Thursday, June 24, 2010

One is too many yea....

Insatiability is a topic frequently discussed in addiction circles. A Tenement Halls lyric (although my favorite version is by The Shins) and ubiquitous AA quote exemplify the idea:

One is just too many, yea
You know twenty is never enough

Avoiding the first drink (or indulgence) is most important because JUST ONE will send you over the edge. You have no control or power over your drug use (See Step 1) and this slip will invariably lead you down a road of many many more drinks/indulgences because, as stated above, the next twenty indulgences will not be enough to fill the void.
Put the drink down
Hang up the phone
Explore the void instead
It's a much more productive use of your time.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Telling on your addict

I've amassed a shit ton of addiction books and my personal book collection is starting to resemble the recovery stacks at my local library. Sometimes I just run my grippers over the binds and let them settle where they may. I open the chosen book and always find an applicable tip. Not all my books are addiction self help, some are memoirs or biographies and today I landed on "Dry," Augusten Burroughs' tortured but humorous account of his struggle with the bottle. I found (on page 71) a technique that may be helpful. During this passage, the author describes being confronted by the facilitator of his 12 step group.

"I tell her about the bottles. And how because of them, I never invite anyone over to my apartment....I feel a pang of sadness, and its actually for myself. Why would somebody live that way? I also feel like I have broken a confidence. So this is what I say: 'Its funny, but admitting this out loud, I feel really strange, like I'm saying something I shouldnt.' 'Exactly,' (she says) what you are doing is telling on your addict. You need to visualize your own internal addict. Think of it as a separate being that lives inside of you and it wants nothing more than for you do to drink....Your addict wants you all to itself. So when you talk about the bottles, or any other consequence of drinking, you are in effect, telling on your addict."

I'm sure we've all heard the saying, "you're only as sick as your secrets" and I think that's what they're getting at here. Identifying your addict or addictive behaviors--the shameful stuff that you're embarrassed to tell others--and admitting them aloud minimizes the power of these secrets. It also helps you get at what you're masking in order to indulge in this shameful addict behavior.

Here is mine: I break into his email account. I get a twisted thrill from reading his correspondence with inadequate, eager, love seeking women. I do this because the day bores me and now that I have told on my addict, I'll have to find excitement elsewhere. Telling you my secrets, becoming vulnerable and letting others judge me holds me accountable.

So, what shameful secrets can you share here? Does sharing them bring you any awareness about the reasons you indulge?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Try to make me go to rehab

Am I an addict?
(more than three yes answers signifies a problem)


Tolerance. Has your willingness to accept or excuse abusive or dismissive behavior increased overtime. Are you willing to accept relationship conditions that you know are beneath you?
Withdrawal. Is time away from your ex plagued with symptoms of emotional withdrawal? What does emotional withdrawal look like? Frequent discussions about your ex and their behavior, incessantly checking of your cellphone, isolation, irritability, promiscuous behavior, substance abuse.
Difficulty controlling your use. Do you sometimes set limits or boundaries on this relationship and/or contact with your ex and find yourself violating those limits?
Negative consequences. Have you continued to indulge in your ex even though there have been negative consequences to your mood, self-esteem, health, job, or familial/social relationships?
Neglecting or postponing activities. Have you ever put off or reduced social, recreational, work, or household activities to indulge in your ex?
Spending significant time or emotional energy. Have you spent a significant amount of time obtaining, using, concealing, planning, or recovering from contact with your ex? Have you spend a lot of time thinking about your ex? Have you ever concealed or minimized the amount of time you spend with your ex? Have you ever thought of schemes to avoid getting caught?
Desire to cut down. Have you sometimes thought about cutting out contact with your ex? Have you ever made unsuccessful attempts to do so?

Answer honestly here, kids.
Only the truth will set you free
criteria via DSM IV

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A song to sing through it

A song or two to get you through.

Fitz and the Tantrums debut EP, Songs For A Break Up: Volume 1

Friday, March 26, 2010

The focus of our thoughts

In all my new age reading journeys, there exists one consistent theme:
You attract whatever you give most attention to. (See The Secret by Rhonda Byrne)

According to the statement above, thinking about our doc and all the ways in which he/she has destroyed our sense of self serves no positive purpose. Giving attention, energy and thought to this negativity will only attract more negativity and more addictive cycles into our lives.

