More language of the heart from Paul Ohliger – Some excerpts on acceptance from a classic of recovery literature – “Acceptance was the Answer/Doctor, Alcoholic, Addict”
“It helped me a great deal to become convinced that alcoholism was a disease, not a moral issue; that I had been drinking as a result of a compulsion, even though I had not been aware of the compulsion at the time; and that sobriety was not a matter of willpower.
The people of A.A. had something that looked much better than what I had, but I was afraid to let go of what I had in order to try something new; there was a certain sense of security in the familiar.
At last, acceptance proved to be the key to my drinking problem. After I had been around A.A. for seven months, tapering off alcohol and pills, not finding the program working very well, I was finally able to say, “Okay, God. It is true that I—of all people, strange as it may seem, and even though I didn’t give my permission—really, really am an alcoholic of sorts. And it’s all right with me. Now, what am I going to do about it?”
When I stopped living in the problem and began living in the answer, the problem went away. From that moment on, I have not had a single compulsion to drink. And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation—some fact of my life —unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.
Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.
Perhaps the best thing of all for me is to remember that my serenity is inversely proportional to my expectations. The higher my expectations of…and other people are, the lower is my serenity. I can watch my serenity level rise when I discard my expectations. But then my “rights” try to move in, and they too can force my serenity level down. I have to discard my “rights,” as well as my expectations, by asking myself, How important is it, really?
I must keep my magic magnifying mind on my acceptance and off my expectations, for my serenity is directly proportional to my level of acceptance. When I remember this, I can see I’ve never had it so good.”
I really got a lot from Acceptance is the key. My recovery roAd is very bumpy and I have been and still am in (im told) a lot of denial. My question is after so many years of lying about this habit how am supposed to start being honest? We’ll I’ve started one person at a time and I’m always finding others who have problem with addiction willing to share ;). So I believe I am finally accepting that I’m an addict which has taken me years to do. I do it all and I’ve really made my mental health much worse. I was a high functioning person and addiction has taken my whole life. Two homes. My career. My son. My pets. All my long term friendships mostly due to my own shame. My social skills bc I am an isolater when using. So I’ve really pushed myself to start getting out with people again and it’s taken me 7 months to start feeling that way. After 6 mos rehab and a relapse. I have definetly grown. Still a long ways to grow but that’s my recovery and I accept it.
Just as alcoholism and addiction are progressive diseases so too can be acceptance of one’s addiction. Some get it right away and some get it in time. I was told I was in denial myself and got angry about it. I accepted that I had alcoholism as I had become completely physically dependent (addicted) to it but I did not fully know what they meant by alcoholic – it was only in going to AA and listening to people share about how they struggled with their emotional natures, how they struggled to live life on life’s terms that I started to get what they meant my having a spiritual (emotional) illness, by their lives being unmanageable – it is this emotional illness that leads people to relapse. Another way of saying are you are addict or alcoholic is to say, are you a person who struggles with emotions to such an extent that you use drugs to deal with these emotions? Do you use when you are bored, frustrated, irritable discontent, angry, resentful – most healthy people just deal with these emotions they do not have to rush to their dealer or the bar/pub. We use drugs to cope with ourselves and living life on life’s terms. That is what makes us an addict/alcoholic. The drugs are a symptom of our illness (although they increasingly contributed during the addiction cycle to our increasingly chronic mental health). We have an affective disorder and we used to medicate this with drugs and alcohol. Equally I have found out over a number of years that I have an illness that quite frankly tells me lies! Sometimes it does my thinking for me, sometimes if is obvious sometimes it is more devious – it only wants to re-use or drink. This is not necessarily my denial, it is a voice of addiction in my head which tries to trick me into relapse. Once you get this (if you haven’t already) you will be well on your way in your recovery). There is me in recovery and the forever addicted me. The only real antidote to this is rigorous honesty as the illness continuously lies to me so I have to continuously be honest with myself to recover one day at a time. Hopefully this helps you on your road to happy destiny. Paul
wow. we use drugs or alcohol to help us deal with emotions. or not deal with them at all. this is profound for me right now. thank you.
thank you for stopping by, glad it helps – learning about emotions has been one of the most important parts of our own recoveries, if we don’t deal with them they appear to deal with us!