There Must Be A Spiritual Change

(I’d like to first say that my Higher Power is God and I speak of God throughout this article.  However, for those who have something other than God for their Higher Power, this article will benefit you as well because a spiritual change can happen whether you are a believer of God or not.  I have witnessed many times from AA meetings that people do experience spiritual changes even though God is not their higher power.)

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Anyone that has been sober for any length of time will tell you that in order to overcome your addictions and be successful in your goal to quit drugs and alcohol for good,  there MUST be a spiritual change within yourself.  To start this spiritual change we need to see and understand ourselves.  We literally have to study how we think and how we feel.  First let me say that spiritual changes in our life do not happen over night.  In fact, you will see growth and changes in your spiritual condition pretty much throughout your whole life.  Spiritual change is a process and sometimes it is a slow process.  You may see your spiritual condition changing quickly in some areas but in other areas it may takes months or years for you to see a change.  Just remember, God knows when to open your eyes towards something and He knows whether or not you are ready to handle it and understand it.

Let’s back up a little to understand  what the word “Spiritual” really means.   Spirituality is closely tied to the core sense of we are as a person.  Spirituality is the journey of self-discovery.  It is your connectedness with others and the world spiritualaround us.  Spirituality embraces the concept of searching for meaning, purpose and direction for your life.  Developing your spiritual life can bring you a overall sense of well being.  It can bring peace and joy  into your life and it helps us deal with trials and tribulations in a constructive manner because our spirituality has enabled us to mature in our coping skills.

Spirituality relates to the human spirit.  Humans consist of 3 things:

  • we have a physical body – arms, legs, head, shoulders, hands, etc.
  • we have a soul – this part is your individuality, your emotions, your mind, and your will.  (how we feel, how we think and how we make choices).
  • we have a spirit – it desires to know and love God and  will live forever in heaven after we have died.

For an alcoholic or addict to overcome their vices there must be a spiritual change.  Sobriety will not last without this happening.   A basic list of spiritual principles are:

hope
surrender
acceptance
honesty
open mindedness
willingness
faith
tolerance
patience
humility
unconditional love
sharing and caring

So often, a person stops drinking and throws his hands up asking, “Okay, now what?”  The answer is—we start the work.  When I first heard someone say this I grumbled under my breath.  Work?  I have too much going on every day, now I have more work to do?.  Ugh.  To look at it another way………there is a beautiful and exciting life out there and it is just waiting for the alcoholic to make their first decision toward that life…….that decision is SURRENDER. 

I will be working on more posts in the near future about the topic of “Spiritual Change” and will go a little deeper into the 12 spiritual principals that are written above.

I hope everyone is having a super fantastic day and may God bless you and prosper you this day! –Smile

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The Temptation To Catch A Buzz

resist

Belief in an instant cure for addiction will put our recovery at risk;  on the other hand, belief that we will someday be beyond the reach of temptation is also dangerous.

Unfortunately, temptation is a permanent part of our sinful world and of human experience.  The Bible says, ”The temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience.”  No only is temptation all around us; it is within us as well.”

Temptation comes from the lure of our desires.

day after

How you feel tomorrow…

using today

Giving into temptation today…

We are usually tempted the most when we are hungry, angry or tired.

If we put away the false belief that temptation will magically disappear when we return to God, we will be more aware and able to avoid giving in to temptations’ power.  We need to prayerfully seek God’s help in dealing with the reality of life.

God will keep the temptation from being so strong that you can’t stand up against it.  When you are tempted He will ALWAYS show you a way out so that you will not give up .

Meet Meeko

meeko

My dog Meeko
“The cutest dog ever”

There Is More To Life Than Drinking

flower

Life can still develop out of something that appears dead

As the years went by and I continued to make alcohol a major part of my life, I had many, many years of inner turmoil and negative consequences.  Close to death on 3 occasions, many visits to the local jail, rehabs, detox centers, drunk tanks, counseling centers, probation…..ugh.  The list goes on.  It’s ridiculous.

The majority of crimes committed today have alcohol or drugs involved.  Whenever I was arrested, there was alcohol or drugs in my system.  I think the most horrifying time was when I woke up in a psych ward strapped down to a bed with 5 point restraints on my legs and arms.  I had no idea how I got there.  I remember being in a bar and remember taking a bunch of benzos.5 point  I remember meeting a guy and going back to his place to go swimming.  I remember he had a really nice house and swimming pool.  That’s all I remember.  This poor guy had no idea what he was in for when he met me that day!!  I probably scared him half to death and he called the paramedics.  I was later told I was punching and kicking the paramedics as they were trying to help me.  Horrible.

