Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The best $10 burger.....

Well, I've got to tell you, I had a major mental blockage last week. It was tough because I had committed myself to the tranquility of the ranch and had forgotten that, at time, real life would come knocking at my door.

I mentioned the challenges I was facing regarding a friend who was repeatedly making a decision that kept pissing me off - and frankly, hurt my feelings deeply. And I had decided that I would just let it go and see what lessons life would bring to me. Its funny how the universe works when you listen.

So I spoke to Rusty, my therapist, and we kind of broke it down a little bit. I explained to him that there had been a disrupt in a relationship I had with a friend in the City, and this was causing a bunch of distraction to me and that I couldn't concentrate and I was focusing my energies on this event and less on the things at the ranch. Its easy and dangerous to get distracted by life outside, and one hard lesson is learning to control your life as it is, confined to the ranch, and not how you think it should be. Learning to surrender to this is a great challenge, but a necessary lesson.

One thing he explained to me was that when you feel that kind of a distraction with a person or an event, its likely that you feel this way because you have miscategorized this person. In other words, you're not going with the mental flow. You are trying to look at this person or relationship in a way that is no longer working with the dynamics of your brain and heart and situation. You may want to be a protector, to be a close friend, even to be in love - and if this person is not right for those categories, your whole brain has what I call, a malfunction of conscience (YES, I made up this term)- and you can't reconcile the things this person or event causes.

So, I've recategorized, and the distractions ebbed. This mental cloudiness is normal, however, for someone as they get tot he 60 or 90 day of sobriety. As your brain begins to recategorize the rest of your life in a sober perspective, its natural that your relationships will undergo this as well, and letting your brain put people where they belong and not fighting it can be a real scary thing because the brain does it regardless of what you want.

I thought this would be it. But on Sunday, I went to Church. The message was pretty clear to me - it was basically the biblical lesson about the blind leading the blind and not being judgemental. In it, Jesus says that its ridiculous for you to tell someone else they have some saw dust in their eye when you have a wooden plank sticking out from yours. In other words, don't be calling someone out on their faults, and don't label someone, and especially, DO NOT slap them with a condemnation - even in your own heart. You don't know their experiences or what their lives have been like.

And so I thought about the friend I am losing because he is planting all that Canadian Thistle in his emotional garden. I thought about the resentment of him doing this again, of how I feel betrayed by this. And I thought about the condemnation label I had placed. And I thought, and with my newly cleared up mind that I got from recategorizing him a little bit earlier, I had decided that I should forgive - and I am not talking about the friend. I could eventually probably forgive the friend anyway. There was a greater challenge -

I had to somehow find it in my heart to forgive the thistle for being a thistle. I had labeled this person who was killing my friend's spirit an insidious character and I was carrying around the burden of hating this thistle - and this not only wore me out on some level, it may not even be fair, but especially, it gave this thistle power over me - so... I forgave the thistle for being an asshole. ;-) OK, forgiveness is a work in progress.

Anyway, I decided to look at the things I am responsible for, and the things I am not - and when you see them, life is less of a burden. When you add the reflection of what you can control and you can not, life becomes almost harmonic. And the people that I am leaving, or that may be leaving me.... well, they are people that I need to recategorize or lose, and I need to understand, there are some people who may be a little resentful that I am here, that it had to come to this, that I had to leave them in order to fix something. And maybe someday they can forgive me because I had to do this and I let it get this far, and on some level, I had to leave them. But just for now.

But although regret is not good to keep - its magnificent to feel. In fact, most emotions - even bad ones, are magnificent to feel. Take it from someone who's been numb for the better part of a decade.

My family came to see me over the weekend - AND my beloved dog. This was GREAT! I was very excited to see them and to share the coolness of the ranch with my nephews and my niece. I got to see my brother and sister in law, and of course, my parents came to see me. I wished I had more time to spend with my dad, we didn't get to talk too much and I could tell he wanted to talk to me - but all the activity made it hard. But the fact that he reached over to me at the end and made sure I gave him a hug was real cool. Very out of character - and as I've said before, I've noticed people surprise you when you surprise them. So, the fact that he surprised me means I may be surprising him, which means - ultimately, he believes in me - and thats the kind of 'cred' you cant just ask for - you gotta earn that.

But my parents generously gave me money for my birthday. (THANK YOU BOTH BTW!!!) I decided to do something normal that evening. I invited my two best friends - Curtis and Lane- to a small dinner (Small as in, I only spent $10). They are phase 2 guys so I had to go to town with one of them. I asked them both to come and have a burger with me. So, there we sat, in the Loaf n' Jug gas station, eating a burger, and for a while, I felt like a normal person who was not in rehab. And it was great. After the week of mental turmoil, and the inability to hide in a drunken state at some point to deal with it, the fact that I survived it, dealt with it, and then had a most remarkable Sunday.... well, this is how life is supposed to me and I was proud of myself and I am glad I got to celebrate that with them. Even if they didn't know why I was celebrating.

In my addictions class we are speaking about controlling cravings. In the syllabus, this is lesson 3 (last week was obstacles to recovery if you recall). This week, we are examining triggers and cravings. Some of the guys have dreams about drinking or doing drugs. Admittedly, I have had these dreams as well at times - where I wake up and feel like I am waking up from being drunk.

The facilitator said that this is also normal. That we tend to dream about things we fear, things we anticipate, or things we want. And maybe we want to be drunk, or fear it. A friend of mine (who once said about the 12 step program requirement that you make amends, "People don't want to hear that you've stopped stealing VCR's.... They want the VCR you stole from them BACK), this friend said, "Heck, I dream about being high on crack all the time, but I just enjoy it, I consider it a freebie."

Drug addicts always have such an insightful good perspective.

Anyway, What I've realized is that cravings are common. They may be so strong that you feel like you'll go crazy. I've also not had any significant cravings yet (other than cigarettes), but I think its because the memories of the damage of being drunk are so fresh in my mind. When these memories subside and I start to remember the good times I had on booze, I am worried the cravings will become more challenging. Your brain tends to remember the good stuff over long times. Mine does, anyway.

But cravings and triggers can be overt (I drink when I am lonely, I drink when I am bored, I drink when I need to relieve stress, I drink when I want to be popular, etc.) or covert - and these covert triggers are the ones that I need to figure out. I don't have a CLUE what they are yet. There must be a reason that I can become irritable, upset, or edgy - and - sure its because I am not drinking - but what triggered that covert desire to drink. Drinking can mean power, stability, confidence, love, and other things that are nice to feel - and release me from the burdens of life. And something must happen to me on some level to make me feel like I'm not those things or do not have those things, and so I drink.

Thats my theory anyway.

So, I'll be looking at this over the next week as I let the whole trigger lesson sink in. Hey, it takes me a minute to figure some of this stuff out.

I am supposed to be looking at my internal triggers - my feelings, my thoughts, and physical sensations. Then my external cravings - people, events, rituals, situations, etc. Then I will have to look at recent cravings, how I coped with this without alcohol, and how I would feel if I gave in to this.

Now these all seem like elementary life lessons - but it really means something when you have to write them out and look at them on paper. So.... I'll be doing this tonight. I'll let you know if I have an epiphany of some kind. But everyone should do this as well - whether you struggle with booze, drugs, emotions, food, work, cigarettes, or anything else you want to stop doing.

Its very eye opening.

THEN.... on Thursday, I will get to the portion of the class where we deal with cravings busters. And, I peeked.... lots of good ideas. Like going someplace, accepting this will pass, doing something to take your mind off it, calling someone, etc. I havent gotten the lesson yet, so I cant expand on these, but when I do - it may be some cool stuff.

I know one thing, though. There is gonna be "Eat a $10 burger at the Loaf n' Jug with friends," on my list of ways to cope with a really stressful week.

Days sober: 55
Days without Bonnie Hunt: 46

1 comment:

  1. Just checking in to see how you are doing. I was very upset that I was not able to get up there this weekend. And, I saw the pictures, which were amazing. They only further confirmed that I am jealous of your surroundings. You get to get away from it all, and work out your feelings, and I have always wanted a personal therapist. Things have been really difficult for me lately and I have only a few days a week to accomplish a lifetime of things. But I am dying to see where you live in person, and catch up with you. Don't think that I forgot about you, I am just trying to get some affairs in order before going up there. I have so much to tell you. Stay positive!
    You know who...