Grace – A Poem

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Grace – A Poem

I am awed by the way you move me
like freshly fallen snowflakes dusting across the frozen ground.
Some days I forget the barren tundra from which I came
and how you whispered by name, echoing across that vacant landscape
so that a lost soul could be found.

Some days time passes by me without a single thought
that each waking moment is a treasure –
a gift granted, light years away from being deserved.
But despite all my wrongs and all the foolish footpaths
I chose to walk, in my time of desperation I called
and without hesitation you answered.

Each single second is abounding opportunity,
a renewed possibility for new life.
My destination was one I was unable to arrive at
by the work of my own hands, but while I lingered,
withering away in the darkness, you nestled me
within your loving embrace and brought me back into the light.

The fact that I breathe and my heart beats
is a living testament to your endless love and grace.
May I never forget from where I came and that each day is a gift
that I should unceasingly praise and never waste.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley


 

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Today – A Inspiration Poem

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Today – A Inspiration Poem

The sun is rising.
Open your eyes to the possibility of a new life
That waits for you upon the horizon.
Let the aroma of fresh brewed coffee stir you in bed
And lead you from where dreams remain fixed in your head
To where they are transfigured in motion through action.

Today we set course for the future;
We throw all past failures overboard
And load our cargo of dormant potential in the hold.

Today we set sail to new destinations
We’ve been planning for years,
But never had the courage to leave the comfort of familiar harbors.

Today we become masters over our inner self
And shed the shackles of slavery,
No longer submitting to the will of our weaknesses.

Today is the first day of your new life –
Reborn, awoken, reformed into the image
You’ve always desired and known you’re capable of.

Today will find us working
And not bewildered by fear or past distractions.
We will set course on a path of purposeful, rigorous action.

Today we set sail for the future,
Which does not come to us,
But we confidently create and seek.

Today is the only day of your life that’s guaranteed.
So pull yourself up by your bootstraps.
Smile, don’t fret. Let’s make it one for the ages.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley


 

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One Is Never Enough, Ten Will Never Do – A Poem About Addiction

a man who  is ashamed, lonely, and depressedHaving suffered through the bonds of addiction, I sought in this poem to somehow put into perspective what the transformation of an addict is like. It never starts off as tragedy, but as a solution to all life’s problems – the missing puzzle piece that we’ve been searching for all of our life to make us fit. And nothing is better than discovering the magic of our elixir or drug of choice because it’s never about the experience. It is about healing the mangled, broken human being we’ve been carrying around inside our chest our whole life.

We rejoice. We celebrate. We can’t get enough. Finally, we are free. Finally, we have something that makes our darkness and fears disappear. But somewhere along the way, we cross a line. I don’t think any addict can truly know what day or time that line was crossed. But when we cross it, our enchanted dream becomes a bone-chilling nightmare. A sickness so swift comes over us that we fail to diagnose ourselves (unfortunately some never do). There is no romanticism in the depths of addiction. It is the coldest hell that man can ever go through.

There is often much confusion and anger towards loved ones who have addiction issues. That anger and frustration is not invalid. But for the addict, it is not some trip to Disneyland, but a ride down avenues that few can bear. It is the process of the soul shattering, and when the soul shatters, chaos is bound to follow. We are responsible for our actions, but the active addict is enduring a world that you can never begin to comprehend. We are not bad humans. We are sick, broken, mad, and in need of restoration. Love requires truth and confrontation. It cannot sit back and watch, while it’s lover is dying. It demands to be heard and to fight against the chaos. But love is the most powerful weapon against addiction. It takes someone else to believe you can fight back because often times an addict doesn’t have anything left to believe in. You don’t have to understand; you never will. But stretching out a hand to someone sinking is sometimes all it takes if they are willing to grab on. Blame, shame, and anger never do an addict any good. Trust me, we’ve got enough of that in our own heart to fill the world. We hate ourselves and what we’ve doing more than you can ever know. But we are frightened. We are scared. We do not know how to live in our own skin – fragile, broken, and utterly mangled. It is not deviance that drives one to addiction; it is deliverance. Deliverance from a world of hurt and pain. These hearts are already broken enough. Please do not break them even more. Restore them. Cherish them. Breathe your life back into them. Give them hope for a better tomorrow because their today is a living hell.

