Strength Office 501
I want to thank AA for showing me how, and helping me, to stop drinking.
I don’t know that I would have died in the last 40 years, but I do know I would have at least been in very poor health those 40 years.
Thanks for saving me AA.
Also, when I was 16 I had started drinking excessively, having sex and smoking pot and I let go of the Christianity of my youth because I wanted to do those three things and I knew my religion wouldn’t approve of that.
AA brought me back to a very different, very, very simple understanding of God : “I can’t stop...Will you help me”.
That foundation enabled a simple, but joyful life.
And finally, humility, through page 76 of the AA 12 x12 which says that the steps will work on anything that I am willing to try it on.
But, humility came to me in AA in two forms I was not familiar with:
First, “Teachability”, was having the courage to ask people that knew how to get sober to help me.
Second: As it says is the 4th Tradition on in the AA 12 x 12 “To not take myself to damn seriously”.
Thanks AA...really, thanks.
Strength Office 502
I asked my wife for us to do some chastity yesterday.
I am spending a lot of time with musicians the last two months, people who often not well versed in feelings, boundaries, limits and needs and I find myself getting banged up a bit emotionally.
I don’t want to stop spending time with them so I need to get tougher skin.
I remember Gandhi: “In Brahmacharya lies the protection of the body, the mind and the soul”.
A little chastity will help me be stronger.
Not forever...just one day, three hours at a time.
Strength Office 503
“That renunciation was the highest form of religion appealed to me greatly”
After reading this for 24 years I finally understand.
Going through the world, without knowing my soul, is just madness, in my experience.
I finally understand what monks renounce.
It is not the world. It is the madness of living in the world...soullessly.
Strength Office 504
Today was a day of chosen chastity with my wife.
Finished my Covid Inoculations, ran 6.4 miles, made some good business decisions and fought to protect PrayerCall from a predator.
Please forgive the sins of my youth.
I was like a wild raging beast tearing through the world unaware of the effect I was having on the lives of women.
Have mercy on me, a sinner.
Help me to have mercy on myself for the harm I did to myself and the waste I laid to my own life.
Help me to be pure today, just for today, three hours at a time.
Strength Office 506
At 66, I don’t get a lot sexual intrigue coming my way, but it does happen.
I am so block-headed that I never see it coming.
This time it was from a very bright male psychiatrist.
Here is my boundary that I set:
We are newly friends so you may not know this: but in my early “misspent youth”, I was, shall I say, rather promiscuous.
30 years ago I eschewed that behavior and gave up affairs and masturbation.
These days I’m very self-protective about sexual intrigue, objectification and fantasy.
As a consequence, I can’t engage in sexualized humor, double entendre or innuendo...Kind of like reading nothing but Victorian novels, LOL.
Thanks for hearing the boundary.
Strength Office 507
Since 1997, I usually think of my food affecting my sex addiction, after reading Gandhi for the first time.
But, chastity also affects my food addiction recovery.
Over and over again, in the AA 12x12, it says that we do addictive things in reaction to our poor relations with others:
Money worries, somebody says something that hurts my feelings, someone does something threatening, then I feel anxious, and I want to eat more at my meals.
Gandhi is absolutely right about one thing, if in nothing else: In chastity lies the protection of the body, the mind, and the soul.
So, if I apply that truth, and practice chastity, then when someone says or does something hurtful to me...it doesn’t hurt me
...like water rolling off a duck’s butt.
Strength Office 508
The fattest state in America…is Mississippi.
After seven days of driving to get here and two days of living my beloved Mississippi Delta…I surrender my dream to live here.
My wife went into two grocery stores asking for tofu… Both times they sent her to the dog food section.
This is not a health food community.
Strength Office 509
John Steinbeck in his book “Travels with Charlie” circumambulated America to see what had changed since the last time he had traveled around.
This is my fourth time crossing America, my third time sober.
Americans are pretty much the same: there are good, kind, loving, open and helpful people...if you approach them that way.
Then there are some folks who are shut down and cold...no matter what you do.
What I have noticed, non-recovery, is that:
- Due to e-commerce there is a huge increase in the number of 18 wheel trucks on the highway
- Loves and Pilot offer showers every 50 mils or so
- International House of Pancakes has proliferated along the highway stops
But, by far the most noticeable thing about Americans that is different from 19 years ago, 47 years ago and 65 years ago...is we are fat.
Day 16 of finite chastity with my wife.
The emotional pain is substantial, as it always is, because I am less numbed by sex.
The clarity, freedom, personal power in relationships, the intuition, the connection with you and, most importantly, the social resilience is impeccable, as it always is.
Help keep me stay true to chastity, just for today, three hours at a time.
Strength Office 511
I attended a study meeting where the author said the process of spirituality was “orderly” and further that music sometimes expresses spirituality best.
Gandhi says “A votary of truth is often obliged to grope in the dark”.
So, I don’t know about that “orderly“ business.
But, from 13 years old to 27 years old my “spirituality”, or my “something greater than myself”, was rather unclearly defined as the beauty of Jimi Hendrix’s guitar playing.
Gandhi says that “Art and religion serve the same purposes“ to elevate the soul, and, in the alcoholic family I grew up in, Jimi’s bends and vibrato were the only thing that could penetrate my loneliness, despair and self-pity.
Beethoven’s symphonies are described in a book “The Voice of God “, and if that is true of anyone musically, it’s probably him. I, too, heard God there.
John Coltrane captured my heart next with his screaming “Sheets of sound“.
He practiced 18 hours a day, so being a workaholic, that extremity really appealed to me.
Then there was my teacher, the extremely strange John Cage. There was naked truth in his music: unvarnished, unpolished, unapologetic.
I could hear God, being simply defined as something greater than myself, in others, too: Bela Bartok the Hungarian string quartet composer, Bukka White the Mississippi Delta Blues player and Louis Armstrong the incomparable jazz trumpeter and Glenn Gould the genius pianist.
Ultimately, I think that’s why people buy concert tickets, for people to see that there is something in their lives that is greater than themselves.
God, thanks for being so merciful to the rest of us who couldn’t find God with the respectable church folks.
Strength Office 512
After driving 3,700 miles to see my mentally ill brother, who I am powerless over, I stood in the shower and just wept and moaned over my entire nuclear family who were decimated by alcohol, pills and smoking.
At first, I felt confused about feeling angry and then compassionate.
I am grateful that I could be honest with myself about my anger, could feel it fully, and then move to compassion.
Kind of like the old Christian adage “Love the sinner, hate the sin”, but applied to mental health.
HP, Thank you for showing the way to be who I truly am as I let others be who they truly are.
Strength Office 513
I am so grateful that I don’t smoke.
Thank you God for the 12 steps which helped me stop 32 years ago...that, and a good bit of Nicorette, which helped.
Strength Office 514
My wife and I drove to Kansas City Missouri to meet the “Grand Old Man” of PrayerCall , Ray J.
Ray was not only the first person to be on our Board of Directors, but even more significantly, spiritually, Ray gave us confidence in the early days when he said:
- “Steve, you have been anointed by God to do this work”.
- “You must write all this down so that this work can continue when you die.”
As my wife said “He is charming, dashing, and very respectable.”
I am so grateful for two short periods of chastity which have driven
- the cleanliness of my food
- the consistency of my exercise
- the persistence of my guitar practicing
as my wife and I drove 5,000 miles to see my ailing brother.
Maintenance is not sexy...it just works.
Strength Office 516
“But it is from our twisted relations with family, friends, and society at large that many of us have suffered the most”.
I love you, but you bring up a pretty tender topic in our family: Our Uncle Don.
I really was glad to visit and see you in Tennessee this week, as was my wife Alona and my son Gummy, but I think we need a boundary around this subject.
The last time I communicated with Don was at Thanksgiving a few years ago and we discussed three things:
- Him being molested by his portrait painter in his childhood
- Don calling me up and asking me if you had molested his two children
- Jeff, our father, molesting me
This topic, I believe, in our family, is the root of all my addictions and all your mental illness.
But, I don’t ever bring up these topics with you because it triggers you.
I don’t want you go into a black rage, attack me and then we don’t talk for 6 to 18 months, as we have done in the past.
...so, I think it would be wise to leave the topic of “Uncle Don” to God...and for us to leave it alone.
Does that work for you?
Strength Office 517
Got back from an 18 day trip to visit my brother.
131.8 pounds...not rockstar numbers, but a pound below my “weight limit” (like an 18 wheeler).
Had five days of homegrown greens cut the morning we left...till we ran out in Mississippi.
Steadily did seven sets of 40 push-ups, throughout the course of the day, every day.
Ran seven times in 18 days.
The most revealing thing that I learned during this “re-creation” period, because I stayed abstinent, was that I practiced the guitar 17 out of 18 days and that creating beauty for the joy of it (the second highest human need, before knowing my soul) is really important to me in my life right now...how lucky is that?
I don’t want to spend my life fighting the food...I want to play music.
Strength Office 518
Did 16 days of chastity and then a little “shorty” of 7 days of chastity.
Both those decisions made the stresses of travel so much more manageable.
Strength Office 519
Karen Carpenter, a pretty good pop singer and a terrific drummer famously died in 1983 from anorexia by using OTC emetics.
It scared Americans, particularly young girls, into an awareness of the dangers of under-eating.
There is a sense of power, being in control and euphoria that accompanies food restriction and that can be addictive on the “Overeaters-anon” side.
Completely unrelated, the genetic celebrity, Cameron Diaz, used to say “Make hunger your friend”...I could never quite get behind that.
But what I do support, moderately, is “Make fasting your friend”.
There is now documented medical evidence, according to my doctor, that fasting increases longevity.
I have learned something new about my codependency and narcissism in my musical activities.
On the one hand I try to be a nice guy by letting other people have equal amounts of soloing time when they don’t solo as well as me. That is not good for or fair to the audience.
On the other extreme, I continually want to add more and more people to my musical group (through the grandiosity inherent in narcissism).
With these two characters defects I end up with a large group of people who can’t play very well playing long solo’s that they are not very good at.
Strength Office 521
On my 33rd AA Birthday
John Coltrane’s most beloved piece was his recording of “My Favorite Things”.
Here are a few of my favorite things about being sober for 33 years:
No hangovers…if nothing else had improved, just that physical hurt, beat-up and numb-sickness that plagued my every day until 2:00 pm...just that being gone would have been enough.
Not drinking led me to stopping taking all those pills. No Elvis, Hendrix, Prince or Micheal Jackson death for me.
Thank you God for freeing me from the opioid epidemic. More people die of pills than in auto accidents in the US now.
Stopping drinking in AA taught me how to stop addictions. I had a two pack a day smoking habit and I stopped 32 years ago, last October 23. That is really important to me because my mother died from emphysema and my brother is now dying from that at this very moment…as did Bill Wilson who started AA.
Everybody on both sides of my family, except my father (who was bulimic), was fat.
I used AA’s methods and lost 60 pounds 30 years ago.
As my wife and I traveled across America ten days ago we were shocked at the obesity levels in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and our home state, California.
I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to go to OA and FA to learn better how to take care of myself around food.
AA also lead to SLAA (and, ironically, out of AA, at least on a heart level) after eight years.
The sex addiction to masturbation and to cheating on women was deep down in my soul and it took all of 12 step’s tools, religion and most of therapy’s panoply of skills to pull me out of that abyss.
Combine that with love addiction and I was the Devil’s slave (that is, if I believed in a Devil).
But it was from recovery from this addiction that I learned how to write books about addiction, how to start 12 step groups, how to make hundreds of videos, and to write music about addiction.
It taught me the root cause of addictions.
The work I did freed me from my family of origin.
And I learned about chastity…the diamond-cutter of all 12 step tools.
I am grateful to have learned about not debting which I stopped over three decades ago. With 80% of Americans in debt and the average consumer debt being $97,727 all I can say is “Thank you God”.
There have been other gifts, too. I lived a life of madness. I didn’t know it until I stopped it.
I was always busy. Always doing something, achieving something, accomplishing something…I was a total workaholic.
Busy, busy, busy…I was a madman. The steps and breath prayer, helped me reach my soul and I finally stopped all that madness.
Then there was the soft tissue stuff. Codependence, it’s opposite narcissism (ask any of my old girl friends), al-anonism, anon-anonism (being involved with an anon who won’t get well) relationship addiction, romance addiction and victimhood (the results of an abusive childhood). As a result, I am not afraid of people anymore and that makes my life a lot easier.
There are a few other addictions and recoveries…but that’s enough.
Spiritually, I learned that I had a lot of resentments that I was holding onto that really hurt my relationships with others and myself and AA helped me get rid of those through old fashioned self-inventory.
AA addressed my fears, which were mostly of people. I was so afraid I wouldn’t talk and then they taught me to talk...and now you can hardly shut me up.
I also learned the intrinsic value of prayer, that prayer is just good mental health, no matter who or what you pray to.
There was also sanity that I learned and it was an incredibly simple technique that AA used:
The way they do that is: if you keep your sobriety first, before even your family, job or education, then you have to take one step back from those three things…and doing that, you suddenly have a new perspective on family, job and education.
It is as simple as that, and ironically…makes you much better at your family, job or education .
A stunning gift from AA was learning the value of serving others….that gave me freedom from selfishness and gave me endless joy.
Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous and Sex Addicts Anonymous would lead me out of AA as a home base after eight years, but then after twenty two years the “S” fellowships were too restrictive in their 12 Traditions and I took everything I had learned in the 37 fellowships I had participated in and started a new fellowship, Prayercall, to stop all addiction...and it looks like we just might have found a way to do that.
I learned to commit to woman and to be emotionally intimate, through sharing my feelings and why I feel that way.
I learned not to look at women as sex objects, not to fantasize about them, and not to sexualize conversations with them.
One sex-positive thing I learned from recovery was how to restrain myself orgasmically…indefinitely. If you don’t think that is a genuinely worthwhile technique…ask your wife to be brutally honest with you.
There is a Christian passage that says “Seek first, the Kingdom of God and then He will then add all these other things to you”.
I have put in my time and sought the Kingdom of God in all the above areas and my experience is that there clearly is a will of God for all of us, in all these specific areas, but God doesn’t peddle or soft-sell these things to his children. I have to want it in my own heart…and I do.
As a result I got to marry and love a woman deeply, all of me, and now that I am recovered there is a lot more love in me to share with someone else.
As a result of that love I got to father again…at 64 years old!
