Thank you for visiting. During my recovery from addiction I have collected a wide range of spiritual materials, information and personal experience. Perhaps some of them will add to your recovery. Visit often, this is an active site and I regularly add new material.
This reminds me of a quote from Thomas Merton’s autobiography, the Seven Storey Mountain, “The more you try to avoid suffering, the more you suffer, because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you, in proportion to your fear of being hurt. The one who does most to avoid suffering is, in the end, the one who suffers most.”
Avoiding the uncomfortable is my natural response to difficult situations. I am learning that just because I feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean something is ‘wrong’. Every uncomfortable feeling I have doesn’t need to be ‘fixed’. Sometimes I just feel down or disappointed. I have found I need to sit in that space and embrace my emotions, the positive and the negative. They come and go. What am I to learn from the experience? That is how I reduce the suffering and how I become more ‘polished’.
For much of my life I have overachieved thinking that success in the material world would finally quiet that inner-voice telling me I’m a fraud and not good enough. During my recovery from alcoholism and addiction I have worked hard to remove the character defects that block me from my higher power. I have made great strides in accepting the consequences of my past destructive behaviors and using them as an asset to help others. I pay attention to myself. When these character defects again begin to affect my spiritual balance I have simple but effective spiritual tools from the program of Alcoholics Anonymous to help right the ship.
But ego and self-centeredness do not go quietly into the night. The same thoughts and doubts I had about myself are now emerging as thoughts and doubts about my recovery. I find intrusive thoughts about my self-worth and my value to others invading my day. These thoughts are a persistent announcement that I’m not working an honest program or I’m not thoroughly following the path described in the book Alcoholics Anonymous. A lost job or a failed relationship can be used as a bludgeon by my doubts to hammer home these faulty beliefs. My ego tries to portray these events as further proof that the doubts I’ve long held about myself and my recovery are true.
How do I protect myself from the poison I create in my mind? Straining desperately to achieve preconceived spiritual ideals will only lead to disappointment and falling short and more ammunition for my ego driven self. What I’ve discovered through the hard experience of previous battles is that acceptance is the answer. By accepting myself as I am I have a solid foundation from which to build protection against these destructive thoughts. The 7th Step prayer helps me stay centered with my higher power. Knowing I am accepted by God allows me to accept myself.
Like a peacock spreading its feathers to appear bigger and more powerful than it really is these ego generated thoughts only appear to be strong and convincing. However, they are only thoughts and I long ago learned not to believe everything I think. If I choose I can recognize them when they appear but allow them to pass by without attaching myself to them. They do not define who I am. I do not have to give them the power to drive my actions.
As much as I may care for others I also have to accept that they will not always feel the same. Rejection is difficult for everyone. I can’t allow disappointments in my relationships with others to be the fuel that fires destructive thoughts about my self-worth. The thoughts of others are no more powerful than my own thoughts. Acceptance by God, acceptance by myself and allowing thoughts to pass without assigning them more power than they deserve are the tools I use to weather the storms of everyday life.
- Brene Brown
I’ve learned powerful lessons from both my mistakes and successes. With God’s help and the guidance I’ve received from Alcoholics Anonymous and its members I am a different man today than I was when I began my recovery. Alcoholics Anonymous promises that “No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.” I have realized this promise. I have used my experience to help others. Yet there are parts of my story that can still cause me great shame. If I am to love fully, truly belong and experience the joy God intended for all of us I can’t allow my shame to block me from connecting with others. Brave action takes courage because there is the risk of failure. I must have the courage to face the possibility of failure and rejection. It is only with vulnerability that I connect deeply with others. I will not allow my shame to block me from love and belonging and joy. These are the ultimate promises of a spiritual life.
“Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.” (page 1)
I have found a Power in recovery that helps me grow towards being who I was intended to be. It is rarely an easy journey. There are constant challenges. The path is uncertain and I don’t always recognize its landmarks. It is easy to detour into a maze built of ego and self-will. Fortunately I do not walk alone. There are Angels on the path to guide me.
If I soften my heart the Angels guide me toward change. Anyone I encounter can be an Angel. Synchronicity seems to place them on my path when their lesson is needed the most. When the student is ready, the teacher arrives. It is up to me see them. I must be present and aware. I must be ready to learn. Willingness and open-mindedness are essential to allowing the Angels on the path to touch my life. It is through them that I realize my purpose and effect the changes in my life that keep me on the path of discovery and spiritual growth. It is through them that I realize the Power that connects us all.
