Not sure if you ever saw the movie “Shawshank Redemption,” but there is a great scene in that film regarding ‘hope.’ Tim Robbins’ character has it and Morgan Freeman’s character thinks he is hopelessly romancing hope because hope is a heart breaker.
Maybe it depends on the person when it comes to hope. I used to feel disdain for hope. Maybe it was because I grouped hope with wishing and praying when I was using and drinking. Then again, the things I hoped for were things like not getting pulled over by the police while I was high or having twenty extra dollars in my pocket to finish getting my load on. Go figure.
These days ‘hope’ is very different for me. I do hope for material things like hitting the lottery or waking up one day with big boobs, but I know these things aren’t going to happen, so I am acting the child when it comes to hoping, praying and wishing for things.
I need to redirect my hope to attainable things that are not materialistic. I write music reviews for three different websites. At this moment, I am not paid for this, but that’s okay. I love what I do. I hope to one day get paid to write about music, but until then I will work my day job and write about music in the evening.
I hope to one day have a flourishing career in the music/writing industry.
“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?
When I was little I played games like most kids. Hopscotch, Tag and Freedom were some of my favorites. As I got older, I joined a few organized sports like softball and basketball. I was athletic and while I didn’t particularly enjoy losing, I did it gracefully… sometimes.
Somewhere along the way I learned the awful habit of comparing myself to others. My looks, my education, my material belongings… all of this and more was never good enough, never small enough, never big enough, never pretty enough; it was never enough and there began my dark spiral into the “not’s” as I call them.
Comparisons are like keeping score and I came up short (the loser) every damn time.
Something I’ve learned in sobriety is to compare myself to myself. Everything about me I need to compare only to myself because, being a good alcoholic, it is easy for me to tailspin into a dark hole of self-doubt and woe-is-me.
“She’s prettier.” “Her boobs are bigger.” “Oh my gosh! Look how cute her feet are! I wish I had feet like that!” I mean, it goes on and on and on! Ugh… I can go from 100 to 0 in less that thirty seconds when I start keeping score in my head.
Keeping score wears on my self-esteem, it shows on my face and most important it drains me. Luckily, I love to read self-help books, go to meetings and talk with other women. I have learned when I start to keep score and am learning how to stop.
Say the Serenity Prayer.
Realize that everyone is beautiful in their own way (including me).
I am better than I was a year ago.
I am on my own journey, and it is amazing.
Focus on my attributes.
These are some of the ways I deal with my “not’s.” I’m human, so some days are easier than others.
When I was about thirteen, I was “dating a boy” and I remember standing on the street corner with him and some friends and this pretty girl walked by. My “boyfriend” looked at her and I remember getting a twinge in my belly and then dismissing it. After all, he was only watching a girl walk by.
Fast forward a year to my new boyfriend (and the guy I would marry, have children with and divorce) who took jealousy to a whole new level for me. I had never been jealous before. If you had asked me what it meant at that age, I probably couldn’t have told you. I was young, silly and failing at fitting in to any group or click.
Now, after I married this guy and he berated, belittled and abused me, jealousy was something I came to know first hand. He took to pulling out Playboy magazines and telling me he wished I looked like the women that donned those shiny, seedy pages. Furthermore, he would (for a year) compare me to his ex-girlfriend in every aspect. Each time he did these things (all in the name of love, of course) I felt smaller, less than and wanted to be what he wanted me to be. I would get that angry little knot in my belly and start mentally beating myself up.
I still struggle with jealousy. Some people ask me why… and all I can say is, “your perception of me and my perception of me are on different avenues.” People tell me I am beautiful, pretty, smart, etc. And sometimes I really do feel that way.
But all it takes is my perception of beauty, intelligence or confidence to grace my presence in the form of another woman and boom. I’m jealous, insecure and comparing myself. And I almost always turn it inward.
So I pray, write snippets on ripped pieces of paper and throw them in my God Box. I talk to my friends in the program about how I feel sometimes. It helps. I hope someday to vanquish my jealousy.
I’m definitely better these days… Progress, not perfection.
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?
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:
feeling less than
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.
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.
I go to a meeting.
I talk to my friend, Heather.
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.
When I was new in sobriety and going to my outpatient group along with attending four or five AA meetings a week, I heard “people, places and things” a lot. When I was out drinking, using and being a degenerate, my people, places and things were drug dealers, bars and excuses to give me the fuel to drink or use more.
My very first time in an attempt to get sober was in January of 2005. Now, my reasons for wanting to get clean and sober were inwardly pathetic. I told my dad I did not want to get high or drunk anymore. He said, “Darlene, is this an attempt to detox so it won’t take so much to get drunk or high?” “Of course not, Dad. I really mean it!” So on New Year’s Day in 2005 my dad drove me up to Livengrin in Bensalem, PA and dropped me off to detox for four days.
Now, when I went in there, my dad was right on the money. That was exactly why I wanted to go to detox. But after being in there and getting weaned off of opiates and detoxing from alcohol and spending time with people who had it far worse than I did, I changed my mind. I really did want to get clean and sober.
After four days in detox, I got out and felt refreshed. I had a roommate who lived in Bucks County (I was living in Philadelphia at the time) and we exchanged numbers so we could hit a meeting in a couple of days.
I went to an AA meeting with her; it was the only AA meeting I attended in 2005. My dealer lived right down the street from me and I knocked on her door about seven days after I had gotten out of detox, told her I just got out of detox and asked her if she had anything. She looked at me stupefied. Looking back, I do not blame her.
See, people, places and things are huge in recovery. I am not saying that everyone that goes into recovery or treatment or gets clean and sober should move, change their name and paint their dog, but it is a good idea to be aware of triggers (people, places and things).
How I avoided people, places and things:
1) I moved. This is not possible for everyone, but it helped me.
2) For the first few months of my sobriety, I avoided passing establishments (places) I previously frequented.
3) I worked on what my triggers were and went to great lengths to recognize them; not embellish them and use them as an excuse to drink.
For those who cannot move, I suggest building a strong sober network and keeping in touch with those people. Addicts and alcoholics still active in their addiction/alcoholism feel resentful at those trying to get sober. And while they will not necessarily try to drag someone down who is trying to get clean and sober, they will not exactly be on your cheering squad.
I have a friend I used to get high with and had coffee with him a couple of times after being new in sobriety. I could not figure out why I had an awful knot in my stomach and wanted to get high each time I was in his presence.
Thankfully, I had a great sponsor and was in outpatient therapy at the time (both of these helped me greatly) that gave me the tools to recognize that he was a “people” and I needed to cut ties for a while.
Do you have any people, places or things that trigger you into bad behavior?