Tuesday, April 3, 2012

PART 18-Step 4 Revisited

                                                      Part 18- Step 4 Revisited

It is once again the month of April and time to revisit  Step 4. In reality Step 4 needs to be reevaluated more than once a year,preferably at least every month. It is a very critical Step and begins  a cycle that runs through Step 9. The purpose of 4 is to help us make the changes necessary to move forward with our lives. It requires a deep look inside by each and every one of us. We need to see the Good as well as the Bad and work on promoting the former and limiting  the latter. We all know this is a process and takes years to really work completely in any sense. It is important to remember the Steps are a lifetime job. They and we change all the time,as do our perspectives. So don’t be discouraged and do not put off working the Steps. They are the guidepost for our recovery.
I am a firm believer in the truth and in simplicity. I have often said that we have a simple program for very complicated people. And as we proceed,we see that is absolutely true. Most of the problems and issues lie within us-some so deep and longstanding that they are hard to understand and very hard to discard or change.
I would like to provide a few clearcut changes that we need to make.

1.We must regain our  control  as gatekeeper of our heads.  We must eliminate the addict and everyone else from that role. That job belongs to us-no one else. Our inablility to do this keeps the addict playing with our  thoughts and our fears which paralyzes us and keeps us doing Everything Wrong as it relates to the addict and others. And to  ourselves.

2. We must learn to believe that our lives are important. We were not put on earth to fix the addict,which  automatically  excludes our ability to live our own lives .Our lives have value and meaning and we are entitled to the fulfillment of our dreams-our dreams. This has nothing to do with addicts or anyone else. These are our personal dreams for ourselves. Yes they may include a happy family life ,but that cannot happen with the addict in control of the family. We must accept our right to take back control  of  our own lives and make them what WE want. This is not being selfish;it is being honest and realistic.

3.We must have the courage  to  say “no” and understand that it is a complete statement. When we add the” because” or the “but”,we have played right into the hands of someone else(usually the addict).” No” is perfect for almost every  issue that arises  with addicts. You do not have to say anything more or do anything at all. Every time we respond with more or start to do something ,we get it wrong. We play right into the addicts scheme. And whatever we think we are saying or doing,trus tme-the addict is in control. The answer is NO, NO, NO ;and what to do is Nothing! DO NOTHING that pertains to the addict,but DO EVERYTHING that pertains to YOU. Never forget-the addict reads you perfectly. No matter what you  say or do, the addict knows you are eating out of  his/her  hand. It all about GOTCHA! We think we are throwing a safety net and the addict has actually  entrapped us in his/her  web of addiction and craziness. Until recovery takes place,which can only  occur with  our understanding the need to change, this scenario is and will be  reenacted over and over thousands of times-perhaps for our lifetimes.

4. I have said the following on many occasions. When I look back from a 22 and a half year perspective I am appalled  how easy it is to throw every working relationship out the window to seek to save the one person who cannot be saved by us. Everyone we are willing to discard is salvageable-but we throw them out the window(or out of our lives). How ironic and how completely crazy this is. It shows how truly our lives have become unmanageable. We discard every one who  matters to chase the one we can Never Catch , Never Help. and Never Fix. We need to change this thinking and behavior 180 degrees. Could this be any clearer?

I know this is a different look at change and the actual wording of Step 4. However in the interest of truth,simplicity and brevity(we all hope to shorten the time it takes us to” get it”) this is an enumeration of some  the most urgent changes that we must undergo. I know all of this takes hard work,but in the end it will be much easier than pursuing an addict for  another 30 years.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Part 17: Recovery is The Only Job

So often we do not understand that there is only one goal in this very complex program which we are working. That goal is recovery.
There is not second goal. If we all recover,only good things will follow. If we do not recover,nothing good will ever happen to any of us. It is really that simple. Recovery is Job 1,2,3,..................ad infinitum. All the other issues that we thought were important,especially for the addict, are not important. If GOOD RECOVERY takes place,all the other issues we worried about will fall in line. Without GOOD RECOVERY,nothing we or the addict does will ever  matter. And I mean NOTHING. So all the fretting over how the addict gets a job,gets an education(this seems to be enabler's first   priority),gets food stamps,or a bike, or a car DOES NOT MATTER. None of these make recovery more or less likely. In fact college for most addicts in poor or no recovery is a very BAD idea. I know colleges are trying  to do the right thing,with sober living,meetings,etc. But I believe that the idea of taking a recovering person from a very sheltering recovering community,or 12 step school, or something else of that nature and trying to put them into college is  a huge mistake.  I am all for education,but addicts need to recover long enough and function in our difficult world sober  for at least 2 years before engaging in the idea of college. I am aware that most families who are not in recovery are aghast at my ideas. But I have repeatedly seen the rush to college  fail because it is a rare addict in early recovery who can manage the pressures of college.VERY RARE!

