I had been chatting with a friend of mine about the issue of ANGER within our recovery path. Especially in early recovery, we tend to be agitated and moody when we are in abstinence from whatever your choice of “poison” is of an addiction. Mine just happened to be gambling and later alcohol abuse.
The alcohol wasn’t the problem after I began to do the work and be educated about addiction in general. Gambling was my crutch of “escapism, numbing out the world, and painful past trauma as a child. And damn, was I ANGRY! I could not believe I had let an addiction of any kind take over life, becoming completely unmanageable in ALL Areas of my life.
Since I am dually diagnosed with emotional and mood disorders while in my first crisis and treatment stay, hell, I was raging with anger! So I wanted to share a 2 part article for a recovery publication that I wrote several years ago about ANGER and some ways to get past it and manage. I hope it helps and will share part 2 later in the week! I also include some of my good friend Marilyn’s “wisdom” as well as she is a retired psychologist who worked in the prison systems in FL and seen ANGER from inmates on an hourly basis. I can just imagine … Lol.
Today we’re living in an angry world, and some of it can rub off on us within recovery causing discomfort, even pain. But anger doesn’t have to be a bad thing when you understand it and know how to make it work for you. Our past doesn’t define who we are today in recovery. Let’s deal with ANGER in general and hopefully, it will help turn your jangled nerves in recovery to move Heartfelt Peace you deserve …
“At the core of all anger is a need that is not being fulfilled.” ~Marshall B. Rosenberg
“The pot of spaghetti slammed into the wall, and I watched my supper run down onto my clean kitchen floor. I stomped my feet on it and then got a hammer and a box of nails to repair the backdoor screen through which I’d just thrown a chair. I already needed to buy a new lamp. The one I threw across the room last week was beyond repair. My husband and I were having another fight about my gambling!”
That was me–way too often–for too of my gambling many years and when repressed anger broke down the dam and gushed through with a mighty force. I know about anger. When I was a child, I was forbidden to show anger, having to be silent about what was happening to me as a child with sexual trauma. But it had to go somewhere, so it seethed inside, and I got good at stuffing it deep within me for years! Waiting until I became an adult and could let it out, uncontrolled and very painful.
Anger is a complex thing. When projected outward, it becomes destructive, sometimes even lethal. It can ruin relationships, careers, even property, as in my outbursts toward whatever inanimate object was within my reach when the monster reared up inside. Society tells us we shouldn’t get angry, and if we do, we should just suck it up. As if stuffing it down somewhere inside is going to dissolve it.
But when anger is repressed, it can cause ulcers, blood pressure imbalance, heart disease, any number of illnesses. On my 30th birthday, I vowed to never have another angry tantrum, but at the same time, my problem gaming turned into a full-blown addiction! But then my anger turned inward had caused my severe depression.
According to Marion Ross in her book, ‘Removing Your Mask’, anger is a specific form of fear at a very deep level, and most anger shows that people’s internal and external realities are not in balance. The real message of anger is almost always about one’s own beliefs, perceptions, or actions in a given situation or with particular people, not the situations or people themselves. P 194-195.
“Where there is anger, there is always pain underneath.” ~Eckhart Tolle
So what causes anger? Where are your causes of pain? What are your addiction roots of underlying issues? FORGIVE YOURSELF …
Sometimes repressed anger will surface without a conscious reason, especially in early recovery. But anger is often your response to a thought, idea or belief that you or others are being treated unfairly or threatened by someone or something–look what they’re doing to me, or that other person–or that you’ve fallen short of your standards for yourself–which in turn give us those feelings of “entitlement” while we are deep in addiction.
These perceptions may be associated with self-esteem issues, needing to feel secure and safe, your own character defects, loss of active addictions in your life, your sense of not caring for others, or something as simple as a need to be right. For some, being wrong means invalidation of self, but being right provides a false sense of power and it’s OK for us to do what we do in our addiction of choice.
When a situation arouses an inner fear, we use anger and perceive anger as a way to deal with a situation, sometimes just to let off steam like throwing a chair through a screen door when a spouse says you have a problem. Some of your perceptions may be accurate, but lashing out in anger is not the answer. Anger is a natural human emotion, and it can kill you or save your life, depending on how you use it. But you must use it wisely for it to work for you instead of against you.
