i am enough.

i have a necklace that i wear everyday around my neck.  it reminds me that, the donna i am today, was yesterday, and will be tomorrow…is enough.  

getting sober is not always a ray of sunshine.   my eyes have been opened wide.  my heart has been exposed.  my feelings are in full force.  the reflection i see everyday can no longer be blackened by booze and drugs.  i have no choice but to really face donna, daily.  with that force of reality, i must accept myself and recognize, i am enough…just as i am.

do you have any idea how difficult that is to say…. for an addict like me?  i am a compare and despair kinda gal.  walking down the city streets, i look at the women trotting by.  no, not because i am a lesbian and am admiring their beauty.  i am staring at these women, comparing my outsides to their outsides.  i see thin and beauty in front of me, and i tell myself how i am not that.  i am too big.  not attractive enough.  getting old.  etc.  compare and despair…a phrase i learned in the rooms of AA.

i play the comparison game in other areas of life as well.  i am a photographer.  i look at photos all day for my day job.  and therefore, i begin to tell myself how amazing the photographers are that i am researching, and how un-amazing my work is.  compare and despair.

as difficult as it was for me to swallow the following concept prior to, and at the start of sobriety, i am able to grasp it now….these feelings and behaviors are all self-centered and ego based.  it still makes me cringe to say that.  why?  because overall i am an incredibly sensitive, kind-hearted, giving individual, who puts you way before me.  therefore i never thought i could be self-centered or have an overexposed ego.  but…this is not the truth, i now know.  comparing myself to you, and being so concerned about my appearance, is clearly me thinking about me and focussing on me.  damn ego.  

when this game of comparison occurs, i go into a very dark place.  a depression, if you will.  and it is not easy to get out of.  it’s comfortable.  it’s what i have known for so much of my life.  its false security.  it’s why i drank.  darkness was my friend, and still creeps in on occasion.  and it is up to me to crawl out of it.

now i have a little tool around my neck.  a gift from my cousin, who had no clue the impact this necklace would have on me.  i wear it everyday.  and when i begin to compare and despair…when i begin to tell myself i am not good enough… i look at the charms around my neck and remind myself…i am enough.

sobriety does not bring perfection.

but it brings the path to a new life, and a new love for life and for self.  and i am on that road now.

i consider it training.

and with everyday of training, my strength in sobriety, self-love, and self acceptance, gains the muscle needed to power down my ego, tame my self-hatred, and massage my self-love.

one day at a time.

i am enough.

 

 

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.

 

i forgot how to use a pen!

not really, but do you remember the last time you received a handwritten letter from someone?  or the last time you sent a hand written note to someone?  do you recall the days when getting the mail was exciting…..the possibility of a letter from a friend or family member?  or lover?  the anticipation?  or the surprise?  those days a re long gone.

random acts of kindness pledge-day 4:  writing a hand written letter to my best friend, sarah.

we have been friends since age 14.  we’ve laughed, screamed, cried, fought with such loud vocalizations, God was telling us to shut up.  thankfully we never really physically fought,  although we did once get into a physical brawl over a beer in high school.  go figure.  that was quite a funny scene as i recall.  teenagers!  we were trouble back in the day.

so… i was thinking of dear sarah, and decided to sit down and hand write a letter to her.  i wanted to be personal, and a text or email just didn’t feel personal.  we use to exchange “notes” in high school daily.  personal little letters.  with silly sketches and drawings.  it was so fun.  and the handwritten quality of the notes made them personal.  writing with a pen takes effort and more time then a text or email.  you have some thoughts.  you put them down, pen to paper.  stuff it in an envelope.  throw a stamp on and hand it to the postman.  the receiver gets your thoughts a few days later.  not instantly via text or email.   there is an excitement nowadays, i would imagine, when a letter is found in ones mailbox.  it is a nearly extinct practice today.

with all the advancement in technology, the human race has become much less personable.  less social.  less friendly.  and much less authentic.  there is no need to be as real anymore.  at least not socially. true face-time is limited for many these days. and im not talking about the video chat application.  im referring to real face to face time spent together talking.   luckily most people still need to show up for work and school, so there is some human interaction there.  but it is far less than it was 15 or 20  years ago.  everyone is hiding behind their online profiles.  there is no need to be real and truly personal today, cause we are able to hide behind the facade of a social presence…called facebook. pinterest.  twitter.  foursquare. and the like.  as well as text messages and emails.  it’s the perfect hideout, especially for introverts like myself.  i do it.  im guilty.

however, i don’t think its the healthiest way to “socialize.” or  to show kindness or sentiment.  some things should be left offline.  which brings me back to the hand written letter to sarah.  i could have easily sent her a text message saying “hey, thinking of you and missing you.”

blah.  in using that route all the time, the meaning gets lost after a while.

but a hand written letter, unexpected.  that my friends, will put a big smile on sarah’s face…i suspect.

and so my  4th random act of kindness has been completed.  and in writing that letter, i got a rush of great memories of our fun times together back in the day…before marriage, kids, careers, and life stepped in.  it felt good putting pen to paper.

 

i hope she doesn’t see this blog post before her letter arrives.

