Monday, August 19, 2013

Addiction recovery documentary: The Anonymous People by Guest Blogger: Lee Weber



By Lee Weber, Editor of Addiction Blog

OK.  There’s a new movie that you MUST SEE if you’re in recovery.  It will challenge your idea of what is means to reach the still suffering addict or alcoholic.  And will challenge you personally about your inner shame about addiction.  Why is it so compelling?  First, maybe you can relate to how I feel about addiction…

In the day-to-day drudge of sifting through information about addiction, I rarely get excited about the topic itself.  In fact, addiction can be quite depressing.  Even though I'm a woman in long-term recovery and haven't had a drink in over a decade...the topic of addiction feels heavy. So many people lost.  So many sponsees don’t make.  And on an on about addiction.  Do you understand what I’m talking about?But …then I saw The Anonymous People.I'm charged up!  In fact, I believe that this film is a game changer.  Even more, I would urge anyone in recovery to see it.  While the film may be more targeted to the 23 million people in long-term recovery, we can all benefit from it.  Family, friends, and supporters.

So what’s The Anonymous People about?At its core, The Anonymous People documents the Addiction Recovery Movement and the political history of how Americans view and treat addiction since the 1940’s.  And then, it calls us to action.And this is where it gets interesting.  The films urges us to view addiction advocacy as a part ofresponsible citizenship.  And that advocating for better addiction treatment, access to it, and the decriminalization of drug use can become a part of our own recovery.Then, the film addresses 12 step group principles of anonymity and reframes these principles in ways that make advocacy a natural fit.  At is most basic, we can speak in public as people in long-term recovery to change public perceptions, laws, and governance of addiction treatment… as long as we don’t mention the name of our 12 step group or program.

The film is currently being screening by request…but may make it to cinemas across the country if there is enough interest.  Crowd source and request a screening by going to the GATHR request page for The Anonymous People.  And then, let’s make history together!-----P.S. Just as a caution: the film’s call to action might overwhelm people just starting down the road tohappy destiny who should be focusing on their own recovery.Lee Weber is a writer, mother, and arts & crafts fanatic who writes about alcohol and drug addictiontreatment and evidence-based practices in the field of addiction.  Her current battle is with caffeineaddiction and a tendency to watch too much Magnum P.I.

http://addictionblog.org 
Lee WeberHead Shot.jpg.jpg

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Last Glass (Republished)


People have requested that I post this again, I wrote this story years ago.....


I started with twenty-four. Twenty-four Waterford wine glasses. It was weeks before my wedding to the man I so arduously loved. Some were gifts from my family. Many were gifts from our friends. The blue boxes with white ribbon poured in like the wine collection I so astutely built. I took each one out of the box, unwrapping their delicate tissue. The chardonnay glasses with their spindled stems- as if ready to be caressed by the sophisticated hand. Waiting for the candlelight to pour through, reflecting romantic evenings. The cabernet glasses with their wide mouths waiting for a supple reward. I could tilt the glass back to meet the succulence in my lips. Finally, my most cherished eight..the Bordeaux glasses. They were the generals in my army. The glasses were heavier in weight yet far more elegant than the rest. I sat waiting for the right vintage to begin my revolution.

I whimpered when I broke the first six. Three months after my nuptials to the man I thought I loved. The expensive vintage collection began to dwindle. In its place came the bottles that I found at a local winery. Not a bottle from Georges Duboeuf, but some fine wine. A large soiree, friends mingling around the fire. Forbidden fruit poured endlessly by the gracious host, who was subsequently in the Garden of Eden herself. Words began to unfold and emotions began to erupt. First went the chardonnays. Thrown with such vigilance. Aimed right at my beloveds head. There went two hundred dollars towards the refrigerator door. Tearfully, I swept up the shards of glass. But, alas there were eighteen more. I still had the reds. In my battle, I had lost a troupe but still had soldiers.

I cried when I broke the next four. In the early light of spring, I reached for a glass. My coordination stifled by my constant imbibing. I poured a bottle of inexpensive cabernet into my tall glass. I no longer took trips to the winery anymore. I had been there far too often; my face was beginning to be recognized by the patrons. I searched for replacements and conjured up my imaginary wineries in Southern France. I could pretend. I could pretend that my wine rack was not empty. I could pretend that I was not alone. I was drinking away the grief that his silence caused. The grace of the Waterford could not still my shaking hands. I dropped them. Four of my best friends dropped in one evening. With such ferocity, I tried to save them. I had my own personal drunken funeral for my glasses. Tossed into the trash compactor.

I sobbed when he took the next eight. Fall had come. He left with the decanter. The wonderful Waterford decanter. With it etchings so meticulously set in the glass. He lovingly wrapped up the reds and left me with six. He continued the romance, the love affair with elegance and sonnets. Only, my glasses were now empty on the shelf. No life seeped into them. No reflection from candles would burn again. Dust began to choke my thirst. And the flames had been extinguished. Candlelight would no longer pour through the same glass. The wine bottles taken to a new place. To begin a new life. Without me.

I panicked when I broke the next five. One more left. I no longer looked at the glasses with a fervent eye. I used them for anything that could numb the pain. Vineyards had stopped producing the fruit of my garden. In its place found the weeds of alcohols existence. I could only bring myself to lift the glass if it contained venom. I had begun to despise the glasses for the life that used to be contained in them. Glamour had ceased to exist. The clanging of glasses was not in toast but in concerted effort to forget celebration. If the glass was not full, I panicked. Pouring into the loneliest, endless black hole. But not even the last of the glasses could sustain the ache. I threw them in angst. Threw them into the floor as if I could demolish my past. As if I could break this state of destruction. Angry rants begot sophisticated conversation. The stems became daggers into my own heart. One final glass remained.

I rejoiced when the last one broke. It stood on the shelf. An icon to my former life. I worshipped the last glass as if it was on a pedestal. Like a far removed screen star. I looked lovingly at the shining reflection every evening. Yet, I hadnt touched it in months. Hadnt caressed its sleek, smooth body. A friend from my old life came. She let it go. It slipped out of her hand. I watched it. I saw its demise. Falling, falling, it shattered into tiny pieces. The stem no longer recognizable. The body marred. Suddenly in one moment, the pieces were gone in the trash. I had scraped them up and thrown them into the past. I looked up. My heart lifted. The war was over. The Waterford was gone. The whites, the reds gone from my life. The wine defeated. Swept up into a pile and discarded into the past. I smiled.


My glass was empty. My life was full.


copyright, kjpartstudio 2012

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Gratuity and Hope

Years ago, when I first started doing a lot of my sober work, I would write down five things I was grateful fo every night. This would include moments in the day, people, places, a smell, a sight, it didn't matter, I would keep a notebook next to my bed and take those three minutes to stop and appreciate the things that happened in my day.

A practice that I had long put aside, I have begun to write down both morning AND night about those things that I am grateful for and those things that I am HOPEFUL for within in the day.

It's another small step for me on the long path that I've embarked on. It's as if another ray of light has come out to remind me of what I was truly missing in my life.

And I embrace this with humility and gratitude.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I can only write so many things...

I was told last week that you cannot write your own recovery program. And since that discussion, I have been bouncing this back and forth in my brain..

For seven years, I followed Women for Sobriety, one of the greatest programs I've encountered. I followed the steps and levels religiously. I wrote about them. I taught online classes, I met with women like me, I even attended the conferences with as much gusto as ever.

The last two years before my inevitable relapse, I did exactly what this person said. I tried desperately to write my own program to fit into what was turning out to be a slippery slope back into a very dark hole.

And I failed miserably. I didn't write about this, I didn't attend meetings, I just failed in my own head. I stopped doing all the things that were good for me and tried to rationalize myself into a new way of thinking-moderation at best.

Trouble is, after some time, I realized that I would never be able to moderate. That my life is big and rich and I am not a moderate person. I am full steam in one direction...and I needed to full steam my life back into the realm of positive.

And so, as I've stepped back into the world of reading those levels and steps and understanding why I am here this time and the work that needs to be done, I can only write my perspective on this life challenge...and utilize all the tools I have to make sure that my writing is sound and sober.

:)

Monday, July 09, 2012

Who I am

I've looked through every magazine and self help book
I've looked through every recovery group and blog
Googled myself a million times; sobriety, sobriety girl, recovery, recovering

And I still haven't found who I am

It will never come to me in a search que, website or fourteen question survey to diagnose my addiction

When I reach into my soul
Brief times
Lately, rare times

 I see a glimpse of who I know I can be
And hold my breathe

Waiting for the day that I release myself from pain

The day has come
I know who I am
And where I belong.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Four Agreements

From the Four Agreements-

Everything we do is based on agreements we have made. In these agreements we tell
ourselves who we are, what everyone else is, how to act, what is possible, and
what is impossible. What we have agreed to believe creates what we experience. When these agreements come from fear, blocks and obstacles develop keeping us from realizing our greatest potential.


