How Do I Feel This Good Sober?

On July 11, 2013 I turned 2 years old, in sober years.  That is 730 consistent days of drug free blood running through my veins.  Wow.  Let me say that again….WOW!  For this alcoholic, that is nothing short of a miracle.  On the day of, I failed to recognize my real gratitude for this miracle, and my life.

I was not in the best of moods on the 11th of July, just 7 short days ago.  Although I should have been glowing with gratitude, I was instead sitting in self pity, resentment, and irritability.  My surroundings were awkward and unfamiliar, as I was out of town for uncontrollable reasons, away from the two places I call home…New York & Los Angeles.  However, life was good, and I couldn’t see that at the time.  Why?  Because I was wallowing in self-indulgent sorrow.  Which then led to sparks of fiery resentments to surface.  Then that moment came, where suddenly life felt unmanageable, too difficult, boring, and unworthy of my efforts to express love, compassion, and service towards others.  My emotional sobriety quickly went dark.

That is what the spinning wheel of this alcoholics mind looks like when it latches onto that familiar feeling of “poor me.”  Normally, at this stage of my sobriety, I can recognize these negative feelings and terrorizing thoughts creeping in, and am able to poison them quickly with my AA tools for survival.  Remembering that most, if not all,  of what I am thinking and feeling is not real, and quickly asking for guidance from my higher power, and the willingness to shift my perception of the life and/or circumstances in front of me.  But on this particular day, I chose to ignore those useful tools that keep me sane.  And so I spun.  and I continued to spin, for the next 6 days.  I created laundry lists of why the life I am currently living is not right.  I developed resentments against those closest to me.  I beat myself to a pulp, telling myself that my life is about to fail, and the decisions I have made in the past two years have been way off the rail.  My rather pleasant immediate world shifted to misery and it became hard for me to crack a smile.  So I simply didn’t try, because if I was feeling miserable, you were going to know it by my simple passive aggressive silence.

By the evening of day 6, I had ranted to a couple of friends about the circumstances of my “so-called” life.  I spewed about my unhappiness and circumstantial qualms.  I was also called out on my passive aggressive behavior.   Ouch.  By the end of it all, I felt better in some ways, because the thoughts were no longer festering in my head, solo.  They had been let loose.  That does bring relief to some degree.  However, I didn’t feel great about myself.  I  felt emotionally hung over.  I started to see my recent behavior for what it really was.  Certainly not the attitude and actions of a well-balanced sober woman.  Some-what immature behavior.  And very unsatisfying.

Cut to today.  7 days after my 2 year sobriety birthday.  7 days from the start of my dark spin-out.  I woke up this morning and felt much like a different person.  My perception had  shifted.   Although I still may have the same concerns I was so deeply obsessing over for the past 6 days, they somehow look different today.  More like, just part of  my life’s path & adventure.  My concerns are my journey and experiences.  This morning my faith had returned, somehow. It must have followed suit with my perception.  My “so-called life” is not exactly as I may have mapped out in my mind, but it is my life and it is my choice to view it for what it is.  It is beautiful.  It is a gift.  It is filled with gratitude and grace when my head doesn’t get in the way.

Now that I’ve escaped the grips of my alcoholic mind, I will be celebrating my 2 years of sobriety this weekend.

Hello, my name is Donna and I am an alcoholic.

Now for some random entertainment…

Pink’s song “sober” seems to be interpreted differently by many.  Is the song about addiction?  You tell me your thoughts…click on the link below

634 days equals…

1 year.  8 months.  25 days.

That is how long I have been clean and sober, today.  One day at a time.  One feeling/emotion at a time.  One life event at a time.  One solution at a time.

My life is so good today.  And it is changing daily.  So many experiences have manifested since I chose to show up for my life.  1 year, 8 months, and 25 days ago I was emotionally and spiritually bankrupt.  I was sick.  Hung-over.  Ashamed of my behavior and my life.  I was angry and scared.  I was tired…exhausted.  I had no love for myself, and I certainly didn’t know how to love you.  I wanted to just vanish.

I am no longer that person.  I am not ashamed of who I am and the life I live and am no longer a puppet for the fear and anxiety that barely strung me along.

