Turning Chaos Into Harmony


In Jr. High I took a Home Economic class with a very intense teacher.  She was half my size and intimidated the hell out of me.  We made our own dresses which we were supposed to model in front of the school and I ended up sewing the upper arm hole shut so that I couldn’t attach the sleeve, or even slide my hand through.  The teacher fixed it for me by tearing out the thread with a little tool that I cannot recall the name of today.  When we baked muffins, I used two cups of baking powder instead of two tablespoons of baking soda.  This was all occurring while I was impressing my creative writing teacher, along with making lead roles in the skits and plays we performed in drama.  Home Economics and Biology were not my cup of tea, but obviously I excelled in the creative arts.  During this time of my life I became very depressed and withdrawn because I felt lost.  

When I wore my homemade dress in front of my schoolmates, I was happy that all the holes and seams were in the correct places, but the dress itself was a little Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz-ish, minus the pleats, and it was a much more novice version.  I chucked that dress in the garbage after wearing it once.  I didn’t want the reminder of my failure as a seamstress.  In retrospect it was a good experience because it taught me something about myself.  I wasn’t interested in sewing or baking.  To this day, I do not enjoy either of those things, unless I’m eating the cookie dough during the baking process.  In that class, I got a D, which is one notch above failing.  I’m certain my teacher would have given me an F, except that she didn’t want to have to deal with me again the following year. 

The thing that I don’t enjoy about baking and sewing is that it creates a big mess, and I have a difficult time looking past the mess in order to create a masterpiece out of the chaos.  This week as I was moving, I took things really slowly, only moving a carload per day, as not to overwhelm myself.  I do not own a lot of “things” because I don’t like the burden of having them.  If I decide to move to Greece on a whim to write a book in a window overlooking the Mediterranean sea for a year, I don’t want to have to deal with a bunch of “stuff.”  I just want to get on a plane and go.  My daughter, on the other hand, doesn’t get rid of anything.  When I opened the door to her bedroom one afternoon last week, a rush of panic took over my sanity.  That evening I ended up eating a ton of chocolate candy for dinner, and then headed to two AA meetings.  It was just too much for me to take in.

Lucky for me I have a former boyfriend who knows how to place things in boxes without having an emotional breakdown.  The next day I came back to a very clean and organized bedroom.  Everything was taken off the walls and neatly rolled up into boxes.  Toys and books were neatly compiled and I was off the hook.  (Sigh of relief inserted here).  All I had to do was move those boxes into my car and sweep the floor up afterward.  I was a little disturbed at how easily my ex cleaned up the disastrous room.  He did it in one evening.  I’m certain that it would have taken me at least two or three days, and I would have been cramming M&M’s down my throat in the meantime, or chewing through packs and packs and gum just to withhold an impending panic attack. 

The really ironic thing is that the packing for me was way more intensely difficult than the move itself, or the breakup.  I understand that there are greater things awaiting me when I let go of burdensome relationships and hefty rent payments, but it is terrifying for me to clean out a dirty refrigerator.  On another level, I am extremely comfortable organizing my random thoughts into words on a computer screen, and I enjoy the process of putting on a performance in front of an audience, although both of these things are tedious and time consuming endeavors.  I am not a chef, or a very good housekeeper.  If my kids need something sewn, I would rather toss the item of clothing into the garbage can and go shopping for a replacement.  I am actually envious of people like my ex, who know how to focus on one thing at a time rather than overwhelm themselves in the details.  I’m quite the opposite.  I focus on the bigger picture, but get very overwhelmed with the small details during the process of getting there.

So how do I go about my life without feeling incomplete?  I can beat myself up all day long for not being a detail oriented person, or I can accept this about myself and focus on my assets, which is making things happen.  I’m an artist.  I envision end results.  I put things out in the universe and watch them come into fruition.  I don’t get hung up on people, places and things.  I’m good at helping others understand their soul journey.  I definitely understand my own.  I can interpret dreams. As a mom, I’m very accepting of my children.  I am more of a guide than a dictator.  I laugh more than I yell.  Although I’m not the best housekeeper, I certainly know how to make a place feel like a home. Wow, these are all positive things that I can say about myself.  Why do I stand back and beat myself up for what I consider “flaws?”  There has to be people like me in the world, and there has to be those who know how to turn some thread and material into a lovely costume.  Together, our contrasts and differences create a beautiful tapestry throughout the planet.  This is why it is so important to stop comparing yourself to others.  You have a purpose here.  You are a light to others through your dynamic gifts and talents.  Focus on those things and learn to connect with others who compliment you by doing what you are not exactly good at. 

I think it’s incredibly amazing that the world is made up with so many different people who all make up the wholeness of the planet.  We have doctors and teachers, musicians and speakers.  We have givers and helpers, lovers and wise leaders.  No one holds all of these gifts in one package.  We all came here to offer something to the world in order to create a harmonious planet.  Sadly this is not how it exactly works out, but it isn’t up to me to worry about what other people are doing, and what they aren’t doing.  It is up to me to stop beating myself up for not being a good baker, and to focus on my writing instead.  If I have a difficult time packing because it overwhelms me, I should feel confident enough to ask for help from someone who doesn’t find it overwhelming.  If I can’t bake a cake for a party, I should offer another service, like making the invitations.  We are all in this together, and rather than envy the soccer mom who is a dynamic organizer, I should do what I know how to do, which is coaching the team. 

