Wearing life like a loose garment 8/9

I heard in the rooms of recovery “to wear this life like a loose garment.” It is written about in recovery literature but the person quoted saying it is St. Francis of Assisi.

I really like this idea. It reminds me that no matter what happens in the world, on the outside…that my insides, my spirit energy is pure and connected. I might not always feel the connection, or the energy but I do know it is there.

The physical body that I have will leave this planet one day. But I believe that the energy that is my spirit (the stuff on the inside) will be somewhere that my little mind cannot even comprehend. I believe whatever or wherever I end up, will be beyond my wildest dreams of peace and laughter and complete exhilaration. I think I will finally get it. And I will laugh my ass off.

When I return home to the source that created me, the physical body does not come with me. Therefore, I shall wear it like a costume. Like something that is temporary. I will respect it because it holds my soul. I respect it and try to do the will of god while my spirit resides here because that is what feels the best to me.

What does this have to do with my recovery? Everything. When I was in active addiction I not only disrespected and abused my physical body, but I was incapable of connecting with my soul and higher power.

In the end of my using my physical body was a wreck. Black and blue from head to toe, hair falling out, my kidneys were producing horrific pain in my back which I ignored and I am sure my hygiene was at an all time low.

I like the idea that the physical houses the spiritual. My discoveries in recovery have been so enjoyable and have relieved so much of the suffering that I thought life was producing. Life was not producing suffering, my diseased up mind gave me those suffering thoughts and I believed them.

Today even when the disease creeps in and life throws something at my physical presence that I do not like, I know that I have that peace inside that is my soul, that is always right with god.

The Sting of the Past 8/8

It is no secret that I have done things in my past that I am not proud of. Things that I would not dream of doing today.

The sting comes for me, when others in my life bring up my past and point out my shameful wrong doings. I was at a family gathering not to long ago and of course someone brought up my past and the drunken mess that I was. The incident she was talking about happened over 10 years ago. But the sting of her words and the pit in my gut that I received during the conversation, sucked.

She reminded me that I was sneaking champagne in the morning of my younger brothers birthday party. She also reminded me that I was unable to drive my own son home from the party that day. I was also told that her “friends” were watching me and talking about me to her about my drinking issues.

Did I do the things she spoke of…yes. Was it during active addiction, yes. Am I that person today? Hell NO!

I am not sure of the intent of the person who brought that up and I may never know. Maybe she was carrying some resentful feelings towards me for embarrassing her in front of her friends. Maybe she felt I ruined the party. Maybe she was just oblivious that bringing up something like that just might not feel so good.

I am not sure of why others will continue to bring up our horrid pasts, but I have found that it does happen. This is a god given opportunity to acknowledge just how far I have come with gods grace.

I am able to say “Because of the grace of god – I don’t do those things anymore.”

Because of Gods grace and favor, I live with love in my heart and kindness in my soul. With Gods grace I choose today NOT to use drugs. I get to choose clarity and being present. Because of the grace of God I am sober and I feel the pains and the joys in life.

God has given me the strength to walk through that hell on earth of active addiction and the courage to move forward and create a whole new life for myself. God has given me the strength to take the sting of others words – take the hit- and then pick my head back up and say I am an example of gods work.

The light within 8/7

I remember active addiction as such a dark place for me. The running from place to place to get what my body and crazy mind were demanding. Having a drug and a drink run my life and make all of the decisions for me. I put value on something that was destroying me and the lives around me.

The self centered state of fear that I was constantly living in was one of the darkest places that I can ever remember. When I talk of a dark place I was not in a dark room, or it was not constantly dark outside. It was the absence of light from my spirit, or the dimmed light within in which I FELT the darkness.

When I see children I see so much of the light within them. They have not encountered many of the things yet that make them want to cover up who they truly are. It is only after a certain amount of time living on this earth that the rules and regulations tell them they should be different than they are that their light starts to dim. It reminds me of breaking the spirit of a horse. It’s sad.