Finally, and only in the last 5 months, I have been able to go back 40 years to see if there was any good in my life, pre-recovery. It turns out there was. I was a pretty deft avant-garde composer, in my youth…and I am now able to do that several hours a day.
I sometimes feel sad that AA can’t hear all the things I have learned, that really spring from the life-giving roots that AA gave me, but I will always humbly remember that it was AA that was my home. They took me in when I was unimaginably sick and showed me a true Easter experience.
As Coltrane would play “These are a few of my favorite things”.
Thank you God. Thank you AA.
Strength Office 522
A relapsed alcoholic said something to me and I felt hurt, shamed, stupid and like I was wasting my time.
Hmmm...does that sound like I felt as a child with my father?
The Big Book says that we try to see how we have put ourselves in a position to be hurt.
When I was a practicing alcoholic I was negative and fearful. That’s just the way my brain was every morning after I drank.
If I ask negative fearful people for positive feedback I am putting myself in a position to be hurt.
I did that as a child, because I did not know that my alcoholic parents were negative and fearful, but I am no longer a child.
I can “put childish ways behind me”.
What I am doing is “New, fresh, exciting and fun”.
I can meet my own needs for esteem now.
Strength Office 523
If my boundaries are too permeable there are some things I can do to protect myself.
The most obvious comes from Gandhi who says “ In chastity lies the protection of the body, the mind, and the soul “.
Why does that work?
Because when I deny myself something I create strength within me with the observance of my own limits or “create an internal boundary”.
Then, when I am challenged, from without, I have the strength to be resilient in conflict.
It is a remarkable insight on Gandhi’s part
Strength Office 524
I recently read a definition of ambition that I really liked.
“An ambitious man is someone who wants people to think highly of him.”
Boy! that has been me since I was 17 and started drinking harder.
For just short of 50 years I did everything I could to be famous at something...anything!
Writing music, writing books, speaking, making videos...on music...on recovery...just anything!
I wanted fame, but, I found something in anonymity that I needed.
What I really needed was humility.
And accepting anonymity gave me the peace of mind that only humility brings.
I like it...
I don’t really like quoting the Book of Revelation because all the super crazy people refer to it as a manual for their madness.
That being said...”Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.”
I am revamping my food after 17 days on the road.
Here is the “living foods” portion for the first six days:
Six 9 oz buckwheat/sunflower sprouts green drinks
Two 16 oz buckwheat/sunflower sprouts
A 6, 9 and 10 oz wheatgrass drink
Six 6 ounce servings of live mung sprouts .
Beats that Ritz cracker, Triscuit, Vienna sausages, Spam and deep-fat-fried crawfish they were trying to peddle on us in Mississippi
Strength Office 526
The AA 12x12 says we forgive all harms “real or fancied”
Last night I had an imaginary 9th step conversation with my second wife.
We talked about what broke up our marriage, our hurts and our wrongs.
In the end we were looking for a way to end the conversation as friends, not as hurt ex-lovers.
She closed with “ Well, I taught you about having younger wives”.
We laughed…and parted friends.
Strength Office 527
Sometimes I can get into a groove, doing what I am pretty sure is God’s will.
Then all of a sudden nothing is working. That can feel baffling.
There are two kind’s of God’s will” His Universal will : Stuff like “Be honest”, “Have mercy”, “Live one day, three hours at a time”, etc.
And then there is his Specific will: Address this problem today, forgive that person, go to this particular meeting, speak to this person.
If I don’t know this about God’s will I can crash and burn and feel “cunned and baffled”.
God, help me to pay attention today for your specific will so I don’t appear to be “acting the fool”.
Strength Office 528
There is something about “living foods”, foods that were in the ground five minutes before you eat them.
There is an eye-shutting, world-weariness that dissipates in me when I eat that kind of stuff.
John the Baptist was known for his honey and locusts.
Daniel the prophet was known for his drinking only water and eating vegetables….and they didn’t do too badly for themselves.
Strength Office 529
When I look back at my life I did not get what I wanted but I got what I needed…and more than I deserved.
Even when I am completely clear of all addictions...sometimes my mind will just come up and will be interested in biting me like the hungry black bears I chanced to meet when I hiked the Appalachian Trail.
Untreated with prayer my mind can go back to being negative and fearful in a New York minute.
Chanting the first three steps over and over pulls me out of that ditch and I can move on.
Thank you God for the gift of prayer.
Strength Office 531
My father hated African Americans with a vituperativeness that I have never seen before, or since.
I did not understand that until I was 65 and my brother had found that our father’s father had another woman, besides my grandmother, who he split his time and money with...the woman was African American.
He blamed all African Americans for his father’s infidelity and time away from home.
As I hated my father’s abuse, I went to the other extreme and was not able to see any character defects in any of the African Americans I met in my childhood.
In my second year at the University of Virginia I applied and was accepted into a low income housing project.
I was the only Caucasian there.
I became friends with CG, Marshall and a third man who only described himself as a hustler.
GC stole my Fender bass guitar.
I was deeply involved in a rapidly burgeoning marihuana and alcohol addiction, and like all addicts,
I never felt the hurt and betrayal I actually felt at the time around CG.
My food is changing dramatically now...and I was finally able to feel the hurt last night.
It was painful.
As the Big Book says I had to look at “How I put myself in a position to be hurt”.
It was not because of African Americans that I was hurt. That belief would be simple racism. But, it was rather that I was reacting, extremely, to my father’s racism and was not using good judgment about the man CG, specifically.
I forgive CG. I forgive my father. I forgive myself.
Successful abstinence is worth the forgiveness.
PS: CG had some pretty hot licks on bass
Strength Office 532
I let myself be dragged around defending against a predator, by desperate friends, the Dept of Transportation, my landlord, an an inquiring producer.
I completely surrendered my serenity to these situations.
I stayed abstinent...but not serene.
I can do better.
Strength Office 533
Today, I want to give everything I have to God.
Of course, I surrender all alcohol and caffeine.
Of course, I surrender all sugar and flour.
Of course, I weigh and measure all my food.
But, I also surrender all beef and fish this week.
I also surrender all OTC medications that I used during last week’s family virus.
On a positive note I commit to doing strength exercises of 40 pushups seven times every day.
I commit to running at least every other day this week.
I also commit to having living foods three times a day through Saturday until our food meeting at 5:00 pm.
Mentally, I commit my mind to prayer, in all it’s forms, this week.
Spirituality, I am willing to be attentive to when I am in God’s presence, in all his forms.
And I am willing to be as honest as I can, as soon as I can, when I am not doing God’s will, but believe that I am...and everything is crashing down around me...so that I don’t “ Act the fool” any longer than absolutely necessary.
Strength Office 534
After 40 years of addressing every addiction that I am aware that I have, as a result of my childhood abuse, like Dr Manette in Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities, or Jean Valjean in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, I want to do something different in my life.
After staying sober I want to be a good husband to my wife and father to my son.
But, after that, I want to simply write prayers and write and play as much of the avant-garde music of my youth as I can.
If I am diligent, frugal and modest I just might be able to pull that off...with a little help from God.
As always, His will and not mine.
Django Reinhardt, the great gypsy jazz guitar player, was in a fire when he was 19 years old and burned his hand so badly that the last two fingers on his left hand were shriveled useless the rest of his life.
He was an okay guitar player up to that point. But he took the fire, and his survival, as an opportunity to be grateful for his life… And became one of the great guitar players of all time.
Strength Office 536
I am grateful for my wife’s gifts as a grower, both as a planter and a harvester.
I am grateful for her food prep of her crops, for both me and my son.
She helps us, very much, to stay alive and stay healthy.
If Gummy could express his gratitude...I am sure he would.
Strength Office 537
In 2003 I used to eat at what would become a famous restaurant Cafe Gratitude.
Woody Harrelson used to eat there.
He did a TV interview on what he was a raw, organic vegan.
He said he used to eat lot’s of meat, to get that “Narc” effect, that would put him to sleep afterwards.
That is any experience, too.
Eating too much makes me sleep too much…
Strength Office 538
I have been working 12 Step programs for 40 years now.
In the late 80’s when the Boomers were all getting sober sex addiction was the cutting edge.
It still is.
Sex addiction is the most subtle and profound of addictions.
But America has changed a great deal in 40 years.
Now food is the greatest problem.
I commit myself to solving this problem and serving others in 2021 the way I did sex addiction in 1988.
Strength Office 539
I don’t like Food Addicts Anonymous.
There are things I greatly respect. The tremendous discipline of:
Calling your sponsor each day, at the exact time, for 15 minutes
Going to three 90 minute meetings each week, without fail.
Speaking to three FA members each day…no matter how many calls you must make to do that
Reading the Big Book every day
Meditating 30 minutes every day
That’s impressive, but not revolutionary.
Then there are things that that have contributed to “Being a spearhead of God’s ever advancing evolution”:
Surrendering all flour and sugar
Weighing and measuring all food on a digital scale
Creating a Food Plan (They actually got that from OA HOW)
But there are deal breaking faults:
The absolute worst way of working the steps in all of 12 step
The authority given to people with only 6 months experience to order people not to use doctor prescribed medications
Of all the 37 programs I have attended in 40 years, with the exception of Sexaholics Anonymous, this is the most antagonist to the use of analysis of feelings as a spiritual tool.
I am grateful for the 13 years I spent in FA.
I am even more grateful that I left…and went to PrayerCall.
Strength Office 540
As I become more sober around food (and it is a direction not a destination) I find I have to be careful.
I become extremely sensitive.
I can misinterpret hurts and, as an Al-anon, I can overreact.
An old friend of mine spoke caustically to me the other day.
I obsessed about it. That was the first sign that something was wrong with me.
Then I had one of those imaginary conversations where you say “ I should have said this..and this”
I had prepared the most devastating comeback, from which I am sure he would never have recovered psychologically…when he wrote me back and apologized for misunderstanding what I said.
Thank God I have learned to “pause” from one of my ex-sponcees
Strength Office 541
Two months ago Coca-Cola was sponsoring a training program which had ancillary materials that stated “Be less white”.
They itemized what being “Too white” was:
I wondered how that approach would sound around food:
“Try to be less fat”
Don’t sweat so much
Don’t take up so much space in airline seat
Don’t switch your pictures on Match.com
Don’t wear black all the time
Don’t wear vertical stripes
Don’t lie on your driver’s license
Don’t dance in public
I don’t know…I find food addiction is an illness and I kinda think that shaming people is not gonna work.
Strength Office 542
I believe that, after going to OA and FA and having lost 60 pounds and keeping it off for well over 30 years, that you do actively participate in helping me make choices around the quantity and quality of my own personal food, every day, every meal.
If that is true, then I dare venture forth the rather bold assertion that you don’t want me to get cancer, diabetes, stroke, heart attack or Alzheimer’s from anything I eat.
One of my sponcee’s wants to rework his food plan and is curious about meat.
So I consulted your will through that current oracle, the internet.
According to US and World Report in March 31, 2021 these foods increase the possibility of cancer:
•Red and processed meat
•Processed and packaged foods
Now Lord, I raised cattle for 10 years of my life, from 12 to 22, and they are pretty stupid creatures.
I mean if you take your tongue and stick it in your nose you can’t be too bright or hygienic.
They smell like your dirty socks caught on fire and they spend an awful lot of their time walking and standing in their own poo.
But, they are like oracular surgeons compared to pigs (one of which I proudly raised when I was 12).
And cows are not too friendly a critter either...try going out to a field and petting one.
So, I am not an animal rights activist.
But, this article says red meat gives you cancer Lord and that can’t be good.
“Red meat is defined as beef, veal, pork, lamb and goat".
I raised a goat once and ate one once and it tasted pretty good...but one of my uncles, the women that convinced me to fight for custody of my daughter, and a woman who played bari-sax for me all died of cancer.
This article is only two weeks old and it says:
“There have been many epidemiological studies that have reported an association with high intakes of processed meat and red meat with an increase in cancer incidence and mortality."
“According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, a high intake of red meat is defined as more than three servings per week. A single serving of red meat is about 3 to 4 ounces”
Now Lord, I have been told by many, many, many folks in both my food programs to eat 4-6 oz of meat every day.
I feel, if not confused or conflicted, at least puzzled by this.
Now, I have learned in program that honesty is the most important thing and honestly, as a proud farmer in my youth, I can think of nothing that tastes better or makes me feel more like a winner than a seared steak cooked on an open outdoor grill.
But I don’t want to get cancer.
Help me out here, Lord.
Strength Office 543
I know you may be busy with more important things like turning water into wine and parting the Red Sea...but I could use a little authoritative help here.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic (and those are some pretty serious old boys and girls) developed a diet focusing on the foods with the most compelling findings in dementia prevention.
“Vegetables, especially leafy greens, rose to the top.”
That kind of makes sense as the stuff that tastes the worst always seems best for you.
Their discovery: Older adults whose diets were most like this had brains as sharp as people 7.5 years younger.
It seems helpful at 97.5 years old to have the mind of a mere 90 year old.
These doctors said to have “Nuts at least five times a week”.
Now I gotta say my food sponsor is not too happy with that, but she seems to think she’s got better judgment than the Mayo Clinic, even though just six months ago she daily binging and purging on Twinkies.
I don’t know Lord. I don’t want to forget where I live, or my anniversary (nothing makes my wife more incensed) or to pay my taxes (The IRS are not the most flexible folks I have ever met)...so maybe a lot leafy greens and nuts might not be so bad.
Please text...if possible
Strength Office 544
I was looking for information on Ketosis for one of my sponcees who is redoing his food plan.
There are a lot of completely unqualified people on YouTube trying, teaching for free, to get folks to subscribe to their channel so that they can get advertisement endorsements.
Ketosis is when you start eating less and your body moves to access fat deposits to meet it’s energy needs.
How do you know, technically, when you are in Ketosis?
Because, as my Mama used to say, “You feel like ya just want to slap somebody”.
Strength Office 545
Today my food was as perfect as I need it to be.
I had three 12 ounce servings of living foods, right out of the ground, within 5 minutes of harvesting.
I also had 6 ounces of raw organic nut butters as a protein and three fresh organic fruits.
Nothing was cooked, not even organic tofu.
But, as they say in Talladega Nights…”I felt a little itchy”.
Because…it wasn’t enough to feel healthy.
Health is not just about food. It’s also about exercise.
The Center for Disease Control says:
“Not getting enough physical activity can lead to heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes.
