The Elixir of Recovery

The Elixir of Recovery

“We knew how to love in crisis, in a state of constant mental chatter, grabbing onto old fears to stay mentally busy, which somehow made us feel safe. Weirdly, when we were worried, we felt in control.” – Adapted from Courage to Change

My DisEase is cunning, baffling and powerful. It loves to be in control. The idea of letting go and letting God, surrendering, and admitting I’m powerless over anything, (including others and my relationships with them) is something my DisEase absolutely abhors. Why? Because doing so literally KILLS my dis-ease.

Instead, it wants it’s daily dose of fertilizer. The ingredients of my DisEase’s Miracle Grow are neediness, control, fear, resentment, it’s-not-fairism, self-righteousness, lying, manipulation, condescension, justification, blame, arguing, defensiveness, fighting, self-pity, loneliness, isolation, laziness, procrastination, focusing on the problem, frustration, unsolicited advice giving, hopelessness, purposelessness, exhaustion, eating poorly, going outside my hula hoop, closed-mindedness, body shaming myself, not making recovery my priority, and giving with secret expectation for a return.

That’s a long list right? The truth is that I could probably add 100 more ingredients to that concoction. But here’s the good news: For every ingredient in my DisEase’s Miracle Grow, there an antidote.

So here’s my challenge to you today. Take a moment to write, or type, out a list of the exact opposite of each of the ingredients on the list above. Now print it out and tape it onto your fridge.

This is the secret to happiness. The more often that I practice working with the ingredients necessary to create the elixir of recovery, the more ILML!

— JamieQ

PS if you’re so inclined, share your list with me!

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That means that everything we want out of the relationship we get, simply by loving them madly.

Pretty cool concept. Not easy, but very cool.

A Small Price to Pay

A Small Price to Pay

By working this step, we keep the cobwebs out of (our life).” – Reaching for Personal Freedom

This morning, working on the 10th step in my work book, I came across that sentence. Cobwebs are fine when they’re catching pleasant memories. But when they catch ahold of fears, problems, self-pity, anger, frustration and hopelessness, those cobwebs have to be swept away or they will destroy me.

The only way I’ve discovered how to eliminate such cobwebs from my life is to approach them like a final exam in college that I really need to get an A in.

Having had a difficult time keeping my attention focused throughout my life, I had to work super hard in college to get good grades. While others, like my younger brother, could get A’s by just glancing at text books and attended some classes, I had to approach college differently.

I would read the text book. Then read it a second time with a highlighter in my hand, highlighting what I thought might be on a test. Then I’d write out, in a notebook, everything that I highlighted. Then I’d read it into a tape recorder. Then I’d listen to what I read over and over. Plus, I made sure to attended every class and took copious notes. I even sold my notes to others, they were so good. Ever the entrepreneur. I ended up scoring very high in college, but it was really, really hard work and very, very long hours.

I approach my program the same way. The prize isn’t A’s —it’s something even better: when I make working my program, growing spiritually, and carrying the message to others the priority in my life, and I commit at least a couple hours each day doing it, I get to be rocketed into the forth dimension and have a life beyond my wildest dreams. I also get to have great relationships with others and love the man I’m becoming. It’s so cool.

So each day, when I awaken, I resolve for that day to allocate the first couple of hours to working my program, which I call the Daily Deal. I think it’s a small price to pay in order to get an attitude of gratitude and be happy, joyous and free.

Because… I’ve learned that when I make recovery my priority… ILML!

— Jamie Q

The 5-10-11-12 Club

The 5-10-11-12 Club

“… become, one day at a time, the people we want to be.” — Hope for Today

I often talk about how I am striving each day to become the very best version of me.

The way in which I attain this goal, to grow and evolve into the most wonderful man I can be, is to embrace the courage to recognize and acknowledge the things that are holding me back from that desire.

Here’s how I take the action.

I write out a daily inventory, recapping the last 24 hours, identifying both my successes and those thoughts and behaviors that I engaged in which could be improved upon. Doing this provides me with the insight necessary to effectuate positive change in my life.

