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?

P – People – They Teach Me A Lot

Wawa Area
Wawa Area (Photo credit: Loimere)

As much as I hated my life until about six years ago, I always loved people.  My first job was at a 7-11 working the 6 am – 3 pm shift and after my shyness and terror wore off, I realized… I love this.  The interaction with the customers was my favorite part of the day.  Even now, working at an accounting firm, as crazy as tax season is, I love when clients come in the office.  There is just something great about being around people.  I always joke that being in nature would be heaven for me, and that really isn’t a joke… really.  I love being around the trees, water and animals.  But people…

While the things I learn from people vary, what is interesting is I learn a lot of behaviors and mannerisms I wish not to have or use. I worked at a Wawa (part-time) as a second job about two years ago.  I loved being on register because of the customers (even the grumpy ones!) and I smiled at everyone that came through my line.  Sometimes there were rude people, and that was okay.  Sometimes there were bratty kids – and bratty adults – who handed me their money in a little rolled up ball (please, if you do this… it is rude.. stop!) But still, I smiled… I loved the people.

One night, a pretty woman a little younger than me came through my line. When I saw her I thought of myself immediately.  Here was this attractive woman, dressed a little provocatively and she was drunk off her ass.  Now, maybe when I was new in sobriety, this would have been a trigger for me, but at this point, it was a sort of epiphany.  I felt sad and embarrassed for her as I rang her up and asked her if she was okay.  She laughed and said something snarky and of course, I just smiled.

After I said a small prayer for her that night before bed, I thanked God for my second chance at life.  I also thanked him for sending that woman through my line as a stark reminder of “what it was like” for me and then remembered “what it is like now.”

It is different and I love it.  I love waking up feeling the same way I went to bed.  I love being able to talk about things without screaming at someone and then drowning my sorrows in booze and drugs.

The people, places and things in my life today are amazing.  Thank you God.. and thank you to everyone else and my program for getting me on with getting on.

How do you handle the interesting people who enter your life on a daily basis?

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?

I – Inconsistency – The Backbone of Failure

rhizoming the plan of consistency . .Inconsistency should really be my middle name.  Throughout my life, I have been inconsistent about everything: work, family, kids, money and even hobbies.  I don’t know if I have untreated A.D.H.D. or if I am just inherently lazy, but this crap has plagued me since I was little.  I get all gung-ho about something and then a day, week or a month floats by and I say, “Wow, this is pretty f’ing boring.” Other times, I purposely refrain from proceeding, perhaps in an attempt to self-sabotage.  I’m really good at that.

Inconsistency is the main ingredient in any recipe for failure.  For me, not writing 500 words a day leads to no published novel (hell, not even a final draft!) along with many other unfulfilled dreams and aspirations that I could have if I just remained consistent.  I could sit here and make tons of excuses as to my lack of motivation, my screaming inconsistency and my lazy ways, but that’s just it.  They are excuses.

What I am consistent with: my program and abstaining from alcohol and drugs.  Please know that I am not bragging.  It isn’t set in stone that “I got this” when it comes to my recovery from alcoholism/addiction.  I see it too much in the places I go… people I care about falling off the wagon or never quite grasping the concept.  Maybe they did have the concept but for whatever reason, decided to “try to drink successfully.”  I can honestly say I have not seriously entertained taking a drink or drug in these past years… even when those silly, glamorized booze commercials come on the television or I watch a movie with blatant drug use.  I do get those little tummy knots sometimes when I watch something like that, but that’s my cue.  “Turn it off, Darlene.  Nothing to see here.”

By the Grace of God, I will have seven clean & sober years on May 26, 2013.

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?”

Keeping It Real

serenity
serenity (Photo credit: dragonflaiii)

So I was watching the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) this morning and there were all these fascinating episodes that dealt with “self.” Like, how we treat the self, how outside events impact the self and so much stuff I went out and bought a book by one of the people Oprah was interviewing.  “The Untethered Soul” by Michael A. Singer.  The book is to liberate us from a contained self-image.

Based solely on the interview, the information I gathered from the show and snippets of the book I scanned, I have hope that this book will break me through my final barrier… me.

I have always tried to keep it real.  I’ve tried to remain grounded in all I do, say or feel along with trying to be there for anyone who crosses my life path. But there are these things, these feelings, that get in the way on a consistent basis.  And when I let my head get the best of me, I am no longer keeping it real per say, but getting sucked into a myopic array of disillusionment which takes me back to that dark room of self-loathing.

Yeah, pretty messed up stuff.  The more messed up part of all this crap is that I project this putrid bile onto other human beings.  Instead of just being in a moment or looking at things for what they are, I tend to read deeper into whatever is going on and then I project my thoughts, insecurities and the like others.

This leads to:

  • self-doubt
  • self-loathing
  • insecurity
  • feeling less than
  • depression
  • self-sabotage
  • resentment

That is a pretty hefty list of awful feelings, ideals and all around yuckiness.

Lately, I have been way up in my head.  This is a tough place for me when I am trying to live a life of peace.  My head is not peaceful.  It is constantly chattering, whispering and telling me rotten things.  I believe these things.  I give my thoughts weight and that is when the horrible list above comes into play.  I used to drink and drug to get rid of these thoughts and feelings.  Drinking and drugging is not an option for me.

