Scaredy Cat

scaredy-catIn meetings we talk about things that “real” people don’t usually talk about. Sometimes I have to redefine words used a lot in the 12 Step program because my definition doesn’t fit. In order to fully grasp the message of the meeting, I need to see some words from a different perspective.

One of those words is, “Fear.” Fear with a capital “F.”  In the AA text book, we are told Fear is pervasive and runs throughout all aspects of an alcoholic’s life.  That was difficult for me to grasp at first because to me Fear was what happens when I find out my brother’s snake is loose in our house or when seeing a scorpion in my bathroom.

The Fear we talk about in meetings is subtler. It’s in our minds. It’s future-based. And, it’s more than mere “worry.”

The founders of AA felt so strongly about Fear that they even made it its own category/column in the 4th Step.  We inventory not only our resentments but also our Fear. If we don’t “conquer Fear” we may drink again to escape it.  I’m on the 4th Step again right now, so this topic (at yesterday’s meeting) was really pertinent for me.

There are some acronyms—AA loves acronyms, I guess because we aren’t smart enough to remember things without them.

FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real
FEAR = Face Everything And Recover

Fear isn’t necessarily a bad thing—it’s good when we come across a bear in the woods and we need to act.  But our minds trick us into thinking emotional stuff is like a big bear in our heads.  Do we fight or flight?  When I am walking into a room with people I know don’t like me/are judging me, my brain creates this huge black bear that I am supposed to be afraid of.  Do I fight it or escape?

Escape. All my life I’ve chosen escape in the face of Fear. Drink. Liquid courage. And then walk into the room. No Fear. Now that I’m sober (again) the Fear is back and I’m having to deal with it head on. I’m told to “walk through the Fear.” I do that, but not very well. I tippy toe around it hoping it won’t see me. I make a lot of crazy noise hoping it won’t attack me. I fall into self-pity, hoping it will feel sorry for me and walk away to find another target. But in the end, as long as I don’t drink, I eventually HAVE to face and feel and deal with my Fear.

It’s funny, I used to choose escape/drink/flight—and now I find myself choosing to fight and get angry. The pendulum is swinging the other way, I guess intending to balance itself out eventually. So, this anger I feel at my ex-husband, his “lovers,” his parents, his sister… all that anger is surfacing and it’s troubling me. It’s all still Fear and I still need to walk through it. The Fourth Step is supposed to help me with this. I’m hopeful.

One way to deal with Fear is by talking to other people about it.  That’s what we do in meetings. When we talk about our Fear the thing we are afraid of gets a lot smaller, more manageable to face.

People like me—who think we don’t need help, don’t need advice or need to talk to anyone to solve my problems, who think we can do everything on our own— we do sometimes rely on God but we forget that God send us people to stand in for him and help us, too. That’s one thing AA has REALLY helped me with—asking for help, seeing I need help, acknowledging and discovering that I need people.

So, even if I don’t yet call someone and talk about my current Fear, I do share in meetings. For some reason, sharing in meetings feels less personal than calling someone up and asking them to listen to me talk.  What if they’re busy? What if I’m annoying? What if they are rolling their eyes on the other end of the line? What if they think I’m stupid?

In meetings, that’s what we’re there for. We sit there and listen to people “share.” So, I don’t feel like I’m putting anybody out or being a burden or annoying. And I get it out of my head and into the room, in the hands of people that “get it.”  And the Fear subsides a little.

The scariest Fear for me is the one that grips me and immobilizes me.  Perhaps everyone has something like this? Perhaps not? I do.  And it’s always relationship based—intimate relationship based. It’s usually my (ex) husband or family members that can evoke this type of visceral, gripping Fear. And it’s all in my head. It’s usually based on something subconscious I can’t control, like fear of abandonment, fear of rejection, stuff like that. Something imagined, but very real to me.

And so I panic. And that feels like I’m dying. And I know from experience that a drink will fix that. In those moments, I feel like I am going to die if I have to continue feeling. It really feels like if I don’t make this feeling go away then I will die.  So, drinking fixes that and I never truly face or walk through that subconscious Fear and get to the other side of it. I would just drink and feel better and all would be right with the world! Until I did something awful while drinking and then the Fear and shame were increased.

I’m rambling this morning but I just wanted to get back into blogging.  It’s good for me.  It’s good for my sobriety. Today I choose to walk through my Fear, even the gripping awful Fear I feel when I deal with my ex-husband and think too much about my future. As long as I just DON’T DRINK then I’ll eventually (sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly) get to the other side of the Fear and realize I didn’t die. I felt it and didn’t die.

I’m told the opposite of Fear is Faith. I’m told Fear and Faith cannot co-exist in a person’s mind. I’m either in fear or have faith. If I’m in Fear, I’m not trusting God that He’s got me. I’m not trusting God will take care of me. God gives me only the burdens and blessings and grace needed for these 24 hours. He won’t give me more than that. I can face anything that comes my way today. Tomorrow He will give me what I need to deal with tomorrow. As long as I stay in the present, not worry about what may or may not happen in the future—what is my life going to look like a year from now? Will I be lonely and old? Maybe, maybe not.

I choose Faith. Trust God and have Faith that everything will work out for good. It will either work out or it will work out.

2 Timothy, 1:7
“God did not give us a spirit of FEAR, but the Spirit of power and love and self-control.”

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.

i am truly shocked

1391840837323789383shocked-face-mdNow I’m back to blogging I was trolling around eating up all the recovery blogs out there again. I came across a site The Recovery Revolution which led me to After Party Magazine which led me to their post “The 20 Best Recovery Blogs,” which I started to read and follow/subscribe to all of them…

and then I got to #20 on the list and i got chills.  How stupid is that ha! chills, but seriously i did.

The girl (Danielle Stewart) put MY BLOG as #20.  Ok. I’m done writing for today. Seriously, not in league with the other 19, but going through the rest of the day on a pink cloud fer shurr. Holy crap.

This is what they said about my blog:

20) Catholic Alcoholic

Although Catholic Alkie herself hasn’t posted since June, I had to include her on this list because she is seriously hilarious. Having grown up in Boston, America’s birthplace of Catholicism and alcoholism, I find it refreshing to hear from a practicing Catholic who doesn’t feel that drinking until she pisses her pants is part of her religion. Although she is a proud Southerner, the sharp wit of the Northeast Catholics (usually Irish) I have known isn’t lost on Regina, as her posts are a somewhat perfect balance of sincerity and humor. Case in point, her tagline boasts, “4 out of 5 of her personalities recommend this blog.” Catch my drift? This site is an excellent resource for recovering alcoholics who are also practicing Catholics or perhaps Jews like me who aren’t bothered by her constant quoting of the Bible or the fact that she happens to be pro-life.

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!