Acceptance – Bill W (Co-founder, AA)
Bill W wrote a beautiful piece on acceptance in the book ‘Language of the Heart’ (March 1962):
ONE way to get at the meaning of the principle of acceptance is to meditate upon it in the context of AA’s much used prayer, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Essentially this is to ask for the resources of Grace by which we may make spiritual progress under all conditions. Greatly emphasized in this wonderful prayer is a need for the kind of wisdom that discriminates between the possible and the impossible. We shall also see that life’s formidable array of pains and problems will require many different degrees of acceptance as we try to apply this valued principle.
Sometimes we have to find the right kind of acceptance for each day. Sometimes we need to develop acceptance for what may come to pass tomorrow, and yet again we shall have to accept a condition that may never change. Then, too, there frequently has to be a right and realistic acceptance of grievous flaws within ourselves and serious faults within those about us–defects that may not be fully remedied for years, if ever.
All of us will encounter failures, some retrievable and some not. We shall often meet with defeat–sometimes by accident, sometimes self-inflicted, and at still other times dealt to us by the injustice and violence of other people. Most of us will meet up with some degree of worldly success, and here the problem of the right kind of acceptance will be really difficult. Then there will be illness and death. How indeed shall we be able to accept all these?
It is always worthwhile to consider how grossly that good word acceptance can be misused. It can be warped to justify nearly every brand of weakness, nonsense and folly. For instance, we can “accept” failure as a chronic condition, forever without profit or remedy. We can “accept” worldly success pridefully, as something wholly of our own making. We can also “accept” illness and death as certain evidence of a hostile and godless universe. With these twistings of acceptance, we AAs have had vast experience. Hence we constantly try to remind ourselves that these perversions of acceptance are just gimmicks for excuse-making: a losing game at which we are, or at least have been, the world’s champions.
This is why we treasure our “Serenity Prayer” so much. It brings a new light to us that can dissipate our old-time and nearly fatal habit of fooling ourselves. In the radiance of this prayer we see that defeat, rightly accepted, need be no disaster. We now know that we do not have to run away, nor ought we to again try to overcome adversity by still another bull-dozing power drive that can only push up obstacles before us faster than they can be taken down.
On entering AA, we become the beneficiaries of a very different experience. Our new way of staying sober is literally founded upon the proposition that “Of ourselves, we are nothing, the Father doeth the works.” In Steps One and Two of our recovery program, these ideas are specifically spelled out: “We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol . . . that our lives had become unmanageable”–”Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” We couldn’t lick alcohol with our own remaining resources and so we accepted the further fact that dependence upon a Higher Power (if only our AA group) could do this hither-to impossible job. The moment we were able to fully accept these facts, our release from the alcohol compulsion had begun. For most of us this pair of acceptances had required a lot of exertion to achieve. Our whole treasured philosophy of self-sufficiency had to be cast aside. This had not been done with old-fashioned will power; it was instead a matter of developing the willingness to accept these new facts of living. We neither ran nor fought. But accept we did. And then we were free. There had been no irretrievable disaster.
This kind of acceptance and faith is capable of producing 100 per cent sobriety. In fact it usually does; and it must, else we could have no life at all. But the moment we carry these attitudes into our emotional problems, we find that only relative results are possible. Nobody can, for example, become completely free from fear, anger and pride. Hence in this life we shall attain nothing like perfect humility and love. So we shall have to settle, respecting most of our problems, for a very gradual progress, punctuated sometimes by heavy setbacks. Our old-time attitudes of “all or nothing” will have to be abandoned.
Therefore our very first problem is to accept our present circumstances as they are, ourselves as we are, and the people about us as they are. This is to adopt a realistic humility without which no genuine advance can even begin. Again and again, we shall need to return to that unflattering point of departure. This is an exercise in acceptance that we can profitably practice every day of our lives. Provided we strenuously avoid turning these realistic surveys of the facts of life into unrealistic alibis for apathy or defeatism, they can be the sure foundation upon which increased emotional health and therefore spiritual progress can be built. At least this seems to be my own experience.
