257 Days and Counting

Yep. 257 days since I last drank. That’s less than a year but feels like more than a lifetime.

I remember the first time I had a drink; it was Mickey’s Big Mouth beer and I was about 13 years old. I liked the bottle more than I liked the taste, but I drank it nonetheless. I eventually graduated to California Coolers, then Bacardi 151. I immediately enjoyed the effect. The numbness, the fuzziness of the mind, the emptying of the worry bin inside my head. I drank only occasionally, but always with the same result, a welcome brain buzz and immediate mood shift. It wasn’t difficult for me to obtain back then, I could stand outside the local liquor store and at most, it would take me two attempts before I was successful.
It wasn’t until much later in life that I really needed to drink. When I was living in Mississippi, I would drink a bottle of White Zin every night for about two weeks. (I know – White Zin??) I used it for the same reason I always drank; to numb and to not feel. Eventually, I was able to adjust to life away from my hometown and family, but I still drank. Just not as much and not at home. I have wonderful memories of living there, but they all centered around being at a bar, going to a bar, buying alcohol, drinking alcohol, having drunken walks on the beach, drunken intense, soul-searching conversations that I could barely recall the next day. I didn’t see it at the time, but I was starting a pattern that would later come back to haunt me. Me + Drink = Good Times. I can’t recall the exact date, but somewhere during this part of my life, I got the idea that I wasn’t fun, smart, good-looking and/or interesting unless I had fueled up with some form of alcohol first.

Fast forward to 2011. I am now hitting happy hour in any day ending with “y”. I set a limit of how much I was going to drink, then would blow past that in the first hour. I’m coming home, but not remembering the drive there. I’m waking up in the morning and not remembering the entire evening. I knew on some level that I had a problem, so I tried to establish as many safety nets as I could. Drive home, then walk to a bar close by, so I could walk home and as a bonus, more alcohol consumption as a reward for my “responsible drinking”. Other useless rules included: No shots, all shots, 2 drink minimum, 1 hour maximum….the list went on and on, along with the drinking. The only thing that was constant was my drinking.

At last, I had an intervention of sorts; it was really just one very important person, telling me how much he was scared of losing me, scared I would kill myself or someone else. He was trying to say it in the nicest way possible, but I could hear the embarrassment and the underlying anger, laced with fear. My son. My grown son had to tell me, his mother, that I was out of control and heading straight for an epic fail. The nagging voice in my head that had been whispering the same message agreed wholeheartedly. I had other clues that my mental state was not improving and all this self-medicating was serving only to fuel my ever-increasing rage and rising manic state. So, I made a call to my psychiatrist and told her that I was finally ready to get serious about my ridding myself of my out-of-control addictions.

After 7 weeks of intensive outpatient treatment and countless AA meetings, I better understand why I drank so much, how it had a negative effect on my attempts to manage my mental illness. I was able look back at that time and shudder. I shudder to think that I drove, that I lost countless hours, days, nights and whole weekends just because I didn’t want to go through the temporary discomfort of facing my fears and doing the hard work to get right with myself. Life is truly what we make it and I am determined to make mine count. Live each and every day mindfully and honestly. I don’t want to be numb or try to avoid discomfort. Discomfort is what tells me that I need to make a change or I need to move on. It’s a necessary evil, for lack of a better term.

I’d like to say that the hard part is over, but I’m done lying to myself. I think the worst is over, but there will always be difficult times, with or without those crutches. I will trust in myself, know that I have more strength than I could ever imagine. If I feel weak, I know what to do to gather my strength. If I feel lost, I have friends and family to help me find my way. I have AA and all the wealth of experience and support that offers. Most of all, I have my self worth and a clarity of vision that help me to see what is good for me and what is not. I have the courage to speak up for myself and the strength of will to walk away from what is not good for me.

This year, I will celebrate one year of sobriety the month before my 45th birthday and I know it will be the best birthday I’ve ever had. I look forward to living life without the burdens of shame, fear and self-loathing. I raise my glass of Hansen’s Natural Soda and toast to living the good life.

