The Bedevilments Of Addiction

My first sponsor in Alcoholics Anonymous was the initial person to ever discuss with me the bedevilments of addiction. She explained that they were the things that plagued most of those who had suffered from addictions such as myself. Then she pointed out in the chapter titled “We Agnostics” of the Big Book the ones that were the most common. And surprisingly for something that was written well over six decades ago, I was able to see myself in all eight of them.

1. We were having trouble with our personal relationships.

I ran off more friends and intimate relationships during all the years my addictions had the best of me. And for those individuals who somehow stuck around, I constantly argued with each of them.

2. We couldn’t control our emotional natures.

My emotional state was much like a roller coaster during all the years my addictions had the best of me. My mood changed much like the weather and although I might have been happy in a given moment, it didn’t take much for me to become angry, weepy, or full of rage.

3. We were a prey to misery and depression.

I lived in self-pity, doom, and gloom during all the years my addictions had the best of me. In fact, I knew of no other way to exist so much that it led me to be completely dependent on medications to balance me out.

4. We couldn’t make a living.

I left many jobs because I didn’t like authority, control, or anyone telling me what to do. I also got fired from a bunch of them as well for similar reasons. In either case, I frequently copped resentments with my bosses or peers, always believing it were their entire fault and never mine.

5. We had a feeling of uselessness.

Given that I grew up in an alcoholic home where I felt more worthless than not, living an addiction-based life only enhanced this feeling that began in my childhood. I also often felt life was meaningless because I never applied myself and the only thing I was ever concerned about was getting my fix from whatever the addiction I was doing and no one else.

6. We were full of fear.

My entire life was based on fear almost 100 percent of the time my disease had the best of me. I was constantly worried about everyone and everything and usually felt this impending sense of doom.

7. We were unhappy.

Rarely did I ever smile, laugh, or be happy during my addiction-prone years unless I was actively engaging in my addiction and getting exactly what I wanted out of it. But during all the moments I was crashing from my disease or chasing it again, I was utterly miserable.

8. We couldn’t seem to be of real help to other people.

I was so selfish and self-centered during my active addiction-based years that I could have cared less about anyone else that could have benefitted from my help. I wasn’t able to ever help myself, unless it was to pursue my addictions, thus it never mattered to me when people asked for my help.

I’m sure there are plenty more bedevilments that plague addicts like me, but I definitely find it interesting that I could relate to all of the ones Bill Wilson wrote so long ago.

Thankfully, working the 12 Steps brought me to a spiritual solution for all of these bedevilments. Now I’m no longer plagued by any of them because I live in this solution each and every day of my life. I’m just so grateful to be free now from the bedevilments of addiction, and I give all that credit to my Higher Power who I know guided me there…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

The Path To Humility

I’ve come to accept that the polar opposite of living by ego is a life of humility. But I’ve also come to accept something else when it comes to these two things. Living by ego means living a life of self-will and living a life of humility means devoting one’s life to their Higher Power. Today, I can see the journey I’ve been on to spiritual enlightenment has included the long path I’ve taken to finding a life more based on humility.

During all the years I was a drunk and a drug addict, I wasn’t seeking any spiritual enlightenment and my ego had the best of me. In my mind back then, the world was completely about me and only me. It was then that I lived in total self-will and all of my decisions in life were self-serving on some level. But then the day came when my ego was first seriously bruised in life. That was on June 11th, 1995, when I finally admitted four things to myself.

I was an alcoholic.

I was a drug addict.

I was addicted to cigarettes.

And I was attracted to men.

For a while, admitting those things truly humbled me in life. In fact, it was in admitting them that I began to seek out a Higher Power for the first time in life. But in a very short time, I became comfortable again in my own skin and slowly began to move away from that taste of humility. My ego hadn’t liked feeling the vulnerability that came with being humble, so I allowed it to take over again. Soon I was caught up in other addictions until the day came when I discovered my father had committed suicide.

