Say Yes! to Life – Episode 155

surf!Last weekend, I drove back to the city I grew up in, to attend a memorial service for a childhood friend. As family and friends shared their memories of my friend, I reflected on the ways we say “Yes!” to life in the presence of death. This week, I am re-issuing episode 76, Loss, with a new title. The original notes for that episode follow.

What do you do when you lose someone close to you? How can I use the tools we have learned in the program to get through a loss? I was inspired to this topic by a tragic, accidental death in the past week. It brought me to reflect on the nature of loss, on how loss affects me and those close to me, and how my response to loss is so different now than it was before I came into the program. I used this outline as a guide for my musings.

  • The story.
  • How did I deal with loss in the past?
    • Stuff it
    • Ignore it
    • Numb it
    • Isolate
  • Other kinds of loss?
    • Loss of dreams
    • Loss of friendship
      • Separation and divorce
  • Fear of Loss
  • How has the program helped me to deal with loss?
    • Feel it.
    • Acceptance.
    • Gratitude for what was.
    • Grief process — acknowledge it.
    • Less guilt.
  • How to deal with loss and grief
    • Take care of self
    • Prayer
    • Ask for help
    • Talk about it
    • One Day at a Time
    • Letting go

Our topic for next week is new topic. 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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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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My gratitude list (2015)

SunriseAround the time of the American Thanksgiving holiday, I think about the things I am grateful for. I have found the “alphabetical gratitude list” to be a useful tool in cultivating an attitude of gratitude.

A — I am grateful for Age. Youth was fun, and there are times I wish I was young again. The perspective, experience, and, yes, wisdom that come with age are irreplaceable.

B — I am grateful for my Brother. He inspires me with his joy and engagement in life. He has faced challenges, setbacks, and disability with grace and acceptance. And yet, he continues to engage and celebrate what he has.

C – I am grateful for Children. I am grateful for my children, who have brought so much joy and challenges into my life. I am grateful for others' children, who are our future, and who keep my life from stagnating.

D – I am grateful for my Dog. He loves me unconditionally, but is also straightforward about making his needs known.

E – I am grateful for Electricity. It makes my life comfortable, and I wouldn't be able to do most of what I do without it.

F – I am grateful for Fall.

G – I am grateful for my Grandparents, who are no longer physically in my life, but who were a big part of my childhood, teaching me to appreciate the outdoors, and who loved me and supported me in a way different from my parents.

H – I am grateful for my Health. While I have issues, I am able-bodied and generally healthy.

I – I am grateful for Ice Cream. I enjoy its cool, smooth texture, and its melting deliciousness.

J – I am grateful for Junk. I am starting to be able to get rid of the junk I have accumulated in my life, and that is a good thing.

K – I am grateful for my Kitchen. I love to cook, to create wonderful flavors and to provide for my needs and those of my family.

L – I am grateful for Love. It is a gift to both give and receive love, and to be able to love myself whole heartedly.

M – I am grateful for my Mother. With her aging, she is teaching me to accept the now, rather than wishing for what was.

O – I am grateful for Others. Life would be easier without them, but it would also be infinitely more boring.

P – I am grateful for Podcasting. Doing the podcast has deepened my recovery and my appreciation of life. It has also brought some amazing people into my life, who I would never have met otherwise.

Q – I am grateful for Questions. As long as there are things I do not know, or do not understand, I continue to grow. When I have no more questions, I will be dead.

R – I am grateful for the color Red. It is bright and cheerful.

S – I am grateful for Silence. In the silence, I can hear that still, small voice within. In the silence, I can calm my “monkey mind”.

T – I am grateful for Transitions. Change is life, and life is change. Transition can be uncomfortable, but is also inevitable. I can reject it and be miserable, or accept it, live into it, and revel in it as I move into a new phase of living.

U – I am grateful for Underwear. It makes my life more comfortable.

V – I am grateful for Vision, both literal and figurative. My vision enables me to enjoy the lovely sunrise this Thanksgiving morning. My vision enables me to look ahead and to envision a new future.

W – I am grateful for Water. Water to drink is a necessity of life. Water as stream, river, lake, or ocean connects me to something larger than myself.

X – I am grateful for Xerography. Without it, there would be no copy machine, no laser printer. It also reminds me of a family friend who worked for Xerox, and who was a model for me in my professional life.

