“The prayer of amends must be a way of life, not just a sad cry at the end of failure.” – Anonymous

Most of us are truly sorry for the wreckage we caused by our behavior.  Our disease has touched many people and the scars sometimes run deep.  It would be great if everyone we harmed would accept our apology, but this probably won’t happen.  It doesn’t matter.  We still need to tell them we feel bad about their pain.

It’s true that we offer amends in the hope of healing relationships.  But it is even truer that our recovery depends on our willingness to offer amends.  Some things can’t be set right with an “I’m sorry.”  We have to show by actions as well as words that we honestly want to make amends where possible.

As long as I pursue my recovery one day at a  time, I will have time enough to demonstrate in action that I am sorry for the pain I caused.

 

 

What is self care?

Whenever I lease a new car, I receive basically two things:  A set of keys and an owner’s manual.  The keys get it going, and the owner’s manual helps me to keep it going.

When an addict recovers from his/her addiction, they receive, in a sense, a new ‘lease’ on life.  But neither do they get a new set of keys, nor an owner’s manual.

What every recovering addict needs is a manual explaining how to take care of this new self.  And this begs the question:  “What is self care?”

 Here are a few ideas I have picked up along the way in my own recovery:

  • Self care means letting go
  • Self care means living in the present moment
  • Self care means forgiving myself
  • Self care means establishing boundaries – for myself and others
  • Self care means remaining mindful – practicing ‘mindfulness’
  • Self care means working the steps
  • Self care means rewarding myself for small accomplishments
  • Self care means being grateful

I realize that each of these points needs further explanation.  My blog entries will continue in this vein for the next several weeks.  Let’s explore what it truly means to practice ‘self care.’

It will make all the difference in your quality of life and level of recovery.

Self-love or self-loathing?

As an addict I am learning about self care.

I suppose it’s the same thing as self-love.  But in very practical terms.  My wife often points out my character defects (who needs to do a personal inventory when you have a spouse who will do it for you?).  One thing she often reminds me about is my self-loathing.

I am not always aware of my tendency to hate myself or to feel a certain disgust for myself.  Actually, I love myself.  And I would never knowingly do anything to hurt myself.

It’s just that I’m not always aware of my attitude about myself.  I’m not always aware that I’m thinking and saying things that reflect a negative attitude toward myself.

For instance, I’m forever bemoaning the fact that I work with someone who drives me nuts.  This person wrote the book on self-loathing… she’s an expert!

And somehow I allow her attitude to rub off on me.  And I go home at the end of my workday carrying all this negativity with me.  And I habitually ‘share’ it with my wife, describing how insufferable my job has become as a result.

In fact, it’s my complaining that has taken on a life of its own.  And I end up ‘wearing’ this attitude day after day, unaware that self-loathing has become a part of my daily routine.

It wears me down.  I feel tired much of the time.  I have no energy to do the things I want to pursue.  Self-loathing prevents me from engaging in self care.  Doing the things that nurture me, help me in my recovery.

Self-loathing is a habit that I must learn to stop.  Self care is the way I can avoid it altogether.

 

You are not your addiction

Each week I meet with fellow addicts.  We introduce ourselves by first name only followed by “…and I am an addict.”  I am a recovering (sex and love) addict.  But even though I acknowledge that I am an addict, I also know that I am not my addiction.

My addiction is a symptom.  The same way coughing and sneezing can be a symptom of a cold and flu virus, my addiction is a symptom of a much deeper problem.

The underlying problem is shame and self-loathing.  I ‘created’ this addiction in order to cope with the painful image I have of myself.

Shame is what fuels the addiction.  Self-loathing goes hand-in-hand with shame and creates the perfect storm for addiction.  Shame and addiction are virtually inseparable causing the ‘cycle of shame’ that keeps the addiction alive.

When I feel unworthy, I am feeling shame.  But shame is not an accurate emotion that describes who we are and what we are worth.

If you feel shame, you are experiencing an emotion that is not based on truth.  You are much more than your shame.  You are worthy of love and acceptance.  You are worth a great deal simply because you are a child of God.

You are not your addiction… you are much, much more.