319 from Tifton towards Moultrie. 133 west to Doerun, about ten miles. There should be signs posted to help you find us. Should be left on 270 for about six blocks in Doerun to Broad Street.
12:00 Saturday: Bo, Charles, Bobbie and John started off making posters, setting up computer and zip drive.
Bobbie opened with Serenity Prayer. She has nine months clean today!
Bo - I'm here to continue editing process on material to prepare the 2000 form of the
NA Way of Life book.
John - here it work on book and see NA in another community.
Bobbie - I'm here to help. Never been to out of town conference besides Chattanooga or Chatsworth, near Dalton.
Have books for sale.
Decided to work on chapter 19 - Youth in Recovery.
Read, marked and factored in changes. Moved copy to minutes.
Read Trust chapter, checked Dalton minutes for chapter numbers.
Charles wrote some original material on mid-life crisis. We keyed into file and charles
read to group
Broke for meeting, dinner
10:15 back. Worked on Trust and Mid-Life Crisis till
10:00 to 1:00 Trust marked and discussed.
Mid-Life Crisis read, marked and changed.
Both set in minutes
Bobbie Coan 494 Burgess Road Dalton, Georgia 30721
John Gregory 160 1st Avenue Ext. Chatsworth, Georgia 30705
Charles Mercer P.O. Box 24 Moultrie, Georgia 31776
Bo Sewell 340 Woodstone Drive, Marietta, Georgia 3008
Mid Life Crisis
Mid Life Crisis
Doerun Literature Conference
March 25, 2000
During mid-life crisis, almost all women feel confused and rational thinking becomes an impossibility. Instead of seeking counseling and medical attention, they listen to their own feelings. They also seek out friends for advice. If these friends have never experienced the same feelings or frustrations, they cannot share successful experience. Men tend to feel unloved or insecure in their present relationships and seek out some type of self-edification or fulfilling relationship outside of marriage or relationship. They may seek out other sex partners for fullfillment. Women during mid-life crisis, not knowing what they want, may make decisions from their hearts and feelings - which in most cases are incorrect. Instead of using facts and logic, they rely on emotions that most often prove to be false. This disease uses any foothold or point of confusion to destroy or devastate something that should be beautiful and special.
As addicts in active addiction, we didn't want to hear that we had a problem. By the time we were ready to admit to a problem and to decide to get help, the damage was done and frequently irreversible.
During this period of time, communication is crucial. We may not want to hear what is
being said or may not be able to understand what is happening. But to communicate will
give these individuals a way to vent and express their feelings even though they are
confused. Many times we tend to listen to friends that have not gone through what we are
going through. We base our decisions at that point on their advice. Example: a man telling
a woman what it is like to have a baby.A mid life crisis
in most cases will cause damage that may not be corrected even with professional help. As addicts, we tend to deal with these issues ourselves. It is like self-medicating our pain. At this point, an addict making decisions without additional input is dangerous and requires extended thought and much time with their sponsor. It is important to explore all options and to seek all resources to either resolve the dilemma or repair the relationship.
Feelings in recovery are sometimes as deceptive as they are in active addiction. Making a major decision when confused or upset is usually done based on feelings the same way we operated in while using. NO decision is the best decision mad at this point in time .So many times during this phase we say what we feel and even though the feelings are of confusion and insanity, we still adhere to our decision knowing that the consequences and outcomes will be negative. This is like walking off the edge of a cliff, knowing what will happen, yet still doing it. Because we have made that insane decision and insist on following through with the insanity.
During this crisis in one's life, confusion runs rampant. Even simple rational decisions are sometimes clouded. We know that we are confused and staying in this mindset is the first step to either using or suicide .We are not capable at this stage of making rational decisions. Due to hormones or mid-life crisis, we expect rejection, not support, from either a spouse or lover and in some cases close friends. Even though this is not true in most cases, we tend to believe our own deception and follow through with this insane thinking.
