Do i love myself?
As an infant, i was a playmate to myself.
Through puberty, i was a stranger to myself and, as i’d been taught never to talk to strangers, i felt very alone and alienated.
Then, i took up the bottle and got to know myself a little better.
When i was drinking i had a passionate, love-hate relationship with myself. i was like Sid & Nancy where i rocked both roles–enabling my own dysfunction with heartfelt loathing.
Towards the end of my alcoholism, i divorced myself in a very acrimonious and destructive trial. As i had to live with myself afterwards, there was a lot of blame and animosity.
Eventually, this led to attempted murder when i tried to kill my other half by killing myself.
Now i’ve passed the reconciliation phase and have been making up to myself.
Do i love myself? Hard to say.
i do admire myself and i’m better at listening to myself, which means i can live with myself again. And every day that gets a little easier.
What about you? Care to share your ‘personal’ relationship?
When i was 25 years old, i tried to become an alcoholic.
During a period that lasted a week, i woke up, showered, dressed for work and sat in the recliner in my living room while i drank two glasses of wine with a purpose. And by “with a purpose” i mean that i did it even if i didn’t want to and i did it for a specific reason.
i forced myself to gulp wine like medicine (or poison) before driving to work because i wanted to be a real alcoholic.
Some alcoholics cannot live without alcohol, they get the DT’s if they don’t imbibe and can drink almost constantly and not get overly drunk. i
was am not this kind of alcoholic. When i was active in my alcoholism, i could go several days, even up to a week, without a drink. i did not wake up with cravings, i did not eat hand soap at work or hide bottles in the bathroom.
But once i had one glass, i would not stop until i was physically unable to have another.
My ‘problem’ was that i didn’t think binge drinkers qualified as alcoholics and i desperately (and ‘desperately’ is really the perfect word here) wanted to become one.
Why? Simple. i hated who i was and i hated my life and i wanted something to change. Anything to change. Change for the worse was still a change. i hoped to become a skid row bum with a red nose living in my clothes and sleeping on benches because at least that was different than what i was living at the moment.
The good news is this story has a happy ending. i learned that binge drinkers are alkies like the rest and found a way out of my hell. The bad news is, it took me 23 more years of suffering to get there.
- Wake up in the morning.
- Realize i’m alive.
- Feel sad about that fact.
- Sit up, put my feet on the floor, my elbows on my knees, my face in my hands and wonder how it ever got this hard.
- Wait for the courage to rise.
This was my daily routine for so many years it’s embarrassing. Consistently, the first thoughts that crept into my waking mind were like roaches: gross, depressing and impossible to get rid of.
Since becoming sober, i wake up in a neutral mood. Usually, my first thought is a simple question, “Do i work today?” If the answer is ‘No’, i feel good. If the answer is ‘yes’, i don’t feel bad.
Last Saturday, i was having lunch with some AAers (and that victory is a whole ‘nother post) after a meeting and i mentioned this crap to a friend. He told me that his therapist told him that the first thought of the day is great way to judge where your head’s at. (FWIW, the friend’s first thought was “How do I get out of my marriage”!–he’s now divorced.)
So, this is my challenge for you. Over the next couple days, try to capture your first thought of the morning. Take your mental temperature first thing when you wake up, and share it here with us if you can!
When i was abusing alcohol, i often felt i’d earned the right to drink.
If something good happened, i got to drink to it and if something bad happened, i had to drink through it.
Now, i’ve lost the right to drink but have earned the right to be happy.
i came out ahead, because i’m finally getting what i deserve.
Living in Yeaman as i do, one thing i know a lot about is learning a foreign language. For the longest time, sobriety was a foreign language to me.
Becoming fluent in Yeaman-ese required several steps.
- i had to learn that the mistakes i was making were mistakes. If i didn’t know i was saying something wrong, i couldn’t learn to say it right.
- After learning the correct way to say it, i needed someone to correct me when i messed up. When the error was pointed out to me, i was able to correct myself.
- i would catch myself saying it, after the fact. i was able to recognize the problem myself and correct it on my own.
- Soon, i could catch myself before i said the mistake. The words were in my mouth but i could stop them and fix them before i spoke.
- As this process came more and more naturally, i started using correct language spontaneously.
Looking over this process, i see it’s the same for breaking the bad habits i learned in my alcoholism.
At the beginning of my recovery, i had to learn that my reflexes and thought patterns were faulty and i needed other, healthier people to show me the correct behaviors. Then i got to the point where i would blow up at someone or berate myself and realize, after doing it, that i had made a mistake.
Currently, i’m at step 4 on the list above. The negative emotions and thoughts erupt and i recognize them before i act out and i’m capable of calming myself down. Eventually i may get to the point where i’m totally zen and don’t feel those feelings anymore, but you know me. Plus, recovery is a process and it’s not about the getting there it’s about the journey.
