Shutting down as a defense – Episode 152

closer to perfectionDo you retreat into yourself when problems arise? Do you prefer not to hear bad news? Maybe you are shutting down as a defense.

Here's our outline:

  • Which of these statements do I connect with about shutting down?
    • “When I am stressed, I retreat into myself.”
    • “If I don’t think about a problem, it will go away.” (Tom)
    • “Instead of doing something, I chew over my problems in my head, over and over.”
    • “I escape into a book/movie/tv show/video game/… when I don’t want to face something.”
    • “Conflict just shuts me down. Sometimes I can’t even talk.”
    • “I keep busy with unimportant tasks, so I don’t have to face the things I don’t want to do.” (Tom)
    • “When there is chaos around me, I can’t do anything. I just shut down and retreat into my skull.”
    • “I hide by not answering the phone, or not opening mail.” (Tom)
    • “I fantasize about a better future, but I don’t seem to be able to do anything about getting there.” (Tom)
    • “In an airport or other public space I make sure nobody will sit next to me.” (Tom)
    • “I avoid difficult conversations at all costs.”
    • “There’s only one way to survive life. Shut down, or get hurt and die.”
  • What have I learned about myself, and about my ways of “shutting down” and “escaping”?
    • Conflict avoidant.
    • Lack of self-worth/self-esteem.
    • Fear of criticism, rejection, other mental/spiritual harm.
    • Fear of bodily harm.
    • Fear of intimacy.
    • Denial — if I don’t “know” about a problem, maybe it won’t happen.
    • Isolating
    • Depression
  • When can it be healthy to “shut down”?
    • Detachment
    • Taking a break
    • Resting
  • What tools can I use to face daily conflicts, problems, and discomfort of dealing with other people?
    • Serenity prayer.
    • Other prayers.
    • Inventory. (I can’t change something if I don’t see it.)
    • Gratitude.
    • Check in with program friends.
    • Living in the moment. “One day at a time.”
    • Meditation.
    • Practicing Step 10. “… and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”
    • Self-acceptance
    • Vulnerability.
    • HOW: “Honest, open, and willing.”
    • Detachment — “it’s not me/mine”
    • Scheduling activities with others to prevent a self-isolating funk
    • Progress not perfection

Some online resources

Suppressing Emotions

Emotionally Closed Off: Healing Pain and Learning to Love

Why Anxiety Causes Detachment “Why anxiety causes detachment” (about the “bad” kind of detachment — distancing, emotional shutting down)

Upcoming topics include another “gift of Al-Anon”. This one is “Our sight, once clouded and confused, will clear and we will be able to perceive reality and recognize truth.” 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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Love and Alcoholism – Episode 142

heartWhat does Love mean to you? Has alcoholism turned your love turned to hate? Or maybe, you feel both at once and it’s tearing you apart.

The ancient Greeks had 4 words for different kinds of love. In English, we have to use adjectives to distinguish them. These include

  • Romantic love
  • Sexual love
  • Parental love
  • Familial love
  • Obsessive love
  • Compassionate love
  • Love of humanity
  • Unconditional love

In an alcoholic relationship, love can become poisoned, eventually turning into dislike or hate. We can feel both of these emotions at once, which is certainly confusing. Our recovery tools can help to detangle this messy web of feelings. By learning about the disease of alcoholism, we can begin to find compassion for our loved one, and to separate the person from the effects of the disease. This can help us to detach with love, and to find a way to live our life with balance and serenity, even while the alcoholic behavior continues.

Fear of consequences to a love one can compel us to try to control their actions and outcomes. As the reading about Step 1 in How Al-Anon Works states,

… many of us have confused love with interference. We don’t know how to show affection or support without giving advice, seeking to sway another’s decisions, or trying to get those we love to do what we think will bring them happiness. We confuse caring with controlling because we don’t know how to allow others the dignity of being themselves.

We can treat our loved ones as helpless babies who must be protected and helped. Such behavior is appropriate for a baby or young child. But we need to let go of doing that for the adults in our lives. As a child grows up, our love demands that we let them learn to do things for themselves and experience consequences, so that they will be able to live independently as adults.

In the suggested Al-Anon closing, we are told that

… though you may not like all of us, you’ll love us in a very special way— the same way we already love you.

