Sunday, June 30, 2013

I Had To Deal With My Past To Be Free To Move Forward

When A.A. began, the success rate of staying sober stayed low until the 12 Steps were added to create a program of recovery.

I remember when my first sponsor handed me 4th Step worksheets she looked a bit concerned. She said,"Write it all down, don't judge yourself in the process and be honest. This isn't for me, it's for you Amber." I looked down at the inventory sheets: Who I Harmed, Who Harmed Me, Resentments, Fears, Sexual Conduct...OH MY GOSH!! I did NOT want to do all of this!

Then I realized: "How I have been living isn't working. These people look happy and I am not." So, I began to write. (Note: After the promise of a spiritual awakening as a result of doing the steps had come true for me-blew my MIND-, I did another 4th Step. I had lost hope for awhile after a series of events in my life had occurred. That second 4th Step kick-started my gratefulness!)

Through the process of writing it all on paper, I saw patterns and learned about myself and others. I became educated about my own selfishness, lies and the effects it had in my life and in the lives of others close to me. The fears I was still living out of never being accepted or heard was even a lie! I learned that life, and people, were not all that bad. My parents and others, even God, were not to blame. Heck, I never even asked my parents or God for help or guidance! I had just simply made poor choices, created stories about others, took everything so personal (because it was ALL ABOUT ME) and not stood up for myself enough! I got a different perspective. I wanted to live differently.

For awhile, I had lost my sanity and gratefulness. Taken so much for granted in the 'whoa is ME' lifestyle. Here was my chance to change and be grateful! Other people had done this step, dissected their past way of living and felt the same as me? Wow. I wasn't so unique after all (this is something I still have to remind myself, otherwise I start to think I'm better than or less than).

My past has a purpose. It's made me stronger. No longer do I have to dwell in it with 'what ifs' and 'I/they could or should have'. It is what it is. So how do I grow from it? Amend hurt and stay in an attitude of gratitude. Help another. Appreciate what is good, and cut out what doesn't work (what creates damage internally or externally)- the chaos. Get out of the habitually selfish lifestyle and ask God what He'd have me do, daily. Yes, this gave me gratefulness again, appreciation for life. All of this is still a daily reprieve. It's dangerous to think I have graduated!

I had to deal with my past to be free to move forward, otherwise I was sitting on garbage and deteriorating on the inside. I didn't want a stinky life. I wanted a mountain-top, HELLO BEAUTIFUL LIFE kind of life! The kind of life my parents and God had always intended for me to have.

All from openness, honesty and willingness to grow and change what wasn't working. Not easy, though my outlook upon life changed. Today, I am grateful.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Is Pushing People Away Normal Addict Behavior?

Simple Answer: Yes.

1. An addict tends to push away the people that are closest to them, to make space for the most important thing in their life; the substance or whatever addiction they are choosing.

2. Rock bottom is not an absolute; it varies from person to person. For some, losing their spouse is enough whilst for others living on the street is not enough.

3. People can change, however they can only be changed by themselves. They do all the work and, hopefully, ask guidance of a Higher Power greater than themselves. An addict cannot change to please someone else. All that someone can do for an addict is to provide them with realistic options and alternatives to their current behaviors. Professional advice often involves minimizing the harm that the substance or current addiction (sex, gambling, codependency, eating or spending) is causing to the addicts body and mind.

4. Most addicts feel terribly guilty for their behavior towards others, especially their loved ones. Sometimes, this shame and guilt drives them further into the addiction. When an addict becomes clean, they often feel the need to make amends with people they feel they have mistreated.

I've done it.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

If I Believe Something of Myself, I Become That

Today's thought from Hazelden is:One comes, finally, to believe whatever one repeats to one's self, whether the statement is true or false.--Napoleon Hill
Our inner dialogue can have awesome power. It often determines the behavior that defines who we are. We do, of course, have some choice as to the direction this inner dialogue will take. It's as easy to affirm our self-worth with positive messages as it is to tear ourselves down with negative ones. And yet, many of us fall so easily into negative patterns of thought.

As with so many aspects of our life, we become proficient at what we regularly practice. The regular, preferably daily, use of positive affirmations can make such a profound contribution to our well-being and willingness to grow and learn, that it can change the course of our life. All we have to do is develop the discipline to make these positive messages habitual. In so doing, we bring our vision of ourselves in line with God's, Who accepts us completely as we are.

