Disease Demon Waiting

I had a very perplexing past 24-48 hours. Yesterday was Thursday. Thursday is when I meet with my sponsor, we read from the ‘big book’ and we go to our ‘big book’ meeting following. I usually love Thursdays. They are the tail-end of the week and get me ready for the weekend. Thursdays also use to be a drinking night. Usually would start my long weekend of alcoholic nights and hungover days. I haven’t really correlated Thursdays with drinking in a very long time. In fact, our group outings from work always called them “Thirsty Thursdays” or “Book Club” nights.

Mood observation #1: Not going out and drinking on a Thursday night doesn’t bother me at all.

It is also a special night because tonight my sponsor and I were finishing Step One.

“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable.”

So let’s see how the previous hours went, shall we?  Wednesday evening into Thursday morning, I had a drinking dream. This one was different than others. In this one, my attitude was more nonchalant. It wasn’t my usual ‘DGAF’ attitude that goes along with the post-drinking shame and guilt dream. This one was more conscious. I had some drinks, they happened and I matter of fact felt ‘there that is.’ No more, no less. I didn’t wake up disturbed or feeling scared like I have been. Prior, those drinking dreams would awaken me with so much fear of relapse. This time, it had no outcome. I didn’t recall the dream either until later in the day of Thursday. (Remember, we are still on yesterday, which was Thursday)

So Thursday was fairly uneventful in the morning. Then the weight of life started to bit by bit unravel.

Mood observation #2: 

  • Son is stressing me out; worried about his mental being, his behaviors
  • Husband is stressing me out; worried about his mental being, his behaviors
  • Colleague at work tells me he feels shame and guilt about drinking evening prior (what am I to do? continue to remain silent)
  • Work is boring AF lately, need a challenge
  • Sickness this week is making me crabby and additionally uninterested in work, this too shall pass

I decided to head out early and get some errands done before my sponsor meeting and then out of the blue I felt like I SHOULD HAVE A DRINK. A beer. A glass of wine.

Mood observation #3:

  • I have no physical cravings, no shuddering crept upon me to remind me
  • I have no mental obsessions rattling around my brain, I can almost play the tape through
  • Physically and mentally I am ODDLY calm and just like my dream in a state of “matter of fact” outward looking ‘I SHOULD HAVE A DRINK’
  • No emotion, no feeling. Just walking through my errands.

What I did next was even odder. I grabbed dinner at a pub which I am ought to do from time to time on my way to meetings. I ordered my usual seltzer and lemon, steak and asparagus. I watched others drink and I felt NOTHING. Absolutely nothing. I put myself in a dangerous situation knowing that something inside me physically and mentally had changed about my fear and obsession around alcohol.

Mood observation #4:

  • Began to get weepy and sad

As I sat down to think about what Step One meant to me I started to feel as if I had surrendered. This was as real as it was going to get. I identified that the sneaky little demon alcohol (my disease) was lurking and sitting and waiting for me to fail. It gave me an out. It said, ‘how are you going to deal with all of this stuff without me?’ It took away my fear and my obsession and gave me complacency. In that complacency, my mind, though aware of my disease could simply dismiss it and go on and drink as if my journey was complete. demon

So it has to be said. I recognize that I will always have my demon sitting and waiting. The work of a good program is critical. So I walked through my sad and weepy, had a good meeting and rested. Without my understanding of this Step One and surrendering, I would be drinking again today.

Mood observation Friday:

Confident.

 

 

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Never A Normal Drinker, Obsession

Throughout this blog there will be times I focus on 12-step recovery as taught to us in AA and through sponsorship. This isn’t meant to be preachy as to try and influence any readers, it is to continue to share my experience and relate it to life and how I recover. This is one of my tools of recovery and how I choose to work on my sober life.

This is also why AA post are placed in a category of them own. To differentiate the topic and where it comes from.

Currently, I am in my 5th month of sobriety. It is going pretty well. I have a sponsor who I started with a few weeks before the New Year. What she has is knowledge. I need a teacher and she is available to be just that. Lately we have been talking through There Is A Solution, the Spiritual Experience and More About Alcoholism. Some of the most amazing pieces of alcoholic understanding are in this section. We haven’t even begun the work yet.

What stood out for me the most is the following excerpts:

  • The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker.

Notice that I highlight obsession and abnormal. If I were a normal drinking, I wouldn’t obsess over it. I wouldn’t have sat day in and day out thinking the following thoughts:

  • Maybe if I just drink on weekends
  • Maybe if I change to a different type of alcohol
  • Maybe just one
  • Maybe I can moderate, there is an app for that!

