Its been a really busy week, and so last week I was a little behind. Its funny to me how much busier my life now that I don't have to work at preparing to drink, and I thought the void of TV and the void of being single for the first time in years would, together, be deep vacuums where my time would seem endless. But I am busy - and I seem to have more to do now that I have nothing to do if that makes any sense.
Last week we continued in Relapse Awareness - this is the part of addiction awareness that is most important to me. One of the characteristics of an addict is that they don't want to wait for change. Alcoholics and addicts need change to happen right now, and drugs, alcohol, smoking, eating, gambling, other compulsive behaviors - all these things teach us that immediate change is possible. This is a chemically learned reaction.
Simply put, we have two parts of our brain - the neocortex (located in the front of the head) - it allows us to store information. It allows us to make decisions and to remember these things. The other part is the limbic system - which controls the automatic systems of the body and the emotions - its beautiful in that it the part that controls the emotions is also the part that controls the survival responses - fight or flight. The limbic system does not have a memory like the neocortex, it doesn't know the difference between yesterday and 20 years ago - I think this is why childhood traumas and past events can trigger a relapse - your brain says, "there is no danger, you aren't going to be hurt by this," - but your heart is saying, "WHOAH! I know this means I need to escape, where's my booze!"
Basically, an addict trains some behaviors to be triggers:
I have needs but my needs are not being met, so I feel hurt of abandoned, well SCREW YOU, I DONT NEED ANYBODY, I found comfort in some gin, (repeat) - now I am an addict.
So, you need to reprogram your brain, and this takes time. Its strange how being here, I am encountering some of the same events of my past - things that I identified as triggers last week, and I am reprogramming my brain - almost one by one, on how to cope without booze. This can be done without rehab, mind you - but if you're gonna do it - this is a pretty good place to be.
I used to close down emotionally, but you are all witness to this process and I am an open blog. Resentment used to creep into relationships, but now love is replacing those resentments (forgiving my friend for doing something crappy), I used to isolate but now I seek out people, where once my critical bitchy attitude pointed out what drove me nuts about people, I am beginning to notice more of their good qualities.
By no stretch is this a cure for me, but rehab isn't just about a new way of behaving, its a new way of thinking. And the guys on the ranch approach it many different ways - mine is to approach it from a place of peace of mind - where once the conflict of conscience which blared noises in my head encouraged me to drink in order to pass out or ignore it, I now face it head on, boldly walk over, turn down the volume and then, as I walk away, I blow it a kiss good bye - hell, I'm still a nice guy!
Speaking of peace and quiet, I went with a group this past week to scout out some open areas where I would like to ride the horse. Talk about peaceful, its BEAUTIFUL out there. The canyons, the swallows nests embedded on the side of the rocks, its amazing. See the pictures.
I also will be phasing this week to phase 2 (hopefully) which means more time and freedoms - so I'll keep you posted - this is another reason I was so busy last week, I had a ton of homework in order to advance to the next phase.
A couple weeks ago on my birthday, I walked outside and saw a brilliant rainbow - amazing! It was like the ranch was telling me happy birthday too! It was a nice way to start a new year. Here is a photo that I took.
I also visited the City, and unlike the last time, this time, I was prepared for it and it didn't startle me. I am heading back in a couple weeks and can't wait to see everyone. I am not the least bit nervous about relapsing that weekend, and its a nice feeling to have that kind of security in myself for the first time in ages.
Enjoy the photos, and I have some REALLY interesting stuff to tell you about this week. It was an AMAZING weekend!