I wrote this today because I’ve been annoyed that I couldn’t clean that room without melting down, when I should be pleased with myself for being brave enough to make an enormous change in my life to benefit my children and my own well-being.  Life is not easy, but it is more difficult when you focus on the negative, instead of seeing the big picture, or realizing your own worth.  I’m not a detail oriented person by nature, but I can write a manuscript no problem.  We all have something that we excel in.  This is where we should place our focus.  This is what we should offer to the world.  Simply do your part.  Then and only then, will we discover harmony in the midst of universal chaos. Like they told us in drama class, “There are no small roles…”


“This Isn’t a F*cken Friends Episode!…”


Those infamous words knocked me back into my seat as I sat in a circle with my recovery peers who all stared at me, shocked at the way I was being put in my place by the director of the program.  It was “Focus Group” which meant that we got to sit across from someone we wanted to confront.  This was a way to clear up tensions in a healthy manner, and to also point out behaviors in one another so that we could assist each other in changing the things that led us to drinking or using.  I was rarely focused on by any of my 40+ peers.  I had it all going on as if my shit didn’t stink.  What I didn’t realize was that my behavior of “looking good” and being everyone’s buddy was exactly what was going to kill me in my addiction.  This was pointed out by the counsellors, not my peers, because we were all too blind at the time to notice subtle behaviors, or to even relate perfectionistic traits as a revelation of a sneaky addict.  Yeah, I was one of those.

Humility was part of the process of changing our behaviors, but you cannot really get to a place of humility if you’re not aware of yourself.  So that’s how the director of the program saved my life in a sense.  After that dramatic session with my peers, another director walked into the evening house gathering and pointed at me.  She told the group that they were letting me “die” because they weren’t aware of how I navigated through the program like a little “honey bee.”  At first I was clueless as to what this even meant, but as time went on, I became aware of my own intensions to be everybody’s best friend, and how I buzzed past important things, including my assignments.  I knew how to get things done quickly without putting much effort into them.  Basically, I was living on the surface of my life to avoid difficult emotions.  Life to me was a checklist – “Get this done… CHECK!  Get that done… CHECK!”  I was driven to complete tasks as swiftly as possible and to make sure that everyone liked me in the meantime.

Laughing out loud right now at the thought of spending so much energy trying to please everyone.  Handing all of my assignments in on time was a way for me to get acceptance from my counsellors.  Like they even paid much attention to me when there were 40 of us addicts running around with minor dramas always occurring.  I was so self-centered, I swear to god.  When I left that sacred place, it was scary walking out into the real world where people are pretty much oblivious to their behaviors.  I recall thinking that I wish I could have focus group at work, or with my family.  It really did save my life and I was scared to not have that safety net of a group because I was still wobbly on my own two feet.  Luckily I continued going to groups and moved into a sober-living environment with many of my peers. The group I graduated with has been a very solid handful of people.  Most of us are doing very, very well.  We were really hard on each other too, but now there is nothing but love and support between us.  I know I can call any of my peers at any time and they would drop everything to be there for me.  I have needed some of them this very week, and four of them have immediately been there for me, even if it was merely words of encouragement after listening to my “drama” for the week.

There was a little upheaval this week with my ex and for the first time in a very long time, I felt extremely overwhelmed.  But that only lasted for a day.  I went through it, got sucked into it for a little while, and then stopped pointing my fingers and began looking at my part in the situation.  Once I did this, I stopped myself in my own tracks – almost as if I slammed myself into my own chair with awareness of my negative behaviors.  I felt ashamed, and scattered.  I took myself to three meetings and announced my “behaviors” to the group.  Afterward, I apologized to my former boyfriend.  I haven’t heard one apology from him, but that’s ok.  I’m not in this to even out the score.  My only obligation to my recovery is that I recognize my part in every situation and clear it up as soon as possible. 

I felt better when I got out of the drama and took some responsibility.  Last night, I ran into “him” and he was clearly uncomfortable.  He left the restaurant immediately after realizing he was uncomfortable.  I was not at all uncomfortable.  What I would love to tell him is that all of this turmoil coming up for him is simply a guiding light into himself.  It’s nothing more than emotional growth occurring.  Regardless of the obvious happenstance, and the “drama” surrounding me moving out and our breaking up, there is something much greater happening.  I don’t take much interest (any longer) in surface situations.  People are dramatic.  I’m even dramatic.  The daily dish comes and goes, but the real deal is what’s below the surface.  A year from now when we are both a little stronger from the situation, we will look back and see how much we changed because of our year long encounter.  When we met, the stars were in alignment.  Fireworks ignited.  We went into the relationship open hearted and confident.  Both of us knew that we might get hurt, but we were very ambitious because we were extremely aware of the yin and yang between us.  We knew that in harmony, we could be a dynamite couple.  It was difficult for us to keep that harmony, so there was a lot of conflict instead.  That ambition between us stretched us to the max, however, and this part of our experience (the turmoil) is merely growth occurring quickly.  That’s all it is, and I see it for what it is. 

