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Sunday, December 21, 2008

New Site is up and running!!!

Well, this is the last post on the blogspot site. My new site is here: Johnny's Take

I hope that you'll come visit the new site. I did the site myself, so it's a lot more work, but it's a lot more fun too.

Come check it out!

Stay strong and help someone else out today.


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Friday, December 12, 2008

Consequences: It's never my fault!

something produced by a cause or necessarily following from a set of conditions

Some days I wish that I could pass blame for my life to someone, or something else. Trust me, I spent a good part of my life resting, in perfect peace, that my life was someone else's fault. My marriage was a mess because of the example that I had. I drank so much because I had to deal with all that guilt and shame that I had learned growing up. I gained so much weight because something was wrong with my body. All of those things were true, but not an excuse.

We are prepared for our adult life by a set of people that, most likely, had the same type of childhood that we did. If I'm not at fault for the adult life because of my parents, then how can my parents be held responsible? Did they not have parents too? My Grandparents are wonderful people, but they sucked as parents to my Mom. Great! That means that I can blame my Grandparents for my horrible choices! What? Oh. You're right, they had parents too. Then who in the hell am I supposed to blame?

How 'bout I blame the person responsible. What say I blame the person that ate anything and everything that he could get his hands on. I think that some blame goes to the person that was controlling and verbally abusive to his wife. Let's not forget to blame the guy that was guzzling whiskey from the bottle at six in the morning and would not stop until he blacked out or ran out of drink.

I did all those things. Me. I can't pass the buck any longer. I have to take personal responsibility for my life. Right now, it appears that I'm going to fall 'victim' to the economic woes of this world; I'm going to lose my house. Victim? I bought a house with no money down on an interest only loan for 5 years. Sound like a 'victim' to you? Me neither. It is me paying the consequences for making a poor decision.

Part of sobriety is placing the blame where it belongs. I can no longer afford to side-step my role in my own life. I make my own choices, I make my own decisions, and I pay for them; good or bad.

It feels good to take ownership. It feels good to feel horrible about the poor choices and to work through it. We hurt people along the way. When I own my actions, I can make amends and move on.

I am not a bad person, but I have made bad choices. All I can do it try to do the next 'right' thing.

Stay strong and help someone else out today.


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Friday, December 5, 2008

The Twelve Rewards

I love the Twelve Rewards of Sobriety! It is a list of things that you can expect to see in your life if you follow some simple principles.

1. Faith instead of despair.
2. Courage instead of fear.
3. Hope instead of desperation.
4. Peace of mind instead of confusion.
5. Real friendships instead of loneliness.
6. Self-respect instead of self-contempt.
7. Self-confidence instead of helplessness.
8. A clean conscious instead of a sense of guilt.
9. The respect of others instead of their pity and contempt.
10. A clean pattern of living instead of a hopeless existence.
11. The love and understanding of our families instead of their doubts and fears.
12. The freedom of a happy life instead of the bondage of an alcoholic obsession.

Numbers 9 and 11 are among my favorites.

I was able to travel to Oklahoma for Thanksgiving this year to see my family. I had such a wonderful time. I honestly think that it was the best holiday that I can remember.

I received a call from my brother this week. Now, my older brother is my earthly hero. If someone were to compare me to him as a man, father, or a husband, I would be so honored. He called to tell me that the last couple of times that he has seen me he has noticed change in my life. He said that I seem at peace.

I have been sober for 5 and half years. I work daily on letting God run my life, cause I'm not very good at running my own. It was really wonderful to hear, from someone that I really respect, that my life is changing still. I'm not stagnant. That the rewards of living a life of sobriety that focuses on my daily contact with God are still coming.

Being sober is not enough for me. I want to live. I want to be the man that I am supposed to be. It is about progress and not perfection, but it sure is nice to see the progress, isn't it?

Every A.A. meeting ends with, "It works if you work it." I think that I will keep working it.

Stay strong and help someone else out today.


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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My Interview with the Junky's Wife

I had the opportunity to interview The Junky's Wife a couple of days ago and I wanted to share it with everyone.

