Moving Slow Today

I met my sponsor just a few days after my plunge from the puffy pink cloud. God’s timing was perfect.

It only took a couple of conversations about my unsettling romantic charades for her to point out that my picker was broken. The more I thought about it, the more I had to laugh. Looking at the lack of conditions I had listed for the man of my dreams brought new meaning to that famous line in Jerry Maguire; You had me at Hello.

Anyway, I’m on restriction now so there’s no dating for a while, and that’s a wonderful thing. I spent forty years trying to prove to the world that I was SOMEBODY, when the truth was- I never really knew who that somebody was. And I obviously didn’t care for her much, either.

When I had to sit down and name the people that I had hostility toward, the main culprit seemed to be me. My negative opinion of myself during adolescence did some serious damage to my psyche, and played a role in all of my self-sabotaging.

Learning to forgive
myself was HUGE.

I have to say that my walk with God started out extremely bumpy. I was expecting to display proof of some sort of immediate transformation, but I’ve discovered that it’s a lifelong journey. I had to dismantle that “fast-forward” button and stop trying to blast into the future. At the speed I was always traveling, I was never able to enjoy TODAY.

So this morning, like every morning, I woke up grateful. The past is gone, tomorrow isn’t here yet, and I am sober.

God is good!

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? – Matthew 6:27

A Step Forward

There’s a term pink cloud that refers to a state of mind in early sobriety, characterized by extreme happiness and grandiosity, in spite of problematic conditions. The newly sober person feels high on life because they’re experiencing emotions that were previously numbed by alcohol.

Once I read up on the subject, I knew it was time to take a harder look at myself. Not to mention the fact that a couple of my longtime sober friends expressed their frustration with me, uttering cries that I “wasn’t getting it!”

Needless to say, I was booted off of my big cushy cloud. Fortunately I didn’t plummet and hit the ground exploding, but I DID crash land. Rather uncomfortably, I might add. It appears I don’t handle criticism very well.

After I picked myself up, I realized that I’d been holding onto an optimistic delusion about recovery. Every time I managed to “get” sober, I considered the crisis over, and deemed the problem solved. I’d frolic around—reveling in my sobriety—and never REALLY attempt to change. Given my previous track record, it’s obvious that this was NOT accurate thinking.

Getting sober is indisputably something to celebrate and be joyous about, but there’s endless toil involved in staying, and living sober… and I continually refused to deal with it by hiding out in a cloud of denial.

Gil suggested, numerous times, that l focus my efforts on community—rather than romantic interests—to help combat my loneliness and cultivate a healthier lifestyle… but I kept sweeping that whole notion under the rug. Did I mention I’m stubborn?

Not surprising, lack of a sense of camaraderie was the underlying reason I felt so isolated. What I had failed to recognize was that being part of an assemblage was not just something to consider, it was NECESSARY.

My friends did me a HUGE favor by confronting me about my lackadaisical attitude. Their rigorous honesty turned out to be my saving grace. If they hadn’t challenged me, I might still be up on my diva-like pink throne… daydreaming about another fish to fry, and buying time until my next fall.

I started attending meetings and gained a sense of connectedness that I had never felt before. The loneliness that had tormented me was diminishing. I guess you could say that God blessed me with WAY more than a desire to quit drinking. He provided an entire rescue team. Like-minded people who want to stay sober, and help others do the same.

And my foot was in the door.

Next Up: A Child of God

Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tip toe if you must, but take a step. Naeem Callaway

 

Through God’s Eyes

There was something else on my mind when I first contacted my friend Gil. I was trapped in that little world that I call SELF and I knew that I needed to get out of there. I wanted to make a contribution to this world.

I’m going to back up and talk about the man that I saw for four months, who finally admitted he lived with a woman. I actually mentioned to him that I’d written about him in my story. I had to assure him that he was anonymous just to bring some color back into his face (and later I learned why!). Anyway, he had hopes that I likened his character to Chuck Norris, but I’m going to call him your average “Joe”.

