Posts Tagged ‘heartbreak’

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Do it scared, do it hurt, do it depressed…

December 27, 2010

I am revisiting the notion of not letting fear, pain, depression, anxiety, or any other invisible inward feeling stop us from doing what we feel is the next right or wise thing to do.

For most of my life, I let unpredictable, unreliable inner feelings act as a traffic light telling me what I should or shouldn’t do next.  I was naive enough to believe those feelings and would often shy from important things in my life that needed to be done.  Important things like filing my taxes on time, opening mail, completing a home project, working out, or fulfilling a promise made to friends or family.

Instead, I often felt paralyzed by fear, depression, or anxiety.  Feeling so overwhelmed that the easiest thing to do was to procrastinate the task and escape into sleep, tv, or in the old days of active addiction and alcoholism, I would drink or drug.  None of these escapes were of any value.  I was seldom rejuvenated and the task avoided was still there.

Then one day, years ago, I was listening to some teaching on pressing through fear or other overwhelming feelings.  A simple suggestion was posed, “Why don’t you just do it scared”? 

‘It’ being the task that you would otherwise avoid or procrastinate on.  So I began to think back and ask myself, how many exams did I write in school while scared?  Pretty much every one.  Or when I was starting out my career and doing interviews, how many interviews did I do scared?  Pretty much every one.  And how many sporting events did I play scared?  Again, pretty much all of them.  So I realized I could, and often have, done many things while scared.  So why not continue in this?

How was it the first time any of us walked into a room of AA, NA, Al-Anon, OA, or any 12-step program, scared?  I would bet all of us.  Yet what did we find on the other side of that fear?  Sobriety?  Help? Hope? A new beginning after repeated failures and painful losses?  Yes, absolutely!

I believe  that  fear and other negative emotions are tactics often used by the sick/addicted part of our thinking to self-preserve the sickness or addiction.  Somehow, it is like our unrecovered self has a mind and agenda of its own, and it wants to continue to live and grow.  So it suggests to us that we should remain immobile and avoid certain tasks.  Often, the very tasks that will give us the most growth, recovery, and victory in the shortest period of time.

I post this because I find myself in a bit of a post-Christmas funk.  My mood has been heavy for a few days since Christmas and some things are bothering me.  I am home early from work and I have some financial matters that really need attending to.  And at this moment, my mind is doing everything to avoid these matters.

So my determination was to acknowledge and expose these feelings for what they are by sharing them on my blog, then press past the anxious feelings and just do them.  Which is the next and only thing on my list of things to do tonight. 

If re-living feelings of fear and anxiousness similar to those I felt at many important moments in my life is the worst it can be, then I know I can handle it.  I just need to keep it simple, shut the brain off, turn the body on, and do it.  Scared, anxious, depressed, overwhelmed, or whatever.  It is do-able, even if I am not comfortable.

Ciao.

Chaz

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“… at best, nobody will ever take another word you say seriously ever again”.

October 26, 2010

A dialogue from Bugsy, the 1991 movie portraying the life of legendary mobster, Ben Siegel, came to mind today. 

In particular, the dialogue between Siegel, played by Warren Beatty, and Meyer Lansky, played by Ben Kingsley, in which Siegel tells Lansky of his seemingly hair-brained plan to fly to Italy in the midst of World War 2, work his way through elite Italian society to get close to  and assassinate Mussolini. 

Lansky’s response to Siegel was to ask him to promise never bring up this grandiose plan ever again because if he did, “… at best, nobody will ever take another word you say seriously ever again”.

I remember all the grandiose plans I would state to people pre-recovery.  What I was going to do, where I was going to go, who I was going to be.  It was not so much the fantasizing during my drinking, but more the self-deception due to my alcoholic thinking whether drunk or sober.

It was self-deceived because I seldom ever followed through with the stated plans.  My behaviours, in fact, worked completely opposite to my verbalized intentions.  How badly I harmed my credibility in those times.  How sad it was for the people in my life to not be able to believe the words that came out of my mouth.  Yet the saddest part was that I could not even see it.  And truth remained hidden from me largely because some things were indeed working out.  But it must have been largely by fluke because I was not often following through.

One noticeable change for me in recovery is my ability to believe my own words.  This is partly because I less often state things that are unrealistic.  And partly because recovery has taught me to align my words and behaviours so they are moving in the same direction more often than not.

As an ACOA (adult child of an alcoholic), I have also come to grips with the fact that I used to over-commit because I didn’t want to let anyone down.  I was completely unrealistic.  Yet this urealisticness was the very source of me then letting people down.  Weird eh?

Being credible to ourselves and others is an amazing gift of recovery.  We more often are able to say what we do and do what we say.  Nothing more complicated than that.

Ciao

Chaz

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Powered by Gratitude

September 17, 2010

In the past 2 years, I have been discovering the amazing depth and power of gratitude. 

