WELCOME TO SELF-HELP AND RECOVERY FOR BEGINNERS!

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For both men and women, knowing where to begin a better life can be overwhelming. I’m only the doorman to the gateway of infinite pathways. Start simple here.

“…it’s easier to undertake a journey when the entrance is clearly marked.”

When I first set out to seek out new avenues and new sources for self-improvement, I made a trip to my local book store expecting to find exactly what I was looking for. I didn’t. I stood there facing several hundred choices wondering where to start. Surely someone had written a beginner’s guide, a square one launching point that didn’t overwhelm me. My goal was to find something not only easy to read, but informative and entertaining. I sought plain and straight forward instruction on how to move ahead in my life. I wanted a resource that would offer the basics and inspire me to continue researching whatever subject might stimulate my interest.  After thumbing through several dozen publications, I found out rather quickly my thirst for knowledge was being offered to me through a fire hose. There was no doubt every answer conceivable lay buried in the pages of the volumes I was wavering in front of, but the process of sifting through endless manuals to look for what appealed to me was not one I was eager to attempt. For the most part, each title addressed a specific topic, and that was fine, but my tastes were much more generalized. What I longed for, even though I didn’t know it at the time, were the right questions. Eventually, through trial and error, I became interested in specific authors, various subjects, and diverse teachings. Even though the road I chose was slow and treacherous, I never stopped progressing. There is, however, little doubt in my mind, I’d be a lot further along than I am now if it had been somewhat less intimidating. It is my opinion that the absence of an easy first step keeps many a wandered traveler from finding their way home.

There was a time when I was truly certifiable. I had nothing in my world that someone would have wanted in theirs. In 1995 I was drinking two-fifths of vodka a day. Since July 28th of that same year, I have been in recovery. As the years progressed, I worked on various elements of my character that needed nurturing. My health improved as did the rest of my personal life. Abundance flowed in, while misfortune waned. In the summer of 2007, came one of my biggest wake-up calls. I had hit the high mark of my weight–347 pounds. After committing to a weight loss program early in 2009, I lost over 105 pounds in six months without loss of energy or strength. I now tip the scales at an average of 220. I’ve had heat stroke, carbon monoxide poisoning, viral pneumonia, staph infections, and car accidents. There are those who may use similar events to convince others how unlucky they are; I use them to prove how fortunate I am. I’ve survived these and other temporary setbacks with flying colors. If attitude is everything, then I’m the direct result of the resolute belief that life gets better every day.

My attempt with this blog is not to provide a goal, but rather an introduction. I’m not a scholar, nor am I a counselor. As a matter of fact, I’m a plumber–a blue-collar worker who has no problems getting his hands dirty and breaking a sweat for a living. Hopefully, my background will offer an approachable and relaxed alternative for those just starting out. I know it’s easier to undertake a journey when the entrance is clearly marked. I’ll never tell anyone where to go, but I’ll be glad to talk about where I’ve been and if you want to visit these places, I’ll simply point the way.

With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

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82. GRATITUDE MEANS…….

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I’ve almost died on several occasions, if you read the introduction to this blog I mention some of them. The latest event was earlier this year from a double dose of pneumonia and blood clots in my lungs following back surgery. While the operation alleviated the constant overwhelming pain on the left side of my body, the episode left me unable to walk without a cane; and even then only a little ways. Twelve days in the hospital all total left me weak and atrophied. I was off work almost five months, the longest period since I was sixteen. The doctors did not want me to lift more than ten pounds and I couldn’t even drive or attend a physical rehab program until I was healed to the point of allowing some stress on my spine.

In the middle of this I asked and paid my friends brother to drive me to the store to get roses for my wife on Valentine’s Day. I’d never missed one yet, and this wasn’t going to be the first. My job was kind to me so that was really never an issue, but I did constantly wonder what my future held. I finally went to work on May 1 of this year, and even though I was thrilled to get back to a life of labor, it was a difficult week.

You might be hard pressed to believe this, but I’m grateful for the entire experience, and here’s why.

The beauty in the fabric of my life comes from all those events that have had a pleasant outcome; but the strength of it lies in those circumstances that have challenged me to be a better person. I’m therefore MORE thankful for the pain I’ve moved past than the pleasures I’ve experienced. I do not seek suffering as a means to improve myself, but there’s a wonderful comfort in knowing it’s capable of eventually providing increased gratitude.

