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Everyday is different

Although that may seem like an evident statement, it was made all the more clear to me this past weekend.

Since I have been working my recovery seriously and getting involved with other addicts, my “normy” friends, and new people my social agenda perpetually fills up. It gets to a point where I get socially overwhelmed. Now that I don’t have “aids” to help me cope with all of my social engagements, I find myself burning out a lot more often. Or at least, I allow myself to a little more.

Friday came along and I got invited to the beach, to play volleyball and to a movie. I couldn’t believe it! People want to hang out with me. It still baffles me sometimes that I was the only one that was preventing myself from being social. I preferred to drink and drug alone than to hang out with people. I actually resented people because I couldn’t drink or use as I pleased with others around.

I know why and how it got that bad, but it still seems ridiculous to me that I got to that point.

I digress, our beach plans fell through, but volleyball and the movie were still a go. I had a blast and the people I was with are all great people that had fun too. Then, after the motorcycle ride home, it started. I couldn’t sleep. Tossing and turning for a few minutes, then an hour. I was still fine. I slept an hour or so. 4AM came around and without better to do, I decided that I’d walk around looking for a pane of glass in people’s trash for a project I am working on before going to the gym.

I was tired which was fine, but then I got angry. I was fuming and I don’t know why! Past resentments? Shitty times in my childhood? My ankle hurts? The birds waking up and chirping? I simply couldn’t figure it out.

I found stuff that could work for my project and went home. The stuff didn’t end up working, but I didn’t even care. I was angry, anxious, and unmotivated. I couldn’t shake it off. People were texting me, which I would love generally, but I couldn’t give a shit less at that time. I was going to answer them later, if at all. I wanted to be alone for the rest of the weekend. I didn’t want to hang out or see anyone else. I had to play in a frisbee tournament that afternoon and that was going to be fine. I knew that at least.

Before then though I sat around and moped, from the couch to the bed, back to the couch with a pit stop at the fridge – there’s nothing I want to eat (the fridge, as a friend who came by later that day pointed out, is stacked and filled), and back to the bed. I put on some shows, and turn my back to the screen as they play. I am not ok.

I sleep a little more, and I feel better, but still not great. I eat, hop on the bike and go play some frisbee. I get there a little early feeling a little better, but still not great.

We play and we lose, but I feel better still. I go back home, take a shower, and a friend comes over for dinner. We talk and hang out, and then I go to a recovery oriented meeting I enjoy going to on a Saturday night (it’s way better an option than going to the bar at this point, even though I want to…). I go home, go to bed, and wake up Sunday morning.

I feel good, I feel way better and motivated. I go to the grocery store, do a bunch of things. Business ideas and project ideas are flowing I feel comfortable in my own skin. I don’t know what it is, but I know that it wouldn’t feel as good as it does if I hadn’t had felt so shitty yesterday. I feel motivated enough to write this post, and I am optimistic that the day will be good no matter what happens.

All this to say that: I can be stuck in a funk and feel like shit, but as long as I don’t succumb to the temptation of drinking or using it will pass. No matter how shitty, alone, dejected, or any other negative ways I could be feeling on any given day, it will pass.

Taking it a day at a time, Carpe Diem, or whatever you may say to get through a tough spot in time is a always a good start for me. I’ll try to keep that in mind next time my spiritual health feels like it’s beyond repair.

Thank you.

D.

Originally posted 2016-07-27 19:13:41.

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I am racist

As much as it disheartens me to admit it, I am racist.

Recently in my hometown, there has been a case of police brutality that resulted in the death of a Somali man. He died of the injuries that he incurred while being arrested by the officers.**

Consequently, or coincidently, I discovered that there is going to be a talk at our City Hall entitled “Anti-Black Racism: Understanding its impact in (my country)”. An open invitation was sent out to people who would be interested in listening in on this topical discussion, as well as taking notes. The lady extending the invitation via social media is a dear friend of mine, and she is black. Throughout the day I reflected upon this topic and being on a quest to self discovery and honesty, I concluded that I am racist.

