That Damn Heart On My Sleeve

Heart on Sleeve!
Heart on Sleeve! (Photo credit: Caro’s Lines)

It’s true.  I am an emotional, loving, caring, forgiving human being who seems to never remember that it is NOT all about me and I should NOT take everything to the life-giving, all loving heart that is in my chest and on my sleeve.

I have a hard time handling any kind of rejection.

You wanna hurt me?  Ignore me.  Pretend I do not matter.  Treat me like one of the rest.  That shit hurts.  It hurts deep.

Maybe I am the “sensitive artist type” or I am just sensitive period.  I don’t know.  What I do know is that I love with all my heart and I just reveal myself (the real me) time and again and I get shit on and it hurts.

How do I be someone else?  How do I turn into this magical, mythical creature that never gets angry, hurt, upset, jealous, resentful or bruised?

This is the question I want answered.

Why do I do this?  Why do I pour my heart into everything?  The risk is always there and I know this.  But I give my heart anyway.  Over and over and over again.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t feel the hurt, the pain, the agony of rejection or dejection.  But then, I remember:

It is good for me to feel these things and sort them out. Because the moment I decide I can no longer handle feeling these feelings is the scary moment I might look to pick up a drink.  After all, not being able to handle my feelings was a huge part in my alcoholism.

So…

  • I journal.
  • I go to a meeting.
  • I talk to my friend, Heather.
  • I pray.
  • I think (this is not good).

The final thing I do is give it to God.  I have so many little papers in my God Box: things I want, things that bother me, people I cannot help.  All kinds of stuff.  I put those little pieces of paper in my God Box and then forget about them.  After I say a prayer and put my written thought in the God Box, I forget about it…

For a little while…

But, me being me with this heart on my sleeve, my head starts to mess with me again.  Sometimes I think wearing my heart on my sleeve is a huge character defect.  However, a lot of people (including my former sponsor) has told me it is an admirable trait.

Hmmmm…

How are you at handling your emotions? 

Surviving A Brain Injury

National Brain Injury Awareness Month
National Brain Injury Awareness Month (Photo credit: Army Medicine)

So, March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month (I just found this out yesterday).  Let’s add that to the seemingly endless list of “celebratory months of awareness.”  This one hits me at a personal level, however, because in 1996 I suffered a brain injury as a result of an overdose and almost died.

Now some people would say, “big freaking deal, you od’d!”  Well, the thing about it is that I did not want to wake up from an intentional overdose that I told no one about.  There was no letter, no teary-eyed phone calls.

I was twenty-three years old, frightened and disgusted.  I did not want to wake up.

But I did wake up.  I woke up and have been a different person since then.  I am not sure exactly what day I woke up as I have no recollection of any events immediately preceding my overdose, my hospital stay or my journey home.  I only know what my family tells me and then the snippets of flashbacks that float into my head from time to time.

My family told me it happened on July 19, 1996.  My 6-year-old daughter Sarah found my dead body.  911 was called and EMT’s worked on me for thirty minutes before they felt a pulse.  I was rushed to Frankford Hospital in Philadelphia and apparently was in a coma.  I don’t remember. Sometimes I think I remember, but then I realize that I remember what people have told me over the years, and in some warped sense those stories become twisted false memories.

I have a brain injury.  So at times I have issues with differentiating fact from fiction.  I have issues remembering things period.

When I overdosed (and died) I was not getting oxygen to my brain.  This affected the part of my brain that holds my short-term memory.  My long-term memory is intact, but my short-term memory is forever scarred.  If I can get information from my short-term to my long-term, I have it forever.

But that is the trick.  Getting from the short to the long.

I can’t remember:

  • people’s names.
  • directions.
  • what I read.
  • what people said.
  • grocery lists.
  • how I got where I am.
  • how to get home.
  • and tons of other crap that I forgot.

Now, this is par for the course for a lot of people.  But not for me.  It was never for me.  And now it is and some days I am fine and other days mortified because I feel like an ass.

I once wandered around the parking lot of the Willow Grove Mall for an hour because I could not find my car.

I once wandered around the floor of the Pep Boys Headquarters for almost an hour because I couldn’t find my cubicle.

I once drove around aimlessly for two hours because I got lost, stopped to ask for directions, and got lost again.

The list goes on and on, like I said.  But of course I forget all that stuff and I don’t remember anything unless it’s in my long-term memory or by association.

These days, I am a little better.  The doctors told me to do brain strengthening exercises like puzzles, reading, writing and stuff.  I write a lot and the other stuff I do, well, when I remember.

Do you know anyone that survived a brain injury?

Those Damn Emotions!

English: emotionsSo I’m sitting there on my couch, I make a comment, someone comments on the comment I make and… BOOM! Commence being up in my head fo the next 36 hours.
“Why did they say that?” “Am I not good enough?” “How can I be better?” “Dammit, my ex’s were right.” “If only I had better(insert trait or quality here).”

