Paranoia

Have you ever been so paranoid, that you thought someone could see you, from across a city, through walls and buildings, and miles away? Well, I have.

There came a point with my drinking, when my husband asked me to cut back. And when that didn’t exactly work, we decided together that I would stop completely.

But, as a fellow addict, I’m sure you know how hard that was. I stumbled a lot along the way. A LOT. There were times I was drinking a lot, all day long on occasions. And every swig I took, I thought he could see me. He was miles away at work, but I was sure he could see me somehow.

Half my brain knew that was impossible, but the other half was convinced he would know, somehow. Did he hide cameras in the house? Did he never actually leave for work that day, and was lurking outside, watching me from the street? Was he going to come home early, and walk in the door, and catch me drinking, redhanded?

I also thought he could see all bottles I had hidden around the house. They were well hidden, and I rotated hiding spots to throw him off the trail. But the neurotic paranoid side of me was sure that he could see them. Like, there were bright, glowing orbs of light around each of them. Blinking on and off, like those arrow signs directing people to a rest stop. “Here they are. All her secrets and lies. Yours for the finding.”

When I was drinking, I felt free. Like I could do anything. And in that state, I figured other people could do anything too. Like seeing through walls and just knowing I was up to something. And of course, when you are up to something, you act funny. Suspicious. So, I always did get caught at some point. No matter how careful I was. At a SMART meeting once, the leader of the group said, “The longer you do something, the more likely it is that someone will notice.” And it was never more true than hiding my drinking from my husband. I was never successful, always got caught. It didn’t help that I was trying to be so sneaky and deceptive while I was drunk. Have you ever done anything like that successfully while under the influence?

Drinking also exacerbates paranoia. Especially the morning after, when you’re in recovery mode. Drinking heightens anxiety, and any paranoia and anxiety you were already feeling are magnified intensely.

When I stopped drinking for good, I felt so carefree and relaxed, and after a few weeks it dawned on me that it was because I wasn’t hiding things around the house anymore. And I wasn’t doing anything wrong, or suspicious, or deceptive. It was amazingly freeing to not have to lie, and lie to cover up the lie, and then lie some more. There were no hidden bottles to make me feel like Lady MacBeth with the burn that wouldn’t heal, that reminded her of the crime she had committed.

Think of how tied down, how bound you feel when you’re drinking or using in secret. How the bright, hot redness of fear and paranoia follow you wherever you go. And then imagine if those feelings could suddenly be lifted from your life, and how great that would feel.

Giving up your addiction of choice, getting the help you need to kick the habit and then sticking to it will do wonders for this. I still have bouts of paranoia now and again, even though I’m not drinking anymore. I think it’s an old habit. But certainly one that I can break. The longer I go without drinking, the better my chances are of getting rid of those feelings altogether.

 

Meetings

My counselor asked me to write about meetings and how helpful I have found them to be, for people who may be thinking of attending 12-step or other meetings, and are wondering what they are like. This week’s safe coping strategy:

Go to a meeting. Feet first; just get there and let the rest happen.

I think what the wording here is trying to say is just go. Even if you’re doubting the process and are nervous and aren’t sure if it’s for you, just try it at least once.

I went to my first AA meeting about a year ago, when I was first attempting to get sober, on my own. My husband urged me to join AA, and found meetings near us that were convenient for me to attend. He drove me to my first meeting, and waited outside for me while I was there. I was so nervous, I was visibly shaking and I felt dizzy. I didn’t know what to expect. My hugest fear was that I’d be forced to speak. And I didn’t know what kind of crowd awaited me.

When I walked in, I was only the third person to arrive. The secretary was there, setting up, and there was also an older gentleman there, dressed nicely, wearing a fedora. When he saw me, he said to me in an East Coast Italian accent, “Well, you don’t look like a drunk.” It made me laugh, and he introduced himself, and I felt a little more at ease.

When the meeting started, we all went around the room and said the line you know from TV and movies, “Hello, my name is … and I’m an alcoholic.” Other than that, I was not expected to speak at all. And I didn’t, not for my first two or three meetings.

It got easier, and I always found the meetings helpful. The topics of discussion were always relevant to me and there was a sort of kinship, being in a room full of people that are in the same boat as you–just trying to recover and feel better.

