There is a definite parallel between a person spiraling into addiction and their inner thoughts and dialogue. Examining my own personal regression into alcoholism, the correlation between my out-of-control use and the self-deprecating thoughts running through my head was undeniable. There is excellent material written today regarding this inner dialogue that continually runs through our minds, regardless of what we are doing, and often these thoughts are negative and can have accumulative detrimental effects. My belief is that addicts and alcoholics have two distinct yet similar stages of succumbing to their own unfavorable inner conversation. Moreover, both stages have disastrous consequences to one’s sense of self-worth. Simply put, negative inner thoughts lead to negative results and emotions, whereas positive inner thoughts lead to positive results and emotions.
The first stage probably started occurring early in life during our development in early childhood. When a young person receives love, nurturance, tenderness, and understanding during their early years of development, they will most certainly tend to have a more positive inner dialogue about themselves. However, when someone is treated poorly or even abusively during childhood, we can readily discern what the consequences will be. The developmental path that leads an individual to possessing a positive, confident, self-reliant, and empathetic outlook in life will certainly be linked to having a loving and nurturing outward environment. Conversely, another person may be raised in an environment that does not contain love and understanding. The result is obvious – such a child will end up inheriting what is commonly referred to as an inferiority complex. The domino effects resulting from this ‘acquired’ sense of inferiority is multi-faceted -- often with dire consequences.
Simply put, an inferiority complex is feeling a lack of self-worth and this can become intense and inscribed into a person’s mind. What are some of the kinds of thoughts that end up composing the inner dialogue of a person coping with this sense of inferiority? Here is a small sampling – "I am worthless; how can I possibly do that? I hate myself; I have never accomplished anything; I am a failure and always have been; what’s the use, this is just who I am; I am ugly; I am fat; I am poor; I am stupid; I am awkward; I cannot stand looking at myself in a mirror; I am so tired; I hate life," etc.
Remember, this is just the short list but unquestionably, most of us will easily be able to concur with these types of thoughts. Moreover, we are still discussing only Stage 1. The cumulative result of a person pounding himself or herself with such hidden conversation is highly destructive. To think a person is living this way is quite sad. Nevertheless, we can in the meantime try to understand identifiable origins of a person having a negative and worthless sense of self and then acquiring specific coping behaviors such as drinking and/or using.
Many wonderful, sensitive people I have met in groups over the last few years have opened up and discussed these feelings of worthlessness and low self-esteem. Now, we can transition to Stage 2. There is not a direct line between the two stages. There is more of a blending of the stages and both can continue to occur simultaneously. Stage 2 is when a person is absolutely on the road to alcoholism and/or addiction. Their use has gone past the stage of habit and abuse and is now in that perilous phase of addiction. Listening to and identifying one’s inner thoughts during this heightened turmoil of a person’s early addiction is very revealing, but not surprising.
If Stage 1 of a person’s life comprises these inner, negative thoughts inherent to an inferiority complex, then Stage 2 will be even worse. Drinking and using go hand in hand with negative thoughts. And, eventually, they devolve into that pernicious cycle that sometimes seems inescapable. Even with the temporary ‘relief’ that comes from a drink, pill or needle, the residual effects spin one endlessly into that malicious cycle, repeating over and over again.
The first important and healthy step one can make when beginning their recovery is to stop and listen to their inner self. These inward thoughts are often complex and rapid moving and sometimes not fully discernible. However, through various practices from meditation, deep-breathing, mindfulness, one-on-one therapy and group therapy, a person can come to know the contents of their inner workings. A thought is after all a thought. A negative thought, even accepted for a lifetime is still just a thought that you have accepted over a long period of time. So while examining our own addiction to a substance we also need to turn our direction to our own thinking patterns and our recovery is dependent upon unraveling both structures of addiction – internal and external.
There are definite practices a person can utilize to begin to replace the old, abusive thoughts and my next blog posting will address some of these methods in detail. For starters, just begin to listen to yourself. Try simply inserting a loving or nurturing phrase to yourself and repeat it a few times. For instance, the following phrases may begin to transform the negative 'chatter' inside: "I am worthy of more in life. I am capable of being a good person. I deserve more than allowing myself to remain an alcoholic. I now decide to care for myself, my health, my body, my mind, my soul. I have made mistakes and have harmed myself and others and I am sorry for these transgressions, but, there may have been reasons why I have never fully accepted who I am. I will begin to speak with love to my inner being and not ridicule who I think I was. I am a creation of God and God has unlimited love for me. It is never too late to change my life. Life begins now and I accept that I am ready for a mental, spiritual, and physical transformation. I can do this and I want to do this. I have others in recovery who can assist me and care for me. I am open to being loved by others and to loving and caring for myself."
