Alcohol is only a symptom of the disease alcoholism. You can take the alcohol out of alcoholism but what is left is the “ism” part of this disease. The ism is why we drank, the ism is what drove us to bad neighborhoods in our mind, who drove our bus. The ism will quickly get you drunk again if not addressed in recovery. The disease—the ‘ism’ of alcoholism—involves more than the act of drinking. The ism is what the successful recovering alcoholic addresses daily in their reprieve from alcohol in their journey of sobriety.
What is this ism part of alcoholism? Good acronyms for ism are : I, Self, Me or I Sponsor Myself or Internal Spiritual Malady, or Incredibly Short Memory or InSide Me or I Sabotage Myself. In short the “ism” is all about the alcoholic and how they cope with the many things encountered in life. This ism is one of self-centeredness taken to the extreme. The ism involves more than the act of drinking. Feelings of inadequacy, isolation, restlessness, anxiety, depression, fear and guilt are just a few of the “isms” that the alcoholic wrestles with daily. Other isms rears its ugly head showing over-reaction or just reacting, blaming others and defending yourself from perceived threats and fears. All of these feelings are internalized and exposed in twisted forms of alcoholic reality to friends and family and treated with alcohol by the alcoholic still suffering from the disease of alcoholism.
No matter what when you take away the alcohol, you still have the traits and characteristics that go with it. The ism is why we drank. The ism has to be addressed. We need a whole new way of life.
Most alcoholics, for whatever reason, can’t seem to cope with the bumpy road of life without drinking considerable amounts of alcohol. This inability to cope with life without alcohol is the “ism” part. Generally, most alcoholics are egotistical and self-centered people. Some are immature, at least for their age. Basically, they use alcohol, which is a drug, to “self-medicate” (self-manufacture their own coping mechanism) from their pains of life.
To stop drinking is never easy, but if an alcoholic is going to stop for good and lead a relatively “normal” life, they need to realize it is process of changing the way they deal with life and all its problems. It is actually more difficult to heal the “ism” side of the alcoholism problem, but one that must be done successfully if the alcoholic is going to live a good, alcohol-free existence.
Alcoholism is composed of two word elements.
Alcohol – the substance which alcoholics use. And ism the underlying motives or needs which can be addressed in recovery. AND
The Ism’s – These ism’s are part of normal life, everyone has them to varying degrees. Specifically, the ism’s are an attempt to make life bearable, as a way of “interpersonal control and coping.” This is, of course, what we all strive to do on a day-to-day basis, we need these thinking patterns and behaviours to cope, most people seem to be doing alright, while the alcoholic seems to be sinking fast.
One of the main ism’s with alcoholism is the ism of fear.
Recovery is mostly about letting go of fear. In fact, fear produces most all my insane moments. Any time I need a reality check, I try to stop and ask myself if there is a fear at the root of what I’m doing.
These are the fear demons I’ve identified in myself – so far.
Fear of… failure, Fear of loneliness, Fear of intimacy (In to me I see), Fear of risk, Fear of pain, Fear of abandonment, Fear of rejection, Fear of looking/sounding stupid, Fear of what someone might think, Fear of punishment, Fear of poverty, Fear of exploitation, Fear of missing the big chance, Fear of fear, Fear of ….letting go of fear.
With self-awareness of my isms and fears I can now know when I am acting or even thinking from fear.
If I know when I’m acting from fear, or about to act from fear, then I can usually let go of the fear and remain in the calm center. For me, recovery works when this “check-up” is my first response to a fear producing situation.
If the fear overwhelms me, or I miss the cue and act out of fear, my life gets unmanageable.
Part of this week was working around boundaries and what was the greatest boundaries we lost growing up. I heard everyone’s stories and it touched me in a way that made mine incomprehensible to everyone else’s however that’s the thing about our individuality, it’s owning our own story and what that story means to us. Like I said some of their stories were incredible and I am glad and privileged to have been able to hear their stories.
My greatest boundary that I lost growing up was my innocence and as hard as it is to write I know I need to get this out because this is the tape that plays again and again in my mind and I cannot get away from it. My hope is that it opens up more dialogue because not talking about this has gotten me to where I was before I chose to quit drinking and the selfishness, resentment and anger was the fuel to my drinking and the pain of not wanting to feel my own feelings. It’s a little insight to the problems I was faced with growing up and as my drinking progressed through out my life. It also tells a tale of how people are dealt with a hand to play with and as unfair as it can be, we have to do with what we have in the moments that life gives us, my grandparents, my parents and myself included.
Growing up my brothers and I had a beer bottle come between our parents and us. Babysitters would come by to take care of us when we were young so the intentions were there, I won’t downplay that however we didn’t want babysitters, we needed security and the comfort that only parents could give. Eventually when we were older I was the one to look after my siblings and for a time it was acceptable, it made me feel I was finding my place in the family and being the oldest brother I had responsibility and it felt good. The experience was soon diminished very fast, the fighting or partying was too much for me, I had the need to care take my brothers and the need to make sure they didn’t know what was going on when my parents showed up, as much as I tried I still don’t know what they actually know what was going on. I did my best.
As an adult I lived by the bottle, I’ve been normalized by the bottle, I’ve used the bottle to find and have that connection that it so took away from me and by doing that I started at an early age to use it to drink with my parents.
What I felt when I was young was that I wasn’t enough, I wasn’t loved, I had to compete with that bottle and by doing that I ended up using the very thing I envied over to have that connection. Also by doing that I felt and found comfort by what was in that bottle. I made choices at a very young age when those choices should never have been there to begin with and looking back I don’t have resentment anymore.
I said earlier that we were dealt with a hand of cards and whether we can use them or not, we have to do our best. My parents never folded because folding wasn’t an options for them, if at best they waited till the river and hope for the best and they I believe did their best. I love my parents I understand how young they were when mom had me and how young my dad was when he met my mom. Mom was only 19 when she had me and when dad showed up he was only 18. That’s young to be taking on a kid that was never yours to begin with and yet I am so very grateful he chose to love me and raise me as one of his own. They gave me direction and morals that I still hold on to today. They gave me two younger brothers I hold dear to my heart, we may have our differences however we have a great dad, we still have great memories growing up and we are who we are today.
The thing is I am going through Treatment here at Round Lake Treatment Centre as a 7 week refresher and the Kool thing is that I heard a saying that when the students ready, the teacher will show. Unexpectedly 31 teachers showed up for me as my peers and I couldn’t be more grateful.
So I took this program last summer and I met some amazing people and did some great work including trauma work and that was a make or break moment in my recovery, one of the first assignments we did was a letter to alcohol/drugs. It was a personal letter to the effects of our addictions and we had to share it with everyone. It was about how it affected us personally and it got really personal for a lot of us.
I wish I hadn’t burnt my first one from last summer because the whole thing around the burning it was to give it to God or my Creator and he could deal with it in a good way. The thing is that I was vulnerable to the point that only my last treatment buddies would be able to listen to it once and that’s it, no one would ever see or hear what I said again and that never sat good with me. I never felt healing in any way and so having this blog I had a chance to let the world see who I really was to whom ever had an interest in what I had to say and maybe, just maybe I could help one person.
They could feel a little braver to open up, become vulnerable themselves, heal the way they can and let go of whatever is keeping them back in their decision to quitting the very thing that has made their life unmanageable and that they were powerless over their addiction.
This gave me the idea to save my assignments and letters, to put them on display and give those people an idea of what happens in a treatment centre if they were curious about quitting.
Treatments and fellowships are a great way to see that no one is alone in what they’re going through, that their story is important for and to others. The new person is beneficial to the told timer cause it gives the old timer the sense of what it was like to be new, reflect on what they went through being scared and vulnerable. Same goes for the new comer, they see the wisdom that the old timer shares in meetings, the one liners that makes sense in a new way, the underlying issues that time has given old timers have seen in their recovery and pass this knowledge on to the new comers. We cannot keep what we were so freely given with this knowledge and the old timers get a certain glitter in their eyes when they see someone new. I have experienced this personally and it’s love in a new way.
This gives hope that there is life after putting down the bottle or needle and that sobriety can be a fun experience, life keeps going and life gets better.
There are so many messages conveyed at treatments and fellowships that it’s unreal, the beauty of strangers with addictions that connect for one thing, to get sober, meet fellow people that want to be sober and help each other. No one knows how hard it is than a fellow addict/alcoholic so we sympathize for and with each other.
Here is my letter to alcohol, me letting go of the thing I hid behind for 23 years, to hide pain and regret, to fuel resentment towards others and not love the way I should’ve for all those years.
Before I met you I was an innocent young aspiring little boy with ambitions to do great things in my life, I was filled with love and ideas about what I wanted to become through loving parents and family, they gave me morals and directions. At the tender age of 13 was my first interactions with you and right from the beginning you gave me false intentions of a life I envisioned, I thought you were going to take me into adulthood, give me a sense of ownership in my life. The false sense of fun and pride was yours for the taking and you took this away so viciously and gracefully, leaving me to cover up my pain. You took away my childhood, leaving me to grow up before my time, to look after my two younger brothers while mom and dad turned to you.You took my parents away as well, they had pain somewhere in their lives and you falsely comforted them the way you comfort everyone else, denying them of everything they truly are and who they truly love. You also took away myself when I was over indulging with you and that led to the reasoning why I don’t have my daughter in my life today.
What I felt after consuming you was what I thought life and being grown up was all about. To feel close and connected drinking with my mother when you took her away from me when I was a child, to feel accepted in social situations.
The people I harmed was my daughter and my family, I fell into patterns, My family having to worry about me throughout the years, the countless times I was an asshole or almost harmed complete strangers that never deserved it.
My acting out behaviours you caused me throughout all the years, creating animosity, being vindictive, how I made others walk on eggshells , I lied and cheated family and others, how I let ego always get the best of me, how I was browbeaten others and at times not knowing it, and how I raised my voice to overpower others for entitlement when I should’ve just been listening.
I want to say get lost, I’ve made my choice to live a life for myself, to live a life for serenity in sobriety. I have to live with the choices I did make when I over indulge, I’m saying that your no longer welcomed in my presence anymore. I have plans for the future to reconnect with my daughter even though it scares the living shit out of me cause I don’t know what she will think of me after 12 years, I have plans to reconnect with family and friends, to build a new foundation and build those bridges I burned from the splinters and ash that consumed them throughout the years. I want to simply say bye.
I have had some instances in my recovery where I micro-manage, I let ego and pride take over, I don’t receive messages and I can be a plain out asshole cause I am reverting what I have learned my whole life. Recovery is the hardest thing I have done to date. It was a lot easier just over 300 days ago that if any of these problems came up I could easily shut people out, walk away, intimidate people, manipulate them, even go as far as gaslighting others. In the very end for myself I would end up drinking because I had to feel my feelings and the easiest thing to do when I didn’t want to do that was to go buy some beer or a bottle. That was the easiest thing to do for a lot of stuff I didn’t want to face. Same goes for the truth, if someone slapped the truth right in front of my face, I yelled at them or I disconnected in my own way and isolated. The truth hurts whether you like it or not and you can learn from that truth or do what I did.
I was talking about some things with my counsellor that I needed to get off my chest because that’s what you do when talking with them. At some point we got off topic and we were talking about winter driving and I’ve always said, “I’m never worried about my own driving, I’m worried about what separates me from oncoming traffic, a line in the middle of the road, from drunk choices, suicidal people and distracted drivers, so I’m always aware of others on the road.” The response I got from him was, “That’s the perfect metaphor for what recovery is about.” I had to think about this for a couple days and while working out this morning I had an epiphany and this is what I came up with.
As we drive through life only knowing what we know from what we’ve been taught this far, we have some pretty bad habits, this is the same for driving and we tend to stay with those bad habits cause they work for us. Personally mine included drinking while I drove in my life in my vehicle. When I drove, I not only noticed bad drivers around me, I had the habits of swerving at others, honking my horn, swearing and hand gestures, I would try and run them off the road if and when they pissed me off. That’s the only way I knew growing up was to react, let my ego and pride get the best of me, how I would respond to others messages and criticism. Basically I was up in my head fighting a losing battle within myself. I was infatuated with getting back or making others feel how they made me feel. I know I’m missing stuff however this is what’s prevalent right now.
Realizing this is how I am driving my own life and not taking into consideration of others, I need to relearn how to drive. All I need to do is stay in my own lane, watch out for objects, traffic (others) and be respectful. Following the same laws that govern highway usage in real life because not doing so will lead to fines, jail time and car crashes. Other drivers maybe going through stuff I have no idea about but as long as I stay within my capabilities I will be fine, what they’re going through is none of my business.
I’m going to take this one more step further to say that even though I have complete control on how I drive, I can still have that tendency to swerve at others, finger that asshole, speed past everyone and revert to my old habits. This is when I have to let go of that steering wheel and trust baby Jesus to take control, to lead from my heart instead of my head, his will and not my own then I can be present for not only myself, but others that drive through this life around me and I will be a better person for it.
What is lateral violence? Although it is found everywhere, lateral violence in this case refers to its impact in communities, workplaces, homes, events and literally everywhere there are people. Lateral violence is a learned behaviour as a result of colonialism and patriarchal methods of governing and developing a society.
What are the behaviours linked with lateral violence?
Lateral violence takes on a number of different toxic behaviours, and it is any action that is meant to discourage or make a person feel bad in the workplace. If you are the target of lateral violence the constant barrage of negative behaviours can be likened to harassment and bullying. In its extreme form, lateral violence can be conscious, deliberate act of meanness with the overall intention to harm, hurt and induce fear in a co-worker. In other forms of lateral violence, the individual perpetrating the negative behaviour may not be aware of the meanness they are exhibiting and they may not be doing these actions intentionally. The following are some of behavioural indicators that lateral violence may be happening by you, to you or to someone else in your workplace.
Where does it happen?
