Recovery is about finding your Tribe, or #Recoveryposse

I was all set to run to the store & then the laundromat to get a week’s worth of clothes done. That was MY plan. 

What had happened was…

What actually happened was that I got the Element loaded up, put the key into the ignition, and discovered that I had a dead battery. The battery that we’d replaced just a couple of short months ago. Hm. 

My response was different…

Way different than what it would have likely been, not so long ago. The only thing I can attribute my NOT being upset to is that I’ve been consciously  practicing the 11th step more. 

What I did…

What I did do was go back inside and get ahold of my friend from Celebrate Recovery. (She’s an oldschool 12-stepper, too, but we met at CR.) It’s only by the grace of God that I even had a friend to call, considering that my default is to pull away from folks and be a hermit. 

Being aware of this tendency allows me to stop and make a decision, whether I want to rely on that (old and yet INeffective, really) coping/survival skill, or whether I want to Practice These Principles…Funny how God will set up opportunities to practice things we would REALLY rather not practice. 

What friends do…

So, my friend came over (in spite of the 25-minute drive, one way), we got the jumper cables figured out, and here’s the curious thing: my Element started right up! Yaay, God! (And to a lesser degree,us!) 

So, I was thinking as I wrote this, that having ONE friend that I can count on when I need help (Just ONE? After living in this area for OVER A YEAR? ) is pretty sad. And I started to “should” on myself. 

Don’t “should” on me!

Then the God of my semi-understanding reminded me of ME, and who I am. In fact, having a friend like this in ONLY ONE YEAR is pretty friggin miraculous! I mean, it’s not like I’m out in my community every day/week/month. 

Recovery = finding your Tribe

I’ve known more than a couple of instances where a person had a genuine, drastic change in their heart and mind, and without like-minded folks in their life on a daily business, they went back to their old ways. Oh, it wasn’t the next day, or even necessarily the same month, but there’s a very good reason why the Big Book describes alcoholism (and it def applies to any addiction) as being “cunning, baffling, and powerful”. 

Even just the realization that we are the ONLY one trying to live differently can be a big stumbling point. Yet so many of us will ignore the internal warning bells, and use that Magical Thinking and/or Denial, which NEVER worked out too well, and “soldier on” to the inevitable crashing and burning. 

Or…

There is an alternative, but it IS scary. It involves other people, and we know how uncontrollable THEY can be. But, how well did it go when we were the Director? I can say for sure that I was a TERRIBLE Manager, especially when it came to running my life. There are, seriously, a LOT of people  who think like you and feel like you, whose lives are changing for the better. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. But changing, they are! All that is required is a small amount of Honesty (with yourself, primarily), some Openmindedness (maybe they know something that can make your life less sucky), and just enough Willingness to get you in the door. 

Where everybody knows your name…



Back when I was drinking, there was no mystery as to where I would find “my people”. There are bars and liquor stores on practically every corner, where folks will encourage me and cheer me on as I pursued The Elusive Perfect Buzz (yes, that was a Thing, you know it was). If we were willing to be around THAT bunch, it’s really not asking much for us to give the sobered-up version a chance. 

Easier today…

Back when I got clean/sober, there weren’t Sober Communities online. Nope. Not a one. The only place to find folks like me was f2f, in some kind of meetings, or possibly (but rarely) in a religious organization. 

I had found Recovery “Chat Rooms”, and that was a Godsend for me, especially since I was limited in how many meetings I could attend. 

My point being, if you want to find a new and happier way to live, your best bet is to find a Community that will support you, whether face-to-face or online. Or a combination of the 2. Chances are, after a little while, you may find yourself actually having someone (sober) willing to give you a jump on a Saturday night. 

I’ve never regretted the time I’ve spent among My #recoveryposse. 

 

Time and Money *OR* Adulting in Recovery

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Someone said that the way you spell love to a child is T-I-M-E. Isn’t that really the way we spell love for anything that matters in our lives? The reality is, that if you take my money, I can make it back. If you take my time, it’s gone forever.
I got up this morning thinking about priorities. The best way to tell what really matters to a person is by looking 2 places. Can you guess where they are? Their checkbook/bank statement and their calendar. As I apply that to myself, I am sorry to say that “Leisure” appears to be my biggest priority. The other night at Celebrate recovery we were asked the question “What prevents you from doing God’s will?” and there was a list of things like work, family, pleasure, and church…

What is God’s will?