Stay positive - - it takes practice. Until next time....
In an earlier posting I explored the beginning of the Serenity Prayer - "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change." In that blog I described many paramount aspects to the meaning of the word serenity. Now, let's explore the second part of this prayer - "God grant me the courage to change the things I can."
I have often felt when enunciating the Serenity Prayer that this second part of the prayer represents a perfect shift from the first line pertaining to serenity itself and acceptance of those things we cannot change. In two quick and simple phrases we have a true Yin Yang relationship formed between an inactive or passive state of acceptance and now, an active state of doing and the courage to change those things in life that are decidedly possible.
So, what direction do we embark upon at this decisive juncture in our life? Let's begin with this - if we are still drinking and using there is no way we are going to acquire any 'real' serenity in discovering those things in our life that we cannot change. Free or cogent decisions cannot be made. At most, we may have stumbled upon a very treacherous course of imbibing in a chemical or alcohol mix that allows us to feel temporarily calm or surreptitiously peaceful. But, please understand that this induced state of consciousness is never to be compared to true serenity. And, not to mention the aftermath, which will contain so much detrimental payback that we will continue to erode our true self, remaining entrapped by our addiction.
Secondly, the courage to change those things in one's life that are capable of being changed, will simply never arise from within. When we are addicted to a substance like alcohol, well, it goes without saying, and I know no one can dispute this fact -- courage is simply not present in our life. I mean really, how could it be? If alcoholism and drug addiction destroys the humanity within us, reduces us to a slave to our obsession, turns us into virtually an alien life form, well it clearly follows that courage will not be found anywhere within us.
Courage first begins when a person stops in their tracks and decides that it is time to change their life and learn to live again free of the abusive relationship we have formed with drugs and/or alcohol. And, I wish to emphasize this word abusive - because, our addiction is utterly abusive to us and to those around us. But, the moment we begin to turn away from our substance of choice and take those first steps on a pathway of recovery, a dim light appears on our inner horizon. That light is truly a saving light that contains a softly uttered comment to ourselves - be free, live free, let life in. Each moment that we choose to move one step at a time closer to that light takes courage. I have been astounded by the courage I have witnessed in those people who have decided to embark on the recovery path even when so much appears to have been lost and ruined in someone's life.
I not only applaud a person for taking those first steps into the light of recovery but I also wish to hug that person with my heartfelt words. And, as the adage says, as we make each step towards God or the light, there will be support given immediately back to you. And, with each consecutive stride we demonstrate courage and develop that courage. Courage is not the absence of fear but the conquest of it and fear can only be eliminated from a person's life with the continued practice of courage, one step and one day at a time.
And, it goes without saying that it also takes courage to have faith and hope that your life will become better, that the troubles that surround you now are surmountable and that the relationship with your true inner self can be repaired. Love yourself enough at these early stages of recovery so that you can heal the wounds that addiction has caused. And, please do not dismiss this word 'love' from your inner thoughts, let it come into you and spread its wings throughout your journey into recovery. Learn again or perhaps for the first time in your life what real love means - what it means to offer warmth and tenderness to yourself.
Life was meant to have love present and we cannot truly love anything on this earth until we find the meaning of love within ourselves and for ourselves. Our creation into existence is a gift not a punishment. Please do not let the ignorance that surrounds addiction and alcoholism to cloud our awareness to what life can be. Do not accept what may appear as a love-less, life-less world around you. Many people in this world with no substance abuse or alcoholism to speak of, can be just as prone to lacking love and empathy within. And, please, do not allow outward appearances to deceive you either. Love gives life and is a force truly beyond hate or evil. And, there is much love and empathy in this world today. Please, cease trying to fill the void within with an abusive substance. Cease punishing yourself and learn, through the practice of courage in recovery, to find the love we need to live freely and grow freely and once again begin to be the body, mind and soul that is our real human self. Discover true courage as you begin your steps in recovery. Find the serenity and courage within you and breath life into your being.
