Truth & Lies

Leopard-Optical-Illusion
Leopard-Optical-Illusion (Photo credit: The Foo Fighter)

I think too much, and while that usually is a bad thing… today, I was thinking about how when I was active in my addiction and even shortly after I had got clean and sober, I always had this immediacy to lie.  I lied about everything.  I lied even when I did not have to lie!

My disclaimer is this:  In 1996, I suffered a stroke that led to me having a permanent brain injury.  So sometimes, I do not remember things or sometimes I blur fiction with reality. This usually happens if people ask me leading questions.  Instead of asking me:

“Did you give the cassette tape back to Rick?” (involves a yes or no answer)  You might ask me, “What did Rick say when you gave him back the cassette tape?” A question like this leaves me in a state of panic; because I do not remember giving Rick back the cassette tape.

So I start to think hard: Did I give it back?  I remember talking to him about the cassette tape, I remember having the cassette tape when I was in the store, but I do not concretely remember giving it back to Rick.  But, I must have… Why else would someone ask me what he said when I gave it back if I did not give it back?

My defense mechanism kicks in to make me not feel like a total ass and my brain misremembers me giving back the cassette tape.  After all, I was in the store with the cassette tape in my hand and I had just talked to Rick.  But my defense mechanism is wrong, therefore, I still look like an ass.

I am still working on it after 17 years.

When I was full-blown in my addiction, I was also a full-blown liar.  Since I was a liar, I trusted NO ONE.  The logic is simple.  I was dishonest, self-seeking and seedy.  Why would I think others were anything different?  I could not be trusted and therefore, did not trust.

I used the two age-old methods:  being defensive and flipping the situation. Because, honestly, neither one of these requires remembering anything.

Not a damn thing did I have to talk about to get myself out of hot water.  All I had to do was ask things like:

“What do you think?” “Is that what you think of me?”

Or… throw someone else’s garbage up in their face.

It is mean and it is wrong.  Bottom freaking line.  Here is what dishonest people may not understand… it affects YOU and OTHERS.  Being dishonest chips away at the psyche like a beaver gnaws at a tree.  This is especially true for this alcoholic.

Today I am honest at all costs.  I even have a hard time with myself if I call out of work ‘Sick’ if I am not sick enough by my standards to call out of work.  I feel guilty all day long. Not fun!

What are your terms when it comes to honesty?  Are you honest at all costs? 

Relapse – When Does It Begin?

Photo: www.ClarityWay.com
Photo: http://www.ClarityWay.com

I was forwarded an interesting article about relapse today and it got me thinking… When does relapse begin?  The article is here if you want to check it out: 7 Habits of an Addict About to Relapse.   If you’re interested, read the article.

In my opinion, the first sign of someone in recovery about to relapse is Withdrawal or Isolation.  I notice it is at the top of the list in this piece, and rightfully so.  Withdrawing from meetings, friends, family and/or activities is a sign of bad things to come.  Often, the addict may not realize he or she just turned down a dark part of their journey.

Reaching out at this point is not on the addict’s mind.  What is on the addict’s mind is getting rid of whatever demons were left unchecked while doing step-work or trying to suffocate a new demon.   If we are not working our 12 Step Program, we tread on dangerous ground each day.

The other sign I want to touch on is being secretive.  Maybe the addict got in touch with some old friends they once partied with. Maybe they are not being honest with themselves or others about things. They start telling little while lies.  They start making excuses to go to the store… a lot. They start hiding their cellphone or running into ‘long hours at work.’  Whatever the case, deception is classic.  As someone in recovery, I still remember my deceptive ways when I tried to use people for anything I could before I got sober.

These are the three ways to keep in check:

  1. Clean House
  2. Trust God
  3. Help Others

Each day I work my program, get honest and help others, is a day I won’t pick up a drink or a drug.

Day 1 – Reacting to Conditions

Sunday
Sunday (Photo credit: ex.libris)

I have this great book called, “365 Excuse Me…” which is a daily thought book.  There is a quote for each day of the year and a short blurb about the quote.  I do not read this book every day, but when I do, turn through the pages until I find something that suits me.

I had a great heart to heart with my daughter Sunday night, and after picking the book up, happened to flip to the page that said this:

“As long as we’re reacting to conditions, something will always be wrong.”

How awesome is that?!

Basically, that quote means we cannot change anything that goes on around us.  We can only change how we think, which changes how we feel.  We can choose how we react to a particular situation!  Way freaking cool, man!

It took me years to figure this out!

