Sober since April 6, 2006
Sunday, April 30, 2006
We read the following passages from Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions in a meeting Saturday morning, and I couldn't help but see myself in it. The first paragraph seems to describe ALL alcoholics. The second and third paragraphs describe me especially:
Alcoholics especially should be able to see that instinct run wild in themselves is the underlying cause of their destructive drinking. We have drunk to drown feelings of fear, frustration, and depression. We have drunk to escape the guilt of passions, and then have drunk again to make more passions possible. We have drunk for vainglory -- that we might the more enjoy foolish dreams of pomp and power. This perverse soul-sickness is not pleasant to look upon. Instincts on rampage balk at investigation. The minute we make a serious attempt to probe them, we are liable to suffer severe reactions.
If temperamentally we are on the depressive side, we are apt to be swamped with guilt and self-loathing. We wallow in this messy bog, often getting a misshapen and painful pleasure out of it. As we morbidly pursue this melancholy activity, we may sink to such a point of despair that nothing but oblivion looks possible as a solution. Here, of course, we have lost all perspective, and therefore all genuine humility. For this is pride in reverse ... it is the very process by which the depressive has so often been led to the bottle and extinction (p. 44-45).
But it is from our twisted relations with family, friends, and society at large that many of us have suffered the most. We have been especially stupid and stubborn about them. The primary fact that we fail to recognize is our total inability to form a true partnership with another human being. Our egomania digs two disastrous pitfalls. Either we insist upon dominating the people we know, or we depend upon them far too much. If we lean too heavily on people, they will sooner or later fail us, for they are human, too, and cannot possibly meet our incessant demands. In this way our insecurity grows and festers. When we habitually try to manipulate others to our own willful desires, they revolt, and resist us heavily. Then we develop hurt feelings, a sense of persecution, and a desire to retaliate. As we redouble our efforts at control, and continue to fail, our suffering becomes acute and constant. We have not once sought to be one in a family, to be a friend among friends, to be a worker among workers, to be a useful member of society, Always we tried to struggle to the top of the heap, or to hide underneath it. This self-centered behavior blocked a partnership relation with any one of those about us. Of true brotherhood we had small comprehension (p. 53).
"Instinct run wild" (first paragraph) is precisely what causes alcoholics to drink. Our instinctive response to stress is to seek the numbing shelter of alcohol. When I allow my instinct to "run wild", alcohol is the first thing that pops into my head. It's my instinctive answer to every problem: drink myself numb, and maybe the problem will go away. (In truth, drinking only makes problems worse! But the instinct to drink is still the same, regardless of knowing the truth.)
In reference to the second paragraph, I definitely lean toward the depressive end of the scale. In fact, I probably tip the scale. I'm constantly "swamped with guilt and self-loathing". I often find myself under the mindset where "nothing but oblivion looks possible as a solution". Regardless of how happy I am at any given time, my perspective always manages to turn negative and I become overwhelmed with cynicism. My knee-jerk first reaction to adversity is to give up and drink. Since I can't drink, I think about dying if I'm really depressed, or I'll just want to curl up in a cave somewhere and hide for forever. I can't help it -- that's my first reaction.
I perceive everything as being my fault. Misunderstanding? My fault. Relationship turns sour? My fault. Bump into someone's shopping cart at a grocery store aisle intersection? My fault. Rising gas prices? My fault. Global Warming? My bad. Ozone depletion? Oops -- I shouldn't have eaten that second burrito at lunch ...
Some people say that alcoholism is "a disease of perception", because it causes you to interpret everything around you in a negative light. I could have a great conversation with someone, but walk away thinking that I've made a fool of myself. I could write an amazing blog entry, but sincerely believe it to be utter crap. I could be a good person with high potential, but I perceive myself to be a bad person who is doomed to fail.
In terms of relationships (third paragraph), my biggest pitfall is relying on others excessively. I feel so insecure about myself that I end up relying on the assurance of others to gauge my own worth. To make matters more complicated, I don't believe their opinions anyway -- unless they're negative. I believe every negative thing said about me: every criticism, every insult, every thrashing -- because it reinforces what I already believe: I'm a worthless human being. So why do I rely on other people's opinions anyway, since I'll only believe the negative opinions? I have no idea. None of this makes any sense whatsoever ...
Regardless, "This self-centered behavior blocked a partnership relation with any one of those about us. Of true brotherhood we had small comprehension." My own self-centered behavior makes it impossible for me to have healthy relationships. My limited understanding of healthy relationships makes things more difficult -- even for forming basic friendships.
I have very few friends -- and they are all people that I met six to ten years ago and rarely talk to. I have met literally thousands of people within the past five years. But I have formed basic friendships with none of them. I wonder why?
"The primary fact that we fail to recognize is our total inability to form a true partnership with another human being." I insist on being the center of attention. I require support, but I can't be relied upon to provide similar support. When that causes a problem, I either drink to escape the problem, or I manipulate the issue in an attempt to clear myself of wrongdoing.
I don't even know how to reciprocate appropriately. Even when I genuinely try to reciprocate -- I'm always waaaay off base. It's either too little, too much, or the wrong kind, at the wrong time. I'll do my best to find whatever works and reciprocate with that, even if it's something unhealthy that harms myself in the process. The natural working order of a healthy relationship is completely foreign to me.
So it's no wonder that I find myself alone. I have nothing to offer anyone aside from needy dependence and ultimate disappointment.
Why would anyone desire friendship with such a socially defective individual? I'd better learn to enjoy being alone.
Saturday, April 29, 2006
Friday, April 28, 2006
Feeling so lonely today. It's difficult to adjust when you spent every hour of every day for over a year chatting with someone who has now blocked you from chat, and whose formerly warm emails are now stiffened with the cold formality normally reserved for strangers. It's difficult to accept the new "distance" when you're accustomed to finishing each other's sentences and being the best of buddies. But that's just how things go.
Maybe I'm just being too sensitive. That kind of stuff happens to everyone.
But I still miss him. I miss being friends, playing games, joking around, and having fun.
It's odd how things turn out. I keep telling myself, "It's for the best" and "He's happier this way." That helps -- it really does.
But sometimes I start wondering if he misses me too, or if he even thinks about me. It shouldn't matter. It's a silly thing to care about anyway. But for some reason, it matters sometimes.
It's just another thing to find peace with. At least it isn't anything major -- like dealing with death/illness of a loved one. But sometimes, it really feels like a death ... a death that I caused.
Why do emotions have to be so incredibly complicated?
I first came across the Office Linebacker years ago. It was a superbowl commercial. Searching Google videos, I was unable to find the original commercial -- but I found a series of long ads! I think they're hilarious. Hope you like them:
[Terry Tate: The Office Linebacker]
[Going on Vacation]
[Office Athlete of the Century]
Others may be art glass of rainbow hue;
I choose to be a windowpane
For the sun to shine through.
A clear pane,
A clear pane is what I would be
Unconcerned with temperament
I would have Love shine through me
So that my friends would say
Not, "What a lovely pane of glass,"
But, "What a lovely day!"
(What a great goal to have!)
Thursday, April 27, 2006
In the following Google video, two students at the University of Michigan dressed up as Pac-Man and a Ghost respectively, and ran through the UGL (the Undergraduate Library) and the Fishbowl (a huge computer lab on Central campus) during finals week. Pac-Man screams in horror as the Ghost chases him yelling "Waka Waka Waka."
I wish I had done something THAT crazy in college, hahaha!
[Click to see video] or click Play below:
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
As children bring thier broken toys
With tears for us to mend,
I brought my broken dreams to God
Because He was my friend.
But instead of leaving Him
In peace to work alone,
I hung around and tried to help
With ways that were my own.
At last I snatched them back and cried,
"How can you be so slow?"
"My child," He said, "What could I do?
You never let them go."
I would have talked less and listened more. I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded.
I would have eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.
I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth. I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed. I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.
I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains. I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and more while watching life. I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.
I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.
I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.
Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle. When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, "Later. Now go get washed up for dinner."
There would have been more "I love you's".. more "I'm sorry's"... but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute...look at it and really see it...live it...and never give it back.
