Posted in advice, alcoholism, Blogging, faith, inner peace, Learning, Life, recovery, twelve step

The Courage to Face Yourself

courage

I remember the exact moment that it hit me. The moment when I realized that the only reason I was still using every bit of energy I had, every resource I could scrounge up, to come up with some pittance of dope day after day. It wasn’t to get high- I couldn’t get high anymore if I wanted to, that ship had long since sailed. It was to keep myself one step ahead of what was constantly nipping at my heels. The truth. The truth about who I had become, and what I had made of my life. The truth about the wreckage I had caused, and the collateral damage…the pain I had inflicted on everyone around me.

I was in my living room, in a shitty apartment in Reno, Nevada, and I was stalking around the way I always did- restless, agitated, trying to figure out my next hustle. Half out of my mind from lack of sleep and fried brain cells, and it hit me. A moment of clarity that I really wasn’t looking for.

“You’re going to have to face yourself, eventually.” The thought came out of nowhere, and it was one of those weird moments where it sounded like my own voice in my head, but it didn’t feel like it came from me. I didn’t want to hear it, but I couldn’t help it. I remember that I stopped my pacing, and considered what my head had just told me. I wasn’t ready yet, not at that moment, but something had happened. A seed had been planted, blown into me from somewhere- maybe it was God, maybe it was just my own desperate psyche, trying to save me. I don’t know.

After that, weird little moments kept cropping up- I would be in the bathroom, brushing my teeth, and catch sight of myself in the mirror, and find myself thinking “Can I even get back to the person I used to be? Does she even exist anymore? What if she isn’t real? What if all I am is this nightmare of a human being?” Or, at two in the morning, I’d find myself nodding off on the couch, thinking “What if I can’t change? What if this is just who I am?”

I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back, I can see that all those questions were more than just idle thoughts. They were the very beginning of my escape plan. The very idea of doing something different was so absurd, so foreign to me, that at first, all I could handle were these tiny little thoughts. Eventually, they grew and grew, until I had worn myself out enough that I had no choice but to drop from exhaustion. My first surrender was pure exhaustion, so complete that I couldn’t even wave a white flag. I just gave up because I had nothing left in me to keep going.

My first spin through recovery was more of a reprieve. I made it two years, I relapsed for one day, then made it another year. I went through the motions, learned all the acronyms, went to meetings, thought I was getting somewhere. But after all that time, when the opportunity to use came along again, I jumped at it, and it wasn’t long before I was right back where I’d been before, with the exception that I was now employable, responsible, and really good at faking my way through life. In short, I was a functioning addict now as opposed to the totally dysfunctional one I had been before. Progress, right? Yeah, I don’t think so.

When I got clean again almost three years ago, I had no idea how different this time would be for me. I had no clue that I was finally ready, and that the work I was about to embark on would be painful, hard and the most life-changing thing I could do for myself. Thank God I didn’t know! If I had, I never would have had the courage to start. I have unearthed things I never wanted to look at again, I have told the truth about things I hadn’t even known I was lying about all my life. It has been gut wrenching and frightening at times- to see myself in the most unflattering of lights, to realize what a mess I made, not just of my own life, but of the lives I was responsible for. My kids definitely carry the shrapnel of my battles in their skin. There are some things I will never be able to fix, unless someone figures out how to build a time machine.

But even so…what could I do? My past mistakes are so intrinsically linked to the joys of my life, they could never be separated. I had to be who I was to make the choices I made to get to exactly where I am. If I went back in time and changed one thing, I would not be this person sitting here, writing this, right now. The framed pictures of my children that I can see would not be there, because they wouldn’t be here, none of it would.

So, if I couldn’t change any of it, and if it was so painful to face, why do it at all? You might ask. Why not just leave the past in the past and move forward, leave all that shit behind you. The only thing I can tell you about that is, there is no peace in burying the truth. The moment I found the courage to face the ugly truth, the moment I took responsibility for who I had been and what I had done, the past lost its power over me. I still have moments, nearly every day, where I feel remorse or regret over something that happened long ago. But they are just twinges now, they don’t feel like a punch in the gut anymore. And that really IS progress.

You cannot heal and hide at the same time. Anyone can run away from the truth, or bury it- but you can’t bury it deep enough to keep it away. The truth ALWAYS finds a way back to the surface. The most courageous thing I have ever done in my life wasn’t getting clean- it was inviting the truth up to meet me, seeing it for what it was, and finally, setting myself free.

via Daily Prompt: Courage

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Posted in advice, humor, Life, People, random

How To Survive Your Disastrous Life

Hi guys! I never got around to writing anything today, but I do have this little “draft” that’s been hanging out here forever- please note, this was prior to my “little episode”, so if you hear a distinct, biting undertone to my writing, don’t worry…I’m not backsliding, just posting old stuff.  Enjoy!

