Friday, November 17, 2017
I feel like I won some kind of sick race yesterday. I was anxious most of the time. I think the people at work would be surprised to hear that. I present a constant calm demeanor. What I do instead is be an ultra efficient worker. If you could see my insides, you’d see a tightly twisted knot. I work as an administrative assistant with tons of projects into which I pour my anxious energy. It’s a definite win for my employers. (It’s a campus job which gives me great benefits - including cheap classes - and quick access to classes/library/etc) With a steady determination, I am working on more relaxation and body movement during the day which helps decrease the stress. I have slowly gotten better at getting away from my desk and taking small breaks. Sometimes, I even do some yoga stretches at my desk (seated). The effort and intention is there - the outcome is meager tending toward slow improvement.
I had been riding a sweet wave of general calm (for the most part) since starting my sobriety nine days ago. My old friend Anxious returned a couple of days ago - well, when I went to the addiction group. Correlation? You tell me. At any rate, yesterday was a slow building wave away from calm. It’s hard for me to describe what it feels like. Mostly, I try to avoid feeling it all together because it is so unpleasant. There is no peace to be found there. It’s scratchy, and physically painful, and in it’s more intense times it feels like I’m coming out of my skin. And at it’s worse times, it feels like impending death. It makes no sense whatsoever. It is a state of nonsense. The only thing that seems to make sense is to stop it at any costs. And for me, that’s food. It’s the weirdest thing. Later, if I analyze it, I would have to be honest and say that eating toxic food doesn’t fix anything and has only made things worse - much worse. But in the moment, it feels like bliss. All the scratchy pain is abated for a brief moment and it all seems so very worth it. And that, in a nutshell, is what keeps me in my addictive cycle.
For some reason this silly Day Count has been my life preserver. Layers perhaps - of not wanting to tell Sandy (or blog) that I had to start over back to day one again, sheer determination knowing what the alternative looks like, and just plain not wanting to mess up my calendar with a lot of scratch offs - have kept me sober. It makes no sense, but it has gotten me to day nine so how can I argue logic?
Driving home after work is the worst. Once I’m home I won’t go back out again to get harmful foods (I don’t have any at home - or I would eat them). And at work I’m too busy being uber productive (I take good food to work so I’m set there). Ah, but the ride home is a potential minefield. I laugh at the way my brain/ego works. As I’m driving, all of a sudden, I get this crazy craving for fast food french fries. Do I like fast food french fries? No! I almost never eat fast food. Though I grew up on the stuff and ate it for most of my life, I have spent about the past decade or so really changing my eating patterns for the better. What you see here is the tail end of a long journey. It’s one reason I know what I am allergic to. I have had many good health practitioners along the way teach me and heal me. This addiction piece is the next step of this journey of mine to a healthy lifestyle.
But back to the fries. Technically, I can eat potatoes. It’s so funny that my brain/ego comes up with the least healthy thing that would surely leave me with a greasy gut bomb, but would not require me to have to restart my day count (which it knows I’m not going to do!). What a negotiating wizard is my brain/ego! I have to give it points for that. Somehow, I got past the fast food danger zone and made it home where I ate my apples slices and almond butter while watching my Korean drama. It was good and I felt content.
Having this communication and reading your experiences are helping me out immensely. The daily reprieve is what it’s about, for we just do today, and sometimes just this moment. Like when you’re driving home and you can feel the unrest, you acknowledged it and realized what was happening. This is always the right time to ask your higher power for strength to make a good choice and to feel at peace. Simple, but it also takes awareness and buckets of humility and trust. Your success is joyful to watch! :)______________________________
Yikes! Why do I always forget to ask for help from my etheric helpers. They are there waiting and willing at all times. They will not intercede without an invitation from me because they are respectful to my wishes and consent. I’m going to post a big sign in my car to help get me through the fast food gauntlet - “SUSAN, HAVE YOU ASKED FOR HELP YET?”
