Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Building a Life Worth Living

If AA doesn't work for you and if long-term abstinence is elusive, I'd like to introduce you to some processes and ideas that can help. Welcome to Eclectic Recovery, where recovery programs are self-designed, tailored to the individual and most importantly, effective.

It's been over two years since I began writing here on Eclectic Recovery and I began with a couple of goals in mind. The first is selfish and remains so with no apologies: I was looking for a way to live long-term, comfortably, without alcohol. The usual method, i.e., AA, was no longer effective for me and the treatment programs weren't much better. The second reason is not and also remains not with no apologies: I thought there had to be others like me and I hoped to reach and build a community with these people; a community that would help me, and others, find a sustainable sobriety.

Here's a problem with exploring any dark, negative, life-threatening problem on the web: people can't handle their own darkness and they certainly can't handle yours. So no matter how valiant your efforts, if you slip up, people run like crazy and I'm not saying I blame them. Or maybe the blog is just not that good, although I have to tell you when I look at it as a whole, I'm pretty impressed. There's a lot of good information here, and there's a lot of crap here, but I think all in all it's balanced.

To be honest, it was touch and go for a long time as to whether I ever was going to find anything that would be effective for me - in the long-term and considering I just relapsed yet again maybe I shouldn't be as hopeful as I am. But I am. Hopeful, that is. I've been observing several types of recovery communities over the past 20-25 years and something new and beautiful is emerging. My work at the chemical dependency center, with my mental health counselor and my own continued efforts to understand and change my thinking, and thus my life, is starting to take root and I have no idea what the flower will look like, how long it will last or even if it will smell pretty. But the stirrings of new life are unmistakable. I'm learning and awakening in a way I can 100% believe in. No dogma. No rules. Everything I'm doing shares one thing in common: it starts to heal the problem. The real problem, which actually could be different for you, even if it manifests as a problem with alcohol. If it doesn't go toward healing our souls, it's outta here as a method for me. Simplifies things a lot, too.

I have looked at my goals and I still deem them worthy. As a matter of fact, I deem them worthier than ever before, and closer. I am so excited to be alive at this time and right where I am in all ways and it's a privilege and an honor to begin to accept the responsbility of co-creating a life. All I really have to do is make sure the focus stays on my own spiritual connection and behavior and respond as appropriately as possible in any given situation while working to embrace what's empowering, life-affirming, real and most of all helpful. Which is obviously not always as easy as it seems!

If any of you in AA are still reading my blog, I would ask you to give it another chance, maybe get it on your blog roll, in the hopes that it would reach another woman quietly and surely drinking herself to death. I am finding my way though the labyrinth and I want to share. After all, what we're doing here is building a life worth living. Let's get on with it, shall we?
So, every day for at least a month, and that's quite a commitment considering I was romancing taking a midnight swim in a January Flathead Lake, considering that I've moved 4 times in the past year and been through some pretty nasty stuff, both here, and in my professional life, considering I came very close to not making it and considering that I know, personally, of at least 100 women who are spinning their wheels with this thing and slowly dying. Man, that sentence got long. Anyway, considering all that, I'm going to post every day for a month about something that is really helping me stay sober today. I'm going to finally do this like I was told to do it a while ago: do it like it's your job she said. Okay. Okay.

Here are some of the methods we'll be looking at in the coming days, weeks, months and yes, years. Because if I've finally gotten one thing it's that for most of us this is a lifetime deal. Alcoholism and its denizens are chronic, progressive and if not treated, fatal. But I don't want to focus on that because I want you to be as excited as I am about moving forward with life without alcohol. So we're going to be looking at and discussing a varied and very eclectic array of ideas from vampire slaying to dialectic behavior therapy, from mindfulness and meditation to nutrition and exercise. We'll be re-exploring issues like dealing with pain in recovery, dealing with co-occurring disorders like depression and anxiety and learning how to skillfully handle our own emotions and interpersonal relationships. We'll look at possible sources of community other than AA where a person can safely begin to explore their own shadow and how that manifests in their life. We're going to look at what to do if you slip up or totally go on a bender and how most quickly to get ourselves back on our recovery program if that happens. We will look honestly at the damage caused by alcoholism, both to ourselves and the others in our lives. We will not flinch when faced with the darkness in our own soul.
I will tell you about many things that apply to me that won't apply to you. I am not recommending anything - only sharing my own journey and what I'm finding that works for me. If you have been drinking alcohol on a daily basis for quite some time you will most likely need medical assistance to detox. Please don't underestimate, as I have at times, the deadliness of this disease and the danger you and others are placed in when alcoholics drink.
We'll also be looking at some ideas, and people, who can be very dangerous for folks trying to manage their recovery.

There are a few things I promise to never do. I will never blame the alcoholic for having the disease of alcoholism and I will never turn anyone away no matter how many times they "relapse". I will not blame, scold, argue with or attempt to set anyone straight. I will not punish you nor myself any further. I want this to be the safest space possible for anyone desiring to live without alcohol. Also, while this is a blog for people who may find AA difficult or just undesirable, there will be no AA-bashing and that never was what this blog was intended to be about. And no Angela bashing, please. I'll just ignore you, and then delete you.

It's been 60 hours for me without alcohol and in one of AA's somewhat quaint terms I went on a prodigous bender. I would like to say that these are ALWAYS DANGEROUS AND DEFINITELY NOT RECOMMENDED. I try and practice some harm reduction but once I start drinking it's kind of anybody's guess where it might end up. That is scary as all hell. I hesitate to say it, but I've gotten pretty good at rapid detox and I've had some help from dear friends, but it is still horrible. We don't wake up one day and think, oh yeah, that's what I want to be: an alcoholic. Yes, that's it. A life of sobriety, relapse, denial, withdrawal, sickness, hallucinations (my Freida print was talking to me the other night), every negative emotion imaginable - rinse and repeat. No one decides to do that. And it takes a lot of grace and a lot of love to begin to recover. And it takes even more grace and even more love to keep trying over and over, to not be discouraged or disheartened or decide that it's just not worth it, which is unfortunately what a lot of us do every day.
So I hope you'll join me as we once again try to put one foot in front of the other and build a sober life worth living.


Mary LA said...

Love and strength to you Ang.

vicariousrising said...

I'm sorry you've had a stumble in your journey, but I'm glad you're getting back to work on yourself. Sending good vibes and hugs in your direction.

Jules said...

I am sorry you had a relapse but SO happy to hear you sound so strong and ready to continue to fight and work for your sobriety. (((hugs)))