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.

I Am Deactivated

Facebook logo
Facebook logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes… I finally deactivated my Facebook account.  I’ll tell you why.  Because a person like me should not be on a thing, succubus, demon .. whatever you want to call it.  It is a huge time suck that frustrates and upsets the hell out of me.  I was on there today and thought, ‘Why the frig am I torturing myself like this?”

I have a body image problem and being on Facebook does NOT HELP.  Seeing all my boyfriends new recent friends that are female DOES NOT HELP.  Airbrushed images of almost nude women posted by groups and friends does not help.

All of it hinders me, makes me feel bad about myself and then I isolate and rerun old tapes in my head about “why I am not good enough.”

It’s bullshit.  I don’t need it.  I don’t want it.  So I am on a Facebook Hiatus indefinitely.  I will definitely be blogging more!  I landed an internship with a Philadelphia online music magazine so I am stoked about that! I sent my novel to an editor and am still writing for brutalism.com.

I have way too much positive, substantial stuff going on for myself.  I refuse to ruin it for me.  And since I know me these days (like really know me) I know what makes me happy, sad, jealous, confused, angry, etc… so I am off to work on that and stay away from one of the triggers.

Peace out friends!!  You’ll be hearing from me a little more in the near future.

Love, Darlene

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?

R – Resentment – The Road to Misery

English: Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions
English: Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This post was originally called “Righteousness – The Road to Misery” but I changed it last-minute.  Resentment and righteousness go hand in hand, really. After all, I can’t feel resentful if I am not feeling righteous.  Not to mention, resentment is the number one thing that sends alcoholics and addicts back to a drink or drug no matter how long they have been sober.

I stated in an earlier post how angry I was as a child.  This anger brewed inside me as the decades of my life passed. Realistically, anger for me was always resentment.  I resented:

  • my parents
  • my looks
  • being poor
  • perceived wrongs
  • other people

The list went on for pages.  Then, when I got sober, I was still resentful at everyone and everything.  Sure, I was floating on the pink cloud of newfound freedom from drugs and alcohol.  It was great waking up feeling good – not hung over or dope sick.  But I still had all that resentment and it was eating away at my soul like cancer.

After my pink cloud dissipated into the sun of real life, I was still left with all that resentment!  What to do… how about a Fourth Step?  The Fourth Step works and continues to work today.  See, in all my resentment, anger, jealousy.. etc, I played a part!  I couldn’t believe that.  I mean, how the hell could I play a part in the way my ex-husband treated me years ago or any of the other “injustices” dumped on me?

It was simple and with the help of my sponsor I figured it out.  These days, if I feel resentful I kind of sit in it for a little while (I’m a good alcoholic) but then I really have to do a quick inventory, give it to God and let it go.  This makes for happier days.

How do you handle your resentments?

Q – Question Only What Needs Questioning

Derivative of 30px and 30px.Red version of Ima...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was always the “why kid.”  You know, that annoying little brat in the back seat (or at the lunch table) that questions everything.  I mean, I never questioned why the sky was blue or the sun was hot, but I did question a lot of stuff that really spoke for itself.

When I drank and drugged, I questioned why my life sucked so bad.  I questioned why life felt like hell everyday.  I questioned why the hell God kept me around after it was clear I did not want to be alive.  Honestly, my life sucked because I chose for it to suck.  Simple…

What I have learned in these past years is that questioning everything is a ridiculous behavior that I still get caught up in… a lot.  I start to question things when I don’t go to enough meetings.  And the questions I ask, in the car on the way to work (this is when I have my conversations with God) are pretty silly.  They are the kind of questions a teenager would ask their mother or God.

Yeah, I am slowly catching up to my real age.  I think at this point I am like 20 in drug years.

Other things I question are people’s motives or actions.  For example, I might question why my boyfriend did ‘x, y, or z.” But you know what?  It doesn’t really matter because he did whatever it is he did.  My job is to figure out why it makes me feel sad, jealous or angry and go from there.  I should question myself more and question others less.

What do you question?

M – Mostly Mad About Much

English: A metaphorical visualization of the w...
English: A metaphorical visualization of the word Anger. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was an angry kid. Like, pissed off at everyone for everything.  In grade school I beat up the boys and from the ages eleven through thirteen I refused to smile.  In fact, there isn’t a picture of me smiling during that time period.  I hated my home life, my gangly legs, my parents and pretty much everything else.

