Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Brand New Year, Christmas, and Coping skills....


~~~~~~~~~~~ HAPPY NEW YEAR~~~~~~~~~
                       ******Bring it on 2014******
That’s what I have to say about it!!!
Anything,,,,, well ALMOST anything, has GOT to be better, than MY 2013 was……
I mean…. I GUESS more “bad luck” CRAP could happen,,,,,, but if i have ANYTHING to say about it,,, it will most certainly NOT….
If things go as I PLAN them to….
In April, I’ll have THREE YEARS CLEAN TIME..
Not that it makes me  invincible, or “incapable” of relapse…. I KNOW that’s not true…
In all honesty,
I’m just as SCARED as I was 2.5 years ago, about a relapse……
Especially with all the “events” that have taken place the last 12 months…..

Christmas…..

Was great… was really nice to be with friends and family,,, although I’m not sure there’s a difference, these days. I consider any/all of my closest friends my FAMILY….
It was really nice that my FAMILY,
picked up the "slack" in gifts, that Mike and I couldn't afford this year. Of course I'm not saying my five year old "needs" a room full of gifts to open on Christmas morning,,,, but a few from family, and a few from the big man, Santa,,,,,, is suffice, isn't it?
WE could really only afford the few from Santa...
so it was NICE,,, generous, , , HELPFUL,,, that the rest of the family made sure he had gifts to open,,, and as usual he was very thankful, making sure to tell EVERY PERSON thank you before opening the present they wrapped for him.......
One thing,
I hear over and over from complete strangers, is HOW polite my son is.... And,,, don't get me wrong here, I'm absolutely happy to hear that; at the same time I'm somewhat disappointed, MORE KIDS his age, are NOT as polite..... when I was growing up,,, you said please, thank you, your welcome, just BECAUSE it's the POLITE THING TO DO.... and you're to treat others AS YOU want to be treated.
These days I don't have to remind him to say thanks, or please hardly ever,,, it just "comes naturally"... In my opinion, it's partly because that's how I SPEAK TO PEOPLE.... further more, it's HOW I speak to MY SON.... they really DO repeat everything YOU DO.... good, bad or otherwise...
I'd much rather hear,,,, "that's the most polite child I've ever met"
too many times than getting snotty looks,  my child being called rude, or anything else CLOSE.....
what's the next generation going to "be like"
C'mon parents!!!!!
Let's TRY and not be so afraid of child protective agencies that we don't teach our children MANNERS...
I totally GET why some parents are afraid to discipline their children.. I've SEEN the child protective agencies in "action" and I've read so many horror stories, it gives ME nightmares...
Truth is.....
You can teach manners, good behavior, and respect without spanking, beating, banishing, isolation, ETC.
what's the secret???
I can't tell you for YOUR CHILD... I only know what it is, for MINE.
You have to figure that out.
I have learned,,,,, POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT,,, goes much farther, than anything else.....
For my son,
ignoring him,,, is the WORST THING EVER,,,, to him.
You could take away sweets, candy, privileges, toys, WHATEVER you want... he won't care.... believe ME< I tried ALL OF IT...
But,,,,,
Putting him the corner or the hall way,,, where he can still SEE me, but I completely ignore him??
Ohhhhhhh he HATES THAT...... I've come to the conclusion, THAT'S the "key"

You have to find whatever it is, that WORKS.... and what works for ONE KID,,, probably isn't going to work for the other one.... I know that's how it was, with My brother and I... My mom and dad handled both of us completely differently... YES< I used to get highly angry about it, growing up... Once again,, another reason in that long-ass list of reasons, I've apologized to my mom and dad, OVER AND OVER...... Ever since my son turned 2 or so... Anyway,, NOW I get it... NOW I understand why consequences were different, and don't blame them ONE BIT for it....... now......  LOL

A few random thoughts on LEARNING coping skills... (and  using them!! )

OOOO the HOLIDAYS are officially OVER!!! ha ha ha ha
I'm glad I made it.... Made it without too many "urges", without too many tears, and things  SEEM to be going well..... I don't take that for granted these days, like I used to. And I know that everything could change in the BLINK OF AN EYE.... Keeping that fact in the back of my mind, helps me appreciate the times my family is able to be "all together" in one place. It helps me really "live in the moment" which I really recommend to anyone and everyone. You'll start to see things differently. I learned a lot about that, in my relapse  prevention stuff. 
See, they have you come up with 3 scenarios, that YOU think would most likely cause you to use again. For Example, Mine were :
~~~My Mom or Grandma getting very ill and/or passing away.
~~~Going through a divorce/separation or anything like that with Mike.
~~~My child being a teenager and/or hating my guts.

