The Mighty Fall

We think one person has developed to the place in recovery that they are above temptation’s ability to deceive them. Our admiration of such a person places them as heroic in our minds. Then, this mountain of stability takes a major tumble into relapse. Some of us are quick to point out why, in a judgmental pose from our own perch. Others say, what’s my chance to stay clean and sober when someone with their knowledge of sober living comes  to this? They go ahead and give up, and relapse. “What’s the use?” they ask.

We cannot be deceived to think we are too full of recovery smarts that we cannot fall. Relapse can come from many sources, in ways unexpected. The first way is pride. The thought that we do not need to go to meetings regularly.

Never think that you have paid the price and can’t see the need to get to meetings. Prideful people are very fast to judge other’s sobriety. I really feel pride has such a negative impact on an individual that it’s presence affects the spiritual plane of our existence, causing one to face the weaknesses they see in others.

Another biggie is complacency. This little booger is closely related to pride. The difference is the complacent individual is awareness they aren’t above relapse. Their issue is not “feeling” like going, not feeling like reading positive materials, or praying, or helping others. This kills most people’s recovery about a year, more or less, ahead of the actual fall back into their addiction.

Procrastination, the five syllables of death has ruined the recovery of many. Putting off working the steps to recovery, or doing the next right thing because they are so loaded down with other tasks they cannot see a meeting, calling their sponsor, or helping a neighbor, etc.

Also, some are laden with consequences from the past. They try too hard to “fix” or undo their past by taking on the bigger problems. If unsuccessful, they just quit. Do little things first, the big ones will become easier as each little problem solved builds confidence.

Religion can be a bad thing for a person choosing to go the church attendance route instead of AA, NA, GA, CR, etc. I am all for church attendance for aiding recovery. Keep this in mind; Recovery meetings teach you how to recover from your addictions, help you understand and accept and surrender what you have become, and help you learn to deal with consequences.

Church meetings can reinforce and help with these problems, but it is highly doubtful the weekly sermon will be about your recovery. Many take this route because of pride, not wanting anyone to know they are anything other than a sinner, not a weak, out-of-control addict or drunk.

There are other things that bring down the mightiest of recovering individuals. For your information, I don’t have these thoughts from just observing others. I have, and still do face many of these issues personally. My enemy, or addiction is me. Self- serving is my real problem, addictions to anything are side effects.

For all of us working our recovery, don’t get too smart. Don’t be dishonest of where you are when things are awry. Total honesty is an admission that may save us from pride, complacency, and putting off recovery. The season of joy is here when we celebrate the birth of Christ, and welcome the new year. Humbly ask God’s help for understanding the purpose of Christ’s coming, and the purpose He has for you today, the upcoming year, and direction to keep you from falling.

What do you think? What would you add as a reason for relapse?

Advertisements

Signs of Trouble

A good friend came to me recently to discuss their recent relapse. “I just don’t know what happened, it just happened.”. I do not judge them, just listen and offer help if I can. I am aware that when a relapse occurs, there is a reaction to the fall. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. That is not a law for physics alone. That law pertains to body, soul, and spirit as well.

“Don’t be misled you cannot mock the judgment of God. You will always harvest what you plant.” Gal. 6:7 NLT
 
“All went well for a time, but he failed to enlarge his spiritual life. To his consternation, he found himself drunk several times in rapid succession.” AA’s Big Book pg.35

Everyone in recovery from drink, drug, porn, anger, gambling, or insert any addiction here, need to know there is a ripple effect of consequences to face when the slightest relapse happens. First, Guilt comes knocking. How do I face this with friends and family? What will my sponsor say? The remorse alone causes many to quit altogether.

Second is getting honest with yourself, and with others. Forget the embarrassment. Everyone knew you were in relapse mode long before it happened. You thought you couldn’t possibly fall. Your words and actions, or lack thereof, were the indicators for them. You can’t stop doing what it takes to keep you sober and expect to remain that way.

Third, actually facing the music with others is frightening. Again, that is remorse, having to admit the fall. Anyone having the audacity to judge you will face judgment themselves. What you find out is that for the most part, people rally around you. They are glad you have returned.

