Overcoming Fear

In AA, the word “fear” is used quite a bit as an acronym. Over the years I’ve heard many different examples of what its letters stand for. The following are the ones I’ve seen most commonly used and referred to by fellow AAr’s.

1. False Evidence Appearing Real

2. F— Everything and Run

3. Face Everything And Recover

I placed these acronyms in this particular order for a reason. Throughout my life, I’ve had plenty of false evidence appear real to me. When I’m active in any addiction, it’s as if my brain doesn’t want to function rationally at all. I tend to think people are constantly talking about me behind my back. I seem to take everything that happens around me more personally. And when I put two and two together with data that comes at me, I often get five instead of four. It’s pretty insane how the brain operates under any addiction. All I know is that for my brain, when I’ve actively been in an addiction mode, it seems to blow everything out of proportion and become completely fearful. What that always has led me to next is the desire to hide from my problems or as #2 says above to “f— everything and run.”

Unfortunately, throughout the years when I was so completely fearful and sick, I found many ways to do just that. Back then I had many resources that made it way too easy to allow me to say screw life and run away. With money my parents had left me after their passings, I hid from life by going even deeper into addictions. I ran away by taking long trips to other geographical locations frequently. I avoided phone calls, appointments, commitments, and family and friends all for the sake of being too afraid to face the reality that fear had its full grip upon my life.

People say that pain is a great motivator for change. In my case, it was. Just over a year ago when the spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical pain had become so great, I knew I needed to do something different than continue to run away, so I took action. It began with a phone call where I said goodbye to a very toxic friend who wasn’t doing anything to get himself healthier. While this may not seem like a big deal for some, for me it was. I’ve always had too much fear in my life to cut someone out of it, even when it was so painful to continue maintaining it. After walking through that initial fear where my heart was racing a mile a minute, it became easier to face the other toxic people I still had in my life and do the same action. One by one I cut each of them loose until they were all out of my life. There were other things as well where I had to face fear if I wanted to have a healthier life. There were medications I was taking that I ended because they were only numbing my path. There were social groups and places I frequented that I had to stop going to because of their toxicity. I even stopped doing stimulants like caffeine because on some level, I felt they only were making my fears feel even worse. But the most important fear I had to face was being alone with me. I despised being alone with myself without some type of addictive thing in play. Because of this, I never fully vested myself in my AA recovery. As time went on, I actually began to enjoy spending time alone and soon preferred it. Eventually, through doing this, I starting have the courage to give 100 percent of myself to my AA step work.

The biggest thing I am still facing in my life is the fear I have over my health issues. Over the past few years of my life when I began to face all of these other fears, my physical health took a turn for the worse. It’s been challenging at times to not go into complete anxiety and hypochondria with some of the health symptoms I deal with. I believe most of them are spiritually, mentally, and emotionally connected and just manifesting on the physical plane. There are days I want to run from having to deal with these health issues and check out again by doing some type of drug, drink, or some other addictive behavior. But I continue to tell myself that it’s important to face everything and recover.

Thankfully I have seen great progress on most every other level in my life since I began to face all of my fears. I believe it’s just a matter of time to when I no longer fear even these health issues. The key today for me to get there is that when I am feeling any fear around them, I pray and ask God for the strength to continue facing them. So far, this has helped me immensely and I still haven’t gone back to my old patterns of running away. I’m guessing something is working then isn’t it?

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Addicted To God?

Recently, I was asked to get in contact with a person I had dated a number of years ago. A friend in AA was making amends with me and wanted to reach out and make them as well to this former ex of mine whom he had also hurt. Given that I’m in a monogamous relationship now with someone, I’ve been less inclined to maintain contact with anybody I’ve previously dated. With most of them having been unhealthy for me when I was with them, I feel today it would be detrimental to my healing path to remain in contact. It’s not that any of them were inherently bad; it’s just that there were levels of unhealthiness for my own spirit with each of them. In the case of this person, he was someone I had met while traveling abroad who was already in a relationship with another man but “had an agreement” that he and his other half were able to have a lover outside their relationship. At the time, I didn’t want to be alone, and settled for less than what I deserved by dating him for over a year of my life. So with slight apprehension, and strictly as a favor to this friend in AA who was trying to do his step work, I sent an e-mail to this ex. What I received in return, is one of the main reasons why I don’t desire to talk to any person I previously dated anymore.

