Thursday, May 29, 2008


There are a lot of us that feel guilty about what we have done. Guilt is an awful feeling. It is like a dark cloud hovering over us.

I used to feel guilty about something I did or said, sometimes two or three days after. With recovery, my feeling of guilt may last into the next day. As I go further into recovery I learn not to say the things that might make me feel guilty . . . with the help of the slogans like; "how important is this," or "easy does it," or "one day at a time," I can stop and think and probably best of all, say or do nothing.

I have found - through my thinking on the subject - that guilt is very much like harboring a resentment against some one else - except that guilt is a resentment turned inward toward yourself. What a terrible feeling this thing guilt is.

I read somewhere, we should not feel guilty about anything. You might ask, "Anything?!" And so we begin to feel guilty about not feeling guilty.

So what if we can eliminate guilt? Start off by not doing anything that will make you feel guilty. HA! Like that is so easy - right?

Okay. So we do something stupid . . . realize we are human. We are perfect (I believe this to be true) but what we do, (do is the operative word), is not so perfect. Because . . . we are human!

Give yourself a break. If you feel you want to say or do something out of a reaction, do these things first;
1. Call your sponsor and talk it through with him or her. What a fabulous idea. Could it be so simple? Absolutely!
2. Sleep on it. We've all heard this one. But very few of us (me) do this.
3. Journal about it. Think on paper. Reread what you are writing. It will tell you a lot
4. Write a letter to the person. Don't mail it. Just hang onto it until the next day.

But . . .

If you do something stupid . . . call your sponsor. Talk it through with him or her. Determine if you owe apologies or if an apology will just make it worse. It's hard to believe that an apology could make things worse. But I have found that others may not be sophisticated enough to accept an apology and instead use it a means to extract guilt and feel righteous.

If you do something stupid, let it simmer and then sooner rather than later, let it go. You are HUMAN!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A God of My Understanding

A God of My Understanding. Before I came to Al-Anon, I did not really have a good grasp of God. Better be careful, you may still not have a grasp of God, dear Joseph. When I first came to Al-Anon, I probably was in too much pain to realize how many times God and He is referred to in this program - in the 12 Steps. Had I recognized this, I probably would not have kept coming back.

It wasn't until I needed help - when no one else could help me - that I turned my will over to the God of my understanding. I needed help and He was there. If you asked me if I would be writing this ever - and I mean ever - I would tell you - you were/are nuts.

Tonight at the Men's Meeting we discussed how we can place God into our daily workings - you know - the small stuff - the things at work - a meeting, a phone call, an employee, etc. The small things - a child who is cranky, a dog that won't heel, the guy who cuts you off in traffic, etc.

Not just with the alcoholic. Because our disease, has infiltrated all other parts of our lives and has in some ways, made us unreasonable or cranky or not patient or not serene.

I noticed a couple of key points tonight I would like to share while they are still on my mind;

  1. God is always there. You have to listen.
  2. Be patient. God is telling us this all the time.
  3. Be patient some more
  4. When we force solutions because God has not answered our prayers, we are usually screwing something up (because we were not patient).
  5. God has three answers when you pray or ask for something; 1.) Yes 2.) Not yet and 3.) I have something better in store for you.
  6. A God of my understanding. So many of us have been hurt, that at the time we could not fathom a God allowing this to happen - But over time we realize that a God of MY understanding - not someone else's or any organized religion saying IT IS THIS WAY - PERIOD.
  7. I saw on a bumper sticker at a meeting place that has AA and Al-Anon attendees; "God is too big for just one religion." I really like that one.
  8. God has a plan. This gives me comfort.
  9. When I am not present - I am in my head and my ego is mastering me. I must stay present. I believe this is where God is.
  10. Someone said tonight, they really didn't get the full meaning of Step 1 until he went through and worked Steps 2 and 3.

I hope this helps tonight and Wednesday. I hope you are all very well.

Random Notes

Tonight I am going to a Men's Al-Anon Meeting. I am looking forward to it, as this is a pretty strong group of people who have a lot of experience.

I am very grateful for my sponsor. If you do not have a sponsor - GET ONE! He or she can be very helpful - especially in times of crisis (arguments, getting ready to do a dumb thing, reacting, thinking way too hard, obessive thinking (i.e. worrying, projecting, feeling guilty etc.).

So, get a sponsor!

I will follow up later as I have a lot of things happening in the next 24 hours.

Hope all is well

Friday, May 23, 2008

Peace and Serenity

I just deleted a post I wrote about last night. It may have been too weird. But I will tell you it had to do with cardinals - the bird. They are flying around me at different times. And these are tough, trying moments, usually. Then a person starts talking about the bird - and what happened in their yard - again the subject - the bird - comes up.

Anyway . . .

Today, and this weekend, I want to talk about, coping. And coping means when we are getting attacked, provoked, manipulated and controlled.

I would like for each of us to write about one or two things that really has helped us not respond and react and/or feel shame or guilt or resentment with the alcoholic.

