Too Many Thoughts…

white_knuckles

I’ve been struggling.  I’ve been having daily thoughts of drinking and using.  Justifying.  Rationalizing.  Contemplating.  I find myself fantasizing about it and even though I try to quickly think of something else, it inevitably creeps its way back into my head.  Even if I am successful with replacing these thoughts with something else, I wind up dreaming about it!!  Not only am I dreaming about it, I am enjoying it in my dreams.  The dream is usually the same in context.  The context being I am always trying to get the drug and most the time am not successful.  I feel the stress in my dreams.  Always searching, searching for it.  The rare occasion that I am successful in actually getting the drug, once I ingest it in some manner, I don’t get high from it.  The other night I had a powerful dream where I almost felt the high and woke up gasping and sat straight up in bed.

I’ve been emotional and very irritable.  People  are pissing me off.  Traffic is pissing me off.  Even a kind word from a stranger pisses me off.  I want a flippiin’ drink or a pill to chill me out.   Not one pill, many pills.  I’m craving a margarita or three or four.   I know there may be a few factors as to why I’m feeling like this but it doesn’t really matter what those factors are.  I’ve thought about going to an AA meeting but those people will just piss me off too.

I’ve been sober for over a year now.  So wtf is going on?  I realize I am on very dangerous ground here.  All of this has the ear marks of a relapse.  I’m worried.  I’m scared.  I want to cry.   I’m tired.  I hate this.   Prayer isn’t helping.  Reading sobriety blogs isn’t helping.  Reading my own blog isn’t helping.  Nothing is helping.  I’m essentially white knuckling it.  And that is pissing me off too.

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Warning Signs H.A.L.T

haltOne of the best things I’ve learning in recovery is this world “H.A.L.T.  It stands for:

Hungry

Angry

Lonely

Tired

These simple words can be a great warning sign for an alcoholic.  All of us out there who are trying to stay sober must live a life of self-care and self-awareness.  Taking care of ourselves is a daily thing.  Being self aware of our behaviors, emotions and feelings should also be  on a daily check list.

Many times a person has relapsed because we have let our self get too hungry, too angry, too lonely and too tired.  Being aware of H.A.L.T. can help warn us something is happening before we reach that breaking point.

Hunger 

We should make sure our hunger for food doesn’t get misplaced into anger anddonebestupods irritability.  I for one can relate to how people act when they are hungry.  I work as a waitress and it’s funny how irritable and short tempered my customers can be when they first sit down at the table and yet once I’ve gotten food in their stomachs they are sweet as pie towards me.  I also relate to the feeling of hunger because in the past I found that if I was hungry the craving to drink was intensified and my resistance and strength were low which of course is a dangerous position for a recovering alcoholic to be in.

Hunger can also be an emotional need we to be aware of.  Hunger can also manifest into being hungry for love, attention and understanding.  Hunger can accompany bad moods, unclear thinking, low energy and a decreased ability to cope.  In those moments when we may be feeling drained, overwhelmed or irritable, we should ask ourselves, “When was the last time I ate?

Anger

angryjpg

” tred lightly…. I’m a little po’d “

We all get angry and although this can be a healthy emotion, most of us manage anger in a destructive way, an aggressive way and act impulsively resulting in a negative consequence.  The first thing to do is acknowledge we are feeling angry and why we are angry.   The next step is diffuse this anger in a constructive way.  Some examples are taking a long walk, getting away from the situation to cool yourself down.  Try cleaning house or punching a pillow.  Make yourself sit down and say a prayer while taking deep breaths.  Another good release from anger is simply venting to another person.  Make sure it’s someone you trust and has the ability to calm you down.  However you choose to release your anger the first step is to recognize it when it starts.

Anger was a trigger for me when it came to relapsing.  I noticed that if I got upset with my parents or my boss, my first thought was to use.  This is an emotion I have to be in constant awareness and in control of.  Many times, my response was inflated because I hadn’t eaten all day.

Lonely

Prior to treatment, loneliness was a big trigger for me.  I have drank many a times becomes I was just simply “lonely”.  Many alcoholics mask these feelings of loneliness by abusing alcohol or drugs.  Once we start in recovery we are taught that loneliness can be very seductive.  When we feel alone we can also become depressed, overwhelmed and anxious.  Drinking when we are lonely doesn’t solve anything.  It can actually intensify the feeling oflonely dog loneliness and intensify our depression and anxiety.

The solution to loneliness is to turn to support systems and connect to others.  There are soooo many AA and NA meetings that can help us in our loneliness.  Staying plugged into a program of socializing with others that deal with the same problem is imperative to our recovery.  Stay close and tell your feelings to a family member or spouse is helpful too.