One Is Never Enough, Ten Will Never Do – A Poem About Addiction

One taste was all it took to love you.
You coddle me in your sweet embrace
And rock my fears and insecurities to sleep,
Nestled within your powerful arms.
But your enchanted dreams do not rub away from my eyes,
And I find it impossible to say good-bye to our nightly rendezvous.

I am drowning in your love,
But still thirsty.
Still yearning for just one more,
But somehow I know that will never do –
My every thought is of you
And the magic that your cast upon my broken mind.
You fix me and as long as you’re by my side,
The world is fine.
My strides are long and steady.
I’m cool, calm, confident, and ready
To take on the world with my head held high and my eyes
Ready to look life in the face.

But without the transformation I undergo after your taste,
I am lost, weak, scared, and incompetent.
My eyes drag across the floor
And fear commands my every move.
No.
One more will never do.
I need every ounce of you
Rattling through my veins, breaking these chains
That bind me in isolation.

But love, things were going so well.
What is this desolation
That now flows from your well?
Your spell has enchanted me blind
And numb to life.
What started off as waves of calm
Have turned to tides of chaos,
Screaming, shrieking out in piercing alarms.

I am not well.
No. My being is fluttering away in the breeze,
And a new form – some deformed demon
Forces me to my knees.
I only wanted one.
But one was not enough.
Neither was two.
Or the ten that followed two.

I no longer desire to be kissed.
My mind insists that I must be swallowed
Up in your madness, in the sadness
Of this depraved love affair that has turned sour.
I do not know the hour
That I turned from lover to slave.
But I look through blurred, sunken eyes at my reflection
And never have been so afraid.

I am no longer me.
I am not my own.
And who can comprehend the clamor of this confinement?
None. I walk alone
Through the dark corridors –
I reside within the empty walls.
I am an inmate on death row,
Silently drinking my way towards my execution date,
And my executioner will not wait, nor hear my plea.
I shiver in the silence of my cold seduction.
Oh, how I long to break free!
From this madness, this chaos, this never-ending itch
That I can’t stop scratching,
My claws ripping away the flesh of a once decent man.
But he is far gone from me, a monster is what I am.

I don’t want you.
But I need you.
No longer for safety, but to survive.
My love, I am a stumbling corpse,
Barely breathing, barely alive.
Realization reeks like a rotten carcass,
Festering, decaying in swarming summer heat,
Waves of repugnance sweeping me off my feet.

For truth stings sharper than a thousand bees.
Truth, heavier than the weight of the world,
When reality knocks an addict to his knees.
Oh, my sweet friend…
I thought your love was true!
But now I know one is never enough,
And ten will never do.

– Poem Written by Justin Farley


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Going All-In For Recovery

_DSC0016One of the most detrimental things an addict / alcoholic can do to hinder their recovery is to believe the world’s view that their problem is an external one – that if only they’d quit drinking or drugging they’d be restored, good as new. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

The belief that alcohol / drugs are the problem can defeat us before we even get started. Of course our using is a problem and needs to be stopped, but it isn’t The Problem. What is the difference between the heavy drinker and the alcoholic? Well, one is able to control or stop their drinking in dire circumstances, while the other cannot.

I believe that it is imperative to recovery to understand why two people, who seem to drink the same way externally, react completely different when forced to stop. Surely, there is a chemical / biological factor that the heavy drinker doesn’t have. But I think the main difference is psychological and spiritual.

