Strength Offices 251
The oddest thing:
I felt a hint of depression yesterday. It always takes a few hours for me to recognize because it is so rare these days.
It was back today so I quickly searched myself to see what I was angry about.
And much to my surprise I was angry at myself for leaving no “outs” to recovery: Caffeinated foods, meat, dairy, teas, coffee, cigars...nothing
I am very clear about the neuro-chemical predisposition or genetics of addiction.
I am sure about the tremendous increase in the probability of addiction in people who were abused as children.
It is obvious to me that you can become an addict without either of these by just doing something self-destructive long enough.
But I was angry, or actually not willing to be angry, and therefore feeling depressed, about simply not being able to do something that was really fun...nothing more.
Now that I am clear about what’s going on...I am perfectly happy being angry with myself.
Strength Offices 252
“I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.”
I accept the way I have chosen to live this life.
I am humbly grateful for the opportunity to be abstinent and pray throughout the day with my friends, to be of service to the willing, and to be able to know peace through accessing my soul.
Strength Offices 253
I cannot change that I am “bodily and mentally different from my fellows” as the Big Book states.
I cannot change that I become addicted to certain activities and substances that other men can do or take with impunity.
What I can change is my attitude, for my own mental health, to being positive and grateful that I have spiritual tools to nurture myself and protect myself from the disease of addiction.
Strength Offices 254
It is pleasant not to be torn to pieces about sexual feelings any more.
That desperate need to be satisfied has been replaced with a desire to be useful to others.
That desperate need to be loved is replaced with the love of my friends at prayer.
It is pleasant to walk down the street and have beautiful women walk by and stay contained within myself, peacefully contentedly.
Strength Offices 255
Often times I will feel the Spirit of God moving through the group when we pray/read together.
When we are all experiencing some Truth together.
You can hear it, not so much in the comments, but the pauses in the readers as they have an “Aha!” experience within their own hearts and souls.
I hear them having it, and then I have it, too, and you can hear it spread through the group conscience instantly.
The first time I really noticed that phenomenon was in a really terrible musical group, The Grateful Dead.
They were just awful players, singers and writers.
But they had absolute faith that if they stood up there and played long enough that eventually there would be a magical, mystical moment when the music would transcend the individual players limited skills and create a perfect few seconds of aural bliss.
God shows up in community where people reach for Truth, Justice or Beauty.
Strength Offices 256
Here are six of the most radical thoughts about God written in the last 50 years:
Our Higher Power seemed to require our active participation.
Apparently God was not interested in relating to us as a parent might to some helpless child who was always getting into scrapes.
God seemed to want some kind of partnership.
Perhaps we were supposed to develop our full human capacities, instead of passively turning ourselves over to God as a wholesale protector or a punitive, omnipotent dictator.
We had progressed beyond an overseeing caretaker or parent-like God to the sense of being in conscious partnership with this Power.
This relationship appeared to be structured more along the lines of a conscious adult partnership centered on mutual sharing and cooperation.
These lines suggest that God and I are co-operative partners and that I am supposed to participate to my fullest human capacity....
Am I doing that with my recovery?
Strength Offices 257
When God lifted my “merciless obsession” I could feel an emotional shift.
I wasn’t hunched over, spiritually speaking, trying to just endure pain without acting out.
I was grateful to be free of the craving for relief from obsession for alcohol, sex or food.
But freedom from addiction is simply the Green Card to get into spiritual country and buys you enough time to start a new life.
What do I do now that I have my full faculties and am not waylaid by addictions that make my life unmanageable?
I want to spend time with my wife and 8 month old son.
I want to spend time teaching and producing to care for my family.
Personally, I am very interested in the combination of living foods and exercise in treating the aging process.
I am also interested in recapturing some of the guitar playing skills I have had to set aside, to beat these addictions.
And....I want to spend more time with my soul knowing peace.
Strength Offices 258
Wednesday May 6, 2020
“We were reborn”
Page 63 Big Book
What if addiction and it’s associated mental illness were gone?
I would start out a new life with living foods, raw organic nut butters, fresh organic fruit and distilled water as a foundation based on Hypocrites statement “Let your food be your medicine and let your medicine be your food”
I would then add ten sets of pushups, for two minutes, throughout every day so as not to die from the Millennial “digital death” of being “ever-sedentary”.
Add regular intensive cardio
Then start to build a new life...starting with deep breathing sustained over time.
Then...see what God has got in store for me.
Strength Offices 259
On the lighter side:
I am sure that the first amphibian that crawled to shore 400 million years ago, after being dazed and confused about being on land, and grateful that they had not been eaten by bigger fish while zooming to get to said shore, had to then figure out his breathing.
That was clearly “First things First”
While I am not convinced of Darwin’s explanation any more than any other explanation, if I do have amphibious ancestors I can relate to their being dazed and confused... I sure was when I first got sober.
I also can relate to them being grateful for not getting eaten by a big fish. Addiction wasn’t just a fish....it was a school of Killer Whales.
And finally, as the disease leaves my body I can sense that most of the “thoughting” that went on between my ears (and of which I was firmly convinced was the “Real me” at the time) was nothing more than an endless string of word-exuberant obsessions.
Knowing that, my mind is better spent concentrating on my breathing now, just like the first amphibians...once they had decided to stay on land.
Strength Offices 260
I have found that there is a 400% greater chance of being a sex addict if I was abused as a child.
I have found that 96% of sex addicts were emotionally abused through shame, blame or control.
While the Big Book clearly states that addiction is selfish, and I agree with that, the originative causes of childhood abuse lead me to have a compassionate, merciful view on myself.
There is more good news, if I am able to begin to view myself with compassion and mercy, I am very likely to begin to treat other people that way.
And that makes my whole life a lot more comfortable and considerably sweeter spiritually.
Strength Offices 261
My wife and I just completed a 60 day celibacy period abut 6 weeks ago.
I am considering requesting another one.
There is something very spiritually invigorating about chastity.
It as though, even attitudinally, the spigot is closed and the faucet stops pouring water out onto the ground.
During this pandemic, people’s stress levels go up and their emotional resilience goes down, but chosen “finite chastity” is the very best tool for fortifying social resilience that I am aware of.
I’ll ask the boss...
Strength Offices 262
Would I demand or even expect my new 8 month old son to one day achieve moral greatness like Martin Luther King, or service greatness like Gandhi, the musical genius of Hendrix, the acting greatness of Anthony Hopkins or the literary talent of Dickens?
No, I would love him, for him, if he lived quietly, unnoticed by any but the few who loved him. The same way I do my 34 year old daughter.
Then...why would I not do that for myself?
The hardest part of the Golden Rule for addicts is the last two words...”As thyself”
But that is what we are, equally, called to do...To love our neighbors...as ourselves.
Greatness is not required for being loved.
Strength Offices 263
I have two very different choices as an addict.
I can “get outside myself” by serving others.
Or I can get outside myself by using addictions.
Gandhi and the Big Book both state that I can find myself by giving my life to others, not in a codependent way, but in “selfless service” way.
That sounds like a better deal, to me.
Strength Office 264
On faith in myself:
While it is true that I must put my faith in God, through recovery, before anything else, there are two quotes in DOH, DOJ which say: “Security based on our own belief in ourselves, in our ability not only to cope and survive, but to celebrate life is the only security that lasts. As hard as it may be for adult children to learn they can trust themselves, it still is the only lasting security.”
Today, something went wrong financially and I, quite naturally, felt hurt and then fear of my need for financial security not being met.
But I decided to have faith.
Not simply that things will work out, or faith that God is in charge, both of which I believe, but also chose to believe something I believed before I started drinking at 15 years old...
I chose to trust myself...
Strength Office 265
On a lighter note:
When the first Amphibian hit the shore 400 year million years ago do you think he had any second thoughts like: “You know, I know that we former fishes are going to lead the way to becoming four-legged animals, stand up on our back legs, become humans and eventually build Chevrolets, but at the moment I kind of miss that slimy, warm pool of water I just crawled out of...and I’m thinking about going back”.
That’s what recovery can feel like sometimes...
Strength Office 266
When I don’t think I have the strength to go on I HALT and don’t get to Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired
For me, sometimes good mental health means simply to stop and read a book.
There is something really spiritually valuable in reading good books.
My mind, which during my addiction was usually a self-pitying, grief-filled, undisciplined negative place...gets filled with something positive.
My 58 monk friends in the monastery in Atlanta, Georgia would spend several hours a day in “Lectio Divina” which just means reading about God, as we do in PrayerCall...and then meditating on it during the day.
For 25 years I only read seven books, over and over...the materials that make up our reading in PrayerCall.
Now, being reasonable comfortable in my AA and SAA sobriety, I read Classics.
It’s mental pushups...that’s all
Strength Office 267
On a lighter note:
When our first gooey ancestor, the Tetrapod, crawled up on the beaches 400,000 millennia ago, long before Netflix and Amazon, he was alone...the only Pod in the world on the shore at that time.
I am sure Pod thought to himself “I am feeling lonely, I need a community...I’ll start a 12 step meeting.”
So, onto shore came all the other Pods.
These guys were, truly, as the Big Book says “Spearhead’s of God’s ever advancing creation”.
But like Gandhi says “A votary of Truth is often obliged to grope in the dark”
These guys had no clue what they were doing...
So anytime you feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of work that is required to get full recovery...remember our great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather...Pod
Strength Office 268
It’s nice to watch a movie with my wife, see a beautiful, sensual young female actor enter and just silently say “Sister, may no harm come to you from me”, and not miss a beat of the movie due to lust.
Thank you God for the simple things.
Strength Office 269
Kathryn Hepburn used to say ”I am a standard brand, like Campbell’s Soup”
I remember a guitar student saying to a singer “Be normal, be average, be ordinary”.
Humility is knowing that I am just like everyone else:
I need to be safe emotionally and financially.
I need to feel loved, accepted and that I belong.
I need for my community, whatever it may be, to hold me in high-esteem
I need to have spiritual meaning in my life.
I need to be creative.
I need to be content.
I need to have peace of mind.
Ordinary, average normal human beings are just kinda like that.
Strength Office 270
“He leads me in paths of righteousness”
I used to like to do some things because they felt good.
But then I couldn’t stop doing them.
Then my life would start unraveling quickly: I’d have relationship problems really quickly.
Jerks and fools would instantly populate my life.
People driving too slow were stupid and people driving to fast we’re crazy.
I was in the path of wrongeousness...
It was me...living wrong
Strength Office 271
This is what I used to think like:
Oh my landlord cashed my rent check instead of letting me ride this month during Covid 19!
Apple stock went through the roof and I wasn’t in the market.
I’m not eligible for a business loan bailout.
I can’t rent my garage.
I have seen all the action movies on Amazon Prime...twice!
My tomato plant is dying and my spinach and broccoli, too.
God what should I do?
This is what I think like now:
“I have chosen to be happy because it is good for my health.”
I am sober, clean, don’t smoke and don’t use caffeine.
I don’t masturbate, I'm faithful to my wife, and I am a thin, living foodist.
I pray with my friends 6 times a day, love my wife and son, work out daily, write prayers and read books.
Thank you God for what you have given me.
Strength Office 272
Just spoke to an old sponcee from eight years ago.
As a young man he had been significantly abused sexually by another man for a long time.
He stopped drinking successfully, but the food and masturbation got him.
When I think about how hard this new life is, I can remember him.
I , too, could still be in the disease the last eight years.
It was heartbreaking...
There but for the Grace of God go I.
Strength Office 273
For Richard H.
It is common wisdom in AA to not get married, divorced, break up, or start a new relationship in the first year.
It’s advised not to move out of state, start a new job, quit a job, open or close a new business.
Nobody follows the suggestion…But it is a suggestion.
The same thing is true about not looking into other programs during the first year.
You need to make absolutely sure that you will not go back to drinking and stay sober for a year to create a good solid foundation.
After that, typically one of two things happens:
You develop the “terrible twos “, and become an AA Nazi:
That means you become absolutely rigid that everything in the world must come out of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous or the AA 12 x 12.
We old timers tolerate that, but if you’re still doing that after the third year, we take you up behind the AA clubhouse and beat some sense into you.
The other path is to begin to expand into other areas, starting roughly in the second year.
The precedent for this was set in 1951 by Bill Wilson’s wife, Lois, who started Al-anon for “friends and family members of alcoholics “where she began to explore how to improve interpersonal relationships.
These expanded interests in healthy relationships got more specific in the 1970’ and 80’s with the advent of Codependency anonymous, Sex and Love Addicts anonymous and Adult Children of Alcoholics anonymous.
Some people decide to go off into looking at their food, or their money, through Food Addicts anonymous or Underearners anonymous, respectively.
Everyone is different…
But, for the first year…we just don’t drink and go to meetings.
Strength Office 274
Sometimes I want to shriek like my 8 month old son...till I get my way.
And we wonder why the 12x12 , p.123 says we addicts are “childish”.
But I want to be strong more.
I want to have a health plan that will last me the next 30 years...and that unhealthful stuff ain’t a part of it.
Strength Office 275
Onward to another new day of “being reborn” as the Big Book says...
Of course sexual sobriety first, but then: Living foods, push-ups, cardio, surrendering thoughts and counting breaths...and seeing what God has got for us
Strength Office 276
“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination”.
We fight 21 addictions at PrayerCall.
If you can’t stop them all, that’s okay.
The good life is a direction...not a destination
Strength Office 277
Every time I would lose my sobriety it would be like a Led Zeppelin song ringing in my ear: “Bring it back, bring it back, bring it back, bring it back”.`
Strength Office 278
Angry, yet...Self-loving the God within me.
I have persevered today with the cardio, strength and flexibility exercises as well as with the food...and my wife has even complimented me admiringly.
Strength Office 278
Why would I want to act out?
Because I can’t feel my pain (my anxiety and daily hurts ) when I am “in the disease”.
What’s the down side to acting out?
I feel sick and look old...and God has restored me to vanity...so “I don’t like”.
I do not want to work out, play guitar or read books.
Any connection with the “God within” is severed.
My emotional connection with my family is at least dampened, if not dented or damaged.
And...I lose my hope. Any hope for my life...
Strength Office 279
I am grateful to be abstinent today and no urges.
The craving is gone.
The war with the obsession to do it, and the war with the obsession to not do it...are both gone.
In the AA 12x12, p.22, it says “No amount of human power could break it”.
I want to thank God for my freedom.
The horn group Chicago would say “I’m feeling stronger every day“.
Strength Office 280
It’ll be 9 months soon that our son was born.
We have, very gently, started talking about having another baby.
There are a lot of reasons to have sex, but that is the best use of sex that I am aware of.
It is kinda in the original users manual “Want children? ...have sex”.
I am grateful I can even enter into a discussion like that.
Sexual sobriety has been, after stopping drinking, the best thing I have ever had the opportunity to learn how to do...one day at a time.
Strength Office 281
Anytime I start feeling cocky about my recovery all I have to do is remember the past:
Getting drunk and driving 105 miles per hour.
Having sex with other men’s wives...in their homes.
Reaching in a punch bowl of unidentifiable pills and just swallowing a handful.
Smoking so much I would wake myself up coughing.
Carrying around an extra 60 pounds so I felt ashamed of being undressed...that’ll hamper a sex addict’s style.
Man...it is nice to just have a simple life: pray, work and be with my family.
Thank all you guys on this line...I would be a disaster area without you.
Strength Office 282
“The good life is a direction...not a destination”
I spent ten hours the last two days writing a musical arrangement for client.
Part of my goals of being recovered is to “Recapture some of the guitar skills that I set down to recover as I have been underutilized as a musician for a long time”...it was fun and profitable.
Earnest Hemingway used to say “You can tell what is moral by how you feel afterwards.”
I didn’t feel near as healthy as I did when I spent two days writing prayers.
Strength Office 283
Thank you for the incredible tolerance you have shown me as I find my way to you.
I make so many mistakes.
My son is crawling now, fast, and he banged his head on the bed today for the first time.
I kissed him many times and he was fine in a few seconds.
Seems like you have been doing that for me, for decades.
Thanks, really thanks.
Strength Office 284
I need humility and if humility is knowing your limits then let me confess some of mine:
Music does not give me what spirituality gives me.
Having sex with many of the women I have felt attracted to in the past has brought me suffering. I am a one woman man.
Not having a limit on what amount of money would make me feel financially secure has made me feel anxious all my life.
Eating whatever I wanted has left me with self-hatred, feeling sick, weak and old.
You are right and I am wrong.
Inventory, prayer and service are your paths for me.
Strength Office 285
After 15 years of being abused as a child through shame, blame and control and after 12 years of active addictions through alcohol, sex and food I am surprisingly not in a rubber room, in a straight jacket, drooling on myself from injected psyche meds.
However, more often than I would like, I feel anxious about my life.
If that goes too far it can become GAD or General Anxiety Disordered.
Help me stay in the “middle of the herd” because when I think of other men’s needs my anxiety disappears.
That tells me that much of my anxiety is, as the Big Book says” Selfishness-self-centeredness...that is the root of my problem”
Help me to ask about others, today ...so that I can be free.
Strength Office 286
I was not honest with myself in 1973.
My parents divorced and I acted like it didn’t bother me.
They were vicious people...but I didn’t want them to leave.
It’s like the old joke about two old maids crossing on an ocean liner:
One says, “The food here is so bad”.
The other, “ Yeah...and the portions are so small”.
Strength Office 287
Sometimes people ask me “How did you get your recovery?”
Was it the Big Book, the AA 12x12 , the Bible, Gandhi, Days of Healing, Days of Joy, the Courage to Heal or Hope and Recovery?
“No...it was the second oldest joke in the world.”
A guy goes into a doctor’s office, holds up his arm and says “It hurts when I do that”.
Doctor says, “Then don’t do that.”
Strength Office 288
The first love of my life I left when I was 17.
At 20 I came back for her.
She used that as leverage to manipulate her then current boyfriend to get what she wanted.
40 years later I would approach her on Facebook.
Still in love with her, she did the same thing to her then current boyfriend.
...I never let go of anything that didn’t have claw marks on it.
Strength Office 289
Guys, I just want to thank you for something:
The two best men I have ever met lived in a beautiful but swelteringly hot monastery in Atlanta, Georgia.
They prayed five times a day, every day.
They “had what I wanted”, spiritually.
But, I was raising my daughter by myself and was committed to “staying in the world” as long as she was here.
PrayerCall has provided, digitally, what those men had, spiritually, in that inferno of a monastery.
Thank you, each of you, for coming to meetings, leading meetings and reading.
Strength Office 296
For Jason and Olafur:
“But it is from our twisted relations with family, friends, and society at large that many of us have suffered the most. We have been especially stupid and stubborn about them.”
I am powerless over changing other people.
Just as powerless as I was over stopping drinking or masturbating.
