“Laughter boosts the immune system and helps the body fight disease. Being happy is the best cure of all diseases.” – Patch Adams
I will never forget the first belly laugh that I had when coming out of active addiction. I was fortunate enough to start clearing up in a very nice rehabilitation center. Surrounded by the wounded just like me. I was sitting smoking cigarettes outside and we all started to converse and connect.
I started sharing about how I would visit different liquor stores on different days so the package store people wouldn’t think I was drinking every day. I talked about how I would pretend to be buying wine for company. I would try to fool the liquor store clerks because I didn’t want them to know that I had a problem. However, I would then take that booze home, get fallen down drunk in front of my child and husband at the time -and I cared what the liquor store people thought of me ????How absurd!!
And then it happened someone else said “me too” and the belly laugh of a lifetime was let out! I laughed until I cried. It felt like years since I had experienced a true joyful emotion. Truthfully it had been years. I was so busy trying to numb the bad feelings with booze and drugs that I also numbed the wonderful emotions as well. I had not felt a true emotion in YEARS. That is why when we come into recovery, we are like super sensitive newborns. Everything IS new because we have been in such a fog for so long.
In one of the recovery fellowships they speak of a rule # 62 which is “don’t take yourself to seriously.” I love that. It speaks to me today of a freedom.
Today I laugh often, at myself and with others. I don’t have to pretend to be anything I am not. I am free to be me. Society/social media is wonderful at a painting a picture that we should have it ALL together. Well I don’t have it ALL together but I don’t need it to be. More importantly I don’t have to pretend that it is – especially not to the liquor store clerk!
“The therapeutic value of one addict helping another is without parallel”
If you have never been in the throws of active addiction I can only compare it to a type of war, with constant and daily losing battles. You are trapped in a world where you believe the chemical substance is the one thing that is holding you together. It is the only thing where you are finding relief and the only thing that you MUST have at all costs.
We come into recovery beaten up beyond belief, never mind what we did to the people that trusted and loved us. We are physically, mentally and spiritually depleted. Most of us are half dead in some way shape or form. We have lost ourselves completely and any connection to other humans seems very foreign.
Until…you meet another at a recovery meeting or a rehab…who says “yeah me too.” Your heart starts to open and there is the first sign of hope that you just might be able to live through the day without a substance. You might be able to live through the day without beating yourself up in a fashion that only we can do.
As an addict in recovery, we freely give to others what was freely given to us. This gift is another addict sharing with me the horrors of their active addiction AND how they got out of that pure hell on earth. How they remained clean for one day and how they handle situations without picking up a substance. That is what I call grace.
The amazing thing is when we share with others and not expect anything in return we start to become the true spiritual beings that we are meant to be.
It is truly a miracle to witness someone who was once a liar, cheat and a thief to start giving of themselves without looking for anything in return.
If you are an addict in recovery or you know of one – you are witnessing a miracle! Yahooo!
I owe my days clean to a higher power and the people in recovery who guided me into finding this god of my OWN understanding. Not their understanding…but mine.
It is known in recovery that you cannot stop using drugs and alcohol on your own. We try to stop, it is crazy to others that we can’t or they think that we just won’t. Truly I am here to clarify we cannot stop on our own accord. Some greater higher power has got to be let in and sought after for help. That is what is soooo amazing about this disease. If I don’t turn to god – I’m dead.
There needs to be some type of surrender or turning your will over to a higher power. You can call it god you can call it a source, a force of energy – you can call it whatever you want but it is suggested that you call on it everyday.
I read in an article when I was in rehab the quote that saved my life: “I have a disease that has a spiritual solution.” As foggy as I was I knew in that moment the reason why I ended up there, the reason why I was an addict had something to do with GOD. Crazy! It’s not a “religious” solution its a spiritual solution. And the journey to get in touch with that God began.
These are a few places I find god:
I saw god in a puppy named Luna the other day on my morning walk. This tiny havanese brown and white pup just poured love all over me like I can’t even explain. That’s god.
I saw god this winter while outside after it snowed; the deer tracks were fresh, the air was indescribable and the silence was not silence. That’s god.
I was at a recovery meeting last night, a teenage boy was dope sick – he was sweating and pale, thin as thin can be. His dad was a speaker at the meeting. They gave each other a look across the room, a nod in which they checked in with each other. That’s god.
I don’t want to drink or use a drug today. That’s god.
“for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so” Shakespere
Having done some unspeakable things (or so I thought) while I was in active addiction I have dealt with feelings of shame and judgement. The hebrew origin of my name Danielle-Daniel means “god is my judge”. I like that and that rings true to me. I believe everything serves a purpose for the greater good whether I know what that good is or not at the time. I believe and have a trust today that everything serves a purpose. Or as my dad would say “there’s an ass for every seat.”
