It’s has been my experience the longer I stay sober the more I gain insight on my life. For example I can now look back and realize so moments in my life that may have contributed to my excessive drinking. Furthermore, addiction is that weird little gift that, without it, I would not have clarity today.
It took years for the dust to clear from my all my consequences created by my insane choices I made in my disease. In fact there is still a cloud of dust that slowly is set to settle. However for the most part, I don’t know if my life is “back-on-track” but it certainly is going in the right direction (i think).
Part of this “recovery-journey” is finding out who I am. I used for over 20 years, and when I got sober I wasn’t the same person. It was exciting to look into myself for identity while at the same time challenging.
I feel like I am striving daily to get to a point in my life, that which I may already be at. I don’t want to spend my life “in search of” meaning. I don’t want to work like crazy, “for someday to have the perfect bank account.” I don’t want to dream about a day “that I can finally get my family everything they want.”
I want to enjoy life today, not in 5, 10, 15 years. I don’t need to go hike a mountain to realize I’m here to help others. I don’t need to “tap-into” my inner-deep self to realize the potential I have, when I understand that my story isn’t special. I don’t have to waste anymore time, finding myself, when I know I’m a husband, father, son, brother and friend. And today, that is all I need to be……for now
There was a time I would literally quit my job the morning of the opening games of March Madness. I would explain to my boss exactly why I was quitting. However the games were just an excuse to drink during the day and gamble money I didn’t have, while my wife was as work. A lot of that had to do with me just growing up, but I know today it was fueled by my addiction. You know how I know? Because today, I don’t even like sports.
You can now add sports to the ever growing list of things I can’t stand to do, now that I’m sober. I use to block out entire weekends, cancel birthday dinners for my parents, and watch sports news 24/7. I use to put so much time, effort and commitment to a sport or game that it became so overwhelming as if I was the one playing.
The first two years of sobriety I stopped watching sports completely. I figured since I was emotionally invested in my teams that it would not be good for my recovery. However when I started to watch and keep up again, I quickly realized that spending a good part of my weekend following a team is not very healthy and a waste of time.
I still do watch part of a big game here and there. However I can’t remember when the last time I sat and watched a complete game from start to finish, not even the Super Bowl.
So am I going to fill out a bracket this year? I work at treatment center so no office pools for sure there. A buddy asked me to join his bracket though. My thoughts, well if I get around to it…
The topic in 2014 that taking “selfies” is a metal disorder, which turned out to be a hoax, is back in the search engines once again.
Reports from uncreditable websites turned up a 50/50 result as far as selfie’s or “selfitis”, which is said to be the “official mental disorder” term, showing about half of the sites say it is a disorder, the other half say that the articles are not real. To be clear, these low-end websites are not arguing the point that “selfitis” is real, however arguing the point that their counter low-end website is spreading fake news. So after a brief click on the American Psychiatric Association website, I found no articles or evidence backing the claim that taking selfies is an official mental disorder.
So what do you think, are selfies a mental disorder, or just healthy fun that has become apart of our American culture?
On a good day, the “racing thoughts” come and go. On a bad day, they marinate a narrative in my mind that tell me I’m not good enough, smart enough, or I should be doing more. For me, that leads to some general anxiety and depression. When I’m in that spot in my head, there is nothing that can change the feeling. It’s just bad place for me to be in, and I know this today.
“It’s like my dopamine is firing blanks.”
The “clicks” on social media or purchases on Amazon don’t work anymore or bring little shots of joy. It’s like my dopamine is firing blanks. The only choice I have is to sit with the emotions. Or, take action.
Here are few things I do when I’m stuck in my head. I would like to add that alcohol and drugs are no longer an option for me to solve my emotional issues. That’s amazing. But I’m still left with myself, minus my number one coping skill. I once read, “You can make the leaves fall off the tree by shaking it, but the leaves will grow back, unless you get to the root.”