“Getting the recommended amount of physical activity can lower the risk of cancers of the bladder, breast, colon, uterus, esophagus, kidney, lung, and stomach. “
Now the CDC is not a bunch of wild, post 60’s, hippies toking on the newly legally-dispensed pot and espousing the use of Tarot cards, past life regression or channeling…
These are pretty conservative doctor type folk.
So, I ran 5 miles at midnight…and I feel peachy.
Lord, keep me at the truth…mercilessly
Strength Office 546
For two weeks plus I have pounded as much living food (food that was in the ground five minutes before) in me as my wife could grow and that I could endure.
As a recovered sex addict I noticed two remarkable things:
The frequency of arousal is dramatically increased.
The refractory period (time between orgasm and the next arousal) is dramatically decreased.
Forget Viagra...grow some plants
Strength Office 547
I am working with a woman new to recovery and we talked about the Inner Child paradigm.
At midnight I was running by the San Francisco Bay.
An ocean liner was entering under the Golden Gate Bridge.
The child in me was enthralled as he always is with big ships.
I am never leaving this place...
PS: My wife and I have agreed that when I am utterly worthless to anyone anymore (say 110 or so) we will move to the Philippines and have a fruit farm.
...on the condition that I get to smoke cigars and drink double lattes all day long.
But that’s nearly half a century from now...so I can be of service in the meantime.
Strength Office 548
Saint Augustine, my favorite saint, did not have a sponsor, go to meetings or work the steps.
He believed in two things, supremely:
Obedience is not a word we use in 12 step.
We use the word surrendered.
But if I were going to use the word obedience, what would I be obedient about?
For me, it would be to abstinent around the food...very simple.
Humility, on the other hand, means to be honest about my limits:
I can’t stay sober without daily inventory and prayer.
I can’t stay sober without serving others unselfishly.
I can’t stay sober in all the areas that are important to me to stay sober in without the help of everyone on this call.
But to do these three things, effectively, the food needs to be a non-issue.
So to reach humility, I first need to be “ obedient “...around the food.
Strength Office 549
Before the days of Walgreens and CVS there was a corner drug store where I lived who’s principal draw was a soda fountain.
To get to it you had to go through the “Health and Beauty” section, which by 10 years old I had learned to make fun of.
But, looking back now, I see that it was the women’s section.
What is wrong with beauty, or the desire to be beautiful?
When I am honest about my food I ask myself two questions:
1.How does this food make me feel?
2.How does this food make me look?
My humble amends to all those ladies I was snide to about beauty...sorry
Strength Office 550
The Paleolithic Diet has recently been touted as the ideal Food Plan.
In the Paleolithic Era the life expectancy was 25 years...
If you didn’t get killed by a Wooly Mammoth that was “as long as a bus and as heavy as two cars” you might get eaten by a saber tooth tiger, because you were not at the top of the food chain, so you were actually part of the Paleolithic Diet Food Plan...that has it’s drawbacks.
For 600,000 years people had not even discovered fire so the meat they ate was actually raw....think about eating raw meat for a moment.
When you did actually kill meat, using a stone ax, and didn’t get killed yourself, you had to binge your brains out...because there were no refrigerators.
Binging on raw meat as fast as you can, so that a larger predator doesn’t smell it and come eat you, doesn’t sound good to me.
There are some non-food other things that Paleo proponents seem to leave out in their presentations:
There was no central heat, air conditioning, indoor plumbing, running water or toilet paper.
There were no doctors, automobiles, airlines, computers or internet.
There were no books, because no one could read...
For 99% of the Paleolithic era there was no music...and when they finally did get a melody together it was only on a stone flute....Imagine Coltrane on a stone flute.
Women had to gather. Men had to hunt. There were no women’s rights. If you were a woman and wanted to hunt there was no 19th Amendment you could shove in a cold-hearted, narcissistic hunter’s face.
I think I would rather live now and make sane choices about my food.
Strength Office 551
In 2002 there was food-world explosion in San Francisco where all the weirdos live.
Raw foodists (no foods heated above 118 degrees) were claiming to be able to cure aids, cancer, have better orgasms and bring your beloved grandma back to life.
California craziness aside, is there any value to Gandhi’s suggestion that foods should be “uncooked, if possible”?
Truthfully, I find that:
The inflammation in my knees and back are noticeably diminished (this matters to me because 15 years ago my orthopedic surgeon sent me home with a 30 day supply of OxyContin and said “never work, run, or ride in a car again”)
Also, the random aches and pains that my body feels when I eat meat, dairy, or even cooked oats, cream of wheat, or cooked beans is complete gone.
My face gets this kind of shiny translucency...I ran into the kitchen last night exclaiming to my wife to look at me (like I had discovered ET, or something).
I need a lot less sleep because my body is not trying to process huge clumps of meat and potatoes with small, tender internal organs.
Virility goes up...
My mind is shockingly clearer.
I have more energy to write and play music, and be with my wife and son, which is what I like to do.
It’s real easy to stay thin.
The truth is I feel better than I feel any other time in my life.
Strength Office 552
I notice four things when I eat
1.When I chew food I feel powerful and safe
2.After three or four swallows I start to feel calmed and soothed in my brain somewhere behind the top part of my eye sockets...and my reaction, as an addict, is that I want more
3.Within about four oz of intake I start to feel sleepy, a tiny bit numb
4.After 6 ounces I feel, a little grief, briefly, like missing the power of fasting, which is gone
When I drink my food, instead of eat it, everything is the same, except I don’t have that sense of ruling over my domain, dominating the world like an angry king...that I get when I am chomping and grinding my food.
Strength Office 553
“Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.”
I have never understood this all my life, until tonight.
I did something stupid tonight. Something I knew was wrong. It wasn’t a big thing...but I did it anyway.
I immediately felt mentally, sharply negative.
I suddenly realized how that passage made sense.
All the gifts that I have gotten have been from God, so when I trash them...I am sinning against Him.
Took me 50 years to figure that out
As AA says “Sometimes quickly...sometimes slowly”
I don’t like sinning...it makes me feel creepy.
Strength Office 554
There’s an old joke:
A patient asks his doctor ” Will I be able to play the piano after the operation?”
That’s funny...I couldn’t play it before.
That being said, I am grateful that I have recovered from an illness.
Now I can play the guitar
Strength Office 555
One of the great things about being continuously abstinent is that I don’t have be as patient with myself.
I am too experienced to abuse myself with rage or self-hate when I fail.
Instead I am “positive, gentle and accepting” with myself.
I encourage myself and I am very patient with myself until I lose the 3 to 5 pounds I have gained, which only takes a few days.
But it is really nice not to have to expend that specific energy in that loving direction.
Leaves more energy to play angry guitar...
Strength Office 556
A friend of mine slipped on masturbation after 11 months.
I called him and read him this quote from the Bible:
“Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first”
I told him that I had never seen a man who lost a year or more of sobriety ever make it back.
I told him he didn’t have to come to our meetings but that, as AA suggests to newcomers, very simply “Don’t drink and go to meetings“, that he needed to find some meeting and go to it all the time...like he did when he started.
I’ve done my part.
Now, it is up to him...and God.
Strength Office 557
The spiritual leader of All Addictions Anonymous texted me today:
“Every time I see you on a meeting I’m always relieved to know we’ve got someone with a strong message. Thank you!”
I wrote him back:
I believe that it is God’s will for us to recover from all the addictions...I do not believe that God wants his children to be sick.
But ya can’t push a rope...”
Strength Office 558
How do I know when I am “ recovered “ as the Big Book states twenty three times?
If I am still acting out...clearly No
If I am still learning to stop...not yet
But even if I have completely stopped, I am abstinent, but not “ Recovered“ because I still don’t have what the Big Book refers to as “ Neutrality“.
Even then there are unexpected challenges.
I was running vert hard on the Marina Green and when I stopped to walk out two attractive twenty-something Asian girls followed me.
I wasn’t sure so I turned around...and they both turned around.
I went through the crowd and lost them, called my wife and told her what happened (she was completely non-plussed).
But there was a moment, just a moment, when I could feel the energy coursing through my body wanting me to turn around.
No matter how far down the road you are...you are only three feet from the ditch.
Strength Office 559
I have tightened up my food as far as I feel safe to tighten,
12 ounces of organic “living” greens
2 oz raw organic nut butter
6 oz fresh organic fruit
This is an incredibly boring food plan.
No fun, no sexiness and no pleasure.
But I absolutely love the way it makes me feel and look.
For me, as I learned from an abstinent man in OA 33 years ago, “ I eat to onboard fuel “.
I can’t eat to celebrate occasions. I simply can’t control it.
It’s like drinking, masturbating or coffee, for me.
As my sponsor used to say “Most people can do that...I’m just not one of them”.
Strength Office 560
There are three phrases that are instructive for physical health
"The body of the alcoholic is quite as abnormal as his mind."
"No person likes to think he is bodily and mentally different from his fellows."
"Any picture of the alcoholic which leaves out this physical factor is incomplete.”
I ran 22 miles each week for the last two weeks.
But I ran it like an old man...15 minute miles
Today I upped the speed 40%
My wife came up to me afterwards and said “You look so young”.
God has restored me to vanity...
I am going to run faster next time!.
Strength Office 561
“Promoting our own physical well being is as much a part of recovery as reprogramming our past. We live in our bodies, after all, and the condition of those bodies either limits or expands our capacity for emotional management.”
Help me to run fast today as nothing helps the length of my life or the quality of my life as much as cardio-vascular exercise...except my food choices.
Help me to run long to increase my endurance.
Help me to do many push-ups today for simple strength and not to be dishonest with myself that I don’t have time...40 push-ups only takes 90 seconds.
Help me to do yoga today for flexibility of my spine and muscles.
To paraphrase Gandhi:
“In sticking with my food/exercise/prayer program, in the face of difficulties, lies the protection of the body, the mind and the soul”.
Strength Office 562
I will give my life to God today.
I will stay abstinent with my food plan and workout today.
I will pray, as my Muslim friends do, five times today.
I will unselfishly serve others who want help today.
I will surrender my thoughts to God today.
I will help build my website today.
I will laugh at myself today...before others do.
Strength Office 563
Statistics on the number of porn addicts in America vary widely from 200,000 to 21 million. The biggest number places on addiction at 6.5% of the population, so a fair estimate is 3.2 percent.
Stats from being Overweight, on the other hand, come straight from the CDC and are at 74%...and that was 3 years ago in 2018.
There are no indicators to point to the situation being better so, we can be assured that at least 3 of 4 people in America are fat now.
That means that being fat is 23 times more likely to make a person unhealthy than porn in America today.
Sanity is about perspective according to the Big Book.
Strength Office 564
If God didn’t give me anything to be afraid of...I wouldn’t have anything to practice my courage on.
Sometimes I wish he wasn’t so proud of me.
Strength Office 565
For five weeks I’ve had no meat and for three weeks I had no tofu.
I had 6 oz of lean beef on Wednesday and felt like I was in an Archie Bunker episode...as Meathead.
My brain and body felt like wet cement.
I had tofu last night and it was neutral. I had it again today...and I don’t feel as well.
All I have to do is be honest about how I feel after I eat and my God will guide me through my intuition.
...That and my own vanity as I look in the mirror.
Strength Office 566
The good thing about having nothing to lose is you just don’t care. You are fearless.
In the last 6 months with no money and no work I have really developed my guitar playing.
I really don’t want to lose that, but I can feel myself holding on too tight...
I surrender my gift of self-love to God.
Strength Office 564
If God didn’t give me anything to be afraid of...I wouldn’t have anything to practice my courage on.
Sometimes I wish he wasn’t so proud of me.
Strength Office 565
For five weeks I’ve had no meat and for three weeks I had no tofu.
I had 6 oz of lean beef on Wednesday and felt like I was in an Archie Bunker episode...as Meathead.
My brain and body felt like wet cement.
I had tofu last night and it was neutral. I had it again today...and I don’t feel as well.
All I have to do is be honest about how I feel after I eat and my God will guide me through my intuition.
...That and my own vanity as I look in the mirror.
Strength Office 566
The good thing about having nothing to lose is you just don’t care. You are fearless.
In the last 6 months with no money and no work I have really developed my guitar playing.
I really don’t want to lose that, but I can feel myself holding on too tight...
I surrender my gift of self-love to God.
Strength Office 567
I am shocked at how desperately tenaciously people hold onto their food prejudices.
Whether the Mediterranean, Paleo, Ketogenic, Vegan, Zone...or the All Chocolate Bar Diet.
The Big Book, in We Agnostics, asks us, over 20 times, to let go of our prejudices.
Strength Office 568
Where in the food world is there common sense?
There is something called a Food Exchange Chart created for Diabetics.
It says that 2 oz of raw almond butter is equivalent in 16 oz uncooked tofu.
I tried it today...and gained one pound.
Proverbs says “Help me not be like the horse or the mule”.
That’s a nice way to say...don’t be stupid.
Strength Office 569
When it comes to food, it would be hard to argue that that lots of leafy green vegetables are probably what's best for you.
But that would be too terrible...cause then our mother’s would have been right.
Strength Office 570
The rent moratorium in San Francisco ends in seven weeks.
I have written my landlord six times requesting his cooperation in the federally funded rental assistance program.
He has not responded. I feel hurt and afraid.
But feelings are not facts.
I requested of my wife to do some chastity in response to this, and she has agreed.
I am humbly grateful to her…
Strength Office 571
There’s a part of God that can be accessed only during Chastity.
This infuriates my married friends. It infuriates my single friends.
But it’s also true.
Gandhi knew that, which is why he spent 40 years of his life chaste.
The Christian church believed that, prior to the Reformation.
Monks all over the world still believe that.
Regardless of its history, though it’s working for me today.
We’re at war with our landlord again and it’s time to gird my loins.
In a sense…He’s my sponsor.
He keeps me from getting too soft and dissolute.
And I am grateful for that.
Strength Office 572
I have a modicum of musical talent... just enough to delude me into thinking that if I practiced really hard I could be great.
As it says in the Light Hearted Offices “ Like all young men I started out to be a genius...fortunately laughter intervened”.
Strength Office 573
I have a 49 year old resentment against my college roommate.
I pray for him to have all that I want for me:
Health, need for safety met, need for love and belonging met, need for esteem of others met, need for spirituality met, need for contentment met, need for creativity met, need for peace of mind met
And for Tombo, my father and mother, Joe Dotterer and his wife, Walter Ross.
I was being a victim seeking their approval.
I was angry at myself...but now I forgive myself.
Strength Office 574
“The music of the strings makes you glad”
“Play skillfully on the strings”
I doesn’t say be a genius...it says play skillfully and that it will make you glad.