Although the most common place for lateral violence is in the workplace, it does cross the line into the community and home. The primary workplaces in which lateral violence are more prevalent are those with poor organizational systems or those workplaces that are undergoing change such as downsizing or merging, or when power is shifting and people feel uncertain.
Why does it happen?
Lateral violence happens when individuals who have endured oppression suppress feelings such as: anger, shame, and rage. Eventually these feelings manifest in behaviours such as: jealousy, resentment, blame, and bitterness; and they are directed toward their Aboriginal co-workers. As many of these people have been victims of abuse these behaviours are usually used to manipulate, dominate, control and diminish others. Regardless of their issues, the behaviour is not appropriate and no one should be the target of someone’s unresolved issues.
Behavioural sings of lateral violence
• nonverbal intimation (raising eyebrows, making faces, eye rolling)
• obvious name calling
• belittling a person’s opinions
• yelling or using profanity
• making up and/or exaggerating scenarios
• making snide comments and remarks
• making jokes that are offensive by spoken word or email
• using put downs
• rumor mongering
• ignoring, excluding or freezing out people
• handing over work assignments with unreasonable deadlines or duties that will ensure the person will fail
• being purposely unavailable to meet with staff
• undermining activities
• withholding information or giving the wrong information purposely
• constantly changing work guidelines
• blocking requests for a promotion, leave or training
• not giving enough work so the individual will feel useless
• refusing to work with someone
• complaining to peers and not confronting the individual
• failing to respect privacy
• breaking the confidences of others
• mobbing or ganging up on others
The Effects of Lateral Violence
On a personal level, depending on the severity of the lateral violence there are a lot of health problems that can manifest for the individual being targeted. They could experience:
•Sleep disorders either not being able to sleep or not wanting to get out of bed in the morning;
•Changes in eating habits – either eating more or less or differently;
•Weight loss or gain;
•Moodiness – lack of sleep will usually mean that you won’t be all that happy;
•Self-doubt –you question all your decisions and abilities;
Traumatic events and experiences are subjective. Subjectively, some individuals are more vulnerable or susceptible to stress than others who are more resilient or resistant.
How are traumatic occurrence affects an individual depends on many factors, including characteristics of the individual, the type and characteristics of the events or occurrence, developmental processes comma the meaning of the trauma. Additionally, an individual’s response to trauma can depend on how the trauma is handled , or whether the trauma is public versus private and the degree of support that was available at the time. In this way, the impact of the very same traumatic experience can be a highly individual experience that can differ substantially, even in the same family. These individual differences are important to appreciate and understand as they undergird the healing process.
Trauma is an event that stimulates emotions but the release of that emotion is blocked. The expression of feeling is hampered, denied or minimized in some manner ~ We decide or are told it is not okay to feel ~
As a Child:
As an Adult:
Sudden unexpected loss eg: Death, Sudden break up from a long relationship
Types of Trauma:
Single incident trauma: one time situation
Complex or Repetitive trauma: ongoing and can involve other issues > abuses
Development trauma: Affecting learning capabilities > brain injuries
Intergenerational Trauma: Trauma passed down through the generations > family of origin
Historical Trauma: Residential school, reserves
Trauma Cuts us off from:
Belief in self
What Trauma does:
Wounding of emotions, spirit, will to live, belief about self, belief about the world and sense of security.
Wounds our spirit
Makes us feel that the world isn’t safe now
The belief about self is the shame and the child blames themselves
The world isn’t safe now, people are mean and cruel now
Impacts our sense of security = isolate, anger, becomes hyper-vigilant
Impact of trauma is that past normal ways of thinking, feeling and handling stress don’t work anymore
Trauma is a process of de-personalization.
A stripping away of person hood, individuality, humanity and it is especially strong when the event is senseless or preventable
And the child learns: DON’T TALK > DON’T TRUST > DON’T FEEL
Acting out behaviors of Trauma Survivors:
Frequent bursts of anger/rage
Suicidal ideation and attempts
Workaholism and Perfectionism
Control at all costs
Highly defensive behaviors
Shopping – over spending
High risk behaviors
Blaming others for what goes on in their lives
Sense of entitlement
What every trauma survivor needs to know:
Your reactions and response to trauma maybe quite complicated and are affected by your experiences, you’re coping and life skills at the time, Accessibility of close supports, or immediate family and / or healers as well of how your community may have responded. Regardless of all those factors, you need to know:
It wasn’t your fault
What you experienced may not be normal but YOUR REACTION AND YOU ARE
You did the best you could at that age or time
You have strengths, courage and are resilient
Recovery and Healing is possible
How you can heal:
Validate the trauma, experience, loss and effects
Respect Your Defenses
Honour your strength, courage and resiliency
Develop your own goals
Challenge the rules of >No Talk, No Trust, No Feel<
Share your story ~ With intent to release feelings, not to relive experiences
Release Shame (sometimes it’s not even ours to begin with)
Rebuild relationships ~ Make connections
Allow time to heal ~ explore your choices for future
Continue to reach out and ask for help as needed
Cultural Ceremonies ~ return to rituals and celebrations
Sometimes things have to fall apart to make way for better things
– Ted Mosby (Josh Radner)
My life had to fall apart from what I was doing, to make way for better things I was destined to do. It was me in a quote from a TV show that I watched called “How I met your mother.” I have watched this show many times before, yet this stuck with me.
What came to mind when I first heard this quote was that I had to let go of what I knew from my past and in my addiction and unlearn everything just about cause I was headed on a dismal road. I had to unlearn how I reacted to how when my daughter’s name was brought up, I lashed out or silenced towards the person that said it. It brought up pain, shame, hurt, abandonment and grief in me. I also had to recognize that I didn’t have to seek others approval about myself or change anything about myself to fit in to their way of life, I bring something unique to everything I am. I also had to learn to love myself over again, I’ve been saying in the past that I did love myself and did that so much I started to believe my own lies. I really didn’t and when I realized that, I started working in that in my own way.
The better things in life now are not only my sobriety, but everything that is an extension of my sobriety and that includes my family, friends, where my growth has been happening and letting go of my past. I cannot change what has already happened but I can learn and change what I do in the future.
Haven’t forgot about you all out there, I am having a bit of writers block and having to get as far as I can with my English 12 before I head back into Treatment. No I didn’t relapse, I’m going back to work on some core issues of sorts, I’m hoping that by being around new and raw people in recovery will invoke new things I can work on and do this all before April 7th because this is my One year in sobriety!!! Treatment will last from Feb 24th – April 9th but I’ll be done before the end or maybe not. I will be thinking about this for a few more days before I make this decision.
On the other hand I have been noticing a shift in my recovery, I’ve had them all along and I’m very aware when they are happening when I’m going through them. The first one was when I was in my first 3 months in recovery. I can only explain it as being in a relationship with my sobriety and in that puppy love, I was excited and exhilarated with all my new emotions and feelings I was going through. When I hit my 3 months, it changed from a puppy love to a long term relationship of sorts. I was comfortable in having the feeling that this was gonna be a life time journey with experiences and healthy relationships.
My new shift is the realization that I am able to plan more into the future without feeling anxiety. In early recovery we have to understand that looking to far into the future brings fear and anxiety, that not being able to be like everyone is not what we thought our lives to be, and that could in a lot of cases lead to a relapse. A sort of stinking thinking. I also feel that my thinking is not that of being afraid of the idea of alcohol anymore. I do realize that it’s the problem that has brought me to my current situation and that will always be on the back burner in my mind. However where my life is going with upgrading, self healing and finding new ventures in finding ways to be financially free with online businesses is taking way to much time. I have a life outside of alcohol and this is where I always visioned myself to be headed. I want to enjoy life and not be afraid of being around any addiction issues. I am writing my own program cause it is my life but I will be mindful is my situations.
Anyways its Feb 12 and its a gorgeous day here in Vernon BC and I have a coffee date soon. I will come back later for more content. Nathan
What are using dreams about? I’ve recently had an onslaught of them regarding what’s been going on around me lately and they’ve been unnerving. Dreams have been around me my whole life from Lucid Dreams to flying dreams to nightmares about unspeakable things I hope never come true. What about the dreams I’ve been having recently since I’ve been in recovery?
Since being in recovery and living in a recovery house I’ve known everyone around me get them and it’s a topic that comes up regularly. Some dreams are more intense than others while some are bleak and may not mean much. I’ve known myself self to dream ever since I can remember and some lead to Déjà vu and others are just dreams that make sense to what has happened around me.
I was reading that dreams are derived from your subconscious mind trying to make sense of what happened around you, mostly what major areas were affected during your day. This past week there has been a lot of activity around relapse and has been affecting me significantly, more than I’d honestly like to admit and more because I am in recovery and I do not want to go back to what I was like before. I’ve had dreams about smoking some stuff off a tin foil with a lighter and it really messed me up, that was a vivid dream and that was weird cause I’ve never done that before in my life but I do remember watching “Intervention Canada” When it was on Netflix, Me and my cousin binged watched that show and I remember seeing that in episodes so that makes sense. Other using dreams to me that I had were chalked up to my body and my mind making sense of the grieving process that I was enduring my first 6-8 months of detoxing from alcohol and yes I had to go through the grieving process from drinking cause it was such a huge part of my life and I relied on it, it was my friend, my ally and confidence. It never let me down to rid my pain until I needed it again.
I’ve been talking about it with others and reading up on it and while my life facilitator says and I believe it to a certain degree that it’s my mind dealing with problems that I neglect to deal with on a conscious level so I dream about numbing my pain or problems on a sub conscious level. I’ve also read that the person that abused their addiction more intensely had more dreams and vivid dreams as a result. There are many other views on this from personal to medical and who knows which one nailed it or which one was wrong. I don’t believe any are really wrong, all are valid to certain degrees.
The subconscious mind is still a mystery to modern science in most aspects that run our daily lives from motor functions to regulating body temperatures and our heart and such. Our mind and how we think is still being uncovered daily in science from curious people and experts around the world. I know that my own dreams recently shook me, due to the fact that in my dream I was dishonest not only to myself but to those around me and to those I was going to be dishonest to. That is not a part of my recovery, my recovery is about honesty to myself firstly and to those around me, I am rebuilding my integrity and that hasn’t been an easy task, It’s taken time and action in me to show people I am doing my part as best as I can.
I’m posting a couple sites for people to go see and read about Using Dreams and how they can maybe do things to ease the oncoming of those episodes before they happen. I’m for sure glad I was able to talk about this cause sometimes they bug me to the point that I have to ask myself if I’m in relapse mode and I have to take personal inventory and just realize where I am at.
Here are 7 things I have found apparent for myself that has gotten me to where I am now and I am grateful for all of these.
One of the first things I did for myself was to find the support I needed to start my recovery journey. I may have done a few things wrong without knowing it, but finding the people that would help, encourage and stand behind me was the most defining point in my sobriety. They gave words that made me feel like I wasn’t a loser. They showed me sympathy that made me walk a little taller. They believed in me when I couldn’t believe in myself. They guided my thoughts to find a life for myself without drinking. I had these people to lean on when I was shaky in the knees. When I had doubts, they called me on my shit. Join a support group, there are many out there that you can go to, there are numbers you can call and websites to find where they hold meetings. I cannot stress enough for everyone new in recovery that if you don’t have people behind you, it will be much more harder and lonelier. When you show people that you really are trying, you’ll find through the thickest smoke and ashes of despair, people will walk out into your life and show you empathy and compassion.
Make Positive Lifestyle Changes
Avoiding relapse starts with decreasing overall stress levels, improving mood and cultivating wellness. Be gentle with your self, you’ve put your body through a hell of a lot and this helps with the mind and body. Eating healthy, getting good sleep every night and getting regular exercise. The better someone feels, the easier it is for him to manage frustrations and unexpected emotions gracefully without turning to drugs and alcohol.
Stop putting your self down
Learn to love your self and that includes your mistakes, we all make them and no ones perfect. We’re gonna fall a couple times, its how you pull your self up. putting yourself down for past mistakes and hurts doesn’t allow you to heal and puts you at risk of relapse. Realize that you’re now in a new phase in your life and are learning to think and act differently.
Change the way you talk
I’m talking about how you say your going to make changes in your life. Stop saying things like, “I’ll try and not drink tomorrow.” Say “I won’t drink tomorrow.” or “I might be able to do that for you in an hour.” Say, “I will do that for you in an hour.” Saying that you will do what your set out to do is your integrity and your building that back up again with people and honesty in recovery is everything. You want that trust back from people you lost it with. Say what your gonna do.
Giving gratitude 28 days in a row will re-wire how your brain will send messages in a new way, there’s science behind this one somewhere but if you say a gratitude in the morning about what your grateful for in your life, it can be anything, this will give your thoughts a more positive outlook about situations you may encounter. This one is true cause I caught myself having trouble with something and I said to myself, “I am grateful for the struggles.” and I realized what I said and saw how it was working for me.
Change is inevitable in our world, what you were last year is not what you are now today. What you were when you were in your addiction, is not who you are now or who your trying to grow into. Growth is change and it’s change for the better so stop trying to stop change or fight it. Accept it and be open with new ideas, views and perspectives. All can be valid and it may lead to your growth in a positive way.
Deal with your Trauma
This one you may want to try a treatment center or with your counsellor. Everyone with addictions has trauma that is blocking them from having a beautiful life. I can’t speak to much more about this but be aware of how you react to people, places or things, your body and mind are telling you that something is wrong and you need to deal with this to effectively put it behind you.
