And so do blogs, so as usual, I sign off with no name!
Thursday, August 28, 2008
And so do blogs, so as usual, I sign off with no name!
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
- You physically can't appear before them - you are a soldier deployed to a combat zone, you are incarcerated, etc. If someone has a protective order against you, DO NOT VIOLATE THE ORDER.
- They refuse to see you - this is their right, and we respect that, no questions asked.
- The expense of travel will be a financial hardship on you or your family - if you need to make amends to someone who is now a missionary in Pongo Pongo, airfare would certainly bite into the budget of the average family. We are responsible for our family's food, basic clothing or shelter in all stages of our recovery.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
If you're a mom on the road to recovery, check out the ladies at SoberMoms:
Now that I am sober, I have to deal with the same brain. As the country song goes, "I've got this thinkin' problem ...". This is why I need to read each day something out of Dale Carnegie's book Stop Worrying and Start Living. This book's techniques have helped me immensely with my weird need to freak out.
Here's an example: yesterday was the first day of school for my son. This is his second year in the public school system. Just like the first day of last year, my son's father called the school and told them I have enrolled my son under false pretenses (I don't know what that means), threatening to sue the school, the principal, and the district.
Last year, I got really upset about the scene he made - I envisioned him dragging me back into court, giving a judge another chance to take my son away from me. I literally began plotting strategy for a hearing that never took place.
I didn't enjoy it any more this year: I apologized to the school administration and filed his bizarre e-mails in the stack I've had for years now. What's different is that I recognize that he is the same size as me in the eyes of God. The same laws of nature apply to him - if they didn't, they would be called The Laws of Nature Except for Evan J. So this year I'll do some things differently:
I won't throw gas on grill when there's nothing to cook. Because we both answer to Nature's Law, I do not need to get drawn into a verbal pissing match with him. It does no good and wastes precious moments from my life - I didn't divorce him to keep fighting with him!
Get correct perspective. Most human behavior has a pattern, and he is no exception. He sends all parties involved ugly threatening e-mails and letters, demanding that everyone do his bizarre bidding. No one responds, and then one day, it stops like a hurricane losing steam. There will be another soon, but they always pass without any real incident.
Adjust my expectations. I have a court order directing my legal obligations in raising my son, and I obey that court order. He has not. Therefore, it is a reasonable assumption that he will continue to disobey. It is unreasonable to think that one day after 45 years of societal narcissism, he will say to himself, "Hmmm... maybe I should be of service to others, rather than a blight on my community? I'll start by ceasing to harass my ex-wife."
Embrace the worst-case scenario. The worst-case scenario is that Evan and I will end up before the original judge again over less than a year's worth of custody, and I can show that I have obeyed every letter of his order, and then show him the stack of e-mailed rants (which I affectionately call the Book of Crazy) and his failure to pay child support. Unpleasant? Yes. But nothing I couldn't handle.
Use same mental energy for something constructive. I turn the mental power I would have misused worrying to keeping documentation of all of this, while working on my ability to stay calm and nonplussed by these outbursts (which isn't easy). Keeping my side of the street clean isn't always easy, but it always rewards us.
Sometimes I think Dale Carnegie might have been one of us!
Monday, August 25, 2008
Friday, August 22, 2008
Few advertising taglines rouse emotion in me like "Please drink responsibly". This is always muttered at the end of an ad featuring vogue-magazine-urbanites sipping the latest mixed drinks. Everyone is beautiful, rich and happy. Like all advertisements, the implication is the same: if you buy our product, you will be beautiful, rich and happy too.
Booze companies are not legally required to include "please drink responsibly" in their advertising, but most do in order to try to prevent lawsuits when their consumers get a little too beautiful, rich and happy.
I very much wanted to drink responsibly, and I tried everything to master this concept. I tried:
1) Only drinking certain types of alcohol (only the liquid kind)
2) Limiting myself to one drink per hour - lots of clock watching ensued, until I learned to limit myself to 1 quart per hour.
3) Self-hypnosis CDs - yes, I'll admit it. I spent almost $100 on a series of CDs in which a very calming female voice informed me as I passed out each night that I prefer water, tea or juice. After about 4 or 5 nights of this, I had powerful urges to drink my vodka with juice instead of straight - that's all that got me.
4) The vitamin & mineral plan - there is a book still dominating the addiction/recovery category at Amazon.com entitled "7 Weeks To Sobriety". The idea is that alcoholics are deficient in certain vitamins and minerals. I purchased an obscene amount of pills at my local Whole Foods Market (plus a case of hard cider), and over the next few weeks had the most beautiful hair, skin and nails I've had in years. I was too drunk to enjoy them though.
