Category Archives: Recovery

Spirituality is the Foundation for Addiction Recovery

6192689846_cac9a32fd6_zHaving been in addiction recovery since 1976, I have heard a lot of people comment on the spiritual “part” of AA. They generally say that they have a “problem” with the spiritual part. I always want to ask which part is the spiritual part. I believe that all 12 steps are spiritual and that we need a power greater than ourselves to help us to accept our need for change and growth.

1.  From Joshua Becker: “A Beginner’s Guide to Exploring Spirituality”:

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” —A.W. Tozer

When I was in college, I read the preceding quote from the theologian/philosopher A.W. Tozer. The substance was so profound I have never forgotten its message almost 15 years later. It continues to spring up again and again in my mind on a regular basis.

I realize spirituality can be a very touchy topic that arouses countless strong opinions, intellectual arguments, and far too many unspeakable emotional wounds. Nevertheless, I believe the quote above holds true. There is nothing more central to our lives than our understanding of spirituality. And it is a conversation we ought to engage in far more often than we do.

1. Respect those that have gone before. The quest to understand spirituality is as old as humanity itself. Billions have gone before and have spent countless hours seeking spirituality. Don‘t overlook their efforts. Consider their findings and their writings—even those outside the religion you have become accustomed to.

2. Your journey must be your own. You alone must be the decision-maker for your view of God. You should not blindly accept the teachings of another (even your closest mentor or parent). Your heart must ring true and your spirit must rejoice in your spirituality—or it is worthless.

3. Start right where you are. We all have special gifts of character: compassion, laughter, self-discipline, love, etc. Use them as your starting point. Are you facing a trial in life (disease, loss, rejection)? Use it as motivation to further pursue your understanding of spirituality. Lao-tzu once said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” He was right in every regard. Start your journey with whatever first step makes the most sense to you.

4. Ask God for help. By this I mean, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by making the request. If there is a God, He may answer your prayer. And if there is no God, the process of making the request will still work to help focus your senses and desire.

5. Practice, practice, practice. Like everything else in life, spiritual growth is mastered through practice. If you don’t find your answers after your first few steps, take some more in a different direction. It will require time, effort, and energy. But given its influence on our lives, it is always worth the effort in the end.

6. Don’t be afraid of unanswered questions. Although leaving questions unanswered may sound contrary to the goal of the pursuit, we should not be afraid of them. These unanswered questions will cause some to forever abandon the journey. And while our spirituality should make sense of our heart‘s deepest questions, it would seem unreasonable to believe our minds could successfully fathom all the mysteries of the universe.

7. Be wary of “everyone is right” thinking. If there is no God, there is no God. If there is a God, He is something specific. Personally, I am skeptical of the thinking that says God can change from one person to another—that philosophy crumbles under the weight of its own logic. God is who God is. And it‘s our responsibility to successfully find Him.

Again, I realize fully this journey is going to look different for every single one of us. Spirituality is a highly personal matter and will likely result in different outcomes. This is not a post that endorses any specific religion. It is simply a post of encouragement and a reminder this journey is important. (End of this excerpt.)

2.  Many of Bill Wilson’s (the co-founder of AA) early influences were by people who believed spirituality to be the foundation. Two of those people were Carl Jung and William James. I have included the thoughts of these two men below.

William James is considered the founder of psychology.

These articles about William James and AA show the influence James had on helping to mold the early addiction recovery ideas that Bill Wilson had.

The Religious Roots of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Twelve Steps

William James and Alcoholics Anonymous

History of Alcoholics Anonymous

Big Book Theology: “We Agnostics” and William James

The  Varieties of Religious Experience

Bill Wilson’s Letter to Dr. Carl Jung, Jan. 23, 1961

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Partners of Sex Addicts’ Blogs Learn to Work His/Her Own Program of Recovery

“When two codependents enter a relationship, they often overtly or covertly try to manipulate the partner to provide the love and approval needed to fill what John Bradshaw calls the “hole in the soul”.  Both partners attach themselves to the other for a sense of completeness, a strategy that stunts personal growth and development.  By surrendering responsibilty for our happiness to other people, we create power struggles, arguments, and ultimately broken promises, expectations, and hearts.  We can break out of the codependent trap….by working through the pain of our unmet childhood needs and by cultivating an inner life.”     Ronald S. Miller