What has helped you that may help others?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Easy Button - Getting Provoked

I must wear a big "easy button" on my chest. Why is it that the alcoholic can provoke and stir up such negative emotions in us?

They know exactly what buttons to push, don't they? And of course, we want so desperately to respond, don't we? And if we respond, what does it get us?

My answer: Nothing. It just makes us more frustrated. We respond expecting that we are talking to a normal person, hoping to gain love, acceptance, and maybe just understanding of our feelings or how we view the world.

We have to remember we are dealing with a person who is ill.

Someone said, this disease of alcoholism is like cancer. I thought about this and I disagree. The disease is more like a person who is mentally deranged or specifically, someone who is neurotic, has psychosis, and/or is narcissistic.

Yes, we can feel compassion for this person. But the analogy of this disease compared to someone who has cancer is NOT accurate. The person with cancer has compassion. He or she may be consumed with his or her disease of cancer, but they still feel for others and care about the feelings of others and the world others are living in.

The alcoholic - when they are in full bloom - can be an ass. They are self-centered and they are delusional. They think what they think and how they think is the way everyone else should think. They see themselves as the center of the universe, with all the stars and planets revolving around them. This is their disease.

I am not saying not to feel compassion for them. But it is a lot harder when they are in full bloom. And just because they are sober today, does not mean that their disease has gone away. It is still there. It has affected their minds. It has destroyed brain cells. In fact, the killing of brain cells may put them at 16 years old in their thought processes, when their physical body is 40 years old.

It takes years of recovery before they can get back to their true age. I understand when this happens, it is a beautiful thing. But, the alcoholic has to be sober (and this means NO drink) for sometimes over a year - sometimes two years.

It is a nightmare of a disease. But it is not like cancer.

And this "easy button" thing, well they provoke to deflect the disease of alcoholism from being the cause of all their problems. When we respond, they rationalize to themselves that we are at fault and that they are pure and good. That may be an over generalization, but there is a lot of truth to this, at least I believe it to be true.

The compassion thing? Well I think if we have compassion, it may keep us from responding, by reminding ourselves that this is a terrible disease and the compassion may be the most beneficial to us and not so much to the alcoholic. So I am all for compassion if is helps us and keeps us from worrying, and responding to the buttons being pushed.

I hope this little message helps you today.

PS - I was provoked today, yesterday and the day before. Damn, I have to read my own posts!

PPS - Also, I believe there are people who push our buttons, (not just our qualifiers) because we have shown them how and what to push, by our reacting either by being defensive, by cringing, taking them on, telling others what happened etc. Let's let these "issues" go and show that we are better than what we were (not better than the other person - because we all are frail humans - and we don't want to get into a comparison battle) - and demonstrate our alignment to the universe.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Topic Was Gossip

In the other day's Al-Anon meeting, the topic was gossip. What the heck does gossip have to do with our disease??

Well, if I think about it, in my insecure way, I might talk about someone else, who is not in my presence, to someone else. This little talking about - tries to bring about an immediate bonding effect - where we both have a common "enemy" or something in common in the way we feel about another person.

So, right away we feel good about one another because we are trashing someone else.

Pretty sad isn't it? I believe when I do this - I am acting out of insecurity - or fear. Fear that people won't like me, accept me, think less than I am.

I also may be trying to make myself look better than another person.

But in reality, I am not living the principles outlined in Al-Anon and I wind up bringing myself down to a level I don't want to be at.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Monday - The Start of Another Week

Well, today is Monday. As soon as I tackled one small (reallllly large actually) problem, which was my day in court, my head rushed to another problem. I have to move out of the house . . . which is okay by me. The problem is I have to find a house to rent temporarily.

My head rushed to thinking - "What if you cannot find a place?"

Then it rushed to - "You will be living in a two room apartment. Your daughter will never want to visit, and you will be miserable and depressed and bummed and alone and . . . "

You get the picture?

I am letting my head to run ahead and play what if games - and the what if games were - frankly, about worry and the worst possible outcome.

I have to stop my mind from doing this. I have to be present. I really like Eckhardt Tolles' books, for they have helped me understand how my head (actually my ego) wants me to miserable and lives in the future making my present unbearable. And the living in the future with something that hasn't happened yet, is really, when you think about it, pretty dumb.

If I can stop the mind, I can just live in the present. The here and now. If I can focus on this, little by little I can regain my sanity. It is hard, however.

Al-Anon has taught me the same thing - only in different words. But essentially it is exactly the same. I went to two meetings Saturday and church Sunday and another Al-Anon meeting later Sunday afternoon. These allow me to sit in the present and not be alone. Right now alone is hard.

On the other hand, my spouse, soon to be ex, is really excited. I think she thinks her life will change for the good and will never have to work and she can whatever she wants. I am not sure about her thoughts, but for some reason my head starts to drift over to her thinking and frankly, that's pretty dumb too.

