Guest Recovery Article – Making Amends Within Our Recovery and How It Is Done.

Guest Recovery Article – Making Amends Within Our Recovery and How It Is Done.

When it’s time for an addict maintaining recovery to make amends to those loved ones they have caused pain and may have hurt from the wreckage of our addiction, where does one begin? What if you can not remember all those who may have been hurt? I ask this because if we are high, drunk, or zoned out, we may not recall everyone we may have touched within our “selfishness” and is a part of the disease of addiction.

I know I couldn’t remember everyone I may have owed money to when I was thick into my gambling addiction. Our choices made within the sickness of pills or fog and haze of alcohol, many addicts don’t recall and those left in pain may not understand this really can happen. I’m a firm believer that our past should not dictate our future.

So how to begin the process of “amends.” When we have done the hard work needed within recovery and we have completed the “inner work” of self and are ready to move on to apologize to those we offended, which includes criminally, how to get started?

This featured article is shared by the fine folks of Betty Ford – Hazelden Org, can help all of us who have come to this fork in the road within our recovery journey. Making amends is an important part of our work and has to be done right …
Catherine

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“Making Amends is More Than an Apology” ~ By John MacDougall, D.Min. ~ Restoring justice as much as possible.

Addiction creates moral wreckage. People who become addicted to alcohol or other drugs might lie, cheat, or steal in order to get and use their drug of choice. Often what’s left behind is a trail of shattered relationships.

In this situation, apologies won’t do. Alcoholics Anonymous calls for making amends instead. These are mentioned specifically in several of The Twelve Steps, including:

  • Step Eight: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
  • Step Nine: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Carrying out these two steps is a delicate process that calls for guidance from a sponsor or counselor. In an interview, John MacDougall, D.Min., a Dan Anderson Renewal Center presenter, answered questions about making amends.

How do amends differ from apologies?

An amend has to do with restoring justice as much as possible. The idea is to restore in a direct way that which we have broken or damaged—or to make restoration in a symbolic way if we can’t do it directly.

Say, for example, that I borrowed 20 dollars from you and never paid you back. If I go up to you and say, “Gee, I’m sorry I borrowed your 20 dollars and spent it on drugs,” that would be an apology. Making amends is giving your money back to you.

Why does Step Nine suggest that people avoid direct amends in certain cases?

For instance, you don’t run home and say to your spouse, “Gee honey, I had a wonderful time in addiction treatment. I learned all about rigorous honesty, so I want to apologize to you for an affair I had five years ago.” That’s clearing your conscience at the expense of someone else who’s going to feel terrible. In this case, your amend can be an indirect one. Stop having affairs and bring your heart, your energy, and your attention back home where it belongs.

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Are direct amends simply impossible at times?

Yes. Say, for example, that someone gets drunk, drives, and kills somebody in a traffic accident. You can’t go back and “unkill” the person who died. Instead, you can fill out an organ donor card. This is an indirect amend that can give life back to someone in the future. Remember that with crimes such as drunk driving, people might need to go to court and take a punishment. That’s part of making amends as well.

You’ve mentioned direct and indirect amends. Are there other kinds?

Sometimes people talk about “living” amends. This simply means that we live differently. Amends are about a genuine change in our behavior instead of the patchwork of an apology. We take on a whole new way of life. We stop accumulating fresh insults to our selves and others.

What are the benefits of making amends?

If we’ve continually harmed people and haven’t made any effort toward amends, then we’ve got a lot of people, places, and things to avoid. Large areas of life become closed off to us. When you’re willing to make amends, those areas open up again. You don’t have to avoid people anymore. This is true not only for people in recovery but for all of us.

The book of AA mentions the promises of recovery. They come right after the explanation of Step Nine. “If we are painstaking about this phase of our development,” it says, “we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.”

That’s what happens when we bring justice back into our lives by making amends.



John MacDougall, Dan Anderson Renewal Center presenter

John MacDougall is the spiritual care coordinator at The Retreat in Wayzata, Minnesota. He was previously at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation for 20 years and is the author of  Being Sober and Becoming Happy.

