The Stepping Stones of Life

Stepping Stones“Sometimes shit is going to go wrong in your life. Sometimes, you’ll feel like everyone is stabbing in you in the back and you can’t catch a break. These are the moments to take a step back. Step back and ask yourself if you are trying to make something work that wasn’t meant to work for you… Sometimes things don’t work out because that path you’re on is just that: a path… that path is filled with ‘Stepping Stones.’ Some of those stepping stones are big, some small, some slippery, some beautiful, some painful.
Those stepping stones are part of your life journey… and when you navigate those big slippery stones that are painful… that’s the universe telling you that you’re growing and it’s time to take the next turn.”

The Dangers of Molly (MDMA)

I haven’t used drugs or drank alcohol in over seven years so I can’t say personally how Molly affects its users.  However, after reading the description and watching the video, it seems Molly is a version of the drug Ecstasy (E as it was commonly called).

Molly is usually ingested orally or snorted and it gets the ‘happy feeling’ going for about three hours.  And hey, don’t we all want to feel good (euphoric) for a few hours?

Here is the bad news… when it wears off, it leaves the user feeling highly depressed for hours, sometimes days. It depletes Serotonin levels which need significant amounts of time to replenish.

Watch this short video and see for yourself:

You can find help for addiction and answers to questions at: www.clarityway.com.

Musical Recovery! – An Interview With Ted Brown

Music guitar

Music guitar (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Hi Ted, thanks for agreeing to do an interview with me. First off, I want to congratulate you on your clean time. It is a rough road I know personally, but very rewarding.  It is people like you that inspire addicts and alcoholics in recovery to keep that glimmer of hope alive, no matter how dark it may get.

1. I read your press release and you said, “After I got clean, I thought ‘What am I going to
do with my life?” I can relate to trying to transition into a life without drugs and alcohol. Was
it difficult for you to find something to do immediately?

I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to be creative without drugs or alcohol and I’d almost made the
decision not to play music anymore! My thinking was that my creativity was too closely linked to my
drug use. Fortunately, the Universe had a different plan and opportunities in music presented
themselves more abundantly than they ever had before!
2. What brought you to the United States from New Zealand?

I moved to the United States when I had around 18 months clean as guitarist, co-writer and
backing vocalist with popular NZ artist Greg Johnson. I had started playing in his band and he
asked me to accompany him for some showcases for Record Companies. He ended up getting
signed, and we moved to L.A. to make an album..

3. What was your darkest moment while out there (using)? Was that enough to get you to wake
up and realize you could die?

I had a few brushes with death while I was out there. I think one of my darkest moments was getting
the news that my friend and fellow musician Matt had died from this disease. I was devastated and
although I had OD’d several times myself, it still took me over a year more to go back into detox and
try treatment again. He was so talented and it was such a waste, but I knew it could be me or any
one of those ‘smart, talented’ addicts I was using with.

4. What has been the most amazing part of your journey through sobriety so far?

There have been so many wonderful moments. I feel like all the great things that have happened in
my life have been since I got sober- getting married, traveling the world playing music, seeing all the
art I’d only ever seen in books, making albums.. Using provided me with a very limited view of the
world but recovery has expanded that view by putting me back in contact with human beings! Every
day can be an adventure if I can keep an open mind and remember to be grateful.

5. Now that you are clean and sober, do you look at people differently? Like, do you have more
tolerance?

I really had to learn how to deal with people again because I was just so used to being loaded all the
time and that had been my point of reference for so long! I think I’m more tolerant these days simply
because I feel more a ‘part of’, but it’s still a challenge (especially on the freeway!)
6. I actually love driving on little country roads, it helps me reconnect with my Higher Power and
regroup when life keeps being life. How do you relax these days?

I meditate, I read (for entertainment as well as for inspiration). I have 2 cats and a dog and I find
them to be a great source of relaxation! ( I never had pets growing up so it’s still a novelty for me). As
I said, I love art so going to museums and galleries is something I love to do.

7. Tell me about the song, “Bringing my Past Back (But Not To Haunt Me).

This is really a song about the ‘steps’ and the work that’s asked of me if I really want to get the most
that recovery has to offer. Sometimes that work is tough- messy and painful but if I’m prepared to do
it (and I never have to do it alone) I’ve discovered that the benefits are incredible. The trick is, that I
have to keep doing it if I want to experience growth..
8. Did you ever think that you’d be living the dream today? Getting to do what you love?

