Monthly Archives: May 2012

Holistic Healing

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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

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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

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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.

To Disease or Not to Disease

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I’ve been doing a tremendous amount of reading about addiction and recovery and after years of personal confusion and internal chaos I’m starting to make sense of some things for myself.  When I attended treatment in 1988 the absolute most helpful thing for me was becoming educated on the disease of addiction.  Today there’s tremendous debate about whether addiciton is really a disease or just a behavioral problem, which given the scientific findings, seems to me a somewhat ridiculous debate.  People call it the “disease model” or “disease theory”, but again and again it’s proven that addiction has a hereditary, and thus a genetic, basis and that most addict’s and alcohlic’s brains and bodies are primed for addiction before they ever take the first drink or drug.

I firmly believe I fall into this category.  I was never able to drink or use in any way that might be deemed “social”.    I was hooked from the get-go.

However, I think we can’t overlook the fact that even if those genetic markers are not present, anyone can drink or use themself right into addiction.  I also think that the presence or not of such markers can make a huge difference in how easily it is for one to overcome addiction and get on with the process of living.

The analogy is often made because it’s a good one:  Diabetics can be born diabetic or they can eat their way into diabetes.  But they’re both diseases whether brought on by genetics or lifestyle choices or both.

So I believe addiction is a disease.  It feels like a disease to me.  It manifests in my life as a disease process.  It runs in my family and my experience confirms that my brain and body only needed that first use to wake the addiction up and get it going.

What I find most interesting though, in reading about people who have recovered, is that it doesn’t really matter whether they choose to see it as a disease or not.  Some do; some don’t.  About equal numbers of each go on to lead full lives of sobriety.  So apparently what is most important is figuring out what you believe about it and using that to create a sober life.

I think it’s probable that more people who are like me, who started young and immediately had problems, will lean more toward accepting the disease than those who succumb much later in life.  Again, the most important fact to me is that it doesn’t matter when it comes to recovering.

Thank you for visiting Eclectic Recovery.

The 3-Day Rule

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This week I’ve had many reminders about how valuable restraint of tongue and pen can be.

I’ve attended AA meetings where newcomers are told that any deviation from the AA program just exactly as it is written is dangerous to their recovery and that the steps are suggested like it’s suggested that you pull the ripcord on a parachute.

In my on-line secular support group a member left because he felt we’d been infiltrated by an AA’er and it started all sorts of less than well-thought out posts.

We addicts are passionate people, there’s no doubt about that.  And when we find recovery we can carry our passions a little too far in our insistence that the way we’ve done it is THE RIGHT WAY.  I sincerely hope to not fall into this trap, but if the experience of others is any indication, I probably will at some point. 

In order to hopefully avoid some of the pitfalls than can happen in the passion of the moment, I’ve implemented a 3-day rule for myself.  If I’m faced with a big decision; if I’m considering drinking or using; if I’m having difficulties in a relationship or if I just feel like running my mouth to hear myself talk, I wait 3 days.  If in 3 days what was so all-fired important is still an issue, and usually it isn’t, I then talk to another sober person about it, write about it and begin to form a plan as to how to deal with it.

I’m sure this rule has already saved me a lot of embarrassment and if the compulsion to drink or use comes up it just might save my ass.

Thank you for visiting Eclectic Recovery.

 

Chosen Steps

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I’ve decided on Charlotte Kasl’s 16 Steps to Empowerment to use as a guide in my recovery.  I actually don’t believe that any steps are necessary to obtaining sobriety, 12 or otherwise.  I’m using these steps because I feel they have something to offer me personally and because I want to do them.

I’m not using the steps in the order they were written.  Right now I’m focusing on steps  9-16.  They are:

9.  We express love and gratitude to others, and increasingly appreciate the wonder of life and the blessing we do have.

10.  We continue to trust our reality and daily affirm that we see what we see, know what we know, and feel what we feel.

11.  We promptly acknowledge our mistakes and make amends when appropriate, but we do not say we are sorry for things we have not done and we do not cover up, analyze, or take responsiblity for the shortcomings of others.

12.  We seek out situations, jobs, and people that affirm our intelligence,  perceptions, and self-worth and avoid situations or people who are hurtful, harmful, or demeaning to us.

13.  We take steps to heal our physical bodies, organize our lives, reduce stress, and have fun.

14.  We seek to find our inward calling, and develop the will and wisdom to follow it.

15.  We accept the ups and downs of life as natural events that can be used as lessons for growth.

16.  We grow in awareness that we are interrelated with all living things, and we contribute to restoring peace and balance on the planet.

This week I met with a counselor through Vocational Rehabilitation.  I found out that I can be accepted into the program and that all training and/or schooling to further my education and move me into a better work situation will be covered by the program.  Steps 12, 13, 14.

Last week I ran into a previous employer of mine who mistreated me in several ways and significantly contributed to my mental and financial downward spiral.  I briefly re-experienced the feelings of rejection and invisibility that situation prompted at the time.  I also realized that I’m over it, over the things he did to me, and that my own actions also contributed to the situation and my subsequent problems.  Steps 10, 11, 12. 15.

Everyday I begin my day by thanking the Creator, gods, goddesses, spirits and allies for being with me and that I have another day to live sober.  Steps 9 and 16.

I play with my kitten, enjoy collecting eggs from my new hens, bought some herbs to plant, and absolutely revel in making love with my partner.  Steps 13 and 16.

I attend support meetings and participate in my on-line sobriety group.  Step 12.

I write here.  All of them!

Thank you for visiting Eclectic Recovery.

Weekly Recovery Inventory

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I mentioned in the previous post that I do a weekly recovery inventory.  Here’s the format I’m currently using:

What support meetings have I attended this week and what meetings do I plan to attend in the upcoming week?

What, if anything, did I gain from the support meetings I attended?

What actions have I taken to move forward in my recovery?

What actions am I doing that could be blocking my recovery and what am I willing to do about it?

How have I worked on my chosen steps?

Have I maintained a balanced diet?

Have I gotten some exercise?

Am I getting enough rest?

How did I have fun?

I’ve just begun using this recently and it’s subject to change, but this is how it stands now.

Thank you for visiting Eclectic Recovery.