Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The crazy airplane story

So over the weekend I got to take a trip to see my little baby nephew and his parents.  Now before I go further I should clarify that my little baby nephew is neither a baby nor my nephew.  Well he's kind of a baby, but he's becoming much more kid-like.  He turned 2 yesterday.  He's not actually related to me, but his dad is my very best friend from childhood.  I am especially close to this little boy because I actually moved in with them to help take care of the new baby, and was there for the first 6 months of his life. friend and his wife had a business trip to a pretty fun place.  They brought the little guy with them, and I hung out with him on Saturday and Sunday while they did the business stuff.  Then on Monday we all did the tourist thing together.

That's the very condensed version of the trip, and I will just say, it was AWESOME!  I love love love my lil nephew so much and it was great to spend some time w/him.  I rather selfishly enjoyed the time with him without his parents because I got to be his number one focus (and it worked for his parents so they could get a break and focus on what they needed to do).  Plus of course, it was fun to see my friend and his wife.

But the really crazy part, the part that needs sharing, is my flight out there.

I sat next to a young girl, about 23 I think she said.  She was headed out to see her boyfriend who is in the military and have a crazy party weekend with him.  She was nervous about the flight and also wanted to start her fun early so she ordered a ton of alcohol.  She didn't want to drink alone, so she was practically begging me to drink with her.  Holy temptation batman!  I generally avoid places where there's alcohol, and I've only just reached the point where I can drive by liquor stores without feeling stir crazy...and all of a sudden it was right there in front of me and free.  I couldn't walk away because I'm on a 2.5 hour flight and obviously can't just go grab a different seat.  We'd been talking for quite a while before the alcohol came (she was a very nice girl), so I couldn't just put headphones on and ignore her or go to sleep or anything.  Plus I'd already shared drinking stories w/her (a mistake in hindsight but I can't seem to help it when someone starts telling their drinking stories I start in w/mine) so I couldn't use any of the usual excuses of it makes me sick or whatever.  I should've just told her flat out I don't drink.  But anyway.  I didn't want to get in to explanations of my issues.

Maybe I wasn't that direct because a part of me really did want the drink.  I mean come on...I'm thousands of feet up in the air, on my way to spend 3 days in a state where I don't know anyone...if ever there was a time to get away with it!  I told the girl that if I started drinking there's no way I'd make it to finding the right bus and getting to my hotel, which was true.  "You'll have a whole hour to sober up again!" she replied.  She had a point.

I managed to resist, but I spent much of the flight saying to myself, "Really god??!!  Really??!!"

That was Friday night.  I was relieved just to get off that plane and be done with it.  But on Saturday night I was thinking about it again and this huge revelation hit me.

In the row in front of me there was a foster mom.  She was telling the woman next to her all about her many foster kids she's taken in, and she had some incredible stories.  Her family is one of those that takes in older kids, so she'd faced some challenging stuff.  I'd been listening in to quite a bit of her story because 1.) I'm nosey, 2.) I love hearing foster care stories, good and bad, and 3.) I was wishing I was in that row and not with drunk girl.  I did have a chance at the end of the flight as everyone was getting off to tell her that I was in foster care as a kid and to thank her for what she does for her kids.

So...Saturday night I was thinking about how this woman, this foster mom, is a symbol of where I've come from.  She's also a symbol of where I want to go.  I want to be a foster mom, and I want to be able to help kids in many different ways, but I can't do that if I'm drinking.  Drunk girl next to me, I found out through the course of the flight, works as a stripper, drinks heavily every night at work, and tends to get in fights when drunk.  She has two kids by a man who was too drunk to get her to the hospital for either of their births.  She's a prime example of one of the many unfortunate paths I could go down if I drink.  So all in that one little area I had where I've come from, and two very different options of where I could go depending on whether or not I take the drink.  And suddenly I realized, how incredibly cool to see that so vividly and all at once?  And, how amazing is it to look back and see that I had the skills to take a step back, take a breath, look at my options, think through the drink, etc.  And I valued my life, and all of these wonderful feelings sobriety has given me enough that I wasn't about to risk it for anything.  I took a step towards where I want to be, and showed that I really am committed to this.  I am now so grateful for having had this flight, even though at the time I thought it was the worst it could've possibly been.

