Coming Into Recovery

There were times in our lives
when we knew we were touched by an unseen hand,
when we knew we were saved by something beyond ourselves,
when we recognized a force greater than ourselves
that had us in its loving embrace.

There were times when we were spared tragedies,
consequences, or what we thought were our just rewards,
and then there were times
when we were just grateful to be alive.

There were those times
when we realized we had been given a gift,
or a purpose to live by.

There were those times
when we learned to be quiet,
when we learned to be still,
when we surrendered
when we asked for help,
when we prayed for guidance.

And finally there were the times
when we walked away from our old lives and into recovery…
where we found friendship, faith, hope, and support,
where we found unconditional love, understanding and acceptance,
where we truly have another chance.

Lori Crockett

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The Spirituality of Addiction by Maria Mooney

This is an article originally published in 2012, by Maria Mooney. With her permission I am posting it again because it deserves another reading. She discusses the connection between addiction and spirituality so well. Her bio is posted below her article. Thank you Maria, for your wonderful insights.

The Spirituality of Addiction

With the profoundly sad and untimely death of several high profile celebrities recently flooding the media, addiction has been on the minds of many. I live and work in the world of the social sciences, and my focus is on understanding human behavior. Anyone who knows anything about addiction of any kind (drugs, alcohol, food, sex, shopping, etc.) understands, through current research, that it is an extremely complex, multi-factorial, progressive, and chronic brain disease by marked changes and malfunctions in brain chemistry and triggered and affected by biological and environmental factors. But what if, without discounting the disease model and other scientifically based and supported models of addiction but rather adding to them, we look at addiction through a spiritual lens? What would we see?
Spirituality can be defined in numerous ways but it largely refers to a belief in a power governing the universe that is greater than oneself, the sense of interconnectedness with all living beings, and the quest for self-knowledge, meaning, and purpose in one’s life. When an individual uses his/her substance of choice, the usual outcome is a detachment and disconnection from the present moment, uncomfortable feelings that the individual seeks to avoid through self-medication, and ultimately, the self. Addiction is a disease of isolation, and as the individual sinks deeper and deeper into the disease, he/she becomes more isolated from others and oneself as deeply rooted feelings of inner insufficiency and not being “enough” create the overwhelming need to use.
A lack of connection to authentic self, important others, a higher power, and the larger community can each contribute to feelings of isolation and emptiness, low self-worth, and a pervasive sense of unhappiness that can contribute to and/or perpetuate addictive behaviors. Being of service is a profound way that recovering individuals often give back and regain a sense of self-worth and purpose as they work toward maintaining long-term sobriety. This suggests that aspects of spirituality, including healthy interpersonal relationships and feeling deeply connected to others in profound ways, contribute to overall feelings of health, well-being, and meaning in one’s life.
If we can connect to who we really are and face the dark parts of ourselves that we invest so much energy into repressing, we would have the opportunity to shine a light onto our shadow selves, those dark corners of our minds where we store trauma and mad ideas, and experience them for what they are in the moment without judgment or denial. The disease of addiction is so complex, and long-term, interdisciplinary professional help is most often needed to confront and heal from past traumas and maintain abstinence and sobriety. I have a profound respect and admiration for those individuals who are committed to putting in the daily work that is often required to maintain sobriety, and I have a deep compassion for those individuals who are currently struggling with the disease of addiction.
No amount of wealth, beauty, fame, power, knowledge, achievement or success can replace the satisfaction and fulfillment that exist when we feel connected to something greater than us. A regular spiritual practice allows us to find meaning and purpose in our lives as we travel down the sometimes windy and bumpy road we call “life” and can be a powerful tool in recovery from any condition. Feelings of contentment, peace, joy, and love replace feelings of fear, unhappiness, anxiety, and discontent as one connects deeply with oneself and with others. As the mental chatter begins to cease and one feels centered in and connected to the present moment, however uncomfortable, true healing can begin.
Published February 26, 2012 at 3:35 AM

About Maria Mooney
Maria Mooney, MSW, LSW, (prefontaine44.blogspot.com) is a licensed social worker, high raw vegan blogger diagnosed with and healing from a progressive neurological disease, RSD/CRPS. She enjoys reading, writing, yoga, the sport of long distance running, spending time in nature, and being with her loved ones, especially her Goldendoodle, Shorter. You can find her on Twitter @HappyHealing44 and on Facebook at facebook.com/prefontaine44.

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Good Advice for Recovery

Some sayings I’ve  heard in the rooms and found helpful…

The Bible says, “And it shall come to pass.” Not, “And it shall come to stay.”
Expect nothing. Blame no one. Do something.
A problem shared is a problem halved.
The most important part of enlightenment is lighten up.
God does for us what we can’t do for ourselves.
If you’re thinking about committing suicide, wait five years.
Otherwise, you will have killed the wrong person.
The only dumb question is the one not asked.
Live in the solution, not the problem.
Prayers are us calling God, intuition is when He answers.
Pain is the touchstone of growth.
When the pain is of no more value, the healing is instantaneous.
You are in the perfect relationship because it requires the one thing you are incapable of giving.
When you are able to give it, you will grow.
Ask yourself, “What would God do in this situation?”
Don’t drink, clean house and help another alcoholic.
No God. No Peace. Know God. Know Peace.
In order to forgive someone, we must first forgive ourselves.
The things I used to do that don’t work anymore usually cause me pain, either physical or emotional.
The shortest prayers are, “Thank You” and “Help”.
Difficulties are God’s errands.