We all know this list. It goes on and on. There is even a paragraph on just that. All of the “tries” we did as alcoholics to avoid the truth of our disease – that we were powerless over it.  This is also the self-deception of experimentation. Now, this is one of the BEST paragraphs, we could spend hours on just this ONE. It is actually italicized in the big book so you can imagine in mine, it has a big star next to it. It goes like this:

The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink. Our so called will power becomes practically nonexistent. We are unable, at certain times, to bring into out consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink.

Let me try and break down the psyche of my experience as it relates to this paragraph line by line.

The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink.

  • I look at this as the end result of the “experiment” and then our inevitable surrender to booze. When booze becomes OUR higher power we are no longer in control of our lives so who gives any hoot at this point what we drink. You could literally put a bottle of rot-gut shit wine in front of me and I would drink it. I “use to” say I didn’t drink hard alcohol because I didn’t tolerate it well. (guffaw, guffaw) Put a bottle of whiskey in front of me and I will show you something nasty but I will drink it. 

Our so called will power becomes practically nonexistent.

  • What about the choice to stop drinking alcohol? Can I do it with ‘will power’ alone? People do it! People who aren’t alcoholics! We don’t understand them because we don’t understand why WE have this dis-ease and not them. Why us?

We are unable, at certain times, to bring into out consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation even a week or a month ago.

  • This DEFINES for me how my brain would brainwash itself before picking up the first drink within days and sometimes hours of being drunk and/or doing something humiliating (or questionable) or worse. Here are some examples of the conversation in my brain:
  • Driving home from work, ‘If I stop at the liquor store to buy their delicious bread and cheese then I can just grab a nice bottle of wine.’ By the way, I thought about this from about 12pm onward until I left work.
  • Driving home from work, ‘I know my husband will be upset with me if I drink again tonight but he isn’t getting home for a while so maybe dinner, a couple drinks…’ Nowhere in this dialogue would I say to myself ‘maybe I can just go pick up my son and go straight home and enjoy a quiet night’ the dialogue would control my brain in one direction only ‘how am I going to get some alcohol into my body as fast as I can’ STOP. There was ZERO playing through the tapes. What is going to happen that happens every time I do this. It is a game. I would go to dinner and down 2 glasses of wine in approximately 30-40 minutes. I usually would have to hold the 1st one with two hands until the sip got in. The shakes would stop. Nothing mattered. My brain and emotions were controlled by alcohol. Auto-pilot always kicked in and the vicious cycle would ensue.
  • I forgot what I did last week. The shame, guilt and fear would disappear and my friend – let’s call him ‘boozy bob’ would show up to claim his space. I would promise over and over that it would never happen again. I would do things differently. Just like that drive home fighting the urge to drink and losing the mental battle, I would try and sip a drink or pace myself at parties and it was game over. After a point you couldn’t refill my glass fast enough.

We are without defense against the first drink.

  • One sip. This past Friday I was feeling down. I wanted to drink again. Badly. I wanted to hold a margarita. Throw down a tequila shot and feel it burn against my sad, sore throat. (Yes, sickness is a trigger for me) That led to wine thoughts, beer thoughts. I realized I had exposed myself to some situations that I would have been better off avoiding. When I exclaimed that I wanted to drink, the feeling was real and the first in a long time. It would have been so easy. That is the terrifying part.

I am defenseless against the first drink. I will never be a normal drinker. Not today, not tomorrow, not a year from now, not in the nursing home.  It is just that simple. Cheers.

 

 

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Spiritual Hangovers and Ex-ploding Neural Pathways

I am on the countdown to 2016 and currently at 149 days of sobriety. I am also experiencing my very first week off without alcohol during the winter. You might be thinking to yourself, am I going to be counting every fractal of time against when I drank? I suspect that the answer is yes. At least it is what I see around me and have heard. It isn’t coincidence that us alcoholics tend to have similar experiences in activity and when we  recover. I see a lot of ‘firsts’ in my communities whether it be AA, online groups, etc. Those ‘firsts’ are milestones to remind us that we CAN do something we did in the past sober. Case in point. My Christmas Eve EXPERIENCE.