There are four parts to being emotionally/mentally/spiritually healthy: Feelings, boundaries, limits and needs.
But...other people in the world may not have these qualities.
When I try to “ relate “ to someone with poor boundaries they will run over me like angry ants that have just had a rock hit their ant hill.
Now...is when my codependency kicks in:
Do I become a people pleaser or a door mat?
Do I swallow my hurt, eat my anger, and become depressed?
Do I abuse them through shame, blame or control?
Do I have drink or masturbate to run from the hurt and rage I feel?
I cannot change people with bad boundaries...I am powerless.
But God, through talking with the group, is more powerful than my boundary-less friends.
Strength Office 297
For Jason and Olafur:
And what of people I deal with who have no limits?
A boss that continually wants me to work longer than I have agreed?
A family member who continually asks me to do for them what they can do for themselves?
And what of special needs relationships with the sick, old or handicapped where I believe that it is my sole responsibility to rescue them?
If someone else has no limits, and I tacitly agreed to exceed my limits to try to meet their demands, there is only one consequence...
A blinding fury where I lash out verbally, or even physically, to express my anger.
Again, God through community, can deflate that rage and restore me to the sanity and humility of knowing my limits.
Strength Office 298
For Jason and Olafur:
Other people may not be as in touch with their feelings.
They may not be able to articulate that they feel hurt or are afraid to admit that they feel angry for fear of the retribution that followed announcing that feeling earlier in their lifetimes.
It would be codependent and simply dishonest of me to deny that I see hurt or anger when I really do.
Saying that I see someone feeling feelings, that they are not aware that they have most often frightens people.
The best thing I can do, and I don’t always do this, is to act compassionately, knowing what I see.
Just silently act...
Strength Office 299
For Jason and Olafur:
“But it is from our twisted relations with family, friends, and society at large that many of us have suffered the most. We have been especially stupid and stubborn about them.”
Can I meet the needs for safety, love and belonging, and the need to be esteemed by others, for my family, friends and society at large?
Those are reasonable needs to be requested to meet...if the other person is doing their part by taking care of themselves.
But what if they can’t or won’t take care of themselves?
Then I have to announce my limit that I cannot do for them what they can do for themselves.
Even God won’t do that...
In the Lighthearted Offices it says “Don’t try to be more generous than God”
I must be honest about my limits.
Strength Office 300
Humility is knowing your limits.
San Francisco is one of the two most expensive places to live in America.
I can covet the 50 million dollar homes...or be grateful that I can walk up and down the hills and enjoy the beautiful architecture.
I love great books, music and movies. I can be envious that I am not a monster of artistic talent...or I can appreciate the great giftedness that God has blessed other people with and enjoy the beauty.
In the famous American slavery novel “The Color Purple” the title is explained by the main character:
“When ya’ll walk by them beautiful flowers and don’t see ‘em...I think that it pisses God off that you don’t notice the color purple.”
That is a streety way of saying “Humility makes it so I can appreciate beauty”.
Strength Office 301
I really want to do something wrong.
There’s an opportunity to make some money that my family could really use.
It involves my most bitter financial opponent.
I would not take this action with my friends or anyone I loved, cared about or respected....but I’m rationalizing that it’s OK because it’s him.
But the truth is…I would be doing wrong.
That’s the great thing about inventory… I can see where I’m wrong.
Strength Office 302
Growing up with alcoholism in the family creates extreme thinking.
Both my parents were alcoholics and I remember my brother and I sitting in a lower middle class neighborhood ditch in front of our brick house, at 3 and 5 years old respectively, saying;
“Red is better than blue”
“No, blue is better than red”
“No, red is better than blue”
‘No, blue I better than red”
Makes me wonder if this is how the political parties really got started.
Strength Office 303
“He is arrogant and never at rest because He is as greedy as the grave and like death is never satisfied”
A tough old goat named Habakkuk said this.
I like it. I don’t want to be like that, but I like it.
I have decided that to stop feeling anxiety about money I am going to pick a number which is enough money to not have worry about money anymore and still work...just not to worry anymore.
Turns out I have that exact amount of money, to the dollar.
Strength Office 304
I like me best when I am laughing at my mistakes.
The angst is gone. I feel funny and light.
I am accepting myself, at it's best, when I can laugh at myself.
Strength Office 305
Woke up with a “using dream” about being with an ugly, nasty hooker.
That has never been an acting out behavior for me, personally.
When I woke up I was extremely negative, attitudinally, towards myself.
I prayed step six and seven a few times and then brought myself to the highest thought I know “Celibacy, service and laughter”.
After a while of chanting that prayer I was fine.
Strength Office 306
A man named Tom Power wrote the second step in the AA 12 x12, which contains the line: “Some will be willing to term themselves “problem drinkers” but cannot endure the suggestion that they are in fact mentally ill.”
The National Institute of Mental Health “excludes substance abuse disorders” from the category of mental health and further does not recognize sex addiction.
I am not mentally ill...I am a sex addict.
Whew! What a relief...
All that being said I am very interested in being mentally healthy.
Research says on average, people have a thought every one to two seconds (depending if the person you are talking to is interesting).
The National Science Foundation states that 80 percent of those thoughts are negative...and 95% are the same ones you had yesterday.
And these are statistics about normal people...
What I have found is that my mind is “thoughting” all day long.
What can I do about that:
I can consciously choose to think positively
I can surrender my thoughts to my Higher Power and just focus on my breathing and just not worry about it.
Or I can read a book...not a negative book mind you.
Strength Office 307
I did something foolish that hurt me last week.
So, being a faithful 12 stepper, I put myself on my eighth step list and began doing a 9th step amends by taking myself for an hour run in the moonlight by the San Francisco Bay...
Strength Office 308
What if you do slip?
What if the craving gets a hold of you, again.
There are two ways to kick: Cold turkey and to titrate.
Cold turkey stops all at once and the best suggestion there is to live in meetings until the withdrawals wear off.
Titration is a term in chemistry where you determine the concentration of a substance...and then cut down steadily, and slowly.
Eg., If I am smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, next week, 15, the following week 10...you get the picture.
But what if you relapse in multiple addictions simultaneously?
AA says “Stop what’s killing you the fastest, first”.
They don’t want you thinking about smoking, coffee or losing weight when you are trying to get sober from alcohol. That’s the easiest way to fail.
So, in a train wreck situation I pick out what is most deadly in my arsenal of self-destruction...And then decide whether to kick or titrate.
I find sex, drugs and alcohol to be best treated, cold turkey.
I find food, caffeine and tobacco to respond best to titration.
Everyone is different...
Regardless, all I have to do is be honest with myself and God will be able to reach me.
Strength Office 309
I have a new fedora, a Humphrey Bogart hat, inspired by the 1940’s movies my wife and I have been watching during the Shelter in Place.
As we went on our daily walk, two couples relaxing on a blanket in the park, at one man’s suggestion, all looked.
I felt shame.
But, I know how to take care of myself and I blew him a kiss...and all his friends turned away in embarrassment.
There was a woman when I first got clean and sober in 1988.
I met her in AA, but soon found she was in CoDependency Anonymous , Overeaters Anonymous, Debtors Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous and Incest Survivors Anonymous.
She was doing expensive, esoteric therapy (that she really couldn’t afford), posted affirmations around her home, was practicing chastity, and ran as much as ten miles per day.
She wasn’t a genius like Gandhi or Bill Wilson but she was spiritually gifted.
Meaning she could understand things that were hard for other people to understand, she didn’t pushback on solutions...and she wanted to solve every spiritual problem she saw in herself.
Seven years later, I would meet a man in SLAA who was in OA, too, but he was also a psychotherapist and a professional monk for 10 years.
He was even more gifted and eventually developed the religious gift of “The laying on of hands” where you can heal people by touching them (which I frankly didn’t believe...until years later I saw him do it in right front of me)
These two people, Phoenix and Pablo, early and later in recovery, respectively, were real inspirations to me on what was actually possible spiritually.
They both were very open minded about spiritual matters and yet very gentle in their beliefs.
There is a 1990 Robert De Niro/Robin Williams movie called “Awakenings” about a doctor who creates a treatment for catatonics, which was miraculous...and then heartbreakingly, it stopped working.
Both these two beautiful, gifted people went “back into the food” and lost every trace of spiritual giftedness God had allocated each of them.
It is a sobering story...
Strength Office 311
For Hank B.
Let’s say, just for conversation’s sake that there was a cure for addiction, and no one is saying that there is...
What would we do?
Well, I started going to AA meetings 40 years ago, next month.
Took 18 months of thinking about it before I actually joined AA on December 22, 1981.
Then it would take another 6 1/2 years of pretty much doing it my way. (You can imagine how that went).
Finally, on April 4, 1988 I joined the recovery army and went to war against disease for 32 years now.
But, what if the war is won?...I mean just for conversation’ sake?
My father was part of the Allied Occupation Army in Strasberg Germany in the early 50’s after World War II.
He was also part of the Occupation Army in Korea in the early 60’s.
When a war is won, you still have to occupy a territory...
What would that look like? Occupying the won territory?
I think AA is right. The reason we drink is because we can’t live life on life’s terms and they spell out, pretty clearly, what it means to them to live healthily:
Daily prayer and meditation
Daily rigorous service to others
Also, for me, I have to be honest. The first really spiritual thing that I ever did in my life was start running when was 9 years old....So I need regular cardio to feel in even the slightest way spiritual.
Also, the two most gifted 12 steppers I have ever known lost every trace of giftedness they ever had by “diving into the food”, (see above Strength Office).
So, for me, on top of AA’s maintenance steps there has to be a firm commitment to diet and exercise....or the disease comes screaming back at me.
Strength Office 312
The Six Commandments for Codependents:
Thou shalt not worry about thy problems all the time.
Thou shalt not hate the buffoons, jerks, narcissists and bozos that populate the world that I created.
Though shalt not fear every person thy sees so that you hide your feelings, your trust, or even refuse to talk.
Thou shalt not lie down on the floor and let thy neighbor walk over thee when thou art in conflict.
Thou shalt not agree with thy neighbor, and lie about what you believe, just to avoid conflict.
Thou shalt not try to get people to change who don’t want to change...it just makes ‘em mad.
Strength Office 313
Victor Frankel was an Austrian psychiatrist who was held captive in Auschwitz from 1942 through 1945 during World War II.
From his experience there he invented a new type of psychotherapy call “Logos therapy” or simply “Will to meaning”.
In his writings he also says that childhood abuse is worse than being in a Nazi concentration camp. Why?
Because adults know that what is being done to them is wrong…Children don’t.
Sometimes I think all addicts deserve the Purple Heart for their woundedness...just for surviving.
But the ones that look at their family of origin work and succeed…deserve something more akin to the Congressional Medal of Honor.
If Frankl is right, that is...and he was there, I was not.
Strength Office 314
My mother was a beautiful woman in her youth.
She was smart, engaging , humorous, high verbal and very creative with language.
Her mother was my favorite relative because, though diabetic, she would hide candy all over her house from her other daughter and whenever I went to visit...I found it all.
My mother’s father was a lady’s man and just this side of the law...though he did get caught a few times.
My mother’s brother was their towering hero, worked hard, drank hard, lost all his money in the stock market and stayed the rest of his life in a tall boy of scotch and Pell Mall’s lounging due to that new invention, central air conditioning, in Atlanta, GA.
My mother’s younger sister was a religious fanatic that had every square inch of her home tattooed with Christian bumper stickers and thought everyone except the Baptists, especially the Catholics, were all going to hell.
My mama used to say “Have to wait till bourbon-o’clock, before we start drinking”...that was 5:00 pm.
Her Daddy and her brother were notorious drunks.
She didn’t really like the women in her family.
She became a three time successful author and use to say “I’m better with men and murder” when referring to her writing.
My father was good looking, well-built, educated, clean and well-dressed.
He had three brothers, one was a Methodist preacher and was killed in an auto accident with his two daughters when he was 23 years old.
The other two were scared of liquor and turned to food back in the early 60’s when being overweight was a very rare thing.
My father’s mother was 200 pounds at 5'1 tall.
My father’s father died at 33 from bad moonshine.
My grandmother used to describe her young newly dead husband as “He was a sad man”.
Śtory goes that my father, attending the same University as my mother, having previously seen my mother on campus, “accidentally” came around a corner too fast, knocked her books out of her hand...and began a conversation.
They had six years together and then had me and my younger brother who she described as “My consolation prize”.
In pictures I see a young attractive, socially uncertain couple who were dabbling with alcohol pretty regularly.
Five years later things got very black when my father returned from a 13 month tour of duty in Korea.
He came home decorated as a sniper...but he came home a completely different man.
When asked what he did in Southeast Asia, to his dying day, he refused to say.
The childhood abuse both physical, sexual, and emotional began immediately.
Daddy had become a monster...
Mama, by then a lonely drunk, did not have the courage to stop the abuse, though she did threaten to shoot him on at least two occasions.
This is what Patrick Carnes, PhD, refers to as a “Neuro-chemical predisposition to addiction”.
When I hit alcohol and girls at 15 I was off to the races, and never looked back until I got to AA at 27...
Strength Office 315
I had three Catholic monk sponsors in my life.
The second one was short-lived and not very good.
But he did leave me with one real gem.
He said “Do you know why people don’t observe the virtue of obedience?”
“Hitler”, he said.
Augustine believed in two virtues above all others: humility and obedience.
Today, to the very best of my flawed abilities, I was obedient to God’s will as I understood it.
I am grateful that I have as clear an understanding of God’s will as I do, although it is far, far from perfect.
Today…I was obedient.
Strength Office 316
Why is it that food always get’s older addicts?
Think about it...
How many 60-somethings’ bodies can get away with heroin addiction?
How many people in their 70’s, still left standing, can tolerate the alcohol hangovers of their 20’s?
People still smoking in their 80’s are often carrying around a portable voice box...sounding like Peter Frampton.
But food...that’s another matter.
There something very siren song-esque about the comfort, the laziness of food.
HP, help me stay within my boundaries. Amen
Strength Office 317
“But whenever we had to choose between character and comfort, the character-building was lost in the dust of our chase after what we thought was happiness.”
To build my character I apparently have to be willing to feel uncomfortable.
I would like my character to be that I do not turn to addictive behavior when I feel tired and frustrated.
I would like my character to be that I can manage the pain I feel from within and from other people with appropriate spiritual tools.
Strength Office 318
HP, Sometimes my memory lies to me, sometime.
Not really lies, just leaves out important facts...lying by omission.
It says that coffee or a lot of food, or a cigar would be good.
But that is “euphoric recall”.
Coffee feels cool, exciting and sexy for 45 minutes and then it’s misery the rest of the day with the only way to stop it’s nutritional ravaging is by overeating.
Cigars stink to high heaven, cost $20/apiece, hurt me like little knives stabbing me in the back of my throat and give me smokers cough...besides smoking a cigar while walking with a baby in a carriage is a good way to die by drive-by shooting.
Too much food makes me feel bad and look old...and God has restored me to vanity.
Strength Office 319
The Three Traditional parts of God.
The most useful thing I have ever heard about God is on page 55 of the Big Book: ‘’We found the Great Reality deep down within us. In the last analysis it is only there that He may be found. “
I knew there was a God, but the shambles my life was in around alcohol, sex and food made it look like I was a lunatic.
I mean if I believed in God so much...why was I so sick?
God was real. I was just approaching Him wrong.
This sentence pointed the way out of my addiction and to a flexible, healthy relationship with God.
A man named Tertullian in the Third century proposed the idea of a Trinity of God.
I have a very different experience than Tertullian, but I have experienced God in three, reliable ways.
First there is the kind of Church God that many of us were introduced to as children:
Creator, all powerful, miraculous, mysterious...I happen to believe in that part of God. Why?
That is the part I asked to help me stop drinking on April 4, 1988. He did it...and that settles it for me.
The second part of God was really difficult for me to grasp because I was holding onto the first part of God for dear life...understandably,so.
There is a part of God that you can’t get to directly. He just won’t let you.
God requires your honesty to admit you can’t stop and your humility to ask for others for help.
This is “God in Community” or Higher Power”, the Christians call it Holy Spirit.
This was hard for me because I didn’t mind getting on my knees and asking God for help, but I was way too proud to admit that I really couldn’t do this and really needed you; people to love me and to help me succeed.
But that is the only way to access the second part of God.
And it worked on everything I was willing to be “honest and open” about...everything, just like the AA 12x12 says in the last paragraph of page 76.
That part of God worked for me for decades and then something began to happen.
There got to be no one left standing that I could honestly and humbly ask for help and then diligently do what ever they said.
That’s when ”We found the Great Reality deep down within us. In the last analysis it is only there that He may be found.” really kicked in...
I had been awestruck, like a child, with the majesty of Part I of God, and I had been humble, as I matured as a man, and learned to access the healing Part II of God, but now it was time to do what Augustine, Bill W. and Gandhi had done...to look inside for God.
I felt scared. I felt unready. I felt unsure. But, I knew if I didn’t go forward I could go into depression because I would then be angry with myself for not doing what I needed to do next...and that was not acceptable.
So one surrender, one prayer, one inventory, one phone call, one meeting at a time I find God within me...just like Augustine said.
Strength Office 320
The God Within Part I.
Sometimes I need to feel the God “Within me” that Augustine, Bill W. and Gandhi talk about.
A fast, sure way to do that is to intentionally raise my self-esteem.
I made a list tonight and I could feel a presence rise in me as I put “pen to paper”.
I beat alcohol and then prescription drug addiction.
Then I quit smoking
Then lost 60 pounds and kept it off for 30 years
I quit masturbating and quit cheating, too.
I quit coffee, tea, and colas
There are 15 others...but this “will answer” as Mark Twain says.
Esteeming myself is like shining up and polishing my soul.
Strength Offices 321
The God Within Part II.
Another way to find the “God Within” is to meditate on God’s word.
Simply reciting one of the many slogans over and over will work.
The AA 12x12 talks about this in Step Eleven.
Some that really raise a consciousness in me are:
“Celibacy, Service and Laughter”
“Take Care of Yourself”
“In Brahmacharya lies the protection of the body, the mind and the soul”
and “I am with You”.
Strength Offices 322
The God Within, Part III.
It is my own mind that keeps me away from God.
The most sure way to find God, according to Bill Wilson and Gandhi, is through unselfish service to others.
I can ask myself simply “Have I helped another addict, with my specific addiction, to recover today?”
That is the simplest measure for me to solve the problem of why I can’t find God.
Note: at the very beginning of recovery I pretty much need to receive service...but I can contribute little things.
In AA, they get you to make the coffee, set up the chairs and used to make you empty and clean the ashtrays.
Strength Offices 323
The God Within Part IV.
What doesn’t work to find the “God Within” is to pray directly to the “God outside my skin line” and ask it to appear within me.
That doesn’t work because it’s like going to your back door and yelling out someone’s name who is already in the house.
