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The Lifelong Quest For Sobriety…The Ultimate Hero’s Journey—Part 59

Guest Blogger and long-time Council friend, Bob W. presents Part 59 of a series dealing with Alcoholism and Addiction from a Mystical, Mythological Perspective, reflecting Bob’s scholarly work as a Ph.D. in mythological studies.

For those of us who have achieved a certain level of committed sobriety, i.e., multiple years of living and working actively in the Fellowships of AA and its sister programs, we begin to find ourselves moving into a realm of peace and serenity that seems other worldly. We still must face the normal struggles of life and we experience crises and trauma with friends and family that challenge our sense of presence, but there is a growing calm in all of it.  We have learned that staying in the here and now of today, avoiding the tendency to obsess about outcomes, gives us an inner peace and a power to face the world with grace and resolution.

The journey to this state, for each of us, was as mythic as all the great stories of literature and history. At the depths of our bottoms, we may have felt like Edmund Dantes in the dungeons of Chateau d’If, in The Count of Monte Cristo…alone, cold and dissolute in the deep recesses of that dreaded island prison in the Bay of Marseilles.  The feeling of hopelessness, doom and isolation was overwhelming.  As in the story, fellows like Abbe Faria, a fellow prisoner for Dantes, may have given us a process to begin the journey of relief.  Also like Dantes, the journey may have been long; our own “rocketing into the Fourth Dimension” may have progressed much less like a rocket than a speed akin to the Lexington Avenue Local.

The working of the Steps, the constant renewal of self-examination, a continual reinforcement of the focus on a Higher Power, and an untiring commitment to service elevate our personal psyches to an unusual extent.  We begin to feel, slowly and purposefully, a deep need to focus on service, service to all things and to all people, service that is an unflinching, almost unconscious, process attending each and everyone one of our daily waking moments.

I have come to see this evolving state of consciousness to be an unusual spiritual presence, one that speaks to a new and enlightened way of being in the world, for all of us, individually and collectively.  To have come from those terribly dark and hopeless places of our disease, to work along a journey of love and commitment, to and from our fellows in the programs, in our journey to sobriety, and then to arrive at a point where uncompromising and selfless service becomes the primary focus of our lives, is truly mythic…and maybe it is so deeply mythic that it begins to defy imagination.

Our alcoholism may have provided us with a “dark portal” to a life that will take generations for all of us to fully understand.

As Addiction Boils Over, Expert Advice for Saving Your Kids’ Lives

The opioid epidemic is boiling over. Addiction, including alcoholism, is killing hundreds of thousands and destroying millions of lives. Especially tragic is addiction’s ravaging effects on teenagers and young adults. Their developing brains are being chemically altered by drugs and alcohol. That’s creating a whole new generation who will suffer from addiction. Many will die. Parents everywhere are looking for solutions to save their kids. They are desperately seeking an understanding of how and why addiction occurs. But more importantly, what can be done right now to save their children’s lives? We take you inside the problem and shine light on immediate and effective solutions. We talk with Lori Fiester, a highly-regarded clinical therapist and well-known mental health and addiction expert. She has helped thousands through her knowledge, compassion, and commitment in the field of recovery. By the end of this podcast, you will have the information, ideas, and inspiration you need to help save the lives of people you love….Or maybe your own.

Council Podcast Launched!

The Council on Recovery Podcast with Howard Lester

The Council on Recovery Podcast, with host Howard Lester, explores the diseases of alcoholism, drug abuse, other addictions, and co-occurring mental health disorders by looking at prevention, education, treatment, and recovery. Through deep and meaningful interviews, we cover every point of view by talking with doctors, educators, researchers, therapists, judges, policymakers, clergy, law enforcement, rehab and mental health professionals, the media, and most importantly, people in recovery.  This long-needed approach brings everyone together for frank discussion of the problems and the sharing of realistic, viable solutions that inspire optimism and hope.

Episode 1 | One Father’s Nightmare: His Daughter’s Life-and-Death Struggle with Addiction

Howard interviews Bob C. who shares his extraordinary story of a father’s incredible efforts to save his daughter’s life during her 15 year odyssey with drug addiction and mental illness. At times, he thought he’d lost her. But he also realized that desperately trying to save his daughter might just kill him. With other family tragedies swirling around him at the same time, he somehow found the solutions for staying alive and helping his daughter survive. One man’s quest for the answers that parents all over are searching for.

Episode 2 | Unspoken Legacy: Claudia Black on the Destructive Impact of Trauma and Addiction within the Family

Howard’s sits down with Dr. Claudia Black, a senior fellow at Meadows Behavioral Healthcare. Claudia is a Ph.D. in Social Psychology who is internationally known and respected for her pioneering and contemporary work with family systems and addictive disorders. Claudia’s cutting-edge work was instrumental in creating the solid foundation for the entire field of codependency. Since the mid-1970s, she’s been a passionate leader in the field of addiction and has helped the world gain a greater understanding of the impact of family trauma and its connection with addiction. Claudia designs and presents training workshops and seminars to professional audiences in the field of family service, mental health, and addictive disorders. She has authored fifteen books, most notably Intimate Treason, It Will Never Happen to Me, and her latest, Unspoken Legacy. Claudia is also Clinical Architect for the Claudia Black Young Adult Center at The Meadows Treatment Center in Arizona.