I went to meetings off and on for the next few months. After attending rehab and other recovery meetings, I have found that while AA is incredibly supportive and helpful, it’s not my favorite group. Mainly, they say in their literature that the only requirement for membership is “a desire to stop drinking.” We all have the desire, but not necessarily the action. I have been to many a meeting where an attendee is obviously under the influence of something. And I myself went to some meetings having had a drink before I went. This seemed counterproductive, to allow this to happen.

I have gone to what are called SMART recovery meetings. SMART stands for Self Management and Recovery Training. They help with the recovery from anything, from prescription drugs to behavioral addictions, such as gambling and sex. There, they do not allow you to attend if they can tell you’ve been using. People are not allowed to wear attire that advertises drugs or alcohol. And they do exercises, similar to the worksheets I did in rehab. This kind of environment was much better for my recovery and I found a higher level of success.

There are far fewer SMART meetings to attend than AA meetings, which is one of the downsides. And one of the reasons I keep going to AA, even though it’s not my “favorite.” AA is still useful, and much more readily available. It’s a good starting off point, if you are in early recovery.

Your first meeting will be scary. You will be nervous. But rest assured you won’t have to talk any more than you want to. And the people will be friendly. And you will belong. It will make you feel good to have attended a meeting, and that you have made progress in your recovery. And they call them meetings. So, if someone asks you where you’re going or why you’re busy, you just say, “I have a meeting.” Who can argue with or judge that?

I urge you to find a meeting close to you, and go. Even if just the once. It’s a great tool to have in your arsenal, and it will make you feel good. I know this, because even when I truly did not want to go, and I dragged my feet all the way in, I always left feeling good about the experience.

I once broke down and cried listening to another AA member share at a meeting I attended while in rehab. His story touched me to the bone, and I just couldn’t help but let it out. Afterward, several people approached me to find out if I was ok. They were truly concerned by my reaction and wanted to help in any way they could.

Meetings are the most supportive thing you can do for yourself. It will open you up to a whole community of people in recovery. People who have been where you are. People who are where you were before, that you can help with your experience. It’s amazing what human interaction can do for your sanity and your recovery.

This Roller Coaster Ride

I take issue when someone tells me, “each day will be easier than the one before it.” Because, it’s simply not true. In terms of recovery alone, yes, each day it will be a little bit easier to be sober than it was the day before it. But in general, the statement isn’t true.

Some days are going to be awesome. Sunny, happy, flowers blooming, everything going your way, a smile on your face from ear to ear.

But some days are going to suck. It will seem as if every little thing is going wrong. You’ll feel down. You’ll maybe be angry or sad.

Life also has natural ups and downs. And we can’t stop life from happening, just because we’re in recovery. Huge life-altering events are still possible.

We need to teach ourselves how to handle the bad days and the big upsets without turning to our old way of dealing with things: using.

Today’s coping strategy is this:

Solve the problem. Don’t take it personally when things go wrong–just try to find a solution.

I used to take everything personally. All big upsets, little upsets, other people’s upsets that really didn’t even involve me. I took it upon myself to feel way too deeply about it. And I’d send myself into a tailspin of depression, anxiety, and of course, drinking.

I’ve learned through hundreds of hours of counseling and therapy, and lots of recovery training that this isn’t the right way to react to life, and that using won’t help the problem either. These days, I’m much better at facing a problem when it knocks on my door, and reacting to it calmly.

I fix the problems I can fix, I seek help for those I cannot. And, as hard as it is, I just deal with the problems that cannot be solved. That doesn’t mean I never get sad or angry anymore, or that I don’t overreact when I’m having a bad day. I’m still human, all of that still happens.

But, I was using alcohol as a means to dull the pain of everyday life, and pain of past traumas, and it was only making everything worse. If I was to survive, I had to find another way. I needed to learn to let life run over me like a river, and just go with the flow, if I was ever going to get by. I needed to figure out how to handle life without drinking. A bad day does not mean that recovery isn’t working or that I’m destined to be sad all the time. It just means I’m having a bad day, and need to deal with it. Simple as that.

