Monday, March 31, 2008

A Sick Cycle of Dependency

Being dependent on others almost comes natural when we are in a state of confusion. We seek others opinions, beliefs, and advice. What others say, if we place them in a position of authority, becomes "The Word." Unfortunately, the advice and opinion of the other person, is really a form of "approval" that we seek. The "approval" we seek is not healthy for the relationship. It forms a relationship of "one up and one down" (someone higher or a "step above" us).

Doing Too Much To Cover Up Our Needs
Unfortunately, no one can really give you advice as a prescription to your situation. Because no one really knows you, and knows ALL your history, and you ENTIRE situation. But because of alcoholism or in fact, anything that may be creating a huge amount of anxiety, can place us in a state of confusion.

So, instead of quieting our minds, seeking guidance from our inner strengths, and just listening, we tend to do the opposite. We run around keeping ourselves busy. We do for others. We then do more for others. We then do even more. We avoid and bury our feelings and we don't confront the fact that we are "stuck" or "have to make a decision." It becomes a way to procrastinate and avoid unpleasant situations.

Our "doing" becomes extreme - after awhile. We get so caught up in doing that we exhaust ourselves. Our "doing" is a way of avoiding an unpleasant situation at first. We then make the doing a habit. This doing mistakenly becomes a way in which we seek approval and validation from others instead of from ourselves.

By doing for everyone else, we set ourselves up for failure. We are in such a state of turmoil, we begin to believe our self-worth is relative to the amount we do for others AND we seek their approbation (approval). When we don't receive their approbation, we do more AND / or we feel "unworthy" or we feel "insignificant."

A Note About Children
I need to emphasize here that I am not saying, don't help our children. But I am also saying, don't not expect children to help out and do for themselves what they should be doing. When we do for our children what they should and could be doing and ought to be doing, we actually ROB them of their ability to GROW up to become fully functional adults.

We have 21-year-olds in this society of ours who EXPECT to be given things. And when they don't get, they sulk. We have 40-year-olds who are also the same way. Often, these are our alcoholic relatives of whom nothing has been expected, and therefore they return exactly that.

Seeking Approval By Seeking Advice
We then go to others for outside advice - on how we could be better at what we are doing. And unfortunately, the people who we are doing for, the people we are running around for - are the same people we go to for advice!!

And because we have set ourselves up in a relationship where we are "not as important" as the other person, their advice really is a form of approval - a form of acceptance - a form of validation - that we feel we need to have.

Does that make sense what I have written? Stop and think here for just a second and reflect on this.

The same people who we are doing for, supporting and doing what they should be doing for themselves, we wind up wanting their approval and validation. When we don't get it, often we seek their advice. This advice may not come in the form of advice or at least good advice, it may come in the form of criticism. Some may call it "constructive criticism" in order to put a veil on it.

We start by asking them, "Tell me what I should be doing?" Or "How can I do this better?" Or "I want to help. Tell me what would make you happy?" And of course we never make them happy.

Just think about that for a while today. Isn't this sick?

Realize this fact. Advice is everywhere, most of it is free and not worth the price. When we don't get their "advice" or their "approval" we are creating a cycle of dependency. It is a sick cycle.

Start by Stopping
The best place to start - to help you and get you on the right track, is to stop doing for others, and start taking time out for yourself.

Stop seeking the approbation of others. You don't need it. You are already a worthwhile person. You ARE good. You ARE strong. YOU ARE GREAT.

Remember, you are great. It's only WHAT you may be DOING, that may not be so hot. In this case, when youare doing only because you are seeking the approval of others, this is not such a great idea. When you know you are OKAY (a good and worthwhile person), you will tend to see yourself and your actions differently.

Reflect on your actions. Start by asking yourself - "Is this something I should be doing? Or is this something others could and should be doing?" And ask yourself, "Am I doing this (or asking this questions or advice) in order to seek the approval and validation of my worth from this person?" The purpose of these questions is not to have you stop doing these things, it is to get you to understand why you are doing them, and then decide if this is something you want to take on.

Take Time Out By Doing Nothing (or the Opposite)
Sometimes, the best thing to do is - NOTHING. It is the opposite of what our lives have been for months and years. The idea of doing NOTHING is so foreign that it is impossible for some of us to grasp.

Doing nothing is not what you may think. Doing nothing doesn't necessarily mean going to the beach and sitting there and watching the waves come in. Although, it could!!!

To me it means, stopping what I am doing and doing something for ME.

  • It may mean getting up at 4:30AM and reading spiritual books, leadership books, or something positive.
  • It means to me, now, finding an Al-Anon meeting and sitting there, breathing deeply and listening. Al-Anon has become a source of quieting my mind.
  • It means to me, going running in the middle of the day.
  • It means to me, that when in a business meeting, I do not need to take over and lead the discussion. It may mean I sit in the meeting, taking notes, and reflecting and watching, and seeing that things turn out the way I would have it turn out anyway.
  • It means to me, taking timeout to do something with my daughter, that I wouldn't do, because I am too busy to do that at that moment.
  • To me, doing nothing, may mean meditating. Or taking a nap.

It could mean to you, the above or something else. But doing nothing - can be - doing just the opposite of what you "normally" would do, but most of all, doing nothing and doing the opposite is a "focus on yourself" and not someone else.

This post, started off on the topic of being dependent and seeking the advice of others. I am suggesting that we slow down, and start thinking about who we are and what we are doing. And ultimately stop doing so much for others and start doing for ourselves. And accept ourselves as worthy and worthwhile individuals.

Friday, March 28, 2008

On-line Weekend Al-Anon Meeting on; Alcoholism In The Home

On-line Weekend Al-Anon Meeting on; Alcoholism In The Home
If you have found this website you are invited to join us in a weekend long, Al-Anon Meeting.

The on-line meeting starts Friday evening 3/28/08 and runs to Sunday 3/30/08 evening.

Note: To view this post and the comments at the same time, click on the link here (click here) in order to get a better view.

Have you ever tried to explain what it like to live in a home as a child or as a spouse in the home with active alcoholism - to someone who has never been in it?

Living in a home with an alcoholic is difficult to understand by people who are not living in it. I personally have tried to explain it therapists (who do not have training in addictions) and found that they have no clue. I have read where people who have commented on this blog talked to neighbors, friends and relatives and gave them solutions that mirrored something out of "Men Are From Mars and Women Are From Venus." Even one trained addiction specialist, who is a recovering alcoholic, suggested I read Dale Carnegie's "How To Win Friends and Influence People" because I assume, he was not now living with an active alcoholic.

People who are on the outside just do not understand what we live through. They may say, "It's in your head." Or they may say, "Have you read this book, listened to this CD or gone to couples church outing?"

It is a disease. There are neurological effects that lead to dementia, which can lead to learning, memory and behavioral disorders. But worse, it affects the entire family system.

Below are some terrible, but accurate passages about how it affects children and adults

The following passages are from the book, "From Survival To Recovery"

"What is it like growing up in an alcoholic home? If you asked me a few years ago, I would have had to say, "I have no idea." My childhood was so painful that the only way I could survive was to block out the pain; I also blocked out the good. It was as if I had no life. When my family talked about events, I felt stupid because I couldn't remember them, and it frightened me that I couldn't remember. I couldn't feel, either. I was numb.

"What is it like? It's unremitting fear - fear of rejection, fear of the unknown, fear of being known - a constant, nagging fear that never goes away.

"It's lonely. It's wanting so desperately to be a part, yet pushing people so far away I couldn't possibly be connected. It's isolating myself and then being the outsider looking in and never fitting in. I'm often ashamed. I'm afraid to lose the only people who say they love me. I'm afraid they won't come back, and then I'm afraid they will. It's confusing. People say they love me and then they hurt me. In my gut, I know something is wrong, but I'm told I overreact or I'm too sensitive. So I learn to not trust my instincts.

"It's being needy. It's being convinced I am loved and unlovable. It's needing to hear over and over, "You're wonderful!" yet never believing it. So I always need to hear it again, and it's still not enough. It's feeling that I am not enough. It's having to do for others so that I can earn their love, yet feeling that what I give is never enough."


These are the voices of children and adults living in an alcoholic environment,

This is where we comment on the affects of what is happening in our homes or what has happened in our homes. And how can we try to tell someone who has never been through this?

Please comment on the topic or comment if you have a burning desire.

A Prisoner

A Prisoner. I heard this at the Family Night Rehab, from a man who was describing his life with his wife and her alcoholism. He was an ex-military person, who apparently spent some time in active combat.

