Recovery, Addiction, Spiritual Principles, Twelve Steps, Narcotics Anonymous, NA

Trust and the Drive-In Movie

Yesterday, after work, I was exhausted. I’m not sure why, but I was too tired to function, and desperately needed a nap. So, I took a nap. A long, peaceful, glorious nap!

There was just one problem. I had promised Shaun that the two of us would swim after I finished work. By the time I awoke, there wasn’t much time left in the day for swimming, but I threw on my swim trunks anyway.

When I called Shaun down from his room, he came bounding down the stairs wearing a great big smile, and his swim trunks. He was ready. He had no doubt that we would swim together.

Shaun trusts me to keep my word to him!

That is one of the most beautiful sentences I could ever hope to write. He knew that when I awoke, there would be swimming. He trusted me because I have established a track record with him for keeping my word.

How could any dad ask for more?

Now, here’s the funny part of last night’s story. We swam for only around twenty minutes because our plan was to catch a movie at the drive-in movie theater. So, after Shaun and I had dried off, we piled up in my car, and the three of us were off to the movies.

There was only one problem. The drive-in theater was closed last night. So, when we pulled up to the locked gate, my heart sank. By this time it was too late to catch a movie at a regular theater. I felt those all-too-familiar pangs of having let down a child. That voice inside my head, the one that likes to hurl accusations at me, started to tell me what a failure I was.

Soon though, that inner voice was drown out. Laughter was filling our car. Sure, Shaun was disappointed, but he and Amanda quickly made alternative plans to see the movie tonight while I’m out of town. Then, more plans… a trip to Shaun’s favorite restaurant, Arby’s!

The night was saved, and so was my spirit. As we sat enjoying our meals, there was plenty of laughter. Also, good conversation about Shaun’s first day of fourth grade, which is today.

When we had said our goodnights, Shaun’s trust in me was still in tact. My failed attempt at a movie on his last night of summer may have been a flop, yet my efforts were a success.

The trust Shaun has for me is the result of over three years of knowing me. Last night is but one of several examples of times my plans have failed. Each serves as a reminder of the fact that I am far from perfect.

Yet Shaun doesn’t demand perfection. All he seems to ask of me is consistent effort. As long as I give it my best effort, being there when I say I will be there, and treating him with respect, trust flourishes.

I can learn a lot from Shaun. When I place my trust in someone, I need to remember that perfection is not a prerequisite for trust. After all, if it were, I would not be able to trust anyone. Not even God, because from my perspective, there are times when it feels as though He is absent.

Whether I am placing my trust in God, or in another person, all I really need to have is a consistent track record. Reflecting on that record from past experiences, I can look at my present situation with confidence, knowing that I can practice trust.

I am grateful for the program of Narcotics Anonymous, and for its emphasis on the continual practice of spiritual principles. Through it, I have not only learned to trust others once again, but I have also become trustworthy. Even to a very discerning ten year old.

Have a remarkable day!

Recovery, Addiction, Spiritual Principles, Twelve Steps, Narcotics Anonymous, NA

Open-Mindedness and Monday Memes

Well, it’s here again. Monday. The beginning of the work week for most.

For me, Monday means one thing. It’s the day when I watch as my friends on social media post memes about how much they HATE Mondays.

It’s almost enough to make me hate a Monday!

Here’s the thing. I love Mondays. I love the fresh start Monday brings. I love my career, and am ready to get back to it. I’ve been this way for years.

I’ve not always been a fan of Mondays. There was a time, when I was young, that I had a job that I simply dreaded. So, on Sunday night, I would lie awake in my bed, frustrated by the end of a too-short weekend. A sickening feeling would spread over me like a dark oppression.

Oh, how I hated Mondays.

For five years, that was the story of my life. That means that I dedicated arounds 250 Sunday nights to dread, with the same number of Mondays dedicated to loathing and misery.

Why did I stay in that cycle of oppressive dread and misery? The answer is simple, and can be summed up in one word: fear.

I was afraid to make a change. Afraid to strike out onto a new path. Afraid I wasn’t good enough, or even worthy of finding success.

So, I just continued on. My life became defined by another word: settling. I settled into that pattern. Settled into the notion that I was not destined to find fulfillment in my career. Settled into a mindset that accepted that Mondays were awful.

