Experiencing LIFE

I have been stalking plants in my neighborhood. Daily stalking, mainly through walks, though sometimes I drive, to check out the gardens of the people living in my neighborhood. I am particularly interested in a few hydrangeas living close by. Those sexy beasts. My husband thinks I have gone slightly mad, and I do not completely disagree. He spends his days and nights dreaming of Vespa scooters, so we are a perfect pair, really. A good match with our slightly obsessive temperaments in regards to hobbies. I feel open enough with him to share my obsessions, in part due to the fact that he’s been there during my struggle with booze. So, I am an ex-boozer and plant enthusiast (stalker). Nice to meet you.

Life seems different to me now. When I take my daily walk to visit my plant friends, listening to the sweet and humorous sounds of my son’s new words bubbling up from the stroller in front of me, I notice the vast quantities of life around me. There is life everywhere and it all seems so new to me now. Where was all of this life before? How did I miss it? We live in a wild place, in a small town near a large forest, and we are surrounded by wild things. I stop and look up at the trees almost every day. “Wow. That is an amazing tree,” I say to myself, “How did I never notice how tall? How green? How old? Those leaves. Wow.”

I did notice, of course, in my own way. The trees were there, the people were there, the animals were there, and the life was there. It’s just that I was stuck inside of my sad drinking life- which is what it is to me now. I accept it, surrender to it, and don’t condemn myself for it, but it was sad to be so damn sad all the time. I spent the majority of my precious time feeling sorry for myself, while numbing the life that was all around me, and inside me, and a part of me and everything else. I was keeping myself in the dark instead of allowing myself to wake up and see the light. But I did see the light sometimes. I noticed the beauty of the world around me at times. Enough to eventually wake up, realize there is more out there, and quit drinking.

Life is breathtakingly beautiful at times. Crushing in the sweetest way possible. And sometimes crushing in a not-so-sweet way. It isn’t always easy to feel this much more of every feeling than I used to. But I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Grey Areas

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My thinking is becoming less black and white than it used to be- I both think and hope this is true. I am noticing the grey areas, and actually feel comfortable living there some of the time. I realize now that the black and white thinking that I was doing was childlike, probably because I never completely moved on from my childhood. I notice when I overreact to things, even if I am unable to completely stop myself from doing it. Progress, progress, progress. My sobriety is trudging along, making small changes in me, as long as I stick to the plan.

I must stick to the recovery plan that I constructed many months ago because it is still working. The pillars of prayer and gratitude keep me going. I am not going to attempt to live without them, probably ever again in my whole life, because it is too damn scary to contemplate drinking at this point. I just don’t want to go through that again, you know? The months of mental and physical self-harm leading up to the actual torturous quitting process. No thanks. I remember that whenever I am tempted to drink, which isn’t too often these days. The cravings come out of the blue and surprise me sometimes, or I feel a bit flat and bored, but nothing I can’t handle pretty easily. I remind myself that every single day is only twenty-four hours, and I can live through pretty much anything for twenty-four hours. After all, tomorrow is another day. Thank you, Scarlett O’Hara. I have loved her since I was twelve.

It is true that life goes on without drinking. I am slowly venturing out into the real world more and more, and handling it without experiencing crippling anxiety. I still feel anxious in new settings, but I am venturing out because I know it will get easier over time, and I am able to regulate my anxiety once again. I have a few events coming up where drinking will be happening, and I am curious to see how they go. I think I will be able to handle them a zillion times better than I did six months ago, but I will still have a plan to leave if I need to. My sobriety comes first, because it allows me to have everything else. It deserves to be treated with care and respect.

Recovery is real, people. Many of you know this, but if you are doubtful I am one more voice to tell you that it does get better. xoxo

Liar Liar

I realized yesterday that I sometimes still lie and manipulate even though I am sober. The scary part is that I didn’t realize I was doing it at the time. I am not sure how to be 100% honest with myself…. I thought I WAS being honest with myself and doing the right thing. I am trying to do better at life- be a better person- but this realization made me feel pretty shitty.

What do I do about this? How do I get better at seeing my blind spots? I am not sure. Practice, maybe? Weed them out one by one until they are all gone? Try to do no harm in my everyday life? Think twice before making any moves? Yes to all of it. I need to be more careful and mindful of my thoughts and actions and how they affect the world around me. Alcoholics are selfish, and I am an alcoholic. Fuck, shit, and balls.

Or maybe this is good. I am moving to a new level where I can see things more clearly (again). I didn’t used to be capable of seeing these things about myself, and now I can. THIS IS A GOOD THING. This is not an excuse to drink, it is a sign that I am continuing to grow and change. There are growing pains along the way, of course.

It comes down to self-acceptance. I don’t like these shadowy parts of myself, but they exist. They have had years of practice and they will win sometimes. I have to accept that they are a part of me to truly move forward and put them behind me.

“Be what you are. This is the first step towards becoming better than you are.” – J. C. Hare & A. W. Hare

Get Out of The Way, Me

I was doing some reading yesterday, and I came across a motivational idea in the book Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy. WHAT IF I could give up the path of struggle and instead choose the path of joy?

Hmm. My mind immediately went to A) sounds kinda hokey B) How is that even possible? C) Well, that might be cool. I HAVE struggled a lot already in my life. D) Hell yeah! I’m doin’ it!

Why am I always waiting for the other shoe to drop? Thinking about the past, worrying about the future, not enjoying the present. Why does everything have to involve so much pain?

Maybe it doesn’t. Maybe I can choose. I was looking into this idea and I found this quote. I pretty much love it.

“There are two ways of approaching life. The first is coping and the second is challenging to change a situation. The situation is the same but the results are different. Coping is linked to the past and our past knowledge and experiences. It is a conservative attitude, limited, restricted, passive, defensive, dependent. There is no vision and no hope. This is not Buddhism. Buddhism is about change. Changing ourselves, society and humanity for good. The way to change is determination based on wisdom. Change is a projection towards the future. It is positive, creative, independent, attacking and seeking. It is an attitude of great hope and vision. Coping is the past projecting to the present. Changing is the present projecting to the future. We can choose. The difference between ordinary and great lives is up to us.” -Kazuo Fujii, Buddhist Leader

Instead of looking for the downside I can look for the opportunity in each situation. I can let go of drama. I don’t have to live my life simply reacting to things based upon my past. I can fully embrace the present. Life does not have to be a constant struggle.

I think it will require some work, but the seeds are planted. I choose joy… and I can totally dig it.

Loving Kindness

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Today my goal is to start a practice of loving kindness. I think many alcoholics/addicts can be hard on themselves; I know that I beat myself up sometimes for not doing enough/doing too much/being altogether unworthy/etc. Loving kindness means that you are giving yourself the gift of unconditional positive regard. You are viewing yourself from a detached point of view, and treating yourself like the perfect grandmother-figure would treat you in a perfect world (that’s my perspective of it, at least). You can also extend these feelings and thoughts to others, or the whole world, the entire universe, on and on.

Here is a loving kindness meditation if you are interested in doing it, too! There are many versions of this meditation, but I like this one for right now. Simply sit in a comfortable position and focus on your breath for a few moments. Repeat the following phrases as many times as you want. I will have to read them out loud until I can memorize them. No pressure, though. The goal is to create more happiness and peace in your life, not to create stress.

May I be happy, well, and at peace.
May I be open to things just as they are.
May I experience the world opening to me just as I am.
May I welcome whatever arises.

 

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