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Viva Las Vegas

19 Oct

las-vegas

Today was a good day… the work week ended as per usual…. Me feeling like I did an okay job for the majority of the week and with an end in sight (January 2014), each week gets easier. Emotional detachment does have its benefits. However… it also has its detriments. A few weeks ago my Doctor decided to scale my bipolar meds way back… and when I say way back… basically to almost nothing.

Goodbye Prozac, Goodbye Wellbutrin and Goodbye to ¾ of my dose of Depakote.

Needless to say, the past few weeks have been an adventure. Some elements I’ve handled well, other elements not so much. I’ve managed to do okay but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been difficult. I forgot what it was like to have a roller coaster of emotions and feelings and joy and rage and just an uncontrollable feeling of unrest that goes from being in my mind to externally not being able to slow down. My bipolar runs from hot to scalding so there is no ‘down’. I use to love this – love the sleeplessness nights and the raw feeling of every emotion that my mind, heart and soul experience in the course of a day. Now.. well now this just fucking sucks. The chaos that was always my drug of choice has become as uncomfortable to me now as the rush of dopamine was my euphoric elixir years ago.

Scattered thoughts, sleepless nights and the amount of self-control and energy it takes to not just go with the flow are exhausting. Exhausted Insomnia… talk about a fucked up state.

I know I have all of the tools to keep myself straight… but that doesn’t mean that temptation has been removed from my life. Tonight I almost let my guard down… tonight I almost gave in to the trickster… not to drink but to revert to behaviors that makes my bipolar do a happy dance. Some would say that I was being ‘tested’ but I am not Job. I did however, have a glimpse of divine intervention.

It All Started With Ben Affleck

Kicked back in the most amazing movie theater seats I’ve ever seen, my sister and I enjoyed utter relaxation after a long week for us both. We went to see Runner Runner. Not a great movie, not a terrible movie but Ben was trying to relive some Boiler Room moments and his monologues didn’t have quite the same punch. All in all a great way to enjoy a Friday night, my last night in Sin City. Amidst my relaxed and calm state, I forgot about HALT. Hungry, Angry, Lonely , Tired… 4 things that occur in all of lives, usually without consequence. For those of us that are the alcoholic variety – HALT can put a serious cement wall waiting for you to collide right in front of your face.

As we headed home, my sister gets an invite to head out… some anniversary party at a club. She asks me if I want to go and before really thinking about it, I ask for 25 minutes to get ready. While in the midst of figuring out what dress will match my rather loud orange spiked heels… I had a pause. Ever have one of those? That brief moment where for one split second, you are almost standing outside of yourself.

In this brief moment, I realized that the heels I brought didn’t match any of the dresses I brought. Go figure, I thought orange spiked heels would go with everything! The dress I chose made the ensemble close enough to pass but not close enough to go together. Divine Irony. That’s what I like to call it. Truly God doing for me what I could not do for myself. It wasn’t that the combination of the dress and heels would have made the doorman go ‘what the fuck you cannot enter the club in that monstrosity’ but the pause as I looked at the outfit was what made me think. Fuck. This isn’t me anymore. I don’t get ready to go out at 11:45pm on a Friday night. I don’t hang at the club till 3am making small talk with people I could care less about. Who am I going to meet or what conversation am I going to have that would greatly impact my life at a club in Vegas on a Friday night? Don’t worry… I’ll wait while you come up with an answer.

The truth is… I have no business in a club in Vegas on a Friday night. None.

The Big Book tells me that there are times in my life when I will have to be around alcohol. The key word is ‘have to’, but the Big Book also tells me that if I am not vigilant – I’ll create any reason to ‘have’ to be around booze. So how did the evening end? I told my baby sister that she looks gorgeous (which she does) I tell her to have fun, to be safe and to call or text if she needs me for anything. Then I packed up the dress and the heels that didn’t quite go… I put on some raggedy yoga pants and a t-shirt – pulled my hair up into a ponytail and took off my makeup. I took my Big Book out of my purse… read a few highlighted passages… I sat down and thanked God for doing for me what I could not do for myself… and I am about to kick back and watch American Horror Story Season Two Episode Two and chill with Sammy the Cat.

