Wednesday, June 18, 2014

THE END - THE BEGINNING, from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, NOT FOR MEN ONLY



THE END — THE BEGINNING



I never wanted to be a sex addict. I never asked for it, and I certainly never intended it to take hold of my life the way it did. In fact, getting addicted to anything was the furthest thing from my mind. Nevertheless, addiction took root and grew in me, becoming entrenched into every fiber of my being.

The recovery process has helped me see how my destructiveness started when I was about eight years old. And I recognize that abuses I experienced in my early childhood, and my family history of addiction increased the likelihood of addiction in my life — and I could point fingers — but it does no good to blame anyone now. Learning the causes for my problems is helpful; learning to live free from my self-destructiveness is the truly important issue if I am going to live in a healthy way today and in the future.


This is an excerpt from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, not for men only 



IT'S AN INSIDE JOB, from OUR JOURNEY HOME

We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.


The Spirit can make life. Sheer muscle and willpower don't make anything happen. Every word I've spoken to you is a Spirit-word, and so it is life-making.” John 6:63The Message



“This life therefore, is not righteousness, but growth in righteousness, not health but healing, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise.We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it: the process is not yet finished but it is going on.This is not the end but it is the road; all does not yet gleam in glory but all is being purified. -Martin Luther



It’s An Inside Job

When we talk about recovery, what we are really talking about is a deepening of a person’s integrity. In Webster’s dictionary, integrity is defined as a completeness, a unity, soundness, personal honesty and independence. For the purposes of recovery, let us think of integrity as a healthy condition of the soul. Integrity is sanity. A condition of sanity that incorporates completeness, unity, soundness, personal honesty and independence in that we are not dependent on any person or thing in a way that’s destructive for us.

Ultimately, addiction and integrity cannot exist together, although they do exist to some degree in the reality of each of our lives. Where addiction takes root in the small cracks and crevices of our hearts and minds, and then splinters us even more, recovery heals this split, bringing integrity and sanity back to our lives. Recovery is an interpersonal coming back together; a re-integrating of our heart and our mind together, as one.

To illustrate this let us tell you about a friend of ours named Mike. Mike restores old pickup trucks for a hobby. What he does with these old trucks is an example of what we do in our recovery. First, Mike starts by considering the overall condition of the truck, evaluating the best he can as to what needs to be done to make the truck new again. Then, with help from others, he begins the process of dismantling the truck, cataloguing each part as he goes. Every piece is closely inspected by Mike and his restoration partners. Broken or damaged pieces are either discarded for new pieces, or they are repaired as necessary. Because Mike has learned that he can’t do it alone, he’s had to learn where to go to get the help he needs when he needs it. Sometimes it’s a welder, sometimes a painter or a mechanic or an upholster. Whatever help he needs, he asks for it.

Now, there comes a time where the process begins to reverse itself. Mike, with help from his friends, begins to put the parts back together again. Each part and piece are reconnected together according to the original builder’s design. When the work is done, an incredible process has been undertaken, more than any one man could ever do on his own. The old has been made new again. All of the originally designed pieces have been renewed and re-integrated back into proper alignment with one another. The process was restoring an old truck but the end result is a new old truck. For you see, no matter how good a job that Mike and his friends have done, it could never be more than the original designer had intended. Furthermore, without the original designer’s intent, Mike and his friends, and all of their combined efforts, could never make what the truck has become in its restoration.

Here is where Mike’s hobby can guide us. We are solely responsible for doing our recovery work. It is our job to reach out and ask for help. No one can do for us what only we can do for ourselves. Just like Mike with the truck, we have to learn where to go to get the help that we need when we need it. This is where our “higher powers” come into play.We all have “higher powers” in our lives. Employers, parents, family, doctors, governments, law enforcement, each has power to control and influence our behaviors. These are external powers that can effectively influence what we do and how we do it. In the recovering community there are 12 step programs, medical and mental health professionals, plus there are sponsors and recovery mentors who have experienced their own restoration of sanity. Each of these can help us in the “heavy lifting” of our personal restoration. And while this help is essential, it will not be enough. It should be noted that even the best of helpers can only do so much for us. They themselves will still lack some degree of integrity. They are only human after all.

So, this is what it looks like. We, with help, do our recovery work, but it is God, working through people, that restores sanity and integrity to us. In recovery, we can say that today we are better integrated than we were yesterday or the day before. And, the greatest indication that integrity is growing in us is that we develop an increasing inclination to admit where and how we lack integrity. We can never make this kind of growth on our own. It only comes from The One who made us. Similarly, what Mike and his friends do is great but even with all the work they’ve done in the restoration process they did not make the truck. That was done before they ever came along. There was an original Master Planner and Builder who made the truck to begin with. Really, all that Mike and his friends have done is to bring the truck back to what it was originally made to be.