Only through the 12 steps and participation in the program have I gotten sober. I have already performed the BB's experiment of trying "some controlled drinking" and it didn't work. That "please drink responsibly" admonishment is targeted at people who drink like me, and the irony is, I can't drink responsibly!
While researching alcoholism, I have read about the "controlled drinking movement". These are folks who feel that they have moved from problem drinking to moderate, social drinking. Most controlled drinking websites and literature I have read are quite hostile towards A.A., disparaging the concepts that one might be powerless over alcohol and might find relief in a Higher Power's help.
No reciprocal resentment here: if you can control your drinking, I say congratulations! Members of any 12-step program should only seek to be helpful to others who might suffer as we did, not to recruit new members like some Rotary Club for drunks. When a newcomer walks in, I am not trying to sell her anything. Your way of living can be vastly different from mine, and maybe your way of drinking can be too - that's not for me to judge.
Posted by M at 8:37 AM
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
There's this billboard between Hillsboro and Temple I am subjected to several times a month while transporting my son for his visits with his father, advertising beer with raspberry flavoring in it. The untreated alcoholic in me (whom I refer to as Britney - got everything in the world, but acting totally crazy) reads that billboard and thinks "Mmmm...raspberry... that would count as a serving of fruit, right?"
Personally, I think everyone in the Program experiences urges to drink, regardless of how long one's been sober. The BB says I have "a daily reprieve based on my spiritual condition", which means that the urge can strike at any time. Here's what I've learned to do when the urge hits:
1) Pray to my HP. Specifically, when I see the Billboard From Hell, I say to myself "Wow, Lord, I am still in as much danger today as I was back then! Please help me."
2) Tell somebody as soon as possible, preferably another alcoholic. It's my experience that cravings fester when I keep them private. I call my sponsor, any of my friends in the Program, somebody I really don't know very well in the program, whoever. I said I would go to any length for victory over alcohol.
3) Take care of any hungry/angry/lonely/tired issues. If I'm hungry, I need to eat, and I believe in eating something comforting at these moments (there's another program for those of you that get nervous about eating - I'm an alcoholic, and if staying sober means I eat my way through a whole bag of M&Ms, so be it). If I'm tired, I need to rest as soon as practically possible. If I am lonely or angry, contacting another alcoholic will do the trick if I am willing to talk about those issues.
4) Get busy. Idle hands are the devil's playground, and my idle mind is Jim Beam's playground! I get a project, whether it's cleaning the house, taking a class, putting in some extra effort at work or doing service work around the club.5) Wait for this storm to pass before exposing yourself unnecessarily to booze. Yes, the BB says that I can go anywhere if I have a legitamate social or business reason for going to a bar, boozing party, etc. But it also reads "Go or stay away, whichever seems best. But be sure you are on solid spiritual ground before you start and that your motive in going is thoroughly good. Do not think of what you will get out of the occasion. Think of what you can bring to it. But if you are shaky, you had better work with another alcoholic instead!" On billboard days, I do not go places where alcohol is served without someone in the Program.
6) Remember that I'm staying sober today only. Tomorrow isn't here yet, so I don't need to freak myself out with thoughts of never drinking again. I only need to keep it together today (and I can shorten today by going to bed early!).
This isn't the most original post you'll ever read - it's basically what you would find in this FANTASTIC book published by AA Services.
But I hope it helps!
Monday, August 18, 2008
Last week, I spoke with the mother of one of my clients, a 15-year-old who got a curfew violation. Client was a freshly-scrubbed, good-girl type of kid, and mom looked like the type of parent who would raise such a child. I asked mom what Client was doing out so late without a parent.
Mom told me while fighting back tears that Client met a 23-year-old male on Myspace who lured her out of the house to meet with him because he "just needed someone to talk to" (mandatory eye roll goes here). Mom wasn't too happy that Client snuck out of the house, but she was understandably elated when the police brought Client home and had 23-y-o in custody. God only knows what could have happened had those officiers not pulled up to a parked pickup truck in the middle of nowhere when they did. 23-y-o now sits in the county jail, and may very well end this year as a registered sex offender.
With us adults, nobody's going to jail - not for going out with someone much older than ourselves, anyway. But we are booking ourselves a whole litany of issues once the age difference gets into the double-digits.
It seems so hip when the celebrities do it, doesn't it? I can't pick up a women's magazine that doesn't laud Demi Moore for hooking up with Ashton Kutcher. But it's important to note that Demi Moore is worth, at last estimate, $50 million dollars. She does not have to go to work everyday. She does not see retirement looming on the horizon and think "Damn - better get to savin' some cash so I don't end up greating people at Walmart!" When she had small children, someone did the unpleasant stuff for her. She's had an estimated $600,000 worth of plastic surgery, and can easily afford to keep going.