1.  A Room of Mama’s Own; Why I Stay

“When my son was a baby, he used to cry all the time and his only comfort seemed to be breastfeeding. I’d be up every hour all night breastfeeding him, and before long, I was beyond exhausted. One night, Mark got up with me. “Go back to bed,” I said, “You have to work in the morning.” “So do you,” he replied, “and your job is taking care of our son, which is much more important than mine. Let me help, even if I just sit with you.” And I… Well, I did what any exhausted, frazzled, breastfeeding, new mother would do: I burst into tears. He got up with me every night after that: to change diapers or get me water or just doze next to me.”

“A few years later, when I found out about his sex addiction, I couldn’t believe how much he had lied and cheated through all of our years together. He seemed more like a monster than the good man I thought I knew. But when I stopped and held all the lies in a balance with his one simple act of love and tenderness for me, and for our son, I was able to look into the face of the abyss, and say, “This is a good man. It doesn’t matter what wrong he has done; it can’t hold up in the face of that proof of goodness and great love.”

“I know that Mark stood in the hospital room holding our son on the day of his birth and made him a great promise. He renewed the promise he made but couldn’t keep when we started dating, when we got engaged, when we got married. As he looked down at that fragile baby in his arms, he silently swore to himself and his son that things would really be different this time: he would change, he would never do those horrible things again, he would never bring hurt or pain into our family, he would protect us from himself. He couldn’t keep that promise: not a year, not a month, not a day. He is a good man and a strong man, and he meant well; he wanted passionately to keep that promise, but he didn’t know how.”

2.  Ettuhusband: “Glimpses of Me”(no longer online):

“I talked to a dear friend today who is going through a horrible time. She is understandably devastated, sad and scared and thinks she will probably be getting a divorce.”

“I wish I had the right thing to say to help her cope with her grief.”

“But I’m telling you: this girl is amazing. Just amazing. Smart, beautiful, accomplished in every way. (seriously, what is it about sex addicts that make them pick the most amazing women?!)”

“I think our talk was good for both of us, since by talking to her, I saw glimpses of old me by hearing her out. It was so strange to feel like I could understand what talking to me in the old days must have been like.”

“I remembered saying such similar (and valid) things: that I felt tainted, that I felt used. That I felt sexually abused and that no one would ever want me. As I heard her ask who would want her (poor baby), I also thought– my God, anyone. Anyone would. She’s really a total catch. And for the first time, I understood why people always leapt to assure me that I would find someone amazing. It always bothered me that people said that– like what– I’m not valuable enough on my own?”

“Why does everyone think a women is less full of inherent worth if she’s single?! (and this still bothers me, to a point.) However, I think I also get that unasked-for commentary on my marital status, too. Because, wow, here’s this incredible woman asking how anyone would ever want her, when the truth is, the only person in that relationship who shouldn’t be wanted by anyone again is the sex addict. He’s tainted– she’s not.”

3. Discoveringrecovering: “Pound Puppy”

“So, my partner is now on involuntary psychiatric hospitalization number 2, along with 2 partial hospitalizations- 1 “successfully” completed and one not, all since mid November. When I can separate myself and my feelings from all this, it’s interesting to see her fight with herself. She wants help and she doesn’t. She wants somebody to take care of her and she resents being controlled. She wants someone to keep her safe, and she wants to push limits of the people whom she’s asked to do so.”

“When I can look at the behavior from a place of healthy detachment, some of her behavior is really funny. She actually told the nurse last night not to put a needle in her hand because that would hurt and not to put a bandage on her arm after they took blood there because it would leave a bruise. That might make sense if it weren’t for the fact that she was there because she couldn’t contract to keep herself safe from significantly more pain and resulting in significantly more physical evidence.”

“That’s what’s going on with her.”

“As for me, I’m pretty pleased with my commitment to myself to maintain my balance. I left her at the emergency room and went to my naranon meeting. Before I went back to the ER, I treated myself to a nice dinner and coffee. I’m enjoying having space. I’m doing my work without too many intrusive thoughts.”

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