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.
Indie genius Hip Hip poet Macklemore is addicted to codeine based cough syrup. In 2008, his breakout hit “Otherside” put him on the rap map as he bantered about overcoming his addiction to “easter pink” or “purple rain”.
In October 2012, he released the truly inspiring album The Heist with Ryan Lewis. On it, the song “Starting Over” tells the very personal story of his relapse. In an intimate and eloquent song, he describes the pain of letting down both loved ones and fans he helped in sobriety, and he explains the reasons for his relapse.
Like so many others, I just never thought I would
I never thought I would
Didn’t pick up The Book
Doin’ it by myself
Didn’t turn out that good
i’ve been sober for over 23 months and 4 days as of today. i’m extremely fortunate that i have been able to stay sober so long on my first try.
That i have not relapsed has nothing to do with personal strength or wanting it more or trying harder. If i’ve avoided a relapse it’s because i recognize that i’m weak and will never be able to control my drinking, so i let my Higher Power and others do it for me.
My continued sobriety is also thanks to those in the rooms and here online that have relapsed. In each of their stories i see my own and, as i know i’m no better than they are, their relapses serve to remind me how vulnerable i am. Each harrowing tale, disappearing face and name that evaporates on my blog roll frightens me and forces me to rise up from my laurels and fight like my life depends on it.
Because it does.
For those of you who have relapsed, know that your experiences are not wasted but serve to aid others who suffer. And remember, it is never too late to stop for the last time.
In Year 1 of recovery, i was so excited to be free of the disease that i did not care where i had come from. Now in Year 2, the sheer distance i’ve covered makes it impossible not to notice where i was.
We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
That quote is from the AA Big Book, more specifically The Promises. That quote is testament to the fact that i am not fully recovered, because i still disagree with many of my readers and harbor regrets about my past actions.
Lately, memories come back to me at random moments, like stepping on shards of broken mirrors hidden in the carpet. Memories of how i mistreated friends, hurt those that love me, and even damaged my children cut me to my core.
The further i distance myself from the asshole i was, the more i realize what an asshole i was. It hurts to see how i behaved. That i did not know better does not lessen the pain.
That it means i am far enough removed from that guy to be shocked, however, does take away the sting, if only a little.
One of the first ever revelations i had in AA came when i’d just started in the rooms and was still wallowing in self pity. At the time, i believed the entire universe had nothing better to do than plot against poor, pour me because i was its center. Yes, this was unfair, but then everything that ever happened to me was grossly unfair. Emphasis on ‘gross’.
There’s a stoic motorcycle cowboy with leathers and a long grey ponytail who comes to the meetings and he’s a very quiet guy but when he does decide to speak, it’s golden. The first time i heard him say something, he addressed this idea of “The world is out to get me”.
If my roof is leaking it means two things.
1) There’s a hole in my roof.
2) I haven’t fixed it yet.
All of a sudden, i realized the Universe wasn’t responsible for my problems, i was.
i’m wrapping up Step 6 of the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-Step Program…
Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
My super Sponsor who is older than dirt and wise beyond his years is not too keen on the whole self-flagellation thing and i must say i think anyone in AA who focuses on the negative doesn’t really get the program. It says in the literature that we are all about spiritual progress, not spiritual perfection. Hell, my perfectionism is what got me into trouble in the first place. i placed such high (no pun intended!) demands on myself that i needed alcohol to console me when i inevitably failed to live up to my own unrealistic expectations.
In order to demonstrate how entirely ready i am to remove my defects of character, my sponsor told me to write a list of what i was like when i drank and what i’m like sober so that i can have black & white evidence of how i’ve already started removing my defects of character and to encourage me to keep heading down this path.
i also decided to look at my Step 1 list again. In Step 1 (“We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable”), i wrote down all of the ways in which my life had become unmanageable and i thought now would be a good time to see how far i’d grown.
In conclusion, i’m far from perfect but i’m better off than i was and everyday sees me stronger than the day before. i’m definitely looking up!
In a meeting this morning, someone shared that they were the youngest of 7 children and that two of this person’s sisters were molested sexually, became depressed, and committed suicide when the speaker was 16. The molester? He was the speaker’s older brother.
When hard times come (and they will come, they come to everybody), on a piece of paper write down all the crappy things you are experiencing. It’s OK to use several pieces of paper, if necessary. Reread the list. Losers will see a list of excuses. Winners will see a list of challenges.