A Prisoner. That's how I feel, or maybe felt. A Prisoner.

Not too many people - if any at all - can actually understand the feeling of living with an active alcoholic. Especially one that is angry, deceitful, lying and puts on a "show" to the outside world. No one will know how they can manipulate you, and make you lose self-confidence and self-esteem. Essentially, they make you feel inadequate, undeserving, unloved and often, like it (it = everything) is some how your fault. At least this is the words from some of the people from these meetings.

For someone reading this - who is not living with an active alcoholic - this may sound extreme. I can assure you - it is not.

Living with the alcoholic - even when I did not know she was drinking - somewhere deep inside, I was missing something. I look back now and know it was the hidden drinking of alcohol by my wife that was affecting me. It was big and little behavior that was out of the norm that soon became "the norm" that threw me off. But I didn't know it back then.

The weird behavior was; the throwing out (purposely losing) diamond earrings, because they were, "too small." Or falling down in the center of a sidewalk, because she had too much too drink (I didn't know it then, because I didn't see her drinking). Or when she threw up one morning on a street, on a beautiful spring morning in a quaint southern town on the Atlantic Ocean with my friend and his wife looking at her going, "what the ?" The burning of food. The burning of pots. The late bills.

How in the world did you miss this? You dismissed it because when you inquired about it to someone you trusted, you got "dismissed" as being "controlling" or a "control freak" or that, "I am a little ditzey." So, you start to doubt yourself. Self-doubt . . . a killer of instinct and all good from within.

It's all clear now of course. How could I have missed this? But we do. How many stories have I heard from both men and women who have spouses that hid their drinking - so well, that no one even had a clue. Next thing we know, there is no escape. Because we have become too weak, too ashamed, too much self-esteem lost, to leave, to get unstuck.

Then one day, something happens. We say - "Stop."

Where and when do we say this? How do we get away. I can tell you, that only through getting out of the house, every day, and meeting with YOUR friends or better - Al-Anon Meetings. Only at Al-Anon Meetings is really where you find people who understand.

I have compassion for the alcoholic. I really do. I feel sorry for her. She is being controlled by a substance that is powerful. Except in our society we see alcohol as "alright." It the alcoholic's fault for not being able to control themselves. It's "just" 10% of the population who can't handle it. If it was cocaine, well then, that's another story.

But it's not just the 10%. It may be another 25% - because of the effects on the family. Maybe the number is larger. We have made drinking glamerous and popular. We have become connessiuers of beer, wine, and scotch. Isn't that sad, knowing what we now know? The general population has not a clue of how this is a dangerous drug.

Are we prisoners? That is my question to you this morning.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Children of the Alcoholic Family

Outside the home, no one knows of the prison we live in. As mothers, and fathers, we know the feeling of being trapped. We know the gloom of the home of the raging alcoholic. We can take comfort in our tools we learn from Al-Anon. We can learn to detach, stop engaging, focus on ourselves.

But our children.

For them, it is a different matter. How can they possibly understand that something is wrong? How can they understand that mommy's and daddy's bickering and fighting is about one person trying to fix and control the chaos and other - the alcoholic - someone who has no control of what they are doing.

In fact, with the alcoholic, it is like dealing with two people. Except, you are mostly if not always dealing the alcoholism. Remember, "cunning, baffling and powerful."

Our children do not understand this. And we, if we grew up around it, we also did not understand. But we tried to cope (we didn't call it this). We were too young to learn real coping mechanisms. Often the alcoholic took it out on us. In some cases, the sober parent lashed out at us, only because of the frustration and not knowing who to turn to and how to relieve their frustrations and stress.

It is not called "the disease of the alcoholic." It is called and known as the "the disease of the family." It is unlike any other disease on earth. It affects the entire orbit of the family. The enitre family system. All the children and the grandparents and others who come in contact, were and are extremely affected, without their even knowing it.

I read to you from the book, From Survival to Recovery, an Al-Anon book. I was asked to chair the meeting Sunday, and was asked to find something in this book. So I did. I never had such a response from a group of grown men and women before. Every one of the people were moved. And they spoke up, so candidly, about the affect the alcoholic and the alcoholism played on them or their children.

Here are the passages I read this past Sunday, written by those who struggled in the home as children; (from page 14)

In the alcoholic family, the need and demands of the alcoholic frequently dominate all other needs. Preoccupied with the alcoholic, the other family members may be too exhausted, irritated, or overwhelmed to provide for the children;s needs as well. Some children try to help their families cope by being quiet, good, and asking for nothing. While mastering the art of disappearing into a remote part of the house, or going to a friend's home, or becoming invisible in the midst of a crowd, those of us who "got lost" also lost a sense of self and the belief that our own needs had any validity. Some of us became human chameleons who changed our personalities to fit whatever social and personal environment we encountered.

Growing up with the chaos and unpredictability created by alcoholism cause many of us to mask our confusion, anger, and shame by trying to be perfect. To prove to ourselves and the world that there was nothing wrong with us or our families, we scrambled hard in school to get straight A's, or work feverishly at home to keep everything neat and tidy. We became star athletes, artists, corporation leaders, humanitarians, and outstanding citizens. Inside, however, we feel driven, terrified by failure unable to relax or play, and lonely. Toward less responsible people who seem to make our efforts at perfection harder, we often became self-righteous and angry. Convinced that something terrible will happen if we lose control, we run ourselves ragged trying to take charge of everything and never know how much is enough. Until we begin to recover, many of us are trapped in a compulsive need to give more, love more and do more.

Now I skip to page 17 in the same book.

Each member of an alcoholic family tries to adjust to the problem in his or her own way. Our adjustments depend on our situation in the family (whether we are a spouse, sibling, child, relative) and on our individual emotional temperaments. We have in common the tendency to keep changing ourselves to try to fix something that is not in our power to fix, someone else's alcoholism.

I add these words, to the final sentence instead of "someone else's alcoholism" - "that we did not cause, cannot change and cannot and should not take responsibility for. We are not responsible."

I think about that passage as it relates to my daughter.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Your Intuition

In our craziness, have we lost a certain "power" we once had? I believe one of our greatest gifts is the cultivation of our intuition. But in our chaos, we seem to have lost this gift. The noise that surrounds us is too loud to allow us to get a feeling, a sense or a gut feel of what else is going on, that perhaps we cannot see, feel, hear, smell or taste.

In "Hope for Today" there is a reading that talks about intuition. It goes onto say, "in your heart you already know." It talks about this feeling as a connection with your higher power. It is the voice in which our HP may speak to us.

In a book that I opened that I always carry with me, I turned to a page, this morning, and it says this, "In your heart, you already know exactly what you want. And if you listen to your intuition, it will tell you. Your mind will sell you out, but your intuition never will. Your intuition is your connection with the Ultimate Power. Learn to trust it."

Whatever our intuition is telling us is important. We need to quiet our minds and listen. I used to love getting in the car and just driving - anywhere! It gave me a chance to think. Now with cell phones, driving to get that quiet time is difficult to obtain.

If we can get back into the habit of escaping from the noise and listen to our intuition, our intuitive voice becomes stronger. But we have to make an effort. The more we trust it, the more it will tell us.

Monday, March 24, 2008


Through Al-Anon we have learned that we cannot control it, did not cause it, nor can we cure it. The "it" of course is alcoholism. It is a "cunning, baffling and powerful disease." This is from psychologists and therapists who have actual experience in dealing with it.

So today I want to talk about "control."

Control. We need it in order for our lives to function. We need order. There is order in the universe. Nature is order. You have the four seasons. Day follows night. Time ticks away, one second, one minute, one hour, one day, one week, one month, one year - always. This is "order."

So when we have chaos, our natural tendency is to bring it back to order. We have to "fix" it. Whatever "it" is. With alcoholism fixing does not work. It makes more chaos. This is why it is a "baffling" disease. Fixing it through control from us - actually brings more disorder. It brings dysfunction to our lives and the lives of our children.

I read this in a passage somewhere, and thought "Wow. This is Zen-like." It really fits our predicament. It is thought proking and powerful. I have used this to remind myself of how I need to adject. Please ponder this for a moment:

"Whenever we try to control, we are actually being controlled."

We may be controlled by the chaos. Or the person who is causing the chaos. And we respond or are "controlled" by fixing it. This is okay in some cases. But with children, if we do this all the time, we provide the child a sense of "helplessness." We may be programming their minds that maybe they cannot do it themselves. And later in life, they may not function in society very well.