The messages I give myself today will remind me that I am a capable and lovable child of God.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Exact Nature Of My Wrongs

"We are only as sick as our secrets."

It's not easy for me to always share with another person the exact nature of my wrongs, though I do it to stay happy, joyous and free! Do I have to tell the whole world? Um, heck no! Some people take my wrong personally and it could potentially create even more harm. I try to keep it simple.

If I do wrong, it eats at me like a disease. This feeling always creates an emotional hangover- so not fun! It's a great indicator though, a red flag waving, that I also need to amend the wrong or harm done. Cleaning my 'house' will cleanse my soul, lift my spirit and maybe it will positively affect another persons' life as well.

How I choose to turn a wrong into a right is my choice, though I always pray for guidance and strength for action first. The end result is usually a freedom from my own self-delusion and a break in a self-destructive pattern...which brings me closer to God and to my fellows. Then, I can look in the mirror with ease instead of negative judgement, guilt, anger or self-deranged Poor Me-s (all that keeps me stuck).

I may always have a smudge of regret here or there, though I give myself permission to learn, grow and move forward. Accountability helps me to stay grounded in reality, instead of wishy-washy in fantasy.

I thank all of my mentors who taught me this new way to live. It sure does beat the old way!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

How Important Is It To Smile?

A smile is a gently curved line that can set all so many things straight. Today, I will focus on smiling more for it warms my heart and the hearts of others. How important is it to smile? Try to see its power by smiling at another who is frowning.

It can be very empowering to take responsibility for my own choices. I will act in my own best interest today.
 -Courage to Change

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Life Is 10% What Happens To Me, 90% of How I React To It

Today'sthought from Hazelden is:

What happens to us is not as important as how we respond. The external events of our lives are largely beyond our control. We do not choose our parents, our emotional environment, the historical period in which we live, our body type, or the flow of circumstances that shape our experience. These are givens.

We do not select them, but we can choose how we will react to them, and in that choice lies our freedom and our responsibility. Instead of complaining about the hand we've been dealt, we can concentrate on playing it well. This is the way we exercise our freedom. What might appear to be random chance can take on meaning and purpose as we delve for insight and use our deficiencies as opportunities for growth.

Our responsibility is to do the best we can with what we have where we are. And we don't do it alone. We have help in learning how best to respond. We have a support group, we have a Higher Power, and we have an inner guide if we will listen for direction.

Today, I will remember that the what of my life is not as important as the how.

Friday, June 21, 2013

How Does Happiness Work?

“Just for today, I will be happy."

This assumes to be true what Abraham Lincoln said: ‘Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.’

“Nobody’s life is all dark and cloudy. Let’s look for the brighter and happier things in it. This often helps to make the clouds disappear!" 
-One Day at a Time

When I was in a depression after the death of my marriage, I recieved some great advice. My counslor said, "Take a look at yourself in your down time. Sit with the feeling of lonliness. Then, ask yourself a very important question, 'Who do I want to be in 10 minutes?'. That might change your attitude and perspective."

Depression is real. A dis-ease of the mind. When I experienced loss and pain, it took a lot of work on my part to make changes. And I'm a stronger woman because of it.

So how does happiness work for me? I believe by asking for guidance from others who've experienced the same pain (went to a divorce group), making a change of patterns, helping another, and by loving myself by taking action to be a new me.

Self-Care With Family Members...and Ourselves

Today's thought from Hazelden is:

I was 35 years old the first time I spoke up to my mother and refused to buy into her games and manipulation. . .I didn't have to start an argument. But I could say what I wanted and needed to say to take care of myself. I learned I could love and honor myself, and still care about my mother - the way I wanted to - the way she wanted me to.


Who knows better how to push our buttons than family members? Who, besides family members, do we give such power? No matter how long we or our family members have been recovering, relationships with family members can be provocative. One telephone conversation can put us in an emotional and psychological tailspin that lasts for hours or days.

The process of detaching in love from family members can take years. So can the process of learning how to react in a more effective way. We cannot control what they do or try to do, but we can gain some sense of control over how we choose to react.

Stop trying to make them act or treat us any differently. Unhook from their system by refusing to try to change or influence them. Their patterns, particularly their patterns with us, are their issues. How we react, or allow these patterns to influence us, is our issue. How we take care of ourselves is our issue.

We can take care of ourselves with family members without feeling guilty. We can learn to be assertive with family members without being aggressive. We can set the boundaries we need and want to set with family members without being disloyal to the family.

We can learn to love our family without forfeiting love and respect for ourselves.

