Tag Archives: sacrifice

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.

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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.

Something To Make You Think

30 Mar

“The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.”
Charles du Bois

What are you willing to sacrifice in order to achieve greatness?

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