A lot of my happiest and saddest memories of grief, loss and pain involved using marijuana. I can recall many “happy” days with people who have passed...Now that I actually sit here reflecting on any time that I have ever felt “happiness”, I realize that I was always high. It could very well be a coincidence, but who knows. I fear, after leaving detox, I may only remember “happiness” as being high. I used drugs more and more when my life felt “happy”. Sometimes, in my pain, when I would feel the most consumed by the loss of my friend, I would feel so helpless that I thought that I had no other option than to smoke away my sadness. I didn’t do this so I could sleep or to be in a vegetative state, but I would do it in order to function; wake up, get dressed, drive to work, and then work a 10-hour day where I only didn’t rupture emotionally because of the help of the weed. I fear that after getting sober I will not trust any other system other than lighting up to relieve my mental pain, guilt, shame, and self-hatred. I pray that one day I will be able to be a responsible version of myself. I have a lot of hope.
Grief has been something I have always struggled with and it has also affected my recovery in many ways. At one point in time I was almost sober for 2 years and I thought that I was doing good in my sobriety, emotionally and spiritually. Then I experienced my father passing away and I immediately went into feeling depressed and detached where I stayed for a long, long time. I'm learning right now that not experiencing my grief most likely contributed to my relapse and the vicious cycle that I have been stuck in for the past 3 years. I know it is going to be a really tough process to go through but I think now I am at the point in my life where I need to faces these demons so that I can get back to living a sober and happy life.
This week, we are highlighting a new word to examine; “grief” will be the focus of our ongoing Word of the Week series. We have talked a lot here about themes that most if not all of us have experienced or will experience throughout our lives and our journeys in recovery. Grief is no exception as it is a universal experience that all of us either have already gone though, or will inevitably suffer at one point in our lives. The ability to cope and manage one’s grief is an invaluable “skill” in one’s emotional repertoire, unfortunately however, honing this “skill” requires that we experience loss which, obviously, is not an adequate practice ground for an experience that incites such overwhelming, negative emotions. Considering that the grieving process can be such a destabilizing event, it makes sense that we ought to engage in whatever preparatory actions we can before we need to inevitably go through this arduous journey. The prescription I am suggesting is that we work an intense, honest, and thorough recovery program so that when difficult times arise, we can have the courage and strength to face life’s difficulties head on.
Every stage of recovery influence to do the right thing is appropriate. The power of influence is unconsciously and subconsciously strong. Having someone’s best intention in mind means you would be their positive influence at any given time. Having a negative influence on someone can effect that person as well as the next person he or she came into contact with. Influences spread like diseases, especially when your influence is someone you look up to or someone you admire and love. Human beings are aware of right and wrong and its very important to keep positive influences around in order to keep a positive mindset.
Our Word of the Week series continues here at South Orange County Detox and Treatment as we turn our focus to a new word to examine, “influence”. As an addict/alcoholic, the first association with this particular word makes me think of “driving under the influence” or being “under the influence” of a particular drug. The next association that comes to mind, and following the natural progression of anyone who has suffered the legal consequences of addiction, is some type of criminal charge and maybe even a night, or 30, in jail. Once we admit we have a problem, however, and begin taking the necessary steps to seeking out a solution, we can begin to focus on the word “influence” in a more positive and hope-oriented light. Influences play a monumental role in the early stages of recovery, whether they are groups and communities, individuals, or even ideas. The reason it is so important to subscribe to positive influence early in sobriety is two-fold: first off, we can go back to our original association with influence, which is that of our drugs of choice. Our physical addictions, psychological obsessions, and emotional dependency on these substances were the determining factors in all of our actions when in active addiction. It is often said that one should not pull out a rug from another person without something adequate to replace it. This leads me to my second point which is that we have to be able to replace the drugs, and more aptly put, replace what the drugs were a illegitimate substitute for, in order to maintain any semblance of sanity during these first stages. I think the most obvious and universally effective replacement for the negative influence of drugs is the positive influence of a like-minded community such as is found in the rooms of AA and NA. Although engaging in the 12 steps is an invaluable tool for self-enlightenment and spiritual growth, I’m simply suggesting showing up to a meeting in order to find love and support from those who can identify with the addict’s plight as there is an inherent healing quality within this type of connection. Once this foundation is laid and one is able to feel supported by a community, it would be remiss not to turn our focus to a higher-order purpose. What I mean by this is setting our sights on emulating those individuals who might help bring us closer to our potential in whatever form that may be. As an example, if one of your goals in recovery, or life in general, is to become a great basketball player, you ought to be looking to Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant as your influence and probably not setting your sights on surpassing the average Joe at your local gym. In all likelihood, none of us will ever be the Michael Jordan’s of our respective aspirations, however, adopting someone or something that will help us strive to our greatest potential will do two things for us. It will keep us in a state of humility as we will be able to recognize our shortcomings in the face of the ideal, and two, it will keep us striving to be better than we thought we could be. This may seem like an unreasonable standard to try and meet but I believe that is the point. Life is not about ever becoming the proverbial Michael Jordan, it is about working as hard as the people who we look to in order to influence us so that we may become whatever version of the “the best” that we can be in accordance with our own abilities. Everything we experience influences us in one way or another meaning that we must apply wisdom when choosing our influences, especially when walking the path of recovery.