I instinctively knew that as a 9 year old boy and have done that for 57 years.
It is to God...that I am obedient.
Strength Office 575
What does being reborn mean?
First it means stop in things that caused death.
For me, the thing that was killing me the fastest was drinking alcohol.
Then I suppose smoking was killing me the fastest, as it killed my mother and it is currently killing my brother, both of whom had from emphysema.
The third cause of potential death wasn’t as obvious and was rather silent: pills…
But they killed Elvis, Hendrix, Prince and Michael Jackson.
Those were the big ticket items, but then there were things that cause spiritual death. Things that murdered my feelings.
Sex addiction was the biggest culprit there. Manifesting, most egregiously in masturbation and affairs with other men’s women.
As stunningly painful as those two things were it was really the intrigue, objectification and fantasy that eradicated any possibility of peace of mind.
Debt was something that ate up my life daily and it’s termination was one of the doors to freedom.
But really what ended the “dark ages” for me was food abstinence.
The smartest, the most loving, and the most spiritually gifted people I’ve ever known have been utterly destroyed by complete denial of this addiction.
I once knew a man who had the gift of the laying on of hands.
He would heal as many as 40,000 people at a time.
I thought it was bologna…Until I saw it myself.
He also claimed to have the gift of the stigmata. In case you don’t know what that means, it means that the wounds of Christ (his hands, his feet and his side) start bleeding, but in your body.
Now, I’ve never actually seen that with him...But that’s what he claimed.
But…Starbucks double lattes and chocolate croissants got him.
Now he’s just a ranting lunatic.
It’s hard to imagine the caffeine and flour and sugar can do that to a man…But I’ve seen it.
I stayed with a 60 pound weight loss for 33 years, but it wasn’t till I was able to keep the exact weight every day that I passed into being “born again”.
Strength Office 576
When I kick an addiction I put everything I’ve got into it. I stay focused.
When I kicked food addiction I told myself “ Nothing else matters except kicking food”.
Now, that’s not objectively true.
Kicking sex addiction is more important than kicking food, for me, and kicking alcohol was more important than kicking sex addiction.
But, I learned in AA that when I kick an addiction, it absolutely must be the most important thing in my life...or I will fail.
So, I tell my mind what I must...so that my body can heal.
Strength Office 577
I am grateful for a modicum of common sense.
It’s reasonable and sane to not be fat.
It is reasonable and sane to do cardio, do strength, endurance and flexibility exercises for my body.
Next to loving people through service and then meditation, as ways to help my mind be healthy, reading books, I find, is pretty much third, for me.
Strength Office 578
You would think after 40 years in recovery all my resentments would be gone.
But then God gives me another gift, life changes, I see it in different way...and from out of nowhere I can see a resentment.
I have recently discovered a 49 year resentment at someone who didn’t say good things about my guitar playing.
Really! What could anyone possibly say that would justify hating someone for half a century?
You’re the worst guitar player of all time?
I am shocked at myself...and it kinda makes me laugh at myself.
And that feels pretty good.
Strength Office 579
If my ideal weight, the weight that makes me feel and look my best, is 140, then I need to be at 137 in the morning.
Because I am surely going to eat 3 pounds of food a day (perhaps 4 or even 5, on average).
So, if I weigh in at 140 when I get up then I actually am closer to 145 during the day.
That’s a good 3%.
If look you don’t think 3% is much of a change, think of yourself as 2 inches taller, or shorter...
That’s what a 3% difference looks like on a person.
Strength Office 580
Had a birthday dinner for my wife, her friend and Gummy today.
I just kept praying “ Nothing else matters except the food”.
I stopped appropriately with the meal and the ensuing cakes and sweets that were on offer didn’t even register a hint of interest to me.
It is nice to feel sober after a wonderful, festive occasion.
I am thankful for the tool of prayer.
Strength Office 581
“That thou art happy, owe to God; That thou continuest such, owe to thyself”.
I’ve often marveled and felt a little baffled by the phenomenon when losing weight of feeling risky, sexy, dangerous, courageous and the reality of maintaining weight feeling dull, tedious and boring.
I think it is because God is with me as we gut-wrenchingly go down the scale with no epidermis, feelings dialed to 11, resentments and fears flying hither and thither like medieval demons.
But, I have never understand what Milton meant till now.
Once my happiness is given to me, through the presence of God, by losing the weight, if I plan to stay happy...it’s up to me.
If abstinence feels dull, tedious and boring...it’s because I am dull, tedious and boring during abstinence.
Strength Office 582
Please help me not to let my spiritual life end life like Gray, Pablo or Phoenix.
The food destroyed these three, the most spiritually gifted people I have ever known.
Have mercy on me Lord.
Please help me not do that to me.
Strength Office 583
My father ate what was going to go bad first in the refrigerator.
He ate whatever quantity was necessary to eat so that nothing would spoil.
At least, that is what he told me...
I find myself thinking that way when our garden starts to reach capacity.
I do not have to eat like that.
I don’t have a dirt floor and I have electricity and I do not live in the desert or a jungle.
Strength Office 584
When I first started my trek up the spiritual mountain 40 years ago I did not need the serenity to accept, but rather the courage to change.
I have a new musical friend, B.B., who actively seeks peace through acceptance.
It turns out that, after changing everything in my life in the last 40 years that I wanted to change, that I, too, am now in a place to accept rather than to change.
When I am in my very best place with acceptance, I can just laugh about circumstances around me.
Feels good and simple...
Strength Office 585
“You have wearied the Lord by saying "All who do evil are good" or "Where is the God of justice?"
You mean I can drive God crazy?
Yes...when I insist that evil is good, I am wasting God’s time.
God is not going to change his mind.
Also, every time there is a flood, hurricane, famine or war some folks like to blame God.
God didn’t do those things.
And I imagine it wearies him getting unfairly blamed for those things.
Strength Office 586
I must be willing to fight for my abstinence.
The AA 12x12 clearly states that “it is from our twisted relations with family, friends, and society at large that many of us have suffered the most.”
When my relationships with anyone gets “twisted”, whether it is my character defect, their character defect, or a combination of both (which is most likely) I cannot let this affect my abstinence.
I can set boundaries with others. I can announce limits about myself.
I can live in the quiet of humility, accept people as they are, accept myself as a I am...and stay abstinent.
Strength Office 587
Quite unintentionally, I had no living foods yesterday for the first time in seven weeks.
I could feel myself begin to shrivel.
If I want the benefits...I have to do the work.
Strength Office 588
Because I am solidly abstinent I can pay attention to other things that I enjoy because I don’t have to fight the obsession.
I love weird, crazy music.
Psalm 33 says “The music of the strings makes you glad”, and it does.
Because it is not professional music (that I have done all my life) it is very, very bare bones, both in personnel and production value.
I can prosper musically and revel in the thriftiness of this approach.
I am so grateful to HP for the food abstinence which has given me this opportunity.
Strength Office 589
I don’t often feel despair, but I did tonight.
I have taken the opportunity of the COVID sheltering in place order to practice guitar a great deal the last six months.
I have recaptured and in some areas surpassed a level of playing that I have not had for 40 years.
I feel grateful, humbled and astonished.
When I started back practicing, after listening to much music, I remembered a young man, Steve K., who when we were both in our early 20’s, was one of the four best musicians I had ever known personally.
I have consciously been using his level of playing as a goal.
However, when I try to play at the speed that he played so beautifully at, I find that I make mistakes.
Carl Czerny, Beethoven’s most famous student, said “In music the worst thing you can do is play wrong notes”.
Humility is knowing your limits.
Steve K. was gifted beyond my capacity, and I am grateful to have known him to be able to set my ideals by.
As the AA 12x12 states:
“We shall need to raise our eyes towards perfection.”
“The only urgent thing is that we make a beginning and keep trying.”
“We shall have to be content with patient improvement.”
Humility is good for my soul...
Strength Office 590
“Hobby, amateur, do music for fun.”
These are heartbreaking words for me that my mother shrieked at me when I was 17.
17 is a child.
I need to put away childish things, in this case, my mother’s hurtful motives and re-examine these words.
The truth is l love doing music. It is the most beautiful thing I know.
Otto Rank, the Jewish psychoanalyst, who Freud castigated, said in his most famous book, “Art and Artist”, that an artist finds a “second super-real world”.
“Sigmund Freud described art as “Motoric hallucination”. That is not flowery, but there is some truth there.
What is it about me that makes me seek to live in Otto Rank’s “second super-real world”?
For me, my inexorable attraction to art was to escape the sexual, physical, verbal and emotional abuse of my childhood.
Otto Rank says “ I have always regarded the neurotic as a failed artist”.
“The two human types which most clearly reveal success and failure in this struggle between the individual and the collective are the neurotic and the creative.”
“Whereas the average man largely subordinates himself, both socially and biologically, to the collective, and the neurotic shuts himself deliberately off from both, the productive type finds a middle way, which is expressed in ideological experience and personal creativity.”
“The neurotic fails to overcome his mortal fear”.
“The artist is, after all, primarily an individual who is unable or unwilling to adopt the dominant immortality-ideology of his age”.
“The artist creates essentially by reason of an inward urge which we may describe as the individual will to form.”
The neurotic for Rank is an “artiste manqué,” a creative personality who is unable to produce art, unable to affirm his individual creative self. The artist, on the other hand, is able to utilize the creative urge to immortalize his personality.
The artist does this by “Self-appointment”.
For the fostering of strong mental health it is important to distinguish crucial two things: Genius and Artist.
Talent is the capacity to understand or, to do, faster and easier what is difficult for the rest of us.
Gifted is talent with vision.
Genius is gifted that is beyond explanation.
I agree with the Swiss psychoanalyst Alice Miller that an artist is a person who, through psychological challenges in early life, finds peace and satisfaction in expressing oneself through art and becomes reasonably serene in the world.
But, talented and artistic are crucially different existences.
An artist may have no talent whatsoever...none.
But, be just as much an artist as Michelangelo, Shakespeare or Beethoven.
We discourage artists from doing what they do to be psychologically fit, unless they are geniuses, or gifted, or talented.
This, according to Alice Miller, was the tragic mistake that was made with Hitler, who was a good painter, but discouraged from developing his art...and turned the rage of his childhood to genocide.
I am not grateful for my childhood abuse...but, I am grateful for my response to it, by my reaching for a “Second super-real world”.
It saved my life...
Strength Office 591
Artistic, academic and mystical preoccupations is the most obscure of my addictions, but it is the only one I did intentionally.
It is important for me to distinguish my different needs to stay sober in this area.
If I confuse my need for creativity with my need for contentment I will end up frustrated and bitter.
If I confuse my need for creativity with my need for peace of mind I will always feel restless and agitated.
If I confuse my need for creativity with my need for safety...I will always be broke.
If I confuse my need for creativity with my need for love and belonging I will spend my life ambitiously pandering.
I am financially safe as a teacher.
I am content being recovered.
I am happy as an improviser.
I am at peace having access to my soul.
Strength Office 592
My typical food plan is 12 oz live greens w/4 oz distilled water blended, 2 oz raw organic nut butter, 6 oz organic fruit..three times a day...or 66 oz of food and drink per day.
66 oz is just a little over 4 pounds per day, which is average for an American.
But, if I am at my optimum weight...and then I eat 4 pounds of food, I am actually 4 pounds heavier than my optimum weight throughout the day.
I am not sure why I couldn’t see this before...it seems so obvious.
I don’t want to obsess around food...but I do want to take responsibility for my self-care and, as Debtor’s Anonymous says, “God is in the numbers“.
Strength Office 593
“Wrang-wrang - a person who steers people away from a way of living...with the example his own life.”
I was introduced to a gentle, kind, thoughtful and musically generous man today.
We had talked for 6 months during Covid and finally met today.
I was breath taken when I met him.
It took me half a day to figure out why.
He was very, very frail.
It was a very sobering experience, for me, that with all the love of music that I have in my heart, I can never let music come before my food and exercise...
“Walking with two other men, each of them will serve as my teacher. I will pick out the good points of the one and imitate them, and the bad points of the other and correct them in myself.”
Thank you for keeping me straight, my new friend...
Strength Office 594
This has been a very challenging two weeks with the food.
I hit my ideal weight, but instead of “eating normally” as I have always done in the past, I have eaten “ subtractively”, meaning simply that I could eat whatever amount of food that day that I was below my ideal weight.
Not surprisingly...it caused a great deal of emotional distress (just ask my wife).
I found that my resilience with frustration was dramatically decreased.
This was particularly true with vendors who were punctilious and with my 21 month old son when he would throw his toys out of our third floor window.
Finally, by the 10th day, I appealed to you for respite and relief and announced my limit that there would need to be some relief or I did not think I would be able to do this over the long haul...and the neurochemistry settled down.
Strength Office 595
There is some new evidence that fitness is more important than fatness when it comes to longevity, coronary heart disease, diabetes, cancer, stroke and dementia.
It is a little hard to tell if this is spurious information kind of like in the 1950’s when TV commercials would say “ 9 out of 10 doctors recommended Chesterfield cigarettes “.
It also begs the question : Is it really just fat people rationalizing “I am fit so fat it doesn’t matter that I am fat”...that’s what I did when I was carrying around 60 pounds of fat.
That being said, only 20% of American jobs now are physically demanding.
Also, “Sitting for this generation, is the Baby Boomer’s smoking”.
Sitting in front of a computer screen, television, iPhone , or even lying down reading a book, or sitting still and playing a musical instrument for hours...is not optimum for my heart.
Strength Office 596
My closest friend is a doctor and we discuss theories of addiction every Sunday when we run.
When I told him that we may have cured addiction he said “You may want to take it for a test drive and see if you can drink and use moderately.“
I told him “No, that’s the old theory of addiction that comes from AA”.
We agree with AA that you can never drink again.
What we are saying is that 98% of the addiction is obsession and if you get rid of enough addictions, that the obsession goes away...and you can have a real life.
I think he was disappointed...because he wanted me to just try some of his couture, dispensary cannabis that we deliver to your door here in San Francisco.
Strength Office 597
According to Harvard University, after 40 years old, each minute that you exercise you get an extra seven minutes of life.
So, if you exercise 45 minutes a day, five days a week you get 2 months extra of life…every year you do that.
If you start at 40 years old, and do that for 40 years, you get an extra 6 1/2 years of life.
If you exercise vigorously, instead of moderately…you get an extra 13 years.
