Monday, 6 June 2011

How am I coping?

I have been asked quite a lot recently how I am coping with a particular difficult situation in my life and my answer has become increasing clear the more I am asked to share about it with those who care about me.  This particular set of circumstances as with every difficulty in my life since getting in to recovery I deal with by going contrary to my natural desires. My reactions of old would have been to lash out defend, justify rationalise etc, especially if I had done something wrong. These are all well know behaviour traits of an someone suffering from addiction or "isms" and even traits of the unwell “addict” who is abstinent.

So how have I coped ? Well the same way I cope with everything in my life, using the three Ps….. The People, The power and The Programme. The people of course comfort me and those who are in fellowship with me help me to use the 12 step programme”. (The Power is a god of my understanding).

I am blessed with the having experience of practicing the inventory process of step 4 and 5 for almost 14 years now, these steps like all of the other 10 steps in my programme deflate my ego. My practice tells me that when it comes to ego deflation, few steps are harder to take than step Five. But scarcely any Step is more necessary for long-time sobriety and peace of mind than this one.

It has also been my experience of observing folks who balk at these steps  “step 4 out the door” and or holding back on Step Five some people are unable to stay sober at all and others relapse periodically until they really (clean house step 4 & 5).

It has also been my experience to have watched people with many years clean use/relapse as a result of not doing these two steps with the thoroughness and fearlessness our sponsors beg us to take them with (the only time you will see a person in recovery beg by the way).
Always before the relapse they displayed certain behaviours, i.e. being irritable, anxious, full of remorse or depressed. I don’t mean clinical depression that’s something different altogether but the type of depression that comes from being completely self absorbed. 

Those who are lucky enough to get back to meetings always talk about similar themes ie how they were unconsciously seeking relief from this irritability, anxiety, remorse, depression by acting out in lots of different ways. Buying bigger and better stuff, having more of something, things like sex money power, etc and especially that they would be too busy taking everyone else’s inventory (step 4) to take their own, and they would end up accusing even their best friends and allies of the very character defects they themselves were trying to conceal.  The one thing they all had in common is that they always discovered that relief never came by confessing the sins of other people. Everybody had to confess his own.

Step 5 also gave me the gift of forgiveness and no matter how deeply we felt people had wronged us. By taking this “moral” inventory I was completely persuaded that forgiveness was not only desirable, but absolutely essential if I wanted any sort of peace of mind and to live my life free of resentments that influenced everything from my beliefs to my values. I also learned real  humility--a word often misunderstood which to me  amounts to a clear recognition of what and who I really am, followed by sincere attempt to become what I can be and to reach to fulfil my potential as a human being.

My first practical experience and understanding is recognition of my deficiencies, and I have many of course, I am a deeply flawed human being but what these two steps gave me is a clear sight of what my deficiencies are.

When I took that first inventory nearly 14 years ago now it came as quite a surprise that I lacked honesty and tolerance, that I was beset at times by attacks of self-pity or delusions of personal grandeur, that my victim status ultimately excluded me from taking responsibility for my life. Yes this was a humiliating experience, but it didn't necessarily mean I had much actual humility. It wasn’t until I realised something could be done about these deficiencies by practicing more realism and therefore more honesty about myself were the great gains I received / receive while practicing step 5.

It was amazing to see how much trouble self-delusion had been causing me, that for a lot of my life I had more or less fooled myself this was paradoxically the beginning of a great freedom for me.

So how now can I be sure I’m not still self-deceived? Because I am rarely  bothered by fear, self-pity and hurt feelings, although I still have self doubt in that when I do take inventory I have to be sure that I am appraising myself fairly (in much of my original step 4 I took responsibility for many harms that were not my own doing. (A double winner? Hi to any al anons reading this ;)

I was taught that too much guilt and remorse might cause me to dramatise and exaggerate my shortcomings. Or anger and hurt pride might be the smoke screen under which I was hiding some of my defects, while I blamed others for them, (you know if I am pointing the finger there are three fingers pointing back at me.)

This self appraisal, and the admission of my defects based on that rigorous self inventory process isn’t enough though I still have to have outside help if I am to continually admit the truth about myself, for me I use The power (a god of my understanding) and another human being who knows my defects very well, because what comes to me as insight may well be nothing of the sort and only a garbled nonsense by my own rationalization and wishful thinking. 

I have found that It is only by continuing to discuss myself honestly, holding back nothing, being willing to take advice and accept direction can I get a remain on the road of straight thinking, solid honesty, and genuine humility and when I am troubled or need to make a life changing decision I have over the last 14 years been taught to always check in with friends or my spiritual advisors, but the final word always lies within.

By practicing these two steps with the fearlessness and thoroughness that was begged of me, a healing tranquillity remains with me through times of stress and even when fear creeps in I know there is an never-ending source of that tranquilly available if I can retune in to the steps that precede 4&5 and I am reset on the road of happy destiny trudging along the road towards full and meaningful sobriety.

Trudge trudge. 


louis said...

