Thursday, August 6, 2015

Is commitment the secret to recovery?

I hear the word commitment in the recovery rooms a lot.  In OA its “Committed to my abstinence” in AA it’s “committed to sobriety” but is that the answer? Is it even helpful?

Commitment (noun):
1: an act of committing to a charge or trust
2 a :  an agreement or pledge to do something in the future
b :  something pledged
c :  the state or an instance of being obligated or emotionally impelled

What is the primary motivator in the above definitions?  An exercise in self-will.

Commitment appears 4 times in Alcoholics Anonymous. The first is in Bill’s Story, talking about how Ebby Thatcher avoided commitment to an asylum (page 9). In more about Alcoholics it appears 2 more times (Pages 31 and 36), both times in the context of going to an insane asylum as the only alternative to doing the steps to become recovered. Finally in “To Wives”, if health is deteriorated enough it may be necessary for health’s sale to be committed to a hospital. The very idea of making a commitment to the process is foreign to what is shown us in Alcoholics Anonymous. 

So why is it we talk about “commitment” as part of the solution?

Self-will, it’s that simple.  The very cause of our disease, “self will run riot,” forces us to want to maintain control and “be committed” to our recovery. Does it make sense to use the very practice that is a root cause of our disease? Does shooting up to quit drugs make sense? Drinking booze to stay sober?

It seems to me that the problem lies in a use of language.  In “How It Works” the phrase “will not completely give themselves to this simple program” seems to get translated as “Committing” to the program. Giving one’s self is not an act of self-will, it is an act of desperation or surrender.  Our reliance on “Commitment to” Sobriety/Abstinence/Clean is simply our attempt to be in charge.  

One thing in all of the recovery stories in Alcoholics Anonymous are these people were desperate.  The choice was literally get recovered or be put in an asylum or die. I don’t hear that desperation in the rooms anymore.  I hear slogans like “easy does it” or “let go and let God,” all nice sayings, but not descriptive of the desperation one needs to have coming in to these rooms. Is it a matter of life and death or a convenient choice? I want to be recovered because even at 450 pounds now, I don’t want to die. I can’t hang out at 450 and say “this is where God wants me” because that is not God talking, its Gregor’s frightened ego trying to get me to give up.

People come to the rooms and look for the “trick” to stay sober.  There isn’t one. Being recovered is a status that occurs by working through all of the steps, completing the steps, not just reading them. If you really have come to the understanding that you are “powerless over (insert addiction here)” you realize there is no self-will that can fix you. Postpone the inevitable maybe, but to be recovered is more than that to me. It means I have to move forward.  The only option to recovery is not inside myself. It is through that external Force.

True recovery is a gift of your Higher Power.  It is the removal of the obsession from your disease. It isn’t an act of commitment or will. It is the results of getting out of yourself, that lack of selfish behavior.  The best model to be recovered from addiction is the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous.  In 1939 it predicted discoveries in addiction that took 50 years to confirm. The “Ohio” group, where Doctor Bob lived, indicated there was a 90% recovery rate.  Now a days, relapse is expected.  And the program is changing to be a relapse recovery, not relapse prevention.

So the question is: Is the idea of falling back in to my addiction over and over acceptable to me?

For me the answer is no.  I will be celebrating a 2 year sobriety from my food addiction in October (2015) I look forward to celebrating a 25 year food sobriety someday, not because “I can do it” but because I know I can’t. I don’t have the power to resist a 6000 calorie a day eating addiction.  I am not capable of controlling what I eat.  God has let me loose the obsession with my food.  I now enjoy what I eat and I eat a reasonable amount because   food is no longer my solution.  Food is simply something I need to do.  I can now deal with my trials like a regular person.  I’m not perfect so I’m still learning the tools to live with action instead of eating.  Progress, not perfection.

Do you think you can be the first person to self-will your recovery and make it last or is it that constantly getting back on the wagon is just the way it is?

Giving yourself over to this program, is not a commitment, it’s a surrender that makes the rest of the program possible.  It’s not self-will but honesty that makes that possible. 

Gregor - Back from the brink! From there and back again. A spiritual Hobbits journey.

Monday, July 13, 2015

And Acceptance is the Answer to All My Problems?

