Cha-cha- changing

I know how to be miserable. I know how to survive, how to hunker down and feel like shit. I don’t know how to “change the things I can”. I really don’t. But, I am learning. Tomorrow I fly out to the last stage in a long job interview process because I have realized that my current job is not a good fit for me. The awareness that I have regarding my job is a huge recovery milestone. In the past, I felt like I should be lucky to even have a job, it didn’t occur to me to consider that I had choices and I could change! Nothing, absolutely nothing has changed at work. It is only my changes that have made work so miserable for me. It has been so disconcerting to watch things at work evolve and start to bother me. At first, I felt like a jerk because I was finding myself constantly annoyed. But then, I realized, “holy shit, this annoys me now… awesome!” It was like waking up, haha. I don’t know how else to describe it other than, I just changed. Slowly. And now, I hate my job!

So why am I so scared? Because owning my life is scary. If this job interview ends well, I will have officially grabbed life by the horns and made a decision on my own. I was talking to my sponsor last night and I shared that this is the first time in my life that I feel really “free” in making a decision. It’s kind of terrifying. Like… shoot… I don’t have anyone to blame if it doesn’t go well. And…. I might actually be happy.

I am a survivalist. We co-dependents tend to be able to get by on very little. We are expert survivors and can be very highly functioning in the worst situations. There is a certain sickness about that, however. It is an addiction, because it keeps our minds occupied on other things rather than on ourselves (let me clarify, I am only speaking for myself here). I realize how highly functioning I have been in the worst of situations and now that my life is a lot less chaotic, I have time to think about who I am, what I want, and what I don’t want.

I’m boarding a flight tonight. That alone is an outcome of my recovery work. I am doing this because I want to, and I am moving into seriously uncharted territory in my world.

I reject the idea that I have to endure life. I rejected that idea the minute I started working my steps. I don’t need to be in a constant state of bliss, but I also don’t need to be in a constant haze. Reasonably happy is good enough for me.

For some reason, the serenity prayer evolves almost daily for me. I read it a lot and I always catch new nuances and points that make me stop and think. For today, the portion that says, “courage to change the things I can,” is ringing out loud and clear. Looking back, I don’t know that I understood that until recently. I still felt like things were happening to me and I was being tossed at sea. I think I’m starting to see things a little bit differently now and I’m kind of petrified and also excited.

XO,
Bravo

Change

Before I got into recovery, I was enduring life. I was literally surviving day to day. Once I got into recovery, I started to experience some discontent when it came to my work life. It was weird, nothing changed at work… but I changed. Instead of focusing on a chaotic relationship, I was focusing on myself and eventually I realized that I wanted something different out of my job.

So, today I sent out my sixth application. I’m waiting on letters of recommendation and then I will send out several more.

Scary…

I know how to be discontent, I know how to complain. I have a lot of things to complain about at work, but I am learning how to accept the things I cannot change. Here is the wild and new part, I’m going to change my job (God willing). I KNOW how to endure, complain, be miserable. I’m not too used to doing something about it.

In the past, I’d try to change the people I worked with, my company. I’d get so frustrated, burn bridges, and live pissed off day to day. I’m not going to do that. It is more important for me to be healthy than to be “right”. I’m not going to change my company, I wish I could… but I can’t. So- I’m going to find a better fit for me.

“Accept the things I cannot change and the courage to change the things I can… and the wisdom to know the difference.” That serenity prayer, I’ve said it a million times and it’s starting to sink in.

XO Bravo

What the hell is codependency?

Hey, I’m bravolionlady and I’m codependent. Awesome. What does that even mean? For me, it means a lot… it means that I have a really hard time figuring out who I am and what I want. I put my focus on others and can’t really tell you what I’m thinking or feeling. It meant that in previous relationships, I had zero boundaries and didn’t know how to say that a certain behavior was unacceptable for me. I was so afraid of being alone that I would put up with anything to avoid being alone.

