Day 4 – Keeping Score

Hopscotch

Hopscotch (Photo credit: Jan Tik)

When I was little I played games like most kids.  Hopscotch, Tag and Freedom were some of my favorites.  As I got older, I joined a few organized sports like softball and basketball.  I was athletic and while I didn’t particularly enjoy losing, I did it gracefully… sometimes.

Somewhere along the way I learned the awful habit of comparing myself to others.  My looks, my education, my material belongings… all of this and more was never good enough, never small enough, never big enough, never pretty enough; it was never enough and there began my dark spiral into the “not’s” as I call them.

Comparisons are like keeping score and I came up short (the loser) every damn time.

Something I’ve learned in sobriety is to compare myself to myself.  Everything about me I need to compare only to myself because, being a good alcoholic, it is easy for me to tailspin into a dark hole of self-doubt and woe-is-me.

“She’s prettier.” “Her boobs are bigger.” “Oh my gosh!  Look how cute her feet are!  I wish I had feet like that!” I mean, it goes on and on and on!  Ugh… I can go from 100 to 0 in less that thirty seconds when I start keeping score in my head.

Keeping score wears on my self-esteem, it shows on my face and most important it drains me.  Luckily, I love to read self-help books, go to meetings and talk with other women.  I have learned when I start to keep score and am learning how to stop.

  • Say the Serenity Prayer.
  • Realize that everyone is beautiful in their own way (including me).
  • I am better than I was a year ago.
  • I am on my own journey, and it is amazing.
  • Focus on my attributes.

These are some of the ways I deal with my “not’s.”  I’m human, so some days are easier than others.

Progress, not perfection.

Day 3 – Worthiness

If you don't see your worth, you'll always cho...

(Photo credit: deeplifequotes)

“The reality – the real reality – is that we are already worthy, there is no test to pass.”

That’s right.  Worthiness.  Self-worth. Feeling worthy. I battled with this demon for decades.  I battle a little less each day and am winning the war. Go me!

Worthiness was all in my mind.  I tied my self-worth to people, places and things for years (like a good alcoholic).  Even after I got sober, I still did this and could not figure out why I wasn’t feeling any different.  Then I started reading my Big Book and a ton of other books.

It clicked.

There is no test to pass!  No one is judging me.  Okay, maybe some people are (human nature), but you know what?  Who cares!  In the end I have to stand before me and my Higher Power and that is all I have to live with.  If I can get to the end of the day and go through my inventory and know that I did the best I could, recognize where I need improvement and give it to a God of my understanding, I have lived my life as intended.

Do you ever feel unworthy?  How do you leap that hurdle? 

Seven Years Sober Today… Wow.

English: Foggy sunrise in San Francisco and Bu...

English: Foggy sunrise in San Francisco and Buteo jamaicensis with a mouse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yep.. I almost had to pinch myself this morning.  I am seven years clean and sober today by the Grace of God and the amazing people he continues to bless me with.   Today (and for the last three days) are days that I feel so great inside… inside.  Someone commented on my Facebook status that I should be proud.  I AM PROUD! :)  Holy hell, if you would have known me seven years ago you would have went screaming into the sun, moon, stars… whatever.  The point is, I was an ugly person.. not because of my physical appearance (although this day seven years ago I wasn’t looking too hot) but because of the person I was inside.

I took so many hostages, lied to so many people and used anyone and anything to get what I needed.  It was all about me and fuck everyone else.  Even after my first couple weeks not picking up a drink or a drug, I was still like that.  Getting sober for me was about more than just putting down a substance. It was about learning a new way to live.

Thanks to God, my program and the amazing people who God has put in my life I am living a new way; an easier, softer way which in essence, is hard, gratifying work.

T – Truth… Speaking My Own

truth by size

truth by size (Photo credit: Will Lion)

I was always a people pleaser.  Always… I couldn’t stand to be disliked so I would keep my feelings buried and wear that plastic smile, laugh that fake laugh and do what it took to gain acceptance.  This is probably the worst thing I have ever done to myself.  This is worse than sleeping with strangers, driving like a maniac or even breaking a window (on purpose).  Because by not speaking my truth, I fortified a wall of lies around my soul that I still chip at today.

I suck at speaking my truth.  I get that knot in my stomach and I get all frazzled and start thinking too much.  That’s when my truth turns into a monster.

