Monthly Archives: October 2013

Procrastination: Getting nothing done, slower!

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Day 271

Woke up at 6:03AM as usual, made oatmeal which I consider to be as whole as healthy gets, stretched, prayed, went to the nanny gig at 7:00AM.  In a hustle, I shook off a brrr before I opened the door.  The second I walked in the 10-year-old munchkin/monster jumped out from behind a chair.

“BOO!!!!!!” She screamed with her hands up like claws. She got me.  Friggin’ boo tag.

Since it’s too cold to play basketball in the mornings Miss. Anonymous has taught me what she calls “Boo-Tag,” and I call “Anxiety Attack.”  The game goes like this:  one of us counts to 20 as the other hides somewhere in the house.  There’s the standard “ready or not here I come” warning, and the objective is to scare the crap out of the seeker the second before they see you.

My physiatrist told me that the worst thing to do for anxiety is avoid it, and recommended I put myself in situations that make me  most anxious; like driving on highways, and watching scary movies.  I figure since my mornings are now living nightmares, I’m taking doctor’s orders and enhancing my cognitive health.

After getting my blood pumping I went to job 2, which was great. It was picture day, and we had a photographer who started barking like a dog.  Usually I hate getting my picture taken but this guy made it worth the pain.  Plus, there were donuts.  I had the NY Giants-frosted one even though they should be shamed to NFL hell.

Then I had to get cupcakes, because someone mentioned cake; I can’t talk about cakes and not eat cupcakes.  I stopped at the bakery and picked two with the most grotesque amount of frosting.  I ate both and immediately regretted it.

There’s been a lot of nothing since then.  I fought with some insurance companies, wandered around, picking things up, putting them down, going to my laptop, googling dog behavior, texting for 20 minutes about diabolical plans, play dates, fireballs, and how Yoda’s name should be Young Yody. After that it was back to the computer, leaving my computer, etc., etc., etc.

Sometimes I think I spend my day walking around in circles, growing increasingly more anxious and stressed with each lap, until it’s nighttime; then I can’t sleep because I’m thinking about all the shit I didn’t get done. Procrastination will be the death of me…if I ever make it there.

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God, Johnny Depp, and Santa. Not in that Order.

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Day 268

When I was just a young grasshopper in sobriety, I felt embarrassed of my alcoholism and especially of my involvement with Alcoholics Anonymous.  I went to lunch with my first sponsor 8+ months ago, and she said “AA” audibly enough for the waitress to hear; I came this close to yanking the tablecloth off the table, throwing it over my head, and bolting from the restaurant…As if that’d draw less attention.

My personal stigma toward recovery didn’t last long. There’s no shame in having a disease, and certainly no shame in seeking treatment.  The fact of the matter is that my body felt like a dark empty cavity 268 days ago with a stillness inside that scared me, and that void is being filled with love and faith through God. This is where I get embarrassingly uncomfortable.

Like so many others, the mere mention of God used to make me cringe with discomfort and tense up with fury.  I think my averseness to the notion almost took me out a few times because I thought AA was trying to make me stand in a pew and confess my laundry list of sins.

Religion has always seemed like a manipulative institution of beggars and choosers; picking what can support their narrow-minded system of beliefs and leaving the rest.  In my mind, spirituality sort of glommed onto religion but seemed more like hocus-pocus, falling into the same category as Santa Clause—both nice, both lies.

I have come to learn that not all organized religions are evil, and none of them are affiliated with AA. AA is a spiritual program and just because Santa was a letdown doesn’t mean spirituality is, too. With acceptance of a higher power my definition has God has become defined in a very undefined way.

God to me is hearing a story of pain that ends in hope, it’s saying things I didn’t know I knew, it’s accidentally ordering the wrong truck cover the day before I was supposed to go to California, it’s asking for patience in moments of frustration, or being able to help someone who needs it as much as me in the moment.  Sometimes my God is simply “Dear Higher Power,” or “Thank you Mother Nature,” or “Sup, Great Spirit.”  God can be an acronym for Group Of Drunks, as long as I admit that by myself, I cannot stay sober.

Despite my comfortably and loosely constricted concept God, along with the fact that I’ve separated “Him” from religion, I can’t help but feel chagrined expressing spirituality with both alcoholics and non-alcoholics.

I feel judged mentioning “God moments” because if there’s a silence that falls afterwards, I immediately feel the need to explain myself and justify the importance.  It takes every fiber of my being to refrain from launching into my own higher power as I understand her/him/it, so I don’t, and then I sit and stew and wonder if I’ve been brainwashed. My insecurities come from self-centered fears of what other people think.  I make up scenarios in my head of what people say when I’m not around, about how I found God and lost my marbles.

