Hope – It Keeps Me Hanging On

Music guitar

Music guitar (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Not sure if you ever saw the movie “Shawshank Redemption,” but there is a great scene in that film regarding ‘hope.’  Tim Robbins’ character has it and Morgan Freeman’s character thinks he is hopelessly romancing hope because hope is a heart breaker.

Maybe it depends on the person when it comes to hope.  I used to feel disdain for hope.  Maybe it was because I grouped hope with wishing and praying when I was using and drinking.  Then again, the things I hoped for were things like not getting pulled over by the police while I was high or having twenty extra dollars in my pocket to finish getting my load on. Go figure.

These days ‘hope’ is very different for me.  I do hope for material things like hitting the lottery or waking up one day with big boobs, but I know these things aren’t going to happen, so I am acting the child when it comes to hoping, praying and wishing for things.

I need to redirect my hope to attainable things that are not materialistic.  I write music reviews for three different websites.  At this moment, I am not paid for this, but that’s okay.  I love what I do.  I hope to one day get paid to write about music, but until then I will work my day job and write about music in the evening.

I hope to one day have a flourishing career in the music/writing industry.

Hope is amazing.

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.

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?

Q – Question Only What Needs Questioning

Derivative of 30px and 30px.Red version of Ima...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was always the “why kid.”  You know, that annoying little brat in the back seat (or at the lunch table) that questions everything.  I mean, I never questioned why the sky was blue or the sun was hot, but I did question a lot of stuff that really spoke for itself.

When I drank and drugged, I questioned why my life sucked so bad.  I questioned why life felt like hell everyday.  I questioned why the hell God kept me around after it was clear I did not want to be alive.  Honestly, my life sucked because I chose for it to suck.  Simple…

What I have learned in these past years is that questioning everything is a ridiculous behavior that I still get caught up in… a lot.  I start to question things when I don’t go to enough meetings.  And the questions I ask, in the car on the way to work (this is when I have my conversations with God) are pretty silly.  They are the kind of questions a teenager would ask their mother or God.

Yeah, I am slowly catching up to my real age.  I think at this point I am like 20 in drug years.

Other things I question are people’s motives or actions.  For example, I might question why my boyfriend did ‘x, y, or z.” But you know what?  It doesn’t really matter because he did whatever it is he did.  My job is to figure out why it makes me feel sad, jealous or angry and go from there.  I should question myself more and question others less.

What do you question?

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger

image: idlehearts.com

image: idlehearts.com

What a cliché, right?  The first time I actually heard this saying was in the movie “Kiss of Death” with David Caruso.  David’s character was the one who said it and the phrase kind of echoed in my brain every moment since then when things got a little (or a lot) rough.

Also, “Stronger” is a great uplifting song by Kelly Clarkson.  Check it out of you haven’t heard it.  You’ll like it, I’m sure.

But I’m not here to talk about Kelly or David.  I am here to talk about the hurdles we face, the doubts that creep and the life stuff that keeps on happening even when we just want to slam the door shut and get five minutes of peace.

You see, I feel like God keeps testing me and my faith.  Is it a test of how sincere I am in my willingness to change and hand stuff over?  Maybe.  I don’t know.  I do try to hand stuff over on a daily basis.  I pray every morning and every night and I always ask God for the knowledge of His will and the power to carry it out.  That is another blog post entirely, because I still struggle with that. What is God’s Will?

I always try to do the next right thing, keep my word and help others.  There is a lot of truth in the fact that if I always do these three things, I will always have a great day and will feel truly blessed.  And it really happens that way for me, until something upsets me.

Usually I try to figure the crap out by myself through journaling or talking with friends.  Tonight I tried something different.  I called my al-anon sponsor.

That was the best idea I had in the last three weeks.

