Dry Drunk Syndrome

Yesterday I was honored to guest-blog over at www.inrecoveryblog.com. Please go check out my post about Dry Drunk Syndrome.

Also check out the rest of the website.  I particularly liked his post titled Romancing the Stone.

Coupon for the new book!

To celebrate the book publishing I’ve created a 50% off coupon! Good through Jan 16th, enter code HU36A to get the ebook for $1.50.  The book is available at:

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/106569

Repost/retweet to anyone you anyone you feel might benefit from this.  Thanks! 🙂

Recovery Music: Forty Six & 2

I just heard this song again today and thought I’d share because it helped me through the hardest part of my recovery process – the beginning. The song is called Forty Six & Two, by a band named Tool.  I’d been a fan of the band for a few years, but when I entered recovery this song took on a whole new meaning.

The song title refers to the fact that humans have forty six chromosomes (23 pairs). Some people believe humans will someday mutate, gain another two chromosomes, and we’ll evolve into another life form.  That part of the song I take with a grain of salt – artistic license and all that.  Other lyrics of the song (and throughout the entire album) refer to Carl Jung’s psychological theories, specifically the way he broke down each person into having the following sections of their psychological makeup: the Self, the Ego, the Shadow, the Anima/Animus, and the Persona.

Jung believed each of the sections have qualities that could be good or bad depending on how they come out in our lives.  He believed a major goal of every individual should be to understand these different parts of himself or herself in order to consciously put them to good use. He felt that if we fail to do this consciously we run the risk of allowing those qualities to come out at the wrong time, in ways that would hurt us or others.

Looking back I could see similarities to exactly that in my life. This song helped me deal with the struggle of facing, understanding, and integrating those parts of myself.  Aside from having great lyrics, the song breaks into a harsh cadence that feels absolutely cathartic. It really mirrors the feeling of fighting … fighting myself, fighting to break through to the other side … especially the ending of the song.

I’ve copied the lyrics below the video. If you have a song that helped you through recovery, please leave a note about it in the comments section! 🙂

Tool – Forty Six & Two

(Whispered)
Join in my
Join in my child and listen
Digging through
My old numb Shadow

My shadow’s
Shedding skin
and I’ve been picking
Scabs again
I’m down
Digging through
My old muscles
Looking for a clue

I’ve been crawling on my belly
Clearing out what could’ve been
I’ve been wallowing in my own confused
And insecure delusions
For a piece to cross me over
Or a word to guide me in
I wanna feel the changes coming down
I wanna know what I’ve been hiding in

My shadow … my shadow
Change is coming through my shadow
My shadow’s shedding skin
I’ve been picking
My scabs again

(Whispered)
Join in my
Join in my child
My shadow moves
Closer to meaning

I’ve been crawling on my belly
Clearing out what could’ve been
I’ve been wallowing in my own chaotic
And insecure delusions

I wanna feel the change consume me
Feel the outside turning in
I wanna feel the metamorphosis and
Cleansing I’ve endured within

My shadow … my shadow
Change is coming
Now is my time

Listen to my muscle memory
Contemplate what I’ve been clinging to
Forty-six and two ahead of me

I choose to live, and to grow
Take, and give, and to move
Learn, and love, and to cry
Kill, and die, and to be
Paranoid, and to lie
Hate, and fear, and to DO
What it takes to move through

I choose to live, and to lie
Kill, and give, and to die
Learn, and love, and to DO
What it takes to step through

See my shadow changing
Stretching up and over me
Soften this old armor
Hoping I can clear the way
By stepping through my shadow
Coming out the other side
Step into the shadow
Forty six and two are just ahead of me

The book is published!

The book is on Smashwords now, and the first 20% of the book is freely viewable here:

A Guide To The Recovery Toolbox

From my research it appears the average book is lucky to sell even 500 copies, but at $2.99 a copy (only about half of which I’ll get) I’ll need to sell about 1,000 to be able to roll the profits into publishing it as a paperback. I’m really hoping that can happen. For some reason my gut is telling me the book would help more people in paperback, but maybe it’s just some preconceived notion I have.  I hope the electronic version helps a lot of people too.

Even so, I have to admit to being excited – my first book is published! I’ll be celebrating tonight by ordering pizza and watching some TV. Pretty wild, huh?

The Five Stages of Grief

During my first year of counseling my counselor told me about the five stages of grief. We all go through these stages whenever we face a change in our lives. Sometimes we go through them in the order listed; sometimes we zigzag back and forth, gradually working our way towards acceptance:

1. Shock/Denial
2. Anger
3. Depression
4. Bargaining
5. Acceptance

My counselor wrote them down for me and to this day I still have that piece of paper taped to my mirror. Looking at this list helps me understand where I am in the process of dealing with changes in my life. It helps me understand where other people are too. It was particularly useful in helping me learn to stand my ground when telling people bad news – saying no to working overtime or to covering a shift for someone else, choosing to go home and go to bed instead of going to see the person I’m dating, telling my roommate that I was moving out – these are all things this list helped me do. Eventually I didn’t even need to look at the list. I knew if I stuck to my guns the other party would work through whatever they needed to work through and accept my decision.

