Why You Should Stop Drinking Alcohol


Here we are again, friends.  Let me take this opportunity to thank you for being here and reading my blog, but also to say that I hope the blog is inspiring you and helping you.

But also, there are new readers and this post very well may be for you.  Today we’re going to get right back to basics and discuss, perhaps the most important issue that exists: why you should stop drinking alcohol.

Damage to your body

A lot of people joke around about damaging their bodies, like “ha ha, I’m so bad,” as if you can just show disrespect for yourself and it’s OK.  But sooner or later, everyone comes around to see the problems with being cruel to your own body.  It’s just that too often, they see it too late.  In my case, it was around the time I quit, with a lot of damage done.

Liver- Obviously, you’re really attacking your liver with booze.   Specifically, you run the risk of major liver damage in the form of cirrohis, fibrosis, and fatty liver.

Heart- Drinking increases your risk of high blood pressure and having a stroke, plus an irregular heartbeat.

Immune System- Boy, do I have first-hand experience with this, having suffered from pneumonia at one point.  If you’ve noticed a pattern that alcoholics are sickly, this the reason for it.  I’ve never known a big drinker who had a good immune system.

I can tell you this: I’m going to cost myself money, freedom, and comfort in my elderly years.  But not nearly as much as I would have if I wouldn’t have stopped when I did.  Stop now, brothers and sisters.

Finding your true self

Here’s something else I know about.  It isn’t extremely easy to describe, but there’s a way that drinking covers your self up.  I guess most of it is your future plans and your sense of what you need to be stronger, more together, happier.  Alcohol does what I guess it’s intended to do, it covers those things up.

That basically means that the drinker has no real choice but to just keep drinking—he or she isn’t building any real foundation but just delaying one’s life.

Finding who you really are is definitely a relief.

Sleeping at Night

Literally, I mean sleeping at night.  I’m not talking about being free of guilt or having a clear conscience.  I’m talking about ridding yourself of the kind of very real insomnia caused by chemical imbalances in your brain that come from drinking too much.

You probably know what REM sleep is—or you’ve heard of it.  That’s the type of sleep that involves dreams.  So, basically, when you’ve been drinking, yeah, you’re going to nod off pretty easily.  But the alcohol in your system interferes with the REM sleep.  You then wake up and you proceed to either not be able to get back to sleep or you fall into fitful sleep that isn’t the least restless.

You then end up not only tired and cranky, but you can screw up some of your major body rhythms and that’s the last thing you need when you’re already abusing a substance.


For me, the biggest benefit to kicking the bottle was regaining some control.  I had problems with not showing up to calls on the job (heating and cooling repair), and being erratic and unpredictable and moody with my girlfriend.  Basically, I felt out of control.

In fact, I was out of control enough to not even realize how out of control I was.  One gets used to it.  But one still has to feel the consequences of it, in the form of a life that is confused.  You may say things you don’t mean, and not always remember.  That means not always knowing why people are mad at you, or at the very least wishing you wouldn’t have done the thing.  It also means repeating mistakes while drunk.  My life, when I was drinking, was full of having to chase down the things I’d done wrong.  It was confusing.  And that brings me to my next point about why you should stop drinking.


I think we’re all in favor of simplicity.  Not having to figure out how to smuggle booze into certain places; not having to plan ahead and get drunk before going certain places; not having to rush to the liquor store before 2 a.m.  Not having to keep track of lies you’ve told.  You don’t have to ride a roller coaster.  You don’t have to spend time trying to repair relationships with old friends and exes, etc.

It’s hard to explain and yet impossible to overstate: the amazing sense of relief you feel is like nothing else on Earth.  I mean, I’ve had times when I could feel the lack of nonsense I was dealing with, now that I was sober, and that’s just an amazing feeling.

There you have a top five, friends.  It’s important for you (in my humble opinion) to grab hold of these simple yet large concepts and look back at them as needed.  They’ll be part of a path to sobriety that will be a lot easier if you have a roadmap.