But all of us non-celebs deal with reality, and the reality is that it's not always going to be smooth sailing for Older and Younger when they somehow hook up. Here's just a few of the items you have to look forward to:
1) Older is who he is by now. The older we get, the less likely we are to dramatically change our lifestyles. If I'm fifty years old and I'm in debt up to my eyeballs or have a long history of employment or legal problems, that's more than likely how it's going to be, and Younger needs to accept that.
2) Younger can still be anything she wants to be. This is the converse of #1. Younger typically has a world of career and educational opportunities out there. It's difficult for Older to estimate where life may take Younger, and Older needs to accept that.
3) Both need to get clear about having children. Younger and Older should be clear with each other about the concept of having children. When Older is male, this is typically a matter of whether the couple wants children, since men are fertile most of their lives. However, when Older is female, this is a physical issue. Conceiving becomes difficult after 40 (assuming Older is healthy. Smoking, poor diet and other poor health habits make this even more difficult). After age 45, half of pregnancies end in miscarriage. Menopause typically begains at 50. If this couple wants children, they need to save for the estimated $5,000 to $40,000 needed to adopt (and that's per child).
4) Jealousy and insecurity will be a much bigger deal. Older is always going to be insecure about the fact that he's, well, older. Younger needs to get certain phrases out of her vocabulary, such as "for your age" and "back in your day". Youngers should also not bring home things they feel might be helpful to Older, such as wrinkle cream, Viagra, hearing aid batteries, or disposable undergarments. Motive doesn't matter there - that's just an instant arguement.
5) Then there's money. If Older is financially successful, she's going to bankroll Younger to some degree. If she's not, Younger needs to be prepared to support Older through the most expensive years of life: retired from work, but still need to eat and take care of these mounting medical bills.
6) Ewwww..... If the age difference is greater than ten years, people are going to notice, and many will be creeped out by it. Rude and wrong, but true. Both need to prepare themselves emotionally for some social rejection, especially if they are into PDA. Anyone want to see the couple in the picture above get down? I rest my case.
Oh and, in the interest of disclosure, there is a 2.5 year age difference between BF and me. We are both pretty much who we're going to be, we have all the children we want, and we both fear greeting people at Walmart one day.
Friday, August 15, 2008
We are almost always in collision with something or somebody, even though our motives are good. Most people try to live by self-propulsion. Each person is like an actor who wants to run the whole show; is forever trying to arrange the lights, the ballet, the scenery and the rest of the players in his own way. If his arrangements would only stay put, if only people would do as he wished, the show would be great. Everybody, including himself, would be pleased. Life would be wonderful.
Once I got sober, I realized that trying to force my will on others is a lot of work, and never truly works. I wasn't too sure what the alternative was, but since I was willing to go to any lengths to get sober, I decided to experiment with life and try not telling every blessed soul what to do.
Here's an example: today I received an e-mail from my soon-to-be-ex-husband about whether or not I should take the washer and dryer with me when I move. Naturally, I think I should, he thinks I shouldn't. Here's an exerpt from his message:
"I also need to know that you will be dropping off the keys to my lawyer after you have moved out.... and until we are totally settled with everything and what is yours and what is mine.... the washer and dryer need to stay there..... "
I got the word "need" out of my vocabulary except when it's really, well, needed (I just love that sentence!! Get thee to a meeting!). "Needs" are things we literally can't live without, such as air, food, water, shelter, etc. My ex clearly wants the keys and the appliances, but no one is going to die if he doesn't get them.
Semantics? Not in terms of sobriety. As a recovering alcoholic, I need to be very careful with the difference between my needs and my wants as they relate to others, and here's why:
1) Overstating my wants as needs helps others see me as dishonest and manipulative. If I say "I want the appliances to stay there until we've worked this out", that's a truthful statement by any standard. Telling someone that they need to stay there just isn't true on any level. People don't like untruth: Is it not evident to all the rest of the players that these are the things he wants? And do not his actions make each of them wish to retaliate, snatching all they can get out of the show? Is he not, even in his best moments, a producer of confusion rather than harmony?
2) Overstating my wants as needs skews the real importance of the issue. Words are powerful. Most of us choose to introduce ourselves in meetings as alcoholics not because others might be confused about why we're there, but because we need to remind ourselves daily of our condition (occasionally I see someone prooftext the Big Book and pompously announce that that Big Book doesn't require that they introduce themselves as such. Technically that's true, but I'm checking my watch to see how long it takes you to get your drink on.).
I don't need this particular set of appliances. Let's face it, I can get a new set (actually, I've been lusting over the dryers with the new steam-clean settings). However, I don't want to get a new set. I want this set. In my reply, I state this exactly that way. It keeps the issue at hand right-sized in my own mind.