There are more but everyone’s recovery is different and everyone will be in a different stage of recovery. This for me is what I found worked the most. I am just grateful that I have succeeded this far. I have a lot of people to thank and I’m just over 2 months from a year which I am excited for. I have a blog that I am healing with by getting my story out there and letting people read it. I am just happy about my life right now and I’m ready for whatever life has to throw at me cause I know,
I want to go back to why I started this blog in the first place. I have a problem with drinking and it wasn’t until I went to treatment that I quite, specifically it was dealing with inner child trauma situations that I was unawares of or just didn’t acknowledge because they hurt so much. What ever the case may be I was dealing with pain that lead to more pain, a revolving cycle that wreaked havoc on my life, pain I wasn’t aware of and pain begets pain. Addiction is what we use to run away from it.
Learning about trauma and reading “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts” Written by Dr. Gabor Mate, a physician who’s expertise is in trauma, addiction, stress and childhood development. He nailed it and I had never thought that trauma lead to addiction, that addiction or drinking was that the person was just hopeless and lacked compassion or empathy for self and others cause who treats family and friends the way we do when we were in our our addiction? I did some pretty horrible things to friends and family, even strangers that didn’t deserve the things I’ve done. When in our right minds we would never pull that shit on anyone that meant anything to us let a lone a stranger. A lot of Dr Gabor Mates patients were from East Hastings on the down town east side of Vancouver, BC and I’m gonna go as low as 90% cause I’m pretty sure it’s a little higher but of these addicted patients, 90% were sexually abused when they were children, they couldn’t fight back, they were innocent. They didn’t want to live, they chased around that high to get away from reality and numb those despair feelings. They risked their lives and didn’t care about anything, only wanting that feeling.
I want to get into another realization because when I was posting on my own Facebook about inner child work, signs and symptoms of trauma, grief, abandonment, guilt and such I had a few friends whom messaged me that a lot of the stuff they were reading was resonating with them. I believed they had no addiction problem what so ever. I asked myself why was this so? and an idea came about that maybe they were finding comfort in some other way or disconnecting themselves differently and subtly and they weren’t even aware of it themselves. Then I came upon what I read and found what Brene Brown was saying.
The Shield: Numbing Numbing is the embracing of whatever tactic works to lessen the pain we experience around discomfort and pain. However, it is ever more detrimental because it doesn’t just work to deaden the painful and difficult situations; numbing vulnerability works to dull the positive experiences as well.If we are numbing vulnerability –or what we see as the experience of or chance at pain and discomfort –we are, along the way, numbing joy, belonging, creativity and love.
Daring Greatly, Brene Brown pg 137
Another example is a conversation between Brene and Oprah
Numbing, Brown says, is a type of armor that comes in many forms. Her numbing drug of choice is food. Drugs, gossip and social media are other ways we numb ourselves, she says. “A lot of people are numbed out with social media now,” Oprah says. “It’s so bad,” Brown agrees. “You know why? Because if I get laid off at work and I post that on Facebook, and I get 20 responses like, ‘I’ve got your back’ or ‘I’m sorry,’ it feels great. But it’s different than if I called you and said, ‘Hey Oprah, its Brené . I got laid off today. Do you have 10 minutes?’” Brown says. “Because in that real-person request is a very vulnerable bid for connection,” she explains. “I’m asking you, can you put everything down and hold space for me for the next 15 minutes? I’m in some pain.”
So beginning to see a trend in what I was reading and posting about awareness I thought to myself, why not start a blog, a group page, twitter and Instagram to get the word out there. Where Trauma leads to Addiction and Recovery uncovers the truth about a desolate life and discovery, reintegrating, rebuilding and essentially healing ourselves with awareness that was provided because we got curious about all these posts.
I don’t care if only a couple out of a few hundred people realize that something happened 20 years ago is what’s affecting them now and dealing with it by being an adrenalin junkie to take their mind off it, they start to take the steps to rectify their reactions so they can put it down and stop patterns in their lives for themselves and their children. It doesn’t have to be an adrenalin junkie as well, they can be a heroin addict or an alcoholic. Addiction knows no boundaries when it comes to running away and numbing and they can all become uncontrollable to a life threatening level. As the 1st of the 12 steps says, “We admitted we were powerless over addiction–that our lives had become unmanageable.” that is what I want to bring awareness about, The powerlessness and un-manageability
I also want to recognize Recovery because recovery is possible, I am almost 10 months as of this writing myself and I have struggled with people that are close to me and with my own emotions and feelings. It’s those struggles that I am grateful for though because they are growth in hard situations, they are tools I can fall back on and say, ” You know, I can deal with that now because I’ve went through that before.” People are recovering everyday and new people are starting their recovery every day as well. We help each other cause as humans we’re not perfect and an addict knows this about another addict so he/she has empathy and compassion for the new comer because it helps their recovery as well.
My blog is about passion, empathy and honesty. What I write about is my journey and being vulnerable with that journey. It’s not attacking, blaming, condescending on others in anyway. I use only first names when I can, and when it comes to my family I can’t do that but I am only speaking my truth and healing myself, I am coming to terms with how I dealt with in the past and how I choose to heal now. I am learning to love myself as well as my family and friends from my heart and not my head.
What do you think when you hear of perfectionism? It makes me think of uptight moms that have perfect lives, It makes me think of celebrities that are flawless and it makes me think of Facebook with the sharing of pictures, people smiling, parties, traveling, all the posts about the new job and finding love. It’s not about the shameful life associated with perfectionism. I am a prisoner of perfectionism to some degree.
I didn’t grow up wanting to be perfect, I didn’t know what perfect was let alone hate or despair. I was innocent, care free and my hair could’ve look like a rats nest and I wouldn’t shudder at a thought about it. I don’t know when it actually took a hold of me but I do know it was when I was around ten years old. Growing up Mom and Dad would go out and at that stage in my life it never bothered me really cause I didn’t know better and they didn’t just leave me and my brothers alone by ourselves, they got babysitters. I still remember most of them but I don’t remember how old they were just old enough that they were able to look after us.
I do recall how much after a night out that my parents would stumble back in the house, argue, laugh, fight, dance. Their emotions would jump around erratically, I knew that this was not normal behavior when I was that young. I didn’t even know if my brothers were up to hear the arguing and bickering that I was witnessing. Everything would simmer in time, they would go to bed eventually and we would get up early like we’ve always done to watch cartoons or get to school. I know that what I had heard or witnessed was something I would never talk about outside the house because I didn’t know how people would receive me or my family. I kinda thought it was normal for every kid to go through behind closed doors at their house so that was another thing why I never talked about it. What I did know is that the longer I didn’t want to talk about, the easier it was to be quite, that we were a perfect house hold with normal difficulties.
Forwarding ahead a little more I was an adolescent and it was more apparent that I was well on my way with perfectionism. I had crushes in late grade school, early high school like Loretta that I had known since grade 2. I wanted to be presentable, I wanted to smell nice, I wanted to be cool enough to be liked. I had no idea how much of a little dork I was, young and impressionable with friend and their influences. It didn’t matter what was going on inside or at home, I just wanted to look flawless outside and I started to change myself by the way I dressed, the way I communicated, the way I walked and who I talked with. I was always the one that never quite made it to the cool people inner circle or picked first for games and I thought it was because I wasn’t smart enough, athletic enough or I wasn’t sophisticated enough. What ever it was I had a lot of changing to do still and because of all these feelings when I was younger I became and overachiever by any standards at my age now with all the dysfunctions behind it.
Early high school was about drastic changes and still dealing with the home issues, covering them up or not talking about them. That was really dysfunctional now that I think about it. I had seen my fair share of mom and dad fighting and the drinking got out of hand at times as well. This was early high school so I also started to indulge myself with alcohol cause I thought I was old enough. I had to know what the hype was about. The not talking about what I was going through was starting to take off on an upward direction. I didn’t want anyone to know what was going on at home at all while still trying to be cool at school. Still I thought this is what everyone was going through in their home.
I’ve lied before this point and knowing I took it to another level in my own little world with being perfect. Everything at home was going great! No fights, no over drinking, no sibling rivalry, we were the epitome of a perfect family because I loved my family. I still love them to this day and that has never changed but I lied about a lot of things I was ashamed of people knowing about us. I’m not saying it was so dysfunctional that I’m lucky to be out of that house hold alive. We of course had amazing times and heartfelt memories growing up but as we choose in being human, we remember memories, we choose to remember the low points, the heart-aches, the fights we witness and the ensuing brawls that happen. We weren’t perfect, we were normal because this stuff happens from time to time. Dads lose their jobs and moms lose their cool. (my dad never lost his job, I was just saying that it happens and my mom did lose her cool at times, who hasn’t, she raised three boys, she wasn’t a saint)
I was self indulged with being perfect. I was also drinking and these do not go together. I drank cause I wasn’t perfect and I wasn’t perfect cause I drank. I would think I was perfect because I was drunk though as retarded as that sounds. I drank to numb that perfectionism into me. I would also act like a piss head, I would argue, rant, rage, belittle, condescend, fight, lie, cheat, steal with my parents and brothers, family and friends. I pissed myself a few times, I woke up next to girls who I had no idea who they were, I fought with others. I was no better than my parents growing up. Sometimes when I would wake up the next morning I would go about like nothing had happened at all. Shame had its grip on me, shameful for all I did the night before that I could remember or didn’t remember. I woke up not knowing a lot of stuff I didn’t do and that became common, it was those black out drunks that were so common that I always started to wonder what I did and didn’t remember every time I drank. Shame and Perfectionism didn’t go hand in hand and I learned that if no one was as perfect as me then I had to shame them into being perfect like me.
Social Media was another tactic I used or learned from. I’m writing a story about that in a few weeks. What I can say is that there were pictures of good looking girls and guys all over Facebook, unrealistic versions of men and women that made me feel like I wasn’t good looking enough, like I was far from perfect. I would compensate this by new hair cuts, new clothes as often as I could, doing what ever was cool at the time and even copying friends that I knew that were cooler than me. If they said a word different I would do the same. I stole identities and tried to make them my own cause of this perfectionism.
I have done perfectionism for so damn long now that I don’t know what are my qualities and what aren’t. I know some are obviously mine like the way I smile, that’s just me and how I can be quiet at times because I get into my thoughts and take them to another level. I’m working on loving myself, being my own hero, looking in to he mirror and saying I’m good enough. I’m learning that I’m authentically unique to this world because I bring something no one else can – Me.
That brought a lot of shit to the table about my drinking as well. If I was too hungover I would dress myself presentable enough to make it to a liquor store to grab a bottle and straight back home to drink off my mood and feelings until I felt like I didn’t care how I looked which was really horrible I’m not gonna lie. My ex I had a daughter with took off on me with my child and that effected me a ton as well, I wasn’t good/perfect enough to be with. I had to be cool and buzzed enough to talk to women at the bar but by the time I had the liquid courage I needed I was already beyond drunk to act approachable. I had to know that a girl really liked me before I continued courting her and even then, my guard was always up. If she didn’t show any interests, I wasn’t going near her. Personally I have no idea how many girls were too shy to come up to me and talk cause they thought I was outta their league and vice versa.
By starting to love myself a little more, I realized I’m not the ugliest guy out there in public, in fact I’m pretty damn handsome. I always just down played it to myself saying I was only me, only Nathan, only insignificant ole Nathan that was like everybody else and in that way I was perfectly like the others around me. I still wasn’t perfect and I knew that, I’m always hiding behind filters and fake smiles in selfies on Facebook, I’m just like everyone else showing a side that doesn’t exist. The need to be perfect.
It wasn’t until I came out to everyone that I was 3 months clean and in recovery. I started started to tell people my vulnerabilities with drinking. How I lived in a mens shelter and that got me sober. How I went to treatment and started to share about how trauma and addiction went hand in hand and that you didn’t have to drink or drug to be have addictive qualities. I was becoming imperfect in ways and still holding on to core qualities about being perfect. I am starting to realize that by doing these things that are perfect in my head I am driving people away from me, if they can’t live up to being perfect in my eyes than I need to shame them into doing so or manipulate them. This has been an on coming epiphany in a slow way and I need to let go of this quality that is sooooo damaging to my character, that you can say is a defect of quality.
I held a lot away from what I wrote before and that won’t happen anymore, I’m not saying it wasn’t true I just withheld facts that didn’t make a story more impertinent to what it was about. With all being said you know I do want to acknowledge my parents because even though we were raised the way we were and we never went without food or a roof over our heads, we were always loved and brought up with morals and chivalry — open doors for others and respect woman. Our childhood was just what it was. I know they did the best to their knowledge and I would never take that away from them. Hell, they’re doing better than I am with my daughter. I still haven’t seen her in over 12 years so I’m doing worse. That maybe not entirely alright but I was dealt with a hand of cards and I can only play with what I was dealt with like my parents.
I am not perfect, I can’t love until I can learn to love myself first, I grieve for my daughter and I’ve also grieved for the alcohol I quite for a time. I burnt bridges and I use filters to hide the fact I’m not perfect. I hide behind texts and messages so people don’t hear the hurt in my voice at times, I don’t post that I am going through hard times in my life cause I’m afraid that people will think less of me. I’m even having doubts about publishing this piece online because people will ultimately think less of my recovery and it’s hurting right now as I write and proof read before let it go. These are some of the things I am going through in my recovery. It’s not all blue skies and smiles. It’s baring teeth and praying I’ll do better tomorrow and that I won’t drink today.
When we’re in recovery or even when were not, dealing with traumas from childhood or recent events, it’s a good time to find a support system cause it’s effective and needed for a successful outcome. These events can range from abuse, sexual abuse, grief, abandonment, guilt, scarcity but not limited to injuries, violence, health, neglect, distraught, shame, emotional pain, inter-generational, addiction, loss and esteem. There’s quit a few that can put us out. The first thing I want to say is anyone can experience these and fall in to
When asking an elder last summer when she was 17 and had quite drinking for a couple years, her story took a drastic turn when she said she had relapsed. I waited until she finished her story to ask two questions and I had to make sure I was the first. I asked, What was your reason for relapsing and what brought you back to the red road? She answered with, “I had no support system, back then there wasn’t much encouragement let alone fellowships or meetings to go to.” it was the olden days and information never spread fast or far (she was in her 80’s) She answered her second question by saying that she noticed that things were going to get messy if she hadn’t changed her ways so it was a realization on her part.
