Category Archives: Toolbox
Being willing to give up alcohol means doing whatever it takes to stay sober, and being willing to accept the result when some of those things don’t work.
How do you know you’re willing to give up alcohol? You’re taking action.
“Act as if” is one of the first and truest things i learned in recovery.
If you’re sad, act like you’re happy.
If you’re angry, act like you’re calm.
If you’re afraid, act as though you’re brave.
The miracle of this is that, after acting happy, calm and brave long enough, you’ll become happy, calm, and brave.
Of course it’s not that simple… Except it is.
i’m in a crappy mood.
The best way to deal with this is for me to meditate a minimum number of hours on what might be the source of this discomfort and, after penetrating introspection, write a long treatise in which i analyze my thoughts and feelings and float hypothesis as to the possible origins of my malaise and, through a dialectic process and expository reasoning, develop a list of courses of action that i might feasibly take, not forgetting to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each proposal.
Or maybe i just need to go to bed earlier.
Sometimes the easiest solution is in front of your eyes…after you close them.
“Sleeping It Off”: It’s not just for drunks anymore.
i’m a cat person, so it makes sense i have a cat’s life. i’m not very demonstrative, can be aloof, like to be on my own and am not a big fan of going outside. But i need to have a dog’s life.
Sunday was a super sunny in Yeaman, but i didn’t need to go outside so i didn’t. That night, as i lay myself down with my weekly Sunday blues, i understood that, like a dog, i need to go outside at least once a day.
In my drinking days i was able to live inside an alcohol bubble, cut off from the universe. Isolating, however, is dangerous for me because, when i withdraw from the world, i forget i’m part of it. When i’m not a part of humanity but apart from it, i lose touch with reality and, like a shipwreck survivor lost at sea with nothing on the horizon, i lose all sense of perspective.
i need to walk myself, like a dog, to keep myself grounded.
Sorry in advance if i pee on your shoes or hump your leg.
You know that moment when you laugh because you think the person is making a joke but then you can tell from their expression they were dead serious? That’s exactly what happened to me the first time i heard someone use the expression, “Emotional Hangover”.
After that initial social foot in mental mouth, i dutifully kept my “Next you’ll be telling me about the Le Mans birth of your inner child” asides to myself.
Until i got sober. Then i recognized the shaky weakness in my stomach, the fatigue, sadness and headache after an emotional enema for what it was: a hangover. i’ve probably been having them forever, only they were hiding behind the alcohol hangovers.
Fortunately, the cure seems to be the same…early to bed and lots of sleep.
Alcoholics are egomaniacs with an inferiority complex.
This is one of the truest things i’ve heard in or out of AA. i felt like this for decades but was never able to frame it with words. Fortunately, now i’m learning how not to need to.
How to Solve this Conundrum
The size between Large and Small? Balanced.
The trick is acting Right-Sized. As soon as my sponsor used this phrase, i instantly knew what he was talking about. Acting “right-sized” means staying within the norms of the situation and not getting carried under or away.
The easiest way to become “right-sized” is doing esteemable acts or anonymous good deeds. If i do something nice that no one will ever find out about, 1) i fight my ego because doing things with no recognition is humbling and 2) i heal my inferiority complex because i’m helping others.
The size between Large and Small? Right.
A misguided aim to please yourself. The spark that makes you want to shoot yourself in the foot you will use to kick your own ass with.
ITSB and i often ride the same wavelength. In a comment to one of my recent posts, he introduced the theme of triggers, which i’d already been thinking about, as evidenced by the above definition added to the Glossaary.
The other day i walked between two people planted curbside so i could cross the street they thought had too much traffic to brave. i mumbled a polite “Excuse me” as i passed between them, but this apparently was not loud enough because the eldest of the two women looked up at me and barked “Excuse me”. Then again. Before she could do it once more, i looked her in the eye and told her i’d said “Excuse me” and continued on my way.
As i left, i thought about the way i’d dealt with the problem and was satisfied i’d handled it correctly, but that didn’t matter, i couldn’t let it go. For the rest of my commute i kept seeing the woman’s face as she reprimanded me and realized soon enough that i felt uncomfortable, obsessive and anxious. i was triggered.
i’ve always known what triggers are, but not what my triggers are. i decided to write them down as i believe framing things with words makes it easier to recognize them. ITSB already beat me to it by including his list in his comment.
I have a whole set of trigger for “awful thoughts”:
1) Stuck in traffic on my way to work
2) Too much caffeine in my bloodstream
4) Too much running/over training
5) Republicans making their opinions known
and the mother of all triggers:
6) Low blood sugar.