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The Needle and the Damage Done

Neil Young said it so well…

I’m posting this today for the many we have lost to this vicious disease… May you travel on in peace… Lori C.

I caught you knockin’
at my cellar door
I love you, baby,
can I have some more
Ooh, ooh, the damage done.

I hit the city and
I lost my band
I watched the needle
take another man
Gone, gone, the damage done.

I sing the song
because I love the man
I know that some
of you don’t understand
Milk-blood
to keep from running out.

I’ve seen the needle
and the damage done
A little part of it in everyone
But every junkie’s
like a settin’ sun.

Neil Young

released Feb. 1, 1972

 

 

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NA’s Just for Today, adapted for a wider recovery audience

I have found a short list of affirmations from pages 4 and 5 of the NA White Booklet, Narcotics Anonymous, (copyright 1976, 1983, 1986 by Narcotics Anonymous World Services, Inc.) to be a wonderful daily affirmation for recovery, and have adapted it for my own use, adding more statements I felt were pertinent to my recovery from alcoholism and omitting a few specific terms in order to make it more accessible to a wider recovery audience. I believe in giving credit where it is due; therefore, I have italicized the original words within this new piece. I believe its message, my additions and omissions make this piece extend beyond the range of NA to a wider recovery audience.
I believe we are all in this together and whatever fellowship, recovery program, or therapeutic approach, whatever addiction or issue or trauma we are recovering from we can all use affirmative statements to guide us on our journey of recovery and healing. I hope many can find strength and meaning in these words. Lori Crockett

JUST FOR TODAY my thoughts will be on my recovery, living and enjoying life without the use of drugs, alcohol, or other mind or mood altering substances.

JUST FOR TODAY I will have faith in someone other than myself who believes in me and wants to help me in my recovery.

JUST FOR TODAY I will have faith in God. I will start my day by praying for guidance.

JUST FOR TODAY I will have a program. I will try to follow it to the best of my ability.

JUST FOR TODAY I will have clear expectations of myself and my duties and responsibilities. I will try to do what is in front of me to the best of my abilities.

JUST FOR TODAY I will take care of myself, and those I have responsibility for, to the best of my abilities.

JUST FOR TODAY,…, I will try to get a better perspective on my life. I will refrain from negative self-talk and self-defeating behaviors.

JUST FOR TODAY I will not let my disease control me. I will try to recognize its many voices and disguises and not let myself be influenced by them.

JUST FOR TODAY I will be unafraid. I know that I have been given a new way of life. So long as I follow that way, I have nothing to fear.

JUST FOR TODAY before going to bed, I will review my day and give thanks to God for another day clean and sober.

Adapted from NA White Booklet, Narcotics Anonymous, copyright 1976, 1983, 1986 by Narcotics Anonymous World Services, Inc.

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Awesome meeting this morning!

Awesome meeting this morning!
Good, honest,
“tell it like it is” recovery…
Sharing from the heart and
from our experiences…
from our joy,
from our pain…
what we’ve learned
what we’ve gained
what hold us up now
what held us down then…
our good choices
our bad choices
our doubts and our certainties…
whom we have loved and
whom we have lost
all we have gained and
what it has cost…
our pasts and our futures
our before’s and our after’s
times when we slept and
times we awoke
times we cried out and
times we were broken…
our living…
our dying…
our coming home again.
Lori Crockett 2016

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The Future in my Past

I always wondered what happened to a man I met at a Trailways bus station over forty years ago. I was thirteen at the time and I was running away from home again. This was in the seventies and it seemed to me that the whole world was wide open and I wanted to join the party. Sometimes after school, when I got the urge for adventure, I would walk to the bus station in Petersburg and buy a ticket to Richmond. The place I liked most to run to was a small neighborhood in Richmond, Virginia, called The Fan. I had heard there was a lot going on there, that hippies lived there and that it was the place to be. I dreamed of being a hippie, like the ones I read about in Life magazine and in the newspapers. I didn’t realize then that one small event that happened in that Trailways bus station when I was thirteen would stick with me for ever and shape and influence the type of person I would become, and the direction my life would take.