I told this whole story at a meeting last night, and multiple ppl said it gave them goosebumps.  One girl I talked to afterwards had a really interesting take on it.  She said how interesting it is that the drink...the temptation, was right there next to me, while the career and the long-term stuff was up in front, just out of reach.  She said that really that's how life is: the fun, cheap thrill, instant gratification is always right there and looking so promising.  It's a challenge to look beyond that and keep the focus on the future, which is where the real good comes from.

Anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. :)  I've told it, or at least parts of it, many times now which is why it's become "the crazy airplane story." lol  I'm just still so wow'ed by the whole experience.  The fact that an unbelievable temptation was there, that I somehow didn't give in to it, and then the amazing realization later on.  It's all just so so cool, and it gives me a lot of renewed hope for the future.  It also leaves me in absolute awe of how sobriety, aa, god, and everything else is working in my life.  So freakin' cool.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Part 2

I forgot to add a fun/entertaining part of my meeting from last night.

The AA club that I go to now takes a meeting every thursday night to the psych ward where I was inpatient.  I've been really wanting to go because I think it would be good for me to tell my story there and to start to face my fear of hospitals.  I'm hesitant though, because no matter how much I know they'll let me out afterwards it's still a very creepy place for me to walk in to.  Heck just going to the urgent care clinic the other day and having them put a hospital-like bracelet on me was enough to totally freak me out!    Anyway, it was my first exposure to AA (though it was a different group that came in, since it wasn't tuesday), so one day I will return.

The reason I mention this is because that same woman that told me I have a way with words started talking about other meetings she'd like to go to.  She asked if I'd been to the hospital one.  I told her, "Only from the patient side."  Her jaw dropped down to the floor!  She kept asking me, "really?!"  She asked if I committed myself or if someone else committed me and I said, "They committed me.  Handcuffs, tied to the bed, the whole bit."  She asked me a few more questions about it but the shock never left her face.  I figure there's lots of different ways I can think about this.  I choose:

1. I don't look like a crazy person that needs to be locked up in a mental hospital.  Woohoo!  (Of course lots of crazy ppl don't look the part, but I'm taking it as a compliment....especially considering she'd just heard me talk at a meeting and still didn't think I was crazy!).

2. I'm actually comfortable talking about my hospital stuff without freaking out.  Of course I wouldn't walk up to some random person on the street and start talking about it because it's not anyone's business, but in a place where it might be useful (like an AA meeting) it's not a big deal to me anymore.  I'm not terrified of it anymore.  Ok maybe a little terrified but the memories are far removed and I have a support system in place now so i'm not likely to end up back like that again.  Also I'm not ashamed of it anymore because that's not who I am now.  Really, it never was who I am.  It all comes back to that wonderful idea that who I am is separate from what's happened to me.  I actually really enjoyed shocking this woman with my story (which may be taking it too far...but  I think it makes my story more meaningful though...because she's only really known me as my "doing ok" to know that i came from a really crappy place shows there's hope for others too.  And I'm gonna stop talking now or I'm going to get in to a whole big sentimental thing about how that's why AA is so cool cus we see ppl truly transform and that gives so much hope and yada yada yada.  So yeah...stopping here. :)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

You have a way with words

Wow it's been a while since I've written!  My life is actually busy now, which is cool.  I'm starting to have friends so I have stuff to do and places to go.  It's making me happy but leaving me a lot less time for things like blogging.  I do want to tell a quick story that happened to me tonight (ok, ok, my stories are never quick, but i'll try! lol).  It's similar to my last post, but a bit different.

I went to a meeting this afternoon/evening.  The topic was fear of being judged by others and what others are thinking of you.  It turned in to the idea that you can't save your ass and save your face at the same time, which I think might be my new favorite quote.

I wasn't really planning on saying anything, because this is one of the bigger meetings I go to and it's hard to get a word in.  I'm still not great at talking in front of ppl so i'm definitely not one to jump in and fight for a chance to talk.  But as I listened to people talk, I realized I did have something to say.