We know that if the addict gets a few years of recovery under his/her belt than the time might be  appropriate to try college. It is amazing to me however,how many families fail to understand that without recovery,all the education is meaningless. My experience has taught me that when individuals go into reasonable recovery,they need time in the workplace doing small and humbling jobs. No Wall St. for the young addict. Maybe after 5 or 10 years of recovery that works. But it does not work in the beginning of recovery(first 2 years).

It is hard to emphasize enough,that without GOOD RECOVERY,nothing will work for the addict or the family. All that I have said applies to all of us,family and addicts. The attempt to scale large buildings in a single leap like Superman DOES NOT WORK and only sets us back. We need to move forward slowly and steadily. I know that recovery is not a straight line.I have had enough relapses of my own. But I have learned that the journey we are all on concerns one thing-RECOVERY. NOTHING ELSE!


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Part 16:What to Say?What to Do?

I have often described the tempestuous events surrounding drug addiction as a protracted stage  play. I view it as a one man play performed by the addict.
Regrettably family dynamics draw many others into what is supposed to be a one man performance. And sadly ,those drawn in as accompanying players are the family members,particularly the enablers. This happens because our emotional baggage and our head clutter draws us onto the stage and makes us active players for many years. The key in my view is for us to get off the stage and let the performance unravel as a one man play. I know this is not easily done,and for many of us it takes years to understand that the show is the addicts’,not ours. And the likelihood of a satisfactory ending  only happens when we step off the stage. I know it is not that simple,but the analogy is a very good one.
The title of this piece is intended to help us perform a shorter time and ultimately leave the addict as the numero uno  solo in the play. The  question of what to do and what to say is very important because they define our role in this drama and with understanding, we can help ourselves exit the stage.
Let’s look at what to do first. In our rush to enable and save the addict we invariably act  in ways that keep us onstage. As long as we are enabling, we must be part of the show. We must always respond to everything the addict says and does. Remember this happens because we feel we created the problem which is totally untrue;but our heads are filled with many untruths. As we stop reacting to the addict because we eventually see the destructiveness of our of our role in the  performance, we start to do less and less. If your recall the readings,”Detachment,” and “Helping” our role is to be things ,not to do things.” With progressive uncluttering of our heads we begin to understand what that means. To be there. And to be there without doing anything! Ultimately we understand how to be there without doing anything. When we get to this point in our own recovery, we will be heading for the exits .. So the answer to the question”what should I do when the addict does………”, is do  nothing. Of course this does not preclude doing something for ourselves which we never thought about because we were so involved in our”acting careers.” managing the addict. The secret weapon which we finally learn to use  is doing nothing for the addict.  And that is the hardest thing for us to understand. When we do  nothing but act supportively to the addict’s recovery, we have found the secret of question number 1. In truth we should have been doing nothing for years,but our emotions would not let us. As we grow and understand how complicit our behavior has been,the answer become obvious. What should I do? Nothing for the addict,but everything for our own recovery.
It should be clearer what the answer is  to  second question in the title. Since so much of our communication in this play serves the same purpose as our actions,we have to learn to say  NOTHING  sometimes,a loud and clear”NO” at other times, a lot of “HMMMMMM’  and the very supportive”I AM SURE YOU CAN WORK THIS OUT”. These  responces are incredibly successful in stopping the interplay  with the addict. No addict likes to hear any of this;they expect something like”of course you can come home”. But when the answer is no the addict understands exactly what is going on. And if you want to pursue getting off the stage say “no “ a few hundred times and you will see just how much  the addict understands what it means.It is our heads that mislead us and keep us saying”yes”.

When we learn to do nothing other than be supportive of recovery,and to say nothing that is any way suggests we will save the addict,the stage play will wind down and before anyone realizes the performance is back to a one man show.That’s really what it should have been from day 1. And without other participants on stage,hopefully  the play will come to a more rapid end.