Life presents itself in so many forms, and today I embrace it, even if it is scary.  Even if I am unsure.  Even if I feel incapable of succeeding.  Where my thinking can destroy me, my perception can save me.  And with that truth I can trudge through anything. My world has changed dramatically since sobriety became my number one focus.  I recently left my job, after over a decade of working there.  I love the company I worked for.  I love the friendships I have made there.  However, it was time for me to move on.  To extend my creative playing field a bit more.  I needed a change.  And I went for it.  If I was not sober…if I had not worked this program during the past year and 8 months, I would never have followed through with my desire to grow in my career, and thus leave my job.  I would never have had the courage to do it.  Fear would have continued to consume me and I would likely have stayed where I was… comfortable, and therefore “safe.”  Today I see that as nice as it is to feel safe, there comes a time when risks need to be taken in order for growth to occur.

I am constantly growing.

Becoming a vegan has been a beautiful transformation for me in sobriety.  I realized the true definition of compassion.  After becoming sober, I became more present and aware of the horrible ways our human race treat animals that are slaughtered for food consumption. I could no longer be a consumer of meat and dairy after I witnessed the truth behind factory farming….because for me, it was not a compassionate, loving way to live any longer.  Sobriety brings many truths and many gifts.  Becoming vegan was one of them for me.

And more is constantly revealed.

I am in a committed, loving relationship with a truly beautiful, sober woman.  I get the opportunity to live a bi-coastal life, bouncing between New York and Los Angeles, living in the two best cities in the country, in my opinion.  Sobriety has given me this gift.  The confidence to be myself in my relationship.  Genuine and authentic.  Sobriety has taught me that with truth and honesty, grows intimacy.  And with intimacy, grows love.  Sobriety has taught me that my character defects do not define me, and I am lovable even with my faults.   My confidence and self-worth has blossomed, naturally.  I have learned the importance of loving without expectation.

Serenity is always near, should I want it.

I have sobriety to thank for that.  I wasn’t expecting to grow so much and have such awesome experiences in such a short period of time.  But it has happened, and if I continue to do the work, I suspect more gifts from life will appear, and growth will continue.

There are key tools for living that help make it easier….I have a couple go to suggestions that help me along the way…

The best tools for my life are:  Understanding and accepting that I am not in control.  Knowing and believing that most of my thinking and fears are not reality.  Realizing that if I just do the next indicated thing, and stay out of the results, life will work itself out.   It is all very simple, really.  And if I continue to live by these simple rules, I can say to myself:

dont worry

and for that, i am grateful!

Till next time…

more time more choices

Although life is very busy and a solid constant of running from point A to point B, I do feel like I have more time on my hands then I did when I was drinking and using.  during those times, I spent much of my life in a blackout or in bed recovering from a run.  Life didn’t have any life in it.

So what does one do with extra time.  One of my favorite things to do is to people watch.  To go out into the world, find a seat somewhere in the middle of Venice Beach, Ca or Central Park in NYC.  Depending on which coast I am on.  Both places have great faces and personalities to watch.  I can sit comfortably for hours just watching the show around me.  If I happen to have my camera, I will snap a few emotional moments to freeze in time.

Everyone uses their spare time differently.  Some people latch onto social media.  Facebook, twitter, Instagram, all become a means of free time entertainment.  Others use gaming to waste the hours.  Video games on portable devices like the Iphone and Ipad.  Or  online gaming like binguez  Some people enjoy gambling, while others enjoy free games like bingo, blackjack, skeeball, angry birds, etc.  Personally I have never really gotten into the time-wasting use of games. I don’t have enough patience for them.  I will indulge in words with friends on occasion, but my attention span is short-lived for such activities.

I love that I have more spare time now that I am sober.  Although life is very busy, it is great to be able to experience it now, in its loud times, and quiet times.  How I choose to spend the quiet times is a choice I didn’t have before sobriety, really.  Now I can go people watch.  Or troll Facebook, or take a nap, or play some games, or see friends, etc. should I choose.

Gonna go check out Facebook now…

LOL

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32 random things that make me smile, feel good, or otherwise experience warm ‘n’ fuzzy feelings inside.

(For my Aunt Cindi)

In no particular order…

1.  seeing elderly couples walking hand in hand.

2.  witnessing humans and animals coexisting in harmony.

3.  making someone laugh.

4.  making someone smile.

5.  the sound of rain.

6.  sunday fundays.

7.  sleepovers with my closest girlfriends.

8.  breakfast for dinner.

9.  coffee in bed.