After all, everyone hates Mondays, right?

I’d love to report that changes came from within. That I mustered the inner strength needed to break the cycle of dread and loathing. To say that, though, would be a lie.

Change came by force. The company for which I worked went through an acquisition. The writing was on the wall. There was going to be a huge lay-off of employees. There would no longer be a sales team. Our jobs would be contracted out to other rep agencies.

So, I was forced to face my fears. I had to find something else to do.

That situation changed my life. Soon, I found myself in an entirely different career. It was as though I had been set free. On Sunday evenings, I found myself looking forward to the next day. On Monday mornings, I would spring out of bed, ready to attack the week.

That’s been my story for the past 25 years. Even through career changes, I have continued to take pleasure in my work. Not surprisingly, this change has spilled over into the other days of the week as well. No more counting the days until Friday finally arrives.

As for those weekends. Well, I find that I enjoy those more too. Without the shadow of dread that the approach of Monday once brought, I am able to truly enjoy weekends. I am fully present, and fully engaged.

In the end, it didn’t matter what made me change careers so many years back. What matters is that I did it. I broke the cycle. I found freedom.

Recovery, through the program of Narcotics Anonymous is like that too. It doesn’t matter what brings an addict into the rooms. Whether court ordered, encouraged by family and friends, or simply a self-inspired act of desperation, change is possible.

I was locked in a viscous cycle when I first came into the rooms. I was getting high and staying high all the time. It wasn’t just Monday that I dreaded. It was every day. The only solution I could imagine came from the drugs. Maybe just a little more and I’ll be ok.

I knew I was miserable, but stopping was the furthest thing from my mind.

Then I met Amanda, and she began to tell me of the freedom she had found through Narcotics Anonymous. I saw a joy in her life that I wanted. So, I admitted to her that maybe I had a little drug problem of my own.

No, life in recovery lis not perfect. As with my career, there are still challenges to face. Despite these challenges, I no longer dread the future. I’ve found a new way to live that allows me to attack each day and make the very most of it.

So, for all my friends who hate Mondays, a simple word of advice. Apply some open-mindedness and make a change! Life is too short to waste it on pursuits that only bring fear and loathing. Whether that fear and loathing are from drug abuse, or from a job you simply hate, with a little change, life can become an exciting challenge.

Have a remarkable day!

Recovery, Addiction, Spiritual Principles, Twelve Steps, Narcotics Anonymous, NA

Commitment and Truman

Lately, I’ve been reading a biography about the life of President Harry S. Truman. Thus far, I’ve only made it about a third of the way into the story of his life and leadership.

  • The things that have surprised me most about this dynamic leader are:
    • Before politics, Truman’s life was marked largely by failure. Though he had a stellar military experience during World War One, he never parlayed that experience into a successful civilian life.
      Truman’s political career began at the behest of the leader of a corrupt political machine in Kansas City. That machine saw him elected locally first, then later as a U.S. Senator.
      When President Roosevelt died, ushering Truman into the Oval Office, he was unknown to most. Though Roosevelt’s Vice-President, Truman had never been in the man’s inner circle. He was, one heartbeat away from being President of the United States, and yet, lived an almost anonymous life. A mere figurehead.
  • Then it happened. The President was dead. The bespectacled outsider from Missouri had been sworn in as President. For those in power, one question was at the forefront of their minds. Is this man up to the job?
  • History tells us that President Harry S. Truman was indeed up to the job. He proved himself to be, if nothing else, a man who kept his commitments.
  • Though he failed in his business pursuits, Truman remained committed to fulfilling his financial obligations. While his partner in a clothing store declared bankruptcy after the store’s failure, in order to avoid paying back his creditors; Truman avoided bankruptcy, and continued to pay those creditors back for years, until his debts were paid in full.
  • As for that political machine, Truman did not allow himself to be sucked in to their corruption. When graft was readily available, he accepted none. He chose to serve his constituents, rather than to profit from them.
  • As for dedication, though relatively obscure, Truman’s work ethic was undeniable. He spent long days in his senate office, and later in the Vice-President’s office, meeting with colleagues and constituents. This strange man from Missouri favored hard work over political power.
  • In reading about his life, I’ve become a fan of the man. I don’t have to agree with his politics to appreciate and respect the way he fulfilled his commitments.
  • It would have been easy for others to write Harry S. Truman off as a failure long before he ascended to the Presidency. Just look at him. Why, the man can’t even run a clothing store successfully. Nothing to see here… move on to the next candidate. Let’s find someone who is more marketable, and who will pole better among voters. Seems like he’s a failure to me.
  • If nothing else, Truman’s story tells me that my past failures do not get to define my future. As a recovering addict, I am no stranger to failure. Many of my failures came as the result of not keeping commitments, both to others and to myself.
  • When I traded my core values for a little comfort or pleasure, commitment was nowhere to be found.
  • Today, I practice commitment in all areas of my life. I am committed to living within God’s will for my life. I’m committed to my marriage. Self-care and personal growth have my commitment. As does my recovery.
  • President Truman never allowed his past failures to keep him from fulfilling his commitments, and neither do I. My failures for not define me. Instead, I’ll let dedication to fulfilling my commitments make me the kind of person I was meant to be. I’ll let that dedication serve as evidence of the new way of life I have found through Narcotics Anonymous.
  • Have a remarkable day!
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    Recovery, Addiction, Spiritual Principles, Twelve Steps, Narcotics Anonymous, NA

    Trust and Wristwatches

    I wear an old fashioned watch. Not only does it not surf the web or display text messages; it has no battery at all. It’s an automatic watch. One that is self-winding. It has tiny gears inside that are turned by even tinier springs. All so I can see what the time and date are.

    This watch also has a unique feature. Along with a dial to set the time and date, there is another that helps regulate the time in very small increments. If my watch is running too fast, I use a special wrench to turn the dial in a direction that slows the watch down ever so slightly. Turn that dial the opposite direction, and my watch will run a bit faster.

    I bought this specific model so that I could wear it at all times. I especially like being able to wear a watch while swimming. It’s a bit of a compulsion of mine, always wanting to know what time it is.

    In the past, I’ve worn watches with batteries, and they have performed well. Right up until the battery needed to be replaced, that is. Something about that factory seal just could never be replicated by a jeweler. Those watches all filled with water after having the batteries replaced.

    So, I settled on this one a while back. So far, it has proven to be very dependable. Very water tight. It even keeps great time, as long as I am vigilant about using that little wrench to adjust the inner workings occasionally. Mostly, those adjustments follow the changing seasons.

    It stands to reason that as temperatures fall, all those metal parts contract a little, changing the effects of springs on gears.

    It’s really quite a marvel of technology. All those tiny parts working together to drive a small machine on my wrist. A marvel that I trust. One on which I know I can depend. As long as I do my part.

    Trust is like that. It is something that develops over time, and grows stronger with experience. At first, I would only wear my watch in the pool in very short increments. After each time, I would closely inspect it for leaks. I was on the lookout for even the slightest hint of water.

    In time, having found no water, I grew comfortable wearing it no matter how long I planned to swim. Today, I don’t even give it a second thought. I trust it not to leak.

    Also, from time to time (pun intended), I will check the time against that which is displayed on my cell phone. When I find that they are synchronized, a feeling of satisfaction results. On the other hand, if they are not telling the same time, I know it’s time to get out my little wrench and make some adjustments.

    My relationship with my watch, and the trust I have in it, is similar to my relationship with recovery through the program of Narcotics Anonymous. Early on, when I was just dipping my toes in the waters of recovery, I had a fair amount of apprehension. Could I really trust recovery, and Narcotics Anonymous to give me relief from addiction? Would I really find a new way to live?

    In time, as with my watch, my confidence in recovery grew. With that confidence came an increase in willingness to dive more deeply into the program. I found that I could trust the program in areas of my life that have nothing to do with drugs. I can live the program without giving thought to whether or not it can be trusted.

    Occasionally, though, I need to check my application of the NA program. As my cell phone is to precise time, NA literature is to the program of Narcotics Anonymous. So, I read, looking for guidance to know whether or not I am on the right track.

    If I see that I am somehow off track, I make little adjustments to help align myself with the proven path of recovery. I can realign myself with the spiritual principles, and how they can be applied to my life.

    In place of that tiny wrench used on my watch, I can seek advice from other’s, both in and out of recovery. People I trust, and whose wisdom has proven itself over time.

    For instance, if I am seeking guidance on applying the steps to a given situation, I know many in recovery whom I can trust for sound advice. On the other hand, if I’m seeking guidance on my career or finances, there is no one I’d rather turn to than my brother John.

    Learning to trust, is so vital to living a joyful life. Learning who to trust, makes the journey more carefree.

    Today, I’ll practice trust by counting on the things that have brought me this far in recovery. I’ll also practice it through introspection, so I can be sure that I am staying on the right path, seeking directions as needed.

    Have a remarkable day!

    Addiction, NA, Narcotics Anonymous, Recovery, Spiritual Principles, Twelve Steps

    Trust and The Lawn

    Later today, or perhaps tomorrow morning, I will get out the lawn mower, and cut the grass in our yard again. It’s the oddest thing, but that grass just kept on growing even though I was out of town on business. I turned my back on it, and it just kept on doing what it is supposed to do.

    Of course, I did set it up to be successful while I was away. I dosed it with a round of weed and feed before leaving on my trip. On top of that, the sprinkler system was left on so that it would automatically receive the water it needed. I knew, though, that there wasn’t anything else needed in order for it to do what grass does.

    I set it up for success, and trusted it to do the rest.

    Gosh Kent, that’s kind of silly. Of course it grew. It’s grass! That’s what grass does for heaven’s sake.

    While it is true that growing is natural for grass, especially under the right conditions, my thriving lawn provides a nice illustration of how trust works. While I was away, I didn’t give a second thought to what my lawn was up to. There was no need to dwell on it, or worry about it.

    Also, while I was away, I was being trusted. Trusted by Amanda who was here, managing our home like a finely tuned business. She didn’t feel the need to call me minute by minute to check up on me. No need to monitor our checking account to be sure large amounts of money had not gone missing (a sure sign of drug use).

    Then there is my boss. He’s literally hundreds of miles away, up in Minnesota, tending to other business. Trusting me to be taking care of my business, without even a hint of suspicion about what I was actually doing.

    As with my lawn, and the weed and feed and water I provided it so it could succeed, both Amanda and My boss had provided me with tools for success. From Amanda, there was love, respect, and nurturing to help motivate me to act in a way that is trustworthy. Why would I even consider an escape from my life with her?

    My boss has provided training, motivation, and tools needed to do my job. Along with those, he has provided clear expectations for me. Tasks to be done, and goals to achieve.

    Of course, there is an obvious thing my lawn needs in order to thrive. It must be grounded in the soil. It needs the soil from which to drawn nutrients. Roots that are not visible, and yet which connect grass to ground.

    In my life, that soil is found in my relationship to God. My roots, the ones keep me grounded, are connected to Him.

    A major form of nutrition is found in the Narcotics Anonymous program. In my life, as in the lives of thousands of other recovering addicts, NA is a major source of health and nutrition in my life.

    Through the program of Narcotics Anonymous, I have become trustworthy. Trusted by others, and even trusted by myself. I can be left unattended, yet counted on to grow while no one is looking.

    For some, it will be hard to understand why being trusted is such a big deal. After all, there are plenty of folks for whom drug abuse is not part of their story. Nor is a breaking of trust an issue. However, for me, there was a time not so long ago when trusting Kent would have been folly. With my focus completely on getting and using drugs, I had become anything but trustworthy.

    I thank God that today, trust is a part of my story. That I can go away for work, and be trusted to do what I am supposed to do. It is a key part of the new way of life I have found in recovery through Narcotics Anonymous.

    Have a remarkable day!

    Addiction, NA, Narcotics Anonymous, Recovery, Spiritual Principles, Twelve Steps

    Honesty and Car Lots

    My very first job after graduating college was working in new car sales. Talk about a tough gig. Working in that environment was a huge challenge. Slow days seemed to stretch on forever. Then Saturday would arrive, and it seemed that I might drown in “ups.”

    That was the term used to describe prospective customers. A prospective customer would appear, and the question would come, “Who’s up?”

    “I’m up.”

    “Then that’s your up.”

    The feast or famine nature of car sales was not the worst part of the job though. Far from it. For me, the worst part of that job was what it did to my opinion of others. How it dashed my hopes that people were, as a whole, honest.

    As it turned out, most people came into our dealership expecting to be lied to. They believed the cliche reputation of the car salesperson, and, convinced that they would suffer a barrage of lies during their shopping experience, would find that lying came easily.

    I was lied to by pastors, doctors, farmers, and nearly anyone else who came through the door. The sense of frustration I felt at having to constantly question the honesty of the person sitting across my desk, made going to work a miserable experience.

    There had to be more to life than living each day in an atmosphere of deceit. It was not long before I was planning my exit from that job.

    I know that my drug use brought me to a point where honesty meant less to me than it had to the worst of those ups from my car selling days. In the drug world, truth was not only rare, but it could also be dangerous. As a using addict, I was constantly exposed to people who were as likely to steal from me as they were to breath.

    Not only that, but my own use was the big secret of my life. I held it close, doing whatever was needed to keep it hidden. Again, honesty was dangerous. Honesty would mean certain exposure. I would be seen for who I really was, and what I had been doing.

    Today, I have regained my ability to be honest. I don’t practice honesty perfectly, nor do I find that people are always honest with me. Honest is, though, something I once again value. I strive to be honest in all my affairs, and to surround myself with honest people.

    Today, I no longer fear honesty. I have discovered a new life through the program of Narcotics Anonymous that demands honesty; first from me, then from others.

    Have a remarkable day!

    Addiction, NA, Narcotics Anonymous, Recovery, Spiritual Principles, Twelve Steps

    Hope, Peace, and Serenity

    Last night, I addended a meeting of Narcotics Anonymous in the city to which my business travels have taken me this week. The meeting was well attended, and the topic was chosen out of yesterday’s daily meditation; dealing with difficult people.

    The meeting chair asked us to share on how we handle difficult people in our lives.

    Hmmm, I wondered. Who in my life is a “difficult person?”

    Honestly, I sat there bewildered as I searched my mind for people who present a challenge to my serenity. Who, who indeed?

    It was only after a few moments that the answer came to me. That person came to mind, yet there was no angst associated with thoughts of them. I doubt my blood pressure changed even a tick, because of some action I’ve taken within the past couple of weeks to let go of the angst this person has caused.

    When my turn to share came, I shared some of the story about how the present conflict came into being. Also, I shared about the one day each month that I was allowing this person to steal my serenity. Or, more accurately stated, I was surrendering my serenity to them and the situation.

    Then my sharing took a turn. I went on to share about how I had, less than two weeks ago, applied the steps to the situation. It was that day of the month. The one on which I had, yet again surrendered my serenity to this person and situation.

    It was a simple process, summed up in the first three steps:

    1. I can’t.

    2. God can.

    3. I’ll let Him.

    It was that simple. Sure, some of those thoughts remained throughout the day. When they did, all I needed to do was to remind myself that the situation was no longer mine to tackle. I’d given it to God, and could trust Him to take care of it.

    As I sat pondering the matter, I realized a bit of a miracle had occurred after I had officially turned the matter over to God. Not only had my serenity been restored, but within less than two weeks a resolution to that situation came into focus.

    Call it a coincidence or a fluke if you like. I choose to call it a miracle. I choose to believe it is God’s way of reminding me that I can find hope in Him.

    As I shared, I saw some faces in the room light up. Fellow recovering addicts nodded with smiles that told me they had experienced similar miracles having placed their hope in God. I felt certain that my story was not unique.

    Through the Narcotics Anonymous program, I am learning to live at peace with myself, and with the world around me. I’m learning to stop looking for conflicts. A life of peace and serenity is my goal.

    There was a time when I thought such a life was unattainable for me. I was convinced that my life was destined to be filled with disappointment. A continual feeling of having fallen short and failing to measure up to expectations.

    Rather than facing these feelings, and working through them, I chose escape. Rather than seeking hope through a relationship with God, I chose drugs to simple help me forget.

    Today, I have found hope through the message of Narcotics Anonymous. That message is that an addict, any addict, can stop using drugs, lose the desire to use, and find a new way to live. This new way of life is about so much more than merely staying clean. It is about finding that peace and serenity that once seemed so out of reach.

    Have a remarkable day!