Both my ability to face my shortcomings, along with a resolve to do better, little by little, day by day, helps to transform me into a slightly better version of me. I also identify in my writing if I’ve hurt someone, and provided I’m spiritually fit enough, I make immediate amends by picking up the phone.

As an added benefit, if I’m practicing prayer and meditation and sponsoring others or sharing at meetings, when asked what what step I’m working on, I can always honestly say, “I’m in the 5, 10, 11 & 12 Club.”

Here’s why:

5: We’re admitting our shortcomings.

10: We’re taking our inventory and making amends.

11: We’re making time for prayer and meditation.

12: We’re carrying the message.

I’ve done lots of wonderful things in my life. I’ve also done plenty of shitty things. These days I want only to plant seeds of love, and avoid planting seeds of destruction. I can do this more often than not by diligently working a spiritual program of action. And as a byproduct… ILML!

Healthier Relationships

Healthier Relationships

“Each of us has a right to voice our opinions and ideas reasonably, without criticism or ridicule.” – Reaching for Personal Freedom

Sounds simple enough, right? But how well does it work when others want to express their ideas about me and my behavior? When they’re not particularly happy with me?

I recently did something without running it by someone close to me and they felt hurt. Whether I should have run it by them or not isn’t the point. Inadvertently, as a result of my behavior, regardless of whether I think I hurt them, they felt hurt. That’s the point. And our program teaches us what to do when we hurt others. We work step 9.

But the real growth comes from living amends. Learning what to do the next time. Or, perhaps more importantly, how to put myself in the best position possible to take the right action the next time.

In this situation I’d been traveling and not making my program, my daily deal, and my meetings, my number one priority. On top of that, I hadn’t been sleeping enough, and was really out of my element. Even my connection with my higher power wasn’t where it usually is. This will always put me in a very vulnerable state, usually resulting in me reacting from a place of fear rather than responding from a place of love.

So what happened when I was confronted? You can probably guess.

I became defensive, justifying my behavior, unable to respond to their their feelings I proceeded to attack them, listing off several of their shortcomings in an attempt to shift responsibility and ended the conversation with some random threat to our relationship. And you know what I told myself the whole time? I was doing this in the name of setting healthy boundaries, standing up for myself and letting them know I’m not to be judged, blamed, controlled or called out. Pretty healthy response right? I think not.

Now let’s consider how how I’d handle the situation if I were spiritually centered. This is what I aspire towards, and how I would reasonably respond to a situation like this if my own house is in order.

Coming out of faith (rather than fear), connected to my highest power, I would be able to respectfully listen to their concerns, without reacting in defensiveness, criticism, or judgement.

Next, when they were done speaking and asked me why I did what I did, I’d simply answer them as follows:

“Thanks for sharing your feelings with me. I need some time to think about it and reflect upon what you’ve said. I plan to do some writing and reason it out with my sponsor. Let’s chat tomorrow about this. Again, I appreciate you bringing it to my attention.”

This is called gracing the space, giving me some time to consider their feelings, so I can find my part and evolve into an even better version of myself.

How I respond or react is entirely dependent upon how spiritually connected I am at that moment. When I consistently and diligently put my program first, stay in the center of the lifeboat, write and send out my gratitude list, dance, sing, play guitar, smile, laugh, play, work, sleep, clean house, carry the message, meet my responsibilities, plug into my higher power, and get to my meetings, my relationships stay healthy, I respect both the person I’m becoming and the one I’m relating to and… ILML!

Life Gets Lifey

Life Gets Lifey

Lack of power, that was our dilemma.” AA, pg. 45

I’m part of a group of individuals that sends out gratitude lists back-and-forth, between each other, on almost a daily basis. This morning I received a gratitude list from someone who works a rigorous 12 step spiritual program of action. In it, she said, “I don’t try and control things as much as I used to.”

