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  • Reflections

    This is a space visited by peer workers who have a lived experience of addiction and recovery and is an opportunity to relate to and draw hope from those who have been through similar things as you.
    PnorkelPW
    Peer Worker
    Posts: 196
    Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 3:14 pm

    Reflections

    Thu Jul 01, 2021 8:28 pm

    Howdy! I wanted to start a thread around just sharing your thoughts, your reflections or whatever is on your mind. I guess it’s kind of like a journaling page and I’d love it if you added a piece of writing when it feels right for you.

    It came about because I sat down earlier to respond to something for another thread but was suddenly hit by a big thought that didn’t really fit with what I was writing. I wanted to get it out and then I thought it might be handy to share and see if anyone else identifies with it. Sometimes it can help to share this stuff and lessen the load on my mind.

    There is no theme to this thread……..it’s just whatever you feel like sharing at the time
    2 x
    PnorkelPW
    Peer Worker
    Posts: 196
    Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 3:14 pm

    Re: Reflections

    Thu Jul 01, 2021 9:08 pm

    There’s a number of thoughts floating around my head at the moment and I’m struggling with them. They’ve been banging around in there for a long time and have to do with wanting a relationship but having very little time to dedicate to one. I fall into black and white thinking about it just not being an option instead of letting go and seeing what happens if I try. This leads to feelings of loneliness and isolation but I’m comfortable with where my life is right now. I’d just like someone to share it with. The dating world can be full of rejection and disappointment so I put up an exterior that says I’m happy being single and “just having fun”. It’s short term and messes with my head because it pushes me out of alignment and can lead to thoughts of looking for external solutions to internal problems.

    I keep thinking I should be able to figure this out.

    One of the biggest traps I still fall into is trying to do everything myself and thinking that no one wants to hear about my problems or that I should be capable of working through whatever is going on for me.

    The fact is that I am capable of working through whatever is happening but sometimes I need assistance from others. I don’t have all the answers or instant access to what is needed but with the help of others I can get to where I need to be. I always make myself available to listen to what’s happening for other people so why wouldn’t other people be available for me? It’s purely an ego/self esteem thing that’s happening for me and not being balanced in my outlook.

    If my ego is too high I fall into the trap of thinking I should be able to work through my stuff alone. If it’s my self esteem that’s out of whack I fall into the trap of thinking that no one wants to hear about my problems. This might sound strange but I know I’m travelling well when I ask for help because it means that I’m accepting myself for not having all the answers and acknowledging that there is a way through whatever is happening if I swallow my pride and ask for assistance.

    The word should came up a couple of times in there. I have a physical reaction to the words should and shouldn’t because they come from a place of judgment and when I’m judging myself I’m looking at things all wrong. Language is huuuge when undergoing any sort of reflective work. Coming at things from a place of acceptance rather than judgment will have a much greater positive outcome in the longrun. Accepting yourself as you are means that you’re starting to discover the things you would like to improve about yourself and the things that you would prefer to move on from.

    So I’m going to have a think about where I’m sitting at the moment. Am I in a place of judgment or acceptance and who do I need to reach out to if there’s work to be done?

    Ego……….self esteem…………they play such a pivotal role in building a life free from active addiction.

    Anyhoo………maybe no one sees this but it’s helped me understand myself a bit better today. To anyone who reads it………..thanks for visiting the forum and I hope to read about whatever you would like to share some time.
    1 x
    PnorkelPW
    Peer Worker
    Posts: 196
    Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 3:14 pm

    Re: Reflections

    Mon Jul 12, 2021 8:45 pm

    My weekend was about doing things even though I didn’t really want to………because I know that’s what I have to do. If I sit and do nothing it’s not good for my mental health. My mental health is sneaky too because it just slowly gets chipped away before I realise I haven’t given it enough attention. I think I’m okay and that I’m on top until waking up one morning and just not wanting to get out of bed. I always feel better when I get up and do things – and deep down I know it - but I keep sleeping which has domino effects.

    When I sleep in too late it takes me longer to leave the house and then I feel like the morning is wasted. I start to feel like there’s not much time left in the day and then struggle to work out what to do based on the time I have left and yep…………that wastes more time! That’s what leads to the procrastination loop because I have a fight in my head bouncing between “Oh well, I’ll just do stuff tomorrow instead” and “Don’t waste any more time, get up and do something!”

    That gets pretty tiring and I’m finding that through winter it’s becoming easier to blame the cold.

    Ultimately I know I need to do things so on the weekend I did my best and won the battle both days. Saturday was a 5km bushwalk and Sunday was kicking the soccer ball at the beach again with my daughter……….followed by icecream which I think may have been the biggest driving force that got me there.