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
I have had acne since I was a teenager. Every year I would think, “This is when I finally outgrow my acne”. But no, and at age 56, seemingly never. I now know that this is caused by Leaky Gut Syndrome. But for most of my life it has been a mystery. As a nurse, I know that it means that the body isn’t releasing toxins properly and/or there are too many toxins for the body to handle adequately so the body tries to release more of them through the skin. It’s a survival mechanism really. I assumed that’s what was going on, but I didn’t have a clue as to why I would have so many toxins, or how to fix it. Well, that’s not entirely true. I’ve known about my dairy allergy since I was in my early 20s - though I didn’t understand how badly it was effecting me, just that I would get a stuffy nose and sore throat. And I’ve know about my gluten allergy for a decade or so. But again, I didn’t understand how really harmful it was to me. What I have recently learned is that antibiotic use (and other factors) can cause a highly toxic environment in the body. Consequently, I now understand why I have acne and will continue to do so as long as my body remains in that state.
For several years as a teenager, I took antibiotics daily for acne. It did nothing to clear my face in the long term. But that was the medical belief of the day and as I desperately wanted it to go away, I was a compliant patient and took the medication as ordered. Meanwhile, I never knew what it was doing to the good and important bacteria of my gut (antibiotics kills them off along with the bad bacteria). The medical world is just now understanding the importance of good gut flora. Do some research, if you are interested. For example, check out what they are discovering about the connection between the gut and the brain. Healthy gut is imperative!
I think I have been ill and getting progressively worse since that long course of antibiotics so many years ago. And of course I have used antibiotics since then without replenishing my gut flora, so it just adds fuel to my illness fire. I don’t remember a time when I have felt well. And I don’t remember a time when I have had clear skin. Until about two days ago when I started noticing a change. I happened to touch my face and froze. It was so smooth! I didn’t expect that to happen - though I should have. And I’m still amazed that it has happened so quickly as I’m only on day 8 of my sobriety.
Earlier this week, when I had a sense that my sobriety from toxic foods would change everything in my life, I wasn’t kidding!
Side Note: Let me put on my energy-medicine-practitioner hat for a moment and say that energetically, acne is about self hatred. And I had plenty of that. I now understand that it was rooted from my abuse history. As I have worked on healing over the years, the self hatred has abated. I know that my acne is healing from all the above. We cannot separate the energy from the physical. Physical follows energy. Move the energy and the rest will move.______________________________
Argh! Acne, the bane of my existence. Well, that and the extra weight. So glad you blogged about this, because it is an amazing side benefit. Your skin is happy, not having to try and get rid of toxins. What a nice thing you’re doing for it. I love the idea of mind body connection and it’s something you’ve been good at teaching me, along with loving my body more.
Monday, November 13, 2017
I went again to the addict’s support group tonight. My second time there and it was a whole new set of faces. All very nice and insightful. I had a fairly calm day but started to feel the anxiety rise in the afternoon. An anticipated response to going to the group? I have no idea. Sometimes I can figure out where my emotions are coming from. And sometimes I just can’t.
During the group, we did a 17 minute meditation. It was so unpleasant to quiety sit with my anxiety for that long. It eased a bit by the end, but never completely went away and never got comfortable. Yet, if truth be told, it felt like the right thing for me to do. Right place, right people, right reason. Yet, never comfortable.
Oddly enough, I didn’t speak to anyone. And I didn’t share during the meeting nor did I talk to anyone afterwards. These are typically not difficult things for me to do. And my old co-dependency ways of taking care of everyone but me, would have had me talking, even though I really didn’t want to. So, yeah for me. I was atypically silent. I fussed quietly in my own anxiety and cried as I walked to my car. Don’t ask me why. I don’t know.
17 minutes is a long time to meditate in a room full of strangers. How do you feel about the structure of the meeting? My favorite kind of meetings are those that stick as close to the original concepts of the 12 steps as possible. Do you think they do this, or is there a lot of veering off?
Some core things in a meeting are: a welcoming, a reading and a sharing opportunity, if you so choose. Also, there is little to no hierarchy. The person chairing is doing just that, nothing more. The term “Leading” a meeting is frowned upon.
It’s okay to be uncomfortable in a meeting, but I want to make sure your discomfort isn’t because of something to do with the format, or the way it is run. If it’s not, then you can focus on what is making you uncomfortable internally.