Forget the scene, or the way things are playing out.  Look beyond them.  Life is not about the drama occurring – it’s truly about what is happening for you (emotions) during the experience.  I took a massive bite of humble pie this week.  It was bitter to the tongue, but sweet to my belly.  I’m in a much better place because I took some serious responsibility.  I’m not writing any of this stuff to pat myself on the back. I have such a long way to go, and there is still some wreckage to attend to. What I do understand in all of this, is that my former boyfriend was simply a player in my life to show me what I really need to work on in myself, and where I need to grow. For him, I was also a player in his life who stirred up a lot of things for him. When I met him, he talked about longing to be more flexible and easy going. When he met me, I spoke of wanting to keep growing as a person. I think we organically provided this for one another. He really opened my eyes to myself and I am growing greatly because of it. For this, I am incredibly grateful for him. He’s been a great teacher.

I can’t change some things that are occurring, or that have occurred, but I do know where I could have done better.  Progress… It’s funny – My former boyfriend used to call me “Phoebes.” This was his name for me. I’m going to miss that a lot, but this isn’t a Friends episode. The season has ended and life moves on. 


I Walked Through My Anxiety and There I Met Abundance (A Follow Up on What Lies Beneath Anxiety)

Abundance 2

 For the last few months, I have been faced with a decision to either identify with the anxiety coming up for me during a very heart wrenching breakup, along with not having a place to live when my lease is up at the end of August, or to allow this anxiety to be part of my experience without wrapping myself into it.  The fear has haunted me, but my awareness of it has kept it at bay.  During this time I chose to live my life in peace and harmony regardless of the shitty situation occurring, and honestly I have been quite happy.  There have been some days when I’ve felt defeated, but I looked at those moments as gracious opportunities to surrender to what I have no control over.  For five months I have been in a place where I could have been completely broken and miserable, but I made a conscious decision to walk the talk.  I entered the wilderness of myself and began a dialogue with my anxiety.  “Let’s do this, my troubled friend.  Let’s dance together for the time being, and then I’m going to have to let you go, because you’re taking up way too much of my precious life.  I am so ready to move on from you, but you can hang out for as long as you need to.”

Because the relationship with my former boyfriend is so strained and we live together, I have put my well-being (as well as my daughters) ahead of my desire to stay in the home we live in now throughout the summer.  This meant that I was even more under the gun to find a place to live without any money saved.  This cottage house is taking up most of my paycheck.  I realized that I didn’t want to live in tight-budget mode any longer, but instead of straining myself by getting another job, knowing that it would not be in the best interest for my daughter’s and my own well-being, I put it out in the universe that I either needed a bunch of money dumped on me immediately, or I needed to reduce the amount of money that I was spending each month, but more than anything, we needed a nice roof over our heads in this exact area we live in now because my kid needs to continue going to the same schools.  It wouldn’t be fair to uproot her after so much time and energy has been placed into her getting straight A’s and making new friends.  She has been through enough and I trust that when I ask for what I need, that the universe keeps her in mind as well.  I put a lot of pressure on God in this request to take care of us.  I made very specific requests, and then I went on about my life knowing that I would be provided for – ignoring all the fear and doubt that told me that I was going to need to pack up and move back to my hometown because I was failing.

I attend a Sunday night meeting and have the coffee commitment.  I’m there every week and last week, one of the women whom I’ve made acquaintances with stopped me after the meeting and asked if anything was wrong.  Prior to the meeting I had just been in another argument with the ex and I was feeling very defeated.  I told her about my living situation and mentioned that I need to find a place for my daughter and I to live as soon as possible, but it needs to be cheap because I need to pay off debt and save some money.  Part of my own recovery is to get myself out of debt.  The debt weighs on me heavily and I need to be free from it.  She listened and then we went about our business.  She was very caring and I needed this kind of support at that moment, so I was overcome with gratitude and it was relieving to be able to vent a little bit.  Throughout the week, I have been sending out emails for rentals without placing too much of my energy into it, but trusting that when I move forward, the universe is also working for me. 

Thursday I get a call from the woman at the meeting.  She’s so excited because her boyfriend has just given me a lead.  He is a pool cleaner and has been cleaning this elderly woman’s pool for over 20 years.  She has an apartment above her garage and the tenant has just moved out.  She needs someone there to take care of pulling out the garbage cans each week and to check on her once in a while because she lives alone.  She needed me to call her right away because on Saturday (today) she is leaving for six weeks to go to physical therapy in another town.  The house will be empty and she needs someone to water the flowers every other day.  Of course, it all sounded too good to be true, but I made the phone call.  When I spoke with the woman, something clicked.  It simply felt right, and I went over there to meet her on Friday.  Her family was there.  Her son, her daughter-in-law, two friends – it was a full house and everyone was so welcoming.

“Come on in, let my daughter-in-law show you the apartment and then I’m going to give you the garage door opener and let’s see if this is a good fit.”  I checked out the apartment.  It’s a large and accommodating studio with a deck overlooking a massive backyard and the solar heated pool (which we get to use) near hills with trails and in the best neighborhood of the town we live in.  Everything we need is in the apartment.  It’s furnished, and I don’t have much furniture, so this is a major plus.  There is a kitchenette, a stove, a refrigerator, a walk-in closet, a large bathroom and shower, a washer and dryer and a separate entrance.  I get to park in the garage, unlike now where my poor car gets hit with oak tree branches.  It’s quiet and would make the ideal summer home.  I decide that this is a treasure and I’m not going to pass up the offering.  When I go down to chat with the elderly owner, who is so incredibly kind and genuine, she tells me that the rent is less than what she originally quoted over the phone, which includes all utilities and cable.  The last thing that I am worried about is that I have a cat.  “Oh, yes, the cat is welcome,” she graciously says.  “There is a cat door and an acre of fenced backyard.  He will love to roam around here.  It’s a peaceful place to live and I need someone here for the six weeks that I’m gone, but you are more than welcome to live here however long you want.”  Needless to say, we hit it off.  I was given the wifi-code, the garage door opener and lots of smiles. Her family was kind and gracious.  She didn’t ask for a credit check, an application fee, references or any sort of deposit.  The rent is less than a third of what I pay now!  She went only on her intuition and apparently I made the cut.

