On A Scale Of One To Ten

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Perspective, these days, is one of my best friends.

We were introduced through Alcoholics Anonymous and although we dont always get it together when we do life is just…better.

On Tuesday morning I was PA to the Managing Director of a large manufacturing company. Then he resigned and informed me that my employment would be concluded by the end of the day. Fear! Instant Fear! Questions? What am I going to do? How will I pay my bills? how will I feed my son? How do I tell people I have lost my job? What am I going to do?

Then I remembered that 5 years ago I was an unemployable drunk. I didn’t even have the skills to be made redundant ūüôā

The fear in my belly started to settle down. The false pride I was feeling started to take a back seat. I looked at the stressed out man before me who I had despised and pitied in equal dollops then around the poky office I had sat alone in for the past nine months and I promptly picked up my car keys and drove to my best friends house for a cup of tea.

When I was made redundant two years ago the fear I had was massive. Within minutes I was crying hysterically to anyone that would listen but I wouldnt accept help from anyone. I was ‘lucky’ to land a similar role relatively quickly and settled back into the role where I felt ‘safe’.

This time though there were no tears, I finished my cup of tea, kissed my friend on the cheek, got in the car and phoned another alcoholic. I got to a meeting that night and the man at the table spoke about how he had all the material things he wanted in life until he was made redundant. His family lost their home and he had a breakdown. I sat and listened in awe as he described how he rebuilt himself from the inside out and is now studying at university to be a travel guide, something he loved but never thought he could make a career of.

If that isnt my higher power taking me by the hand I dont know what is.

I lay in bed thinking about the events of the day and through the perspective of AA (not the nonsense of my illness talking down at me for a change) I was able to recognise the opportunity before me and embrace my facts rather than fear my emotions. I thanked my higher power for keeping me sober and for the million little things that I am grateful for every day.

On Tuesday I lost a job I hated. On a Scale of One to Ten? Pah ūüôā

Altered ADDitude

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So it has been two months since my last post… Have I been resting on my laurels? Not likely ūüôā

Throughout my four years of recovery I have found myself being led through periods of growth (pain), followed by periods of rest (happiness), chased by periods of contemplation (ok laziness)… Over the past two months I have been put through my paces and I am finally ready to accept the facts and shake off the emotional hangover also know as denial.

I have ADHD. This is not news to me, but in the spirit of a true alcoholic I somehow thought if I ignored it, it may just go away.

My son was diagnosed with ADHD around two years ago and whilst going through the assessment process with the Occupational Therapists and Developmental Psychologists it became glaringly obvious that I had also been living with the same condition my whole life. After a swift referral by my GP to my local psychiatric hospital, a quick chat involving the offer of medication and my recoiling in horror (I have spent most of my adult life on some medication or other) I promptly walked out of that hospital and popped my ADHD right at the bottom of my shiny handbag (with all the other things to do later).

I subconciously decided at that moment that as an alcoholic, working, newly lone parent to an 8 year old who had recently been diagnosed with ADHD and was suffering with dreadful bullying at school that I simply didn’t have the time to deal with anything else thank you very much!!

I concentrated on my recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous, working with my sponsor, getting into service and attending lots of meetings. I subsequently had a breakdown in July last year and had to be sedated for several days, taking months to recover from the crippling panic attacks I was receiving nightly in my sleep and the constant gnawing anxiety that chased me through my working days.

Thankfully, through one part determination, two parts desperation I was forced to open up to my (wonderful) sponsor and with her constant reassurance that I wasn’t going crazy and after many,many hours of talking it out I managed to come out the other side of it. Through this process of talking and learning I learned so much about my alcoholism and my attitude towards other people but also I learned a whole lot of truth about my attitude towards myself. My tendency to blame myself for things outwith my control, my lack of compassion for myself and also my tendency to play down the challenges I am facing until all at once they floor me and I find myself struggling to cope.

So after almost two years since my son’s diagnosis, sourcing the correct help for him, changing his school to one better equipped to offer support and watching him grow into a confident, happy young chap I am ready to face my own challenges with ADHD.

I am reaching out and seeking help and I feel good about this for the first time in my life. I have had to alter my attitude, before my attitude alters me.

I Am Beautiful……No Matter What I Say

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I love to start my day with positive affirmations…… ‘Just for Today, Judge Nothing That Occurs’, ‘Just for Today, Be Kind To Others Just As They Are’, Just For Today, Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway’…..I love them, they set me up for the day and I never fail to feel calmer and ready for almost anything when I have taken the time to repeat these statements before leaving for the school run each morning.