Gratitude List. So I am five years sober, and just started practicing writing down a list of what I am grateful for. I always advise my clients and sober peers to write a gratitude list, but never have practiced myself. However when I wrote one last week, I felt better. I started with everything that I felt was wrong with my life. Then I wrote what I’m grateful for, then I wrote how I felt at that very moment and how silly my thoughts had seemed now that I was grateful.
Thoughts are just thoughts. I heard in a meeting, “the voices in your head is not your higher power, it’s your Schizophrenia.” That made so much sense to me! This disease of addiction is truly originated in the mind. My best decisions listening to myself got me into treatment and other unhealthy situations and places. So, on a good day, the thoughts come, and let them ride right through.
Take Action. There is nothing like taking physical action and doing something to get myself out of my head. It can be taking out the trash or blogging. If I get out of my own way, and do something productive no matter how small or big, it makes me feel better and calm my mind.
Sit with your emotions. This one is tricky but I love practicing. I could have never done this is early sobriety or the first few years at that matter. But when I am able to sit with the feeling and emotions that my thoughts are causing, I can let them pass or I can dig deep and search for the root of why the thoughts are making me feel a certain way. It’s more like mediation, but when you are in the middle of a meeting or in front of large crowds, it’s a little hard to meditate.
I would love to hear your thoughts..lol..and some things you do to quite the noise in your head.
I use to be the “guy” who never missed a game no matter what. Some of it was a true and innocent passion for the “big-game” storylines and hype, while a big part of it was an excuse to drink and use. When I got sober, I stopped watching sports for the first 2 years for several reasons. First, I associated watching sports with using and drinking, second I couldn’t handle the emotional rollercoaster ride of my team barley squeezing out a win, or not winning at all. Third I didn’t like they way sports controlled me as far contributing 3 to 6 hours of watching any random day. Even though I haven’t watched a complete NFL game the entire season, (thank goodness), and my favorite team was completely horrible, (not the Browns), it doesn’t take a “super-fan” to realize what Super Bowl Fifty-two, (I think?), is all about.
The number one storyline going into the “Big-Game” this Sunday is, Who do you hate more, Tom Brady or Eagle Fans? It’s really that simple. For me, I’m a Brady fan. If the Patriots win, to me Tom will be the best-ever, (whatever that means!). I like Carson Wentz, because I broadcasted one his game while he was in North Dakota State as my university played against him, and lost against him FYI. I know Wentz isn’t playing, however through recovery it’s important for me not to take this game to seriously, no matter who wins.
Here’s my logic. If I truly believe in and accepted Step 1, then I will do things throughout my day to help my stay sober. A person like me, can not afford to get emotionally invested in something so meaningless, like the Super Bowl. I can’t watch with a bunch of people who are drinking, or skip a meeting to watch. I can’t argue about a player, team or game. Other people can, I can’t. Reason being my old coping skill for handling uncomfortable emotions was drinking. Even though this will be my fifth sober Super Bowl, and I have new kick-ass skills to deal or sit with my emotions, I’d rather not test my sobriety, no need to.
If you are concerned watching the Super Bowl because you are on “day 1,” or maybe “year 10” here is a few things to make sure you wake up sober the following Monday.
Host. You can’t control what other people do at their house, but you can control the invite list and the “no alcohol” rule at your own.
If you absolutely must attend, maybe your up for that promotion at work and your boss invited you to his Super Bowl Party that’s is suppose to be epic, (which I would strongly suggest don’t go even if you don’t get that promotion), go with someone that is in recovery and have an escape plan if things get uncomfortable. “My neighbor called, and my dog jumped the fence or my house is on fire,” whatever works best!
Go to your local recovery club or treatment center, someone will be hosting.
Watch by yourself. That’s what I love to do. Pull out the old social media account and start analyzing every play from you smart phone, that will get the conversation going so you are not completely by yourself!
My favorite, go to a meeting, don’t watch or DVR it for later.
No matter what you choose, remember this is not about Tom Brady or the Eagles, this about our recovery and staying sober.
It’s hard to give an exact definition to the word “recovery” in an addiction context. But through my experience I’ve learned this:
“Recovery is the way you react, in those private little moments, when no one is looking.”
