Is perfection even a thing?

I’ve been thinking lately about doing new things, doing old familiar things; success and failure.
One of my favorite things to say to myself (I don’t know why, but I suspect I can figure it out)is that “I’m not good enough”. Not a good enough wife, not a good enough mom, and certainly not a good enough writer to ever do more than copy & paste crap on Facebook.
Where in Hell does all that come from? Yeah, I did kinda just answer my own question.
I know that my parent’s parents had high expectations for them, according to the idea of “success” back in the 1940’s, 50’s, and so on. We’ve all seen the American Success Story prototypes, right?

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The media (what there was, then) never showed people who were dirty, hungry, overweight, poor or mentally ill – at least not for more than a moment, (not to mention drunks or addicts) and certainly “those people” weren’t seen as having any positive qualities. Even Otis, from The Andy Griffith show, was only good for laughs and making everyone feel better about themselves. “Poor Otis…” I have no doubt that the Middle Class dream, around that time, looked a whole lot like Ward & June Cleaver’s place. Heck, even the single parents of that era had their sh*t together. Hmmm. Were there any single Moms, back then? None come to mind. Musta been too depressing to show that part of society.

So, is it any wonder that just one short generation later, we are wracked with insecurities and self-doubt?

So, here’s the flip-side of this deal: it’s false pride. (Ouch)
Yep. It’s all a bunch of “Me me me me me!” Cos, guess what?
When I stop looking at how weak and wretched I am, and remember what really matters, all that kinda fades away. Or rather, Who matters.
I’m not gonna go on a scripture-quoting rant, but I will share with you what I heard as I thought about this dark place I seem to be drawn to…
I can do all things through Him, when I let Him lead. When I am weak, He is strong, when I keep my eyes on Him, things work out.
The One Who works all things together for my good, according to His purposes, has given me so many reasons to know that He’s got my back…He’s the One who brings beauty from ashes. He loves us, the unlovely ones. Jesus said that He didn’t come for those who (thought they) were well, but He came for we who recognise our sickness, our need for Salvation, from our own mess, among other things. My favorite scripture is John 3:17. God didn’t send His son to condemn us, but so that through Him we might be saved.
I’ve gotta get a grip on who it is that tells me lies about myself: I’m not smart enough, young enough, they won’t like me, my clothes aren’t nice enough, my hair is wrong, I’m destined to live in the slums forever…
I’m not trying to say that any of those things would make me a bad person. I just want to see some kind of forward momentum from my efforts. One step forward & 2 steps back really gets tiresome. But, like I think Mother Teresa said, we’re not called to be successful. We’re called to obey.
God is well known for using weak to shame the strong, and the least of these to beat the greatest.
Ok, Lord. I’m giving it to You.
AGAIN.

Posted from my non-villa, nowhere near any hamlet.

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2 Wildly Contradictory Views of 1 Disease (Part 2 of 2)

~~~NOTE: This is my experience, strength and hope, as a recovering alcoholic/addict. It’s not what I learned in a book. It’s things I’ve learned from folks who lived it.~~~

…so, where did we leave off? Oh, yeah. “I don’t have a problem” vs. “Oh, Hell, yes you do.”

It seems like a reasonable question, from a parent, spouse, friend, or even concerned employer, to ask “What can I do to make this insanity stop?” There’s where it gets really crazy. Why?

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“Shoot me now!”

Because YOU can’t do a thing to make them stop. Or even slow down. Nope. Sorry.  Look at it this way, if you could change the way their lives were going, wouldn’t you have, by now? It’s not like you haven’t done your best to “help” them!!

If loving you, the kids, their pets, their home, or even themselves (or whomever) were enough motivation to cause the alcoholic/addict to stop the insanity, they would have stopped a long time ago. Love or not has NOTHING to do with addiction (including alcoholism). One of the results of addiction, actually, is self-loathing, because they more often than not, know that they’re hurting you. But they are powerless to stop. For now.

If a good job being jeopardized was enough to get them to stop, they would have, after losing the first one. Right?  Ditto, losing their drivers’ license. Ditto, spending time in the county lock-up. Seems simple, doesn’t it? “Just quit!” or even, “Learn to drink like a gentleman!