I looked at the figures of the treatment center I attended and for the past 2 years they had a success rate of 64% and I was in a class of 30 people at that point so 19 of us were gonna be alright. What about the rest?
Knowing your enemy helps tremendously and that enemy is addiction. Addiction of any sort and when people say that two obvious things come to mind, that is Alcohol & Drugs. those are just the main ones, there’s smoking, pornography, sex, gambling, adrenalin, manipulating people….. there’s so much more that can make our lives unmanageable out there. As I said earlier, Diane had no support and that was one of the main reasons she relapsed. Early in my recovery I knew already I needed people around me that were on the same page, I needed to make them see that I was determined and ready to kick my habit. My family was put through hell so to speak and I had played them so many times that I had to do this to a point that would make them believe me, that I was going to make an honest effort. I started with a counsellor from my band, she jumped on right away cause that’s what they do and that really helped me. I also stayed with Wellbriety and sort of fellowship that comes from an indigenous perspective, I’ve blogged about it a couple weeks ago. I found healthy relationships in sobriety that have been great friends that are awesome to turn to in a pinch, well most of them anyways but that’s how life is. When I got my family on board after my hit 3 months, they’ve been my biggest supports and advocators in my recovery helping in anyway they and I truly appreciate them with all my love. My friends whom really cared that I already had were coming out slowly but they were showing face and support, even the ones I never expected that were total dicks in high school they lent their ears and cheered me on. I haven’t had the opportunity to actually call AA because I know they have a 1-800 number however it is there if I really need it. Treatment at Round Lake is amazing place to go to, they use Native Culture and it really seems to stick with the Medicine Wheel teachings, smudging and sweats. Second stage recovery is also an amazing experience living communally with other recovering addicts, it has its challenges but it holds a safe environment to deal with everything.
These are what I did for my supports for my recovery, it doesn’t mean that yours will look the same, it doesn’t mean that your gonna go to treatment but you will need people that you trust and will call you on your shit. The best thing about this is the giving back what was so freely given to you, the opportunity to see and help someone else that needs this like you did. To see that transformation and witness the miracle of recovery right in front of your eyes. I’m gonna give a few links and numbers below.
This goes out to Sabrina, her children and family. I want to talk about grief and the idea of how traumatic it is see my cousin Sabrina left us suddenly 10 years ago tomorrow, doing what she knew best with a smile. She lived…. she was about her children, her family and looking for her own love in her life. She was my best friend and my cousin, and I miss her dearly, we all miss her that knew her.
The thing about grief is that if you really think about it, you have life and you have death. The world would be a little over crowded if we didn’t die. It’s so common that when we hear about it, we don’t bat an eye. That’s just how life is, that is until it happens to someone close to us and reality sets in and the world comes tumbling down. I don’t have words that would be able to explain how the hurt and the grief will lay upon you because for everyone it’s different. People grieve for the rest of their lives, people grieve for a year and some people don’t grieve at all. It’s just how people can be different. I have a cousin who’s 17 yr old boy passed away early last year and I see her Facebook and I sympathize for her wholeheartedly. I had to go through some grief with my daughter in a different way, the way that I knew she is alive still but was taken away from me 12 years ago and I had no idea that was a type of grief. It maybe different from my loving cousin and I’m not comparing but I can sympathize with her in a way at least. I give her all the credit in the world for how she chooses to deal with it cause at least it’s in a healthy way unlike how some people choose to grieve.
This is the point I’m really trying to make, traumatic events like sudden loss of a loved in can throw people in to an abyss of terminal despair and it’s in those events that you find comfort in a void that can never be filled by drugs, drinking, pills. It may not even look like that, it can look like an adrenaline junkie, shopping and over spending over your limits, taking unnecessary risk that takes your mind away from task or idea at hand. Take eating, people grieve by eating and a year later after trying to comfort themselves, filling their void with food, they become obese and even more ashamed, the spiral that feeds on itself over and over again.
We all have heard by some certain age, I don’t even know if they teach it in school these days, I never was taught when I was younger but through TV, reading, talking and over hearing that there are steps in grief, any type of grief out there. For the people that deal with death or grief by using or drinking is a very slippery slope. The chances of it exploding in their faces is surreal and scary. Trust me I’m one of those that has chosen to walk that road and its not laid in gold pavement and beauty but by treachery, trudging and falling. When my cousin Sabrina passed away I took 3 months off work around the time of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, I wasn’t working and I didn’t want to be around anyone and I had no idea how I got the money for all the booze I bought even but I made sure I was numb to the world around me. I had the games on TV and I sobered up enough for grief counselling once a week on Wednesdays but I was in a daze as soon as I got back. I hadn’t gone through anything like that with any other loss cause they were always family I really didn’t know and I was very luck to that point. When I finally stopped myself and told myself that, that was enough I didn’t know that I would come down with flu like symptoms for 9 hours straight, I was wearing sweats, snow gear and under 2 huge blankets still freezing and then it left just like that. I didn’t realize that was the power of just alcohol, I don’t want to imagine what drugs would cause but I bet it’s a lot worse.
I can only tell my story and let my cousin know that what she’ going through I have nothing but admiration for her and how she chooses to deal with her grief. I just needed to get this off my chest cause what I am going through in the next couple days are going to be hard, with my daughter added on that. Life of a recovering alcoholic isn’t all about butterflies, self realizations and epiphanies. They are hard work, awareness were their minds go and a choice that for the next 24 hours, we don’t pick up and we find out how to deal what ever we’re going through and be grateful for our life and the people we have in it right now and still love the people that left us too early.
I believe personally that in some ways trauma has brought us to the door of our addictions, It caused it and we needed to relieve it in our minds in some way…and that was through our addiction.
Let’s take a look at Grief for a second. A child loses her mother at the tender age of 7, not have the support she needs to deal with her grief because everyone else is torn from the same death, she’s left to fend for herself. Her father disconnects, her aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents are too far away and she starts acting out in school. There’s no addiction present but how she acts and reacts are clear indicators that something is truly wrong. Does this seem relevant? Does it seem like a movie? Like your childhood perhaps? just different age? When this girl reaches high school, everything is changing in her body from looks to hormones and shit gets real. She’s a typical teenager right? In a few minimal ways yes but this is the start cause she gets into drinking and smoking pot. The hook and bait is right there, she knows that it makes her feel good and different, she likes it and soon enough she’ll notice that she can do this when she feels traumatized, triggered or mad, she could do this anytime with anything and when she hits that point she starts into her progression. She’s baited and took the bite and now she’s gonna have a tug a war with her life. What ever she does or where ever this leads to, whether it’s recovery or a 6 foot deep bed is beyond what I want to say but that’s how trauma starts. It numbs feelings and emotions. We stop growing emotionally and hence we stunt our maturity.
Trauma constantly comes knocking on our doors by the sudden loss of a loved one (grief), When your significant other leaves you after 10 years (abandonment), when we believed we were not enough by our parents, siblings, family members growing up (scarcity) and when these triggers show up we act or react. There are more like these.
To heal these wounds, whether they’re inner child, childhood or something that happened yesterday, we need to find a way to acknowledge it right away and without running towards our addiction of choice so you can deal with it, you grow and mature emotionally.
I post about addiction but I also post about trauma that is the root cause of these addictions. Trauma work is hard, soooo hard but the reward is exponential to the life you are choosing to live, breaking patterns of inter-generational cycles and giving people around you the chance that it is possible for themselves, you are choosing to be a warrior in the face of adversity, lead by example and give back what was so freely given to you and love with empathy and compassion, new people in recovery give us hope that not all in this forsaken world is lost.
This idea isn’t old by any means, it’s been around since before 2004 for sure. We detox our bodies from toxic crap, we detox our lives from toxic people, places and things so detoxing Social Media should be on that list as well.
I was doing program today and the facilitator wanted to do a 2 month goal setting with a vision board. I hate vision boards because the magazines that are provided are all People Magazine, a cowboy one, Oprah, some nutty girl ones as well and so to find what we need is just not gonna happen. I improvised by printing stuff off the computer for specifics of what I needed and it got done. Anyways we began by watching some motivational speeches on YouTube done by Matthew Mcconaughey, Will Smith and Dwayne Johnson, you know people like that. I have a few personal favorites that I’ll add at the end cause they make sense to me and what I’m going through.
Getting back to the “Detoxing Social Media” that was one of my picks I was gonna do for the next 2 months and it sounded like an easy job, hell I can do that in a couple hours. Not only is that wrong because I’ve already started a few months ago and I’m still at it, that’s only Facebook. I want to detox my Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, Hotmail, My Personal Computer with Pictures, saved Bookmarks and other little bits as well as My Cell Phone Apps, Photos and Websites I’ve saved and bookmarked on it. That is a lot of crap to get rid of digitally and with the technology I own.
Compared to other people I maybe on the heavy side but a road to recovery would be “cleaning house” so everything that isn’t about growth, personal growth, idealism, ideology, belief, rebuilding, discovering, reintegrating…. has to go. All these things that I want my life to be about the journey I want it to look like needs to be found and introduced.
On the flip side I want to follow people that motivate me. Friends and Celebrities, other groups and pages that share and connect on a positive level. The quote by Eleanore Roosevelt that says “Great minds discuss Ideas; Average minds discuss Events; Small minds discuss People.” rings in my head, It’s these people like Eleanor Roosevelt, Brene Brown, Gabor Mate, Nelson Mandela and others that inspire me. Its imaginations that run ramped on a level that they came up with ideas, the blue prints for what we society have today. Someone imagined a metal object that would be able to cross oceans that became a plane, Someone else imagined a light source from a vacuumed glass cylinder that became the light bulb. A rap star that didn’t give up from the other side of the tracks and became one of the best rappers in the world – Eminem and he’s in recovery. Another person in recovery went to clown college and had a dream of doing stupid shit for people and became famous – Steve-O (Jack Ass) These guys inspire me to follow them and listen to their ideas, and all the while introduce my own to those around me.
What I embarked on in my 2 month goal setting is gonna take a little time but it will start to change me in ways like reading positive affirmations on a mirror in the morning. It’s rewiring the brain, it fires messages from one place to another but by using mindful meditation or CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) you take out the old route and establish a new route bypassing the old way of thinking. That was explained as easily as possible but its true, google has it.
If you have gotten this far in reading this article, I challenge you to detox your life and your social media and see where this leads you. I have seen some stuff that I possibly liked over ten years ago and shook my head in disbelief, I was young and naive and I am not who I was, not even 9 months ago. I bet you can say the same thing so little by little start cleaning up and have a little simplicity in a life that has so much information coming at you in every direction. Detox and feel good about your self.
Since I’ve gone to treatment I’ve had many Healthy Relationships (friends in sobriety) relapse. Numbers are out there and they’re not in our favor. Relapse happens whether you like to talk about it or not. Problems arise and people isolate, they dig themselves in that trench of shame, resentment, guilt etc… Hell I’ve even relapsed in the past.
I was seeing this girl that started back in 2005 and by 2006 in October we had a daughter. Was I ready? nope…. Was I scared? YES!! I was young as well. I was 23 and I was not equipped. I didn’t want to be the first out of our house hold of boys that would have a child but fate had other plans. I am not saying that I don’t love my daughter with all my heart, I was just young and scared. Back in 2007 things had gotten pretty bad between my girlfriend and I and we were fighting a lot. She was a nursing student that latched on to an emotionally unavailable person like myself and I was taking advantage of her willingness to help me and we forged our relationship on that basis. It wasn’t gonna work out without realizing a few key important things and they would never be resolved until later in life. It had gotten to the point that she was moving out for opportunities in schooling in Prince George, she obviously stopped because our daughter happened and I knew she wanted to get back to it. What I didn’t know was that it was her way out of this relationship. I had to do some drastic changes to better myself so I quite drinking and started to go to AA in the small town where I lived. She then moved to Richmond with my daughter giving me no say in the matter, I really had to step up in working in myself. The thing was I thought that if I quite drinking long enough for her to see I was making an effort, that she would come back with my daughter. That was the mistake in my sobriety at the time, we can all see it. I didn’t do it for “me”. She never came back and I never got to see my daughter again. I relapsed because I thought what was the point anyways? I don’t usually talk about my daughter because of all the shame, grief and abandonment that surrounds this whole idea of her. I was shameful that I couldn’t be a decent father, there was no manual and I felt like I was doing everything wrong. The abandonment was her mother taking her away so I felt it in a way I was left high and dry and that hurt considerably to my core. The grief I didn’t realize ’till I went to treatment was the not seeing my daughter again, 12 years and counting and I know how I dealt with it. I drank, I lashed out or silenced when her name came up to make people know I didn’t want to talk about it. I manipulated those around me to not speak about her or they would pay the consequences and that’s just not right, at the time its all I knew.
So I know how it feels like to relapse, its shame for those around thinking that I had turned my back on myself. Its unbelievable shame towards myself, its the pity pot that we dwell ourselves in, its just not a good feeling cause so much around it comes crashing down in an instance. I really feel for those that are going through it cause what it means, hope is lost in ourselves.
So if the numbers are against us in recovery than what can we do? We build numbers in support which includes healthy relationships, counseling, family encouragement, friend encouragement, bosses and work places that will encourage, Plan B for every outing we consider going to that would involve drinking or using around it, phone numbers, self talk, and what I use….Going back to the basics of why I quite in the first place. We have ample opportunities in giving ourselves a chance.
What about our ego/pride? This is a tricky one for myself because I hold on to a lot of pride, this would be a learning thing. Learn your not alone in your story, there are many like your story and many before you have come out on top. Fellowship is a great way to listen to others talk about what happened to them and how they dealt with their own. Learn that ego and pride will let your self down fast and by letting it go, your bettering your chances to be able to reach out for the help you need. Reach out even when it feels uncomfortable, I can not stress this one enough.
