Note From Dr B.
Spring is in full bloom at Two Dreams, even at our Chicago office, and my favorite flowers have been emerging for weeks. Before Dr. David and I downsized our home, I would watch a parade of flowers emerge from the snow along our front walkway. While I do miss the floral ceremony, I appreciate that the freedom of our smaller home allows me more opportunities to travel between the various Two Dreams locations. The crocus, daffodil, and highly fragrant hyacinth remind me that there is beauty and peace in the earth. They also remind me that, when nurtured with light and warmth, the flora will emerge. Each individual in treatment and recovery needs similar light and warmth to stimulate their own exciting growth path and develop their own integrity, which is incidentally the theme of this month’s Dream Journal.
You may have noticed that our Dream Journal themes this year follow the principles underlying the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Last month our theme was courage; this month our theme is integrity; and next month we are going to work with the concept of willingness. These three concepts are reflected in the cluster of AA steps that are sometimes referred to as the "cleaning it up" steps (in contrast with the “giving it up” steps [1-3], “making it up” steps [7-9] and “keeping it up” steps [10-12]). The searching, fearless moral inventory of the fourth step requires courage to complete, as it promotes honesty and sharing in relationships. The fifth step, admitting we were wrong, promotes honesty and integrity in intimate relationships. Finally, the sixth step, a readiness to remove our shortcomings, requires self-awareness and willingness, which we will discuss next month.
Integrity is needed to work this fifth step, but what is integrity? Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; it is moral uprightness and the state of being whole and undivided. It is more than just simple honesty, though. As clinical psychologist Henry Cloud proposes, people with integrity: 1) are able to connect with others and build trust, 2) are oriented toward reality, 3) finish well, 4) embrace the negative, 5) are oriented toward increase, and 6) have an understanding of the transcendent.
Individuals who succeed in recovery display resilience buttressed with flexibility. In contrast, one area in which steadfastness is required over flexibility is personal integrity, as it is neither conditional nor mercurial. I am reminded of the old adage, "to thine own self be true," or as Frederick Douglass put it, "I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false and to incur my own abhorrence." When you find that inner strength, the growth path to recovery becomes clear; the little voice from an internal GPS guides every decision.
Integrity guides us in our work of making amends to people we have harmed, except when doing so would harm them or others. There are no guarantees when making amends and "coming clean;” in fact, there is often a fear that, in dealing with material related to our transgressions, we will be judged and rejected. If we are trying to create a certain outcome, such as winning someone back, gaining forgiveness, etc., we are certain to be disappointed…we might even lose the love, if not the respect, of someone important to us. But, in the process we gain the respect of the most important person on the planet to each of us: ourselves. The truest concept in the world, which has been shown to be true over and over again, is that the unexposed fact is more powerful than the exposed one. We have a saying here at Two Dreams: “mold does not grow where the sun shines.” Shine a light on that which you fear most and start your growth journey. Part of the treatment process is the identification of your personal holdbacks, asking yourself “what have I not been able to explore, admit, discuss, embrace, stare down in prior treatment episodes?” These holdbacks sap our energy and diminish our self-esteem. When we live with integrity, we live life knowing who we are and what we want, and we are able to ask for these things. The growth journey is one of harmony and we feel discordant when we are in the presence of people who don't have our best interests at heart…and speaking of the heart, it beats free.
I hope you enjoy the following thoughts about a character from Juan Mascaro. Please be careful about what you allow your mind to dwell on; negative thoughts are called "stinking thinking" for a reason. Even though our thoughts seem unavailable to others, remember that they are not just in your head; they are in your character.
“The thought manifests the word;
The word manifests the deed;
The deed develops into habit;
And habit hardens into character;
So watch the thought and its ways with care,
And let them spring forth from love
Born out of compassion for all beings.
As the shadow follows the body, as we think, so we become.”
