I know I haven’t written much this summer & right now the stuff I’m going through is such that there is no way to write about without everyone I know knowing all the characters involved which wouldn’t be fair. I am going to pick up on Sundays again (starting 8/5) as the new semester is approaching but I am leaving you with a re-post of a blog about living in the solution. It is so important to me right now to stay living in the solution that I must re-post this and honestly I can’t re-post it enough.
I am very thankful to all my friends who have helped me to work through all of my crap and support me by listening, caring, and/or facilitating shopping sprees (yeah, bestie, you know who you are!)
When the going gets tough & my brain gets frazzled I just have to remember: Beer bad, friends good! It is my version of ”don’t drink, go to meetings.”
Here is that re-post: (from Living in the Solution is Living in the Moment)
Problem Oriented Thinking:
- I am unlovable/ bad/ worthless / selfish/ spineless/ stupid / ugly, etc., etc., yadda-yadda-yadda
- I don’t have enough money/ power / appreciation / beauty / time, etc.
- My job doesn’t appreciate my work. They suck.
- I always do something wrong. I suck.
- I’ve always been mistreated … why should it be any different this time? Everyone sucks.
In my problem thinking, I have noticed the following patterns:
- My problem thought focus largely on a scary future. Either something bad will happen or, usually the idea that I am stuck in a never-ending pattern of badness, ex: I will never have enough; I will always be stupid/ mistreated. The words always and never come up a lot. My negativity is full of vast, sweeping generalizations.
- Speaking of vast, sweeping generalizations, my negative, problem-oriented thinking is fond of them. They suck, I suck, Everyone sucks.
- I am seeing that my problems are always “glass ½ empty” thinking. Why do I magnify the very few things I don’t like about my life and blow up them into epic proportions? Hey, I have a job. Yay me.
- Also, there is a lot of worry about how others perceive me in my problem thinking (nobody loves or appreciates me, Boo-Hoo).
All that is really insightful but what does it mean to live in the Solution and not the Problem? To me it means taking that part of the serenity prayer “change the things I can” without an ounce of thought about the future. Solution thoughts are choices in the moment to do or think something positive and nurturing. The negative reactions have been my conditioning for years, so they are bound to pop up even in the best of times. I have discovered that when they come up, in fact in every moment, we have a choice. In every moment we can choose to continue the thought patterns above or move, however reluctantly, toward the thoughts and actions I’ve below as my personal solutions:
Solution Oriented Thoughts:
- I can choose to pray (in whatever way feels comfortable in the moment)
- I can choose to go to a meeting
- I can choose to do a 4th step (or re-visit any step that feels needed, really)
- I can choose to do yoga
- I can choose to meditate
- I can choose to help others by listening, being there, being present at a meeting, etc.
- I can choose to read something (AA approved or not as long as it helps to move through/forward/ UP/OUT)
- I can choose to just focus on the smallest next right thing (make the bed/ take a shower/ feed my cat) and completely give my attention to it.
- I can choose to live in the now
- If I am at work, I can choose to completely just do what is required by my job in that moment without regard for what others think or how it will affect my future
- If I am with friends or family, I can choose to completely be there without thinking about work or problems to solve. I can choose to enjoy the moment with those I love!
- I can choose to make a gratitude list
- I can choose to focus on things I have done RIGHT lately (make a “Done Good” list. I love these!)
- I can choose to hold my cat (for the few seconds she lets me … bliss!)
- I can choose to do affirmations
- I can choose to do a breathing exercise
- I can choose to dance
- I can choose to take a walk
- I can choose to journal
- I can choose to do call an AA person or other uplifting friend
- I can choose to schedule a facial or healing (http://www.healthforlifeisgood.com/)
- I can choose to hug a tree (I really love trees!)
- I can choose to invite a friend over for coffee and listen to their worries and help them grow
- I can choose to make a sincere amend where needed
- I can choose to look for other jobs, career paths, situations, all while focusing on the beauty of the now
- Knowing that I can only ever choose to do the best I can with what I have right now
The point of power is always in the present. My hope is that everyone who reads this gives themselves the gift of the NOW by letting go of the past and future and living in the solution this week!
Sorry I haven’t posted lately. Shakespeare is demanding more of my time than a new lover. Here is the scene I just can’t get right (I am the Friar only I’m a girl so I am actually a pastor. And i am much sexier.)
I am acting in a play this summer – Shakespeare, no less. Doing anything Shakespeare requires a bit of an obsession with the bard; every line he utters has layers of meaning. Luscious language layered like fragrance: with new, surprising, and provocative meaning washing over your soul at any moment. No matter where your brain is, his words follow like an alluring and inescapable scent.
In this relentless obsession, I looked up what Shakespeare would have to say about alcohol and did find a few quotes, each one more hilarious in truth than the next and all seemingly divined to inspire us to play that tape to the end: past the seduction of that comforting first sip to the stupidity, the urine, the performance issues, the death and, of course, the beating of the very ground that steadfastly holds us up. I start off with my favorite Shakespearian alcohol-related quote from one of his most masterful plays:
“O God, that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains!”
“O thou invisible spirit of wine, if thou hast no name to be known by, let us call thee devil!”
- Othello*; Act 2, Scene 3
“What three things does drink especially provoke? Nose-painting, sleep, and urine”
“It provokes the desire but it takes away the performance.”
- MacBeth; Act 2, Scene 3
“… they were red-hot with drinking; so full of valor that they smote the air, for breathing in their faces, beat the ground for kissing of the feet”
- The Tempest; Act 4, Scene 1
*From my perspective, Iago plays the role of our disease in this scene: http://nfs.sparknotes.com/othello/page_112.html
My favorite meeting is at 7:30 on Wednesday and I woke up about 7:35 convincing myself it was Tuesday so I didn’t have to worry about it anyway. My guilty conscious conspired with my fears to produce a nightmare, the very nightmare all of us in sobriety fear the most: the drinking dream. We all have them and know they are harmless but that doesn’t take away their power to creep us out for a few hours at least.
This particular dream followed a rather convoluted plot which ended with my brother calling me on my cell phone as I am walking through traffic. “Dude,” says my brother in this dreamland. “You were soooooo drunk the other night when you called. You must be so embarrassed cause you were crazy. Now that you are off the wagon, wanna get a beer later?”
Soooo, is it a drinking dream if you don’t even remember drinking in the dream? Apparently, my dream blackouts are so intense I don’t even remember drinking in the first place. Dreamland kind of sucks. Actually, the dream was true to the way I drank in the real world: even though I didn’t remember a damn thing, I knew somehow that everything that was reported to me was true.
I’ve been sober 1227 days & I have had at least 30 of these drinking dreams during my recovery and I know they are harmless. Yet they always scare the crap out of me. They remind me of the life I had and the life that is waiting for me if I don’t take my sobriety seriously.
So, drinking dreams always include a positive message for me: remember who you were when you were drinking and who you are now in your sober life.
Creepy as it was, I am glad to wake up in my sober life with this reminder!
Where Heather Kopp blogs about faith, craving, and grace. (Her boots quit drinking in 2007 when she stopped hiding alcohol in them.)
I just created a new website and right now, I have a link from that web-site to this one. This will make it pretty easy to infer my identity!
It also may make some of your comments traceable to back you. If you have made anonymous comments, could you please check the comments you made for anything that would make you uncomfortable now that I am a little more ‘out of the closet?’
Hello, fellow travelers!
I have created a new web-site. Sort of an on-line portfolio. Eventually, I may move my blog there, but for now have a look and tell me what you think!
“I have seen suffering in the darkness, yet I have seen beauty thrive in the most fragile of places. I have seen the Book – the Book that turned darkness into light”.
Opening lines of “The Secret of Kells” movie
The Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript created in approximately 800 AD, and currently much of this magical manuscript is on display at Trinity College in Dublin. This is one of the most important documents in our culture, and this is evidenced by the enormous lines and mobs of people perpetually trying to glimpse over shoulders to the gifts preserved underneath boundaries of glass.
I was fortunate to see this exhibit during my Irish journey last year, pushing my way through the throngs of people who, like me, came to experience this important and mysterious document firsthand. Though the text mostly conveys the Christian gospels, I was personally captivated by a poem about a writer and his cat and their parallel life experiences: as the cat hunts for mice, the writer hunts for words. The last lines of that poem followed me across the ocean:
I get wisdom day and night,
Turning Darkness into light
The exhibition at Trinity is entitled, “Turning Darkness into Light” and this phrase is a motif throughout the enchanting animated movie inspired by the Book of Kells, entitled The Secret of Kells.
As I later pondered this phrase, a truth illuminated inside myself as these words shone a spotlight on a dark corner of my soul. I know now that I write to turn darkness into light. I had heretofore resided in the shadow of shame, housed in that dark fear of disconnection, yet came out of that false shelter through the courageous, honest, and illuminating words of others; the words of my friends, inspiring authors and leaders, and the storytellers who have created light before me. My purpose is to be one such illuminator by humbly sharing my experience of the darkness and the ongoing journey toward illumination wherever it leads.
I believe that humble words of honesty can, in fact, turn darkness into light.
Quick announcement: for the summer I’ll write on Wednesdays due to weekend rehearsals and writer’s conferences and such. But this week, I wanted to present readers with something to think about – this issue of pain medication.
This week I had a kidney stone blasted or zapped or whatever you call it. It hurt. The pain was more intense than I had ever felt in my life. Someone else described it as getting kicked in the kidney with a steal toed boot. I wish. The metaphor could work if, instead of a steal toe, there was a knife attached to the boot and there were 3 of them repeatedly kicking and twisting into the kidney. That just about describes it with some accuracy.
I understand why people writhe in pain instead of say sitting in pain. It is because they are frantically trying to find any possible way to make the pain bearable – some position or place or action that lends some relief. It doesn’t work. The kind of pain I have described likes to multiply.
Here is issue – even addicts don’t seem to question pain meds for suffering like that. 100% of doctors, nurses, and friends; all of which are privy to my alcoholic history agree. There is no need to suffer through that without pharmaceutical help. I agreed, too.
Now, truthfully my issue is alcohol and I never liked the buzz pills gave me. Thankfully, they usually just make me sick. So, I never felt like I was risking sobriety. I wrote down every pill I took and the time so that I could scrutinize it with my sponsor later if I needed to. Luckily, I never needed to. I was happy to get stop taking the pills as soon as possible and avoid the associated nausea and drowsiness. But this doesn’t seem to be the case with everyone.
Moreover, I know what led me to alcohol addiction in the first place was a need to numb emotional pain. For many years, I was writhing in emotional pain; and, just like with the physical pain, I was not at all sure what to do, trying to find a place in my body, my life, this world where I felt comfortable enough to take a breath.
Alcohol just seemed logical at the time. It was medicine.
Thankfully now I have meetings and friends and a spiritual program that helps me with the emotional pain. At the time, though, it was the logic of the suffering.
So, comment or FB me if you have any insight into this issue of pain meds for addicts/alcoholics. I’ll probably write more about this Wednesday.