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Posted by on in Alcoholism

As I sit in my weekly home-group meeting, I comb my fingers through my hair while listening to the chairperson tell a compelling story of resilience and gratitude. I look around the room at everyone's faces and see that they are all astonished at what the chairperson is revealing to his trusted support group. As I scan the room, my eyes end up at the spot on the table directly in front of me and I make a horrifying discovery. My hair is all over it! I wish I could say this is the first time that's happened...but it's not. Suddenly, I can no longer hear the chairperson speaking because the voice in my head is screaming "HOLY CRAP! I'M BALDING! BUT I LOVE MY HAIR! HOW CAN THIS BE HAPPENING TO ME?!" I scan the room again and realize that almost every single person has a great head of hair! I find one man, Bill, who is bald. Bill is much older than I am and the longer I stare at him, I start seeing my face on his body and hairless head! "That's me in 30 years!" I fearfully exclaim to myself. 

As I sink off into deep thought and lamentation, the thought process in my follicley challenged head goes as follows:

Why am I so panicked about my hair loss? Why do I find myself immediately creating resentments towards 99% of people in recovery that still have their head of hair in tact?

The answer to that question...Pride and Ego. I've spent my life so concerned with my outward appearance. Constantly exercising to tone my body, spending money on expensive clothes, and trying the newest hairstyle. My "outsides" mattered so much to me because if I looked good on the outside, maybe people won't notice who I am on the inside. While I was still in active addiction, my self esteem was all based on false principles. That went on for years and even though I've attained a number of years in recovery now, clearly, old habits die hard. 

During my time away from drugs and alcohol, I've learned what real self-esteem feels like. Evidence-based self esteem that I've earned from doing esteemable acts. I've learned to love myself and accept myself for who I am, and not for the fraudulent person I used to portray. I no longer have to hide behind materialistic concepts but, instead am free to expose my true self for I am no longer ashamed of the person I am today. With these lessons in mind, I come to the realization that my hair loss needn't matter much because it is not a fancy outfit or trendy haircut that defines me. What defines me are my actions, my efforts, and my intentions leaving anything else to just be an added bonus. False pride and ego have slowly faded and what I am left with makes me...

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

I'm sure that many of you can relate to coincidences like when you learn about a new word, you find that you hear it more, but when in reality it's just something new that has come into your awareness, it was really there all along.  This is of course something that happens to me often, but has certainly been my experience since I have been writing this blog, as it is now always in my awareness to look for opportunities for what to discuss next and they just keep popping into my life!

Working in the addiction field, and the job I have in particular, keeps me very focused but also very isolated.  Working in addiction also creates a sort of bubble, being that my clients are all trying to get out of their active addiction, my co-workers are all in recovery, and the doctors are addictionologists.  I had been in California for four or five years and didn’t realize that I was protecting myself in a way, by not branching out of my comfort zone.  So it wasn’t until about two years ago, that I started to go out to new places and interact with new people that have never struggled with an addiction.  (People that experience temporary stress instead of chronic anxiety are still a wonder to me!)

The benefit, however, of the bubble realization was that all of that prep work that I had been doing (working with a sponsor, doing the steps, going to multiple types of therapy to figure out the core issues as to why I was using inhalants, then working on those core issues) was in preparation for returning to the real world and all its challenges and this time having a more positive impact, on myself and on those around me, and it was time to use them!  The tools I have learned (especially emotional regulation, coping skills, and trigger identification) and the resources I have developed have been crucial in my relapse prevention, because life sure does throw me some curveballs and when I did come out of hiding, I found that some of my wreckage from my past was still there waiting for me.  I am definitely grateful that I was given the opportunity to have a second chance, to get to be the same person, but a better version.  By doing the footwork, it allows me to look at the same situations but have different reactions and therefore different outcomes than I would have in the past.

I feel that in order to be effective in communicating with people who are also struggling and/or looking for solutions or education, I need to write about things that truly affect me emotionally, because if what I'm writing doesn't induce some sort of feelings for me, how could it in someone else?  So full disclosure in the hopes that someone can relate and hopefully allowing me to be of service.

The reason that the ability to have different reactions that produce different and better outcomes is on my mind is due to some events that occurred in my week.  I felt discouraged this week for two reasons, and I feel like they have happened while I have volunteered to write this blog for a reason.  I am a person that falls victim to a certain type of mental trap, where your brain immediately jumps into negative thinking or disaster mode when you hear certain things that are not ideal.  In the treatment facilities I work with, we refer to it as addict brain.

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Tagged in: 10th tradition 12 step 12 step recovery AA abstinence accurate self-appraisal action program action steps addict addiction addiction help addiction memoir addiction recovery Addiction Specialist addictive behavior addicts affected affirmations Alcoholics Anonymous answers anxiety anxiety and recovery ask for help Asking for help attitude of gratitude awareness balance being a loving mirror being a loving person being of service Big Book Caring for those who still suffer co-addiction co-occurring disorder compassion courage dealing with a using loved one depression discomfort drug abuse drug addiction emotional management emotional maturity emotional regulation emotional sobriety emotions faith family recovery fear first step goal setting goals gratitude gratitude journey Guest Blogger guilt healing HELPING OTHERS higher self inadequacy inner satisfaction intervention inventory letting go Life Challenges life on life's terms literature memoir mental health mindfulness mindfulness and recovery Motivation My Story openness positive energy program of recovery recovery recovery talk relapse prevention Resilience right action right intention self care Self Love self-compassion self-confidence self-esteem self-help self-honesty serenity shame sobriety sponsor stepwork struggle substance abuse suffering suffering addicts Support surrender tenth tradition thinking thinking errors Trying to save a Life turn it over twelve step recovery twelve steps Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions twelve steps of aa twelve traditions twelve traditions of aa why i used drugs
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Posted by on in Gambling Addiction

"A Recovery Share"

Daily Prompt: Sink or Swim

Tell us about a time when you were left on your own, to fend for yourself in an overwhelming situation — on the job, at home, at school. What was the outcome?…..

*A TALE OF TWO WOMEN*~~ *ONE SANK, ONE COULD SWIM*

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Posted by on in Gambling Addiction

Hello Addictionland friends & new Visitor's,

I have shared parts 1 & 2 of "My Gambling Addiction" story done by MyAddiction.com Here now is parts 3 & 4 of my story.....

My Gambling Addiction: Lessons Learned (Part 3 of 4),

By Leanne Hall, Fri, September 27, 2013

In this exclusive interview with MyAddiction.com, Cathy Lyon shares her experiences with gambling addiction and recovery.

*What was your lowest point?*
After both stays in the recovery crisis center in November of 2002 and April of 2006, some of what I had NOT learned was how to actually "break down" the "cycle" of compulsive gambling, piece by piece, and understand – and how to use all of the recovery tools and skills to do that.
At the same time, after my release in 2006, the GA group I was attending was having some trouble within our group. People would gossip about others. We also didn't have many members who had good, solid or long "clean" time. Trusted servants were not "utilizing" all of the by-laws and guidelines from GA. There was no one willing to give up themselves to become sponsors to new members, and no Financial Pressure Relief group meetings were being held. I offered many times to help, and I did, but I couldn't do it all on my own! The reason it's so important, especially for new members, is that we come to GA so in debt and financially broken that we have NO idea where to start on taking our financial inventory.
I had always felt I never really got any financial relief most of my recovery, or trying in vain to stay in recovery, so much so that it lead to my third major event – and lowest point in my life! From April to the beginning of August in 2006, I'd really gotten a good foothold on a clean recovery, but life challenges and financial events turned all of that into a tailspin! Long story short, I had been cleaning homes to make a little money. I was cleaning a friend's home while she was on vacation, and I'd gone home one day for lunch, and my power was turned off! I checked the mail and had a shut-off notice from my gas and phone companies as well. That just put me in panic mode. Instead of working things out with my husband and figuring something out, my old habits and behaviors of my addiction took over. I got into that "have to fix this quick" mindset.

That's why, when you're in recovery, you also need to work on your old way of thinking and learn to solve life's challenges in a healthy way. I hadn't gotten that far in my new recovery. Even though I was not "in gambling action," I'd still used the old habits to try to deal with this financial crisis. I never had that "financial relief" like the GA combo-book had said we would when we stopped gambling. So I did the unthinkable and stole from my friend! When she got back, I could have told her, but I could not bring myself to do it. Just when I got my nerve up to do it, it was too late; she had already called the police. They showed up at my home, asked me about what had happened, arrested me, and off to jail I went. She wanted to press charges against me to learn a lesson.

Needless to say, I did – the hard way. I had a few court dates to go to with a public defender. I was just going to plead guilty; I had to be accountable for the poor choices I had made. This was not only the lowest point in my life, I was so humiliated; people seeing me handcuffed and put into a police car. And if that was not enough, I live in a small town, so of course there was my name in the local newspaper with what I'd done! There went my reputation. All NOT because I was gambling, but worse (and dumb) because I stole from somebody to try to solve my financial problems.
So please learn from me: Make sure you work on all areas of your recovery! I had to learn the hard way. I will say this: Even though I'd not gambled when all of this happened, I still consider the last day that I gambled as Jan. 29, 2007 – my last/sentencing court date. It is my constant reminder of the lowest point in my life....

My Gambling Addiction: Recovery and Life After Gambling (Part 4 of 4)

By Leanne Hall, Mon, September 30, 2013

In this exclusive interview with MyAddiction.com, Cathy Lyon shares her experiences with gambling addiction and recovery.

*Who helped you the most in your recovery?*

An "angel" came to my rescue when I was going through the legal process of my theft conviction. His name is Boyd Sherbourne, PsyD. At the time, he was an Addictions PsyD from the crisis center I was admitted to. Since the friend I'd stole from was also in my treatment program, they were going to kick me out of the program. I'd never met Boyd, but a little problem came up with my husband and my treatment councilor, and Boyd overheard them heatedly talking and asked my husband if he could talk with him in his office. He helped and talked with my husband for a while (while I was still in jail waiting to be processed and released). Boyd told him what had happened and also explained to my husband most likely why I did what I'd done due to financial stress, even though I was not gambling.

Then a few days went by, and Boyd called me on his own even though he didn't know me. It was a God intervention moment. He asked if I was willing to meet with him, so I did. He wanted to help me with support and teach me how to not only breakdown the "cycle" but also learn better ways of handling life challenges in recovery. He taught me how to change the unhealthy, lingering habits and behaviors of addiction. I thank God every day for Boyd taking me on, and he did it a whole year! I can never repay him for helping me get my life back and save my marriage. He helped me stay on a healthy, clean, balanced recovery.

*What advice do you have for other compulsive gamblers?*

We are truly blessed that we live in a world with wonderful technology, and it has turned the recovery process around! For those of you who gamble but are not sure whether you have a problem, you can take the "20 Questions" quiz on the Gamblers Anonymous website. If you answer those questions honestly, you'll know if you're a problem gambler. The Internet has provided "safe and secure" websites for recovery help. There are places with live chat rooms 24 hours a day, on-line meetings, free treatment and therapy. A support group is vitial to a balanced recovery plan. I attend Gamblers Anonymous meetings, of course, but Safe Harbor compulsive gambling hub is another great support community! They offer online meetings, 24/7 live chat rooms and a fantastic "Resource Recovery Room," which includes the "top compulsive gambling recovery sites."

There you will find the top 100 recovery sites on the web, which is how I found this great site, MyAddiction.com. I believe that in order to have a well-balanced recovery, you also need to have a "spiritual" well-being. We reach out for help with such broken spirits, souls and hearts. Not everyone has faith per say. But I do believe in a power greater than myself has helped me return to sanity from the insane, cunning addiction of compulsive gambling. My own quote, which I say all the time, is, "Addiction and recovery have only one thing in common: They are both selfish!" We are very selfish when we are in the depths of our gambling addiction. And you have to be selfish and put yourself first in your recovery in order to be successful! Just remember: No one person on this Earth is perfect. We are all a wrok in progress.

*What are your favorite activities now that you don't gamble?*

I enjoy so many things now that I have not placed a bet in six years. It's like I shared before, having a well-balanced recovery is important. There are activities that I feel are vital to my recovery which keep me from getting too complacent. I enjoy writing, and I love to read all kinds of books. Now that I'm a published author, I have met so many great writers and authors (even a few famous ones!) who have really helped me develop as a writer – along with some good book clubs. I love to cook, and I love gardening (growing flowers mostly). I also enjoy volunteer work; it really helped me fill a lot of the free time I had.

I've been unable to work outside the home for the past few years due to some health issues and the medications I take for my bipolar II, panic and agoraphobia disorders. My husband and I enjoy the first Friday art walk each month in our community, which helps me to get out. In the Summer, we like to river raft and hike on my good days.I have my blog in which I'm able to "visit" with new friends I've made in recovery. I use the Gamblers Anonymous blue and red books daily. I write in my journal daily. I attend online 12-step meetings. I read and post daily on Safe Harbor and still go to some GA meetings as well. I've also started writing my second & third books.

*My Mission today through my Book, and my New Recovery Blog: http://CatherineLyonaddictedtodimes.wordpress.com I invite anyone who may need Support and Recovery Resources from Compulsive Addicted Gambling. I continue my On-Line Journel of my story*......
**Thanks for taking time to read *My Story* and visiting me here on *Addictionland**

Warm Regards & Blessings,Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon

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