Tuesday, May 31, 2011

We Can Do Anything

I must admit that I found it far more difficult than expected yesterday. On the one hand, I felt fantastic! On the other hand, it seemed like CANDY was everywhere. I walked past a cute little candy store, someone brought some into the office, and when I went to get a magazine I almost crumbled and bought m&ms. When I did this experiment in February, I was working from home, so giving it up was simple: don't buy any and you won't be tempted to eat any. This time it is different. This time I am trying to be more mindful about my state of body and mind. Knowing that the dietary choices I've been making lately are, at the very least, contributing to the exhausted, stressed-out, and depressed person I've been is the underlying motivation for change. Also, I've been looking to deepen my yoga practice and my spiritual foundation. Mindfulness is key in this pursuit. 

Each time a craving hit yesterday, I kept coming back to this thought: If I could quit drinking, then I can definitely do this. In comparison, this is a walk in the park. It made me realize how powerfully inspiring recovery can be. Giving up alcohol was by far the most difficult thing I've ever done in my life. I've done some difficult things. But nothing was as frightening or as difficult as choosing to take action on that one thing. I felt like I had an impossible objective and that nothing would ever be the same again. Looking back, I am mystified by those feelings. Same??? Really? Why would I have clung so desperately to the very thing that was killing my will to continue living? And yet, I did. I knew had simply had to do it. And so far, one day at a time, I have been able to keep doing it.

With these other changes, I'm sure there are emotional and psychological motives driving me to fear and craving. With abstinence I'm certain they'll come into the light to be dealt with. Using the tools I've learned to get and to stay sober will definitely help.

I don't want to make a great big deal out of this thing. I really don't. I don't want to take away from the real hard work of getting sober. Finding a reprieve from addiction is the holy grail. This is a discontinued cup from Wallmart. However, since I quit drinking I've really begun to see glimpses of myself standing in my own way. I want to get the hell out of the way very badly. 

Monday, May 30, 2011

It's a New Day

There are a few books that discuss a correlation between alcoholism and wheat sensitivities. It turns out the alcoholics have a higher likilihood of gluten intolerance and, if I remember correctly, dairy intolerance. I discovered my wheat allergy six years ago when I went on Atkins to lose the weight I'd gained while pregnant. In giving up white flour I suddenly possessed energy I hadn't felt in years. My digestive tract settled down after more than a decade of upset that had become so normal for me I rarely considered myself to have a problem. Every few weeks I would cheat on the diet, usually with a doughnut or cookie, and find myself transformed into a very sleepy person who spent a lot of time in the bathroom.

I did some reading and finally narrowed the issue to wheat. I became more serious about staying away from it. When I reintroduced carbohydrates, I was hyper-vigilant about ensuring what I ate was wheat-free. It helped that I lived in California, where everyone at the playground was talking about the relationship between wheat and dairy allergies and depression, aspergers, learning disabilities, and at least ten other conditions I don't remember. It led me to consider the idea that what seems so normal to us could be produced by vitamin deficiencies, allergies, and other semi-innocuous things. What is familiar becomes normal. I know you know what I'm talking about, because alcoholism means you live this phenomena.

In the past year, after five years of vigilence, I've begun to relax. I no longer ask waiters if there is flour in the item I'm ordering (because I don't want to order anything from the gluten-free menu) and I started eating spelt bread excessively. I haven't been taking any vitamins. I am having continuous allergic reactions to pollen and cat hair. I am eating candy endlessly. I am drinking coffee like a fiend.

Over the weekend, it suddenly occurred to me that the drained, exhausted, cranky feelings may be, at least in part, related to all of the gluten I'm consuming. You would think that after all of these years it would have been obvious to me. That the exhaustion would have triggered a light bulb moment.... well, it didn't.

Today marks day one of a thirty-day experiment. I've started a cleanse and will keep the wheat and sugar out of my diet. I'll reduce my coffee consumption and take my vitamins. I'll do yoga every day and meditate. I'll see if it makes a difference to my outlook and energy levels.

