Int’l Overdose Awareness Day

As someone who has attended too many funerals due to overdose, I am asking you to share this image. How many people do YOU know that would give anything to hold their parent or child just One. More. Time? 

As long as we continue to share our stories and educate our world as to the truth about drug addiction, there will be hope. 

If you are one who’s had a loved one taken by addiction, please don’t stop speaking out. The less condemnation an addict feels from those who could instead be helping them to learn how to live again…the more likely that addict is going to be to actually ask for help. 

Outside of recovery – which is available as long as there is life – addicts only have three choices for their tomorrows: 

Jails

Institutions

Death.

Contempt and disgust haven’t worked to spare any addicts life, so let’s try love and compassionate action. What can it hurt? 

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Yes, I have scars.

When you think of scars, do you consider them flaws, or signs of damage or vulnerability? 

I did for most of my life. I have some scars that are quite apparent, and more which are not. One of the more obvious (to me) would be the scars from where my ear was re-attached when I was about 18. Yet, in reality, I wear my hair up most of the time and I can recall literally no one noticing it. The closest I’ve come was recently when a co-worker mentioned that I had only one earring in that ear. She hadn’t noticed that it was because the other earring hole was too close to the edge of my lobe, due to the scarring, to realistically put in an earring; just that there were 2 earrings in one ear, and only one in the other.   

I read a post recently that talked about the Japanese art of mending ceramic flaws with lacquer mixed with gold, silver, platinum, copper or bronze, so that the repaired item is more beautiful than the original. Sometimes the broken area is replaced with a right-sized piece of another piece of pottery, making a quilt-like appearance. 

It’s called “Kintsugi” or “Kintsukuroki”. I’m sure you’ve seen examples of this, if you’ve ever been to an art museum or looked at a National Geographic magazine. 

This got me to thinking about my scars. Like most of us, I have both external and internal scars, as we all have. Is it a cultural thing, that when we see a scar, we see a flaw? And is a flaw necessarily a bad thing? According to Kintsugi, the scar is simply a part of the items’ life experience, not bad or good. But once it’s been repaired, the damaged area actually adds to the beauty of the original.  

Then there’s the western culture of throwing damaged items away and buying new ones.  The spiritual philosophy of Kintsugi is one of awe, reverence, and restoration. Kind of like how the Japanese traditionally honor their elderly, and embrace all that they can offer. And America, well, does other things. Not the least of which being how in our culture aging is made out to be a dreadful, almost accursed thing. God forbid a woman let her hair gray naturally or not buy the best wrinkle-removers she can find! 

Anyway, it has me thinking about my perspective. Some people say that scars are a sign of something that DIDN’T beat them. That’s good, right? It’s not untrue, is it? But I (maybe you, too, I don’t know) was sold a ridiculous bill of goods that said that scars are imperfections, need to be hidden (there’s a cream for that, you know), and certainly will disqualify you from being picked first for…anything.  

Where are you going with this, Ab? I’m glad you asked. 

Traditionally, for whatever reason, people wrestling with alcoholism, addiction, and/or mental illness have been considered defective, or broken, at best. So, ok, I’ll give you that. I, for one, was fairly shattered long before I discovered how to self-medicate. But not broken beyond repair, as I discovered. Drugs & drink were the Scotch tape that held my ceramic heart and mind together. The cracks and chips were incredibly obvious, and the tape did no more than keep the pieces in the same locale. It didn’t make me functional.

I consider my Higher Power to have taken the broken shards of my being and fit them all together again. He used the gold and silver of the Steps and Spiritual Principles to hold me together, and the result became more beautiful than anyone could have foreseen. The shiny veins of gold and silver make what was once a plain vessel to be even more valuable than before it was broken. 
I was convinced that the wreck that was me when I came into the Rooms would never be much more than a leaky clay pot, if that. God has taken my brokenness and turned it into something closer to what He intended me to be. All I had to do was hand the broken pieces to Him and let Him reassemble me. The beauty is demonstrated when I reflect the Light He shines on me. I can reach out to offer others the tools for living that have been freely shared with me, and I have the scars to prove that I’ve not always been this way. 

Y.E.T.s

I don’t think I’m the only person who listened to people talking in meetings and did a mental checklist: “haven’t gone there, haven’t done that, etc.” At that time, I was still trying to figure out whether I was really in the right place.  

I remember hearing women in treatment with me talking about things they’d done to support their habit.  They said things like “I’d be looking over at the pipe (in the middle of *the act*), thinking ‘just a little while longer, baby’ ” I could imagine that, but I hadn’t gone to that place, yet. I think it was the codependent gene plus NO business savvy whatsoever that kept me from that particular business. I envied the women who had been financially compensated -however slightly- for their wares. I just wanted to be ‘loved’. I suppose that was my weakness. 

In retrospect, I’m grateful that I wasn’t quite that hard, because I know how people become that way. I’ve been through enough self-destructive and emotion-numbing experiences, without adding even more, thanks. 

I hadn’t gotten any DUIs, YET. I hadn’t gone to jail (for more than a few hours), YET. I hadn’t subjected my children to the horrors of a using parent (only because I wasn’t blessed to not have kids while I was using), YET.  I hadn’t been in any vehicle accidents while under the influence, YET…

The Oldtimers told me to listen for similarities. I had put myself in dangerous situations. I had been in abusive relationships. I had lied, cheated, stolen, and murdered. I hadn’t thought twice about cheating on my mate, or about taking yours (just because I could was reason enough). I had driven when I could barely make out the lines on the road. I had awoken on the side of the road where I’d finally given up on finding my way home. I had placed the addiction ahead of my love for anyone else in my life. I hadn’t considered that the entire time I was living in direct opposition to my own values and morals, I was damaging my own spirit. I had no idea the depth of the devastation of my heart and mind, wrought from the years of “not caring”. 

I had become so much less than human. By the time I was done, I really felt like a bloody pile of flesh. And I volunteered for the vast majority of it. It was what my master required. But I digress.
The Old Farts in the Rooms told me that “YET” stood for You’re Eligible, Too. So, if I continued on the trajectory I’d been on, I was most assuredly going to sink even deeper into the depravity that I had heard about, and more. 
Today, I can apply the YETs to my life in a very different way. I haven’t gotten a degree YET. I haven’t become a Grandmother, YET. I haven’t travelled out of the country sober, YET. I haven’t been an “Empty-nester” YET. I haven’t been a home owner, YET. 

I’m blessed beyond measure. I know that my Tribe is there for me, and I know that I don’t have to EVER go farther down on that elevator than I had when I got off. The Program taught me to be grateful. And I surely am, today.    

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. 

 

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.