Tomorrow ain’t Shit

Hope you’re having a great week!

online dating is shite

Slipper-like supermarket sneakers are popular here.  Thick socks; overlarge hoodies and sweatshirts.  On the whole, the Relapse Prevention Group on a Tuesday afternoon is not the place for couture.  Comfort is in fashion on this catwalk.  I’m sure if Primark sported a full-body cotton-wool onesie, recovering addicts would queue round the corner.

Everyone takes their seat, and sort of hugs themselves up.  For the boys, hands disappear into overlong sleeves.  For the girls, knees disappear up the front of big baggy jumpers.  Lips are chewed.  Fringes are deployed.

You could probably measure recovery here by number of layers.  Two duvets down to one.  Giant cardigan, to large cardigan; and eventually to one that fits.

An addict develops an armour-like coating.  He lies to the people he loves.  He lies to himself.  He does it consistently, and professionally.  A full-blown functioning addict could become guest lecturer at the Mossad school of deception.  He could…

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Stinkin’ Thinkin’ 

I have learned many little tricks to assessing where my head is, I mean, whether I’m thinking like I did in the Old Days or thinking with my “right mind”. I was taught early on -maybe you’ve heard this, too – that my mind is like a bad neighborhood at night: I don’t want to go there alone. I knew intuitively (?) from the get-go that I could not trust my own thinking. 

When I arrived at treatment, I had gone through everyone I’d known and come up with the following:

I couldn’t trust my parents

I couldn’t trust women

I couldn’t trust men

…and finally…

I couldn’t trust myself.

So it was easy for me to grasp the concept of “I no longer have a drinking problem. Now I have a thinking problem.” I definitely needed to re-learn how to think.

You can’t think your way to sober living…

While I was in treatment, IOP and residential, I began to learn about the different styles of “Unhealthy thinking” (ie Stinkin Thinkin). The list is fairly long, so I’m just going to touch on a few, here, followed by an example or explanation of my understanding of what it means. 

1.    Personalisation – also known as hypersensitivity – This involves blaming yourself for any and everything that goes wrong, even when logic tells you that you’re only partially responsible, or even not responsible at all. This kind of thinking has you feeling guilty WAY too often, and apologising when you have nothing to apologise for. One common example of this is when you blame yourself for someone else’s poor choices. 

I am responsible for everything inside of my skin. I can’t control anything outside my skin, with the possible exception of my kids, and, really I’m pretty powerless over them most of the time. 

2.    Catastrophising – this is when a person makes mountains out of molehills.  Another way of saying it is “pole-vaulting over mouse turds.” Teenagers are great for this sort of thing, and since we tend to stop growing emotionally when we begin our addiction, that can cover we in addiction recovery as well. This reminds me of a boyfriend who always told me I was too dramatic. I had no idea what he was talking about, but now I do. The best way I have come up with to stop this kind of thinking is to take my emotions out of it, and look at the situation with only my mind/logic/intellect.  (I do this at times with sarcasm, I think. Probably not the best approach, but it helps ME.) After that, I usually will go to the EXTREME possible outcome, which is just ridiculous. For example, I work with a woman who does this. Last week she had a hangnail that she’d picked, and although it wasn’t bleeding, it was (a hangnail, remember, so pretty tiny) raw-looking. She showed it to me and did her hyperventilating act, and asked me  in her trembling voice if it was going to be alright. I told her we’d probably have to take the finger off.  Sarcasm might not have been the best response, but I think you get the point. I put a bandaid on it and she is still alive as far as I know, and still has all of her digits. 

3.    Black & White thinking – Also known as All-or-Nothing thinking. This style of thinking is where you see everything as good or bad,  wrong or right, with no in-between. The word “moderation” just doesn’t exist in an alkie/druggie’s vocabulary. When me Dad got sober he would talk about how he used to say “Moderation is for wimps!” The example that comes to mind is the way an alcoholic drinks. If you’re going to offer them one, you’d better be ready to share the rest with them. The sad and funny thing about that is, many of us relapse because we convince ourselves that we can have “just one.” How crazy is that? I never wanted one of ANYTHING, before, and now all of a sudden I was going to calmly moderate? One of anything just irritated me. The thing that helps me to avoid this kind of faulty thinking is that I force myself to imagine the thing in a gray area. My instinctual thought was “he’ll either be dead or he’ll recover” (in the case of my Dad’s surgery to cut out the cancer), well, guess what. I forgot to consider that maybe he wouldn’t die right away and he wouldn’t be healed. I hadn’t ever imagined for a second that what would happen was actually in the middle of those two things. So now I force myself to remember that gray is a perfectly possible outcome, most of the time. (Just not where addiction is concerned. Period.)  

