Secrets fester

Ball, photo by Marcelo Gerpe, Buenos Aires, Argentina, stimulus responseWe should not confuse the concept of secrets and confidentiality. Confidentiality is when we don’t disclose information that belongs to someone else unless respecting that person’s privacy is threatening to someone else. Having a secret is withholding information because there is shame about it and that can only cause the secret to fester. One thing leads to another and before long the secret is exposed and so are the lies that have been used to cover it up. This is the basis for compulsions and addiction.

Gary came into the halfway house after detox
and the first lessons her learnt were that
he needed to abstain from using drugs
he needed to go to meetings every day
he needed to keep his own area clean
he needed to do likewise with the rest of the home
and he needed to be ‘up front, honest and open’
about how he felt and what he was doing
in other words ‘no secrets’ because they
go hand in hand with lies and shame
which are what everyone needs to be free of
so as to be in recovery from addictions

How to handle feelings

Orchadee 2, photo by Frank Muller, Wallenfels, Bayern, Germany,  positive outlookAtlanta left this positive comment on my previous post on “Addiction and anger”. I show it here so that people can see yet another example of how people can handle their feelings in a manner so that ‘they run their feelings instead of their feelings running them’. Congratulations to both of you, Atlanta, for practising smart living.

“Thanks for this post Affie. A friend and I were talking just last night about this very thing. She is a person that is responsible and likes to take care of things but underneath the anger was brewing. She didnít rage, but identified that she wasnít expressing how she she wasnít happy with a situation. I think bringing awareness to emotions is a way to start to process them and bring about some relief.”

Leisure time for good health

Exercise by the sea, photo by Adam Kurzok, trinec, Czech Republic, wellbeing We can get swept up by work commitments, which results in emotional and physical burnout. We are not aware of this happening because usually the process is enjoyable. Having purpose and direction is very potent for us human beings, whether paid or voluntary activities. However, without leisure time for good health, we can become sick. This can creep up on us, manifesting as common illnesses, depression, addiction and/or moodiness. Being vigilant about these symptoms? can be an early remedy. Better still is prevention, so we need to have a balance between our work and leisure time – no excuses.

I was chosen to run a new program and
we had great success with it which was
most beneficial for the clients involved
I was on call 24 hours a day
for their safety and that of the workers
and after 2 years at this pace
my weight increased and I got
chronic bronchitis and diabetes
my moodiness was not apparent to me
then I developed depression
which took 6 months to recover
I realised how run down I had become, so
I quit the job and found more relaxing work
to this day I am amazed at how intoxicating
that project was that I did not notice
how hard I was working and how
my leisure time had become minimal

90 meetings in 90 days

Chairs 1, photo by Anka Draganski,  London United Kingdom, http://www.fofiles.co.uk, 12 Step meetingsRegardless of which addiction we are afflicted with, a trusted and true recovery method has been to go to 90 meetings in 90 days with a willingness to abstain. Just getting to sit in 12 Step meetings, until the message gets through to your subconscious, is the key. As you sit with the feelings that were the reason you needed to self medicate, you own them as being your feelings which releases the fear about them, then you can relax. Relaxation brings us peace in our inner turmoil. The other powerful influence of attending meetings is that when we identify with others’ experiences they model solutions for us and “monkey see monkey do”. If we don’t do 90 in 90 then at least 3 meetings a week are absolutely necessary.

he told his therapist that he was
really pissed off with her because she
set homework for him to attend
7 meetings a week with other tasks
such as writing, reading, walking and
affirmations on a daily basis
a therapist himself, he felt he lived
the program and 1 meeting a week
would be sufficient, however
he surrendered and was amazed
that this meant he had needed to
let go of the control that had been
ruining his recovery
and it worked
a proven remedy

Resentments

That look, photo by Betty Miller, Colorado, United States, http://fireyes.deviantart.com, inner turmoilEvery day we have mixed feelings about different matters. Resentments are strong feelings which we can bury deep within, contaminating our wellbeing. What’s worse is being in denial about doing just that. Resentments are so cunning that we can ignore their existence until it’s too late and we have surprising explosive behaviours. That’s why it’s far better to be in touch with our feelings and own them as being naturally ours, and in doing so they settle down. Then we need to observe their origin and what can be done to resolve this turmoil. The expression ‘befriend our demons’ means finding those feelings which we have suppressed, that have subsequently turned into problematic behaviour, and processing them.

she had long ago ‘befriended her demons’
as a result of intense therapy and
personal and professional development
she took pride in being a guide for others
on similar journeys of enlightenment
but she didn’t notice resentments building up
deep within, in her inner world
on the outside she was busy and happy
but something was not as it should be
she’d gained weight and had an insatiable appetite
it took 3 OA meetings a week to get real
about her buried unwanted feelings of
resentment, self pity, boredom, loneliness
which she was busy avoiding with activities
and for which she had paid the price
fortunately it didn’t take long for her
to tweak her choices back into healthy living

That look, photo by Betty Miller, http://fireyes.deviantart.com

Devil woman

Paper devil, photo by Brian S, Jakarta Indonesia, no faultHow often have we heard “the devil made me do it”? In actual fact we make choices and sometimes we regret these choices and find it necessary to blame others in order to save face. This is especially the case when the consequences are not wanted. No one can make us feel anything we don’t want to – we allow them to make us feel in a certain way.

he had cheated before but convinced his wife that
it wouldn’t happen again and she believed him
then one day he disappeared with his best friend’s wife
she suffered for two weeks not knowing where he was
then he came back and professed his love for her
insisting that he did not love the other woman
but that she had thrown herself at him and
eventually he weakened and gave into her spell
the devil woman made him do it
that was the line that convinced his wife
it was impossible for them to
have a happy life together so she ended it
to this day he cries over being dumped by her
and his friends actually feel sorry for him!

