Monday, June 30, 2008

Seeking Outside Ourselves

Why is it that I continue to measure myself and my "success" against society's "norms?" In trying to become "content" with myself and measure my self from within, I am working on detaching from seeing myself and valuing myself by what I "own."

I read several places where I never really own anything. I wind up giving it all back when I die.


I was once told by someone who was pretty well off, "not to work so hard, and relax." I said to her, in my usual smart-ass style (I should say my old smart-ass style, although I think I still have a shred of it), "Sure, easy for you to say, give up all your money, and you relax."

Anyway, what's the point? The point is sometimes we or I, are never satisfied. Or just when we solve one problem, there is another one right behind it. Sure this is easy to say when your house is not on fire. But it is rare when our house is on fire. And it is of only these times that I make these points.

So, give up worrying about measuring ourselves against someone or something else. There is always going to be someone prettier, smarter, wiser, richer, more famous, more articulate, and so on.

Seek from within. Measure your self against how you were yesterday. Did you improve? Did you follow your Al-Anon program? Did you keep your mouth shut? Say the Serenity Prayer? Call a friend, ask how they are doing? Ask to lead the Al-Anon meeting? Volunteer? Compliment someone today? Do someone a good turn without being found out?

This just in from Zen writer Senrin; "If you do not get it from yourself, where will you go for it?"

I love Zen. It has this subtle way of kicking you in the buttooski, in a fun, gentle kind of way.

Everything is within you. Do not seek the opinions of others to set the value of your worth. You are whole, and perfect - ALREADY!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Age 15?

Saw on the news about two weeks ago - CNN - Mr Gupta was interviewing someone - can't recall who - he had written a book . . .

I will find out the answer to the above . . .But, the author was an expert/researcher on alcoholism and addictions. He said somethings that were startling to me.

The major one to me was; That the chances of alcoholism increases by some enormous percentage if the person is under 15 when they start tasting alcohol.

Now that I heard that statistic, I am hearing about people who have/had an alcohol problem and they too began drinking before 15. I wonder how many of our qualifiers out here, started drinking early - before 15 years of age.

I was just at a speakers meeting -where the speaker tells his "story" about how he got into Al-Anon. This is a very warm man, a man who I believe acts and thinks with such dignity and compassion that one (I) could not help but really care and love this person. He has such calmness and serenity and his story was - well, "poetic." He told the story of his son and being 15 years old.

I would be interested in hearing from you this weekend.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Worry and The Universe

Keys in Al-Anon; Step 1, 2 and 3 and 11. Worry is a habit. One of the worst kinds of habits.

Here's a news flash: What we are worried about today, won't matter a month from now. Maybe even tomorrow.

Worry is a sustained form of staying in your head and playing out what I call "Maybe drama plays" and "What if . . . scenarios." We see the event unfold in our minds and play out the dialogue. These events - if you have gotten into the "worry habit" - are never good, and are never about good.

Someone once said that this is a form of "negative goal setting." We all know what goal setting is right? It is determining what you want to have or have happen that would bring about a desired result or effect (or affect) in your life. The key word is obviously "desired." We want something. And we do this through mental imagery, affirmation, or strong intent. Our actions then match the visualization and in many cases we get what we expect.

Now, with worry, we visualize the negative event. And, unfortunately, we may get what we expect, but don't want to have happen.

Replace Negative Thoughts
Replace these negative worry thoughts. Displace them like running of cup of dirty water under a water facet. Push the dirty water out by running clean water into the cup. Your clean water will be thinking in terms of abundance, health, success, happiness.

When the "negative thoughts" begin to creep in, set up a habit where you say "Stop!" and begin to think what you want and not what you don't want.

News Flash: We worry about things that we think are so important. But unfortunately, 100 years from now, no one and I mean no one, will care. So give up the worry habit. Give up your problems that are being played out in your head.

If you have a real problem - I am not saying ignore it. I saying stop from playing it out in your head as to what might occur. Take action. But you can usually take better action from a position where you are thinking more clearly and when you are focused on the desired results and best possibility of the outcome.

Finally, give up worry and give it to God. Someone said, and I heard it more than once, "I give God only my big problems." I say, God is waaaaay too big for just the big stuff. Ask God for help on the small stuff too. It's his job and frankly, while I have not met him face to face to ask him him this, but I think he likes his job and would prefer to help you out than not to help you out.

