How Sobriety Benefits Relationships

Hello, all! Happy morning to each of you and I hope this is an excellent day for you! The search term I liked has to do with the effect that sobriety has on relationships, and I will address that today.

In sobriety, one of the biggest benefits is the ability to get honest with yourself and with others. In this case, honesty refers to letting others know who you really are by sharing your true feelings in a kind way. Yet, even more importantly, honesty refers to looking at your behavior and owning it when it is less than stellar, i.e., when it is negative.

The ability to own your negative behavior will take you far in relationships. Instead of blaming another for things that got uncomfortable or went bad, you will learn to see what role you played in the event, and will be able to apologize for anything you did that was unkind or mean-spirited.

This is where conducting a self-appraisal is crucial. When you are in a relationship, whether it is romanic or not, I invite you to learn to keep an eye on your behavior and when you start the ball rolling in an argument, for example, or you do something that hurts the other, then take the higher road. Accept responsibility for your behavior and apologize.

Sobriety allows you to apologize without groveling or getting defensive, but merely, to humbly admit to your less-than-positive deed and to apologize for it. I can’t tell you how freeing it is to admit to your negative behavior. It sounds like it would be horrible to do, yet, it is liberating.  And it makes for many fewer arguments.

If you like what I say in this blog or others, I invite you to check out my coaching services under the “Services” tab here on my website. I offer free 30-minute discovery sessions for us to discuss what issues you are struggling with, and to relay how we could continue to work together. Simply call me at 415-883-8325.

Being honest as I have described it is the biggest benefit I see to how sobriety benefits relationships. What do you see as the biggest benefit that sobriety has on them? I invite you to leave a comment and let us know.

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Move Forward From the Past

Hello rather late in the morning. In fact, good afternoon, as it is 12:30 pm where I am in Novato, California. I hope you are each having a great day. The search term “moving forward from the past” intrigued me, and I wish to say a few things about this.

There is no doubt that our past forms who we are in the moment, and that we cannot change our past. However, we can change how we view the past. For example, I had a rough childhood; it was abusive both physically and verbally. I spent my adult life until the age of 48 drinking heavily over it. The alcohol fueled my rage, self-pity, and blame of my parents. I learned quickly how to play the victim and I played that role very well.

Then, I met my match with alcohol and ended up seeking sobriety. During the course of that life-style, the sober one, I learned to look at myself and my behaviors. I learned how to forgive, and I have since forgiven my parents.

My point is, I learned to look at my past as something from which I can gain strength and healing, and which I can offer my recovery from to others so that they, too, can gain strength and healing.

I have found that it is important to visit the past as a way to move forward in the present. Once we revisit the past for our current growth, it is best thought of differently, as something which happened to us so we can grow and then, share that growth with others, in order to be of service to them.

When you move forward from the past, you will feel a peace and freedom like you have never felt. You will feel relief from the chains that bind you. If you are drinking to numb your pain, sobriety can help you in your growth. I know I could not hear those words when I was at the height of my drinking; perhaps you will be able to. I wish that for you, at any rate, so you can avoid years, possibly, of misery.

What do you do in your life to move forward from the past? I am hopeful for you that you use the past so you can move forward in the present. May it bring you peace when you move forward from the past.

 

 

 

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Easter – A Day of Rising Up by Finding Sobriety

Good morning and Happy Easter to each of you! I wish for you a day of rising up, of being reborn in your life. For me, that rebirth happened after I found sobriety. By becoming sober, I became able to heal form past wounds, and to learn to forgive, to create forgiveness in my life.

Today, I want to address sobriety and then mention forgiveness…

Have you been beaten down so low in your life that you are in great despair, with little or no hope that things will get better? Are you drinking mass quantities to numb the pain and confusion you feel? There is a way out. It is one of sobriety.

Right now, today – a day of rising up – you can choose sobriety. You can choose another course for your life. It doesn’t have to be in shame that you do this – instead, you can be in great relief that you no longer have to drown your sorrows and feel miserable the next day. Ah yes, the hangovers. How I remember them well… getting up and not being able to function until the afternoon, going to get my hangover food – a burrito from Taco Bell or a thigh from Kentucky Fried Chicken – all so it would settle my queasy stomach and quell the sharp pain in my head.

Are you there yet? Wanting to give it all up? Then it is time for you to consider sobriety, to ask for help. There are many support groups around from which you can get assistance. All you have to do is look in your yellow pages, or google alcohol support groups. They are there to help you – right now. Follow that small voice in your heart that wants to be done, that small voice that urges you to ask for help. It will be the best thing you do for yourself in your life!

Once you find sobriety, after a while, you will learn how to create forgiveness in your life, of both others and yourself, and that is the most freeing and peaceful thing you can experience. It will make you glow, make you radiant. You do not want to miss this experience!

The thing about sobriety is, it allows you to heal from all the demons you chase away when you are drinking. Through sobriety, you create a life that is filled with freedom, with peace. But you have to start somewhere, so why not at the beginning and what better day than Easter?

 

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What Is It Like to Be Sober?

Hello, and good morning to you each! The day has dawned clear and sunny here in the northern San Francisco Bay Area. My kind of day. : ) I hope your day is filled with peace and joy.

As a follow up to yesterday’s post, I began to wonder if I’d gone too far with it, if I’d gone over the top. I worried that I divulged too much about my process, my actions of follow through with the director of the Stanford Forgiveness Project. I considered taking that information out of the post and re-publishing it.

After my panic subsided, I elected to leave Fred’s name up there, and perhaps, if you google him and his project, you will learn more about forgiveness and about the project and him. That would be a wonderful thing. Perhaps I could have even linked to him to begin with!

At any rate, I would love some comments about how the post sat with you, what your reactions were…

Let’s turn our attention in an different direction, as I talk today about what it’s like to be sober. Ah, a topic near and dear to my heart and I am happy to write about it, as the more that join in, the merrier!

It was scary as crap to think about never drinking again, and it was that fear which, for many years, kept me from getting sober. Drinking had pervaded every aspect of my waking life, and I could not conceive of being without it. What in the world would I ever do, for example, if I went to a party and didn’t have a drink? How boring would THAT be?

As it turns out, not boring at all. In fact, it was more exciting because I was present for conversations with others. That’s not to say that right away I felt comfortable at a party without alcohol; it took a few months to work up to that point. But it came fairly quickly for me.

The reality is, to be sober, to live without alcohol and drugs in your life, is cleaner, more simple, easier, more enjoyable and exhilarating, more freeing. It’s just the way I love living my life now. I don’t miss alcohol because I know where it takes me, and I don’t want to go there… to the being looped and not able to think or talk clearly. So, I elect to stay sober.

For those of you wondering what it’s like to be sober, try it out a bit, but don’t just try being without the liquor. Being sober involves a shift of perspective in how you view life and yourself. It involves seeing the world and yourself with new eyes. To get to that point, get involved with a local support group that deals with alcohol recovery. One of these can be found in your yellow pages, or online under local alcohol support groups.

If you want to experience freedom, peace like you’ve never felt before, and joy over the simplest things in life, I invite you to try getting and staying sober. You will not regret it once you clear out all the old baggage, the old “stuff.”

Being sober and the feeling it generates is the feeling I was looking for all those years that I drank. Isn’t it ironic that I finally found that feeling I so desperately sought, by being sober?

What are your concerns about getting sober? Leave a comment and let us know.

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The Power of Gratitude

When put to use, gratitude is very powerful. Even more so, it is magical.

I will move into gratitude today for two reasons – 1) it was a search term and 2) it enhances everything you do in life, and it can help you maintain sobriety. Gratitude assists in the forgiveness process, too.

What is gratitude? According to Webster, it is a feeling of thankful appreciation for favors or benefits. To me, gratitude is pleasing and I am thankful for what I have received, whether I have asked for it or not. I am thanking a higher being, or source, showing and sharing my gratitude.

There was a long period in sobriety during which I could not be grateful for anything. In fact, my roommate and I used to meet each other while one was on the way from a meeting and one was on her way to a meeting. The question would always be, “What was the topic?” The answer invariably was “Gratitude,” to which the other would exclaim, “Gratitude AGAIN??”

The thing is, I could not get past the hurt and pain of my past enough to be grateful for anything. It took me several years sober before I seemingly overnight, began to have extreme gratitude. Oh, but I remember the incident vividly. It is the same day that I realized my life’s purpose and my calling.

Once I did, the whole world changed for me in my ability to be grateful for all the gifts I was receiving. In fact, I began to look at my experiences as gifts from which to learn and grow, to heal and thrive.

I still do today… look at experiences as gifts for my learning, healing, and growing, and I see them with gratitude. Sometimes, when I am in the middle of it, I don’t see it as a gift, though. But it works its way through, and I begin to see the gift. Staying sober helps a great deal with that, and that’s the topic of another blog.

If you’re having difficulty being grateful, expressing gratitude, then try this. Every morning when you wake up, whether you lie awake for awhile, or bound right out of bed, feel gratitude for waking up. That’s it, just for waking up.

Even if you would rather not continue with life and not waking up sounds like the solution for you, set that aside for a bit if you can, and just be grateful you woke up on this day, that you have one more day to hope that things will turn around today, or one more day to stay sober. Whatever your difficulty, think of it as one more day to have things change.

It takes courage, and a lot of willingness. And if you’re beat down so low, perhaps those are the only games in town. You have a choice to grab hold of willingness and courage, or keep with the status quo.

Back to our daily exercise. Practice greeting the day with gratitude for two weeks. For the following two weeks, keep doing that and add this: throughout each day, remember back to waking up and being grateful that morning. When you can remember what that  felt like for you, be grateful you were able to experience gratitude, able to be grateful. Be grateful for the courage and willingness you used.

After a while, you will find yourself showing gratitude for getting great parking spaces. It works to elevate your mood, and it’s easier to be around others, and they around you. Remember, gratitude begets gratitude.

How does gratitude manifest for you? Are you able to express it already? If not, was the exercise helpful? Leave a comment and let us know.

 

Are you resistant to this or even to the exercise?

 

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Curls of Kindness

Yesterday and Friday I had the distinct honor of being in a holiday craft show at the park where I live. I offered my book and some of my framed images of gates. Everything was well received… many said my work was lovely… and few bought. Still, I had some great conversations with people… a few were very spiritual in nature.

The interesting thing was, I had the opportunity to relay to many people the story of how the book was born. You see, I did not write the verses to go with the pictures. It happened the other way around. I was photographing these gates, and then was titling them so I could sell them to galleries.

Separate and independent of my photo-taking was my journaling – daily writings to try and deal with feelings associated with my sobriety, my recovery. I wrote much about my thoughts and feelings in an effort to work through my emotional difficulties.

One morning, I wrote in my journal a phrase, a verse, that described a gate I had just titled Webs of Fear. I was quite taken-aback, and was prompted to search my journals for other writings that matched or described my titled gate photos. I found around 25 or 30 writings that matched up with images!

Imagine, having written these things before I even photographed the gates! It was all pretty amazing to me and I think, as a result, that the book was divinely inspired, divinely guided. That was in late November of 2004 when I discovered the prose and it was at that point that I realized I had a book I had written and could continue to write. I started working on coordinating verses with photos.

By 2008, I had the book pretty much pulled together, wanted to publish it, and I was terrified for people to read it. I felt very exposed, very raw and vulnerable. I was afraid to expose my story. It took me two more years before I could get up the courage to actually put the book in the hands of a publisher. They, however, rejected it and so I decided to publish it myself.

Curls of Kindness

I felt its message was too important to wait until such time as a publisher accepted it, so I went through the process of publishing it. One of the images from my book is Curls of Kindness. I’d like to share it and its verse with you.

 “If now is not the time to be kinder and gentler to each other and to ourselves,

when will it be?”

This is just one of many verses that ponders the question of how we treat each other and ourselves. There are additional ones that invite us to act with more tolerance and respect, more compassion and gentleness. As a result of acting in such a manner, the book promises the experience of grace and hope, serenity and joy… and peace.

Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing is an accounting of my own journey into and through sobriety. It takes you along on the path from great angst, through self-awareness and into discovery of so many things which have allowed me to live with joy and peace in my life.

I invite you to check it out in more detail by clicking on the “About” button, and scrolling down to “The Book.” Order your copy today and I will send you a signed copy. Read it in its entirety as a pathway to peace or use it as a daily meditation book when each verse is read individually. May it bring you hope and peace.

 

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Combatting Feelings of Worthlessness, No Value

Good morning. I wanted to pick up where we left off yesterday… after the point of worthlessness, at that place where you are feeling in your deepest recesses that you have done or said some good things – even just one. I hope you did the exercise from yesterday and come armed with the results, the feeling of personal goodness in at least one area.

Take that feeling into the next part of the process, which is seeing the wounds that have led to the feelings that you have no value, the wounds that reinforce your worthlessness. What you want to do here is to start writing about the earliest time you can remember when you were criticized or denigrated. Remember who said or did what… write it down and take a deep breath…

Allow yourself to feel those feelings, just noticing the emotional charge they have for you. Then, decide to look at things from a different viewpoint, with new eyes. Become willing to choose to believe that what was told to you was a lie, told by a wounded person themself. Feel that all the way to your toes… that what they said was wrong. Replace the language that was used against you then, and now replace it with a positive statement about yourself.

It bears repeating here that what was told to you was a lie, incorrect information, based on someone else’s woundedness. It may take some time to incorporate that into your heart, for when you take that belief into your heart, you have years of blaming that needs to fall away, years of negative self-talk to combat and reverse.

This is no easy task, but then, what you are currently dealing with is not easy either. And, no doubt you feel miserable about yourself… that’s why you’re reading this. If you stick with it and commit to sticking with it through all that comes up, you will reap the most awesome beliefs and feelings about yourself on the other side.

You will feel more alive than you have felt for some time. That aliveness is self-perpetuating and cumulative, and it only firms up your new belief that you are good at that one thing, just that one thing… It becomes easier to believe in your light, your goodness, as you go through this process.

What do you wish to be in your heart? Whom do you wish to be? Look at that dream, that desire, and envision yourself living it. What is your “wow?” What does that look like for you? How does it feel? Write your answers…

You are now headed on the course of discovering what makes you shine. It is a discovery of your “wow,” of your light in the world. Follow this process again and again to clear out old messages and beliefs. Be gentle with yourself, and don’t beat yourself up. Allow those gremlins to stay away. When you meet resistance, write about it, even if it is only to simply notice its presence. After you have had a chance to get to your deeper self, let me know what that was like for you by leaving a comment. I wish for you many blessings on your journey.

Oh, and one last thing. I forgot to mention numbing-out during this process. If you stay straight, you go through the process more quickly than if you numb out. You get to the other side more quickly when you’re sober. I invite you to practice sobriety during this process of healing.

And finally, I will be going to my nephew’s wedding in Tampa over the weekend, leaving at 3:30 am tomorrow, so I most likely will not blog tomorrow. I definitely won’t be blogging Saturday or Sunday either, cause I’m not taking my computer. Wow! A true vacation!! Enjoy the weekend and see you on Monday.

 

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How to Conquer Fear by Getting Sober

There were three searches about fear yesterday… conquering it, conclusions about it, and overcoming it. I’m going to take fear one more step and apply it to becoming sober. It has been my experience that I was only able to conquer fear when sober, so that’s what I’ll speak to.

It wasn’t until many years sober that I realized how much fear had ruled my life as a child and then during my drinking days. Basically, everything I did was dictated by fear of some sort… fear of not being good enough, that you wouldn’t like me,  that  I would make you mad or bother you… and the list goes on.

Let’s turn our attention now to the days I have been sober, my days in sobriety. It has taken me many years as a sober person to drop my fears that I am not good enough, although I sometimes return there, even today. What I have found in sobriety is that I experience the fear, but then I use faith to gain the courage to move forward, despite the fear. I always feel a sense of accomplishment when I do that.

I’m talking about little things that don’t scare many people… like calling or introducing myself to people to let them know who I am, what I do, and to inform them of my services. I get all fearful, and yet, I need to just do it, like Nike says. So I do, and everything turns out well, just as it was intended to be.

The fear which keeps you from getting sober warrants discussion. What about getting sober scares you? Define that for yourself, in all the possible ways. For me, it was not knowing how I would exist without alcohol in my life… how would I spend my time? It was fear of the unknown. Loss of a lifestyle, even though my current life was detrimental to my spirit and well-being, it was still familiar and, in a sick way, comforting.

At a deeper level, I resisted getting sober because a piece of my heart knew I had to drag out all the heartaches of my life and look at them. I didn’t want to do that and I avoided it. Heck! I drank to escape those feelings!! It took me many years of sobriety to realize that in the end, “those feelings” I was escaping were joy and peace.

So, how can you move forward past your fears? Consider the action or result that your fear is preventing. Define a task that will accomplish your desired action/result. Break the task down into smaller parts or sub-tasks, and do one piece at a time, one phone call at a time, one day at a time. The key here is perseverance. When you accomplish a sub-task, praise yourself with positive self-talk.

Getting and staying sober has allowed me to persevere in countless situations, numerous times. It has allowed me to move forward with courage rather than being stuck in my fear. Heck, I just sent a letter, two actually, to Michelle Obama, inviting her to open a dialogue about her activities with the Vietnam vets. Talk about getting past fears! I needed information and our differences in roles in the world made no matter, as I was reaching out person-to-person, one human to the next.

The thing about getting sober is that, if you stick with it and persevere, you will reap so many emotional benefits in addition to conquering your fears. To conquer your fears, first list them out. Then write out what you think will happen in each given situation. Then write about what you want to be different and how that looks for you. See if the fears have lessened…

The thing about conquering fear is that, if you look it in the eye, acknowledge it, and then befriend it, just notice it, it lessens. How can you move forward in your life, despite fear? What is the one major thing you have been putting off, procrastinating, due to fear? I invite you to leave a comment.

 

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More Positive Effects From Sobriety

To echo yesterday’s topic, is sobriety worth it, let me tell you another story.

I spent a large number of years in great anger and bitterness over my upbringing. I was filled with self-pity over the shame and degradation that was done to my soul, my spirit. I lived as a victim, always justified in my victimhood.

And I was a victim. But what I learned in sobriety was to heal from the shame, the feelings of worthlessness, the anger and rage. In sobriety, I became willing to seek professional help for my mental difficulties, which led to the realization that I’d had PTSD all those years. That was one reason for the explosive anger. With EMDR treatment, it has lessened a great deal.

The other reason for my anger was just generalized rage against the folks. After several years of healing work, I stumbled across forgiveness. It came to me over time, little bit by little bit. The end result has been full forgiveness of my past, and even being able to see the purpose for my past. I discovered how to put it to good use.

I discovered that my life’s purpose is to help others learn to forgive, so that they, too, can experience the wonderful freedom that exists on the other side of forgiveness. Without the abuse in childhood, I would never have had to struggle with my anger and rage, and I would never have stumbled across forgiveness, which is something I can help others to find.

All of this is possible because of sobriety. I didn’t have a fighting chance to heal while I was still drinking because I was stuck in the victim role. I couldn’t see past my anger, my pity. Only in sobriety have I been able to do that.

You, too, can find healing and freedom from anger and rage, heartache and pity. It starts with your sobriety. Are you willing to take that journey? Let me know in the comments section…

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Not Sure Sobriety Is Worth It…

not sure sobriety is worth it”  was the search term from yesterday that caught my eye. So, I wanted to share with you a story about that, about B… a delightful 91 year old gentleman for whom I have the honor of being his caregiver. Wait till you hear about this amazing elderly man. He has so much spirit.

B… is this slight guy, stooped, about 5’5″ because of that stoop. Thin, with huge veins in his arms. I notice this because I used to be a nurse and did lab draws… drawing blood. I notice everyone’s veins in their arms… Anyway, B… lives alone in a 3 bedroom house with lots of plants throughout. Ah, a man of my own heart. I also have lots of plants in my home.

He spends a fair amount of his time looking for his cane, so he can take the food out to the deer family he feeds… a doe and her two growing fawns. They like lettuce and red cabbage, so we always make an extra trip to the grocery store that carries red cabbage. I drive his car and he doesn’t complain about my driving! What a bonus. In fact, he agrees with me that I’m a fairly good driver. No, a good driver.

Yesterday was my day to prepare meals for him, so I was cooking away while he was trying to fix the screen door on the door between the gagare and the kitchen. The little arm at the top of the door that holds it open was slipping and wouldn’t keep the screen door ajar. He tried for about an hour to get that to work, but to no avail.

The thing is, I was a witness to this elderly man, trying again and again and again. I was touched by his tenacity, his patience. It fits with his soft-spoken nature.

You may be wondering what B… and his kitchen door have to do with sobriety? Here it is. Unless I was sober, I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate B… and his door, or his deer. If I was still drinking, although not on the job, I would still be hung over for my shift from 1-4 pm. I would have been irritated to have to go to the extra grocery store… such a pain. Out of my way…

And I wouldn’t be able to fully appreciate this gentleman’s love of nature and the deer. I would have found it irritating to have to keep track of him while he was out there, on my watch. And I would have intervened yesterday with the door… wanting to get it fixed so he would stop fiddling on a lost cause.

Because I’m sober, I see everything differently, however. Instead of being irritated, I feel honored to be able to drive this man to the extra grocery store to support his efforts with the deer. I am able to be grateful for my job, for the honor, the delight, of witnessing this man and the actions of his heart.

I am able, as a sober person, to allow this 91-year-old to be as independent as possible, knowing he may fall, which he has outside while feeding them, cutting his elbow badly… twice. But I can offer him respect and trust in him as a person. Letting him maintain as much independence as possible.

Same for the door. I was able to respect his perseverance instead of getting irritated with it, taking delight in watching him continue to try and solve the problem. I didn’t have to step in and do it for him cause I was feeling insecure in myself. My self-confidence allowed me to have respect for him and his need to be active.

Not Sure Sobriety Is Worth It… well, for me, if I wasn’t sober I wouldn’t be experiencing these fabulous things with this elderly gentleman. I would have gathered myself into a huff, a snit, feeling put-upon. From my perspective, sobriety is absolutely worth it, if you wish to live a life of peace and happiness, awareness and caring for another… free from anger and bitterness. Sobriety is the first step to getting there…

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