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…

 

 

random acts of kindness pledge-day 1

my journey towards being of service to others, bringing kindness to others, and finding my own gratitude in life, has begun.   365 days performing (at least) one random act of kindness daily…day 1.  it was a good day to begin, as i had a rough start upon awakening.  i needed to do something that would distract me from my own victim mentality and focus on someone else.

my dear friend and co-worker, elaine, loves dark chocolate covered ginger from the co-opportunity in santa monica.  so, on my way into work, i decided to stop by the co-op and grab her a treat for no good reason, other than i adore her and felt like making her smile that morning.  life can be tough and during those tough times, we can forget to use our smile muscles.  elaine needed to massage those muscles.  and i knew that.

i left the treat full of happiness on her desk and went about my business.  hopefully it made her feel a little extra loved…which she is.

i wonder what todays random act of kindness will look like?

the kindness commitment-365 DAYS

random acts of kindness.

a smile at a stranger.  the unexpected compliment.  offering a hug.  a hand written note.  a surprise home cooked (vegan) meal for your partner.

this has been a very strange week for me, emotionally.  i’ve been a tad bitter.  i’ve put expectations onto others, which always lead to disappointment.  i know better than that.  i’ve been selfish perhaps, with too much emphasis on my needs.  and in not getting what i feel i deserve or want, i turned cold.  maybe even a little passive aggressive.  such ugly qualities.  it’s that child in me screaming “i want! i want! i want!.”

i don’t like feeling this way at all.  it is an unattractive way for me to live.  an unpleasant position.  and i’d much prefer to simply be content and accepting of  life’s results throughout the day.  as i am not in control of them anyway, so why should i be controlled by them?

i have so much to be grateful for in my world.  so much to smile about.  yet i forget that when my mood takes over and my dark ego prevails, seeking fulfillment where fulfillment can’t possibly be found.

with that said, i decided i needed to come up with a way to bring my gratitude to the forefront daily.  a way to remind me of why we as a human race are here.  a way to take the focus off of me and my needs, and put that energy where it belongs…being of service to others, in a kind, gentle, human way.

so here is what i have decided to do:

I am committing to do more small acts of kindness.  at least one a day, for the next 365 days.  after that i am hoping it will just happen naturally, as it should.  i am a kind-hearted person, most of the time, and i love to help others and be kind to others.  however, i have a side that closes up quickly and when that happens, people know to get out of my way.  my friendly face goes into hiding.  i become unapproachable.  and i do not like it when that happens.  in fact, i can’t stand to be around myself when im in such ridiculous moods!

focussing on others through this new random act of kindness journey, will help me to stay away from that darker side, and focus on the good in me, and others.  it is really remarkable how when we take the focus off ourselves and help others…bring kindness to others…..our own mood and souls are given a warmth that is unexplainable.  it just feels right.  bring others kindness and your gratitude will blossom tenfold.  if you don’t believe me, follow me on this journey….

365 consecutive days of performing simple acts of kindness.

i will document the kindness daily on this blog.  and for a girl who lacks strength in commitment, this is a big pledge.  but i am on a journey of growth, so i am willing.  and i look forward to it.

I HOPE YOU WILL JOIN ME ON THIS PLEDGE TOWARDS MORE KINDNESS, SERVICE, AND GRATITUDE. ADD YOUR EMAIL AT THE TOP OF THIS BLOG WHERE IT SAYS “FOLLOW MY MIND VIA EMAIL” AND YOU WILL NEVER MISS A DAY ON MY JOURNEY TOWARDS MORE KINDNESS.  READY…SET….GO……..

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.

the habit of self-disclosure

how much is too much disclosure?  eh, i don’t think about that too often these days.  my life is much like a permanent tattoo on my once blank canvassed body.  i put it out there.  on facebook.  wordpress.  pinterest.  twitter.  if i press delete, it’s not really deleted.  it’s permanently out there.  and i don’t worry about it.  i’m not going to hide behind a false bravado any longer.  what you see, is what you get.  i’m a little bit of everything, all rolled into one.  i think that’s a song lyric.

hiding behind a false bravado and masked self brought me no real happiness.  it was actually quite stressful acting as someone i wasn’t.  i think i lost my true self in the process.  im certain i did.  not anymore.  the real donna is out and continues to be pieced together daily.  with the help of self-disclosure.

I’VE BEEN DOING THIS FOR TOO LONG:

i use to hide my addictions.  my fears.  my uncomfortable dispositions.  my thoughts and feelings.  my tears.  my opinions….  you get the idea.  and i hid it all behind what appeared to be a mysterious and confident girl who held her own.  so im told at least.

it wasn’t all false.  i still like to add a little mystery to my persona.  and i do have a confidence that is growing.  however todays confidence is real and not a fallacious coverup.

i say how i feel more often.  i am honest to myself and to you.  if im scared, i’ll acknowledge it.  if im angry, i’ll acknowledge it.  if im hurt, i’ll acknowledge it.  i live by reasonable self disclosure.  i say reasonable, because of course there are some things in life that may need to be gently coddled before disclosing to someone.  or a deeper trust may need to be built before sharing.

so………

i have gotten into the habit of self disclosure.  what does that me exactly?

Self-disclosure means that you allow yourself to be open. It means that you have enough trust and faith in others that you can share your life, your dreams, your pains, your desire, your frustrations, loves, goals, and passions with another human being.

In doing so, you are opening yourself up for great happiness. You are also opening yourself up for great pain. Self-disclosure is a double-edged sword. You should, and need, to be open with people, but you have to choose the people whom you trust enough to let into your life.—-www.netplaces.com

yes, i have been sliced by the double-edged sword for trusting people i should not have trusted with such personal information about myself.  but i refuse to let a few bad seeds stop me from this great path of honesty, love, and happiness.  i cannot be happy if i am not authentic with myself and honest with you about the person i present to you.  and so, i take the risk in life to share.  if i don’t, i will never feel connected.  thus i will never be really happy.

TMI…..i don’t think so.

i found a self disclosure test online from psychology today.  you can find it by clicking here:  psychology today

and below, my friends, are my results:

 

give the test a try.  it’s fun!

i’ve been unveiling layer by layer and showing you the real me.  it’s your turn.

TAKE OFF THE MASKS….and you will find a real happiness.