ungrateful little jerk

Certain recovery dogma greatly emphasizes gratefulness. I recently came across a fellow addict in very early recovery complaining online about “not wanting to write an effing grateful list everyday, OKAY”. He was basically saying, my life sucks right now and I don’t effing feel grateful for it.

I totally got where he was coming from

Obviously gratefulness can be an important skill, recognizing what you have, what you have going for you, and how much worse it could be.

It can always be so, so much worse.

Gratefulness is an oft used tool to help people change their perspectives and keep them going.

I have issues with this, especially when it comes to recovery.

Honestly, this isn’t a thing that’s ever worked for me personally. When I am feeling strong negative emotions, listing what I’m grateful for doesn’t counteract them and often just feels false and frustrating to me. I’m not saying that it doesn’t work for anyone. I am saying we shouldn’t have the expectation of it working for everyone.

My second issue is with anyone asserting that everyone need focus on this. Maybe we should mostly be shutting up, listening, and letting the individual figure out what they need. Again for me personally, if I happen to be verbally expressing some negative emotion such as anger, sadness, or anxiety suggesting I think about those things I’m grateful for is going to feel extremely minimizing of the experience I’m trying to share.

I think about things I’m grateful for when I’m happy, often in the moment I’m experiencing it. My child’s existence when I am snuggling or laughing with them. The feel of the sunshine on my face while outside. The soft warm blankets I have to snuggle with. I am also filled with gratefulness when I am faced with absence…a few moments exploring what life is like in a third world country will leave me grateful for all I have and well aware of how superflous most of it is. My son has great disability but is physically healthy, something I learned to praise God for while I watched a friend grapple with her sons compromised immune system and the many threats to his life in what the rest of us know as “flu season”. I have another friend cope with the loss of her husband, and uet another the loss of her child. Holy hell.

Of course, my issue isn’t with gratefulness itself. The problem is when someone expects me(or others) to stifle the expression of negative emotions. Negative emotions are okay and expressing them is sure as hell okay. Sometimes life sucks, sometimes things piss us off. Being mad as hell or even feeling momentarily sorry for myself sometimes doesn’t negate my recognition of all I have. It also isn’t a weakness. Furthermore, learning how to feel and express what is uncomfortable is especially important for people in recovery-it’s definitely a skill set we’re lacking. We are a people that use substances to change-to have control over-the way we feel. I have heard so many people comment that “learning to feel” or “feel again” is the hardest part of recovery. Adjusting to these feelings, living with them and/or figuring out how to move through them is of upmost importance.

Let’s all focus on what is helpful to us and not insist it must be the same across the board.

Assumption

I am well aware that you think

you know

all about me

You are not aware at all

that you greatly underestimate me

You have added up the sums of

what I freely share with honesty

that I am very open about my vulnerability

I imagine your eyes glinting as you adjusted your sights for me

There is no rule that I have to announce

that I see you coming from a mile away

I am well protected

and so much smarter than you

There’s joy to be found

in watching someone finally figure me out

When they thought they were playing me

taking advantage of me

and then they come up empty

because no one takes from me

 

Cheers to you

I came across this that I wrote several months ago while I was still struggling to quit drinking. It’s about how my relationship with my children changed during the course of my relationship with alcohol. I saw them trying to shelter me and taking care of more while I took care of less. I was completely checked out whether I was physically there or not. I lost touch with who I am as a person ethically,  and even if some of it was minor, it was still different from who I am and who I taught them to be.

I am glad I am sober.

 

I used to take care of them

Now they take care of me

Anytime I don’t have a drink

all I want to do is sleep

I’ve made myself a slave

I am owned by this disease

and now I’m making them responsible

to be a slave to me

Anytime I have for them

is taken away by wine

black depression

and a need to close my eyes

My time with them is fleeting

I’m undoing all

I spent years teaching

When I’m under the influence

I curse and I’m crude

I say and do so many things I would never otherwise do

Things I taught them never to do

Thank you, drink. Cheers to you.

 

Unique

How am I unique?

I believe that I have a separate spirit, soul, and body from any other human being on this planet. Nobody else is exactly like me.

I have original thought.

How am I just like everyone else?

I am just like everyone else in every way imaginable, I would guess.