Today, help me start practicing self-care with family members. Help me know that I do not have to allow their issues to control my life, my day, or my feelings. Help me know its okay to have all my feelings about family members, without guilt or shame.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Desire…Oh The Cravings of Pleasure

So, I looked up the definition of desire in the dictionary and, let me tell ya, I feel inspired to write! Desire is quite interesting I think.

The dictionary defines ‘desire’ as longing or hoping for; strong intention or aim; to express a wish of; to invite; or to feel the loss of.

Did you know that desire and fear are transmitted on the same brain circuit? They are psychological opposites, yet riding the same wave? I wonder if it’s because the result of completing both create dopamine (the brain’s pleasure chemical). This all makes so much sense! My brain likes pleasure, rewards, excitement and new! Though, because I rewarded myself by self medicating for so many years since I was quite young, too much of this and I can easily lose myself in extreme behaviors and addiction.

All through my 12 years of being a user-user of people, places, things and alcohol/pot-my brain became quite used to that lovely dopamine, even though my life was slowly becoming unmanageable. Then, one day, God stepped in my will’s way and said, “Look at yourself! I’ve got plans for you and this, my dear, is not it.” Soon enough, just having daily conversations with Him and seeing miracles happen became a new, healthier pleasure with positive rewards.

The definition of unmanageable? Not submitting to discipline; difficult to keep within limits; awkward. Yep! That was me, to the extreme for a long while. I still have my moments, though I’m stronger, wiser, filled with more love and my eyes are opened. I took the steps to change, going backwards is a choice…self sabotage. Nope, I have no desire for that!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Stages Of Loss And Grief

The 5 Stages of Loss and Grief By JULIE AXELROD

The stages of mourning are universal and are experienced by people from all walks of life. Mourning occurs in response to an individual’s own terminal illness or to the death of a valued relationship, human or animal.

There are five stages of normal grief. They were first proposed by Elsabeth Kubler-Ross in her 1969 book “On Death and Dying.” In our bereavement, we spend different lengths of time working through each step and express each stage more or less intensely. The five stages do not necessarily occur in order. We often move between stages before achieving a more peaceful acceptance of death. Many of us are not afforded the luxury of time required to achieve this final stage of grief. The death of your loved one might inspire you to evaluate your own feelings of mortality. Throughout each stage, a common thread of hope emerges.

As long as there is life, there is hope. As long as there is hope, there is life. Many people do not experience the stages in the order listed below, which is okay. The key to understanding the stages is not to feel like you must go through every one of them, in precise order. Instead, it’s more helpful to look at them as guides in the grieving process — it helps you understand and put into context where you are.

1. Denial and Isolation
 The first reaction to learning of terminal illness or death of a cherished loved one is to deny the reality of the situation. It is a normal reaction to rationalize overwhelming emotions. It is a defense mechanism that buffers the immediate shock. We block out the words and hide from the facts. This is a temporary response that carries us through the first wave of pain.

2. Anger
 As the masking effects of denial and isolation begin to wear, reality and its pain re-emerge. We are not ready. The intense emotion is deflected from our vulnerable core, redirected and expressed instead as anger. The anger may be aimed at inanimate objects, complete strangers, friends or family. Anger may be directed at our dying or deceased loved one. Rationally, we know the person is not to be blamed. Emotionally, however, we may resent the person for causing us pain or for leaving us. We feel guilty for being angry, and this makes us more angry. The doctor who diagnosed the illness and was unable to cure the disease might become a convenient target.

Health professionals deal with death and dying every day. That does not make them immune to the suffering of their patients or to those who grieve for them. Do not hesitate to ask your doctor to give you extra time or to explain just once more the details of your loved one’s illness. Arrange a special appointment or ask that he telephone you at the end of his day. Ask for clear answers to your questions regarding medical diagnosis and treatment. Understand the options available to you. Take your time.

3. Bargaining
 The normal reaction to feelings of helplessness and vulnerability is often a need to regain control– If only we had sought medical attention sooner… If only we got a second opinion from another doctor… If only we had tried to be a better person toward them… Secretly, we may make a deal with God or our higher power in an attempt to postpone the inevitable. This is a weaker line of defense to protect us from the painful reality.

4. Depression
 Two types of depression are associated with mourning. The first one is a reaction to practical implications relating to the loss. Sadness and regret predominate this type of depression. We worry about the costs and burial. We worry that, in our grief, we have spent less time with others that depend on us. This phase may be eased by simple clarification and reassurance. We may need a bit of helpful cooperation and a few kind words.

