Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Prayer of Saint Francis

"O Lord, make me an instrument of Thy Peace!Where there is hatred, let me sow love;Where there is injury, pardon;Where there is discord, harmony;Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light, and Where there is sorrow, joy. Oh Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; for it is in giving that we receive; It is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life."

Old Timer's Prayer

Lord, keep me from the habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion.
Release me from the craving to straighten out everybody's affairs.
Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details - give me wings to get to the point.
I ask for the grace to listen to the tales of others pains.
Help me to endure them in patience.
But seal my lips on my own aches and pains - they are increasing and my love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by.
Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally it is possible that I may be mistaken.
Keep me reasonably sweet.
I do not want to be a saint - some of them are so hard to live with - but a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil.
Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places and talents in unexpected people.
And give me, O Lord, the grace to tell them so.
Make me thoughtful, but not moody; helpful, but not bossy.
With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all - but Thou knowest, Lord, that I want a few friends in the end.

The Story Of Two Wolves

The following old parable illustrates the importance of staying in the "solution" rather than focusing to strongly on the problem.

An older Cherokee man is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he says to the boy. "It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.

One is evil. He is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, selfishness, arrogance, self pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.

The other is good. He is love, joy, peace, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.

This same fight is going on inside you and inside every other person." The grandson thinks about it for a minute and then asks his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee replies, "The one you feed."

Thursday, April 12, 2007

article location

If anyone is interested - the article about humour and alcoholics is called:

"Theory of mind, humour processing and executive functioning in alcoholism."

A short summary of the research is given at the above link.

Other information if you're interested in finding the entire report yourself:

Published in the following journal

Volume 102 Issue 2 Page 232 - February 2007
J. Uekermann, S. Channon, K. Winkel, P. Schlebusch, I. Daum (2007) Theory of mind, humour processing and executive functioning in alcoholism Addiction 102 (2), 232–240. doi:10.1111/j.1360-0443.2006.01656.x

Of Tantamount Importance Pt 3 - Conclusion

Alright, so the dreaded (and dumb, in my opinion) joke is past.


Back to the study:

The German study conducted to determine differences in how recovering addicts/alcoholics differ from 'healthy' people regarding 'HUMOUR' - basically tells us that

Recovering addicts often have trouble with processing 'humourous' material!

(Sometimes) Addicts Can't Take A Joke.
(Sometimes) Addicts Don't 'Get' Jokes.
(Sometimes) Addicts don't find things 'funny' that other people do.

The areas tested in the research all involve skills that people use to interpret and understand jokes. Aside from 'mood,' all of the other areas imply that:

An addict's intellectual ability, skewed from abusing substances, is less intellectually tuned to figuring out 'joke material, and...

An addict's memory, skewed from abusing substances, is less capable of drawing on 'previous' information learned - that might assist the addict to 'get the joke'

An addict's psychomotor skills, in question - damaged from substance abuse, are less capable of assisting an addict in the realization of 'punch lines.' You may not think that this 'more physical' area tested wouldn't have anything to do with 'brain-work' but IT DOES because...Psychomotor skills include - INPUT FROM THE EYES, so that external data can be entered to become part of 'brainwork' and the thinking process! An addict's poor 'mentalizing' ability hinders the process of interpreting jokes!

In short - recovering addicts have quite a few damaged areas (even if known only to be scant measures of mental impairment) that fog their ability to see humour as healthier people see humour!

Now that this is known, it's not the end of the world! I thought it was, at first, but after some 'problem-solving,' I realized that if recovering addicts - as well as 'healthy' individuals just keep this information in mind, the addict can learn to think differently by NOT RELYING on only deficient parts of their make-up while healthier people can, if they're aware that the joke they are telling is being processed by a recovering alcoholic, GIVE THE ADDICT MORE TIME for sorting the joke out........and more importantly - BE CALM if the addict is unable to see the humour right away.

Maybe addicts will have to resolve to allow other people to find certain jokes FUNNY even if they don't appreciate the same joke - instead of thinking 'that joke was stupid and that person who thought it was funny - is actually pretty weird (or has a weird sense of humour).'

All in all, if we all agree to disagree, we can all get along, funny or not funny!

How does this further related to addiction, recovery, or this blog - where 12-Step information is ALL OVER THE PLACE?


Bill W. and Doctor Bob do, in fact, mention in a few places in The Big Book - not to take our addict selves too seriously - but I believe these messages are often overlooked and dwarfed by more graphic wording in The Big Book.

