Looking for Healing in All the Wrong Places

Please tell me you’ve heard the song Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places“. It’s not one of my all-time favorite country songs, but it gets the point across. People tend to wander around looking for love aimlessly until they stumble upon it in a place they never suspected.

Well, healing is the perfect word to insert into the song, representing kind of the same thing. We learn to find things, whether destructive to our lives or not, that distract us from the reason we are hurting in the first place. We self-medicate with booze or other drugs. (The destructive kind of coping – which leads to no healing at all.) There are also people who self-medicate with the busyness of life and planning and going and doing. (These behaviors may not seem destructive on the surface, but they can wear you down just as fast as the obvious toxic coping mechanisms.)

I’ve looked for healing in ALL the wrong places, trust me. I binge drank for years, only to let the “real me” escape when I felt drunk enough to blame whatever came out of my mouth on the fact I was so trashed. I volunteered and organized every event at my kids’ schools, to keep myself from focusing on my crumbling marriage. I devoted too much time to running and working out when I should have been sitting in silence figuring out how I really felt. (Maybe I was trying to literally run away from my problems? But they eventually found me.)

There are so many other ways we self-medicate and try to heal ourselves, but until we get down to the root of our issues there won’t be true peace.

One day at a time, my friends.

Progress not perfection, folks!

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Drunk Dreams and Sober Daymares

When my husband first quit drinking, it was a difficult first few months. He would wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat because he was getting hammered in his dreams. He has asked me several times if I experience these kinds of dreams and the answer is not really.

I have had a few dreams that make me feel shame and anxiety and definitely pissed me off to no end, but constant dreams of me drinking way too much hasn’t been an issue for me. Daymares on the other had, those have been insufferable for a long time.

Worry is an emotion that lingers way too long around me, like a fog that comes and goes as it pleases. Even as a child I worried about leaving my homework at home, forgetting to study for a spelling test, and not making the volleyball team. To this day, I still worry about minuscule things that don’t really have a lot of impact on my actual life. But when it comes to drinking, I worry about everyone.

I worry that my brother will have one too many beers and get pulled over right as his breath hits that limitation and he’ll go to jail, never seeing his daughter again. I worry that the strangers at the restaurant downing margaritas will forget that the streets downtown are all one-ways and they may head into traffic going the opposite direction. I worry that the man who seems too uptight when he’s sober will strike his wife when he falls under the influence of intoxication.

Worry. Worry. Worry.

But at the end of the day, I have no control over any of it. So what do I do? I have to let go and let God…otherwise I will drive myself crazy…all of the time!

Reflecting on How Things Used to Be

I don’t know about you, but I thank God every day that my life is drastically different than it was in the past. I’m not saying that this is something self-promoting and I’m awesome for realizing what a disaster my life used to be. Just simply stating how grateful I am to not have to live that kind of lifestyle any more.

“What kind of lifestyle?” you ask. Let me paint you a little picture.

Several years ago, almost 4 to be exact, I was living a life of total chaos, only I didn’t realize it until the ticking time bomb was ready to detonate right in front of my face. My marriage was collapsing right in front of me, I was binge drinking on the weekends to drown my sorrows, I wasn’t getting where I wanted to be with my career, I was dying inside emotionally from the passive-aggressive/co-dependent relationship I had created and encouraged with my husband, and I was just downright unhappy with where my future was headed.

Needless to say, I wasn’t happy with myself or where my future was headed. I needed to make a change. I had spent so long trying to change everyone else around me – my husband, my parents pending separation and divorce, and even the uncontrollable situations at work – that I forgot I’m only in control of myself. Realizing only I can make changes in my life, I finally felt that time had come.

I’m happy to report that today our marriage is solid and strong with a foundation we tore down and rebuilt ourselves from the ground up. We are different people today than we would have been had we not decided to drastically change our lives. I quit my job that was ultimately toxic and very hazardous to my life and my marriage. We made a fresh start in a new community and continue to keep growing and improving ourselves.

What’s your story? How are you different today than you were 5 years ago? 10 years ago? 

To Drink or Not to Drink

Life as a stay-at-home isn’t all that glamorous. (Shocking, I know!) I’m not waiting to go to dinner parties when my husband gets home from work, or trying to get ready for the ball everyone other weekend. I try to get out of the house as much as possible and go places that both work for my schedule and help me get stuff done – the gym, the grocery store, the post office, etc. (Calm down. I know I should have told you beforehand this was riveting stuff!)

There are some people, moms specifically, who choose to get together ever so often for drinks or a “girls night”. (Although, I do know some moms who may meet too early in the afternoon, on a school night, to call it “girls night”. But I digress.) 

For a multitude of reasons, I don’t go to these types of gatherings. I’ve been invited to go to an early dinner at a beautiful winery to enjoy the scenery. Pass. I’ve been asked to go have margaritas at the local Mexican food joint. No thanks.

So, why not go? Maybe you are thinking, “You don’t have to drink. You have enough will power to just say no. Just go and be social.” There are two reasons why I don’t and won’t go to these kinds of activities.

  1. I still don’t 1,000% trust myself when I’m sucked into the vortex off a girls’ night out. (Plus, have you seen girls when they get sloppy drunk? And you want me to be the DD and take care of everyone? No thanks!)
  2. Drinking and being around drinking has a very personal connection with me. I realize some people have a healthy relationship with alcohol and can stand to be near it, but I am no such people. I don’t like to smell it. I don’t like to see what it does to people. And I especially don’t like it when people offer you something to drink, you politely respond with “No thanks. I don’t drink,” and then that’s followed with the infamous question, “Not even a glass of wine?”

I realize this may not apply to everyone’s situations and my reasons may be completely different than yours, but they are valid nonetheless. Don’t put yourself in awkward positions unless you are 1,000% comfortable in your own skin and know that you are in control of yourself.

Getting to Know Yourself a Little Bit Better

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…

Motivated, Encouraged, and Still a Little Scared

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.

 

So What Are All those Numbers?

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.

Addictions (General)

  • 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.

Alcohol Addiction

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.