It was really hard at first. To imagine navigating any part of my life without the “help” of alcohol felt impossible. But, the longer I stayed sober, the more clearheaded I became. And the more I was able to realize that the alcohol was never helping me. It was only hindering me, even making things worse. And over time I came to realize that life was made to be dealt with. Coped with. Survived. It was not made for me to roll over and pull the covers over my head.

And once you learn how to get through life’s ups and downs without using, then you start to get brave enough to take on new tasks. To challenge yourself. I am enrolled in an online school on track to earn a new degree. I also took on a part time job after my second stay in rehab. I’ve been a stay-at-home mother for 7 years. The idea of a job, any job, made my heart pound in my chest. But, I felt strong enough to accept the challenge, and now I could not be happier.

In recovery, learn to cope with problems rather than dwelling on them or trying to ignore them by using. It’s an important coping skill to know how to handle life as it’s handed to you. Things won’t always happen the way you want them to, and life will throw some real curve balls at you, but you have to learn to live your life in spite of that. And live happy and strong.

You’re Allowed to Feel Good

I spend a lot of time talking on here about negative emotions: sadness, anger, frustration, anxiety, guilt, shame… These are emotions that a person in recovery, especially early recovery, spends a lot of time with. But, don’t forget that you’re allowed to feel good too!

My last post was about crying, and how healing and cathartic it can be. Well, the same is true for smiling and laughter. If you feel a smile creeping onto your face, or a laugh bubbling up from inside, let it shine! Let it out!

Studies have actually shown that you can improve a bad mood simply by making yourself smile. And double if you can make yourself laugh.

It’s also been show that laughter has healing properties. Laughing helps boost your immune system, lowers your stress hormones, relaxes your muscles and can help reduce pain. It has even been shown to help heal heart disease and cancer!

In addition to physical benefits, it just boosts your mood. Puts you in a better place, so you can tackle your day and handle the problems life throws at you. Everything is smoother with a positive attitude. It’s hard to feel depressed and anxious when you’re smiling and laughing.

If you find yourself in a down mood, expressing negative emotions or lashing out at loved ones, find a way to make yourself smile and laugh. Go to one of your favorite places. Eat at a favorite restaurant. Go see a funny movie. Get together for coffee with a fun friend. Play with your pet, if you have one. Go visit the small children in your life. Just get out and do something fun like hiking, shopping, miniature golf, bowling, anything to get you in a positive mood and get a smile on that face.

Your mood will improve, your relationships will benefit, and you will feel better physically. Use one of nature’s best medications to help you heal on your journey to recovery.

Progress in Recovery

My counselor recently asked me to give some thought to what progress really means to someone in recovery, and what it means to me. What does progress look like? What does progress feel like?

Progress is defined as “forward or onward movement toward a destination.” But, is there really a destination in recovery? Is there a final step we take, and then we are fully recovered? Of course, there is a goal: to maintain sobriety for the remainder of our lives. But, are we ever done making progress toward that goal? Or is it ongoing every day?

Consider progress as just “forward or onward movement,” and what that means to someone in recovery. Leave out the idea that there needs to be an end, a destination. The forward or onward movement is one of the most important parts of recovery. Forward movement is integral to our success. If we stop moving forward with our life, we fall back into old habits, or we get stagnant, both of which threaten our sobriety.

But a forward movement doesn’t have to be a big one to count toward recovery. Every small step we take, provided it’s taken in the right direction with the right intentions, moves us further along on our recovery journey. And the more road we put behind us, the better off we are.

That’s why the one-day-at-a-time method has helped so many people achieve sobriety. We focus on the littlest accomplishments, the smallest steps forward; even just one day sober is a reason to celebrate. And each day we get up and we do it again.

It takes time to get to a place where we can look back and see how far we’ve come. And that can be very frustrating. Many of us want to see all the progress happen all at once, for everything to just magically be better and for us to be cured of our disease overnight.

But, it doesn’t happen that way. It comes in small doses, over a long period of time. So, it’s important to set our sights on the future. What will we do with it? Who do we want to become? Where do we want our path to lead us? And when we find ourselves moving down that path, making the right strides to become who it is we want to be, that’s what we can call “progress” in our recovery.