4.     Magnifying and Minimisation – This often is a go-to for a person not actually ready to quit. You’ll hear things like “I had X, Y, & Z, but I didn’t have my favorite drug!” or “I relapsed part of Monday, part of Tuesday, and part of Wednesday.” or “He gave it to me.”From the tone of their voice, I am pretty sure this seemed like a perfectly good comprehension of the events. The reality of the situations was A), you relapsed, and it doesn’t matter on what, because any of those things could kill you or send you to prison and B), You only relapsed for “part of” those days because you didn’t have money to buy more? Or because when you were coming down you don’t consider that to be the same as being high? and C), He didn’t hold you down and force you to do it.  

As far as addiction goes, regardless of what the focus of the addiction may be- with the possible exception of food addiction, there is no middle ground. You’re either clean or you’re not. You’re either living in an addict’s brain or you’re living in a recovering person’s brain.  

OK, that’s probably enough to chew on for now. If this has been helpful to you in any way, or if you think it could help someone else struggling with an addict or an addiction, please share.  
     

Taking a Break

I’m thinking of taking a leave of absence from Facebook. I know, I know, many of you are saying ” good idea!” and the rest, well, you’re busy looking for stimulating new posts on your news feed. Yeah. That’s how I waste so much time, every day, as well. It’s been a while since FB really gave me that first rush, and I’m feeling like I’m chasing the dragon. I know the signs.And the thing is, I can only ignore them for so long before it begins weighing on my mind. 

There are, in ANY given day, SO MANY things I could be doing, instead of scrolling, scrolling, always scrolling…

A friend of mine advised me recently to “just write”. I’ve traded that sacred time for getting a  FB fix. I have things around the house that won’t get dealt with unless I do them. They’re waiting for me to re-prioritize. 

It’s interesting, that I didn’t have much problem cutting back on tv. I suppose that might be related to the impersonal nature of the all-seeing eye in the living room. I mean, occasionally, there are things on Facebook that are specifically for ME. But how often does that actually happen? Not so often. 

I’m not going to deactivate my account, as I’ve done before, because that takes everything of mine down, I think. But I have taken the FB icon off of the front of my phone, and I am going to be aware of how much time I’m giving to that time-suck. Really, what if there was another way that I could get info from ONLY the people that I want to hear from? And just the things that pertain to me? 

Oh, you mean like email? Or, maybe, text messages? 

I’m not going to say how long this will last, because really I’m not willing to commit. Posts here will still show up on my feed, so I hope you’ll come by here and let me know what you think of them. 🙂 

But, for now, just for today, I’m taking a break from Facebook.  I have a Book that I need to be spending time reading. I need to spend more time in conscious contact with my God.

What about you? Do you ever feel like social media is ruling your life? Have you ever taken a break? How did you feel? 

“To be honest…”

Whenever I hear those words, I immediately wonder, “was everything up until now a lie?” I mean, if you have to clarify that AT THIS TIME you’re telling the truth…you could be an alcoholic/addict. 

I don’t lie anymore

I’ll never forget the time I heard a guy with 30 days or so -again- say in a meeting that since he stopped drinking, he didn’t lie anymore. I’m not sure if it was part of a ploy to hook up with a new(er)comer, but he sounded sincere when he said it. 

Seriously?

 I was surprised to hear that, to say the least. Especially from this person. But, you know, that’s his stuff. (I did choke a little on my coffee, though, as I was trying not to laugh.) 

What does honesty even look like?
According to the Bigger Big Book, we don’t really know the full story of what goes on in our own heart & mind. “Cash-register honesty”, now that’s easy enough to identify, but what about…the rest of our lives? 

When I was going to meetings with Dad, where they were mostly Crusty Oldtimers (The Winner’s Circle in Lakeland, in case you’re curious), they taught me a more comprehensive way to find out what MY truth was, at any given moment. 