The same is true with the alcoholic. Except the alcoholic may "allow" us to do some things for him or her. Then we fall into co-dependence.

As we try to fix or control the alcoholic, and it does not work, we try harder. When we try harder and it still does not work, we can become angry and frustrated. This frustration maybe taken out on the wrong people. These people are people at work, our children, our neighbors, people in the car next to us, people in the grocery line - you get the picture. In addition, we beat ourselves up. We turn our anger inward.

After awhile we can begin to feel powerless. And perhaps this leads us to look for things outside ourselves to fill our void. Perhaps, we do nothing. We may slip into depression, isolation, or we, ourselves, get this "learned helplessness."

When we focus on controlling things outside our orbit (stand-up, hold your arms out - and spin once - that's your orbit), we actually lose power. We are trying to control things we cannot control. We cannot change things outside our orbit.

My message for today: Focus on controlling the things we can control. As in the serenity prayer,

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can.
And the wisdom to know the difference.

Friday, March 21, 2008

On-line Weekend Al-Anon Meeting on; Judging Others

On-line Weekend Al-Anon Meeting on; Judging Others
If you have found this website you are invited to join us in a weekend long, Al-Anon Meeting.

The on-line meeting starts Friday evening 3/21/08 and runs to Sunday 3/23/08 evening.

Note: To view this post and the comments at the same time, click on the link here (click here) in order to get a better view.

I have come to learn that "judging others" can be a slippery slope. As soon as we become an expert, we start to set standards for how others should act. When they don't comply to our standards, we are insulted or feel wronged.

I have posted the message below which will start our meeting on: "Judging Others"

Judging Others. We all do it. We size people up every day. We evaluate people's behavior in the work place and at home. We evaluate others' driving ability. We even evaluate what people eat.

We are always "sizing them up."

Now, this may sound contradictory, because nothing is ever just "black and white." Sometimes there are standards which we should enforce, especially with children. Or in situations when someone has over stepped there boundaries and is inflicting their will on you.

Good or Bad
The judging I am talking about is the evaluation of others behavior as "good" or "bad." What if we could suspend the judgement of others? And not evaluate them as "good" or "bad" and just as "is."

If you look at the chart below, I have created a pretty simple graphic. If we judge others, we go to comparing ourselves to them. How often have you said, aloud or internally, "I would never have done that?" Or, when listening, leap to the wrong conclusion by assuming the person was going to say something negative.

And worse, when you thought someone was going to say something negative about you? We've all held our breath when someone wanted to share their opinion or provide us feedback.

The Slippery Slope Down
I believe it is a slippery slope. As soon as we start to evaluate or judge, we compare them to what we have, or would do. We usually make the situation worse. We slip into blaming, criticizing and getting angry. We hold resentments and grudges. All this - when in reality - it started with us and our thoughts of "good" vs "bad" or "better" or "worse."

To view this diagram better - click here

The Other Side - Climbing Upward
On the flip side - the bottom part of the diagram, is the opposite of judging. And this is a compassion for others and empathizing with what they may be going through. I believe everyone is carrying a burden of sorts. And if we stick with the thought of being compassionate, even in times of stress and hostility by showing the other person love, respect and courtesy we are allowing ourselves to be of "grace."

What a wonderful word, this "grace." Balance and poise. Dignity. Staying above the fray. In the end, this is actually about Courage. Courage to be yourself - your highest self.

The Negative Side
The top part of the diagram, works on our self-esteem, negatively. Which in turn affects our self-acceptance -negatively. And ultimately we begin to not accept ourselves - or said another way, we begin to find fault within us and we no longer like ourselves.

We become less accepting and loving of ourselves overtime. And soon we have resentment built up and hostility. Soon we can't sleep. We react. We respond. And nothing seems to work right or go right in our world.

The Positive Side
The bottom side of the diagram, works on our self-acceptance, positively. And this begins to affect our self-esteem - positively.

Because of years of training, it is hard to get to the positive side and stay there. It is hard to build up positive habit patterns of responding with Courage, Compassion, and Courtesy. These are my 3 C's. They lead to Grace. And Self-Respect.

When we operate from here our lives are more manageable. We are in control. A really good word when we apply it to our own lives. A really bad word when we are applying it toward others.

And that is where the line with the arrows pointing both north and south on the right hand side of the diagram comes in.

Isn't evaluating and judging, really about us getting control over others to become more like we want them to be?

Isn't that crazy when you think about it? Would you really want to have someone trying to be just like you? Really? Wouldn't it make you mad? They would be stealing only the good parts of your identity. That would make you "less."

What if we suspended judgment today and tomorrow? And let others, be themselves. I think this is real courage. I think we should encourage others to be more themselves and less like us. I believe this leads to serenity and peace.

Can we remove guilt, anger, blame and negative emotions from our lives whereever we can?
This is where you share your thoughts, comments, or burning issues. Have a great weekend.

Material derived from the Al-Anon book, "The Courage to Change" and "Hope for Today"

Our Children - Another Al-Ateen Meeting

Last time we spoke about Al-Ateen was several weeks ago. My daughter is ten (10) if you recall. My concern was that she may be too young. On the advice of my therapist and the advice of the rehab's therapists - and a few others at Al-Anon, we went (acutally - I took her and she went).

Last night was our daughter's third meeting. She went in the meeting a little agitated. She is wearing an boot/brace on her foot because of a badly sprained ankle. The brace is difficult to put on. She had taken it off so Daddy (moi) and daughter could go to dinner (a fast food chicken place).

The agitation turned to her not wanting my help and that she could put it on. She went into Al-Ateen not the happiest of campers with me, the boot or probably life [Note to self: she said her life rots this past weekend. Rots. Hmmmm Didn't know they still used that word. It might be coming back. File that one away. I may become cool again. Not that I was ever cool, but maybe I'll get a second chance!]

Before the meeting - I hugged her and told her I loved her, and that I apologized for trying to help her my way. I said, "Next time I will ask you if and how you want me to help you." She hugged me too saying I love you. She said, "You can go now Daddy." She is kind of funny in that she wants to walk in that door by herself.

An Introduction
After Al-Ateen I met her outside, I introduced her to a man who had two sons in the same meeting. He is a really nice man that I sat next to during the Al-Anon Meeting going on at the same time as the Al-Ateen meeting.

While I was introducing him to her, my daughter stuck out her hand to shake his hand and told him her name. I watched this occur with great interest. She knew to extend her hand.

The Heist
After that she needed to use the bathroom - so we went back inside where there was a "Birthday" (someone was celebrating 15 years at Al-Anon). My little girl wanted me to heist a piece of cake. So of course like any good father, I did. We got out with the one with the most icing. She hobbled and I steadied her and the plate of cake, laughing and looking over our shoulders to see if there were any screaming Al-Anoners trying to get their plastic fork, paper plate or cake with the most icing back. Fortunately, we escaped. We laughed in the car when we got in.

When we drove off she was laughing and talking how she rated the week. She volunteered the discussion - no prodding from me. She rated it a .5 on a scale of 1-10. Then she said she came back and revised the Saturday night. And rated it a 9.5 out of 10. She laughing and told me another girl was saying that was a very high rating. I asked, "Why so high?" She replied it was "Father-Daughter Dance." Now that sounds self-serving as I type this. It may appear that I am trying to place myself in the best of lights. But the Father-Daughter dance is where the men/fathers stand around in groups talking to each other and the girls do hoola-hoop contest and line dancing and run around eating pizza etc. Every once in a while I was able to sneak in and dance and show my daughter my "moves." My moves consist of what I recall used to be a cool dance. My recall is not very good about the dancing parts of my life and therefore - apparently - my moves probably mirrored the guy, Albert Brennaman, from the movie "Hitch." My daughter pushed me off the dance floor at one point, laughing. I was, I believe, the only father pushed off the dance floor. Hey, but at least I made it to the dance floor!

Anyway, back to Al-Ateen. When we got home she was still very excited and she rated that day - last night a 40 out of 10. A 40? I asked. "Yes," she said, "I really had a great time talking. And I really like this other girl, she is so funny." [Added later this morning - she has bonded with this other girl. One of the supervisors said that the children in these programs "bond" quickly. I can now attest to this.]

Last night I went to sleep in a great mood knowing this (her happiness and how she was SOOO excited. She even screamed out the door, "I am happy world!"). I am thankful and I am grateful. Thank you HP and friend who "advised" me to take her to Al-Ateen. And the man and woman who "oversee" the meeting.

