Relapse and Red Flags


Or as they are called….Triggers

I wanted to talk about relapse for a moment. I have seen a lot of posts on the subject relapse and the struggles that people go through when they do relapse.  First off relapse does not have to be an option, but for me it was and I want to share how I got through it. Stop judging yourself and thinking about all the people you let down during your relapse. This brings on major guilt and keeps you from coming back to the tables of recovery. It will bring you no glory to sit and beat yourself up over a mistake that you made. Learning to forgive yourself and accepting that you are human is the very first step in recovery and will get you back around the tables much more quicker. If you sit in your crap long enough it will eat you alive and the disease will take you with it down the road of helplessness, hopelessness, and discontent.

When I had my first relapse I had to figure out why I relapsed. I would sit down with old timers for hours and pick their brains and they were more then happy to help me figure it out. You will find that most old timers only want to help and they are great for helping you along the way if you want a straight and honest answer. Don’t worry about then hurting your feelings because at this moment you are willing to o to any lengths, at least I know I was.

I had to figure out what was my red flags (trigger) and how where they going to save me? I had found out that I had not set up any healthy boundaries and I was only falling back onto what I knew before coming to the tables so I had to do some deep thinking about what made me react the way I did.

I didn’t not pick up the phone as soon as I started to relapse in my mind, second off I did not change my actions. Every time I was miserable or un happy I would just drive to the liquor store to pick up my favorite drink and start numbing the pain all over again instead of putting another action there. Look, nothing changes if nothing changes so I had to change my reaction to certain situations and if that called for me to drive to a meeting instead or in my case we had a local 12 step club that I could drive to and sit and release whatever feelings I had without feeling any shame because the people there knew exactly what I was going through.

You have to change your reaction.  So I made safety plans for myself. If I felt like I wanted to harm someone  or myself by drinking I had to change my reaction to it and by doing so it helped me. I was able to volunteer at our local 12 step club for 3 months and that kept me very busy and it made it easier for me to grow. If you dont have anything like this in your area find a local food bank, church, anything and volunteer some of that time you have to helping others. I promise it will help you stay sober.

Find out what your red flags are. Mine was family, chaos, loneliness, resentments  ect… Pin Point those red flags and write them down on paper and then make a safety plan for yourself.

EXAMPLE: ONE OF MY REAL LIFE SAFETY PLANS

When visiting my mothers home there was always gossip and negativity in her home. I hated it and it made me feel some kind of way so I decided that when me and my children would go there on holidays we would always have a safety plan, so I sat them all down and we discussed what we would do if we started to feel uncomfortable. I told my kids if I approached them at their grandmas and said ” it is time to leave”,  do not question me, lets just go. Then I told the kids if one of them started to feel uncomfortable they could approach me and say “we need to leave”, I would not question their feelings and we would go.

WOW….There is a solution to our problem with family.

Some people, places and situations are just not good for you and you need to figure out what they are and figure out a solution to dealing with those situations instead of falling back onto your old behavior.

Relapse is optional but if you truly want to live a Happy, Joyous, and Free life you MUST do the work.

I never judge a person on a relapse because I had several of them and every time I went back out I learned a new lesson. Some of us recovering alcoholics, addicts, whatever you may be need this process in order to learn and then some never, ever go back out again.

It has taken me many years to figure out a solution to all my problems today and if I don’t have a solution I don’t put myself in situations I don’t know how to handle but I can tell you, Today I have peace and serenity in my life because of the choices and solutions I have in my life today.

So with all this information I hope you have learned something about relapse.

Fight for your sobriety because you deserve it!

God Speed my Brother and Sisters

TNH

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Releasing Ego


Easing God Out

I have found through working the steps that I had a pride and ego problem. Me? Have a problem like that? Of course not. But as I soon got closer to the Third Step in the Big Book and 12X12 I realized it was so true. Releasing ego is not a simple step but it is a step that I can work on in my life on a 24 hour period. If I find myself getting defensive or feeling some type of  guilt and refusing to face it, I’m full of ego. When I feel these feelings today I know there is some type of step work I must do to get through the process of releasing my ego and then letting go. When I’m aware of my character defects I can work on them. So when I  find myself feeling selfish, self centered, self seeking, self pity, I most likely use the third step prayer to follow with letting go. This is not easy but with practice it become 2nd nature. I had to be willing to want to change because I was desperate enough. Besides, it’s really not just all about us. We must help another alcohol to truly be free. I love the zeal that new comers have when they have finally gotten it. You see a new freedom and happiness in them and they have no idea they have made changes. So with ego comes much practice learning that you are NOT the center of attention and not always is everything about you so dont take it too personal if you are a new comer around the tables.

