“The five S’s of Recovery”

If you are just starting out in recovery work, you will need to familiarize yourself with the process.   A solid recovery has five aspects to it:

  • Sobriety
  • Sponsorship
  • Step Work
  • Spirituality
  • Service

Obviously, recovery work begins with sobriety (recovery management).  You haven’t even begun recovery without sobriety/abstinence.

During this time of sobriety, you are going to need a sponsor.  If you are a true addict, powerless over your addiction, you will need the help of someone else – someone already in the program – who can show you the way.

Part of the program is step work.  The 12 steps.  Your sponsor can show you how to work the steps if you are ready.  These steps are simple, but they are not easy.  And they will require more from you than you realize.

The 12 step program is, fundamentally, a spiritual program.  You may not be religious, or believe in ‘God’ but you will need to become a spiritual person.  There are three relationships you will work on:  Your relationship with yourself, others and your Higher Power.  12 step recovery work is interior work – your mind, your emotions and your will.  All of this work will impact your relationships.  At some point during the program you will experience a spiritual awakening.  But this will only be the first of many ‘awakenings’ as you continue in your recovery.

There’s a saying (somewhat of a paradox) in 12 step fellowships:  If you want to keep it, you’ve got to give it away.  In other words, you need to give back to the fellowship.  You will gain a sense of belonging, and renewed faith in the program as you work with others and witness their progress.

Without these five S’s your recovery work will not be as solid as it could be.  Don’t take any chances with your progress.  Enter into all five aspects to maintain a firm grip on your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual recovery.

“Tend to the garden of your heart”

Long before I had a successful garden growing in my back yard, I created a substantial bed of earth for my future garden.  Several loads of triple mix were delivered to my house which I quickly moved (with the help of a wheelbarrow)  to the location of my proposed garden.  I was quite proud of the large bed of rich soil which I had shaped into something that was visually pleasing.

Before I planted anything, I found myself pulling weeds constantly.  I hadn’t planted anything, and yet I was working my tail off trying to keep the weeds at bay.  So I approached a friend of mine who is a talented and experienced gardener and asked her for some advice.

“Heather, can you give me some advice on how to keep the weeds from taking over my garden?”  When she asked me about the kinds of plants I’d planted, I answered honestly.

“Nothing, yet.”

“Well, then, the answer is obvious,” she responded.  “You need to plant something!  the best way to push back the weeds is to fill up the soil with beautiful plants.  The more annuals and perennials you plant, the fewer weeds will be able to grow!”

After we’ve had the weeds removed from the garden of our mind (steps 6 and 7), we must begin planting beautiful flowers and shrubs to keep the weeds from returning.

Making amends to others we have hurt or damaged is one way to begin planting a beautiful and thriving garden.  Our minds will only produce the kind of thoughts that we nurture and protect.  Sowing the seeds of love and respect will bring about the growth of strong, healthy, spiritual foliage inside our souls.

There is much you can do to tend to the garden of your heart.  Making amends is a good start.


Accept who you are

As a child I fantasized about who and what I wanted to become.

The sky was the limit.  I allowed myself to imagine becoming a thousand different things.  Some of them were typical:

  • A cowboy
  • A fireman
  • A teacher
  • An artist
  • A rock star

I could go on – but you get the idea.  You probably had similar dreams.

We wanted to become like the people we admired.  We wanted to become like those we looked up to.  We dreamed about becoming someone of significance.

But the older we got, the less likely it seemed we would grow into any of the dreams we had when we were children.

Lately, I have come to realize that in order to become – to undergo any transformation – I must learn to accept who I am.  I must begin where I am right now.

I am an addict.  There’s no denying it.  And no amount of wishing it otherwise will make it go away.  It is part of my truth.  And it is where I must begin.  I am an addict.

We addicts are learning to accept who we are.  There’s no point in denying it.  Denial kept us locked in the very thing we couldn’t accept.

If you are an addict, are you still in denial about it?  Do you say you are an addict, but still live in addiction?  Are there ways you live your life that reveal you are still in denial?

Learn to accept who you are first.  It’s the first step of your recovery.

Tell yourself the truth

Do you talk to yourself?

Of course, you do!  We all do it – at a rate of about 1200 words per minute.

I work with a couple of people who talk to themselves out loud all day long.  Sometimes I catch myself talking (to myself) out loud – talking to someone in my head about an unresolved issue, or wondering why I said what I said to someone at work.

Much of what we ‘say’ to ourselves comes in the form of pictures and movies that we play over and over in our minds.  Not all of it is good.  We give ourselves a lot of negative messages.

As addicts we can really beat ourselves up sometimes:  Self loathing, self doubt, and regrets.  And these messages that we tell ourselves are all lies.

We are worth much more than we know.  But we believe the horrible things we tell ourselves are all true.  Sometimes we put our shame and self loathing on others.  We carry anger and resentment around with us in an effort to avoid facing our own low self worth.

It’s time we started to tell ourselves the truth.

Mayhem of the mind

I think it’s fair to say that “we become what we think about.”

Our thoughts dictate our actions.  If we think kind thoughts we will act kindly towards others.  If we think aggressive thoughts we will act aggressively.  We can control our actions by the thoughts that we think.

But what about the hardcore addict? Action (it would seem) is a result of compulsion.  The hardcore addict acts compulsively and thinks obsessively.  All is chaos.  There is an inability to focus.  And an inability to choose.

The addict is trapped in his/her obsessive thinking and compulsive acting out.  How can an addict ever hope to break free of compulsive behavior repeated over and over?

By taking action!  That’s right.  The 12 Steps are the only way to stop the insanity.  And in order to do the 12 Steps, it requires action!

Have you hit bottom?  Are you ready to stop digging?  Then it’s time to find a sponsor and begin the 12 Steps.  With help and guidance, each one of us is able to do the 12 steps and regain our sanity.

The chaos in your life is a result of the mayhem in your mind.  Do the steps and let God restore you to sanity.  Put an end to the mayhem of the mind.

With God’s help and the support of a 12 Step fellowship, you can do it.