Jim is a heavy drinker. Whenever he drinks, he almost always gets completely loaded, and it’s putting stress on his marriage. When his wife comes to him with an ultimatum, Jim agrees to quit and no longer drinks. He misses it, but it does not run his life. Bob, on the other hand, drinks just as much as Jim, promises his wife to quit as well, but doesn’t last more than a day before he’s drinking again. Bob was just as sincere as Jim about quitting drinking and loves his wife just as much as Jim, so why couldn’t he stop and Jim could?

It all has to do with intention. I believe the main difference between the two drinkers is the “why” of why they drink. The heavy drinker sees drinking as something fun, exciting, and loves to party. While the alcoholic’s drinking career may start off this way, by the end they see drinking as an escape, a necessity to deal with life, and medicine to cure an internal conflict so deep that they’d rather throw their life away than face life sober.

I can’t recall ever meeting an alcoholic or addict that didn’t have a serious mental or emotional problem. Whether it was depression, bipolar, anxiety, family issues, abuse, etc., there was always something they were trying to numb themselves to. We are all sick, hurt people and using is our medicine to fix the mess inside of us. I could be wrong, but I don’t believe heavy drinkers share the same view of their drinking. The reason we can’t stop using is because dealing with our shit sober scares us so bad that we’d rather live a lifetime miserable and high.

If all you do is decide to get sober without cleaning up the internal mess, you may be able to stay sober for a little while, but you’ll either go back out for the same reasons you started in the first place, change to some other addiction to forget your problems, or be absolutely miserable. There is freedom in quitting drinking, but if you don’t deal with your demons, you can never truly be free of them.

I know this message all too well because it’s one I didn’t listen to. My main reason for drinking was to deal with an anxiety disorder and be able to relax and be the fun, outgoing person I wanted to be. I finally came to a place where I decided to get sober because it was ruining my life. But I felt sorry for myself and decided getting sober was a hard enough mountain to climb as it was and never fully dealt with my anxiety issues. It’s a blessing that over 7 years later I’m still sober. But I’m still dealing with the same feelings that I drank away all those years ago. I look back at my sobriety and know I’ve never been free. I may have been released from my prison, but I’ve still got handcuffs around my wrists and shackles around my ankles.

I am working through these issues now, but I know it would have been so much easier had I dealt with them when I first got sober. And over these 7 years there have been some close calls when my anxiety almost drove me back to drinking. Not because I wanted to, but out of self-defense because I felt like I had to drink in order to remain sane. I’ve been lucky. I am an exception to the rule, and most people in my situation turn back to using.

When you enter into recovery, submit to becoming fully recovered. Don’t just live sober. Live free. I don’t think I speak only for myself when I say that all of us have something that was driving us to use. Clear that closet out and deal with those demons, or they’ll continue to haunt you and tear your life apart, sober or not.


 

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Staying Sober During the Holidays

4200971640_53e87a01c3With the holidays coming up, I thought I might offer some suggestions on how to make it through without drinking or using – at least the things that I will be doing to keep myself focused. For whatever the reason, I think Christmas is always the hardest holiday to stay sober. Many of us are living in cold climates, there’s snow on the ground, a fire blazing in the fireplace, and a drink sure sounds good. I’ve been sober long enough that the actual urge to drink isn’t there, but feelings still play upon my heart which can be just as dangerous.

Christmas has the tendency to cause us to reminisce – to think of past loves, memories, empty promises, or broken dreams. For me, even if I’m with the people I love, the season still makes me feel like there’s something missing or things aren’t the way they “should be”. Hopefully, your memories are happy ones, but for many of us as alcoholics and addicts, there’s quite a few skeletons in our closets. The one thing we hate to feel is deep emotion inside of that shakes us at the core, regardless if it’s happy or sad. Christmas usually brings a combination of both of those feelings, so we have to be ready to combat them.

Make a Conscious Decision to Change the View You Have of Christmas 

One of the difficult things I’ve dealt with is changing my outlook on Christmas. When I was actively drinking, it was a great excuse to get drunk, party, and not feel too bad about it. New Years was just around the corner, which was another drunk fest. Sure, I liked spending time with family and friends and the whole Christmas spirit, but if I’m honest, I looked forward to the party much more than anything else. If I wasn’t getting drunk on Christmas or New Years, it was kind of like “what’s the point?” But when you’re sober, you can’t continue to view the holidays in the same way you used to because you’re either going to be miserable, be resentful, and/or get drunk.

