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? 

Coping In Sobriety

Clean and Sober
Clean and Sober (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I first got sober, it was pretty easy for me.  I’m not bragging, but I had hit such a low point that I figured getting clean and sober might well be worth a shot.  The one thing I hadn’t discovered in my new sobriety was ways to cope with life on life’s terms. This was definitely something I needed to figure out quickly.

See, life just kept on happening to me. It didn’t matter that I was clean and sober, or that I was trying to do the next right thing.  It didn’t matter that I was making a valiant effort to see my kids, to stay away from people, places and things or that I was working a rigorous twelve-step program.

My car still broke down, I still got yelled at by my boss and I still had (very) bad hair days.

Of course I would go into the “poor me” cloud.  “Hey, I’m doing the right thing… what’s this crap all about?” I had this grandiose sense of self (huge ego!) that since I finally started to do the right thing (after years of doing very wrong things) that I should get a reprieve of sorts and nothing bad should ever happen to me ever again.  Ever.

Reality check: shit happens. I had to deal with life on life’s terms and I had to find out pronto how to do that.

The only way I could do that was to go to meetings, be around other sober people who had serious clean time and work a good program.

I learned that drinking or drugging was not a coping tool.  It just added fuel to the already out of control fire that raged inside me.

I learned that I should start writing again and that I am a pretty good photographer.  I learned my triggers and how to avoid them most of the time.  Sometimes triggers still invaded my head space (usually when my mind was idle) and I learned that the best thing to do in that situation was to call another alcoholic in recovery. Maybe they could help me.  Turns out, I was helping them just as much as they were helping me.

I couldn’t wrap my head around that one.  How the hell could I possibly help someone with years of sobriety when I was so new? Now that I have over six years clean and sober, I know how.  Because when I talk to someone new in sobriety it puts things in perspective and reminds me of the way I used to think. I no longer think that way.

Some of the ways I learned to cope:

  • Go to a meeting. Talk to another alcoholic in recovery.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Write.
  • Go for a drive.
  • Listen to music.
  • Go to a park.

I can always come back to the problem later.  Obsessing and keeping the problem at the forefront of my mind will not help me.  And trust me, I am huge on obsession.  After all, I am an alcoholic and everything is about me.

If I had a dollar for every time I asked someone “What’s wrong?” with the presumption that it had to be something I did, I would be retired and living in my dream cabin in the mountains.

See, another HUGE thing I had to learn to cope with was myself.  I had to learn that people pleasing was not a coping tool, rather a way to mask whatever guilt or remorse I was feeling. I had to cope with that.  I had to learn how to recognize the difference between actually coping and sweeping the problem under the rug or enabling someone or using other poor methods:

  • drinking
  • drugging
  • silent scorn
  • blame
  • defensiveness
  • ignoring the feeling
  • manipulation

None of these ways worked!  These were not coping tools, these were character defects that I used to hurt people to get my way, pretending I was right (when I knew I was wrong).  Because as long as I was sure other people knew I was right, I felt better, if only for a short time.

How do you cope with day-to-day life or problems that come down your road?

The Little Things

This is a "thought bubble". It is an...
This is a “thought bubble”. It is an illustration depicting thought. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There comes a point in sobriety when the pink cloud of perfection and “I got this” dissipates.  Life continues to happen as we settle into our newfound freedom.  We settle back into our old way of thinking if we are not working a good program.

There will always be little things.  Life will happen on life’s terms consistently ( we can bank on that!) and it is up to us to learn a new way of coping to deal with the enigmas of life.

Slogans like, “Live and Let Live” and “Life on Life’s Terms” are important throughout our sobriety.  When we were out there, we let everything bother us. We harbored resentments over a lot of crap.  We were angry at our family, friends, the system and God.  We felt wronged and justified in our anger.

This thought process destroyed us!  It destroyed me for sure.  Some of the things that made me angry were other people, traffic, television, my mate at the time and the weather just to name a few.  It took me years to get it in my head that I was letting people, places and things control me by thinking I could control them.

