Feeding My Brain


My addiction feeds off negativity.  It feeds off my own negativity, your negativity, the negativity prevalent in the world, any type of negativity will do.  One of my jobs as a recovering addict is to find a way to keep enough positives going in my mind and life to counteract the negativity.  Let me tell you, it is not an easy job!

I’ve begun doing a prayer/meditation in the morning to make sure I start my day with a positive frame of mind.  I realize that often I get up, smoke, drink coffee, get on the computer and take no time to connect with my higher powers, including my higher self.

I’ve begun being more attentive to what I read and watch on television.  If I feed myself negativity all day, negativity is what I’m going to get.

I got a great book from the library called “Cries of the Spirit, A Celebration of Women’s Spirituality.”  It’s full of poems and short essays that feed my brain and my spirit in a way that I realize I need on a daily basis.  Here’s one of my favorites:

October (excerpt)  Audre Lorde

Seboulisa, mother of power

keeper of birds

fat and beautiful

give me the strenth of your eyes

ro remember

what I have learned

help me to attend with passion

these tasks at hand for doing.


Carry my heart to some shore

that my feet will not shatter

do not let me pass away

before I have a name

for this tree

under which I am lying.

Do not let me die


needing to be stranger.


Thank you for visiting Eclectic Recovery.


Simple. Right.


There’s nothing simple about an addict staying clean and sober.  As usual, I’m finding myself hitting the wall here at the 3-4 month mark.  I haven’t had a drink or used any drugs, except my nicotine and caffeine, but I certainly understand why I have so many times in the past.

I can get sober all day long.  Done it a thousand times.  It’s the staying sober that has me stumped and it’s the staying sober that I’m determined to finally get right.

I have co-occuring disorders:  anxiety and depression.  I’ve had clinical depression for most of my life and I’ve come to accept that I’m one of those people who will have to be on medication for it for the rest of my life.  It seems to be about this time in sobriety when these issues begin to raise their ugly heads again and I find myself beginning to fold in on myself.  I reach a place where I don’t feel connected to anything; it feels like nothing is working in my mind and body; I withdraw, and usually drink.  Usually also around this time something physical pops up.  This time it’s bursitis in my hips.  Hurts like hell, especially when on my feet solid for 8 hours at a stretch.

I’m working very hard to stay connected to all my supports.  Self-care seems to be the most difficult thing to keep in place when I’m in a bad mental state.  I drink too much coffee, smoke too many cigarettes, don’t want to prepare healthy meals, don’t want to exercise, and don’t want to socialize.  A medication adjustment seems to be helping now.  But somehow I managed to continue to attend meetings, participate on my on-line lists, do my weekly recovery inventory, eat as healthily as I could, and even exercise through the physical and mental pain.  Coming out the other side sober feels like a gift more than something I worked very hard for.

I hope to be writing here more as things continue to improve, which I’m very hopeful they will. 

Thank you for visiting Eclectic Recovery.

The Addictive Voice


Well, as I knew it eventually would, my addictive voice, the voice in my head that tells me the answer for my problems is to use, came back.  It wanted a drink.

Work stresses, physical pain and that weird state of suspended animation I fall into where I feel I can’t really connect with anything, least of all myself, were the culprits.  The voice said, “You know how to make this all go away.  You know what will calm you and soothe your spirit and help you breathe again.  Just a few sips and all the world will be right.  A few sips could barely be called a slip.”

Oh, it was whispering its sweet nothings in my ear, attempting to seduce, promising relief from pain and care.  The usual hook.

I didn’t give in.  As a matter of fact I was never even very close to giving in to it because I’ve gotten real about the disease I have.  A lot of people don’t like that term, but if diabetes is a disease, even though it’s just as much a “choice” when the diabetic lifts the cupcake to their mouth as when the alcoholic lifts the drink, then alcoholism/addiction is a disease just as well.  But you don’t here people arguing about whether or not diabetes is a disease or a choice.  It’s a disease brought about by a predisposition of the body AND choice.  Everyone accepts that.  No problem.  In the case of Type I diabetes, there’s no choice involved at all and I think alcoholism/addiction is much the same.  For some there is no choice at all, and for some their choices will eventually lead to the manifestation of the disease process.  And for some, diabetes nor alcoholism/addiction will EVER happen even though they continually make the same poor choices as the diabetic and the alcoholic.  Their bodies are not predisposed.

I don’t know.  It seems fairly simple and straightforward to me now that I’ve re-educated myself.  We like to make things complicated.