Last, on the witness stand, she said she wasn't an alcoholic. Even though she said she goes to AA meetings everyday. She also said, she got her 90 and 90 done and has the 90 day chip. Although she also said she drank during this time (within the 90 days). She told the judge and all of us (a lot of friends were there), that some meetings are run differently, that you can drink during the 90 days and that other meetings you cannot. Does that sound unbelievable and incredible?

Well, now there I go again. I am confessing my wife's sins and the program and the focus should be on me.

The only thing I will say about the drinking within the past 90 days - which was really incredible, was her attorney was stating over and over that she has not drank anything since late December 2007. I'll bet that this little statement on the witness stand sort of surprised the attorney. But what was relief to me was, I knew she was. I just stopped looking for the signs - well stopped looking sort of - I still listen to her voice and eyes and lips - dead give aways for me to tell. The relief was knowing I wasn't going crazy (although I already am) - that my intuition told me she was drinking.

Have a good week!

Friday, May 16, 2008

On-line Weekend Al-Anon Meeting on; Changing Our Attitudes

On-line Weekend Al-Anon Meeting on; Changing Our Attitudes

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 5/16/08 and runs to Sunday 5/18/08 evening.

Note: To view this Post and the Comments at the same time, click on the link here ---> (click here). Or you can click on the title of this Post in order to get a better view of the Post and the Comments.

Here are some guidelines ---> Click for Guidelines. Bottom line; say what you want, when you want, as many times as you want, to whomever you want, about whatever you want. Cross-talk is allowed ("cross-talk" is talking to each other, not being "cross" to the other).

This is where we start:
The people in Al-Anon are bound together by a common background and history. We have been affected by some one's alcoholism. We love this person. We care for this person. And in our love and care we trip over the boundaries of care and love and start to do for the person what they can do for themselves.

These lines are hard to distinguish, as we mistakenly try to help the other person, and attempt to pick up what they drop, feel the pain they feel and express the emotions they cannot express.

We become - in a sense - them. And we lose our perspective and we lose ourselves.

Recovery needs to become our foremost criteria. We are ill and we don't recognize it. Our thinking is clouded and our judgement is distorted. We are angry, depressed, are anxious, feel unaccepted and unloved.

Some of us move away from a higher power, believing or questioning our higher power for allowing this to happen to us.

Getting recovery is what Al-Anon tries to help us do. And this is the quote from the Al-Anon book "From Survival to Recovery," page 138, that I would like to share for this weekend:

Recovering people are Al-Anon's treasure. Because of the people in the program, I have found acceptance, support, and love so warm I can hardly describe it. I didn't know unconditional love existed. Now I know it exists in abundance.

I've learned that it is much more harmful and painful for me to carry grudges and resentments than it is to go through the grieving process I may need to go through to forgive my past and forgive myself. I've learned that I'm not perfect and I don't have to be.

The reading goes on to page 139 . . .

. . . Changing my attitude has allowed love to flood in from everywhere. It is a great way to live, far better then anything I had ever thought possible. I wouldn't be alive to write this without the help I received from every single person who held my hand along the way. They say the best way to keep this program is to give it away.

Getting to meetings and getting help from others helps us change our own attitudes and helps us get a clearer perspective and see how we are contributing to the chaos.

We need to be aware that there are solutions for changing our attitudes and perspectives which affect our well-being. This needs to become one of our primary tasks in order for us to improve our recovery.

Our recovery is paramount, whether we are living with the alcoholic or whether we are not.

And this is where we discuss - changing our attitudes . . . and what we have done or can do to improve our personal situations.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Your Prayers Helped Me Through . . .

Everything and I mean everything turned out VERY well.

My prayers have been answered.

My wife denied being an alcoholic on the stand. And there is more. It was very painful to listen to her deny everything and anything about her disease. The disease was in the courtroom yesterday in full bloom. Lying, covering up and deceiving. It was very obvious. Her friends and her family heard it there for the first time and now they know why I filed and that I am not an overly protective father.

I do not have time right now to tell you everything, as I have some things to do. But I went to bed with a smile on my face and woke up in the middle of the night with a smile instead of the usual cold sweat and pit in the stomach.

The judge - my fear was she would not understand alcoholism.

She told us all in the end, that this is a terrible disease and that my wife - soon to be ex - was in denial. She told us how her mother was an alcoholic and that she committed suicide and how the alcoholism affect her (the judge) and everyone in her family.

I was truly blessed and I am grateful.

I will be posting here on this blog for a long time. For I am still impacted by alcoholism and I will still be going to Al-Anon.

God Bless you all.

PS - I will see you tomorrow for the weekend Al-Anon online blog.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Well, What The Heck Happened?

Well, some of you may have checked in and saw that I didn't post anything since Friday. Here's why . . .

I filed for the big D about a month and a half ago. I took a boundary, learned this boundary thing, and realized I was allowing boundaries to be crossed that I could no longer allow to be crossed. I learned this boundary thing at Al-Anon.

