ATLA

Yabbering

Zuko_and_Toph

Toph: And then when I was nine, I ran away again. I know I shouldn’t complain, my parents gave me everything that I ever asked for. But they never gave me the one thing that I really wanted. Their love. You know what I mean?

I have a tendency to overshare. It was the most pronounced when I drank. Through the haze of alcohol drinking buddies and even acquaintances became “soul mates”. We were “destined to meet” and obviously had “a real connection” because after a few drinks we were pouring our hearts (and our personal business) out.

I am an empathetic listener and love psychoanalyzing people, so I have a way of getting people to open up to me. Of course, I always opened up about myself too. To an alarming degree at times. Then, the next time Sober Me (with a less than perfect memory of what we talked about) met the recipient of my confessions, I would be embarrassed and worried about how much I’d revealed. My new “friend” would be baffled by what appeared to be an about face on my part. I, on the other hand, would pretty much be ready to bolt.

I know why I did it. I told my personal stories to anyone who would listen, just because I needed approval and love so badly. I needed self-acceptance so much that I wanted someone who heard my stories to tell me that I was still a good person, not broken, or if I was indeed broken, say that I was made the more beautiful for it.

I keep the telling of my personal stories in check now, revealing them to only trusted friends. The reason why I share anything now has also changed. It’s no longer because I desperately seek approval or proof of worth, and is instead to offer understanding and compassion.

“Our stories are not meant for everyone. Hearing them is a privilege, and we should always ask ourselves this before we share: “Who has earned the right to hear my story?” If we have one or two people in our lives who can sit with us and hold space for our shame stories, and love us for our strengths and struggles, we are incredibly lucky. If we have a friend, or small group of friends, or family who embraces our imperfections, vulnerabilities, and power, and fills us with a sense of belonging, we are incredibly lucky.” ~ Brene Brown

~*~

This is Post X, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.

X = Sobriety

pai_sho

Jet: I’ve done some things in my past that I’m not proud of. But that’s why I’m going to Ba Sing Se, for a new beginning. A second chance.
Iroh: That’s very noble of you. I believe people can change their lives if they want to. I believe in second chances.

In primary school, we were given mathematical equations and taught how to solve for “x”.  We were taught how to look at a problem from all angles: algebraically, graphically and by using the concept of equivalence. We learned how to add, take-away, multiply and divide, and determine the variables (or unknowns) to find the solution. If we were impatient, tried too hard, or allowed the perceived complexity of the problem to overwhelm us, the solution was always frustratingly out of reach. But once we calmed down, realized that the math equation was not out to get us and followed simple rules, what was once puzzling was made clear.

Flash forward 30 years and I’m driving around the largest roundabout in the world, on my way to meet the girls, and having an epiphany. I finally realized what “x” is in my life. For me, x = sobriety. Now I am not saying that sobriety is the answer to all of my problems and that I have it all figured out. It isn’t and I don’t. But I cannot ignore how many different aspects of my life have improved since I had my last drink more than a year ago.

As 2014 began I was frustrated with my life and had little hope. I was sick and tired of making the same mistakes and I could not figure out why I could not get my life together. I was unhappy in my professional life, and felt stuck in a rut after working for the same firm for 15 years, yet at the same without hope that I could be of value anywhere else. I was angry with myself for drinking as often as I did and the way that I did. I was ashamed of it and unknowingly withdrew from or sabotaged relationships that were important to me. My self worth was at an all time low.

It was not all bad of course. There were moments of fun and happiness, and there were times that I did make an effort to change aspects of my life. I resigned from my job, but without having a new one waiting for me I ended up staying exactly where I was.  I was never getting enough sleep (sleeping off a hangover is not the same as a good night’s rest), smoking a half a pack a day (a pack if I was out drinking), not taking care of my body, and totally ignoring my creative side. I could not imagine what my future looked like. I just honestly could not picture it. And for the life of me, I could not figure out why I was where I was. I could not reason my way out of the puzzle I was in. At the time, I looked at giving up alcohol as just that. Giving it up. I would have the same life minus the booze. I had no idea that giving it up and thereby choosing to have a better life, that one factor, would be the common denominator in all the improvements to come.