Two interesting things occurred to me as a result of this plan:
  1. The notion of giving up coffee altogether fills me with dread and fear...like crazy fear. A kind of "why get up at all" feeling.
  2. I am almost ready to quit smoking...not quite, but nearly there.
  3. Instead of going crazy and trying to do 60 minutes of yoga per day, I'm going to take it slow, applying the "couch-to-5-k" philosophy. Today I did four sun salutations. It's a good start.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Self Improvement?

For the past several days I've felt inexplicably grouchy and irritable. Every time I feel like I've gotten to the bottom of it, I discover another layer of anger and frustration. In addition, I've also been really sleepy and tired. Yesterday I thought that perhaps I'm grouchy because I'm tired of the weary exhaustion that seems to be following me around. The only time of day that I don't actually feel sleepy is at ten pm. Then, I suddenly awaken and feel ready to write or read. The rest of the time I'm slogging through the muck. I am certainly not as tired as I always was when I was drinking, but I do feel that anything extra is simply too much.

I know what to do to combat this. I should do yoga, call my sponsor, hit an extra meeting. But I really don't want to. I can't explain it. I suppose it's not all that different from knowing we should eat more vegetables and go to sleep early and then going to McDonalds for lunch and staying up late to watch a movie. I am NOT going to drink. I am still strong in my program, I still go to my meetings, I have not lost sight of the wreckage my life became as a result of my drinking and I have no desire to go for another round. I don't miss the feeling of being drunk - that exhausted, fake exhuberance followed by dismay and self-loathing. The two are irrevokably tied together in my imagination. The day after the second-to-last time I drank I remember waking up and thinking "how the hell did I live like this?" I'd had a few periods with a few weeks of sober time by that point and had gotten used to waking up without a hangover. That day I was astonished by how awful I felt - the headache, the exhaustion, the queasy-sick feeling. I just couldn't believe that my existence had been defined by that for so long. So, NO, I won't drink over this.

I guess I'll just sit with these feelings of tiredness and irritability until I am ready to let them go. I will try to accept that this is where I am right now: a great big grouchy bitchy irritable tired whiny person who won't feel this way forever. Once it passes I'll go back to doing the things that really do make me feel better. Maybe even tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I am Woman...

When I was in graduate school there was a two year period when the only men I spoke to, outside of my immediate family, were my supervisors and an occasional student. All of my friends were women. I dated women. I lived with women. And I loved it. Loved it. There were Zena marathons, endless hot summer days spent on the deck, and a sense of openness and understanding. Of course, there were also arguments about feminism and fairness, senseless bickering about the type of women we were. But looking back now it feels very much like my own personal Woodstock, filled with consciousness-raising and freedom that comes from being surrounded by women.

I was speaking with my aunt a few weeks ago. When I was little I can remember how fascinating she was. She was so unlike my own mother and the other aunts, who all got married and had kids and did the suburban house with two cars. Instead J. had hair that went on and on past her bottom, an apartment in the city with my long-haired uncle and a free spirit. There were drugs and motorcycles too, but I still don't know whether she did them or if it was just something my uncle did. Later, they had five kids, but her free-spirited nature never left. Anyway, when we were talking she said that she wished there was a single phone listing in every phonebook under the heading Women, so that there would always be a place we could call to talk to another woman...and also a place we could go to sit with women. It sounded wonderful, if disbelief were suspended and we lived in a place filled with magical realism.

I really feel I've found that in this online community of sober women. There is that connection and a feeling of being truly understood here. What I'm praying for is that I can find it out in the real world too. It's so easy to get sucked into a world of work and other responsibilities and to forget...I'm not even sure what it is I'm forgetting. Perhaps it's a sense of getting lost in the shuffle, of losing that feeling of openness and possibility? It's all too easy to romanticize the past and live in an essentialistic understanding of what it means to be a woman too, but even knowing that, it's still something I miss.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Book Review Fridays: Disentangle

I mentioned this book on Wedensday and have been unable to put it down since then. It is amazing. The underlying philosophy draws from Al-Anon, Melody Beattie's work on co-dependency, Women Who Love too Much, lessons from her therapeutic practice and her own experiences. Because she draws on multiple perspectives, her suggestions really felt like they fit for me. While there is much I can relate to in Melody Beattie's Co-Dependent No More and Women Who Love Too Much, I felt like there were so many patterns I couldn't identify with and, more importantly, so far, I haven't found they help me to change the patterns I do identify with.

