Another Freakin’ Friday

Well, I made through the workweek and I’m still sober.  Still dealing with a bit of a headache but seem to be managing it with some migraine pills.  Non-narcotic migraine pills, that is.

Today I’m just glad to have made it through my day without picking up a drink.  Fridays are hard.  Friday was traditionally my day to really get wasted, no work in the morning, why not have a drink or ten?  To make matters worse, I had to go get groceries today.  I’ve been avoiding shopping for the last two weeks and there is nothing to eat in my house.  Well, there is a tin of oysters in the pantry that I think was there when we moved in.  If it was just me I probably would have eaten canned oysters for dinner but there wasn’t enough for dinner for four.

Guess I can’t avoid going to the grocery store forever, I mean, I have to get food somewhere.  I’m avoiding shopping because shopping usually involves me buying booze while I’m stocking up on “necessary” provisions.  I’m also still dealing with a decent amount of anxiety and stores are loud and full of people and tend to make me feel rather panicky.  I am picky about how the shopping is done so I won’t let boyfriend do it.  If I let boyfriend do the shopping I will end up with a fridge full of bologna and hotdogs.  Anxiety be damned, I will always do the shopping.

I thought my shopping excursion went somewhat well.  I seriously put the headphones on and listened to good tunes and pretended like I was alone the entire time.  I don’t think anyone wanted to come near me.  When I have headphones on I have this tendency to talk to myself because I think no one can hear me because I can’t hear myself.  Attention shoppers; crazy woman mumbling to herself on aisle four!

I wasn’t surprised I had a strong craving kick in when I passed the alcohol aisles but I was still annoyed by it.  I reeaallly just want to get to that point where I just don’t want the stuff anymore, where I just don’t miss it.  In my logical brain I don’t miss booze.  I know without alcohol I feel better, look better, sleep better, have less anxiety, less depression, the list goes on.  It’s that psycho, addicted side of my brain that insists on trying to convince me how good a drink would be. (C’mon, just one!)  I get really sick of having that psycho voice in my head.

I’ve made it for longer periods of time sober and I know that eventually the voice of addiction gets quieter.  This time around I really want to give myself the time and the tools to make that voice disappear for good. Until then I will keep practicing, one day at a time.  Sometimes it may take being the crazy lady with voices in her head at the grocery store but I’m totally okay with that.

 

older drawing by me.  seemed like a good fit for a crazy thoughts kind of day.

That’s It, I Quit!

Seriously, I quit!  I quit kids, house chores, working for a living, minding my pets and just about anything else that requires responsibility!

Today was ridiculous.  I’m seventeen days sober, I finally got over my head cold and then the last two afternoons in a row I have gotten the worst headaches.  I’m not sure if this is my body still detoxing or the residual effects of my cold or WTF?  I’ve already mentioned, probably more than once, that I am not a big fan of pain.  Pain is a trigger, pain is not fun, these headaches are horrible.

Yesterday at work I was feeling pretty good about myself, pretty damn smug actually.  My boss told me she was really impressed with how much I was getting done and told me what a great help I’ve been.   Man, I was pleased with myself (purr, purr).  I was thanking my predecessor for doing a very poor job which now makes me look like a rock star.  Today I was cursing my predecessor for doing such a poor job.  Me, being little miss perfectionist, I just had to discover a whole project that has been neglected and needs a million things done ASAP because the last guy didn’t do anything-and lied about it! Jackass.

There went my easy, breezy end of the week.  On top of the added stress I had that damn headache, again! It was so hard to even focus on what needed to get done.  Okay, I’m working on creating healthy boundaries with my work, when my work day is done I go home. I really try not to bring my work home even mentally.  So, I’m heading home thinking, “Ahhhh, I’m going to relax, have some hot tea and maybe take a bath.”  Buzzkill boyfriend, “Kids’ll be here in an hour.”  Shit, I forgot, new schedule.  Dammit. No bath, no quiet time.

