Tag Archives: recovery

Clouds In My Coffee

13 Dec

monroe

Clarity. Some search for it & others run like hell.

Moments of clarity are needed even for those that aren’t addicted by design. Moments of clarity are found when we can see clearly…. when our senses are not dull. We spend so much time using whatever we can to dull what we feel. How can we ever enjoy true bliss or experience gut-wrenching pain if we buffer ourselves? If we don’t feel these emotions, and I mean feel them to our very core, we miss out on so many. We also risk missing out on the lessons that life is trying to teach.

Pain and Joy both teach, mold and transform us into something else. Something better. Something new. Something evolved.

My drinking was an external manifestation of an internal imbalance. Over time, the need became biological. Now, the craving is but a memory. Not the type of memory that you put in a scrapbook or a diary… thinking that maybe… someday… you will look back and reflect. The craving needs to be a memory that is framed and housed in a place that you see every single day. Not as a reminder of shame… but as a reminder of survival and a beacon on the journey to thrive.

Without clarity… my recovery would be lost. The clouds in my coffee would pull me under and I would drown. It’s just that simple. Continue down a path towards being aware… towards being awake… and eventually… we will arrive at the point where we are truly alive.

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Recovery Is A Crazy Place

19 Jun

Recently I have seen a lot of forum topics and headlines discussing mental health and addiction. As someone who is labeled as “dual-diagnosed”, this topic hits close to home. Steadfast supporters sit on both sides of the fence. The group chanting “no meds” rivals the group chanting, “treat the mental illness and the addiction is cured ”. I have very little time for extremists. Both mental health and addiction are personal issues that the afflicted individual has to come to terms with. I don’t feel that taking medication for mental health issues threatens ones sobriety, if they are working a strong program. In my opinion, if you are seeing a great shrink and they understand addiction, they must promote holistic well-being. If they don’t, seek a second opinion. My doctor insists that I deal with my addiction first, working one day at a time to stay sober. The use of low doses of medication to manage the bi-polar is suggested and it has worked for me. When someone deals with mental illness combined with addiction, they must come to terms with recovery and their personal mental health.

People like to talk about balance, saying that life is all about creating a way to manage everything at the same time. I prefer the term harmony. Finding balance is stress inducing and ends up being fruitless. I view my life as sheet music. I see the elements of my life as notes and if I’m having a good day they don’t sound off key. Some days the harmony is beautiful and other days it’s dark and disturbing. Regardless of how the song of the day pans out, it always reflects the real me. I strive for harmony between my recovery, my mental health and living moment to moment. The majority of the time, it works.

I am aware of what outside influences trigger a manic. I’m a member of the “all manic all the time” club, I don’t get depressed. I may crash and burn for a few days but for the most part, my bipolar encourages my mind and body to go go go. No one likes to see me in a full- blown manic, trust me it’s not pretty. I have had rage issues since I was a toddler and when a manic occurs, all of my tact filters fly out of the window.  The exact same thing happens when I drink. You can imagine what the combination of drinking and being manic induces. Utter nightmare. I manage my sobriety and recovery on a day-by-day basis. While I don’t adhere to any specific recovery method, my program is strong and has a solid foundation. The combination allows me to maintain some type of harmony.

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.

Purpose & Clarity: Two Blessings In Recovery

2 May

Reality Shows Involving Addiction

There are many opinions regarding reality shows that put the spotlight on addiction. The top shows are Celebrity Rehab and Intervention. My view on if these shows are helpful or hurtful doesn’t apply to this specific blog post. This post deals with one show, Relapse, which premiered this season. The premise is that a sober coach intervenes on an addict that is active (having never stopped or having relapsed) and this coach has one week for the addict to make the decision to enter treatment. The show follows the day-to-day activities of the addict, including the obtaining and use of their drug of choice. The sober coaches that are on this show are professional individuals, not actors, not doctors, not medical professionals but people that have decided to make it their mission to help those that are unable to help themselves. The sober coach enters the addict’s life when everyone has given up on them.

The gutter is where these individuals exist, the utter bottom of society. They do not see any hope and they are at their bottom. These addicts are truly at the juncture of life and death. They are unable to do anything but use, they exist to use, their soul is lost to their addiction. The sober coaches understand exactly where these addicts are. Several of them have been addicted themselves. I admire the work that they do. This is the work that I am being called to do.

Why I Watch

My purpose or goal in life has never been as focused as it is at the current moment. We are all survivors of something; we have all endured our relative hells. I didn’t intend for this to be the path that I would choose. I always assumed that I would finish my degree and work a regular 9-5. I should have known that my life would take a different turn.

I have never felt such passion for a goal. I have never worked as hard as I work now, with the desired result being to work as a sober companion. It may sound cheesy but it just feels “right”. I adore the recovery community. While my roots are in traditional 12-Step philosophies I love the different approaches that are available. I love reading threads on articles and stories about addiction. The opinions that differ from mine only strengthen my resolve that what I have done has worked for me. Recovery is unique and I do not approach it in a cookie-cutter manner. I truly believe that help is available and hope is a possibility for anyone who is ready and willing.

