“Willing To Go To Any Lengths…”

On Page 58 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous there is a sentence that is as follows:

“If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it – then you are ready to take certain steps…”

It took me five years of drinking and drugging and then twelve more years beyond that of white knuckling this disease with other addictions before I decided I wanted what everyone else had in the recovery rooms. Unfortunately, I wasn’t willing to go to any length to get what they had, so a portion of me continued to have my self-will run riot even as I tried to do the steps. The result was that I didn’t get very far in them nor did I seem to get any better. More often than not, I grew even sicker. Five years later, I became willing to climb Mount Everest if that’s what I needed to do, just to get what everyone else was raving about at every single meeting I attended.

Being willing to go to any length is absolutely, positively, 100% necessary in a person’s recovery, if they wish to get the full benefits from it. What’s funny is that most people who were active in any type of addiction usually were at some point willing to go to whatever length they needed to, just to get their fix, whatever that fix was. In my case, for way too long, I was willing to do what I needed to get drunk, or high, or laid, or gamble, or whatever it was I was always falling prey to. When I found the meeting rooms for different forms of recovery from any of those addictions, I initially balked at the statement of being fully willing to go to any lengths. I wanted my recovery to be handed to me on a silver platter and didn’t really want to stop doing the seeking of those quick fixes and quick highs that I was still doing throughout my life. It took me getting a lot more broken before I became FULLY willing to do whatever it would take to find true recovery from ALL of my addictions.

And when I became FULLY willing, it meant taking drastic measures in my life. I eliminated toxic friendships. I was completely thorough in my written step work. I began attending meetings on most days and developed a much better relationship with my sponsor. I volunteered both in the recovery rooms and outside of them as well. And I started spending more time in meditation and prayer to help me develop a stronger relationship with God. All of this has helped me to make much better decisions than the ones I used to make. It’s even helped me to find energy to do my recovery work during those times when I’m completely exhausted like I was today.

In a nutshell that exhaustion came from being on the highway today for over 13 hours as I drove back from my partner’s home. Most other people after a drive like that, would probably have gone home, eaten a little something, and headed to bed. The old me, the one that acted out in too many addictions, would have probably gone home and eaten some totally unhealthy fast food, looked at some internet porn, and avoided prayer as I went to bed. The new me arrived back in the town I’m living in and met with my sponsee to go through the next chapter we had left off last in our step work together. Upon completion of that, I went home and proceeded to clean up some areas of the house which had been slightly torn apart by my roommate in my absence. My evening is now ending with me making sure I continue to write at least one blog entry per day which is a goal I set for myself when I began this writing endeavor earlier in the year. And finally, I will end my day by writing in my grateful God journal and meditating for 30 minutes before falling asleep.

Some might say that this is going to just too many lengths. Well I can safely say in my case, it’s not because the last thing I desire right now is to act out in any addiction or do anything unhealthy. When I used to not go to these types of lengths, I couldn’t say as much. The bottom line is that I don’t ever want to go back to that addiction based life. If it means me dedicating myself even after an exhausting drive, then so be it. I actually feel pretty spiritually good inside because of all the work I did and thankfully, I’m much better than I was yesterday when I was felt nothing more than doom and gloom. I look forward now to resting my head on my pillow tonight knowing my relationship with God and my recovery is still intact and maybe even a little stronger too. Doesn’t that make it seem like going to any lengths is probably a good thing to do? I’d say so.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

God, Are You There?

By the time this entry is posted, I’ll be back on the road driving for twelve hours to a place I still call home. Since I left there last, my body has developed even more physical ailments that have become all the harder to endure. And lately, as much as I don’t like to openly admit this, I find myself questioning God because of how bad I feel.