At thirteen, I discovered Pink Floyd and slit my wrists in my bedroom.  Looking back, it was an unheard cry for help.  The boy I liked said, “you didn’t do it right.” My family swept it under the proverbial carpet.  My angry cries remained unheard.

At fourteen, I still hated myself, but in the summer of 1987, things were finally looking up for me. I was filling out, getting attention from boys and finally finding myself (yeah right).  I started smoking pot, skipping school and conveying my messages of hate to my high school chums.

Anger became a good friend.  It blanketed my fears, worries and insecurity.  I hid behind anger like an unblemished mask never realizing how it destroyed me. Married at sixteen, I learned from my then mother-in-law and her mother, that anger was normal.  These two women were angry about everything. They taught me passive-aggressive behavior and oh how I loved that!

I became an expert at passive-aggressive behavior as I “made people pay” for the “unjusts” they caused me.  But I noticed something.

My scowled face, harsh words and bitter mannerisms fell on myself while everyone went on with their days, blind to my rage.  How could they not feel my rage?  No one gave a damn about my anger.  No one stopped me from self-sabotaging, self-harming with drugs, alcohol and promiscuity.

In fact, I scowled so much in my younger years, I have a permanent frown line between my eyebrows.  People ask me “why are you mad?” or “what’s wrong?” or say, “you always look mad.”  It’s annoying, but some things cannot be helped.

These days, I’m not angry… really. I just have a stark reminder printed on my face of the anger I felt for so long.  These days, I give it to God.

What do you do with your anger?

L – Looking Back – Should I Bother?

en: Photo of a Band-Aid manufactured by Johnso...
en: Photo of a Band-Aid manufactured by Johnson & Johnson. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You’ve heard the sayings… “don’t look back” — “learn from the past” — “the pain heals, but the scars remain” — there are hundreds of sayings that talk about the past.  Looking back on the past kept me in a whirlwind of sorrow and misery.  I would stay there, dwelling and obsessing like a goat over a woolen shirt.  I still do it sometimes and then I think, “what the hell am I doing?!”

Feeling sorry for myself became an art as I sat at the bar, drowning my sorrows yapping about my pathetic life (which was everyone else’s fault, by the way).

I used to be hung up on the “why” of the past.  Why did this happen to me? Where did I go wrong? Why me? WHY ME? WHY ME?!

The trick for me is to look back, learn and move the hell on.

It’s true, I have learned from the past.  I learned that drinking and drugging were transparent band-aids that masked my misery while pouring salt in my wounds. That is a part of my past I cannot forget. Ever.  But, I had to get over it… the pain, the sorrow and especially the feeling sorry for myself.  How would I do that?  After all, I was great at feeling sorry for myself.  I was great at sitting in my own crap while I donned the face of misery and self-pity.

I should bother to look back,  but only to learn and share.

K – Killing the Uglies

Ugly (Sevendust song)
Ugly (Sevendust song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not sure how many of my beautiful readers dealt with bullying and teasing as children, but I have to say, that stuff has a profound affect on people. It sure as hell had a profound affect on me.  So much that, even today I, at times, have a case of the uglies. You know that sick, yucky, disturbing feeling inside… that “I’m not good enough, not pretty enough..” Hell, not anything enough.

As I write this post, I am reflecting on my day.  I had a good day all in all (any day sober is a good day!) I did have a case of the uglies today, however, and when it was going down in my (always) amped up mind, I was beating myself up… royally.  The “uglies” as I call them, are sneaky, vile little things that grip me up in a second if I cannot “kill” them.

I was talking with my boyfriend today about this stuff in a sense.  Not specifically “killing the uglies” but more so why the hell shit bothers me that bothers me.  Like, stuff that shouldn’t really bother me.  One thing I do when I talk to people is listen to what I am saying because, believe it or not, there is always some message in my words that I should hear.  Does that sound vain and egotistical?  Perhaps…

I brought up a profound event in my life that shaped my sense of self from the age of nine until this very moment.  I talk about these things because I have to KILL THE UGLIES.  I have to remind myself that there is a deeper root to my insecurities and low self-esteem if I am going to get better.  There is always something more than the “surface insecurity” and that is what I have to get to… fast.

