The Dark Night of Recovery: Conversations from the Bottom of the Bottleby Edward Bear, Health Communiations
This inspiring work shows readers what it feels like to "hit the wall" or "hit bottom" on a spiritual path, and gives them insight on how to move forward toward a better life. It deals with the darkness, the despair and the joy that are inherent in the quest for enlightenment and self-knowing. Though focused mainly on issues relating to recovery from various kinds of addictions, the principles presented in this tale hold true for all spiritual journeys.
The story of The Dark Night of Recovery is in the form of an ongoing dialogue between a relative newcomer to recovery (Lawyer Bob) and an old-timer (Tyler) who meet every two weeks to discuss life and turmoil and love and lust and everything else. Each of the twelve chapters deals with one of the Twelve Steps, using the wisdom of the Tao, the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, Winnie the Pooh, Yoda, Thomas Merton and many others. The story line follows Bob as he struggles through personal and spiritual problems, trying to apply the principles he is learning. At the end of the twelve sessions, Bob (and hopefully the reader) has acquired a few more skills to apply to the art of living one day at a time.
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Read an Excerpt
Most everybody knew old Tyler. He's been hanging around the Westside Alano club for as long as anyone could remember. Had a face looked like somebody forgot to water it; dry as an old boot, road-mapped with wrinkles, the face of a man who'd spent a good deal of time looking at horizons.
Lawyer Bob was the guy who wore the Armani suits, had the House on the Hill, the Big Job. Had it all. Everybody figured him for Mister Success. Huh. Little did they know. He had a hole in his life the size of a suitcase. Bob was the one told me the story about how he and Tyler got together a year or so ago when Bob was having all that trouble. Anyway, he went to Tyler because he figured that anyone with thirty years in recovery out to have some answers. First thing Tyler told him was he didn't have any answers. First thing, like he was reading his mind. Then he went on.
öSounds like youÆre about to enter the dark part of the forest. The part where the real work begins. You ready to go back school?ö
öI did the steps already,ö said Bob.
öGood. Once more wonÆt hurt. And try not to be defensive. IÆm on your side.ö
IÆm not being defensive.ö
YouÆre being defensive,ö said Tyler. ôTrust me on this; I know defensive when I see it. Now, it would seem that the preliminary work is done you have hit bottom sober. Very important. And now you are about to enter the Dark Night, the Great Desert, where you will either fall by the wayside and die, go mad, or survive and experience real recovery.ö
Thoer are the only choices?ö
öAll spiritual journeys contain elements of death and transfiguration. RecoveryÆs no different. ItÆs just part of the deal.ö
öSounds like major surgery,ö said Bob.
True. But the alternative is to stop growing and join those who linger in that gray limbo of semi-recovery, not drinking or using or feeding their other addictions, but not really living either, dispensing Advice and Tough Love to defenseless newcomers, glumly counting birthdays as if the sheer number might guarantee a certain amount of happiness. You want that?ö
öYou want to be free?ö
öI want to be free.ö
öGood. We may be on to something here. How about we meet at your place every other Tuesday? Seven oÆclock. You have a tape recorder?ö
ögood. Get some tapes. Long ones.ö
öMostly to humor an old man,ö said Tyler. ôAnd someday you may want to remember what it was like. You may even want to tellsomebody what it was like. ItÆll help you refresh your memory.ö
Bob said he tried to explain some of his numerous problems to Tyler that night, but Tyler wouldnÆt listen.
öYouÆve just got one problem, counselor. YouÆre addicted to a wide variety of things, most notably alcohol, and that addiction, that state of dis-ease, results in a pathological obsession with self, a condition needlessly prolonged by your desire to figure it out. Figure-it-out-ism is itself a disease nearly always fatal in advanced cases. Like yours. Often leads to whatÆs-the-use-ism or poor-me-ism, both known to be terminal in addicts of all kinds. What you really have is a surrender problem.ö
öA surrender problem?ö
öIÆll explain later. For your first assignment, read up to page forty-five in the Big Book and explain what powerless means. Read Step One in the Twelve and Twelve. Read the House at Pooh Corner and write down the most important passage.ö
The House at Pooh Corner?ö
öAs in Winnie-the-Pooh,ö said Tyler.
öThe most important passage in the whole book?ö
öItÆs not War and Peace, Bob. ItÆs just a little book. And read Chapter 71 in the Tao Te Chingand tell me how it relates to the First Step.ö
öAnd thatÆs just the beginning. ItÆs like life the lessons just keep coming. Suit up and show up and be ready. And one other thing.ö
öTry smiling once in a while. ItÆs just life. Far as I know, nobodyÆs getting out of this thing alive. Might as well enjoy the journey. See you in two weeks?ö
öIÆll be there.ö
öAnd so will I. Fasten your seat belt, counselor; you are about to embark on the journey of your life.ö
Bob asked me if IÆd transcribe the tapes, me being a writer and all. Two articles in the local paper and IÆm a writer. Of course, I donÆt discourage the notion. So here they are The Tyler Tapes (with only slight editing by yours truly). Bob says they saved his life. See what you think.
¬1999. All rights reserved. Reprinted from The Dark Night of Recovery by Edward Bear. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.
Meet the Author
Edward Bear, a pseudonym, was born in Brooklyn, NY and grew up in Los Angeles. Early experiences include a brief stint in minor league baseball, too many years in construction work, day labor, bartending, and a variety of dead-end jobs. He attended (sometimes very briefly) six colleges and received no degrees. A correspondence course in engineering landed him a job at Hewlett-Packard, where has been employed for 27 years.
His major influences are Winnie the Pool, Eugene O'Neill, John Steinbeck, Meister Eckhart, T.S. Eliot, and Jacques Maritain, not necessarily in that order. He has published several fiction pieces in small literary magazines and a novel, Diamonds Are Trump.
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