What I Have Learned So Far

I have fully realized that I am suffering from the disease of addiction and have accepted that and what it means to my life. I know there is a stigma attached when you share this with people and I desperately want to be part of the conversation to change that perception of ugliness -the stereotype that we are all “strung out losers.”  This disease has impaired my judgment in the past and is a disability that I will learn to live with by using NA as part of my recovery and coping skills.  If there is no cure for this disease and it is fatal, I have to face my own mortality and what it means.  I do not want to die, as I have said already, I want to learn how to fully LIVE again.  My unmanageable life is changing as I surrender to the God I believe in to take control of it and allow His will to be done and not mine.  This is an ego crush; I need to set my ego aside.  Since this disease runs in families, I want to break the cycle and set an example to my kids that there is a better life without the use of mind-altering substances; including alcohol.

Behaviors I have become self-aware of include my propensity to overreact to things, to internalize or personalize issues, to panic when it’s not warranted.  Also I see how my “helicopter-rescue-mom” persona interferes with others’ abilities to experience, grow and change.  I am learning how to reign this in and practicing not owning whatever does not belong to me in terms of problems, issues and circumstances.  I am also very aware of my lack of patience!  That is a virtue I never possessed and through my addiction it became worse as I struggled for “instant gratification.”  These things have affected me and my relationships with others and I seek to release myself from that behavior and try to be kind and supportive without interfering and patient with myself and others.  I don’t want to be a road rager like my mom was.  I can see my own pattern of thought in obsession; how I was focused on one thing only with tunnel vision and lost my ability to correctly prioritize my actions and my problems.  Nothing else mattered except that one thing; getting my next high.  I realize just how sick I am for thinking that way.  However, I refuse to see myself as having been or being weak any longer.  Our mom’s favorite expression was “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.”  She did not believe in weakness.  I once told her that my bootstraps were broken…she told me to get a new pair.

I am yielding control of my life to a higher power.  That doesn’t mean I cannot think for myself.  In prayer and meditation each morning, I put things in His hands for the day, and I pray for a good outcome.  My prayers usually get answered.  But other times, regardless of my prayers, I won’t necessarily get what I want.  This is because there is a learning and growing experience opportunity for me.  In my acting out behavior of addiction, I used to internalize the negative outcome, and in the realization that the consequences were bad, I would justify my bad behavior first, then get after myself for it.  How screwed up is that?  But I’ve come to understand that all of us addicts do this.  To get rid of negativity in my mind or heart, I practice that 3-D thing I talked about.  I distract myself instantly with something else -any other thought or activity; then I delay thinking about the negative issue, then later I decide how to respond (DBT Skills Workbook, CH 5).  I have also learned that following a schedule is invaluable to me.  Getting up on time, making my bed, practicing mindfulness through meditation, yoga and prayer time, get my shower or bath, get ready for work, make coffee and breakfast snack, plus lunch to take and go to work!  Then at night, come home and get comfortable, make dinner, work on Step work and journal, get ready for bed, set alarm and lights out by 10.

There is so much I missed out on by being high and wallowing in my selfishness, grief and self-pity. I don’t want to waste any more of my life.  Going to the meetings helps me realize more and more about myself.  I am going to get one started in my hometown for sure NO LATER THAN first week in January.

I use a lot of TO-DO lists. I say my affirmations list each morning. I write a gratitude list as often as I can. I read my self-forgiveness list, and my Forgiveness of Others list. I know that my addiction is bad enough for me, and not to compare mine to anyone else’s. I have a list of things to work on, such as anger management (I have never really lost my temper in my life), sex issues (not allowing myself to continue perpetrating those old behaviors of using sex as a weapon or tool of manipulation to get what I want. Learning not to care what others think about me is a biggie.  Learning to set boundaries and how to stand up for myself is another biggie, especially because I work with a woman who has bullied me for the last several years.  I cannot control how others behave toward me, therefore I cannot control the pain of feeling: abandoned, ashamed, rejected, passed over, left out, jealous, or rejected. I have to sit with my feelings, acknowledge them, then instruct them to leave. I accept responsibility for my life and my actions. I will not become complacent or ignore the reservations I may be holding about my recovery, nor ignore the resentments I may be holding.  Time to let it all go.  Remember in “The Wizard of Oz” when the witch writes “Surrender Dorothy?”  I now believe there was a subliminal message there.  Honesty, willingness and open-mindedness…I am ready to move on in my recovery.  I only wish whomever is reading this, would be willing to share what they feel too.

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