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!
What a cliché, right? The first time I actually heard this saying was in the movie “Kiss of Death” with David Caruso. David’s character was the one who said it and the phrase kind of echoed in my brain every moment since then when things got a little (or a lot) rough.
Also, “Stronger” is a great uplifting song by Kelly Clarkson. Check it out of you haven’t heard it. You’ll like it, I’m sure.
But I’m not here to talk about Kelly or David. I am here to talk about the hurdles we face, the doubts that creep and the life stuff that keeps on happening even when we just want to slam the door shut and get five minutes of peace.
You see, I feel like God keeps testing me and my faith. Is it a test of how sincere I am in my willingness to change and hand stuff over? Maybe. I don’t know. I do try to hand stuff over on a daily basis. I pray every morning and every night and I always ask God for the knowledge of His will and the power to carry it out. That is another blog post entirely, because I still struggle with that. What is God’s Will?
I always try to do the next right thing, keep my word and help others. There is a lot of truth in the fact that if I always do these three things, I will always have a great day and will feel truly blessed. And it really happens that way for me, until something upsets me.
Usually I try to figure the crap out by myself through journaling or talking with friends. Tonight I tried something different. I called my al-anon sponsor.
That was the best idea I had in the last three weeks.
The things that won’t kill me and have the capacity to make me stronger are those life events that I think I can’t handle, but wind up handling. I then look back and say, “Wow. How did I get through that?” You’ve said it, too. Those painful, disturbing chaotic life events that happen to us – sometimes gradually, sometimes immediately – and take us to a realm of being we’ve never experienced before. We get through them; all of them. And when we come out on the other end, that’s exactly what we ask ourselves: how did I get through that?
I think analyzing such things is pointless. To reflect would be okay, but analyzing kind of kills the element that you did get through that thing you thought you never could. Basking in the moment of triumph would probably feel a whole lot better. Analyze later.
Was there ever a moment you thought you could not go on but managed to get through? How did you feel afterwards?
Emotions are a part of our internal make-up. All emotions derive from two core feelings: love and hate. Slice it how you want, all the positive feelings we have stem from a form of love, all the negative feelings stem from hate.
I just finished reading a great book (I reviewed it – the link to that will be up within a couple of weeks) called, “Why You Drink and How to Stop” by Veronica Valli. I was skeptical at first, but I kept an open mind and although I am over six years into my sobriety, I learned some valuable information from this book regarding emotions.
One of the worst behaviors I ever learned was “acting out based on emotion.” Being a woman who wears her heart on her sleeve, if something made me feel sad or angry, I would act accordingly. Likewise, if something made me feel happy or fuzzy, the addict in me would react in a positive manner and want more, more, more.
Now, human beings are emotional beings. Duh, like I am telling you something you do not already know. However, when we let our emotions rule us, we get into trouble. There is no law or rule that dictates “everyone must know how everyone feels all the time.”
I will share a psychotic story from my past:
When I was 22 years old, I was already married for six years. Yep, I got married when I was 16. It was part of that whole “alcoholic thinking.” As an alcoholic, I thought outside circumstances could fix the way I felt inside always.
I had found out my husband at the time was cheating on me and I went ballistic. Like full on rage mode: seeing red, black, shaking, and everything else, that comes with unabated rage. Being ruled by my emotions (all stemming from hate) I decided to do what I thought was in my best interests and show him.
So, being out of my mind (and to make a long story short) I wound up smashing my beautiful 1986 Monte Carlo into his pick-up truck. Yeah, not smart. This is not the best way to express emotion! Now I had new feelings and emotions to deal with: remorse, guilt and sorrow.
In the midst of the insanity, I thought I was expressing emotion in a healthy way! I mean, I was pissed and needed to let someone know, right? Well, maybe… but there are healthier ways to express emotion.
One of the best tools I learned in sobriety is to take a moment and calm the hell down. Just because I am feeling “some kind of way” does not mean I need to freak out, hop in my car to drive like a maniac or start throwing dishes.
Some of the ways I have successfully controlled my emotions:
Calling a sponsor or a friend and talking it out.
Chanting a mantra. “Feelings aren’t facts, facts aren’t feelings.”
Going for a walk or some other physical exercise.
And yes, even taking a nap.
I know I have brought up journaling a bit in previous posts, but writing does help. Moreover, finding what helps (not hinders or hurts) to control and deal with emotions is the key.
I still have a tendency to wear my heart on my sleeve, which may just be one of those character defects I have to learn to control if it has not been removed.
Keeping a progress journal is not “AA approved work” but it helped me. As a writer, journaling has always been my go-to for jotting down ideas, writing my dreams and aspirations and detailing my day-to-day events. Journaling does not always have to be writing. It can be doodling, drawing, cutting and pasting pictures from magazines and even using stickers.
There was a period of about a year in my early sobriety that I would cut out a meditation from “Meditations For Women” and tape it in my journal. I would then reflect on the passage by writing my own ideas and finish it up with cute stickers on the page. It worked for me and when I went back and re-read my entries years later, it gave me hope that change is possible.