 

 

In Recovery, Don’t Let Anyone Or Anything Make You Feel ‘Less Than,’ Always Feel ‘More Than’ Because You Are “More Than”…

Hello Recovery Friends, Seekers, And Welcome New Friends,

 

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Some days living life in recovery can be a bit of a challenge. What I mean is, no matter how much recovery time one gets under their belt, we still may have a day when something from our “Wicked Past Addiction” just might come back and ‘Bitch Slap’ us in the face of our present.
It’s why it’s important to ALWAYS have a plan. And especially for long holiday weekends like this one, *Memorial Weekend*…

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Even when that “Slap” comes around, we need to have a safe plan to deal with Life on Life’s terms. I mean, our higher power never said recovery was going to be an easy journey right? Here is what happened to me a while back. When we moved from So. Oregon, to here in Glendale, Arizona,…it was a very traumatic move for me in many ways. I had to adopt out my 2 baby kitties, actually my good friend who has a mini 3 acre ranch took them for us, but it was traumatic for me. Also the 3 day ride in the car was also a traumatic event for me, and had to stay a wee bit extra medicated with my psych meds for the long trip, as I suffer from Bipolar depression, mild PTSD, and Agoraphobia with panic, so need I say more? When we finally got her to AZ we were living with my husbands siblings until we could move back to Oregon. Well, there was SO much DRAMA and arguing that I was having 5 panic attacks a Week!!

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I cried every night we were there in that house. Missing my cats, hating the way they treated us! We barely lasted 2 months and got the HELL out! We had to find our own place with the help of my husbands older sister who is the ONLY SANE person in that house. We moved out and have NOT stepped foot in their house since. What I found out is,…the 2 brothers went to their lawyer and had him run a criminal background check on me, and they gave it to my husbands older sister. Now, for those who know me, or have read my book, you know that when I was within the worst of my ‘Gambling Addiction’ I had stolen from someone. They pressed charges, and YES,….I have a past criminal record, ONE.
I took ownership, and responsibility for what I had done 8 years ago. I made my amends where I could, began gambling addiction treatment, and worked hard these last 7 years to become the woman I was before my addictions to gambling and alcohol. I did the inside work within myself as well, and now try to help others, and “Pay It Forward.”

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So we need to be ready for when these types of LIFE MOMENTS happen, our past catching up &  into our future. His 2 brothers began to treat me even worse with verbal attacks, and more after they got that copy of my past misdeeds. But,….SO WAHT. So I knew we needed to get out to keep my sanity and recovery.

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I think I handled it all pretty well. I did get some bouts of depression and the panic attacks, but all was fine when we got a little place of our own. I mean, at the end, things were really getting out there! The guys hid all the window handles so we could not open our window in our bedroom for any fresh air in the mornings. I was only allowed downstairs living area and kitchen, not in their living room, or anywhere upstairs. I could not use scented deodorant, perfume, smelly body lotion as the boys called it. I really thought I was going MAD IN THE HEAD!
ANYWHO…..
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The point is this, Yes,…we may have made some ‘Bad Choice’s’ when we where within our addictions, but they don’t have to be part of your future, or even in this moment. Don’t let anyone make you feel “Less Than” no matter what. If you learned from the mistakes you made in your past, took ownership and accountability for them, that makes you “More Than in Recovery”! It’s another important reason to do the step work that is required to help you get there and achieve it. Your 12-steps are not all about a religious program.
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Nope,….it’s about learning to use them as a guide to help fix the many character defects, and the bad habits and behaviors we used to COPE within addicted life, and use the steps to transform us into better people in recovery. That’s how I feel about working and reworking my steps. You can see your growth with your own eyes! When you here the words “Unity & Fellowship” in meetings, it’s not a religious fellowship, it’s about applying “The Principals of the Steps” into our daily lives to restore the beautiful people we were before addiction!
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We in recovery deserve, and were given a 2nd chance. If you screw that up?
Well,…that’s on you. Might mean more work needs to be done in your recovery, and within yourself. But if you accept and use that 2nd chance in life given to you in recovery, then,….you are “More Than”…… Always.

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“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events.  Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie
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Happy Memorial Weekend All,
God Bless!
Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0984478485

A Powerful Share From My Recovery Pal “Trey”~We All Start Somewhere Right?

Hello Recovery Friends, Seekers, and Welcome New Friends,

I wanted to “Re-Blogg” a POWERFUL BLOG POST about Alcoholism by a great guy and wonderful recovery supporter of mine. He has a Fantastic WordPress Blog also, here: http://treyzguyblog.com  “A Day In The Lifeless “…This post touched me to my core! so I asked Mr. “Trey” if I could share it on my blog with all of you. See, even though my main addiction I’ve been in recovery from 7 years is Addicted Compulsive Gambling and a wee to many “Cocktails” when I gambled, addiction is addiction to me. It’s why I blog not only about addicted gambling, but all types of addictions.
Alcohol, Drugs, Porn, Sex, Food, all addictions have many of the same “Behaviors” from one disease to another. I always say we can never have to much information about “Addiction,” and those of us in recovery all have a “story” to tell inside of us. Some share it in book form like I did, some blog, or write articles and share their story on recovery websites. But my point is that “Sharing” our own story of addiction and recovery can help those who are new to recovery. And it helps those recovering stay IN recovery.
So with no further A DO, I THANK Trey for letting me share his post!
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A Day In The Lifeless…
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It’s cold in Salt Lake City during the last vestiges of winter in March…

They woke us all up at 5 am each morning at the homeless shelter.