The second type of depression is more subtle and, in a sense, perhaps more private. It is our quiet preparation to separate and to bid our loved one farewell. Sometimes all we really need is a hug.

5. Acceptance
 Reaching this stage of mourning is a gift not afforded to everyone. Death may be sudden and unexpected or we may never see beyond our anger or denial. It is not necessarily a mark of bravery to resist the inevitable and to deny ourselves the opportunity to make our peace.

This phase is marked by withdrawal and calm. This is not a period of happiness and must be distinguished from depression. Loved ones that are terminally ill or aging appear to go through a final period of withdrawal. This is by no means a suggestion that they are aware of their own impending death or such, only that physical decline may be sufficient to produce a similar response. Their behavior implies that it is natural to reach a stage at which social interaction is limited. The dignity and grace shown by our dying loved ones may well be their last gift to us. Coping with loss is a ultimately a deeply personal and singular experience — nobody can help you go through it more easily or understand all the emotions that you’re going through. But others can be there for you and help comfort you through this process. The best thing you can do is to allow yourself to feel the grief as it comes over you. Resisting it only will prolong the natural process of healing.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

I've Gotta Laugh At Myself!

Why can’t an addict’s mind be simple? Balanced? Not extreme with baffling tendencies to self-destruct? Why can’t my addict mind stop developing a problem where there isn’t one?

Oh, wait, it can. Yes, it can. There is progress, not perfection, in being honest and staying open and willing. Now I’m remembering all the tools I’ve been given throughout my time in recovery (to talk it out with someone who’s in a better place, just for that moment, than me; go to a meeting; shut up and listen because maybe I will learn something; pray; do something loving and kind for myself where the outcome doesn’t hurt or harm another; etc). Should I utilize them, or just go self-will run riot and end up F.I.N.E. with amends to make?

Like learning another language, all of these thoughts were so foreign to me until I sobered up, trusted in others to help me stay sobered up, talked to God, asking His will be done, sifted through my past, made my amends to those I could, made a lot of mistakes to find out what I wanted, then FINALLY I started to care about myself. To not take myself so damn seriously, though, to know my worth.

These thoughts –ANTS (automatic negative thoughts)- disappear when I decide to focus on being loving and kind in any given moment. I push my ego and pride aside many times a day. I have to. When I get ‘puffed up’, I screw up.

Laughing is so important. I encourage you to laugh as loud as you can…even at yourself. When my mind goes into a whirlwind of creation and I make things up, then call it truth…only to find out I still lie to myself, I get a little serious by checking my own inventory and then I ultimately laugh at myself. My friends and family laugh at me, too-that helps! Laughter and love, so healing they both are!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

If You Want It, Honesty Is Key.

A good garden may have some weeds. --Thomas Fuller

Newcomer: "I've done a few things I'm not proud of, but isn't that part of being human? Other people aren't perfect either."

Sponsor: "Looking honestly and unflinchingly at our behavior, while at the same time having compassion for ourselves, is a powerful combination."

Steps 4 through 9 offer us a simple process for clearing up the wreckage of the past so that we can live without the burden of regret. In recovery, we have the opportunity to change for the better, not to demand perfection of ourselves or others.

My perfectionism sometimes makes me forget that I'm engaged in a process of change over time. It also lets me exaggerate both how "good" and "bad" I am. If I'm not "the greatest" in some situation, I decide, in my arrogance, that I must be the "the worst." What a strange way of giving myself importance!

One of the program sayings reminds me not to compare my insides with other people's outsides. I have my own unique gifts; accepting and nurturing these gifts brings me joy and allows me to contribute to the human community. We're capable of feeling love and compassion for others who are far from perfect. In recovery, we can learn to extend that love and compassion to ourselves.

For today, I will delete "perfect" from my vocabulary and practice using the word "better".

Today I shared the Hazelden message from If You Want What We Have. Working the steps is an intricate part of my recovery and how I live without so much pain, how I can take a thorough, honest look at my behaviors, how I can grow without excuses, how I move forward with a new attitude and perspective.

Thank you to all my friends at The Blue Box meeting in Oak Harbor, WA for saying over and over, even when I thought I knew so much-"It works if you work it, and you're worth it!"

Monday, June 10, 2013

Yellow Diamond? Maybe Someday...