I do not measure success by material means; I measure it against my former self to see if I have become a better person; stronger, kinder, more patient, more determined, more enthusiastic, less judgemental, etc. If life is a journey, (one chosen on purpose by myself to be somewhat challenging) then sometimes the road inevitably leads to parts unexpected and unknown. This is consistently rewarding, however I must admit the moment can seem occasionally gloomy. No matter the situation, gratitude is generated in my life by constant forward movement, although all too often progress is made by taking two steps back and then three ahead. If the mountain range I’m currently climbing leaves my spirit beaten and bloody, so be it. The healing process will strengthen me for newer and even more demanding events.

Evidence of this approach to living is apparent in the lives of the poor and oppressed as opposed to those in positions of wealth and power. Gratitude comes easy and with sincerity when those who have so little gain even the most basic of needs and comforts. In my opinion this attitude can be diminished when abundance becomes unlimited, especially if one is born to it. A connection to the needs of others often disappears too, so instead of projecting a nurturing and empathetic attitude, one of judgement comes into play instead. This is not always the case of course. My hat comes off to the select few who can connect to each end of the human spectrum. They are the ones capable of moving the planet to a better place by both the leverage they wield and a pursued connection to those in need. By their actions they can lift, inspire, and give strength those who struggle, while showing others like themselves how to influence and help even more.

For me, as this type of symbiotic relationship is internalized, I find I’m able to manifest personal salvation. The “parts” of me that are overflowing with proficiency are capable of assisting those parts of me that are lacking in proper function. Here is an example of how I do this. My right knee has bothered me recently causing a painful limp and disturbing my sleep. I’m well aware that the body has amazing recuperative powers, so tapping into these forces is a simple matter of asking it to do so. I will literally strike up a silent conversation and say “Hey, brain…… you’ve got a job to do. Work on my knee and fix it.” I did this several times a day and it’s better now. This not the only time I’ve done it and I continue the practice because, quite frankly, it’s never failed me. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Well, don’t knock it until you try it. When I take what I’m grateful for (my attitude and outlook on life) and focus it on where I need it most it does two things. My life improves and my gratitude increases as a result. It becomes a self feeding, doubly rewarding experience.

The struggles that come my way often become the platform for an even better tomorrow; and I know this even when I’m in the middle of the worst of times. When I wrote this entry- http://danielandrewlockwood.com/2015/01/26/76-so-close-to-giving-up/ I really was out of my mind with pain, and if you read it you’ll still see this philosophy being embraced and seeded. Honestly, gratitude is the best doctor I know. So far it has healed everything in my life.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

81. WORDS OF POWER – WHY NOT?

Leap of Faith

“Leap of Faith” is one of my favorite movies. For those who haven’t seen it (and that’s quite a few) here’s a vague synopsis. Steve Martin plays a con man whose pretense is a faith healer. He’s not an evil person, but he does take advantage of those who are believers. Through the course of the story, as one thing leads to another in an unplanned series of events, he finds the real meaning of conviction. No comedy here, Steve plays it completely straight which is, I’m sure, a big reason the movie was unsuccessful. That’s too bad. If you have the chance, check it out. If you’ve seen it, feel free to leave your opinion in a reply to this blog entry.

Faith, for me,  comes down to two words……

Why not?

So far I’ve never taken a chance I’ve come to regret. I will say there have been times long past where I have failed to take a chance and those have become moments of regret. If the thought process of moving through life is preceded by constantly asking “what if?” (for me the “opposite” philosophy of “why not”) then the fear of what might happen will keep me from doing hardly anything. It therefore becomes logical to avoid this situation. I’ve said it before, “regrets are grudges we hold against ourselves.” When we embrace this emotion, we also accept the actions that must define what a grudge is. When we hold malice towards another for a perceived act of persecution, we want justice, usually in the form of painful punishment. When we do the same to ourselves, we subconsciously invite self-destructive behavior.

In A.A., and of course all twelve step programs, there’s the saying “Let go, Let God.” It’s one of the most commonly quoted beliefs within the program. In my opinion this is the very essence of a leap of faith. Some interpret it as giving up. Letting go and letting God is far from it. The prerequisite to giving up requires us to shut out any chance of hope or rescue; essentially we lower the sail and drop anchor in the middle of the ocean. In a very real sense it’s a form of suicide. On the other hand the action of letting go will attract those forces willing to guide and teach us. It’s the equivalent of tossing the map, letting go of the rudder, and inviting someone else aboard to lead the way. In other words, “Why not let go of your own life and let a higher power take over?” The semantics are subtle, but the result of absorbing the proper definitions are essential to a healthy future.

