It’s a matter of accessing it or ignoring it


Somewhere deep inside of us there is a sweet and loving voice encouraging us to make the right choice. And by right choice I am referring to the loving choice. I’ve yet to meet a person who didn’t have some type of moral code (aka principles). Even for those who seem to ooze contempt and righteousness, there can be found a sliver of something loving. We all have it.

It’s not a matter of having it or not having it.
It’s not a matter having more of it or having less of it.
It’s a matter of accessing it or ignoring it.
It’s a matter of feeding it or starving it.

We’ve all welcomed the “walkaway” from that voice. We try and shove it out, pretend it’s not speaking. Imagine we can’t understand it. In some instances we even ask it to go away. Because making the unloving choice is less hardship.

There are two solid reasons that voice is important to an addict.

  1. If we won’t listen to it, we won’t get sober.
  2. If we won’t continue to listen to it, we won’t stay sober.

This sober thing isn’t about saying we want it. It’s about standing up and taking it—grabbing it with both hands. Not looking back every few feet. It’s about listening to that voice in us that truly loves us and wants the best for us.

Here’s our issue: We are content with saying we want sobriety, happiness, friends, family, freedom, and even money, but we do nothing or next to nothing to have them. When an obstacle shows up, say a wall, we pack it all in.  We don’t figure a way through the wall, over the wall, around the wall, underneath the wall. We simply look at the wall, access our comfort zone and then walk away defeated.

We even manage to think others accomplished what we did not because they had no walls. We view the universe as biased and occasionally we get lucky.

If, however, there were a million dollars half way around the world, waiting for us upon our arrival, do you think we’d make it? Damn right we would. We’d see the prize, not the struggles of the expedition. The pay-off for our perseverance would be more than worth the arduous journey.

When we are struggling to choose sobriety (or not), we don’t see its magnificent rewards. When we question our desire to maintain our sobriety, we’re not remembering the agony out of which our sobriety was born. We have conveniently forgotten the destruction we left in our wake.

At these moments that voice represents weakness. We feel entitled to live our life the way we choose. We don’t want anyone telling us what to do. Especially a sappy sweet voice encouraging us to face the fears, the choices, we are so dreading. Not only is it telling us to face them, but it is telling us to face them with love.

In life we plant our roots somewhere. This isn’t an optional thing. We are grounded, principled in SOMETHING. We can be an orange tree seed in Florida or the Antarctic. Where do we think we will flourish?

If you are an addict and you know this there is no need to return to the Antarctic. The climate will be the same. If you’re not sure, come to Florida enjoy some of the rich soil. You will never look back, except to say, “Goodbye, thank you for showing me how I don’t want to live my life.”

No Responses to “It’s a matter of accessing it or ignoring it

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you! Well said and well put. I am sharing this post on my wall – just awesomeness!

    • P, Thank you for your continued support. I love how we keep each other fueled for sobriety. Thanks for sharing too. Lots and lots of love, Lisa

  • recoverysi
    11 years ago

    Outta the park, Lisa!

    There is a good deal of discussion over whether the problem is that we so often just do the “easy thing,” and it’s easier to pick the fear-based, apparently self-serving option.

    “That’s just the way it is,” we shrug, and bemoan the difficulty of overcoming “human nature.” But this assumption- that we do the easy thing, that the “easy thing” is so often the wrong thing, and that in working to change that we’re working against human nature- is only partly correct.

    Our disease sets up a self-reinforcing spiral, to perpetuate our addicted brains’ access to the addictive ‘reward’ response. The powerful operant conditioning this applies makes it seem like ‘human nature,’ almost impossible to overcome.

    Yet in recovery, we can counter the negative operant conditioning of the disease with our own healthy re-conditioning: The daily practice of mindfulness, healthy choices and habits, affirmations and spiritual/psychological practice and, most importantly, “acting as if.”

    You hit the nail on the head: We can’t allow our practices to be shaped by what we “feel.” We have to slowly change how we “feel” with our daily practices.

