Triggers – Episode 92

grasshopperDo words and events throw you into your past? Do you get angry when it’s inappropriate? What are triggers and how do they affect us?

Spencer and Akilah talk about our experience of triggers and how the 12 steps have lessened their impact on our lives. We had a few basic questions to guide our conversation:

  • What does “trigger” mean to you?
  • What triggers have you recognized in yourself?
    • How do you react to these triggers?
  • How has the program helped you to reduce or eliminate your triggers?
    • Taking an inventory?
    • Finding acceptance?
    • Making amends?
    • Trusting in my Higher Power?

Harriet and Julia also shared some of their experience with being triggered by voice mail and email.

Harriet talked about a book by Charles Whitfield, A Gift to Myself: A Personal Workbook and Guide to “Healing the Child Within”, and particularly mentioned a chapter titled “Visiting my Family of Origin”.

Upcoming topics include “Is it caretaking or healthy support?” and Tradition 11, which says “Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, films, and TV. We need guard with special care the anonymity of all AA members.” Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.

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Detachment – a “best of” episode – Episode 64

Early on, I was told to practice “loving detachment.” I already knew how to do “middle finger detachment,” but detaching with love was a foreign concept. In this “best of” episode from February 2013, Kelli, Swetha, and Spencer share their experience, strength, and hope about this complex topic.

Our topic for next week is hope. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
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Relapse – Episode 59

DSC_5506Has your loved one relapsed? Did you expect it? How did you react? Today, Spencer and Jessyca talk about Relapse.

We structured our discussion around these points and questions:

  • The disease of alcoholism and addiction is chronic, progressive, and eventually fatal.
  • Relapse does not have to be part of the disease, but it is frequently part of the process.
  • As friends and family members, many of us have experienced the relapse of a loved one from a period of sobriety, sometimes short, sometimes long and full of recovery.
  • How did and how do we respond and react when a loved one relapses?
  • What is our understanding of relapse? It is often a process in which picking up the drink or drug is the last stage.
  • How can we support ourselves and our loved ones in relapse?
  • And, sometimes, we relapse back to our old behavior. What is an “Al-Anon relapse”?
  • Have you had one? What was it like, and how did you get out of it?

Our topic for next week is Tradition 2, which states “For our group purpose, there is but one authority – a loving god as He may express Himself in our group conscience.  Our leaders are but trusted servants – they do not govern.” Which, when you think about it, is a pretty radical statement. Have you been in any other groups that functioned without “leaders”?  What does it mean that our leaders are “trusted servants?”. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
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acceptance – a guest meditation by Scott B.

 

