Archives for posts with tag: addiction

tape measure on pretty day 002

Photo courtesy of K. Farwell

This morning at Centering Prayer I was reminded of the importance of being tethered to the God of our understanding by our longing to be connected to the love of our Creator. In other words, our willingness to surrender ourselves to attain a connection with the total love that created us and is part of us is crucial in this journey we call life. If we are not willing to surrender our “I-ness,” our ego, if you will, then our own self-will creates a barrier between us and our Higher Power.

What immediately came to my mind was the realization that my surrender of wanting to be in control and to be independent (my “I-ness”) is not a one time, all or nothing occurrence. My surrender of self will is like one of those small round tape measures that let you pull out the tape measure to any length you want and then, at the push of a button, the tape measure is immediately retracted. When I surrender self and connect with God’s love I will eventually allow someone or something  to push my “ego-button” so that my connection  with God is severed and I retract back into my ego-driven isolation.

I have worked so hard and so long at not being dependent or co-dependent on any person, place, or thing that it is difficult for me to realize the God of my choosing cannot be limited to or defined by one of those categories. To not accept my total dependence on God for every breath I take is sheer insanity, but my ego keeps desperately hanging on to that denial.

My ego has been having a denial party ever since my best friend died this summer. I found myself submerged in grief, despair, anger, and the feeling that no matter what I did, I was going to die anyway, so I might as well live for the moment and stop denying myself what gives me pleasure. Fortunately, for me, that did not send me back into practicing my addiction to alcohol. However, I did start eating what I wanted to when I wanted to. Was I suicidal? No, being a diabetic, I still did not eat sugar, flour, bread, or high glycemic fruits and vegetables. But I did over indulge in protein, milk products, fats, and nuts.

Guess what happened? The usual——I gained some weight, food stopped tasting good, and nothing was filling my “emptiness.” It wasn’t until I stopped the denial/self-pity party and started weighing and measuring my foods again, saying please and thank you to God every day, and taking baby steps towards regular exercising that food started tasting good again and I started feeling “okay” again. Of course, my body rebelled and let me know it did not like “detox”—–but, being the “surrender, take it back, surrender again” type person I am, I was used to that  and it didn’t really bother me.

I guess what I am saying is I finally “got my groove back” and was in right-relationship with my Higher Power. It felt good. It felt like, as I heard a friend put it at a meeting recently, “I just stopped fighting the water and turned over and started floating on my back.”

I think I did so just in time because last night I had another medical crisis that kept me awake for several hours and convinced me once again that God is in control when all else fails. I experienced symptoms for several hours that usually either put me in the ER or in the hospital for a week or so or both, and I knew I had to surrender and trust God. I was able to stop fighting the pain,  to accept it, to take my prescribed medicine, and to turn myself, my will,  and my pain over to God with the understanding that I might still need to go to the ER if the medication did not work. God and the medicine worked their magic—–I was able to sleep for a few hours, and when I awoke the pain and nausea were gone.  The relief is indescribable, and I am most grateful for God’s gift of another day of life. God bless and keep you.

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Chocolate Fix

Chocolate Fix

Dear Readers:

I have been spending my summer getting cataracts surgery and adding eye drops to both eyes for seemingly forever. I have not been doing any creative writing, but I did find myself searching for something chocolate to drown out the bitter after- taste that is a side effect of the eye drops. This was a challenge since I cannot eat sugar in any form. Here is what I came up with, and I must admit I am addicted to it. Go figure.

High Protein Sugar-Free Chocolate Cheesecake Fix

Ingredients:

2 oz cream cheese

3 1/2 T small curd cottage cheese

3 T plain Greek yogurt

3 T sour cream

2/3 C Splenda

1 1/2-2 T sugar free instant chocolate pudding mix

2 T Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa

Warning/Disclaimer: Friends have told me this addictive. Eating it has been described as eating fudge, “licking the icing bowl,” and/or eating chocolate cheesecake without the crust.

Instructions:

  1. Soften cream cheese slightly in microwave. I do 50% strength for 30 seconds but have also done 15-20 seconds on high in “less potent” micro-waves.
  2. Add yogurt, cottage cheese, and sour cream. Initially cream ingredients together, then mix more briskly. Goal is to make sure cream cheese is distributed evenly.
  3. Carefully fold in Splenda, then mix more briskly (not quite beating).
  4. Add chocolate pudding mix and cocoa; again carefully fold in and then mix more briskly. Mix will thicken at this point.

