I Wrote my First Blog Three Years Ago Today

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On this day three years ago, I started this blog. In my first post, I was only three days’ sober.

I knew everything about alcohol and the mental and physical devastation it causes, or so I thought. I’d read every sober memoir I could get my hands on. I’d been to AA, then quit, then gone back, then quit again.

I used to sit in the back of those AA meetings and hear people say that they had surrendered and just never looked back. It wasn’t like that for me. I never stopped looking back, wondering when I could drink again.

But now I see my long journey to sobriety as an invitation. I was being invited to decide, over and over again, that I deserved better than a life led by addiction. I was invited to experience the pain and heartbreak it causes until I decided I’d had enough. I was invited to see where I’d given away my power, and decide that it was time to take it back.

Ultimately, it was an invitation to love myself, no matter what the world told me, that finally helped me save my life. It was a decision made through the heart, and not the mind. It was a blind faith in my own worth, no matter what crazy thoughts spiraled through my brain.

That voice told me that I was only funny, attractive, or worthwhile after a few drinks. It told me that I would lose all my friends and be relegated to the dull side of life if I stopped drinking. It told me that I would never survive in stressful times without the anesthesia of drink. It told me life wasn’t worth living without the possibility of a drink at the end of every day.

It never told me, “This shit will kill you.”

So three years ago, I wrote my first blog. I hoped that by putting all that pain and confusion “out there,” it would go away. I didn’t succeed right off. It took me another month of false starts until one day, I drove myself to a mountaintop and began the long, sacred process of healing. With shaky steps, I started stringing together a few sober days.

I still marvel at the miracles that took hold of me and wouldn’t let me go. I invited them to travel with me because I knew I needed all the power of heaven and earth to make it. I knew I couldn’t do it alone.

This time around, I committed to listening only to my better angels. I refused thoughts of guilt and shame, and returned my thoughts to self-love, no matter how many times I stumbled. When thoughts of drinking rose in my mind, my mantra became I love myself too much to drink.  

And this thinking brought about more miracles. I forgave myself for the past, and let go of long-held grudges. And all that love I sent out returned to me — sometimes through gorgeous sunsets, sometimes through overpowering feelings of peace and wellbeing. And sometimes through the love and support of strangers who became friends, here in the blogging world.

Thank you from the deepest well of my heart.

💕

Love Yourself Now

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During one of my drinking days in one of the darkest periods of my life, I remember being crushed under the weight of guilt and shame because I had, once again, despite all of my resolve and great intentions, had too much to drink. I can’t remember what had triggered this awful state of mind … maybe I’d fought with one of my children or my ex-husband, but I felt completely defeated. I locked myself in my bedroom, and took out the journal I had hidden in the drawer of my bedside table.

As I lay on the bed, pouring my self-loathing onto the page, I suddenly felt the unmistakable presence of someone surrounding me with love … some wayward angel sent to comfort lost causes. But the feeling was powerful … much stronger than I’d felt before. The loving energy overwhelmed me, running through my mind and down into my hand holding the pen.

Love yourself now, the presence urged. I felt a wave of compassion wash over me, and I was overcome with the meaning behind the words.

Love yourself now, when you feel least worthy, when every indication from the outside world shows you that you are nothing, when you feel no one could love you in the condition you’re in, when you doubt that even God, if there is one, could forgive you for making such a mess of life — yours and those entrusted to your care.

Love yourself now.

Through the eyes of this incredible compassion, I saw myself as filled with light … as beautiful and as innocent as a child. I could see how wrong I was to ever judge myself as lacking or injured or inadequate or not enough. I was wrong to see myself as anything less than a perfect loving child of God.

I am here because I have been called. I am here because this is where I am supposed to be, and the only thing I need to do at this moment in time is to gently lift myself up, open my heart, and let the truth of who I am be received by me.

I’m only hurting myself.

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I am reposting this because I just read a blog where a man wrote, “but I’m only hurting myself, really.”

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“I’m only hurting myself.”

These are the words I used to justify drinking. In the sober light of day, and with a clear mind, I can see how twisted and deluded and tragic these words are. And completely untrue. They are the words of a sick mind, overtaken by alcohol. And alcohol will lie. It will train the mind to attack itself, like a cancer of the soul.

If “I’m only hurting myself” is true, then it has to follow that “I don’t matter.” Who cares if I hurt myself? It’s not like I’m the president or in charge of great things. I am just someone who drinks too much, and my life reflects that. Even if I can put up a good front, and my life looks OK from the outside, inside it’s chaos and depression and humiliation and regret. And who wants to save that?