Stop sweating the small stuff. Don't worry about who doesn't like you, who has more, or who's doing what. Instead, let's cherish the relationships we have with those who Do love us. Let's think about what God HAS blessed us with.
And what we are doing each day to promote ourselves mentally, physically, emotionally, as well as spiritually. Life is too short to let it pass you by. We only have one shot at this and then it's gone.
In memory of Erma Bombeck. (Note: Erma Bombeck needed an organ transplant, and even though she could have been moved to the head of the waiting list, due to her prominence and wealth [like Mickey Mantle], she refused to do such, and subsequently, died from organ failure.)
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Alcoholism is a devastating disease. It doesn't just affect the alcoholic: It affects everyone around the alcoholic.
If you have an alcoholic family member or friend, chances are, you have been occasionally hurt or confused by their actions. The abuse is very real, it's painful, it leaves scars, and it boggles the mind. Some people blame the alcoholic. Some blame alcohol itself. Others blame themselves.
Regardless of blame, the most important thing for you to realize is that you didn't cause their alcoholism, you cannot control it, and you cannot cure it. You are not at fault in ANY way.
Also remember: You are not alone.
There is a wealth of support groups and information available to help you. Here are a few resources that can help you to find understanding and healing:
Why Do I Need Help? He's the Alcoholic!
Information for Friends and Families -- More Articles
Sober Recovery Forums -- "Family and Friends" -- This is a VERY good forum. Fast-moving, lots of stories, lots of support, great advice given here. You can join and ask questions/offer support there yourself.
A huge long list of helpful links ...
Please check out these resources -- even if you don't feel like you need help -- because you most likely DO need help but don't realize it yet.
You might just find answers to your most mind-boggling questions, and most importantly, find hope and healing for your OWN life.
Monday, April 24, 2006
Are you sober, but feeling crazier now than you did when you were drinking? You're not alone.
You may be going through Post Acute Withdrawal (PAW). It is estimated that 75-95% of recovering alcoholics experience PAW in varying degrees of severity. Some hardly notice it, while others find it almost debilitating.
These are the primary symptoms:
1. Inability to think clearly
2. Memory problems
3. Emotional overreactions or numbness
4. Sleep disturbances
5. Physical coordination problems
6. Stress sensitivity
More descriptive symptoms:
Lack of confidence.
Denial (It wasn't really that bad or I can handle it now).
Lack of commitment to a support system.
Trying to change others before they are ready.
Compulsive behavior (becoming compulsive and out of balance in another area or your life).
Impulsive behavior (acting before you think things through or outbursts).
"I don't care," attitude.
Controlled drinking (trying to limit or control use).
Loss of control (back to original state of consumption).
The following websites have some excellent information about PAW:
For a quick explanation, click here.
For a thorough explanation, click here.
Sometimes, it just helps to know that you're not going completely insane ...
Sunday, April 23, 2006
Your partner wants you to realize your dreams and will do anything to help achieve them.
They are self-sufficient and complete human beings. If not, then you must neglect part of yourself in some way to compensate for their deficiency.
They take responsibility for their own happiness. It is not your job.
They don't use negative tactics for getting their own way or dominating you. Criticism, put-downs, guilt, shame, intolerance, neglect, combativeness, aggression, and threat; the list goes on. Silence can be a negative tactic, if there is communication that needs to take place, and so can defensiveness.
When they speak to you, it is always with love, acceptance and approval.
They support and respect your ideas, beliefs and wishes no matter how different from their own.
Your self-esteem improves when you are together.
Your circle of friends grows.
They do little things to please you.
When something bothers you, they are truly concerned.
They help resolve problems.
They help you find time for yourself. Without this you will never grow.
They share in responsibilities, even with things that are unpleasant or mundane.
Your time is just as valuable as theirs.
They give you freedom to try new things, take chances and to make mistakes. Human beings are constantly evolving and are not meant to be caged physically, emotionally or psychologically.
In short, they provide the security, love and nurturing that is required for you to soar where life itself is wonderful and the relationships are an added bonus. Because you are willing to do the same for them, the relationship will continue to scale new heights while love, honor and respect grows deeper and broader.
"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is."
Saturday, April 22, 2006
"You wouldn't worry so much about what people really thought of you if you knew just how seldom they actually do."
Just attended a women's meeting this morning, and one of the topics discussed was the tendancy to worry about what other people think of us. It was surprising (and comforting) to hear so many women accurately describe the insanity that has been going on in my head lately:
"They must think I'm such an awful, terrible monster ... they're probably right."
"They must talk about me and laugh at how stupid I am."
"They probably all think that I'm a hopeless loser who's going to end up in a gutter somewhere. They'd just LOVE to walk by so they could laugh and throw rocks at me."
"They've probably made a voodoo doll just for me so they can torture it until it falls apart. Then they'll torture the parts ..."
But the fact is, "THEY" (whoever that is) are most likely not thinking of you at all. That's a hard concept to grasp, especially when you look back on your past and all you can think about is what you did and how it affected others.
"They" have been hurt by your past actions and don't believe your intentions for improvement. So you start to identify yourself by what you DID, not who you ARE and who you are trying to BECOME. And you slip into this state of near-paranoia, developing increasingly irrational judgments that "They" must have against you.
Soon it's not about what "They" have against you -- it's about what "Everyone" has against you. You feel like you're not the same as everyone else. You feel you've been rejected from the entire world, and your only source of comfort is isolation. You feel that you're different, that you're defective, that you're a disease, and that you need to be quarantined away from everyone else.
So you isolate.
Unfortunately, isolation only serves to fuel these irrational feelings about yourself and others. And for the alcoholic, the combination of isolation and obsession is a death sentence to drink again.
These irrational feelings have been addressed in many of my own blog entries. I've been struggling with them for a long time.
So ya know what? Screw it. I'm going to stop caring about what people think of me and remember that they probably never actually think of me anyway. It is so egotistical to assume that I've been sufficiently influential as to cause others to hate me obsessively -- as if they don't have better things to do than relive my own pain. How completely absurd!
And to everyone else out there who shares similar struggles, I hope you find a way through them. You may not think much of yourself, but WHO YOU ARE is not what you DID. And you ARE a person who has a unique light and presence to share with the world. Please don't withold your unique gift from the world, especially out of fear for what "They" think. Chances are, your assumptions are wrong anyway.
"Here is a test to find out whether your mission in life is complete. If you're alive, it isn't."
Came across this quote on a bad day. I was wishing my "mission" (my life) could be over -- or that it had never started in the first place.
Thing is, none of us are here for ourselves. We're here because God put each of us here with our own unique purposes. Sometimes, finding our purpose seems like a purpose in itself. Maybe we won't even know our purpose until our lives are over. Does anyone ever find their own purpose?
Either way, I am where I am, with what I have, with who I have because God arranged it that way -- for a purpose. As long as I'm alive, my mission isn't finished. Although I can't imagine adequately fulfilling even a simple and easy purpose, it's still God's purpose and not mine. The mission isn't mine and it never will be. It's not about being comfortable -- it's about being useful.
At the moment we are trying to put our lives in order. But this is not an end in itself. Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us.
Comfort will follow eventually if we just "keep doing the next right thing".
Friday, April 21, 2006
Have you ever wondered what would happen if Microsoft had designed the package for the iPod? Well, these people did -- and made a funny video to show it off!
[Click Here to See Google Video]
While on the subject of Microsoft packaging, here's an hilarious adaptation of the box for Microsoft Word (can't remember where I found it). This is the original package for comparison ...
And the adaptation:
Sorry, too funny -- couldn't resist ...
So did this guy. You'll either think it's very funny, or very sad.
When I look at it from the perspective of, "Hey, that used to be me," then I think it's funny -- especially with the music they added. On the other hand, I feel so sorry for that guy ...
Is that really what you want for yourself?
Several years ago, a friend of mine and her husband were invited to spend the weekend at the husband's employer's home. My friend, Arlene, was nervous about the weekend. The boss was very wealthy, with a fine home on the waterway, and cars costing more than her house.
The first day and evening went well, and Arlene was delighted to have this rare glimpse into how the very wealthy live. The husband's employer was quite generous as a host, and took them to the finest restaurants. Arlene knew she would never have the opportunity to indulge in this kind of extravagance again, so was enjoying herself immensely.
