Confusion

I am 2 months and 20 days into my relapse day count. I am still feeling a bit off about it all. I am trying to feel good about AA, and going to meetings, but some days it just feels like one more thing on my to do list. And not a good thing.

Also, as a perfectionist and being highly competitive, I never feel like I am doing the program “right”. I sit in the meetings, which I do enjoy, when I can talk myself into going, and listen to all these enlightened people speak, and just think to myself, I don’t get it.

I also am deathly afraid to speak in public, and these are large meetings. I spend a lot of my time counting how many people have to share before they get to me, hoping that the time will run out. Then when I see that I WILL have to share, I spend my time thinking about what I am going to say. When it comes time for me to have to speak, I feel the hives forming on my neck, and my cheeks getting all flushed. Then I think that everyone thinks that I am an idiot.

I also am so fascinated by the depth to which people share. I can barely tell my husband or sponsor my innermost feelings, there is no way I can dig deep and lay all my stuff out in a room full of strangers. So, am I getting it? I know that sharing is a huge part of healing, but being blocked in that area, is that going to stop me from understanding this program? Will I ever get to happy, joyous and free?

I know, there is a lot of me in that last paragraph.

My new sponsor is great, but she pushes. She pushes because she knows about my trepidation. She pushes because she knows at any moment I could bolt. She pushes because she cares.

It is all new again. Even though I haven’t had alcohol in over three years, I feel like a newcomer, which I am, as I don’t think I ever really gave this thing a good go. I want to feel comfortable, I want to “get it”, but I have more times where I don’t.

I can’t even get through the first 164 pages of the big book.

I am not sure where my head is.

 

Relapse-Reset & Rigerous Honesty Sucks

I picked up my 60 day chip on Monday night. It made me feel like shit.

When I got sober, from alcohol, in 2013, each milestone felt amazing. This just feels crappy.

Rigorous honesty sucks. I feel like quitting AA again, just so I can walk around saying I have 3+ years of sobriety. White knuckle it, again. It worked so well the last time. :/

Being a weak ass addict sucks too. I am not even sure, right at this moment, that if a Vicodin landed on my desk, I wouldn’t take it, and that REALLY sucks.

It has entered my mind just to say fuck it to all of it, and chuck it all.

The damage is done, I could go back to my old ways, then quit again, and be where I am right now. In my warped thinking, that would feel like a true reset.

Go big or go home.

 

 

Rigorous Honesty and a Day Count Reset ☹️

rigerous honesty

I have finally owned up to the fact that I can no longer say that I have 1213 days of sobriety.  This has been a tough one for me.  Since I quit drinking on 11/30/13, I have taken opiates four times, an addiction I don’t readily own up to. I took them for the same reasons I used to drink, to not feel something that was painful.  It is the same behavior as drinking to mask my feelings,  I took the pills to make something less of a THING. To make it go away, however briefly.

I have gone back to AA and am giving it 100 percent effort this time around. When I first got sober, I did it online for the first three months, white knuckling it with the WordPress sober community.  I then decided to try an AA meeting. I found one where no one asked anything of me. No coffee making, no greeting, no commitment. Also no offers of sponsorship, nor did I asks. I just went one night a week, sat in a chair, said nothing, then went home. Just going through the motions.

I had a sponsor, but she lived in a different state, so we weren’t connected geographically, and were unable to attend meetings together. We weren’t able to get together in person and discuss my new sobriety the way I can with my new sponsor.

My current sponsor is tough, she expects a daily telephone call, and she expects me to show up at meetings, regularly. No half assing it this time.  I have been doing that, because there has been a hole in my sobriety. Without the meetings, I was back to white knuckling it, and just going through the motions. I wasn’t drinking, but if given the chance or the opportunity, I would happily gulp down a pain pill.

What I have found by attending meetings for the last three months is that  I was missing was the rigorous honesty. When you don’t have to be accountable for your behavior, you give yourself a pass and rationalize away anything.  And I have. I have done that four times when I have chosen to take opiates.

I have attended a lot of meetings in the last few months. I have been listening, and I have heard people tell on themselves repeatedly. I kept hearing the phrase rigorous honesty. It has stirred something deep in me, I have not been honest with myself, or within the program, and now it was time to own up to it.