The thought “I don’t matter” means the alcohol’s job is complete. Well almost. Because ultimately it wants you dead.

The thought of death didn’t really rattle me either when I was drinking heavily because it seemed to be a fitting end to what I came to believe was a wasted life. Maybe people would be better off if I died. And it would end the pain of life led by drink once and for all. Just like passing out and never waking up. Tragic, but fitting.

Alcohol causes suicidal thoughts. One-third of people who commit suicide have been drinking.

Alcohol says, “You are worthless.” But ultimately we don’t blame the alcohol. We blame ourselves.

How does that happen?

A young person, say you, goes out with a group of friends. You are a bit shy, unsure of yourself, like everyone is at this difficult age. You want these people to accept you, and think you’re cool. They drink, so you do too. And it works! You become someone else. You are so less inhibited. You tell jokes! You are funny, attractive, and free.

But then one time, you do something really stupid while drinking. Something completely out of character. If you are a young woman, maybe you sleep with someone — someone you had no intention of dating, much less sleeping with. If you’re a man, maybe you start a fight with one of your friends, and it gets really embarrassing, and you yell and cry in front of a group of people.

Or use the scenario of your choice. There are an infinite number of ways to suffer humiliation while drinking.

When you wake up the next day, you still have to go to school. But now, your self-esteem has suffered a horrible blow. You don’t want to see anyone. You’re not sure exactly what happened because you can’t remember, but you know it was bad.

You have just suffered the first of a series of blows that will keep occurring as long as you keep drinking. And your place in the world, what you think about yourself, what you try to believe is true will be devastated in ways both big and small, and they will take a huge toll on how you perceive your worth.

To face this new reality that has been created by alcohol, you have to drink. Then things don’t seem so bad. You can face people again — start anew, you think.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. You now have the perfect cycle for accelerating drinking. It is your best friend and your worst enemy.

But right from the start, you blame yourself for feelings and events that alcohol caused. You don’t think, “I drank a substance designed to lower inhibitions, incapacitate, and addict, and that substance took over my brain and caused x, y, and z to happen. I have learned from this. I blame the substance itself and I will never drink again.”

You blame yourself, like most victims of abuse. That is where the real devastation of alcohol lies. It tells you you’re worthless, and you believe it.

But it lies. Because the truth would stop you from drinking. The perfect trap can continue as long as your miserable life can last unless you start to examine your relationship with alcohol and decide you are worth saving.

Because that is the truth. You are worth saving. To feel this for yourself, you have strip away the years of drinking and everything that came with it. You have to forgive yourself and let it go, no matter what the voice of alcohol tells you, and remember you before you took that first drink. There you are … just a kid really. Shy, insecure, and hopeful for a wonderful future, ready for adventure. You have to take this child by the hand and remember that this is the real you. Worth loving. Worth saving. Worth anything you can do to ensure that you will honor that child by saving her life.

I love to read books about people who have gone beyond the thin veil that hides reality from us — people who have had near death experiences that come back completely changed. They assure us that we are magnificent spiritual beings despite any illusion of ourselves as being weak or guilty. Anita Moorjani, who was healed from a devastating cancer diagnosis, says this:

“One of the biggest lessons I learned from nearly dying of cancer is the importance of loving myself unconditionally. In fact, learning to love and accept myself unconditionally is what healed me and brought me back from the brink of death.”

Self love has also been the answer for me. Loving myself enough to save myself — no matter the cost, no matter how many times I have to try — has made all the difference in my quest to stop drinking. I no longer listen to the lies that alcohol still tells me. I listen to the truth — that voice of love and strength that I was born with and can never lose. I let that voice tells me who I am.

Love Yourself First

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A woman I was talking with this evening asked me what I would say to someone who is going through the same struggles I have. After I thought about it for few seconds, I said that I would want them to know that I recovered through self-love. But that seemed so trite, and wasn’t the whole answer. I wasn’t recommending that people go get manicures and take hot baths and plan little getaways. That’s self-care, which is important, but that’s really a sign that you already value yourself.

And because this woman has never struggled with addiction, I tried to clarify by talking about how addiction beats you down over time, making you feel worthless and out of control. You might appear OK on the surface, but your self-esteem takes a plunge every time you try and fail to control your drinking. And when you turn to the one substance that makes you feel better, you reinforce both the addiction and the negative feelings about yourself.

