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Step Two: Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to Sanity

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“Remember that we deal with alcohol-cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power-That One is God. May you find Him now!”  Big Book of AA, How it Works

 Step Two, I am realizing today presents a problem for me, one that is perhaps unique to someone who has had more than a few days sober.  I know, deep in my heart that God helped me to get and sober and continues to help me stay that way. I do not have to believe anymore.  

That said, for most of my sobriety God has been a formless, secret and invisible benefactor. In spite of trying them on and professing to worship a variety of higher powers, I have taken no name for God and not set of rituals and associated beliefs into my heart and for the last year I have found myself wondering if that is not blocking me off from God in some ways, either small or vast. 

There are times at which I feel like I know God better than any human has the right or ability to, and other times where I feel that I was a fool for ever thinking or believing anything about God at all. 

God can restore me to sanity, but only if I am ready and willing, only if I can come to God. But If I believe in a God, then why do I lay awake at night now, pondering and agonizing over my own mortality, why don’t I have the certainty in my heart that there is an after life? 

There are so many times I find myself wishing I had the certain and absolute beliefs that Christian’s and other followers of organized religion have. I wish often that I could be Christian actually, maybe non-denominational or Catholic, but they are too distant from my personality and my understanding of God and much of what I see of their God, I cannot condone. 

I could go on and on about this, the point is, I am in existential crisis and Step Two is not a matter for of wondering if God can restore me to Sanity, but rather a question of whether or not I am going to allow God to restore me to sanity.

Chances are, I will have to transform myself or be prepared to transform myself even further and mold myself to fit God, rather than find a God that fits into the mold that I have made and that is a very uncomfortable thought. 

I know that for me, finding the answer will start with consulting Walt Whitman, a dreaming of a cave I used to fly to to talk with my vocational ancestors, unchaining my mystical, spiritual self and embracing it without being embarrassed, self conscious or afraid. 

Written by jamesjanus

March 8, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Sobriety Re-Boot (Step One)

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Since around the time that my mother’s cancer got bad, perhaps even longer, I have not been the same, haven’t been myself and have been way off center. I haven’t felt right or been acting right and suddenly that awful trajectory has slipped into overdrive. When you are a recovered alcoholic and you find yourself lost or in a tailspin there is just one thing to do, start over at Step One and walk all the way through, this time do it better, if you think you did it with a willingness to go to any lengths, go farther. Go to more meetings and get a new sponsor.

It is my intention to do all of that starting right now, before I am lost and hopefully better with greater abandon and willingness to surrender than any time before so I don’t have find myself back this far again. As part of my meditation and conscious contact, I will try to write something, hopefully with Gratitude every day. When I am focused on a step, I will write about it. I won’t publish my (next) fourth step here, but I will talk about it.

Step One

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol— that our lives had become unmanageable

4.6 years or 1684 days ago, I was without exaggeration dying.  Having one fat bloated foot in the grave and the other in pool of whiskey. I was an alcoholic of the hopeless variety and at 34 I had an illustrious drinking career spanning almost two decades.  I had tried to moderate, tried to quit and tried to deny my problem, sometimes I even acknowledged I was an alcoholic, but didn’t think that was a problem.  I couldn’t see how it was destroying my relationships, my mental or emotional state, or care about how it was killing me.  So, yeah by the letter of it, I know Step One for a fact everyday.

That said, if you aren’t paying attention the fine print between the lines of Step One can be overlooked, forgotten or ignored.  At nearly five years sober, I alternate between understanding and forgetting that my powerlessness over alcohol is almost the least of my problems (because I have no desire to drink today), because there is a list over things, which stacked end to end could reach to the moon and back, that I am also powerless over and unable to do shit about. Just like continuing to drink or trying to conquer it without God’s help, continuing to try to have power over any item on this list will make my life unmanageable.

What am I powerless over? In short form it is:

People:  Examples, My stepsons Autism, his attitude and his choices (when I’m not around). I cannot make my friends sober, or make them do things that are good for them, I cannot make my wife work out, take medicine or go to the doctor, I don’t get to choose for other people and I CAN judge them, but it will only make me unhappy and less useful to them.