Why do I have to take everything so personally?  The truth is, I don’t have to take everything so personally.  I kind of choose to when it comes down to it; we all do. Maybe it is the way I am wired, maybe it is the way I was raised… who freaking knows.  All I know is it ticks me off and while through my twelve step program I have learned tools to combat my inner demons, sometimes they blind side me as I sit there with my soul bleeding through my fingers.

Now, back in the day (like three years ago) I had to let my offender know exactly what wrong they had done me and you can believe, that poor soul wished they never saw me after I was through with them: definitely a form of hostage taking at the highest level.

As I’ve walked this journey of sobriety and self-discovery I noticed something.  I am either really up or really down and when I am in between (very rare) I feel like something is wrong. I do try to be somewhere in the middle and get nervous if I am there for too long.  My boyfriend pointed this out to me.  He said something like, “Babe, blah blah blah.”  The truth is I don’t remember.  But it had something to do with me being up and down.  Had his statement hit me on an emotional level, I would have remembered what he said verbatim.  But it didn’t, so I just shrugged it off.

These days, I have a tendency to still hold resentments (bad ju ju in recovery!) but I handle them in a different manner… sometimes.  I am an emotional creature.  I find that most artists, writers, etc. are more emotional than others.  Maybe that is why we draw and write… I don’t know the answer to that either.

What I do know is that I have a sickening knot in my stomach now and my program flew out the window.  No, I did not drink or drug, but this anger/resentment/rage thing is nauseating.  If I get the laundry done in time, I’ll head to the 7 pm meeting tonight that is right up the street.  And yeah, I say “get the laundry done” because no one else is going to frigging get it done.

So, what should I do when I feel like this?

Call my sponsor.

Call someone else in the program.

Get to a meeting.

What should I not do?

ISOLATE AND THINK…. I am very good at this. I need to unlearn this behavior… stat.

Frustration… Procrastination… Those Damn ‘tions…

English: A Diagram of procrastination cycle. T...
English: A Diagram of procrastination cycle. Task features, internal factors, irrational beliefs, behavior and consequences are shown. used for a university assessment. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am at a point now in my life where things are pretty much exactly how I want them (minus the ‘I’m rich’ status).  I have an amazing man in my life.  He pretty much encompasses everything I ever wanted in a guy (he doesn’t like sports – but I look past that!) right down to the way he touches me and tells me he loves me.  There are so many other things that have happened in my life in the last 6+ years… I sat here tonight and thought… “I am truly humbled.”

See, everything was so overwhelming when I first got sober… I had truly hit rock bottom.  I was living in my enabler’s basement, my kids were taken from me by Youth Services and I was unemployable.  I remember dropping to my knees one night as I sobbed and begged God to help me.  God heard me and stepped in.  Of course, I had to do the footwork.  I did that footwork with such thirst and hunger… I still do the footwork to stay sober.  Staying clean and sober is an ongoing process that requires little thought on some days and a lot of prayer on others. I can’t remember the last time I actually craved a drink or drug.  I am fortunate in that sense… there are times at meetings I hear people share about how they “want to drink.” I am not saying I am immune to ever picking up a drink, but I can’t go there.  Me picking up a drink or a drug is like an average human being walking in front of an oncoming train.  Suicide.

FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD

The statement above is one of the truest I have ever read.  Think about it.  You can pray for a new job, a new home, more patience or a smaller butt, but those things are NOT going to fall into your lap without striving toward them.  I prayed for a new job in 2007 and busted my ass looking for one.  I found a great one.  I prayed for guidance with my previous relationship.  All the clues pointed to ending it and I did so.  I could go on and on….

Here is where things get iffy.  All the ‘tions’ I mentioned in the post title.. those are character defects.  Or as my Al-anon sponsor says (I’m ad-libbing here) “character defects are strengths unchecked.”

My biggest character defect is PROCRASTINATION.  I am so good at it, I could probably teach it as an art form at the local community college.  I come up with excuse after excuse and reason after reason for not doing what I need to do to go where I need to go.  Facebook of course is a huge catalyst in my procrastination, but really it is me.  I am the culprit; my own worst enemy to throw a cliché out there.

So I started thinking:  How can I stop procrastinating?  Because procrastinating and not doing what I need to leads to an overwhelming amount of frustration.  I’ll tell you how I can stop.

JUST STOP PROCRASTINATING AND START DOING! JUST DO IT ALREADY!  There is no magic pill that will help me with this crap.  There is no book, no seminar, no class, no pill, no drink, no anything that will help me do what I need to do… I just have to do it.

I want to publish my novel that I wrote in November of 2011… hasn’t happened because I haven ‘t done anything about it.

I want to score a cushy writing deal regarding alcoholism/addiction so I can help others and myself… hasn’t happened because I am inconsistent.

