No Longer a Dry Drunk

Our liquor was but a symptom. So we had to get down to causes and conditions.” —Alcoholics Anonymous p.64

A symptom, as described by Miriam Webster, is “subjective evidence of disease or physical disturbance.” Therefore, our drinking and using was evidence of an underlying dis-ease. Without getting to the root of that illness, and treating it, we never really heal.

In AA we call this a dry drunk. I know all about it—I was one for many years. Some people believe that eliminating alcohol and drugs is enough. I personally don’t think it’s possible to really love our lives, or play well with others, unless we dig deeper.

Over the last three decades, I’ve begun to discover the source of my personal dis-ease—the one I used alcohol and drugs to treat. But to do so has taken hundred of hours in self-examination, reading and writing in recovery books, and working one-on-one with my sponsor. Slowly I began to see why I struggled in life, particularly in relation to others, and how my reactions to them frequently made my problems worse.

Through the program I’ve discovered how to completely reverse both my dis-ease and the effect it had on me and those around me. And making amends is at the very top of my list of solutions. By taking responsibility for my actions, and sincerely attempting to stop engaging in behaviors that hurt myself and others, I’ve learned how to become a better man. I’ve gained some self-respect, and being proud (instead of ashamed) of my behavior, definitely makes me happy.

The other tools of the program, namely prayer, meditation, affirmations, service work, meetings, fellowship, sponsorship, journaling, gratitude lists, self supporting behaviors, hobbies, and self-care all contribute to a building and maintaining a strong immunity against my dis-ease. Through self-discipline and consistency in these daily actions, I get to stay in the middle of the lifeboat, where I’m safe, protected and… ILML!

—JamieQ

Awaken with Abundance

Awaken with Abundance

“There are some who live day to day concerned about not having enough for happiness and security. This causes anxiety, worry and stress. But this doesn’t have to be. Instead, if we trust the intelligence of the universe, and practice living carefree, we can live fearlessly, without worry or focusing on lack.” — Living Carefree, A Meditation with Deepak Chopra

Wow. Can you imagine never having to fear lacking anything? I felt like that way as a child, but since having my own children, the overwhelming sense of responsibility has put (and kept) me in financial fear.

The voices of fear and faith can have an overwhelming effect in my life. Faith says “Everything’s going to be great!” When I believe this, I feel so good. But Fear says “This is going to be terrible. Your in big trouble.” And when I’m listening and believing it, I feel scared, exhausted and upset.

Deepak’s meditation suggests that we encourage the kinder, more loving message to dominate our thoughts by repeating this: “I move through my day lighthearted and carefree, knowing all is well.”

I’ve been listening to this meditation on YouTube everyday lately, along with his meditations on Overcoming Obstacles and Gratitude, and I must tell you that its awesome! I’ve been more optimistic, efficient and have had more energy since I began doing this. I start off listening in bed, and eventually take it into the bathroom while getting ready for my day. I awaken and fill my mind up with good thoughts, before the bad ones can even start up.

When take the time, first thing in the morning, to intentionally focus on positive messages that reaffirm the boundless abundance and love in, and all around me, I awaken with the belief that it’s going to be a great day, and ILML!

— JamieQ

Loving Life when I’m not Loving What’s Happening

Loving Life when I’m not Loving What’s Happening

If you’ve read any of my other blogs or information on this site, you know I’m a life lover. But did you know I get a bunch of slack for it? Did you know some people roll their eyes when I say I love my life? Others say they’re not as interested in loving life as they are in just having peace of mind.

And that’s the beauty of the program. We take what we like, and leave the rest. Just because I enjoy loving life and I’m all about it, doesn’t mean that others have to agree with me. But I should explain that loving life doesn’t mean I love everything that happens in my life.

I think each of us can make a pretty long list of shitty things that have happened to us. Situations that didn’t turn out as we had hoped, people that didn’t live up to our expectations, pain we’ve experienced. Trust me when I say that my list is long.

But somehow I’ve figured out how to separate life loving from having everything go my way. First, I’ve accepted, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that life will NOT always go the way I think it should. Nor will people ALWAYS behave the way I would like them to. Recognizing I’m powerless over that (step one), and it’s crazy to think that I can change an outcome that’s beyond my control (step two), I just surrender that expectation as soon as I’m aware that I’m having one (step three), and replace it with the knowledge that my will (what I want to have happen) may, quite likely, not occur.

How do I know I’m having an expectation? When I feel excited about something, a sense of happy anticipation, getting ready for a good thing to happen, I’m in expectation. It’s at that point that I remember I’m living in the future, and possibly setting myself up to feel hurt, which is a feeling I definitely don’t enjoy.

So what do I do? I immediately recalibrate my expectations. I think to myself “Hey James, remember that this shit may go sideways, and if it does, you’ll be just fine.” I remind myself that, no matter how this turns out, there’s always a plan B, C and D.

When I practice this exercise, I instantly feel anxiety, anticipation, and excitement lose their grip on my mind. And as they do, any potential future resentment begins to melt away.

But doesn’t it suck to live like this? Never being excited? Never being stoked about something great that’s about to happen? No. It’s quite the opposite. I’m stoked knowing I’m going to feel good no matter what happens. My happiness is no longer dependent upon the outcome of a situation or the way someone treats me. I’m at peace and comfortable regardless. I can feel good if it happens or not. Because I’ve told myself, “Don’t get excited James, you know this might turn out exactly the opposite of how you hope it will.”

