A Note on Self-pity from Chris Raymer
Chris Raymer, VP of Recovery Services
“Self-pity is one of the most unhappy and consuming defects that we know. It is a bar to all spiritual progress and can cut off all effective communication with our fellows because of its inordinate demands for attention and sympathy. It is a maudlin form of martyrdom, which we can ill afford.” – Bill W.
Love that quote! I spent a whole bunch of my youth waiting around for things to change so I could “finally” be okay. I wish I could blame it all on my drinking. Most of y’all have heard my story… After years of therapy, meds, and meetings, I finally found some hope in a meeting I’d never been to before. I will always be grateful for those folks that grabbed me that cold November night in ’87. They opened the book and showed me what the symptoms of alcoholism looked like. Saved my life.
What I soon realized was just not drinking wasn’t gonna be enough for me. I was SO not a happy camper! I was hugely grateful that the desire to use was gone but totally ungrateful for anything else. Alcohol and drugs had been my answer to just about everything. I was feeling stronger by the week thanks to the steps but my life was pretty boring. 35 years old and not a clue what I want to do with my life.
One night I was sitting in the back of the room frowning, waiting for the meeting to start. (Like always…FILLED with self-pity.) This nice lady walked by, pausing just long enough to inform me that it was “perfectly okay for me to be happy”. Bless her. My anger at her comment sent me to a good therapist. Bless her too! Last I heard she still practices up in North Texas. In quick order she got me to see that it was NOBODY’S fault that I was miserable. (The same thing I had seen in my 4th step?!) No longer allowed to be the victim, she made me promise to do something fun that weekend… just for me. You wouldn’t think that would be hard to do but it took me days to come up with a short rock hunting trip up in North Texas. I know, that probably sounds real lame but it was a stretch for me. I planned it all down to the last detail. Saturday morning early, I headed out all by myself. (Speaker tape in the cassette player… that long ago!) Still have some of the Pyrite I found on that creek bed. Just me and God. Best day I had had in ages.
Driving home that night, tired and happy, I saw that I had the power to not only stay sober but have a full life too! The nice lady was right. It’s okay to be happy! Taking ACTION that day was the key. I sure understand that life can be tough as hell sometimes…. We are ALL sad at times. It’s when I continue to justify that sadness over a long period that the trouble starts. It blocks us from the Power that will direct our lives. It prevents us from receiving the courage to make the necessary changes we MUST make in early sobriety.
It took some caring folks in recovery to look me in the face and encourage me to stop being the victim. SO not easy. So worth it. None of us gets to do this alone. Including me. I hope all of our Alumni and family will remember we are here if you need to visit.
Sobriety vs. Recovery
Have you ever noticed how, over time, things change? Sure you have! One of the examples I always think of is old TV shows vs. new TV shows. Now, if you are reeeeeally old you might remember The Dick Van Dyke Show. Rob (Dick Van Dyke) would come home from his job as a writer to his stay-at-home wife Laura (Mary Tyler Moore). Some of these episodes show the two talking in their bedroom – their bedroom with TWO small beds (one for each of them) and, as mandated by the censors, at least one foot always had to be on the floor when filming! Wow. Fast forward to what we see today and you can only shake your head. It’s plain to see that things have changed a bunch over the years. Right?
What’s this got to do with our recovery today?
Well lots, actually. Change didn’t only happen to superficial stuff like TV, it affected lots more. Here is a great example. I was talking to my brother “the evil twin” the other day and he reminded me of an old talk done by the late, great Don P. in Denver, Colorado. Don was an iconic Big Book guy with an amazing ability to convey information about recovery to folks like me who are not so bright! In this talk he said, “Somewhere along the way we have moved from a focus on recovery to a focus on sobriety.”
To some of us this was a pretty profound comment. It explains a lot of things that we experience today in 12 Step fellowships. This specifically explains why there seems to be lots of talk about length of sobriety, but less talk about the KIND and QUALITY of sobriety. The predominant camp today is “just don’t drink and go to meetings,” whereas Don was talking about 164 pages of directions that started out on the title page telling us that a whole bunch of folks had RECOVERED. We moved from “staying sober for good and for all” to “let’s stay sober one day at a time.” See the difference?
Just one more thing: “Sober” means no booze in the picture. “Recovered” means a completely transformed life – rich, authentic, and real. A life of freedom.
This ol’ Texan prays that you all experience recovery this Fourth of July. And remember, being recovered means you know when to let go of the firecracker, too!!!
Myers Raymer, Alumni Specialist at Origins Recovery Centers
From Client to Co-Worker
Kellye DeBerry, Alumni Coordinator at Hanley Center
A little over two years ago, the Hanley Center saved my life.
My alcoholism and drug addiction brought me to my knees and I had succumbed to the idea that I would live the rest of my life in misery. I was physically, mentally and spiritually broken and I had little to no hope that things would ever change.
Luckily, my loving family, who I am eternally grateful for, refused to give up hope and sent me to treatment at the Hanley Center.
