Monthly Archives: November 2013

HP’s Don’t “Do” Punishment

Recieved this email today and thought I’d share.  The wonderful thing about spirituality, for me, is that he/she/it doesn’t have to be defined, (which is why I disfavor organized religion).  I can try to describe how my Higher Power lives in and around me, but in my opinioin it does’t matter.  I think the message is the same, and my understanding is something along these lines:

Today’s thought from Hazelden is:

How can I believe in God when just last week I got my tongue caught in the roller of an electric typewriter?
–Woody Allen

If our introduction to religion and God was filled with threats of punishment and hell it would make perfect sense for us not to want to believe in something so scary. Even though we may have been taught that God is love, we may not have witnessed a lot of God’s love in action.

All we are asked to do in recovery is to believe in a Higher Power. That could mean God, or it could simply mean the sober people who are helping us to recover. Our Higher Power is there, watching over us, ready to be seen in any way we are willing and able to see.

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Practice Makes Progress

Step 7 : Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings

After reading the literature and coming up with my own interpretation of Step 7 I felt ready to move forward.  I met with my sponsor, we debriefed with big Bill W., I closed the book and said conclusively, “Onto Step 8!”

“Nope.”  She said, shaking her head sorta assuredly. “Now you practice.”

Practice isn’t a word I respond to well, because it implies effort.  To be honest, I gave up practicing when I quit lacrosse sophomore year of high school to become a pot head.  My attitude is under construction, but residual quitter-traces remain.  Old habits die hard.

So, I knew what my sponsor meant, but didn’t know how to implement Step 7 consciously…probably because I have an aversion to the “P” word. (Practice).

Fortunately, my mind is under steady reconstruction, and I’m constantly making headway on the person I want to be, even subconsciously.  New synapses are being formed with each decision I make and emotion I feel; by feeling the feelings I have awareness and the capability to make the right decision.  What I realized today, is that when I make the right choice (as opposed to acting on old behavior), I’m practicing Step 7.

Yesterday I blogged about the trials and tribulations of change, in lieu of an internal battle of good vs greedy.  The debate was simple; don’t help the people I care or DO help the people I care about.  My greed started making justifications for me, convincing myself that my un-involvement would not affect anyone…When in fact I knew that by staying home to satisfy my laziness was wrong.

So I had a choice; act the old way, or act the new way.   Unbeknownst to me, Step 7 helped me make the right decision.  It’s been helping me all along!

Last night before I went to bed, I came across this reading on Steps 6 and 7, by Joe McQ in The Steps We Took:

“You know, here’s what a shortcoming is:  when you’re long on resentments, then you’re necessarily short on love, patience, and tolerance….Just what is love?  Love is basically concern for another person’s welfare or for your own welfare.”

Joe McQ’s quote struck me because of the likeness to my post yesterday: 

“Today my catch phrase was “spiritual vacuum.”   The vacuum refers to how we remove our defects.  As I understand it, we can’t simply remove what we don’t like, and *poof* be gone.  We have to replace the hole with love.  Sounds soo corny.  I don’t care.” 

So that’s what my sponsor meant by practice….It’s not that I have to stop, drop, and document where my flaws are taking command. In this case, a simple awareness of how my actions affect others did just fine.  I’m practicing without beating myself up and my coach is pretty forgiving.

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Spiritual Vacuum

I’ve learned a boat load since arriving in Argentina; new words, new foods (blood sausage is disgusting), school systems and kids’ education, settlements in the 1500’s, religion, the President, and all about inflation.  I have also obtained a new “system” to work on myself every single day.  Sounds exhausting, but it’s actually easier than the alternative.

New behavior (actively trying to be a better person) creates dissidence in my mind.  It would be effortless to behave however I wanted, i.e. being selfish, impatient, introverted.  I used to make decisions based upon what would make MY life easier. Now, I am trying to change. Change is hard.

Sometimes I try to focus on everything all at once that I want to fix about myself; respect others, respect yourself, don’t be selfish, be humble, reach out to another alcoholic, lend a hand when needed, connect with your HP, breathe deep, have faith, don’t act out of anger, pray for those you hold resentments against…I could go on forever. That’s why it’s important for me to read different excerpts daily, and focus on just one.