Tiredness

Tiredness takes a toll on our minds, bodies and spirit.  Tiredness can be a product of difficult circumstances and depressions.     Getting a satisfying nights sleep can be rejuvenating and get us back to feeling normal.  I for one suffer from insomnia.  It can be difficult to function sleepyday by day when I’m not getting enough of a rejuvenation sleep.  When we are running on empty our thought processes and ability to cope are severely comprised.  I become more sensitive.  Little things will bother me and my feelings get hurt easily.  This can make our daily lives very difficult.  I know this personally.  Sometimes we just need to take a day off work and sleep.  We need to be aware when we overly tied and its best to relax, put our feet up and just take care of ourselves and sleep as much as we need to so we can get back to normal and handle our responsibilities once we get the rest we need to do out best.

H.A.L.T. can serve as a reminder to all of us that we need to take care of our basic needs every day. For an addict, that is even more important because neglecting your wellbeing can lead to relapse. So, take a moment each day to stop and check in with yourself. Ask yourself, “Am I hungry, angry, lonely, or tired?

Spiritual Changes – Honesty

honestcat

We put the drink down.  Now what?  In my last post I wrote about how we need to have a spiritual change in our lives if we want to remain living a sober life.  So where do we start?

I believe we start with honesty.  If we’re not going to be honest with ourselves about our problem with alcohol than we might as well forget about all the other stuff involved in recovery.  It all starts with being honest with ourselves.  We stop lying to our self.  We stop lying to others.  We come clean and admit we’re out of control and need help.  We admit we can’t do it on our own.

So much of our lives revolved around falsehoods and lies (when we were in active addiction and actively drinking).  We would be sneaky about how much we drank and where we would hide it in the house.  We never told anyone the full truth about our drinking that is for sure.  At least, I know I didn’t.  They wouldn’t understand and they would be disappointed in me.  That’s what makes AA and other programs like it so amazing.  It is a room full of people who are just like me.  I don’t have to act like someone else or sneak around or feel ashamed of my behavior around these people.  I’m not real big on sharing honestwthe details of my drunken escapades and I don’t think anyone else is either.  We all have our stories of living in excess.  We all have our own horror stories.  What we DO want to talk about is the solution.  We want to talk about how to get better.  We want to focus on getting well and living a decent life. 

I think living a life of honesty takes some time though.  And I don’t think everything needs to be addressed in very early sobriety either.  People carry around a lot of hurts inside them.   Some of these hurts are very deep rooted and are best dealt with after getting a little sober time under our belt.  Stuffing down these hurts brings fuel to other behaviors.  It takes a lot of time to work through issues from the past.    So when I am speaking about honesty in this article, it is the honesty of admitting we have an addiction and we can’t get better on our own.  We admit we are powerless and need God to help us.  We admit we are alcoholic and reach out to someone in recovery to help us.  We become honest to ourselves and stop hiding behind our behaviors.

Most of us who get to the point of wanting a life of sobriety have been through A LOT of crappy things spread out over years and years.  Being able to hide within ourselves has been a means of defense and a means of survival our whole life.  Having to become honest with another person makes us feel very vulnerable and uncomfortable.  But it is within this vulnerable situation of being honest about ourselves and telling another person that a new freedom will enter your life!  Your shoulders will feel lighter.  You can lift your head a little higher when your walking.  You don’t have to be nervous about looking people in the eye because you are making a tremendous step to becoming a better you! 

Once we start getting honest with ourselves we will have a new freedom.  But being honest with ourselves isn’t just about the behaviors and things we need to fix or work on.  Being honest with ourselves is also recognizing the amazing and wonderful qualities we have!!  These qualities have been drowned out and drugged for a long time.  There may be something new you learn about yourself.  How cool would that be!?   Maybe you have an awesome sense of humor, so start cracking jokes again.  Maybe you’re really good at playing card tricks, so at your next get together with friends or family bring a deck of cards.   Maybe you have a nice singing voice but you haven’t been sober long enough to let yourself sing a whole song.  So make a point to sing every time you take a shower!  We have to be honest about the negative but we also have to be honest about the positive. betterperson

Recovering alcoholics and addicts are really amazing people.  Most of them are highly intelligent, will give you the shirt off their back, are the hardest working employee you will ever have and they are an amazing and dependable friend!  Alcohol and drugs change us from being those things.  It’s never too late to give up the drink.  It’s never too late to start getting honest and start becoming the person you want to be.

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.)

sky

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

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 .

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.