…and you get to look hot in your 90’s.
Does that seem worth the investment?
Strength Office 598
Love, for me, has been being “gentle, positive and accepting” which I learned from early ACA recovery.
I need that when I am hurt, but love also, for me, is:
Laughing at myself
Playing music disciplinely
Reading books pleasurably
Playing with my son frequently
Being with my wife pretty much always
Strength Office 599
Some days are Gandhi days and some days are King David days.
Gandhi would not strike back at his enemies..no matter what they did.
King David would kill his enemies, their wives, children, cattle, sheep, burn your house down and steal your clothes.
Most days, though, are simply weighing and measuring my food and exercising.
Today was a King David day, though...and it broke my heart.
Strength Office 600
Have mercy on my brother…and me.
His mental illness is so savage that he is completely alone now.
He was a sweet boy until he was 11 and then he got isolated in our big country house.
I chose twenty two things to become addicted to, to kill the pain of my father’s neglect and abuse.
It cost me 40 years of my life to recover from that abuse.
He chose to delude himself that our father “was the best man he ever met”.
It cost him his sanity.
Have mercy on two boys, 11 and 12, on a big lonely farm who were too hurt to talk to each other.
Have mercy on us all, Lord.
Strength Office 601
In five days our city returns to normal after the pandemic.
I am grateful for a lot of things these last 16 months:
I am grateful to the State government for providing relief for its tax payers, in this particular case...us!
I am grateful to have spent on average 3.75 hours a day recapturing guitar skills that I left behind 40 years ago when I started my quest for recovery.
I am grateful to my wife for growing my food in our garden in the kitchen to keep us healthy.
I am grateful for the time to watch Gummy grow. What a treasure he is...
And I am grateful to every member of PrayerCall who has led a meeting, read a reading, or shared a feeling. You all are the glue that keeps my family healthy and safe...and I am grateful to each and everyone of you.
Strength Office 602
For 7 months I have been sweating bullets 3 3/4 hours a day catching up on my guitar chops that I had to reprioritize to fully recover these last 40 years.
In the back of my head I had a technical ideal…a piano player I knew when I was 21.
I caught him last night. I didn’t surpass him, but I did, for once, catch him…
But this morning my first thought was “ Well…what’s next?”
That just might be just a touch ungrateful and workaholic…just sayin’.
Strength Office 603
Success B Office:
Give yourself full credit
Enjoy your successes
Relax and give yourself some peace
Absolutely insist on enjoying life
Strength Office 604
The Prayer of Saint Ignatius
Take, O God, into your hands, my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding and my will. All that I am you have given to me, and I surrender these unto you to be disposed in accord with your will. Grant your love and your grace. With these I am rich enough and desire nothing more.
I never have really surrendered my memory to God.
I did this morning and I asked God to help me forgive everyone who had hurt me, real or imagined, and to help me forgive everyone I have ever hurt, real or imagined.
It brought me into the “Now moment“ as is so popular to say today.
But being in the “Now moment” is kind of like doing calisthenics…without playing the sport.
The object is to be in the moment…so I can access my soul.
I did that for two hours this morning and HP
helped me laugh at myself by flashing me a pic of Fred Flintstone’s Cave mobile…to let me know that I was just a beginner.
Strength Offices 605
“Test everything. Keep that which is good.”
1st Thessalonians 5:21.
Frank Buchman was an American Lutheran who started the Oxford Group in 1921.
This is where Dr. Bob and Bill Wilson, who wrote the Big Book, met.
From Robert Speer, Buchman borrowed the “Four Absolutes”, which were actually written in 1904:
These four principles guided Bob and Bill for 4 years until Bill wrote the 12 steps in 1939.
They are actually emblazoned on my aluminum, 30 day, AA chip that I proudly received 33 years ago.
Conservative AA groups still incorporate these principles in their opening literature.
Sponsors, using the Absolutes, ask their sponsees to apply these principles by asking these questions:
Is it true or false?
Is it right or wrong?
How will this affect the other fellow?
And then the most fascinating one, for me,
Is it ugly or beautiful?
I simply love that “Absolute love” is is about something being beautiful.
I actually have a website dedicated to beauty called “UselesslyBeautifulThings.com”.
But, what I want to humbly propose is two more principles that seem to add to living a spiritual life:
Humility is something that has always been in short supply in my life….Ask my enemies.
Also, Alona and I live in the heart of the city of San Francisco and it would be easy to be distracted by wealth, power and fame.
But, a simple life of prayer, service and inventory…Absolutely.
Strength Office 606
Sigmund Freud called art “Motoric hallucination”.
Otto Rank the compadre of Sigmund Freud for 20 years said that art creates a “Second-super real world”.
Patrick Carnes , the founder of the subject of sex addiction would say that art, like religion, “passes the neuropathways of fantasy” like marijuana, LSD and peyote.
After working on a musical performance for 100 hours the last three weeks, and having an very successful show, I got home and started writing out the next show for hours.
I am just as powerless over successful art as I am alcohol, sex and food.
I ask my Higher Power to restore me to sanity and I turn my life and will over to God’s care.
Strength Office 607
I had two ounces of Gouda cheese last night after a show that I did for a friend who died of a sudden heart attack.
It was weighed and measured, but, for me, dairy is a warning sign.
Strength Office 608
I am grateful on Father’s Day to have raised a 34 year old daughter by myself.
I am grateful to be currently helping to raise a 21 month old son with my wife.
It makes me laugh sometimes when I go into “S” meetings and we men are all so desperate to have the most fulfilling sex, with the hottest women, doing the most unmentionable things.
I am guessing that sex was probably designed, originally, to create little people that would throw up, poop and pee, and screech their guts out in the middle of the night so I might have have the opportunity to serve someone and keep from getting too selfish.
Strength Office 609
I was thirty two when I co-created my daughter with my first wife.
I remember the night.
I had just read the gospel of John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for others,” and for the first time in my life I was willing to set down my musical dreams and think about someone else for a change.
I asked my wife if she wanted to create a baby…and we did that very night.
When I got clean and sober my then wife didn’t like me much anymore and was really clear with me “I like you when you’re drunk. You’re fun, creative and exciting”.
That wasn’t going to last…
So we went through five custody cases in eight years…it was brutal.
Finally, my daughter and I got free of my ex-wife and her series of alcoholic wife-beating husbands and we moved as far away from the South as we could get…four more blocks West and we’d actually be living in the Pacific Ocean.
Things went well. My daughter graduated from high school, undergraduate and graduate school, got sober herself, and got married.
After ten years of my daughter leaving home I met a woman, got married, and had our son.
Raising boys is really different from raising girls.
Girls are “Sugar and spice and everything nice”.
Boys are like a hurricane, at Mach 5, upside down with your hair on fire.
My wife and I have talked about having more children but our son “Gummy” (short for Gummy bear…because he is so sweet) is like have an entire platoon in one little body.
With the highest rents in America and sheltering in place for 16 months God was good to only give us one…
Strength Office 610
“Very deep, sometimes quite forgotten, damaging emotional conflicts persist below the level of consciousness. At the time of these occurrences, they may actually have given our emotions violent twists which have since discolored our personalities and altered our lives for the worse.”
AA 12x12 Step Eight
In the fall of 1972 I was attending the University of Virginia.
In those days men’s and women’s dormitories were segregated.
Several of the guys in my dorm went to visit and hopefully to meet some of the ladies.
I had a really clear idea of what respectfulness towards women was, but could not stop myself from “hunting”.
I met a pretty, young, Jewish painter.
We dated. I liked her a lot. All went well.
She had two friends. I got involved with all three of them.
At the time I neither had heard of, nor did I understand the concept of powerlessness, but I knew what I was doing was wrong and it “actually gave my emotions a violent twist which discolored my personality and altered my life.”
I got to go back and make direct amends to this woman this week, 50 years later.
Gummy and Alona we’re waiting outside and afterwords we all had Red Ginger Ice tea together.
Strength Office 611
I am so grateful to have had nine days of vacation.
Honestly, I have been trying to find a green place, with a river, to grow food that Alona would love, to replace her home in the Philippines.
But, just as honestly, nothing replaces home…and I accept that.
Strength Office 612
For three weeks I have been praying:
I am entirely ready to have You remove my character defect of worrying and I humbly ask You to remove this shortcoming.
It’s been working pretty good…
Strength Office 613
COVID 19 enabled me to begin practicing 3.75 hours a day.
I started this practice as a gift to myself for grieving the loss of my daughter.
If I continue to stay abstinent with my food, one day, three hours at a time, I will continue to give myself this gift as a reward, a “bennie”(benefit) as an old therapist friend of mine used to say.
Higher Power, I pray for you to help keep me sober around under-earning, which is addictive behavior for me, by embracing frugality and simplicity so that, if it is your will, I may continue this practice…
These tones replace my thoughts and make me “susceptible to divine influences", as John Cage would say...and I am so grateful for that opportunity.
Strength Office 614
I woke up dreaming of my father.
I felt the intense need I had for his love and attention, brutal though he was.
The person who’s love and attention I need today is my own.
Help me to love myself today the way I needed my father to love me as a child.
I can do that, now, with gentleness, positiveness acceptance and humor, just for today, three hours at a time.
Strength Office 615
I am grateful to be free of the “Big Three” addictions: Alcohol, Sex and Food.
But today, I am most highly self-esteemed by something relatively small and simple: not having caffeine, the only addiction I have relapsed on in 33 years.
StarBucks Reserve coffee shops in my neighborhood, ice-cold 16 ounce “2-for-$3” Diet Cokes at the impulse counter of the Walgreens and cute, couture, import, tea shops in San Francisco’s Chinatown all look sexy and sleek every now and then but that is only “ Euphoric Recall”.
What caffeine really does, after 45 minutes of glory, is knaw the nutrients out of my body, causing me to feel so jumpy that I need to eat more food than I need.
That triggers the craving to eat yet more food and I gain weight, my face looks haggard, old and beat up and, as a consequence, I lose my self-esteem…
Not today, not today…three hours at a time.
Strength Office 616
The story goes that when Alexander the Great was dying at 33, after conquering the then known world, his generals asked who should take his place. He replied “The strongest”.
Both of the following quotes from the AA 12 and 12, Step one, clearly indicate that finding strength is possible.
“We perceive that only through utter defeat are we able to take our first steps toward liberation and strength.”
“The principle that we shall find no enduring strength until we first admit complete defeat is the main taproot from which our whole Society has sprung and flowered”.
There are certain things that I have done in my life that make me weak, and while everyone is different, I found that, for me:
are a lot of fun in the beginning, make me feel crazy-exalted and elevated, but in the end, make me weak.
These are the four “basic food groups” that I need as building blocks for strength.
Now, honestly, in the last 33 years I have relapsed with caffeine five times…typically celebrating an AA or SLAA birthday…so it ain’t perfect.
These four are the hardware, but there are others that are the software.
I find that, for me, masturbation destroys any self-esteem or self-confidence I might have and I quickly become weak, socially. I like to talk to people and I live in a big city, so that had to go, and it took what seemed like a devastatingly long time.
Another major form of strength, for me, is not eating so much food that I get fat.
With the exceptions of alcohol or masturbation, nothing makes me feel worse about myself, faster, than looking in the mirror in the morning and seeing a fat, beat-up, old, haggard face and body that I have decimated with my own gluttony.
It’s now time to look at where strength comes from.
Wikipedia says “Abstinence is a self-enforced restraint from indulging in bodily activities that are widely experienced as giving pleasure”.
I don’t know about anyone reading this but, for me, “Self-enforced restraint” has pretty much always ended up in “complete defeat”.
I need a Power, greater than myself, to help me abstain…so that I can have “liberation and strength”.
While the AA 12x12, Step three, says clearly that “All by himself and in the light of his own circumstances, he needs to develop the quality of willingness” it is only by accessing God’s strength that I find strength.
That strength I find, simply, through daily moral inventory, prayer and service.
Strength Office 617
I am grateful on this holiday celebrating freedom (4th of July 2021) that I am free from Alcohol, sex and food addiction and all their tributaries.
My service to you to help the willing get well will always come first in my life, always.
But you have given me extra joys that I do not deserve, but am truly appreciative of: a pretty, young, God-fearing wife, a boisterous, bubbly, healthy boy and the opportunity to write music that I love, again.
I will do my best to always show you my appreciation, one day, three hours at a time.
Strength Office 618
This was an unusual week in that we drove 1400 miles in three days.
That left the majority of my strength exercises to the last minute before the 5:00pm Saturday Food/exercise meeting.
I did 27 sets of 40 push-ups in 8 hours.
Just goes to show I can do a lot more than I think I can.
I don’t usually think of sloth as a character defect of mine…but, when it comes to athletics, it just might be.
If it is…I humbly ask You to remove this shortcoming.
Strength Office 619
It’s important as a sponsor to be able to delineate between a simple slip and unwillingness.
Unwillingness on the sponcee’s part cuts him off from his Higher Power…and he knows that.
What the little experienced 12-stepper doesn’t know is that a sponsor, who continues to work with the unwilling, at a certain point, cuts himself off from his own Higher Power, through his own co-dependency….and then both the sponcee and sponsor are powerless and subject to relapse.
Strength Office 620
No matter how much fun I am having writing music…help me to remember to make daily conscious contact with my immortal soul…
Strength Office 621
“It is a spiritual axiom that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us.”
I had been grieving the last day or so. But grieving, unmonitored in me, carries, from childhood, an attitude of self-pity.
So I stopped for an hour and a half and surrendered the relationship I am grieving, then that felt so relieving that I threw in my marriage, fatherhood, career, finances, recovery and music, just for good measure.
I could feel my soul…and I could feel a sweet bliss, wholeness and perfectly pure peace.
Strength Office 622
I dreamed I was on a double decker bus with my bi-polar brother who was in a manic phase.
I had lost my coat and my shoes so I went to a mall to buy new shoes.
There I met a group of 30 ladies from S-anon, a group whose primary purpose is to have “the priceless gift of serenity” around “friends or family members who are Sexaholics”.
I felt very loved and supported by this group.
God can reach me even in dreams…
Strength Office 623
I have a new sponsee who's working on the skill of clarity of perception.
Today I was practicing avant-garde guitar in a children’s park while my son was playing.
A surprisingly snowy haired aging Latino woman and her 2 year old stopped and listened.
I noticed she was snapping her fingers.
After a while she turned to leave and I thought I heard her say “You’re crazy”.
Considering the weirdness my acoustic guitar was radiating that would have been easily understandable and forgivable.
