Lately

I have been doing my thing lately, which involves spending a lot of time working on my recovery, plus eek-ing enjoyment out of my day-to-day life, when and where I can. I have been working on developing good routines, too, but that subject deserves a post of its own.

Recovery.

I used to hate that word and all it implied. If I was recovering from something it meant I had to acknowledge it, accept it, and actually deal with it. Yuck. It totally made me feel like damaged goods to even think about being an alcoholic- much less admitting to being one. We don’t acknowledge alcoholism and all of the problems that go along with it in my family, remember?

Luckily, I found that recovery is a natural process for me. I help it along by attempting to learn my patterns, trying to be aware of my behavior, reading-reading-reading about recovery, keeping a gratitude journal, etc., but the most important aspect of my recovery was making the decision to change my life. And deciding that alcohol has absolutely no place in it today or EVER. Once I got clear on those two points it began to get a little easier. My life began to develop a flow- some people call it grace- and I am lucky enough to be able to step into it some of the time.

I am actually starting to get excited about the future, which was a totally foreign concept to me a few months back. I was so caught up in my own cycles of self-defeating behavior, anxiety, and alcohol abuse that I had a hard time seeing my nose in front of my face, much less planning positive moves for the future. I experienced frantic feelings of needing to change or needing to DO something, which isn’t a good head space to be in. Now it is starting to be fun to think about life, make goals and plan ahead a little, but I am taking it slow, slow, slow. It is okay to be patient and try to spread my wings little by little…I am in no hurry to fly. I know that I will fly eventually if I keep going down this path. Or maybe I am flying already, just staying low to the ground. Either way it is OK. I am ok.

So…recovery. Yeah. It is nothing like I thought it would be and so much better than I could have imagined…sometimes. And sometimes it is hard as shit. Today is one of the good days.

 

A Slow Attitude Adjustment and The Spaces Between

I am thinking recovery is kind of like one long, slow attitude adjustment. I started out feeling really scared, hesitant, angry, and generally crappy about getting sober. I had backed myself into a corner. I HAD to do it or else the consequences would most likely be dire. That’s not the nicest place to be, as many of you know.

Over time my attitude has slowly gotten better, and I know that it will continue to improve the longer I stay sober AND work on my recovery. Being sober does wonders, but I have to keep making adjustments in order to truly be happy with my new life. I can’t force it to happen, though. It takes time, and that requires a shit ton of patience on my part. For example, one day I hope to be more social again. I HEAR that it is possible to go out and be sober, but I am just not ready yet. I have to listen to that voice of reason, as doing so has helped keep me sober for this long. It ain’t wrong, and it will tell me when I am truly ready to do certain things. Attitude is key to feeling happy and not deprived. By most accounts, as long as I work hard and STAY SOBER, it will only take a few years max to feel totally normal (or happy sober, I suppose…normal is kind of a dumb concept). A mere drop in the bucket!

In the meantime, I am focusing on the spaces between the hard times. It is getting easier, and the spaces are growing longer. Instead of focusing on the shit, I am trying to focus on the happy, fun sober times in between the bad times. The longer I stay sober and continue to work on my recovery, the bigger the spaces are.

See? It is all just a big attitude adjustment. 🙂

Heavy Thoughts Are Okay Today…

My thoughts have been pretty heavy, which is why I haven’t been writing as often lately. Sometimes it is just too much to process, and I would rather sit on it for awhile. Lately I have been thinking more about family, codependency, and my past. I have also been having some sneaky drinking thoughts. While some people have nice, tidy thoughts about having a glass of wine, my thoughts tend to run more towards wanting to get totally shitfaced wasted. So…at least I definitely know that they are wolfie talking. They are easy to spot and say NO to. I am not sure what is prompting them, but they are much weaker than they used to be, which is something at least. More annoying than anything else. Shut the ‘F’ up, wolfie. Geez, get the hint. I don’t do that anymore!