Now, while I am an average writer,  I suck at talking.  Seriously.  I hold it in so long that by the time I do get it out (sometimes hours or even days later) it comes out all crazy and illogical.  And honestly, at that point I have lost my focus.  This has plagued me since I was little.

Here goes…

Saturday night my boyfriend and I went to a bar & grill.  Ugh, I know.  But his friend (who he hadn’t seen in over twenty years) was playing in a band (with his other long-lost friend) and he just wanted to clear the air with things in the past.  Okay… no biggie.

We talked before we got out of the car and made a pact.  Neither would leave the other under any and all circumstances. Period. If things got hairy or either of us started to feel uncomfortable we would say so and then we would jet. Okay, there is the pact.

That pact lasted about fifteen minutes.  Yeah, he left me sitting at the bar (with my soda and Loaded Nachos) and went to go mingle with all his old friends.  I sat there alone for thirty minutes being ogled by creepy old guys and the ‘shot girl’ asking me three times if I wanted a shot.  My blood pressure shot through the roof the first time she came by with her tray full of booze loaded test tubes. I snapped ‘no’ as I waved my hand.  Still, she came by two more times.  Ugh, again.

So I am trying to see through the wall to locate my boyfriend in the other part of the bar.  “Where the fuck are you?” I am thinking as I get upset.  I can’t see him but hope he is on the other side of that wall.

I finally spot my boyfriend and some hot blonde hanging all over him.  Okay, now I am feeling resentful, angry and jealous.  This is just not fucking going well… at all. My whole ‘fight or flight’ thing is kicking the shit out of me because I am extremely uncomfortable.

I do not belong here.

So finally after all that, he comes back over with one of his friends. I know my face says, ‘you suck’ because, after all, I wear my heart on my sleeve.  His friend apologizes to me for keeping him away. Do I get an apology from my boyfriend? Nope.  All I get is justification and ‘I didn’t do anything wrong.’

For the rest of the night, true to form, I stuffed in all inside because I didn’t want to ruin the night or act like an ass in the establishment.  That’s what I used to do back when I was ‘out there.’ I’d act like a total psycho no matter where I was if whoever I was with at the time hit me with a perceived injustice.  But this time I wasn’t drunk or high.  I was just me… raw and real with my emotions.

So I guess I have grown up a little.  Most of my old behaviors didn’t ooze from my pores and I kept my composure for the rest of the night.  I did try to bring how I felt up later on when we got home, but that didn’t go well.

Today I did bring it up.  I had to speak my truth.  I had to say where I was inside and I had to let him know that I was not mad at him, but that he broke his word to me and that hurt.  And it wasn’t a question of me being right.  That’s not what I wanted.  I wanted an apology for him leaving my side; for him breaking the pact we made in the car.  He did apologize (sort of) after (from an outsider’s point of view) a hilarious argument/discussion/fight outside on Sunday.

Do you find it difficult to speak your truth?

R – Resentment – The Road to Misery

English: Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions

English: Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This post was originally called “Righteousness – The Road to Misery” but I changed it last-minute.  Resentment and righteousness go hand in hand, really. After all, I can’t feel resentful if I am not feeling righteous.  Not to mention, resentment is the number one thing that sends alcoholics and addicts back to a drink or drug no matter how long they have been sober.

I stated in an earlier post how angry I was as a child.  This anger brewed inside me as the decades of my life passed. Realistically, anger for me was always resentment.  I resented:

  • my parents
  • my looks
  • being poor
  • perceived wrongs
  • other people

The list went on for pages.  Then, when I got sober, I was still resentful at everyone and everything.  Sure, I was floating on the pink cloud of newfound freedom from drugs and alcohol.  It was great waking up feeling good – not hung over or dope sick.  But I still had all that resentment and it was eating away at my soul like cancer.

After my pink cloud dissipated into the sun of real life, I was still left with all that resentment!  What to do… how about a Fourth Step?  The Fourth Step works and continues to work today.  See, in all my resentment, anger, jealousy.. etc, I played a part!  I couldn’t believe that.  I mean, how the hell could I play a part in the way my ex-husband treated me years ago or any of the other “injustices” dumped on me?

It was simple and with the help of my sponsor I figured it out.  These days, if I feel resentful I kind of sit in it for a little while (I’m a good alcoholic) but then I really have to do a quick inventory, give it to God and let it go.  This makes for happier days.

How do you handle your resentments?