I would always have a few dollars from my allowance in my pocket, and I usually had a little more than the price of a one way ticket to Richmond on hand. One afternoon as I was waiting to board the bus, an older man approached me and asked if I would give him some money for a coffee. Back then, I was a relatively naïve young girl who trusted everybody and had no fears. Today, as a recovering alcoholic who has spent the last eighteen years in recovery, I know the ploy, or at least I think I do. I have always wondered if I was extremely gullible, or, as it seems in my memory, if God was working in me even then. I truly believe the saying, “God looks out children, fools and drunks.” It didn’t take long, after “coming into the rooms,” as those of us in recovery like to call it, to know that God had a special place in His heart for me. In spite of all the hare-brained, daredevil plans and schemes I cooked up and followed through on, I was still alive. That really said something to me. And how did I end up in recovery instead of wrapped around a tree after one of the many times I drove myself home in my twenties and thirties so intoxicated I could barely see the road? Don’t tell me there isn’t Higher Power. Matthew 22:14 in the Bible says, “Many are called but few are chosen.” I’d like to think I am one of the chosen, for whatever reason.

That one incident in the bus station has stayed with me all these years. I don’t know if I was there to help a drunk, such as the one I was to become, to not drink for just that moment, or to fix in my mind who and what I was so that I could connect entirely with others when I eventually got to the rooms. He was an older, black man, whose clothes were pretty ragged and I was a young white girl from a well-to-do home. For some reason I did not notice his clothes or his face at first, but I did a strange thing in response to his request and got such a strange response that he has never left my memory. When he asked for a cup of coffee, I, either stupidly naïve, or with God’s hand on my shoulder, did not give him any money. Instead, I went over to the counter and bought him a coffee, put milk and sugar in it and went back to him with it. I have never been able to explain how his simple , “Bless you,” affected me. You may know what I’m talking about if you have ever truly been blessed by someone in all sincerity and genuineness. I felt like I had performed the greatest act on earth and I had seen someone’ else’s soul. And it smiled at me.

Twenty five years later I entered the rooms of recovery with my tail between my legs, broke and brokenhearted, scared and alone. And someone brought me a coffee and someone else said, “You’re in the right place.” Many years later I am still coming to meetings and one of the meetings I attend on Friday nights is across the street from that old Trailways station. And I belonged then and I belong now. I know the spark of deep human companionship and fellowship was ignited that day forty years ago in that small bus station.

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Powerlessness

I am powerless over many things…
Alcohol
Playmates and playgrounds.
I am powerless over nicotine and caffeine
cheesecake and cheese doodles.
I’m powerless over sugar and bread,
and sometimes even the voices in my head.
Once my monkey brain has made the connection
the dialogue runs on until I remove
the offending substance from my vicinity.
My monkey brain dances with glee,
hoping to take me down…
I tell myself…
Pour the vodka down the drain–
do not smell or lick the bottle
or tip it up for one last drop.
Dump the powder in the toilet–
do not sniff or lick your fingers
for whatever dust is left behind.
Toss the cheesecake in the trash–
do not taste or lick the plate
or save a single slice.
Empty the pill bottle into the toilet–
do not save the bottle
for a later refill.
And still my monkey brain dances with glee,
waiting to take me down.

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Grief and Gratitude

In the rooms we often say “Gratitude is an action.” In remembering those who have gone on before me, I express my gratitude for those I have loved and lost. I choose to feel the gratitude that comes from grief and to feel the grief that comes from love. And I choose to love again, despite the risk. We grieve for those whom we have truly cherished. We would not grieve long for something or someone we did not cherish and value greatly.We only mourn the passing of what we have held dear. In that grief lies the gratitude that we have for the time we shared in our small space and time on this planet. When we open our hearts to love we open them to grief, knowing that one of us will leave this place before the other. The fear and knowledge of this does not keep us from living and loving completely, for this is life itself, to love and be loved. Without love our world is barren and meaningless. This we must be ever grateful for. All things on this physical plane are temporary. They are our gifts and our sustenance. We must not refuse them, The grief in losing has at its core this love. We can be grateful for the time we had and keep in our hearts the memories of what we experienced while with this person. There can be no grief that is not laced with gratitude. Embrace them both and let them be part of you. Never let either go–this is what keeps us human and able to love again.

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Why I’ve Started this Blog

After long and careful thought, and much soul searching and prayer, I’ve made a decision to share with others through this blog my personal involvement in recovery and my own story of sobriety. In my personal life I spend many hours a week working with others, as well as continuing to work on my own continued sobriety. Since I am retired I have ample time to offer help and support to others and to try to “be there when anyone anywhere reaches out for help.” I feel blessed to have a purpose. And by helping others I am keeping my own recovery strong. The 12 steps and the fellowship I am part of have truly saved my life and I want nothing more than to give it back and to help others who may be struggling. We all have issues and personal demons. If I can’t talk openly about mine, I can’t honestly and sincerely connect with others, which is the key to helping and supporting others. This is what was done for me ‘in the rooms” and those connections drew me in, offered me the unconditional love and acceptance I so desperately needed, and helped me heal and grow into the strong, sober woman I am today. I am so lucky to be in a time and place in my life where I can spend my best hours giving back what was so freely given to me.

Wishing you serenity and sobriety. Lori Crockett

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