For myself, my light dimmed and almost disappeared. However, because I was given the gift of being an addict which forces me to connect to a higher power to live, I was able to rediscover my light.

I have been able to slowly uncover the things that dimmed my spirit and navigate myself away from those things. Those things are usually my own thoughts that something or someone needs to be different.

When I navigate away from something I am actually choosing to go towards something else, something that serves my soul. Things that I gravitate towards are music, a happy thought about my son, anything that makes me laugh, a beautiful spot in nature, popcorn and my couch.

Today I know the things that ignite that light within and I choose to be close to those things as much as possible. Especially when it comes to my own thoughts. Gods grace is a constant thought that lights me up within. All I have to do is think about it and I feel better.

7 minutes with God 8/6

Yesterday I took the two boys I care for, George 5yrs and Clayton 3yrs to play laser tag. George tends to be a bit on the anxious side which comes out in fear and unkindness sometimes, especially to his younger brother. His younger brother does not seem to mind at all because he just adores George.

The kids went into play and I stayed behind with the laser tag attendant. A 17 year old beautiful soul named Max. This boy was very quirky, had lots of nervous energy and even started a conversation with me about the bug bites he had on his arm. He wanted me to know why he was scratching his arm so much.

Max was pacing in front of the lab top that was controlling the game and he was constantly checking and making sure everything was working properly. Max turned to me introduced himself and then he said “I just want to make sure everyone is having a good time.” I told him my name and then we started to chat.

Max told me that he was grateful for his job and his main focus was to make others happy when they came to his game. He had run other games at this place but he had been at the laser tag for 3 months and he really loved it. He told me he was to be a senior at Scituate High School, but school was just there. He said he never talked to people at school that the environment just forced him to have his head in a computer all day.

Max went on to tell me that his work environment made it easier for him to talk to and connect with others. He told me again he was grateful for his job and also for his family and they were taking their annual vacation to Cape Cod next week. He said “I realized not everyone is lucky enough to have what I have and that’s what I try to stay grateful for.”

I asked Max how did you get to be so grateful and appreciative at such a young age? I wondered if he could help me show George to be the same. Max said he learned the hard way. He said that once he realized that what he did or said could actually hurt another human being he said that is what changed him. He told me his mom was strict with him but in a good way. He told me not to be afraid to be strict with George, but to balance it with love.

SO simple! SO powerful! Such beauty in this teenager. He was unbelievably kind. He only wanted people to have a good time and he learned to be grateful because the thought of harming another human was to painful for him.

This encounter was 7 minutes with God for me. I wanna be just like Max.

Lonely vs Alone 8/5

The letters H.A.L.T are an acronym that I was taught in early recovery to check in on my personal well being. It was sort of a spot check – if I was not feeling right I was to HALT and see if I was Hungry Angry Lonely or Tired.

After years of not knowing what my own body was telling me because I had numbed it with drugs and alcohol; this word became a very useful tool to identify how I was feeling. Hungry and tired were pretty easy to fix. There were easy actions for the cure. Eat and sleep.

Angry and Lonely were a bit tougher to conquer. I was angry a lot but had no idea why. During my first few years of recovery I really only knew how to blame others for my anger. I thought my anger was everyone else’s fault. I had no idea that the blame game gave me little to no freedom from the actual anger and fear that was at my core.

I also had to learn about the feeling of loneliness. This was the hardest emotion to face and admit that I even felt. I was horribly independent so to admit that I was feeling lonely was shameful for me. Once my best friends hard liquor and pills left me I had nothing to fill up the void that was there. I was also taught I had to give up all of the people that I had associated with when I was using if I wanted a chance at staying clean. A double whammy – no “so called friends” and no booze or pills to help pass the time.

Anyone who has experienced this period in early recovery and has made it through without picking up a substance, to me is an extraordinary soul. It means that we were willing to feel the hell of loneliness, knew that a temporary fix would have been a substance, but wanted to stay clean more than a quick fix. We were in it for the long haul.