What Johnson found in her therapeutic practice was that the experience of losing yourself in another person is common among people whether they identify as codependent, adult children of alcoholics, or as women who love too much. She writes:

Unhealthy attachments lead us to losing track of what's important to us. They preoccupy our thoughts and then they can preoccupy our behaviors. We pursue, snoop, sneak, watch, and wait. And we wait and wait, waiting for things to be better, for things to be more like we'd like them to be. And the rest of our life goes to hell. And we don't even care. We may not even notice. It just doesn't seem to matter.
This notion struck a chord. Because I've been reading so many books lately, endlessly searching for the one thing that will help me clear away part of the fog I seem to be living under, I began to wonder if it would help. Her definition and description of the problem was dead on, but I wasn't sure I could apply it in a way that would help me to change...until I got to the first exercise about illusions:

Think of a person or situation in which you presently feel entangled.

What is a present illusion of yours relative to this person or situation?

What is a hope or belief you are holding about this person or situation that may or may not really be happening?

What has happened that makes you believe your illusion may be true?

What has or has not happened that tells you your illusion may not be true?

Looking at this data, what is the reality about this person and/or your situation?

How are you feeling about this reality you are finding?

I did the exercise last night, thinking generally about a relationship. I was astonished by what I was able to write. There was something about the way the questions were posed that released me from my typical type-A analysis and freed me to write down my raw feelings. Once I'd finished, I realized it would be better to deal with a more specific situation or event so that specific learnings can be obtained.

There are three other sections in addition to "facing illusions": detaching, setting healthy boundaries, and developing spirituality. I'm really looking forward to using the exercises in a more structured way each time a specific situation makes me feel anxious and out of control. In this way, I feel like there will be change in the way I view things. At the moment I can know something intellectually, but getting my heart to catch up has been a real challenge.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

It's True: Emotions Don't Last Forever

When I was drinking I drank to enhance the positive feelings and to erase the negative ones. I carefully manipulated all of my emotions in an attempt to feel powerful and capable. I self-medicated so consistently that my emotional range shrunk to nearly nothing.

When I first got sober any deviation from my carefully constructed "normal" was near crushing. Exuberance exhausted me. Any twinge of sadness threw me into panic that I would always be that unhappy. It had been such a long time since I'd attended to my feelings that every single one surprized and shocked me. There were so many ups and downs the first month that I nearly always went to bed before nine pm. If not for my kids, I probably would have gone to bed directly when I got home from work.

Over the past several months I have learned that emotions are not forever. It may feel like your heart will simply stop beating due to sadness, but the fact is that it won't. I've also learned that resistance to those feelings only increases the pain. I have not learned how to lean into pain successfully, but I have learned there are many good reasons to do so.

The best thing I can say about the past several weeks is that I did not at any point think that drinking was a good idea. There was that one day I mentioned where I did think about it and I did feel the pull, but even in that moment I knew it would not make things better. The other thing I'm starting to sense is a burgeoning sense of strength. My spirit is unfurling, beginning to test the waters, and starting to stand up. It's a relief to feel that growth.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tired of the Whining Yet?

I know I am.

I went to a meeting yesterday and was reminded how important it is to take responsibility for our part in everything. I find that I often take too much. Or not enough. Finding the middle ground between these extremes is very difficult. It is tempting to simply do what others wish because it ends the immediate discomfort. I am lately becoming more aware that taking the easier path to avoid immediate sadness or discomfort means that the cycle continues uninterrupted. The same issues arise again and again without resolution, and each time there is a greater sense of impossibility and dismay around them. It's one thing to fail to resolve an issue once, twice, or three times, but to find the same issue repeating through the fabric of life cyclically over ten years makes it seem near impossible to solve.