This morning is ‘cold breakfast’ morning.

Cold breakfast is pretty self explanatory, but in a homeless shelter it’s a whole different animal.

Homeless shelters depend on donations.

Donations depend on charity.

Charity depends on people.

People are…..not to be counted on sometimes.

This particular morning we are getting Special K cereal™, Borden’s Powdered Milk™, doughnuts of different types, bananas and coffee.

The cereal box is 2 years old.

The Borden’s ‘Dry’ Milk is water thin and warm.

The doughnuts are stale, hard and tasteless.

The bananas are over-ripe and the coffee is as thin as the milk, but cooler than the milk…

We get one serving of each…..

One.

Most of the people in here are men. There are a couple of women, but they seem to be matched with some of the guys.

Except for Trish….

She argues with herself over trivial matters.

This morning it sounds like she is not happy with one of her “selves” and is berating and cussing “them” about losing her toothpaste.

She stands up, flailing at invisible people, and runs straight into the opposite wall, knocking herself out.

She lays sprawled out on the floor with her hospital wrist band, from her release 2 days ago, still on her wrist.

The library card hanging on a piece of ribbon around her neck looks strange next to stained bandages around her throat from where she went after herself with a curling iron that had been dropped off at the shelters Donation store.

“I’m glad I’m not crazy….” I think to myself.

We are all walking different directions to begin our day as the ambulance pulls up to the shelter.

No lights….No siren.

“It’s only Trish….again” says the cop.

“Maybe she’ll do us all a favor and die this time” laughs the guy paramedic.

“They should have never let her out to walk the streets, where’s she gonna go!?” says the girl cop.

“She comes here” said Mr. Larry, the shelter director and “20 year sober drunk” he’d say with a grin and a cutting gesture across his throat.

We are turned out from the shelter at 6 am on the dot.

It is dark and cold…There is no traffic and the buses don’t begin the route by the shelter until 7 am.

We walk the 1 1/2 miles just for something to do, plus not freeze to death.

The daily evicted walk down the sidewalks, through the vacant lots full of trash and weeds, under the fence surrounding the Union Pacific rail yard and some are lucky enough to have money or a free token from the churches for a bus to SLCity.

I guess that’s a polite way to say “We want your soul to be saved, but don’t come back until after dark”

I take the bus.

I am a college student in my early 40’s.

I am a highly functioning alcoholic.

I’m going to beat it this time, but first I have to be at the plasma center before 8 am so I can get in and out early and get my “Special Starbucks” before the shaking and panic starts so I can concentrate in class.

We say “But first….” a lot.

Some men head for the railroad yard to catch a ride….somewhere.

“Anywhere but here” they’d say.

They’ve probably been saying that for years, and every where they’ve ever been.

“I don’t want to be…..” is a better way to say it.

“I can’t stay here”

We don’t know why….

We just can’t stay here…..or there.

We have to get away….from something…..Everything.

There are rules for shelter admission at 6 pm Monday-Thursday  and 5 pm on weekends.

1)      No drinking of alcohol

We are all given breathalyzers as we sign in.

No one has alcohol on their breath except a few new people that also have grass in their hair and smell like cow shit and urine.
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But they don’t frisk the “regulars”

The one’s they know they can trust….

I usually had a ½”diameter, 12ft piece of surgical tube that I stole from the Biology lab where I worked in the college, wrapped around my waist under my shirt.

It is full of Vodka or another clear libation, if I have to have something cheap between student/employee paydays and the 3 Plasma donation visits I’m allowed every other week…

After we all pass the breath test, we poor beggars head to the chapel and wait for the preacher of the day to show up.

We have to do this every night in order to get dinner, a shower and breakfast.

It lasts for an hour.

It could be considered torture and inhumane treatment at times.

My favorite ‘preacher’ was a 14 year old boy that came along with his preacher dad to save our “treacherous, ungodly souls!” “Can I get an AMEN!!!?”

