Tag Archives: SMART Recovery

Recovery; Relearning to be sober

I just found this article on The Real Edition by Norcross about yet another “study” condemning Alcoholics Anonymous as a cult.

https://therealedition.com/sorry-that-aa-study-is-wrong/:

Now I do want to make one thing clear: AA is by no means the only way to get sober, or even the best. There is no “best” way. The best way to get sober is how you got sober. That’s for me, for you, for anyone who is giving it an honest try. Kicking booze and drugs is easily the hardest thing I’ve ever done, which includes having to re-learn how to walk at the age of 20 due to a major leg surgery.

I really enjoyed this article, and completely agree with the above statement. I could never get into AA/NA personally, I love the fellowship side of it but the rest just isn’t for me. As I’ve mentioned before, it is SMART Recovery that has saved my life. I suppose actually working the SMART tools is very similar to working the 12 steps, though. It works if you work it, and all that. And that, surely, is the point.

Whatever works for you, work it for all you’re worth, because you are definitely worth more than the alternative.

Nobody should be criticising anybody else’s chosen path to recovery. I am a firm believer that anybody in recovery should be researching all the options available to them and taking from it what is right for them, and them alone, because recovery is such a very personal journey. We all have to figure out our own way through it. Getting together with others in recovery and learning from their experiences has been hugely beneficial for me in the last few years. I hope others are able to learn from my experiences. That’s what fellowship is all about. Nobody else will ever understand like someone who is doing it themselves. But there are no hard and fast rules. So just because I don’t get on with NA, I would never discourage anybody else from attending. That isn’t my place. I have no right. Take what works for you and work it!

If it saves your life then grab it with both hands and do whatever you have to in order to keep a tight grip on it.

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Embrace your hunger for creativity: Slip inside my mind for 5 – by Antony Stevenson

You should read “Slip inside my mind for 5” on Wattpad. http://w.tt/1JBtAlL

My boyfriend wrote this today and just reminded me why I love him so much. I had to share and I hope you’ll read it cos it’s funny and honest and brilliant….wpid-wp-1441204288294.jpeg

I really hope someone, even just one person, gets some motivation from this to make the positive changes that will lead them to a fulfilling life. That’s what I strive for every day, at least. I think that natural creativity inside of some people can be a precursor to the addiction issues my boyfriend talks about here, maybe it’s an added sensitivity to our surroundings or maybe we feel too deeply, but if that urge to create isn’t fulfilled then it causes a hole deep within our soul, and eventually that hole can become an open wound. Some of the most intelligent and naturally talented people I have ever met have been addicts. I really believe that if we don’t fill that hole with positive, constructive hobbies then that can lead us to try and fill it with substances or other destructive behaviours; always seeking an external remedy for an internal, spiritual deficiency.

I don’t have any evidence to back up this theory, it’s just something I feel strongly based on my own experiences over the last 10 years, but I’m not alone in coming to this conclusion. I assume that it was a similar train of thought that led my mentor, Gary Staniforth, CEO of The Hidden Homeless and SMART Recovery UK facilitator, to create The Hidden Voices magazine and fill it with inspirational stories, pictures, poems, art of every kind, of people dealing with accommodation or addiction issues, allowing those who feel that they have been forgotten by society the chance to contribute in a meaningful way to something that really matters; shedding light on often misunderstood problems and bringing into focus the humanity behind the derogatory headlines, while also giving an outlet to people who have that drive to create.

Maybe everybody should be creating in some way. Perhaps I’m wrong in thinking that it is only ‘some’ people who have this artistic drive. Perhaps society in general has become so used to buying things cheaply, living in a consumer driven world where everything seems to be disposable, that we all suffer to some degree with feeling that nothing we do can make a difference. Maybe with so much emphasis on money and earning, with so many struggling just to survive, we don’t find the time to express what is inside us, we don’t place enough value on what we can create with our own hands beginning with just an idea and bringing it to fruition driven only by a need inside of us that demands to be met.

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So maybe I am over excited about my boyfriend finally connecting with his creativity again, it certainly isn’t the deepest, most insightful piece he’s ever written, but I know that those words needed to be let out, I know the talent that comes so naturally to him needs to be used, it was given to him for a reason and if he doesn’t use it then he will never be fulfilled. I value any expression of the inner self that is created by anybody just because they needed to get it out. So yes, it means a lot to me to be able to share this with you all. It is the sign I have been desperately waiting for that I have the man I love back with me, that he isn’t going to disappear again if I take my eyes off him, that there is hope.wpid-wp-1439233920356.jpeg