The title is a quote from Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), page 417 (AA 4th edition).  I’ve often heard in meeting how this is a favorite quote. As with most things, it is a step in the right direction.  The story “Acceptance is the answer” starts on page 406 (AA 4th edition).  How many have read all of it? That story makes it clear that "acceptance" the first step to the answer. My experience has been people flipping to “417” and pointing to it like some kind of mantra.  It’s not something to say, or feel or think, it is something I do!  Acceptance is not a condition, it’s a decision.  But just like “going over the steps” is not the solution, doing the steps, making each decision and doing each action with commitment and honesty is the route to recovery.

I’m a relative newcomer to Overeaters Anonymous.  My first meeting was June 17th, 2013.  But in this short time, I’ve found a way of living that has improved my life to areas never even considered., as well as helping me continue to loose over a hundred pounds and counting (the "and counting" is the most important to me). It’s all because I’m learning to “accept the things I can not change.” More of my misery was tied to the things I can’t change than I ever thought. I considered myself an open and “accepting” fellow.  But about what really mattered, and even stuff that didn't,  I was a quiet tyrant.

I’ve heard folks say they “just can’t accept that” about some aspect of the world.  What that really means is, if they can’t change it, they refuse to decide to be peaceful with the truth, incorporate its existence into their actions. We have all accepted things in our life that are hard fast rules we can’t change.  What you may ask?  How about the idea that a collection of symbols (some 108 characters) on a page have a specific meaning?  The idea that a collection of letters and symbols, arranged and spaced in a certain way, have a linguistic, as well as a conceptual equivalent? At some point in your life you accepted that, made the decision to affirm as fact, that these symbols you now are looking at form words.  Nobody gets upset by the idea that “their personal symbols” were not adopted some 6000 years ago.  Everybody recognizes that the symbols, possibly language specific, mean something.    Another thing you’ve accepted is gravity.  Again, at some point in your life (while learning to walk maybe?), you decided that gravity existed, even though you can’t see it, you can only feel its effects.  It does not upset you that it occurs.  You should be grateful for its inconvenient pull, without it we couldn’t breathe, fly or put things on the table.

So you have accepted certain truths, to be self-evident. So what is our problem with accepting the idea that we are compulsive about certain things? Drugs, food, weight/body image, booze, spending or whatever. Acceptance is only the answer if you understand that is the start.  You see it’s one thing to accept that I’m a compulsive eater, it is another to accept, make the decision based on experience, that I am powerless over food. If I can’t make that decision, I can never be ready to complete the 2nd step.  “Came to believe that a Power, greater than ourselves, could restore us to sanity.”

Yet again again there is a decision to be made, actually a few:

  1. Is this it?  Am I all there is, everything about this is an accident, a freak of happenstance that came to being because some molecule blew it’s nose at just the right time?  Or is the fact that nature itself has laws it must follow, that everything has a certain order to it, prove that that “something” is keeping it in order? Intelligent or not, there is obviously a force that keeps the universe going. 
  2. That Power is greater than what I can have.
  3. I am currently insane, and I need to be restored to sanity. 

If you don’t make any one of those decisions, you are not in position to make the next decision: “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” This is not something you think about, nor feel, neither do you hope for it, it is a decision you make. Many of the issues with recovery today stem from the inability of people to make a decision.   A real decision is something you don’t rush into, you can’t just say yes, and call that a decision.  “Yes” is an answer.  The decision comes when you realize the only way you will ever be able to stop whatever you are addicted to came not from your actions: not taking the first - bite, purge, drink, toke, and smoke or placing that first bet. But from your decision to allow something, like gravity, you can’t see it, touch it or feel it, only its effects, guide you away from those actions.  That is the difference for me between being “in recovery,” always worrying about that next compulsive action, and “being recovered.”  Because the later means I don’t have to worry about it.  It is resolved.  Since I know, because I made the decision that I truly am powerless over food, my Higher Power handles all of that.  All I have to do is look at what is available to eat and make the right choices.  I even ask His guidance for that. So I never have to fret when family members have foods at home that I will binge on, because I don’t have to worry about that any more.  I made the decision (on a daily basis) to turn my will and my life over to that Higher Power.

Am I perfect? Ha no! I am making progress. And progress, not perfection, is the journey. Self-will will rear it’s selfish and insane head in everybody’s life, whether you’re a compulsive anything or not. But I can make the decision “accept the things I cannot change” and I can ask for the courage to change the things I can.  Most importantly I seek the wisdom to know the difference.  If I can determine what I need to accept (Can’t change) and need to “do” I will continued to be a gratefully recovered average human.

Gregor - Back from the brink! From there and back again. A spiritual Hobbits journey.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Quit telling me it's about religion!

