Self Sabotage

Somehow addicts and alcoholics have a way of doing something very well, until a certain point. Then, just when they are about to have a great success, they go on a party spree that completely ruins their chances at success. In the movie “Flight” with Denzel Washington, just when his character was about to be free and clear of any charges, he has that fateful drink and drinks the complete mini bar in his hotel room. This is very typical of an addict before recovery and once in recovery as well.

Why is it that when I am about to make changes in my life that are going to be beneficial to it I suddenly stop doing those very things that will help to improve me or my life? Why do I give up just when it seems that most of the work has been done? Why do I sabotage my success?

It comes down to feelings of self esteem and self worth. I don’t feel that I deserve to reap the benefits of what I do. I don’t think I am good enough to be doing whatever I am wanting to do. I feel that I should accept my lot in life and not ‘tempt the gods’ or make notice of myself. These feelings of self esteem were planted in my in my early years by family, friends, community, religion, school and self. I do not blame anyone for how I feel today because I also know that I have the ability to make changes in how I think and feel.

Also wrapped up in this is a fear of success as well as fear of failure. If I fail I am sure I will feel depressed about it. And if it’s successful? Then that implies changes in my life and I’m not sure about what the changes will be and how that will affect me. I might have to step out of my comfort zone. I let myself focus on all of the negative aspects and fall into the vicious circle of lots of thought and no action.

I can change how I relate to the world and how I allow it to affect me. I have done that through my recovery and working the Twelve Steps. I know how to recognize when I am in my ‘moods’ and when I can change them. I can recognize when I am acting in a manner that is not in keeping with how I want to be acting. I can focus on the positive and stay away from the negative. Do I always do these things?

I wish the answer was yes, always.  But that’s not so. I fail to live up to my standards, too often. I know from listening at meetings that I am not alone in this spiral of negative thinking. So I focus on one thing a day. I don’t have to accomplish everything right now. Just one thing. Ask someone a question. Do the investigation. Write part of the report. Once I get down to the task I feel better about myself and realize that the fears I had really are unfounded. One small step today. Another small step tomorrow and in a week I can look back and measure how far I have come. I know there is still more to be done but I look at the gains I have made and those can help me to take today’s step forward.

It all starts with just a small action: mine.

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Perseverance

“How many books have you written, Leo?” I tell them. “That many! Wow.Writing obviously comes easy to you.” Actually it doesn’t come easy. I’ve really got to work at it. I’m writing this meditation at 4 AM-talk about perseverance! But most things that we achieve take perseverance: marriage, recovery, scholarship, sports, theatre, music . . . the list is endless. We should also consider that the people who say, “You definitely have a gift,” are possibly manipulating the compliment so that they can remain idle. Sloth can be tricky. “If I don’t have the gift, how can I be successful?” Not so fast! We all have gifts. Some of us choose to develop, nurture, and polish them. We can all learn to dance.              Say Yes to Your Spirit, Leo Booth

When I came into recovery I was told that it isn’t a difficult program but that it would take an effort on my part. Later I was told that faith in a Higher Power can move mountains, but I had to bring a shovel and a wheelbarrow. It goes along with the old adage that money doesn’t grow on trees, but it is made from trees. If I want anything, I will have to work for it. It takes perseverance.

In the past 18 months that I have been writing this blog I have posted almost 150 entries. It has not been easy. Sometimes the words come easier than others but they always come because I work for them. Sometimes the words are as much for me as they are for the readers. I use the blog to express ideas that I have about recovery and to explore the depth of the journey we are on as we go down Recovery River. And as I write, I am gaining valuable experience in writing and learning about myself. The blog is my way of working the shovel and wheelbarrow of my recovery.

There are still plenty of times outside of the blog writing where I procrastinate, (a fancy, five syllable word that means sloth). I say that I’m not in the mood, or not inspired, but the truth is, I am not writing other things that I want to be write because of fears and self doubt. If the recovery program has taught me anything it is that I have to do the work to get the result. And so, once again, I am telling on myself and sharing with my readers something that I know will urge me and pressure me to continue on with this journey of writing.

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I will be reaching a ‘biggie’ birthday this year. I wish to plan the next stage of my life to be a productive part of my life and part of that will be writing. I do not wish to exist. I want to “Live! Live! Live!” to quote Auntie Mame. I don’t wish to shuffle slowly to the grave. Rather I want to splash down into it enjoying and really living every part of what life has to offer. And whether that is a day, a year, or thirty years more, I challenge myself to persevere to keep moving forward, to live each day to the fullest, to take risks and to continually step out of my comfort zone. I can’t accomplish any of this sitting in my easy chair watching Netflix. I have to conquer my fears and my doubts if I want to move forward.

Do I have a great gift for writing? Not anymore than anyone else. But what I do have is passion for it and so I will continue to write. I am grateful to my recovery program and the people in my life for encouraging me and showing me by their own example that I can move forward and pursue my passions.

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Dealing with the Blues

I am grateful to be living in an area where I no longer experience winter. However, the post holiday season can be a difficult time for many of us. We spend so much time preparing for Christmas, Hanukkah or special days as well as the New Year and suddenly, it’s all over. If you live in the northern hemisphere, you suddenly notice that daylight is short and there are three to four more months of winter to deal with. The January Blues are very real for many people. Seasonal Affective Disorder may also play a part in our sense of depression.

I have dealt with depression for far too many years. Sometimes I have been able to manage on my own, or with the help of a friend. At other times I’ve taken natural medications such as St. John´s Wort. For about five years I took prescription antidepressants. Clinical depression is very real and most of us experience it at some point in our lives. Some of us are able to come out of it without taking anything and others need varying degrees of assistance to deal with the depression. Everyone is different and so it is important not to compare with others but to treat it properly.

Since I have been in recovery dealing with depression has become easier. After a few years in my program and, with my doctor’s advice, I was able to slowly wean myself off of the medications for depression. However, that doesn’t mean that I am ‘cured’. I still have to be conscious about how I am feeling.

So what do I do when I feel myself spiraling down? There are a number of things that help me. I get my butt to a meeting. When I am down, I don’t want to see anyone. And that’s probably the worst thing for me. I need to get out of my head. Going to a meeting helps me to get out of myself and engage with others. A meeting also reminds me that I am not alone in all of this. I do have a lot of support. After the meeting I can talk to my sponsor.

Exercise also works. It doesn’t have to be a three hour marathon at the gym. A walk to the store instead of driving, or taking the dogs for a extra walk. Getting the body moving releases endorphins which help to regulate our mood. There’s a very steep path near my home up to the top of a mountain that doesn’t take more than ten minutes to climb, but it leads to a great view, it’s good exercise and my dogs love the run.

As much as I griped about it when I was first in recovery, I now often write a Gratitude List. There are always at least three things that I can be grateful for. Again, writing this list takes my focus away from those things that I find depressing. How can I be depressed when I have been given so much?

Clinical depression is very serious. If none of these suggestions help to alleviate your depression, seek professional help as soon as possible. There may be a chemical imbalance in your body and like I did, you may need to take a medication to help correct the imbalance.  It may be that you need to talk to someone who is a professional and has more experience than your sponsor or your friends in the meeting rooms. In the same way that if you had a bad head ache lasting a week without seeing your doctor, don’t let depression go untreated when it lasts a week.

We all have down days. It’s normal. But remember that the better days are on the way. We don’t have to remain down. It’s not the end of the world. I’ve often shared that even in Recovery, I still have ups and downs in my moods and how I feel, but the extremes of feeling really good or really sad now seem to be gone and for that,  I am grateful.

Please like and follow my blog at http://www.recoveryriver.org.

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