As I mentioned in my first couple of blog postings, I daily utilize the wonderful tools I found in so many schools of recovery thought. One of the most essential forces in my own recovery has been the practice and 'working' of the 12 Steps as beautifully laid out in AA. I know there are people that choose other pathways to their recovery other than AA and the Big Book and some individuals may have various concerns when it comes to the use of God in the terminology. This is absolutely fine and I openly will say that we are so fortunate to have a wealth of distinct approaches to finding ways to free ourselves from addiction and alcoholism. We should all be grateful for this fact - we have come a long way in our society towards finding excellent, feasible passageways to unconditional recovery.
I do sincerely feel that all who read this particular posting will be able to find something that rings close to home. In my own experience of sobriety I have often commented to others in meetings that I use an 'open' system when it comes to rehabilitation techniques. In other words, I have allowed myself to be completely free to learning and applying a wide range of principles from cognitive thought techniques, mindfulness, prayer, nutrition, deep breathing, yoga and last, but not least - the 12 Steps.
Let's discuss right now two of those important steps. Step 4 - "Made a searching and fearless inventory of ourselves." And, then Step 5 - "Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs." These two steps are so very important to sobriety and staying clean because, through continued practice and complete honesty with yourself, God and other trusted human beings, one can begin to integrate their true selves and create an essential core relationship between body, mind and our soul. Through courage and perseverance one can examine themselves and open all the doorways to the good, the bad and ugly. Most likely this fearless inventory of ourselves will have to boldly recognize our behavior when drunk and using. And, such an assessment of ourselves will have to genuinely acknowledge the actions we committed upon others and the excessive inner harm we cast onto ourselves. The endless lies, deceit, hiding and abuse that surrounded our inner and outer lives when using is so hard to look at. And, to accept responsibility for all of it, to see that it was really you that did all these terrible things - well, not an easy task for anyone.
As I have worked with the 12 Steps I often feel that they are principles that must be daily applied - in a sense they truly ground me in life. I try to daily read through the steps and recall and practice what is embodied within each one. I find it essential to my mental and spiritual health to remember this moral inventory I took of my inner being. What an excellent and useful tool to keep our egos at bay, in check, or healthily balanced, and to continually feel that very real humility that enters into our consciousness and subsequently grounds us.
How fundamental to our recovery is it to remember the kind of person we were when addicted to alcohol and/or drug use. Nothing humbles me more than recalling the kind of person I became during the throes of alcoholism and the harm and pain I cast onto others in my life - not to understate the terrible self-destruction I incurred while drinking. This humility is often tinged with sadness and guilt and it is healthy to feel these emotions. It is human to feel the repercussions of our actions. This helps to find our true conscience again and let our conscience grow within. My body, mind and soul were starved and deprived of any kind of true nourishment - I was dying, physically, mentally and spiritually. If such a desert of existence does not humble a person, then I do not know what does.
Then we move on to Step 5 -- the most important aspect of fearlessly taking this moral inventory of ourselves - admitting the wrongs we have committed and the true nature of these wrongs. And, why is it so vital to not only admit these aspects of ourselves to just our own self? Because we now must fully integrate this inner awareness with our entire life. This is our next real step of courage. And, to fully complete Step 5 and admit and discuss this moral inventory with God, (or if you prefer - your own inner voice or your heart) and someone else, is mandatory to living a life of unconditional recovery.
Psychologically speaking, it is so very healthy for anyone to let internal matters breath, especially to a skilled and trusted therapist, sponsor, counselor or pastor. The former established patterns of deceit and lying will no longer be necessary. This dishonesty and trails of deception only serve to protect our false self and our addiction. The freedom of conscience that can be experienced when one has the fearlessness to take this full moral inventory and then reveal that to their higher being, and to another trusted soul, while accepting and living with this inwardly, will finally lead a person to a feeling of genuine freedom. Your body, mind and soul can finally live in a state of peace and honesty. The need to run for that drink or fix will now meet another kind of challenge - your true self. And, I will firmly attest to how much better I feel living honestly with a daily awareness of God within my own heart. To live honestly, free one day at a time from addiction, is like drinking the spiritual fresh waters of life.