As the three of them were about to enter an exclusive restaurant that evening, the boss was walking slightly ahead of Arlene and her husband.
He stopped suddenly, looking down on the pavement for a long, silent moment. Arlene wondered if she was supposed to pass him. There was nothing on the ground except a single darkened penny that someone had dropped, and a few cigarette butts.
Still silent, the man reached down and picked up the penny. He held it up and smiled, then put it in his pocket as if he had found a great treasure. How absurd! What need did this man have for a single penny? Why would he even take the time to stop and pick it up? Throughout dinner, the entire scene nagged at her.
Finally, she could stand it no longer. She causally mentioned that her daughter once had a coin collection, and asked if the penny he had found had been of some value.
A smile crept across the man's face as he reached into his pocket for the penny and held it out for her to see. She had seen many pennies before! What was the point of this?
"Look at it." He said. "Read what it says."
She read the words "United States of America."
"No, not that; read further."
"No, keep reading."
"In God we Trust?"
"And if I trust in God, the name of God is holy, even on a coin. Whenever I find a coin I see that inscription. It is written on every single United States coin, but we never seem to notice it! God drops a message right in front of me telling me to trust Him? Who am I to pass it by? When I see a coin, I pray, I stop to see if my trust IS in God at that moment. I pick the coin up as a response to God; that I do trust in Him. For a short time, at least, I cherish it as if it were gold. I think it is God's way of starting a conversation with me. Lucky for me, God is patient and pennies are plentiful!
Then I was out shopping today, I found a penny on the sidewalk. I stopped and picked it up, and realized that I had been worrying and fretting in my mind about things I cannot change. I read the words, "In God We Trust," and had to laugh. Yes, God, I get the message. It seems that I have been finding an inordinate number of pennies in the last few months, but then, pennies are plentiful!
And, God is patient...
Thursday, April 20, 2006
I was attending a meeting the other night, and everyone was sharing their experience with Step 6: "Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character." (Steps 4 and 5 exist to help you discover your character defects ... Step 6 is where you decide to ask God to remove them.)
I couldn't understand some of the people there. They had been sober and in AA for over a year -- but were "afraid" of and "dreading" Step 6. They had already completed Steps 4 & 5, and they had discovered their character defects, but they didn't want to give them up yet. I simply don't understand their rationale. I've found a few of my character defects, but I CAN'T WAIT to get rid of them. It's like having spiders crawling all over me -- I'm in an absolute panic to get them off.
But they say that someone with my length of sobriety is not ready to do Step 4 (or anything past it). That really aggrivates me. It's like telling a desperate person who is COVERED in spiders that they can't brush the spiders off because they weren't supposed to have noticed them yet for a few more months.
(Insert Anakin Skywalker temper tantrum from "Revenge of the Sith"... Well here's something similar, dubbed in 1337, hahaha! )
Then there's the whole thing with sponsors (a sponsor is like a mentor). They say you need one, and I admit -- I DO need a sponsor to help get through the steps. At every meeting, they ask for a show of hands from people who are willing to be "Temporary Sponsors". But hardly anyone volunteers. And the people who DO volunteer either leave immediately after the meeting or seem so busy that I don't want to bother them. They have kids, and jobs, and husbands ... I don't want to interrupt their busy lives with my silly problems.
Bleh -- at least the Star Wars clip was teh roXXorz ... compensates for the lame entry, lol ...
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Woke up with that terrible feeling again -- one that sends me into a panic. Heart's beating out of my chest, feeling out of breath and sick to the stomach. Keep remembering why I'm no longer cared about, and the "good old times" keep running through my head.
I don't understand why I miss that time in my life.
The "good old times" weren't exactly "good". In fact, I was miserable -- and made everyone else miserable. I never did any single good thing for anyone.
Never was a "good" person (but I thought I was). Never made anyone happy (but I thought I did). Never was worth anything to anyone (but I thought I was). Never contributed anything (but I thought I did). Never was needed (but I thought I was).
So whatever good feelings I had about myself were lies and delusions.
And deep down during that time, I felt like a complete waste of a human being. Now I see that all my feelings of inadequacy were perfectly accurate. I was nothing more than a "tornado", destroying everyone and everything I touched (analogy from the Big Book). And, of course, it was all my fault.
No matter how much I beat myself up over it, I was still nothing more than a parasitic prat and a complete waste of time to everyone. It makes me feel physically sick and I want to scream ...
They say there's a difference between having a disease and being a disease. I'm tired of being a disease, and I'm beyond sorry to have inflicted so many others.
Monday, April 17, 2006
I just watched the lighthearted comedy "13 Going on 30" for the first time in a long time. It's a great movie -- and if you haven't seen it -- you should! It's cute and very entertaining, but it also contains a great moral for alcoholics -- if you cut out the last five minutes of it.
In the movie, 13-year-old "Jenna" rejects her best friend "Matt" to pursue a position in the popular crowd of kids. Wishing for popularity and beauty on her thirteenth birthday, she magically wakes up 30 years old, immersed in a new life that she has no memory of living.
Her entire life after her thirteenth birthday had been blacked out from her memory, and she soon discovers that the life she had lived up to that point was a very bad one. She had apparently treated people terribly and had done horrible things. She was shocked to find out what an awful person she had been during that time. (Seeing this reminded me of myself. I feel the same way right now.)
To make a long story short (without giving away the movie), she is faced with decisions for handling her mistakes. When she found out that she had wronged someone, she didn't deny it or beat herself up over it, but instead focused her efforts on making things right. Good people she had previously rejected, she now befriended. Bad people she had previously accepted, she now rejected.
As for rejecting Matt years ago -- she is given the opportunity to make things right with him. She realized how wrong she was to reject him, and she was desperate to do ANYTHING to reverse what she did. But even so, her past mistakes created agonizing conditions that simply could not reverse the wrongs she had done to him.
Of course in Hollywood, every story must have a happy fairy tale ending. But in real life, we cannot make wishes with magical pixie dust and wake up with "everything okay again". We cannot go back in time. For our lives, the story ends in the excruciating realization that "You screwed up and you can never make it better" -- and a new story begins from that point.
And for alcoholics especially, we find ourselves in similar situations. We find out that we said or did terrible things that we don't even remember. We find out that we hurt people. Sometimes we are aware that our actions hurt people, but we were so drunk at the time that we didn't realize the specific effects or extent of the damage. Sometimes we had a vague idea of the damage, but we were too drunk and ashamed to face the truth. So we immersed ourselves in MORE alcohol to escape feelings of guilt and futility (which only made things worse).
The Big Book describes the alcoholic as a "tornado" sweeping though the lives of all around. Imagine the sun rising upon a city that was destroyed overnight. During the night time, we can estimate damage -- and even deny it. But once the sun comes up and the destruction is brought into the light, there can be no more denial or escape. So it is with the alcoholic who still drinks -- they can only estimate the damage they have caused until sufficiently sober to view the true destruction "in the light".
In sobriety, we will sometimes agonize over the destruction we have caused others in our alcoholism. Without the numbing shield of alcohol, we are forced to finally acknowledge the exact details of the destruction we have caused. And it is often painful enough to send people back to the drink. Seeing no hope for repairing the damage, we want to escape far away. Back to the bottle some will go: some to cause more damage, others to disappear into death. But those who do not resort to drinking again have hope of making amends -- of trying to make things as right as possible, but it will never be perfect.
Things are as they are, and if we are honest, we recognize that we made them that way. We can blame it on the alcohol. But in the end, the responsibility lies with us -- we CHOSE to drink. We CHOSE to live that way. We made bad choices that hurt people we love.
There is no way to go back in time and do things differently. Instead, we are faced with more choices. The choices of today influence the choices we will make tomorrow. But the choices we made yesterday are completely out of our hands. We will still experience the consequences of those choices, but there is no sense in excessively mourning over them. Beating ourselves over the head for things we cannot change accomplishes absolutely nothing. Which is why the serenity prayer is so important:
God, Grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
The courage to change the things I can;
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Some past mistakes can be amended -- and those amends should be made whenever possible. But some past mistakes cannot be amended. THOSE mistakes are the ones that produce and magnify guilt to the point that we feel we cannot go on. THOSE situations are the ones we cannot change and need to make peace with for our own sanity.
