Posts Tagged ‘suicidal thoughts’

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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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Grateful for a sober, recovering Christmas. Wishing you one too.

December 24, 2010

I am so grateful to be spending Christmas in a functioning state this year.  In fact, each Christmas since I got sober has been wonderful.  Not meaning perfect, but I have learned to find the wonder and value in virtually all circumstances.

Christmas has been unfolding positively.  Will be seeing various branches of our families throughout the season.  Anxiety has finally quelled enough for me to be able to enjoy the simple things in life.  Like a non-lavish Christmas.

Although I recognize that many do not celebrate Christmas as recognition of the birth of Jesus Christ, I am glad that this day that started as a Christian holiday could become something so positive to so many people.  Sometimes we Christians lose the positiveness of Christmas in our insistence that Jesus birth should have remained forefront.  Well it seems it didn’t.  Not at the moment anyway.

But having gone off track from the original intent, it really isn’t a terrible tangent we have taken.  This really came to heart and mind as I left work today for a few days off for the Chirstmas season.  I found myself sharing hugs and sincere wishes for a great Christmas to people I would normally not have this type of warm interaction with.  Some of whom I barely know.

For a moment, an instant, I shared in warm and happy moments with people with whom I normally only talk work with.  How can that be bad?  I don’t know all the reasons why Christmas has ceased to be a celebration of the birth of Christ.  But somehow, I think God can handle it.

Ya, the commercialism and overspending are negatives.  But who said any of us have to participate in all of that?  Why can’t we focus on the fact that this is a time of year that many, if not most, people in our society are happier, warmer, friendlier.  The cup (of egg nog minus the rum) is half full my friends.  Drink of it and be happy!

Merry Christmas to all!

Chaz

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‘I’ve tried everything’

December 9, 2010

How many times in life do we feel or say, “I’ve tried everything”? 

Have we though?  Or is this the voice of our internal dialogue once again telling us things that are not true?  The following is a story from a fitness program I work with, but has great application in any area of life including recovery, business, marriage, relationships, schooling…

Motivational speaker and author Anthony Robbins once told the story of a man at a seminar who was extremely frustrated with his lack of results in marketing his company. The befuddled businessman said that he had tried everything but nothing worked. Here is the exchange that went on between the two of them:

Robbins: “You’ve tried EVERYTHING???”
Attendee: “Yes, I’ve tried absolutely everything!”

Robbins: “Tell me the last HUNDRED things you tried,”
Attendee: ” I haven’t tried a hundred things.”

Robbins: “OK, then just tell me the last FIFTY things you tried.”
Attendee: “I haven’t tried fifty things.”

Robbins: “Alright then tell me the last DOZEN things you tried.”
Attendee: (getting somewhat embarrassed) “Well, I haven’t tried a dozen things.”

Robbins: “I thought you said you tried EVERYTHING! So tell me then, how many things have you tried?”
Attendee: (Shrinking back into his seat), “Two or three.”

Obviously the man got the message loud and clear (Hopefully you did too).

Why do we fall for this?  Is our subconscious panicking?  Are we unknowingly looking for an excuse to quit or rationalize failure?  Are we lazy?  Are we simply lost in self-deception?

I have fallen into this trap.  For this very reason, I seek out outside voices, both written and spoken, to challenge my inaccurate internal dialogue.

Ciao.

Chaz

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A perfect day

November 14, 2010

How could a cold, rainy, dark, November day be perfect? When its spent on the sidelines of my son’s soccer game.

There I stood. It was well over an hour now and the field lights had come on. Soaked players sitting on the covered bench. Shivering with their sleeves pulled down over their hands to keep warm yet eager for their next shift.

It is a critical game for positioning for playoffs. We’re playing a team comparable in skill and standings. One of our team snipers, a kid from South America, just had fired a bullet of a shot from about 30 meters out whistling past the opposing goal keeper and rippling the mesh. His father standing beside me ecstatically cheering and congratulations his son in Spanish.

There I stood, on this cold, darkening, Canadian November afternoon, warm in my thermal boots, jacket, hat and umbrella, elated at my son’s team success that included an impregnable defense line of which my son is a part.  4 young teens that opposing teams dreaded for their ability to break up offensive plays.

My son, an average-sized new kid on his team, never backs down to any play or player.  His key skill is his ability to read the field, strip the opposing player, and put the ball in the right place for the midfielders and forwards to do their job.  Humbled by what he felt was a demotion to defense on this team he is new to this season, I was so blessed to be able to be there to support him through and help him understand the importance of proving himself in this role so he had a chance at the forward positions he excelled at on his teams in previous seasons.

