“Recovery is a Collaboration between Your Intellect and Your Spirit”

A couple weeks ago I went to a local publisher’s Open House on a lark.  In fact, I don’t even know how I happened to receive the email but I did and I went.  It was a beautiful Saturday in January, the place is located on the coast of Maine it took about a little over an hour to find.  It was an effort, I gave up my Saturday, but I am learning that this book project is not mine, it’s ours.   I am being led.  Every time I put this idea down thinking that this is just a place for me to throw out thoughts from my spinning head, something like an unsolicited email comes to me inviting me on a “blue bird” day to an Open House to a place I had never heard of before.

Maine Author’s Publishing is a place that is more than a publisher.  They nurture writers MAP_booksand the writing process.  The classes they offer are reasonably priced and tailored to the inspiring writer. There is a “Buffett” style of services, you pick what you need. Perhaps there is a place like “MAP”  in your area? If you are from Maine, I certainly recommend them as a place to network at the very least, connect with the writing community and perhaps if is your cup of tea, publish something. Some of these writers publish 100 copies for their family use.  MAP will help when bigger places have no interest.

Writing Coach

I met someone special when I went there and like most things with this book, I am amazed at how special she is.  She is a Writing Coach, she offers classes as well as one-on-one coaching.  After I “pitched” (which I had no idea that was what I was doing), my idea to her she gave me her card.  After a few follow up emails, we agreed on a place to meet for an hour’s coaching to start.

The meeting flew by and she was incredible. I have been working on this book on and off since my Sobriety Date in 2013, not being sure until a couple months ago that this was what I am supposed to do.  I have some skills at being organized, writing, have this blog plus tons of other notes.  But what I don’t have is direction, priority.  I don’t know “First things First” when it comes to writing and PUBLISHING a book.  Direction is what she gave me.  Now I know what Writing Coaches do.  In “Recovery Speak” she is my Writing Sponsor. She helps keep me on the beam.

Early in our meeting she said, “Recovery is a Collaboration between Your Intellect and Your Spirit.”

I think I have a winner.  Stay tuned.  The next few months are going to be a whirlwind with Experience, Strength, and Hope at every turn.

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Full Throttle Senses

As I frequently mention, I am not a Doctor, a social worker or a counselor of any sort.  My trainer was called “LIFE.”  Mine.  Experiences are mine and shared experiences with others. When I share on this blog it is merely an attempt to sort out things happening with me in hopes that someone reading may connect and find comfort. The daily journey with our disease is unique to each of us.  I find that knowing I am not in this fight alone, it is more possible and my “daily reprieve” lets me live a life without being consumed with the thoughts of wanting that drink.

Here Come Those Tears Again…

Early in Recovery, it seemed that I would cry at the drop of a hat.  When I started meditating in a class of non-alcoholics in the prolonged silence the tears would stream down my cheeks. And in that silence, I was thawing out. I was thawing out in safety and that needed to happen.  All those years of “stuffing” bubbled up and when there was no alcohol to “soothe” them, they just flowed freely.  I survived and it was not a bad thing.

I find now that I need to be keenly aware of what some people call “triggers.”  Personally, I am not a person that is “triggered” by one thing  inasmuch as I am a “cup runneth over” type.  Controlling those things that fill my cup, the good and the bad is critical to the “Happy, Joyous and Free” factor of my life.

For Example:

As I write this today, I write in silence.  No background noise except the occasional dog bark, cars going by outside my window.  I don’t have the music on.  Most of the time I do have music playing and I select the type of music based on how I feel that day.  I was up and doing a radio show before 6am which is fun and exciting for me, lots of switching gears and interaction. By 8:30 I am getting into my “real job” and I can feel the effects of “over-stimulation.”  (All the coffee doesn’t help either.)  ONAIR

What Does This Mean?