The focus of our thoughts should be abstention and the other interests that will fill our time as we work through and exterminate our addictive behaviors.

Easier said than done! I know. To succeed in this advice, I like to employ a little technique I call "hijacking" my thoughts. Naturally, your mind is going to wander back to your ex, or to how good that loving high feels but that does not mean your mind needs to dwell there. Bring it back. Bring it back to reality and back to reliable and safe relationships and sources of satisfaction (friends, yoga, writing, singing, art..etc). These things should be the focus of our thoughts. These things will sustain you.

Don't stress if you haven't yet discovered other sources of satisfaction. The destruction of self and independent interests is just another symptom of addiction. We'll work on rediscovering our selves and our interests in future posts.

Just remember: If your mind wanders one million times, simply bring it back, one million times.

Consumption

There are 12 million reasons why we continue to have contact with our exs. Some legitimate, some not so. You may share a dog, or a child, or a job site and these factors, while unfortunate, ARE NOT reasons to continue to CONSUME/INDULGE your DOC Below, we will differentiate between contact and consumption and discuss how to navigate these contacts.


My DOC happens to work with me and for the past two years has used this factor as an opportunity to continue to reek havoc in my life. WELL, NO MORE.


BEFORE CONTACT
(1)Decide whether contact is ABSOLUTELY necessary. Be rigorously honest(glossary) with yourself here. Is your sister's upcoming wedding an ordeal that necessitates collaboration with your ex? Hint: The answer here is NO. We're going to talk more about forming a circle of support around you and this is the type of thing you are to utilize them for.

(2)Are you engaging with your DOC to "make a point", "clear the air" or "defend myself?" If so, don't. We've already accepted that we are powerless and that we've lost so attempting to defend yourself is YOU, still fighting. See Step 1 and work it.

(3)If contact is necessary (as discussed in 1) and not self serving (as discussed in 2), make sure you have a plan and little thing I like to call the verbal boundary(glossary).



The verbal boundary is the phrase you've previously chosen that will allow your ex to go no further, in the event he/she tries to rope you in.

The verbal boundary is a neutral/non activating statement or phrase that closes off your ex, and their requests, without starting an argument. It should be one phrase that communicates, without emotion or offense, that you are done engaging in conversation.


My therapist (a willing participate in my circle of support) suggested "I need space." Since my DOC is a boundary violator, I knew that line would only activate him. I wanted something a little more demure and positive. I chose, "no, thank you."


Here is what I did today when I saw my ex at work:

DOC- Hey, Ill wait for you after the meeting. Can I walk you home?
ME- Ignore
DOC- Please? I just have a quick question, I promise not to bother again.
ME- Whats up?
DOC- Well it had to do with dinner and wine and your idea a while back that I f-ed up. The idea to date casually, without fear or judgement.



NOW, self respecting girl women don't suggest "dating casually" and this is certainly not something I ever suggested. You see, my ex is smart, he knows that his statement will piss me off but, I'm smarter. Instead of getting activated. I just broke out the verbal boundary.


ME-"No, thank you"
DOC-"uggh, what?"
ME-"No, thank you"
DOC- What do you mean?
ME- "Thank you for the offer, but no."

Could I have taken this opportunity to give him a lecture about all the reasons I deserve more than "dating casually?" Sure. But I'm on STEP 1 and STEP 1 says "WE admit that we're powerless over our DOC and our lives have become unmanageable." Since I am powerless, fighting him on anything would be futile. Its only caused hurt and continued anguish in the past.

So say it together friends, NO, THANK YOU.

STEP 1

WE admit that we our powerless over our addiction and that our lives have become unmanageable.

Easy to comprehend but complicated to implement, Step One is most easily understood in anecdotes and here is my favorite:

There is a boxer who has fought and LOST 99 fights. Before entering the ring for his 100th fight, he turns to his trainer and asks "How do I not lose this time?" The trainer responds by saying, "Don't get in the ring."


