Live and Let Live

“Live and let live” was the topic at a recent speaker meeting.  This simple phrase got me to do a 180 turn with my frustration with a person / situation.  The frustration over several days got my brain back into that crazy thinking that there was an outlet in a bottle, a glass, just a sip.  No, I didn’t go there but you know how it is when your brain starts getting all worked up over something and finding a way out of the mania is a foggy path.

Both drinking and sober, I’ve found that I’m a bit of a control freak.  Mind you, it seems I’ve been this way for years, and I’m the last one at the party to recognize it.  Drinking, the need to control the access to alcohol, to make just the right plans to allow for pre-drinking, to know that if I control everything ever so properly that I’d be able to continue with my charade of normalcy.  Sober, its crazy how that control freak still rears its ugly head.  You see, for six months I headed up a team of women raising money and awareness for a big cause & event.  Planning took a lot of time because we were new to working together, yet we each grew in valuable ways through the process.  With just two weeks left before the event, a team member drastically changed her role and every day seemed to have drama that inevitably turned the energy to her.  My carefully made plans were going all loopy and it just ticked me off.  Brooding day and night was my brain’s activity.

And then there was the solution, simple as can be, laid out there for everyone at the meeting to mull over.  Live and let live.  It was the mental kick in the pants that was needed.  24 hours later, I was calm and the desire to handle the situation by numbing myself had passed.  The event weekend was marvelous.  Using the mantra of live and let live let me keep my focus on the big picture.  I’ve ever so thankful that the message was there and that I was willing to listen.

Using Your Tools: Read Recovery Literature

Sometimes I wish that I could scoot ahead 24 hours in order to be able to look back and figure out if an odd mood or day is a real issue that needs to be grappled with or a simple oddity to be quietly noted.  For this past week, I’ve found myself getting easily agitated.  Along with that, I realize that my level of complacency is growing.  Its time to go back and review the tools learned in outpatient care and incorporate more of them into daily situations.

The 4th of July means a big ol’ party at our house.  This tradition started before we were even married, living in a small house in the sketchy part of town, where we’d BBQ and at night everyone would climb up on the roof to watch the town fireworks being launched just a few blocks away.  Fireworks are a must, and our town is crazy for them, even though all fireworks are technically illegal in the county.  These days we’re into one huge “brick” of high flying spectacular fireworks.  When the kids were at different ages we went through sparkler phases, firecrackers and anything else loud and annoying, and mortars for blowing up any type of fruit or vegetable available.  All good fun, to be sure.

This year, of course, was my first year to host this celebration while sober. Honestly, the last two years were much, much harder than this year.  You see, I had to make sure I drank enough all day to feel normal, have extra alcohol hidden during the party so I could fortify my drinks while looking like a normal drinker, and all the time making sure I could think clearly enough to host a party with illegal fireworks.  Phew!  This year, it was just about doing everything sober.  Just.  Turns out that the pre-party preparations are so much easier when with a clear head! Friends drinking beer and soda wasn’t a bother. Conversation was easy and playing with water balloons is always fun and funny.  But a few hours in, that feeling of being uncomfortable in my own skin set in.  Its pretty creepy.  While not sold on the idea of using tools to make a situation better, there have been instances when they have been useful to divert my crazy thinking enough to get through the situation.

Reading recovery literature was my choice during the party.  Sneaking upstairs for ten minutes was easy.  Picking up a few daily thought books, one spoke to me.  “Free at last, free at last …”  Yes, to spend this time right now free from the grips of alcohol’s ugly hold was freeing.  Focus on free, focus on free.  The sensation of being uncomfortable in my own skin didn’t fully subside, but in my mind I had my own mini celebration of freedom.  Fireworks, indeed.