I have been reading ‘Codependent No More’ by Melody Beattie. Through this journey into recovery I have realized that some of my attachments to family members are a big ‘ole mess. Actually, their attachments to one another are a little bizarre, too, so we are all a big mess. It is what happens when you are raised in a household with an active alcoholic. One big, happy family filled with people trying to figure things out, and often finding the answers in a bottle of booze.

I have become less codependent than I used to be, as I used to be kind of crazy in personal relationships, especially those of a romantic nature. I was jealous and suspicious, and I would totally lose myself in a relationship. I aimed to please, which didn’t end up pleasing ANYONE at all. So, I went through romantic relationships as a serial monogamist. Those relationships were filled with drama disguised as fun, drinking, concerns about my drinking, fighting, and then a big break up, often followed by no contact in the future. Sometimes I would even move away. Eventually, I would meet a new man who thought I was SO fun, and start the pattern all over again. I gradually gained a better sense of self in my late 20’s and early 30’s, and my personal relationships are much better now. Lucky for my husband, right?! There are still remnants of those messes to clean up, though. Mainly in my mind, as those dudes are LONG GONE, thank God.

I have realized that I behave in a codependent way towards certain family members, and that it is holding me back. For me, this looks like worrying too much about their lives, to the point where it keeps me up at night because it is all I can think about. I am trying to detach from worry and place the focus on to MY life. It is working out OK, but it is a constant battle to detach. I am plagued with the ‘shoulds’. I should give them a call. Write an email. Send a gift. DO SOMETHING. Blah, blah, blah. I have to shut that voice off a lot.

Recovery feels like a lot of work sometimes! It is worth it, though, because I feel really good a lot of the time. I genuinely like being sober. In between sorting out these big, heavy issues, I enjoy most of my life. I was thinking today about how anxious I used to be to go to the grocery store. I mean, crippling anxiety…and I don’t have that anymore! That’s pretty dang cool. So, I shall continue to keep going living my sober life, tell wolfie to leave me alone whenever he pops his stupid head up, and sort out the shit that is holding me back. No problem, right?

Clawing My Way Up

I have been thinking about my life lately…big picture kind of stuff. I feel like I have really had to claw my way to get to this place- this lovely place where I feel pretty safe and okay. I wonder if everyone feels like that? Does everyone have to fight hard to be okay in life? It seems crazy that it is this hard to be relatively sane, balanced, and happy. Those of us with addictions might have a harder time, but I am not sure about that at all.

My family fell apart when I was in my early teens. I don’t really remember it being that bad before that point in time, but maybe it was more of a mess than I realized. I feel like I have been on a journey to get to this place- this lovely place where I have finally found some sort of clarity- ever since that point.

It is a huge relief to be taking responsibility for my own life and to realize that nobody has the power to hurt me anymore. It is really empowering…so much more than I ever could have realized. I think I got stuck emotionally when I started to drink-drink-drink to deal with life, and am finally cleaning up the messes and living my life properly.

I am learning to trust life. It is easier to go with the flow, let go, surrender- whatever you want to call it- than to fight all the time for control. Drinking is a way of controlling reality when everything else feels out of control. That’s where the ‘fuck it’s’ come in. Fuck it, everything is hard, might as well drink. Fuck it, I can’t change anything, might as well drink. Fuck it, I am not happy, might as well drink.

Those thoughts are wrong, wrong, wrong. If you can just trust that things will be okay- that life is looking after you- then you can change. It isn’t easy. I had to claw my way to get here…I really feel like that…and it took me 20 years. I need to remind myself of that when things get tough. I am finally feeling the flow of my life steering me in the right direction, and it is so nice. I am grateful that I get the chance to feel this way because some people NEVER get it.

How to Surrender or Let Go

I never have really understood the concept of letting go. I mean…I understood it in an abstract way, but I didn’t actually know what it looked like to DO IT. It seemed hard. Unrealistic. I would “let go” only to have invasive thoughts creep back into my head…thoughts that I TOLD myself I was letting go of. It just didn’t work. I eventually stopped trying because I felt like a failure at letting things go.