Those are a few that I can think of that are big ones and I felt the need to write about this because I have had people around me relapse. They cannot know that it ends like this and that there are options. Knowing what comes from the other side, I do not want this to happen. I was telling my buddy I have 9 months behind me and getting here was hard enough. I don’t think I’d ever come back out of that shame talk to myself. I would obviously but I don’t want to walk that road in my mind yet because I’m so stubborn that relapse is not an option, I ripped that page out a long time ago. I am grateful for the struggles in my journey cause they’ve taught me a lot and relapse is not a struggle, its a choice. I really feel for those around me that have to go down that road, it was their higher power that needed them to see that and that’s their journey they must take. life is a teaching lesson, we don’t learn my doing right all the time.
Lastly I have an article in my room that I’ve kept from the mens shelter early last summer. It reads Relapse is part of Addiction. For a time I believed this cause it teaches us. I was far from wrong….. It was a Wednesday that we graduated and parted from Round Lake treatment Center, a beautiful late summer afternoon in September with all the good byes and fare wells with other peers that we had shared so much with in our 6 week endeavor. We would call, text and Facebook each other if anything happened and remain friends for a long time. The stories we heard from each other, being vulnerable and open was a test that we all validated and shared with each other. My friend lasted 3 days and when I found out he had relapsed I was torn emotionally feeling like I was floating like a ghost, I didn’t matter and I didn’t want to be seen. My friend left behind their friends and family. This was tragic and uncomfortable for the rest of us because it brought out how real this addiction was, it was in our face and now we really knew the consequences. I pray for him and his circle all the time still and I pray for my fellow treatment friends everyday so they may walk the red road or get back on the red road to recovery. I don’t believe the article anymore, I took it down cause its false hope for people thinking one more time couldn’t hurt. It can change everything…..
The emotional stage of relapse is, perhaps, the trickiest of them all. Most people are unaware that it’s even happening. Emotions can lead the brain down paths of all too familiar triggers, which can lay the foundation for reverting back to drug or alcohol use. Some types of emotions to be aware of in this stage include:
Anxiety -overwhelming uncertainty or fear about your new, sober life
Anger – feelings of resentment that flare up whenever something doesn’t go exactly as you would like
Mood swings – having no control over how you feel
Sleeping patterns – insomnia, poor quality sleep; alternately, excessive sleeping, usually because of depression
Feelings of isolation or loneliness.
Changes in diet – eating as a response to emotional pain or stress; eating only fast food or junk; alternately, loss of appetite
Some of these may sound familiar and some may sound far fetched but I got these from some good sources. Today I am 283 days sober (9 months 8 days) and I’m damn sure I’ve been through all of these numerous times and others as well. I’m not sure if they are all there but I am not more special than the next person in recovery nor am I high on my britches. Every single person in their addiction has Emotional Relapses and I am glad I did a little research before I wrote about this because I thought they were Mental Relapses. Those little guys are the next step and if your sacred about your sobriety, they will jolt you back into reality going one way or the other.
I have a friend whom like us all has had his share of troubles and he seemed to me like a sensitive type of person that had life and situations bringing him down. I looked up to him for showing and sharing when he did so. It made something aware about him and to myself, about what was the underlying issue at hand. What I didn’t know was he was having these Emotional Relapses over people, places and things. I learn by being curious, patient and listening. What caught my curiosity was what led up and how it broke down in front of everyone. Now seeing this in myself, I’ve had many many emotional relapses. The 6 month mark for myself and others would agree, I had episodes of Anger. It wasn’t directed at anyone and I was aware thankfully that it had come up but why? Growing up I went to an anger counselor because I was pitiful and needed my own ass wiped all the time and if I didn’t get that I threw temper tantrums. They weren’t all like that but along the same lines. I was just angry all the time so I got fed up and I went to talk to someone. I learned about the onion and peeling it away, I learned that anger was a secondary emotion and there was always something just above the underlying issue. It was all those that I came to realize that it was what it was and it worked for a time in my life, after it showed up passively, then aggressively sometime later. No good right… not good at all. Why at 6 moths of being sober did I all of a sudden feel so angry and irritable. Those are trigger signs that I know, nothing was triggering me.
I was dealing with my own emotions and feelings for the very first time after 6 months of detoxing (sobriety) and It had finally caught up with me. What went through my head was how I was going to go through this new life I was creating for myself without drinking. I was already there, how was I doing it before. It was so weird to have an epiphany right there within myself that I wasn’t gonna actually run from it. No more numbing, no more lying for it, no more bullshit taking 7 to 8 swigs straight out of the vodka bottle and feeling it start to run through my body, consuming my thoughts, emotions and feelings and turning them into utter wasted time and space.
I guess I’m gonna talk about the anger issue, it sounds profound to me at this time but I will come back to this topic again.
So I was dealing with the fact that no matter what I did now, I had to face these anger issues…. this took me about two weeks and a lot of isolating, keeping my thoughts to myself from others around because the thought of them actually knowing what I thought about anything with my mind racing, fueled with hatred, scared the living shit out of me. No one goes through this, I must be the only one. I felt ashamed, I couldn’t tell my counselor or my life facilitator in the house here. I would for sure get kicked out of the recovery house. If I told my fellow roommates, they would think I was a mental defect and they would run the wolf pack on my ass out of the house. I was literally scared that I was having these feelings and I was alone with it. To be in this house was to be open and it wasn’t until my friend was having these emotional relapses and realizing what they were, I had finally got it.
It took for me to see someone else open up no matter what and realize that he was going through some tough stuff and that I was able to open up maybe not like him but open up nonetheless to someone I trusted and not feel like an idiot. That Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown would’ve helped tremendously as well but it would’ve been a couple more months before I bought it. Knowing that AGAIN I wasn’t the only person going through these things helped me get out of my 6 month slump and also knowing that if I had just reached out sooner, I could’ve avoided so much! hopping into my train wreck of a mind and finding out after I could’ve jumped off when it went over a bridge into the safety of the waters below.
Maybe if one person reads this before they have to go through what I went through, I could sleep a little better at night but all of our recoveries are our own. In all honesty I was going through some stuff today that I will talk about later as well but I haven’t learned what it meant yet, but this felt absolutely amazing to talk about this and get it off my chest. Thank you.
“In a 2011 study funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, Researchers found that, As far as the brain is concerned, physical pain and intense experiences of social rejection hurt in the same way. So when I define shame as an intensely “painful” experience, I’m not kidding.”
Brene Brown – Daring Greatly, pg 71
The saying “Sticks and Stones may break my bones but names will never harm me.” is first to have appeared in March 1862, ever since then our parents of their parents of their parents have said this to us when others have used hurtful, deceitful or shameful words to bring us down and make them feel superior. A bullying tactic of condescending nature to have power over us or to demean us into thinking we are lesser than. I’m 37 years old and far from prefect so I know and am willing to say that I have bullied before, I’ve also bullied unintentionally and have been bullied. I’m not perfect and I find solitude when I say that cause not everyone will own up to that.
So seeing from above that this type of shaming actually hurts the same as physically hitting someone can be surprising to most of us. To the rest we know it all to well and after such a thing we might resort to doing what we do best, We go find our addiction of choice and try to forget what we just went through. It breaks us little by little and deadens our senses of ever really growing, it actually stops us dead in our tracks of growing by drinking and using. By doing that, we stop growing emotionally because we numb by self medicating to get away from the hurt. We don’t learn from what happened, we look the other way and we stay the same age mentally while becoming child minded adults. Have you ever seen someone elderly who drank a lot act like a teenager when they react to situations? That’s what happens and knowing that now, it saddens me that, that had to happen in the first place. If only we knew then what we know now, no one would be saying that old saying from such a long time ago and we wouldn’t be saying it to our kids.
Growing up and being indigenous myself wasn’t all that far fetched from what others went through in ways. My little town that I grew up in was very split and you couldn’t get away from the fact that we were diverse, so racism wasn’t a huge deal, not to say that it didn’t pop now and then. I’ve been through it and I’ve done it to others. Again not proud of that and again not down playing my part in it either cause looked at what happened to Don Cherry (I will not be getting into that one, too big) it was an example.
Growing up I lived 5-6 hours away from my band or my reserve where most of my moms side of the family came from. It wasn’t to say that there were 2 reserves near by but I grew up off reserve and didn’t know much about the idea of living on a reserve and so my ideals were far different than that of say someone that lived on a reserve. I always seen myself as normal, like everyone else I grew up with, I didn’t see that being a little native boy was different than any other child around me, all I knew was that they were my friends and that’s all that mattered. One friend in particular that lived across town I could tell by thinking back, he thought the same thing however every time I went over to his place his mom treated me really different. I wasn’t allowed to spend the night, I was only allowed to come in as little as possible and even the way she spoke to me was different. (again no names cause It really doesn’t affect me anymore, never to say it ever did in the first place) Later I would find out that they thought they were upper class compared to who I was and where I lived but that never deterred my buddy and I from going out and having fun on adventures in our little town. I was young and didn’t know that was what people did to others and it wasn’t because I was naive, it was cause I was innocent and grew up thinking that everyone was the same. Its society and parents, influences like the news, the papers, people we think are outstanding citizens of the world that drill it over and over in our heads, they make us think that people that are different are bad. It happens so often now a days that we do it without realizing. That’s when we start condescending over people and call them names – shame them, belittle them, make them think lesser than who they really are. If you stuck a bunch of babies in a big enough crib who were innocent minded with different babies from all over the world, they wouldn’t know the difference, they would be happier than a pig in a play pen because of all the interaction they would receive from each other. We learn this “difference” from a young age from adults and influences around us and as we get older we are reiterated with it all around us from Facebook, Pictures, Schools, Work etc…
Learning that what we say hurts others in the same way as physically hitting them and that we learn differences from such a young age, we need to be vigilant about others in a way that it won’t shame them. Being mindful of how we interact with others around us in a healthy way is how I’m learning by living here in this recovery house I’m at. I constantly have to be self aware of the words I choose to use around others and I don’t have to coddle them because we all know how hard the world can be already but I can have some consideration for what I say and to whom. I still validate their feelings and get my point across. We can still be our own authentic selves because each one of us bring something unique to the world that only we, ourselves can offer to one another. I’m gonna end this with a quote from a movie because I loved it!! Gods of Egypt, don’t mistake the word “afterlife” by death but by just “life” and by being a good person with good intentions. <link below>
Horus, King of All Egypt: “From this moment on, the afterlife must be earned, not with gold, but by good deeds, compassion, and generosity. What we do– how we act– in this life matters.”
What goes through your head when you hear this word? It’s usually someone defending it, re-establishing it, building it or holding it. The definition of Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principals that you refuse to change.
When I was doing my thing, drinking and all that other stuff, I had very little to none. As expected I was not very honest with those around me and honest to those I loved. I was vindictive, manipulative, sneaky and very dishonest about a lot of things that were going on in my life. I lied to my parents all the time or I embellished the truth to a point I would believe my own lies cause I said them so much and so often. My friends paid a price as well because I did the same to them but they didn’t know me like my family did. Work was the same, I would call in because I was too hungover or drunk, still smelling like last nights party. I didn’t want to deal with anyone from that particular place and their same old bullshit that was on the agenda day in and day out, not figuring anything until later that most of the stuff was my own baggage that I brought. As long as I had a good time I was fine and enough money to cover my own costs. Last year when the Calgary Stampeders went to the Grey Cup and won I was blitzed, I didn’t even buy any booze and somehow I wasn’t able to go to work the next day. When I woke up I grabbed a full beer before I even made that call into work, slammed it back to make sure, if it was good in my head then it was good enough to me. I just was not a good person to myself and those around me the integrity was pretty much shot and the moral principals…what were those?
That’s when I came into recovery, I had none and I wanted it back, I had very little to hold onto to begin with and I was between a rock and a hard place. How was I supposed to get it back for myself?
Like I said in blogs before I dropped off the face of the earth for the first three months. I went to detox for four days which just re-iterated what I already thought of myself, I was a loser and had to do anything to get sober for the last time. I stopped talking to everyone that was a friend or family cause I had to focus all my energy into my thoughts, feelings, emotions, actions, directions and my integrity….. That was a huge one for me, in recovery being honest and upfront is what we strive for and we start working at it little by little, we crawl before we walk. Eventually we tell those we love what we did, or we tell our bosses that we were shitty employees but were willing to go to any length to get some dignity back. We stop and hope to hell that people will give us a chance, one more or the last one and sometimes we don’t even get those. Burned bridges and crappy roads are what we came from and there’s not enough wood or gravel to fix it. Even when some of us think all hope is lost we still trudge on cause we want something that we couldn’t offer ourselves to begin with. I was on a mission of my own and in the beginning it was lonely. I had to find my own support team and in the beginning it was Wellbriety, Stephanie (My best first friend in sobriety,) My counselor Phyllis, Ketso, the few other friends I had at the mens shelter and myself. The Process was slow.
I remember one of the first times I had to ask my dad for money because I needed cigarettes. My parents came to Prince George for a cousins birthday party a couple of months after I quite. It was a rainy day and I had to walk to meet him. He told me that he couldn’t keep doing this and I understood, he thought I was gonna go buy booze and before I would have. This was the lie for me before…. enough to get smokes and a bottle to ease that feeling for a little while. That wasn’t the case this time, I opened up to him instantly after seeing him, saying I had gone to detox and that I just didn’t want to drink anymore. I also said I didn’t want anyone to know anything yet, it was still nerve racking to me and my tail was still between my legs, I was scared and fragile from being in the spot light. He was exhilarated at the fact and gave me a huge hug that made me burst into tears, I got emotional and that to me was confusing. Another feeling I was not used to because of the pride I always carried, the pride I was shedding off now.