Based on ancient Toltec wisdom , the Four Agreements offer a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform our lives and our work into a new experience of effectiveness, balance and self supporting behavior.


BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD

Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

DON'T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

DON'T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want.
Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and dram With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse, and regret.
Four Agreements



Sunday, February 20, 2011

Letting Go.

"She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.


She let go of the fear. She let go of the judgments. She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head. She let go of the committee of indecision within her. She let go of all the 'right' reasons. Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.

She didn't ask anyone for advice. She didn't read a book on how to let go... She didn't search the scriptures. She just let go. She let go of all of the memories that held her back. She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward. She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn't promise to let go. She didn't journal about it. She didn't write the projected date in her Day-Timer. She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper. She didn't check the weather report or read her daily horoscope. She just let go.

She didn't analyze whether she should let go. She didn't call her friends to discuss the matter. She didn't do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment. She didn't call the prayer line. She didn't utter one word. She just let go.

No one was around when it happened. There was no applause or congratulations. No one thanked her or praised her. No one noticed a thing. Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.

There was no effort. There was no struggle. It wasn't good and it wasn't bad. It was what it was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let it all be. A small smile came over her face. A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore."

- Safire Rose

Monday, February 14, 2011

From the heart

Another Valentine's Day...and another day to remind myself how important self-love is. And what is self-love, anyway? For me, it's coming to the blog and writing...it's the affirmation that I am still on a journey and that I am here to share my thoughts. I've been remiss. Busy. Pondering my place in sober life. Afraid to come back to the one place where my thoughts make the most sense simply because I didn't feel like making sense of anything for a while. Now? I'm back and here and writing again. The book is back in motion, the thoughts of sobriety are teeming inside my brain....things are just starting to unthaw from a long, cold hiatus.

It's a good day to begin the self-love fest again.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Compass.


Every minute, every day, we choose direction. Whether we wake up and decide to move left or right, there is a specific direction that we take. It is all relative to where we want to go. And trying to figure out how to get there is sometimes an incredibly daunting task, particularly when unaided by our own fear of the unknown.

So many times in my own life, during these times of choice, I sometimes wish that I could whip out a compass and have it magically point me in the direction that would be the most conducive to happiness and well being. When this magical intangible compass has failed to appear (as it should), I have become frustrated with myself for walking in the wrong direction or running like hell right into the middle of total misdirection.

The reality is that we all have an internal compass (not a magical one). One that, if crafted with time and insight into how we want our lives to be lived, will help us move in the direction we choose. It's about learning to navigate choices. And spending the time to understand the consequences and aspirations that the chosen direction holds.

Each time I am faced with a new direction and the decisions weigh on me, I think about what is driving my intention. Where will this direction take me? And ultimately, will I be a better person and happier when I've taken steps to move that way.

And that, my friends, is the shiny direction bearing tool that may not prevent me from making mistakes, but it helps me stop and at least ask where I am going.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sober Thanksgiving (A repost)

Here's a scenario. It's your first few months sober and Thanksgiving, being your first holiday, suddenly creeps up on you. Panic. Angst. What do you do? Hide from the family? Ignore the holiday completely?

As if holidays aren't tricky enough, being sober during these times, when being merry and celebratory is analogous with having a drink in hand, can be daunting. I know, I've had a few (nine and counting still) myself.
One of the most elemental facets of sobriety is to make sure that you are always taking care of yourself, on every level. If you are not going to spend the holidays alone (I'm hardly ever against the idea!), you should have some contingency plans in place for the trip to grandmas.

The first task I completed in my first year sober during the holidays was to take a sheet of paper with every single e-mail address and phone number of all my support systems (at the time, there were many), quotes I loved, goals I had..etc. I wrote SURVIVING MY HOLIDAY SOBER on the top of it, scribbled incessantly and tucked the paper into my wallet. In all honesty, I never once pulled it out. But, it sure did help knowing that at any time, I could run outside and call someone or read some relevant bit that would ease the anxiety.

Okay, piece of life support paper in tow...doesn't get you through family ordeals or questions. Simple thing to remember: "Sometimes, the less information given, the better". Does Aunt Sally really care about whether you are drinking a bottle of wine with her? It probably bothers you more than she. Do you need to launch into a sober diatribe? Depends, but I would lean no. You are primarily sober for you, no one else. Your sobriety is an added benefit for those around you.

It's your choice as to how much information about your life you want to disclose. I've learned in the last seven years that if one of my family members still chooses to believe I was in a big magazine for helping people (when, in reality, the article was about me being a former party girl), then so be it. Not worth the argument.

Before and after long hours at the table, it may help remember the following thoughts (I've used one or all over the years):
  •  Pets are a good reason to excuse yourself early to go home
  • Going for a walk with one family member is sometimes easier than answering to twelve and fresh air never hurts
  • Any kind of clear soda in a glass with some fruit that you get immediately upon arrival will usually put an end to the "what are you drinking" question
  • Be kind to yourself, don't fall into the roles that we're assigned at birth
  • Remember that this day falls only once a year
  • There is no chance you will get pulled over on the way home
  • You will not be hungover on Friday
  • Be thankful, really thankful, that you are sober this year
  • Families usually fight because it's like looking in a bunch mirrors, everyone is related and similar
  • Watch sugar, it's a great way to become testy
 I have my own rituals, I try to do Thanksgiving with friends so that I can relax. Remember, there are more holidays in the next month! I go for a run. I buy my favorite beverage and put it in a wine glass, just for my own sanity. Have a good holiday






Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Essence of being human.

Today, I realize that I've spent the better part of a year unraveling myself to the point that I am standing among proverbial pieces of my life scattered around me.

These pieces, emotions. Anger. Hurt. Happiness. Regret. Heartache. Longing. Love. Like small slips of paper caught up in swirling fury.

I pick and choose each and begin to manifest these emotions.  E-mails unleashing fury. Journal pages filled with regret and sadness. Conversations with glimmers of hope. I tend to focus only on each piece that I am trying so desperately to rectify and make right. I am so busy trying to put all the pieces together, I sometimes forget that I should be focused on the glue that binds them. The acquisition of strength and forgiveness. The process in which we are able to see the entire puzzle, not just each slightly busted element.

And through this, if I sit for a moment and just let myself rest, the pieces begin to fall slightly into place. Imagine that. If I just allow myself a moment to be human, to be still, there is a clarity in where the pieces begin to fall.  I begin to realize that we are all simply human. That the picture is much larger than minute elements and variations and utter unravelings. It's humanity. Life. The very essence of being human.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The truth can only set you free.

I heard that somewhere, I think my father copied it from a notebook of proverbs at one point. Until this moment, sitting in complete darkness with only the computer screen as light does the phrase, "The truth can only set you free" come through my transom.

And now, the truth.

For the last 17 days, starting on my former 10th wedding anniversary, I have not been sober. I had contemplated the move for months. I thought about it, rationalized it and stopped writing my blog. I researched moderation. I made a list of everything I would have to do if I would drink again. No tequila. No drunk dialing. No moving cars. Had to get back into therapy. Had to finish the book. Had to blah blah blah. The list I wrote started to get longer and more complicated. Yet, I felt justified. I felt as if I, at thirty six years old with a relatively successful life and a seemingly well established pattern of sober behaviour, could take nine years of being sober and turn around and drink as a normal woman.

I was giddy with excitement. I felt free of every personal responsibilty I've had over the last nine years. Sobriety Girl would end. I sat and said, "well, I'm just Kim. I'm just normal now".

The problem is, I'm not normal.

Three weeks into my very controlled environment of absolute chaos, I have already gone to a place I really can't live in. I lost control and allowed myself back into a space I had long long left. It was that easy. One single moment and I put myself back there. One single minute changed my life again. I made the very decision to end a long standing deal with my heart and soul. I sold out to my need to feel numb.

And I am sorry.

Now, I sit. I feel humbled and in a place I have never been. I feel compelled to write. I feel compelled to, once again, begin my journey over again. I pulled out my writing from a decade ago. I sat and re-read every single blog entry I have ever written. I've spent the better part of two days bawling my eyes out.

