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.

Just don’t drink. Or use, or hurt anyone!

For the last few weeks, I’ve been noticing some more emotions coming up than usual, for me. I mean, the Thanksgiving-to-New Year’s time of year is almost universally difficult for many of us to get through. 

I’ve been thinking of when I was younger, like maybe middle-school age or less, I had a conversation with my Dad in which we talked about me being depressed. I think I’m really not alone in the kind of reaction I received: “You? Depressed? (Laughter) What do you have to be depressed about, little girl?! You have a nice home, food, clothes and 2 parents who love you!” And he wasn’t wrong. But he wasn’t entirely right, either. 

As a very small child I learned to be “PERFECT”, because when I stepped out of line -even accidentally- I was going to pay a painful price. Dad had a hair-trigger temper, and he punished me with his belt when he was ANGRY. I was terrified of his anger my entire life, and even now I have a lot of anxiety when a man raises his voice in anger. 

I later learned that I had had A.D.D., which looks different in girls than in boys. I was called a daydreamer, or space cadet. I got in trouble for talking all the time, and it was next to impossible for me to get all my supplies and homework to where they were supposed to be without forgetting or losing something. 

At the time, these traits just infuriated Dad, because he was sure that I “had to be doing it on purpose”. Then I heard “stupid, lazy, doesn’t pay attention, lazy and doesn’t even try”. 

I was reminded of that situation when I heard recently of a relative of mine, in reference to his teenager being depressed, saying things like Not going to medicate and Counsellors are a waste of money. It really bothered me to hear that, because that kind of thinking has cost far too many people struggling with addiction and/or mental illness their lives. If you see that your child is miserable, with no obvious reasons for it, why wouldn’t you do whatever it took to at least find out WHY? 

News flash: mental illness and addiction are things that our kids are PRE-DISPOSED toward. It’s not an entirely hereditary issue, but it makes the odds of developing addiction/mental illness go up about 100%. It has been proven that children with untreated mental illness are several times more likely to develop a dependancy to drugs or alcohol.  And, p.s., telling someone to “suck it up” or “snap out of it” DOESN’T WORK. 

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Ok, back to the holidays. When I think of Christmas, I think of family get-togethers with lots of food and presents and all the adults getting hammered.  I don’t really remember much about my earliest Christmases, because PTSD. 

I used to have my ideas about what I’d like to happen, memories of what had happened in the past, and fears of how it was more than likely going to turn out, as I walked in the door. I knew what to expect, but not how to protect myself or my sobriety.


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Someone gave me some simple definitions once:

Anger: I’m not getting what I want.

Fear: I might not get what I want.

Resentment: I didn’t get what I wanted.

Those are possibly overly simplistic in this scenario, but they do fit.

Most of us have had unpleasant and difficult childhoods. I’m not trying to put the blame on our parents; they did the best they could. They may have come up in the same kind of dysfunction, or worse. 

The truth of the matter is that we learn the family “script” as children watching how the adults do things. If nothing changes, nothing changes. 

When we get together with old friends or family during the holidays, it may be with apprehension and great reluctance. Nobody knows how to push our buttons like family. Oddly, when we start making positive changes in our lives, those are the folks who may be the most resistant. It’s kind of like the family has a script with everyone’s roles established. Everything goes as usual until someone doesn’t read their lines. 

Or it’s like if you are dancing with a partner and you change dances mid-song. They’re going to want you to go back to the dance that you’d been rehearsing, even if it does look bad and feel worse to the dancers…

Anyway, it’s late and I’ve got to work tomorrow. 

I encourage you, if you’re doing anything tomorrow that gives you that old familiar pain, to plan ahead.

Be sure you have Recovering folks #s on you, don’t forget to pray in the morning and more, and keep your expectations low. Don’t expect yourself to walk through a bunch of drama and come out serene and beaming. Likewise, don’t expect anything from your family that’s not realistic for them. 

If Uncle Frank likes to have spiked eggnog starting at breakfast, then maybe it would be helpful for you to decide how to deal with him before you get to the party. If your Mom feels the need to treat you like a 10-year-old even though you’re 50 and have grown children, it could be a good idea to practice setting boundaries beforehand. And if you know that everyone will be sh*t-faced by 9pm, make your excuse when you arrive, (like I’ve gotta catch a meeting @ 8) and then it won’t seem so abrupt when you bolt out the door. 

Posted from my treehouse in the woods. 

Holidays in Sobriety

For those in early sobriety, this time of year can be fraught with potential (recovery) land mines. 