Next week in Part 2, I’ll go into some ways to tame the tiger and put you in control, ways to allow it to help heal your fears and grow in truth for a well-balanced recovery journey.
I wish you a peaceful week in Sobriety!! Below is my new compilation book now on
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YUP! New Year’s Eve is almost here!
Here is how to keep
your Sobriety in TACT!
New Year’s Eve is a big deal for a lot of people with addiction issues. It’s akin to a free-for-all booze fest, and everyone is invited. It’s also one of those holidays that we tend to future trip about, meaning, we worry how we will ever do an NYE event sober. Once you make it through your first, take notice of the bonus points sobriety offers for holidays like this. You will actually remember everything that happened, you won’t wake up and have no idea where you are, you won’t spend New Year’s Day trying to get out of jail, and you won’t be hungover like everyone else. Remember, it gets easier as you go, but you have to keep going. Here are a few tips to stay on your roll:
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“It seems my dear friend and writing partner has been traveling all over to speak and meeting closely with the Gov. of New Jersey for advocating some State Legislation on the reduction of opioid prescriptions from surgeons. “Also about the need to change perceptions and increase the types of other rehabilitation options and treatment, specifically long-term treatment, and the need for more facilities for the uninsured and Medicaid. New Jersey like other states need these changes as well as in and outpatient programs and facilities…but especially my state and the city of Trenton.”
“Inmates with substance-use disorders will soon be moving into the refurbished Mid-State Correctional Facility to participate in New Jersey’s first “treatment prison,” a clinically driven program that Governor Christie hopes will be seen as a national model.” I am so proud of the work Vance is doing.
I can not express enough and while co-writing with Vance, how seasoned a writer his is becoming. I hope this is a little of my help. Lol. I can surely prove this fact by sharing some of Vance’s “Fantastic Facebook Posts from His Heart.” He is so passionate about the work he does to help another recover, reach out to families of addicts and support them, and so much more. It is why his new venture of “Vance Inspires” has taken off!
Vance has traveled all over the country this past summer and early fall to many schools, churches, and speaking engagements and events along with his other employer, “Futures of Palm Beach.” He attended a few recovery vigils and so many more events! It is hard to keep up and get him to one place to continue our book. For me, that’s ok as I know how important his work, voice, and sharing his testimony is for Vance. And why I do the same, just not on the same level as he. I like the work I do throughout social media and by email and phone. SOMEONE needs to be there to answer those!! I also enjoy the quiet solitude of writing. We can help others in so many ways like Vance and I do.
It is how we “pass it on” to those still suffering. It’s what “GOD” has called us to do, our true purpose on this earth. I am the one truly “blessed” to have met and now co-writing with this amazing man. A brother in “Christ” and a person who inspires each day. I do learn so much from Vance and hope he learns from me as well. My husband Tom and I are so happy to have met him, his beautiful wife and kids. It also shows you don’t have to meet a people face to face to cultivate a new faithful friendship.
Especially an intimate one as I learn all about Vance’s life. It has been a “magical writing journey” so far. It takes confidence, trust, and vulnerability on Vance’s part to entrust to me all his deep dark trials. He knows I am his “GateKeeper,” trusted confidant, writer, and I am very protective of him as he knows. I am honored to be able to share some of his life. Just not the deep secrets, you’ll need to read the book when released for those! LOL.
So here are a few FB posts Vance has shared lately and about what he is working on and where he has been…
“The devil tried to destroy your mind, but God is about to give you a Mind Blowing Miracle! #WatchGod.” Connect with Vance Here On Facebook!
Governor Christie and I spoke about breaking stigma when it comes to how most Americans view addicts. We talked about how no one really chooses to grow up and be an addict. Addiction does not discriminate, the enemy doesn’t care if you are black, white, Indian or Asian. Tall, short, skinny or chunky. It doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, famous or not. If you breathe? there is something waiting to make itself more important than everything you say or you love in this world like a Mom, Dad, your kids or marriage, and yes, it can happen even behind bars. The devil is trying to take you out, so wake-up!