Being completely dumfounded right now, I think a good way to make peace with such situations may be to:
1) accept responsibility for what happened;
2) pray for the person we hurt -- not that they would forgive us, but that they would heal from the pain we caused and experience true freedom and happiness in their lives;
3) learn from that mistake and never repeat it again;
4) decide to accept the situation as one of the things we "cannot change";
5) forgive ourselves.
Forgiving ourselves can be a terribly difficult thing to do. I have not forgiven myself of a single thing yet. I do not feel like I should be forgiven. But it is necessary for healing and continued spiritual growth. Resentments of any kind will bring recovery to a grinding halt.
Which is where I find myself today.
But I think I am finally finished with looking for a way to "undo" certain past wrongs. I realize that I cannot go back in time to do things the right way -- nor can I say or do ANYTHING to remove the hurt I caused. And I am learning to accept that. (Such a seemingly trivial lesson ... but for me, it is a BIG one worth sharing.)
In the mean time, watch the movie! It's good! You'll laugh, you might cry (tears of joy) -- and you will get your daily dose of 80's music. What more could you want?
Sunday, April 16, 2006
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Saint Francis of Assisi wrote this prayer in the 13th century.
But I think it's more than a prayer -- it's also an attitude and a way of overcoming our own pain, depression, hopelessness, and anxiety. I don't have to feel happy to make others feel happy. I don't have to feel hopeful to make others feel hopeful. But when I try to make others feel happy and hopeful, I start to feel happy and hopeful too. The difficult part is remembering to try even when I'm "not feeling it". I'm the worst of the worst when it comes to that.
The striking mystery is that when we are genuinely unable to find hope for ourselves, we are somehow miraculously able to find hope for others.
Saturday, April 15, 2006
There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His Father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence.
Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence....
Finally the day came when the boy didn't lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.
The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, "You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won't matter how many times you say I'm sorry, the wound is still there."
A verbal wound is as bad as a physical one. Friends are a very rare jewel indeed. They make you smile and encourage you to succeed. They lend an ear, they share words of praise and they always want to open their hearts to us.
If I had been doing this over the past couple of years, there would be no fence left. It would disintegrate from all the holes.
Anybody need an old fence taken down? I'm hirable!
Friday, April 14, 2006
From "A Woman's Way through the Twelve Steps", by Stephanie S. Covington, Ph.D.:
Even our relationships themselves may have become addictive. We may have become so enmeshed in our relationships ... that we lost our own identity. We became intensely focused on "protecting our supply" or avoiding "withdrawal" from the attention, sex, status, companionship, or whatever else we received from the relationship.
This sense of desperation -- Why hasn't he called? Is she thinking about me? How can I be more pleasing, more likely to get what I want? -- does not allow for genuine relationships, for true intimacy and mutual caring.
As long as we stayed in a self-shaming state, disconnected from our true value and worthiness, we continued to seek relationships that gave us the same message that we gave ourselves: that we're hopeless, inept, and lacking in some elusive quality that everyone else seems to have. It was a vicious circle that ended with out journey through the Steps.
The source of our suffering and often of our addition was in our attachments, the relationships in which we hoped to find satisfaction and a sense of worth. But it is one of the paradoxes of recovery that while our relationships caused us pain and sufering, our relationships are also going to heal us.
I don't know about other lady alcoholics, but that section hit me like a train. It accurately describes the relationship problems I faced as an alcoholic and in early recovery. I did lose my identity. I was in a self-shaming state. I did think I was helpless and inept. And I did seek satisfaction and a sense of self worth through my relationship ... which suffocated it. None of that was his fault -- it was something that I developed over time. (WARNING: Ladies, regardless of how terrible or lost you feel, never ever mention a word of it to your significant other. Be "sunshiny and perfect" around them 24/7. Of course, this is difficult to do if you've lost your identity in your relationship and feel like a worthless piece of crap. But listen: If you absolutely must confide in someone, then find another female alcoholic who understands your situation, and confide in THEM. If you weigh your burdens on your significant other, you will freak them out and they will leave you -- which will make you feel like an even MORE worthless piece of crap. Just my advice ... I learned the hard way.)
But you won't see this addressed in the Big Book. Most 12-Step programs were built for men, who tend to have completely different psychological struggles than ladies do. Women have different relationship issues and face a different set of social and cultural judgments than men do, and most 12-Step programs often neglect to address these differences. This book relates these 12-Step programs to women's needs. I highly recommend it to all of the lady alcoholics out there. You can get the book here.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
There was a fly buzzing around a barn one day when he happened on a pile of fresh cow manure. Due to the fact that it had been hours since his last meal, he flew down and began to eat. He ate and ate and ate. Finally, he decided he had eaten enough and tried to fly away. He had eaten too much though, and could not get off the ground.
As he looked around wondering what to do now, he spotted a pitchfork leaning up against the wall. He climbed to the top of the handle and jumped off, thinking that once he got airborne, he would be able to take flight. Unfortunately, he was wrong and dropped like a rock, splatting when he hit the floor.
The moral to the story is:
Never fly off the handle when you know you're full of sh*t.
In order for this joke to make sense, you would need to be familiar with the Promises of working the Twelve Steps from the Big Book. The "Promises" presented here are the opposite -- for people who continue to drink. (This is intended as a joke. But how true it is!)
The Promises of Alcohol Addiction
If we are casual with this phase of our development, we will be drunk before we are halfway through.
We are going to know a new imprisonment and a new misery.
We will relive the past and won't be able to shut the door on it.
We will comprehend the word CONFLICT and we will know PAIN.
No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we'll sink even lower.
That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will deepen.
We will gain interest in selfish things and lose interest in our fellows.
Self esteem will slip away.
Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will SUCK.
Fear of people, and of economic insecurity will multiply.
We will intuitively know how to run from situations which never used to bother us.
We will suddenly realize that God would never have done to us what we are doing to ourselves.
Are these extravagant promises? We think not! They are being fulfilled among those of us who are still drinking -- sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.
They will ALWAYS materialize, IF WE DRINK FOR THEM.
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Thanks for visiting my blog, and have a great day!
This blog was started in December 2005, when I was still actively drinking. I was drinking extremely heavily during that time and feeling that life wasn't worth living.
Since then, I have become a member of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). What is AA?
Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength, and hope that they may solve their common problem and help others recover from alcoholism.
The purpose of this blog is to share my experience, strength, and hope with others who have problems with alcohol. This is just a personal journal -- it is not officially recognized or endorsed by AA. I simply share my daily thoughts, concerns, and inspiration in these blog entries.
Over time, perhaps this blog can illustrate a personal transformation that may bring others hope.
If you think you may have a problem with alcoholism, you probably do -- but only you can make that diagnosis for yourself. Take a visit to the official website of [Alcoholics Anonymous]. From there, you can take a simple [quiz] to help you decide if you need help, learn more about AA, read the [Big Book], connect to [your local AA office], and find meetings in your area. ([Click here] for more information.)
For anyone struggling, there IS hope -- and you will find when you look in the right places.
About the Author
My alcoholic drinking started in March 2004 and progressed at an alarming rate. I knew that I had a problem with alcohol after only a few months of drinking, but I could not stop. I soon became a daily "all-day/all-night" drinker, drinking continuously. I finally got help after reaching a point of desperation in January 2006.
I hope that by sharing my struggles here, it might help others who also struggle. So never feel bad or ashamed of yourself if you have a problem with alcohol. It does not mean that you are a "bad" or "weak" person. Instead, facing up to it indicates otherwise.
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Most entries have been written by myself. Those entries, in part or in full, may be shared anywhere and in any way. No credit is necessary.
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Wednesday, April 12, 2006
The story is told of a king in Africa who had a close friend with whom he grew up. The friend had a habit of looking at every situation that ever occurred in his life (positive or negative) and remarking, "This is good!"
One day the king and his friend were out on a hunting expedition. The friend would load and prepare the guns for the king. The friend had apparently done something wrong in preparing one of the guns, for after taking the gun from his friend, the king fired it and his thumb was blown off.
Examining the situation, the friend remarked as usual, "This is good!"
