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.

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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? 

Day 1 – Reacting to Conditions

Sunday

Sunday (Photo credit: ex.libris)

I have this great book called, “365 Excuse Me…” which is a daily thought book.  There is a quote for each day of the year and a short blurb about the quote.  I do not read this book every day, but when I do, turn through the pages until I find something that suits me.

I had a great heart to heart with my daughter Sunday night, and after picking the book up, happened to flip to the page that said this:

“As long as we’re reacting to conditions, something will always be wrong.”

How awesome is that?!

Basically, that quote means we cannot change anything that goes on around us.  We can only change how we think, which changes how we feel.  We can choose how we react to a particular situation!  Way freaking cool, man!

It took me years to figure this out!

Quick example:  I am in traffic and someone cuts me off.  I can either yell expletives and flip him off, thereby ruining most of my morning, or I can say to myself, “Gee, I guess he is in a hurry.” Shrug it off and just go about my route to wherever.

I have no control over what the guy did!  I only have control over my reaction to what happened.  Period.

Are you able to control your reaction to outside events? 

Kensington Blues – A Hardcore Photo Blog

El fly-by

El fly-by (Photo credit: Tim McFarlane)

So a friend of mine told me about this blog called Kensington Blues.  I thought, “hey, I’m from Philly, knew a lot of ‘Kenso’s’ growing up after junior high school, this should be interesting.”

Interesting was an understatement after I saw the photos of addicts on the streets of Kensington.  I forced myself to look into their eyes of quiet desperation.  My eyes darted over the real-life backdrops of littered streets, graffiti covered buildings and the devastating picture of Nichol who looks no older than fourteen.

Heartbreaking.

The truth is no one wants a life on the street, selling their ass to get high or peddling for change to get another fix.  Life just goes that way for some.  I can’t explain it and I know in my heart that any of those women could have been me.  That stark reality is forever at the forefront of my mind when I see a bottle of booze or happen to be within earshot of someone talking about drugs.

It is a life to which no one aspires.  Sometimes it creeps in like a slow, ugly plague.  Other times, it punches you in the throat when you’re thrown out of the house at eighteen or molested by a trusted adult.

Us addicts and alcoholics spent many minutes on our knees, begging God for salvation or death, whichever should come first.

Please, take a look at the blog.  The life of an addict isn’t always some fancy story surrounded by a dysfunctional family in a three bedroom rancher portrayed on ‘Intervention.’  It can be much darker and sadistic.

See for yourself.

Relapse – A Painful Truth

Relapse is a harsh reality in the world of recovery.  There are a million reasons people give for relapse but the number one I hear everywhere I go is this:  RESENTMENT.  Someone who follows my blog sent me a fascinating, short video about relapse.  If you’re interested, watch it.  Profound, it sticks to the point.

Video Infographic by Clarity Way

The disheartening truth is that addicts and alcoholics relapse long before they pick up again.  A switch goes off and the obsession kicks back into the brain.  The obsession leads to the compulsion to drink or drug.  Once the compulsion is acted upon, it is off to the races.

Please, watch the video, visit the website if you wish, and leave your thoughts in the comment section!  I’d love to hear from you.

Have a blessed day.

Happy Summer Solstice!

The sun behind the Heel Stone at Stonehenge, s...

The sun behind the Heel Stone at Stonehenge, shortly after sunrise on the summer solstice.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes!  Happy Summer Solstice everyone… today is the 21st day of June 2013.  Being so, I decided I have been way too damn negative and I need to amp up my positive vibes!

While it is extremely easy for us to get into a slump it is just as easy to step out of that dark hole and count the blessings God bestows upon us each day!

Therefore, since it is the first day of summer, I am calling this “New Attitude Day.” No matter how down we get on ourselves sometimes, or how crappy we feel, there is always… always something to be grateful for.  It could be something monumental or something as simple as having toothpaste.  You get the idea…

Today is a gorgeous day here on the East Coast… filled with warm sunshine, cool breezes, chirping birds, a bright blue sky and tons of other things – all reminding me that there is a God…

Amazing things happen when we lose the “poor me” attitude and get grateful!

What are you grateful for today?

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.

I Am Deactivated

Facebook logo

Facebook logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes… I finally deactivated my Facebook account.  I’ll tell you why.  Because a person like me should not be on a thing, succubus, demon .. whatever you want to call it.  It is a huge time suck that frustrates and upsets the hell out of me.  I was on there today and thought, ‘Why the frig am I torturing myself like this?”

I have a body image problem and being on Facebook does NOT HELP.  Seeing all my boyfriends new recent friends that are female DOES NOT HELP.  Airbrushed images of almost nude women posted by groups and friends does not help.

All of it hinders me, makes me feel bad about myself and then I isolate and rerun old tapes in my head about “why I am not good enough.”

It’s bullshit.  I don’t need it.  I don’t want it.  So I am on a Facebook Hiatus indefinitely.  I will definitely be blogging more!  I landed an internship with a Philadelphia online music magazine so I am stoked about that! I sent my novel to an editor and am still writing for brutalism.com.