The way I dealt with it was by trying to reconnect with my childhood self, trying to remember what it was that I looked forward to then. Ok, we all can’t pretend Santa is real again, but we can believe in the magic of Christmas and what it means.  It is a time of giving, love, gratitude, and family. By focusing on that magic, instead of the false sense of control or stability we feel when we’re getting drunk or high, we can see what we’ve been missing for many years and rediscover the magic.

For those that are Christians, it can be very helpful to mediate on the meaning of Christmas through God’s sacrifice. By keeping our attention focused on the Christ in “Christmas”, it turns our awareness away from our self and onto Emmanuel. Even if you are not a Christian, you can still use the season as a time to think about others and focus on giving instead of receiving. Viewing Christmas as a holiday about Him or them drastically changes our mindset, getting us out of ourselves and worrying about others instead of worrying about getting drunk or high.

Stay in the Moment 

This is my toughest area. Often times, the Christmas season and this time of year can make me depressed or lonely. When I get lonely, I begin looking back into the past, hanging onto “better” days. Let’s just be honest. We had some good times drinking and using. They are a part of who we are and always will be. You can’t pretend that they don’t exist, but you need to be careful of glorifying them or pretending that you could do them again because you can’t. Just as you can’t go back and relieve waiting anxiously for Christmas morning as a child, you can’t go back and have great times without great consequences. You’re a different person now, and you must recognize and accept that. When you find your mind drifting back into time, consciously try to shift it back into the present moment and make new memories. We can’t change or relive the past and will never know what the future holds. The only thing we have control over is the present. Don’t drift back into old thinking patterns. Accept your new you and be proud of the person you’re becoming and already are.

Avoiding Old Mistakes 

I think this is the area that is hardest for people without much time under their belt, but that even people with a lot of time can get tripped up on. We tend to believe that we’re much stronger than we are. We know we don’t want to drink/use. We know sobriety is the best life for us and our families, but it’s Christmas, right? What’s Christmas without a big party? Too many people put themselves in the same situations that got them in the mess they’re in and expect things to be different this time.

What’s the definition of insanity ? (I know. I hate hearing it as much as the next person, but it’s true) “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Yes, you are a different person, but you’re still an alcoholic/addict regardless of how many days, months, or years you’ve been sober. It sucks, but you can’t change that. Too often people relapse not because they consciously sought it out, but because they played with fire and got burnt. I am not saying lock yourself in your home and talk to no one. I am saying be careful about going to familiar party spots that are going to bring up memories that you don’t want to deal with and temptations that are best left not tested. Remember, it’s ok to stay no. Your sobriety and life are more important than other people’s opinions of you.


Hopefully, this gave you some ideas to get started and ways to stay sober over the holidays. I wish you a very merry Christmas!

 

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Accepting the Invitation of Sobriety

8426831125_ca89d9643aOften times, the chains that are holding us back from moving forward are not fears or worries about the future, but fears of letting go of the past. We may not like the person we are and where we’ve been, but we’re comfortable with that person – we recognize their face in the mirror. Sobriety actually means that you will have to die to yourself and leave that person behind – that’s what frightens us. But I think a lot of the difficulty in getting sober is our outlook on the situation. More times than not, we are only focused on what we’re losing by entering into sobriety, instead of embracing what we’re gaining.