Addiction and anorexia

Mannequins, photo by Marco Michelini, Firenze, Italy, beauty mythMuch has been written about the effect that thin models and movie celebrities have on young women. In an effort to look like these role models young women develop eating disorders. Addiction and anorexia are the same condition. When a person suffers from anorexia it is on the same eating disorder continuum as compulsive overeating. Just as life threatening as other addictions anorexia results in a distorted perception. The afflicted person does not see themselves as being thin and continues to do without food in order to lose more weight.

she was such a loveable person and
so thoughtful too, not to mention how
talented she was in writing
poetry straight from the heart
however, she battled addiction and anorexia
she managed to become free of the heroin
but not of the need to avoid eating
no matter what she tried it worked only
for a short time and then she was back
to her old ways which eventually led her
to her heroin addiction and death from starvation
some more fortunate are rescued from this fate

Maintain vigilance

Owl eyes, photo by Kristof Degreef, Nieuwerkerken, Belgium, nothing missedOne human weakness is the need to stop doing what works when things are going well. Usually people who have found their sanity by taking the relevant medication will, against medical advice, stop taking the medication when they feel well, with horrendous consequences. Others will find solutions to their problems through counselling and once the situation improves they stop doing what was necessary to achieve the results, again with horrendous consequences. We need to keep vigilant about unacceptable changes in our wellbeing and once we find solutions then also maintain vigilance to ensure that improvements are not lost.

the last time I saw them they had after a few sessions
resolved their difficulties and made a checklist of what
they had done to sort things out so that they could
continue what worked and maintain the improvement
intelligent, successful, people meant commitment to
the system for success, or so you’d think
why should they be any different to the rest of us
a human frailty is becoming overconfident
and stopping what works
it can happen to me too if I don’t maintain
the vigilance and even then I am prone!
a year later they were back almost ready to divorce and
full of resentment, anger, defensiveness and vengeance
they had time to each tell their version of the problem
having expressed themselves we looked at their checklist
maybe one or two items had been maintained
but the rest had been grossly neglected
although it seemed hopeless we began again
and bit by bit things got turned around
after a few sessions they were back on track
back to basics always works yet we have
a tendency to complicate things

Sex and love addiction

Heels, photo by Marko Matovic, Cacak, Serbia, obsessive compulsive So many people nowadays suffer with sex and love addiction and yet are in denial about it. They are seen as rogues and the behaviour is condoned. Or it seems easier for people to believe that a person is worthless because they lose control of their desires for sex and love. Whereas if there was more understanding that this behaviour is a disorder or disease which can be treated, then it could be corrected. It is described simply by the need to have sex and love in order to get a thrill, only to feel guilty afterwards because the consequences are bleak and people are hurt. At times it is life-threatening when those involved are careless too.

he said that he couldn’t understand
what happened and that he took such a chance
he had not intended to have a one night stand
and yet he felt driven and what’s more
he didn’t use a condom
now he was stressed as he may have
signed his own death warrant
this was not the first time this had happened
and yet he is a good looking, successful guy
any number of women are attracted to him
something had to be done and right away
he agreed he couldn’t do it alone and needed help
he’d been to have his Aids test and
now he made a commitment to go to
Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous which
he had resisted for so long
when I saw him next he seemed
more serene and spoke about how
surprised he was at meeting people
he respected and some who had
been through the same thing as he had
but were free of the madness
and now he felt there was hope for him
I saw him again one year later and he
was in recovery and grateful for his health
emotional physical and spiritual

[SLAA Sydney telephone: 9358 6605]

The clown in addiction

Clowns 2, photo by Sasha Davas, Australia, double bindIn life we need fun and laughter to stay healthy. When it is missing then we turn to substances and or processes that lift our spirits. Unfortunately, using such means results in repetitive behaviour which is not fulfilling because eventually whatever we do isn’t enough. The clown in addiction can be a cover up for immense unhappiness and low self esteem. In other circumstances, the clown is a fun performance for the audience to enjoy.

as she spoke to me about the sadness and abuse
she had experienced all her life up till now
she chuckled often at the most traumatic recollections
as a therapist I was obliged to give her feedback on this
pointing out that incongruous behaviour was not unusual
in codependence and addictions
she quickly understood the message about
the clown in addiction
and this insight, although it hurt a little
no pain no gain they say
helped her to be more authentic about
her feelings and therefore closer
to resolving the turmoil inside
serenity at last