It’s Not About You

the-best-recovery-blogsCool! Catholic Alcoholic was picked in the Top 80 recovery blogs for 2016 by Ocean Recovery in the UK. I got an email this morning letting me know. I looked at the list of 80 blogs and am honored and humbled to be among these fine folks, many I follow and many I will now follow!

I admit after my initial reaction of happiness 🙂 I had a slight skepticism because the list was compiled by a rehab. I don’t know why that made me squirm a little. But just being honest.

  1. I thought maybe it was a marketing thing.
  2. I’m not a big fan of rehabs. I’ve considered writing a piece of my opinion on rehabs, in general, but I’ve hesitated because…well, just because.

Looking at the list, however, I see they’ve done a damn good job of picking some of the best and the brightest recovery blogs I’ve been aware of for a long time.

And, I was intrigued and pleasantly surprised (no, I promise this is not an ad for them—I’d never even heard of them, plus they’re a long way from Atlanta, Georgia!) — I was pleased to see they offer a 7 day thing. A detox/rehab scenario focused on addiction recovery in a positive environment. That is perfect! The 30 day, or more, rehab programs in the US (and I’ve been to two!) are so frickin’ expensive. Also, the alcoholic must take 30+++ days out of her real life — her family, her job, her everything — to go to long-term residential treatment. Goodness, simply thinking about this right now triggers me and makes me want to drink!  I’ve often wondered why it has to take so long-and why is 30 the magic number?

But we’re told, “Drop everything because your life is on the line.” And we’re told, “This is the only way you are going to get help.” And we’re told, “If you don’t go we can’t help you anymore–you’re on your own.” And sometimes we’re even told, “Go to rehab or go to jail!” So, we go. And then we get out and relapse.

11219409_1597194103898500_7358985689213180794_nAdditionally, the LAST place I needed when I was at my bottom (s) was to be locked (seriously, you can’t leave) in a residential hospital with strangers for an extended period. I’m an introvert, a contemplative, and I needed loved ones, not strangers. I’m a free-spirit and very independent, but I’m not rebellious. These rehabs crushed my spirit. I didn’t (and still don’t) know what the best solution is; but rehab was definitely not itfor ME.

Disclaimer:  I need to make this next point very clear: Everything I write about in this blog is ABOUT ME (not you)–I truly have no idea what you should do, what your loved ones should do, or what will work for anybody else. I have no recommendations or advice. I only post about what is or isn’t working, FOR ME. I’m sure long-term rehabs help plenty of great people recover and achieve permanent sobriety, but that wasn’t my experience. 

On the other hand, this Ocean Recovery place is EXACTLY the kind of place I had needed. My “detox” ended up being in a hospital, yes. It was five days–but it was a medical and mental hospital (no addiction help). I had tried to kill myself. I couldn’t quit drinking and I really wanted to. I felt doomed to an alcoholic life, then death.  I had no hope. So, I did what any sane, drunk alcoholic would do when in despair–I took a bunch of pills of any kind of prescription medicine I had in my house. A cocktail of all kinds of things, antibiotics, melatonin, fluoxetine,Trazodone, etc… Then, I had a five day stint in a hospital. Seizures.

A local priest came to do the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick for me. I detoxed there. I stayed sober after that.

This 7 day detox/rehab centre Ocean Recovery would have been A LOT more beneficial to me than the mental hospital and certainly more beneficial than giving up everything in my life for long-term rehab. Just sayin’.

I had to set a boundary with a friend who kept insisting I check into a long-term residential recovery program. 8 months or more!  I thought about my life, my business, my children, my family, my dog, my fish, my rental house, my freedom. Christmas! Just because I’m an alcoholic doesn’t mean I should be locked away. Nobody locks cancer patients away like that. As susceptible and easily influenced as I am–and as much as I really try to please people I love, I found the strength in me to tell her NO. But no matter what I said, how much I explained that rehab is not the solution for me, she wouldn’t back down. She accused me of being manipulative, stubborn, only wanting things my way and not “really” wanting to get well.