I've been thinking about the difference between samsara and dukka. My understanding is that samsara is the suffering we bring upon ourselves, while dukka is the basic essence of life - the irritations, sadness, anger and frustration that are caused by the existential nature of our existence. I need to do more research and broaden my undergraduate understanding of Buddhism, but I can definitely see the way in which I take a basic problem and magnify it. I add to my own suffering out of a fear that sits coiled at the base of my stomach. It's an old fear and has been with me for as long as I can remember. Since I stopped drinking to quiet this fear, it's become a very uncomfortable sensation.

I just came across a wonderful book - Disentangle: When You've Lost Your Self in Someone Else -  I am on the second chapter, but already see so much of myself in this book. I'm hoping it will bring some clarity to the decisions and emotions I am struggling with. And, yes, I am looking for a "magic bullet" or a burning bush. I know this is impossible, but at least I know I am doing this. Or theat's what I tell myself anyway.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

At the Edge

I was reading The Language of Letting Go this morning and today's reading is about boundaries. She writes that sometimes we are pushed to our limits. This pushing and pain may point to a lesson. I hope so. Because over the past week I've felt overwhelmed by all of the impending changes in my life. I am struggling to make good choices, while at the same time attempting to let go of an insidious need to control outcomes.

Maybe that's the lesson. I keep thinking about faith and I pray for more. I also keep trying to remember that I am where I am right now in my recovery, and that this is a good place. And then I pray for guidance. I've discovered that if I take an antihistamine, I will become so anxious that I feel like a panic attack is close. If I don't take them, I simply feel a pit of dread in my stomach.

What if I'm doing the wrong thing?

What if my attempts to control things are making everything worse?

What if I am doubling my sense of suffering through my thoughts and actions?

What if?

I don't have the answers right now, to be honest, even though the entire point of a personal essay is to show that we've learned something. Here are the steps I've taken in an attempt to resolve some of the stressors in my life:
  • Positive affirmations: I remind myself that I am good enough right now and that my HP has a plan.
  • Therapy: I finally found therapy covered by my insurance. It will take a few weeks to get an appointment, but I can hang on until then.
  • Al-Anon: I don't know if it's helping me, but am committed to going "until I want to go"
  • Honesty: I am trying to be unflinchingly honest with myself about my feelings, with the awareness that feelings will shift and change.
  • Asking for help: I am talking to friends and family, watching for opportunities to ask for help and support.
  • AA: I'm focusing on my recovery and step work, in the hopes of clearing out some "bad" inventory.
I also need to start doing yoga. It always helps to center me.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

On Thursday I Wanted to Drink

It's been quite a while since I felt that near-overwhelming urge to drink. I had just returned home from looking at a potential house (our landlords are selling) and everyone was going to lessons. In the moments after they left, I was suddenly filled with dispair. Everything feels so uncertain at the moment and without the comfort of denial, I feel anxious and stressed out all the time. Out of this, the addict in me wandered over, sat down, and said, "If you have a drink, you'll feel less out of control." Honestly, I think I considered it for less than thirty seconds. I knew it was a lie. I know that one of the reasons I feel like I'm going crazy is because I am starting to see things as they are. I am working through issues that are difficult and, in some cases, very old. It is painful. I am building faith to let go and to trust that everything will work out, even if I can't see what that looks like.

It is slow going.

Some days I feel like I'm going crazy.

I used to drink whenever I had these emotions. The alcohol would move through my brain and body and quiet the anxiety and fear for a little while anyway. So it is true that I would feel better, calmer, more relaxed if I had had that drink. It would be the same if I took a tranquilizer or a zanax. There would be a release. But that is only half of the story. The other half of the story is that when the drink wears off, the anxiety is doubled. I feel worse than I did before. The only reason I drank to deal with anxiety before is that I refused to admit that drinking did nothing to help my anxiety.

Beyond that, of course lies ruin. More days and nights of drinking, more dispair, more anxiety and self-loathing. The thing that stopped me on Thursday wasn't the fear of relapse, nor the belief that I could do it once and leave it alone. It was the knowledge that drinking would not make anything better, even temporarily. This is good knowledge. And it keeps me sober.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Lost...

