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.

 

Escapism, Or When is Good Good Enough?

Eating. Watching TV. Playing on the computer. Shopping. Having dessert. Drinking coffee. All of these things can be addictive, so do I need to cut them out of my life completely because I have an ‘addictive personality’? What is normal escapism and what is a problem?

Hmm, my iPad just corrected ‘I’ to ‘PIE’, so maybe there is a problem… 🙂

I am firmly in the camp that it is okay, good, great even, to give myself lots of rewards in early sobriety. Getting sober is hard! I deserve little nice things. So do you.

I don’t want to find myself making excuses for behaviors, though. Or lying to myself about what I am doing. I think that could be a bad road to go down because I used to do that with booze. Honesty is best … no matter what. So yeah, I use the internet as a way to escape and I like to eat dessert because it makes my brain feel less sharp and prickly sometimes. I feel a little giddy and manic when I spend money, so I have to check with myself before making decisions. I am okay with those things (at least for now) because they are not nearly as harmful as alcohol to my body, spirit, soul, relationships, life, etc.

I think it is about balance. I am an all or nothing person, I have realized, and I have to fight that instinct within myself. It is okay to be less than perfect. Heck, I was never anywhere close to perfect, ever. That does not mean that I need to give up and start drinking again. I simply can’t be balanced when it comes to drinking, so complete abstinence is the best, most logical way to go.

I have a hard time knowing what ‘normal’ looks like, but I think I can tell when I am going off the rails into unhealthy or addictive behaviors. You know what else I’ve noticed? Just about everyone else does this type of stuff, too. It’s normal to be imperfect. Phew.

Gaining Understanding Vs. Playing the Victim

My parents are alcoholics. Admitting that is almost as hard as it was to first admit that I am an alcoholic. My mother is an active alcoholic and my father is dry (I think?) but not recovered or in recovery. It is stupidly hard to admit that I grew up with parents who put their addictions before me. I feel so guilty about it, like I am saying that they were bad parents. I still love them even if they WERE bad parents, and feel fiercely protective of that. They did a lot of good things, especially in my early formative years- travel, cultural events, books, extra-curricular activities, family dinners- but our lives gradually grew more and more out of control as I grew up. I adapted the best that I could with my limited skills and abilities, but I really needed more help learning how to navigate the world around me.

Part of my recovery process is learning why I ended up where I did. Gaining knowledge and understanding is one of the main things that drives me. I want to know WHY. Not just about this, but about everything that sparks my interest. In searching for answers I have been reading a lot of literature geared towards adult children of alcoholics (ACoAs). I have found that I fit in with this group better than any other groups I have found (not the support group, just generally). It is so comforting to finally understand why I do some of the things that I do and feel the way that I feel. This article, Adult Children of Alcoholics ACoAs: Qualities and Traits, is so right on. I exhibit almost ALL of the qualities and traits outlined in the article. It is interesting that being an ACoA is comparable to experiencing PTSD, and that it can be triggered by beginning a family of your own. I have felt traumatized, like something BIG was happening in my psyche, since my son was born. It is gradually getting easier and easier, especially with the clarity that comes from sobriety, but I totally identify with that. I am really thankful for this validation. Feeling “off” is the pits.

What do I do with this information now that I have been awakened to it? It is tempting to dive into a blaming, victim role and live there for a time, but I know that isn’t very healthy. I can’t really talk to my parents because they are not ready to face their denial or the ramifications of their actions. My brothers are stuck in an addictive hell that I can’t enter. (The article I referred to has an interesting section on ‘survival guilt’ that is already becoming an issue for me.) I think my husband finds my story increasingly sad as I make further realizations about who I am and where I come from, so I don’t want to heap too much on his plate. I put a lot on his plate anyway, as he is truly my best friend. My good friends have their own lives, struggles and family problems, even though they are always willing to lend an ear. I have decided that what I want, what is best for me, is to find a therapist who is experienced in these matters to help me sort it out. It seems like a big task to do alone, and since part of my family is still stuck in the cycle of addiction, it will be an ongoing struggle. I want to talk to a professional who understands what I am talking about. Also- self-care is where it’s at these days.

I think it is so helpful, regardless of where you are with being sober, to remember that you are not alone. xx

** Writing this post was really hard for me because so many people have had childhood experiences that were much worse. I have been pretty lucky overall, so who am I to complain? I am gradually realizing, however, that I have to tell my story and own my life experiences to truly move past them.

Some Thoughts From Day 54

I feel happy today. Fulfilled. Rested. Organized. It’s really nice. I will take these pink clouds any day of the week, that is for sure. I am 54 days sober today and things are feeling a bit easier. Just a smidge. I humbly take it.

On another note, isn’t is weird how negativity can breed more negativity? Does that happen to you, too? The past few days I was taking care of my sick kiddo, which I wrote about in my last post here. At the same time I had trouble sleeping, even though I was exhausted, because I was thinking about how screwed up my family-of-origin is. WTF? Why were those thoughts coming to me while I had other, more important things to deal with?

I’m not exactly sure why that happens. Any theories? My theory is that negative thoughts get in the cracks of your psyche when you are tired, or stressed, or scared about something else. AA’s idea of HALT comes to mind. (Don’t let yourself get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired). But sometimes it is really hard to avoid feeling tired or stressed or scared because…that’s life. So you just have to put on your big girl pants and deal with feeling shitty feelings and thinking about difficult stuff. At least that’s what I had to do. And you know what? It turned out okay, at least for now.

So, back to the realizations I had about my family-of-origin while staring at the ceiling instead of snoozing. My family was a mess while I was growing up, and they still are in many ways. I always knew this on some level, but I never really wanted to admit it. Alcoholism is rampant amongst us. We lied, enabled, covered up, and worked together to further addictive behaviors for a long time. Some of us still do these things. I learned how to do them as a child.

It’s strange because it seems so obvious and crystal clear to me now, but I genuinely didn’t want to see the truth. I wanted to protect my family from having BIG, BIG problems. “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” I joined them from the moment alcohol first passed my lips. I can’t pretend things are okay anymore, either, and I’m not sure exactly what to do about that yet. For now I will continue to process this new, yet old, knowledge by talking, writing, praying, meditating, and forgiving (or at least trying to).

“It isn’t the things that happen to us in our lives that cause us to suffer, it’s how we relate to the things that happen to us that cause us to suffer.” -Pema Chödrön