Archive | January, 2015

Namaste

24 Jan

I went to yoga yesterday for the first time in quite a while. I haven’t been able to go because I broke my collarbone badly. How? Falling off a motorcycle. And in full disclosure, it wasn’t even moving. Yup, ambulance ride and all. Five days in the hospital. Surgery. And pain meds. The E.R. doctors immediately started pumping me with morphine to handle the pain. And I immediately started telling them that I am a recovering alcoholic. I’ve heard too many stories about cross-addiction to take any chances. I wanted to get off the pain medication as soon as I possibly could. My husband kept track of them for me and doled them out on a strict schedule.

But back to the accident. Who falls off a stationary motorcycle? That takes real talent. Thank you very much. Then again, I also allowed a ladder to swing down from our attic and hit me smack in the face, giving me a nasty concussion and stitches right between my eyes. What’s even more pathetic is that I was completely SOBER for both of these accidents. In fact, I’ve done more bodily harm to myself sober than I did when I was drinking (not counting the hideous toll the alcohol took on the inside of my entire body). How is that possible? When I drank, I know I fell down countless times. I also know that one night, I went tumbling down a very steep staircase, which honestly could have killed me. Somehow, ironically, we become invincible (or so we think) when we drink.

I figured yoga would be relatively low risk for me to injure myself. Then again, if anyone could turn yoga into a dangerous, contact sport it would be me. Instead of some graceful swan pose, I’d be more likely to transition into falling crane, losing my balance and tumbling into the person next to me. I love yoga but it requires me to be still and sit quietly with myself, something I am not very good at. The teacher instructs us to allow thoughts to come into our mind, acknowledge them and then immediately dismiss them. If I could control my mind like that, I’d be pulling some Uri Geller moves and bending spoons or doing the laundry just by thinking about it. It actually takes practice to be able to sit still and be quiet inside yourself. I need way more practice. While I get into warrior pose, I start going through my grocery list in my head. And then I look at the cool yoga pants on the woman next to me and think to myself that I should get some like that. I wonder where she got them. Oops we have moved on to the next pose, which requires balance. Time for me to hit child’s pose. I’ll stay here for a while. And try to remember what kinds of ice cream I have in the freezer or if I have to go get some on the way home from yoga. As you can tell, I clearly need more practice at quieting my mind.

There were days early on in my sobriety when I tried to do yoga and after about ten minutes, I just slumped into child’s pose and wanted to give up. I was tired, weak, miserable and sometimes still shaking. I also liked to lie flat on my back and call it corpse pose. Luckily, the yoga teacher was very understanding and simply asked if I was ok. I hope what will come with the practice will be longer periods of time where I can be still and just be. If I can take this practice with me out into the real world, perhaps I can even learn to simply acknowledge the thought of wanting a drink and then let it go. Right now, that thought sometimes comes and sets up camp in my brain and won’t leave. Like last night and tonight. It would have been nice if the concussion could have somehow knocked that part of my brain out too.

The quiet, reflective time is not just a suggested practice but is actually an active part of recovery. Meditation and prayer work wonders. As I’ve said many times before, I have to constantly remind myself of the serenity prayer as well as of the need to turn things over to my HP. When my mind is quiet and I can be still, I can remember to do those things. If you haven’t tried yoga, I highly recommend it. And if you see someone in the back of the room wearing a helmet and spending most of the class in child’s pose, that’s me.

To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders” –Lao Tzu

Sharing the Light

10 Jan

“And when you want to live, how do you start, where do you go, who do you need to know?” – The Smiths, The Boy with the Thorn in His Side.

As you may have noticed by now, I’m very fond of quotes. I usually include at least one with every blog piece. My philosophy is: why not share the brilliant words of others instead of struggling to find a way to say it (less eloquently) myself? I also like to call it “sharing the light”. Some of the best quotes and pearls of wisdom I hear are in meetings. And many of them are said by people who are quoting someone else, or sharing the light. Sometimes I hear the same platitude or trite saying again and again, but for some reason, one particular time, it finally gets through my thick skull. For alcoholics, there are many. But as you can see, they can apply to a myriad of situations, self-helpers and, especially, serenity seekers:

-one day at a time
-let go and let God
-change I must or die I will
-do the next right thing
-but for the grace of God
-the best is yet to come
-turn it over
-keep an attitude of gratitude
-get rid of the stinkin’ thinkin’

But the best by far is the Serenity Prayer. If we can just remember that, things would be much easier. For everyone. Not just alcoholics or addicts. Everyone. When times are tough and things aren’t going your way, simply remember this:

God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference.

Really think about that. If we learn to accept the things we cannot change, we would take away a huge chunk of unnecessary worry and stress. Courage is something we could all use, especially courage to take control of situations where we have the ability to make things better. And wisdom, well that goes without saying. But wisdom to know the difference isn’t always easy to come by.

Working toward sobriety and a better life, and changing old destructive ways, IS something I have the ability to control. The disease of alcoholism I cannot change. It’s there. I didn’t ask for it but it’s there. And it’s there for good. I accept that. The courage to change how I deal with it and fight it is something I continue to pray for. The wisdom to know the difference comes from those who share the light with me, and of course, from my Higher Power (HP).

As for my Smiths quote above, “when you want to live, how do you start, where do you go, who do you need to know?”—-I loved the Smiths in high school and college. I still do. Many of Morrissey’s morbid and depressing lyrics (like “sweetness I was only joking when I said I’d like to smash every tooth in your head” and “if a ten-ton truck, killed the both of us, to die by your side, well the pleasure, the privilege is mine”) used to blast from my car radio. They fit in perfectly with my teenage angst and misery of the time. But the quote above always gave me hope. I think it is honestly something that I asked myself deep down many times when I was struggling to crawl out of the terrible dark hole I was in. Now that I have the clarity of my sobriety, I can answer those questions. When you want to live, you start by simply making that choice. That you want to LIVE. In a twelve-step program, that’s always the first step. Where do you go and who do you need to know? Also simple. You need to know where to find those who share the light with you and those who care. You need to know and establish a strong connection to your HP. You need to remember the serenity prayer.

And, that some girls are bigger than others…… (Smiths).

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