Now, so many things have fallen into place. I feel like I have a second chance, at everything. Life did not magically improve of course, I put in the work that was required and I still do. But when I take stock and look back on the last 15 months and at all the variables, there is no denying that for me, x = sobriety.

There is a clarity of thought that I did not have before, the upside of which is focus which in turn manifested itself as determination and will. I now believe that I can accomplish whatever I put my mind to or at least learn from simply striving for a new goal. Then there is the power of attraction. I do believe that like attracts like, and my more positive attitude and confidence has attracted a lot of positivity and stability into my life. No longer am I wasting my days and energy being hung over, regretting a night of drinking, or berating myself for having no direction in life. My days and energy are spent on more positive and rewarding endeavours.

I have been appreciating my relationships more than ever before, cultivating stronger relationships with old friends because I now know my worth and can be a better friend. I have also made new friends with common interests, other than alcohol, who inspire and motivate me on so many levels.

I have more love for myself and with it automatically comes self-confidence, care and self respect. I am gentler with myself by dealing with difficult emotions in healthier ways instead of judging myself for having them in the first place. I’ve found a renewal of faith that life is good, and that sincere effort is rewarded. I have hope again, for myself and for my future.

From my second chance to yours: love and light,
Phoenix

~*~

This is Post X, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.

Trauma

Korra Katara Healing 2

Katara: I can help guide your healing process, but whether you get better or not is up to you. I know what it’s like to go through a traumatic experience. And I promise you, if you dedicate yourself to getting better, you’ll recover, stronger than ever. The mind can be a powerful ally, or your greatest enemy.

Korra: I am trying to understand why this happened to me, but nothing makes any sense! I’m tired, Katara. I’m so tired.

Katara: Korra, I know you feel alone right now. But you’re not the first Avatar who’s had to overcome great suffering. Can you imagine how much pain Aang felt when he learned that his entire culture was taken from him? But he never let it destroy his spirit. He chose to find meaning in his suffering and eventually … found peace.

Korra: And … what am I going to find if I get through this?

Katara: I don’t know. But won’t it be interesting to find out?

Very upsetting, frightening, or traumatic events that happen to us, or that threatened or hurt someone we love are very powerful incidents that affect daily life. They are usually defined as experiences which are life threatening, or where there is a significant threat to one’s physical or psychological wellbeing. For example: physical, emotional, or sexual abuse; neglect; war experiences; outbursts of temper and rage; alcoholism (your own or in your family); physical illnesses, surgeries, and disabilities in your family; loss of close family members and friends; natural disasters; accidents.

When these kinds of things happen, we may not “get over” them quickly. In fact, we may feel the effects of these traumas for many years, even for the rest of our lives. Traumatic events result in frightening, distressing, and sometimes disabling emotional symptoms such as phobias, anxiety, depression, delusions, flashbacks, and dis-associative behaviour. Sometimes we don’t even notice effects right after the trauma happens. Years later we may begin having bothersome thoughts, nightmares, and other disturbing symptoms. We may develop these symptoms and not even remember the traumatic thing or things that once happened to us.

Some things that may be very distressing to one person hardly seem to bother another person. If something bothers you a lot and it doesn’t bother someone else, it doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you. People respond to trauma differently. The impact of an event may be related to the person’s mental and physical health, level of available support at the time of the event, and past experience and coping skills. As much as possible try not to trivialize your feelings about what happened to you, because you think others have or had it worse than you. Every experience you have is personal to you and how you feel about it matters.

As likely as it is that traumatic events can have debilitating repercussions, it is also as likely, that we make a conscious choice to ignore what happened. I know for me, I told myself that it did not happen. Just matter of factly, and very firmly, told myself that it did not happen. Unfortunately, in denying myself the opportunity to deal with the event, my emotions sought an outlet. And in the end it was not a healthy one. I turned all the anger, pain and confusion over what happened me, inward. Because I was ashamed and told myself that I was to blame, I was not very kind to my self, my mind or my body in a myriad of ways: binge drinking, obsessive compulsive behaviour, smoking, disrespecting my body, having unhealthy relationships, etc. The list is long. I’m sure you can imagine.

