Afraid Of Failure

Posted: April 17, 2014 in Fear, Uncategorized

I was watching a TED Talk while walking on the treadmill at 5 a.m. the other day. I was half asleep so I don’t remember the name of the speaker but I remember that it was about overcoming the fear of failure.

The speaker proposed that you asked yourself three questions. The first question is, “What if I fail?” What’s the worst that could happen if you do what you are terrified of doing and then fail? List all the possible outcomes. Are they still frightening you?

Then ask yourself, “What if I do nothing?” What if what you want most is being your own boss but you are too afraid of trying, how are you going to feel in 10 years about doing nothing? If you happen to still be around.

The last question is, “What if I succeed?” How is your life going to be different if you are successful in doing what you set out to do? That can be scary. As Marianne Williamson says, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

You might be wondering how could anyone be afraid of success? Perhaps is not success that you are afraid of but of change. Change can be scary. That’s why many times you tend to recreate the life you had growing up not because it was healthy but because it’s familiar.

But you are still afraid of failing after pondering these three questions. Maybe redefining success as not drinking or using today could help you as it has helped me. Perhaps the question is not if you are going to fall because you are but are you going to get up again?

One of the many benefits of being in recovery is that you don’t have to face life alone. You can go to a meeting and ask for help. You can call your sponsor or a fellow addict/alcoholic. You can pray.

Or you can do nothing, that’s okay too. Some only change at the rate of pain they experience. They cannot change or risk failure until the pain of inaction surpasses the pain of change or the fear of failure.

What if you fail? What if you do nothing? What if you succeed? Only you know the answer.

I’m Bored!

Posted: April 7, 2014 in Addiction, Grace

I was driving home with my nephew after going to the movies. He was sitting in the back of the car, as he’s not old enough to sit next to me. It was a 10-minute trip from the movie theater to my place.
Suddenly he asked, “I’m bored! What should I do?” This is probably an appropriate question for an eight-year-old kid but it got me thinking about growing up and my recovery.

Before being in active addiction, I was always doing something. I could not sit still. I had to keep myself busy. I was very uncomfortable being idle. I realize now that I stayed busy so that I did not have time to reflect about my life.

Another reason for my behavior was that I did not believe people could love me unconditionally, their love had to be earned. So if they couldn’t love me for me, at the very least they were going to need me. I made myself indispensable and then complained when they asked for my help.

Once in active addiction, I was able to relax or at least I thought I did. I felt like I had all the energy in the world, I felt invincible. Drugs were working for me. It didn’t matter that I knew full well that I was jeopardizing my health.

Then, they stopped giving me the desired effect I had experienced initially. I chased that feeling for some time. By the grace of God and thanks to the help of my partner at the time I went to treatment, not without trying to quit on my own first. I just couldn’t stop.

I completed treatment and came back home but I still had a hard time being by myself. I hated being alone. A sponsor told me to seek the presence of God during those times of loneliness. I went to a lot of meetings. I listened to many recordings of A.A. speakers. I just couldn’t be alone with my thoughts.

It took some time, many hours of therapy, and medication too but I began to experience a psychic change. The need to have noise around me went away slowly. I started to enjoy silence for the first time in years.

I am not bored anymore, I am now in peace and serene. I don’t need to have chaos around me to distract me from my pain. I can tell God how I am feeling. I can embrace my distress.

“I’m bored! What should I do?” I told my nephew that it’s okay to have nothing to do. I gave him permission to just be.

I used to think that you could not possibly understand me because you didn’t grow up with the type of parents I had. My mother was diagnosed with bipolar disorder later in life, not that she stayed on her medication consistently anyway; my father drank like an alcoholic; and my extended family didn’t fare much better.

I became a control freak as a result of this chaotic upbringing. I learned to keep track of all the things you had done wrong and all the things I had done for you, in case I needed to use them as ammunition against you.

