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

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

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

Drunk on Anxiety

Sobriety…rainbows, pink clouds, flowers, and unicorns…oh for the…yeah none of that, at least not all the time.  I don’t want you to get down on recovery or think it’s all bad.  It’s just not all good…because, life. I thought walking into treatment that my life would forever change to heck yes with a side of awesomesauce…yeah no,  it turned into dealing with life with eyes wide open! (Insert vomit emoji here.)

I remember that crazy day I walked out of treatment with all intentions of NEVER coming back because I had the cure and I was going to be AA’s number 1 poster child volunteer extraordinaire! I mostly laugh when I look back at that day but sometimes I get real  and cry.  I cry because I wish someone would have been kind enough to tell me…life is gonna hit hard followed with multiple what the…just happened?  Most people seem to have the “pink cloud” syndrome and good feelings…not me, I fell right off that cloud and splatted onto the ground coming out of treatment.

I got to my first meeting and got my sponsor(tough as nails 30,000 years of sobriety) who I thought would work.  I met her every week and did the “thing”.  Life started happening..finances, deaths, job loss, friends walking away….what the, I’m sober and things are falling apart.  I remember telling my sponsor I liked it better when I couldn’t see what was happening because then I couldn’t see the destruction my life had done. I liked being numb to the emotion that went a long with all this anxiety life was throwing me.

I got to work one day and got a message from my sponsor saying, stop being drunk on anxiety you are using this to rationalize and justify why you should use again.  Woman up, find a meeting tonight, get humble and call 30 drunks this week.  Holy molly batman the AA dinosaur knocked me back a few steps. I called her a dinosaur not because she was so old it was because she had been around the program for so long she might as well have written the Big Book or been there to edit the first edition!

After about two months of my sponsor working with me through this hard rough patch or just rough everything she finally asked me what I was putting my trust in.  I thought…what does that have to do with anything? She made me figure that out on my own.  I’m hear to tell you after 6 months of ugh, what a dumb question….I learned, I put my trust in God, His will…not mine!  I leaned on Him for everything I had going on in my life and I felt a feeling of contentment come over me that no matter what happened in this life I was going to be okay.  The friends, family and program have been the other parts of the program that have also kept me sane and on the right path and for that I will be forever grateful!  I will never forget my first sponsor she may have been tough and was old fashioned but I shut up and I listened and things started to happen…crazy how that works. If you do the work the promises happen!!

This program is not easy and no one said it was going to be but I know I get caught up in the assumptions and expectations of life and it can consume me.  Let the program do what the program does best…giving hope, answers, and millions of others to hold your hand when we fall!

Sincerely ~ Your Crazy Once Lost Friend

Parenting Hard

I knew parenting wasn’t going to be the easiest thing I have done but I thought hey…I’ve been through the ringer with drugs and alcohol how hard can it be?

Before I get any further one thing I must make clear, I am not an expert in parenting and cannot even begin to give advice but can only speak to my experience. I started my parenting journey over 8 years ago and what a ride it has been with three kids in tow.  This journey has been by far one of my most satisfying, gratifying and comical but not without its ups and downs. It’s funny how when I look back I don’t really remember the bad times only the good but with my using days I remember only the bad and deaths door.  For me when I do the comparison from my using days to kids I think to myself if there were good times during those days I would remember them and I don’t.  I remind myself when I think a glass of wine would be a great substitute for my anxiety of life with crazy schedules I know there were no good times (using)…the good times are with my kids even if I am stressed out and want to scream in my pillow.

I won’t lie, there have been days that I have felt sucked dry…dead inside because the kids have taken all my “go get em’” for that day.  I can barely get out of bed and I just don’t have anything left for anyone.  Alas I pour my cup of coffee and put my happy face on and keep going for my family because they need me.  As a mom we are on call 24/7 and the go to for everything in the home and outside.  The anxiety and the demand can get to you when the demand becomes the mundane of your everyday life.