To which the king replied, "No, this is not good!" and proceeded to send his friend to jail.
About a year later, the king was hunting in an area that he should have known to stay clear of. Cannibals captured him and took them to their village. They tied his hands, stacked some wood, set up a stake and bound him to the stake. As they came near to set fire to the wood, they noticed that the king was missing a thumb. Being superstitious, they never ate anyone that was less than whole. So untying the king, they sent him on his way.
As he returned home, he was reminded of the event that had taken his thumb and felt remorse for his treatment of his friend. He went immediately to the jail to speak with his friend. "You were right," he said, "it was good that my thumb was blown off." And he proceeded to tell the friend all that had just happened. "And so I am very sorry for sending you to jail for so long. It was bad for me to do this."
"No," his friend replied, "This is good!"
"What do you mean, 'This is good'? How could it be good that I sent my friend to jail for a year?"
"If I had not been in jail, I would have been with you."
Lesson to me:
All things painful and joyous -- even our mistakes -- can end up working out for our benefit. Can I learn to adopt a "This is good!" attitude toward my mistakes and hard times?
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
There once was an oyster
Whose story I tell,
Who found that some sand
Had got into his shell.
It was only a grain,
but it gave him great pain.
For oysters have feelings
Although they're so plain.
Now, did he berate
the harsh workings of fate
That had brought him
To such a deplorable state?
Did he curse at the government,
Cry for election,
And claim that the sea should
Have given him protection?
'No,' he said to himself
As he lay on a shell,
Since I cannot remove it,
I shall try to improve it.
Now the years have rolled around,
As the years always do,
And he came to his ultimate
And the small grain of sand
That had bothered him so
Was a beautiful pearl
All richly aglow.
Now the tale has a moral,
for isn't it grand
What an oyster can do
With a morsel of sand?
What couldn't we do
If we'd only begin
With some of the things
That get under our skin.
Monday, April 10, 2006
The original Bananaphone song was made in 1994 by Raffi, a children's entertainer/musician.
If you've never heard Bananaphone ... consider yourself lucky, hahaha. But if you want to laugh, check out these flashtoons:
The Original Bananaphone Flashtoon (Don't watch if strobing lights bother you): This one started it all.
BadgerBadgerBadger Bananaphone: Badgers and Bananaphones everywhere!
Bananaphone Music Video: Funny kid makes a cute Bananaphone video.
Harry Potter Bananaphone: Bananaphone -- Hogwarts style!
Bananaphone Terror (Contains profanity): This is what happens when you can't get the song out of your head
Hope you have fun with these!
The author of this blog will not be held responsible for the insanity you may experience after watching these videos. Typical instances of insanity include, but are not limited to, having the "Bananaphone" song stuck in your head, singing "Bananaphone" in your sleep, singing "Bananaphone" in an elevator, singing "Bananaphone" in important business meetings, and answering your banana instead of your phone. User assumes all risk of insanity. Have fun!
A little boy was in a relative's wedding.
As he was coming down the aisle he would take two steps, stop, and turn to the crowd (alternating between bride's side and groom's side), put his hands up like claws, and roar.
Step, step, ROAR, step step, ROAR, all the way down the aisle. The crowd was near tears from laughing so hard by the time he reached the pulpit.
The little boy, however, was getting more and more distressed from all the laughing and was almost crying by the time he reached the pulpit.
When asked what he was doing, the child sniffed and said, "I was being the Ring Bear."
Do you need Me ?
I am there.
You cannot see Me, yet I am the light you see by.
You cannot hear Me, yet I speak through your voice.
You cannot feel Me, yet I am the power at work in your hands.
I am at work, though you do not understand My ways.
I am at work, though you do not understand My works.
I am not strange visions. I am not mysteries.
Only in absolute stillness, beyond self, can you know Me
as I AM, and then but as a feeling and a faith.
Yet I am here. Yet I hear. Yet I answer.
When you need ME, I am there.
Even if you deny Me, I am there.
Even when you feel most alone, I am there.
Even in your fears, I am there.
Even in your pain, I am there.
I am there when you pray and when you do not pray.
I am in you, and you are in Me.
Only in your mind can you feel separate from Me, for
only in your mind are the mists of "yours" and "mine".
Yet only with your mind can you know Me and experience Me.
Empty your heart of empty fears.
When you get yourself out of the way, I am there.
You can of yourself do nothing, but I can do all.
And I AM in all.
Though you may not see the good, good is there, for
I am there. I am there because I have to be, because I AM.
Only in Me does the world have meaning; only out of Me does the world take form; only because of ME does the world go forward.
I am the law on which the movement of the stars and the growth of living cells are founded.
I am the love that is the law's fulfilling. I am assurance.
I am peace. I am oneness. I am the law that you can live by.
I am the love that you can cling to. I am your assurance.
I am your peace. I am ONE with you. I am.
Though you fail to find ME, I do not fail you.
Though your faith in Me is unsure, My faith in you never
wavers, because I know you, because I love you.
Beloved, I AM there.
One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the LORD. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand: one belonging to him, and the other to the LORD.
When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life. This really bothered him and he questioned the LORD about it:
"LORD, you said that once I decided to follow you, you'd walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why when I needed you most you would leave me."
The LORD replied:
"My child, my precious child, I love you and I would never leave you.
During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you."
Alcohol destroys everything. It doesn't just destroy the life of the alcoholic -- but the lives of all around. The more you drink, the more people and things you destroy.
From my personal experience:
You don't want to hurt anyone you love, and you don't want to lose anything important to you. But you don't know how to get through the day without drinking. The very idea is similar to getting through the day without breathing. You can't just "not breathe". You can't just "not drink" either.
So you drink. That hurts people you love -- you end up saying or doing stupid things that hurt their feelings. You feel awful about that. You hate your behavior, and you feel like a monster.
You try to stop drinking to prevent further devastation. You know it's bad for you and bad for those around you. But you still don't know how to get through the day without drinking. You may be successful for a while, but you're obsessed with drinking. Thousands of thoughts whirl around in your head but the only stable thought is for another drink. The entire world is a blur and doesn't matter anymore -- the bottle is the one and only thing in focus.
At your wit's end, you reason, "Okay, I'll just have one drink. I won't get drunk this time." In no time after taking the first drink, you have finished twenty drinks and are staggering drunk and saying stupid things that hurt people again. You know you've failed again, and you know that you've become a worse monster than you were before. You are out of control.
The cycle repeats endlessly and gets progressively worse. This is how you change emotionally:
You become consumed with self hatred, cynicism, depression, passive-aggression, anxiety, and rage. You are a monster. Whatever friends you haven't scared off yet perceive you as a volatile emotional leach and burden. You know that you are a complete loser and a freak. Every time something goes wrong, it's proof that you're a blundering idiot. You are convinced that you're a terrible, horrible, worthless, stupid, miserable failure of a human being who should have never been born. In your mind, that is who you ARE -- it is the identity you have created for yourself through your alcoholism.
It makes no sense! But this is my personal starting point. It's not the "prettiest" nor "ugliest" of other people's stories I've heard. But it's my own -- everyone's story is different. Everyone has different issues. My issues often pale in comparison to everyone else's.
Some people lose their entire families, all their friends, their homes, their jobs -- everything -- and end up destitute. I was fortunate just to lose two people: a lying boyfriend who cheated (probably with a different random chick each day of the week), and a mutual friend who tried to be friends with us both. It was probably beneficial to everyone for those relationships to end, but I wish they didn't end as the result of an abusive drunken rage.
But in all "stories", it becomes obvious that simply stopping drinking won't fix everything. As destructive as it was, drinking was really only a symptom of other underlying issues. Continuing to drink prevents all hope for ever healing. But at least getting sober gives us a chance -- regardless of our starting point.
And not to breathe
Is to die in tragedy
To run away
To find what you believe
And I leave behind
This hurricane of f*cking lies
I lost my faith to this
This town that don't exist
So I run
I run away
To the light of masochist
And I leave behind
This hurricane of f*cking lies
And I walked this line
A million and one f*cking times
But not this time
-- Excerpt from "Jesus of Suburbia", Green Day
When I was drinking the most, I listened to this part of the song repeatedly. He's referring to leaving a broken home. But feeling so overcome by alcohol, I interpreted those words with a different meaning for myself: leaving a broken life.
