There are times I’ll go to a 12 step group meeting, take a call from someone in need, or lunch with a friend and we’ll often talk about what changes we’ve been going through lately. Are they good? Are they just another struggle? Why is change so hard? When will the change I want come to pass? These are all great questions. When we dig into the question there are all kinds of topics related to what the person is going through and that includes what I’m going through as well — I struggle with change along with everyone else. Where we land at the end of the conversation tends to be the same though. Change is normal. Change is healthy. Change can be hard, but we don’t have to do it alone. God, family, and friends are there to help us through the change. If we’ll just look back in time we’ll see all kinds of changes that have happened. And those things are all “good”. So yes, change is meant to be good.
In the past year or so I’ve really struggled at work. My boss and I just never could see eye to eye. I could tell he was running out of patience and prepared to make a big move if things didn’t change. I wanted to stay, I wanted to be successful, but I also knew that whatever was going to happen next would be in God’s hands, not mine. Fortunately, I’ve been in this place several times before. Previous times had to do with company closures and felt less personal than this latest struggle, but in each case I felt the same thing — God was with me, He had a plan for me, and all I had to do was trust Him, be patient, and the right opportunity would come along and lift me up from where I was. In the beginning it was hard to trust and hard to be patient. Over the years and many experiences I’ve found the trust is there completely but I still struggle with the patience part. Fortunately, time marches on and eventually what was already planned out, comes to pass. All I had to do was exercise faith, continue my prayers and service, and stay close to my God, my family, and my friends.
The outcome this time was no different than the times before — the Lord blessed me in ways I hadn’t even imagined! The results were better than I could have thought! I love my new situation and I’m grateful that I’m here today. It was hard but it was so worth it.
Why am I writing this and what does it have to do with addiction recovery? That actually is the point I’d like to make and will write up in my next post. It had nothing to do with addiction because over many years of constantly working to turn my life over to God and let Him heal me, He has done exactly that. He has healed me. I didn’t think about my addiction. I focused on serving and loving God. I prayed my heart out, I had fear, I had anger, I had frustration, impatience, and any other emotions. But I was able to process them using the tools and family and friends that my counselor and my 12 step group had been teaching me for years. It worked and I loved that it worked. I love it even now!
Healing is for everyone who is willing to turn their life over to God. It works and it’s wonderful.
My name is Mike
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.
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!”
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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