When I don't say what's important to me, when I don't do the things that make me happy, I explode with sadness on the inside or do something incredibly stupid.  

When I bottle it up, whatever it is, everything becomes more intensified and I lose sight of who I strive to be-a healthy, youthful, extraordinary sober woman who has a PhD in creating results. 

My love and I are no longer together. He always seemed to have the missing puzzle piece when I couldn't figure out where it went. He is a dynamic leader! We both tried.

I vowed to myself today to be grateful for what I do have, appreciate all that is good within my life and how blessed that I got to experience falling in infatuation, then friendship, then love. It wasn't easy and eventhough it did not last, it feels to me like it conquered so much and so many things.

I will continue to count my blessings and laugh hard, even if my heart still aches. I will still be hopeful of a yellow diamond someday, of having my own child and of a love so deep nothing can twist it be sour. For when God puts two people together, nothing can separate them when they are both in union with Him.

So, yellow diamond? Maybe someday...though I am certainly going to strive to shine bright and I'm sure he will, too.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Most Controversial Post...Poisonous Mind?

I was talking with a friend today and asked him if the term "Dry Drunk" was a real medical term. With 25 years of continuous sobriety he reassured me that though not an AMA term as of yet, it is classified in institutions across the world and in A.A. I always thought of it as a throw-away concept, until research proved my thinking wrong. Humbled yet again. Here is what I found:

"Dry Drunk" has been described as: "A condition of returning to one’s old alcoholic thinking and behavior without actually having taken a drink." Or another favorite: "You can take the rum out of the fruit cake, but you’ve still got a fruit cake!"

The phrase "dry drunk" has two significant words for the alcoholic. "Dry" refers to the abstinence from drinking, whereas "drunk" signifies a deeply pathological condition resulting from the use of alcohol in the past. Taken together these words suggest intoxication without alcohol. Since intoxication comes from the Greek word for poison, "dry drunk" implies a state of mind and a mode of behavior that are poisonous to the alcoholic’s well being.

Persons experiencing a full-blown dry drunk are, for that period, removed from the world of sobriety; they fail, for whatever reason, to accept the necessary conditions for sober living. Their mental and emotional homes are chaotic, their approach to everyday living is unrealistic, and their behavior, both verbal and physical, is unacceptable. This lack of sober realism manifests itself in many ways:

1. Grandiosity, put very simply, is an exaggeration of one’s own importance. This can be demonstrated either in terms of one’s strengths or weaknesses. In either case it is blatantly self- seeking or self-serving, putting oneself at the center of attention, from the "big me" who has the answers to the "poor me" whose cup of self-pity runneth over and wants all of our attention.

2. Judgmentalism is mutually related to grandiosity. It means that the alcoholic is prone to make value judgments - strikingly inappropriate evaluations - usually in terms of "goodness" or "badness".

3. Intolerance leaves no room for delaying the gratification of personal desires. This is accomplished by gross confusion of priorities with the result that a mere whim or passing fancy is mistakenly given more importance than genuine personal needs.

4. Impulsivity is the result of intolerance or the lack of ability to delay gratification of personal desires. Impulsivity describes behavior which is heedless of the ultimate consequence for self or others.

5. Indecisiveness is related to impulsitivity in the sense that while the latter takes no realistic account of the consequences of the actions, the former precludes effective action altogether. Indecisiveness stems from an unrealistic exaggeration of the negative possibilities of the action ; so one wavers between two or more possible courses of action, more times than not- nothing gets done.

The alcoholic who rationalizes their own irresponsible behavior are also likely to find fault in the attitudes and behavior of others. Although not denying their own shortcomings, they attempt to escape notice by cataloging in great detail the transgressions of others. *The classic maneuver of the dry drunk is over-reaction. The alcoholic may attach a seemingly disproportionate intensity of feeling to an ordinary insignificant event or mishap. Some alcoholics who experience the dry drunk seem to know all the answers, are seldom at a loss for words when it comes to self-diagnosis. Their knowledge is quite impressive, their apparent insight, as opposed to genuine insight, is convincing. They have all the answers, why would they ask for solutions?

For two years I didn't go to a meeting, obsessed over making money and I was a control freak with grandiosity who wanted everything my way, right now! I get it now. Dry Drunk happened to me.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

We All Deserve Love.

Love. I've talked earlier in my blog about the way I was raised in the section of Childhood Memories and how I experienced love, but that is just touching the iceberg for me.

