Friday, January 31, 2014

Oh the stories we tell...

A while back I went to get my car washed.  Apparently it was a popular afternoon for car washing because there were a lot of people there.  I decided to make use of the time sitting in line by cleaning out/organizing the inside of my car.  I'd already finished the front area, so I was starting to work on the back.  This meant that as I progressed farther back my climbing over the seats was getting more and more awkward.  I started thinking about how ridiculous I must've looked to the guy behind me.

While cleaning I found a half full bottle of pop.  I had no idea how old it was but plenty old enough!  I debated if it would be wrong to dump it out in the parking lot right there.  It seemed like not a big deal, but I knew the person behind me was probably watching and who knows what he might be thinking.  Maybe he's some kind of environmentalist who would want to say something about it (though if that were the case I'd think he'd have more issues with the car wash itself than the half bottle of pop.

Every time the line progressed this guy pulled up right behind me.  This is something that irritates me in any line...whether in a vehicle or on foot.  It makes me feel crowded and rushed, since being a little closer up isn't going to get you there any faster.  When it was finally my turn to put my code in to the machine I had some minor issues figuring out how to do it.  Since I already felt rushed by the guy behind me it was magnified by my frustrations with the machine.

By the time I finally got into, and out of, the car wash, I drove away thinking, "Damn that guy behind me was annoying!"  But then I realized...I didn't even know for sure if the guy was a guy.  I never actually saw him (or her).  I have no idea if s/he was paying any attention to me (probably not...I have no idea what the person in front of me was doing).  It's doubtful that they cared much at all about any of it because they probably had their own thoughts going on.  I doubt s/he was thinking of rushing me either...and had they stayed back farther I probably would've taken that to mean that they were somehow looking down on me as well!  But I had written an entire story about this person that I had never met, spoken to, or even seen!  Imagine how much other judging and assuming I've been doing...

Fast forward to today...I get a call from my sponsor this evening (that I missed) with a short message to call her on her home phone.  She almost never calls me (I'm usually the one to call her...unless i've called and left a message asking her to call), especially if we've already talked that day (which we had, less than an hour prior).  I figured there was some specific reason, but normally she would just say the reason in her if she forgot to tell me something.  I called her back right away when I got the message but she didn't answer.  I started thinking about reasons she might of called, and within minutes I had reached, "Omg somebody died and she didn't want to tell me on voicemail!  Or someone's in the process of dying and she's not answering because she's at the hospital with them!"  Totally denying the lack of logic in her telling me to call her home phone if she was heading out to the hospital....amongst other things.

The logical side of me said that the fact that she'd asked me to call her home phone (something I'm not sure I've ever done, I usually call her cell, meant she was probably having some technical issues with her phone and wanted me to call it so she could test it or something like that.  But my not so logical side had already run away with a long list of ideas, each crazier than the last.  (We're talking thoughts like maybe she thought I'd done something crazy/bad and she wanted me to call her home phone that was set up to record a ignoring the fact that she wouldn't have had the knowledge or the time to set something like that up, that if she thought i'd done something she'd just ask me, and that I hadn't done anything so there'd be nothing to confess!).

I finally did connect with her and the logical part of me was of course correct.  After we'd talked earlier her phone had somehow locked up and she wanted to know if my phone had done something similar or if it was just hers.  Not exactly worth the hour of near panic that ensued after the first attempted call.

I wish I knew how to make my brain stop running away like that.  It's funny because I had been complaining to my sponsor earlier about dealing with a friend's paranoia and how frustrated I was.  (Hers is has many layers and goes super deep to the point that it's taking over every interaction she has...but still).  Anyway it's so frustrating when I know that my fears are 100% illogical but they're there anyway.  Maybe it's because some of what happened to me is 100% illogical.  Maybe it's because I know the kind of crazy stuff that actually takes place out there.  Or maybe it's just because I have a crazy, over-thinking, magnifying mind.  And people wonder why I refuse to watch all the violent, intense crime shows out there now.  This brain of mine does NOT need any new ideas!  I'll stick to my happy little sitcoms thank you!


