Isn’t it great how we all have favorite things? I love books, music, and nature. I also have other odd favorites, like bread butts, burnt baked goods, and finding whatever I need when I ask the universe for it. So, it’s no surprise that I once had a strange attachment to a parking spot which caused me a great deal of anxiety and grief.
It started at my old toxic job after co-worker #1 got sick of the bosses shit and quit. Enter, Susan. A quirky senior citizen born and raised in New York only evident by the way she says ‘reguleh’ and ‘wehk’ (work). She moved to Pennsy in her early twenties. It turned out we both lived in the same town (an hour from the office) and both liked to be early.
The first time I saw her car in my parking spot, I was like, “OK, Susan. You’ve only worked here for like three months. That’s my parking spot.” I said it jokingly, but was serious. I had ten years seniority on her at the time! How dare she! This went on for a number of weeks until I came home from work one day and vented to my husband about her disdain and blatant disrespect for me.
He was kind of shocked at my attitude. “What happened to letting go and letting the Universe? What happened to detaching?” I thought about that long and deep.
What the hell was I thinking? A parking spot? Really, Darlene? So, I did what any level-headed human would do… made a cup of coffee and wrote out a list of my resentments and the why’s of it all. It turned out my attachment was the basis of my misery so I had to detach.
It was difficult for a day – after I prayed on it and looked at it for what it was, I asked the Universe to remove my shortcomings and the attachment…
I wanted it removed, believed it removed and so it was removed. Ironically, after I let it go she stopped parking there.
Have you ever gotten attached to anything like a parking spot, mug, etc?
I love music. Have since I was a wee crying baby in a crib and my grandmother couldn’t take it anymore. The closest thing she could find was a little music box that played ‘London Bridge.’ She tossed it in next to me and whaddaya know? I zipped my lips. I’m still that way. If you want to shut me up, turn up the music.
Since I got sober in 2006, I have done a lot of reading of certain texts like Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon, One Day at a Time, etc. You get the idea. I have also thrown myself into numerous writing projects. It started with The Daily Woman, then I went on to write for Technorati, then Rock On Philly, then Brutalism.com, then on and on. I now write this blog (damswriter), along with books and also for a website called Devil Inside Promotions. Around 2015, I started a website called Rock Metal Scissors. It was really just for fun. I had been writing about music since about 2008 and had built up a lot of connections through writing via other sites. I’m sure me branching out on my own had to do with someone pissing me off because I couldn’t write what I wanted to write.
They say that contrast causes us to act and thereby changes our lives. Isn’t that beautiful?
The Steel Onion was born and I was able to do what I loved! I wasn’t getting paid, but that was fine. I was having fun. The whole project was 100% self-supported financially but the more I said, The Steel Onion, the more people didn’t get it.
I need to change the name… after some meditation, I came up with ROCK METAL SCISSORS. I loved the way that sounded! I envisioned it as a household name in the music scene…
But, I let Rock Metal Scissors fall by the wayside for about a year. I had so much stuff going on – plus working a day job – that I couldn’t hang anymore. Some things I noticed while I took a break from writing about music:
I was prone to more fits of crankiness. I felt sad a lot more. I was hearing all this great stuff but what could I do about it? I was able to immerse myself in nature which was awesome and I also got to spend more time with my husband, which was doubly awesome.
Then I got an email that threw me right back in… A guy from a label was representing one of my favorite bands! Was I available for an album review and also… to cover a local show? Um, yeah! That was all it took for me to realize writing – writing about music – is a true passion of mine.
And now I am 100% serious about my writing. I have set up a Fiverr site, and am starting to pitch to sites all the while keeping up the work on Rock Metal Scissors.
Stay tuned for my next post about exhaling and going for it in the world of freelancing! And hey, go check out Rock Metal Scissors. 🙂
Gosh, there were so many times I cried that it was my ‘last one.’ And I meant it every time I said it, for sure.
But the next day would come and after all the puking and the hangover and the shame, I would forget about the bad times and remember the good.