I thought of my sponcee…and thought I’d get a reality check.
I walked over to her and said “ I’m sorry if my playing was too crazy for you”.
She said “No! Thanks for the concert…Music is love”.
What a lovely compliment…
Just goes to show how far off base I can be.
Strength Office 624
I believe fully that if I:
surrender all binge foods, which I have.
eat no flour and sugar, which I don’t.
weigh and measure my food with a digital scale, which I do.
write down my food every day, which I do.
go to meetings every day
work with others daily
meditate and pray daily…all of which I do.
And exercise daily (the Big Book says that any picture of the alcoholic that leaves out the physical picture is incomplete)
That I will be just fine…just fine.
Strength Office 625
“Now comes the biggest question yet.”
“Can we love the whole pattern of living as eagerly as we do the small segment of it we discover when we try to help other alcoholics achieve sobriety?”
I have, honestly, had to say no to this question the last 33 years…but I am getting better at it.
I find myself successfully being my more authentic self, which, on a good day, is a fairly spiritual self, in fairly common places.
Strength Office 626
Twice in the Big Book’s “Chapter to the Agnostics” the stated necessary spiritual requirement for recovery is “an entire psychic change”.
I have had that psychic change through simply going to meetings, when it came to alcohol.
I have had “a complete psychic change” through the magic of unselfish service around sex and I am no longer plagued with those lusts turned cravings turned obsessions turned compulsions.
But, I cannot say that about the food.
It is true that I have lost 60 pounds and have kept it off for three decades without a relapse…but I work mightily at it.
Yesterday, besides five PrayerCalls, I did three meditation sessions: two 45 minute ones and one 30 minute one and there was not a trace of a food “pull” for me.
Hmmm, Steve…may want update to Psychic Change 1.1.2
Strength Office 627
“A flier into the realm of spirit, if you like ”AA 12x12 Step 11 (on Meditation).
Walk with me here a moment:
We have roughly 50,000 thoughts a day according to the National Science Foundation and 80% of those thoughts are negative.
Try to picture someone that, literally, spoke one thought every second you were awake…and four out of five of those thoughts were negative.
Would you want to be around that person?
We could consciously choose positive thoughts and that works really well.
But, what if instead we replaced thoughts with listening to tones on a musical instrument?
Then our heads would be filled with music instead of negative thoughts.
The great 20th century Russian composer Igor Stravinsky said:
“I know that the 12 tones in each octave, and the variety of rhythm, offer me opportunities that all of human genius will never exhaust”
That seems a lot more pleasant than four negative thoughts every five seconds.
Walk with me one more step…
How about this? Every second, when a new thought comes up, surrender it, breathe instead and concentrate on your soul.
Then your mind would be filled with soul.
A soulful mind…that sounds really beautiful to me!
Strength Office 628
I worked on having an “entire psychic change” today, by simply counting my breaths and it worked really well.
FA warns against using “food as a drug”.
I can use types, amounts or even times when I eat to “take the edge off” normal, day to day, anxiety.
Breathing deeply, repeatedly, in a sustained way, as a form of third step surrender and eleventh step meditation worked very well today.
Meditation alone won’t stop addiction, but cranking it up to 11…sure does help.
Strength Office 629
Today a businesswoman actively sought not to beat me at business, which was her job, but to actively try to destroy my business.
She failed, but it was challenging to have such a fierce adversary. I felt terror.
But, I did not let it affect my serenity and I held on dearly to my “physic change” around food, breathed in deeply as a Step Eleven for a long time and my food an exercise were flawless.
I choose to thank her for her ferocity.
If I can’t stay sober under adversity…I can’t stay sober.
Strength Office 630
It is my experience that when I eat dairy, meat, or seafood my knees and lower back and my muscles feel stiff (which is not optimum for a guitar player).
It is my experience that when I eat fruits and nuts I feel neutral.
It is my experience that when I eat living foods I feel better.
It is also my experience that the better I eat the more in touch with anger I am.
I used to want to be a “nice guy”, which to me in my youth meant never getting angry.
But to be a “nice guy” I also ended up fat.
The only sponsor I ever had in OA taught me one really special message…”Fat is anger”.
Accept anger or accept fat…those are my choices.
Strength Office 631
Addicts are like crabs and children
- When you catch one you have to put it in a bucket with a top on it. When you have the second on in the bucket you don’t need a top…because the first one always pulls the second one down.
- When someone else is relapsing I need to be an emotional grown up, instead of acting like a five year old saying “ Well if he can do it, I should be able to do it”.
I can act better than a crabby child.
Strength Office 632
I remember how shocked I felt when I realized:
“I have found a way to get drunk through food”.
Like Jeremiah 8:6 “No one repents of his sins crying “What have I done? “
I repent…I repent.
Strength Office 633
Sometimes it’s simply doing your will…sometimes it’s just taking responsibility for myself.
Like the 19 years it took Jean Valjean in Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables” and the 18 years it took Dr. Manette in Charles Dickens “A Tale of Two Cities” it took me 40 years to get completely free.
Help me to value my freedom above all else.
Strength Office 634
Help me to let go of the unwilling.
What was loving service in me, in the presence of unwillingness, becomes codependent caretaking…and then I am spiritually sick.
Help me to let go of the unwilling.
Strength Office 635
What do I really want in my life?
For me, it is full recovery from all addictions…so that I can pursue a different life.
I want to play and write as much music as I can each day.
To do that I simply: do daily inventory, pray “without ceasing” (1st Thessalonians 5:17) and serve the willing freely.
I am grateful for my new “outer circle” life of playing the most outrageous music!
I feel so lucky…
Strength Office 636
Help me not “dull the edges” of my pain with food around relational disappointments, aching bones or a horrid landlord.
Because I don’t want to “dull the edges” around the nuances of my son’s smile, the softness of my wife’s skin or the awareness of your Holy Presence.
Strength Office 637
I have attended and worked 37 programs in the last 40 years.
There has been much beauty, joy, freedom, love and literature.
Of all the literature in all the programs the most revolutionary line comes from page 12 of the Big Book:
“ Why don’t you choose your own conception of God?”
This strikes right at the very heart of not only of the major monotheistic religions of Christianity, Judaism, Islam…but also Zoroastrianism, Sikhism, and the Baháʼí Faith.
The real reason the Big Book offers this freedom is…drunks don’t want anyone telling them what to do and to drag ‘em to God you gotta give drunks a lot of rope.
Listen to these six lines from the SLAA primary text and observe how very different their relationship to God is:
“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.”
Sharing, cooperation, partnership? That sounds more like loving a wife or husband than the loving God I grew up with in religion.
Here is another revolutionary line, from Hope and Recovery, the primary text for SAA for many years:
“Ultimately, the Second Step helped us define spirituality for ourselves.”
Wow! That is a lot of freedom…but, it comes with a lot of responsibility.
But, both SLAA and SAA’s recommendations are founded in that most fundamental yet, ultimate freedom, from page 12 “ Why don’t you choose your own conception of God?”.
Why does this matter?
Because if I cannot stop acting out there is something fundamentally wrong with my relationship with God.
AA has a slogan “ Your Higher Power can be anything…It can be a lightbulb”.
But, that is silly. Try praying to a lightbulb when the craving for a drink hits…and see how that works.
So, there is some responsibility to choose a Higher Power wisely.
For me, these days I need something that keeps me away from using food to diminish my feeling anxiousness.
I find my Higher Power is like a combination lock…no single number opens the lock.
So, for me, meetings, sponsorship, service, reading literature, step work, meditation, weighing and measuring my food, exercising, writing my food down, anonymity, writing literature, searching for and finding my soul, all, collectively, comprise the surrender that I find that I need to find a Power greater than myself.
My conception of a Higher Power is a force that will help me stay away from food…if I live my life by taking the preceding sober actions.
…and I don’t have to wait around for lightbulbs.
Strength Office 638
Monday July 12, 2021
How did I feel God today?
In the choice of the Offices of the last PrayerCall of the day.
I was feeling really wired-up in my work and household administration today and the thought of acting out with caffeine started knocking on my door.
The leader called the “ What if there were a cure for addiction?” Offices and as we were reading I was restored to sanity.
After 45 minutes coffee makes me feel miserable for the next 11 hours. My body starts to smell acridly bad. I eat more food to calm down and consequently gain a pound or two. It makes me look old. I don’t want to work out or practice…I just want to get high more.
God did for me what I couldn’t do for myself.
He reminded me that a possible cure for addiction is more important than getting high on coffee….just for today, one day, three hours at a time.
Note: on Wednesday July 14, after 7 months of no caffeine, I sauntered into Starbucks and ordered a double Latte…for me, that’s shaking hands with “ The Boss Universal “, (Big Book page 11).
Strength Office 639
When I was in Southeast Asia for 16 months with my then girlfriend/fiancé, now wife and mother of my son, I bought and listened to every Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous digital download story that was for sale…twice.
While the abusive childhoods that led up to addiction were quite different, the process of becoming addicted and the process for recovering were all remarkably similar.
What surprised me was how very differently food was processed in the body by separate individuals.
There were radical differences that sounded bizarre and strange in some people on the one extreme, and shockingly minor and seemingly unimpactful in others.
I worked with a woman 30 years ago who ruminated: she would regurgitate her food and then swallow it again.
On the other hand, I worked with a man ten years ago who, if he used even the most innocuous salad dressing on a salad or a sandwich, would immediately relapse and lose at least three additional sobrieties.
Here is my own food story:
If I eat 16 ounces of food that contains salt: meat, dairy, cooked potatoes or rice (with salt), or any combination thereof, or popcorn (when I used to eat that) I get thirsty and drink two 16 ounce glasses of cold water…and Voila! I have gained three pounds. Twice in a day…six pounds. Do that for two days and I gain 10 pounds.
Almost as extreme, is that I can lose that ten pounds in three days.
If I use the drug caffeine, I become susceptible to this eating disorder…it is, for me, a gateway drug.
Strength Office 640
Step Ten…”and when we are wrong, promptly admit it” not “and when we are caught promptly admit it”
Last week, a former student, my most generous, asked me about my most famous student.
When I told him of my famous student’s success he replied “ He’s living your dream”.
Several days later, last Wednesday, I rehearsed, then performed and then shot 47 videos in 12.5 hours…the way I used to live prior to recovery.
As a consequence my food started banging on my door. No flour or sugar. Everything weighed and measured, but I could feel the pull.
I realized tonight, Friday, that I had submitted to letting go of “My dream”, 40 years ago, but that I had not surrendered it…that I really still wanted it and I was just very, very patiently waiting.
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child…and I dreamed like a child.
Today my dream is to simply to stay clear of all twenty two addictions, stay thin and well exercised, inventory my day, meditate throughout the day, serve others and enjoy being with my wife and son.
Strength Office 641
When I am in trouble I pray.
When I am in a little trouble I pray “ Have mercy on me Lord, a sinner”.
When I am in deep trouble I pray “ Cling to the Lord and cry out for mercy”.
After I see how much hot water I am actually in, I find out which of twenty two addictions is in my craw: Workaholism, Artistic Preoccupations, Food Addiction? and start praying the First Step until I really own it. This can take five minutes, to five times that long, until it gets down into my bones.
Then, I pray Step Two, my favorite step, until I become deeply convinced that I really can’t do anything meaningful to get out of whichever addiction, or constellation of addictions, I am in. I can stay in this step for 20 minutes up to a couple of hours.
After a while it becomes obvious to me that since I can’t solve this problem it might be a good idea to surrender and get some help. This revelation only takes a few seconds.
Relief is coming. The burden is lifting. Clarity starts returning. Perspective is being restored, but…
Then it is time to do something about it…Step 3 1/2”, I do God’s will” .
God’s will, for me, is most simply stated in the Slogans, so I read the Long B Office, find out which one is most apt…and start doing it to the best of my flawed abilities.
Strength Office 642
I can tell when I am in trouble with the food without ever looking at a scale
I don’t need to see if my clothes begin to feel like they got stuck in the high-heat cycle of the drier.
I don’t need to wake up and feel the sweat soaking my sheets as my body tries to dump the excess food out my pores.
I don’t need to need to feel the absence of sexual drive in me because my body is using up all it’s free energy to digest my food.
I don’t need to see that I am sleeping 9 or 10 hours a day, instead of 7.
It’s not because the tops of my thighs rub together and burn when I exercise or climb stairs.
It’s not because I don’t get looks from women, in my ridiculously fashion-conscious neighborhood, that I often get when I am at an optimum weight.
At it’s most extreme, I used to could look down and not see my genitals because of my belly…but that doesn’t happen now, like it used to 33 years ago.
It is very simple: When I walk into the bathroom and look in the mirror in the morning… I look old and beat up.
That’s all it takes.
You might say “God has restored me to vanity”.
Or rather…God has restored me through vanity.
Actually…God restores me through self-compassion.
Strength Office 643
I need to be honest about something:
I beat sex addiction when I was 35 and it was hard.
I beat food addiction when I was 35 and it was easy.
At 62 years old, sex addiction recovery, after after 28 years of sobriety, got easy.
At 62 years old, food addiction recovery, after 28 years of abstinence, got hard.
My body changed…nothing more to it than that.
As Stevie Winwood would say “Roll with it”.
Strength Office 644
They say that only a martyr can stay married to a saint and that only a saint can stay married to a martyr.
I am not sure which is which…but my wife is the good one, whichever that may be.
She has listened to the most discordant music for four hours a day, seven days a week, in our 330 square foot studio apartment for months on end, now.
One night, very, very late in my failure and frustration to play dissonant music lightning fast I just hammered out one solitary, shrieking blues lick.
Through the wall of my studio my wife involuntarily squealed and I was convicted that that was the way to go so…I added some relaxed, blues coolness to the mix.
They say behind every great man…is a woman rolling her eyes.
I am sure that’s true of average men, like me, too.
Strength Office 645
I read Toni Morrison’s “ Sula”, yesterday and remembered my teenaged best friend Gary C.
We learned to drink together.
After 12 years I stopped. He did not.
We remained friends for another 15 years.
Then my boundaries got confused and I began to talk with him as a check-in buddy as well as a friend.
One day, I crossed an invisible line and I asked him about his drinking…it was the end of our friendship.
He never spoke to me again. That was 26 years ago…
I miss him very much.
Steve, I forgive you for that boundary mistake and for losing your best friend.
Strength Office 646
My 22 month old son is completely happy in his “Second super-real world” that he creates when he plays.