Can I be grateful for happy little sitcoms, or is that a cop-out?  I really am.  Sometimes tv is just awesome to help me relax and be a distraction.  Especially the show Mom.  It is the most incredible show I've seen in a long time.  I generally laugh so hard i'm practically falling off my couch!  Though you may have to be an alcoholic to really get it.  But to think I almost never saw it at all because it sounded like it was going to be awful, sappy, and obnoxious based on the title.  There's that judging on little to no actual information again!  It's soooo the complete opposite in a totally awesome way! :)

Thursday, January 30, 2014


I'm irritated.  I might be a hypocrite for being irritated, but I am.  Many of the people around me seem to be stuck in that ugly place I used to be.  They're quick to tell me about their problems, but not quick to make an effort towards solving any of them.  They're quick to say how it's not fair, and how no one understands.  They've got a list a mile long of why they can't do this or that.  I'm irritated because they're my friends, but right now they're sucking the life out of me.  Things are pretty positive for me right now.  I'm working through my fears and making big progress in my life.  But my positivity isn't all that strong yet.  I have to guard it carefully, and I've told my friends this.  I'm willing to be there for a friend in need, but I'm not willing to spend time around someone who is always telling me why they're the victim and how life has hurt them.

I feel like a hypocrite because that's where I was not long ago at all.  But I've worked my ass off to get out of there.  Now these same friends tell me they're jealous of me.  When I try to tell them what I did to get from point A to point B I can see them tune out.  The excuses begin.  "Well you could do that because _____."  "I can't do this because ______."  Of course we all have our different struggles, but I didn't get anywhere until I stopped making those excuses and started working for things.

No one could've made me make changes before I was ready.  I get that.  I get that I have to let these friends find their own way.  But that leaves me with two options: 1.) Allow myself to be dragged down by them, or 2.) distance myself from them.  I have a very strong support system, so I know I'll be ok, but of course I don't want things to change with the people close to me.  I've brought them close to me for a reason.

I'm realizing now it's also a struggle because they're acting the way I'm fighting so hard not to act.  And they get the results I used to crave.  (OK still do sometimes crave).  It makes it so freaking hard to want to do things the "right" way.  I spent years telling everyone how broken I am, and getting lots of love and hugs and people telling me how wonderful I am in response.  It felt good, but I was subconsciously telling myself over and over again that I wasn't worth anything more and that I couldn't be anymore.  Also I always ended up feeling empty, because that kind of attention isn't lasting.  We all need it sometimes, but it doesn't make you feel fulfilled for the long terms.  That comes from, as I see it, earning your worth in your own mind.  I've had to prove to myself through hard work that I can be more.  I'm happy with the results but sometimes it's tiring.  When you do more, people expect more from you.  Sometimes I just want to melt into the puddle and join the comparing sob stories game.  But that's not who I am anymore.

A little while back I learned that a woman I really respect has quite the horror story of a past.  But you'd never know from looking at her.  She is strong, beautiful, confident, funny, outspoken, etc.  I was drawn to her from the day I met her as someone I wanted to get to know, and I'm so glad I have.  I've never seen her do the pity party about all the horrible stuff she went through (though she'd have every right to based on the little bit I know).  I've never seen her sit around mopey telling everyone it's not fair what the world did to her.  I don't know how I would've reacted to her if she'd been like that when I'd met her.  I'm sure I would've connected with her, but I don't know if I would've been drawn to her and had the respect for her like I did.  I know when I look at her, and I look at my "mopey friends," I want to be like her.

I know that sometimes in life we "outgrow" our friends.  It doesn't mean we have to leave them, but relationships change.  I don't know if that's what's happening for me now.  What I know is that I'm finding myself mad at my friends.  I'm mad that they don't appear to be coming on this journey with me.  I'm trying to fix them so I can keep them at my side, no matter how much I know they have to do it themselves and I'm probably just pissing them off.  This is a new one for me.  I've never been on this side of it.  It's weird because I was so recently on the broken side, but my friends seem to have forgotten that.  They keep giving me all these reasons why I can heal and they can't.  But somehow they don't see that it was just a few little baby steps that got me on the journey from there to where I am now.  They just see what looks like a big change now.  I was willing to take the step out of bitterness and victimhood and ask for help...and then take that help and run with it and become the person I am now.  I still have a looooong ways to go.  The farther ahead I go, the more I realize I still have to do.  I want to keep moving forward and I really want my friends to be there with me.  I'm afraid I'm instead going to go backwards towards them.

I'm grateful because this is a rather kickass problem to have.  Not only do I have friends but I've also made substantial enough forward progress that this is even an issue, and that people are jealous of me!  Ok I don't exactly want people to be jealous of me, but it's cool because it shows me that I'm where my past self would've only dreamt of.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Could it?