I woke up with all this black charcoal all over me.  The nurses told me they put charcoal down my throat because they weren’t sure what I had taken.  They said when I “behave” they will unstrap me.  I stayed calm for an hour or so and they removed the restraints and allowed me to get up and walk around.  I went to the nurses station and asked them, “Where am I?”  They said “You are in the psychiatric unit of the hospital.”  I remember when they said this I was very confused.  “What?  Are you kidding me?”  She had a look of disgust on her face.  From there I was put under a “Marchman Act”, which is similar to a Baker Act but it is put in place by police and medical professionals.   I am in custody, not allowed to leave but I am not arrested or going to jail.  I’m going to the looney bin.

coocoonest

One flew over the coo coo’s nest

They sent me to a Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU).  This is a place where people who are suicidal, as well as people with severe mental disorders are sent.  Some volunteer to be there, some don’t.  The doctors and nurses at the CSU know me.  When they saw me, they said “Hi, Michele I see your back again.  What happened this time?”  I was humiliated and embarrassed.  I had been sober for 4 weeks before this terrifying incident took place.  The night before this happened I had attended a NA meeting, met with a recovering addict, and felt good in my sobriety.  Relapses can hit you like a punch in the face.  Out of nowhere.   After the CSU stay I volunteered to go to live at a halfway house.  I stayed sober for 3 months and relapsed after losing my job.  That relapse also sent me to the hospital (almost died again) and I was sent back to CSU….but I will save that story for another time.  Perhaps I will later write a post titled, “My trips to the looney bin”.  Smile

You may be thinking, when is this girl going to learn?  Well, that’s what all my family and friends were saying.  I was a hard case.  A really hard case.  The other “hard cases” I have met in rehabs and jails, are dead now.  Seriously.  I have met many girls just like me and much younger who have died from this disease.  I remember seeing a girl at the entrance of a rehab who was desperate to quit using.  We both were on our way in to get help.  We  sat outside and she cried for an hour.  I gave her comfort and encouragement as best I could.  We both got sober and went to outpatient treatment.  Within 2 weeks, I heard she died from overdose.  I couldn’t believe it.

I share this story with you because I hope to show those who are unsure about where their drinking can lead that it does get worse.  This is a disease that kills people!!

God had a purpose for my life.  He didn’t want me to leave the earth that day.  I have given God way too many chances to take my life and yet He keeps me here.  I want to see what He has in store for me.  It’s obviously not a life or drinking and using drugs.  I don’t know what the purpose is yet but I have to remain sober to find out! 

My life now can be actually pretty boring and normal.  I love it!!!!   I love boring.  I love remembering the previous day.  I love that people don’t have a “look of disgust” when they look at me.   I love that I can get up every day and go to a job.  I love that I don’t feel like crap every day!    I love that I can pay bills and not spend all my money on substances that will kill me.  What a difference!!  God has made this possible.  Not me.  He gets all the credit.

Today I will keep things simple, trust God and not pick up.  It’s that simple.

What does it take to stop drinking?

drink no more

How many times have we said to ourselves, “That’s It!  I am not going to drink ever again!  I can’t live like this anymore!  This time I’m really going to do it.  NO MORE!”

If I had a dime for every time I said this, I would have a gazillion dimes.  I was one of those hard cases that never learned their lesson.  I was one of those cases that had every intention to never pick up a drink again….and yet…..still did eventually.  I would last maybe 3 days, maybe 3 weeks, maybe a month.  It took me a long time to even get 3 whole months together.

I remember how jealous I use to be when I heard an alcoholic in recovery had managed to not drink for 2 or 3 weeks.  This number seemed unattainable for me!  Why?  Why am I so different?  Why can they do it and I can’t?  What will it take?

A vital part of understanding the “why” of my situation, I had to understand the obsession and compulsion associated with my drinking.  First off, a normal drinker does not obsess about alcohol.  The so-called normal drinker does not worry, fret, or constantly think about when they are going to drink again.  They may or may not have a drink with their dinner.  They do not “drink” their dinner.  They know that drinking more than 2 isn’t usually a good idea, so they can refrain from drinking too much without effort.  Limiting the number of drinks is no big deal.  A normal drinker can take it or leave it and not give it much thought.  They don’t crave.  They don’t obsess.

“The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker.”  More About Alcoholism, AA Big Book, Chapter 3

I obsessed over alcohol.  Even now, I have to be careful not to let my mind wander too much and when it does I have to change my thoughts.  I have a thinking disease.  Alcoholism is not just a documented medical disease, it is also a thinking disease!  No magic pill can change my way of thinking.  But there is hope!  I was able to change my way of thinking by the help of God.  God is my Higher Power.  I had to believe in something greater than myself.  I could not control my thinking or my drinking.  I had to have help that was bigger than me.  Bigger than rehabs.  Bigger than people.  Bigger than family.  Bigger than knowledge or self-awareness.  That bigger thing for me is God.  Only through God wasgod restores I able to change my thoughts and my habits.  I tried for years to figure this thing out on my own.  I couldn’t do it.  My track record spoke for itself.  I had to admit I couldn’t do it on my own and need something greater than myself.  I tried all different ways before looking to God for help.  It was only when I looked to God that my life started to change. 

