Denial to Recovery

Denial to Recovery

Loss is a hard pill to swallow…being lied to, someone dragging your name in the mud, family turning their back on you…all hard pills to swallow.  The hardest pill I had to swallow was knowing I had to stop drugging in order to live again. I was in denial to the fact that I was slowly dying and needed to change what I was doing. The more I thought about it the more I dove back into my addiction. I didn’t want to deal with all the trash and destruction my disease had caused.  I lived in denial for the better part of 4 years, fighting with every breath to not face my fears and make the change.

One crazy night I woke up drenched in sweat and knew I needed drugs fast…I ran to my bathroom and was looking into all my hiding spots.  While I was searching I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I stopped in my tracks.  I stared for a long hot minute and what was looking back at me…a shell of a human.  I looked empty, my skin grey, eyes blood shot and distant, my hair looked 7 years overdue for a cut, and tears running down my bloated face.  It was at that moment denial met reality, this wasn’t my rock bottom but at this point I started to beg for one.  I got down on my knees and started praying, something I hadn’t done in years!  I knew something needed to changed and I begged that a path was presented to me for help because I was too scared to ask for it.

The next day my prayer was answered…my husband found all my drugs while I was at work and called me crying because he didn’t know what was going on.  I took his call and when I heard his voice I collapsed on the floor knowing this was it, this was what I was waiting for!  My husband up to this point had no clue what was going on with me as I was a really high functioning drug addict.  I did not want him to know because of fear, fear of what he might think of me, fear of what he may do, and fear of what he would want me to do.  Now he knew, the sad, twisted, life-sucking disease was caught red-handed and it was time to face what needed to happen… to walk into the light and out of the dark.

I remember my long car ride to treatment, the dead silence, the tears, the shaking, anger, frustration, denial, anxiety and uncertainty.  I was so far addicted that if I didn’t get drugs in my system at a certain time I would shake, sweat, and move uncontrollably…the list went on and on.  My husband was so scared at certain points that he barely said anything the whole drive.

When we got to treatment and I was met by the nurse…she could see, she could see a glimmer of light in my eyes that no one could see, not even me.  She put her arms around me and said, girl we got you and this is the place where you are going to walk into the light and out of the dark…we got you.  I almost collapsed in her arms, I cried so hard all night and the next day but she did not leave my side.  The story inside treatment will have to come later as this was just about my denial and how it drove me deeper into my addiction.  Once I finally hit my rock bottom…I climbed out and started my recovery journey!  If you are in denial…that is okay, I was there too, it doesn’t mean that has to be the end of your story. Fight hard for yourself because you are worth it!

Blogger: Butterfly365

The Opposite of Addiction – Connection

The Opposite of Addiction – Connection

I’ve often heard it said in AA meetings that “the opposite of addiction is connection.” A phrase popularised in recent years by the writer and journalist Johann Hari. Thinking about my own experience of addiction and recovery I wholeheartedly agree with Hari’s assertion – connection is certainly an key antidote to the underlying isolation that often accompanies addiction.

I felt very disconnected and unloved as a teenager and started using alcohol and other drugs to try and connect with others and feel better about myself. In the long run I was just compounding my inner shame and low self-esteem. My behaviour while drinking was often anti-social and would cause others to reject me, instead of the acceptance that I desperately craved. My feelings of isolation and disconnection grew along with an increasingly poor self-concept. By the time I sought out recovery I was riddled with anxiety and depression. Suicidal thinking was a constant companion and my life felt meaningless.

The Principles of Authentic Connection – An Ideal for Recovery

The theme of isolation and disconnection has been around the ‘rooms’ of Alcoholics Anonymous for as long as I’ve been attending AA meetings, which is nearly 30 years. The ‘loneliness of alcoholism’ is very familiar to suffers and Johann Hari isn’t the first commentator to realise this characteristic. 12 Step meetings place great emphasis on ‘fellowship’ as an important means of connection and also strongly suggest that the principles contained within the ‘program’ facilitate a healthy relationship with self, others and ‘life’ – or, ‘that which is greater’.

For me, the principles inherent within 12-Step philosophy are about turning away or ‘practising the opposite’ of my self-centred sickness. The principles of honesty, humility, self-acceptance, love and service are the antidotes to my inner shame and its accompanying fear – they connect me in a healthy way to myself and others. My ego’s toxic shame and fear learned to defend itself in various unhelpful ways that disconnect me – addiction, anger, aggression, dishonesty, denial, false pride, inauthenticity and social withdrawal where my primary defense mechanisms.

