Seven Days Without a Prayer Makes One Weak

I have never been a religious person. I used to consider myself an atheist but now I consider myself more of an agnostic. Religion still boggles my mind and makes me feel uneasy. I think it’s mostly because when I was a child no one actually explained it to me and what was its purpose. Therefore most of my life I did not have any beliefs, or spirituality, or a version of a Higher Power, but I always knew that there was a spirit looking over me – how else was I still alive after so many alcohol induced disasters.

Do not let any prejudice you may have against spiritual terms deter you from honestly asking yourself what they mean to you. Who are you to say there is no God?–AA, Big Book, pg 47

When I started my recovery journey, I couldn’t stay sober for more than a few months at a time. I kept thinking that I was missing something very important. Being part of a 12-step program I was often reminded that I needed a Higher Power, a God of my understanding, or a belief in something greater. I needed a spiritual path, and a faith of some kind. This was quite a tall order for my skeptical mind, and was not having any part of it.

But after many relapses I changed my mind and I was ready to try anything. I knew I was missing some kind of spirituality and I decided that if I couldn’t just believe, I would try accept it. I decided to let go of all my old beliefs and bought a little necklace with a cross pendant. It felt really uncomfortable wearing it at first because it symbolized all that I didn’t believe in, but then again, what could it hurt I assumed, it’s just a necklace, like a rabbits foot, a favorite shirt, or a crystal with special powers! 

We had to fearlessly face the proposition that either God is everything or else He is nothing. God either is, or He isn’t. What was our choice to be?–AA, Big Book, page 77

Then I started praying. First it was just a simple “Please help me stay sober.” and “Thank you for keeping me sober.” Then during the night when I could not sleep, I repeated the serenity prayer until I fell asleep.

I found myself praying in times of hardship, and asking for patience, acceptance and forgiveness. When I was faced with difficult people, I asked to be compassionate and caring. When I had financial troubles, I asked to have my worries taken away. I often used lines out of the Lord’s Prayer when dealing with my own wrongs and forgiveness; “and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

God grant me the serenity , to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.–Reinhold Niebuhr

This simple act of praying had became something much bigger than I would have ever imagined. It became my hope and faith! I even noticed that my urge to drink was lifted and life started to bloom around me. My heart got softer and kinder. I was smiling more often and I began to feel happy!

My spirituality has grown to something quite amazing since then, and today I truly believe that there is a Higher Power that cares for all of us. I still don’t believe in socialized religion but that’s OK. I have admired many Christian prayers and I have been able to rely on many Buddhist teachings.

For all of you who are still not quite sure, and are still looking for some scientific proof, I found this interesting article on WebMd, about a scientist who has spent many years studying the power of prayer.

For the past 30 years, Harvard scientist Herbert Benson, MD, has conducted his own studies on prayer. He focuses specifically on meditation, the Buddhist form of prayer, to understand how the mind affects the body. All forms of prayer, he says, evoke a relaxation response that quells stress, quiets the body, and promotes healing.

As an individual goes deeper and deeper into concentration, intense activity begins taking place in the brain’s parietal lobe circuits — those that control a person’s orientation in space and establish distinctions between self and the world. Benson has documented a “quietude” that then envelops the entire brain. The mind-body connection dissolves, Benson says.

Full article: Can Prayer Heal?

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How I Stopped Being Addicted to Chaos

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cha·os /ˈkāˌäs/
disarray, disorganization, confusion, mayhem, bedlam, pandemonium, madness, havoc, turmoil, tumult, commotion, disruption, upheaval, furor, frenzy

I lived in a state of chaos and turmoil for many years of my life, not just during my active addiction, but even years before the onset of my alcohol dependence. However, I never realized that this behavior was an addiction in itself.

In sobriety I thought that being busy would help me stay sober. I believed that if I became a doer and a planner, and got things done no matter what they really were, it would make me feel accomplished and make my life feel exciting too. No longer fueled by my alcohol addiction, I thought that by running around and being busy I was finally working towards a successful and meaningful existence.

But in therapy, I discovered that I was actually addicted to chaos! I did not even realize that my addiction was so exhilarating that I literally was not able to stand still! And all the running around was also creating the internal chaos that always kept me in a state of fear and panic, with anxiety through the roof and a constant worry, just waiting for the next shoe to drop.

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How did this happen?

Well, when I got sober, I started feeling uncomfortable when everything was going well and things were calm. That was not normal to me; normal was keeping busy and worrying about things getting done! Not realizing this, I subconsciously sought out excitement and drama because that was what I knew as normal in my drinking days.

But it was not just my drinking days! I grew up in a chaotic household. I threw myself in all and any activities in my school days. I sought out relationships that produced chaos and I stayed in jobs that were high energy and fast paced.

It all just seemed normal until, in sobriety and through recovery, it finally did not.

While in therapy I was able to recognize that every environment that I have been in and every relationship I had since I was a child to include my family, was chaotic and abusive. That was my normal and I had subconsciously recreated the same environment over and over and over again.

