Saturday afternoon contemplations

I feel like I want to write something – God knows there’s plenty of verbage flying around in my mind – but I’m just not sure what.

Comparisons are baaad, mkay?

(Please excuse the South Park humor) I don’t have a functional radio/cd player in my ride, so I’ve been immersing myself in Recovery podcasts. It’s really been a blessing, and it’s good to be sitting in traffic, listening to “my people” talking about the kind of life that I -and not so many other folks -have experienced and lived to tell about. I catch myself laughing (a great recovery tool in its own right) and nodding in agreement on my way to and from work, and for that, I’m really grateful. (See links at the bottom of the post for some of my favorites.)

Just one problem

The drawback being, my (internal) Committee – you know, the Itty Bitty Shitty Committee – is forever comparing me to them. The guys and gals who are so witty, so good at expressing themselves, and (clearly) kicking ass in their own lives. They tell me that all of the writers and/or podcasters are infinitely smarter, younger, more attractive, better at their jobs, less damaged, self-confident, domestically skilled partners, living with financial security, great parents, being paid to do the work that satisfies their hearts and souls, and on and on ad nauseam…

Getting into the Solution

It helps me at times like this, to refer to the list of positive qualities that I’ve written down that sits at my make-up table.

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My positives list

Last week I solicited these from a couple friends who’ve known me for a long time, and from one wonderful person who’s seen me in a professional capacity, which is to say that we worked together. They were able to give me a respectable list of positive qualities, to be sure. Just knowing there women causes me a great feeling of gratitude. I’m humbled to have them count me as a friend.
I need to read this list DAILY.
I think I’ll go do that now.

Hang on.

To be honest

I suppose since “honest” is one of the words my friends described me with, I should tell you that what I referred to as a “make-up table” is, in reality, an ironing board in a closet where I put on the make-up before going into work. Ok, so that’s cleared up.

Anyway, it’s a difficult task, letting the positives come into my mind without immediately deflecting them, shooting them out of the sky like so many skeet shooters. I mean, I’ve known me for a REALLY long time, and I’ve SEEN some of the things I’ve done AND STILL DO. Some, more than just occasionally!!

What would I tell a friend in this situation?

Asking myself that question has been tremendously helpful. I have a gift for exhortations, but I am so often completely incapable of speaking to myself with kindness and grace.

Soooo….

If I were talking to a friend, I’d remind her that we tend to judge our own insides by other people’s outsides. The “beautiful people” may feel insecure and unworthy, just like me, but maybe they’re just better at hiding it.
Maybe I need to work on forgiving myself for being imperfect. Maybe I’ll pursue that counsellor I talked to my GP about the other day, especially now that I’ve got insurance again. Maybe it’s time to adjust the meds again.

Anyway, it’s gonna be ok. I’m working on transparency, here, again. I don’t know if any you struggle with these things, but if anyone else does, I’m hoping this will help.
You’re not alone.
It gets easier. It really does. I promise.

Here’s links to some of my favorite pod-talkers. (Soundcloud ROCKS,YO.)

Since Right Now / The Recovery Revolution

Sober Courage

Bad Story

Buzzkill

High Wire Girl

I so wish podcasts were around when I crawled back into pseudo-reality. They’re quite brilliant, and they go great with a strong cuppa joe and a bagel.

Posted from my cabin in the mountains.

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Joy, Rapture & Terror or, How I Learned to Survive Extreme Feelings without Drink or Drugs

Good news & Bad news

Ok, kiddos, there’s good news, and there’s bad news, about getting clean/sober. The good news is, you’re gonna be able to feel GOOD again, in all the various forms “good” comes in. And the bad news is…well, I hate to be the one to have to break this to you, but the bad news is that you’re gonna start to feel the gamut of BAD again, as well. Yeah, I’m sorry. The thing is, if you want to feel the GOOD, you also have to feel the BAD.
Now, I’m not gonna tell you how to navigate the tsumani of emotions that are gonna hit you all through your first year or so of sobriety, like the biggest roller coaster in the world. I’d like to, really I would, but the simple fact is, I’m just not qualified. It’s only by the grace of God that I’ve made it this far. What I am gonna do is share a few tools that have been very important for my survival, when the big storms have hit.

