Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Grace Lost and Found, by Mary Cook.

Excerpt of Book "Grace Lost and Found": From Addictions and Compulsions to Satisfaction and Serenity.
Addictions, Compulsions, and Recovery
Chapter 1

Even if we were born genetically predisposed to addiction and were chronically given drugs and traumatized in our childhood, we are still responsible for our adult livers today and for our recovery. Acting out, hostile dependency, rebellion, and vindictiveness serve only to keep us bound to an unhealthy past and to people who harmed us. Typically, we direct aggression toward those whom we see as responsible for our harm, toward ourselves, toward anyone who at least unconsciously reminds us of our pain and conflicts, including our children. 

Wherever our negative feelings or actions are aimed, recovery urges us to redirect this energy toward resolution. Maintaining negativity toward ourselves deepens our wounds. Maintaining negativity toward others reinforces attachments to problematic behaviors and attitudes. Needing or wanting other to change so that we can heal keeps us stuck in unfulfilled childhood dependency. All of these scenarios recreate familiar pain and problems and we feel increasingly less capable and confident in our lives. 

The Solution is Up to Us 

Not one of the twelve steps tells us to seek amends from others. Recovery relies only on our changing to more mature behavior. Inherent in addiction is avoidance of appropriate responsibility. We court illusions of power through picking up weapons, rather than weeping for lost innocence and protection. We hide pain through alerting perceptions of internal and external reality, rendering us helpless to find solutions. We create false selves from defensive adaptations to dysfunction, and then wonder why we feel so alone and empty. Our relationships reflect impoverishment and degradation. We are dishonest, disloyal, diseased, and devoid of true love and wisdom. We sit on a massive mountain of wreckage waiting for a short dose of counterfeit paradise from a bottle, needle, or pipe. We are in no position to hold others accountable at this stage. We must desperately desire recovery with the same passion with which we pursued drugs. 

The 12 steps are designed to help us recognize our unhealthy patterns from whom and from what experiences they originate. Exploring our early lives in the fourth step yields the most valuable information in this regard. We may learn that our destructiveness to ourselves or others is a response to unhealed abuse or trauma in childhood. Perhaps we married someone who seems cold, critical, and distant like our fathers were. Codependency and controlling behaviors may stem from being over-responsible for an addict parent. Deprivation of important psychological needs may have resulted in compulsive stealing. Childhood sexual molestation can trigger later prostitution. Unhealthy family enmeshment may translate into fear of relationships. Whatever problems we suffered in childhood they were not due to our being impossibly challenging children, nor because we deserved the treatment we received. It is our responsibility, however, to transform dysfunction into new healthy thinking, feeling, and behavior.

Mary Cook is the author of “Grace Lost and Found: From Addictions and Compulsions to Satisfaction and Serenity”, available from Barnes & Noble,, etc. She has 35 years of clinical practice and 29 years of university teaching experience.  She is a national speaker and has a private practice in San Pedro, CA.  Mary is available for telephone and office counseling, guided meditation, speaking engagements and in-service training.

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