Higher Power

It’s no secret that AA has a deep basis in Christianity, and that Bill W. began his road to sobriety after a life-changing moment in the hospital where he was moved by the spirit. The literature has been changed to read “God as we understand him” but there’s still a deep undertone that you need to believe in God for the program to work for you.

Spiritually, I’m in a strange place in my life. I don’t think I believe in God, but it’s really hard to give up on the idea. I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian home. And my extended family, to this very moment, is 99% made up of devoutly religious people. And I admire them for it, I really do. Their unwavering faith and hope in life after death is inspirational. There are times when I wish deeply that I had their faith. Which might sound a little condescending, but I swear, it’s not.

I wish I had a higher power that I believed was watching over me, had my best intentions in mind, and I could turn to in any crisis. But the truth is I just don’t believe in that. Truth be told, I’m not sure I ever did. I went to church with my family every Sunday, and while I loved the messages of the sermons, I don’t think I was ever a true believer, not like my family. And most of them still think I’m a believer, and going to church. They think I am raising my children as Christians. Coming out to them as a non-believer is just too hard. I don’t want them to resent me for it, and I don’t want to hurt their feelings or insult their beliefs.

In college, it wasn’t long before I stopped going to church. Not because I was lazy or thought I was too sinful (those first years of college were pretty debaucherous) but because it didn’t feel right. It didn’t fit. I realized I enjoyed church more at home because of the fellowship. Going each week to visit with people who’d known me for years, watched me grow. In a new church, everything felt out of place. And I wasn’t getting the same spiritual fulfillment with a new congregation and new pastor.

Over the years, I have only moved further and further from Christianity. I straddled the agnostic fence for years. Confident that there wasn’t a Christian God, yet still having that itching feeling in the back of my head that there just might be. The ideas of heaven and hell were deeply ingrained in me, and as someone who’s afraid of death, it’s hard to think about the afterlife without falling back on whatever ideas were told to you as a child.

For a time, I gave up on a higher power completely. In April 2011, I had a miscarriage. The pregnancy was very much planned and very much wanted, and I was so happy and excited about it. I had already had a successful and uncomplicated pregnancy, so the thought of miscarriage never entered my mind. And when it happened, I was devastated.

I told myself there was no way there was a God that would give me the baby I so deeply desired and then take it away from me. I fell into a deep depression that I am only now beginning to climb out of.

I have since had another child, which I thought would make all the bad feelings go away. But, it doesn’t work like that. I still think of that baby daily, and I still cry when I talk about the miscarriage in therapy.

When I began to tackle my sobriety, I got onto the AA website and instantly said, no this won’t work for me. The program is religiously based and the steps involve trusting in your higher power to set you free. I had no higher power and didn’t understand how a program that relied upon the idea could do anything for me.

My husband found a series of agnostic and “freethinking” AA meetings for me to attend. But even at those meetings, the idea of a higher power permeated. For most, it was just the universe. Or nature. But, I didn’t understand how I could put my faith in those kinds of things, let alone use them to get sober.

I learned in rehab that this is common. Most addicts struggle with the whole higher power concept. But I was urged to give it some thought, and dig really deep, and find something, anything, that gave me purpose and helped me maintain sobriety.

I struggled with this so much. But I thought about it a lot. What was it that kept me going? What was it that I believed in? I had given up on everything, so what could there be? What was still there for me?

I dug and dug and thought and thought, and nothing came to me. I returned home from my first stay still not having nailed down a higher power. I thought I didn’t need it at that point. All that talk about it had just been one of many techniques they used to help me get sober. I could use the other stuff and forget about it.

I relapsed and returned to rehab, and opened my mind to anything and everything that could help me. Including reopening the chapter on a higher power. There must be something to this, I thought. Or, why would they keep bringing it up?

And one night, lying in bed, I figured it out. I had my Bill W. moment, though it was much less dramatic, and the idea still took me a few days to process and bring together.

The thing that keeps me going, that makes me think it’s all still worth it, is my interconnectedness to everything else. I suppose it’s the universe that’s my higher power. But I needed that to be more concrete. And I started to think about my place in the universe. And how we are all connected. All of us as humans, but also we are connected with the animals and plants and forces of nature.