Cheers!

My Heroes

As I’ve said in previous posts, I do love my comic book superheroes. I admire their strength, their dedication to fighting crime, protecting the innocent and being extremely awesome, all around. But I also have some real-life heroes that I have always looked up to and loved. I’d like to share with you a little about them and the reasons why I consider them heroes.

My very first hero was my mother. She faced many challenges long before I was born and it wasn’t until much later in my life that I learned of a few of them. She was patient with me, (which was a superhuman feat, considering just how far I tested that patience and how often) gave me unconditional love, tried to educate me about morals and faith; she represented to me what it is to have true faith. Her strength of personality and her dedication to her family was amazing. She has five sons and two daughters and to say she had her hands full would be a gross understatement, but she handled it (I thought) with grace and always with love. I’ll never forget the time that I was freaking out (that’s putting it kindly) having a grand tantrum and she very quietly got up, went to the kitchen and came back with a large pitcher of very cold water, which she proceeded to throw in my face! Exit tantrum and enter shock. It had that effect. Stopped me cold and only then did I look into her eyes and see the anger and frustration. But she never raised a hand to slap my bratty face, though I’m sure the thought crossed her mind. She was the first person to show me love, real love and faith.

My second hero was my father, for altogether different reasons. He treated me like an adult, told me all about computer programming, his day at the office and all sorts of other things I couldn’t understand at my pre-teen age. I inherited my love of books, of logic and of the study of the human condition, as well as my work ethic. I worked for him when I was thirteen and learned data entry, along with how to consume insane amounts of coffee throughout the day. He was a complex man and as with most complex humans, was never truly appreciated for his gifts, as they came with their own set of complications, for lack of a better word. He was a man who was sick with alcoholism, but was somehow able to heal himself and emerge with his True Self in tact, having battled and successfully slayed the beast through his own strength of will and enormous faith.

I have admired all of my six siblings, for different reasons at different times in my life, but they all have one common trait that I am so grateful for; they never gave up on me and to this day, encourage me not only with their words, but with how they live their lives and meet the challenges that Life presents to them.

My sister has been my second mother for all of my life, as well as having to share a room with me when I was an absolute and unadulterated slob. She visited me during my hospitalization and talked to me as if I was a normal person, not in a mental hospital for suicidal idealizations. She has been that kind of mother to not only her three children, but to all of us. I know she had to sacrifice a great deal of her childhood to shoulder the responsibility of watching over her siblings, but she did the impossible, with grace and love.

Brother #1 (birth order, not order of favor) is the most responsible, down to earth, loving man I have ever met. He watched out for me and watched over me all through my childhood and when I first heard the expression “still waters run deep” I immediately thought of my brother. He is father to two gorgeous children, husband to a woman who is his equal in kindness, love and faith. He is the hardest working family man and I still feel like a little kid whenever I’m around him. He is quiet, but his strength is there, always.

Brothers #2 & #3 are the closest in birth, with only 18 months between them, if my math is correct. They are totally different in personality, one quiet and retiring; the other, outgoing, outspoken and in constant motion. Both of them have been great older brothers to me, allowing me to tag along with them and assault them with a barrage of questions and requests, but guardians and partners in mischief. I can’t imagine any of their friends thought it was a treat to have a younger sister constantly showing up, but they never said a word.

Brothers #4 & #5 are also very different in personality, but as my younger brothers, they were alternately tortured and picked on by me, but God help the idiot that tried to mess with them; I would make certain that said idiot would see big a mistake they were making, trying to mess with my little brothers. They have always been there for me and always and without fail, provide support and love to me. They have given me courage to overcome so much and I count them as my “big little brothers” for they look out for me as well as my big brothers.

I could go on and on about my family; I love them all and admire them for their strengths, their ability to survive, adapt and overcome all that they encounter. We are a tough bunch and although we don’t always agree, we never stop loving each other. This is no small feat and is a rarity these days.