Maybe Bill and Doc Bob were ON TO SOMETHING (that they couldn't properly define in one spot during their time).

Maybe Billy and The B. Doc were trying to say, in a totally non-scientific-non-German-research type of way that:


Maybe Bill and Doc Bob were (doh) letting fellow-alcoholics KNOW that we often don't understand humour or see humourous content because OUR MINDS process things in a serious fashion...due to long-term damage from our substance abuse. Fellow alcoholics aren't at fault by way of 'character' but by way of physiology - as is supported by the German research.

So, recovery suggestions NOT TO TAKE THINGS SO SERIOUSLY all the time and to DEVELOP A SENSE OF HUMOUR - really are of tantamount importance, aren't they?

(even if the joke is awful)

Of Tantamount Importance Pt 2: THE JOKE

Okay, here's the sample joke from the German study:

It was Mother's Day. Anna and her brother had told their mother to stay in bed that morning. She read her book and looked forward to breakfast. After a long wait she finally went downstairs. Anna and her brother were both eating at the table.

Choice of 4 punchlines:

a) Anna said: "Hi mum, we didn't expect you to be awake so early."
b) Anna picked up an egg and smashed it on her brother's head.
c) Her brother said: "We have a new teacher at our school."
d) Anna said: "It's a surprise for Mother's Day. We cooked our own breakfast."

Okay, that's IT!

Dumb joke, eh?

Anyhow - a measure of responses to similar jokes in the study showed that less than 68 percent of recovering substance abuse users couldn't determine the correct punchline for this joke. Ninety-Two of the participants considered 'healthy' actually 'got the joke' and answered "d."

Here's how the joke should really work:

It was Mother’s Day. Anna and her brother had told their mother to stay in bed that morning. She read her book and looked forward to breakfast. After a long wait she finally went downstairs. Anna and her brother were both eating at the table.

Punchline: d) Anna said: "It's a surprise for Mother's Day. We cooked our own breakfast."

When I first saw this, it wasn't funny to me at all (still isn't!). I looked carefully at all of the punchlines, then walked away from the computer for a minute to think...

Actually - I walked away because NONE OF THE PUNCHLINES MADE ANY SENSE TO ME AT ALL!!

While away for about 2 minutes, I forgot that Anna was the sister, NOT the mother (memory glitch), and I CAME BACK TO CHECK THE TEXT AGAIN. actually - I must say that I feel pretty dumb explaining this, but I think I should 'cos it seems highly likely that others in recovery have similar problems. Maybe if I 'tell' on myself - that I have SUCH TROUBLE in this area - others who also have trouble will feel less 'alone.'

After I checked the text, I thought about 'b' - Anna smashing the egg on her brother's head. I took a moment to imagine this and actually though that THIS WAS FUNNY TO ME, some physical humour - and that some kids I know would find this hilarious - but I remembered that I have a pretty low 'maturity' level at times and that probably ONLY kids (or male teens lol) would find this funny. I had to reason that the joke was told to 'healthy' adults and recovering adult addicts and that this would not be the right punchline.

After all of THAT - I thought about Anna's brother's TEACHER and was INSTANTLY SIDETRACKED (again) wondering what the teacher would think of Anna smashing an egg on the head of her brother. I reasoned that the teacher would probably think Anna's brother, along with Anna - was from a WILD HOME where the mother let the kids smash eggs on each others' heads........then I thought (seriously!) "OMG Anna's MOTHER is who this joke is about!!" I made a mental note (seriously) that sometimes teachers 'ASSUME THINGS' about parents that aren't true of the parents - when the kids show up at school and talk about their siblings... I thought of all these things before turning my attention BACK TO THE SITUATION OF THE JOKE.

Anna said: "It's a surprise for Mother's Day. We cooked our own breakfast."

About this statement, I thought it was totally 'un-funny,' but I thought that a kid (Anna) who would look after her little brother...then I got SIDETRACKED AGAIN, realizing that I only ASSUMED that Anna was the older sibling - without having been given any kind of information about the childrens' ages in the joke! Still, I resolved NOT TO LOOK AT THE TEXT again because the punchlines were only confusing me (really, I WAS confusing ME, according to this research! lol).

