G – Grieve (The Old You)

Grief

Grief (Photo credit: tombellart)

Grief.  It’s one of those things that is hard to let go of and hard to handle.  We grieve loss: Loss of people, places and things; loss of pets. But did you ever consider grieving over yourself?  I’ll bet you never quite looked at it that way.

Recovery is a rebirth.  We come into the rooms, the doctors’ offices and the out-patient programs beaten and broken. We are torn, tattered and abused; looking for something or someone to save us.  We’re either meek and mild or loud and brazen.  Some of us are a little of both.

When I first got sober I was a little of both. I was kind of shy (especially around women) and I dressed provocatively, stuck with the men, pulled up at meetings blasting my heavy metal.  I needed to be noticed. I needed that attention to flip that self-worth switch on inside.  Seeking outside validation is classic in alcoholics and I was (still am!) a classic alcoholic.  I made all the conversations about me (I was really good at this!).  Gosh, I could go on forever!

This self-seeking behavior (definitely a character defect) went on for years until one day…

I got serious about my program.  I started hitting six meetings a week.  I got another sponsor and actually talked with her and did step work with her.  I listened at meetings and even started sharing at some of them.  I started hanging with the women, giving my phone number to newcomers and even hung out with these chicks outside of the rooms. What was happening to me?!  Who was this woman who stared back at me in the mirror every day?  I didn’t know her, but I liked her.

She was different.  She didn’t want to wear “hoochie mama” clothes anymore; felt comfortable around other women.  She liked the image in the mirror.. sometimes.

Yes, I still blast my heavy metal but I definitely notice a change in me.  So do a lot of other people.  I like who I am these days.  I no longer hide behind the insecure mask of “LOOK AT ME!”  I know that sounds strange, but insecurity leads to external validation which is a band-aid that never heals internal wounds.

And I did take a moment a couple of years ago to grieve the old me.  I sat down in a park with my journal and nature and wrote a letter to myself.  I said, “Goodbye, Old Darlene.  There are some parts of you I shall miss, but ultimately, not much.  This is my new path, with my new life and a new me.  I’m sure you’ll visit sometimes, Old Darlene, and that’s okay, but you cannot stay.”

Have you ever given any thought to an “old you” and “new you?”

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F – Fear – An Integral Part of Life

Dangerous Risk Adrenaline Suicide by Fear of F...

Dangerous Risk Adrenaline Suicide by Fear of Falling (Photo credit: epSos.de)

When I was little, I wasn’t scared of much, which is kind of scary in itself.  I remember being afraid of my closet and upsetting people.  Oh, and worms… but these days I love worms.  Funny how feelings change.  All my life, while not afraid of objects, heights, scary movies or a bad hair day, I was terrified of hurting others feelings, failing and not measuring up.  Most of us can probably relate to these fears which are normal to an extent.

These fears destroyed me!  My fear of failing caused me to not try. My fear of not wanting to hurt others’ feelings caused me to make choices in my life that were damaging. My fear of not measuring up kept me in toxic relationships because I felt, “hey, I cannot do any better than this!”

Having no fear isn’t healthy, either. I remember when that slogan was everywhere: NO FEAR.  I saw it on pickup trucks, shirts and have even seen a tattoo or two of this slogan.  It is fun to project the ‘no fear’ attitude, but fear is real and sometimes it is there for a reason. Fear is that feeling in the belly that says, “Danger!” It is up to me to assess that fear.

Is my fear legitimate?

I found a fascinating article on the five basic forms of fear here. The interesting this is that they all deal with the death of that crazy thing called EGO.  I suggest reading the article.  It details great explanations of the five basic forms of fear:

  • Extinction
  • Mutilation
  • Loss of Autonomy
  • Separation
  • Ego-Death

In my twelve-step work, I had to take an honest inventory of my fears (which was a fear in itself!) to get to the nitty-gritty of why the hell I could not stop drinking, why I insisted on sabotaging my life and a host of other calamities that caused me unnecessary stress.

When I got the core of my fear of abandonment, rejection and humiliation my life started to change; I started to change.  I asked for a raise.  I left a toxic relationship. I let my guard down and started being me.

As I continue my journey to self-discovery, I still have fears.  After all, that human element is something inherent in me forever.  With the help of God as I understand Him, my program, and the awesome people in my life, I am able to work through those fears and grow.

How do you handle fear?  Do you recognize an irrational fear?

A – Anger: External and Internal

Straßenschild Anger

Straßenschild Anger (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A raw emotion that sucks the life out of us, anger is a byproduct of one of the two core motions: hate. The other core emotion is love, but that does not apply here. Oh yes, people will cry “anger!” in the name of love, but alas nothing could be further from the truth.   I read a lot of self-help books and (as you know) attend meetings to help me in my recovery from alcohol. One of the emotions touched on a lot is anger.Internal anger:  that rage you feel when you perceive an injustice.  Oh how could they do this to me!  Those bastards!  You get that knot in your stomach, your heart races and it takes all your mental strength not to resort to tactics of passive aggressive neanderthalism.  Now, for a drama junkie (or a former one like yours truly) this is prime pickings for digging deep down in the crevices of justification so the gnashing teeth of self-righteousness can prevail. And if you are a true alcoholic or have anger management issues, this leads to external anger.

