Use the Kathy Berman Blogs For Your Recovery Journey

Addiction Recovery Has Many Paths–Don’t Be Afraid to Take Several of Them


Recovery is Hard–

When I was 10 years sober–1987–I lived in Winter Park, Florida. I was a drug/alcohol counselor . I remember a pivotal AA meeting when AA was deciding to root out “crosstalk”. I believed and still believe crosstalk; used with loving, kind guidance; is the main way we learn about ourselves. That was the moment or time that the 12th step community took a giant step backward.

Bill Wilson had written in a Grapevine article in 1958, “I think that many oldsters who have put our AA “booze cure” to severe but successful tests still find they often lack emotional sobriety. Perhaps they will be the spearhead for the next major development in AA, the development of much more real maturity and balance (which is to say, humility) in our relations with ourselves, with our fellows, and with God.”

For 39 years I have watched many leaders in the 12th step community choose not to mature emotionally. Our health is rooted in our emotions so we can’t help anyone beyond our own emotional growth. We each have our own answers but sharing how we found ours helps others to find their answers.

So relapse is about being dry and not sober. Although I have been in recovery for over 39 years and haven’t drank or used any mind-altering substances, I have been dry many times. Sometimes for whole years. Much depended on why I was choosing to be in denial. I don’t think denial is about lying. But rather, I believe it is about not knowing the truth. You can’t lie about something you don’t know about.

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Addiction is the Bandage–Childhood Trauma is the Wound


We each have had a wounded childhood. In order to feel safe, we learned to cover our true feelings. I taught myself so well that even today, although I was born in 1940, when I feel unsafe, I hold my face absolutely rigid so that my feelings can’t be “read” by others.

So our self-image is distorted from our childhood. We want to believe that the self-image that we are projecting to the world is our true self. But our true self knows that this image is not who we are. So until we allow these inner distortions to be healed we are living an inner battle.

90% of Americans have low self-esteem. Our self-esteem (how we value ourselves) is built on our distorted self-image. Self-esteem can only be strengthened by learning who we really are and then by healing our distorted self image.

“A veritable gold mine of possibilities is hidden within each of us-aptitudes, attitudes, characteristics, and traits that once may have been conscious, but for some reason slipped away or were pushed away into our unconscious. In addition, there is great potential within each of us that has never had the opportunity to see the light of day. William A. Miller

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ACA Red Book Twelve Steps

379556928_f785fdbbbb_zMy recovery began in Nov. 24, 1976. But I didn’t discover my primary addiction until Sept., 2011. I went to AA in Nov. 1976 and had little problem accepting the fact that I am an alcoholic. I had also gone to ACOA meetings in the 1990s and had enjoyed them. But the ACOA I knew and the ACA Red Book are radically different.

The ACA Red Book immediately helped me to understand that although I am an alcoholic, my primary addiction began years ago in my family of origin. Trying to “fix” my core family problems absorbed my life and became the  foundation for all my future relationships and the 8 careers I used as efforts to fix my external world.

None of all those efforts fixed me. Then I found The Laundry List and the ACA Red Book, and I was finally home.

Retyped from ACA Red Book:

“Adult Children of Alcoholics was founded in 1978 in New York. Tony A. is considered the primary founder along with members of a Alateen group. The Alateens and Tony formed a specially focused meeting that broke away from Al-Anon and became the first ACA group. The new group, Generations, focused on recovering from the effects of being raised in a dysfunctional family rather than the Al-Anon focus of being powerless over alcohol.”

“Tony is the author of The Laundry List, the first piece of ACA literature. The Laundry List is a list of 14 characteristics or common behaviors that detail the adult child personality. Tony also developed the ACA Solution of attending meetings, focusing on ourselves, working the Steps, and feeling our feelings. Tony died in April 2004 at the age of 77.”

“Jack E. is given credit for establishing ACA in California and placing The Laundry List in a narrative form know as The Problem. The Problem is read at the opening of most ACA meetings. Jack’s recollections of ACA history are included here (in the Red Book).”

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Emotional Sobriety: Friends & Lovers

4757272746_2485c8da85_z No one else can make anyone feel anything, everything we feel is our choice. If we are choosing to continue in relationships, jobs, or situations that contribute to our feelings of negativity, we need to ask ourselves why we aren’t choosing to be happy. Happiness is a choice. With the choosing of happiness comes the responsibility to give up self-destructive patterns. Learn to distinguish what you like and what you don’t like.