Next, I thought 'who cares about the kids' ages? and I went with Anna being old enough to cook breakfast, regardless of how old she and her brother were and I decided that some kids are old enough to cook breakfast. I remembered that the joke was about Mother's Day and that a lot of kids DO NICE THINGS for their mother on Mother's Day. This didn't seem like enough of a reason to pick punchline 'd' but I was completely fed up with the joke by this point and I selected punchline 'd'.........

.............then dashed to the computer to re-read 'my final answer' whether it made sense or not.

It made enough sense - that the kids made 'their' breakfast instead of their Mother's breakfast on Mother's Day. So they were not being nice to Mom on Mother's Day in the way that Mom thought they would be.

Apparently - that is the end of the joke and that's what is funny about it - that there was a mis-communication and that the Mom was thinking like a Mom and the kids were thinking like 'kids' and the Mom didn't get any breakfast.

*shaking my head* Seriously - I worked on this joke for 5 minutes and now that I have explained, in all truth, how my 'recovery-affected' mind dealt with a very simple joke, I am going to once again take a walk and try to forget about the process that seemed to take forever!

I know I said I would post the remainder of the German study, etc., but it will have to wait for a bit.....I am going to go for a walk and try to think of a joke that is actually FUNNY.

Of Tantamount Importance!! (you'll never guess) Pt 1

You might not guess what one of the most important things is, when considering 'cleaning up' and maintaining clean recovery...

Nope - it's not the sponsor. A sponsor is important...but what do you do when your sponsor is temporarily unavailable...?

Nope - it's not meetings. Meetings are important...but what do you do when you're in trouble during REAL LIFE SITUATIONS and you can't dash out from a 'business engagement,' school, a family situat, road trip, etc., and run off to a meeting...?

Nope - it's not "Do the work" or "Write it out like 'The Book' says or most OTHER 12-Step-driven suggestions. All of those are important, too...but what do you do if, while you're 'working through,' or 'writing it out,' you encounter SERIOUS emotional reactions (very likely to occur, but this will help you understand YOUR ADDICTION in order to combat it)...and you're taking into consideration what you learned at your last 12-step meeting, all your sponsor's suggestions, etc., and YOU STILL FEEL like you're in trouble...?


Go ahead and go the scientific route!

And that will lead to HUMOUR!!


Seriously!! Humour is really, really really important in recovery.

But first - we need to understand about how substance abuse actually impairs 'humour' in recovering addicts.

A respected Journal simply called, 'Addiction' recently aired a the results of a recent German study that indicated that problem drinkers can't really take a joke as well as some people.

The research subjects were 29 patients in Bochum Germany known to be in recovery because they were - well....... they were in a west-German treatment facility. The control group by which the 'recovery group' was compared were 29 people considered healthy by the researchers' standards. The 29 addicts/alcoholics and the 29 healthy people were all given the same tests.

Part of the testing involved a section where all participants read JOKES! The addicts didn't get some of the jokes, even though some of the punchlines could be realized through logic if one so choose to be 'dead serious' rather than use their propensity for humour! Still - through tools of LOGIC PLUS HUMOUR, the addict group didn't see the humour where they should, as compared with the 29 healthy people. (So - SMARTS plus Humour were lower in addicts than they were in healthy people).

There was more involved in the research other than just measuring responses to jokes. The other things measured helped to uncover WHY addicts might not 'get the jokes.'

Mood was measured
Intellectual ability was measured
Memory abilities were measured
Psychomotor skills were measured
Mentalizing ability (perception and 'other-people-awareness') was measured - aptitude for predicting and understanding other peoples' behaviors.

And, of course, 'capacity to appreciate jokes' was measured.

I read a sample joke from the Addiction Journal article - which was used in the research. I had to read the joke TWICE...and my opinion forever is that it is a really BAD JOKE! I will offer it near the end, after I give you all of the information about the study - PLUS - it's such a total groaner that I don't want to lose readers...I definitely had to USE LOGIC instead of real 'haha-ability' in order to get the right answer, believe it or not.

My 'opinion,' believe it or not - actually SUPPORTS the findings of this study. I'm kinda P-O-ed about this, because I consider myself to have a really broad and open sense of humour! After reading the full article about the study, however, I feel kind of fortunate to have been able to get the right answer...because now I know, from a certain scientific standpoint - that there is a definite 'block' to my funny-bone, so-to-speak, and that I should work harder on seeing things differently. I know now that I may have to use logic along with open-ness to 'humour' - for the rest of my life - in order to understand jokes (humour, intricate uses of language, subtle variations of word-play, and determination of OTHER PEOPLES' behavior etc...) that come easily to healthier people.
(End of interjection...)