What about you? Have you noticed the same patterns? Where are you on the scale in getting past your alco-habits?
i don’t feel like writing.
Back in my drinking days, i used to say my life was a series of circles, like a dartboard, or a still pond after a stone had been dropped into it.
The smallest, innermost circle–the bull’s eye, if you will–represented my basic needs. Eating, sleeping, evacuating… The next circle included things like my children, my family, my job… The following ring was for my passions, seeing movies and blogging, for example.
Whenever my drinking got real bad, i withdrew into the middle of my life and ate and slept and evacuated my bowels but abandoned everything else to the ravages of my disease. i could no longer be a good father, spouse or employee, and often gave up on my blogs.
Currently, i and loved ones are going through a tough period, one filled with a lot of stress and pain and i find myself tempted to withdraw again. To hide from the world. But i know how devastating this thought pattern can be and the dark places it can lead me.
So i’m asking you to please send me and my family good, supportive thoughts (or prayers, if that’s the way you roll) and to understand if my posts here are less frequent and / or are of poorer quality.
Thanks for reading. Keep coming back.
Today, i read about a pill that cures alcoholism. Well, not exactly “cures” it, but helps at-risk drinkers reduce their alcohol consumption by decreasing the positive effects of alcohol on the brain.
Like many things, this got me thinking.
Imagine there’s a pill that would magically allow me to drink like a normal person. Would i take it and drink again?
The answer is, i hope not.
It was never about the alcohol for me. i drank like i did everything else: to fill a hole, not realizing i was a bottomless pit. Doing everything compulsively to reach an unreachable goal made me miserable, so then i drank to kill that too.
Fortunately, my sickness led me to recovery, and in recovery i have learned how to make myself happier than i ever was drinking. Turns out my alcoholism forced me into a place where i either had to learn to be happy or die. Ironically, my disease was the cure to my life’s ills.
So, no magic pill for me. i don’t need alcohol to be happy and i don’t need a pill to be happy, either.
Sobriety alone is good enough.
What about you? Could you be tempted by a pill that would possibly reduce your alcohol intake?
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.
In my last couple of posts i talked about how well i’m doing and i’m doing pretty damn well, thank you. Now, this does not mean i intend to rest on my laurels our even find out what a laurel is, far from it.
As someone fighting to remain brutally honest with myself, i know there are still several areas of my life that need work. Like it says in the Big Book, we claim spiritual progress, not spiritual perfection.
Here, then, are my rooms for improvement.
- Procrastination. i have made great strides in that now i check my mailbox every day and balance my bank account every evening (during my drinking days, i was so afraid of both of these that i ruined my finances, among other things). Still, the book i promised to send Celeste E Hall has been sitting on my dresser for months, and i still put off…
- Cleaning. My improvement here its noticeable because i now make my bed daily and wash dishes before i go to bed (usually), and i actually don’t mind doing my laundry and ironing every Sunday evening. But i’m supposed to clean the bathroom weekly and vacuum at least once a week and that’s less than regular.
- Comparing. My biggest personality defect of the moment. At work i’m unable to go a full day without worrying i’ve been given more work than my colleagues or that the boss prefers them. It really does take some of the fun out of my work day, and leads to the Poor Me syndrome.
Fortunately, i’m not beating myself up over these things, but i’m hoping to put these in my past and find out what my next set of challenges is.
What about you? Care to share any signs of improvement in your recovery or areas you’d like to continue to to improve? Leave a comment, we’d sure like to hear what’s going on with you!
Years ago, when i was still drinking, on a Friday night much like tonight, my kids and i were in the living room watching TV. Suddenly and without the slightest warning, a loud crashing noise, like a body falling from a hiding place, tumbled out of the bathroom. We all looked at each other, unsure. We were the only people in the apartment.
i ran to the bathroom to find a shelf my father had hung months before over the door was now on the floor. The paint cans it had once held had opened during the fall and vomitted their oily white lacquer all over the blue walls.
i stood there in a daze for the longest time, just staring at the devastation, incapable of understanding. Here was a disaster that was in no way my fault. It was not the result of a binge and i wasn’t even the one who’d placed the shelf. A bad thing happened that i could not have foreseen or prevented no matter what i’d done.
This event crystalized a general apprehension i’d always felt vaguely lurking in the dark places of my mind. Except now i had a word for it. The Shelf of Damocles was the term i assigned to all of the bad things that were waiting to besiege me when i least suspected. i feared the shelf and the omnipresent threat it represented.
Last week, after i noticed i’d stopped waking up suicidal, i also realized the Shelf of Damocles no longer hung over my head. Yes, of course bad things will continue to happen to me for no reason– i have not yet mastered control of the universe (though i haven’t given up trying). But i’m not afraid of bad luck anymore.
Because there is no problem i can have that sobriety cannot solve .