In my mind I had kept my two addictions in separate places, never admitting the pills were as bad as the alcohol. I was sober because I didn’t drink. I kept up my day count. Nothing was going to stop my streak. Somehow, I discounted the pills, they weren’t my REAL addiction, so I kept going after each pill relapse as though nothing happened.

Except this time it was different, I had a new sponsor, I had to tell on self. That is what we do. When I first asked her if I should reset my day count, she said she felt that I was a bit too fragile and new at the program to do that, and we could let it go. But I can’t. The more meetings I go to, the more I realize that I have to reset my sobriety date. As I have relapsed, not once, but four different times. The pills and the alcohol are the same, they are both an addiction and they belong in the same bucket.

This morning I told my sponsor that I felt I needed to reset the date. The continued talk of rigorous honesty was getting to me. I am not being honest, I am a liar. I have not been sober for 1213 days, I have been cheating.

It is time to own up to it. I don’t want to, in fact it makes me cringe and cry. I can’t even think about getting another 30 day, 60 day, 90 day chip, it just makes me so sad. I am told I will feel better once I admit this. It will be a weight off, it will be the beginning, again, this time with rigorous honesty.

 

 

 

Opiate Relapse, Story #2

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I relapsed with opiates was in December 2015.

Christmas Day of 2015, I received a call from my step-mother. My father was in ICU in Bangor, Maine with pneumonia, can I come please? The next morning, I caught the first ferry off the island, and headed to Maine. Along the way, I stopped at Logan Airport to pick up my brother who had gotten the same call, and had flown in from Saint Louis.

For most people, pneumonia is not a deadly disease. For my father it is. My father is a two time cancer survivor. In case you were ever in doubt, smoking does cause cancer. The cancer first started in his mouth, under his tongue. He had radiation, which killed all his salivary glands, and compromised his jaw bone. In later years, he lost a lot of his teeth. Two years later, the cancer was back, in his lungs. The doctor’s removed the top lobe of his left lung. They caught it early, so he didn’t need any further treatment, and has been cancer free for 20 plus years.

That being said, pneumonia is deadly for a person who has a compromised immune system and has diminished breathing capacity to start with. The doctors also could not identify the strain of pneumonia, so they had no idea how to treat him. My step mother thought he was going to die. Both my brother and I went to Maine.

My brother was also suffering. He had fallen off a ladder and had done something horrific to his neck. He was using the neck hanging traction apparatus, but was in a lot of pain.

When we arrived at my father’s home, my brother said he was in agony. He had taken the last Vicodin that the doctor had prescribed him. I said, “I know that Dad has some pain pills, he never takes them after an operation.” I strapped on my running shoes and made a bee line to their bathroom, lightning speed.

I took a couple of pills out of the bottle and handed them to my brother. I took the 3 bottles I found there, and stashed them in my room.

I was in Maine for a week,  most of the time alone. Spending time in the ICU, and spending a lot of time at my father’s house. I popped pills like a mad woman. Every night I would watch TV, have my seltzer, and take a few pain pills. Every morning I would wake up, feel like shit, and tell myself to flush them down the toilet. Yet, every night, I would repeat the previous evening’s cycle.

When it was time to head home, my true addict surfaced. I emptied the bottles and put the pills into a baggie, which I hid in a compartment in my bag. I threw the empty bottles into my handbag. As I headed south, I stopped for a coffee and bagel. Along the way, at a rest area, I took the empty bottles, put them in the bag of trash from the coffee shop and threw them in the trash can at a rest stop along I-95.

I was sneaky for sure. At the time, it all seemed perfectly normal, in hindsight, it looks like what it is, a drug addict, stealing drugs from family members.

After a few days at home, I came clean to my husband. I had flushed the remaining pills down the toilet, and had, once again, determined to get sober from opiates.

I made it a year and a month.Last week I relapsed. My problem was, I didn’t get help. I did what I always do, I stay sober through sheer determination. I am a competitive person, even with myself. This worked until last week.