Back to the study...

92 percent of the 'healthier' people but LESS THAN 68 percent of the addict group were able to select the correct punchline. As I said before - the joke will follow closer to the end - if I type it in now, you'll GROAN SO BAD - if you're a recovering addict - that you may not even finish reading. Apparently, if you're a 'healthy' person, you'll appreciate and 'get' the joke but I'm worried that you will laugh so hysterically, enjoying the joke - that you'll fall over and not finish reading about the study.

*LOL* ??

The recovery/addict group also fared worse in the mood, intellect, memory, psychomotor skill and 'mentalizing' parts of the testing.

The fact that recovering addicts didn't do so well, especially in the 'mentalizing' parts of the testing, is a pretty clear reinforcement of what is known about an addict's lessened ability to 'socialize' well like more healthy people do.

Jokes occur primarily in social settings. Naturally, there are other ways to put jokes forth, such as through comics, books, forwarded emails, etc., which leave the 'reader' alone with the joke - to interpret the joke in whatever way necessary - however this research concentrated largely on the form of jokes that would occur in a social situation (where the 'receiver' of the joke might gain information from SOMEONE ELSE about how to properly receive the joke).

Because addicts did poorly in other areas tested, we can make a general assumption that addicts really DO HAVE A PROBLEM in the 'HUMOUR' area!

Okay - this post is too long already...and contains some information that recovering addicts might not like at all (I Don't Like It! I can 'appreciate it' but I am still pretty ticked off to find out that I AM ONE WHO DOES NOT INTERPRET JOKES WELL, when before, I thought I ROCKED in the 'getting jokes' area). Actually, I am going for a walk to cool off before I post the BAD JOKE - I am having a 'Drama Queen attack of Can't-Stand-It-itis' over all this! I'll include the *cough*(hiding the 'j' word) , final comments about the German study, and how this all relates to why HUMOUR IS OF TANTAMOUNT IMPORTANCE TO RECOVERING ADDICTS in the next post!

The Twelve Steps of RELAPSE

1. I decided I could handle any emotional problems if other people would just quit trying to run my life.

2. I firmly believe that there is no greater power than myself and anyone who says differently is insane.

3. I made a decision to remove my will and my life from God, who didn't understand me anyway.

4. I made a searching and thorough moral inventory of everyone I know, so they couldn't fool me and take advantage of my good nature.

5. I sought these people out and tried to get them to admit to me, by God, the exact nature of their wrongs.

6. I became willing to help these people get rid of their defects of character.

7. I was humble enough to ask these people to remove their shortcomings.

8. I kept a list of all the people who had harmed me, and waited patiently for a chance to get even.

9. I got even with these people whenever possible except when to do so would get me into trouble.

10. I continue to take everyone's inventory and when they are wrong, which is most of the time, I promptly make them admit it.

11. Sought through the concentration of my willpower to get God, who didn't understand me anyhow, to see that my desires were best, and He ought to give me the power to carry them out.

12. Having maintained my emotional problems with these steps, I can thoroughly recommend them to others who don't want to lose their hard-earned status, but wish to be left alone to practice neurosis in everything they do for the rest of their days.

The 'Anti'-12 Steps (for active addicts)

1. I declared that I had complete and total control over my drug use and that I can completely manage my life and still use drugs.

2. Came to know that I needed no one and that drugs would help me maintain my happiness and sanity

3. Made a decision to harness the benefits (as I understand them) of any substance I chose to use.

4.Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of all others.

5.Admitted to no one, including myself, any of my wrongs, no matter how evident.

6. I became entirely ready to defend, excuse, and justify my actions, using personal attacks on others (if necessary), and to minimize any mistake I may make.

7. Boldly declare that I have no shortcomings (while secretly believing that anything bad I ever did could not be forgiven).

8. Made a list of all persons that had (or that I thought had) harmed me and searched for opportunities to "collect" on those debts.

9. Collected whatever I felt that I am "owed", whenever possible regardless of the fact that doing so may cause injury or pain to someone else.

10. Continued to take an inventory of others "wrongs" against me and promptly collected on them whenever possible.

11. Sought through experimentation, "expert opinions", partying, and the advice of my using friends, a better, stronger, and longer high. I search only for more knowledge of how and what to use, and the means to do so without consequences.

12. Having an enjoyable experience from the use of drugs, I tried to carry this message to other suffering sober people to lead them to practice these principals in all their affairs with me.