Feelings won’t kill you

When I got clean, as you may already know, I was 3 months away from giving birth to my first child. I really didn’t expect to have a child, ever, and I was awestruck to have been given the opportunity to love this tiny person in my belly. So, when he came into the world, I felt joy, rapture, and terror – and no, I couldn’t tell at all which was which. I cried happy tears like I can’t remember crying before. It was so glorious. Birth. Wow.
Then, just a week later, I felt the worst feelings I’d ever known. That was when I seriously wondered if my heart was going to explode, or perhaps IMPLODE. Those days and nights in the Children’s hospital were like none I’ve experienced before or since.
Those days are the reason that I can tell you quite confidently that feelings can’t kill you.

What’s the answer?

What I discovered is a fool-proof recipe for getting me through extreme feelings without drinking or drugging. You may do it differently, but this is how I’ve made it through elation and heartbreak, more than once. I write it here in the hopes of sparing someone the destruction that can happen if you’re not aware of how serious a predicament you’re actually in.

Emotional Survival Plan

First, let your support system know what’s going on, and especially how you’re feeling about the situation. Putting on a brave front at this time is for idiots. Yeah, IDIOTS.

Next, get on your knees (doesn’t have to be literally, but you know, in your heart and mind) and make contact with the Higher Power of your understanding. Talk, cry, wail (that’s usually my favorite) or shout. Just let it out. You will be amazed at the results.

Now, call in reinforcements. Your parents, your Pastor, and anyone with whom you have a spiritual connection. Call them and ask for their prayers, whatever that may look like. The more the merrier. And don’t minimize your situation! If having them with you (whether phyically or in spirit only) is crazy important to you, it’s gonna be the same to those who love you.
In my experience, I went to 12-Step meetings when I could. Within The Rooms of Recovery I found a safe place. At my most frightened, most confused, most vulnerable , I can go into a room of others like me and know that I’m safe. I can scream and curse if I need to, or I can sit quietly and listen. It’s ok, there.

Sometimes, if someone is in the hospital, it may not always seem feasible to go to a meeting. But consider this, especially if they’re not likely to know if you’re there or not, for just an hour: if you don’t take care of your sobriety, you’re going to be worthless to the others that you love who are in the fear, pain, sorrow, etc that you’re in. And then they’re going to be concerned about you and trying to do damage control on your mess….you get the picture?
So, let’s do everyone a favor, mkay?
Do whatever you must, to ensure your sobriety, and then take care of whatever you are able.

Good times, bad times, ya know I’ve had my share

People talk all day long about how things like a break-up, or job loss, or illness can lead to a relapse. Well, listen closely, and please hear me when I tell you that it’s just as easy to fall prey to the addiction when things seem to be wonderful.
Heck, even non-alcoholic/addicts will be watching out for you when the shit hits the fan. It’s almost a given that you’ll need to step up your vigilance during stressful times.
But you –yes, YOU– be on guard for the happy, shiny, glitter-filled times. Watch out for “what could go wrong?!” days, and the “top of the world” days.
There’s good reason why alcohol (and addiction) is called “cunning, baffling, and powerful”.

Hungry Angry Lonely Tired

I’ve been dealing with those 4 in varying amounts for the last few days. They’re not strangers to me. I feel like a weathered war veteran when it comes to “h.a.l.t.” That certainly doesn’t mean I’m exempt from tripping up when those 4 come around, but it means that maybe I’ll figure out what the problem is and find a remedy before I feel a (self-imposed?) crisis coming on.

The happy ending
…is at the end of the day, whenever it is that your head hits the pillow, and you’ve gotten through One. More. Day. Successfully. Sober.
And that, friends, is how I manage.
How about you? Do you have a go-to for overwhelming times?