All of these things were untrue. Saying that meant I was “in denial.” And all of these things were hurtful. I told her I needed to take a break from our friendship. And I immediately felt peace. Like I had stood up for myself, loved myself. This totally sounds weird. Normal people say “No” all the time. I’ve never been very good at it. That’s why strong personalities (those who have a big fat “J” in their Myers Briggs personality profiles) are ALWAYS drawn to me. I’m an INFP to the core and so J’s love, love, love to try to fix me. I’m actually drawn to them, too. The ones who unconditionally love me…these wonderful, logical “J’s” gently, firmly, lovingly guide me back onto my right path. MY right path. Not their path.

I’m happy to report that without alcohol in my system, I am actually quite sane! For the most part, anyway. Alcohol in an alcoholic body and mind tends to twist our thoughts into thinking we are crazy– and thinking there is no hope for us.

And!
And, I’m happy to report I’m not broken! I don’t need to be “fixed.” I love myself. I forgive myself. I’m SOBER. And I say “no” ALL THE TIME now. I may even be a little extreme in my “nos.” But whatever works, eh?

What in the frickin’ world does any of that have to do with this fantastic list of the Top 80 Recovery Blogs?  Absolutely nothing, ha! But as you all know, I tend to write as I think and talk..stream of consciousness stuff. I would apologize for this but my sister is teaching me not to apologize so much.

Sooooo… on to the list!

Here is what the Top 80 Recovery Blogs list says:

“Many of these bloggers are little-known. Many of these people publish their blogs simply as a way to help others who face similar problems with addiction. If you or a loved one suffer from addiction, we have no doubt you will benefit from the advice these people have to offer. When assessing the {below} blogs, we completely discounted the size of the bloggers’ following on social media. Instead, we judged the blogs based on how useful, inspiring and encouraging they may be for people who suffer from an addiction.”

Click here for the whole list!

Mine’s on there at # 15. It’s alphabetical so there is no hierarchy. Click and follow away!

Have a great day, y’all. This was a nice way to start mine.

searching

hippoThe other day on the drive home from school, my younger son said hippos were one of the most dangerous land animals on the planet.

I was incredulous, “What?! Hippos?! No way. Hippos are those cute fat animals that splash around and play with their young.”

The most logical next step of any modern family disagreement was to, “Google it.”  So, we Googled it. And he was right. In fact, hippos are actually pretty darn aggressive. I gave him a dollar.

Laughing, my oldest son asked how old I was when I started using the internet. He looked stunned when I told him I was 25.  It was one of those, “I had to WALK FIVE MILES to school in 8 FEET OF SNOW,” conversations we have with our kids to let them know how easy they have it compared to, “When I was your age!”

I told him if we wanted to find out about hippos, we’d have to get our parents to take us to the library, hope the specific volume of encyclopedia wasn’t already in use, and look up hippopotamuses…then find the specific section and passage which mentioned their temperaments. We’d have to take notes if we wanted to take the information home with us because we weren’t allowed to check out reference books.

By the look on his face, I think he actually felt sorry for me. (Mission accomplished, ha!)

What’s my point? Sometimes I annoy myself because I take way too long to get to my point when i write. SEARCHING. Searching is my point. We are all searching for answers…either to academic questions, trivia, lyrics to our favorite songs, or the meaning of the universe. So, we Google it. 

Since I hadn’t blogged in such a long time, I checked the stats on the backend. Even when I wasn’t posting anything, I had thousands of visitors per month coming to my blog. WTF? So, I dug deeper. WordPress gives us the exact “search terms” that are most often used to find us.

Here they are…this is what people are SEARCHING for when they find Catholic Alcoholic through Google:

  • catholic alcoholic
  • alcoholic from a catholic perspective
  • patron saints for alcoholics
  • prayer for alcoholic
  • my husband is an alcoholic, catholic view
  • stop drinking catholic
  • catholic aa
  • help for catholic to stop drinking
  • catholic and can’t do aa
  • is there something other than aa for catholic alcoholic
  • alcoholism catholic view
  • prayers for my son alcoholic
  • catholic addiction recovery
  • catholic alternatives to aa

So, there you have it. We’re all searching. Searching for something, whether it’s why hippos are so angry all the time, what time is the Braves game tonight, or help me I’m Catholic and can’t stop drinking…. We don’t have to call a hotline and speak with anybody. We can do an anonymous Google search to hopefully find what we’re looking for.