File This In the Weird or In Tune Category
PS - A funny thing how Al-Anon works or life in general. In tune with the Infinite. On the way to the meeting - as we were driving, I wondered if Al-Ateen had sponsors like Al-Anon. At my Al-Anon meeting - while the Al-Ateen meeting was occuring, a woman who did the "set-up" read three (3) passages from the red Al-Ateen book - on - guess? It was on: Sponsorship in Al-Ateen. Weird.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Sometimes A Book And a Gift or Searching for An Answer

I have learned that a gift is gift to the giver as well as to the receiver. In fact, the giver may get more out of the giving than the person actually receiving the gift. How often have I heard, "Don't you just love it?" or "Isn't it the nicest (cutest) thing?" coming out of the giver's mouths? More times than I can count.

But a book . . .

Giving a book can be a big thing for some people - in fact I think it can be a big thing for most - not just some. In my "controlling" days - I would read a book, get very excited about it, tell a lot of people about what I learned.

Then later in life, when I could afford it, I would buy books for people. I look back now to see that I was trying to "fix" these other people. "I read this book you see, and this has you written all over it," was the subtext of my message in giving the book.

The other subtext, although subtext may be the wrong word, "shouting silently" may be more accurate, was, "You need help. Read this. This will fix you." What was not stated was, "According to my reality." I no longer give books as "gifts."

But a book . . .

But a book may be a gift from your Higher Power. You may do a, "Say 'What'?" here. Stay with me. Sometimes gifts come from strangers and people who don't really know us. We are taken aback perhaps or maybe we are genuinely grateful. But a book, instead of looking at you are trying to fix me, may be instead, "Hey read this you lune, you may catch an idea that could turn your life around. Or this day around. Or this upcoming meeting. Or keep you from saying something stupid this morning, that may in fact have reverberations across the rest of your life."

This is the approach I have been taking - especially lately. When someone suggests a book, I scramble to read it - just in case. I am in a desperate search of the "answer" to get my life back in order. I am in a desperate search for my HP's will and any sign that he may be out there trying to speak to me.

Last Night
I received a gift last night right before the Family Night Rehab program. It was in the form of a book. Funny how the world works. I wanted to buy this book. But I have too many to read right now so I haven't bought it. So now I have this very same book - I have been really thinking about buying - but haven't - from this great lady who has a son who completed rehab and is on the road to recovery. Interesting isn't it? How I have been thinking about the book. Didn't buy it. And now she hands me this book, called "Transforming Our Losses" - that I have been thinking of? (By the way, it is an Al-Anon book and I believe the latest of the books from Al-Anon)

So I got up and ran downstairs a 4:45AM this morning. And out of the book these words struck me this morning;
"After admitting our powerlessness in Step One, we are becoming ready to let a Higher Power intervene on our behalf. In taking Step Two, we come to believe a Power greater than ourselves can restore our sanity. These Steps offer hope even in the midst of despair.

Whatever our definition of a Higher Power may be, the one thing most of us have in common is our desire for a more serene life."

Yes. This is what I want. I have been searching for it - forever. Serenity. It's not something I would tell a lot of people. It's not something I would say in a job interview, that's for sure. But it is true. I also call it - "Peace of Mind."

Here is a quote from the next paragraph;
"When faced with the next crisis, we may feel uncertain about our decision to respond differently. If we focus on taking care of ourselves, who will take care of everything else? We can remind ourselves that in practicing the new behavior, we may feel tentative at first; but the more we practice, the easier it becomes. Eventually we realize that weren't really in control of anyone else to begin with."

I would add "or anything else" to the last sentence. Maybe by giving up control, we gain serenity.

I am in crisis. I feel I have no one who can help me.

I have lots of people who are offering me an ear, but not a single soul coming to help me. I counted my new friends and old friends, who are now in a position to listen to me and give me their ear. The number of people, family, in-laws, old friends, sponsor, therapist/mentor/coach/Sherpa/sapient, therapist at Family Night, etc. brings the count well over 12 people.

May be too many people. I wonder.

But not one can give me the answer to my dilemma. I know they can't. Intellectually I know, "how can they?

Some tell me to pray. So, I continue to pray. I think my prayers sound like I am begging.

Some say - "You know what to do. In your heart, you already know." I have seen and heard this quote in some strange places in the last couple of weeks.

Family Night - Am I a "Downer" to the Group?
One last thought. I wonder if I am a "downer" for Family Night. I spoke of my dilemma and about my wife's behavior and how my daughter and wife are engaging in arguments when I am not a home. I think this is because I stopped engaging. This is the dilemma. I can deal with anything, but this is what I have to end. It's gone too far.

So I spoke of this to the group. The therapist, a good person - he cannot help me I sense. There are newbies in the meeting now. Another rotation of patients. My wife is out. No longer there. The therapist also looks annoyed. Is it my imagination? Speak therapist.

My wife is out of town. My daughter yesterday - serene. Am I imagining this?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Comments About This Blog

Please take a few moments to comment about this blog and how it may have helped you in your recovery.

This may aid new comers and visitors.

Thank you.

How We See Ourselves

I believe that the "discovery" of self-esteem and its powerful role on how it affects everything we do is one of the most important "discoveries" in the past several centuries.

In America, we celebrate Columbus Day, the day when Columbus "discovered" America. While this is an important day for Americans, the discovery of self-esteem is important for the human race. I read in Wikipedia that the term, "self-esteem," can be traced back to 1657.

I am not going to "pretend" I am an expert in this matter. I am a novice, trying to understand the human condition and the mind and its how it regulates our ability to become everything we can become and be the best we can - in all parts of our lives.

I have decided, I get only a short period of time on this hair-ball planet, and that I am going to attempt to run my life by being the best I can be. The best I can be. Not by what others think is best for me. I believe working on me and my self-esteem allows me to break free from the trap of others' expectations of me, what I should be, what I should do, how I should behave.

When I first read about self-esteem, I began to understand a powerful concept, that I could change and improve, that was within my control and how it could improve how I saw the world and my ability to operate in it. Below are a few powerful sentences that say so much, in so few words.

This is a passage from Dr. Robert Anthony:
How you see yourself creates your behavior, and this behavior creates your environment or your results.

Wow. Think about this for just a minute or two this today. You mean, how I see myself creates my outside world? Hmmm. Am I thinking trash and negativity? Remember my earlier posts about the "Law of Attraction" and how the brain filters in through sight, smell, touch, sound -what we are thinking about.

In the next sentence, he says;
When you attach your self-worth to your accomplishments or to your behavior, you're setting yourself up for disappointment. No matter how hard you try, someone is going to think you're not okay.

Then he goes on to say,
. . . Take a look at how much of your life is about winning approval and realize this important truth: You'll never get it. You simply can't please everyone, so learn to please yourself and find relish in the person you are.

Reread these passages today and come back tomorrow to reread them. These are important "truths" that can lead to serenity and tranquility. Peace of mind, is the highest form of achievement in my view. If I can get that, I have achieved what money, recognition from others, and material possessions cannot provide me in the long run.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Communicating is Overrated

"Communicating is Overrated." This was yesterday's topic at an Al-Anon meeting I decided at the last minute to attend.

We laughed our tails off in the meeting. We went around the room saying and admitting that we either "said too much" or "shouldn't have responded at all."

I took particular note of several remarks and I would like to share them in today's blog post.

  • As we become more skilled with Al-Anon tools, sometimes we use this new knowledge to control, but just it a little more subtly. Interesting I thought. No not me! But yes, me too.
  • Sometimes we respond when in reality the other person just wants to talk. One senior member, someone I respect because of his wisdom, said, "When someone talks, I ask them if they are looking for input from me or if they want a response. I was surprised how often people told me they weren't looking for a response." Interesting. I often respond, thinking that of course they want my opinion.
  • I told the group that I get paid to give my opinion. So it's hard to stop. They laughed. I also told them of a story at work, that saved me. See the story below.
  • One person said, she has gotten her emails to be very tight and succinct. "When they ask for a phone number in the email, I just send the phone number. No more fluff and no more other words than the digits. Now," she said, "I need to work on that with how I talk."

My Story

There was this person who was mad at everyone in our division. Some how she turned her anger on me. I became the target of her hostility. It was apparent we couldn't work together. She would attack my knowledge in meetings subtly and overtly.

Soon there was a meeting to occur. It was to get us both in "alignment." To end the bickering.