Another exercise that I practice is to try for a full inventory of my blessings and then for a right acceptance of the many gifts that are mine–both temporal and spiritual. Here I try to achieve a state of joyful gratitude. When such a brand of gratitude is repeatedly affirmed and pondered, it can finally displace the natural tendency to congratulate myself on whatever progress I may have been enabled to make in some areas of living. I try hard to hold fast to the truth that a full and thankful heart cannot entertain great conceits. When brimming with gratitude, one’s heart-beat must surely result in outgoing love, the finest emotion that we can ever know.
In times of very rough going, the grateful acceptance of my blessings, oft repeated, can also bring me some of the serenity of which our AA prayer speaks. Whenever I fall under acute pressures I lengthen my daily walks and slowly repeat our Serenity Prayer in rhythm to my steps and breathing. If I feel that my pain has in part been occasioned by others, I try to repeat, “God grant me the serenity to love their best, and never fear their worst.” This benign healing process of repetition, sometimes necessary to persist with for days, has seldom failed to restore me to at least a workable emotional balance and perspective.
Another helpful step is to steadfastly affirm the understanding that pain can bring. Indeed pain is one of our greatest teachers. Though I still find it difficult to accept today’s pain and anxiety with any great degree of serenity–as those more advanced in the spiritual life seem able to do–I can, if I try hard, give thanks for present pain nevertheless. I find the willingness to do this by contemplating the lessons learned from past suffering–lessons which have led to the blessings I now enjoy. I can remember, if I insist, how the agonies of alcoholism, the pain of rebellion and thwarted pride, have often led me to God’s Grace, and so to a new freedom. So, as I walk along, I repeat still other phrases such as these, “Pain is the touchstone of progress”. . .”Fear no evil”. . .”This, too, will pass”. . .”This experience can be turned to benefit”. . . .
These fragments of prayer bring far more than mere comfort. They keep me on the track of right acceptance; they break up my compulsive themes of guilt, depression, rebellion and pride; and sometimes they endow me with the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
To those who never have given these potent exercises in acceptance a real workout, I recommend them highly the next time the heat is on. Or, for that matter, at any time!
The bath salts and plant food are mixtures of designer drugs. These powders usually contain methylmethcathinone (aka: mephedrone or 4-MMC) and/or methylenedioxypyrovalerone (aka: MDPV). They are similar to cocaine and methamphetamine in that they are powerful moodaltering stimulants that are prepared and snorted in a similar way.
The bath salts are sold under such names as: Ivory Wave, Red Dove, Bliss, Bubbles, and Vanilla Sky. The plant food is sold under the name “magic.” What are the effects and symptoms of using these substances? The effects of mephedrone and MDPV are powerful energy boosts and activity while high. When taken in larger doses, MDPV can lead to muscle spasm, then users may begin to engage in meaningless repetitive motions and behaviors (tweaking). Some high dose users have had hallucinations and profound paranoia.
Symptoms will present as a central nervous system stimulant influence. Pupils will be dilated. Reaction to light will be slow. Heart rate will be accelerated outside the normal range. Blood pressure and body temperature will be elevated. Skin will appear flushed. The mouth will be dry. Speech will be fast and thoughts and dialog will jump back and forth between subjects and discussions. There is the potential for seizures and other nervous system disorders when these drugs are taken. There is substantial potential for chronic, even addictive, use of these drugs.
The length of a high can vary, but experiences so far indicate a span of effects that last for 3-4 hours. Users report that when a high starts to abate, those effects drop off very quickly. Afterwards, users also report feeling out of sorts, slightly blue, or depressed. Use of these substances has been linked to many hospital visits. Several deaths have been associated with the use of these substances. Directly on the packaging, it states, “Not for human consumption.”