My recovery process is about letting go of these unhealthy defenses and connecting with my underlying vulnerability. I need to honestly connect with and face my inner shame and fear. Truthful sharing, mutual identification, reaching out for support, and self-acceptance is the way to go I‘ve discovered.

The ‘core-conditions’ of empathynon-judgemental acceptance and authenticity are vital to the sharing and recovery process. If I am going to heal from inner toxic shame and fear I need to find an environment that offers love, support and acceptance. When suffering from shame based feelings and a poor self-concept, which prevent self-love and compassion, I require love, support, and empathy from others in my efforts to love, support and accept myself, according to the Person-Centred theory.  Read more @thefix.com

When Getting Sober Reveals an Underlying Illness

When Getting Sober Reveals an Underlying Illness

People who have had multiple traumatic events (adverse childhood experiences) in their youth are more likely to suffer from chronic illnesses, alcohol use disorder, and more in adulthood.

Getting sober is often considered the ultimate solution to our problems. In many ways, it is: we stop the behaviors that led to the self-destruction to our bodies, our relationships, and how we live our lives. We wake up without feeling hungover or in withdrawal from drugs we’d taken the night before. By dealing with the issues that led to using, we begin to experience healing and generally feel better.

But for some of us, that isn’t enough. Physically, we can actually feel worse after we stop using or drinking. We may discover that drugs and alcohol were masking the symptoms of a serious and deeply rooted illness.

Discovering My Autoimmune Condition

When you get sober, it usually isn’t all pink fluffy clouds and going about your day with a spring in your step. For me, in addition to the struggles of early sobriety, I’ve had to deal with something much greater: I’ve spent the last seven years with chronic fatigue so bad that many mornings I struggle to get out of bed — sometimes every day for three months at a time — and, at times, I have so much pain in my body that it hurts to even move my toes.

I have an autoimmune disease — a condition in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own tissues. Some of the more commonly known autoimmune conditions include Type 1 diabetes, lupus, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, and Crohn’s disease.

And I, along with many others in recovery, suffer with a chronic and sometimes life-threatening condition that has a strong link to our childhoods.

For years my autoimmune condition went undetected. I was told that its recurrence each year — with symptoms including chronic fatigue, aches and pains, low energy, lack of motivation to do anything apart from sleep and lie on the sofa — was simply an episode of depression. My doctor would sign me off work for a month. Doctors ordered rest and gave me a prescription for increasing doses of antidepressants. Invariably, after a month off, I’d get better. I had no reason to question the doctor’s advice because I was improving with their prescribed course of action.  Read more thefix.com

When Love Is Not Enough: How We All Failed My Sister

When Love Is Not Enough: How We All Failed My Sister

These are the ugly, dark parts of mental illness and drug addiction that no one talks about, and by not talking about it, it stays hidden, and shameful, and powerful, and deadly.

My sister had 765 “friends” on Facebook. I don’t think I even know that many people. But I can count on one hand how many of those friends came to visit my sister during her four-month hospital stay. So apparently they were friends, but not quite that close.

I believe that if regret had a smell, it would be the smell of something burnt and visceral, and sharp in your nostrils. I think of that every time I listen to the last voicemail that my sister left me. It was so normal, absolutely nothing special about it, like the countless other messages we had left each other.

“Hi baby girl, it’s me. Call me back. Love you.”

Sometimes I listen to it just so that I can hear her voice, but often I find myself straining to hear something that I must have missed. Did she know that she was dying? Was there some sort of resolve in her voice? Or was that loneliness? But mostly what I hear is regret. Mine, of course, not hers. Because no matter how much I loved her, I couldn’t save her. I am painfully aware that I failed my sister. Sometimes I think that we all did.

Malika and I were two years and 10 months apart, and about as different as two people carved from the same parents can be. She was always the pretty one, the free spirit, and she had the goofiest sense of humor. The boys simply didn’t see me when we were together—she shone that brightly—and we could fight like nobody’s business. But above all, she was amazing to me.

My sister was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia in high school, which apparently is a common age for that to rear its ugly head. We both shared a sort of rebellious streak borne out of a sometimes-tumultuous home life and an ugly divorce between our parents, but she never really grew out of hers. She had a self-destructive side but it was always directed inwards—she never set out to hurt anyone but herself. I can see clearly now that for years, she was self-medicating. Read more @the fix

Take Inventory of Your Year in Recovery

Take Inventory of Your Year in Recovery

This is the perfect week to reflect on your past recovery and look forward to the year ahead.