And so it is with our lives. We are an original. A one of a kind that is described in the Bible as being “created in the image of God.” Believing that we can be restored to sanity means to live out our lives in a spiritual way. In times past, we lived like we were physical beings trying to become spiritual, or religious as some would say. In reality, we are spiritual beings first and we are living out our lives in physical ways. Being spiritual obviously does not make us perfect as proven through our ever-present good intentions that so often end up in ways we did not intend. In the balance of this spiritual and physical life that we live, we are ultimately responsible for our own work of recovery and at the same time we can only be restored to sanity by the work of an ultimate “Higher Power” that we call God.

At the end of the day, sanity is an integrated life that is lived according to an authentic faith in God. This authentic faith is born inside of us as we are, in our spirit that is touched by God’s Spirit. It’s simple really. We do what we can and God does the rest. As we are willing to work and trust, which is faith in action, God gives us the Spirit of Life who brings life to our efforts and sanity to our lives. After all, it was God who formed us.


click on the link to purchase OUR JOURNEY HOME
Our Journey home - Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer
Copyright 2011, Homecoming Books

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

MOVING FROM DIS-INTEGRATION TO INTEGRATION, from OUR JOURNEY HOME




We admitted we were powerless over our addiction, that our life had become unmanageable.







My bones are brittle as dry sticks because of my sin. I'm swamped by my bad behavior, collapsed under gunnysacks of guilt. The cuts in my flesh stink and grow maggots because I've lived so badly. And now I'm flat on my face feeling sorry for myself morning to night. All my insides are on fire, my body is a wreck. I'm on my last legs; I've had it - my life is a vomit of groans. Psalms 38:3-8 The Message







“What helps at this point is to see your consequences as your teachers. You have been sent a lesson to learn. If you don’t learn the lesson this time, it will manifest itself again, and probably in a more painful form the next time. -Patrick Carnes, Ph.D.



Moving From Dis-Integration to Integration





As we battled alone against the progressive nature of our addictions, we experienced a general disintegration of our lives. Our lives get worse, never better. Many of us have expressed how we’ve felt that we were getting sicker and sicker every day that we battled our addictions alone. No matter how valiant and determined we were, and still are, the war has continued to rage. And, much to our chagrin and embarrassment, we have been losing the battle.



In Scripture, which is the historical backbone for everything that we believe as Christians, there are examples of people who suffered because they lived selfish lives and the result was a life that became destructive for them. For example, the Psalmist David, who was called a man after God’s own heart, gives us an example of someone who, even though he had previously experienced deep intimacy with God, found his life disintegrated because of his selfish way of life.





In Psalm 38 that we reviewed above, David’s words speak to us regarding the physical consequences, the guilt and the resulting shame and self pity that come from living life in a destructive way. We don’t know exactly what it was that was causing David’s distress and that’s really not so important right now. What is important is to realize that we, along with David and everyone else, will experience inevitable consequences as a result of the way we live our lives. The consequences of a destructive life, as much as we would like to deny it, manifest themselves in failing health and an overall loss of life, especially in our relationships.





David found that it was time to ask for help. He did this by admitting that he was powerless over his problems and that he was not qualified to manage his life. A little later in the same chapter from the Psalms, David continues to say in verses 21 & 22, “Don't dump me, GOD; my God, don't stand me up. Hurry and help me; I want some wide-open space in my life!”



The lesson for David, as it needs to be for all of us, is that we will bring calamity upon ourselves when we run our life independent of God and contrary to what we know is right. Also, David helps us to see that when our lives are shattered as a result of our own mistakes, it is never too late to ask God for help and mercy.





As Christians, we know that God created us. But, God did not create our addictions. Our addictions are a result of the way we have lived our lives. This is not to say that we are totally at fault for becoming addicted because none of us ever meant to become addicted to anything. Sometimes addictions can be a genetic misfortune that when coupled with the first taste of an overwhelming temptation take hold of a person with a life consuming power. While we are not totally at fault for having an addiction, we are wholly responsible for our addiction and for reaching out and making the most of the help that is available to us. Neither God nor anyone else is responsible for our addiction or for our recovery. None of us will ever recover if we expect some one else to do it for us. Complaining and pointing fingers will never help us recover from our addiction or in anything else. To recover, we have to be willing to surrender our life and no one can surrender our lives but us.
For most of us, surrendering our addiction and asking for help has been the most difficult thing we have ever done. No matter how hard it was, we had to. We really didn’t have any other good choices left. If we wouldn’t admit that we needed help we could not move from the disintegrating life of addiction into the integrating life of recovery.