Paul in the Bible called himself “the chief of all sinners” and I was the chief of deception because of the lies satan poured into my head from childhood. As you follow my page, you’ve read the papers, so you know my history…there is no way I just woke up and decided to stop, I needed help. God himself heard my cry, and after treatment, listening to people who traveled the road of recovery, I now know why he freed me from the bondage.
We’ve got a big God people, all things are possible through Christ who strengthens me. After an in-depth conversation with the Governor of New Jersey, he invited me to speak at Mid-state Correctional Facility. Inmates with substance-use disorders will soon be moving into the refurbished Mid-State Correctional Facility to participate in New Jersey’s first “treatment prison,” a clinically driven program that Governor Christie hopes will be seen as a national model.
And there is sobriety in that!
LOL…LOL! YES, Vance has a sense of Humor and always a “Method 2 HIS Humor Madness!”
I originally posted here on FB that I would be going live just before I meet with Governor Chris Christie, and his security said “NO” so I told him I had to take his photo to show my FB family who made the decision?
Shhhhh, I’m going to ask The Governor once the meeting starts! — at the NJ Government State Offices Dept.!!
My employer, Futures was kind enough to make me a business football card on the right, showcasing the new and improved sober Vance Johnson. On the left is the new Maxx Sports Entertainment Super Bowl XXI football card coming out soon. A limited 250 were signed. I hope to get both out to those who are football fans and collect cards, as well as those who know someone looking for HOPE.
I loved being an NFL receiver, especially catching those bullets from John Elway in the 80’s and 90’s. Now my it’s about catching lives by offering HOPE to those who seek sobriety.
And there is sobriety in That!
Vance knows who drives his Journey and Has His Spiritual Wheel…
This Post is Why I am Enjoying This Co-writing Journey With Vance”…
Yesterday I flew into Aspen Colorado to help who I will call a former neighbor make a decision to go to rehab. During the height of my addiction, I lived in Westbank, only 15 minutes away from him. On our descent into the Colorado Valley I could see the mountains getting closer and closer, then we disappeared into the clouds, parallel to the mountain tops, I had no idea what was ahead. I never thought I would learn what true faith was at 15 thousand feet descending into and between mountain peaks with no visibility. On occasion, there would be a small opening, snow, and treetops, enough to take a breath only to hold it again. Then the Holy Spirit spoke to me. Now can you see what faith is? I got a clear view of what the Book of Hebrews says “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”…a calm came over me as I yielded to that inner voice, “this is what FAITH is.”
The wind blowing the plane you could almost feel the wings flapping, we started to turn left, then to the right. I had an idea where we were but I felt safe as we bounced across the sky. I thought about how blind I had been before I really knew Christ and all the obstacles in my life that somehow I lived through. I knew he was in charge. I guess that’s what the song means, “Jesus take the wheel”….I actually recorded that last 10 minutes as we dropped, turned, and then bounced between the mountain tops. 7 minutes into our descent we dropped beneath the clouds. I was looking at the Roaring Fork River and could see the ripples going over the rocks. Houses, huge estates, horses, and cars driving up Valley.
When we landed I went to the Avis car rental where I had promised the young lady I spoke with the day before, after learning her cousin was possibly named after me, Vance. I gave her two football cards and signed them to Vance from Vance Johnson.
I’m not deceived anymore, one day at a time. Later that night I got an inbox from Forrest Ball, the pilot that flew the plane, thanking me from the crew. I shared with him most of what you just read and told him he was Peyton Manning to me, flying that plane like he did, making plays. It was the first time I’ve been on the western slope of Colorado sober in 17 years.
And there is sobriety in That!!!
Not only did this post of Vance’s on FB “touch my heart” but it showed me the beautiful spirit he has and the growth in his writing! Great Job Buddy! I hope you all enjoying being a wee bot caught up in our co-writing journey of Vance’s Memoir. YES, our writing challenges are Time and getting him in one place long enough to write. LOL! But he knows like do THE WAIT for all of our readers will be Worth It! XOXO…I am his writer “Gate Keeper” of Recovery Secrets…
Hello, and Welcome Recovery Friends and all Visitors,
It is not often people have the honor of becoming friends with a celebrity, or even a retired former NFL professional. No, that usually doesn’t happen to us “regular folk,” LOL…LOL. But that is some of the beauty of recovery. We meet many people who are not shy about sharing their story and testimony of sobriety. That is what this post is all about! After all, we are all just “humans first and humans in progress” looking for a better way of life from addiction.