There are sounds, objects, people, animals, colors and shapes which are perfectly clear and present to him, which no one else can see or hear, that he exclaims about in the most emphatically declamatory fashion.
I so approve of his play.
It is joyous and certainly feels God inspired to me in his animation and exuberance.
With each of his actions following a complete disconnectedness from the previous action…his playfulness appears, to me, to be the very definition of real freedom.
This is how I feel when I write or play music.
Gummy doesn’t say this is wasted time he could be being productive or that someone else has more talent at playing and therefore he should not play.
He plays and, in a sense, that is the most spiritual thing a person, while solitary, can do.
Strength Office 647
Great health comes from little food, much exercise and moderate sleep.
Gandhi is right: Gold and silver are just nothing …without health.
Strength Office 648
“Seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness”
Now if I am chomping down on food, way past when I am hungry…do I suppose that that is God’s Righteousness?
That feels more like God’s Wrongteousness, for me.
“You shall know them by their fruit”
I don’t know…I think you may know them by their pies and cakes.
Strength Office 649
I am so grateful to you during this season of COVID to be well enough physically and spiritually to go back to my late teens/early 20’s and retrieve something I had to leave behind when I got serious about recovery 40 years ago.
It has been such a pleasure and privilege to visit that musical experience sober and to see it without the grandiosity or ambition of my youth.
It has been painful to work through the codependence on the one extreme and the narcissism on the other, to find a healthy, loving balance.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart…really thank you.
Strength Office 650
There is no strength where there is no honesty.
I have been being dishonest with myself that I can do things that my wife, my sponcees and my friends can do…but that I cannot.
I am “bodily and mentally different from my fellows”.
Anytime I seek out ways to intentionally make myself feel good my brain just starts to slowly hemorrhage and leak out spirituality like an old rusty oil can in a nasty, musty, tool shed…until I feel so boundaryless that the mere presence of other human beings becomes excruciatingly painful.
It is not their fault. It is mine, because I have destroyed my own natural social resiliences by devouring my own boundaries through my own unwillingness to feel the natural healthy pain that occasionally comes along with a full life.
If I am not the problem…there is no solution.
Strength Office 651
To Racheal, the oldest living daughter of Tom Powers, founder of All Addictions Anonymous:
Saturday July 24, 2021
I am grateful for your time and willingness to share your experience with me.
I would like to know what it was like for you as a daughter to grow up with Tom P. as a father.
The reason I ask is that I raised a daughter, who is now 34, by myself, who has now has 15 years in AA and is a psychotherapist.
My father was an alcoholic, was in military intelligence and was extremely physically and sexually abusive.
I have devoted 40 years of my life to recovering from that experience, have written two dozen books on recovery, created a program 11 years ago quite similar to AAA and worked with over 60,000 people in the last four decades.
From my perspective, having a father like me would have been an unattainable dream come true…but that may not have been the case for my daughter.
I have approached Matt twice in the last year to ask him to speak to you about your experience and he has been very respectful of your privacy.
I asked him to hazard a guess and recently he has proffered forth that being around Tom offered a couple of things that he felt might have been problematic, for him, Matt, relationally:
- With Tom there was always a demand
- With Tom he always wanted you to work
These two observations were Illuminative for me in that, quite unintentionally, I can see, in myself, how I may have presented that way to my daughter.
Gandhi had four sons. Three grew up healthily, but one grew up a prostitute, drug dealer who hated his father all his life.
I feel fairly certain that I am asking you questions that are painful, for you, but what I don’t understand is how having a father like Tom could be painful.
I know that in Tom’s writing he is often black and white, extreme, harsh and humorless…but that is all I can ascertain.
If what I am asking is too much to ask, please forgive me, I certainly understand and will add you to my daily prayers.
If this is something you are able to share about… I would be very grateful to you.
Strength Office 652
“ Suffering might be alright for saints…but, it certainly didn’t appeal to us”.
In that most venerable electronic tome, The Internet, suffering is defined as “pain, difficulty, distress or hardship”.
Antonyms are “contentment, joy, health and peace.”
My favorite saint, Augustine, said “The greatest evil is physical pain.”
I am not sure that that is true, but even if it is, let’s dial it down a bit and deal with something that is not “the greatest evil”, but is probably much more common…emotional pain, which would then be, according to Augustine’s rubric…just sort of a medium-sized evil.
I don’t like feeling, needy, hurt, sad, lonely, fear, shame, guilt, depression, paranoid, frustrated, bitter, despair, confused or doubtful.
It “certainly doesn’t appeal to me”.
I like feeling healthy, well-exercised, well-slept, funny, excited, peaceful, joyous, safe, satiate…you get the picture.
But, if I want to stay free of addiction, which does eventually bring on physical pain (and therefore the greatest evil) I need to be willing to endure some moderate evil…without acting out.
“It certainly doesn’t appeal to me”, but I can handle it…as long as I hang around with you guys.
Strength Office 653
I have to “change my playgrounds, playmates and playthings”
Old 12 step slogan
When I got into sex addiction recovery I had to sift through my AA friends carefully to be able to discuss openly what was going on with me sexually.
When I got interested in recovering from all addictions I had to sift through my sex and food addiction recovery friends carefully.
I spent an hour last night with a man who I knew five years ago in Sexaholics Anonymous and Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous.
I set a boundary with him back then because of his unattended ACA rage…I need to maintain that boundary.
I have my own work to do on myself and I need to feel safe to do that.
Strength Office 654
How to find God:
There is no one thing that I do to find God.
God is found through a series of actions, like a combination lock:
So, for me:
weighing and measuring my food,
writing my food down,
searching for and finding my soul,
all, collectively, create the neuro-chemical aptitude to perceive God.
Strength Office 655
“America’s health care system is neither healthy, caring, nor a system.”
The mental health care system is insurance based so there necessarily must be something wrong to get paid.
But what if we looked at what creates positive mental health.
For me, nothing beats my brain into a manageable shape faster than a decision to be chaste for a finite period.
As a sex addict I had grappling hooks which were always extended to people of the female persuasion.
As a sober sex addict, those grappling hooks are always mildly, gently open, towards my wife….in an effort to be moderate, mind you.
But, when I ask her if she will agree to a period of chastity…I quietly put away those grappling hooks and shut the doors.
…And then my brain is healthy as it’s going to get in this life.
Strength Offices 656
Chastity periods are funny things…
My wife, son and I were walking down our street today and I met a woman I had dated 15 years ago.
She asked if Gummy was my son and remarked “Well, you had sex with somebody”.
I was doing a chastity period when I had originally met this woman and I wasn’t all that tempted at the time to change my mind.
When I saw her today…I realized I had made the right decision, LOL.
Strength Offices 657
“Religion without sacrifice means nothing” according to Gandhi.
AA says the same thing “If you drink…you are not in the program…you are around the program”.
I am willing to do anything to stay food abstinent today.
As a reward, I am willing to give myself the gift playing crazy guitar all my life, one day, three hours at a time.
Strength Offices 658
When I am out of ideas I pray “Cling to the Lord, and cry out for mercy”.
No medications at 66
Practicing the guitar
Strength Offices 659
Newton's first law states that “If a body is at rest it will remain at rest unless it is acted upon by a force”.
That means if you are a couch potato, you will remain one, until and unless… your sponsor kicks your butt.
Strength Offices 660
A Northwestern University study tracking 3,433 men and women for 18 years found that young adults who attend church or a bible study once a week are 50% more likely to be obese.
Man, my Christian friends in food recovery are sure gonna be mad when they hear that.
Strength Offices 661
“I’m not only my worst enemy, I’m the only real enemy I’ve got!“
Sometimes, I don’t really want to run, do push-ups, yoga or breath prayer.
Sometimes, I’d rather have filet mignon, Gouda cheese, drink two double Lattes and smoke a $20 cigar.
“We have to suffer to get well.”
Strength Offices 662
A paragraph read at every FA meeting defines abstinence as follows:
“Food addicts have an allergy to flour, sugar and quantities that sets up an uncontrollable craving. The problem can be arrested a day at a time by the action of our weighing and measuring our food and abstaining completely from all flour and sugar.”
I have completely followed that regime for 14 years…and will continue to.
But, for me, it is caffeine that sets up an uncontrollable craving.
I cannot do what members of Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous can do…and feel abstinent.
I am “bodily and mentally different from my fellows”.
Strength Offices 663
I am so grateful for the two simplest of things that give my life some of my greatest hope.
1)Counting my breaths, as I breathe deeply, and 2) surrendering each intruding thought as it enters my head.
With those two tools I can wander around, down inside myself, and look amiably for my soul…and on a blessed, healthy, lucky day…I can find it.
Strength Offices 664
I am grateful that the overwhelming desire to masturbate and the tsunami pull to cheat on my wife is gone.
I am grateful that the desire to intrigue, fantasize and objectify has been lifted.
I am grateful that comfort with chastity taught me that being without relationship was perfectly satisfying.
I am grateful for applying Saint Augustine’s maxim “ Perfect moderation is more difficult than complete abstinence” to my wife and I’s physical intimacy.
It has required surrendering some things I seriously like, but that has actually made me more unselfish…and that’s good for me, spiritually.
Strength Offices 665
I am on rock solid ground not drinking caffeine.
The world feels like it’s trembling to me when I imbibe caffeine.
Of course it’s not the world trembling…It’s me.
Strength Offices 666
When someone says “It’s a beautiful day”…my first reaction is “Let’s get high!”
Where did that get hard-wired in my brain?
Joe V….the boy that introduced me to world of drugs, fast cars and faster motorcycles.
Notice, on finding it was a beautiful day Joe didn’t say “Let’s go to the park, work out, play guitars or be of service to somebody…he suggested “Let’s get high”.
In the Lighthearted Offices Confucius says “To see and listen to the wicked is already the beginning of wickedness”.
Strength Offices 667
I’m not sure all competition is bad.
I did my third 5 mile run in three days trying to recover from a hamstring injury.
I was only going 5 miles an hour, but I got passed three times, by three different people.
I got tired of it, and raced each one of them…and beat them.
Racing these three increased my speed 27% over yesterday’s run.
That’s good for my heart…
So, yeah, competition is good for me.
Strength Offices 668
“The three men I admire most, they caught the last train for the coast…The day the music died.”
40 years ago I met a man who taught me not to be afraid of God.
He was a 40 year old Episcopal priest. (Episcopalians have always been, historically, very helpful to the 12 Step Movement.)
He was open to therapy and 12 step, not in a perfunctory, cursory, lip service sort of way, but in a real open-arms way.
And when he knew he was at his limit with his understanding of God, he said “You need a God with more torque”.
He was a model of breadth of understanding…and depth of willingness to understand things he did not understand.
And then, at 48 years old, the food began to slowly take him.
It quickly took the overwhelming presence and power he possessed, but then it destroyed him slowly, year after year, until now he is simply a polite, erudite, corpulent man with absolutely no power of God in him.
On bended knee, I plead with you, when I begin to veer away from food abstinence, please do whatever you must, no matter how much it hurts, to keep me on your path around food.
Strength Office 670
I am really grateful for four things this morning:
I don’t wake up hung over every morning, wishing more than anything that I didn’t feel that way, until 2 PM, when I would start to clear up mentally and physically, and by 5:00 pm I couldn’t wait to get started drinking again.
I don’t talk doctors into giving me pills and then overdose on them so that I can knock myself out of reality. It was perfectly legal, but incredibly dishonest.
I don’t smoke 40 cigarettes a day so that I have to take Sine-Off, Sine-Aid, Sudafed, Afrin, Alka-seltzer, Ibuprofen and Bayer aspirin at night to relieve the sinusitis.
I don’t use caffeine, that makes me feel joyously like a roller coaster just about to fly off it’s rails, until, to slow it’s out-of-control-ness, I misuse food and then use a cocktail of the above OTC meds to manage the headaches and random body pains appear with the intake of this substance.
Strength Office 671
While I am really grateful for the freedom from the basic four drug groups alcohol, drugs, tobacco and caffeine, I am also grateful for the more subtle recoveries:
I most grateful not to be torn to pieces by the addiction that most ravaged my life: sex, love, romance and relationship.
Years of neediness and longing. Wishing for the right person. Yearning for powerful sex. Longing for a deep and meaningful love.
All the years of masturbation. All the years of affairs. All the years of twisted marriages.
The “four drug groups” were just union cards to get in to recovery. The real life changing stuff, for me, was sex, love, romance, and relationship.
I am unspeakably grateful to God for guiding me through the subtleties of that profoundly spiritually treacherous region.
Strength Office 672
Then there’s my first addiction and my last addiction…food.
My very first cognitive memory, before 18 months old, was laying on my belly and feeling the soothing quality and the emotional calm that came over me after I drank my baby formula.
After recovering from sex, love, romance and relationship addiction there was still some tweaking that needed to be done on my food.
I had lost 60 pounds and kept it off for over 3 decades, but caffeine would come up and bite every few years and that would wreak havoc with my food.
Patrick Carnes, the founder of sex addiction, and the most prolific of clinical addiction researchers says, “If you don’t think you’re involved with addiction…look at that brown stuff you drink every morning”.
So, I am grateful for the recovery and the self-esteem that being thin has brought me the last 30 years.
Strength Office 673
I am grateful for the “soft-tissue” recoveries.
The AA 12x12 talks about a primary reason that we drank was “our defective relations with others”.
From the Adult Children of Alcoholics Anonymous I learned to not shame, blame or control people…that had to make me easier to get along with.
From Al-Anon I learned to strive for the “priceless gift of serenity“, which means simply being OK…whether I get what I want or not.
From Codependence Anonymous I learned the difference between “Selfishness…self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles” and “Enlightened self-interest manifesting in self-care”…That was a major shift, even deep into recovery.
From ASCA (Adult Survivors of Childhood Abuse) I learned the value of expressing healthy anger to keep me out of the illness of “Victimhood”.
From all these four programs I distilled four usefulness tools: feelings, boundaries, limits and needs.
Strength Office 674
By 1951, 16 years after AA’s start, a woman, who had been to every AA meeting from the very beginning, began to question AA’s doctrine.
She began to wonder if taking care of herself was really “Selfishness…self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles”.
She began to wonder “Am I selfish and egotistical if I notice how I feel?
She began to wonder “Am I being ‘obsessed with self’ if I set boundaries with other people who are doing harmful things…like smoking around children”.
She began to wonder “Am I not being a good Christian wife when I announce my limits and say “No, I won’t tolerate infidelity”?