25 Tips For Staying Sober

This post will give you a nice handy reference to many tips for not just getting sober, but for staying sober.  This distills the wealth of information on this blog—not all of it—but some of the basic ideas having to do with remaining sober for the long haul.

1. Motivate yourself every day—It’s hard to think about your alcoholism, but it’s essential to give yourself a little reminder every single day. I’ve written, before, about various ways of remaining positive, and of gearing up for a good day each day. It’s not about beating yourself up or dwelling on anything depressing, but revving yourself up each day.

2. Stay away from negative influences—This can mean coming off as unfriendly, but it’s worth it.

3. Have a physical hobby—If you have a weekly basketball game with the boys or a hike with your girlfriend, I’d recommend stepping it up to have a bit of weight lifting or a run or something just about every day.

4. Have a supportive community—Maybe you’ve spent some time in AA or in a program of some kind. Keep ties with people you’ve met this way, or in one way or another, be sure to know other recovering alcoholics. There will be things they understand that your sober friends don’t, and confiding in them during hard times will be very helpful to you.  These folks will be lifesavers.

5. Celebrate your sobriety—It’s crucial that you don’t look at sobriety as a punishment. This is something that all successful recoverers figure out instinctively-and embrace—after a year or two. People who remain sober love being sober, and they focus on the positive not the negative.

6. Have fun sober—Going along with this, you have to be able to have fun sober, even if you’re around drink. This means getting yourself into a good mood and thus not needing drink. You have to will it.  Now, this is facilitated by increasing your oxytocin and a lot of other things that are described in this post.  All of these things will help you be the kind of person who can be more joyful in general and to have the mental strength to get through holidays and other times when everyone is drinking.

7. Have another vice—Now, let me explain. I’m not encouraging anything unhealthy or destructive here, but something to replace alcohol. It has to be something that isn’t habit forming and that won’t harm you in any way.  It can be something like playing cards—at low stakes; indulging in a particular junk food (remember, you’re exercising a lot); maybe something fun and interesting, but ultimately harmless.  Even if it’s thrilling in its own way, whatever it is, it’s better than drink.

8. Do something new—I took up photography. I started learning about digital effects and filters and various tricks. It was great—something I put no pressure on, that I knew I had no real talent for, something I could freely explore as a lark.  It makes you think differently and does, therefore, wonderful things for your overall brain chemistry.

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9.Get involved in the community—There are many ways to do this. It could be something having to do with coaching a baseball team, or volunteering in charity events every month or so. It can be helping as a crosswalk person down at the school—schedule permitting—or anything like that.  This is all about increasing oxytocin, which makes you feel safe and, thus, more positive.  It’s about making you feel better about yourself, making you feel needed, keeping you busy.  Further, it creates a you quite different from the one who got involved in drinking to begin with.

10.Improve your mind—This might be under the larger category of doing new things and having hobbies, but the intellectual nature of it bears its own mention. One of the most meaningful things you can do is build up your brain. I’ve been reading a lot of things about filmmaking and also about this history of Native Americans, including the Zuni who lived in New Mexico, where I previously did.  I’ve also read some of the higher brow stuff online, such as Science, Wired, and Harper’s Magazine. The reason this is so meaningful is that exercising the mind is intimate and intense and something in which you will take incredible pride.  Nothing is like new knowledge, information, and ideas.  It’s something no one can take from you, and it will make life better.

11.Make a goal for improvement—Now, you’re saying, “improvement? Isn’t sobriety enough?” Absolutely.  But what facilitates it is a host of other elements.  One of these can be a quest to elevate your life in some way, whether it be a better job, a promotion, writing a book, running a fast mile, etc.  Setting a goal like that will give you great focus—it’ll help so much with your sobriety, and you won’t even remember that’s why you’re doing it.