I jumped in and said first that I'd been amazed by a particular moment.  I'd been on my way to meet up with a group of people that I'd met through AA for a social thing.  I wasn't feeling my best....not bad, just tired and a little "off."  But as I was thinking that I realized that I was totally ok with it because I didn't feel like I had to wear a mask with these people.  It amazed me to realize that I felt totally ok with going to see them and I wasn't worried about trying to prove anything or be someone I wasn't.  That was a totally new feeling for me.

From there I realized that my wearing a mask was all because of fear.  My life was falling apart and I knew it, so I somehow thought if I kept up a good front on the outside, maybe the falling apart stuff wouldn't be so real.  Until of course that denial exploded in my face and I ended u needing AA (and the hospital, but I didn't mention that part).

At that point I realized that there was no more hiding my brokenness, but I was still terrified.  I started to talk to my sponsor about it but every time I was terrified.  Every time I admitted anything I was sure she was going to run away or hate me or freak out or whatever else.  Some of those things seem small now, but they all felt HUGE then.  But every time I told her something she basically responded with "oh, ok."  That was a total shock to me, but it allowed me to keep getting stuff out.  It allowed me to see that I am someone outside of my past...a person that has something to offer.  And now I've had moments where people have told me that I've done something meaningful, and that is just amazing to me because I never thought I could.  Even if it's just talking to them at a meeting or taking time to get to know them.  When people tell me I can do something meaningful, and I see that I have something to offer, I find a confidence that amazes me.  Sometimes afterwards I drive home in shock thinking "where did that come from?"  But I know there is worth inside of me so I'm less afraid of what people are thinking because they don't define my worth.  I'm not to the point of fully not caring what other people think, but I'm learning to speak out for myself.

Ok it was something like that.  Obviously I'm paraphrasing.  It was cool though...the words just flowed and I was able to look around and see people and talk to people rather than just trying to stare at the wall or the ceiling and being totally nervous.  I even noticed a couple of ppl tearing up while I was talking.  After the meeting a bunch of ppl came up to me and thanked me for what I said and said they thought it was really good.  One woman (one of the ones who had been teary) who I've met before (and is very new to AA) told me, "Wow, you really have a way with words."  I laughed out loud when she said that.  She replied with, "No, I'm serious!  You really touched me deeply."  I said sorry, that I knew she was serious, but it was funny to me because usually when I try to speak at a meeting I have great thoughts in my head but my mind goes blank as soon as I see everyone looking at me.  That's actually happened quite a few times that I'll completely forget what I was going to say or even what the topic is.  So it's really amazing to me when the words just flow like they did tonight.  I told her what my sponsor has told me before, that when something needs to be said, god will provide the words.  When I told my sponsor about it afterwards, she said that as I go on it will become easier and more natural to speak like that and just let the words come without being scared.  We'll see.

Anyway, it was really cool to know that what I said touched so many people, and it was great for me to be able to speak all that.  As you may be seeing from my last post, this separating myself from my past and being able to see some worth in myself has been a theme lately.  It's been truly amazing.  I have confidence that's so unbelievable I just can't describe it.  After spending my life being terrified of social situations (and just about everything else), I can now walk in to a group of people with my head held high.  That's something I've NEVER done!  I'm still entirely socially awkward, but there's just a different feeling inside.  The only way that I can explain it is that I feel worth.  I'm not afraid of people (or at least not as afraid) anymore because I have worth too.

I've been talking at almost every meeting I've been to lately, so I guess I have a lot to say.  At yesterday's meeting the topic was the concept of "we" in the 12 steps and that nothing is written as "I" because the fellowship is a key part.  I spoke then too and was able to speak from my heart about seeing similarities in ppl I've met rather than differences, and how amazing it is that I now have ppl who know my quirks and accept me anyway....and ppl I can talk to on a good day or a bad one...and how I'm starting to have real fun again...that I remember, am not embarrassed by, am not pretending, and that I don't wake up sick from the next day.  A lot of ppl thanked me for saying that too, so I guess it was meaningful.