10.  dancing alone (naked) in my apartment.

11.  (good) hugs.

12.  kissing.

13.  people watching.

14.  seeing a shooting star.

15.  random acts of affection/kindness.

16.  giving (thoughtful) gifts.

17.  no obligation days.

18.  tax refunds.

19.  facebook likes.

20.  the perfect song at the perfect time.

21.  walking my girlfriends dogs in central park.

22.  getting lost in an unknown city.

23.  compliments.

24.  when i fit into my “skinny” jeans.

25.  laughing so hard my abs burn.

26.  when my apartment is really clean.

27.  fresh clean sheets.

28.  skeeball.

29.  the dragon ride at the santa monica pier.

30.  reading quietly in bed with my GF.

31.  married gay/lesbian couples.

32.  noticing something new in the city i have lived in my whole life.

happy

27 Random Things That BUG Me.

In no particular order…

1.  the sound of a traditional alarm clock.

2.  people who talk loud at the gym.  especially if they are trying to talk to me.

3.  having to take the trash out.

4.  pulling the little cap off a fresh carton of soy milk.  The plastic cap part that is left over bugs me.

5.  waking up to coffee with no soy milk. (always a dangerous moment in time)

6.  the packaging design for nicorette gum.  it’s so hard to open one piece of gum. it’s torture for a person trying to quit smoking!

7.  People that smack their food…chewing loudly.

8.  having to take the recycling out.

9.  hair that gathers in the shower drain.

10.  really hot food or drink.

11.  loud bass booming cars driving the streets.

12.  slow drivers.

13.  potholes.

14.  speed bumps.

15.  people who talk just for the sake of talking.  in other words, people who talk too much.

16.  wire hangers.  I hate wire hangers.

17.  the sound of styrofoam rubbing against another object.

18.  people who walk slow.

19.  receipts.

20.  pennies.

21.  women who comes to the gym dressed for the night club.

22.  grunters at the gym.

23.  people who smack their gum!!!

24. running out of quarters for my laundry.

25.  not getting text messages returned in a timely manner.

26.  having to replace the toilet paper.

27.  needing to stop for gas.

annoying

feelings & thoughts are not facts

our thoughts are constantly in over-drive.  actually, let me just speak for myself here…my thoughts are constantly in over-drive.

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thoughts help us to interpret the world and what goes on all around us.  our thoughts describe to us what is happening.  they interpret sights, sounds, scent, feelings, etc.  unconsciously, we are constantly using interpretation and giving meaning to all things happening around us.  we decide if something is bad, good, dangerous, immoral, etc.

because we are all individuals with different life experiences, different cultures, different upbringings, different beliefs, we likely come to different conclusions and interpretations for what we experience around us then someone else might.  these perceptions of ours…these interpretations, result in feelings.  there is an occurrence which triggers a thought which triggers a feeling/emotion.  for me, this is where the danger can manifest if I am not careful.

I tend to automatically believe my thoughts.  I don’t usually stop to question their validity.  and what helps them become more believable for me is the fact that they are habitual.  my thoughts tend to repeat over and over and over again, becoming very habitual and persistent.  these thoughts then set off a whole new set of  relatable thoughts that make me feel even worse, triggering more negative feelings/emotions.

Lets-Talk-About-Feelings

so where is the problem in all this?

my feelings begin to run my life.  with all the faulty thinking and wiring upstairs…feelings and emotions that usually are uncomfortable or bad begin to take over….my mood rises to the occasion.  i become irritable.  depressed.  angry.  sad.  hurt. etc.  character defects pop like corn in a hot skillet.  flying in all directions.  and before i know it, my life is miserable.  and it all started from one single thought.  that led to a feeling.  that led to irrational beliefs about myself, others, or the world around me.  my feelings have the muscle to run my life.  and that, my friends, is never a good thing.  it is very alcoholic living, thinking, and breathing.  for me, faulty thinking=destructive living.  and a shaky sobriety.

why do the bad feelings overtake the good feelings?  i don’t have a definitive answer to that question.  all i know is they do.  for me it’s easier to absorb the bad then the good.  it is also easier to remember the bad then the good most of the time.

here are some popular negative feelings that have the ability to haunt me and run my life if i allow them to:

anger. insecurity. jealousy. envy. fear. sadness. disappointment. empty. hesitant. despair. frustration. tragic. useless. unhappy. rejected. nervous. anxious. worried. restless. insensitive. disinterested. cold. lifeless. dull. stupid. resentful. shy. distrustful. alone. provoked. scared. guilty. powerless. irritated. hateful. ashamed.