Upon the arrival of Christmas Eve, aside from the absence of the traditional stocking up of wine and beer, I was feeling pretty darn good. I had everything ready to go. The only thing I had to do was get through the evening of visitors and cross fingers that my husband and BIL didn’t bicker. (or anyone else for that matter) What happened next was totally unexpected. Once people arrived and BIL with (2) puppies in tow – those neural pathways that are suppose to be healing started to get itchy. They started to explode and my brain went into another dimension. warning-brain-explosion-zoneI could NOT COPE with the feelings and noise and activity. It isn’t the first time I have been amongst people but I turned into an anxious mess and had to either a) clean and cook or b) take walks up to my airy bedroom. This was bad but I kept telling myself, “I don’t care if they think I am weird, look pissy, am antisocial, I need to take care of me.” Now thankfully I was able to converse just fine and it was a fine evening but I could very distinctly remember that if I had been drinking I could have so easily blocked everything out. I would have been able to have drunken conversations with my in-laws and I would have been blah blah blah all the way to bed. This is where the dis-ease takes hold. I see how relapse is an option at these points of anxiety and weakness. Once you begin to feel ‘those’ feelings and do not reach out for help, it can be game over. Needless to say, I also was aiming to go to an ‘alcathon (AA open speaker meetings run 48 hours / holiday times).’ I got too tired and fell asleep. The next day was 200x better and I believe those neural pathways are still healing just fine.

The rest of the days up until today have more or less been me just being present with me. Nothing more and nothing less. I am not pushing myself to do anything this week like take on a new house task, etc…I am doing a lot of self-care and just taking each moment as it is. I also notice I slip into uneasy funks of depression or what I refer to as ‘the blues.’ I know they will pass. One meeting I went to opened my eyes to what someone referred to as “emotional hangover.” As soon as they said that it was like ‘yesssss.’ As good as meetings can be and helpful, I feel drained. I suspect for me that it is living in sobriety and recovery is bringing forth a lot of reflection more so as I DO navigate the memories of drunken experience and relate them to now. I must continue to have faith that a more exuberant and joyful/peaceful person is lurking and coming out someday. Today, spiritually I feel as if I am a bit soul sucked and I keep thinking how much I really hate people. I believe this feeling comes from the emotional and physical drain that people can place on ourselves without our wanting. It isn’t purposeful either. It is being in life and it can bear down for sensitive types like myself. Either way, I am not picking up a drink and it is OK for today.

 

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Angels and Ghosts Persistant Spiritual Support

It is Christmas Eve. It is also the first holiday I will be completely sober. The scary thing is that my stress level though high, isn’t what is driving me to want to take down some booze. It is the damn sinus issues I am having that could counteract the medicines to then calm me down enough to blah blah blah. I will not drink but damn it would be better than this Sudafed / coffee brain I am battling! This year I was thinking about what I am most grateful for in 2015. I am 100% grateful that through the existence of a higher power and the realization that I am powerless over my addictions that this is the YEAR I found sobriety. Another beautiful gift that I found myself this Christmas is the angel from my childhood. The picture is of a vintage, electric angel from the 1950s that my Grandmother and Mother had by my side while I slept every Christmas when I was little. I would stare at it.image1

It is one of the few childhood memories I have that calmed me. I went on a quest to find her with few details I had because sadly the one I had ended up going to the regions of the unknown. (Likely broken and thrown away) So, I found her this Autumn on a rare eBay search. There are no coincidence in sobriety. I needed to find her. When I get stressed today, I will just take my crazy ass over to her and have a talk.

Now, what about angels and ghosts that have appeared in my life whether through actual feelings or just awareness? Well, when I was very young, I picked up piano. I was a classical pianist with the “gift” of performance. This means, I wasn’t very technically accurate but I could perform well. Well enough to get me through 4 years of college recitals and some tough critics. Amazingly enough, my draw to the piano was rather sudden. I wasn’t seeking it out, but along the way I desired to play. It wasn’t forced on me as some hobbies or sports tend to be for youngsters. (us parents like to see what our kids are interested in through voluntold experiences) What I found out would rather haunt me for a long time. My grandfather who I never met yet my mom was carrying me before his death could play piano and specifically tarantellas (A lively, whirling southern Italian dance in 6/8 time, once thought to be a remedy for tarantism) by ear. This is the same grandfather that was a pretty raging alcoholic. Coincidence? Unsure. All I knew is that when I played and my love for music sometimes feels channeled from some other spirit. Was my alcoholism too? This is where I depart from my medical understanding of my dis-ease to a more spiritual balance.

Now, if that ghost of the past influenced me, I would not know. I have never felt his presence however I was once in my small and scary dorm-like room in the Henry Hudson hotel when I interned in New York. This was an old building built in 1928 that was originally for women and when I lived there it was for old people and interns i.e., temporary housing for college students. It smelled. It was old. There were roaches. The rooms were so small. I shared it with another woman from my school. One night there came a man to the room. An old man. I was dreaming. I don’t remember the details but I recall that it felt like a warning but one of warmth. Now, given the amount of elderly in the building who knows how many had passed. Overall, it was an experience that hallucination or now (and I was not on drugs) it gave me some level of curiosity.

