FH000022Jeff spoke at a recovery presentation and said, It’s imperative that addicts “play the tape through.” We tend to remember only the good times when using – those times when we were high and having a blast – but we conveniently overlook the fact that the good times usually ended in car crashes, arrests, lost jobs and broken relationships. We need to remember the consequences of our addiction and not just the exciting times in the middle.

My reaction: Addicts tend to overlook the bad times and not play the tape through, but I, too, was guilty of this. When Jeff was sick and faced with the results of his addiction (legal problems, fines, job losses), I wanted to believe that this time was the magic time when my help would make the difference. If I had played the tape through and remembered that my help (usually money) wasn’t the answer, I would have learned sooner to stay close, but out of the chaos.

Today’s Promise to consider: Life is filled with tough decisions, especially when dealing addiction. When I’m faced with them, I’ll play the tape through. I’ll remember the whole story – the good times and also the consequences. The replay button will help me remember where my actions took me in the first place and where they are likely to take me again.   


Jeff - BKJeff and I were talking about gratitude and he said, Early in my recovery, I was grateful to have had “the gift of desperation” – a state of total surrender and willingness to change at any cost. It happens as a result of hitting rock bottom and realizing true defeat. Most addicts will agree that this is one of the most profound moments in the recovery process.  

My reaction: I had never heard of the Gift of Desperation, but it makes sense to me that in the state of desperation we can be most willing to change. When my life was in good shape (or even in moderately good shape), I wasn’t motivated to do anything differently; however, when my life spun into total chaos – when I hit rock bottom and admitted true defeat – I became ready to do whatever was necessary to change my life.

Today’s Promise to consider: The gift of desperation is always waiting for me, but I don’t have to get to this place in order to do something healthy for myself. Today, I will examine my life in an objective way and, if I need to make changes, I will.     


Jeff helping Jeremy, circa 1980

Jeff helping Jeremy, circa 1980

This weekend, a friend of mine and her son were asked to share their story at a Family Recovery Workshop, and they invited me to attend. I was humbled by the honesty and compassion in the room as they talked about their journey with addiction and recovery. Today the son is eighteen months sober and the mom is a grateful member of Al-Anon where she is finding her own recovery. For all the parents who attended this family session, the mom-and-son team approach recounted both sides of their journey and offered a true and victorious message of hope.

 My reflection: There is a saying in AA, “In order to keep it, you have to give it away.” Families, like this mom and son, are fortunate to have achieved recovery and they maintain it by reaching out to those still suffering. This requires courage for both the recovering addict and the parent. There are many ways to help others (to give it away). The important part is that through sharing our strength and faith, we help others to feel less alone and to find hope.

Today’s Promise for today: I am grateful for all those who held out their hands to help Jeff, Jeremy and me. I am grateful for all those who have the courage to help a brother, sister, parent or friend. I am grateful for people like my friend and her son, who believe that service is an important part of life’s living.




photo-3A mom wrote to me: My son’s bottom was getting shot in a drug deal. He still carries the bullet an inch from his spine, too risky to remove. He has ten months of sobriety and is now living in a sober house. It is all such a blur to me. But I’m grateful. He’s good – today.

My reflection: There is a saying that an addict has to hit his bottom before he finds sobriety. I’ve heard another saying from people in recovery, “Just when I hit my bottom, the bottom fell out.” I watched my son hit many bottoms and, each time, I ran in and helped. Jeff fell to bottoms that I never thought were possible, each of them critical in bringing him to a place where he chose sobriety.

Today’s Promise: If my loved one is good today, I am grateful. If he is not good today, I am grateful he is alive and will keep hopeful, praying that one day he might be healthy again. Whatever the circumstance, I will stay close, pray and believe. Recovery happens one day at a time.



images-1I was talking with a friend, and he told me: There was a time in my life when I described my inner self by a visual representation of a fortress in the middle of a desert. My external self was a fortress, an impenetrable stronghold, guarded by a part of me who walked around the top and watched people approach. Inside the fortress was my internal self where there were hundreds of rooms, each one open, inviting, and filled with beautiful decorations. But there was one room that was locked, bare and lit only by a dull blue flame. This is where the most personal part of me resided: Anxious, pushing up against the door to make sure no one entered. Do you understand that I was afraid to let anyone in that room where the ‘real’ me was? When people came to the fortress, the public part of me – the guard – let them in and accompanied them to certain rooms. They were never free to look around or permitted entrance into the locked room. In time, I learned to open my fortress walls and invite people to look around as they wish. The locked room isn’t bolted shut anymore.

My reaction: As I listened to this visual interpretation of my friend’s concept of self, I was intrigued and touched deeply. The fortress described by this young man was one I knew well because I myself had constructed one in much the same manner. Especially through Jeff’s addiction, I closed up my soul, my joy and my availability and allowed no one to enter the room with the dull blue flame. As I continued to do my work with honesty and toward serenity, my locked room isn’t locked anymore.

Today’s Promise to consider: Maybe we all build metaphorical fortresses in the desert that contain open rooms for our public persona and a locked and guarded room to keep our private selves safe. Though I recognize the need to protect myself, today I will break down the doors of my stronghold and allow others, especially those who love me and are in my support group, to see the real me.