EXAMPLE

Early on in my sobriety I was going to meetings and I wasn’t much of a talker. I would just sit and listen to the people talk and then all of a sudden I heard them speaking about situations I had been in and I thought “How do they know this about me”, “Did they call my family and get all this information on me”?

I was convinced that they were speaking to my family and friends and they were sharing all this information in the meetings when in fact they were speaking from their experiences, strength, and hope. So remember if you are a new comer, dont worry, no they did not contact your family or friends, they are just sharing from what they have experienced. Now you can relate.

God Speed my Brothers and Sister

TBH

If You Blog It They Will Come


I was always told to share my story, So I started this blog

I have been sharing some of my of past and some of my thoughts on recovery but I never thought in a million years that there would be so many others out there that can relate to my writings.  I guess that is what I get for thinking. It is always nice to know that you are not alone and that there are others that feel the same way you do.

I take breaks to go and read other blogs that have been posted and shared  and I’m finding out more and more that I dont have to struggle as much as I do in being honest and sharing because I’m not alone. I’m truly grateful for all of my readers, followers, and commentator’s. It helps me to stay humble, blessed, and compassionate. So for all of my readers that have visited my blog  I’m  grateful for you all. Please keep sharing with me as this gives me hope.  It is always nice to hear some of your stories.

Never, ever did I think t that there was so many kind and compassion hearts in so many people and for this I just want to say ” I’m Grateful”.

God Speed my Brothers and Sisters

TBH

Live By Example, Not Force By Self Will


Tradition Eleven—Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films.

  • 11. Awareness. (Seeking wisdom and God’s will for us) (Spirituality)

I have seen this many times by people around the tables. Too many people forcing their will upon new comers and seeing the new comer slowly leave from meetings.

My main point of sharing is to NOT to tell someone NOT to do something or “You better do this or you will relaps” and to do it MY way or you will die but to share my experience, strength, and hope  in a kind and compassionate way. From my experience this has worked for me and so I share what helped me. I understand that some people get worn out and frustrated and forget how the program of recovery works and they believe that some people need this militant type of discipline and they forget what it was like when they first walked into the doors of AA. I don’t see it going anywhere if I don’t show the same kind of compassion that was shown to me. Besides, when a person is ready, such as I was, they will be willing to go to any lengths to do whatever it takes to work on their sobriety.

It is sad to see new comers forced out the door from a person in recovery trying to force their will upon them. I choose to live by example today and if someone is attracted to that then it was meant to be. I dont jump on women when they first come in the door, I introduce myself and try to lighten the load for them because I know in the beginning it was hard for me to even be in the rooms of AA and I was not sure if I needed to be at an AA meeting with all those crazy people.  Lets just keep it simple and allow the new comer to first feel comfortable and safe coming to a meeting and not to force a new comer into doing a lot of step work in the beginning. I see this a lot in meetings and it saddens me to see a new comer leave because they were threatened or forced into following all these rules we have set for them.

I try to make an effort to let them know I’m not perfect and I do have a sense of humor today, and welcome the women and men. Give them some hope in the beginning not scare them to death.  So with all this said “Keep It Simple” my friends and set an example because when that new comer is ready they will come to you and if they are not ready well it was meant to be that way just for today.

So lets prayer to ask God to help us do his will and not our own and live by Tradition 11- Attraction rather then Promotion

God Speed my Brothers and Sisters

TBH

The Hardest Word I Learned To Say


Early on in my recovery I had a hard time setting boundaries, matter of fact I dont think I had any boundaries and if you had said healthy boundaries to me I would have asked you what that was or given you some off the wall explanation such as “I dont drive while I’m drunk”.