However, when someone is on day 1, that quote doesn’t mean much. So I interviewed Dr. Dean Robb and he specializes in helping people discover “who they really are” once they are stable enough in recovery. We discuss, the purpose of recovery as well as try to define it.
If you would like to contribute to the Keeping it Sober Podcast, you contact Jaime at email@example.com
I was talking with a friend in recovery the other day and she said one of her biggest challenges in early recovery was breaking-up with her drug dealing boyfriend but still texting him because in addiction, she didn’t know who was a friend or not. She went on to say the line that was crossed from friend to drug dealer to boyfriend was completely blurred.
I thought about early recovery for me. After the first 90 days, I started to decipher who was a friend, who did I consider family and who hung out with me just to use. And it was confusing. It took over 4 years to learn about which relationships was real and which was not. So I completely understood what my friend went through, and I would like to offer this.
Relationships are complicated, duh! They take work and effort over time, sometimes months or even years. One of the keys to relationships is self-disclosure. The first date your just feeling each other out, the second divulge a little more, maybe your Houston Texans fan, (sorry if you are lol..) and third date and so on begin to share little memories. Like the place you went to your first date, or watching the game together. Then slowly you start to disclose personal information. Maybe about your family, or something your passionate about like recovery. But all this happens over time. But in addiction, this process can happen in one night. Now you may say, well drugs and alcohol were involved so its not legit, but is it? Drugs and alcohol surely speed the process, but the emotions and disclosure are still there. You made a memory staying up all night, where in which you disclosed personal information and promised to see each other again, because he “understands you!” Then you get in early recovery. And you completely confused on what to do.
Let’s start here, everything is not communication, therefor everything is not always a relationship. They are 3 type of general relationships, and I’m going to talk about one of them, which is role relationships. These are people we see throughout our day that we have minimal interaction with and they can be interchangeable. For example, the person at the gas station. You hand them money, they give you chips and soda, maybe a “have a nice day,” and you go about your day. The person behind counter can change the next day just like every customer changes. That’s a role relationship. In addiction, it’s our drug dealers, bartenders and so-called friends we use with. It’s important to identify these types of relationship so in early recovery we can quickly discard them. We feel like we have this special bond to our drug dealer or bartender, but we don’t. They have other people just like us to serve or deal too. So if you are new in recovery or know someone who is, when they are confused about who is a boyfriend or friend and who is not, kick a little “role relationships” to them, and help them delete the unhealthy relationships and Facebook friends!!!
One of the most challenging obstacle I faced in early recovery was ending my life time friendships. It was also frustrating to determine who was my real friend or n0t. However once I realized ending my friendships had to be done in order for me to not drink or use anymore the feeling of abandoning the people I grew up with a little better.
So for me, I changed my number and stopped hanging out at places where my friends would hang out regular basis. But this resulted in some lonely boring nights and home by myself that was actually just as bad as hanging out with the old gang. But I did, I made it through and eventually friends stopped looking for me and in time I made new friends and healthy relationships. But it wasn’t until a few months ago, I came across an article that I think would of really helped me out back then when ending my relationships.
The article is called “Letting Go of a Relationship with Gratitude,” and was written by Suzanne Degges-White Ph.D. In the article, she states that if you are going to end a friendship, you can do it a healthy manner. Dr. White also states that out of every friendship, you can pull positives even out of negative relationships.
Dr. White explains that all allow ourselves some type of “humiliation and pain” while we are gaining acceptance in a group. But in friendships, this can lead to “resentments” against the other person. And if we apply this concept to our addiction and recovery, we all know that resentments are our “number-one killer,” it was it comes to relapse.
Dr. White goes on to explain that creating a “Gratitude Review” can allow you to end relationships and learn from them as well.
Here are two things I want to leave you with:
Here is the link to the “Letting Go of a Relationship with Gratitude,” article, please feel free to comment how you challenge or confirm the content.
2. Here is the link to a Relationship Survey, that I think you might find interesting, and it is completely anonymous. The reason for the survey is for a Thesis paper I am working on so it would be greatly appreciated if you take it!