Those of you who listen to our show and read our site know that both Legacy and I have suffered with depression and addiction over the years. Both of us are also learning to deal with our addictions by using the tools we’ve gained in the last three or four years to better not only ourselves but how we deal with the situations around us. Often times when I have a question no one in my real life can answer I will call Legs for advice and knowledge.
If you haven’t been through the recovery process I can tell you that the lessons men and women are taught are very different. Sometimes it takes listening to the more logical (Sorry Ladies) thinking from a male counterpart to figure out the stuff that rattles through the brain. Women are very emotional creatures where as men tend to look at things in the more black and white spectrum. This can be very helpful to someone like me.
When I first went into recovery I had no desire to deal with my problems; that was not even a consideration three years ago. In fact the only reason I went into recovery was because of the death of my best friend Andy.
I decided that I needed to make a serious life change if I did not want to end up like Andy, who unfortunately died alone at the end of a rope. I decided that if I could quit drinking for one full year then I could prove to myself that things were not that bad, that I would be able to say I was not an addict.
The lessons I learned while in recovery were invaluable. You see I learned two things: One, I do not have an addictive personality. However I am someone who has indeed had a lot to deal with and until recently few healthy ways to deal with these issues. It was in recovery I learned about the art of service, and letting go.
It was in recovery I learned that alcohol was my solution, it was my pain killer. It was also in recovery that I learned a lot about how to deal with my emotions in a healthy positive way. I learned that it was okay to cry, and hurt, to feel.
For so long I had to be hard, strong and be the care taker. While I am certainly strong and very much the care taker, I know more so now than ever that I do not always have to take everyone else’s pain and make it my own. I learned to fight the shadows, the demons and to let go of the darkness that surrounds me.
It is because of the people I know in recovery who have many years clean and sober, and those who fall that I find my strength and my inspiration. This brings me to the point of this post: Many months ago I told Legs that I genuinely believe sobriety, and healthy living is a choice. Everything in life is a choice, love hate hurt pain suffering.
Everything we deal with and how we react is our choice. Not too long ago I posted a tweet on twitter that said when I find myself about to cry when I do not want to, I try to force myself to laugh. Sometimes that is difficult of course – it isn’t always easy to find something to laugh at when life throws you a left when you are expecting a right but we can choose to wallow in the darkness, or we can fight it and find the silver lining.
In recovery a lot of people talk about finding a higher power – over the years I have heard hundreds of people talk about how when they feel lost and afraid they sit down and they pray. I never thought I would be one of those people. I used to roll my eyes and ignore that statement because I thought it was filled with pretty lies, but the truth is that believing in something more than you actually can work.
Whenever I would ask people what the hell they were talking about I found few were able to give me an actual or even half reasonable answer. I understand why. How do you explain a higher power? How do you explain what it feels like to feel the peace that comes over you when you pray? It’s nearly impossible. Whatever you believe in, Gandhi God, Allah, the Goddess whichever it is I can confirm one thing: you have to be completely ready to fall and be caught before they will answer.
You have to be completely done living in the darkness; before anyone can help you climb out – higher power or no. For me it was when Andy died, I remember spending four days feeling shattered, absolutely incapable of rational thought or understanding. I think I spent those four days drunk, asleep or crying with little in between.
It was not until I literally started to scream and pull my hair out that I finally was able to take a deep breathe and ask for help. I swore if the Goddess did not help me deal with those feelings of darkness and shame, sadness and fear that I wasn’t going to make it. More, I knew I would not make it – something had to change.
Almost instantly I felt warm. Just warmth, like I was not alone anymore and I knew without a shadow of doubt that things were going to be okay. I am not saying I don’t still miss Andy, of course I do he was my best friend. He was there for everything that counted – he celebrated my birthdays with me, he helped me escape my abusive ex-boyfriend, he protected and loved me and asked nothing in return. I miss him daily, but I no longer feel like the world is going to end; I honestly believe that is because my higher power works with me on a regular basis. The point of this post isn’t to suggest everyone should get a higher power or start suddenly believing in a God or Goddess. It is to discuss the art of choice.
We have the power to choose what we want our lives to have. We have the power inside of us to open the door to some things and close it to others. If a man knocks on your door and demands all of your stuff you have the right and the ability to tell him to take a hike and call the police or let him in. Chances are high that you are not going to just let this man walk in and steal everything you own. The same goes for the dark negative feelings – you have the power within you to not let them take over your life.
This is not to say that you have to put them in a box and ignore them. It means that you need to find a positive outlet; you need to find a way to deal with them in a way that does not tear you down and rip you apart. In “The Challenge of Fighting Fear” (On radiofreevoice.ca) I discussed a method for meditation that I find works in just about any situation including this one. If meditation is not your way then perhaps take up kick boxing or running.
Someone on Oprah once suggested taking a shower and imagining that all the darkness was washing away from her pores into the drain. There are a thousand different ways but I find what works best is doing service. Sometimes the best thing you can do when you are hurting is finding a way to help others. Laying on the couch and crying your heart out only works so long, and if you let it go too long you end up being surrounded by darkness, without a Lassie to save you from the bottom of the well. Helping others can be a great escape from your negativity by replacing it with something positive. However it could be said that I have gone from gangster wannabe to hippy in three short years but only time will tell.
What do you think? Am I crazy or do you have other suggestions?
As Nina says regularly, Light and Love.