Day 81 – Embracing my feelings as a human being

Today, I met with my realtor about putting the house on the market.  I also talked through my financial situation with an accountability partner – sizing up the reality that is facing me.  I got through everything fine.  Oh wait – what does FINE stand for?  Fucked up, insecure, neurotic and emotional.  Or something like that…  I wasn’t that bad!  It’s just that fine is about as descriptive as interesting, or good or nice.

This evening, I had plans to go to a meeting.  But after cooking dinner and singing/dancing to some fun music, I laid down on the bed to rest.  My mind started wandering…and soon I was throwing myself a small pity party. It was slowly creeping up on me.  I started to feel it…funk funk…  Next thing I know, I didn’t want to get out for my planned meeting!

I text’d a brother “MS” from the program and got my fix. He reminded me that when we don’t feel like going is exactly when we need to go!  For me, it’s the equivalent of my insulin shot…hitting a meeting. And where I am now…getting through my changes and losses…I need it daily!!!  If I skipped an insulin shot or two as a diabetic, I could die.  If a skip a meeting or two right now, I could die.

My accountability partner caught me getting too wrapped up in making money – in having a job – in having a plan.  Until my first court date in April, there’s not much point in making too many plans.  In order to become a “productive member of society” as the text tells us, I must work on my recovery.  He rightfully challenged me to stop worrying about not working.  Like many, I place too much of my identity in my work – on what I do, or how much I make.  That’s changing – for the better.  I’m learning to value me for who I am – and others for who they are.  But, change is uncomfortable – unsettling – unfamiliar!  Recognize it…and work through it.  It will take time – and practice.  Now’s my time to practice!  What a gift!

Not so long ago (!) I talked about recognizing the desire and need to be a human being rather than a human doing.  What does that really look like?  Well, right now – it means being grateful that for awhile, I have the means to not have to focus on getting a job.  With some savings and equity in my home, he helped me figure out about how long that could be.  That provides some relief — some space to “be.”  I need to focus on my recovery – strengthening my foundation through meetings, workshops/working the steps and hanging out with people in recovery.  On the financial side, I need to sell me house.  It’s a cash flow thing…and right now, my outflow is hurting me more than my lack of inflow!  I figured out today that the savings I will realize by moving to an apartment translates to the equivalent of a job that would pay me about $15/hour for a normal work week.  So, that’s my job now – and it “pays!” It slows the bleeding financially.

Nothing else matters right now than getting more sobriety under my belt and selling my house.  That gets me through the next five weeks until court.  And when I know a bit more, then I can focus on my “B game” or “C game” – to get me into a basic living situation and job that will allow me to spend the good 12-18 months it’s going to take to solidify this recovery.  So, slow down, CT…stop trying to figure out, discern, listen to what’s next…stay in the moment. I’m right where I need to be.  I just need to do the right next thing…and not get too far ahead of myself.  Be real and easy does it!

As for my feelings, this “chat” sums things up best…how I ended my evening after a good meeting, some time of reflection, and a walk in my old neighborhood downtown!

MS: Glad you made it to the meeting  You ok?
Me: Yea. Just sad
MS: Why u sad?
Me: Feelings just catching up with my reality. Grieving losses.
MS: Just keep positive, your head held high. This to shall pass. Everything will be ok

Me: Yea I know. My heart knows it will be. And the good news is I can feel and it’s ok. I don’t have to run from them or be controlled by them. So my heart knows it will be ok and I can still be sad. That’s an odd combination for me, “Mr. Intellectualize and Ignore My Feelings” 
MS: U r so funny. Its good u r feeling the emotions. It’s a healing process
Me: Amen.  Gonna go home and throw on loud arias and deep blues songs and have a cleansing and healthy cry

Day 79 – Opportunity Parkway

There is a new office complex opening 4 miles from my home…the house where I’ve lived for 4+ years that will be listed as “FOR SALE” this weekend because my employer of 20 years chose to fire me three days ago after learning of my arrest (see Day 75).  Ironically, the first and primary tenant of the office complex is one of five business units within that company! This business unit is relocating its world headquarters to the town in which I live, situated 30 miles from the parent company’s world headquarters…where I worked until Friday of last week.  

This morning, a new traffic light and street sign were hung over the intersection leading into the complex.  The name of the main road of the new complex…”Opportunity Parkway.”  How fitting for my life circumstances.  Sunday, at church, when the minister asked for any celebrations, I offered up a thanksgiving for “new possibilities” — for new opportunities.  And, through the work my higher power is doing in my heart, I am honestly able to see this as “Opportunity Parkway.”  He’s slowly giving me glimpses and insights in my heart to seeds he has planted…to ways in which I believe He is calling me to use my gifts and skills in a new way.  Ironically, many of these gifts — diversity awareness, leadership development, coaching & mentoring, compassionate communication, effective listening — were taught or honed during my 20 years of employment.  

