Things That Are Fun (While Sober)!

Picnic

Picnic (Photo credit: Carlos López Molina)

When I first got sober it was in late May of 2006.  I immediately found some meetings to go to and when a person goes to meetings, they find out about picnics.  My first thought was, “How the hell does a person go to a picnic and not drink?”

Turns out, there are a lot of ways to have fun that do not involve drinking or drugs. Here are some of the ways I have had tons of fun all while being sober:

  • going to a meeting
  • walking in the woods
  • walking on a main strip in a small town
  • going for a long drive (like… really long)
  • drawing
  • writing
  • listening to music
  • shooting pool at a pool hall (not a bar!)
  • cooking
  • exercising
  • making a craft
  • cleaning
  • napping
  • going to a book store
  • going to the library
  • going down to the river
  • antique shopping (or browsing)
  • going to lunch with a friend
  • going to lunch alone
  • starting a scrap-book
  • journaling (I wish I would have documented my first year of sobriety)
  • and yes…. sober picnics!

These are just a few of the things that I had (and still have) a ton of fun doing while trekking through sobriety.  Do you have any to add?  Please share!

Being Me…

Dance Floor

Dance Floor (Photo credit: enric archivell)

Okay, so I’m an alcoholic.  I was probably born one, but didn’t catch on until my late twenties.  Further, I didn’t do anything about it until my early thirties. I tripped, stumbled, blacked out… did all the crazy things that alcoholics do and then some.

The one thing that got me tripped up all my life was… me.  I am so damn hard on myself!  I can go down my list of “nots” and really spiral into a dark, lifeless hole.

I am not pretty enough; smart enough; talented enough; GOOD enough. It seeps in like a cool November breeze and before I know it I am sitting there shivering with rage.  I cry, curse at myself. Hell, when I was a teenager, I even used to hit myself if you can imagine that one.  I just hated myself so much.  I hated me, I hated my mother for giving birth to me and I hated God for allowing my birth.  Surely, it was a mistake.  Why on Earth would He put someone as pathetic and ugly as me on the planet?

Yeah, ugly.  I suffered with my self-image for a long time and still do… sometimes.  I was picked on all through school as a child and then a pre-teen and a teenager.  I was even made fun of as an adult. I resorted to violence to fend off the teasing when I was younger.  When I was older, I just drank more.  Surely the alcohol would numb my self-loathing.

I guess I felt, “hey, if I can’t be pretty, I’ll be a brute.”  Even though I weighed maybe seventy pounds soaking wet when I was thirteen.  At five feet seven, that right there my friends is a ‘bean pole,’ as I was called.

There were much worse names.

I was picked on in junior high school because I didn’t “fill out” like all the other girls.  I was so flat chested, I didn’t even wear a bra.  One time, some boys were walking down the hallway behind my friend and me and they grabbed at our backs to snap our bra straps.  I found out later they did that to prove I didn’t have a bra on because I didn’t have breasts. They laughed their asses off that day.  I ran in the bathroom and cried.

I felt worthless.  I felt ashamed.  I felt soooo ugly.

So yeah, I became violent. I started getting in fights with other girls and I started beating up boys.  Beating up boys!  Not so much beating them into a bloody pulp, but I got the best of them for sure.

Now, you would think that after all these years, and all my years sober and all the step work I have done and all the resentments I have talked about with my sponsor and all the shit I have let go, that this would be the big one I wanted to let go, because, after all, who the hell wants to hold onto a big pile of shit?

I just don’t know how to let it the hell go!  I am so mad still (sometimes.) I am not mad all the time, but sometimes I just get mad.  Sometimes, I look in the mirror and still see that skinny, flat-chested girl who used to get picked on. The girl who boys didn’t like.  The girl who boys didn’t ask to go to dances and when she was at dances, they certainly didn’t want to dance with. The girl who never got put on the “list of girls.”

A lot of people say, “Darlene, get the hell over it.  That was a long time ago.  You’re beautiful!”

Yes, there are times that I feel beautiful. But there are other times, usually when I am watching television or I am on the beach or at a big concert or something, that I just get way lost in the hoopla of what is defined as beauty today.

For the record, I don’t watch much television and I rarely go to the beach. I listen to a lot of music, do a lot of writing and I do my readings everyday because a small part of me knows it is all in my head.  A small part of me sometimes sees something beautiful in me.

I never think of drinking over this.  Hell, I can’t remember the last time a drink entered my mind.  Thankfully, I have a lot of women in my life and a pretty good support system.  Thankfully, I have the rooms and the literature I read.

Thankfully, most times I recognize it is all in my head.

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.

Truth & Lies

Leopard-Optical-Illusion

Leopard-Optical-Illusion (Photo credit: The Foo Fighter)

I think too much, and while that usually is a bad thing… today, I was thinking about how when I was active in my addiction and even shortly after I had got clean and sober, I always had this immediacy to lie.  I lied about everything.  I lied even when I did not have to lie!