So there is the cycle.  I want to change my life… I procrastinate.. I get frustrated.. I give up.  And it goes on and on and I am exactly where I always am which is exactly where I do not want to be (in terms of a career).

So if I have faith that things will go the way they should go and I do the footwork to make my goals, dreams and aspirations come true, things will fall magically into place.

Do you procrastinate much?  How do you get over the lazy hump?

Telling on Ourselves (Step Five)

Steps and shadows
Steps and shadows (Photo credit: abrinsky)

Step Five:  Admitted to God, to ourselves and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

A couple of days ago, I posted “That Terrifying Fourth Step” and discussed how there is a palpable fear associated with Step Four.  I never understood that because Step Four is just writing it all down.  Writing down my searching a fearless moral inventory was somewhat unsettling since there are things that come up I never thought were in my head.  But I was okay with writing!  I mean, I am a writer and writing about myself (an egomaniac with an inferiority complex) was right up my alley.

Step Five is when I shared what I wrote with my Higher Power and another human being.  Think about that for a second.  I shared with God and another human being (my sponsor) the exact nature of my wrongs.  All the people I had harmed, all my character defects, all my fears; all of the anger and sadness inside of me had to come out. 

The most rewarding aspect of Step Five was the honesty with myself. I had been lying to myself and justifying behaviors for decades.  I never thought that being honest with me would be a stepping stone to freedom.

Sharing my wrongs with God was easy because my perception of my God changed after I entered AA and began work with my sponsor.  My God had always been a punishing God and I always felt so dirty after any wrong act or thought I ever did or had because I felt that my God would hate me.  Any ill will that came to me was because I was a bad person, did bad things and deserved to be punished.

I talked to my sponsor about my concept of God and she told me I could change my concept of God to what worked for me.  My God did not have to be an all-watching eye in the sky bent on punishing me, but could be a loving God capable of forgiveness.

When I had to share my inventory with my sponsor, I was a little apprehensive.  I mean, I was a people pleaser!  I was who I had to be at any given time; would go to painstaking lengths to achieve the role, no matter how it made me feel.  So sharing all the awful things, terrible thoughts and ideals I had been a little unnerving.

Step Five is no walk in the park. But the sense of accomplishment and self-confidence I felt after completing Step Five was amazing.  I felt lighter and, believe it or not, loved by my God for my honesty with Him, my sponsor and myself.

Have you ever had to tell on yourself?  How did you feel afterwards?

Finding Our Higher Power

Cover of "Came to Believe"
Cover of Came to Believe

Step Two: “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

It’s true.  When we first get clean and sober, finding something greater than ourselves to depend on is paramount. After all, in the throes of our addiction, it was alcohol and drugs that we served.  And that master/slave relationship almost killed us.  Almost.

Your Higher Power can be anything that helps you.  I choose to call my Higher Power God.  And it was God that I called upon that day in 2006 to restore me to sanity. I had nothing left; no hope, no will… nothing.  I had me and I hoped like hell I had God.

I believed that God could help me.  I believed that God could restore me to sanity.  He could and he did.  My obsession with alcohol and drugs vanished and I felt hope for the first time in many years when I sought God for salvation.

We can quit drinking.  We can stop using drugs, stop gambling, stop being promiscuous but if there is no structure, if there is no program, if there is no power greater than us to restore us to sanity, then we are only practicing abstinence. I’ve seen people do this and it has worked to keep the drink or drug down.  But that’s it. They were still angry, hurt, resentful and sad.

Finding a Higher Power is the stepping stone to a new way of life.  When I chose to believe that my God was a loving God and no longer a punishing one, I felt such a sense of peace. Instead of thinking every bad thing that happened to me or every hurdle I had to jump was because I was evil, I started to think “hey, maybe there is something to be learned here.  Maybe this is just life and I need to learn how to live life on life’s terms.”

Wow!  What a concept.

 

The Stalker Within Us

Image: epdeatonville.org
Image: epdeatonville.org

Not all of us have been a stalker or a stalkee, but for those of us who have been on either end of this creepy spectrum, this post should prove either interesting or appalling.

To the stalkers:  Your behavior does not make us want to be with you.  Sending us text messages, calling us frequently and threatening us with “you’ll never meet anyone like me ever again” does not work.  Like… really?  We are freaking hoping we never meet anyone like you… ever. 

You see, we left your sorry ass because of your suffocating, over-bearing, jealous behavior.  Nope, doesn’t matter how hot you are/were or how great in the sack you were or all the times you brought us lunch… we do not want you.

It is over.  Time for you to move on.

To the stalkees: Protect yourself!  Document all the irrational behavior on your stalker’s part.  If you can change your email or cell number, do it.  If not, keep text messages, emails, and all other correspondence.  This will come in handy should you require a protection order.