THE AUTHOR'S STORY, from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, NOT FOR MEN ONLY



THE AUTHORS STORY
For years, I remembered little from my childhood, but I began to remember more and more as I grew in my early recovery. I remembered how my mother battled severe depression and mental illness, a battle she eventually lost to suicide. My father was a well-respected organist at church but also he had a secret stash of pornography which, as a young boy, I looked at whenever I could get away with it. My older sister suffered from eating disorders, and I was often in trouble with the neighbors or at school. When I was eight, a family friend from church took an interest in me. He took me fishing, to baseball games, and he began molesting me. Consistent with my family’s pattern of secrets and shame, I never told anyone. I’m not sure which hurt me worse, being molested or thinking of how my father was cheating on my mom through his use of pornography.

By age nine I was exhibiting behavioral problems at school and church. The molestation continued and I continued to keep it secret. I was flunking school, barred from some after school activities, and often too disruptive for many Sunday School teachers. Finally, I was examined by a child psychologist and diagnosed mentally retarded. The doctors prescribed tranquilizers to control my behavior and I was placed in a school for mentally disadvantaged children. My name became "retard."

The people at the church my family attended said that God loved all the little children — yellow, brown, black and white. Had He forgotten about me? Was I some strange color, different from everyone else? I felt like people just wanted me to go away. Increasingly, I became defensive and competitive, determined to prove my own value. I prayed and pleaded for God to remember me — to help me. I remember sitting on my bed, in my adolescent years, reading The Living Bible and praying that somehow, someway God would give me a life that was useful and worthwhile. Silence.

In my early 20s, I was still attending church, but I had lost hope of ever having a life worth living. I began to drink. It started quite innocently; my first beer was with friends as we shared a pizza. I hated the beer taste but loved the warm feeling, the self-confidence and the sense of freedom the alcohol gave me. It was an answer of sorts. Within two weeks of that first beer, I was drinking everyday — heavily. Years went by, and I began to work weekends in a strip joint where I discovered cocaine, insane promiscuity and, along with the girlfriend I had at the time, I began to work in print and video pornography. Over the next five years, several of my friends were murdered and I saw numerous lives destroyed. I assumed that my life would be short, I feared for my own survival, but I was still unable to find a power that would change the way I felt about life.

In 1989, I moved to the West Coast vowing to start a new life. I started a business, made it successful, and began to religiously attend church once again. I smiled and pretended that life was great. But I was still utterly miserable. I never escaped thoughts of self-hatred and the feeling that everyone would be better off if I just went away. After a few years of abstaining from drugs and alcohol by sheer willpower alone, I periodically began to drink again and soon the drugs followed. Where I had previously been a daily cocaine user of generally small amounts, I now became a binge user of much larger amounts, adding crystal meth and heroin to the list of drugs used. I rationalized my drug use, saying I wasn’t doing it every day. I convinced myself that I was entitled to have a little fun now and then.

In 1999, I went on what was to be my last drug binge. I had planned a little weekend getaway but I ended up traveling around Southern CA for three weeks, smoking $500.00 worth of crack cocaine every day, never eating or sleeping. During this trip, I overdosed three times, and three times I was arrested on felony drug charges. I would quickly bail myself out of jail after each arrest, and head back out on the road for some more
of the same. I was not going to go home until I had some fun. I thought of it as recreation.

A few days later, when sitting in a seedy hotel, I called a friend named Bob, who I knew from church. Bob was a recovering alcoholic and drug addict who attended Alcoholics Anonymous and was very active at church. For the last few months I had been confiding to him about my drug use and my sense of hopelessness. I trusted him because it was obvious to me that, from his own experience, Bob knew the internal anguish I felt. And he was the only person I knew who seemed to really like being around me. During our phone conversation, Bob convinced me to stop drinking and doping for just that day and get some rest. And then later that night he drove for hours to pick me up and bring me home.

Once home, I got some very bad news. The State of California wanted me to go to prison for my drug crimes. It appeared that I had finally succeeded in destroying my life, even though I never meant to. However, following my attorney’s recommendation I entered a drug and alcohol treatment program that combined counseling and the Twelve Steps as outlined by Alcoholics Anonymous. This program educated me about the reality of my addictions and confronted me regarding the destructive self-obsession behind most everything I thought and did. My drug life had been hell on earth, but this felt worse.