The night before the topic was anger, and I spoke about how anger is a feeling and I used to run away from my feelings or stuff them deep down inside.  But now I understand that the idea isn't to not get angry.  Shit happens and we get angry.  It's just a feeling, and if we aren't getting angry we're not really living, because the fact is there's bad shit in the world and we can't let people walk all over us.  We have to feel our anger, and then decide what to do with it.  The trick is all in how we handle it.

Anyway the point I'm trying to make here (and I know i've gone well beyond quick story! lol) is that the world is starting to make sense to me.  I just feel....different.  I'm starting to feel more alive.  My sponsor told me that once I got through all the stuff from my past with her I'd start to feel a new freedom.  I didn't really believe her then but it seems to be true now.  I don't remember ever feeling this way in my life.  Ever.  I guess I just feel like a valued human being, and that's pretty damn cool.

Thanks for reading.  Not sure if this actually makes sense to anyone but it feels good to express.  Thank you all for being a part of this healing journey of mine.  

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

It's not me

I have a lot I want to say here, but I've been struggling to find the time, energy, and focus to post.  Tonight I just want to say a quick little something, especially because I couldn't get a hold of my sponsor to tell her about this.  I need to get it out somewhere, so I'm glad to have you all. :)

I surprised myself at a meeting tonight.  I shared, and I cried.  I haven't done that in a while.  I've been feeling good.  Surprisingly good.  I've actually been talking people's ears off about how good I feel, because I'm so fucking amazed that I can feel good.  I'm starting to take actual deep breaths.  I didn't know it, but I wasn't taking full breaths because my chest was always tight from anxiety.  I'm starting to see what my shoulders can feel like when they're not so tense it's painful.  These things were all just normal to me.  I didn't know there was another way.

But back to tonight.  The topic was acceptance.  The woman who brought it up was talking about dealing with family and her kids.  Most everyone that spoke also was talking about dealing with kids.  Since I of course don't have kids, I figured I didn't have much to say about it...though EVERYONE has something to say about acceptance.  (I think even non-alkies do, but a huge part of recovery is learning to accept the things you cannot change, as impossibly hard as that is sometimes).  Anyway I had something in the back of my mind, so when there was a bit of a lull at the end I decided to speak on what I've been learning about acceptance.  I've been working through some of my past shit with my sponsor and it's been intense. I've been having to work towards accepting what happened to me, as well as what I did as a result.

I wanted to share it as a bit of "bragging," but I instantly got choked up.  I barely made it through what I was trying to say, and didn't say as much as I'd planned.  But I think what I said is important.  I said that the lesson I've come to in accepting these things is that what happened to me and what I did aren't me.  They're a part of my story, yes, but they're not who I am.  And while I haven't made it to loving myself yet, I'm accepting myself as a decent human being.  I finished by saying, "I just wanted to say that out loud."  And I did.  I'd been thinking it in my head, but it was kind of incredible to hear myself saying it out loud, in front of a group of people.  I am not defined by my past.  It is not my identity.  It's not who I am.  It's not me.  

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

It's going to be ok

When I first started seeing Stupidface I was in a constant state of panic.  My life was out of control.  Between the PTSD and the drinking and the suicidal thoughts I was an absolute wreck.  I did not trust myself to stay alive.  He told me repeatedly that it was going to be ok.  He would say that no matter what happens, you can know that it's going to be ok.

This used to confuse the hell out of me and piss me off so much.  Clearly it wasn't ok.  What could he possibly be talking about?  I was dying inside and he's telling me it's going to be ok?  But lately, it's begun to make sense to me.

Lately I've had these moments where things actually are ok.  I find myself with a group of people (AA meetings) who are actually happy to see me.  I have places I belong.  I have times where I'm not afraid.  In these times, however short they may be, things are ok.  There is peace.

The funny thing is, I'm equally confused by good or bad.  Of course the struggles, the pain, the flashbacks make me want to drink.  I want to be numb.  I want to do anything to be numb.  But today, I finished with my last final and I felt so good.  So good that I wanted to run out and celebrate.  And I realized then that I have no idea how to celebrate like a healthy person.  My good emotions are just as out of control as the bad ones.