I sit here with an entirely changed perspective. I don't know how this will end. I am trying to navigate through this part of my life. I feel like I am no longer an inspiration but IN NEED of inspiration. I've let go of what has happened and I'm prepared to deal with what is happening right now. Being in national magazines, having optimal search engine placement, the collection of facebook friends matters less to me than where I am in my life and what I need to get to truly find out who I am.

I have resolve though. I believe I am done.

I'm sad. I'm angry at myself. I'm disappointed as many will be. I'm hurting and I still realize that. I have lost a challenge, but not the battle. I've come here to tell the truth, because I start a new journey today. Because the one thing I know how to do and do well, is write out those things that are the most challenging in my life. And this one is perhaps the greatest challenge yet.

And I've read the preface to my blog again. I haven't read it in years. And again, I start from the beginning:


One of the biggest fears of beginning any journey is the unknown. We do not know where the journey will take us and that can be quite scary. What will we uncover? What will we find along the way? The journey is as amazing as the final destination. We learn with each step. We learn we have the ability to go in any direction we choose. That direction is very much of our own accord.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Control

Early on, I believe that we establish what it is to sense whether or not we are in control. Cognitively, it feels better to be in control, ones ego is in check and we are then able to perceive growth and maintain a sense of balance, regardless of the situation.

As we grow older, we establish specific patterns stemming from this early sense that allow us to remain in check emotionally, physically and beyond. Even if it's some kind of ordered chaos, there is always present a sense of being able to navigate through a multitude of life situations.

When we lose control is the time the real test of integral thinking comes into play. Losing control seriously challenges people to look at themselves and then look far beyond to gain perspective. And, for me personally, it continues to be one of the biggest learning experiences ever.

You literally have to lose control of a situation to understand what drives you. What allows you to be as healthy and productive as possible when you cannot put your hand within reach. Where do you derive strength to undertake the tremendous ability of letting go and not allowing control to define you. It's seriously mind blowing to someone who has looked at control as immeasurable false protection from pain, not realizing how much of the situation wasn't mine to control in the first place and how imperative it is to just give it up, ego rebalanced and space allowed for immeasurable growth. Absolutely freaking mind blowing as I experience this more and more, wanting that space and re-balance but holding on to it for dear life for fear of pain.

It's ego. And as someone who has spent most of my adult life in some kind of addiction, the ego is a very fragile being. To just allow things to happen, to the ego, is rough. To the soul, it's truly necessary. It gives the two diametric opposites a chance to rest and intertwine once again. Definitely a challenge.

But I'm learning that just as that control is necessary for balance, so is letting go, if only briefly to recoup the senses. You just choose the elements that are the most balanced at that time and focus there. You let go of the rest.

And I believe when this happens, you wake up with less of a proverbial mental hangover and gain just a SHRED of clarity.

Imagine that.

Friday, April 02, 2010

The attempted demise of Sobriety Girl

Over the last eight years of my sobriety, there have been many times where I have wrangled with the identity of "sobriety girl".  I've created this persona to express my life as a sober woman. I've written countless articles under the name. At times, "sobriety girl" seems to be stamped on my head wherever I go. I've even googled "sobriety girl" and realized that my persona has become a brand running rampant on the internet. It has been infinitely satisfying on many levels to know that I've been fortunate to be able to gain insight from others and continue along my own recovery road. I've been writing the book for over a year with an actual audience anticipating it.  

Many times, particularly in the last two years, I've done just about everything but shut down the blog and kill off "sobriety girl". I struggle with my recovery every day. I struggle many times to write positive and decisive blogposts about where I am in my recovery because I am simply uncomfortable where I am. I look for normalacy in life. Boring. Bored. Quietness. And I begin to take the "sobriety girl" persona and look for ways to eliminate one of the most healthy and inspiring pieces of my life. I feel that living under some alias is far too much of an ego trip. I am just another person trying to survive addiction. And there are times when I don't like what I've created.

The funny thing about thinking about the demise of my self created persona is that I haven't slipped. I have managed to not drink through some of the most trying personal times of my life. I just find it to be self serving to call myself anyone but who I am. I am Kim. I am desperately trying to find the right path to happiness. And in the process, I sometimes write raw and emotionally insights from where I sit. And these come under the name "sobriety girl".

So, from here, I am still writing under "sobriety girl" but the persona now matches my real one. And I think, in the end, there may be some normalcy in that. And now, I can get back to writing the book. It's been a long time since I've sat down and wrote out chapters that resonate where I struggle and where I succeed.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Wall

This morning, a friend wrote this to me:

"...powerful is your default state, you just let the CRAP overtake you, like vines creeping up a wall. You're the wall. The vines are your insecurities..." 


It's been a tumultuous week with several notable minor but annoying meltdowns to enhance the overall drama level. I've shed some tears, fought outright panic and lived with a sense of complete anxiety in the span of about six days. Nothing overly dramatic or out of the ordinary but enough to cause me a heightened sense of angst.

It's not the meltdowns, tears or panic that really infuriate me. It's the propensity I have for defensively reverting back to something I used to liken to putting up walls. The reality is, I am the wall. I immediately allow the stress and question to define me. The vines can grow within 24 hours and I am then expending energy to get rid of them instead of learning to keep the walls down. I panic. I forget that I really am defying life's challenges by taking all that is adverse and creating something fabulous. And throughout my life, that's really what I do.

The reality, again, is that I have done tremendous work in my life, on many levels, and to allow myself to return to a state where I am paralyzed by my past is just plain ridiculous. We all deserve to be happy. We deserve to live as fully as possible. We all deserve the ability to rid ourselves of the "crap".

This morning, I vented. Cried like a baby. Rolled over and played dead. I gave my friend every reason why I could not possibly knock down this heavily guarded wall in which I have both allowed myself to hide behind and incorporated into my being. He kept egging on my fight instinct. Pointed out the objective. Wrote out the OBVIOUS. And after much argument, I re-read the words. He was right, I am defiant. I am powerful. And I have moments of complete insecurity. It happens.

We move on, persevere through life and hope that we've learned from our mistakes. I made a mistake this week (okay, I've made several as I am just generally like that) by allowing anything to stand in the way of who I am and why I'm here.

And now, I've furiously pulled down the weeds and remembered that my insecurities will never define me, they just annoy me. And life moves on.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ambiguity

"If I take refuge in ambiguity, I assure you that it's quite conscious."
-Kingman Brewster

Many years ago, I used to retreat into this deep and very dark hole when I felt insecure or immensely stressed about a situation. If there was a question, I'd hide. If faced with doubt, I'd dig and dig until buried deep within self-involvement. I'd drag myself into a very uncomfortable place because that is where I felt the most at home. No rationalization. Little insight. Just a deep hole that required little from me. Blinders on. Heart closed. Life stopped. When faced with any possibility other than what I considered manageable, the only solution would be to block out any kind of emotional response. Not so good for the soul. And definitely not conducive to communicating or learning about anything emotional.

I attribute this to being a very black and white thinker at times. When faced with ambiguity, run like hell, crawl into the hole and shut out any possibility of gray. It was really that simple. To do anything less would mean being open and vulnerable. To allow one moment of stepping OVER the hole would be blasphemy to the self-imposed code I had painfully instilled. Again, this thinking and subsequent Alice in Wonderland like fall down a slippery slope really never yielded any positive results. But boy it was a place I gravitated to consistently for the majority of my life.

At this moment, I feel ambiguity. I have been feeling it in some larger sense since we began our lovely economic roller coaster as has the rest of the world. It's unsettling. Scary. Lately, in the wake of changes that have been both amazing and frustrating, the need to run from the unknown has been overwhelming. I feel open. I feel incredibly vulnerable and scared. The gray has been splattered EVERYWHERE. The voice in my heart keeps encouraging me to RUN LIKE HELL AND JUMP into that "safe" place.

My choice: Run and crawl back in, digging deeper and deeper into the safety of a place I no longer consider healthy. Or learn to appreciate and accept ambiguity for what it is.

First option...not happening at this point in my life, unless I feel like undoing almost a decade of serious work and this would likely lead to a three year bender.

Second option. Define ambiguity as it applies to the moment and embrace the hell out of it. Learn to live with it and maintain an open-mind (or as open-minded as one who regularly sees things in black and white terms can be). Look beyond what makes me uncomfortable. Be prepared to fail. Be aware that no proven model has yet to be developed for life, particularly my own. Expect the unexpected and maybe ambiguity will turn into superb clarity. Or perhaps not.

I do know one thing, I am no longer comfortable retreating. No longer complacent with running away from the elements in life I fear the most. If I have to live an ambiguous life, I accept and get that.