Here Is The Recovery Medicine Wheel

The Medicine Wheel embraces the Four Directions, Four Grandfathers, Four Elements (fire, earth, water, air), Four Winds, Four Peoples (races of those in the human family - of black, white, red and yellow). We the people have four aspects to our nature, four major realms of human existence.

North - the physical realm
East - the realm of knowledge & enlightenment
South - the spiritual realm
West - the realm of introspective thought

Walking the Steps

Walking the steps of the recovery Medicine Wheel means selecting a starting point or origin and working your way around in a sun-wise direction until you come full-circle back to the place of origin. Because a circle has neither an authentic beginning nor a true end, once you have circled around back to your place of beginning, you will then be able to 'begin again' - a new circle, with a new understanding - unending. This is your life-long journey.....quite literally, it is a life-long quest of new beginnings.
This concept of The Medicine Wheel is Ancient, having passed along and down through many generations. It is a model for physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual improvement. The model's purpose is for initiating a healthier mind and body as well as spiritual strength and inner peace to those honestly and sincerely seeking these. Those recovering from addictions can use The Medicine Wheel to strengthen their recovery and their resolve to maintain their recovery.

The Medicine Wheel, however, is a tool that requires 'participation' and effort. You must propel forward through it, moving through its quadrants, experiencing the journey in order to best benefit from it.


The north is the place of beginning, the place of rebirth. You must make a decision in your life to stop physically abusing your body.

1. Beginning today I will take good care of myself.

If you are abusing drugs, alcohol or food or yourself in any way, you must start by realizing the damage you are doing to your body. You must take aggressive action toward securing treatment for your addiction.

2. Beginning today I will regain a balance in my life, by developing an understanding of the important connnection between the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual parts of my existence.

This means that you will start to see the whole scope of your life. In this, you will come to understand that physical well-being involves becoming enlightened. It also means you will learn of the connections between emotions, life stress, sense of self and the effect these life elements have on your physical health.

3. Beginning today I will stop inflicting pain (physical & emotional) on myself and others.

If you hurt inside, if you have anger/pain you must release it at a safe time and in a safe manner. Causing pain in any yourself or must stop...immediately.

4. Beginning today I will come to an understanding that change is a process.

People from dysfunctional families are not accustomed to the "process" of living. Typically, they jump from crisis to crisis. People in 'Recovery' need to LEARN to live life as a process instead of a series crisis situations. They need to understand and accept that learning and changing takes time. You may not be able to see miracles overnight, but wonderful things will occur over time.


The east is the morning direction. It is the direction of 'new.' New day, new light, new thought and new resolve.

1. Beginning today I will reawaken to all creation and all of the beauty that exists in the world around me.

Like everything worthwhile, opening up once more requires work. Open yourself up to new experiences, new people and new awareness. Begin live.

2. Beginning today I will release myself from a narrow view of life and begin to grow, learn and gain new knowledge.

You must begin to give up your narrow and self destructive view of life. Venture forth. Challenge yourself to grow...and to gain new knowledge. Go beyond fear to begin feeling that you are a worthwhile person and that you can, indeed, make a positive life change.

3. Beginning today I will remember that I have a sacred right to live my life as I wish and need to bring harmony and balance into my existence by respecting the life right of others.

You have the right to be you. You do not have the right to play a role assigned to you by your dysfunctional family. We require love and need to respect others at the same time. We must learn to balance our rights, needs and desires with those of others in order to achieve harmony.

4. Beginning today I will work on understanding the changes I must make in order to achieve personal harmony, balance and freedom.

Consider the cognitive and behavior changes that will bring you freedom from your addiction. Move away from old, dysfunctional, destructive life patterns and move toward new balances and functional, healthy ways of living. Fear must be replaced with a feeling of personal strength and this is done through caring support of the self - by the self and of the self by others. Cooperation must replace tyrannical control and love must replace self-hatred.


The south is the realm of existence. Here is where we connect with a spiritual power greater than ourselves. Some may see this greater power as the collective essence of all people. Others may see this as being pure energy. What matters is that every recovering person should connect with a spiritual essence, a power that is greater than him or herself.

1. Beginning today I will come to an understanding of my special relationship with Mother Earth and release my pain to her.