So, after you "name" these scenarios, you go through the actual events or timeline of what would happen, how you would handle it SOBER, and you "practice" steps to prevent putting yourself in "danger" of relapse. One simple example I have is, when Mike was arrested, I called my very good friend who lives about four blocks away. She's never had a "problem" with drugs/alcohol, but is 150% supportive of my sobriety. As the police cars drove off, even though I had almost 2 years clean-time, my #1 thought was, 
"I know how to make you FEEL better"
Of course it was my addiction talking, trying to trick me into using.... WELL,, that's not what happened.... THANKS to that relapse prevention, I picked up my phone, called her, said the sheriff just took mike away on some kind of rape charge.....
She says, Oh my God, Amber. ..... are you at home? 
yes.
I"m coming, right now. Stay RIGHT there.....  
See,,,
my "first sign" of an urge, or trigger, or the DANGER ZONE... as I like to call it, is being ALONE..... and/or being UPSET, and alone...... The very first thing I do is start to withdraw myself from Family and Friends....  whenever I notice myself doing that nowadays, I make sure to not get "too far" out of reach..
I'm forever grateful she drove right over, and stayed by my side ALL DAY LONG... I don't even want to THINK ABOUT how that day would have turned out, without that phone call. It was like, I didn't even have to say it,,,, she just KNEW I couldn't be alone... No, she didn't act like a babysitter,,,, she was a shoulder to cry on, a quiet voice telling me no matter what, Everything WOULD BE OKAY, eventually..... And best of all, she LET ME BE SAD.... but also let me know, it would be OKAY.... I hope that makes sense?
and I can only hope any other person, in my shoes, going down this road of recovery, has such a self-less, big-hearted  Friend, to help them get through the LIFE CHANGING moments we go through.. So they too, can stay sober through it all....
I'd do anything in the world to return that favor, to help her in ANY way, because she probably did have at least a small part, in saving MY LIFE... Not just on  01-19-12, but theres been plenty of other days, countless times I've called and said, I just need to talk for a minute , and tell you what's going on inside my head......

NOW,
back to my ORIGINAL POINT... about LIVING IN THE MOMENT.....
the counselors/therapists all say,
the only way to "prepare" for someone passing away, is to make sure you make GOOD memories with that person, while they are still here..... When you spend time with them, to BE THERE, both physically and mentally....  Not texting on the phone, or thinking of the long list of "to do's"
Be there, be present, and make memories that will LAST.... Then, and only then, you'll know you didn't take that person's time for granted. This really makes sense to me. The other part of it, was to "walk thru it all happening in your head"
Like a movie almost... Imagine you're loved one being ill, in the hospital maybe, visiting them, the tragic day they do pass away, the body being taken away, the phone calls you make to family and friends, organizing the memorial services, ETC ETC ETC.
Now,
that part has been really tough. But little by little I did go through it all. And, afterwards the first part begins to make even MORE SENSE.