I’ve discovered gratitude at levels far deeper than can be expressed by words alone.  I am talking about the gratitude that we live, rather than say.  We express it in our actions by doing and the choices we make on a day to day, moment to moment basis.  We begin to see so vividly that the blessing we have received and recovery we have experienced are truly rare and amazing, that gratitude permeates our subconscious and becomes one of the foundational influences of our entire outlook on life.  We don’t just think about it in our conscious mind, we move to feeling it in our emotions continuously.

The power is that we are far less fearful, far more hopeful, and we discover new energy and motivation in life because we feel grateful for everything, and anxious for little.  We can do and achieve things that we used to fall short of.  Why?  Because the negative thoughts that always stopped us in our tracks are now nudged out by gratitude for each moment, each person, each event, and each physical item in our lives.

On a practical level, I have found gratitude helps me maintain a happy marriage, a fun and functioning relationship with my kids, physical fitness, success in my career, and better relationships with everyone in my life.

Again, why?  Because I have let go of so much self-pity that kept me only seeing the negative in each circumstance.  Filtered through fear and self-pity, I would virtually always see the half-empty glass.  My mind would automatically nit-pick the imperfections in my job, my home, my wife, my family, and my health.  Even if I didn’t say it, I would allow the thoughts in my mind that would then translate into behaviours that limited me.  Or worse, led me to give up.

Gratitude on the other hand, especially when we live it rather than say it, keeps us focused on the half-full portion of the glass.  Gratitude leads us to become excited and energized because of what we do have.  So we make use of the blessing of the half-full part of the glass and build a better life for ourselves with what we do have, rather than remain immobilized looking at what we don’t.

An example on a practical level would be times when I decide to act in gratitude for my wife by doing something as an expression of this gratitude.  This may be rubbing her neck while she works at her desk, or telling her I love her at a time when I don’t normally, or doing some of her share of the household responsibilities, or taking the kids out so she can have some peace for a while.  When I determine to act in gratitude, I am careful not to speak it as well.  I feel I don’t want to taint the purity of the expression.  And by doing, it has such an impact on me and her, that the most amazing feelings in both of us begin to emerge.  And our marriage functions better and better.

Another example is my fitness routine which includes cycling for about 10 kms a few times a week.  Self-pity would have me complain in my head about the cold, the rain, dogs, traffic, sweating, and how hard it was.  Gratitude on the other hand focuses on the opportunity to be in shape, the beauty of the area I cycle in, the fresh morning air, the compliments from others, and the feeling of accomplishment that only comes from knowing I completed a task fully.

When I let gratitude guide my thoughts and express itself in my actions like riding longer or pushing harder, I have better workouts and cycling than ever and get better results, which then fuels more gratitude and more action.

Gratitude expressed only verbally will do some good.  But gratitude internalized so deeply we constantly feel it to the point that it becomes one of our defaults of perspective, then expressed in actions, can take us to new heights in every part of our lives.  It has freed me from so many of the shackles of negativity that limited me.

I encourage everyone to seek gratitude beyond words then act on it.

Ciao

Chaz

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Two-speed Chaz

May 31, 2010

I used to have two setting; Elated or Enraged.  There were very few point in between.  Not until I was nearly 40 years of age did I learn that there were a whole range of intermediate setting for my emotions.  One of which was disappointment.

In my pre-recovering thinking, any let down was cause to switch to the Enraged setting.  And manifest this setting by either raging, fearing, depressing, pouting, drinking, or shutting down.  Yes, I am talking about during my adulthood.

Disappointment is that setting just a few notches in from “Normal” that I now switch to when something doesn’t turn out like I hoped it would.  It involves a little pain, which I accept as part of the setting.  But I know now that the pain is never enough to kill me and that it will eventually pass.  So I just let it pass through and if need be, talk to someone which always helps.  I no longer have to switch all the way to Enraged when little to medium things don’t work out.  I have a place to go emotionally that is far safer and becoming very familiar.

In active alcoholism, I wonder how many of us sought to be on the elated side of things, aided by our grandiose thinking and drinking.  And when we weren’t in these elated states, we sunk to some form of dark enraged irritability?  Did we know that a Normal setting even existed?  Or did we bounce back and forth in a bi-polar fashion?

Sobering up limited our options to spend time in what we felt was elation.  We are now available to discover and function in many points on the emotional spectrum.  Isn’t this what most “normal” people do?

Ciao.

Chaz

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Spiritual, not religious?

May 8, 2010

So what about this one?  An intriguing discussion emerged on my last post involving the distinction between “spiritual” and “religious” as it pertained to our involvements with powers greater than ourselves. 

My experience is simply that religion is a human-contrived set of practices, disciplines, and rituals he uses to formalize his interaction with God or whatever he believes are non-human powers greater than himself.  Religion as I see it often begins with a genuine experience of some kind with the supernatural.  The person or people who had the experience then form some sort of discipline to practice or continue the connection and perpetuate the experiences for themselves and others. 

