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.

I Tanked On The Blog Challenge!

Writing
Writing (Photo credit: jjpacres)

Yes I did.  Ha!!  I have so much going on that I could not put together a post for every day of the month to publish for my readers.  I am truly, deeply sorry.  I am writing music reviews for four websites and loving every moment!  I am not getting paid for my writing services and that is okay.  I am doing something I truly love while building my writing resume.

So stoked!

All the writing I have done over the course of my life (poetry, short stories, two novels, addiction blog and now music) has been amazing fun.  I love to write and have recently found that my passion is writing about music.  I have loved music since I can remember.  My grandmother used to tell me an interesting story about me.

When I was a baby, I wouldn’t stop crying one day.  She tried everything!  Finally, frustrated and overwhelmed, she wound up a music box and tossed it in my playpen.  I stopped crying immediately. To this day, I get sad when the music stops.

Will all my writing about music land me a well-paid gig for a big time music site or magazine?  I have no idea and no expectations.

Therein… lies the beauty.

I will commit myself to blogging a little more frequently on addiction in the coming weeks.

Have a blessed day.

Day 8 – Control

Self Control (film)
Self Control (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“You cannot always control circumstances, but you can control your own thoughts.” ~ Charles Popplestown

Wouldn’t I just love to control everything, everyone and every circumstance so that I may never be upset, angry or hurt.  The truth is, I have no control over anything except my thinking, and that is where the trouble comes into play.

For years, I tried to control the behavior of others to manipulate my mood.  I would tell them how to behave so that I may be happy.  This is a temporary fix to a deep problem.

Honestly, the sheer effort it takes to control other people and their behaviors is exhausting.  Putting people where we think they belong, helping them act the way they should act and relying on others to make us happy is unfair to us and them.

Do you find that trying to control everything is exhausting?  

Day 5 – Celebrating Freedom

Freedom
Freedom (Photo credit: Josef Grunig)

How awesome is it to celebrate freedom from the slavery of drugs and alcohol?  Once a drudgery of self-loathing and hatred, when I put down the drink and the drug, I found a new way of life and discovered freedom to the core.

There were no more lost moments of clarity.  Nights once spent in a drunken stupor were a thing of the past.  My nights turned into eating at diners after meetings with other like-minded people in search of a common goal.  I discovered that drinking and drugging were not a staple when it came to fun.

Fun and entertainment came in new and enlightening ways without drugs and alcohol.  As I started to work my program, the chain-links of self snapped one by one, creating a gate I could swing open into a new world.

One by one, I snapped a link one day at a time.

Amazing.

Day 4 – Keeping Score

Hopscotch
Hopscotch (Photo credit: Jan Tik)

When I was little I played games like most kids.  Hopscotch, Tag and Freedom were some of my favorites.  As I got older, I joined a few organized sports like softball and basketball.  I was athletic and while I didn’t particularly enjoy losing, I did it gracefully… sometimes.

Somewhere along the way I learned the awful habit of comparing myself to others.  My looks, my education, my material belongings… all of this and more was never good enough, never small enough, never big enough, never pretty enough; it was never enough and there began my dark spiral into the “not’s” as I call them.

Comparisons are like keeping score and I came up short (the loser) every damn time.

Something I’ve learned in sobriety is to compare myself to myself.  Everything about me I need to compare only to myself because, being a good alcoholic, it is easy for me to tailspin into a dark hole of self-doubt and woe-is-me.

“She’s prettier.” “Her boobs are bigger.” “Oh my gosh!  Look how cute her feet are!  I wish I had feet like that!” I mean, it goes on and on and on!  Ugh… I can go from 100 to 0 in less that thirty seconds when I start keeping score in my head.

Keeping score wears on my self-esteem, it shows on my face and most important it drains me.  Luckily, I love to read self-help books, go to meetings and talk with other women.  I have learned when I start to keep score and am learning how to stop.

  • Say the Serenity Prayer.
  • Realize that everyone is beautiful in their own way (including me).
  • I am better than I was a year ago.
  • I am on my own journey, and it is amazing.
  • Focus on my attributes.

These are some of the ways I deal with my “not’s.”  I’m human, so some days are easier than others.

Progress, not perfection.

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? 

Kensington Blues – A Hardcore Photo Blog

El fly-by
El fly-by (Photo credit: Tim McFarlane)

So a friend of mine told me about this blog called Kensington Blues.  I thought, “hey, I’m from Philly, knew a lot of ‘Kenso’s’ growing up after junior high school, this should be interesting.”

Interesting was an understatement after I saw the photos of addicts on the streets of Kensington.  I forced myself to look into their eyes of quiet desperation.  My eyes darted over the real-life backdrops of littered streets, graffiti covered buildings and the devastating picture of Nichol who looks no older than fourteen.

Heartbreaking.

The truth is no one wants a life on the street, selling their ass to get high or peddling for change to get another fix.  Life just goes that way for some.  I can’t explain it and I know in my heart that any of those women could have been me.  That stark reality is forever at the forefront of my mind when I see a bottle of booze or happen to be within earshot of someone talking about drugs.

It is a life to which no one aspires.  Sometimes it creeps in like a slow, ugly plague.  Other times, it punches you in the throat when you’re thrown out of the house at eighteen or molested by a trusted adult.

Us addicts and alcoholics spent many minutes on our knees, begging God for salvation or death, whichever should come first.

Please, take a look at the blog.  The life of an addict isn’t always some fancy story surrounded by a dysfunctional family in a three bedroom rancher portrayed on ‘Intervention.’  It can be much darker and sadistic.

See for yourself.