I was never responsible for anything I did. It was always somebody else’s fault. I had it hard for sure, but I also thought that I had it harder than anybody else around me. Nobody could possibly understand what I had gone through.

I had to grow up really fast and learn to be as independent as possible so that I could survive. I also did it so that I did not have to ask for help. My family reinforced this behavior by praising me for not ever bothering them.

I left home at 19 years old not knowing why I was leaving. All I knew was that I had to get away.

My life got better then but I wasn’t able to have close friends. I thought I couldn’t trust people because people were going to hurt me and leave me. It turns out that I was pushing people away in an effort to protect myself from being abandoned. You can’t be abandoned if you leave first, right?

It wasn’t until I reached my bottom as an addict that I realized that no matter how hard I tried to change and control the people around me, I was never going to be happy.

At this point in my life I had all the material stuff I had ever wanted. I had a loving partner who was there for me and who tried really hard to make me happy but something was still missing. I mean, I was happy with him but I had a void inside of me that nothing could fill.

I didn’t know until it was too late that I needed a spiritual program to learn how to enjoy life as it comes, to be able to get excited about what was happening around me.

I was used to not getting too excited about anything so that I would not be too disappointed when things fell apart. I was forever foreboding happiness.

I had a reason to be that way. I was doing the best I could with what I had. But I have put down the weapons, I mean, tools I acquired growing up in exchange for a spiritual kit.

I can now see that we all can have a hard life, that what is hard for you may not be hard for me but that doesn’t make it any less hard. And it turns out that only children can be abandoned. As an adult, I can learn to let people in and out of my life with grace and dignity because I am no longer a child.

Club Med

Posted: February 5, 2014 in Gratitude
Tags: ,

I recently realized that over four years ago, while I was in treatment for chemical dependency, my significant other stayed home alone with hardly anybody he could talk to about what he was going through.

This came up on a lecture I attended. The presenter made a point that while the patient is safe getting better, his or her loved one is left behind with very few options to deal with the grief that losing your spouse to addiction/alcoholism must cause.

That really made me reflect on how lucky I was to have had such a loving person in my life that supported me through my struggle to get clean and sober. I was still very sick at the time and didn’t appreciate the fact that he came over to see me and participate in family sessions a few times.

I was so incredibly demanding and thought that that was the natural thing for him to do. I didn’t know any better. I don’t think I even apologized for putting him through so much. I rationalized that I was doing living amends so I didn’t need to voice my contrition.

I did not try to keep to him hostage when he told me he wanted to end out relationship. I thought he had been through enough with me and that he deserved to be happy even if it wasn’t with me.

I cannot thank him enough for all the he has done and continues to do for me. I am a better person because I had him in my life. I often say the following prayer when I think of him,

May you be happy, may you have a long life, and may you find true love.


Posted: January 28, 2014 in Growing, Happiness

I recently began working at a very welcoming company. Seven other people started at the same time and went through the same orientation process as I did. We spent close to five days together.

Out of those people, there was one who I disliked almost immediately. She was so inflexible. She needed to know all the answers to every possible scenario she could come up with. I could not understand why she needed to have all this information.

I later learned that she was raised by alcoholics; her story and the things she has gone through are worthy of admiration. I feel bad for her because she’s still living in fear and trying to control everything around her so she can try to control the outcome.

That used to be me. I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I could not enjoy the present because I was busy protecting myself from the future or trying to avoid the horrors of the past. I was afraid of allowing myself to be happy because I thought there would be a price to pay.

It’s taken me many years to learn how to enjoy the present moment as it presents itself. I can now make plans knowing full well that they’re not going to go exactly as I intended. I have learned that I am only responsible for the effort and not the outcome.

I have learned that I am only responsible for my happiness and that I don’t have to be responsible for other people’s well being provided they’re capable adults. I have learned that people cannot read my mind and no, they’re not supposed to know what I want even if they’ve known me for a long time.

I have learned to look at what’s going well in my life instead of focusing on what I think it’s lacking. It’s because I practice gratitude that I allow for the possibility of happiness in my life. I don’t have to wait until I’m happy to be grateful.