After the game, we had dinner and a DVD planned at my house. I realized at that moment that this was a perfect day. It didn’t require my son to be the star of the team. It didn’t require that we be standing in a tropical paradise. It didn’t require that we had reservations for the best restaurant in town or a trip to Disneyland. Dad’s hamburgers and a DVD were all we needed.

I looked around in the closing minutes of the game in which we won 1-0 and what felt like currents of gratitude flowed through me. In that moment, all the amazing blessings in my life at that moment began to come to mind and I felt overwhelmed with how remarkable life was.

Ironically, the state-of-the-art turf field is located only blocks from where I used to hook up with drug dealers a few years ago. Only a few years ago, I was not in a physical or emotional state to care for my kids. And now feeling a flood of elation over life on life’s terms better and more pure and trustworthy than the cocaine rush and alcohol numbing of years ago.

I could now be there for my son to watch and help him grow and mature as a contributing member of a dominating soccer team and life.

I used to mire in self-pity over only seeing my kids once or twice a week. Now, I feel like the most blessed twice-weekly parent on the planet. I am able to do more with and for him in a couple of days a week than many parents do full time.  I love the life I am blessed with. I take less and less for granted. Even a cold, rainy, November day is something to be grateful for.

Ciao.

Chaz

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Fortressing a limp

November 6, 2010

Why is change so rare and difficult? I heard a fascinating interview with a doctor this week. He gave an analogy about people who would come to him with back pain who he helped by treating their feet.

Why? Because in these cases, he discovered that the back pain originated in a foot problem, which was compensated for by the ankle, which then was compensated for by the knee, then hip, and by the time they did anything about it, their back had joined the chain of compensating adjustments and now was hurting.

The patients had re-arranged most of their body to keep the untreated foot problem alive. They altered the way they stood, walked, sat, and slept to facilitate the foot problem. They unknowingly built a fortress around the original hurt and protected it with everything they did.

Treating the back did not have longterm benefit. The problem kept reoccurring because the cause was the untreated foot. He analogized this to problems in our lives where we experience a hurt or problem such as a childhood trauma or dysfunctional conditioning by our family, then slowly and silently begin re-arranging our life to suit the hurt; often for decades or a lifetime.

Over years, we have actually created a network of supports to enable the hurt to continue and affect us. We unknowingly choose and get into habits of thought and behaviour that help keep this damage alive. We choose people, build relational dynamics, occupations, living environments, and daily routines that also nurture and protect the hurt. We fortress it. Or we let the untreated hurt destroy our relationships and hurt others. Why?

Perhaps simply because it’s familiar and in a paradoxical way, comfortable? And why can’t we detect it to any degree that we can bring about change on our own? Perhaps because it is so woven into our psyche, it has become effectively permanent (so far).

Then, when one part of the compensating behaviour is challenged (the knee-limp), it upsets the whole dynamic (foot, ankle, knee, hip, back) so we resist it. We may be fearful or confused by the new awareness so we retreat to the comfort of the familiar, even if it is only kind-of working.

After years or decades of this protective behaviour, we have a well-rehearsed limp; physically, emotionally, relationally etc.
It is no wonder that we recovering alcoholics, ACOAs, codependents, ragers, etc. cannot affect change on our own and that the journey of change requires time, effort, and lots of support. Equally sick people in our lives often resist change as much as we do because it takes them into the less familiar as well, so they may not want us to change. And they too have fortressed in their limps with compensating behaviours.

I am grateful today for the numerous voices that I can listen to that help me see more of the root causes of my problems, rather than just the symptoms. I am grateful today for the company and influence of healthy people who are also on journeys of recovery, who don’t need me to continue limping in order for them to remain comfortable. I am grateful today to God for bringing these people and circumstances into my life to help break the fortresses around my pains and dysfunctions. I know a freedom and contentment like I have never known. I feel like a freed captive.

Ciao.

Chaz

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Where do I put this?

September 23, 2010

So when we are hurt, and we know self-pity is not the place to go, where do we put the pain?

Our understanding begs for some satisfaction.  The problem bounces around our head and often forms a resentment, anger, sadness, and robs us of our time, focus, and energy.  Then self-pity gets ahold of us and sucks us in like a vortex.  Or… what?

What is the alternative when you feel the pain, sadness, and the thin edge of the resentment wedge?  I ask this because as much as I have written about it in past, it has come to visit me again in the past 2 days.

My elderly alcoholic father is living like a cave man.  In squalor by choice and habit.  Unreasonable and unruly.  In isolation.  He won’t accept help from the staff at the senior’s facility he is in.  He insists on staying shut in his room with his tv, magazines, and mess.  Porn pin ups on the same walls as family pictures.  Insisting that life should come around to his way of thinking.  Mad at everyone, blaming everyone.  The room stinks and he is ok with that.