The healing principle is that as we believe we will get better, we will get better. But choices have to be made. You can’t hold on to misery with one hand and reach for happiness with the other. As the trapeze artist lets go of one bar before she grasps the next one, so also must we give up misery for happiness.

Other methods to increase our self-esteem are (1) set goals from the dreams we have of what we would like to have in our lives, (2) learn to take risks in all areas of your life, and (3) develop a clear-cut precise schedule adding physical, mental, and spiritual healthy activities to our weekly life.

In developing positive self-talk, affirmations and guided imagery may be used. Remember our subconscious mind doesn’t know if something has happened already or is to happen in the future. Only the conscious mind knows time.

Therefore, don’t implant wishes or doubts with words like maybe or is or I hope. Use action positive words such as I am, I enjoy, I believe, I want, etc. Trust your subconscious to lead you to your “higher self”.

Develop an attitude of being gentle with yourself. Learn to recognize that the source of uncomfortable feelings is that we have added some degree of judgment to the future. The pain we feel is fear which is the withholding of love. The withholding hurts us as well as the person we’re “punishing”.

So all hatred is self-hatred first. It begins inside us and is projected outward. As we learn our loveability, we see the love in others. As we love ourselves, we project the love to others. As we love ourselves, we project to others. We confuse the giving of loving with the power of others. If I love someone who chooses not to love me, have I lost anything? If I choose to not love another and feel that hatred pass through me, have I gained anything? Who is the loser when I choose not to love?

We each have life issues that periodically disrupt our patterns. Knowing our issues helps us to accept the lessons quicker by spending less time in denial of them. Some of these issues may be: accepting our feelings, labeling our feelings, control, boundaries, intimacy, commitment, conflict, trust, authority figures, etc.

Likewise, we each are a collection of selves: (1) child, (2) adolescent, (3) teenager, (4) young adult, and possibly, (5) an older adult. Periodically, we need to “step back” emotionally and observe our own behavior in order to understand the behavior choices we are making.

In learning to check in with ourselves, we come to accept that just as we may be coming from several different vantage points from within ourselves, so also are all the other persons we encounter whether they are aware of their vantage points or not.

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Gratitude is the Only True Gift We Have For God


When I have trouble “hearing” God’s direction, a prayer of Thomas Merton (one of my pilgrims) always helps:

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

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Increasing Self-Esteem Frees Up Addictions

5434541912_9e55fb3821_zMy feelings are that a person is born with innate characteristics, such as a sense of self-worth. As the person grows, environmental factors such as society, family, teachers, or peers can help the person’s self worth either grow and develop fruitfully or be weakened.”

“Self esteem, like so many other characteristics, can be learned or unlearned. Yes, we are born with our personalities, but through time, growth and experience, these can be altered through learning, attitude, motivation and inspiration when external forces work on internal forces.”

“In the event of a person being born with a chemical imbalance, which predisposes him/her to anxiety or depression, we must make a shift in thinking. A person with an anxiety disorder or depression may have to work a bit harder to find happiness and a sense of self-worth, but these certainly are treatable conditions and the person can still live a wonderful life of high quality.” K.C. Kelley

Addictions are the bandage covering the wound of not feeling worthy. I just discovered in 2010, that my primary addiction was to my family of origin—the family I grew up in. I have a picture of myself at age 5 which is about when I started thinking that I was terribly unfit to be in this family. There was always fighting, drama and violence. We had our loving times, too. I believe that my parents did the best they could. When describing those years, I love what ACA says about The Problem: “This is a description, not an indictment.”

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Change Your Focus: Change Your Life

Balancing Your Energy

2349801988_306bfd2972_z“The concept of energy and the flow of that energy in the human body is the core of the current explosion in healing. The healing principle is to “balance” the energy in the body by using relaxation to counter the body’s reaction to stress.” The Berkeley Holistic HealthCenter

No one else can make anyone feel anything, everything we feel is our choice. If we are choosing to continue in relationships, jobs, or situations that contribute to our feelings of negativity, we need to ask ourselves why we aren’t choosing to be happy. Happiness is a choice. With the choosing of happiness comes the responsibility to give up self-destructive patterns. Learn to distinguish what you like and what you don’t like.