We see the Earth as the Mother of all living things. The soil provides us with food, and stones, soil, and the trees in the earth can provide shelter for us. If we know and respect the earth, she will always provide for us. In your recovery, Mother Earth will heal you with her beauty and energy. Touch Mother Earth and ask her to remove your innner sadness, anxiety and fear. Ask Her to allow you to let go of negative thinking and negative self perception. Release your pain to Mother Earth and you will be refreshed, released, reborn and freed.

2. Today I will come to understand my relationship with Father Sky.

Father Sky is wind, rain, snow, thunder and lightening, stillness, movement, clarity and cloudiness. Father Sky can either take or give life. He will act as a reminder of the feelings within you, both gentle and destructive. If you watch and respect the ways of Father Sky, you will understand the meaning of balance and feel within you a sense of strength and ability.

3. Today I will seek the connection I have with all of the universe.

This step teaches us to understand humility and belonging. We can continue to heal ourselves by sharing knowledge and love with others. Connections must be supportive and uplifting. You must convey unconditional love rather than the kind of love you expected in the past or have experienced when drugs and alcohol were involved. Love combined with drugs and alcohol was never and is never love at all. You must say, "I am going to begin caring for myself and accept the love and support from others."

4. Today I will reconnect with and nurture my own spirit.

This is the most direct, yet difficult step within the spiritual realm. This step asks you to nurture your own spirit. To do this you must connect with your inner self, with that most private part of you. You must be able to acknowledge your fears, desires, emotions and feelings of distress. Most of all, you must learn to care for your own spirit. Think of your spirit as a child. Find out how to help that child. Learn whether the child needs love, reassurance or comforting. Is the child angry? If so let the child express some anger. Find a safe time and place for that child to release his or her anger. That safe time may be in a therapist office or in a sweat lodge, in a support group or in the solitude of your own room. Find someone who will be caring, supportive and nonjudgmental. Treat your spirit with love. Treat yourself with love. Seek to know your inner self. Heal your spirit.


This is the realm where we must look within ourselves and be honest with what we see or find.

1. Today I will speak honestly with myself.

This step demands that you stop suppressing feelings, stop turning off emotions and stop denying that problems exist. An adult child of an alcoholic may wish to appear helpful, calm and in control. In reality this 'acting helpful' is often only a way to avoid rejection. The 'calm' may be a tool to mask inner tension and fear. A controlled exterior is often used as a fog to cover up feelings of failure and of inadequacy. In order to be healed you must begin speaking honestly with yourself. As you become aware of the truths of your current life experiences and of your path to recovery, the choices you must make along the way will become clear.

2. Today I will look at my problems and my accomplishments with a willingness to commit myself to positive growth and change.

The ability to look at both problems and accomplishments can be an indicator of one's growing sense of self. At this point in the Medicine Wheel, acknowledgements of both problems and accomplishments can return balance to your life. Commitment to positive growth and change provides the path to healing.

3. Today I will examine the ways in which I have tried to manipulate, control or manage the lives of others. I will make a commitment to stop these behaviors.

This step has a great deal of meaning for recoverying addicts, adult children of alcoholics and co-dependent persons as well as those from dysfunctional families. One must realize that when performing controlling behaviors, he/she is inflicting harm to 'self' as well as to others. Other people must fix their own problems and the recovering addict must do likewise. Recovering addicts will need to stop trying to manage others and, instead - focus on accepting responsibility for their own life, their own recovery.

4. Today I will acknowledge that change in my life must begin with me.

This step is an action step in which you empower yourself to make positive life changes. No one except you can make changes in your own life. No one else can stop your addiction. Others can help you, encourage you, support you, but only you can stop your addictive behaviors. Discover your personal path to recovery. A recovery/support group, a therapist or trusted other, along with your own insight will help you to unravel the meaning of each step within The Recovery Medicine Wheel. Many traits of this Medicine Wheel are like other therapeutic healing methods; 12 steps, reality therapy and behavior modification therapy, just to name a few.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Clean Time Calculator Says...

The Pigs In Space "Clean Time Calculator" says that I have been 'clean' for:

1195 Days
Check out the 'Clean Time Generator' links at the right.
I placed a few links there - just in case one of them is 'down for maintenance' at some point when somebody really, really REALLY needs to check out their number of 'clean time' days!
Apparently, according to the "Recovery Greetings" cleantime calculator, 1195 days would work out to over 103million heartbeats since I last had a drink, and close to 24million breaths.
I think those last figures are WRONG haha - 'cos I had a LOT OF PANIC ATTACKS when I first quit drinking. My heart was doin' double-time and so was my breathing...
Oh well - the 'Recovery Greetings' Clean Time Generator is pretty neat anyway! Try It!

