Tag Archives: hope

Power of Example to the nth Degree

Three weeks ago my brother was diagnosed with cancer. This is what he’s got to say about it: 

“Dear friends! For your consideration, I present to you some shitty news.

Bored with the high-octane lifestyle of the Rockies, I came home and got the cancer. And boy did I get it good! Stage IV, present and hiding in various lymphnodes and organs for years. All very doom and gloom, if you’re into that sort of thing. 

Fortunately, dear reader, this author has never had use for statistics or odds, for doom nor gloom nor nefarious stowaways. I’m also about as stubborn as a tree stump (I ain’t leaving till I see some flying cars), and aside from it being a real pain in my side, I feel great. My thoughts are remarkably lucid and I’m always inspired by a good challenge. 

This will indeed be a long and crappy road. However, I am surrounded by good friends and a strong family. I’m a sturdy dude and I’m not afraid. I can motor through this. And if it kills me, screw it. I love dark comedy.

DO please send me your knowledge. I’ve never embarked upon an adventure of this kind. I would like a crash course from those who know. I’m making a real go at raw/vegan (i’m starving) and learning about some interesting alternate treatments (gonna pass on the coffee enemas). 

DO NOT lambaste this page with sappy emotional quotes under pictures of sunsets and birds. I will perish to spite you.

Telluride, I am real sorry to not be coming back this summer. I’ll be on my feet soon enough and have every intention of seeing you again. Until then, please kill my fridge with fire.

Thanks to everyone who has already changed their lives to accommodate mine. I am already eternally grateful.”

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Accept, Change, Carry On

“If nothing changes then nothing changes.”

What an obnoxiously on-point and impactful quote.  The first time I heard this my reaction was, “thank you Captain Obvious.”  Then I paused.  Change is everything. Ugh, I still want to say “duh.”  After giving time time in this program I have learned that my mind, body, and soul need complete reconstruction, and that’s putting it lightly.

My mind is a tear-down. Every notion I had about myself needs to do a 180.  Where I used to say I’m stupid, I have to say I’m smart.  Where I say I’m ugly, I have to say I love myself.  When I say I want a boob job, I have to tell my insecure thoughts to take a hike, because I’m beautiful the way God made me.

When life used to bitch slap the bejeesus out of me (still does) and the only solution I could find was at the bottom of a bottle, now I must pick up the phone, pray, ask for something greater than me to remove the obsession, and write a gratitude list because being ungrateful is old behavior. When I used to feel discomfort in my own skin so extreme that I had nowhere to go except mental and physical isolation, I must now bare-knuckle the unease until it passes.

The way I view people must change.  Passing judgment was a way of life and it took many forms; belittling someone in my head, talking shit on a person who has done nothing to provoke my personal space.  I know now that when I am judging someone else I am judging myself. When I judge others I am envious and I must derogate the person who has more than me; whether it be money, happiness, or security.  Jealousy was too hard to admit.  It was better to make myself feel bigger so my ego wasn’t in jeopardy.  The ego had to go, too.

They say the same alcoholic will drink again and sometimes I feel like the same person who walked through the doors 227 days ago. I’ll ask myself what the hell I’ve been doing this for and why the fuck I’m still here. Then I look back at my journal entries (which I wrote in TextEdit because I had no Word Document, so ignore the typos), and the steps I’ve taken cannot be gainsaid.

On March 9, 2013 when I had just a little over 30 days I wrote about my share from that morning:

  i spoke and said I was glad that he said that because the topic was “elation.” i said that when i feel elated i hold on to it for dear life.  holy shit, i’m happy and it’s not from drinking, and that is what i want.  i said i see triggers everywhere. i can’t listen to the radio anymore, it’s a trigger. commercials, songs, all triggers. north korea is a trigger. and not because i think they’re actually going to nuke us, just because i can’t stand it when someone doesn’t like me.  but here i am completely unlikeable. i’m such a bratty walking pity party.  i said i was walking around last night, seeing the train go back and fourth to NYC. i was thinking about how awesomely ironic it would be if i were to be hit and killed by a drunk driver.  not normal thoughts.  i said i can pretty much look at a pile of dirt right now and see a line that needs to be chopped up. i said i know it’s only been 30- something days but i feel like i’m regressing. i said all i feel is anger.  when i see someone celebrating i don’t think, oh i want to celebrate with you, i think, i hate you.  and i want to be drinking.  i said i have nothing to drown my depression and i have nothing to mask my insecurities and the whole world is trying to get me to drink. except for AA. i said i remembered one guy in a darien meeting who said, i just want to get over myself. i said that is exactly how i feel. it resonated at the time but i didn’t understand it till now. the world is not all about me.  it really is not.”

This was my most recent entry, on August 31, 2013:

“Sometimes I question my alcoholic legitimacy.  If I am an alcoholic, then why haven’t I relapsed yet?  Then I think, why would I ever leave this? Sobriety is the best thing that’s ever been mine.  It’s been the most important decision of my life.”

Amen, past self.

Ignoring reality was easy before I knew I was an alcoholic because I had one phrase conveniently engrained whenever I needed it: “deny, deny, deny.”  That has changed. (There’s that word again).  Now my mantra is: accept, change, carry on. 

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Leap(s) of Faith

 

leap of faith

Day 224

“The opposite of fear is faith.”  

For me, hearing this for the first time felt like gaining access to a blueprint I had been missing my whole life.  Fear was the source of so much of my pain; fear of failing, fear of feeling feelings, fear of rejection, fear of finding out what I had feared all along, fear of people, fear of situations, fear of lack of connections.  Drinking subdued all those trepidations because the thoughts were drowned by liquor and blocked by the release of inauthentic serotonin.  Shit, whiskey was the most loyal friend I had.