Any of these ring a bell?
i’ve been working on my own list for the last couple of days and here’s what i’ve come up with…
- Other people’s anger
- Being alone
- Euchre on my cell phone/tablet
- Sunday afternoon
- Drunk people in AA meetings
- One on one conversations with people
- Computer problems / broken electronics
The next step is to figure out what it is about these things that trigger me, so i can diffuse them.
i wrote a manual to teach foreign Business Types how to make presentations in English. The compliment i hear most about it is that it’s very practical, that the student can easily apply it to their business life. My point is, i hate writing a post like i did a couple days ago where i just say something like “Give up your problems to God” without concrete, practical tips on how to do that.
To remedy that, here are a couple suggestions on how to “Let Go – Let God”.
1. Repeat “I gave that up to God” Until the Thoughts Stop
This is the mental equivalent of plugging your ears and going “nah nah nah nah nah nah” to drown out someone else’s talking. It’s childish, but it works.
This was the first tool i learned when i entered recovery. My sponsor told me that the basic tenet of sobriety is the simple sentence, “I don’t drink no matter what.” Whenever i caught thoughts about drinking creeping into my mind, i learned to squash them with the mantra, “I don’t drink no matter what.”
Now, the instant i find myself lost in my thoughts of fear, insecurity or worry, i tell myself “I gave that up to God.” As soon as a stress resurfaces, “I gave that up to God.” The moment I — “I give that up to God.”
Find a phrase of your own and use it whenever negative thoughts sneak in…it works!
2. Pack Up Your Worries
i started creating my own mental exercises. My latest one is to imagine myself packing all my concerns about the neighbor, plumbing, internet… into tiny (because they’re such little problems) boxes that i then label and load onto a hot air balloon with “For God” written in huge letters on the side. When the balloon’s basket is full of all my worries, i cut the tether and release the balloon which floats up higher and higher, out of my reach and then out of my sight, until it reaches its creditor (because i give my Higher Power a lot of credit).
Play a part in your sobriety! Be an active non-alcoholic.
To begin, here’s a new entry to my GlossAAry. (Yes, it’s pertinent…there’s a madness to my method!)
Where the pink elephants used to live, and what you have left now they’ve gone.
Right next to Cloud Nine, the Pink Cloud is the feeling of relief you feel when you stop pounding your head against the stone wall of inebriation, convinced you will somehow break through.
Not everyone experiences this high in the first year of sobriety, and usually those that do get it say that it lasts only a few months.
In my previous post, where i discussed how the second year of recovery presents some unique challenges, fellow Recovery Artist Mrs D left a comment saying,
Oh, I want to know more about this .. heading as I am into my second year…
i think in my case, one of the reasons i’m finding it harder to trudge the road of Happy Destiny in Year 2 A.D. (After Drinking) is that i did experience the Pink Cloud. If i remember correctly, it began in my 2nd month of sobriety and lasted about 2 months total. After that, the feelings faded.
Why? Since i was feeling good every day, feeling good became the new norm. If you win the lottery daily, there comes a point when you stop throwing a party over it.
How can we fight this complacency? One of the tools i use is the Gratitude List. Reminding myself of how far i’ve come and the misery i came from is powerful encouragement.
The only other way to really get a taste of the hell i escaped from is to have a taste of the hell i escaped from, and that’s just crazy talk. i’ll take a boring day in Heaven over a rough day in Hell any time.
A few weeks after i began my recovery (over 20 months ago!), i had a problem, freaked out and ‘had to’ take a pill to sleep. i should say here that, oddly enough for someone who is addicted to everything else, pills never did it for me. They took too long and were never strong enough for me to develop an affinity for them. Anyway, immediately after taking the sleeping pill, i realized i should have cleared it with my sponsor first. When i told him about the incident at our next meeting, he was angry that i hadn’t called him and called it a slip.
Why hadn’t i called him? Simple, i didn’t even think about it. Ironically, one of the factors that led up to my suicide attempt was the same thing: i am incapable of asking for help—i perceive it to be a sign of weakness.
Last Sunday, i had a coffee with my sponsor and while discussing all the issues i’ve got going on at the moment, i began to feel better, calmer, more together. As he gave me advice, I started thinking more clearly. i especially understood i should have called him earlier rather than let myself sink lower and lower.
Then, one of the pieces of advice he gave me was to reach out to a friend in recovery in the States. Being told by someone helping me that i needed to ask for help was finally direct enough to drive the message into my brain.
Asking others for help is a tool in the Toolbox.