This is a bit about me:
Thanksgiving; (Canada); October 11, 2010:
Dear friend, and gentle reader ; my name is Brian, and I am an addict.
I am also an ordinary, average, decent human being whom you probably wouldn't even notice if you passed me on the street. Please forgive my awkward and clumsy attempt at introducing myself. This story represents the essence of my life experience. That is not a big deal, and that is not what this is about. "Telling the truth" is hard. "Processing" it is even harder. "Integrating" it into my life-consciousness is a commitment that continues to this day. Sometimes, it has seemed like I was going through hell. As far as I can tell, the only way out of hell is through the doubt, fear, ignorance, and pain of my own confusion and negative thinking. That is what this story is really about: going through my own personal hell, and finding the Spirit of God within.
What I have described is my own experience of reality. I want to make that very clear before you read this. Parts of this story are not very nice and not very pretty (otherwise why would I need therapy?). This story represents over 30 years of "searching for an answer", and more than ten years of professional therapy. At this point, I still don't have any "answers". What does seem to exist is a higher level of personal trust and self-acceptance.
Many people would consider that what I have written is "personal". Yes, it happened "to me", but it is not "personal". It is not even special. Stories like this, and many more even worse than this exist in many therapist's files. Just read some of the case histories in the professional literature. The people who have been lucky enough to able to find help and heal and grow represent only a small fraction of the people who have been abused. My point is that while parts of it may be extreme, my story is not an isolated example. It is quite possibly more typical than anything else.
The difference is that those case histories were written from the outside, looking in. This story is written from the inside, looking out.
Before you read it, please be aware that I am very honest and I talk very explicity and truthfully about what happened, and what I thought, and what I believed. This was and still is a necessary part of the process, but it may disturb you. If so, when you get to those parts, just put it down for awhile, count your blessings, and thank God for your sense of propriety and decency.
I have been doing 12 Step work for over 20 years and I only just recently completed my Step 12. My issue is not just drugs. I have been diagnosed as bipolar type 1 (a serious mental disorder), I have been in therapy for complex post-traumatic stress disorder for over six years (a serious emotional disorder from being tortured and abused as a child and young adult) and, I am an addict (a serious spiritual disorder).
Maybe you don't want to know about someone like me. If so, that's OK. This may be self-pity, but I have felt like a total stranger on the planet for a long time. I have experienced the consequences of being misled, misguided and betrayed by people I trusted and loved and believed in. Today, by the grace of God and with the help of other caring people, like yourself I hope, I have a good life.
I am very grateful and I am very thankful for that. One of the results of being in therapy and doing the 12 Step program is that I am more at peace with myself and my past than I ever have been before. One thing I can say at this point is that I am not superficial and shallow. I am sincere, genuine, trustworthy and true.
I can't change either you or anyone else, but I can change how I see the world and deal with "reality" by changing how I see myself and how I view others. Then I can assume responsibility for who I am, my part in things, and for what I am up to in life. The process of healing and recovery works. It may be hard, it may be confusing and it may be very painful, but with humility, patience, persistence, dedication, love, truth, compassion and forgiveness, it works. I am not telling you how to do your program or how to live your life; I am just sharing what has worked for me.
Today, as a result of working the Steps; prayer, meditation and contemplation are a part of my daily spiritual practice. But what is the point of meditation if you are just going to recycle the same old thoughts? I have used meditation to examine my thinking, how I view myself, how I view others, and I have used my God-given intelligence; the creative power of thought, to change, learn, and grow.
I think that this is an important aspect of what healing and growth require that many addicts may not have fully recognized. Self-deception, justification, rationalization and denial (all forms of dishonesty) keep many people trapped in old, negative, self-defeating patterns of thinking and behaviour.
I understand that as an addict you probably don't believe in "God" the way conventional orthodox Christian religion would have you believe: Some guy sitting on a throne up in the sky somewhere; see The Book of Revelation in the Holy Bible. Neither do I. It took me almost twenty years of work to clarify my understanding and to create a positive, constructive, working relationship with the God of my understanding. Now I can honestly say that my relationship with the God of my understanding is the most important relationship in my life. That is what my story is really about; getting out of "hell" by working on my relationship with God; and some of the "stuff" I experienced and had to work through along the way.
Somehow, by the grace of God; not just God working through me, but also God working through the ideas of many other people, (including other addicts), I have found my way through the woods and I have dealt with the evil witches, the dragons, demons, tyrants and the "evil spells" (lies, deceptions, half-truths and just plain old bad psychology) that I found there. There is a way out of the woods and I would like to share some of my experience in the hope that you may find it helpful and supportive in your journey, too. Today I am experiencing a sense of personal and spiritual freedom that I have never felt before. I also know that there is more to do.
You may disagree with me and that is your prerogative, but I have noticed that it is very hard to do the work of personal growth and transformation if one doesn't believe in a kind and caring God or if one really just wants to stay a "victim": Today I believe that God is spiritual, immutable, intangible. I did not always believe this. Today, I believe that the Spirit of God is always available. My understanding is that the Spirit (essence) of God is infinite, divine, inexpressible, incomprehensible, intangible, immutable creative, (caring), love, truth, compassion, forgiveness, humility, principle, and intelligence. (Here is a classic example of using words to try to describe what can't be described but can only be felt, sensed and appreciated intuitively. It can also be reasonably inferred from my "re-interpretation" of Tao Teh King).
And yet, the problem of evil or suffering and negativity also exists in the world. I think that "satan" or "the devil" of my conventional, orthodox Christian religious tradition would be more useful as a metaphor for our own "negative ego" that manifests in doubt, fear, ignorance, anger, false pride, dishonesty, greed, pain and confusion.
"Negative ego" can be transformed or "overcome" by love, truth, compassion, forgiveness, humility, principle, and intelligence. But first it takes a sincere desire and commitment to stop being a "victim", to change, learn, and grow by assuming the possibility or even the necessity of change, the practise of positive faith, persistence, wholesome self-discipline and the desire to live a better life and be a better person based, as luck would have it, on spiritual principles; not religious dogma, doctrine, theology and ideology.
I have observed that even in the 12 Step Program this does not always happen and many people continue to live lives of self-sabotage, self-victimization and self-destruction created by their own negative thinking (which is too often reinforced if not encouraged or even created by the media and ultimately by our own religious, political and spiritual leaders). How do we get this to stop? I don't know but I sure would like to find out and I think it starts with a sense of personal choice and personal responsibility first.
I could go on for a long time but I think I have said enough. I would just like to leave you with the thoughts I have just shared with you. If you read my story and find it helpful and supportive please feel free to share it with others who may also be trapped in doubt, fear, ignorance, anger, false pride, dishonesty, greed, pain and confusion like I was.
Thank you for whatever attention you may give these thoughts and ideas and may God bless you and those you love and care for. Just like anything else, take what you like and leave the rest. "Thank you for listening".
Sincerely; yours in friendship,