The week between Christmas and New Year’s is a time of transition. We’ve left most of the hustle and bustle of the holidays behind, but have not quite started the new year and the new routines it will bring. This makes it a perfect time to reflect on your past year in recovery, and make goals for how to sustain and enhance your recovery in the year ahead. Read more @thefix

What 8 Days of Silent Meditation in Sri Lanka Taught Me About Myself

What 8 Days of Silent Meditation in Sri Lanka Taught Me About Myself

I wanted to get something out of this week of mindfulness meditation. I wanted to live mindfully, feel spiritually connected, to be less of a disconnected, frenzied entrepreneur run by self-will and ego.

When we arrived at the meditation center in the middle of the Sri Lankan jungle during a downpour, we were greeted by leeches. The first victim, a tall German girl, started screaming and flailing when she noticed the mini monster stuck to her hand. Truth be told, I would have reacted the same way had I been the first victim, but she got it out of the way so I could steel myself.

“Oh, you will definitely get zem,” the white-haired German meditation instructor informed us in his grandfatherly accent. “You just pluck zem up and put zem back into zee nature.” He demonstrated this, gently removing the leech and lovingly transferring it to a leafy plant, more compassionate towards the creature and more amused by its human victim. Read more @thefix

Learning to Have Fun in Sobriety

Learning to Have Fun in Sobriety

After a while many people in recovery actually discover that the fun they thought they were having was really just an attempt to run away from their feelings of guilt, inadequacy and shame.

People who have substance use disorders often have a million excuses for not wanting to get clean. They may worry about disappearing friendships once they get sober, fear other people’s judgement, or they may not be able to face the truth about their addiction—just to name a few. Another top reason for why they don’t want to give up drinking and drugging, even if it’s making their life completely unmanageable? They’re worried they’ll never have fun again. Because the idea of being sober seems boring, mundane and somehow even more unbearable than the pain of continuing to self-destruct with substance abuse. Read more @ thefix

The “Crazy Years”

The “Crazy Years”

I thought my crazy years were when I was trying hard to get sober and keeping on the straight and narrow.  Well, I wish…my crazy years actually ended up being the years I was raising my teenage daughter that thought she knew more than I!  These years were so hard as my daughter knew I was in recovery and she did watch me when I was not so sober and used that to her advantage.  She was always able to throw the guilt and shame card on the table and get away with what she wanted to because I felt so awful.  She was able to get away with it until she arrived into her last year of high school and I had enough of being what I like to call “child bullied”.

I had been doing living amends for the better part of 8 years and I wasn’t about to let my child keep throwing things in my face when I was showing up, going the extra mile, providing, and giving her anything she needed! I felt like I had finally reached a point in my life where if I didn’t put my foot down and say enough is enough that I would start to believe everything she was telling me.  With the direction of my sponsor and everything I learned in the program of AA I had a sit down chat with her about all the things that had gone down in the last 4 years…and if any of you know what it is like to talk to a teenager about things that are serious it is NOT easy.  She took everything as I had anticipated, she went to live with her father….because hey, the grass is always greener.  RIGHT!!! She lived there for a year and then begged to come back after hours of apologizing.  I knew this would happen but I needed her to see the work I was doing and how I was actually being her parent not her best friend.

I don’t know what I would have done without the program of recovery, having to deal with this took so much patience and courage.  This program gave me a sounding board to talk raw about what I was going through as a parent and the emotions I was dealing with.  Most of the moms around me(normies) all said, oh I just drink a glass of wine and check out…well, that’s great, I can’t do that! I have to deal with the emotions and learn how to process them without liquor to help.  I can’t say there weren’t times that I wasn’t tempted to run down and grab some because man it would have been nice to check out.  That was the problem though…I would check out with no end in sight.  I worked so hard on the 12 steps during my daughters high school years to keep me sane.  At the end of the high school years I had moms come up to me and ask me how I did it.  I said AA, while they all gave me an odd look at first some called me years later because they then needed help themselves and I was there to do a step 12 with them!  If I had not been open and honest with these moms some may be still out there living in their closets with a bottle of wine clutched in their hands praying for the emotional pain to stop!

The teen years were hard in recovery but staying close to the program and being able to share this program with others had really helped me get through those years.  Stay strong, be open, be raw, and stay strong…nothing is worth that drink!