Today, I rarely if ever feel lonely. When I am alone I am not lonely, I am typically very grateful to be alone. I was able to fill the void of the loneliness with my own spirit.

I was able to uncover my spirit and light that had been blocked and dimmed by drugs. Once the spark of my spirit was able to be fed with love and god my whole being was full and the loneliness dissipated.

A changed Mind 8/4

I am always looking for new ways of thinking that are soothing. As a person in recovery I am constantly seeking relief. I like to feel good and what I am currently thinking tends to dictate the emotions that I am feeling.

So, if I can master my mind and I can then in turn think thoughts that make me feel good. First step for me is awareness. What the hell is this crazy mind thinking and is it something that I want to continue to think?

So it goes : THOUGHT…EMOTION…BELIEF. If I do not like the emotion then can I change the thought before it becomes a belief? And if so how?

I had to learn that I do not need to believe everything that I think. I get to “change my mind.” In early recovery before I could listen to my own inner guidance, I had to rely on the others in recovery to show me the way. There were women and men in recovery who spoke about changing the way they thought about themselves and others.

The idea that if a certain topic always upsets me but there is a better way to think about it that will allow me to feel better than that is pure freedom. Freedom from having angst and irritation. If the problems arise in my mind than the solution has to be implemented there as well.

The answers of “how” or “what” to think differently come from my higher power. A higher energy that knows better than my fearful mind. I have to allow time for the answer. I have to ask and then be patient to receive the solution. Then when it comes, my mind, body and soul are all in harmony.

This idea allows me to drop the notion that I know what is right and what is wrong for anybody except for myself. This helps me appreciate the diversity in the individuals that I encounter. I start thinking more along spiritual lines and less in a controlled frightful state.

Freedom = the knowledge that there is always a better way to think about something that does might not feel right at the time. If I give it time.

Helping others 8/3

It is said in recovery “to keep what we have we must give it away.” This was a bit confusing in the early years. Coming into recovery feeling worthless and like a horrible person, how was I to help anybody? Well I learned and I keep learning the many ways there are that I am able to help another.

I was able to learn due to the selfless individuals who went before me and showed me with their actions. I saw men and women showing up to meetings regularly. Whether or not they shared a message, they were familiar faces that were in a seat looking to hear a message of recovery. I saw people setting up the rooms and halls before a meeting and breaking them down after the meeting. I saw others giving each other rides to meetings and going out for coffee to chat. They were all giving of one of the most precious things…their time.

I saw people welcoming me with a smile and then eventually learning my name. People congratulated me or said good job when I was 60 days, 90 days clean. I was given hugs regularly, and not just by frisky old timers. I was given hugs by men and women who were happy for me and who listened with kind eyes to what ever crisis I was going through at the moment.

I learned from the others how to help another. I learned from putting those things in action by getting involved myself. I then started giving people rides, listening to people who were struggling, smiling at newcomers learning some ones name – I learned when I participated in those things that my soul seemed at peace.

As an addict I am constantly looking for relief from my egoic self. When I am thinking of self, plotting and planning for my self..I am selfish and self centered. When I am working with others and giving to others without wanting anything in return I am god centered and out of self. It is a form of relief that no drink or drug can provide.

In the eleventh step prayer is says “For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.” This demonstrates the need to drop the ego and the “I got this” mentality to a “we got this” way of existing.

It is one of the most miraculous things to witness. People who were constantly isolating themselves, afraid to talk to others, had no need for others except to steal from or lie to. Then a transformation happens. The beat up and broken become the courageous and the strong, they reach their hand out and do what they can to show another soul that miracles can happen.

The chosen ones 8/2

Call it a flaw or call it what you will but I have always needed to know the why behind things. It used to be about others and why people acted in certain ways, that still fascinates me. However, when faced with the why of my addiction….I had to turn to a place that I never thought would be the answer.

It hit me in the rehab when I read a reading one morning and it said “Hi my name is Clark and I have a disease that has a spiritual solution.” I knew in every fiber of my being at that moment that this was about god. But the question of why still remained.