Good luck and take care.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Why I Am Here

I belong to a new Al-Alon meeting group. In this meeting we decided as it was being formed to do something slightly different. It is to read this book "How Al-Anon Works . . . "

What we do (and I know - it may sound ridiculously moronic) is start at Chapter 1 and read a paragraph. The next person reads a paragraph and so on. It's a men's group - a pretty diverse group of guys who are pretty, I don't know how to say it exactly, smart and successful. They are; stockbrokers, lawyers, sales and marketing, HR types, and others - not a dumb one in the bunch. I tell you this about us, because reading a paragraph and then having someone else do it sounds - well - bizarre. You might think we are on the fringes of society or just plain weird. (I am weird - but not these guys. I have seen miracles that some might call coincidences a lot through my life. I am only now believing in a Higher Power and trusting more than ever my intuitive side which has been very strong). And I was very skeptical - then . . . I did it. It was - very enlightening. I think it is because of all us in a room focused on the reading must send out strong vibrational forces into the universe. It's unity and harmony perhaps [I am not even sure what I am saying - except something powerful took place yesterday].

I thought this was a bizarre way to conduct a meeting anyway, until we did it. After each paragraph you can comment.

What was really strange was in the first meeting, the person - almost to a person - who read the passage said, "Oh my God, this is me. This is my life. I could have written this."

Or they said, "I have read this book four or five (or a hundred times), and I never heard these words spoken like this before and had them resonate with me before like this."

To hear them and me say these things - it was very strange and yet uplifting.

I want to read a part of the book that means a lot to me. This is from page 5 Chapter 1. Perhaps it means something to you this week;
None of us came to Al-Anon because our lives resemble the "happily-ever-after" of fairy tales. We come to Al-Anon because we are grappling with an assortment of problems. We hope to find answers . . .

. . . Many of us believe that we know the real problem with our friend or relative - and that it has nothing to do with alcoholism. We identify the problem as a bad temper, immaturity, too much or too little religion, lack of willpower, bad luck,, the wrong boss or wrong friends or wrong city, the children, the in-laws, physical illness or disability, financial irresponsibility, or any number of other things. When it is suggested that the underlying problem may be alcoholism we balk. After all, alcoholics are dirty, smelly, deranged bums who live on the street and have lost everything they once cherished. Or at least this may be what we've always believed.

In reality, many alcoholic have jobs, homes, families, and untarnished images or respectability. Their drinking many not be readily apparent, or it may seem barely noticeable compared to the problems that result from or go hand-in-hand with the drinking-the violence, financial and legal problems, insults and excuses, unreliable and irresponsible behavior. Besides, if everyone in our lives drinks to excess, alcoholic drinking may seem perfectly normal.

For those of us who never even knew the drinker, recognizing the true nature of the problem can be even more difficult . . . [it goes on to say we may be affected by a grandparent or distant relative - for as they say, alcoholism is a "family disease" and it is "cunning and baffling."]

I always thought - before I came to Al-Anon, that alcoholism was only the people who could not function; lost jobs, wives, fought, etc.

I am now surprised to find out how little I knew. And I am not alone. The average person says they understand alcoholism, but they don't know the affects on the family members and how it may affect the family members more than the alcoholic. In fact - a psychologist - (I have to find the pamphlet) actually states it affects the spouse or close family member more than the alcoholic.

I have a couple of reasons as to why I posted this passage. I hope that this reading and the passage helps you today.

Know this;
1. You are not alone. You are only alone if you cannot find people to talk to who have been affected by this disease. The average Joe-Blow does not understand and cannot empathize with you. They will tell you in effect to "Try harder to change him or cope or . . ." or something like that which may actually harm you. Staying or doing it by yourself is "isolating." Isolating is one of the affects of the disease. The disease does not want to be called out on the carpet.
2. You are not to blame. You did not "cause it, can't cure it and can't change it." This is a fact and is one of our slogans. The disease will make you think you did it and caused it. My spouse says I am actually a "trigger." Do not accept such bull.
3. Do not engage (fight or argue or persuade). You make the illness stronger. You weaken yourself.
4. Focus on yourself. You actually strengthen you and weaken the alcoholism in the alcoholic. I can't explain why, except it works.
5. Read, go to meetings, and talk to other in Al-Anon. I love meetings. They are spiritual in nature. It is another place and opportunity for me to become "centered." It is my place to hear God and feel his presence. I do more praying here than anywhere. For those of you reading this - and feel somewhat appalled about God in Al-Anon meetings - I saw this bumper sticker at one of the facilities where AA and Al-Anon meetings take place and I like it; "God is too big for just one religion." I think this sums it up "too big." I believe he is also too big to fit into any one church alone. He is a presence that is far bigger than we have any way to comprehend.