There are many reasons and causes that lead someone finally into a recovery program for addiction or alcoholism. It may be legal issues, health crises, a family intervention, depression, impending relationship breakup, a personal epiphany that ‘something’ needs to change in one’s life – all of these are quite familiar to any of us that have started the first stages of recovery. To gloss over the intense pain that proceeds this distinct moment in one’s life would be a real injustice. There is so much damage and hurt that occurs before an individual begins to abstain from their substance of choice – personal suffering and, equally as important, the suffering of those around us as well as innocent people who may have been physically injured as a result of ‘our’ addiction. Remember, there are real, justified reasons why the police want to get drunk or impaired drivers off the road. In fact, consider yourself lucky if you do indeed get arrested before harming others or yourself.
Directly prior to beginning recovery, there are multiple facets of our life which are squeezed into a powerful vortex of experience that cannot and will not be forgotten. And, as we enter recovery and start doing the hourly and daily work of trying to physically, mentally and spiritually change our lives one day at a time we initially face immense struggles. There is intense withdrawal and cravings, there is powerful guilt and remorse, we awaken gradually to the harm we have caused, we may be in economic peril. This list is extensive, to say the least - but, not insurmountable.
I do want ‘outsiders’ – people who have never experienced addiction or alcoholism, even perhaps in their own families – to at least be aware of this trying period for those in recovery. I am not asking for anyone to just forgive people for what they have done, but there is still so much ignorance and prejudice when it comes to this issue of addiction. Let’s face this one fact of reality folks, in the world today addiction and alcoholism are highly prevalent and there are reasons for it, personal and universal. Alcoholism and addiction crosses all boundaries – it isn’t just the poor, haggard person we see walking down a back street carrying a brown paper bag. This individual is just as important and vital as are the highly successful people in the world today that suffer from the throes of addiction. All of these people are human beings, a creation of God, and they need help.
We are fortunate in this day and age, however, that there are excellent programs, counselors, therapists, prescribed, safe medications and individuals that are there to help us. We have grown a lot as a society since the remarkable Big Book was introduced to the public. A person can find and receive help – today, this day, this hour, even this very minute. Tremendous assistance can be a simple phone call away and it is vital to know this. Help is there, right now for anyone that has the courage to change their life.
But, despite all the facilities and support at one’s disposal to get away from the harmful effects of drugs or alcohol, somewhere within, there must be that inner decision to quit and begin recovery. I would very much like to see in the near future a world in which a person finds and receives help long before the point of real hell ensues. One does not have to hit ‘rock bottom’ in order to begin recovery. With greater societal acceptance and awareness of the extent of alcohol and drug addiction in our world today, hopefully, more people will receive the treatment they desperately need – sooner rather than later.
However, unfortunately, there is one important obstacle to get over – ourselves. The treacherous and deceiving aspects of addiction wants us to hide and do one thing – preserve our obsessive use of drugs and/or alcohol. There are so many people I have witnessed over the years that do not think that they even have a problem. Denial is another powerful and sinister force inherent in these substances. So, if somehow, someway, a person finds their way into a recovery program, congratulations. You have been given a chance to completely change your life. I think back at how the very thought of going a day without a drink seemed impossible. This very thought created deep anxiety – again, the addiction speaks loud and clear at this perilous beginning stage when the real work begins.
And now, I cannot imagine desiring to ever drink again, not this moment, not tomorrow. My blog is about Unconditional Recovery and one of the key premises I will continually address is that not only is someone giving up their substance of choice and the perils their use entailed, but that they can open a new door and discover and gain a new life, a considerably better, happier, healthier and fulfilling life. But, to get to this point, one must do the hard, daily, sometimes hourly, work. I practice an entire lifestyle I call healthy sobriety and I attend meetings, assist others in their recovery, practice the 12 Steps, and do my deep breathing, exercise, yoga, etc. every day -- and will continue to do so for the rest of my life. It has become a wonderful way to live.
Now, let me make this very clear and to the point. There is one important and vital factor for successful recovery – it is you. You must ultimately decide to change your life. This inner resolve must become firmly established within your mind, body and soul. No other person, group or system can do this for you. It must come from you and it takes courage and determination. No one is fated to live under the tyranny of addiction and alcoholism. So many people have turned their lives around and the fellowship and love that is discovered when one enters onto the path of recovery is simply remarkable. Decide today to free yourself. Determine today to continue unconditionally on the path of recovery. Despite anything you have done during your addiction, give this gift to yourself. The gift of recovery can be bestowed at any moment. You may be waking up at home, on the side of the street, in a hospital or a jail cell, but you have the freedom and the ability to choose Unconditional Recovery. It's a human choice, it's a loving choice, it's the right choice.
