The Alcoholic and the Easier, Softer Way

“Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now.  If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it-then you are ready to take certain steps.

At some of these we balked.  We thought we could find and easier, soft way. But we could not.” – The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, pg. 58

We, as alcoholics and addicts, may want to find a way to become sober the easy way, the least painful way; the simplest course of action to bring us to the place where we are no longer imbibing.  We’d like to traverse the path of least resistance to obtain our sobriety.  Many times this is what we want to have happen.  However, as many who have gone before us, we learn that trying to climb the hill of sobriety along a slippery slope of ease and comfort just doesn’t work.  Invariably, we fall back down to the bottom, like Sisyphus and the stone.

Some of our forebearers within the world of Recovery have made examples of themselves, albeit inadvertently, as people who attempted to take the path of least resistance and subsequently failed.  There is a return to using and/or drinking without realizing that by shirking the work, they have inevitably sacrificed their sanity and serenity, and the well being of the people around them.  The hand-waving dismissal of the opportunity for living a richer life built on Recovery is tantamount to the idea of a magic wand quickly waving away the mass destruction created when using and drinking.  It just doesn’t work like that. Our Recovery predecessors have shown us that for near-to-every attempt at sobriety that has been sought working a less than fearless and thorough program seemingly ends up back at the bottle, pouring yet another drink and wondering all the while, why didn’t it work?

With the staff at this California alcohol rehabilitation center, we begin to learn how to follow suggestions with the simplest of tasks.  If we are unable to move forward by making our beds or attending our groups, how can we expect to follow more detailed instructions later?  We must learn to adhere to the simplest suggestions first and then we can proceed further with what may seem like more taxing efforts.  If we don’t start to enact the following of suggestions now, how can we expect to have the results we see others who have followed accordingly become our results when we ourselves are unable to pursue taking on the easiest of responsibilities per another’s direction?

The Alcoholic and a Greater Power

“The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink.  Our so-called will power becomes practically nonexistent.  We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago.  We are without defense against the first drink.” – The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, pg. 24

This is a near-terrifying thought.  We are being told that there is no way to safeguard ourselves against the substance(s) that call to us.  The drink and/or drugs which whispers in our respective ears, beckoning us to repeat the insanity that initially brought us to this Los Angeles alcohol rehab.

What can we do to keep ourselves safe and sound?  We may read that it is beyond our power to control ourselves and that no other human power can keep us sober.  We may hope and pray that we’ll be brought to a place of sanity though we know not how.

Here is where the staff at this California alcohol rehabilitation center can direct us toward a way to tap into a Power greater than ourselves.  In using their suggestions, we may move toward this Power which can allow us to begin the building of a sturdy foundation on which our shaky legs start to learn to stand.

Connecting with this Power seems to be one of the only ways to stave off the drink and/or drug.  At any time we may suffer from a strange mental blank spot regarding the damage we’ve done while drinking and/or using.  That momentary lack of memory coupled with relying only on ourselves may immediately precede our imbibing.  In tapping into this Power greater than only ourselves, we may be given a reprieve from destruction.  It is during this reprieve where we may be able to help others and stop crushing our lives, the lives of all the people we touch, and, many times, the people with whom our people are in contact.  It is the tapping into this Power, whatever Power that is to which one connects, that may very well keep us from reaching out for that first drink.

The Alcoholic and Showing Up

“Most of us sense that a real tolerance of other people’s shortcomings and viewpoints and a respect for their opinions are attitudes which make us more useful to others.  Our very lives, as ex-problem drinkers, depend upon our constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs.”  The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, pg. 19 – 20

How many times have we been asked to do something for someone else?  How many times have we begged off for some vague reason, canceling out on our previous promise to show up, be it days or even hours prior to the promised event?

Many times, before we entered into this Los Angeles drug rehab, we made it a point to make plans and/or agree to activities and then we would cancel.  We fell short on our various promises to show up for a variety of people over and over again.  We couldn’t seem to find a way to follow through to be there for others.

We learn, albeit slowly, that showing up is a huge part of living a life of service and, therefore, a life of genuine purpose.  There may be times now, in our sobriety, where we are ever-so-sorry we promised to show up somewhere for something yet, our feelings aside, we appear where we say we will be.  Whether we want to or not, we still show up.  Now, it’s important, if not more than important, to let others know they can rely upon us when the chips of their lives are down and their going’s gotten rough and tough.  Our very lives depend upon us being there for their very lives.

