That Was THEN, This is NOW

When grown men act like little boys.  Tantrums, meltdowns and more

There is nothing sexy or glorious about being a “peacemaker.”  For me, it was a way to be in control.  And now I know, it was how I thought I controlled other people and outcomes. peacegate_pinterestOne side confides in me, I am trusted.  The “other side” confides in me, I am confused.  I am unsure who to be loyal to, I don’t want to tell any secrets, in the end I think I can manipulate people to do what I want them to do-get along, the way I think they should.

All the while, I am over my head, overwhelmed, bitter.

I drank.  It was always a good excuse.  It was my only escape from a situation that was never mine to fix. None of my business.

Death by Text

I work with people that SUCK at communicating with one another.  I have been told that I “over communicate.” I am talkative, that is true.  Since my recovery began a few years ago, I have been very clear on boundaries.  Honest even when it is inconvenient. What is evident is, these people don’t want to communicate and have their own resentments toward one another.

Today, there was a situation that demonstrated the most pathetic, childish behavior I have seen in the workplace- ever.  If these two people were actually in the same room together (it either wouldn’t have happened in the first place), it might have come to blows. We work in a virtual work environment so most communication is done in online office environments, emails and text messages-conference calls as a “last resort” it seems.

Grateful I Have a Program

I cannot say for sure, but I believe these men are non-alcoholic.  One doesn’t drink at all, the other not very much (that I know of.)  Today, I refused to get involved in the volley of high tempered insults and left the conversation and situation.  I had a Funeral to attend a little later on and decided to leave “work” early.  This was not about me.

Other People’s Happiness Is Not Up to ME

I would love to say this argument won’t have long lasting effects on our company.  I don’t know what is going to happen next. I have to surrender and put this “peacemaking” job up to my Higher Power, because only HP knows the plan.

Thanks for reading.  I always feel better after I get these thoughts out of my head.

 

*thank you Pinterest for the image

 

 

 

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No Wonder I Drank to Fit In

The Small Victories in Recovery

A couple days ago, I arrived at a Mountain Retreat nestled in farm country in Vermont. 20160516_054146 I won a contest that I entered back in January.  I would not have known anything about the contest or this place if it hadn’t been for a friend that told me about it.

“God Bless the Freaks”

When I am in an AA Meeting, no matter where that Meeting is, I feel like I belong, right down to my core. Several times when I have been on the road and unable to make a meeting for a couple days when I do, there is a slow inhale and exhale – a reconnection, a “Honey, I am home” feeling. That feeling eluded me for 51 years.  That feeling eluded me again last night.

When I am with creatives, very much like my friend, I feel like we understand each other. Much like my friend, (the normal one who told me about the contest), creatives can be a joy to be around.  There is laughter, there is empathy, they are interesting.  And because we all feel at ease, we open up to one another in a way we don’t feel like we could if we were hanging out in a room full of Engineers.

But there is a difference with that feeling with creatives than it is in a Meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous.  No one is going to die if they don’t go to their Writing Group. The reality of my disease, the honesty and raw nature of what we talk about is completely lost on someone that is a creative writer.  When I share about our disease, they are open to it. Many have had alcoholics in their lives and are grasping to understand.

But what I am understanding is, the intense gratitude I have for finally – FINALLY finding the depth of belonging, the understanding and emotional devotion of AA and my fellow alcoholic.  The necessity of carrying the message to the struggling alcoholic that has not felt the relief and connection I have being with “My Tribe.”

Let’s Pretend

If I was still drinking I would never have been here.  But let’s just say IF I was still alive and I managed to shake, rattle and roll my way through the back roads of paradise with plenty of “supplies” to get here without “the wheels coming off.”

Last night would have been a disaster.  I always thought I was a creative that was my Tribe. I didn’t feel pressure of acceptance in how I dressed, looked and talked in order to fit in. Until I found AA, I thought that was enough.

But Now I Know

The reality of the daily life and death situation that alcoholism deals us, puts us at a level of belonging and understanding a little different than wearing weird shoes or having a tattoo to express ourselves. Certainly that is PART of me too, but the simple fact of living “One Day At A Time” because tomorrow I could be dead based on my choice or whether or not to drink, is quite different.  We don’t have time for flowery language, pretty creative sayings on the wall, there is too much at stake and we know it.

I must have needed to be reminded. I am grateful.

 

 

You Mean It WASN’T all my Fault?

