this is for information purposes only. i was kucky enough to attend the Westerns States Literature Convention in 1995 in California and we did do some re-writing of some of the IP phamplets. but please if you are a like me a card carrying member of NA then read this and maybe pass it along to fellow addicts so they know that they to have a voice in what goes on with Na as a whole.
In Recovery 4 Life,
IS THIS AN OUTSIDE ISSUE?
Imagine sitting in a circle and having an NA meeting where the topic was discussion of written recovery material. As the material is being read, all members present have prayed to be used as instruments of a Loving God and listen to the letter and the spirit of the writing. This is a literature review meeting.
Is this outside literature if the subject matter is our written message of recovery? There is a big difference between writing recovery material in a group setting and reading outside literature. How else could our written message be created? We may not have a future is we can’t update our program with new literature. The disease of addiction never slowed down.
Reading, discussing and editing in a group setting after prayer is the basic formula for NA literature, right? Do we hire people to write for us or do we write our message down in groups of members?
THE FELLOWSHIP MAY NOT KNOW
THEY HAVE A RIGHT TO WRITE – SPREAD THE WORD!
UNDERSTAND THIS : WE CAN'T DO IT FOR YOU – ONLY ADDICTS CAN WRITE NA LITERATURE IN OPEN, PARTICIPATORY CONFERENCES. WE HAVE SEEN LITERATURE WRITTEN WITHOUT FULL PROCESSING AND THE CHANGES THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN MADE BY CLEAN ADDICTS WERE LEFT UNDONE IN MATERIAL APPROVED AT THE WSC, WEAKENING OUR WRITTEN PROGRAM OF RECOVERY. ONLY LITERATURE THAT HAS BEEN FULLY PROCESSED BY FELLOWSHIP CAN REALLY BE CALLED "NA APPROVED." – ED
suggested new chapter from Boe B
As addicts, we have all experienced, at one time or another, feelings of
abandonment. A gripping fear that often times places us in a state of
sweat and panic where we are ready to sell our souls, our very lives, to
not experience. This fear appears for many of us to be associated with
what Dr. Daniel Dufour calls the “wounds of abandonment”. It is what
many of us suspect to be near the core of our addiction.
How many of us have sought prying and medication to Aleve ourselves from
the symptoms of our disease? Jealousy, possessiveness, tantrums,
pouting, divorce, marriage, adultery, aloofness, ‘commitment issues’ and
an assorted gamut of other character defects can be associated with our
fear of being abandoned. In the end, many of us have sought refuge
behind temporary the numbing escape that drugs seemed to afford us.
Often times, the consequences to these ‘solutions’ seemed to be just as
Where at times a new drug seemed to bring us comfort, in the end, we
felt betrayed that the relief we believed we had found had somehow
abandoned us. We blamed our dealers, our families, our friends…
ourselves. We consulted with anyone who would hear us desperately hoping
for a new solution.
An addict shares “I have often said that I did not have a drug problem
when I came to NA. I had all kinds of drugs. They just somehow did not
seem to work. What I had was a problem living. I had been through
psychoanalysis and learned a great deal about who I had become and why.
I recall my psychologist at the time suggesting the day might come where
I would choose to quit taking drugs. Naturally, I immediately shrugged
off his suggestion as pure nonsense. Why would I give up what was, in my
opinion, a personal choice that had brought me so much joy? Obviously, I
was not prepared to consider the consequences associated with my ‘chosen
life-style’! It wasn’t until I discovered NA following my last attempted
suicide. That was back in 1986; some twenty–three years ago. It became
clearer and cleared as time went on and abstinence became a new way of
life, as I applied the program and tried to practice NA’s principles in
all of my affairs and to the best of my ability that I began to
understand that what I sought was a way to relieve myself of this
gripping fear of being abandoned by NA.