My boundary was . . .

I had to protect our daughter. She was incurring behaviors a child of 10 should not be allowed to have happen to her. We were both like boiling frogs. I know, I know. I refer to this boiling frog analogy over and over.

Since going to Al-Anon my thinking has become more clear. My thinking was distorted before Al-Anon. I was allowing me to become something less than me. I was sick. More importantly, and the ONLY reason why I filed, was my - our - daughter is being affected. Affected in health, mental well-being, sleep, school, friends and on and on. You know what I am talking about, if you have children or if you have lived as a child in such an environment.

She is the most beautiful person in the world and I owe it to her to have as much as a normal life as possible. This was the hardest decision I have had to make. For I am giving up a lot to do this, including two of the best in-laws one could possibly ask for.

I am not advocating the big D, by the way. The big D brings up a whole new set of problems and issues, especially in dealing with someone who is not mentally all there. Also, I believe in marriage. I love my wife. I feel compassion for her, although it is hard with the deceit, the foul language and the selfishness. I do feel sorry for her. But the boat is sinking. And there is a little child to focus on and get her off the boat.

I hope this wakes up my wife and hope that she sees how this behavior and such a terrible terrible disease is affecting her, her health, her mom's and dad's health, our daughter's health and forget about me - just the people who are around her. This action may bring the bottom up to her, so to speak. But I cannot be concerned with that right now, except I hope it does and she gets well.

I will continue with the blog of course. As I cannot leave Al-Anon, because I have found it very cathartic and the people there - warm and compassionate. I have found Al-Anon a way to live and a way to bounce ideas off people who can help because they have been where I have been. Also, I feel strongly about alcohol now. I don't ever, ever want to touch the crap again ever. I have seen the damage it has done. We all have.

Last . . . and here is where I am asking for help . . .

I am being deposed today - at 4PM eastern. I do not ask for much, but if you can pray for the protection of my daughter and your kindness to me for the opposing counsel will be out gunning for bear. The deposition will go from 4 to 6:30.

And pray for the judge at my preliminary hearing tomorrow morning. That starts (or should start around 9AM eastern). Pray that the judge has the wisdom to understand how the alcoholic will lie and cover up and be deceitful, just to be right. Pray that it will all work out in the end.

I may not be able to blog today or tomorrow. But stay tuned. And please post your comments and prayers and wisdom below. I need the help and support of you all!


your friend Joe

Friday, May 9, 2008

On-line Weekend Al-Anon Meeting on; Restoring Ourselves to Sanity

On-line Weekend Al-Anon Meeting on; Restoring Ourselves to Sanity

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 5/9/08 and runs to Sunday 6/11/08 evening.

Note: To view this Post and the Comments at the same time, click on the link here ---> (click here). Or you can click on the title of this Post in order to get a better view of the Post and the Comments.

Here are some guidelines ---> Click for Guidelines. Bottom line; say what you want, when you want, as many times as you want, to whomever you want, about whatever you want. Cross-talk is allowed ("cross-talk" is talking to each other, not being "cross" to the other).

This is where we start:
This is from the Al-Anon Pamphlet "Freedom from Despair"

Specialists in the field of alcoholism regard it not as a moral weakness or sin, but as a complex disease, perhaps part physical and part emotional. Alcoholics tend to be sensitive and emotionally immature, excessive in their demands on themselves as well as others. When they fail to live up to their own standards, they escape from reality by drinking. The habit leads to obsessive drinking, a compulsion so powerful that not even the threat of death or insanity seems to break it. One drink sets up an uncontrollable craving that only more drinking can appease.

. . . . The alcoholic needs encouragement and understanding whether drinking or sober. By detaching ourselves from the alcoholic's problems and concentrating restoring ourselves to serenity, we encourage the alcoholic to seek and keep sobriety.

Five Common Traits of Our Disease (Derived from the Al-Anon pamphlet, "Understanding Ourselves and Alcoholism"
{These are the key words/sentences and thoughts I pulled out]

We, too, can become ill.
We hide bottles. We search the house. All our thinking become directed at what the alcoholic is doing or not doing. This is our obsession.

Watching them slowly kill themselves . . . We worry about the bills, the children, the job . . . This is our anxiety

The alcoholic's behavior sooner or later makes us angry. He is telling us lies, not taking responsibilities, feel he doesn't love us (as parents and children) . . . This is our anger

We pretend things are alright. We hide how we feel. . . . This is our denial

Perhaps the most severe damage to us is the nagging belief that we are somehow at fault. We may feel we are not good enough, good-looking enough, clever enough for not having solved this problem . . . These are our feelings of guilt.


See if the five ways we are affected resonate with you. I know they do with me. I can even carry these behaviors to non-alcoholic environments, like work or friendships, or while being alone.

