Thirsty Games Movie Review

Movie Review of Hunger Games 1 and 3:

hunger games Hunger Games – Haymitch

  • always drinking
  • concerned about whether or not alcohol would be available at all times
  • hid alcohol so as never to be without
  • comfortably uncomfortable character in a movie

Hunger Games opening night – Me

  • carefully planned drinking before the show
  • concerned about not having alcohol during the entire movie
  • hid alcohol so as to have a few last sips before going into the movie started
  • uncomfortably comfortable person in my own skin

mocking joyMockingjay part 1 – Haymitch

  • completely sober and aware of everything
  • imposed sobriety due to a lack of provisions in District 13
  • looking fit and trim
  • would likely dive back into drinking at the first opportunity

Mockingjay part 1 – Me

  • completely sober and aware of most everything (except when trying to figure out what my post would be about tonight and deciding whether to go to the gym in the morning or not.  Haymitch. No.)
  • chose sobriety of my own free will
  • looking fit and trim
  • will not drink today



Talk About It

These past few weeks there’s been a more stressful than it should be kind of situation going on. It wasn’t a surprise, yet no amount of my project planning skills could assure that each step would keep things moving forward. It all lead to great anxiety this week. Trembling hands. Fractured thoughts. General unease. Jitters.

Not so long ago, the route to dealing with this was a no brainer. Drink. Preferably alone, to avoid appearing weak and out of control. This solution was easy because it fit every type of happy or stressful situation all of the time.

But this week, I talked about it. My husband listened through the frustrating events as they unfolded, ready to do whatever was required to make things right. I asked my best friend for healing energy which she most certainly provided along with a listening ear.

This post could be used as a type of litmus test. Those who find the story amazing, daring, even risky are my brothers and sisters in recovery. Holding out a hand for help is something so new in my life. But, with such positive results, I’ll probably take the risk to try it again.

Outpatient Treatment Lessons

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Part 4 of a 4 part story wherein our heroin realizes she no longer needs to suffer alone.

The Chemical Dependency Recovery Program 14 day outpatient treatment program is the most intensive program offered by my health insurance. An offer of spending 3 weeks there was offered but I agreed to give it a try with the understanding that 12 days was all I could fit into my schedule. I had important things to do you know, and this whole idea of intensive treatment was clearly overblown. Did nobody notice how well I functioned while drinking?  How could anyone have missed the masterful skills I had developed in order to keep my friend alcohol in my life?

On day 12 of white knuckled sobriety, the serious treatment began. The round trip drive would be almost 3 hours a day. iTunes U became my go to driving time filler. (Learning about Washington quickly lead to Adams which naturally lead to Madison. If the three I’d easily choose Madison as a dinner guest ) in the mornings I still worked out which was a good call because treatment involved way more sitting than usual. I learned to eat breakfast in the car and find fairly healthy options at take out restaurants.

The facility was across from a hospital. This was no accident. When a body comes to depend on alcohol, seizures can happen during the detox process. This is different than detox from drugs which just feels like you’re dying but actually aren’t. There were quite a few days where people in treatment ended up in the hospital and conversely when people hospitalized for detox came right across the street to begin treatment. And there were drug tests. Often. Turns out that even though we self reported our number if sobriety days each morning, addicts still have a propensity to lie. Hence the tests. Whoever got pulled out of morning check in was totally busted due to a positive drug test the day before.

What are we going to do all day? Sit around and listen to lectures? Play ping pong? Talk about how it really really sucks not to be drinking? Turns out we had a full schedule: morning check in, addiction education class, relapse prevention class, group sessions, meditation, acupuncture, and an AA meeting in town every day at lunch. Then in the evenings we had to call at least 3 people in the program to check in. On top of that were four homework assignments that required time and reflection.

Head still in a fog I came in and learned to navigate the daily routine and ever changing social groups. While each of us took different roads of various addictions to get here, we were in the same boat. In the rooms no one had anything to hide. Simply spending the day with people sharing this painful journey provided hope.

Homework assignment #1, my history with alcohol, was due on day 5. In group, whoever had an assignment due would read it to the group and receive feedback. Now, after so many years of hiding, isolating and manipulating, it was time to tell the truth. Having convinced myself of so many of my takes and excuses, just sorting out that truth was challenging. What were the pivotal points? The shame and embarrassment overwhelmed me and my nature would be to sugar coat it. To convince you that my presence here was all a big misunderstanding. You see, I’m really an amazing person if only you knew. But my gut told me to bring that act to an end and take the hand of those offering help. Offering hope. So I wrote my story. Wrote the hidden things I had done that no one else would have even imagined. Wrote about my husband’s reaction. His attempts to help I had completely refused. The embarrassment I endured in order to keep drinking. I took away the power by writing it all down. And then I had to read it.

Hands sweaty, voice trembling, nerves on fire, I took out my writing and began to read aloud. As the most personal, embarrassing pieces were revealed, I noticed that heads started to nod. Smiles started to appear. Giggles were heard. As soon as my story was finished, they chimed in with how they did the exact same thing.  Same motivations. Same actions. Some even more extreme than mine.

It was a miracle – I wasn’t the only person in the entire world going through this private hell. No longer was I unique and special in this addiction. I wasn’t alone. At that moment I was ready and willing to clean out the years of gunk and start anew.

Part 1 of a 4 part story wherein our heroin makes the call that will change her life.

Part 2 of a 4 part story wherein our heroin is introduced to the chart.

Part 3 of a 4 part story wherein our heroin bumbles through a dark tunnel.

It is my hope that by sharing my story, others can find strength and hope to find a way to overcome their obstacles, alcohol or otherwise.


The Time Warp, aka Recovery Week

Part 3 of a 4 part story wherein our heroin bumbles through a dark tunnel.

The intake meeting ended with these take aways:clock

  • 3 nights a week at the medical health center plus 12 step meetings meant that my social life was pretty much wiped out for 1/4 of a year.  During the holidays.
  • This was better than the possibility that seemed to be considered to just send me straight to the hospital for detox.
  • The counselor got all show offy with the office staff and had them rearrange the schedule of the medical doctor on staff so she could see me tomorrow. (bad judgment call on my end it turns out, my health was honestly at risk)
  • Paperwork and specific directions to get to the hospital immediately if the shaking intensified.  The fear of seizures was real.  Alcohol detox is the one type of detox that can actually result in death.  Great, as if not drinking wasn’t awful enough.  Now the risk of death enters the picture.

At home, I finally had the talk with my husband. Told him about needing to quit, about the recovery plan, about the schedule, about the possibility of seizures.  Cried over being so lost, hurting the family. Cried out of fear. Lots and lots of fear. Looked at the paperwork and what to watch out for regarding seizures. His mom went through recovery when he was a young teen and he had a much better idea than I did about what was to come. In my mind, this whole thing was still completely overblown. Alcohol was just that tiny, itty bitty splinter. Once removed, life would be glorious because I had set it all up that way.

Woke up at 2am shaking. Withdrawals. Woke up again at 5am shaking.Withdrawals.  Went to work shaking. Couldn’t think. Didn’t know what to do with myself.  Withdrawals. 90% of my brain is trying to figure out how to hold it together leaving not nearly enough to breathe, walk, and work.  Went home and didn’t know what to do. Hour by hour I told myself.  Hour?!  10 minutes by 10 minutes was still too long. Went to the appointment with the medical doctor. Put my hands out so she could judge how much they were shaking.  It was crazy. She smiled but couldn’t find anything polite to say like “its not too bad,” because the shaking was ridiculous. More plans, some type of prescriptions. Drove home and ten-minuted it through about 40 minutes. No way I could figure out what to do with myself all evening. So, I jumped in the car and drove back to the medical center to join the recovery group 4 days early.

Now we’re entering totally new territory.  Group therapy, heck any type of therapy, was completely new to me. A nice group of people sat in a circle and talked about stuff, more stuff, making plans for attending events sober, and other stuff. What in the world? No one was talking about surviving the craziness in my head. How to get through the next 10 minutes. How to fill that time spent drinking. All of it. As it crept by. Slowly. But group filled time so it was useful.

Attending a 12 step meeting was the next order of business. I got a list of places and times for the next town over and staked them out. Visiting a meeting of AA with all of those pathetic alcoholics was going to be the most shameful part of this whole thing. I mean, really. Sitting for an hour with people who were losers of the greatest magnitude was a miserable idea. But I went. Turns out, they were everyday people you’d meet at the store or business venture. They were well spoken, thoughtful, and funny. Funny! Listening to them talk, an “aha” moment occurred – we spoke the same language. We had the same story. It was my first glimpse of what was possible.

Next: part 4 of 4 wherein our heroin shares her cleverest, most hidden secrets and finds an unexpected reaction.