It is also my belief that everyone is racist, whether they are willing to admit it or not. How often has everyone heard the saying: “I am not a racist, but…”? At least once I bet. It is a socially understood segway to a racist comment that people roll their eyes at and sometimes laugh away.

I had come to the conclusion that I am racist on several other occasions before in my life, and this time I decided to write about it.

I am basically a document courier, and because of my job I get to take the elevator a lot and meet a bunch of people from different countries. I myself have travelled to 44 countries despite the fact that gave the title to this post. The men I took the elevator with today are black, and they proudly wore their Ugandan flag on their clothing. Not one bit did I feel intimidated, insecure, or animosity towards these gentlemen. It did get me thinking, however, that if these men were closer to my age and from my part of the world, I would feel some discomfort. I would feel threatened  and worried about my safety.

I can do nothing about my feelings of discomfort and insecurity except to decide whether or not to act upon them. Up until this day, I have opted not to act upon these feelings and it has worked out really well for me. That is the difference.

Recently, I watched a video concerning White Supremacists who are rallying behind Donald Trump. In that video there is one man who says something along the lines of “Here in America, I want to be able to go to the store and hear English, I want to understand them and not have to be scared by their Derka Derka language”. This to me, in our times, is baffling. Now, I do come from a family from two different continents, and I try to speak 5 languages 2 of which fluently. I couldn’t imagine a world where I couldn’t be a witness to cultural and linguistic diversity. That would be so boring to me, and I would feel like we as humans would have lost so much richness and knowledge with which we could interpret the world.

That being said, I sometimes get worried when I am driving and I see an elderly Asian woman behind the wheel of a vehicle within my vicinity. Does that make me racist and sexist? Yes, of course it does. Does that stop me from feeling the way that I do when I am confronted with these situations? No, but once again I do have the choice to act upon them, but I choose simply to observe these thoughts and feelings and try to figure out why I have them.

A great deal of what we believe and what we think comes from our upbringing, our environment be it friends family, or society as a whole. I am a white male, and as such I have privileges that other people on this planet do not have, and others could only dream of having. I am aware of that. Now, I don’t know where it comes from, or what brought me to feel the way that I do when I see a young black man, or group of men approach me, but I do know that my social upbringing has played a part in it.

Society, and I know that’s a big word that gets thrown around a lot, has made me who I am today, and seeing as there are such problems as systemic racism and inequality, it has made me racist. Do I like it? No. Can I do something about it? Yes, I am right now as I write this.

It is not by stating that things are better for blacks and other minority denominations, that they are. It is not by denying that we ourselves are racist individuals within a racist society that we will solve the problem. We, as human adults, have grasped the concept of object permanence and because of that we know that simply because we don’t talk about something doesn’t mean that it isn’t there.

It is on my quest for recovery from addiction that I have chosen to become honest with and about myself that I can now say:

“I am a racist, and I am doing something to change it.”

Thank you.

**Please note that the lack of details concerning this man’s death are not out of disrespect for him and his family, but to protect the anonymity of the author and the people in his circles.

Originally posted 2016-07-27 14:25:55.

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Quest for productivity

An evening with a friend with no plans. Plenty to do outside of this “bubble” situation, but nothing else to do in the present moment, but chat, drink tea, and live through moments of silence.

This kind of situation would have driven me up the wall a few months ago, and even partly led to the demise of a romantic relationship. I couldn’t for the life of me simply “be present”. I would be thinking of the work I had to do, my upcoming schedule changes, my studies, my meals for the following day, dreams of biking down to Brazil and putting up a few more pins on my “Countries I’ve travelled to” map, just to name a few. All, of course, could not be dealt with in those present moments. I couldn’t enjoy the present moments because I was too focused on things of the future, things I couldn’t do anything about.

I don’t know when it happened, but a few weeks ago or so, I noticed that I was reacting more calmly to the present moment. I wasn’t worrying so much about what “Had To Be Done!”. I knew that it would happen on its own time, and its own terms. My muscles weren’t as tense, the knot in my stomach became less tangled, I guess I didN’t have anything to prove anymore.

