Friday, August 10, 2007

The Path

You’re on a path through the woods, long and wide. So wide you can hardly see one side or the other. It’s beautiful, with overhanging trees and occasional wildlife to amaze you at every stride, should you choose to look.

There are occasional rocks and branches that may trip you up, and beautiful flowers that may make you pause on your journey to admire them. But still the path moves forward, and you keep moving, occasionally running to make up for the time lost.

The path bends and winds. It may move east to west or west to east, but only occasionally does it go north or south. You have no compass, save the whisperings in your minds of directions from others long since forgotten. And though you dwell on the direction your heading, you often forget to ask where you are.

Occasionally there is a small path that seems to appear on the left or right. You have only a small idea of their destination or direction. Some go north and some go south, and you cannot tell which is which. Some are not even paths at all, just figments of your imagination, a fool’s errand waiting to happen.

Then you come to the crossroads, huge and vast. You stand in the center, and cannot even see the roads around you. You spin, trying to get an idea where you came from or where you were heading, but no direction is clear. You want the path that heads north, but have no idea which path that is.

One direction you turn will lead back the way you came, another will move forward in the same direction, maintaining the status quo. Some ways you’ll walk the long distance only to find no path exists, though you may see that before getting to the side of the road. One path will head up, the positive path, and one will head down, seemingly towards disaster.

In the crossroad exists the greatest fear, the true uncertainty. And in the crossroad exists the greatest possibility, the true potential for positive change. We choose our path and move forward, perhaps with the help of a higher power, and hope that we choose a path that leads us to where we want to go.

This is life as I see it, and today I am happy to walk this path. Perhaps I will see you along the path, and maybe we will walk it together, maybe for a short time, maybe for longer. But each step, no matter which direction, is something to be thankful for.


Posted by Scottage at 11:50 AM / | |  

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Confronting the Past, the Present, and the Darkness Between

I’ve been working on myself for the past year plus, trying to deal with the demons of my past. I am confronting these demons from a number of different sides, with a number of different methods, and all have been moving me closer and closer to serenity and peace of mind. But to get there, I’ve had to confront so many very tough issues.

Today, that stepped up a level. My mother came into town today, to join with me in all those methods, and hopefully get to a resolution on so many of the issues that involve her. We spent multiple hours today working on our issues with a couple of support networks, that time will triple tomorrow and Friday. Definitely a long weekend.

Now don’t get me wrong, my mother is a very well intentioned woman. She cares for me and loves me, and wants to be as helpful as possible in my recovery and in my life. But she is also controlling, and wields a mighty sword to get her way: she utilizes guilt, and very effectively at that. Hell, she could be a professional guilt artist.

So today, we started discussing issues from our past, with help from professionals and amateurs. My mom brought up case after case of my not doing her will, and laid down guilt trip after guilt trip surrounding these issues. At one point, I lost my cool as she laid it on thicker and thicker. And the whole time I tried to urge her to accept me instead of trying to control me. Not surprisingly that fell on deaf ears.

At the end of one session, a professional made a very pertinent point; he said that there was no question of her manipulation and controlling behavior, but that I was exerting controlling behavior as well, by trying to urge her not to practice that behavior. The reality of that statement was like a slap in the face, and I walked away having learned perhaps the most valuable lesson of the day.

It was a rough day, reliving many memories I had hoped to put behind me. It was also hard to hear how much I had hurt my mom; I know that in many ways she hurt her self by maintaining the expectations that were never realized, and I need feel no guilt for them, but I love my mom very much, and hate to think I was the cause of her pain.

But as rough as the day was, the night is so much worse.

I tried to make calls, to contact the people in my local network, but they were all asleep or heading in that direction. I tried to contact people in my MySpace support network, but no one was around, no one was available to me. And as I shut out the lights to go to sleep, the demons descended upon me, a waking nightmare.

The memories of the past, long forgotten or more recent, are unable to be silenced in the darkness of my room. The fears of my childhood, even my adulthood, filling my every moment with a dread of not only what was done to me but of whom I am. And worst of all, the pain, guilt and shame of having hurt my mom, who I do care for. Real or imagined, that’s what hurts the most.

I got out of bed, unable to sleep, looking for the tool to help get out of my own head. I looked again for someone to talk to, preferably someone with less sobriety than I, and came up blank. I prayed again and again, but couldn’t focus as my thoughts kept drifting to this day. And finally, I decided to write, to get my thoughts on paper and out of my head.

