I want to be perfectly transparent here, I don’t follow the Twelve Steps program. I don’t go to meetings regularly. I haven’t check-listed things that I need to do on a personal inventory. Maybe I should, but I haven’t to date.
The reason I tell you this is because I want to be honest here. As much as I speak about recovery and being a better version of myself, I don’t know the ins and outs of the AA program. I know what my husband has been through and what he continues to practice on a daily basis. Other people in the program have also shared with me their life changing stories.
I may not have a first hand testimony of someone whose life was changed from the program, but I guarantee you I am an advocate for AA. There are so many people I know who have been touched by the program that it would be silly not to endorse such a strong recovery organization.
There are also people I know who have entered into rehabilitation centers and saw incredible results. The seclusion from the influence of the world helped them gain the perspective they needed to get sober.
Whatever your need is, or the need of someone you care about, I urge you to look into your options. There is no need to suffer alone. Even if AA or a rehab center isn’t for you, please talk to someone.
One day at a time…
There are millions of reasons why I fall short of being perfect. I won’t bore you with a list all of them here, but I will focus on one thing in particular I’ve been working on: judging others.
Every since I became sober, I’ve had issue with other people who drink. It’s not that I think they are making terrible life decisions and will wake up regretting having that beer or glass of wine or shot of whiskey. It boils down to jealousy. Not jealousy that they get to partake in the act of drinking alcoholic beverages. What I’m jealous of is the ability to have self control with alcohol.
I’m sure that sounds silly and childish, but it’s the truth. I wish I had self control when it comes to drinking, but I don’t. Period, the end.
Where I struggle with judgement is believing everyone else has a “problem” too, only because that makes me mentally feel better. It means I’m not weak. It means I’m not the only one who struggles with self control. I guess in a way it’s my subconscious telling me I’m better than the people who drink because I don’t drink.
In reality, everyone has their own struggles. I just happen to struggle with judging others. By declaring this character flaw though, I’m made more aware of the constant effort I need to invest in myself to continue to improve.
Progress, not perfection. One day at a time.
You may be wondering why I tend to “look back” at the past often instead of gazing out longingly to my bright future. Well, the truth is, I’m still healing. I’m still dealing with a lot of crap from my past (some stuff goes WAY back) that I never dealt with when I was younger. I guess I didn’t know how.
So, yes. I’m going to talk about old stuff again here today. You want to know the real truth, though? Processing painful stuff from my past couldn’t happen at any other time in my life as it can now.
For the first time in my life, I can think more clearly and decipher between the emotions I was feeling at those dark times several years ago. Now, I can see that I wasn’t just sad, I felt betrayed. I wasn’t ignoring my feelings, I was burying them. I wasn’t always a bright and sunny happy girl, but I wanted to make sure everyone else thought so.
This stuff runs deep within my veins and being unable to attend therapy sessions like I probably should be doing, I’m sharing them here. In hopes that someone else may benefit or someone may have an emotional “aha” moment themselves, I will continue to show up here and share my thoughts.
There are bits and pieces that I will rescue from the wreckage that is my earlier years, but I feel like the most important part is forgiving myself. Not learning from my past, I am still pretty harsh on the previous decisions I’ve made. Instead, I need to focus on the good back then and what I want to salvage to take with me into the future.
Have you ever had someone come up to you and let you know that you’re being completely unreasonable and unpleasant today? (Maybe they don’t say it in such a nice way…) Do you know when you’re being completely unreasonable and unpleasant? (Sometimes I don’t notice my behavior until my husband points it out.)
The reason I ask these questions is because maybe we don’t know ourselves as good as we think we do some days. We don’t always have to have a 100% spot on/no mistakes kind of day, but we also shouldn’t swing to the other end of the pendulum every five minutes either.
I have mood swings. [GASP!] Shocker I know…a woman with mood swings. But I’ve gotten to the point in my life where I take someone else’s perspective for my own behavior or attitude when I can’t see it. Some days I’m overtly irritable and I don’t even notice until my husband asks me for the 10th time, “Are you sure nothing is bothering you?” From which my initial mental reaction is, “You’re bothering me with all of these questions!” Hence, this is when I realize I’m being extra cranky!
The point to all of this is to know your emotions a little bit better today than you did yesterday. Know when you need to give yourself a “timeout” and step away from the chaos to gather yourself. None of us are perfect (by any stretch of the imagination), but that doesn’t mean we can’t keep improving.