All this being said, I like to discover the world, work on my goals, learn new skills (writing being one of them), help others, grow spiritually and emotionally, ride my motorbike, work on either one of the 2 businesses I just started (this blog potentially being a third), and I work a regular 9 to 5, play sports on teams that I am committed to, and spend time with my friends. All of these get tangled up, but I can appreciate them all a lot more now by being mindful and present.

Now, to get back to the title of this post, I am no longer on a quest for constant productivity. I made myself a victim of society, change, and the omnipresent “If I am constantly doing things, I must be a good person! Right? People will like me more.”, and although sometimes those thoughts still happen. They do not dominate and drown the rest of my thoughts or more importantly my feelings.

So, as we were sitting there, the dog went crazy, and started to get frightened by the thunderstorm brewing. He came closer, we opened the window, the warm summer air rushed in along with some stray raindrops, and my friend said: “I love this! I could sit here and do nothing at all, but just listen and smell the rain.” To which my first thought: “Oh sweet Jesus, what’s up with these Carpe Diem freaks?”, or something along those lines.

That’s when I caught myself. I heard the thought, noticed how I felt, angry, and let it sit there. This takes practice, most of it involuntary on a day to day basis, but it is practice none the less. I could hear the joy in my friend’s voice, the gleam in their eye as they spoke those words, and I knew that my thinking was wrong. It just didn’t sit right. I didn’t need to think about how I was going to advertise, or launch my business officially. I didn’t need to worry about the emails from potential clients. I didn’t need to worry that I had left my car windows open and it was pouring outside, because there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.

I was falling into an old pattern. I felt unaccomplished, like a loser, like people wouldn’t like me, people would be mad at me. I felt like I didn’t deserve to appreciate the storm raging outside, like I didn’t have the right to enjoy it because I had to be productive in order to be a “good person”, and that just simply isn’t true.

Thank you.

Originally posted 2016-07-24 14:20:46.

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Giving Thanks

Every day we are told to be grateful and thankful for the people, places and things that surround us.

As a child, as I am sure many of you have experienced, I was told to say: “Thank you.” Somebody gave me something, thank you. Somebody held the door for me, thank you.The sun came up, thank you. I caught a new Pokemon, thank you.

All of this thanks, but no real lesson behind it other than “It’s the polite thing to do.” or “Good boys say thank you when such and such happens.”

Now, I don’t have any children of my own, but if I did, this is how I would explain it…

Why we give thanks:

Whether we believe in reincarnation, Heaven and Hell, or whatever it may be, I believe we can all comprehend that as far as we know we are on this planet for this ONE time. As such, our time here on this earth is finite. We can be born again, or live the same life we always have, but the fact to the matter is that time hasn’t stopped. There is no reset button you can press with the end of a paperclip.

That is why we give thanks. By thanking someone for holding the door open for us, for giving us a gift, we are thanking them not only for their action, but also for the time that they took from their limited time on this earth and dedicated it to us. That is why I give thanks.

With many other things to say on the subject, but without wanting to take any more of your time…

Thank you.

 

Originally posted 2016-07-23 14:16:04.

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Ill-conceived beliefs: Why recovery can be hard

I don’t know much about the world, but I know enough to know that what I thought and believed when i was boozing and drugging was often wrong. Yet, in the middle of it, the beliefs and the thoughts associated to those beliefs are what drove me. They got me out of bed, they got me to the dealers’ or the liquor store. They also made me very closed-minded and judgmental of others because I was so uncomfortable with myself.

First of all, I believed that drinking and drugging was fun. It was, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that after a while when it’s no longer fun and it becomes a necessity. Booze and drugs, open your mind to a whole different way of seeing the world, but their abuse has consequences on that said openness. Their abuse started to warp my thinking, and I started to believe anything that would make me feel better for having the lifestyle that I did.

“Pot makes me concentrate better. It takes aways the pain.”
“I can really relax better if I’ve drank a few beers, or had a few shots.”
“I will be more productive and alert if I take this.”

I hope you get the point. All of these probable fallacies that you can read on Facebook or whatever can really trap people in thoughts that are erroneous and can keep them abusing drugs and alcohol. It did for me.