When I started to understand the reasons why people (myself included) do the things they do…then I became truly free. Any horrible action that I have ever taken has been based on one thing….FEAR. Fear to me is summoned up in two ways: 1) I am afraid I will lose something I have. – this can be why you lie to someone, hide your real feelings, try to manipulate or control situations, “pretend” so you do not lose the illusion of “respect”
2) I am afraid I will not get what I want. – this can be where feelings of powerlessness, need, insecurity, instability & inner turmoil lead us to unspiritual actions as well. Some people resort to physically trying to take what they want.
Seeking approval from others has been one of my biggest reasons for living with fear. It was not until I was able to be honest with myself and others that the shame and judgement went to its proper place… a distant emotion.
Because today I understand my own horrible actions were based out of fear I can now look at others and understand why they do what they do. It frees me to be truly happy, which is ultimately what I am here to be. I am not wrapped up in judging others or myself. If and when I make a mistake today I can own it and be ok with it. And if and when someone may not treat me as I would prefer…that’s ok too…even if they don’t own it. That’s freedom!!
I need to write this : If you hear nothing else today please know – no matter what you have done and no matter what has been done to you there is no shame in learning from it, forgiving it and moving forward. Let the shame and judgment go…we are ALL humans who do shitty things. Who am I or you to be so hard on yourself or others. I am here to learn from you. And if you have participated in an act that you cannot or will not forgive yourself for…I am here to say today I forgive it, I don’t judge it and I hope you do the same for others in your life 🙂
“what you resist persists “ – Carl Jung
Before I can change anything I have to be willing to accept it. I had to accept the fact that I was an alcoholic/drug addict before I could actually do something about it. They say “surrender to win” and Dr. Phil says “you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.” Acceptance is the first step or the foundation for real change. Sounds counter intuitive but I get it now.
At first I really did not understand what exactly it was I had to accept or why I had to accept anything at all. My former belief system taught me if I did not like something than I should just muscle my way through and fix it, change it or manipulate it to “my” liking. This was before I realized that there are many things in this life that happen that are out of my control. (and thank god for that!)
Rather than a perspective of acceptance I had a very controlling type of mentality. This was a challenge and somedays I still need to be reminded to accept the things that I cannot change. No matter how hard I try, threaten, beg, plead or cry I cannot change another person. I might alter their behavior for a short time…but that is not change and more importantly that is not MY place in this life.
I used to fear if I accepted something that I did not like that it meant I was weak in some way. But in all actuality what I was really doing was resisting what is and causing stress in my own life. I was resisting people, places and situations in my life that I found unacceptable, which in turn caused more stress on me and no changes at all.
Today when I get the feeling that something is unacceptable to me…I feel it physically and I try to catch it early. I try to soothe my mind because I know it is my EGO that is telling me that things are not the way they should be because I would have done it differently. I say things like “everything changes and this eventually will too.” I also try to laugh at myself because I obviously know better than all the universal forces, higher energies and GOD of course!
I will also picture myself in a row boat…and if the thoughts I am thinking are heading me upstream it’s a struggle and a lot of rowing. But if I am in the row boat accepting everything the way it is with a peaceful heart then “row row row your boat gently down the stream; merrily merrily merrily, life is but a dream.” Acceptance is a much easier route!
I am not sure if this applies to people without addiction issues because I only know for myself…I have always been one who is seeking some sort of relief. I think I just never felt “good enough” so naturally when I picked up a substance it made perfect sense. Feeling good feels good and I went to great lengths to feel wonderful.
I do not like nor enjoy feeling uncomfortable. The insecure, unworthy, negative anxious feelings that used to be a part of my every day living…became unbearable. I HAD to feel better at all costs….the cost of my family being torn apart, the cost of my dignity and freedom, the cost of my son seeing me sick and stumbling on my front lawn. I did not care in the moment because life and those “feelings” were to much to handle. Fix it! Give me a fix! Numb my knowledge that something is not quite right in the world. Especially in my world.
The constant comparing of myself to others…and falling short in my mind. Torture!! Then when I finally put all substances down and those horrid feelings still remained – where the F*** was I to find relief??? Well, it happened slowly but it did happen.
The first sign of relief for me was when I was able to share HONESTLY with other addicts what exactly I had been doing. I shared honestly and those people did not judge…they said me too!I was shocked that I was not the devil reincarnated and that there were others just like me. They shared with me their insanity and we were able to laugh and cry together. Free as our true selves!!
There is a level of pride and ego that has to be transcended to get honest. But once I did that the darkness turned to light. I realized I am not the only one and I am not as bad as I think I am.
Speaking honestly has now become a habit of relief for me…I do not need to pick up a drug, sometimes I just need to pick up the phone. I have a handful of people that I trust completely. When I share my insane thoughts today and they laugh or cry with me…it’s pure relief! It feels good 🙂
insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results
Why do I keep touching the hot stove and expecting not to get burned? Am I hopeful that maybe it wont be as hot this time? I continuously find myself reaching out to people (lets be real) especially x boyfriends and I expect different results. Why am I reaching outside of myself for attention and love when I KNOW damn well that it is like trying to get water from a rock.
