Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Letting Go - On New Years

Letting Go - a powerful concept.

I just placed into my God box a note asking for help in "letting go" and gaining peace and serenity this week. Then I go to Robert Anthony's book - by the way - not approved by the Al-Anon conference - and open up the page and there is a whole section on letting go.

Life and Al-Anon work this way for me now. The synchronicity thing . . .

I am going to quote from it and paraphrase what is means to me this morning.

"Whenever we get a strong belief, whenever we think that what we know is the truth, we then lock onto that belief as a defense against conflicting beliefs. We cannot hold conflicting beliefs in our mind without anxiety or distress. So what we do is gather supportive data and information to prove we are right and not crazy for believing what we believe. This can work against us in seeking out the truth because we operate in accord with the truth as we see it and not as it is.

Sometimes we hold on to opinions, attitudes and beliefs that no longer serve us. This is why we must examine our beliefs on a regular basis to see where we might be lying to ourselves or locking out information that may be more relevant. Why don’t we do this? We lock out the truth because we don't want to be wrong, make a mistake, or feel bad."

The words, "to prove we are right" hits me this morning. In my battle against alcoholism - my wife who is the alcoholic - I knew in my heart and intuition something was wrong. My wife, told me lies and made me think I was wrong. I fought to prove I was right. Now I lock onto my opinions and try to prove my "opinions" are right in normal, every day life - probably out of habit - but mostly out of feeling "less than" or insignificant.

I really don't think I do this as often as I did - in fact - I think I do this very rarely - but - I may be wrong. I need to look out for when I am tired.

I was tired last night. A person asked me out to a New Years celebration. I couldn't go and in reality -didn't want to. I am not a partying person right now. I know - boring. But I couldn't help but hear these words and start my judgment with this person . . .

She said, "I want to be around people and sip champagne . . ." I am saying to myself, "Why?"

I have no desire to do this. I locked onto this and started my questioning of her "desire" which was a form of judgment. It was on the phone that we had this conversation. This makes it doubly bad. My voice is deep and resonate. It can sound - well - hard. I am not hard - but when I am tired, I come across - well - I dislike admitting it - bad. I sounded controlling. I was manipulative in my questions.

This person is a nice person. Different values. Different desires. I said I wasn't going - and couldn't. I just should have "let go." And of course - I am beating myself up for my slip of judging. New Years was never a great time for me.

I had conflicting beliefs - because the truth is - I did want to go. I couldn't and shouldn't. I have stopped all alcohol intake. Not because I am an alcoholic - but because it scares the crap out of me now that I have seen its power and cunningness.

I am afraid of all who drink. I am afraid of anyone I might be attracted to. I know this disease could pop up again in my life. I am - afraid of it - no . . . scared shitless of it.

I am letting go today - because it is out of my "control."

Monday, December 29, 2008

Blueprint for Progress (Original Version-1976)

This was sent to me by a good friend in the program. She said this was one of her favorites. She has been in the program for - I think - 20 years plus. A smart and sensitive person, she has much wisdom.

Here is what she sent - exactly;

Blueprint for Progress (Original Version-1976)

Maturity – p. 31

Maturity is simply being grown up. It is the quality in people which helps them to balance their intellects and their emotions so that their behavior is appropriate. The ability to do the right thing at the right time requires a clear-eyed view of situations and people and an understanding of human limitations.

Mature people resist extremes, have realistic self-images and reasonable goals, and have learned to accept responsibility for their own actions. The only expectations they have are for themselves. The only inventories they take are their own.

Maturity – p. 34

Maturity is the growing awareness that you are neither all powerful nor helpless. It could be said to be the knowledge of what is, what might be, and what cannot be. It is not a destination; it is a road. It is the moment when you wake up after some grief or staggering blow and think, “I’m going to live, after all.” It is the moment when you find that something you have long believed is not so; and, parting with old convictions you find that you are still you; the moment you discover that someone else can do your job as well as you – but you go on doing it anyway; the moment you do the thing you have always been afraid of; the moment you realize that you are forever alone, but so is everyone else; and the hundred moments when you see yourself as you are. It is letting life happen in its own good order and making the most of what there is. It is “Letting go and letting God.”