I could spend pages and pages writing about the specific physical pains I feel and how they are controlling my life in its present moments. I could talk about all the things I have done and am still doing holistically to try to heal from what I believe its causes are. I could recite off all the self-help books I’ve read to bring about hope. I could share about all the homework exercises I’ve done that were assigned by practitioners and therapists to help in my healing. I could recount all the doctors and medications I tried to find some relief through. I could talk about all the recovery work I have done on myself and continue to do for others in the twelve step programs as well as all the toxic people I removed during that work to get healthier. In fact, I’m sure I could even find enough words to span the length of a novel about what I’ve gone through in these past few years in my repeated attempts to restore my health to a level where the pain doesn’t override the joys that life can bring.

It really has been tough for me lately to keep going. There’s not a day anymore that I don’t seem to be asking God whether I’m ever going to feel better again or whether anything good is truly going to come out of all the high pain levels I deal with every day. What’s even harder is facing the reality that sometimes amidst all this pain, I think about following in my parent’s footsteps and ending my life early before finding out the answers to those questions.

Just the other day in one of the many down moments I have been having lately, I received an inspirational e-mail from one of the things I subscribe to that said that there is nothing that has ever happened, or could possibly happen in our lives that is “bad”. It continued by saying it’s a spiritual law that there is never anything the universe sends us that isn’t in our own best interest and while it might not make sense in the moment, everything ultimately is either for our protection, or growth. The final words were the most difficult for me to grasp though. It said that even truly tragic things occur to make us stronger, bring us closer to others, teach us lessons, or give us a greater appreciation for life itself.

Have I gotten stronger through all of this? On some level that might be true on my ability to endure this pain. Has all of this brought me closer to others? On a day-to-day basis with interpersonal connections, I’d have to respond with a no. In fact it has done the exact opposite where I struggle to be around people especially when the pain is so great. On a level of having compassion for everyone who has gone through or is currently going through suffering, I’d have to respond though with a yes. Has all of this taught me lessons? Most definitely, the answer is yes. I have grasped many of them, each of which could be it’s own blog entry and many have been already. Has all of this brought me a greater appreciation for life itself? The sad truth is that it hasn’t, not for my present life at least. It’s challenging for me to get through even the slightest of tasks these days and the only appreciation all of this has brought me is what I once had several years earlier before all of this started. What’s a sobering thought is that I once lived life carefree where I was rarely grateful for any of what I was given including all those sports I excelled in, all those jobs I earned extremely high wages in, or all those things I did to where I pushed myself to the limits without any consequences. With it being hard for me today to even walk a few feet, I have struggled to find appreciation in anything when the pain rips through my body and nothing seems to help alleviate it.

The reality is that I don’t wish what I’m going through upon anybody. I keep trying to tell myself that everything happens for a reason, that all good things come to those who wait, that this too shall pass, and that God is only giving me what I can handle. All of those are examples of those positive sayings that people have told me along the way, and sometimes I cling to them with what little hope I have left.

The only thing I can say is that while I don’t know whether God truly exists or not, I am doing my best to maintain the belief that He does and that He has something good in store for me that I’ll be seeing very soon. It’s the only shred of anything that keeps me going anymore and to take that away from me would remove any remaining sense of hope I have to where I believe my only nature recourse would be to follow in my parent’s tragic footsteps.

I didn’t really want to write an entry in here today that was filled with so much of my pain but I am trying to keep my honesty for anyone who may be reading any of what I write. The only thing I can continue to do is pray and try to keep my faith that God is there watching me, embracing me, loving me, and telling me to hang on for just a little while longer.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Kill ’em With Kindness…”

I’m trying not to harbor any resentments with my sister’s husband. Seriously, I’m really trying. But, it’s been tough not to do so after staying with them in their new home these past few days. As the saying goes, one could have cut the tension in the air there with a knife during much of my visit. I’m writing this entry on Father’s Day as today has proven to be quite a thorn in my side. It’s much of the reason for any feeling of resentment that I’m now having and trying to let go of. It’s my hope that in writing this, I’ll find the healing I’m seeking within as that seems to work for me lately.