I hardly talked to anyone after the religious 12 step meetings I attended, for the first six months of working the program. Like you, I usually am trying to make everyone else around me okay. But, I wasn’t okay and needed the time and space to work through my pain. The meetings are anonymous for a variety of reasons and one of them is so that you can share as much or as little as is best for you.
May I suggest, part of your anxiety you were feeling is the energy of the other people in the room. Even though you were not “taking care” of everyone, your perception was still in play. There is a lot of pain there and it resonates with your own. Hence, fellowship. It is both a blessing and a little bit of a curse.
Good questions. I have meditated in groups of people I don’t know and that isn’t typically something that makes me feel uncomfortable. I think the real discomfort was me not being able to distract myself from my anxious feelings. I guess I don't know enough about the 12 steps to say if this group follows it closely or not. What I did like about the structure is that it is very clear and consistent. The facilitator is whomever wants to be it that day and reads from a written agenda that does not vary. This consistency is reassuring to me. And the words were well written and supportive. I didn’t disagree or feel uncomfortable with anything I heard read. They definitely have no hierarchy as stated clearly in the reading which works for me. As you know, I don’t do hierarchy. You can be a janitor or a CEO and I will treat you the same, and see you the same. The variation on how I will look at you is how you do your job, and are you kind and honest.
With that said, there was one thing that I was uncomfortable about. It stated clearing in the reading that we were not to comment on what other people said. Yet, there was one young man who did just that. I have facilitated many therapeutic groups and this rule, I have found, is paramount in creating a safe feeling within a group. People don’t tend to share completely or don’t talk at all, if they know that others are allowed to comment, critique, and generally tell you how to do your life better. So I was a bit horrified that this was not stopped and allowed to continue throughout the meeting. This young man followed up with his comments/suggestions after most of the shares. I think this was part of why I didn’t want to speak. I felt too vulnerable to be judged and told how to fix it. There was another man there who organizes these meetings. l liked his energy and his share - very insightful. Though he didn’t help facilitate the meeting he seemed like he was the one who should have stopped this behavior as soon as it happened the first time. Because the reader of the agenda is not trained in group facilitation, I would hope someone in the room would be and could step in if needed. Maybe he spoke to the young man afterwards to remind him of this important rule. I don’t know. I’ll have to wait and see if this continues. I certainly won’t feel safe if it does.
Aha moment! From one empath to another! I forget that all I feel is not my own. Thank you for reminding me of that! I will watch for that in the future with this group. I have created a life for myself where I am mostly in safe places with people who don’t have a lot of drama or pain. But of course, that room was teaming with both. I’ll set up better energetic protections before the group meetings so what I feel is my own, and let the others deal with what is theirs. Thanks again Sandy for the reminder.
Sunday, November 12, 2017
An email from Sandy
You mentioned you felt better today. How is it going? I pulled a new card from the deck you gave me a while ago. I had the Perfection card on my desk for the whole summer. It was about reaching in and looking at my deepest fears. I think I've done that for a good amount of time and was ready for something new to think about.
From "The Power Deck:
by Lynn V. Andrews
Action takes courage. We often feel like fish out of water, separate and different from the world around us. Fish out of water can learn to swim in a new air of consciousness with a new purpose in life. Perhaps it is identification with objects and clinging to addictions that keep you feeling separate and keep you from finding the source of your power; not only dependence on drugs, sex, or alcohol but also addictions like fear of failure, the need for approval, or fear of desertion. Discover your own power and meaning by having the courage to give up your addictions. Then live your power with courage. Fish swimming out of water is a symbol of a transcendent spirit. Go beyond the boundaries of your ideas and imagination. Do not be limited by your belief systems.
That's what I'll have on my desk for awhile! Very interesting and I thought you'd like to read it too. My addiction is fear and holding onto old belief systems. Time for us to swim in new air, Susan!
Friday, November 10, 2017
Bless you Colette Baron-Reid, wherever you are. My two favorite divination decks come from you. Your wise words and deep insights have helped me in ways that I cannot express.
Oh, I like that quote! Micro-ambitious!