The year before I quit drinking, I started thinking and talking about what happened, but only when I was pretty intoxicated. Seemed like the story was trying to get out and be dealt with. Perhaps my authentic self had had enough. For whatever reason, when I finally quit drinking and started actively dealing with all the things I believed were at the root of the reason for my addictive personality, I had to come to terms with what happened. I did. I still am. It was a big step learning to accept what happened. The second step: not thinking that it was my fault was a lot harder, but the more love and understanding I showed myself, the easier it was to let go of self-blame. The third step: Learning and growing from the entire experience, is a work in progress. It will take some time but I know I will get there.

“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” C.S. Lewis

Love and light,
Phoenix

~*~

In coming terms with a traumatic event, Mary Ellen Copeland, Ph.D recommends that we begin with the following:

  1. When you are traumatized, you lose control of your life. You may feel like you still don’t have any control over your life. You have to take back that control by being in charge of every aspect of your life. Others, including your spouse, family members, friends and health care professionals will try to tell you what to do. Before you do it, think about it carefully. Do you feel that it is the best thing for you to do right now? If not, you should not do it. It is important that you make decisions about your own life.
  2. Talk to one or more people about what happened to you. Make sure it is a person or people who understand that what happened to you is serious and that describing it over and over again to another person is part of the healing process. It should not be a person who says something like: “That wasn’t so bad;” “You should just forget about it;” “Forgive and forget;” or “You think that’s bad, let me tell you what happened to me.” You will know when you have described it enough, because you won’t feel like doing it anymore. Writing about it in your journal also helps a lot.
  3. You may not feel close to anyone. You may feel like there is no one you can trust. Begin now to develop close relationships with another person. Think about the person in your life that you like best. Invite them to do something fun with you. If that feels good, make a plan to do something else together at another time, maybe the following week. Keep doing this until you feel close to this person. Then, without giving up on that person, start developing a closer relationship with another person. Keep doing this until you have close relationships with at least five people. Support groups and peer support centers are good places to meet people.
  4. If you possibly can, work with a counselor or join a group for people who have been traumatized.

If you are having difficulty dealing with a traumatic experience this website offers tips on managing psychological trauma and can point you in the right direction: https://www.psychology.org.au/publications/tip_sheets/trauma/

~*~

This is Post T, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is in an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.

Questions of the Year: The Daddy Project

Iroh Zuko Lake Laogai

Iroh: “It’s time for you to look inward and begin asking yourself the big questions. Who are you? And what do you want?

Last month I signed up for a Closeness, Distance and Intimacy in Relationships workshop. I attend developmental workshops from time to time as I am always interested in the psychology behind human behaviour. Our introductory session taught us that intimacy requires mutual self awareness, openness to self re-evaluation and trust. I know I have issues with trust and self worth and I am aware that children who are not shown enough love or support to establish a strong sense of self, develop antagonistic and defensive personalities. As adults, they can sometimes still have difficulty believing in their worth and well, we all know where that can lead: Self doubt = low self esteem = little self respect = self abuse = addictive behaviour. In terms of relationships, we have difficulties with openness and trust.

After our introductory session we were advised to select a current relationship we would like to improve upon. They say that a girl’s relationship with her father affects the quality of her future romantic relationships. Sounds about right, so I decided that my focus for the workshop was going to be Dad and me. We were given standard questions, which are applicable to all relationships, and were encouraged to answer honestly, no matter how painful. I’ve listed them below and if there is a relationship you would like to work on, I encourage you to answer them too.

What am I going to change?
My relationship with my father.

How would I like this relationship to be?
Loving, supportive and open with reassurances of love and affection. I want us to enjoy each other’s company and have freedom of discussion without judgment. I’d like there to be acceptance and guidance from both sides and I want us to feel proud of each other. I want us to forgive each other and appreciate what each can bring to the relationship.

Knowing that I cannot change another person, what can I do to make our relationship this way?
Reach out more. Be more patient, open to understanding and accepting of him. I know he did not have a warm, nurturing or reassuring childhood and it is difficult for him to show affection  the way I believe I need him to.

What blocks are there to prevent me from making these changes?
Fear of rejection.
Fear of judgment.
Fear of effort without reward or appreciation.

What do I usually do when I encounter these blocks?
I find ways to explain away the situation: “It’s not really a bad relationship.” “It’s not his fault for being distant and uncompromising.” “I can’t change him anyway.”
I make excuses: “I’m too busy to call or visit.” “It’s not the right time to talk about such things.”
I do nothing. I block it all out and dismiss my need to have a better relationship with him.