When I see my disease for what it is:  chronic, progressive, and fatal if left untreated, without all the bullshit about a morally defective character, then I can begin to make informed, good choices.  Then I can hear the addictive voice for what it is:  a dying part of the disease that is being treated.  The treatment?  Don’t drink or use no matter what.  Simple.

Thank you for visiting Eclectic Recovery.



Peer-to-Peer Support


Peer to peer support may not be essential for everyone trying to get and stay sober, but for me, and I think for most, it is a very important aspect of maintaining sobriety.  It seems to be one of the things that’s most helpful about AA for people who are able to use that program.  It was vital in helping me attain six year’s of sobriety in the early 90’s and it’s invaluable as I move forward in my new recovery.

What makes good peer-to-peer support?  First, you must be able to relate to your peers.  For many of us, that makes AA basically useless for the purpose.  True, as addicts trying to recover, we can all relate to the misery and hopelessness that the addiction creates in our lives.  But what about relating to the new lives we’re trying to build?  Is it helpful for someone who doesn’t believe in a higher power to be told to memorize christian-oriented prayers?  Is it helpful for people who have never developed a healthy ego to be told to focus on character defects as a means to sobriety?

It amazes me that people are still being told that AA is THE way.  It amazes me how many times I have been shut out, told I’m in denial, and been offered absolutely nothing else that might be helpful.  If an addict seeking recovery says AA doesn’t work for them, they should be listened to and helped in finding what will work.  No wonder so many give up before they’ve even gotten started.

There are viable alternatives out there, but until the treatment industry decides to quit being lazy and uninformed, most people will continue to be offered a maintenance program that is at best unhelpful and at worst downright damaging.

Most treatment professionals are less well-read than I am on their subject.  Why?  Because a majority of them got sober through AA and are part of what has become a very dysfunctional system.  They honestly believe that there is something magical about the AA program and that if an addict doesn’t get it, it’s their fault.

If we want good peer-to-peer support, we’ve got to make it available ourselves.

Thank you for visiting Eclectic Recovery.


New Stories


82 days ago I started telling myself a new story.  I began my story with the firm statement that I will not drink or use no matter what.  I repeat this statement to myself daily, sometimes several times a day, in writing and out loud.  I haven’t had a compulsion to drink or use and maybe my statement is part of the reason why.  Maybe I really am just finally sick and tired of being sick and tired.

No matter.  It’s working.

I ran to an AA meeting because it was the only place I knew people would understand and I’m glad AA and the meeting were there.  I thought maybe my new story would be one of returning to that fold and it finally working for me.  But in about 3 weeks of daily meetings and talking with a sponsor,  I knew in my heart this was not to be the case and I am finally alright with it.  When I think of the rest of my life in AA all I see is grey.  My new story is vibrantly colored – alive with magenta, violet, gold, chartreusse, indigo, fuschia.  It is a very bright impressionist painting or an exploding nebula.  It’s Venus dancing across the face of the Sun.

I’ve been making good use of some of Charlotte Kasl’s 16 steps to empowerment, but I don’t know if that will be my story either.   Charlotte’s steps appeal to me a lot more than AA’s twelve, but in some ways it just feels like the same old story in a different outfit.

I’m after a brand new story.  One that is not numbered 1-12 or 1-16 or 1, 2, 3.  I’ts a circular story and so far it consists of this:

I don’t drink or use no matter what.

I believe nothing.  I entertain all possibilities.

I don’t drink or use no matter what.

I connect with other sober people in any venue.

I don’t drink or use no matter what.

I follow anything that feels life-giving, affirmative, empowering, rich and fun.

I don’t drink or use no matter what.

As you can see, this is not necessarily a “we” program (gasp!andgodstrikemedown!).

Thank you for visiting Eclectic Recovery.


Venus Dreams


We’re living in a time of revolution.  Nothing is more reflective of this time than Venus’ transit of the Sun today.  The goddess of beauty and love will infuse the male energy of the Sun with the grace necessary to bring forth manifestation of our deepest desires.

Venus if a very important planet and goddess in my life.  As a first-house 5-planet Scorpio, Venus on my ascendent is the saving grace of what has otherwise been a rather difficult chart to live out.  She’s having a long sit-down with my 5th house Chiron right now and because I’m sober, I’m able to work with this energy in a powerful and positive way.

Chiron instructs that wherever lie our deepest wounds, there also lies our salvation.  Addiction is the defining issue of my life.  I have absolutely no business being alive today; no business being sober; no business being happy and excited about sobriety.