this is all a small piece of the puzzle.... to my NEW COPING SKILLS....... Since I can NO longer rely on the ONE coping skill I had for a long, long time.
FEELING your feelings and emotions..... PFFFFTTTT....... that's pretty harsh, too.
things really DO hurt..... on the other hand, good things really DO feel GOOD, too.
I know I've talked before,
about how all the "experts" say, the brain will stop maturing and kind of "halt" with the parts of your brain that deal with coping mechanisms, feelings, emotions, foreseeing consequences, ETC.... From the time the person starting using, until they do finally get clean. Then your brain will sorta "pick up where it left off" and start maturing again. So, I'm 'mentally' late teens/early 20s I guess... LOL
it might be worth it to add,,,, I always thought it was kind of BS.... you know? How the hell do they know when my brain stopped maturing???
Well,,,,,
Now that I have some clean time.... I DO see a considerable difference in my coping skills, and SOME of my peers. Now, I'm definitely not the "worst" of the peers I know..... but the ones who never have been down that road of addiction.... well let's just say they are much better at expressing themselves, dealing with adversity, basic "unfairness" and things like that. I'm working on it though!!! I'm definitely nowhere NEAR giving up!!  And honestly, I feel like it's getting EASIER to express my feelings, or share how I feel, even when it IS something uncomfortable. If it's to someone I don't know very well, let's say a boss for example, I will usually lead with..... "well I really need to share something with you, and I'm not doing it for any other reason than to unload how I feel, because it's what I have learned I need to do, to stay sober. So please forgive me in advance, and thank you so much for listening to me"
MOST people seem to absolutely respect the honesty and let's just say balls it takes to do that. . . Well that's been MY experience anyway. I've even said things ALMOST like the above statement to bill collectors, and stuff... Mike's Probation Officer,,, for one... I told her,,,,, Look, I just need to unload a little here.. You are the one in charge, you are the one in TOTAL CONTROL, and I'm NOT on probation, so I'm going to tell you how I feel not to piss you off ---but because it's the ONLY way I know how to STAY SOBER.. which is my number one priority,,,,, DAILY...... (then here comes my rant!!! )
And just for the RECORD.......
I have apologized to his probation officer.. why? ...... hmmmmm
maybe because that's just the way I was brought up....   No matter HOW rude someone else is to you, doesn't mean you HAVE to be rude and horrible back. You can be the "better person" and apologize even if you don't feel it's deserved, and know that at least you don't have to be on the same "level" as them..... I know I've said this quote before, but it's one of my life-lines for success.....
my mom ALWAYS said,,,, Amber--- you are NO better than any other human on this planet, but remember there's also no S.O.B. better than YOU ARE, either...... 
she might not have said, SOB, but I'm remembering at least a few times she did !!! LOL
probably so I'd remember.......  I've told my son the VERY same thing....
So, I never apologized to the PO for my FEELINGS, but for my attitude, relaying them. 
One other thing I've learned is I can't really "help" how I feel, or what I feel, it just comes in waves....
so,,, to ALL OF YOU,,, who put up with my occasional moodiness, tantrums, random rants, ETC ETC...
THANK YOU..... thank you for listening, thank you for standing up to me and telling me when I'm wrong. Thanks for helping me LEARN how to live, again, without drugs. without that coping skill of "escape".
I really can't put into words how grateful I am for my support network,,
which stretches CLEAR ACROSS THE COUNTRY......... and includes probably every generation on the planet.....

enough of that mushy crap!!! huh?
Well see, I have to express the mushy stuff, too. It's just a part of life nowadays.