12. Be grateful—There’s a way in which this relates back to seeing sobriety as a positive and not as a chore. Yet, it extends well beyond that. Be grateful that you were able to make it this far; be grateful you have a chance to do some great things for other people; but go beyond those things, too, and make being grateful a habit.  Be grateful you live in a place with running water, that you aren’t a soldier in combat, anything.  Think of something positive your parents did for you when you were a child and be grateful for that. As with other things I’ve mentioned here, being grateful is so beneficial for us in many ways.  It does great things for our brain chemistry, making everything better.  Any positive thing you can do for yourself will in turn facilitate your ongoing sobriety.

13. Be humble—Being addicted to something is all about seeking pleasure. It’s about feeling that youshould have an awful lot of whatever it is you want, that you shouldn’t feel suffering or a lack of what you desire. Humility can get you out of that bind.  We’re all humans living our lives, and no one promised we wouldn’t have suffering.  If you’re bored or dull or for no real reason, just longing for drink, know that everyone longs for something.  It’s hard, but you’re in the ultimate good company, the company of everyone.

14. Lay down foundations—Say you’re married. You may plan to have children, which gives you a major commitment. If you and your spouse already have kids, you may make a commitment having to do with grandchildren, sending your kids through college, etc. The foundations you lay down really don’t have to do with family or with children who will grow to be adults.  But it should really be something longterm, whether it be starting a business or putting together a Journey tribute band.

15. See a therapist—This should not be a matter of whether or not you “need” to see a therapist. I mean, at some point, you should be able to cut those ties, but it’s best to be on the safe side. The thing is, talking to a therapist about all sorts of things in your life is important.  Keeping on top of things and keeping balance can help prevent conditions that might cause you to backslide.

16. Read about successful people–When you’re recovering and recovered and trying to remain that way, it’s important to remain committed.  One thing I’ve found very helpful is watching documentaries, quick youtube videos, or whatever, on tycoons, athletes, businessmen, etc.  Sometimes I read articles or books.  I do it for a specific reason, having nothing to do with wanting to make millions in a tech industry or anything like that.  I do it because these books, while slightly boastful and a bit irritating, do the trick for a recovered alcoholic.  They sometimes make me a bit envious, perhaps a bit inadequate in comparison.  They make me want to get out there and do something myself that can compete.  This causes me to remember that I’m in the midst of a long recovery, one that can be considered a good accomplishment.  It prevents me from backsliding or slacking, since my head is filled with ideas having to do with motivation and being an achiever and all that.  In fact, every once in a while, they have some good tips.

17. Become a beverage meister–I’m full of weird ideas, right?  What is a beverage meister?  Perhaps he’s the fellow who knows the difference between one Ethiopian blend of coffee and another.  Maybe he has intimidating metal machinery for tea.  Maybe he collects obscure brands of ginger beer (this is soda, like root beer) or Japanese energy drinks.  Going this route means tipping your wrist and taking in refreshing liquids, so you won’t miss those stimuli.

18. Teach something–Teaching is very rewarding, and releases oxytocin, which is at the heart of everything good.  You can teach fishing or tire changing or anything, to anyone.  It’s a way of fostering relationships, and it’s really a way of feeling better about yourself.

19. Keep family strong–Whether we’re talking about your parents, a spouse, sibling, whomever, it’s important to keep ties strong.  Ultimately, people with blood bonds care about you and will be there for you.

20. Write about recovery–You might keep a sort of diary, not necessarily anything you need to keep up every single day, but something you turn to when it’s time to vent.  It’s nothing you’ll show to anyone—be honest and speak from the heart.  You’ll be amazed at how much you’ll learn about yourself and how much better you’ll feel.

21. Value sobriety more and more–After a while, it can be easy to take for granted the wonderful success you’ve attained.  It’s important to keep renewing how much value you place on sobriety.  It’s a fun and easy thing to do, simply valuing something that you have every right to value.  Think of it as an object and protect it.