Checkity check yoself before you wreck yoself

They taught me to check my motives. Sounds easy enough, right?

 Here’s an example:

I want to give Joe Blow a ride to a meeting (even though my Sponsor warned me about fraternizing with the opposite sex).

What’s my motive? Obviously, I want to be a friend, and help him out. Sounds good, doesn’t it? And that may well be PART of the truth.

Check it again

They told me to check my motives again. 

What’s my real motive? Well, it’s a nice thing to do, and I’m trying to think of others first. That sounds legit. It’s most likely a part of my reason for giving him a lift.

One more time

Yep, they told me to check my motives 3  times!

What’s my REAL, bottom line, honest to God motive? Siiigh. I don’t want to do this. 

I want to do a favor for someone, so I’ll have leverage on them whenever I need a favor.

I want others to see me doing “Service Work”.

I’m so lonely, I just want someone to talk to. Besides, I have trust issues with women. I’ve always gotten along better with men. 

And finally, the TRUTH:

I don’t know how to act without a man in my life, and he looks at me like he’s interested, and my self-esteem needs some help (which he appears willing to *ahem* stroke)!

Hm. That’s a lot of work!

One thing about being a World-Class Liar for so long, is that you can’t tell when you’re lying. (We’ll talk about denial in a future post.)

So, in summary, I need to check my motives 3 times (sometimes more) whenever I think something. Because I am selfish and self-centered to the core. I even do nice things for others (altruism isn’t unheard of, even among people like us) because I GET SOMETHING OUT OF IT.

So it’s bad for me to do good?

I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to do for others! It’s good to be helpful. Kinda like the idea of doing a good deed and not telling anyone. 

If you were to take a younger person under your wing (say, niece or nephew) because they needed guidance that their parent couldn’t give them, that’s a good thing, and more likely to have a positive motive. 

On the other hand, if the only younger folks you’re willing to spend time helping are, for example, the kids in your church’s Youth Group – where you’re sure to get more than a few pats on the back – instead of the one that you KNOW is in a bad place, that very few people would know about, and that you could definitely help…well, you tell me what the motives there, are.

I’m never gonna get that.

Honesty is one of the strange new concepts that sobriety/clean time requires that we learn. One day at a time. Sometimes slowly…

A Beautiful Mind

I just finished watching the movie (again), with my younger son, this time. Interesting how we watched the same flick but came away with different feelings as a result.

He said it was a sad movie. My takeon it is that there are seriously sad parts, but that this movie gives me great hope, that a person with mental illness can have a rewarding life AND have someone amazing stand with them, through the good times and the bad.

A Beautiful Mind won awards when it came out, and it deserved it!. It is difficult to watch at times, but so is life. If you’re looking for a thought-provoking way to spend a couple of hours, this is a good one. 

I’m going to turn in for the night. Thank you so much for coming by, especially when you drop me a note. I love hearing from you!

Depression? PTSD? Whatevs.

I went to my Mental Health Dr. yesterday. I like him. Of all the men I have been in a room alone with, I think I’m the least uncomfortable with him. I don’t know how much of that is him, and how much is me, but regardless, I’m truly grateful. 

Several weeks ago, Dr. G added a medication to the one I have been taking for a while, with the intention of eventually dropping the first. My (dream?) is to stop taking the other, as well, but that may or may not be realistic. But, I trust him to make the call.

Here’s the part that stands out to me about yesterday’s appointment:

He said he doesn’t think I am depressed- clarified with the word “remission” – but that we’re just dealing with PTSD, now. I told him I can see that being the case, as the trauma began pretty young. I had a Dr. tell me years ago that I’d likely been depressed since I was 7-8. In the context of yesterday’s conversation, I wonder if I’ve not been wrestling with PTSD for that long? I know that many of the symptoms, for me, have been similar. Or maybe they just overlapped. Either way, I will gladly accept that the (not “my”, I refuse to claim ownership) depression has been arrested. There’s no question that there are occasionally triggers for PTSD that pop up. After so many years, God has allowed me to talk myself through them for the most part. 

I feel a return of hopefulness and a reduction in despair. I see the beauty around me a bit more clearly. 

Ah, Recovery, you give me gifts that I’d never have imagined. 

Have a groovy Friday y’all. Or at least, if ya don’t, find someone to talk with about it. Even if it’s your Cat.