The best decision that I’ve ever made

In life coaching on Friday,  where i go weekly with the Hidden Homeless in Bradford, Nina asked everybody to consider writing a testimonial or something for the magazine,  Hidden Voices. A lot of the group wrote something there and then, but I couldn’t think of something that I hadn’t said before or already written in an evaluation sheet, so I said I’d have a think about it and write something later.wpid-wp-1437683979599.jpeg
I had a few ideas about what to write. I was going to write about the change in my life thanks to Gary (founder of Hidden Homeless)and Nina (amazing life coach) so I got out my notebook and made a list of the ten most obvious ways in which my life is different. Most were quite obvious, simple differences: I’ve started making a conscious effort to focus on the positives in my life, remembering to be thankful for my blessings rather than resentful of what I feel is missing from my life; I’ve developed love for who I am as a person, the me that is doing my best right now to be a person I can like, rather than focusing on the mistakes I’ve made in the past and the pain and embarrassment I’ve caused to my loved ones. Number 4 on my list was “I have gained the confidence in myself to make difficult choices.”

Today’s been quite a stressful day, and I’ve been so glad of a few tearful phone calls and IM chats with the amazing friends I’ve made in the last 6 months, my support network, which brought me to the conclusion that I have been quite a selfish friend recently because I’ve started slipping into old behaviours without realising it. I’ve been so focused on trying to drag somebody else through their dark times so that I don’t have to watch them self destruct or end up diving in after them, basically trying to control a situation that I can’t be responsible for in an effort to ensure that I didn’t throw myself into the abyss, and I didn’t realise I was doing a subtle, slow slide down into that despair filled pit without looking around and seeing where I was. I wasn’t paying attention. And I wasn’t any good to anybody because of it. I haven’t been there for friends who could’ve done with the support and I wasn’t helping the person I was holding onto so tightly.wpid-wp-1437683979620.jpeg
So I had another reminder that I have to take care of myself in order to be a good support to anybody else, and I’m glad I got it now rather than 6 months down the line.

Every week Nina gives us a small task to take home and reflect on. I maybe don’t put as much effort in as I did the first time I attended the course, just because I think more positively in general now after attending life coaching for 3 consecutive courses, and don’t often feel the need to really sit down and use my ‘homework’ quite so desperately as I once did. That frame of mind comes easier now, it’s a habit to analyse my thought rather than leading with my feelings. I couldn’t even remember what I had written down in the back of my notebook last week but today I felt like I really needed a a large dose of Nina’s ever – insightful, logical positivity!
As soon as I read my notes I knew instantly that this would work as a journal entry for my blog as it would be a good way to reflect on my emotional growth and I usually find writing therapeutic, and it would also be a good testimonial for the hidden homeless as without Gary and Nina I would never have learned the skills to separate my thoughts and my feelings and reflect objectively on my behaviour, or to stop beating myself up for the things I can’t change.

The task that I brought home after last Friday’s session was to think about a decision I have made in my life that just felt right; where I have been my true, authentic self and made a choice for my life that took courage, belief, and determination.

It was obvious to me which decision I needed to reflect on.

A few months ago, my partner and I finally got offered a new flat. It was a bit smaller than we were already in, but it was off the council estate that we have bought and used our drugs in for the past few years and away from everyone who knew us for that. I fell in love instantly with the flat. It’s set back off the road in a quiet, tree filled area, with floor length windows in the lounge and a welcoming atmosphere. I could really picture our future there, it was our fresh start and I was beyond excited. I instantly started trying to collect stuff for our new home, so we could have it cosy and really make it our own. I planned scatter cushions and decided on the mural we would have on the wall, so we could face both that and the beautiful windows. We were going to get married. wpid-wp-1437683978883.jpeg

Then, after a long and painful revaluation of my life, due to various circumstances,  I decided not to move into the flat with my partner. It broke my heart and I still have to wipe away tears remembering how painful it was to come that decision. I still feel as though the future I was working towards has been violently ripped away from me. My partner probably doesn’t feel any better and I feel guilty thinking that he might be feeling like I am, but I had to dig deep for the humility to accept that there is nothing I can do to influence the choices made by others, some things I can’t solve, no matter how much I wish to. If I could do what’s necessary for him I would shoulder that burden in a heartbeat. Nothing I can do will solve this situation right now, because it isn’t mine to solve. I have now, after lots of soul searching, many filled notebooks, and too many tubs of icecream, got the belief in myself to know I have done my absolute best and there is nothing more I can do without any cooperation. I did not give up easily. I have done everything that is within my power. I worked hard at it, but ultimately I had to try to find the serenity in accepting the things that I can’t change. I was emotionally drained, and I can’t afford to invest so much energy into a black hole, getting nowhere with my efforts. I know where that path leads for me and I am determined that I will not stray too close to it, not for anybody. Because then I’m no good for anybody.

