Tuesday, June 23, 2009
The specifics of the relationship that finally provoked me to do this step again are much less important than the theme that emerged as I examined the patterns that it embodied. It was the same overarching character defect that had come to light as my #1 shortcoming when I did my 4th step the first time around: a lack of humility.
This had manifested itself most obviously in the relationships I had with the circle of addicts who I employed and kept off the streets when I was dealing drugs. I couldn’t understand why they all ended up being resentful of me. Working with my sponsor, I recognized that it went much deeper than my enabling of their addictions. I’d taken away their right to make their own mistakes and face the consequences of their own actions. Under the guise of playing Robin Hood, I played God. And just as I had to learn accountability for my own actions the hard way, with a stint in prison, they had to go on their own journeys without my “help”—some into sobriety, some not.
It took me a while to see my lack of humility in this second 4th step. I had to break down my behavior to a few recurring tendencies, for example, making a chemistry more intense in my mind than it was in reality; writing scripts in my head for myself and others to follow (which they never did of course); expending untold energy figuring out what you were thinking instead of just asking you. I began to see that I played God by not allowing God to operate in my relationships. What about trusting if someone likes you on Tuesday, they’ll probably like you on Thursday? What about having faith that perhaps you were having the very relationship you two were meant to have?
As I completed this process, it occurred to me that if I didn’t know myself nearly as well as I thought, that perhaps I might not know others as well as I’d assumed either. I began to question how I approached all sorts of relationships, not just the romantic ones. Why not try to let others reveal themselves to me instead of being so busy forming opinions about them as soon as I can? I began to get comfortable with being in the present instead of projecting into the future, which immediately reduced the expectations that so often created disappointment.
If acting your way into right thinking is an essential tool in early sobriety, step work allows you to start changing your behavior by changing your thinking as well. As I’ve discovered a willingness to approach relationships with greater humility, I’ve already experienced a shift in how these relationships unfold. “I don’t know” has become three of the most powerful words I can use.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
That bugged me. I wanted to do it all and get it done ASAP. But he made me think it through when writing out each of my resentments so that I slowed down to understand the process better. I was forced to take time to reflect on the first 3 columns over and over. I had to think long and hard about my resentments and not rush. His instructions made me reflect deeply on who I resented, why I resented them and why it really bothered me.
After he reviewed Columns 1-3 with me, he then told me how to write out Columns 4 and 5 paying special attention to my fears. Frankly, I had never understood how my fears had anything to do with my resentments. But my sponsor was right. When I told him what fears I had written down, he didn't let me stop there. He pushed me to look at the core of what my fears were all about. Each step of the process was a revelation that opened my mind to exactly where I had been wrong.
My fears led me to behave in ways that were destructive not just to others, but also to myself. Understanding the connection between the two in a very specific way is profoundly liberating. Going through the process of looking at each resentment and the fears behind them taught me tools that I can use everyday in practical ways.
The game of fear and resentment is a vicious cycle, but it is one that only I can break. Holding onto a resentment never hurts the person we intend it to hurt. It only hurts us and hinders our own progress in life. We end up doing lifelong damage to ourselves more than anyone else.
The process of seeing my part in my own resentments and what my fears behind them are is going to save me from a lifetime of misery, bitterness and suffering. Now I understand the power of the Fourth Step as a way of seeing my own self-destructive behavior and changing it from within.
A night of Happy, Joyous and Fierce Comedy to benefit LA CMA DISTRICT with some of the funniest people in comedy.
Betsy Salkind, Mary Kennedy, Adam Barnhard Paul Jacek
With Your Hosts: Lotta Slots and Patrick Marks
Friday, June 26th 7 pm PRE SALE TICKETS ONLY
Plummer Park Fiesta Hall
7377 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90046
You will be ROFLYAO for sure!
Sunday, June 14, 2009
While in recovery, there are a lot of feelings already in my prescription for life. Dealing with feelings of worthlessness, shame, anger, and fear regarding my behavior and wreckage has been paramount to my recovery from crystal meth. It is these same feelings that made my drug use justifiable, in-my-mind, and fueled my fuck-everything-and-run attitude. Before recovery this behavior became my reaction to almost all of my life circumstances even though nothing could be changed. Crossing into recovery, having clearly defined and untangled these feelings about my past behavior, they still remain relevant to my maintenance because I still have the same feelings today. The response to life events can still trigger the same deep feelings from my early addict behavior. Being in recovery gives me the ability to be aware when events trigger my old unjustified feelings.
Calling my sponsor and attending a meeting was the first action in my recovery program following a major trigger such as this hit-and-run. Working through my feelings involves writing them down and carefully looking at them to sort the distortion from the gratitude. There was gratitude in this circumstance because it wasn’t me doing the damage. The car damage was caused through no action of my own. My conscience remains clear today. With that declaration, there was a chance for me to move quickly into forgiveness. Forgiving the person who caused the damage to my car can best be described as forgiving myself during my addict behavior. I forgive them because I need to be forgiven for doing destructive things, in a similar fashion.