The bottom line.. I’m blessed… blessed to have those around me who understand, blessed for the pause, blessed for having a Higher Power and blessed for Mom’s Amazon account. You see it’s the little things… there’s no cure… there’s nothing larger than a daily reprieve. The minutes become hours.. the hours become days and the days become years… but every milestone in sobriety starts one minute at a time.

I said for the longest time that I didn’t have another run in me. That’s a lie. I do have another run in me… what I don’t have in me is another recovery.

My recovery is not dependent on people; it is dependent on my relationship with God.

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A Love Letter From A Recovering Alcoholic

8 May

loveletter

Dear Future Love Of My Life,

Even though we haven’t met yet, I have to take a moment to offer a word of caution, before attempting to have a relationship. Trust me, you will thank me in the end.

See there’s a slight problem thinking that you can have a fairy tale when you will never be able to put anything or anyone above your sobriety. To knowingly be selfish – because that’s what saves my life is a double edged sword because it will also keep me from loving you with my all. I know that you want to be first. You want my heart and my love… but you have to realize…  if I give you all of ‘me’ then I will lose the one thing that I value above all – my recovery.

Resentments

So many resentments will build and eventually those resentments will explode in a Mt. Vesuvius fashion – destroying everything in its path – including me, including you and every single thing that we value and love in this world.

Dear Future Love Of My Life,

I’m sorry but we will never be Middle America. We will never have a relationship that resembles any sense of normalcy. There will be no 50/50 or even any shade of compromise or understanding that doesn’t have me putting myself first. Selfish and self-seeking, that’s how I was when I drank. All ego. All hubris. All bravado. The same degree of being selfish that kept me locked in a warped world where my false perception created a disillusioned reality is the same degree of selfishness that I have to have every single day in order to stay alive.

I must turn my will over to the God of my understanding, to admit that I am powerless and to have my first and last thought of each day be gratitude for another 24. And while you may be an observer, perhaps at times an active participant – the world of my sobriety will always be foreign to you. And it will always come first.

But…

Because it comes first I am able to do something that I never thought was possible.

Feel emotions for you that are true, that are not in a fog or haze and that are pure. Sober means when I say I love you – I do. But I can only love you with part of my heart – not all of it. There will always be a small part of my heart where only the God of my understanding resides. Where I have conversations with Him that I will never have with another human being.

That’s my salvation. That’s my serenity. That is my true love.

Without Him – there would be nothing in me to give to you. So please accept what I have to give, because it truly is all I can safely give to you.

Rising From The Ashes

23 Mar

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“Woman Injured In Blaze”

The journey beyond a small town newspaper headline.

March 23, 2007 started off like every other day had for as long as I cared to remember, with one exception. Two days prior Friday the 23rd, I knew that I had to stop drinking. Let me clarify… not to stop drinking completely but to control my drinking enough so that I wouldn’t be sick and shaking in the morning. I needed to control my drinking enough that I could get through the entire day without the feeling of my skin turning inside out.. I knew that my body had officially become reliant on an 80 proof half gallon of cheap ass vodka.

I was tired… but not defeated

In my infinite wisdom, and in my fractured and out of focus state of mind, I knew if I could get through 3-5 days without the booze, I’d be home free. I had no intention of quitting completely… I just wanted to get control of my drinking back. This is the mindset of an alcoholic. I honestly believed that I had some semblance of control and power.

Hubris. Ego. Vanity.

That trio managed to throw my ass hard into countless walls… but instead of throwing me headfirst into a cement wall… the power’s that be decided that on this day… they would burn the only world I knew to the ground.

The morning of March 23, 2007 may have began in a routine fashion, but the day progressed in a manner unlike any other.