The part of God that is outside of me is the magical, mystical, all powerful, parting-the-Red-Sea part of God.
That, I need to go outside the house to seek. That part does not lie within me.
That’s how people get mentally ill, calling out to God, hearing themselves and getting confused and thinking they are God.
Strength Offices 324
The God Within Part V.
As a sex addict can get triggered by an image, a memory, or a word into an addictive “bubble”, so can that phenomenon be used to find God.
“Reading spiritual literature” has been a regular tool of 12 step since May of 1939 when the Big Book of Alcoholics was written.
C.S. Lewis once wrote “We read to know we are not alone”.
If that is true and we intentionally read spiritual literature we can trigger or more aptly awaken the God Within.
Personally, for 25 years I just read seven books:
The Big Book
The AA 12x12
Hope and Recovery
Days of Healing, Days of Joy
The Courage to Heal
Gandhi’s “My Experiments with Truth”
Then I went crazy...and read Keith Richard’s Autobiography
Strength Offices 325
The God Within Part VI.
Meditation is recommended as good way to connect with God in both the Big Book and AA 12x12.
My favorite form of meditation is to surrender my thoughts to God, count my breaths, and wait until God flashes some dazzling, and often funny, piece of insight.
Strength Offices 326
What is the difference between bragging and self-esteem?
Bragging is to make myself feel better than someone else, driven by a narcissistic wound caused by not getting my need for esteem of others met in childhood. It is pure ego.
Self-esteem is accepting myself as I am but choosing a positive and gentle attitude towards myself. It is pure love.
Strength Offices 327
“Come to me you who are heavy burdened and I will give you rest”.
How that works for me is that God is at the center of recovery.
If I put my recovery, and thereby God, first, then all the other financial and personal relationship challenges are one step back, and begin to look manageable in comparison...and my burden is lightened.
Consequently, I can rest because I am not carrying such a heavy load.
Strength Offices 328
By the right given to me in the Second Tradition, as it says in the E2 Office, I can “define my own spirituality”.
For three years, today, that has been defined by exercise and diet.
I am grateful that God has removed the obsession to act out sexually so that I have an opportunity to chose.
Strength Offices 329
Augustine would say: “Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering.”
What that indicates is that the least among us is more wonderful than the mountains, sea, rivers, oceans and the stars.
That is why half of the recoveries we deal with at ActWithCourage are about healing relationships:
Adult Children of Alcoholics
Victimhood (from childhood abuse)
Strength Offices 330
In 1958 Tom Powers, who co-wrote the AA 12x12 with Bill W., left AA permanently and started All Addictions Anonymous.
He was friends with Lois, Bill’s wife, and he was tired of watching Bill cheat on her.
(Do you think you guys would trust me if I was cheating on Alona?)
He was also tired of watching Bill “smoke himself to death”, which finally did kill Bill in 1970.
I understand Tom’s dilemma.
AA has 2 million members. SAA only 100,000. That’s a 200 to 1 ratio.
That’s a lot of loss of fellowship if I move heart and home...but that was the decision I made in 1988.
Tom wanted more, a lot more recovery, and he had to be true to himself and the vision God gave him.
4 years ago I left SAA and started PrayerCall because I needed more recovery than they were interested in.
God bless you Tom Powers, God bless you.
I am grateful for your courage.
Strength Office 331
Each day I have a choice: “Plug into God”...or plug into the disease.
Actually, we believe that we have that choice every three hours.
Strength Office 332
The Big Book says that alcoholics are selfish.
DOH,DOJ says that “Children do what they see not what they are told”.
My alcoholic parents were extremely angry and hated me as a young child because “If it wasn’t for taking care of me“ they could drink more freely.
I saw their attitude and belief towards me and , as a young child, I did what I saw: I was extremely angry and hated myself.
Fortunately, prayer can undo those beliefs and change those attitudes.
I prayed “Cling to the Lord, and cry out for mercy” for an hour this morning and I was able to have mercy on myself and wash myself free of that undeserved childhood blame.
I still feel gun-shy of taking care of myself.
Have mercy on me Lord, a sinner.
Strength Office 333
Okay, I made a mistake.
Three years ago, at 62 years old, my body began to change and I couldn’t process the amount of food I ate as quickly.
I didn’t want to gain weight after keeping over 50 pounds off for 30 years so I made myself a deal:
If I gave up eating for pleasure...I could read all the books I wanted.
I’ve read a major Victorian novel every ten days for over three years.
...it’s been one of the best deals I ever made.
A couple of weeks ago I sorta wanted to start doing some more musical type business and the books fell by the wayside a bit.
I had abandoned my “outer circle” around food recovery.
The addictive desire began to reappear.
I regrouped, started reading two books for me, two with my son, and one with my wife.
The addictive drive started to disappear because I had something fun to do.
Strength Office 334
I feel grief on Memorial Day. I grew up military and we honored our dead.
But I try to personalize it so that it is useful to me. There is something dying in me today...an unspiritual belief.
“...and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.”
11th Step Prayer AA 12x12
The 40 year war with addiction is coming to an end.
That explodes a delusion (a false persist the belief which has no basis in reality) of mine.
I believed that what was holding me back from my grandiose, narcissistic dreams coming true was the many addictions that stood in my way.
Now that they are gone, one day at a time, as long as I “maintain my spiritual condition”.
I see that, that is not true.
I grieve my dreams, but I am grateful for what I have: Recovery, friends to pray with every three hours, a beautiful wife who loves me and a healthy son.
Now that the war is over I want to read books and sing with my wife to my son.
God, thank you for the opportunity to even think these thoughts, feel these feelings and see these beliefs.
I am grateful...
The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away...blessed be the name of the Lord.
Strength Office 335
I am grateful for the gift of recovery.
I am also grateful for the gift of life today.
My mother and father, both their parents and my father’s step father, Uncle Ovid and his two children, my Uncle Billy, Aunt Lilly, my drummer Jude, my bass player Mark, my beloved sponsors Malachy, Bill R. and Don S. and 17 people in recovery that I have known no longer have that gift.
Gandhi says it a very rare thing in this life to show up as a human.
To those who were good to me I am humbly grateful.
To those that were harmful I forgive you.
To Him who gave me life...I am thankful.
Strength Office 336
The Barna Research Group group says that if you are trying to quit using porn, you have nearly a 100% greater chance of failing, if you are a Christian. Why is that?
Ask yourself. Can I sit in my place of worship and say simply, humbly and honestly “I can’t stop masturbating and using porn”?
No, that would cause scandal...
Saint Ambrose in the Light Hearted Offices says “Do you also follow the custom of whatever church you attend, if you do not want to give or receive scandal?”
The reason that it is twice as hard for Christians to stop masturbating is that they insist on using their form of God, which does not allow them to be honest in a group, which is the ONLY thing that is absolutely necessary to recover, according to the Big Book, stated three times on page 58.
If I don’t surrender my conception of God, which is failing me when it comes to masturbation and porn, then according to Patrick Carnes, the founder of SAA and a confirmed Catholic, himself...it is simply religious addiction.
Have mercy on us all, Lord.
Strength Office 337
I just spoke to a man that we worked with four years ago.
He denied the new research of the above office #336 and refused to share his time abstinent from porn and masturbation.
The Big Book says “To spend too much time on any one situation is to deny some other alcoholic an opportunity to live and be happy”.
It was a very sad moment, as we all loved him so, but we must stay sexually sober and we just had to walk away.
Strength Office 338
For 40 years I have fought alcoholism, childhood sexual abuse, smoking, prescription drug addiction and food addiction amongst other pernicious things.
It has been messy, bloody, protracted and expensive.
Now, as long as I go to meetings and write daily, I am working the maintenance steps #10, 11 and 12 and I can lighten up.
Tonight my wife and I spent the evening trying on my jeans and finding they fit her.
It was kinda like two teenaged girls chattering and comparing clothes...frolicsome and fun.
Strength Office 339
There were years when I was not masturbating, having sex only with committed partners, but still suffering from a rare sexual disease called POIS...Post Orgasmic Illness Syndrome.
I surrendered and stopped having all sex for 4 years once and started Monks to get support for that specific purpose.
It was an accidental, but miracle cure...and now I can have sex twice a day and I am fine.
There is something, not understandable, that is attached sometimes to the miraculous, when I surrender.
It’s like saying "I have no idea what to do, neither does anyone else, but I still surrender to You.”
and just see what happens...like a child.
Strength Offices 340
What would God want my life to be if I recovered from my addiction?
Simple really: Inventory, Prayer and Service
With Service divided into two parts:
Unselfish service to others to help them get well from the same disease that I have.
And “Enlightened Self-Interest", manifesting in Self-Care.
After those three universal commitments it gets very individualized.
For me, it is: Working out and watching my food very carefully.
Taking care of my wife and son.
Reading books, playing the guitar and laughing as much as I like...like any good father would want for his son.
It may not be the 11th through the 15th commandments...but “it’ll answer" as Mark Twain used to say.
Strength Office 341
Humility, unfortunately, sometimes comes in humiliating ways.
Walking through the city yesterday, twice I passed by places where I had dated previous women earlier in my life.
I’ve made some amazingly stupid choices with dating partners in the past.
Women that I cringe now that I was with.
Not bad women...just bad for me.
When I look back now I ask myself “What was I thinking?”
It reminds of the line in Jeremiah “No one repents of his sin crying ‘What have I done’?.
I repent, Jeremiah...I repent.
Strength Office 342
What do you do when someone goes back out, feels shame about their sexual behavior and begins to attack you?
There is no helping them, and to fight them with reason and truth just makes them more resentful.
So, in extreme sickness like that we just are patient, positive, gentle...and ease quietly out the door before their self-hatred finds another wave.
Our salutation is usually: “We’re sorry we have offended you".
The Big Book says “If he thinks he can do the job in some other way, or prefers some other spiritual approach, encourage him to follow his conscience ”.
So we encourage you to follow yours...
Strength Office 343
For Jason on Emotional Sobriety:
When I first got clean and sober 32 years ago I used to hear AA guys talk about “emotional sobriety“ and they would say “I used to be too high or too low and once I stop drinking, I got in the middle”
That’s sort of made sense, but not really.
The key piece they were leaving out is that “feeling feelings” are one thing and “acting on feelings” is a completely different thing.
The way I felt when I first got sober, when I was too low, if I had acted on it, I might have killed myself.
When I was too high, if I had acted on it, I might have killed someone else.
The AA boys work on the theory that “ It’s an action program.”
They are working on a theory developed in the 1930s that says if you can control a man’s feelings you can control his action.
That’s why Bill W. said you couldn’t feel fear or resentment.
By the late 80s though people like SLAA and Codependency Anonymous had discovered that it was OK to feel those feelings…but just not act on them.
Huge, huge shift.
Now I don’t wanna say anything too bad about the AA boys because if I ever start masturbating again or start cheating on Alona…I might need a place to hide.
The point is, after 1988, you were encouraged to feel the highs and to feel the lows.
You didn’t want to dull out in the middle anymore.
But...and there’s a very large, but...You must process those strong feelings with other people all the time…Or they will definitely overwhelm you...And you’ll drink again.
The solution is talk about my feelings, talk about my feelings, talk about my feelings.
That’s why we do that 56 times a week in PrayerCall.
Strength Office 344
For Jason on Relapse Prevention.
The oldest story in AA is “Yeah, he got sober, then he quit going to meetings, then he relapsed.
AA says over and over “Go to meetings”.
That is the broadsword in our spiritual kit of tools.
Nothing gets you out of your pain and problems quicker and more effectively than a meeting.
Secondly is to get a good sponsor. Someone you won’t lie to, that you feel safe telling the absolute truth to, and that you might feel just a tinge of codependent desire to not to act out, so as not to disappoint or displease him...in other words respect.
This is relationship often where people first feel healthily loved. Acceptance, positiveness and gentleness are how we define love at PrayerCall.
If you can’t stay sober ask yourself if you have a good sponsor, not just someone with the title, and ask if you are calling him, asking for time and then being really open with him.
The third most important tool to prevent relapse is kinda divided into two camps:
The easy does it, left wing, sobriety-should-be-sexy types sell fellowship. Just hanging with program buddies. Doin’ stuff and talkin’.
The hard core, right wing, Big Book thumper part of the tribe will cast their vote for doing written step-work. Soul surgery that gets at the root of why we drink and what beliefs to change so as not to ever start again...one day at a time, of course.
One thing is for sure. As AA says” If you keep doing what you’re doing you’re going to keep getting what you’re getting”.
If you’re relapsing...there’s a reason why.
Something on the above list might be why.
Strength Office 345
There are many reasons I love my wife:
I love her voice.
We both love to laugh and joke.
I find her petiteness attractive.
I love the way she loves our son.
But what I love and respect the most is that she loves God as much as I do.
Last night she had a dream about the Second Coming.
I have mixed feelings about that sort of thing.
What I do know is that I am glad I am working the PrayerCall program so that, if such a thing were to happen, I would be as prepared to perceive it as I could be.
For me, I am going to stay away from alcohol, masturbation and be diligent with my food, three hours at a time, and pray with you guys as much as I can today.
I am grateful to all of you.
Strength Office 346
For Jason on Boundaries.
Why would I want to set a boundary with someone?
Because they are hurting me...
It may or may not be intentional, but the hurt is still there.
There are different kinds of boundaries.
If someone is smoking I can say “Would you please not smoke around me, or in my car, or around my children?”
The fear with setting boundaries is that someone will be mad and won’t like us or will leave us.
But that generally isn’t true.
Another example might be with an ex-partner: If you want to call me, please do not do it when you are drunk.
I have several boundaries that I find are useful.
I ask my wife not to yell me before I wake up…When I was a child my father abused me sexually, and then yelled at me, before I got out of bed. It is triggering for me.
Boundaries can be flexible: Don’t call me after midnight for the next seven days while I am on this project.
For me, there’s always fear of abandonment when I set boundaries… and a consequent rise in self-esteem when I am successful setting them.
Strength Offices 347
What if I weren’t an addict, but just a sinner?
You know, meaning: I could do what is exciting and self-destructive, but just suddenly stop doing it whenever I wanted.
Would I do that?
There would be no need to pray anymore.
There would be no need to serve anymore, either.
But the truth is that service brings joy and prayer brings peace.
Peace and Joy may sound like just a trumpet blast on Christmas cards each Holiday Season...but it means a great deal to me and my household.
Strength Offices 348
For Jason on Circles.
My Outer Circle is the things I do, once I have successfully stopped acting out, to take the place of the fun part of my addiction.
Just today I expanded one.
My attorney of 18 years started out as my student. I taught him to write music. He wrote 20 songs. 12 of them, good. 4 of them, great.
I invited him over after a 9 year break to sing with me, not as part of teaching business, but just as friends.
It was lovely, fun and charming.
I even got him to pick up a stand-up bass as he was walking out the door...and he was excellent!
There are a lot of things I cannot do anymore...they are called “Inner Circle”.
Of the cornucopia of previously delectable things that are, for me, “Inner Circle”, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, masturbation, flour and sugar top the list.
Singing the blues with my friend today was more fun than any of that...
Outer circle is the good stuff...
Hell, I may see if he wants to start a band and call it “Outer Circle”.
Strength Offices 349
There are a lot of good reasons to persist with good nutrition and exercise.
The most obvious normal thing is the way I feel and look.
But, for me, the third reason is...I really don’t want to ever have to go back to Food Addicts Anonymous.
PrayerCall works just perfectly, if I use the tools ...
Strength Offices 350
“No matter how far down the road you are...you are only three feet from the ditch”.
According to Abraham Maslow, the man who discovered the Hierarchy of Needs in 1943, once you reach full self-realization, and decide to go back, there is a point where that conscious decision to move toward sickness crosses a murky, mucky, ever-shifting line...and actually becomes evil.
I got to see that in a man today.
It was exactly what I needed to see to help keep me sober, just for today.
Strength Office 351
For Jeff D.
My wife and I watched Hacksaw Ridge tonight.
We love movies about courage with a strong moral message.
There is a passage where the unlikely hero cries out to God: “What is it you want of me? I don’t understand. I can’t hear you.”
I began to cry and had to stop and write his words down.
How many times have I said those words to God?
How many times have each of us, as addicts said, or felt, those words?
Gandhi said “A votary of truth is often obliged to grope in the dark".
How many times have each of us had to do that to save our recovery?
Later, as he rescues 75 men, one at a time, he answers his own question.
He asks God “Please Lord, help me get one more”.
That is what we do, serve one willing person at a time, one day at a time.
Strength Office 352
What does God want for me?
God wants me to be normal at least in the sense that my vital signs are in the normal range.
But there are some things that are normal and not healthy.
98% of men have used porn in the last six months and 70% of men watch at least once a week (Psychology Today and Fatherly.com, respectively)
That is way above the 51% required to be “normative”...but God wants me not to do that.
That can be a little hard for me to wrap my mind around.
The Big Book says “No person likes to think he is bodily and mentally different from his fellows”.
When I start to believe I may be different from my fellows, my need for love and belonging and my need for emotional safety begin to get rattled a bit.
I don’t want to believe that I am weird, strange or crazy.
But I have to stick my courage to the sticking place and be true to myself.
God does not want me to be “normal”...when it comes to the use of porn.
Strength Office 353
I spent some time in All Addictions Anonymous this week.
They are the only fellowship besides ActWithCourage that I know of that deals with more than one addiction.
With multiple addictions it’s extremely important to focus first on what’s killing you the fastest, first.
You may know that you need to quit smoking or lose 25 pounds but if porn is killing you...that other stuff just has to wait.
When I came into AA 40 years ago if someone had told me I needed to look at masturbation I would have run out the door and never ever looked back.
Carl Rogers said “The good life is a direction...not a destination”.
I need to be very patient with myself and do First things First...one day at a time, three hours at a time.
Strength Office 354
Sometimes people wonder why we talk about food on essentially sex addiction site.
Gandhi was the first person that I know of who could connect the dots between sex and food.
Dr. Terry Mason, Urologist for 37 years, is another: “Erectile dysfunction is actually the first clinical indicator of generalized cardiovascular disease".
It’s the thing that let you know that you have some significant vascular disease much earlier than with a heart attack.
I don’t know about you, but it’s important to me that my sexual organs work…
I mean, I’m a sex addict…I like sex.
When comparing obesity or smoking, now.
“Obesity is the most serious condition.”
Guess those Big Mac’s gotta go...
Strength Office 355
In 1974 I left the University of Virginia for good.
My roommate stayed.
He contacted me today, after 46 years, and sent me pictures of his life.
In DOH, DOJ it says “Show me who you are with...and I will show you who you are.”
I made the right decision...
Thank you God for the courage.
Strength Offices 356
For Jason on mentally detoxing.
There is a very provocative line on the last page of Step Two of the AA 12x12.