Now I have returned to faith. I’m trying to keep that connection strong, be it to God, the universe, fate; there is something stronger than me at play in this world, and I am trying to trust that whatever happens next will somehow, eventually lead to better things. I know I made the right decision. It hurts, but nothing worth having comes to us easily, as long as I do my best with the things I am responsible for, as long as I remain aware of the way I’m living and focus my energy on the right things, everything will come together. Maybe it’ll all work out so that I get to spend the rest of my life with the man I have idolised for nearly 7 years and sacrificed so much to be with. Maybe that’s not what’s in store for us. I have no way of knowing, I just have to keep working on my life and hope he does what he has to in order to get what he wants from life.wpid-wp-1437683977899.jpeg

This isn’t what I expected, or wanted, my life to look like at this point but this is the hand I have been dealt and I am playing it to the best of my ability. I can’t afford to lose again.

My broken heart will, slowly but surely, heal and I’ll recover but active addiction will, slowly but surely, kill me and break the hearts of my children.

There really is no choice in it.

What do geese and addicts have in common?

Sounds like the setup for a terrible punchline, doesn’t it?

I just came across an interesting forum post called “Lessons From Geese” and it’s really made me think about both where I’m at in my recovery and where society is heading as a whole. I’ve heard a few people recently say that we’re heading backwards; all this censorship, inequality, terrorism and, even worse, our rights being gradually stolen in the name of anti-terrorism.

But I hope that the awakening I’ve felt happening around me gradually, little by little, for the last few years does take us backwards! I hope we can go back to a time when people looked after their communities; wherever we were when the NHS was set up and British people were proud that their taxes were paying for something that benefited everybody; when we did our shopping with locally owned businesses, with shopkeepers that knew our name and had time for a gossip, and our food was locally sourced and fresh instead of flown halfway around the world. Anyway, speaking of flying, back to the geese!

Society could learn a lot from geese, if we just look a little deeper

Lessons from Geese

Fact 1: As each goose flaps its wings it creates an “uplift” for the birds that follow.
By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater range
than if each bird flew alone.
Lesson: People who share a common sense of direction and community can get
where they are going quicker and easier because they are traveling on the
thrust of one another.

Fact 2: When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and
resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back into formation to take
advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.
Lesson: If we have as much sense as a goose we stay in formation with those
headed where we want to go. We are willing to accept their help and give
our help to others.

Fact 3: When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation and another
goose flies to the point position.
Lesson: It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and sharing leadership, as with
geese, people are interdependent on each other’s skill, capabilities and
unique arrangement of gifts, talents or resources.

Fact 4: The geese flying in formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up
their speed.
Lesson: We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. In groups where there
is encouragement, the productivity is much greater. The power of
encouragement (to stand by one’s heart or core values and encourage the
heart and core of others) is the quality of honking we seek.

Fact 5: When a goose gets sick, wounded or shot down, two geese drop out of
formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay until it dies
or can fly again. Then they launch out with another formation or catch up
with the flock.
Lesson: If we have as much sense as geese, we will stand by each other in difficult
times as well as when we are strong.

Lessons from Geese was transcribed from a speech given by Angeles Arrien at the 1991 Organizational Development Network and is based on the work of Milton Olson
community
smile at people in the street and chat to old ladies waiting for the bus; make your world a nicer place!

It seems perfectly obvious when you think about it but I, probably like a lot of people, sometimes need the obvious pointing out in order to think about it!
It’s something I’ve seen a lot from doing voluntary work with addicts and going to weekly Smart Recovery meetings. We’re quite often each other’s lifeline. There’s always at least one person in the group that’s struggling and everybody else naturally bouys them up; I do it automatically, without thinking, and then when I am struggling they will support me in return. It comes so naturally to us in recovery to ‘give back’ because we understand our own need for that support and we’re grateful for having recieved the benefits of it. I often think that if SMART, mindfulness and self awareness were taught in schools then the world would be a much nicer place!
Surely this is how the world should work? What comes so naturally to geese and to a lot of individuals in recovery should surely be the system on which our society is based? To look after those that are weaker than ourselves and to have the security of knowing that we, too, will be looked after should it be necessary, should be the foundation of everyday life; we must have understood this as a society at one point, it is what caused the formation of the NHS after all.
So until the world in general, or those running it, comes to its senses, let’s those of us that are self aware enough to know that we should always be looking at who we are as people in order to grow, and understand that we are all a constant work in progress, let’s look after those in our communities that need it, let’s talk to our neighbours and offer our support, let’s smile at people in the street and chat to old ladies waiting for the bus. Keep fighting to change your bit of the world, your community, for the better and show that we won’t submit to being worthless, easily replaced commodities with no individual spirit.

Let’s make the effort to spread positivity and hope that the message eventually spreads to those that haven’t quite got it yet!