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The article Addicted to Chaos by Barsky, R. (2007), explains this phenomenon clearly.

“Despite the appearance of everything being under control, we experienced continued chaos, developed a tolerance for chaos and I believe became addicted to chaos. I think it is important to say I have never done a scientific experiment to investigate this theory. It is based on observation of numerous people and their behavior.

During the recovery process life becomes more manageable and less chaotic. The addict begins to feel a sense of autonomy and safety. A feeling of calm settles over their life. The paradox for the addict is that feeling calm is so unfamiliar it induces anxiety. There is a sense of waiting for the other shoe to drop. When there is a crisis, whether real or perceived, we actually experience a physical exhilaration and it feels remarkably like being active.”

Learning to slow down and get out of my addiction to chaos has been a long journey!

  • It took becoming comfortable with just existing.
  • It took finding new outlets, like coloring, crocheting or reading.
  • It took observing situations around me without acting on them.
  • It took many days of trying and failing and trying again.
  • It took strength to avoid chaos when it was around me.
  • It took setting firm boundaries and sticking to them.
  • It took learning how to say No and saying it often.
  • It took practicing Mindfulness as often as I could.
  • I took reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.
  • I took breaking the old habit by creating a new one.

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It also took some time to develop, and I am still work in progress but let me tell you about the amazing changes that had happened in my life! I am no longer running around frantically in a need to fix things. I no longer have a need to control everything. I no longer need to be physically on the move all the time. I no longer need to be in everyone else’s business and I no longer seek out chaos at all situations.

I can now sit through an entire movie and even binge watch TV! Today I am truly able to sit still, find peace and enjoy some time smelling the roses!




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Hope For The New Year

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Three years ago, I picked up a drink after being in long term recovery and my life had spiraled out of control. Today I am sober by the grace of my higher power and the people that continue to support me and love me unconditionally. This has been a true gift of 2019! However, I am not going to go back and review my 2019, instead, I will put my intentions forward and focus on hope and what it might bring in the year ahead.

My life has been immersed in recovery for quite some time. I had a long and difficult journey to where I am today. I am so very grateful for this life and for sobriety. I have been given another chance and I am reminded so often that even when things get tough there is always hope for a better tomorrow!

And hope is not merely wishful thinking; it is much more than that. Hope is knowing and strongly believing that though one is in a desperate situation, things will improve. This faith and optimism have helped me gather enough courage to get through it all, keep trying, and continue moving forward. Life is constantly changing, just like the weather, no two days are alike. But with hope, the bad days get better, and the great days are proof that hope does work.

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Recovery from Alcohol Use Disorder is so very painstaking. It has so many pieces to it. It’s not just putting down the drink. It’s learning a new way of life. It’s learning to take steps towards a better tomorrow. It’s growing new relationships and mending the old ones. It’s finding courage where there seems to be none. It’s facing life on life’s terms. It’s a journey sometimes one day at a time, one step at a time, or even one breath at a time. But little by little the days start adding up, good things start happening, and our attitude and outlook on life become more optimistic. We grow, we change, we experience all that sobriety can bring and hope is always there to carry us through it all.

So today, on this wonderful first day of 2020, I would like to share some quotes with you. These little paragraphs help me keep hope alive and set my intentions in a positive direction. I hope they can help you too!

So believe it.

Don’t waste another moment doubting or second-guessing what you know deep down inside you to be true. Live courageously and cast your fears aside. Open yourself up to the full spectrum of human experiences that are awaiting you and allow the spiritual essence that is present within us all to guide you. Ask your question sincerely and listen carefully for the reply. It will come. Let down the walls around your heart and love wholeheartedly. You will feel love and warmth greater than anything you’ve ever experienced. Say your prayer with unshakeable faith and wait for the answer. You will be blessed beyond your wildest dreams. You’re not crazy. Trust yourself. –  Chris Assaad

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Rise up

You can rise up from anything. You can completely reinvent yourself. Nothing is permanent. You’re not stuck. You have choices. You can think new thoughts. You can learn something new. You can create new habits. All that matters is that you decide today to believe in yourself! ~ Anonymous

Fucking Up

Hey sweethearts. A reminder: making mistakes in recovery/when you’re trying to quit drinking is not synonymous with going BACK somewhere or losing something. You can’t unlearn what you’ve learned, you can’t EVER undo the good you accumulate, you literally can’t go back in time to the person you were when you started. ~ Holly Glenn Whitaker – Hip Sobriety

Fear

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. ~ Nelson Mandela and spiritual author Marianne Williamson

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Don’t Give up

Cause sometimes you just feel tired, feel weak
And when you feel weak, you feel like you wanna just give up
But you gotta search within you
And gotta find that inner strength
And just pull that shit out of you
And get that motivation to not give up
And not be a quitter, no matter how bad you wanna just fall flat on your face, and collapse ~ Anonymous

Love

It’s love. When we love messy people well, we start to love our messy selves more. And all that love makes us BRAVE. And eventually, Love beats fear. Love Wins. ~ Brené Brown

Happy Sober New Year! May this be your best year ever!