A few hours later, I was reading the blog of a woman who is struggling to quit drinking. She used the words I hear so often: “I hate myself.”

My first reaction was to think emphatically, “Don’t ever allow yourself to think that.”

Why did I react so strongly? My own mind used to be a dumping ground for thoughts like these. What’s different for me now is that I know thoughts have power. And ultimately, I am responsible for what I think.

What’s also changed is that through years of reading both spiritual and scientific books, I know that we live in a vibrational universe, and that like attracts like. What we see in the world is really a reflection of our inner state. Physicists are completely upending the way we thought the world worked. This is good news for us because we are no longer victims of the world, watching helplessly as stuff happens to us, but instead can take our rightful place in the driver’s seat. (I’m going to post a resource link for people who want to believe this but can’t quite get there. Experts can explain this far better than I could, especially in a few paragraphs. Of course, even if you don’t understand it, it still works. I don’t understand gravity, but that’s never stopped me from living by its laws.)

Back to sobriety …

If you think “I hate myself,” and don’t question or change that thought, you will draw toward you more reasons to hate yourself. You are the cause, and the world you see is the effect. So to allow this thought to rule your life will not lead you anywhere good.

So this is what I would say to someone struggling with addiction: LOVE YOURSELF NOW, wherever you are, even if that’s no place any sane person would want to be. Your self-love cannot be conditional. Change first your mind about yourself, then the world will reflect that new self-worth back to you.

Think about it … when friends and family gather around someone who’s addicted, trying to love them into sobriety, it only works if the person ACCEPTS that they have value. That they are worth saving. That’s why recovery is so baffling. You can tell someone all day long that they’re beloved, that they mean the world to you, that you see the perfect light of purity in them. You can beg them to see what you see, but they have to be willing to see it themselves.

So how do you go about loving yourself? A lot of spiritual teachers have you repeat the words, like an affirmation: I love myself. Or I am worth loving. You say the words, whether you mean them or not. Eventually, they will become more and more acceptable to you. The word themselves hold power because they’re true.

And you don’t have to believe in this to try it. It’s the only way to prove to yourself that it works.

Years ago, I read the book, The True Power of Water, by Dr. Masuru Emoto. In it, he shows through his research that crystals of water are changed to beautiful shapes just by having people pray over it. A single word can change the nature of water itself. After reading the book, I decided that if the body is mostly water, maybe my thinking the word Love would have the same effect. I didn’t really believe I would see a difference, but I was willing to try it anyway. Such is the power of desperation.

At first, I would just mentally say the word Love whenever a negative thought about myself arose in my mind. There was no reasoning involved. I just used Love as my mantra to blot out negative self-talk. I also used it when I had angry thoughts about other people or difficult situations. After a while, thinking or saying the word would have an immediate calming effect. It gradually stopped the chaotic, destructive thinking that had dominated my thoughts.

That was a first step in an ongoing process that has led to miraculous results. What I found out, over and over again, was that if I was willing to try to love myself, the universe stepped in to help. Suddenly, I attracted experiences that honored that self-love. Difficult relationships fell away, opening the path for healing and forgiveness. I found my lifetime partner. I treated myself gently when it took years to give up drinking completely.

I still get impatient and angry sometimes, but I can re-center myself with just one word. And I live in an almost constant state of appreciation for myself and the people around me.

You can live this way too.

Start now.

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The Heroes of Addiction

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What if, as I have been reading, life on earth is really just a classroom?

And what if only the hardiest souls choose to come to earth in the first place because of the turmoil and uncertainty they know they will face?

And what if, before you agreed to be born here, you got to choose what challenges you would face to guarantee the most dramatic advancement in your learning?

And what if, of the hardiest souls who come here at all, only the bravest choose to face the challenge of addiction?

And what if, having chosen to face this, all fell into place, as agreed upon, and you became addicted as planned, and not because you are weak and scattered and selfish?

And what if your addiction brought about the greatest possible learning experience for those around you because, like you, they chose to experience this time here, with you, and have learned immeasurably by watching you do battle with addiction?

And what if, just like in the movies, all the good guys in heaven and earth are put here to help the hero (you) overcome this addiction, and that all you have to do is reach out for help?

And what if, like in a good movie, you are guaranteed success? That you have already succeeded by accepting the challenge, because only the bravest of souls do?

And what if, as the hardiest of souls, agreeing to the hardiest of challenges, you are already a hero?

 

Here’s to you, my friend.

water toast cheers