So this is where we comment!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Our Pain

Eckhart Tolle and his book "A New Earth" can, I believe, help us in our recovery. However, I want to point out that Al-Anon approved literature is critically important to our recovery. One of the reasons to use and read and discuss Al-Anon approved literature is because it relates directly to our situation of dealing with our qualifiers who have addictions and specifically, alcohol. Secondly, it keeps us all from introducing new material that dilutes that material everyone else is reading which can make our lives even more confusing and - what we need least of all - more chaos.

However . . .

Today and probably a few more posts, I am going to refer to this book by Eckhart Tolle, "A New Earth." and hopefully provide some thoughts I what I have found to be interesting and helpful, at least to me.

The book talks about our pain (referred to as "pain-body"). That this is a negative emotion that could be picked up from our childhood, or from a collective group unconsciousness (such as Native American Indians and their treatment by early European settlers - this is not meant to be a political statement or argument, but just to be used to provide an example).

Often, we do not see this pain-body or pain we have suffered. And we have not dealt with it in a manner that corrects or least resolves it. The pain we keep and feel is fed by our thoughts.

It is only by being conscious in the present that we can relieve this pain. By thinking about the past, and dredging up the problem, we feed the pain. We need to figure out how to stay focused in the present. By thinking about the future, we also feed the pain. It gets larger and larger as we allow our minds to worry (think about the past and the future).

It is hard to worry if you are staying in the present with your thoughts. I - personally - am a big violator of this message. And it has only been through Al-Anon that I learned the pain I am suffering is because thinking about and visualizing the future. I sometimes grieve and pull up the past, and say, unconsciously, "if only."

Back to the book . . .

The pain-body can no longer control your thinking if you don't identify with it and can no longer control your thinking and therefore your emotions. This is a huge task for us to work on.

If you - we - can sever the link between it (the pain-body) and your thinking, the pain-body loses its energy. Your thinking ceases to be clouded by emotions; your present perceptions are no longer distorted by the past. The past can be made up of the real suffering we experienced, as well as the imagined suffering caused by playing the negative event(s) over and over again in our minds. This replaying of negative events has fed the pain-body and has kept us from living the joyful life we were meant to live out.

Now this may be easier for some. Because we are in circumstances currently that overwhelms us in an alcoholic environment. We seek answers and control over a situation we are not in control of. We tell ourselves that if we "let go" that we are not doing our duty to help the other person. And we learn - but hate to hear - we cannot fix another person's addiction.

For others, who are not living in the alcoholic environment, we are still affected by it. We are "sensitized" to stimuli that conjures up the past. Or, we think about the past. Or we react, reflexively as if the past was occurring all over again.

How do we recover?
Well, one way, as I mentioned, is staying present. Stay in the Now. This keeps us from feeding the pain with thoughts.

Second way to recover, forgiveness. True forgiveness. Forgive everyone you meet. Forgive everyone who offended you. As Tolle points out, "your victim identity dissolves, and your true power emerges-the power of Presence. Instead of blaming the darkness, you bring in the light."

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Alcoholism - The Alcoholic Personality

Alcoholism - The Alcoholic Personality;
It may seem a little strange for this post to be about alcoholism, especially since the focus should be on ourselves. But there are some things that perhaps we should know. The key is to know this information, but not become obsessed with it. And not use it in a rejoinder (engaging/arguments) with the alcoholic.

First Question - Is there an alcoholic personality?
This question asks, are there people with certain personality traits who are more likely to have problems with drinking?

A man by the name of George Vaillant, out of Harvard - who is a psychoanalyst - studied alcoholism over a long period of time (over 40 years). He studied the undergraduates of Harvard and candidates from Boston's inner city. Two different groups. Two different backgrounds of people (wealthy & poor; different family structure; etc.).

Interestingly, both groups showed the same results.

What was assumed at one time - that certain personalities were more likely to become alcoholics - was found to be untrue. It was assumed or thought, that people who were emotionally insecure, depressed, dependent, criminal activities when young, pessimism, etc. - were more likely to become alcoholics.

Vaillant's discovery is that such pronouncements were incorrect. In fact, it was alcoholism that produces traits of depression, dependence, criminality, pessimism, etc. And the recovered alcoholic is no more psychopathic, depressive, pessimistic, or selfish than the rest of us.

Since he or she may have missed two decades of his or her life however, he or she is often less grown up in work, emotional life, and in relationships than other men or women their age.

"As my closest childhood friend told me after recovering from twenty-five years of drug abuse, 'Marty, I'm fifty going on twenty-five.'" (quoted from the book - What You Can Change and What You Can't, by Dr. Martin Seligman). The above information is derived from the same book.

There are not many studies on alcoholism, due to the nature of this disease and the wanting to hide the fact that one is an alcoholic or remain anonymous. I am not judging here (about anonymity) - it is just a factual statement regarding getting good/accurate data on the nature of this problem our society is facing. It is not like cancer or some other disease where doctors and researchers can track the results and progress of patients under various conditions. But Vaillant's work is probably the best as he sampled people from a general population to derive at the results and tracked their progress over time.

