I am more than my addiction!

“…Because addicted individuals generally  possess such strong feelings of shame, embarrassment and self-loathing, it is extremely curative when they learn that they can be viewed by others in a positive manner.

…Shame, a more profound feeling all alcoholics and addicts (saddicts)  struggle with implies “I feel bad because of what I am.”  Addiction from this view implies that group therapy must enhance the self understanding and the acceptance that one is worthwhile despite their strong feelings of self loathing and self-hatred.  (The Depressed Anonymous Fellowship Group. ED)   ….before a person can  be healed, they have to know they can heal another. …It is this opportunity to learn that one has the ability to help another in being a healer which supports the use of  group psychotherapy. In  fact, this is the very same principle which AA  (DA) applies within the Twelfth Step of its Twelve Step program for recovery. The alcoholic and the addict (saddict)  maintains their own sobriety by helping another alcoholic get sober.” Source excerpts: Group Psychotherapy with Addicted Populations.  , (1988)  Flores, Phillip J., The Haworth Press. NY

Likewise, the person depressed has a better chance of  overcoming depression when they hear someone else,  with the same situation, feeling better and overcoming their depression.

SOURCE: Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition. (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications.Louisville.

“Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” Step 5 of Depressed Anonymous

“I haven’t done anything wrong, so why do I have to admit anything? And anyway, what does this have to do with my depression?”

In the Depressed Anonymous Workbook these questions there are provided answers for those who are struggling to free themselves from depression. In fact, the more we work through each of the questions posed in the Workbook, we can also go to the Depressed Anonymous Manual, 3rd edition., and find six pages  (pgs. 59-64) of thoughts from members of the fellowship on Step 5.  We discover that the Depressed Anonymous Manual is written by people like you and me. We have been where you are and we came to believe after admitting that we were powerless over our depression and that life was unmanageable we had to make a decision.

In Step 3 we made a decision –that is what life is all about –namely, making decisions. Our decisions are the product of the meaning that we give to those persons, events and circumstances that fill our lives every day.  We make the decisions based on those meanings that we give to those situations and experiences. We are making a decision to day to share part of our dark side with another human being.

In Alcoholics Anonymous it describes the way to make a good 5th Step:

” We pocket our pride and go to it, illuminating every twist of character, every dark cranny of the past. Once we have taken this Step, withholding nothing, we are delighted. We can look the world in the eye.  We can be alone at perfect peace and ease.  Our fear fall from us. We begin to feel the nearness of our creator. We may have had certain beliefs, but now we begin to have a spiritual experience…”

Telling someone else seems to be the key to our freedom: When we decided who is to hear our story, we waste no time. We have a written inventory and we are prepared for a long talk. We explain to our partner what we are about and why we have to do it.” (This is why it is so important to write down in a  separate notebook the answers to all the questions in the Workbook which now bring us to the point of sharing our answers with a person we can trust, such as a clergy person or our sponsor. ED).

Steps 1 and 5 are the two Steps where the word “admitted” is used.  When we hear the word “wrongs” such as in this Step 5 – we may induce in ourselves a feeling of guilt. This is NOT the intention of Step 5 at all.

To be depressed is not to be wrong. We are not accusing ourselves of being bad. We are only pointing out the ways that I need to act, think and behave as a non-depressed person.”

SOURCES:  The Depressed Anonymous Workbook (2001) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 49-50.

Depressed Anonymous, 3rd edition (2011) Depressed Anonymous Publications. Louisville. Pages 59-64.

MORE THAN C0MFORT

When I am feeling depressed, I repeat to myself statements such as these…”Pain is the touchstone of progress.”…”I fear no evil.” …”This, too will pass.” … “This experience can be turned to benefit.”

These fragments of prayer bring far more than mere comfort. They keep me on the track of right acceptance; they break up my compulsive themes of guilt, depression, rebellion, and pride; and sometimes they endow me with the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Bill W., writing in Grapevine, March 1962.

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My mantra, personally,  is the Serenity Prayer.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,  the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

SHAME AND GUILT. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE.

I remember with a great amount of clarity a situation that   shaped my entire life. The event happened more than 5 decades ago. The shaming event happened in the third grade. The teacher asked me a question which I couldn’t answer correctly. She asked me twice and the more that I tried to think what answer she wanted the more flustered I became. For years, I could feel the heat in my face. I know my face must have  been beet red. There I was standing alone in the middle of the seated classmates and feeling lost. And then she said those words that are imprinted on what seems like every synapse and cell in my brain.