So, addiction has nothing to do with how the addict feels about the world around them, necessarily. Sure, depression and/or countless other mental illnesses may accompany the addiction, or have become more noticeable to you since the person began to increase their consumption. Many drugs (including alcohol) mimic mental illness, eventually, after enough has been consumed. But that’s not the reason why they drink or use drugs…

I’m not going to go into an in-depth dialogue of why some folks get addicted and others don’t, or what causes addiction. Maybe in another post, but not this one.  The insanity of the disease of addiction is apparent in the behavior of not only the alkie/druggie, but also in the behavior of everyone in a relationship with them.

Today I’m hoping to reach out to the ones caught in the whirlwind of addiction brought on by their loved ones, and offer real, tangible hope.

The point is, the only one who is capable of deciding to stop drinking or using drugs, on a daily basis, is the one doing them in the first place.

What you can do, to HELP this person, will sound crazy, but consider it, please, in contrast to the ways you’ve been trying to “help” them.

*I am fully aware the this is going to sound harsh, and a lot of people involved with (us) will reject this advice across the board.*

Treat them like an adult. Let them take responsibility for their own screw-ups. Give them the dignity of finding their own solutions. You giving them is not likely to work, after all, haven’t you given them your best answers? (They have to find their own. You CAN’T do it for them.)

You didn’t pay the electric bill? Wow, that’s gotta suck. Do you need some candles? You don’t have any food in the  house? Maybe there are food pantries around that you can find. (Here’s a pb & j in the meantime. I’ll take the kids to McDonald’s, but you can pay your own way.)

You need gas to get to work? Ok, I’ll meet you at the gas station and put some into your tank. (This does not involve any money -plastic or otherwise- transferring from your hand to theirs. You go inside and pay the attendant. Or don’t: you’ll find out for yourself how that works out.)

                          ***LOVE THEM ENOUGH TO RISK THEM HATING YOU***

The problem with having children in the midst (which the alcoholic KNOWS is an effective manipulation tool-look how well it’s been working), is that they are going to suffer because of the choices their parents make. I’m not saying that you abandon the kids. Take the children out for a bite, take the children home for a sleep-over, even take temporary custody if you can or feel you must. (The fact is, if you know of neglect of abuse going on, think of what may be happening that you’re not  aware of. In the throes of our addiction, we are very talented in guarding evidence that might slow down or stop our using or drinking.) The thing is, the addict is going to look for any possible way to play on your sympathy, guilt, or love for them/their kids, to get to their prime goal: that next high. If you’re not  going to directly supply them, then they are going to find some way to relieve you of some cash.

Here’s the bottom line, dear friends: when an addict/alcoholic is active in their addiction, you are no longer interacting with the person you know and love. You are dealing with their disease. It helps me to understand the “disease” model by framing it within the realm of a mental illness. People with diagnosable mental illness act differently, don’t they? They often do things that they later regret, hurting those they care the most about, and some form of treatment is usually the only thing that will bring back any semblance of lucidity.  Sometimes therapy is enough, sometimes medication is needed for some amount of time, but ignoring it NEVER works. Seriously.

Trying to reason with a person in a bipolar/depressive/schizo-effective episode is like trying to teach a pig to sing:  It wastes your time and annoys the pig. People tried to talk to me about my consumption of mind-altering chemicals, and at BEST, they received a bored or irritated look in return.

Unless and until the person comes to the conclusion that their way isn’t working, they’re not going to seek out help. SO, since you DO love them, and you HAVE to do SOMETHING, please, take my advice:

Take care of you. Get to an ALANON or NARANON meeting, or a counselor familiar with addiction, to help you find the best way to detach from the insane behaviors and strengthen yourself. If you don’t take care of you, how are you ever going to be able to “be there” for them, if and when they come to their senses and seek help.

If you’ve read this far, I thank you. Some day, your loved one will thank you, if you actively work towards setting them free to take as much discomfort as they require, to decide to STOP. I leave you with one thought, that I heard from a wonderful lady in ALANON, many years ago:

How can they hit bottom if you keep sliding a mattress under their butt?

😉

 

 

2 Wildly Contradictory Views of 1 Disease (Part 1 of 2)

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All the cool kids are doing it

I really tied one on last weekend! I don’t even remember how I got home! I was either in bed or the bathroom all day Sunday, and I only made it to work for half a day, Monday! Whew. I can’t wait till Friday night; me & my friends are gonna hit this new place downtown!

