Never lost a thing

Most every time I’m with a group of sober people, someone talks about the things they lost because of their addiction. “I lost my kids, my spouse, job, my truck, my self-respect, etc., etc., etc. to my drug of choice.”

image

Poor me, pour me

Really?

I gotta say that I agree with what an oldtimer used to say about that. He said “I never lost anything because of my drinking. I traded it all. Nothing was more important to me than that next drink, so when the disease demanded that I give away my family and my job, I agreed.”

“Give it away, give it away, give it away, now”

He said “I didn’t lose my wife, I knew right where she was- at my neighbors house! She left me because I wouldn’t stop drinking or acting a fool. I can’t blame her! I didn’t lose my house. It’s right where it’s always been. I didn’t lose my job, or my self-respect, or anything else.

I traded it. All.

I was such a willing slave to my addiction that I’d trade anything it demanded. My first and only concern was keeping the addiction satisfied, so when spouses, jobs, dignity, self-respect…got in the way of my addiction, I did whatever it took to keep reality from sneaking up on me.

Goods returned

As I began to get sober and worked (WORKED) on changing my perceptions, slowly these people and things were returned.

The choice is entirely up to you.

So, listen when you hear someone (or yourself) taking about how many things the addiction took from them, I hope you’ll remember this truth. We never lost or misplaced the things that make life sweet: we traded them for the drink or the drug.

I am in control of what I keep today, and I’m not willing to give the good life away.

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.
image
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!)

image

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.

2 Major Life Changes I wouldn’t have missed for the world

Anyone who’s been around 12-step programs for any amount of time has probably heard the warnings not to make any major life changes in the first year. In my early days of recovery, I thought a year sounded like an impossibly long period of time. They were teaching me about “one day at a time”, and “just for today”, after all.
The “no relationships for the first year (or two)” was super easy for me; I was single-parenting a newborn who was on round-the-clock medications, breathing treatments/oxygen, and diuretics (diaper changes become a priority FAST when your baby is peeing their weight every few hours). Not to mention the heart surgeries (2 before he was 6 months old)…yeah, even the completely insane guys weren’t willing to get too involved with that mess.
I don’t even want to imagine how I looked during that first year. I honestly can’t tell you what “early sobriety” was like
because my focus from before sun-up until after sun-down was about doing whatever I had to, to keep my Little One alive. As if all that wasn’t stressful enough, after his second surgery, there were several months where my Dr.s instructed me “don’t let him cry.” Seriously? Because of the kind of congenital heart defect he was born with, and the way his heart kind of sat on his diaphragm, whenever he cried, he threw up. He was a “failure to thrive” baby to begin with, so that was one more thing I had to stay on top of…
I really don’t have the words to aptly describe the frantic, hyper-vigilent state in which I spent every waking moment. Because of his fragile condition, my son was not allowed to go to a daycare or otherwise be around other children, or anyone sick, really. By God’s grace I got to have a respite nurse (absolutely an angel) come in for 2-3 hours once or twice a week. Wanna guess what I did when she was there?

image

Making open heart surgery look easy

Yeah. I slept or went to a meeting.

So, that’s one major change: This adorable little person invaded my life and became my Higher Power…but it feels like it should count for more than one!!

I suppose getting a divorce would count as major, for most, right? Ok, so somewhere in the first year, my then-husband demanded a paternity test, and…yeah, he just wasn’t down with supporting someone else’s child, not to mention the (expletive expletive EXPLETIVE expletive) that cheated on him. Seriously, is it such a surprise that a falling-down drunk, über addict would sleep around? I didn’t think so. C’est la vie. That one is the marital experiment for sure where I was the *hostage-taker. I did really regret the way I treated him. I made amends but don’t think he really cared. I can’t say as I blame him.
Sigh.

That’s probably major life change #2, huh?
I was gonna give you 3 major life changes that I experienced in my first year clean, but frankly those two are just about the only noteworthy events of my first year sober. Considering the unrelenting chaos of the previous several years, those two were kind of a relief.
The most incredible life change that I made in my first year clean/sober was that I was afraid and I didn’t run. Women in treatment with me had left their children, left and right, to continue their drinking & drugging careers. Only by the grace of God did I not join their ranks.
Another part of that fear was that I was handed unfathomable responsibilities, and I didn’t run.
Pre-recovery, I liked to call myself “Abbie Pan”, because I was the girl who wouldn’t grow up. Ironic, isn’t it? I had some loud and tearful conversations with God about that. “You picked the WRONG MO**** ****ING GIRL for this!!!!” Was part of my side of the conversation. I can see Him shaking His head slowly, and, as when soothing an upset child, brushing my hair from my tear-stained face. I guess He picked the right girl. I surely wouldn’t have made the same choice.

So, that’s 2 un-freakin-believable things that I got through without changing my sobriety date.
How about you? Did you have any big changes thrust upon you in early recovery? Did you make it through, clean?
Please share below. I love hearing your stories.

*Alcoholics don’t have relationships, they take hostages.

Posted from my chair in front of the fan.

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

girldrunks

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.

walking-duck

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.

11245561_853891427997795_1479326528_n

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.

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.

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.