Y – I am grateful for Yams. We will enjoy this sweet, orange vegetable as part of our Thanksgiving dinner.

Z – I am grateful for Zest. A bit of lemon zest adds sparkle to a dish or a drink. A bit of zest adds sparkle to my life.

Gratitude – Episode 129

DSC_0053Have you heard someone say they were grateful for the alcoholics in their life? How do you practice gratitude? Can you find gifts in the “punishments” of your life?

I reflect on gratitude while walking in the woods on a beautiful fall day.

  • (How) can I say I am grateful for my loved one’s alcoholism?
    • it is part of who she is — her personality
    • I am the person I am now
  • (How) can I find gratitude for pain in my life.
    • Colbert: “‘You have to learn to love the bomb.’ It took me a long time to really understand what that meant. It wasn’t ‘Laugh it off.’ No, it means what it says. You gotta learn to love when you’re failing… The embracing of that, the discomfort of failing in front of an audience, leads you to penetrate through the fear that blinds you. Fear is the mind killer.”
    • “What punishments of God are not gifts? … So it would be ungrateful not to take everything with gratitude. It doesn’t mean you want it. I can hold both of those ideas in my head.”
    • ”It’s our choice whether to hate something in our lives or to love every moment of them, even the parts that bring us pain. At every moment, we are volunteers.”
    • http://www.gq.com/story/stephen-colbert-gq-cover-story
  • What am I grateful for today.
    • I have a home to live in and food to eat and energy to keep me comfortable.
    • I have a family who loves me and who I love.
    • My body-self is reasonably healthy, despite the minor aches and pains I complain of daily.
    • The day is beautiful, crisp, clear with bright fall colors.
    • I have a program that helps me to grow spiritually and to become more of the person I want to be.
    • I am the sum of my live experiences. I would not be who I am without them.
  • What are you grateful for today? Can you find gifts in your “punishments”?

Upcoming topics include living with lies; clearing a path; and recovering from the death of a loved one who did not find recovery. 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.

Imperfection – Episode 122

perfectDo you feel that you have to be perfect? Do you go through life as if you're on a stage? Is it hard to have compassion and love for yourself? Let's talk about imperfection.

This episode was inspired by the book, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, by Brené Brown. The gifts of imperfection, according to Brown, are courage, compassion, and connection. And with them, we can begin to live whole-heartedly.

Think back to your first meeting. How did you find the courage to walk in? How do you now find the courage to openly speak of what is happening in your heart and soul? We practice courage every day, and with it we can begin to embrace our imperfection.

I found compassion for myself as I worked the steps, and in particular as I worked the steps in the company of others. I was able to see my wholeness, to see that I was not uniquely flawed, and to start to accept myself as I was and to find compassion for myself as an imperfect person. And in finding compassion for myself, I could more easily “suffer with” (have compassion for) others.

And the last is not least: connection was the first thing I found in Al-Anon. At the end of my first meeting, I was no longer alone in my struggle and fear and desperation. I found connection, soul-deep connection, with others who were walking my journey. This connection, more than anything, kept me coming back.

What blocks us from living with a whole heart? Brown suggests 10 “guideposts”, each described as a positive attribute, and also described in term of letting go. This resonates strongly with me, because the first slogan I adopted from Al-Anon was “Let Go”. (“Let God” came later.) What are these guideposts?

  1. Authenticity (Letting go of what people think)
  2. Self-Compassion (Letting go of Perfectionism)
  3. Resilient Spirit (Letting go of numbing and powerlessness)
  4. Gratitude and Joy (Letting go of scarcity and fear of the dark)
  5. Intuition and Faith (Letting go of the need for certainty)
  6. Creativity (Letting go of comparison)
  7. Play and Rest (Letting go of exhaustion=status and productivity=self-worth)
  8. Calm and Stillness (Letting go of anxiety as a lifestyle)
  9. Meaningful work (Letting go of self-doubt and “supposed to”)
  10. Laughter, Song and Dance (Letting go of being cool and in control) 

Upcoming topics include some more Concepts of service, and Al-Anon Dreams. A reader wrote in asking about intervention. If you have had experience with doing an intervention with a loved one, and you would like to share that experience, please call or email. I would love to put together an episode of The Recovery Show on intervention. 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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