I love those kids and they love to talk.  Those boys will walk past their Dad, pick the lock to my bedroom door, find me hiding in the closet behind the winter coats pretending I’m comatose and just. start. talking.  I’m exaggerating of course, the youngest still can’t quite pick the lock, those fine motor skills are still developing.  “No, of course I’m not hiding from you, who does that?  Yes! Yes, I do want to hear about every single Pokémon card you have.  Yes, I would love for you to give the highly detailed run down of your last twenty games of Minecraft.”  I suppose I should be flattered that the boys enjoy talking to me  but sometimes in between nodding and saying, “Oh yeah, Really?, Uh-huh, That’s cool,” I just glare at their Dad.  He just grins and shrugs.  Jackass.

I might have been okay with everything I just mentioned but then I had to go and get in a fight with my five gallon water dispenser.  I lost that fight and ended with water everywhere.  When I went to clean up the mess I realized that at least one of my dogs had peed under my dining room table.  I’m pretty sure I know the culprit; miss prima donna who doesn’t think she should have to do her business outside when it’s cold out.  Jackass.  So, I’m mopping up water and dog pee and then I slip in the watery dog pee because I was wearing these cheapo flip-flops that I always use for wading in yucky stuff.  I know these flip-flops are slippery, I’ve almost done a face-plant  in them more than once.  Why do I keep using these flip-flops?  Sometimes I am positive I am a damn masochist.

I fell on butt in dog pee water.  I told boyfriend and the kids that I quit.  I’m fired! I fire myself!  That’s it.  How the hell does anyone stay sober and deal with all this crap?  Since I’m not giving up on my sobriety I guess I will give up on all this other said crap.  Good night.  Have fun cleaning up the dog pee water and when you’re done go buy some lotto tickets so I don’t have to go back to work tomorrow.  If the lotto tickets don’t work I hear they pay about thirty two G’s for donating a testicle to science.  Just throwing it out there.

Polymer critter by me. Actually made him over the weekend but he looks like I feel today!

 

 

Me, Myself and Meetings

I have tried a couple of times now to write something about recovery meetings.  Every time I start something it comes out sounding a little too bitter and jaded.  I have had some bad experiences with groups but I have also had some good experiences.  I really don’t want to come across as that super angry twelve-step hater, I’m really not!  So, I figure maybe it will be easier for me to start by writing about what I do like about meetings.

My first experience with a recovery group was actually a positive experience.  After detox I got into an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) for substance abuse.  I could not have made a better decision.  The group was relatively small, about five to ten people, and led by a professional counselor.  MY IOP group met three  days a week for three hours so we ended getting pretty comfortable with each other.  The thing I loved about IOP was that it felt safe.  The group had a professional counselor to keep us on track and offer insight.  Relapses were not a big deal in the group, we didn’t do coins or count days so it never felt like anyone was trying to out-do or impress and there was no shame in failure.

My experience with AA meetings wasn’t quite as positive as my experiences with IOP.  I am, however, writing my positive experiences at the moment so I will start with what I did like.  Listening to other people’s addiction stories is a good thing.  I got to hear stories that made me realize that I was not the only one who thought and did a lot of crazy shit.  There is a lot of power in just knowing that one is not alone in the insanity of addiction.

Accountability is good.  Recovery is a hard path and best not walked alone.  My biggest problem; trust issues.  It was very hard for me to establish relationships with strangers to the point where I could feel comfortable calling someone and telling them I was having a hard time.  It took a lot of effort for me to establish a relationship with my sponsor and then I had a pretty big let down.  Wait, writing about good stuff here!  Finding a good accountability partner or group is helpful.

Doing step work can be beneficial.  I think the twelve-steps are a bit like an introduction to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).  I am a big fan of CBT, changing ones thoughts is possible and by changing our thoughts we can change our behaviors.  The twelve-steps is helpful for going through some of your addictive thought patterns and debunking them.  One HUGE issue I have with step work; it should be done with a professional therapist.  Going through the steps had me unearth so many past traumas.  I didn’t have skeletons in my closet I had nasty, moldering, reanimated corpses in my closet.  A sponsor may want to help but they aren’t necessarily trained or equipped to help an individual deal with those kinds of issues.

I would highly recommend to anyone commencing on a twelve step journey to get a therapist.  There are things you just don’t want to share with your group and maybe not even with your sponsor.  There are things that you may need some professional help to deal with.  For one, the steps don’t address mental health issues at all.  I will stop at that because I feel a rant coming on.