22. Consider spiritual options–You really have to come at recovery—including maintaining recovery—from a variety of angles.  That allows for something to fall through at particular moments and still be bolstered by your other approach.  When the going is getting rough, if it’s not part of your regime already, you may look into meditation, church, prayer, books and DVD’s on related issues, etc.

23. Catch yourself making excuses–It’s possible to build up a discipline for understanding when you’re not being as tough on yourself as you should be.  Listen to the voice that’s developing along those lines and act accordingly.  Don’t put up with any excuses from yourself.

24. Do it your own way–Don’t adapt to some new plan you get somewhere and let yourself get pulled in many directions.  Don’t allow people to second guess you.  Whatever works for you works.  Don’t change your mind.

25. Don’t quit–In conclusion, friends, don’t quit.  Stupid as this sounds, what I mean by it is, just don’t quit.  Some people will have few setbacks and some will have many.  Don’t worry about a bit of backsliding or ups and downs or ins and outs—just don’t quit.


Tips For Dealing with Withdrawal

Tips for dealing with withdrawal

In 2002, a friend of mine called me telling me he’d slept about a half an hour the last two nights.  He’d had to leave his job on a landscaping crew two days in a row.  He found that he was confused, that it seemed slightly dark in his apartment in the middle of the afternoon.  He said when he sat and thought about what was going on, how his resolution to quit drinking was going, he would start sweating.  His forehead would get this thick sheen of sweat, and he started to think this was more than just nervousness about what he was setting out.  And then he’d start trembling.

So, I drove him to after-hours care in the suburbs of Cincinnati.  He was able to seek outpatient care, going back each day for a week, with weekly appointments after that.  The doctor prescribed a quick course of medication, and away went the trembling and the sweats.  His insomnia went away after several days.  He had a pretty tough time quitting, as all of us do, but he was able to make it through the initial withdrawal.

In this post, we’ll look at the experience of going through withdrawals, whether under a doctor’s care or not.

How severe is your withdrawal?

First, we need some definitions.  There are essentially three major categories of withdrawals.  First are minor withdrawals, and these can last several weeks or months.  They’re not the sever things that will burn themselves out.  Minor symptoms can include fatigue and headaches.  Some nightmares might pop up occasionally.  Sometimes anxiety is listed too, but that gets us into the issue of how to know how much anxiety is a withdrawal.  Some people don’t think of anxiety and headaches and loss of appetite and things like that officially count as withdrawals, and to some extent it becomes a semantic argument.

The second category is the one of my buddy, withdrawals that are serious and that demand attention, but that can be fairly easily controlled by a doctor’s care.

The third category gets beyond the symptoms I mentioned above.  They can include hallucinations, convulsions, and the infamous DTs, delirium tremens.  These are rare, affecting less than 10% of recovering alcoholics.  They generally won’t happen later than a couple of weeks into withdrawal.

If you have DTs, you need to call an ambulance and get help immediately.  You’ll then most definitely be prescribed medication.

Withdrawal under a doctor’s care

If you’re in the second category, above, you’ll be seeing a doctor.  You’ll go through something called “medical management”, which entails regular short visits.  Because of your symptoms, you’ll need to be monitored on a regular basis.  You may have to go through cognitive therapy to help with mental confusion and other symptoms.  And psychological counseling with come into play, too.

Again, treatment for DT’s will be inpatient, and will be much more acute and quick.

5 Tips for Getting through it without a doctor

I wanted to talk about withdrawal under a doctor’s care, because it applies to some people, and I don’t want to imply that going through it is all about going it alone.  But if you’re in the first category above, you may go through withdrawals without a doctor.  However, you can also apply these tips to somewhat rougher withdrawals, for between doctor visits.

  1. Make recovery number one

Some of the worst withdrawal episodes and symptoms will last only a few days, with the milder ones lasting a widely varying period of time.  Remember, we’re dealing here with just the milder things like depression, lack of sleep, etc.  Now, I realize those aren’t very mild, but they’re mild compared to DT’s.