This my friends is the part of my disease that keeps me on my toes. It can keep life interesting and somewhat chaotic. It has gotten MUCH better over the years but I still find myself acting out in the same insane ways and wondering WHY I do it.
When I say it has gotten better it really has. My heart and soul and self worth no longer depend on anyone else for upliftment. I do not NEED anyone else to tell me that I am ok. I do have that inner knowing…but sometimes that little devil of curiosity says “oh just text him and see what happens.” Then I do it and of course that asshole mind of mine says “why did you do that you dummy!!”
It is good to laugh at myself because after all I am human. When I had two years clean I had the hugest heart break over someone who got an 18 year old girl working at Dunkin Donuts pregnant. He was 35 at the time. The irony is this…at the time I was devastated!! I told him to leave town and never come to any recovery meeting that I was at EVER again. I was ready to have him physically hurt.
I felt rejected, I felt ashamed and I felt so insecure. I never thought that he might have been a little sick and maybe the reasons why he did what he did was because he was not well. I was so self centered and could not focus on anything but what HE DID TO ME. I laugh today because I cannot even remember his name!! I know his first name but I cannot for the life of me remember his last name.
What I have learned from this and many other crazy relationships like it is that I will be ok. Even if and when the pain comes I have gotten through without picking up a drink or drug. Pain will come…emotional instability does happen to me on a regular. How long I suffer is up to me. I get to decide how long I focus on something that hurts. I get to decide when I choose to accept the pain, the person, place or thing that at one point felt unacceptable.
The power is always within me. Glenda the good witch from the Wizard of Oz told Dorothy “You’ve always had the power my dear – you just had to learn it for yourself.” Amen!
“Stand guard at the door of your mind”
Maybe all minds are this way, but I did not learn until I came into recovery…that my mind is an asshole:) Do you believe everything your mind tells you? I certainly used to. I also thought just because I wanted something that I was supposed to have it. Therefore, when I wanted to drink I would just do it. When I wanted to drive to the liquor store while my son slept in his crib – then I would just do that too.
When you are in active addiction your mind is obviously clouded with all sorts of chemical nastiness. But what happens when we get clean and there are no substances to blame but we are still left with a diseased up, fearful, hypocritical, unkind noise between our ears?? I was shocked to learn in recovery that my “thinking” and “perception” needed constant monitoring and altering. I needed to tune my brain to channels that made my spirit sing.
I learned that my mind was unreliable…it changed constantly. It told me to do something and then made me feel horrible for doing it. It allowed suspicion and mistrust as a daily dialogue and it had me drawing conclusions and making assumptions about people, places and things that simply were not true. Once I actually watched my brain in action….I was ready to be open to changing it.
As an addict I am always seeking relief…and this relief I was ultimately seeking was from my mind. Over time I have learned how to quiet my brain a bit and if that doesn’t work then I can simply ignore thoughts by replacing them with completely different ones. Change the subject.
I have learned to listen to the “feeling” in my gut. This is a powerful tool. I can’t feel what is in your “gut” only YOU can. That is why it is our own personal power. We get to decide what feels right to us. I have kicked myself numerous times for listening to the “peanut gallery” rather than my gut. But as with anything I learned how valuable my intuition and my feelings are and should be listened to.
Bottom line – your mind chatters…your spirit and intuition feels. And sometimes the mind and spirit are in perfect harmony and that is just heaven on earth! Happy day !!
It’s 7am and I am trying to figure out how to start blogging. My name is Danielle and I have been in recovery for 11 years. Yesterday I received an inspired feeling to start a daily blog for anyone to read who is interested in recovery. You can be the parent, sibling, friend of an addict or maybe you are one yourself. Many people who do not walk in our shoes do not know what it is like to actually be a person in recovery.
There are far to many horror stories and tragic endings. Families torn apart and deaths of people that we see and hear about everyday. If you know an addict in recovery I am here to tell you that they are a survivor. “We” are survivors with only a 1 day grace period.
I feel the need to share my daily experiences with anyone whom might find it beneficial. I often find that my life today is like a circus. There are so many walks of life and entertaining people that parade through. They are the cast of characters that save my life on a daily basis.
I welcome you with open arms…into my world of recovery.
My name is Danielle and I am an addict who has not had a drink or a drug (same thing by the way) for over 11 years. My bottom was on the front lawn in my neighborhood as I was black and blue from head to toe -stumbling trying to get my 7 year old off the bus while tears of fear and horror were streaming down his face.
I plan to share my daily life for the next one year – I will share how I stay away from any mind or mood altering substances. I will share how I live in the solution – even when it sucks. And I will share all the god winks and unbelievable gifts of recovery that I am continually being graced with.
That 7 year old boy is now 18 and my life has completely changed. But life keeps changing and I must keep upfront – that I am granted only one day at a time to stay clean. We are gifted survivors. Welcome – even if you are not an addict I hope to reach you on a level that can help anyone deal with this life on life’s terms. And maybe not just deal with…..but actually ENJOY IT!