Why I hate judgemental people.

There is a person that I work with who recently made some remarks that I found to be really offensive, not to mention ignorant, about people who struggle with addictions. Things like “they must like it in jail! They get a bed, free food, internet, a gym…”

Like I said, ignorant. 

I’ve been mulling it over; how much it affects me when people look at (us) as low-life’s. I know people have had that sort of disdain for me for most of my life. 

So, I work alongside this person almost every shift. It’s been burning in my stomach for weeks. I am well aware of the dangers of harboring resentments, and I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how to get past this one. Yesterday I decided to just be extra nice to her, but when I said “Thank you, Jane!” She (following the script we’ve established, I guess) snapped back with a “you’re welcome” that was dripping with sarcasm. 

I guess I heard Someone whisper in my ear, something along the lines of ” what is it in ME that is so bothered by her?” Do I see in her a trait that I’ve been guilty of? Is this a case of “You spot it, you’ve got it?”

By the end of today’s shift, I had come to a conclusion on this.

The reason I have such a terribly difficult time with judgemental people, is that they cause ME to judge them. It’s a knee-jerk reaction, really. I see/hear them condescending or patronizing someone, and in my mind I go into immediate aggression mode.  I’m grateful to be able to make that connection. When I judge them, how am I any better than they?

I’ve torn this woman up in my mind so many times. I know there are several UGLY things that come to mind whenever I see her. 

I judge the SHIT out of her, and I want to stop! I don’t like the person that I become when forced to co-exist…
And I need to remember how it makers me feel. I will ask God to help me love her. I will try harder to see some good in her. I will not look at her because I know she’ll be watching me (another life-long trigger).  

I know that the degree to which I judge others, is how much I will be judged.

God help me!
Possted from my loft beside the mountains. 

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3 short days

I’ve been thinking about what I’d like to say about Good Friday & Easter, and I’m still not sure, but I am going to write something, now. 

If you Google “Crucifixion story” and “Easter story”, you can find the 4 gospels’ accounts of these events, and in whichever translation you prefer.

The things that are recorded as having happened just as Jesus was dying must have been difficult to ignore. I mean, there was an earthquake, the sky became dark, and the veil in the temple was ‘somehow’ torn in half. Oh, and let’s not forget that after the earth quake, several dozen graves were emptied as their residents came walking out, roaming the countryside.

In fact, as Jesus died one of the Roman guards who had been involved in the brutal beating and Crucifixion, just hours earlier, fell to his knees and proclaimed that Jesus was indeed the Son of God.

For several years, around this time of year, I liked to re-watch “The Passion of the Christ”. I know it’s not 100% Bible-based, but it’s accurate enough to make it’s point. It’s easily the most realistic account of the subject matter.
I know my mind’s ability to minimize or exaggerate, and that’s why I want to be reminded of some of the gruesome and excruciating things He endured. For me, and for you.

It’s been said that the devil’s best weapon to keep people out of church is the “Christians” who are already there. It certainly worked on me for a long time. The worst abuse I’d ever endured was at the hands of someone who CLAIMED to represent Christ.
It was many (about 20) years before I could accept that most or all of the church-going men were not abusing their women. Today I know better.

I looked at the humans sitting in the pews to be my examples of Christ, which was a huge mistake.

As I felt myself being drawn (wooed, really) back to God, I determined that I wasn’t going to be fooled again.
The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was proof of the lengths the Father will go to in order to show His love for us. I know it doesn’t make sense to a lot of folks, but it’s a heart thing, not a mind thing.

Easter is my favorite holiday. It’s about second chances and new life. I hope you’re able to let God get close to you this weekend. He’s not what so many people make Him out to be. 
But don’t take my word for it. Ask God to show himself to you. He will. 

What’s so happy about Valentine’s Day?

I have experienced many holidays as a single person (or worse-wishing I was single), with the accompanying loneliness that seems to be magnified by each “special” day. 

Here in the States, practically every holiday has become another way for the cards & gift businesses to get rich. God forbid you don’t decorate your trees & bushes with orange and green lights for Halloween, and giant blow-up rabbits for Easter! It goes without saying that any day that’s deemed a holiday on the American calendar, you will be expected to buy cards and gifts. 

And when you’re a single person, all this gift-giving can feel like a big foam finger singling you out: “LOOK! It’s a table for ONE!!” (Gasps) “Wonder what’s wrong with her? Nobody is eating with her!” …Followed by the pitying shaking of their heads and “tsk, tsk, tsk.” At least that’s how I felt. 

Of course in my mind the world was pointing and whispering because DUH it was all about me. I was always concerned about what “they” would think of me, and guess what? They weren’t thinking about me, at all! Most people seem to be too worried about keeping up appearances to realize that they’re just NOT THAT IMPORTANT to the passers-by on the street. 

Anyway. I wanted to write a post to say something about being unattached, or single on Valentine’s Day. I know it was horribly lonely for me before I began my journey into sobriety. I honestly didn’t know how to behave unless I had a Significant Other. 

Once I got clean & sober, I was focused on my baby and exhausted, so I didn’t notice the loneliness as much. 