Many people addicted to alcohol and/or drugs will openly attest to experiencing those precarious moments when sitting on the proverbial ‘fence’ that separates recovery from relapse. This is often a very intense period during which critical decisions are made. One can abruptly decide to use again and head directly into relapse. This is usually a knee-jerk reaction to one’s inner promptings and a helpless response ensues confirming once again the insidious nature of addiction. Or, a person can decide and choose, even under protest from those nagging inner voices, to stay with their recovery and in this instance turn their backs from using. This is of course the better option but sometimes difficult to choose.
When someone faces this critical crossroads it can be accompanied by prolonged or short-lived turmoil, depending on the person and the amount of time in recovery. And, unfortunately, often the solution to avoid the pain of this decision process is to succumb to that inner voice that is prompting us to use or drink again. This negative force, brought to us by us and our addiction, will likely insist that the only way to get through the day is to imbibe again. The rationalization voice quickly follows in sync by assuring that we will simply deal with the consequences at a later time. Decision made – we opt to relapse. This happens all the time and I am sure many of you have experienced this during the course of recovery.
I will confidently attest that during my three plus years of sobriety I have never seen, not once, a person who experienced a pleasant or fun relapse. And, there is no question that any relapse becomes a major setback in one’s recovery, sometimes with devastating consequences. However, any relapse should never be considered a declaration of failure. So many people I have known get themselves back into recovery and attempt once again to pursue the path of sobriety and living clean, having learned valuable lessons from their recent relapse.
This is not to say that one needs or must have relapses. The addictive mind is quite tricky and will attempt to open any door possible to reassert itself in an individual’s life. Therefore, relapses should never be taken with a blasé or indifferent attitude. During discussion groups I often commented that relapses are hell and to be avoided at all costs. It is not to be equated with simply going off of one’s diet plan for instance. The repercussions can be quite destructive, deadly and sad. And, mistrust ensues – you once again cannot trust yourself and your actions and others will continue to mistrust your attempts at living sober. This is unavoidable.
If we explore some of that precarious inner dialogue that ensues once a person decides to open that door to the possibility of using again, we will easily recognize the justifications. “I just need to feel that feeling again.” “I can’t take another day without using.” “I’ve gone this long and have been clean or sober, let me just dabble again and I’ll get right off it, I promise.” “I simply rather be drunk or high than going through withdrawal and recovery.” And, for the big winner of the day for justifying using – “No one will know, I can get this out of my system before my next urine or breath test; I’m alone, no one is around to see me, so I’m doing it.” And with a deceivingly mischievous grin we start using, fooling no one but ourselves.
Well, we all know this kind of thinking very well. Thought has power and every thought we have sets off an amazing chain reaction within one’s body, mind and soul. And, I mean every thought. Every time we think about using and the ‘fun’ we had and miss now, we are charging that thought with a dynamic power that affects everything from our brain chemistry to our entire nervous system. Each instance we allow ourselves to conjure up our nefarious romance with our addictive substance, we give that thought power. We must free ourselves from being addicted to the type of thinking that accompanies addiction itself.
So, what can help. Here is some advice I would like to offer and I would ask you to also read my earlier blog entitled Unconditional Recovery. When realizing you are on this fence, and you feel that you are in real danger of opting to use or drink again, please call someone who can help - a sponsor, a friend, your spouse or partner, a therapist or an existing recovery group hotline. Some however, may choose to pray and this is a wonderful response to urges, especially prayers that offer hope, love, forgiveness and gratitude. Others choose activities such as exercise to free their minds from addictive thoughts. Listening to music or spending time in the outdoors and taking notice of nature is also excellent. Simply put, any positive activity, that is practiced regularly, will assist a person from generating those ‘electrically’ charged forms of relapse rationalizations and pinging your own brain continually with a stream of thoughts that tempt one into using.
Many have found wonderful recovery through the practice of Yoga and Tai Chi. I have practiced for years now, mindfulness, meditation and deep breathing. Keeping our bodies filled with the nourishing effects of positively charged fresh air and breathing deeply is so very healthy. While listening and attuning with our breath we learn to quiet our minds and shift our thoughts to an image or thought that is healing and positive. Eventually, with practice, mindful breathing can be employed as a regular means of shutting the door to addictive thought.