In December, I had a realization that I can not power through my addictions by myself.I was struggling, mentally. No matter how many miles I ran to clear the noise from my head, it kept coming back. I needed help.I half- assed a few AA meetings in November. In December, I got serious, I got a sponsor, who I speak to every day. I am a work in progress. I am working on rigorous honesty, with myself and my sponsor, who had no idea how deep my opiate addiction was until last week.

This is the first time I have told on myself about this side of my addiction. This has been my dirty little secret that I have not acknowledged to anyone, and most importantly myself.

Now it is out there, it is with my sponsor, and it is with you. Rigorous honesty isn’t always pretty, this is down right ugly, and it has made me completely uncomfortable to share. I was just getting used to calling myself alcoholic, now I need to add addict.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017 and percocet relapse

I was lying in bed last night, wishing I had a journal to write in. I have had journals, but I have stopped writing in them because my husband reads them. He reads them even though I have told him, “Hey, this is my journal, it is going to live here on my night table, please don’t read it.” I find this to be a huge invasion of my privacy, among many other things that I am not going to get into today, so I stopped journaling. I moved my current one to the car, which is not a convenient place to find time and put down thoughts. I would suspect writing in a journal while driving is up there in the don’t column along with texting while driving.

Being in recovery, I have discovered that NOT writing down my thoughts has not helped me process the thoughts, or get the thoughts out of my head and put them somewhere else so they no longer make such a racket. The noise keeps me up at night.

I remembered, in my early sobriety I used to blog. I never really enjoyed blogging, I always felt my writing wasn’t good enough, or I wasn’t being insightful, or I wasn’t posting frequently enough, so I shut my blog down. That was about 2 1/2 years ago. I was blogging for the wrong reasons. This blog will now be my journal, somewhere for those pesky, keep me awake at night thoughts to live. Somewhere that the husband won’t find them.

A lot has happened in 2 1/2 years. Of course it has, it has been 2 1/2 years. I am still sober, from alcohol. I have 1,179 days. I have been in AA, then quit AA, and now my road has brought me back to AA. (more on that another day)

I never disclosed in my prior blogs that I also am an opiate addict. I had a botched rotator cuff surgery, and my doctor’s answer to my complaints about getting worse instead of better, was a continuous supply of Vicodin prescriptions. I had the shoulder repaired again, and got more opiates. As time has gone on, there have been various injuries that have required prescriptions for opiates. I have never refused or disclosed my predilection for addiction.

I found that alcohol and opiates were the perfect combination to keep me numb. As long as I had my wine and a pill or two, I was happily high, and nothing bothered me. I could drink and drug and never have to bother with any of the myriad of bothersome, hurtful issues that life consists of.

I had a year of opiate sobriety until two days ago. I found my husbands percocets that he had gotten when he had kidney stones last year. I had previously requested that they be hidden, which they were, (which in itself is pathetic to me, but that is another post) but we are away, and they aren’t hidden well, so I found them.

Then life happened, which it has a habit of doing, so I took 2 percocets. Never one, always 2, 1/2 at a time, spread out over the evening. Naturally, the self loathing was there immediately the following morning.The sick feeling,and the abject sadness at having relapsed after having a year of sobriety with pills.

As I am sitting here, life is coming in fast and furious once again. Things are ramping up to a place where I have no control. Control is my thing, as I believe it is for every addict. I still know where the perocects are, so I am telling you. I am telling anyone who is reading this that I am thinking about taking a percocet to make these feelings go away.

I am also thinking about how shitty I will feel if I do that, so for this moment, I am not going to do it. I am going to finish this post, then go do fold some laundry, and get through the next moment, then the next, until this feeling passes.

And then when my husband gets home, I am going to tell him I found them, and to please hide them again. That is what I am going to do.

Not Drinking–The Superpower by Tommy Rosen

I haven’t had much to say lately, just living life on life’s terms and getting by one day at a time.

I saw this online today, and it really resonated with me.

I hope you all enjoy it.

A few years ago, my wife, Kia Miller, led a yoga retreat for about 30 people in Costa Rica. Six of us there were in recovery from addiction. Within a day, we kind of discovered each other, as we often do. It usually happens through certain telltale words and phrases that we have come to use as a result of our involvement in 12-Step recovery.

One night, we decided to have a meeting amongst ourselves and gathered around an out-of-the-way table. Another man in our group saw us together there and humbly asked if he could sit in. He had never been to a 12-Step meeting, but wanted to experience it. We were grateful to have him join.

