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.”

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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.

Building a Sober Network

English: A photo of a cup of coffee. Esperanto...

English: A photo of a cup of coffee. Esperanto: Taso de kafo. Français : Photo d’une tasse de caffé Español: Taza de café (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I first came in the rooms, I did not know what to expect.  As an active alcoholic, I made it a point to avoid people (especially women) at all costs because of the shame I felt inside. So when I got sober, went to meetings, and saw people talking and laughing as they drank coffee from little Styrofoam cups I was kind of freaked out. It was one of those things like, “Ok, I didn’t know what to expect, but I surely did not expect this.”

Being a woman (and I hear this in the rooms and the stories) and newly sober I did not get along with other women.  I stuck with the men because I had always been more comfortable with men and apparently, I am/was not the only woman who felt that way. 

It took me a good three years before I took a deep breath and started chatting with women outside the rooms before the meeting, during the break and after the meeting.  There is a slogan “show up early and stay late” concerning meetings and that is the best thing any alcoholic can do to build a sober network.

There is also a slogan “the men stick with the men and the women stick with the women” that newly sober people should stick to, but rarely do (I did not stick with the women in early sobriety and wish I would have).

How I Built My Sober Network

The biggest thing in building my sober network was getting rid of the old, drunk network I once had. That was first and foremost as people, places and things are a huge part of getting sober and staying sober. So I had to weed out my old “party” friends and replace them with new sober friends that have similar goals in mind.

As I met people in the rooms and got phone numbers (from women!), I quickly realized that getting a phone number and actually calling that number were at opposite ends of the comfort spectrum level. I had to talk to these women or I was going to stay stuck in the rut of anger, resentment and bitterness that had consumed my life.

 This is what I did:

  • Said hello to women at meetings.
  • Made it a point to make small talk with women during break.
  • Got phone numbers and gave out my phone number to women at meetings.
  • Went to women’s meetings.

Doing all of those things was extremely uncomfortable but they needed doing and I could feel myself grow a little more each time I talked or interacted with another woman in the program.

Today I do not have many female friends, but the friends I do have are good, sober women that I can count on if I ever need an ear a shoulder.  We have coffee, chat about life stuff (not always pertaining to sobriety), are honest with each other about where we are, and if there may be a better way of doing things.

Tell me about your network (sober or otherwise).

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.

Think, Think, Think During the Holidays (and Everyday)

Photo: barreralawfirm.com

Photo: barreralawfirm.com

While drunk driving and drug related traffic accidents are down in the last couple years, they are still too high.  According to statistics on MADD, 9, 878 people were killed in drunk driving accidents in 2011. 

I am not here to talk about statistics and percentages.  We can read stats on websites and billboards all day long, but realistically, they are just numbers and numbers do not hit home nor the heart.

I am here to talk about common freaking sense.

When we put chemicals into our body, even cold medicine, it alters our state of consciousness and our senses become warped.  We might think we are driving “perfectly fine” after just a couple of drinks, one hit of marijuana, or a couple of pills, but the truth is the effects of any drug effect us.

You may or may not have a drinking problem. Chances are if you or someone you know thinks it is okay to drive while intoxicated, there most likely is an issue with drinking that goes deeper than just being selfish and without regard for others. 

Here are some tips for partying (without injuring yourself or others) during the holiday season:

  • Have a designated driver.  This works.
  • KNOW your limit.
  • The switch off.  Drink water between every drink and for God’s sake EAT SOMETHING.  Still: DO NOT DRIVE.  This method is good for helping you or someone not turning into a belligerent drunk.
  • Keep an eye on friends or people you are with.  If someone is drinking too much, make sure you take their keys (with our without them knowing it). They might get angry with you, but an angry friend is better than a dead friend.
  • Make sure you don’t have to drive.  Plan a ride ahead or have money for a cab.

If you or someone you know has a drinking problem, go over to aa.org and get some information on how to get help and how to find a meeting. 

Have a fun and safe holiday season!

20 Truly Exceptional Alcohol Addiction Resources List – I Made #20!

I got an email this morning that said my blog here, Sober Living:  Life at Full Throttle made the “20 Truly Exceptional Alcohol Addiction Resources List.”  I came in at #20!  😀 I checked out a lot of the other blogs, all of which are awesome pertaining to alcoholism, addiction and how these bloggers have handled it.

Here is the link: 20 Truly Exceptional Alcohol Addiction Resources.  Just wanted to share my happy moment this morning.  Okay, time for me to go back to bed… I am sick. 😦

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