The folks in the rooms talked about being lonely, and sometimes it was a sincere conversation, whereas other times it came from a Newbie who had a tale of woe, full of stories how she didn’t understand him, or she did him wrong; (you know, the stuff pretty much any old time country song was made of)…He (or she) would look around the room then down at the floor and say “I’m just so lonely!” Then he would look up slightly to see which of the women were taking the bait… Yeah, I’m not interested in that brand of loneliness, for this post. 

I began to feel the deep, empty-heart feelings of loneliness, and it wasn’t like it had  been before. I didn’t really want to have a “relationship” to keep me company, even though a person to become enmeshed with would certainly help to distract me from that hollow place in my gut. 

After working some of the Steps with a Sponsor I began to feel less heavy in my soul. When I completed 4 & 5, it was as if the pool of loneliness had been drained. Strange, huh? 

I talked to my Sponsor and my Higher Power about it, and this is what I realised: I wasn’t lonely because I was alone. I’d felt lonely for all those years because I couldn’t stand my own company! Pre-recovery (and even long after, to a much lesser degree), wherever I went, the radio or TV were on. 

ALWAYS.

 It kept the voices in my head down to a dull roar, for the most part. I’d noticed that about myself and wondered why it was, until I got past those Steps and learned that I’m actually NOT a horrible and worthless person. I began to get some acceptance of who I was and why I’d done those things. It became possible for me to spend time in the quiet. It was even pleasant!

So, for me, the “Universal Loneliness” that I was told plagued all of us alkie/druggies was really a treatable malady. The chemicals were just a symptom, and the solution was in the Steps. 

I hope that you had a great day today, whether there were cards and kisses involved, or whether you just spent a while with yourself.

I am learning to be content, whatever situation I turn out to be in. I know there are many ways to find peace & contentment once the self-induced anesthesia wears off. The Steps are the simple, practical way that has set and IS setting me free. 
Happy February 14th! 

Twist Cap to Vent

I’m pretty sure that anything that I experience can, in one way or another, serve to teach me something. Sometimes it’s several things. 

Really, each friend, each teacher, each intimate relationship, even work relationships have taught me a lesson, or lessons. One taught me that I was not what the abusers and bullies said I was. I was delightful and loveable. 

A few of my childhood friendships taught me that it was OK to be different, it was OK to be awkward, and I when I began this Recovery journey, many of my associates taught me that I didn’t ever have to be alone, again. 

I’ve had a variety of lessons from co-workers. Usually I learn from them how to better accomplish what the job requires, but during break time, I’ve gotten information on things as diverse as parenting a special needs baby and the best place to get a haircut. 

The last places where I worked taught me about how great it can be to work together with people of different educational levels, different colors, ages, intellectual abilities, and belief systems.I have been blessed to work with many hard working, caring, and dedicated people in the field of Human Services. 

On the other hand, I’ve worked with more than a couple of people who were lazy at best, and apathetic about the health and well-being of the clients, at worst. 

I’ve been confused as to why these people want to do this kind of work, and also why the employers allow them to keep their jobs when their care of the clients can blatantly cross the line into neglect, even when co-workers make multiple reports to their supervisors with nothing done. NOTHING. 

So, I think I’m beginning to get it. I would rather not, but over the last several months I’ve started to see what’s going on.  The employers aren’t able to keep the good workers, due in part to the poor workers getting all the same benefits as those who actually WORK, so they keep the poor workers. The good workers see the neglect and laziness of their co-workers and eventually find work elsewhere, after coming to accept that their own efforts are merely drops of water in a crap-filled bucket.

I know why the poor workers are here: no consequences for their actions, and they get paid for literally looking at their phones for 7-8 hours at a stretch. Heck, if I knew someone else would do all the dirty work, I’d be tempted to take it easy occasionally, too. But that’s not happened, even when the co-worker was given every opportunity to step up, just a little. 

I am presently learning more about God’s will vs. my will. 

I was called a few days before Christmas by a prospective employer, and had an interview set up about 2 weeks later. (2 whole weeks to be nervous, right?!) The day before the interview, I was called & told that it would have to be postponed, due to illness. Oh, OK. God’s will is ALWAYS much slower coming than mine, which isn’t to say that every time something takes forever it’s God’s will, but in this sort of thing, I believe it is. So, I wait to get a call back to set another date. And I wait, and time is creeping by (impatience is a difficult thing to conquer!), and while it totally feels like I waited 3 more weeks,  it’s actually been about a week. 
I FINALLY got a call today to set the interview date! I’m psyched! So, maybe in a couple of days? The start of next week? Oh, heck, naw.

 It’s not for TWO MORE WEEKS!! Sigh.

The title of this post came from something on a laundry soap container at work, while filling up the washer for the 3rd or 4th time in a shift. I looked at the words “Twist Cap to Vent” and my immediate thought was “I could stand to vent! But I don’t have a cap to twist! Reckon this will just have to be blogging goodness.” 

I try not to vent to my incredible husband as much as I feel like it, and there’s not really a lot of other choices, so here it is. 

Do you try to see the lesson in experiences, good or bad? What’s something you’ve  learned recently? 

Written in a group home.

As promised: Q & A with the Director & Executive Producer of “Surrender”.

​Interview: Mark Renshaw + Christopher Carson Emmons

Chris, as the director, you brought forth a patient yet striking visual narrative with this short film.  How were you able to achieve the vision you sought with the numerous effects shots and other stylistic challenges that the film required?
The team tried to achieve many unconventional things with this project, it is essentially a silent film from the point of view of an unreliable narrator (due to his alcoholism we see some things that are only in his mind) and is also a mental health and addiction awareness piece masquerading as a horror/thriller film.
I felt that showing literal manifestations of the main character’s inner demons throughout would help communicate why as an addict he consciously makes the wrong decision time and time again. The temptress character at his office is a living manifestation of the addict’s impulse to do the wrong thing while being aware it’s wrong, perhaps seeking ultimately punishment and intervention from external forces before the darkness inside completely consumes.
I also wanted the viewer to experience what a day in the life of this man was like from his point of view, in an effort to hopefully help them empathize with what otherwise may have been a deeply unsympathetic character. To me, the core issue of the character was a lack of self-love, which caused him to lash out at loved ones because he didn’t feel he deserved them and he simultaneously punished and medicated himself constantly for this with alcohol.
We tried with the visuals to thematically imbue a sense of not trusting the world around the lead character or the character himself early on. Even the water bottle he puts clear alcohol in is misleading, but alcoholics viewing the film would know that there are many ways such as this to disguise addiction. With the sound, we tried to really illustrate the decay inside this man physically and spiritually. Every time he takes a drink of alcohol, you hear the sound of his insides burning. The music is really the dialogue, which communicates most of the emotion throughout the journey.
Mark, as the writer and Executive Producer, you drew from some personal accounts when you envisioned—and eventually scripted—“Surrender”. Please tell us about your personal journey that led to the genesis of this unique and important film.
At the time of writing this, I’m three years, nine months and two days sober; not that I’m counting or anything!
I was a functioning alcoholic. I had a successful career, a fantastic family and a lovely home. At face value my life was perfect. I seemed like a happy, normal guy.
Inside I was dying.
Physically, mentally and spiritually, I was a wreck. I couldn’t cope with the real world, so I started to rely on something which took me out of my anxiety and into my own version of reality. The only thing keeping me going was the promise of that bottle at the end of each day. It became my solution to everything.
Eventually I had my rock bottom, I reached my jumping off place. To quote from Pulp Fiction, “I had what alcoholics describe as a moment of clarity.” I admitted defeat, reached out for help and began my recovery.
When I wrote “Surrender”, I wanted to encapsulate how it feels to exist as a functioning alcoholic. I wanted to show how different they are from the stereotypical, drunken tramp-like figure most people imagine when they think of an alcoholic. My goal was to highlight how ordinary they appear at face value, as well as how deceptive and manipulative they can be.
The main character, Dave, isn’t me, but he does represent key elements of my battle with the booze. “Surrender” also drew on many shared experiences I’ve heard from alcoholics over the past few years.
However, I wanted to avoid a potentially dull narrative were we simply observe a character drink heavily and wind up in trouble. I initially wrote about a guy who existed in a completely isolated world when he was sober. The only way he could cross into the ‘real world’ and interact with people was to take a drink. This would allow him to operate normally for a while but he would eventually spin out of control and wind up back in the ’empty zone’ when he woke up.
After reading this script, Chris suggested that I try a more horror-based approach, in which we could see his fears, anxieties and all his inner demons materialized. I loved this idea. And thus, “Surrender” was born. 
What do you hope audiences leave with after viewing “Surrender”?
Chris: My hope with this film is that people take a moment to question what the differences are between someone’s surface demeanor and their inner lives. What is the person who publicly seems happy all the time really thinking and what does this temperament do to their soul? What are the depths of compassion the person you deem awful or irredeemable is actually capable of?
Functioning alcoholics are often masterful at seeming like they have it all together, which makes them incredibly difficult to diagnose let alone get to seek treatment. It is an internal struggle that I think deserves examination and awareness.
The film unapologetically presents an addict who is self-destructive in all aspects of his life on his road to rock bottom. When presented with the concept of rehabilitation by his wife, we end the film on his response, which is simply “How?” This is one of the most important questions we should all be addressing about addiction, and it is my hope that the film ultimately contributes to that dialogue.
Mark: This may seem strange but I would like viewers to have a strange taste in their mouth when they watch “Surrender”. I want them to be hooked into Dave’s journey but be slightly uncomfortable about the ride. 
Dave represents the ‘Yet Factor.’ I drink a bit too much, but not during the day…yet. I drink but at least I’ve not lost my job…yet. Well, I’ve passed out a few times but I’ve never woken up in a strange place…yet. Etc.
My hope is that anyone struggling with addiction, both personally or through someone they know, will identity with Dave’s struggle. When they get to the end of “Surrender”, I want them to realize that no matter how far down the ladder they may have fallen, they can always climb back up. I also hope that they are as curious as Dave as to how this can be accomplished and seek the help to do so.

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.

image

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.