In this e-mail, I reached out by saying hello and updated this person on a few tidbits of my life, which included slight details of my current partner, my involvement in recovery, where I was living now, and my newfound love for writing daily. I included links to my website and my blog and ended with my friend’s request to make a formal apology for any damage that may have affected this ex during the time we had dated. Not more than an hour later, I received his very angry and judgmental based response about how he felt I was living my life and that it appeared now to him that I was addicted to God. He went on to do what he did quite a bit when we had dated, which was to tear me apart on some level with any life decisions I was making. He ended his response by saying my AA friend can screw off and live with his actions.

Thankfully today, I don’t have to own other people’s negativity, problems, or projections. For the longest time I did, such as when I had dated this person. Since then, I’ve gotten much stronger on all levels, especially spiritually, and if there is one thing I am very happy to say about my own life, it’s that if I am addicted to God, I’m ok with that.

I’ve been addicted to just about everything in my life including alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, caffeine, gambling, sex/love, shopping, traveling, and food. Each of them, I pursed with relentlessness to where nothing else mattered but me obtaining more of each of them. Friends, relationships, life’s duties, social obligations, and family were all disregarded when I indulged in any one of those addictions.

In the past year, I have worked diligently to turn my entire will over to the care of God. What initially began as 3rd Step work in my AA recovery has become more of a way of life now. Since doing this, my life has gotten so much better. I care about those friends and relationships a lot more now. I never avoid life’s normal duties or social commitments anymore. And my relationship with my sister and her kids has become much stronger as well. Even better is my outlook on life. Whereas I once was completely negative with just about everything, I find it’s the reverse now with me trying to see the good everywhere.

Is all of these positive changes due to me choosing God first and foremost in my life? I believe so. That is why I write about God on some level in every one of my blog postings. That is why I speak about God when I am at any AA meeting or speaking engagement. And that is why you will hear me talk about God on some level in any conversation I hold with anyone. God has changed my life for the better and I never, ever, want to go back to the way I once was such as when I dated a person like this ex. Back then I was godless, disoriented in life, directionless, completely ego-based, and consumed with unhealthiness in almost every facet of my life.

There aren’t enough words of gratitude that I can offer God for helping me to be released from those dark prisons I lived in for so many years. I may still have a small ways to go before I’m completely out of some of them, but I can truly say that turning my entire will over to the care of God was the best darn decision I’ve ever made in this lifetime. If I had to say I was addicted to anything anymore, it would most definitely, without a doubt, and positively be God and I have no regrets about that. Without God, my life was in the toilet being flushed away. With God, my life seems to be coming brighter and brighter each and every day. So if I had to choose any addiction to chase after for the rest of my life, you can bet your ass it will be trying to get closer God.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Oh How Do I Love Those AA Slogans!!!

Ok, I’ll admit it; I’ve never really been a big fan of any of those AA slogans. After going to so many meetings over the years and hearing people use them over and over again at the podium, it’s worn me out just a little. That’s not to say that they don’t have real application and purpose in my recovery. Sometimes I do still hear one that I’ll ponder for a while. But all in all, I’m not hip on using them when I speak at any podium because I’d rather use my own words that come directly from my heart. There is one thing though that I have always wanted to do with those AA slogans. It’s been a sincere desire of mine to write about my own journey in recovery by using as few of words as possible except those which come from any slogan. The following is my story written in many of those AA slogans of which I hope you truly will enjoy…

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But for the grace of God, I initially found my sobriety and a new way life beginning on June 11, 1995. For the longest time before that I just couldn’t let go and let God on any level and alcohol was my only master. I learned that best from growing up in a family where the sick didn’t know they were sick. We all were “f.i.n.e.” in our own way, but unfortunately what that really meant was that we were f—‘d up, insecure, neurotic, and emotionalmore than not. Every one of us lived in denial, which wasn’t the river in Egypt, but we sure were always drowning in it! Maybe that’s because none of us were ever fully honest, open-minded, and willing to do the next right thing…

I was the first one amongst them to become sick and tired of being sick and tired after five long years of romancing the drink day after day. The pain had become great enough and my life so unmanageable that I began to try to live life on life’s terms by pursuing sobriety. Sadly, I didn’t stick with the winners though and I didn’t do 90 meetings in 90 days so I never got the chance to see if any of those meeting makers were truly making it. I also didn’t stay out of relationships for my first year of sobriety nor did I keep coming back to learn that in AA it really works if you work itThe truth was that I had way too much “e.g.o.” and kept edging God out. Where AA said to think, think, think and when all else fails, to follow directions, I took my will back instead and didn’t put first things first.