What I need to work on is caring less about what others think.  I suppose caring less means gaining confidence, which comes through step work, and ironically, interaction with my higher power.  Part of me wants to get it all out, and proclaim my faith from the rooftops, yelling to anyone and everyone that I believe in a God, but that sounds as drastic as the tablecloth plan…I’ guess I’ll just pray on it.  Maybe I’ll pray for Johnny Depp, too.

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Learning to be okay, with just “okay.”

A recent share I could completely relate to:

Fellow Alcoholic:  “My sponsor asked me how I am doing, and I told him I’m okay, which is a weird place to be. I’m not joyous or angry or depressed.  There’s no jolt of anything.”

I can feel the anxious zone of stagnancy he spoke of, and its unnerving feeling of mundanity.  The good news is, we are not alone:

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A friend sent this to me after her sponsor sent it to her, and I find comfort knowing that feeling antsy with ordinary is a natural human condition.

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Lord Waldemort

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Day 235

I went to Walmart two days ago—it was awful, and unless there is a looting in the name of survival, I’m never going back.

There were several factors that contributed to my near death superstore experience:

 

a)   My wallet is on probation.

b)  I needed a bedside table to match my bedroom.  I had to obtain an inexpensive white table.  I had to go to Walmart…where white cheap tables flourish.

 

The parking lot was crazy enough, and once inside I realized it was suchlike a Vegas casino—no windows, no clocks, and no way out without spending money.  My eyes were immediately drawn to one dozen things I don’t need; Pajamas, cheap watches, Oreos, neato pencil erasers, four pairs of no-show socks for $5, an entire Dunkin Donuts facility, gallon-sized jugs of CheezIts…everything you need to kill yourself and keep yourself alive at the same time.

By the time I made it to where the cheap white tables lived, I realized that my cart was brimful with crapola.  As I contemplated whether or not I really needed ten gallons of Poland Spring water (I have a Britta filter at home), an announcement came on the PA.

“Attention adult shoppers, in TWO minutes there will be a free giveaway at the front of the store, next to the Dunkin’ Donuts.  We will be giving away FREE kitchen supplies, but it’s first-come first-serve.  Again, all adult shoppers, you have TWO minutes to get to the front of the store for this limited supply of quality kitchen goods.”

For the love of God, I thought, is this man trying to ensue a riot?!? Apparently, yes, yes he was.  Walmarter’s started running out from the woodworks in a mad rush for utensils they wouldn’t need to cook their 50 flats of SpaghettiO’s.   Motorized scooters buzzed past me as fast as their speed settings would permit, and the PA came on again.

“Attention adult shoppers, you have ONE minute to get to the front of the store for this free giveaway!  You don’t want to miss these top-quality kitchen gadgets!”

I wanted to reach into the invisible speakers and strangle the man. The herd increased momentum, and then passed leaving tumble weeds of wrappers behind.

After heaving the first white-furniture-structure I saw into my vessel, I hurriedly wheeled my big blue cart toward checkout.

“Your total comes to $171.52.”  The cashier said.

I was dumbfounded at the junk I had accumulated during my Walmart trance, but had no time to play the “can I put this back,” game.  After swiping my poor, dwindling debit card, I fled, and threw the grocery bags into the back of my truck, not even recognizing most of the rubbish.

What does this have to do with sobriety?  Nothing.  But I would have loved a drink after to calm down.

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The Disease of More

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Moderation has never come easily to me; I’m not  sure if I ever had it at all.  When I was only two and a half years old my mom introduced to the sweet, swirly goodness of cinnamon raisin bread. Knowing what I know now, I’m pretty sure this white flour carbohydrate was my first addiction.

Mama Anonymous has recounted my affinity for the bread hundreds of times; how after she doled out one piece, she’d turn around and my little baby butt would be sticking out from the cabinet, in a not-so-sneaky attempt to snag the whole loaf. Even then I felt that one piece was not enough. This would be the theme of my life.

The insatiable thirst for more has consumed me for as long as I can remember.  In elementary school my obsession became watermelon flavored Jolly Ranchers—I would spend my piggy bank money and buy the biggest possible bag from CVS, sneak them past my mom, and stash the inevitable unborn cavities under my pillow so I could eat them in secret at night.  Nothing about my covert Jolly reserve struck me as unusual, and maybe it wasn’t, maybe all kids hid candy under their pillows.  Maybe…

Dependencies have torn me down in mental and physical forms over the years: weed, artificial sugar, advilPM, ibuprofen, coffee, cigarettes, self mutilation, excessive exercise to the point of injury, overeating, under-eating, frozen yogurt, ecstasy–If I can use it I’ll abuse it.

Fortunately my life has taken a turn for sobriety, but my two most dependable addictions are gone: drugs and alcohol.