It's not about Islam!

I keep hearing people try to blame the middle east on religion, lack of tolerance, economics and a myriad of other issues.  Am I the only one who does not care what the "cause" is?  Am I the only one that looks at history and sees that tyranny under any form must be destroyed before a nation is rebuilt?

What should we be at war with?

I am not a fan of President Obama. If that as a shock to anybody, well I'm sorry if your heart stopped. Be papered for another shock! I agree with Obama  that we ain't at war with Islam. As a Christian I am not at war with anybody's beliefs, yet with a clear moral imperative I can be at war with evil. As an American I can denounce evil incarnate.  If that shows up as beheadings, immolations or selling children and women into slavery, then yes I know I should fight that evil.

Because of my respect and love of the Constitution of the United States of America, I have no right to tell people what they should or should not believe.  I do have every right, no responsibility, to protect the rights of everybody.  We are unique as a country because our rights are not derived at the pleasure of our government.  Our government’s purpose is to protect the rights of the people (NOTE: I did not say "Americans") whose rights are given them by their "Creator." The idea being that because they are a sentient human, they have certain "inalienable rights, among these are the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." (US Declaration of Independence, 1776). It is not relevant if you believe in an all-powerful Spirit of the Universe, the Great Pumpkin, a chain of natural events leading to life, or God.  Your rights are established by natural law.

Our President and the media (including you Sean Hannity et al) have it wrong, Islam is not the problem, ISIS and it's like minded fellowships, who may claim Islam if they want, are the problem. Not because they are Muslim, but because their behavior is evil and unacceptable on this planet.  Western society matured as a culture and put away the bruit force tactics of the dark ages. I do not rail against Islam, I raise my fist against the actions taken under the guise of a religious imperative to do these heinous actions. I don't care what their religious belief is, I care that 35 Muslims were burned to death, that 21 Christians were beheaded, that the going rate for a 40+ year old woman in Syria is about $43 US to own her as a slave and that mass-graves have been found with obvious organ harvesting having been committed. It matters not that the perpetrators are Islamic or Christian or Buddhist radicals.  They are evil.  We are at war, not with their ideals, but with THIER actions. It is the duty of civilization to stop this barbarism!

So stop telling me that I need to be at war with a theology.

Appeasement is not an option:

In no time in history has appeasement worked against evil. Only overwhelming force can conquer overwhelming evil. In the greatest speech never given, George C Scott (as General Patton in the movie "Patton") made a point that would have been valid in any time in History: "Now, I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country." ISIS Claims to be a country, they hold territory. I suggest we show them enough respect to destroy them for their actions.

War is a horrible undertaking.  It ought not be entered into lightly. But when the cause is morally correct, it should be prosecuted fully and completely.  No enemy will lay down their hideous behavior without motivation.  If we do not provide that motivation, they will never stop.
In World War II we participated with other nations to defeat 3 enemies.  We did not stop until the enimies themselves said enough. After their unconditional surrender we, the world, helped them rebuild.  We helped them develop economies that made the whole world a better place.

If you want to rescue the Middle East, using whatever force necessary to motivate the evil doers to set aside, not their guns, but their evil behavior, we can then work with them to establish economies that will benefit everybody. Talking about economic help before the total defeat of the enemy is insane.

To those who look to more intellectual bent, failure to destroy the enemies of cooperation and civility will result in a societal de-evolution.  It is a natural condition that those who are more flexible, stronger and willing to cooperate will thrive.  If we as a society choose not to destroy what is truly barbaric by any reasonable standard, the only possible result is self-destruction. When the peaceful refuse to stand up to oppression, the result is tyranny.

It is a matter of history that the immoral and violent minority will oppress the passive majority. It was true during the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades and WWII. Why do we think anything will be different now?

Our president makes derogatory remarks about Christianity regarding things that happens during the Crusades.  Forgetting not only the that Crusades were in response to hostile actions by a Caliphate, but also that society has come a long way since then, and that type of behavior is no longer tolerated. Unlike the current leadership of ISIS and al Qaeda who obviously think such barbaric actions are righteous.

Talking has never stopped a bully, and we can't run from this, September 11 proves they will come here. So we can fight and destroy them in their sandbox our ours. Remember they declared war on us, continued failure to actually respond with the full force of these United States is simply surrender to their tyranny.  And that can only lead to your oppression - and based on results, more beheadings and immolations.

Gregor - Back from the brink! From there and back again. A spiritual Hobbits journey.