I hope you are well. Thanks for the encouragement!

Friday, June 20, 2008

All You Can Do

I have been going through a lot lately. The "through" means - I am going through a tough time or times where I have no road map. I am in uncharted territory. I have 4 of the major and I mean major stresses going on in my life that make the top 10 list in the actuarial tables of insurance companies.

Wow. Admitting this is a relief.

I am grateful that I do not have more of the stressors, however. There are some stressors that I do not have, which put mine to shame. I won't name them, except they deal with illness and death. So, I can thank my Higher Power that I have what I have and ask him for strength to get me through.

I have been working through each rock and removing each from the road. I am dealing with the "big D," I am dealing with a move, I am dealing with some "career opportunities," I am dealing with a beautiful child (which translates to making sure this child is safe and happy without letting this child know why I am doing what I am doing), and my qualifier who is battling alcoholism, but is in denial.

Sometimes, we can do only what we can do. No more. We need to "satisfied" with what we have done and are doing. One step at a time.

Nothing resounds more clearly now than "One day at a time." I thought that slogan was for wimps. Man, I love being wrong. I really do love being wrong. It shows me that I do not know what I think I know/knew. Life is always a learning experience isn't it?

I just wish there was a little less learning lately.


Do your best. Do What YOU can. Don't allow others to "judge" or "put the heat" on you. Because you are only doing the best you can. If you could do better, you would. All you can do, IS ALL you can do.

Take care this great DAY.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

What is God's Will? And Steps 1, 2, and 3

In learning Step 1 - I have had to turn over some pretty big things that I have no control over that in the past - I would have taken and run with. I would "muscle" through the things that I thought I could control and try to get the outcome I wanted.

Sometimes it worked. Sometimes - well - I think I thought it worked always. But I know this is not true now. It is impossible for me to decide if I am liked by others, get hired or promoted, it is impossible for me to control traffic, the opinions of others and the actions of others, it is impossible for me to worry about the news and change the world.

This does NOT mean I give up hope, faith and my part - action. I say "action" with a little hesitancy because it can be misconstrued as "controlling" or "manipulating" to get the outcome I want or desire. But with action I mean, that I have a part that I must play, if I want to achieve something, such as a new job. So, my action - to get a new job - might be; Get my resume together, talk to people, network, interview, explain how I can do the job, etc.

I have actions and parts I must take. I do all I can. But the outcome, well, that is not in my realm of ability to decide. So I pray and turn it over to God. But my prayer is not "God, get me the job." It is "God, show you me your will." This to me a combination of Steps 2 and 3.

This is a very, very, very (and repeat very 100 times here) new concept for me - this "God, show me your will" thing. Even as I type it - it goes against all I have learned and have made a part of me as routine. But truthfully, I KNOW I have no control as to whether that person will hire me over someone else. I can only do what I can do, up until a point. Again, this means that I am not controlling, nor manipulating. I only do the things that I can do - in a truthful, positive, manner. With "good intent."

I am going to end this post with my opinion. Of course this blog is my opinion. But I want to add hope to this post - in a well meaning way. So, here it is. I am "out there" - on a limb.

What if God wants us to be - well, er, um, "happy?" Sure he (or she), has given us some very large speed bumps on our path.

What if God will see us through whatever trials we are facing? We just have to "listen."

What if the God of our understanding, is a benevolent God? Not the God some of know from childhood as a vindictive God. Why would God be vindictive? He is waaay too powerful for us to even imagine, in my opinion, and vindictive or spiteful or jealous, is not even in his realm of possibilities.

I believe the God of my understanding will not find us guilty - only find us human.

I also believe that the God of my understanding is there -sending us messages - if we listen. And to let you know what I keep hearing and learning is the word - albeit - abstract because it is more of a feeling than a word - is "patience." Patience, dear Joseph. Patience. Patience. Patience. I keep feeling that word. I have learned this - when something happens - outside my control - and when I turn in over to God - because it is unmanageable and uncontrollable (Steps 1, 2 and 3).