The healing principle is that as we believe we will get better, we will get better. But choices have to be made. You can’t hold on to misery with one hand and reach for happiness with the other. As the trapeze artist lets go of one bar before she grasps the next one, so also must we give up misery for happiness.

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A Relationship Blog for Recovering People

8488447562_8344b60f1c_zRecovery is First

When you are in recovery, nothing–no person, no job, no group, no finances, no emotions–can become more important than staying clean.

“Change occurs when you become what you are, not when you try to become what you are not…change seems to happen when you have abandoned the chase after what you want to be (or think you should be) and have accepted–and fully experienced-what you are.” Janette Rainwater

Daily Checklist

Addiction recovery means living with structure

Is gratitude the foundation for your life?

Do you have a support group of 3-5 people?

Are you living in today?

Ask for help on a regular basis even if it is just something small

Have a daily action plan of things to improve your life

Memorize a positive statement or quotation daily in the morning

Have a few books on hand to read in down times

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A Group Healing Plan for Recovering Families


  1. “What is addiction, really? It is a sign, a signal, a symptom of distress. It is a language that tells us about a plight that must be understood.” – Alice Miller
  2. “Not feeling is no replacement for reality. Your problems today are still your problems tomorrow.” – Larry Michael Dredla
  3. “Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” – Carl Bard

Having begun my healing in 1976, I have seen many families excited at the prospect of healing for their loved ones only to have to face the reality that the loved one has entered a new world. Often it is a world that other family members don’t enter. Addiction feels as if it is the addict’s problem. But addiction is a family disease. We all learn how to dance to addiction’s tune. Addiction is in control of all the family members.

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Kathy Berman’s Blogs. Facebook Pages, an Pinterest Boards

WordPress Landing Pages Can Be Your Social Media Hub

4695081256_659781c63f_zWhy You Need a Landing Page Instead of a Website

Websites have a main page, generally called home, that introduces your readers to your business. This landing page can also be created in a free blog. It will look the same but it will be free every month you use it. From this landing page, you can develop a social media campaign.

Landing pages are where readers land after they have found you on search. Your name for the site should be clear, concise, and attention-getting. It should be targeted toward filling a customer need. are free blogs that offer you the ability to create your own landing pages.

This is a blog I created to show you what a good blog can look like: Facebook Fan Pages, Pinterest, and Blogs Can Be Interconnected.

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Codependency Recovery

8027307158_cc07fef8d8_zMy 33rd year of recovery from alcohol addiction began Nov. 24, 2009. Needless to say to anyone living a spiritual quest, many emotions are stirred up during an anniversary.

In taking another 5th step, I realized that I had recreated the home of my childhood.  I had the good mommy role and my husband was the bad daddy. As I stated there, he acted out his misery by having an affair and leaving me.

This experience has led me on the path of healing my childhood wounds. I was the oldest child–or rather, I was the youngest parent in that home. I took my duties so seriously that I taught myself to deny pleasure. In return, the power connected to this role of being the boss was my first addiction. One that I am only now giving up.

I believe those of us growing up in violent homes suffer from PTSD. I was particularly drawn to the definition of PTSD. Wikipedia defines it as “ Posttraumatic stress disorder(commonly referred to by its acronym, PTSD, is a severe anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to any event which results in psychological trauma. This event may involve the threat of death to oneself or to someone else, or to one’s own or someone else’s physical, sexual, or psychological integrity, overwhelming the individual’s psychological defenses.”

In reading about Iraq veterans and PTSD, I identified immediately with the social isolation. I have done this all my life. Although I am a loner and am suspicious of anyone not content being alone, isolation leads me to paranoia and discontent. I am learning a balance finally because I am now free to talk about all my feelings.

I have also identified the brain chemistry associated with my codependency. So I learned how to reparent myself.

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Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA) Online

2812880376_eac3ab2408_zAlcoholics Anonymous started in 1935 and has spawned over 200 different types of twelve step meetings. One of the first to deal with feelings was ACOA–Adult Children of Alcoholics. It was a formula designed to touch on a lot of emotion–adult, children and alcoholic. Our reality is in our feelings. Our emotional patterns are established in our childhood. I believe that addiction starts from these patterns begun in childhood.

Codependency means being part or dependent on someone else for our emotional completion. Being reared in a home with frequent emotional strife means being reared with emotional healing issues.