It is also said that in recovery, “we love you until you can learn to love yourself.” What does this mean? We have learned to love ourselves as our higher power loves us – unconditionally – strengths, flaws, and all. And thus, we learn to see you as a lovable human being, struggling to recover from the effects of alcoholism or addiction, and we can love you just as you are.

Upcoming topics include recovery in divorce, and the “gifts of Al-Anon”. The first of these states, “We will become mature, responsible individuals with a great capacity for joy, fulfillment, and wonder. Though we may never be perfect, continued spiritual progress will reveal to us our enormous potential.” How is this gift coming true in your life? 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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Living with Lies – Episode 132

vultureDo you obsess over the thought that your loved one might be lying? Do you have to prove the lies? How do you find the ability to trust in recovery?

Julia joins Spencer to talk about lies, guided by these questions.

  • How have you been lied to (in relationships with an alcoholic or addict)?
  • How have you lied to yourself?
  • How did you react to lies prior to recovery?
    • Did you become angry? withdraw?
    • Did you deny them? Ignore them?
    • Did you make excuses for your loved one’s behavior?
    • What else?
  • Can you see your loved one’s lies as a symptom of the disease?
  • What tools have you used to stay “sane” when you are lied to? How?
    • Detachment?
    • Boundaries?
  • When does lying become a “deal breaker”?
  • How do you rebuild trust in your loved one?
  • Are there things you still can’t trust about them or your relationship?

Upcoming topics include the 4 L's, listen, learn, let go, and love; and Concepts of service 11 and 12. 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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Choice – a guest meditation from Brian

raft of medusa

 

 

This ain't no place for the weary kind
This ain't no place to lose your mind
This ain't no place to get left behind
Pick up your crazy heart and give it one more try

Ryan Bingham – The Weary Kind

 

Choice matters. I chose to come to the meeting tonight. My addict chooses to use. Choice matters.

Choice either moves us forward, backward, and sometimes by not choosing…we tacitly choose to remain where we are. Make no mistake choice matters.

The irrevocable truth  is that we are always keenly remember when we make that first and usually life altering choice….that first al anon meeting….that first Martini; that first cigarette, that first kiss, that first love.

Choice matters to everyone. The only thing we don't choose is the addicts in our life.  But we choose how to deal with them by first dealing with ourselves. Al anon is inherently good on how it deals with the bad.

The haunting Melody and Lyric of this work of art..this song called Crazy Heart has become my anthem is the well worn armour shielding   me from  the  baptism of fire we inappropriately name recovery.A state that has a beginning but no end.  Choice …a terrible beauty… matters.

In the art of Crazy Heart …the steel guitars cry endlessly into the black cold night. The twang of the icy steel  strings  reluctantly yet uncontrollably  drowns  us once again    deeper and deeper  into  the ocean abyss finally arriving at the bottom …. Home again….the bottom; the bone yard .piled high   with all the broken promises and unfulfilled dreams of wasted memory.

Some of us have already given up ….some in the process of given up….some of us want to give up. Yet we continue to come. We come week after week, month after month, and year after year. We come and we come and we come.

We come bent, broken on bended knee  …pleading, begging for some or something to drags out back into the light.

The broken spirit,hammered  again and again over  the anvils  of time , is as pure in form and nature   as the cold steel of the fearless samurai's blade. Behold the true disciple; with infinite heart and courage for all.

No matter what creed, no matter the different tale of love and loss….. yet always mystically the same clear unwavering yet always compassionate voice.

No advice  is given but instead  offered

Leave  the remnants of the moral carcass  of the pain and disillusionment in histories absente wake.

Words, rhyme,courage,and reason are all generously  enmeshed in the vibrant jungles of our mind .

The choice is ours. Choice in the beginning, choice in the end but choice in the present gets its due and proper.

The hardest and most difficult thing to see…. the only thing that comes to account is the here and now..

The lonely poets tears fill the cracks of our broken hearts. The random pieces of our soul begin the long painful crawl towards the completion of this puzzle branded choice.

This ain't no place for the weary kind
This ain't no place to lose your mind
This ain't no place to get left behind
Pick up your crazy heart and give it one more try

Gratitude.

A meditation for February 1, 2014.

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