The only other experience that I had that has followed me since was a few years ago. I had recently lost my aunt in a very sad way as she succumbed during heart surgery. I had to travel to the United Kingdom and we had not yet buried her. The flight from Boston to the United Kingdom was long and I hadn’t particularly drank on the flight as I recall so I had no influence other than being tired. We got into the hotel rooms at about 12:00 midnight. Once I figured out the lights and got myself into bed I felt an uneasy presence. Then a hand gently placed itself on my right shoulder. I felt so calm. I didn’t think it was my aunt but the strangest sense of something passing by and just letting me know that it was there was really comforting. I didn’t feel scared.

Since that experience, I look over my right shoulder a lot. It is almost all of the time that I can feel that hand print on my shoulder. It is very odd. Since getting sober it is always there. I hope it guides me whatever it is.

There is no hard and fast research on angels per se that I can find. I do know they are guardians and they can assist us however we choose in my opinion. I also believe in angels on earth. Those selfless and kind people who besidehow-my-guardian-angel-looks-1s ego of self go out of their way
for others.Now, throughout my years of drunken idiocy and putting myself in continuous risk, I always thought I h
ad a guardian angel looking after me. I use to say it as a joke but I tend to believe that I do have familial ghosts and energies that have kept me safe. I do not believe that luck has a lot to do with it. I should have been dead or in jail at least 10x over. It is shameful to think on that. What makes me live and others not be so fortunate? If my purpose is to stay sober and to be alive to help others then that is what I will do. Selflessly.  This Christmas, I am holding onto my angels and my ghosts for perseverance and light into 2016.

 

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Working With a Recovery Coach

Warning: this blog starts right off with a F-bomb to emphasize what some might be thinking. Just putting it out there. 

A fucking recovery coach? Really?

I woke up one day about 5 months ago in a hotel approximately 4am on the floor, fully dressed from the night before sandwiched between the hotel desk and the bottom of the bed. My contact lenses were still on and my pocketbook was somewhere. I am 42 years old, don’t remember how I got on the floor. Blackout scary. So in my drunken haze probably smirked it off albeit I remember the confusion and got properly in my pajamas, cleaned up and went into the comfy bed I should have been in. I brought my phone into bed with me and texted who would be my ‘recovery coach’ for the next couple months. I do not recall what I said but it probably sounded something like ‘I tried moderation, I tried what I thought would work, can we meet’ (which was to remain strong by making myself accountable with family – insert insane laughter now) and just asked for help and from someone who was a 3rd party.

Fast forward to yesterday. I met my former recovery coach to catch up over  tea at the very same cafe we met for the first time.

What was amazing about this particular day is we haven’t been back to this same place since our first meeting. One of the first things that she said was that I looked really good and I didn’t take it as a standard greeting like gesture – I really look good compared to what I did that day. She remembered that first meeting. It was a day after I got back from my trip. I was so scared and I was also eyes wide open ready to do whatever it took to stop the madness of alcoholism. I was also very tired. I was bloated and sunken. I remember seeing her energy and also her kindness and knowledge and was just dumbstruck that someone could be sober and so normal. Yesterday showed me a movie track in rewind of what the past 5 months have been like.

SO now you might be thinking, a fucking ‘recovery coach?’ Those cost so much money! You must be broke or really loaded? You privileged sanctimonious be-atch. NOPE. I cannot divulge any costs obviously but coaches work with all types of people. The treatment I received was not the “glamorized” view you may envision from tabloids or what you may know of ‘celebrity focused rehabs.’ They can adapt to what your state is and go from there. You just might need someone for a few days following you around to get you moving.  Think about recovery of addiction similar as it as to investing in therapy. How hard is it to find therapy? Is there stigma attached to therapy as much as it used to be? I believe they can also take insurance if you don’t fear using your occupations well-being benefits. Think about the cost of getting well. The point is there is an alternative and my goal is to tell you about it so there is more awareness. I didn’t know. Invest in yourself. The return of investment is worth it and the most important thing you will every do – heal.4566d72a-b46d-43f0-88ff-33850fa4dff6_kiem_plantje_sh_73588300_490x330

THIS IS THE WICKED IMPORTANT PART – what is it worth to you to get sober? Why did I need a coach? Well, I couldn’t get to AA (12-step) to save my life. I didn’t know how to walk into a room by myself and I also had ZERO clue about the program. My coach introduced me to the concept. I could take it or leave it. Nothing was ever forced on me (i.e. why 3rd party is good) Coaches have experience.  They know what areas to focus on in getting the mocus-like brain to think about addiction in its physical, spiritual and current state. [Adj. A state of confusion, often referring to the state of mind brought about by detoxification. Derived from “mostly out of focus.”] I couldn’t get myself to focus on anything. When left to my own will I was screwed. SCREWED.I know that one thing that was a positive motivator for me was to send her a message or call her every day. It got me use to connecting and reaching out as part of my learning to adapt to sobriety.