Need I say more?  I mean, this is nothing short of some kind of cosmic miracle, right?  The most amazing thing is that I’m not even the least bit shocked.  This is what I asked for.  This is what I trusted would occur, and as I went about my life doing the next right thing, everything was manifesting in the background.  For the next several months, I will get to pay off debt, save money, buy some furniture, and take my two children on vacation.  My daughter and I are safe.  We found a temporary home that meets all of our needs and we don’t have to be in a rush to move again.  It’s all sitting pretty right before our eyes… AND THERE’S A POOL, which I didn’t even ask for, but like I said, my daughter’s needs get met when I am looking out for my well-being.  All of this happened so quickly, and the timing was immaculate. If I had been one beat off, none of this would have occurred.  It’s all just so sweet and loving.  I mean, how loving is the universe?  It’s so loving – it simply waits for us to be open to receiving.  We spend so much time with our head down to the ground, digging our heels in and trying to get somewhere, that we miss out on the magic of life that awaits our awareness of it.  I had no doubt.  I walked through my fear.  I faced my ancient anxiety and there I met abundance!



QUICK… Slap a Label On Yourself Son, Before They Deem You’ve Disappeared!


What if went to a meeting today, raised my hand and said, “Hi, my name is Jennifer and I simply AM?”  What would the people in the room think?  Would there be an awkward silence followed by a few snickers and then some sweat beads mounting on the heads of those who follow the rules of the program without falter? Some people do go in there and state their names without the alcoholic label at the end, and it’s obvious to us that they are newcomers.  Some newbys are uncomfortable with that label, and that’s just fine with me.  I didn’t particularly like it in the beginning either, but then I just succumbed to the program because it works.  However, it’s not who I am, and I think most of us in the rooms know that it’s not who we truly are… or perhaps we don’t.  I mean, have you really thought about this?  Do you walk around kind of shaming yourself (or gloating) for being an addict, an alcoholic, a junkie, a drunk?  I sometimes wonder why we need to keep reminding ourselves of the past.  Why not state that we are “recovering” instead?  Or “I am recovering from…”  This is not only removes the labeling of ourselves, but it affirms that we are in movement.  It declares that we aren’t stuck in time, and we aren’t just that one dreaded thing that separates us from the rest of society.

But we don’t question the program because it’s worked for so many people.  In fact, we don’t question a lot of things.  Once we get on our feet and find our own balance in our recovery, we should really start taking a look at what works for us and what doesn’t.  I’m tired of calling myself “an alcoholic.”  At work I’m a “Transaction Coordinator.”  At home I am a “mom.”  In my own mind I am a runner and a writer, but what if all these things were suddenly removed from me?  What would I be then?  What if I lost the ability to form a sentence from some terrible accident where my children were taken from me?  What if I could no longer work or run because my body was paralyzed?  What would my new labels be then?  I would be looked upon as a paralyzed woman who “used to be…” so many different labels.  But what if I saw myself as whole, and what if I realized that my challenges were set in motion so that I could realize who I truly was without all the labels? 

How do you label yourself?  How do others label you?

It’s a question worth asking because without labels, a lot of us don’t know who we are.  How many people retire from their lifelong careers and discover themselves completely lost?  They spent their lives believing that their career was who they were.  It’s what we do and it isn’t right.  I mean, it’s another form of separating ourselves from others, which is one of the themes I’ve been writing about this week.  We should take it from a master and follow the statement of “I AM,” without a label to follow.  Jesus wasn’t just stating that “HE WAS.”  He was always pointing us back to ourselves, but people who claim themselves to be “sinners” (another label mind you) seek outside of themselves for the truth.  I AM was a statement of being.  It was a gift of knowing… the way, the truth and the life.  (For those of you who know your scripture). If I AM… then the way, the truth and the life is within my own being.  And if no one can go to the father (God) except through “ME,” then I must have to enter into my own being in order to meet my maker. Talk about lost in translation! The road to truth is narrow because it is an internal experience. This is so important to understand, because the other way around is what most people follow and most people (if you’ve noticed) are really lost, though they will disagree with this statement because no one likes feeling lost when they believe they have found the truth.  They would rather be in a state of denial than to look at themselves honestly.  But we all do this.  I constantly have to remind myself to look in the mirror.  I’m blind to myself too, which is why I ask a lot of questions and why I appreciate being challenged by the people in my life who point things out to me, although it kind of sucks in the beginning.  If I hadn’t been challenged by my counsellors and peers in treatment, I would still be suffering today.