At my worst, I had the police involved in different situations during my last relationship. And… that didn’t deter me from walking back through the door and getting back together with my ex. I remember sitting in the car and begging, pleading with him to believe me that I loved him. He would push me away and then resent that I shut down. Oh the insanity. I would literally shut down for weeks at a time to survive because it was always my fault. I had to gather enough energy to convince him that I was sorry, even though I wasn’t and I believed that it was partially his fault that we were not talking or had fought. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t an angel. The thing about this madness is that you are pushed to the brink and let me tell you, the brink for me is not pretty. It is really ugly. The fact that I functioned, and let me just say that I was HIGHLY functional is amazing and scary. I managed to graduate college, start my career, etc. all while keeping my disfunction as secret as I could.

So yea during the worst of that relationship I groveled, screamed, threw tantrums, shut down, cried, acted like a zombie, prayed for God to take my pain away, thought about suicide, you name it. And ultimately… we broke up officially and… I started drinking… a lot. Every night.

Now, I am in recovery and it has been the hardest and the best thing I have ever done. I remember the first week or so of recovery everyone told me to start journaling and I couldn’t write a word. I stared at my blank journal and had no idea what to write. My brain was on auto pilot and I had so much pain inside that I actually was afraid to tap into it.

After a LOT of work, I’ve learned how to journal.

Now, I try to journal on most nights and can get a good two pages in before I start rambling on. I actually know what I am thinking, feeling, and I don’t censor. Sometimes I sound like a whiny baby and sometimes I sound like a religious prophet. The thing I have learned is that my moods change. Nothing is permanent… I am learning how to ride the waves of my feelings and emotions.

This means that now I am learning who I am, and this is scary and unfamiliar. I am SO unhappy at work, and my job hasn’t changed… I have changed. So what am I doing? I am applying to tons of new jobs. Before, I wouldn’t have had the ability to reflect enough to know that I wasn’t happy or fulfilled at work.

Change is really hard and uncomfortable, more on that later.

XO Bravo

So I guess I’m co-dependent… and not alcoholic (and how I know)

Okay, so how do I know I’m not an alcoholic? I guess I really don’t. But before I go into that- I do have to say that I genuinely thought I was an alcoholic for a while. I had the “moment of clarity” at my doctor’s office when my blood tests came back with swollen red blood cells due to drinking too much alcohol. Which, made sense when I thought about the fact that I drank close to a bottle and a half of wine a night (give or take some craft beer). Once I started going to Co-Dependency meetings I remember thinking, “shoot, I have to stop drinking.” Like… I knew it was a problem and I worked my 12- step recovery program in CoDa and gradually stopped drinking. My CoDA birthday is about three weeks before my sober birthday. It didn’t take me long to start working my steps when it came to alcohol… and it worked.

But, here I go… I really hated AA. I mean… it’s not that I hated it… it just always felt awkward. A friend set me up with someone he knew who he wanted me to meet in AA. In our phone conversation she said, “so… you want to stop drinking so you’re less of a bitch.” I was like, “uh… actually… I don’t know about that. I think I’m a pretty nice person. I’m actually a total introvert so…”

That conversation basically sums up my experience in AA. Yes, I drank… but I couldn’t really connect to anyone in AA. I’m so freaking quiet and shy! I always felt like super desperate to connect. Oh, I even got a sponsor who FIRED me (yep) because she didn’t like that I was in CoDA. But, CoDA has saved my life and it was truly the program that helped me stop drinking and turn my life around. I just went to AA because I thought, shit… I drink a lot. I can always relate to what people say at AA meetings, I just feel more supported in CoDA and more understood. Therefore, I self- identify as a co-dependent who struggles with alcohol.

It turns out (in my mind, today) that I drank because I was a raging co-dependent. But, even if it turns out when I die and go to heaven God says, “Hey bravolionlady- you’re definitely an alcoholic,” I still work the same exact steps and the program is working for me.