Trust does not come easily to those used to living life from a defensive point of view. For me the “enemy” used to be anyone who didn’t agree with me. Now my allies are those who are willing tell me the truth no matter what. Often this attacks my ego, and yes….I still feel it. All too frequently I have my defences up, I’m not past that yet, but at least I’m able to recognize my reactions as shallow and unproductive. When people say what I don’t want to hear I do my best to say to myself, “Why not?” Sometimes this takes a day or so, but eventually I get past my selfish attitude. Why not take what they say as something of value and caring?

Being open to new a experience into our lives is often interpreted by the brain as an attack on old ideas. This isn’t always the case of course. When we do resist, it’s a safe bet we’re acknowledging fault at some level, and I don’t know anyone who loves admitting they are a lier. I don’t. The most common lie I used to tell myself was, “Inviting the unknown tomorrow is far worse than a safe expectation of the future.” This antiquated belief has held me back on several occasions; never again. If you, the reader, and I have any common ground, I’ll wager it’s lies here. Don’t face tomorrow with an attitude of “what if?” Meet it head on with the philosophy of “why not?”

Why not try that diet and stick to it? Why not write that book? Why not try for a promotion? Why not ask out that beautiful person you dream about? Why not apply for the job you REALLY want while continuing to work the one you’re on? Why not start a fitness program? Why not further your education? Why not forgive those who have hurt you?  Why not pick a faith? Why not ask for a raise?

Now…….

Go back and re-read that last paragraph, but this time replace the words “why not” with the phrase “what if.” If you’re anything like me you’ll hear a flood of excuses entering into the picture. Can you see the potential damage one can allow when they live the wrong principle? It’s so sad, all what might have been, gone to waste. Please don’t sit and wonder about your life. When you improve your world you improve the entire world; and that includes the one I live in.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

80. ELIMINATING EVIL

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

79. FALSE WORDS

what dogs hear

Fairly quickly after my last drink I found myself moving towards a strange place. Old habits once anchored by my alcoholism began to lose their footing. So much of my life had balanced upon this single point. Perhaps the most prominent of these demons was the need to blame. Everything I had pushed away began to rush back in; emotions long-lost, dreams forgotten, and memories of pain and anguish I had tried so hard to bury. My life of apathy was about to vanish. Luckily I had a good program and sponsor who guided me along without allowing me to fall.

I found many of my belief systems were nothing more than elaborate excuses. On the back of many of the dozens of tokens available to anyone in a twelve-step program are the words from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “This above all: to thine own self be true.” In order to follow through on this declaration, one has to eliminate the triggers used to convince ourselves that we are indeed victims.

In my experience those triggers are nothing more than simple words. Refusing to use them has kept me from sliding back into old patterns. Following is a list of examples that, if either spoken or thought, will provoke a negative, self-destructive reaction in my life.

  • Seduction – The bottom line here is no one can make you do something you don’t want to do. As long as we choose to remain sober there are no situations where we have no choice and there are no situations with only one choice. If someone is holding a gun to my best friends head and says, “Take this drink or I’ll shoot” do I have a choice? Yes. Granted it’s a lousy one, but there are always alternatives. If someone slips you a drug and then proceeds to take advantage of you, did you or do you have a choice? My opinion on this extraordinarily rare (thank God) situation is this; you’re not doing anything to begin with, it’s ALL on the other person. This sounds like a dichotomy to my earlier statement, it’s not. When we are capable of making choices, then there are always choices; and this scenario is taking place 99.999999999% of the time. Can I be seduced? Absolutely not, and all the “what ifs” in the world won’t change my mind. No one can coerce me without my permission. If you believe others can control you, then you will have handed them your soul. Please don’t.
  • Luck – The reason I refuse to believe in luck, good or bad, is because as soon as I do, I open myself up to being a victim, and that’s something most claim but few can prove. I just had back surgery and after the operation I developed blood clots in my lungs and pneumonia. Was the entire episode bad luck? Nope. Were there things in my past I could have done to prevent such a situation? Of course! Perhaps there should have been less careless lifting of heavy objects? No doubt about that. I suppose I could have seen my Doctor more for regular check ups. Maybe I could have followed a better diet, done more exercise, and asked for help instead of letting my ego say “I can do this by myself.” Any current “story line” in my life has roots in the past that I made choices on. Just because I had no foresight to today doesn’t mean I’m at the whim of chance. This why we have the ability to plan and prepare. Owning our lives is quite empowering and this action will force the best out of every tomorrow. Things are still going to happen I do not wish for, but my hindsight will anchor those moments to where I made certain decisions.
  • Hate – My argument is “why?” Nothing productive comes from this stand. Hate, for those who think it’s the opposite of love, is actually unrefined anger; and the opposite of anger is joy. The opposite of love is fear; this is the foundation of anger. As soon as I move past any fear those branches attached such as turmoil, conflict, worry, anger, and suspicion also disappear. Keep in mind that saying you hate something is pretty much the same as saying you’re scared of it. I don’t hate anything. This doesn’t mean I accept everything either. It simply means I will not allow myself a reason to experience unnecessary fears. Remember, the more we fear, the more we defend, and the more we defend the more we cut ourselves off from higher truths. If we become unwilling to embrace new ideas and situations then we choose to stagnate. Here is where we wither and die; mentally at first, and eventually a probable premature physical death as well.
  • Impossible – Everything now in existence was once considered impossible. Everything. Never say “I can’t” because right behind you is the next person who will at least try. When stuck in a corner, try this little exercise. Ask “what would someone else do to make this work?” You’ll be surprised at how quickly an answer comes. It may not align with your priorities or principles, but there is ALWAYS a way to complete the task. It might involve getting into hot water or pissing off the boss, but the path out of tangled problems is rarely smooth. History is proof and there’s further evidence. Ask this second question and you’ll see what I mean, “A year from now, will this have been resolved?” Yes, every time. Either you’re going to be a part of the solution or someone else is. It’s up to you.
  • Blame – Dropped this like a hot rock. It’s a cancerous attitude and you already know these people. When blame is embraced we hand control of our lives over to EVERYONE. We also drop any need to be responsible. Do you want to be a puppet? Then by all means, please accuse everyone for your lousy lot in this world. If I didn’t have the biggest hand in my life it would belong to someone else and sorry, just not going to let that happen. There have been times in the past where I did just that, both by neglect and choice. The neglect almost destroyed me and the choice saved me. Now……here’s the REAL kicker; you’re also not allowed to blame yourself. Why? Because you are not the same person you were yesterday. No one is. The past does not equal the future. Just because something happened yesterday does not mean it will today. The best people I know are ones with whom I would never associate with if they were their former selves. When you refuse to blame you embrace hope, choice, and growth.