I was doing something but I still had to prove with time that I was being honest. That was me crawling before I was gonna walk. I’m only a little over 9 months sober but it feels like an eternity has passed since than. Reflecting to those days when my integrity was being built back up from slivers of shattered wood, It would start forming the foundation to go on building bridges from the charred remains they smouldered from. That smoke keeps me grounded from a past that eerily haunts me less and less everyday and that the integrity I have built this far is my identity now. I tend to keep on fortifying those bridges by being grateful for the struggles everyday because they are growth in my life and sobriety. My morals, principals and integrity are what I have and define my life and identity in who I am. I want someone to rely on me because I said I was going to do it rather than worry if I’m about to go get drunk and dismiss it altogether. I like the new me because he’s hopeful and reliable and has a lot more to offer.
Does anyone really know what the term “Lateral Violence” really means? I had no clue what it meant, I didn’t know that it was even a word let alone I was practicing it for god knows how long. It was last summer 2019 when I attended treatment and that word pop up on the projection screen. I take myself pretty serious and smart when it comes to words and the meanings behind them so when I seen those two words together I just split them and put the meaning together in my head. What I know “Lateral” is side ways or beside, in the vicinity. “Violence” would be to hit, kick, yell, slander, run your mouth a muck. What I got from Googling Lateral Violence was bullying, gossiping, manipulating, being vindictive, condescending down on others, finger pointing, back stabbing and shunning etc…. I hope you get the picture now.
This is not good by any means however in society we do this all the time without knowing we do. I still do it even though I know about it because I’ve practiced it for decades, in school, high school, work, at home, with friends, with peers, its mind boggling how much I did/do it. I did it so often before that when I realized and learned what it was, I began to put the brakes on it. I find the first thing that worked for me was to realize when I was involved in it. To be self aware and stop myself from doing it. That took a long time to begin because it was second hand nature and when I realized it, I was too far in it so It was a cross road. Do I keep going until its over and someone is hurt or do I stop it right there myself and split with me saying sorry to anyone involved? Every time I did realize I was in it I just stopped, apologized and left with my tail between my legs. I know how I felt and I didn’t want to feel that anymore. It was that feeling that helped me stop the fastest.
Going back to treatment I remember one day when I realized the power of confronting Lateral Violence head on and I will never forget it cause it involved a three way call with my A&D counselor up north. We (my treatment buddies) were doing an exercise and one of the counselors was really biting into one of the clients trying to get them to open up or whatever, I don’t really know cause my own counselor ended up grabbing me to do this meeting. I was on my way in her office to make the call and I thanked her for getting me out of that awkward situation and she asked me why I said that, I shouldn’t have said that to a counselor cause now I had to answer why! It took me a couple mins but I came up with, that seeing what was happening to my buddy reminded me of myself back in high school. I was timid, shy and teachers did that to me all the time so I was really uncomfortable with seeing that now, it was a reflection of my earlier self. As we settled in I was super duper excited to be talking with my counselor from up north because our relationship was awesome. I really trusted her so much and I could tell her anything without feeling exposed, she understood me and what I was going through. When the phone was ringing and ringing and ringing my excitedness died right there and it went to voicemail. I looked at my counselor in front of me and said it was alright, I knew she was busy all the time I called before, this would happen and I would always shrug it off. She stopped me right there and said “How does that make you feel?” I looked at her and basically told her that shes busy and I expected this and I felt neutral about it, no feelings no nothing just it happens all the time. We sat there for a couple mins cause she wanted this out of me. Finally because I wasn’t getting anywhere unless I spilled my feelings, I said that I was pissed off! it does happen all the time but this was a meeting call and it was super important to me and I haven’t talked to her in sooooo and that I missed her voice and to just be able to talk with her. I did the “I Feel” and to us in recovery this is a great validation tool for many reasons, it lets the other know and be accountable in a way. So I worked myself up for this phone call and was let down very hard.
My counselor in front of me talked to me on how lateral violence worked and how this was about to come out after if I didn’t confront my counselor from up north as soon as possible. I would be passive saying stuff like I know your busy and you must be running around like crazy up there at work, they have you doing a lot. Then after the phone call It would look like this. I would go to one of my treatment buddies and start telling them what a bi*chy move to miss a phone call that was set up for 9:30, She’s always not answering her phone, her integrity is sh*t, Stuff like that. My counselor in treatment said that I had to tell her the “I Feel” tool, how I felt about the situation of missing the phone call meeting and that it was important to me.
She picked up the phone and dialed once again and finally got through! I was beyond excited to here my counselors voice from up north. I knew what I had to do and I felt so uncomfortable thinking about doing it, it never gets to be comfortable letting others know how you feel when you’ve avoided these situations all your life but I knew it had to be done. I told my counselor over the open mic phone call on how her missing the call the first time made me feel and she responded the way I explained before. I knew what happened but I had gotten it out though and I had no reason beyond a doubt to talk about her behind her back anymore OR to begin with at all. I had stopped Lateral Violence in its tracks before it could make an appearance.
This wouldn’t be the first time or the last time that I would encounter Lateral Violence cause that little bi*ch pops its head up all the time, as soon as we know about it though and know what it means, we start to have a choice about the how it works and how were involved in it. It ruins peoples friendships/relationships and is just detrimental to a persons integrity and pride after it has its way. Its never a good thing to be involved in and I really hope you choose to be self aware that when your in it, that you get your self out as fast as possible by dismissing it and apologizing, even if it nips at your ego and you have to walk away a little less then you were, you can get that back later with time but at least you made a choice to stop Lateral Violence when you could.
During treatment when we were told about Lateral Violence, we were challenged to stop it of course but to try something that would be the opposite to lateral violence and that would be to practice lateral kindness. To me lateral kindness is so much easier and in ways its a forgotten practice in a way, chivalry. Open a door for someone, tell someone they’re beautiful, do the dishes for your spouse, make dinner for someone. Its just being kind towards others and being grateful for doing it.
Lastly I want to say because I’ve had these feelings before. That if it feels wrong to you, that’s instinct telling you and your probably not wrong about the feeling. Do unto others what you would want done unto you.
When I say this I personally hop that train into my head and over analyze stuff to a degree that it’s antagonizing and detrimental and it includes everyone and everything around me. A lot of people have heard the saying “The longest journey is from your head to your heart” and this could not be any truer. When we get up in our head we fathom up things and take those thoughts to another level, they cause anxiety and depression, scarcity and invulnerability. We build up walls to a point and they don’t come down, they get thicker and they are impenetrable.
In the house here I have a roommate that makes bannock and he’s told me that it’s by doing this, that its his “Self Care” tactic. His bannock is very good I have to admit. Everyone has there own ways in making bannock in the “bannock making world”, my auntie can attest to this because hers tastes and looks a little different but its has the texture of love within it. It’s an art that has taken time to perfect. I had this idea to make bannock myself as part of a lunch meal, this was after reading Brene Browns – Braving the Wilderness so I knew what was coming and even if I hadn’t, that feeling of scarcity would still be there. My roommate had gone to school for the week and I had gotten the recipe from my mother, I started doing my thing and was elbow deep in batter. After it was time to serve I had gathered everyone and told them that lunch was ready, I was the last to eat. I had to watch everyone’s reaction and hear feed back. I was nervous as hell, anything could’ve shattered my pride in those moments by saying it was too dry, too flat or over cooked…. they could’ve said that the color was off and it would’ve effected me (how would that even happen?) cause I put myself out there by making this for the first time in a while. It ended up a little flat to look at but it tasted great and by the way they loved it.
I had gotten into my head and I started to make up all these thoughts about how they could ruin me for that day by saying something…. anything! It wasn’t them at all, I realized after it was me that could’ve ruined my day, Why did I care in the first place, I made a heartfelt effort and followed the recipe to the word. During lunch I kept on saying stuff like; I haven’t made it in a long time, its my moms recipe I should’ve asked my auntie for hers (Probably not cause bannock making is a secret that people will keep secret in their heads for this exact point) I should’ve given myself more time. My head was turning and I was working myself up for nothing. That book I read helped me for this cause even though I was thinking all about this I marched on but it was still hard….
I also did this before I quite drinking as well, what will people think of me? Would they think I couldn’t handle my drinking anymore and I had to walk away with my tail between my legs. Truth was I couldn’t handle my drinking already for a long time and I just had to accept that fact for myself. When it happened I did feel that so I ran away where people didn’t know me and I was off the grid for at least three months while I started to heal my mind and body. I kept my Facebook up for appearance sake but no one knew where I was and I wanted it that way. My mind was very broken and it could’ve shattered easily from anything. I was always in my head about what people were thinking of me and it drove me deeper. I didn’t know anyone would give a hoot about what I was doing in that particular time. Later I would learn that they would’ve been encouraging and empathetic to me. Of course some of the other friends had their opinions and thinking about it now, I couldn’t care less, they didn’t affect me anyways. I was in charge of how I felt. I learned that I was the only person in this world that was in charge of me and I couldn’t control others feelings, that was up to them and their side of their street.
“Your Perception of me is a reflection of you, My reaction to you is an awareness to me” My friend from Treatment last summer posted that on his Facebook, I was having a bad day, I was stuck in my head and couldn’t shake how irritable I was. Nothing made sense and I couldn’t think of any way to grab myself up out of that hole. It wasn’t until I read that, that I was aware that I was in my head and what was happening had nothing to do with me in the first place. All day I put shameful thoughts in my head and all day I watered them and grew them until it was so unbearable it was starting to affect my roommates in the house and I didn’t want that so I isolated in my room. Everything happens for a reason and I learned a great deal in that struggle about how my mind worked, That’s why I always say “I am grateful for the struggles” or “I am grateful for the journey” because I/we do a lot of realizing and healing in those moments. Epiphanies happen and we become more aware of how we work without addiction and we grow a little more each day. If anything I want to grow a little more than the day before and if that day I don’t…. There’s always tomorrow.
Now speaking of that longest road between your head and your heart, for myself I understand I will always get in my head. I’ve become aware of that fact and I realize I need take a breathe. I stop, take a step back and focus on whats happening. I shift everything towards my heart cause I believe that’s where I did my step 4. My higher power lives within me and my creator only wants a relationship based on love with him, nothing more and nothing less. If I realize that I know that if I start to think with my heart, that my feelings, actions and emotions align with his and everything becomes simple and elegant with nothing more than truth in what I am dealing with. Compassion, Empathy and Love fill that void and what I’m dealing with becomes bearable.
Imagine losing to something you can’t see, touch or hear. You try and put a face to it or you try and find a name for it. When you don’t know what you don’t know it becomes pretty hard. You see there’s three kinds of scenarios when it comes to something like this. You know what you know, you know what you don’t know and lastly you don’t know what you don’t know. How and the hell do you decipher that? lets take the first one.
“You know what you know.” Personally, I know when I pick up a book called The Bible, that book will read about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. It will have scripture and stories about the good word and everything that pertains to leading a life in the glory of the lord. That was pretty easy because we know what we know. -Secondly.
“You know what you don’t know,” Now again I know to see E = mc2 (Einsteins Theory) but personally I don’t know the answer, that’s just a given. I maybe be smart in some ways but not smart to solve that. -Thirdly.
“You don’t know what you don’t know,” This is off the edge of the paper kind of a question into nothingness. What don’t I know that I don’t know? How would you not know to begin with? I have a couple examples. You meet a stranger and you do not know how that persons character is, are they gonna be overly nice or a complete asshole? How about what they take in their coffee or if they even drink coffee. That would be something you don’t know, what you don’t know-until you do know. That person has to tell you.
Given all the information that we think we know in this world, we don’t know a whole lot of jack sh*t compared to the stuff we don’t know and that number is excruciatingly humongous. (read that again slowly)
How does this all tie into fighting nothing and losing? Easy, When you don’t know your enemy enough or at all and it keeps winning, how are you supposed to fight back from a losing battle or situation?
This is the fight I was in…. When you turn a blind eye on something you can’t even see, you don’t think anything of it. Life keeps on ticking and you keep on living. Drinking from such a young age, I was oblivious to what was really happening cause what I was doing was awesome. I was young, I was naive and I was doing adult things. I thought I was anyways with an impressionable mind.
Growing up as a child I had these episodes of waking up in the middle of the night and forging for anything in the cupboards that sparked my taste buds. This isn’t that big of a deal I suppose cause it’s pretty small. I would grab pie fillings or chocolate chips my mom used for baking and pack them off to bed. I did it enough that my parents caught on and I would lie but they just knew that it was me. So what, it was sugar but I couldn’t get enough and nothing stopped me so I did this for years (I’m pretty sure that’s why I don’t eat candy and baked goods anymore) What I didn’t realize is that I had that tendency to grab what I could, fill my face up without thinking and lie about it. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I had that addictive personality when I was that young already cause I couldn’t help myself and I couldn’t wait.
I didn’t realize that my drinking was a progression throughout the years of my life. I did have real amazing moments like the birth of my daughter but I had really dismal ones as well and more often. The drinking started out once a weekend or once every two weekends, which when going to high school is normal, I so thought, (realize I grew up in normalized chaos.) I continued after high school and while I started working I was like a normal person having beers at the bar on Fridays. Well after a long while it wasn’t so fun anymore and I didn’t know my nemesis was taunting behind my back, right in front of my face. I was drinking my enemy and by the time the end was near to quitting, I was oblivious to what I was fighting. I had a feeling of worthlessness to a point that was unimaginable. In that last year of drinking I was Mentally defected, Emotionally unstable, Spiritually broken and Physically ill. It was only then that I realized what my true enemy was and that it had been right in front of my face the whole time, I couldn’t hide the fact anymore and It kept on dropping hints I didn’t want to see. I finally knew after 20 some years that I needed to stop cause where I was headed, it was cirrhosis of the liver, damage to the brain or death….. there was no in between and I had already isolated myself from everyone that cared about me.