Another reason I recommend a therapist; there are options besides the twelve steps.  This is where I will probably get in trouble with passionate twelve-steppers. One of my problems with the twelve steps was that they were written in the 1930’s by privileged, white males.  The AA founders borrowed ideas from a Christian group, the Oxford Group, that believed that most of life’s problems come from selfishness.  The twelve steps focus very heavily on deflating big egos, talking about how bad and selfish we were in our addiction.  What about people who are already broken down?  What about people with massively low self-esteem?  What about codependent doormats? (Yup, describing myself there.)

 Charlotte Kasl-Davis has a great book, Many Roads, One Journey: Moving Beyond the 12 Steps, and she makes good arguments about the twelve-steps.  Kasl isn’t anti AA and her book helped me put some of “the program” in perspective.  Kasl’s book also gave me some good advice on what to look for and what to look out for in group dynamics.  Kasl’s best advice; if you’re not comfortable, if you don’t feel it in your gut-find another group.  Not all groups are healthy and nobody should not feel guilty, shamed or harassed by a group that is supposed to be helping them.

I just read this great post today which is along the same topic:

 http://www.hipsobriety.com/home/2015/3/26/10-ways-to-evolve-alcoholics-anonymous

 Twelve step meetings may be the most prevalent but there are other meetings.  I’ve been to some SMART meetings which are not faith based and focus heavily on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  Smart meetings are also guided by a trained group leader which adds a safety factor for me.  I’ve also tried Refuge Recovery, a Buddhist based recovery group.  I liked Refuge a lot because the meeting starts with meditation and then relates it to addiction.  My only problem with getting to these other groups is that I live in a small town, we have one AA group, that’s it.  I have to drive an hour one way for the other meetings which makes it difficult for me to attend on a regular basis.  Right now I’m signed up for a women’s meditation group that meets once every two weeks, we haven’t started yet so I am just waiting to see how that goes.

 I’m reading back over everything I’ve just written and thinking, “Man, this chick sounds brave!  She’s bounced around to all these different meetings, been burned, tried others, she must not have a shy bone in her body.  Who is this girl?”  The truth is, I am not that brave.  Everything I’ve written in the last few paragraphs is just the bare bones of my three year quest for recovery.  All the different recovery groups I’ve tried were scary and I had to fight my anxiety every time I tried something new.  I’m anxious right now about starting a women’s meditation group; what if they don’t like me? What if they are all hoity-toity and I’m that ex-junkie one with all the tattoos?  What if they judge me?  Putting myself out there is scary.  The only reason I kept doing it was because I was desperate for something to help me and that desperation was greater than my fear.  Sometimes I think I’m just a damn masochist.

 I’m still in the process of learning what I need in order to recover.  I’m not ruling out groups totally although, I am currently not attending one.  Some people have great experiences with meetings and great recoveries, I am jealous of them.  I currently have questions about whether one needs to attend a support group-forever.  I also wonder whether or not constantly focusing on the problem itself (addiction, alcoholism, whatever) rather than on a life free of the problem is good or bad for sobriety.   I’ve been sober for sixteen days now and haven’t attended a meeting yet.  I feel very good about my sobriety this time around, I feel very positive.  Is this because I’m not surrounded by a bunch of people moping about their addiction issues?

 Please feel free to leave me some comments, thoughts, suggestions about your experiences with groups.  Thanks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, DEARRR

A few weeks back someone suggested to me to remember the acronym DEARRR when it comes to self care.

Diet

Exercise

Attitude

Rest, Relaxation, Recreation

Yesterday I was thinking about coping, the verb not the noun, and just how exactly does one do this thing.  The DEARRR acronym popped into my head, probably because it’s catchy and easy to remember like certain pop songs.  Oh god no, Bieber get out of my head, get out now!

Where was I?  Oh yeah, DEARRR.  I’m failing on all fronts at the moment.  My diet has been a disaster.  I can’t stop craving sugar and carbs.  Anyone who has gotten off the sauce can probably tell you, the body craves that booze sugar.  For some reason people in recovery from opiates also crave sweeties but the reason for that is unknown.  I just want to feel sorry for myself and stuff my face with chocolate. I don’t even like chocolate that much.