Someone said that she wasn’t really even sure what God’s will was, and I remember thinking that same thing. Eventually I figured out that God’s will for me was usually going to be something that didn’t immediately benefit me, but benefited someone else. (Selflessness is a big thing to my Higher Power) I learned over time that God’s will was without a doubt going to be the best thing for me, when it was all said and done. I’m great with that. Maybe it’s because of my age, at this point, and/or experience, but my next thought is “what am I going to have to go through BEFORE it’s “all said and done”? It’s true that if it’s not the best, them it’s not all said and done.

Checkbook?

Well, the majority of my funds at the moment (outside of the bare necessities)are going to things that make ME happy. I can’t remember the last time I tithed, in an actual church. Shoot, other than the trip to Indiana a couple of months ago, it’s been a rarity to find me in a church, period. And I don’t like that. I miss the days of being at The Revival, when we would be in God’s presence -I mean, like, tangible Presence- for hours, 5 days a week. I know, you’re probably thinking “What do you do at church for hours?!” I’ll tell you. We sang to the Lord, and we prayed, and mostly, we sang. The sound of a couple thousand people singing “hallelujah” together will give anyone goosebumps. It was literally like you could hear the unseen angels singing along. But I digress.
I’m a fairly down-to-earth kinda woman, or so I’ve been told. I’m willing to accept that, if it means relatively low maintenance, and practical. I guess it tells my age that I think those two things are pretty complimentary. So, what I do spend my “mad money” on…mostly things that make me feel better about how I look. As a married person, I think a certain amount of vanity isn’t a terrible thing, but I’ve been known to rationalize, before. But, yeah. I want to look nice for my husband, and I suppose, for myself too. It’s pretty minimal stuff, though. I’m grateful to have discovered that if I stay out of places like Hobby Lobby and Michael’s I don’t spend money on craft supplies, and the less I go to the Goodwill, the less I spend on clothes.

Calendar?

I think this is the biggest culprit of my wastefulness. Anyone who knows me, if they were being blatantly honest, would have to say that it’s true. I waste a lot of time in front of the “Idiot Box” (My Dad’s loving description. Still true today, though, isn’t it?). This morning, I actually got out my Bible and read. Not enough to feel too “holy” about, mind you, but some. And then I realised that this was what I was going to share with you today.
I have, in the past, gone out of the room when my family is watching tv, and I have gotten out of that habit. After work, I want to decompress, doesn’t everyone? But a half hour turns into an hour turns into the rest of the night and then it’s bedtime. I want to find other things to fill my time, things that will enrich my mind and my life. As the weather gets back to a tolerable temperature, I’d like to think I will get outside and walk. I know it could only do me good. But…I’m lazy. I can rationalize it a dozen ways (just ask), but the truth is “I don’t want to!”
However, I DO want to lose weight, and I DO want to be able to breathe more easily after walking upstairs to our apartment. I DO want to feel the sun on my face…Therein lies my dilemma. I am torn between what my SELF wants to do, and what my Spirit wants to do.
Never thought of it like that. That makes sense. My Self wants to lay around and eat. My Spirit wants to make the most of this life. THIS TIME WILL NEVER COME AGAIN.
So. I feel certain that I can do a little housework each day, do a little writing, and then find something to do that involves me NOT sitting on my butt.
I’ll let ya know how this works out for me.

Random Thoughts on a Saturday Night

There are many things that you’ll hear in The Rooms. Most of them will sound absurd(at first), but be true. Some of them will sound perfectly legitimate, yet they will be wrong. For instance, I was told more than once that there are “no musts” in the Book. Nope. False. (They said if you want to hide anything from an alcoholic, put it in the Big Book.)

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The Book of Secrets


I was just looking through my copy of the 1st manuscript of the Big Book, (which I love) and noting all of the things that had been changed almost before it went to the printer. 
For example, here are some excerpts from the 5th chapter:
“If you want what we have and are willing to go to any lengths to get it–then you are ready to follow directions. At some of these you may balk. You may think you can find an easier, softer way. We doubt if you can…
Remember that you are dealing with alcohol–cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for you! But there is One who has all power–That One is God. You must find Him now!
Half measures will avail you nothing. You stand at the turning point. Throw yourself under His protection and care with complete abandon.
Now we think you can take it! Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as your Program of Recovery: ”

There are subtle changes throughout the original manuscript, including a few of the steps, themselves, and if you’ve not had the opportunity to check it out, I encourage you to do so. I know a lot of the Old(er)timers are fond of that version, but younger folks, not so much.