Every morning I chose a quote, phrase, word, etc., to call on throughout the day.  If I read an entire chapter of the big book before breakfast I retain nothing; a result of trying to process too much advice too fast.   Short simple antidotes are uncomplicated, and accessible.

Today my catch phrase was “spiritual vacuum.”   The vacuum refers to how we remove our defects.  As I understand it, we can’t simply remove what we don’t like, and *poof* be gone.  We have to replace the hole with love.  Sounds soo corny.  I don’t care.

This afternoon I had big plans to sit by the pool and read a book, in the sanctuary of the backyard.  It turned out, there was an itinerary I didn’t know about; I was to go to the site of the wedding where my best friend is getting married next week, and help plan where the tables, flowers, and chairs will go.  We had to make decisions on how many candles we envisioned, and what petals would be in the pathways. I didn’t want to go.  Why?  Because I was being selfish.

It’s not my favorite thing to admit that, but it’s true.  I had to access the quote of the day to remind myself why I am here, and why I had to be there.  I had to remove the negative narcissist and replace the absence with my HP. Simply saying in my head “think spiritual vacuum,” I was able to reset with complete clarity.  I love this friend with all my heart!  She’s been my best for 19 years, she’s about to marry the man of her dreams, on a beautiful farm in Argentina, under a tree over 150 years old, and I’ve been asked to help make the special day even more special.  DUH.

I’m so grateful that I didn’t trudge through the day absorbed in my self-centered sphere.  After remembering how to be  the person I want to be, my attitude was reformed.  I wanted to (and want to) help in any way possible – directions, flowers, plot plans, candle lighting, whatever!

It’s going to be beautiful.  🙂

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Aaaand She’s Back.

 

After writing my “mayday” post last night I felt better.  When I can’t verbalize what I’m feeling, my actions express my emotions.  My actions last night were jarring and tense, and needless to say, left me with a pounding headache.

 

I reached out to people in the program.  What a concept!  Today is a new day. 

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Huston, We Have a Problemo.

So I’m in Argentina for my best friend’s wedding. I’ve known this girl for 19 years, and have been just as close with her family as with her; they are family, and they know how hard it’s been to get where I am.

Everything about getting here was a disaster. It was the usual airport obsticals; running late, missing mandatory papers for international travel, mistaking my seat number as my gate number, you all know the drill. The best part about the disasters was that I laughed them off! Pre-sobriety, I would have been reduced to a fit of tragic fury. This time, I marched forward with a confident “no problemo,” attitude.
A fellow alcoholic drove me to the airport and it was the best possible departure for my sobriety. We covered everything from downfalls to revival, inspiration, and Winston Churchill. When I got dropped off at the gate I was elated! Filled with love, and pure happiness radiating. You know that feeling? The one that no material possession can duplicate? That one.

The flight was hunky dory, too. I fell asleep for 9 hours, woke up, had a questionable airplane breakfast, and bam! We were landing in Buenos Aires. The air was warm, a car service with a man named Rocco was waiting at luggage claim, and with my broken Spanish and his enthusiasm we chit chatted all the way “home.” Although the driving was intense.  I couldn’t tell if Rocco was a retired race car driver, or he just didn’t care if we died.  Anyway, we got lost for an hour, and even that was a hoot. He started teaching me about Argentina, about the Provences, the President, and how much amazing steak I had to look forward to. I felt carefree and fearless for the first 24 hours.
Today things started to change. (Mom, Dad, don’t freak out.) There’s been lots of talk about the wedding, and rightfully so! That’s why I’m here! What scares me is that I’m started to feel like alcoholism is a punishment again, like I’m missing out on the fun. I’m already resentful of my disease. Why can’t I drink like a normal person…? I guess that’s the obsession of every alcoholic. It’s not that I want to be “that girl,” falling all over the dance floor; I just want to feel the weight of a filled wine glass in my hand. Is that weird? I can almost taste a cool crisp Pino.

I’ve been playing the tape in my head.  It’s no secret from my mind that a) I can’t have access to an open bar and not blackout, and b) after just two drinks, all attention would be diverted to finding blow, killing the real reason of being present and happy for my best friend. A and B are as certain as death and taxes,  yet my alcoholic Gollum inside wants to cover-up the facts.