Exercise, I’ve really been meaning to get around to that.  So many studies confirm that exercise is good for mood and recovery.  Get those endorphins flowing.  My excuse has been that it’s cold out and I’ve been sick.  That’s what I’m telling my puppers as they stare longingly toward the front door at walk time.  The not-so-bright one just cocks his head sideways and looks confused.  The smarter one reminds me that cold weather doesn’t make you sick, it’s a virus silly. My smarter dog says this all with her eyes as she stares accusingly at her leash.   My smart dog is good at making me feel guilty.

Attitude, certainly room for improvement.  I’ve been trying to keep up with a gratitude journal and write things I’m grateful for each day.  Some days this is more effective than others.  Some entries from this week: today I am grateful I didn’t murder anyone.  I am grateful for duct tape, haven’t used it yet but it’s nice to know I could.  I am grateful for X-Box, without it these kids would Never. Stop. Talking. How do they breathe?!!

Rest, I’ve been sleeping like crap for two weeks.  Withdrawals coupled with congested sinuses, it hasn’t been good.  I am happy to say that I finally did get a good night’s sleep last night and I think it was just what the doctor ordered.  Trying not to do anything this weekend, no plans, just rest.  This is harder than I thought it would be.

Relaxation, I don’t relax.  I don’t think I’m wired that way. Anxiety makes me constantly feel like I should be doing something or there’s something I forgot or, or…it never stops.  I think that was the one of the most appealing things about alcohol for me, after a few drinks I could relax a little.  Now I’m trying to find ways to relax naturally.  So far meditation has been helpful but it does take practice which is hard for a person who likes instant gratification.

Recreation.  I need to have fun.  I’ve spent most of my adult life thinking anything fun involved alcohol or a substance of some kind.  How do I learn to have fun sober?  What do I do to fill that huge, empty vacuum that was previously occupied by alcohol and drugs?  At least I have being a big kid to my advantage.  Yesterday I discovered polymer clay.  I haven’t had so much fun since Play-Doh in first grade.  Getting creative is good for me.  Things that provide a sense of accomplishment are a much needed endorphin dump.  I had fun and I was sober.

The best news is that i finally woke up feeling a little less sick today.  Maybe just doing something fun is more healing than I imagined?  I will keep my working at my DEARRRS, one day at a time.

polymer critters  by me.

 

 

 

Wanted: Coping Skills

When I checked into a detox three years ago I remember going through the whole intake process.  I was anxious, depressed, embarrassed, and not a little defensive.  I remember looking at the chart the intake nurse was writing on and seeing the note “poor coping skills”.  I remember being really offended by that statement.  Poor coping skills?  Me?  How dare she! I felt like saying, “Listen bitch! I cope with a crazy amount of shit! You have no idea! I lived in a war zone for five years, a war zone, literally! I handled it, I put my game face on and I handled it.  I work in a high stress environment and I handle that too! See this poker face? See it?! Lady Gaga got nothing on me!”  Pffffttt, she says I have poor coping skills.

I have learned a great deal since my first day in recovery.  I have learned that while addiction is one way of handling my issues it certainly doesn’t make it a good coping skill. I looked up the word “cope” in the dictionary today.

verb. (of a person) deal effectively with something difficult.

I could still argue that cramming all my painful emotions deep down inside and then smothering them with high doses of alcohol and opiate medications was effectively dealing with something difficult.  I was still getting up and going to work every day, I was still getting the bills paid on time, I never forgot to make lunches for boyfriend’s kids, in my mind I was handling it.  Yeah, I was a pretty functional addict. For me, coping was simply making sure no one ever saw through my façade.  If I looked okay on the outside and could manage not to cry in public or have some kind of nervous breakdown when people were watching then that meant I was fine.

I love dictionary.com.  Scrolling down further I found that the term cope comes from Middle English with the meaning “meet in battle, come to blows” which came from Old French, via Latin from the Greek word kolaphos “blow with a fist“. Language is cool like that.

