Archive for the ‘Acceptance’ Category

One of the lessons I learned while I was in treatment was to do my best effort while letting go of the outcome.

I thought I was already doing that but I didn’t realize that what I was trying to achieve was perfection. I was never satisfied with the results I got. There was always something else I could have done better, differently; it was never enough.

I was using my need for perfection as a cover for my insecurities. It was a 20-ton shield that ultimately left me exhausted.

I now try to show up to life regardless of how I’m feeling. I just put in the effort without trying to control the outcome. And sometimes I can actually do it.

A friend illustrated this beautifully with a memory from school. He used to take a drawing class in elementary school. He thought he was going to get a bad grade because in his mind the work of his classmates was much better than his.

He was surprised when at the end of the year he received an “A”. He was surprised because he thought his drawings were not good enough compared to the work of his classmates.

He spoke to his teacher who told him that she had two reasons two give him an “A”: He was always present in class and he was always putting in the effort to do the work to the best of his abilities.

That’s how she graded him. That’s how I now try to “grade” my performance in life. Am I showing up? Am I being present? Am I putting in the effort? It doesn’t matter what the results are if I can answer yes to those questions.

I’m not suggesting that I settle for less than I can do. What I am saying is that when I accept my limitations I can then focus on my strengths.

Just for today, I let go of the need to control, please, perform and perfect.

Always Late

Posted: June 27, 2013 in Acceptance, Growing
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I was meeting a friend yesterday at 11 a.m. at our home group. I waited for him to arrive but when he didn’t show up ten minutes late, as he usually does, I texted him to see if he was on his way.

He called me to tell me that he was so enthralled doing some step work that he forgot all about me, that he needed to finish it.

He apologized and I agreed to meet him some other day. I was upset but I didn’t tell him. All I could think was, “He’s been sober so many more years than I have, he should know better than standing me up.”

Then I started to think how disrespectful he was by always being late to meetings. I was full of judgement.

I suddenly remembered that before getting sober I was always late…if and when I showed up.

My flakiness was born out of feeling that people didn’t care if I showed up or not. Some other times, I was just not in the mood, had a headache, didn’t feel well, etc.

It was all fear driven. Fear of getting there and being stood up. Fear of feeling like I didn’t matter. Fear to confirm that people didn’t care to be around me. Mostly, it was all False Events Appearing Real.

My friend’s behavior was bothering me because it reminded me of what I used to do. And I was also thinking that he should have changed his behavior by now.

I remembered that I usually tell my sponsees that the only behavior change that some people can achieve is abstaining from drinking/using, and that that is okay.

When I saw his behavior in that new light, I was then able to allow my friend to be himself, to be human.

I have often been told that I’m a “needy” person, that I demand a lot of attention. In A. A. speech this equals to, “Needing to be treated like I’m special to feel normal.”

In Attached, a book by Amir Levine M. D., instead of calling somebody needy, he uses the word “anxious” to describe those people who “…love to be very close to your romantic partners and have the capacity for great intimacy. You often fear, however, that your partner does not wish to be as close as you would like him/her to be. Relationships tend to consume a large part of your emotional energy. You tend to be very sensitive to small fluctuations in your partner’s moods and actions, and although your senses are often accurate, you take your partner’s behaviors overly personally. You experience a lot of negative emotions within the relationship and get easily upset. As a result you tend to act out and say things you later regret. If the other person provides a lot of security and reassurance, you are able to shed much of your preoccupation and feel contented.”

I fit the characteristics of an “anxious” person. Levine says that being anxious is not right or wrong, it’s just the way I interact with loved ones. I’m hoping that being more aware of what situations trigger me might help me change my behavior to become less anxious.

Levine says that most of what people do has little or nothing to do with me, which is what I’ve been hearing in these rooms since I started recovery. And to paraphrase the Big Book, when I am disturbed, it’s because I find something or somebody unacceptable to me.

Since I can’t change other people, and believe me, I’ve tried using different techniques from being adorable to water boarding and everything in between with negligible results, I get to change MY behavior.

My behavior does not define who I am anymore. I separate who I am from what I do. I spent years thinking that I was born a certain way and that I could not change. I was defined by fate. I now believe that I’m a good person and that nothing I do can change that. As we say in A. A., “Were sick people trying to get better, not bad people trying to be good.”

Needy or not, I accept myself just as I am today. I am no longer rushing to the impossible goal of being perfect. Instead, I try to enjoy my journey to becoming fully human. Accepting, approving, and loving myself just as I am,  is not a one-time decision for me. I get to make this decision over and over trying not to be overly critical for not getting “it” the first time.

