Friday, July 9, 2010

Veering Off Course

Hey everyone! Em asked if I'd Guest Post today, so here I am, better late than never!

As some of you have noticed, I haven't been commenting much lately...well, at least not as much as I normally do. The reason for this is that I was slacking in my program of recovery...I veered off course and finally just got back on course today. I have FINALLY realized that all those that told me that "drinking is just a symptom of alcoholism" aren't really crazy after all! I finally got it! And I feel very grateful to have finally come to terms with it. My little journey "off course" did not have anything to do with alcohol at all. It was more of a mental/emotional thing. It was something like, "I had to see my dark side before I could change it, kind of thing". They say that when we can see ourselves clearly, we can stop our dark side from causing trouble. dark side was causing me some trouble, I saw it (eventually, it took me a couple of weeks), I changed it and now I'm gonna do everything in my power & with God's Will for me to keep that dark side at bay and ALWAYS try to do the next right thing!

Since getting sober in Dec. '09, I always thought, "I'm good to go as long as I'm not drinking!"...that's not the case for me. I have come to find many, many character defects within myself that make me an alcoholic w/out even drinking. I call them "addictive behaviors"'s like even though you're not drinking, you're chasing some type of "high" or "buzz" in some way, shape or form other than alcohol or drugs. It's kind of hard to explain, but my answer has been right in front of me all along as my therapist reminded me today.....turn it over to God, forgive yourself, make your amends by living life on life's terms, work your program, talk with other alcoholics, pray, then pray some more. Stay in the moment and quit being an adrenaline junkie! Just keep life simple - that's what I plan to do.

I know some of you are working on sobriety alone or together with a friend and no program. That's fine - I'm still 100% supportive of you & super hopeful that you can achieve sobriety. That's one thing I tried in vain for years and was unable to I know why....there's soooo much more to alcoholism than just drinking. So for those of you getting sober alone or with a friend...just remember, if you hit a roadblock like the one I recently hit, and come to find that your "not drinking" is not your only issue, there are numerous recovery groups that can help. I'm grateful today to have my awesomely rad therapist who can kick my butt when I need it, but to also be soft, gentle & loving when I need it as well (like today).

Wishing you all a safe & sober July weekend!



  1. Hi Annette. Very good topic! And oh, so very true. Alcoholism is so complex. Alcohol is just a symptom and we can have alcoholic behaviors without drinking. I struggle with depression. It is much more manageable due to a research study I'm in which is Deep Brain Stimulation for depression. I have a neurostimulator in my chest and electrodes in my brain that shock the pre-frontal cortex of my brain, which is the area of the brain responsible for depression and mental disorders. What a life saver it has been. Not FDA approved yet, but hopefully in the next few years. That's a bit off the topic but I was sharing with struggling with my depression and how that can be very dark and really mess up my thinking and it can get me stuck. We can't change things that we don't acknowledge, or things that we don't even know are hindering us until it is brought to our attention. And I have always been an adrenaline junkie myself and have struggled with different addictive behaviors that don't involve substances. If we can become addicted to alcohol/drugs, we have to be very careful, because that pretty much means that we can become addicted to anything that brings us pleasure or fulfillment. It is a crazy disease. We definitely have to stay on top of it, because it is sneaky.
    It is nice that there are different avenues to take re: sobriety, but I just knew that I needed more than what AA had to offer me, at least initially. I had some deep-seeded pain that was the root of my addiction. I had to work through that pain and I got a start on it while in outpatient, and then eventually, inpatient rehab. I was very involved in AA/NA for a good 3-4 years after receiving treatment and it was a wonderful support system, I had accountability, and I had a sponsor guiding me as I worked the program. I, personally, don't think I could've done it with AA/NA alone. I still see a therapist and have for the last 15 years. I saw one as a child for a few months to help me through some grief, but it was through the school system I was in and I don't think it helped, obviously. Sobriety is not meant to be done alone and I am with you in that there may come a time where someone may need more help and support than just having a friend to help them through, just because it can be so complex. Thank you for sharing. Congrats on your sobriety. Keep up the hard work, because as we know, it isn't easy. It's a sneaky disease.
    You have a wonderful sober-free weekend too!

  2. Annette, great post!! I am sure a lot of people reading this blog can learn from both you and Amanda's comments. I know I sometimes I need to let things out that I keep bottled up, it does help so much and AA is a great resource for support in a group setting and even one on one, but if people are struggling, which I think we all do or will, it is best to seek a professional. I talked to a therapist years ago when I was going through my divorce, she was amazing and when I moved 5 hours away she still helped me once a month on phone calls. I thought I need to get someone for some face time, but the women I chose was not really remembering why I was seeing her, I told her I had an alcohol problem and personal issues, she forgot everything, my drinking, my mother having cancer, my husbands depression. I used to go drink after I saw her!! Finding the right fit for you is so important. I actually got in tough with my therapist from years ago when I started AA, she also is an addict, I asked if she still took phone clients. So I think I may start talking to her again. It is so important to have our feelings heard!!! Most of us are women, we take on other peoples problems and try to take care of everyone, but sometimes we forget that if we don't care for ourselves, we can't help anyone!!!

    Have a great night everyone, thanks again Annette!!