    And then one day we’ll wake up astonished at the harvest we’re bearing in all the sunshine.

    • RSI, What a lovely compliment. I love that you can articulate where I am so simple-minded. You always present eye-opening,thought provoking topics for me to ponder and put into action. I feel fortunate to be in your company. On another note, I will be sending something over this week. I hope you enjoy my perspective on family coaching. And I will be including a PDF if you want to include it with the piece. Warmly, Lisa

      • recoverysi
        11 years ago

        Wow, Lisa!
        That puts a huge smile on our faces. We love guest material. And we especially value the very personal, insightful perspective you bring to ‘opening up’ the recovery process.
        Each of us on the Recovery Friendly Web has the exact right thing to say to someone else: Someone being damaged by addiction; someone struggling with recovery. Finding each other, connecting, and making it easy for others to connect is such an exciting process.

  • I love the idea of orange tree. I can see it shivering with little peeled off bottle labels trying to keep it warm. Excellent. xxx

  • All I can do today is the next right thing!

  • Once again you have my mind reeling with the seemingly endless possibilities of where these thoughts of yours can lead. Your post had me immediately think of a quote from the movie “Scent of a Woman” with Al Pacino. His character states: “Now I have come to the cross-roads in my life. I always knew what the right path was. Without exception, I knew, but I never took it. You know why? It was too damn hard.”

    This voice you speak of was very much with me throughout my active alcoholism. Well, it was there before picking up my first drink, and is still there now after putting down my last drink. Call it what you will – intuition, conscious contact, God-speak,common sense, the voice of reason, whatever makes you comfortable – it’s hard wired, in my opinion. I feel that sense of ingrained self- and selfless-preservation is what drives us to be who we were created to be. It’s the navigator in our journey to wellness and emotional prosperity.

    I really liked how you tied the *right* choice to the *loving* choice. That adds a dimension to it that we don’t immediately see until later. I didn’t think of it until you just mentioned it. Of course it’s loving! D’uh! That voice is not about right nor wrong necessarily, although the wrong choice certainly has immediate and not-so-immediate negative consequences, but definitely the right choice is lined with love. The loving choice not only helps us, but helps others. The right and loving choice doesn’t crumble under the weight of scrutiny. The right choice is just *right* even if it doesn’t feel like it.

    My voice was clouded by the white noise of my alcoholism. The white noise tried to tune out that thin, constant voice that tried to point me in the right direction. The white noise tried to knock out my antenna for good. But all along, that voice stayed with me. Never wavered. That white noise of my addiction is now a dull, almost non-existent buzz compared to the ever-growing hum of the voice. The voice is something I have come to trust…it has never steered me wrong.

    Your visual of the orange tree really nailed this one for me, Lisa. Your understanding of addiction is breathtaking, and I for one have learned so much by reading your words. Thank you for this!

    Love and Light,

    • I absolutely love that you made the connection with ‘right and loving.’ It’s just incredible to me that the more I investigate my thinking the easier it is to live life. So much of the way I “be” is connected to thought I have never bothered to inquire upon or study. Alcoholism has been my stairway/wall/portal to this incredible way of living…. yes, my life no longer “crumbles under the weight of scrutiny.” I appreciate your perception of “the voice of love” … I call it all those things and then some. It’s always hard for me to narrow it, so I fall to the simplest form “the loving voice.” Paul, thanks for brightening my blog. Love and light.

  • Love this Lisa. And just what I needed to read right now.

    • Lilly, I must say simply that I love you so. Believe this if you can. I relate to every word you type. But I have forgotten until you remind me. Never, ever give up. These feelings that seem so real are not. There is something so much greater awaiting your arrival. Promise. Your job is to get past the first brick all. That’s it. Just the first one. Let’s both walk past/thru/around/under/over our walls today and celebrate a day of sobriety. We can deal with tomorrow’s wall tomorrow.
      So much love from me to you. Thank you for being in my life. You will understand my deep gratitude some day. You are a life saver to me because you remind me of what I have waiting for me at the other end of a drink. So it is I who should be thanking you.