I had to leave a comment here. What you wrote really left something with me.

I at first thought about those defects of character I found through step 4 & 5 as a bad thing... Now I see them as only good.

You mention: Those who are lucky enough to get back to meetings always talk about similar themes ie how they were unconsciously seeking relief from this irritability, anxiety, remorse, depression by acting out in lots of different ways. Buying bigger and better stuff, having more of something, things like sex money power, etc and especially that they would be too busy taking everyone else’s inventory (step 4) to take their own, and they would end up accusing even their best friends and allies of the very character defects they themselves were trying to conceal.

I so get this. The times I have wanted to use have always been times when I blamed people places and things for what was going on with me.
Now though... when I have feelings of wanting to use... those defects come and slap me in the face (just incase I try to ignore them :o))

I see that it is nothing to do with around me... but to do with within me.
I am not saying this as though I need to beat myself up over it. What I need to do is get honest about what it is I need and accept it.

I have done this more and more recently and those times of wanting to use have become less and also when I do have them... they no way near have the same sort of power over me as they used to.

I have received such freedom from this programme and all it took was honesty, openmindedness and willingness.

I wish you well Trudging


tim1leg said...

Thank Louis, not easy this trudging malarkey but hey, the alternative SUCKS! Thanks for your support! x

Anonymous said...

yes keep on trudging my friend.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh I notice you dont rationlise justify or defend here, (or anywhere else for that matter).

In my book, this very fact tells me that you have done nothing wrong despite what others say you did or what I have heard.
A big part of my own recovery has been to seek councel also and now that I am further along the road my own councel increasingly becomes more reliable, but i check it out anyway.

I really feel for what you have been through this last few months and experienced something similar only last year, like you I remained true to myself and behaved in an honorouble manner which again served me well in building my self esteem and professional reputation despite others intentions.

I am however occasionally still picking up some of the peices of last years "event", last week in a completly different country to where I work, a man i had never met said oh your the guy that said "blah blah blah" to which I replied,

Oh thats interesting never heard that version before!

Cut a long story short we shared a coffee and several things fell into place for this VIP? and the upshot is he and a few others could have saved themselves alot of work.

It will all come out in the wash Ann Marie as I am sure you know.

Good luck and god speed you in all that you do Ann Marie and keep on trudging.


tim1leg said...

Thanks anon & B yep I'm sure there will be fall out for quite some time but I'm also sure all is exactly as its meant to be, I know I cant control any of it. Thanks alot for your support too x

Anonymous said...

Hello Annemarie, I have been watching and wondering for the last few months about all that important statement business and the UKRF2 as you have now become know in some circles.

I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what the hell you were all up too. Now I have went between thinking oh !oh! no smoke without fire (thinking you and Alistair must have done something more than ask a simple question) to (it really appears as if you guys are being scape goated or abused!)

But even then, if there were details omitted or untruths told I really couldn’t for the life of me see why the author would so blatantly attack both your characters, in this way leaving himself so open to the very things he accuses you both of! but I think I know why now.

Now Im not the sharpest tool in the box and actually you may have though of this already, but my take on it is, that the point of the important statement and no doubt the (fall out) could purely be to discredit you both.

Now what would be the point in that, its not as if you guys have any real power as individuals, infact Annemarie I know your main contribution to the site was to support others and you did that with patience and diligence over the years you were involved and Alistair your contribution as well as being supportive to individuals who were struggling was more exploratory and thoughtful around implications of policy practice etc. But to be fair neither of you were in any way a big cheese or a shining light, so why is it important to attack and discredit and you in this way!

Two words


They and others want it!

It will be interesting to see the lengths they go to try and get it!

Good luck!

Eddie 365

tim1leg said...

Cheers eddie, maybe ! but maybe not I dont know. I hope it does all come out in the wash SOON!

FISH said...

I'm in one of those priceless moments we spiritual fellows see as growth right now. Yet to the layman "I'm in a whole heap of pain trying to cope the best I can". I think it's incredible that we can turn that victim mentality around to see how our defects can be our guiding light to growth. If I was living the current situation I find myself in only 3 years ago; I'd of wholeheartedly agreed with the rest of Joe Public in defining it as drastic and that my feelings of pain and anger would rightly justify me taking 'head on' action into a can (or 2 or 3 or...) of Strongbow Super.

What I have today though is precious; and although my "coping" skills do not always come very easily at times, some good solid spiritual advisers are only more than happy to light the path ahead for me till my own light burns again. Sometimes I just can't see the wood for the trees and this was one of those occasions because I was too close to it with my partner. I have (I'd like to put that as past tense really but that's not the way it is right now!) major resentments around her failing health, which I won't go into here. SO, thanks for the blog, it struck such a chord with me reading this today. Blessings be xxxx

tim1leg said...

Thanks Fish grateful to be of service x

Mama Westray said...

I know it is nearly a year later, but this writing about the 4th and 5th really caught my attention. Thank you sister trudger

tim1leg said...

Your welcome Mama xxxx keep the faith x