Tag Archives: 12 Step

Why The Anonymity & Recovery Debate Sucks

11 Aug

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Are You In Or Are You Out?

Gotta love the anonymity debate. For years, many addicts and recovering addicts relied heavily on the anonymous nature of traditional 12-step programs. With the increase of technology empowering those addicted and in recovery to have a “voice”, the curtain of anonymity is being dropped. The issue being raised questions if anonymity is still safe due to the increase in recovering addicts coming out of the addiction closet. Fear is also rising regarding the protection of the anonymity of those that choose to remain anonymous. In my opinion, I’ really fucking tired of hearing about this debate.

Controversy

While the controversy over remaining anonymous runs rampant, I figured I would add a few points to hopefully clarify the situation. Simply put, I don’t see a problem. I highly doubt that individuals who opt to be public about their recovery or struggles with addiction are going to start a campaign to “out” the entire community. Also, I don’t think that by openly declaring your addiction status threatens the anonymity of those that opt to no be as open. Individuals that wish to remain anonymous can do so and those that opt to declare their addiction or recovery to the world at large should be free to do so as well. I fall (obviously) into the category of people who decided to shed their anonymity. Why did I do this?

I made the personal choice to become public about my struggles with alcohol and drugs and subsequent day-to-day success of remaining sober and thriving in recovery. I did so because I am lucky enough to deal with the stigma on my terms. I am not in a position to lose employment and I am willing to deal with personal backlash because of my public admission of addiction. I am extremely lucky that I have not had to bear a stigma cross for this blog, my activity on twitter or recovery status updates on Facebook.

Make A Choice

If you want to come out of the addiction closet then do it if you want to remain protected by anonymity then do that. But for the love of God don’t just sit on the fence. I take issue with individuals who wish to use addiction and recovery only when it suits them and then run and hide behind the curtain of assumed anonymity when they encounter people, places and things that don’t give them a gold star for being sober or give them an award for living past their addiction hell. Therefore, one must put on their adult panties and make a decision that they can live with. Just keep your side of the street clean.

In the end, it comes down to choice, that nasty responsibility of free will. Simply make your decision based on your comfort level. I don’t see people walking around with signs demanding that you out yourself as an addict or an addict in recovery. Nor do I see signs being waved that all addicts and recovering addicts must remain anonymous in order to keep the collective whole safe. The stigma of addiction will not end until society becomes comfortable with the word “addict”.

Hope Remains

Addiction is a very lonely disease. For me, being ‘out’ has lifted the shame that is associated with being a drunk in recovery. I made bad choices. I hurt a lot of people and now… now I make living amends and I take each 24 that I am given in stride.

Whichever choice you make, embrace it, be responsible for it and take ownership. You are not being forced to choose to be public or private. Be true to yourself and the decision to be anonymous or out of the addiction closet will be the right one… for you.

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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.

Addiction ~ It’s Not A Battle: It’s A Journey

31 Dec

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There isn’t a week that passes where I don’t hear the word ‘demon’ in regards to someones battle with addiction. Do the following phrases sound familiar?

‘I have to be stronger than this demon’

‘One of these days I will beat this demon’

‘Once I am free from this demon, my life will be perfect’

Did you notice that the word demon and whatever the drug of choice are interchangeable. Wouldn’t the ‘battle’ of recovery be so much easier if we could conquer this ‘demon’? Unfortunately, recovery is not a battle…. it’s a journey. If I thought that I could ‘win’, ‘beat’ or ‘conquer’ my demon… my battle would have been lost before the very first fight. Journey…. not a battle.

The other element that we have to remember is that our addiction is within us, it is a part of us. It is not an separate entity that we can rid ourselves of, it just doesn’t work that way.

If I thought of my addiction as something outside of myself, I would never be able to surrender. My surrender didn’t occur just once, it occurs every single day. I admit that I am powerless.. and this is what continues to give me another 24. My addiction is not a ‘demon’. It is not something that is evil or supernatural or even outside of myself. My addiction is within me, it is a part of me. I cannot try to kill this aspect of me, that would be like trying to kill off the part of my DNA that makes my blood type B+.

My addiction is genetic, it is biological, it is an allergy and the only way I can live with this allergy is to be vigilant, pro-active and aware. I also have to have acceptance.

Every morning I have to accept the fact that I am an alcoholic. I am not evil, I am not a demon and a demon does not exist within me nor is a demon trying to run amok in my life. There is no exterior entity that is hell bent on my destruction. The allergy within me can only kill me if I don’t remain humble, accepting and most of all… aware. I surrender… to my Higher Power. I admit that I am powerless of alcohol. I am granted a 24 hour reprieve. Simplistic… yes. Simple… no.

It would be so much easier to think that I was battling a dark force that wanted my soul. The truth is that I have to accept that part of me is flawed. Part of me is human. Above all…. I have free will. The choice of that first drink will always belong to me. That is the only control that I have. For that… I am grateful.