For three years thereinafter I withdrew into myself and suffered immensely from depression, anxiety and various physical ailments. Because of that, I slowly crawled back to my Higher Power in all that pain and humility just to survive. It eventually led me to feeling better again. But unfortunately it also led me to gradually give control back to my ego. Soon I was light years away again from experiencing any humility and like before, I landed right back in the midst of a life of self-will and addictions because of it. That was until I got a phone call some years later from my sister telling me that my mother had died after a tragic fall down the stairs while drunk.

The humility I’d go on to experience over the next few years after her death was even greater than that of which I felt after my father’s. That’s only because I ended up losing a lot more that that, including my business, a long-term relationship, and the majority of my financial stability. Each of those things humbled me time and time again to my knees. I begged my Higher Power to help me through it all and my Higher Power did. That was at least until I felt completely well again as then I started slowly giving my ego back what it wanted.

Sadly, I went on to follow this pattern of living by ego to living a life of humility over and over again for five more years. It took me developing major physical pains, a stint in a mental hospital and a suicide attempt to see that living by ego never did anything more for me than take me away from my Higher Power and feeling any serenity. When I finally recognized that, I saw something quite interesting. Each time I went back to my ego being in full control, the duration I stayed there became less and less. Thankfully, I’ve discovered a few simple ways to prevent that from happening again.

I share openly to the world now about my entire life, as that seems to help me remain more in a state of humility. The same holds true of me sticking around the meeting rooms, practicing the 12 Steps, and sponsoring others, as each continues to keep me humble doing more of my Higher Power’s will.

While it really was a long and painful path to a life more based on humility, I’m grateful for the warmth my Higher Power gave me each time I returned, as it always was enough to eventually draw me back. I’m grateful I clearly see this now, as I truly never want to leave that warmth again.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Staying Spiritually Fit

Many in this world place great importance in their daily lives to stay physically fit. Usually that entails keeping their body in shape through good exercise and healthy eating habits. But for those like myself trying to recover from an addiction-prone life, staying spiritually fit is far more important.

Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, originally stated that the only path to true recovery from alcoholism was a spiritual one. The same can be said of all addictions as well. I have watched so many people come into the recovery rooms who don’t have this, yet they place a higher priority on getting fit in every other way except spiritually. Sadly, most end up relapsing because of it.

Think about this for a moment. If you are working out on a regular basis and are physically fit and trim because of it, what happens when you stop doing those workouts completely? Will you still stay in that good of shape? Most people won’t and eventually the muscle turns to flab. Well, the same principle can be applied to becoming more spiritually fit. Many of us in recovery will utilize prayer, meditation, attending meetings, sponsorship, and the 12 Steps to get there. But when we stop doing the majority of those things on a daily basis, we start getting out of shape spiritually. While a physical workout is the defense against getting out of shape and gaining weight, a spiritual workout is the defense against all the curveballs that life can throw at us. With no spiritual defense, those curveballs always drove me back into my addictions. Not so when I had a spiritual defense though.

There are countless of other ways that each of us can get spiritually fit as well. Taking walks in nature, volunteering, going on retreats, writing in this blog, and listening to uplifting music are just some of what I’ve done to be more spiritual. I think it’s important to note though that none of us are ever really fully spiritually fit. I say that only for the fact that spirituality is something that truly has no limits. It’s only our ego that places limits on anything and as soon as we allow it to do that, we lose our openness for potential growth.

Most of the great spiritual teachers who have walked the Earth have always maintained a simple attitude that there is always room for growth in one’s spirituality. I’ve found that anytime I start believing I’m completely fit spiritually, I begin to fall away from living a healthy recovery and many of my character defects begin returning.

A wise person once told me that we all must be empty glasses ready to receive the liquid of life because having a full glass will only spill some of our life essences over the side. I try to apply this principle in my life these days as I continue to add and remove things from my daily spiritual routine. But I always make sure to remain more of an empty glass than a full one; because I don’t ever want to lose the spirituality I already have nor prevent it from growing either.

So what I hope you remember most out of all of this is one simple fact.

Staying spiritually fit in life truly means we must work on our spirituality each and every day and always be open for it to constantly change and grow.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson