The Benefits of Sobriety

Good morning to each of you. I neglected to post yesterday; it was another day that got off and running and I was running all day. These types of days are becoming more and more prevalent. That’s a good thing…  This morning’s search term that I am so fond of was “what are the good things you get from sobriety?” Ah, a topic that is near and dear to my heart.

When I think that I was severely hung over every day for seven years, and somewhat less severely for the preceding 20, it is a wonder that was not a deterrent for my excessive and massive consumption of alcohol! But it wasn’t. So, the most obvious and initial positive effect of sobriety is the lack of hang-overs. It’s glorious to wake up and be clear, no headache. Try it. It’s wonderful!

But the most positive effect from sobriety that you will enjoy is the healing of wounds, healing of emotional pain. This alone makes sobriety well worth it.

While working through those wounds, it will feel like sobriety is not worth it, that you were better off when you were drinking. But consider, sticking through the rough times in sobriety can reap you a reward so indescribably wonderful, I urge you to keep at it. When difficult emotions surface, which they will, think about how your sobriety will reap a big pay off soon.

Be with your emotions; let them flow through you. Allow them to be felt, which will allow them to move through you more quickly. Take note of the joy interspersed among the tough feelings, and look forward to the point when that joy returns, for it will.

When you discover emotional sobriety, you will know it in an instant. You will feel a tremendous calm settle over you. You will have a deep knowingness of peace and understanding of yourself and others. You will know you have arrived in a new dimension.

So, is sobriety worth it? Yes, without a doubt. Leave a message and share your experiences with the wonderful feeling of sobriety. We’d love to hear from you!

 

 

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What Is It Like to Be Sober When You’re Hurting?

Good morning to each of you, and the day is long past dawn. It is bright and clear in the northern San Francisco Bay Area, and I am loving this weather!

Yesterday, I spoke of what it was like to be sober and I talked about all the positives. What about when it gets tough? You see, it does get tough. It’s not all a picnic. So, that’s what I want to talk about today… what to do when being sober is tough.

The thing about being sober is, you begin to feel your feelings. For years, perhaps, you have numbed them out, and suddenly your numbing agent is gone. The length of time for the difficult emotions to emerge will vary in the time it takes for them to appear and in intensity, depending on the depth of your pain.

For me, I was on a pink cloud, feeling wonderful, for about 6 months before the difficult emotions really hit me, and I mean REALLY hit me. Although, during that 6 months, I was still grieving the loss of an unrequited love, the thing which had led me to my bottom in the first place, when all I could do for several months was drink and cry. So, I was dealing with those feelings of rejection and even thoough I felt grand being sober, those feelings were hovering in the background.

I’m referring to the feelings that were buried deep inside, the ones of rejection from when I was a child, the feelings of worthlessness, shame, and despair that I carried throughout my childhood and then for most of my adulthood until I was 48, which was when I got sober. It was a bottomless well, a deep crevice and I felt like I had fallen off of a cliff many days.

How did I deal with it, you may ask, so you know how to deal with it when those feelings, or similar ones, come upon you? First and foremost, I resolved never to drink, although there were times in the course of my sobriety when I would yell, “Being sober is not better than when I was drinking!” Nonetheless, I kept holding on to my sobriety, I kept sober, and discovered that being sober was absolutely worth it! How did I do that?

I went to 4 or 5 support group meetings a a day for the first one and a half years of being sober. Every morning, I started my day with a brisk walk, followed by writing in a journal with my left, non-doiminant hand. I printed, actually. All sorts of deep feeliings flowed onto the page and I was able to have them to look at, to experience them. My writing helped me work through those feelings.

Plus, I talked to people a lot about those feelings that came up. And then, I read spiritual books voraciously. Oriah Mountain Dreamer’s The Invitation, The Dance, and The Call, Iyanla VanZant’s Until Today, Yesterday I Cried, and One Day My Soul Just Opened Up, Melody Beattie’s books on co-dependency – I forget the titles.

Later in sobriety, when I was facing the pain caused by my child abuse, I read all of Claudia Black’s books, It Will Never Happen to Me was a big one that helped me get through my feelings.