Al-Anon Questions

Those who don't drink but who are around active alcoholics often develop behaviors and attitudes that make their situation or their relationship with the active alcoholic worse. Even though non-drinkers are not at fault and every 'drinker' makes his or her own choices on the matter of whether they drink or not, non-drinkers often need some support.

Answer either yes or no to each of the following questions:

1. Do you worry about how much someone else drinks?

2. Do you have money problems because of someone else's drinking?

3. Do you tell lies to cover up for someone else's drinking?

4. Do you feel that drinking is more important to your loved one than you are?

5. Do you think that the drinker's behaviour is caused by his or her companions?

6. Are meal times frequently delayed because of the drinker?

7. Do you make threats, such as "If you don't stop drinking, I'll leave you"?

8. When you kiss the drinker hello, do you secretly try to smell his or her breath?

9. Are you afraid to upset someone for fear it will set off a drinking bout?

10. Have you been hurt or embarrassed by a drinker's behaviour?

11. Does it seem as if every holiday is spoiled because of someone's drinking?

12. Have you considered calling the police because of drinking behaviour?

13. Do you find yourself searching for hidden liquor?

14. Do you feel that if the drinker loved you, he or she would stop drinking to please you?

15. Have you refused social invitations out of fear or anxiety?

16. Do you sometimes feel guilty when you think of the lengths you have gone to in order to control the drinker?

17. Do you think that if the drinker stopped drinking, your other problems would be solved?

18. Do you ever threaten to hurt yourself to scare the drinker into saying "I love you" or "I'm sorry"?

19. Do you ever treat people (children, employees, parents, co-workers, etc.) unjustly because you are angry at someone else for drinking too much?

20. Do you feel there is no one who understands your problems?

If you've answered 'yes' to a significant number of these questions (5 or more), you might consider finding out more about how to help yourself and learn to set boundaries with the person in your life who is drinking.

Here's the Al-Anon / Alateen site which has information for spouses, children, parents and friends of alcoholics:

Al - Anon / Alateen

Monday, April 9, 2007

Program Promises

I must have been ONE FORTUNATE addict when I cleaned up - and it must have been 'my time' for sure, because I understood 'The Promises' and experienced a taste of them within my first week of sobriety.

Here are the Promises from pages 83 and 84 of the Alcoholics Anonymous book:

“If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us — sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.”

I was definitely AMAZED before I was halfway through. What I realized during the first week of sobriety is that I had made a DECISION. That decision FREED ME from all the self-inflicted alcohol-depression, hangovers, the cycle of hangovers and binges. Though I didn't feel it very often at first, I did experience feelings of 'peace' in knowing I wasn't fully immersed and entangled in a trap anymore. I wasn't free from every bad thing, but I was FREE from GETTING DRUNK and initiating the next hangover, the next bout of depression and panic attacks.

I felt more FREEDOM knowing that I would never have to return to FEELING THAT OLD WAY if I didn't drink again. I didn't know how I was going to 'not drink' for the rest of my life...but after a few days of sobriety, I knew how I stayed sober the day before...and resolved that if I didn't know how I would stay sober 'TOMORROW' and 'JUST FOR ONE DAY' ahead of time, or even 'Just For Today' - that I would simply do what I did YESTERDAY.

Whatever works, right?

'The Promises,' for some reason, are a concept that, even at the start of my recovery, I never did take lightly. I made fun of them on the surface, but never strongly declared that I doubted the possibilities on pages 84 and 85 of the A.A. Literature. I am fortunate, because I grasped onto those pages RIGHT AWAY. I was never one who spent a lot of time asserting, "Those things will never happen with me!" A few of my peers who said that the promises would never appear in their lives have died drug-related deaths. Some are out drinking and drugging today. Most have just relapsed and disappeared. A small number of immediate peers with whom I started my recovery journey with - have stayed clean. I can count these only on hand, but they, too, say that they understand The Promises - and they understood pages 84 and 85 of the Big Book early on.

Apart from the decision I made 3 years ago - to stop drinking...I also made a decision that if I felt that any of 'The Promises' were transpiring in my life, I would REFUSE TO GIVE THEM UP. That has always meant, for me, that I refuse to trade any freedom I've gained, any peace, serenity I've ever felt since being sober, any 'new happiness'...for a drink.
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