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Being provoked, when I read some one's comments, I said, "Ah yes, the alcoholic's primary weapon." Damn. I continue to be provoked.

This past weekend, late Friday to be precise, my spouse had her attorney send a fax to my attorney about two bills that were supposedly late - that supposedly I had not paid. I saw the fax, freaked out, and was down and depressed Friday and had this constant undertone of worry throughout the weekend.

Monday, I called both places. Both people said I was paid in full.

Okay. I breathed. I was relieved. But throughout the weekend, I was - well - worried and freaked. I was full of anger and bitterness. I even spoke to my spoke. No, that's not accurate. I fired back. It wasn't pretty. It wasn't healthy. It wasn't even necessary - or so I found out Monday. Two bills - one was $3o bucks - that was supposedly late. Two lawyers - charging $300 per hour - who knows how much that cost. Of course, I told her that. And of course the conversation drifted to her accusing me of stuff and of course I told her that what she is doing is because of alcoholism. And of course, we were both fired up.

And of course, here I am, Tuesday morning looking back at this colossal waste of energy and emotion and stress.

Looking back at what I could have done - and somethings I did do to relieve it.

I called my sponsor Friday night. I could tell he was busy. He told me I was doing the right thing by calling him and going to a meeting . . .

So when I called him, I was looking for this Friday meeting - Friday night - who would have ever thought I would be not at some "bar" on a Friday if I was single. Now I post this because this is my old thinking that if I was single on a Friday that I would have to go out with some buddies and entertain ourselves . . . but since I don't drink and bars are not where you find peace and serenity . . . And who the heck would ever have thought that I would be looking for peace and serenity?????

So, on Friday's I look for Al-Anon meetings - not bars. Not social scenes. But Al-Anon meetings. What a funny thing to post. Funny equaling - well - strange. But - maybe - well just funny.

My life has turned for the better.

I am going through a rough time. The holidays ARE stressful. We - or I - have this map in my head of what Christmas is supposed to be. It is this Norman Rockwell postcard picture of snow and a family decorating the tree. With friends coming over later - for - well - even Norman I think has this in a picture somewhere - eggnog with - alcohol mixed in. Well maybe he doesn't. But in my head he does.

But back to this crazy stupid thing that I ALLOWED to occur IN MY HEAD.

I was full of anger - resentment - bitterness - all masking worry. I was not able to find that meeting Friday night. And since I had my child most of the weekend - could not get to another meeting.

So here I am - this morning - realizing that - I have not been to a meeting in - what - 5 days? Let's see; Thursday, Friday or was I at the noon meeting Friday - I think I was - Saturday? Nope. Sunday or Monday? No and no.

I need a meeting.

Back to this anger. It is resentment. I resent being done unto (the fax). I resent being blamed for the divorce. She is saying ALL the neighbors know that I am a bastard. Of course I respond (retaliate), "Tell them to come talk to me and I can show the documents of this and that and why I am getting a divorce . . . blah, blah, blah."

Okay. So I am in recovery. I explaining that I can forget. Slip. Falter. And harbor ill-wills.

Resentment. I like what I have heard others say over and over about this harboring of ill-wills called resentment;

"Resentment is like drinking poison and hoping the other person will die."

Yep. It sure is. My stress level was up - WAAAY up Saturday. I allowed my peace and serenity to be broken.

Sure, life is easier for me. I am out of the abuse of the alcoholics throw of words. Today I can just hang up the phone.

Okay the phone is ringing - it's my soon to be ex-spouse . . .

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Being Provoked and Responding

I forgot about this word - "provoked."

It's so much easier to be out of the house of a raging alcoholic. I forgot how the alcoholic provokes and picks - until you cannot take it any more and you respond in retaliation.

While I am out of the house now, I am still being provoked, but no where the same amount and no where the same intensity. Some how, I still respond. Why the hell do I do this?

I am tired of the fighting - I want some peace. My soon to be ex-wife is accusing me of sleeping with my attorney's paralegal. Yes, she is nice looking. No, I am not sleeping with her.

Some how, the alcoholic - my soon to be ex - is so convincing, that I have to ask myself if I am sleeping with her.

