Day 8 – Control

Self Control (film)
Self Control (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“You cannot always control circumstances, but you can control your own thoughts.” ~ Charles Popplestown

Wouldn’t I just love to control everything, everyone and every circumstance so that I may never be upset, angry or hurt.  The truth is, I have no control over anything except my thinking, and that is where the trouble comes into play.

For years, I tried to control the behavior of others to manipulate my mood.  I would tell them how to behave so that I may be happy.  This is a temporary fix to a deep problem.

Honestly, the sheer effort it takes to control other people and their behaviors is exhausting.  Putting people where we think they belong, helping them act the way they should act and relying on others to make us happy is unfair to us and them.

Do you find that trying to control everything is exhausting?  

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Day 5 – Celebrating Freedom

Freedom
Freedom (Photo credit: Josef Grunig)

How awesome is it to celebrate freedom from the slavery of drugs and alcohol?  Once a drudgery of self-loathing and hatred, when I put down the drink and the drug, I found a new way of life and discovered freedom to the core.

There were no more lost moments of clarity.  Nights once spent in a drunken stupor were a thing of the past.  My nights turned into eating at diners after meetings with other like-minded people in search of a common goal.  I discovered that drinking and drugging were not a staple when it came to fun.

Fun and entertainment came in new and enlightening ways without drugs and alcohol.  As I started to work my program, the chain-links of self snapped one by one, creating a gate I could swing open into a new world.

One by one, I snapped a link one day at a time.

Amazing.

Day 2 – Pretending

Attraction
Attraction (Photo credit: Scott.Paterson)

“One of the best ways to uncover some of those long-hidden wants is to pretend.”

Yes!  This is a fancy way of saying, “Fake it until you make it.”  And why shouldn’t we?  A few years back I read “The Secret” which is all about the Law of Attraction.

Whatever your predominant thoughts are, you best believe that stuff is going to happen. Don’t believe me?  Have you ever driven to work (running late of course) and all that is on your mind is awful traffic along with foxhole prayers for no red lights?  And what happens?  Red lights and crazy traffic. UGH.

Yeah, I’ve been there, too!

Sometimes I envision great things for myself.  No, I still haven’t woken up looking like Julia Roberts, but I have noticed that when I pretend things are going to turn out awesome, they almost always do.

Sometimes I pretend that I am a bigtime writer for Rolling Stone magazine.  While that hasn’t happened yet, I am now writing about music for three websites.  Am I getting paid? Nope!  But I have my eye on the prize and I am loving what I am doing.

Have you ever tried positive thinking?  How did it work out for you?

Kensington Blues – A Hardcore Photo Blog

El fly-by
El fly-by (Photo credit: Tim McFarlane)

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.

Heartbreaking.

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.

See for yourself.

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?

H – Hell: It’s Not Just For Satan

Demon
Demon (Photo credit: ark)

Through my addiction, I thought I was escaping the self-inflicted hell I had brought upon myself.  I used and drank to escape my demons, never realizing I had created more each time I picked up. It’s a hard lesson, really, and one I am glad I grasped before I fell too far down that pit of scarred brimstone.

The sneakiness of addiction is interesting.  One night I was high as a kite sailing through a windstorm in a vain attempt to mask my hate and loneliness.  Before I knew it, I was living in a basement, my kids taken from me and I was further into hell than I could imagine.

I looked like walking death (literally – I should have taken a picture).  All that hate, self-loathing and insecurity I tried so hard to hide, seeped out of my pores like puss from a poorly popped pimple.  My isolation was profound.  I had resorted to sitting in a basement, doing drugs and drinking while writing pages and pages of angry, tormented journal entries. Those journals are lost forever, but some of the stuff I wrote looked like:

Why am I so pathetic? What the fuck is wrong with me?  I wish I would die in my sleep.  I’m ugly.  I’m a loser.  I did so much coke tonight and drank so much Blackhaus, I was sure I would die.  But here I am… awake for another epic fucking day.

The thing about such a revolting self-inflicted hell is… it’s damn hard to climb out of that hole. Being unemployed (and unemployable), weighing 120 pounds (I’m 5’10”) and feeling sick (like dope sick) and having to look at that shit in the mirror, it’s hard to say (or think): What the fuck am I doing? This sucks!

That’s crazy, right? But that’s what the demon did.  It caressed me slow and soft, told me lies all the while dragging me day by day to hell. I am eternally grateful that by the Grace of God and getting help from my program I was able to crawl and then walk out of the shadows I created. It was not an easy road, but after a while, I realized that the road (my new road) although rocky and sometimes bumpy, was a lot more pleasant than my old road which went right through hell.

When you were in darkness, did you ever think you’d see light?

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?”