    Getting up and going for the bushwalk on Saturday resulted in us getting home about 4 hours later because we got some lunch, wandered the shops and did the grocery shopping. Then I did some food prep which filled in more time and I ended up feeling a sense of accomplishment when I sat to relax with my daughter afterwards.

    It’s harder to win the battle during winter but I’m determined not to let it beat me. I’m glad I didn’t completely waste the weekend and halved the crappy feeling because when I feel crappy I start to think about things outside myself to make me feel better. That’s definitely not a healthy space for me so I’ll continue to work on staying busy, getting up and moving and getting my sleep patterns sorted.

    Does any of this sound familiar to you or spark some other thoughts?
    1 x
    ScorpionPW
    Peer Worker
    Posts: 225
    Joined: Tue Apr 13, 2021 10:06 am

    Re: Reflections

    Mon Jul 12, 2021 9:53 pm

    I loved reading this @PnorkelPW....it really made me reflect on the fact that self care doesn't always have to feel good or be enjoyable.

    For so long in addiction, it was all about instant gratification and the easy way out to anything and everything...how can I get the biggest pay off with the least effort? What can I get away with?

    What you said about having to put the effort in to improve your mental health and looking at what you did accomplish and how it improved your mindset somewhat is great, a real message of progress not perfection.

    I've just been getting back on track with eating well and exercising regularly and man have I had to ride some difficult cravings to eat crap and not work out. Tonight when I got home from work I wanted to get a big bowl of butter chicken and curl up on the couch more than anything....But, I did my work out, cooked a really healthy meal and feel sooo much better for it.

    I share this to reflect on the fact that when trying to form new habits and pursue meaningful life change whether it be mental, physical emotional, spiritual or otherwise I think it's vital to step outside of our comfort zone, to get comfortable feeling uncomfortable and tuning in to what self care is in any given moment. Whether it is just stopping and relaxing when you need to or whether it's pushing through difficult patches of craving or a lack of motivation and putting the action in anyway.

    Thanks for sharing :)
    1 x
    PnorkelPW
    Peer Worker
    Posts: 196
    Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 3:14 pm

    Re: Reflections

    Thu Jul 15, 2021 9:38 pm

    I remember when I was in active addiction that weekends were always something to look forward to because the party was gonna get going but towards the end the weekends were filled with dread about just what might happen, whether I’d even remember it and what other damage I might cause in the process to myself, someone else or something else.

    When I first got into recovery the weekends brought up nerves and fear because I didn’t know if I’d get through it clean and sober. The early days were the hardest but I kept myself safe by going to 12 step meetings on Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday night. That sounds like a lot but after 3 months in rehab I finally got an idea and understanding of what 12 step was about. I’d been to meetings a couple of times before over the years but for reasons such as denial, fear and thinking it was religious I never really followed through. After rehab though I thought “What have I got to lose? I’ll give it a proper chance.”

    Meetings gave me a place to be and that was important early days. It was a safe place to be and I heard stories of hope. Stories from people who had felt the same way I had. Felt the same way I did in the early days. What was reassuring to hear was that they still had the moments of fear and doubt that I was feeling and it gave me a sense of comfort because I was able to talk to them before and after the meetings too. Finally I was with people who understood me…………..and I didn’t feel alone.

    Knowing there was a meeting at night helped me get through the day and by the time I got to the meeting, hung around afterwards and talked to people and then got home I was ready to relax for a short time and go to bed. If you want your car fixed you go to a mechanic. If you want a haircut you go to the barber or hairdresser. If you want to learn about recovery you talk to people in recovery. That’s who I found at 12 step meetings.

    AA, NA, GA aren’t for everyone but I urge you to give it a go. You just might find some connection, identification and hope.
    Someone said to me once “Just give it a go for 12 months and if you don’t like it after that you can have your misery back.” I gave it a go and found recovery.

    I’m happy to answer any questions you might have about 12 step programs………….what would you like to know?
    1 x
    WildeReformed
    Junior Member
    Posts: 24
    Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2021 2:46 pm

    Re: Reflections

    Sat Jul 24, 2021 8:49 pm

    I feel like you have been living in my head in your reflections @PnorkelPW

    I too feel that I fall into a trap of feeling responsible to solve all of my problems and that no one will want to hear... or will understand the challenges that I face or have faced. It can be pretty isolating because true connection happens when you share your vulnerabilities and allow people to share theirs. When it is just onesided, allowing people to share theirs, I feel we put up a block to ever really being known. This is something that has been playing on my mind a lot recently. I often feel that no one really knows who I am and I recently reached out to my longest time friend to let her know that I needed help. She gave me some of the best advice and if I hadn't been vulnerable about my anxiety in that moment I would never have received it.