I wish I had a friend to talk to, someone to hug or hold or just to tell me that it would all be alright. I wish I had my serenity more firmly intact, and that I could let these issues just roll off my back. I wish that this was a one day event, and that tomorrow I could have a stress free day. But this is God’s will, and I’m meant to live through it. And hopefully when it’s done, the demons that haunt me will allow me to rest, if only for a short time.


Posted by Scottage at 12:33 AM / | |  

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Acceptance, Expectations, and Serenity: Three Great Things That Go Great Together

You know, it’s been a very challenging week for me, with a series of issues that are both troubling and outside my control. Certainly, I could spend hours and hours fretting over these issues, but that is neither productive nor worthwhile. To maintain my serenity, I need a better way.

I need to strive for acceptance, acceptance that God has a purpose behind everything, and that if I accept God’s will over my own, I have a better chance for serenity. In the end of the day, practicing serenity is far better than bashing my head against the wall trying to change things outside my control.

An old-timer said to me recently that we have no control beyond our own fingertips...and he wasn't talking about the keyboard. What's more, if I can practice true acceptance, without any expectations on others or situations, I wind up less disappointed by the results. Plus, if I can avoid expectations, I won’t get disappointed.

Another person with many 24 hours in the program said that achieving acceptance on any particular issue is possible, but maintaining acceptance, and finding consistency in our life, is the most challenging task in sobriety. As such, I find it so important to work towards acceptance every day, as difficult as that might be.

When an issue gets caught in my mind, especially an issue I have no control over, I tend to rehash it time and again, going over every possibility and potential response, looking for a successful solution. And all the while, I get more and more upset, and my serenity drains from me.

And with each additional possibility comes a new set of expectations. I can play out a conversation in my mind to the utmost extreme, determining even the most trivial of comments and expecting the results I need or want. And of course, when these expectations are not met, I am consistently disappointed.

I must maintain acceptance, avoid expectations, and achieve the serenity that this way of life offers. Only through acceptance and a lack of expectations do I have any chance to maintain my sobriety. And today, there is nothing more important than my sobriety. So I try to practice acceptance whenever possible.

It doesn’t always work, and I have a long way to go before I achieve the consistency that will prevent drama and bring serenity. But at least today I have a better sense of what I need to do to attain long term sobriety, and I’m trying to do the work necessary to make that happen. To me, that’s a step in the right direction.


Posted by Scottage at 1:19 AM / | |  

Monday, August 06, 2007

Power or God: The Jury is Out

I was listening to a speaker tape the other day of a guy named Mickey B. He was a brilliant speaker, with a great message and a lot of humor. But one thing he said peaked my interest, and left me questioning the first step.

Mickey indicated that he talked to a number of people in the program, and asked each of them what powerless meant to them. All the members of the fellowship talked about inability to control their drinking after taking the first drink, the inability to know where they would end up should they drink, or even lack of control over people, places things and situations.

Much to my surprise, Mickey told all of them that they were wrong!

Mickey had a very different answer. Mickey B believes that powerlessness is a lack of God in one’s life. Now he does believe that any conception of God will do, so long as it makes sense to the fellowship member, because every concept of God, from a Jewish God to a light bulb would all push an alcoholic towards AA. And any God will channel the energy of the fellowship to its members.

To Mickey B, anyone who has a conception of God that makes sense to them is able to feel that energy, greater than the energy of all the individuals there, and the energy helps keep the alcoholic sober. In fact, the alcoholic gets so much energy, that the only way he can utilize it is to give some of that energy away. And thus, he sees the value of helping another alcoholic.

I definitely see the importance of the spiritual aspect of the program, and believe that without spirituality, no member of the fellowship can stay sober. But I know plenty of fellowship members with a God concept that are unable to stay sober. Often these people attempt to live a spiritual life, but never realize their powerlessness over alcohol. They believe that with a God concept and spirituality, their safe to drink.

Of course, we all know that an alcoholic is never able to drink safely. Once that first drop of alcohol touches the alcoholic’s lips, all bets are off. No amount of spirituality will stop the alcoholic from taking the next drink, and no God concept will prevent the drinking alcoholic from experiencing the consequences of the binge. At least, that’s the way I see it.

Don’t get me wrong; I believe a real relationship with a higher power is essential to sobriety. But I think that alone, a higher power will not help the alcoholic. He first must experience powerlessness, turn his will over to God’s, and follow the steps that will allow God to play an active role in his life.

That, at least, is the way I see it, but I look forward to hearing other people’s opinions. Please let me know your thoughts on powerlessness or Godlessness, and perhaps together we can come to some better understanding of the most fundamental issue of the program.


Posted by Scottage at 12:18 AM / | |