On shame

Our stories are not meant for everyone. Hearing them is a privilege, and we should always ask ourselves this before we share: “Who has earned the right to hear my story?” If we have one or two people in our lives who can sit with us and hold space for our shame stories, and love us for our strengths and struggles, we are incredibly lucky. If we have a friend, or small group of friends, or family who embraces our imperfections, vulnerabilities, and power, and fills us with a sense of belonging, we are incredibly lucky.

Brené Brown

Posted from my cabin in the mountains.

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Shame, defined

Definition of shame: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/shame at Dictionary.com

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Addiction/shame

I think the thing that causes (me) to resist getting close to people is fear of rejection, kind of… but I’m not sure that’s the best way of describing it. Maybe the truth is more like: I have already rejected a part of myself, and I am ashamed of my inadequacies, and if I keep people at arms’ length they’re less likely to discover the thing(s) about which I am so deeply eaten up with shame. And I’m not insinuating that my character defects are better or worse than anyone else’s, mind you. I don’t spend a lot of time comparing myself to others; just to myself, and where I could, should, or ought to be, in my estimation.
I carry the blame for my faults on my own shoulders. It’s a battle between myself and the Committee -you know, the one between my ears- for the most part, and the choice to succumb to their tempting manipulations, I make, alone.

As the video in a previous post ( http://wp.me/p7osJG-37 ) pointed out, community is very much a part of recovery. It’s been that way for the entire time I’ve been clean, and it’s terribly unlikely to change within the foreseeable future.
I was listening to a podcast (Sober Right Now on Soundcloud) earlier, in which @Magzshores of http://www.sobercourage.com talked about losing a weekend in a blackout, and the feelings of losing custody of her child and the ensuing struggle to get sober & return to being an active participant in her daughters (and her own) life…
It made sense to me, how we truly are all the same, in the way we feel things. I thought of some of the details of my own getting-clean/early sobriety story, and contemplated whether and when I might ever share such deeply painful and ugly details. I feel certain that at some point I will tell you what it was like, what happened, and what it’s like now, but I don’t know when.

I know how I thought about the recovering women I knew, who had decades or more of continuous recovery, when I’d just come in. The wonder, the awe, the near-Divinity I ascribed to them. And then I think of how it feels, from the inside, to have so many years between myself and my last drink/drug. The difference between what I thought of them and what I know of myself is, well, rather disturbing. I wonder to myself whether they ever felt the same as I do, and I know deep inside that surely, some of them did.

In the past year or so, I’ve moved about 500 miles across the country from where my sobriety began, from where all of my friends and associates are, and settled in a place where it’s like starting in recovery all over again. The meetings are different, the people speak differently. I’ve felt like what the Germans call an Ausländer for just about a year. At least in Germany there were hundreds of others like me within close proximity, and it didn’t feel so much like being completely alone. There again, a small voice whispers, “we have a disease of perception”.
Since being in this strange new place, I’ve had beautiful experiences, and I’ve created a mess or two…someday I will stop tripping over mouse turds and shooting myself in the foot.

So, how can it be that a person with the dwindling powers of recall that I have, who can scarcely tell you what I had for dinner last night, is able to remember so many poor choices and raging character defects?? I don’t have to remember details, mind you, just situations where I failed, and where the consequences were not only long-lasting, but also deeply affected my family, as well.

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Regret

Suffice it to say, I’m going to have to make some local connections in order to get back to doing some step work.
There’s not many things that have been so reliable in helping everything calm down and feel safer, in my heart and soul, as working the Steps. But at the moment, letting someone get to know me is the LAST thing I want to do.
If I were talking to myself about this, I guess right about now is when I’d say “then it sounds like that’s just what you need to do.”

So, I read your blogs, and I learn the basics, over again, and ever so slowly, I share my e,s, & h. Thanks. Sometimes my need for you all is so very clear. It is, after all, “a WE Program”.

Posted from a hole under a rock.

The real cause for addiction

This is a short video that says a WHOLE lot. I would  be remiss in having this blog without including it.

The cause of addiction/alcoholism is a hotly debated subject. It seems that most people involved in the discussion have an emotional investment in either A) a loved one who is an active addict; B) a person who overdosed and did not live to tell about it; or C) their own addiction.

Rarely have I come across a conversation about addiction that didn’t end up with someone either pissed off or crying or both. Unless, of course, one of the people just shuts down and stops talking/listening. That will keep it from escalating to the point of an emotional volcano, erupting.