What usually happens then?
The problem never really goes away. I am still left wanting even when I pretend it does not matter. Then I feel disappointed in myself for not trying and ashamed for being short with him. I judge myself harshly for not working to improve our relationship and then the hurt starts all over again.

What do I need to do to get past these blocks?
Tell myself that I love myself enough.
Tell myself that I will be okay if I don’t end up with the relationship that I want.
Be patient. This is very hard for me but I will appreciate every baby step and learn from each set back.
I need to understand that I need this sort of relationship with him. This will be my motivation.
Understand that this change will take courage and persistence.
Understand that I have a lot to offer too, as a daughter, friend and loved one.

Who am I currently in this relationship? (I must have a good sense of self to know the place I am starting from)
A distant daughter. I don’t make an effort either.
A judgmental daughter. I am ashamed of him at times.
I have talked about him as being without hope when in fact I might be the one without hope for him.
I blame him for the break up of his marriage to my mother.
I am jealous at times of his relationships with his step-daughters and with my nephew.
I am not as compassionate or as kind as I should be.
Generous as I am with others, I am far less generous and forgiving with him.

In any close relationship, differences will emerge: views, perspectives, the way we handle stresses and anxieties. Understanding and having a fair sense of self allow us to better handle the inevitable differences between the two people involved. It is important to understand that the differences are not problems in and of themselves. The problems are based on our emotional reactivity to these differences.

Thinking of my answer to the last question, what is the first sentence which comes to mind to describe myself?
I am my father’s daughter. 😦

What did it feel like to identify who I am? (my sense of self)
Eye opening and sad. I realized I am as responsible as my father is for our relationship
But I am hopeful, even though we have our work cut out for us.

Which self would I like to bring to the relationship?
My authentic self: loving, kind, understanding, generous, grateful, affectionate, hopeful and creative.

In what ways would I be different if I was that self instead?
I would be optimistic about our relationship, instead of hopeless. I would be understanding and flexible, not forceful but adaptive. I would tone down my reactivity and turn up my empathy.

What difference would being like this bring to the relationship?
Perhaps more understanding, tolerance and the opportunity for growth.

What is my detailed plan of action from this point? And what can I do to cope more positively with the differences and similarities between Dad and me?
Make a concerted effort to keep in touch more and to visit.
Get to know more about him. Be patient, open and understanding.
Understand that lots of planning and no action will lead me nowhere.
Understand that courageous acts of change require small manageable steps. There will inevitably be setbacks, maybe even failures, but I won’t take them personally and I won’t give up. I can take a time out if I need to, but I won’t give up.

I am actively working on my relationship with Dad. It is slow going and I’ve decided that’s okay. For now. I’m interested to know if any of you found the questions helpful or at least thought provoking. Copy and paste the questions onto a document and carry it with you to answer one day when you feel ready. I found that removing the pressure of assuming that I’ll actually talk to Dad about all of this, and writing out my answers, helped me to focus and be honest about my feelings.

~*~

Here are the questions in an easy to copy format:

1. What am I going to change?
2. How would I like this relationship to be?
3. Knowing that I cannot change another person, what can I do to make our relationship this way?
4. What blocks are there to prevent me from making these changes?
5. What do I usually do when I encounter these blocks?
6. What usually happens then?
7. What do I need to do to get past these blocks?
8. Who am I currently in this relationship? (I must have a good sense of self to know the place I am starting from)
In any close relationship, differences will emerge: views, perspectives, the way we handle stresses and anxieties. Understanding and having a fair sense of self allow us to better handle the inevitable differences between the two people involved. It is important to understand that the differences are not problems in and of themselves. The problems are based on our emotional reactivity to these differences.
9. Thinking of my answers to the last question, what is the first sentence which comes to mind to describe myself?
10. What did it feel like to identify who I am? (my sense of self)
11. Which self would I like to bring to the relationship?
12. In what ways would I be different if I was that self instead?
13. What difference would being like this bring to the relationship?
14. What is my detailed plan of action from this point? And what can I do to cope more positively with the differences and similarities between us?

