Last week we received a letter we especially wanted to share with you. Our friend in Australia has granted us permission to reprint excerpts and we hope you appreciate his words and perspectives as much as we do.
Dear Ed and Mary Ellen,
With the help of your ideas and practices and similar ones that I researched, last year I was able to help my former partner to regain her self-confidence and independence after an historic alcohol binge, a real epic.
I just thought you might like to know that she is continuing to travel really well without drinking at all. For me, and I’m sure now
for her, the essential breakthrough was seeing the idiocy and destructiveness of the AA and 12-step approach – powerlessness,
disease, one day at a time, a lifetime of degradation, and, of course, the planned and expected “relapses.”
No surprise to you that within a day of her returning to her job, around to the workplace came the so-called AA sponsor, from the days when she felt that there was nowhere else to go and no other help available. His smug prediction to her – you will fail unless you return to AA and stay there.
I suggested the she tell him it was “shoot your sponsor” week and tell him to high-tail it or eat hot lead.
She did, and has now successfully regained sovereignty over her life. She is free, not thanks to the almighty or any “higher power” but through regaining confidence in her own power to decide, her freedom to choose not to drink, and, to keep and cultivate all the achievements in her life – her career, friends, activities, travel, reading, simple joys and satisfactions – not to forget her much-loved cat.
He, of course, does not judge my friend, but is intensely concerned about what’s for dinner. More than anyone in her life, he needs his human to be organised, clear and concentrating – visiting the supermarket cat food section and making the choices that he has communicated to her he wants made.
From time to time, I send my friend some excerpts from your newsletters, to keep her encouraged and supported and on track,
I know she doesn’t want me to focus too much on that past mistake, but a little reinforcement doesn’t hurt, I hope, especially when there may still be some “sponsors” lurking around who have not yet been gunned down by free and independent people like us.
I have also found great support and insight for my friend, and for me, from the early Greek philosopher Epictetus, especially in the
simple summary of his work called the Enchiridion, translated into English as the Handbook or Manual. I’m sure you know him. One of his great insights is teaching us to know what is “up to us” and what is “not up to us.” What do we have power over? His conclusion is that we mainly have power only over our reaction to events, not over the events themselves. So we should concentrate on cultivating our minds and spirits, on preserving and extending our independence of mind, our freedom to think and act according to our values and priorities and goals.
You would of course also know that Epictetus was a big influence on Albert Ellis in Ellis’ formulation of the Rational Emotive Therapy which led to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. To my limited knowledge, this is one of the most effective forms used today. As I understand it, this is also about straightening out one’s thinking and acting freely and independently in pursuit of sensible goals.
I hope the Ed and Mary Ellen empire is powering on to ever greater success.
Thanks again for your generous help last year and your kind offer to call you. One day I would like to do that – if only to hear the
voices that I have only read so far in your newsletter and on your website.
Cheers and warm wishes,
Pretty Hard To Follow That So…..
We’re not going to try. Instead, we’ll fall back on another helpful saying we can all stand to practice when we decide it’s time for a
“Just do it!”
Nothing kills us and our lives as effectively as procrastination. It’s what keeps us in the crab pot; or among Thoreau’s “living
lives of quiet desperation;” or going to endless meetings of whiners. Anything to avoid responsibility, or actually doing
something to change our lives.
But it’s the only life you or I or anyone else gets and most of us will get out of it about what we put into it.
A friend once said that she wasn’t about to end her life with a “million regrets that didn’t add up to a single decent remorse.”
Translated? She’d much prefer to be sorry for what she’d done rather than what she hadn’t if those were the choices. Of course she ended up being fairly happy about what she had done – even the disasters, because she had created them by DOING STUFF! Not by avoiding doing stuff.
Remember the Guru: The meaning of life is “doing stuff” as opposed to death which is “not doing stuff.”
Don’t kill yourself off early with too much numbing alcohol, or even more life rejecting “recovery.”
Instead, please, get engaged in your own life and see where it leads. We promise it’ll be a lot more interesting than the bottom
of a bottle.
Dr. Mary Ellen Barnes & Dr. Edward Wilson
Call Toll Free 888-541-6350
(In Los Angeles or From Alaska: 310-541-6350)
Once again this week we’re plugging Smart Recovery for those who are looking for an alternative support group that isn’t a cult, isn’t forever, and that pretty much follows the same philosophy and research base we do. We like it well enough to host a Monday evening group, and we almost never endorse groups centered on drugs and alcohol.
But Smart Recovery is centered around getting a life. We endorse that. Outside the U.S.A. check out:
Or – sign into Smart Recovery Online
OR!!! Start your own!
Okay, Okay – no more endorsements for awhile.
But please! Always feel free to call – for information or just to talk. One of us answers the phone personally from 8:00 a.m. –
8:00 p.m., Pacific Daylight Time, Monday – Thursday, unless we are with clients, or from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Friday, Saturday,
Toll Free From the Lower 48 or Canada: 888-541-6350
In Los Angeles, or from Alaska: 310-541-6350