My best friend from forever ago has watched me kiss the edge of insanity, come back and then go out again so many times, I would think she’d be able to write a book about that itself. She has been a single mother from a very young age, yet is the best mother to all four of her children and represents the best example of unconditional, unwavering love. She has stood by me through thick and thin, been my partner in many adventures during our younger years and has stayed the truest friend I have to this day. She is my hero for being a strong woman, but also for thinking for herself and not letting ignorant people’s opinions stray her from her chosen path. She is unconventional, unapologetic and the most beautiful woman I know, inside and out. She has dealt with disappointment, heartbreak and obstacles with a determination that makes steel look weak. She has my friendship for always and forever and is my soul sister.

These are a few of my heroes; I have many more and perhaps one day I will write about them. For now, I will have to leave you with this thought:

You are a hero to someone; you may not know it, but by your actions or your words, you have given someone the strength to carry on. By your kindness and praise, you’ve given someone hope for happiness. By your unconditional love, you’ve given life to the realization of someone’s potential. By not walking away when things get tough, you’ve given someone the most precious gift of all, your time and your faith in them.

 

It’s So Hard to Say Good-bye (Except When It Isn’t)

When I first made the decision to get clean and sober, I thought the most difficult part would be changing my habits; not having alcohol to celebrate my milestones, loosen my tongue and lubricate the way through uneasy social situations. I never really thought I would lose any of my friends and assumed that they would support me, so long as I didn’t get all preachy and try to shove AA and sobriety down their throats.

I was not yet 30 days sober, first week back at work and not at all strong in my recovery. I was trying to deal with a horrid week at the office and was talking myself out of drinking, willing myself to work through the emotions and the upset. As most of you know, when you are at your weakest, that is usually when Temptation presents itself to you. The thought was already in my mind, but I had no intention of actually seeking out anything. Well, long story short, temptation presented itself in the guise of my friend and delivered it right into my living room. (Let me clarify something here, before I go any further; I, not my friend, made the decision to throw away my hard-earned sobriety.) I take responsibility for that and am thankful that I didn’t let that be a reason for me to completely jump back into drinking full-time.

At any rate, I was completely devastated by my own inability to utter one or two words;  NO. NO THANKS. HELL, NO. I was scared to the core of my being at how much power my addiction had over me and how disappointed I was in not only my friend, but in myself. I went to my counselor, in tears, and begged to not be thrown out of the program. We talked at great length and she reminded me that some of my friends may not support my sobriety and I may have to make some tough decisions. Others would be able to support me and make allowances for a short time, such as not meeting at bars, but meeting for coffee instead. Depending on where their addiction level was, they may be unable to make those allowances. It was up to me to take care of myself, draw boundaries and ensure that I did not let myself get into a situation like that again. I was going to have to speak up and not assume that everyone knew not to put anything in my face or tempt me into breaking my promise to myself.  It is my recovery and therefore, my responsibility.

To make a much longer story somewhat short, I have had to say good-bye to two of my friends now. It hurts me to have to do it, but it would hurt me even more to destroy what I’ve accomplished thus far. When I shared this with my other friends, I was questioned about my choice because “you have been friends for so long…” which is true. But how did we manage to stay friends for so long? Looking back, I can see that the one thing that brought us together and kept us close was the one thing that I no longer wanted in my life. If our friendship was so great, so strong and true, why would she bring that into my home?

If you knew that your friend would die if they ate strawberries, what kind of friend would you be to bring them into their home?? (Now, I love strawberries and I won’t die if you bring some to my home, so please don’t withhold them if you have them) That was the crux of the matter for me. My friend has small children, so I don’t bring bottles of poison into her home and offer them to her children. If she’s trying to lose weight, I’m not going to bring her favorite frosted cake into her home and lay it in front of her with a fork, knowing she will eat the entire cake, then feel horrible about herself and betrayed by me.