Today I drew one of her cards. I no longer do the usual reading - ask a question and then pull a card. Spirit already knows what I need to hear. Why not just bypass my silly mind chatter/judgments/questions and get to the heart of what Spirit wants me to know? So that’s what I do. I don’t even pull a card unless I feel there is a message waiting there for me. After I meditated this morning, I felt that very thing. I asked Spirit, “What is the question?” I was told, “Draw a card out of the brown deck that will talk about what is up for you today”.
From The Enchanted Map
By Colette Baron-Reid
(aka per Spirit - The Brown Deck)
Desire is the sacred impulse for life. Feel it, but let go of all attachment to ownership. Be awakened to the presence of unseen forces that enable new beginnings. Divine intelligence activates the field of possibilities where new life is co-created in a magical way. Neither you nor anyone else can know how or why this happens. It just does.
To that end, you can’t control the process of growth. Rather, you must step aside to be a channel for higher forces and relinquish any attachment to how this new creation should appear, or when. Form your intention, and take action by dropping the coin into the Wishing Well; then trust in Spirit. Prepare to be amazed.
What strikes me about this card today, is for me to make my intention, let go, and then be present. It reminds me of something Maria Anderson said in the reading she did for me not long ago. (See Post, "It's call scarcity"). She said, “Don’t look for the top of the mountain. Don’t predetermine what it will look like.”
I have been looking for the top of the mountain. What will this all look like when I’m finished? That mind set robs me of so many things, such as enjoying the moment. There are a lot of beautiful things to see and do along this mountain trail. Every step is precious, not just the last one. What have I lost if I’m always looking for the end? And I know, no matter how much I try, I will never be able to fathom what my life will look like without my addictive behaviors.
I let go and stay present.
Intriguing card and one that is very relevant to what you are doing right now. I don’t know what your life will look like into the future without addictive behaviors, but you can see how your day is going and enjoy those moments. The trail today and yesterday and tomorrow are plenty to look at and absorb.
Interestingly, I just heard a commencement speech by Tim Minchin, who’s a musician and comedian. He was talking about life lessons and one of them is 1. You Don’t Have To Have A Dream. “I advocate passionate dedication to the pursuit of short-term goals. Be micro-ambitious. Put your head down and work with pride on whatever is in front of you… you never know where you might end up. Just be aware that the next worthy pursuit will probably appear in your periphery. Which is why you should be careful of long-term dreams. If you focus too far in front of you, you won’t see the shiny thing out the corner of your eye. Right?”
So Susan, he’s agreeing with you and Maria. Don’t worry about what the top of the mountain looks like. Enjoy those shiny, peripheral things. :)
Oh, I like that quote! Micro-ambitious!
Wednesday, November 8, 2017
I’m on Day #4 of sobriety from toxic foods. I’ve been afraid to list them here in the blog because… well, that would make it very real and scary. It feels easier to keep my secret of what I’m really doing. But I am also wise enough to know that that format keeps me isolated from support from others. It also doesn’t allow for accountability. And I know where that has gotten me in the past - nowhere. A whole lot of Same. So, with some trepidation, I will share The List. Abstaining from all the below listed foods is what I am calling my sobriety.
These are the toxic foods that make me very ill:
These are the foods that I should not be eating in order to treat my Leaky Gut Syndrome:
I can have tea but preferably without caffeine
I woke up this morning with the realization that I feel a bit better physically. I’ve made jibs and jabs at “eating clean” many times and always with the same result - I start to feel better. But that’s as far as I would allow myself to go because anxiety would seize, and I would eat my soothies to calm the rearing, roaring monster. The difference this morning is that I wasn’t freaking out about it. In fact, I felt perfectly calm! That my friends, is a fuckin’ modern day miracle. I really don’t know what to say about it. I’m feeling baffled.
A brave and inspiring post. Naming the things you want to abstain from, and doing it in the presence of others, takes away the food’s power and gives that power to you. They’re just items; ones that you are putting aside to achieve a healthier mind and body. :) I love that you felt calm today. Yes, you are standing in your power.
Saturday, November 4, 2017
My biggest fear was that they were going to tell me to leave because I’m not the right kind of addict. My second biggest fear is that they were going to tell me to leave because I’m not a buddhist. Neither happened.