It says that we are “mentally ill”.
This is not the type of language that Bill Wilson used to help people get sober and I knew that .
I did some research and found that Tom Powers wrote the Second Step in the 12x12, left AA in 1958 because of Bill’s sexual behaviors and started All Addictions Anonymous.
I have attended 5 of their meetings recently.
I learned that they are world wide, but even smaller than us at PrayerCall with only 20 people after 62 years of service. I surmise that the idea of getting well from all addictions will never be very popular, which is okay with me, as long as I can get well. God bless them.
Their contention that we alcoholics/sex addicts are mentally ill I disagree with.
What I believe is that with addicts there is a memory disconnect that doesn’t allow us to remember the pain of our last acting out. There is a very sad reason why this is true...but that is for another office.
When I first stop acting out I am neurochemically stressed.
I feel needy, rageful, self-pity, lonely, hurt, sad, abandoned, isolated, different and even paranoid and that lasts, in my experience for right at 19 days, although it varies from addict to addict, slightly.
Patrick Carnes, the discoverer of sex addiction, confirms this in his hospital research on detoxing sex addicts for decades.
This is when AA’s practical wisdom comes in “Meetings, meetings,meetings”, just day and night. Think about the group as a hospital and program buddies as temporary appointed spiritual doctors.
Day 39, a big shift takes place and you get one good day and only two bad days.That feels hopeful.
Day 70, another shift takes place and you get two good days and one bad day...it’s progress, not perfection and life get’s more bearable. I have done this 16 times during celibacy periods in my life (even a fool begins to see a pattern after a while).
If you can make it to 4 1/2 months the craving disappears completely. I have done this four times in chastity and it is a magical day when you feel in your very soul that you are free.
It doesn’t mean that random stray desires don’t pop up. They do...but the craving is gone.
After that it is no longer a blood and guts battle with compulsion. It’s about clearing up my mind.
The best way to do that is through prayer and meetings. That’s why we have 6 prayer/meditation/reading meetings a day.
Ask yourself “How many times have I attended PrayerCall and felt better afterwards?”
I believe that the disease of sex addiction is 98% mental and only 2% physical compulsion, but the compulsion has to be dealt with first.
The Sexaholics say “There is no recovery without sobriety”.
Before sobriety it is like looking through a telescope backwards. There is terrific magnification on a tiny little spot...my addiction.
But then an entire world opens up.
AA used to say “Bring the body...and the mind will follow.”
Strength Offices 357
When I was a boy I lived 35 miles outside of Washington D.C. and we would go there to the worlds largest museum The Smithsonian Institute.
It has 154 million items, 21 libraries, 19 different museums, 9 research centers and a zoo.
It is free. The buildings are immaculate. The people are well educated, polite, helpful, engaging and always welcome you to come back.
The displays are vigorously accurately documented with tremendous tenacity.
But everything is old...very, very old. Sometimes millions of years old.
That’s how I feel when I go to AA...or SAA for that matter.
I, for me , need something where God is alive, right at that moment, speaking to my heart, in that instant, in a real and useful way to help me get through that day, three hours at a time.
Keep me humble so that I can continue to learn from you each day...
If I fail...I will go back to AA.
Strength Offices 358
I felt afraid this morning and I prayed the 23rd Psalm for an hour.
I think I was looking for your presence to calm me, but it is me that needs to calm me.
This Too Shall Pass as long...as long as I stay sober.
Strength Offices 359
I am not sure what I was looking for in life.
Probably overwhelmingly huge success in whatever I endeavored to do and to feel satisfied because of the overwhelming hugeness of my success.
Yeah...that was pretty much my plan.
What I got was being okay with myself.
That’s how Al-anon defines serenity.
Strength Offices 360
When I was 18 years old one of the only three good teachers I had in my whole life, who was the head of the Music Department at the University of Virginia, a Byzantine Chant scholar named Miloš Velimirović, quoting "The Road Less Traveled”, said to me “Life is hard ".
I remember thinking to myself “Maybe for you...but not for me”.
Looking back there have been some very hard times, but not all of life is hard. That is too dismal, bleak and negative...and just not true.
What I have learned, in recovery, is that when times get hard, if I am in any addiction, I feel victimized by the circumstance, be it governmental, pandemic, relational, or financial.
But the truth is, the real truth is, that my internal boundaries are damaged, by my own hand, so that when I need to protect myself, my own internal boundaries are gone.
But I have done that to myself in the multiplicity of addictions that are available to me.
I can’t change that there will be hard times in life. What I can change is how strong I am to protect myself during those hard times when they do arise.
Strength Office 361
I must fight for my recovery.
My greatest two sponsors were cloistered Catholic monks. They had renounced the world.
They did not have to fight outside forces, although they were utterly heroic and merciless in fighting their own demons.
Socially, they sort of reminded me of conscientious objectors in the military.
I was asked to be a monk in 1993. I was incredibly honored, but I had just regained sole custody of my daughter and I wasn’t about to leave her.
For me, there are times to fight.
I find that when someone is abusively aggressive with me, sometimes, if I do not respond I feel victimized and that sets me up to act out sexually...and I can’t afford that.
I like it better when I can just “Gandhi” my adversaries to death, with love and compassion.
But not every day is like that.
Strength Office 362
For Patrick on grieving.
I first learned about grieving when I got sexually sober.
I did not understand what was going on.
I felt sad because I was losing what at the time I thought was the best part of my life...sex with lots of women.
I felt lonely because I did not have their company.
I felt needy because I did not have their physicality.
I felt hurt because I believed everyone else was doing this sort of thing with great gusto and I was getting left out.
It took me many months before I heard the word “Meta-feeling”, meaning a feeling that is really a multiplicity of feelings, in this case: hurt, needy, sad and lonely.
It would be months still before I would know that the presence of this meta-feeling indicated that I was grieving, that I was losing something I could never get back in my life.
After sex addiction recovery, recovery began to spread into other areas, but now I recognized the grieving process and kind of got used to it.
I found that actually grieving was normal and healthy that it wasn’t only part of the recovery process, but rather any major change: finishing school, leaving home, ending a job, ending relationships, children leaving home, death of friends or loved ones.
There was one danger, in me, that I found.
I started grieving at age five with the loss of safety with my parents.
Something I learned in AA was that I had an actual attitude and that I was completely free to choose it.
At five, unaware of this choice, I ignorantly fell into an attitude of self-pity whenever I grieved.
22 years later AA would teach me that an attitude of gratitude is my healthiest choice.
So now, as crazy as it might sound, the best thing for me to do when I am grieving is to be grateful for my grief.
Sounds weird doesn’t it?
But it works.
Strength Office 363
My wife and I watched five movies the last five days on healthy eating and we both feel inspired.
There is something that is modest about changing my food and not trying to change the world that really appeals to me, especially when it is so easy to get snagged up on the fear and negativity that is so prevalent during this pandemic.
I am grateful for an open-minded wife.
Strength Office 364
My son woke me at 1:30 this morning screaming.
I went and held him and kissed him, but what he really likes is for me to hold out both of my thumbs and for him to clasp them both firmly with his little fists, which is the very first thing I did when he was born so that he would feel safe in the world...so I did.
I did not receive a lot of that type of nurturing at his age.
Sometimes, I need that level of nurturing for myself.
“The Child is the Father of the Man” as Wordsworth would say.
God can be seen so many places...
Strength Office 365
Prayer for humility.
Help me to be humble through remembering that, as the 12x12 says, “that any success we may be having is far more His success than ours.”
But help me to balance my humility with my responsibility to do my part.
Please help keep me in balance and moderation today.
Strength Office 366
They say that “God puts people in front of you that you need to see and lets you hear what you need to hear”.
I met a man today who was just as open to the multiplicities of recovery as I am.
Multiplicities of recovery is contrary to the current practice of the First,Third and Fifth Traditions.
He had been pursuing the goals I have been pursuing for 22 years.
I felt excited, but tentative. Usually, men of great experience reach out and try to sponsor me...but, he did not.
Being grandiose at least, and narcissistic at worst, I kept thinking about Abraham and Melchizedek.
Regardless...it was refreshing to have someone understand every word I said.
Strength Office 367
There are 7.8 billion people on the earth.
AA has a membership of 2 million people.
One in eight people are alcoholics in America yet only one in 4000 are in AA.
All Addictions Anonymous has 20 people, after 62 years of existence.
So if you are incredibly lucky enough to be that one out of the 4000 that makes it to AA, your chances are 1 in 100,000 in stopping all addictions.
Or 1 in 400 million to completely recover.
1 in 400 million!
It is wise and humble for us to remember this...and that PrayerCall will always, always be small.
Strength Office 368
I prayed 40 minutes “God give me strength and endurance” while I ran.
I don’t usually ask God directly for things much...but this worked pretty good, actually.
Strength Office 369
Traditional 12 steppers, having had a spiritual experience, and having had God remove the obsession for acting out simply do maintenance: inventory, prayer and service.
It is simple and humble...I will do my part.
I pray to be content. I can do my part, mentally, by disciplinedly choosing a positive attitude .
The opposite of anxiety is not depression...it’s contentment.
Strength Office 370
HP, I am grateful to be a practicing chaste, living foodist, just today.
I love my wife and am very attracted to her even though we have known each other eight years, are married and have been living together for three years.
But, I love the energizing power of chastity.
Strength Office 371
I sang with my son twice today and was really available to him to get on the floor and play as a 9 month old really wants to play. He really loves that.
That’s the way I am with God. I really love it when He visits.
My son, at 6 months, developed the capacity to entertain himself, so he doesn’t need me to be there all the time.
I think my son may be more intrinsically mature than me, in that regard.
Strength Office 372
Alcohol has been fermented for 9000 years.
For nine millennia we have believed that people who could not stop drinking were slothful, lazy, undisciplined or weak.
Then 85 years ago it was revealed to Bill W. that what was truly happening was “powerlessness”...an inability to stop no matter how hard a person tried.
That changed everything. In the late 1980’s there were reported to be over 400 Twelve step programs. (Note: Wikipedia now lists only 34 Twelve Step Groups.)
I applied the first step, “Admitted we were powerless over alcohol- that our lives had become unmanageable” successfully to 21 areas of my life and I am humbly and gratefully pleased with the results.
All that being said when I practice chastity I apply a different first step:
“I accept that there is power within me”
Wow! That is completely contrary to the first step in AA.
But is it?
In the Big Book Bill says in the 4th step it’s “resentment”, “fear” and “selfish sex” that cause us to drink.
In the 12x12 Bill says it’s because of our instincts for “sex, security and society” being out of control that we drink.
So in both books he is clear that the misuse of sex is foundational to the disease of alcoholism.
Gandhi has a couple very similar thoughts. They are lengthy, but worth reading:
“How foolish it is intentionally to dissipate vital energy in sensual enjoyment! It is a grave misuse to fritter away for physical gratification that which is given to man and woman for full development of their bodily and mental powers. Such misuse is the root cause of many a disease.”
“Men and women who indulge in lascivious looks at one's own, or another's wife, or to touch her in the same manner deceive themselves and the world, and growing weaker day by day, making themselves easily susceptible to disease.”
Both these men believe that misuse of sex leads to disease.
These are two of the most spiritually influential men of the 20th century.
What if they are right?
What if we kept the sexual energy inside us? Would that give us power? Would there then be power within us?
Yes, I believe it would.
If that were true then “I accept that there is power within me” would be an obvious and self-evident first step.
Strength Office 373
What evidence is that there is power in me?
Endless, endless thoughts...one per second on average, is evidence that there is a real energy within me.
I can direct those thoughts and as every thought has a feeling, if I can direct my thoughts, I can influence the direction of my feelings.
I can slow down and deepen my breathing.
I can choose to do cardio, strength, endurance or flexibility exercises.
I can choose freshly harvested green vegetables as a primary diet.
I can drink only water.
I can choose to read books.
I can pray.
I have the power to choose my attitude, which prisms everything I do, think or see.
There is tremendous energy within me and I have the choice where to direct it...I am not powerless over that.
Strength Office 374
Please help me to have mercy on myself.
I am so angry at myself for something I did not know.
Please help me to have mercy on myself.
I am making the situation worse by my self-unforgiveness.
Please help me to have mercy on myself.
Help me to be positive to myself as I would to someone else I was serving, as an act of self-love.
PS: It’s funny, but when I am more merciful to myself...I am more merciful to others.
Strength Office 375
As a way to be merciful help me to remember these inspired words:
“Easy Does It”,
“We absolutely insist on enjoying life”
“Why shouldn’t we laugh? We have recovered”
Strength Office 376
Two kinds of acceptance:
My father was trained military intelligence officer.
When he listened he accepted, never contradicted, never suggested, never disagreed and finished listening with a “Why not?” And a smile.
But you got the feeling you were being outmaneuvered mentally and that he really thought you were a derisively laughable idiot.
My last sponsor was a 100 year old virgin with 64 years of not drinking.
When he listened he accepted, never contradicted, never suggested, never disagreed...but you felt heard, respected, not necessarily agreed with, but honored and if he disagreed he was infinitely patient with my obviously erroneous decision.
The first is a hustle...the second is real acceptance.
Strength Office 377
I forgive my father, I forgive my daughter, I forgive myself for any mistakes any of us have made.
Have mercy on us all Lord.
Strength Office 378
I accept that there is power in me.
The best example of that real power within me, that chastity brings, that I know of, is resilience in conflict.
Chastity does that more and better than anything I know.
I used to see that in Catholic monks I knew. They were bulletproof...Really impressive.
That is the greatest gift of chastity, for me.
To be able to interact with anyone and not react to their craziness and to know it’s their craziness and that it’s not about me.
Strength Office 379
For Matt D.
Service has been, after sobriety, the greatest gift I have ever experienced.
I have experienced “happiness, joy and freedom” just as the Big Book promised.
For 24 years I took five phone calls a day, sponsoring people in 21 fellowships and my life was full of love from giving God’s grace that was flowing through me to others.
Then the Big Guy upstairs gave me an administrative assignment and for eight years I carried the message of sexual sobriety to 1750 people in 87 countries through Facebook.
That ended six months ago and now I kinda sense God wants me to write new material for Him.
In our B Office one of our slogans is “I am a giant...if I can only think small”.
My friendship with All Addictions Anonymous recently confirms that truth.
They are small. So are we. That is good.
Strength Office 380
I am grateful for the strength to stay abstinent today.
In this darkened time in the world, when physical immunity is being paramount to survival, I am grateful I have invested in being healthy in every area that I know.
I know this to be your will, for me, and I am humbly grateful to have been able to know your will.
Strength Office 381
I do not want “to be like the horse or the mule”._Psalm 32
I know that, for me, God wants me to have health.
I know that, for me, that means no binging on food.
I know that, for me, caffeine leads to binging on food.
So, that is not God’s will...for me.
I know that, while God accepts me if I smoke, that that is not healthy and, trying not to be as dumb “as a horse or mule” that it is therefore not His will, for me, to do that, either.
These are really sensitive topics for lot’s of people, but I must “To thine own self be true”...and these are my truths.
Strength Office 382
To get my real needs met every three hours I give 5% of my day to prayer every day by going to prayers 5 times a day.
Of all the investments I have ever made: cars, a house, jewelry, stocks, bonds, musical instruments and computers...It is the best investment I have ever made.
Strength Office 383
It feels good to be just laying in my bed with my partner and just feel sensual and not sexual.
It is great not to have longing for a woman knawing at my gut all the time.
Strength Office 384
I admit I am powerless over my thoughts.
My mind just powerfully keeps churning out thoughts without ceasing.
But that is good. I have an endless source of power within me.
Now, I just choose where to direct them.
Strength Office 385
When I am weak, the group is strong.
When I am lost, the group is found.
When I don’t know what to do…I know where to go
Three hours at a time…
Strength Office 386
I so admire Abraham, King David and Mose’s relationship with God.
It is deeply awed with respect.
My relationship is different. It is simple: I am powerless...will you help me.
Strength Office 387
Relax and breathe...
“I accept that there is power within me.”
If that is true then what is within me?
It is my soul.
I have been looking for 32 years to have the perfect relationship within myself, but I have been looking for an emotionally warm, verbal relationship, but that is not what it is.
It is a non-verbal relationship.
It is connecting my heart to my soul.
My heart connects me to my infinite soul.
It enables me to feel and apprehend my soul.
To know my soul.
It is though I have been trying to hear a picture, and not hearing, believing the picture was not there.
I feel completely full, completely at peace.
I feel complete.
I hope to remember the First step of Chastity “I accept that there is power within me.”
It is a feeling of the infinite.
The ACA’ s were close, very close in their familial anthropomorphism of the inner child and the inner adult, but it was a near miss. It was crude.
This is what they were aiming at before they crashed and burned when their leader John Bradshaw divorced and fell from grace (I am grateful for him being a scout.).
I need something more. I need a new paradigm, a new model.
This is incredibly simple.
I have been practicing it, but it has been like doing push-ups and sprints before the game.
This is the game I have been “groping in the dark” for, as Gandhi says.
I hope simply to read this and remember.
I am unspeakably grateful.
Strength Office 388
“Therefore, the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind rather than in his body.”
_Page 23 the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.
This is one of the two observations that started PrayerCall.
The other was: if you take the amount of time that you masturbated every week and divide by the number of hours in a week you find that, it is, on average, 2%.
If it is true what Tom P. and Bill W. say, that the character defects, which are caused by faulty beliefs, attitudes and thoughts cause us to act out, then it is the 98% of the time when we are NOT acting out that sets us up to act out that terrible 2% of the time.
AA says it memorably, “If you get a horse thief sober… Then what you’ve got is a sober horse thief”.
Even if you go to “90 in 90” (a meeting every day) every day of your life, you’re only dealing with the mental aspects disease 4% of the time.
If you go to PrayerCall six times a day, you’re only dealing with 6% of the mental aspect.
This is where Step 11, prayer and meditation, can save me.
Tom P. and Bill W. say in Step Eleven in the 12x12:
“Meditation is something which can always be further developed. It has no boundaries.”
Now that’s something that appeals to any self-respecting addict… No boundaries!
Then they give us “Precise instructions” as the Big Book says, on how to develop meditation:
“We remember, and repeat to ourselves, a particular phrase that has appealed to us in our reading. Just saying it over and over…”
The best research says that people have on average one thought per second and that 80% of those thoughts are negative.
We know, from our collective experience at PrayerCall, that each of those thoughts have an associated feeling.
While we accept that we are powerless over the 2% of our lives that is compulsive sexual behavior, we are NOT powerless over our choice of thoughts. “ I accept that there is power within me” (Mercy Offices).
What can we do?
A simple way to start is to choose any of the 60-plus slogans from the B Office and follow Tom and Bill’s suggestion: “Repeat it to ourselves.”
I first saw this done with my first monk sponsor.