It’s important to ask questions even in a program that has worked for a lot of people.  It also hasn’t worked for a lot of people.  That’s why it is imperative to really understand who you truly are, with a knowing that goes beyond a belief.  If everything was suddenly removed from you, you need to know that you could remain sober because you no longer are that alcoholic label, or that addict label.  You are in movement.  You are in recovery.  You are not a stagnant being.  You are always in motion, so I challenge you to stop labeling yourself and to walk in the wholeness and completeness of yourself.  And I’m going to stop announcing that I am an alcoholic in those rooms.  Tonight, I’m Jennifer and I AM in recovery.





How Long Will the Cravings Last?


The obsession to drink and use can become so overwhelming in early recovery, that we give in just to stop the noise of our minds.  I recall a desperate time of my addiction when I was in a constant battle with myself.  More than anything, I wanted to quit drinking, but my thirsty addict-self was a monster inside me, breathing down my neck in repulsion of my weak sobriety.  For me, it took getting into a treatment program to save me from that monster, but many people tackle the beast by simply getting a sponsor and working an honest program, or by recognizing the voice of the addict and not giving in to its desire to use.  As a chronic relapser, my monster was well groomed by the end of my drinking.  It knew if it became loud enough, I would do whatever it took to get it a drink.  This was how the beast grew and overwhelmed me in the end.

In treatment, I spent six months with a mindset that I was never going to have a drink while I was in there.  I had no money, no friends or family nearby, and no transportation.  Leaving the facility would be a shot in the dark to nurture the beast, so he remained silent, but when I left the program to enter the real world, I would face the greatest challenge of my life.  You see, the beast was growing inside of me all of those months, and now I was dealing with a terrorizing bully inside of me. He arose when I was at my weakest, and he caught me off-guard.  

It was about seven months after treatment… one year and three months into sobriety, when the bully shadowed everything I learned in recovery.  He was not backing down while I was emotionally grieving for the first time since I left the doors of the treatment center.  The monster was so loud, it eclipsed my instincts to call a sober friend, or to go to a meeting.  I was alone and it had me captive, so there I was face to face with my addict-self, and it was winning, but suddenly I whispered something that saved my life, “God, please help me right now.  Please help.”  My body was shaking as I thought about buying a pint of vodka, knowing exactly which liquor store I would make the purchase, and as I salivated for that warm buzz.  Nothing was about to stop me, but when I whispered those words, I grabbed my backpack and ran; not to the liquor store, but right up the Berkeley Hills where the treatment facility was located.  I walked into the sacred place and slid down into a wooden bench in front of the front desk where one of my closest peers just happened to be working that day.  I melted into tears and told on myself, “I was just about to drink…” 

I spent the remainder of the day inside that facility, joining my peers in groups and telling the woman what it felt like to be defeated by my emotions.  I spoke to a couple of counsellors and went home feeling both drained and victorious.  I had never overcome a craving of that magnitude, and it was empowering.  What I didn’t know was that I was well on my way to defeating that beast inside of me.  My cravings are far and few in-between these days, and they certainly don’t last very long when I stay with them and allow them to be part of my experience, without giving in to their greed for my sanity. 

I’ve been sober for two years, eleven months and four days.  The obsession to drink is far removed, but I’m not going to lie and say that I have won this battle.  Just a few months ago I was side-swiped with devastating news and the first thing I wanted to do was buy a bottle of vodka.  This came out of nowhere.  Sometimes I can go months and deal with many emotional upswings and downswings without thinking about alcohol, but once in a great while, it will overcome me, and usually when it’s least expected.  I think of recovery as a practice of NOT DRINKING.  Every time I move through a craving without picking up, I’m exercising my sober-self, and my beast is finally backing down.   

What keeps me from taking a drink these days is the self-respect I feel, the love I have for myself, and knowing that taking a drink will not solve anything.  It will set me back and I do not want to feel like a failure.  I have never felt so good about who I am, where I’m going and my sobriety.  I’m simply happy and life is so much easier without an addiction to battle.  

Although I can’t give you an exact day when the obsession to drink and use will diminish, I can tell you that the more you practice NOT using, the stronger you will become.  And it certainly gets easier as time goes on.  Think of the cravings as the treacherous road you must travel in order to get to your destination.  Allow them to overcome your body once in a while, knowing that this road is temporary on your long term journey.  The cravings won’t last more than a few hours, and usually they diminish within an hour.  Sometimes we’ve got to walk through the fire to get to the oasis.  Don’t let the beast take over your soul.  It is your battle to win, and you are strong enough to claim your victory.  Discover this for yourself; it is incredibly empowering!


How to Deal With Boredom in Sobriety


This is dedicated to the “newcomers” in sobriety who are biting their nails, pulling their hair out and wondering when the hell this recovery thing starts feeling good.  I KNOW the feeling of boredom.  It felt eternal, and awful.  If drinking wasn’t sending me on such a downward spiral, I would have had a drink, but I had no choice… I HAD to stay sober.  And the first time around, it felt like I was looking at life through a dirty windshield, locked in my car with my windows rolled up on a hot summer day… without air conditioning.  I was sitting in endless traffic (figuratively speaking of course), and the only thing that could have been worse, is if I was walking uphill through the hottest desert in the world wearing a wool turtle neck sweater.  YES, the feeling of being bored in early sobriety is suffocating and yes, it feels endless, but I SWEAR to you, that this will all pass.  If you just hang in there, and keep going to meetings for your own sanity, you will slowly start to feel the wind against your face again, and life will ease up. 

Most of us go through this knowing that it sucks balls, but it will pass.  Deep down we know this is something we have to go through in order to recover, but often we need to be reminded that boredom is simply par for the course to eternal sobriety.  In our addiction, the last thing we ever did was sit still when we were bored, but now we have nothing to grab onto, so we suffer through this.  You do not have to suffer for long.  For me, this dirty windshield view of life lasted about a month, and I attribute that to all the chemicals in my body being completely screwed up from my alcoholism.  For others, it may not take this long, and for some, it may take longer.  It all depends on if you’re resisting the experience, or embracing it for what it is.  All this boredom is, is simply your body, mind and spirit rebalancing without a drink or a drug.  Balance is always occurring, so allow this hellish experience to overcome you for the time that it takes, and remind yourself that it will pass by hanging out with others who are actually happy in their sobriety.  Most people are, because life sober, is a gazillion times better than life as an addict.  It’s so much more simple, and you will begin enjoying things that you least expected to make you happy.  Instead of HIGH’s followed by intense LOWs, you will level out and see the world my more clearly.  Just hang in there, please.

Sit with the discomfort.  Welcome it into your experience.  Trust that it is just a passerby who will soon flee when you stop trying to control how you feel.  Anger will arise, and possibly a bit of grief.  You will feel restless and moody, but these short-term feelings are merely guests whom you need to make acquaintances with for the time being.  They are not eternal guests in your sober house.  If this was the case, none of us would remain sober.  We wouldn’t have the desire to remain sober if it sucked like this eternally. 

Get curious about yourself and imagine that you are embarking on a journey.  There will be rough mountains to climb, heavy storm clouds, and days of desert monotony, but the amazing view is just ahead, and this is what you’re aiming for.  Keep moving forward and know that you are exactly where you need to be today.  Hang in there, my friend… this boredom will surely pass.


Man, There Are So Many of Us in the Reformed Drunk Club

The one good thing about being a drunk, is that we are not alone.  There was always a poor sap around to join me at the bar; to help me feel better about myself for loving the booze to the point of no return.  Laughter and tears were dramatically shared between me and whatever current drinking buddy was keeping me company at any given time, but the day came when my drinking was done in solitude, laughter was terribly amiss, and tears morphed into an eternal plea for death.  I was desperately alone at the end of my drinking, and no one knew how to help me, so it was up to me, which left me to my own demise.  If it wouldn’t have been for my cry aloud for help, I don’t know if I would be here today, thoroughly writing about my recovery.

Entering into a detox facility, where everyone had at least one thing in common, was alleviating during the first moments of dread and fear.  The tremors, terrors, cold sweats and anxiety didn’t overwhelm me so much when I suffered along with others who completely understood the inner hollows of addiction that raped me of my self-worth.  We were chained to our drugs of choice, but we were there to maybe find a way out.  At that point, I was determined, and willing.  I surrendered in the cold dorm room of the institution and made a decision to turn my life over to my higher power… completely this time.

It doesn’t matter where I go in the world today; I’m pretty much guaranteed that there are others like me there.  Every job I’ve taken, most parties I’ve gone to, and in just about every crowd, there is another reformed drunk who is more than willing to be a friend, if even for the moment.  It’s a camaraderie we have in the rooms, which trickles out into the world.  We are not alone, and this is how we do this thing… this living sober thing.

I love you guys, man.  I love it that you overcame something that most “normies” would probably take their lives over.  I love it that you have the strength of a super hero, the courage of a warrior, and the willingness of a champion.  There is nothing like a reformed addict.  We are the salt of the earth if you ask me.  We have been through the fire (willingly), and suddenly discovered a dynamic purpose for our lives, even if that purpose was simply to live.  We climbed out of the pits of hell with every morsel of self-worth remaining in our drunken bodies, deciding once and for all, that we had a choice in the matter.  We are not like the Jone’s, or the Smiths.  We do not blend in with the masses.  We are the ones on the sidelines, standing atop the mountains, who broke through the sleepy masses.  We were heedlessly handed a death card, carried it around like it was our destiny, and then one day we discovered that it was ok to lay it down and walk away into the land of freedom.

There are so many of us in the reformed drunk club.  I am one of them.  You are one of them.  Within your circle, there is another.  We are a force to be reckoned with, and we help one another.  We laugh together and cry with one another. We are a team, a brotherhood, a sisterhood, a godsend of people who know what it’s like to wallow in the depths of hell, and then to shout out… VICTORY!

Three Statements I Live By, to Keep Me Sober


If you are anything like me (and I’m guessing you are, if you’ve come to the brilliant conclusion that drinking and/or using drugs is not the solution to your problems), you’ve tried to get sober countless times, but something finally worked (or you are currently trying to figure out what will work), and it would be in your best interest to KNOW exactly what that missing link is.  I’m pretty analytical, so I’ve often found myself going in deep with a gazillion questions… “What is it that makes one person this way, and other people that way?”  What I’ve determined in my surveillances of the world and everyone around me, is that the way people THINK, directly affects or alters the outcome of their experience.  (I’ve also read a ton of books on the subject).

Perception is relevant, and everyone is having an entirely different experience of the world by the way they see things, or by how they feel and what they think while they are having the experience.  Step outside of that limited box of perception, into the infinite world of awareness of your experiences as they occur, and discover a place where you are no longer persuaded by emotional responses, or triggered by your ravenous thoughts.  We forget that WE are not our emotions or our thoughts – WE go beyond these temporary internal ebb and flows.  And the most important thing I’m about to say, is that we have the power to completely modify the way we think, so that our emotional response will follow. 

I’ve programmed my brain, you see, so that whenever I’m tempted by my addict mind, an immediate tape rolls out and plays along the margins of my psyche.  If I see or feel something that triggers me to desire a drink, I quickly play the tape, which looks something like this..

What a beautiful glass of champagne.  I could have one glass of champagne… no problem.  It would taste so refreshing, and what a treat!  OH, SHIT, what am I THINKING?  Yeah, I’m going to have that glass of champagne, and then I’m going to want another one.  That second one won’t be enough, so I’m going to make friends with the bartender over there, and we’re gonna party it down tonight.  He has no idea that I’m an alcoholic, so it will be impressive to him with how much I can drink and still remain standing.  I’ll continue drinking because I can’t stop, and then I’m gonna get shitty, and I’ll completely black out and throw myself at whatever man comes along.  I’ll most likely wake up not knowing how I got home, or outside somewhere on someone’s lawn with my dress stained with my own urine.   NOPE… I DO NOT need that one glass of champagne 


Change the way your brain thinks whenever you have a sudden desire to drink or use. This has been essential in my own recovery. That tape was obsolete the last few times I tried to remain sober. This time around, I’m BFFs with that damn roll of film.


Simple enough – Just bring yourself right back to your final rock bottom when your addict mind temps you to use. GO THERE, and remind yourself what it was like, and what will happen if you decide to relapse.


This is one I didn’t know about until I went to treatment and a dynamic counselor, who was a former junkie, went around the facility and had us make a pact to ourselves. “NO MATTER WHAT… I will not use drugs or drink.” No matter WHAT! This means if the world is about to end because of a polar shift followed by an impending ice age, and I’m sheltered in the only place left standing, which just happens to be an old dive bar somewhere in Australia, and I’m offered whisky by an attractive Aussie to keep myself warm, and to numb the impact of the trauma, I will absolutely, no matter what, DECLINE the offer to drink.

Yeah, that’s how far my imagination goes with things… otherwise I’m screwed in any situation.

So this is my formula, and it seems to be working for me. I deliberately programmed my own mind, changed the way I think so that I immediately go to these three statements, and I’m still sober today after nearly three years. My emotional response in turn, has shifted from longing to laughter. All of these statements bring me right back to where I was at the end of my rope, and I know that I no longer have to live that way. I am free now, and LOVING LIFE. Why would I ever go back to that space? You have the power to change your thinking, so I encourage you to do so…

Play the Tape. Never Forget. No Matter What.

What Does it Take to Remain Eternally Sober?

Change your thinking

I recently heard someone say, “Hang out with people who have the same passions; not the people who harbor the same problems,” yet for those of us in recovery, it has been ingrained in us that we must go to meetings, or else our sobriety is on the line.  I don’t disagree that meetings are a great way to remind myself that I should never drink again, but I am certainly not convinced that without them, I’m inevitably going to drink.  If I’m that close to having a drink, I trust myself enough now, to do whatever it takes to get myself back on track.  There are several ways to do this, and most of the time, it means spending time with a friend who is also in recovery.  Going to a meeting is secondary; being aware that I am slipping, is primary.  Because meetings are so conveniently available, they are a great reprieve during a sudden moment of craving (which I haven’t had in quite some time, btw), but they are not a cure-all.  Meetings are also a wonderful crutch during early recovery, but like any crutch in life; once the wound has healed, it’s time to stand on your own two feet. Before going to treatment for six solid months, I desperately tried to become and remain sober, yet sometimes after a meeting, I was more thirsty for an alcoholic beverage than I was before I walked into the room.  Hitting a bar on the way out didn’t sound so awful… and the liquor stores are everywhere.

So what does it take to remain sober?

First off, I’ve stopped telling myself that I’m simply not going to drink “Just for today.”  What a load of crap – I know, and you know, that recovery means I am never going to have a goddamn drink, or pick up a drug, for the remainder of my entire life. Let’s make this abundantly clear.  Let’s allow it to sink in… and welcome the anger that floods your body with this realization.  Allow the grief to overcome you for a while.  Embrace the full experience of knowing that you cannot drink or use drugs, ever again. When all of this intense emotion eventually passes (or flows through you, and then departs for good)… you have just entered into the lovely place of ultimate acceptance.  This is where you’ll want to hang out for the remainder of your life.  It’s a liberating space to navigate in, and it works for just about everything (acceptance of being chubby, bald, weird, etc…).  It’s the key to long-term, eternal sobriety.  It’s like you are saying, “No matter what… I will not pick up a drink or use a drug…” PERIOD. 

It’s time we reconditioned our thinking.  This is not the 1930’s.  People are evolving.  Self-awareness is trending.  Institutions are becoming obsolete because people are waking up and discovering their own innate sovereignty.  Because I’m a person who was submerged in religious fear as a child, and then spent most of my adult life trying to break free from that fear, I’m thoroughly convinced that fear is not the answer to overcoming anything; addictions included.  If I buy into the belief that my sobriety rides on the thin line of making a meeting every other day (or whatever), then I’m pretty much thoroughly f*cked.  What if one unfortunate day, I become stranded on a deserted island and I’m inadvertently surrounded by fermenting fruit… Here I am completely caught off guard… yet NO MEETINGS?  I mean, come ON!  We’ve got to realize that we DO have the inner power to overcome our addictions, and all it takes is a few ingredients:  Willingness, Acceptance and Self-Awareness (knowing what I am thinking and feeling every moment, yet not buying into my thoughts, or acting out in my emotions).  Sprinkle on the continuous attitude of “learning-to-LOVE-life-because-it’s-flippin’-WONDERFUL,” and you’ve just created a successful concoction of ULTIMATE RECOVERY.

I recall going to a meeting with my grandfather, who was only there to support me, a few years ago (prior to treatment).  I stayed a few minutes afterward to talk to a woman who offered her sponsorship.  When I got back into the truck with my grandpa, I mentioned that the woman had twenty-eight year’s sober.  My grandfather’s eyes bugged out of his head, “AND SHE’S STILL GOING TO MEETINGS!?”  His comment floored me.  I couldn’t stop laughing during the ride home.  Back then, I thought that he was clueless about recovery, and that I knew a great deal more than him.  It’s funny… he always told me I make things too difficult for myself, and his answer to getting sober was simple.  “Stop drinking.”  What a concept!  Abstinence is the only cure for addiction.  Once you learn to accept your inability to drink or use drugs, you’ll need to recondition the way you think about life… THIS is where your journey begins.  How you think, directly influences your course of action, so it’s imperative to become the watcher of your mind, and to take control of your thoughts and behaviors. 

I am not an expert, but I am one of those alcoholic/drug addicts who attempted to get sober by going to meetings for several years to no avail.  It’s the same exact thing as going to church to find God.  God is not confined in a room built by the hands of man… Your sobriety doesn’t exist inside the institution of AA or NA.  It’s within YOU.  You have everything you need to become and to remain sober.  Know this, and own it.  And for goddsake, figure out what you are passionate about, and go hang out with people who are doing the same thing.  Surround yourself in an uplifting environment instead of places that remind you of the awful past.  Get moving forward in your recovery.  Life is a wonderful playground, filled with laughter and unlimited opportunity, when you aren’t stuffed inside a room getting high, or reminding yourself what it was like.

Please, comments are incredibly welcome… 

Devistating News and The Story of the Monk


The irony of getting my life together, is that my children’s father has gone on a downward swing in the meantime.  This isn’t the first time this has happened.  When we got divorced, it was because he was mixed up in meth, and I couldn’t help him.  He pulled himself out of it, we became close again, and then I spiraled out on alcohol.  Up and down; up and down, the pendulum swings between us.  It’s like the extreme ebb and flow of parenting in recovery and relapsing.  I’ve spent nearly three years sober, and I’ve been diligent this time around.  I’m not going to relapse again, but I wasn’t expecting a phone call like I received yesterday.

We’ve been divorced for ten years, but we’re raising children, so we try to keep a civil relationship.  He has supposedly been sober for several years now.  He disappeared in September, and I suspected a relapse.  I expected a phone call, any minute, that he was dead, but it was his voice on the other end of the phone yesterday… “Hey Red,” (his nickname for me), “I’m in a lot of trouble.  I relapsed and I’m going to be spending some time in state prison.  Possibly two years or more.  My court date is in a month and a half…”

The weird thing was, I didn’t flip out on him for disappearing.  He is like a brother to me, and the love I have for him is unconditional. I totally understand addiction, and I know what he is feeling is one hundred times worse than anything I could say to him.  I practice living in the moment, and being in total acceptance of whatever it is that comes my way.  I trust the Universe is constantly supporting me, so I surrender, but I cannot deny that I am devastated; hurt; saddened; heart broken, stressed and anxiety stricken. 

There is story I keep in the back of my mind for situations like this.  It’s about a monk who lives by himself in a village.  One day a baby is delivered to him by the angry parents of a girl who says the monk impregnated her.  The monk takes the baby in without question, saying, “so be it,” and for several years he raises her.  When she is a toddler, the parents come back with their daughter and apologize to the monk; for he is not the father.  The girl was afraid to tell the truth about her pregnancy, and in order to keep a boy from getting into trouble, she lied and blamed the monk.  The family took the toddler back into their care, and the monk, without question says, “so be it,” and goes about his business.

I believe the monk practiced, “Life on life’s terms,” beyond anything that I could ever imagine “being,” but I’m giving it the good ole’ college effort today.  It is not for me to judge what comes my way in this human experience of mine.  If I am open to receiving, and trusting in a higher purpose for my life, I should ask no questions.  I should trust that this is par for the course of my recovery.  I won’t sit here and lie about how I felt yesterday.  It was the first time in a long time that a shot of alcohol tempted me in my disoriented state of shock and anxiety.  I reached out, however, and told on myself for these alcoholic fantasies I was having.  They were old tapes playing.  Back in the day, receiving news like this would have been a perfect reason to drink.  I’m still shedding old skins and practicing NOT picking up a drink.  This was good practice.

Four months of a meth relapse, and my ex is looking at state prison time.  Our daughter will be well into her teens when he gets released, and our son will be an adult.  I will be in my forties.  The old part of me wants to scream at the top of my lungs and slap this man who is supposed to be a father to my children, but the recovering person in me wants to be like that monk in the village.  I remind myself today that I am not in control.  I’m not the conductor of my life; I’m merely a passenger on a spiritual journey.