I've been struggling with a lot of fear lately.  It's hard because I'm kind of afraid of everything.  It's not like it used to be, where I was afraid of walking out my front door, afraid of what people might do, afraid of what might be behind every bush or around every corner, etc.  Now it's more a fear of the future.  I think it's because next week I'm starting my final semester of school.  I'm soooo ready to graduate and so tired of being a student, but I'm also comfortable being a student.  I'm scared of entering the working world for real.  I've had plenty of jobs before but they've all been just experience required...working around lots of other people doing the exact same thing.  The whole reason for going to school is to step in to more of a career.  Have a real role somewhere...rather than one of 50+ camp counselors or something.  (Not that there's anything wrong with being a camp counselor...its just different when you're being hired as part of a big group for a seasonal/temporary job).  I guess I've been a nanny where it's been just me...but's just different to be looking at jobs where I'll actually be using this degree that I've been working so hard on.  I worry about if I'll be able to find a job, if I'll be any good at it, if I'll actually like it, etc.  I'd hate to think that all this time and energy has gotten me to something that doesn't work for me.  (Even though I know it's good knowledge that I'll use somehow, even if it's not the way I have planned currently).  I'm also at a place in life where all my friends are getting married and starting families.  My last single hold-outs both just tied the knot, and one is pregnant.  I, on the other hand, still struggle to take care of myself.  I've never had a real relationship with anyone.  I worry that by the time I'm ready to have a family I'll be too old.  I don't want to be having kids at a point in my life where I'll be elderly when they're teenagers!  (Ok I'm not that old yet...but still!).

Anyway...on top of all this fear, I've realized that what I fear as much, if not more, is success.  I'm not sure exactly why, but I've caught myself a lot lately sabotaging I mentioned in an earlier post.  Success has always scared me a bit, because it means more responsibility.  When I first got out of the hospital I was put in an intensive treatment program where I had at least 12 hours of therapy a week.  I had a lot of people looking out for me.  As I got better I dropped those services one by one.  Each time they practically had to kick me out.  Even though I wanted to move on with my life I was scared to not have that giant wrap around safety net.  School is a safety net in a sense.  Also, as I get healthier, people expect more from me.  That's a good thing.  I want to be a functioning, productive member of society.  I don't want people to have to take care of me.  But I miss the days that I could just go get drunk and not give a fuck about anything.  Now I actually care about consequences to things and have very real stuff I could lose...friends, potential jobs, my apartment, etc.  I'm very grateful for all those things...but sometimes they frustrate/scare me because it's more potential loss.  (Yes I realize how crazy this sounds as I write it).

I mentioned these fears at the meeting I went to tonight, and got a lot of really great responses.  One comment that came up multiple times was learning to believe that we're worth success.  That really hit home for me.  Part of the frustration I've had lately is that I'm still being held down by my past, and my child self would be so angry to see me so many years removed from what happened and yet still living so much under the weight of it.  But at the same time, it's hard to believe that I can be anything else.  When you're told day after day for years that you're nothing, lower than dirt, and barely deserving of breathing the same air as those around do you turn that around to believe you can be, or deserve to be, anything different?  It's hard for me to imagine myself as a successful person.  Heck I still struggle to picture myself as an adult.  I know I am the age of an adult, but when I picture myself in my mind I still see a hurting child searching for mommy.  That is a hard image to give up.  It's hard to believe that I could be a successful person all on my own.  So maybe this fear of success is thinking that I must be missing something.  As one girl put it, my life is about finding all the ways that I'm a piece of shit, because that's what I believe about myself, so that I can hide those things from you so you won't see what a piece of shit I really am.  I don't fully believe that about myself anymore, but when I really get down to it I don't think I see myself as having the same worth as other people.  That continues to be a huge struggle for me....though I like to picture all people as souls without their human bodies....because then we truly are equal in worth.

So I'm trying now to picture myself as a successful person...not because of any kind of picture it and it will come type affirmation thing, but just because I want to adjust to that image as a potential reality that could actually be some day.  I'm also going to continue to try to acknowledge my day to day successes. Because of my black and white thinking I get so stuck in, it's hard for me to see myself and anything I'm doing as good unless I'm being told regularly that I'm the best.  Since obviously that doesn't happen often, I see other people around me getting awards for things and just being amazing at things and use that as a reason why I'm not good enough.  (Wow that's a topic for another whole post!  Yikes!).

