Monthly Archives: February 2014

Aging

Aging is not easy, but what’s our alternative?
– Helen Casey

“The kind of attitude we developed over our lives determined how we saw every detail of each experience. Even now our attitude holds us hostage. The misunderstanding that many of us have is that we think we can’t really change how we see our world. Nothing is further from the truth. We can make a large or small shift in our perceptions instantly. The outcome is that everything about our lives changes from that moment forward. Thus, how we perceive the aging process is controlled by our willingness to look at it again.”

Friends = Family = Fear

Day 382

I’ve made friends who have become family in this program.  It is spine-chilling.

Tonight my lights went out around 10:00, but restlessness turned them back on at midnight.  The “universal” iPhone text notification chirped right as my bulb clicked on and a friend (who is my family) asked if I was still awake.  So, SO, glad I was able to say “yes, what’s wrong.”

She was upset to the point that I was out of bed, downstairs, about to rev my truck, and call her sponsor en route.  The phone was probably feeling heavy to hold on the other end so I stayed and listened.  Thirty-five minutes later, the trepidation subsided.  Tomorrow is a new day.

There are certain types of fear I’ve thus far identified throughout recovery (which I may have already mentioned in previous posts); self-centered fear, anger infused fear, irrational fears, projection fears, and one hundred such variations.  The fear that floods me when it comes to my friends relapsing is the most real, and the most rational.  This is a deadly disease.

I know there are “tools” to deal with these frighteningly feasible thoughts, because we “all” have them.  Most of us have seen them come to pass.   No solutions to placate my current unease come to mind, which I suppose is why I’m writing.

What is must boil down to is faith…but I gotta admit, “faith” is sounding more like a word, and less like a feeling at the moment.

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Quote of the Week:

“All addicts and alcoholics have the same blood type:   Be-Negative”

Doomed...doomed...

Doomed…doomed…

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Higher Potter

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Change the topic, OR ELSE!

(Wrote the first half of this yesterday)

February 14, 2014

Day 380

One year ago today I woke to find that my dog shit all over the house. So, at 6-ish-A.M. on Valentines Day 2013, at whatever cold-degree-Fahrenheit it was, at 14 days sober, I stood on my deck in my glow-in-the-dark Scooby Doo pajama pants and tossed anything poop infested overboard onto the lawn below.

“Exact day” landmarks make me extra introspective; it’s like flipping to a page in my mental biography where feelings still fester…fester isn’t the right word, actually.  The bookmarks aren’t open wounds, but the rawness is certainly accessible.

That morning last year I remember feeling lonely, lowly, and fat from eating about two dozen chocolate covered strawberries.  Sure, the literal shit-show didn’t help, but the real shit storm was raging in between my ears; the world was out to get me, and no one cared enough to throw on some shining armor and save the day. (Boo-hoo.) So I went to a morning meeting to “restart” my mood, and the topic was God.  I hated that topic.

Enraged, I stormed out leaving resentment in my wake, cursing the G-word and all the bible bangers involved.   At noon I went to another meeting, since the morning topic had me leaving in a worse mood than when I arrived.  The topic was God.  At the third meeting I went to in a different town, the topic was God.  All I saw at that point was red.

Tonight, one year later, same hospital, the topic was God.  In my new state of mind, however, the concept is completely different.

“I think it’s so cool how our higher powers get to be of our own.” Someone shared; and that makes sense to me now—because my understanding has changed and that’s how it’s different..  No one else needs to rely on my higher power and I don’t need to rely on anyone else’s.  Of all the suggestions I’ve gotten in AA, not ONE has been what my higher power “should be.”

People often say, “my higher power, who I chose to call God,….” and that doesn’t irk me anymore, either.  Call it whatever you want! My names vary; Mother Nature, Universe, Great Spirit, Higher Power, Grandpa (sometimes I pray to those who are deceased.)  I could call my HP Harry Potter if I wanted to, and sometimes I do just for shits ‘n giggles.

Maybe the next time I lead a meeting I’ll say that the topic is Harry Potter….that should get the newcomers coming back!

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Warming Up My MInd

A few hours this afternoon was spent moving baby frozen boulders around, aka, shoveling the driveway.  The sleet was in my face and my nose was reaching the state of tingly/burn, when a song came on Pandora and shifted my mood instantaneously.  It’s a song that I never seek out for fear of overplay, but always comes as a pleasant game-changing surprise.  In case you haven’t heard this tune here’s the version with lyrics, because every word will make you grateful. 

 

 

Here is the version with lyrics, because every word is worth hearing.  

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3…2…1….Self-destruct.

The topic last night was relapse.  The woman who spoke was pretty harsh and brutally honest:

 “This is a progressive and fatal disease…what is your story with relapse?  What are you doing to fight it?” 

 

Her lead was 100x more direct, powerful, and articulate than how I just paraphrased.    

 

We started going around the circle.  One newcomer with less than 6 months shared about the two funerals he’s already been to in a very, very short amount of time.

 

A kid younger than me shared his experience with relapse:  “I wanted to experiment one night…and wound up experimenting for 3 years.”

 

This past Monday a member of our home group died.  He was young, had a wife, and a 3-year-old son.  A member who went to the funeral gesticulated with his hands to describe the agonizing look in the wife’s eyes.  “I don’t want my family to have to bury me.”  He said.

