I want to live my life for real. I used to want to feel all and think all at all times. I have realized that there’s a no-stop in me that takes me too-far. To handle too-farness, I began to drink wine each night. Without wine, too-farness still happens. I’ve learned that what I want – all – I can’t have. I can’t be completely open to all and stay abstinent and mentally healthy.
I find abstinence primarily hell. But. With 21 months of seemingly infinite effort on my part and on the part of people who want me to stay sober and sane, something is starting to help me when too-farness happens.
Awareness helps. But it’s not enough. I need to be able to do something with that awareness. For example, how about me becoming aware I have homicidal thoughts or just want to do some damage with a 2′ x 4′ and my mighty little gym-trained biceps? A girl’s gotta have a process – something to do – before she gets into this awareness thing.
If I could just pry apart a gap between that too-far feeling and what I used to do, i.e. pick up glass after glass of wine instead of the 2′ x 4′, I’d have a chance to do something different.
A process is beginning to form.
I have started to become aware of when I am starting to feel a lot. Maybe the a lot that leads to too-far.
I am learning to quick, quick, slip that awareness – like a wooden shim under the foot of a too-far-forward-about-to-fall bookcase – in between what I’m feeling and what I used to do.
When I become aware, I pause.
Into the gap made by the pause, I wedge a new process.
Feel > Act > Then think, “What was I thinking?!”
Feel > Pause > Think > Act
Within the space and time and balance offered by that shim of awareness, I think, “What am I feeling? What is the origin of this feeling? Is it helping me? Is it good for me?”
While I’m asking those questions, I calm and comfort myself. I reassure myself and think, “You have reasons for what you think. It’s okay to think what you’re thinking. Let’s take a look. Okay, yes, it makes sense you’re thinking that. It’s okay.”
While I was driving to have dinner with women friends a few days ago, I was listening to NPR about a man who volunteered to collect and cremate bodies of people who had died in Liberia from Ebola.
I started to feel. I felt the hint of too-farness. I quick, quick, stuck in the shim of awareness. I started the process. This is what I remember feeling and thinking:
- On the way here, I passed the corner I used to drive up to the house where I lived with my former husband. I miss us. I feel sad.
- I used to live with him and my cat and his cat. Both of those cats had to be put down. I miss my cat. I miss his cat. I feel so sad.
- I know I have a push-pull relationship with attachment. Ah, hearing of the man witnessing losses in other lives is bringing up my own losses and my longing to be attached. It makes sense and it’s okay. I’ve done the best I can. I’m okay.
- This man has to be traumatized from his experience. I should help him. How can I help him?
- Ah, there I am feeling responsible for others again. It’s okay. He is responsible for himself and he is responsible for asking for the help he needs. As Dr. H. says, I’m not responsible for un-upsetting him. I’m responsible for un-upsetting me. His inner wisdom will guide him. If in the unlikely chance he asks me for help, I can decide whether or not I can – or am available to – help. I know from my own experience that there are lots of people available to help people with problems and I am not The Only One Who Must Help. So, I feel compassion for myself and for him and all who help others and turn my thinking back to being helpful to myself.
- People in recovery are encouraged to think hard about the news. It can feel like added hardship over which we have no control. We’re allowed to choose whether or not we let in news. It would be okay for me to turn this off, to not listen to it.
- Why am I not turning this off? Why am I listening? This probably isn’t good for me…
- It’s okay that I am uncertain about the answer to that question. It’s okay that I don’t know.
- And there it is, involuntarily: I want a drink.
- It’s okay. I’m not going to choose that. I’m just about there. I’ll meet with women who understand. I can tell them I’m getting upset and they’ll be okay with it and they won’t upset me further by judging me or giving me advice. They’ll accept me and just be with me while I handle these current feelings and thoughts and make progress with the process of growing in my ability to manage no-stopness.
- I feel kindness towards myself. I see how hard I try and how goodness is what I most want.
A lot of approaches to addiction recovery exhort self-exhortation. I’ve done self-exhortation for 55 years and I’m not a fan. It hurts. A girl could drink over it.
Kindness feels better.
I have heard often over the years that my exhaustive style of probing is exhausting. I get it. From that effort, though, I am deriving a way to not drink and maybe even to have a little peace, a little happiness, a little joy in my life. Towards my exhaustive and exhausting effort, I feel kindness.