So, I have been blessed and honored to meet a wonderful new friend in recovery, but also a brother in “Christ” as well, and he and his wife help MANY reaching to recover from any addiction. I am talking about former NFL Denver Bronco, Vance Johnson and his wife Michelle. Beautiful people with big hearts who make a mission to help others. I came across some POWERFUL videos that Vance has done, and he also works for “Futures of Palm Beach.”
In them, he shares what it took for him to recover, as he did a few unconventional ways to get there. In this first video, he is using Behavioral Health – “Futures of Palm Beach” and their unique brand of psychotherapy and utilizes role-playing exercises, designed to give addiction recovery patients the opportunity to reexamine key episodes of their past through another person’s perspective. VERY powerful stuff!
So please take some time and listen. It is an amazing story and I need to say again, I am happy and blessed to call Vance and Michelle Johnson friends….
“Vance’s Full Story”
Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon ~ Recovery Starts Here!
I WANT YOU TO MEET TWO SPECIAL GUY’S THAT I LUV & ENJOY WHAT THEY BOTH SHARE ABOUT ADDICTION AND RECOVERY!!~~Many of us can learn a lot by reading their personal stories……
First will here from my Pal *Phil* who like me has struggled with Gambling Addiction, and he writes about it SO insightfully. Here is a sample of his latest Blog Post from his blog at:
My Poker Diary – a day in the life of a Poker Gambling Addict. The harmful effects of a gambling addiction that causes physiological and psychological dependencies as well as spiritual deficiencies. My blog is a personal reflection and analysis of both my good days and bad days, as I try to stop and recover from my three-year online and live poker gambling addiction. To responsibly gamble, is to not gamble at all.
I am a compulsive gambler. I love my partner dearly, yet if I choose to gamble, there is nothing in this world that could be said or done to stop me from gambling. So when I hear people ask, “How do I stop my boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife etc. from gambling?” the answer is not what they were hoping for because there is nothing they can do to stop their loved one from gambling, only the addict can change; only the gambler can choose not to lay down another bet.
However, for an addict that choice is never as straight forward as non-addict imagines. A person with an addiction has to fight the addiction constantly in order to try to break free.
Never give a gambler an ultimatum i.e. “Stop gambling or I am going to leave you!” It will never work out, and in the process your heart will be torn to shreds. Never believe a gambling addict’s commitment to stop gambling, because the odds, like at the casino are stacked heavily against them; that doesn’t mean to say they cannot stop gambling, but change requires effort and as creatures of habit people often become accustomed to ritualistic behaviour, which compounds the problem of an addiction. Many a time I have said, “Right, that’s it! I am never going to gamble again!”, only to gamble again, months, weeks but often days later, even sometimes the very next day. You only have to read this blog for an insight into the mind of a compulsive gambler.
The problem is not the act of gambling because a free society should have the right to choose to enjoy a flutter, the problem is with the person who becomes addicted for whatever reason. Anyone regardless of background or status can become addicted and experience a downward spiral; during the slide, gambling provides the addict with far more than a loss or a win it becomes their entire worldly experience; it affects the gambler’s mood, how they feel about themselves, before during and after acting out. A compulsive gambler can lose everything because there are no limits.
If you are serious about your future relationship, my advice is to do what a gambler would never do – cut your losses and run! That is unless you unconditionally love your partner or you are co-dependent. If you are co-dependent go and seek help and resolve your issues. If you love your partner unconditionally be prepared for a roller coaster ride from great heights to ground scraping lows, albeit mainly lows. Think especially hard if you plan on having children as life is tough enough without Daddy or Mummy being a gambling addict.
If however, you want to try and make a relationship with an addict work, start reading everything there is about addiction and understand addiction more than the addict, be prepared to begin a long arduous journey. What you will learn may help you understand what your partner is going through, help raise awareness to things that you have become addicted to in your life and also and most importantly be the support your addictive partner needs albeit they just might not know it.