What word or feeling are you getting? Sit silently. The feeling may take time to receive. But I am sure there a messages we are getting from the God of our understanding that will help us, if we listen. It does take time - though. And I am still learning - I will always be learning. Sent back to square one or two, just to learn some more.

Peace to you.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Addendum to Who AM I? Below

Two quick points;

One - about the reference to worrying about small things (see below post).

I was just rereading Tolle's book A New Earth. He said - I paraphrase here; Most all things are small. Because things (events, issues, what people said) are transient.

Transient. A good word. Most all things are transient. A good reminder is; "This too shall pass."

Second point;

A friend - who has been almost in the exact same boat I am in (wife was alcoholic) and children were at risk - and who absolutely understands the issue of alcoholism and how it affects the spouse, family etc. and how no one on the outside of this can understand the "trial by fire" we all go through, just called me this morning.

He was very, very uplifting. He said nice things about me (which are true!) and just reminded me that I am going through life and this little problem. He was very encouraging - just what I needed. This is a reminder for all of us - that a little phone call - to lift up someone else - is perhaps our greatest gift we can give another. It also helps us to give this gift. But it is secondary to our gift to give to another.

Please read the post below, and have a great day today!

Who Am I?

With the events of the past year - finding out my spouse has a major problem with alcohol, how this affected me and our daughter, and our marriage - I am in a state of fear.

This fear - the fear of the unknown perhaps - is causing me to look inward at what I may have been avoiding all my life.

I have gained new insights. But I do not have the answer to the question;

Who AM I?

I am not sure I will ever have an answer. I am not sure there actually is an answer.

I have asked myself this question before. Many times in fact. I was - in essence - my work and my "success" because of my work. My ego - I am afraid - took hold of me. This is - I think - because of the fear of growing up and not having enough money.

Truth is - I want someone - who is there for me and that I can share my fears - honestly and openly and say, "Hey, you will get through this. You are a good and caring person and you are whole and perfect. And I love you for who you are already."

I need that affirmation. But, is this a problem too? Do I need someone to affirm me? I then become dependent on their affirmation of me? And if somewhere they think, I, will, er, um, "suck" - do I become a non-entity again - in search of me?


Who AM I?

I am just a human being - that was a "human doing" - and not doing much "being." Through Al-Anon, I have found that people don't care what I do, have done, will do. They care about me "being."

My brother said to me yesterday; "You are in new territory. You are happier in your voice. You have a whole new life in front of you." In essence - "Enjoy the ride." And "look at the positives that have occurred."

I used to be 110% positive. What happened? This alcoholism issue and the affects of a relationship that become angry, lying, deceitful, and conniving, have sent me back to square one.

Well not really square one. I have a lot to be thankful for. I am just in uncharted territory right now. My bet is this - you too are in somewhat uncharted territory today. You have thoughts of fear and concern. You are wondering lately - "Who AM I?" - too. To some degree you know who are. You may be wondering "How did I get here?" And "Where is it I need to go?"

Here is some thought and questions that may help you today;

1. What matters to you is not usually what you say or do, but what upsets you and/or disturbs you. Use this, to determine who you are and knowing yourself. When someone does something or a situation upsets you, ask - "Why is this bothering me?" and journal about it.

2. What are the things that upset me and bother me? If small things disturb me, I remain small. Are the things that disturb me, things others said? Or how about this; Are the things that disturb me what I perceive others have said (or what I perceive others are thinking about me)?

3. What are these things? (related to number 2 above)

4. What about these things make me anxious? Why do I react to them?

Write the answers to these questions down and you may be revealed to yourself. A journal really helps. I cannot tell you how putting these thoughts of fear, worry, anxiousness, etc helps you see and feel your emotions and your inner workings better.

I hope you are well today dear friends.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Be The One Person You Are

In Hope for Today, page 326, November 21st reading, it says;

"I learn to become at peace with myself. I wake up and go to sleep with myself every night. I spend 24 hours a day with that one person [myself], so it is important that I'm at least tolerable if not downright enjoyable company."