Does that sound familiar? I’m positive I’ve said all that before, and didn’t have an inkling that it wasn’t normal. I thought EVERYONE did that.

Then there’s the other side of that coin:

The parent/spouse’s perspective:

“Did you know that “Sam” was out all night, again, last Friday? I heard a car door slam in the driveway, around 4am, so I’m guessing that’s when she got home. Then, on Sunday, she only got out of bed long enough to run to the bathroom. She’s been so moody lately, I almost look forward to when she’s drinking. It’s the only time she’s not a total bitch. I don’t know why Sam can’t just drink like everyone else!”

How about the co-worker/friend’s side:
“Sure, “Joe” likes to party, but doesn’t everyone? I mean, he works hard, what’s wrong with cutting loose on Friday night? The Boss doesn’t seen to mind him missing a few Monday mornings, as long as the work is done the rest of the week. Joe doesn’t drink that much more than I do! Besides, he’s an adult. It’s not my business to tell him how to live. He must’ve been ok; he had a couple of cups of coffee before he drove himself home!”

Now, I’ve heard in hundreds of (12-step) meetings that you’re not an alcoholic unless you say you are. Is that true?
I’m not going to tell you that you are, or you’re not, but I will tell you this:
If it walks like a duck; if it talks like a duck; if it poops through feathers…it’s probably a duck.

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Quack and sh*t.

That being said, in the alcohol abuser/alcoholics’ mind: If it’s not a problem, it’s not a problem. The thing that keeps most alcoholics/addicts from getting clean and/or sober is the fact that, in their mind, they don’t have to.

You can talk, yell, cry, or ignore someone whose drinking seems to be excessive, in hopes that they will decide to “get it under control”. More often than not, there won’t be any discernible change, regardless of how gently, harshly, or frequently the problem is brought to light.

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Wanna guess which one was Yours Truly?

Not at first.
Sometimes, an alcoholic (or addict) will get a “Judicial Scholarship” requiring them to attend x number of 12-step meetings, or check into a treatment center, in hopes that they might hear something…and occasionally, it works. Sometimes, after a few DUIs, a few mandatory stays in a treatment facility, and/or some jail time, Sobriety begins to become attractive.

More often than not, it hasn’t really sunk in that the person has a problem that they need to solve…Unless and until the alcoholic/addict comes to the conclusion, the belief, DEEP DOWN INSIDE that their lifestyle is just not worth it anymore, you’re wasting your breath.

Sorry.

 

 

Posted from my cubicle in the library.

Would you be my, could you be my…

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The one man who loved me just the way that I was.

…won’t you be my Guest Blogger? Hi, Neighbor! 🙂
So, do you now hear Mr. Rogers’ voice singing in your head? And the “ding-ding” of trolley cars?? Yeah, me too. Just checkin’.
Regardless of whether or not you recognize that handsome fellow, I’m looking for some help. The time has come for some brave and wonderful soul to be my very first guest blogger! I’ve not done this before, so I hope you will be patient with me. If you would be so gracious as to write an Intro for my readers, and then answer 2-3 questions about your own experience with mental illness/addiction, PLEASE leave me a comment below, saying as much. I haven’t any idea of whom I particularly want, but there are a few of my fabulous readers that I’m really hoping will step up.
Don’t be shy!
Remember, kids, “a friend who cares is a friend who shares“. 😉
Look for a way-cool bit of Special Guest Bloggishness here-abouts, soon. (Woohoo! Are you excited? I am.)

Posted from my cabin in a pasture.

11 Simple questions that may change everything

Every day, thousands of folks wonder if they have a drinking problem. A Clinician friend of mine days “If it’s not a problem, it’s not a problem.” It’s a sign of strength to recognize when you’re fighting a losing battle. Please share this. Somebody might be wondering.

AM I AN ALCOHOLIC?

1. Have you ever awakened the morning after some drinking the night before and found that you could not remember part of the evening before?