Several management people attended, including our boss and another key leader. The conversation was directed toward who was responsible for what and determine if there was confusion and overlap. It was very sensible.

Then she fired a shot, "Joe and his team don't do this and don't do that." I sat there. I sat quietly, mouth shut, eyes open. Her words rang out loud like a howitzer blast. The echo in the room still reverberating off the walls.

The management team continued with writing the things that needed to be done on the whiteboard and flip charts. Then, out of the blue, another blast, "Joe doesn't do this. And when he does, he doesn't do it well. I sat there. Stomach churned for a second. But I was silent. The words hung in the air with no place to go. They were big fat words of anger. They fell upon the table.

Again this went on several more times, until we broke for lunch. I walked with one of the top leaders and I said, "Just for the record, I took a couple of shots, and I chose not to respond. I am not going to respond, unless you feel otherwise." This President's response was, "It has been noted that you did not respond. I would appreciate it if would continue to not respond."

After lunch a few more shots. But this time, the shot from this one person, were being directed by others not in the room. This went on until 5PM. And when the management team said, "OK, here's what we are going to do . . . " this women closed her laptop, slammed her briefcase on the table and got up and left. She was very angry.

The management team broke up, and the next thing I knew was that the President came to me and said that this person will no longer be with the company by Friday. "Her team will report to you next week," he said.

The "old Joe" would have responded to the attacks. Something, maybe Al-Anon training, helped me take a different tact. The less direct route, which was the silence, was deafening.

It was a lesson I have never forgotten. I do not need to respond to everything.

As my good friend, Ralph Waldo Emerson said once, "What you are shouts so loudly, I cannot hear what you are saying." It is a good reminder for me.

PS - Just to be clear, I was not there when Ralph said this.

Monday, March 17, 2008

St Patrick's Day

Today is St Patrick's Day. In days gone by, this would have been a day of celebration. It would include seeing if we could get to a parade in some town and drinking beer.

Today, however, it strikes a little fear in my heart. I am not sure what to make of this St Patty's Day any more. I have come to fear alcohol and it's addiction. I have seen it hurt people very close to me. As I go to Al-Anon, I see husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, still struggling to become people and determine what is right and what is wrong in life that they couldn't get when they were growing up.

I have stopped drinking. I stopped almost a year ago. For in one of the Al-Anon pieces of literature it states that Al-Anon has no opinion on whether the person attending Al-Anon drinks or not.

But does state, "'But for the Grace of God,' we could be alcoholics, too."

I share this sentiment. I was a Family Night Rehab program one evening when this one woman said, "My father was an alcoholic. I ran away from home. Then I married an alcoholic. I divorced him. Then I became an alcoholic and then I found myself here."

Friday, March 14, 2008

On-line Weekend Al-Anon Meeting on; Step 1: Powerless

This weekend's On-line Weekend Al-Anon Meeting on; Step 1: Powerless over Alcohol.

We admitted we were powerlessness over alcohol - that our lives have become unmanageable.

If you have found this website you are invited to join us in a weekend long, Al-Anon Meeting. The on-line meeting starts Friday evening 3/14/08 and runs to Sunday 3/16/08 evening.

Note: To view this post and the comments at the same time, click on the link here (click here) in order to get a better view.

Our host for this weekend is me. He is an exceptional host and is well suited for this topic, as his life has been unmanageable. His qualifier is his wife. But he has a tough time being powerless over alcohol. He has stood toe-to-toe with alcohol, swinging jabs and uppercuts and winning several rounds. However, in the end, when the bell rang, for one more round, my charming and dear friend lost. I or he, did not know he really lost in round one, but his stubbornness, borne out of will and hardheadedness, was willing to "go one more round" - until in the end, alcohol raised it's gloved hand, the victor.

I have posted the message below which will start our meeting for the weekend's meeting on:

"Step 1: Powerless over alcohol and our lives are unmanageable"


Hi, I am Joe.

I bring to you my version of trying to fix the alcoholic. I would try to understand the problem, what was going on in my house for the past several years, by analyzing why food would be burned, or dinner not even cooked. Why my wife was falling and staggering or not able to drive very well. I thought she was a "space cadet." In fact, now that I write this, she used to say, "All my friends think I am spacey."

I tried to fix her by asking to eat at specific times, certain it was a chemical imbalance, or PMS or no food combined with PMS, was creating her anger, her staggering, slurring of words, and so on. It seems stupid now, now that I know she was drinking. But who could have imagined? My wife drinking at 9AM or 10AM every day . . . day in and day out? Huh? What?

So, I tried fixing: Here drink water. Here, let's go exercise. And it worked. Because she was with me and couldn't drink. "See," I would say, "all you need is exercise (water, food, watch happy movies - you name it)." Pretty stupid.

Then one day, my brother, the doctor said, "Did you ever consider she might be drinking on the sly? Or doing drugs?" No way! No way! Then it dawned on me several hours later. "What was that glass clinking sound I heard? In the butler's pantry?" Then I found it. Wine bottles. They were all over the house. Empty!

Here I read from the book "How Al-Anon Works"
"Each of our lives have been devastated by someone else's drinking. We cannot change that fact. We have been profoundly affected by the disease of alcoholism. Its effects continue to permeate our lives. Nor can we change the behavior or the attitudes of those around us. We can't even put a stop to the drinking. We are powerless over alcohol.

"As long as we continue to persist in the delusion that we can control or cure alcoholism, its symptoms, or its effects, we continue to fight a battle that we cannot win.

"Our self-esteem suffers [note to you reader: this impacted me big time. Work suffered. And my confidence was shell shocked], our relationships suffer, and our ability to enjoy life suffers.

". . . Whether or not we live with active drinking, life is unmanageable whenever we lose perspective about what is and is not our responsibility. We take offense with actions that have nothing to do with us. We intervene where it is inappropriate and neglect our legitimate obligations to ourselves and others.

". . . Putting an end to the battle requires completely redefining what we believe about ourselves, others, and our relationships. For example, many of us confuse love with interference. We don't know how to show affection or support without giving advice, seeking to sway another's decisions, or trying to get those we love to do what we think will bring them happiness."

Wow. This describes me, before I hit Al-Anon. I am a little concerned I could drift back into a meddling mindset - excusing my actions by stating "I am just trying to help." I really like the books Al-Anon provides because they fit our issues and aid specifically in our recovery.

This is where you can comment. You can post another excerpt or passage from another book. Or if you have a burning desire, post that.

I wish you the best this weekend.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Friday's Post - Gaining Control Over What We Can

Gaining Control Over What We Can. This post is about control. What we can control.

As an aside, have you ever wondered was the show "Get Smart" a parody on 12 steps and therapy? Get it, "Chaos" and "Control?" The bad guys called their group "Chaos" and the good guys were "Control?"

Am I the only one?

This "control" subject is a notorious one, because we have been told we are "control freaks" and have "controlling behaviors."

I first want to say this about those two quotes above.

First off, don't accept the critique that your "controlling behaviors" make you the evil one. You are not. You only tried to control a situation because it was chaotic and crazy. It was pure pandemonium. It still might be chaos and crazy right now in. However, don't beat yourself up about your trying to fix things by being controlling. Your reaction of using controlling behaviors when things that were out of control are normal. However . . .

You did not know that the control you tried to exert was only reinforcing the chaos.

What we have learned through Al-Anon and therapy, is that letting go and not engaging the crazy person in our lives and not trying to control, may be the only way you can gain sanity and actually restore peace. The power of addiction is strong. And we have found that whatever force and influence you could muster only feeds the alcoholism's power and ability to cause more chaos.

In fact, you become frustrated and then you engage and may lash out - due to the frustration.

As Murphy's Law says, "When you argue with a crazy person, people might not know who is the crazy person." In this case, the alcoholic is the crazy person. You cannot argue with a crazy person - especially when they are under the influence.

This is straight from Al-Anon and other studies. You have to do the opposite of your natural inclination. Just like swimming; "You have to swim with the current to get out of the rip tide." Remember that one? Or when in a car in icey conditions; "You turn into the skid to gain control of the vehicle."

My Message this Morning:
My message to you is, first, don't beat yourself up by allowing past labels to cause you to think you are not a good person. These past labels put a regulator on who you are as a good and healthy person. Do we make mistakes? You bet. Are you your mistakes? No.

Second, and this is the more important of the two, realize that you control nothing outside yourself. And realize it is only human nature and that we all react negatively to anyone attempting to control who we are and what we do. You do it and I do it.