Recovery is tough but life is a lot tougher when I am not in Recovery.  Not learning that I have a Pandora’s box inside my heart that fogs up my brain was tougher. Some people have said in meetings, “I didn’t know what I didn’t know.”  I sure didn’t!  The fun/odd thing is that while I worked the Steps I learned some things but it feels like SINCE I worked the Steps I started thinking differently and I have learned much more about myself than I ever could have imagined.

It has been more than a year since my first trip through the Steps.  There is a meeting in our area that uses the “Came to Believe” book as the foundation for the format of their discussion.  A couple weeks ago I was sitting in that meeting.  Following along with what was being read.  I could have sworn I heard something in my ear say, “It’s not your fault.”  I was startled.  Sure we are sitting in a church basement and the choir is practicing upstairs but I heard it. After a minute or so, I just relaxed and the meeting went on.  I went home and sort of forgot about it.

Meditation

I meditate.  If you have read this blog you may know I meditate often.  A couple times a day alone when I can and once a week in a group.  This is the cross-legged kind, I focus on my breath and have done visualization and some other kinds. If you have never meditated before, I highly recommend it.  Seems weird at first, but so did not drinking, then after time, I could feel the difference.

The next morning I was in my usual meditation routine and as I was ending and saying the Third Step Prayer, I heard the voice again, though this time it was a whisper and this time “IT” used my name.  “Janis, it’s not your fault.”  I sat there with that, not so jarred this time, but curious and over the next few days meetings and situations kept being put in front of me that pointed to how I have looked at things for probably 30 years.  I have a couple of posts on my mind in the next few days.

It may not be your fault either, stay tuned.

 

The Itty Bitty $hitty Committee

I don’t mean to offend anyone by that title.  Everything I write about in this blog falls under 3 overall categories:

  • Experience
  • Strength 
  • Hope

And I have heard people reference to the things that spin around in their heads.  I have written about that before.  For me, it is negative self talk that I never knew happened, before I stopped drinking.  I never knew a lot of things before I stopped drinking. It amazes me when “I stop the music in my head” or “Get out of that bad neighborhood that is between my ears” (all terms I have heard in meetings),  how much I realize that I am not the center of the universe and that I AM ENOUGH -just as I am.

One of my most favorite recovery people said the other day, “Most of the things I worry about never even happened!”  Another one said, “I lose sleep about the snow I am worrying about shoveling in 3 days and the storm goes out to sea – then I get angry about that!”

Look At Us

Seriously, as  write this I am writing it for you and ME, if we sit in the “here and now” and be grateful for what we have and who we are, our lives will feel more peaceful, don’t you think?  Our Higher Power didn’t make us so we could torture ourselves, we are here to help one another.

Reading Facebook- giving and getting positive and inspiring comments all help, in addition to the “face to face” recovery work, meetings, service, etc. keeps me healthy and most likely make the people in my day to day world happier too.

It’s January and we are beyond the darkest days and longest nights of the year, I need to make a special effort to be that “Grateful Alcoholic that doesn’t drink.”

Nothing Like a Good Snowstorm!

Today in Maine we are having a snowstorm.  One of those all day specials.  Started around 6 this morning and still going strong. Our office is closed but as a “Distributed Workforce” we can work remotely as a normal way of doing business.  This was one of the reasons, I was able to isolate and drink privately.  As long as I could type and respond when needed, no one suspected that I had a “problem.”

Snow Days were Snow DAZE

When the weather is frightful the bottle is so delightful!  On these stormy days, most of our business conversations online with each other were about the travel, school closing early or being canceled.  I could hold it together for that and meanwhile “pace myself” alone at my desk and my computer screen. There is something cozy about being nestled in to my home office, garage door closed. Knowing I had stocked up.

Today is a Different Snow Day

Last night a friend of mine in the program sent me a text saying “There is no reason for you to drive tomorrow, let me pick you up for the morning meeting.”  WOW that was a gift.  Our morning meetings as I have mentioned previously in this blog, are at a Homeless Shelter in our city.  We never cancel.  There is so much early recovery happening, we knock ourselves out to make sure the meeting is opened.  So often it is the only meeting people get to – they LIVE there. The homeless shelter never closes.

At 6:55am the lights of my friend’s big 4 x 4 truck come up my driveway and off we go.  And at 7:30 the meeting goes on as scheduled. Someone living at the shelter had made the coffee for us and others helped set up the room.  As the meeting unfolded in the usual “round robin” discussion format, one in the group said, “WOW, wouldn’t this be a great day to sit home and drink!”  It was true.  In another life, that would be what I was doing and about this time of the morning, I would be battling off the shakes with a little vodka latte.