I’ve been ruminating over different variations of this theme for weeks and weeks now (How to live life; Things I wish I’d learned earlier; How to not totally suck at life, etc…), but tonight it occurred to me that the one thing I have heard again and again, from many people, about myself is that I am “strong”. It has been my experience that when all sorts of people who do not know each other tell you the same thing about yourself, there is probably some truth to it. So, though I don’t really feel especially strong, I will concede that I do have certain attributes (both inherent and learned) that have made it less painful to live through the insanity and upheaval I have built my world upon. So, I will be happy to tell you my secrets in case you were considering trading your good credit, security and relative happiness for the bipolar white trash amusement park I call my own. Here goes:

To really flourish in a messy life, the best thing you can do is #1) Be young and be pretty. This will really give you an advantage anywhere you are. It’s not considered “PC” to think this way, of course, but let’s cut the shit, shall we? Young and pretty gets you in the door every time. Unfortunately, most of us don’t realize the power we possess until after we lose it. So the best advice I can give to young, pretty, chaos-prone women is-ENJOY IT WHILE IT LASTS! If you cannot be young and pretty, you need to be able to make people think you are, anyway, by thinking so yourself. I have seen really unattractive women pull this off so well that I forgot how unattractive they were and became jealous of how comfy they were with themselves rather than snarky about their bad luck in the face department. If you can’t pull that off, either, you really need to be willing to do just about anything in bed or clean houses and cook amazing food for free. Disastrous lifers often find themselves without a permanent home, and must rely on the kindness of friends to stay off the streets. Food and the ability to help out inspire that kind of kindness.

2) Okay, so number one was kind of a joke…although it was also kind of true. That’s not something one can count on for long, though (ever, in some cases) , and it’s really not all that important at all in the long run. #2, however, is for real: Have an amazing sense of humor- how can you tell if this is something you already have? Easy. Do you crack up at your own jokes all the time? Do you sometimes burst into laughter while driving, alone, in your car because you just thought of something hilarious? Well then, you probably do. And really, as long as you think you do, you do. We’re talking about how to survive your own life, so the ability to laugh, especially at yourself, is indispensable. Life is ludicrous and terrible, sometimes. Things go so, so wrong that all’s you CAN do is laugh. Or cry, I guess. Laughing is usually my preference, and it’s way less upsetting to the people around you.

3)Don’t be afraid. I’m not saying be an idiot, either, don’t misunderstand. What I’m saying is dragging your feet and digging in your nails to hold onto your safe little spot (even though we both know it’s just familiar misery) is lame. What are you afraid of? That you might wind up screwing up and letting all of THIS (see above) go for a whole new load of shit? Well, at least it’s a NEW load of shit! You have to keep moving forward. Even if you are afraid, you just do what you think you should do anyway. When I was twenty nine, I loaded everything I owned into my Camry and moved to another state, to a town where I did not know a soul. Was it nuts? Yes. Was I scared? A little, at first. Was it worth it? It may have been the single best decision of my life- I had nothing left where I was living, and no prospects. A bad reputation and a lot of burned bridges. So I bailed. The first year was an eye opener, and I saw how bad life could really get, having a serious drug problem in a gambling city. But I turned it around, and ended up being the best I have ever been by the time I left. So suck it up, and move, already!

4) Never relinquish hope and optimism. I feel like this really goes hand in hand with the sense of humor and ability to laugh. Laughter is nothing more than a burst of joy one can hear, correct? In order to laugh and feel joy, you must have hope. If you can find the silver dollar in a pile of dung, you are going to be ok. I remember having my heart broken when I was still in my early twenties- the pain was so awful that I physically hurt from it. I couldn’t see my way out of that overwhelming ache, but I remember thinking “Today is TERRIBLE. But tomorrow, it’ll hurt less, and it’ll hurt less every day, no matter what, because time takes it away, so I can get through today.”  I really remember thinking that very thought, in my car, in agony, on a gloomy day in Pacific Grove. I had hope. I was optimistic that sooner or later, I’d feel ok again.

5) Another thought I had at that time was “I wonder what I’m supposed to learn from this?” I don’t know about you, but I believe that there are big lessons when we are going through trying times. This belief really helps me put things in perspective, and gets me looking for the point, which makes me feel like there is some order and sense to things, after all. I really believe everything happens for a reason, and exactly the way it is supposed to.

6) Be likable. When you are friendly, outgoing, and happy, people want to help you out. They want to be near you, get to know you, be your friend. You need all the friends you can get in this lifetime, man.

So that’s where I left off…whatever my state of mind, I think it is still sound advice. Tell me what you think! What would you add?