The point is, and this post is getting long so I will end with this, allow your feelings to come up and find some way to cope with them. It is okay to distract yourself at times, with healthy activities, such as reading, exercising, writing, yet you need to face the difficult emotions and feel them. The only way past difficult emotions is to go through them. The only way out is through… Stick with it, hang in there, get counseling if needed. Ah, that’s something else I did that was paramount.

Just remember, the end result is happiness and joy, peace and freedom, like you have never experienced before. Trust me on this. Just stay sober, and don’t pick up that first drink. I wish you well on your journey.

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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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Emotional Crying the First Two Weeks of Sobriety

Once again, I wish you each a good morning. May the day hold for you great beauty and love.

I was struck by the search term “emotional crying the first two weeks of sobriety” and will talk about the emotions that hit you in sobriety. And hit you they do, as you suddenly find yourself without the blanket, the numbing effect of alcohol. Suddenly, when you are befallen with anger, hurt, or sorrow, for example, you are doomed to feel it. And it is difficult. It hurts.

You have spent many years, perhaps, taking the edge off, taking the sting out of your emotions, and suddenly there is no veil, nothing for you to fall back upon. So feel you must, and when you’re in it, it feels endless. Maybe even hopeless. But there is one thing to keep in mind – your emotions are surfacing so that you can heal from them. 

That’s right. The past sorrow, grief, sadness, hurt, despair, hopelessness, all are being raised for you to heal from. The first step in that healing process is feeling the feelings. Just stick with it and don’t drink, no matter what. Here are some things you can do instead:

* do brief bursts of exercise. Walking briskly for 15 minutes is a good release.

* call someone and talk to them about what you are feeling. Don’t keep it bottled up. Let it out. Cry as you must.

* write, journal, with your non-dominant hand. All sorts of deep feelings will flow onto the page; continue to write, even as you cry, for it is all cathartic.

I found the writing to be especially useful, as I moved more quickly through my emotions than when I was not writing. In fact, research has shown that when the “other” side of the brain is used, the side we’re not used to using, great creativity flows forth. This was the case for me. Seventy-five percent of the verses in my book, Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing, came from my journals that I wrote with my “other” hand.

The thing about crying is that it cleanses the soul. Allow the tears to flow. Have support systems in place. Mostly, know that it DOES get better. The depth of your pain is equal to the depth of the joy you will experience. Just keep maintaining your sobriety.

If you are struggling with your feelings, please feel free to comment about where you are stuck. I will answer all comments.

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Seven Effects of Sobriety

Good morning to each of you! May your day be filled with goodness and peace inside. Today’s search term I chose is “effects of sobriety,” because it is my 12 year birthday today. Twelve years ago today began my amazingly joyful and sometimes excruciatingly painful journey into sobriety.

And regardless of what I was experiencing, I didn’t drink – no matter what. You can do that, too. Do you want a new life, better than any you’ve ever experienced? Then stick with it – no matter what.

You will find the journey more than worthwhile. You will find it very powerful, very healing, very awesome. The journey is all of these things and more.  Some days, it is negative and extremely painful as you look at past experiences. Know that the experience and pain are being brought forth for your healing. Stick with it. Don’t drink – no matter what. It WILL get better!

So, let’s look at some of the effects of sobriety. I have spoken about these before from a different viewpoint…. today I present the end effect one might experience from sobriety.

1. You will begin to feel more self-respect when you don’t wake up all hung over, drooling puking, barely able to function as a human being. Imagine… waking up refreshed, able to get out of bed and function right away. Well, maybe after coffee. lol Seriously, waking up without a hangover did a work of good for my self-respect.

2. As you move through sobriety, you will begin to feel release from old wounds, old haunts, as you heal from the inside out. In addition to help from an alcohol support group, I needed private therapy help. I recommend this if you need it, as it will speed your recovery from old wounds much more quickly.

3. Your self-esteem and self-love will grow as you continue on this journey called sobriety. You will feel good about yourself for staying sober, and your esteem will grow as a result. The healing work you do will help you learn to love yourself; you will forgive yourself, and your self-love will grow even further.

4. You will feel true caring about the people around you. With your new-found sobriety, you will really care at a deep level for those who enter or are in your daily life. Yu will see others with compassion, see them as fallible human beings, and you will be able to forgive them their transgressions.