I don’t know what I thought when I was in active addiction! Mostly “getting, using and finding ways to
get more”. I always thought that I had the wrong life, that it, “wasn’t supposed to be like this”…my
fear was that I would die from my using. Every day surprises me!

9. Do you have any words of advice or wisdom for addicts and alcoholics still struggling with
addiction?

Anyone can get clean, lose the obsession and find a new way of life. But you need to have had
enough and of course that ‘rock bottom’ is different for everyone. One thing I know is that we can’t
do it alone, I tried many, many times. The disease of addiction is cunning, it will give you many
reasons why you’re different, why recovery won’t work for you, but it’s working for millions of people
all around the world every day! It’s important to just jump in feet first! It’s scary, but so is using..

10.I did not get to hear the song, “Looking for Home Down Hallways.” But it immediately gave
me a chill as I thought back to the days when I was so alone and just wanted to be loved.
Can you elaborate on this song?

This song is about looking for salvation. From a person, a drink, a drug, money, a location.. Anything
outside myself that I think might be the thing that’s finally going to make everything ‘O.K.’ The pursuit
of that ‘fix’ is what nearly killed me and it can manifest in recovery as well, even without the drugs
and alcohol.

11.When it came time to make amends to people, were you excited to get it out or nervous to
reach out to people you had wronged?

When I was new, the first step I noticed on the wall was #9 and I thought, “Oh no, I’m never going to
be able to do that!”. Fortunately the steps are in order so I didn’t have to make amends until I got to
that step. I did however try to make some amends before I got there and without my Sponsors
blessing- needless to say it didn’t go so well. The steps are a gentle slope, so even when I’m
apprehensive I’ve been able to move forward..

12.What is in the future for you and your music?

We just completed a beautiful clip for the song “Love Is..” which is due to drop on
10/15. I’m working on songs for another album as well as promoting “An Unwide
Road” The future looks musical!

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.

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?

People, Places and Things

Sobriety medallion

Sobriety medallion (Photo credit: annrkiszt)

When I was new in sobriety and going to my outpatient group along with attending four or five AA meetings a week, I heard “people, places and things” a lot. When I was out drinking, using and being a degenerate, my people, places and things were drug dealers, bars and excuses to give me the fuel to drink or use more.

My very first time in an attempt to get sober was in January of 2005.  Now, my reasons for wanting to get clean and sober were inwardly pathetic.  I told my dad I did not want to get high or drunk anymore.  He said, “Darlene, is this an attempt to detox so it won’t take so much to get drunk or high?”  “Of course not, Dad.  I really mean it!” So on New Year’s Day in 2005 my dad drove me up to Livengrin in Bensalem, PA and dropped me off to detox for four days.

Now, when I went in there, my dad was right on the money.  That was exactly why I wanted to go to detox. But after being in there and getting weaned off of opiates and detoxing from alcohol and spending time with people who had it far worse than I did, I changed my mind. I really did want to get clean and sober.

After four days in detox, I got out and felt refreshed.  I had a roommate who lived in Bucks County (I was living in Philadelphia at the time) and we exchanged numbers so we could hit a meeting in a couple of days.

I went to an AA meeting with her; it was the only AA meeting I attended in 2005.  My dealer lived right down the street from me and I knocked on her door about seven days after I had gotten out of detox, told her I just got out of detox and asked her if she had anything. She looked at me stupefied.  Looking back, I do not blame her.

See, people, places and things are huge in recovery.  I am not saying that everyone that goes into recovery or treatment or gets clean and sober should move, change their name and paint their dog, but it is a good idea to be aware of triggers (people, places and things).

How I avoided people, places and things:

1)      I moved.  This is not possible for everyone, but it helped me.

2)      For the first few months of my sobriety, I avoided passing establishments (places) I previously frequented.

3)      I worked on what my triggers were and went to great lengths to recognize them; not embellish them and use them as an excuse to drink.

For those who cannot move, I suggest building a strong sober network and keeping in touch with those people.  Addicts and alcoholics still active in their addiction/alcoholism feel resentful at those trying to get sober.  And while they will not necessarily try to drag someone down who is trying to get clean and sober, they will not exactly be on your cheering squad.

I have a friend I used to get high with and had coffee with him a couple of times after being new in sobriety.  I could not figure out why I had an awful knot in my stomach and wanted to get high each time I was in his presence.

Thankfully, I had a great sponsor and was in outpatient therapy at the time (both of these helped me greatly) that gave me the tools to recognize that he was a “people” and I needed to cut ties for a while.

Do you have any people, places or things that trigger you into bad behavior?

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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