Friday, March 19, 2010

Living Life One Breath At A Time

Today I'm breathing through the moments. Sounds funny I know since in fact we breathe through every moment...In fact, breathing provides the proof of life. But how many times are we conscious in our breathing? focused on it? aware of its in and out, its up and down, its expansion and contraction. The breath when simply watched provides a beautiful metaphor for life. Sometimes it is dramatic and deep, others soft and barely perceivable. But always it is there.

What is your breath like today? Is it fast to represent the fearful thoughts you are thinking? or slow,deep and steady to reflect your sense of deep relaxation? Is it shallowly traveling through your upper chest for awhile and then suddenly sharp to catch up with itself? What does it tell you about how your life is going? Where your thoughts are taking you? What your feelings are showing?


We take it for granted, yet, it is our barometer for living and in Alanon, when a newcomer or an oldcomer gets completely consumed by an upsetting thought, we ask them: How important is it? Does it affect your breathing? (Usually, though it may quicken the breath, the thought doesn't end it) When the newcomer says, 'No, I'm still breathing.' We say, "Then it's not that important.

So often, it is not what is happening in our lives that has the potential to kill us, but the way we are thinking about what is happening.

The mind is a funny thing. We think we are tricking it when we multi-task, but truly, the mind can only think about one thing at a time and so mult-tasking is really one-thing-after-another-only-very-quickly-tasking.

If we choose to, we can slow down our brains and the torrent of thoughts flowing through it by paying attention to our breath. Watch it as it moves in and out.Watch its clarity, its zig zags, its wiggle waggles as it moves into and out of our bodies.

And watch how, when you are paying attention to your breath, your mind is consumed by that and has very little energy if any to pay to whatever anxious thoughts or feelings seemed so very important only seconds ago.

Watch your breath, and when you find you have forgotten, bring your mind back to your breath. It's a practice to strengthen your ability to focus, to relax, to simply BE.

Send me a note to let me know your experience with this practice. Taken together with other inner work it can be truly transformative.

Thanks for reading!

Coach Bev

Beverly Buncher, Family Recovery Coach

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Here Are Some Support Options For Family Members!

Hi All!
In my In the Rooms blog tonight, I wrote about different types of support available for families of addicts. Take a look and see if it is helpful for you! .

Visit me at 12StepFamily and on In The Rooms, the recovery social network.
Coach Bev
Family Recovery Coach

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Recovery is a lifelong journey. As such, sometimes we move straight forward and sometimes, we slide backward for a moment, or hour, or day or two. This past weekend, I had a codependent slip.

I bugged my family members about things I wanted them to do my way and when they asked me to stop, I bugged them some more.

Finally, one of my loved ones said, "I think you are having a codependent slip."

And, because 26 years of Alanon and Naranon and over 30 years of 12 stepping does tend to make one self-aware,  I listened, thought back over my behavior of the past two days, and said, "Wow, you are right!"

Still, it took me another couple of hours to stop pushing my will on the people I love.

This is the nature of recovery. We learn new ways of thinking and being, and as we grow, we use them more and more. But not always and not perfectly. Two steps forward, one step back.

This understanding of my own process is important for me to remember, not only for my own self-acceptance, but also for my ability to live with the addicts in my life in peace. They aren't perfect either. They struggle  with behaviors and feelings related to cravings, substances, abstinence, etc. And I struggle with the behavior of trying to control their struggles with their substances, behaviors, feelings, cravings, etc.

Recently, I read in the book Uppers, Downers and  All Arounders: Physical and Mental Effects of Psychoactive Drugs - 6th Edition -  by Inaba and Cohen (2007. CNS Productions), that the brain of an active codependent reacts similarly to that of a using drug addict. In other words, that Alanon saying "they are addicted to alcohol and we are addicted to them" is more than a slogan. It's a brain thing...

So, what does that mean?

For me today, it's a reminder that my brain needs recovery just as much as the brain of the addict I love. So, one day at a time, it's important that I trust God, clean house, and help others; in other words, work the steps, practice healthy thinking and acting,  and let go of old behaviors and habits!

Have you ever had a codependent slip? Would love to hear about it and how you stepped back into a recovery mode!

Love and All the best,

Recovery Coach Bev

Beverly A. Buncher, MA, CEC
Family Recovery Coach

Would you like to have a complimentary coaching session to see if we would work well together? Drop me an email or contact me on . My name on intherooms is Coach Bev. See you there!

Monday, March 1, 2010

"My Spouse Is Ignoring His Recovery...."

What Do You Do If Your Sober Loved One Seems to Be Losing Their Recovery Bearings?
Sometimes, it's easier to just go along than to notice and observe and comment on what we are seeing. But, when you live with an addict, using or sober, ignoring what you are seeing can prove to be deadly.