The things that won’t kill me and have the capacity to make me stronger are those life events that I think I can’t handle, but wind up handling.  I then look back and say, “Wow.  How did I get through that?” You’ve said it, too.  Those painful, disturbing chaotic life events that happen to us – sometimes gradually, sometimes immediately – and take us to a realm of being we’ve never experienced before.  We get through them; all of them.  And when we come out on the other end, that’s exactly what we ask ourselves:  how did I get through that?

I think analyzing such things is pointless.  To reflect would be okay, but analyzing kind of kills the element that you did get through that thing you thought you never could.  Basking in the moment of triumph would probably feel a whole lot better.  Analyze later.

Was there ever a moment you thought you could not go on but managed to get through?  How did you feel afterwards?

The Little Things

This is a "thought bubble". It is an...

This is a “thought bubble”. It is an illustration depicting thought. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There comes a point in sobriety when the pink cloud of perfection and “I got this” dissipates.  Life continues to happen as we settle into our newfound freedom.  We settle back into our old way of thinking if we are not working a good program.

There will always be little things.  Life will happen on life’s terms consistently ( we can bank on that!) and it is up to us to learn a new way of coping to deal with the enigmas of life.

Slogans like, “Live and Let Live” and “Life on Life’s Terms” are important throughout our sobriety.  When we were out there, we let everything bother us. We harbored resentments over a lot of crap.  We were angry at our family, friends, the system and God.  We felt wronged and justified in our anger.

This thought process destroyed us!  It destroyed me for sure.  Some of the things that made me angry were other people, traffic, television, my mate at the time and the weather just to name a few.  It took me years to get it in my head that I was letting people, places and things control me by thinking I could control them.

This makes for one ticked off individual.  And how ridiculous is it being upset over little things we have zero control over. It is the moments of perceived loss of control that the Serenity Prayer comes in handy:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Once we realize the only thing we have control over is the way we think and that the way we think affects the way we feel, we now have a sense of freedom.

Finding Our Higher Power

Cover of "Came to Believe"

Cover of Came to Believe

Step Two: “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

It’s true.  When we first get clean and sober, finding something greater than ourselves to depend on is paramount. After all, in the throes of our addiction, it was alcohol and drugs that we served.  And that master/slave relationship almost killed us.  Almost.

Your Higher Power can be anything that helps you.  I choose to call my Higher Power God.  And it was God that I called upon that day in 2006 to restore me to sanity. I had nothing left; no hope, no will… nothing.  I had me and I hoped like hell I had God.

I believed that God could help me.  I believed that God could restore me to sanity.  He could and he did.  My obsession with alcohol and drugs vanished and I felt hope for the first time in many years when I sought God for salvation.

We can quit drinking.  We can stop using drugs, stop gambling, stop being promiscuous but if there is no structure, if there is no program, if there is no power greater than us to restore us to sanity, then we are only practicing abstinence. I’ve seen people do this and it has worked to keep the drink or drug down.  But that’s it. They were still angry, hurt, resentful and sad.

Finding a Higher Power is the stepping stone to a new way of life.  When I chose to believe that my God was a loving God and no longer a punishing one, I felt such a sense of peace. Instead of thinking every bad thing that happened to me or every hurdle I had to jump was because I was evil, I started to think “hey, maybe there is something to be learned here.  Maybe this is just life and I need to learn how to live life on life’s terms.”

Wow!  What a concept.

 

Pushing Through

Image: faithoncampus.com

Image: faithoncampus.com

Once we realize that we are powerless and cannot get through sobriety (or anything for that matter) without a higher power, we are now in the position of knowing what to do.  There is a saying (and I am ad-libbing here): “Once you know, you can never not know.”

This picture above is also a magnet.  I saw it at Barnes & Noble one day and snatched it up.  It is on my refrigerator as a stark reminder to do just what it says. And I live by this rule in a selective way.

I’ll explain.

There are times, of course, when we need to give up.  If my car isn’t starting and I am about to crank it for the umpteenth time, I need to give up.  When drinking and drugging are leaving you feeling beaten down repeatedly.  Because doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is insane.