Love, light and good luck to you,
Phoenix

~*~

This is Post Q, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is in an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.

Patience

Tenzin_and_a_frustrated_Korra (1)

Tenzin: There is no shame in taking the time you need to make a full recovery. I know you want to help. But trust me, everyone has this under control. I just think you need to …
Korra: [Angry.] If you say, “be patient”, I swear I’m gonna water-smack you in the mouth!
Tenzin: Nooo … I was going to say, you need to … [Searching for replacement advice] not worry about the future. Be grateful for where you are now and the progress you’ve made.

Last night a business associate took me out for dinner in the city’s art district. The restaurant was a cross between an art gallery, a bar and a restaurant. I loved the decor which set my mind’s cogs turning as I was finally feeling inspired enough to resume planning my pieces for an upcoming exhibition. The exhibition dates have been set for over a year and as usual, mired by doubt, I was procrastinating. Then of course, frustrated with my lack of progress, I’d berate myself for my creative block. I understand that the block is caused by a fear of failure. I want my pieces to be perfect and if I fall short, I’ll feel like a failure.

I do this to myself in other ways too. Like frowning at myself for being ashamed that I could not tell my business associate that I don’t drink at all. I shrugged off my decision to order a club soda and lemon, with an “Oh, I just don’t feel like drinking today.” Yet I gave myself a stern talking to before bed: “You have to get over this. You’ve been sober for over a year. Own your sobriety. Be proud of it and stop thinking that something is wrong with you. You should be further along in your acceptance of yourself.”

I might be right, but I can’t help feeling jealous when I read about others who totally own their sobriety, are open about it and never feel ashamed that they had to stop drinking. Me? I still worry that others will think less of me. Yes, I know I shouldn’t put so much stock in what others think and I am working on it. Times like this I have to be patient with myself and focus on how far I’ve come, instead of how far I have left to go.  I can notice and acknowledge the inner growth that is happening. I am a work in progress after all and I know I am in a better place than I was. I’m grateful for that.

Back to my upcoming exhibition. I know the best thing to do is to just focus on the work and enjoy the process. I have to trust that once I am true to myself, happy with what I create, and brave enough to put myself out there, that’s an accomplishment in itself. In the end that’s all that really matters. 

Tunnel Better Place Aang Iroh

Uncle Iroh: Sometimes life is like this dark tunnel. You can’t always see the light at the end of the tunnel, but if you just keep moving… You will come to a better place.

~*~

This is Post P, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is in an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.

Open Mind and an Open Heart

Zuko_and_Iroh_at_the_Western_Air_Temple

Uncle Iroh: You know, Prince Zuko, destiny is a funny thing. You never know how things are going to work out. But if you keep an open mind and an open heart, I promise you will find your own destiny someday.

In 2011 during a particularly enlightening yoga workshop I recognized my purpose: I knew with absolute certainty that my purpose in life was to help people heal through creative expression. I had no idea how to do it but I saw myself thriving if I found a way to fulfill that purpose. I talked to people in the field who I trusted and respected, and sought advice from business owners. I created a Project Scrapbook and in it wrote daily, all of my plans and ideas, colouring and highlighting them with sketches and drawings and dreams.

By the end of that year, after the disastrous break-up of a dysfunctional co-dependent relationship, I was drinking often. Too often of course, but I did not see that back then. I did not know, as I do now, that my drinking was fostering fear and uncertainty in my life. I was using it as an escape and all it ever did was stop me from tidying up my side of the street. Hell, it kept me from tidying up my little space on this Earth. Tidying it up and preparing it for it’s true purpose. My Project Scrapbook stayed closed for a long time. I could not find a way to believe in myself and kept my mind and heart closed. I was afraid that I would never do anything worthwhile and that my life, that I, was worthless. So I stopped dreaming. I was in despair and I did not even know it.

Goethe says, “Take care of your body with steadfast fidelity. The soul must see through these eyes alone, and if they are dim, the whole world is clouded.”