Guest Writer of the Month: Brooke Wollner
“Being Whole with Regard to Integrity”
Honesty is an important part of staying sober. You have to be honest with yourself to figure out your values and principles, and you have to be honest with yourself to be whole. You have to constantly assess yourself to make sure that you are staying true to who you are and who you want to be. By self-assessing, you hold yourself accountable for your actions and fight away distractions that can keep you from reaching your full potential.
It is important to question the motivation behind the actions that you take, because people often do things mindlessly. For example, people should eat when they’re hungry, but people also eat when they’re bored, when they like the taste of something, when they’re feeling bad about themselves, etc. Drugs are similar, in that people take them for many reasons, especially when they feel bad about themselves. Without being mindful of your behavior, you can become conditioned to take drugs as a response to feelings of inadequacy or other negative emotions. It is important to remember that drugs cannot make you whole; they just mask real problems that need actual solutions. Comparing, resisting, blaming, judging, pretending, protecting…these are all just mechanisms used to avoid facing real problems; they distract from being whole in the present moment.
When you are whole, you don’t need to wish for anything different; you are open and accepting of anything that might come your way. You are vulnerable, but this vulnerability allows you to connect with other people for support and guidance. Being whole doesn’t mean you’re free of hardships, but it does mean that you can find the beauty in the struggle. Having integrity makes you strong and empathetic, which means you can recover.
Theme Analysis: Integrity
"Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity."
- W. Clement Stone
When I think of integrity the words honesty and consistency come to mind. To have integrity is to act according to the values, beliefs and principles that an individual or product claims to hold. By the time I reached the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous I didn't have the courage to say “no” to most things; I had trouble facing the truth and doing the right thing. If you had asked me back then if I had integrity, I might have led you to believe that I lived by consistent moral standards, but the truth was that I didn’t. In my addiction, I was selfish and inconsistent. I condemned and judged the behaviors of others, then justified those same behaviors when I was responsible for them.
The AA program has taught me most of what I know about integrity. I have gained my knowledge by attending meetings, listening to members share their experiences, and learning about how the twelve steps of recovery have provided a foundation for the current value systems and moral standards of others. In early recovery there was a member of my group whose favorite saying was, "there is no right way to do the wrong thing". Love and sharing with others the message of recovery have remained the cornerstones of the program, though the methods through which they are displayed may change over time.
The integrity of AA’s simple message of recovery has remained consistent over the years. The program has always followed twelve steps that address the mental, physical, and spiritual facets of the whole individual. In the Forward to the fourth edition of the Big Book it is noted that: "While our literature has preserved the integrity of the AA message, sweeping changes in society as a whole are reflected in new customs and practices within the Fellowship.” Love and compassion will always remain, but the methods by which they are displayed may change throughout time.
The recovery experience is one of triumphs and challenges. I am grateful for the chance to be part of a Fellowship that has been proven to work for millions. Today I have the courage to say no, to face the truth, and to do the right thing. One day at a time, I am living my life with integrity.
Former heroin addict Tracey Mitchell shares revelations gained throughout her recovery journey in this inspiring interview for CNN. She asserts that the “easy” part of recovery is getting off of the substance; the hardest part, she says, is starting a life of integrity from scratch. Through honest self-evaluation and the decision to take an active role in her recovery, Mitchell has been able to build a new, fulfilling life with a loving family.
Doctors in Massachusetts are coming together to form an initiative focused on the opiate endemic. Right now the group is focusing on community education, prevention, and utilization of available resources. Physicians from all sub-specialties are encouraged to join and contribute to the discussion.
Featured Staff Member Questions: Mary Kennon
Q. What is your current position and job description?
I am a recovery support specialist. I am with the clients 8 hours a day to listen, to give advice, and to teach them how to live in recovery. I am a supporter.
Q. Where did you work before Two Dreams and what did you do?
I owned a daycare business designed to help young children grow and develop. I currently own a cottage cleaning business and work for Two Dreams.
Q. What has your journey been like at Two Dreams?
Unbelievable. I love meeting new people and being part of a team. Not only do I get to give back, but I also get to learn something new every day. I am truly grateful to be involved in changing people's lives.