Since we’re talking about something that may last weeks and that won’t involve hospitalization, the responsibility is on you.  You have to be sure to apply your energies to managing the symptoms, not trying to be sure to go about business as usual and think you can blow off the withdrawals.

  1. Go to meetings

If you are feeling some nausea, anxiety, headaches, and just not feeling like yourself, the best thing for you is to be in a room with others experiencing the same thing.  This will make your symptoms not seem freakish or incurable.  Know this: you will also be around people who have gone through these symptoms and have given them the boot.  Now that is the real benefit of these meetings.  And we’ll look at the next benefit in this next tip.

  1. Try not to be alone

Part of the infrastructure for all of this is being around your buddies who are most supportive.  It’s about getting rid of those who will lead you astray.  I began dating during my recovery—having been dumped by my very smart girlfriend while I was still drinking—and my girlfriend was a godsend.  But I also had quite a few friends.  Dealing specifically with physical symptoms, whether you’re under a doctor’s care or not, is a lot easier when you’re in the animated company of others, talking, listening, etc.

The thing about this is you can get comfort in this area just from going to sporting events, movies, malls, etc.  We’re not talking about really good support and companionship here—those things are important, but right now, we’re talking about managing your physical symptoms.  The idea is just to not be alone to dwell on them and have them eating away at your consciousness.

  1. Use safe over-the-counter meds

Whether you’re seeing a doctor or not, but particularly if you’re not using some of the medicines used for withdrawal, you will probably have some success with over-the-counter products.  The key here is to not use them in an incorrect manner that will backfire and make things worse.  You should go to pubmed or webmd or government health sources—or to the reference section of your local library—to research which headache medicines are safe for a person who had been abusing alcohol and who is going through withdrawal.  I am far from a doctor and am absolutely not giving out medical advice.  Things like pain pills and anti-diarrhea medication can be rather necessary for a withdrawal sufferer.

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  1. Fight with diet

One of the things that is helpful for my comrades in this predicament is fighting the good fight with diet.  Now, you can go the route of one of those detox diets you see in bookstores. These may not be for detoxing for booze, but the cleansing they do in your system will give you a little boost.  Along those lines, foods with antioxidants: blueberries, bananas, broccoli, will help.  Cutting out caffeine can help, so if you’re replacing drink with soft drinks, you may go the de-caf route.

In any case, it may not be the case that diet issues will explicitly attack either the alcohol in your system or the fact that you’re not drinking.  But on the one hand, these changes will make you feel a lot better in general, and they very well may touch on some of your things like nausea and similar digestive system issues.

The biggest thing you can do isn’t really a tip, and it’s something covered throughout the blog.  It’s just gritting your teeth and fighting through the issues, since that’s ultimately all you can do.  Any withdrawal symptoms you feel longer than two or three weeks into quitting should be mild and sporadic.  If you are experiencing these issues on a regular basis, and these tips don’t help, it will be time to seek a doctor’s care.


How Long Is Withdrawal For Opiates?


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The key is to seek medication.

The most common opiate is heroin.  Others include dilaudid, morphine, and codeine.  There’s also the infamous Oxycontin.  Oxycontin is a heavy-duty pain killer that works for 24-hours.  It’s available only by prescription, is a narcotic, and is often sold or given to someone who does not have the prescription.  In any case, whatever type of opiate you’ve decided to abuse, the withdrawals, as you’ve heard, are pretty nasty.

Having withdrawals from these harsh drugs involves:

  • excessive sweating
  • agitation and anxiety
  • insomnia
  • muscle aches

Sadly, these are just the early symptoms.  Later ones include

  • vomiting
  • severe nausea
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal cramps

The withdrawals start about twelve hours after your last use of opiates.  They tend to continue for a few weeks, though you can forestall them with methadone.