This quote means so much to me now.  In February 2014 when I quit drinking I focused all of my attention on dealing with early sobriety and the onslaught of reality checks and emotions it brought with it. I focused on understanding the changes I was going through and on getting healthy. I began tidying my little space. I moved into a smaller apartment, paid off my debts, and made practical plans for my financial future. I worked on my spirit too. As I began to feel healthier, my mind cleared as did my intuition. I started to trust myself more and had decided to let my heart lead me where it would. I felt the pull and tug of certain workshops and classes and I followed with an open mind and an open heart, sometimes not knowing what to expect, but never regretting the decision to attend. Without the physical, psychological and emotional fallout from drinking, there is more space and time in my life for opening doors and widening avenues on my true path.

Four years have passed since that eight week yoga workshop and although my initial venture did not blossom, I am as sure as ever that my destiny lies on this path. I’m going after my dreams again. This time with excitement instead of anxiety, with faith instead of fear, with gratitude instead of despair, and with confidence that I am open to the possibilities.

“We think when we stop drinking that we are giving up a mind-expanding substance, when in fact sobriety is the true freedom, and opens up new horizons beyond anything we could have dreamt.” ~ Primrose

~*~

This is Post O, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is in an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.

Negotiating

Sokka meat and sarcasm guy

Sokka: Okay Karma person or thing – whoever’s in charge of this stuff, if I can just get out of this situation alive, I will give up meat and sarcasm. Okay? That’s all I got. It’s pretty much my whole identity, Sokka the meat and sarcasm guy, but I’m willing to be Sokka the veggies and straight talk fellow. Deal?

How many times, in the grip of a terrible hangover, have you declared, “God, if you can just get me through this day, I’ll never drink again!” Or while driving home inebriated said, “If I can just make it home safely, I’ll never get drunk again.” Negotiating and bargaining are familiar tools I remember wielding, with no effective use really other than attempting to convince myself that I was in control of the situation.

Around 1am one morning three years ago I was sobbing to a man in a white coat in a hospital ER. He left to attend to my best friend in the cubicle next to me. The curtains were drawn and she was crying out in pain as I prayed to God, making all sorts of deals with him if he’d just make sure that my best friend was okay. We should not have been out so late. We had promised each other that we’d be safe at home by 11:30pm. But 11:30 came and went with “one more round for the road” as is a common saying in my country. I was “sober enough to drive” and the accident was deemed not my fault as the driver of the other car had also been drinking and was drunk enough to break his red light, slam into my car and send it into a tailspin. He was not wearing his seatbelt and had bodyslammed his dashboard and windscreen. Two ambulances and one firetruck later we were in that ER calling out to each other through a flimsy blue curtain.

At 4am, after we were released from the hospital, I made all sorts of deals with God, The Universe, Queen Karma and anyone else I thought might be in charge as my best friend’s boyfriend drove us home, and cried for an hour sitting on the shower floor when I got home. I went to bed at dawn a very penitent girl with prayers and promises on my lips as I fell asleep.

But, of course, six weeks later my injuries had healed and I’d forgotten all about those promises. It would take another two years and two near misses for me to honour the deals I negotiated in that cold hospital emergency room.

~*~

This is Post N, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is in an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.

Metamorphosis

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Uncle Iroh: You should know this is not a natural sickness. Your critical decision – what you did beneath that lake. It was such a conflict with your image of yourself that you are now at war within your own mind and body. You are going through a metamorphosis, my nephew. It will not be a pleasant experience but when you come out of it. You will be the beautiful prince you were always meant to be.

Do you remember hangovers? The head-in-a-vise headaches, the dehydration and cotton mouth, the sandpaper skin and sensitivity, the sour stomach and food that tasted like cardboard, the body aches and fatigue? Even though it’s been a couple of years I still do, vividly. That was my body fighting to get back to normalcy after I’d spent the night wrecking it by drinking and smoking too much. I feel such remorse when I think back to the way I disrespected my body and I certainly don’t miss the days lost, curled up on the couch in front of the TV, being physically unfit to do anything constructive or productive.

The human body is remarkable in the way it is designed to repair and heal itself. With the exception of serious illnesses or compromised immune systems, from the moment we sustain an injury or get the flu, our bodies begin repairing. Blood will clot, new cells will replace old or damaged ones, muscle tissue will regenerate. When I gave up drinking and smoking, I understood that I may have had physical withdrawal symptoms until the toxins were completely out of my system, and I also understood that healing would take time. For me, I started feeling healthier about six weeks after I quit. By then my sleeping and eating habits had normalized. My energy levels were higher than ever and I steered more of it toward enjoying life instead of fighting hangovers.