There's some strange beauty in the unknown. Some prolific grace that I find much more enticing than no growth at all. And for that, I'll gladly give up the big shovel I've been carrying around.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Humility

Several months ago, someone gave me this sage advice: "You don't need to oversell yourself in life, you just need to practice a little humility".

Interesting advice for someone whose basic definition of humility had rarely expanded from the thought that humble meant weak.

This particular advice was referenced to my professional life, but I do believe it carries over into everything personal. As a child, I don't think I would have been able to be humble, as most children are not. I was the youngest of three with divorced parents and subsequently a deceased father. I held close a constant fear that if I did not put myself out there ALL the time (I believe that's the overselling part in the aforementioned advice), I would simply be put back on the shelf to collect large amounts of dust. I garnered attention for being quirky, wild-minded and seriously smart. I acted on impulse in order to capture the largest percentage of an audience. I could command attention, positive or not.

As an adult, this process simply evolved rather than abating completely. I drank to become more emboldened. I became the "best" at everything so I could simply say that was so. And in this process, the word "humility" never passed through my transom. One of the reasons I began a career in advertising was likely to learn the true art of selling everything, including myself.

The reality is, this bravado that I created actually allowed me to keep the packaging sealed well. And the package, in my own perception, was damaged goods trying to be passed off at full sale. I was trying to sell someone that I hadn't quite become comfortable with and thus the bravado could seem at times contrived. Instead of learning about my surroundings and the people in them, I quickly jumped to the benefit of knowing and loving me. I would assume that I could just use my inherent gift for leadership and intellect to skate through the motions and get to the immediate gratification. I simply listened less and talked more. After I stopped drinking, I think this defense mechanism that I had cultivated for years became much more prominent. Now, I had a soapbox of sorts to actually allow my bravado to scream. I took my sobriety and ran to the top of the hill. I blogged, I lectured, I have been writing a book. I infiltrated this into my everyday life with gusto and rarely stopped to think about the core reasons for my decisions.

When I received this advice, I sat for hours. I looked up the definition. I researched humility like crazy. What a concept, I thought. I truly had never thought of adding this definition to my list of characteristics. The more I thought about this, the more I realized how much humility was missing from my life. The soapboxes I had carefully crafted suddenly seemed too big and too high. In my quest to sell everything I believed and conjured, I lost something in translation. I had been talking way too much in my life and not listening. The bravado was no longer empowerment but a hindrance to my ability to really understand who I wanted to be and how I would project that in my life.

I sat longer. I again thought about this advice on many levels. I came up with theories. I stopped writing altogether again, because I couldn't project the honesty I needed. I reassessed where I was...again.

Fast forward to the last months. This advice comes into my head every single day of my life. Being a media director in advertising, I know that to gain the greatest share of voice, advertising needs to be direct and greatly targeted while paying attention to WHERE and HOW people want to consume this message. Meaning, instead of overselling, it should be done with finesse and grace. And you have to believe in WHAT you are selling.

I get it. I get humility. The bravado I walked out of my last job with never entered the new one. The boisterousness in which I have lived the majority of my life has significantly eased. I understand now that I am not damaged by any means, I am a remarkably strong woman as a result of all the events that have transpired. And humility simply embodies this as strength, not weakness.

It's finding the balance between the two that is now the objective. Listening, while understanding who I am and what I want in my life. In believing who I am is worth gold and after some digging, you'll find it. Difficult, yes, but absolutely attainable. Believe me, I'm still ready to turn cartwheels at any point in my life, but I now sit back and wait for someone to ask me to. It's such an immense and incredible concept. And probably one of the biggest life lessons that I am learning.

And for this gift, I am humbled.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Seven Year Itch

I've hit a crossroad in the last year that likens itself to the seven year itch, as referred in marriage and a Monroe film. It is during this time in a marriage, after seven years, that being unfaithful may become into thought. I can assume (I say mostly assume because my own marriage didn't come close to seven years) that there just comes a time in any committed relationship that you question just about every aspect. And seven years seems like the perfect amount of time. You've gotten to know someone, you know habits and behaviors. Your goals may change and your lives may no longer run parallel. Life just becomes complacent.

My seven year itch, in sobriety, has come in full force over the last year. To be unfaithful to my sobriety is tantalizing...sexy and romantic. I picture myself in Bordeaux having a nice glass with a piece of bread and cheese. I feel cold alcohol on a hot summer day. I've become bored with my every day routine of being sober. I fantasize about my torrid affair while sitting there ignoring my sober self. I've started looking for reasons to stray and dip my toes in the other side. Ignore the blog, the work I do, the book...stop thinking...start living in la la land with my aspirations to be inebriated at any given point. The itch has gotten deep.

Truth is, that itch is a remarkably dangerous place to scratch. The love affair with alcohol would soon turn bitter. The romance? Gone in hours. Bordeaux? Not happening that way. I would leave my sober self, never able to return again. That moment that I took one drink would erase the last seven and a half years of painstaking work. And I would never be there again.

My solution...because I've decided to focus this blog more on the solutions than the problems. Decided to write more about life as it has become instead of what it was. I am present, focused and allowing life to come in.

And I've slapped on some anti-itch stuff...my blog, my work, my passion for this life...iI should be good for another seven years.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Demise.

As there are many cycles in our lives, I find one cycle within sobriety that has been resonating over and over again in the last year. Over the last few weeks, I have been dealing with my ever questioning state of sobriety with a scowl and intermittent indifference. The cycle of questions that force me to look at where I am in my life and what I truly need to be happy and content with the decisions I make. Formulate a plan. Let go of the past. Live life with gusto. Be sober. Be happy. And my addicted self, all the while, is hanging on my back like a bad relationship causing great distress.

The reality is, I am simply growing extremely tired of not being able to truly let go of all the baggage that came with the person I had been. Tired of writing and talking about letting go when, in fact, it hasn't happen on the level that I am seeking. My resistance to let go and just be who I am causes great frustration. And that, in turn, leads me to quickly blame sobriety and how miserable I may perceive it to be. It's an incredibly vicious cycle and one that, if not rectified, can lead to allowing the addicted self to take over.

Not good.

Yesterday, I cried for about an hour sitting at the computer unable to write anything about being sober. I just didn't have the desire to write about it. I've been avoiding it altogether because, again like a bad relationship, my addictive self has been screaming at my sober self a lot lately. And the noise is driving me batty.

Last night, I decided to just off my addictive self. Dead, killed, it's over. If I don't, I may just sit here arguing with myself for the rest of my life. And that will likely either drive me totally insane or lead to a massive bender that will destroy everything I have desired in my life. So, I'm giving my addictive self a nice funeral today. It's time. The demise has happened. Buried, gone, see you later.

Life is too short. Life is way too good (well, the economy and job situation could improve, but hey, it is what it is). Being sober is far too important in my life to allow baggage to weigh me down.

Today, it's another new day. Another cycle...and another stepping stone to happiness that is well deserved.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

She let go.

"She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.

She let go of the fear. She let go of the judgments. She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head. She let go of the committee of indecision within her. She let go of all the 'right' reasons. Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.
She didn't ask anyone for advice. She didn't read a book on how to let go... She didn't search the scriptures. She just let go. She let go of all of the memories that held her back. She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward. She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn't promise to let go. She didn't journal about it. She didn't write the projected date in her Day-Timer. She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper. She didn't check the weather report or read her daily horoscope. She just let go.

She didn't analyze whether she should let go. She didn't call her friends to discuss the matter. She didn't do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment. She didn't call the prayer line. She didn't utter one word. She just let go.

No one was around when it happened. There was no applause or congratulations. No one thanked her or praised her. No one noticed a thing. Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
There was no effort. There was no struggle. It wasn't good and it wasn't bad. It was what it was, and it is just that.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be. A small smile came over her face. A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore."
- Ernest Holmes

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Contentious Relationship.

Over the last few months, there has been a complete breakdown of communication. I've been bitter and angry. Spiteful. Hurt. I've almost walked away several times. I've battled, yelled, pleaded and tried total rationalization with little success. It's been up and down to the point that I've become dizzy. I've cried in anger and quickly retreated by begging for forgiveness. Wrote letters, painted pictures and played sappy songs trying to find some neutral ground. Indifference. Love. Indifference revisited.

At this point in my life, the aforementioned is my relationship with myself as a sober woman. After eight years, I've suddenly became tired of the battle between my past and present selves. Two different ways of living held together by the thread of sobriety. And let me tell you, that thread is easily frayed when two proverbial alpha egos are furiously pulling from opposite directions.

