Difficulties

For some reason this week is difficult for me. Last week I was full of gratitude. This week is a whole other story. I don’t like how I’m reacting to things. I call people but people never call me back. Online meetings just aren’t the same as face-to-face meetings. When I get a feeling “something is wrong” I know I need to change things.

Last week I was going to write about the increased gratitude I have for having many thing in my life. Many are bitching and complaining about being cooped up, not working, at home with their families all day long, etc. Really? Yet, in normal circumstances you can’t wait for a weekend, want a long vacation or crave the attention of your family because you don’t think you have enough time for them? Now you have that time, so make use of it.

I am categorized as an “essential” employee, so I don’t get the luxury of time off. The only changes in my life are no face-to-face meetings and no customers in the store when I work, otherwise its just like any other normal day. Sometimes I feel like I live in a bubble and wish I could be walking in your shoes. Then the bubble pops and I snap back into reality – what the hell is really going on?

As I’ve started to work again, I noticed many things I still need to work on. Not working, yet working on sobriety is completely different. It’s much easier. Working and living sobriety is just plain much harder. I recognize this, so I have to put more work into my sobriety.

For instance, last night, I let the temper get the best of me. Things just weren’t going my way. That was problem one. The little things turned into big things and it just kept getting worse and worse. I let it keep getting worse and worse until I walked out the door. I need to take the time to take a deep breath and be grateful I have a job right now. I also need to remind myself “things will happen when they are suppose to happen”.

Right now, my search for an apartment is at a stand still. There is absolutely nothing in the area available to rent. I wanted to move out April 1st. Now that isn’t going to happen. To compound the issue, I have a new roommate who moved in this afternoon. My two roommates woke me up when this was happening so I only got about five hours of sleep. Here we go again – the little things frustrating me turning into big things. Problem two I need to work on – do I really need to let this shit to bother me? No. At least I have a roof over my head – be grateful.

Frustrated, as is everyone else, so it’s normal. But part of me feels selfish thinking the way I feel. So I’m glad I actually read, slowly, my own daily readings. There was a message there I needed to hear. I’ve been just posting and not really reading my own readings lately. I need to stop myself and read them, practice them and work on them. That is how this whole sobriety things works in the first place, right?

And there you go, my mood is changing. Suddenly I don’t feel as bitchy and whiny. Sobriety can be a wonderful thing, if I let it and work on it.

Gratitude for a Second Chance

At fifteen months of sobriety, I didn’t imagine I would be still living in a chemical dependency residential program. One would think by now, I would have moved on. But this just isn’t the case. Matter for fact, I will be here for a couple more months as I continue to take care of some dental issues.

Living one day at a time and practicing patience with the process can be difficult at times. Yet, I continue to believe I am here for a reason. Therefore I’m grateful for the continued support I receive while I go through this process, as frustrating and difficult as it may be at times.

Back in August, I finally stepped in a dental office to take care of some plaguing dental issues. I went through two surgeries, ten teeth extractions to remove “problem” teeth. I thought I was in the clear to move on with a partial denture and the rest of my life. Again, this wasn’t so. After going back to my regular dentist, they decided it would be best just to have the rest of my upper teeth all removed and a full denture placed. Back to the oral surgeon I went to schedule two more surgeries.

Monday, the first surgery was completed. Yesterday, I went for a follow up. I was surprised I was in no pain and cleared for the last surgery to be scheduled on November 20th or sooner (I’m on the cancellation list). Immediately after my appointment I got a call from the dentist to schedule the impression for my full upper denture in early January. There is a four to six week healing period after the last surgery. It’s my understanding after the impression is taken, again there is another lengthy period of time before the actual placement of the upper full denture. So, reality sets in as I may not be moving on until February or March of 2020. Despite this, I’m okay with it.

During this whole time I have seen a lot of people come and go for various reasons. Many leave on their own accord, only to relapse because they thought they were ready. They did what they wanted to do and they failed. I don’t want to be that person – again. As someone reminds me in meetings, “[this program] is the last house on the block for me. Either I stick with this time around or I may not be back and probably end up dead”.

I am not squandering this second change of changing my life, as this may be the last chance. I am grateful I developed “a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty”. I have learned, “Living on Life’s Terms” can be difficult at times. I don’t want to be here, I want to move on. Yet, I have to remember I’m here for a reason. Perhaps there are life lessons I’m getting a chance to refine before moving on. So, every day as I review my day I ask, “What lesson(s) did I learn today?”