I have way too much positive, substantial stuff going on for myself.  I refuse to ruin it for me.  And since I know me these days (like really know me) I know what makes me happy, sad, jealous, confused, angry, etc… so I am off to work on that and stay away from one of the triggers.

Peace out friends!!  You’ll be hearing from me a little more in the near future.

Love, Darlene

Life and Life Stuff

A copy photograph of the portrait painted by O...

A copy photograph of the portrait painted by Oscar Halling in the late 1860’s of Edgar Allan Poe.

God willing, I will have a 7th Anniversary of being clean and sober on May 26th of this year.  I haven’t been blogging consistently, and I am truly sorry for that.  I have so much stuff going on in terms of kids, other writing obligations and “life stuff.”

But for now, I am going to focus on the writing aspect of my life.  Pull up a chair and a cup of your favorite beverage if you wish.

I started writing around the age of nine or ten I guess.  I remember writing my first book report about “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allen Poe in grade school.  I fell in love with the story, and Poe, and looked forward to writing more book reports (yes I was a geeky child)!  I started keeping a diary and wrote silly little stories about my friends inside.

As I grew and matured (using that term loosely), I stopped writing unless it was a letter in school to one of my BFF’s or a boy.

In my early twenties, I actually wrote my first novel.  It is unpublished to this date and only a lone printed, bound copy remains.  Most of that novel was written while drunk because I inherently felt I could only write when I was chemically altered.

Fast forward about four years and I decided to go to college at night as an English Major and wound up switching my major to Behavioral Health with a focus on addiction for the rest of my term.  Ironic.

So I wrote off and on, off and on for a number of years.  I kept many journals and diaries both hard copy and internet bound.  I wrote a lot of poetry.  Dark disturbing words (again always drunk and angry) I wrote steady over the course of a week.  I wrote about 130 poems in those seven days.  That is floating around somewhere as well.

I even had one published in a local newspaper!

Here it is:

Reality and fantasy, truth and lies.

When I’m awake I forget real, and fantasize.

When I speak my mind, I speak it well.

When I talk back, I listen even better.

When I hear other voices, I try to ignore.

Don’t tell me what to say, don’t tell me what to do.

I’m done listening to you; all you speak is tainted.

I’m stained with lies, marked by deceit.

My eyes are wicked, my grin is cold.

You look at me, but you can’t look long.

You’re so weak.  Ha!

Try to tell me you’re strong.

I laugh so loud inside, you can’t hear me.

But I can.

Reality and fantasy, I like to fantasize.

Reality is too much for me, I like my peace.

I like to be alone whenever I can.

So no one hears my whispers as I answer myself…

Again and again.

That is my first official published piece of anything.  I remember how excited I felt.  My mom got a bunch of the papers and framed a copy of the poem for me.  That copy sits on my dresser today and I look at it sometimes because I get caught up in life stuff and my dreams slip away.

So that’s it for me… for now.  Hope everyone is doing well.. maybe you’d like to tell me what is going on in your neck of the woods?  I’d sure like to hear about you!

Those Damaging Thoughts…

Thinker thinks about how to take sun burst shot

(Photo credit: davidyuweb)

I have always been a thinker… more like an over-thinker.  I get something in my head that is pebble sized and before I know it there is a black boulder sitting in my skull that I want to smash out.  This doesn’t happen as much as it used to (which is scary, because it happens more than I like) and sometimes when it does, I get sucked into that damaging moment and my program goes out the window.  I don’t think about drinking or drugging because I have worked a solid 12 Step Program… but I guess, as much as I hate to admit it, I am human after all.

Shucks.

God has never given me anything I cannot handle.  Sometimes I try to handle the hurdles alone, and that is when I find myself sobbing in a little ball on the couch or my bed.  A light starts to glow in my head and I realize I need to pray, call a friend and journal.

IN THAT ORDER.  

In the last couple weeks I learned that free write journaling does more damage to me because (and someone said it in a comment on my blog) I kinda get locked into that whiny, poor me thinking and get no reflection work done.  If I pray and talk to someone before I journal, I can focus on a solution instead of staying in the problem.  Which, honestly, my thinking is the biggest problem. I get really worked up over dumb stuff because sometimes, that little eleven year old voice in my head chimes, “How you feel does not matter, Darlene.  Shut your mouth and stuff it down.  Stuff it down!

I cannot stuff it down.  Also, I cannot go running to whomever I am upset with and start bitching about all the shit they did that offended me, hurt my feelings, made me angry or whatever.  This is not a good idea.  When I try to communicate to someone before I pray and talk to another sober individual, my thoughts come out of my mouth like verbal vomit.

The gift of interpretation is amazing in my life today.  Instead of fearfully viewing an event as potentially hazardous, if I am in a good place, I can step back and sort the facts from the thoughts and go from there.

How do you stop your negative thinking?

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