Well, I know that’s not a lot of words but they do seem to get used to death by the majority of people, so if nothing else, they are popular. I swear I really don’t use these words when referring to myself. I occasionally might say, “She thinks she’s a lucky person” or “He has a lot of hate” but that’s it. If you can help me think of more to add to the list, by all means please drop me a line.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

78. A NEW BLOG FOR A BETTER WORLD

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Good Morning, Afternoon, or Evening!

I have started a new blog to discuss what it might take to make the world a better place. Job creation and world peace are two of the topics. Three entries so far and more on the way. Please stop by and let me know what you think!

LET’S MOVE OUR WORLD

http://letsmoveourworld.com/

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

77. THE WRITING’S ON THE WALL

sayings

Anyone who has sat through even a single twelve step meeting has heard and seen more than one piece of what can sometimes come across as clichéd advice. Framed sayings are on the walls and even more are usually tossed out during any given group discussion. When hearing over-quoted and under-explained philosophies, I can understand why those who are in and out several times (which I imagine most are; I was) eventually start to roll their eyes at seeing such examples as “Let go, let God.”

My personal belief is to NEVER use one of these “sayings” around newcomers without explaining the structure of how they work. This is not only unfair to the listener; it’s irresponsible of the speaker. When a newcomer is told “One day at a time” are they really going extract any usable information from just the adage itself? I doubt it. We who are beyond the initial pain and fog of coming out of a life lived under the influence have an obligation to explain the logistics of the idea. I think anything less is arrogance.

One of the most common statements I hear in meetings is “Stick around and the miracle will happen.” Believe it or not it was over six months before I was finally aware just what the miracle was. Yes, I’d probably read the Big Book three times by then, but I’d never made the connection. I was flabbergasted when I finally did because by then it had already happened. In the fourth edition at the top of page 85 from the chapter “Into Action”  it’s made clear just what the “miracle” is. This is what it says. “We will see that our new attitude toward liquor has been given us without any thought or effort on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it.” Be honest, would you have been just a little more motivated at the beginning of your program if the answer were available rather than just the question? Knowing that the day will come where you may not even think of having a drink? Is that a miracle? It was, and still is, for me. Do I think that holding back this information from a newcomer could lower their chances at recovery? Yes, I most certainly do.