The point I am trying to make is, no matter what life may throw at me, I have the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, a Higher Power, a Sponsor and a network of sober people to help me stay sober every day. Without these things in place, I know I would be dead or living a miserable existence. Instead, today I’m grateful to be alive and sober.

One Day at A Time

As I look at my past ten years of sobriety, then my relapse, I have to look at what didn’t work. I had a good program going until I started to do what I wanted, when I wanted and how I wanted to do things in my life. Since I restarted my journey in sobriety, I only concentrate on “One Day at a Time” literally. I’ve developed a daily schedule, simple yet effective, which helps me to stay sober and allows for peace and serenity in my life.

At the ten year mark, I was in my own place, where I wanted to be, doing what I wanted. There wasn’t a thought I had my alcoholism “licked” because I knew better. It was waiting patiently, waiting for the right time to come back and kick my arse. That it did! Hence, the saying, “..cunning, baffling and powerful”. It wasn’t like drinking my first beer ever in life. I started right back from where I left off ten years ago: one beer the first day, three the next but the end of the week a 12pk, next week I was drinking a good 30 pack a day AGAIN. Remember its a progressive, chronic disease. It never stops until we are DEAD!

When I walk through the doors this time around, I made a commitment LIVE ONE DAY AT A TIME. Honestly, I had reservations whether I was going to stay sober until I walked into my first AA meeting – I was home again. So the first thing I do daily is practice gratitude:

  • I’m grateful for my Higher Power for waking me up (I’m alive)
  • I’m grateful to be start another day sober
  • I’m grateful to be a member of Alcoholics Anonymous

If you’re reading this, you know the second thing I do daily to keep myself sober – I take the time to post my daily readings. Why? My sponsor the first time I was sober told me to write each Step down. If we write things down, we have to face them. I do this process with my readings. Instead of just reading them, I actually type them out here. It helps me to remember, perhaps, those things I can work on for my sobriety today.

For instance, as you know I have codependent behaviors, hence the Language of Letting Go readings. These principles are vital in my sobriety. Just like my alcoholism, I must practice these principles daily. One of my roommates takes something out and doesn’t put it back where it belongs. He wakes up in the middle of the night, makes himself a snack leaving the peanut butter jar open with the knife on top. He habitually leaves not one but multiple glasses laying around the house empty after drinking its contents. Deep down it infuriates me. He’s a f**king slob. However, it is NOT my job to clean up after him. Even after multiple times of asking (politely) to clean up his own messes, he just doesn’t want to change. So, daily I remind him, “Mr. X please put X in the sink to be washed.” I can’t change him; he has to be willing to change himself. I have no control over what he does or doesn’t do. The point is I’m not going to “save or take care of” him. I have to practice acceptance, tolerance and pity (an AA principle) – meet him where he’s at, keep my calm and recognize he’s just sicker than me.

The Three
AA Legacies

I recognize from my own past when I am not involved in Alcoholics Anonymous in any way, shape or form I’m walking toward my next drink. No matter what my mood, no matter who may or may not show up, no matter how much I may despise people, how they share their non-existence of experience in meetings or what the weather is outside, I have to attend meetings. I also have commitments; I have responsibilities to show up, not only for myself, but for others. Every meeting I attend, I hear a message I can learn and apply in my own life. Luckily for me, there are at least two meetings a day I can attend to help me stay sober no matter what is going on in my life. Again, this is a vital “action” needed for recovery – going to meetings on a regular basis.

I’m grateful for the residential program where I currently reside because honestly I’m not sure if I could stay sober without the continued support I receive on a daily basis. At times, I may despise this program. For instance, a staff member just came into the house. He didn’t knock or say, “Hello! Is anyone home?” He just came in, ignored me, walked around the house, then proceeds to tell me, “Please sweep the floor” as he’s walking out of the house. I would never just walk into someone’s house. When I worked in the chemical dependency field, we practiced respect for our clients. Again, I have to recognize, my values may not be the same as others and this is a temporary situation. For my sobriety I just bite my tongue, take a breath and move on.

Despite small inconveniences throughout the day, I manage to live a simple yet meaningful life. I may not have a job, my own home, money in my pocket, etc. But I am sober and enjoying life today. It reminds me of the 9th Step promises:

“We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will materialize if we work for them.”  

Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book, pg. 83 and 84

Change Is Never Easy

Change has never been easy for me; it wouldn’t surprise me to learn changes for anyone aren’t easy. After a certain period of time, we develop a habit tending to stick to the ritual day in and out. However, when you through a wrench in your circadian rhythm (“body clock” or “24-hour cycle”, it makes harder. Now your battle is on two fronts – mentally and physically.

Everything is turned around lately. I can’t focus. However, I tend to wander off in various directions when presented anyway. Lately, it’s really bad. Coupled with forgetfulness, it makes it especially frustrating. I thought my reversing my day (i.e. 7 a.m. = 7 p.m. for me), it would help my physical body adjust. It just ain’t happening.

I’ve learned through sobriety, you must be patient (not with only change but with everything). Things don’t happen overnight no matter how much we want them (selfishness). I’ve found one must challenge oneself to these new changes.

Then there is sabotage (selfishness and greediness), as I do very often.  Down in my subconscious, I believe if asked to pick up extra shifts at work I’ll be in the spotlight, thus not be touched by anything perhaps I’m doing wrong. In reality, I know this is delusional thinking. This type of thinking, for me, is the hardest to change.

Right now I need to be selfish in another way; taking care of myself is the most important. What comes to mind is the “Just Say No [to drugs]” campaign. I found when I’m able to separate my employment from my personal life (and for me, that is extremely difficult at times), I’m better equipped to take care of myself. Knowing this, I simply need to say “No” when it comes to opportunities at work.

It’s this reoccurring theme in my life sitting on my “defects of character” list. It has so many names, perhaps I need to revisit it (which eventually I will) in due time.

My Absence

The whole month of October continues to be a difficult one for me. Mostly all job related has added much stress in my life.  I suffered a TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack) or “mini-stroke” back in May 2011, as a result of my addiction.  While I’ve tried to change my lifestyle (i.e. losing weight, eating healthy, starting a fitness routine, etc.), I have not been really proactive at it on a daily basis. Thankfully, I have a three day weekend. Therefore, I’m going to continue a sabbatical from this blog and concentrate on my spirituality. Things need to change very quickly.

My blood pressure is up 20 points which concerns me. I know I have too much stress in my life (as documented here). There are times when my anger gets ahold of me and I haven’t had that happen, as it does now, in many years. I’m now fearing for my job as four people have been terminated in the last week. So hearing this adds much more added pressure.

Since I moved to my new home, I have not had the chance to set up a new Primary Care Provider. While I would like to stay with United Healthcare Systems (because all my history is there), I’m also thinking to change to something different. Right now I”m leaning on staying with UHS due to the current situation. However, doing so would require a “new patient visit” and a “follow up appointment”. Thankfully my current meds are still renewed through my old PCP. The point is I need to get the ball rolling on a new PCP.

I have not dealt with the death of Heart, my cat, well either. Many days I’m more depressed than anything because I have no one to talk to or care for. While I promised myself I would do so when I moved in July, I really haven’t. Instead, my concentration was on Heart. Now that Heart is gone, its hard to move the focus back to me. I’m not sure if I’ve gone through all the grieving stages.

I need to revisit all of the 12 Steps. I have grown complacent in the last couple of months not truly “living the program”. That needs to change before something drastic happens to my sobriety.

I’m almost ONE MONTH from TEN YEARS of sobriety. I’m NOT going to through it all away. Right now, I have that choice but if things progress down the road I’m going, I may not be here at all.

 

Adopting the Minimalist Lifestyle

minimalism-min

Most of my life, both in active addiction and recovery, I have stockpiled crap. During my active addiction, it was like another obsession, “I could always use this later . . . ” However, during my sobriety, its more on the lines of, “I don’t want to lose this . . .” With my pending move to a new home, I’ve decided to adopt a new minimalist lifestyle. As Step 12 suggests, “. . . , practicing these principles in all our affairs.”

First, I put a twist on the most common slogan, “One Day at a Time”. In this case, taking the monumental task of just one section of the current home. After reading hundreds of articles on a minimalist lifestyle, I finally got my arse up away from the computer to tackle the walk in closet.

I took a tape measure out from a toolset (one I’ve never opened) measuring the space to be approximately 5 feet deep by 7.5 feet tall. It was stacked with stuff about 4 feet. Bags of JUNK from front to back. There are old computer parts (printers, screens, misc., etc.) and bags of unknown origins. So I took the most difficult step for me – throwing it all away. While some of it sits in the front room, a quarter of it sits in my car ready to be hauled to a willing commercial trash can.