When the tides shift, that happens to all of us, wherever we are. When something happens in the solar system, it happens to all of us. We are all a part of one big thing. I’m still not sure what that thing is, but I know it exists. I don’t know what happens when we die, but I do know that things will go on living and being born and existing after we are gone. And those things are still a part of us, and we are still a part of them.

Relying on the higher power is the hardest thing to do. But I’ve learned to remember everyday that I’m connected to everything, and it gives me strength and hope. I feel a warmth, a belonging. I’m here for a reason, that will become clear later. I’m here because I was supposed to be here. I’m a part of a much larger web of things, and without me, it doesn’t work.  I needed to get sober and stay sober to keep my place in all of this.

This might not be what works for you, but I urge you to find something to fill that higher power void. It has changed everything for me. There’s something bigger than you and me out there. No one is really sure what it is, but we all need some kind of idea of what it could be. Only then does the human experience make any sense.

Memories

During this past week, I reached the 30 day milestone since my relapse. I’m feeling proud, and I’m not as scared and confused and shaky as I was last time I hit 30 days. I’m feeling confident, able to handle stress better, and carving out a better future for myself. One of the mechanisms I’m using to stay strong in tough times relates to the safe coping strategy I’ve chosen for this Monday:

Replay the scene. Review a negative event. What can you do differently next time?

The events I have to review are limitless. After years of battling addiction, I have a huge cache of scenes to replay to remind myself why I chose to get and stay sober. In therapy, I am reminded many times to let go of guilt and shame, but I harbor guilt and shame for many moments in my past. They are moments I would take back, if I were able. Although, without them I may not have ended up in the place I am today, which is actually pretty good.

Using this safe coping strategy can help with sobriety by reminding us why we want to be sober in the first place. It’s a way to remind ourselves of the negative impact that our addiction had on our loved ones, our lives, our health, our jobs and responsibilities, in some cases our freedom.

Remind yourself of how you felt when you drank or used. Physically, you likely did not feel well at all. In my hey day I was basically a zombie. I was always buzzed, I never felt well, I never wanted to eat, I was tired all the time. I was a much different person than the one I am today, and for that I am grateful. It’s easy to be so deep in your addiction that those things begin to become your new “normal”, and you think you’re fine. But if you’re honest with yourself, you know you were not feeling well at all.

Remind yourself of the stress, guilt, shame and torment you were going through have to hide your habit. There was likely someone in your life that you had to hide it all from. Perhaps a concerned loved one that you didn’t want to disappoint, or just acquaintances you’d be embarrassed if they found out about it, or maybe a boss you were afraid would fire you. All the energy you spent on hiding your habit from them can be put to so many better, positive things.

This coping strategy asks us to replay a specific scene. What scene can you replay for yourself, to remind you of how far you’ve come? To remind you why you’re doing this? You can choose any scene you’d like, big or small. The important thing is to focus on how you were really feeling in that moment. If you’re like me, your biggest feeling was to do anything to go back in time and prevent the scene from ever happening. And the sick pang of guilt in your gut. The disappointed looks on the faces of those around you.

Sobriety offers freedom from those moments. You’ll never have to be in that scene, or any other negative scene as a result of your addiction. Keeping your addiction at bay provides you with a bright, clean future to create positive moments. Positive scenes you can remember down the line.

If at First You Don’t Succeed…

I’ve made so many drastic changes to the way I live my life in the past couple of weeks, and they are really working for me. Which is helping my recovery move a lot more smoothly than it did the first time I returned home from rehab. So, for this week, I chose from the list of safe coping strategies to write about:

If one way doesn’t work, try another. As if in a maze, turn a corner and try a new path.

When I first went to rehab, I though I had hit my rock bottom, I had gone to the place where people go when they hit rock bottom, and I was going to leave there fixed. And I think that’s what my husband thought too. I had a successful, powerful, insightful, restful, healing 30 days in rehab and returned home.

It was, of course, a complete shock to us both then, when I relapsed after only a few weeks, and hit a true rock bottom. The kind that actually makes you feel physically like you hit a rock. Like you can’t breathe. It gives you that suffocating feeling of having failed and disappointed everyone you love. Where there are relationships you don’t know will ever be mended again.