What this means to me is this;

You are your most important person. You have extreme influence on who you are and what you can do. You can be the person you are - by recognizing how vital you are to yourself. So stop looking outside yourself for someone else to come to your rescue. See yourself as you truly are.

The passage goes on to say this;

"I can't be that person when I'm controlled by guilt, fear and resentment and negligibly aware of my gifts and talents."

I left off the word "overly" before the word "controlled" in the quote above. I don't think it's necessary.

If we have these "emotions" residing under the surface of our being - right beneath the skin - we project these emotions out onto the world when we interact with others, in certain situations and with ourselves. We give these emotions "more power" and they begin to control us more and more in our lives.

Sometimes we compensate by feigning confidence - which can come across as arrogance.

I think the word and the action of forgiveness can be the best action we can perform. And the forgiveness begins with ourselves. Love yourself is a strange and foreign concept to me. I see myself as hugging myself with arms wrapped around me when I think about this - which is sooooo very strange - that I must admit that I feel uncomfortable. But I think that this is exactly what we - I - must do.

Forgive. Forgive is a kind and loving word that - emotionally - if we truly forgive ourselves and others too - we melt away the negative, destroyer emotions, highlighted above.

Forgive. Especially yourself. And forgive yourself for every stupid, wicked thing you have ever done and for every thought you have ever had. This is where peace begins and where you can begin to become the one person you truly are.

My best to you and myself ;-) this fine day.

Friday, June 13, 2008


In today's Al-Anon meeting, the topic was "Think." This was a simple and quick reading, but the result was tremendous.

We discussed how our thinking affects us. We talked and discussed how our thinking can be controlled by us - and we can think positive or negatively.

When I spoke, I spoke of my going for a run this morning and the chattering that was going on inside my head by a committee I never appointed. This committee is the incessant chattering that is having an adverse affect on me. I have even named the committee members as I was running this morning. They are;

Mr. Self Doubt - "are you sure you can do it?" and "Should you be doing this . . . ?
Mr. Impatient - "We need to do this now."
Ms. Criticism - "You really screwed that up."
Ms. What Are They Thinking - "Are they thinking about me?"
Mr. Acceptance - "If I say such and such - will they think I am smart and like me?"
Ms. Recognition - "I need to be seen as important and rewarded with praise."
Ms. Worry - "I wonder what is going to happen if . . . ?"

I need to fire this committee. I think the first step is naming them so I recognize them when one of them tries to call a meeting to order.

I need to hire a new committee. One that is based on being positive. I need to hire;

Mr. Confident - "I can do anything." [not to be mistake with arrogance]
Ms. Looking for the Good - "Let's see what good can come out of this."
Ms. Who Cares What They Think - "What they think is none of my business."

And so on.

Another person spoke of a story where she was riding in the passenger seat of a car. And another car zoomed around them on the freeway. The driver of the care that zoomed around them cut them off. And made some sort of gesture.

Her friend who was driving the car, said he was waving to apologize. She, on the other hand, said he gave them the finger. And she was ready to go kick his butt.

Two different views of the same incident, she said. And said, "I know I was right, that he gave us the finger. She went on to say, "While I was right, my friend was a whole lot happier."

Two perspectives. Two different ways of thinking. And the ability to choose. One thing no one and I mean no one, has any control over but you.

Hope this helps as we go on into the weekend.

PS - This could be the topic for the Al-Anon Weekend discussion.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Not Personalizing Events

I am reading Eckhart Tolle's book "The New Earth" and it "meets" Al-Anon teachings in many ways. I would like to point out that I am rereading - perhaps - rerere-reading certain sections, because I am trying to learn how to detach from everything.

Yes. Everything.

What I mean by this is - I am not someone else, and I am not someone else's opinion, I am not my clothing, my job, my car, not my friends, and I not someone else's thoughts.

We all measure ourselves to a great degree, to how we are viewed by others. And hence we buy nice clothes, car, vacations, books, and so on - to perhaps not just live, but to "impress" upon others that we have "arrived."

Okay . . . maybe "We all . . . " is a cop out. The word here may be or should be; "I . . ."

Anyway, back to the point . . .

The person with detachment and a true sense of self does not react to any situation - good or bad - in terms of getting "involved" with his or her ego. They respond with "Is that so?" or "Interesting." Now this is not me. I am an enthusiastic, positive, optimist. Crazy about being optimistic. But, there is another issue here. I can become attached to what is good.