Other Medications

While methadone is a common medication for withdrawal, there are others.  You have Buprenorphine, plus Clonidine for some of the minor, nagging symptoms typical of the early stages.

The National Institutes for Health recommend that antidepressant medications also be used as needed, as a common remedy.


Advice on Forgiveness for Recovered Alcoholics

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Forgiving without excusing.

Being a recovered addict—of any kind—means more than just laying off the substance in question.  That’s kind of unfair, because doing just that is extremely hard.  But living as a recovered addict means keeping the rest of your house in order.  You have to get into harmony emotionally—it’s your entire emotional life that matters, since that is what will keep you from needing the substance.

That’s why in this blog I’ll be talking about things having to do with a lot of life issues, and not just quitting per se.  One of the things that is important to anyone, but especially a recovered alcoholic, is being able to forgive others.  It’s ironic, because you are the one who seeks forgiveness for so many things you’ve done wrong.  The alcoholic breaks a lot of promises and disappoints a lot of people, and his recovered self gets a chance to apologize for a lot of things.

However, some of the emotional baggage that a lot of alcoholics carry around has to do with things they think people have done wrong.  You get into plenty of fights as a problem drinker, and a lot of words are exchanged.  Even though you have a problem and you know you do (or did), yours feeling may have been hurt at one time or another.

However, the kind of forgiveness you will be embarking on may have nothing to do with alcoholism.  It could have to do with wrongs from your childhood that have plagued you.  It could have to do with new slights that have nothing, on the surface, to do with drinking, but that can be a threat to your emotional well-being.

Aristotle identified the five social virtues as courage, compassion, self-love, friendship, and forgiveness.  He felt that forgiveness was intimately tied to friendship, required for long-term relationships.

A modern-day philosopher, Professor Christopher Cowley of University College Dublin, offers a definition of forgiveness that I find very helpful:

” the decision to forgive involves the conscious attempt to prevent one’s spontaneous and morally legitimate resentment from influencing one’s thoughts about the offender, on the basis of some sort of new understanding of the offendor and the offense.”

What Cowley is saying is that you don’t forgive someone only by telling a story to yourself that somehow justifies what the person did.  That’s where things get tricky.  The idea is to forgive, in the sense of saying, “I’m over it.  I give forgiveness to you.”  If you felt that the things the person did was OK after all, you wouldn’t be giving a gift of generosity by forgiving, right?  And that’s what you’re trying to do.

Don’t Have to Be Right

Gaining control in any small way is crucial to the drinker, even more than to most people.  You want things to make sense, you want some order in the universe.  So when someone does something you think is wrong, it can be important to spend a lot of time brooding on it, playing over and over in your head how wrong the thing was, etc.  That breeds resentment.  In that environment, forgiveness is impossible, since you feel that considering the wrong to be a wrong.  You feel that there’s no reason for you to let that so-and-so get away with it.

Get Past the Half-Forgiveness

Now, sometimes, the resentment will wear off, and you’ll get into a mode where you think it’s been so long there’s no reason to worry about it.  You may not announce some sort of forgiveness to the person, but you may feel, in your mind, you’ve kind of let go of it.  In this case, there’s an extent to which you’ve gotten past the need to be right, since you’ve let go of the issue.

But, and take it from the master of this: you’re not all the way out of it.  You’ve never really let go of the pleasure of being the one in the right—you’ve basically forgotten without forgiving.  You’ve forgiven the person—in your mind—and you have no hard feelings.  But what happens if the person does something rude to you, particularly something that reminds you of that other offense?

I know I had a few experiences with my girlfriend.  In short, she had a tendency to tell me some of my thought or anxieties were ridiculous.  Variations were self-indulgent, neurotic, paranoid, etc.  This was when I was pretty far along in my recovery, so if I had these traits, I had them a lot less so than I previously had.  I’d made a lot of improvement, and got self-conscious when she’d be critical.