This makes for one ticked off individual.  And how ridiculous is it being upset over little things we have zero control over. It is the moments of perceived loss of control that the Serenity Prayer comes in handy:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Once we realize the only thing we have control over is the way we think and that the way we think affects the way we feel, we now have a sense of freedom.

The Stalker Within Us

Image: epdeatonville.org
Image: epdeatonville.org

Not all of us have been a stalker or a stalkee, but for those of us who have been on either end of this creepy spectrum, this post should prove either interesting or appalling.

To the stalkers:  Your behavior does not make us want to be with you.  Sending us text messages, calling us frequently and threatening us with “you’ll never meet anyone like me ever again” does not work.  Like… really?  We are freaking hoping we never meet anyone like you… ever. 

You see, we left your sorry ass because of your suffocating, over-bearing, jealous behavior.  Nope, doesn’t matter how hot you are/were or how great in the sack you were or all the times you brought us lunch… we do not want you.

It is over.  Time for you to move on.

To the stalkees: Protect yourself!  Document all the irrational behavior on your stalker’s part.  If you can change your email or cell number, do it.  If not, keep text messages, emails, and all other correspondence.  This will come in handy should you require a protection order.

Do everything in your power to keep the stalker at bay: block them on Facebook, ignore their rants via text message, email and voicemail.  Most importantly, if they are harassing you in person, go to the police and get a protection order.

These situations are volatile and can turn dangerous.  Protect yourself! 

Pushing Through

Image: faithoncampus.com
Image: faithoncampus.com

Once we realize that we are powerless and cannot get through sobriety (or anything for that matter) without a higher power, we are now in the position of knowing what to do.  There is a saying (and I am ad-libbing here): “Once you know, you can never not know.”

This picture above is also a magnet.  I saw it at Barnes & Noble one day and snatched it up.  It is on my refrigerator as a stark reminder to do just what it says. And I live by this rule in a selective way.

I’ll explain.

There are times, of course, when we need to give up.  If my car isn’t starting and I am about to crank it for the umpteenth time, I need to give up.  When drinking and drugging are leaving you feeling beaten down repeatedly.  Because doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is insane.

Ya hear what I’m sayin’?

If you or someone you know is struggling with staying away from a drink or a drug (or any other addiction) the most important thing to remember is “just don’t pick up.”  Because picking up is giving up.  Picking up is giving up on your sobriety, giving up on yourself, giving up on the potential that you have!

This is something I think about from time to time. Of course, being an alcoholic, a drink will flutter across my mind like some deranged, chaotic butterfly.  It is a fleeting thought and it flutters out as fast as it entered.  Behind the thought of a drink comes all the memories of the insanity I called life at one point.  That is what keeps it green for me.  Going back to the life of hell I once lived would be insane.

Here are some ways to push through:

  • get to a meeting.
  • call someone.
  • go for a walk.
  • write.
  • listen to music.
  • pray.
  • draw.

How have you pushed through?

Out With the Old – A Time to Reflect

Reflect
Reflect (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

The Old:

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!

The New:

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?

Dear Me – A Letter to My Fifteen Year Old Insecure Self

So I came upon this post courtesy of the talented Jeff Goins.  Listen to me, I “came upon.”  The truth is I follow his amazing blog and even bought his book “Wrecked.”  Check it out.  You can thank me later.

The gist is this:  Write a letter to your fifteen year old self.  Simple!  What would you say to yourself?  What would you tell you to value?  What would you tell you to not get in such a tizzy about?

After you write your letter, link back here to the Friday, September 14, 2012 post.

Annnnd, one more thing before we get started… Check out Emily Freeman’s book Graceful (for young women).  I plan on it!

Dear Me:

Hey.  I know you’re sad and you feel misunderstood and you’re lonely. I get it.  But I have to tell you that you looked for love in all the wrong places.  Turns out, you may have been an ugly duckling (all skinny and gangly) but you filled out quit nicely.  You always had a problem with anger, but it suited you well and really calmed down after 30.