As a result of living under the power of alcohol, I felt like I was alive, but not really living.
I felt like my entire life while drinking was a "hurricane of f*cking lies". I knew it, and I wanted to leave it.
I felt like "I lost my faith" to something that didn't exist.
I felt like "I walked this line a million and one f*cking times". I couldn't wait for the day when it would be time to walk the line again, but I would finally have the strength to say "But not this time" ... and walk away from the drink once and for all ...
Saturday, April 08, 2006
"Caution: The contents of this bottle should not be fed to fish." -- On a bottle of shampoo for dogs.
"For external use only!" -- On a curling iron.
"Warning: This product can burn eyes." -- On a curling iron.
"Do not use in shower." -- On a hair dryer.
"Do not use while sleeping." -- On a hair dryer.
"Do not use while sleeping or unconscious." -- On a hand-held massaging device.
"Do not place this product into any electronic equipment." -- On the case of a chocolate CD in a gift basket.
"Recycled flush water unsafe for drinking." -- On a toilet at a public sports facility in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
"Shin pads cannot protect any part of the body they do not cover." -- On a pair of shin guards made for bicyclists.
"This product not intended for use as a dental drill." -- On an electric rotary tool.
"Caution: Do not spray in eyes." -- On a container of underarm deodorant.
"Do not drive with sunshield in place." -- On a cardboard sunshield that keeps the sun off the dashboard.
"Caution: This is not a safety protective device." -- On a plastic toy helmet used as a container for popcorn.
"Do not use near fire, flame, or sparks." -- On an "Aim-n-Flame" fireplace lighter.
"Do not eat toner." -- On a toner cartridge for a laser printer.
"Not intended for highway use." -- On a 13-inch wheel on a wheelbarrow.
"This product is not to be used in bathrooms." -- On a Holmes bathroom heater.
"May irritate eyes." -- On a can of self-defense pepper spray.
"Eating rocks may lead to broken teeth." -- On a novelty rock garden set called "Popcorn Rock."
"Caution! Contents hot!" -- On a Domino's Pizza box.
"Caution: Hot beverages are hot!" -- On a coffee cup.
"Warning: May contain small parts." -- On a frisbee.
"Do not use orally." -- On a toilet bowl cleaning brush.
"Please keep out of children." -- On a butcher knife.
"Not suitable for children aged 36 months or less." -- On a birthday card for a 1 year old.
"Do not recharge, put in backwards, or use." -- On a battery.
"Warning: Do not use on eyes." -- In the manual for a heated seat cushion.
"Do not look into laser with remaining eye." -- On a laser pointer.
"Do not use for drying pets." -- In the manual for a microwave oven.
"For use on animals only." -- On an electric cattle prod.
"For use by trained personnel only." -- On a can of air freshener.
"Keep out of reach of children and teenagers." -- On a can of air freshener.
"Remember, objects in the mirror are actually behind you." -- On a motorcycle helmet-mounted rear-view mirror.
"Warning: Riders of personal watercraft may suffer injury due to the forceful injection of water into body cavities either by falling into the water or while mounting the craft." -- In the manual for a jetski.
"Warning: Do not climb inside this bag and zip it up. Doing so will cause injury and death." -- A label inside a protective bag (for fragile objects), which measures 15cm by 15cm by 12cm.
"Do not use as ear plugs." -- On a package of silly putty.
"Please store in the cold section of the refrigerator." -- On a bag of fresh grapes in Australia.
"Warning: knives are sharp!" -- On the packaging of a sharpening stone.
"Not for weight control." -- On a pack of Breath Savers.
"Twist top off with hands. Throw top away. Do not put top in mouth." -- On the label of a bottled drink.
"Theft of this container is a crime." -- On a milk crate.
"Do not use intimately." -- On a tube of deodorant.
"Warning: has been found to cause cancer in laboratory mice." -- On a box of rat poison.
"Fragile. Do not drop." -- Posted on a Boeing 757.
"Cannot be made non-poisonous." -- On the back of a can of de-icing windshield fluid.
"Caution: Remove infant before folding for storage." -- On a portable stroller.
"Excessive dust may be irritating to shin and eyes." -- On a tube of agarose powder, used to make gels.
"Look before driving." -- On the dash board of a mail truck.
"Do not iron clothes on body." -- On packaging for a Rowenta iron.
"Do not drive car or operate machinery." -- On Boot's children's cough medicine.
"For indoor or outdoor use only." -- On a string of Christmas lights.
"Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly." -- On a child sized Superman costume.
"This door is alarmed from 7:00pm - 7:00am." -- On a hospital's outside access door.
"Beware! To touch these wires is instant death. Anyone found doing so will be prosecuted." -- On a sign at a railroad station.
"Warning: do not use if you have prostate problems." -- On a box of Midol PMS relief tablets.
"Product will be hot after heating." -- On a supermarket dessert box.
"Do not turn upside down." -- On the bottom of a supermarket dessert box.
"Do not light in face. Do not expose to flame." -- On a lighter.
"Choking hazard: This toy is a small ball." -- On the label for a cheap rubber ball toy.
"Not for human consumption." -- On a package of dice.
"May be harmful if swallowed." -- On a shipment of hammers.
"Using Ingenio cookware to destroy your old pots may void your warranty." -- A printed message that appears in a television advertisement when the presenter demonstrates how strong the cookware is by using it to beat up and destroy a regular frying pan.
"Do not attempt to stop the blade with your hand." -- In the manual for a Swedish chainsaw.
"Do not dangle the mouse by its cable or throw the mouse at co-workers." -- From a manual for an SGI computer.
"Warning: May contain nuts." -- On a package of peanuts.
"Do not eat." -- On a slip of paper in a stereo box, referring to the styrofoam packing.
"Do not eat if seal is missing." -- On said seal.
"Remove occupants from the stroller before folding it."
"Access hole only -- not intended for use in lifting box." -- On the sides of a shipping carton, just above cut-out openings which one would assume were handholds.
"Warning: May cause drowsiness." -- On a bottle of Nytol, a brand of sleeping pills.
"Warning: Misuse may cause injury or death." -- Stamped on the metal barrel of a .22 calibre rifle.
"Do not use orally after using rectally." -- In the instructions for an electric thermometer.
"Turn off motor before using this product." -- On the packaging for a chain saw file, used to sharpen the cutting teeth on the chain.
"Not to be used as a personal flotation device." -- On a 6x10 inch inflatable picture frame.
"Do not put in mouth." -- On a box of bottle rockets.
"Remove plastic before eating." -- On the wrapper of a Fruit Roll-Up snack.
"Not dishwasher safe." -- On a remote control for a TV.
"For lifting purposes only." -- On the box for a car jack.
"Do not put lit candles on phone." -- On the instructions for a cordless phone.
"Warning! This is not underwear! Do not attempt to put in pants." -- On the packaging for a wristwatch.
From the Big Book (p. 83-84):
If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through.
We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.
No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.
That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.
We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.
Self-seeking will slip away.
Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.
Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.
We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us-sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
The first time I decided to get sober, it was to make my then-boyfriend happy. That wasn't such a good idea. As soon as we broke up, I drank again and terribly upset my mom.
So then I decided to get sober to make HER happy. Also, in the back of my mind, I hoped that if I got sober, my boyfriend would want me back. That was also a dumb idea.
The cravings had only gotten worse over the past two weeks. I was getting desperate. I wanted to validate my right to drink by placing the blame on my ex -- that I wanted to drink because "he hurt me".
With that excuse yesterday, I got a bottle of vodka, got drunk, behaved like a complete idiot and unintentionally verbally/emotionally hurt people I cared about, humiliated myself, blacked out, got a knife, and slashed up and down my arms until I passed out.
Well that was a fantastic way of handling things, wasn't it? But that's exactly what I did, and it reflects the insanity of this disease.
As a result of this episode, I have learned:
1) Unless I choose sobriety as a gift to MYSELF, for MYSELF, and of MY CHOICE -- I will never stay sober. Sobriety can't happen unless YOU are desperate enough to "go to any lengths" for it.