Yes I do hang up now when I hear this bashing of how I am cheating. But not always. I defend by saying "I am not." When I defend, I am as good as dead.

I need to relax and detach. I need to chill tonight and this week. And why in the world do I have this compulsion to defend????

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Healed or Be Justified - Your Choice

In recovery I have learned many things. Learning is one thing. Practicing these and making them part of me is another (i.e. Living them). Here is a phase/sentence that is profound for me. I hope it resonates with you.

"You can either be justified or be healed. But you cannot do both."

I like that quote. It resonated with me this morning. Justification hangs on to negative, unrealistic and irrational thoughts. Justification makes my mind allow sickness to stay. Justification puts my life "on hold." It keeps me living in the past.

I let go of all justification. It keeps me rooted in the past and is associated with negative energy.

You've Already Won

I read every morning. I find if I can concentrate on something positive without being sidetracked, I set sail for a more peaceful day.

Being Worthy And Deserving
Here what I read this morning.

If you cannot accept yourself - accept that you are worthy and deserving - then you cannot accept the behavior of other people and are therefore in judgment of them.

Wow. Not accepting myself as worthy and deserving sets me up as a judger of others [I know, "judger" no such thing - but it 6:40AM on Saturday!].

Here is another little sentence that caught my eye and my mind. I've read it a dozen times in the past 5 months;

If you are judging others and not accepting yourself as worthy, then you are dwelling on lack and limitation.

Scarcity Thinking Leads Me To Control or Fear Based Thinking
Okay. I get it. I am sitting on the negative, scarcity side of my mind and looking at life through a lens of poverty, lack and limitation; or things I don't have and then look for more - so I can set myself up for more scarcity, which essentially leads me to more fear based thinking.

Another sentence - right after the last one;

By dwelling on lack and limitation - you are limiting yourself and consequently making decisions that are based on fear. Your thinking goes; What will they think? What will they do? What will they say?

It's All ABout Me and My Thinking
YIKERS!!! I see it in me! I start by thinking scarcity. I take a slow step by step into obsessive NEGATIVE thinking - about things I cannot control. And then I might set myself up to try to control this behavior of others or things outside myself, which I cannot, and I know I cannot.

Recovery: Trading Control For Fear?
If I begin to recover, I stop the controlling behavior of myself over others. So, I begin to see that I stop trying to control. This is where I think I first recognized that when I stopped trying to control the behavior of others and the outcome I learned I was powerless. BUT and this is a BIG BUT - now I realize I cannot control - but now FEAR Comes In!!!!!

Recovery: The NEXT Step?
If I realize, I am already OKAY - I am already whole, complete and perfect (what I do is not perfect - but if I truly believe in a HP - my HP has allowed me the grace to be imperfect which makes me perfect. Does that make sense?].

No Longer Having To Win The Approval of Others
The mere fact that my HP has "allowed" me to live in this world and experience it first hand tells me I have already Won. I don't need to prove myself. I don't need the acceptance of others. I don't need to get the opinions of others to state I am okay and worthy. I am already worthy; therfore I have won. I no longer need to try to win the approval of others.

I need to print this post out. Tape it to the end of a stick. And then tape the other end of the stick to my head so I reread this everyday for the next 21 days.

Peace and serenity to all this weekend

Friday, December 12, 2008

Identification With The Outcome

One of the greatest things I have learned in the program is that I identify with the outcome I want and desire.

Seeing the Outcome In My Mind
I find that if I visualize an outcome, I place my self-esteem and self-worth in that specific thing I am trying to produce. When it doesn't come about, or people are not "acting" in the manner I desire, I feel bad. In the past, I would try harder to convince them that my way was right.

Today I am much better - or so I believe. I think that today, some things really, truly, don't matter. They don't. And other times, I may get 50% of what I was expecting, but now I see that the other part I "didn't get," - well - it is probably better that it ended up differently.

Today I go into the office. I have new pressures and problems. I have a million issues to tackle. Some I am avoiding. When I don't accomplish all of them I am not beating myself up or feeling guilty.

