So a friend of mine told me about this blog called Kensington Blues. I thought, “hey, I’m from Philly, knew a lot of ‘Kenso’s’ growing up after junior high school, this should be interesting.”
Interesting was an understatement after I saw the photos of addicts on the streets of Kensington. I forced myself to look into their eyes of quiet desperation. My eyes darted over the real-life backdrops of littered streets, graffiti covered buildings and the devastating picture of Nichol who looks no older than fourteen.
The truth is no one wants a life on the street, selling their ass to get high or peddling for change to get another fix. Life just goes that way for some. I can’t explain it and I know in my heart that any of those women could have been me. That stark reality is forever at the forefront of my mind when I see a bottle of booze or happen to be within earshot of someone talking about drugs.
It is a life to which no one aspires. Sometimes it creeps in like a slow, ugly plague. Other times, it punches you in the throat when you’re thrown out of the house at eighteen or molested by a trusted adult.
Us addicts and alcoholics spent many minutes on our knees, begging God for salvation or death, whichever should come first.
Please, take a look at the blog. The life of an addict isn’t always some fancy story surrounded by a dysfunctional family in a three bedroom rancher portrayed on ‘Intervention.’ It can be much darker and sadistic.
Yes! Happy Summer Solstice everyone… today is the 21st day of June 2013. Being so, I decided I have been way too damn negative and I need to amp up my positive vibes!
While it is extremely easy for us to get into a slump it is just as easy to step out of that dark hole and count the blessings God bestows upon us each day!
Therefore, since it is the first day of summer, I am calling this “New Attitude Day.” No matter how down we get on ourselves sometimes, or how crappy we feel, there is always… always something to be grateful for. It could be something monumental or something as simple as having toothpaste. You get the idea…
Today is a gorgeous day here on the East Coast… filled with warm sunshine, cool breezes, chirping birds, a bright blue sky and tons of other things – all reminding me that there is a God…
Amazing things happen when we lose the “poor me” attitude and get grateful!
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 have always been a thinker… more like an over-thinker. I get something in my head that is pebble sized and before I know it there is a black boulder sitting in my skull that I want to smash out. This doesn’t happen as much as it used to (which is scary, because it happens more than I like) and sometimes when it does, I get sucked into that damaging moment and my program goes out the window. I don’t think about drinking or drugging because I have worked a solid 12 Step Program… but I guess, as much as I hate to admit it, I am human after all.
God has never given me anything I cannot handle. Sometimes I try to handle the hurdles alone, and that is when I find myself sobbing in a little ball on the couch or my bed. A light starts to glow in my head and I realize I need to pray, call a friend and journal.
IN THAT ORDER.
In the last couple weeks I learned that free write journaling does more damage to me because (and someone said it in a comment on my blog) I kinda get locked into that whiny, poor me thinking and get no reflection work done. If I pray and talk to someone before I journal, I can focus on a solution instead of staying in the problem. Which, honestly, my thinking is the biggest problem. I get really worked up over dumb stuff because sometimes, that little eleven year old voice in my head chimes, “How you feel does not matter, Darlene. Shut your mouth and stuff it down. Stuff it down!”
I cannot stuff it down. Also, I cannot go running to whomever I am upset with and start bitching about all the shit they did that offended me, hurt my feelings, made me angry or whatever. This is not a good idea. When I try to communicate to someone before I pray and talk to another sober individual, my thoughts come out of my mouth like verbal vomit.
The gift of interpretation is amazing in my life today. Instead of fearfully viewing an event as potentially hazardous, if I am in a good place, I can step back and sort the facts from the thoughts and go from there.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?