I'm not lost right now, but it has come to my attention that somehow over the past ten years I have slowly given away piece after piece of myself. I didn't think it was a big deal, and each time it seemed simpler, easier, to give in. Over time, little by little, it became a habit to be agreeable and even to anticipate the needs/wants/hopes of others and to change myself to fit. There were times I could not do this, because I was too tired or it was too much. What followed were horrible feelings of guilt and failure.

When I first got sober I didn't know all of this; I only knew that enough was enough. I was tired and broken down. Exhausted by my own exhaustion. If I'm truly honest, a big part of the reason I wanted to quit drinking was because it wasn't working anymore. Whereas in the past, it had allowed me to erase the pain, now it magnified it. Instead of feeling warm and mellow and drifting off to sleep at night, I found myself angrier and sadder, and unable to sleep. Something in my soul refused to be quiet.

I am still learning who I am. Still exploring my dreams and who it is I'll be. I never again want to find myself in a position where I'm so willing to turn my life, my thoughts, and my feelings over to someone else. This writing thing is amazing: I just realized how finding a higher power has forced me to stop looking outward... now that I look inward, I can really begin to listen to and understand where I need to be.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Step One: Self-Knowledge

After going through many of the embarrassing things I did when I was drinking a few patterns have emerged. I thought I would share them with you:

  • In my twenties I drank because after a few drinks I could become the cheerful, outgoing, and flirtatious person I thought I could never be sober.
  • When I encountered periods of emotional pain, disappointment, or frustration, I drank so that I could ignore those feelings.
  • I justified my own drinking by surrounding myself with people who drank as much as I did.
  • As I "grew up" I turned my drinking into a "lifestyle" by only consuming "top shelf" wine.
  • I always believed that changes in my external circumstances would change my drinking behavior - less pain would mean fewer drinks.
It's interesting to me that I always unknowingly felt I wasn't like other people. I never had the confidence to accept myself as I was. In my twenties I was this bookish person who was happy to spend time alone, or at home with friends watching a movie. I didn't trust this person. I thought I had to change into someone else - someone outgoing, confident, and flirtatious. I thought I had to like the activities that everyone else was doing. To bridge the gap I drank. This basic pattern of behavior carried me through most of my life. I'm only just now beginning to think about what I like, or want. It's a frightening proposition, but at the same time, it feels very liberating.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Step One: We Are Powerless Over Alcohol

I am somewhat embarrassed to admit this, but I have just recently written out my step one. This is not my first crack at it; I consciously accepted step one last year, but this is my first formal attempt. When I initially sat down to write I thought it would be a quick thing to capture the series of events and decisions that led me to complete and utter dispair about my drinking. In a way it was, but I learned something important during the process of looking at my relationship to alcohol from the beginning.

What I realized was that (despite my over-use of the word realize in this blog) although I did not drink as frequently in my early twenties, the core uncertainty and chaos was always present. When I took the first drink, I never knew where I would end up and I never knew whether it would be a good night or a bad night until the next day. Sometimes I hooked up with innappropriate people, sometimes I alienated my friends, sometimes I stayed out while they went home, sometimes I got sick, sometimes I walked home in the early hours of the morning still drunk.

When this happened, I always blamed it on my youth. I thought everyone drank like I did. I thought everyone loved the "freedom" that came from the buzz. It never once, not once, occurred to me that I might be an alcoholic until many years later. Looking back, I believe I was. I don't think I drank normally until some invisible line was crossed into alcoholism. After all, it is said that it's not how much or how often you drink, it's what it does to you.

When I see young people in meetings I am amazed at their self-possession. I am astonished that they were somehow able to differentiate between what they were doing and what their "normal" friends were doing. I hear my story when they tell theirs and part of me wishes I'd been able to see what I was doing then - it certainly would have saved me a lot of grief. On the other hand, at least I'm here now. I could have wasted another ten years chasing the buzz...or have had a less than happy ending to my drinking.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

On Motherhood

In Al-Anon meetings people without children often remark that it must be so much more difficult because I have children. It is tempting to wrap myself in a blanket of helplessness when I hear this. It resonates to some extent. On the other hand, I have also heard people say that our children inspire us to perform acts of great strength. This is an empowering statement. It captures both the facts of my past, but also provides me with hope for my future.