Anyway, the last thing I learned from this meeting was/is that focusing on fears makes them grow....even if that focus is in trying to get them to go away or in thinking about how irrational they are.  You're still giving in to them by acknowledging them like that.  Instead, the focus has to be on taking action and doing the next right thing.  Most fears come with a built in action plan to get around them.  It's just a matter of staying in the action and keep moving forward, without getting frustrated that it's not enough (like i've been doing lately).  The AA big book describes the process of "trudging the road to happy destiny," and that fits for me right now...trudging.  But continue to focus on all the potential fears makes them harder to deal with.  Also, as another girl pointed out and I am unfortunately already very aware....if I spent even half the time I spend worrying on taking action...I probably could've taken over the world by now!  Or at least made some big changes for the better in my life.  Rather than fearing that I'm not where I should be, I could've made a ton of progress towards getting there.  Unfortunately I usually don't realize that I'm in fear until I've been at it for hours.  My fear doesn't show itself as straight out worry anymore.  Instead it's just avoidance and distraction.  I stare at my to-do list that keeps growing because I'm not doing any of the items, and then I go play a computer game so I don't have to look anymore.  I keep saying I'm going to re-resolve to do better and start picking things off that list, but hours later I catch myself playing games, or laying around watching tv or doing other useless shit.  A little of that is fine, especially when it's planned as a break, but when it's hours where I totally lose myself in it, it's not healthy and I end up feeling way worse afterwards because I'm still buried in unfinished tasks...still stuck.  But at least I've been getting out to meetings, keeping my apartment clean, etc., so there has been some action and progress.  Slow, slow trudging.


I'm grateful for this AA club I go to.  It's just an amazing, accepting group of people who are so kind and caring even when telling me the tough stuff I really need to hear.  Multiple people thanked me for being willing to be vulnerable and talk about this stuff in front of the group, and others mentioned what a big step it is to be able to acknowledge the fear, name it, and admit it/talk about it to others.  And I got soooo much good, kind feedback, it was just amazing.  I'm so so lucky I have places like this one that I can go and be at home, no matter where I'm at in life.  (And others asked about stuff I'd mentioned in another meeting a while back, with genuine concern about how it was going....even after 2 years I'm still amazed by the amount of genuine care and connection that goes on!).

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The great clean-up

Not much going on here...but I'm trying to get back in to the habit of writing regularly.  Also, when there's less going on it's easier to find time to write. :)

This morning was frustrating.  I slept in, and slept through my alarm, so I had to miss my workout.  Sleep and waking up is a big debate thing for me right now.  I know that one of the things that's supposed to help with insomnia is to wake up at the same time every morning.  That actually did work for me for a while, but if I'm too tired I won't wake up to an alarm.  (This morning wasn't even all that early and I still didn't wake up to it).  The other piece to it for me is lately my body has just felt really worn out and run down.  At some point, I need to sleep.  Unfortunately my body doesn't react the way you'd think to not sleeping much.  If I sleep very little (like just a few hours) one night, it's even harder to get to sleep the next night.  Unless I sleep all day or something, it often seems easier to get to sleep when I'm well rested.  I guess it works that way for babies, so maybe it makes sense that it works that way for me too?  I don't know...I used to be more "normal" about it and if I hadn't slept much the previous night I would fall asleep early and sleep well that night.  But yeah...anyway...back to today.

I was really bummed to miss going to the gym.  I probably should've gone for a walk or something but I didn't think of that.  Instead I stayed home and watched football, which turned out to be pretty fun since both of the teams I was cheering for won.  Yay!  While I was watching football I did A LOT of cleaning.  I'm in the midst of a major cleaning project right now.  I always feel like I don't have time to clean or be organized because I'm too busy with school, so I figured while I'm still on break I should clean.  I'm also realizing that I really want to become more of a "grown-up" in my life.  I want to get out of the child searching for help from mommy mode, and embrace the mentality of the adult that I actually am.  I realized that my apartment doesn't look at all like a grown-up lives here.  Frankly, it looks like the grown-ups left town and left the kids home alone just a bit too long!  My goal now is to have a place that looks a bit more put together, that I won't be embarrassed of if people come over (even though the only people that would be coming over are my good friends that I know I don't need to impress), and that will help me on my quest to grown-uphood.  I know for me I need to put myself in an environment that feels like where I want to be, because often, especially when I'm struggling, I will act based on how my environment feels.  If my surroundings are chaotic, I'll feel chaotic and probably won't accomplish much.  This also gives me a project to work on even when I get lazy/panicky/anxious/whatever and don't want to leave my house, so I can't get out of doing stuff! haha

So I cleaned, a lot, and slowly things are coming together.  I actually even vacuumed my closet today!  I've never done that! lol  Usually there's so many piles of crap in there you don't see the floor.  But now everything's in labeled boxes with other stuff like it, and I can actually find things.  Oooooh.  Yay progress!  And now I get to feel accomplished, which is helpful since I've felt like I can't manage much lately.  This week is my last week before school starts...and it really really needs to be productive (beyond just cleaning).  So here's hoping I can start the week off well tomorrow, and carry this momentum forward.  If you're the praying type and would want to say a prayer in that direction I would really appreciate it.  Thanks!