It was here that I was given the Big Book and told that there was a spiritual solution for my alcoholism. My life had become so unmanageable and my way of living clearly had not been working, so I completely surrendered to the 12 Step program of action and began following the suggestions given to me by the staff and clients in treatment. I stayed in inpatient treatment for ninety days, went to transitional living for forty-five days, attended IOP and went to sober living for over a year. I got a sponsor who took me through the Twelve Steps, I went to meetings, got a home group, I worked with other alcoholics, and I got service commitments. And day by day my life started to change for the better.
I started volunteering at the Hanley Center because I wanted to give back to a truly amazing place that gave so much to me.
I got involved with the weekly alumni meetings and the monthly anniversary night celebrations. I made calls to alumni, making connections and sharing my experiences about treatment and recovery with them. Eventually, I was offered the alumni coordinator position at the Hanley Center and I jumped on it! It was an absolute dream come true to work at such an incredible place and was evidence that God was working in my life.
I wake up every morning feeling blessed and full of gratitude that I have the opportunity to share my experience, strength and hope with current and former clients of the Hanley Center.
I stay in contact with alumni after they discharge from treatment, plan and organize alumni meetings and anniversary night celebrations, and play a part, whether it be big or small, in people’s recovery. I get to witness the miracles of sobriety each and every day – how amazing is that?
Must I know God in Step Two prior to moving to Step Three?
The short answer is no. I consistently watch people get twisted around the God idea based on this misunderstanding of the proposition presented in Step Two.
Let’s assume that Step One has been adequately presented. If a newcomer identifies with Step One, we naturally assume that they will buy into the God idea, or really any solution at this point. “Many times we talk to a new man and watch his hope rise as we discuss his alcoholic problems and explain our fellowship. But his face falls when we speak of spiritual matters, especially when we mention God…” (BB, Page 45). I think the new man or woman immediately hears the message that has been presented to them by others throughout their lives; you must believe in and trust God. This is not the message that the 12 Steps present in Step Two.
As members of a 12 Step fellowship, we are really asking the newcomer to have a little trust in us. We clearly understand the problem, so is it possible that we understand the solution? We are telling the newcomer that there is a power in this world, and we would simply like to make the introduction. The introduction may or may not take place in Step Two, but it will absolutely take place prior to completing the 12 Step body of work. We who have done the work now recognize that the power has always been there.
The difficulty was that drugs and alcohol had lulled us into a deep spiritual sleep, and a life that was based on selfishness and self-centeredness.
Why would we expect to know someone we just met? We certainly wouldn’t rely on someone we just met, would we? It happens all the time. A person accepts a job, works for two weeks, and trusts that someone will pay them at the end of those two weeks. It also occurs in matters of the heart. Have you ever given your heart to someone before you truly got to know them, and trusted that they would take care of it? We are not asking anyone to make this kind of commitment.
The proposition in Step Two is similar to saying to someone, “Hey, I know someone that would be interested in meeting you, are you open to the idea that this person exists?” If they say no, we probably need to revisit Step One. If they can say yes, let’s see if they already know each other.
A conception of God is simply an understanding of God. If I have never met you or heard anything about you, then I have no understanding of you. If I am relying on what others say about you, then I am relying on their understanding of you. The question I ask all the men I work with is, what is YOUR understanding of God, based on YOUR experience with God? If he has no experience with God, then he does not have his own conception of God. That is perfectly okay, and often better. God will reveal Himself to him as he continues through the work. If he has had an experience or experiences with God, good or bad, then he has a conception of God. As he moves through the work, God will prove or disprove his ideas about Him.
Either way, he is working with his own Step Two truth, and he is ready to move to Step Three.
Chad Lentscher, Director of Alumni Services at Origins Recovery Centers
Investing in Relationships
Greetings to all our Origin family members. No matter where you are in your own recovery, I just wanted to remind you and emphasize the importance of relationships.
I’m not talking about just romance, I’m speaking of relationships with all that this new life has to offer. “Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps,” I’ve come to have a relationship with God as well as everyone and everything that surrounds me. I have become part of life at last. Now that I’ve been delivered from the root of my problem (selfishness and self-centeredness) I have been given not only the power to help others but the desire to have real honest and open relationships with all around me.
I look at it today as making investments in my life on a daily basis.
I awaken each morning and rekindle my relationships with my God, with my wife, the sunrise and new day, my job and those who’s path I cross, etc. It is these relationships that are my investments and it is these investments that have been paying huge dividends to me for the last 12 years. And just where did these relationships start for me? In treatment. It was there, with my peers also attempting to save and change their lives, that I came to trust others and thus have real relationships with other human beings. It was from those beginnings with fellow alcoholics and addicts that I took my new ‘tools’ out into the rest of world and began ‘investing’ in everything and everyone.
My world and worldly ‘account’ is overflowing with all the dividend checks that have been cashed.
I pray that I will never forget those early relationships for it is from those that my life is as full and rich as it is today. I am still in contact with those people all these years later. I am still a part of their family forever as they are a part of mine. Just as I don’t ever want to forget my last debauch, I never want to forget what has brought me to this happy, joyous and free life I get to lead today. In my own way of saying it, “Don’t forget what brung ya!”
I have known loneliness like few have known. Relationships, real relationships guarantee that I need not ever to know that again. Invest in yourself and others. Enrich your life through relationships. Rekindle those early days of discovery and trust with those that were doing the same alongside of you. You and them will be better for it.