And you’re trapped in your own depressed and anxious brain, and no one knows what you’re going through (because you don’t know how to open up about it) so they can’t help you. And all they know how to do when they can’t help you is just push you away. Take their good, healthy, normal lives and get away from you.

This is where my husband was at when I hit my real rock bottom. Which is why I agreed to return to rehab for 10 more days. I knew I’d be safe there, and he’d feel calmer knowing I was in a safe place. And I knew that even if I didn’t get everything all figured out before I left, at least I was trying to figure it out. At least I was going somewhere to heal and get help. At least I was being proactive about the recovery.

When I returned to rehab, I had the attitude that I would do anything and everything they told me to, so long as it kept me sober. That’s why I finally, after years of doctors and therapists and family and friends suggesting I do, went on an anti-depressant medication. That’s why I spoke more openly to a psychiatrist than have to anyone before in my life (not even my husband) about the true frightening and crippling hold anxiety had on my life, and had for most of my life, and agreed to take an as-needed anti-anxiety medication as well. And that’s why after being offered the first time I left rehab, a chance to take Antabuse, a drug that makes you violently and sometimes dangerously ill if you have a drink, I chose to take it this time. And my husband holds the bottle and watches me take it each morning.

I made these changes fearing how the medications would make me feel. Wondering if they’d really work. Wondering if them “working” would be all placebo effect. Wondering how I got to a place in my life where drinking massive amounts of alcohol to feel better seemed like a better idea than taking a few safe pills. But, I tried the medications, to see what would happen. The worst that would happen, I figured, was that I wouldn’t feel any better, I’d be right where I was, and they’d try some other approach.

All I knew was things didn’t work for me the first time. Something was still bothering me inside, and it wasn’t letting me be free from my addiction. It was my emotional health and stability that threatened to take away all my hard work, which eventually it did. I just did not have the mental strength and capacity to cope. I was far too depressed, far too anxious, and still refusing to reach out to loved ones when I had those feelings. So, I knew I needed to try something new.

It has only been a few weeks now, but this approach is working much better. By this point in my last return home, I had already started the relapse process in my head. I was thinking about alcohol. Wondering if I could have just one drink. Imagining myself using it every once in a while, “just when things are tough.” But, duh, things for me were always tough.

I still don’t remember the real choice point, the moment I had that first drink after rehab. Those moments tend to be very fuzzy for me. My psychiatrist says it’s very common, and describes it as being on auto-pilot. But, in any case, it happened. And I did ok at first, but very, very quickly fell into all of my old patterns, all of my old habits, all of my old ways of dealing with emotions, and it wasn’t long until I metaphorically fell and hit my face on the ground. If I had actually physically fallen and hit my face on the ground, it would have been an ugly, bloody show. I mean, I hit ROCK BOTTOM. That was it. The urges, cravings, binges, they were all so much worse than before.

It finally became clear to me that I needed a new approach. I needed to be in recovery for myself, not others. I needed to take my thoughts and feelings into account when it really mattered. I needed to learn how to battle my anxiety when it threatened to ruin perfectly good days for me. And I needed to learn to use the tools and resources available to me in order to heal. There’s no shame in that.

If at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again. And that goes QUADRUPLE for sobriety. Do whatever it takes. You are and individual and the things that will get you sober and keep you sober are individual to you. Just keep trying until you figure it out. If one path is blocked, take another.

Living For Today

The concept of “living in the now”, “living in the present” or “living for today” was a constant theme in my early AA meetings, in my rehab program and in life in general. I kept hearing this phrase come at me, like a broken record. I wanted to live for today, it seemed so simple, and people who I thought had really grasped it seemed so serene.

But, try as I might, it was still a foreign concept for me. I’m terrible with regret. Well, not regret exactly, but I look back at certain moments from my past and think about what I could have done differently. Even though that’s totally useless. I do it all the time anyway.

I also do what they refer to in AA as “future tripping.” Where I get so caught up in what’s going to happen tomorrow, a week from now, a year from now, five years from now, that I totally forget to enjoy the moment I’m in.

