Every addict has one thing in common, self punishment. Until we figure out and heal from whatever it is we feel we must punish ourselves for our addiction will remain a mystery. Clearly those who punish themselves must in some subconscious way feel they can beat themselves to a point of rendering their identity clean and clear from self loathing once again.
However, that is a sick attempts at getting well. It’s an attempt which is seldom realized by the punisher. And while we are in this state we also project our punishing onto those around us, often those we love most.
In The Beginning
My answer to the question “what was I numbing when I was using drugs and alcohol addictively?”
I had to numb my fear, shame, and intense feeling of inferiority.
For me, at a young age I was taught (in so many words and lessons)
that the whole world of people were all superior to me in every way. And that everything about me was wrong both inside and out. Therefore, I had to hide my
identity so no one would see how bad and wrong I was. Of course I had no idea of this at the time.
It took years of work to understand the emotional inner workings of my subconscious.
And so with this starke, devastating truth of who and what I was (inferior) I had to shut down and transform into someone else.
I (my true heart) became a prisoner in my own
mind always living/acting as status quos dictated, trying to be someone else. I was sold a bill
of goods and commenced to live up to what I was sold.
My heart was broken because of the broken self-identity I was spoon fed. My heart was broken
because I lost myself. I shut myself down. Even the feelings, especially the feelings I needed so badly
to share, to express turned to poison inside me. My false identity of never expressing my heart,
never sharing my soul stocked up poison in my body and mind. Every tear
I didn’t cry. Every dream I didn’t share, every denial of my inner man that I shut down in shame
made me sicker and sicker…I nearly died so many times.
I was created as a beautiful child full of Love and Hope. Now I only hated myself for who I was.
This sets the stage for all the dysfunction. The sick codependent behaviors, the desperation for
Love and the idea that Love must be accompanied with abuse, neglect, criticism, and belittling was
My sick and Desperate Coping Skills
Desperate to be accepted my low self-worth expected to be disrespected and abused.
Starting the day in such an inferior place allows the world to walk all over me because in my
heart, I am always, undeniably the one who is wrong/bad.
And of course, those I was drawn to were like me, ashamed and scared. We grouped together grasping
for friendship and relationships with no ability to communicate on an honest level. How could we?
How could we be true and tell our true feelings when we were all oh so twisted with shame.
And of course, there was the typical relief of “blame” to comfort us. As we set ourselves up for
abuse, we taught others how to treat us.
God doesn’t make junk!
But deep down inside most of us hiding from sight was a precious commodity. Inside myself was
something more valuable than gold, silver, pearls or security. In me is a precious gem.
Deep inside all of us scared little children was a true heart of hearts still alive and beating
waiting to be set free. A heart that would someday become courageous enough to allow itself
to shine. We had the key to our own freedom. I had the key to unlock my heart and soul
from its bondage. I just had to be shone the way and the how to do it. And so, do you.
We experienced the depths of hell on Earth, me and my friends. And sure, we learned blame,
attack, and very sick abusive
relationships. After all-though little did I know at the time buy my father taught me what
Love was. Love was sick. Very very, sick. And Love was pain laced with passion.
My father didn’t sexually abuse me, but he made sure to teach me that I was garbage.
Time Takes Time
My father issues were the last to surface at seven years sober. Until then with selective amnesia
I swore I had a wonderful and normal childhood. It took years of meditation and therapy to
give me the courage to look at my childhood in an objective way.
The teenage years
We grew up quick in those teenage years. We used our sexuality to our advantage.
We had our own set of survival skills. We handed over our power to a lover
just so we could snatch it back and watch our controlling dance partners squirm and retaliate.
We survived any way we could emotionally. We became versed in sick emotionally by processes of
control, denial, and vanity.
I myself learned how to RUN LIKE HELL when things got sticky. Long term Love was impossible at
the time so I settled for lust, ego stroking, and found my self-esteem in a bottle and by
sensual and sexual endeavors. Instant gratification was a way of life.
Turning Into a Maneater
But the guilt piled up. Now I moved from child victim to adult predator.
I would do anything to not feel. I o-d-ed several times. I had to have a steady flow of cash and
drugs to feed my intense pain and to keep hiding away the shame of my immorality. I MUST NOT FEEL!
FEELINGS WERE MY NEMESIS. FEELINGS SCARED THE SHIT OUT OF ME. FEELINGS WERE THE ENEMY, SO I HAD
TO STOP THEM AT ANY COST.
Battered and torn was I. Who would deliver me from this body of death?
Fields of Destruction
My Beloved White Light Experience
I searched high and low for a way out till I stumbled upon a little church in the meadow
where I was given the key to Love, light and Life.