My time sober since my last drink, 81 days, is not indicative of all that I’ve learned in the past 18 years of strivng for a lasting sobriety, getting sober and then relapsing again, learning more, trying something else.  It’s not indicative of the 6 years of sobriety I had from 1988-1994 – good sober years but in a program not suitable for me, a program I had no desire to return to, a program that left me with no life raft when my addiction was reawakened.

I have this crazy dream.  I have this dream that when an addict desires sobriety, there is a meeting in every city of a program suitable for that particular addict.  There is a Lifering meeting for those who have no need of steps or a higher power.  There is a 16-step meeting for those like me, who need to build a healthy ego and empower themselves; there is a spiral step meeting for pagans and other nature-based spiritualists.  There are meetings I can’t begin to imagine now because they haven’t been created yet.

If there’s one thing in the entire world I’m absolutely sure of it’s the creative genius of most addicts.  It’s time for this genius to be unleased, to create new forms, new programs, new meetings.  It’s time for us to follow the lead of Bill Wilson, Charlotte Kasl, Martin Nicolaus, and Renee Bledsoe and get interested in our own recoveries.  It’s time to be unflinchingly honest about what does and does not work for us individually, for us to know what we know, see what we see, and feel what we feel.

It’s time for us to be committed to each other rather than to a particular form.

I’m willing now to back up my crazy dream with commitment.  By this day next year, not only will I have one year and 81 day’s continuously clean and sober, there will be a Lifering and a 16-step empowerment meeting in my town.  I’d also love to see an Addiction Alchemy model available here.  With Venus as my grace, guide and witness, so let it be written, so let it be done.

Woo Hoo!!!


Here comes the PAWS


I’m approaching what I’ve heard described as “the wall” in recovery.  I have relapsed numerous times around the 3-4 month mark.  It seems to be when the post-acute-withdrawal syndrome reaches a peak and my brain and body seek relief at any cost.

This time I’m not going to let it happen.  If I have to go check myself into a treatment center to avoid it, I will.  If I have to lock myself up in the house, I will.  If I have to have my partner watch me every minute of the day, I will.  I am not going to drink or use NO MATTER WHAT!

That said, and while the symptoms are still manageable, I’m going to take some steps that I think will help.  Oddly enough, foodie that I am, consistently eating well has been a challenge as has been getting exercise.  But I think these things will help tremendously with the PAWS so I’m going to start focusing my efforts on those things.

Part of the problem is that I’ve been trying to attend as many meetings as I can and between work, and then being tired from work, it leaves little time or energy for cooking and exercise.  My main meeting is the aftercare group on Thursdays and I will definitely continue to attend there regularly.  But I’m going to give myself a break on the AA meetings.  The truth is I don’t get very much out of the meetings, and while I still plan to attend, I’m no longer going to push myself to attend.

Also, I’ve made an appointment with my psych doc and my therapist.  My next big task is to quit smoking and I want to revisit the medications that I’m on with the possibility of going on Wellbutrin to help with the smoking as well as seeing if there’s anything safe that might help with the PAWS.

77 days today.  Thank you for visiting Eclectic Recovery.

Holistic Healing


70 days clean and sober today.  I’m choosing a holistic approach to recovery which includes attention to all apsects of my being:  physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

To this end I’m doing a tremendous amount of reading about all of these aspects with an eye out to avoid anything that promises a quick-fix or an instant cure, anything that’s too far-out spiritually (which I’ve gotten into trouble with in the past), or anything that only addresses one aspect of the problem.

Physically, I’m doing a few practical things that easily fit into my daily life.  I’m making sure that I get vegetables and fruit every day and I take a few vitamins and minerals that seem to be especially helpful, tried and true for people recovering from addiction:  a multi-vitamin, extra B-12, B-complex and C, D3, milk thistle, calcium, omega-3 and an amino acid complex.  Exercise is something I definitely need to improve upon, but I get some exercise in my job and on my day’s off I try to at least get a walk in.

Mentally, as mentioned, I’m doing a lot of reading, writing here and journaling. I’m also exploring options for getting back into school (it’s never too late!) and into a meaningful career. 

Emotionally, I’m attending an after-care group once a week where I can be honest about all my feelings, I participate on a very supportive recovery e-mail list, I write here, and I’ve decided to re-enter therapy.

Spiritually, I daily express and feel gratitude for my life, for my recovery, my home, my friends, my food.  I keep a medicine bag with me at all times with my sobriety rocks that symbolize air, fire, earth and water and a beautiful little heart-backed turtle which is a worry-stone and a reminder to take it easy.