So I did what I felt I had to, let her know that I couldn’t continue the friendship and that it really was all about me. not her. It was about me taking care of myself, protecting myself and ensuring that I made the right choices in doing that. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t difficult, but I know that it was the right thing to do. What will happen in the future is something I don’t know, but I do know that I cannot live for other people anymore. I cannot make choices based on whether someone will approve of them, or not. I can’t second guess myself when I feel that my choices may cause others to feel uncomfortable or ill at ease when they are around me. I don’t expect my friends to jump into sobriety with me, but I certainly would hope they would respect my decision and not set me up to fail. I don’t know if that’s the case, but I do know what the end result came to be. I have no control over my friends’ thoughts and feelings; I can only be honest with them and with myself; whatever happens after that is whatever happens.

My dad used to say this to me often and I feel it is very appropriate for this situation:

Fool me once, shame on you.

Fool me twice, shame on me.

I’ll not be fooled again. To all my friends who have put forth the effort to help me be successful and who have been very supportive in my quest to get healthy and get right with myself, I owe you a debt I will never be able to repay, but I will certainly return the favor. I am the person I am today because of all the love and support I’ve had in all those yesterdays.

 

The Power of Know

Know your limits; this applies to most things in life. If you are going swimming in the ocean, know how far you can swim so that you don’t end up exhausted and unable to swim back to shore.

Know how much irritation you are willing to tolerate so that you know when to walk away.

Know your strengths and weaknesses; your strengths will be needed to help with your weaknesses and your weaknesses can be changed into strengths, given enough time and attention. Note that these will be ever-changing, as you age, grow and mature.

Know your enemies. They need not be human; think of greed, vanity, delusion, ignorance or pride.

Know your friends. Think humility, kindness, love, compassion and forgiveness.

Know your source of faith. God, Goddess, Zeus, Buddah, Allah, Jesus Christ, Catholic Church, Scientology Church, Mormon Church or Church of the Ever-Lasting Gobstopper….whatever you draw on to help you to get through each day.

Know your heart’s desire, so when it is presented to you, you will know to hold on to it and thank whomever (see above) brought it to you.

Know when to offer help and know when it is time to step away.

Know your Self;

Know your Past Self, to see how far you’ve come;

Know your Present Self, to stay the course; and

Know your Future Self, for you are creating it with each thought and every action.

Know that you are more precious than you’ll every know.

Know that you may never get the answer to the question “Why?” but also

Know that you should never stop asking.

Know not everyone will agree with the choices you make, but also

Know that it is your life you’re living, not theirs.

Know that before you can obtain forgiveness from others, you must first forgive yourself.

Know that sometimes our worst fears become our greatest victories, our darkest, most dismal times become the catalyst for our greatest transformations and that no matter what you are going through, this, too, shall pass.

Checking Out to Check In

Every once and a while I just want to disconnect from the outside world and have some quiet time. It’s the time I take occasionally to just check in with myself to see how I’m doing. I haven’t taken one of these days in a while and I can tell because I have this unsettled feeling that just won’t go away. I feel as though there is something I should be doing, but I can’t put my finger on what it is. I can almost figure out what it is but then the phone rings or the traffic signal turns green or something else interrupts my thoughts. I know that for sure that this means I need to turn off the phone (not just silence it or put it away somewhere) turn off the computer, turn off the music and just listen. Listen to my thoughts and feel my feelings and try to do nothing but just be. Be still, be aware, be in the moment, be thoughtful, be introspective and yes, be all about me. This is one of the times I need to distance myself from all the busy-ness of the world, the company of others, the entertainment and escapism of movies, TV, Internet and all other outside forces. For this is the only time I can truly hear and feel what is really important; my physical and mental states telling me what’s going on with them and what it is that they need to function, to thrive and to be whole. I haven’t taken one of these days (or hours, for that matter) in a while, but I feel as though the time is coming where I need to do so. It’s even better if I can get away from work, away from home and get to nature; the beach, the forest, or even a dusty trail in the country. Someplace with different sounds, like birds chirping, water flowing and wind whistling. My soul needs to reconnect and my mind needs to disconnect.