“You will never be like your brother.” ( He happened  to be two years ahead of me in school. He was really smart). And then she compared me to my uncle who happened  to be a Bible scholar whom she knew.  By that time my face felt like it was burning up. And it wasn’t til decades later that I no longer felt the fiery warmth on my face as I thought about standing there, alone, in front of the class.  The feelings of heat welled up from inside of me as I even thought about that event those  years later. I was shamed. Shamed clear through. Every part of me felt absolutely worthless and alone. Shame produced in me the feeling that I was a MISTAKE. Not that I made a simple English  grammar mistake –but that I was a mistake. This shame gradually withered away the more I shared with others  my experience.

Put simply:   Guilt is when you do something that is bad and you know it, and then you feel bad about what you did or didn’t do.

So feeling you are a mistake –feeling all alone,  unacceptable to self and others, creates a person who tends to hide, isolate and feel no purpose for their lives.  In my case, it was after getting into a 12 step program of recovery that others were having the same feelings about themselves as I was.  It was here in the context of forming a trusting relationship with those like myself, that I slowly clawed my way out of my own little painful world, into a world where I was accepted for who I was. My story, was  accepted and I  was given the tools to live a life filled now with hope, serenity and purpose.

I am not perfect–so what?

Copyright(c) Higher Thoughts for down days: 365 daily thoughts and meditations for 12 step fellowship groups. Depressed Anonymous Publications Louisville, Kentucky
An excerpt with some modifications and additions from Higher Thoughts for today, November 15.
AFFIRMATION
NO LONGER WILL WE ACCEPT OUR PAST THINKING THAT OUR WORTH IS BASED ON OUR ABILITY TO PRODUCE.
REFLECTION
I am going to be alert to those times during the day today, when I give myself the message that I could have done something better. These messages are from an old hypercritical tape from my childhood. Guilt rides roughshod over us when we fail to live up to the expectations we have of ourselves or those held by others about us. ( My 3rd grade teacher compared me to my brother, who was very smart, and said that I would never be like him, meaning brilliant. She was right, I am not brilliant. But it was only until I was in my 30’s did I realize that I had other qualities. Like it really didn’t matter anymore what she thought.) Since I have admitted that I am depressed, (Aware, motivated, doing, and maintaining positive behaviors) I am able to change certain old ways of thinking and behaving.
Our worth comes from the earliest childhood memories. The more we are able to get in touch with early images and feelings that we hold about ourselves the more clearly can we see that what we feel as adults is many times based on early childhood emotions. I am depending more now on my Higher Power to get me safely to those early days and those feelings. I will also talk to a friend today about my childhood experiences. I am not perfect–so what?
MEDITATION
With God on our side, we can’t fail. God loves us just the way we are.

HOW DOES A PERSON CHANGE? ARE YOU A BLAMER?

In order for us to escape from depression we need to be aware of the process of how people change. That process for change is of the nature of a spiral instead of a straight line. In other words, now that we are willing to risk feeling differently we have been gearing up to improve our situation. In other words we are making a very important decision right now about our lives.
As we illustrated yesterday there is a process of how a person chooses to change. First comes an Awareness stage. Then comes the Motivating stage. A Doing stage is then put into motion, and finally we have the Maintaining stage where a person continues to do all that is necessary to sustain and be responsible for positive changes.
In the DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS WORKBOOK, it asks the participant to apply all of these four stages as antidotes to those character defects which may keep us imprisoned in our prison of depression. Today we want to examine the character defect of BLAMING. Now let’s put to use our formula of the four stages. Today, I am going to share just one of the four stages with the example of BLAMING. For me, being aware meant that not only was I aware of what I was doing to cause me to heap blame after blame on myself but much later I discovered through Step Four of Depressed Anonymous the many good things that I had going for myself. I learnt that working the Steps is a gradual process developed for changing myself.
(1) AWARE. Now that I have admitted I am powerless over my depression and that it serves no purpose to blame myself for my depression and bashing myself with daily reminders of how bad and unacceptable I am. Now I am: (1) AWARE of my need to discover what there is about myself that I do find acceptable and wholesome?
Tomorrow, we apply the Motivating stage to our BLAMING. Then this will be followed by a segment on the Doing stage. Finally, the Maintaining stage will be considered. I hope to meet with you again tomorrow.
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My thoughts: I share my own thoughts here. When my whole body became physically incapacitated and I could hardly get out of bed of a morning. My whole insides felt hollow and a strong, vague feeling that something was totally wrong inside of me. I felt full of “jitters” and anxiety. I was totally clueless as to what monster had me in its clutches. I had to admit that I needed help. I was powerless. I was not only AWARE I was scared. Know what I mean? If you do, please comment. So how do you change? Can you admit what is possibly keeping you depressed? Hugh