Places: Examples,  Can’t change systems or my very much about my place in them. Schools, Courts, Work, Police, Creditors all operate and have the authority they do and I will not be able to overcome that

Things: Stuff breaks, cars die, houses are in their state, money is never abundant enough, traffic goes however it goes, rain, sleet, snow, heat. I have power and authority over absolutely none of these things and that is just how it is, no amount of fear or worry, or rage or pleading or pleasing is going to make that change.

and my life has become unmanageable

Because for nearly five years I have been prone to distraction and dropping out and holding back, my life, while so much better than it was before, is not managed like it should be today.  I have multiple lawyers pursuing me financially and have met suddenly with around between 12 and 17 thousand dollars that absolutely must be paid out to creditors and taxes in the next 8 months or so and I am sure that my ex wife will be following suite since she isn’t getting payments. Almost comically I am in jeopardy of losing a fucked up mess of a house that I don’t even have a mortgage on because I have neglected to pay the taxes! Holy shit, who does that?

Someone, who is seriously ill, who has a program of recovery that works miracles, has worked miracles for him, but who has held back and hasn’t been paying attention in class because he is a terminal fool.

My life is no longer unmanageable because of alcohol, but because God talks and I don’t listen, or I am too afraid to do what is right, or speak up or take charge. Fear, Fear, Fear, Fear, Fear until I am tired of being afraid and lash out with anger, upsetting everyone and thinking I can control everything. I am it seems at times a  farce, a comical exaggeration of a man.

With a powerful need to escape all of this, I will drop to my knees today and say unto the Teeth Mother, the other Sacred Muses and the Word,  my own Step One

I admit that I am powerless over alcohol, other things, people and places and having forgotten that, have made my life entirely unmanageable; I am lost and adrift and will not find my way alone.

Step One: The Prodigal son comes home, having made a mess on his own.

 

Written by jamesjanus

March 6, 2013 at 6:53 pm

Next right thing

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My wife Kim, myself and our youngest boy have all been very ill with this horrible flu that has been going around. This weekend I chose to push through it (being the least affected, though trust me that is cold comfort) and be as productive as I could.

It may not seem like it in the moment, but when I do the right things, when I am productive and useful to others, I always feel happier and more centered. There is still much to be done, but I spent my time trying to order the house and get giant piles of laundry done. It is staggering how easily I give into my laziness and excuses when all I get out of it are negative feelings of ineptitude, guilt and shame. Instead, when I am productive I feel happy, more confident and more fulfilled.

I think upon entering AA four years ago, that was best advice given to me, “just take it one day at a time, and always ask yourself and your higher power what next right thing is, then go do it.” I want to get better at following that consistently.

Written by jamesjanus

October 1, 2012 at 7:23 pm

Just a random thing that wrote itself in my head

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Positive energy must flow from you, out over people around you like a river rushes down the mountain
some like fish and animals will swim and drink of it, being cleansed and nourished
some like the sand and dirt will flow along with you
others, like reeds will bend to your momentum
The rocks, the rocks will dig in and remain, some fighting and attempting to block your current
Never mind them, in time your waters will polish and carve them into proper shape

Written by jamesjanus

September 10, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Posted in AA, Writing

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10th Stepping

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Who you were later in the morning, that was yourself and was who you need to be always
– You prayed
– You relaxed
– You let the resentment go

Early this morning
-Scared, Anxious, Frustrated
– Selfish
– Angry, resentful, even more anxious

Very bad, living in your sickness instead of the solution.

Remember to serve, to relax and to be yourself, but be selfless.

Written by jamesjanus

August 24, 2012 at 4:21 pm

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Once upon a time, there was a little boy

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who didn’t fit in, wasn’t good enough, felt abandoned, betrayed and punished by the world around him; he tried to be different, he tried to fit in, he tried to do what was asked of him and failing that he built walls around his heart, cut himself off, turning to rage, sarcasm and a false sense of superiority and to cope with the side affects of that, he turned to booze and drugs.  Over time, he lost faith in mystical things, listening as his humanity, his soul and imagination whimpered and starved, caged off behind walls of fear, shame, guilt and loathing for everything including himself.   All of those feelings of inadequacy, hurt and fear followed with him in his heart, making even accomplishment and success taste bitter.

I was that boy and though I am undergoing a process of recovery and there are very specific steps to healing that have been laid out before me, even though while I am actually doing the work and following those steps I can feel the pain, doubt and self loathing lifting from me, as faith, hope, courage, humility and gratitude take their place; I find from time to time, that I get distracted and pause in the process, and when I pause in the process I find fear and the moment that happens, that little boy hops into the Captain’s chair in my mind and suddenly everything that the day before was so beautiful, acceptable and right, turns dark and sinister and ugly.