Sometimes it’s not so much what I do that makes the difference, but what I don’t. Don’t get online as soon as I wake up, but have my coffee on the patio, watching the sunrise and listening to the world slowly wake up. Don’t keep my phone by my side 24 hours a day, waiting for the call that may or may not come in. Don’t spend two hours watching yet another movie on Netflix, but get out and walk, stretch my legs and give my eyes a dose of everyday beauty, beauty that I miss when I drive by in my car, rushing to get from here to there and back again. Life is too short to rush through it unseeing and too long to live regretting those lost opportunities.  

So, I’m going to sign off for now and take some time to enjoy the sunset, the Delta breeze and the good company of Neko, my faithful furry friend and listen to the song the wind will sing to me tonight. 

Good night, sleep well and may you dream only beautiful dreams. 

Empathy vs. All About Me

I was driving home yesterday in the heat of the early evening, very ill-tempered and overheated, when a pickup truck cut in front of me with (of course) no blinker, no notice and most of all, no room. My first reaction was the usual quick anger and urge to retaliate, but that quickly went away when I took the focus off me and contemplated what that person was going through. My dad always told me to “put yourself in someone else’s shoes” before judging them or even thinking you understand them. So, I did.

It was an interesting exercise and served a few purposes; one, I stopped focusing on me, how hot I was, how much I detest the unreasonably hot summers, etc. and two, it gave me the chance to empathize with the person in the truck. What if he is about to become a father and his wife is at the hospital, giving birth? What if he is rushing to meet a sick or dying family member? What if he’s having a horrific psychotic episode and thinks the Hounds of Hell are pursuing him? (All the more reason to not approach, retaliate or otherwise engage with this person) The list goes on and on, but the point was for me to get outside of myself, the view that It’s All About Me and attempt to share the spotlight of attention with the other bazillion people who share space on this planet. 

Sometimes it needs to be all about me, like when I’m trying to decide if a situation is harmful, if I am feeling as though my mental state needs someone else’s attention or if I just simply need help. Other times, the best thing I can do for myself and others is to turn that focus outward and try to give some understanding, patience or even just time and attention to another. If we treated everyone we passed on the street as well as we wished to be treated, the world would be a much nicer place to live. It doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach, either. Small acts of kindness are like the pebble dropping in the pond, making ripples of positivity that spread far and wide. 

Today, I am going to make an effort to take advantage of the opportunities for those small acts of kindness and act on them. Sometimes it’s not saying anything at all that is a kindness (especially when it’s hot & I’m not feeling very kind, generous or even decent) Maybe by letting someone in the grocery store go before I do, maybe by giving that homeless person a dollar, a sandwich or a kind word. Perhaps it’s complementing someone on their smile, their outfit, their contribution to the meeting or just saying that they are an incredible person. Often we wait until someone has passed before we say how wonderful they were, what a great friend, parent. sibling or spouse they were. I’ve always thought that was rather odd, since the person who was the subject of all that praise was not (physically) there to hear it. Say it today, tomorrow and as often as you can.

To my dear readers, I think you are fantastic friends (and not just because you are reading my blog) but because you are individually and collectively, funny and caring, smart and generous and all around good people. I am blessed to have you in my life and sharing this endeavor with me. Your comments and support give me the confidence to keep writing. Thank you!!

Stay cool!

Most Precious

When I was living in Mississippi, I took a creative writing class and we were asked to write a poem about the most precious thing (or person) in our lives. This is my poem:

It is a very complex and changing force of energy;

Not always directed in one direction for any length of time.

It is as bright as the sunbeams bouncing across crystal panes of a window.

It is more colorful than the Lord’s finest rainbow, pure as the driven snow.

It is a giggle, a smile, wrapped up in pure goodness and light.

It is the most precious gift one could ever hope to receive.