2. Does your family ever worry or complain about your drinking?
3. Do friends or relatives think you are a normal drinker?
4. Are you always able to stop drinking when you want to?
5. Have you ever attended a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)?
6. Have you gotten into fights when drinking?
7. Has drinking ever created problems with you and your family?
8. Has your family ever gone to anyone for help about your drinking?
9. Have you ever lost friends or relationships because of your drinking?
10. Have you ever gotten into trouble at work because of your drinking?
11. Have you ever lost a job because of drinking?
If you answered “yes” to more than one of these questions, you should discuss your drinking with a professional to better identify your drinking habits…or, go to some AA meetings and listen. 🙂

Posted from my cabin in the mountains.

Triggers & other purple things

Usually, when people talk about “triggers”, they’re referring to things that cause a sudden, undeniable desire to drink or use. A trigger may be a sight, a sound (like a certain song), a place, a smell, a taste, or even a physical touch. Here’s a definition:
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TRIG-GER
ˈTRIG-gr

verb
1.
cause (an event or situation) to happen or exist.

“an allergy can be triggered by stress or overwork”

synonyms:precipitate, prompt,elicit, trigger off, set off, spark (off), touch off, provoke, stir up
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Often a trigger for alcoholics & addicts to want to pick up may be an unhappy or tragic memory. It can sometimes be easy to determine what’s triggering the reaction (conscious awareness), or it can at other times be something more diffucult (subconscious). The thing is that often, a triggered epidose feels like being “blind-sided”, and the only warning is a sudden, bad, feeling.

In the mornings at my place of employment, staff usually turns to Youtube on the flatscreen tv, and everyone walks or exercises to whatever music is playing, for 30-45 minutes.
The staff are a diverse bunch of people, so the musical selections can be just about anything.
Recently, I had a rather disturbing reaction to the morning tunes…

Someone wanted to listen to Prince, (his death still being so recent) so we watched his videos for close to an hour.

I loved Prince. I loved his music, I loved his mystique, I loved his dancing, and I loved how beautiful he was to look at. 😚 He was a musical genius, he was eloquent with words, and he was charming. I discovered that day, that his music triggers me.

I tried to sing along (I know more of his music than I don’t), and I watched him singing and dancing, and I felt…not great. To say I was surprised would be an understatement. It had been many years since listening to Prince’s tunes, and I do not recall having that kind of response, ever before.

It took me a few minutes to figure out what was bothering me -during which time I alternated between paying attention (I mean, IT WAS PRINCE!) and trying to distract myself, as the uneasy feeling grew in my gut.

As far as I can tell, this is what happened:
I listened to Prince Rogers Nelson from the time I was in high school until about the time I got sober, during which time I ingested a whole lot of drugs and alcohol.
The saying in those days was “sex, drugs, and rock’n roll.” Those 3 things were the whole point of life, as far as I could tell, and while I doubt anyone would categorize Prince’s work as “rock ‘n roll”, in my experience, there was a ridiculous amount of the other two going on.
During this period, his music really was like the soundtrack of my life. Most any song you could mention of his, even ones who were made famous by someone doing a cover, from (about) 1979-1993, will bring back a ton of memories. The problem being that there are a lot of those memories that I really don’t want to remember.
You might not realize this, but the life of a female addict tends to be essentially, one fearful, chaotic, and sometimes traumatic situation after another.

Apparently, on a deeply subconscious level, Prince’s music is synonymous with that time, for me…now, to clarify, I’m not saying that this situation brought up feelings of wanting to use, cos that’s not the case. If I hadn’t spend such a long time focusing on self-care, it surely could have been like that.

I felt uncomfortable that morning, even moreso seeing how everyone else appeared to be greatly enjoying the music, dancing, etc., and not knowing exactly what to do. I really wanted to leave, but equally didn’t relish the thought of explaining myself to my Supervisor. So, I prayed; I forced myself to think of music that was almost the opposite of the melodies playing, and I took a bathroom break. (And repeated)

Yes, I’ve been working with PTSD for most of my “adult” life. I don’t talk a lot about it because a), it’s become more of an undercurrent when it comes up, as opposed to the tsunami it’s been in years past; and b), I feel like the majority of (Normies) don’t put much stock into non-war veterans really having post-traumatic stress disorder. I know better, but I’m not looking to invest my emotional energy into arguing about it with ignorant folks.
So, that’s my recent “trigger” story. I know that music effects many people strongly, so I wanted you to know that it happens to many of us.

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Long live Prince

Posted from my cabin far from Paisley Park.