In Tolle's book he states the Master (of detachment or enlightenment) "allow(s) the form of the moment, good or bad, to be as it is and so does not become a participant of the human drama. To him there is only this moment and this moment is as it is. Events are not personalized. He is nobody's victim."

And here is another sentence that gets me; "He is so completely at one with what happens that what happens has no power over him anymore. Only if you resist what happens are you at the mercy of what happens, and world will determine you happiness and unhappiness."

Wow. Powerful. I want to be happy. I wanted to earn enough money to be happy all my life. Now I don't know how much is enough. I wanted a partner to help make me happy. No partner, no happiness? Or wrong partner, no happiness?

I am detaching. I am not vesting my "self" in things beyond what I can control. I am myself. And outside of me - is - well, not me. This is hard. For I still look for others acceptance of me as a measure of my self-worth. Interesting that I do this. I am learning and practicing this art of detachment and learning that the present and what I have control over is all that I have.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Pain - Starting In My Head

Much of our pain is carried around in our memory and projected into our future. We are reminded often of the past and how it has impacted our lives. What may be worse is that we have the ability to project that pain out onto the future - in "What might happen . . ."

I have this little group of people - a committee - if you prefer, that goes around chattering inside my head. Many of us do. In fact, I'd say everyone does. Except, the committee sometimes starts to play out on the movie screens of our minds events and situations that might occur. As we do this, we see ourselves in the middle - talking to these imaginary people who are people we know. We see ourselves talking to them and then perhaps projecting the evil events of the past and getting swept up in making them play out in these future scenarios.

Do you do this?

Think about your answer. Of course you do. The question is, how long do you do this before you are able to shut off the committee? Or better, have you mastered the mind and keep your mind from doing this at all?

If you do not shut off the mind, you wind up creating all this negative energy that you carry around with you for the day. And having this negative energy you attract other negative energy and the people who have it. You "awaken" their negativity and this negativity gets hooked up with yours. And all you did was play the negative potential events in your head.

Like attracts like, as they say. Negative attracts negative.

I have learned that staying in the present moment, sort of dissolves any future project (aka worry, anxiety, fear, anger, etc).

The present moment. This is the NOW. This minute, this second. It is living "one day at a time." Even better, "one hour, one minute, one second, at a time."

Being able to stay in the present moment turns off worry, fear, anger, and so on. Here are some ideas to stop and catch this exact second;

Stop and look at the coffee cup in your hand. I mean really look at it. See the cup handle. The color. No coffee cup? Okay, then . . .

Stop and look at the keyboard or the words on this screen. See each letter. Focus now. Try and hold it for 15 seconds. Just 15 little seconds.

Now try it for 30 seconds. Focus now. You can do it. You can. I know you can.

Did you notice the pain subside?

When you get the present moment in focus it is impossible for that committee to be called to order. Do this when times are stressful. Make this a routine. Nothing magically difficult about it. And the advice, well, is free.

Other ways I have found to get into the present and stop the committee is . . .

I recommend lots of meetings. They have allowed me to get focused in the here and the now. Some how, when I am in the meeting, I am at ease with my disease. I put at ease my dis-ease. I feel - comfortable - a sense of; "I am going to be okay." I can breath easier. I am more relaxed.

Speaking of breathing. I heard - and I have tested it and it works - that if you breath, breath deeply, you cannot be thinking of your problems when you breath, and breath is deeply. Try it through your nostrils, and fill up you chest of air. Say, "breath" . . . what a powerful command for you to live by and have in your hip pocket. I also would recommend you do this "breathing" in the sanctity of a long walk or a quiet moment at a Starbuck's or even a MacDonald's. Just get away and BREATH.

Blessings to all. I hope this message helps you this week.

Friday, June 6, 2008


In working the first three Steps, we try to restore ourselves to sanity. I have worked the first three Steps accidentally, by the way. It was in working the first Step that I had to realize there was a power greater than me to handle the stuff I could not handle. So, I drifted to the next two Steps, because I worked Step 1 so hard. Because I had Step 1 worked, I still had unresolved issues, so I had to ask for help - turn it over - as Step 3 states, and give it the God of our understanding. Which meant, I had to accept, a God, in Step 2, and have him restore me to sanity.

