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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.


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.

The 3-Day Rule


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


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.