Jerusalem

 

Religion seems to get a bad wrap.  Yet by the definition I have come to understand, most of us are in some way religious.  We do practice specific repeating activities to remain connected to the powers we believe in.  I have been involved in religious group who appear to practice religion only, with no clear sign of connection or involvement with a higher power.  The religion felt essentially empty. 

Yet God as I understand him, seems to reach me and make himself known to me in ways that are completely outside of the common disciplines that those who claim to represent him practice.  In other words, outside of the religious structure of many of those who claim to be his followers. 

It can all get complex, which I choose not to participate in.  God as I understand him is bigger than our mistakes, pride, and self-deceptions.  I find remaining humble and searching keeps a steady flow of interaction with God.  This to me is spiritual.  And I can get religious about it if I choose, which does not need to compete with my spiritual experiences.  Religion in fact can enhance my spiritual experiences as long as I do not put my disciplines (religion) proudly ahead of my interactions with God. 

Ciao. 

Chaz

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Thanks God, I’ll take it from here.

April 30, 2010

I often “term” the patterns of thought and behaviour I come to recognize in recovery and life in general.  One such behaviour I have termed the, “Thanks God, I’ll take it from here”, pattern. 

This is where we have recently had a profound enlightenment of some kind.  A realization, awakening, breakthrough, or victory.  Something life-changing.  Often, served up to us under unlikely and undeserving circumstances.  We are instantly grateful to any and all persons and powers who helped us.  We are for a time, truly humble in our brokenness.

It is not uncommon then for a sense of self-confidence to sprout.  Something in our subconscious mind suggests to us that we have in a small way arrived.  Yet we don’t often say it outright.  But we sense it and act as if we have. 

This sense of arrival often then overshadows the enlightenment and humility that followed.  And we end up with the mistaken notion that the source of the enlightenment wasn’t really worthy of the credit we previously gave them.  We forget from where we came.

What usually happens next? Some form of failure.  A relapse perhaps for those of us once addicted.  A reversal of progress for sure.  The one step back after the two steps forward.  Then comes time for another enlightenment.  Then repeat.

Is this a tragedy or just the nature of growth and learning?  I think the latter.

Ciao.

Chaz

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Barometer of progress

April 11, 2010

How do we measure progress in recovery or simple growth as a person?  I am not sure how to quantify this progress, yet I have discovered observable indicators that I see on a frequent basis that tell me that life is changing, progressing, and that I am growing.

I woke this morning to find my car having been ransacked last night.  I lost a bag full of work-related papers, a pair of prescription sunglasses, and a ring I had bought my daughter for her birthday I had left in the glove box and was going to give her tomorrow.  All told, probably $700 worth of belongings.

My reaction? Smirk, and a quietly verbalized “niiiicee”, as I stood there in the driveway looking at the open door of my car with remaining contents of my glove box on the passenger seat and floor.  I smirked further at the thought of the thieves trying to wear the sunglasses.  They are prescription lenses… they will not have any fun with them.

The telling part was my initial reactions did not include rage.  Nor did they include feelings of deep loss for these items.  I sit here disappointed at the inconvenience and forthcoming expenditures.  But that is it.  I am not furious.  I am not panicking.  In fact, I am blogging over it.  Thats it.  In days and weeks to come, I will replace the items and move on.  Even though I paying for all of these things is not something I can easily do at the drop of a hat.  But so what.  I have lost things in the past and I will lose things in the future.  So did millions of others throughout history.

Some of my barometers of progress include:

  • Road rage: Am I getting any better at how I behave in traffic?  Can I apply the principles of recovery such as acceptance, tolerance, and surrender to the behaviours of others in traffic?  My answer is yes.  More than ever.
  • Relationships: This is the big one.  As far as I am concerned, recovery expresses itself the greatest in how our relationships are going. Any one relationship can have trouble.  The more important question is, are our relationships in general improving?  Do we have more positive interactions in our lives?  Do we connect with stronger and better people more frequently?  Do we have people who can speak honestly with love into our lives?  Do we have any less flare-ups with people than we used to?
  • Handling change:  How do we handle change and crisis now?  Is it any better.  Do we “lose it” as often?  Feel the victim? Go into a rage? Sulk? Whine? Gossip? Self-pity?

 

Recovery is not something we do “in the rooms” or while we are working steps.  Recovery is how everyday life changes and improves.

So I hope someone out there is enjoying my prescription sunglasses.  And I hope they get a good buck at the pawn shop for the ring.  Summer is a ways off and I can easily replace the glasses by then.  My daughter is in my life and tells me she loves me every time I see her.  The ring can be replaced too.

Today is a beautiful day.  The final round of the Masters Tournament starts soon.  I will see my kids tonight.  I love my wife, and I am healthy.

Ciao.

Chaz