Today, I have worked steadily most of the day with a break for a romp in the snow with my dogs.  The snow is still coming down steady, we should be at about a foot before it is done.  And here I am comfortable in my skin not struggling with hiding ANYTHING.  Freedom.

Thank you Higher Power and my friends in AA that helped me stay sober today.

When I Change the Rules

I have mentioned in this blog before, about the changes that have happened in me that are affecting my life today.  It is because of these changes that are very obvious to me, what I had found acceptable when I was drinking may no longer be. Over the past 2 1/2 years the way my thinking has changed is remarkable.  This first post is from February 2013 and yet my first meeting wasn’t until June 20, 2013 – 4 months later.  And I had known well before February that I was beyond the point of “no return.”

My Side of The Street

When I first got sober, I kept hearing this expression, “I need to keep my side of the street clean,”  “It’s not my business what you think of me.”  What this meant to me, was to work on myself.  Learn to do the right thing without regard for what others are doing.  Keep my head down and focus on my recovery and be aware that others in and out of recovery have their own goals and their own way of doing things but they don’t have to be mine.

Relationships

There is an oldtimer in our area that talks often about how bad alcoholics can be with relationships.  Some of us abuse others and some of us take the abuse over and over again the cycle is hard to change.  We have problems understanding healthy relationships-how to have them or how to be in them.  When I first heard this, I wasn’t happy about it, I thought he was over dramatizing his own situation.  I thought I had tried hard to be a good friend, a good partner and good relative. But as I have grown in recovery, I realize the very reason I was unhappy with what he was saying, was really my own poor choices and behaviors in relationships that caused my discontent.  Still does cause my discontent.

Doing the Footwork and Calling on My Higher Power

I have been slowly surrounding myself with people in the program, people that are positive and with people that are creative like myself.  But there still is a significant portion of my life that is like a cancerous sore that needs to be dealt with and I am trying NOT to do what I have done in the past, stomp my feet and storm out the door.  So I hand it over and it is really hard.  Really hard.  This cancer that I am talking about shows me daily what I am not willing to be anymore.  I am not willing to take people for granted, I am not willing to be ungrateful, I am not willing to be dishonest.

I was all those things before I started this journey and today I choose to be aware and choose differently.  But Higher Power if you are out there, I hope you are listening/reading.

 

 

Showing Up

The first time I had really heard this expression “Show Up,” it was my yoga teacher that said it.  We would arrive at the yoga studio and as everyone was finding their mat and sitting down to practice, she would say in a calm voice, “Just find your seat and when you settle in, ‘show up’ for your practice.

I started doing yoga about 12 weeks into my recovery journey.  A friend from the program suggested it and then in one way or another pushed me into it.  I had always said, “Oh yeah, I have always wanted to take some yoga…” never really meaning it.  I mean when I drink and spout off anything like that sounds like I actually CARE about doing something actually healthy.  I am glad my friend called up the studio after he said, “I’ll go too, I could use a class myself.”

There we were driving to yoga in the same car, it all happened so seamlessly, it obviously was inspired by some divine universal energy, Higher Power, whatever – but I can honestly say that taking that yoga class was a turning point for me.

What Yoga Taught Me

Yoga taught me how to STOP.  I learned how to stop because my yoga teacher would put little notes on her bulletin board that were simple instructions that every week I could say, “Sure, I could try that.”  Sometimes I would remember and sometimes I wouldn’t but at least I knew to try.  I realize part of this “thawing out” was due just to the mere temperament of my yoga teacher, I believe she was put into my life when I was ready to listen.  And in her quiet way she helped me learn that I had lots of spinning going on in my head. The slow ease of yoga gave me something else to concentrate on while I was able to learn how to slow down the spinning. Once the spinning slowed, then I could actually see the things that were spinning.

Seeing the Spin

My mind, just like a washing machine- as my head (clothes) spun, it was a blur of color and articles, it is impossible to see what is spinning while I am in the SPIN cycle.  Seeing that I was spinning was a revelation. And once I figured that out, it made a big difference.

Spinning For Years

As I have mentioned in this blog, the spin started slowly years ago.  As my life and my drinking progressed, the spin accelerated.  I lost sight of the individual things that were there and drinking helped me numb the confusion the spinning caused.  Then I didn’t feel the need to figure things out.

Stopping the Spin

For me, “SHOWING UP ” is merely the process of slowing down the spin and showing up to what is there to see for what it is and not what my mind has spun it up to be.  Once I have things separated out a little, I have a better sense of reality.  When I am at yoga or at a meeting, it is that magic of feeling safe, catching my breath so I can figure out what is real and what is just the “SPIN.”