I suppose that those in the recovering community are the only ones who are able to have a calm discussion about this topic, because we have “lived to tell the tale”, as the old saying goes. In the case of emotional discussions, I have been A) a loved one of active addicts; B) a friend to those who have OD’d; and also C) an addict.

It’s kind of ironic how the closest people to the subject are often the ones who can talk about it rationally and calmly, while those going on hearsay or common opinion are too emotional to really hear anything true or logical about addiction.

Seeing the whirling dervish that is an active alcoholic/addict, and the destruction invariably left in their wake, it’s easy to see why those in relationship with them would be extremely emotional in their reaction. Surely any interaction with a mentally ill person would have a similar outcome. Anger, grief, shock, disgust, disappointment…sounds familiar, right?

I’m not sure where I’m trying to go with this, but I hope at least that your interest has been piqued enough to get you to take a look at the video.

Seriously, knowledge is power. Check it out. If you don’t know any addicts, now, (that you are aware of being addicted, that is), you may at some point discover that you do. And it would be great for both of you, if you were fore-armed with this info.

Danke. 🙂

2 definitions of addiction


I had a conversation recently that reminded me that I haven’t yet posted a definition of what I mean when I say “addiction”.
Oftentimes something is referred to as an addiction because a person is fervent about it, thinks about it constantly, and is never happier than when they’re involved in ______. I can be obsessive-compulsive about a variety of things to which I am not addicted. I can be giddy and excited when I anticipate doing, going,or being X, Y, or Z. That doesn’t make me addicted. Here’s what some really smart guys said about it…
Merriam-Webster:
Full Definition ofaddiction

1:  the quality or state of being addicted <addictionto reading>

2:  compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly :  persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful.

Or, put another way, a more detailed definition would be:

Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.

Addiction is characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.
(American Society of Addiction Medicine)
You can find an even more detailed definition here.

If you are able to stop drinking after one or two, without any qualms whatsoever, and if you never even think about drinking or using unless someone (or something) else brings it up, then it’s safe to say that you’re not an addict.
If you wake up thinking about using or drinking, or if your motivation for schlepping through Monday through Thursday is to get to FRIDAY, because then you can drink/drug/shop/game/act out sexually/eat for two whole days as much as you want…odds are pretty good that you are an addict.
Dependence, while it can be a lot like addiction, is not the same. If you’re dependent on something to alter your mood or how you feel, just to function, then you would be wise to look into what steps may be necessary to keep from crossing the indivisible line into addiction. No one can tell where that line is, but one thing is sure: once you’ve crossed the line into addiction, you’ll never not be an addict. You can’t un-pickle a pickle. Once you’ve baked a cake, it’s never going to be an egg, butter, milk, etc. again. There’s no going back.

The good news: there is a solution! The predominantly recognized answer to finding a way to live a satisfying and productive life, for alcoholics and addicts, is through a simple, 12-step program. There may be other ways to stop, and I’ve even heard of folks who have crossed the line and learned how to go back to social drinking/using. Usually, those individuals can be found working on Unicorn farms. Just sayin.

Posted from my office in the mountains.

Welcome to Wondrland

Happy Spring (in the US, that is)!
It’s been 19 days since the launch of this blog, and I just wanted to say hello and thank you for coming by and joining me as I venture down into the Rabbit Hole, uncovering and exploring curious things like addiction and mental health. And little cakes that make you smaller and drinks that make you grow. But enough about my drugs of choice. 😉

Some of you were blessed friends from the previous blog, and many of you here, are new to the block. We’re a fairly outspoken bunch, here, but also full of empathy and caring. I have said more than once that I care enough about people to risk them getting mad at me, if the truth angers them. If you or your loved one were in danger, wouldn’t you want to be warned?? If your answer is no, then this might not be the place for you. Maybe, if you stick around, you’ll change your mind, or maybe you’ll give me reason to change my mind.
So, how about an “ice breaker” –
Let’s play “2 truths and a lie”! I’ll tell you a couple of (true)things about myself that you may not know, and I’ll tell you a lie about me. You can guess which one is the lie, and also, leave me 2 truths and a lie about yourself in the comments. After there’s been enough time for everyone to leave their comments, I’ll tell you what was true and what was not.
1. When I was in 4th grade I told my classmates that I’d been on the kids’ show “ZOOM.
2. When I was young, I told my little brother that the white liquid inside of dandelions (when you snap the stem) was milk (and he needed to taste it to be sure).
3. I have 4 pairs of Chuck Taylor All-Stars.

Now, you.

Posted from my cabin in the mountains.