I Am What I Am
I am slowly learning that I am what I am (the old Popeye song). I am not other things. I am not other people's opinions and expectations. I am not what others perceive what God wants for me. I am not the newspapers' version of reality. I am not my clothes, my car, rented house, I am not my daughter's opinion of me, or my attorney's opinion of me, or my soon to be ex-spouse's opinion, and sometimes - no - almost mostly - I am not my own opinion of me.

Experiencing This Mystery Called Life
I just am. I am a being - placed on this little hairball orbiting the sun - and I really - if there is a "should" - I should be grateful I am here on it and grateful to experience the ups and downs of this mystery called life. It truly is a mystery - this life thing. How wonderful to have experienced it and be experiencing it - close up and personal.

When I stop identifying with the outcome, I start to remove a mask, and just be. Just be - be experiencing this thing called life.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Letting Go

I went to a noon day Al-Anon meeting. I sat there with my mouth closed and I prayed.

I have been doing a lot of praying lately. I have never been a pray-er before Al-Anon.

About a year and a half ago a therapist my wife and I were seeing, told me to go to Al-Anon. My wife had stormed out of the meeting - she was drunk and neither the therapist nor me recognized that she was blitzed until 40 minutes into the session.

He said - "Are you a spiritual person?" My thoughts were: Are you freaking crazy???!! I have a wife who drives around town drunk with children in the car. Are you asking me to worship some sort of thing?!

I had no clue what spiritual meant. I think about this now as I type this. You see I forgot about this - and the question the therapist asked me. And I forgot how the question triggered in me a sense of - "Are you for freakin' real???"

The Al-Anon Meeting - Letting Go
But this post is about letting go. The topic was Progress not Perfection and Letting Go. Everyone commented on Progress. I don't think I am a perfection addict. I would like to be seen as brilliant - is that perfection? Maybe.

My Burning Issue of the Week
I sat in the room and listened - but I prayed to "let go." I was obsessing over my wife's comments from the morning before - she said the counsellor at school was very disturbed about my daughter's comments about me and she - the counselor - was going to call the state's Family and Child Protective Services on me. Now, you talk about fear? I left the conversation with my wife with so much fear - I was calling everyone. I finally got hold of the school counsellor and she said, "What? I have no thoughts about calling them. What I can tell is you are providing consequences for your child's bad behavior." I have taken her cell phone away for a day or two at a time, taken away computer privileges and one time - no - two times sent her to her room. I could not be seen as an oger or some weirdo that needs the state to be brought in. But the alcoholic - or the alcoholism - will lie. It will outfox the most brilliant. And it has staying power. Just when you let your guard down - BAMM! You are on the ropes.

Letting Go and Compassion
Anyway - I am letting go. Or trying to. I find that if I can feel compassion for my wife - the anger dissipates. Look, she is ill. She is stressed about the divorce as well. Yes, she has plenty of money. Yes, she chooses not to work. Yes, she is mad at me. All of these things are none of my business and - I don't need to think about them - (but I do!). She does what I call "mean things." Yep - mean equals setting me up about this calling the state Child Protective Services. Yep. And I think she is manipulating our child. Yep. But what can I do? She is - frankly - sick.

So, I feel compassion for her - when I want to heal. Yes, is compassion for her - or is it for me? I used to think it was for the alcoholic. But in reality, it is for me. Because I can let go by using or thinking with compassion. It may be the best tool I have - for me!

I am - in recovery - and damn proud of it. If I obsess or get into her head - is that going to help me or hurt me? I know the answer; it's going to hurt me. It will loop me back to old behavior. My ego is addicted to the old behavior and wants me to go back there.

Letting go is knowing I have no control of the past, nor what others are doing or saying.

A Couple of Quotes
I have a couple of quotes from Robert Anthony here. I hope they help you today;

  • Everything you have not cleared up from the past is running your life now.
  • What you have today is the result of your ideas yesterday.
  • You limit yourself in being stuck in your possessions and accomplishments.
  • The decisions we made in order to survive when we were 8 years old are the decisions we allow to run our lives now.
  • We learn to be happy by healing our fears.
  • The "art of release" can be very healing in that we learn to let of that which does not belong to us.
  • Actually, we don't own anything. Everything in our lives tend to circulate in and out of our experience.

