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
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
Here are 12 wonderful reasons to celebrate recovery. A friend of mine wrote this and I love the lessons she’s learned in her journey. A few of my favorites are:
#1: Working the steps is work and it’s hard. I see a lot of guys in my group who come to the meetings week in and week out complaining about how horrible their lives are but their study book is blank and they don’t have a sponsor. I used to try to suggest these things but just like the AA book says, it creates resentment. So I let it go and pray they finally see the light. Working the steps = work. But it’s totally worth it!!
#5: Worry does not change our outcome. Totally true. And I’m still guilty of this. I struggle with anxiety, guilt, and shame. That leads to a lot of worry. But I’m working on it. And letting God be the one to worry sounds like a great plan to me. One more arrow to stick in my quiver!
#9: Feelings are hard and that’s okay. Yep.
And last but not least, #10: You are exactly where God wants you to be. So true! This is all about patience, trust, humility, faith, love, kindness (towards yourself). Did I mention patience? 🙂
Great article! Hope you enjoy it.
I didn’t know anything about 12 step programs before 2015. Maybe a few jokes here and there. Maybe how it was depicted on a sitcom. I was a Seinfeld fan and there was an episode about Step 9. And how George was looking for an apology from someone who was in AA. So my concept […]
I’ve always wondered what would happen and what I would do if I ever relapsed. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) I can now answer that question. When I first went through the 12 steps almost 2 years ago I had such a miraculous spiritual transformation I was convinced I would never struggle again. And then I quickly realized that struggle was part of the human experience but as long as I stayed true to the maintenance steps I would struggle but with the help of God, not fall. I read that half of addicts struggle to gain full sobriety off and on for a number of years before finally finding recovery and staying recovered the rest of their lives. I was so thankful that wasn’t going to be me, or so I thought. Continue reading
The last couple of months have been filled with some interesting, difficult, life-altering, wonderful, sad, and joyous moments. In other words, everything is normal. The kind of normal where I continuously find myself struggling to do my best and trust God to help me handle the things I can’t (which is a lot). I still feel guilty asking for God’s help sometimes, but thankfully I have a wonderful wife, insightful children, and great friends to help me along the way.
There are three experiences I’d like to share with you that I hope help you on your own journey: a quote, a scriptural insight from a friend, and a loving conversation with my wife.
I read this quote in my church magazine, “The Savior doesn’t want us to try harder; He wants us to turn to Him sooner.” (An article on spouse recovery when the other spouse is addicted to pornography). We have quoted it often in my Addiction Recovery Program (ARP) meetings. It has been an intense source of relief when I feel guilty for not being stronger, or for struggling with emotional triggers, or not praying hard enough, or not helping others more, or, or, or … Then in a moment when my mind can be quiet I’ll remember God doesn’t want me to try harder, He wants me to turn to Him sooner. Then I feel peace and relief.
One of my favorite scriptures is Ether 12:27:
“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”
What’s so fascinating is how I continue to learn new things from and about this single verse over the years. For a long time I interpreted it to mean if I had enough faith and worked hard enough “I” would be able to turn one of my weaknesses into a strength. Then I learned that God gave us our weaknesses not so we’d work on them harder, but so we would go to Him for help. That wasn’t a sign of weakness for going to Him, it was exactly what I was supposed to do.
Then just last week I was at lunch with a friend and he said, “Did you know that Ether 12:27 says God gave us “weakness” but everyone thinks it says “weaknesses”? I stared at him for a second realizing that I did in fact always think it had said weaknesses and then I immediately realized the power of what I just learned. God gave us “weakness” not as a set of various weaknesses but rather as a singular characteristic of being mortal. That’s not something that we’ll overcome on our own or one day will be gone. It will always be there and we only rise above it by realizing we “don’t have it” and by asking God to help us. Easy to talk about, harder to do. But it was helpful to learn that and to keep it in mind.
For whatever reason I got hit with a huge bout of anxiety before our trip. It rattled me and left me feeling raw and exposed. Add to that the excitement and wonder of being on a new adventure which ended up creating feelings of uneasiness followed by feeling triggered. It really started to get to me and finally I opened up to my wife. I was worried how she would take it but it was completely the opposite. She helped me see how I was being way too hard on myself. That at the end of the day I’m human and can only do my best and that was what I was doing. Just being able to open up to her and have her help me see myself in a better light was a treasure. I am so grateful to have an understanding and thoughtful wife. I couldn’t be half the person I am without her support.
Life is great, life is hard, and it’s all going to be okay. I hope you’re not too hard on yourself. I hope you have friends and family who support you. I hope you have a budding relationship with God. If not, then try hanging out after one of your 12 step meetings. Find a friend or two or three. Don’t worry, even if you feel uncomfortable at first it will become something worthwhile in due time.
My name is Mike