it’s been 11 months since my last hangover…double-u-tee-eff!

today marks 11 months of sobriety for me.  seriously a miracle.  and i feel very lucky to be where i am today.  sober.  grateful.  and for the most part, happy to see the morning light when i awake.  wow.  times have changed.

i read  an article in the NY times this morning about the “hijacked brain” being used more and more as a description for addicts.  i related so much to that description.  think about it…when you envision being hijacked, what is it that you see…that you feel?  for me…similarly described in the article…i imagine a person, with a mask and a weapon, probably in all black, who forces control over a car, plane or train.  the hijacker may not be the one who drives the plane, car, or train, but with his/her violence, there is no doubt who has the power and control in the hostile situation.  and why do hijackers hijack?  one main reason would be because they need to escape, get away, or use the vehicle as a weapon in a far greater scheme.  hijacking is only geared towards the needs of the hijacker.  innocent people are torn away from their normal everyday lives, by the agitation and forced intrusion of the hijacker. hmmmm…sounds so very familiar!

let’s examine further….

compare the above description of the hijacking scenario to the “hijacked brain” of an addict.  the brain becomes an innocent victim of drugs and alcohol…which overtake the brains normal chemical/behavioral  responses, therefore hijacking it.  taking over control.  taking over the body and the mind.  the person is now powerless over themselves.  fascinating!

even after the “high” is gone, the addicts brain is under attack, as it is constantly chasing the high.

in the simplest form, this basically means…..

i am powerless over drugs and alcohol (among other things!).  with that first drink or drug, my brain becomes hijacked, and i become overtaken by the insanity of the hijacker…be it cocaine, alcohol, etc. i loose all control over mind and body.

thank god…i know longer have to deal with such an overwhelming lack of control.  i’ve taken my life back….  the bad guys are no longer welcome.

so what has changed & what have i learned  in the past 11 months?

1.  i do not suffer from that incomprehensible demoralization any longer.

2.  i do not hate the girl in the mirror any longer.

3. i am able to love myself more often than not.

4.  i no longer have hangovers.

5.  i always remember the events that took place the night before.  i remember who i was with.  how i got home. etc.

6.  i’ve learned to have compassion for myself, and others.

7.  i’ve learned to be of service to others in order to find happiness within myself.

8.  i’ve really gotten to know my ego.  and i have put him in his place.

9.  i’ve completed 11 of the 12 steps which are changing my life daily.

10.  i’ve learned what love really feels like.

11.  i feel everything! every emotion.  and i am learning to love it.  even the painful feelings.

12.  i’ve learned to not judge.

13.  i’ve learned the power of compassion and kindness.

14.  i’ve learned the importance of friendship and the dangers of isolation.

15.  i’ve realized staying calm brings me closer to serenity, and acting hysterical takes me further away.

the list really can go on…

the most important thing i have learned, however, is do not take that first drink or drug…no matter what!  

so today i celebrate myself for:

11 months

336 days

8,065 hours

of continuous sobriety!

random act of kindness-8

description of random act of kindness #8-  noticing someone in distress, and taking the time to help them out.

it’s the tiniest acts of kindness that have the biggest impact.

so give a helping hand…don’t walk by blindly.

here i am in NYC, where there is constant construction it seems, and detours in and out of the buildings and stores…or just “stuff” in the way.  i was at the gap store yesterday, returning some shorts i decided i didn’t need.  at the register, im gazing off as the employee is making my return, and i see out of the corner of my eye a young woman, struggling with the door to get out of the store.  she had a very large baby stroller, of course with a baby lying in it.  this particular gap store is located right on the sidewalk, with a large step to get in and out of the entrance door…construction going on around it…not very convenient entrance or exit for a baby stroller (or a disabled person for that matter).

so rather than stand there and watch this poor woman struggle, or act as if i do not see whats happening, i chose to walk away from my transaction at the gap register, and take a second or two to help this poor woman with the door.  “lets start over, i said to her.  back up, and i will go outside and hold the door for you.”  she was outside and on to her next destination with in seconds.

