Ten Things Tuesday

22 10 2008

  This weeks ten things is brought to you by my friend MST! It is late because I asked her to guest post late Monday afternoon. Technically, she had it done on Tuesday but I was sound asleep by the time it reached my in box. Here goes;

Hi! My name is MST, and I’m an alcoholic. Really. Now don’t
fret…this isn’t a mellowdramatic Lifetime movie or after-school
special. It’s just my life…a life that has improved exponentially
since October 15, 2002-the day after my last alcoholic drink …as of
today. Last week, I celebrated 6 years of sobriety, and Auntie asked
me to write about ten things that have improved in that time for her
Ten Things Tuesday. To be honest, it’s hard to pull out just 10, but
I’ll do my best.

1. My basic physical health.

2. My ability to forgive.

3. My ability to empathize.

4. My relationship with my family.

5. My relationships with friends, and my ability to be a friend.

6. My ability to actually have fun and LAUGH!!!

7. My ability to have any and all feelings…and cope with them.

8. My ability to own my part, take responsibility for mistakes, but
also see what’s NOT mine.

9. My ability to relax.

10. My sex life. 🙂

I would love to elaborate, and really, sobriety has given me so much
more and continues to do so, but I’m running out of Tuesday, and I’m
exhausted! Just know that my whole life has improved. Is it perfect?
Lord, no!!! But I like imperfection!

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8 responses

22 10 2008
Auntie

Happy 6 years MST! Although I didn’t know you six years ago, I do know how hard it is to overcome an addiction. I am so proud of you for the work you have done and you continue to do and I am proud to be your friend!

And thanks for being the first to guest post on my blog!

22 10 2008
Kizz

Welcome and congratulations! 6 years is a long time and sounds like you’ve made the most of every moment of it.

22 10 2008
SLM1

I’m sorry this is so late! But congrats! I’d like to add to your list! It has brought you new experiences and, consequently, new friends. It’s given you the opportunity to enrich those friends’ lives and we are so happy that you have!

22 10 2008
mrschili

Congratulations. I’d be interested to hear, if you have the inclination and the ability, about the difference in perspectives between the person you were then and the one you are now. Can you remember what that person thought and, if you can, can you explain her rationale and motivations?

22 10 2008
Organic Mama

This is a wonderful set of realizations and I am so happy you’re experiencing these relationships, abilities – as well as your sex life – in such a better way. Good for you!

22 10 2008
MST

Hi all…thanks for your warm welcome and warm wishes!
Auntie: You’re welcome for blogging…and for being your friend. And since it’s a two-way street, thanks for asking me to blog, and thanks for being MY friend, too!
SLM1: you’re right! New experiences, and new friends like you guys…real friends with emotions and unblocked hearts and spirits! Thanks!
Mrs Chili: Your question is hard to answer because the answer isn’t black and white, nor is it simple. To make it as simple as possible…the person that I was was selfish and self-centered, ruled by fear, emotionally stunted, and needed to feel in control of everything on the outside. That’s not how I live anymore, and as long as I stay honest, openminded, and willing, I’ll continue to grow out of those character flaws (as well as others, I am sure).
It might help if I elaborated on my Ten Things, and since I have some time tonight, I’ll indulge myself. Read on if you’re interested…if not, no worries!

1. As far as my physical health goes…I had always been a ‘healthy’ person, and very aware of my physical self. During the last year of my drinking, when I was only 34, my blood pressure was starting to elevate and I had insomnia…2 early signs of a physical addiction to alcohol. I had a healthy diet and I exercised regularly, so there was no other explanation and I could no longer use my ‘healthy lifestyle’ (ya know…except for that whole drink till I blacked out thing) as a way to deny my problem.

2. Forgiveness: Resentments and anger are like poison to everyone, but addicts can hold grudges, and get hurt on a deeper level by seemingly benign events. Understanding this about myself and understanding that everyone is human, just like me, and not perfect, helps me let the anger and hurt go…and after having that sense of freedom once, I understood that resentment and anger really only hurt me, and forgiveness feels better for me (that doesn’t mean that I let people walk over me or continually hurt me…now I know that I have a choice whether or not to put myself in the position to be hurt by having unrealistic expectations, among other things). I’ve also learned to forgive myself…and have realistic expectations of myself.

3. Empathy: By listening to complete strangers share about some really difficult emotions, and realizing that many times I have felt the same things…and by sharing my own stuff and having people identify with my thoughts helps me realize that ‘it is by understanding that we are understood.’

4. My family relationships: This one is complicated, but the main thing is that I’m not afraid to be close to my family, let them know what’s going on in my life, or that by doing so, I will get hurt. I might feel hurt, but now I’m an adult and can say something, which in itself helps the relationship grow. However, please understand that my fear isn’t just gone…I’m just aware of it and make the choice to walk through it and trust.

5. My relationships with friends and my ability to be a friend: Similar to #4, I walk through a fear of being hurt and getting close. I’m also not mentally obsessed with my drink and the drinks of everyone around me (am I drinking more than her? is she almost ready for another one? will there be enough wine at the table? etc), so I’m able to be present in any given interaction.

6. Having fun and laughing: Of course, when I first stopped drinking, I thought I’d never have fun again…or that I wouldn’t be fun anymore. Now, I realize that I had stopped having fun a long time ago. Since I’m not obsessed about alcohol, and I no longer have a self-centered fear of ‘looking stupid,’ I can have fun doing just about anything.

7. Feelings and emotions: I was literally terrified of my feelings, and I thought that I was supposed to always just be happy. Of course, that’s impossible, so drinking helped me forget about my feelings and pretend they weren’t there. Well, 34 years of sadness, anger, rage, disappointment…everything…came out when I stopped drinking (not immediately, of course, but when I was ready)…and I survived. Now I know that feelings are not facts, and that they change…the saying ‘this too shall pass’ has proven to be invaluable.

8. Owning what’s mine, and knowing what’s not mine: This is connected to a few of the others, but all relationships go both ways, so no matter what, I ALWAYS play a part in the relationship. I’m never a blameless victim, nor am I responsible for everyone else’s happiness.

9. Relaxing: As you can imagine, holding in all that emotion made me pretty wound up. Drinking was the only thing I knew that allowed me to ‘turn off.’ These days, I’m generally not as wound up in the first place, and a cup of tea, some meditation, some reading, journal writing, my pets, etc soothes me…with no hangover!

10. My sex life: Without sharing TMI…the improvement stems from being not as wound up inside, and having the ability to connect emotionally (and expect my partner to do the same).

Again…these things can be difficult to explain…and to understand…and growth in sobriety is far from linear. It’s a process, some are sicker than others, and sobriety isn’t really for people who need it…it’s for people who WANT it, because it’s a lot of work. But believe me…it’s worth it. And for today, writing this blog has helped me stay sober because I’m reminded of all that sobriety has brought me, and for that, I am so grateful.

ok…enough about me…what do you guys think about me? (hahahahaha…I hope you can sense the sarcasm)

23 10 2008
mrschili

Thank you; those were really thoughtful answers to a difficult question.

I’m an English teacher who just finished doing a unit on personal narrative with my students. Their assignment was to document a change that they’d undergone; to describe who they were before, to tell what happened, then to demonstrate who they are as a result of that experience. Most of them did pretty terrible jobs with the assignment; they still don’t have the “show, don’t tell” idea down, and most of them are either unwilling or unable to really look critically at themselves and think through the full implications of an experience. THAT’S what I was looking for from you – a compare/contrast thing between who that girl was and who she is now. Of course, for YOU I was looking out of curiosity, not for a grade…

23 10 2008
MST

ahhhhh…I understand. Basically, you wanted to hear my ‘story,’ like I tell when I’m the speaker in meetings. We use the “What it was like, what happened, and what it’s like now” line out of the Big Book of AA to give us the structure for that kind of share. Usually, it includes examples of alcohol-related ‘jackpots’ and how they progress over time, the ‘moment of truth’ that brought us in and finally surrender, and examples of differences and how we changed. That’s really how it works…because even though we all have different external experiences, we all have the same internal ones…emotions mostly stemming from fear that I and others dealt with using alcohol (others use food, drugs, over-working, etc). It’s always imperative to remember what I was like…where it brought me, and then to recognize the differences.

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