Another piece of advice I hear frequently is to strongly suggest those new to the program to not get involved in a relationship for at least a year from their sobriety date. This one I’ll just explain outright. If you are already in a relationship, so be it; but those who are single should not seek companionship for the recommended time, and for damn good reason. Here’s why. The program is designed to change behavior from self-destructiveness to benevolent-constructiveness. This takes time and discipline as I’m sure anyone reading this would agree. When we seek comfort or companionship in others we will, without knowing it, be attracted to those who support what we believe in. In other words we will subconsciously seek reinforcement of old patterns. This is where we think we will find comfort. This is where we think we will begin anew when in reality we are rekindling old habits. Addiction is sneaky and it WILL seek ways to reassert itself. In the arms of what we think may be love, may lay nightmares of continuing the past. I have seen it myself. Those who look at each other in meetings with hardly any time away from their demons may think the common ground of A.A. (or any 12 step group) will strengthen once they join together will be quick to find they are dead wrong. Good intentions are not enough to overcome what has become instinct. We must place ourselves in a place of discomfort for a decent period. This means immersion into an environment of constant challenge to our old way of living. Here we will face loving criticism from those we have chosen to guide us to a better place. I was lucky enough to know this ahead of time. Many are not.

Obviously this article could go on long enough to fill a book. My desire is to ask you to continue what has been suggested here. Please, I beg you from my heart; do not tell someone who is lost and afraid for every moment, shaking with tremors and fear, “One day at a time” without explaining how to do it. It’s like pointing to a vault and telling them there are answers beyond, but they must search for a way to open it themselves. We must attempt to define the actions, not simply by relating the outcome but by, at the very least, telling them where to find the key. Even I must admit there is some benefit in being slightly covert because this may stimulate curiosity and self-motivation, but when the labyrinth becomes too overwhelming it will serve to discourage instead.  When we know why something needs to be done, we are much more motivated to follow through on the actions required.

I have a passionate opinion about this subject. Please consider what I have shared here.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

   

76. SO CLOSE TO GIVING UP…….

agony-invert

I’ve been in a horrible place since December 10, 2014. I’ve done my best to keep up a positive attitude and honestly I know all will turn out wonderful in some weird, unexpected way. What I originally thought was a minor back injury (I thought it was a kidney stone) turned out to be something much more severe. As diagnosis came in and possibilities were eliminated it became clear I was being pushed to a place I’d never anticipated. Apparently between my fourth and fifth lumbar in my back there is a bulge in the disc that is cutting off the nerve endings to my left side. Wasn’t that bad at first. Along with not being able to lift anything (other than pizza…) it disturbed my sleep and kept me from normal chores. I had a lot of vacation built up anyway, so even though I was reluctant to use it, at least I had something to fall back on.

As Christmas came and went so did my rosy outlook for January. The pain was getting worse and my vacation was running out. I don’t want to sound too graphic here, but it felt like I was constantly being violently kicked in the groin while a knife was sticking out of my back just to the left of the initial injury. I reluctantly asked my wife to buy me a cane so I could at least walk to the bathroom and bedroom. I’m in recovery from alcoholism. For anyone new to this blog that’s what the whole damn thing is about anyway, recovery and self-help. (Here is a link to my blog introduction http://danielandrewlockwood.com/2013/05/02/self-help-for-beginners-welcome-to-my-blog/) I’ve been through a lot of crap; a lot of it life threatening,  but I’ve never been through like what was to come.

I applied for my short-term disability if this scenario were to prolong itself. After going in for a CAT scan at the behest of my Doctor, the determination was made to give me a steroid injection in my spine. Unfortunately this was about two weeks away and the pain was becoming unbearable. It became very difficult to shower and even maintain some sort of hygienic dignity. Migraines set in for a constant ride and are still here. Most of the time I have a bag of ice on my head. The nights offer a slight comfort for an hour or two then into the living room where I proceed to scream my ass off for at least ninety minutes. The meds prescribed to me I DO NOT WANT, but what can I do? Oxy and Valium. Ugh. Can’t take anything with Tylenol in it, that pushes my migraines int to the upper stratosphere. Won’t allow anything with alcohol either. So what do I do? Suffer, and suffer, and suffer.

Two weeks later I went in for my injection and for about three hours I felt completely normal. That was the “Novocaine” shot they gave me prior to the primary shot. Three hours later back to square one, but, the Doctors informed me it would take 3-4 days to work. Didn’t happen, in fact it started getting much worse. I started falling, even with the cane. My wife works during the day and sometimes she spends her lunch hour at home. Most of the time all I want is plain old unconsciousness. Imaging having a hangover that never, ever stops. This is what I’ve been going through.

We went to a specialist next and they recommended surgery. They spelled it out what was going to happen. We both agreed on their recommendations and tomorrow at three thirty in the afternoon we will see if the procedure will have any impact. It’s been another LONG two weeks.