It was never my intention to present a one-sided version of this particular saga. Obviously he was dead wrong to withhold that crucial piece of information from me, but in spite of THAT, there are some really nice things I could say about Joe.

We had many laughs together, he listened to me talk incessantly, and he encouraged me a lot. We shared stories about our hardships, past and present, and there were things he told me about himself that left me with a heavy heart, full of compassion.

I’m not an idiot. I knew something was amiss from the very beginning, but I chose to ignore it. I wasn’t ready to face reality, I guess. I was living in fantasy land and was perfectly happy there… for a while.

My point is… I read something once—I think it was in a Philip Yancey book—about the way we see people when we are falling in love. We put all of our focus on what’s good in them, and overlook the bad. He compares it to how God sees us. Everyone has flaws, and we all make bad decisions, but God looks right through our defects and deep into our hearts.

I set out on this journey hoping to make a difference in the world. Perhaps imagining how people look through God’s eyes was helping me grasp that things aren’t always black and white. I was learning to appreciate the bigger picture, where the two extremes merge together to create countless shades of gray.

Anyway, I wasn’t trying to throw Joe overboard, or under the bus for that matter. I stopped seeing him, of course, but I have no anger. He’s only human, and he has a story. Everyone has a story.

Maybe we all just need to be heard.

Next Up: The Great Escape

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you. Maya Angelou

Fighting to Win

Never be afraid to tell your story because there’s somebody who needs to hear it.

I have to keep telling myself that. I get those little twangs inside, telling me to just stop—that I’ve already said enough.

But, I’m not going to let fear win.

When I mentioned taking down the enemy in my last post; I was talking about sobriety, and my own spiritual battle. I wasn’t declaring war on men. I just want to make that clarification in case it wasn’t clear. Anyway, after doing some careful self-examination I started to realize something about my man pursuits. Not to sound cliché, but it wasn’t them—it was me.

After getting some male opinions, the general consensus was that—for them—it was like a hunt. Chase, conquer, pick up your trophy and go home. I’m not quoting them, but that’s what I took away from it. I mulled it over for a bit, and thought about how it compared to my own pursuits.

It was startling to discover that I followed the same pattern, in a sense, but it took MUCH longer to win the love of a man than it did for them to obtain their prize. Obviously, that was my own fault for handing out rewards far too quickly… but that’s another story.

What I discovered was that it was a sport for me as well, in a weird way. I went on long and treacherous fishing expeditions, with no REAL plans to keep what I caught. Once I’d thoroughly weighed and inspected him, I was ready to cast him back out to sea. Unless I just happened to harpoon a whopper someday, that is.

fishing

Either way, neither side was playing fair!

The bottom line was that if, or when, the love was finally reciprocated, the poor guy couldn’t possibly measure up. The thrill was soon over and I ended up having to plan my getaway. I was just chasing another high… looking to fill that void. The same void that I tried to fill with alcohol and anything else that I could get my hands on.

I never really knew WHAT I was looking for. In fact, it wasn’t until that void was finally filled that I understood that it was God that I had been searching for all of those years.

So, I guess you could say that while I was learning to embrace singleness, I discovered that God was embracing ME. The fight for recovery was suddenly easier, because I realized He had never intended for me to fight the battle alone.

Next Up: Through God’s Eyes

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He will drive out your enemies before you, saying, ‘Destroy them!’ Deuteronomy 33:27

The Comeback Kid

I’m so glad I’m writing again and looking back on my journey. It’s really helping me grow. It’s not fun to recall my crazy blunders, but if I stay focused on the lessons learned, I seem to learn even more. Plus it’s refreshing to see how far I’ve actually come.

Last night I started thinking about how I always refer to January 7 of last year as the day I got sober. But, I’ve had relapses since then. I couldn’t put my finger on why that particular day was the date that I always went back to. This morning it dawned on me.

It was the day I came to believe in God.

I knew that it was Him working in me that night when I had my moment of clarity, and He had finally become REAL to me. THAT’S when I knew that my life was going to be different. It wasn’t some overnight transformation, but it was the beginning of change. Now my mistakes look different to me. I see that I was only on step TWO of twelve in the program, and just one tiptoe into my walk with God. And I had absolutely no idea what surrender really looked like.

In other words—I was in for a rude awakening.

After getting back on my feet, both in sobriety and with the broken ankles finally healing, my journey got real. Stupid real. Not only was I trying to recover from alcoholism, but I had just admitted that I had this weird love addiction. I seemed to know what was wrong with me, and kind of understood why, but I hadn’t quite figured out what to DO with all of this information.

Knowledge without wisdom is a load of books on the back of an ass. Japanese Proverb

My plan of action was to put a halt to any romantic relationships. Unfortunately, once I resolved that men were taboo, they launched an attack and began tactically infiltrating my boundaries. Seriously! Take a stab at “embracing singleness” and potential love interests will crawl out from under rocks. I kid you not.

The man that I had pursued came back in and out of my life after I thought he had vanished for good. My emotional ups and downs triggered more drinking and—let’s just say that I started recycling my “Welcome” chips. Somehow I managed to stay just above bottom for six months. I quit writing completely, and it’s probably safe to say that I wasn’t talking to God much, either.

In spite of my friends’ advice, and my own common sense, I kept the revolving door open. While that door was still spinning, a new man slipped in—right out from under that rock and through my front door. He was funny, smart and charming…and he transported alcoholic beverages to me (that’s how he got in the door), so I was quite smitten.

Refusing to listen to my gut’s constant warnings, we saw each other for about four months. Not too often, but often enough for an alcoholic love addict to start feeling all of those chemicals and hormones churning around. In mid-February he laid his confession on me. He lived with a woman. So, it’s became kind of apparent that men with serious commitment issues knew how to find me. No? Sometimes I speculate that they have a top-secret information bank somewhere, and I’m listed in it with the notation “Easy Target” next to my name.

Anyway, I hit the bottle hard and spent about two weeks poisoning myself. I was tired of opening up to men that I knew nothing about, fed up with myself for handing my heart out to strangers, and I was DEFINITELY sick of being told that I was too serious, melodramatic, or lovesick. Long story short: some friends from my church-recovery group intervened, and I was pulled out of the murky depths, once again.

The closer you get to God, the harder the enemy tries to knock you down.

A friend in recovery said that to me and I believe it with every fiber of my being. I experienced it firsthand. But, if there was one thing I HAD learned in my life, it was how to be a fighter. So I grabbed that seed sized faith I had, held onto it for dear life, and started putting on my armor.

THE ENEMY WAS GOING DOWN!

Next Up: Fighting to Win

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

More Girl Talk

They say that maturity is stunted when an alcoholic begins drinking heavily, or that when addiction starts, development stops.  For me, that basically meant that I had a lot of growing up to do.

My recovery process has involved a lot of stopping to reflect on what is going on inside of me. More importantly, it’s involved communicating with God… about everything. One of the biggest, most heartfelt prayers that I prayed, with tears in my eyes, was…

Lord, please show me how to live the right way! I don’t know what to do, because all I know… is what I know!

I can’t even begin to describe how much He’s shown me.

So… backing up a bit, I want to talk more about my little detour; my pursuit of the man. I used to be SO innocent. Naive is maybe a better word.  I dreamed about finding THE ONE. The love of my life. My soulmate. It wasn’t that I envisioned a future with someone, or even dreamed of living happily ever after. I was just searching for something. Something PROFOUND. That heart wrenching, over the top, so deeply felt it hurts kind of love.

I was a love addict.  I’d never seen a shrink, and had no professional diagnosis, but I knew enough to realize that, putting alcoholism aside, I had some serious issues! I loved being in love, or just loved pursuing love, I’m not really sure which one applied. Maybe both.

This isn’t a sex addiction I’m talking about, either. I think I was brainwashed early in life, whether it was by a specific man, men in general, or just society as a whole, that sex was just what people do, and it’s perfectly normal. In my case, it wasn’t exactly normal. I was just starting to realize that I had subconsciously used it… in an attempt to receive love.

I hope that came across correctly! Handing out sex to get love was not something I went about doing all of the time; and that certainly isn’t the point I’m trying to make. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that I was starting to discover that my entire life had been about pursuit; PERIOD.

From the moment I was young and my mind opened up to questions about the meaning of life, and death, I had a burning desire. I needed to find something! I would observe everyone around me, going about their daily routines, and think to myself; “Please tell me there is something MORE!”

I think from the very beginning, alcohol just helped me drown out that nagging voice in my head. It enabled me to stop worrying about finding the secret to life, and just go about my tedious day to day business like everyone else did. In looking to God for answers, I saw that my entire life had been the story of a girl who, since adolescence, was completely LOST. Swimming through a sea of alcohol and bouncing from relationship to relationship, in an attempt to fill a HUGE VOID, and find perfect love.

I was beginning to understand that none of those things; Alcohol, my business, or even the love of a man, would ever provide the complete satisfaction that I was looking for. Nothing here ever would. What I was seeking couldn’t even be bought. My mind was opening up and I was realizing that the things I thought mattered to me, never really did. It was a scam. The world around me had groomed me in such a calculated way that I was fooled, and I was just beginning to see things in a new light.

So, although I failed to “get the guy,” I got something much, much better. I gained valuable insight and learned something about myself, about life, and about God.

I’m thinking that the little detour I took….

…wasn’t really a detour after all.

Next Up: A Sprinkle of Faith

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

Girl Talk: A Dating Detour

I hit my first detour after five months of sobriety. I was living in a studio, and had just started a part-time job that would keep me there. Things were really moving along! Then, on a holiday weekend… I slipped, or should I say tripped, and I broke both of my ankles. I spent seven weeks in a wheelchair.

The truth is—I was getting off track. I was sober, but my relationship with God had started to falter. My human nature (and rebellious self) drove me to my self-serving ways. My focus took a U-turn, and I headed down a slippery slope.

I decided to pursue a man.

I knew it was wrong. I knew it wasn’t what God wanted for me, and the fact of the matter is that the man I was pursuing didn’t really want me to have him either! I can’t speak for all women, but I can say that, for me…when a man shows little interest I’m immediately pulled in his direction. 

I knew it wasn’t healthy, and it certainly wasn’t any marker on the map of my new journey—but I couldn’t get him out of my head! Anyway, that’s about the time I tripped and broke my ankles.

In spite of the pain I was in, my girlfriend Sherry and I both got a chuckle out of it. I told her that I had been praying for God to give me strength, or any kind of help, to get me back on solid ground. I wasn’t thinking of something quite so drastic, though.

The sad thing is that it didn’t stop me! With cast on foot and boot on the other, I managed to see him again. And then, like a dying star, he vanished. I was handling my heartache, to a certain degree, but I had other things going on in my life that were also causing major stress. And then…

I REALLY slipped. I drank.

I went off the deep end for a week. It only took about three days for me to start feeling the sickness that had almost killed me before, and I knew I had a very small window of time to get it in check or I was a goner.

In the midst of the mini spiral I was on, I did the ultimate faux pas. I drunk texted the guy! I gained nothing but complete embarrassment, and I’m pretty sure that he personalized my text tone to MUTE after the whole charade. I can’t say that I blame him. Regardless, I knew from the beginning that it would end before it even started, so it all worked out for the best.

The GOOD news is that my quest for the man was over. I was back on track and I was sober… again.

Next Up: Girl Talk- Part Two


If you make a mistake, you can change it into something good! Never, ever, EVER give up!

My five year old grandson said that to me when we were coloring. Who ever said that children aren’t wise?!