Many times our responses to these situations come from learned behavior. An example would be in most cases our family setting as we grew up. If our parents were divorced or separated during our early or teenage years , we would probably try to resolve the situation the way our role models addressed the situation. In most cases it would either be by divorce or separation and even unfaithfulness in the relationship or marriage. Kids pick up and learn many characteristics that parents operate in during their growing years. We may not realize the coping skills that we operate under are usually the skills we learned from our parents.That is why it is important to communicate these feelings or frustrations to our spouses or significant others. Our parents were taught to either grin and bear it or just give up and leave. As addicts we trend to say screw everything and run , which is an addicts mentality and a poor way of handling a major problem. Many times we look for a short time fix to a permanent problem. Again this is the addictive behavior at its strongest most destructive stage. In recovery we are taught to be willing to change everything and it is of utmost importance to get other perspectives during a time when one major decision could totally ruin our life. We need to use all tools at our disposal to either clear the situation up or come up with some alternative plan of action to help us make it through this troubled time in our life and recovery.
Many years after this fellowship was formed issues of this magnitude was either not
we were labeled outside issues. Sharing about certain problems was considered not working our program. When in most cases we were working our asses off to stay clean. But life does not always deal each addict with a straight and smooth road of recovery. That is the importance of looking at all aspects of our addiction. Whether we act in a state of denial to the problem or try to use the learned behavior which is the incorrect way to address this problem ,we still lose to this disease of addiction.
During this period of time, trust becomes a issue of major magnitude.Trust is essential in repairing and healing the devastation done during this stage or phase of mistrust. Mistrust during this time is a seed that will be planted and if not dealt with , will grow and reap a crop of pain and misery. In some cases it may become virtually impossible to trust the other party. Lying and deception during this phase is common and when a spouse finds out about this deception , trust is no longer a bond to keep the relationship together. Especially when a spouse has concrete evidence of deception and constantly seems to catch the spouse in lies. As addicts , we all know that lying was a integral part of our using and usually our only problem was we could not remember the exact way we told the first lie, so therefore we usually told on ourselves. The deceptive spouse operating in this active addiction mode feels comfortable that all tracks have been covered ,yet the other spouse is only becoming more hostile because of the deception and the lies that are being fed to them. This disease will blind us to the point that we actually believe our own lies. Again this is the disease of addiction at its strongest point.
Children during this insanity are usually affected the most. Adults feel that children do not actually see what is going on and we realize at some point, the devastation that we have burdened our children with. Children pick up on the insanity. Major emotional scars are created that even professional counseling many not be able to resolve. Children as young as three years old are capable of reading between the lines and sensing the uncertain and insecure atmosphere that we create during this phase. How we respond as adults will effect these children for life. During this insanity, we have become selfish people who are only concerned about our own needs and desires and care about no one else's well being. Again this is another attribute of our addictive thinking. Children during this phase will act out in many ways. Disobedience, attention getting acts , times of crying and in some cases blaming themselves for the problems the family is going through. Even though it is our own insanity causing this turmoil , we will not admit to our problems and seek professional help. We are selfish , inconsiderate , cold people and think of no one but ourselves. We create our world by the way we respond to today's problems. Children are our future and the way we respond to today's problems will mold these leaders of our future.
Many times in meetings we are told that our drug of choice is only one symptom of our disease. Therefore we must look at all aspects of our life and seek out these addictive characteristics and ways that will destroy us and our families. Many times times these problems begin with not having balance in our lives. Balance is when we maintain a well rounded program of recovery and a well rounded program of being a family.
Self-centeredness and fear.
