Recovering the Natural Capacity to Listen

In my worst, I’m able to fully convince myself that it is indeed me who is in charge.  In charge of my drinking and how to keep it going. In charge of knowledge that there are no real thoughts and feelings because I know full well that it can all be broken down to chemicals and synapses.  You see, I know this.  And that makes me in charge.  And it makes me right.

And oh, that is exactly what propelled my down the road with my best friend, alcohol.  Knowing I was right, and everyone else was just full of empty wishes, was my downfall.  Still today, it creeps back into my mind and takes up residence in its comfortable home.  Recently I’ve been taking specific steps to make that home less comfortable.  

These steps have proven to be beneficial:

1.  Force myself to listen without judgement.

2.  Make myself willing to consider other views, or better yet, open myself to the wisdom of others without considering anything.

3.  At the end of each day, actually writing down at least one example of these from my actual experience that day: Gratitude, Good, Glitch, Goal.  

4.  Read aloud this excerpt from Thomas Merton at least 4 times daily:

“The reality that is present to us and in us:

call it Being … Silence.

And the simple fact that by being attentive by learning to listen

(or recovering the natural capacity to listen)

we can find ourself engulfed in such happiness that it cannot be explained:

the happiness of being at one with everything in that hidden ground of love

for which there can be no explanations …

May we al grow in grace and peace,

and not neglect the silence that is printed in the centre of our being.

It will not fail us.”

 

Recovering the natural capacity to listen.  Amazing.  

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The Decision to Break Free

Tomorrow will be my 11 month sober-versary.  Looking back now its clear that it was this time last year that the anxiety of knowing I had to quit had passed.  My deep worries that when I quit drinking, there was a pretty decent chance that it would bring about emotional or physical death, were put behind me.  

The drinking was killing me.  

No longer did I even bargain with myself about quitting on my own; that had long passed.  Withdrawal symptoms waking me up in the middle of the night had become common place.  The realization that I had to take a leap of faith and put myself into a professional’s care was accepted.  

Last night I was at yet another of those Annual Events Experienced Sober For The First Time experiences.  Unlike so many other such events, there was no shame.  One year ago it was already cemented in my mind that never again would I be a part of this powerful event promoting personal growth and bonding while secretly isolating myself and drinking.  Either I would have lost my job and family, or I wouldn’t be drinking, or both. I remember the peace from knowing the craziness, the desperation, was going to come to an end. 

One year ago, despite being so deep into my illness, there was calm. Serenity.

Doing the Work

23217301-work-word-on-vintage-broken-car-license-plates-concept-signIn September 2014 when I was completely beat down and knew that my drinking days were finally over, knew that the gig was up and that serious consequences were about to break down my door and decimate life as I knew it, when I picked up the phone and called the chemical dependency number at my medical group, I thought quitting drinking would be like removing a sliver.  Once that little sliver was out, that the pin prick of a hole it had made in me had healed, everything would be perfect.  Little did I know.

 

This morning in my AA 12 by 12 meeting, I was asked to read the promises.  What a coincidence.  The last line has been on my mind lately.  “They will always materialize if we work for them.”  A robust proclamation by the fellowship of “work, work, work!” follows.

 

My guess is that I’m not alone in working to fortify my strengths and let other areas of my life languish.  For example, exercise in the morning is key to keeping good physical and emotional energy throughout the day.  My legs are strong and my core is weak.  So what do I do?  Go to spin classes 3 mornings and jog 2 mornings.  At my job, I work to be a reliable specialist within my company and always stay a few steps of the others in the most current technical advances.  Expanding on that, I’m working to put myself out there at professional conferences.  Physically and professionally I’m making progress.  I guess that my comfort zone is large enough to handle taking healthy risks.

 

At home, somehow I figured that the relationship with my husband would magically be amazing again.  I envisioned long talks, laughs, shared moments.  But the magic isn’t happening.  The work needs to take place.  I need to do this work without the comfort zone of experience, but with the knowledge that with 22 years of marriage, we can handle this.

 

With recovery, yes, going to meetings helps my recovery.  Yes, meeting with my sponsor and doing step work helps my recovery more than ever imagined.  Reading your blogs online helps me grow and reminds me that we are kindred spirits.  But lately I feel that I’ve just been making appearances.  And lately, I feel flat and emotionally unattached.  And no, I’m not drinking, but I’m not feeling like myself, or like anything.  And maybe writing these thoughts out has made them real.  Let the work resume.

 

 

Jitter Bug

Day 317.  Here I’ve been, waiting for the nervousness, the heeby jeebies, the alcoholic tendencies to just melt away and ‘lo and behold they aren’t.  Its been more than a week of nerves and nervousness.  Perhaps a post acute withdrawal symptom phase?  Honest to goodness nervousness?  Who knows.

Looking back, its clear that the most common nervous moments in my life for years all centered around alcohol:

  • How can I sneak this new bottle of vodka into the house?
  • How can I sneak the empty / empties out?
  • Do I know where all of the empties are hidden so I can get them out before the family finds them?
  • How can I pour the vodka hidden in the trunk of my car (how I love you hidden bins for car jack tools) into my morning coffee?
  • Does anyone notice that this lemonade has almost no yellow color?
  • Who is in this store that I know that might see me buying just alcohol?
  • Can I get to the store for the morning supply before the other people I recognize get there too?
  • When I add another store to my list of supply stops, who should I be looking out for at that location?
  • After the 8 hour drive on the family vacation, exactly when will I be able to get alcohol into my system?
  • Will the venue we’re visiting do security checks preventing me from bringing in my own well loaded liquids?
  • Who just may be able to smell the alcohol released from my pores?
  • Which of those people might convince themselves they were mistaken?
  • Who looks at me and thinks, “I remember her.  She’s the one that smelled like alcohol that morning / early afternoon / late afternoon.”

Its that last one that has me all in my head.  I know that the past is the past.  I know that it was my own doings that created that reality.  Now I wonder whether or not its too late to save face.  Couple that with a time at work that provides a strong dose of healthy stress that I’ve always sailed through comfortably numb and you’ve got this alcoholic feeling like a jitter bug.

Yet there is one thing I do know for certain: I’m not going to dance that dance again.