Whiskey and cocaine went together like peas and carrots, and provided everything I needed to live with myself and cope with others.  They fed me short-cuts to self-esteem and anesthetized the real world (and the real me) I was unable to face.  Mind altering substances diverted me from looking in and finding out where the pain was coming from, and diversions were okay for a while.  Albeit, as many alcoholics say, “it stopped working.”

The addiction I struggle with now is money.  Just like drugs, if I can use it, I’ll abuse it…and I do.  Although, my savings account is taking the brunt of the abuse.  Where’s my piggy bank when I need it?

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Holy Hyperawareness

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“Hyperawareness,” best describes Step 6 for this alcoholic.  After spending seven weeks on Steps 4 & 5 with my sponsor, I got my five character defects in return.   Now I am obnoxiously cognizant and wary.  Was I born with greed and attention seeking? Where does my disease start and where do I end?  How interchangeable are the two? I don’t know how defects work, or whether or not as a group we alchy’s and addicts have predispositions to the same defected idiosyncrasies, but I do know which ones have been running my show.  Now I just want them to stop.

I took the whole, “searching and fearless moral inventory,” thing pretty literally.  I’m sure I’m searching a little too far forward and far back, which is probably why I feel like a vulnerable, exposed, creature of chaos.  I feel like Medusa, actually, and all those crazy snakes that live on her head are my defects.  Plus she was kinda crazy, really angry, and hideous; I feel all of these things now that Step 6 has brought such defined character flaws to the surface.

The alcoholic part of my mind tells me I was the last to know about my defects; that I’ve been a walking human deformity forever, and should be embarrassed.  This new hyperawareness has my mind running in circles; when I’m loud, I wonder if it’s because I’m seeking attention or because I’m naturally a boisterous individual, when I buy something I shouldn’t, I beat the crap out of myself for being greedy.  I hounded a lady today because she left her Starbucks table an absolute mess.  “Are you going to clean that up?”  I said more rhetorically than questioningly.

Was that my pride?  Do I have to give up pride?  This is what I mean by hyperaware. Yikes.

The serenity prayer says “grant me the knowledge to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”  If I can figure out what those differences are, I’ll be set…

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Me, me, you?

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Day 260

“If you ever want to be unhappy, just sit down and think about yourself all day.”

When I heard this in a meeting it resonated, but it’s amazing how quickly I forget.

Living in a pre-Copernican state of mind where the universe revolves around my life is the fast track to going nowhere.  Self-talk makes my world so small; there’s no room for growth, and there’s certainly no room for anyone else.

In trying to obtain what I “needed” this past week to make me “happy,” I made myself extremely unhappy.  What I was seeking most vehemently was validation from others to placate my own insecurities.

If permitted, unrestrained self-centered fears will throw raging pity parties in my head; I’m not smart unless someone says so, I’m ugly until someone tells me I’m not, I’ll buy clothes to make me feel pretty, then traffic on the way home from buying clothes I couldn’t afford becomes the biggest inconvenience on earth. Then after wasting so much time on myself, an AA meeting becomes burdensome and I grow resentful of the meeting and everyone involved.  (Not me…everyone else.)

This cycle has run me around before and it will run me around again, anytime I fail to see people beyond my vision of falsified self-importance.

A wave of relief washed over me when I received the opportunity to help someone today–it was like a spell being broken.  Oh yeah, I thought, this is what it’s all about.

There’s that cliché saying, “It doesn’t matter what’s on the outside, it’s the inside that counts.” And that’s true…in terms of appearance, but not in the cognitive sense.  Sometimes I need the outside to fix the inside, so I can spend the day standing up to help others, not sitting down and thinking about myself.

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Living Sober = Loving Sugar

NOM NOM NOM

NOM NOM NOM

When in doubt, I scroll up in my sobriety archives.  If I’m denying how far I’ve come entries from the first 90 days reassure me of my progress.  Here’s an entry from March 8; I had just over one month.

March 8, 2013

“i cannot stop eating. I’ve been having chocolate pudding for breakfast, I  wake up and the first thing on my mind is, cookies. sweets, candy. my mom hid the chocolate bars from me; i am actually being rationed. my mom has said, just have one piece of chocolate, and i have said, that means nothing to me. instead of thinking rationally about the situation, oh i need to eat healthy, i think, i just need to starve myself a little. healthy thoughts, by….”

…by Faith Anonymous…well, Faith Anonymous 7 months ago, anyway.  Reading entries such as this one give me hard evidence that I sometimes need to carry on for morale’s sake.  I can read the ways in which I’ve grown. Don’t get me wrong–I still love any and all forms of sugar, but today there are healthy solutions as opposed to self imposed starvation.

Healthier options have derived from a healthier mind.  Now I workout,   and then chow down on a candy bar.  Sometimes I have to ardently force myself to drive past that Crumbs Bakery place, aka my heaven and nightmare on earth, but that’s because I’m still learning moderation, and sometimes I walk out of there with three trays of cupcakes.