There is one, however, that I sneakily sabotage every time. I listen to it. I repeat it. But by metaphorically crossing my fingers behind my back I somehow absolve myself from really believing it….

‘Just For Today I Will Accept Myself Exactly As I Am. I Will Reaffirm That I am A Beautiful Person Just As I Am”.

It sounds awesome! I want to believe it! Sometimes I even do….but there is usually a niggle at the back of my mind telling me ‘not quite’ or ‘maybe one day’. It appears that whilst I have learned to accept flaws in others and still believe in them, I fail to treat myself with the same tolerance and care.

I love to give compliments, but, bristle when I receive them, I love that I now have the ability/willingness to help someone out if they need it, but, can feel disappointed in myself when I need to ask help of others. I hang onto a misguided thought that I should be able to ‘cope alone’ at times (no matter how often my sponsor tells me otherwise) and this is something I am working on changing every day.

My expectations of others and the world in general were always unreasonably high and AA has helped me beat these down to a level where I can live and let live. I dont bully and manipulate those around me to get what I want these days and it makes me a whole bunch of a nicer person to be around.

The lifetime before AA of constantly running and searching for the answer to my problems has clearly left a faint halo in my mind which prevents me from resting on my laurels. A good thing in recovery as we can never stay still in our journey, but, just for today, I am going to take the words of my sponsor, give myself a hug and tell myself….I am enough, I have enough, I do enough….

Fingers crossed xx

The Most Important Person In The Room

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Can you spot them?  The most important person in the room???

I used to think it was the person who had pulled up in the flashiest car, or the person with the best hair, or the person with the craziest stories to tell, or the person who was dressed to the nines, or the person with the most successful business or¬†the person who had the¬†most friends around them…

Last night¬†I was at an AA meeting with a great friend of mine and the welcome was lovely as ever – The person who is designated the role of ‘Greeter’ at an AA meeting has a vital role in my book as its their warmth and welcome that relaxes me when I enter any meeting.¬† Are they perhaps the most important person in the room?¬† As I was offered tea or coffee and a nice piece of cake I started to feel really part of the meeting – Is the person who¬†organises and serves the¬†tea with a smile and a handshake the most important person in the room?¬† After¬†catching up with old friends and meeting¬†new ones, by the time the meeting started I was already in great spirits.¬†¬†¬†The meeting was opened¬†up and handed over¬†to the¬†lady who¬†was¬†kindly sharing her experience, strength and hope with us that night.¬† Ah, now she is definitely the most important person in the room???¬† Only, she didn’t seem to think so.

Sat there right at the front row was a figure, rigid but somehow shrunken, hopeful but somehow hopeless, here but somehow definitely there…..¬† At first glance¬†they appeared to have nothing to offer, nothing to gain, nothing¬†important about¬†them at all.¬† But the voice from the table directed the following words right into their soul and¬†they were so powerful¬†they¬†instantly touched mine.¬† She said “Welcome to your first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous.¬†You are the most important person in this room tonight and I want you to know you are no longer¬†alone.¬†You are not sitting in the chair of an Alcoholic, you are sitting in the chair of someone who is here to be informed. You have¬†your own stories to tell and I have mine, there will be¬†differences, there will be similarities but in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous we are all in this together and we can love you until you are able to love yourself”.

Over the next two hours this amazing lady skillfully focussed the entire meeting on the newcomer.  Speaking directly to them she painfully described the desperate state she was in when she found AA and illustrated beautifully how her life had been transformed through the love of the people and the power of the programme. Through words and laughter she wrapped a blanket around this lonely figure and kept them safe for a while.

If ever I care to wonder again who the most important person in a room is I will know exactly where to look.

 

 

Every Day Is A School Day

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If I’m not listening I’m not¬†learning.¬† If I’m not learning I’m not growing.¬† Them’s the rules.

It’s so easy these days for me to get caught up¬†in my own web.¬† The vast and interesting web of life that I have constructed for myself since I got sober.

I have friends to hang out with, places to see, family to visit, hobbies to maintain, work to do…..it’s truly awesome how far I have come¬†and I am so grateful that I¬†have peace of mind¬†to really¬†enjoy these simple things for the first time in my adult life.¬† Thing is, like a true addict, when I throw myself into one thing its generally headfirst and can result in other areas becoming neglected…..