Today it is much easier for me to set healthy boundaries without feeling guilt.  Early on I had guilt all the time and never wanted to say NO because someone might not like me, or maybe think that I’m a bad person.  This is not the case anymore. I cant control how other people think or what they do and sometimes this may effect me or my spirituality so I have learned to say the word NO to set good healthy boundaries.

With working all the 12 steps and traditions you will find it becomes easier and easier to say but if you were a people pleaser such as I was in the beginning of my program and sobriety you will feel some guilt for saying NO. Just because you tell someone NO does not mean you have to be hateful, you can say it in a calm mannerly fashion.

Now be ready for the outcome because some people in your life are not use to you doing this, setting boundaries, especially family. You may get a negative reaction from them. I know with my children when I started saying the word NO I got a lot of flack from them but I know today this was not their fault because during my drinking days they were being the responsible parent, taking care of me and looking out for me and they were use to being in control. It is all part of changing and you will never know how family members will react from your change within yourself.

Life throws us all types of curve balls and we need to be spiritually ready and fit  to handle those curve balls. Family, I have found is the hardest to set these boundaries with but if you stick to your beliefs and stay focused on your sobriety the ones who truly love you will realize you are making some healthy changes in your life and they will support you. I always had to remember that I was not so responsible and reliable during my drinking days and my family was use to seeing me that way, taking care of me, and handling all the adult business, so it takes time for your family to recover from who you use to be and who you are now.

Yes, you will have to prove yourself to them, but if you are working the steps you will not see it this way. God gives us the strength to deal with any person, place, situation, or thing so we will not be discouraged. Saying the word “NO” for me today is letting someone know that they are not allowed to cross that boundary and that I respect myself today. Eventually the one’s you love will except this and love you for who you are.

So as we go out into the world today, learn to practice saying “NO”.

God Speed my Brothers and Sisters

TBH

Cant We All Just Get Along?


It’s hard for me to go around my family because I have made so many changes in my life and I have set some healthy boundaries. It is truly sad when you cant attend a birthday party, wedding, or birth of a child because you know your family will be there and you know it will just ruin the occasion that you are celebrating and you dont want to take from that special day. I have to say I feel sorry for them but at the same time very resentful also. They are very defensive and you cant just have a sit down normal conversation with them without the gossip flowing from their mouths. He said, she said, they said, you said and I dont live like that today. Besides it really brings my spirit down. I just want to sit and talk about the good things in life and share where they are at today and all the good things in life that are going on. That would make me happy but who wants happy with them when they can continue to point the finger and speak about others down and outs and feel good about themselves? I cant bring myself to participate in that anymore.  It’s just sad that their first thought is a hateful thought and not a kind or compassionate thought.

I dont wish any ill will towards my family and I would never intentionally hurt or harm them. Yes, I have heard some things about my family through a certain person who continues to speak to them and then me, but I don’t trust what she says and have to hear it for myself. I cant judge on gossip so I don’t.  There is ALWAYS a finger pointing contest when being around them and I just dont like going there. I have pointed many fingers myself and I know how that goes but today I know that if I’m judging others there will be 3 fingers pointing back at me and I just am done with the finger pointing contest. I have gotten a lot of flack from my family for writing this blog and for some reason they become defensive and threatening instead of encouraging me to heal and support me in a loving way for dealing with my past and moving forward. I guess it is hard for my mother to understand all the sexual abuse that has happened to me and she wants to live in denial of anything ever happening but how can you explain all the sexual abuse, physical abuse, and mental abuse. I remember it all and I’m trying to deal with it as best as I know how and what was suggested to me by my therapist in trying to heal. Where is that positive feed back that I need to move forward? I’m looking for approval that I will never get and never got my whole entire life.