As the years passed, I became such a dry drunk that I was seriously flammable! My disease was constantly doing pushups, getting stronger and just waiting for me to slip except that I already had because I had discovered other addictive substitutes. People often said in passing that God would never give me more than I could handle. I had a hard time coming to believe that, when both of my parents died from this incurable, progressive, and fatal disease while I was just starting to learn how to do it sober. I tried to keep on trudgin’ through all the pain and tell myself that this too, shall pass, but it never seem to. Maybe that’s because I couldn’t face living one day at a time nor could I ever seem to realize that alcohol was but a symptom. I didn’t understand that recovery was about more than just getting sober and it was a journey and not a destination.

I expected miracles to happen in my sobriety but how could they? Faith without works was dead and I wasn’t working anything. Selfish, self-centered, dishonest, and afraid to the very core, that’s who I had become. I began to wallow in so much self-pity that the phrase Poor me, poor me, pour me another drink…”was sounding more and more like a good idea. I knew I had to quit playing God or else I really would eventually have a slip and learn it’s only a pre-meditated drunk. Ironically, it wasn’t my load that was weighing me down, it was the way I was carrying it. All of the depression I had was just years of anger turned inward. And what I didn’t know was that God could and would take care of all of it, if He were sought.

I knew that if I could just surrender to that Higher Power, the journey would begin moving me from sobriety into recovery. My anguish was what finally got me there so it must be true that pain is the touchstone for spiritual growth. After 12 long years of being in too much of it and as sick as I was in my own secrets, I told myself it was time to keep it simple silly and knew willingness was going to be the key. So I went back to AA and began to take suggestions by getting a sponsor and making use of telephone therapy. It took me awhile to get it and my sponsor would say I was trying. Very trying! I had to laugh at the analogy but I guess you can say it was hard to keep an open mind, when I had been closed off from the sunlight of the spirit for so darn long. At first I didn’t have much experience, strength, and hope and usually I brought my mess to the meetings instead of the message. I think that’s because when the alcohol is taken out of the alcoholic, there’s still a lot of “ick!” 

As the years in recovery passed, I struggled to act as if and tried to fake it till I could make it. My sponsor would remind me I didn’t get sick overnight and that while my elevator was still broken, all I needed were the 12 steps to fix it. Unfortunately, I tried to do that with half-measures, which availed me nothing. My own behaviors continued to “h.a.l.t.” any forward progress as I got hungry, angry, lonely, and tired from constantly taking my will back. I knew I needed to get out of the driver’s seat and let God drive the bus except I wasn’t. And I knew I needed to switch seats soon with God who was still my co-pilot or else I was going to drink and to drink was to die.  Even after I had a few 24 hours under my belt in my recovery, this disease was still proving to be very cunning, baffling, and powerful. That might have been due to the fact that I still continued to hang around the bad barbershops, and by doing so; I kept getting terrible haircuts from each of them.

When I finally turned over my entire will to the care of God, as I understood God, I found the courage to change and became part of the solution, and no longer the problem. I’m so grateful I didn’t quit before the miracle happened like both of my parents tragically did. Unlike them, I have worked hard to trust God, clean house, and help others and became amazed before I was halfway through the steps when I fully followed them. I began to intuitively know how to handle situations that used to baffle me and learned that if I was to keep it, I had to give it away and pass it on to someone else. I try to count my blessings today, and always remember I’m never alone. For this reason, I frequently go to meetings, even when I don’t want to, because seven days without them will make one weak.

As I continue to live and let live in recovery each and every day, I can see now how it takes time, that change is a process, and not an event. I have an attitude of gratitude present, more so than ever before. And I believe that’s all because I finally let it begin with meI follow God’s will everywhere it now takes me, as it never has me go to where God’s grace cannot protect me. Because of this, I have more solutions than problems today and can say I am a walking miracle.

The results are in God’s hands for every one of us including both you and me. And, I know that more will be revealed to each of us by living in the moment or in the now as any AA’r might say. So just for today, know you are exactly where you are supposed to be and it really does get better. And keep on, keeping on, because in doing so, you surely will trudge the road to happy destiny…May God bless you and keep you until then…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson