Recognizing Stressful Sitations as a Process for Inner Awareness

woman meditating on rock

WOW it’s been a week!  Too much going on, yet no way to slow it down.  I don’t know what planets are aligned where or if Mercury is in retro-freaking-grade, or if Gemini is being eclipsed by whatever, but I feel like a frigging tennis ball.  Friday finally approached, just before a three day holiday I’m having with my family out on our private river island (oasis from this hellish week), and it turns out to be the most stressful day of all.  Unexpected twists and turns – a roller coaster of a day and evening, and none of it was fun, except when I finally sat down in bed last night and saw a really funny FB post.  Laughter certainly eased my anxiety, but then there were the dreams.  More stress, twists and turns and then I found myself purchasing a big bottle of god-knows-what at a liquor store. Drinking dreams.  They’ve come up a lot this week.  The worst ones are so realistic.  I drink and actually feel drunk.  I smell the booze and the next day I cannot recall anything from the night before.  It’s all too realistic for me.  This morning, my nerves are like the tattered strings of an old violin.  I’m spent. 

We all go through off-days and off-weeks.  I haven’t had anything like this come up for me in such a long time that I actually believed I’d transcended chaos.  Ha!  It’s good for me to know that I’m still in the running for Gandhi’s successor (I am so just kidding – trust me I really need sarcasm as a crutch today).  The truth is, I stopped looking at physical situations as “reality” and have come to a place where I understand these situations arise so that I can actually feel what’s going on for me – the inner reality.  I’ve been in fear all week.  I mean, anxiety central right here.  It hasn’t been constant, but there have been several occurrences that have brought up so much fear in me that I could not even pretend to be at peace.  And thank god for that.  I don’t like being delusional about myself.  I want to know what’s really going on with me.  I want my awful ugly side to come up once in a while so that I can get a good look at it and remember that I am human.  Life is not a fairy prance.  It’s raw.  It’s sometimes terrifying, and it comes with unexpected cliff hangers.  I don’t particularly like being on the edge, but it keeps me real.  It helps the suppressed fears to bubble up so that I can shine a light on those fears and release them out of my body.  These twists and turns are like physical exfoliation of my suppressed emotions.  Ugh, it sucks, but man I’m so grateful to be aware of myself, instead of thinking the world is coming up against me.  On the contrary.  It’s time for me to release some of this fear.  It’s time for me to be aware that it’s deep down inside of me.  It’s about time I faced it and had a little rendezvous with my old suppressed acquaintances.  The truth is, nothing BAD really happened this week, although a lot of things could have went “wrong,” and they still could go “wrong,” but now that I’m aware of my fears, I can easily accept any “wrong” that does happen because it isn’t the situation occurring.  It’s truly about facing those fears that come up when those situations bring it on.

I’ve been in jail.  I’ve lost everything.  I’ve faced the entire world on the Oprah show regarding a traumatic DUI involving my child.  People probably wonder why I’m so open about my life and my break ups and all the other shit that comes up for me.  I’m not afraid of other people’s judgment.  That’s LONG gone.  Don’t care what people think about me when I’m being true to who I am.  What I am afraid of, are other things that came up for me this week.  So it’s good that they came up for me through the mirror of physical reality.  I’m quite aware of my fears right now, and I’m not beating myself up for how I feel or my mistakes or for simply being human.  I’m merely taking a good look at myself and asking for guidance as I continue along my path. 

If you’re having a bad week, or a terrible month, or you just can’t seem to break the funk – take a good look at what’s coming up for you.  Take a real good inventory of those arising emotions.  That’s where the focus should be.  The outside stuff will work itself out.  Just keep looking inward.  This is where we need to keep our focus.  You wanna change the world?  Or at least YOUR world?  Well, keep working from the inside out.  Eternal peace often needs to rid itself of suppressed fears, so love yourself enough to allow those fears to dissipate through the mirror of physical reality.  For me, it all started with an earthquake at 3:00 a.m. last week, and here I am almost a week later still having a lot of anxiety.  Good for me.  I’m not anywhere near a place of arrival in my recovery.  It’s a good reminder that I only have right now and right now needs my full awareness and attention!  Never perfection – ALWAYS progress…

Red, White and BLUE Without a Drink?

After three years, I’m perfectly ok to be the only one not drinking on the Fourth of July. I have always been a little “different” in a crowd. I drank for years, merely to fit in, but you know how the ole story goes – I always drank too much, and there I was again, standing out like a moth at a butterfly gathering.

Last night I went to bed excited about the holiday without even considering what it would be like to drink, yet I was offered a brutal drinking dream, so here I am awake now shaking off the horrible feeling of relapsing, although it was only a nightmare. Those dreadful drinking dreams still come up for me, and I feel like it is simply my body (emotional, spiritual, mental) releasing old toxins – old energies and patterns of thinking seeping out of me in my sleep. In this dream, I carried a bottle of bottom shelf vodka and took sips out of it all day long, trying to maintain a buzz without getting too drunk. I accepted that I’d relapsed, and decided to forget about the recovery memoir I’d written – it was useless to anyone now because here I was drunk again. (Such a waste). People all around me knew what I was doing, and I still tried to hide the bottle while covering up my breath with gum, mouthwash and food. (What a high maintenance addiction – it’s so much easier to just maintain sobriety). In my drinking dream, I knew I was failing myself, yet I was stuck in the old, hopeless cycle. Upon waking up, I felt shame, fear, and then relief as I came to. Dreams about drinking are a reminder of why I do not want to go there again.

Two years into my sobriety, I decided to go completely vegan, so today I will probably be the only American at our campsite barbequing vegetables and drinking bottled water instead of enjoying a hamburger with a beer in hand. So what? I’m a little different – always have been. I’ve become completely comfortable with doing my own thing. I’m so incredibly grateful for my life. I love spending quality time with my family, especially my children, while being lucid. Staying awake instead of passing out during the fireworks, is so enjoyable. The sun is out and I’m not going to be dehydrated today because of too much booze. None of my differences take away from my experience of the holiday – in fact, my sobriety enhances the experience because I get to be all up in it! I get the full treatment of this fabulous American holiday. The aroma of barbeque, the sun beating down on my body, children’s laughter, adults relaxing, a spectacular fireworks show, the campfire afterward, and I’ll still be wide awake. I’ll close my eyes when I decide it’s time for bed. I am no longer a slave to the drink in my hand. I’m in control now. This is my life and I’m doing what I love doing, and being myself without shame, guilt, fear or self-destruction. This is a reason to celebrate.

When we were kids, we weren’t even thinking about anything but having fun during this holiday (during any holiday for that matter), so why do we think we can’t enjoy the festivities without a drink? That’s complete nonsense. If you feel uncomfortable today, recall what it was like to be a child during the Fourth of July and become that child again. If you are surrounded by adults who are drinking, find the group of kids and hang out with them. I guarantee you’ll have a lot more fun. I do it all the time. Find a way to enjoy this day and practice getting comfortable in your own skin. Soak it all in – be present and tap into your gratitude today. BE different. BE yourself. There is nothing more liberating than the gift of recovery, and after all, isn’t liberty what this day is all about?