Women - Hormonal episodes
Men - being young again
50K to 100K members in NA today in 40's and 50's
Praying for spouse, resentments
The only requirement for membership in Narcotics Anonymous is a desire to stop using. This statement is clear in meaning nevertheless, it seems indefinite at times. We have to show our desire to other members in order to find the identification and acceptance that we need to begin our recovery as NA members. Growing up in recovery has taught us that becoming an acceptable, responsible, productive member of society means much more than just not picking up. Self-centeredness had ruled our lives during active addiction. When we became humble, honest, and realistic, we soon found that we could recover too. Regardless of age, working the Steps is the key to recovery. When we were using, we only learned what we needed to survive. We learn the things that we need to know for success when we are in recovery. Unfortunately, some of us don't easily identify with the other members of a group, area, or region. These members have to make an extra effort to make their desire for recovery clear and express to some extent their First Step. We have all felt that we were letting our desire show. It was almost like the cartoon drowning scenario as we count one, two, three . . . It escaped us for a time that simply telling members one on one or in a recovery meeting would work. We share what our addiction was like and why we want to learn to live clean. This may be the best way for any member to gain the recognition, acceptance, and support of a NA group. Someone who never shares their pain may be accepted on a personal level yet not be identified and supported as an addict seeking recovery.
Young people sometimes have this problem when their age is well under the average for their area or group. This fact alone makes it harder to identify with older members. It's not that our older members want to exclude someone or deny membership because of age. You didn't do anything wrong. Sometimes, the older members feel embarrassed to admit their need for help when younger people are present. Unfortunately, this embarrassment is often misinterpreted as rejection by a young addict seeking recovery. It is your responsibility to find ways to identify into the solution recovery has to offer. Our disease always trys to find differences so that recovery doesn't apply to us. The reality is that in carrying our message to young people, we encounter the same situations we find in any effort to let people know they don't have to use. The recovery experience rewards the extra effort that we make to try to hear someone's plea for help or to make them feel welcome. Their feelings are the same - their situations are different. They have to do what their parents say.
This is just one of the situations in which we have to wait for clearer thinking to happen before we can state the problem. We need to state it in a way that acknowledges the difficulty as well as providing a way to deal with it successfully. Even with as much as we share in our meetings, it takes a long time for it to all to come out. We adapt to our changing habits of going to meetings, calling other members, and generally adopting the NA way of life. Doing anything that is out of our way may take a little extra effort on our part. If we find ourselves feeling awkward or uncertain, we step back and honestly evaluate what is happening. We must remain vigilant in order to not quickly discount how someone else is feeling. If we find ourselves jumping to conclusions about why they are doing something, we may want to postpone acting on our assumptions. We learn to wait until we have had a chance to reconsider our feelings and evaluations before acting.
Young people in recovery are not exempt from the problems that addicts have in facing fear and loneliness. Sometimes, it seems as though, they have it rougher because many adults forget how awake and intelligent young people are. Embarrassment at discussing problems openly in the presence of youthful members can be a problem. Most of us became acquainted with pain at an early age and soon believed that nobody understood us. If young people are in our meetings for recovery, it might be interesting to take the time to hear them out. We can satisfy ourselves as to the validity of their claim to membership. Helping others who are presently experiencing our particular hell is sometimes the only way that we can find relief. Our own pain subsides at the point of identification that happens when we seek to ease the pain of another. Self-pity along with a fear of acceptance or rejection can unnecessarily add to the confusion of younger addicts. Any excuse that an addict uses to get out of identifying with clean addicts eventually translates into using. It's the nature of our disease to act against our own happiness.
Sharing their pain, one fifteen year old member tells us, "I've been to many family gatherings and been alone there. I didn't know these people at all. I wanted to know them, develop close relationships with them, to feel feelings for them and them for me. The force of fear drove the pain and loneliness inside me to an overwhelming point. I had to leave these people so that I could run and hide. I didn't want anyone to see me. I didn't want to take the hand of their love, knowledge, or friendship yet - I did. I truly wanted everything that they had - the love, attention, and companionship. I longed to be a part of . . .
"They tried to love me, get to know me, to befriend me but I was too scared because I dwelled in my pain. I obsessed on my fear of failure and my character defects. I told myself that they hated me because I was always a failure. Because I couldn't even conceive of success, I wouldn't allow myself to feel good. I was always hiding and running. I was living in the negativity and slowly committing suicide with drugs and alcohol at a young age.