It is my hope that by sharing my story, others can find strength and hope to find a way to overcome their obstacles, alcohol or otherwise.


The Early Recovery Plan

Part 2 of a 4 part story wherein our heroin is introduced to the chart.

My life was just grand, except for this little problem: I couldn’t stop drinking. As my need for alcohol increased, it was carefully balanced out with good deeds to provide balance. This was essential to my very survival, and with hard work and deep determination I kept that balance in tact. With so much goodness present, once the alcohol was removed, just like a splinter, the goodness would fill that small hole and I’d be as good as new. That was my plan.

The counselor I met with had a different plan. After hearing my story, my very clever story, my totally unique story about how I managed to live an enviable life while hiding alcohol and drinking every day to maintain normalcy, after doing whatever basic calculations counsellors do to apply a multiplier to the amount of alcohol I self reported ingesting each day, he pulled out The Chart. A three month plan. Three days a week at the medical center for group sessions, family education, and relapse prevention PLUS at least one 12 step meeting a week.

Clearly he had missed all of the good parts. You know, the community volunteer work cooking for families with cancer, the exercise regimen including daily workouts, races, and the 39 mile Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, the respect at work, the calm family life. He had me mistaken for a lesser person. Someone whose life was a mess. Someone who needed some serious guidance and support.

I just needed help removing that little sliver.

Next: the time warp

The Science of 12 Step Programs

auto-cookies-flow-chart-201002Logic and order make my brain happy.  Math and science were always my favorite subjects in school.  Reading Supreme Court rulings just for the fun of following the logic is a perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon.  Oh, and flowcharts!  The flow chart at the end of each Wired magazine is just like that hit of chocolate at the bottom of a Drumstick ice-cream cone.

Taking a brain like this to three AA meetings each week can be a bit of a carnival ride.  On “off days” it would be easy to prove all of AA completely false and useless before the steps and promises have been read at the start of the meeting.  If they only knew what I knew!!!

Enter Dr. John Kelly, professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Recovery Research Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital and a guest of the Bubble Hour podcast.  Their discussion on the topic of the science of 12 step facilitation was so utterly fascinating that I’ve listened to it three times already.  If your brain rationalizes everything, if you can write formulas and proofs as to why 12 step programs are a bunch of hooey, do yourself a favor and make some time to listen.  As a bonus, there is some Jungian philosophy thrown in.

My takeaway is that 12 step programs may not work quite in the way they think they do, but they do work in a way that science can substantiate.  And that is something I can wrap my brain around.




Drinking Dreams

Bring imagesup the topic of drinking dreams to any recovery group and the the place will light up with stories. Funny, frightening, nerve-racking, unbelievable, believable, and just plain old crazy stories are shared by each of us.  Last night I had my second drinking dream with the same theme: apathy.

Being home alone last night, so I took the opportunity to watch / fast forward through my guilty pleasure TV shows of the week.  Truth be told, without a DVR and fast forward button, there’s no chance I’d use my time on any of these.  1) The Voice.  Amazing to see the growth in the performers over just two weeks.  Way to go! 2) Top Chef.  That fast forward button is key here at the start of the season when the editors have a habit of focusing on the stories of the next people to be cut.  3) Project Runway reunion.  Tim Gunn!  Tim Gunn! Tim Gunn!  And a note to Amanda: consider me in line for your next season of clothing.

So, let’s set the stage here.  Relaxed, letting calm random thoughts wander, see some wine, take note that there is no interest at all, take note about how easy it would be to open a bottle and have a glass just to unwind, laugh at even entertaining that thought, back to TV on the couch with the dog. On to bed and hearing the neighbor with the RC truck racing around the neighborhood.

The drinking dream woke me up terrified.  In my dream, I came across some vodka that had been hidden back in the day.  It was already opened and over half empty.  I figured that I needed to finish it off so it would be gone. Half went into a drink and I went along my merry way.  Feeling totally tipsy, I went back because I needed more.  Needed it.  In the next morning of the dream, I managed to convince myself that finishing the alcohol was all a part of the process.  No one would know and I refused to start my sober days over.  Heck, I could even do that again because it was a part of the healing process now.  And then I woke up.

Ack! The fear of apathy, complacency, lack of resolve is real.

Today, all has been good.  I’m working my program with purpose.  There are no worries, fears, or “What if’s.”  But boy oh boy was that dream of complacency unnerving.