that was easy.

and the woman was grateful for the help.  and i was happy to have assisted.  why sit back and watch or ignore people around us who might need a little assistance?  most people do just that…ignore it.  can’t be bothered.  they are in a hurry.  too busy.  etc.  i’m guilty…i’ve ignored before.  but it’s never too late to turn things around.  and i hope that is what i am doing with my life now…

living in compassion for myself and others.  being of service to you.  staying out of my own head.  out of my own way.  living in gratitude…

being kind to my fellows.

and in doing so, staying sober, one day at a time….in kindness.

a random act of kindness for donna-day 5

we need to be kind to ourselves.  we are our own worst enemies…you’ve all heard that statement before.  it screams truth.  i am my own worst enemy, without a doubt.

random act of kindness #5:  today i am having compassion for myself.  giving myself a break for my mistakes/behavior.

i started this RAOK pledge because of the way i have been feeling, or rather, acting as of late.  not feeling myself.  acting abrasive.  losing my smile.  expressing a lack of gratitude as well as a lack of kindness towards others (and myself).  and being kind towards others, helps take me out of my own head…which ultimatley is where i have disappeared to.

i’ve been hard on myself for my recent behavior.  beating myself up for my actions, reactions,  and feelings.

this morning, on an early morning bike ride, i processed some important details about my life and what i have put myself through in the past 10 months.  let’s review:

1.  i found sobriety and stopped drinking. began recovery. (10 months  and 20 days ago)

      2.  i quit smoking, after smoking 2 packs a day for more than half my life! (6 months and 5 days ago)

      3.  i went off of my antidepressants.  being flatlined by meds is not my definition of living.  i wanted to really feel life again. (about one month ago)

      4.  transformed into a full-fledged vegan. (about 7-8 months ago)

those 4 things are big life changes.  huge.  and it is not recommended to make so many drastic changes all at once.  especially when newly sober!  but being the good alcoholic i am, that is the way i operate.  all or nothing.  that’s my personality.

as i was riding my bike along the beach this morning, i thought about all of those amazing positive changes i have made in my life, and how much success i have had in my growth as a sober, non-smoking, un-medicated, vegan human being.  but the success does not come without challenges and mountains to climb , lose balance on, and roll down face first.

emotional stress.  emotions period.  they can cause me and my happy- go- charming mood to vanish into a black hole.  and that is what has happened.  im human.  and i am emotionally overwhelmed, perhaps.  my body is changing from the inside out.  brain chemicals are being depleted and regenerated, in the attempt to find a natural balance for me.  my feelings are surfacing tenfold, without the erroneously zen presence of zoloft and wellbutrin.  i can’t run to the vodka if i become irritable or discontent.  sad or hurt.  happy or eager.  instead, i must sit with those feelings.  and as we know, bad/uncomfortable feelings are not always fun to sit with and ride through.

therefore, i am giving myself a break for being a little dark and abrasive, or sad and uncertain in the past couple of months.  life is not always a series of clean smells and warm weather days.

so here i am, giving myself a well deserved pat on the back, coupled with some personal compassion and forgiveness of self.  my random act of kindness for the day.

give yourself a break!

and with each smokeless, vegan, un-medicated passing day of sobriety, my smile and feelings of gratitude grow back.  patience with personal growth is not an innate quality for me….but i am training.

 

random acts of kindness pledge-day 2

random act of kindness #2 description:  picking up the tab for dinner with my dear friend katie.

why?  because i felt like it.  it’s nice to take out a friend and treat them to coffee or a meal, coupled with friendly catch up time and conversation!  it was a lovely couple hours spent at one of my favorite places to eat, swingers.

what did i have to eat, you ask?  the vegan cobb salad. i give it 5 out of 5 stars for sure!  oh yeah and one whole wheat vegan pancake on the side.  i couldn’t resist.

