Having Your Own Recovery Program is the Only Survival

15822504771_6817977871_oAddiction changes everyone. So, we each need our own program of recovery, separate and unique from all others. I scan over 300 blogs in my various RSS readers so I come across amny good blog posts. Today I found a great validation to having your own program.

From Codependent Life by Sharon W: “It was in recovery that I learned how to love myself enough to not to allow his disease to destroy me.“:

At first I was in denial. I made all sorts of excuses for the problems in my marriage, for my alcoholics drinking and for my own behavior. But it was pride that held me a prisoner to the insanity of my day to day life. I thought if I could just control my alcoholic then no one would know. My alcoholic and I played these cat and mouse games trying to outwit each other. Thus began the insidious spiral of self-destruction for both my alcoholic and myself.

Even though we were divorced, I loved my first husband until the day he died. But the evil of his disease changed me, it changed him, and it changed the love we shared. I have no doubt in my mind that without this program I would have hated him. It was only through recovery that I learned how to have compassion for his struggle; it was through recovery that I learned how to separate the disease from the man – which helped me to hate the disease but not hate the man. It was in recovery that I learned how to love myself enough to not to allow his disease to destroy me. Which in my case meant that I had to walk away.

I don’t want to imply that I found peace and happiness in my life because I divorced my alcoholic. That is not how it happened for me. I found peace and great measures of happiness while I was living in the throws of an alcoholic marriage. Sure there was hurt and pain. It is extremely painful to watch someone else self-destruct knowing that there is not a darn thing you can do about it. Peace for me came because I accepted that alcoholism was an illness that I did not cause it. Nope! It had nothing whatsoever to do with me and I had no control over his drinking. Just knowing and believing those two things took a huge burden of guilt off of me. Don’t get me wrong, I would have loved to had the power to save him from self-destruction but I just did not have that power. Realizing those two things stopped me from doing a lot of crazy stuff trying to out maneuver him.

The reason I said I had great measures of happiness, and not simply saying I found happiness, is because I live in the real world. Life has ups and downs whether we have an alcoholic in our life or not. There is good and bad in the world and we don’t always have control over the things that happen to us. There are times when I have had to hurt through some of the things that happened to me. I don’t like it, I can’t stop or change it but I do have to live through it jus the same. Such is life.

After my divorce I remarried. I married a man that had 3 sons and had custody of them. I had 3 daughters – we called them the bratty bunch. All six of our kids had issues and that doesn’t even include what we went through getting them through their teenage years. Believe me it was hard. Many times they tried to divide and conquer us.

I have no doubt in my mind that if I had not learned to love and respect myself while I was married to my alcoholic there is no way that my second marriage could have survived the chaos that blending 6 kids created. My husband says that I was the glue that held us all together – in a way he’s right. But the real truth is that it was the tools of my program that taught me how to live One Day At A Time, taught me to look at my motive, taught me to do the right thing for the right reason and not because I was afraid of not be liked and accepted or some other “wrong” reason. It taught me how to detach with love over things I have no control over.

I was broken before I met my alcoholic. In many ways I will always be grateful for marrying and alcoholic because it brought me to my recovery program. It was through my program that I developed the tools to live my life, regardless of the problems I might am facing, in a healthy way.

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What Long-Term Treatment Feels Like

2234352462_cd33a442a5_zI have been reading Art Mowle for awhile now and his experience with long-term treatment. I believe his story can help others who have experienced relapses and/or several treatment experiences.

From Art Mowle’s blog, Drinking for a Lifetime: “Surviving, the Early Days“:

In my treatment center (3D), there were no cameras hidden in the trees. The bushes were just bushes. There were no armed guards. Mother Liz (Ret) did watch us from the nurses’ station and no one was allowed to go anywhere alone. There were no steel doors that led in and out of the place that required remote sensors to open. And there were no 30-foot walls surrounding the smoking porch. Yet, my first week there, I was planning my escape. I told my daughter I’d be out in 2-3 days. I was there two years.

In truth it wouldn’t have been all that hard to escape. No one would stop you. Staying was up to you. The nurses weren’t that great at keeping track of where everyone was all the time and the burliest security guards was Mother Liz (Ret) whom would ensure you signed out, but never restricted me from leaving. As I said, there were no locks.

No, it was clear from the beginning that we were not held in by guards or by fences, really, but by our own alcohol soaked minds.

Most of the time, of course, we didn’t think about any of this. We were busy. We were awakened before 6:00 AM for morning vital signs. No one ever figured out why they banged on our doors so early, it wasn’t like we had anywhere to go and our final group ended at dinner. In between, there was reading and journal writing and doctors’ rounds and classes to teach us good sober habits. Rarely, a few times a week maybe, we were taken outside in the free world, for a miserable walk in the “crack” neighborhood and the blazing Florida sun, all against our wishes. Sometimes on Saturday nights we ordered in pizza, if any of us had money. So was early life at 3D.

Turns out “feelings” can keep you pretty occupied, too. Physically each of us was feeling either lousy or terrific, depending on the stage of detoxification we were experiencing. In addition to that kind of feeling we were dealing with emotions: dark, scary ones that hid around corners and under beds, teeth bared and claws unsheathed. Our counselors cheerfully nodded, pleased with our “progress,” while we shook and moaned and raged and sobbed.

The last thing any of us felt was grateful to be sober. We might experience a twinge of gladness here and there because someone smiled at us for the first time in forever or because we had “three hots and a cot,” as they say, but by and large we were so ambushed by “feelings” that the last thing anyone could imagine was staying that way. People do this, “feel”, on purpose?

Someone get me a drink.

Because that, having a drink, would do the trick, this much we each knew full well. We’d each lived forever; it felt like, in our own airless prisons, trapped inside our heads with those dedicated jailers, Mr. Pain and Sgt. Fear. Never mind that we’d built the prisons ourselves, they’d been constructed under duress, like the guy in the movie who is forced to dig his own grave. Don’t bother asking why he does that if they’re going to kill him anyway; in that kind of situation you don’t think rationally.

So that, in case you were curious, is really the hardest first step toward sobriety. Not putting down the drink or asking for help or admitting you have a problem. After all, haven’t we all done those things, over and over and over, perhaps? No, the hardest first step is to stare down those prison walls, the ones you’ve built yourself, and knowing, accepting really, because that’s all that will do it. It is accepting that no one can destroy these walls but their architect, namely you.

It is knowing that you’re going to have to dig your way out with your bare hands, facing whatever demons your newly exposed brain wants to throw at you. And it is knowing that in doing so you’ll bleed and weep and stumble for quite a long time.

And it is accepting that you can do this because if you do not, if you cannot do this, there is no escape, no pardon, no other way out.

Such is life for an addict.

God Bless,  Art

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