What Happened When I Began to Meditate…I was Miserable

Today, I was in our Sunday 12 & 12 Meeting. It was time to read Step 11. If you have read the 12 & 12 you may be familiar with what the pretty long reading is about.

Step 11

2016-09-11-13-14-45 Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understand Him, praying for the knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

Personally, I don’t split hairs about a Higher Power in General. As many times as I walked around my car wondering how I got home, woke up in my bed, wondering how I got there, it was clear to me that I was not in charge of my own life for a very long time.  As Step 11 and much of AA Literature goes, I am not concerned that people say GOD or HE or HIM.  I am just pretty grateful something somewhere gave two shits about me when I didn’t give one shit about myself.  That’s my  “Keeping it Simple” way of thinking.

Meditation

There are several paragraphs that discuss Meditation.  I would consider myself a regular meditator.  Meditation came along for me about 6 months into AA.  I tried, I couldn’t sit. When I would sit, I would find myself with such negative thoughts, wanting to climb out of my skin- I figured I was just a person that couldn’t do it.

MBSR  (Mindfulness Stress Reduction)

I took a class (MBSR).  I read a book called  Full Catastrophe Living  by Jon-Kabat Zinn. It changed everything.  I learned that it was a struggle for everyone in the room to SIT there and breathe-do nothing.  The feeling in the room was similar to an AA Meeting even though it wasn’t.  People in a room with a common purpose. Each of us came there with our own reason to Meditate, our search for a solution.

The first days and weeks of Mediation are like the first 90 days of sobriety. THEY SUCK. Meditation is a like a mental detox.  Not every day is completely horrible.  But just like going to meetings, calling my Sponsor and working the Steps, it’s work.  And after a while I started to see results.  I feel calmer, I respond rather than react.  I can detach from situations.  I have perspective.  I believe that Meditation enhanced my program so I still do it. It is part of my life today.  My journey to the Happy, Joyous and Free Chapter of my life.

Who knew?

 

 

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It’s Not My Fault? (Part II)

In a growth moment, I wrote about something that happened to me in a meeting and then again when I was meditating the next morning.  You can read more about it here, this post may make more sense if you do.

Rearview

When I was a kid, things were a bit crazy at my house. My father was a hard charging alcoholic that didn’t know it.  My Mom tried to keep the lid on until at 29 years of marriage, my Dad decided he had had enough one night when the dog got sprayed by a skunk.  Us kids were up and out.  All there was left was Mom and the dog.  That wasn’t enough for Bob.  (Another story for another time.)

Dad was a small business guy.  He owned some, worked with some friends to grow some always feeling inferior to people with college degrees.  Dad liked things fast and furious and often that spilled over into the household.  Many times he was pissed off and we had now way of knowing why.  But he was and it was loud, Mom just tried to smooth things over, keep him happy. My brother would hide in his room, I often would go outside and play, be scarce as long as it was light outside. I had no friend’s houses close by to escape to. When I got older I was a competitive athlete and stayed away for practices and meets.   I was pretty accomplished, Dad was proud of that.

I learned to be the peacekeeper.  I learned that peacekeeping and staying out of trouble was so much easier than making a name for myself in the household. When I was winning in the pool my Dad was happy, home life seemed tolerable – I wasn’t home often when he was.  Then there were the times that I would get home from a tough practice and be tired and Dad was pissed at somebody at work.  If he asked how things went I would say, “Good workout” or something that would not lead to more questions.  If the questions happened because I wanted to talk to him, he would turn that anger toward me and I would struggle to find a way out. I constantly felt like I was to blame for the unhappiness at home. Sometimes Dad would be mad at Mom in one of these “transference” events, when I got older, I stuck up for her.  Later on, I couldn’t understand why she would put up with that constant “Sword of Damocles” hanging over her head.  When I went off to college, another thing my father loathed (he had no money to contribute), I was on my own.

Every time I would come home to visit, I would bring straight A’s and then graduated with High Honors. I also found a way (Higher Power magic I am sure now), to get scholarships and loans to do it on my own. This action in itself fed my father’s inferiority complex.  I thought I was “fixing things” by removing the worry and in reality, I fanned the flames.