I think any of us would be hard-pressed to find a human being alive that we don’t have something in common with.

Millennial-ism

What does the term “millennial” mean to you?

Born in 1980, I do not fully identify with being a Gen-Xer or a Millennial. I really enjoy the Xennial label as it well describes the feeling of having a foot in both worlds but not fully embracing either. I have to admit, though, that early on I rejected the “Millennial” label because of how hard older generations were coming down on this age group for being entitled and lazy. (One of the most abhorrent things you can accuse me of is being lazy. I don’t know why I am wired this way, but I have an excellent work ethic and you damn well better know it. I have to admit I think that label is unfair now. I feel like Millennials were still young when all this judgment started, and honestly, a lot of us when very young are not working our hardest or having our best attitudes when starting out. Now that we are growing up, I do not find us any less hardworking than anybody in any other age group. Furthermore, and this might be where some people judge unfairly, I absolutely love the Millennial devotion to work/life balance. Y’all. I strongly believe that life is work. It really is. We spend a great deal of time doing whatever it is we do to earn money. We have kids to raise. We have housework and yard work. We have the work of keeping ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually fit. When we shirk any of these, we suffer one way or another. We sell ourselves short and make ourselves miserable when we don’t realize this truth and try to create lives based around mostly seeking pleasure. However, I am definitely going to show my millennial spirit when I say that I don’t, and barring great need, won’t live to work. I work to live. Yes, I work hard at all the work I do, but the thing is, if I also don’t have time to put into my family, into small pleasures and outside things I enjoy, what is even the point? If a job begins to rob me of that, or if a job becomes miserable in some shape or form and especially if that misery starts to affect the rest of my life, absolutely, I will do what it takes to regain balance.

All of this being said, and beyond work ethic to the many other characteristics of the generations, we have to be careful as always how we label people in our minds due to stereotypes. It’s interesting to consider the similarities but as with all generalities, it’s not ironclad to the individual. When I glance through my favorite chart on generational differences, I identify with many of the attitudes across the generations and blink in confusion at some that come with my own. At the end of the day, we are all better off for using tools like this to try to better understand people but we should always approach new people with empathy for where they are coming from and an open mind so that we can truly get to know them and enjoy for who they are.

RDP: Empathy

drunken words

I deeply regret that I started these relationships off on such a hateful note. I have never held any ill will towards them. They were never even the point. I came across them accidentally while trying to find information out about him. I honestly didn’t even know how many of them there actually were until the night I finally made contact. I had long been aware that there were 2 or 3. There are actually 5 of them altogether.  I might have been a little curious about them, but they were not the ones I needed validation from. They were not the ones I struggled to understand. Their absence did not leave a painful gaping hole I grappled with throughout my childhood.

Now I wonder if they will ever be able to overcome that initial impression of me, drunken, angrily spewing words about how their dead father was sure as hell not a hero.

RDP: Overcome

Ageism

When’s the last time I felt like I was getting old?

I have never really felt this way. I’m turning 40 at the end of this month, and all I can say is the first time in my life I have ever felt near my age mentality-wise…but I don’t think 40 is old. I guess I think it is…slightly mature?

Aging is interesting. All throughout our childhood, as we grow emotionally and physically there are pronounced differences between stages. We reach our twenties and our bodies stop changing as much but keep getting older, while the rest of us matures at a much slower rate. I think this is why I spent much of my twenties and maybe even early thirties “feeling” like I was 23.

I don’t know that this is the same for everyone, though. I had a close friend tell me once that she was thrilled to turn 30 because she felt like her age finally matched the maturity and wisdom she had inside. She felt like 30 made her legit across the board.

Regardless, I think I’m one of those people who aren’t going to easily fold to old(er) age. I’m young at heart, I like to stay active, and I like to try new things. I have lived through several stages of life and am looking forward to the next one. I have almost raised my children and as my nest empties, I’m looking beyond to what I can do with the next couple decades of my life. I have had the immense privilege of spending most of my children’s childhood at home. I deeply enjoyed this and feel like I did my job well, but I’m also excited to see them move on and move on myself. I want to get out there and maybe make some money, intellectually and physically challenge myself, and serve people with more of my heart than I’ve had availability to do so before now.

RDP: Pronounced