I'm grateful for football.  It made me happy today. :)  I'm also grateful for a gift card for the burger place by my house that a friend sent me for Christmas.  I realized I was hungry and had no food, so I was able to run out for a burger at half time of the 2nd game.  (Hopefully soon I'll have a job so I won't rely so heavily on gift cards...that's another something that the praying types out there could maybe help me with...or just send positive job-getting thoughts my way or something...)

Saturday, January 11, 2014


I need to be honest here.  Today was a bad day.  Really bad.  Unfortunately most of my bad days these days are self created.  My life is pretty good...why do I go out of my way to feel pain?

Here's the quick version of what happened.  I'm off my meds right now because I forgot to fill my prescriptions.  My sponsor thinks even that part was sabotage.  I don't know.  It might have been.  I'm realizing one of my big fears right now is of success, and I've been doing a lot of stuff counter to what I should.  Also for a while there it was looking like I was going to be able to reduce med doses and now it's looking like if anything I'll have to increase.  Very frustrating to me.  But I think the biggest issue for meds is that my pharmacy is on campus, and campus isn't convenient to anything.  It's great for when I'm in school, but right now I'm still on break.  I had planned to go earlier in the week, and genuinely forgot.  As the week went on and I was actually out of meds, it got that much harder to get unstuck.  I've had a lot of fear going on this week related to all the transitions going on in my life...finishing school, looking for work, etc. that I've really just felt like hiding out a lot.

Anyway, the point is, I'm not on most of my meds, which may or may not be the cause of my craziness.  I know at least some of it is in my head, because I felt ok yesterday until I realized that i'd messed up the pharmacy hours and wouldn't be able to get the meds.  It was then that I started feeling super yucky.  But today I felt genuinely just bad...groggy and exhausted.  That's something meds would help with.  I gave in to my exhaustion and laid around for a long time in the morning.  I work every saturday (for now my only day of work), and I have to leave early in the morning to get there.  Well, I laid around until I was too late to go.  Then I decided to try but got stuck in traffic and realized there was no way I was going to make it to work on time.  At this point I was really pissed because even though I'd been dragging my feet and not wanting to go, once I got going I realized that it really was important to me to make it to work...not just for the money but also because I have an emotional connection to the work I'm doing right now and it's important to me.

I'd been considering calling in sick ever since last night, but once I finally did it I was in an odd situation because I was already on the road.  It hit me that I was in the kind of situation that I used to try to purposely create for myself.  Work thought I was home sick.  Friends thought I was at work.  I had a free day with no accountability.  And yes my thoughts went to getting drunk.  I don't know why, except that I'm an alcoholic.  I don't know why i'm feeling so yucky so often lately.  The meds might be part of it but there's just a lot going on in my head right now.  I badly wanted to sneak off to the liquor store and kept thinking how no one would know.  It was a really ugly and scary place for my head to be.  I used to have to call a friend to get me to work so that I would actually go rather than go to the liquor store instead.

I did the right thing and I called my sponsor.  Unfortunately I was in a bad reception spot so we couldn't really talk, but at least I had the chance to say out loud what was going on and what I was thinking.  On the drive home I realized that my god spot (place in the mountains where I feel most spiritual) was on the way.  So I stopped and spent some time talking to my higher power.  It was nice because it super windy, so I could talk (and even scream) out loud without being heard by anyone else. Not to mention there weren't many people out there due to the wind, though I was surprised to still see some hikers!  Anyway, from there I went home and realized I really was feeling sick.  I was having trouble staying in my lane on the highway because I felt so groggy.  By the time I got home I just wanted to lay down, and that's what I've done for most of the day.  Mostly I just felt tired but couldn't sleep, but I did finally sleep a bit and started feeling much better afterwards.