Mentally, the fog lifted and there was a clarity of thought I had not felt in ages. For people who were binge drinkers (more than 3 or 4 drinks at a time) or high functioning alcoholics (those of us who drank heavily every day and still managed to hold down a job and perform well enough to keep our habit hidden) our performance levels naturally increase a few months after we quit. I was fortunate enough at that time to be offered the opportunity to broaden my professional experience and knowledge. I jumped right in. With growing confidence in my creative capabilities and my ability to tap into them now, I flexed my creative muscles and experimented with different outlets. Now, I’ve been thinking about going back to school to explore that side of me. So many things are changing, for the better.

“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” ~ Haruki Murakami

~*~

This is Post M, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is in an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.

Kindness

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Uncle Iroh: Thank you, Ming. Your little gestures of kindness have made my days in prison bearable.

Kindness received and shown in any sort of recovery is invaluable to its success. I will always be grateful for the support and kindness shown to me when I first gave up alcohol.

My boyfriend’s support meant a lot to me this past year. His consideration of my efforts to stay sober, by cutting back on his drinking, keeping his fridge well stocked with non-alco beverages for me, being willing to discuss my rapidly changing moods in the early days and to talk through my thoughts on every related subject helped me not to feel abnormal.

My girlfriends were great too. They were 100% supportive of my choice and assured me that they were going to be available to me when I needed them. One or two even went so far as to opt to meet for coffee or lunch so I would still have my girls’ time without our ‘regular’ drinks, or abstain from drinking when we did go out so I wouldn’t feel like the odd one out. In those first few weeks I was touched and reassured that I my friendship was still impotant to them too. When my boyfriend and I broke up and my sister migrated a few days later, my girlfriends made sure that I was not alone.

My mom, although I’ve told her that I don’t want to know if she reads my blog and that I’m not ready to talk to her about my sobriety yet, every now and then sends me short, sweet and encouraging “I am proud of you” messages.

These little acts of kindness make me feel loved and supported, and boost my confidence in my ability to continue. In turn, I try to do the same for others I meet who are also trying to quit or stay sober. I am always moved and appreciative of readers who take the time to read, like or comment on my blog and I return that kindness as often as I can. Many times this journey is not an easy one and these little gestures go a long way, for all of us.

~*~

This is Post K, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is in an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.

The Lowest Point

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Aang: When we hit our lowest point we are open to the greatest change. 

I’ve found that on our soberversaries it’s customary for us to talk about “The night that changed it all”. My first soberversary was on February 3rd of this year but I wasn’t ready to talk about the night that was a turning point for me. I’m still not but I can talk about what was my lowest point. I was a binge drinker. Which means that I didn’t drink every day, or got drunk every time I drank, but I had problems with limits. Oh and most importantly, I used alcohol as a means of escape instead of dealing with life. Long story short, all binge drinkers can and will become alcoholics at some point. By the time I reached my low point I was drinking at least three times for the week and getting drunk about four times for the month. Once or twice a year I’d get drunk enough to have to rely on loved ones to drive me home. The last night was one of those nights. I’m not ready to talk about the details but I will say that my sister was there that night.

The next day when I called her to “find out what happened” the night before, she was calm, collected, and did not mince words. She is a highly practical and straightforward person and there was no emotion expressed as she narrated the events of the night before. Her tone of voice was one of resignation and acceptance. She said that she was not angry with me, but had decided that she would be better off if she removed herself from my life. THAT hit me very hard.

I know I did not quit drinking for my sister but her actions that day forced me to look at the kind of person I was. Who I knew myself to be deep down inside was not the person on the outside. The Me on the outside was drowning in alcohol related side effects and becoming someone who had no understanding of herself and honestly did not like herself very much. I ran from my issues, numbed them with alcohol, squashed any chance of healing or growing, and lashed out at loved ones, especially those closest to me. Like my sister. The fact that I could hurt her so much that she would consider removing herself from my life shook me to my core. It was my worst day.

And, in the end, it was also my best day. It was the day I changed my life.

Love and light, Phoenix.

~*~

This is Post L, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is in an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.