On a crisp, sunny winter morning of December of 2011, I talked to my friend Anne on the phone about some events that happened the night prior with a man I loved. How he had told me to leave him alone, he said, "Can't you see that I am surrounding myself with people who want to drown themselves because I want to drown myself? You are an angel, and I am a bum. A drunken bum." Her few short words in response to what I had just told her, while holding back tears, she said, "We are here for you." I knew what to do.

I immediately got dressed and went to a meeting. I listened to everyone's stories about loving another person, putting their needs on the backburner and losing their desire to live because they were trying to fix another person to the point where they lost who they were. These people had done the same thing that I had, they let another person define who they were, tried to heal others in a way only God and desire can, and took on the feelings of inadequacy. They felt broken-that they were not enough. The result? Baffling and irrational behavior. Walls up to protect and not get hurt. Anger and sadness. Some die from the lonliness they feel like they were never enough.

There is so much more to what I have learned that I can only touch the surface in this blog, though I will tell you this: You, yourself, deserve love. You, yourself, deserve your love just as much as anyone else also. No matter what you have done in the past, no matter how you were raised, treated, beaten or abused, there will come a time where the healing will begin. Unlearning, deciding to be a new person who deserves to be loved, is extremely painful, though worth every effort!

My mother says we have all have layers, like onions. So true. I know I have layers of pain, deception, loss and lies...all in my past. It's a choice to continue to carry that garbage. I needed to look at everything I didn't like in myself and clean house, peeling away the layers of garbage (control, anger, hate, know-it all attitude, insecurity, hypocrisy, lack of, bitterness, regret, resentment, victim mentality, selfishness and chaos). After doing that, after continuing to do this, I am new again and anything, everything, is possible. Literally a brand new person with so much space to fill with love and kindness, for God, for myself, and for others. It has been a process though, to say the least, and I'm still working on it.

I've seen in another person a mirrored reflection of myself. Everything from choices made, fear in the eyes, hurts and constant searching. All of a sudden, I realize that I am in no position to judge anyone. We all have a journey, a healing process and choices. What do I believe all this is for? Love. Openness. Understanding. Empathy. Compassion. Honesty. For no longer choosing chaos but deciding to love ourselves enough to want sanity and happiness. For peace and contentment in a new way of living, a loving way to live.

There is so much beauty in living in the light and leaving the darkness behind. Sunlight, moonlight, starlight, the light in a person's eyes and light radiating from a person's face. I view this as love. Love for ourselves, love from others and love from God-we all have our journey to feeling we deserve the good things. Most importantly, we all deserve love.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

My Down Times...They Still Happen

For the past few days I've been experiencing a roller coaster ride of emotions and I am having a tough time, but hey, things will get different.

I just recently learned that anxiety is worry about the future, where depression is sad thoughts of the past. When things are simple, I seem to understand, makes sense! As a result, I've been able to recognize how either is set off for me and the results are thinking too much on what I don't have (fantasy=anxiety) and listening to sad, past-filled reminder music (keeps me in the thoughts of the past). I can minimize my anxiety or depression by practicing interrupting these thoughts. Simply by doing something different.

Where I usually find myself getting stuck is how to be loving and kind to myself when life isn't going as smoothly as I'd like. One of my sponsees helped remind me with some words I told her awhile back, "Focus on three things you're grateful for." That helped, love her! So easy to give advice, though to heed my own takes effort for sure! Funny how that works.

I'm still in a bit of a funk and I think a big part of this is due to feelings of uselessness and self-pity-my danger area of selfishness. It doesn't feel good. Maybe that means I should get out of my own way and go to sleep, relax and take it easy. After all, tomorrow's a new day and maybe I will decide to get my endorphins going with some exercise or do something nice for myself.

Balance is important, though I can easily go to extremes with helping others. It's difficult at times to ask for what I need from others. Negative thoughts creep in and I start thinking people would not care enough, 'Why even bother?' It may end up being true, but I'm being patient with myself and learning that anything can happen at any moment. God does have a plan, I believe, andd trusting that is important in living my life.

Ultimately, I still struggle. Especially when I lack motivation. Honestly, many times, the closest people in my life don't know how to handle me when I'm sad. Many of my friends-even family-are baffled when I'm down, some stay at a distance and that is okay. I am more and more aware that God is closest in my struggles and in my happiness, always beside me and even carrying me.

Today, I'm grateful for God, love, a clear conscience and for a sober nights sleep. My down times still come, just not as frequently as they used to while drinking...they still happen though and that's okay.