So I have a sweet tooth on steroids; at least the sugar I consume for sober sanity isn’t nose candy for my addiction.  See?  Healthier Options.

Day 256

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35 Ways You Know You’re in Early Sobriety

1.  You have best friends but you don’t know their last name, and you know their sobriety date; not their birthday.

2. When you refer to the Big Book, you’re not talking about the bible.

3. What’s moderation?

4. You can relate to meth heads and heroin addicts more than you can your own mom.

5. Spending $20 on candy for yourself on a Friday night is completely justifiable because, “you’re not consuming all those calories you would if you were still drinking.”

6. You find yourself standing around in a lot of parking lots.

7. Over half your friends live with their parents.

8. You just found out that you’re selfish.

9. Being spiritually fit is more important than being physically fit.

10. Beer commercials have ruined football, forever.

11. You can’t help but grin manically at people suffering from a hangover.

12. Holidays are the leading cause of isolation.

13. You feel like you’re growing up, and down, at the same time.

14.  You have to be reminded to sleep and eat and ask when you need help.

15. Almost everything is your sponsor’s fault.

16. You probably already hate your first sponsor.

17. You’re still a little embarrassed to admit that you pray.

18. There are probably a dozen other addicts and alcoholics in your family.

19. When you tell people you’re going to a meeting and it has nothing to do with work.

20. You’re sick of phrases like, Let go and Let God.

21. When going to a meeting is more important than saving yourself from the apocalypse.

22. You are strongly suggested to stay away from the opposite sex, so naturally you are extra tempted to gravitate toward the opposite sex.

23. Seeing someone from the program around town makes you feel like you guys should have a secret handshake.

24. There is never a time you don’t smell like coffee grounds or cigarettes.

25. You are becoming increasingly okay with going to bed at 9:30.

26.  You have some sober friends who don’t understand, and say things like, “it’s all about will power,” referring to your addictions and alcoholism.

27. Everyone is out to get you.

28. If a door is closed, the people on the other side are definitely talking about you.

29. Salt looks like cocaine.  Ice water looks like vodka on the rocks.

30. V8 will never not smell like a bloody mary.

31. You often feel like you’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness.

32. When a friend switches home groups, it’s like he or she has died.

33. Your conversations consist of everything from crack cocaine and death to rainbows and butterflies.

34. If you go through the day without making a gratitude list you feel like you’re on the brink of relapse.

35. You can probably relate to everything on this list.

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Time Takes Time

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Day 254

If I were to relapse, I think it’d be from pure nostalgia; a feeling that blindsides me from time to time.  It fills my head with happy recollections of the past that make me painfully resentful of the present.

I can’t justify banishing these bittersweet memories.  I lose myself musing in the life I’ll never recapture…. even though I know that the memories I relish in jeopardize my sobriety.

I rationalize indulging in nostalgia because it doesn’t make me behave irrationally the way other emotions do–like say, anger.

When I’m enraged in sobriety I have many outlets and opportunities to express my frustrations.  Typically I blame pedestrians who have the right of way by laying on the horn and yelling “cocksuckers,” at them, while waving my middle finger out the window.  Such maniac behavior is unreasonable, irrational, and generally pretty embarrassing.

But nostalgia doesn’t make me react on the outside; it breaks my insides.

A song came on a Pandora station today and transported me straight back to the pot farm, to the point that I could almost feel the weight of a condensation covered PBR, and smell stickiness from a harvest.

The Avett Brother’s ballad took me through 3 minutes of self-inflicted torture; I could have turned the song off the second it came on, but the emotional levy broke and I did nothing for it to be blocked.

It was like a slide projector of moments in time.  I saw the bonfires in the middle of our illegal Redwood’s playground, I saw the green Jeep Wrangler with no doors, me learning how to drive stick shift with a beer in the cup holder and a huge smile on my face.

I saw the orange sunset over the mountains and felt the feeling of freedom.  I felt bumpy trips down the rocky mountain in the grey pickup, and never worrying about the mud smeared on our legs or our boots covered resin.  I could smell the pour of gasoline into a generator and the sound of it coming to life.  I saw my friends and me sitting on the tailgates of trucks, nowhere in particular, just to drink because no one was telling us not to and no one ever would.

The track switched and I was jolted back to reality, as I always am when nostalgia strikes and ends.  I force myself to remember the shell of a human being I became, that a relationship I kept holding onto almost robbed me of all dignity, and remind my heart and mind that the fire red sunsets turned into grey coked out mornings; that the Wrangler was destroyed, and real laughs died out well before the end.

Still, sometimes I try to convince myself that the old life is obtainable some 3,000 miles away on a mountain full of freedom. Maybe it was for that time.  These notions are what could take me out.  I’ve heard that “time takes time,” and illustrations of the past do eventually fade; I’m just not entirely sure I want them to.

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