Comfort

This is a huge one for most people. If I ever have the urge to drink, it is almost always because I miss the comfort. I think as alcoholics and addicts, we are naturally more emotional and soft-hearted than the rest of society. We feel things on a deeper level, and pain doesn’t just affect us for a moment, but for days, months, or even years down the line. For whatever reason, we don’t know how to handle those feelings like the rest of society and at some point we need relief. And as David Allan Coe so poetically put it, “How do you spell relief, I get D-R-U-N-K.” Leaving behind the comfort of alcohol or drugs is a hard pill to shallow when you first get sober. But the blessing is that by remaining sober, you will learn how to deal with those feelings in a positive way, instead of destroying yourself – things like fellowship, prayer, and acceptance. And coming from someone who hates to suffer as much as anyone else, I am grateful for all the suffering I’ve gone through since I’ve been sober. Granted, I didn’t like it, but suffering produces character. One of the blessings of staying sober is being able to respect yourself in your suffering. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror with respect after I chugged a bottle of whiskey. The pain may have been gone, but it came at the price of my respect. Some days suck – that’s the reality of life. But at least I can be alone with myself at the end of the day, knowing I did the best I could and not hate the person inside.

Friends

We all have drinking buddies and getting sober makes for awkward conversation. In my opinion it is almost always, best to cut off all ties with these “friends”. I know that sounds harsh and hard to accept, but hanging around the same people will get you drunk quicker than about anything else. People think they can handle it, and they can’t imagine leaving behind the people they’ve known for years or even decades. The same people will come back crying a few months later, wondering how they ever started up again (I know I did). Old friends were at the top of the list of reasons I relapsed in the beginning. If you’re trying to become a more positive person, you don’t hang around with a bunch of negative people. If you want to be successful, you hang out with successful people. If you want to be sober, you don’t hang out with drinkers and users. Period. What you will most likely find is that once you get sober these “friends” will most likely want nothing to do with you or only want to hang out in bars or your usual spots because they’re cool with you changing, but they sure as hell aren’t going to. The other common theme I’ve noticed with old friends that actually don’t have a drinking problem and are supportive is that they just don’t understand. It’s not their fault, but they can be deadly. I’ve had friends that I haven’t seen for awhile that know I’m an alcoholic say things like, “You want to meet up and get a drink sometime..it’s been a few years..you’re cured now right?” The common misconception is that they believe this is just a temporary thing that will go away, and some will even try to convince you of this. I don’t know about you, but I have enough excuses to drink inside my own head without someone else trying to convince me of other ones. If you hold on to your old friends, you will never see the beauty of the real friends you meet in recovery, who actually do care about you and want you to stay sober. I’m not trying to say you can’t have any contact with anyone who drinks. Just understand that “normal” people are not like you. They will never understand you, and even when they mean well, they can be potentially dangerous if you’re not in the right frame of mind.

Wisdom

Wisdom is the fruit of growth. The more we grow, the more wisdom we gain. You learn more wisdom in sobriety than you could have possibly imagined. The people you meet and the lessons they share are priceless. Often times, I see people 10+ years older than me struggling with issues that I dealt with in my early twenties. This has nothing to do with my intelligence; it has everything to do with going through suffering and hardships. By continuing in our cycle of using, we delay confronting issues that we will be forced to at some point. Isn’t it much more practical to work through them, learning from them, instead of pretending they don’t exist?

Money & Mistakes

I feel so blessed to have quit drinking before I was even legally able to be in a bar. I would have racked up more debt and more mistakes with women than I would have known what to do with. The few times I was illegally drinking in bars, I woke up the next morning thinking that someone must have robbed me. And he did, his name was Jim Beam. Until you actually quit, you don’t realize just how much money goes towards your addiction. Sobriety is like getting a huge raise just by signing up. I think we can all agree we make a lot of mistakes when we’re drunk or high. What seemed like a good idea at the time, haunts you the next morning, leaving you wondering why trouble seems to follow you wherever you go. Being sober doesn’t mean that you’ll never make mistakes, but it was drastically reduce them.