Quick example:  I am in traffic and someone cuts me off.  I can either yell expletives and flip him off, thereby ruining most of my morning, or I can say to myself, “Gee, I guess he is in a hurry.” Shrug it off and just go about my route to wherever.

I have no control over what the guy did!  I only have control over my reaction to what happened.  Period.

Are you able to control your reaction to outside events? 

Relapse – A Painful Truth

Relapse is a harsh reality in the world of recovery.  There are a million reasons people give for relapse but the number one I hear everywhere I go is this:  RESENTMENT.  Someone who follows my blog sent me a fascinating, short video about relapse.  If you’re interested, watch it.  Profound, it sticks to the point.

Video Infographic by Clarity Way

The disheartening truth is that addicts and alcoholics relapse long before they pick up again.  A switch goes off and the obsession kicks back into the brain.  The obsession leads to the compulsion to drink or drug.  Once the compulsion is acted upon, it is off to the races.

Please, watch the video, visit the website if you wish, and leave your thoughts in the comment section!  I’d love to hear from you.

Have a blessed day.

Happy Summer Solstice!

The sun behind the Heel Stone at Stonehenge, s...
The sun behind the Heel Stone at Stonehenge, shortly after sunrise on the summer solstice.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes!  Happy Summer Solstice everyone… today is the 21st day of June 2013.  Being so, I decided I have been way too damn negative and I need to amp up my positive vibes!

While it is extremely easy for us to get into a slump it is just as easy to step out of that dark hole and count the blessings God bestows upon us each day!

Therefore, since it is the first day of summer, I am calling this “New Attitude Day.” No matter how down we get on ourselves sometimes, or how crappy we feel, there is always… always something to be grateful for.  It could be something monumental or something as simple as having toothpaste.  You get the idea…

Today is a gorgeous day here on the East Coast… filled with warm sunshine, cool breezes, chirping birds, a bright blue sky and tons of other things – all reminding me that there is a God…

Amazing things happen when we lose the “poor me” attitude and get grateful!

What are you grateful for today?

Seven Years Sober Today… Wow.

English: Foggy sunrise in San Francisco and Bu...
English: Foggy sunrise in San Francisco and Buteo jamaicensis with a mouse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yep.. I almost had to pinch myself this morning.  I am seven years clean and sober today by the Grace of God and the amazing people he continues to bless me with.   Today (and for the last three days) are days that I feel so great inside… inside.  Someone commented on my Facebook status that I should be proud.  I AM PROUD! 🙂  Holy hell, if you would have known me seven years ago you would have went screaming into the sun, moon, stars… whatever.  The point is, I was an ugly person.. not because of my physical appearance (although this day seven years ago I wasn’t looking too hot) but because of the person I was inside.

I took so many hostages, lied to so many people and used anyone and anything to get what I needed.  It was all about me and fuck everyone else.  Even after my first couple weeks not picking up a drink or a drug, I was still like that.  Getting sober for me was about more than just putting down a substance. It was about learning a new way to live.

Thanks to God, my program and the amazing people who God has put in my life I am living a new way; an easier, softer way which in essence, is hard, gratifying work.

Life and Life Stuff

A copy photograph of the portrait painted by O...
A copy photograph of the portrait painted by Oscar Halling in the late 1860’s of Edgar Allan Poe.

God willing, I will have a 7th Anniversary of being clean and sober on May 26th of this year.  I haven’t been blogging consistently, and I am truly sorry for that.  I have so much stuff going on in terms of kids, other writing obligations and “life stuff.”

But for now, I am going to focus on the writing aspect of my life.  Pull up a chair and a cup of your favorite beverage if you wish.

I started writing around the age of nine or ten I guess.  I remember writing my first book report about “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allen Poe in grade school.  I fell in love with the story, and Poe, and looked forward to writing more book reports (yes I was a geeky child)!  I started keeping a diary and wrote silly little stories about my friends inside.

As I grew and matured (using that term loosely), I stopped writing unless it was a letter in school to one of my BFF’s or a boy.

In my early twenties, I actually wrote my first novel.  It is unpublished to this date and only a lone printed, bound copy remains.  Most of that novel was written while drunk because I inherently felt I could only write when I was chemically altered.

Fast forward about four years and I decided to go to college at night as an English Major and wound up switching my major to Behavioral Health with a focus on addiction for the rest of my term.  Ironic.

So I wrote off and on, off and on for a number of years.  I kept many journals and diaries both hard copy and internet bound.  I wrote a lot of poetry.  Dark disturbing words (again always drunk and angry) I wrote steady over the course of a week.  I wrote about 130 poems in those seven days.  That is floating around somewhere as well.

I even had one published in a local newspaper!