Happiness is not a moving target or something money can buy or something somebody can give me because if I place my happiness in somebody else’s care, it can be taken away. I get to be responsible for my happiness because as my sponsor says, “nobody can take better care of you than yourself.”

Not Fair

Posted: January 11, 2014 in Growing
Tags: , ,

I took my friend to see the doctor yesterday as he was not getting better. The doctor told him to get admitted to the hospital right away. I drove him to the ER where he was expecting to wait for a few hours. He told me to leave since there was no reason for both us to just sit there.

I went to visit him this morning, he wasn’t in pain anymore but had a headache and was hungry. He said that he looked so bad that they admitted him immediately after I left. I got him a soda and some snacks and we chatted for a while. He expressed his frustration at getting sick yet again since he got sober over a year ago.

Just last year he was having a hard time with his energy level. He couldn’t do hardly anything without getting exhausted. Just a couple of months ago, his new doctor successfully treated this and he was back to work. And now this.

Good friend that I am, I told him that things were exactly as they were supposed to be, maybe not the way they should be or the way he would want them to be but the way they’re supposed to be. I talked to him about acceptance and Emmet Fox’s Golden Key.

I left when he fell asleep. On my way back to my car I started to get angry at how unfair all of this seemed. My friend has been doing everything he’s supposed to do. He completed his residential treatment, his Intensive Outpatient Treatment, has a sponsor, has been working the steps, he’s active in his recovery, it didn’t seem fair at all.

I was reminded that life isn’t fair. That if it were, I would be dead, in jail, or institutionalized. Just because I got sober doesn’t mean that I’m going to be spared life’s difficulties. It means that now I have the support and the tools to cope with life. Every day is a good day, it’s just that some days are better than others.

I recently heard that when something like this happens, I get to remember that 1. It’s not about me and 2. I get to show up to life instead of running away from the discomfort.

This is another opportunity for me to realize how full my life is and how grateful I feel that I get to walk through life with grace and dignity as long as stay sober.

Nothing Left To Lose

Posted: December 8, 2013 in Acceptance, Grace, Gratitude, Growing

“There’s a lot of freedom in having nothing left to lose,” is a quote I heard recently that resonated with me in so many levels. One of those levels is, of course, getting sober. It wasn’t until I had tried to quit drinking/using on my own, and failed, that I became willing to ask for help.

I went to rehab to a place that I thought was in the middle of nowhere, where I didn’t know anybody. I thought that if i did it that way, I would think twice before getting angry and leaving. It worked. I stayed there for 28 days. It was suggested to me to go to a sober house but I didn’t and went home instead.

Once there, I went to meetings religiously with my little notebook ready to take notes; I was going to ace A.A. I also went to Intensive Outpatient Treatment. I got a sponsor, a couple of them, in fact.

I relapsed a few months later. I was actively using/drinking for about three months until my drug of choice stopped working. I wasn’t getting the relief I needed anymore. I still remember feeling ashamed of failing to stay sober, failing my partner at the time, and feeling like a failure.

Looking back now that I’m almost four years sober, I realize that I neglected to maintain a daily connection with my Higher Power. I also didn’t have the support of my home group because I didn’t allow in my life; I would go to meetings on time and leave on time.

This time around though, I’ve stayed in the middle of A.A. through service work like taking people to meetings, taking meetings to treatment facilities, chairing meetings, sponsoring but most importantly, I have shared, in a general way, where I am in my sobriety.

That has made a huge difference. The more I share how I’m feeling, the less my disease stays in my head. By telling on myself through sharing those crazy thoughts that sometimes run through my head, I feel that I belong when I see people relating to me.

Every day that stay sober is a good day. I am aware now that I cannot achieve happiness through external sources. I get to work on myself to let go of  the extra baggage I no longer need. Being happy is a decision I get to make every day. I am responsible for my well being, nobody else is.