2) Unless I come to peace with my resentments, I will ALWAYS be tempted to drink.
3) There is no such thing as "drinking because of" someone or something. I drank because I wanted to. Nobody held a gun to my head. It was my CHOICE, and *I* made it.
4) Drinking didn't solve the problem. It didn't make me feel better. It made everything 100 times worse. When you feel that "Oh my Gawwwwwd I need to DRINK!" feeling, it means you are certifiably INSANE and should be locked up in a padded room for your protection (and the emotional protection of those who care about you).
5) Self mutilation is a pathetic form of emotional attempted suicide. You're not going to die; you're not going to correct past wrongs. You're just going to wake up covered in blood wondering why you were so STUPID to do that to yourself. It hurts like hell and the scars will last for years. And WHAT did you accomplish? Nothing? Thought so.
6) Most importantly, I'm sick of this. I'm sick of EVERYTHING. I'm sick of my life, of being out-of-control, of constantly craving something I can't have, of hurting myself and everyone around me. If I can't stop drinking, I need to die. It would be better to die than to continue living in this insanity, ruining my life and the lives of those I love.
I think "Step 1" is slapping me upside the head at the moment. "We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable." If this isn't the PICTURE of powerlessness, unmanageability, and downright insanity, I don't know what is.
This is all very humiliating and I didn't want to share it. But if it helps someone stay sober another day, it's worth sharing.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
One of the AA Promises read at every meeting is this:
"We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves."
For some reason, when I heard this promise read at the AA meeting last night, it really stuck in my head. It was such a calming thought -- something that helped me to step back for the first time and look at my breakup situation from a broader perspective.
Perhaps God needs me out of that relationship. Knowing that I was unable/unwilling to leave it on my own terms, perhaps God is "doing for me what I couldn't/wouldn't do for myself".
This breakup wasn't my decision. But I don't think it was entirely his decision either.
So apparently, God has better plans, and they involve being with someone else. And knowing that I was emotionally incapable of leaving this ill-fated relationship, He provided the perfect push to get me out.
So in reality, I haven't lost anything. I haven't lost anyone. I've been liberated from a doomed relationship. And for that, I am learning to be happy and grateful.
Monday, April 03, 2006
I just read a booklet called "Acceptance", written in 1960, but still so true today. I think it provides the solutions to so many problems that I have described so far in this blog, as well as problems I don't yet know that I have. It is so helpful for me, perhaps it can be helpful for you too.
By Vincent P. Collins
Sooner or later, everyone arrives at a point where life seems to become to big to cope with. Life is never really too much for us, but it can seem to be. When this happens, we have to get life back in focus. We have lost our perspective, but it can be regained.
You may have to come to think of the world as unspeakably vast -- the earth, twenty five thousand miles around, and outer space, full of unknown worlds. But, practically, the world is limited to your house, your shop, and your town. Even if you fly to India or Paris or Hong Kong, your world is no bigger than the interior of the airplane, and no further away than the nearest airport.
You may have come to regard the world as teeming with millions and millions of people. In reality, your world consists of a very small number of people -- those you live with, those you work with, and those you're acquainted with.
And the awful menacing future, that unending nightmare of shadowy days and years! Can't even bear to think about it. Well, quit even thinking about it at all. You live only a split second at a time; that's right this minute. You can think of only one thing at a time, do only one thing at a time; you actually live only one breath at a time. So stop living in a tomorrow that may never come, and start living one day at a time -- today. Plan for tomorrow, but live only till bedtime tonight.
In short, that big bogey-man, life, can be cut down to his real size. Life is only this place, this time, and these people right here and now. This you can handle -- at least today.
"But my life is just one problem after another!" Of course it is -- that's life.
I don't know how it is with you, but it took me a long time to realize that at least some of these problems were of my own making. For instance, I thought that it was my duty to try to solve other people's problems, arbitrate their disputes, and show them how to live their lives. I was hurt when they rejected my advice. I finally learned that you cannot help people unless they really need help, are willing to be helped, want you to help them, and ask you to help them. Even then, you can only help them to help themselves.
An old Arab, whose tent was pitched next to a company of whirling dervishes was asked, "Don't they bother you?"
"What do you do about them?"
"I just let 'm whirl!"
I caused myself alot of unnecessary grief by trying to be unselfish, to think of everybody else first, myself last, and to try to please everybody. You can knock yourself out doing this and that and the other thing to please "your cousins and your sisters and your aunts," and you find out that they are not really affected one way or the other. Please everybody, nobody's pleased; please yourself, at least you're pleased! Charity begins at home, and enlightened self interest is a basic endowment of human nature. You can save yourself allot of grief by admitting the futility of trying to please everybody, or of trying to please somebody who just can't be pleased.
A surprised number of people believe that other people can hurt their feelings. They won't believe you when you tell them that it just isn't so -- that no one can hurt you unless you let them! If irresponsible or unreasonable criticism causes you unhappiness, that is at least partly your own fault. We all say "I don't care what people say," but the tragic thing is that we do care, pretending we don't makes thing worse. What to do?
Practice turning a deaf ear to the person who irritates or upsets you; make up your mind that you are not going to let yourself pay any attention to what "he" or "she" says, and mean it. This you won't believe until you try it. If you refuse to at least try it, some suspicious and cynical soul (like me, for instance) might suspect that perhaps you've got so in the habit of having your feelings hurt that you'd be bored otherwise.
So much for unnecessary suffering.
How about real trouble, trouble that comes regardless of what we do, think, or say? That terrifying problem that has no apparent solution? Let's stop for a minute and see what a problem really is.
A problem is a set of circumstances that threatens your well being. And what are circumstances? Circumstances are people and things. So, "solve our problems" really means getting people and things the way we want them. Sometimes we can do it. More often we can't. What then?
There are several things we can do. We can look around to find somebody or something to blame. Or we can put ashes in our hair, wear shabby shoes with run-down heels, accentuate our wrinkles, and make the rounds of our friends chanting, "Poor, Poor Me!" We can succeed in making our family miserable. We can haunt doctors. We can waylay our pastor, beat our breasts and blame God: "What have I done to deserve this?"
These various "home remedies" ---blaming everybody, self pity and the rest --- have but one result: they make everybody including ourselves more miserable and add to our difficulties without solving them. Shall we curse God and die? No.
Do what the politician does: "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em! If you can't solve your problems, learn to live with them and in spite of them.
"Oh sure, sure; just like that! All very well to say "Learn to live with them", but it's another thing to do it! Just how do you go about doing that?
Very simple, my friend; so simple you wouldn't try it unless you were desperate. If you are desperate enough you'll try anything. So try something that works -- try acceptance!
Acceptance is the only real source of tranquility, serenity, peace. It is also known as "surrender", Bowing to the inevitable. Joining 'em. It can be acquired if you have an urgent desire to help yourself and are willing to ask God to help you.
Luckily for us, the perfect formula for acceptance, simple and practical as a can opener, is ready at hand, waiting for us to use it as hundreds of thousands before us have. Written by Reinhold Niebuhr, it is known far and wide as "The Serenity Prayer."
Here it is:
God grant me the
Serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can; and
Wisdom to know the difference.
You simply ask God to give you the ability to take people and things as they are, if you cannot change them. We can very seldom change people though we can change ourselves. We ask God, further, to enable us to convince ourselves that we would not have things otherwise, even if we could. Only God is powerful enough to control all things and He seems to prefer to make some things come out right without changing them.
In practice: face up to the problem that is driving you wild, and say "Is there anything I can do about it right now, today?" If there is, do it! Don't put it off another minute. If there is nothing you can do about it today, accept it and forget it.
You don't get over a forty foot wall by banging your head against it, you just get a headache. If you sit down in the shade of the wall and say, "Maybe I'm better off on this side, after all." You may be sure that God will make things turn out better for you and for everyone else. This ability of His to make things work out for the best is known as Divine Providence, or "The Kindness of God."
The Kindness of God
Divine Providence is that quality of God's action by which He brings good out of evil, or by which He permits us to do evil so that he may eventually bring good out of it. The Kindness of God is the best answer to the age old complaint, "Why does God let them get away with it?"