I prefer the Original manuscript, and I’ll tell you why:
When I came crawling into The Rooms, I didn’t have any idea how to face the world sober. I really didn’t want to, but the alternative to getting clean/sober was definitely going to be much worse. I appreciate that the earlier version of the Big Book is clear, direct, and to the point. A little further down in the book there’s a line that says “If you’re not convinced on these vital issues, you ought to re-read the book or else throw it away! ” See what I mean? There’s no question as to what they’re trying to say. As a newly sober person, I heard about a few meetings around town that were known to pass around a hat to collect money for the guy who wasn’t ready to quit. “Belly up to the bar!” was the idea. The Book says that if the “God” talk runs you out of the Rooms, “John Barleycorn” (booze) will run  you right back in. It’s true, from what I’ve seen. Until our ego has been beaten down enough to admit defeat, there’s usually nothing to convince us that we’re drunks, except more of the same. I guess I’d had enough a**-whippings by the time I’d gotten here. I was absolutely willing to go to any lengths to make the pain stop. So, when they told me to do X, Y, Z, my only reply was to ask for clarification as to exactly how high they wanted me to jump.  
I needed directions! My absolutely best thinking got me sitting in a hard chair in a smoke-filled room, with a bunch of of drunks. And don’t get me started on the coffee!

Anyway, I wanted to learn as much as I could, as quickly as I could, but my Sponsor wasn’t giving up the answers! I’d say “What should I do?” And she’d say “What do you think you should do?” DANGIT!!

So, I learned by sitting in The Rooms (on a daily basis) whenever possible, and by going to Big Book study meetings, and 12 & 12 book studies, and by using the phone whenever I couldn’t get to a meeting. My Sponsors never ONCE made me feel stupid asking them something, no matter what it was. “Should I go to the store now, or wait an hour?” “Would it be ok if I wore this to the meeting or should I wear this?” Most of the time, it came down to “What are your motives?”
I was being taught to think. Wow.

So I do believe the answer to alcoholism and addiction is in The Steps. I do believe the Big Book was Divinely inspired, and I am POSITIVE that my Higher Power used the 12 step Program to give my Dad back to me for several years before he died. Some people say it “doesn’t work” for them. Ok. I’m really sorry to hear that (because of the transformations I’ve seen in many of my family member’s -and my own- lives), but if there is another way that you can manage to get clean/sober, and find PEACE & JOY, then ROCK ON!
It wasn’t until I was in Recovery Coach training that I was able to really wrap my mind around the idea of there being other ways to get sober. My Dad was a Big Book Thumper, and, well, I was Daddy’s Girl. But I understand now that there are as many ways to get and stay sober as there are people trying to figure it out. And that’s a beautiful thing.

After all, isn’t it about learning to walk in love, and finding the freedom to grow and be healthy…? 

Posted from my hut in the forest.

FTW

First. Thought. Wrong.

Within the first 6 months of my sobriety, I had a crash course in powerlessness, and all I could do was give it to God. At that time, my relationship with Him was, well, dubious. I began, then, to understand that I had better keep my heart linked to Him in the calm(er) times, because when “life showed up” I would need to have a straight path to His throne.

No self-pity for me, thanks

When I told people about my baby’s medical condition, some of them would get a pitying (my perception) look on their face. I can appreciate that, now. I mean, what are ypu supposed to say/do in that situation?
At that time, however, I had learned to compartmentalize my feelings about it. I don’t know how much I ever stopped doing that, even after living with the situation for this long.

It’s not about me

My mindset, during that awkward moment when the person was feeling sorry for me (again, my perception, at the time) was matter-of-fact: My baby is fragile, and my existence at this time is entirely about caring for him. I didn’t have time for my feelings in the matter. I also didn’t have the energy for dealing with my feelings. They were irrelevant. It was Not. About. Me.

Not feeling can’t be a fulltime thing

That’s not to say that I never let the feelings out. I cried a lot at the Children’s hospital. And I cried and cussed at meetings. A lot. Because it was safe, there, to feel.

I had someone ask me “Don’t you ever wonder ‘Why me’?” And that is a thing that I’ve wrestled with, for sure. The answer I found, for me, is “Why not me?”
At the women’s treatment facility where I lived when I had B, there were a LOT of babies. Perfect and beautiful. My baby was beautiful, to be sure…but why did we get dealt the sh*tty hand?

Roll them dice

I have concluded that terrible things just ARE. I’m certainly no better or worse than the women who were blessed with healthy babies. Sure, some things are the natural consequences of poor choices. And other things are just a roll of the dice.

but God

But I haven’t gone through a minute of it alone. I’ve run back into His waiting arms. And I continue to do so. It’s all I can do.

Posted from my hut in the forest.