My brother chose another way to deal with Dad’s tyrannic rule.  Today, my brother is completely devoid of feeling – anything.  While I seem to feel everything.  My brother is not an alcoholic, but he is emotionally and spiritually absent in his own life.  It is interesting how we can be so different coming from the same house with the same parents.

More Later…

 

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.

 

I Still Hate Sunday Nights

Sunday nights meant Monday mornings. In the old days, it was about pulling it together to go to work Monday mornings. It was only a few times I didn’t, I managed to function even at the end of my drinking days.

Same Ole Story
Now I am sober and as I have mentioned previously, I have not changed my job situation.  One reason, I am an owner in the company.  When I got sober I took my partners to lunch and apologized, explained that I was getting help.  They were as supportive as they knew how to be but since that conversation about 2 1/2 years ago, lots have changed.  One thing is, ME.

Truth
Being in recovery, I recognize things I never used to notice.  We are business partners and not close friends. We never have been.  We don’t and never have done anything socially.  I honestly don’t think they are capable of having real friends. Neither of them do to this day.  And of course, when I started going to AA and learning more and more about REAL relationships, the more the “notsoreal” relationships faded from my life.  This is the remaining relationship that I am in because I made a commitment that I am trying to live by.

Lies
One partner put his house on the market and has moved his family about 400 miles away.  At the time, we were told that it was a temporary thing, there were some elder care issues. Once the FOR SALE sign goes up it seems less than temporary.  The sign was up before I knew.  The idea was perhaps growing the business.  To this date, a year and a half later the business is not coming in.  He only criticizes this area and repeats statements that he believes we are backward here.  Then the other one has become a Department Head at a local university and is dividing his time significantly – he lives more than an hour away and recently complained that he is working 80 hours a week.  The 80 hours is not for our company.  I have a hard time feeling compassionate when it is his choice to put his commitment with our company on the back burner and we are supposed to move all our schedules around to accommodate these two men, for meetings, calls, etc.

Third Step
I don’t know how many times I have recited the Third Step Prayer in the parking lot before I have gone into my office.  I manage to get through the days but again, here I am on a Sunday night feeling major anxiety.  They treat me like shit, they treat our employees like shit unless they want something.  I have told both of them things are not acceptable but since I “outed” myself as an alcoholic they have distanced themselves even further than before. I am tired to talking to brick walls.

Test
I know my HP won’t give me anything more than I can handle, but it is hard to reach down and believe that it is all going to work out the way it is supposed to.

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.

 

 

What It Was Like Then

I go to a lot of meetings.  Every now and then I am asked to chair.  My home group I often chair, it is a small Grapevine Meeting and there is no qualifying. Recently, I have been mixing it up with different meetings and probably within the last month I have chaired at 2 meetings that ask the Chair to qualify.  I realized that I never had actually written down “My Story,” and I figured that it was time I did.

Our meetings are pretty informal up here but rather than to just ramble on about “My Story” I figured I would write it down so I could actually read it over as an exercise to better understand it myself.  This blog has discussed a lot of the details of my feelings and experiences in recovery, this post is what brought me to recovery.

What It Was Like

The last year of my drinking was intolerable. The last 6 months I had a burning stomach, my terrible sleep patterns over the past 15 years got even worse. At the end, I wasn’t sleeping for more than an hour or two, when I would get up and pour myself some vodka, search for something to mix it with so I wasn’t a complete barbarian often it was water.  The last couple weeks if I ran out of vodka I would search the house for something, anything, that was in a box, considered something that “nobody drank.”

Returnable bottles were hidden, put in my car inside plastic empty grocery bags and thrown into unattended trash cans, often at fast food places or at “Do it Yourself” car washes. I stashed vodka in my car and showed up at meetings and peoples homes with a “Go Cup” of coffee or a diet pepsi in a plastic bottle laced with vodka.  I spent a lot of time making sure I had booze. Thank God I never got caught, never got pulled over, no jail or hospital.