Posted from my cabin in the mountains.

(Podcasts are my new addiction) “I Really Want To Do This”

This may just be my new woman crush, just cos she’s got the guts to make a podcast, write a book, and, you know, make it all look easy!

Listen to Ep 01 | I Really Want To Do This by High Wire Girl Pod #np on #SoundCloud

Posted from my cabin in the mountains.

Why is this not a thing??!

Ok, so I was at the store getting some milk, and I noticed a man riding one of those electric scooters that stores sometimes provide for disabled folks.
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He cruised up to a display of wine bottles (yes, they were right by the milk. Isn’t that kinda weird?) and grabbed a couple. (I know because I heard the clinking when he put them in the basket. Don’t you judge me!)

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That’s when it hit me: why don’t LIQUOR STORES have those little electric scooters?? How fun would that be?!
They’d probably want a protective railing of some kind to protect the pretty glass bottles, but, just think of it!!
I mean, I always drove better than I walked, didn’t you?!

I wasn’t sure I should share this BRILLIANT idea with the interweb, cos you know, somebody will probably steal it. But then I figured, like so many of my other million-dollar ideas, some jerk logical thinker would shoot it down and make it look like a not-great idea. So, screw it. If you want to implement this STROKE OF FREAKIN GENIUS idea, just send me a picture of it, k? That would be thanks enough for me.
Oh, and you’re welcome.

Posted from my cabin in the mountains.

Only gotta change one thing…

Ch ch ch ch changes

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Just sayin NO

When I quit smoking cigarettes, the last time, something occurred to me that was so profound, I’ve not forgotten it, even 16 years later. I’m sure others have thought of this LONG before I did, but it’s simple truth was just tremendous at the time.

The after-dinner ciggie

I’d just finished eating, and as any smoker can tell you, the next natural step after a meal is to smoke. There are a few universally agreed upon instances where this is the case, and eating is one.
I was probably a couple of days  past my last smoke, and of course my (addict) mind was screwing with me: “You really oughta go smoke one now. It’s not like you’re using- just a cig…” and on and on. That’s when the (divinely sent, I’m sure) thought hit me. In the midst of my minds’ sales pitch on the virtues of smoking, I heard my response: “I don’t smoke anymore!”

Another moment of clarity?

It was as if a switch had been thrown. I don’t smoke, therefore, it would be absurd for me to go have a cigarette!!   I mean, as a person who DIDN’T SMOKE, why on earth would  I go outside to the smoking area, and fire up?

Recovery:1, Addict-thinking:0

That’s the day when I realised, that just like they told me in The Rooms – “You never have to drink again”, that I really never had to smoke another cigarette. Simplicity won again. Having spent a lot of time working on keeping things simple, and not over-thinking things, it was pretty easy to just stop there. I don’t smoke anymore. I’m not a smoker.

Of course, there have been instances where a cigarette seemed like an option. I’m not gonna lie. But that discussion had already been concluded. I don’t smoke.

Since putting down the drink and the chemicals (drug of choice: whatever you’ve got) over 23 years ago, I’ve certainly not made a lot of progress toward where I thought people clean for this long would be (sainthood). Some days are better than others, to be sure. But by the grace of my loving Higher Power, the battle of whether to have a ciggie is not one I have much concern about.

Thoughts?

How about you? Do you have other addictive behaviors that you may eventually want to address?
If you’re less than a year sober, it’s suggested that you don’t worry about smoking.
That leaves a hell of a lot of character defects open for discussion, though, doesn’t it?
Just take it one day at a time, friend. Easy does it, just for today. 😉

Posted from my cabin in the mountains.

3 tremendously helpful tips from my early sobriety

How did you do it?

I was thinking about the first few months in sobriety.  It’s amazing how different our experiences can be, yet so very similar at the most base levels.