An important part of working the 12 steps, as I understand it, is to go to AA meetings and listen to and perhaps even speak about one’s journey of sobriety. Last time I checked, there was no AA groups for “scarcity addicts”. With disappointment and relief, I realized that Iam too specialized to fit into any kind of group. Thankfully, I got off my high horse and acknowledged that that was “stinkin-thinkin”, as they say in AA. A lie to keep me in my addiction. Finding a compatible group was as easy as telling a friend who had the answer. Not only did she tell me about a group that is open to “all types of addictive behavior”, it also uses some of the Buddhist principles and includes a meditation. Score.
I’ve been dabbling with meditation off and on for some years now. Mostly off. But this year I have made a greater effort. What a difference it makes in my day when I actually do it. Even if it feels like I don’t do it very well, I can’t argue the fact that my day goes smoother. My anxiety is decreased and my ability to stay in the moment is enhanced. I don’t know why, it just happens. So any chance I can get to meditate with like-minded souls has got to be good for me.
It took me a couple of weeks to get up the courage to go, but I finally made it tonight. It was a small eclectic group, and as I mentioned above, they didn’t give me the boot. In fact, they were down right unobtrusive, kind and welcoming. Go figure.
As I listened to them share I noticed that several kinds of addictive behaviors were mentioned: Alcoholic, workaholic, codependency, sex/love addict. I was in good company and I felt like I belonged there. I even shared and had the courage to say that I am addicted to scarcity and foods that I am allergic to eating. They didn’t bat an eye.
I was doing pretty good until when one women said that she had been sober for eight months. The thought struck me, “Oh, right, you're supposed to be abstinent from something.” I know that’s a “Duh moment", but that’s the first thought I had. The next consecutive thought was, “Then, does that mean I’m supposed to be abstinent from something?” My only defence here, is that I’m new at this. That and I’m still not wanting to change behaviors, and thus I’m in denial. As I sat there, I calculated how long I had been “clean and sober” from toxic foods - two hours and twenty minutes.
I left the meeting feeling pretty shaken. I walked around the neighborhood trying to breath evenly and collect my thoughts. Shit, this is getting real. Does this mean I have to consistently change my behavior? I decided to ask my Guides.
Susan: If I’m going to actually do this abstinence thing, how many toxic foods do I really have to cut out?
Guides: How well do you want to feel?
Susan: Point taken. Shit.
I continued to circle the block. I could feel the energy of this thing moving. If I were to really cut out the toxic foods in my life, it would change everything. I could feel the possibility of it move and expand. But here’s the thing, I could feel deep down that I am finally ready to do this thing. I’m not talking, “calm ready” but rather “shaking in my boots ready”. Maybe how I would feel just before taking a dive off a high bridge with a bungee cord tied around my ankles.
Tomorrow marks Day #1.
Wowee! What a post. Wish I could have gone with you and will now look to see if there is something similar in my area. Yes, having a fellowship and attending meetings is a vital part of 12 step work.
I’m getting ahead of myself in the steps, but you are raring to go, so I’ll drop in a paragraph about step 4. You’re ready to begin pondering on this, while we talk and explore the first three steps.
Next we launched out on a course of vigorous action, the first step of which is a personal housecleaning, which many of us had never attempted. Though our decision was a vital and crucial step, it could have little permanent effect unless at once followed by a strenuous effort to face, and to be rid of, the things in ourselves which had been blocking us. Our liquor was but a symptom. So we had to get down to causes and conditions. (pg. 63, 64 AA Big Book)
I’ll change up that last sentence a little, “Toxic foods are but a symptom. Let’s get down to causes and conditions.”
Step four is inventorying, but for now until we get to the specifics of that, be mindful of how toxic food and other addictions are masking and numbing what is really going on.
Not getting the food isn’t the difficult thing, it’s not numbing what you (and I) want to avoid.
Day #1 is a good day. It’s when you get to surrender the fear and let God/Spirit walk you through. I’m excited to hear how it goes. :)
I burst out crying when I read that last line. I think I have been underrating the importance of Day #1. It jolts me in a deep and profound way. Now I know why.