Many of my friends were doing similar things and I believe they are still doing it now.  One of my very good friends got pulled over by the police but didn’t think anyone would find out, was convinced that her name would not appear in the Court News Section of the paper. Obviously, she was wrong.  It was in the newspaper, I got lots of comments from people we knew but she and I never talked about it. She lost her license and somehow managed to keep that hidden while it was pulled.  Seeing this from afar and never talking directly to her about it, still didn’t stop me.

Every day I functioned, worked and interacted with people, managing my shakes, getting to lunch on time so I could “catch up with my friends” and drink of course, sometimes finishing out the day at the bar and getting home safely (HP was protecting me) before dinner to avoid questions. I would pour a glass of wine and another…

I was haunted and possessed by “The Beast” alcohol that had taken over my life.  I learned to avoid everything and everybody that posed a threat to my relationship with booze.  I had to make sure I had it when I needed it and every day I needed it more and more.

The First Day of Summer

About  3 days before I went to my first AA Meeting, I promised once again I was going to stop drinking, it was going to be different this time.  By noontime, I felt so horrible that I met my friends for lunch and by 3:30 I felt “better.”  The day continued as usual.  I slept about an hour at a time that night each time waking up in a sweat.  I paced and tried not to drink but I did.  Finally I decided to get a shower and look for a place to “take the edge off” and by 9 am I was off and running again.  By 1:00pm, I was falling asleep in the parking lot of a well known establishment in my car.  I couldn’t believe that I drove home it was less than a mile away.

Thursday morning, I sat on the couch crying but there were no tears.  I felt dead inside and looked dead outside.  My cheeks and eyes were puffy, I brushed my teeth and cut my gums because the shaking was so bad.  I looked up an AA Meeting on my computer and there still was one listed at the homeless shelter across town.  I couldn’t even think anymore, I got in my car and went to my first AA Meeting.

That was 297 days ago.

24 Hours A Day Book

Around here some of the Old Timers are ROCK solid on things.  It is possible that they are right in their beliefs, recovery being different for everybody, for me, the “black and white”  “AA Literature Only” individual would not be the best fit for my recovery.  I heard one of the “Traditionalist” mention that the Hazelden  series of literature wasn’t real AA and that it was wrong to read it.  Well personally, remarks like that make me want to read it all the more.  Defiant alcoholic that I am.

What It Was LIke

As I have mentioned numerous times here, a friend came up to see me to make amends just about 2 years ago. (Actually 2 years in May.) BUT it took me another year to realize where I was in alcoholism and to do something about it.  In that year that I was doing “research” controlled drinking, whatever you want to call it, I bought the Big Book and the 24 Hour Book.  I bought them and downloaded them onto my Kindle and tried reading them.  On the Kindle, it is easy because no one sees what you are reading.  I would get on the exercise bike at the gym and read.  Like everything and since I didn’t start EXACTLY on January 1 like the book does, I decided to read up until the date I started reading, which I think was some day in late February.  I really didn’t get it, all the references I didn’t understand and there was just too much “God” in there.  I was pretty sure this was a ploy by religious freaks to prey on alcoholics.  The whole thing completely missed me, I wasn’t ready.

What a Difference A Year Makes

Now, I read the 24 Hour Book pretty regularly, I do mostly read it on the DATE it shows and I read it on my Kindle, just like before only COMPLETELY different.  I cannot believe how my life has changed since then, mind you, I am still struggling, trying to make the puzzle fit together.  Some days I can do it easily and I feel good.  Some days I feel like my head is a bowl of cooked spaghetti.

I am also reading other books.  When I was drinking I didn’t like to read at all, I read at the gym, which was pretty much the only time I read.  Unless it was work stuff. I hate working out still and have taken somewhat of a hiatus, I have to get back to it.  Recovery is a workout, meetings is a commitment.  I hate working out and at the present, I have swapped yoga and meditation for that – for now.  I am easily overwhelmed and I am so protective of my sobriety, I cannot overload myself and expect positive results.  I don’t believe this is a cop out, I believe it is the realization that it took years to break myself in to tiny pieces and I cannot expect to glue it together in 10 months.

So here we are, “Another Day In Paradise.” And without a drink, it surely is.