Parts of my attitude areregressing and my defects are gaining steam, but slow enough for me to catch them.    I’m feeling more insecure and a little less humble.  However, just by saying these thoughts “outloud,” make me feel better.  A good friend of mine said at a meeting last week, “it’s not that I’m going to pick up, but that I’m even thinking about it, just for 30 seconds, scares me.”  That’s where I’m at.  I don’t feel anywhere near to a drink, but the thought of these thoughts  are still scary. Thanks for listening yo.

 

** Don’t mind the typos.  This computer speaks Spanish.

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For the love of…..

My writing attempts this week have been less successful than the rollout of ObamaCare.

I’ve tried sitting at the keyboard, writing outside with my clipboard, writing from the heart, writing with my head…Somewhere about five words in everything goes to shit.  Kind of like today.

Started out bright and early by backing my truck into the neighbors BMW.  Good morning, mam!  Got to work job 1 where my dog puked not once, but twice, on the carpet of the owner’s house.

Got a facial for my first time yesterday, let’s just say it didn’t “work.”  I’m now a walking cry for ProActive.  Did I mention that I’m going to Argentina tomorrow for my best friend’s wedding?

In preparation for the wedding I scheduled a hair appointment at a salon advertised on GroupOn.  DO NOT ATTEMPT.  Pulling up to the salon was the first sign of danger.  The establishment was along a string of worn down convenience stores, with plenty of parking spaces.  This was not a desired destination.

Not wanting to judge a building by its cover, I walked in anyway.  After all, how bad could it be?  Pretty bad.

One old lady was sitting at a chair in a room of empty stations.  Very hesitantly I said, ”I think I have a 1:00 appointment?”

Even though I wanted her to say “nope,” she said, “yup.”  And before I knew it I was sitting down with foils in my hair for highlights and a bucket of bleach next to crazy lady and me.  For the first ten minutes a man stood above me yelling in Greek at the lady mutilating my hair.  Finally she said in English, “I want no trouble.”  I’m not kidding; I thought this dude was about to pull out a gun.  I had already thought about dying in a salon with old crazy scissor hands.

Fortunately, the man left.  She finished my hair.  I cried, a lot.  This woman put streaks like a skunk on my head, seriously, the stripes were almost white.  The foil job she did was crap, too, so the solution ran and dripped throughout my hair leaving spots like a cheetah’s.

I got out of there before she could comb or blow-dry or kill me, and ran into my house when I got home to assess the damage by brushing through the disgustingness.  As I brushed, to my horror, I realized that my hair was coming out.  MY HAIR WAS FALLING OUT.  This woman over-processed my hair and used bleach to such extremes that my fucking hair started to fall out, aka breaking everywhere.

Did I mention I’m flying to Argentina tomorrow?

In a slight hysteria I got back into my truck, made sure I wouldn’t hit anyone (again) and drove one million miles per hour to the most expensive hair salon nearby.  I have to admit, it was worth every penny.  They told me not to cry, which didn’t really help because I was already pondering what color and style wig to buy.  Instead, the women and a man went to work using toner, and this and that, and yadda, and I look okay.  It actually came out pretty well.  My hair had to be dyed almost brown to cover the zebra/cheetah thing I had going on, and I lost half a head of hair, but I have a lot, so that’s okay.

At least I’m sober.  Sigh.

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I’m Probably Jealous of Your Blog

I WILL DESTROY YOU TO MAKE MYSELF FEEL BETTER RAAAAR

I WILL DESTROY YOU TO MAKE MYSELF FEEL BETTER RAAAAR

Day 282

My defects of character are always one step ahead.  By the time I catch up to a situation at hand, the alcoholic part of my brain has already decided how to spring into action, or isolate into oblivion.  Any notions that run on defects, naturally, are not the best.  A fault that hijacks my mind with the force of a Jedi night is jealousy; an emotion anyone with a steam of consciousness is familiar with.