So, rather than seeing this decision as a loss, a regret…I choose to see it as a gift, as an opportunity to now take my experiences & skills and use them to more directly help people.  Where and how, I don’t know — I must continue to work on my recovery — but I can already see possibilities.  It may start with company and community leaders struggling with how to better understand & support addicts out of ignorance — much like corporate america 50 years ago with the alcoholic (Pope & Associate – Consulting Pairs).  It may be connecting addicts with employment opportunities — addicts whose consequences led them into a compounding spiral in a system that works against us at times.  It may be working with groups people leaving incarceration to reintegrate into community (Choices Team – Faith in Community Ministries).  It may be helping equip addicts in recovery or ex-offenders with compassionate communication tools (Center for Non-Violent Communication – Freedom Project).  God only knows…for now, I know simply I’m where I need to be.  If I continue to focus on my recovery, on being clean and sober just for Today, then and only will Opportunity Parkway open for business.

Opportunity Knocks?  How might these fit together…

Day 78 – This Insidious disease

Last night was a little harder night.  I was going great — on a bit of a natural high from the day and from what amazing possibilities are percolating.  I caught myself thinking…”wouldn’t it be a great night to have a nice glass of wine with my dinner.”  Or, needing to relax from a busy day, “wouldn’t it be nice to curl up and watch TV with an ice cold beer.”  I haven’t had any cravings to USE – but I let myself start THINKING about DRINKING.

Instead I chose to draw a hot bath and soak, meditate.  My normal metal cup had been moved this weekend by a friend who was helping to clean house.  He put it back in the bar — it is half of a Bacardi Rum shaker (metal cup and glass used together).  It’s not a drinking trigger for me at all – it goes well with the bathroom; I use it to rinse the tub after soak baths; it looks better than a plastic cup.

The cup wasn’t the problem.  I went to the bar area, which had been cleaned out of liquor already.  Except…I saw…a special bottle of aged rum.  I had left it behind wanting to give it to a friend who would appreciate it.  Or, perhaps, subconsciously, I left it behind for me.  I wonder which…

All of a sudden my head was filled with lies.  Remember, this is the only disease which wants me to believe I don’t have a disease.  “Your issue never really was alcohol – it was drugs.  You’re ok to have one drink.”  “You don’t have to give up wine or good alcohol – you’ve been able to control that part.  It’s the crystal meth.”  And the all but insane, “You had a great first day – you’ve gotten through being fired with amazing strength.  You deserve to celebrate with a hot bath and a nice shot of aged rum from Puerto Rico — a gift from Carlos in Puerto Rico.  This is all worth celebrating.”  No, I take that back.  It’s not all but insane…it IS insane!

Nonetheless, I wasn’t there at the time…I was at “all but insane” or “far from insane.”  I poured the shot glass…I smelled the rum.  Familiar scents and memories — good ones — came flooding back.  My mind was playing insidious tricks with me.  It knew better than to hit me with drugs this time.  It went for the subtle smell of rum.

I brought the shot into the bathroom — the tub already filling with hot water; my readings (from NA!) and meditations sitting on the edge of the tub platform.  I thought about calling my sponsor to stop this and talk myself through.  Then I looked at the shot; I could smell the rum permeating the bathroom as the steamed air began to fill up the room as well.  I started to play through how relaxing it would be — how GOOD the rum would taste.  That was much more enjoyable than talking to someone!  I was caught up in the moment.  I was caught up in the lies of this insidious and cunning disease.

Then I thought of all I had going for me — of all the progress I have made.  I took the shot and poured the rum down the sink.  I rinsed the sink out; moved the glass out of the bathroom; and lit a candle to burn of the smell.

I was in relapse again.  I didn’t drink or use — but next time, I may not find the strength to stop it.  I used some of my tools – but not enough of them soon enough.  I played with this temptation WAY too long.  I didn’t cut it off a the root..I fed it with nutrients…I let it pop its head up through the gentle, warm soil…I allowed time for the sun’s rays to beat down on it to give it life.  I nurtured it and encouraged it just enough to find a budding plant.  And then, only then, did I rip it out and kill it.

That’s NOT what our Lenten series at church means when we ask ourselves, “What are you growing for Lent?”

The bottle still needs to be out of the house.  And I realize now that the 3-4 bottles of red wine I’m storing to “give to a friend” must also go.  Today.  I win this battle one day at a time — I must fight this battle one day at a time.  Not tomorrow — not “when I feel ready” — not eventually — TODAY.

Yes, one is a bottle given to me for my 30th birthday party in England.  It’s been from the UK, to NC, to Puerto Rico, to here.  I’ve been saving it for a special occasion — it’s one to keep for 10+ years.  So now would be about right.  But, I’ve also been to hell and back since then — seen the bottom of my addiction — faced the choice of life or death.  By the grace of God, I chose life.  With that same grace, I must be realistic and pull out all of the stops with the same fervor, joy and determination that I have had about my recovery in the past days.  I must “ride the wave” and keep on the path.

I wrote a good-bye letter to Crystal Meth during inpatient.  Sounds like I need to write the same for fine wine and spirits…

Watch this space for said letter…