“Sin has many tools, but a lie is the handle that fits them all.”

I was never a very good liar.

As a kid I failed miserably trying to fool my friends at school.  My smile would give it away every time. And my parents always knew when I was withholding the truth. Even when it was important, I’d blow my cover with a guilty look, or an excuse that didn’t make any sense at all. Lying just wasn’t my thing.

Somewhere along the way, I fell into the grip of a powerful addiction.

This was not an addiction to drugs or alcohol. No one could smell it on my breath, or see it in my eyes. It didn’t impair my driving or slur my speech. In fact, there were no obvious signs that I had a dependency problem of any kind. But underneath the exterior of my ‘normal’ life there was something very wrong. Something I was able to keep a secret for well over thirty years.

It matters little what addiction I have (I’ll let you speculate which one). What’s more important are the lies I told in order to keep it a secret. My wife used to tell me that it wasn’t so much the addiction that bothered her as it was the lying…

Like an actor in a play, I wore a mask to disguise my true identity. I never removed the mask, even when the show was over and everyone had gone home. I was never able to fully reveal my true self.

The lies kept me isolated from everyone.  I soon became a hollow man – a shell of someone who didn’t exist. My outward persona was a sham.  My inward person was a fantasy. What started out as a form of protection was now sucking the life out of me.

It’s not the sin that destroys a man, but the lies required to cover it up.

But as I learned to tell the truth I began to heal and grow spiritually. Telling the truth was a big part of my journey back to sanity.

“Tell the truth, and tell it quickly.”

12 ‘Freedoms’ in Recovery…

Freedom is what recovery is all about.

Freedom from what? From your addiction, of course.
Freedom from compulsive “acting out.”

But is that all there is?

Nope. Not by a long shot.
Freedom from your addiction is only the beginning.

While lost in your addiction, you had no freedom to choose. You could not make good choices. You were powerless to do so.

Why? Because your addiction made all your decisions for you! That’s why your life became unmanageable. All was chaos…

But now you know what freedom from compulsion feels like.

And this new-found freedom is only the beginning. If you stick with the program there’s more freedom just around the corner.

If you have tasted a little freedom (the result of a spiritual awakening) why not build on this foundation? I’m talking about a life of freedom from every sort of compulsion and attachment.

Now… even though recovery is all about freedom, it doesn’t guarantee the end of pain and difficulty. Life’s problems and challenges don’t just disappear.

But you are now developing the ability to face reality in the here and now.
And you don’t need to escape into false solutions anymore.

As you learn to accept what is, you gain a new freedom – a new power – to find real solutions to the challenges that life throws at you.

Here are some new ‘freedoms’ that are available to you if you stick with the program:

  1. Freedom to remain peaceful
  2. Freedom to tell the truth
  3. Freedom to help others
  4. Freedom to take care of yourself
  5. Freedom to be grateful for all good gifts
  6. Freedom to understand your self-worth
  7. Freedom to deal with anger and resentment
  8. Freedom to do the right thing in every circumstance
  9. Freedom to love
  10. Freedom to let go
  11. Freedom to take action
  12. Freedom to accept

Freedom is what recovery is all about…

 

“When the fight begins within himself, a man’s worth something.” Robert Browning

Wrestling with our addiction is an inward fight. Once we’ve gone through withdrawal and overcome our physical dependence, there still remains the emotional struggle. Not giving in to the inward compulsion is an impossible task if we try to face temptation overwhelm on our own.

There’s a saying in AA that goes like this: “You alone must face it; but you must not face it alone.” Seems a little contradictory at first glance, but the paradoxical nature of this statement is so true. It’s the ‘inwardness’ of your addiction that places it in your hands.

You are the one responsible for your own recovery; “you alone must face it.” There are two reasons why the inward struggle is a good thing.

1. It makes you stronger. Just as a caterpillar must struggle to escape the confines of the chrysalis (the cocoon) in order to become a beautiful butterfly, so the addict will be stronger as a result of the inward fight.

2. It will impact your world. What you are without is a result of your inner world of thought and intention. In other words, “We become what we think about.”

No one can free you from your addiction. The beautiful butterfly is the result of the struggle within the chrysalis. As a boy, I tried to help the butterfly escape its cocoon, but in the end discovered that I had ruined the entire process. The ‘butterfly’ eventually died.

The secret life of thought and feeling is the source of all that we do and say. Many choices are made based on our intentions. What you fight for in secret will be revealed to the world; you cannot hide what you are inside for very long.

But you must not face it alone: There is an entire fellowship of recovering addicts that can give you the support you need when you need it. There are other men and women just like you who understand your plight and are more-than-willing to help you along the way.

One of the reasons the program is so successful is because addicts are encouraged to come out of their isolation and join a community of fellow addicts.

You alone must face it; but you must not face it alone.

“There’s plenty of courage among us in the abstract, but not in the concrete.” Helen Keller

Are you familiar with 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, courage and wisdom. All three are gifts from God. And all three have been granted to you already. It is up to you to receive these gifts. For it is in receiving these gifts that you are ‘granted’ them.

And learning how to receive these gifts is what the 12 steps are all about.

Left to my own devises, I am unable to find the courage to change what can be changed. And without help from my Higher Power, my fear of change – my resistance to change – takes over and I remain in a state of ever-increasing discouragement.

Courage is not some commodity that you can buy at the corner store. It comes by divine intervention – I’m talking about Higher Power.

Courage isn’t something you feel in the abstract; it’s something you receive when you take the necessary steps to bring about change in your concrete, rubber-meets-the-road world.  I’m talking about accessing your Inner Power.

Courage is the God-given strength that enables you to push past your good intentions and move forward to lasting change and solid recovery.

And it’s there for the asking.