My process of self-discovery was not unlike that of many others around
me in NA. I got involved, committed for what appeared to be the first
time in my life, to this new way of life that would somehow take care of
everything. I identified with many others in NA trusting anew that
together we could and would “change the world” that had seemingly
abandoned us all. I did this until I once again felt abandoned and
somehow betrayed by our fellowship and by my fellow addicts. I believed
what our literature said and somehow wondered if NA was real or just
another false promise. I had about eleven years of abstinence from all
mood and mind altering substances and somehow no longer seemed to “fit”
into NA. I felt alone and desperate for a solution. Suicide was no
longer an option that I wanted to leave behind me as a legacy for my
children to inherit. I sought comfort in another Twelve Step program
associated with adult children of dysfunctional families and although I
identified with many there, I was unable to find the fellowshipping I
had found in NA yet, I no longer felt understood in NA. I felt betrayed
by others who seemed to justify their character defects with the “I am
an addict and not recovered” argument.
I have always viewed service to NA as a privilege. I do not believe it
is a “right” to serve – although, depending on one’s definition of
“service”, it is. The service I am referring to is as it pertains to our
service structure where members are nominated and elected to “trusted
servant” status. With privilege comes responsibility. My expectations
were such that I felt betrayed by the addicts who were “serving”
alongside of me. I felt abandoned by everyone who mattered and there I
was, abandoning myself to the disease.
The next few years seemed to bring me some relief. I stayed away from
people places and things that I knew would bring me harm. I isolated, in
some manner, staying home, and welcoming all who seemed to show support
for the principles I espoused. I took care of business to the best of my
ability and attended meetings on a very infrequent basis attending when
and where friends were celebrating clean-time anniversaries. I stayed
home listening to speaker tapes of other recovering addicts who were
carrying the message through their experience strength and hope in
practicing NA’s spiritual principles in all of their affairs. Through
their ESH, I knew I wasn’t alone and that somewhere ‘out there’ there NA
existed. The problem appeared to be that I couldn’t find it in my
community or my local fellowship. I could no longer see it in our
I have often been accused of throwing out the baby with the bath water
and that is about what I was doing. “All else is not NA” was a statement
that gnawed at me in that I did not understand that what I had been
doing is seeking comfort from the fellowship’s service structure and
it’s members whereas NA is a way of life soundly based on the spiritual
principles embodied in our Traditions and Steps. I could no longer “do
it” alone. I need to understand and I needed help!
I now understand that in my community, NA was just as ‘new’ as I was
with few addicts having more clean time or experience more than I. NA
did not “come” to my community, we had to “build it”, as best we could
with what we had. We had our Basic Text but few seemed to read it
falling prey instead to the social club mentality that seems to afflict
all of us, new to NA, who seek to relieve ourselves from the fear of
being isolated and alone. But like most drugs, the relief wears off and
we experience the pain of being alone and abandoned and somehow betrayed
“We won’t find it here if we don’t bring it here” is a paraphrase of
something said by Harrison Ford in a movie entitled Six Days and Seven
Nights. NA is pretty much like an island / micro society where spiritual
principles are practiced and learned by other recovering addicts or
addicts seeking recovery but we won’t find them here unless we bring
them here but how do we find them if we don’t see them?
Fear, I have learned, is not a spiritual principle!
My fear had transformed my desire to share into an obsession to “preach”
and left me angered, embittered, isolated and alone on my podium.
Finally, in desperation I reached out toward the authors of some of our
literature and pleaded to be sponsored. To be shown the way!
Amongst the suggestions I was given was one where I was to stop
attacking the problem and to caress the solution practicing the
principles in all of my affairs and to the best of my ability and that
such a practice would create a rippling effect affecting change in those
As a result, I now see where I am not alone and that the feelings of
abandonment instilled in early childhood are being overcome with good
orderly direction and faith.”