3) Overstating my wants as needs eliminates my HP from the equation. If I'm not careful here, I may start thinking that my soon-to-be-ex is the source of all clean laundry in the universe, that my son and I will be pounding our clothes against rocks in some creek somewhere if he doesn't "allow" me to take the appliances. If I get mired in a warr of words over this, I'm basically saying "Oh David, Great God of Rinse Cycle, how dare you smite me??"
When I did my 4th step, I recognized that my needs are not met by other people, but by God. I don't think it's overstating that case to say that I need some washer & dryer from somewhere. It is God's determination where that comes from. This takes him off the psychological "hook" for me. Now of course I don't like debating all this stuff, but it passes, and I need to not develop a resentment from it.
Now some reader out there is thinking, "But M, he's trying to screw you!" Well, maybe he is (finally), but that's not the point. Other people are going to disappoint me in this life, even though I am trying to stay sober. I don't get some sort of pass on assholes because I like alcohol too much. I have to stay sober in spite of what life presents me.
And that, by the way, is an appropriate use of the phrase "have to".
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Tonight's topic at the meeting was basically the non-Big-Book concept of the Pink Cloud. Jonathan Huttner describes this as "a period of time where the addict or alcoholic experiences a reprieve from the struggles associated with early recovery. These struggles are generally associated with the feelings of depression, anger, resentment, self pity and the realization of where their drug addiction or alcoholism has taken them.Upon experiencing this phenomenon for the first time, the addict or alcoholic is understandably excited. They begin to believe they now "hold the key" to their recovery."
I'll admit that I'm becoming a Big Book thumper, but I don't really have a problem with the concept of the Pink Cloud, as long as those of us with some time share with newcomers that it's temporary. In fact, I say float away on your little cloud, strumming your little Big Book harp as long as you keep some things in the back of your clearing mind ...
1) Women can't remember accurately the pain of childbirth. This allows us to want to continue to reproduce (if we did remember the human race would have died out years ago). In the same way, getting sober is work. The Pink Cloud helps us plow through it. This is a time to get some good habits. Harness the energy you have to go to at least one meeting a day, read the Big Book, get a sponsor, and actually call the sponsor.
2) The feelings you are experiencing are the result of your right action of putting down the booze. Once we do that, many bad things cease (I no longer wreck cars, drunk-dial people, go to work hungover, wonder what I said/did, etc.) and good things invariably happen (my family is pleased, job is going great, health is improved, etc.). It's easy to overgeneralize and assume I feel so good because of the good things that are happening to me and forget that the good things come from sobriety.
3) The bible says that "a friend reveals while an enemy multiplies kisses". When an oldtimer tells you that you don't know shit, s/he is telling you that because it's true, and you stand a better chance of staying sober once you accept it. I don't run around telling people that I'm going "to love you until you can love yourself" because I loved myself a little too much when I came in. I want to press the instant gratification button as often as possible. Therefore, when something hurts, I assume it's bad - a good rule of thumb for anything with blades, not so good for getting sober. One day the Pink Cloud ends, and you will have to decide whether you're going to keep doing this thing. The truth may piss you off, but it will also set you free.
4) The outside world isn't going to give you a tickertape parade for staying sober. This is not good news, but it's the truth. Therefore, I need to anchor my sobriety to a Higher Power that can't be removed from my life. The Big Book says "job or no job, wife or no wife" for a reason. Life still happens, whether I'm sober or not. If my HP is a man, a job, a car, or any other external thing, I'm in major trouble one day.
Now playing: Kill Bill Vol 1 - Battle Without Honor or Humanity
Monday, August 11, 2008
I started to post about the boring-but-necessary things to remember for anyone who might read this mostly-recovery-related blog (ex: I donot speak for any 12-step program, I will not be using my full name here, etc.) when I came across this supremely awesome warning label generator!http://www.warninglabelgenerator.com/
Said everything I needed to say in a wry, attention-getting way and for free! Check it out!
Of course, if you are a truly toxic sociopath in dire need of a warning label, you will in no way show any interest in this.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
I started blogging a while back on MySpace, and to my surprise, it felt good - kind of a venting process. Then a few days ago I came across the blog One Sober Alcoholic, and she really inspired me to write something more global about my path of recovery from alcoholism. And imagine how much great sharing I'm missing by not reading a little recovery material in the blogosphere!
As happy destiny would have it, the night I write my first post, I am so tired I am about to fall down. Time to indulge in a rarely-practiced ritual for me, which is zone out in front of the T.V. Hopefully I will have deep thoughts tomorrow ...
Posted by M at 7:22 PM