 

The leader of the meeting told the group she had a sponsee who wanted to go out for “just one night,” and wound up killing two kids via vehicular manslaughter.   

 

I suppose this is what’s called “keeping it green,” which used to be an expression I linked to packing a bowl; now it’s what I need as a constant reminder for my sobriety.

 

Sometimes I still want to self-destruct.  Sometimes I want to see myself at the lowest point again, where I was in the basement of a stranger’s house with blood on my face and no idea how to get home.  Sometimes I even want it to get worse than that, and I have no idea why.  My thinking previous to AA was geared towards “party hard and die young.” Even after over a year, that death part still sounds appealing.

 

“I learned in rehab that the longest a craving can exist in your brain is 15 minutes, unless you continue to dwell on it.”  The leader said.  “So you pick up the phone, you go on a run, you watch TV, whatever it takes to move a muscle change a thought.”

 

I said, “I know all about those 15 minutes.” 

 

I’m sure we all do, because whether or not we work through the discomfort determines whether or not we’ll pick up. 

 

Sometimes I regret having not tried heroin, and I KNOW how moronic that sounds, but it’s the way my mind works; the self-destruct button is never far from reach.  

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Teenage Wasteland

Two days ago I sat in the corner of Starbucks for an attempted writing session.  Sometimes I wish this town had a coffee shop less like to a fast food joint; one without lines to the door and one with tables arranged further than half an arms length apart, but, I’m willing to accept what I cannot change here.

Usually I have ear buds in place to muffle the sounds of people and espresso machines, alas, I had for forgotten them far, far away three miles down the road.  So when two kids sat next to me and started talking, it was hard for my pseudo-ADD brain to avoid overhearing. 

They were both girls and pure teenager in everyway.  I don’t know how else to describe–it was like jumping into a “seventeen” magazine; only they were probably 13.   As they discussed the upcoming weekend (both talking and texting furiously at the same time) a dark cloud of “holy shit” hit me: these kids were probably drinking already…. it’s the same age as when I started.

Suddenly I saw myself with braces, wasted.  Taking bong rips.  Stealing alcohol from parents’ cabinets.  Raiding unlocked garages in town for beer.  It honestly made me sick to think about.

The face of the10-year-old girl I babysit popped into my head, and my stomach turned at the notion that in just three tiny years she could be damaging her not yet developed prefrontal cortex; just as I had, and just as these girls next to me were.  Part of me wanted to stash the kids’ backpacks with AA pamphlets, and then call their parents, but then what?  What can you tell kids as an “adult” that will make them listen?  

Also, if an addict is born an addict, and an alcoholic is born an alcoholic, then are preventative measures pointless?

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Best Thing I’ve Heard All Day:

“I would probably do 25 years to life if a cop broke into my brain and found out what I was thinking.”  -Anonymous, 7 years sober

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Train Ride with Morrie

 

I want to be a writer.  But what am I doing about it?  What have I accomplished over the past year? Am I ever going to get somewhere? This thinking is where doubt tries to prevail. 

 

On my way home from New York City a few nights ago the train was packed and I wound up sitting next to an elderly man.  I sat and we glanced at each other, as two strangers would in close proximity.   In my head, his glance was a glare.

 

“What?” I asked.

He raised his eyebrows. As if to say, “what” right back.

 “What?” I asked again.  “You’re looking at me like you don’t want me to sit here.”  (These are self-centered fears I often think and sometimes say.)

“Not at all, I was just wondering what you have in that bag from Zaros.” He said innocently.

I glanced down at the giant brown pastry bag that took up most the seat. 

“Some cupcakes. And a couple cookies.  And a loaf of bread that was on sale.  And red velvet cake.”  (What’s moderation?)

He put his hand up and made the universal sign of perfection, “I love red velvet cake.” From there the conversation took off.

 

In forty minutes this man dropped more knowledge bombs on me than all the stink bombs in the school cafeteria combined.  Apparently he was a legitimate mentor…like a Tuesdays with Morrie kind of dude.  What are the chances?! Almost an hour with my personal Mitch Albom.

 

“Let me guess,” he said halfway into the trip, “you were a troubled teen.  Parents got a divorce, you didn’t handle it well, and lost your way for a while.”

 

“Yes, actually.”  I said.  This guy was good.

 

“Strip away all of that.  When you were 16, what did you want to be?” 

 

The first thing that came to mind was “pothead.”  But that’s not who I wanted to be; that’s who I felt like I had to be.  The pothead version of myself was an adaptation for survival; fit in somewhere or die.

 

What came to mind next was the truth: a writer.  Writing has been my passion since 1st grade, from the first time I sat down at a typewriter and my imagination took off on the page.  I told mentor-man this.  Then I told him about my most recent fears:  I’m not good enough. 

 

“Well you’re not good enough.”  He said simply.

 

Um. Ouch?  I thought to myself, and waited for the follow up “just kidding.”

 

“I’m not?”

 

“Nope.”  He said.  “But if you care enough, you will be.”

 

And just like that, a light blub turned on. Just like fear and faith can’t coexist, neither can passion nor doubt.  At least that’s what I took from my train ride with Morrie, because the more doubt I let creep in the quicker passion fizzles out.  

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