These “bonuses” to drug and alcohol use become hard thought beliefs and became a part of my personality. “This would be so much better if I were high.”, “Imagine what this would feel like if we were on such and such.” etc. It became so common place to speak in such a way that trying new things was just the next obvious trajectory. We would try things, all kinds of things. For me, I know that I didn’t care as long as I didn’t feel as shitty as I did most of the time.

I didn’t care how it felt, and I didn’t care how dangerous it was. In fact, the tougher the stuff, the more dangerous it was, and the more of it you took, the better, tougher and stronger you looked. It seems stupid, but then again we do have people that fly in “squirrel suits” the fastest and closest possible to cliffs and we call it a sport. It’s not really different in that sense other than the fact that drugs are illegal.

I digress, these beliefs, and the lifestyle that goes with them, these ill-conceived notions, and everything surrounding them and the people who actively engage in the propagation of these thoughts and beliefs became such a part of my identity without me noticing that I didn’t even notice it happening. All of this went so deep and covered so many aspects of my life that it is only with years of working on my recovery that I can see how entrenched I was. It’s scary to get rid of beliefs. It’s scary to get rid of survival mechanisms. It’s scary to get out of oneself and face the real world without crutches. The profound implications within my being and my existence is what makes recovery from addiction so hard.

Thank you.

D.

Originally posted 2016-04-11 11:45:48.

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Hanging out and Connecting with others

When I used and drank, it was hard to get me to go out and do anything. If I was out, I didn’t generally want to be there unless I could use or get plastered. When I was out, I would also look for ways to go back in and be alone. My thinking brought me to places such as “Ugh I’m hanging out with only one person, everyone must think I’m a loser because I’m not hanging out with more people.”All this to say that things have changed, but the struggle with those thoughts is still there.

I struggle with the balance that is required to maintain myself, and my relationships with my friends and family. I am not always sure whether I am faking it or not. Yesterday, however, something clicked, and I noticed something that I was oblivious to before.

A friend of mine that I had been talking to a lot, stopped talking to me as much because she was busy and truthfully had her own life to live. It got me thinking that she didn’t want to talk to me and all of those “pleasant” thoughts. That is when I said something about it; I was assertive about my feelings which is not something I do easily. Then, yesterday we were chatting being silly and had a good time. What I had asked for, more connection, I had received.

It wasn’t until yesterday evening that I realized it though. I was hanging out with another friend, one on one, and a thought and feeling ran through me and I noticed it: “Hey! I told someone about how I felt, and they answered with action!” It was pretty cool. Furthermore, I felt the urge to thank them. It was, in a sense, the first time I had experienced gratitude in such a way.

It is still weird for me to have people ask to hang out with me and do things because I still battle thoughts of worthlessness and being unworthy. These last few weeks have changed those patterns quite a bit as I have had several dinners with family and friends, one on one or in groups, and have watched movies, and now that I have been spending more time with them I don’t feel as alone and worthless. Funny how that works, eh?

Thank you.

D.

Originally posted 2016-03-15 15:57:01.

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Being sad for some reason

I’ve been feeling good for a while, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been feeling sad and stuck in this sadness for a while.

I don’t always know what to do about it, and that makes the sadness deepen and feel like I have an ever deeper hole to climb out of. Yes, I am catastrophising, and I am aware of it as it happens, but that doesn’t make it any easier. If anything, knowing that catastrophising if what i am doing, and intellectually understanding what is going on makes it worse. That’s because I feel stupid for knowing what is what, and not being able, or not having the energy to do anything about it.
I try to do things about it like talking to people, but I get scared, and then talk about random other stuff, and keep the conversation on another level because I don’t want to admit that I am not OK. I don’t want people to know that my pride made me bite off more than I can chew when it comes to a business I just started. I don’t want people to know I’ve been eating fast food for the past 2 weeks because I have a full fridge and no inclination whatsoever to cook anything but ramen noodles.