For example: on May 26, 2008 I celebrated two years of sobriety yet was still feeling insecure and helpless in a sense. On May 26, 2010, after four years of sobriety, I could see that I was making concrete changes to the way I thought, which in turn changed the way I felt. I had let go of old ideals and notions, replacing them with healthier ways of thinking (and living). On May 26, 2012, I celebrated six years of sobriety and still on a journey of self-discovery and acceptance of truth in my life.
Journaling allowed me to express myself without fear of being judged. It allowed me to express ideas that may or may not be accepted by society. Today I use Penzu, which is an online password protected website where I write my heart out. Of course in the beginning (when it was all new and shiny) I was journaling in Penzu everyday, but like anything else in my life, the shininess dulled and I started journaling when the mood struck or I was really pissed off. I also journal when I feel elated (like when I met my new boyfriend).
Through journaling, which is really just a way of being blatantly honest with myself, I learned what I want in life, what mattered, what didn’t matter, what pissed me off, what made me happy, what I thoroughly enjoyed, what personality traits in myself (and others) I liked and disliked. I learned that I always have the option of changing and adapting. The way I think can always be re-arranged until I am able to think in a way that leaves me feeling peaceful and full of love.
As 2012 comes to a close… I have looked through my Penzu journal, gone through old notebooks and basically stepped back and looked at the canvas of my life. It hasn’t exactly been a spectacular year… but then it has been a spectacular year. I fell down a cliff on a quad, I celebrated six years of sobriety in May, I started going to Al-Anon (which changed my life!) and I ended a six year, toxic relationship never dreaming that I’d enter into a new relationship with a man who I am pretty sure was made just for me.
I read somewhere that when we order up the life we want to exact specifications, we just might get it. Well, I seem to be on my way.
Procrastination – Insecurity – Self-loathing – Laziness – Self-doubt – feeling unworthy in most situations. Ahhh.. those old ugly beliefs and bad thoughts that I wish I could beat with a hammer. However, thoughts are not tangible so I have to beat them with positive thinking!
Get it done! I am beautiful! I can and will prevail! Successful author! I have to fake it ’til I make it – and my advice to all of you is to do the same. Faking it ’til we make it is like a mental affirmation of determination that only we know about. It kinda goes along with that whole “The Secret” thing. Trust me – it freaking works.
How about you? What is your out with the old, in with the new for the coming year?
I thought life was supposed to get more simplistic as age came along… no? Not in my life. I am sure there is still hope.
My life is more amazing these days than it was this time last year and the year before that, and so on. Who knows what is in store? Only God knows.
In writing news, I started back up with my Friday Flash Fiction segments. I posted the first one last Friday. It kind of pales in comparison to some of my earlier work, but it turned out just the way I hoped. If you want to check it out, you can do so by clicking here.
In sobriety news, I will be hooking back up with my sponsor at some point this week. I hit a meeting last week and will hit one this week. My six-year anniversary is in two weeks.
In life news, I am really doing some soul-searching as to what this life holds for me and where I can tweak it to maximize my usefulness and potential.
I am faced with interesting dilemmas and decisions as far as living arrangements and mental health. Funny how the two seem to be coinciding.
I was excited to finally get back into editing my WIP today. I had the whole day to myself, Saturday! It was great.
So… for this week:
continue to edit WIP.
walk 20-30 minutes a day.
get to an al-anon meeting.
continue to look for a reasonably priced car (my car is dying).
journal, journal, journal. I have been doing this a lot and it is really helping me find out about who I am and what I want.
I hope everyone had a great week and that this coming week will be even better than the last.
How do we reinvent ourselves? We have to change things up. Reinventing means taking something old and making it different. We reinvent ourselves when we take a long hard look at what is going on in our life and figure out what is or is not working.
Maybe you have a bad attitude at work or maybe you wear the same damn type of clothes every single day or you read the same types of books all the time. CHANGE IT UP!
When we reinvent ourselves we are giving our self permission to step outside the box – that box of fuzzy blanket comfort – and recharge our batteries.
Maybe you had your eye on a new journal to write in that will bring forth ideas for that book you have been wanting to write or maybe there is a class that you have been wanting to take because you just know it will do you tons of ooey goodness.
I’ll tell you what. All the nerve I possess I can thank my Gram for. She never let me be a sissy and stay in the same humdrum routine when I was a little girl. She taught me that if I want anything to change I have to change it. I have to reinvent it. I reinvent myself each day when I try something new or put a positive spin on a negative situation.
You can do it too!
The Day’s Ponder: When was the last time you reinvented yourself? Write down three ways you can reinvent yourself.
How much fun is it to journal? Maybe something happened that excites you so much you need to make a written memory of it. That way, there is a note to go back to so you can relive it again and again.
I have been journaling since I was about twenty-four years old or so.
I wish I had all of my old journals. They held some fantastic emotions along with amazing descriptions of dreams and delusions. I do have my journals from my first year of sobriety – they are interesting years later.
Journaling is a great way to get it out or hold it in. It is a great way to dream big or start small.
Do you keep a journal for your thoughts? How about a journal for your characters in your work in progress? Maybe you keep a weight loss journal or a food journal.
Maybe you put little sketches in your journal or cut out positive quotes to stick in there for prompts. Maybe you buy stickers at the dollar store and after your entry, you place them just so to frame your thoughts.
Whatever the case, journaling can be a lot of fun.