Another way this list is helpful is to view it as a tool. I have a friend whose brother committed suicide. When she becomes depressed about other things in her life she returns to thinking of her brother, and that depresses her further. A few days ago she said she was afraid this reoccurring depression meant she was broken… that she would never be the same.

She’s not broken. There is nothing to fix. Any time we face an unexpected change in life we’re put into Stage 1 (Shock/Denial) and we work through the stages till we find Acceptance of whatever the new change is. As we do this our brains remember other times we’ve gone through the stages. Not being able to differentiate this time through from other times is one of the things that can cause an addict to stress themselves out to the point of reverting to old comforts.

But we’re not on an infinite loop. It’s the same process, but not the same situation. Each time I write the word “think” I’m not referring to the same thought. I use the same hammer for every nail I put in. That doesn’t bother me. There’s nothing broken in us for using the same tool to get us through multiple changes in life, nor for remembering our past – and it doesn’t mean that this time is the same as (or as bad as) other times we had to use the tool.

Feelings Are Facts – Situations Are Not

Earlier this week I was involved in an exchange on Twitter with B2S2BgBkStpStdy, (I’m RecoveryToolBox):

B2S2BgBkStpStdy Feelings aren’t facts

RecoveryToolBox @B2S2BgBkStpStdy Feelings ARE a fact, addressing them is healthy. Minimizing myself/others is one of the triggers. Please clarify if you can

B2S2BgBkStpStdy @RecoveryToolBox how I feel is up 2me. I have a choice. Often we allow feelings2put us as hero/victim w/o whole story&thats not fact but ego

RecoveryToolBox @B2S2BgBkStpStdy I think we’re mixing up 2 separate things, too complex to explain in 140 letters. I’ll blog it & tweet a link instead 🙂

Here’s what I’m thinking. I don’t feel it’s accurate to say that my feelings aren’t a fact. My feelings *are* a fact. They are concrete. They are tied directly to my view of a situation. What’s not always a fact is my understanding of the situation. Sometimes it’s my view of the situation that’s limited. Sometimes I catch that right away, other times I have to share at a meeting to get feedback to point me in the right direction.

During my examination I may uncover additional facts, or get additional insight about how I’m looking at the situation (my attitude). This may lead me to change how I look at the situation – and that in turn, changes how I feel.

The fact that I have feelings still exists. I’ve not denied them, rather I’ve sought to expand my understanding of the situation that led to the feelings. It’s by taking my feelings as factual and addressing them in a healthy manner that leads me to the truth.

Emotions give me clues about what I need to pay attention to, almost like a road map. To me, denying my feelings as facts is like telling myself a road doesn’t exist. Without them where would I know where to look?

So I guess what I’m saying is that I feel B2S2BgBkStpStdy is confusing the cause and the effect here. The effects are real. The cause can be changed.

EDIT: I think I found the culprit. B2S2BgBkStpStdy said, “Often we allow feelings2put us as hero/victim” … that’s where my disagreement falls (regarding cause and effect). I don’t believe my feeling causes the misunderstanding. I feel it’s the opposite: my (mis-)understanding the situation causes feelings. When I correct my understanding of the situation my feelings adjust themselves accordingly. Either way I have to respect my feelings as the signposts they are – because sometimes my interpretation of a situation is right.

That’s what meetings are for – they’re a place I can share and get honest feedback about my interpretation of a situation. Friends and relatives might sugar-coat things and enable me to continue feeling justified. My friends in my group are more concerned with truly helping me long-term than they are with helping me feel good in the short-term.

Take What You Like, Leave the Rest

It’s a challenge to face life and look at the choices I’ve made – and more importantly, the choices I’m continuing to make. Looking at my past I may feel guilt or regret, but the saving grace is that those things are in the past – they can’t be changed. But the choices I make today and tomorrow … those can be changed, if I have the courage. Not everyone has the courage. Some people find one or two things about the tools or twelve-step programs that they disagree with and use them as reasons to turn their back on changing at all. You don’t have to do this.

If I start a new career I don’t expect to know how to use every tool in that field within the first week in the career. Some tools don’t make sense the first time you look at them; some might seem to be completely backwards. It can take years to become an expert. But that’s okay. Start out slow, use the ones you can, leave the rest. Come back and look at it again in six months and you may find another one makes sense now. As you keep coming back, you’ll find more and more things click. In the mean time don’t let that stop you from taking advantage of the tools you can use.

I came to my first twelve-step meeting because I wanted to change, but expecting to change 100% (or even 50% or 20%) overnight is unrealistic. The difference between life and death can be as small as a 1% change. I started with the 1% I could use and let the rest lay there until I found a use for them. I kept going to the meetings so I could continue to learn about the other tools – how they’re used, and when. Eventually I found other tools I could put to use, and I learned additional ways of applying the ones I already knew about.