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.

My Bipolar Life

14 Apr

I love when mental health issues are trending in the media.

The flavor of the week? Bipolar disorder.

Catherine Zeta-Jones spent a few days in a mental health facility to treat her bipolar 2 disorder. The media had a field day with speculation about her chain smoking and increased (apparently) drinking patterns. The stress of her life had gotten to her and she needed a few days off. This stress was dealing with her hubby’s battle with cancer, her stepson’s legal issues with drugs along with other factors. I wish the availability of help for those that have bipolar disorder were so easy to find.

My Bipolar Life

I have displayed symptoms of bipolar (only I’m a type 1 gal) since I was a toddler. For skeptics that believe that mental illness can’t be seen in the behavior of a child, guess again. It was the late70’s so the option of taking your kid to a psychologist wasn’t a popular choice. My parents didn’t find anything “odd” about my behavior. I acted out, had tantrums, existed on manic’s and was an all around terror. These are not all typical symptoms of a child that has a mental health disorder. My bipolar childhood continued into adolescence. My self-medicating began around the age of 13. I was formally diagnosed in my late 20’s. I finally found the right professional, the right combination of medication and a sense of balance in my early 30’s. Keep in mind, I am not a doctor, nor do I claim to have a butt-load of medical information. I do have some life experience.

Dual Disorders

Since I fall into a “dual-diagnosed” category of addiction and mental illness, I want to throw my two cents in on this issue. It is not uncommon for the two conditions to go hand in hand. Substance abuse is a common method to “self-medicate” a mental health condition. When my meds started working (which is when I took them on a continued basis with the help of a qualified uber-awesome psychiatrist who understood addiction), I was able to deal with my addiction to alcohol head on. While the conditions may co-exist, you have to make sure to treat them both equally. The combination of a solid 12-step program with proper medication made my life a whole hell of a lot better. Does this mean that it’s happy swell meadows 24/7? Not hardly.

The most difficult thing for an addict and someone who suffers from mental illness to deal with is being “comfortable with the uncomfortable”. You have to realize that you are going to be experiencing emotions that have been underdeveloped of stuffed down so deep that you didn’t even know they existed. This journey is not always pleasant. When the “fog” is lifted you have to learn how to be a fully functioning adult that is a part of mainstream society. Only a small percentage can escape the trials and tribulations that occur in day-to-day life. The majority of us do not have that luxury.

Keys To Balance

Having a mental health condition does not mean that you are never going to lead a “normal” life. The key is being able to deal with “normal” things. As you plug along, working, paying bills, doing household duties and taking care of business you will realize, in time, that “normal” is actually kind of nice. Gone are the days where chaos and drama filled every moment. Gone is the chronic obsession of your drug of choice. When you live a “normal” life and participate with the world (and yes that does include other people) you will find that you simply do not have the time to use.

How To Cope

Do I ever thing about having a drink? Of course I do. What keeps me sane is the fact that I have so many “normal” things on my plate that I cannot fathom having the time to drink. I can’t imagine the consequences of taking time to get drunk to escape the day. If I were to indulge, how would I get what needs to be taken care of done? I am blessed with every 24 hours I have. While life isn’t spent smelling the roses all day long, it isn’t spent preoccupied with having a drink, buying a bottle, hiding the empty bottles, wondering if people can smell the booze on me or wondering where the money is going to come from so that I don’t run out of vodka. It is a huge relief to know that the things I do have to worry about, groceries, taking care of the pets, making those hard deadlines and spending quality time relaxing.

Choices

I am happy with this evolution of my life. Being bipolar is not a life-sentence that will destroy you. Being an addict isn’t a life-sentence that will kill you. Both of these conditions simply mean that you have to be vigilant (not obsessed) with your mind, body and spirit. The life that you intend to live has always been, and will always be, your choice. I hope that you choose wisely.

Don’t Neglect Recovery When Life Gets Busy

21 Mar

Life is something that we all have to deal with, live in and survive through. It’s amazing how quickly days can add up when one isn’t paying attention. I would have thought I would have written a post to celebrate my 2 year sober anniversary, but the day came and went. Wow, 2 whole years this past January 17, 2011. What an amazing journey of recovery.

When days come and go with a quickness it is crucial to not let your recovery work fall to the wayside. It is very easy to start missing meetings, stop writing in your journal and neglect giving attention to the people and events in life that you are grateful for. Life sometimes moves so quickly that we forget to be thankful for each day that we have. We all have this moment, there is no guarantee that we will have tomorrow.

It is the first day of Spring, a time of awakening. What are your plans for this new season? When will you give yourself the time you deserve to appreciate all that you have? The key message for the moment is quite simply, to not let all of your days pass by too quickly. Every human being is given 24 hours in a single day, within each and every day there is always time to take a few minutes to be still. Enjoy a Zen moment.

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