"In school, I was the class clown. I was the center of a lot of negative attention. I hated myself and I wanted so badly to be like anyone else rather than myself. I pushed family, friends, and teachers away. I shoved everyone away yet at the same time feebly grasping to keep them close to me. I hated myself so much that I wouldn't let myself feel or cry. It was impossible to let people know that I cared or to let myself care. I didn't believe that I could succeed in school, art, or life. I was never satisfied with anything or grateful for anything because I was always comparing myself to everyone else.
"I had so many chances to make friends or to have a girlfriend but I let the fear control me. I hate it! I'm so sick of being alone, so desolate. Why can't I be comfortable? Why am I so afraid? Today I realize that I don't need to be alone anymore. I could be in a crowd with a million people and still feel alone in my head. Lonely, heart-sick, self-obsessed, and dizzy with self-pity I cry, Help me! Come to me because I'm too afraid to come to you. I still struggle because I would rather feel sorry for myself than to allow myself to feel my furious pain."
We are not here to sell you anything. We are not here to make you do anything. We are not here to punish you. We are here to welcome you. If you look closely, you will find some of us are even younger than you!
Without trust we are truely alone. Learning to trust is an ability that doesn't develop overnight. Many of us didn't trust others simply because we didn't trust ourselves.We need to learn to trust from relationships with self, our Higher Power, our sponsor, as well as other people. As our faith in a power greater than ourselves increases so does our ability to trust. We work the Steps with our sponsor and we have gained trust and faith in them as human beings willing to help us and not judge us. Having established a relationship with a Higher Power and a sponsor frees us to begin having a relationship with ourselves. When we trust our feelings and action, we then learn to trust others but choosing trustworthy individuals may still be a problem for some time. Yet we have to pick someone that we have good reason to trust.
There are several levels of trust. We earn trust, gain trust, expect trust and sometimes lose trust. For us addicts, feeling worthy of trust comes from living spiritual principles. All of the spiritual principles of NA are equally important. Today, people respond to us in a more positive manner. We check our personal motives in our conscience in order to determine whether we are living 'recovery or addiction'. When we work with a sponsor and others close to us in the Fellowship of NA, we receive guidance and instruction. We share and grow in the process.
Relapse can reinforce an idea that we have suffered a betrayal of our trust and love. Our addiction prostituted our wills, desires, and values. We wonder what happens to our secrets when another member gets loaded. Our ultimate faith and trust must be with a power greater than WE are. We trust that a loving God will work things out. Trust has to do with the commitment of being true to one another. Our need for help is so intense because growth in recovery moves us into areas of life where we lack personal experience and self-confidence. Often we try to live by what we saw on TV or heard from another person instead of talking with our sponsors or other members. This means that we have to stay close to someone, either a sponsor or friend, who can help us when we have trouble or make mistakes. The important thing is that we keep trying and asking for help until we begin to succeed. We will succeed if we keep trying, in almost every case. This means that even when we think we have failed, we should keep trying. This is where spiritual courage is necessary.
Personality change requires that we trust the principles of NA enough to get results. We need clean addicts, home group members, and a good sponsor to receive the full benefits of the program. Our dreams of recovery at times seem a long way off. Dream realization can start with fantasy and the support from trusted friends who know how hard we're trying to do better is invaluable. The difference between realization and fantasy is the follow-through. If at first we don't succeed we try, try, and try again. We check with our sponsor and friends to find out where we're getting off-track. It may be that we just need to give it a little more time. Trust is the key to doing many of these things. Letting our guard down may seem foolish unless our belief system includes the idea that a loving, all-powerful God is looking out for our well-being. When we replace our defect of lying with a dependence on the Spirit, we expect some changes.