At some level we have each experienced feelings of abandonment, difficulty trusting others, having boundaries, trouble standing up for ourselves or feeling shameful because of others’ actions. We may have learned these emotional choices in our family of origin.

Feelings are our choice. We can choose positive emotional choices.

Onion House has written the following about ACOA characteristics:
“The problem is that we come to feel isolated, uneasy with other people, and especially authority figures. To protect ourselves, we became people pleasers, even though we lost our own identities in the process. All the same, we would mistake any personal criticism as a threat.”

“We either become alcoholics ourselves or married them or both. Failing that, we found another compulsive personality, such as a workaholic, to fulfill our sick need for abandonment”.

“We lived life from the standpoint of victim. Having an over-developed sense of responsibility, we preferred to be concerned with others rather than ourselves. We somehow got guilt feelings when we stood up for ourselves rather than giving in to others. Thus, we became reactors, rather than actors, letting others take the initiative.”

This is also the classic definition for codependency–the common thread in addiction. Children in troubled homes learn that they aren’t as important as continuing the pretend picture of the family. Actually the family is in an ever-increasing cover-up which continues to eat up most of the family energy.

I recently met a classmate from high school–we graduated in 1958–and I was sharing some of my growing up experiences. She said that it was hard for her to believe what I remembered about my core family as she viewed us as the perfect All-American family. I guess we were better at the cover-up than I thought. I remember feeling so guilty as I cried on the way to school that I couldn’t save my mother from the arguments my parents had. It never entered my mind to wonder why she couldn’t save herself.

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Books to Help You Become Stress Free

IMG_1743BThe Changemaker Library includes books for the following topics: core books, creativity, exercise, food, health, meditation, piece of mind, personal development, recovery, spiritual direction, and stress reduction.

For the Changemaker Library, we will be including the basic features of some books you may want to use. All of the books used are the choices of Changemaker without solicitation from any author or publisher. At the beginning of the post, we have listed the name of the book, the author, the ISBN number, and a link where you can order the book if you choose. The rest of the post includes actual content from that book for you to better be able to determine if this is a book for you.

I keep my special books together and use them frequently. I call them my textbooks as I seek direction time and time again from them. The Changemaker Library presently has 50+ books that we are recommending. This library can be acquired gradually either for your individual work or resources.

The Changemaker Library has ten separate topics.

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Learning Your Labels

4909905453_88ec9ecb9e_zHave you ever wondered what your personality labels mean about you?

Everyone has many personality labels yet most of us resist being labeled. Over a lifetime, we each will have hundreds of labels because we have unique life experiences. The main way that we learn our labels is from others. We generally resist these learnings as it feels that the labels have a negative connotation. Yet most of our labels are positive and negative at the same time.

We each love to learn about ourselves. But we pretend that we don’t want to know. It is the same maneuver we use to view a group picture that includes us. While oohing and aahing over all the other group members, we are secretly gazing at ourselves. Most of the labels used by counselors are unknown by clients.

Have you started a path of self-discovery?

It is estimated by the age of 21, each of us has acquired 20,000 hours of negative self-talk. Learn to listen to the voices in your head. Whatever you are thinking is what you are feeling. By learning our personality traits, we can determine the positives about ourselves and change the negative thoughts to positive ones.

Personality study is a type of psychology that has found the study of personality traits to be a valuable indicator of behavioral choices. Each of the psychological groups (cognitive, psychoanalytic, humanist, behavioral, existential, transpersonal, or social development) use personality indicators.

Do you want to help others to better understand themselves?

The Changemaker Test offers education for self-discovery as Changemaker believes that the change within a person involves the courage to see (insight) and the courage to act (action). The Changemaker Test will teach anyone 10 labels about themselves. Therefore, by using the labels to change themselves, the changemaker is the person who decides to learn and make the change happen.

This test is meant to be the starting point for self-discovery. With the complete test, answers and explanations, anyone can test their friends and family. Also anyone who has compassion for others, can use these materials to begin discussion groups of persons interested in self-discovery.

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The High Energy 12 Week Plan

110603-N-AD372-328“The concept of energy and the flow of that energy in the human body is the core of the current explosion in healing. The healing principle is to “balance” the energy in the body by using relaxation to counter the body’s reaction to stress.”    The Berkeley Holistic Health Center

The High Energy Life Plan integrates all the tools for living a healthy, balanced life. Many times busy people will see or read something that they would love to integrate into their lives. But they lack the time to plan and execute a total health plan.