I know I need to slow down, and not be busy all the time. I know that’s what I need to do because that is what I day dream about. I want peace and quiet with no one to talk to for a day or two. However, when that happens, I feel like a loser who has no friends and no one who wants to talk to me or hang out with me so I go and call someone because that discomfort that I have is seemingly too unbearable at the time.

All of this, among other things, contribute to my sadness and it feels like it will never go away, I will never amount to anything, I will never find a romantic partner, or even worse that because of my addiction I will never find someone who will want to put up with me when I lose my shit for a week or two…
That is why sometimes being sad really sucks because it comes out of nowhere and won’t go away, and I don’t feel like doing anything about it. I feel defeated before I even start, and that shit is annoying as all hell.
Thank you.
D.

Originally posted 2018-03-05 21:56:07.

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Playing on insecurities

I’ve talked about texting and how it affects me a lot. Last time, it was all in my head and as it turns out I had disregarded my own communications as unimportant and impactless. As I was faced with my own actions and their consequences, I decided to change the way I talk to the person in question. As I am waiting for a reply from them, I can still hear my insecurities flare up.

For me this means that I keep being told that I am not worth the time to send a text and be reassured that things are fine. It also means that I am not worth the time that I am dedicating to this person. I know, concerning this last statement, that this is a lot of mental space that I am giving to this situation and person. That is where I tend to get confused as to how much is my doing and how much is my interpretation of their actions.

More importantly, what this tells me is that I still have a lot of work to do. These insecurities will not go away over night, and I can only wish them away if I work on them as well.

To be able to be healthy in a relationship, at least on one front, both people in the relationship have to fine with being alone. This alleviates co-dependency and also means that both parties are sufficiently self-aware and independent that their lives do not revolve around the other’s and their doings.

Chronically looking at my phone to see if this person has answered is a sign that I am far from the above “ideal”. It also tells me that being aware of how this affects me is a step in the right direction. I’ve been thinking about this a lot and every day that I do, it gets easier to deal with. I don’t know where this is heading, and how I will feel about it later, but for now it isn’t eating away at me as much.

The moral of the story is, that if I didn’t look at myself and the reasons behind my reactions to what is going on around me, I would not be making as much progress as I am. Taking drugs and alcohol out of the mixture does help make things clearer, and dealing with these seemingly tough situations easier.

Thank you.

D.

Originally posted 2016-03-05 15:52:27.

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Insecurities: Silly comments blown out of proportion

I am totally one of those guys that suffers from being insecure because of his body. Truthfully, I really shouldn’t be; I have somewhat of a six-pack, my pecs are alright, my back and shoulder muscles are pronounced, and I can lift heavy things repetitively. All of that doesn’t prevent me from living with my head telling me my muscles are too small, I don’t lift enough, and all of these nice things insecurities like to yell at us. Often times, they yell so loud that I push too hard at the gym or when I’m playing sports and I hurt myself. Sometimes pretty badly.

All this to say that sometimes jealousy and insecurities come from places within society, and its misconstrued norms that tell people they should be, look and feel a certain way. This last reflection is in no way revolutionary, and nor is the following: sometimes our insecurities come from innocent comments that made us feel uncomfortable or small and when played on repeat, made us believe certain things about ourselves are odd, bizarre or different, when in fact they are not.

This past Sunday, I went to the gym for a bit in the morning and when I got back home decided it was going to be a lazy day of Photoshop, food and coffee, and music and movies. I am walking, laying, and sitting around my apartment in my boxers and undershirt, which even around the girl I’m seeing makes me uncomfortable, and at one point I look down. I look down to my arms and see that armpit hair is sticking out, I shudder, and I look around to see if anyone saw this “imperfection”! No, of course not, I live alone, and no one is visiting. That is when I asked myself “What is it about this that makes me feel uncomfortable? This isn’t abnormal, people have armpit hair.” Even weirder than that, I’m half French, most of the women around me growing up didn’t shave their armpits and I thought nothing of it, nor do I care what they do nowadays. You got hair? You like it? You don’t like shaving? — whatever your answers to those questions are; You do you.