Fortunately, questions about hippos have easy, definitive answers. Deeper questions, those that relate to recovery from alcoholism or helping a loved one with an addiction…those answers aren’t solved by Googling. Wouldn’t that be great, tho? If there was ONE right answer.

This blog post is sort of making me sad. I have no answers. I guess all I’d say is never give up, never stop searching. Giving up is NOT an option. Keep trying. Each day is a new beginning. Who CARES what “they” say? You’re worth it. Keep searching.

AA is a big part of my recovery equation. But don’t feel hopeless if you can’t do AA. Please. Keep searching. I can see from these search terms that there are thousands of alcoholics that really want help but can’t do AA. I get it. You are NOT ALONE. I’m not here to sell anybody on my way. One of my dear friends has been sober three years by daily recitation of the Rosary. Another by daily Mass and a commitment to weekly Reconciliation. I wish that was my story. I need all the help I can get. So that’s sort of why I started this blog to begin with…because I felt strange…i needed a Catholic slant to my recovery. I just did. It’s who I am. So, anyways, good night. This post isn’t making sense even to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

well, mercy me

18763MercyHeroWell, mercy me!

I heart mercy.

Pope Francis established this Jubilee Year of Mercy—and I am thrilled. “Mercy” is one of my most favorite words, a borrowed word in English derived from the Old French word “merci,” which derives from the Medieval Latin word “merces,” meaning to pay, to recompense, or to hire.

I prefer mercy over justice all day long. Justice is like tough love. Ugh. No me gusta tough love. From what I’ve read, tough love has been the most practiced way to deal with alcoholics and addicts dating back to Nancy Reagan’s, “War on Drugs.”

Ostracize, abandon, “don’t enable!”, give up on, don’t help, let them help themselves, shun, shame, avoid, forced rehab, jail-time, unfriend, roll your eyes, look down on, judge, etc… tough love. The theory is then, and only then, the alcoholic/addict will start helping themselves. (hogwash)

Prior to THAT, I think we were mainly handled with PITY. Poor you. Sucks to be you. Glad it’s you, not me. I will pray for you. Go to AA and don’t tell me anything about it. I don’t wanna know.

And, prior to that, pre-AA, with EXASPERATION and hospitalization– psych hospitals. The odds of an alcoholic sobering up were so bad, that loved ones would lock us up– either in jails or psych wards. I have a good friend whose mother died in an insane asylum in Milledgeville, Georgia because she was an alcoholic and deemed “insane.”  While it is insane to continue drinking despite all of the consequences we inflict on ourselves and others, the sanity returns once the alcohol or drug is removed. But these types of hospitals will turn us into crazy people. I’m terrified to ever go back to one.

Now, thankfully, the tides are changing so therapists and the recovery community are starting to deal with alcoholics and addicts with MERCY (and medicine).  Not “ignorant/sunny skies mercy,” but REAL mercy. Mercy which can only be offered by a few in an alcoholic’s circle…those closest to her…in order for it to be received. That’s when the mercy has impact.

Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” This means to obtain mercy, we must BE merciful. We receive mercy by giving mercy to others.  And the more mercy we receive, the more mercy we give! It’s a beautiful circle.

The Urban Dictionary defines, “Well, mercy me,” as meaning: “Well, I’ll be damned, wow!” A surprised kind of thing. ha. Urban dictionary, my friends is tongue in cheek so don’t freak out. I’ll be damned is just part of our lexicon.  But “mercy” is a surprising, humble sort of gift. “Wow. Thanks. I didn’t expect or deserve that. Thanks so much.” The kind of gift that changes hearts over time.

I felt mercy through my Mom. That’s probably why it’s easier for me to accept God’s mercy. Mercy is unconditional love, no matter what—the way we love our own children—the prodigal son is still welcomed back into the fold and thrown a party. (no alcohol served at this party, tho.)

Last month my sister gave me the book, Beautiful Mercy, by the organization Dynamic Catholic. The sub-title is, “Experiencing God’s Unconditional Love So We Can Share It With Others.”  The book claims (and I tend to agree!) it is the “perfect companion for the Year of Mercy.”

I’ll add that IMHO I believe people who offer the most mercy are people who have a sense they have received a lot of mercy. People who are very grounded in humility, in who they truly are at the foot of the cross.