One by one we briefly shared about our journey in recovery to this point. The shares were honest and powerful. There was a feeling of true connection. We were at once completely different from one another, yet so much the same.

The newcomer shared last and by this point he had heard a lot more than I think he was ready for. Hesitantly and with an apologetic demeanor, he stated that he drank regularly and had no intention of stopping. He explained further that he drank pretty much every evening. Sometimes he would get good and drunk. Other times just a little bit. He did admit that he was a bit concerned about the frequency and amount he was drinking, but despite his concerns, he was adamant that drinking was a normal part of life and he mostly enjoyed it. With each sentence, as he further bolstered his position, he kept apologizing for himself while the rest of us encouraged him to simply state his truth.

When the meeting was over, he took me to the side and said, “Tommy, I’m so sorry for what I did.”

“What did you do?” I asked sincerely.

He said, “You all are not able to drink and here I am, a guy who is stating that I can drink. I’m rubbing it in your faces. I can only imagine that this must be hard for you all.”

There was this awkward moment where I realized he thought we were jealous of him. I felt terrible for him in that moment. From his point of view, a life without drinking alcohol could not be a good life and anyone who HAD to stay sober must be terribly jealous of those fortunates who could happily imbibe. He could not conceive of the idea that we were truly happy and content NOT to be drinkers. He could not imagine that we would not change places with him under any circumstances.

This was a profound exchange for me. I saw through this man’s perspective how most of our society thinks. The majority of people in the United States drink alcohol regularly. Most people who drink think that people who don’t drink are, at best, missing something and, at worst, are living in what they imagine to be a depressed state of sobriety. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I have not had a drug or drink for 23 years. When I first gave up those things, I, too, was in a deluded state of mind where I could not imagine life without alcohol and drugs. How would I get through the day? How would I connect with anyone? What would I do to pass the time? What would I do to cut my anxiety? The life I had known and built for myself revolved around drugs and alcohol. Thus, it was impossible at that moment for me to know what a life could be without those things.

I remember what it felt like to be in the “in between” phase. I knew I could not continue to live the way I had been, but I preferred to try to make it work than surrender to the idea that I had to let go of my way of life (read: my precious drugs and alcohol) and build something new.

This is the great challenge for anyone who gets sober. One must build a new way of being seemingly from scratch without knowing in advance what this is going to look like and how it is going to feel. To get clean and sober is to build a new identity, one much more rooted in truth and presence than illusion and avoidance. At first it is challenging, but ultimately it is immensely rewarding. And I believe this would be the case for nearly anyone, not just alcoholics and addicts who have to give it up.

I was speaking with my friend, Grant Johnson, recently who a little over a year ago, decided to stop drinking alcohol. Grant does not consider himself to be an alcoholic, but he did not like the overall effect that alcohol was having on his life. He let it go and now has had a year of experience with a different approach. This is not a person who, quietly desperate, counts the minutes till he can drink again. In fact, he is not thinking about it. He’s just out there living his life and reaping the benefits of a person who happens not to drink. Grant told me that to not drink is such an act of strength that he actually considers it to be a “superpower”. I just love that.

If you are like me and had to get sober, you may come to know that “in between” phase. It might just suck for a while as you develop a new life for yourself. Hang in there and allow yourself to develop. It takes time and therefore patience. It takes action and vigilance. It takes support and love.

While there are those people who unfortunately get stuck in recovery and do not grow beyond their misery, this is neither the norm, nor necessary. Do not fall prey to the mistaken idea that people in recovery and others who simply decide not to drink are miserable and longing to drink again.

The emphasis has to be on well-being. My recovery mantra is: “Don’t just survive addiction. Thrive in recovery.” I believe people in recovery must work toward the great shift from staying sober out of fear and necessity to staying sober out of love for the life they get to live as the result of staying sober. Once a person has made this shift, it is very likely they will excel in life.

My story is different than Grant’s. I had to stop because drugs and alcohol nearly killed me, but today, Grant and I share something in common. We have developed a superpower. Neither of us drinks and we are not concerned about whether we ever do again.