More on this and the studies in later posts.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

My Recovery

I need to let you know I made a slight change to the blog subtitle. You may have noticed it - you may not have . . . It's minor and major . . .

The major part is now titled; "The Story of My Recovery"

I cannot even remember exactly what it was before. I think it was; "My Life Living With An Alcoholic."

I changed this subtitle a few weeks ago. More on this later . . .

I just thought I'd let you know.

Being Right

I have learned that being right is, well, not always right. Being "right" locks you into a belief, a belief you may have picked up a long time ago. And as you know, if you have read this blog, that our beliefs are not necessarily true. A belief is something we believe to be true. But it is not a fact.

Being right defends our beliefs. We attempt to look at why the other person is wrong, instead of what "just is." Because someone has a different belief than us, we tend to think this person is wrong, and I am right. Or we think this person is not as smart as we are . . . or "less than us." And soon, our views of this person (or groups of people) are "tainted." What I mean by tainted is that anything they say is evaluated and judged a little harder.

Being right should not be for you. Being accurate is what we should aim for. Sometimes there are shades of grey - and not black and white, right or wrong, and this or that.

Someone once said, "Genius is the ability to hold two opposing views in the mind at the same time." I might add - without going crazy or without getting stuck.

If we can stop trying to be right, we allow new information to come into our minds. If we can stop trying to be right and defending our current beliefs, maybe we will be able to let go of certain mistaken or faulty beliefs that are holding us back. Our beliefs can act as a set of brakes on ability to grow - much like a car has brakes. And if you are driving through life with your brakes on, you may never reach your destination - or if you do, your engine may be worn out.

Our beliefs can be modified to help accelerate our growth.

Now what does this have to do with a recovery blog? Everything. We get locked into a set of beliefs that may have come from one of our qualifiers. The belief from our qualifier can be powerful or have a powerful impact on how we think about ourselves and the world in which we live. And our qualifiers may be the last people we should listen to. But for some damn reason we tend to put stock in what they say. Maybe not at first. But over time, like the drip, drip, drip of water, it wear us down and we become - well - sick.

Stop and evaluate your thinking and your thoughts. Ask yourself, "Where did I come up with this thought?" And then ask. "Is it something that is true for me? Today?"

Your thoughts and beliefs act like the brakes on your car. Or they can be like the gas peddle on your car. Of course it depends where you are going. If you are going off a cliff you want to apply the brakes, so don't get me wrong, some beliefs that stop us from doing stupid things are good!

Just evaluate your beliefs. Our beliefs may not necessarily be "right." That is, they may be inaccurate.

One last thing about this belief thing and being right. Look at what you are defending. If you get defensive or defend an opinion, take a look at this. It may reveal a fear or a hurt that you have deep down inside. Ask yourself, "Where did I get that from?" It may take some effort to get past the scar tissue.

Have a great day.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Communication with Ourselves and Others

Do we attract people into our lives by how we communicate to ourselves and to others?

I think the answer is a resounding "Yes." I believe we send "signals" to others unintentionally that tell people how we treat us. I believe our self-worth - or how much value we place in ourselves - is a direct measure of how much we esteem ourselves.

I modified the original post in blue below.

Some of the ways we communicate to others is based upon how we feel about ourselves. And this feeling emanates from how we think - or said differently, how we talk to ourselves. This thinking directs our feelings which directs our actions. Our actions are visible, --> which are congruent with our feelings --> which are congruent with our thoughts.

This "chain reaction" is perhaps the most powerful thing we can learn about how we "invite" others to treat us. And it starts with how we are treating ourselves (talking to ourselves and valuing ourselves).

For example, I have a concern about something that might happen or might not. I start to think about this concern. Thinking about this concern turns to worry. The worry creates fear, which might immobilize from taking action that will prevent it from occurring, and sure enough, it occurs. This is true for me today. I have been putting off something that I know needs to be done. But I cannot tell if it is fear that is holding me back, or if it is a signal not to do it, and that everything will work out if I leave it alone. This is hard for me today - for I want peace. And the thing I have to do, is not a peaceful thing.

We are sending out signals to the universe and people pick up on these signals.

I read that we can eliminate or reduce these affects by going to the source - the thinking and reprogram what we tend to think about "most of the time." Another way is to stop negative and destructive thinking when it occurs by thinking about something else.

And another way is to start doing - (the action part of this) - the things we should or could be doing and reverse the chain reaction. This falls into the category of "fake it 'til you make it."

Last, it helps to have a sponsor and friends in Al-Anon to call when your thinking starts getting out of control.

I hope this message helps this Monday.

PS - I did not call my sponsor. I did calla couple of friends - none of which were there. I went to an Al-Anon meeting at noon, and voila, there was my sponsor. It was good to hear folks share today. It was needed.

Friday, May 2, 2008

On-line Weekend Al-Anon Meeting on; Denial & Recovery

On-line Weekend Al-Anon Meeting on; Denial & Recovery

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 5/2/08 and runs to Sunday 5/5/08 evening.