How do we understand this anecdote?
The fighter is you, my fair friend, beaten down by a relationship that was never worth a damn in the first place but still swinging in the name of pride, or "love" or something like it.
The trainer is our 12 step program, which grounds us.
Finally, the advice "dont get in the ring" is pretty straightforward. STOP FIGHTING. Stop picking up the phone, stop "making your point," stop fooling yourself into thinking you can make someone love you. If you fight, YOU WILL LOSE, like always.

Have some respect for yourself and accept that your are powerless. Accepting this "defeat" will be the most empowering thing you've ever done for yourself. If you're doing it right, it should take a while to convince yourself.

MORE CONVERSATION ON WORKING THIS STEP TO COME.



VOCABULARY

VOCABULARY
Some of us are new to recovery and the concept of the 12 steps. Listed below is some essential vocabulary.

A
ABSTINENCE (also abstain; abstention)- refraining from use of drug or (in our case) contact or indulgence with/of our ex. This a pillar of our program.

ADDICTION- impaired control over drug use. If you're questioning whether you're struggling with addiction or something less heavy, ask the following question: “Do you continue to behave in a manner that has previously caused problems for you?” (via the DSM IV)


B
BOUNDARY (VERBAL)-a neutral/non activating statement or phrase that closes off your ex, and their requests, without starting an argument. Example: No, thank you.

BOYFRIEND- a boyfriend is a male counterpart that respects you, wants to see you during the day, calls you his "girlfriend" and wants to introduce you to everyone he knows as such. If the man in your life is not meeting the criteria listed above, he is NOT your boyfriend.

C

CROSS ADDICTION- dependence on two different substances. Your ex and booze, your ex and food, your ex and shopping etc etc etc.

CUNNING, BAFFLING, POWERFUL- aa adjectives used to describe your drug of choice. They are usually all of the above and this is part of the reason their grip feels inescapable.

CONTROLLED INDULGENCE-the idea that one day we'll be able to have casual contact with our ex's, as "friends." We will learn that no real addict can indulge in their drug without quickly spiraling out of control.

CHARACTER FLAW-a fundamental flaw within ourselves that keeps us coming back to our ex or other damaging relationships. This flaw is to be discovered and annihilated.

CIRCLE OF SUPPORT-a group of friends, family, co-workers, who are willing to support you as you work through the 12 steps. They have a clear understanding of your goals and will confront you when they feel you are at risk for falling back into addictive behaviors.

CO-DEPENDENCE- A complex relational dynamic. Compromising yourself and your stability for the sake and safety of others then resenting those others and yourself. Rinse and Repeat (Via Leah, who is working the program).


D

DENIAL- the act of refusing to admit one's addiction. Denial can be conscious or unconscious.

DETOX- (detoxification) process of weening off the drug .

DRUG OF CHOICE -(also DOC) the phrase we use in place of our ex's name.

DRY-sometimes we refer to those that are abstaining as "dry"

DELAY METHOD, The- technique used to minimize cravings. When hit with an urge to indulge, remind yourself that you'll indulge tomorrow. Continue to push it off day after day, ad infinitum. The day to indulge never arrives.

E
ENABLER- someone who, out of over compassion or disregard for our well being, encourages us to continue to indulge in our ex or in his/her behavior. (also, enabling) Example: Friends who advise, "Maybe he/she just doesn't know what he/she wants yet, you should be patient with them." OR "I know your ex loves you, he just has a funny way of showing it."


F
FAITH- the ability to believe that things will get better despite not knowing how or why. FAITH is not necessarily based in a particular religion or religious practice.

FACEBOOK STALKING-breaking into your DOC's facebook account and/or frequently checking his/her page for updates. You are ready for recovery when you are ready to "unfriend" your ex.

G-H
HIGHER POWER- a power, greater than ourselves, that we believe will keep us free from our addiction. Believing in a higher power requires a certain level of humility (see humble below)

HIGH (as in contact)-the air headed feeling you associate with together time with your ex. If you do some reality testing(see below) you will find that these positive feelings were scarcer than originally thought.

HUMBLE- opposite of proud or arrogant. One must become humble in order to tolerate interventions from friends. These interventions will be brutally honest and sometimes painful. Denial will be activated and we'll excuse away all our previous behavior. Humility helps us retain the message of these interventions and accept assistance from our higher power.



IDENTIFICATION- the act of relating to someone's addiction story. Recognizing the addictive behavior in their actions should help you recognize your own behavior as addictive.