It’s not always easy to show up.  There are times when pulling the proverbial covers up over our respective heads and hiding from the world and the people in it, seem like the far better, or, at least, much more comfortable, idea.  In doing that, we refuse to handle our responsibilities and our being available for others is sacrificed for our selfish, self-centered selves.

The staff here at this drug rehab in California will begin to lay the groundwork about how the idea of showing up, and subsequently the action of showing up, is imperative to building a solid foundation of responsibility.  In our nascent understanding of responsibility and how crucial that is to living a life of service, we then begin to learn that we must avail ourselves to others and put their needs before our wants.  When we show up, when we help another person in need, we are definitively contributing to the honeyed harmony of life and listening to that lilting melody of service as it sings softly in our ear is the sweetest & most satisfying sound ever.

The Alcoholic Addict and Acceptance

“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.  When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it supposed to be at this moment.” – The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, pg. 417

How many times have we been disturbed by everything and/or everyone around us?  What has run through our minds as we’ve been bothered by situations that are not to our liking?  Have we spent an inordinate amount of being unsettled by that which we didn’t find favorable?

Acceptance; it is the key to living a life of serenity.  The situations we find ourselves in, even long after we are sober, can be less-than-favorable.  We may object to the actions and/or ideas of those around us.  The more we struggle against our self-imposed chains keeping us locked and bound to the discomfort of that which we are not in favor, the harder it is to have peace within our hearts, our homes, and in our interactions with others.

We must learn to find a way to accept that which happens around us, when those are situations over which we have no control.  However, we need to find a way not to use the idea and action of acceptance to be our excuse in avoiding the taking of action.  We can accept a situation and work, within a productive way, to facilitate healthy change.  Whether the change happens or not, we are indebted to the idea of letting the results go.  Letting the results be what they are, as long as we do the necessary work, is a very large part of what acceptance is all about.  It’s not about shirking duties and shuffling feet through wet sand; it’s about putting effort into the next right action and being able to stay emotionally separate from the what-happens-next.

Alcoholics & Addicts: A Potential End Result

“As animals on a treadmill, we have patiently and wearily climbed, falling back in exhaustion after each futile effort to reach solid ground.  Most of us have entered the final stage with its commitment to health resorts, sanitariums, hospitals, and jails.  Sometimes there were screaming delirium and insanity.  Death was often near.”  The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, pg. 107

The idea of jails, institutions and death may seem extreme and dramatic.  More often than not, one or more of these inevitably becomes our end result.  This information is based on empirical data and not theoretical commentary.

In our alcoholism and addiction, the unfortunate truth is we drive ourselves into the grave.  The situation we are in is dire.  If death doesn’t take us, we may try to expedite its arrival on our own volition.   Perhaps we are being swallowed by our desperation yet our reliance upon our narcotic balm, our alcohol-based salve, no longer eases our internal wounds.  When this happens, we may find ourselves taking actions which propel us toward death at an alarming rate.  Our souls may be crying for help yet our behavior is unceasing.  At the arrival of this juncture, we may beg for death to take us.

Maybe we start our journey into the world of sobriety due to, initially, a hospital stay or a jail term which causes us to be physically separated from imbibing our item(s) of no-choice.  Our travels toward the road which leads us to sobriety may begin by default, as said hospital or jail stay has initiated our physiological split from drugs and alcohol.  At this point, we are being given the chance to begin anew.  It is during this time when we may be released from our perpetual suffering, not by death for which we beg but by a chance at life, which we see as if we are watching the dawn spread over the eastern horizon.

The Alcoholic and Financial Insecurity

In the scope of our addiction and/or alcoholism, we may have moved like Tasmanian devils through other peoples’ lives.  It may not have only been other people we affected; perhaps we tore through our savings like a tornado through Kansas on a hot, muggy day.  Our financial stability is long since gone due to our actions & behaviors.  Maybe we burned through money with no thought of anything other than our next drink and/or drug.  We may have sold things which, under other circumstances, we would have never parted subsequently using whatever paltry sum we could hustle to try to feed & fill that hole within us.

Right now, our financial state may cause a near-heart-stopping fear.  How do we fix all of this?  Where do we start?  The terror may cause us to freeze in our financial tracks.  Even though we are no longer imbibing, we may still spend willy-nilly.  Fear not, with every step forward, we are given a new opportunity to make a different choice.