I'm unemployed, back in my hometown (I've mentioned this several times, I know) and immersed in a life that I've been running to and away from for the better part of my life. When I became sober, instead of truly living within my surroundings, I checked out. I literally put a gate up to keep out elements of my past that I didn't want near me. I didn't let go, I just shut everything out. Returning home, all of those elements of my life that I didn't let go were all standing at the gate upon my arrival. Tempting my fate. I thought I was prepared. I believed I wore the big "S" cape. I truly believed I could surround myself with people who are equally addicted and stay in sober thinking. That I could maintain between my desire to be the person in my tulmutuous past (and actually reliving parallels of it) and the person I had become sober. Somehow, in the excitement of barreling through the gate, I completely forgot that I myself am an addict.

What's really happened is that I've started testing my boundaries with my own addiction and the behaviours that ensue. I've enabled. I've deprecated my sobriety to the point that I thought I may just lose it. I have allowed my past self to beat the crap out of me on more than one occasion. And I've somehow managed to completely romanticize my past behaviour by choosing to relive it. Not good.

The reality is that there is no relationship between drunk and sober. I was drunk and I am now sober. Two proverbial selves do not exist. I've conjured up the relationship as a way to avoid the inevitable. In not letting go, I have found little peace in either sober or drunkeness.

Over the last days, I've made a decision. I choose sober me. I gave it up. I let it go. I am deciding that simply being sober, in thinking and behaviour, is more important to me than trying to live with someone who doesn't exist.

And that means letting go of all of it, not just the easy parts (a great trait of mine...selective release). I've canceled. I've called. I've written off people that I care about because of their own addictions. I've cried profusely. Letting go really really hurts. But, what lies ahead can only be amazing. This much I now know.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Present.

I don't know that I have ever truly believed that people could be present within their lives. If one is present, I've thought, where does the past fit in? I have always been one to try and rectify my past by trying to figure it out. To solve the problems that happened so long ago. My methodology would be to rack my brain for months trying to understand what in my past was causing me to make poor decisions. In reality, I was trying to assign blame and dysfunction on anything but myself and these decisions that were not grounded in present thinking. And, in an even more stark reality, I've missed a hell of a lot by allowing wasted time in the past.

The truth is, I'm learning that it really doesn't matter that much. There is something to be said for having an appreciation for the past, we've been there and done that so kudos to us. It is another thing to ground everything that is happening now and potentially in the future on the premise of a culmination of things that happened in the past. Doesn't make sense. That leaves little room for opportunity in the future because we're blocking movement.

And that leads to the sometimes cliche that stresses letting go. I myself have heard many people tell me to let it go and I would loudly protest that by letting go, the very essence of what makes me who I am would cease to exist. That's really good thinking for someone who doesn't want to let anyone in, doesn't want to be open minded and borders of self absorbed. And the essence is more ego than true emotion. There is truly a beauty and grace that comes with allowing yourself to move on. And by moving on, you are really allowing the future to be less subjected to the mistakes and hindrances in the past. You've gained an appreciation but have truly let go of the crap surrounding the experience.

I sit here shaking my head. It's been one of those big "duh" moments. Light bulb flickering. So, instead of thinking about how I can get that time back (a lot of time), I'm moving on. For all those people who have told me to let go (a lot of people), I don't think you're as crazy as I once thought. I think you may have actually been right.

And that's just amazing.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Awareness

One of the greatest accomplishments in life, in my opinion anyway, is self-awareness. I've blogged about this before in a completely different learning stage of self-awareness. The whole process of recognizing self-awareness is truly awe inspiring. It's when truly find this awareness that we are able to recognize what other people need, therefore creating really healthy and evolutionary relationships. It's been a very profound experience, humbling really, to realize that in self-awareness there is humility and an element of selflessness.

Imagine that.

In the days were I found emotional maturity REALLY challenging, my self-awareness levels were meek at best. I had little ability to see what anyone else was feeling or thinking simply because I was so caught up in protecting myself. It had to be about me or my blinders quickly went up. Yet, I didn't know myself at all. I was just too scared to take a real look at myself and how I actually related to and communicated with anyone else. Instead, every single element in my life went through egotistical and oblivion filters. And what came through the other side was indifference and inconsideration of anyone else.

It's really amazing how much you learn when you open yourself up to it. I find the more I take self-awareness as a priority in my life, the happier I become. The way I am able to deal with others because of this self-awareness, learning what people need and want in life, also allows for greater happiness and fulfillment.

Again, imagine that.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A preview of "The Sober Door" (The book).

I am by no means finished, but it's getting there so I wanted to share the preface (again) and first chapter of my fiction piece, "The Sober Door". It's grueling, painful and wonderful all at the same time. Thank you for all your support and would love to hear feedback. (This is also NOT edited yet, so it's simply raw material)

Kim

Preface

Locked in. Barricaded from the outside. He spared me. Saved me. Threw me with resounding force. I am conflicted. I am being spared. I am being enveloped in blackness. I can hear him. Screaming outside. Ranting, ranting, ranting.

“What do you people want from me. Who gave me this hell?”

I know that I am safe for the moment. He is hurting everyone outside the door. I am shut in, shut out from him. They are outside. I am safe. I am spared. The noise of the punches. Each slap stings. Screams. Cries. It rings in my ears. I hear my brother screaming. My mother screaming. I am enveloped in blackness. The vibration of each hit comes through the floor. I cannot see beyond the door in front of me.

“I am not the man you want in your life.”

I know I want him. I want him to open the door. I want him to bring me out, beat me and take me out of this dark place he has born me to. I want to feel the pain. EACH and EVERY lash that is being inflicted. have been in here for hours, this I know. Cramped and cowering, only wishing that he would love me enough to hit me too. I can smell his breathe, even from inside the tomb I am in. Acid. Fire. Sweetness. His nose, white like Christmas. His eyes wild as he had pushed my thrashing limbs. I was left out of the carnage. .I hear everything but cannot see. I am so desperate not to be forgotten in the massacre.

“You are all f***** nuts.”

For a moment, I hear his hand on the door knob. I think, “he’s going to bring me out.” I am not scared. I am ready to handle his wrath as it is inherently mine. I tremble. For once, I am not forgotten. I will be his daughter. I will wipe his tears away with my hand. He will know that I want him.

Quickly. So quickly. His hand is gone.

All goes silent. I hear whimpering. It is my own. I know he is gone. Left me here in the closet. Darkness. I am alone. I don’t know where he is going or how long but he won’t be back. He went too far. He left me.

He left me.
He forgot to leave my present. He forgot to sing, to blow out the candles. He forgot to tell Mom that I only eat chocolate frosting. He left. He left his only daughter. His baby girl. I only want him to buy me presents. Love me. Adore me. I am alone. He won’t sing my birthday song. Ever. Today is my sixth birthday. I am locked in the closet with the only way out is to my private hell.


You are about the read my version of what happened next. 



chapter one.

By the time my twelfth birthday candles were lit by my own hand, I was a newly coined and initiated fatherless alcoholic. This combination would continue to haunt me for the better part of my life.


I walked into the house, mom and my brother Sam were there. Grandma and Grandpa were there. I walked into the singular moment that I would attribute every flaw and painful recollection. My father was dead.

“There’s been an accident?”

“An accident?”

“Dad is gone.”

“Gone?”

“Dead.”

I remember screaming. I don’t think at the time it was a truly harrowing and blood wrenching scream. I believe I screamed for the pure drama of the moment. I had, since my sixth birthday and likely at birth, a colorful and serious penchant for dramatic flair.

I look around the room. My brother hysterically crying. My mother panicked. My grandparents stoic. I collapsed. I picked myself up and ran into the room I had at my mother’s house. I thought about nothing. I was utterly numb. Void of any emotion. I would, over the course of many years, seek out any method I could to bring myself back to that moment of complete and utter disconnection. It was fabulous and instead of grieving my father, I relished in the emptiness I felt.

My delicate ego took over. This was an opportunity for attention. I, in my childhood, had been largely and grossly neglected by anyone within intimate range. Seeking out my own spotlight, I returned to the stage.

“How did he die?” “What happened?”

My father, in his stupidity had killed himself with his vehicle. He was not drunk this time. Not high or strung out. He was simply going from one place to the next in his transient life. A simple car accident killed him without incident. He drove off a mountain in the middle of the night, died instantly and with little fanfare. In his death, he was alone. Left to die on the side of a mountain.

In my bed I slept during his demise, dreaming of what I would be able to manipulate him with next and not knowing that I would never be able to control him again.