Do everything in your power to keep the stalker at bay: block them on Facebook, ignore their rants via text message, email and voicemail.  Most importantly, if they are harassing you in person, go to the police and get a protection order.

These situations are volatile and can turn dangerous.  Protect yourself! 

When Things Don’t Go … Our Way

Tattered and Torn
Tattered and Torn (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It will be a short post today.  My lovely internet is down at home.  So yeah, I am posting at the office.  This topic isn’t even in my list! But…

I had a situation happen over the weekend that had potential to turn pretty toxic.  We’ll just call it, “people who can’t let go.”  Anyway, there just comes a time when we have to say GOOD-BYE.

When we try to beat the square peg into the round hole, the square peg becomes worn… tattered… exhausted.  The round hole has moved on and so should probably the square peg.

For whatever reason, sometimes people who really want to be together just cannot be together because the relationship is toxic.  Maybe there is drugs involved, alcoholism, abuse, mistrust… the list goes on as to what could make a relationship toxic.  What makes it worse is when neither party recognizes the toxicity.

What makes it worse than that is when only one person recognizes the disaster masked with the word “love.” One person is desperately trying to hold on while the other is subtly trying to move on.

We will be touching on this topic in the coming months. Have a great week everyone!  Regularly scheduled blog posts will resume tomorrow.

Peace…

 

We Admitted We Were Powerless

Image: sabacooperative.org
Image: sabacooperative.org

“Step One: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.” This is taken from the Big Book and the Twelve & Twelve.

This is the only step we have to do perfectly.  To have an attitude that we “can drink once in a while” or “take a break” is dangerous.  Of course, this is something we alcoholics find out the hard way.  We have all at one time or another, woken up in the morning (or maybe we hadn’t even been to sleep) and said: Man, I am never doing that again! Only to be right back where we were, less than twenty-four hours later.

And let’s face it: admitting we are powerless over anything is tough for us humans.  We have this thing called “pride” that whispers in our ear that we can beat anything.  It whispers that giving up is for suckers and wimps. Our egos and pride tell us that people will laugh at us if we admit we cannot drink (or drug) anymore.

We had come to realize that once we put a drink in our bodies, we could not stop. That first drink rendered us helpless every time.

We tried to drink successfully.  We made empty promises (with good intentions!) that we would only drink beer, or that we would only drink on the weekend or that we would stop drinking at 11 pm. It may have worked for a little while, but ultimately it didn’t work at all.

We could not drink successfully.  We could not stop after one drink.  The minute we put that first drink in us, our bodies and minds crave more and we drink until we are either passed out, puking, in jail or in a crazy situation.  And yes, these crazy situations may make great stories (if we live through them) but they leave us with shame and regret.

The unmanageability of our lives may be that we keep showing up late for work (or not showing up at all), we aren’t paying our bills, we are cheating on our spouses or partners, we are getting in fights, driving intoxicated and ending up in jail.  It is one or some or all of these things.  We could not manage our own lives, we could not manage our drinking, we could not manage anything.

Step One is the only step we have to do perfect.  If we do that one step perfectly, we will begin the road to recovery and our lives will begin to change in a positive way.

F.E.A.R.

I was working with one of my sponsors a few weeks ago, and she told me this phrase.  I almost fell out of my chair.  There are a few acronyms for “FEAR” such as: F*ck Everything And Run and Face Everything And Recover.  But… False Evidence Appearing Real is the one that works best for me. I have a lot of fear in everything I do.  Or should I say, everything I don’t do.  Fear holds me back in many decisions.  Is that why I am so damn indecisive?

Umm… definitely.

There have been times I felt the fear and did it anyway.  Like, the first time I rode a motorcycle, or a roller coaster, or stood up for myself in junior high school when I got in a fist fight.  There was definitely a lot of fear in those instances, but I did it anyway.  Ok, maybe getting in a fist fight is not the best example… The point is, I felt the fear and pushed through it.

A lot of us as children were afraid of the dark.  I remember when I was a little girl, I was afraid of my closet.  I swore to everything that there was a monster waiting to eat me.  The false evidence was the creeks from behind the closet door.  The fear appeared real because I believed it.  I would jump up and turn the light on, go look inside the closet and hey… no monster!  Imagine that.  The false evidence had appeared very real.

I am going through a major life change in the next six weeks.  I decided I need to leave my boyfriend.  We met in recovery a couple of months after I got sober.  He has done a lot for me and we have been through some great times.  But I see the big picture and it is pretty blank.  I won’t go into the sordid details (although it would make for some interesting reading).  Let’s just leave it in the “we grew apart” ditch.

Fear is absolutely a healthy emotion in certain situations.

So I have to be out by December 1st! How will I do it? Who the hell knows… I have faith in God, in my program and in myself that I will pull through this.

Have you ever pushed through the fear? How did you overcome? Share your thoughts and stories below!