P – People – They Teach Me A Lot

Wawa Area

Wawa Area (Photo credit: Loimere)

As much as I hated my life until about six years ago, I always loved people.  My first job was at a 7-11 working the 6 am – 3 pm shift and after my shyness and terror wore off, I realized… I love this.  The interaction with the customers was my favorite part of the day.  Even now, working at an accounting firm, as crazy as tax season is, I love when clients come in the office.  There is just something great about being around people.  I always joke that being in nature would be heaven for me, and that really isn’t a joke… really.  I love being around the trees, water and animals.  But people…

While the things I learn from people vary, what is interesting is I learn a lot of behaviors and mannerisms I wish not to have or use. I worked at a Wawa (part-time) as a second job about two years ago.  I loved being on register because of the customers (even the grumpy ones!) and I smiled at everyone that came through my line.  Sometimes there were rude people, and that was okay.  Sometimes there were bratty kids – and bratty adults – who handed me their money in a little rolled up ball (please, if you do this… it is rude.. stop!) But still, I smiled… I loved the people.

One night, a pretty woman a little younger than me came through my line. When I saw her I thought of myself immediately.  Here was this attractive woman, dressed a little provocatively and she was drunk off her ass.  Now, maybe when I was new in sobriety, this would have been a trigger for me, but at this point, it was a sort of epiphany.  I felt sad and embarrassed for her as I rang her up and asked her if she was okay.  She laughed and said something snarky and of course, I just smiled.

After I said a small prayer for her that night before bed, I thanked God for my second chance at life.  I also thanked him for sending that woman through my line as a stark reminder of “what it was like” for me and then remembered “what it is like now.”

It is different and I love it.  I love waking up feeling the same way I went to bed.  I love being able to talk about things without screaming at someone and then drowning my sorrows in booze and drugs.

The people, places and things in my life today are amazing.  Thank you God.. and thank you to everyone else and my program for getting me on with getting on.

How do you handle the interesting people who enter your life on a daily basis?

M – Mostly Mad About Much

English: A metaphorical visualization of the w...

English: A metaphorical visualization of the word Anger. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was an angry kid. Like, pissed off at everyone for everything.  In grade school I beat up the boys and from the ages eleven through thirteen I refused to smile.  In fact, there isn’t a picture of me smiling during that time period.  I hated my home life, my gangly legs, my parents and pretty much everything else.

At thirteen, I discovered Pink Floyd and slit my wrists in my bedroom.  Looking back, it was an unheard cry for help.  The boy I liked said, “you didn’t do it right.” My family swept it under the proverbial carpet.  My angry cries remained unheard.

At fourteen, I still hated myself, but in the summer of 1987, things were finally looking up for me. I was filling out, getting attention from boys and finally finding myself (yeah right).  I started smoking pot, skipping school and conveying my messages of hate to my high school chums.

Anger became a good friend.  It blanketed my fears, worries and insecurity.  I hid behind anger like an unblemished mask never realizing how it destroyed me. Married at sixteen, I learned from my then mother-in-law and her mother, that anger was normal.  These two women were angry about everything. They taught me passive-aggressive behavior and oh how I loved that!

I became an expert at passive-aggressive behavior as I “made people pay” for the “unjusts” they caused me.  But I noticed something.

My scowled face, harsh words and bitter mannerisms fell on myself while everyone went on with their days, blind to my rage.  How could they not feel my rage?  No one gave a damn about my anger.  No one stopped me from self-sabotaging, self-harming with drugs, alcohol and promiscuity.

In fact, I scowled so much in my younger years, I have a permanent frown line between my eyebrows.  People ask me “why are you mad?” or “what’s wrong?” or say, “you always look mad.”  It’s annoying, but some things cannot be helped.

These days, I’m not angry… really. I just have a stark reminder printed on my face of the anger I felt for so long.  These days, I give it to God.

What do you do with your anger?

L – Looking Back – Should I Bother?

en: Photo of a Band-Aid manufactured by Johnso...

en: Photo of a Band-Aid manufactured by Johnson & Johnson. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You’ve heard the sayings… “don’t look back” — “learn from the past” — “the pain heals, but the scars remain” — there are hundreds of sayings that talk about the past.  Looking back on the past kept me in a whirlwind of sorrow and misery.  I would stay there, dwelling and obsessing like a goat over a woolen shirt.  I still do it sometimes and then I think, “what the hell am I doing?!”

Feeling sorry for myself became an art as I sat at the bar, drowning my sorrows yapping about my pathetic life (which was everyone else’s fault, by the way).