External Anger:  not always beating the crap out of someone.  External anger comes in the form of violence (against others and/or self-harm), breaking things, driving recklessly and silent scorn.  External anger stems from unchecked internal anger.  Think about it.  If you weren’t so pissed off inside, you wouldn’t feel compelled to exude physical forms of anger.

There are a lot of ways to deal with that seething, inner rage:

  • count to ten or twenty.
  • go for a brisk walk.
  • run.
  • write (careful with this one – it can keep you in the anger).
  • find a place (alone) to scream, yell and cry.
  • listen to music.
  • clean.

After you’ve calmed down, if you’re angry with someone, and you’re able to talk it out, be sure to come from an “I” place and not an accusatory “you” place.

How do you handle anger?

Book Review: Recovering My Kid

Recovering My Kid

Recovering My Kid

I like books.  I especially like books that teach me things.  Call me a nerd if you wish, but I read books the same way I watch television.  If I am not getting anything from it, I am not interested.  Not to say I don’t read fiction, I do.  However, given I have a short attention span (still not admitting I have ADD!) a book or show really has to grip me – unless I am learning.

I was recently asked to review ‘Recovering My Kid’ by Joseph Lee, M. D. I was skeptical at first, but as I read I was fascinated by the wealth of information and  tools to help any parent suffering through the addiction of their child.

Below you will find my favorable review.  The book is available on Amazon and Hazelden.

Recovering My Kid: Review

There are three parts which consist of forty-five chapters in the helpful book “Recovering My Kid” by Joseph Lee, M.D.  The first part is ‘Frameworks for Emotional Objectivity’, the second is ‘Frameworks for Leadership’ and the third, ‘Frameworks for Understanding Mental Health.’ The book really takes a hard look at how parents can help or hurt when a child is in the throes of addiction and/or alcoholism.

What is wonderful about this book is the broken down parts.  Also, at the end of each chapter there is a ‘bottom line’ and thought-provoking questions either for journaling, discussion with a partner or a group dynamic.

Frameworks for Emotional Objectivity

This part will fascinate anyone who wants to know the emotional turmoil of dealing with an addicted child.  The chapters cover different aspects of emotional baggage, enabling and codependency.  As a mother in recovery with an addicted child, I found myself highlighting parts of this chapter.  Guilt is a bullet point as Dr. Lee discusses how it can hinder any parent with the best intentions.  Dr. Lee gives examples of emotional objectivity along with enabling behaviors that could be misconstrued as helping your child. There is also a focal point on how leaning too far to the rigid, disciplinary side can hinder a child’s development and sabotage the child’s recovery.

Frameworks for Leadership

Boundaries and consistency are the main focal point of this section.  Let’s be honest, without boundaries and consistency, you’re raising a spoiled time bomb that could detonate at any moment.  Dr. Lee even asks the painful question: ‘Do I kick my kid out of the house?’ and discusses what your bottom line is. Having (and sticking to) a bottom line is paramount when handling an addicted child.  It is so easy to get drawn across that makeshift line in the sand and make any work up until point a waste of time.

Frameworks for Understanding Mental Health

While the first two sections of this book are packed with useful information and key questions for reflection, the final section is paramount because people cannot deal with something they do not understand.  Imagine being thrust into a situation without any education on it and being told, “Okay, handle this.” You’d probably scratch your head while your eyes darted around in a panic. Part three is the key to grasping the “how and why” of your child’s mental development and keeping a clinical mind while in an emotional upheaval.

In summary, addiction is a rough road for anyone involved.  There are several lines parents cross while they try to assist their child because it is so brokenheartedly painful.  ‘Recovering My Kid’ gives clear-cut information and steps to help through the process.

When Things Don’t Go … Our Way

Tattered and Torn

Tattered and Torn (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It will be a short post today.  My lovely internet is down at home.  So yeah, I am posting at the office.  This topic isn’t even in my list! But…

I had a situation happen over the weekend that had potential to turn pretty toxic.  We’ll just call it, “people who can’t let go.”  Anyway, there just comes a time when we have to say GOOD-BYE.

When we try to beat the square peg into the round hole, the square peg becomes worn… tattered… exhausted.  The round hole has moved on and so should probably the square peg.

For whatever reason, sometimes people who really want to be together just cannot be together because the relationship is toxic.  Maybe there is drugs involved, alcoholism, abuse, mistrust… the list goes on as to what could make a relationship toxic.  What makes it worse is when neither party recognizes the toxicity.

What makes it worse than that is when only one person recognizes the disaster masked with the word “love.” One person is desperately trying to hold on while the other is subtly trying to move on.

We will be touching on this topic in the coming months. Have a great week everyone!  Regularly scheduled blog posts will resume tomorrow.

Peace…

 

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