So my mind says to me, “This is what you get”?

Just the other day, I had a business transaction with a father who is grooming his adult son to take over his business.  Dad is mentoring him along.  Showing him how to make a decision in a large transaction.  Parenting him in a way I would have preferred to be parented, and in a way that I am endeavoring to parent my own son.

My mind is trying to say, “This kid has this kind of Dad.  Look what I get”. 

Some pretty toxic thinking on my part isn’t it?  If I were to let these thought have free reign, they would lead me to very dangerous places.  Self-pity is not an option.  Nor is resentment.  Nor is envy.

Gratitude and surrender are my weapons of choice.  Even so, they do not take the pain of disappointment away completely.  It is an uncomfortable place to be.  But better than going further down the road of negativity and into depression or worse.

So this is very much a journey and we don’t “arrive” as far as I can see.  Just for today, I am grateful that I was not left to follow in these same footsteps to this same destination as my father.  I am grateful to be someone different, even though I started out down this same road of alcoholism and self-centredness.

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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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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No dread, no regret, no resent

March 24, 2010

My mantra for the past few weeks has been, “Just for today, I will not dread, regret, resent”.  What an amazing few weeks it has been!

I simply resolved at the beginning and throughout each day, to avoid wherever possible these three pitfalls of thinking.  Any time my mind migrated there, I would simply immediately redirect to something positive.  I would not join in the internal dialogue in my head that would say things like,

“Man, today is going to be a tough day”, (dread)

“You really should have chosen a career as __________ “, (regret)

“I really hate that guy”, (resent)

You get the picture, I am sure.  I simply found myself drifting into these thought paths more than I cared to and to no practical end.  I was the only one who was hurt when I did.  Well, initially anyway.  Then I would hurt others by my behaviour that resulted from the emotional funk from dreading, resenting, and regretting.

And who am I to question God as to why the path I took was not the right one for me?  How do I know I am not exactly where I need to be and can be of most value to myself, God, my family, and humanity?

Who’s to say that if one of the things I regret not doing would not have been my undoing?  Who’s to say that if my ‘ship came in’ the way my thoughts felt it should have, that I wouldn’t have sunk it?

Life is amazing today.  As long as I remain in today and grateful for everything.

There is no place for dread, regret, or resentment in a life that, as Don Draper puts it, “Moves in only one direction, forward”.

Ciao.

Chaz

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Pain + Drama = Self-Pity

March 19, 2010

I find the tricky part of self-pity to be the fact that it is usually rooted in some amount of genuine pain.

Our culture has encouraged us to wrap our pain in drama and the result is usually self-pity.  Betrayal, loss, abuse, injury… they all hurt.  There is no getting around this.  They are however entirely typical and frequent events.  Nobody is exempt.

We unfortunately, whether knowingly or unknowingly, add drama to our pain and thereby, throw a bucket of gas on the fire.  We multiply our pain.  We often say, “It’s not fair, How could this happen to me? I don’t deserve this, How could he?  How could she?  I’ll show him/her, Why me? etc”.

Closing in on my mid-40’s, I have yet to meet the person my age who has been spared some form of painful calamity or gross injustice in life.  I would be wary of anyone who felt they hadn’t.  Illness, loss, injury, divorce, betrayal, financial setback, job-loss, abuse, natural disaster.  Who hasn’t been through one of these?  None are fair and they all hurt.

The day I learned to simply say, “this hurts”, and drop the followup statement like, “how could she? I don’t deserve this? I’ll show them? Its not fair?, etc”… or a real sneaky one, … talking about the injustice over and over with as many people as possible, was the day my pain stopped morphing into self-pity (as often).  Life took a turn toward becoming more manageable.

When we express our pain with the addition of drama, it is usually distasteful to others and they become intolerant.  So we are often unable to find genuine help because we push others away.  Instead, I have found that simply saying, “Man this hurts and I don’t really know what to do about it”, was often an effective way to seek help dealing with the pain.  Especially from those who have walked a similar path before me.

The advice back was often, “You just have to go through it a day at a time”.  This was not what my self-pity wanted to hear.  It didn’t feed the drama.  Yet when I finally learned to go through the pain a day at a time and function as best I could with minimal drama and focus on positives, life did indeed get better and the pain began to subside.  Very quickly in fact.

Others relate to the pain of the experience more than the drama.  So today, I do my best to separate the two, and avoid the drama altogether.  This is the easier, softer way.  Even though the unrecoved parts of my thinking want to run to the drama.

Undramatically….

Ciao.

Chaz