I recently listened to a radio episode about addiction on the program “This American Life” by Ira Glass. The episode was entitled “Dopey” and talked about Chris and Dave who conducted a weekly pod cast about addiction. Both Chris and Dave were in recovery. When they started the podcast, they made an editorial decision to not really stress “recovery”. Their reasoning was that recovering was boring and people really didn’t want to listen to addicts talking about being clean and sober. Instead they would run through their favorite drug stories and regal the audience with humorous accounts of how they got high, picked up by the police, stole, etc. They called this philosophy “The Rope-a-Dope”. People would tune in for the humorous stories and stay for the recovery.
“A Recovery Community Organization (RCO) is devoted to providing services to and tearing down barriers for those suffering from a substance use disorder. It is a
grassroots community-based organization staffed by people in recovery."
“Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”
There is something extremely satisfying to me when I look out the window first thing in the morning after a new snow and see the perfectly clean state of the world. No dog prints, no dirty sand sprays from recent plows, no half melted snow forts. It’s just pure, un-touched perfection! I feel this way often when I know I am starting a new day and living an authentic life to the best of my ability. I don’t get perfection like that crisp morning snow, but I do get a clean and un-touched slate every day! And I do get to take advantage of that fresh slate to practice living in my truth.
I just returned from a Christmas cruise with a family group of nine people on Holland America’s new ship, the Niew Statendam. Our group of nine included my wife and myself, our two daughters, two sons-in-law, and three grandchildren. We all get along well.
As we enter into yet another new year, it’s hard not to look back at what has taken place over 2018. But for me, it’s even harder not to look forward with plans and questions of uncertainty for the year to come. I try to live one day at a time as best I can, but reflecting on a new calendar has me “what if”-ing in wonder and veering off the track of living for today. Some of the wonder is exciting. But honestly, some of the wonder is scary. The un-played days of 2019 haven’t even started yet and my mind wants to prepare for them. Truth be told, I tend to lean into fear. Maybe rightly so, I have a past riddled with pain and hurt. Everyone does. It’s not fun. And my ego wants to avoid painful stuff and control its very existence. The problem is…I don’t get to!! But hey, check this out…I also have a past riddled with joy and triumph! Life comes with both! And isn’t this really just a question of practicing the choice to focus on the joy over the pain anyways? Isn’t it just a practice in letting go and acceptance? A practice of choosing faith over fear? I think so! Its 3rd step genius!! “Gods will not mine” is the brilliance of realizing we get to choose faith over fear. I have that choice each and every day in each and every situation.
Life is hard sometimes. When I entered the world of life in recovery, I thought it was about just not using and redeeming what I thought was my horrible, weak character. Years later, I now know that it is much more. Life, whether through addiction recovery or any other adversity, is about reaching a chapter of spiritual growth. So here’s the hard truth! Spiritual growth does not blossom through the easy, peasy moments. It is birthed through adversity and hardship. And nobody escapes life without adversity and hardship! Here’s the thing…life and people and circumstances are not out to get you, they are out to grow you!
At age 19, I had all the evidence I needed that I was an alcoholic. On one terribly cold, windy, January day, I was kicked out of college. That event made me homeless. I was standing in front of the dormitory that used to be my home, almost broke. I had sixty-nine cents in total assets, all in coins in my pocket. I had nowhere to go. I was drunk, even though it was still morning. I was so drunk that I couldn’t stop peeing my pants, and the frozen pee was sticking to my legs.
I was recently speaking with a very impulsive Retreat guest who had difficulty maintaining a focus on one thing for very long. I was not surprised that his drug of choice was meth, because at the beginning of his meth use it actually calmed him down. At The Retreat we do Big Book studies that are two hours long at a time, and this was tough for him. He told me “I need something short and simple, that can work for me.”