The past month has been a whirlwind and I have loved every minute of it.¬† I had the pleasure of taking my son on a trip to stay overnight in a wigwam on a farm, I have been enjoying being responsible at the office and being able to cope with the harsh environment I work in (something I couldn’t do for a long time), I had my ex-husband and step daughter to stay for a few lovely days, I have¬†spent some¬†amazing¬†nights lazing in the (rare) sun with friends and I even managed to go on a date (first in a year)!

Nagging at the back of my mind though was the wee voice saying ”there’s a good meeting on tonight” or ”jeez haven’t spoken to your sponsor in a couple of weeks eh??” and ”what happened to that little blog you started writing” but so far gone with the ”independence” of enjoying life without leaning on another human being I duly marched on into the sun until one day I was at work and someone had changed my chair.¬† It looked like the same chair, cushions seemed normal,¬†but, something wasn’t quite right about it.¬† I couldn’t quite seem to sit still in it.¬† Then later that day¬†my boss was being really unreasonable,¬†the instructions given seemed to be the same as¬†the day before but it was the ”way”¬†he was giving me them!¬†Insulting!!¬†After a day¬†physically¬†fighting¬†with my chair and ‘mentally’ fighting with my boss the last straw was that¬†night when my son was sitting by my side doing his homework (language) and as he was copying his words into his jotter I could feel the blood rising in my face.¬† It was the ”way” he was copying his words – too fast, not neat enough, leaning too hard on his pencil, not listening as I gave him orders on how to form the perfect ‘d’, fidgeting in his seat, breathing too loudly…… I was almost at boiling point with how disobedient he was being and knew I had to sort this behaviour out right away!!

Two hours later as I luxuriated in my plastic seat, enjoying the best tea ever to be served in a polystyrene cup I smiled to myself and was glad I had the sense to stop my utter nonsense in its tracks, dispatch my boy safely to a night of play at his gran and papas and take myself off to my nearest AA meeting.¬† As I walked into the rooms my nerves were jaggy, as I neared the tea table I braced myself,¬†as I shook hands with¬†everyone in the room, I realised I was smiling.¬† The frown my son had told me to ‘turn upside down’¬†earlier had disappeared.¬† As I sank into my chair and noticed the Preamble being read I¬†was ready to listen.¬† By the time ”How It Works” was finished I was ready to learn and by the end of the meeting¬†when we chorused the Serentity Prayer together I felt I had¬†‘heard’.¬† The lady who was¬†sharing at the table talked about¬†¬†keeping a balance…not too high….not too low….not too far into or out of AA, but just right bang in the middle.

Before I dropped off to sleep that night I thanked God for keeping me sober and granting me such wonderful opportunities in my life to wander and have fun and be useful and be peaceful, but also for passing me the message that evening not to take either of these privileges too far that I neglect the programme that nourishes them.

On that day, for one day, I think I learned my lesson.

HALT!!!

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Spot checks throughout the day are great to make sure I am maintaining my Sobriety and my general wellbeing, but, like most things in life that are good for me, I get comfortable and complacent and sometimes forget they are what keep me right in the first place.

Yesterday is history but I will just¬†pop back there for a minute to explore perhaps why it wasn’t¬†such a¬†good day….

I woke up with my alarm at 6am…so far so normal…but then I had a sudden flashback of the dream that had left me restless most of the night and promptly pressed snooze….just for 5 minutes.¬†

At 7am I darted out of bed and then remembered that, because I had seen a picture of my ex having fun with a ‘female’ friend on a mutual friends page on facebook last night, I had stropped to bed in a huff with the world, failing to prepare any lunches or uniforms for the day ahead.¬† So, as I tore around the place trying to do yesterdays jobs, whilst ‘encouraging’ my son to get out of bed and get dressed I failed to eat breakfast and ran out the door.

At the office I prioritise my own workload and yesterday I prioritised nothing.¬† If I didn’t actually know I was sat in my chair I would be sure I had sat in my head for the rest of the day.¬†

That uneasy, irritable feeling I had all day long¬†wasn’t because anything terrible had happened, but¬†was simply because I had forgotten to H.A.L.T.

Hungry – Skipping breakfast and I really dont get on.

Angry –¬†Annoyed at myself for leaving things to the last minute.

Lonely РFrom a random picture on Facebook I instantly decided that the whole world was attached and having fun without me

Tired – Restless sleep and overactive mind left me irritable and edgy all day

As I thanked God last night for all of the blessings in my life I was sure to thank Him for reminding me to spotcheck my day and avoid feeling restless, irritable and discontent.

So if you are feeling uneasy or your day just aint going as ‘planned’ remember to H.A.L.T.¬†¬†It’s a very simple process, but it can make a world of difference.