This is why I bought the book.  My thoughts (and yours) are so automatic, I never question them.  You’ve heard the saying, “I think, therefore I am.” UGH!!! How awful is that? I certainly do not want to be what I think!  My twelve-step program helps ( a lot!) but lately I just feel like I need an added tool.

As I go through this book (highlighting sentences and paragraphs like I always do) I will be updating my blog with what I have learned and if any of it is making sense.  It made sense on Oprah’s show, therefore, I am sure it will make sense.

Also, I signed up for 21 Day Meditation Challenge.  It is free and looks like a lot of fun.  Check it out!

How do you battle your demons?

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? 

Anger: The Truth

Angry Talk (Comic Style)
Angry Talk (Comic Style) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I noticed something about myself yesterday and it wasn’t one of those, “oh wow, this is so cool!  I didn’t know I could do that!” epiphanies.  It was more like an, “are you freaking kidding me, why do I do this?” glaring defect.

Sometimes I act a certain way, think a certain way or feel a certain way simply because I think that I THINK this is what I am supposed to do.  Like, I really get upset over unmonumental bullcrap.  Sincerely. This light bulb went off in my head this morning.

So then I ask myself: “WHY AM I SO DAMN ANGRY?”  Like, why do I let my head control me to the point of borderline insanity?  I don’t know the answer to this question, but I do know that it drives me batty and I am in the painstaking process of changing the way I think so I can change the way I feel there by changing the way I act.

Simple? 

Sometimes.

Did you ever tell someone something and their reaction is along the lines of, “Well, just stop doing that.” or “Think about something else.” or (and this is my favorite) “Get over it.”

Get over it?! Cue bitter resentment teetering on unabated rage. “Nobody tells me to get over it!  I’ll get over it when I’m good and ready!” “How dare you tell me that.  You don’t know how I feel.”

Yeah, somebody call me the Waaambulance. 

So, this morning after much coffee and a bowl of Special K Fruit & Yogurt (okay, two bowls) mature thoughts started to creep in my head (kinda like a black goo, only not as ugly) and I started to think:

  • I do not have to feel this way! 
  • Anger is a choice and it’s on me if I choose anger (or any one of the subcategories of anger).
  • I can come back to these ugly thoughts later.
  • I will feel how I choose to feel today.

Let me repeat that last one:  I will feel how I choose to feel today.

And that there is the truth about anger.  We choose to feel angry, resentful, jealous, bitter and any of the other byproducts of hate.  We also choose to feel many of the byproducts of love.  We get to choose how we feel about anything at any moment in any situation.  We have that power. That’s some huge stuff right there! 

Today I have a choice and so do you. Today I will choose love over anger, confidence over insecurity and acceptance over jealousy.

What will you choose?

Building a Sober Network

English: A photo of a cup of coffee. Esperanto...
English: A photo of a cup of coffee. Esperanto: Taso de kafo. Français : Photo d’une tasse de caffé Español: Taza de café (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I first came in the rooms, I did not know what to expect.  As an active alcoholic, I made it a point to avoid people (especially women) at all costs because of the shame I felt inside. So when I got sober, went to meetings, and saw people talking and laughing as they drank coffee from little Styrofoam cups I was kind of freaked out. It was one of those things like, “Ok, I didn’t know what to expect, but I surely did not expect this.”

Being a woman (and I hear this in the rooms and the stories) and newly sober I did not get along with other women.  I stuck with the men because I had always been more comfortable with men and apparently, I am/was not the only woman who felt that way. 

It took me a good three years before I took a deep breath and started chatting with women outside the rooms before the meeting, during the break and after the meeting.  There is a slogan “show up early and stay late” concerning meetings and that is the best thing any alcoholic can do to build a sober network.

There is also a slogan “the men stick with the men and the women stick with the women” that newly sober people should stick to, but rarely do (I did not stick with the women in early sobriety and wish I would have).

How I Built My Sober Network

The biggest thing in building my sober network was getting rid of the old, drunk network I once had. That was first and foremost as people, places and things are a huge part of getting sober and staying sober. So I had to weed out my old “party” friends and replace them with new sober friends that have similar goals in mind.

As I met people in the rooms and got phone numbers (from women!), I quickly realized that getting a phone number and actually calling that number were at opposite ends of the comfort spectrum level. I had to talk to these women or I was going to stay stuck in the rut of anger, resentment and bitterness that had consumed my life.

 This is what I did:

  • Said hello to women at meetings.
  • Made it a point to make small talk with women during break.
  • Got phone numbers and gave out my phone number to women at meetings.
  • Went to women’s meetings.

Doing all of those things was extremely uncomfortable but they needed doing and I could feel myself grow a little more each time I talked or interacted with another woman in the program.

Today I do not have many female friends, but the friends I do have are good, sober women that I can count on if I ever need an ear a shoulder.  We have coffee, chat about life stuff (not always pertaining to sobriety), are honest with each other about where we are, and if there may be a better way of doing things.

Tell me about your network (sober or otherwise).