It was a miracle. I was changed and stopped using drugs and alcohol over night, for years just by
one prayer circle of 5 or 6 people praying for my deliverance in the name of Jesus with the laying on of hands. It’s a Bible thing. Jesus was the one who answered my call so Jesus become my Higher Power. I later realized I had been given a baptism called the Holy Spirit. The Love and Joy I felt
in that church is far beyond words can express. I went in as a sick loveless heroin addict and came out
a renewed spirit with a natural gift of sobriety and sanity. Much like Bill W speaks of in his own white light experience in a hospital bed.
My story is long and hard. I slipped and faltered again and again once my pink cloud finally faded years later. I
had no tools. I had no coping skills. I had more to learn about recovery and emotions. The guilt when I relapsed was profound because now
I knew I was turning my back on my higher power. Somehow I had expected to repay God the gift He had bestowed on me by my behavior and obedience. I had rooted my spirituality in a human and carnal concept of “strings attached”. It didn’t mesh. God showed me His Grace was sufficient for me when he once again pulled me out of my deep dark ten year relapse.
Once again I had been way too hard on myself. What I had expected from me was perfection and to do for God rather than relying on God. I expected myself to maintain my sobriety after God had delivered me. I was incapable of doing something
I had never been taught or shown how to do…to stay sober and learn what to do with my fear and
Long story short…I ended up a broken born-again crack head locked up for 60 days in jail so
my life could once again be saved by Grace. I went to rehab. Did a year of group trauma and recovery therapy. I learned coping skills in AA.
We get back up after falling down
I buried myself in the program and steps. Became a AA Big Book thumper. I did
years of service work. I learned every coping skill known to man. I processed every core issue
from my neglectful and abusive childhood. I because courageous as I began to show people
my true heart.
I gained strength and I gain knowledge. I learned how to communicate on an honest level. It was
scary as hell!
“Walk through the fear” I told myself. “Walk through the fear”. We are as sick as our secrets
and I let every shame driven secret out of my heart. I made a God box and wrote down my fears
whenever they cropped up. I did the steps over and over. My fifth step was full and 50 pages.
The “I” turns into a “We”. It’s a “we” program.
I had sponsors and a support group. We learned how to express our deepest pains in a healthy and
freeing way by everything from writing, to sharing, to beating a punching bag, burning the pages
of our many fifth steps. I learned to trust. I learned to respect myself and to command, by my
actions, respect from others.
I learned to meditate and pray. How to use the cell phone to talk through with my sisters the
many emotional triggers that a relationship brought. Me and my recovery sisters did the forbidden,
we got into relaitonships in our first year…but they workded. And they are still working 12 years
later. Why? We learned to communicate and not speak out of anger but to call each other
and to take every little emotional event into our support group. We learned to live and grow
emotionally as if we were 11 years old. We became teachable as little children.
Relationships before the first year
Yes our therapist told us…”No one I have had in my group therapy who got in early relationships
have stayed sober.” But we had something they didn’t, we had each other. We literally lived
parallel lives the three of us women.
All this had to be orchastrated by God. Prayer is the first step to a successful recovery.
12 years is not thirty years but it is a good bit of time. My spiritual experience changed
my heart forever. The therapy changed my heart and mind as well. And AA was the perfect platform
to grow my self worth one step 12 at a time.
I started a successful business. Bought and paid for my first brand new car. I raised my
daughter and made amends to her. I am in a long term relationship with a man I love and is
my partner. He had seven years sober when we met. Now he has around 20 years sober. I can’t
take too much credit here, we are so compatible that we have an edge.
But the first three years of relearning what a relationship is and not acting out in old behavior
literally felt like peeling off my own skin one layer at a time. They call our growth in AA
“peeling the onion” but it’s more like losing your skin.
If you have a support group you can do it. I wrote book when I was in my more religious phase
of development: http://www.recoveryfarmhouse.net/bible/paradise-for-the-hellbound/
The precepts of the book are still true today although my views and ideas about the Bible have
changed. My faith however will not change because in that church I was shown that God Is. And
that God Is Love and Loves me. The rest is semantics.
A purpose at all times
I have found that having a purpose and goals are vital in life. Set goals. Have purpose.
The end product of the goal isn’t nearly as important as just having one in sight.
Emotional outlets are vival. We must have at least one person we can tell anything.
The 12 steps need to be worked at a core level not leaving out fear and shame.
I love my self and my life. I want to live. I had to relearn how to eat. There are many, many
poison foods on the shelf of the store, if it were not so I would not tell you it. Every man
should research food in depth.
