Tag Archives: 12-Step Programmes

Confessions and Mistakes

How many bad decisions seemed like a good idea at the time?

Over the years I’ve made some really bad decisions.  From time to time I got angry and subsequently did some reprehensible things I now regret.   I have reacted with nasty spite when I should have stayed calm, and I’ve felt resentful for no good reason, which usually turned me into a dangerous Mr. Hyde or a rabid black dog.

And when he was good he was very, very good,  but when he was bad he was horrid.  ~  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Not every time things went badly pear-shaped was my fault.  Not every person I’ve hurt was an innocent bystander.  Some of the people I’ve had uncharitable thoughts about actually deserved my condemnation.  And there have been some people I wouldn’t cross the road to spit on.  But, and here’s the thing, all the time I was an angry, judgemental, resentful, dangerous bastard person, I was still suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder, and / or, Bipolar Disorder.  I was always afraid, and I was always running away.

Add the whole lot together, all the anger, resentments, mental illness, and it’s not surprising that I used to be hypercritical, lacking in understanding, and totally unwilling to accept anyone who didn’t measure up to my warped standards.  It’s not surprising that from time to time I could hurt the ones I love.  Sometimes the only things I was good at was causing pain and heartache.

It only takes one word to hurt a woman, a matter of seconds, one stupid, impatient sting of the whip.  But winning back her trust takes years.  And sometimes there isn’t the time.  ~  Nina George

I have actually made a list of all the people I believe I have hurt over the years, (that’s the difficult step 8 in 12 step programmes), and thought about the what, why, when, how, where, and if of making amends to those people.  Of my original list I’ve crossed off some names, because I’m not a saint, so I’m not making amends to everyone I’ve wronged.  And, I’ve underlined some other names, of women I really do need to make immediate, meaningful, and lasting amends to.  (my Goddess Aphrodite and The Girl Riding Shotgun spring to mind.)  But as the quote from Nina George says, sometimes rebuilding trusting relationships takes years.

I have spoken in haste too often, spoken from negative and dark emotions too often, and been thoughtless too often.  But, the recent paradigm shift that I experienced from being way outside of my comfort zone for a week should mean that I don’t make those enraged mistakes again.

Some say there is no such thing as a mistake or a bad decision.  And that the consequences of a really bad decision are a learning opportunity.  All I know is that if I go off the rails there is going to be a painful disaster, and someone will get hurt ~usually including me.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

Nobody likes to be with a dangerous jerk.

Be that guy, and be alone in the dark.

All Those I Have Harmed

FIRST LIGHT

P1010446

The sun is still well below the horizon but its light reflects from the clouds and dawn is not long away.  I could see the horizon, so it was Morning Nautical Twilight.

This far North, first light in the middle of December came at 0735.  Most people don’t realise just how far north England lies ~ my little town is as far north as the Gulf of Alaska and the Canadian cities of Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario, about 55N.  And, today it is cold for England ~ about 22F.

Some may ask what I was doing on the cold sea-shore well before first light?  The thing is I had not been to bed at all.  The thing is sometimes memories, regrets, and guilt haunt my midnight.  The nightmares, werewolves, harpies, and the faces of those I have wronged come back to remind me of my vile misdeeds.

If I was ever going to live with myself there was something I needed to do.

I have made a list of everyone I have really harmed, not including myself.  Without exception they are women I have had some kind of relationship with.  I seem to have had an uncanny ability to fuck-up every relationship I have ever had.  Perhaps relationships are something that I never learned to understand.

Even when a woman walked out on me, it was my fault and I had hurt her along the way.

I think I have always acted as an English Gentleman.  Sometimes it was just an act, and sometimes an English Gentleman can be a cruel, unfeeling, heartless bastard.  Too often I gave money and material things instead of love and affection.  Too often I put my own transitory gratification ahead of what could have been good and fine in my life.

Relationships and illicit affairs came and went.  When in trouble I would hide in the bottom of a bottle or run away to work in another city, on another continent.  Facing up to what was wrong did not occur to me, especially since what was wrong was me.

Of the bad things I have done, affairs with married women is probably among the worst.  They could never end well, and someone was almost bound to get hurt along the way.  In that kind of an illicit affair there is a family to consider, and I never did.  Some say that it takes two to tango.  And, that the woman must share some of the blame.  All I know is that I can charm the very birds from the trees, and I had a great deal of money to throw around.