As we approach our new lives, it is important to remember the damage we did not occur overnight; nor will the repair happen within one day.  We must not beat ourselves up for these mistakes nor must we revel in our past financial transgressions.  It is time to learn a new way; a way built on action of pennies into piggy banks and not grandiose ideas of rolling around on feather beds stuffed with hundreds.

Within the walls of this Los Angeles drug rehabilitation center, the opportunity to take stock of the financial damage we may have created, without letting it eat us inside out, is facilitated by the understanding staff.   Though we may have incurred great debt, it is possible to return to a healthy financial life.  There are many who have lost thousands, if not more, and have been able to return to a place of, if not riches, a steady life with their finances in check.  It can be done.

The Bottle is a Symptom

When we first start on our path to sobriety, we’re never sure of our footing.  What do we do with ourselves, with whom do we talk, how do we behave?  As we begin, we may hear things along the lines of “Keep comin’ back.” or “just keep showing up.”  We don’t really know or understand what our actual problem is, only that we don’t know how to act in the world when we’re separated from drugs and alcohol.

At the start, it’s easy to believe that our problem is the drugs or the alcohol however, that’s not the case.  The bottle is a symptom.  Our problem begins long before we take the first drink.  We start hearing the term “mental defective” and maybe that angers us.  Who is anyone to say we are, as we think we’re hearing, not right in the head?  Now, with that said, we have to take a step back and look at the truth of our situation.  We used alcohol and drugs because, in addition to liking the effect they produced, they eased our way in the world; at least we thought they did.   Why did we need an “easing” into the world?  Could it be that we didn’t think in the same way as others?  Could it be that we couldn’t see past the end of our own nose, to take into account what others needed?  Maybe it was that our skin and our souls didn’t feel quite like they fit one another and that trying to edge ourselves into the world while feeling so disconnected & separated from ourselves and others tore at us.  What does that say?  We may want to look at the idea that the problem of the alcoholic centers in his/her mind.
The further proof of that is when alcoholics have “gone back out”, meaning, after being sober for a period of time, they opted to try to drink again.  The thought process may have been along the lines that they could now drink like normal men and women.  Many times, when this happens, there is a strange mental blank spot, and an inability to truly recall the nightmare that ensued after we took the first drink.  The recollection of that incomprehensible degradation from which we suffered at our lowest point is suddenly absent from our consciousness as the glass, the bottle, the pipe, the pill, etc hits our lips.

All of this reinforces the idea that we have a skewed thought process.  Even when we know drinking and/or taking drugs doesn’t *help ease our way* any longer, we keep trying.  We are not in our right minds when we are drinking and we need to learn a new way of thinking, a better way of acting, and a more mindful way to be present and available in the world.  We must shift our actions so that our thoughts can shift and when our thoughts shift, our actions reflect that.  Our ideas keep us beholden to where we are.  Where do our ideas live?  They live in our minds.  If we aren’t thinking correctly how can that be dubbed anything less than being mentally defective?

The Alcoholic and Willingness

“… “Do I now believe, or am I even willing to believe, that there is a Power greater than myself?”  As soon as a man can say that he does believe, or is willing to believe, we emphatically assure him that he is on his way.” – The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, pg. 47

Within the scope of addiction and alcoholism, it is understood that we, as a power unto ourselves, are incapable of managing and controlling our using and drinking.  This has been shown to us time and time again.  We must be willing to allow another Guiding Force the chance to direct us, to help us move past this damaging way of living.  We must tap into a Power greater than ourselves if we are to be restored to sanity.

That is an essential component of getting and maintaining sobriety; the willingness to be willing.  Willing doesn’t mean fully embracing a concept which may be beyond our grasp at the moment.  Willing, by definition, means inclined toward.  It doesn’t affirm anything other than being ready to consider another path, which is the natural step after truly understanding we cannot do this solely by and on our own power.

Can this willingness to put our faith in something other than ourselves give us half a chance in the battle against substances?  According to many who have come before us, this is another key in the unlocking of the door to Recovery.  This “willingness” opens us up to the progression of moving toward living a life of worth.  It gives us an opportunity to become of maximum service in the world, to whomever we encounter, which is the ultimate goal.