The exact details of that Friday early afternoon are … foggy… to say the very least. They say I got myself out of the burning house. They say I had to be restrained from trying to run back into house because I thought my father was inside. They say after multiple official investigations that the cause, the source and even the starting location of the fire remain unknown. They say… They say… They say. All of the factual details of that day were told to me through the memories of other people. Some family, some friends and some complete strangers.

Six years later, I still don’t have concrete crystal clear memories. Six years later I carry the scars of this day on 20% of my body. Six years later I’m sober.  Six years later, I’ve  evolved past living to being alive.

Today I honor March 23 2007, in remembrance of an event so horrific that the details could only be described as terrifying, tragic and pure hell. But you see… I don’t view it that way.

March 23, 2007 was the day that gave me my life back. On this day I realized that I was not immortal… this was the day I realized what death was… and that I wasn’t ready.

To live through something is one thing… to survive is even better… but to thrive… there are no words.

Every single one of us will have one event, one moment that defines who and what you are.  Things happen. Good and bad. It’s up to you to determine what you do with what you are given.

They say the best gifts are wrapped in sandpaper.

The best gift given to me… was wrapped in flames.

Welcome To Normalville – Population – One Woman In Recovery

25 Jan

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I was going to title this ‘Holy Shit, I’m going to outlive my parents!’ But this title works too.

The concept of time never ceases to amaze me. When I look back… I realize that for 10 years I lived drink to drink… anything else and everything else took second place. Selfish, Self-Seeking, Destructive & Complacent. I was all of these things for so long that when I first got sober, any sense of normalcy made my skin crawl.

Normal was uncomfortable. Where was the ‘rush’ in just doing ordinary, blasé, normal things? Oh how my ego and hubris fought me every step of the way on my journey to Normalville. I would cringe at what I considered the most dull, boring and mundane of tasks. Then one day, something shifted. I’d say this was around 3 years clean, sober & working a program.

It was at this evolution of my recovery where normal, while still uncomfy, was less painful than chaos. How the hell did that happen??  Chaos was truly my drug of choice and amazingly enough… I am repulsed by the very thought of a chaotic situation. Give me normal, give me those tasks and errands and things that ‘normal’ people deal with on a day to day basis. Save the chaos rodeo for someone else. Save that for someone who isn’t just too old, too broken and just too tired of that clusterfuck. I’ve ridden that ride and I even have the t-shirt and scars to prove it.

So where does that leave me… this existence in Normalville?

In truth, I have no idea…. And I honestly think that’s a good thing. I keep my feet firmly planted on the ground, but I still take time to look up and ponder the clouds. The world is a pretty amazing place, filled with all kinds of interesting people, places and things. I spent so long seeking people, places and things that did nothing but fuel my addiction to chaos. Now… my utopia is knowing when I go to bed at night… I’ve given the day my all. Now that doesn’t mean my all at 100 miles per hour, it simply means that each day I give what I have. Somedays it’s a lot, somedays it’s a little.

The key is that when I lump all of my days together… my productivity, my enjoyment and my peace of mind all become evened out due to the law of averages.

I like averages.

I like normal.

It’s still uncomfy as hell… but it’s an uncomfortable that I’ve grown comfortable with. And that… well that’s just pretty damn fantastic.

Free Will In Addiction Recovery

23 Dec

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A drug is a drug is a drug… the question asked was if “I am just an addict, does that mean that I can still drink alcohol?” While this question always leads to a heavy debate of life experience, personalities and sheer ignorance, my answer to this question would be No.  If followed the logic of this statement – that would mean that since I am ‘just’ an alcoholic I can go and use other mind altering substances to my heart’s content because they aren’t my drug of choice.

Flawed logic.

Powerful. Cunning. Baffling.

Alcohol & drugs are all of these things.

Of course I would love an excuse to use a mind altering substance… why wouldn’t my disease convince me that it was okay to do so. My disease thrives on this… it’s a form of chaos, confusion and justification for unhealthy behaviors that I know will feel good. The only reason I put addictive substance into my body is to feel good, numb, with a false sense of control.