I am in the middle of what are supposed to be the most transforming steps in my program of recovery and I paused because I allowed other things to seem more important and now I am suffering, now I am afraid. Now I am wrestling with what must seem to be a ridiculous question of faith to some and I am terrified of letting go suddenly of many of my character defects, because they have been like an armor to me, a cursed armor that has been killing me even as it protects me, but none-the-less it has been protective. To trust, really and truly trust other people, indeed to trust god and myself has a ring of horror to it. It is such a ridiculously simple thing, what it all boils down to in the end.

Come to trust and accept that all is as it should be, learn to relax and embrace myself and life itself, finding serenity on the other side of that surrender

or, reject that continue on in pain and misery.

What is the nature of my crisis of faith?  I fear people will laugh and not understand, but it is very real to me and is not some kind of melodrama.

Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must”, then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse. – Rainer Rilke  Letters to a Young Poet, Volume One

Though beyond the odd poem or blog, I have written very little over the last 6 years or so, I have always considered myself a writer because I cannot stop the impulse, cannot stop thinking about it and it has been that way since I was in grade school.  It has been known to me from a very young age that this is God’s universe and that I have been given these gifts for a reason. This is the cornerstone of both my faith and my current crisis. A little over three years ago, driving to an AA meeting in North Carolina, I had a spiritual experience, my first legitimate one since childhood. It suddenly struck me that I had not only wasted my talents for writing, using them for nothing but making money; I had chosen drinking and drugs over my gifts that mission that I was given.  I was so moved that I had to pull over and weep. I made my apology to my own divine trinity, The Word, The Muses and The Divine and Beautiful.

I soon forgot, circling back from time to time, expecting some sort of order, for the Muse to tell me what to write, though I have had little conscious contact with them or The Word. I have many ideas, many impulses to write, but I left them alone, shrugging off time constraints or paralyzed by uncertainty which of things in my head are a part of the mission. Painfully, I see today that there is a possibility that all of it, any of it, could be what I was meant to put down. There will be no moment where Brigid  or Gabrielle or any other muse or angel will appear to me and announce the instructions to my mission.

And here is the final bit that I hide from everyone I know, myself included: I believe – I am a believer, a mystic, transcendental poet, capable of working words like a prophet, with the heart of a child and the trembling soul of one charged with illuminating a divinity I myself could not possibly hope to understand. This is why I cry when I watch or think too much of Peter Pan and Winnie the Pooh, or Alice – because while my head my have turned from faith, from the mystical truths and power of belief, my heart, locked away in the dungeon I created for it, never did and somewhere, I knew I was betraying my heart and the God’s that created it.

I believe:

  • Anything, anything conceivable by the human mind is possible
  • That there is not a force more powerful or important in this Universe or any other more powerful that love. Which means it must be the very essence of our creator
  • I believe in the power of words, that they are more powerful that medicine or weapons; so how we speak to ourselves in thought and out loud to others is of great importance. Negative words, construct negative ideas and drive negative behavior..from the choice of words to care with which they are spoken and cadence that they march out of us, every syllable counts
  • I believe being awe struck, filled with wonder and incorrigibly optimistic are some of the best food for the soul
  • I believe that every single thing in the Universe is beautiful and divine, and a part of a system created by the The Word that is perfect, that all apparent systems within in are copies of the larger system and that if you understand one of those systems, you understand everything.
  • I believe in the muses, I believe that they not only work to inspire and illuminate for me, but actually push the message of the word through me, whenever I get out of the way
  • I believe that all acts of communion among human beings are divine and wonderful, this includes acts of mercy, consenting acts of passion and sex, kindness, community prayer and worship, rituals, family gatherings and so on
  • I believe in the message of Christ, of Buddha and other great religious figures
  • I believe that Martin Luther King and Gandhi where recent avatars of God
  • I believe requirements for faith are not God’s concern, that turning from your creator does not make his/her ego bruise, but will cause you suffering, because you must go through everything frightened and alone
  • I believe that I should be writing more

I believe that if I can let that scared and angry little boy grow up to have trust, faith and wonder again, that great things are ahead for myself and for everyone else in my life.  I believe too that since it will not leave me alone, one day, I hope sooner rather than later I will return to writing regularly and that whatever I am supposed to do will be done in time.

Written by jamesjanus

April 19, 2012 at 7:31 pm

Harms

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Make an accounting of those you have harmed is illuminating and painful. I don’t know if it is right or wrong, but for me, what I see today is that the more truly decent someone is, the more any harm I have caused them bothers me, no matter how small or even rationally unavoidable that it may have been.

Written by jamesjanus

March 6, 2012 at 6:40 pm

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