It made me think that, although the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous were correct in the fact that lack of power was our dilemma, particularly with regard to alcohol, I’ve found that in long-term recovery, it’s lack of control that seems to be at the root of many of my troubles.

Whether I’m willing to admit it or not, I tend to want people to do the things that I want them to do, act the way that I want them to act, and speak to me the way I would like to be spoken to.

I also tend to want situations to go the way that I want them to go, how I think they should happen, Because I believe that would be the best outcome not only for me, but for everyone else to.

And I’m very clear as to what I would like to happen with regard to the health of my body. I’d like to always be strong, healthy, slim and attractive.

Well, at 57 years old I’ve finally begun to realize that life doesn’t always turn out exactly the way I’d like it to go. As I often say, without my ability to manage, direct and control everything, life tends to get lifey.

More often than not, people have an inclination to do what they would like to do, rather than what I would like them to do.

Things that I’ve planned often turn out differently than I hoped.

And my body, well, it has this weird way of getting older and, well, heavier. LOL. I also noticed that the older I get, the more I experience strange aches and pains, some of which have actually required medical intervention.

So you see, my ability to control people, places and things is really just an illusion of control. As they say in ALAnon, I’m really only in charge of what’s happening inside my hula hoop. And even then, at least when it comes to my human body, I’m really not in complete control of that either.

What I have learned to control is the amount of energy I put into becoming the best version of me I can possibly become. That includes doing things that positively feed my mind l, body and spirit. In these situations, the only one I’m battling for control with, is my DisEase. He would certainly prefer that I spend zero time taking care of myself spiritually, emotionally and physically because the more pain I am in, the more likely I will hurt others and hurt myself.

So again, just for today, like most of the days over the last 17 years of my life, I’ll make my recovery a priority. Because when I put first things first… ILML!

How to Overcome Problems

How to Overcome Problems

We all need to share some of our problems from time to time. However, I soon realized that dwelling on them week after week, with no movement towards recovery, was not helping me.” — Hope for Today

Reading this inspired me to write about my experience, both in dealing with recurring problems, and helping out others in dealing with them.

Below I’ve listed a few examples of the most common ones I’ve come across. When reading them, ask yourself if you’ve ever had any of these problems, or heard others complain about them.

GREEN (finances)

‘I’m not making enough money. I’m worried that I can’t keep this up financially. What if the next deal doesn’t happen. I’m homeless, with no place to sleep. I’ve no money even for food. No matter how much I make, I can’t get ahead. I got screwed on a deal. My client/boss isn’t paying me. I want more. I bought things I can’t afford. I’m losing my home because I can’t pay my mortgage. The medical bills are killing me. The creditors keep calling. I lied/was unethical/cheated to get ahead financially and now I’m in real trouble. The industry I’m in is on the decline. I’ve maxed out my credit cards. My credit score is terrible. I lost $100 from my pocket. My phone was cutoff because I’m broke. I now have to live in my car. My phone broke (again). My car got repossessed/towed. My wife makes more money than me. Everyone else seems to be making more money than me. My brother/sister/mom/dad/friend won’t loan my any money. I didn’t get the raise I was supposed to get. I didn’t get the promotion. I can’t afford an engagement ring. I can’t afford a wedding. Others at work are terrible people and affecting my financial situation. I got demoted. My work hours were cut back. Paying for rehab for my kid is bankrupting me. I was laid off. I was fired. I had to quit because I hated my boss. I declared bankruptcy. My lifestyle cost is more than I can afford. I’m scared I’ll lose everything.’ And the list goes on…

PINK (relationships)

‘I’m really unhappy in my relationship. She’s leaving me for someone else. She’s acting aloof. She never initiates sex. She cheated on me. She rejects me when I make sexual advances. She spends all of our money. She doesn’t love me the way I want her to. We don’t have sex often enough. She won’t get a job. She’s not raising/disciplining/taking care of the kids the way I want her to. She’s not keeping the house clean. She doesn’t like my friends/family. She drinks alcohol. She doesn’t let me surf. She smokes pot. She’s bipolar. She’s using sleeping pills. She’s rude to me in front of others. She tries to control me. She dresses slutty. She dresses too conservatively. Her breath is bad. Her friends suck. She doesn’t do anything to make our relationship better. She smokes cigarettes. She’s getting out of shape. She watches reality TV. She embarrasses me. She has differing political views. She’s religious. She’s not religious. She may not be right for me. I’m unhappy with her. And the list goes on…