I needed to know why a higher power is involved in the disease of addiction. Why do I have this disease and so many others do not? Why am I to change my whole life and have my life revolve around meetings and other addicts?

One day I came across a piece of literature that made my entire soul sing. I resonated with it and it gave me answers and the freedom I was looking for. This piece of literature stated:

“God in his wisdom, selected this group of men and women to be the purveyors of his goodness. In selecting them, through whom to bring about this phenomenon, he went not to the proud, the mighty, the famous, or the brilliant; he went to the humble, the sick, the unfortunate. He went to the drunkard, the so called weakling of this world.”

The phenomenon is one addict helping to heal another. The phenomenon is the powerful disease of the mind, body and soul that can only be arrested with the help of a higher power. To me this means that the suffering that I encountered during active addiction and in recovery, serves a purpose.

The purpose was to find my understanding of god, maintain that relationship and help another who suffers to do the same. Each one teach one. Its healing and it’s magical.

I always say that if I had to choose what disease I would want, this would be the one. It’s not easy but the medicine is incredible.

The dark night of the soul 8/1

The dark night of the soul to me was something that I had experienced but I did not know that it had a name until later.

I was in my first year of recovery and I was doing all things suggested that promised me a day of sobriety. I was going to meetings, I had a sponsor, I was helping others if and when I could and I was asking a higher power for help in the morning and thanking it at night for another day clean. I was doing it all.

But then, out of nowhere comes this feeling – it was awful. It was like a dark entity literally came and took over my body. And when I say it came out of nowhere it did. I could be making my bed, preparing my sons dinner, watching tv, just doing normal everyday tasks and then boom…it starts creeping in.

The only way for me to accurately describe it is uncomfortable to a degree that I had never known. I could NOT stand my own skin and I needed to get out. I would pace my house, try to read something, try to listen to music, smoke lots of cigarettes, sketch something, I would try anything to get rid of this feeling.

It says in recovery literature, that there will come a day while sober that nothing of this earth will be able to help me; people I call will not be picking up the phone. It states that I will have to turn to something greater than myself and rely on it to pull me through.

I had this moment in early recovery when that dark night of the soul took over and I had no where to turn except to god. I was alone and I was curled up in a ball on my bathroom floor crying and wondering why. Why was this happening to me???Why?? Why this pain that I can’t even describe? I was doing everything right wasn’t I?? I was trying so hard to be good!!

My spirit whispered to me, stop trying to be good and know that you are good.

It’s not about the drug 7/31

When I started to wake up a bit in rehab and in recovery meetings, I constantly heard that my problem was not about any specific type of drug I was taking. It was not about the alcohol, the opiates, the benzo’s’ or the weed. My issues were not the substances, my issues were what I was so desperately trying to cover up with the substances.

I personally came to uncover things about myself that were not pretty. I had tremendous fear regarding others and low self worth. Over time after not picking up a substance, I started to realize what stings me. I started to realize that when people did not “approve” of me or like me that I could easily crumble. I did not know how to be my own person and stand on my own, regardless of what anyone else thought of me.

I had the disease to please.

I loved positive attention! And I recoiled at any harmful thoughts or words against me. I let others build me up and take me down. There is no personal power in that and that is not where my spirit resides. That is where my image and ego live.

The booze and the drugs helped me cover all of this up. I had never realized any of it until I was substance free and those feelings took over. When I was brand new in recovery it was like the band aid was freshly taken off and I was just one big open wound that everyone was throwing salt on.

Ouch everything stung! But then as time went on, and I started to listen to others and was able understand that those uncomfortable feelings were the WHY behind my addiction, then I was ready for the solution.

The solution was more learning, more awareness and developing a trust in my higher power that I could handle these truths about myself and would be able to change them someday. Trust that I will get to the other side of these feelings and issues and be able to walk comfortably in my own skin, a free person. That is the beauty of recovery for me.

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