Can be eaten immediately or covered and chilled in refrigerator. The finished product is the  consistency of thick icing or peanut butter; will not harden enough to be eaten in pieces like candy.  Picture is of portion size that is half of the recipe.

self2
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles,/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Have you ever been so happy that you were afraid to trust your happiness and found yourself intentionally distancing from that emotion? Are we so used to longing for that which we don’t have that when we get “it”—– whatever it is—–we quickly begin to feel restless and “not quite right” once more and begin to search for something else that will make us happy?
Is finding happiness like putting ourselves in the midst of a geographical cure only to find that our problems came with us? I apologize for asking multiple questions, but I am in the midst of a confusing emotional journey. I received very good news recently that something I had wanted for a long time was going to happen. I was very happy and very grateful, but an hour had not yet passed before I started feeling restless and uneasy. I could bring fleeting moments of joy back by focusing my thoughts on the good news I had gotten, but now, days later, that has given way to a minor depression, and I find myself not willing to seek out the solution to this emotional state. I know God is always with me and that if I “tune in” to that love and peace, I too will be peaceful and content. Once again, I seem to prefer floating around in a sea of uneasiness and “agitated depression” rather than relinquishing my will to God’s will. I find myself praying less, eating more, and thinking and writing less about spiritual matters. I seem to be purposefully avoiding consenting to letting God’s will and love empower me.
Years ago I was at an addictions conference, and one of the speakers talked about the research he had done with people addicted to gambling. He reported that as soon as such people won money from a slot machine, even a jackpot worth thousands, they immediately felt restless and dis-eased until they once again put money in the machine and began pulling levers or pushing buttons. The speaker explained his research suggested these addicts were more addicted to the potential of winning than they were actually winning. Perhaps, all addiction is about being addicted to something imagined and/or potential rather than reality.
I know working in partnership with God brings me happiness, contentment, and serenity. And I know I periodically distance myself from that partnership. I know intimacy scares me because of life experiences I have had, and, perhaps, I am more uncomfortable getting closer to and staying close to God than I realized until just now. Then too, on the tails of that insight, comes another “aha moment.” That may explain, somewhat, why I seem to be more comfortable in the familiar comfort of my “self-will run riot” than I am in the serenity I experience when I consent to God’s love and will. Could it be possible that I am not as addicted to chaos, food, or alcohol as I am to the illusion that I can control my life on my own? Perhaps the bottom line is I am a “self-will addict” that can only enjoy happiness, contentment, serenity, etc. temporarily and, just like the gambler putting money back into a slot machine, I am the one who distances myself from God to chase the illusion that this time things will be different and I can control my life with less help from God and by being less connected to God’s will. I have to “break the strong connection” or else I will not be able to chase the illusion of independent or mostly independent control.
Well, that is enough insight for today. I know what the solution is, but I seem to be choosing chasing the illusion over re-connecting more closely with God. And so, I get “sadder” and more restless, and I believe God may be crying—–or very, very irritated because his child repeatedly gets caught up in this approach-avoidance dance . I know he is used to it and me by now, but I know he also wishes I’d stop putting myself in harm’s way by periodically putting distance between us.

courage and believe rocks

Image courtesy of  BJWOK ,/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Yesterday, a friend asked me  how to do a 4th step inventory when most of the wrong [in her life] was done by someone else. As far as I know, this was the first time this person had considered applying these steps to her own life. I found myself having real trouble trying to answer that question in a way that made sense and was helpful to someone with little or no exposure to twelve step recovery. Therefore, I am going to try to answer that question more effectively in today’s blog. I obviously need to figure out the answer for myself!

The 4th step involves looking at character defects/shortcomings we recognize in how we relate to ourselves, others, and God.  Then we think about how these got started in our lives, what feelings or emotions seem to be at the root of them, and who or what we resent for the causative incident(s). We try to determine what “drive/defect/feeling” in us was associated with the resented incident/person. We look at the attitudes and behavior patterns that have shaped our lives—–not just our eating, drinking, gambling, etc.

However, when we look at patterns we often realize our own specific addictive behaviors or strongly linked to underlying problematic deep-rooted feelings or needs. We often eat or drink  (etc.) seeking comfort and/or escape from our painful or uncomfortable emotions (fear, anger, distrust, etc.).

A lot of our 4th step inventory is about discovering how we have harmed/hurt ourselves because of all of the above. For many of us, our 5th step “amends” are “living amends” to ourselves accomplished by living according to the guidance of program principles and/or our faith—–the change in our behavior and attitudes demonstrates our transformation/progress in recovery. Sometimes our living amends are the best kind to make to ourselves and others because actions speak louder than words.

It is also important to look at our assets when we take our inventory. Specifically, we can look at the attitudes, emotions, and behaviors that are the opposite of those that are the “defects” we’ve just inventoried. Acknowledging our positive assets—-or our progress towards them—-helps us realize not only the good in our past but the transformation that is taking place in the present as we practice recovery principles.

