Tag Archives: Alcoholics Anonymous

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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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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Disease-Doubt (Bear with me)

Day 276

There are two types of insecurities that run me around: self-doubt, and disease-doubt.  What’s disease-doubt?  I just made it up.  It’s the feeling I get when someone questions my alcoholism.

Self-doubt is what makes me feel inept, and fuels the “why even try” attitude; it’s in the same category as low self-esteem.  Fortunately, AA has been teaching me how to counteract insecurities by becoming a better person and finding out what the hokey pokey is all about.

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Disease-doubt stems from a very specific source: an old friend.  Every once in a while, a former partner in crime will waltz back into my life and say/ask in response to my sobriety:

“But you’re not an alcoholic?”

In the beginning, I had the same reasoning as said friends; I was a happy drunk, and for the most part, a party animal.  What they didn’t know was that I hated myself, and what I didn’t know was why I hated myself.

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I want to be sober, but when my decision is disputed by someone I care about, I doubt my disease. (Disease-doubt!)  It makes me feel foolish for being in AA, and throws my program for a loop.

In the right wrong state of mind, (that sounds weird) it’s easy to say:

“I wasn’t a daily drinker!”

(Never mind that I had to ask a friend every morning whether or not I had to be embarrassed of the night before.)

And then I’ll compare my coke habits to George Jung.

“I almost never did coke by myself!”

(Never mind that I’d go home with strangers, meet drug dealers in trailer parks, wait in parking lots for hours on end, and spend money I did not have.)

When I start making stupidly irrational justifications, I go to this quote for clarity:

“Alcoholism is 90% thinking, 10% drinking.”

No matter how bad, or not bad my substance abuse was there’s no refuting the fact that I can walk into an AA meeting, anywhere, and people in the room will understand, 100% of the time; we all speak the same language.

Speaking of language, they might even understand my new awesomely self-explanatory phrase “disease-doubt.”

(I googled group understanding and this is what came up…looks like AA to me.)

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Rainbows and Batman Take Halloween By Storm

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Day 274: 9 MONTHS TODAY!

To lessen the pain of my first sober Halloween in over a decade, I impressed myself by coordinating and purchasing tickets for an event called “The Blaze.”

I proposed the idea to fellow sober-rovers, and some asked if it was a weed convention; why else would “blaze,” in the title? I told them no, it was a pumpkin extravaganza, with over 5,000 hand-carved jack-o-lanterns.  Despite not knowing any details about the thing, several of us RSVP’d and began planning our Halloween costumes.

My getup consisted of rainbow suspenders, combat boots, a white tutu, and an electric blue wig over two and a half feet long.  In case there was any confusion about what I was supposed to be (a rainbow) I bought 3 boxes of Skittles and shook them vigorously.

Batman aka my partner in crime arrived at my house in a Patagonia jacket and jeans; not exactly the Batman costume I was hoping for.  He said his Bat-suit had turned into more of a sweat suit, but assured me he would change at the event. I would’ve protested longer but there were 150 pieces of candy in the Bat mobile.

Thirty chocolate bars and 45 minutes later we arrived, parked, and within seconds realized we were the only adults dressed up—actually I was the only adult dressed up, because my friend Batman was still a version of “Bruce Wayne” from the suburbs.  He opened the trunk and looked at his bat-armor reluctantly.

“You have to wear it,” I said, as a family not sporting any Halloween-wear walked by.

We struck a deal that made me feel better.  He wore just the Batman head and black rubber gloves with his regular attire, and held a light-sabor that made noise like a broken barcode scanner.  While walking with the rest of the foot traffic, laughing at the sheer ridiculousness, I had a perplexing moment of clarity; I didn’t care what anyone else was thinking…which was good, because of what happened next.

Half-assed Batman and I got in line behind an array of teenagers waiting to enter The Blaze. As the laws of waiting in lines go, we idly moved forward even though no one had advanced.  Our friends hadn’t showed up, but we were anxious to get going since it had started raining. People in line kept glancing at us, probably because we looked like challenged adult-children, who got lost trick-or-treating. Also I figured my wig was probably pretty straggly at that point.

Finally folks started moving, but not forward…everyone was dispersing; suddenly Batman and I were standing on a cleared patch of grass, facing a plastic orange fence between the event and the woods.

We hadn’t been waiting in a line at all, just standing awkwardly close to a group of strangers who were all friends.  No wonder they were looking at us! I bet they went through a round of, “Do you know that guy with the batman head and toy light-sabor? No? Why is that girl shaking a box of Skittles?”

Once the situation dawned on us, we doubled over in laughter. Batboy had to rip off his mask and I just about passed out from laughing so hard; I’m almost certain that any and all bystanders perceived us as wasted or on drugs.

The rest of the night was equally as comical and disastrous.  By the time we met up with our friend (dressed as an astronaut), found the real line, and entered the much anticipated Blaze, half the jack-o-lanterns had been snuffed from the rainstorm and the path was jam packed to a standstill with normal folks who had enough foresight to bring umbrellas.

After a unanimous “let’s come back next year” we retreated in high spirits.

The best part about last night was that our plans totally failed, but Halloween was still a complete success.  Blow and whiskey were my short cuts to feel self-assured, and converse “normally” without my thoughts interjecting doubts every two seconds; last night I stuck out like a sore thumb with complete confidence, and had a blast.

For the first time since God knows when, my mind wasn’t littered with unfounded suspicions about what “everyone” was thinking. I don’t have to point figures in unnecessary self defense.  Who knew wearing a tutu could be so freeing.