Now that I am in Recovery and sober I feel things.  After a couple years, I am beginning to be comfortable with those feelings.  Rather than dulling those feelings with booze, I try to manage them with the sounds, smells, and visuals in my workspace.  By doing this, I am not only allowing more serenity in but not being snappy or sarcastic with others around me.  A smart-ass comeback isn’t always funny, especially when I am reacting to something rather than responding thoughtfully.

If you are early in Recovery, take a look at your environment around you.  What things can you control? Music or talk on the radio, the places I go before and after an appointment (quiet and calm or busy and loud) even the aromas around me, seem to help me manage my day.  I never knew it could be that easy, but then again I never bothered to notice because I was drinking it all away.

How about you?  

Having a Holiday Plan to Stay Sober

When I first got sober, it was hard to imagine a day without a drink.  And at times, it was hard to imagine an hour without a drink.  Thank God and my home group, kept me glued together, let me know of things that were outside my comfort zone and took me to events before I dared to show up by myself.

“We Will Love You Until You Love Yourself”

This saying is one of the very many I heard when I first came in.  It is also one of the very many that has changed in meaning as my recovery has grown and deepened.  At first it meant, someone welcoming me when I showed up to a meeting I had never been to. Or when I shared something painful, a compassionate look or a gentle touch of someone that sent the message to me “You’re Not Alone.”  I needed to have lots of those moments to realize this was the real deal – This Place –R E C O V E R Y was where I belonged. Somewhere along the way, I was able to begin to give back to my home group, my friends and the program of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Because this fellowship filled my heart with love so then I could love.

It is okay if your family of origin makes you crazy.  It’s okay if you need a break to get away.  And it is really okay, if you can find someplace safe, safe and sober to run to, to recharge the batteries, to stay sober. Especially, if you are traveling out of town, or even back to your home town, take a few minutes to look up some meetings.  Find out where they are and what time they are being held.

Make A Plan

Even though my family may have not have been driving me nuts at the very moment, I have a plan to have a meeting in the schedule each day. I find it helps me maintain.  It gives me my space and time to salute and nurture my recovery.  If you are up here in Maine, we have Alca-thons over the holidays that hold meetings 24 hours a day during the tough times of the Holidays.  Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, we have something going on that is a sober alternative.  I know in my house holidays where the HIGH HOLY DRINKING DAYS of the year and we all knew where we could stock up when some of our favorite stores were closed.

Stock Up on Meetings

Instead of searching for a “Beer Store” (as my Dad would call it), I make sure I don’t have to search for a meeting because I all ready know where one is and where my real friends are!  I can leave chaos and find serenity.

Happy New Year!

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.

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.

Seeing Another Alcoholic Before He Knows…He’s An Alcoholic

Never before have I responded well to people telling me what to do, especially when I knew I needed to do it.  And when an old college friend made amends to me a couple of years ago, before I knew I was an alcoholic, his words and actions spoke louder to me because he was making amends for HIS actions never even beginning to suggest any of my own.

That day, was a turning point for me and even though it took me another year to believe it myself, his loving amend was about him and not finger pointing at me.  He wasn’t someone telling me how to live my life.  It took a hopeless day of sitting on the couch with my stomach burning, body shaking and mind blowing to realize, I too, was an alcoholic.


 

Best Lesson

For me, the best lessons are ones that are not pushed at me or shoved down my throat.  I have learned most things in my life by watching to learn and then living to learn.  So as I approach 10 months (which is very GREEN, very new), I remember this humility gift that my old friend gave to me by just being there.  Because it was him on that very first day that I called when I had no idea what I was thinking, feeling or doing.  I sat in my car crying and blubbering over the phone to the very man that planted the seed by his own honesty that ANYONE could be an alcoholic.  Anyone. EVEN me.

Old Friends

Because of Facebook, I have made many more connections with old friends as well as new ones.  I am pretty sure I have mentioned this in this blog before, many renewed relationships that were long before I had any problems with alcohol.  In one case, after being reconnected, I made a simple acknowledgement of appreciation to the person for his support during a rough patch I went through back in high school. There were no amends needed but this program is teaching the importance of Gratitude and I am making it a conscious effort to express it more often.  Once I thanked him, we started talking on the phone and staying more closely in touch on Facebook.  We exchange what we are doing on any given day, how our jobs were going, what was happening around the household, we were being pretty frank.  We always were with each other all those many years ago, we just picked up from where we had left off.