She began to question is it “Selfishness…self-centeredness” to meet my need for safety: physical, emotional and financial?
She understood the Golden Rule and loved God with all her heart and her neighbor…but she was deathly afraid of those last two words Jesus spoke “as yourself “.
But, she acted with courage, and believing in God’s will that to love herself was equally as important as loving others, just as the Master had said,…she started Al-anon.
With that, a new spiritual era started.
One in which it was recognized that AA’s message was completely true…but only half the picture.
She completed God’s mission, just like Eve did.
It’s always a woman…
Strength Office 675
I am so grateful for God’s grace.
I was wrestling with a financial issue and, at 1:00 in the morning, a woman from England texted to thank me for helping her…and the spell of fear was broken.
Thanks God for using people to do your work.
Strength Office 676
For the first eight years of my recovery there was only one model of morality.
“Selfishness…self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles”
And then came the 90’s with a bold new paradigm…Addiction was about “not feeling your feelings”.
I have believed that both were equally valid and equally useful…but I have changed my mind.
If you do a random search on the internet and ask “What are the problems with AA? “
You get two often repeated answers:
- 13th stepping…that means taking sexual advantage of vulnerable newcomers
- Bullying of newcomers by “old timers“
It is always a recovering alcoholic raging at a newcomer about their “selfishness and their obsession with self.”
You can’t do that with the feelings model.
Instead you say “I feel neglected, hurt, angry, disrespected, unheard, not valued, unappreciated”.
We can all hear that…and we are lovingly glad to hear that.
I will continue to use the “selfishness” model, as a tool, when I sponsor…but I will continue to keep my boundaries up with people who abuse it.
Strength Office 677
Why don’t you choose your own conception of God?
I need a simple, clear answer.
It is easy to rant about atheism.
It is equally easy to rant about the Son of God.
But, I like Bill’s way of finding God through service and balancing it with Lois, his wife’s way of “Enlightened self-interest”.
Strength Office 678
It would be easy for me to obsess about global warming, political polarization or the rise of China to world dominance.
But, the Big Book, page 132, says:
“We do not carry the world’s troubles on our shoulders”.
I prefer Gandhi’s, “As with the body, so with the Universe.”
That takes me back to minding my own business…as Al-anon teaches me.
Strength Office 679
Gandhi made some terrible mistakes later on in life, as Solomon did.
I, too, have made terrible mistakes in recovery.
But, it is impossible for me not the recognize the general superiority of Gandhi’s spiritual toolkit:
disciplined daily prayer
renouncing overt wealth
That’ll certainly bring on the “Absolute Purity” that the Oxford Group talked about and that AAA still talks about.
Strength Office 680
One of the cool things about having multiple recoveries is it if I start to slip, there is a margin, before I get to the serious stuff.
I get to the coffee before I get to the food.
I get to the food before I get to the sex.
I get to the sex before I get to the alcohol.
As the Book of Psalms says “The boundaries have fallen for me in pleasant places”.
Strength Office 681
One of our supporters buttonholed me on the street and said “You keep touting Gandhi, but I don’t like what he did to his young female relatives.”
I said “He fucked up. He repented. I am for forgiveness.”
He said, “I am for forgiveness, too.”
This is the second time in 6 months I have experienced this confrontation.
There are tools Gandhi used and things he taught that are worth remembering.
Perhaps, I will write them out in a more contemporary language so that we can continue to profit from what God revealed to him…without all the political misunderstanding that surrounds him, currently.
Strength Office 682
Three separate doctors have told me, independently, about the health values of fasting.
“It gives your body time to rest”, they all say.
My old idea of fasting was: Nothing but water for a period of time, say 3 to 10 days.
But I can simply fast one meal in a day, or two meals.
This practice is not approved by OA or FA, because the fear is that it “sets someone up” for binging. If that is true about you…don’t do this.
I have done partial fasts for six days now and I find that it affects my meal taking, not as a “set up” for binging, but rather that I feel like I want, or need, less food at mealtime.
That is very helpful to me as I get older because my body doesn’t metabolize food the way it used to.
For me, these days, my relationship with God is more about food and exercise, not so much around sex or alcohol, so this tool is helpful.
In Philippians it says: “Their god is their stomach“
Partial fasting helps me eradicate this unintentional obeisance to an unworthy God, that I was unconscious I was surrendering to…
Strength Office 683
I sponsored a man, on and off, for 18 years.
He was the richest man I ever worked with, with 300 million dollars, 30 cars and two mansions.
But, he was miserable…because he couldn’t get his wife to act like his hooker.
I asked him if sex with the hooker was worth 150 million, 15 cars and one mansion.
He said “No“, so I suggested some chastity, so that he could appreciate the sex he did have, instead of feeling sorry for himself about the sex he did not have.
When I was introduced to chastity in 1988 it was required that you do a minimum of 60 days to speak in a particular SLAA meeting…kind of like FA requires 90 days before they let you speak there.
But, like the above office on fasting, I can chose to fast for different lengths: five days, a week, or just a day.
There is something positive, unifying, congealing and integrating that happens to my mind the moment I decide to be chaste.
I have only done it, intentionally, for three days now, but I feel very focused, yet very relaxed and very “Let-go-and-let-God”.
Like everything else in my life…it’s “three hours at a time”.
Strength Offices 684
Inventory, Prayer and Service are what is necessary for me to stay abstinent and
“reasonably happy” as the long version of the Serenity Prayer says.
Inventory and gratitude:
There are four things that I historically like, that make me feel good physically:
Lying down relaxing after a five mile run.
Hot water of a shower hitting my back.
New strings on my guitar.
But, God has seen fit to add a new, sweet, pleasure in my life.
As I spend time fasting, I find that 3 ounces of cold, distilled water is absolutely, delectable tasting, for me.
Thank you for the little things, Lord.
Strength Offices 686
Step Seven…Balance and humility
I have been known, as all addicts are, to be extreme.
“He is arrogant and never at rest, because he is as greedy as the grave and like death is never satisfied.”
This is the best description of the character defect of greed I’ve ever read.
It’s from the ancient Jewish prophet Habakkuk.
On the other hand…I want to be responsible as a man, husband and father.
Unemployment and the rent moratorium end in the next 30 and 60 days, respectively.
I am grateful for the opportunities to grow that these two services have provided.
God, Help me be thankful and responsible…but, not “arrogant and never at rest”. Amen
Strength Offices 687
I watched the 1946-1966 cartoon series Heckle and Jeckle with my son Gummy who will be two years old in 25 days.
He had a cold and was kind of fading in and out.
I cleaned him up and fed him…one bite at a time.
When I was deep in my narcissism and religious addiction and fat as a pig I used to go around telling everyone what to do.
Jesus, I was sick…
But, God cleaned me up and fed me…one bite at a time.
Strength Offices 688
“Health is the greatest possession. Contentment is the greatest treasure.”
Treasure = something highly valued.
So, “greatest treasure” is greatest valued.
HP, help me to stay content, just for today, three hours at a time…Amen.
Strength Office 689
One of my Sponcee’ s asked about edginess:
If you Google the word “edgy” after finding “ tense, nervous and irritable “ you find this very interesting “informal” definition: “ at the forefront of a trend; experimental or avant-garde.”
In the Light Heart Offices Lao Tze says:
“Guard and keep three treasures:
Deep love, frugality, and not to dare to be ahead of the world.”
Not to dare to be ahead of the world? What’s wrong with that?
Because it causes envy and essentially pisses people off.
That being said the Big Book calls us to be the “intelligent agents, spearheads of God's ever advancing Creation”.
So, with a word of prudent caution, as they do in Al-anon, let’s do a group inventory…
The “What if there were a cure for addiction” book is high risk because AA has taught us that “Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic”. I agree with that 100%.
So, it you read the title, but not the book, you might misinterpret what we actually believe, which is, not that it is possible not to drink again, but rather what All Addictions Anonymous says, that all addiction can be completely eradicated…if you kill yourself working at it, day and night, for years.
Strength Office 690
Secondly, it’s a little dangerous to be supporting Gandhi’s beliefs these days because after his wife died he slept, chastely, with naked young girls. This was an extremely bad idea, he realized that, and repented.
Intelligent, educated people have suggested that reading Gandhi is reprehensible because of this mistake.
Makes me wonder though…Should we not read the Book of Psalms when King David does the same thing with Abishag the Shunammite in the Old Testament Book of Kings 1?
I find Gandhi’s ideas on fasting and chastity very helpful…and I forgive him his stupid mistake.
Strength Office 691
People are extremely divided on the Bible. One group says every word is true.
The other group says none of it is true.
The Big Book says “Try to see where religious people are right. Make use of what they offer”.
Since most folks at ActWithCourage are either sex addicts or food addicts we have a version of the Bible that has every word about sex and food in our edition.
PS: we also have every word in the Bible about music…but that is more for the editor.
Strength Office 692
We have a book on food addiction recovery that utilizes all the brilliant work that Overeaters Anonymous taught us since 1960 plus all the new information from Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous founded in 1989.
These two groups can be fairly antagonistic, but AA says “Take what you can use an leave the rest.”
At ActWithCourage we also include the observance of exercise, the freshness of our food and concerns over carcinogenic materials in our food as legitimate materials to be inventoried as part of our health.
What’s edgy here is, if you say this in an open FA meeting…you may come out with your head on a plate.
Once again, it is wise, not to “try to be ahead of the world” , but rather simply “To Thine own self be true”…
Strength Office 693
I sat on a stage about to launch into a performance, premiering a new CD on Chastity, in 2000 with the second richest, most powerful man in the South.
A moment before we started he looked at me and said “ It is hard to imagine an idea with universally less appeal than this”.
The New Chastity Book outlines the tools and methods for accessing this diamond cutter in our “Spiritual toolkit”…but nothing makes people madder faster.
There is a line in the New Testament that says “Do not give what is holy to dogs, or they will turn on you and tear you to pieces”.
While that sounds a little harsh…I get what the author means.
Talk about the edge…
Strength Office 694
Finally, there is “My story: 30 years of sexual sobriety”.
This is a double edged sword. Truthfully, people listen to me because I haven’t masturbated for 30 years, and that is good because it gives people who are addicted to sex, particularly pornography, hope.
But, it also infuriates “normies” or “earth people”.
I had a man confront me on the street just three days ago about how he believed that we were wrong and that masturbation was good for husbands of pregnant wives…
In traditional 12 step there are two steps you write out: the fourth step inventory of resentments, fears and sex and the eighth step list of the people you have harmed.
At AWC we write out Steps one, two, three, four, six, eight, ten and eleven.
That’s a bit edgy, but when you are trying to stop all addictions…it’s important to be thorough.
So what is the take away on this seven part series on edginess?
Administratively it suggests putting these seven books under one simple, low key title, perhaps “God's ever advancing Creation”…or “Spiritual extra credit”.
Spirituality, I see, more and more, the prudence, freedom and joy that comes from anonymity and the just plain common sense of Lao Tze’s admonition “Not to dare to be ahead of the world.”
Strength Office 696
My oldest living friend and I communicate through daily texting of lines from the surprisingly lowbrow comedy movie Talladega Nights.
We know every line…
At midnight tonight, pausing from a daily run under the Golden Gate Bridge, I wondered what our communication meant.
It’s this: What you think or say doesn’t matter…it’s what you do.
Are you masturbating?
Are you eating meat?
Are you drinking beer?
Are you smoking cigars?
Are you drinking coffee?
This is what’s important to us. Everything else…is just a line from Talladega Nights.
Thanks my friend. You don’t know how much you mean to me.
“Hold on baby Jesus…this is gonna get bumpy”.
Strength Office 697
AA has an expression: “It’s a good thing that all the inmates don’t go crazy on the same day”.
That means: When someone dives back into their addiction, or multiple addictions, there are others who are staying sober, or getting really better, and there is usually one or two persons who are actually incendiary devices, they are so on fire.
Thank God for the Group Of Drunks…
Strength Office 698
I am so grateful to be abstinent this morning.
I lived my life, since I was 15, as an amorphous conglomeration, a “moving target”, of addictions.
This morning, my mind is clear and calm, and my heart is content.
As Lao Tse says “Contentment is my greatest treasure”.
I am so grateful…
Strength Office 699
I asked my wife how she felt about doing some chastity and she agreed.
The balance of the night was sweet, peaceful, light yet close.
When people first see me and Alona they often believe that I am in this marriage for the sex.
They often believe Alona is in it for the money.
What they don’t know is that I am always angling for chastity and she married a musician…I mean, how much money could there be in that enterprise? We laugh about that a lot.
I see something in my wife that no one else can see…
I always tell Alona the story: Do you know how many people know who the 6th best mathematician in the world is?…Only 5.
I don’t want to embarrass her, but…
My wife is the most spiritually gifted woman I have ever met. Not through education or degrees, but just out of the raw, naked talent, purified in the crucible of 14 years of emotional abuse and physical deprivation.
How do I know that?…Because, I am one of the 5.
Thank you God for blessing me with way, way more than I deserve.
Strength office 701
“Once made equal to man, woman becomes his superior.”
Nothing says more, funnier, about women’s basic superiority to men than this little ironic ditty from Socrates.
Women’s basic genetic predisposition to being better at relationships is obvious even to children. I mean, who do children run to when they are hurt, their Mom or their Dad? ...They know who’s better.
Women are better at feelings, which is the life blood of intimacy, which is the key to loving...and even Jesus said that was the most important thing in life.
And when push comes to shove...how many guys can make a baby? Just that argument alone makes women closer to being in God’s likeness than any man could ever be.
All that being said, guys, there are four things you should not argue with your wife about:
When you say “Let’s throw these old clothes away, and she says “Let’s give them to the Goodwill”...let it go. You know that they will end up in a bag in storage, but articulating that will make you a selfish, narcissistic ass...just, let it go.
When you are freezing and want to partake of a portion of the covers at night, which might seem reasonable to you, just be cold, and deal. She will not understand that she has stolen the entire blanket in her sleep and will only be outraged if you inquire about it with her.
Never, under any circumstance, try to be on time when your wife is doing her makeup...Just lie to your host and hostess and say you that you were late because you ran over the family pet, that you called the prophet Elisha and had the dog raised from the dead, but that it took another hour and a half...and that you are truly sorry that you are late.
Never ask your wife which way is North...
Lyndon Johnson used to say that he got along with his wife because he followed two rules:
1.My wife is always right.
2.If my wife is wrong...see Rule one!