I don't know if this is mental from trying to convince myself I was sick to feel less guilty about missing work...or if it's physical related to the meds...or maybe caused from stress.  Or maybe I really am sick.  I have no idea.  But I do know that I'm feeling really really lousy and still have drinking on the brain.  I don't know if I would really sabotage myself to that extent but the thought is definitely there.  I'm tired of having to struggle so much.  I want to go back to the "freedom" of not having to give a shit.  I know my life is way better because of all the struggles I've put in, but at least a part of me wishes I could go back to when I didn't care...when I had no drive, no goals, no anything.

I really badly need to get out of this yucky mindset.  And fast.  I wish I had any idea how.  You'd think after two years I'd have a clue.


I'm not sure what I'm grateful for right now.  I guess for my god spot, and for the fact that I can think through things much better than I used to be able to.  Misery used to be a 24/7 state for me, and now it's definitely there is still progress there.

Friday, January 10, 2014


This is a story from the AA big book:

"Our behavior is as absurd and incomprehensible with respect to the first drink as that of an individual with a passion, say, for jay-walking. He gets a thrill out of skipping in front of fast-moving vehicles. He enjoys himself for a few years in spite of friendly warnings. Up to this point you would label him as a foolish chap having queer ideas of fun. Luck then deserts him and he is slightly injured several times in succession. You would expect him, if he were normal, to cut it out. Presently he is hit again and this time has a fractured skull. Within a week after leaving the hospital a fast-moving trolley car breaks his arm. He tells you he has decided to stop jay-walking for good, but in a few weeks he breaks both legs."
"On through the years this conduct continues, accompanied by his continual promises to be careful or to keep off the streets altogether. Finally, he can no longer work, his wife gets a divorce and he is held up to ridicule. He tries every known means to get the jaywalking idea out of his head. He shuts himself up in an asylum, hoping to mend his ways. But the day he comes out he races in front of a fire engine, which breaks his back. Such a man would be crazy, wouldn't he?"
"You may think our illustration is too ridiculous. But is it? We, who have been through the wringer, have to admit if we substituted alcoholism or any addiction for jay-walking, the illustration would fit exactly. However intelligent we may have been in other respects, where alcohol has been involved, we have been strangely insane. It's strong language but isn't it true?"
It was the topic for the meeting I went to tonight.  It started as being focused on the insanity we went through while drinking and trying to get sober.  But someone mentioned how he can "jaywalk" in any aspect of his life...which changed the focus a bit.  This concept really clicked for me.  I know how to do better with so many things in my life...but for some reason I continuously go back to the old ways.  Anymore, that doesn't mean drinking (or cutting or any of my other old dangerous addictions).  But there are so many ways I sabotage my own success for a "thrill" I don't really understand.

I have a lot of goals right now.  I want to find a job.  I want to truly clean up my apartment so it looks like a grown-up lives here, not a kid who's been left home alone too long.  I want to start focusing on living my own life, not feeling like a kid still looking for mommy.  I want to stop being an insomniac so I can stop being constantly exhausted during the day.  I want to lose weight and get healthy.  I want to stop being afraid of everything.

I have a lot of great ideas of how to accomplish these goals.  I write to-do lists.  I make schedules.  I make plans to do a little bit each day.  I research skills and strategies.  I get ideas from others.  And I find solutions that work.  And I stick to those solutions for all of a day or two.  I guess it's reverse addict behavior.  Rather than getting stuck on something, I won't give anything a long enough time for it to stick.

Right now it's late, and I should be sleeping.  But instead I'm jaywalking.  I'm breaking all my own rules.  I didn't follow my bedtime routine that I'm trying to do every night to get my mind and body in sleep mode.  I have my computer in my bedroom, on my bed with me (electronics and activity in bed are both supposed to be big no-nos).  I didn't exercise today.  I haven't been following through with waking up at the same time every day to get in to a sleep routine.  It's frustrating because I know the right things to do, I just don't do them.  But it fits with this story.  I know I could feel better, but I don't take the simple actions necessary to do so.  Why?  I have no idea.  I don't know why I was lazy today and didn't go exercise...except that I was tired.  Because I didn't go to bed until super late the night before.  Because I wasn't tired then.  But at some point I have to get out of this cycle and I don't know how.  I don't know how to get myself to follow through on even baby steps.  I end almost every day frustrated by what I was supposed to do and didn't do.  I try to celebrate the little baby steps of progress, but sometimes it's hard to even find those.  I'm really good at making plans and splitting things into itty bitty steps, but for some reason I'm not good at following through on those steps.  Frustrating.