Honestly, I sometimes think that if I did not have children I would not have found the courage to quit drinking. The will to self-preservation had left me at the end. Knowing they needed me to mother them, and knowing that I wanted to be there to do that, gave me the courage to hope and to do it. Watching them struggle takes me back to my own childhood and gives me the courage to face my past and learn from it, so that I able better able to give them what I didn't have then. Their joy reminds me to look for the simple pleasures. Their love reminds me that I am, in fact, good enough right now.

I hope all of you with children have a happy mother's day. And that all of you with mothers know that you, too, are good enough right now.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

See No Evil, Hear No Evil

I need to be very cautious about the word because in this post. I did not drink because... I drank because I was an alcoholic and I am an alcoholic if I drink. I guess I'm still an alcoholic whether I drink or not.

That said, one of the reasons I drank was to avoid seeing, hearing, or having to deal with so many painful things in my life. I don't want to discuss specifics, but let it be said that whenever someone said something I found hurtful or critical, I made sure to gulp it down, so I could forget. If I drank enough, it was easy to dismiss these statements. And in the morning, I wouldn't even remember them.

This is something that I'm actively working on now. I try to remain present, listen, and resist the impulse to minimize (or maximize) what is said. I think about whether the statement is true or false, and then I think about whether I need to let go or address it. Letting go seems easier, but that is only because I tend to stuff my feelings. Truly letting go is more difficult. Addressing it is the hardest of all. I find it frightening and oh so difficult.

But I am working on it.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Book Review Fridays: A Woman's Way Through the Twelve Steps

It's been quite a long time since I've done a book review...I know. The post I'm about to write may not even turn into a book review to be honest. It's tempting to look at the Big Book and believe it's a bible of sorts, but I often find so much wisdom in other books written about the twelve steps. It's not the twelve steps that I occasionally take issue with, nor the fellowship I find in AA, it's the point of view from which it was written: priviledged white male. I can honestly say that I don't think I've written those words since graduate school, but it's true. I find it hard to relate to the context of the program. Not always. But sometimes.

In the beginning of my sobriety I thought this was part of the "terminal uniqueness" problem - that I was unwilling to submit to the program because I thought I was too smart, or better than. As I read through other perspectives though, I find that the Twelve Steps can work for me, if the context is situated in experiences I can relate to.

A Woman's Way Through the Twelve Steps , by Stephanie S. Covington does this well. The message that recovery is possible if we apply ourselves honestly and wholeheartedly to working through the 12 steps is central to the book, however, by acknowledging that women's experiences of addiction are shaped by the culture in which we live, I found a deeper sense of understanding. I do believe that the motives and expression of my drinking is different from men, not because of some essential difference between men and women, but simply due to different cultural messages about femininity and power.

At the same time, Covington is aware that women are not monolithic either. Issues of racial inequality, homophobia, and class also complicate issues of recovery.

I have been thinking about this lately, because I came across a group called WISE, Women in Sobriety and Improvement, created by Charlotte Davis. I haven't researched the organization in very much detail, but rather than Twelve Steps, she created sixteen.  Her approach is outlined in her book,  Many Roads, One Journey. It is her belief that the experiences of women and minorities are often left out of AA, leading people to feel like their needs are not met through attendance at AA.

I'm not suggesting that I will leave AA. AA has truly saved my life. What I guess I'm trying to say is that I'm beginning to see the importance of validating my experience, which will be both similar and different to yours. In order to continue my journey on this path of recovery, I want to be more open to alternative positions and resist the temptation to try to mold myself in the image of a model of addiction and recovery that doesn't quite fit.

Moving towards an essentialist understanding of Women will not solve the problem. It would shift the ground a bit, but there would still be parts that wouldn't quite fit. Reading these books fills some gaps. And as usual, I can take what works and leave the rest.

I do have a question though - have any of you attended WISE meetings or done more reading on this topic? I'm quite curious about it, so would love to hear about anyone's experience with different recovery models. Please share! Or email me!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Al-Anon: The Three C's

You Didn't Cause It.
You Can't Control It.
You Can't Cure It.