Thankfully it was scheduled perfectly so that as soon as I was done with school stuff I could go straight to one of my very favorite meetings.  I haven't been able to go to this meeting all semester because of my class, but last week and tonight I could.  It's a women's meeting and there are many incredible women there that I really feel a connection with.  The topic just so happened to be the addiction to chaos and how to enjoy something good and peaceful rather than turning it into the mess that we're familiar with.  I spoke (which isn't easy for me) and talked about my struggles with not trusting the peace and thinking I must be missing something...and about how I'm afraid to be happy because I'm afraid I'm setting myself up for the misery to be worse later....and about finals and how I was overwhelmed by the excitement feelings and they felt just as uncertain as the bad.  The amazing thing was I just spoke, and I wasn't scared.  I spoke for a lot longer than I normally do.  Usually even if I have more to say I get nervous and forget so I just say one little thing and that's it.  But tonight the words were just there.  I said it all and people listened, laughed (with me, not at me.. lol), nodded, and knew just what I was saying.

Just by saying that, and hearing what others had to say, the feelings went away.  Not all the good left, but the overwhelming stuff that was leading to fear.  I just felt content.  I walked outside and the air felt different....calmer maybe.  I felt a part of the world rather than surrounded by a world that seems menacing.  For that moment, I wasn't afraid.  I drove home with a smile glued to my face.  I really couldn't stop smiling.  Because for right then, everything was ok.  I know I have a lot of hard stuff to deal with, and a big uphill battle, but I understand now what Stupidface was telling me so long ago.  If you stick it out and don't sabotage, the peace will come back.  It will be ok.  And that means that I'm going to be ok.  I'm going to hurt, and I'm going to struggle, but I'm also going to be ok.  I can keep with it, keep taking these baby steps, and I can be ok.  That's amazing.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Shut up brain

I had a good day today.  Really I did.  Now apparently my brain wants to end it by going over details of the past and "figuring out" the why's of it all.  I wish I could get my brain to accept that I'll never know the answer.  There's an endless list of "How could they...?" and "to such a little child!"  I don't get it.  I don't know that it's possible to get.  If I got it it would probably scare me more.  But my brain seems to want to play out these scenes over and over again...wondering why they did it....wanting to know how they could do such horrible things...wanting to know why they don't have any remote sense of conscience.  I was watching a tv show earlier today about prisons.  They interviewed a serial killer and this man said, "I could never hurt a child.  Never.  Children are innocent and defenseless."  A fucking serial killer!  Even someone who's killed multiple people wouldn't do what they did!  (Granted I don't think they would kill people...but who knows).

I just need my brain to shut up now.  Why can't I stop asking the unanswerable questions?  Why do I have to keep seeing/feeling/experiencing this over and over again like suddenly it's all going to make sense.  I KNOW it won't and yet I can't make it stop.  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Friday, May 4, 2012


I've been struggling lately.  I'm not going to go into too much detail as to why, but I haven't been sleeping, I've been really overwhelmed, and it's just felt hard to know which way is up.  The depression has been getting overwhelming, and it's hard to do much to fight any of this.

I went to a meeting tonight.  It's one of the regular ones I've been going to pretty much since I started AA.  It was a decently good meeting.  I got to bring up the topic, ppl had good stuff to say, etc.  At the end, as usual, we all joined hands to say a prayer.  (Which by the way I thought was unbelievably corny and uncomfortable when I first started going to meetings...still do really, but it is what it is).  As ppl started the prayer I realized that I was sandwiched between two of my very favorite people.  My sponsor was on one side, and on the other this guy I've known pretty much since the beginning of IOP.  (He started after me but graduated before me...I needed more...remedial  We've since become good friends, and he's a big part of the reason I go to this meeting every Friday even though it's a long drive for me).  Anyway, as I realized I was sandwiched between these two I suddenly felt this amazing sense of peace.  I forgot all about the prayer and just closed my eyes and drank in the moment of holding the hands of two people I know care about me and what happens to me.  I really can't explain it, but it was this moment of protection.  All was well.  I was ok.  (And this is especially amazing/surprising for me because I'm really not one for touching or hand holding or any of that!)  This all lasted maybe 20 seconds tops, but it was very very real.

Interesting that part of the topic was about how to know what god's will is for you.  In that moment it sure seemed to be god's will that I was right where I was.