“Every good thought you think is contributing its share to the ultimate result of your life.”
Grenville Kleiser, Courage to Change P. 176
My first months in program, I couldn’t gather new tools fast enough. I tried everything I could, anything anyone recommended. One of the personal methods suggested was to repeat to myself; “I am good. I am unique. I am beautiful. I love you,” while looking in a mirror. I had the initial thought that it was cheesy, something crazy people said to themselves. Well, I was feeling crazy, so I took a deep breath, and said it out loud to my reflection. With my low self-worth and self-esteem, I didn’t feel comfortable. I felt awkward, embarrassed and ashamed even in the privacy of my home.
In spite of my mixed emotions, I said each of these four sentences again and again, day after day. I would say it in my car rear-view mirror while stopped at a light, (heaven forbid, never when another car was beside me) worried that someone might see me talking to myself. Faithfully, I kept repeating these phrases even without a mirror, now memorized by rote from many weeks of repetition. The words almost became a mantra.  Internally, I didn’t approach the place of transforming love I had expected to reach (and I expected to reach someplace, anyplace, much sooner). I felt no comfort from my repeated efforts over time.
Disheartened, I concluded that saying these simple things could not possibly work and there was no use in continuing. As time in recovery went by, I would occasionally break out a simple, “I love you.” in the mirror. Still, after all this time, I felt the awkwardness spread through me and my stomach tensed as I looked away. Forgotten in the depths of my mind (lost in one of those bad neighborhoods) my affirmations faded, though I continued going to meetings.
When I experienced what seemed like a long period of no growth in my program, I figured I had plateaued. A friend shared during a meeting that change, lasting change, happens on her Higher Power’s time. All she needs to do is her footwork, go to meetings and be patient. This stuck in my brain like a burr. It would not go away. It echoed in my head daily.
That summer I went on an eight mile walk, in eighty degree heat.  I rested, but I had run out of water about 3 miles from home. Dehydrated, I arrived at my house, filled up on water and poured an ice-cold glass of milk. I sat down in front of my computer. I reached for my mug of milk, my hand moved way too fast, and I spilled the white liquid all over my laptop. The screen went half black, the other half froze and I turned the laptop on its side, unplugged it, and ejected the battery.
Anger rushed through me. Powerlessness surrounded me. The feelings were coming and I couldn’t stop them. I felt overwhelmed. I had heard so many times not to try to stop feelings. It was best to recognize them, feel them and let them go. But I made a mistake! And not just a little one! How could I of all people, be human? The turmoil inside me swirled. Old tapes told me to shame myself. New behaviors told me to laugh and accept it. Before program I would spend months, even years beating myself up over such an incident. Which direction should I take? Help me God, what do I do, where do I go?
The mirror. The mirror? Now? Really? My gut feeling was to walk into the living room and stand in front of the mirror. I felt nudged. I looked deep into my own panicked eyes and said, “I love you, Scott and there’s nothing you can ever do to make me stop loving you.” There was no awkward pause, no feeling of inadequacy. I held my gaze and didn’t look away. A wave of gratitude washed over me. Tears welled in my eyes as I cried and laughed at the same time. My gaze was unwavering until it was blurry and I couldn’t see. Thank-you, God. Thank-you. I kept thinking that the feeling would leave, but there it was; solid in my Higher Power’s Love.
Only in looking back from now can I see that everything contributed to my growth; every meeting, every coffee, lunch and potluck. Each email, text and affirmation. Every conversation, every call to my sponsors, every vulnerable moment. All the Concepts, Traditions and every Step along the way. My Higher Power takes it all in and uses my experiences to change me into who I’m meant to be.
A meditation for October 16, 2013.

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expectations – a meditation

 

“When someone sees the same people every day, as had happened with him at the seminary, they wind up becoming a part of that person’s life. And then they want the person to change. If someone isn’t what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.”
Paulo Coehlo, The Alchemist

I spend a great deal of time focusing on the external. I judge people and situations as “right” or “wrong”, or even “good” or “bad” depending on how I feel about them. I even used to say things like “they made me feel…” or “he hurt me…” or “she mad me mad…” In none of these situations do I take accountability for my own feelings in the situations. I just hold my external circumstances to up to certain expectations.

How did I develop these expectations? I believed that if everything and everyone were a certain (as I expect them to be) then I would be safe and happy. I wouldn’t be yelled at or teased or judged or criticized. And that’s what I wanted so badly. I wanted peace. I wanted a space to just be myself. Ironically, this is exactly what I was not allowing of the people and environment around me. Though I wanted peace, I kept pushing my expectations on others either passively or aggressively. Though I did not want to be criticized, I was constantly assessing how other people or situations could and should change for the better. In my desire to have space to exist, I tried to control all the space around me. But I do not need to do that.

In the beginning of this meditation, I wrote “I judge people and situations depending on how I feel about them.” In this sentence lies the answer to my need to control via expectations. The key is my feelings. I think, often, I take my feelings out of proportion by minimizing them. I reject or ignore my feelings by telling myself not important enough. But those feelings build up and form resentments and expectations which I then take out of of proportion again and believe them to be the most important thing. This is black-and-white thinking. But it does not need to be.

I can simply accept my feelings for what they are – my ego responding to the world around me. I can accept that I am sometimes in pain, happy, angry, sad, etc. If I can do this without judging my feelings and simply allowing them to be, I am better able to process them and only then am I able to decide how I want to react.

Just for today, I will try not to judge others. Rather, when I feel frustrated or upset about another person’s behavior, I will stop and take a quick inventory on why I feel bothered. I will not judge my reaction as good or bad, but rather simply accept it. In doing so, I can give myself peace and give myself space to exist. When I can offer this compassion to myself, only then am I able to offer it to others.

A meditation for July 31, 2013*

*Thanks to Hillery for requesting a meditation on the topic of expectations! Continue reading “expectations – a meditation”