It has mischief, mayhem and curiosity unbound.

it delights in discovery to share with all around.

It has excitement so contagious, it spreads like wildfire.

With wide-open, searching, seeing eyes that mirror those of mine.

Whether feeling the way to follow or striking out on a path yet untraveled,

It loves unconditionally, totally and with no reserve.

It is sometimes frustrating, always challenging,

There has never been a dull moment yet.

It is always poised for flight, as if a winged messenger from times long past.

It possesses potential to accomplish all that is sought after, is hope for the future and a promise of days to come.

The most precious thing in my life is my son.

The Child Within

I have long believed that there is a child within me that directs me, demands things and screams to be heard; it’s the younger version of me, about 5 or 6 years old. She is still very much alive within me and is very persistent in her demands. That child part of me is always looking for something to make me feel good, but as a child, has no ability to sense when feeling good isn’t always possible and difficult “yucky” things must be done instead. Like going to work, waking up early and not eating ice cream and jelly beans for breakfast. The child within demands to be heard, to be loved and to be nurtured. Not necessarily by anyone else, but by me, the woman that I am today. It’s almost as if when I was a child, I kept hope that someday I would be in control, I would be able to do whatever I wanted and as a result, that part of me is now requesting her wishes to be fulfilled. So, within reason and whenever possible, I let the child out; to play, to eat jelly beans and ice cream and to watch cartoons, stay up late on New Year’s Eve and even to tell her story. Yes, she most definitely has a story to tell and it’s all hers. One day, I’ll let her post something and she will tell her view of living her life.

I think all of us have these children within us, especially Adult Children of Alcoholics. We had to grow up very fast, have a heightened sense of awareness, testing the emotional waters whenever our alcoholic parent came home. We had to not shed tears, not make noise and basically, become invisible at times, just to survive. As a result of that, the child does not grow up feeling like an adult, but is sometimes stuck in that state of childhood. I feel that it’s very important to recognize when that child hijacks the mind and does things that aren’t always in our best interest. A great deal of the substance and alcohol abuse I experienced were largely in part because I didn’t want to feel anything, I wanted to be numb. A child cannot process complex situations and detach from the emotions; emotions rule and logic is not yet present; so to numb oneself or to hide seems to be their only option. As an adult, I realize that I must face those unpleasant truths, relive some uncomfortable experiences with logic and maturity to understand what I must do to heal. Feeling the pain, the heartbreak and the disappointment isn’t fun, but once those things are dealt with and faced, the healing can begin. I liken it to getting a tattoo; it hurts while it’s happening, but once it’s finished, the pain lessens until there is no pain at all. Then you just have a really cool piece of body art and the pain was more than worth it (if you’re into that sort of thing, of course)

So, today I am going to let my child within have a few hours watching cartoons and eating waffles with peanut butter and syrup before I have to get down to the business at hand, the yucky stuff, like doing laundry, grocery shopping and just being an adult.

If you feel that you have a child within you also, let him/her out for a bit and see what fun you can have, being a kid again. Love unconditionally, see beauty in everyday life and just laugh, play and shrug your troubles off your shoulders and smile.

In the movie Mama Mia, there is a conversation that I absolutely love and it goes something like this:

Tanya: What happened to that girl who wanted to be a star?

Donna: I grew up.

Tanya: Well, grow back down!

Excellent advice.

Have a great Saturday!

Happy Birthday Dad

Today would have been my father’s 83rd birthday. He passed away from lung cancer in 2005 and left behind a wife, seven children and eight grandchildren. He was a complex individual and a very brave man who endured more than his fair share of demons. He battled with alcoholism and was able to defeat it, without treatment, without AA but it would seem by sheer force of will and faith in God. He taught me so a great deal about life and living it through his many sayings and lessons. But what I learned the most from him I learned by watching him and listening to him. He expected a great deal from me and my siblings and was adamant that we realize our full potential. He was the one person whose praise I wanted most and I was able to receive it, once I knew to not look for the literal praise. He was a very private man but would speak at great length on the topic of faith, of family and his wish for a happy family. I am the person I am today because of the time I spent with him as a girl.