We tend to barter our minimal good behavior with our 'enablers' to get their approval and support by threatening misbehavior. Some call this 'strategic disability', pretending to need help. We tend to lose what we abuse. There will always be people for us to manipulate but as we grow in conscience, we notice how this makes us feel badly. If we are not careful, this game takes over our life. The time it takes to play the game causes us to feel guilty. This makes it hard for us to find someone who comes across as real. Many, if not all, of us play variations of this game during active addiction. Principles that will work better must eventually replace this game. Like learning many spiritual principles, this can seem a little far-fetched in the beginning. Looking back, most of us can see how much support came to us from sources that were generally supportive. In addition to the miracles, we can now go forward in life without harming others. We learned not to trust in active addiction so we have to learn to trust again. How can we get to tomorrow if we are stuck in yesterday?
For many of us, learning to trust started by sharing with a few select members and then only small bits at a time. One of the most important of these few select members was a sponsor. The more we share and let our guards down, the more we found that other clean addicts understood and could relate to us. The more we are willing to share, the more we feel a part of NA. Another aspect of trust is to trust the NA way of life as well as our Higher Power's will for us. Things may not always go the way we want because God can say no or show us another way. Life seems to go better when we can trust God's will for us and we just show up for the ride.
Being able to share our feelings without having to keep our guards up requires trust. Having someone tell us, "Yeah, that happened to me also," or "I love you and it's going to be OK", is quite a change for us. One of the great advantages in our newfound freedom is the ability to experience intimacy with others. We were people who have used anything entrusted to us in our attempts to hurt or manipulate others but we can grow into someone who is trustworthy. Opening ourselves to betrayal can feel like 'risky business' but it's certainly better than never trusting again. Trust is an accurate indicator of our renewed health and recovery. We have to trust ourselves before we can trust someone else. We may want to take a simple look now and then to make sure the response we are getting matches up with the signal that we put out. Our signal may not match the response and we owe it to ourselves to find out why.
We have picked-up habits, traits, or mannerisms that are offensive to other people and they protected our isolation in active addiction. Facial expressions need to match what we are saying. At that point in recovery when we want more people in our lives, we may want to change some of these ways of doing things. Feeling forced to play the role of 'victim or victimizer' is an example of this. Talking happy with a sad expression on our face tells a story to someone listening carefully. As we lose our fear, we become trustworthy and we grow in our ability to trust others. We can find many more choices today. We are freer. Going to extremes eats up a lot of our energy and gives us very little comfort or clarity. When we stop depending on crises to keep others from getting too close to us, it dawns on us that we are more trusting.
Our common welfare depends on our capacity and willingness to love and support one another. We are never alone. We get scared and do stupid things yet we learn to make amends and look for ways to get over our pain and distrust. Trust is a tool for living. Without this tool, we won't be able to interact with other people in healthy ways. The all-or-nothing approach to living hinders personal progress for many addicts. We don't have to trust people who are not trustworthy. We don't have to place our recovery in jeopardy in order to demonstrate trust. Still, we all need a few people that we know are on our side and will not betray us, no matter what. Scarred is a word that looks like scared. Our scars are pictures drawn in our flesh and on our souls by the pain that we have survived. The scars on our emotional being are also visible in our actions and reactions to others. It is a sad fact that the pain of an unusually hellish moment will stay with us until we 'face it'. It causes us to use 'pain-avoidance' to prevent a situation that would, at best, be difficult to duplicate even if we tried. Realistically, we can process what happened and what we need to stay away from to avoid this type of repetition. We get on with our lives, rather than feeling permanently crippled by our pain.
Trust is required if we're to participate in the processes of healthy living. We have re-discovered long dead dreams in the 'springtime' of recovery that only recoverying addicts know about. Addiction is dream death. We trust those with whom we share. We need humane support in order to let our issues surface. We can then haul them into full view. The aspects of our mental and spiritual existence that was drowning in our active addiction can again flourish in the light of recovery. Personal service goes far beyond helping us learn how to stay clean. It revives the things we wanted to do when we grew up but didn't get a chance because our addiction intervened and sucked-up all of our energy. Sometimes we learn a lot about trust by taking a service position in our home group. Doing simple things like emptying ashtrays, making coffee, and setting-up for a meeting are good places to start. When we show up and keep faith, we are being trustworthy.