 

Trusting The Process

Posted: January 13, 2012 in Acceptance, Growing

Until a few years ago, I thought that if I only had the right external conditions I would be happy. I tried hard to get to that point, and by most accounts, I did. That still did not bring me happiness.

Addiction rescued me from going crazy by numbing the pain, the emptiness. That solution quickly turned on me. I know now that my addiction was but a symptom of my disease. I spent many years trying to find a chemical solution for a spiritual problem.

I have a disease of perception that tells me I don’t belong, that nobody can possibly understand me. The only way to keep my disease in remission is by staying in a fit, spiritual condition.

I am so glad I have a great support system as I am now facing my biggest challenge: getting to know and love ME as newly single. It’s overwhelming at times.

I’m moving to my own place in a few days, leaving behind a relationship that was the foundation of my being for over a  decade. I’m surrendering to the process without resorting to manipulation or holding him hostage. I am allowing him to follow his path, whatever that may be.

I  don’t know what my life will look like a year from now. That’s OK, I don’t have to know anymore. I have faith that no matter what happens, I will be OK.

And as for you, all I can say is May you be happy, May you find love, May you live a long life.

I met with a new sponsee for the first time last Tuesday. We talked about being in treatment for addiction, what got him there and how he’s coping. I asked him to start reading the Doctor’s Opinion in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.

During our meeting, he mentioned a book called Everything Happens for a Reason by Mira Kishenbaum. The title intrigued me so I downloaded a sample. I was immediately hooked.

One of the things that got my attention was her idea that whatever happens to us is the Universe’s way of trying to tell us to let go of fear, resentments, the past, to start living the life we have been so afraid to lead.

She talks about ten reasons why this happens. I’ve already mentioned to let go of fear. Another one is to accept ourselves completely, warts and all. One more is to help us feel at home in the world. And the fourth, to bring us to a place where we can experience forgiveness.

I hated my alcoholic upbringing, all the chaos that brought me and how it robbed me of my childhood. Funny how things work, I became addicted to another drug, but just the same I hurt myself, my partner and the people around me.

I had to experience addiction so that I could completely understand that my father, stepfather, uncles, did not drink because they were evil but because like me, they are addicts/alcoholics.

I had to experience addiction to realize that I cannot achieve perfection or control people, places or things. I am powerless over their actions but I know now I’m free to choose my response.

I had to experience addiction so that I could finally go through what I was most afraid to realize that I could survive it.

I no longer live in fear. Yes, I can still get paralyzed with fear but I now have spiritual tools to keep me going. I no longer have to put a brave face and pretend I know it all. I am content with being an imperfect, fallible human being.

Learning to Let Go

Posted: June 20, 2011 in Acceptance, Recovery
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A sponsee is somebody who’s guided by another addict/alcoholic through a particular 12-step program. One of the two sponsees I have, left his treatment center on a pass last Friday and didn’t come back.

While I intellectually know that there’s nothing I could’ve done to prevent this from happening, I still feel sad he didn’t reach out to me or somebody else in his rehab facility.

I started blaming the people who left him out on pass for his relapse. They ought to know that’s one of his patterns but I know I was just looking for somebody to be angry at.

I know I cannot keep anybody who I sponsor sober. The best I can do is share honestly from my experience about what happened to me when they ask for guidance on a similar situation.

I knew he was still resistant to admitting he is powerless over his addiction. I hope he’s realized it by now and I hope he makes it back.

Accepting All of Me

Posted: June 10, 2011 in Acceptance
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Not too long ago, I thought that I had to eliminate my negative feelings. I thought that if I got angry I would lose control and revert to my old, shaming self.

I went from not caring about people getting hurt because they obviously had it coming, to behaving in a robot-like manner. If you are an addict like me, you know that I operated in extremes, I either hated or loved you.

I thought that if I just focused on loving everything and everybody my negative feelings would just go away but they didn’t. Ignoring my feelings made me feel phony. I’m not suggesting that you act on every feeling you get because I believe that while feelings are real, they’re not necessarily true.

I came to these rooms knowing two feelings, anger and guilt. I first had to build my feelings repertoire. That took an incredible amount of questioning. What am I feeling? Where in my body am I feeling it? I wish I could tell you that I now got it down. I don’t. I still struggle with trying to put my best face forward, with being on all the time, with wanting to be strong no matter what. It gets easier though.

Whenever I feel insecure, I practice the affirmation “I love and approve of myself exactly as I am.” I believe that I have to replace the negative thoughts that come to mind with positive ones without beating myself over it.

The affirmation from Brené Brown, “I let go of the need to please, perform and perfect,” helps me when I’m anxious.

The most important lesson I’ve learned in dealing with my feelings is that only when I accept all of me, I can start to heal. I’m not perfect and the sooner I learn that I will never be, I can start to love the person that I am today.