For my own sanity I need to deal with this.

Step 8.  Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. ~ The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

img123137Making amends to all these women could take the rest of my sorry life.  In some cases, for one reason or another, the only way I can make amends is to stay out of the rest of their lives.

The picture is of just one of the married women I had an affair with.  Now there is no chance for me to hurt her again, or even to make amends.  Living with that is a small price for me to pay for everything I have done wrong.

 

words and pictures by jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Rehab

torment

the torment of rehab

~

REHAB

~

Rehab isn’t fun

Rehab isn’t nice

Don’t fall for the girls in there

They’re not  made of sugar and spice

~

Snakes on the bed

Spiders on the wall

It’s your personal Hell

And that isn’t all

You know you’ll be back

At your poison’s beck and call

~

Rehab isn’t fun

Rehab is no holiday

Just take what you can get

Whatever they all say

~

Rehab isn’t fun

Rehab isn’t nice

You may die in there

~

regret

Regret

words and pictures by jack collier

A Power Greater Than Ourselves

SOMETIMES, SELF-WILL AND EFFORT ARE JUST NOT ENOUGH

In 12 step recovery programmes this is step 2.  In Alcoholics Anonymous the full text reads;

We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. ~ The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.

For many people trying to recover from an addiction to alcohol, street drugs, prescription drugs, gambling, shoplifting…, this is where it all falls apart.  One may have been dry and clean for a while, (although cigarettes and candy will have taken the place of the primary addiction), but here we begin to flirt with the idea of God.

Addicts and people under great stress have poor memories, they will have forgotten that when they were at their nadir they will have said something like; ‘Please God, get me out of this one…’  In any event, in the quotation given above where does it say God?  It doesn’t, it says; a Power greater than ourselves.  Addiction is self-will writ large; egotism, egomania, narcissism, conceit, and vanity are all part of the psychology of an addict.  Addicts and the otherwise mentally ill believe they are the most important person in the Cosmos ~ that belief has to be smashed.

Addiction, stress, anxiety, depression, bi-polar disorder, anorexia, binge eating disorder, psychotic disorders, exhibitionism…, (the list could go on and on), all produce a state of desperation.  A state where the sufferer is willing to do almost anything to escape from the see-saw of euphoria and misery that they endure.  Anything, except believe that there is more in this Cosmos than themselves ~ addiction and self-absorption go together like ham and eggs.

Trust me on this, one does not have to believe in the God of our childhood, or the God of our parents, or the God of whatever church or religion we theoretically belong to.  Lapsed Christians, lapsed Jews,  Agnostics, atheists, sun worshipers, druids, can all come to believe that there is a power in the universe that is greater than they are.  In 12 step recovery programmes this sometimes known as ‘finding your higher power.’

I believe in a higher power and I believe in good and bad, right and wrong.  You sleep in the bed you make. ~ Leif Garrett.

Lief Garrett, singer, actor, television personality, one time drug addict, member of the Church of Scientology, often in legal difficulties.

Infinity

the nothingness of infinity

So we’re in physical and mental torment of one sort or another.  In order to recover we need to give up some of our egomaniacal self-will, narcissistic denial, and the conceit that we can stop doing whatever destructive behaviour we suffer from, whenever we want to.  Whether one believes in a Deity, or not, recovery from addiction and a range of other destructive behaviours depends on faith and spirituality.  The human mind finds it much easier to believe in something, rather than believing in nothing, (although one could believe in nothingness and infinity.)

There is something about modern man and woman, particularly men and women who are suffering extreme distress, which makes it difficult for them to accept that there is anything beyond what they can see, hear, taste, touch, smell, or otherwise detect with one of our many other senses.  Very well, what if I quote from one of the most brilliant minds of the 20th Century?  A man so smart that 99% of the people in the world don’t even understand what he was getting at.

The most beautiful and most profound experience is the sensation of the mystical.  It is the sower of all true science.  He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead.  To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive forms ~ this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of all true spirituality, (geistigkeit). ~ Albert Einstein, The Merging of Spirit and Science.

Albert Einstein, theoretical physicist and philosopher of science.

Quantum physics and probability theory are both pretty wedded to the fact that nothing is impossible.  People being what they are, if one gives a lot of them three choices;

  1. There is definitely no God, Goddess, Higher Power, or a Power greater than me.
  2. There may or may not be a Higher Power, Earth Goddess, Power of the Cosmos, et alii.
  3. There is a Higher Power, Mother Goddess, Power of the Universe, Isis and Aphrodite.  I know because I have faith.