Hmmmmmm.  Looking a coping from the perspective of it’s original meaning I can certainly say that my  definition of coping doesn’t quite measure up.  Anesthetizing pain is hardly meeting it in battle. If anything, my addiction allows me to do the exact opposite of “coming to blows” with depression, anxiety and pain.  Turns out, I’m not really coping at all.

Yesterday was a really hard day for me and my lack of coping skills became very apparent to me.  I haven’t been feeling well and it was really starting to get to me.  Here I am, supposedly a grown adult, and I can’t even deal with being sick for a week.  I started to feel really depressed.  Pretty sure I  hit a huge downturn on my  recovery rollercoaster.  I tried writing a couple things for the  blog but ended up with that depressed feeling of, “What’s the point anyway?  This is stupid.  I don’t even know why I thought this would help.”

I am glad to say that I didn’t drink or use but I did avoid my negative emotions by playing a silly game on my phone for hours.  I only noticed before I went to bed that I had not tried to meditate or pull my head out of my ass in some other constructive way.  I woke up this morning remembering detox and the “poor coping skills” lady.  I woke up thinking, “Damn, she was totally right.”  I looked up “coping” in the dictionary ; it’s actually the top of a brick wall so I had to look up “cope”, language is cool like that.  I realized that in my adult life I have not done a lot of coping.  I realized that I need to meet my emotions in battle, I need to go to blows with the things I fear.

In the twelve-step world they talk about living “life on life’s terms”.  This doesn’t seem very fair.  I still think life should make the effort to meet me on my terms but if it did then we would never meet because I would never come out of hiding in order to establish any terms.  Walking out to meet anything in battle is a scary thought.  I’m not sure how this coping thing is done but I guess I have a good idea of how it’s not done!

Today I will just try my best to cope, meet in battle, and possibly vanquish-my laundry, the dishes, and my head cold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thirsty Thursday

Today was a rough one.  I am just not recovering from this cold and I’m totally over it.  Colds and flus are completely unfair and I feel I should be exempt from these things.  I mean, I’m doing the right thing and getting sober, don’t I get a free pass from winter viruses this year?  Why does the world not work the way I think it should?  I think I need to complain to management.

Seriously, though, I got slammed with the worst cravings I have had so far on my way home from work today.  ARRRRGGHHH! Driving home is a trigger for me, being sick is a trigger for me, is there anything that isn’t a trigger for me?

Bronies.  Bronies are not a trigger for me and the fact that there are bronies in the world made my day a little better today.  I just discovered bronies this morning at work when I probably should have been doing something more constructive.  Look, there is only so much I can focus on at a time after a certain amount of Dayquil. Bronies are adult male My Little Pony fans.  I suppose I must add that these are normal adult males who don’t mind admitting they like My Little Pony and not creepy adult males hiding out in Mom’s basement.  Grown men who work on cars, drink beer and just happen to love the shit out of My Little Pony.  Bronies, wherever you are, I adore you!  And thanks to you I will stay sober another day.

Really wanted to throw out a sketch of a pony but vegged out on some Black Mirror episodes instead.  Hoping tomorrow I will feel a bit better and get some more art going for the blog.  Trying to do at least one everyday, we’ll see how it goes.

*Day later. Pony promised, pony delivered!

 

 

 

Stupid Sniffy Snot Nose

I hate having a runny nose.  A runny nose is totally up there in the gross category with nails across the chalk board and prune juice smoothies for this girl.  I have never had a prune juice smoothie, I never want to have one, it’s the texture.

I hate having colds that are just bad enough to make me miserable but not quite bad enough to justify staying home in bed.  I hate having colds so much I have often used this as a reason to drink or use.  Let’s face it, addicts can come up with a lot of plausible sounding reasons to use.

Today I did not drink or use.  I did go to work, accomplish very little and spend an inordinate amount of time doodling a picture of my snot taking over my office.  A coworker suggested that it might be Cthulhu living under my desk.  I countered that they could be the same entity depending on what dimension you’re looking at it from.  I should not have started this conversation with said coworker, he can out-nerd the nerdiest people alive.  I am now congested and confused about quantum physics.

I think I will just be happy to still be sober today and get some sleep.