When I first got sober it was in late May of 2006. I immediately found some meetings to go to and when a person goes to meetings, they find out about picnics. My first thought was, “How the hell does a person go to a picnic and not drink?”
Turns out, there are a lot of ways to have fun that do not involve drinking or drugs. Here are some of the ways I have had tons of fun all while being sober:
going to a meeting
walking in the woods
walking on a main strip in a small town
going for a long drive (like… really long)
listening to music
shooting pool at a pool hall (not a bar!)
making a craft
going to a book store
going to the library
going down to the river
antique shopping (or browsing)
going to lunch with a friend
going to lunch alone
starting a scrap-book
journaling (I wish I would have documented my first year of sobriety)
and yes…. sober picnics!
These are just a few of the things that I had (and still have) a ton of fun doing while trekking through sobriety. Do you have any to add? Please share!
I never knew what a character defect was until I stepped into the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. I know, I am breaking my anonymity, but it is no secret I am a sober woman of almost seven years and I didn’t get sober alone. No one gets sober alone. We might stop drinking alone, but sobriety is deeper.
I found an interesting list of character defects in my research of things I’ve not committed to memory. Check out the list and see which ones might be screaming at you on any given day. Go ahead, this can be a kind of liberating fun (okay, I’m reaching).
When I did my fourth and fifth step with my al-anon sponsor, she said something really poignant. “Character defects are assets unchecked.” She gave me examples like the opposite of happy is sad and so on.
The opposite of humility is arrogance. These are both character defects. Yeah, I never thought humility would be a defect either, but too much of anything is a bad thing.
We turn our defects into assets by getting somewhere in between the two. This sounds like a challenge, and it is a challenge. However, challenges and that “I feel uncomfortable” help us grow and blossom into the human being we were always meant to be. Ya dig?
One of my chief character defects is laziness… interpreted through the Seven Deadly Sins: SLOTH. But my laziness is an asset in moderation. For example: It’s Sunday (as I write this it really is Sunday) and I am feeling sleepy, unmotivated and well, lazy. I can turn my laziness into an asset by assessing why I am feeling lazy. Am I just being a tree-climbing sloth or am I legitimately tired and need some rest? Once I do an honest inventory of my sloth-like ways, I can make an honest judgement (honesty is crucial when doing a self-imposed defect check!).
Each day I humbly ask God to remove my character defects that will not serve me that day. I take my will back.. frequently. As I work my program I am learning when I do this and then ask him throughout the day to take away the defects I don’t need. Sometimes my defects serve me… most times they don’t.
Check out the list of character defects/assets… are any familiar to you?
Step Four: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Ah, yes. The step I became fearful of simply from others’ talk of it in the rooms. “Oh boy, wait ’til you get to the fourth step!” “You’re gonna do your fourth step? Good luck!”
It took me a while to get the fear of this step. The fourth step was a look at my internal makeup. What made me angry? What made me fearful? Jealous? Insecure? Angry? Hell yeah I wanted to talk about all this crap! Are you kidding? It was about time someone would listen to me!
So I got with my sponsor and we sat down and read the fourth step (out of the Big Book) and then I went home and wrote down in a nice little chart all the people who pissed me off, why they pissed me off and what part of me their behavior effected. Yes! This is why I am the way I am! These are the awful things that people did to me! Of course I was a drunk. How could I not be? You would be a drunk too if you had to put up with all this crap right here on these pieces of paper that I painstakingly wrote on for hours and hours as I wiped the tears away (alcoholics tend to have a flair for the dramatic).
I went back to my sponsor and we went over my fourth step. I felt great! I got to list all the reasons why I was the way I was! This whole getting sober thing was getting better and better. And then came the question I had to answer that made me understand why there was so much anguish around this step. It was the “second part” of Step Four.
What was my part in it? Say what??? My part? There was no way I had a part in the way someone else treated me. Little doe-eyed, innocent Darlene. What could I have possibly done? So we went back through the list. And I have to say, thank the heavens I was blessed with an open mind and an ability to WANT to look at my (emotional) insides (although I’m sure my physical insides are very lovely!).
Because what I found out about my part in the way others had treated me was not fun. Still, it was huge in my recovery. Yes, I had a part in the way my ex-husband treated me. Yes, I had a part in all the broken relationships I was in at some point. Yes, I had a part the degradation I received at my first real office job. All of this “I had a part in it” stuff was difficult to deal with.had been done But I had to deal with it nonetheless.
After I recognized my part in the situations I had been in, the wrong that had been done to me and the pain I had felt throughout my life, I had another road to travel down. I had to travel down the “Know Road.” And we all know, once we know, we can never not know. Surprisingly, recognizing my part in my past helped me. I was able to understand (for starters) what made me tick and why I did the things I did. This would lead me to continue rigorous honesty as I approached Step Five.
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.
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:
ignoring the feeling
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?
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.
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.
Happy New Year! Welcome to the The Daily Woman.. a blog dedicated to living sober and giving life all you got! I signed up for the Ultimate Blog Challenge just in time for 2013… The month of January is dedicated to living life sober, getting help, working the steps and tons of other useful information and links.
My goal is to post each of the 31 days. 😀
A lot of us wrapped up in alcoholism and addiction have made resolutions (or goals) of sobriety for 2013. Most of these will be broken if the right help is not sought.
Now, I am not a doctor and I don’t even play one on TV, but I do know what has worked for me and hope to do some sort of twelfth step work through my blog. I have reached a point in my sobriety that what keeps me sober is doing the next right thing and putting my hand out to the next still sick and suffering alcoholic/addict.
Thanks for climbing on board and Happy New Year to you all.
I got an email this morning that said my blog here, Sober Living: Life at Full Throttle made the “20 Truly Exceptional Alcohol Addiction Resources List.” I came in at #20! 😀 I checked out a lot of the other blogs, all of which are awesome pertaining to alcoholism, addiction and how these bloggers have handled it.