  3. Hi, Annette --

    I don't understand what you mean about there is so much more to alcoholism than drinking, and I've read your post several times (as well as the comments that follow). Maybe I'm new at this, or maybe my affliction is different.

    Can you try to explain it again?


  4. Hi Guys! Beautiful post Annette! Drinking is but a sympton of this disease... that's why there's 12 steps and not just 1. Happy Friday Everyone!

  5. What I'm talking about is being an alcoholic means for me not only drinking too much, but many other "personal characteristics" that, to me, are part of my alcoholism. And recently, even tho I haven't had a drink in almost 7 months now, I recently found myself being manipulative, deceitful, selfish, egotistic....these are not good attributes to display - whether working a program of recovery or not. Since I am in a program of recovery and have been veering off course lately with it...and then notice in addition to not getting to meetings, and working my program, I begin to notice that I'm trying to be something that I'm not...and I'm doing so while being all of those negative things above....if I hadn't recognized this & talked to my therapist immediately, she told me the next step would have been that I would have drank over it...and I think she is right. I was not drinking, but I was acting selfish, egotistical, etc. like back when I was drinking...if I continued to act in this way, I honestly do think I would have eventually started drinking again. Hope this helps a bit - it's kind of hard to explain in typed words. Hopefully some of you with a bit more sobriety & time in the program can help me out here. For me, I call it "addictive behaviors" - while being egotistical, selfish, etc., I'm doing so in search of some type of personal satisfaction....sometimes at the expense of others. Help me out here peeps...this is a difficult one to write about!

    P.S. I sent my letter to the editor at People mag today - how bout ya'll??? Let's get Em another story!

  6. Hi, Annette --

    I sent an e-mail to the editor at People magazine two days ago; I really think they should do a follow-up story! Emily's helped so many and with a little more exposure, I'm sure even more could be helped.


  7. Hi Annette,

    I am gloriously watching my 26 year old daughter become sober. I thank God everyday for her realizing she could not do it alone and no matter what I said or did made a differance. Addicts need the support of other addicts because they understand eachother the best. They have walked in eachothers shoes. Instead of ALANON I choose to read Emilyism everyday. My daughter goes to about 6 meetings a week and needs it and loves going. We are all addicted to something or another. Some addictions are just not as dangerous or harmfull. Thank you for your support.

  8. Anonymous, your a wonderful mother, thank you for supporting your daughter and trying to understand where she is coming from. She is lucky to have you in her life and I am sure she really is thankful for you!!

  9. I will take a stab at "There is more to alcoholism than drinking," even though I think you, Annette, did a fine job in explaining what you meant. It is very hard to explain. I don't know if I can do any better and what I have to share may be repetitive in some ways. Alcoholism/addiction is a disease of the mind and we choose alcohol, drugs, sex, shopping, eating, as a fix. It is a symptom of what is going on in our mind. We can have many years of sobriety and we can still find ourselves getting caught up in old ideas. We need to avoid old thinking patterns, both the old ideas and the tendancy towards complacency. We cannot afford to become complacent, because this alcoholism is with us 24 hours a day. While practicing principles in recovery, and allowing ourselves to feel superior or inferior, we will end up isolating ourselves, and if that happens, we are heading for trouble. With alcoholism, we are dealing with a destructive, violent power greater than ourselves that can lead to relapse. It is a cunning disease that can lead us to impossible situations. If we don't get back to working our program, we are back under the control of our disease. If we remain complacent for too long, the recovery process ceases. The disease will manifest symptoms in us such as denial, obsession, compulsion, guilt, remorse, fear and pride. If we don't deal with these feelings, we will relapse. These feelings as well as these behaviors can come back even though we are sober. We don't have to be actively drinking to have these symptoms of alcoholism. It's something we have to stay on top of or we can slip back into old thoughts and behaviors. It can lead us back to drinking if we aren't aware or acknowledge these symptoms of alcoholism.
    I don't know if I helped any. I may have made it more confusing. I think you were right on Annette in how you explained it. I hope something can be taken from this. Just, whatever you do, DON'T DRINK. Seek help and talk to someone about your thoughts and behaviors if you notice that something is off. We can't do this alone.

  10. Absolutely love it said exactly what I "wanted/tried" to say...and you said it soooo precisely. I think you're explanation is way better than mine...mine was kinda all over the place because I was trying so hard not to go into too much detail about what I've recently been going thru - not ready to share just yet and may never want to. Thanks for coming to my rescue Amanda - You Rock!

  11. Thanks Annette...and you are welcome! I liked your explanation in that it seemed more simple...not so complex. It is so frustrating when you know what you're trying to say but just can't come up with how to explain it. And I totally understand about having trouble explaining without going into detail about what you have been going through. You don't really want to give examples, especially if you're not ready to share, and it may be something you want to keep to yourself, as long as you have a therapist and someone close to you who you trust and can talk openly about it with so that it doesn't lead to drinking. You know all about that, because you did end up reaching out knowing something was wrong and took care of it before it led to a relapse. I give you a lot of credit for that. Great job on staying on top of it! I wish nothing but the very best for you. Keep up the hard work, because we all know that it can be very hard because of the craziness of this disease. And...You Rock! :)