Note: To view this Post and the Comments at the same time, click on the link here ---> (click here). Or you can click on the title of this Post in order to get a better view of the Post and the Comments.

Here are some guidelines ---> Click for Guidelines. Bottom line; say what you want, when you want, as many times as you want, to whomever you want, about whatever you want. Cross-talk is allowed ("cross-talk" is talking to each other, not being "cross" to the other).

This is where we start:
Denial. I am not sure I ever liked the word. The word "denial," at least to me, has a sense of meaning that is apportioning blame or being "less than" someone else. Because not being in denial seems to mean enlightened - over someone else.

But denial, if I can listen to the word from a recovery perspective, (recovery means get back to being well), can be our first step toward becoming ourselves again.

This is from the book, "From Survival To Recovery."
"Recovery can begin when we recognize that someone else's drinking has affected us. How can we tell? We have found that the answers to the following questions helped us decide if we grew up with or live with alcoholism, and they may help you.

1. Do you constantly seek approval and affirmation?

2. Do you fail to recognize your accomplishments?

3. Do you fear criticism?

4. Do you overextend yourself?

5. Have you had problems with our own compulsive behavior?

6. Do you have a need for perfection?

7. Are you uneasy when your life is going smoothly, continually anticipating problems?

8. Do you feel more alive in a crisis?

9. Do you still feel responsible for others, as you did for the problem drinker in your life?

10. Do you care for others easily, yet find it difficult to care for yourself?

11. Do you isolate yourself from other people?

12. Do you respond with fear to authority figures and angry people?

13. Do you feel that individuals and society in general are taking advantage of you?

14. Do you have trouble with intimate relationships?

15. Do you confuse pity with love, as you did with the problem drinker?

16. Do you attract and/or seek people who tend to be compulsive and/or abusive?

17. Do you cling to relationships because you are afraid of being alone?

18. Do you often mistrust your own feelings and the feelings expressed by others?

19. Do you find it difficult to identify and express your emotions?

20. Do you think parental drinking may have affected you?

If you answered "yes" to some or all of the above questions, Al-Anon may also help you. We have found that the disease of alcoholism disrupted our youth and continues to affect our adult lives in both subtle and blatant ways. Because of the disease, our parents were unable to give us what we needed as children in order to fully mature.

Our lack of emotional grounding sometimes takes the disguise of excessive responsibility. We can appear extremely mature and serious, while in reality we lack confidence and feel driven.

The fear that accompanies the disease of alcoholism creates difficulty in talking about our problems, trusting ourselves and others, and feeling our authentic emotions.

Not talking, not trusting, or not feeling, helped us survive as children [and as adults in alcoholism - my words in brackets], but those things keep us stuck as adults in patterns that do not work."

Joe speaking:
We need to unlearn these patterns of behavior that are automatic responses for us who have lived or are living with alcoholism. This is part of our disease. Dis-ease, the feeling of our dis-comfort. The sense of not being what we can be. Therefore we need to gain ourselves back. We need to REcover. We need to fight to regain ourselves and our authenticity.

When I say, "fight," I am not talking about violence, but I am talking about getting our will back. The will to become whole again is what we need to fight for. To become for ourselves does not mean to be against anyone else. It just means to become what we should have been, what we can be, what we owe to ourselves, what we owe to our family, what we owe to our Higher Power.

Becoming what we can be, should have been, becoming whole again, means breaking the patterns we have used to survive alcoholism. It means recognizing that these patterns actually do not serve us positively any longer. And this is especially true to recognize in our stages of early recovery.

Let's discuss, how some of these questions may help you place the spotlight of awareness on patterns of behavior and thinking no longer serving you. And how we can overcome the darkness of denial that relates to our getting whole and recovering to be what we were meant to be!

This is where we comment and discuss our topic for today.

PS - An idea I have is to print these questions out and work through them in the privacy of your home. Try to write out how these questions may be affecting your personal, professional and family life. Write these out in your journal and go back and review your answers over time. Think about how you can help your children with these questions as they grow up, if you are living in a family of alcoholism.

Al-Anon Slogan: "How Important Is This?"

A few nights ago at an Al-Anon meeting we all drew from a bag, Al-Anon slogans. I pulled "How Important Is This?"

This is strange, because I have been focusing on this slogan over the past several weeks. It has allowed me to detach more easily, and to make a decision as to whether to expend my energies on a certain issue with my qualifier. I found that repeating this slogan over and over during the course of a button-pushing discussion, I could immediately decide that if I would engage or fire a rejoinder (a remark, sarcasm, or try to convince), it would have no immediate or long-term benefit to me. And the "to me" part is something that is a little foreign in my mental make-up.

But to "stay the course . . ."

This slogan, ( "How Important Is This?"), is something I read about in management readings, something I read about waaaay before Al-Anon, that I knew about, but did not successfully implement or even at all execute.

