Category Archives: Personal Recovery

Feeding My Brain

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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

still

needing to be stranger.

 

Thank you for visiting Eclectic Recovery.

 

The Addictive Voice

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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

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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

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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

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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!!!

 

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.

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.

Piecing Together a Personal Recovery Program

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I’m 45 days clean and sober today because I’ve made up my mind that I’m not going to drink or use no matter what, one day at a time, for the rest of my life, however long that proves to be.

In order to make my sobriety as joyful and painless as possible, I’m employing a variety of techniques which I’ll be sharing on these pages.  My hope is that they prove helpful to someone else starting their sobriety journey or to those still struggling to make the best decision they will ever make for themselves.

Charlotte Kasl, Ph.D. and author of many books including “Many Roads, One Journey” and “Women, Sex and Addiction” has had a profound effect on my life and the way I’m choosing to approach my recovery.  I’ve decided to use her 16-Steps to Empowerment model because it deeply resonates with me as a woman, an addict and a person who was emotionally repressed at a young age.

I appreciate the fact that her steps are not set in stone.  She recommends changing the wording, using them out of order or using some and not others as seems appropriate to the individual.

I attend AA meetings for group support and to be around other recovering addicts.  I do not subscribe to much of the AA program, but what I do believe in is the value of one addict helping another.  I also attend an aftercare group at a treatment center where I was a patient and it’s proving a valuable addition to my meeting schedule.  There’s no pressure to conform in this group and I’m able to be honest in a way I can’t in the AA meetings I attend.

I participate daily in an e-mail list through the Lifering Secular Recovery program.  I’ve been involved with this group for many years and find it an invaluable part of my recovery program.  I’m also using the Recovery by Choice workbook written by the founder of Lifering, Martin Nicolaus.  This workbook covers everything a recovering addict needs to think about and begin to address.  It’s an incredible piece of work.

I’ve created a weekly recovery inventory where I look back at the week and list what I’ve been doing, how it’s been helpful or not, and plan recovery meetings and activities for the coming week.

I express gratitude to my higher powers (I’m pagan so I get to have lots of them) on a daily basis and request guidance in my life and recovery.

I journal several times a week and read some type of recovery literature daily.

My program is flexible.  I fully expect it to change as I obtain longer sobriety and take on more challenges.  I’m very excited about my life and happy to still be alive to live it.

Thank you for visiting Eclectic Recovery.