So with this said I had to move on and not stay in a sick, unstable state of mind. That is where the boundaries came in. I dont agree with many things they do in their lives but I also dont choose to bring up their past an throw it in their faces. I choose to move on and have compassion for them Actually I feel sorry for them. It’s hard to live in denial and gossip. It has to be a consistent cycle of chaos and insanity where you never get anywhere but the exact place you started. I know because I lived that way before in my past. Upon working a program I let go of all that chaos and insanity and moved forward. My life is peaceful today with nothing but good things happening and I’m able to be a trustworthy, dependent person. I dont need to make you look bad just so I can feel good about myself. That is what I call “devils tool”.  It keep’s a person in a miserable place where they have no way out but to continue doing the same thing over and over again wishing things could change. The Jay Walker. I know that some of what I write in my blog may hurt feelings but I cant lie, I have to share the truth in order to move on. So if this hurts my relationship’s with my family my intentions are not to hurt them but for me to heal. Healing is what helps me to move forward.  God knows my intentions and I have no ill will or harm in any of my thoughts or words. All I have is compassion. So with all of this said, cant we all just get along? Why all the fuss and finger pointing, and trying to hurt or harm another person? A person that is your daughter, mother, sister, brother, father, aunt, uncle, cousin. Let bygones be bygones and lets move forward. It takes what it takes and everyone is so quick to point the finger but if I bring something up, the truth, I’m punished for doing so. Get over yourself because life is too short to continue to live as if you are perfect and never made a mistake in your life. Abandon yourself to God, forgive and move forward. It is the only way.

We should NEVER be made to fell guilty for the truth or how we feel.

God Speed My Brothers and Sisters

TBH

Humility


Sometimes I find that doing the right thing is hard. A I had a bit of a disagreement with a new comer last week and right in the middle of the meeting I corrected her. Then of course I had gotten the response I did not want but by that time I really did not care. I knew I was in the wrong for cross talking but I just had this feeling come over me and I could not control my erge to correct her. I get discouraged when I hear someone has been coming around the table’s for 2 years and all they have to talk about is others. The woman shared that she worked at a gas station in a small town and that she knew who had drinking problems, who was on probation, and who was in AA and continued to share how she would proceed to tell them since they have a problem they did not need the alcohol. Well this made my blood biol since this woman had 2 years of sobriety and takes it upon herself to point out others problems at her job. Who gives any of us the right to harm people in this way? I caught the woman after the meeting and asked her why she would do this and she proceeded to tell me it was her job to tell them that they have a problem.

First off if I have worked most of the steps I would not be in a place to point others flaws out to them. I have no need to look at you and judge you, matter fact I have compassion in my heart for you no matter what situation.  Remember folks when we get to the point that we look at others backyards and not our own we start to fall back into our old ways and out old thinking which leads us to relapse.  The best ACTION to take is to live by example. Attraction NOT promotion. I can not fix you but I can show you how my life has changed through working the steps. Dont get comfortable in taking others inventory because it really is a dangerous place to be.

Stay Humble,  Compassionate, and focused on you.

NOTE: I wrote this post a few months ago over the summer of 2013 but never finished it. Since editing this post today the woman soon went back out and has not returned back to the tables. My thoughts are, I will keep her in my prayers and have the compassion for her that she could not show towards others.

God Speed my Brothers and Sisters

TBH

A New Day


Some days I have things happen in my life that are compactly out of my control and I have no idea how to deal with the situation. It could be something as small as a person being mad at me to someone talking about me, to chaos and insanity. Today I get that gut feeling. It took me a while in working the steps to get that instinct but I have it now. I do not want to allow others to take me down with them so I choose to focus on myself and prayer for the strength to get through what ever circumstance it may be. I’m an alcoholic and sometimes allow outside influences to dampen my spirits so I really need to stay close to God and ask him to please help me to do his will and not mine.  When I find myself getting anxious or over whelmed I can find a quiet place and ask God to please help me to do his will and not mine.  I also pray asking God to please take that feeling away from me. All I can do today is use the tools that were given to me and when I dont I become un-useful to others and myself. Sometimes I have to realize that it is not always about me and that I need to focus on myself and move forward. This is easier said then done but if I do choose to apply the program it does get easier and eventually everyone around you will notice the change.  The 12 Steps and 12 Traditions are there for a reason and if I keep turning over my will and working the steps the promises will come true. So in today I will ask God to please give me the strength to do his will and not mine and pray that I’m not selfish or self centered. Let me be useful to others.