I used to be hung up on the “why” of the past.  Why did this happen to me? Where did I go wrong? Why me? WHY ME? WHY ME?!

The trick for me is to look back, learn and move the hell on.

It’s true, I have learned from the past.  I learned that drinking and drugging were transparent band-aids that masked my misery while pouring salt in my wounds. That is a part of my past I cannot forget. Ever.  But, I had to get over it… the pain, the sorrow and especially the feeling sorry for myself.  How would I do that?  After all, I was great at feeling sorry for myself.  I was great at sitting in my own crap while I donned the face of misery and self-pity.

I should bother to look back,  but only to learn and share.

J – Jealousy – Does It Ever Go Away?

When I was about thirteen, I was “dating a boy” and I remember standing on the street corner with him and some friends and this pretty girl walked by.  My “boyfriend” looked at her and I remember getting a twinge in my belly and then dismissing it.  After all, he was only watching a girl walk by.

Allegory of Jealousy

Allegory of Jealousy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fast forward a year to my new boyfriend (and the guy I would marry, have children with and divorce) who took jealousy to a whole new level for me.  I had never been jealous before.  If you had asked me what it meant at that age, I probably couldn’t have told you. I was young, silly and failing at fitting in to any group or click.

Now, after I married this guy and he berated, belittled and abused me, jealousy was something I came to know first hand.  He took to pulling out Playboy magazines and telling me he wished I looked like the women that donned those shiny, seedy pages. Furthermore, he would (for a year) compare me to his ex-girlfriend in every aspect. Each time he did these things (all in the name of love, of course) I felt smaller, less than and wanted to be what he wanted me to be.  I would get that angry little knot in my belly and start mentally beating myself up.

I still struggle with jealousy.  Some people ask me why… and all I can say is, “your perception of me and my perception of me are on different avenues.” People tell me I am beautiful, pretty, smart, etc. And sometimes I really do feel that way.

But all it takes is my perception of beauty, intelligence or confidence to grace my presence in the form of another woman and boom. I’m jealous, insecure and comparing myself.  And I almost always turn it inward.

So I pray, write snippets on ripped pieces of paper and throw them in my God Box.  I talk to my friends in the program about how I feel sometimes.  It helps.  I hope someday to vanquish my jealousy.

I’m definitely better these days… Progress, not perfection.

Do you get jealous?

F – Fear – An Integral Part of Life

Dangerous Risk Adrenaline Suicide by Fear of F...

Dangerous Risk Adrenaline Suicide by Fear of Falling (Photo credit: epSos.de)

When I was little, I wasn’t scared of much, which is kind of scary in itself.  I remember being afraid of my closet and upsetting people.  Oh, and worms… but these days I love worms.  Funny how feelings change.  All my life, while not afraid of objects, heights, scary movies or a bad hair day, I was terrified of hurting others feelings, failing and not measuring up.  Most of us can probably relate to these fears which are normal to an extent.

These fears destroyed me!  My fear of failing caused me to not try. My fear of not wanting to hurt others’ feelings caused me to make choices in my life that were damaging. My fear of not measuring up kept me in toxic relationships because I felt, “hey, I cannot do any better than this!”

Having no fear isn’t healthy, either. I remember when that slogan was everywhere: NO FEAR.  I saw it on pickup trucks, shirts and have even seen a tattoo or two of this slogan.  It is fun to project the ‘no fear’ attitude, but fear is real and sometimes it is there for a reason. Fear is that feeling in the belly that says, “Danger!” It is up to me to assess that fear.

Is my fear legitimate?

I found a fascinating article on the five basic forms of fear here. The interesting this is that they all deal with the death of that crazy thing called EGO.  I suggest reading the article.  It details great explanations of the five basic forms of fear:

  • Extinction
  • Mutilation
  • Loss of Autonomy
  • Separation
  • Ego-Death

In my twelve-step work, I had to take an honest inventory of my fears (which was a fear in itself!) to get to the nitty-gritty of why the hell I could not stop drinking, why I insisted on sabotaging my life and a host of other calamities that caused me unnecessary stress.

When I got the core of my fear of abandonment, rejection and humiliation my life started to change; I started to change.  I asked for a raise.  I left a toxic relationship. I let my guard down and started being me.

As I continue my journey to self-discovery, I still have fears.  After all, that human element is something inherent in me forever.  With the help of God as I understand Him, my program, and the awesome people in my life, I am able to work through those fears and grow.

How do you handle fear?  Do you recognize an irrational fear?

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