Health (red)

I feel really sick. I have trouble sleeping. I’m depressed. I have anxiety. I’ve been ill so much this year. I’m exhausted. I have no energy. I can’t wake up in the morning. I have high blood pressure. I have high cholesterol. I’m anemic. I think I have heavy metal poisoning. Maybe there’s mold in my house. My allergies are terrible. I have hemorrhoids. I have canker sores. My knees/shoulders/arm/head/legs/stomach hurts. I’m breaking out. I’m losing my hair. I’m overweight. I can’t exercise because it hurts. My neck is killing me. I hear ringing in my ears. I have vertigo. I was diagnosed with a horrible chronic illness. I have an inoperable tumor. I was told to get my affairs in order. My mom/dad/sibling/aunt/grandparent/child/friend died. I’m devastated. I’m mentally suffering. I can’t breath. I have to go on oxygen. I’ve been prescribed heavy pain meds and have to take them. I’m heading to the hospital. I need to smoke pot to relax. And the list goes on…

By no means is this list of problems comprehensive or complete. But it should give you a pretty good idea of how much blaming we do, as humans. In fact, I would go so far as to say that these types of problems, thought about and spoken out loud, definitely contribute to the problems themselves. They may even help to manifest a problem, where one never really existed, except in our mind.

On the other hand, many times these problems are facts, grounded in concrete proof of their existence. Someone truly may be sick and diagnosed with an illness. There may in fact be infidelity in a relationship. We may have actually lost a job, and our ability to support ourselves may be in jeopardy. So what are we supposed to do in these situations?

In my life, whether fact or fantasy, how I approach the situation doesn’t change. The way I see it is as follows:

Negative thought will create or exacerbate my problem; positive thought will help resolve or eliminate my problem.

Now, finding a way to be positive in the face of adversity is never easy. Whether it’s the death of a loved one, our health, a relationship issue or our finances. Each of these things has the power to take us down.

I’ve personally been, and overcome, many challenging problems. The death of several very close loved ones, a terminal brain tumor, infidelity and the destruction of a marriage, to name just a few. And my ability to stay positive in the face of these events was always directly proportional to the amount of time I spent engaged rituals which improved my state of mind and helped me both love and appreciate my life. The key here is that I was doing these things on a regular basis PRIOR to the occupancies of the problem.

By consistently engaging in behaviors which keeps me in the attitude of gratitude, I’m better prepared to more graciously handle (and overcome) the problems that used to besiege me. In other words, equanimity will be available to me when I most need it.

Today I do the daily deal almost every day of my life, and, as a direct result of investing that time, I get to be happy, joyous, free, and… ILML!

— JamieQ

Making the Time

Making the Time

Peace of mind is the opposite of anxiety.” — Dictionary.com

I was writing in my ALAnon workbook “Reaching for Personal Freedom” this morning and wrote down,

Doing Step 8 and working with a sponsor to identify who we should make amends to, and then going out and making those amends as expeditiously as possible, is vital to the recovery of our peace of mind.

For me, the word recovery has always had a slight stigma to it. In my mind it’s typically associated with recovering from the effects of drugs, alcohol or other addictions.

Although I’ve been sober and quit taking drugs and alcohol long ago, the type of recovery I’ve always been seeking is exactly what I wrote down: peace of mind. In fact, that’s the reason I gave up drugs and alcohol in the first place.

What’s important about this little epiphany is that it may never have come to me had I not been doing the daily deal. I’m so grateful that I step up for myself each and everyday, because when I MAKE the time to do my recovery rituals, not only do I discover new and wonderful things, but… ILML!

— JamieQ