The freedom of Step 5: Just do it already!!

The other night I had the wonderful experience of helping one of our group members do his 5th Step.  Step 5 is where you share the contents of your “Fearless written moral inventory” from Step 4.  Step 4 is daunting and isn’t called “Fearless” for nothing.  But it can be done and has been done by millions of people.  I’ve done it.  It was hard but totally worth it.  Then comes Step 5 where you share that inventory with another addict who has done their 12 steps and will understand.  I was super nervous to do my own and I was also nervous to do my first with another sponsee a number of years ago.  But since then I’ve grown to absolutely love doing them!!  They truly highlight God’s power to transform people — sometimes in an instant.  It is a real life miracle right before your eyes.

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It’s the little things

Last night was a great lesson in doing the steps even when they seem small and not important.  It was 15 minutes before bedtime and I was kind of feeling a little bit off.  Some of the mini-cravings were in the back of my head and it was like they were saying, “Just look up one photo that’s totally safe.  There’s nothing wrong with that.”  Except I knew that was a big fat lie!  The next thought was, “I should probably do a 10th step real quick.”  Followed by, “Nah, I’m headed to bed right now.  The night is almost up and I can muscle through this.”  Then something else clicked in my head and said, “Uh, how many times have you been down this road and you know you HATE the destination!”

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Relapse: Loss of sobriety or lesson to learn?

Wow, I picked the photo and wrote the title months ago but never wrote my article.  I think I was still reeling from the shock of going through a relapse after almost two years of sobriety.  So much shame, anger, and frustration I didn’t know how to handle the emotional barrage at the time.  The first thing I will tell you is that you can live through it even if it feels like you can’t.  It is not the end of the world.  It’s definitely not desirable, but it’s far from over.  Here are a few things that I’ve learned from my experience.

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Thoughts on Step 1 from the 12 Steps of AA or ARP

One of my last posts was on the power of the 10th step.  It’s still one of my favorites and I use it all of the time.  But all of the steps are powerful and they have deep meaning for me.  Overcoming an addiction is a literal battle.  But not one fought person to person.  Rather it’s one you fight within yourself and with the help of caring friends and ultimately a loving God — or a higher power according to your own understanding.  I’m going to write about each of the steps and thought I’d go back to the beginning and start at one.  Which was the beginning of my journey to true sobriety as well. Continue reading

The power of a 10th step – my favorite step!

I’ve wanted to start a series on what each step from the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous mean to me.  Believe me when I say they mean the world to me!  I can’t imagine my life without them.  Just last night at our support group gathering after our ARP (Addiction Recovery Program) meeting I mentioned, “I wouldn’t trade my addiction and the things I’ve learned through recovery for anything — especially the relationship I now have with God.”  I got several head nods and smiles of agreement from the rest of the group.  Those of us that have worked the steps and continue to work the steps know how wonderful and valuable the steps are — especially when we’re helping others with their own steps.  I’d like to share what the 10th step means to me. Continue reading

The power of serving others

There is a power that comes to me whenever I am in the service of others with no thought to my own self and whether or not I am “getting something” out of the experience.  It is the purest kind of love.  It is what lifts others as well as ourselves at the same time.  Service unlocks in me the ability to let go of the darkness and pain of my own struggles for a brief period of time.  Service helps us look outward instead of inward.  Unfortunately, even trying to do something noble like serving others I can over do things — I get caught up in creating complexity where simplicity would suffice.  I start out with no expectations but sometimes that changes and I lose the selflessness of the act.  Or maybe I over do the amount of service I’m trying to provide and instead of lifting me and providing peace to my life, it creates anxiety and stress (I’m convinced my therapist thinks this is some sort of strange super power that I have!).   Continue reading

Writings from my journal two years ago about my recovery

A few days ago I was writing in my journal and realized I have two pages left and need a new one.  I randomly flipped backwards to see if there was anything interesting to read from what I had written over the last two years.  A complete surprise was waiting for me when I started to read, “For whatever reason I feel very triggered.  Probably because of the emotional loss of losing my oldest child to college.  I did not go to my meeting tonight…”  After that I couldn’t put it down.  It was fascinating to read the ups and downs I was going through at the time.  I also hadn’t finished my 12 steps yet but was about to and I recorded some very private, moving experiences I had at the time.  I’d like to share them with you in hopes they may help you in some way. Continue reading

To spouses, families, and addicts: There is Hope!!

Last night I had the honor of speaking to a group of women called the Relief Society.  It is a group within the Church of Jesus Christ whose purpose is to help prepare women for the blessings of eternal life as they: Increase faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and His Atonement; Strengthen individuals, families, and homes through ordinances and covenants; and Work in unity to help those in need.  It is a group filled with charity for each other and for those in need.  Last night that charity was about helping the wives of pornography addicts and concerned parents or grandparents wanting to protect their children from the harms of pornography, or to help those who have fallen prey to its addictive powers and cannot help themselves any longer.  They sent me a list of questions to answer that were heartfelt.  I felt the heaviness of the burden of answering those sometimes wrenching questions.  I immediately turned to God in prayer to ask Him what message I should share with them the most.  There was only one answer and it stood out to me like a beacon of light:  “Tell them how much I love them!”  I was blown away by the power of that answer and I felt that power again when I shared that love with those women and their husbands (who were invited to attend as well). Continue reading

Confessions from counseling

I wanted to share with you the value I find in working with a trusted professional counselor as you overcome not only the addiction itself, but more importantly, as you work to unwind the damage done by the tornado of your life that negatively impacted those around you.  If you’re early in your recovery this may not make a lot of sense just yet, but if you can trust me enough to read on and believe that there is something of value in the experiences I’ve had walking this road for 3-1/2 years now, you may find yourself in a better starting point when you work with your own counselor someday.  And if you’re saying to yourself, “There’s no way I’ll ever talk to a counselor!”  Then allow me to begin with the day I turned to the window of my counselor’s office and literally thought to myself, “I wonder how bad it will hurt to jump through that window and run away?” Continue reading

The parable of the sowers and being “all in”

I had an interesting visit with my counselor on Monday.  Interesting usually means I learn something valuable and it’s generally not an easy lesson to learn (which no doubt is why it becomes valuable).  The lesson this time was about giving our hearts to God, nothing held back.  That’s not an easy thing for me to do.  In fact, I think I do it more “letter of the law” than “spirit of the law” and that’s kind of my problem.  But, the valuable lesson I learned is that I can see the difference now.  I know that I am not all in yet.  It means I struggle a lot on my own instead of turning to God for help.  But the good news is now that I’m aware, it means I can work towards improvement.  And it all began with a question, “Do you believe in God?” Continue reading