let’s review the day, and why this random act benefitted me and helped my sobriety and sanity.  it’s a holiday today…memorial day.  a monday.   most people have the day off from work and spent the day perhaps at the beach, or BBQ-ing with buddies, etc.  i spent the day working.  no complaints, that’s life.  it happens.  however by the time i got out to see my friend katie for an early dinner, i had a little bit of a resentment brewing in me, and a little bit of a pity party having a dance off in my head…all because i felt sorry for myself for having had to spend all day indoors on my computer.  but once i got out and in good company with katie, i began to get out of my personal pity bash and out of my own head by asking about katie.  and how she is doing.  yes, my life was discussed as well, but we shared our lives with each other, and all in the world was good.  although this particular random act of kindness was paying for our meals in the end, the real kindness came from katie..her friendship…and the joy that comes with a simple meal and some friendly conversation.  so thank you katie…for being you.

and really, im grateful to have my job and i didn’t mind all that much working today, of course.  i just lost hold of my gratitude momentarily.

here is katie at the awesome swingers diner….

all of this helps me stay out of my own head, be of service to others, stay in gratitude, and stay sober!

more random acts to come…

 

 

i’m taking back my power

one of my biggest emotional challenges in life is to not let you control my happiness.  not let how you are feeling, determine how i will feel.  i have a really bad habit of absorbing other people’s energy, and making it my own.  so if a co-worker, or friend, or lover is angry, sad, defeated, hurt, etc., and i am in their presence, my mood can change in an instant.  i can go from giggly and happy, to very serious and dark in no time at all. i turn my power over to others when i let them control my happiness and my emotional behavior….based on their own happiness and emotional behavior.

the other way i donate my power to others is by being so concerned with how you feel about me.  i’m an alcoholic, and like many alcoholics, i am a major people pleaser.  i’ve improved, but i still have this pleasing need in me.  if i feel like you are mad at me or upset at me for some reason, the thought will consume me.  it will affect every molecule in my body.  and i become miserable until the situation is sorted out, or until i find out that i am actually not the cause of your disappointment or anger.  most of the time i haven’t actually done anything that i am aware of to piss anyone off, but because you might be acting “off” today, and not so friendly, happy, or the like, i will assume you are mad at me.  it’s really selfish and self-centered thinking. again..the alcoholic mind.  it is not all about me.  i do not affected your life.  why would i even think i had such power?  crazy ego-based thinking.  hey, at least i can recognize it nowadays.

why is it so hard for me to just control my own happiness and my own emotional behavior?  and not hand it over to you?  I’ll tell you why….at least in part…..it’s because of the underlying fear of rejection, abandonment, and dislike from others.  this goes way back into childhood and my experiences as a youngster.  without going into a long drawn out story, i will leave it at this….kids were cruel and tossed a lot of rejection my way.  some psychologists might also blame this fear of rejection on the fact that i was given up for adoption as a baby.  i question that.  but i don’t discount it entirely.  with that said, i simply don’t want you to reject me as a human being and toss me aside.  so i don’t want you to have any ill feelings towards me.  and if i feel you might, it consumes me…it’s a vicious cycle.  and it’s no fun.  and really, handing you the responsibility of my own happiness is just not cool.

but this behavior of mine is manageable.

it’s manageable now because i recognize this life long pattern when it begins to creep up on me.  i talk about it (or write about it).  and since i can feel it coming on, i have the ability to stop the insanity from progressing and ruining the beautiful day ahead of me.  of course, sometimes my self-centered and generally false beliefs still gets the best of me and i have trouble getting out of my own misery.  but more times than not, i am able to dig myself out before it’s too late.

basically, i am becoming more and more autonomous.  it’s that simple.  im letting you off the hook, my friends.

i am the only one in control of my happiness and my emotional behavior.  maybe i should tattoo that on my forehead.

signed. sealed. delivered.