5. The blaming and self-pity you feel will diminish as you become more accountable for yourself and your feelings.

6. You will be able to see the world with new eyes… Gratitude for all your experiences, whether positive or negative, will fill you up and it will spill out to others.

7. And finally, you will wish to be of service to others rather than stay stuck in yourself and your woes, rather than blame others and feel self-pity.  Because of that, you will feel freedom in your soul. It will soar, as will you!

The possibilities are endless if you maintain your sobriety! My hope for each of you reading this is that you do, indeed, try sobriety, and succeed at it. Speaking from experience, 12 years of it, I can honestly say that the  journey is so well worth it. At last, I found happiness and peace. May you do the same.

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Seven Things You Can Do to Strengthen Your Sobriety Today

Good morning to each of you! I hope for you a wonderful day, a wonderful week! : ) I liked the search term “things I can do to strengthen my sobriety,” so that is what I chose to address this morning. This applies to you even if you are not a sober person, i.e., even if you do not have a drinking problem.

The following are some suggestions of things you can do to strengthen your sobriety:

1. Write, print, every day in a journal with your non-dominant hand, even if for only 15 minutes every morning. If you are right-handed, print with your left. You will find that all sorts of deep emotions will flow forth onto the page. This is especially useful if you are “stuck,” having difficulty with your emotions and moving forward because of them.

2. Take a brisk walk a few times a day, even for 5 minutes. This gets your blood flowing, which gets more oxygen to your brain. It also helps the flow of endorphins to your brain, which is the feel-good chemical.

3. Get in the habit of doing an on-going self-appraisal, also known as a self-assessment, of your thoughts, words, and actions. This will keep you on track internally, in your thought-life, as well as keep a watch over how you treat others. If you are not acting in kind, tolerant respectful, and loving ways to others and yourself, you can change that behavior throughout the day.

4. Be gentle with yourself. All the harshness and having unrealistic expectations of yourself will not move you forward in life, will not help your sobriety. Instead, when you are not gentle, when you have unrealistic expectations of yourself, you set yourself up to fail, to be in angst.

5. Begin to see others that are irritating to you as wounded people, struggling inside of themselves. Perhaps they endured abuse when they were growing up, or later in a marriage, and they have not yet worked through those feelings. Perhaps they never WILL work through those feelings, and you can see them as a wounded person. You can have compassion for them.

6. Forgive those who have wronged you. Take #5 above and apply it to those who have wronged you. Understand that by forgiving, you will set yourself free, and you will find peace from that forgiveness. Know that forgiveness does not mean you condone what was done – it just means you forgive them their transgression. Know that it is you who you are taking off the hook, so you don’t continue to live with poison in your psyche, in your heart.

7. Learn to forgive yourself for all the wrongs you have committed against yourself and to others. See yourself as wounded yourself, and cut yourself some slack. This does not mean that you are off-the-hook and not responsible for your actions and behaviors; you are. But you can see yourself as a fallible human being, and can learn from your mistakes. From that introspection, you can grow. Use your mistakes as learning experiences.

These seven things are things you can do right now, so start in on them. If you do, you will find your thought-life and external life will be more calm and peaceful, more fulfilling and richer.

What one thing are you going to do today to strengthen your sobriety? Leave a comment and share with us what that one thing is. We’d love to share in your growth. 🙂

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What to Do When You Despair

Good morning all! I am back on a brand new computer and will not be having crashes any more! Yay!! Thank each of you for continuing to visit while I was down, and my computer was at camp, getting new data imported from the dying one.

Face of Despair

I am drawn to the search term “what to do when you despair,” and would like to offer  the image to the left to depict our wail when we are in despair. Do you see the face, the mouth opened in an utter wail? The hands covering the eyes, hiding tears being shed? This image is from my book Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing, which is available for purchase online under the “products” tab.

Ah, if you are in a place of despair, I feel with all my heart for your situation, having been there myself many times in the past. It is a place of utter pain, of inability to move forward… a place where one feels hopeless, feels that things cannot get better. For me, it was a place of giving up. It was the time that I start praying to God to let me die, because I was too afraid to kill myself, afraid I wold fail in the effort.

What do we do when we are in despair? Well, what worked for me was to discover a way in which I could use my despair to be useful to another person. It happened quite by accident, actually. I heard a man share at a meeting of my alcohol recovery support group, and he was suffering form the same despair I was feeling.