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There are many ways to download and subscribe to The Council on Recovery Podcast, including at Apple Podcasts, Android, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. For more information about how to subscribe and download, please just visit the Podcast page of our website.

Unspoken Legacy: Claudia Black on the Destructive Impact of Trauma and Addiction within the Family

Dr. Claudia Black, one of the world’s leading experts on family systems and addiction, reveals the startling connection between the psychological injuries experienced in childhood and the long-term trauma and addictive disorders that are destroying families everywhere. In this in-depth interview, Dr. Black discusses how trauma and addiction literally change the brain, and why the unspoken effects of these conditions can reverberate for generations, uprooting family trees and perpetuating both shame and denial. But, recovery from trauma and addiction is possible, and Dr. Black illuminates a simple, yet powerful and effective process for both healing and creating a new narrative for living. This podcast coincides with the release of Claudia Black’s 16th book, ‘Unspoken Legacy’, a far-ranging examination of how the combination of addiction and trauma causes family dysfunction and why it’s one of the most potent negative forces in people’s lives. Filled with vignettes highlighting the various causes of trauma, ‘Unspoken Legacy’ helps readers understand the physiology and psychology of trauma and how it intersects with addition. The second half of the book covers the vital process for self-examination, and gives readers proactive steps for healing, recovery, and building healthier relationships.

The Lifelong Quest For Sobriety…The Ultimate Hero’s Journey—Part 58

Guest Blogger and long-time Council friend, Bob W. presents Part 58 of a series dealing with Alcoholism and Addiction from a Mystical, Mythological Perspective, reflecting Bob’s scholarly work as a Ph.D. in mythological studies.

In 1861, at the outset of the Civil War, poetess Julia Ward Howe penned the lyrics to The Battle Hymn of the Republic, to the tune of the earlier work, John Brown’s Body. Both were part of the Abolitionist movement, which had been trying for past decades to bring an end to Slavery in America. The initial stanza to Howe’s rendition is as follows:

Mine eyes have seen the Glory of the coming of the Lord.

He is trampling out the Vintage where the Grapes of Wrath are stored.

He has loosed the fateful Lightening of his terrible swift Sword.

His Truth is marching on…

In my view, the idea of the “grapes of wrath” in this song could be seen as the need for retribution against the institution of slavery, a deep felt sense that is coming forth into the consciousness of the people of America in a manner similar to that of a vintner bringing forth the sweetness of a wine by the crushing of grapes.  The virulence of this song and of Howe’s expressed opposition to slavery parallels the intensity that gripped the nation in the lead-up to the Civil War.  

Interestingly, John Steinbeck used these same words as the title of his 1939 Pulitzer Prize winning book about the plight of the “Okie” migrants from the Plains’ states to California, in the aftermath of the devastation of the Dust Bowl in the 1930’s.  I would see his vision as that of equating the “grapes of wrath” with the need to address the deplorable conditions imposed on these migrants in their flight from the Plains and their efforts to find a place of “home” in the wine and agricultural regions of California.  It is clear to many that Steinbeck thought just about as negatively toward the banks that he believed forced the Okies off their farms and out of the Plains and toward the large corporate farming companies and vintners that exploited them as migrant workers in California, just about as strongly as Howe and others might have thought of the institutionalized system of Slavery in America.

There is another parallel here for me.  Would it not seem logical to see our despicable behavior in the depths of our drinking and using as something similar to the “grapes of wrath.” How we behaved with the world around us, the pain and trauma we created for those we otherwise really did love, could be seen as negatively as Howe and Steinbeck saw their themes. To get sober and develop a sustainable life of sobriety, we had to trample those grapes, those legions of behavior, and repair the devastation that they created.  The fascinating play of the words of “vintage” and “grapes” and the volume of wine and spirits that attended our lives in our disease adds another fascinating element of synchronicity here.  We had to work to allow the authenticity of our inner most selves to emerge as wine does from the trampling of grapes.

How wonderful it is today that, as we work diligently to build a life in Sobriety and to allow the Truth of who and what we really are to fully develop, we are working for our own indomitable Truth to be “marching on…’

One Father’s Nightmare: His Daughter’s Life-and-Death Struggle with Addiction

In our premier episode, our guest, Bob C., shares an extraordinary story of his amazing efforts to save his daughter’s life during her 15 year odyssey with drug addiction and mental illness. At times, he thought he had lost her. But he also realized that desperately trying to save his daughter might just kill him. With other family tragedies swirling around him at the same time, he somehow found the solutions for staying alive and helping his daughter survive.  Bob’s hard-fought quest for understanding and answers is both inspirational and informative. It’s something every parent should hear.