If you are asking yourself if drinking is okay because you are an addict, not an alcoholic… then your relapse has already occurred.

My drinking was an external manifestation of my disease. It was a symptom of the spiritual sickness that existed, and still exists, within me. Drifting into the land of complacency and justification for behaviors and actions that we know are not healthy for us is frightening. How far will we push the boundaries of what is acceptable, permitted and healthy for our recovery?

I know that many will disagree with me, but if I don’t have the truth of ‘a drug is a drug is a drug’ imbedded into my psyche, I will quickly slide to a place that I never wish to return to again for the rest of my life. For me the answer is total abstinence. For you the answer may be different. Try some controlled drinking… see how that works for you.

If I could drink like a normal person I’d drink every day. Let that last statement sit with you for a short period of time. See if you grasp what that statement of supposed fact actually means.

Then… . you will realize that saying you are ‘just’ an addict and therefore can drink alcohol… is nothing but your disease whispering sweet nothings into your ear.. Your disease is hoping, praying and working damn hard to be actively alive. Whether or not it succeeds…well… that’s up to you.

The Addicted Project Gives Us Asylum

10 Jun

“redemption will be lost ~ unless I fall to my knees in surrender” ~me

This past week I have been on a mission. I have been exploring different platforms and submitting writing samples to anything that caught my eye. My motivation?  I wasn’t working an agenda or going after recognition, I was simply curious Would my writing merit positive feedback from platforms that represent or inform the addiction recovery community? The results have been eye-opening, flattering and in one case, life changing.

I stumbled upon The Addicted Project on Facebook one evening. After taking a gander at their site, I had the biggest shit eating grin on my face.  I jotted down a quick email to the founder, inquiring about the possibility of being a contributor for one edition of their journal named Asylum.

Statement Of Purpose:
“The Addicted Project works to create positive personal, social, spiritual change by harnessing the power of music, art, and literature and those who love it. We view all forms of self expression as a tool for recovery, therapy, community building, leadership development and action.

“The Addicted Project is produced by individuals in recovery for people in recovery. In other words, you are The Addicted Project.”

The name alone is brilliant. ~Asylum ~ So many elements are contained within that single word. Asylum will impact a population of individuals in a way that is utterly brilliant and with a style all it’s own. Not only did the scope of The Addicted Project exceed my initial reaction, it blew me out of the damn water with the personalities driving this project. They are crashing through the glass ceiling of what is available to the addicted and recovery communities. It’s about damn time someone stepped up to the plate.

I didn’t realize the magnitude, intensity and just sheer joy I would experience based off of an exchange of emails and phone conversations. The creator of The Addicted Project and his beautiful significant other just rock. Open, brutally truthful, no bullshit with a solid mission. That is a combination that is rarely seen anywhere, let alone in the addiction recovery industry. Yes folks, it is an industry. Quite honestly, I was shell-shocked when I was asked to hop on board. I honestly didn’t bank on being accepted. I exhaled a breath of satisfaction knowing that my unconventional, anti-establishment philosophies and eccentric nature would be understood.

While I don’t always go with the flow of societal expectations on WomanInRecovery, there are many subjects, opinions, views, musings and laments that I haven’t posted. Why? Quite frankly I wasn’t sure anyone would be interested. Oh how wrong I was & Oh how sweet the past few days have been as I put pen to paper.

There is a light and a dark side of recovery. While many prefer to live in the light, for my own sanity I return to some of the grim realities that encompassed my addiction and my recovery. This is life ladies and gentlemen, and while the scenery changes, it ain’t always pretty. Being sober does not entitle you to everything and life doesn’t owe you anything. There is no shiny prize for living life as a responsible adult. The true benefits of living in recovery are those which we work our asses off to achieve.

Light does exist when you are sober. Happiness, humor and joy are all found in recovery. However ~ there is another side. This side is all kinds of gray and black. During these moments the simple act of waking up can be a struggle and breathing is a conscious act. Without facing the dark, the ability to embrace the future will continue to allude you. There are two sides, two natures and two faces of recovery. Both play critical roles. The grittier sides of recovery and addiction are where I plan to invest some energy, it is long past due.