Many who read this post are struggling right now from some addiction. The advice I want to give is the same from AA’s Big Book. asking God to remove the thought immediately! He alone can do so, I have experienced this personally, and witnessed it in others.
Don’t follow through with the thoughts and indulge because you know God and others will forgive you. Stand. Give yourself to God and to recovery. You will grow personally and be filled with a sense of well-being from resisting and winning each battle.
Reaping and sowing works both ways. Be determined to do what it takes to find out what life is like freed from the chains of addiction. The harvest is plenty of life, joy, and serenity you never dreamed you would experience.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all!

Relapse: Powerless Grad School

What causes anyone to return to misery and pain they had found freedom from, I may never figure out. I know addiction has power over the addicted, so I am not finger pointing. I may never know why, but I do know how it happens for many. Some people have what is called, “chronic relapse syndrome,” that they seem to have no control over. “I was in line to pay for my fuel, and I saw the cooler and my favorite beer, and then that was it,” you may hear them say. I really do not believe that.
When does it Einstein?  
I believe relapse happens long before the drink, before the drive past the old dope house and being dragged inside from the addiction. The day the one recovering thinks they do not need a meeting, don’t feel like calling their sponsor, have no intention to help another needing help, forgets to pray, the return to hell is on. The little things we did to get clean and sober, somehow becomes unnecessary to us, so we taper off a little here, a little there, then, oops! Those vital “little things” become a major task when we see doing them as work, not seeing each of these are blessings from God to teach us how to live again.
Think, Think, Think
Remember when you arrived? How you felt? When hope was found? When family and friends began to trust you again? No? You don’t remember? …That is the beginning, forgetting. You were eager to get to a meeting….now you find them monotonous. You were surprised strangers wanted to help you….now they bug you with their little “sayings” and advice. You were shocked that when you asked God to help you stay sober each day, it really worked….now, it’s been days since you even thought about God, or asking for His help.
These are a few of the many reasons for relapse, yet what caused the complacency is no longer avoiding known “triggers” that influence your thoughts. Hanging out with the old crowd to show them how tough you can be but not drinking is a danger zone. Isolating yourself because you can’t be around people right now, is another. Getting into the nightly TV rut, listening to the music you always drank to, compromising your boundaries, a couple more reasons.
How can I get it back?
Here’s a few short ideas. I am no different than you. I have struggled myself with all of these simple little daily to-dos, so don’t feel you are unique.
1) Have a morning program. The first conscious moments ask God to help you stay sober today. Have a reading regimen, putting wisdom and positive thoughts in your mind before starting any tasks. Find 3-5 things you are grateful for each morning. Reflect in meditation about where you are now, and where you came from.
2) Go to a recovery meeting as often as possible. If you are in a funk from the same meetings, change up, go elsewhere. This is the place where you discover those little “things” you do have a major effect on your recovery. Being around like-minded people brings the notion that you are not the only broken person needing help. I am so grateful for every meeting, and sorry I didn’t get to more of them.
3) Be available to help another. Ask God each day for an opportunity to help someone, anyone. It doesn’t have to be someone in recovery, maybe an elderly neighbor. You will never understand what serving others does for you and your recovery until you get involved. “I don’t have time,” is a way of saying, “I don’t want to.” If you asked God for someone you can help, He will provide the time.
If you are complacent with your recovery, take that as serious, as serious as though you have already used or drank. In reality your mind is already uncomfortably back doing what earned you a seat in recovery.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