This concept was SO foreign to me, that in the beginning I thought this was hogwash (I state it more strongly but you get my drift). It was only when I realized that I needed help and that working Step 1 would "allow" me to give up the things I could not manage. BUT FIRST I HAD TO REALIZE IT. The "IT" I am referring to is; "That I could not manage or do everything on my own."

This was a big realization for me. Let me tell you how I did it, in hopes that it may help you.

First, a very powerful figure in my life told me: "Joe, just read and reread Step 1." I thought he was crazy. It took me a month to just do what he said. So I read Step 1 over and over. I did not get it. I thought it was bull.

Then, one night, before a meeting, I went to a Panera Bread Company, sat there, and read from "Hope for Today" all the Step 1 passages I could. I took notes in a spiral bound notebook. In fact, I rewrote the passages in the first person. This means, I wrote, "I am . . . " or "I have . . . " as I copied each or almost each line from about six or seven passages out the book before the meeting.

Then what I did, I tried to relate each topic that was brought up in every meeting, to Step 1. I asked myself - about the topic - "How does this subject relate to Step 1?" I did not do this scientifically, that is, I did this accidentally.

Then, my sponsor - who is a good soul - pushed me to buy Paths To Recovery. He then sat me down and asked me questions that are in the back of the Chapter on Step 1 and discuss them with him. Man, it was laborious. But he is a good man, and he wants to help, because it helped him. That is, what we were doing - talking about Step 1 - was actually reinforcing the ideas and concepts in his mind and emotion.

Those three things, helped me. It was not a perfect process. But it got me into understanding I needed help. That I was insane because of the qualifier in my life. She was lying to me and covering up her drinking. I could no longer tell when she was completely sober or not. In fact few can. Except for one time - in the morning when she first wakes up. She is a VERY different person. A kind, loving, sweet, gentle person. But - somewhere she takes one swig of wine - her whole body, mind, emotion, facial expression, talk, etc. shifts just slightly. Sometimes, the swig is two or three, the shift is more pronounced. She has learned to "control" her drinking, so as to not let on. I know this now that I am a little closer to sanity.

I also learned, that I could not control her drinking - that is - stop her. My trying to stop her from drinking, drove me crazy, not her. This was and still is - a huge hurdle that I am now over.

So, Sanity. This is what we need - first and foremost. Why? Because YOU owe it to yourself. You cannot make a rational decision or decisions based upon INSANITY that you are living in and are accustomed to. You owe it to your children too.

Sanity. Sanity. Sanity. We get there - I believe - by working Step 1 hard. And then, because you have stuff you cannot manage, you have to have a power to turn it over to and get him to work the stuff you cannot. By the way, it is not just the BIG stuff, it is the stuff that can be too emotional too. This does not mean we escape responsibility - like not needing health insurance - but it does mean we turn it over to our Higher Power to get guidance, provide an answer, give us strength, open a door for us to walk through. Answers do come. And Sanity begins to be restored.

I hope this passage helps you today. But you have to work the program. The program is the Steps in Al-Anon. It means reading, getting a Sponsor (GET ONE - even if it is a temporary sponsor), working the Steps, and going to meetings.

Oh yes, speaking of meetings, this helped me too. I went to about 5 to 10 meetings a week for about four weeks. I go to about 4 to 6 meetings a week now. I am fortunate enough that there are a lot of meetings in my city.

One more thing about meetings, before I sign off. I am going to say this, because I need to. I go to a lot of "different" Al-Anon meetings. There are meetings in certain parts of my city that cater to special interest groups - but they are open to all. They may be gay, African-American, Hispanic, etc. I have found these meetings are much stronger than many of the other "regular" meetings I go to. Why? Because, in these other meetings, these people have been through a lot of intense pain, perhaps ridicule, and perhaps non-acceptance. Here in these meetings, are people who have been where you may be or worse - have been in places you cannot imagine the pain. But because of their pain, and there ability to feel and empathize, they are very open, honest and very accepting. Here in these meetings, if you can find people who have been through intense pain and are very serious about Al-Anon, will you find, some great strength and courage and wisdom.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Detachment came to be the topic at a recent Al-Anon meeting. When I came to talk I spoke of detachment meaning to me, that we - I - became codependent. That is I started working my qualifier's life and starting to try to guess what they were going to do next when it came to drinking and not drinking.