There is no possibility whatsoever that they would be able to come to a consensus of opinion.  The proof of this is in Arrow’s impossibility theorem.  Therefore, it doesn’t really matter what one believes in, as long as one believes in something that is greater than a single human being ~ that is, greater than you.  We cannot go on just existing, we need faith and spirituality in order to live ~ after all, we are broken human beings.

Spiral GalaxyNGC1365

if you can’t believe in anything else, believe in the Power of the Cosmos

Personally, I walked the road of recovery from my disease by believing in the power of the Cosmos.  It didn’t matter what I believed in, as long as I believed that there was a Power greater than myself.  If you can’t even manage that, then believe in the fact that you want to believe in something, because that will put you on the road to spirituality and recovery from whatever syndromes you suffer from.

The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence. ~ Carl Sagan, in Cosmos.

Carl Edward Sagan, astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science populariser, researcher into extraterrestrial life.

All of human life requires faith.  Faith in gravity, in the laws of physics, in birth, love, life and death.  To recover from serious addiction, mental illness, extreme stress, also requires faith and spirituality.

Given that I am currently not only on planet weird, I am deep in the jungle on planet weird, after experiencing reincarnation into my own life, I need a hell of a lot more faith and spirituality than most.  Currently it suits me to believe in my vision of the Goddesses Isis and Aphrodite.  They are my higher powers, not yours.  You need to find your own higher power for yourself to achieve true spirituality.

excalibur1

for some reason my vision of Isis is confused with The Lady of the Lake

 

What Good Is Spirituality?

WHAT GOOD IS LIFE WITHOUT SOUL?

You can only know what it is to need to live a spiritual life if you have been to one of two places.  If you have somehow come to spirituality from a very good place in life then you know.  The other place is Hell ~ some of us have been there.  Working toward Spirituality on a daily basis makes life bearable for some, happier and more fulfilling for others, puts some others in touch with a higher plane, and for some others it stops them killing themselves.  For some of us Spirituality is a matter of Life and Death.

I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulge.  It has not been in pursuit of pleasure that I have periled life and reputation and reason.  It has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness and a dread of some strange impending doom. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

Some see The Raven as a metaphor for Death.

One can choose any path towards spirituality but the Buddha laid down some pretty sound ideas two and a half thousand years ago.

The Four Noble Truths;

  1. Life is difficult and shit happens.
  2. Craving for immediate pleasure makes more shit happen.
  3. Learn some self-control and life will become less difficult as you won’t drop yourself into the shit so often.
  4. Learn the true meaning of right and wrong and always try to do the right thing.

Of course this was not quite how Buddha explained it, but my version gives the essence.

The fourth Noble Truth is also known as the Truth of the Middle Path, or the Noble Eightfold Path.  You don’t have to be Buddhist to aspire to have the qualities described in the Noble Eightfold Path;

  • Right Understanding
  • Right Thought
  • Right Speech
  • Right Action
  • Right Livelihood
  • Right Effort
  • Right Mindfulness
  • Right Concentration

Any high-powered executive would give his eye teeth to be able to follow the precepts of the Eightfold Path.  Back in the day, if I could get half of those half right half of the time, I was King of the Hill.  Sadly, most high-powered executives will be far too busy working, or going on time-management seminars, to give the matter of Spirituality any study at all.

For some others, such as drug addicts, compulsive gamblers, alcoholics, neurotics, among others, working toward the Noble Eightfold Path is what keeps them alive.  These people often use a 12 step recovery programme to achieve spirituality ~ and the essence of these 12 step programmes is very close to the teachings of the Buddha.  The snag is that organisations such as Alcoholics Anonymous are part-way to becoming a Religion, with all that implies.

However, if you are an alcoholic, drug addict…, then working toward spirituality by attending AA, NA meetings may just keep you alive.  Every little action in working towards Spirituality is very, very easy, and unless you are suffering from an extreme character disorder, feels perfectly natural.

The hard part is that the path to true Spirituality means that you have to keep doing it, every minute of every day.  The other hard part is that you will expose your soul to yourself.  If you like you may substitute ‘deepest subconsciousness‘ for soul.  What you will find down there are the good things, the ordinary things, the hurtful things, and the deepest, darkest, most evil parts of yourself.