My brother Sam sat crumpled over in the kitchen chair. He was devastated at the loss of his best friend. Sam, who was seven years older than I, knew my father in a completely different way. His relationship had history. My father was present in his childhood, a force unlike any other. In my own, he was flippant and obtuse. My brother, then a nurturing soul, would manifest his grief of losing my father much much differently than myself. Sam was truly crushed by his loss. As so many times I would recall, I became enraged at his ability to feel the pain of loss for what it was.

I turned to Sam,

“I need to go for a walk.”

At twelve, I was so apt at stirring up dramatic moments and then quickly disappearing from my self induced spotlight. I would be running so fast, I rarely looked back at the pieces I was leaving behind. I walked away from my family. I ran into the street and walked for hours. I only recall thinking about what my friends would say or how embarrassed I was that my father was, once again,causing spectacle in my life. I blamed him. I blamed myself. I cursed everyone I knew in my short life.

I sat down and thought only one thing.

How could he leave me again?

With that thought, on that night, I picked up my first bottle of alcohol.

Three days later, we had a funeral. I don’t particularly remember the three days preceding actual burial. I was drunk. So drunk, I still have very little recollection of those hours save one conversation.

“Gus, are you drinking?” Gus was my given name. I was a girl with a boy name and a boy haircut.

“What mother?”

“Are you drinking?”

I was, as luck would have, drinking all of her cognac that was kept in the house for the occasional guest. Grief was masked by the astonishment I felt at the fluidity in which I poured myself my seventh glass of alcohol ever.

“Drinking what?” I laughed in my euphorically giddy state of new found inebriation.

My mother stared at me. She was too deep in the midst of her own crisis to realize the road I was about to run down.

“Don’t be smart”

She turned around, heading towards the door.

I was so intoxicated by intoxication, by my sheer ability to numb myself within minutes, I laughed hysterically.

“I am smart”
She shook her head and left.

From that moment, I knew life would be a lot easier drunk.

At the burial, where the hundreds of friends my father had all attended with heavy hearts, I carried that exact cognac with me in a thermos to lighten my own heart. I reached for it, twisting the cap with every insincere and made-up eulogy that was given. I ran to the car to alleviate the angst of seeing the many girlfriends that I had lived with his custodial time and during his marriage to my mother. Here, I could replenish the numbness I strove for. In my stupor, I shunned the people who really could give a rat’s ass about me OR my family. I watched people. I took note of who said what and how they remembered him. I was subconsciously creating a list of people that would I would love to hate over the next fifteen years.

I was twelve years old and drunk at my father’s funeral. In the wake of his death, I had never felt so alive. I could be present and escape interchangeably. Without shining the spotlight on myself, I was unnoticed. I blended with the masses of faces that I chose neither to recognize nor acknowledge.

At the funeral, I never shed a single tear. But confusion overwhelmed me on so many levels.

I was torn between being a fatherless child and an angry daughter. In the ensuing months, I had started to realize that missing my father was advantageous to gain control. I could miss him and excuse myself from being responsible. His death became my mantra for inability to deal with life. I felt overwhelming guilt and grief wrought with anger and abandonment. I was pissed and happy. I cried in the middle of the night. I found every picture of my father I could and poured over the detail in his face. Wore his clothes trying to smell him. Cursed him. Cursed myself. It was a state like I will never know again. I was so young and so old in one breathe. Because through all of this, I was stealing cocktails at my neighbors. Learning the intricacies of highballs and martinis through my keen observance.

With all my father’s affairs to be put in order months after the funeral, my mother walked around in a haze of denial and indifference. She was long past living and breathing my father. Her decisions reflected not her children, but her need to release herself of him. Where would Sam and I live? Not with her. Who would sell the house he lived in? She did, very quickly. Every decision that was made allowed my mother to distance herself from the pain she had endured. Her only real mistake, in the process of her own grieving, was that she let go of her dead spouse's children by pure accident.

In this neglect, during the first months, I was finding my own dependence being shifted from any parental figure to one that closely resembled a bottle of Vodka.

I recall this moment:

“Gus, I need to move the pictures of your father.”

“Mother, where do you want me to put them”

“Not in here, not in your room. I don’t want to see anything on the walls or the dressers. Put them in your closet. You can look at them in there.”

“The closet?”

“The closet.”

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Expectations.

" . . . Take another glass of wine, and excuse my mentioning that society as a body does not expect one to be so strictly conscientious in emptying one's glass, as to turn it bottom upwards with the rim on one's nose."
-Charles Dickens, "Great Expectations"

In the wake of my recovery and likely my perciptious road to it, I have become painfully aware of the expectations I set for myself on many levels. I wish to succeed professionally (okay, lost the actual professional job, but I'm still writing a book), attain true honesty within my heart and soul and live my life with happiness. The standards may be lofty as I truly believe something great is on the brink of emulating from the growth and awareness I am gaining. I just wish, in my lack of ability for self effacingness, that I figure out what the hell this brink is and how to get there. It confuses me. I find that the closer I come to realizing this maturity and ability to achieve all levels of the success I strive for, the harder I try to sabotage it.

I am more comfortable with self deprecation than I am with self adaptation. Yet, there is a part of me that understands that this is a process we all go through (some of us actually go through this during childhood and adolescence...think I skipped that class) and that when we let go of the fear, life becomes possible. I have been neither ready or willing to let go of fear without paying my own price. Immediately, I will bring myself back into a space that doesn't allow for movement. Trapped within my own fear. And this fear is what I am looking to use as my weapon in battling the life I deserve and want with great passion. I'm out here swinging and in my dolorous armor, I'm slow on the life uptake. Sometimes I think I should just hit myself and get over it. And I think that more and more everyday (something must be working).

So, do I compromise and lower the expectations I have set for myself and my "lofty" ambitions? I don't think so. Do I get a life and start doing what I'm meant to do? I think so....wait, I know so.

The more we do to truly be who we want and what we want, the more "greatness" emulates. And that, to me, is a pretty attainable goal.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Rescripting the past.

In the last two weeks, I've found myself in an interesting situation and time in my sobriety. While I have been sober for almost eight years, I always feel like I've been missing something. There are times when I think that I miss the excitement of irresponsibility and the extreme life highs that can come as a result of being a raging alcoholic. The spontaneous and unstable free fall that comes with caring about few consequences and living with reckless abandon. The drama. The sheer intensity in which an addict lives.

So, here I've been, unemployed, living back full-time in a town that I've long since left mentally. We live in a community of intense eclecticism. Mountains, rocks, sky. A small town of people addicted to one thing or another, depending on which way the wind blows. And, by my own choice for several reasons, many of the people and situations that I had long forgotten made a guest appearance back in my life.

And there are several reasons for this. I have been intrigued to dip my toes back into my life as an addict. Not drinking, of course, but living vicariously through others who are spiralling down to rock bottom. I've watched myself slip back into a very comfortable place, one where responsibility and emotional growth comes to a screeching halt and the unfulfilled desire for excitement comes flooding in. It's been, in the last two weeks, both exhilarating and frustrating to say the least.

In essence, I have lived the last two weeks many many times in my former life. The people and circumstances haven't changed at all. And because of this, I have been remarkably tempted to try to re-script events and feelings that have been dormant for years. While I am dipping my toes in this life, I am still very much aware of my surroundings. The drama, while incredibly enticing, is not without hard falls after the peaks. And for what? To try and rectify what I couldn't fix in the first place. Other people's actions. My inability to exist in that life. It doesn't work for me anymore.

So, now, the drama has ended. I never came close to jumping into the pool, but I was reminded that no matter, I won't be able to swim in those waters again. Never could and never will. Re-writing the past is not an option. Living in the present and being fully present in life is the most rewarding and healthy option for someone who almost lost life so many times.

And, I'm sitting here watching the door close on another chapter. While I am sad, I never doubted the outcome from the beginning. I went through the last two weeks absolutely aware of what would happen. I remain slightly bruised from not being able to rewrite my own history and help stop someone at terminal velocity downward, but so so very happy that I do not have to. Everyone writes their own story.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Writing the book

I apologize, I am in heavy book writing mode. Be back in a day or so.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The porch.

Just about ten years ago, I used to sit on my front porch while in the throes of my final days of being consistently inebriated, waiting. I was waiting for the inevitable to happen; my marriage was failing, job was left and emotionally I was numb. I would sit and wait for my ex husband to show up (it was sometimes days) and count cars for hours. It was quite possibly one of the most miserable periods of my life. I had made bad choices. I was lamenting over and over the five years I spent spiraling down faster and faster. I was so far removed from being healthy because I was in so much pain.