Oh, and by the way, you’re an alcoholic.  Yeah, it turns out, after a serious run in the dirt, it is a blessing in disguise.

So here are my tips to you, lassy:

1. Boys are not everything.

2. Follow your dreams, no matter what your dad says!

3. Stop frowning!  Gram is right, your face really does stay that way.

4. Please stop cutting yourself. The emotional scars heal, but those scars on your wrist will be there for life.

5. You have great thoughts, don’t be afraid to voice your opinion.

6. No one is watching you.  Okay, maybe one or two people here and there.  But not everyone all the time.  Get over it and be silly!

7. I know you like to think you know everything.  You don’t.

8. You should listen to the adults in your life more.  They’ve been there and are so not blowing smoke up your arse.

9. Stop being such a people pleaser!

10.  You have an amazing smile!  Smile more. Frown less.

With much love and admiration,

The still crazy head banging chick you grew to love.

All About Perspective

What do you see?

Perspective.  We all have our own.  Some perspectives we learn over time while others we form on the drop of a dime.  I have said, in earlier posts, that I find people fascinating.  Their tastes, their mannerisms, and their idiosyncrasies.  But what I am really into is their perspective.

For example:  the glass to the left of this post.  Half full?  Half empty?  Too much?  Not enough?  Do you even care?

I was at a meeting last night and at the end, we all went outside.  A lot of us stand around and chitter chatter sometimes; getting to know each other and all that. I was talking to my old sponsor, and I spotted this huge bug on the wall to the right of me.  It was huge and beautiful, from my perspective.

I started to ease my hand under the bug (my mother had shown me how to do this just this past weekend) and my old sponsor started to become uncomfortable.

“Please, Darlene.  Don’t do that!” she begged me.

“Why?  It’s a harmless bug.  Look how cool he is,” I defended as I edged my hand under the left rear leg.

“Cool?  It’s ugly and it will hurt you,” she said.  I could hear her perspective from the fear in her voice.

I really wanted to hold this bug and get a better look at it.  From my perspective it was just a bug; a misunderstood bug judged solely on appearance.  My perspective saw beauty and uniqueness.

I decided to spare everyone (at this point more people were watching) the horror of me (gasp!) actually picking up a giant bug to revel in the beauty I saw in God’s little creature.  My old sponsor relaxed and so did a few other people after I moved my hand away from the bug.  I felt a little sad because I didn’t get to pick the bug up.

However, I am happy that I got to see it and that I didn’t cause mass hysteria! 😉

Life is all about perspective.

Have your perspectives ever changed?  How do you feel about bugs?

A – Z Challenge ~ Z is for Zen

zen bedroom
zen bedroom (Photo credit: evoluc)
Zen is:
1. Chinese, Ch’an. Buddhism . a Mahayana movement, introduced into China in the 6th century a.d. and into Japan in the 12th century, that emphasizes enlightenment for the student by the most direct possible means, accepting formal studies and observances only when they form part of such means. Compare koan, mondo.
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2. the discipline and practice of this sect.
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Zen is also:
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The practice of finding complete peace and tranquility within one’s self.  I have a friend with whom I talk to about peace, zen and tranquility.  We have our own views of zen.  But, that is the beauty of Zen.  It is where ever you find peace.
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Your zen is unique.  Maybe your zen is sitting at a coffee shop surrounded by people, or maybe it is sitting on a giant rock in the middle of nowhere surrounded by trees.
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Whichever your zen, try to find it at least once a week.  Go to your zen spot (if you can do up your bedroom in a zen-like state, even better) and breath in through your nose, exhale through your mouth and let your mind settle.
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This is the last in line for A-Z posts!  I had a lot of fun with this project.  I came upon a lot of cool blogs and had a lot of cool new commenters (and you old heads rock too!).
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My theme for the A-Z Challenge was mostly about SELF. Things that breed happiness, peace and confidence.
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Have a great week everyone!  😀
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