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.

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Wolves in Sheeps’ Clothing

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Beware, little lambs

I just wrote a long post about a Newbie in sobriety and an older person who’s attempting to take advantage of her, and then erased it. Thinking of the emotional train wreck most of us are when we first get clean and sober, it’s altogether too easy to fall into a trap.

Nothing New Uunder the Sun
When I first got clean, I was sexually harassed by the Dr. who was supposed to be helping the women at the treatment center where I was being treated. I never told anyone at the time, because, honestly, who would believe a drug addict over a “respected” citizen? No doubt he was counting on that, and my only regret is that I didn’t speak up so as to possibly spare the next women coming behind me. At the time, it was the sort of thing that I’d gotten used to (sexual abuse/harassment) so much that it was “just another day” when he said those disgusting things to me. The same kind of scenario is going on with my friend: he’s a “model citizen”, and taking advantage of her vulnerability.

Books and their Covers
Prior to treatment, while in my addiction, I used my “womanly wiles” to get by at times. Heck, that was the only value I had, and the only way I knew to get something that resembled love, if only for a little while. However, I wasn’t usually as slick as the ones I was trying to manipulate, and ultimately I was always the one who got hurt.

Hurt people, hurt people
My friend is being sexually harassed in front of her child. He has already been damaged (seen) enough; he doesn’t need to learn more ways to behave inappropriately toward women. But I can’t do it for her. I can validate her feelings that “something’s not right”, and I can encourage her to set boundaries. And most importantly, I can pray for her.
That’s all I can bring myself to say, now. I’m going to go do some cleaning and blow off some energy. I know it’s difficult learning to stand up for yourself. I completely get it, boundaries are REALLY a foreign concept. It just brings back so many painful memories, and I want to help my friend to avoid them…

3 tragic words I never want to hear again

It was a good day! I got to sleep a couple more hours than usual, and then my husband and I walked to the local Farmer’s Market. The weather was just about ideal: sunny skies and low 80’s. We chatted about becoming “that old couple” that people would see walking around town. He said they’ll say “there goes that fat old guy and the hottie.” I love that man.

At the market, we looked at the yummy baked goods and the fresh produce. There were a few tables with jewelry for sale, and -my favorite part- a six-week old pygmy goat!
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After purchasing a pie and some local honey, we walked back home and had some lunch. I had a leisurely but productive day planned: go to the library to use the computer, read a book I began yesterday, and get to bed early. I went to the library and then came home to read. After about an hour or so, I got a call from a number that I didn’t recognize.

A call from back home

It was my Aunt in Indiana. I’d only seen her a couple of times in the 26 years that she’d been with my Uncle. He is my Dad’s youngest brother, and a lot like my Dad.

We chatted a little, and I caught her up on how we’d moved to Virginia last year,and how my sons were doing. She told me about how her home-based business has taken off and is doing well.
She told me about my Uncle’s health, which I’d known had been poor, years before. My Uncle was a chip off the old block, and like his brother, and his Dad, (and his niece) he had been a voracious drinker. Grandpa instilled a strong work ethic in his sons, and at the same time, a strong thirst for whiskey. I guess my Uncle’d stopped drinking 4 years ago, but not before it had taken a serious toll on his health.
She began talking about having a nurse come in to help with bathing him, and a hospital bed being placed in the living room, and palliative care…and that’s as far as my mind went.

Wait. What?

I told her I must’ve missed something. The last time I saw my Uncle, who happens to be 2 years younger than I am, he was as health as any 40-something man who’d lived on a farm for most of his life. But she was talking about Nurses coming in to bathe him??
She told me “He’s dying from End Stage Cirrhosis.” He is unable to get to the restroom unaided…

So, my Saturday ended on a much more somber note than any in recent memory. It’s the sort of thing that really makes me grateful for so many days that I don’t have to learn that a relative who used to be my childhood friend -like a brother, really- is nearing the end of their life.

The tears will come

So, here I am, thinking about my Uncle. When we were young, we climbed trees together, shared secrets, swam in the pond together, and we even turned an old delapidated hog shack into a, well, less delapidated fort-like thing.

Today he is a broken man, raised with so much childhood pain, so many battles to fight…now in hindsight, I see in him one more victim of the disease of alcoholism.

My Uncle never chose to be born to an angry, violent alcoholic. He learned from his dad how to fight, how to run away, and how to destroy anyone who got too close. He learned to hurt those he cared for most, by watching his Mother’s abuse. And in the end, as is usually the case, he learned from his Dad how to progressively kill himself.

Tomorrow’s another day

And it’s about 3 hours later than I’d planned to be going to bed. You know what they say, “if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.”

Posted from my cabin far away from home.

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.”

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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.

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. 🙂

 

 

 

 

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

The life-changing events of my time living in Europe

As a young Midwestern girl, I dreamed of living in Europe for as far back as I can remember. The countryside was far greener, the people more friendly, diverse and interesting, and even the architecture was amazing when compared to the cookie-cutter neighborhoods to which I’d been accustomed. It looked to be just about Heaven, as far as I could tell.
My friends and I sought to expand our knowledge and understanding of the (small but hard) world around us via copious amounts of weed, alcohol, and acid, while dreaming of our eventual lives -doing all those same things, of course- overseas. Heck, I was young enough then to believe in the dreams of my friends, if not my own.

Listening to Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, The Lizard King, and of course, The Wall, we gathered our ideas of what was, and what had been, and what could be…
So, when I found myself in a position whereby all I had to do to get to The Promised Land (Europa) was get my live-in boyfriend, who was signing up for the Army, to marry me, I somehow made that happen. As young as he was, I’m pretty sure it was via bedroom intimate private “negotiations” that he was easily persuaded.
After he left for boot camp, I spent that period and the 6 months after that smoking, snorting, dropping and  drinking everything I cound get my hands on.
The codependency and depression of my youth exploded, and I went into a pretty fast, downward spiral. Then, to my in-patient “hospital” stay. It was more like a spa, I suppose, than what I’d imagined a psychiatric place to be, and I remember feeling relieved, somehow. Within those walls, I could Just. Be. Me.
After a week to get “stabilised” (I supposed that was the intention, or maybe just supervised detox) on antidepressants, they cut me loose. I hadn’t felt it necessary to talk about my previous chemical intake, and as I left, it felt like an aside when someone suggested  I check out Alcoholics Anonymous.

Meh. That wasn’t my problem! That was my solution!!

Soon after returning to my little studio apartment, I realized that the medication was causing me to blackout sooner, so of course, I nixed the Prozac. (Duh.)

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The house where I lived. Gotta love Google maps!!

Upon arriving in Frankfurt, my husband took me to (of course) one of the usual bars in Saxenhausen. I had a really large glass of Pils (German ale), and a hit of acid. (Right about now was when the music began playing from when Dorothy discovered the Emerald City)

I had effin arrived!!!

It was in most ways, every bit as magical as I’d imagined.
The experience of living in Germany and seeing bits of France (and Amsterdam of course) sealed in my heart a longing to return, which even 24 years later, hasn’t subsided. It would be tres interesting to go there clean & sober, no?!

The short story of what comes to my mind when I think of how that year & a half changed my life forever is this:
My Dad took the opportunity to come for a week (or two?), during which we did some site-seeing…the experience of his driving on the auto-bahn left me with a quote I’ve not yet forgotten. We were headed toward France at the required break-neck speed (so it seemed at the time), and decided that we weren’t necessarily on the road that we wanted. Dad quipped “Well, I’m not sure where we are, but we’re really making good time!” (It may have been more hilarious because I was HIGH. You can be the judge.)
Dad had put together only a few months of sobriety at this time, and in hindsight, I’m positive I was set-up; maybe not by Dad, but nonetheless. He “needed me to help him find a meeting” in Germany. He knew I wasn’t ready to quit, yet. But he needed to get to his safe place, and I know he wanted to share this new fanily with me.
I left that meeting feeling confused and somehow hopeful.
That was one way my life was changed. My first AA meeting, in Frankfurt, Germany.

A few months later, the other life-changing event of my time in Europe.

I discovered I was pregnant.

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Blessed and confused

Posted from my cabin in the mountains.