Workplace Christmas parties, family get-togethers that we can be under a lot of pressure to attend, and the increasing reminders of alcohol (& etc) everywhere can all be overwhelming. 
For many of us, just the thought of spending an extended period of time with our families can be a stressful proposition. Past hurts are revisited, and the family can be confused or angry at the sober person for no longer partaking with them…

What I know is that there are always AA/NA meetings. Usually there are marathon meetings on Christmas and New Year’s, which are back-to-back meetings for 24 hours. Christmas/Hanukkah will have events in church/temple, for those who prefer those instead of (or in addition to) 12-step meetings.

The biggest thing that will help you to make it through the next couple of weeks with your clean/sober date intact is to be PROACTIVE. Spend time with people who are also in recovery. Non-drinkers or users can be great people, but they’re not gonna be able to share with you their experience in celebrating the holidays sober, in spite of themselves. I know I went to at least one meeting for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s of my first 5+ years. 

If your recovery is your priority, you will be able to begin 2017 with the same clean date that you have now.

I am grateful for this new way of life, and for being able to be present for my family. I am grateful to be able to learn how to care for MYSELF, as well as others. 


See more every Saturday @ http://www.drunkless.com !

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. 

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.    

“To be honest…”

Whenever I hear those words, I immediately wonder, “was everything up until now a lie?” I mean, if you have to clarify that AT THIS TIME you’re telling the truth…you could be an alcoholic/addict. 

I don’t lie anymore

I’ll never forget the time I heard a guy with 30 days or so -again- say in a meeting that since he stopped drinking, he didn’t lie anymore. I’m not sure if it was part of a ploy to hook up with a new(er)comer, but he sounded sincere when he said it. 

Seriously?

 I was surprised to hear that, to say the least. Especially from this person. But, you know, that’s his stuff. (I did choke a little on my coffee, though, as I was trying not to laugh.) 

What does honesty even look like?
According to the Bigger Big Book, we don’t really know the full story of what goes on in our own heart & mind. “Cash-register honesty”, now that’s easy enough to identify, but what about…the rest of our lives? 

When I was going to meetings with Dad, where they were mostly Crusty Oldtimers (The Winner’s Circle in Lakeland, in case you’re curious), they taught me a more comprehensive way to find out what MY truth was, at any given moment. 

Checkity check yoself before you wreck yoself

They taught me to check my motives. Sounds easy enough, right?

 Here’s an example:

I want to give Joe Blow a ride to a meeting (even though my Sponsor warned me about fraternizing with the opposite sex).

What’s my motive? Obviously, I want to be a friend, and help him out. Sounds good, doesn’t it? And that may well be PART of the truth.

Check it again

They told me to check my motives again. 

What’s my real motive? Well, it’s a nice thing to do, and I’m trying to think of others first. That sounds legit. It’s most likely a part of my reason for giving him a lift.

One more time

Yep, they told me to check my motives 3  times!

What’s my REAL, bottom line, honest to God motive? Siiigh. I don’t want to do this. 

I want to do a favor for someone, so I’ll have leverage on them whenever I need a favor.

I want others to see me doing “Service Work”.

I’m so lonely, I just want someone to talk to. Besides, I have trust issues with women. I’ve always gotten along better with men. 

And finally, the TRUTH:

I don’t know how to act without a man in my life, and he looks at me like he’s interested, and my self-esteem needs some help (which he appears willing to *ahem* stroke)!

Hm. That’s a lot of work!

One thing about being a World-Class Liar for so long, is that you can’t tell when you’re lying. (We’ll talk about denial in a future post.)

So, in summary, I need to check my motives 3 times (sometimes more) whenever I think something. Because I am selfish and self-centered to the core. I even do nice things for others (altruism isn’t unheard of, even among people like us) because I GET SOMETHING OUT OF IT.

So it’s bad for me to do good?

I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to do for others! It’s good to be helpful. Kinda like the idea of doing a good deed and not telling anyone. 

If you were to take a younger person under your wing (say, niece or nephew) because they needed guidance that their parent couldn’t give them, that’s a good thing, and more likely to have a positive motive. 

On the other hand, if the only younger folks you’re willing to spend time helping are, for example, the kids in your church’s Youth Group – where you’re sure to get more than a few pats on the back – instead of the one that you KNOW is in a bad place, that very few people would know about, and that you could definitely help…well, you tell me what the motives there, are.

I’m never gonna get that.

Honesty is one of the strange new concepts that sobriety/clean time requires that we learn. One day at a time. Sometimes slowly…