Ya hear what I’m sayin’?

If you or someone you know is struggling with staying away from a drink or a drug (or any other addiction) the most important thing to remember is “just don’t pick up.”  Because picking up is giving up.  Picking up is giving up on your sobriety, giving up on yourself, giving up on the potential that you have!

This is something I think about from time to time. Of course, being an alcoholic, a drink will flutter across my mind like some deranged, chaotic butterfly.  It is a fleeting thought and it flutters out as fast as it entered.  Behind the thought of a drink comes all the memories of the insanity I called life at one point.  That is what keeps it green for me.  Going back to the life of hell I once lived would be insane.

Here are some ways to push through:

  • get to a meeting.
  • call someone.
  • go for a walk.
  • write.
  • listen to music.
  • pray.
  • draw.

How have you pushed through?

We Admitted We Were Powerless

Image: sabacooperative.org

Image: sabacooperative.org

“Step One: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.” This is taken from the Big Book and the Twelve & Twelve.

This is the only step we have to do perfectly.  To have an attitude that we “can drink once in a while” or “take a break” is dangerous.  Of course, this is something we alcoholics find out the hard way.  We have all at one time or another, woken up in the morning (or maybe we hadn’t even been to sleep) and said: Man, I am never doing that again! Only to be right back where we were, less than twenty-four hours later.

And let’s face it: admitting we are powerless over anything is tough for us humans.  We have this thing called “pride” that whispers in our ear that we can beat anything.  It whispers that giving up is for suckers and wimps. Our egos and pride tell us that people will laugh at us if we admit we cannot drink (or drug) anymore.

We had come to realize that once we put a drink in our bodies, we could not stop. That first drink rendered us helpless every time.

We tried to drink successfully.  We made empty promises (with good intentions!) that we would only drink beer, or that we would only drink on the weekend or that we would stop drinking at 11 pm. It may have worked for a little while, but ultimately it didn’t work at all.

We could not drink successfully.  We could not stop after one drink.  The minute we put that first drink in us, our bodies and minds crave more and we drink until we are either passed out, puking, in jail or in a crazy situation.  And yes, these crazy situations may make great stories (if we live through them) but they leave us with shame and regret.

The unmanageability of our lives may be that we keep showing up late for work (or not showing up at all), we aren’t paying our bills, we are cheating on our spouses or partners, we are getting in fights, driving intoxicated and ending up in jail.  It is one or some or all of these things.  We could not manage our own lives, we could not manage our drinking, we could not manage anything.

Step One is the only step we have to do perfect.  If we do that one step perfectly, we will begin the road to recovery and our lives will begin to change in a positive way.

Out With the Old – A Time to Reflect

Reflect

Reflect (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As 2012 comes to a close… I have looked through my Penzu journal, gone through old notebooks and basically stepped back and looked at the canvas of my life.  It hasn’t exactly been a spectacular year… but then it has been a spectacular year.  I fell down a cliff on a quad, I celebrated six years of sobriety in May, I started going to Al-Anon (which changed my life!) and I ended a six year, toxic relationship never dreaming that I’d enter into a new relationship with a man who I am pretty sure was made just for me.

I read somewhere that when we order up the life we want to exact specifications, we just might get it.  Well, I seem to be on my way.

The Old:

Procrastination – Insecurity – Self-loathing – Laziness – Self-doubt – feeling unworthy in most situations.  Ahhh.. those old ugly beliefs and bad thoughts that I wish I could beat with a hammer.  However, thoughts are not tangible so I have to beat them with positive thinking!

The New:

Get it done! I am beautiful! I can and will prevail! Successful author!  I have to fake it ’til I make it – and my advice to all of you is to do the same.  Faking it ’til we make it is like a mental affirmation of determination that only we know about.  It kinda goes along with that whole “The Secret” thing.  Trust me – it freaking works.

How about you? What is your out with the old, in with the new for the coming year?

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