Last Thursday was the worst. Yelling at the top of my lungs for three hours in the middle of the night while I’m flopping around in my recliner; willing to do ANYTHING to induce some sort state of comfort as my wife stands over me weeping and not knowing what to do is never a future I would have imagined. She feels so helpless and yet she has no idea how much she actually helps. I could not have gotten through this without her. She is my friend, my lover, and my angel.

This has been difficult in more ways than I’ve expected. I’ve worked since I was very young, never having been away from some sort of paid responsibilities for more than perhaps two weeks in a row. I’m very active, such is the life of a construction worker. A few short weeks ago I was on twelve-foot ladders with 24″ pipe wrenches cranking on twenty-one foot long steel pipes. I was in crawl spaces flicking off cock roaches while installing 4″ cast iron waste pipe. Now I can’t get out of bed and to top it all off I’ve gained forty pounds since this put me down. IF all goes well, I am to have an eight week recovery before I can even go back to work. It is a humbling experience but I wish the better man this is going to make me didn’t have such a high price.

At some level I MUST give up. Not on life, mind you, but on my power over what’s happening to me. “Let Go, Let God” is ingrained into my mind through my both program and experience; and yet still I fight it. To drop all and trust in the universe to hand me what I need the most sometimes takes leaps of faith into my own mirages of the worst  futures that can be imagined. Tomorrow; written by me and acted be me, has never happened, and it never will.

Am I close to throwing in the towel? Yes. Let’s just go ahead and do it and see what happens.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

 

 

Enough Is Enough

75. A MAD-LIB FOR ADDICTS

cookie monster

 

Before I get a ton of hate mail from those who say addiction isn’t funny, I agree, it’s not. It does eventually become extremely important to be able look back on our past and learn how to not beat ourselves up over events we cannot change. Some of the funniest stories I’ve heard are in A.A. meetings. Obviously I’m sworn to secrecy, but it’s nice to know that it’s possible we can eventually laugh at those times that challenged us the most.  Nothing I have done that hurt others holds any kind of humor, that’s for sure, but there are plenty of things I have done to myself to supply more than enough amusement. Looking at these episodes of poor judgement and incomprehensible decision-making is, in my opinion, an excellent way to help strip the ego. The trick here is to look in the mirror and practice forgiveness rather than remorse. Doing the latter only fuels the need to be seen as a victim. Sharing these moments will not only help you find common ground with those willing to help, it will rid you of the “cringe” factor the memories may dredge up. Shame is one of the most draining and damaging of emotions. Getting beyond the need to express this concerning your past is one of the healthiest things you can do. Remember, self-actualized people are quick to laugh at themselves and are self-accepting.

If you are currently in a place where the pain is overwhelming, my prayers are with you. If real recovery is in your future please believe that what lies ahead isn’t ALL drama and business, there will be times of joy and discovery. A huge part of recovery is learning how to re-connect to feelings that have been forgotten, misplaced, misdirected, and abandoned. Management of expression is absolutely central to mental health.

I cannot use a fill-in-the-blank format for this entry, WordPress does not have this option. Please use a separate piece of paper and simply match the numbers. The choices I have provided for the blanks make things a bit more specific than your typical mad-lib. Trust me, it’ll come out much funnier this way. Try to fill out your form without scrolling all the way down. You may also highlight the top section, then print separately. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Confessions of an Addict-

  1. verb, past tense ______________
  2. object _______________
  3. public event _______________
  4. body part _______________
  5. body part _______________
  6. famous person _______________
  7. sport _______________
  8. a food _______________
  9. a profession _______________
  10. a possession, can be plural _______________
  11. low number _______________
  12. notorious man _______________
  13. notorious woman _______________
  14. number _______________
  15. weird characters/people _______________
  16. object, plural _______________
  17. a phrase meant to insult _______________
  18. adverbial phrase (how did you jump? i.e. …..like a madman, without hesitation, for no good reason, etc.) _______________
  19. a dangerous action (i.e. – running into traffic, etc.) _______________
  20. article of clothing _______________
  21. something yucky _______________
  22. verb, past tense _______________
  23. object _______________

 

( ) = an optional word, choose one or the other.

  1. I once got so drunk I ______1._______ (a) an _____2._______ during _____3.______.
  2. I failed the roadside DUI test because I could not touch my ______4. ______ to my ______5.______.
  3. When I get wasted my friends say I act like ______6.______ trying to play ______7.______.
  4. I once came out of a blackout surrounded by empty ______8.______ boxes and dressed up like a ______9.______.
  5. Once, I was so desperate for money I gathered (all) my ______10._______ and sold (it) them at a pawn shop for ______11.______ dollars.
  6. My mug shot looked like ______12.______ had a kid with ______13.______ who obviously hadn’t bathed for ______14.______ weeks.
  7. My nightmares used to include ______15.______ throwing ______16.______ at me while shouting ______17.______.
  8. Someone once posted an online video that showed of me completely sloshed, running ______18.______ while ______19.______ just so I could win a bet.
  9. I once went to work so hung over I was wearing my ______20.______ inside out and my breath smelled like______21.______ .
  10. There was a time where I would have ______22.______(on) a ______23.______ if it meant I could be free of my demons.