It is certainly not effective to nag. But neither is it worthwhile to ignore things the addict in your life may be doing that may be taking them down a dangerous path.

The AA Big Book discusses the way newly sober alcoholics either immerse themselves in their recovery or immerse themselves in their work. Likewise, veterans in recovery can be seen continuing to immerse themselves in taking sponsees through the steps, speaking at meetings and doing service, or just barely making it to a meeting a week as they watch their life in sobriety take off around them, offering them so  many interesting options at work and in the community that they barely seem to have time to deal with recovery activities and service anymore. Others may simply immerse themselves in work and TV watching and leave it at that. At first, these options may seem harmless. But they are not, and the earlier it is addressed the better. So what is a spouse or significant other to do when they see their loved one pulling away from their recovery roots as their life in recovery evolves?

Say what you see, say what you mean, but don't say it mean. In other words, no nagging, bugging, hassling, or harrassing. Instead, mirror what you see. Describe it, noticing the good as well as the troubling, and being aware all the while, that you are not the judge or the police officer in the relationship. Rather, you are the concerned person who loves the addict and is willing to tell them what you see and then LET GO and LET GOD work with them on what all of it means to them, while you then turn back to minding YOUR OWN business.

Should you not be their mirror, or should they ignore or spurn your input, as time goes by, you may notice some of the old behaviors coming back, then some of the old friends, and, before you know it...Well, you know the routine, and it's not pretty. So, it is not your job to be their watchdog, just their mirror, in a detached, loving way. And in case they don't get it, if you have taken care of yourself you will be okay regardless. So don't forget your recovery; spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

Speaking with a sober and clean addict about their recovery has a lot in common with speaking with a using addict in that it is CRUCIAL to drop all judgment, harshness and lack of respect during the conversation. In fact, these types of behaviors will be showing up less and less in your life in general, if you yourself are working a recovery program.

Of course there is one HUGE difference between speaking with a using addict and speaking with a sober one: You now have someone who, if you speak  respectfully and non-judgmentally will likely be able to hear you, may appreciate your concern, and may decide to engage in a civil conversation about this sensitive topic. In addition, they will remember that the conversation happened and may even choose to continue the talk without resentment the next day...

Here's how the conversation might go...
Start with what you are seeing such as...
* lots of fun activities, friends, sporting events, etc (whatever they are engaged in that you notice that is positive
* not so many meetings, phone calls, sponsees, talks with sponsor, etc. (whatever appears to be missing in their life in terms of their program)
* their temper flaring more than it does when they go to meetings regularly
*their paranoia or irritation growing more than it has in all of their years of sobriety
* they are eating more or gambling more (or whatever switched addictive behavior you are noticing)
* some of their old sick friends are beginning to call the house again

Tell them about your concerns such as...
*From what I know about recovery, it is a lifelong journey and those who neglect it can have problems build up and end up in what looks like a sudden relapse that has actually building for years
* when an addict doesn't work some type of recovery program (whether through 12 steps or other venues, including therapy, recovery coaching, smart recovery, spiritual pursuits, or whatever allows them to focus on enhancing recovery in their lives), they might be more liable to switching addictions and/or get slowly lulled into a life that is less than the promises promise them
*or whatever your concerns are (remember, the key is respect and concern and non-judgment. you are two adults discussing a concern rationally)

Let them know that you love them regardless of their choices,  AND that you have boundaries (which they probably are already aware of) such as...
* a sober lifestyle as a prerequisite for the two of you to be together
* the need for addicts who you live with to go to meetings, therapy or a recovery coach (or 2 of the three or all three)
* you put your own recovery first and if you find that the way they are behaving begins to impact negatively on your recovery, you will always share it and if necessary take action to protect your own recovery.
Of course, the key to boundary setting is to NOT say things you don't mean and to be sure not to threaten, only to state facts and to say whatever you say in a loving way that gets your point across in as few words as possible.

So, all of this is just to say that when someone you love is an addict, you have a role to play in their recovery, but it is not the leading role. That is theirs and God's. Your role is to take care of yourself, work your own program and when you see things that concern you, say them lovingly and clearly and then let them go.

There are options for people who say they are burnt out on the steps or the program or are looking for a new way of getting help or renewing themselves. Recovery coaching offers a path of goal setting and action planning that can guide an addict or family member to develop a plan for their life in recovery and have a built in accountability partner to walk the walk with them. It's not an 'instead of' the 12 steps path, but it could be an alternative or a steppingstone for those who feel alienated or alone or bored or complacent on the path they have been following.

As always, the key to our sharing our truth with another person is to share the things we are observing, without judgment and then to let go and live our truth ourselves. Being, not doing, as they say in Naranon, is the most effective way to help another person...and ourselves.

Coming up in future blogs:
  • Detachment: How It Works
  • Life Purpose: The Next Step on the Recovery Path