So, I went up to him and offered him the names of books I had read which were comforting to me, and I offered him the name of my therapist. He was so grateful, he almost started crying. After that happened, while I was walking to my car, I realized the things I was despairing about were the things which had been useful to him.

I had been of service to another simply by sharing of my despair and what I’d discovered that was comforting, even though this comfort did not sustain me. I suddenly realized that by taking action and sharing of the few simple things I had done, I was useful and in doing so, I felt worthwhile.

Boy, I suddenly had a purpose for my life… to share my story and small solutions with others so that they, too, could find comfort in small things. My despair left me at that moment of realization and it has never returned. That was in 2007.

So, what can you do when you despair? Well, take action. Any small step you can do to help another human being will do and you will begiin to see your life has a purpose, that YOU have a purpose! All it takes is a small revelation you have discovered. If you think hard enough about it, you will likely find one such comforting thing you have discovered and you can share it with another.

What action can you take today to be of service to another, based on one comforting thing you have learned? Have you read a book that was useful to you, or had a revelation about something in your life that brought you joy? Share that with someone else who is in despair and I almost guarantee you you will feel better about things. Allow that to be your “aha!” moment, when you can be useful to another.

What was your aha! moment that you shared with another? Leave a comment and share it with us.

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Effects of Sobriety

Good morning to all, in the wee hours of the morning! I popped awake at 3:30 am and here I am, an hour later. I hope you each have a blessed day.

There are two search terms that I am going to address today and they are the “effects of sobriety” and “why am I so hostile in my sobriety two years later?”

I have written many time about the positive effects of sobriety and I love this topic because I love my sobriety and love being able to let others know what they might experience if they get sober. I see sobriety as the greatest gift I and the Universe have ever given to me.

But first, let’s address the question of why hostility has shown up for someone. First of all, I would like to commend whomever it was that wrote that, as it indicates a true looking at themselves and their behavior. So, good for you!

That said, it takes a while for the alcohol to get out of our system and for the brain to clear. That may take a year or two for this to occur.

Then, we are often on that “pink cloud” of feeling good about ourselves and the world, and that can last for a few months to about a year. After that time, we may begin to really feel our feelings and old experiences and feelings come up. I, for example, had bad feelings come up at age 3 years of sobriety, over my violent upbringing.

Not having alcohol to numb these feelings, I had to feel them and they were of rage – huge anger – at my parents. It took a year or two to work through these feelings until I could allow them back into my life. You see, I basically was very hostile toward them and kept them at an arm’s length. That did pass as I continued to stay sober and to work through my feelings.

So, it is not uncommon for hostility to occur throughout the course of sobriety as our feeliings come up and we have nothing to numb them with.

Now, about the effects of sobriety… the first thing I noticed was the freedom from hangovers and that was glorious. Then, after a time, I discovered that the practice of looking at myself and assessing my positive and negative behaviors, and then taking responsibility for my negative behaviors, was the biggest gift I received from sobriety.

Being able to look at myself led to the start of me being responsible for myself, totally. This meant being responsible for my feelings also. So, what happened was, I stopped blaming others for my feelings and my unhappiness. I began to see those as my responsibility to manage and to find.

I stopped playing the victim, stopped being filled with self-pity. And I’ll tell you all, being able to do those things has led me to an incredible peace, freedom, and great joy of life. And it all stemmed from learning to look at myself and hold myself accountable. And THAT is the BEST effect of sobriety!

What are some of the effects you notice from sobriety, or are you struggling with finding a good effect? Leave a comment and let us know how it is going for you.

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The Effects of Sobriety

Good morning to you all. Today I am going to address the effects of sobriety. I actually started this yesterday and the day got away from me…

What I will write here is an accounting of the effects I have gained from my sobriety. There is no guarantee you will experience all of these things, but chances are high that you will, if you maintain your sobriety and continue to make improvements in your life and with yourself.

The first and foremost effect of sobriety was the lack of hangovers. For seven years, I had experienced such horrific hangovers that the next day, I could not function till 3 or 4 pm. I did that every day for seven years… So, to awaken without a hangover was glorious and only improved over time as more and more alcohol was cleared from my system.