Drinking for me was how I survived my nights- it is how I stayed “sane” while being alone in my apartment with my memories. I drank to stop the looping of thoughts and memories in my head. I still have the thoughts, and I have just found ways to sit in it without drinking. Some nights are more successful than others. Truly, while I don’t drink I do have my nights where I sit and wallow and isolate. But, for the most part I am able to break my funk or at least have awareness.

By the way, awareness is enough sometimes. Like, if I’m having an off night I can think, “shit… I’m having an off night.” And that’s it. That works for the night. Riding these waves works- because before I never knew that feelings were not facts and that my situation would change. I am such a catastrophic thinker. I have a bad day at work and I’m pretty much sure I’m going to get fired and be homeless next week. Kind of crazy. So you can imagine how much I freaked out when I was in my first few months of program and had an off day. I mean, to me an “off day” meant that the program wasn’t working, I was a failure, and I was going to probably never be happy.

So anyway, I’m not sure exactly what I am… for now, my CoDA program has worked for me. I still go to AA meetings sometimes, but I accept that I don’t need to force it.

I don’t really have a, “you know you’re an co-dependent and not an alcoholic,” post for you. I just know what worked for me. Drinking alone sucks, drinking alone every night sucks, drinking alone to total oblivion every night and going to work the next day sucks. And, working the steps works. It works really well… it works for everything… for alcohol… people… whatever. Happy stepping.

XO Bravo

8 months

It has been almost 8 months until I got into CoDA and I thought it might be good to do some sort of blog. I might end up deleting it because my anonymity is important to me. But here we go-
Unbelievable. When I think back to the beginning of my recovery, and where I am now I see some huge changes. But, mostly, today I feel like I am blasting into the past.

What I honestly feel, more than anything, is a huge sense of loss and loneliness. Maybe it is because I took a trip by myself to a place that I used to go with my qualifier, but I feel so haunted by memories and upset that there has been no communication on his end to me. Why do I even care? I think I am something to be missed but I totally realize that to him, I’m not. But it feels so unfair because I have the pages of journals, self-help books, groups, sobriety, step work, and therapists… and I still feel like this right now. Shoot. I’m doing something wrong.

So here I go- working what I know to do. When I feel like I miss my qualifier (because it occurs to me that we haven’t spoken to each other in a year) I think through what it would be like to actually see him. And then… I realize that it wouldn’t be good. Rationally, I know that. Intellectually, I know that. But, I still miss the good times. My life is so different, but I feel so unhappy. I feel so unknown- and I feel that shitty feeling that I want to NOT have anymore where I feel unique and different from every soul on this earth. The crazy thing about sobriety is that I can purposefully avoid drinking. Like, I can pick up a sparkling water and jam with that all night. But… with my Co-dependency issues I have to face relationships no matter what. And… I’m really bad at them. Like really. I go through about 6 month streaks and then I just want out. It’s kind of like getting sick of people and also just not being myself in relationships and reaching my breaking point. So- if I do things over and over that I don’t really want to do, eventually- it catches up to me and I feel like if I do it one more time I’m going to vomit. But, without being able to articulate to that person WHY I don’t want to spend time with them or do things we used to do. Because, at one time I did have fun… but now I’m not. Scratch that, I was feeling it out and could tolerate it, but now I hate it. So vaguely specific.

So for today, I am seriously alone. Like legitimately alone. I went camping by myself and have probably talked to less than ten human beings in the last week. One human being for more than ten minutes. That is a lot of head time. Which, is probably why I feel so insane right now.

On that note…
I haven’t had a drink in 7 months tomorrow. Can we just talk about how miraculous that is? Like… really. ME!? I haven’t had one sip… nothing. And how freaking hard it is to sit in my crap without numbing. Don’t get me wrong, I can still go all dry drunk on anyone, anytime. I can wallow, isolate, depress, think awful things, be impulsive like the best drunks out there. But, for today, I am not drinking.

Happy 7 months sobriety… I feel like shit and have since about 5 months. 1-3 months was hard, 3-5 was pretty good, and the past two have been really hard.

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