I have decided to focus my attention on the art of letting go. So, instead of trying to let go of my thoughts, I am now telling myself “I Surrender” throughout the day. It is a powerful mantra that really seems to work. It brings me back to the present moment to feel my feelings instead of dwelling on my negative thoughts. “I Surrender. I Surrender. I Surrender.”

I want to let go of my past. I want to let go of my obsessive thoughts. I want to let go of control, especially unhealthy control over things that I have no control over. I want to let go of guilt and shame. I want to be open. I want to listen to my inner voice. I want more peace. I want to gain more personal power. I want my life to be fluid. I want to surrender.

 

The Ups and Downs of Life

There are always going to be highs and lows in life.

Fact: I used to bypass them with alcohol.

It didn’t matter whether I felt good or bad- drinking would make me feel comfortably numb and a kind of spaced-out happy. I skipped the hard work that goes into creating a mostly-happy life by drinking to change my feelings…no matter what the reality of the situation.

Fast forward to now. I am 145 or so days sober, and I feel highs and lows on a regular basis. My body does its thing. I don’t feel happy all the time. I don’t even know that it is possible to feel happy all the time, unless you A) work really hard at creating an enlightened spiritual mindset or B) use a substance to change the way you feel. Option B doesn’t work for me and I have a really long way to go with Option A, so I am going to have to live with the fact that I shall experience cycles of highs, lows, ups, and downs in my life.

I definitely like being happy more than angry or sad, but that doesn’t mean that those feelings….my low periods…don’t have purpose and merit. They totally do! They create balance in my life. As I continue to be sober and work on myself, there will be more and more equilibrium present. It will be easier to let go of the bad feelings to make room for happiness. That takes time, though! I have a lot of funky shit to work out from years of stuffing my feelings down with booze.

I have noticed some signs that I am in a funk, in my thought patterns. Once I notice these thoughts I KNOW that something is going on. I start worrying much more about what others are thinking about me. I start suspecting that my friends and family are thinking bad things about me. I start “shoulding” myself about small stuff, big stuff, and everything in between. An offhand comment can make me feel small and unloved. I get totally down on my appearance.

My mind basically runs away with me.

These are all signs that I am feeling low and need an immediate prescription for self-care. I am realizing that I am pretty bad at caring for myself sometimes, especially when it really matters! Like when I feel lonely, small, and unloved. It is easier to do nice things for myself during the happy “high” times.

I also have to ignore my mind during these time periods. My thoughts are my enemy and can make me do things based upon fear and insecurity…things that I really don’t want to do! Weird/bad/unhealthy things. Like fight with loved ones, invade someone else’s privacy, or pick up a drink.

So, for me, self-care that lets me lose myself for awhile is good. Interesting or funny television shows or movies, doing things with my hands, creative projects, cleaning, reading, baths, cooking, yoga, and naps. Hugs, too! Never forget the power of a good hug.

I am still not through my low period, but I am starting to see the light peeking from behind the clouds. I have also been fairly productive and not caused any relationship or life problems because of my stinkin’ thought patterns.

Thanks for all of the nice support. You guys are the best.

The January Blahs

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I have been feeling kind of low the past couple of days…after feeling pretty high for a few days from successfully getting through the holidays sober. It could be anything…too much sugar from leftover cookies, PMS, winter blahs, PAWS. Who really knows? I have been irritable with my husband, tired, depressed, and pretty unmotivated. January seems like the time to get started doing lots of healthy and productive things that I don’t really feel like doing right now.

So, I have decided that I am going to give myself a break. It is frigidly cold here today, and around many parts of the U.S., so I am staying in, cooking soup, playing with my babe, and catching up on episodes of Downton Abbey while he naps. No use beating myself up for feeling this way. I am going to surrender to my crappy feelings and try to have an okay day anyway. I shall take my vitamins, drink lots of tea and water, stay away from the cookies, and have faith that tomorrow will be a better day.