Friday, November 12, 2010

Just a sip

I became aware at last night's meeting that I was trying to control everyone and everything around me. I was telling someone else to lead the meeting, then taking over by telling that person everything they needed to do. One member suggested to me that we cut the reading short to accommodate more shares. I said no, then changed MY mind and told the leader to cut the reading short. Some of the men in the meeting were acting silly and I was feeling so chaotic ... I just was ill at ease with myself.
One of the things I am working on in my recovery is humility. A part of that is stepping back from being "the leader." With the help of working the Steps and the revelations of my Higher Power, I discovered I always put myself in positions of authority or leadership so that I can be in control of the outcome of most any situation. In doing this, I also separate myself from other people. I can cause others to feel intimidated. I can appear busy and inaccessible thus leaving me alone. And, oh how my addicted self loves the misery, loneliness and self-pity it finds in isolation. For it is in that isolation where I long for just a small foray into my diseased behavior. I rarely feel any desire to really get fully involved in my disease, but there are times on a regular basis that I feel so uncomfortable in my skin that I just want some release from the discomfort and pain of feelings and emotions -- simple ones even -- that I don't seem able to deal with.
Unfortunately, in sex and love addiction, like all other addictions, there is no such thing as "just a sip." If I go on to one of my old websites "just to see" what people are looking for or engaging in, I am participating in middle circle behaviors that will no doubt -- NO DOUBT -- lead to acting out. It's like an alcoholic sniffing the bottle of whiskey. I cannot begin conversations with past lovers or potential new lovers pretending to just want someone to talk to -- the equivalent of taking a sip of whiskey from a completely full bottle -- without finding myself fully involved, making plans, and eventually feeling deep regret and being forced to start all over again searching for some semblance of peace and serenity in an otherwise chaotic world.
Because of the cyclical nature of addiction, I have to be hypervigilant about maintaining my spiritual condition, identifying those moments when I'm feeling that life is spinning out of control and compelled to stop it by grasping anything and everything that can cause me to feel in control. It's important that I'm fully aware of those impulses, so that I can remind myself to give the reigns to my Higher Power. In order to do that, I need to get quiet and humble and prayerful and let the storm pass. It won't last forever. If I give in to that voice that says ... "Take just a sip, it will relieve the pressure. It's not going to hurt anything," I lose all access to my Higher Power, all access to manageability, and I find myself taking a sip that might never end.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and thank you for the wisdom to know the difference. May thy will, not mine be done.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Goals, Smoals

Forgive me a moment while I express some emotions that aren't really that positive, but should be expressed nonetheless.
I've heard all the theories that we are what we think, the things we focus on are the things we manifest, negative thoughts yield negative results, blah, blah, blah. The variations of the same message are endless. They even include the story of the Cherokee elder, which I love.
One evening, an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. 

He said, “My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all. One is Evil - It is anger, envy, jealousy, greed, and arrogance. The other is Good - It is peace, love, hope, humility, compassion, and faith. ”

The grandson thought about this for a while and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf wins?”

 To which the old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

I was listening to an audio presentation by Brian Tracy called "Goals" this morning. His basic premise, which is not a new one, is that without goals we are directionless. You know, the old adage, "If you don't know where you are going, you're going nowhere."
So as Tracy goes on and on about the process of getting clarity about what you want from life and doing one small thing every day to work toward those goals in all areas of your life, all I can think is, "What's the point?" I can set goals until the sun rises in the west, and tell myself I am going to work toward them every day, but in the end I know I will just give up. It will require more effort than I want to give or I will be more inclined to sleep than to exercise or go to class. I will get to work at my dream job and the computer will be sitting there, drawing my attention away from the things I want to achieve and before I know it, I'll be right back to square one -- feeling like absolute shit.
Clearly, I'm having an issue with self-confidence at the moment. It's been quite a battle for a long time. The disparity between the confident, ambitious, dependable, capable person and the person who simply feels like the only thing left to do is to give up is growing wider and wider, as my ass does the same. It is so frustrating. That higher self KNOWS that setting goals and achieving them and getting recognition for them builds self esteem, but the lower self asks herself again, "What's the point?" I suppose I believe that no matter what I work for, no matter what I achieve, it will never last, it will always be stolen from me and in the end, like all things, it will never, ever be enough.
Inside me somewhere right now is a voice crying out, "Challenge those negative thoughts! Ask them what right they have to be in your life? They aren't true and they sure aren't helpful." And when I "hear" that faint voice, still fighting for life, right now at this moment, all I can feel is tired. I just want to close my eyes and forget about these struggles, to slip into the nothingness that doesn't include goals or ambitions, the place where there is no fight left. I am sad to say that at this moment, that is the place that feels safe.
Truth is, I know that in that place I go much deeper into darkness, into the place where the attempts to feel alive become desperate and more risky. Risk is the only thing that brings a spark of life in those moments. Then comes incredible regret, that insatiable desire to just be "normal," the resurfacing of the struggle, even stronger and more insistent than before. The addictive cycle, the clinicians call it.
As I sit here, I struggle with a dozen things: whether to go to a meeting or stay home with my husband who I am sure will be too tired to deal with me once he gets home, but not too tired to be irritated that I chose something else over him. I struggle with my lack of desire to fix a healthy meal and my guilt in ordering some overpriced takeout that is not healthy. I struggle with the need to go to the gym, fix dinner, get ready for the meeting, take care of my pets, return program calls, and again, the desire to just lay down and say fuck it all.
I know I won't feel these things in an hour or two, but I do know they will be back. I suppose my true desire is that I live at peace with myself and my decisions and that I be happy with life no matter how much effort it takes. I'm not there today and the best I can do is acknowledge that and get up and do the next right thing and realize that nothing is going to go wrong today that is going to kill me and if something does kill me, the struggle will be over and I can quit bitching.
Grateful to be alive one more day. Grateful to be honest with myself and others. Grateful that my life is filled with all kinds of feelings, and I can experience them as they come without overreacting.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Searching for me

As I read Bernadine's letter to her trauma recovery therapy (TRT) group at Et tu husband? I thought how good it was to witness someone come out on the other side of the struggles of a recovery cycle.

Bernadette wrote in her departing letter to her TRT group,"I had known about (my husband's) addiction for a year and a few months when I started the group.
By then, the person I had been -- was gone."

Later in her letter she wrote, "I realized, just this last weekend, that I’m back to me now."

Oh how I long to be "back to me."

I had occasion recently to correspond with several people from a life before the one in which I've found myself for the past seven years. They know someone I once was -- a confident, testy, fun, hard-working, competent and talented leader and fellow employee. They know the person I long to be again, and would be so surprised to know this depressed, fearful, struggling individual that sometimes loses sight of hope.

By the time I came here to write my confessions in May 2004, the person they knew was long gone. I had no idea where she had gone or how she got lost, but OMG was she gone.

It occurs to me almost fleetingly here that perhaps the fact that I am pursuing a lost dream rather than a brighter future messes with my ability, at times, to be satisfied with the present and encouraged by the journey.I idolize that upwardly mobile young professional that I once was, and see myself today as a mere shadow of what I once was. I literally fucked myself into a feeling of worthlessness and self-pity that I grow so tired of, so restless with, and at times so attached to, I don't now how to move on.

I was talking yesterday afternoon with a recovery friend about this issue, about the fact that I felt a whole lot better before my recovery began than I have felt during its process. Don't get me wrong, I am very grateful that I am in recovery, that I am trusting the process, that I am experiencing a "balancing out" of life. Without the tools of recovery to guide me as I have worked with (and at times against) my Higher Power and support system to put my life back together again, I have no doubt I would not be alive. No doubt. I feel grateful that I am alive even with the recovery process and support to lift me up.

Through a whole series of metaphors, my friend helped me connect to the fact that I am not recovering from a series of bad choices and behaviors -- I am recovering from a system of values and beliefs that have been my means of coping with deep-seated underlying realities that were too painful to bear at some earlier time in my life.

My friend asked me "If you were to vow to never let anything pass your lips again that would prevent you from achieving and maintaining your healthy weight, would that be hard or easy to achieve?" Silly me took a while to think about that question. As usual, I was trying to find the "right" answer. But, of course, it would be as hard as hell. I love food. I love sweets. I love sharing food with friends and sharing the pleasures of new restaurants and new tastes. Throw in all the factors associated with my attachment to myself as a fat person, and you've got a complete revamping of my entire life. There is no way that is going to be easy. No way. And my skewed relationship with food and fatness barely even scratches the surface of the massive jumble of misguided, disproportional, and damaged thoughts, feelings and forces that I have absorbed and incorporated into my life over the years. There is so much more.

So, for today, I give myself, my recovery process and my God the time that is required, the patience that is needed to go through these fundamental changes.