I think it all comes down to a fear of success, which I'm going to get in to in another post.  I'm still really really terrified of doing well in the world.  For that reason I sabotage.  I convince myself to play computer games rather than take the next step on my path.  What sucks the most though?  I take away from my own passions.  I get so excited about things.  But rather than let myself act on the passion I undermine myself.  Whether it's a class, a hobby, or anything else...I know it's what I want to do, and I'm excited about it.  But then I sit down and do something way less fulfilling instead.  Maybe it's a fear of putting my full self in to my passions.  Maybe that means that the true fear is one of failure.  I really don't know.


I'm grateful for the support of people locally and around the world via the wonderful interwebs.  I'm also grateful for online games and tv.  As long as I'm wasting time online, I might as well be having some fun!  And now I'm playing quality games and watching (somewhat) quality tv rather than the stupid daytime shit that's on the channels I get!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


The first step of AA says:

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol -  that our lives had become unmanageable.

My life being unmanageable was easy for me from the moment I walked in the door.  Having just come out of a psych hospital for trying to kill myself made that abundantly clear!  I was not managing my life nor did I have any idea how to.  But the powerless thing was a different issue all together, and it's a sticking point for many people in recovery or looking to get sober.  Since those early days I've had some pretty powerful (no pun intended ;) ) revelations about the whole idea.

I grew up absolutely, 100% powerless.  People took away my power.  Most kids are powerless to some level because they rely on adults to take care of them and meet their needs for them.  But my powerlessness was taken to additional levels.  I remember being held down by groups of adult men so I could be hurt.  That is true powerlessness when you can't move any part of your body...when you know pain is coming and there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop it.  Worse, my mind was being taken over by them.  Every part of my life was controlled by them...whether I got to eat, how much I got to eat, if I was allowed outside that day, who I could talk to, what I could say, etc. etc.  They took all my power away to think for myself and do for myself.  I could only do what fit in to their plans and their desires.

It's important to me as an adult to know I have power.  When I would have flashbacks to those horrible nights as a child, I would have to remind myself again and again that I am an adult now.  I am big now and they can't hurt me.  I have the power to do things like run away, call the police, stay away from them, etc.  I have the power to choose who I spend time with and make decisions for my own life.  I never want to go back to being powerless.  The last thing I want is to be powerless over a substance!

When I heard people at meetings talking about powerlessness and surrender I thought, "You've got to be kidding!"  I'd worked my whole life to show how tough I was, and damnit I was tough.  I am tough.  But yet I'd stopped being able to function long ago.  Life had brought me to my knees.  Before going in to the hospital I would make it to work, but just barely.  I rarely felt good enough to eat in the morning, so I'd just stagger my way to work.  I felt decently good at work so I'd usually manage to eat lunch, my one meal of the day.  As soon as I left work that all-consuming loneliness and misery came back.  It was like I changed in to a whole new person on that drive home.  At work I could pull out that energy from somewhere or another.  I worked with kids and really did like my job, so I wanted to fully be there for them and with them.  I'm not sure I should say it was even keeping up a front, it was just letting that part of me come out.  But that part was only out when others were around.  It was like I morphed on the drive home.  Slowly as the miles ticked off I changed from my work self to this ugly, empty, skeleton of a self.  No matter what I'd planned to do after work, by the time I got home I could barely drag myself to my bed.  If I were lucky I'd get a shower in before pulling out a bottle of something or other and drinking until I passed out...often mixed with a handful of sleeping pills or other such "fun."  I rarely managed to eat dinner.

Nothing about that is how a "normal" person lives.  Really, it's a miracle I managed to survive it and keep my job!  Maybe I didn't want to be powerless over a substance, but was I really showing any power by the way I was living?  I was barely surviving.  The fact that I did survive couldn't have been because of me, because the way I was acting and living could've very easily killed me.  That's about as powerless of an existence as any!

I first learned to understand the concept of powerlessness in terms of being powerless over situations.  I grew up an abused kid.  My head was a mess.  I had a laundry list of mental illnesses, most of which I'll never know if they were caused by my environment or would've been there anyway.  I grew up around ridiculous amounts of alcohol and drugs to the point that I had no idea what a "normal drinker" was.  I was powerless over all of that.  I did absolutely nothing to cause any of those things, and therefore had no power to influence them.  I started drinking when I was 13.  You can argue how much of that was in my control/power.  Was I old enough to know better?  Maybe.  I knew it was illegal, but I also "knew" based on my home life that that's just what you do.  Things get stressful?  Drink.  Something you don't like happens?  Drink.  Things are good?  Drink.  I wish I could say that I saw the negative effects alcohol had on my parents and other family members and chose not to drink, but I didn't.  I followed right in line and started up with them.