My experience was a God shot. Not everyone gets them or even notices they happened. I found my coach through my husband. He had a friend who he knew could help. He also in his wisdom saw something she had that I needed. This is a similar sentiment that happens in AA. They tell you to find a sponsor who you see something in which you want that they have. Online is also a wonderful place to get group ‘coaching.’ I belong to a fantastic group that just checks in and we stay on top of one another well-being. Listen to podcasts. See my lists on this page. Lots of good places to go. Coaches do move on, sadly they cannot stay as you cannot expect to be dependent on just them. so you learn to network through them as in the previous examples and other avenues they can show you!

I am sharing this information because I want those who may be unfocused or just shy to find help to reach out to anyone who you know might be able to show you a different point of view. This is my experience. I went from feeling like below dirt to letting the sun shine on my face. Everyday I change and everyday grateful. (not kidding – that word is HUGE)

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Sharing Doesn’t Need to be Perfect

How insane can I be?

The reason I started to drink at the age of 18 was because

1. I needed to relax

2. I needed to be social

3. It gave me confidence.

This is typical for lots and lots of college entry students. I was also letting loose from 18 years of being an overachiever empressed upon me by a slightly overbearing parent. (read as: psychotic, controlling, neurotic parent)

I also developed OCD and PTSD as previously noted in my blog. OCD for me was mostly controlling how I worked and accomplished tasks. I always had that knot in my stomach that I had to achieve and get things done. So, in most cases when I work I try to get it right. It might take me some time and many slow days of editing but I always leave happy with my job.

Last evening was a big first for me in sobriety. Learning to be vulnerable, let go of “getting it right” and telling my story. Challenging because there is so much of it and I wanted to make every point relevant. I even warned the audience.

How did I feel sharing? Well, liberated for sure. I felt happier than I thought I would BUT I left feeling so betrayed by the side of me that wants to tell my story in a way that is edited, replayed, practices and complete. That is the sick piece.

So now what?  I guess I can tell my story the way I want and different each time. I suspect I will have years ahead of me to do so. The point is, that through my vulnerability I didn’t have the focus and feeling of control. AND THAT IS OK. This is what it is about. Letting go and letting our higher power guide us. I think I might have done that without even realizing it during the time I was speaking. Yes I was careful and there were pauses and repeats but I did it out of my love and honesty for myself and for others who were listening.

Thankfully, I can just turn all that doubt and ego and recalculations of how I “could have” done a better job at ‘sobriety’ and focus in on my work. At least I know that is one thing that remains the same. Same shit, different day. My story will never change, just the way I tell it and the factoids I choose to randomly select at that moment.

The most important thing for me is a) someone hears something that they needed to hear or identify with and b) someone learns what moving on looks like and where the community lives.

 

 

 

 

 

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Season’s Greetings Stinkin’ Thinkin’ (Possibly Part I)

Gah. Somedays this disease amazes me it its subtle ways of trying to sneak in. Day 134. A day long of touching base on recovery sites, working well and getting my son to swimming. Half way there I think about a drink. It is a mouth watering Bordeaux and it has me transfixed and wanting to be numb. See I am feeling sad inside as I watch my son go through some “kid stuff” and we have to work through it. I was also listening to a podcast that was triggers because the jackpots that some people have hit I never have nor would I wish upon anyone less myself. I am typing this at swimming and I have tears. I just want to disappear and isolate. These moments come on fast and quick for me. A relapse for me would be awful. All the work I have put it and am beginning would find me waking up in the morning so angry and probably crying through it all.

I wonder if I would take that first sip and say “fuck it” and go for the triumvirate beer, wine, shot. I can see that and that is disgusting. I would probably ending up telling the whole bar my woes – which are what? That I am having a “moment” and I need a do-over? Fuck that shit. Meeting tonight and plan to feel better after. Addiction sucks but there is a solution.

The solution is to keep working. I am having a week of firsts and maybe that is a scary prospect. I have the opportunity to possible speak my experience, strength and hope for the first time. Being OCD I think of the several ways to approach it but I know it just had to come from the soul.

The second first is my sponsor. I finally got enough coriagr to find one. We meet for the first time this Thursday. I have been reading and preparing. I got this.

 

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