A lot of the work I do at the recovery center centers around spirituality. One really cannot do 12-Step work without touching on the subject. To some, this is a turn-off. They feel it suggests that they, somehow, have to be religious or firmly rooted in a particular spiritual practice. When I tell them this is not the case, it is often met with disbelief. At the very least, a touch of understandable suspicion.
Expanding on the topic, I inform my clients that ‘spirituality’ can look many different ways. It has nothing to do with men dressed in robes, tending holy altars, or even God for that matter. It’s about developing a relationship with something bigger than oneself, outside of oneself. It ensures that even during the most challenging of times that one is not alone. Usually, at this point, I see some of the ambivalence start to dissipate.
I was never a staunch advocate of 12-Step programs before I started working in the field for this very reason. I believe in “God, as I know him”, though I never considered myself a religious type of guy. The thought of dragging the Lord Almighty into my illicit behavior (way back when) seemed ridiculous, a waste of time. To be blunt, I had never felt He was a dynamic factor in my life. There always seemed to be a lack of participation on His part, actually. Not true, of course. But, this was a classic ‘trap’ set for me by both, my ego and my addictive brain.
The 12-Steps is a process that serves as a guide to exit the chaos of living in addiction. However, said process also brings awareness to the spiritual and collateral resources that exist outside one’s own ego-driven, self-centric consciousness. If one doesn’t focus on their Higher Power, which includes their Higher Self (an unattainable aspiration but continually striven for), they focus on the people around them, those they impact by their use, utilize as support during their recovery, and will help in the future. At no point during the 12-Step process is one encouraged to attack sobriety on their own or ‘man-up’ and get their addiction under control. For most, such an approach is tantamount to treatment failure.
Thoughts like “I got this” or “I can stop anytime I want” are symptomatic of someone who has not embraced the idea of ‘powerlessness’. Nor are they likely aware of the magnitude of addiction and the death-grip it has on many of our lives. Yes, ultimately, we all have the choice whether to use or not. Once the drug (including alcohol) enters the body of someone, who is dependent, however, all choice goes out the window. Addiction takes over, we lose control of our minds and bodies, and our lives become unmanageable. I learned that lesson the hard way. Being a hard-headed Aries, I lost everything three times over during my lifetime. I was even marginally homeless for a spell. Never again.
Maybe, I did feel that ‘God’ had abandoned me. But, that doesn’t mean He (or something) wasn’t there the whole time. I couldn’t see Him (or it) because I was looking in the wrong direction. Cocaine had become my new Higher Power (my God), one that had no interest in the salvation of my soul.
Many a time I prayed for my addiction issues to go away. I wanted to wake up free and clear of the negative impulses that had systematically dismantled my life. Of course, when things didn’t change and I fell further and further into the abyss of my own making, blaming ‘God’ for not helping or caring. Again, the addictive brain is a tricky bastard.
I have learned through my work with clients that I was asking for the wrong things. My Higher Power wouldn’t just absolve me from all accountability for my actions by totally removing such an obstacle from my life, free and clear. Where is the growth in that? If anything, I needed to ask for the strength and the guidance to find my way out and maintain a stable life, one of sobriety. I don’t recall ever doing so, but the tools I needed to pull myself out of the murk did enter my life at just the right time (Higher Powers roll like that).
I stumbled upon a Kabbalah study group at some point, which piqued my interest. As I explored that further, I found that much of the work centered around personal accountability, the surrendering of ego, and maintaining a sense of certainty that positive change could occur, would occur. In short supply of all these things, I found myself hooked (pardon the pun).
Apart from all the amazing tools Kabbalah had provided me, I also learned about the core issue that had driven most of my behaviors for the majority of my life, which was fear. Reflecting, I realized that much of my drug use connected to the massive amounts of fear and anxiety that I had carried within me since adolescence. Once I dealt with that, empowering myself further, I could finally take a good hard look at the distance between my Higher Self and the person that I had become, which—in essence—was the distance between me and the Divine. Only then could I plot the necessary course to make the chasm between us less scary.
Throughout my life, as challenging as it has been, I came to doubt, even become blind to, my own light. I turned to cocaine in an attempt to create some, where I thought none existed, but it was all an illusion. That is what I tell my clients at the recovery center. The only ‘real’ high exists when we connect to the divine spark within us, surrendering to it, with the certainty that, together, we can do almost anything.
What’s Next? Talk with others. Take action.
We are proud of our SOCIAL INTEREST GROUPS—WEEKLY PHONE CALLS to discuss, gain insights, build communities— and help solve some of the most difficult challenges the world has today. Calls are for Members Only (although you can join the first call for free). Not yet a member of The Good Men Project? Join below!
Join the Conscious Intersectionality FACEBOOK GROUP here. Includes our new call series on Human Rights.
Join The Good Men Project Community
All levels get to view The Good Men Project site AD-FREE. The $50 Platinum Level is an ALL-ACCESS PASS—join as many groups and classes as you want for the entire year. The $25 Gold Level gives you access to any ONE Social Interest Group and ONE Class–and other benefits listed below the form. Or…for $12, join as a Bronze Member and support our mission, and have a great ad-free viewing experience.
Register New Account
Please note: If you are already a writer/contributor at The Good Men Project, log in here before registering. (Request a new password if needed).
ANNUAL PLATINUM membership ($50 per year) includes:
1. AN ALL ACCESS PASS — Join ANY and ALL of our weekly calls, Social Interest Groups, classes, workshops, and private Facebook groups. We have at least one group phone call or online class every day of the week.
2. See the website with no ads when logged in!
3. MEMBER commenting badge.
ANNUAL GOLD membership ($25 per year) includes all the benefits above — but only ONE Weekly Social Interest Group and ONE class.
ANNUAL BRONZE membership ($12 per year) is great if you are not ready to join the full conversation but want to support our mission anyway. You’ll still get a BRONZE commenting badge, and you can pop into any of our weekly Friday Calls with the Publisher when you have time. This is for people who believe—like we do—that this conversation about men and changing roles and goodness in the 21st century is one of the most important conversations you can have today.
We have pioneered the largest worldwide conversation about what it means to be a good man in the 21st century. Your support of our work is inspiring and invaluable.
Photo credit: By Sergey [email protected]