From memory, he just recited part of the Catholic Liturgy.
But, since I am an addict and not a monk I choose 12 step materials.
There is an immediate and beautiful result.
Again Tom and Bill say:
“Perhaps one of the greatest rewards of meditation and prayer is the sense of belonging that comes to us.”
And what addict doesn’t feel like he is “Different, unique, isolated and alone”?
I don’t have to pray all the time.
As Carl Rogers would say “The good life is a direction...not a destination”
But, the more I do it, the more I heal and the less I act out.
There is a solution...
Strength Office 389
How do I get strong?
Well, here’s the second oldest joke in the world:
A man goes into a doctor’s office, raises his arm and says “It hurts when I do this.”
The doctor says...”Then don’t do that”
I inventory what makes me strong and what makes me weak...then do the first more than I do the second.
This was musical advice I was given by John Cage when I was 21 years old.
What makes me weak?
Some obvious stuff:
What makes me strong?
Gandhi used to say “For all restraint, whatever prompts it, is wholesome for men.”
Most of my weakness comes from internal self-destruction:
Adult child of alcoholics issues
There are others, but that is a pretty good start.
But there are other things that make me strong:
A grateful attitude
So I don’t get overwhelmed I remember what Carl Rogers the humanistic psychologist said “The good life is a direction...not a destination”.
Strength Office 390
In the Light Hearted Offices Lao Tze says “At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”
I can tell what I doing that is killing me...by how I feel and look afterwards.
Strength Office 391
The earliest written form of the Germanic word “God” comes from the 6th-century, which means "to call" or "to invoke".
There were other names before that, but not that particular word, “God”.
Of much more interest, to me, is that it is the action of “calling” that it describes, which is the knowing of “God”.
That was certainly my experience.
I believe in God for one reason.
On May 4, 1988, after not drinking for 30 days, I held a cold bottle of beer to my lips and simply “Called” out, “Please help me!”.
I set the bottle down, without drinking.
That was 32 years ago.
Strength Offices 392
The majority of 9th step amends in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous are financial.
I had an opportunity to make financial amends today because of the harms I had done.
It wasn’t a lot of money, maybe a half a week’s salary...but it made my soul feel good.
Strength Offices 393
Are these two statements true?
“How foolish it is intentionally to dissipate vital energy in sensual enjoyment! It is a grave misuse to fritter away for physical gratification that which is given to man and woman for full development of their bodily and mental powers. Such misuse is the root cause of many a disease.”
‘’Men and women who indulge in lascivious looks at one's own, or another's wife, or to touch her in the same manner deceive themselves and the world, and growing weaker day by day, making themselves easily susceptible to disease.’’
If alcoholism is a disease, could this be it's root cause, as the Big Book and the AA 12x12, in their respective fourth step’s address?
If alcoholism is powerlessness, and the root of powerlessness is misuse of sex, then could that be true of the other many forms addiction takes: drugs, cigarettes, food, caffeine?
Strength Offices 394
The Recovery Two-Step Dance Song:
“Hit bottom, Want out, Pray”
“Surrender, Take action, Have fun”
Strength Offices 395
Kurt Vonnegut in “Galapagos” says that all our problems come mainly from our having “Too, large brains”.
(The average brain is about 3.5 pounds, by weight, by the way)
I don’t know about you, but my brain is constantly talking to me.
Studies show that 80% of our thoughts are negative, even if we are not addicts, and that we have, on average, one thought per second.
Do I really want a brain that, every five seconds tells me four negative things?
What I do know is that I can discipline my brain to see things gratefully and positively.
That’s why I started praying when I was 22. My brain was driving me crazy.
I had a sponsee who had a $750,000 red Ferrari.
We went riding in it to an SAA meeting one day.
It was nearly 75% engine.
That’s what my brain feels like when I pray a lot...Tremendous controlled power.
When I don’t...my mind feels like I am being drug from the back of chariot, through random streets, six inches with mud, by four wild horses...on amphetamines.
Who knows? Maybe Vonnegut is right.
But, I know...I am going to keep praying.
Strength Office 396
If I was a woman, or African-American, a Muslim or a Jew,
If I was lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning,
If I was Sunni or Sikh, Buddhist or Hindu,
If I was pro-Trump or pro-Biden, pro-choice or pro-life,
If I was a relapsed alcoholic or practicing heroin addict,
If I was fat or broke, in debt or just smelled bad,
If I was an infant or old (and I’m not old, damn it!),
If I was Latino, Asian, or a Bushman/Hottentot,
My daughter, with her warm and open heart, would welcome me in the world.
But...I am a man who needed a wife who could bear children...because I loved being a father to my daughter more than anything I ever did.
If I have sinned, Lord...let me know.
Strength Office 397
I believe that if I surrender my life to God that He will “Let me see the people I need to see and hear what I need to hear”.
I believed that God, who I believe to be loving, would send me wise, loving, compassionate, caring, open people, often with good senses of humor...and He has.
But, because I have learned through Al-anon and Coda, to respond instead of react (On a good day) that, more often than I would like or expect, He sends me selfish, dishonest and even sometimes treacherous people.
...Conflictual, adversarially oppositional, even warlike situations.
Because I have learned not to buckle in conflict, but rather to use spiritual tools (like prayer, chastity and fasting) in those situations, I actually become stronger.
God knows that. I am sure.
Although...I wish he weren’t so darn proud of me some days.
Strength Office 398
Sabbath: My wife and I have not worked on Sunday for over three years.
As an Al-anon it is very hard for me to not to try to solve things.
I have a major battle tomorrow, but today I will be obedient...and not do anything.
Strength Office 399
I find that my weakness comes from my own self-destruction.
Anything that makes me feel “high”: too much food, caffeinated beverages, caffeinated foods, nicotine in any form, fantasy, objectification, intrigue, hell, even a nasal decongestant or an OTC med changes my feelings and there is a consequent low that follows.
I can see it in my face which then looks: drawn, sallow and old.
I can feel it in my body:
I feel listless, weak, dissolute, soft and pointless.
I can feel it in my head:
I feel confused, unsure and doubtful.
My strength, on the other hand, comes from God, through nature. My body will heal itself...if I leave it alone.
But, when I am “in the soup” I am cut off from God’s healing force which is latent within me.
That is why I “keep coming back”, as Freddy loves to say.
I get lost by myself...I simply forget.
I’ll see you guys in three hours...
Strength Office 400
Sometimes hitting bottom means that something really catastrophic happens.
But sometimes it can simply mean “being sick and tired of being sick and tired”.
Strength Office 401
“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it--always.”
Strength Office 402
“Turn from evil and do good; then you will dwell in the land forever.”
When I am at war, this prayer gives me an opportunity to inventory myself and see if, and where, I am doing wrong.
I do not want to separate myself from God, when I am at war, through my own self-destruction.
Strength Office 403
I want to heal from my addiction.
What does that mean?
Simply that I have stopped all addictions.
But...I can go back to addiction at anytime.
Therefore, it is not healed?
Healed would mean I would never go back.
So, that the only way to prove, to myself, that healing is possible, is never go back.
If that is truly possible, then, for me, the food would be the last and only way to shut the door completely.
The greatest danger, for me, would be caffeine, because I cannot control food, with caffeine in my system.
Is that worth it?
Yes, for me...it is worth it.
I remember Phoenix, Pablo and Gray.
They were the greatest spiritually gifted people I have ever known...and the food took them all down.
Malachy, the best man I have ever known, escaped it.
But, I am like the other three, not him.
He could simply do something I could not.
Strength Office 404
There is a small place opening up inside of me.
A “space I am giving myself”.
It opened up more inside of me today as I did a two day “green foods” cleanse.
It opened up more when I ran along the Bay
It is an easy, open, modest relationship with my soul.
When I am in addiction that space within me closes up and all there is left is obsessions and cravings.
Strength Office 405
I am willing to know and do your will.
I believe that it is your will for me to be healthy: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
And to not take myself too damned seriously.
So, I reiterate my offer to myself of three years ago...if I stay away from self-destructive things I can read all I want.
I also surrender Facebook and Messenger
I further surrender any use of cell phones except program, business and friends
I will “put a muzzle on my mouth”.
Strength Office 406
“For all restraint, whatever prompts it, is wholesome for men.”
I am restraining myself now, because I am in conflict.
I need all my strength, clarity, intuition, flexibility and savvy.
My opponent is strong, but proud.
I am grateful for his strength, because I restrain myself to incur my strength.
“For all restraint, whatever prompts it, is wholesome for men.”
Strength Office 407
The hardest part of war… Is the fighting.
But the second hardest part of war...is detaching from the war.
Today I declared “Sabbath” ...and lay down in green pastures.
Strength Office 408
Sometimes it’s hard for me to tell what God’s will is.
When that happens I imagine a good father talking to his son.
What would a good father say about an addiction?
Would a good father want his son to masturbate, if masturbation was really hurting his son?
If it was not hurting him, he might try to assuage his guilt or shame and help his son to accept himself.
Not everyone is a sex addict.
But, if it was hurting him he might gently, positively and acceptingly offer his help.
I think that’s probably true of any potential addiction.
Addictions to food, debt, caffeine, work, codependency and religion are very real to me.
What would a good father say to me?
Strength Office 409
For Dr. David S
People ask me “Steve, what’s the big deal about coffee?”
Even in the Big Book, on page 135, there is a defense of coffee.
So what’s up?
For me, I love being high on coffee. I love a Starbuck’s double latte Grande, or two, or three, or quite frankly...four.
And I can maintain that high for a few days, but...
On the third day I become so rattled that my food addiction kicks in and I have to eat meat or dairy...and a lot more of it than I would like...to calm down.
That makes me look old and fat...which triggers my sex addiction because, as a sex addict, even if I am 90...I still want to look hot.
At this point I have activated three addictions...
By the way, on that same page 135, there is also a defense of smoking...which is what actually killed Bill Wilson, the Big Book’s author.
My 100 year old sponsor, Father Malachy, when he fell in the monastery infirmary, where he knew he was dying, was asked if he wanted anything...he said “Coffee”.
But he could do something I can’t do...he could stop I can’t...
And even if none of this we’re true...I am too vain to be fat.
Strength Office 410
For Dr. David S
It amuses me that in 12 step we give a Personality to love, truth, mercy, kindness and humor and that name is Higher Power...and yet we rigidly, humorlessly, do not give a Personality to selfishness, dishonesty, cowardice, obsession, extremity and hate.
Let’s try that shall we? How about:
Roosevelt Ahmed Jose Ashley Fong...or Rajaf for short
While HP’s primary principal is love and truth, Rajaf’s main motivation is lies and hurt.
Everyone knows that taking drugs, smoking, or drinking too much is hurtful so there’s really no room for Rajaf to work his magic here.
What Rajaf needs is something that will hurt you and, while he is hurting you, he can tell you that the hurt he is helping you to inflict on yourself...is not hurt.
Something maybe with these symptoms:
sweating, having a hard time breathing, more like heaving bodily wastes smell acrid and putrid right shoulder, left side of neck, knees, L5 and sacrum exhibiting enflamed arthritis limbs getting deep red age spots and fingernails yellowing and looking corpse-like.
Rajaf needs something sexy, fun, exciting and glamorous that makes you feel like a winner that everybody likes, that girls are attracted to, that you are the kind of guy that men will vote for.
Rajaf needs to seduce you...Rajaf needs Starbucks.
Strength Office 411
It is a great freedom to be sexually sober so that when conflict comes up I am serene sexually and can competently address the hysterical chaos that crazy, codependent, alcoholic, overeaters bring...like Pigpen brings his dirt.
Strength Office 412
An Ancient Greek’s character was judged by his “Fairness and courage and ability to meet any crisis that arose”.
Introduction to Homer’s “Odyssey”
“Security based on our own belief in ourselves is the only security that lasts. As hard as it may be for adult children to learn they can trust themselves...it still is the only lasting security.”
I want a completely different direction in my life. How?
I want to embrace anonymity as a form of grateful humility.
If I lose my abstinence from food, I lose the joy that comes from the freedom from all addictions...and the self-esteem that comes with it.
I simply want to get completely free of all addiction...at any cost.
The first thing I hope to do is live better by more “soul breath” prayer and repetitive verbal prayer
I am content. I have gotten away from my old life...even “old school” (pre-feelings) recovery.
What I humbly want is to:
spend time with my family
sing with my wife
I don’t want to miss these gifts to myself:
The sweet, cool, 3 oz of distilled water throughout the day
The long, hot, one hour of sprinting every other day and biking the next
The multi-set pushups throughout the day
The hard body that I get to live in
The killer reading
The contentment of having cured addiction
The finite chastity and it’s social resilience
Locating my soul through breath prayer
Strength Office 413
I have cured addiction in me.
It took 40 years. The last 32 years were hard work.
But the food addiction, led by abstinence from caffeine, capped it for me...and I am grateful beyond words to be free.
Praying five times a day, serving willing sponcees, working out hard, working in moderate demand, staying at 128.8 pounds daily, practicing guitar daily...that’ll keep me busy.
Besides, idle hands are the Devil’s workshop...ask any of my exe’s.
Strength Office 414
Who are we? We are people that “Believe In God.
We are Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Baha'i's, Agnostics and Atheists.
What we are instructed to “Choose our own conception of God”.
But there is a caveat...it must be able to help us conquer addictive behavior .
Strength Office 415
Economics comes from meeting these needs:
- Physical life: air, exercise, water, food, sleep
- Safety: physical, emotional and financial
- Love and belonging
- Esteem of others/Self-esteem
- Spirituality...connectedness with God, others and ourselves through service and prayer
- Peace of Mind
(No alcohol, drugs, tobacco or caffeine is probably a pretty good idea to kind of coax the maximum yield from these types of things)
Reading is a form of living wealthy...
However, playing the guitar is for the poor...I mean what are you going to do with an oboe?
Strength Offices 416
“There is no such thing as inner peace. There is only nervousness...and death”
This is the funniest woman I have ever read.
But, inner peace is possible. It’s just really hard and the only way that you know you’ve really got it is to have really, really painful things happen to you and see if you can remain calm...and who wants that?
There is peace and then there is “Inner dullardness” brought on by the satiation of alcohol, drugs, cigarettes or eating too much.
Satiation is not peace, although it will dull worries for a while.
If Fran is right, I have to face my nervousness.
But, it can be frightfully overtaking.
I can do a Step One on it and admit my powerlessness to stop it.
I can do a Step 6 and 7 on it and humbly ask God to remove my defect of character of worrying.
But, I find if I do a Step 3 1/2 on it (“Doing God’s Will”) I simply make up my mind to “ Not worry about my problems “...that is the most effective way to address my nervousness.
Also, practicing Step Eleven, by reading about God, really, really helps.
So the nervousness is gone, but to actually find inner peace, I lasso my mind by counting my breaths.
This, in itself, doesn’t do much spectacular, except lower my heart rate a little and focus my mind.
The trick, and I learned this from reading Socrates is to, once focused, make my concentrated mind leap to my solar plexus (that’s right my up at the top center of your rib cage).
Continue breathing deeply and slowly while concentrating and, now that Ms. Liebowitz’s nervousness is gone...my soul will eventually appear.
This takes practice, like playing the guitar...but, you get better at it over time.
This seems a better choice than Fran’s nervousness...or death.
Strength Office 417
Help me to deal with mental sobriety today.
After stopping my addiction help me to calm and ease my mind (which can be like a screaming bear some days).
Help me to use meditation on my relationship with You and reading, three hours at a time, to calm my mind.
Strength Office 418
I didn’t like feeling sick, weak, unusually tired, or out of control.
Coffee and the subsequent eating to calm down did that to me.
I enjoy feeling strong.
If it is your will to be strong and healthy, help me do it, every day of my life, for as long as I live...
One day, three hours at a time, of course.
Strength Office 419
Eating only when below 128.8 pounds...and then only the amount that brings me back to 128.8 pounds
No flour, no sugar
All food weighed and measured on a digital scale
Majority of foods are “living” 5 minutes before consumption
No beverages except distilled water
and it is cold and measured...and scrumptious
All food is organic and raw (except occasional tofu...which is a cooked food)
Strength Office 420
I am grateful that my wife can trust me.
I am grateful that the women around me can trust me.
There was a time when that wasn’t true.
I am grateful that that time is over in my life.
Strength Office 421
When I have three living food drinks per day 95% percent of my aches disappear.
That really matters to me as I get older.
I really don’t want end up sitting around and talking to other old people comparing aches as a form of intimate conversation.
I do not want to live like that...living foods rescues me from that fate.
Strength Office 422
“We do have a zeal for laughter in most situations...give or take a dentist."
The Light Hearted Offices
Half of God’s will as a selfish, dishonest sex addict is to unselfishly serve others.
The other half is “enlightenedly self-interested” self-care.
Part of self-care is the dentist.
I sat for four hours today staring at suspended ceiling tiles, blue/white neon-tube recessed lighting and concentric air ducts while a young Iraqi student created a composite for a chipped front tooth.
We talked about Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi war of 2003. It was fun and intimate.
Somehow I think God’s will should be more like Charlton Heston descending Mount Sinai with two tablets, in a torrent of thunder and lightening while the 200 piece MGM orchestra screams in the background.
But, today...it was simply to be at the dentist.
Strength Office 423
I sat online with the most enlightened Christian priest I have known in all my life today discussing the Christian/Children’s theologian C.S. Lewis.
I was adapting my vernacular to fit in to a group of mostly elderly, very affluent, widowed, suburban white women.
I was “Acting as if” and I was doing pretty good, really...I was “passing”.
But I kept remembering a conversation the priest and I had had 37 years ago.
He said “You need a God with more torque”...than he could offer.
I guess when the Big Book says “Why don’t you choose your own conception of God” I am not going to be able to choose a BMW 318 kinda God.
I am going to need a fire engine red Ferrari, upside down, with no brakes, doing Mach 5, with my hair on fire God.
Strength Office 424
When I hit bottom in an addiction, I notice some things:
My reaction to some specific unacceptable event shows me, starkly, that I have lost my resilience and that my self-care defenses are permeable.
I know, very quickly, that I am doing this to myself.
I have weakened myself spiritually so I am going to be hurt in relationship, instead of resilient in relationship.
When I am in my inner or middle circle, I am not feeling my pain and dealing with it spiritually so that when someone hurts me, unintentionally or intentionally, I do not have the muscle to deflect it spiritually.
The good news is that there is a solution.
I know what it is and I know what to do.
Strength Office 425
The E2 Office says that “We can define spirituality for ourselves”.
Alcohol sobriety, for me, comes first.
Sexual sobriety, for me, comes second.
Food sobriety, for me, comes third.
For three and half years I have defined “spirituality” as being expressed through “food and exercise”.
It is crazy simple, but it’s working for me...three hours at a time.
Strength Office 426
“Why don’t you choose your own conception of God?”