Her and her husband had gone to the county detox to get him some help. Below is a snippet from her blog. The interview follows her writing. Those of you not addicted to a substance, keep this in mind; it is a monumental event when an addict seeks help. It may seem simple or sensible to you, but, let me assure you, that it is neither simple nor sensible to the addict. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to reach that point and then be turned away:

She handed him his discharge papers, and then she said, "I'm sorry, but we're not going to be able to help you. They can't take you at the county detox unless you get your methadone dose down to 30 milligrams. We recommend you go back to the methadone clinic and wean down according to their plan."

And that was further suggestions for other resources. No attempts to help him with his suicidal threats. He began to cry, and he asked, "Is that it? There's nothing else? Nobody can help me? What if I kill myself? Can somebody help me with that?"

Now my interview with the wonderful blogger and amazing human being, The Junky's Wife. I'm grateful for the time she took to answer my questions.

Johnny: What was going through your mind when you were escorted from the place that should have been giving your family help?

The Junky's Wife: It was terrifying. For the first time, my husband was seeking help on his own...he's been places before to try to get help at my insistence, but this was the first time he'd really looked for himself. I'd hoped that his initiating the work would do the trick, and it was really upsetting to watch him treated like human trash. The doctors basically saw an uninsured, penniless addict, and the message they gave him was, "Go away and die, junky."

He went to two emergency rooms saying he felt like he was going to kill himself and that he needed help getting off drugs, and both places sent him away...I had hoped that it wasn't possible for these kinds of things to happen to people who wanted help, and I don't know if I would have believed it if I hadn't been there.

Johnny: If I were to '12 Step' your husband, what do you think the best approach would be?

The Junky's Wife: Respect that he's not got an option about his methadone maintenance. He's struggled around 12 step meetings because people have told him he's not clean if he's taking methadone and that he shouldn't be talking in meetings. He can't get off it at his dose, and he's not got any options other than to wean down according to his clinic's plan. He wants to be clean, and from what I understand, a desire to be clean is the only requirement for joining Narcotics Anonymous. He can't stay clean on his own, and N.A. shuns's a situation a lot of heroin addicts who go the methadone route face, and it's a shame.

Rehab isn't an option in our state if you don't have money or health insurance and you need methadone. People at the methadone clinic don't tell you the whole story, and you don't find it out for yourself until you're too hooked on methadone to get off. My husband needs the support of a sponsor and the experience, strength, and hope of other addicts to be able to make it, and so far, he's not been able to find it. A little kindness and understanding and respect for the decisions he's made would go a long way.

Johnny: How will your writing change, if at all, WHEN your husband gets clean?

The Junky's Wife: I see my blog and its sister site The Junkies' Wives Club as part of my 12th step work. I am a writer by profession and by vocation, so I will never stop writing, and I don't foresee a time when my writing won't be a part of my recovery. I think I'd been in Nar-Anon for about a week when I started my blog, and it's become a real critical part of my journey. Sharing my story is part of my 12th step work...

I've also found it kind of interesting to watch the blog change as my focus has left my husband. At first, all I wrote about was him. I think I write a lot more about me now, and I expect the focus to continue to get clearer and clearer around my recovery and my issues.

Thanks again to the Junky's Wife, my prayers are with you and your husband. Everyone stay strong and help someone else out today.


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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Let Go, Let it that easy?

"God is not moved by my tears, or by my fear. He is only moved by my faith."

That is what my younger brother, Justin, told me two nights ago. It was one of those weird statements that I heard and acknowledged, but it did not sit right. It hung in the back of my throat like a swallow of bad milk.

You mean that if I cry that God does not really care? When I am scared God moves on to listen to someone else?

It was not that I did not understand what Justin was saying. The problem was that, for the first time, I actually understood that statement.

In A.A. we use the term, "Let Go and Let God" quite a bit. What does that mean? It means have faith. I have to believe that God is on my side. I have to believe that if He is on my side then nobody and no "thing" can stand against me. I cannot claim to have faith and then be worried about what is going to happen to my home in this economy. I cannot say that I have faith then stress about what will happen to my job if GM goes bankrupt. I have to let it all go and let God do what he has promised. He is concerned for me and wants what is best for me, but what is best for me is to have complete faith that He will provide for me.

Justin made another comment that made perfect sense to me...for the first time ever. He said that, "fear is faith, just in the wrong thing." Faith is the belief in something not seen. Fear is a belief in something that most likely has not happened yet. So, when I fear for the future of my home, I am believing in something that I cannot see. I have faith in it.