500 DAYS

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That is 500 bottles of wine, give or take a few.  That is $5000.00, give or take $10.00 or $20.00 bucks.  That is something I never though I would see or be able to do.

I never imagined on 11/30/2013 when I decided to quit drinking that I would still be sober 500 days later.  I had had enough.  I was tired of feeling crappy, hating mornings, hating my relationships, hating the world, hating myself.  I was sick of sitting on the couch night after night, deep into a bottle of wine, wondering what “normal” people do.  I was tired of looking at people doing wonderful things,being successful, and questioning whether they drank a bottle of wine every night too.  I was sick of myself.  I was sick and disgusted at what I had become.

I have no idea what clicked in my head on that day in November, or why I have been successful this time around.  I often spend time trying to put my finger on the catalyst.  Why this time, what was different?  I still do not know.  I imagine the Universe had a different plan for me, and decided that it was time for it to begin.

The past 16 months have had a lot of challenges.  Life is challenging, but it seems as though mine got more so once I got sober.  Maybe I was just more aware of it because I was sober.  In the past I would have used any challenges life threw at me as an excuse to drink excessively, but I didn’t, I stayed sober.  It wasn’t easy, it still isn’t at times, yet here I am, still sober after 500 days.

That being said, and hopefully not to be too boring, here is another list of the things I have learned thus far:

  • The first three months of sobriety suck.  They really, really, really, suck, suck suck.  At least that is my personal experience.
  • The above is what helps keep me sober.  I do not want to have to EVER feel that way again.
  • I have to BELIEVE.  Believe that it gets better, because it does.  Believe that AA works if you work it, because it does.  Believe that life is better sober, because even when it isn’t, it really IS.  I continue to listen and believe, because so far everything I have been told has been the truth.
  • I don’t have to drink when bad things happen.  I may WANT to drink, I may think I NEED a drink, but I really don’t.  Drinking never made anything bad better, it actually made the bad things worse.  It is just easier to see that now with a clear head and heart.
  • If you go to AA, you really should read the Big Book.  I read most of it in early sobriety, not all of it.  I thought is was outdated and couldn’t help me.  It may have been too soon in my sobriety to have seen it, but the book has a lot of important information in it.  It is all how you interpret it.
  • Sober people are some of the nicest, most giving people out there.  That said, be careful who you choose to confide in,and get close to, not everyone is pure of heart, and it hurts real bad when you find that out.  Especially after sharing intimate details of your life.
  • What you hear hear, does not always stay here.  That sucks, it is shocking when you find out you are being talked about outside the room.  Unfortunately this happened to me, and I still can’t get my head around it.
  • Life is a marathon not a race, and so is sobriety.  Cliche, I know.  I am a runner, so I am always about racing to the finish line, getting it done, being first.  I can’t do that with this process.  Things have unfolded over time, on its own.  It doesn’t matter how much I want it, it comes to me when I am ready for it to be revealed.
  • I often wonder if people who aren’t addicts work on themselves as much as addicts do.  Or do they already know all of this stuff?  Do they have this life thing figured out?
  • I am much more sensitive to people being assholes than I was before.  Probably because I was an asshole too.  I am far from perfect, but at least I am trying.  When I find that I am being and asshole, I apologize immediately.  Something I have learned in sobriety.
  • Sobriety is like a see-saw.  It has its highs and lows.  Anything else is unrealistic.  I was unrealistic frequently.  I thought, I am now sober, bring on all the great things.  It doesn’t work that way.  It is still life.
  • I started out being a non believer.  No higher power, no spiritual guidance, nothing, just me, powering through it all, all alone.  That has changed.  No one is more amazed by this than me.  I still am not comfortable with some of the verbiage,especially the word God, but I sincerely believe that the wind that is in my sails is not by chance.
  • Having an attitude of gratitude is a much better way to live.  Instead of negative thinking, I work hard at finding the good in any situation.  (Although I am still stymied by the fact that my mother is dead, I have found nothing good there.)
  • I freaked out my home group when I told them I wanted to drink.  I didn’t really WANT to drink, I wanted to not feel the way I was feeling, and the go to has always been to drink.  It was nice to know how much they care about me, and how much support they really give me.
  • I don’t know if I put my sobriety FIRST every day, I am not sure what that really means.  I do have a sobriety counter on my phone that greets me each morning with how many days I have been sober.  That has worked for me so far.
  • I am still uncomfortable with sober firsts.  I guess that will continue until there are no more firsts to be had.
  • I no longer need pats on the back or accolades about how well I am doing.  The only person I am doing this for is me.