I don't know if I had power then.  What I do know is that after more than a decade of relying on alcohol to be able to function, I hadn't built any other coping skills.  I had become an absolute prisoner to it without even realizing it.  Every day after work I said "maybe I won't drink today," but opening a bottle was the very first thing I did when I got home.  I had withdrawals almost the entire time I was in the hospital (though I was in complete denial about what they were) and felt miserable...but as soon as I got out the very first thing I did was went and got drunk.  I swore I'd never drink in the morning.  Soon I was drinking every morning.  I swore I'd never drink except for at home or when out with friends.  Soon I was carrying a coke bottle mixed with vodka with me everywhere I went...including to school, to the library, etc.  I swore I wouldn't drive drunk but I did that too.  Alcohol sure seemed to be winning the power struggle!  Maybe it was more my misery I was powerless over, but even the good times made me want to drink.  Drinking was what I knew.

The revelation came when I realized that all being powerless meant was that I could say, "It's ok."  I don't mean that I was excusing any of my bad decisions and bad behavior.  But it meant that I could accept what had happened, and let go.  I could cease fighting.  Not give up, just cease fighting.  I had fought for years and gotten nowhere.  Being powerless meant that I could stop asking, "What's wrong with me?  Why do I keep doing this?  Why does this keep getting worse?"  I could let go of the "why" and focus on the "What's next?"

This has held true for me again and again.  In one of my most healing journal entries I wrote about how I am powerless over my past.  I told a good friend about this and she was very bothered by it.  She had lived a similar past to mine and to her it was very important to declare power over it.  But for me it was such a beautiful thing to let go of trying to have that power.  Accepting that I am powerless means that I don't have to beat myself up over the things that still affect me.  I don't know why I'm still bothered by things that happened when I was 4.  I don't understand it.  But I am.  Sometimes I'm so bothered by them I can barely function.  Now, I could spend all day trying to figure out why exactly it still bothers me so much.  Or I could accept that I am powerless over what happened to me and the effects of it.  I can accept that regardless of the reasons, the issue is there, and I can decide what I'm going to do next to handle it.  Now I get to save hours and hours of time that would've been spent trying to figure out.  Now I don't have to care why!  That doesn't mean I get out of dealing with it...just that I get out of fighting with it's very existence.

Recently I've been struggling with some huge fears related to social situations.  Again I don't know why I struggle so much with them.  I don't know why it's such an issue for me.  Logically I know they're pretty ridiculous fears, but that doesn't stop them from being there.  So I accept that I'm powerless over the fact that these fears exist.  Then I can stop questioning and decide what I'm going to do next to overcome them.

When you add in the next 2 steps of AA, coming to believe in a higher power that can restore you to sanity, and turning things over to that higher power, it completes the circle.  When these issues come up I don't have to fight them.  I accept that they're there and I say "Higher power, I'm stuck and I don't know what to do with this.  Please help me."  And over time these things go away...and I find the right path to keep moving forward.  But it's a beautiful thing to be able to let go of what used to plague me for hours, days, and even years!  I just let it go out in to the air, out for my higher power to deal with.  Because whether I fight, stress, argue with the universe, etc. something is going to happen one way or the other.  So now I let it go, and do the best I can to keep walking in the right direction.

As odd as it may sound, being powerless has given me so much confidence and taken away so many fears.  I've realized now that the results aren't up to me.  I do the very best that I can do, and leave the rest up to the universe and my higher power.  I don't want to have all the power because that means I have to have all the answers.  I have the power over myself and my decisions, but I have no power over how others react.  For example, I decide how much effort I put forth on a homework assignment.  But I have no real power over what grade I get.  Sometimes I don't even have power over how I react to things...since I react based on all the other factors already mentioned.  But the one thing I know I have power over is the level of effort I put in.  I do my best to make the best decisions I can.  Everything else I let go of and leave up to the universe and my higher power.  Such a simpler life than what I used to live!

I'm not sure if this makes any sense to anyone else or just sounds like lots of circles.  Either way, it's what works for me. :)  I recently heard a speaker say: "I'm not responsible for my disease, but I'm responsible for my recovery."  Basically that sums it all up for me.


I think today I'm grateful for the internet.  It's hard to imagine what I would've done if I'd been born a couple of decades earlier and didn't have this huge wealth of resources and support literally at my fingertips!