When I first got sober it was in late May of 2006. I immediately found some meetings to go to and when a person goes to meetings, they find out about picnics. My first thought was, “How the hell does a person go to a picnic and not drink?”
Turns out, there are a lot of ways to have fun that do not involve drinking or drugs. Here are some of the ways I have had tons of fun all while being sober:
going to a meeting
walking in the woods
walking on a main strip in a small town
going for a long drive (like… really long)
listening to music
shooting pool at a pool hall (not a bar!)
making a craft
going to a book store
going to the library
going down to the river
antique shopping (or browsing)
going to lunch with a friend
going to lunch alone
starting a scrap-book
journaling (I wish I would have documented my first year of sobriety)
and yes…. sober picnics!
These are just a few of the things that I had (and still have) a ton of fun doing while trekking through sobriety. Do you have any to add? Please share!
Okay, so I’m an alcoholic. I was probably born one, but didn’t catch on until my late twenties. Further, I didn’t do anything about it until my early thirties. I tripped, stumbled, blacked out… did all the crazy things that alcoholics do and then some.
The one thing that got me tripped up all my life was… me. I am so damn hard on myself! I can go down my list of “nots” and really spiral into a dark, lifeless hole.
I am not pretty enough; smart enough; talented enough; GOOD enough. It seeps in like a cool November breeze and before I know it I am sitting there shivering with rage. I cry, curse at myself. Hell, when I was a teenager, I even used to hit myself if you can imagine that one. I just hated myself so much. I hated me, I hated my mother for giving birth to me and I hated God for allowing my birth. Surely, it was a mistake. Why on Earth would He put someone as pathetic and ugly as me on the planet?
Yeah, ugly. I suffered with my self-image for a long time and still do… sometimes. I was picked on all through school as a child and then a pre-teen and a teenager. I was even made fun of as an adult. I resorted to violence to fend off the teasing when I was younger. When I was older, I just drank more. Surely the alcohol would numb my self-loathing.
I guess I felt, “hey, if I can’t be pretty, I’ll be a brute.” Even though I weighed maybe seventy pounds soaking wet when I was thirteen. At five feet seven, that right there my friends is a ‘bean pole,’ as I was called.
There were much worse names.
I was picked on in junior high school because I didn’t “fill out” like all the other girls. I was so flat chested, I didn’t even wear a bra. One time, some boys were walking down the hallway behind my friend and me and they grabbed at our backs to snap our bra straps. I found out later they did that to prove I didn’t have a bra on because I didn’t have breasts. They laughed their asses off that day. I ran in the bathroom and cried.
I felt worthless. I felt ashamed. I felt soooo ugly.
So yeah, I became violent. I started getting in fights with other girls and I started beating up boys. Beating up boys! Not so much beating them into a bloody pulp, but I got the best of them for sure.
Now, you would think that after all these years, and all my years sober and all the step work I have done and all the resentments I have talked about with my sponsor and all the shit I have let go, that this would be the big one I wanted to let go, because, after all, who the hell wants to hold onto a big pile of shit?
I just don’t know how to let it the hell go! I am so mad still (sometimes.) I am not mad all the time, but sometimes I just get mad. Sometimes, I look in the mirror and still see that skinny, flat-chested girl who used to get picked on. The girl who boys didn’t like. The girl who boys didn’t ask to go to dances and when she was at dances, they certainly didn’t want to dance with. The girl who never got put on the “list of girls.”
A lot of people say, “Darlene, get the hell over it. That was a long time ago. You’re beautiful!”
Yes, there are times that I feel beautiful. But there are other times, usually when I am watching television or I am on the beach or at a big concert or something, that I just get way lost in the hoopla of what is defined as beauty today.
For the record, I don’t watch much television and I rarely go to the beach. I listen to a lot of music, do a lot of writing and I do my readings everyday because a small part of me knows it is all in my head. A small part of me sometimes sees something beautiful in me.
I never think of drinking over this. Hell, I can’t remember the last time a drink entered my mind. Thankfully, I have a lot of women in my life and a pretty good support system. Thankfully, I have the rooms and the literature I read.
Thankfully, most times I recognize it is all in my head.
Not sure if you ever saw the movie “Shawshank Redemption,” but there is a great scene in that film regarding ‘hope.’ Tim Robbins’ character has it and Morgan Freeman’s character thinks he is hopelessly romancing hope because hope is a heart breaker.
Maybe it depends on the person when it comes to hope. I used to feel disdain for hope. Maybe it was because I grouped hope with wishing and praying when I was using and drinking. Then again, the things I hoped for were things like not getting pulled over by the police while I was high or having twenty extra dollars in my pocket to finish getting my load on. Go figure.
These days ‘hope’ is very different for me. I do hope for material things like hitting the lottery or waking up one day with big boobs, but I know these things aren’t going to happen, so I am acting the child when it comes to hoping, praying and wishing for things.
I need to redirect my hope to attainable things that are not materialistic. I write music reviews for three different websites. At this moment, I am not paid for this, but that’s okay. I love what I do. I hope to one day get paid to write about music, but until then I will work my day job and write about music in the evening.
I hope to one day have a flourishing career in the music/writing industry.
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?
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:
Each day I work my program, get honest and help others, is a day I won’t pick up a drink or a drug.
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 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.
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.