Living with Unconditional Recovery means again, to close the door to our addiction and our addictive thoughts. Shut that door, and walk away from it and live in the healthy world that abounds around you. Learn to focus not on the past forms of addictive thought but on the new outlook of seeing life that can be free and better without using any addictive substance. Then you do not have to spend any more time lingering on that precarious fence because you have decided once and for all to live life free from addiction and finally get off that fence.
Many conversations I have heard between people in early recovery have to do with the endless lies we told to others and ourselves when drunk or high. Sometimes, during our group meetings, we would laugh at the level of deceit we employed or the ingenuity we ‘thought’ we were able to muster in producing a lifestyle of lying, hiding or trying to appear sober and normal. Our laughter was tongue and cheek of course, used to help break-the-ice and ease ourselves during intense discussions. Beyond this, we were all serious and circumspect. We knew all too well, the enormous pain and guilt we were experiencing with our sober realization of those terrible and destructive aspects associated with addiction – lying and deceit – living in a world of secrets and dishonesty.
What we come to realize quickly in recovery is that our dishonesty became a central part of protecting our addiction. Nothing was going to stand in the way of the next drink or bottle of alcohol and nothing would dare get between us and our next fix. And, I mean nothing. I have often compared the state of a human being going through this dreadful state of total dependency, with the ‘Alien’ that appears in the movies. This creature rips through a human body and emerges as its own life form while destroying everything in its wake. I don’t really see any difference to what essentially happens during the various stages of dependency and total addiction. Our human form becomes altered and obscured and we are robbed of seeing that most central part of ourselves and do not know who we are anymore. The addiction has taken over and beyond satisfying this obsessive dependency we drag ourselves down a road that is hell itself. And, to think of the hurt we cast on those close to us, well, it is painful to say the very least.
So, in our early days and weeks of recovery (if we allow ourselves the courage to proceed with abstinence) we begin to re-discover who we are and look back on this alien creature that became us when drunk, high or stoned. And, as we begin to realize the person buried within we start peeling the layers of our consciousness one by one. This is a tremendous accomplishment for an individual as they pull away from their substance of choice. It is very difficult and takes a lot of courage and help from others – professional therapists, counselors, and fellow members within a recovery group. Many aspects of our inner being start to emerge – some we may like and others might be hard to look at.
I do believe as human beings that we are considerably more sensitive and feeling towards life than most people want to admit. We are often taught that the world is tough, life is tough, and we then have to be tough. But, I disagree with this. Human beings, young and old, need trusting, gentle love to live, to grow healthy and not needing addictive substances. My own venture into sobriety has lead me from being that ‘tough’ guy (in my own way) to a quite different person altogether. I have learned that because we are human and sensitive creatures, we can be easily hurt by life around us. Many buried secrets from the past can emerge and this is a point when I so highly recommend personal therapy to help an individual uncover these deeper hurts and wounds. I am not asserting that our past wounds are the only reason behind our use of substances to alter our lives – they are not. There are other reasons that lead to use and addiction. But, there is no question in my mind that deep hurts, abuse of any kind, a traumatic experience, post-traumatic stress disorder, cumulative negativity around us, mean and bullying comments from our peers – well, these can damage our inner being and can be a direct cause for trying to escape through addiction.
It is always better and psychologically healthier for us to let these deep pains and secret scars within out to "breathe." It is so important to let these wounds out with a trusting person or group – not to just anyone. I know that the more we talk and share in group meetings, the healthier our recovery will be. I wish most individuals in the world today, those with no apparent problems with addiction or alcoholism, would do the same. The tough, ego exteriors that people carry around with themselves, in fact champion themselves as ‘strong’ egos, are often the ones with the most layers covering their true self. Buried deep within these people may be lurking similar wounds and mistrust.
I know the world is difficult, there’s way too much violence and hatred, every day. We will not change what others may choose to do in any given moment or day. But, we can choose how we wish to live - how we wish to treat ourselves and others. We can resolve to live healthy, abundant, and caring lives. I have discovered that the more I open up and allow myself to really feel life, the stronger I really am; or better yet, the healthier person I am. Using alcohol or drugs to alter my state of presence and awareness was something I easily fell into. I now always prefer to be whole, to be present, to not harbor secrets, to trust in my own expressions, to trust my own honesty and consequently live fully. Once you finally care for yourself and embrace your true inner being and humanity and let those buried secrets out and breathe, then you can really give to others. Living free with honesty and no deceit or lies is such a wonderful and fulfilling choice to make.