I remember the pain from this time, it's been creeping up on me over the last week for a variety of reasons. I can still feel the angst of being emotionally comatose because I was simply so lost within my miserable life. I blamed everyone. I wished for a life that I didn't really want in the first place. I took anything and everything personally. I spent time in a marriage that never should have happened. Love eluded me. Life confused the hell out of me. And to boot, I was always in a state of drunken self medication.

And I would just sit and watch my life go by, wondering when something would happen to change it. Ha, good luck, I think now.

Fast forward to yesterday, I sat on the porch last night watching the sunset. I felt a resurgence of this waiting as variables have come into play that remind me of my old life so many years ago. The thoughts of years ago have been forefront and I am amazed at how aware I've become at recognizing them. This time, I was on the porch reminding myself of where I am in my life. Where I've come from. No longer am I waiting for my life to pass by but rather letting those things that are no longer conducive to good health simply pass by my transom. It's refreshing to know this.

And it's amazing to know that my life isn't passing by at all.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Happiness

I used to think that happiness eluded me. I was not able to find the things that were able to make me feel fully content and at peace. I blamed all the circumstances and mishaps of my life as reason for not being truly happy. This elusiveness caused me great conflict and question; "why was happiness not coming my way"? Not good for one's emotional growth.

The fact of the matter is, as I am coming to find out, is that I am really the one who is eluding happiness, not the other way around. Instead of surrounding myself with happiness, I have been running. Running, hiding and fearing the consequences of giving up a great wall of self deprecation and utter sadness. It's been a comfort both before and after my sober life. I've run fast and hard from those paths that would lead to joy and solace. I've locked the gates and completely shut down in fear of rescinding the miserable barriers I've created.

And so, what to do...what to do...is what I think. Focus of what makes you happy. Strive boldly instead of retreating. Love yourself and find peace from within. So many smart people in my life have quoted the aforementioned. "So much easier said than done", I've retorted.

Today, I'm saying "so much easier done than holding all the crap in".

Thursday, April 09, 2009

The Process of self-invention.

As with any kind of recovery program, there comes great self invention when we begin to take stock of ourselves in a new light.

When I was first sober, I left my job in the city for two years to reassess where I was in life and who I wanted to become. This was an easy process at the time. Cut out drinking, lose the drama and start living life. I painted and wrote. I started the sobriety girl brand. Exercised. Went to therapy. Got rid of a lot of demons. And I was truly happy.

As I dove back into corporate world, I lost some of this invention. I was busy in other areas of my life. Time became scarce and work took hold of me very much like any other addiction I had. I never went completely back to my old self, but I forever questioned the choices I was making. I mean, I was an outdoor girl living in an office with no windows. I felt stifled and suffocated in one sense and overwhelmingly corporately satisfied in another.

In the last three weeks, I'm watching myself go through a very similar process of shedding demons and moving towards bringing back those elements in my life that I consider healthy. I'm getting over the layoff pain as it's been amazing to realize how universal losing a job is at this point in our economy. While I am actively looking for employment (one needs a paycheck bigger than NYS unemployment to keep going and I'm still writing the book), I've set short and long term goals for my future. Right now, today, I am focused on everything that I've missed about myself. Below are some highlights of these inventions I've dug out of the "good for you" trunk that had been collecting dust in my house:

Exercise: Imperative to recovery and life. Forgot how much I loved to run (and I can now do so in daylight) and ride my bike.

Emotion: Every day I challenge myself to do something out of my comfort zone. Calling to refinance a loan (never fun), writing about something painful, seeing people I haven't seen. These were all things that never made it on to the every day list because I simply did not have time or energy to expend.

Life: I'm reinventing my life. Big statement but it can be done in small steps. Taking time to breathe in the morning with a cup of coffee. Walking the dog for an hour instead of ten minutes. Having an actual social life that includes people other than my dog.

Communication: I have more time to communicate. I can call my grandmother and talk for an hour. Picking up a pen means connection with my journal instead of trying to find time in an electronic calendar for myself.

Love: I forgot about loving myself. All the aforementioned have confirmed that I do indeed like myself these days. Now, it's time to bring the love to the surface. A big, bold goal in my life today.

I'm not completely scraping my corporate life, again, I like making money. I am reintroducing the things that I loved about me and about my surroundings. Recreating the wheel? No. Re-inventing? Absolutely. It was the most anticipated change that I never expected and happiness is starting to creep back in. Imagine that.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The professional break-up

As someone who worked within one job function for the better part of my career, getting laid off brought on change that was unexpected and not overwhelming comfortable. I've found in the last two weeks, being laid off bears many parallels to the throes of a personal relationship break-up. One where my job has essentially up and left me to deal with picking up the pieces (duly noted that this is a strange economic time, but the parallels are still similar).

Similar to the first few days of a break-up, denial followed by a sense of euphoria were the key emotions. I was in shock. Suddenly, it was over. Regardless of how happy or unhappy I was about the five hour commute or the inner workings of corporate politics, life as I knew it was over. I lamented about what I could have done differently (I don't think it would have mattered in the slightest). I questioned my part of the "break-up". I had difficulty fathoming what I would do next without my job, my security and, parallel to a relationship, professional identity. All of it was beyond my control, as with someone being left in a relationship, and everything scared me desperately.

After this brief period (again, these are strange economic times), I began the euphoric process of change. Suddenly, I was not tied to the commute. My blackberry stopped incessantly beeping with e-mails. My calendar went from overloaded with meetings to completely clear. I realized that I could do whatever I wanted, my independence was back and I was free of stress. I felt very similar to the days after my marriage broke up. I spent two days walking around my property thinking about my next steps. I smelled the air. I felt the wind. I was free of my own expectations and responsibility of another. Anything was now possible.

And then, like any break-up, reality and grief began to set in. Panic, due to the financial constraints I now faced. Euphoria was great, but brief. What the hell was I going to do now? I spent two days on the couch depressed and anxious.

Fast forward a few days, as it is now coming up to three weeks. I'm in a new routine. I'm not thrilled to not be working, but opportunities that were unexpected have been presenting themselves to me. Sort of like the dating after a marriage, not familiar but refreshing.

I'm adjusting to no blackberry. I've taken up pilates again. The book WILL be finished by the end of the summer. The boxes with all my belongings came, I cried for a few hours and then wrote my own personal "dear work" letter. And let it go.

It's about reinvention. Staying in the moment and knowing that things will improve at some point. In the meantime, I no longer have to worry about the metro north increase or what my client may or may not say. I'm re-energized for life, sans the paycheck.

So, good-bye to my job, it was special and I learned a great deal. But, it's over and the time has come to move on.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I'm positively fired.

Yesterday I was interviewed on the radio regarding my demise as an advertising executive person (got laid off last Friday). I never really thought it would happen....but it did. So, instead of wallowing in self pity, I decided to do something I very rarely engage in---positive thinking.

Yes, it's not pretty getting laid off as more and more people are finding out today. On top of the rejection one feels, regardless of the circumstances, when you're sober, you have to worry about falling back into a self deprecation trap. I saw it this past weekend, noticed myself staring into space and looking to retreat on the couch in sheer panic.

Regardless of the fact that I am worried about the job market, finances, leaving a place I called home for years, there is opportunity in this process.

For the first time in years, I have had five days with little thoughts of work (where I had previously been consumed by every detail). I've done the radio, climbed rocks, taken my dog on a hike and given myself a reprieve from the hard work I've done for many many years. I've gotten on my bike and felt the wind.

Below, I've listed as many positives things about losing your job that I've experienced, conjured up in my head for fear of losing it and just thought of over the last days of analyzing everything:

  • This a good time for re-invention (I mean, the job you had may not be the one you do again) both personally and professionally
  • Don't dwell. After trying to figure out what happened, I finally realized that I would never be able to find answers to unanswerable questions.
  • Take care of yourself. I found the first three days was easy to stop all things that were good for me, including taking a shower. Not such a good thing for anyone else in your life or yourself. This is the time to be good to yourself as there are things that are beyond our control.
  • Contact EVERYONE you know. This is a good time for networking.
  • Develop short term and long term goals. Even in a time of uncertainty, writing out goals will help. I currently have about four pages written.
  • Re-evaluate what you need to live. Does having wifi connected to an iphone matter? Where are the savings in your life?
  • Whatever you do, don't stop. Every morning I get up at the same time I did when I was commuting into the city and I just do anything to keep a routine.
  • And think about the bigger picture. At some point, we will work again.
I will be posting the link to the interview from yesterday...and if anyone has any good advertising jobs, please let me know (See? I'm using all my resources!)