It was a difficult task. Part of me, the new me, didn’t want to bother looking into the bag. If I didn’t know what it was – trash pile. On the other hand, there were strong impulses to go through each bag, “Just in case, you may need something . . .” It reminded me of my early days of sobriety. So, I adopted the same principles like I do in my sobriety:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol the compulsion to save things –that our lives had become unmanageable.

Like in sobriety, I admit complete defeat. My Gods, I’ve buried my Self in a pile of JUNK over 4 feet high! Why? Because of my fear of losing things in my life again. I’m accepting the truth of the situation. I don’t and can’t live this way anymore. There is no need. I’m attempting to hold on to material things which, in reality, have no meaning in my life anymore. They are just things. I should no longer fear losing everything. I have to let it go!

Already, I have a sense of relief and sadness. I’m relieved the task if over. It’s been years, day after day, I told myself I would get rid of everything. Now the junk is out on the floor and ready to go! It’s like writing Step 1 on paper. Yet, part of me feels sad I’m throwing a part of my life away. Am I? Perhaps I’m not “throwing a part of my life” but simply “closing another chapter in my life, getting ready to write a new one”!

I made a promise to myself of change. I”m moving to a brand new place with the absolute minimum. It’s like writing a new chapter in my life on a blank page. I’m actually excited. I don’t know what the future holds, as it has yet to be written. But I do know this, We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.” That is the goal and I’m just one Step, closer!

 

Getting Off the Rollercoaster

“Please stay seated as the cars enter the terminal. Once the train comes to a complete stop you may depart. Please enjoy your day.” The last week feels like I just got off another rollercoaster. My Sponsor and I, despite what he believes right now, aren’t exactly on good terms. I’ve turned into a workaholic lately, partially because of my own selfishness and other times its beyond my control. An ongoing relationship with an incarcerated individual finally came full circle; karma kicks his arse – again. Yet, through all the ups and down this week, I truly believe my future will bring new beginnings.

A post this week, A Short Fuse, I wrote about my relationship with my Sponsor. Despite what he believes, I don’t think that this relationship is salvageable. Here we are full circle again, a rough time in the relationship and I feel I just need to get off. It’s just not healthy for either of us.

I’m become a workaholic. Monday I worked 3 p.m. to 7 a.m. because a third shift employee called in unable to work. In that case, I was mandated having no other choice but to work a full shift. However, once you are mandated for the week, typically you are free to choose otherwise if it happens again. Last night, two employees called unable to work on third shift. I had already started working at 12 p.m. at the request of my Director of Nursing (DON) and another employee left at 9 p.m. to return at 4 a.m. to relive me. Only she didn’t show up at 4 a.m. nor did she show up at 7 a.m., as scheduled. Thus, I worked a 19 hour day (12 p.m. to 7 a.m., if I’m doing the math right?) However, I told them I would NOT be working this evening, which was granted with no questions asked. I need rest before I get as sick as some of our residents recently.

I ate my McDonalds (breakfast, lunch and dinner) on the couch, I passed out at some point only to wake up to the loud, pounding of drums from the downstairs neighbor. It’s not his fault; he can only assume that I work a normal 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift. So I’ve been up a couple of hours doing little things before I head back to work.

Not surprisingly, I received a letter from my friend who is incarcerated in an Upstate prison. I haven’t heard from him in two weeks, yet the last time we spoke I knew that bad things were brewing in his corner. As he wrote me, “It was a matter of time before I got sent to the box. Now I’m here until May 15th.” Apparently, he was involved in an altercation. Again, a good thing for both of us. I knew he was reverting back to his old ways which would eventually lead him to this situation but he ignored my warnings. It’s nothing I can control. It provides me a breather from the exhausting communications via phone that were beginning to get out of hand.

I asked for this. I prayed for a period of peace for myself to take care of myself. Now I can. Though I have worked long hours, the funds are helping to secure a new home closer to work in the near future. For those of us working during Storm Stella, we received an unexpected bonus last week. I was also reimbursed for my hotel expenses. There is the overtime pay too.

The 30 inches of snow laid down last week by Stella is almost non-existent due to warmer temperatures and recent rains. Spring is beginning to bring about change. A change I’m looking forward to in my life. The rollercoaster has come to an end.