My disclaimer is this:  In 1996, I suffered a stroke that led to me having a permanent brain injury.  So sometimes, I do not remember things or sometimes I blur fiction with reality. This usually happens if people ask me leading questions.  Instead of asking me:

“Did you give the cassette tape back to Rick?” (involves a yes or no answer)  You might ask me, “What did Rick say when you gave him back the cassette tape?” A question like this leaves me in a state of panic; because I do not remember giving Rick back the cassette tape.

So I start to think hard: Did I give it back?  I remember talking to him about the cassette tape, I remember having the cassette tape when I was in the store, but I do not concretely remember giving it back to Rick.  But, I must have… Why else would someone ask me what he said when I gave it back if I did not give it back?

My defense mechanism kicks in to make me not feel like a total ass and my brain misremembers me giving back the cassette tape.  After all, I was in the store with the cassette tape in my hand and I had just talked to Rick.  But my defense mechanism is wrong, therefore, I still look like an ass.

I am still working on it after 17 years.

When I was full-blown in my addiction, I was also a full-blown liar.  Since I was a liar, I trusted NO ONE.  The logic is simple.  I was dishonest, self-seeking and seedy.  Why would I think others were anything different?  I could not be trusted and therefore, did not trust.

I used the two age-old methods:  being defensive and flipping the situation. Because, honestly, neither one of these requires remembering anything.

Not a damn thing did I have to talk about to get myself out of hot water.  All I had to do was ask things like:

“What do you think?” “Is that what you think of me?”

Or… throw someone else’s garbage up in their face.

It is mean and it is wrong.  Bottom freaking line.  Here is what dishonest people may not understand… it affects YOU and OTHERS.  Being dishonest chips away at the psyche like a beaver gnaws at a tree.  This is especially true for this alcoholic.

Today I am honest at all costs.  I even have a hard time with myself if I call out of work ‘Sick’ if I am not sick enough by my standards to call out of work.  I feel guilty all day long. Not fun!

What are your terms when it comes to honesty?  Are you honest at all costs? 

Relapse – When Does It Begin?

I was forwarded an interesting article about relapse today and it got me thinking… When does relapse begin?  The article is here if you want to check it out: 7 Habits of an Addict About to Relapse.   If you’re interested, read the article.

In my opinion, the first sign of someone in recovery about to relapse is Withdrawal or Isolation.  I notice it is at the top of the list in this piece, and rightfully so.  Withdrawing from meetings, friends, family and/or activities is a sign of bad things to come.  Often, the addict may not realize he or she just turned down a dark part of their journey.

Reaching out at this point is not on the addict’s mind.  What is on the addict’s mind is getting rid of whatever demons were left unchecked while doing step-work or trying to suffocate a new demon.   If we are not working our 12 Step Program, we tread on dangerous ground each day.

The other sign I want to touch on is being secretive.  Maybe the addict got in touch with some old friends they once partied with. Maybe they are not being honest with themselves or others about things. They start telling little while lies.  They start making excuses to go to the store… a lot. They start hiding their cellphone or running into ‘long hours at work.’  Whatever the case, deception is classic.  As someone in recovery, I still remember my deceptive ways when I tried to use people for anything I could before I got sober.

These are the three ways to keep in check:

  1. Clean House
  2. Trust God
  3. Help Others

Each day I work my program, get honest and help others, is a day I won’t pick up a drink or a drug.

I Tanked On The Blog Challenge!

Writing

Writing (Photo credit: jjpacres)

Yes I did.  Ha!!  I have so much going on that I could not put together a post for every day of the month to publish for my readers.  I am truly, deeply sorry.  I am writing music reviews for four websites and loving every moment!  I am not getting paid for my writing services and that is okay.  I am doing something I truly love while building my writing resume.

So stoked!

All the writing I have done over the course of my life (poetry, short stories, two novels, addiction blog and now music) has been amazing fun.  I love to write and have recently found that my passion is writing about music.  I have loved music since I can remember.  My grandmother used to tell me an interesting story about me.

When I was a baby, I wouldn’t stop crying one day.  She tried everything!  Finally, frustrated and overwhelmed, she wound up a music box and tossed it in my playpen.  I stopped crying immediately. To this day, I get sad when the music stops.

Will all my writing about music land me a well-paid gig for a big time music site or magazine?  I have no idea and no expectations.

Therein… lies the beauty.

I will commit myself to blogging a little more frequently on addiction in the coming weeks.

Have a blessed day.

Day 8 – Control

Self Control (film)

Self Control (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“You cannot always control circumstances, but you can control your own thoughts.” ~ Charles Popplestown

Wouldn’t I just love to control everything, everyone and every circumstance so that I may never be upset, angry or hurt.  The truth is, I have no control over anything except my thinking, and that is where the trouble comes into play.

For years, I tried to control the behavior of others to manipulate my mood.  I would tell them how to behave so that I may be happy.  This is a temporary fix to a deep problem.

Honestly, the sheer effort it takes to control other people and their behaviors is exhausting.  Putting people where we think they belong, helping them act the way they should act and relying on others to make us happy is unfair to us and them.

Do you find that trying to control everything is exhausting?  

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? 

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.

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