Categories
Addiction Adolescence Alcoholism Eating Disorders Mental Health Recovery Treatment

Resolutions: One Step at a Time

Resolution - better time management
Resolution (Photo credit: vpickering)

So you made resolutions to stay sober in the New Year, now what?

Like most of us, you made a bunch of lofty resolutions, some of which may seem daunting and unattainable when looked at with the eyes of reality in the cold of January.  Maybe the hangover of the holidays made you realize you need to listen to that inner voice telling you this isn’t how life is supposed to be, and maybe, just maybe you need to get sober.  Perhaps you’re thinking, “How am I ever going to be able to live without drugs and alcohol? How can I learn to be comfortable in my own skin?”

 

Fortunately, the world did not end this past year, instead we have an incredible opportunity to create our own metaphorical “calendar” wherein we can make healthier, saner choices for the years to come.  This isn’t a calendar that includes doomsday prophesies and holidays sponsored by a beer company.  This is a calendar that celebrates caring for ourselves and healing our relationships.  From here on out, we have the chance to make every day a step closer to being the person we are capable of being, potentially making those resolutions become reality.

 

So, how do we go about doing this? I recently tweeted about an article from the Huffington Post that listed some suggestions for spiritual success as a foundation to our resolutions—the suggestions mirror much of what we talk about in our blog and were nice to see out there in the digital ether. I thought some of them were worth reiterating here because these practices and ideologies are key in supporting our recovery and enriching our sober lives. We have to start somewhere, right? This is how we do it!

 

  1. Make the decision to care for yourself and get sober.  You don’t have to live in misery anymore. Recovery isn’t easy, but it’s not has difficult as carrying the shame and guilt associated with our using behavior.
  2. Seal the deal and make it public.  Tell the people who care about you the most. That means people OTHER THAN your using friends.
  3. Find a sober community that supports you: 12-step groups, meditation groups, mental health support, or all of the above!
  4. Practice asking for help: this will save your bum more than you know. It’s amazing when you eventually realize how much easier things are when you don’t have to do them alone!

 

Remember: no more doomsday prophecies be they spiritual, metaphorical, or literal. We can do this recovery thing…one step at a time!

Categories
Anniversary Blogs Holidays Mental Health Recovery

Happy New Year!

New Year – Chinatown
© 2012 saritphotography.com

‘Tis New Year’s Eve and I have to say, 2012 has been amazing. We celebrated 10 years of service, continued our diligent efforts of care and expanded upon our mental health track, got a facelift at our Brentwood facility, and expanded our programs. We are blessed to have a team of people who are imbibed with the love and passion it takes to work in the field of recovery. Visions is a family, pure and simple, and whose primary purpose is to be of service to one another.

Over the past year, we have celebrated many of our team in our Anniversary blogs. However, we are far from done! The anniversary blogs will continue into 2013, so we can honor those whose altruism and sheer kindness form the foundational brick and mortar of the Visions team.

For those of you new to the path of recovery: stay connected. Your sober network provides a wonderful net on which to rest when things get tough or scary. The work of sobriety and mental health is a long process, but one that is well worth the effort. If I could say one thing to you at the end of this year it is this: when things get tough, or frightening, and the shadows of your trauma is looming, turn toward it. Sounds counter intuitive, but when we look directly at that which frightens us, we take its power. Shadows have the capacity to thin and dissipate, and in doing so, they eventually lose their opacity and their power.

It is with great excitement and joy that I wish you all a wonderful, safe, sober, and sane New Year. May the winds of change bring you love and happiness, and most of all healing to whatever path you’re on. Let yourself be loved. You are worth it.

Categories
Addiction Adolescence Alumni Guest Posts Recovery

Alumni Post: What I’ve Learned About Myself in Treatment

submitted by Grayson

I have learned a lot about myself in treatment so far. I have learned that I have a lot of insecurities about myself and that was a large factor in why I was using drugs. I was using so much because I didn’t want to feel anything at all. I didn’t want to think about if people liked me or didn’t want to be around me, so I would use drugs to drown out those thoughts.

I know that a big reason why I feel like I can’t talk to people and have conversations is because I basically forgot how. I was isolated for so long and didn’t have conversations with people for such a long time that I forgot how to and what to talk about with people. But what I’m realizing now that I’ve been sober and in treatment is that it’s really not that hard to talk to people and to meet new people. I have also learned that there is a lot to like about me, which I haven’t thought of in a long time, and it feels good.