I have come a long way in not worrying about my life, I have not perfected it, but I am making progress in the right direction. I have to let God do His part and I have to do mine. Mine is not to worry about anything, but in all things to give Him praise.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.


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Saturday, November 1, 2008

He is mine, you can't have Him...

Has the Church missed the mark? I think that the Church is an amazing thing and helps so many people find redemption, but I'm not sure it is exactly what God had in mind. I know too many Christians that are in an incredible amount of pain.

I am not even remotely implying that being a Christian makes you somehow immune to this life, but why isn't there more of a difference between Christians and Non-Christians? I recently had an interesting conversation with a friend. He said that a group has been studying things like divorce, bankruptcy, suicide, etc., for past couple of decades and that statistically there was no difference in the percentages if you were a Christian than if you weren't.

I was wondering how that could be. I haven't done any big study on this, but I was reading someone's story in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. She was one of the first women ever in A.A. She loved the program of
Alcoholics Anonymous, but couldn't get past the 'Higher Power' thing. One day she became very angry with some people and decided to show them by getting drunk again. This was when she had her spiritual awakening. In that moment she says that it made perfect sense to her. It wasn't about Religion. It was about freedom. Freedom to live.

Isn't that why Jesus came? Not so that I could be Evangelical Free and you could be Catholic, Methodist, Assembly of God, or Pentecostal. He came so that we could be free. I believe that the goal is to get back to that perfect relationship with God that existed in the Garden. I don't recall a lot of rules for Adam and Eve. Actually, there was just one. As soon as they broke that one rule God had a plan to get us back there; back to perfect communion with Him.

I'm always amazed at how an Alcoholic that has had no relationship with God, ever, gets it so much quicker than a "Christian" does. Maybe it is the desperation involved. However, I think that it revolves around maybe the greatest phrase in
Alcoholics Anonymous, "The God of your understanding." I have a friend that said to me, "This is my God, you can't have Him. Find your own." He actually said it like a child with his favorite toy in hand. It really offended me, but later I understood what he was saying. Why would I want to worship the God of my friend's understanding? I have had a different life. I have been through different things. And, don't forget that God wants a unique, personal relationship with me. I guess that is why we are all so different, isn't it?

My Dad is a pastor and he gets a little fidgety when we start talking about "Higher Power" and "God of your understanding". The thing to remember is that I grew up knowing my Dad's God, not mine. I grew up understanding someone else's God and I ended up a drunk because that God couldn't possibly love me. He could forgive me, but only because he had too, not because he loved me.

James 4:8 tells us to draw close to God and He will draw close to us. It is personal. It is unique.
The Big Book of A.A. says that if you draw near to God that he will reveal Himself to you. Now, who would you rather hear it from; God or me?

I since have found the God of my understanding. He is the God of the Bible that sent his son to die for me, but He is mine. You can't have Him. Go find Him for yourself.

Stay strong,


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Monday, September 8, 2008

I am not really working the program

So, I am writing a friend back today about some recovery related issues and something hits me: I am not really working the program.

What! I am on the leadership team of a Mega Church's recovery ministry! How can I not be working a program.

So, I sit down and read through the steps:
  • Step 1 - We admitted we were powerless over our addiction - that our lives had become unmanageable
  • Step 2 - Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity
  • Step 3 - Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God
  • Step 4 - Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves
  • Step 5 - Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
  • Step 6 - Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
  • Step 7 - Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings
  • Step 8 - Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all
  • Step 9 - Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
  • Step 10 - Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it
  • Step 11 - Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out
  • Step 12 - Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs
After reading through the steps, guess what I found? I am working my own program. Guess what? It is not working very well.

I adhere to the 'Buffet' style of A.A., "Oh, I will take some of Step 1, a little bit of Step 4, but I am going to pass on Step 5 (I will get some of that on my next trip up). Oh look! They just brought out Step 8! Shoot, it is not prepared the way that I like it. I will just scoop out a smidgen of Step 11 and pass on Step 12 altogether."

I know that it sounds like I am being comical about this, but my heart is very heavy right now. I feel sad.

I emailed my sponsor tonight and told him that it was time to get back to the basics. Start working a program for real and not on my terms, but the way that it was intended to be worked; One day at a time, one step at a time.


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