Why are they so popular? They are legal – not currently regulated by the DEA; They are easily available on the internet and are showing up in convenience stores; They sell quite inexpensively per gram bag. Many states have enacted legislation to outlaw MPDV, including Kentucky. In Louisiana, MPDV was outlawed by an emergency order after the state’s poison center received more than 125 calls in just 90 days involving exposure to the chemicals. Abroad, Great Britain banned “bath salts” when several people died after ingesting them. Contact Oceanside Malibu Treatment Center today for more information.
Dave Johnson On Oceanside’s Facilities, Addictions & Family Systems
Director Dave Johnson discusses Oceanside’s unique one of a kind Malibu beach setting, highly individualized holistic treatment programs, industry leading client to staff ratio, family systems in relation to addictions, being available 24/7 to clients past & present, as well as the challenges of running a world class treatment center while retaining an intimate family atmosphere…
Human Slavery and the Bondage of the Human Mind
by Dr. Ericha Scott
I can remember the first time I heard about human
slavery. It was in 1987 when I was working as a new
counselor in Park Cities near Highland Park, a Dallas community
I call “The Malibu of Texas.” An extremely bright,
middle aged client, with a successful career as a lawyer, began
weeping in a hysterical panic. Shaking and covering her face,
she said in a child᾿s voice, “And, and, and…he put a loaded
gun in my vagina and said he would kill me if I screamed or
told anyone.” At that moment the oppressed scream from 45
years earlier emerged with so much childlike angst I had to
concentrate in order to suppress the urge to burst into tears
along with her.
A few months before, Renee Fredrickson, PhD, the co-
owner of the counseling center where I worked, had warned
me that I would hear about bondage. As she spoke, my mind
drifted to consensual adult pseudo-sadomasochism. Renee,
sensing that I had missed the point, looked me in the eye and
said, “Of children.” I swallowed and said quietly, “Oh.” Even
then I truly had no idea what she meant.
How can it be that one of the most wealthy, prestigious,
“proper” Christian neighborhoods in the world harbors this
kind of criminal activity outside our sight and awareness?
And what does human slavery mean when it involves the mind,
not just the body? In the book Incest-Related Syndromes of
Adult Psychotherapy Dr. Richard Kluft reveals a conversation
he had while he was a young soldier stationed in Italy with
a man in a bar who revealed to Richard that he was a pimp.
The pimp volunteered, in a braggart sort of way, that the best
prostitutes, like the two sitting with him, had been initiated to
the world of sex by their fathers.
Yes, this is very shocking, but in fact, research supports the
pimp’s comment. The large majority of prostitutes, as many as
80%, were sexually abused as young children, not necessarily
by their fathers, but by a much older and often trusted person.
Even without physical restraints, the mental bondage of early
childhood sexual abuse enslaves the mind.
Many prostitutes acknowledge that the early abuse has
restricted their life choices but they do not feel as if they have
alternative options to prostitution due to such correlational
problems as lack of education, self-esteem, early pregnancy,
poverty or addiction.
I have heard prostitutes, a few were my clients, vehemently
deny that prostitution as a career choice was associated
with their early childhood abuse. Once, a very sophisticated
call girl, when disclosing her profession for the first time,
explained to me, insisted really, that she was in charge, not the
Johns. While she was speaking, I could not help but notice the
lack of congruence between her words and dress. She wore
tiny pink plastic little girl barrettes in her hair, black patent
Mary Jane shoes that pointed inward as she fidgeted and a
plunging and very revealing buxom decolletage.
The chains of her early trauma seemed to have kept her
mind stuck in childhood even though her body was aging. If
this is so, then how is prostitution a choice? The long-term
effects of early childhood sexual abuse, which happens long
before the body, mind, and hormones are ready to be sexual,
limits an adults’ capacity for choice and undermines escape
as if time has warped and stood still at age five. This is why
crimes against children can happen and adults can become
victims of human slavery and we do not see it. The prison bars
of the mind are invisible, but more powerful than steel.
According to the Director of Homeland Security in Ventura
County California (2013), San Diego now has the worst human
slavery problem of any city in the world. In the United
States, the human slavery problem is the second fastest growing
illegal industry in our country. It is easy to dismiss this
statistic as an issue of children and women from the other side
of the US border, but in fact about 70 percent of the victims
were born in the United States.