Realize that the only control you really have is just over yourself. Period. And it starts with your thinking and ends with your actions. If you understand this, then you have gained the power of control as it could be used in its highest form. And in its best form.

When you gain control over yourself, and your thinking, you have gained an incedible amount of power - and you are in alignement with your higher power. When you do this, you will find yourself on the path to freedom. You will no longer be subject to the whims and opinions of others.


PS - I need a volunteer. If you want to host the On-Line Al-Anon Meeting - please don't be shy! Just let me know in the comments below.

Last - the votes are in. People voted for long and short posts. If you would like to enter a survey question, please submit a question and I will poll the readers.

Living in the "Now"

This about living in the "NOW." As Al-Anon and other great recovery programs teach us throughout the 12 Steps is that we must live in the present - or the "Now."

This is post is directly related to several past blog posts that I believe are the foundation for understanding how to change our lives. And it is based upon something we absolutely have control over. It is about how we think.

However, and this is a big one, the however is, if you are dealing with active alcoholism and chaos, you and I may not be able to get our thinking wrapped completely around the positive and present (today, this second). Alcoholism is tough stuff and impacts us in ways only those who are in the midst of it can completely understand. It is "controlling" to a great degree our thoughts and reactions. It is a problem of 10X with children, because our children are so affected by it as well. And because they are affected, so are we.

How do I know?

Because last night at 8:20PM, I received a phone call from my daughter. I had to leave a senior management meeting of Vice Presidents and Presidents for 45 minutes to straighten out as best as I could a problem with my child and her fear of her mother's drinking. I was, noticeably absent last night. When I returned several people gave me the "look" - the look of "what is happening in your life?" that caused you to miss 45 minutes of a meeting you suggested having tonight?

Tough stuff. But a choice I had to make. Leave the room, where all the senior company team members, 15 people, are meeting to resolve a company crisis. My choice, my daughter. She is 10. She is now becoming a victim of this cunning disease.

I need to put this in the blog, so you know that I know, that this problem of alcohol is the "Black Cloud of Chaos" that hovers over every alcoholic family's home, especially when the alcohol is active and raging.

If you missed the previous posts click the one's below for what I believe is the necessary foundation to understand today's post better.

The Law of Attraction Part 1 (click here)
The Law of Attraction Part 2 (click here)
Focus on Solutions (click here)

Negative Emotions - Understanding Them
One of the most caring and loving things we need to do for ourselves is to understand the emotions of; worry, fear, doubt, anger and depression. These are sister emotions, living together in a family - the family of negative emotions. There are other related negative emotions, but these are the most powerful.

When we go into a negative state, this is caused by thinking and dwelling about - the past. And then we apply these events and emotions on the future. This causes us to worry. The past and the future, looking backward and looking forward - with a negative emotion filter over our eyes, brings a feeling of hopelessness and despair. And it can lead to mild or deep depression.

Reliving The Past and Playing the Future in Our Mind's Eye
When we are looking backward, we relive the past experiences in our mind. And each time we replay these experiences, our mind or subconscious records them in our brain as actual events actually occurring.

Now that may be too many "actual" words. But I use "actual" to drive home a point.

The point is this: The mind cannot distinguish between reality and what you are thinking about in terms of imprinting the event in the brain. This thinking about what happened is almost the same as the event occuring again in real life. And this reliving the event builds stronger wiring of the event in our brain's circuitry.

So, each time we think about the past, the thinking builds stronger wiring and it becomes a more "prevalent" thought.

And, we respond and react, and live based upon this thinking. Often, a lot of our reactions are automatic - because of these past events are strongly wired in our brains.

Live in the Present
Now, if we can just try to live in the present, the NOW, we can gain more control over our lives. Note, I said "our lives." We can create a new "cause and effect" system based upon "present thinking" or "thinking in the NOW." This is hard. You bet it is. We are a summation of our past experiences.

An Exercise for Improved Living: Detach From The Past and The Future
One way to break away from worry and fear and anger, is to regard the past and the future, in a detached manner. There is no magic to letting go or the past or worrying about what might happen. Except simply thinking about the past and the future in an unemotional manner. Detach with the past and the future. Become unemotional about them.

Meditation will help you do this. Also, try this: Physically, look down at your feet. Go ahead look. Look again. What do you see? You are here. Your feet are right here, planted on the floor. In the present.

Use this moment to gain clear understanding of this fact. Once you have this in you mind, look around the room. Notice other things, the desk, the cup you are drinking from, the lamp, the phone. All here. All here in the now. If can gain that kind of control over your mind, you are exercising great discipline over the most powerful tool in the universe. Harness the power, by focusing your mind.

Do not get caught up in what might happen. Nor get caught up in what did happen and who did this to me. Focus. Focus where you are, right now. Go back to looking at your feet. Firmly planted on the ground.

This is a simple trick, that can help you gain concentration.

PS - I learned part of this "trick" of stopping your thinking, by looking down at your feet, at an Al-Anon meeting several weeks ago. I just embellished it and added to my "set of tools."

PPS - Hard? Yes. Impossible? No

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Today - Focus Only On Solutions

As people who are living with alcoholism, Al-Anon is a great tool to help us. Without the help we think about Problems more than Solutions. Worry and Fear becomes pervasive. Anger and Frustration become more friends than Laughter and Smiling.

For us in recovery, one of the things we could and should do is change old behaviors and habit patterns, that aren't working.

Change begins with recognizing a behavior pattern you have made a habit. In fact, with us in recovery, it is a deep seated behavior. Recognition of a destructive habit or habit supporting us in a direction we want to not go in, is the first step to change. The desire and the will to change is the second, critical step.

We are Programmed to Think About Problems
We are "problem dwelling creatures." We go to bed watching TV. What does TV have on it? Problems. We go to bed thinking about our work problems, personal problems, the weather, gas, etc. This makes us worry at night. And when we wake up in the morning, the first thing we do is think about our problems again.

Here are five things you can do to build your solution mindset:

  1. Make the Committment to Change. Today and tomorrow, and for the rest of the week, I will no longer go to bed thinking about my problems. Today, tomorrow and for the rest of the week, I will wake up thinking about solutions. I will focus on what I can do.
  2. Get (buy) a spiral bound notebook. When we think problems, write the problem down. Get it out of your head and on to paper.
  3. Ask yourself; Is it a big problem? Is it an important problem? Is it one problem? Or is it a series of problems? Should I solve this problem? Right now? And it so, what should I do? What are my options to bring about solutions? Write all these down.
  4. Then do one of the things on the list toward solving your problem. Work on it to completion. Then do another item on the list. If there is something on the list you cannot do, give it to God or your HP. I cannot believe I just wrote that. But I have found it does work. Give it to your HP to worry about. He's up all night anyway. He might as well have something to work on. So let him worry it to death. Pass it to him. He's OK with delegation.
  5. Keep that notebook wherever you go. Anything pops up. Write it down. When you start "completing your problems" by getting to a solution, you can look back at your notebook and go, "Wow. I thought I would never get past that one." This is a great motivator and mind booster, which reminds you whatever is a challenge today, then, "this too shall pass."

So, focus only on solutions from now on. I know this is hard. Just look at my rollercoaster posts. I am "up" in three of them, and "down" two (sometimes four - but who's counting?).

Whatever our problems, we shall prevail!


PS - More to come. But let's work on this one this week.

The Law of Attraction - Al-Anon & AA: Part 2

The Law of Attraction - How We Can Use it in AA or Al-Anon or in Recovery
The Law of Attraction is a powerful concept. It is not a new one, as it has been spoken and written about for hundreds of years. Now, with the advent of modern psychology, the Law of Attraction is not about "magic" - but it is about how your brain functions, and how you draw into your life, things, people and events similar to your dominate beliefs.

I believe the following can be of huge benefit to people in recovery. Whether the people are in Al-Anon people or AA people or people in a different recovery program. It is an important topic, one in which I feel strongly.

I have noticed in my confusion of being in the swirl of an alcoholic environment, that I have forgotten this important concept of how the world works and have not been applying it. Or if I have, I was applying it to give me the opposite of what I desired. This is a follow-on to Friday's post (click here to link to view it).

The Primary Function of the Subconscious
The subconscious mind contains all of our past experiences and beliefs. It functions are a computer program would, except faster and trillions more calculations. Because of past programming, the subconscious acts a system of "checks and balances." It forms a "filter" or a "lens" through which we see the world.