So there I went out the door, to the local bar to do it all over again. Only this time I swore it would be different. This time I would drink something else. After all, it wasn’t a drinking problem I had, it was a vodka problem I had. Oh, and maybe if I did some ‘other stuff’ while I drank, things would be better…
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. So, in my defense, I was completely insane. What sane person would continue behavior that led to bad outcomes? How could anyone think I was in my right mind after puking my guts up in the bar bathroom and walking out and back over to the bar for another drink?
Traditional drunk. I was anything but.
I am still busy with school work! Midterms are next week. Philosophy class is going well and I am enjoying the discussions. My CIS (computer information systems) class is interesting. I know a lot about computers, but am learning more about Windows and Office 2016.
Hope everyone had an awesome weekend! I will see y’all around blog town. ❤
Hi Ted, thanks for agreeing to do an interview with me. First off, I want to congratulate you on your clean time. It is a rough road I know personally, but very rewarding. It is people like you that inspire addicts and alcoholics in recovery to keep that glimmer of hope alive, no matter how dark it may get.
1. I read your press release and you said, “After I got clean, I thought ‘What am I going to do with my life?” I can relate to trying to transition into a life without drugs and alcohol. Was it difficult for you to find something to do immediately?
I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to be creative without drugs or alcohol and I’d almost made the
decision not to play music anymore! My thinking was that my creativity was too closely linked to my
drug use. Fortunately, the Universe had a different plan and opportunities in music presented
themselves more abundantly than they ever had before! 2. What brought you to the United States from New Zealand?
I moved to the United States when I had around 18 months clean as guitarist, co-writer and
backing vocalist with popular NZ artist Greg Johnson. I had started playing in his band and he
asked me to accompany him for some showcases for Record Companies. He ended up getting
signed, and we moved to L.A. to make an album..
3. What was your darkest moment while out there (using)? Was that enough to get you to wake up and realize you could die?
I had a few brushes with death while I was out there. I think one of my darkest moments was getting
the news that my friend and fellow musician Matt had died from this disease. I was devastated and
although I had OD’d several times myself, it still took me over a year more to go back into detox and
try treatment again. He was so talented and it was such a waste, but I knew it could be me or any
one of those ‘smart, talented’ addicts I was using with.
4. What has been the most amazing part of your journey through sobriety so far?
There have been so many wonderful moments. I feel like all the great things that have happened in
my life have been since I got sober- getting married, traveling the world playing music, seeing all the
art I’d only ever seen in books, making albums.. Using provided me with a very limited view of the
world but recovery has expanded that view by putting me back in contact with human beings! Every
day can be an adventure if I can keep an open mind and remember to be grateful.
5. Now that you are clean and sober, do you look at people differently? Like, do you have more tolerance?
I really had to learn how to deal with people again because I was just so used to being loaded all the
time and that had been my point of reference for so long! I think I’m more tolerant these days simply
because I feel more a ‘part of’, but it’s still a challenge (especially on the freeway!) 6. I actually love driving on little country roads, it helps me reconnect with my Higher Power and regroup when life keeps being life. How do you relax these days?
I meditate, I read (for entertainment as well as for inspiration). I have 2 cats and a dog and I find
them to be a great source of relaxation! ( I never had pets growing up so it’s still a novelty for me). As
I said, I love art so going to museums and galleries is something I love to do.
7. Tell me about the song, “Bringing my Past Back (But Not To Haunt Me).
This is really a song about the ‘steps’ and the work that’s asked of me if I really want to get the most
that recovery has to offer. Sometimes that work is tough- messy and painful but if I’m prepared to do
it (and I never have to do it alone) I’ve discovered that the benefits are incredible. The trick is, that I
have to keep doing it if I want to experience growth.. 8. Did you ever think that you’d be living the dream today? Getting to do what you love?
I don’t know what I thought when I was in active addiction! Mostly “getting, using and finding ways to
get more”. I always thought that I had the wrong life, that it, “wasn’t supposed to be like this”…my
fear was that I would die from my using. Every day surprises me!