Not only has anger been a huge part of my addiction, but it has also been something that I have had to work on throughout my recovery and will be something I will have to work on through the rest of my life. To me, my anger leads me to resentments, and resentments is typically what causes me to relapse in most cases. Usually, my anger starts within myself, for example if I do something wrong and someone calls me out on my negative behavior, I tend to get angry because I want to be stuck in that negative thinking and negative actions. This then leads to me blaming others for my actions and my wrong doings and also victimizing myself and getting down on myself. Usually when I do this, I want people to feel bad for me and like people say “misery loves company.” These patterns have come up while I’ve been using and also when I’ve been sober. This behavior can most certainly cause unjustified resentments. Another way I’ve shown anger both in active addiction and recovery is if somebody wrongs me or hurts me, this makes me feel not loved, unworthy, and not accepted. These feelings can defiantly bring me down and put me in a bad spot and cause me to become angry. I feel like there is so much anger and hate in the world today, so many horrible things happen each and every day and effect so many people in so many different ways. While in recovery, I’ve been taught to deal with my anger and resentments in a healthier way rather than dealing with them like I would in the past by using drugs and at times violence or fighting. When I get angry today, I try to think about both parts, my part and the other person’s part and try to realize that they are sick and pray for them and let go of my anger or resentment. I am by no means perfect and still have much work to do because at time’s I can still get caught up in my anger and resentments and blame other people for my wrong doings, make myself the victim and let the anger fester which is not good for me. I have come to realize that my anger affects no one except for myself which is why I need to be mindful daily to make sure I am conscious of my actions and my behaviors and show love to everyone.
My anger doesn’t serve a use full purpose for me. When I’m angry my decision making is affected and I lose track of the purpose of the bigger picture. In recovery when I entertain my anger I see the patterns of self-destruction infect my ability to see things clearly. Getting through episodes of anger help me see the things I was blinded to when I come out the other side. Anger for me is sad because of how destructive my patterns and behaviors are effected. In recovery I could go without anger because when I’m not angry and resentful I feel my mind to be on track verses when I’m angry and closed minded and emotionally blinded.
Anger has been a huge contributing factor in my addiction. When I am angry I used to solve the issue by getting physical with the person. I had no conception of the problem driving the anger and could not identify the underlying emotions driving the anger. I would try stuffing the anger until I had an outburst and when I got to that point I had no conception of consequences. I would be focused solely on the problem instead of looking for solution because at that point the anger is used as a drug and it feels good. I have learned that I no longer have to live that way. Anger is a drug that has kept me sick and I had to really spend time identifying the underlying emotions with the help of Salina and SOCD. I have started to learn to control myself and my actions. Once you identify the underlying emotion it takes the power out of the anger and releases its ties that controlled me. I can now learn about myself by identifying the true problem and control how I respond to things.
Loyalty to me is like a commitment. It shows that I am willing to help in any way I can. Being devoted to someone or something consists of being trustworthy, honest, respectful, empathetic, and even courageous. I remain loyal to only a few people in my life today because these people have my best interest in mind and have been there for me in the darkest of times.
In recovery when I think of loyalty there are a couple people who come to mind. First off, SOCD and Salina have always been there for me when I needed help. Even when I did not deserve that loyalty it was never broken. She never gave up on me because she saw through the evil mask I would wear and see the potential I have. To this day, that bond still stands strong. Another person who comes to mind is my sponsor. I’ve shared things with him that I will take to the grave. He never judged me for any of those character defects. He has remained loyal to me and is helping me get through the steps with my full trust. I have never had this kind of loyalty in a relationship. And now I can see how loyalty in recovery is very important