Growing up in a large family, it’s sometimes difficult to get the one-on-one attention that a child needs, but I was able to have that time with him when I was young, as he would take me to his office sometimes on a Saturday, when he was called in to handle some computer crisis or another. I fell in love with downtown through those trips; the towering buildings, the hush of the city in the early morning hours, free of the scurry and rush of the work day. If I behaved myself and didn’t interrupt his work, I was rewarded with donuts and orange juice while he had his coffee. He had an incredible work ethic and I am so thankful that he instilled that in me. I worked for him when I was in my early teens and learned data entry, even though at the time I mourned the loss of my freedom. He was very strict, but I understand now there was a great deal of love behind that.

So, today I will continue the legacy of my father and live to my full potential, thanks to his love and encouragement. Although he’s no longer here with me, I hear his voice in my head and feel his hand upon my shoulder. He hasn’t left me because he is where he has always been; in my heart.

Happy Birthday, Dad. I miss you.

Love,

Little Squeak

 

Retail Therapy vs. Real Therapy

When I was in my last huge manic episode, I was completely unable to resist the urge impulse and ended up maxing out seven credit cards to the tune of around $2,500. I was actually lucky that I didn’t have more because I am certain I would have maxed out 100 credit cards. I would shop if I was happy to celebrate whatever had made me happy; if someone made me (you notice the “made me” in that sentence?) angry or hurt my feelings, I would shop. If the sky was blue and the day ended with “day” I would shop. I would buy anything from pink parachute pants to Wonder Bras; ceramic masks to luggage sets. It didn’t matter what I was buying, it was just the whole experience of retail therapy. I thought that by going with these impulses, I would find a way to happiness. Never mind that I was setting up a financial nightmare for my future, non-manic self. Why think about tomorrow when you can spend freely today? Besides, I had to buy these things. The world would stop spinning, I would stop breathing and all would turn to darkness if I didn’t. After all, that’s what the voice inside my head was telling me and if you can’t trust that voice inside of your head, who can you trust? 

Of course, nothing lasts forever and thank God for that. After the madness had passed and I had returned to the reality of debt, I was deeply depressed. How would I ever be able to pay off all those cards? What did I have to show for all those thousands of dollars? Well, the parachute pants had long since gone out of style, the Wonder bras surely didn’t add up to a couple thousand and change. Oh and the other thing I loved to do was give things away. Almost as soon as I had purchased something, the impulse to give it away usually followed. Sometimes I could bargain with myself and give away something that old, that I had already bought months or years ago. That’s also why I had nothing to show for it. But, as my dad used to say, the hardest lessons are the ones we most need to learn. Or something like that.

Today, I still have that urge to go shopping and buy whatever catches my eye or my fancy. However, I have no credit cards and if I overspend, I go hungry. This makes it much easier to put things down and walk out of the store empty-handed and not feel cheated. Also, since people aren’t making me anything, I can’t use that excuse. If I have made choices that lead to me being angry, I now understand that no amount of retail therapy will make that anger go away. I now understand the difference between therapy that helps me to deal with difficulties and therapy that enables me in avoiding them. One doesn’t have to be manic to be a slave to impulses or to engage in behavior with no limits, no boundaries. I am constantly working on disciplining myself against those behaviors that hold me back from realizing my True Self and exercising those actions that bring me closer. I will go shopping and if I find something that interests me, I will put it in my basket or carry it around with me for a while to see if my desire for it can last more than 15 minutes or so. You’d be surprised at how many things actually leave the store with me. It’s little tactics and tricks like that I use to save me from myself. So far, it seems to be working. 

Now I’m off for some Friend Talk Therapy over coffee and to celebrate my independence from credit cards, mountains of debt and the end result – debilitating depression.

Happy Independence Day!