An example might be how two different people from opposite ends of the world see things from a totally different point of view. It is why a lawyer will see an event differently than a salesperson. Both could be looking at the same "thing" and come from different perspectives to provide different viewpoints.

Our Subconscious
The subconscious helps form our self-image. Our self-image determines how I think and act. I act how I believe is appropriate for me. The self-image is made up of our beliefs. Our beliefs make up this filter through which we see the world through the conscious mind. The conscious mind allows "in" information in certain chunks, typically chunks that is familiar to what we already believe. This filter acts like a governor on the car. It regulates the data coming in and keeps us from getting information overload. It keeps us from going insane, or becoming the Dustin Hoffman character in Rainman (i.e. being able to count holes in the tiled ceiling in one glance).

The conscious and subconscious help reinforce our current self-image.

Creating a New Self-Image (if we want to!)
Because our habits or past conditioning act as a filter, we must try to discern whether these habit and past conditioning (programming) actually are working for us or against us. Are the things we learned as children actually still useful in the situation we are in?

One of our primary responsibilities is to evaluate our conditioned responses to see if they are helping our hurting us. Often they are keeping us stuck in an old computer program loop. We do the same thing our parents did, and their parents did. This "program" in the form of behavior is handed down through the generations. It forms the basis from which we operate - specifically; how we respond and react.

It also determines what we feel worthy of. With this we are back to the self-image. For example, if you go to a restaurant, you may be inclined to have something far cheaper on the menu, because, the most expensive item is, well, the most expensive item, and we shoudn't have the most expensive item. Whereas someone else, will go straight for the most expensive item. And another person will order what they want.

Do you understand this? Does this make sense?

It's Not About Right or Wrong. It Is About Thinking About Thinking
An important point here, is any one of the three choices above is not necessarily right or wrong, or worse or better than the other two choices. But it is important to notice what we do and how we feel about the choices.

This same programming may keep you stuck in a relationship, because; "this is what I am worthy of." It may keep you stuck in a job at work, because; "this higher paying job is for 'other' people."

This is not necessarily positive thinking. It is just "thinking about thinking." It is the ability to analyze your own thoughts which govern how to feel and act. And help you determine which ones support you in where you want to go and which ones support you in keeping you in place.

What We Could Do
To have a better life, to become all we can and ought to become, we could begin evaluating our conditioned responses and thought patterns. We could become, "more conscious" of our unconscious thoughts.

We could begin to look at how we feel toward something. Does it make us anxious? Does an event or circumstance conjure up a feeling of insecurity? Of loss? Anger? Righteousness?

Acting or becoming positive is not necessarily the right thing to do, because the old computer program will pop back into the computer and replay itself automatically, when we are off guard. What we could do is to identify the behavior(s) or thought pattern(s) that is not working for us. And deliberately identify them by writing it down and write out a new behavior of how we will respond and react and feel from now on.

When doing this, we need to really decide where we want to go in life. It could be with our relationships or finances or at work or with physical exercise or any other area in our lives that is not what we want them to be. What direction do we want to take our lives and what example do we want to set as a person? What area is not working for me and what beliefs are keeping me stuck in this self-image of what I think I deserve?

Once we begin to see the power in thinking about our thinking, and thinking about our self-image, we can begin looking at our beliefs and habits and see if they fit what we want to become and do and have. Then we can rewrite new behaviors and habits of thought to guide us to where we want to go and help us move in the direction we want to go.

PS - I used this method a long time ago. It worked. I am reapplying it now. It may not work perfectly since I am in an uncontrolled or chaotic environment, but it sure feels good to know that I do not have to be subjected to the whims and fancies of others when I recall and commit to understanding the power behind this important concept.

PPS - I am traveling this week. It may be difficult to post a follow up to this topic. But I hope to show some tools to allow reprogramming the subconscious and our self-image in an upcoming post.

Monday, March 10, 2008

My Short Prayer

This post is about the shortest prayer. I learned this recently at Al-Anon.

Over the past week at Al-Anon, I have learned something that I want to share. I have come to learn, that what I have been saying, every single night for the past six or seven months, at 3AM each morning, is really a prayer. This surprised me.

I was also surprised to learn that others have said it too. In fact, it became a topic of conversation in Saturday's Al-Anon meeting.

Here is what I have been saying, every night at 3AM.

"God, help me."

This says it all.

Except for the labels of this post. They help say a little more.

Alcoholism and Selfishness - the Impact on the Children

Alcoholism and Selfishness - the Impact on the Children

I didn't write about my wife's little trip out of town last weekend. As you recall she left with her friends, just two weeks out of Outpatient Rehab.

Here are some facts;
She didn't ask me if this was convenient for me or my work schedule. If she did, she would have found that it wasn't in that I had travel plans that week for work. I would have had her not go or at least rearrange her schedule. I wound up rearranging work and jeopardizing some business critical issues. My daughter was impacted as well.

She also never told us exactly when she was leaving or when she was returning.

Phone Calls Never Returned
Probably the hardest part was when my daughter called to say "Goodnight" each one of the nights her mother was gone. When my daughter called, my wife would not answer the phone. Or did not answer the phone. This was on Thursday night, Friday night and Saturday night. So each night, my daughter went to bed without having talked to her mother. It was sad. My daughter acted like a trooper, whatever that means and went to bed each night, not talking to her mother.

On Sunday morning my daughter called her mom. Not there or at least did not answer. My daughter even called one of her friend's and the friend told her (my daughter) that her mother just went to the store.

They did speak eventually that morning. And I want to make sure that I don't leave the impression that daughter and mother did not talk - they did - the each morning for a few minutes.

But, that Sunday, my daughter started crying, saying, "I have no mommy." That Sunday was a tough day. She went upstairs to her room crying. She asked for "alone time" which I gave her, but spoke to her and told her that what she was saying was not true. That she did have a mother.

To me it's sad. I try to call both morning and night, every night I am out of town. I never miss a night without having said, "Goodnight, daddy loves you."

Not Understanding the Prison of Alcoholism
Most people - who don't understand alcoholism - who would read this - would see this as a "one- time" event. But those of us in the throws of alcoholism, know that this is part of the disease. That the disease and selfishness go hand-in-hand. If you don't live in the house of alcoholism, you can never quite see the prison walls being constructed and the warden is the alcoholic and we are the prisoners to the alcoholics whims, fancies, and deceitfulness.

It is tough going. It is toughest with children. The impact on all of us is enormous. The impact is something no one quite understands, until you are living in the prison of the addiction.

I am living another one of those moments this morning, which delayed my post. My wife had plans this morning and my arrangements did not suit her. So she cancelled her arrangements and made herself the victim and me, the bad-guy. She never thinks how this might impact me or her daughter. What she wants to do, she does. As long as it looks good to the outside world.

This morning, I am angry and bitter. I was fine - until the selfishness raised its head.

I hope you all have a good Monday.

Friday, March 7, 2008

On-line Weekend Al-Anon Meeting on; Enabling.

This weekend's On-line Weekend Al-Anon Meeting on; Enabling.

If you have found this website you are invited to join us in a weekend long, Al-Anon Meeting. The on-line meeting starts Friday evening 3/7/08 and runs to Sunday 3/9/08 evening.

A Note: To view this post and the comments at the same time, click on the link here (click here) in order to get a better view.

Our host for this weekend is me. I am one of my favorite people and yet at the same time, I am one of my harshest critics. I have had a tough time recently not knowing where my life will go, but I know that in my heart of hearts, that things always work out for the best.

This is where we start. I have posted the message below which will start our meeting on:



I am one of the most messed up on this subject. I thought I was helping all this time. Then I found out I was not only enabling, but I was also crossing boundaries by getting into other person is one of our regular visitors to this blog and provides a lot of good comments. She is encouraging and hopeful.

I find that enabling leads to codependence for us. How is this you might ask. Well, let's pretend you did ask. The answer dear reader is that we "help" so much, we become "needy" in that we need to help almost always. We offer to help and do for others, that which they should do for themselves.

People think this is great . . . . . . . . . that is, at first. Then it gets on their nerves. That is, if they are not an alcoholic or addict. It becomes, to the "normal" person, sort of, yucky. Like being too available. Too much "on."

So I am going to read from the Al-Anon approved literature, the book, "Hope for Today" from page 122;
Today I know I was the perfect enabler. My autocratic behavior deprived my husband of responsibility. I tried in vain to control him and to keep him "dry." Eventually I felt only hate and disgust toward my husband and alcohol. My life seemed totally worthless, and the I felt deprived of a shoulder to lean against, a safe place to cry.

