I’m going to give a plug to my old blogging pal Paul. Paul has been a truly inspirational blogger to me over the years I’ve read his stuff. You know he is one of those people who writes eloquently and with stunning honesty that has really touched me or pulled me up sharply about my own recovery at times to making me look long and hard into those dark nasty recesses of my dis-ease that need to have the light of sensibility shone on them from time to time.
Anyhoo your man Paul has moved from blogging to podcasting! If you haven’t already discovered it hop over to the site at http://www.buzzkillpod.com/ to be enlightened. I actually normally subscribe/listen via Soundcloud and you’ll find all the episodes at https://soundcloud.com/buzzkill-pod
There are already 18 episodes available for inspiration guys with some of the latest being great interviews with other recovery bloggers etc. that Paul has found have inspired his journey in someway.
Having given the podcast a plug I am going to talk a little about the last two episodes (17 and 18) where Paul is in conversation with Chris Freeman (Power House Recovery Centre) and Lisa Neumann (Author and Recovery/Life Coach) and what I’ve been thinking about as a result of listening to them. I found listening to these two hugely interesting. Chris comes over very much as a fairly old school 12 steps person – i.e. getting recovery is only contingent on giving that message back to suffering alcoholics on a regular basis (I paraphrase here and hope I don’t do any injustice). Lisa on the other hand has trained as a recovery and life coach in recovery and applies those skills to help people in recovery (again I hope I don’t summarise overly). What approach is best? The one that gets and keeps you sober is my advice – try them all but don’t run from one to another continually just ‘cos something hurts a bit. I’ve seen plenty of serial relapsers go from 12 step to CBT to alcohol day programme to 12 step to psychoanalysis to… etc. etc. you get the picture.
For me there are things that are clearly related directly to my alcoholism – when I drink too much is the obvious one! But then after that stuff can get confusing. I’ll use a very personal example. My Dad died when I was 22, it was sudden and unexpected, he’d gone into hospital for a routine op and was in early recovery for that, still in hospital, when he suffered a catastrophic and fatal heart attack. Gone in a moment on a Saturday morning whilst we were all still in bed at home. I’d only seen him the afternoon before and he was happy smiling and talking about what he was going to do once rehab was complete from the op. After sometime in recovery I realised I’d spent a lot of my adult life trying to prove something to him, some of that is also related to my working in a graduate dominated white collar profession rather than in a job following my Dad’s working class blue collar roots. He was never there to say “I’m proud” and I was seeking that approval. Did that make me an alcoholic? No I was already drinking unsafely before he died. Did it propel my alcoholism? Possibly, that feeling of never being good enough was something that fuelled my drinking at times. But would that have been gone if Dad had been there? What if in the end he hadn’t approved of my career and family etc.? So a lot of that stuff has some element of connection with my alcoholism but frankly it is a problem irrespective of that. The issue is I never have come to terms with losing my Dad at that point in my life and not having him around as I got married, had kids, moved up careerwise etc. I’ve worked with different counsellors with varying degrees of success over the years looking at this stuff. Now I’m working solely in Rogers’ Person Centred model as that aligns with my training and I’m drawn to it as a model for working with people. I like it since it is driven by the person who is in counselling the counsellor is only there to provide an environment for the person to find what they want to find, there is no goal setting, no predetermination of what is good, bad, right or wrong – that is all set and adjusted by the person in counselling as they go through it. The belief underlying the Rogerian school is that we have an actualising tendency which is like a life beacon that is the “ideal” for us to grow as people but we often shut off to that through what family, teachers, preachers, society tells us we should or shouldn’t be like. Rogers view is that counselling is to nurture contact with that actualising tendency and then you grow as a better more autonomous being.
So what is all this ramble about … if you’ve got here well done! What I’m trying to say is your recovery is about YOU! What feels right for you about the 12 steps? (if you are following that path). It isn’t just an exercise in going Step 1, Step 2, Step 3, etc. As you learn about them, learn about you. Go back when you might say “Hang on what I now feel about that means what I previously thought/felt seems at odds to me or simply wrong now.” If you feel real dis-ease about stuff you uncover in your life as you review past life or current events think on how best to deal with it. Is this something the AA programme of living helps me with? Can I move forward and make changes? Do I even know what changes I feel comfortable making? Would a counsellor or coach or someone outside of the AA programme give me a better perspective for myself on this?
The AA programme stopped me drinking. It started to show me things about myself that were tied up to the drinking – when I got angry, when I felt my time was being encroached etc. Much of that, over time, AA and the 12 steps have helped with… some stuff, like the loss of my Dad and how I feel about that, in my opinion, steps outside the AA programme and reviewing and smoothing that out within myself is something I need other help for. But that is me so I say again… Your Recovery is YOURS! Be open to what is the best route for you to take and remember it’ll never be exactly the same as anybody else’s.