One of the reasons I enjoy watching reality television that deals with addiction is that these programs remind me of where I was. The knowledge that I never want to return to that place is reinforced. While watching Relapse, I am encouraged that there is a specific occupation that involves my purpose. I do not know when I will have the right amount of training, resume, experience and sober time to achieve this goal, but I am patient. I am willing to listen and willing to learn. It is by being willing that I know this lofty ambition will indeed become a reality. I know that my sanity, my sobriety and my recovery will remain possible, if I work in the addiction field.

A Future Of Hope

I am enjoying this journey. The individuals that I have met on and offline offer encouragement, experience, hope and strength. They are what keep me sober. I’ve been dry, I’ve been sober and now I am in recovery. It is the most amazing experience in my life. For the first time, in a long time, I am looking forward to a future filled with possibility. Nothing compares to that and nothing ever will.

Ice Cream For Dessert – Should I Be Worried About Food Addiction?

5 Apr

Addiction to food, should I be concerned?

Tomorrow night is the premier of “Addicted To Food” on the OWN (Oprah Winfrey’s) network. I admit that I am a fan of television shows that spotlight addiction. This is simply because it is my hope that they can educate and inform a few individuals about the dangers of addiction along with the warning signs of having a problem. I watch them all; Celebrity Rehab, Intervention, Addicted (when it was on) and I will now DVR this new show. The combination of a new show and headlines buzzing all over the Internet about food addiction raised some questions about my own eating habits.

As an addict in recovery, I commonly worry about cross-addiction. I try to make sure that things are as balanced as possible in my life so that I don’t replace my addiction to alcohol with work, exercise, food or technology. Food has always been an issue for me, in that I didn’t value food. I spent ten years being more concerned with funding my fondness for hard liquor than worrying about having anything healthy to eat. Food just wasn’t a priority, alcohol and drugs were. Being in recovery, I have found that food is a pretty cool thing. I actually enjoy what I’m eating and I never have the thought that I should skip over the groceries and save up for a bottle. Then the weight started going up and pounds started adding up. The overall concern of whether or not my eating habits were healthy still wasn’t a priority. How am I managing to deal with this reality check?

How To Deal With Food Addiction

Awareness is the key to survival for an addict in recovery. By being aware that I have food “issues” I am able to recognize that it will take more than self-will to change my eating patterns. I had to push aside any thought that I knew what could be done to become a more healthy individual. I already know that if I play God in my life, things go down the rabbit hole with quickness. My solution, to work with a holistic health coach. I found someone who would keep me in line, hold me accountable and give me a method to become healthy and have a normal relationship with food. This is not an overnight process.

As it has taken years of being in recovery to know that I don’t have all the answers and that my survival is truly “one day at a time”, I am taking the same approach with food. I do not want to replace one addiction with another, nor do I wish to use food as a source of emotional comfort. So to answer the question, “I had ice-cream for dessert, should I be worried about food addiction”? Worried no, concerned and aware, yes. As I would turn to a sponsor to let them know what I am experiencing and feeling, I plan on being brutally honest with my holistic health coach in the same way. Turning bad habits into healthy habits takes willingness, surrender and time. I am hopeful that I will be able to deal with my food issues in time.

Think You May Have A Problem?

If you find that you or someone you know is having issues with food, please contact a professional for information, guidance and help. There are 12-Step programs, online resources, Coaches, Doctors and Therapists that have the professional tools and knowledge to be of assistance.

What is your opinion of food addiction? Should people be as concerned as they would be for illegal drug or alcohol addiction? Is the threat of food addiction real? Please share your thoughts.

Would Miss Manners Approve Of Your Actions?

2 Apr

Have you had a personality check since becoming sober?

The process of recovery can (and often does) cause havoc on your emotional well being. Emotions, feelings and personality traits that were either buried, not apparent or non-existent emerge when an addict becomes sober. There is a great deal written and said about how to deal with new found emotions and how to accept life on life’s terms, but have you examined your day to day interactions with the rest of the human race?

I have noticed that it is all too common for recovering addicts to have some growing pains when it comes to interacting with other people. It is all too easy to fall into a mindset of wanting people to act a certain way because you are now sober. When an addict stops using, the chance of feeling a sense of entitlement can settle in. This is problematic for a couple of reasons:

1. Not everyone is going to care that you are now sober.

2. You aren’t owed any sympathy or understanding from anyone.

3. Your sobriety does not equal you suddenly being a wonderful person.

The recovering addict must realize that they are essentially fighting their own demons alone. If you have the support of a fellowship, your family, and friends and loved ones then you are indeed very fortunate and should count your blessings. As you gain more traction in your recovery, you must remind yourself that you still have an obligation to the planet and those that inhabit the world. To exist in a head space where you are entirely focused on “you you you” is as dangerous as the self-centered and selfish behavior you displayed when you were using.

Simply put, the addict in recovery must put himself or herself in check on a daily basis. Ask yourself if your behavior, actions and conversations are benefiting someone else. This can’t be the case all of the time, but it is important to be as self-aware, without being self-centered, as possible. This truly embodies the philosophy behind practicing progress not perfection. When we take the time to work on our character defects, the world will take notice and you will receive the attention, admiration and feeling of self-worth that will remind you of why the path of sobriety is a fulfilling and rewarding journey.

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