Progress, not perfection…
Sometimes we have to motivate ourselves to simply get out of bed. Sometimes we spring right up with no hesitation. Why is that? Maybe you are excited about something fun you are doing or you are going to have lunch with someone special you haven’t seen in a while. Maybe you are motivated and inspired to get to work because you absolutely love what you do! (That’s the dream for everyone, right?)
Hopefully you have found some sort of motivation in your life where you can turn to when things start getting tough. Maybe it’s a friend. Maybe it’s a sponsor. Maybe it’s a family member who has loved you through all of your life’s ups and downs. Maybe it’s an internal motivation you find when you take better care of yourself. Whatever the case may be, please continue to look for new ways of motivation each and every single day.
With all of that being said, I believe it’s perfectly normal to be motivated and encouraged with all of your life’s endeavors and still have a little fear. I’m not talking about the crippling fear that controls your life and keeps you trapped in a deep, dark hole. I’m talking about the kind that makes you question your own motives. The kind of fear that for a split second makes you wonder if you are making the right decision.
This kind of fear is more of a pass-through tool. It’s not meant to come in and set up shop in our lives. It’s meant to enter our consciousness, make sure we are paying attention, and then say adios before we’ve finished our next thought. It is just the right amount of fear. It’ll keep us on our toes, but also keep us aware of the decisions we are making.
If you are a seasoned veteran of any kind of recovery program, I’m sure you know by know that addiction comes with underlying issues. But I’ve been doing some research and came across some interesting stats for everyone today.
Here is what I found from The Addiction Center’s website.
- Over 20 million Americans over the age of 12 have an addiction (excluding tobacco).
- 2.6 million people with addictions have a dependence on both alcohol and illicit drugs.
- 9.4 million people in 2011 reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs.
- 6.8 million people with an addiction have a mental illness.
- Over 90% of those with an addiction began drinking, smoking or using illicit drugs before the age of 18.
Alcoholism is one of the most common addictions affecting Americans. It is also an addiction that goes untreated in many cases because of the legality of the substance. However, the recorded rates of alcoholism are decreasing (18.1 million people in 2002 to 16.7 million in 2011), but the addiction is still a cause for concern.
- Binge drinking is more common in men; 9.1% of men 12 and older reported heavy drinking 5 or more days in a month, while 2.6% of women reported this.
- Over 11% of Americans have driven under the influence.
- Out of 16.6 million people with alcoholism, 2.6 million were also dependent on an illicit substance.
- It is estimated that over 95% of those who need treatment for alcoholism do not feel they need treatment.
- More people receive treatment for alcohol than any other substance.
- Over 30% of those who received treatment in 2011 reported using public or private health insurance to pay for treatment.
(All information can be found at The Addiction Center)
Maybe you already knew these stats. (I didn’t!) Or maybe everything is all new to you. PLEASE get help if you need it. PLEASE find a loving and supportive group of people to help you through this journey of life.
For more information on addiction and recovery programs, visit Alcohol Treatment & Rehab.
Have you ever been to a wedding , birthday party, or reception of some sort when you realize everyone is totally wasted? Or maybe not even wasted. Maybe everyone is to the point where they are beginning to slur their words. Maybe someone stumbles every now and then or really bad dancing is going on from the shyest person in the room. That’s when you know it’s THAT time of the party.
The time that I am no longer serving my purpose as a participant of the celebration. It’s usually the time after all of the important things have happened – cutting of the cake, singing “Happy Birthday”, or opening gifts.
It’s the time when someone has non-verbally declared the original party over and the “after-party” just beginning. That’s my cue to leave.
You see, it doesn’t bother me to be around drinking when I’m serving a purpose. Being a supportive friend; celebrating a distant cousin’s new marriage; or even being a part of the family get-together. But what does bother me is when everyone stops making sense and I can see trouble on the horizon.
“No thanks. I’ve been there and done that wayyyyy too many times to count. I’ll be going now. It’s been great catching up with you, but I have to go because I’ll remember the next day all of the idiotic things that will happen here tonight and I really would rather just go to bed.” These are just some of the thoughts that have crossed my mind.
So know your purpose. Know when your threshold for “fun” is up. Don’t even let that temptation have a chance to sink into your lips or entice you with its aroma. Know when it’s time to say, “Bu-bye!”