What People Say

Do… or do not. There is no try

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Do… or do not. There is no try. ~ Yoda

A philosophical blogging challenge wouldn’t be complete without Master Yoda.

Especially when he is right. While I do also think that “you’ve already failed if you fail to try” I believe that Master Yoda was talking about having the right attitude. His apprentice, Luke, was young in the ways of The Force and didn’t believe in himself very much. He didn’t have the right attitude.

The many, many times I failed at quitting drinking, giving it up for a while, or even cutting back on the number of drinks, it was because I didn’t have the right attitude. I thought, like most people, that managing alcohol consumption was all, and only, about will power. I thought something must’ve really been truly wrong with me that I couldn’t drink (and enjoy alcohol) the way my friends did. But it was never about will power. It was about good will.

While I’m not judging anyone or condemning their relationships with alcohol I am much wiser when it comes to myself now. I know that I used alcohol as a tool for escape. I used it to run away from dealing with my issues and of course, it never made anything any better.

The times I’d failed to quit I didn’t have the right attitude, about many things. I didn’t see my self, my life and everything I wanted to achieve as worth enough to change my behaviour for. I didn’t see what alcohol really meant for someone like me. I didn’t see that I had issues with self worth that were deep-rooted. I didn’t believe that I could change them. I didn’t think I needed help.

The big difference this time, and in less than a month I will celebrate my second soberversary, is that I have the right attitude. While I will never underestimate alcohol again, I know I never drink again. I know I am worth it. I know I can do this. For me, there is no try.

~*~

On February 6th 2014, four days after I stopped drinking alcohol, I started this blog. My two-year soberversary is fast approaching and my January posts, inspired by fictional philosophers who’ve inspired me with their bad-ass thoughts, is a way of celebrating my journey. I hope, in turn, to inspire you on yours.

From the Tao of Pooh

Motisfont Christopher Robin and Pooh playing poohsticks creditThe E.H. Shepard Trust reproduced by permission of Curtis Brown Group Ltd

“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” ~ Christopher Robin to Pooh

I’ve been writing and rewriting cover letters and resumes for the past month. I’m leaving a job where I’ve been involved in sales for the last 15 years and I have to say it’s been challenging figuring out how to sell myself.

So many of us who have had issues with alcohol (or have issues with addictive behaviour for that matter) are uncomfortable coming to terms with and expressing our worth. We feel ashamed and broken and tend to focus on all the ways we don’t measure up. So imagine my quandry: How do I convince a new company that an alcohol abuser with residual psychological issues from past trauma and poor choices is the best fit for their open position?

By coming to terms with, and believing, that those things are only a part of me and do not make up the whole of me. They are not ALL of who I am. So I sat down with a blank piece of paper and started taking notes. I thought about the strengths a journey like this allows us to develop:

Courage and Resilience
Compassion and Benevolence
Discipline and Analytical Skills (you know, the overthinking!)
Honesty and Accountability

And you know what? I started to feel better about myself. I could do this. I forced myself not to give in to doubt and I called up a few trusted friends. I asked them what they considered to be my assets. I was humbled, grateful and touched by what they had to say. Sometimes our friends see us in ways that we can’t, especially when Ms Doubt and Mr Self Sabotage walk next to us so often, whispering tales from our negative core beliefs.

In each person who has found the courage to admit the truth and tackle their addictive behaviour there are reserves of strength we should not take for granted. We are resilient because we won’t give up. If we falter we will try again, simply because we already know how to begin. We begin again, because we have to, carrying what we’ve learned every step of the way.

~*~

On February 6th 2014, four days after I stopped drinking alcohol, I started this blog. My two-year soberversary is fast approaching and my January posts, inspired by fictional philosophers who’ve inspired me with their bad-ass thoughts, is a way of celebrating my journey. I hope, in turn, to inspire you on yours.

Accountability

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Uncle Iroh has just watched a group of boys accidentally kick a ball through a window.
Uncle Iroh: [to the boys] It is usually best to admit mistakes when they occur, and to seek to restore honour.
Angry Man: [coming to the window and shouting] When I’m through with you kids, the window won’t be the only thing broken!
Uncle Iroh: [to the boys] But not this time. Run!