If we find ourselves wondering, “What do I do when it is others that need to make amends to me?” we are taking someone else’s inventory other than our own. The key is looking at our own lives from a holistic perspective and not just focusing on a specific action like how I hurt someone when I over ate or drank too much. That can be included in our inventory, of course, but hopefully, a holistic, in-depth inventory will explore and acknowledge much more. This is important because the drinking, eating, etc. is often a “symptom” of our underlying problem(s), and doing this type of in-depth inventory does a better job of acknowledging and working through the underlying problems.

By the way, these twelve steps are actually a “recipe for living” that can help anyone transform their lives. That is one of the reasons I talked about them at length in today’s blog. For more help understanding what character defects and program principles actually are, I would refer my readers to the 2nd edition of “Drop the Rock: Removing Character Defects” by  Bill P. Todd W. Sara S. and published in 2005 by Hazelden. God bless and keep you.

hand held heart

Image courtesy of  Somchai Som/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Today, during a guided imagery session, my Higher Power made me aware of a  couple of insights.  One is my Higher Power’s love is always there, has always been there, and will always be there—-even if I have been hurtful to myself or others in the past. But the newest insight for me, the one that really got my attention, was I am able to feel and express that same type of love for those I love in spite of any hurts, real or imagined, that I  believe I have suffered at their hand. Thus, the important lesson I came away from today’s session with is this: Our love for someone is strong enough to withstand the hurt we attribute to that person, just as God’s love is strong enough to withstand the things I have done that I am sure have hurt him.

I’m not talking trivial, little transgressions here. The person I love and chose to bring into today’s imagery session had, when I was a child, tied our family dog to the back of our school bus and had the bus driver drive away so the dog would be dragged behind the bus; the rationale for doing this was to teach the dog not to chase the school bus so he would avoid getting run over in the future. That same person slapped me at the dinner table in front of company and at another time picked me up by one arm while  swatting my “behind” with his other hand—- I literally became a human pendulum swinging back and forth between blows. Remembering those instances of hurt I experienced as a child brought unbidden tears to my eyes—even after all this time. And then I knew that some of the things I have done in the past like driving while intoxicated, practicing addictive behaviors, and engaging in what at the time was  called “free love” must have hurt my Higher Power just as deeply as those childhood memories that are embedded in my soul.  Then I felt the blessed relief of knowing  my Higher Power loves me anyway—-just as I love the person who psychologically and physically hurt me as a child. Those embedded hurts no longer have the power to block the love I have for the person who hurt me. Love is stronger than the hurt.

My writing today is relatively short. Conversely, however, the message “love is stronger than the hurt” is a momentous one for me. Now when I think of perceived hurtful events in my life I can stop investing energy in resenting those instances.  I can, instead,  focus on the love God shares with me and all of us that overlooks and overcomes the hurt. Resentment will never again have the power over me that it has had in the past. To be honest, I don’t yet trust that the resentments I have “nurtured” during my life time to entirely go away, but I know that now I can overcome  the hurt and resentment by focusing on the love I have been given as a gift by my Higher Power. And for this I am grateful.

bread2

Image courtesy of  -Marcus-/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I just saw a commercial where the narrator was proclaiming not only could you get 2X the points for using his company’s credit card, but,  if you did, then you could either eat or buy something that would “wake up your soul.” Unfortunately, I hadn’t been listening that closely, so I am not sure if the verb was “eat” or “buy.” It was a restaurant scene, so it probably was “eat.” Then, again, I may have heard “eat” because I have started a healthy eating regimen again . One where I turn my will and my life in regards to what I eat over to my Higher Power as I understand him. Put another way, it is a way of eating that is a gift from God that allows me to honor and care for my body as a temple/instrument meant to worship him and carry out his will on earth. Either way, my false self is feeling a wee bit neglected and miffed about no longer being in control of my eating. My true self, however,  is celebrating. I don’t know if anyone else out there ever feels guilty for eating what you want to when you want until you are able to determine you are setting up problems for your body, but it is an immense relief to let that guilt/shame go and to feel “happy, joyous, and free” (term from AA’s Big Book) in regards to freedom from the bondage of compulsive eating.