Daily we are experiencing an overload of information. We have become accustomed to “sound bites”. So the High Energy Life Plan contains many descriptive links so you may use the individual information that you choose. So instead of publishing a book for you, we have published all the information links that you can choose to create your own, individual book to use for your High Energy Life.

Each week has individual choices for food/diet choices, exercise choices, and emotional/mental techniques for stress reduction. All the pretests, measurements, references for each of the three categories (diet, exercise, and emotional/mental tools) are given.

Our goal is that each person using the High Energy Life Plan can create and continually change her/his health plan. Health takes effort to maintain. Each of us needs to know what we need to attain our highest level of health.

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How to Start and Grow a Recovery Peer Group Sharing Experience, Strength, and Hope

2451784799_dcbb8d5bbf_zIn Changemaker groups, the group leader leads only by getting the group together. By caring for others, the group members can learn as well as teach self-discovery. The group leader/leaders may choose to charge or ask for donations to pay for the meeting room and materials.

To lead education groups, Changemaker groups, the only requirement for the business is to have an occupational license to run a business. Changemaker groups are not therapy groups so no other license is required.

Changemaker groups are grow groups as the members have a desire for self-discovery. The groups may be a group who never formally meet but instead are joined together in a virtualgroup. They may choose to come together by some basic personality labels in common. They also may exchange email addresses, instant messaging addresses or meet in a chat room.

Through Changemaker Groups, we provide short-term specialized direction and solutions to help others to better understand themselves and ourselves.. With this direction and self-knowledge others will learn to implement techniques designed to lead to greater self-mastery.

Groups are the recognized best method for people to gain information and acceptance from others. One of the main underpinings of AA is that all members are peers. Anyone has the opportunity to share and to be heard.

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Our Online Retreat: A Place to Strength Our Faith

7515622094_a2c0156278_z“In the adult there lurks a child–an eternal child, something that is always becoming, is never completed, and that calls for increasing care, attention, and education. This is the part of the human personality that wishes to develop and become whole.” Carl Jung

Healing begins when, in spite of all the negative self-talk going on inside a person, that person feels someone caring and loving them for no apparent reason. This unconditional love comes in spite of attempts by the loved one to find a motive in the lover. Unconditional love means no judgment so no motive is found other than that the loved is indeed lovable. This love changes a person forever.

If you can help someone get in touch with the creativity inside them, you have helped a person discover the beautiful self he/she is inside. Our joy lives in our creativity which is the joyful, playful child inside. The self-esteem school of helping people requires living in the head. Getting in touch with creativity requires living in the heart.

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The Free Road; Reparenting Ourselves and Others

4929687589_6dd6b4ac53_zHaving been an addictions counselor for years and in my personal recovery since 1976,  I know that healing comes from within. It usually begins with someone realizing that another person is loving them unconditionally. What is unconditional love? It is love from one person to another without ulterior motives. Unfortunately, we usually experience unconditional love from new people in our lives.

As children, we are taught hundreds of ways that we are unlovable. Transactional analysis states that we have over 20,000 hours of negative feedback about ourselves that we are continually rebroadcasting to ourselves.

After we learn how to shut off this committee of negative voices in our head, we begin to see how our real self is vulnerable to such attacks from our mind. The mind is best used a the switching station for our thoughts. If it is allowed to dominate and control, it will choose to keep us submissive by negatively. I always say that our mind is out to get us. But, in reality, we simply have to learn how to use the mind and begin relying more on the soul as our guide for our lives.

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Twelve Steps: Recovery is a Return to Sanity

8705632484_d1a4763cc7_zDealing with alcoholism and depression means needing a different path than only doing the Twelve Steps for recovery. I don’t believe that my core issues can be solved by the Twelve Steps of any self-help group.

Having grownup in a home controlled by alcoholism, I was able to see my addiction very early into the disease. Thanksgiving, 1976, I told my family that I thought I was an alcoholic. I fully expected everyone to disagree with me because I had not had any outward signs. But, my mother said that she had been afraid of that. So I was stuck with the admission and being the “perfect daughter”, I never drank again and went to AA. That was in November, 2004.

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