Do you like yourself? – Episode 279

Do you like yourself?
Can you love yourself?
Can you trust yourself?

In a recent meeting, the topic was Step 5, “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” One member shared that she often had a hard time even liking herself, and that this was a barrier to working Step 5. If she hated herself for some of the things she had done, how could she ever admit them out loud?

I definitely identified with that feeling. There are some events in my life that I felt a lot of shame about. That I did not admit in my first 5th step. One, in particular, that I didn’t admit in my second 5th step, had haunted me for over 30 years. Every time I remembered that incident, a flush of shame and self-loathing washed over me. Finally, probably after a meeting in which the reading included the saying that “we are only as sick as our secrets,” I realized I had to talk about it. I met with the person I had done that 5th step with and said “I’ve got some more.”

It wasn’t easy. I had admitted it to my Higher Power and to myself, but never to another person. But it was something I felt I had to do. The amazing thing is that since that time, the memory of this event has lost its power over me! I’m still not pleased that it happened, but I don’t feel the shame that it used to impose on me. That hard admission brought me some peace and some more love and compassion for myself. Even for the 40-years-younger me that made a really poor decision (doing the best with what he had.)

And then, a day later, the sermon topic was “Trust Thyself”. Oh, boy, there’s a message: loving myself and trusting myself, all in the same weekend. You know, the feelings I have that lead me to not like myself and to not trust myself are very similar. You’ve probably heard those messages from the judgey part of yourself, too: “You’re not good enough.” “You can’t do it right.” “You can’t do it at all.” “You’re always wrong.” “You’re so stupid.” “What were you thinking? I can’t believe you’d do that!” And so on, and so on.

In her sermon, our minister presented the “4 Cs” of trusting yourself. Well, I’m a sucker for alliterations, so I perked right up! What are these 4 Cs?

Clarity: Seeing ourselves and the world for what we (and it) really are. In the program, this is Step 4 (probably 5, 6, and 7 too.) Also, Steps 8 and 9 bring more clarity.

Connection: Get out of my isolation. I know that I can’t always see myself clearly, and I need someone else to help me. In other words, go to a meeting, call a friend, get a sponsor (and use them!) And, of course, there’s the connection to a Higher Power we find in Steps 2 and 3!

Compassion: This is also about getting out of myself. When I can have compassion for other people, and when I can identify with their fears and pain, but also their joys and successes, then I can start to see the same in myself. And I can start to have compassion for myself. I would never talk to someone else the way that I sometimes talk to myself.

Commitment: Make a commitment to keep away from the negative self-talk, to continue to work on the first 3 Cs. Step 10 is my commitment to continuing to seek clarity. Steps 11 and 12 are commitments to connection and compassion.

Yup, there’s the recovery part of the program (steps 2-12) captured in 4 Cs. How did this work in my Step 5 experience?

I gained clarity by taking an inventory of the incident. What was motivating me? Which of my needs were involved? I began to understand the “exact nature of my wrongs” in this incident. In talking with my friend, I got a little more clarity as I explained what happened, but I also made connection with another person — I was not alone. That person’s loving acceptance of my sharing deepened that connection, and assured me that I was not a broken person. This helped me to have compassion for my previous self. And you know what? I liked myself a little better. And I trusted myself to be able to do the right thing a little more.

Readings and links

I read from Courage to Change, May 22 and January 24.

After the service, I was talking to the  minister and she mentioned Brené Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection, Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. I was pretty sure I had mentioned that here, and indeed: episode 122, Imperfection.

Upcoming

Thinking about acronyms and alliterations as a topic. You know, acronyms like QTIP, FEAR, etc. Alliterations like “3 As”, “4 Ms”, etc. What is your favorite Al-Anon acronym or alliteration? Why? 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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Trust and Trustworthy – Episode 228

Do you have trouble trusting other people? Do you have people you trust?  How do you know they are trustworthy?

  • What is trust?
    • firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. (Dictionary.com)
  • Do you have or have had trouble trusting other people?
  • Do you have people you trust?  How do you know they are trustworthy?
  • Do you have a Higher Power you can trust?
  • What is the difference between trust and faith or is there a difference?
  • If we developed an ability to trust, how have we done that?  with meetings?  the program/steps?  the tools? slogans? (I find that each of these has a role in developing trust).
  • Can you trust yourself?
  • Can others trust you?
  • When I don’t trust someone what am I feeling?
    • Fear.
    • Fear of being judged – ties in with perfectionism, low self esteem, unloveable
    • Fear of being hurt – emotionally, physically, intentionally and unintentionally.
  • Trust to me is having the confidence that another person is not going to harm me intentionally.
    • Sometimes the lack of trust is an issue on my side of the street
    • Sometimes the other person has not shown themselves to be trustworthy
    • Often I would assume that I couldn’t trust someone to be thoughtful of me because of my past experiences or my way of thinking.
  • Slogans / Tools for building trust:
    • One Step/Day at a Time (Tincture of Time)
    • Act as If in less important situations
    • Keep an Open Mind (helps with jumping to conclusions, esp. About negative intent)
    • Let it begin with me
  • Building others' trust in me
    • Traditions – learning to co-exist with others
    • Concepts – learning to work in an organization