I continue to use Charlotte Kasl’s 16 steps as my foundational program and am focusing on a few of the steps, especially step 10:  We continue to trust our reality and daily affirm that we see what we see, we know what we know, and we feel what we feel;; step 12:   We seek out situations, jobs, and people that affirm our perceptions, intelligence and self-worth and avoid situations or people who are hurtful, harmful, or demeaning to us; and step 9:  We express love and gratitude to others, and increasingly appreciate the wonder of life and the blessings we do have.

My weekly recovery inventory helps me assess what I’m doing each week and how helpful or not it is to me.  I’m still attending some AA meetings, and find that the main benefit of this is that I’m doing something concrete for my own recovery.  I often leave feeling judged because I’m not doing it “their” way, confused that these supposedly open-minded people are actually so close-minded, and angry at their smugness and superiority.  I have every intention of starting my own alternative meetings when I reach 6 month’s of sobriety.

Thank you for visiting Eclectic Recovery.

Know What I Know, Feel What I Feel


I was in an AA meeting the other day and a woman was expressing how she’s relapsed twice:  once after the 4th step and once after the 9th.  Instead of questioning whether the steps were appropriate to her and her recovery, she, of course, questioned herself, berated herself for not doing them properly, and was getting a new sponsor to begin going through them once again.  I felt so badly for her because I’ve been there, too. 

It’s taken me over 15 years to finally realize that I was just practicing the wrong steps for me.  It’s taken years of involvement with people who use no steps at all and no higher power, but manage to obtain a full sobriety anyway.  It’s taken soul searching, relapses, trying different things, reading and re-reading Charlotte Kasl’s book to finally begin to trust my reality and daily affirm that I see what I see, know what I know and feel what I feel. 

Thank my creator, gods, goddesses, spirits and allies for Charlotte because I wouldn’t have been able to figure it out on my own.  It’s an especially hard road sometimes for those who have no affinity with the 12 steps, who are not ego-driven, but ego-broken, who always blame themselves anyway with absolutely no help from outside influences, who are not in denial just desperate. 

So glad to be here and be sober today.

Thank you for visiting Eclectic Recovery.

Dumb Kids


Perhaps I should begin to qualify myself a little here.  I was 13 year’s old when I first smoked pot.  The year was 1974 and I was a freshman in high school, which was 8th grade back then.  I didn’t get stoned the first time I smoked, but that didn’t deter me.  The next time I got very stoned and it didn’t take long before my best friend, W, and I decided we needed to have our very own stash of the stuff.

We bought a “nickel bag” for $5, which was probably a quarter of an ounce or more and hid it in my parent’s basement.  Every day after school we would retrieve our stash and roll the worst joints you’ve ever seen and get absolutely ripped.  The thing I remember the most is the munchies.  We would often eat a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts at a sitting and we had a habit of getting in the kitchen and concocting all sorts of sweet treats out of whatever we could find.  Chocolate syrup from Nestle’s Quik, butter and milk was one of our favorites – on top of pancakes.  Cinnamon toast with a big glass of chocolate milk was another.  God only knows how much Nestle’s Quik we consumed in those days.

W had four brothers and one day we were at her house conjuring one of our munchie madnesses when one of her brothers came home.  I think he had graduated the year before we started high school and he was immediately onto us.  “Are ya’ll stoned?”, he asked.  I can only imagine the guilty faces and stunned expressions that answered his question undeniably in the affirmative.  He had quite a talk with us of which I specifically remember nothing but the jist was that we were dumb kids who didn’t know what we were getting into and we’d better stop it.

That was enough for W.  She said she was done and I figured I would be, too.  Just as soon as the rest of that nickel bag was gone.

I rolled the last joint, a rather large one, on a Friday evening before the high school football game.  My parents were going out to eat and I waited until they were gone and lit that baby up.  I sat in my room and smoked the entire thing alone.  I was fried out of my mind.  I opened the shutters on my bedroom window to finish getting ready for the game and got the shock of my young life.  My parent’s car was in the driveway.

The entire house was full of pot smoke, but I still tried to lie my way out of it.  Needless to say there was no football game for me that night.  After finally admitting what I’d been doing, my parents took me out to eat and to a movie.  It was a sad movie about a young woman who became paralyzed and I cried through dinner, through the movie, and until I went to bed – just as I was beginning to come down.  To this day I don’t know if I cried more from the guilt or the knowledge that my smoking days were over before they’d barely begun.

Thank you for visiting Eclectic Recovery.