Written By: mom00soul

Healing

Healing

What year was hard for you in recovery?  I remember sitting in a meeting and a couple ladies next to me were talking about their 6th year and how hard that year was to get through.  I, of course was on my first year at the time not even thinking about “what year would be hard” I thought where I was could not get any harder.  Well, I was wrong…my hardest year was my 7th year in sobriety.  I struggled to keep balance and a lot of things happened to me that year.  I didn’t relapse which in and of itself was an absolute MIRACLE but as far as emotionally, I took a few hundred steps backwards.

I have heard so many people say if you emotionally relapse it is worse than an actually relapse, why…I have no clue.  Looking back now a year and a half later, I am better for it, so I consider it a huge step forward.  I truly believe that there is nothing wrong with being knocked down a few steps, it gives some amazing room for growth.  Growth can be super painful (painstaking, some may say) but can also make you a much stronger person in the end.

No matter how many meetings I went to, big book groups I joined, steps I went through, meetings with my sponsor or sponsees I had… there was no preparing me for a loss that I was going to experience in my life.   We all go through losses in life and the getting back up after them is a hard and slow process.  I know I smiled when I didn’t want to, I cried when I didn’t want to, got angry when I should not have, said things I should not have said, and maybe even didn’t say things when I should have.   It was a year of opposites for me.  I have never prayed so much in my entire life for the pain to just take a backseat and let me be.

So here you sit reading this wondering okay…well, what did you do about it?  I kind of laugh as I write this, I know full well what I did…I did NOTHING, nothing, you read that right, NOTHING. I can’t say I am proud of that, or that it is what anyone should do, this is just my story and my experience with grief.  I wish I had profound words to say about all the tools, the steps and crazy awesome words of wisdom to instill upon you…nope!  Now you may be thinking…okay this is so dumb, and maybe you are even going through a huge loss right now, it could be a job, family member or friend.

Here is what I CAN tell you, it will be okay.

This IS what I did, I let myself feel all those emotions, said all the wrong things, did all the wrong things…because I was in pain.  I did stay open and raw to those around me letting them know what I felt and said the things that were swimming around in my head.   Never underestimate the power of prayer, a hug, good chats over coffee/tea or whatever it is that you drink now.  Feeling hurts but I did not drink, I did not do drugs, I did not decide that life was too hard to handle so checking out was my option…no, I did nothing I let myself feel and I stumbled through the pain.  I really don’t have much advice but I do know what helped me was the act of doing nothing and letting my body go through what it needed to go through.  If you are going through a loss in life, I am so truly sorry, it hurts, it sucks (not gonna sugar coat it) and you will want to find a way to get rid of the pain…my plea, don’t.  We were given the amazing ability to heal, you do heal… don’t stop until you get to that miracle.

Written by: Heart2heal14

 

Back to School

Back to School

It’s that time of year again where our kids go back to school and as parents we breathe a sigh of relief.  As a stay at home mom there is something so amazing about kids going back to school!! I kept my children fed, took them places, saw fun things, played 5 million board games and tried my best to keep them away from the “crack cocaine” A.K.A. electronic devices.  I get so excited for my kids to go back to school because I’m pretty much toast by September when it comes to being the entertainer and the one man show.

This year after dropping my kiddos off to school I got home poured my cup of coffee and sat in my living room. I took a deep breath and thought phew…got through this summer now I get to take some time for myself.  Although I felt odd and could not pin point what the heck was the ache in my heart/soul.  Was it change…was it empty home…was it too quiet…was it the tedium of life?? Or…was it I had not done self-care all summer and now I was finally feeling its heavy weight on my soul.

I am often wrapped up in what my kids are doing from day to day that I can’t even sit and think about myself or what I may need.  I had one amazing long cry all morning with my pot of coffee.  As a parent I realize when I took the plunge of having kids I knew I was going to be putting them first, I knew that I was going to have to learn to be selfless but in the mix I think I forgot that without taking care of myself I can’t take care of others.   Somehow I managed to float through this summer without any focus on what my soul may have needed but the first day I felt all that emotion and daily work on self that I had missed.

After a good couple hours of crying and trying to figure out why I was so emotionally drained I called my sponsor and a good friend I have in recovery.  We talked about self-care and the importance of taking care of “you”. As a mom I instinctively want to always being doing things for my children but I forgot balance.

As a second week starts of school I look ahead to balance for me and my children…balance for my soul and my schedule to make sure I am getting my needs met so I can be a better mother.  I hope all the parents out there are having a great start to this new school year…remember balance and take care of yourself so you can be available to your children physically and emotionally!

 

Blogger for Myrecovery: FreeSpirit