Q. What made you get into this profession?
I have been in recovery for eight years. I know what it's like to have no hope and to find a way out. I know recovery is possible. I want to pass this knowledge along to other people.
Q. What is the most gratifying part of your job?
Watching someone realize that there is hope and that they are not alone.
Q. What do you like about the Two Dreams program?
I like that the program is individually set up for each client. I also admire the passion that the team has for helping each client to succeed.
Q. Where did you go to college and post-grad and what did you study?
The College of Albemarle. CNA 1 and CNA 2.
Q. How would others describe you? How does your personality complement the work you do?
Honest, passionate, caring, outgoing, and easy to talk to. My personality complements my work because I'm open-minded and not judgmental.
Q. What do you like to do when not at work? What are your favorite hobbies?
I love the outdoors, my family, and my grandchildren. I love my life today through recovery.
3 P’s - May 2016
Physical Well-Being, Personal Productivity, Mental Peace
To have integrity, in short, means to be honest and fair in alignment with our values. In active addiction it is not unusual for us to put integrity on the back burner in order to gain what our addiction tells us we desire. We may hurt those that we love most, which can lead to guilt, shame, and deep despair. In recovery, we find that integrity can set us free and we can once again be whole and share our new identity with those we love. We are able to achieve this mental peace when we find a way to live every day with kindness, honesty, and transparency regarding our values.
We must also be kind to our bodies and work towards physical wellbeing. It is helpful to set a concrete exercise schedule to avoid inevitable mental excuses. Even when we want to quit, we must remember that we have a responsibility to our bodies. We have to be honest and monitor our eating habits as well to make sure we are nourishing ourselves. Integrity relates to personal productivity in that we need to take an honest inventory of our abilities and skillsets. We are often overcome with shame and feelings of worthlessness during active addiction and downplay the talents and skills that we actually possess.
Therefore, it is important to figure out exactly what you are capable of and then go for it! Don’t hold yourself back; you can achieve anything.
“Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is watching.”
- C.S Lewis
Outer Banks Community Update May 2016
It’s a busy time on the Outer Banks! Our clients have been attending AA/NA meetings, doing their morning sun salutations, participating in process groups, engaging in experiential therapy, doing yoga, and having fun during game and movie nights. They have also been participating in special weekly activities including service work at the local ASPCA, jet skiing, and painting at a small shop called ‘Local Color’.
In community news, the main sidewalk in Corolla, NC is nearing completion just in time for peak tourist season. Also, an event was held to preserve memories of Manteo, NC. New locals and long-term residents alike got together to scan their photos of Mateo and upload them to the Internet.
Chicago Update May 2016
The famous "Cloud Gate" or "The Bean" in Chicago is a marvel of structural integrity. The Bean is made up of 168 individual stainless steel plates, though it appears to be a single, fluid entity. This is reminiscent of individuals in recovery, pulling together broken pieces of their identity to form a whole new reflective self. If you’re heading through Millennium Park in Chicago, take a moment to view this sculpture and ponder reliability, uprightness, and cohesion. While you’re here in Chicago, you should take a moment to stop by our Oak Park office as well; we’d be happy to talk with you about our addiction treatment program and our focus on building integrity.
NOLA Update May 2016
One of the greatest gifts I have received during recovery has been the restoration of my integrity. During active addiction, I was convinced that I was not hurting anyone; the problems that my loved ones had with me were surely their own fault. Because I was isolated in my disease, I believed my character and actions were honorable and correct, but I was mistaken; addiction robbed me of my upright nature.
Fortunately, I have found a way to live differently today. By working the 12 steps with my sponsor and by regularly maintaining my recovery, I have found righteousness. Through the unconditional love and guidance of the AA fellowship, I have developed a new sense of integrity. Others can now trust me as a daughter, sister, aunt, friend and co-worker. If you (or a loved one) are struggling with integrity and addiction, our team at Two Dreams is here to help you.
Thank you to our content contributors
For admissions and all staff call us at: (504) 510-2331
© 2016 Two Dreams. All Rights Reserved.