Some of us didn’t want to go there.  Some of us made half-hearted efforts.  You know what?  Not doing your utmost means you only get part of the good stuff.  And, for some people that’s not enough to keep them alive.

That doesn’t mean that to do your utmost means you have to spend every second of every day actively working towards the Eightfold Path, or being involved in 12 step work.  What it means is that you have to want to believe, and when you do your 12 step work, or working toward the Noble Eightfold Path, it needs to be taken seriously and honestly.  Trust me, looking deep into the evil part of your soul isn’t something you can do for 12 hours a day ~ not unless you want to become completely insane.  All of us have a Mister Hyde.

Like everything in Life, true spirituality also needs balance.

yin-yang

balance as shown by yin-yang

Personally, I looked for balance in the philosophy of yin and yang.  This stuff apparently goes back about 3,000 years, and works on the premise that there are two sides to every coin.  Each of us has two basic halves, male and female, and these need to be kept in balance.  It’s more complicated than that ~ think of; night and day, sun and moon, winter and summer, fire and rain, life and death…

Without balance it’s very easy to go completely off the rails.

For example, my last divorce came about partly because my work / life balance was skewed in favour of work.  My ‘patch’ was Europe and North America.  I spent most of my time on aeroplanes, in hotels, in meetings, on more aeroplanes, trains, or in my car, and more hotels and more meetings.  What with that and the affairs and drinking my good lady soon became my ex.

The only way I know to begin to achieve any balance whatsoever is to practice the doctrine of ‘everything in moderation’.

This has been much derided, however ‘everything in moderation’ doesn’t mean everything.  Some things are just not on the list.  If you take drugs then stop.  If you smoke then cut down with the aim of stopping soon.  If you drink every single day then stop drinking completely.  If you drink a little too much then cut down, have at least two days a week when alcohol is off the agenda.  Sugar in any form is mostly not on the list.  Stay away from candy, cakes and cookies.

Tomorrow I will attempt to explain how to get started on your work toward Spirituality.  Every person on this planet could greatly benefit from doing some of this.

You may trust me on this one, you do not want to hear the Raven quoth ‘Nevermore.’

Carbohydrates Are Addictive

THE HUMAN TONGUE IS TUNED TO TASTE CARBOHYDRATES

ObesityIf you have ever wondered why ‘diet foods’ taste bland and unsatisfying, it’s because your tongue isn’t picking up the taste of carbohydrates as there aren’t many carbs in diet food.  Worse than that, when your tongue recognises carbs in your food, it sends pleasure signals to your brain.  No carbohydrates on your fork, no fun for your pleasure centres.  The people in white coats report that as well as the basic five ‘tastes’ of; sweet, sour, salty, savory, and bitter, the human tongue has a ‘sixth sense’ and can identify carbohydrates.  Given that carbohydrates rapidly break down in the body, turning to sugar in the blood, the ‘taste’ of starches tells the brain to expect an instant hit of energy in the form of sugar.

I Ate My Desk AgainCarbohydrates hit areas of the sensory system and brain that remain totally unaffected by artificial sweeteners.  Crucially, this happens if you merely taste the carbs and don’t even swallow them.  Dr Nicholas Grant from the University of Auckland’s Sport and Exercise Department says; ‘Carbohydrates are extremely powerful stimuli that have profound and immediate effects on the brain and the systems it controls.’  This sixth sense on the tongue for carbs might explain why sportsmen respond immediately to carbohydrate-rich food.  It might also explain a lot about eating disorders.

The good news is that because this happens direct from the mouth to the brain, you don’t even have to swallow the bread / potatoes / rice / beans to get this particular jolt.  Studies have shown that having a carbohydrate-rich drink and using it as a mouthwash, (spit the stuff out), improves performance during strenuous exercise without giving your body all those calories.  This does not work with sugar-based solutions, just carbohydrates.  Sugar and carbohydrates together works even better as an energy mouthwash, allegedly.  MRI studies show that sweet carbohydrate solution swished around the mouth activates the areas of the human brain linked to ‘sight’ and ‘reward.’  The carbohydrate taste is completely different to the sweet taste, so the brain receives two separate signals.  Motor output and therefore physical performance are improved, just by the brain telling the body that there’s energy on the way.

bread-baked-from-wheat-flourThe bad news is that, if a sportsman doesn’t ingest the carbohydrates the brain will tell the body that it has more reserves of energy than actually exist.  Great for weight-loss, bad if you’re running a marathon.  The other bad news is that carb-rich foods stimulate the areas in the brain involved with cravings.  I know people who have a craving for carbohydrates such as; bread, chocolate, cakes….  It isn’t pretty.