It’s a Higher Power thing

I was thinking about my experience in recovery with my Higher Power. Like everything else that I “knew”, my understanding of God had to be investigated, once I got sober. (Because ours is a disease of perception.)
I attended a Christian elementary school in 6th grade and for a year or so I went to the Baptist Temple school. I was taught all kinds of legalism  as a younger person. (The teachers literally took rulers to measure the length of boy’s hair and of girl’s skirts.) I eventually concluded that since I could NEVER satisfy what I thought God required of me, I’d do us both a favor & stop trying. That’s probably the time my addiction really took off. I was incapable of following all the rules that religious people had burdened me with, so I dejectedly turned away from any attempts to fit their demands for conformity.

In The Rooms I heard “spiritual, not religious” and I thought I was gonna have to pray to rocks or some such New Age-ish thing. I was unsure about that, to say the very least, but I was also determined to figure out how to do this “sobriety” thing. And eventually I did.

My Higher Power is the God of the Bible. (I prefer the ESV or NIV, if you were wondering) The Creater of everything good. I’m not bound by the god of the slick, money-hungry televangelists. You know the ones, they’re keeping Aqua-net in business, driving a Rolls and living in a McMansion.
My understanding of Who God is, now, is much more balanced than before. I’m more concerned about doing things to please the One I love, and less so working to avoid the wrath and damnation. And the foremost guideline He has for me is to walk in love. That’s a seriously tough request, some days, but then I’ll get consequences to reinforce the importance of putting others first. 😦

I’m so grateful that the Program of Recovery that helped me get & stay clean is not telling us Whom we must follow. If someone had told me that I had to be a Christian when I’d first gotten sober, I’d have run away screaming. Like many others, I’ve been injured by people in the name of religion. I believe today that God led me to the 12-step Rooms, and the program, in turn, led me back to God. I am reluctant to call myself a Christian now, for the terrible things connected to “those people”. More often than not, they’re not even showing any kind of love. I am a Christ-follower, however falteringly. So far from being where I’d like to be, but thankfully, I’m not the person I once was.

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Hallalujah!

The wisdom and foresight shown by the writers on the Big Book is amazing on many points. For example, you don’t have to believe like I do, and I don’t have to worship like you. That’s a novel idea, even today!

Within the Rooms, in my experience, there is virtually no “us” and “them”, regarding religion. For a group of individuals who are used to finding things to argue about, at least, taking religion out of the Rooms just simplifies things. How about you? Have you returned to your previous beliefs, or have you come to a different understanding of HP? Or, are you still working on it? Please leave your thoughts below.

Posted from my hut in the forest.

Good morning, friends! Unfortunately, it’s Monday. Again. I just wanted to check in, today being the first day of school & all. My youngest is a Sophomore this year,and (I think) all of his teachers have promised homework. Every. Day. Ugh. I know he can do great, if he’s willing.
So…here’s to a positive day. 🙂

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Posted from my hut in the forest.

Addiction wants you to forget

Remember the first time you got high? Yeah, the first time I got drunk (high came later), I felt like I’d finally discovered my reason for living. A couple of shots later, I was falling down and throwing up. Everywhere.
From that time to the last, I was chasing the elusive “Perfect Buzz”. Sure, I saw it occasionally, but it was a fleeting glance at best, as I charged on after the next drink, or toke, or pill, or snort, or…

Fast forward a few years. By this time I’ve been falling down and throwing up (it was, for real, “how I roll”) in several states and even a couple of other countries. Putting myself in increasingly more reckless situations, driving my self-esteem deeper and deeper into the ground with every choice to betray my -true- self.
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But still I pressed on. I just knew that the next high would be The One. Of course it never was. I’d estimate that out of an 8-hour drinking and drug-fest, there might have been an average of an hour in which I was still coherent and able to act like an adult. A silly adult, sure, but nevertheless, I wasn’t a danger to myself or others.

But the addiction required that I suit up and show up, day after day after night after night. Once I took my rent money and payed for myself & several “friends” to rent a room, I think it was on a beach. To be completely honest, I wasn’t awake for longer than it took to get there and MAYBE check in. Yeah. I was that one. I knew that I didn’t have anuthing personally that would make you want to keep me company, so given the opportunity, I was more than willing to buy some time. Pretty sad, isn’t it? And this is just the things I’m willing to tell the world.

But that’s not nearly the worst. I’m sure if you’re anything like I was, that you can finish the story, fill in the blanks. I was definitely a black-out drinker. Always tryin to get the right combination in the right order to keep from getting sick. (Pot first, then copious amounts of booze? Or drink first, then smoke?) Of course anything that went up my nose went with everything.

So, what are your plans tonight? If you’re debating going out, I hope I’ve given you some food for thought. You don’t have to go. You could hit a meeting, or just find some good online sobriety.

Happy Saturday!

Posted from my cabin in the desert.