Faith was just a word and a meaningless one at that.  If you had asked me 7 1/2 months ago to provide my version of a definition I probably would have recited parts of the LimpBizkit song.

Today faith is something I truly feel, (hand over heart), it’s how I know I’m on the right path and it’s what fills a room of strangers with hope.

Some days it is harder to find than others, and I know I can’t do it alone.  That’s why my fellows are my lifeline.  A woman spoke a few weeks ago on taking leaps of faith, we took a leap the moment we walked through the doors, because we didn’t know where we would land; we just hoped it would be better than where we had been.  In sharing her experience she said:

“The only thing I could admit was that my life was unmanageable.  The first step I got, the rest was impossible.  But my sponsor said she had faith for me.  She got me through when I didn’t know if I could.”

On days I want to pickup and breakdown, I remember this: that even if I don’t think I can make it, someone else knows I can.

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The Party Must Go On

Day 223

I wasn’t a daily drinker or drug user.  Don’t get me wrong, there were binges.  The intensity of a binge was dependent upon what my time-frame and where my mind-frame was.

There were the standard rights-of-passage binges that all upper-middle class white girls get to stumble through; spring break, Christmas break, made-up breaks, any and all holidays, the entirety of summer, etc etc etc.  These passages, of course, being high school into college.

I guess if marijuana is considered a drug then I was a daily abuser from 16-20 years old.  When I started skipping class it honestly was a relief from myself.  This is who I am, see?!  Failing tests and taking bong rips on the way to school was my security blanket for those tormented teen years.

When my group of friends and I made the transition from middle school to high school most of them started hanging out with the older kids; since I simply didn’t have the confidence, I fell behind.  The pot heads picked me up.

Sitting in the back of class stoned out of my gourde, being told that I was fucking up (not in those words) was exactly what I wanted.  Finally my insides could match my outside, as though I was saying, “I’m a mess, dammit, and I’m going to show it.”  The good news was that my bad behavior on the outside was laughable.  Haha, silly me, my GPA is 0.4.  Seriously, that was my GPA at one point, and I laughed all the way to graduation.  Then again, a lot was laughable in those days.

My girlfriends and I would cram six or more of us in a car, roll two blunts, then drive around town with all the windows up, to get as high as possible and see who pussied out first by gasping for air.  How could I take anything seriously with such a ridiculous regimen?

Life went on like that for a while.  Party party party.  Invincible.  The pothead crew and the old crew had combined and it was beautiful display of debauchery; wake up late, go to bed late, bomb around shit-faced from house to house and wonder the next morning how we got home.

At a certain point I started to notice my friends growing up.  They put thoughts and efforts into internships, and into their futures.  As a 26-year old I am just now coming to believe that I might “go” somewhere,  but back then I hated myself to death and the hope for betterment was extinguished by an extreme lack of faith.

I can see now that my mentality was simple.  My mind-frame was: If I wasn’t going to amount to anything, (this was a fact), then there was but one option:  the party must go on.

So it did.

Ultimately, the parties stopped working. The periods between binges got shorter, everything in life became unbearably unmanageable. My blackouts were getting darker, my mistakes were getting bigger, and the thirst for cocaine was something I absolutely could not quench.

For the first time, I truly felt that life was spinning out of control.  Eventually, inevitably, it brought me to my knees.

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Me? An Alcoholic?

Who Me?

Day 222:

People of the rooms often say “you’re lucky to have found the rooms at such a young age.” Looking back, I wonder, what took me so long?

What took me so long was a skewed definition of what an addict/alcoholic looked like.  In my eyes alcoholics were besotted bums on the street, they were old men and women who’d lost everything.  They were the pathetic boozehounds who drunkenly pleaded for no one to leave the party as they  sloppily held onto a door frame.  (Okay, okay, I’ve been that person).  They were holed up somewhere, bogged down elsewhere, nursing a warm 40oz concealed in a brown paper bag.  Me?  An alcoholic?  Not possible, right?

Wrong.  It’s hard not to cringe at those past notions.  Alcoholism does not discriminate and certainly doesn’t care that I was born in a town wrapped in money and safety nets…can you believe it?

My image of what constituted an alcoholic in comparison to myself didn’t match up, because my belief was surface level.  Mass media’s portrayal of alcoholics was my go-to.  “I’m not an alcoholic because…”  Unfortunately and fortunately I was sold on the whole alcoholic thing on the first meeting. (Hated referring to myself as such for several weeks).

It was a cold night in February (as most east coast nights in February are), and the air smelled like winter.  Early that morning was my full surrender, a complete defeat, and self-hatred so intense I could feel it in my bones.  A series of coincidental, or destined events, (still not sure), took place and directed me to a church several towns over.  Pages could be written on that first meeting – how the room was circular, inviting, and had those festive, fake, but warming, luminescent candles in the windows.  Fear wanted me to bolt but I think faith kept me seated; something told me I was supposed to be there.  Not sure what I was expecting to hear, but it wasn’t what I heard.  What I heard were my thoughts.

Expecting a drunk-o-log, where alcoholics forlornly attempted to reconstruct their ruined lives, I was taken aback.  My most inner thoughts were being expressed through the mouth of a stranger.  The man talking said he was the party person, he was gregarious, affable, and had good friends, but in a room full of people he could feel completely alone. That’s where alcohol came in, an alcoholic’s panacea for all connection problems.  He spoke of the self hate that I’ve felt my whole life and right then I knew it was my thinking, not my drinking, that defined alcoholism.

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