We are all aware that people just don't act the way they should. Some are mean, arrogant, selfish, vicious, ungrateful, and malicious all the time. Even the very best (are you listening?) are mean, arrogant, etc., part of the time.
Why doesn't God do something about it: He could, all right; but, strange to say, that would ruin everything. He created us with free will, that is, the power of choosing to do good or to do evil. He realized very well that some people would abuse free will, but He gave it to us anyway, because if without it we'd be robots. His plan is to reward us with Heaven but you don't reward a machine for doing well -- it can't do otherwise. No free will, no reward.
We may as well accept the fact that "It's a sinful world!" We don't have to remind God of that; indeed, no one ever suffered more from it than He Himself did when His Son was on earth. The big difference is that He accepted the injustice done to His Son and did not rebel against it. It was through that very acceptance that He was to save us. Everything that was done to His Son was permitted by Himself for our salvation. For His Son's part, he accepted it as the will of his Father. "Father if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; but not my will, but Thine be done."
Do you claim to be the victim of a greater injustice than His Son? Or more important than His Son? You'd gladly escape your unbearable situation, but cannot. His Son could have, but did not! "Is the disciple above the Master?"
The Providence of God turned the most horrible injustice of all time into the greatest blessing of all time. Divine Providence is still turning evil into good, if the victim of injustice accepts his lot, even as Christ accepted His. When you bow to the inevitable and accept injustice, you are not ignoring it or excusing it or explaining it away. You are simply accepting the indirect or permissive Will of God.
God does not will evil or condone injustice; He merely permits it, even while He works the marvel by which it results in good. So if we find ourselves in an apparently hopeless situation, with every avenue of escape blocked, we must not rebel. Instead, we must realize that God has His reasons, in His infinite goodness and wisdom, for permitting it. And so we accept it, saying "Thy Will Be Done!" Immediately the load drops from our shoulders, and the assurance that all will be well, brings peace to our soul.
Look back over your life. Honestly, now, can't you see how the loving Hand of God has brought a happy ending to many events that seemed to be unmitigated tragedies at the time? "Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?"
Some humorist once said, "Just because we have the right to the pursuit of happiness, is no sign we'll ever catch up with it!" Sometimes it almost seems that God doesn't want us to be happy here on earth, that He demands misery and suffering in this life as the price of happiness in the next. The Puritans believe this, but don't you believe it! God wants us to be happy right here on earth and even points out the way. Sometimes, however, we refuse to look where He is pointing.
The trouble is that most of us think happiness consists in the fulfillment of our wants and desires, or at the very least in freedom from pain and suffering. Actually, it consists in the serenity that comes from conforming our own will to the Will of God. We achieve happiness by forcing ourselves to accept what God wants for us.
It's obvious that such a course would make for happiness in the next life, but it's hard to see how it would make us happy in this life. That's because we're convinced that happiness lies in getting what we want -- satisfying our instinctive appetites and desires -- all of which is the exact opposite of the truth. Actually, even if we could satisfy our every desire, we would not be happy. Self gratification, far from making us happy, makes us miserable, as we learned long ago from the tale of King Midas and the Golden Touch. If you have been making the universal mistake of trying to appease the drive of your self will, stop it! Stop catering to it, and start controlling it.
"Easier said than done!"
No, it's not too difficult when you know how. God has provided us with the perfect means to eliminate self will and free ourselves from the slavery of our insatiable desires. It is suffering -- the perfect tool to cut us down to proper size. Instead of going the limit to dodge pain, we had better start using it. Pain is the only instrument sharp enough to prune away the excesses of our wayward will and to fashion it into a reasonable facsimile of God's Will; which is to say into the shape of a cross.
Very few people carry a cross of heroic proportions, since God makes each one to measure and there are very few heroes. More usually it consists of daily annoyances and petty frustrations, disappointments, loneliness, and recurring disillusionment with everybody, ourselves included. You might term it a combination of the bodily aches, spiritual twinges and mental hotfoots that go to make up everyday living. The way of the Cross may be hard, but it remains the only road to happiness, serenity, and peace in this life, on this earth. And at it's end there awaits you happiness without measure, without limit, without end.
Baby screams because Mama won't let him play with the nice, big, shiny butcher knife. Baby is very unhappy; he can't have what he wants, and he doesn't want that silly old rattle. Baby has yet to learn that contentment consists not in getting what he wants but in enjoying what he has. If we grown ups are contented only when we're getting what we want, we're going to be discontented most of the time. That way, our happiness depends on circumstances over which we have no control. No human being is so wise and powerful that he can control circumstances.
Then we had better see what we can do about finding our own enjoyment. Since we can't get everything we want, we must learn to enjoy what we have. Well, what have you? You're alive, and you have five senses in more or less good working order. Even if you were deaf, dumb and blind you could at least take enjoyment from the sensation of breathing.
I am not deaf, dumb or blind. I can even look at a smoldering dump and enjoy the realization that I can see it and I can smell it. I can listen to a cat yowling outside my window at three a.m. and enjoy the realization that there's nothing wrong with my hearing. I can walk; I can enjoy the sensation of picking my feet up and putting them down. I can be color blind and tone deaf and still enjoy a little baby's gurgling. As a matter of fact, we can find something enjoyable in any situation, no matter how disagreeable, if we look for it. If we try hard enough, we can even enjoy the drudgery of our work.
Don't make the mistake of postponing your enjoyment until vacation time, or even till the week-end. Some people have to go to movies or night-clubs for amusement and laughs, when their own children can provide more amusement than an army of M.C.'s. Let's enjoy here and now!
Perhaps the most difficult thing to bear is loneliness or aloneness. What to do when circumstances force us into a solitary existence? First, if you are fortunate enough to have a variety of interest, physical or mental, you must make a real effort to develop them. Failing that, you can search out and help the less fortunate. If you are not up to that, you are thrown back on the conscious cultivation of your five senses and intellectual powers. At the very least, you can tell God every morning that you hold yourself available for use as His instrument, if only by praying for Him to bless everyone whom you meet.
If these alternatives do not work, there is only one thing left; simple, rock bottom acceptance. Stop pitying yourself, stop rebelling, throw in the sponge, and surrender to the obvious fact that since God allows it and you can't escape it, it must be best for you and for everyone. Pray for the faith to believe it and to accept it.
"Lord, Save Us ..."
God is infinitely wise: He knows what is best for us. He loves us with an infinite love; He wants what is best for us. He is all powerful; He can achieve it for us. We, on the other hand, are ignorant, weak, and wayward. Yet in weakness lies our strength. Are we licked, beat, flattened, hopeless? Fine! It is only when we admit utter helplessness that we can be sure of God's help.
No one but a monster could pass by a starving, naked infant freezing in a snow bank without picking it up, sheltering, feeding, and clothing it. So it is with us. As long as we insist, "I can handle it!" -- God says, "Go ahead." But when we appeal to him as a helpless infant, He picks us up in His gentle Hands, cradles us in His powerful arms, and our worries are over.
A wise old Scotsman used to put it this way: "As long as I insisted on driving, I ran into trouble. After the last crash up I said to God: 'O.K., You drive it!' Since then, I have been driving in the back seat enjoying the scenery. I place myself completely in His hands every morning and say, 'Thank you, God!' every night. And that's it!"
In praying we must remember that "Father knows best." Suppose, for instance, I think I am about to lose my job? Should I pray? What should I pray for? God may have ordained that if I do not pray, He will let nature take its course and I will lose my job; if I do ask Him to save my job, He will. However, with greater faith I may pray, "Dear God, do what is best for all concerned." In turn, He may permit me to lose my job, only to get a better one. I have nothing to lose by leaving it up to Him. After all, He can't possibly do a worst job of running my life than I have myself!
We all are inclined to make the mistake of thinking that the few minutes we spend in actually talking to God are all that count. In reality, the attitude of mind we maintain throughout the day is every bit as important. If you place yourself in God's hands in the morning, and through-out the day you hold yourself ready to accept His will as it is known through the circumstances of your daily life, your attitude of acceptance becomes a constant prayer.
To cultivate this attitude, to remind yourself how to live with yourself, start today to recite every day the serenity prayer.
The Serenity Prayer
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can; and
Wisdom to know the difference;
Living one day at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He would make all things right if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him forever in the next.