I wish I'd heard these when I was young and still living at home with my alcoholic father. Back then I alternated between trying to tiptoe around him so that he wouldn't get mad, and instigating arguments with him about his drinking. My mom was there, but she was so exhausted from living with him that her health was in jeapoardy. I know now that she was doing as I was doing, but had been doing it for many years longer - since they got married, actually. By that point she'd given up and hit her bottom.

I really don't want to talk about my marriage. But I will say this: I remember that ten years ago I hit a point where I felt like all we did was drink. I got mad and said I was sick of it. Things calmed down. Fast forward four years and I, pregnant with my second child, was yelling and stomping my feet about it again. You know what? It doesn't make any real difference. Now, I don't yell or stomp my feet. In fact, I can count only three times that we've even discussed his drinking over the past eight months. Sometimes this feels like a cop-out, as though I should be talking about every feeling I have so that I can prove that I care. When I truly come back to the three C's I realize that it doesn't really matter what I do: what matters is that I'm honest with myself and that I do what I need to do to be healthy.

I just realized that today I have 8 months of sobriety, 35.3 weeks of sobriety. I've now been sober longer than my first pregnancy, and in a two weeks it will have been longer than my second one. In both cases, I was a dry drunk. I did nothing to further any sort of recovery. In fact, I used that excuse to deny my alcoholism. I figured that if I could stay sober while I was pregnant, it meant I didn't have a problem. I find it unfathomable that we have to go so far from what is normal to realize and admit that we have a problem with alcohol. Or, at least I did. I had to sacrifice everything before I was able to get to that place.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Guest Post on Guinevere Gets Sober

Guinevere has put up a guest post written by me (yippee!). If you haven't read her blog, you should definitely check it out - I learn something new in every post she writes.

In working with her on my post about the relationship between motherhood and addiction, she really helped me to dig deep into my addiction and how motherhood shaped both the addiction and my recovery. I was caught in a conundrum back then: I drank because I told myself I couldn't be a good mother without alchol, but yet, in drinking I was unable to access the true part of me that would have made me a good mother. My beliefs about myself were so entrenched that I couldn't understand the pain I was inflicting.

Anyway - here's to another twenty four.

Monday, May 2, 2011

And God Says Yes

In the The Language of Letting Go meditation for yesterday Melody Beattie wrote about the recovery prayer:

If we say this prayer, we can trust it has been answered with a yes.
I realized this morning that she is speaking specifically about the recovery prayer, but yesterday I forgot about that specific and recognized that when I pray, I don't consider the answer to be "yes". I've been viewing prayer as an exercise similar to sending a letter to a friend in which you ask her to return your favorite sweater. You write the letter, you mail it, and then you wait to see what she says. Now, certainly there are prayers like this (please let me get this job, or can I have a new car), but there are prayers like "please help me to get through this one moment," "please give me the strength to do the right thing, to say the right thing" and these must be "YES". There is no waiting. God isn't sitting there with her knitting thinking, "just a second," you're so annoying. I just need to finish this row."

I'm not sure why I approached this type of prayer as a petition. I'm not sure why I thought I would have to wait and see if it was answered.

Trust issues, anyone?

It gets worse. I spend alot of time analyzing my wishes and desires to determine whether they are valid. If I cannot determine that the request is 100% error proof, I don't ask. When logic supports the ask, I will work up the courage to ask, and then assume that I have a 3% chance of success. And I will wait. to. see. what. happens.

Obviously, it is good to carefully consider the requests we make of the people in our lives, to dig down deep to see if we're being fair. This is not what I mean: I dig down deep to determine whether my feelings are justified. If not, I stuff them into the back closet of my brain.

Lately, I've been working to "honor my feelings". It's surprising how difficult a task this is. For me, honoring my feelings means I listen to them, accept them, and let them go. They are not good, or bad, justified or unjustified. They just are.

With my higher power, with these particular prayers, I've just realized I don't have to wait. When I pray for the "right words" or for help getting through a difficult situation, I can assume the answer is yes, and that the help is there.
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