Recovery is actually a 'coming out' of a spiritual nature. When we discover something spiritually important to us, we have to share it or express it in some way with someone who will affirm the reality of our experience. Otherwise, we stay where we're at and find it impossible to do more than stir the kettle of character traits without having the ability to throw-out spoilage and add some new stuff. Personal service is the acknowledgment of our spirituality starting with our first surrender and going forward with us into this new life. Others give us their personal service until we learn how to do it for others. We acknowledge the real person in another human being. We recognize a little of ourselves in them and a little of them in us. We know that this inner person could not control what happened when they were loaded - they were powerless. We have to be able to separate what we did while using from who we are in order to regain hope and trust for ourselves. The major trouble generally goes away almost as soon as we stop using but the refinement of recovery takes a lifetime.
From this point, recovery becomes straightforward and sensible. Why we use and how we lose the obsession may seem to be mysterious but recovery shows and speaks for itself. Our inner being surfaces more frequently and once free it begins to dominate our thinking and behavior. Our fellow recovering addicts accept in us what they have learned to accept in themselves. We know that we are different people clean and that the laws which we were up against while we were loaded are no longer a problem. It is humorous to watch someone who was a burglar in active addiction complain about someone stealing their toothpaste. Life on the surface can be much different than it seems. As our ability to come out and share our real self with others increases, we expand the circle of friends with whom we can exchange trust safely. We see exactly how we replenish or deplete our own resources. Helping others helps us. We find that we help others with exactly the things that caused us problems in the past. Trust is what we need to support us in our effort to obtain a personality change. We need others who have no ulterior motives to provide the references that we need so that we can tell fact from fantasy - the real from the unreal. Learning to trust others is simply part of the process of learning to trust ourselves.
Reality stinks sometimes. Many times getting clean leaves us feeling mortally wounded and it takes time for these wounds to heal. In the meantime, we must trust something so why not the Program of Narcotics Anonymous. Since it worked for so many addicts that came before us, we know that it can work for us. In the beginning, we heard that we have to share to stay clean and we trust this even if we share out of a sense of desperation. We fear that we may return to our old way of life. Nonetheless, we begin to trust the things that we were told when we were newcomers enough to try them. Our trust increases after we stay clean for a while. This is partially due to placing a degree of blind trust in a Higher Power long before we became convinced that the Program would work for us.
[To help in our work, we include the section relating to the re-ordering and numbering of the chapters from thirty-one chapters down to twenty-five chapters. - Ed]
After long and detailed discussion, the following chapter changes were decided upon:
Section One: Orientation
1 28 NA Society
2 2 Disease Concept
3 Power Greater than Ourselves
4 3,23,24 Spiritually Clean
5 4 Personality Change
6 6 Recovery Process
7 5 Trust
8 1 Learning to Live
9 15 Personal Responsibility
Section Two: Issues
10 14 Emotional Pain
11 8 Loneliness and Reaching Out
12 9 Getting over Abuse and Neglect
13 11 Jails, Institutions and Death
14 29 When It gets Tough
15 12 Life-Threatening Illness
Section Three: Applications
16 7 Relationships
17 10 Sex
18 17 Gender and the Message
19 18 Youth in Recovery
20 19 Parenting
21 16 Employment
22 13 Compulsive Spending
Section Four: Evidence
23 22 Miracles
24 27 History and Origins
Reprinted from the
N.A. FELLOWSHIP USE ONLY
Copyright © December 1998
Victor Hugo Sewell, Jr.
NA Foundation Group
6685 Bobby John Road Atlanta, GA 30349 USA
All rights reserved. This draft may be copied by members of Narcotics Anonymous for the purpose of writing input for future drafts, enhancing the recovery of NA members and for the general welfare of the Narcotics Anonymous Fellowship as a whole. The use of an individual name is simply a registration requirement of the Library of Congress and not a departure from the spirit or letter of the Pledge, Preface or Introduction of this book. Any reproduction by individuals or organizations outside the Fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous is prohibited. Any reproduction of this document for personal or corporate monetary gain is prohibited.