Finding forgiveness and gratitude among tough circumstances are examples of applied recovery. Overcoming my addiction remains paramount.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Thank you to everyone who attended the district meeting on saturday. It was a great meeting and with all of the big changes coming up including the changing of the guard in which a new chairperson will step in, I just wanted to say thank you for all of the hard work everyone has done over the last 2 years.
So, on with the show, as they say. The comedy show LOL 4 A Cause, is on track for June 26th at 730pm in Fiesta Hall of Plummer Park. Tickets will be pre-sale only. If you havent gotten tickets yet to sell at your meeting, please call Victor at 323-401-7760 or myself (Dale) at 323-244-8949 and we will make sure that you get some tickets to sell. The show is going to be hot! People will be talking about this one for a long time. With professional comics like Leslie Jordan, Bobby Lee, Adam Barnhardt, Mary Kennedy, Sarah Hyland, and Paul Jacek, it is bound to be a happy, joyous and fierce night of stand up. And, when you add to that lineup, the hosts Lotta Slots (Jeffrey Drew) and Patrick Marks, we are going to have fun.
Also, there is a great event coming up in Orange County called the "Crystal Clean Fest" Saturday June 20th in Costa Mesa at the Community Center at 1845 Park st. The festival goes from 10 am until midnight with marathon meetings till 6, Dinner, a speaker and a dance to follow. the whole thing is only 25 dollars and tickets can be purchased at www.crystalcleanfest.com[
The Hospitals and Institutions meeting is a great way to find out how to be of service to those who cant get to a meeting or better yet, it is a great way for your sponsee to be of service! When they get 6 months, send them down to the West Hollywood Recovery Center on the 2nd Saturday of the month at 1pm to sign up to speak on a panel and then hang out and learn more about the way that this committee works.
We are now weighing the options for a retreat next year and soon we will narrow down the facilities that we are considering for our spiritual outing. Stay tuned.
I will be in touch with updates about ticket sales and any other news coming up in the district.
Just a reminder to all that with the rise of Facebook and other networking sites it is very important that we protect CMA by not mentioning it by name on our personal pages or blogs. We should never connect our face and name with the letters CMA in a public forum. For instance a photo album should never be titled, "Johns 3rd CMA birthday party" or "Pictures from the CMA fundraiser" Just a reminder that anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all of our traditions.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
I was ashamed of being a drug addict. Especially a meth addict. (Coke was so much more glamorous.) I was especially ashamed that I was an IV user. Good little boys don't shoot up. I was ashamed to have contracted HIV; I was high when it happened. I had withdrawn from my family and friends during my addiction, and caused them no account of pain and worry. I was in debt. Bankrupt. But too high to even show up for the court proceedings that would allow me to start fresh. I was ashamed that I'd let clients down, disappearing for months, doing questionable work, and just being unprofessional. And I relapsed. Repeatedly. My last run began while I was the secretary of not one but two CMA meetings. I just stopped showing up for my commitments.
My addiction can help explain all of these shameful actions, but it can't excuse them. So how can I heal? How can I feel worthy? The 12 steps and a good therapist have taught me that I must first and foremost forgive myself and then strive to earn forgiveness from those I have harmed. I will always have HIV and it will, to some extent be part of me for the rest of my life. I can best deal with that reality by leading a healthy lifestyle and remaining sober. I must be honest and open and reveal my deepest secrets to remain free of self-hatred. And most importantly, I must seek to maintain a spiritual connection, a faith that I am loved and worthy of being loved.
By surrendering completely, practicing acceptance and gratitude in everything I do, I will live each sober day in the hope of making the world a slightly better place for me and every being I encounter (that’s a nod to my priceless dog.)
So now when those shameful feelings come and I feel that tightening in my heart, and the voice in my head wants me to believe that I am damaged goods, that I am the bad things I have done...I simply take a deep breath and repeat to myself: "You have a disease, Richard. You did the best you could. I love you and I forgive you."
Thursday, June 4, 2009
However, if you want a safe place to socialize with other sober people, Sobar, at Here Lounge, on the 1st Sunday of the month, is a fun place to go.
1-4 pm, and the proceeds benefit recovery homes in the LA area.
Monday, June 1, 2009
Just a quick reminder that our monthly meeting will be this Saturday June 6th at 10 am. For various reasons we decided to have the meeting a week earlier than usual and so I hope that it is not too much of a disruption and all of you can be there. As usual it will be at 10 am with a new GSR orientation at 9:30 for new GSR's. We are in Art Room 2 again which is in the main building closest to Santa Monica Blvd.
We will have tickets available to take back to your meetings for the Benefit Comedy Show coming up on June 26th. LOL 4 A CAUSE, will be featuring Leslie Jordan (Will and Grace), Bobby Lee (Mad TV), Adam Barnhardt (Comedy Store) Sarah Hyland, Mary Kennedy and Paul Jacek (Conan O'Brien) (Comedy Store)
These tickets are a recessionary 10.00 so they will go fast.
See you at the meeting Saturday.