- Brene Brown
I didn’t always like who I was or how I acted. I wanted to stop my drinking and drug use. It was not who I wanted to be but despite my best intentions I continued harming myself and those I loved. I tried to ignore the obsessive thoughts that drove my destructive behaviors but they were a persistent and overpowering siren song. I inevitably dashed myself on the rocks of another drunk. I justified my actions as being caused by circumstances. I made solemn oaths to change. I rationalized the harm I caused as doing the best I could in a difficult situation. I told myself that I had learned my lesson. With a firm resolve and an increased self knowledge from previous mistakes I was certain it wouldn’t happen again. It always did. Each failure to control my behaviors reinforced the core belief that I was somehow faulty, simply not as good as those around me. I ran from my story. I was a powerless and tragic character actor in my own story heading towards a predictable end everyone could see but myself.
For many the story ends there. For me, however, I was given a solution. It was a gift from a man who couldn’t keep it to himself for fear of losing it. He asked no more of me than to be honest, open minded and willing to help others as he had helped me. He showed me what he had done and how his life had changed. I made a decision. I wrote my story down and shared it with him and a Power much greater than both of us. I learned to trust in this Power and to ask for its help. I did my best to make right the harm I had done. Somewhere along this new path I opened the door of my shame and faced the darkness within. I owned my story and it lost its power. I have finally stopped running.
Don P. was member of Alcoholics Anonymous from Aurora, CO. He died on March 20, 2005 with over 37 years sobriety. You can listen to Don by going to the Speaker tab.
“This isn’t about me demonstrating for God what I can do;
its about God demonstrating through me what He can do.”
- Don P.
I was raised to believe that if I wanted something it was up to me alone to get it. Naturally, I accepted the credit for my accomplishments. All too often, however, when things went wrong I could always point somewhere else as the reason for my failure. This two-sided coin of credit and blame was an example of my self-centered pride; the arrogance of my ego. When I began my recovery I committed myself to learning how to live a spiritual life. I did a 4th & 5th Step to identify my character defects. I did Steps 6 & 7, asking God to remove the things that block from from His love. What I failed to see was that some of my character defects hid themselves in a cloak of spirituality. The arrogant pride of my ego followed me into recovery. My “spiritual pride” began to take credit for “earning” God’s grace. Look what I have done! When my self-centeredness showed itself and I returned to my old behaviors, it wasn’t me it was my “addict” as if someone else was responsible. It was the same two-sided coin of credit and blame. With the help of my friends in recovery and plenty of prayer I am learning to see these spiritual defects. I am finding that the acceptance of my imperfection isn’t a coin flip. Practicing honesty, humility and gratitude isn’t a gamble. It’s a sure thing.
- Marcel Proust
Everyday I see the same things and think the same thoughts. I’ve done it this way and thought that way for years. These thoughts and attitudes become the unassailable truths of my existence. When I seek growth I read book after book looking for the new idea that I’m missing only to reject it because it conflicts with what I think I already know. What if these unassailable truths I’ve developed over time are actually the distorted perceptions of life that block me from seeing something new; seeing life as it really is? I can’t allow the things I think I know to prevent me from learning the things I need to know. I can look at the world around me with new eyes. I can practice a Beginner’s Mind and set aside everything I think I know so that I can have a new experience with the truth. After all, some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.
Why do we fall sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up. – Alfred Pennyworth
It has taken me time to accept that life’s difficulties are not a form of punishment sent my way by a karmic God. If my spiritual health is waning life’s challenges can easily push me into self-pity, frustration and resentment. I have heard from several sources that we are obligated to continue experiencing these destructive feelings until we ‘learn to pick ourselves up’. The more times I face these emotional time-bombs and safely defuse them the more able I am to face them next time. Eventually, with willingness, honesty and open-mindedness, I learn that life isn’t against me and the karmic God is my own creation with no more power than I have. Life has knocked me down many times. With recovery, faith and a divine grace I am getting up and getting better.
a poem by Wendell Barry
The fear of not knowing what to do and the uncertainty of where I needed to go was paralyzing. What would happen if I made a mistake? What would ‘they’ think of me? My value as a husband, father, son and as a person, depended on the outcome of my decisions. The outcomes were uncertain. Therefore, my value as a human being was always in question. The constant pressure to manipulate life around me to meet my expectations prevented me from ever finding the solace I needed.
I have learned in recovery that I don’t control the outcomes of my actions. Rather, I do my best to ensure my actions are guided not by my self-centered ego but by the spiritual principles I’ve learned by working a spiritual program. My value as a person isn’t based on the events surrounding me but, instead, by the principles I use to guide my actions.