So, I tried and I tried and I tried to live for today. To be present. To enjoy every moment. But because of my anxiety and worrying, I couldn’t. And then I was anxious and worried about that.

I still have a lot of trouble with this, but I did read something recently that helped me understand the whole thing a lot better, and gave me something to repeat to myself when I find that I can’t concentrate on the moment at hand.

I have an app on my phone from Hazelden that provides me with daily little snippets of advice and encouragement for addicts like me. A few weeks ago, it started with a quote.

“Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper.”

                                                                                                          –Francis Bacon

The paragraphs following reminded me that, “This day is all we really have to work with.” Again, something I had heard time and again, and mostly understood as a concept. But it was the quote that helped me figure out how to put it into practice. How to start being the kind of person that truly lives for today.

At the end of the meditation, the action item was, “May my supper be my contentment. I’ll breakfast on hope again tomorrow.” It was like a lightbulb went off in my head. Start the day off thinking of your hopes and goals for the day, and end the day content with what you had accomplished.

I was caught up in a cycle of starting my day worried about what would happen in the distant future, and ending my day irritated with myself for all the things I hadn’t accomplished. How can a person ever hope to live in the present if they are constantly bombarding themselves with worries about the past and the future?

And the idea of having hope at the beginning of the day is such an amazing concept to me. Today is the only thing we really have. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow may never come. It’s just today. And in the morning when you first open your eyes, and you realize you’ve been allowed another day here on Earth, that’s when you should have your hopes. When the day is new and fresh and wide open.

But the other part of this equation is key too. The idea that when your day draws to a close, that you will feel contentment. Accomplishment. Serenity. Don’t focus on what you did not do. Or what you are worried about needing to do the next day. Instead think of all that was accomplished on that day. Because we all accomplish at least one thing every day, chances are you accomplished a great number of things. And no accomplishment is too small to be proud of.

Living for today can be easier than you thought, and will certainly benefit your sobriety, healing and recovery.

This is Recovering Motherhood

Welcome to my new project: the Recovering Motherhood blog. Thanks for reading the first of what I hope will be many posts. I’d like to tell you a little bit about myself and my goals for the blog.

I am a woman in my mid-30s. I am wife and a mother to two young children. I live in an urban area. And, I am a recovering alcoholic. At the time this post went live, I was on day 40 of sobriety.

I attend AA meetings. I see a counselor. I recently finished a 30 day residential treatment program (better known as rehab). I have been a blogger for 6 years, and I thought I’d start a new blog to document my experience and my recovery, so that I might pay it forward and help someone else. Ideas for a new blog came to me free-flowing during my stay at rehab, and I’m thrilled to get started.

I’d like this blog to encourage and comfort those who might be struggling with addiction, or know someone else who is. I’d also like it to break down the stigma surrounding addiction, and treatment for addiction, because I want people to seek the help they need. For a long time, I felt too scared, ashamed and guilty to seek treatment. I wish I had done it months, maybe even years, before I did. Without it, my disease of addiction would surely have killed me. I really worry about all the other people out there who are not seeking treatment, and who may not even be aware that they have a problem.

The domain name “Recovering Motherhood” has a double meaning as well. Not only am I a wife and mother in recovery, but I am also recovering my place as a wife and mother in my home, and in society. So much of my time spent drinking had me isolated from my husband and children, and probably in their eyes, disinterested in having them in my life, which simply was not true. I’m clean and clear-headed now, and trying to make up for that lost time. I want other mothers of small children who are battling addiction to know that it’s ok to seek help. People will be less judgmental than you think. Those who truly love you only want to see you well, and will help you in any way they can, including helping you with your motherly duties while you seek treatment.

Recovering Motherhood isn’t just for mothers, or even just for parents. It’s for anyone and everyone who’d like to hear and know more about addiction and recovery. Being a wife and a mother to young children while going through the process is only part of my story, which is why I share it. But with this blog, I plan to focus mainly on my recovery, and the recovery process.

Please feel free to reach out at any time. Email rm [at] recoveringmotherhood [dot] com. Or, comment on any post. Please browse my resources page for places you can anonymously go for help. You don’t have to feel alone anymore, there’s a lot of people out there happy and eager to help.