If I had been dealt with by JUSTICE then I’d be dead, in jail or in a mental institution. I’m not saying that to be funny. I’m saying that because I have DUIs and should be dead or harmed others on the road and been jailed…the crazy things I did while under the influence and the effect of alcohol on my brain should have landed me in a psych ward long-term. So, MERCY is awesome. Please keep it coming. And offer it lavishly to others. You just may need it yourself one day.

mellow is fine

IMG_0525
I need to reprogram my brain to like mellow/peace/fine again. I used to prefer that state of mind, but now I crave the crazy. I guess not the “crazy,” per se, but the “fun.” I guess it’s not really “fun” exactly. ha. I don’t know what it is, but mellow is what I’m feeling today; and mellow SHOULD BE a pretty darn desirable way to live the rest of my life.

My desires/instincts are out of whack from the days of drinking and focusing on my own self.

So, let’s meditate with the Rosary and my favorite, “The Memorare,” and get used to this sober state of mind.

KISS by Prince just came up on my playlist and i didn’t automatically start dancing, like I normally would.

I hope the dancing will come back soon. I like to dance—but only when I’m by myself, alone in my apartment or in the car. ha. No! I also always dance when I’m around my boys. They make me happy, and i feel like dancing when I’m with them. But that bugs them. Teenage boys aren’t too thrilled when their middle-aged mom does the PUT YOUR HANDS UP DANCE in the car…

I guess I actually am sort of bouncing a little bit in this chair.

There’s hope!

The Power of ONE

One-Logo

Finishing up day ONE. All day I had to bombard my thoughts with prayer and affirmations, and I smashed any random craving thoughts that zipped through my brain without my permission. Around midday, one of those pesky thoughts wouldn’t go away! I was so annoyed—I had to get a little mentally violent with it, actually. lol. And it finally relented.

There is power in getting through another day ONE.  Day one, and I’ve had many unfortunately, takes a tremendous mind-shift. An all hands on deck mentality. An, “Okay, let’s DO this already.” I’m actually pretty mentally exhausted.

It’ll be nice not to bug my friend with drinking emails tonight. Living amends. No more emails. It’ll be nice to wake up tomorrow morning early, not hungover. Journal-time. Yay.

The marriage separation, while sad, is necessary. I had mixed support at home for sobriety. I happen to be married to a human, just like everybody else I know. A human who is quite as imperfect as me, with his own battles to fight. While my sobriety is absolutely and ultimately up to me, I’m giving myself a better chance by separating, at least temporarily. I have a hard time with the “idea” of divorce. It may happen. My focus has to be on sobriety first. First things first.

And I have to remember this every single frickin’ day. Even on the lonely days, the broke days, the hard days. I can’t forget to think of sobriety first. ONE DAY AT A FRICKIN TIME. I have a powerful forgetter. And I have a high-tolerance for unmanageability. When you’re married to your drinking buddy for 18 years, it’s easy to turn to alcohol to let go and enjoy each other. No matter how badly he wants me sober, he’d still love it if I could drink just “once a week.”

Topped day ONE off with a massage. Going to watch some Netflix episodes of Homeland and call it a day. Hit the pillow sober. Nite, y’all.

change

i can’t believe it’s been almost a year since my last post. i guess it’s descriptive of where my life went once i picked up another beer. if you’re contemplating relapse or thinking you want one more, take it from me; and don’t. it’s way too difficult to get back to sobriety. i wish i never had relapsed. now it is what it is. i’m resigning to the truth that this is just who i am. i can’t change.  prayers you all stay on the narrow road. XO

Let the Oppressed Go Free

imageI have a bookshelf, well, actually it’s more like a couple of drawers full, of books that have and are helping me through my alcoholic journey.  As a Catholic alcoholic, or maybe just the way my contemplative/mystical brain works makes this so, I don’t gravitate towards Louis Hay and her affirmations – or even the AA books- when I’m feeling squirrely and in need of help. I don’t “call someone.” I don’t “go to a meeting.”  Instead I retreat into my world of Catholic books…with the Church, Her wisdom and guidance, Her help.  The saints, the Sacraments, Mass. Confession. Adoration.