Radio Interview

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hitting Bottom...Sober

Some people say that an addict hits bottom before he pulls himself up and begins the arduous and thrilling road of recovery. To some extent, I believe this to be true. Moments before I decided to become sober, I had essential hit what I knew to be my bottom. I lost a husband, friends, and most of my personal dignity. I was forlorn and lost, love was absent and all respect for myself had washed down the drain faster than I had would have ever imagined.

Hence, the road to my own recovery began and seven years later I've blogged and given speeches and taken pictures showing the world what sobriety can do for someone. I've had the pink cloud of euphoria following me and dissipate as quickly over the years, knowing the personal work I was responsible for creating thunderstorms while figuring out how truly life changing being sober was.

I've been walking, running and stumbling through my sobriety over the years, never questioning my choice not to drink but certainly questioning the the choices that I make in my everyday and emotional life.

So, here I have been: Sober and relatively happy but not altogether satisfied with where I am. Moving forward at a slower pace than the first two years. Not completely comfortable being me sober and definitely not comfortable being me in my former skin. And months ago, I realized that I am starting to slide towards the bottom again. I'm not talking about picking up a bottle, that would be entirely too easy. It's so much more subtle than that: I have been living in fear. Fear of love. Fear of life. Fear of taking all the tools I've learned in my sobriety and applying them to my life. It was like living in limbo for the last few years, not making wrong decisions but staying very clear of the right ones.

And yesterday, I truly truly hit my sober bottom. It was unexpected in a sense. I was having a bad day, playing emotional tug of war with my past, realizing my present wasn't what I wanted it to be and just suddenly realizing that I have been hiding in the shadows of my own recovery. Outwardly, I have been rock solid. Inwardly, I have been so scared that allowing myself to love again, to live again would cause the same pain I've felt so many times in my life. And I'd grown accustom to just hiding from the life I could very well be living.

I cried yesterday for almost six hours straight. I cried so hard I just didn't know how to stop. I started thinking about my marriage, my old relationships, old life, loves, fears, etc. And then I stopped crying. I stopped and thought about where I was. It was my bottom.....sober.

So, today, after sinking to my emotional low, I feel as if a new chapter begins. Doesn't it always? That I deserve love and life just as much as anyone, regardless of my past and those events that have put me where I am today. My voice, continues. My life, moves forward. My love, renewed.

And, today, I think that hitting bottom happens at many points and in many variations. It's a chance to pick-up and move on. A chance to find out what needs to happen to attain the life we are so entitled to and deserve.

So, bottom's up, I say....today is a good day.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Everyone has a story....

I was born with a sixth finger, a pinkie that was removed about 24 hours after I was alive. Not a big deal by medical standards, but by being born with an extra digit, I came out strange and screaming with a story from the get go.

Many decades later, I still have a story and I'm still slightly different (I don't think it has anything to do with the removed appendage) but the difference is that now I have a voice to tell the tales I live.

This week, I celebrate my seventh year of sobriety and again, I look back on my "story" to gain insight and perspective on my own life and how it relates to the overall ways of the world.

My story leading to recovery is universal. I drank, I walked down a tumultuous path in life and I hit my own proverbial bottom. Nothing hugely earth shattering, but I was starting to run down the path of serious self destruction instead of walking and I got smart, I stopped for a moment to look at where I was headed. I changed direction and used everything in my power and resource bank to ensure that the direction I was heading would lead me to the most advantageous place in life.

Seven years later, my story is now grounded in recovery instead of addiction. I have been able to take the voice I was born with (again, reference the "came out screaming") and use it both to help others and learn from the world around me. I am not an expert in recovery, but rather, an individual who has decided to share my life with anyone willing to change their own direction.

After seven years, the struggle to be sober remains as critical as ever. I fight my urges and insecurities on a daily basis. I strive to collectively take everything I am learning and win the battle against my detrimental addiction that almost cost me my life on many occasions. In today's economic meltdown, I struggle with how to make sense of what's going on and am trying to do so with those things I have learned in my recovery; Patience, acceptance and faith.

All things considered, patience consists of taking each day as it is. I can not control all the elements around me, but I can remember to be patient with myself, my job, the economy, etc. Every day has become just that, every day. I live in the moment more than ever, I try very very hard not to consume myself with the future because I just don't know what's going to happen. And I accept this inability to predict the future. I accept the things that I cannot control. But, take responsibility and pride in those things that I can.

This is where faith comes in. I have faith that no matter what, I will remain sober. I may end up in a different place on many fronts, but I will always see my sobriety as a constant source of faith that, when things were at the lowest point in my own life, I pulled myself up and recovered. And, universally, we will do the same when the time is right. The principals of recovery can be carried over into so many more elements of life than just addiction. It means having faith in oneself, having faith in the ability to persevere and believing that what one is doing is honest and true.

So, seven years later I no longer find myself focusing so much on how I got here. That was the easy part. I do focus on why I have chosen to live my life sober, reasons that are far more fulfilling than why I chose to live my life drunk. I have chosen to live each day as a gift. I am alive, I am able to interact with thousands of people who are living a similar life and I have been given a gift to be able to speak freely and candidly about my journey.

Thank you all very much for being here. You've made the journey very real and true.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Sober Door © Book Excerpt


I've been writing a book for the last few months, it's a fictional labor of love about a woman who comes to terms with her sobriety. Since I have been getting a lot of e-mails regarding the book and am appreciative of all the support, I've decided to post the unedited first draft version of the preface to "The Sober Door".....stay tuned in the next year, it will be out there.....
Thanks,
Kim

The Sober Door ©

Preface

Locked in. Barricaded from the outside. He spared me. Saved me. Threw me with resounding force. Conflicted. I am being spared. I am being enveloped in blackness. I can hear him. Screaming outside. Ranting, ranting, ranting.

“WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME? ALL OF YOU?”

I know that I am safe for the moment. I know he is hurting everyone outside the door. I am shut in, shut out from him. They are outside. I am safe. I am spared. The noise of the punches. Each slap stings. Screams. Cries. It rings in my ears. I hear my brother screaming. My mother screaming. I am eneveloped in blackness. The vibration of each hit comes through the floor. I cannot see beyond the door in front of me.

“I NOT THE MAN YOU WANT IN YOUR LIFE.”

I know I want him. I want him to open the door. I want him to bring me out, beat me and take me out of this dark place he has sequestered me to. I want to feel the pain. EACH and EVERY lash that is being inflicted.I have been in here for hours, this I know. Cramped and cowering, only wishing that he would love me enough to hit me too. I can smell his breathe, even from inside the tomb I am in. Acid. Fire. Sweetness. His nose, white like Christmas. His eyes wild as he had pushed my thrashing limbs. I was left out of the carnage. .I hear everything but cannot see. I am so desperate not to be forgotten in the massacre.

“YOU ARE ALL F**** NUTS”

For a moment, I hear his hand on the door knob. I think, “he’s going to bring me out.” I am not scared. I am ready to handle his wrath as it is inherently mine. I tremble. For once, I am not forgotten. I will be his daughter. I will wipe his tears away with my hand. He will know that I want him.

And quickly, his hand is gone.

All goes silent. I hear whimpering. It is my own. I know he is gone. Left me here in the closet. Darkness. I am alone. I don’t know where he is going or how long but he won’t be back. He went too far. He left me.

He forgot to leave my present. He forgot to sing, to blow out the candles. He forgot to tell Mom that I only eat chocolate frosting. Today is my sixth birthday. I am locked in the closet.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

After the Holidays

Years ago, I used to find that the most depressing time of the year happened right after the holidays. The celebrations were over, the list of resolutions that I had made was already lost in the post-holiday shuffle and the coldness of winter was finally becoming reality. It was a time of looking back at the year prior and wondering if the regrets of my actions would follow me into the new year.

When I became sober, the post holiday period was more of a sigh of relief....I had made it through the social maze of skipped invitations and constant reminders of what I was missing out on (or so I thought at the time).

The last few years, however, I look at the post holiday period as a great time of self reflection. I no longer make lists of resolutions I know I will not keep. I have only one real and true resolution that I live every day of my life. Everything else, because of my constant resolve, is falling into place with the work that I put into being sober.

One thing I do around this time is take inventory of my goals and objectives. Where am I within my sober life? Where do I want to be this year? This month? This day? Resolutions, post holiday periods are more about asserting what we are living with and reflecting on how we can achieve even more balance in the months to come.

Today, my personal inventory looks a lot more like an orderly pantry than cluttered attic desperate for reorganizing. Sure, the cans on the shelves may still be stacked in slight disarray, but it's accessible and ready for cold winter days of reflection.