. Thirdly, everyone seemed happier.

I must add that this particular action is by no means set in black and white. It is of my opinion that each situation is wholly different no matter the similarities. Action or no action, acceptance or courage, form the greyest of grey areas. Especially when it comes to people, places and things. It is why I continuously pray for ‘the wisdom to know the difference’. That said, being honest is very rarely the wrong thing to do. One exception I can think of is being honest to save my own skin.