This is where a big part of my program comes in.  I couldn’t get over any of the pain, torment and geekiness I felt from a child through my early thirties. Being a good alcoholic, I drowned my pain in booze and promiscuity, as I searched for someone or something to fill that void or abandonment. Long after I got sober, I still searched.  There had to be someone or something out there that could kill this damn ugly feeling.  But alas, I learned that I had to kill the uglies from the inside.

Some days I still struggle. I might stop praying, slack on my meeting attendance or stop networking with my sober circle.  That’s when the uglies start to seep in.  Thankfully, I know just what to do to squash those bastards.

Do you have something that helps you when you start to get overwhelmed?

J – Jealousy – Does It Ever Go Away?

When I was about thirteen, I was “dating a boy” and I remember standing on the street corner with him and some friends and this pretty girl walked by.  My “boyfriend” looked at her and I remember getting a twinge in my belly and then dismissing it.  After all, he was only watching a girl walk by.

Allegory of Jealousy
Allegory of Jealousy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fast forward a year to my new boyfriend (and the guy I would marry, have children with and divorce) who took jealousy to a whole new level for me.  I had never been jealous before.  If you had asked me what it meant at that age, I probably couldn’t have told you. I was young, silly and failing at fitting in to any group or click.

Now, after I married this guy and he berated, belittled and abused me, jealousy was something I came to know first hand.  He took to pulling out Playboy magazines and telling me he wished I looked like the women that donned those shiny, seedy pages. Furthermore, he would (for a year) compare me to his ex-girlfriend in every aspect. Each time he did these things (all in the name of love, of course) I felt smaller, less than and wanted to be what he wanted me to be.  I would get that angry little knot in my belly and start mentally beating myself up.

I still struggle with jealousy.  Some people ask me why… and all I can say is, “your perception of me and my perception of me are on different avenues.” People tell me I am beautiful, pretty, smart, etc. And sometimes I really do feel that way.

But all it takes is my perception of beauty, intelligence or confidence to grace my presence in the form of another woman and boom. I’m jealous, insecure and comparing myself.  And I almost always turn it inward.

So I pray, write snippets on ripped pieces of paper and throw them in my God Box.  I talk to my friends in the program about how I feel sometimes.  It helps.  I hope someday to vanquish my jealousy.

I’m definitely better these days… Progress, not perfection.

Do you get jealous?

G – Grieve (The Old You)

Grief
Grief (Photo credit: tombellart)

Grief.  It’s one of those things that is hard to let go of and hard to handle.  We grieve loss: Loss of people, places and things; loss of pets. But did you ever consider grieving over yourself?  I’ll bet you never quite looked at it that way.

Recovery is a rebirth.  We come into the rooms, the doctors’ offices and the out-patient programs beaten and broken. We are torn, tattered and abused; looking for something or someone to save us.  We’re either meek and mild or loud and brazen.  Some of us are a little of both.

When I first got sober I was a little of both. I was kind of shy (especially around women) and I dressed provocatively, stuck with the men, pulled up at meetings blasting my heavy metal.  I needed to be noticed. I needed that attention to flip that self-worth switch on inside.  Seeking outside validation is classic in alcoholics and I was (still am!) a classic alcoholic.  I made all the conversations about me (I was really good at this!).  Gosh, I could go on forever!

This self-seeking behavior (definitely a character defect) went on for years until one day…

I got serious about my program.  I started hitting six meetings a week.  I got another sponsor and actually talked with her and did step work with her.  I listened at meetings and even started sharing at some of them.  I started hanging with the women, giving my phone number to newcomers and even hung out with these chicks outside of the rooms. What was happening to me?!  Who was this woman who stared back at me in the mirror every day?  I didn’t know her, but I liked her.

She was different.  She didn’t want to wear “hoochie mama” clothes anymore; felt comfortable around other women.  She liked the image in the mirror.. sometimes.

Yes, I still blast my heavy metal but I definitely notice a change in me.  So do a lot of other people.  I like who I am these days.  I no longer hide behind the insecure mask of “LOOK AT ME!”  I know that sounds strange, but insecurity leads to external validation which is a band-aid that never heals internal wounds.

And I did take a moment a couple of years ago to grieve the old me.  I sat down in a park with my journal and nature and wrote a letter to myself.  I said, “Goodbye, Old Darlene.  There are some parts of you I shall miss, but ultimately, not much.  This is my new path, with my new life and a new me.  I’m sure you’ll visit sometimes, Old Darlene, and that’s okay, but you cannot stay.”

Have you ever given any thought to an “old you” and “new you?”