For me, jealousy is the size of Godzilla.  Maybe that’s why they call it the green monster of envy…Anyway, pre AA; there were no tools on how to harness my raging ill will.  My gut reaction was to take the feeling and destroy it by belittling whomever I viewed as a threat.  Unfortunately a lot of the time my first thought is still the same.  Instinctively I want to judge as quickly and harshly as possible, thereby coddling my wounded ego.

Fortunately, now I know how backwards my thinking is, was, and can be. Now, something wonderful happens just before I generate a laundry list of invisible imperfections for someone…I stop.

My bat shit crazy brain comes to a halt, because I know now that the set of instructions I was following for life never worked.  Judgment made me feel shameful, more alone, and dragged me further into the darkest place of my pity partying mind.

Sure, the same feeling of jealousy still bites me in the ass when someone has what I want, whether it be looks, success, family, ambition, slippers, whatever. That’s okay though, because AA has taught me that envy is just fear, and fear is something I’m learning to recognize, face, and erase.

It comes naturally to torment myself that I’ll never have what you have, I’ll never be pretty like her, or happy like him. It’s easy to judge the shit out of you, and assume that you had a leg up that I missed, and therein lies the reason you have what I don’t.

The hard part has been learning that none of those things are true.  The hardest part has been finding the pause button, and following a new set of instructions.

Through powers of example and with the help of my HP, I’m learning to be truly happy for people, and it feels good.  When I ask for envy to be removed, it is–I might have to ask 20 times a day, but it’s becoming easier to redirect defects.

I used to dislike for the sole purpose to make myself feel better, but now I’m doing the exact opposite and finding that is where the solution has been all along.  To commend others for their success and try to help where they fall short breaks down the barrier between everyone and me.   Helping others is what’s made me more confident.

The best thing about my new set of instructions (aka the steps) is that the better I get at following them; the more I have to offer.

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Had to Write 377 Words To Come Up With Three: “Keep It Simple”

OH MY GOD THE PRESSURE TO BE BETTER

OH MY GOD THE PRESSURE TO BE BETTER

The Internet is FULL of prescriptions on how to live life.  There are one zillion articles, slogans, and suggestions, such as,“10 Ways to Make Yourself Happier,” “40 Ways to Live Your Life Without Regrets,” “30 Ways to Live Life to the Fullest,” or “11 Habits you MUST Give Up to be Happy.”  When these self-help-do-it-yourself posts pop up on Facebook or pervade my Gmail account, I read them.  Ugh.  It’s the worst.

It’s not that I don’t want to read them; that’s the problem.  I find myself thinking entirely too hard about what an unknown Internet author has written in regards to life management.

These “guides” are everywhere, and as a person who feels like she needs all the help she can get, it’s exhausting.  I somberly bookmark certain pages, or even write some tidbits down to reference later…except I never do.

Initially my intention was to finish this post with disdain for the columns, but I just realized I don’t hate them at all; they are the same principals of AA, and there’s no longer a need to swamp my consciousness with the lists because I’m practicing them everyday.

The suggestions for betterment are exactly what AA has been teaching me:

“Quit being ungrateful.” (I’ve been advised to write a gratitude list everyday, if not several times a day.)

“Quit running from your problems and fears.”  (“Keep Coming Back.”)

“Quit regretting the past.” (AA promise: We shall not regret the past nor wish to close the door on it.”)

“Quit talking down to yourself.” (AAism: “Put down the bat”)

“Quit criticizing others.” (Agreed.)

The Internet’s pointers were probably so overwhelming because I only had a vague idea of where my flaws were stemming from.  The difference now, is I’m taking it day by day.  My version of bookmarking a page is going to a meeting to be reminded.  And, there’s one AA suggestion that calms me down every time:  Keep it Simple.

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Frozen Yogurt or Something

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Day…Month 9 and change.

I’d be lying if I said I had my sh*t together right now.  My emotions in the past 48 hours have ranged from hysterical laughter, hysterical crying, extreme sadness, lethargy, mundaneness, rage, contempt, contented, fatigued, and spasmodic…and this is me on a mood stabilizer. The posts I started to write but deleted with fury were just as disorderly. This has been going on for two days.

Yesterday my attention was focused on researching the tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  I intended to relay a scholarly, articulate interpretation of my past drunk version of Hyde, and the present sober Hyde in me who is still very alive.  I thought that’d be a good time to write about how I was threatening to sue IKEA for a dresser I built incorrectly, but that was a dud, too.