Try and reach out to other people who are living with an addict in order to extend your support network so you never feel isolated, alone or helpless.
Remember and understand that a gambler does not gamble to hurt you, they gamble because they are addicted nothing more or nothing less. The problem is the person addicted to gambling and not gambling itself. People can and do recover, but I know first hand just how hard that battle is. I consider myself a strong person but the addict within is often stronger.
Here is an extract from my thoughts when my partner was trying to make me stop gambling, she gave me ultimatums, was hostile, screamed at me; did everything to try to make me see the light, but I was always a darkened room with not a glimmer of light. People don’t like being told what to do and addicts despise it. Since then my partner has learned a lot about being an addict and understands how an addict’s magical thinking can lead to degenerate thoughts as a gambler believes their efforts and acts can make a positive difference when in reality it pushes the addict further from themselves and the positivity to which they aspire.
I cannot think straight. My partner does not understand nor respect my simple request, “I need space”. Instead, she attached herself to me and follows me around in an attempt to either try to decode my behaviour or keep an eye on my addiction to preventing me from acting out. The problem is I haven’t gambled recently nor do I want to gamble, and I am proud that I have resisted such urges. However, this distrust causes great hurt.
As a compulsive gambler, I accept responsibility for my actions and I sincerely apologise for the hurt I have caused and continue to cause. I am, however, responsible for my own thoughts, actions and perceptions so I am responsible for tackling my own problem either with the help of others or by myself, should I so choose.
The problem I am experiencing is far greater than gambling as it involves another individual, which similar to gambling, is completely out of my control. Her behaviour is unacceptable as is mine to hers and so this strange push and pull dance takes place. All I really want is space, to be alone for a moment so I can clear my thoughts and I can listen to my inner myself, so I have greater clarity.
Today, it seems that no matter what I say, my thoughts, opinions and reasoning will be counter-attacked, leaving me feeling frustrated and helpless once again. I am damned if I do and damned if I don’t. It was exactly times like these when I felt I had no control over my life and then I would become lost in a world of gambling to escape how I felt. While that urge is certainly a flame burning softly in the back of my mind, I step back to feel the warmth that often overwhelms me, I acknowledge my feelings, and I try to understand what is causing me to feel so anxious in order to accept these moments; for they are sure to be there long after having gambled so to escape is futile……..
***Hello, I am Phil, British, 38 and a Compulsive Gambler. My game of choice, was poker, either live poker or online poker. I am currently writing a gambling addiction diary as I try to break free of this hell. View my complete profile **** Phil’s Blog is: http://poker-gambling-addict.blogspot.co.uk *Diary of a Poker Addict*
***PLEASE MEET MY PAL PAUL****
Paul is a Unique fellow, and I really *ENJOY* his blog. Her is in Sobriety from Alcohol, and he has such Great Sense of Humor!! He is a little about PAUL and a sample of his awesome Recovery Blog at: http://messageinabottleblog.wordpress.com
I am a father, a husband, and a son. I am also a recovered alcoholic. I am 42 yrs old and drank for 25 of those years. I have a sponsor, sponsees, a homegroup and I work the steps outlined in the book Alcoholics Anonymous. I take my recovery seriously, but don’t take myself seriously (remember rule #62!) Hospitals, jail cells, detox and
the asylum(oops, I mean treatment center) brought me to a place of surrender and because of these 12 steps, I have been lifted to a place far better than I could have imagined in my entire life. Carrying the message is my duty and responsibility, which is one of the reasons I started this blog. I am not a representative of AA nor do I speak on their behalf. I am just a garden variety alkie who expresses his opinions and experience here. I wish you the best in your recovery!