9. Do you have any words of advice or wisdom for addicts and alcoholics still struggling with addiction?
Anyone can get clean, lose the obsession and find a new way of life. But you need to have had
enough and of course that ‘rock bottom’ is different for everyone. One thing I know is that we can’t
do it alone, I tried many, many times. The disease of addiction is cunning, it will give you many
reasons why you’re different, why recovery won’t work for you, but it’s working for millions of people
all around the world every day! It’s important to just jump in feet first! It’s scary, but so is using..
10.I did not get to hear the song, “Looking for Home Down Hallways.” But it immediately gave me a chill as I thought back to the days when I was so alone and just wanted to be loved. Can you elaborate on this song?
This song is about looking for salvation. From a person, a drink, a drug, money, a location.. Anything
outside myself that I think might be the thing that’s finally going to make everything ‘O.K.’ The pursuit
of that ‘fix’ is what nearly killed me and it can manifest in recovery as well, even without the drugs
11.When it came time to make amends to people, were you excited to get it out or nervous to reach out to people you had wronged?
When I was new, the first step I noticed on the wall was #9 and I thought, “Oh no, I’m never going to
be able to do that!”. Fortunately the steps are in order so I didn’t have to make amends until I got to
that step. I did however try to make some amends before I got there and without my Sponsors
blessing- needless to say it didn’t go so well. The steps are a gentle slope, so even when I’m
apprehensive I’ve been able to move forward..
12.What is in the future for you and your music?
We just completed a beautiful clip for the song “Love Is..” which is due to drop on
10/15. I’m working on songs for another album as well as promoting “An Unwide
Road” The future looks musical!
I started drinking at an early age. It became a way for me to stomach myself each time I looked in the mirror or engaged with other humans. I never thought it would come full circle and the thing that gave me ‘people power’ would take that power away along with any perceived power over every other person, place or thing in my life.
Getting clean and sober was not an easy task for me by any stretch of the imagination (is it easy for any of us?). I made a decision to go cold turkey. I locked myself in my basement apartment for roughly a week only going outside to walk down to the Walgreen’s to get cigarettes (I also drank gallons of water). I was dizzy, sweating, cold, hot, felt nauseous, had wicked stomach knots and the shakes just to name a few symptoms of opiate withdrawal. I became a skeletal recluse for those seven or so days and it was the best thing I ever did for myself.
Now, I’m not saying going ‘cold turkey’ is the best way – and I didn’t go cold turkey – but for some, it isthe best way. I weaned myself until there was nothing left but me, my coffee cup and lots of cigarette butts. I pretty much glued my ass to this chair in said basement and just eked it out. It was fucking hell, lemme tell ya. I mean, at the height of my addiction, I was consuming about 1000 mg of Percocet a day along with one or two Fentanyl pops and not to mention all the 80 mg Oxy’s I was crushing and snorting. Yeah, I probably should have been dead a few times.
I read so many horror stories about people who use methadone or Suboxone to wean off opiates. It makes no sense to me as an addict. Seriously. Why would I want to stop using one drug only to become addicted to another? It made zero sense to me. I did go to an outpatient center, they asked me how long I was off pills and I told them. Now, I was off for about a week or so when I called this place. They actually suggested these two drugs to me. I was like, “NO EFFING WAY.” I didn’t go through hell in my basement for that time only to revisit a different level of hell. Thanks, but no thanks.
I belong to a few groups on Facebook centered around recovery and hope. This is where social media is truly awesome. We get to share ideas, thoughts and a lot of memes. I have been reading about methadone and Suboxone use in opiate withdrawal. It seems like a double-edged sword. On one hand, an addict is getting off the hard shit or fist fulls of pills. On the other hand, they are creating a brand new addiction that is equally gruesome.
I read a lot of statements that go something like, “I have been clean for three months, well, really two days because I was on Suboxone all that time. I feel like crap and I want to use.” Seriously?!
Please understand… I judge no one. I am no better than anyone, period. I just don’t understand. So I guess in a sense, I am asking: if anyone using either of these for opiate withdrawal or using something else for opiate withdrawal could explain to me why this is a choice, that would be great.
Yes, the basement was hell. I may even write about it one day in a memoir because I feel like people should know how fucking awful opiate withdrawal really is.
Looking back, I am glad I did it that way. I may not have survived if I became addicted to something else.
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.