Faith that we are not alone
Abandonment issues developed in early childhood have made many us weary
and mistrustful of any sort of direction from others. Many of us have
been lied to and betrayed by people and institutions and their
directions for our lives. These assaults on our integrity as living
human beings and spirits could have done little else and so many of us
sought through hope and good faith for a better way to live – a
direction or solution to our woes all too often to be left experiencing
skepticism and feelings of betrayal all over again. “Nothing replaces
experience like experience” Still, we do the best we can with what we
have until in desperation we seek help or die trying. Hope is the
principle that brings us to the bitter ends of our personal solutions
and our personal ways have seldom given us the lasting satisfactory
results we so desperately seek. Our Second Step tells us “We came to
believe…!” What we “believed” is what got us here in the first place.
That is why Step Two does not say “We believe…” What is it that “we
believe” and why do we believe what we believe? Experience?
Faith in our experience is not so much a question of faith as it is of
trust and of hope. Step Three speaks to us of a decision and tells us
that a “decision without action remains but a thought”. The “faith” we
speak of here is more in line with trusting, in the absence of
experience, that what we undertake will give us the results we seek
providing we do it as directed to do so but “directed” by what or whom?
God, as defined as Good Orderly Direction wherever It comes from and
however one understands it to be!
An addict shares “Just as Hope will ultimately produce trust. Trust in
Good Orderly Direction combined with action will ultimately produce Faith!”
And so we undertake a fearless, searching and moral inventory of where
we were wrong and whom we have harmed as a result of what we believed
and what we have created as a result of what we believed. It is now that
we begin to truly see that Good Orderly Direction has never abandoned us
but that we have abandoned it out of fear and reliance on our own
personal direction. We learn that such were survival mechanisms
established as a result of our experience – real or imagined – and our
Along with God, Step Five invokes another human being and we must
promptly put into practice the faith and trust produced by the previous
Steps, in honestly sharing what we have discovered about our past
experiences and ourselves. What we seek is “oneness”. Integrity and
acceptance is a big part of Step Five as we proceed, onto Step Six,
trusting our interlocutor that we are not alone in our commitment to
fully and willingly commit to have Good Orderly Direction rid us of our
Still, in Step Six, fears sometimes arise bringing to doubt our
commitment and our willingness to be rid of these character defects.
Depending on our degree of faith in our Higher Power, we slumber on
neglecting our spiritual connection until in desperation we once again
renew our faith in the program and surrender to humbly asking the God of
our understanding to humbly remove our shortcoming.
An addict shares “In working through Step Seven, I came to understand
that fear was my biggest shortcoming and that in fact, it was this lack
of faith that gave rise to each and every one of my character defects. I
need to surrender to applying good orderly direction in all I do. This
does not mean that I have to sit and contemplate each and every decision
I undertake before living. I simply mean that I trust that my Higher
Power will be present to guide me in all I do. What I need do is be
attuned to my Higher Power’s direction. Trust my inner voice and humbly
surrender to it! Fear is born between my ears. It is a product of my
rationale. I must distinguish it from prudence; which requires some
rationale. This is not a play on words for where fear paralyses me or
propels me to act irrationally, prudence cautions me to tread carefully.”
Often times fear results from guilt over past wrongs. We need to forgive
ourselves and re-commit to the program and the subsequent Steps if we
are to progress. We must make that list of amends and commit to making
them else we run from ourselves in shame. We humbly ask the God of our
understanding to give us the courage and willingness to just do it. We
seek the help of our sponsor to guide us through this process for we
trust that we are not alone.
An addict shares “I knew I had amends to make but did not know how. At
one point, years ago, I had threatened the mother of my youngest child.
The consequences were suffered by our child and everyone concerned,
including myself. Experience had shown me that it would be imprudent to
trust that she would be any less manipulative, deceitful or malicious in
our relationship. Others, including my sponsor saw her as being spiteful
and malicious. What could I do to repair or restore honor to the mother
of my child? Nothing! I could however, restore my honor by being an
attentive and nurturing father. As our child gets older my contacts with
his mother are infrequent and I no longer give her the opportunity to
attack me. Our son, however, is left to deal with his mother. Thank God
he at least knows his father is there as a refuge. My sponsor tells me
that it would be un-wise for me to insist on making direct amends to
her. I wish her well for is she is happy, our son benefits.”