Big Book page 12
“I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.”
Which of these is true?
Both, I believe...
I choose the conception of God that has led me out of the land of slavery.
I will have no other God before that God...
Maybe after...but not before.
Strength Office 427
Patrick Carnes PhD. the inventor of the study of sexual addiction, says that there are three neuropathways to the brain which cause addiction: Arousal, satiation and fantasy.
Fantasy is okay, (Non-sexual fantasy, that is) because the reverie of imagination can be the genesis of creativity.
But, it is the ability to reign it in, to use fantasy in moderation, to keep life in balance, and to not become obsessed that distinguishes the healthy artist from the madman who, like Van Gogh...cuts of his ear and sends it to his girlfriend.
Strength Office 428
Like Adam and Eve all I have to do to maintain “Paradise“ is stay sexually sober.
In Paradise I get to work on my food and exercise.
I get to enjoy my son and wife.
I get to write and play music.
I get to read books.
There really is only one rule...stay sober.
It’s funny to me that in the Bible, having sex is called “Having knowledge of someone“.
If I decide to “eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge” I lose my paradise.
You can keep that apple, thank you.
Strength Office 429
“Spirituality without sacrifice...means nothing”
“Ultimately, the Second Step helped us define spirituality for ourselves.”
Hope and Recovery
“I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.”
For me, I define my spirituality as the relationship between food and exercise, and I worship the God that heals those things.
Strength Office 430
When I am in relationship with mentally ill people, I cannot change them, but I can be grateful that “There but for the Grace of God, go I”...
Strength Office 431
In AA we say “ Prayer is talking to God and meditation is listening to God “.
Listening to God is impossible if my mind is constantly “Thoughting“.
I have to stop the endless procession of unmonitored, undisciplined talk that endlessly runs through my brain.
There is a two stage process in learning to meditate:
First, I start simply chanting to start to get a hold of my mind.
This takes a lot of practice and I start with something simple.
For me, at 17, I started by using the Hare Krishna prayer:
“Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama
Rama Rama, Hare Hare”
It is simple, repetitive, rhythmic and easy.
Some people use the Jesus prayer:
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.”
The content is not as important as the mental muscle of just slamming the prayer through my mind, over and over again, until I master my own mind.
Having developed some mental muscle, the second part, once having gotten control of my mind through prayer, is to surrender my thoughts and see what God has to say.
The most successful way that I have seen is actually an old Buddhist way of praying which is to count my breaths and every time a stray thought comes to my head, to surrender it to God, and just keep counting my breaths.
The simple greatness of this form of meditation is that it engages me physically.
If I keep doing this, day after day, I will begin, as John Cage said “To make my mind susceptible to divine influences“.
Strength Office 432
I have found that fasting often improves my sense of wellness as I walk through the world.
Here are five things that Gandhi said that I decided to re-memorize:
"I found that complete control of the palate made the observance of the vow very easy."
"Fasting is as necessary as selection and restriction in diet."
"The extinction of the sexual passion is as a rule impossible without fasting."
"I shall content myself with merely declaring my firm conviction that, for the seeker who would live in the fear of God and would see him face to face, restraint in diet, both as to quantity and quality, is as essential as restraint in thought and speech."
"My experience teaches me that, for those whose minds are working towards self-restraint, dietetic restrictions and fasting are very helpful. In fact, without their help, concupiscence cannot be completely rooted out of the mind."
Strength Office 433
“Normality is a behavior that is consistent with the most common behavior for that person.”
Is that really true?
My interpersonal normality used to be getting drunk, smoking cigarettes, chasing females and being fat.
I think I need a more objective definition, for my own good…and for everyone else around me.
Strength Office 434
Augustine said that “Physical pain is the greatest evil”.
If my diet is causing me pain, I can’t focus on the mental strength that I desire.
Strength Office 435
“There are four general criteria that psychologists use to identify abnormal behavior:
1.violation of social norms
That’s what I used to claim when I was doing something really weird….I’m a “statistical rarity”!
Strength Office 436
Strength Office 437
“Normal is also used to describe individual behavior that conforms to the most common behavior in society…known as conformity
I never wanted to conform as a teenager:
It was morally outrageous.
It was indecent use of power.
It was cowardly and horrifying to me morally.
It was doing what my Daddy said…and that would never do.
Strength Office 438
As my wife and I age, and change in our life together, a period of chastity seems like a pretty good idea.
We have done two periods of 60 days of chastity in the last nearly four years and it has been very good for us.
By day 30, as Patrick Carnes would say, "We couldn't keep our hands off of each other"
Strength Office 439
My daily recovered goal is acceptance and laughing.
With a touch of humility thrown in every now and then.
Strength Office 440
I first became aware of the mental illness aspect of addiction 31 years ago from a line in the AA 12x12 Second Step, page 33:
“Some will be willing to term themselves “problem drinkers” but cannot endure the suggestion that they are in fact mentally ill”.
I felt great fear and shame when I read this. Stopping drinking was one thing, but being mentally ill was too frightening to consider, for me, at the time.
Next, I became aware of the annual US Surgeon General’s Report which listed not only depression, but addiction as a form of mental illness. Once again, I denied this to myself.
As my sobrieties deepened and gained breadth over the years I began to notice something:
While I had stopped the compulsion, I still sometimes had cravings, obsessions or just simple pre-occupations.
It occurred to me that if I were using my mental energy, in self-combat, to not think about a women, or to try to not masturbate, that I was still engaged in the disease, mentally. I wasn’t free to live my life.
I want to distinguish something: At ActWithCourage.com we do not address forms of serious mental illness that require a professional therapist and or medication. That would be arrogant, ignorant, foolish and dangerous on our part.
The three types mental illness that we directly deal with:
1. “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” (AA canon).
2. “Lack of perspective” (Big Book’s definition of insanity) which causes anxiety, due to not having an appropriate, sane, dynamic, meaningful and accessible relationship with a Higher Power (like the group) that can directly help the addict stop his own specific form of addiction.
3. The mental obsession of addiction, caused by an undisciplined mind, which we address with prayer (Big Book p. 164).
Strength Office 441
Some days “My mind is out to get me”...and I just pray the first three steps and then the slogans, over and over over again until I tame my mind.
It’s like an angry tiger sometimes...but prayer conquers it.
Strength Office 442
When I noticed I had stopped all the addictive behaviors, but still had no peace of mind, prayer became more important to me.
Not necessarily Christian supplicatory prayer, which I then used often, but also other much more general forms of prayer, like the repeated positive mental statements that the AA 12x12 suggests in Step 11...simply saying the slogans over and over again.
Then comes the AA direction to simply “Read the literature” and the corresponding decline in anxiety that accompanies said spiritual reading.
Positive self-talk…This comes from ACA work, particularly “Inner Child” work that was so in style when 12 step was at her peak in the late 1980’s.
One of my personal favorites, introduced to me by my third AA sponsor, is the Buddhist form of prayer of simply counting my breaths. I love this because of the physical aspect of the prayer engages my body. And as Gandhi says “As with the body…so with the Universe”.
Singing…As John Steinbeck would say, in the Grapes of Wrath “ Singin’ and Prayin’…it’s the same thing”
Listening. This I learned from John Cage, my teacher. Simply stop and listen to the environment, without judgement.
Also, meditation where, as directed on page 69 of the Big Book, I sit and listen directly for God’s word, on a specific topic, something I had seen the Quakers do with great skill.
Strength Office 443
Today I will keep my mind on my mental wellness goals:
Acceptance, being positive, humility and contentment.
Strength Office 444
Even if I stop all my compulsion, I am still responsible for my mental health:
My attitudes, thoughts, beliefs and feelings.
I choose a positive attitude
I choose positive thoughts
I choose honest, loving beliefs
Let my feelings run where they may...
Strength Office 445
Saw a previous sexual partner in my neighborhood today. Felt a slight jolt of intrigue energy.
Prayed “Sister, may no harm come to you from me”...and the energy dissipated.
Strength Office 446
What heals the mental illness of addiction?
Reading spiritual literature
Strength Office 447
When I am actively sexual it is important, when physical intimacy is over, to move quickly back to chaste thinking.
Strength Office 448
"Why shouldn’t we laugh…we have recovered"
Big Book p. 132
Strength Office 449
To the best of my ability, I need to “Think, think, think “, to remember the devastation of my last addictive run.
Strength Office 450
Mental Strength B Office
Therefore, the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind rather than in his body.
Mind is the principal thing.
The world will tell us that the senses cannot be controlled. We should reply they certainly can be.
Prayer is the key of the morning and the bolt of the evening.
As we are, so are the times.
Strength Office 451
Reading good books is an excellent tool for maintaining mental wellness
Strength Office 452
We believe that 98% of addictive disorders is mental obsession and only 2% physical compulsion, based upon the number of minutes you masturbate divided by the number of hours of the week.
If it is true that we can stop all compulsion, the question we must ask is... “Is all addiction truly stopped if 98% of the disorder is mental obsession?
How does the mental obsession of addiction manifest in addicts?
During addiction the obsession manifests, at first, with predominance of thinking of acting out, how much fun it is and when it can be done again.
Later, as problems develop, it manifests as an obsession to stop the behavior.
Then, in early recovery, the mental aspect of the disease is mostly manifest through resentment and fear.
Later, in long term recovery, the diseased part of the mental state manifests in anxiety and depression.
Finally, with persistent inventory, prayer and service the mental obsession is lifted, the soul becomes available and peace is possible..
Before the final peace of mind in recovery,
Before the anxiety and depression that proceeds peace of mind,
Before the resentment and fear that precedes anxiety and depression.
Before the obsession to try to quit acting out on my own,
before the obsession of acting out which precedes the obsession to quit acting out,
as the Big Book says, on p.88, our minds “were undisciplined”.
It then says, in Step Eleven, that through prayer and meditation, “God disciplines us”.
I don’t mind having my mind disciplined by God, through prayer, if being undisciplined was one of the things that originally set me up to be an addicted way back before I was 15 years old.
Yeah...Sign me up...I am open to lots of prayer.
Strength Office 454
Without exercise...mental wellness is impossible.
Strength Office 455
Addiction Number 22
I first became aware of the internet when a older sponcee of mine declared in an SLAA meeting that he was “addicted to internet porn” in 1992...I didn’t even know what that meant.
I had stopped masturbating two years before and while I worked with him hard to stop masturbating I wasn’t taking the internet too seriously.
The internet in the 90’s was brought to American homes through AOL, but it was like the American Wild West: 7th graders posting their latest book reports, guys displaying their comic book or record collection catalogs and an occasional oddball trying to explain fractal theory...but it was mostly guys.
In 2003 “My Space” became popular with my 9 year old daughter who I got custody of and raised myself.
In 2008 Facebook smashed My Space and began to rule the teenage life. There was still very little advertising and so people began to see the internet as a teenaged plaything.
In 2011 Arab Spring occurred and several governments were threatened or destroyed and the protesters primary tool was Facebook...that’s when I changed my mind and joined in.
I quickly saw the danger, not of actual sexual contact, but of romantic and sexual intrigue, on Facebook, and so I started a secret Facebook site called “Monks” for people who were striving for sexual sobriety with an emphasis on successfully completing a 60 day period of chastity.
By 2019 Monks were helping 1750 men in 89 countries do their daily sexual inventories, particularly in extremely poor developing countries.
Suddenly, 10 months ago, March of 2020, someone hacked our account, Facebook deleted it and nine years of daily inventories were lost.
I had to rethink our approach.
Along the way I had met a young man in an SAA meeting.
He was so high on pot that his eyes looked like two red pinwheels spinning round.
He asked me to sponsor him and we got him into sexual addiction inpatient treatment. we got him to stop drinking, using pot, masturbating, and got him a job, but...
He was totally addicted to video games and watching TV and Facebook...hours and hours and hours.
There was a brand new treatment center, exclusively for internet addiction, started in Oregon but he refused to go.
I am not addicted to the internet, but what I have noticed in the last 10 months not being on social media is that I have more time.
I have become interested in non-electronic things, specifically writing acoustic music.
I write more prayers for PrayerCall and I run outside even than than I used to.
I read more books and have joined, and started a second, Finnegans Wake weekly reading group.
I think what I miss on social media is the hope that PrayerCall would continue to grow through that platform...but what I have actually found is peace of mind through the humility of anonymity...and that is pure gold, for me.
So, can Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Television, Netflix, Amazon, EBay or anything on the internet become addictive?...of course.
What is addiction? It is a behavior, or use of a substance, which changes my feelings, that is used habitually, to the point that my life becomes unmanageable.
The solution, as always, is to start being honest with myself that something is hurting me, admit powerlessness and then ask God for help.
Kinda simple, really.
Strength Offices 456
Help me to do your will, which I know to be to “Lighten up”.
I think my severity would wither a flower.
Help me to lighten up for myself, for those around me and probably for you...who so sure are tired of hearing all my ponderous gravity.
Strength Offices 457
Help me to remember that “The acme of humility is to be able to laugh at myself”.
One of the great about being sober is that I don’t have to go to bad meetings.
When I am acting out, in anything, I will go to any meetings I can find.
But when I am completely free from addiction, I have the “Wisdom to know the difference”.
Some people say “ There are no bad meetings “ ...to which I say:
“ You haven’t been to enough meetings “.
Strength Offices 458
Help me to “Not take myself too seriously”
Hell, I should be in jail for some of the stuff I did with women, money, alcohol and cars.
Driving 105 mph when I had drunk 11 beers....
Having sex with other men’s wives in their houses...
God loves drunks and fools...and I was both.
I have absolutely no reason to take myself “too damned seriously”.
Strength Offices 459
“Why don’t you choose your own conception of God?“
Page 12 Big Book
For two months I have participated in Zoom Christian book club with the priest that helped me start getting sober 40 years ago.
The priest, while the most dynamic Christian I had known, 40 years ago, is now so obese that he wears nothing but extremely large black sweatshirts to hide his shame of girth.
There are 16 people, 4 of them men.
They are all in their 50’s to 70’s, upper middle class, liberal, white, mostly widows, spinsters and therapists.
We have been reading a horribly negative book called “The Denial of Death” which is so creepy that I have actually had nightmares about it.
I don’t feel safe...
So, I have to ask myself “What is it about me that needs to be accepted by them?”
Because I leaned on this church so heavily when I first got clean and sober I have the delusion that this group of church people is what Christianity truly is...and I do not want to be left out of my religion.
But the truth is I do not believe what they believe.
The truth is that, after 57 years of being a “ cradle Episcopalian “ I studied for a year and became a Catholic.
I am no longer one of them.
Also, while my religion is important to me, it does not come before my program.
I believe that overeating and not exercising enough is my number one addiction problem.
I believe that God will help me if I ask Him.
I believe that the Healing God manifests in community.
I am leaving...
Strength Offices 460
“Why don’t you choose your own conception of God?“
Page 12 Big Book
Friday January 15, 2021
Reverend Gray Temple,
I remember you in the early 1980’s.
You cut quite a figure and remain, in my mind, as the most enlightened Protestant priest I have ever known.
You were able to share the truths of the Gospel with the tenderness of a therapist and the ready, responsive humor of professional nightclub performer.
It was impressive…
I want to ask you to explain something to me.
Please do not hear this as the rebellious, aggressive, arrested adolescent, spoiled brat that characterize all addicts early in recovery,
but rather as a genuine inquiry for something that seems like gnostic-feeling information.
I want to ask you about Jesus…
First, I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, if nothing else because time is named after him.
I mean they didn’t name it after me...or you.
So, you have got to have done something pretty special to get time named after you.
That being the case, I assume since the fall of the Roman Empire (until recently when people started using that silly BCE icon),
I have a tendency to believe that the Resurrection is real.
If you can beat death, getting time named after you seems like a decent “Bennie” as your wife used to say.
If that is true then it only makes sense that Jesus would be alive now.
I mean, what good is a Resurrection, if you just die later?
So, I believe Jesus is the Son of God, that he did rise from the dead and is living at this very moment.
By the way, this intellectual syllogistic reasoning aside, I have quite a different personal experience of Jesus, where I knew direct contact twice, once when I was seven years old in Kentucky Summer Bible School and once when I was 64 years old, in a Laos, of all places.
But, personal experience aside, here is what I do not understand:
My second favorite line in the Old Testament is from Jeremiah “ No one repents of his sins, saying, “What have I done?”
I understand that I am a sinner and done wrong, hurt people, made mistakes, that I have acted ignorantly or out of pride, or just been willful and selfish,
I get that.
What I don’t get is why I need Jesus.
What is the spiritual mechanic that makes him useful? Why would I need Him to help me out?
Now it may be Narrcisstic Personally Disorder or Pyschopathologic Personallty Disorder, both of which my Daddy had, and may have rubbed off on me...perhaps.
My blindness, I suspect, it is because I have a couple of pretty handy spiritual tools: Moral inventory and Making Amends, that , perhaps in my ignorance, kind of put Jesus out of work, like the Detroit auto manufacturers in the 1970’s, or all the electric guitar players in the world in 2008.
I am aware that I have never really understood this spiritual mechanic.
Once, in a conversation in your office, one day in the early 80’s you said to me, after discussing Christianity, “You need a God with more torque”.
There was a 1986 William Hurt movie with a terrific title, but not such a good movie, called “Children of a Lesser God. I have found that God. A God that heals the sick.
That is the God I worship...
There is a workaround which I have used to help ease Christians into recovery for the last 32 years and that is John chapters 13-16. The Holy Spirit, as God in community, is something the frightened newcomer can trust.
But if you could explain this to me, simply and clearly, I would really appreciate filling this particular hole in my understanding.
PS: Be aware that I may want to ask to post your response on our website for other people’s edification...
By the way, I just read this to my spiritually gifted wife and she said “Too many words”...
Strength Offices 461
“ Why don’t you choose your own conception of God?“.
Page 12 Big Book
Originally...AA did not allow women, African-Americans, homosexuals, Jews, drug addicts or blue collar workers.
Originally...AA used the New Testament for four years until the Big Book was written.
Originally...there were no 12 steps, for the first four years.
That changed rather quickly, AA adapted and became more flexible and more open.
Today I choose three things about God today:
1.“Spirituality without sacrifice means nothing” Gandhi
2.“Ultimately, the Second Step helped us define spirituality for ourselves.” Hope and Recovery
3.“ I shall have no other God’s before you”. First Commandment
Strength Offices 462
“ You have lead me out of the land of slavery, therefore I will have no other God’s before you”.
HP, thank you...
Thank you for taking away the compulsion and the desire to drink.
Thanks for helping me stop smoking cigarettes, by using the 12 steps. They were killing me, as they killed Bill Wilson and my mother.
Thanks for helping me lose 60 pounds and keep it off for 30 years. This killed most of my family, on both sides.
Thanks for helping me not masturbate. It took away all my self-esteem, masculinity and self-love.