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when i repeat my faulty thinking over and over again and allow these kinds of feelings to be triggered and i engage in them, they become very powerful.  i begin to identify with these negative feelings and i believe i am what these feelings tell me i am….angry. fearful. unimportant. but the truth is, these are just feelings that are ever-changing.  they are not facts.

in order to not let my feelings and thoughts overtake and run my day-to-day life, i must have a strong sense of emotional awareness.  an awareness of HOW I FEEL, not WHO I AM. having such an awareness can help me to stay on track and remember that who i am has very little to do with how i feel.  it is beneath all the feelings that my true self resides. seeing through the debilitating thoughts and feelings is all part of the process of discovering my authentic, sober self. i have spent most of my life identifying who i am based on my feelings.  good or bad.  but the truth is, there really are no good or bad emotions once we dig deep enough to get to their roots.

it all boils down to cause and effect.  once that relationship is discovered, we can affect positive change within.  we have the choice.

i have the choice to be happy, grateful, and serene…or i have the choice to forego happiness, and give in to the false belief system run by my thoughts and feelings for the past 36 years.

im working towards on an increase in daily happiness and gratitude through positive perception and thinking and strengthening of my own emotional self awareness…..one day at a time.

thanks for stopping by.

God, are you laughing at me?

we have all heard the statement “God works in mysterious ways.”  he also has a sense of humor.  sometimes i feel like i am just a little plastic moving vehicle on his game board of life.  i guess i am, kind of.  sometimes his moves i like.  other times, i resent the path he sends me on.

but that doesn’t mean i am not grateful for every move he makes on my behalf.   if i am left to control my own game of life, i’d be screwed.  so go ahead God, make your move.  i may follow kicking and screaming, but i will follow.

and then there were three.  three girlfriends.  brought together for reasons out of their control.  clearly God’s work.  no explanation given by him…im forced to follow.  a smoke-filled car.  loud music.  three girls.  laughing.  crying.  stillness.  anxiety.  peace.  uncertainty.  confusion. laughter. love. running, yet staying close.  faith.  oceanside.

WTF just happened?  

i do not need to know the mathematics of it all.  why we landed up together as we did and under the circumstances that we did.  it just is, and that is good enough for me today.  knowing that my higher power has a plan for me, helps me during the harder times in life.  the questionable times.  the faithless times.  the times where i would prefer to just say “F-it.”  God shows up for me, and when i show up for him, life syncs.  and it did, this past weekend.

i feel blessed this morning.  grateful for the life experiences i continue to have.  grateful for the feelings i am able to feel.  when i was drinking and using, i felt nothing pure.  nothing but anger and resentment.  purity and truth did not exist in me.  i was fueled by my own potential demise.  today i get to feel from the inside out.  some feelings are painful, some bring warmth. i welcome them all, for they are new experiences for me now, and they remind me that i am alive.

life is good.

and then there were three:

 

thank you my friends.  and thank you God.  

xoxo

#CMO2012 National Coming Out Day

while trolling facebook early this morning, i was made aware that today is national coming out day.  In reading that, i became overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude.  gratitude for being “out.”  for being loved by those in my life for exactly who and what i am.  not everyone agrees with my sexuality, but most people in my life seem to accept it.  and for that, i am grateful.

i remember when i realized i was gay.  that feeling of uncertainty.  excitement.  a new energy that illuminated. i had just been intimate with a woman for the first time.  my body spoke to me.  and so did hers.  it was a feeling i had never experienced before.  i was 24 years old.  and my life was about to change.

i never quite felt right with men.  i was always “one of the guys.”  i had boyfriends and experiences with men throughout my younger life, but i never really felt intimately connected to them.  They were buddies, not really boyfriends.  i tried, but was unsuccessful at playing the heterosexual.  even when i thought i was heterosexual!

at 24, i was handed a gift.  and since then, i have found passion.  intimacy.  love.  expression.  with women.  i began to live with a deeper sense of authenticity.

my “coming out” experience was fairly organic.  one day, i was gay.  and from that day on, i have been gay and will forever be, from what i can tell.   life just naturally progressed in that direction for me.  i told my closest friends, who claimed to know i was gay before i did.  i slowly came out to my family.  that was the scariest and toughest part of outing myself.  like i said, not everyone agrees with my sexuality, but most seem to accept it.