Fighting an invisible enemy and losing is tough on the ego and your pride. To realize that you can overcome that enemy and turn your life around 180 degrees seems impossible but there are people that are living proof it can happen, you just got to want it at whatever cost. When you’ve hit your rock bottom and there’s no more digging downwards anymore and the only options are fight back or someone will finish where you bottomed out with another 6 feet to spare. You find what your made of, whether your resilient or you choose the ladder and let that “nothing” kill you.
Addicts in our addiction don’t like the “P” word, we understand “Now” and Don’t every say “No” cause that’s just unheard of. Growing up with two younger brothers I always had someone to boss around, that’s lightly putting it. Then something happened after a certain age…. They got bigger than me and I never saw that coming. I couldn’t just punch, push or yell at them cause they’d just ignore me or actually fight back…. it was weird so I had to devise another solution. That was patience, I didn’t do it willingly at first but I some how got the upper hand most of the times. We don’t do that anymore cause we grew up and I’m grateful for that and I’m truly grateful for my brothers, they are two of some of the most important people in my life right now among a few others.
Patience for an addict is an unruly word, we don’t have what it takes. I didn’t anyways, If I wanted something done and done right I did it myself. That was me in my teens and twenties, I couldn’t show people how to do things on their own cause I had already figured out a faster and better way. I would push them aside (literally sometimes) to get it done.
When I drank, I drank to dull me to the point that I just didn’t care. I had a saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, Try drinking a beer while you do it, You’ll be amazed at how much less you care.” I seen it somewhere so I adopted it because it was funny and it was true for me. I started to use that in everything I did and it was wrong of me. I can give you examples out my ass in my own life but I’m sure you get the picture already. Patience is practiced and not given.
In my early days of recovery I overwhelmed myself by trying to find a way to get to the other side. I didn’t know what that looked like, I just knew that the other side was better then where I was now in this particular moment. I thought I could get around it without doing much work but that’s not how it happens, it’s those struggles, those hard moments and times that you learn about your self a little more and they can hurt tremendously I know but they’re worth every hurt (trust me).
There is a starting point, a first step, a thought to begin with and then there’s patience in the work you do for yourself. For me that was one moment to the next, one step in front of the other, one day at a time. It’s in those crawl before you walk moments that you just have to trust the process, trust your self and just be aware. A structured routine is one of the first things I did and I didn’t sway very far cause that was scary, I surrounded my self around addiction when I lived downtown Prince George. Its what helped me cause rock bottom was right around the corner. So growing up knowing patience and later in life trying to apply that to my situation was like learning to ride a bike all over again…. but this wasn’t easy cause I had to rehabilitate my mind and my legs. I was a lost soul floating around in a hazy dream for so long that coming back to reality was unachievable but I’m proof that it can happen. it was even as little as 1% everyday, that 1% added up over the weeks then months, I still haven’t hit that year mark but its been adding up to almost 9 months now and the results are miraculous. I never thought in such a short time how much could be done. That old saying, “I wish I knew then, what I know now”, turns into “Imagine what I’ll know tomorrow” and I believe that. Just cause you don’t know what you don’t know, doesn’t mean your gonna just be in the dark about things. patience brings with them new ideas, new thoughts and new actions. What patience looks like for you is not what it looks like for anyone else as well. Everyone is in a different spot in their recovery and the same goes for me. I use this blog that started out as an idea to what it is now. Imagine what it will look like 6 months from now when I get to know a lot more about the stuff I write. It won’t look like it does now that’s for sure.
I just want to say one thing that I do tell a few others in recovery, especially in early recovery. Be gentle with your self, learn what self care is and what it’s not. For me it was reading a book, sewing, painting or shooting hoops. What its not, is pushing your self to the limits, criticizing your self for not doing it right or demanding better than that what you deserve. That would be best practiced patience right there. We’ve put our selves through so much, we’ve put everyone ahead of our own needs, Even though we did the “doing” it wasn’t like we didn’t care totally less about those around us all the time. Just when we were gone and away we used.
So in my early days of recovery I found a sort of meetings called “Wellbriety” and it changed my view of fellowship. I was introduced to it when I went to detox and it was a way to get out of detox if only for a couple hours. You see it takes a different perspective on AA, NA, CA and all those different types of Recovery Groups. This one is a Native or Indigenous view and reading the book “The Red Road to Wellbriety” is the equivalent to AA’s Bog Book. The meeting starts out with whom ever is facilitating it saying, “My Name is ______ and I am in Recovery” The reason to this is that we already know we have an addiction and we promptly admitted it. The term “Recovery” is a more positive aspect to healing. They can also read “The Daily Elders Meditations” pertaining to that particular day. They than explain that if woman are on their “moon time” they need not to smudge cause they are already doing a cleansing process that is far more greater than smudging, one thing as well, they are not to touch the smudging feather or sea shell. The meeting than goes into a smudging ceremony where each person can cleanse themselves with the help of the person holding the meeting. Everyone smudges different and there is there is no wrong way of doing it wrong. There are some pointers though that you can take into consideration and that would be to have your thoughts pure to healing, cleansing and understanding that this is ceremony and is sacred. After cleansing depending on which meeting you go into and there are varieties a simple one would be to start sharing… This to me is the cool part because not everyone is there just for alcoholism, they can be there for drug addiction, domestic violence, dual diagnoses, mental health, gambling, childhood trauma, inter-generational trauma etc……. It can involve anyone who wants to join so Indigenous and Non-Indigenous alike and the ages can range from couples, teens and elders. I believe Addiction has no barriers from one to another and each individual can help outside their addiction in some way and can learn from others stories. Sharing commences. Usually a meeting can last from an hour to two hours depending and ends with the Serenity Prayer.
There’s a book like I said called “Walking the Red Road to Wellbriety” and like the “Big Book” it explains, it teaches, it gives a little history behind this up and coming movement and gives some peoples stories. The one thing that really popped up in my mind about the whole issue was that Indians have noticed addiction long before the Big Book came out, like 200 years before and natives didn’t actually call it addictions but they knew there was a problem about liking certain things or situations to much and it would take their life in that different particular direction and out of their ancestry and moral values. The teachings were like the Big Book but they were passed orally and it was a movement that took the shape of a church called the shaker church. Interesting to say the least that Natives knew of this overwhelming experience before hand.
I know I am biased on what I am talking about here cause AA wasn’t so great to me in the past and I never knew my culture or traditions growing up so this was a sort of healing and bonding with those in a fellowship kind of way. I met one of my personal best friend through Wellbriety and I value her so much. It brings me peace and my higher power is my Creator. By doing this it has brought teachings of the sacred medicine wheel and how diverse those 4 parts actually are and the 4 distinguished parts represent our life. Below I will explain a little about how I was taught from an individual that was taught by Lee Brown himself which is a well known person for the work he does in regards to what I am healing about, A very knowledgeable person that I wish to learn from when I start to do my schooling in Merritt at NVIT (Nicola Valley Institute of Technology)
Here’s a little about the Medicine Wheel
The Medicine Wheel has been with us for a very very long time and it represents 4 different areas in our lives. There are many interpretations of animals and views within the 4 sacred sides but I am going to show you the way I was taught.
First we have the 4 colors that represent the 4 original races on earth. White (North) for Europeans, Red (East) for North American Indians, Yellow (South) for Asians and Black (West) (Dark blue sometimes depending on what Medicine Wheel your looking at) for African Natives.
Now each race what given a gift and a guardianship to possess, protect and share with the world.
The Europeans (North) were given the guardianship of Fire, Thomas Edison is white mans fire (The Light bulb) one of their contributions in the world. Their gift is is “Movement” and what that entails is they are allowed to move about the land (Medicine Wheel) to each and every part of the medicine wheel to fill in what needed to be filled.
The Native Indians (East) were given the guardianship of Earth, to grow foods(plants) almost everything grown came from north and south america, after the grown food was shared with the world there was a spike in humans around the world. They were given the gift of Vision, to see into the future and prophecies (Hopi people) Dreams and spiritual experiences, if we have special dreams they are for us and we don’t need to share them.
The Asians (South) had the guardianship of of Wind, the teachings of the sky and breathing techniques (yoga the science of breathe and breathing) they were given the gift of Time, to look forward and backward in time.
The Africans (West) were given the guardianship of Water, It was Dr. Charles Drew who was an African American that discovered blood plasma and it could be used to save lives, he may have looked white but his roots was African and their guardianship was Balance, to bring Balance to the world.
More of the Medicine Wheel entailed of how they were split up. North represented the White Buffalo, to face problems head on or goes head first into the storm and to rest and regenerate and Fire for the smudging ceremony and Winter.
West represented the Eagle which the eagle is closest to the creator and helps bring the message to the creator (why we use the eagle feather in a smudging ceremony) and it represents the Earth in a smudging ceremony(sage) it also represent Spring, new beginnings.
South represents the Mouse, the grounding and humility of how we should be. its the life (Smoke or Air in a smudging ceremony), Its the Summer, the growth, seeding and sun shining.
And the West represents the Bear, the strength in what we need, the Fall time, harvest and thanks, its protection courage and reason. Its the Water (the sea shell in the smudging ceremony)
I know this is quite a bit to read but its our traditions and culture and I hope you walk away with a little more knowledge knowing what I’ve told you. like I said there are many variations of the medicine wheel depending on where your from and all are true, this is only one of many.
When I started my journey, even before I gave a false sense that I “Truly” loved myself and nothing couldn’t break me I said to myself, “Yeah man, of course I love me, why wouldn’t I!!” or “No man, nothing can break this man! I’m solid!!!” You know where that got me? Up shit creek without a paddle, I couldn’t be more wrong and do you know what that did to me? Lets use a metaphor…. It was like a hitting a steel wall going as fast as Sonic the Hedgehog and thinking your able to bust through that MF and BAM you find out your normal! so I get hurt pretty bad.
In addiction you think you can numb that and get away with saying that kinda stuff but when you sober up it brings new meaning and it really hurt me in a huge way. The blow to my ego was massive.
I was doing an exercise with my fellow roommates in the Recovery House called Living Skills and we had to write a list of “Values” for 4 separate things in our life.
Spouse (I chose a friend: Stephanie)
Simple enough right? and it goes as such.
My life: Ketso Yoh for giving me a bed to sleep in when I couldn’t find any other place, Wellbriety, Transformations, Friends, My Counselor Phyllis, Round Lake Treatment Center, Recovery House, Book, Crafts, Sewing etc…..
Friend: Stephanie! Her kindness, Her Friendship, Her Honesty, The Inspiration she gives, Her openness when she talks with me or shares, even her troubles.
Family: Their Love, Their encouragement, their willingness to give me another chance, their support and their individuality.
Now I was able to read all that out loud to everyone for the exercise then I had to read what I wrote that I found Value in myself…….. I didn’t write down a single thing. I couldn’t actually think of anything that I thought I was valuable about or for in my life. I was stumped. Now it’s easy to write this down and say it through a blog and make you believe me….. but I am a man of always challenging myself to use different words, different meanings, to always do better and be proud of that. This recovery house was doing its job at breaking me down enough to start really looking at my core issues cause as much as I could’ve sat there and lied to everyone, I didn’t. My Honesty is apart of my recovery so I sat quite and told the life facilitator that I could not find “a word”, let alone others to describe myself that would be worthy or valuable. At this time another person at the table spoke up and asked me if I actually loved myself and I had to swallow whatever I had to swallow that was stuck in my throat and say no. That was weird and hard, so long story short I found the courage and put the pen to the paper and finished up the exercise by writing down what I thought people wanted to hear. >>DONE<<
I wasn’t actually done, not by a long shot. I came to this house to learn and grow and find myself. I happened to stumble on something that was key…. Loving My Self. I can’t just say it and make it go away. I’m not in a place to go to a liquor store and find a solution that way anymore. I had to face this problem head on and I had no idea where I was gonna start. I had faced a similar problem a couple weeks to a month earlier before by using a white board that we were provided in our rooms. I solved that problem by writing down how I was feeling on the board and viewed my feelings objectively. That worked so I thought I’d have to buy a bigger whiteboard cause I was gonna need the extra room and I started writing on it. Why I should love myself, What values I bring to anything, anyone and the table of life, Who am I about, its there to say good qualities about myself and to accept compliments among a variety of other things. I write new things when something comes up or needs to be put on. I add stuff that I recognize what I am doing to others or myself that is toxic. I walk past this board everyday and I look at it all the time, I force myself to look at it even when it hurts or when I’m struggling cause its helping me grow into a better person and that’s my challenge to myself now. Its basically one of my New Years Resolutions.
I’m not there yet, however I’m closer than I was before to loving myself and that’s happening more and more everyday and I am grateful for that. I don’t know how it or I will look when I learn to love myself wholeheartedly but I guess when people just love me for who I am, I’ll be that much closer.
Below is a look at my Whiteboard right now and it’s an idea you can use, I didn’t patented the idea, its just my story and how I’m dealing and growing, follow and do your story. ❤
New years is just around the corner and the inevitable question come to 99.99% of people around the globe. What is your New Years Resolutions going to be for the new year? I’ve really thought about this all day today and even talked with a friend, what he told me is something that hit hard up in the head. Why does it have to be that one day of the year? That one promise I will not try to break or lose sight of no matter what comes at me in 2020? Some are going to quite smoking, some are going to try and quite drinking and some will try and quite, quitting…… So why do we wait for that one time of the year to kick any habit and be someone different?
I have been thinking about some for myself cause I’ve already quite drinking and yet I haven’t quite smoking so people call me on that so I say is I don’t wanna give up one vice while attempting another to fall back on because I know I will eventually give up smoking in my own time. I had to grieve my drinking habit and if that sounds funny or odd, believe me its even weirder to say and think. I did grieve not being able to drink because it became my identity for 23 yrs and to give something that you were able to hide behind for so long is not an easy task, it is you. It became a crutch and a friend you could confide in. It would never tell my secrets because when I got drunk enough, I’d do it myself. So I did go through grief with it and that taught me a lot about who I was going to be.