A Spiritual Connection 

Ever since I was a little boy, I always felt a strong connection to God. I desired to please him and loved being close to him. But at some point, I decided that I couldn’t do “life” anymore and would use drinking as my way to deal with all my troubles. For many years, I still felt him, but I pushed him away. You cannot be an addict, engaging in the things the lifestyle entails, and have a close relationship with God. It is impossible. It is not that God is giving up on us, but that we are giving up on him. When you are surrounded with darkness, it makes it very difficult to see, let alone live with, the light. That doesn’t mean that you are completely cut off. I still believed in God during my active drinking, but it was not an intimate relationship. Just as you can’t have an intimate relationship with a spouse when either partner is actively engaging in adultery, you can’t have an intimate relationship with God while actively addicted. As soon as you run to him, those doors are reopened again, and he can begin to heal the wounds inside you. I am so grateful and feel so blessed that I have the relationship back that I ran away from all those years ago. I have only sobriety to thank for it. Sobriety gives us a spiritual connection and gives us the tools to receive the drug that we have been seeking all our lives – God’s love.

A New Hope

I can’t imagine there’s an alcoholic or addict that really loves being a slave to a substance. We may like the feelings it gives us, but we don’t like the cost. I think the overwhelming majority of people who are addicts would actually like to be sober, but they feel like it’s too late for them. They feel as if numbing themselves is the only way to deal with life and that their hearts are so filled with darkness, there’s no chance at delighting in the light. But sobriety gives us a chance to wipe the slate clean and start over. We don’t have to be the person that we hate and disrespect. As long as you’re still breathing, there’s always the ability to change. No one said it was going to be easy or without pain, but there is a way out. Sobriety gives us the ability to redefine ourselves and what we want out of life. If we live, clutching onto the life that we know is not working and not bringing us happiness, we’ll never see the light at the end of the tunnel that has more in store for us than we could have ever dreamed. Are you looking back at your addiction with envy and regret or looking forward at a new hope and a new life? Sobriety’s invitation is waiting. But you must accept its gifts.

 
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The War on Addiction

tankBreaking any addiction is hard work. There’s always a period when your body and mind fight back, and you doubt your reasoning for quitting in the first place. I think this is where most people fail. They convince themselves they don’t actually want to quit and go back to the safety of their addiction, listening to the signals their body is telling them, instead of rationally examining the reasons they are quitting in the first place.

The number one thing I see (and what I’ve learned the hard way by failing and relapsing into my addictions in the past) is that people are not prepared for what will happen when you quit any addiction. We have the desire to quit, we know we have to quit, and somehow we find ourselves in the same place we were 2 weeks ago. When we first get the desire to quit, we’re finally ready to let go and change. But we expect that same level of desire to continue through the recovery process, and IT WILL NOT. There are going to come many days when everything inside of you is screaming to go back to your addiction, that it’s not worth the pain, you can’t recover, life sucks without it, or a long list of other excuses. THIS IS NORMAL. It doesn’t mean you want to relapse, you’re a bad person, or your situation is hopeless. It simply means you’re an addict – welcome to the club.

People jump into recovery thinking it won’t be hard because they are ready. It’s never easy. If it was there would be very few people addicted. Most people neglect to realize that when they quit whatever substance or behavior they’re addicted to, they immediately wage war on both their mind and body. If you don’t attach yourself to your spiritual self, your soul, whatever you want to call it – you’re fucked. I hate to say it that way, but it’s the truth.

Those thoughts and feelings that made you feel good and excited to change…well you can kiss them goodbye. They’re about ready to turn on you quicker than you can imagine. The same mind will try to trick you anyway possible to go back to your addiction. Your body is about ready to start reacting to not having its “nutrients”, and it’s going to be pissed off about it. If you’re relying on feelings or good intention to carry you through, you’re done before you even start. You have to quit, knowing what your mind and body are going to do to you. You have to know that it is simply a trick designed to lead you right back to your next fix.

And I honestly think a lot of people are surprised by that. The day or moment comes where only 1-5% of the person still wants to quit, and they’re not prepared for it. If you’re prepared for it, you know it’s coming – it’s just your addiction fighting back. If you’re not, you get ambushed and driven right back to where you started. Your thoughts and feelings are temporary, even when they feel like they’re not. WANTING TO DRINK OR USE DOES NOT MEAN YOU’RE GOING TO! But you do have to know deep down at your core that you’re about to be in a war, and you’re willing to do whatever it takes to defeat your addiction.