The compulsion to drink, for an alcoholic, is a powerful force.  It can be so strong that a seemingly normal person will give in to a compulsion and destroy the good things in their life.  It doesn’t make sense to those on the outside looking in.  And in all fairness, it doesn’t make sense to an alcoholic either!  What is the defense to an overwhelming compulsion to drink?  For me, it is talking about it and seeking God for help.  Being honest with myself is also very important.

I am in no way perfect in my sobriety but I am MUCH BETTER and making progress.  I had a drinking slip that ended in a DUI last year.  I gave up no defense when the thought of girlwinehaving a glass of wine popped into my head.  I had been sober a long time before that.  What happened to make me drink?  Nothing.  A thought.  A compulsion.  That was all it took.  This disease is so baffling because the thought had entered my mind many times before and I wouldn’t allow myself to give in.  Why this occasion was different was because I didn’t fight the compulsion like I did the day before and the day before that.

People that know me now know that I quit drinking.  These people have no idea what I use to be like.  By looking at me and meeting me you would never guess that I use to walk the streets, was a drug addict and lived a life that only drugs could bring you to.  Today I am responsible and reliable.  Today I can be trusted.  I have a nice (rented) house, a car, a sweet little dog and a decent job.  This didn’t happen overnight.  It has taken me years of fighting this disease to be able to have “things” again.  The DUI almost ruined everything.  I could have lost it all.  Thank God for my family and an understanding boss.  Faith in God and living sober is the only life for me now.

For those trying to quit, please don’t be discouraged…the main point to go away with from this article is don’t give up no matter how many slips you have.  There is nothing wrong with Day 1.  You have to have day 1 before you can get day 2…day 3…..and so on.

To get well and stay well, we have to throw out the idea that we are like other people.  An alcoholic can never become a normal drinker.  The obsession and compulsion to drink like a normal person is a fantasy.  It is a lie. 

It wasn’t only outward consequences that got me to quit.  It was mainly the inner turmoil and mental pain I was in.  I hated my life.  I hated living back and forth with my drinking.  I lived in a deep depression and anxiety so severe my body shook like a chihuahua.  My former life could be summarized as inner misery and self hatred.  Not a way to live….I had to make a decision and seek God for help.  He is my answer to quitting and staying quit. 

Emotional Triggers

A “trigger” is something that can trigger you into having a drink or a drug.  It can be a person, place or thing that gives us an overwhelming desire to drink.  It can bolster a craving or give us unrelenting thoughts to pick and use.  Triggers can lead to a quick relapse without much thinking involved or a trigger can bolster a thought that just won’t shut up and over a short period of time leads us to drink.

I would say the hardest part of sobriety for me is dealing with emotions.  No one likes to be upset but an alcoholic deals with emotions differently than other people.  My instinct is to avoid negative and uncomfortable feelings.  My first instinct to escape and get rid of these feelings.  I’m dealing with something now in my life that has been causing my emotions to range from anger to fear to depression.glass-broken-glass-crack-red-water-Favim.com-559680  A relapse 10 months ago led to my first DUI.   Even after 10 months of sobriety, I get the urge to drink.  It’s not that I really want to drink.  I don’t want to!  What I want is to stop feeling this way.

For the past couple weeks my emotions have been up and down, up and down.  Every day.  I’ve been thinking waaaay too much about my life, but I’ve been in a horrible financial situation where it’s all I can think about.  I try to give my mind a rest but it ultimately goes back to my current situation.  Even  my prayers seem muddled and distracted with thoughts of fear and discomfort.  I ask God for help and then I feel a wave of fear and dread come over me.  It’s awful and I’ve been holding on tight and proud to say I have not picked up a drink.  My disease is telling me to though.  My disease is telling me it will be okay and I will be comforted by a few drinks.  “Just get some relief for a little while”, it tells me.  “You deserve it.  Stop worrying and give yourself some comfort”, it tells me.

First of all, these are all lies!!  This I know.  This I have experienced over and over again.  I have given into these lies so many times there is no calculator to hold the number.  What I have learned through the years is that after I have drank alcohol or have taken a drug, in the days to come, my depression and anxiety gets worse.  And I mean way worse!  The thought of me feeling worse outweighs the thought of getting a few hours of comfort from alcohol.  I don’t want to feel worse so that is why I don’t pick up right now.  I’ve had to go back to the basics these past couple weeks and live one day at a time.  Meaning, I tell myself, “just for today I will not drink.  Just get through the end of the day without drinking.”  By keeping my thoughts one day at a time, it makes it easier for me to handle the stress.  This is a fundamental truth taught in AA.  This is a concept that I urge everyone to grasp.  It’s not easy but when you wake up the next day and reflect on your previous day, it does give you a subtle comfort in knowing you conquered your demons one more day and didn’t pick up that drink no matter how awful you felt.  It is a victory by far!!

So today I make a decision to not drink or escape.  I am going to give my mind a rest.  I have to for sanity’s sake.  I have a heavy feeling over me, but I’m not going to let it lead me to relapse today.

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