I have been given an amazing opportunity, a one in a million chance to explore and express elements of my past addicted life and my present recovery that have been clawing at my psyche. I have the chance to be raw and uncensored in a publication that is unlike anything anyone has ever seen.

I am beyond trilled to have been warmly welcomed and given a seat at The Addicted Project table. Words are unable to express the emotion of encountering a project that just “fits”, but I will  leave you with this sentiment. This is going to be one hell of a ride. Giddy up!

Addiction: The Eternal Trickster

23 May

The face of addiction is a trickster. Much like the legendary stories of Coyote, Loki & Crow, addiction takes on many forms.

Definition of a trickster:  the one given by Lewis Hyde: “trickster is a boundary-crosser” (7). By that, he means that the trickster crosses both physical and social boundaries– the trickster is often a traveler, and he often breaks societal rules. Tricksters cross lines, breaking or blurring connections and distinctions between “right and wrong, sacred and profane, clean and dirty, male and female, young and old, living and dead” (Hyde 7). The trickster often changes shape (turning into an animal, for example) to cross between worlds. In his role as boundary-crosser, the trickster sometimes becomes the messenger of the gods. Hyde, Lewis. Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth, and Art. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998.

Unlike its folklore counterparts, the addiction trickster does not have a culturally heroic aspect of its personality. The addiction trickster lives in your mind, whispers in your ear and controls your dreams. The addiction trickster fools you into believing three heinous thoughts:

  • You are wiser than your addiction
  • You are stronger than your disease
  • You have the power to control every aspect of your life

The addiction trickster will hand you a warm and cuddly blanket of complacency in order to reinforce those false beliefs. The addiction trickster delivers a false sense of reality, leading one to believe that consequences do not exist. The addiction trickster wants the recovering individual to believe that becoming complacent is safe. To be complacent is anything but safe.

Complacent Is A Dirty Word

Complacent is one of the most dangerous words in the dictionary. A slippery slope exists between authentic comfort and the illusion that all is well. If we end up in the pit of illusion, our saving grace is passion. Passion reminds us of why we are blessed to be on this plane of existence. Passion fuels our desire to make a lasting impression on the planet. Passion is what breaths fire into life. The flames of passion are not always extinguished in one fell swoop. For many in recovery our flames slowly die out as complacency breathes in the oxygen needed to fuel our passion. Does this mean that one must be obsessed with addiction in order to conquer the addiction trickster? Obsessed No ~ Vigilant Yes!

Vigilant VS Complacent

I adhere to the belief that addiction is a disease. I have a disease. My brain and my body do not react to alcohol in a “normal” fashion. Every morning I am thankful for another moment of reprieve. For me, addiction is a manageable disease. My disease is manageable IF I do the work. There is no cure but there are measures I can take to maintain sobriety. The most universal tool in my toolbox is vigilance.

Vigilance encompasses being aware of your emotional response while obsession feeds off of your emotions. The addiction trickster’s goal is to elicit an emotional response of hubris, by tricking you into believing that you have a “hold” on your addiction. If the addiction trickster wins, the recovering individual is fooled into believing they are in control.  The cold hard truth is… you are not in control.

Vigilance empowers you to be mindful of your emotional response and take responsibility for the decision you make. For example, if a person is “obsessing” over environmental factors that may “trigger” them to use, chances are, they will use. Take this same individual but replace obsession with vigilance. Now they are aware of their environment, aware of their emotional responses and able to discern the best way to solidify their recovery foundation.

Consciousness To The Rescue

By simply exchanging “vigilance” for “obsession” your mindset shifts in a direction that will prove beneficial. While those in recovery will never achieve “control”, we can develop a “conscious”. Having a conscious that serves you is priceless. Don’t let the addiction trickster gain more power in your psyche ~ the addiction trickster can’t afford the rent.

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