So, when I’d feel she was being truly insensitive, saying things that were really problematic, I’d forgive her.  As above, the idea of whether I was right or not was no issue.  I didn’t tell myself a story that it was OK or that I should just get over it.  I looked at forgiveness, not as giving in or giving up, but as an active thing that I wanted to do.

But the problem would arise when she’d do the thing again.  What would happen was, I’d brood on it, but then I’d go back to thinking of previous times when she’d been critical, instances for which I’d forgiven her.  So I was sort of undoing the forgiveness.

Now, it is hard to forgive someone when that person keeps doing the same thing.  But that applies to the new thing, not to previous ones.  Further, I do think it’s possible to keep forgiving the offenses.  I don’t know how good I am at it, but I’ve had some success.  Even when the same old behavior came down the pike, I took a deep breath and just gave the forgiveness.

Each Time is Different

What I learned was that affecting a certain tunnel vision was really beneficial.  Concentrating and exercising self-control, and refusing to remember previous behaviors is key.  So when your girlfriend keeps being critical, forget it’s part of a story and treat it as individual.

One of the reasons this may be more possible than you think is that the incidents indeed are different.  Even if they may seem the same to you, like one big act of being critical, it may not seem that way to your girlfriend.  Think about it—if it seemed that way to her, why would she keep doing it?  Also, she may have had a bad day on one particular incident, etc. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re deciding that the person was indeed right, just that if the conditions were different on different occasions, you shouldn’t treat each incident as part of a big pattern in a way that will make it harder to forgive.

The Sin and Not the Sinner

If you’re getting mad at the person and not the thing she did, you’re in trouble.  It’s easy, all too easy, but it’s easier to forgive a behavior than a person.  This is an extension of the idea that each incident is different.  Note what the good prof said, above: you are trying to prevent “resentment from influencing one’s thoughts about the offender.”  So, Cowley is specifically talking about your thoughts about the offender.  He isn’t saying not to be ticked about the offense.  What he is doing is drawing a line between offender and offense.  Don’t let the offense cause you to change your mind about the offender.

This means, to me, thinking of the offense almost as an object—a bit of mental sleight of hand, perhaps, but meaningful sleight of hand.  Think of it as something that the offender himself doesn’t like and would like to stop doing (and this often is the case, right?) and thus make it a mutual enemy.

The Gift of Forgiveness

This next part is rather corny, so prepare yourself.  But you really have to think of forgiveness as a gift.  Not only that, but you have to be humble enough to think of it as a gift in the way I’m about to describe.  I don’t mean thinking of it as a gift in the sense that it’s so valuable (though it is) or that it means you’re some kind of prince for giving it.

I look at it more as a gift from a standpoint of how it feels to give one.  When you’re at a store and you see they have blank DVD’s on sale and that your buddy is running out, you get a warm feeling thinking of how much he’ll appreciate it.  That’s the fun of gift-giving, right?  Here’s Cowley on the subject:

” The donor of a genuine gift has no expectations; the gift is in no way a payment, an investment, a lubricant; it has nothing prudential or self-regarding at all. “

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Now, is it easy to be that way?  Of course not.  But I think most people don’t have this way of looking at things, either—they just wing it.

Give Yourself the Gift of Oxytocin

So, above, the feeling of anticipating the gratitude of your buddy Allen when you give him the DVD’s: that’s a flood of oxytocin.  Oxytocin is probably the most pleasant chemical that can affect the brain.  Unlike dopamine, it’s not about quick pleasures such as a gooey chocolate chip cookie, winning one race at the track, making out with a hot woman, etc.  Oxytocin has longer-lasting effects and causes one to feel safe and secure.

One gets oxytocin from helping others.  Giving the gift of forgiveness, holding on to that forgiveness, knowing it is still there, that you’re still nurturing it, will help your brain chemistry, which is what you need to keep going with your recovery.

I hope some of these musings helped.  Feel free to leave comments or questions.