500 days sober.  All strung together in one row.

And on I go.

BEGINNING AND ENDINGS

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I got sober 15 months and 28 days ago.  Getting sober was an ending to my drinking, my hungover self-loathing, my afternoon naps, and diligently watching the time waiting for wine o’clock,so I could begin the ugly cycle again.  Getting sober was the beginning of becoming healthier; mentally and physically.  I began to be responsible for my actions, and feelings.  I started to develop better, deeper and more open personal relationships with the people I care about.  Getting sober meant I had to deal with life on life’s terms, and feel those feelings I had been drowning in alcohol and prescription narcotics.  Although not always easy, fun or even something I want to do, getting sober feels like it was the beginning of me as a real person.  In retrospect, I wish I had had the fortitude to do it much sooner.

I have had one heck of a sober first year.  I have written a lot about seeking and believing in a higher power. I have had great difficulty understanding giving my life over to this unknown anomaly and basically not being a believer.  Looking back over the last 15 months of my life, I now have a distinct impression that I have had a guiding hand on my back the whole time.  I have been through a lot of personal and emotional turmoil in the last 15 months.  There have been beginnings and endings and beginnings again.  The timing of these events has been unprecedented, and on a linear aspect, quite amazing the way it has all played out.

My life has come full circle,an ending has come to the new beginning that started 7 years ago.  We have just sold our house in Tennessee and are moving back north to New York.

New York is where my relationship with my husband began.  We ended our time there for a new beginning in the south with my son.  He has since grown up, ended his time here, and begun anew in Illinois.  His leaving the nest was very painful for me.  I knew my job was to raise him with wings to fly, yet when it was time for him to use those wings, I wanted to clip them and keep him with me, I was not ready for the ending to this chapter of my life.  He is flourishing in his new beginning, he is happy, making great money, and becoming the person I always knew he could be, what a great beginning.

When I ended my life in Massachusetts, I left my mother behind, as my son left me, it was time for me to move my life into a new beginning with a new husband and a new home.  Experiencing the beginnings and endings in my mothers life were fraught with emotion.  In September of 2013, I moved my healthy mother from Massachusetts to Virginia.  In August of 2014, I moved my moderately sick mother from Virginia to Missouri.  In February, upon her death, I was tasked with the chore of culling through her things yet again.  My brother and I distributed, packed, stored and threw away the contents of my mothers life. I was involved in all of my mother’s new beginnings.  Overwhelmingly followed by her devastating ending.

Throughout this time, I have been o loop
bserving my father in law head toward his ending  He is now 99 1/2 years old and still living alone.

Our new beginning is going back for the ending.  We are moving in with him to help him.  We both know this is the beginning of the end for him, that is why we have made the decision to return north.

We will again experience a new beginning, we are lucky, right now it is on hold, the ending has to come first.

RECOVERY ACRONYMS

F.I.N.E.
[I’m] Frustrated, Insecure, Neurotic, Emotional

F.E.A.R.
F
ace Everything And Recover

N.U.T.S.
N
ot Using The Steps

E.G.O.
E
dging God Out.

D.E.N.I.A.L.
D
on’t Even Notice I Am Lying.

H.A.L.T.
[Don’t get too] Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.

H.O.P.E.
H
appy Our Program Exists

H.O.W.
H
onesty, Open-mindedness, Willingness

S.P.O.N.S.O.R.
Sober Person Offering Newcomers Suggestions On Recovery.

G.O.D.
Good Orderly Direction

B.I.G. B.O.O.K.
Believing In God Beats Our Old Knowledge.

S.L.I.P.
Sobriety Losing Its Priority.

A.C.T.I.O.N.
Any Change To Improve Our Nature.

P.R.O.G.R.A.M.
People Relying On God Relaying A Message.

S.T.E.P.S.
Solutions To Every Problem Sober

K.I.S.S.
Keep It Simple, Sweetheart