Just a side note here: I was so embroiled in the alcoholism, I did not know when she was drinking or not. I look back at the events and the pictures I have found and see NOW, that she was drinking. I was lulled into a sense of not knowing when she was drunk or not - so everything that was abnormal, became normal, because the craziness became a standard of living over a long period of time.

Anyway, what I have found very useful is NOT to get into my qualifier's business. Now this is easier said than done, especially when you are living in the same home as the person who is drinking. Also, if the drinker is a quiet drinker, versus one that loves to engage by pushing our buttons, it is much more difficult to detach.

But when we are getting our buttons pushed - it serves no purpose to engage, instead it only feeds the addiction. You actually make it stronger and YOU get sucked into a vortex - or a tar pit of anguish, frustration and anxiety. THIS IS WHEN YOU MUST detach, even without love, and even if you have to take the kids and leave the house for a while. Detaching can be as simple as leaving the room. Detaching can be not saying anything. I was told when someone pushes your buttons or tries to hook you, to say, "Interesting." Period. Stop. Say no more.

Detachment can also be as simple as not thinking about the future or the past. AND staying in the moment.

Detachment can also be, realizing we are not our children and that they are separate from us. This includes, our spouse. THEY are separate and they have their own lives. If things are screwed up for them and they are over 18 or 21 - pick the year, but what I am saying is that they are grown-ups at this age and we must stop doing for them what they can and should be doing for themselves. Once we start doing this and this is hard because we have spent years taking care of everyone and the world, we can stop judging, evaluating and therefore, detach more easily.

Detachment is also not seeing yourself in the job or the shoes you bought or the car you drive. You are not these inanimate objects. Yet we allow ourselves to be "insulted" if someone says something "wrong" or critical about these types of things. The same is true for sports teams. A sports team is not us. Hard to believe, especially if we are rabid fans of some football team or baseball team or some other sport. Same is true today about politics - we are democrat or republican or independent, and we get insulted about our favorite politician.

When you think about it - isn't it pretty silly that we would identify so much with things that make no real difference in our achieving peace and serenity?

Anyway - I hope this note finds you all well this day. Stay in the present!!!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Working Step 2

Working Step 2 - Came to believe a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

This is right from the book, "Paths to Recovery";

"Whatever our faith or beliefs, whatever our definition of God or Higher Power we begin to desire increased sanity for ourselves."

In Step 1 we learned we are powerless over alcohol. In Step 1 we also learn we are powerless over the other things in our lives that we have tried to manage. We have tried to manage the impossible and our lives have become frustrating, tiring, and unmanageable.

Only through the first three steps can we learn to practice the art of turning things over to a power higher than ourselves. We learn that in order for us to regain some sanity in our lives, that we can rely on God or a Higher Power to help us through the hardest of days, and that we are not alone to carry burdens too big for us.

This learning to give up, to release, to ask for help, to "let go and let God," is very, very difficult for many of us since we are used to shouldering the responsibilities of many and specifically, those who may be our qualifiers in our lives.

But we must learn to let go and seek help from a power greater than ourselves. I have personally learned this, and never thought I would seek out God for help. And I can tell you that God answered in my times of need. For this and other things, I am extremely grateful.

Here are some suggestion from Paths to Recovery that may help you in your hours of need;

  • Say the Serenity Prayer every morning and evening when we feel overwhelmed. [I know many people who say the Serenity Prayer several times a day.]
  • Meditate on "God, grant me the serenity," one word at a time.
  • Being still and asking for help whenever a situation seems too much to take.
  • Recognizing sane behavior and acknowledging it. Taking notice of small miracles - a bright eyed child, a bounding puppy, a friend's call just when it's needed. [this last one - the phone call - has happened to me quite a bit]
  • Acting as if we have faith. Being still and asking for guidance, then going about the day's business assuming it will come.
  • Laughing; trying to remember some funny occurrence to share at a meeting.
  • Making a list of the things beyond our understanding that have happened in life that might suggest the existence of a Higher Power. [this is one I need to work]

The family disease is affects the family. We are not immune. But we can get inoculation shots or boosters, reach out to others, do not isolate. Do not obsess with the thoughts running around in your head. Try to stay out of your head and do something productive. And when times get tough, go to a meeting, call your sponsor, get out the phone list and talk things out.

Good luck this fine day.