Then, the next effect of my sobriety was the disappearance of the sharp, stabbing pain I had been feeling in the area of my liver for 1-2 years. Later blood work revealed I did not have liver damage, so I am fortunate.

With sobriety came the feeling of feelings I had numbed for 26 years, and that was painful. Even though they were extremely difficult at times, the benefits of that were numerous. I was in so much pain that I had to journal every day which got my feelings out more quickly than anything I could have done. Also, by journaling with my non-dominant hand, even deeper feelings surfaced. Try it; it works!

Another benefit from the emotional pain was I was hurting so badly, I accepted help from a psychiatrist and a therapist. They diagnosed me with major clinical depression, PTSD, and panic disorder, and recommended I take medication, which I agreed to do. That has made my world manageable and put me at the same level emotionally that someone without those diagnoses enjoys.

Also, accepting help from the therapist helped me get through the pain more quickly, as she knew where to guide me. I looked for someone well-versed in the issues faced by an alcoholic, as well as with issues faced by children of alcoholic and abusive parents (ACA). We have a specific set of obstacles to overcome, you see, accessible by getting involved in a group that deals with ACA issues.

Over time in sobriety, my relationships improved immensely. I learned not to look to others to make me happy, which took the burden off of them. I learned to look at my own behavior instead of blaming others when things did not go the way I wanted or needed.

This is the biggest, single-most reason for my peace and freedom, in addition to learning how to forgive my parents for my upbringing. It’s huge, in fact, learning to look at our behavior, our actions, the ways in which we treat others and what’s behind that treatment or behavior, goes a long, long way to improve relations with others. Finally, I learned in sobriety to apologize for my bad behavior, to be humble instead of ashamed.

All of these things are the effects, the rewards, of my sobriety. I hope, if you elect the course of living sober, that you, too, experience them. May you discover in sobriety the great peace and freedom that I have discovered.

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What Is Honesty?

Good morning, all, and may this be a day of great peace for you. The search term that I am going to write about today is honesty, what is honesty. When practiced, honesty brings peace and freedom to us.

Webster defines honesty as that which will not lie, cheat, or steal. That’s how I used to define honesty. Then, when I got sober, I learned an expanded version of it, which is included in Webster’s definition as free from deceit, being genuine and pure.

It is the latter that I wish to expound upon today. You see, we can be dishonest about who we are as a person, how we present ourselves to others. That’s what I did all my life… be deceitful in the sense that I pretended to be what I was not. I pretended that all was okay, for example, that I liked something, for example, when I didn’t.

Honesty pertains to portraying to people what we really are inside, letting people see our tender and vulnerable side. It also means looking with honesty at our actions, our behaviors. Let me talk a little more about this.

Most of us don’t like to admit our foibles, our faults, our poor behavior and actions. Yet, we all have these, all do these at one time or another because we are human and that’s just what we do. Honesty means admitting to ourselves and to others when we have poor or bad behavior, when we have done something to hurt another.

But when we admit to our wrong-doings, the freedom we feel is incredible, and then the peace comes. First we must admit to ourselves our poor behavior. I, for example, have a love of Haagen-Dazs chocolate and chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.

One day, as I was slowly savoring some chocolate, I remembered how my ex-husband used to also love it, the chocolate, and I refused for it to be in the house because it was too expensive, even though we could have afforded it. Wow, what a realization. I felt somewhat ashamed to have placed that restraint on him and his likes, how I curtained a simple joy of his. As I do not have contact with him anymore, I could not bring that up to him, acknowledge it, and apologize.

Instead, I began to see how my selfishness at the time kicked into play, how it curtailed him some joy in life. I shook my head in sadness for him, for me, for all the times my selfishness hurt another, and was glad I can realize my self-centeredness today, so I can keep it in check.

That is an example of practicing honesty with myself. I had to admit to myself something I was ashamed I had done, realized why, and now can resolve to watch for that in my further dealings with others. I am willing to admit it to him also, if I had contact with him. So, not only do we look with honesty at our actions and behavior, we want to admit it to the one upon whom we have displayed our not-so-hot behavior. That is where the freedom and peace lie.

How do you practice honesty in your life? Do you admit to yourself your poor and bad behavior, taking responsibility for it by first admitting it to yourself and then to the other involved person? This is a good question to answer in a writing exercise.

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