 

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A.A. Step 2 – The Hope for Recovery

believe in miraclesThere’s no point in addressing a problem if you don’t have a solution.  But before you even dive into the solution, there’s a force that drives you there- hope.  Hope is the fuel to the fire of recovery.  The second you lose hope, the solution doesn’t matter anymore because “it’ll never work for me”, “I don’t deserve another chance”, “I’m too sick to get better”, “…but I’m so much worse off than they are”.  In A.A., we derive our hope from Step 2.  “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity” (Alcoholics Anonymous).

A Reason to Believe

The beauty of Step 2 is that it pulls us out of our misery, even if only for a second, and makes us ask the question, “Is recovery possible?”.  Some may argue that it sounds too much like magic, that some Power (God) bringing us back from the brink of insanity simply by the work of his power is unbelievable.  But if you’ve ever sat in the depths of hell, battling mental illness or addiction, you know “magic” is the only thing that is going to fix the broken person living inside of you- you’ve tried every other option.

Belief still leaves room for doubt though.  Some people come to the rooms of A.A. without ever believing in God or have a very negative, distorted view of him.  And the best thing about Step 2 is that’s ok.  It doesn’t mean that everything has to be perfect for this “magic” to work either.  All the process requires is to entertain the idea that there could be a loving God who has the ability “to restore us to sanity”.  That’s it.

At this stage in the game, it really doesn’t matter if you believe it with 100% of your heart or 10%.  Obviously, the more belief you have the better, but it doesn’t mean that you’re doomed if you can’t believe it 100% this very second.  We’ve all gone through various hard times in our lives that cause us to doubt God or question his love.  I would argue even more so for those of us with mental illness or addiction issues.  God meets us where we are on our journey.  We have to be open to the idea of his existence, but we’re not in charge of all the work.

The Power of Faith

There is mystery surrounding faith.  Jesus said, “For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’, and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20-21). Likewise, when you open up your heart, things that were once impossible become possible.  You will find that once you first allow yourself to believe, even if it’s just a small sliver of your heart, it will begin to grow, and God will begin to work in your life.  A time will come when you realize your whole heart now believes, and you’ll be baffled on how it got there.

It is true that you have to have some kind of desire to quit drinking or using to recover, but it doesn’t take much.  Miracles do happen inside the walls of A.A., but you must at least entertain the idea of Step 2 in order to see them happen.  When I got sober, I had just turned 21 years old.  Alcohol was already causing chaos in my life, but I still struggled with the desire to drink.  How am I ever going to quit so young? How am I going to have any kind of a social life without drinking?  I had somewhat of a desire to quit, but still had a part of me that wanted to wait until I was in my late 20s or early 30s to do so.  But I knew I may not get that chance at the rate I was deteriorating.  I really just had to push forward regardless of how I felt, but I was still torn about my decision for the first six months or so.  And one day I found that the desire to drink was no where to be found.  It wasn’t anything I had done.  It was simply the effects of taking Step 2.  God’s grace had been working everyday inside of me and now the hope of recovery was much stronger than my desire to drink.

A New Vision 

One of the most powerful aspects of Step 2 works by taking our focus off ourselves.  We usually don’t spend much thought on the idea of recovery until we’ve tried everything under the sun to control our drinking or using.  You’d think that after years (decades for some of us) failing to recover by our own power, pride would no longer exist.  But pride is one of our strongest character defects, as least it is for me.  Step 2 begins to counteract that pride and lets us know that recovery is possible, but not by our power.  We still have to be open and put in the work that recovery requires, but we can’t change our insides- that’s God’s job.  That admission or discovery shrinks our pride down to a manageable level and gives us the ability to recognize that we’re not in control.  Pride is the greatest enemy of recovery and Step 2 begins the process of battling it.