      • Lisa, this made me quite teary. That is soooo lovely. And also inspiring. It’s also encouraging to hear that you can be where I’m at right now and eventually get past it. It makes me want to keep trying. I have seen glimpses of what’s on the other side of the wall. I just need to find a way to really reach out, grab it, and hold on top. This place and wonderful, encouraging people like you help so much. xx

  • Love this post, period.
    The part about seeing a wall and then just leave defeated due to the commodity of a comfort zone is totally and completely me, TOTALLY. I have been listening more and more to my loving voice, even though it tries to be quieted by the negative one. Action, as you have taught me has kept me on the right track. I almost binged today but DECIDED it was not worth it, it is not, has never been and will never be! Food doesn’t control me, I control me!. In order to keep growing, there are many walls I need to get around/under/through.
    Thanks for your beautiful, insightful posts that talk to me directly.

  • Right where I’m at right now. I have the proverbial devil and angel on my shoulders – and they are each getting louder and louder…but I am starting to understand the angel better and don’t really like what the devil is having to say there. I’m not *there* yet – I still have so much growing and learning to do. But I am following my path. I loved your advice to Lilly in another post – the important thing is to keep on going and NOT give up. I may stumble and fall flat on my face – but as long as I get up and dust myself and keep trying, it’s okay. I’m not perfect, and that’s okay. It is the optimism from you and others that helps me to get back up and keep going even when deep down inside I want to just say screw it. Thank you.

    • I’m excited to see you here. I am so grateful to all the people in their early sobriety (or struggle with early sobriety) that found blogging as a source of healing. I never even knew you were here until I wrote my book and started to sell it on this site. It is so wonderful how you have managed to make this incredible community of support and love. So much of our healing comes from writing and awakening the loving voice within. So many people I work with are so afraid to write and it just comes so naturally to all of you. I mean it when I say you inspire me to write because in many ways I have forgotten that feeling of drinking. I remember a hang over , but the feeling is just gone. I don’t want to forget altogether, lest I go back. I’m an alcoholic and I know it. I will never be able to drink like a non-alcoholic. All my love and support. Never give up. Believe that you can succeed at what you set your mind to. xox

      • Thanks Lisa. I’m heading to my second meeting tomorrow. It helped to be around people who “get” me. Still scared and raw but doing what I think is right which includes not drinking. At least for today if nothing else.

        • People that “get” us … you nailed it. Good luck with your meeting. It is in the seeking that we find. And as I mentioned to Lilly you have a friend and resource in me. Send me an email. I’ll reply. Promise. Love and more love all over your day. L.

  • Ditto to all the previous comments, and I am with Paul, this post really has me thinking… even beyond the bounds of recovery (food, exercise, etc.) where I exhibit the same child-like attitude towards the loving voice (You can’t make me!!!). Well said, Lisa, and, I believe I missed your “soberversary,” 9 years yesterday, right? Congratulations, and I hope you celebrated well!

    • Thank you for the anniversary wishes. I had a great day being a mom: Two kids, on two computers working on two different projects. What a gift to be sober and with it ALL Sunday long. I will celebrate with my extended family at my Wednesday night meeting AND get a chip which I love. Thank you for remembering.

  • Sorry for the double dipping in comments here, but I had to say something about your nine years of sobriety! That is a phenomenal achievement – fantastic. I wish you nothing but the best in your 10th year now and I am sure it’s going to be a wonderful thing getting your chip on Wednesday. You’re an inspiration. Thank you. 🙂


  • It’s good to be reminded–and with such passion!–that the precious things in life don’t necessarily fall into our laps. Thanks, Lisa. xxoo

    • You are one of the women that helps remind me! So it is I who should be thanking you. Hoping this reply finds you well. Lisa 🙂 xo

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