Then I was led to Al-Anon. . . . "I learned I could not save him, but I could save myself. This was my chance to jump off the merry-go-round called denial before I slipped under it and was crushed.

I especially had to learn that my way of helping was not really helping. I had to do something differently. At Al-Anon meetings in my country, they call detachment letting off in love." I was unable to let him off in love. However, I decided I could let him fall gently.

That's what I did, and slowly my life started to feel worthwhile again. I began taking care of myself. I practice thinking positively by using the Steps and slogans. Prayer and mediation help me become balanced and content. . .."


I believe we as children of alcoholic, or spouses or friends can learn from this definition of enabling versus helping;

Enabling; "is doing something for someone, that they could, and should be doing themselves."

Whereas, Helping; "is doing something for someone that they are not capable of doing themselves.

This spills not only over into enabling our alcoholic qualifier. But these behaviors manifest themselves in all of our relationships. You will see this behavior at work, with our children, with our boyfriends and girlfriends - past, present, and future.

By doing anything, and everything, makes us feel good at first. Our self-esteem becomes tied to this source of doing for people. But we begin to feel unappreciated over time. Why? Because by being "too there" - being "too available" - no one appreciates us because they become accustomed to our helping. And, frankly, people take advantage of us. They don't appreciate it, they just give us more to do and expect it from us. By allowing this to happen, we are sending signals, that we are not worth much, and we are allowing our boundaries to become trodden upon.

And this is all because by always doing for people, people do not value us. We become their personal lackey. This is due to the fact that a "new normal" has been set up in the relationship. The "new normal" is: You do. I do not.

When we stop helping, people are angry. People are not used to this "new selfishness" from us. And then guilt sets in. And, we sometimes give in, by continuing to do.

Some examples of enabling behaviors are:

  1. Working regularly after hours at the office, by "helping" others, and they go home
  2. Buying the alcoholic alcohol
  3. Cleaning up after the alcoholic
  4. Paying the alcoholic's bills (even the little ones)
  5. Setting up appointments for the doctor's office for the alcoholic
  6. Making the dinner, cleaning up after everyone, and washing the dishes and never eating because, that's "your role."
  7. Picking up your kids, the neighbors kids and watching every one's children and no one returns the favor or says "yes" but acts like it's a real burden
  8. Getting a good feeling when people ask you to do something you know you have to sacrifice time and other things you'd rather be doing
  9. Getting angry/upset/slighted when someone asks someone else to do something, when you are perfectly able to it
  10. Juggling 12 things, at the same time, and getting that rush

This is a good place to stop. Please provide ideas of how you have been brought up, or how you do too much, or how you are doing for people who should be doing it themselves.

My best to you this weekend.

The Law of Attraction & Al-Anon & AA

The Law of Attraction; How it applies to Al-Anon, Alcoholics, Addicts, codependents.

What if, we attracted into our lives, everything that we are experiencing in our lives right now? This may be, my most important blog post of all time. I hope I am able to convey my thoughts to you through this post.

The Law of Cause and Effect
There is in science, a law called; The Law of Cause and Effect also known as the Law of Causality. Most religions talk about this law. In the Christian religion, it is called many things, one of which you may recognize as the principle of Sowing and Reaping; "Whatever ye shall sow, so shall ye reap." (I am writing from memory, but that is it in essence).

What if our beliefs, the beliefs we picked up from early childhood, are working against us? What do I mean? What if you picked up a belief, through listening to your parents or a teacher in school, (or your religion, or whatever) that became so deeply seated and rooted in us, that we came to believe that this is a "normal way of thinking or behaving?" And, because of this fact, we never questioned it's validity? What if we don't even know we picked up the belief, because it is so deeply rooted in us, that it is on "automatic pilot" for us and is operating without us even being aware of it at the subconscious level?

My Discovery; One Thought and Quote That Turned My Life Around
On my discovery of self, and when I decided to change my world, I found this phrase. It turned my life around. By now, you've heard it a thousand times;

"You become what you think about."

This has been talked about through ALL religions. Buddha talked about it. It is in the Christian religion. It has been talked about by Aristotle, by Epictetus, by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and many others.

What if, you picked up "unworkable" beliefs? What if, you picked up "untrue beliefs" that you thought were true, but aren't?

I was able to successfully, turn my life around, and go from poverty to being some what, pretty successful, with this one idea. Now, I am not Donald Trump, by any means. But I am, and have been pretty fortunate.

I turned my work life, my financial life, around. I reprogrammed my thinking by reading every day and listening to audios when I jog, or drive. So, I worked on changing my thinking. I undid past programming. I reprogrammed in, new thinking and beliefs.

Where Did I Mess-Up?
Because I was poor as a child, I was determined to not be poor. But I had poor thoughts, not supporting me in my goal and aim to get out of poverty. These thought were holding me back. I thoughts that all business people were liars, and cheats. I thought, for anyone to become a success, they had to be a fake. I learned that these were the very thoughts that were holding me back - in business and my financial affairs.

While I turned my life around in business, I neglected reprogramming my mind around my personal "codependent upbringing." I never even heard of the word, "codependent" until a few months ago. If I did hear of the term, it never did register with me.

Al-Anon and How We Get Here
Now, at every Al-Anon meeting I attend, I see women and men, who were brought up in an alcoholic home, or a codependent home, and almost every one of us, married an alcoholic or an addict of some type.

You would think, we would have known better! We saw it and we said, "We are never going to live like this again." And sure enough, we did. We attracted and married, what was familiar to us. Someone we said we would not repeat. Unbelievable when you think about it. Are we nuts? Are we crazy? In one sense, maybe.

The Disease - A Family Disease
The reason for this is, I believe, is the cycle of the disease. Is it so strong, that we actually attract people? That we, as codependents, HAVE to find someone we HAVE to take care of? At

Al-Anon, men and women alike talk about this phenomenon openly. The senior members talk about how they can attract the wrong person across a crowded room. Some men have divorced their first wife, only to remarry to another alcoholic. And there are some men, that divorce the the second time, to remarry, someone who isn't an alcoholic, but a person who needs someone to be taken care (the men learned the second time to check to see if they drank, but didn't check their heads).

What unworkable belief do we have to shed to get rid of this? I am not sure. But it starts with being aware of this Law of Attraction. It starts with understanding this Law of Causality or Law of Cause and Effect. It is also know as "Self-Fulfilling Prophecy."

If You Still Don't Believe It
The Law of Self-Fulfilling Prophecy is my favorite law or phenomenon. Allow me to give you an example that you will probably relate to:

  • How many times have you learned the definition of a word you've never heard before, and then all of a sudden you see the word or hear the word that same day, several times?
  • Or, when you were looking at buying a car, and all of a sudden you buy it, and you see the same exact car all over town?
We all have had the experience. Was the word never there before?

Or was the word there, but we didn't recognize it?

My Final Thought
How do we stop this cycle of addiction and attraction? What about our children? What are they see and hearing from us that they too, will pick up the traits of us, as the mother or father? How do we stop passing down these behaviors of codependence or alcoholism to children?

The argument may be made that alcoholism is hereditary. I am not so sure. I admit, there are strong pieces of evidence that this may be true.

But what about codependence? There is no correlation of a codependent gene or broken synaptic nerves in the brain.

Can We Break This Cycle?
Yes. I believe so. And I think it starts with us. By recognizing that we have old, deep seated beliefs in us, that aren't working and aren't helpful. And because they are programmed into our subconscious, they operate on auto-pilot. We react the same way. We do the same thing. We like the same people. And so on.

So, the first step is recognizing the pattern. Second step is reprogramming ourselves. Buy the books (Al-Anon, or other self help books on codependency or self help). Attend AA and Al-Anon, you will be absolutely impressed when you go in to these meetings now with this recognition. Then get a sponsor. My sponsor saved me several times over the past two months from repeating old behaviors that didn't work and helping me see this fact and helping me reprogram my self. This was something I did not believe ANYONE could help me with. Another is see a therapist who deals in alcohol abuse and knows Al-Anon.

A great book I have mentioned over and over is this book Beyond Positive Thinking, by Robert Anthony. He devotes the first three chapters explaining this and the remaining chapters on how to break it or reprogram yourself. He also talks about a Higher Self (aka Higher Power) and tapping into this source for help and guidance.

This is, my most important post.

My best for you today and the rest of your lives.