Play, FF, RWD, Pause, Stop

Prevention may make intervention unnecessary.  I am not convinced that had my parents sat me down from time to time and explained the dangers of drinking, taking me to the scriptures and pointing out the importance of following God with all of my heart would have kept me from living as a derelict for nearly two decades. Sadly, we didn’t get it back then. Just get them to church, they will learn by osmosis  and besides, when they are old, they will come back to God, the Bible says that, the minister said so.
Play the Tape.
You hear this in recovery meetings quite often. It is a warning to all that if they are thinking about relapsing, play out the scenario, and what will happen if they do go back to drinking or drugging. As bad as their life was upon entering recovery, things will be even worse by returning to that way of life. Nonetheless, that insanity will set in if you ignore the warning and stop doing the right things, start thinking about the “good” feeling and the fun of doing things you want to do. Your control of self is deadly.
Definition of insanity: Doing the same things that have not worked, using the same methods, expecting different results. “Keep doing what your doing and you’ll keep getting what your are getting.”
Rewind
Look where your way of doing things put you. Sitting in  jail cell, or at a recovery meeting may give you a sense of remorse, of gut felt sorrow for your past. Do not forget. Remember the pain you felt arriving into recovery. Having a good vivid memory of how you lived while in the depths of misery you chose, may save your future. Yet you cannot allow remorse to weigh you down and stunt your spiritual growth. By realizing Christ has freed you, and as you work the steps, those past failures will merely be warnings that keep you moving forward.
How do you feel right now? Remember because you will feel that way again.” AA saying
Hit Pause.
Think about recent actions. Are they good or bad? Are you moving toward sober living, or away from it? How are you viewing your past? I hope you aren’t playing the blame game by accusing your family from not teaching you to stay away from dope and booze. I hope you aren’t placing yourself in a dark place over past mistakes either.
All the days of the afflicted are evil, but he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast.” Prov.15:15
While you have the tape on pause, look where you are today, clean and sober. You should be overjoyed. Take a moment and thank God that you aren’t at the bar trying to get over last night’s drunk, or looking for that fix, not to get high, just to feel normal. Take the opportunity to think, when was my last meeting? Did I pray today?
FF
Don’t project into tomorrow, stay in today. That is the advice you hear in recovery groups. Good advice. You must plan anyhow. If you have to return to school, taking a new job, or getting ready to face a judge, you need to prepare. That means projecting ahead. More advice. Do this with your sponsor, or accountability partner. Don’t worry about these if you can help it, but do not take important matters with a grain of salt. The past proves we only lived for today and had no ambition, no goals, and the life we lived led to self gratification. So planning is important, looking into the future, but not to just look at tomorrow, and wondering how you can make through without using or boozing.
Stop
Don’t hit this button if you are moving forward. Hit it hard if you are complacent or thinking relapse. If you are practicing the principles of sober living and serving where God leads you, you can only see the beauty of life in serving and having the relationship to Jesus. Life can be lived well. In time, you may even smile at the past, no matter how terrible, because you know Who holds your future and beyond this life. Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

Level Up!

Everyone seems to want their life to get better. Maybe some are satisfied with status quo, they are happy right where they are and don’t want things to change. Moving up a level is the story for those determined to stay clean and sober, and should be for the followers of Christ. Change requires courage and sometimes getting out of the comfort zone, doing what we would rather not do. Surrender is what hurls us into the next level, but I see many have trouble understanding what surrender is. I surely have struggled with it. Recovery meetings are what God used for me to “get it,” and “give up.” Acceptance of what I had become, my inability to change myself, and realizing God would have to be the center of my universe, not me.

“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol- that our lives had become unmanageable.” Big Book of AA, pg.59

UP not DOWN
it’s hard to believe that someone God has relieved of addictions would complain about anything, and would do everything within their power to never return to that way of life, but they do forget, they often fall. It begins with the thoughts of how hum-drum or boring their life has become, and they lose their gratitude, failing to see the awe in life, the beauty of creation. This is the self-examining time that gets overlooked. Those who do look in the mirror when things are going south quickly, can take necessary steps to alter their direction. Staying in the rut of complacency is a relapse in motion. If they don’t see their lack of meetings, prayer, serving others, and gratitude, a feathers worth of trouble will knock them out of recovery and back on the barstool, or back to the dope-house, the racetrack, or whatever it is they are recovering from.

What Happened?
These bad behaviors and actions were decisions made without notice, the victim completely unaware they were in relapse long before they return to their vomit like a dog. These down-turns in attitude happen to everyone throughout our lifetimes. We need to be aware of even the slightest yielding to thoughts of boredom. This is going into enemy territory alone and unarmed, our own mind will think how nothing seems to go our way, nobody likes us, we don’t get to do anything, we don’t have what others have…a level down, then another. When these thoughts are formed into words and pour from the lips; then we are so far from recovery, moved away from God’s grace, and wondering where is He?

Motivation

Make the decision to level up! Shake yourself, pull yourself up by the bootstraps and get to the needed help before it’s too late. Don’t run from God, run to Him. Find yourself a place of solace and break open the Psalms, read them aloud. Worship through praise and thanksgiving for what you do have! If you live in an apartment and want to live in a house, thank God for that apartment, be willing to stay there if He wants you to. This is real surrender, understandable and workable. Ask God to put someone in your path that you can help, and get to church, or a meeting. The next level awaits you and I. Let’s go up.

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all!