Letting go of the past. Especially the things we used to survive. And we don't own anything. If I can hold onto those two thoughts forever, I feel some consolation? Is that the right word?

I came into the world with nothing and I will leave the world with nothing.

I don't need to be anything for anyone. I just need to be. Be me.

Hope you are well

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Friday's Lesson (For Me)

I had a tough event the other day. We had a divorce event - the deposition of my wife.

It was - in a word - horrible. The grilling that came about from the lying, made the event much longer.

I had a headache during and after the event, because I am an Al-Anoner. I felt for her. I empathized. I wanted to "rescue" her. Just tell the truth and this wouldn't take so long.

The next day I was called an SOB by the wife.

I wanted to reach out talk to her, tell her I was sorry. I wanted to scold my lawyer. I wanted to get everyone happy again. Sounds ridiculous of course.

Fortunately my sponsor answered my call. He was shopping at the grocery store (he is a stay at home dad). It was about 9AM. He was somewhere in the cereal aisle.

I told him about my wanting to fix. I was "jumping around in the squirrel cage," he said. Beautiful observation.

He also said, "This is a disease of arguments." Also beautiful. It sure is.

He also said, "I heard the other night, "I bought this frame, now if I could only get this picture to fit." Hmmm. Interesting. Yep. I have this filter or lens of how I see the world and I want the world to fit my point of view.

He said, "Joe, write out on paper everything you feel in unmanageable. Everything from your attorney's fees, your wife's feelings, your wife's calling you an SOB, to your daughter's saying she hates you, and everything else. And you can put it in your God box or shred it or whatever. Just write it down and get it out of your head."

Simple instruction. Simple action. There was resistance from my ego which said, "Don't write it down or else I will have nothing else to obsess about." Yep. I wrote it down. It was virtually gone from my mind. And I was able to clear the wanting to call everyone and "make it right."

Today I am grateful. I have a program. I have a sponsor. I am very lucky.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

12th Step - Having A Spiritual Awakening

Last night I went to a meeting - and the topic was on the 12th Step;

Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

I sat quietly in this meeting. I sat quietly - which is some what unusual for me - because I couldn't think of anything really "smart" to say (my ego wants to sound smart and impress others), and because I was tired. I realize now, that when I am tired, I am not my best and I am probably not very coherent. Now, you might say, "That's what you learned in Al-Anon???" Yep. It's one of the simple things, that in the past, I would not admit to, and "gut it out" and say just about anything so that I could sound "on" and not tired. Today, I can keep my mouth closed (not always) and just chill.

But this is not what I want to talk about today.

I want to share this:

Having had a spiritual awakening. Have I? Many shared that nothing came down from the heavens and hit them on the head and has given them an "Aha" moment or a great light came and provided them enlightenment.

I sat thinking in the meeting as others were talking - about all the things that happened that I cannot explain. The cardinals that came to my old home and then showed up at my new home and did some strange things and about a story of a cardinal in a meeting before the first hearing (something that I have not really revealed in this blog - that might appear as if I was was a little nuts - so I won't). The events that led me to a new job - a job that requires no travel versus the job I had before which was about 60% travel, that I had to scale back to 20 to 30% travel. And finding a new job - in fact several - in the midst of tough times. About meeting new people who are in a situation like mine.

All of these events above and others - that I consider - simply miraculous. Yes. I can say that word.

Finding God (or MY Higher Power)
But that is not my spiritual awakening. Even finding "God" or my HP in this program is not "Having had a spiritual awakening . . ." - at least not to me - although it could be.

The "although it could be" (above sentence - just reread that for a moment) - is part of what I am referring to.

I have tried to stop analyzing things and stopped thinking too deeply - but this is not always true.

Thinking Too Much (Part of the Spiritual Awakening)
The stopping of analyzing things IS part of my spiritual awakening. It is the little things that take me into my egoic mind and starts to reek havoc. The train wreck that comes about from thinking and more thinking.