For what little time I have been given to see my family since they moved from Massachusetts to Tennessee, being invited on this trip was truly a blessing. While I had some fear surrounding this trip because of that tension between my brother-in-law and me, I did my best to remain positive.  Unfortunately, when I made a request to borrow my sister’s car to go to a local new age store to get a crystal that my spiritual teacher had suggested might help me, it struck a raw nerve in my sister’s husband. This all began a few weeks earlier when the two of us had a run-in after it had been discovered that Father’s Day was on the weekend my partner and I were visiting. Upon finding this out, he requested to have a good chunk of Father’s Day spent alone with his family without my partner and I, even though we were guests in his home and were only there to be with them. I had inquired on why we couldn’t all be together for the day and the only answer I got was that it wasn’t what he wanted. My ego had gotten the best of me in those moments and I had indicated I wasn’t ok with that request. So at the time of me requesting to go borrow my sister’s car and head to a store for a short bit of time to get something that may help my health and healing, he made a comparison to the time alone that he had been asking for. Ironically, I wasn’t asking for this short trip to be time alone but I also wasn’t allowed to take my nephews with me either. He has continuously stated he doesn’t feel safe with me driving his kids anywhere because of one minor fender-bender I had once in my life just over a year ago. I tried to explain how my request was extremely different because of this, but he couldn’t see it from any perspective other his own. When I finally pulled him aside and tried to talk to him one-on-one, it didn’t go over so well and instead he stated he felt I was selfish and self-centered, that I didn’t have a good recovery program, that he didn’t really like me and that the main reason why he wanted Father’s Day alone was for that reason. Sadly, with my sister’s fear and co-dependency issues, she refused to choose a side and instead tried to come up with a compromises that might please both people which ended up placing her in the middle and bringing her misery because of it.

Like the entry I posted a few days ago, I understand that my brother-in-law is harboring his own anger and resentments towards me from many of my own past behaviors and he hasn’t been able to get over them. Sometimes I think it’s coming from a lot more than just some of those addiction behaviors I affected him with, but regardless, it has tainted the possibility of having a close relationship with my sister or my nephews. So as I sit here and have a large portion of the day without all of my family, I reflect on how this day began with one of my nephews approaching me and asking innocently how long it would be before I was ready to go to breakfast with them. I could see he didn’t understand when I told him that his own family was going out without me today. Sometimes I wish everyone could see just how much my sister’s husband’s resentments towards me are hurting everyone in his family and not just me. As he left with his children after breakfast to take them somewhere else, I knew deep down that if he asked his kids to be honest, that they would have either wanted me to come along with them or they would have wanted to remain back at home to hang out with me. I wonder sometimes if they are as afraid to truly speak from their heart to their father as I know I was with my mother for most of my life.

Thankfully, I have a very wise and blessed spiritual teacher in my life that has been helping me to let go of my control that my ego has tried to place in my life such as with this whole Father’s Day issue. After that good discussion with that teacher, I had decided it was best to let go of what my ego felt it needed and let them do what they wanted today.

While I know I wouldn’t his behaviors to anyone today, the sad thing is that I did do them previously in my life when I was active in my addictions. My sister was actually one of those I did them to when many years ago I left her sitting in my apartment to watch television as I left for a “date” with someone that I just couldn’t get myself to postpone until after she was gone. Maybe it’s a good thing that all of this happened today as I know how it feels now because of this and it hurts. It was a selfish thing to do then, and it really is selfish now for what he’s doing, but nonetheless, I really can’t judge him because I’m guilty of the behavior myself. I just pray to God I never do these behaviors again because it does nothing more than bring about anger and resentments in others, and a lot more darkness within my own soul.

I sincerely doubt my sister’s husband will ever be able to clearly see just how much light I am trying to let into my life today and how selfless I’m really am becoming, until he fully chooses to follow in a similar path where he might find total forgiveness for my past. Until that day arrives, the best I’ll be able to ever do is pray for him with love, forgiveness, and peace. And I’m going to continue to “kill ’em with kindness” by doing my best in letting go of all my ego’s attempts to control him.

I’m grateful for the insight that came in all of this writing, because on some level, a healing must have happened since I don’t feel angry or resentful towards my brother-in-law as I finish this entry. So thank you God for this gift of healing that came through my writing…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson