What Do You Need to be Happy?

Alcoholics and addicts love to talk about being happy, joyous and free. I just sat through a well attended 12-step meeting where this was the topic. The people most inclined to speak on this topic were primarily younger attendees within their first 60 days… “what do they know?” I silently judged before reflecting on how […]

The Gift of Desperation

Holding a large butcher knife, I staggered to the master bedroom, slammed the door and dramatically announced I was ending it all. At least that is what I was told. I was in a blackout much of my last drinking spree. I had been trying to stop drinking for fourteen years. When I actually did […]

The Spot-Check Inventory

Imagine you win tickets to a performance by the local symphony who will be playing scores from your favorite movies of all time. The night arrives and you settle into your seat. As the first strains of a beautiful melody issue forth you have a thought: Did I lock my car? You mentally flash to […]

Overcoming Self-Centeredness

My name is Rick. I am self-centered and fearful. In the past that has fueled my alcoholism and complicated my mental illness. For alcohol, according to our literature, is but a symptom. The underlying spiritual malady is self-centered fear. Knowing this, I embarked on a little experiment. Nine days ago I reviewed Steps 6 and […]

The Shade Tree

Drunk almost daily since my sophomore year of college, it took some time to graduate… twenty-two years to be precise. Though there were multiple starts and stops (sometimes the bottle was a little more important than attendance) and though I changed my major more frequently than my fashion-conscious wife changes her nail polish, one thing […]

The Reason for Suffering and Struggles

Imagine I take my one-and-a-half-year-old grandson Oliver to the doctor. A vaccination is on the docket and a sharp shiny needle pierces his tender arm. Oliver belts a horrifying shriek and whimpers. He doesn’t understand that the shot is intended to protect him from a life-threatening illness. He only knows he’s in pain and grandpa […]

Overcoming Shame–A Personal Story

If only shame were fleeting and impermanent. But it’s not. It’s sticky. Hard to remove. Crippling. Unlike justified guilt, which just tells me I did something wrong, shame says I am wrong-–defective to the core. Avoid me. Shun me. Whisk the children away at my coming. Guilt, if heeded, can be productive. I change my […]

True Tolerance

The foundation of true spirituality is an insight that seems, at first, counter intuitive: we are all imperfect. We are all flawed. We are all broken. If there is any doubt of this fundamental truth, consider the opposite. The prideful being. The being that looks down on others or considers himself superior, no matter how […]

Crushing the Mental Obsession

I thought about drinking. Not on occasion. Not when the weekend rolled around. Not when the workday drew to a close. But constantly. I was obsessed with the thought of a drink whenever alcohol was not metabolizing in my system. The mental obsession was my constant companion for over twenty years. But for the past […]

The Ball and Chain…

The first drink had few consequences. Sure there was the dry mouth and the shards of glass rattling around in my brain the next morning. But that cleared up relatively quickly. I didn’t drink again for a year. The second drink was a few shots of gin before high school wrestling practice. My coach asked […]