These things fill me up.  The other things just don’t “do it for me” when I’m in the most need.  The company of others helps when I’m happy and content.  But when I am struggling, all I want is God.

So, I go into a place by myself, a place only me and God exist – other people would just distract me, no matter how well-meaning they are.  Being around others all the time exhausts me, drains me. As an ambivert (look it up) I do like other people a lot. I like to get out and talk to people and be social or bounce ideas off of others. But this also wears me out, leaves me tired and often confused.  My best friends in the rooms of recovery are not Catholic. And the rooms aren’t Catholic. So, while all of this camaraderie and all of the meetings do me a world of good for staying on track, they’re the last thing I look to when I find myself getting off track.

That’s when I turn inward. In order to refresh my soul.  I retreat into my world of Catholic books and my little quiet spaces with God.  Maybe that’s how Jesus felt when he sometimes went off to find a quiet place to pray.  Being around other people all the time makes me tired. Then I crave my quiet time with God, the same way I’d crave a drink.

Soooo…. I just took three paragraphs to explain myself!  Why so many explanations — I guess because in the rooms, I’d be told I was “isolating.”  Or, I’d be told to “call someone.”  As if my desire to be alone was a bad character trait that will make me relapse.  In treatment, when I really wanted to walk the grounds, rosary in hand, and simply be by myself – I was accused of not caring enough about others, of not opening up and talking with the other women.  In treatment they had a whole “group session” of the other women telling me I don’t care enough to open up and talk to them.

Come to think of it, it’s been this way my whole life – I was an ambivert in high school, too. And so, although I had a lot of friends and was involved in lots of activities, often I just wanted/needed to be by myself. Collect my thoughts, not be around people. I was accused of being a “snob” on numerous occasions. And I remember thinking, “God if you only KNEW how insecure I was?!” I’d think, “If you only knew that I’m the furthest thing from a snob – that I think you are so comfortable and happy and I am so uncomfortable and awkward!” I’d think, “All I want is to be alone, just me and God for a little bit; and then I promise I’ll be back.”

And so I feel a little insecure about my desire to retreat.  Nobody else seems to do this. At least not the people that are staying sober. They do the “we” thing.  I completely second guess myself. What if I was better at being a social being, wanted to be in community with others more? Maybe then I would be “doing this right.”

I know other people need their quiet time with God too. Of course. That’s not what I’m referring to here. I need that each morning too.  What I’m talking about is needing days of this!  Needing to step away from the world for days and recuperate from all this togetherness.  My need for retreat seems to be exaggerated. After too much time with people, I pull away and HAVE to have it. And so I’m sometimes not a very good friend.  At least in my own head, I’m not.

There’s a woman in the meetings, a new friend — she’s AWESOME. Wonderful, caring, loving, faithful (not in a Catholic way but in a very wonderful Jesus loving way) and she really likes me. She’s helped me with rides and stays in touch with me. So, I feel guilty pulling away but it’s exhausting me. And so again I lose a friend – or at least I lose the intensity with which she wanted to be my friend.  Her feelings appear to be hurt and I feel badly about this.

And my point is….

My point is, I’m doing this now. I’m in a retreat. Actually, creating my own little “retreat” with all of my wonderful books. I’ve been reading the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius Loyola — a tough read, but I love it! And my Magnificat, of course. And my book “In Conversation With God,” by Francis Fernandez. And my 30 day series of books with the Saints —namely St Teresa of Avila, St Teresa the Little Flower and the Cloud of the Unknowing. And I found a little book I bought last year called “Let the Oppressed Go Free” by Cardinal Rigali.  And THAT’s what I wanted to talk about today!

This little book should be in the hands of every Catholic alcoholic and family member who loves one of us.  It’s from “The Shepherd’s Voice Series,” published by Basilca Press.  Let the Oppressed Go Free: Breaking the Bonds of Addiction.

Cardinal Rigali writes perfectly for me. He explains the nature of addiction and how the Church can help addicts so simply and eloquently — I wonder if he is a Dominican? I usually am drawn to Dominicans.  My thoughts are so rambly today, sorry! I can’t even give a good review of this book because my head is swirling with too many thoughts.  So, I’ll spare you dear reader and close.

I’ll review the book tomorrow or something.