Because just tasting carbohydrates on your tongue sends signals to the pleasure centres in the brain, people can become addicted to carbohydrate-rich foods.  These include, (but are not limited to): bread, bagels, biscuits, cakes, cereal, chocolate, cookies, crackers, danish, french fries, fruits and fruit juices, ice cream, potato chips, (crisps), pasta, potatoes, pretzels, rice, pies, popcorn, sugary drinks, and sweetcorn.  Carbohydrate addiction is a recognised medical condition.

a-obese-wSome respected psychologists, doctors, dieticians, and food scientists, claim the carbohydrates, sweets, (candy), and chocolate are as addictive as cigarettes. Eating too many hot dogs is just another form of substance addiction.  The sugar rush created when we eat these foods stimulates the same areas of the brain that respond to nicotine, alcohol, and other drugs.  The problem is that carbohydrates and sugars are like other addictive drugs in that the ‘addict’ has to consume ever larger amounts of the chemical of their choice to get a satisfactory hit.  Consuming ever larger amounts of carbs and sugars makes people fat, obese, morbidly obese and dead.

So, the parts of the brain that respond to carbohydrates are the same areas that are linked to alcoholism, smoking, substance abuse and dependence.  That does not sound good.

alcoholic-latina-womanIt just gets worse.  The brain is run on things called neurotransmitters, which allow signals to pass between nerve cells.  When you take cocaine, smoke, drink booze, eat carbohydrates, a neurotransmitter called dopamine is created.  Dopamine goes right to the pleasure centres of the brain.  The reason dopamine is created from carbs is because the release of insulin into the blood causes a huge blood sugar spike.  This is particularly bad when we eat wheat products, potatoes, and corn starch.  It’s even worse than that for diabetics because they can go into shock and die from eating too many high-glycemic carbohydrates.  Too many carbohydrates, alcohol and too much tobacco are leading you on the path to type 2 diabetes anyway.

The question is, is a low carbohydrate diet the answer?  Perhaps that depends on how bad your addictions are.  However, too many carbohydrates are really bad for the human body, whatever way you look at it.  Refined carbohydrates, principally from wheat flour, corn flour and corn starch are toxic.  The blood sugar produced is responsible for visceral fat.  The infamous ‘beer belly.’  If you have a beer belly, not only do you look disgusting, you are also unhealthy.  Visceral fat, (omentum fat), affects your body’s ability to produce insulin, which is essential for the proper digestion of sugar in the blood, and you’re back on your way to type 2 diabetes again.

smoking1Depending on who and what you read, it takes from 3 to 28 days to detoxify your body and kick an addiction to carbohydrates.  Personally, being very familiar with 12-step self-help programmes, I am more inclined to think that it takes 28 days to kick your carb addiction.  That will mean giving up on wheat products, potatoes, corn sugars, refined table sugar, fizzy drinks, and, (because of cross addiction), probably booze and cigarettes for 28 days.  Allegedly, the half-dozen foods you should almost never eat if you have a weight booze, tobacco, carbohydrate problem and would like to lose your belly fat are;

  1. Concentrated fruit juice drinks.  These are nothing but sugar-water.
  2. Highly processed foods like TV dinners, candy, and chocolate ice creams.  Often full of corn syrup and / or dextrose which are very bad for you.
  3. Margarine.  This stuff is full of trans-fats, which can give you heart disease, increase bad cholesterol, and kill you.  Butter is better.
  4. Wheat and wheat products, including whole wheat.  Bread, pasta, pizza, cake, cookies and other comfort foods.
  5. Processed soy.  Soy milk, tofu, vegetarian ‘meats’ etc…  95% of soya grown in the USA is genetically modified.  This stuff is unhealthy.
  6. Corn and corn products.  Especially GM corn.  Genetically modified corn is just as bad as ‘modern’ wheat when it comes to toxins your body does not like.

The bottom line is, Highly refined foods are full of bad stuff.  Too much carbohydrate is going to kill your chances of being a manly man,

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