So, have fun with this. It should serve as a reminder to some (and a promise to others) that living on the other side of addiction is ALWAYS going to be better than dying inside it.

I look forward to hearing some of your responses to this. Feel free to post what you came up with and let others share in your laughter!

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

74. WELCOME TO HELL

temptation-of-christ-1872.jpg!Blog

This entry is purely my opinion. Feel free to complain if you like……most are quite practiced at it so it should come easily to those who insist on spending their lives looking for ways to be offended. I seek neither to sway anyone nor do I claim knowledge of an esoteric nature. If you want an argument, this is the wrong forum. Sharing, however, is always encouraged.

Occasionally I am asked if I believe in heaven or hell. As far as I’m concerned this question is an opening line to some sort of judgmental attack by the person who presents it. Be that as it may, I do indeed believe in these places; but to me they are not the physical planes so colorfully depicted in literature and art that the world is familiar with. The clichéd examples of everlasting peace and eternal damnation seem to be missing a critical observation; they both exist because without them there would be no balance, no creation, no expansion, and no purpose. The elimination of one would mean oblivion for the other. North cannot exist without south. The “magnet” that is our life and world is a constant co-existence of forces that seem to repel when in reality they are the perfect example of mutual attraction. Try to cut one end off and there is still its absolute “opposite” attached. We cannot live in one and disregard the other. Perhaps the balance point is where we must reside. Perhaps our purpose is to harmonize the space where they meet. This spot truly is the razor’s edge.

Let’s go the Christian route and use the Bible as a reference point to see if there is any evidence to support what I am describing. My favorite quote is a red letter one.

Luke 17:21

21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

One cannot get clearer than this. Jesus himself says the way to God lies within. If the kingdom of God is heaven and the path to our relationship with “him” is inside of us, then where is hell, its so-called counterpart? I would venture to say that the world outside of us is the kingdom of the devil. Don’t believe me? Well there’s more biblical evidence pointing to this observation. There are a few lines where the devil tempts Christ.

Mathew 4:8-10

Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

The devil takes Jesus to the highest point that can be found and offers the world and all it contains if he bows to him. The question is why could he offer this? One cannot give what one does not first own; therefore the material world must be his kingdom. It’s all the “stuff” and their anchors surrounding us, money, food, power, drink, sex, drugs, possessions, and so on are the “temptations” or “apples” so many (including me) are drawn to. The first commandment says we are to not worship false Gods. Okay, so what is a false God then? Again, it’s all the enticements of the material world. Don’t get me wrong, stuff is nice, fun, and useful, but stuff is not supposed to be the ultimate goal in life. Things are not evil, they never will be. It’s our pursuit and our importance of them that makes it so.

More evidence of this needed mindset is presented here.

Luke 18:18-22

18 And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

19 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.

20 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.

21 And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up.

22 Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.

Christ didn’t want this man to have nothing, he wanted him to turn away from what he was putting first in life; material possessions. The man had disregarded the first commandment.

I do indeed have a LOT of stuff. Books, music, clothes, tools, furniture, dishes, etc., etc., fill my home with convenience and comfort. Some is defiantly required so I may live a life of my chosen responsibilities, but to be honest, most is unnecessary. I truly say this to you now; if my house were to burn down tomorrow and my wife and cat were alive and well, I’d be “okay” with that. I’d be upset and angry at first, don’t get me wrong, but in the end I would know what really matters would have survived.

So, let’s talk a little more about how I understand the existence of heaven and hell. Heaven is the kingdom of God or the realm of all that is spiritual including the emotions of love, trust, compassion, faith, and forgiveness.  Hell is the kingdom of Lucifer and contains all that is not spiritual and certain attitudes like judgment, fear, regret, worry, and shame.

As far as I am concerned both of these places are a state of mind that links us to either self- destruction or divine alignment.

There is a huge story at the beginning of the Bible called…………..Genesis. It tells how we came to be, live in the house of God, and exist in his image. We were in constant contact with God, and God with us. The next question is what is OUR true image? If we are to believe the Bible, we are indeed made in God’s image, however, I know for a fact that I am not my body, not my reflection, not my genetic ancestry.  I cannot look into the mirror and say out loud, “All I am is flesh and blood and nothing else.” It’s a lie; one that’s easily recognized.  So if I’m not my body and I was made in God’s image, what the heck IS God’s image? I have no idea; energy, spirit, thought, or perhaps some unknown etheric force? I do know what it isn’t; and that’s a damn good start.