Here it is:

Reality and fantasy, truth and lies.

When I’m awake I forget real, and fantasize.

When I speak my mind, I speak it well.

When I talk back, I listen even better.

When I hear other voices, I try to ignore.

Don’t tell me what to say, don’t tell me what to do.

I’m done listening to you; all you speak is tainted.

I’m stained with lies, marked by deceit.

My eyes are wicked, my grin is cold.

You look at me, but you can’t look long.

You’re so weak.  Ha!

Try to tell me you’re strong.

I laugh so loud inside, you can’t hear me.

But I can.

Reality and fantasy, I like to fantasize.

Reality is too much for me, I like my peace.

I like to be alone whenever I can.

So no one hears my whispers as I answer myself…

Again and again.

That is my first official published piece of anything.  I remember how excited I felt.  My mom got a bunch of the papers and framed a copy of the poem for me.  That copy sits on my dresser today and I look at it sometimes because I get caught up in life stuff and my dreams slip away.

So that’s it for me… for now.  Hope everyone is doing well.. maybe you’d like to tell me what is going on in your neck of the woods?  I’d sure like to hear about you!

Those Damaging Thoughts…

Thinker thinks about how to take sun burst shot
(Photo credit: davidyuweb)

I have always been a thinker… more like an over-thinker.  I get something in my head that is pebble sized and before I know it there is a black boulder sitting in my skull that I want to smash out.  This doesn’t happen as much as it used to (which is scary, because it happens more than I like) and sometimes when it does, I get sucked into that damaging moment and my program goes out the window.  I don’t think about drinking or drugging because I have worked a solid 12 Step Program… but I guess, as much as I hate to admit it, I am human after all.

Shucks.

God has never given me anything I cannot handle.  Sometimes I try to handle the hurdles alone, and that is when I find myself sobbing in a little ball on the couch or my bed.  A light starts to glow in my head and I realize I need to pray, call a friend and journal.

IN THAT ORDER.  

In the last couple weeks I learned that free write journaling does more damage to me because (and someone said it in a comment on my blog) I kinda get locked into that whiny, poor me thinking and get no reflection work done.  If I pray and talk to someone before I journal, I can focus on a solution instead of staying in the problem.  Which, honestly, my thinking is the biggest problem. I get really worked up over dumb stuff because sometimes, that little eleven year old voice in my head chimes, “How you feel does not matter, Darlene.  Shut your mouth and stuff it down.  Stuff it down!

I cannot stuff it down.  Also, I cannot go running to whomever I am upset with and start bitching about all the shit they did that offended me, hurt my feelings, made me angry or whatever.  This is not a good idea.  When I try to communicate to someone before I pray and talk to another sober individual, my thoughts come out of my mouth like verbal vomit.

The gift of interpretation is amazing in my life today.  Instead of fearfully viewing an event as potentially hazardous, if I am in a good place, I can step back and sort the facts from the thoughts and go from there.

How do you stop your negative thinking?

T – Truth… Speaking My Own

truth by size
truth by size (Photo credit: Will Lion)

I was always a people pleaser.  Always… I couldn’t stand to be disliked so I would keep my feelings buried and wear that plastic smile, laugh that fake laugh and do what it took to gain acceptance.  This is probably the worst thing I have ever done to myself.  This is worse than sleeping with strangers, driving like a maniac or even breaking a window (on purpose).  Because by not speaking my truth, I fortified a wall of lies around my soul that I still chip at today.

I suck at speaking my truth.  I get that knot in my stomach and I get all frazzled and start thinking too much.  That’s when my truth turns into a monster.

Now, while I am an average writer,  I suck at talking.  Seriously.  I hold it in so long that by the time I do get it out (sometimes hours or even days later) it comes out all crazy and illogical.  And honestly, at that point I have lost my focus.  This has plagued me since I was little.

Here goes…

Saturday night my boyfriend and I went to a bar & grill.  Ugh, I know.  But his friend (who he hadn’t seen in over twenty years) was playing in a band (with his other long-lost friend) and he just wanted to clear the air with things in the past.  Okay… no biggie.

We talked before we got out of the car and made a pact.  Neither would leave the other under any and all circumstances. Period. If things got hairy or either of us started to feel uncomfortable we would say so and then we would jet. Okay, there is the pact.

That pact lasted about fifteen minutes.  Yeah, he left me sitting at the bar (with my soda and Loaded Nachos) and went to go mingle with all his old friends.  I sat there alone for thirty minutes being ogled by creepy old guys and the ‘shot girl’ asking me three times if I wanted a shot.  My blood pressure shot through the roof the first time she came by with her tray full of booze loaded test tubes. I snapped ‘no’ as I waved my hand.  Still, she came by two more times.  Ugh, again.