I was blessed in many ways during my first several months. I spent the first 3 months in a women’s residential treatment facility, and after that I moved back into my Mom’s house. Being in my Mother’s place, for the record, was undoubtedly the best possible situation for THIS new Mom and my special little son.

Center of the Universe

Once I became a Mother, at 3 months clean and sober, it became terribly apparent to me that I was no longer going to be in charge of my life in ANY way, shape, or form. Hazeldon has a great booklet called “King Baby”, which described the immaturity and self-centeredness of alcoholics and addicts, and likening them to a Baby in a highchair, pounding fat little fists on the tray and demanding WHAT they want, WHEN they want it…sound familiar? It was a rude awakening for me, when that little person showed me exactly HOW in charge he was. If Mom hadn’t been there to intervene, I shudder to think about how it might have played out when my Little One kept me up ALL NIGHT every night for over a month. That particular sleep pattern was exactly how I lived before getting clean, and it was really weighing heavily on my mind: increased depression, frustration, anxiety, the whole gamut.  I learned pretty quickly that I was not even a LITTLE bit in charge. OF course, that didn’t keep me from trying to get my way. But it rarely worked.

Selfish, but not selfish

I was having a crash-course in self-control, as evidenced by the fact that (by the grace of God) my child was not injured while in my care. I told people more than once that I knew I learned some patience when my children were young because I didn’t beat them. (My Dad taught me how to effectively “control” a problem when I was very young. He was quick with his belt. I know he didn’t know any better, and I am very grateful to not have been under the influence while raising my boys.)
But they told me in the Rooms that it was “a selfish program”. Dafug??

Turns out, it’s the kind of selfish that says you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself first, and the child second, when the airplane starts to go down. If you don’t take care of you, FIRST, you’re not going to be worth anything to those who need you.

My kingdom for a…nap

I know that many of you are doing this deal, too, while trying to keep your child(ren) alive and well. So, I’m going to share with you some of the things that were critical for me to getting through those first months, while also being responsible for caring for a very special Little One. I hope this will be helpful.

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Beyond exhausted

  1. Don’t let anyone “SHOULD” on you. I’ll tell you a story to illustrate what I mean by that: My Mom, bless her heart, had my best interests at heart, I know she did. When I came home with 3 months (clean) under my belt and an incredibly stressful new career as a single parent of a Special Needs baby, I know she meant well, but our priorities were just different. “While your baby is ______, you should take that time to get some housework done.” “You need to run the vacuum while you have the time.” “You should get into the shower while he’s laying down.”

See, as a newly sober person, living in HIGH CRISIS mode 24/7, what was important to me was not the same as what was important to my Mom (A Normie, for the record).  I explained it to her as gently as I could at the time: “I SHOULD feed my baby and keep him as healthy as possible; I NEED to get as much sleep as I can since it’s rarely over 2 hours in a row (literally, he had meds that had to be given every 2-3 hours for many months); and I should find a way to get to a meeting as often as possible.”  I know she couldn’t understand where I was coming from, but thank God she took my word for it, and was as helpful as she could possibly have been.

2.  Take multivitamins. You don’t have to like it, just DO IT. Your body is trying to    function after having been self-destructing for however many years you were using/drinking, and your life will be MUCH easier if you begin doing simple things like that.

3. Grab ahold of someone with longterm recovery, and get their phone number and USE IT. MEN WITH MEN, and WOMEN WITH WOMEN. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later. If you’re willing to go to AA or NA, I implore you to get a Sponsor,   NOW! If they aren’t working for you down the line, you can get another one. Just FIND a person to whom you can relate, and call them. It will get easier with practise, just like everything else in this new life.

In the interest of keeping it simple, I’ll leave you with these. There are tons of other tidbits that I could share with you, but they’ll have to wait for another time. These are a good start.

So, tell me, what are some things you did or kept in mind during your first few months, that helped keep you and your family alive?

Thanks for coming by, and have a great evening. 🙂