So here we go down, down, down, the rabbit hole. Get ready.

Hebrews 9:27

27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

We already DID die once. We died a spiritual death. How did this happen? We embraced the material world i.e. “the Apple.” We turned away from spirit and towards the material. What defines the material world the most you say? Opposites; up, down, left, right, rich, poor, beauty, ugliness, man, woman, black, white, and so on. This IS the world of judgment. Here we are, spiritually dead living in the world of judgment. OK……….getting weirder now……..

John 3:3

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

According to this passage we must be “born again” to enter the house of God? Yes, because we are spiritually “dead” now. We are living in Hell; and dead as can be. In order to be re-born we must leave this place.

The next question begs to be asked. Why did we do it? Why did we choose a path of such potential disharmony? I believe the evidence exists where the two worlds collide. What attracts both the material and spiritual? What is the connection point? Ask yourself this question, “What do all the religions of the world have in common? What is the thread that runs through every belief?” It’s quite simply, art. Artistic expression is in all forms of acknowledgement towards God. This single action is both material and spiritual in design. It’s what bridges the gap and promotes movement allowing a symbiotic relationship between the two. Look at the music, buildings, pictures, poetry, costume, and ceremony that exist in religion today; all of it is deeply immersed in beauty.

People are always looking for the differences in our beliefs, trying to sift out the truth from a perspective that is flawed to begin with. We must look for the similarities if the purest truth is to be illuminated.

When we are in touch with God are we not of the frame of mind on an artist? The examples are quite varied but all have the same effect; cooking the perfect meal, intimacy with the one we REALLY love, reading a wonderful book, working on our dream car, gardening, singing, writing, painting, listening to music, on and on and on. When we create, we align back to that place where we began; keeping one foot here and one in the spirit world. There is ONE more piece of evidence that will support this observation. A sense of time is lost. We lose awareness to the passage of the hours. When we align with God we share his perspective for cosmic movement as this last quote will attest to.

2 Peter 3:8

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

Go forth and create, for are not those who destroy detached from spirit? Does is not seem that they do so only for what matters in the material world? The more we are intent on destruction, the more we waste what precious time we’re given, and the more we create the more we anchor ourselves in eternity.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood

73. A LETTER TO MYSELF

message_in_a_bottle

In July of 1995 I was a desperate mess. The future offered no comfort or promise, the past supplied only pain and excuses. It had been many years since even a moment of happiness had flickered. In its absence my pursuits were narrowed to chasing pleasure, and even that road was turning into a nightmarish, twisted path where my demons urged me to continue a life of madness from the sidelines. I felt doomed to die in waves of searing agony, leaving behind a life that, once extinguished, would make the world a better place for everyone.

I was wrong.

If you could write a letter to your younger self what would you say? Would you reveal things better discovered through experience? Would you try to avoid any of the pain you have felt? Would you attempt to speed up the future so better things could be done faster? It’s what I would have wanted at the time, and if those wishes had come true I guarantee I would have pissed the gift of foresight away in a matter of days.

Here is my letter………..

July 27th, 1995

Dear Daniel,

I know you are in pain, angry and scared. I promise there are wonderful times and teachers ahead. Shut your mouth, open your ears, and don’t lie. The universe will place in your path all that you need and want. Love, purpose, and health will return. The road will be challenging but you will have guidance, motivation, and peace. I will NOT tell you anything about who, what, where, or when. Here is where faith must be employed.

There are really only a few pieces of advice I can offer. Above all remember this, if you walk through life backwards you will never see the signs leading you to a better place. Let go of your history. There is nothing that happened yesterday that can be used to justify this moment; the past does not equal the future. Stop insisting on doing things your way and give in to their way. This doesn’t mean you’ll become a slave to the will of others, it means you become willing to serve something greater than yourself. Drop the need to be right. It’s a waste of time. Eventually the right thing always happens anyway. Stop judging yourself, this is the biggest breeding ground of excuses one can tend. Focus on the moment, don’t regret the past, don’t worry about the future. And this last one will not make sense for a long time, just keep it in your head. “Never give up but ALWAYS let go.” It sounds like a dichotomy; it’s not. Remember that I love you and believe in you.

Daniel

This letter is really for anyone who was in, and is in, the same place I was.  I love and believe in you too.

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With Love and Compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood