Just Another Day in Paradise

​Perusing one of my blogs from many years ago, I came upon this & thought I’d share it with you. I hope it blesses you.

This morning I woke up with a heavy heart. After talking recently with a friend about how I’ve been doing pretty well for the last few months taking only half of the most recently prescribed dosage of antidepressants, some recent events would have had me wondering, not so long ago. 
Today I know that it’s normal to feel deeply, and my determination to rely more on God, (and as little as possible on chemicals) allows me to feel, and DEAL with it. 
Now I’m sitting in a crowded food pantry, looking for a mental escape. …it was as crowded today as I’ve ever seen it, and the place was full of overly warm bodies, and talking, yelling & the occasional baby crying – the sights & sounds of low-income and the discomforts of life, when you’re broke and hungry. 
At one point an overweight (most of the folks were, and probably under-nurished, statistically speaking)  woman burst in, yelling and cursing at a thin, dirty young man sitting behind me to give back her ipad. The volunteers were pretty quick to get the situation taken outside, but not before she’d hit him. I heard the impact, but couldn’t tell where she’d struck him. From his (non) reaction, it seemed like it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for their relationship.  
One more part of “the norm” for under-educated, unemployed, oppressed,  depressed populations. After the couple left, it occurred to me that some music would be nice, and w/ earbuds I would be able to block out the noise. Todd Agnew sang about Hope, and my spirit was soothed for a moment.  
After the song was over, I unplugged the earbuds & put on some old-time hymns. I felt like it was something that I could contribute, to improve the place for all of us waiting.  
A small thing, but the Spirit came through. For a few brief minutes, the chaos lifted. I felt better for having been able to help. 

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I didn’t know what I didn’t know

My Dad told me that getting sober is about growing up. One of the first things that I can remember becoming clear to me in those early days was that I didn’t know everything. The next step seems to have been realizing that it wasn’t important for me to be RIGHT. That’s been an on going lesson. 

When I became a Mother, I knew that I had no idea how to care for my child. I’d worked at Day Cares, and even become a certified Nanny at one point, but in the position I found myself when I became a parent,  I realized that I was pretty much clueless. I knew how to put on a diaper, sure, but there was so much more about which I had no idea. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Now, almost 24 years later, I am convinced that I have no clue. By the grace of God my boys have turned out as healthy as they are. 

When I began working the steps with my Sponsor, I was apprehensive, having heard lots of those who’d come to the rooms before me talking about their struggles. Of course, I hadn’t begun my Stepwork, so I thought those people were a bunch of cry-babies. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. But I soon found out. 

When I was still calling the shots in my life, in Party Girl mode, I was always looking for something new. Something exciting. For a long time, the chemicals were enough to bring me to new and exciting lands (if only hallucinatory). After a while that wasn’t enough, so I chose more exciting places and more dangerous people with whom to run around. I suppose it was the adrenaline rush along with whatever drugs I used that made for an acceptable escape from the mundane and the depression that was a constant companion. I knew how to create distractions for myself, even if they were increasingly perilous. I was untouchable. 

I didn’t know what I didn’t know. 

Of course one can only live in that level of (drama) for so long before it starts to catch up with them. I don’t recall anyone talking to me about my drinking or using, but I suspect that’s just because I’d decided that wasn’t going to hear it.  More than likely, there were at least a couple of times that folks cared enough to try to get through my hard head. But I was skating along with relative ease, at the time. I refused to see the place that this lifestyle was taking me. I suspect that much of my cavalier attitude regarding the impending crash-and-burn was due to my complete lack of self-worth and my confidence that the hell I was living in was unavoidable.  I didn’t know what I didn’t know. 

I’ve been unable to avoid the political sh*t-storm in recent weeks, try as I have. This post was prompted by learning the truth about a situation that had been sold as a seriously unfathomable act by a candidate. The original information wasn’t (clearly) reported as having been (spun) by their adversary, so I took it as the truth. It was pretty outrageous. I thought this person was as big a scumbag as I’d already decided that their opponent was. Then I stumbled across the truth. I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
It’s my own fault. I’m too comfortable hearing about unethical behavior to actually look into it, to find the truth. Laziness, I guess. But as the Day of Reckoning draws nearer, I’ve begun to concede that I ought to gather some information before I go pull a lever. I lot of times in the past I’ve been able to just watch for my associates (politically in-the-know people) to summarize the facts, and go from that. But this time it’s just not that easy. I’m beginning to know what I don’t know. Once you know a thing, you cannot unknow it. As much as I prefer to be ignorant about the goings-on of the “powers that be”, I’m coming to believe that not only is ignorance NOT bliss (crazy, right?), but that ignorance in these matters may give me something else to answer for in the Grand Scheme of things. And that list is already WAY TOO long for my liking. 

Let’s get busy and learn about the people who are vying for control of our great country. Four years in the hands of an idiot has proven to be more costly than we the people can afford. 

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

~~~NOTE: This is my experience, strength and hope, as a recovering alcoholic/addict. It’s not what I learned in a book. It’s things I’ve learned from folks who lived it.~~~

…so, where did we leave off? Oh, yeah. “I don’t have a problem” vs. “Oh, Hell, yes you do.”

It seems like a reasonable question, from a parent, spouse, friend, or even concerned employer, to ask “What can I do to make this insanity stop?” There’s where it gets really crazy. Why?

insanity_laughter_statue

“Shoot me now!”

Because YOU can’t do a thing to make them stop. Or even slow down. Nope. Sorry.  Look at it this way, if you could change the way their lives were going, wouldn’t you have, by now? It’s not like you haven’t done your best to “help” them!!

If loving you, the kids, their pets, their home, or even themselves (or whomever) were enough motivation to cause the alcoholic/addict to stop the insanity, they would have stopped a long time ago. Love or not has NOTHING to do with addiction (including alcoholism). One of the results of addiction, actually, is self-loathing, because they more often than not, know that they’re hurting you. But they are powerless to stop. For now.

If a good job being jeopardized was enough to get them to stop, they would have, after losing the first one. Right?  Ditto, losing their drivers’ license. Ditto, spending time in the county lock-up. Seems simple, doesn’t it? “Just quit!” or even, “Learn to drink like a gentleman!

So, addiction has nothing to do with how the addict feels about the world around them, necessarily. Sure, depression and/or countless other mental illnesses may accompany the addiction, or have become more noticeable to you since the person began to increase their consumption. Many drugs (including alcohol) mimic mental illness, eventually, after enough has been consumed. But that’s not the reason why they drink or use drugs…

I’m not going to go into an in-depth dialogue of why some folks get addicted and others don’t, or what causes addiction. Maybe in another post, but not this one.  The insanity of the disease of addiction is apparent in the behavior of not only the alkie/druggie, but also in the behavior of everyone in a relationship with them.

Today I’m hoping to reach out to the ones caught in the whirlwind of addiction brought on by their loved ones, and offer real, tangible hope.

The point is, the only one who is capable of deciding to stop drinking or using drugs, on a daily basis, is the one doing them in the first place.

What you can do, to HELP this person, will sound crazy, but consider it, please, in contrast to the ways you’ve been trying to “help” them.

*I am fully aware the this is going to sound harsh, and a lot of people involved with (us) will reject this advice across the board.*

Treat them like an adult. Let them take responsibility for their own screw-ups. Give them the dignity of finding their own solutions. You giving them is not likely to work, after all, haven’t you given them your best answers? (They have to find their own. You CAN’T do it for them.)

You didn’t pay the electric bill? Wow, that’s gotta suck. Do you need some candles? You don’t have any food in the  house? Maybe there are food pantries around that you can find. (Here’s a pb & j in the meantime. I’ll take the kids to McDonald’s, but you can pay your own way.)

You need gas to get to work? Ok, I’ll meet you at the gas station and put some into your tank. (This does not involve any money -plastic or otherwise- transferring from your hand to theirs. You go inside and pay the attendant. Or don’t: you’ll find out for yourself how that works out.)

                          ***LOVE THEM ENOUGH TO RISK THEM HATING YOU***

The problem with having children in the midst (which the alcoholic KNOWS is an effective manipulation tool-look how well it’s been working), is that they are going to suffer because of the choices their parents make. I’m not saying that you abandon the kids. Take the children out for a bite, take the children home for a sleep-over, even take temporary custody if you can or feel you must. (The fact is, if you know of neglect of abuse going on, think of what may be happening that you’re not  aware of. In the throes of our addiction, we are very talented in guarding evidence that might slow down or stop our using or drinking.) The thing is, the addict is going to look for any possible way to play on your sympathy, guilt, or love for them/their kids, to get to their prime goal: that next high. If you’re not  going to directly supply them, then they are going to find some way to relieve you of some cash.

Here’s the bottom line, dear friends: when an addict/alcoholic is active in their addiction, you are no longer interacting with the person you know and love. You are dealing with their disease. It helps me to understand the “disease” model by framing it within the realm of a mental illness. People with diagnosable mental illness act differently, don’t they? They often do things that they later regret, hurting those they care the most about, and some form of treatment is usually the only thing that will bring back any semblance of lucidity.  Sometimes therapy is enough, sometimes medication is needed for some amount of time, but ignoring it NEVER works. Seriously.

Trying to reason with a person in a bipolar/depressive/schizo-effective episode is like trying to teach a pig to sing:  It wastes your time and annoys the pig. People tried to talk to me about my consumption of mind-altering chemicals, and at BEST, they received a bored or irritated look in return.

Unless and until the person comes to the conclusion that their way isn’t working, they’re not going to seek out help. SO, since you DO love them, and you HAVE to do SOMETHING, please, take my advice:

Take care of you. Get to an ALANON or NARANON meeting, or a counselor familiar with addiction, to help you find the best way to detach from the insane behaviors and strengthen yourself. If you don’t take care of you, how are you ever going to be able to “be there” for them, if and when they come to their senses and seek help.

If you’ve read this far, I thank you. Some day, your loved one will thank you, if you actively work towards setting them free to take as much discomfort as they require, to decide to STOP. I leave you with one thought, that I heard from a wonderful lady in ALANON, many years ago:

How can they hit bottom if you keep sliding a mattress under their butt?

😉

 

 

The sun has come out

…so I guess it’s “tomorrow”, now. Yay. Thank God. I think a month of self-flagellation is plenty, don’t you? Cool. 

image

Wet noodles weren't enough.

Anyway, I’m in between laundering and running out to a Celebrate Recovery meeting, so this is gonna be short.
I was reading in the “Living Clean” book, and it (randomly) flipped open to something about emotional recovery, amd how there would come a time when we could say “I got through that without using!” and thereby adding another triumph to our arsenal of weaponry in the battle against the disease.
Once I made a list of things that I wouldn’t have expected to get through, clean, but did…maybe I will revisit that list here, at some point.
So, time has come to run out the door. I’m sorry that the last several posts have been so dismal (or at least that’s how they felt, from here). It’s been a long process,this particular lesson, and I think I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and there’s a rainbow just outside the doorway. Whew.
Thanks for.handin in there with me, fellow travellers.
How have you been??

Posted from my cabin in the last part of the tunnel.