Becoming More Conscious
I used to think I was pretty conscious. But this disease affected me a lot. It affected me minute by minute and covered me up with layers of thick blankets to where I could not tell what was real or illusions (my mind over thinking). I had layers of "denial" and "pretending everything was just swell."

I am becoming more conscious. I am in recovery. I am - seeing things differently. This is coming from a guy who has thousands - and I do mean thousands of books, audio programs, and video programs that HAVE HELPED me, and who thought he KNEW and KNOWS.

I remember two conversations at my wife's rehab center that are germane to this topic with one of the counselors. He said - I think it was the very first meeting; "We've all read all the self help books. But it is not until you are in a room like this." We were in a circle "discussing" - or "sharing" - much like Al-Anon.

In Recovery (and Admitting It!)
The second comment came from the same individual. He said, "Joe and his wife are in the early stages of recovery." Now for the record, my wife, was still drinking and later admitted it. I knew it - and I resented that statement about "She was in early in recovery" because my heart and mind and intuition were all screaming "She's drinking and won't stop." I wanted the truth to be on the table. I now know I am not in charge of her recovery nor am I responsible for the being the "truth teller." This is NOT my job.

This is easy to say NOW, now that I am no longer living with an alcoholic - an active alcoholic - one who is provoking and criticizing. I let you know this - because I would be lying to you if I said I could handle alcoholism again and live with it. I can't. I won't. But this is ME. I am not as strong as others are. I can admit that now. Even though - I believe a person who has the disease - can be the most beautiful and compassionate and most spiritual person. I can't because - I am too afraid of "what could happen."

But back to the point - I was - and still am in recovery. I hated that word. At the time, I "knew" there was nothing wrong with me. Duh. Denial? Yeah, maybe. Maybe more like ignorance.

Awakening, Slowly, Day By Day
The 12th Step is more around the "awakening" part. I am never fully "awakened." I am continously awakening - awakening from sleep - gaining consciousness - little by little, one day at a time, seeing things differently and seeing me, and how I see things as affecting how I see things and interpret events.

I am becoming more at ease with myself and others. I still rankle at when someone judges me. So I am not recovered on this part. But the program, that "spiritual awakening" for me is a continuous process of seeing things differently and using the previous 11 Steps as a foundation for me to live by - in and out of the program.

Not Part of the 12th Step (But Maybe it is . . . )
I hope this makes sense. But, there again, there is part of my recovery. Hoping this makes sense for you is - well, er, is, hmmm, "none of my business." Yep. Sounds harsh to an Al-Anoner. But truly, it is - "out of my control."

Boy, saying this, does sound weird and - frankly - uncaring. But that is my problem - how I think I sound to others.

Monday, December 1, 2008



I hear in the program that we are "human beings" not "human doings." I often get caught up in the outcome of the "doing." I have learned to focus on the goal or outcome and not be concerned with the doing.

I get confused sometimes. I think I am told and was taught to focus on the goal and not be concerned with the method.

As I look back, I should not be confused. I should try to achieve. But I do not need to "become" the outcome. In other words, I am already complete, whole and perfect. The outcome will not make me any more complete, whole and perfect.

Also, I need to just "be." Be who I am. Enjoy the present moment. Not focus on the future and say to myself, "When I get here, I will be happy." The "here" part of that sentence can be; money, a finalized divorce, a new relationship, recognition at work, etc.

I just need to Be.

I have also learned that focusing on the "doing" - I can find peace, serenity and joy. When I get anxious, I am not present, I am not in the moment. I start to look toward the outcome and the result of the doing.

I am sure you have been in a complete state of being. It can be when you got into a rhythm. When you lost track of time. You thoroughly enjoyed what it was you were doing.

I am caught up in the disease of future thinking. I am - well - weird. I have literally been on vacations, where I am thinking about getting back to work a week later.

I am getting better. I can just "be" - and when accept the present moment and who I am - I am much better off.

I am already. I am is being. Here and now - just be. I don't need to get, or have.

I came into this world with nothing. And, the sad thing is, I will leave with nothing. I think when i meet my maker - he will ask not; "What have you achieved?" But, "Did you enjoy the time you were on earth?"

Be. Accept the present. Better yet, find joy and beauty in the present. This allows me to "Be."