It is vitally important for us to rely on an outside source. Someone who
has no vested interest in our success or our failure! Some have sought
professional help in this regard only to be betrayed by their personal
financial self-interest. Our experience has shown that we are best
served when this source is loving and caring. The important thing here
is to trust! We need do this, not because we are absolutely incapable of
making any rational decisions but because we need exercise prudence in
mirroring our intentions with our actions. People who have experienced
abandonment issues seem to have great difficulty in trusting anyone and
so for many this becomes a leap of faith and requires action; sometimes
beyond our self-centered will. Courage appears to be the key here.
An addict shares: “When I had approximately three years clean, I knew it
was time to make amends to my mother. For background purposes, she had
abandoned me in early childhood and had turned me over to her parents
for adoption. She had literally abandoned me to the “care” of her
violent and possibly psychotic mother. Years later, after the death of
my grandmother, my mother tried to reclaim me from my grandfather. I was
eleven at the time and would have no part of it. In my rebellion, I had
shut her out of my life – and suffered the consequences through
addictive behavior (drug abuse, etc) I sought through every means
possible that an addict would use to get his needs met. My need was to
be acknowledged and loved by my mother. I wanted to show her the boy she
had abandoned was free and independent. I sought through both
delinquency and professional success to show her that I was free and did
not need her. I abandoned her for what she had done. All of this
appeared ‘normal’ but kept me from establishing lasting functional
relationships. Our parents are our source. They gave us life! They are a
part of who we are and have become either through our actions or
reactions. True freedom was gained when I chose to cease being
reactionary. What I knew I needed to do was to set things right. My
sponsor had suggested I leave it be and that if I needed to make direct
amends, God would set the stage. Still, the time came when I felt it was
time. I managed to get her phone number and called. Naturally I was
screened by one of my half sisters as to what my intentions were and I
suppose I had that coming but with the Serenity Prayer at heart, I
managed to set up a time to meet with my mother. It was then that my
sister informed me that our mother had cancer but was in remission and
that she, my sister, did not want ‘her mother’ to be upset. Still, an
‘appointment’ was arranged for me to meet with my mother.
When we met, I explained to my mother why I had behaved the way I had
and where it let me. I closed by telling her that I loved her and that I
needed to love her. Her response, although disturbing was hers. She was
incapable to say that she loved me. She seemed incapable of telling
anyone she loved them. That was ‘her’ problem and I no longer needed to
make it mine. I was not there for her to tell me she loved me, I was
there to show her that I loved her.
Two months later, and for the first time ever, she celebrated my
birthday giving me a gift and adding that it was given with love; I
still get teary eyed when I look back to that moment.
She passed away some six months later but before she did, I would visit
her on a weekly basis. She would often times dream up jobs for me to do
around her house as these gave her an opportunity to spend some time
with me and as a result, I am now able to have a relationship with my
sisters and they have an opportunity to know and enjoy my children and
for that I am grateful.”
Abandonment issues seem to ring constantly with recovering addicts but
thanks to Step work and a relationship with our sponsors and Faith in
good orderly direction, we seem to overcome them setting ourselves free
from our pasts.
Vigilance in applying the Steps, and Traditions appears to set us up to
recover, live and enjoy life on an ongoing basis. We need practice
vigilance in our daily inventories so as to not run astray from who we
are as addicts. We also need to keep searching through prayer and
meditation for that conscious contact with our loving Higher power whom
some choose to call God seeking only to know His or It’s will for us and
the power to carry it out.
Those of us who have been or felt abandoned need to exercise vigilance
in this regard else they be doomed to ‘abandon’ themselves to their disease.
An addict shares: “ I still often forget to stop and listen for that
gentle inner voice that brings me peace and well being. I sometimes
wonder if I my abandonment issues are almost genetically ingrained; and
perhaps they are. Still, what is most important is that I remember that
I must not abandon myself to the disease. I must now surrender to my