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…

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

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

today marks one year SOBER!

7-11 has a nice ring to it.  todays date marks 365 days of clean blood running through my veins.  no alcohol.  no drugs.  one year of dealing with life on life’s terms.  feeling every prick and prong.  earning every tear and smile.  i am nothing short of a miracle.

what was i doing on this exact day, one year ago…?

i woke up with a beating headache.  my attempt to not drink the night before turned into a high-caliber blackout.  i woke up on 7-11-11 with that horrible feeling of incomprehensible demoralization.  what had i done?  what had i said?  where is my car?  how did i get home?

and then came the phone call from my dear friend, who i shall call beth.  she reminded me of my behavior the night before….and the pieces began to come together.

here is the short story:  i was  hanging out with a few friends. started off at a restaurant in venice beach and ended at a backyard bonfire.  where i attempted with drunken passion to turn my straight girlfriend gay. sounds rather humorous, and i can laugh about it with beth, now.  but at the time it wasn’t so funny.   i wanted what i wanted when i wanted it.  that was me, drunk.  not attractive, at all.  i wasn’t violent or anything like that.  but i was aggressive with my words and was often seductively persuasive. not classy at all.   i was known for taking straight girls to the dark side for a night.  (there were some good times!  ha ha ha)  but this night was a big FAIL.  and i m grateful it was…as this was/is a very dear friend of mine and i had no business saying what i said and acting as i did.   i will spare you the details…but when alcohol entered my blood stream, there was no telling what would happen.  what i would say or do.  who i would take home or go home with.  how i would get home.  if i would get home.  this night was no different from the rest.  and like most mornings after, i woke up drowning in humiliation.  completely exhausted.  sick.  stricken with a deep self-hatred that never seemed to escape me.  i wanted nothing more than to hide from the world and all the people in it.  a typical feeling for me during my drinking days.  i hated who i was.  what i stood for.  i hated the feelings that overwhelmed me.  i hated your happiness.  and i wallowed in my misery.  that was donna exactly one year ago.

can you say GRATEFUL?  i am so grateful today that i do not have to live that way any longer.  i don’t wake up in the mornings with that loathing self-hatred.  my memory isn’t taken from me any longer by booze and drugs.  my actions are in control.  my words and my behavior are manageable today.  and most importantly, i feel love for donna.  the spiritual depletion i felt 365 days ago is replenishing in me.  i didn’t know how to feel before.  i didn’t want to feel.  experiencing my feelings was way too much for me to handle.  living life on life’s terms was not a choice for me while i was drinking.  my world was unmanageable.  one year later i can say with confidence, that i truly experience every possible emotion and feeling that crosses my path.  and i take it in with pleasure.  painful or otherwise.  i absorb it and i live through it.  and i am grateful for that.  life is worth living when i do so on life’s terms…not mine!

what i know today:  i know now that it’s the first drink that gets me drunk.  so i stay away from the first drink.  i know now that once alcohol is in my blood, i have no control over donna any longer.  i know i will end up right back where i was 365 days ago…hating myself and everyone in my line of vision….if i should choose to drink again. i know i need to go to AA meetings in order to stay sober.  I know i need to work the steps daily, as best i can.  I know i need to keep a close relationship with my HP.  i know i have an allergy of the body and mind.  i know my head speaks louder than my mouth.  and most of the time, my head is lying to me.  i know now that most troubles in my life are born from fear.  i know how to feel today.  i know what it means to be authentic.  i know how to love and be loved.  or at least im better at it then i was before sobriety. i know what it’s like to be in the moment.   i know how to live today.  it’s not a life without problems, but it’s a life with an authentic truth that allows for pain, challenges, happiness, and laughter, successes and failures….it’s a life worth living.

my name is donna, and I am an alcoholic… with one year of sobriety!!!

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.

random act of kindness-7

random act of kindness #7 description:  hanging out with little B.

little B, is one of my favorite dogs (not my dog).  i noticed she was alone in the yard for a while recently.  she enjoys hanging out in the sunny outdoors….sunbathing. but little B likes to socialize with people as well, like most animals do.  so i had some free time and decided to go hang out with her for a bit in the sunshine.

we played a little…

and enjoyed the sun together…

so random act of kindness #7 was again shared with an animal.  they deserve kindness and love too!  being of service doesn’t only apply to the human race…

random act of kindness-6

hey dude, your meter has expired!

and in santa monica, ca….that is a big no no!  you can’t get away with that for too long before a ticket is nicely placed on your car windshield.

random act of kindness #6 description:  feed the meter for someone.

i was walking out of my local grocery store and i noticed a flashing expired meter.  usually not a big deal, except there was a car parked in that spot, and a meter worker not far down the road, i noticed.  it was only a few minutes before 6pm, which is the hour you no longer have to feed the meter.  it’s also the most likely time to get a ticket, in my experience.  3 minutes shy of the cutoff time.  they are slick ticket givers.  hey…the meter workers are just doing their job, i get it.

anyway, so there i am having noticed the meter expired, and having noticed the meter worker coming on down the line.  so i had two choices, walk away…as it’s not my problem, really.  OR , throw a coin in the meter for whoever was parked there….saving them from a 70 dollar ticket for a 3 minute mistake.

so i threw some money in the meter and went about my merry way.  felt great.  i have no clue who the owner of that parked car was.  and i never will.  but i did a good deed for them.  and i don’t need them to know it.

the best acts of kindness are done without any recognition.  because it’s then that you know you are doing them for no outside reason…you want nothing in return.  damn, that feels good.