This is where I get to tell you how blessed and grateful I am for a recovery program, my treatment centers and meetings taught me something…STOP, take care of yourself because if you aren’t taking care of yourself you aren’t able to take care of anyone else. Just like in an airplane when the oxygen masks come down they tell you to apply yours first before you do your children or anyone else, for good reason.  The reason is so simple but so hard to do when you are busy taking care of others all the time, if I am emotionally sound and healthy I am the best version of me to take care of others.

When I first stepped into the recovery world I wasn’t sure how things were going to end up but God blessed me with the will to keep going and I am so grateful I continue this journey every day.  My meetings, sponsor and friends in recovery have taught me to be raw and vulnerable with what is going on inside my head. I am able to talk about when I have a bad day and not have any shame in that!  I am not God, I can pretend to even stand on that platform but I feel like sometimes as mom’s we are asked to play that role and keep up the facade that everything is just fine!!  My sponsor once told me “fine” is just another term for Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional, I know if that is how I’m describing myself I need to talk to someone.

Recovery has helped me with my parenting and I see that more and more as I watch my friends struggle quietly with emotional rock bottoms and they don’t know how to use the tools that were given to me in recovery. I have had multiple moms say they wish they had a recovery program to go to so they could go vent for free in a room of others who get it.  I laugh because once it was to get me from one day to the next free from drugs and alcohol and now it gets me through day to day life as a parent.  While my meetings aren’t exactly what they were at first, I repurposed them to help whatever is trying to get me down at this phase in my life…isn’t that what is trending, take what it is old and repurpose it, remake what is old and make it new!! I get to be made new every time I go to a meeting or talk with others in recovery, my heart is full of gratitude. Recovery was a blessing and continues to prove that it will be for the rest of my life!

Written by:

A Grateful Heart – Volunteer Blogger for Myrecovery

About me: I just want to spread hope to other mom’s out there trying to make it in this world who may be dealing with drugs or alcohol…it works it really does, I’m living proof!  Keep coming back!

Be Still

Do you remember the day you walked into treatment, first AA meeting, first meeting with your sponsor or just the first time the word “recovery” was said? I remember my first walk into treatment and the way I felt as if it was yesterday, it has almost been 8 years now.

I didn’t know what “still” meant…my life was all about next fix, next time, where am I going, how will I get what I want, how much do I need to get to make it to the next day or even next hour…my brain was the Gravitron ride at the fair that everyone puked on, round and round at high speeds. I could not find calm in the chaos!

My life was a hurricane full speed ahead to the next fix…what a sad way to live.  I see this now but 8 years ago I could have told you that was normal! NORMAL! That was “still” for me…I didn’t know what being still meant. My brain was constantly scrambled with fear, shame, guilt and sadness.  I was just sad and lost.

I sat in the intake office in treatment and the nurse asked me to be “still” so she could take my blood pressure, you want me to be still?  My brain was mush and I couldn’t even think of what that meant…be still?? I did my best impression of “still” and my legs were still jumping up and down.  That was the moment she called in the doctor, the doctor took one look at me and got down on her knees and looked at me in the eye.  Her words have still stuck with me…you are loved her no matter what happened out there, I’m going to hold your hand and I want you to feel the warmth and care.  I melted when she grabbed my hand, human touch, who knew!  Her eyes, her voice and touch were all it took for me to be still.  I remember taking in a deep breath and just letting it all go.  I cried for a long time after that but it had been a long time since I had felt anything and the human touch from one person stilled my soul.

I can be still now that I am in recovery and what a gift that has been.  I get to enjoy moments that I would have missed if I was still using. I realized being still and being in the moment, for me, is the most incredible part of the journey.  If you are out there using and wondering if it’s all worth it…it is so worth it!  It’s the small things that I missed when I was using because I was so numb.  Now I get to feel it all and experience it all.  I have a sign that sits next to my bed that says “Be Still My Soul” as it reminds me that I finally get to appreciate the gift of being still.

Written by: I’m Still Standing