By applying this attitude in all my affairs, I give myself a much better chance of feeling good no matter how life turns out. Which means that, even when things don’t go my way, and I don’t particularly love the outcome… ILML!

— JamieQ

Getting in the GZ

“God, please help me to want what you want.” – Hope for Today

This reading talks about perceiving the idea of turning our will and life over to God, as our 3rd step suggests, in a way that doesn’t mean giving up our will. Instead, it says that “Developing a healthy relationship with my Higher Power is about teamwork,” and also encourages us to align our will with God’s.

That’s why the prayer above is such a great one for me. You see, I honestly believe that God’s will for me is to be happy, joyous and free. I think my HP wants me to experience unlimited abundance and love, and then share it with everyone I can. If that’s the case, of course I want exactly what God wants for me. Wouldn’t you?

When I’m in the God Zone (something Chris, one of my sponsees, put on his gratitude list today, I’m really wanting exactly what God wants for me, and… ILML!

— JamieQ

Amends puts out the Flames of my Resentments

Amends puts out the Flames of my Resentments

“I don’t regret the past, because I am turning my painful history into today’s blessings and strengths.” — From Survival to Recovery

I love the title of this book. It reminds me that I decide whether I want to live in survival, or recovery, mode. Recovery mode, to me, means that I am actively seeking to recover the fascination, joy and appreciation of life that I had when I was six months old. At that time, I didn’t experience self-pity, and I didn’t experience resentment, because I lived in the moment.

Because of the program, the trials and tribulations which I experienced growing up can now be put to great use. By practicing the steps, and with the guidance of my sponsor, I have learned to transform my hardships into stepping stones that others use to find their way out of the darkness. Imagine that?

But the gifts from my past don’t just benefit others. By examining the mistakes I’ve made, I’ve discovered that the sooner I find and take responsibility for my part, the sooner I get to stop feeling upset, because both self-pity and resentment disappear.

Wait! Did I just say that my resentments disappear when I make amends? Yes I did. How is that possible? By recognizing that I’m fallible, and admitting it, the door of forgiveness opens, allowing me to surrender my resentment of others for the mistake I perceive they have made (whether they can admit it or not). And it’s this forgiveness, that puts out the flames of my resentment.

So I make peace with my past, thanking it for the abundance of lessons I have learned, particularly from the mistakes I have made it. Because let’s face it, without my past, I wouldn’t be here today. And it’s exactly in this place, and in this moment, that… ILML!

— JamieQ

Accepted, Surrendered & Grateful

Accepted, Surrendered & Grateful

“Thank you, Higher Power, for this beautiful day… Place in my path some way to serve others… May I feel your presence today…” – 12 Step Prayer Book

Lately, I’ve been in the groove. The spiritual, recovery, life loving groove, that is. And it’s odd because my General Manager quit on Tuesday, March 27th, and we are on deadline at work – usually a time when we are severely overworked and need everyone’s help. In this situation it would be completely understandable to be panicked or upset. Interested enough, I’ve being feeling happy, excited and optimistic. So what’s up?

Here’s what I think it is. On March 19th, just 8 days before she quit, one of my sponsees (Chris H) let me know he was starting the 21 Day Oprah Deepak Meditation Challenge, and I decided to join him. Prior to doing the daily morning meditation, both Oprah and Deepak talk about how to change our attitudes in order to perceive both life and ourselves in a very positive, uplifting way. Inspirational and optimistic, each morning these meditations have the affect of opening me up for abundance.

While those who love me are calling to express their deep concern about losing my manager while on deadline, I repeatedly tell them that I’m feeling better than ever about work and being able to handle it all easily myself, without any help at all. Of course, if the opportunity to find someone who’s a good fit comes along, great. If not, that’s great too. I’ve fully accepted, surrendered and am grateful for all of it.

This attitude that everything is perfectly fine and under control is not an illusion. The company really is doing great and I’m accomplishing twice as much with half the effort (I even snuck out to see the new Spielberg move).

Is it all because if the meditation? Who knows. But I’ll tell you one thing, since starting it I’m more connected to my higher power than my lower power, and when I’m in that place… ILML!

— JamieQ

The Best Words To Use

If I repeatedly make similar suggestions… I am probably trying to control… Trying to control other people only gets me in trouble.”

— Courage to Change

The problem for me is that I really would like them to change their behavior because, at least in my opinion, it’s unacceptable. But I’ve found the word “unacceptable” is, well, unacceptable, since I believe that acceptance is the first part of the answer to all my problems. The second part is either to take reasonable action or let it go.

A better solution for me is as follows: First I identify what behaviors from others make me uncomfortable. (Hint: writing these down helps.) Next I let others know—in a kind way—when it occurs (they don’t have ESP), and how I will handle it. Finally, I practice consistency in identifying the uncomfortable behavior and detaching, allowing others to learn what is, and is not, ok with me (in other words, they usually get tired of me detaching and stop behaving in ways that make me uncomfortable and cause me to detach).

In detaching I’ve found the best words to use with others are something like:

I’m uncomfortable and need a little space to work my Program. We can talk later.

Then I must quickly separate myself physically from that person before I react. In this way I take myself out of the problem and into the solution. I let the other person clearly know that I’m uncomfortable without blaming, and simultaneously keep my side of the street clean (no amends required).

Each time I do this, I celebrate a little victory, because whenever I apply the principles of the program… ILML!

— JamieQ