Back to the resolutions bit. So thinking that someone has to wait for that one day and keep with it, it better be something worth it. Something that everyone will benefit from, not only you but everyone around you. I was thinking that for myself, I’ve quite drinking but I’m not done growing as a person. I want to keep growing throughout 2020, I want to humble myself to those around me, I want to be accountable of myself throughout the year and beyond. I want to help others and myself, I want, I want, I want….. I just want to be me but be better than I was the day before last, 366 days in a row this coming year (were leaping this year) and If I happen to slip at not being me, I won’t lose sight of what I want to be, because another day is coming, one day at a time. That’s how we get through addiction right? One day at a time, all we have to worry about is the next 24 hrs? even an hour at a time? Why not keep a good thing going and happens to be working for us. I’ve told people that thinking about the past leads to resentment and shame and looking to far into the future brings anxiety and fear. Staying in the present is a gift that we can live through our heart and for ourselves.
So I hope that if you make a resolution this year it benefits you and others around you, That you can keep on track with it for 366 days and that you will grow from your promise to yourself. If by chance you do slip, you realize that there’s another day coming and you can jump right back on it again cause your only going to hold your self back.
You can also try these if your stumped as well, they’re pretty good as well, but its also a good idea to quite your addiction, This blog is about “Serenity in Sobriety”
New Year’s Resolutions In 2020
Take control of the device that is stealing your time. …
I remember the moment, when the moment came as a feeling that I was done yet I waited one more week before I checked myself into Detox. That was one of the scariest feelings I’ve ever had to go through, sitting down with the clinician with only a back pack of my stuff, feeling broke and hard done by “How the fu*ck did I get myself here.” I would only spend 4 days in there and thank goodness they had sleeping pills because I would’ve never been able to get to sleep. When I walked in the actual room where others like me would be staying, my anxiety rose and nervousness set in. I kept thinking to myself over and over again what led me to this point in my life. I felt like I was such a disappointment to anyone I ever knew and everyone I ever met. I had a battle going on in myself that I couldn’t shake and the thought that I should just walk away from everything so no one would ever have to worry about me again. That’s what I did, I put the people that loved and cared about me through horrendous sh*t and made them worry about me. I don’t think about that anymore but I do remember cause it keeps me grounded and it keeps me accountable for what I will not do anymore. I met some people in detox that I still talk to and they’ve relapsed and I pray for them cause I know it’s not their fault, they’re sick and they’re just numbing the pain so they don’t have to feel anymore…. until the next day or the next hit and they do it all over again. I sympathize for them cause they don’t know any other way and I seen it in their faces in detox and when I lived at the mens shelter in Prince George.
In the mornings I would go for porridge and coffee at St Vincent on 2nd Ave lining up with everyone that lived near or on the street while “Normal” people of society would drive by on their way to work and think we were defects of life that should get our sh*t together so we wouldn’t litter the down town or take away from Prince George. I would eat my breakfast and drink my coffee when I finally got in after the line up that usually took 10-15 mins and watch everyone around me who were still high or drunk or coming down from a high with hurt in their eyes checking over their shoulders over and over again like a dog that’s been beaten one too many times. It was hard but I ended up staying in that area at the shelter for 5 months while I started to put myself back together little by little. It took everything that I had to stay sober while I unintentionally put myself in front of everyone else’s addiction. All I had to do was walk out that front door from the shelter and I was smack dab in the middle of it. People were shooting heroine across and just up the street. Others were drinking beside the building in the ally way. People all around were hustling and stealing to find and get their next fix. All of them looked lost, they were trying to find their serenity in all this chaos they were in. I knew what was happening all around me and I knew I didn’t want to end up like them cause even though I was a disappointment to everyone in my life, I didn’t want to dig myself further.
I started by getting into a routine, up early in the morning to watch the news so I could watch others problems rather than deal with my own, then I went to St. Vincent De Paul Society for breakfast until the library opened up where again I could watch people than deal with my own, I went to the library till lunch cause that’s where “normal” people were right? to read books and surf the net but I seen a lot of the downtown hero’s among everyone else trying to blend in. I did everything else that I could think of that would’ve been normal to stay sober, so walking, visiting, Dr appointments, counseling appointments, seeing the few people I considered friends around the shelter and just hung around with them if they weren’t drinking or using, seeing the few family members I thought would only talk to me in PG for the time being and Wellbriety’s on Tuesdays and Thursdays for meetings. My routine was basic and straight forward because it was only doing things to keep me from drinking and as the days went by they got easier. People were encouraging towards me and family members were OK by my presence, I wasn’t falling around drunk all the time or sneaking a drink here and there anymore, in short I was tolerable and I was getting back to being Nathan.
I do recall feeling a change in my sobriety when I managed to reach 3 months finally and the only way I could explain it is by being in a relationship with my recovery. There was a shift from struggling day to day and having to be aware about my mind at all times to being in a long terms relationship with recovery, so I was getting comfortable with the idea that I could look ahead further into the future without overwhelming myself and causing myself anxiety. I felt safe to start telling people around me that I had quit drinking and I had some time behind me, I became more open to the concept around this lifestyle I was pursuing and I was making “healthy” friends. Relationships that didn’t involve around drinking or me watching them using. That shift was a turning point and I was aware, where I haven’t realize anything like that before and it was a good feeling.
Those were the hardest days in the beginning where I had to be vigilant and aware about my surroundings, thoughts and actions because a lot could’ve taken me out in those early days. I am grateful for all the help from those around me and people believed in me when I couldn’t even believe in myself cause in no way I could’ve done alone. I am grateful for the struggles I had to go through cause they are the foundation that set me up to find something in me that I didn’t know I had in me all along. I’m still a newbie in recovery compared to the people I see everyday now but I’m grateful that I have time behind me and I can start to be of service to others that may need a little help in their journey. I always tell people that if they are serious about quitting themselves they will have to do the grunt work, they will have to find their support team, they will have to be vigilant and aware about themselves all the time and they will have to do it for themselves, that is key right there cause if not, they are wasting everyone’s time. That’s just the simple truth.
My name is Nathan Findlay and Welcome to my Blog. “Serenity in Sobriety” I chose to call it this because it represents what I am striving for in my life right now and it leaves it open for others to interpret what it may mean to them. “Peacefulness in an Addiction Free Life”. What is addiction though? We all know what society brands that term and words come up as; Druggies, Alcoholics, Homelessness, Thieves, Ungrateful, Vindictiveness, Manipulative, Unworthy, Untrusting people that make everything they touch worthless. What it means to me?…. its who I am. I am an addict, addicted to alcohol and it started to steal my life from me at young age. It separated my true self that I was supposed to be to someone that used alcohol to soothe and comfort my emotions and feelings while stealing my identity and everything that was about me. Don’t get me wrong I had some good times and great memories that involved and didn’t involve drinking like my daughters birth Oct 9th 2006 but leading up to her birth I was scared, young and drunk a lot of the time because I didn’t want to feel those feelings of being accountable for anyone but myself or having to grow up Mentally, Emotionally, Spiritually and Physically so to suppress them I drank to feel comforted and fill my emptiness with nothing basically.
In the long run I will be sharing more and more of my own stories and personal experiences throughout this blog but I want to touch on key points I believe in and that Addiction isn’t just about Drugs and Alcohol, Its about anything that has/had made our lives unmanageable and that we were powerless over it. and that its not just about addictions, its trauma in our life that started young or recently, it changes us for the worse and we forget what we should be as a human or ourselves. We lose direction and we act or react in unfavorable ways towards others. This blog is about my Vulnerability to be Open Hearted to anyone and everyone, To talk through my heart with passion and compassion without compromising Empathy for others.
What are distractions to us? Which are good and which are bad? Why do we do and how do we do? These are some valid concerns to how we distract ourselves and how some are good and some are bad. This topic I will be talking from an “I” perspective because I cannot speak for others and that is fair enough right? I’m going to say “right!”
I’ve noticed how I’ve used distractions in the past for mundane reasons to distract myself from what’s really going on for me. Examples like what’s going on for Joe Blow and what can I do to help him? As opposed to what’s going on for me, how can I help myself and what can I do right now (presence). I’ve also taken on more stuff that wasn’t my own and an example of that would be, why is this Joe guy pissed off? Maybe I can do something to cheer him up or take on what needs to be done (However that looks like).
Distractions come at me from every possible direction in life and how I was taught to deal with those distractions is eventually how I grew up dealing with everything to this day. When I first quite drinking and I took a bed at the men’s shelter, I didn’t want my life looking like what was all around me because I was already there and I already felt like a loser. I thought to myself that I could be stuck there and just use the system or I could take advantage of my situation and use those around me to encourage me to do better and not end up like them. (Horrible right? yeah but I didn’t want to dig any further).
What I did do was better myself however I started to distract myself with those around me by snooping around in their lives, their addictions and their choices. I wanted to fix them, I wanted to make them better rather than looking at myself cause of what was going on in my life. I didn’t want to look at me because I was already in a shelter, I had no money, I looked like crap and I didn’t want anyone I knew see me or know I was there.
That was how my life looked at that particular moment, I didn’t want to look at myself because that would entail looking at my truth and the truth in my life was what drove me to drinking so much to begin with as well as bits and pieces of unresolved trauma so I distracted myself anyway I could.
What does good distractions look like? They look like helping someone who actually needs it at that moment. Taking care of regular day to day things that needs to be done; laundry, errands, dropping your kids off at school, appointments etc.… yet I find myself getting distracted all the time. I started this yesterday and I know I picked up my phone a couple times to check Facebook, I went for a walk, I went for a smoke (I started smoking again blah) however without justifying what I did as distractions I can also say I was procrastinating and I read somewhere that to “Procrastinate” is not the doing nothing, but what is the particular feeling associated or behind why I am not doing what I’m supposed to be doing.
It’s that feeling associated with procrastinating that is stopping me. What was my feeling behind why I didn’t finish this yesterday? I know I could say that there is a ton of change happening in the recovery house right now and change is good, it’s not always easy to accept. I had something happen to me with someone else on Sunday and my mind was still comprehending what that was about and trying to just process that. I haven’t written a blog since about the middle of March and I’m scared that I’ve lost it or people won’t take me serious anymore. It’s been utter chaos since I’ve last written and so much change within me as well as around me. Hence the reason I would restart with “Distractions”
Procrastinating is one why we do, there are many others out there to name however I hope you get the picture. I just hope that the feeling behind those distractions are what your aware of when they happen. When we aren’t aware of these distractions we use, we become unwilling to change and this whole awareness is about growth within and about ourselves.
I also use the concept of “Knowing what we know, Knowing what we don’t know and Not knowing what we don’t know.” This as for myself, I did not know what I was distracting myself using techniques that I had learned from a child and perfected those techniques as I grew up. It took me to quit drinking and really look at my actions, my feelings, my thoughts and emotions to find this distracting behaviour and start addressing it.
Do you know how to stop this behavior? Learn grounding techniques, Be present in the moment, ask yourself throughout the day “How am I distracting myself?” I’m using my famous whiteboard and wrote that very thing down. You’re going to have to want this for yourself though and it only takes time and practice.
Thinking about my time in treatment I learned some valuable lessons about myself of how I was looking at life externally rather than within myself. Taking on others stuff and making them my own. Bringing me everywhere I went and not being present with what was actually going on around me. The biggest thing that caught my eye was that I was always saying that being “aware” was essential to my growth and yet I found the very things that were literally right in front of me, I was unaware of those aspects and this was very unsettling.
I’ve been chasing the very thing my blog is about, which is “Serenity in Sobriety” and I was contributing to the chaos that was enveloping everything in my life. The way I see what I want my life to be about is not to wonder through it aimlessly and nothing affects me cause even I have feelings about people, places and things. To go through life and not be effected by the very things that make life beautiful, even with hurt, sadness, grief, shame, abandonment, guilt and anger is missing puzzle pieces that would make a picture incomplete, they are a part of me and dismissing that is taking away from my identity.
It’s these things that made me struggle to get through some of the very things that gave me thicker skin which would be viewed as partly good and bad. They also made me hold on to resentments, put up walls to those closest around me and just made me be everywhere other than where I actually am, present in the now. I was living in the past and the future so much I forgot to live my life and recently living my life.
Going through treatment I was running away from what was going on in my life at the moment. It was needed though cause I was reverting to old patterns that had taken me out in the first place and I did meet some very special people that came to me as teachers. Hearing their stories, seeing they’re gifts in them gave me incentives to jump start my journey again.
Going to treatment again was something that was planned all along and coming out changed was inevitable because change in the universe is constant and growth is essential for my recovery. I learned that I had to let go of those tapes from my early childhood that kept on playing over and over again, I found an affirmation to help me with just that “It’s over, I survived” as well as looking inwards. I had to work on my Inner Child as well, learning to love and nurture the little guy inside and as well as letting myself be emotional at times of need.
I learned a lot and I’m making moves to model those very things slowly in my life cause it’s progress rather than perfection. The way I see it I want to move seamlessly through life using the very tools I have now at my disposal and not have to look back anymore cause they happened and I’m here right now. To live life on life’s terms, not my own and to be present and love. The phrase “I’m a Vulnerable Open-Hearted Man” comes to mind, a name that was chosen for me by one of my mentors Tom from Transformations. To use Healthy Boundaries, Vulnerability, To be Honest, Open and Willing, to be Present and look within and just live my life for me and not to make it difficult cause that’s what I tend to do.
These Blogs will get easier and easier as I switch to talking about the tasks at hand and just getting myself out there in the digital world.
Namaste: “the divine in me bows to the divine in you”