I am not a fighter. I don’t know the sensation of what it is like to hit another person in an angry fashion. I don’t know how it is to knock a tooth out , or the feeling of someone’s jawbone crack underneath my knuckles. I have never had to roundhouse kick my way out of a predicament nor have I had the experience of body slamming someone over a parking spot. It’s just not in me. I’m too much of a delicate flower (and coward) for that sort of donnybrook action. I also don’t think violence solves anything – at least that is what the after school TV specials told me when I was growing up. But other than turtling when fists flew my way, I did had one weapon that I was able to use effectively. I had one thing I could wield with sufficient force and precise motion. I had one thing that no one would wrestle out of my hands or force me to lay down. And that was my words.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “sarcasm” derives from ancient Greek for “to tear flesh, gnash the teeth, speak bitterly.” Its first definition is “a sharp, bitter, or cutting expression or remark; a bitter gibe or taunt.” My first foray into the dark arts of sarcasm was rough – I had no real mentor or master to help me along, so I figured it out on my own. Through inflection and body language, tone and delivery, I was able to do what they call “unplain speaking” – saying something in which I mean something entirely different. As a raw rookie, I botched up a few times, and was a little too obvious in my attacks. I started to see that a less obvious approach lessened the chance of the victim to know that they were being attacked. In my twisted little way of thinking, I wanted to hurt them, but not have them know I was doing it. How sick is that? The sharpest blades rarely hurt when they cut. A dull knife hurts when raking against flesh. And like honing a machete against a mill file, my tongue got sharpened on the abrasions of my anger. I learned to cut deep while not seeming to leave a mark. It was ninja-like stuff, and the more flesh I tore, the better I felt about myself. There was something to this, after all.
What made me think of all this is the Cleaning Piece I am doing right now. It’s in keeping a check on myself that I am able to see my old patterns oh so well and alive even today, even after the work I have been doing and in the asking of the Creator to remove these kind of things from me. You see, I was always a wordsmith, a magician of form and syntax, a stealth bomber of insights, my words all wrapped up in delicious fatty layers of sarcasm. I was great at it. Almost too good. I would cut you down without leaving a mark. I would say something that seemed like I was building you up, but really, I was tearing you down. It came off as me being very polite and caring, and yet, I was peeling strips of skin off of you. Raw. And all of that with a glad and earnest look on my face, my intonation high and full of mock enthusiasm.
Disservice with a smile.
I learned early on in my sobriety that sarcasm was a form of anger. I was thrown off by that and had a hard time reconciling the emotion and the action. I mean, I wasn’t that angry of a guy. I’d never been in a tussle of any kind, and I was only trying to be funny when I was sarcastic, wasn’t I? Didn’t people laugh when I would unleash my honey-coated barbs and rapier-like witticisms towards a
targetfriend? Didn’t I get attention and hold court through my dry-as-a-martini humour and wickedly astute observations of others? Isn’t laughter the universal leveler – the healer of all hurts, the medicine for the terminally stuck up and gormless? So why didn’t it feel like anger? Why now was I looking to put away the one thing that made me feel like I had some voice, some shield, some semblance of power in a world that I felt utterly useless and helpless in? How could I defend myself or strike out? The idea was that I didn’t need a weapon anymore, as that I was not at war anymore – I needed to cease fighting.
What I have learned about myself and my old ways of thinking is that my pain and hurt and suffering germinated in how I felt others treated me. My ego told me that I was better than everyone, and at the same time, I was less than everyone. So in the friction of those states was the ripe, heated growing grounds for anger and resentment. And then add in all my fears I had – the dozens, if not hundreds of them, and I could really get upset and full of absolute rage. So rage away I did, and through my passive-aggressive ways, I got part of it out. The rest got drunk. So now having gone through the steps of AA, helping others, trying to be the man I was created to be, and being of service, much of that anger has dissipated. So why is it, while I observe my thoughts of negativity towards others, watching my tongue, do I still have the need to lob little bombs here and there? Why is it that I will watch myself say something that serves no one or no thing, except my ego? Except perhaps to bridle up against nuggets of discontent, of bubbles of disdain. Why do I feel the need to tear down still?
Clearly I still have some work to do.
But this is not about being perfect. This is about moving to a healthier place, of shifting perspective, of growing spiritually, of being of service to my fellow human. I am still learning, I am still trying to foster a teachable mind. My actions follow my thoughts and my thoughts follow my spirit. But there are gaps in there, and my recovery is about closing those gaps, cleaning myself up and strengthening my spirit. I try to lay down the weapon of words of tearing others down, and pick up the instrument of building people up. I have ceased fighting any more.
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