Charlie and Joe Big Book Study
I‘m Paul, and I’m recovering from addiction.
My addictions are a result of my experiences growing up, starting with the beliefs and judgments I created about myself. Family patterns of addiction are a contributing factor, passed on to me genetically, energetically, and through the day to day role modeling of my parents. One of the things I learned while watching Mom and Dad was that avoiding emotional pain was what I was “supposed” to do. They didn’t know any better. They didn’t know that numbing feelings, at best, is temporary, and that my feelings will eventually come out – most likely in some unhealthy way.
To complete my indoctrination, I grew up at a time in American culture when checking out with drugs was romanticized, especially in the music I loved. Finding an altered state of consciousness, pain-free and goofy, was the goal – 24/7, if possible!
I was a full blown addict by age 15. For the next 17 years, my life was chaotic, filled with suffering, out of control and riddled with fear. My alcoholic father had modeled self-righteous atheism. So, white knuckled and sweating, I clung to that perspective. I bought into his belief that a successful and happy life would happen when I learned the skills to control everything, including my destiny. But I could never seem to nail down those skills. Increasingly, my life was like hanging onto the tail of a wild and unpredictable beast.
I walked into a 12 Step room for the first time at the age of 32. They said recovery depended on my acceptance of a Higher Power. They said if I couldn’t do that right away, I could pretend there was a Higher Power. So I did that. But it didn’t take long to accept a spiritual view of life. And when I did, a huge burden was lifted.
My recovery has blossomed on a foundation of continual spiritual awakening. It’s been two steps forward, one step back, but it has been forward moving. Acceptance of a Higher Power is essential in my having the strength and courage to cope with the feelings that visit me every day.
A little over a decade ago, I found myself being called to a deeper understanding myself and Higher Power. This led to a Masters Degree in Spiritual Psychology. In the course of that study, I came to a real understanding of my core, limiting beliefs – the thoughts I had, the things I told myself that fed my addictions, and I wasn’t even aware of. Here are a few:
“I am disgusting, I am unworthy, I am not enough, I am unfeeling, I am deeply self-centered, I am shallow, I am damaged, I am unworthy of being accepted in normal society, I am pitiful, I’m incapable of intimacy with other human beings, I deserve to feel shame and guilt”
One of the fundamental teachings of Spiritual Psychology and many other spiritual traditions is: “When I judge, I suffer.” Realizing how much I judged myself, and using the tools of Spiritual Psychology to release my limiting beliefs and judgments has become central my continuing recovery.
In my work with clients and those in recovery, understanding and letting go of limiting beliefs is vitally important. Self-honoring choices are at the heart of mental health and sobriety. There is no more important, self-honoring choice than to love ourselves unconditionally. To be gentle with ourselves. To recognize that in spite of our history, we are divine creations who have walked our unique life path for a reason. I’m convinced that many of us who’ve trod the addict’s path have gone through it, so we could go on to serve others in profound and meaningful way.
god bless you,