We should learn to recognize our negative voice inside and when it flares up we don’t fight
with it but rather we ask ourselves; “what am I afraid of”?
Do I fear loss? Do I fear not getting what I want? I should be aware of my social fears. I
should be hyper aware of my fears of loss associated with my relationships. In recovery
I should know myself inside out and finally…not degrade the addict but rather accept her
as the wounded child that she was. And accept her as the angry critical, blamer that she
had become. Then she can be nursed back to health with empathy and care.
I use step eleven to give myself positive affirmations. “What have I done good today? I say
as I remind myself that I AM a good person.
I am vigilant to keep my relationship with God burning as a flame that warms my soul. Without
God none of this is possible. He is the author of all things good.
I don’t pretend to be humble by putting myself down. That would be false. I don’t lie about
my good qualities and say I have none…I have many.
I also start the day from a platform of being informed of how I was, and that I am human. I am
not perfect so I watch for mistakes.
I finally accept that God made me an imperfect vessel to carry a sacred gift of light and life
inside. I respect my vessel, but I am light and will live on.
I need not pretend to still be sick nor do I need meetings to stay sober. (please I am not dissing AA by saying this) I am free from addiction.
My task in recovery and life is to maintain emotional health. Grave emotional disorder was my malady. Therefore learning
how to maintain healthy emotions and a spiritual connection once they are achieved is what keeps me sober and in
a peaceful state of mind and body. Peace is the commodity that I so desperately needed.
Keeping the “I am sick” mentality is helpful for a time. Addicts tend to forget that they
need guidance and counsel for years before they can walk on their own. If I need a meeting for
various reasons like fellowship, to get something off my chest, and to feel a part of I will go.
But no, I don’t NEED meetings anymore to stay sober. And neither does AA teach eternal meetings
as part of its program.
CLEARLY if you don’t heal by working on core issues, well, then you will need meetings the
rest of your life. If you don’t learn to work the steps in a way that they maintain your
emotional condition then yes, you will always need meetings to stay sober.
What I am saying is today I have a choice. I am not powerless. I have recovered because now
I HAVE NO REASON TO DRINK. If someone dies or I have an emotional time I will use meetings to
get through it.
And please…the program is free. We don’t owe AA our service forever either. Don’t fall for
the guilt status quo. By the same token if you don’t do years of step 12 in jails, institutions
detox and rehabs telling your story you WILL NOT GAIN THE SELF CONFIDENCE THAT YOU NEED. Unless y
you get it some other way in a similar form
Also telling your story in a heartfelt and honest way will help you process the core pain and
trauma of your addicted life. It will help you realize how far you have come.
Be sure to take step nine seriously. Step eleven is forever. Never stop step eleven.
Never stop step 10 but don’t use it to condemn yourself. You don’t have the right to condemn
The secret to freedom and the maintaining of emotional health is wrapped up in the statement
as you share it aloud. “What happened and how it made me feel.”
The is a magic that follows sharing our most intense feelings in a healthy and loving way with an empathic listener.
Life is full of “what happened and how it made me feel”. If you’re a woman or a man learn to define
your feelings so you can express them intelligibly.
Words like “weird” and “uncomfortable” are
veg. The more accurately we can express our feelings the more relief we will get when we
share them with a good listener who shows they relate to us.
Be a good listener as well. Mirror, validate, and show care when a man shares his deepest inner 5th step feelings and secrets. Never even tell somehow how they should feel. Nor should we tell our own heart by our intellect how it should feel.
Always let people have their time to speak, then show them you have heard them and understand.
Say what you mean and mean what you say.
What does recovery really look like?
Accepting our emotions as God given is part of self-Love. Emotions are not character defects.
However, character defects are an attempt to box up or relieve our emotional condition when we
are uncomfortable or afraid.
Learn to do the fourth step fear list and then ask God to remove the fears.
Journal, journal, journal, and journal.
12 step work will not heal you. It takes deeper emotional work. Addicts need empathic therapy.
If your therapist is not showing you how to release emotions well, put it this way, intellect
is the enemy of emotional health. Our hearts do not have to make sense or be logical they
just need to be expressed and heard, loved and accepted, validated and comforted, relating is
the key to healing.
Intellect is why we shut down our emotions.
Save our ass or save our face?
Don’t be afraid to say you’re afraid. Fear is a natural reaction. Every feeling is valid and comes
from a place of truth. Embrace the storm of emotions. The longer we push our emotions away
the longer they will gnaw at us. Speak your heart grasshopped. Speak your heart and the
Truth Will Set you free.