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in the end. i’ll turn it all over, with no hesitation. no fight. no regret. at least i hope i will.

in the end of what?

the end of today. the end of tomorrow. the end of this very moment. and now this one. the end of a relationship. the end of my career. the end of my beloved fish or family dogs. the end of my flight home. or the one to new york. the end of a fight. or the end of a love. the end of this week. this month. this year. the end of life.

signed. sealed. delivered. i’ll turn it over.

this is how i want to live my life moment to moment. do the next indicated thing. stay out of the results. turn it over to a power greater then myself. brush off any wounds. and continue forward. until there is no more forward. and when there is no more forward that i recognize, i’m convinced there will be a new journey. a new beat. a new dance to learn. and a new love to give.

God, grant me the serenity.
to accept the things I cannot change.
the courage to change the things I can.
and the wisdom to know the difference.

most things i am confronted with, or that i confront, I cannot change. but I try to anyway. and when i do bump into a rare changeable circumstance, ifind my courage to be lost in hiding.

donna, accept the things….most things in life….you cannot change. just do the next indicated thing, and turn the rest over.

donna, be courageous and make a change if it’s changeable. if you feel the need. if its in your heart. make the move and stay out of the results.

live in the moment. in the now. it’s so powerful…rewarding….and much less painful. yesterday is gone and tomorrow may never exist.

you are of no use to the past or the future. just the now.

live it.

and then…let it end. the moment.

signed. sealed. delivered.

be happy. be free. and have faith.

Life is not your responsibility.

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the illusion of time

as eckhart tolle says, time is an illusion, and we should learn to live in the present or ‘eternal now’.

the sentence you just read was a moment in your time that is now gone and this sentence you are reading now is your present which is soon to be your past.  don’t start thinking about the next sentence until you are reading it, cause living in the future is never a good thing.  our minds have been trained to think in terms of past, present, and future.  therefore, we become so preoccupied on what was and what isn’t yet, that we forget about what is.  and that is right now.

sounds chaotic, but it isn’t really.  it’s all about staying in the now.  staying present.  being present in your life.  and not dwelling on what just happened or what has yet happened.

it took me awhile to understand this concept.  and i still trip up on it now and again.  i likely forever will.  but i do think i now have a tight grip on the idea of ‘now’, which has helped my life grow less complicated.  less stressful.  less dramatic.  and not so consumed with fear.  when i am living in the  future, i am living in fear.  no doubt. and if i am living in the past, i am most likely sitting in regret or guilt.

i am not saying that the future doesn’t need some attention…like planning for trips or business ventures, babysitters, etc.  what i am talking about is stressing over the interview you have next wednesday, or the project you have due tomorrow.  rather than focus all your energy on those future “stresses,” focus on this very moment, do the next indicated thing, and tomorrow will come when it’s suppose to.  right now it’s just an illusion.

rather than dwell on the fight you had with your girlfriend yesterday, and play the arguing conversation in your head over and over, let it go.  apologize for your actions and your part in it, and set that moment in time free.  it no longer exists.  it is but an illusion.

 

what a relief.  i no longer have to stress about what i did yesterday, or fear what i will do or need to do tomorrow.  i am allowed to just focus on this very moment, the eternal now.  life is so much less complicated that way.  and it’s funny how things just fall into place when you live your life in this logical, orderly manner.

i can look forward to something in the future, or be grateful for or sorry for an experience in the past, but i am no longer consumed by those illusions in time.  they are no longer real, or have not come to life yet.  the only truth in time is this very moment.  and that moment has now become the past.

 

so live in the now.  it’s the fear free, guilt free, regret free, more serene way to live.

 

 

can you make love to your apple device?

i bet there is an app for that! 

so i had to look.  and sure enough…

im not certain how i feel about the above app.  so i will not say anymore about it.

my iphone, ipad, and laptop macbook pro do not have a pulse.  they can not take a breath.  yet i have treated them as if they do.  these technological devices had become my main means of social interaction.  and for an introvert like myself, i welcomed this illusion of a social environment.  why?  because they made me feel “a part of” in areas i never felt “a part of” before.