This morning I woke up with a raging hangover. Sugar hangover that is.  I’m going to revisit step one and add candy to my list of powerlessness…and The Blaze will go on my list for next year.

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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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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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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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You’re sick? Here, Prison Should Help

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My friend’s little brother is struggling with opiate addiction. Actually, he’s not little anymore; he’s 22 years old and has a good 5” on me.  Regardless, I’ve known him since he’s had chubby cheeks and temper tantrums; therefore I reserve the right to forever see him as a little brother.

The last time I saw “little brother,” was about a month ago; he was strung out and had the glazed over hollowness in his eyes that we all know.  My heart hurt for my friend and her family and for little brother’s future or lack there of.  I think the most frustrating part about being in this program is “getting it,” and seeing someone else missing “it.”

After seeing him that day I went home and expressed my troubled thoughts and feelings of helplessness to someone who was familiar with the situation.

“What happened?”  My confidant asked with concernment, referring to little brother’s reality, “he was such a good kid.”

He was such a good kid.  This notion makes me want to scream and yell and throw big books around, because the professed solicitude is misplaced.  The tragedy is not that he was such a good kid, it’s that he IS such a good kid, but the need for drugs has taken over his want to live.  I feel like when many people witness the disease taking over, they preemptively decide it’s the end.

There seems to be an understanding among those who don’t understand that once a fuck-up, always a fuck up, and you chose to be a fuck up.  You got an addiction, you fucked up.  What these people don’t see is that the “fuck up” is still a good person; the “good kid” is still inside, and what the kid needs is help, not judgment from society with an arms up, “see ya.”

When I voiced my despair over little brother, it didn’t matter to my confidant that he has a kind smile and a genuine laugh with a big heart.  To someone who doesn’t understand, those characteristics are engulfed by shameful addiction that probably could have been controlled if they had tried a little harder.

I read the St. Francis prayer every morning when I get out of bed to counteract whatever selfish thoughts are already brewing. The portion of the prayer that asks  “I may not so much seek to be understood as to understand,” rings relevant in this situation, but despite St. Francis, I’m am still wanting to be understood as a representative of the fucked up population.  What I’ve written here is a result of over-sensitivity, justified anger, and a self-centered demand for the world to rethink their stigma against addicts and alcoholics. All the same, I believe these wishes are warranted.

Of the 2.3 million inmates in the US, more than half have a history of substance abuse and addiction, and a large percentage of those million landed themselves in prison because of desperate busted attempts to feed their habit.  The punishment of people already being punished by a disease is fueled by convictions that drug users and alcohol abusers are good people gone bad; they are undeniably lost causes.

It doesn’t take addiction for a human to lose his or her way; everyone gets lost sometimes.  But those who don’t lose themselves in a bottle or baggie have a better chance of betterment, and why shouldn’t we all?  Help is available but not behind bars. Little brother IS a good kid and not was. Anyone’s genuine smile can be restored, but not if people decide for the sick that it’s already the end.

Day 247

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Woe is me

I’ve been lamenting the loss of my old life all day, and I don’t wear mourning well.  I’m sure my appearance was almost as bad as my mental state this afternoon; bloodshot eyes from no sleep, sweaty and frumpy from a panic attack at work, and either on the brink of tears or seconds away from murder.

All the ways in which life is no fair have been accumulating in my head and I was fully prepared to embellish the crap out of them right here.  The thought of never again having a Thanksgiving dedicated to beer and football sent me even further into a “woe is I” orbit.

The pity party came to an abrupt end sometime about 5 minutes ago.  Writing has this crazy way of giving me clarity, and the clarity still sucks, but it brings me back down (or up?) to ground zero.

Rationale has informed me that it’s not that I can never drink…it’s that I can never drink safely.  I’ve heard of alcoholics harnessing their obsessions to drink like a normal person at least for a little while, but there’s no white knuckling it forever; ultimately the result is some variation of a painful, destructive, long or short shitty life.

When the present isn’t all peaches and cream, glorifying to the past is a knee-jerk reaction.  It was so much better then!  When I had wine!  And football!  And that little Italian restaurant!!

The reality is that the last time I had dinner at that Italian restaurant it wasn’t the food or company I was happy about; it was the bag of blow in my pocket I wasn’t going to share.  While everyone waited for the check to come I was in the bathroom taking key bumps.  This was in January, when I had a one-way ticket to Central America.  It’s a good thing I didn’t follow through with that plan…I hear the cocaine there is terrible.  Yikes.

There was nothing glorioius about Thanksgiving last year. I was still on the pot farm, and made plans to drive five hours south to spend the holiday with close friends who felt like family.  I would have made it, too, if the night before I hadn’t been guzzling three bottles of wine with a married-ish total-mistake-man.  Thanks to my impeccable decision-making, I spent the day puking in a house on the mountain with no electricity, no furniture, and nobody; there was no football and no beer.

At the first pot farm I lived on in 2010, for Thanksgiving my “co-worker’s,” and I spent $500 on food which I didn’t even end up eating because we started blowing lines too early.  Poor time management.

Two years later, as I puked my brains out by myself in an empty cabin one pot farm over, I reflected on that first Thanksgiving, (again, looking to the past), and thought how awesome that year had been.  It never struck me that things were getting progressively worse, or that that first year wasn’t as joyous as I had it written in my memory.  I have no idea what I just wrote.

Like I said, I don’t wear mourning well.

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