I got it...
I was about 8 months into my recovery journey, and I realized that I didn't feel compelled to use drugs or to drink.
I didn't feel an ever-present compulsion to do the same-old, familiar, visible actions of self-destruction and misery creation. I didn't need to do the same old actions that used to show and prove addiction was alive and flourishing in my life.
I also realized that there was a lot more work to do.
I was "clean", but not "serene"
Recovery for me at that point wasn’t just about not using... I realized that the place where I struggled, and the thing that "drove" me, was and always had been the emotional pain of isolation, loneliness, and confusion.
I rarely felt like "I fit" - I even described myself as an alien who got put here by some weird accident. I knew "how to play the game" - but I just didn't want to play. It didn't make sense to me.
I didn't have these words for it at the time...
I was most often pushed around by "the usual suspects” - the uncomfortably challenging feelings and emotions of anger, fear, irritation, frustration, chaos, sadness, anxiety, and worry. To manage these, I had practiced isolation, withdrawing from others, and seeking people who were worse off from me so I could feel superior - or at least not as messed up as I knew I was.
I practiced uniqueness - thinking I was different than others, and that what applied to them, couldn't apply to me. I tried distraction, thrill seeking, and dangerous activities (I became a fire eater and taught in the circus, among other things). Even though I sought relief in these and other ways, I was left with feeling and dealing with overwhelm, obsessions, compulsions, and resentments – and THOSE things seemed to be where I struggled the most...
Back in the mid-1980’s...
There were many advances being made in the world of recovery. Caring and committed writers were publishing books on codependency, Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families, specialist books on addiction, and many other personal development subjects.
I discovered, read, and studied all the books, courses, and videos on anything I could find related to how to get well.
I was shocked
When my counselor told me "You're well" - at 4 years of recovery - I was shocked because I didn't feel "well" - and I certainly wasn't confident in it. I could "pass" as "doing OK" - but I knew that my outside appearance didn't reflect what was really going on inside me.
Inside, I still felt like I was a mess...
I was more confident in my mess than I was in my togetherness.
In my first year, if a stoplight took too long to change to a walk signal... I could "lose it" with impatience, frustration, anger, and other emotional outbursts that were not in proportion to the event. I knew I was definitely my own worst enemy - because I could just as easily "lose it" with other people. While I got better than that over time, I knew I still needed to do some serious work - but I didn't know where to look, or have faith that any of the guru's or their techniques could actually help me. Like many, I had problems with knowing who, what, and how to trust - because I was so afraid of getting hurt - again.
12 Step meetings are great, but...
I’ve found it’s possible to spend a lot of time going to meetings, doing service work, working with a sponsor, being a sponsor, attending conventions, doing the meetings before and after the meetings, and still lack serenity - and any sense of happiness.
The 12 Step fellowship is amazing, and one of my primary support networks - please know that I enthusiastically endorse and encourage fostering positive relationships within the fellowship.
The sad fact is...
The program and the fellowship just doesn't do "ALL of it" for everyone.
In 35 years of recovery, I've had the sad experience, many times over, of seeing people fail - of seeing friends die from this disease. They die from un-diagnosed early relapse symptoms that lead them back to using, resulting in fatal overdose or suicide. Some go to jail again and again, or they get hopelessly injured by the effects of the disease of addiction.
Addiction doesn't just wreck havoc on the life of "the person with the problem"
Children get taken away from their parents. Fighting can break out among siblings and other family members who are desperately watching their loved one fall into the pit of addiction. Issues about loyalty and how to handle "If you really loved me you would (or wouldn't)..." and other addictive manipulations can be hard for family members to deal with as well.
Family members don't always "get it" about how addiction or recovery works... so families get torn apart, often after years of pain. And then? They suffer from the memories of that pain, and the "What if..." kinds of questions which can haunt them forever.
I went to meetings weekly for years - for decades
I had several sponsors, wrote the steps, did service work, and followed all the other suggestions. I received therapy and professional counseling; and I did years of “working on myself”.
I trained and became a professional counselor, and I was able to help loads of people with lots of different issues. Yes, I had moments of freedom and serenity, and even some fun.
Despite this, I found I still had a deep confusion and dissatisfaction with “how to make sense of it all”.
I knew I wanted to, but I didn't know how to control or communicate the peace, the beauty, and the alignment I occasionally felt to anyone else in a reliable way.
Deep down inside myself, I felt frustrated. I still rode a crazy making emotional roller coaster without any confidence that I could ever make sense of my emotional experience and the world.
What was I searching for?
From when I was a little boy, I was often told that I learned things the hard way – and that I was “too sensitive”, “too serious”, or that I was just simply "wrong" - without ever knowing how to be right! I didn’t seem to fit in, no matter where I was, who I was with, or what I was doing.
I hoped that there was a way to make sense of my emotions – and not just mine, but emotions for anyone. A way that didn’t tell me I was “too sensitive”, or neurotic, or that I had PTSD or that I was bi-polar – or any other “kind of crazy” like the schoolkids used to call me.
Then, after working as a counselor for almost 10 years, I started to study acupressure (part of Oriental Medicine) in 1999. I asked the teacher, as I was considering enrolling in the year-long course, “What can I expect to learn from this training? What makes it so valuable?”
He promised me that I would naturally, easily, and intuitively understand things which had previously baffled me.
I would understand how emotions “worked”. I would know how to understand other people and situations, and how to transform difficulty into ease. I would be able to help anyone make sense of their emotions.
It seemed almost too good to be true
Even though I still had an “I’ll believe it when I see it” underlying skepticism, I decided to go ahead and give it a try – to experiment with it.
I’m EVER SO GLAD that I did!
Before the year was even half finished, I was able to say his promise was fulfilled, and even more.
I continued to study, practice, and eventually teach acupressure, making it my full time and primary occupation. Several years later, I enrolled in two, three year programs: the first, to be certified as an acupuncturist, and the second, a Masters degree in Chinese Medical Qigong Therapy.
During those studies, I deepened my skills and understanding of emotional dynamics and self-care.
After graduating and practicing for five years, I created a first-version of this course. I taught and coached people online and through weekly meetings over the past four years. During that process, I tested, added to, refined and proved my system.
Now, I’m ready to offer it to you.
Click the button to learn more about
The Fierce Self Advocacy Course
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