Accountability seems to be the word of the day today. From production errors made by staff members at work, to discussions with my editor about anonymity for an upcoming article. Last year I wrote six articles under a pseudonym for an online magazine about early sobriety. The articles did very well in terms of number of hits and shares, and readers were interested and hopefully helped. Now I’ve written a new article about my first year of sobriety and the ways in which I got through it. The magazine will be publishing the new article soon and  I am considering using my real name as author this time – sort of finally owning my story and giving my journey the respect it deserves. But will I really be owning my story by simply giving it my name? And if I choose not to use my name, would this mean that I deem my story a shameful one which should be denied a name?

To tell you the truth I am wary of opening up myself for criticism I might not be all that ready to handle. I still consider myself new to this having only been sober for one year, and while I think I have a better handle on minimizing self-judgment, I am not sure I am ready to handle negative judgment from strangers who are not on a similar journey.

I know that accountability is important to me and I know I have nothing to be ashamed of. I have made mistakes and poor decisions while under the influence of alcohol, and sometimes I do still feel remorse and regret that certain things happened. But those mistakes don’t make me a mistake. I don’t feel ashamed of myself any more. I have accepted that those mistakes and poor decisions are a part of my past and I  endeavour daily to be a better person. And in fact, most days I am even proud of where I am now. But, in this case, I wonder what hiding behind a pseudonym would mean. In doing so am I saying that the person I am today is unwilling to be held accountable for mistakes I’ve made in the past? Or more simply, would staying anonymous mean that am I unwilling to be accountable to myself?

I have much to think about.

~*~

This is my first post, A, 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 beautifully developed characters and kick-ass story lines) 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. 

You Don’t Say!

Now that my sobriety is growing up a little, (yup she’s three weeks old today and received a lollipop), I’m feeling a bit braver about letting others know I don’t drink anymore. But I’ve got to tell you, while most confidantes have been wonderfully supportive, in addition to the usual questions about whether or not I’m pregnant or on medication, I have received some odd responses:

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*The blank stare*

*The blank stare with solitary blink*

*The deer caught in the headlights stare* (I feel sorry for people at this point and usually say something funny to cut them some slack.)

“Ever? You’re not drinking ever again?” (complete with raised eyebrows)

“Yeah, it’s about time you did that. You were always making an ass of yourself!” (Ok, I’ll take that, even though I didn’t ALWAYS do it.)

One guy introduced me to a stranger by saying: “Hey Adam, I’d like you to meet Phoenix. She used to drink but now she doesn’t.” (WTF was that about?)

But I’m taking it all in stride. I try to keep my over-sensitive side in check because I know most of the time folks just don’t really know how to respond and what comes out isn’t necessarily what they mean.

One of my fellow bloggers, Unpickled, has some brilliant interpretations on her site which I chuckled to read a couple of weeks ago but now completely relate to. She explains:

Normies say:      “Are you going to stop coming out with us now?”

We hear:             “You’re ruining our fun.”

It likely meant:    “We still want to spend time with you. What’s the best way to do that?”

*

Normies say:      “Did I do something to make this happen?”

We hear:             “Your recovery is about me.”

It likely meant: “I would never knowingly hurt you” (or…”I feel guilty for something I’ve done.”)

*

Normies say:      “Do I have to quit drinking around you?”

We hear:             “I don’t want to be with you now.”

It likely meant:  “I am not ready to face my own issues around alcohol.”

*

Normies say:      “What are we supposed to do after baseball now?”

We hear:             “I only want to be your friend if I can drink with you.”

It likely meant: “Is this going to change our relationship? I like things the way they are.”

*

Normies say:     “It’s no big deal. I don’t care if you’re drinking or not.”

We hear:             “Don’t expect me to do anything differently to accommodate you.”

It likely meant: “I’m acting nonchalant to show you that I’m supportive.”

*

Normies say:      “My cousin was in rehab and it made him worse. Stay away from recovery programs.”

We hear:              “All alcoholics are the same. I know more about this than you do.”

It likely meant:    “I don’t know what to say so I’m relating the only thing I know about recovery.”

*

Thanks Unpickled, for helping me to keep a cool head. I do have a pretty decent support network and I know most people mean well, but it is handy having your wisdom in my pocket. 🙂