INTERVENTION-the attempt of a caring individuals to show you how damaging your addiction has been. One must LISTEN and AVOID BECOMING DEFENSIVE in order to derive the correct message from an intervention.

J-L
LONGING- (One of the three L's) A strong persistent yearning or desire, usually cannot be fulfilled. Contact with your ex will be brief and upon leaving their physical space, the longing will return. Longing is something that can only be quenched by self work.

LONELINESS- (One of the three L's) Lacking companions. Does not have to be negative but is often associated with feelings of emptiness, undesirability or insignificance. Contact with your ex will be brief and upon leaving their physical space, the loneliness will return. Loneliness is something that can only be quenched by self work.

LUST-One of the three L's. Craving for sexual intimacy. See explanations above and apply here.

3 Ls, The- longing, loneliness and lust. All the wrong reasons we keep returning to our drug of choice. Contact with our ex or with any object of desire does not extinguish these feelings.

M-N
MEETINGS- two or more addicts, gathered for the purpose of promoting or maintaining abstinence. Attendance at AA/NA or Sex and Love addicts anonymous meetings are encouraged!

MEDITATION-quiet time during which a person attempts to go "beyond thought." Recommended for the morning. For free guided meditation audio clips- go to itunes store and search Gabrielle Berstein (more on her later).

O-Q
ONE DAY AT A TIME- Do not plan your sobriety too far in advance. Taking smaller steps is more manageable and less overwhelming.

PEOPLE, PLACES AND THINGS- the major triggers to relapse. People, places and things that remind us of our ex could put us in danger of relapsing to addictive behavior. Make a list of people, places and things that remind you of your ex and then avoid them.

PROGRAM, THE- The program of recovery you are currently utilizing to abstain.

PRAYER- contact with your higher power, during which you communicate your desires and express gratitude for all your blessings.

R
RECOVERY-the period of life you enter once you start working the 12 steps.

REHAB-usually refers to a structured inpatient or residential facility where one can minimize the temptation of their DOC and begin important self work with licensed clinical professions. For more information, google Lindsay Lohan.

RELAPSE-indulging in addictive behavior after a period of sobriety.

RESENTMENT-feelings of animosity towards others as a result of some perceived harm they have caused us. "In recovery, we cannot afford to harbor resentments because they corrode our lives and can lead us back to alcohol." (via AA glossary)

RIGOROUS HONESTY-the ability to put your pride aside. Characterized by a lack of intent to deceive one's self or anyone else.

REALITY TESTING-the act of distinguishing between your perception of the relationship and what is actually happening within that relationship.

S
SERENITY PRAYER-God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

SERVICE-healing ourselves and then carrying that message of healing to others.

SHARING-telling your story.

SPONSOR-S.P.O.N.S.O.R. is a Sober Person Offering a Newcomer Suggestions On Recovery. A reliable and trustworthy individual who guides and supports you as you work through the 12 steps.

STEPS- short for the 12 steps we follow in recovery.

SURRENDER -accepting the first three steps. 1) admitting that we are powerless over our drug and that our live have become unmanageable, 2)coming to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity, and 3) turning our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him. Surrender is the key to recovery. Only when we completely surrender are we willing to let a Power greater than ourselves restore us to sanity.

T
TERMINALLY UNIQUE-the idea that the "uniqueness" of your situation exempts you from the addict label. Holding on to this uniqueness is a form of denial.

TRIGGER(S)-environmental or emotional factors that produce a strong urge to use.

TEXTUALLY FRUSTRATED-the feelings of anticipation, obsession and disappointment that set in after sending a text to your DOC and awaiting a response.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hello after goodbye





WELCOME to the land of the downtrodden, the de-coupled and the detoxing. You're here and taking the first step to recovery. I commend you, my fellow fighter, its been a taxing journey but you're alive. Breath, heartbeat, commitment (to recovery) and desire (to recover) are the only requirements for working this program. There are going to be more lonely, dark days ahead but we're in this together. We're here to say the final farewell to one of life's toxic drugs: The Never Ending Ex. Stick with me (and the others who've been previously heart broken) and together we'll discover
HOW TO 12 STEP YOUR EX.