God Speed my Brothers and Sisters

TBH

Willingness


“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.”

12 X 12 page 40

Sometimes it takes a while  to sit in my own pain until I become willing to do the next right thing to remove that pain. Willingness is a good tool in sobriety to have. As you start to apply it in your life you find that you become more and more free. Willingness means I will do  what ever it is  I have to do to remove that pain. I went to any lengths to get that drink or drug so I have to be willing to go to any lengths to keep my sobriety.  It could be a resentment, family, job, friend, ect…  If I do the work I need to do on my part the promises tell me I will know a new freedom and a new happiness. It is when we try to make our will conform with God’s that we begin to use it rightly. There is an inner peace that you will have that you thought you would never be able to achieve. If your read Step 3 in the 12X12 it really gives you the tools to be able to work on yourself and move forward. Sometime’s it take’s me a minute but if I just apply willingness just for today I will know that inner peace. Don’t give your power away to anyone or anything. You deserve to be clean and sober and  you are earning that seat so take whatever it is in every meeting you go to and apply that in your life.

Just Be Willing.

3RD STEP PRAYER

Big Book page 63

God, I offer myself to Thee To build with me & to do with me as Thou wilt.

Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will.

Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy love & Thy way of life.
May I do Thy will always.

God Speed my Brothers and Sisters

TBH

Happy 4th Step


” Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. “

I love doing small 4th steps as I get older in sobriety, it gives me a way to really look at myself and what kind of changes I can make in my life.

Most people are afraid of a 4th step, I was terrified the first  time I did a 4th step because I was afraid that I would leave something out of it and would have to go back and redo my 4th step. That was not the case of course, “More will be revealed”.  I was lucky enough to keep it simple but to put my whole entire life’s worth of resentments that I could remember into a huge notebook. As I wrote my columns, names, causes, effects, and where I was wrong I soon started to feel more and more free. My thoughts as I continued to write where “What would my sponsor think of me”?  “I’m such a terrible person”, but as I kept writing I was realizing that not all resentments where all everyone’s fault. I finally realized that I was blaming others for my happiness. Willing to forgive is one of the MOST important tools I think I learned in AA and it was not only a freeing tool but a tool that I would be able to use on myself and others.

Once I handed over my 4th step to my sponsor she proceeded to tell me to burn it. WHAT, Burn it? I couldn’t believe I did all that work for nothing. We still had our sit down and discussion on my 4th step and I was finally learning how to accept my mistakes, forgive myself and move on. It was not for nothing because I had become a person that I respected and accepted. I had a whole new attitude and outlook on life.

Early in sobriety doing a 4th step sounded scary to me, I guess it was all that work I would have to do and I wondered if I would do it right or would I be able to put everything into my 4th step worrying that I would be judged by all the mistakes I had made in my past. This was not the case at all. I was the one that had to take that look at myself and ask God to please help me in forgiving myself and others.

Today I try to apply a 4th step in my life that is needed. Some will tell you that you will never have to do a 4th step again but in my case I know when I need to do a 4th step pretty much right away. I’m an alcoholic and always in need of doing step work. I call them mini 4th steps. When I’m in pain or holding a resentment that is a red flag for me and so I have to consistently apply the tools I was given in my life or I could die and that is all the reason I need to do the work. My 4th steps are not as big as my very first one but I can tell you when you find selfishness, pride, ego, resentments creeping up on you if you don’t do the work you could relapse or die.

I Love my life today and would not want to live it any other way. God has Blessed me with so many good people in my life and he has given me the tools to live by so I’m going to use them. I earned my seat in AA and I will continue to keep my seat warm no matter how much work it takes on myself as I have been forgiven and I’am free today. Nothing can be more satisfying.

God Speed my Friends

TBH

EXAMPLE OF A MINI 4TH STEP

Dad – Abandoned me                           insecurity

Mom  –  denies past                               hurts me

Sister  –  intentional harm                  no trust

Daughter  –  lie’s, cheats, steals        guilt, shame, trust

Friend  – gossips                                    trust, resentful

NOTE: Never do a 4th step alone. Always share your 4th step with your sponsor.