According to the Global Human Slavery Index there are 29.8
million people enslaved in some form of bondage around the
world. Government statistics are clear that victims come from
all socio-economic groups, so education, wealth, and privilege
do not always provide the protection we wish for our children.
If one person is enslaved then, morally and spiritually,
none of us are free.
For questions about this article please contact Dr. E.
Hitchcock Scott, PhD at www.oceansidemalibu.com or
Dr. Ericha Scott On Healing Through Art Therapy
Doctor Ericha Scott was reading at a college level in fifth grade. But until that point in her life, she was considered “retarded” and almost failed fourth grade twice. It was private art lessons that changed everything.
Today, Scott has a doctorate in psychology with an emphasis in marriage and family practice and the creative art therapy. She also has a master’s of education and a bachelor’s degree in the fine arts. She has been working with co-occurring addictions (chemical and behavioral) and complex trauma for 30 years.
“I use the creative arts with adults to address problems of addiction, trauma, grief and loss, anxiety and depression,” Scott said. “I tailor experiential activities to your needs. These creative activities are able to address your problems and enhance your creative potential at the same time. Art therapy is helpful to individuals regardless of a history of art training, skill or talent.”
In the last few decades, treatment professionals have seen an increase in the addiction potential of illicit chemicals available to the youth, Scott said. Not only are the drugs more toxic neurologically — including crack and crystal meth — they are also more accessible and less expensive.
“At the beginning of my career, 30 years ago, it was not often that I saw significant neurological damage until a client was a senior,” Scott said. “Today, more and more often I see young adults arrive in treatment with significant and life altering brain damage.”
There is a rise in heroin addiction across various and unlikely social groups leading to an increase in heroin overdoses. These deaths are due, in part, to the fact that heroin is more
accessible and relatively inexpensive, even compared to prescription medications for pain, Scott said.
“A serious problem is that heroin is much more potent today than in the past, which is why some victims are miscalculating the dosage and dying,” Scott said. “People do not often associate brain damage with heroin, but due to the phenomenon of ‘nodding out,’ users are starving their brains of oxygen and their motor skills (among other things) can be impacted permanently.”
Scott’s specialty is the creative arts therapies, trauma and addiction. She began her career in 1985 as a drug and alcohol therapist in Ft. Worth, Texas, for Care Unit Hospital, a large corporation that offered treatment for chemical addiction, eating disorders and sex addiction. At the end of her first year as a counselor, she had the lowest recidivism rate of any therapist in a 200-bed hospital.
“It is my conviction that the differential of success rate had to do with the fact that I included the creative arts therapies in my work,” Scott said. “All clients were required to write in a journal, paint and role play.” For those who are afraid to ask for help, Scott recommends speaking to a safe friend first. And it’s usually the friend that encourages them to get professional help.
“Shame has killed more addicts than just about any other phenomenon,” Scott said. “Shame, as opposed to feelings of remorse, is a false sense of being irrevocably flawed or inferior. Usually, the experience of toxic shame existed long before the addiction commenced.”
Scott receives thank you notes from clients from around the world, sometimes decades later. Some statements include, “I know I would not have had children if it was not for the work we did together” and “Thank you Dr. Scott, our marriage is still together because of the work we did 10 years ago, we are so grateful.”
She has been asked to contribute to a forthcoming clinical reference, “Integrative Addiction and Recovery,” to be published by Oxford University Press as part of the Weil Integrative Medicine Library series. The topic of her contribution is addiction and art therapy.
Scott opened her office in Malibu in 2007. Prior to Malibu, she was a trauma therapist for an exclusive program in Tucson, Ariz. While in Arizona, she was granted the alumni recognition award, as one of three recipients, out of 285 staff members.
“I have chosen to keep my practice small so that I can attend to my clients with focused attention,” Scott said.
For more information about Dr. Scott and her practice, visit: oceansidemalibu.com or drerichascott.com.