The Lunch Whistle

The more he shared with me, the more I realized my old friend needs “the program.”  On many fronts, when he shares things with me, I hear them as if they were coming out of my mouth.  The Lunch Whistle sounded, “He is an alcoholic still doing research.” I can hear the sadness, the fear and the anger building. This is not the same sound of my high school friend, this is my old friend traveling down a similar road I have, only he doesn’t seem to know it.  Bloody Mary’s and Scotches included.

The Now

I started to share with him what my day is like in more positive ways. I mention meditation, I mention going to the pool, I mention feeling a lot better since I stopped drinking.  I don’t mention AA.  (Don’t yell at me, please.)  I stopped short of mentioning AA because it was almost like “something” told me I shouldn’t.  That my old friend needed a friend so that he was not alone.  It is very obvious to me that he is isolating himself and these emails or texts of affirmations from 800 miles away (me) are causing him to pause and ask questions about where he is in his life, I know this because he has told me.

If You Want What We Have…

I have been praying for guidance about this because I cannot “unring the bell.”  Once I tell my AA story I cannot take it back.  I am turning it over daily and still don’t feel as though the time is right.  We will see and stay tuned.  Thanks for listening as I navigate yet another new experience. Trying to put into practice what worked for me and what may have saved my life.

Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n Roll

Maslow had a theory.  It was called the hierarchy of needs.  And if you have never heard of it, every person in psychology or marketing class discusses it.  It is a theory on human behavior.  This blog isn’t a discussion on whether the theory it correct or not, though as I work through this life more and more I am observing that somehow I am in that triangle.

I am Living at the Bottom

The bottom of the Maslow’s triangle is Physiological – that means Air, Shelter, Sleep, Water, Food, Sex.  If you have ever seen a person in Hospice or a person die, it is amazing to watch the human spirit try and survive.  Until its last breath. And I always thought Sex was on this list because of our need to procreate, as a tree dies, it uses all it’s energy to make sure that life goes on when it no longer can, it sprouts saplings and seed pods, cones, etc. It wants it’s species to survive.  Since I stopped drinking, lots of things have happened to me as part of recovery.  When I was drinking my sleeping patterns were horrendous, I didn’t care much about eating, booze was my water and sex was usually something that happened after drinking and drinking a lot.

The Day the Music Died

I have always loved listening to music. Though I do play an instrument here or there, but blasting  music and cleaning the house, cooking or just working has been part of me.  In the past couple of years of my drinking, I wasn’t listening to a lot of music.  Certainly not singing in my car like I used to do. I would listen to talk radio and get irritated at politics and politicians rather than to enjoy an old favorite Patsy Cline tune.  It was as if my feelings for joy had become dulled.  Music sometimes irritated me also, even my old favorites.

Sex Talk

I remember early in my recovery, people used to talk about sex. I was worrying about making it an hour without drinking and they were talking about sex?  They talked about how it effected them and how they may have used it as a weapon with others.  As I work the Steps, I learned about some sexual situations in my past that molded my life. I never dealt with them then and as I grew older, sex and other situations like sex were enhanced or covered up by alcohol.  Ending up in the wrong bed with the wrong guy, waking up next to someone, taking inventory or my body and wondering, “Shit, did we…?”  Or just sneaking out altogether hoping that my companion wouldn’t remember either.  Just like music, I stopped enjoying sex and certainly knew nothing about the correlation of sex and love since my marriage broke up in 1999.   I believe that Maslow is talking about sex in the way of procreation and not necessarily for pleasure purposes. I am not sure where I am on the sex part.  Too old to procreate too young not want to lose my “groove.”  Not sure where this fits in with my recovery but it must somewhere.