Helping Others.......and helping addicts......
I so wish I could help every recovering addict out there...... in SOME way.... but I just can't. and the truth is, if you are close to someone who's recovering, or trying, or maybe not quite there yet......
I think the STRUGGLE is just as important as DETOX.....
Honestly...
I'll tell you why......  when you're in active addiction,,, and pretty much, (or 100%)
homeless, penny-less, desperate, alone, scared, hopeless, ALL THOSE TERRIBLE THINGS..... you get yourself through detox, and the REAL WORK starts.... Let's say you finally have a job and a solid roof over your head. Just keeping THAT,,,, just keeping those two things, is one HELL of a fight..... well it certainly is for most addicts, and it was for me. so, In my HONEST OPINION,,,
if those 'things' would have come EASY.......  than I probably wouldn't have put such a "high value" on it, and it would've been easy to lose... maybe easy to let go, and not pay the rent, spend the money elsewhere, instead.....
BUT,
it was a daily fight, to get up and go to work, and pay the bills. On the other hand, it was a HUGE RELIEF to not have to scheme, hustle and lie every day to stay "well"
today for example,,,
If I have a random thought (I cannot control those! )
about using, or getting high,,,,   the first thing that comes to mind, is I'll lose EVERYTHING.... Not all at once, but I know it would happen QUICKLY..... and I know my "support network" would pretty much be gone.....
it's taken a LONG time to get SOME TRUST back from my family and friends. Now, I don't blame them ONE BIT.... I'm actually grateful for the CHANCE to earn ANY of it back. . . 
I guess what I'm trying to say is,,,,
you don't want to "help" a recovering addict TOO MUCH, especially in the beginning, because it will make it "too easy" to give up.
I hope that makes sense???
if you really WANT TO HELP someone in that position,,,, rides to work or to look for a job, is a good start.. or a bus pass.... with their name on it, some type of non-refundable pass, if you can get it. Take them to the store and buy some groceries, something like that... and make sure and keep the receipt.... LOL.... You may be laughing, but I'm telling you the honest truth here..... Another thing if you're more willing to donate $$$ rather than time, offer to pay for some therapy, counseling or group sessions. Obviously let them pick and you PAY THE PLACE DIRECTLY........ Just a few tips for those of you, in the given situation... those are the things that helped me. Mom/Dad/Grandma gave me NO CASH at least for the first year. I didn't blame them, I didn't hold a grudge or get upset, because like I said, I'm grateful they let me WORK ON EARNING TRUST BACK.......
there's MANY people out there,
who really have a good "drive" to quit, and quit for GOOD, but who have NO support network, no "means" to gain even simple things so many people take for granted, every single day.
I offer rides a lot.... Since the bus schedule pretty much sucks, here.
You should see the way a face lights up,,,, 
on someone who's walking a couple miles a day, or riding a bike in the rain daily,
when you offer a ride here or there.
WOW, really? they say, THAT Would be SO GREAT... Oh man, THANK YOU so much....
it really does feel good. . . 
and see, you can totally help, without giving cash, or anything ,,,,,,,,,,, trade-able.......
Finally,,,
do NOT feel guilty about making them work for trust, or favors, or ANYTHING.... Think of it this way..... Later down the road, any 'trust' they have earned back,
will become this price-less 'thing' they do NOT want to lose... It becomes a reason to NOT relapse.... a reason to reach out for help, instead of an escape.....
All you really have to do, is be willing to listen, willing to work on the relationship yourself a bit,,, too.  NONE of us are perfect.... and we never will be. . . . but we can share great memories, laughter, and holidays worth remembering.... Pushing all the painful memories away and out.... 
that's the life I want to live.... that's the life I'm TRYING TO LIVE....

I'm nowhere NEAR perfect, and don't ever want to come across that way.

THANKS for reading my thoughts, feelings, experiences, pain, heartbreak, perseverance, and HONESTY..... There's no way I'd be sitting here typing this without ALL OF MY SUPPORT SYSTEM.... I mean ALL of you....
I think I'm getting better at this stuff!!!  and thanks also, for "calling me on my bullshit"
because I do need THAT once in awhile, too.
                          
           



 
 

To CLOSE....
here's my very guilty-looking dog..... yes, digging holes in the yard!!
LOL
we have an understanding,,,,, again, I think.... I'm sure he did it because he was bored, or mad I quit taking him for walks when it snowed..... anyway,, thought you might enjoy.... his guilty face!!!



Have a safe , wonderful 
and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!







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