Upcoming topics include parenting, being the sober parent, and being the parent of an addict or alcoholic. 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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Daddy’s Medicine – Brinn Black – Episode 200

Brinn Black is a singer and songwriter from Nashville. She wrote a song, Daddy's Medicine, about her experience growing up with an alcoholic father. Our conversation with Brinn was guided by these questions:

Brinn, I have to say that the first few lines just grabbed my heart:

When you're five you don't know
there's a stranger in your home
it's quiet but it's dangerous.
But a child's heart can tell
the meaning of a yell

Although I did not grow up in a home with alcoholism, my children did. I saw their life from the outside, but not the inside.

What inspired you to write this song?

Can you tell us more about your experience as a child with an alcoholic father?

You have said “it tore your family apart” — did he, or the rest of you, leave because of the drinking?

I used to think that my love could conquer alcoholism. So I find the lyrics of the chorus particularly poignant:

How different my life would have been
if my love were stronger than
my Daddy's medicine.

I believe that these lines express the wish and hope of every one of us who has experienced the pain of living with active alcoholism. How did you mean these lines when you wrote them?

How has this song helped you and your family to heal?

How has this song been received when you perform it?

Where do you find yourself in your journey to recovery from your childhood experience?

What has helped you in this struggle?

Many of my listeners are still living with the effects of alcoholism. What would you say to someone who grew up affected by alcoholism, and is still working to “get over it”?

Our topic for next week is “in all our affairs”. How do you use your recovery tools and principles in your daily 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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Right of Decision – Episode 110

StairsDo you have trouble letting others make decisions? Do you second guess your own decisions? Spencer and Akilah discuss the “right of decision”, as expressed in Al-Anon's 3rd concept of service, “The right of decision makes effective leadership possible.”

  • What is “the right of decision?”
  • How do we use the right of decision in the program?
    • Example from Spencer’s home group: the “chair” chooses the person who gives the lead each week.
    • GR, delegates to assembly, etc.
  • How do we use the right of decision in our own lives?
    • From Paths to Recovery (pg. 265): “In our own lives, the right of decision means we have the right to proceed in the best way we know and to ask for help when it is needed.”
  • How does this concept connect with Tradition 2? (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.) With Step 3? (Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.)
  • Can I make a decision and be comfortable with it? If not, why not?
  • Do I ever ask someone to do a task and then try to direct the details of how it should be done? If so, how can I change this pattern?
  • The 3rd concept section of the AA 12, 12 and 12 study guide starts with the statement “We serve by acting on our conscience through our “Right of Decision” and we trust others when they exercise their ‘Right of Decision.”
  • Am I acting in any area of my life that is contrary to my own conscience?
  • Am I mistrustful of the decisions of others in authority over me?
  • Am I demanding that anyone else act contrary to their conscience in order to please me?
  • From Paths to Recovery: Is [concept three] not letting go and letting God?


Reference: 12, 12 and 12 study guide on Concept 3: http://1212and12.org/homework/concepts/1212and12_concept_3.pdf

Upcoming topics include parenting, caretaking, and fun. 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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Letting go of the process – Episode 105

Do you want to do recovery “your way”? Are you skipping steps because you don’t like them? Can you let go of control? Spencer and Harriet talk about letting go of the process.

  • Harriet, can you explain what you meant by “letting go of the process” when you suggested this topic?
  • How do/did you try to control your recovery?
    • obsessively doing the things we *can* do
    • overdoing self-care
  • What parts of it do/did you particularly not want to let go of?
    • “character defects” — I want them removed in my order
    • outcomes
    • comfort in maintaining the illusion of control over my own life
  • Why?
  • How does letting go help your recovery? Your peace of mind?
    • focusing on control of outcomes is a “fool’s errand” and makes my life unmanageable
    • It frees me to focus on the things I can control
    • Frees me to do self-care
  • What blocks you from letting go?
    • impatience
    • perfectionism
    • Not wanting to feel unpleasant feelings
    • judgement and shame
    • fear
    • expectations
  • What ways have you found to let go?
    • Prerequisite – Accept who and where I am right now.
    • Being open to the universe — humility
    • Work with a sponsor
    • Prayer
    • Meditation
    • what else?
  • What do you still struggle with letting go of?
  • What would you say to a newcomer who isn’t sure the program will work for them?

Upcoming topics include caretaking and parenting. We are particularly interested in hearing your experiences of parenting in an alcoholic family. How do you talk to your children about alcoholism? What amends have you made to your children? If your spouse is still drinking, what do you do to keep your children safe?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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