So I am trying to see through the wall to locate my boyfriend in the other part of the bar.  “Where the fuck are you?” I am thinking as I get upset.  I can’t see him but hope he is on the other side of that wall.

I finally spot my boyfriend and some hot blonde hanging all over him.  Okay, now I am feeling resentful, angry and jealous.  This is just not fucking going well… at all. My whole ‘fight or flight’ thing is kicking the shit out of me because I am extremely uncomfortable.

I do not belong here.

So finally after all that, he comes back over with one of his friends. I know my face says, ‘you suck’ because, after all, I wear my heart on my sleeve.  His friend apologizes to me for keeping him away. Do I get an apology from my boyfriend? Nope.  All I get is justification and ‘I didn’t do anything wrong.’

For the rest of the night, true to form, I stuffed in all inside because I didn’t want to ruin the night or act like an ass in the establishment.  That’s what I used to do back when I was ‘out there.’ I’d act like a total psycho no matter where I was if whoever I was with at the time hit me with a perceived injustice.  But this time I wasn’t drunk or high.  I was just me… raw and real with my emotions.

So I guess I have grown up a little.  Most of my old behaviors didn’t ooze from my pores and I kept my composure for the rest of the night.  I did try to bring how I felt up later on when we got home, but that didn’t go well.

Today I did bring it up.  I had to speak my truth.  I had to say where I was inside and I had to let him know that I was not mad at him, but that he broke his word to me and that hurt.  And it wasn’t a question of me being right.  That’s not what I wanted.  I wanted an apology for him leaving my side; for him breaking the pact we made in the car.  He did apologize (sort of) after (from an outsider’s point of view) a hilarious argument/discussion/fight outside on Sunday.

Do you find it difficult to speak your truth?

S – Sitting – In My Own Crap

The Resentments
The Resentments (Photo credit: Ian Varley)

                Ya know, I kind of do this sometimes.  It leads me nowhere but around in a vicious circle of self-loathing and resentment.  Like, right at this very moment, I am sitting in my own crap.  So I figured, ‘hey, my S Post is due, I should write about this.’

                Here goes…

                Saturday night my boyfriend and I went to a bar & grill.  Ugh, I know.  But his friend (who he hadn’t seen in over twenty years) was playing in a band (with his other long-lost friend) and he just wanted to clear the air with things in the past.  Okay… no biggie.

We both talked to each other before we left and made a pact.  Neither would leave the other under any and all circumstances. Period. If things got hairy or either of us started to feel uncomfortable we would say so and then we would jet. Okay, there is the pact.

I know you probably already have an idea of what happened.  Yeah, he left me sitting at the bar (with my soda and Loaded Nachos) and went to go mingle with all his old friends.  I sat there alone for thirty minutes being ogled by creepy old guys and the ‘shot girl’ asking me three times if I wanted a shot.  My blood pressure shot through the roof the first time she came by and I snapped ‘no’ as I waved my hand.  Still, she came by two more times.  Ugh, again.

So I am trying to see through the wall to locate my boyfriend in the other part of the bar.  “Where the fuck are you?” I am thinking as I get upset.  I can’t see him but hope he is on the other side of that wall.

I finally spot my boyfriend and some hot blonde hanging all over him.  Okay, now I am feeling resentful, angry and jealous.  This is just not fucking going well… at all. My whole ‘fight or flight’ thing is kicking the shit out of me because I am extremely uncomfortable.

So finally after all that, he comes back over with one of his friends. I know my face says, ‘you suck’ because, after all, I wear my heart on my sleeve.  His friend apologizes to me for keeping him away.  But do I get an apology from my boyfriend? Nope.  All I get is justification and ‘I didn’t do anything wrong.’

For the rest of the night, true to form, I stuffed in all inside because I didn’t want to ruin the night or act like an ass in the establishment.  That’s what I used to do back when I was ‘out there.’ I’d act like a total psycho no matter where I was if whoever I was with at the time hit me with a perceived injustice.  But this time I wasn’t drunk or high.  I was just me… raw and real with my emotions.

By the way, turns out the hot blonde was his friend’s sister.

So I guess I have grown up a little.  My old behaviors didn’t ooze from my pores and I kept my composure for the rest of the night.  I did try to bring how I felt up later on when we got home, but that didn’t go well.  And it’s interesting, because I am still trying to get it out, but having a hard time.  I suck at talking!  maybe I should write a letter…

Are you able to recognize when you ‘sit in your own crap?’