Amen…

When the boy is through skipping across the pulpit, throwing himself to the ground, jumping up and down and waving his arms so hard I think he’s gonna pop a joint out of place, I feel really glad that I’m not a Jew, a Mormon, a “damned rag head Muslim”, a Fag or a Queer.

Amen….

We all feel better now that we have all been brought to Jesus by an alternate route for the 3rd time this week as we head to the lunchroom.

There is no talking.

There is only a shuffling, clinking, sliding plastic tray sound followed by a rhythmic “glopping” noise.

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Most nights it is a ‘stew’ or ‘goulash’ of some type, a piece of bread and a vegetable to be named later.

The ‘stew’ is heavy on the carrots and potatoes with little eyes looking at you…

There’s also a kind of shiny petroleum broth film covering it, undoubtedly from the ‘cooks’ not knowing that they should drain the oil from the cans of Spam™ before they add the ‘meat’ to our fare.

The Kool-Aid™ or drink mix is always thin and has a slight chlorinated after-taste, but it’s cool to the throat.

We didn’t need ice….or sugar.

Beggars CAN be choosy after all.

Don’t bitch Trey….   Jeez, some people would complain about getting hung with an old rope!

But…Most of us think it is the best thing we have ever had to eat.

We’re just glad that we don’t have to dig through the Pizza Hut™ and Albertsons™ dumpsters tonight…. I was always grateful for the shelter.

You see….I know it could be worse.

Did you know that restaurants, convenience stores and fast food joints won’t or should I say, can’t donate left-over foods to shelters?

It’s because they’re afraid to get sued if some poor homeless schmuck gets sick.

Sadly they were probably right, the fact is that someone would have tried to sue them most likely.

Desperate people and all that jazz….

The showers were full of…..men?

It was full of the old and young, wrinkled and pale, bent and straight…..But all broken in one way or another.

The shower was full of tattoos and scars from the Korean War, Vietnam and Desert Storm.

No one spoke in the shower.

All you could hear was the water and men coughing under the Luke-warm spray.

I didn’t take showers at the shelter.

I took showers at the college gym.

I didn’t have to sleep in dumpsters anymore or build a snow cave in the city park.

I had gotten my student loan somehow. I honestly can’t remember NOW, how I even did that then.

I kept what little clothes I had in a locker at the gym.

I could fit everything I owned in a back-pack….

I washed clothes in the Biology lab “scrubs” room.

I worked as a lab tech prepping slides and cultures for the Biology department. I worked as a Lab tech in the Computer Science lab.
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I worked as an assistant instructor with gifted students and I was a tutor in calculus and statistics.

Now I can’t remember shit…..

But that night, like so many nights after and before, I lay in the dark, on my back in a quietly buzzing homeless dorm on the top bunk and feeling my hands start to tremble as I unfurl the tubing full of Vodka from around my body.

The tube held a pint of Vodka.

As I placed my lips around the end of the tube and feel the welcome first sip hit my throat and gut, I am thinking:

“I’m gonna beat it this time. Only 3 more months and I’ll have enough saved up to get a real job and an apartment”

In less than a week, I was found drunk and unconscious in the park of my college…..In the snow.

I could have died then….

I spent 28 days in Rehab….Wearing blue footies.

I got a DUI the day I got out of Rehab.

I spent a week in jail then got arrested that SAME night for public intoxication and disturbing the peace after I called the cops on myself and begged them to shoot me.

I begged for death in an alley behind a bar….
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My forearms and knees were in piss, vomit, syringes, used condoms and stale beer.

My hands were tugging at their pants legs….”Please….please…..stop me….”

And Jesus wept….So did I.

I lost my college loans and my student jobs.

My kids were not happy. Dad was still fucking up.

When I was released from my court ordered 72 hour detox session at the mental health ward, I remember asking a fellow shelter buddy on the bus back “home”:

“Is tomorrow hot breakfast day?”

I’m amazed I’m still alive.

I’m thankful that those 2 cops didn’t help me out, back in that alley.

Sometimes I curse them…..

But I know one thing for sure….

IT COULD HAVE BEEN A LOT WORSE.

I could have died…..and not known it.

You see…?

Heaven has a special place for alcoholics….

It’s called “Hell on earth”

The good part is that we can leave anytime we want to….

We want to be anywhere but here…..

But it’s just so far away……
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Not anymore Trey, not anymore….Cat’s Got Your Back!

God Bless All,
Author Catherine Townsend-Lyon