that probably sounds a bit pathetic.  but im all about honesty in my life today, so if the truth makes me appear pathetic to you, then so be it.  however, i suspect i am not the only one who feels like they are finally a “part of “ this newly impersonal society we live in.  i might just be more apt to admit it and share it publicly then the next person.

i have never liked to talk on the phone.  today i (generally) don’t have to.  i can text.  i can email.  or facebook you.

for most of my life i never felt secure, safe, or comfortable with you in a room, or in a room full of many “youse”.  or sitting at the dinner table with you.  i found a solution for that.  social media.  i could  now feel comfortable walking into your world…your timeline via facebook or twitter.  i can see you from a distance and i can tell you how i feel without actually speaking to you.  i can watch your wedding.  the birth of your first child. your kids growing.  their first puppy.  your first divorce.  breakups. etc.  i can find out your interests via pinterest or your wordpress blog.  i can learn about your professional life via linkden or branchOut.  basically, i can be a part of your life without ever actually physically seeing you. touching you. hugging you, or hearing your voice. etc.

it’s rather incredible.  and on the other hand, it is rather sad.  I am almost 36 years old.  im not so concerned with myself and my lack of social abilities.  but the youngsters in the world are missing out on the vital practice of social interaction.  real human interaction is crucial for physical, mental, and spiritual growth and development.  in my opinion, kids are being stunted by the lack human to human interaction and contact.  i was born socially inept.   after all, i am an addict/alcoholic which breeds social anxiety, awkwardness and fear.  but for those born without the alcoholic gene or disposition, real human interactions can only be beneficial.

for those of you who have been keeping up with my blog, you know many changes are slowly and rapidly occurring with me.  one of which is my ability to socialize a little better.  my mouth no longer ALWAYS feels stapled shut when in a room with you.  i might not be little miss social butterfly, but i have improved and my comfort zone has widened.  basically, i am not relying on social media/networks to stay “connected” to the human race any longer.  i still use it.  in fact, i think i use it more now than before.  but that is because my interest in you and my interest in life has blossomed.  and social networks are still the best way to keep track of you.  but i don’t have to rely on them any longer to feel “a part of” this world.  to feel “a part of” the human race. 

REAL PEOPLE. REAL SOCIAL INTERACTION. oh yeah…and REAL SMILES.

i think social networking is fabulous and beneficial in many ways.  but for awhile there it was my only form of “interaction,” and that interaction is really just a grand illusion. now i use these platforms more for information about you, not for the illusion of intimacy.  intimacy in my life now comes from real contact in human relationships.  i now know that i can’t really feel connected to you unless i can look you in the eyes.  hear the tone of your voice. and even give you a warm hug, expressing the joy i have for knowing you are in my life.  my tangible life, not my online story.

i was a fictional character in my non-fictional life

what does it really mean to be honest with oneself?

as i grow in sobriety,  and grow in life, i am being faced with a lot of unseen, hidden truths.  more shall be revealed, as they say.

the importance of being honest with myself, is one area that i am constantly learning about.  working through.  and becoming better at.  honesty with oneself is not as simple as it may sound.

i have found that there is so much to be seen within my story.  i have to look in dark places and take many unexpected dives in order to see the truth in my story.  there are many angles to be examined.  to be seen.

with much experience and practice, i  learned how to convey myself, carefully hidden.   for security as well as deception.  so many years of this protection and deceit blinded me from what is actually uncensored within me.  and as i slowly tear down the walls and face the truths, i am forced to confront a quiet awareness.  it feels like my naked skin is being peeled off, layer by layer.

it is terrifying.  staring at my naked self.  this quiet self awareness.

i have always been aware of many of my imperfections.  but to be this exposed means i have many more defects of character to unveil.  and for most of my life, with great skill, i have hidden my defects with fictional characters played by myself.  act after act.  layers of misleading stories.  i hid behind those curtains because i must have believed the truth needed to be covered.

i’m exhausted.  tired of covering up what i fear i am.  it’s not so easy to hide from my defects, since sobriety kicked in.  my truths are now right in front of me, staring right at me. and right through any layers i might try to hide behind.