Back to my woes… When I was about 12-14 I hit puberty and things started to change. I was not comfortable with it one bit, and did not understand what was going on. I did not ask any questions either and pretended like everything was fine and I knew everything that was going on was normal. Then one day I was stretching and hanging off a door frame when my father pointed at my armpits and innocently said, “Hey look you’re growing up!”, or something like that. Needless to say, I was embarrassed and did not have anything to say, or think other than to cross my arms and hope this moment would end then. It did.

It only took the better part of a decade and half to find the source of an insecurity, but I did and it was quite cool to see how benign things can have a big effect on the future. The butterfly effect in real life situations!

Another similar situation I’ve been thinking about took place a few years ago when i was living with a girl. I am an “I don’t sleep much, and I don’t know why so I’m a morning and a night” kind of person, and she was not. I liked to play guitar a lot more than I do now [(insertlink) — article about why I have a problem with guitar playing] and I played in the morning because I had the time to. She did not particularly enjoy how lively I was, and still am, in the morning, nor did she like me playing guitar that early.

The reason I know this, is because I overheard her one day chatting with her friend and it went something like this:

Friend: Wow! It’s cool that he plays guitar.

Her: Yes, but I hate it in the morning when practices instead of plays.

I am working on my insecurities and all of these things now, but back then I was definitely being sensitive to everything and everyone around me so I took it as criticism. I put down the guitar, and only picked it up here and there since. I never really played it well, I told myself. It is important to know at this point that I do not blame the girl in question at all for stopping me from playing the guitar, that was all me, and some other past happenings that I will talk about on a later date (Insterlink). It is also important to find out the difference between moments that are remarkable and have a lasting impact versus these other ones that are part of a group of events that have a final cause. What those are for you is up to you to find out, as I am figuring it out for myself as well.

Thank you.

Originally posted 2016-07-16 14:14:40.

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Is it ok if I do?

It is often difficult to navigate certain social situations as an addict, especially if the drug of choice is socially accepted.

People are generally very kind when they know that I don’t drink. Some might sarcastically ask why, but I get it. It is unusual in your mid-twenties not to drink alcohol.

When I am faced with these situations, or invited to events or peoples’ houses where alcohol will be served, I can now confidently say “Yes, I can come. However, if I am not feeling it that day, I will let you know.”. This doesn’t always make sense to people who don’t understand because they are not faced with the possibility of temptation.

Not everyone will understand the following replies to: “Do you want a drink?”, but for those of you who do feel free to use them!

  • I would love a drink, but I have a thing coming up in 6 months and I’d rather be there for it.
  • Yes, and I’m allergic. Ginger ale please!
  • Of course I would. I just can’t afford the other 50.

These may seem corny to some, but to others it is just their reality.

Now the following will change from person to person and from day to day for each of those individuals. If you know anyone that is in recovery from addiction and you would like to know the answer to: “Is it ok if I have a drink?”, just ask. It is their choice to say yes or no, and you should in no way feel pressured by their choice. Simply be aware of the fact that situations can change quickly when a memory is triggered, and that the person you are with no longer feels comfortable. They most definitely are not doing it out of spite. Their present state of being might have just changed. This state of being will be more volatile in early recovery, and should stabilize over time, but it is always better to ask.

The inspiration for this post came from a situation I was faced with a few days ago where a friend of mine asked: “Would it make you uncomfortable if I have 1 or 2 drinks today?”. I did not know this person well yet, so I didn’t want to go into a long winded explanation about how I would feel; so I said that it would make me uncomfortable. There was some misunderstanding on my part as I thought this person wanted to have the drinks in my presence, but that was not the case. They were with friends before we were going to meet, and wanted to know if it was ok for them to share some drinks together.

After this was cleared up, I changed my answer. We hung out, and talked about this whole situation and gained a better understanding of one another.

Long story short, if you want to know; just ask. The person in question might not know how they feel about it themselves. Being patient with them as they analyze how they feel about a certain situation is key. It doesn’t take much patience to figure it out, but it’ll mean the world to them, and I know it does to me, if I am asked.

Thank you.

D.

Originally posted 2016-07-02 14:18:43.