You cannot choose what happens to you. You can choose to be a Winner or a Loser.
When is a reason not a reason? When it’s an excuse.
i am not totally insane. When i am angry, i have a reason to be angry. When i am sad, it’s because i have a reason to be. Then again, when i went on a binge, i always had a reason to as well.
i would wager that most if not all mass murders, rapists and serial killers have a reason to explain away their actions. i know for a fact that Hitler, Pol Pot and Ben Laden had reasons to justify their atrocities.
Reasons, however, are not “get out of jail free” cards. Having a reason, obviously, doesn’t make you right or mean you are doing the right thing.
The next time you find you have a reason to drink, to yell, to pout, to scream, to run away and hide, substitute “excuse” for the word “reason” and see if that makes any sense.
Sometimes, doing the right thing means ignoring the reasons to do the opposite.
The other night i was doing my Gratitude List in bed. At the top of the list, i always put “Sobriety” to remind myself that it’s thanks to my sobriety that i have other things to be grateful for.
Looking back on my day, it didn’t take me long to find that i was grateful for a chat i had with my 17-year-old. It wasn’t so much the talk about his life and friends that i appreciated—it was the way, in passing (he’s 17, everything he does is in passing!), he thanked me for listening.
When i put on my Gratitude List that i was grateful for “the desire to listen to loved ones more closely”, i asked myself why it was that i didn’t do that more in the past.
The answer came to me immediately: It was because i didn’t think i deserved my kids.
Hell, back then i didn’t think i deserved music. i remember moments in the evening when i thought i should put on some tunes before deciding, “Nah, i’m not good enough for music.” If my self-esteem was that low, you can see why i hated myself as a father.
Sobriety hasn’t convinced me that i’m a good father but, along with letting me appreciate music again, it has showed me that my kids deserve a better father and sobriety has set me on the path to that place.
i always forget all the magic that hides inside the program.
For the past couple of weeks, i’ve been feeling a little on edge and those dreaded symptoms of poor poor me have been washing over me. Fortunately, i’ve been with the program long enough to know that these are symptoms and the cure is to turn up the frequency on my meetings.
So last week i went to a meeting i haven’t hit for months. They read from Living Sober and the chapter the speaker “happened” to chose from that night was about self-pity. Because, you see, there are no accidents in my program. Coincidence just means my Higher Power has been busy working in my life.
The lesson i needed to learn, the reason i attended that meeting, was to understand that when i begin to feel sorry for myself, i have to remember all that is right in my life. All that i’m taking for granted.
i will add to my Gratitude List every day, being sure to include things i am grateful for that i would not have had if i was still drinking.
Suddenly i realize i’m more blessed than i have ever been.
When i did my 4th Step, which i touch on here, my sponsor told me something he’d heard in the rooms.
Alcoholics are egomaniacs with an inferiority complex.
i could very much relate to this, probably because i am an alcoholic.
One of the recurring issues that came up as i was sharing my defaults was self hatred. i hate myself and when that ball starts rolling, a vicious circle begins.
- i want to escape myself, but i can’t unless
- i get drunk and then at least i don’t hate myself so much until
- i wake up with a hangover and feel physically ill and then
- A few days later, i get spiritually ill and begin to hate myself so
- i want to escape myself but i can’t unless
- i get drunk and then…
Obviously, one of the keys to staying sober is breaking the cycle. But i have no idea how to be compassionate with myself. Here’s a thought i had during our discussion.
If you don’t know how to be compassionate with yourself, practice on others.
i’m often very impatient and frustrated with people and the world in general. “People suck” is kind of my motto. In the rooms, a guy once said, jokingly, “It’s like everyone in the city thinks they’re as important as I am!”
Today i got the answer. While i was in a waiting room, i caught myself getting nervous, tense, impatient and judgmental. i knew i had to practice compassion and tried to figure out how. Then it came to me.
i admire that person’s _________________.
Every time a person made me nervous, i made myself figure out a compliment with which to fill that blank.
For example, an elderly woman was in a foul mood and muttering insults under her breath to everyone in the office. For her, i thought, “i admire your inner strength.” Another man was very impatient and tense. He was constantly asking people what time their appointment was. i thought long and hard and came up with, “i admire your ability to talk to strangers.”
i know you guys are less messed up than i am, but think of the above exercise as a game the next time you’re standing in line at the supermarket. It’ll help pass the time.