I have seen how fun life can be while being sober. I have not thought in a long time that I would go a day without using, but that has changed. I see how drugs have affected me physically. I never really thought that I looked any different because of drugs or while I’m on drugs. But I can now see how much of an effect it had on me physically. Since the day I got here, my face has changed a lot. I see the picture they took of me on my first day, and I look so much healthier now that I’m sober. Also my attitude has changed a lot since I’ve been sober. I think much more highly of myself, my ability to talk to others, my ability to talk in front of groups, and the way I look at myself. I do not plan to ever use drugs again in my life. I have realized that I have such a strong addictive personality, and when I use once I won’t stop.

This place has had a great impact on my life and the way I look at life. I have realized that life can be an awesome experience when sober, much better than when using. I want to continue the way I think about myself and my outlook on life.

 

Categories
Addiction Alcoholism Recovery

Becoming a Stag-A-Holic in Recovery

Image via Wikipedia

Recovery needs to be safe. It needs to be a place where we can shed our layers of fear and self-loathing and learn to be good enough as we are. It needs not to be the predatory place it’s become, where young girls learning to navigate a sober path to recovery end up falling prey to older men acting out their rescue fantasies (or worse). The notion of the 13th step (the unwritten yet prevalent practice of someone with longer sobriety praying on the vulnerability of the newcomer of the opposite sex) is alive and well, making for high levels of emotional risk for those coming in, particularly when one shares something deeply personal from the podium at a mixed meeting.

When I got sober, I was a 21-year-old maniac. The concept of boundaries were foreign to me, and I was often known to place myself in unsafe situations—an unfortunate by-product of my previously self-depleting, self-deprecating life prior to recovery. But I got lucky. I had an Eskimo, who acted as my big brother, scooping me up under his wing and holding the predators at bay. I wasn’t protected forever, though. I still managed to get myself into incredible trouble, acting out left and right, because I hadn’t yet learned how to use to the tools of recovery. I hadn’t learned how to create and maintain boundaries. I hadn’t learned that emotional and physical safety was necessary for me to heal and get sober. It didn’t take long for me to discovery that these were the things that I needed to learn from the women in the rooms. Big brother or not, some things just don’t go over well.

It takes time to learn the value of sharing in a general way. New, we’re raw and often unedited. Add adolescence to the mix, and being unedited is par for the course especially with the innate desire to fit in, the need to individuate, and the added weight of navigating a path in recovery. Yes, there are a bevy of young people’s meetings, where the majority of the attendees are more relatable. What seems to be missing, however, is a wide variety of young people’s stag meetings. It’s too bad, because those are the meetings where you can share more candidly and without invariably placing yourself at risk.

So, what does one do when your world is crumbling and you need to drop down to your emotional bare bones? You can start by sharing the deeply personal, vulnerable, emotionally dangerous shares for those who have your best interests in mind: your sponsor, your therapist, or a friend close to you that has a solid foundation in recovery. Lean into the gendered sails of those who’ve walked the path before you. Trust me on this: getting sober is the easy part. It’s staying sober and safe that takes work. That’s what stags are there for.

Categories
Addiction Alcohol Alcoholism Holidays Mental Health Recovery

New Beginnings

Image via Wikipedia

It’s Passover, and you know what that means? It’s that time of year where it’s customary to drink four glasses of wine through dinner as part of the Passover story! It means giant family gatherings, with the myriad of wacky personalities. It also may mean some anxiety for the newcomer (or even someone with time, you never know!) For some, it’s this Passover week, for others, it might be the upcoming Easter Sunday. Either way, self-care is key. Ask for help if you need it, and have an exit plan–better to have one and not need it than to need it and not have it!

This particular holiday reminds me of my early introduction to alcohol. My family didn’t drink that often; holidays were the exception. Still, I have distinct memories of sitting at the family Passover table, with my thimble full of Manischewitz wine, thinking I was the coolest kid in the world. I remember the warmth in my belly, and the slight fuzz in my head (I would get sneaky and steal sips from other folk’s glasses). I remember thinking I was a part of the adult world, and a real part of my family. It was a childhood delusion, of course, but the memory stuck.

Wine has deep roots in some religions, for example, in Christianity it represents the blood of Christ, and in Judaism, the fruit of the vine. It’s an accepted, expected, ritualistic piece of the religious meal. But as we get sober and learn to participate in the rituals of our varying cultures, we must learn to make adjustments. No one wants to see you drunkenly opening the door for Elijah! We drink grape juice instead of wine, and we learn to adapt the rituals and meals to our sober, clean lives.

Passover is about freedom from slavery and tyranny; and like Easter, it’s reflective of Spring and new beginnings. What apropos likeness to our recovery! Here, we are offered an opportunity to begin to view our sobriety as freedom from the tyranny of drugs and alcohol. Our recovery is our new beginning and our new life. Remember what Chuck C. said: “You cannot think your way into a new way of acting, but you can act your way into a new way of thinking.” Have a safe, sober, and joyous holiday week.