i feel blessed to have the ability to live without fear of my sexuality.  i believe in expression of who i am. and being gay is a huge part of that expression.  it does not define me, but it is a permanent glowing impression on my blueprint.

happy #nationalcomingoutday to all. #cmo2012 #countmeout

 

 

 

 

my thoughts, my choice.

there are those days, many days, where i forget about the magic that is around me.  i wake up lost in my own darkness and lacking the willingness to find my way out. and without the willingness, i am unable to change my thinking and my perception.  thus i stay in the dark.  not present for my life, at all.  Those are the days i miss the magic.

When i am in this state, i don’t see you for who you are.  i don’t see the smile you pass to me.  the compliment you throw my way.  i don’t hear your voice in its real tone.  i don’t look you in the eyes.  and i certainly don’t appreciate you for who you are.  why you are here, and what you may have to offer humanity.

i don’t like when i am in this place.  the place where life goes on and i stand still, playing in my own sandbox full of self-pity.

what is the root of these dark feelings?  it’s simple really….me. me. me.  i usually get in this described head space if i am feeling badly about myself.  or if i am not getting what i want out of someone else.  or if something is not going as i had planned.  the dark place grows out of selfish behavior/thoughts.  it is so simple, yet i repeat the same thoughts over and over again, expecting different results.  insanity?  why yes it is.  it is, in fact, the definition of insanity.

the funny thing is, i very quickly diagnose the problem, and then choose not to make the necessary change in my thought process to get myself out of the ugly place i put myself in.  thus leaving myself to wallow in anger or disappointment.

as an alcoholic, i  love to sit in self-pity and play the victim.  it is my default mode.  having a little over a year of sobriety, i now know this.  and i also know that i have the choice to stay in it, or get the hell out of it and be present and happy in my life.  it’s a simple choice.  change my thinking.  change my perception.  and the magic returns.

trouble is, i don’t always choose to do that.

however, it’s nice to know the option is there.

showing up for life.

showing up for life seems like a rather simple concept.  but for an alcoholic like myself, showing up for life was difficult.  near impossible.  and rather terrifying.  that is why i drank.  life, and the people who make up life, were unapproachable to me.  and i drank to get away from it all.  to avoid showing up for reality and the people who lived in my reality.  when i was in a blackout, reality was not in sight.  and that was the goal.  that is where i wanted to be.

but it stopped working.  and that is when my life began.

i have entered my second year of sobriety, and things are quit different then they once were.  blackouts no longer exist in my world, and reality is at the forefront of every waking day.  life stares me down.  and i show up for it.  people are all around me.  i don’t run from them.  they need me, i show up for them.

i deal with life on life’s terms, not mine.

i am currently going through an emotional time with a very ill family member.  it’s been going on for a few years, but has recently become much more critical.  it’s hard to see.  hard to watch.  difficult to witness the suffering.  but it’s not about how hard it is for me.  it’s about showing up for her, and the rest of the family during this time.  it’s about being present through it all.  it’s about showing love and compassion.  it sounds so….logical doesnt it?  it is.  however, 1 year and 15 days ago, it wasn’t so logical for me to be there for my loved ones.  i resented having to show up.  i didn’t know how to deal with the feelings involved.  i ignored it all.  hid from it.  lied in order to not have to show up.  it wasn’t about my family back then, and their needs.  it was about me, and my selfishness.  my inability to deal.  the distance between me and my feelings.  i never want to be that person again.  ever.

through recovery and my sobriety, i am growing into the person i always wanted to be, but could never find.  the person i sought out through drugs and alcohol.   little did i know the distance between her and I only grew further the more i drank and used.  it’s hard to find yourself in a blackout!

im so grateful that today i am able to show up for myself.  i show up for my family, and my friends.  i show up for life.

yes, i have moments where the thought of “escape” sounds appealing.  spotlights shine down on the fantasy of disappearing from reality for a bit.  when those thoughts arise, i be sure to follow the story to the very end in my head.  cause its the end of the story that brought me to my bottom.  and i must never forget that.  when i think the drink through, i can let go of that fantasy with very little hesitation.  and i can rejoin my happy reality.

 

alcoholism changed me.  sobriety saved me.