i now have a conscious self-awareness. and it is honest. i am free.

here are a few ways that help me try to be honest with myself (it’s a work in progress and i am by no means a master at this):

i hold myself accountable for my behavior.  i make my own choices.  i choose my own actions.  i make my own decisions.  and i am accountable for them.   if i did something or said something, i most likely meant to do it.  even if i tell you i didn’t mean to do it.  so if my behavior is off-balance and shameful, i must take responsibility and own up to it.  if that means an apology to someone is in order, i will give a sincere apology.

i’ve stopped throwing blame.  if i am blaming you then i am not facing myself with honesty.  i’ve learned that blame = avoidance.  as long as i feel the need to blame someone else or blame something else, then i am avoiding some truth within and i am living in fear.

i take an inventory daily (rather i TRY to take one daily).  i review my day.  was i dishonest?  unkind?  moody? spiritually disconnected? etc.  if i was any of the above, i address it immediately.  or asap.  if i don’t deal with immediate issues, they will become problems.  and once they have grown to problems, i find ways and reasons to blame.  i wallow in excuses and my actions become justified.  if i deal with my poor behavior head on, i am more likely to take responsibility for my part in it.  my eyes are sure to see clearer that way.

i expose my naked self. and i do so from a place of love.  i reveal my true story.  i no longer play myself as a fictional character.  this is the true me you see today. take it or leave it.  im not going to lie to you or to myself by trying to be someone or something i am not.  i only do that when i am living in fear, and today my goal is to live in truth.

there is so much more to be said on this topic.  and i am sure to discuss it further in later posts.  it’s a powerful subject, if you are willing to dig deep and be exposed.

self honesty is the key to freedom.  think about it.

i would have smoked 5,816 cigarettes

if i did not quit smoking 4 months and 24 days ago.  that is a lot of cigarettes i would have smoked.  this brings us to key fact #8 about donna.

8.  i am a recovering smoke-aholic.  

i started smoking at age 13 (maybe 14).  i remember that first cigarette i stole from a fellow family member of mine.  the buzz was amazing.  i was floating.  and i was in love.  and from that day forward, i was a smoker.  by the time i was 15 years old i was smoking nearly a pack a day.  later turning into two packs a day.  i was chasing that first buzz, and i never found it again.  i chased it for 22 years.

hello, my name is donna and i am an addict.

i am an addict of grand proportions.  i was born this way.  i am an all or nothing kinda gal.  there is no “in-between” for me.  if i am going to drink, i am going to black out.  if i am going to do drugs, i am going to ingest 3 times the amount any human should.  if i am going to eat (in hiding) i am going to eat 3 times the amount any one person should in one sitting.  if i am going to drink coffee i will drink 4 shots of espresso at a time, sometimes 6.  if i am going to fall in love, i will do so with all of me, nothing less.  but the latter isn’t such a bad quality.  :)

with that said, it doesn’t surprise me that as a smoker, i inhaled two (or more) packs a day for more than half of my life.  i smoked when i had strep throat.  i smoked when i had bronchitis.  i woke up every two hours during sleep time to smoke.  in my old apartment, where i allowed myself to smoke indoors, i “slept smoked.”  i was actually asleep while smoking in my bed.  im lucky i didn’t burn the place down with me in it.  i did burn a few holes in my sheets.  insanity.

wow.  my life sure has changed.

today i am a recovering smoke-aholic.  i say “recovering” because i treat my smoking addiction like i treat my alcoholism.  i am powerless over cigarettes.  just as i am powerless over drugs and alcohol.  i will for ever be in recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction.  and i will forever be in recovery for my smoking addiction.  i can become a full-fledged smoker again at any moment, if i don’t work to stay smoke free.  just as i can become a full-fledged active alcoholic at any moment if i pick up that first drink.  there is no difference between the two addictions.

once an addict, always an addict.  it’s that simple.

im so grateful for the growth in my sobriety….from drugs.  alcohol.  and cigarettes.

thanks for stopping by.

till next time….