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(This is how I look right now)

I confessed my writer’s block (more like writer’s spaz) to a friend.  Together we tried to generate metaphors on life and frozen yogurt.  This is what we came up with:

-Today is like a gummy bear…transparent and sticky.

-My mind is like a clogged frozen yogurt dispenser.

-My ideas are the crumbs that everyone drops because those stupid spoons are too shallow.

-My fingers are like gummy worms.

-Frozen yogurt is like a blank canvas.  The toppings mean so and so…

So far nothing has been able to reassemble my discombobulated thoughts.  I feel like the creativity portion of my brain is Humpty Dumpty; in pieces and can’t be put together again.

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(sorry to be so graphic)

I even tried to provoke my archenemy for material, but the fight didn’t progress much past, “fuck this guy,” and something about grudges in small huts.  I guess writing about disdain isn’t exactly a sober topic anyway.

The worst part about this shit-show is that the problem is obvious and the solution is one step away.  My pal “Dan” said he was a crazy person during Steps 6 & 7, and now I understand why. In Step 6 I came to terms with the defects of character I’d like to be removed, but they’re still there because I’ve been unwilling to get rid of them. After being in limbo for 3 weeks I finally willingly read Step 7. It was an extreme ah-hah-clarity moment.  Hey look I’m actually writing about something.

“Our crippling handicap had been our lack of humility.”

Humility as I understand it is: “not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”

My lack of humility explains this neurotic scatterbrain state I’m in.  My actions inside the AA room have been “A” material but outside, getting an “F.”  Road raging, threatening to sue IKEA over a dresser, buying things I don’t need, and thinking of myself are traits I’ve been working to eradicate, not enhance.

“Instead of regarding the satisfaction of our material desires as the means by which we could live and function as human beings, we had taken these satisfactions to be the final end and aim of life.”

I live in a town where material possessions prevail, and my insecurities make it real easy to forget that they don’t matter.  Standing in line at Starbucks sometimes makes me feel like I’m the only person at a fashion show wearing jeans and flip-flops.

What I’ve forgotten in between Step 6 and 7 is that my confidence and happiness aren’t going to come from acting more selfish, less grateful, and insanely insecure.  I forgot to remember that I have to work at this everyday, because one bad mood makes me behave like I’m being victimized by the world.  Self-centered fears starts running my show and I start losing it, in more ways than one.

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(victimizing as usual)

So I guess if I was to compare myself to frozen yogurt right now…kidding, totally kidding. I’ll keep coming.

The End.

The End.

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F-bombs and Freedom

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Day 276

Valentine’s Day this past year was shitty.  Literally.  My dog had explosive diarrhea first thing in the morning.  She hit every single carpet from the kitchen to the front door. Good morning, Mom!

I was 14 days sober at the time and just about everything felt like the end of the world. Cleaning up crap by myself at 6am on Valentine’s Day had me this close to throwing myself into the creek.  Instead, I threw all four carpets over the deck…all of them, until I was “more sober” to deal with dog poop.

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There was no way to drown the mental tally of being a 25 year-old, single, unemployed, alcoholic on the stupidest Hallmark holiday of the year (without relapsing) so I went to an early morning meeting I’d never been to before.

In real life, as in when I don’t have a delete button, I curse like Ozzy Osbourne.  It is very unladylike but it makes me feel better…so why the fuck not.

I unleashed f-bomb fury to the room full of strangers, and felt a little better afterwards. I read somewhere that cursing relieves pain.  Seriously!

A stunned silence was left in my wake. Then a badass old man with a classic knobby cane, and a grey beard with character to boot shared.

“I noticed that some of you all looked a little taken aback by this young lady swearin’,” he said, holding his hand up in my direction.  “But you know, shit, I love it!  ‘Fuck’ is my favorite word, right after freedom!”

There was a roar of laughter and suddenly everything was much lighter. So my dog had a rough morning.  It dawned on me that it could’ve been worse— could’ve been the white carpet, or if it weren’t for AA I’d be waking up the day after Valentine’s Day with a hangover that no swearing would fix.

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