These early months in the program were preparing me for the greatest day of my life. That greatest day started with my attorney calling me in the morning to let me know things were not going well for me in the legal issues and that I should begin putting my affairs in order to serve my time in prison. Then that same afternoon, my counselor at the treatment program asked me to tell him about my personal belief in God. In response to his question, I recited to him by heart everything I knew about God from growing up in church and Sunday School. He listened for quite a while as I droned on and on, but then, with obvious frustration, he told me that he didn’t want to hear any more. Surprised, I asked him why, and then he proceeded to tell me
that I needed to find a real God and I needed to find a real Jesus. As you can imagine this offended me greatly and when I asked him why, he continued by saying, "Well, David, it is pretty obvious that the God and the Jesus that you think you have now hasn’t done you much good. Has it?" When what he said finally sunk in to me, I sat stunned in silence facing the reality that whatever religious professions I had claimed had left me morally and spiritually bankrupt — void of the necessary power to live life successfully. I was more empty than empty.

Later that evening I was to meet my friend Bob, the one who picked me up and brought me home. He and I were going to discuss what needed to be done before I went to prison. It was dark and cold as I stood in an empty parking lot, alone and waiting for Bob to arrive. Looking up at the stars, I pondered the failure of my life and I began to pray. This was my life — I was $100,000 in debt, my family would not speak to me, my friends and business associates would barely tolerate me, I had overdosed on several occasions, and come close to being killed a few times. I was in a drug rehab and worst of all, all I really wanted at that very moment in time was more cocaine.

Standing there alone, I looked up at the stars and said, "Oh God! I am a drug addict and I don’t even know who You are. I need help and I have nowhere else to turn. I am willing to call You by any name You want me to, but if You don’t help me I am going to die."

At that moment, and for the first time in my life, I found a degree of personal honesty, the beginning of humility, and I accepted myself for who and what I was — a child in need. At that point, suddenly, everything in life seemed unimportant except for one thing — God. Either He would help me, or I was as good as dead. God was no longer just a "religious" belief; God was a life or death issue for me.

Standing there in the cold alone with nothing but my desperate prayer, I heard what seemed like a voice say, "Alright David, now I can go to work." Startled, I whirled all around looking for who had spoken to me. I looked behind the bushes next to the building to my left, and I looked under the cars
which were to the right. I even looked inside the dumpster that was a few yards away. I looked all over that parking lot and there was no one there. It felt like I was going crazy, but I also sensed something big had just happened. Whatever had just happened, I knew my prayer had been heard and answered. I felt deep within me that things could be different for me in the future, that a new experience of life had begun. I had a sense that the battle for my life had been joined with power adequate to change what needed to be changed — me! For the first time I could remember, I knew I didn’t have to be alone, and best of all, I had a real desire to live. By admitting that I was the problem, God gave me a solution. The solution was Him. That night in an instant, I became unconcerned about prison, unconcerned about what had happened to me in childhood; I was excited about life and I became ready to do all I could to fully experience the life God would make possible for me.

Ultimately, the court system had mercy on me, giving me the opportunity of long-term rehabilitation and probation. Motivated by a spiritual power deep within me, I continue to seek my Savior and He continues to do the work He promised to do — changing me from the inside out, guiding me and teaching me to surrender my will to His. As a result of His power, I have discovered wonderful gifts such as mercy, courage, love for myself and others, and hope. These gifts have enabled me to do things I have never dreamed of doing. I was baptized while attending my church’s men’s retreat, where I learned that for two years prior to my arrest a group of men had been praying for me. In God’s world, I was loved even before I thought it was possible for me to be loved at all.

I am still receiving new and wonderful gifts today. My favorite one is gratitude for life — both past and present. My childhood misfortune and my addictions to alcohol, drugs and sex have become an important, and sometimes still difficult, part of what I believe to be a well scripted plan for my life. With the simple surrender of my will and life, which I don’t always do, I continue to discover God in a loving and personal way. He is always willing to reveal Himself to me and to you as
well. I now see that the story of my life has really very little to do with me. It has everything to do with God, and everything to do with you. For you see, it is my passion to tell others about the One who gives mercy and grace to addicted sinners like me. Because, if He gives mercy and grace to someone like me, then He will most certainly give it to anyone who sincerely asks for it. Any tragedy I have suffered and all comfort I receive is for the purpose of sharing with those who suffer so they can find comfort too. I have more blessing than I need.


Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
 2 Corinthians 1:3, 4 TNIV

This is an excerpt from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, not for men only