Thanks for helping me to stop taking pills. That’s what killed my favorite musician, Hendrix.
Thanks for helping me stop using caffeine...it made me narcissistically crazy to be around.
Thanks for helping get out of debt. I don’t feel imprisoned anymore.
Thanks for helping me through my victimhood, and getting me in touch with my anger, so that I am no longer afraid of life, of people.
Thank you, HP.
Strength Office 463
Steve’s Question: If you could explain why I need Jesus to me, simply and clearly, I would really appreciate it.
Priest’s Answer: Maybe you don’t. He said he’d come to seek the lost. You aren’t lost.
Priest’s question: Is there anything else about Jesus that interests you other than his service as a moral detergent?
Steve’s Answer: Yeah, I like his monetarily policy “ Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness...and all these shall be added to you”
...I kinda feel like the Jewish comic:
“If only God would give me some clear sign! Like making a large deposit in my name at a Swiss bank.”
Strength Office 464
I have cured addiction...as long as I “maintain my fit spiritual condition” and don’t relapse, one day, three hours at a time.
Act With Courage and All Addictions Anonymous both believe that this is truly possible.
How do I maintain that recovery?
Old school AA...Inventory, Prayer and Service.
What does full recovery look like?
Getting Recovery is pretty much the same for everyone: Meetings, Getting a Sponsor, Step-work, Finding a Conception of God (that works for you), Studying the Literature, Helping other Addicts
But Freedom from addiction is very individualized.
The Big Book says “We absolutely insist upon enjoying life”
I love to write and play wild, weird, wonderful music.
Strength Office 465
“The 600 pound telephone”.
For the first six years of recovery I never called anyone in program on the phone.
I didn’t have a sponsor. I didn’t have any program buddies. I didn’t reach out serve any newcomers.
I did go to meetings, read the Big Book and did written step work.
That worked…sort of.
I didn’t drink, which was my “Primary Purpose”,…but I was smoking two packs of cigarettes a day,
masturbating daily, cheating on my wife, I was 60 pounds over weight,
taking handfuls of prescribed meds, and I was deeply in debt…but I wasn’t drinking.
Then I slipped and lost 5 years, 7 months and 3 days of not drinking…but who’s counting?
It was love addiction that sent me careening over the edge…I had never even heard those two words put together before.
So…I “Picked up a white chip” and started my sobriety time over.
I started going to meetings every day...two, three, four or sometimes even five…and I mean hour meetings, not the streamlined, ultra-content, emotionally connected format that we use at PrayerCall.
I mean the 30 minutes to drive to the meeting, sitting in hard chairs, drinking coffee AND smoking three cigarettes while eating cupcakes and cookies while people shared for an hour, and then you drove back home for 30 minutes meetings.
I heard a guy say something in an AA meeting “ I never really let anybody know what was really going on with me”
…and it was like a bell going off in my head.
I began talking in meetings…it was weird, frightening but thrilling.
Then I heard a woman say that “ Humility was reaching out for help” and I finally, finally, finally…asked someone to be my sponsor.
I was so rife with unresolved father issues that I was petrified to let anyone suggest to me what to do.
Finally, I heard a guy in an Adult Children of Alcoholics meeting say “ You are helping other people when you reach out for help, because you give them the opportunity to serve.”
That broke down the door.
I had believed that I was imposing on people, that I was being a pain in the ass, the I was a burden, if I called someone for help.
The truth was I was giving men (and I did not call women at the time because I wasn’t sober enough, yet,) the opportunity to find God through service.
I became like a born again preacher, calling everyone I knew, draggin’ ‘em into the Church of 12 step.
I noticed something as I was saving the world. If I called and talked to five people a day...I would never act out, ever.
Then the 600 pound telephone became light, easy..and even playful.
One call at a time…
Strength Office 466
Saint Augustine said that “Perfect moderation is more difficult than complete abstinence”.
But…It is equally true that “Moderation is not a newcomer issue”.
I have to first learn how to abstain fully and completely from sex, love, romance and relationship before I launch out into being actively sexual or begin a new relationship.
In the SLAA I grew up in they recommended a minimum of 60 days of complete chastity, that means no genital contact with myself or others.
Also, for relationship/love/romance addicts a period of one year was recommended.
I did both and both were life giving, because I learned not to be dependent on sex or a relationship to make my life bearable.
Once I do that I am free.
But, there is a codicil.
Like Gandhi, Pythagorus, Saint Paul, The Book of Proverbs and the Gospel of Matthew says, there is s price to pay for orgasmic sexuality. There is a loss of energy.
Once I am free from all compulsion, meaning I can say “No” and make it stick, then I have the choice to be sexual and I have the responsibility to decide how much sex to have.
As an addict, I tend to be extreme. If something feels good I want to do it all the time.
I find sex is like money. I can save it, or I can spend it but I can’t do both with the same money.
But, if I am able to be honest I can say “ I know the power, clarity, and social resilience of chastity and I know the physical joy of orgasmic sexually and I choose to be sexual today…and I accept the natural losses that occur.
It’s okay to save money. It’s okay to spend money…it’s not okay to go broke
Strength Office 467
One of my students played with Hendrix and sang for Zappa.
He used to say “ People say that I am crazy...but, I am “.
In truth, I was pretty extreme all my life.
I understand why.
As a child the only tool I have to cope with extreme hurt is denial.
When I deny the truth, as the Big Book says I start to live the “ Warped lives of blameless children”.
The truth of my pain is in one part of my head and my denial is in another part and I vacillate between those two parts which makes me appear extreme, when in reality it is just me coping.
Solomon, the second wisest man of all time, said in Ecclesiastes “The man who fears God will avoid all extremes.”
God help me to be moderate...so that I can love you better
Strength Office 468
The last two months with COVID, and being comfortable with where my recovery is, I have had the opportunity to look back, pre-recovery, 40 years ago, and see if there were anythings that I wanted to keep in my life.
I really loved the years I spent as an avant-garde artist, so I went back and gradually, steadily and acceleratedly recaptured my skills.
I now have four groups: a duo with a stand-up bass player, a trio with piano and standup bass, a duo with a flautist, and a two-man video group that reads and records Finnegan’s Wake each week.
It is a reward I give myself for staying away from Caffeine/Food and for letting go of my daughter.
It is SO fun...
But, it cannot take the place of my spiritual life.
As AA says “ Don’t let the life that AA gave you, get in the way of your AA life.”
For me, now, my spiritual life is about intense exercise, and even more importantly, scrupulous weighing and measuring of my food and food selection...mostly of raw, organic and living foods.
That opens the gate to other things...for me, weird, wild, wonderful music.
Strength Office 469
Life without peace of mind...is just madness.
Endlessly paying bills, trying to get through school, finding a mate, raising the children, saving for retirement, buying cars and homes.
Without peace of mind it is only “periodic obsession”.
The only way to peace of mind is to find my soul...and I can only do that if I stop my addictions.
So, my choices are: Peace of mind...or madness.
Strength Office 470
For Olafur, by request:
Even if I have all the recovery in the world..
If I have stopped drinking and using any type of drugs, which is where many of us start our recovery.
If I have stopped porn, masturbation, using prostitutes, or sex addictions more subtle forms: objectification, fantasy or intrigue,
If I have kicked that most pernicious of addictions tobacco in all it’s forms: cigarettes, pipes, cigars, snuff, chewing tobacco, vapes,
If I have lost all the weight I want to lose and can stay away from foods that hurt me. Food Addicts Anonymous says, minimally, flour and sugar.
Even if I have beat that most accepted form of addiction, that 95 % of the earth uses…caffeine
I will not have peace of mind… I may be “happy, joyous and free”, but I will not have peace of mind
If I let go of Facebook, Instagram, online dating sites, and all the subterranean hookup sites
If I let go off video games, Netflix, The New York Times News Blurbs and watching TV,
If I have surrendered all relationships, love and romance addictions with crazy people doing crazy things,
If I have gotten rid of all my debt, stopped underearning and stopped workaholism,
I still will not know my soul…I will still not have peace of mind.
If I have faced my childhood issues, my codependency, my victimization, my narcissism, Al-anonism and even Anon-anonism
If I have looked at religious addiction, academic pursuit addiction and artistic preoccupations,
I will be free…but not at peace
All these things need to be looked at, but to know peace, I must find my soul, and that is done through meditation.
It is not complicated. The AA 12x12 says “We repeat to ourselves, a phrase that has appealed to us in our reading.
Just saying it over and over…”
That is where we start, by just disciplining our minds…I mean, tell me honestly, “Does your mind wander through the day?”
Then, when I have just the tiniest bit of meditation muscle, I can try part two: move from repeating a phrase to counting my breaths and focusing on my solar plexus, according to Socrates, the wisest man in history…
See what happens. You may only connect with your soul for a millisecond. But, it’s like learning the guitar, the more you practice the better you get.
And one day, not too far off, you reach your goal, you find your soul and know deep peace…and your whole world looks different.
Strength Office 471
“We often tend to slight serious meditation and prayer as something not really necessary.”
There are number of theories about why people are addicts.
The simplest is that you do something too much...and you become an addict, whether it is drinking or masturbating or overeating.
Then there is the theory that it is genetic, that there is a neuro-chemical predisposition, stemming from your family history, that pre-disposes you to become an addict.
Then there is the belief that addiction comes from a reaction to childhood abuse.
The last two points of view are the “Nature versus Nurture” arguments.
People can really angry and defensive about all three of these perspectives.
I have seen any and all three of these be true in different individuals with different constellations of addictions.
What I am certain of, is the old AA adage...We addicts refuse to “Live life, on life’s terms”.
I believe that the best way for human’s to live life is doing three simple things each day:
1.Take a short inventory each day...to see how you did
2.Pray and meditate some every day
3. Spend some time serving others and balancing that with self-care
I would like to say how smart I am for discovering this formula for success...but it is really just steps 10, 11 and 12 from AA.
“We often tend to slight serious meditation and prayer as something not really necessary.”
I remember the first time I ever heard someone who took prayer seriously.
She said “We are getting together from 2:15 to 3:45 to pray”.
That felt bizarre just hearing it, like “Why would anybody do anything as strange and useless as that?”
I did not join her because I had an aversion to looking weird at the time.
Six years later I was deep in recovery from alcohol, sex, food, debting and victimhood, among other things, and I needed a really experienced sponsor. I found a monk who was also a psychotherapist. What are the chances of that?
He prayed five times a day, seven days a week.
I have never known anyone in 12 step who was that gifted spiritually, so I started praying and meditating...a lot.
The 12x12 says that most people are either anxious or depressed.
I find that meditation relieves and can even eliminate these two things.
That’s a pretty good reason to meditate.
I am in touch with my anger, so depression has been gone from my life for 32 years, but I feel anxious often:
Will there be enough money? Fights with my landlord. Mundane sorts of things.
But meditation is, for me, a balm for that.
There are many ways to mediate, but I like to do it with others.
I find “God in community” works best for me.
So, I go to prayers five times a day and just listen to the words, like my most gifted sponsor did.
Also, I like to surrender my thoughts throughout the day, count my breaths (to keep new thoughts from entering) and just see what kind of intuitions my Higher Power has for me.
The 12x12 says “Now and then we may be granted a glimpse of that ultimate reality which is God's kingdom”.
For me, the Kingdom of God is within...it is my soul.
Meditation reminds of that truth.
Strength Offices 472
When someone attacks me through shame, blame or control I feel abused.
I feel hurt, needy, sad, lonely…always.
Attitudinally, because of being unaware of my own choices of attitude as a child, I unfortunately default to self-pity.
My needs for safety, love and belonging and esteem of others immediately stops being met.
The other more subtle needs like: contentment, creativity and peace of mind, are completely out of the question.
My body armor’s, kind of like a turtle receding quickly beneath his shell.
I feel my chest tighten, my fists clench, my teeth grind, my face sweat, my eyes glint.
Other than my attitude of self-pity….God build me that way.
So the first thing I need to do is change my attitude and be grateful for my challenges from this adversary.
“Love always protects” and sometimes I must fight…and I do, without hesitation.
But later, when it is calm it is important to, as the Big Book says, “Try to see how I have put myself in a position to be hurt”.
That is really important, spiritually, because otherwise I start at least being resentful, or worse, fall into a victim posture, which is addictive behavior.
My landlord attacked us yesterday, financially.
How did I put myself in a position to be hurt?
After our successful 4 year law suit against him I, very foolishly, thought he would change his behavior .
I was wrong…and I admit it.
What’s important is for me to realize the I am powerless over my landlord, that my life becomes emotionally unmanageable if I think he will change,
that I need to be restored to my own sanity, and to turn my life and will over to the care of God as I understand Him.
This is an opportunity to get closer to God, if I choose it.
“Make your enemies your friends” as the Long B Office says…
Thank you Mr. Landlord. You are my teacher today…and I am grateful.
Strength Office 473
Wisdom...”Take what you can use and leave the rest”.
Philo is the Greek word for Love
Sophia is the Greek word for Wisdom.
Philosophy is Love of Wisdom.
I am not interested in philosophy...but I am interested in wisdom.
From 1981 to 2005 there was a strong, true and courageous man who anchored the most popular television nightly news of the day. People, including me, liked him a lot.
Then he made a mistake by airing unsubstantiated documents.
He was fired, his career and reputation were permanently ruined.
Gandhi married at 13 and took a vow of celibacy at 38.
At 76, after his wife died, he began to sleep, naked, with young virgins.
At 77, seeing what an egregious mistake he had made, he repented and eschewed that behavior forever.
Bill Wilson the founder of 12 step cheated on his wife all the years he was sober.
Moses murdered an Egyptian and was not allowed to go to the Promised Land.
King David murdered Uriah the Hittite and raped Bathsheba.
Jesus claimed that no one gets to God except through him.
(My Muslim, Jewish and Hindu friends might be, at least, the tiniest bit put off.)
John Kennedy cheated on his wife with Marylin Monroe, Angie Dickinson and Audrey Hepburn.
Elvis, Hendrix, Michael Jackson and Prince all died from personal misuse of pills.
All these are true, but...
Am I not going to read the 23rd Psalm, the Ten Commandments, or read the Big Book because of this?
Will I not go to 12 step meetings, read Gandhi’s writings on food, twist to Hound Dog or marvel at the solo in Manic Depression?
I believe in holding people accountable and I have a zero tolerance policy for abuse.
For a while I wouldn’t listen to Beethoven because he was such a wretched drunk.
I wouldn’t read Hemingway because he killed himself.
I wouldn’t watch Robin Williams movies, who I knew personally, because he wouldn’t get sober.
I believe in boundaries and I want to stay away from dangerous people. I need to feel safe...I get that.
But, I also strive to practice forgiveness, and even more so...mercy (When I am in my best place...catch me on good day)
There is a gift that, for whatever reason, God gave to these people.
I want to read the Davidic Psalms and feel the comfort of the living God.
I want to remember that “God is Truth” and that “Religion without sacrifice means nothing” from Gandhi.
I want to listen to the last 17:45 of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony...it keeps me from getting to big for my britches.
I want to relish in the incomparable beauty of the thought “ Blessed are the merciful, for they shall know mercy.”
I want to practice the 12 steps as a pathway to God which, as John Bradshaw and I agreed upon, is the best spiritual writing since the Koran.
I want to remember to place no other God’s before the one that rescued me from slavery.
I am grateful to John Kennedy for getting us through the nuclear night in November of 1962 when we all went to bed and we were not sure that there would actually be a world in the morning.
I am grateful to Dan Rather for guiding us nightly for 24 years.
I may not want to be married to Gandhi, Bill Wilson, Beethoven, John Kennedy or King David, but...
“I can take what I can use...and leave the rest”
That seems like the wise thing...
Strength Office 474
COVID-19 pandemic was bad for lots of people.
“Sheltering in place” required a great deal of patience, but my wife and I adapted.
I spent the last two months recapturing guitar skills in the avant-garde that I had neglected for 40 years.
The “need for creativity“ is the highest need there is, before peace of mind.
And it’s fun...
But peace of mind is still the highest need there is.
Today, after my wife got up, I lay in bed for 45 minutes and counted 500 breaths.
Every time my mind would wander to the administrative duties I had to execute, the financial responsibilities I had to negotiate, or the strained relationship with my landlord...I surrendered those thoughts and focused on my breathing, as a way to practice Step 11.
It changed my “attitude and outlook” on the whole day.
However, I’m not interested in just meditating all day and all night. I’m interested in having fun, too.
My wife likes to sew, while I write music.
She likes to look at YouTube videos, while I read books.
A couple of times a week we usually watch a movie on our laptop.
Our physical intimacy has changed recently and we have enjoyed that even more...You would think after four years of being together 24/7 we might have lost interest....But that’s not true in relationships where sharing feelings is the primary connective tissue.
We also like to bike and run 5 miles on alternating days.
We got an electric broiler and my wife has really enjoyed cooking recently.
We go for walks in our neighborhood every night with our son...parading him.
All those things meet my “need for contentment”.
Need for contentment, proceeds the need for creativity, which proceeds the need for peace of mind.
So, I want to be contented and I want to be expressively creative, but I still have a yearning, a longing, a need for peace of mind.
Meditation on my soul does that...And makes all my other activities look sane, because of the perspective it brings.
Strength Office 475
Olafur asked me to write about the Damning God and the Loving God.
In ACA I learned that most people’s fear of God is really just Dad with long hair, a beard, sandals and a poorly fitting robe.
Ask yourself this question: Does the God I believe in, and my father, share any character traits?
As a child my God was strong, fierce, quick to anger, negative in judgement, humorless and rigid...kinda like my Dad.
Also, I learned, from a gifted therapist that I used to teach blues harp to, that the human brain doesn’t fully develop until 23, that humans have the longest period of time to develop as children into adulthood and that, like it or not, as a human, your parents are your Higher Power until you are 14.
That’s about the time adolescents start experimenting with various religious groups, smoking, drinking, drugs and begin forays into adult sexuality, because they are, necessarily, starting to differentiate from their parents.
Because of that, if your mother and father weren’t perfect, and no one’s are, there’s gonna be some kind of God confusion headed your way.
On the other hand, if you are from an Abrahamic religion (Christian, Jew, Muslim, B’hai or Rastafarian) who comprise 56 percent or 4.4 billion people you have had access to the teaching of the splendid Jewish prophets.
These guys did something amazing.
According to the Greek and Jewish scholar Edith Hamilton (who Bobby Kennedy read as he was grieving the murder of our most beloved President John Kennedy) the Prophets brought the concept of mercy into the world.
Historically, it is a little confusing because the prophets are sandwiched in the middle of the Bible instead of the beginning where they actually belong chronologically, according to her.
So mercy, not the Law, was brought into the world first by God.
That puts a different spin on things.
Now while these guys brought the tenderest of mercies to us, from a newly revealed Loving God, they were tough old men.
They didn’t have crucifixes, robes, churches, air conditioners, Bibles, pipe organs, the body and the blood, choirs, day care, parking lots or bingo nights on Wednesday to help them carry their message.
They were half-crazed looking, older, bachelor men living on the edge of the desert which was inhabited mostly by highway robbers, scorpions and mountain goats.
They were living in harsh conditions and they spoke roughly.
I have been in 112 degrees everyday for weeks in Southeast Asia, but in the Prophets hometown desert it gets to 120 degrees....That’ll make anyone quick tempered.
Listen to some of their words:
“Repent and Live”
"I am against you" declares the Lord.
“Turn from your evil ways and your evil practices.”
“You will be filled with shame instead of glory.”
4.4 billion of us were exposed to this writing, so it is no wonder the majority of us are afraid of God.
Add that to the preceding childhood development issues with perfectly flawed parents and, if you don’t know what you are doing...you are pretty much doomed with God.
However, this predicament has been handled quite deftly by the contemporary prophet (that just means someone who speaks for God) Bill Wilson who asks the most radical question asked in 4000 years:
“ Why don’t you choose your own conception of God?”
That one line destroys everything that proceeds it.
Suddenly 4.4 billion people are free.
Gandhi couldn’t have dreamed of racking up those kind of numbers in newly freed-up peoples.
So, what is God now? Or rather what is our understanding of God now?
G.O.D. is “ Good Orderly Direction “.
G.O.D. is “ Group Of Drunks “.
G.O.D. is “ Gift Of Desperation “.
Gandhi says “ God is Truth “.
The New Testament says “ God is Love “.
Here are some pretty reliable places that you might find God:
‘’ God is present when people are honest and open with each other. “ Anonymous
This is true because both love and truth are present at the same time, so you’re really in God’s wheelhouse.
God is present when you are in a meeting and you hear something that resonates with you...and you feel the truth and love.
God is present when you are with your sponsor and you hear something that resonates with you...same reason.
Notice that other people are present in all the above three examples.
Finding God is not easy and can make you crazy.
Finding God with others is wiser, safer, more enjoyable...and more likely to succeed.
Strength Office 476
I meditated for an hour, before I got out of bed, on the first three Steps yesterday, but I didn’t follow up my meditations with any action.
Today I meditated 45 minutes before I got out of bed, but rather on Steps Ten and Eleven.
In my Step Ten I found that I had been recently, just a little, “ Putting the life that AA gave me in front of my AA life”.
I had been overdoing it a bit (Imagine that!) when it came to music, trying to make money and reading.
Additionally, what came up in meditation, from our 9:00pm meeting on “Gandhi on Food” last night, was:
“Those who make light of dietetic restrictions and fasting are as much in error as those who stake their all on them.”
My program the last four years has been about food and exercise...but I gently need to remember that life, a good happy life...is really about service.
And that service is a balance between “enlightened self-interest” and caring for others.
In my Step Eleven this morning, I felt the need to connect with God.
In the Big Book it says “We found the Great Reality deep down within us".
"In the last analysis it is only there that He may be found.”
So, instead of praying to the God outside my skin line, I listened to the “God within“,
my “Still, small voice” as Kings I says.
I could hear that I was doing well, but needed a correction in my course.
Not a big deal, just a slight adjustment...by doing a bit more service for others.
Be expecting more Offices...
Strength Office 477
In the last two months of “Sheltering in Place” I have had the rare privilege practicing the guitar a lot while looking back at the musical heroes of my youth.
I love John Cage’s courageous use of noise and silence...but I like acoustic guitars better.
I like Anton Webern’s melodies... but I like acoustic guitars better.
I like Hendrix’s guitar playing...but I like acoustic guitars better.
Are we starting to see a theme here?
But, I have made a mistake in my practicing approach.
I have always admired John Coltrane’s obsessive 12 to 15 hour a day practicing schedule. Practicing even between courses at his Thanksgiving meal.
But, Coltrane yo-yo’ed up and down 70 pounds all his adult life with his pre-occupation with sweet potato pie.
I would rather not play that well...and not feel, or look, that bad.
I must always put my recovery first...always.
Playing is great “outer circle”...but it is never “inner circle”.
Strength Office 478
What if I start looking at women when I am running?
Or start to remember previous partners while I am sharing physical intimacy with my wife?
Or desire to flirt with a woman other than my wife?
What if I start to eat more than is best for me or get a hankering for coffee or a cigar?
The first thing I do, once I recognize the craving start to appear is to pray:
With the objectification, fantasy or intrigue the light duty prayer of “Sister, may no harm come to you from me”, will work quickly and deftly, if I say it a few times.
But with all addictions this next series works:
“I admit I am powerless over “objectification” (insert other addictions) and my life is unmanageable”.
I say this over and over, sometimes for 3, 5 or even 10 minutes.
Then I pray “I have come to believe that a Power greater than myself can restore me to sanity”.
I pray this too, over and over again...until I can really feel it in my heart.
Finally, I pray “I turn my life and my will over to the care of God” over and over...until I can feel that in my heart.
With a usual temptation on a usual day, this is more than enough to solve the problem.
If praying the first three steps is insufficient, I must be honest with myself, practice some humility and find God with the help of others: Call my sponsor, go to a meeting or reach out to others on the phone or text.
But what if I am already slipping?
There are two prayers I use, depending on how much trouble I am already in:
If I am slipping and want to stop, but I am not too bad off, I will pray “Have mercy on me Lord, a sinner”. That could be useful for a day or two until I can get back on track.
But if I am up to my neck in addiction, I know it, and I can’t stop, I reach for my ultimate prayer “Cling to the Lord, and cry out for mercy” ...This always works.
Strength Office 479
“Our first objective will be the development of self-restraint. This carries a top priority rating.”
“For all restraint, whatever prompts it, is wholesome for men.”
Why is this so important to the two most spiritually influential men of the 20th century?
And what does it say about us as people?
It says that the very reason we are not whole (wholesome) is because we do not restrain ourselves from acting on impulses.
Why would we do that which is so hurtful to ourselves?
Initially, low self-esteem stemming from childhood experiences.
But, then becoming habituated, this slowly fossilizes into addiction.
I ate when I felt anxious from my very, very earliest memory, pre-18 months old.
My brother is making funeral arrangements because of his smoking.
My old early-days-of-recovery priest is an 80 year old gargantuan shell of a man who used to be a mighty force for God...until the food Humpty-Dumpty-ied him into the Stone Age.
Lord, please help me never, ever to forget these men and help me to correct the sins I see in them...within myself.
Help self-restraint as Bill Wilson says be my “My top priority “.
Strength Office 480
Every morning for nearly 33 years, unless I forgot, I have gotten on my knees and prayed “Please”.
20 years ago I began adding “I turn my life and will over to your care.”
2 years ago I added, “I thank God for my life...and my wife.”
Every evening, for nearly 33 years, I have gotten on my knees and said “Thank you”.
But, if it is accurate what AAA and ActWithCourage says, that it is truly possible to be free of all addictions, and I believe that to be true, then perhaps another prayer is now appropriate.
For months I have changed my morning and evening prayer to simply... “Humility. “
Strength Office 481
Otto Rank, the spurned contemporary of Sigmund Freud, in his brilliant book “Art and Artist” espouses the belief that artists should renounce their work, bypass therapy and become “A new human type“, with the promise of, “enjoying a greater happiness”.
That sound pretty highfalutin...But isn’t that what we do in our 6th and 7th steps?
Whatever that goal may look like...a little humility might help.
Strength Office 482
I talked to an old friend today.
30 years ago, in an SLAA group, he and I, with two others, helped distinguish between definitions of healthiness and holiness.
He was having some challenges and it was good to hear from him.
I created the A Office for him and me.
We memorized it and would call each other during the day to recite it together, taking turns.
I showed him the ActWithCourage site.
I hope he joins us...
Strength Office 483
“No person likes to think he is bodily and mentally different from his fellows.”
It’s funny. As an addict I want to be different and unique, until it comes to medical tests…and then I want to be just like everybody else.
I am grateful to be sober from alcohol, drugs, tobacco and caffeine.
I am grateful to be sexually sober from masturbation/affairs and to be thin.
These six things alone would be enough for a basis to start a healthy life.
Most people do these six things, but I know myself, and these things will hurt me.
I want to be kind, patient, loving, honest and forgiving with myself.
If that means “thinking I am bodily and mentally different from my fellows”, that’s okay...unless it comes to medical tests.
Strength Office 484
One of the peculiarities about getting better on the inside is that things on the outside that seemed okay...become “not so okay”.
As I continue to stay abstinent and grow I find that:
Certain social groups feel uncomfortable or foolish to be involved with.
Certain books seem inappropriate or useless (for me: Marcel Proust, Vladimir Nabokov or Henry James)
Certain 12 step meetings that were getting me by just don’t give me the spiritual juice I need now.
Musicians that I have had fun playing seem stuck and hold me back.
Former friendships that were satisfying seem strained.
Certain types of entertainment feel insipid.
This is as it should be...I am changing, as I pursue God’s will to the best of my flawed abilities.
If I surrender these old things to God, He will fill my cup with something new and better for me.
He always has...and all I have to do is let go of control.
Strength Office 485
We can never put our respective religions before our recovery or we will not stay abstinent, but we are called to “ Be quick to see where religious people are right. Make use of what they offer”.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Rejoice with those who rejoice.
Live in harmony with one another.
For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things...so that no one may boast before him.
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.
The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord.
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you...therefore honor God with your body.
Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer.
But if an unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.
To one there is given through the Spirit
the message of wisdom,
to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit,
to another faith by the same Spirit,
to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit,
to another miraculous powers,
to another prophecy,
to another distinguishing between spirits,
to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.
All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one,
just as he determines.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the Devil's schemes.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the Evil One.
Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.
For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.
Now make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
Test everything. Hold onto the good. Avoid every kind of evil.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise.
Strength Office 486
This is the moral basis for Western Civilization
1) I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.
2) You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above, on the earth beneath, or the waters below...for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
3) You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
4) Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
Six days you shall labor and do all your work. On the seventh day you shall rest.
5) Honor your father and mother so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
6) You shall not murder.
7) You shall not commit adultery.
8) You shall not steal.
9) You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
10) You shall not covet your neighbor's house, wife, servant, or anything that belongs to your neighbor
Strength Office 487
“Spirituality without sacrifice means nothing.”
Help me to sacrifice to you today all my food, and not just sacrifice, but to create something new, with exercise, remembering that “As with the body...so with the Universe”.
Strength Office 488
My brother is dying from Emphysema and is sending me 5 to 10 postcards a day of unrelated minutiae.
We grew up in utterly mad circumstances.
Children do what they see.
I remember what Ernest Becker said in
The Denial of Death:
“Madmen are the greatest reasoners we know. What is the one thing they lack that sane people possess?...the ability to be careless, to disregard appearances, to relax and laugh at the world.”
Have mercy on my brother
Have mercy on me
Have mercy on us all
To quote a really bad songwriter:
If we weren’t all crazy...we’d ll go insane.
Strength Office 489
If I through inexperience or ignorance I confuse my need for contentment with my need for creativity I become self-demanding.
Since the way I treat myself is the way I treat others I begin to become demanding of others...and, folks don’t like that.
But, the problem is me.
My needs have become confused.
In AA they call that “High class problems”.
Strength Office 490
The Book of Leviticus:
This is the harshest book in the Bible...yet there is great beauty in it.
An offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the Lord (editor’s note: God likes a good barbecue).
Among those who approach me I will show myself holy.
You must distinguish between the holy and the common.
I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy.
I am the Lord who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy.
A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord…
Strength Office 491
How many blessings are enough to be content?
Sobriety from my main addiction?
A relationship with God?
A humane income?
A pleasant home?
What does it take to feel satisfied?
For me, it was stopping all addictions.
That is what my life has been about.
I feel very satisfied and I feel very humble about that.
Strength Office 492
Ernest Becker in “ The Denial of Death” describes man as “a hyperanxious animal who constantly invents reasons for anxiety even where there are none.”
Whew!...I don’t want that to be true.
But when I get rid of all my addictions I find that my addictions were covering up an awful lot of anxiety.
And I find that my newly sober mind goes pretty quickly to fear and negativity if left unmonitored.
I find that once I am free I need to start finding my soul...or I will simply be madly marching around...trying to grasp one obsession after another.
When I am in touch with my soul...all my anxiousness goes away.
Strength Office 493
“He restores my soul”.
Yes, He does...but only if I do my part.
Addictions block the soul.
I have to be honest about my powerlessness in every area of my life...and that takes time, a lot of time, sometimes a lifetime.
But as my soul is immortal, that time seems small in comparison.
Strength Office 494
This is not going to be pretty, so put your boundaries up...way up.
Gandhi says “Religion and art have the identical aims...moral and spiritual elevation.”
Ellen Bass says “All the creative arts can help you connect with your feelings. This isn't about performance it's about expressing yourself.”
Here it comes...beware: Ernest Becker and Alice Miller, both profoundly respected and famous psychotherapists confirmed that Hitler needed a young female to urinate and defecate in his face while being sexual in order to be orgasmic.
As bizarre and revolting as that sounds, the tragic part of it is that both therapists believe that if Hitler had been encouraged to express his rage as a painter (and he was really a pretty good painter) he would not have needed to express himself sexually in such a manner and would not have found it necessary to commit his genocidal atrocities.
Otto Rank, Sigmund Freud’s contemporary, confirms this by saying “I have always regarded the neurotic as a failed artist”.
When you look at Hitler’s paintings you see a fragile child working hard to make his fractured world right.
It is touchingly beautiful to me that all these three people, who were having compassion on Hitler, were Jewish and that at least two of these therapist’s families were ravaged by the Nazi concentration camps.
What can we, in recovery, learn from this?
The most useful takeaway is that we can use art, not to become rich and famous, but as a tool to express our feelings instead of to act out our feelings in selfish and self-destructive ways.
For me, I like to play the guitar and write music.
For over five decades I played and wrote music for a living, but that is not therapeutic, that is being a professional.
I have been writing a Suite (which means a collection of dances) for two months called the “Anger Dance Suite”.
The title comes from a line in Ellen Bass’s manual for female survivors of childhood sexual abuse called The Courage to Heal where she blazes “Dance an anger dance”.
Again, to quote Otto Rank, “All human problems are, in the last resort, problems of the soul.”
That tells me that art, used properly, can help solve problems of the human soul.
And that, if Gandhi is correct, is what religion and art are supposed to do.
Strength Office 495
“Religion without sacrifice means nothing”.
“We found the Great Reality deep down within us. In the last analysis it is only there that He may be found.”
For 30 minutes this morning I lay still and surrendered my thoughts, as a sacrifice, to God:
Worry about my dying mentally ill brother’s madness
Joy around my musical activities
The upcoming days work
Ended childhood friendships
Old dating relationships
Thoughts around my son’s care
The IRS not sending last years refunds
My wife and I’s alternate days 5 mile run
Anything...just one thought at a time
I began to feel a presence, not see a vision, or hear a word, but simply to sense a feeling.
The most emotionally mature woman I have known once said to me “The heart is the pathway to the soul”.
That is my experience and I began to sense, after 5 or 10 minutes the “Great Reality deep down within me”.
Now...I feel forgiving towards my brother’s outbursts
Relaxed around my music
Simple around my work
Thankful for old friendships
Eager to see my son and run with my wife...
Knowing God, through contact with my soul, makes my life a lot more relaxed.
And I am humbly grateful for that.
Strength Office 496
How does modesty look?
For me, the last two months have been filled with music.
Ten different musicians, nine live sessions, nine different instruments, dozens of new scores, many hours of woodshedding on the guitar and double bass and scores of shooting live videos.
I am grateful for the opportunity that abstinence gives me to experience joy.
For me, being modest means staying simply within an acoustic duo…not a 16 piece band, on 70 city tour, ridin’ a Lear jet.
Strength Office 497
“After attaining freedom, one has one step further to go...To enjoy embodied existence as a consequence of one's good deeds as well.”
Is that really true?
Is it possible first all to attain freedom?
ActwithCourage.com and All Addictions Anonymous both believe that is true.
So what do ya do when you attain freedom?
Gandhi says to “enjoy” embodied existence.
That’s just a fancy way to say “Enjoy being human”.
Now, like the garden of Eden, there is just one simple rule “Don’t do anything addictive…that got you thrown out of the garden in the first place”.
You know: No getting drunk, taking drugs, masturbation, overeating…all that kind of stuff.
But wow, to enjoy life!
I am having so much fun playing the avant-garde music of my youth I can hardly keep from exploding.
I always dreamed of life being this way, but I could never make it happen in a consistent way.
I was just too wounded.
But the Lord my God pieced me together day after day, year after year…three hours at a time, and made me whole.
I am unspeakably grateful…
Strength Office 498
“Sticks and stones may break my bones...but words will never hurt me.”
I believe that it is your will to keep boundaries with people and to announce my limits so that other people do not hurt me, and that I do not hurt myself, respectively.
I believe that this is your will just as much as having no other God’s before you, or nor coveting another man’s wife, or not stealing....
My mentally ill brother, who is dying from emphysema, called up and attacked me yesterday, shrieking that I was controlling.
I have heard this before, but it is never from people who are healthy and can take care of themselves, it is always from someone who is out of control and blazing in their addiction.
HP, help me to have the wisdom to know the difference between boundaries and control.
Strength Office 499
My 18 month old son is very strong and, in his play can be, unintentionally, hurtful.
That is a good lesson for me:
When I have fully recovered I am very strong.
I do not want to be unintentionally hurtful to people, not physically, but emotionally.
In the light-hearted offices there is a passage on meekness:
“Meekness is a feature that I present to you.
In meekness my limitations originate from you.
In meekness, if I am honestly stronger than you, I do not utilize my power to exploit you.
In meekness I know my capacity, however I stay silent and do not gloat.”
In Numbers 12:3 Moses is described as “The meekest man on earth”.
That’s a very, very good interpersonal model.
Strength Office 500
90 days ago I ended the second relapse I have had with coffee in the last 14 months.
I have made amends for harming myself by engaging in that addiction.
However, I have noticed that I have created a small, but noticeable list of people that I have harmed since then.
I have been acting like I normally do, but I am so much stronger that I accidentally hurt people.
A musician, a book salesman and my brother are all furious with me.
I tried to make amends to the book salesman tonight, as gently as an incest-memory recovery therapist would...and he shrieked at me “You’re crazy”!
Now truthfully, the people that I love and that are healthy, are much closer to me.
I surrender these three people to God’s care.
A Sexaholic sponsor of mine used to say “You have to love some people from a distance”.
More forcefully, Jesus used to say:
“Do not give pearls to swine, what is holy to dogs, or they will turn on you and tear you to pieces”