I actually did not start to type this morning in order to tell you about using the 12 steps to combat compulsive eating. What I really want to focus on is how ludicrous the idea is that you can eat something that will wake up your soul—–or even buy something that will. The concept of a major credit card company “going spiritual” is an excellent example of cognitive dissonance until you realize the God credit cards “worship” is money. Money and what it can buy does not wake up one’s soul. At least, it has not awakened mine. My “wake up calls” have all come from God. I am talking about the ones that had to practically “hit me over the head” before I noticed them and responded in a healthy way. And getting to the point that I was able to register the precarious position I had put myself in was, in retrospect, a very dangerous and self-destructive process. Thankfully, I have started learning to be aware of and to heed the “still small” voice within that comes from my spiritual relationship more effectively, and I no longer have to endanger myself before I am able to comprehend and respond to it.

I want to take a moment to try to relate what sorts of things I do think “wake up” my soul, a soul that is, thankfully, no longer buried in addiction. First, there is the joy of experiencing God’s creation. Then, there are the blessings associated with the wonderful relationships God has given me with others that not only help wake my soul but keep it awake. These are found in my church, my step study groups, my 12 step groups, my prayer groups, and in close, caring relationships with dear friends. Mediation, studying God’s word, reading spiritual writings, hugging my dogs, telling my father and my sister’s I love them when we talk on the phone,—–these are all examples of some of the wonderful gifts that wake, feed, and nourish my soul.

I had to think longer than an Episcopalian should before I could come up with an example of what one could possibly eat that would wake one’s soul. Then I remembered the strong spiritual connection I feel when I am administered the bread and wine that represent Jesus. At that magical moment  I literally become one with the body of Christ——and my soul is awakened  and empowered to go forth and share God’s love with others. I think through all my years of compulsive eating I was probably searching for that one food that could wake my soul. I am thankful I no longer have to do so. May God bless and keep you.

Ripples

Image courtesy of winnond/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Back in the day, I would thought that title referred to a cheap bottle of wine that was being passed around a circle of friends who were engaging in a bit of “social drug use.”  Today it has a totally different meaning for me. One of the Facebook  “posters” I shared this morning (accessed 1/1/2014 at PreventDisease.com) urged people to spread happiness as a candle shares light. A wise friend replied to my posting with this comment: ” It [happiness] just spreads like ripples from a thrown pebble.” That left me wondering, how can I live my life so that I create at least one positive ripple a day? Today’s blog will be focused on trying to answer that question for myself.

I hope what I write and share with others in these blogs and on my church Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Christ-Episcopal-Church-Cape-Girardeau-MO) will be able to create a positive ripple here and there. It is harder for me to spreading happiness with my actions—-by what I say and do. Since I am a “professional communicator” I sometimes prefer introverted solitude when I am not focused on helping others. Granted, I need a certain amount of that for “self-maintenance.” But,  when does self-maintenance turn into selfishness?

Obviously, I need to take  a quick inventory of actions I’ve taken in the past few days that have had the potential to block or create positive ripples. First of all, on the “negative” side of this inventory are the actions I took that isolated me from others even after I had sufficient time to “re-energize” myself. There were calls to friends I did not make because I did not want to let them know I was feeling just a bit depressed after this last trip home.  Although I did not drink, I found solace in  eating pistachios alone in my self-imposed fortress and rationalized the entire time  I was eating them that they were full of healthy antioxidants and fats. Some would say my refusal to do laundry, clean house, or wash dishes  were expressions of negative energy that blocks “positive ripples.” Others would say I was demonstrating signs and symptoms of a mild depression.

On the positive side of this inventory are the twelve step meetings I’ve attended and in which my presence and comments actively supported recovery—-as did everyone’s there. Giving my phone number to a new comer, offering  long distance solace via telephone conversation to friends experiencing emotional anguish, meeting a friend for lunch and “catching up” on our friendship, writing these blogs, and, finally, calling a friend this morning and admitting I am depressed—-all of these actions were related to positive ripples/outcomes…..probably more for myself than anyone else.

Looking at this inventory, it is obvious to me that I spread more “positive ripples” when I socially interact with others and less when I indulge in my character defect of isolation. One important insight this “exercise” has given me is the knowledge that meeting face-to-face with others allows their “positive ripples” to have a positive effect on me.  Granted, interacting with my four dogs can have that effect to a certain extent, but not to the extent talking to another human being face to face can.

I abhor New Year resolutions. I prefer  relating to one day at a time outcomes. So, today, I accept that I need to seek the company of my fellow two-leggeds on a regular basis even when I feel a very strong urge to isolate. I need to do this every day, one day at a time or my retirement will become, as it does for many, a descent into isolated depression. Yes, I will be attending a sixth step discussion group tonight.  Happiness is a choice, and if I want to continue traveling a spiritual path, I need to do what it takes to support that choice. For me,  that means besides seeking the company of others and continuing to take my anti-depressant medication as prescribed.

Thanks for letting me do a little “self-therapy” in regards to this “spread happiness” idea. May God bless and keep you.