“The truth shall set you free”

When I was a kid, there was no cable TV. (Some of us didn’t even have a television.)  AM radio was still king of the airwaves. 

 Back then, the popular thing was to own a transistor radio.  But it required a little finesse in order to find the right station.  Sometimes it was hard to find the right frequency. Other times, the signal was strong, and pulling in your favorite radio station was a breeze.

 Each day I could decide to choose any number of radio frequencies.  But I always looked for the one that was my favorite.

 As a sex addict, I had a favorite ‘mental radio frequency’ that I tuned into all day long:  P.O.R.N. FM!  There were a few others that I stumbled across as I searched for my favorite station. 

 Over time, it seemed that the only station I was able to pull in was P.O.R.N. FM.  All the others seemed remote; there was just too much static.  For some reason the signals to the other stations had grown very weak and the decision to find an alternative was almost impossible.  My whole day was ruled by the mental frequency I was tuned into.

 12 Step recovery has enabled me to find alternatives to the trash and smut that ruled my life for so many years.  Recovery has given me the ability to tune into the truth of my Higher Power, and let go of the lies that filled my head constantly.  Most importantly, I learned how to be free of obsessive thoughts and compulsive actions.

 I can honestly say:  “The truth has set me free.”

“God grant me the serenity to accept…”

“My life sucks. And I hate my job… boy, do I feel stuck!”

 I’d said this to my wife many times before, usually out of frustration.  I really did feel frustrated, and trapped.

 “Yeah, I hear you; but unless you learn to accept your present circumstances,”  she responded, “you will never be able to move on.” 

 “So, you think I should just lie down and die?  Gawd, I could never settle for where I’m at right now!”  I snapped.  “How is that going to help me move on?”

 Same conversation, over and over.  

 I thought ‘acceptance’ meant I had to settle.  I’d done that for years – settled for second best.  After all, I didn’t deserve any better; I wasn’t worth it.  Hadn’t my self-loathing led me straight into addiction?

 It infuriated me to think that the ‘answer’ to my situation was to settle.  I just didn’t get it.

 My attitude started to change when I got involved with a 12 step program.  Doing the ‘steps’ helped me to see what it really means to accept.

 Settling for second best was the reason I fell into addiction in the first place.  My sexual addiction was a poor substitute for the real thing:  Emotional connection; intimacy.

 And my entire life eventually became a representation of my willingness to settle for second best.  It’s not that I consciously decided one day that I was going to avoid emotional connection with another.  Back then, I didn’t even know what that was…

“Intimacy?  Didn’t that have something to do with sex?”   

 It took some time, but eventually I began to realize that ‘acceptance’ involved accepting my responsibility in it all – acknowledging the part I played in getting me to where I found myself.

“God, grant me the serenity…”

The Serenity Prayer:  God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

 Serenity – inward calm – is what you and I want.  But it comes at a price.

 “It will cost me something?” you ask.  “So, how much?”

 The decision is always up to you.  What are you willing to give up in order to get what you really want?  Are you able to do what it takes – to let go of everything that stands in your way – in order to have peace and serenity?

 The cost of serenity is going to involve letting go of your old ideas, your old habits, and the comfortable, familiar place where you have remained up until now.  You will never know inward peace until you have paid the price to get it.

 You have tried to get things that didn’t belong to you.  And you’re stuck.  It’s as if your hand is caught in the proverbial cookie jar – and the only way out is to let go of the cookie.

 You must let go.

 Your addiction has already cost you a great deal:  Money, relationships, and self-esteem… to mention a few.  Letting go of control over your life by surrendering to God your life and your will is going to cost you big time.  And it’s so scary that many addicts never get to that place where they’re willing to let go.

 However, the rewards far outweigh the cost.  The things you treasure aren’t worth keeping.  You could be staying at the Waldorf Astoria, but you choose to remain in your cardboard box down at the ship yards. 

 What keeps a person in their addiction?  What makes us think it’s better to live in a spiritual hell than move to heaven itself? 

 God is more than willing to grant you serenity, but it will cost you everything that you now think is important. 

 Be sure you understand what you are asking when you pray for serenity.  It’s going to cost you.

Change is the only constant

If I’ve had a particularly good day – everything happened as it should, and I feel great – I catch myself saying, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every day could be like this one?”

 But I know my wish isn’t based on reality.  Tomorrow isn’t going to be exactly like today, just as today doesn’t match yesterday.  Everything is changing, even when we don’t notice. 

 When I was a kid, a friend of the family who hadn’t seen me for a long time would come to visit.  “My how you’ve grown!” she would say.  And I would think to myself, “Oh really?  I hadn’t noticed.”  Others are aware of changes even if we aren’t.

 My mother had seven kids to raise.  Occasionally, things were chaotic, and she got really stressed out.  It was on those particularly hectic, crazy days I could almost here my mother say, “Stop the world – I want to get off!” (Occasionally, she did – but that’s another story for another time.)

 Chaos and change is part of our experience as human beings.  Scientists say it’s how we evolved:  As our existence as a species became more complex and unmanageable, we adapted.  (Need was always the mother of invention.)  As we encountered each impasse, we used our creativity to develop a solution and got organized.  The problems that arise from our growing complexity as a species continually cry out for more answers. 

 It’s how you manage the changes in your life that determines how much chaos you experience.  If you don’t adapt, chaos will continue to increase.  Resisting change will not help.  Arguing with ‘what is’ – your present circumstances – will only serve to increase your own personal suffering.  And suffering that is allowed to increase will lead you back to your addiction.

 Accepting ‘what is’ is realizing that change is the only constant.