Great News 

More than anything though, Step 2 should be a source of great news and joy.  Step 1 diagnoses the severity of our condition.  Step 2 tell us that our once fatal illness now has a treatment option.  I think few of us really appreciate this.  If you had terminal cancer, lying on your death bed, and the doctor bursts through the door and announces that they just discovered a treatment option, wouldn’t that completely fill you with gratitude and completely change your perspective?  Why is it any different in recovery?  That hope should propel us forward and give us comfort during the “surgery” that needs to be performed on our bodies and minds to release us from the terminal bonds of addiction.


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Step 1 – Embracing Our Powerlessness

fire“1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol- that our lives had become unmanageable.” (Alcoholics Anonymous)

When many of us come to the first step in Alcoholics Anonymous, we seem ready and eager to accept it without too much thought.  Of course I’m ready to quit, I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t.  Unmanageable…my life is so out of control I don’t even know where to start.  So we accept it and move on without another thought, some of us defeated before we even get started.
When I first got sober in July of 2007 at 20 years old, I had no problems with this step.  It was clear to me that I had a problem, and my life wasn’t going to get any better until I quit drinking.  But I didn’t grasp the step at its core.  I was fine with or at least accepted the fact that I couldn’t drink.  I thought of this alcoholism thing as some external force that I was battling and all I had to do was make sure I didn’t take a drink.  The problem was I didn’t want a new me.  I wanted the old me, just a sober one.

Things started off fine. I had a gut full of motivation to kick this habit and move on with me life.  But soon problems started showing up.  I was living the same life as I was before, hanging around with the same people, and going to the same places.  Before long the motivation wore off and was replaced with self-pity, anger, and loathing.  As you can guess, it wasn’t long before I felt like I deserved a drink and was beaten down once again.

When I got back into recovery in late October of 2007,  I had a new perspective on things.  I didn’t like embracing sobriety anymore than I did the first time, but I respected it.  Once you challenge the same person over and over and get defeated time and time again, you finally accept your enemy’s power.  Admitting that you are powerless, doesn’t mean you have a hard time resisting an urge.  YOU ARE POWERLESS OVER IT.  You will fail time and time again because you are not capable of resisting it.  Until you grasp this concept, it is going to be hard to remain sober.

Powerlessness goes beyond just the temptation of alcohol.  Powerlessness is embracing the fact that you are an alcoholic, addict, etc.  Part of that is admitting that most of the time you can’t trust your own impulses, even if they seem harmless.  I believe that it is necessary for us to leave our old lives behind and completely start over.  That doesn’t mean that your personality or things about you don’t remain, but you must tear down your old self and build it back up again.  If your house was in a bad fire, the builders would completely bulldoze the house and build it from scratch.  Imagine just repairing walls and floors that are burnt and a roof that looks like it could cave in at any moment.  That would be stupid right?  Then why do so many of us not have a problem with trying to rebuild our lives living in the same environments, thinking the same thoughts, and hanging out with the same people that burnt “our house” down to begin with?

Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” (Matt 7:24)  Regardless of whether he is your higher power or not, I think you can grasp the power of his words.  Recovery and your old life are masters.  You can’t serve both of them at the same time.  You may be able to for a period of months or even years, but at some point one has to go.  Anyone who’s tried to live both knows the frustration and anger that it causes.  I’m not going to put myself in that situation because I know there’s a good chance I’m going to choose the wrong master.  Part of being alcoholic is knowing we don’t have the ability to chose and that is ok.  You don’t have to like it, but putting yourself in the same places to make the same bad choices time and time again is insane.

Step 1 is not just an admission that you have a problem with something in your life.  A problem is something that can be fixed like a hole in the wall or a door that sticks.  Powerlessness means that the whole house needs to come down because it’s not safe to salvage.  Step 1 is an invitation to rebuild that house and until you stop trying to pick through the ashes of your past, it’s only a matter of time before your house collapses in on you.


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