Now, through Al-Anon, I have these slogans imprinted on my mind. Because of this, (imprinting), I am now able to recall certain slogans during hot times and put "space" between the button-pushing and my reaction or better my "non-reaction."

I used to think the slogans were trite. But how my opinion has changed.

"How important is it?" does not mean that I always back down. It has helped me set important boundaries - meaning, "what I will not allow or not accept."

I hope this helps you this morning.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Nothing To Do With Recovery

I am in a very large southern town. We are presenting to a prospective client. It is two full days of standing in front of a room with 30 people who are evaluating us. It is Power Points and questions.

I am wearing my standard dark navy blue suit, of which I have about 12, all with minor variations. One suit has a pinstripe that is a thin chalk color line. Another has the same chalk line, but the stripes are a little further spaced apart. Another has a chalk line pin strip and a blue line running through it.

It probably looks like I am wearing the same suit every time, but I swear, they are different.

All my dress shirts are white. I really mix it up when I wear a tabbed collar versus a spread collar. And sometimes I wear a grey suit. But some how it is not the same.

I have no clue why I tell you all this, so please don't ask.

I just want to say this. I am a ham. Get me in front of a group of people, I will present anything to anybody at anytime. I like to be on the stage. It give me a rush. I think it is the nervous energy. Plus, if I do the job well, I get attention. Good attention (maybe this is about my recovery). I wasn't this way at first. It has taken years to become an idiot.

We are knocking them dead. They love us. I tell my team, who are pretty "technical" in the sense that they are not people-people, that laughter is good. If the audience laughs, this is a form of liking and accepting.

I asked the crowd yesterday how we did. My colleagues didn't want to know. In fact, they wanted me to NOT ask that question. So, when the crowd said, almost at the same time, "Two thumbs up!!" And another man said, "Four thumbs up if I had more hands."

I like to have "check points" in any presentation. This is where I ask, "How are we doing? Are we hitting your concerns? Are we going too deep?" I do this especially when I know we are doing well. So I can confirm that we are doing well. It becomes "group think" after awhile, whereby they all like us.

I guess I am telling myself this, because I need to do this (presenting) MORE often. Find what you like to do and make it a career. Hmmmm . . .

Our Emotional Responses

I am trying more than ever, to recognize how my thinking triggers my emotions and therefore, my responses.

I have known this for a long time, that; event triggers thinking, past thinking or conditioning interprets the event, and the thinking triggers the body or emotion, which triggers the reaction, which triggers more thinking. A loop if you will.

Since my qualifier has become worse in her addiction, I recognize how I react and reacted to issues and situations through my emotions. AND importantly, how the reactions and emotions can now be changed by going to the source.

And the source is NOT my qualifier (Okay, in truth, the source is my qualifier). But I cannot control my qualifier, but I can control my thinking and my interpretation of the event or statement or circumstance.

These are "triggers." If I can interpret the "triggers" differently - that is, not to identify the trigger with me or who I am, I then can choose how I allow my body to react (aka emotion).

Our mind - or our voices in our mind - can be allowed to run rampantly, like untamed, wild horses, - if we allow our mind to do so. These voices usually drift into a dysfunctional rant. And the voice, if allowed, becomes more trained in its dysfunctional rant, because it knows what buttons to push inside of your head. And, then, when you qualifier "tests" you, he/she finds these same buttons. And you have the internal voice not supporting you and the trigger from the qualifier hitting these buttons of doubt and anger and fear - you react emotionally. The reaction starts with your thinking which jumps to the body - a flight or fight type response. The body responds with chemicals and triggers emotions - or emotional responses.

Soon, if we continue to allow this to happen, the neural pathway becomes a neural superhighway, because the path widens and deepens with events and - and this is important - replaying the negative events over and over in our minds. You see, the mind and body cannot tell the difference between a real experience or an experience played out in our minds.

So one negative event that actually occurs, becomes a negative event the occurs ten more times because we replay it in our minds. And this is not good!

We need to think about this. When we have an event, we need to reframe it. And we need to disassociate from it. We need to put space between the event and the reaction.

Space can be time. Don't respond or react. Go out of the room. Go for a run. Go for a walk. Put time space between the event and your response.

Space can be dissassociation from the event. We can not allow ourselves to associate with it or allow it to become part of our identity. That is, not allow it to "be us." We are not the event. We are not our labels. We are certainly not what others label us. Just be. We just are.

Space is also, staying present. Staying in the now. Now means not allowing us to think about the past or the future. Stay present. Think about right now. NOW.

Another Little Solution
Observe the voices in your head. I read somewhere, that if you place a rubber band on your wrist, and pulled it back and snapped it against your wrist every time you had a negative thought you can really see and observe how many negative thoughts you have in a day.

Now I never tried this, but as soon as I find a rubber band, I am going to do this!!! You will be able to identify me in the airport this afternoon - I will be the guy with the welts on his wrist.