    I've also been blaming the cold for not wanting to do things lately. I haven't wanted to cook because my kitchen is too cold so I sit in bed instead when I wanted to get up early eat and go for a walk or do yoga. Then I feel really guilty for not doing those things. The same thing happens when I decide to not do uni work and procrastinate. I feel terrible for procrastinating and get in my head saying all the things that I should be doing and I don't end up doing anything productive. I don't do uni, or give myself a break to relax.

    I struggle with all of the 'rules' that I have in place to help with my mental health and addictions. Exercise. Eat healthy. Do meditation. They can feel like such a chore and then before I know it I've slid back into anxiety or depression and feel like I have to reset from the beginning again.

    Something that I have started to ask myself "is this good for me?" and if the answer is no then I stop doing it. It works for the unhelpful guilt as well as the procrastination. Then I ask myself "what am I choosing?" sometimes we forget that it is a choice and that there is power in that choice. If I'm choosing to stay in bed later, then that is my intentional choice and it gives me a little bit of power back. If I replace the 'i should exercise' with 'I choose to exercise' it can help me continue with the small but powerful tasks that I need to keep me on track and feeling my best.
    6 x
    PnorkelPW
    Peer Worker
    Posts: 196
    Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 3:14 pm

    Re: Reflections

    Mon Jul 26, 2021 8:55 pm

    And there in lies the power of sharing @WildeReformed. Thanks for sharing as well.......you too @ScorpionPW........I've identified with both of your responses.

    I've been asking myself the question of whether I'm justifying my actions or whether there are deeper reasons for my decision making and lack of action. Uncertainty breeds doubt and fear.

    Your shares have given me plenty to think about.

    @WildeReformed I read this thing ages ago and it's always stuck with me...........it goes along the premise that "you" don't exist because everyone you meet will have a different opinion and version of who "you" are. Every day your version of "you" changes as well because new experiences bring changes to "you"

    Your parents, brothers, friends, retail staff, people who only ever meet you for a few seconds..........all of them will have a version of "you"

    Do you ever really know who you are? Or do you continue to grow and evolve as you go so no one true version of "you" exists?

    It makes me open to learning and using every day as an opportunity to be a better human

    It's a bit of a head #$@%............but I like it
    2 x
    WildeReformed
    Junior Member
    Posts: 24
    Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2021 2:46 pm

    Re: Reflections

    Fri Jul 30, 2021 4:55 pm

    @PnorkelPW I really like that thought, it's existential. Do I exist? Not really. We are all just random collections of half-truths and preconceived ideas. I get stuck in the meaning of 'I' and in trying to think of who I am. I'm trying to change that thought process and instead look at who I am in terms of what I value. I'm neither good nor bad, instead, I place the weight in what I value.
    1 x
    PnorkelPW
    Peer Worker
    Posts: 196
    Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 3:14 pm

    Re: Reflections

    Mon Aug 02, 2021 8:36 pm

    @WildeReformed it’s like when people try and tell me I’m not being authentic because I’ve made a different decision to last time or behaving in a way I usually don’t………….the counter argument to that is that I am being authentic because that’s how I feel in that exact moment………regardless of whether it’s consistent with their expectations
    2 x
    ScorpionPW
    Peer Worker
    Posts: 225
    Joined: Tue Apr 13, 2021 10:06 am

    Re: Reflections

    Wed Aug 11, 2021 9:49 pm

    I absolutely love what you've said here @PnorkelPW, resonated with me so much!

    It's like giving youself permission to experience change. Recovery is a journey where for many of us, we don't have a choice other than to begin a process of significant behavioural and cognitive change.

    I remember having some friends who dropped off through my process of change because they were still stuck in the same stuff, I was moving through it and all of a sudden was not on their level anymore and they couldn't understand what was happening with me. They told me I was being brainwashed and couldn't understand why I couldn't just have a drink every now and then.

    This really reminds me that whoever is meant to be on this journey with me, will be. Allowing myself to let people go who do not serve who I am and the way I live now only makes room for new connections and new life experiences.
    2 x
    PnorkelPW
    Peer Worker
    Posts: 196
    Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 3:14 pm

    Re: Reflections

    Thu Aug 12, 2021 9:21 pm

    Yeah you know what they say @ScorpionPW ………..surround yourself with people who drag you up not down

    Thanks for acknowledging this and reminding me that I’m making decisions that maintain my boundaries and protect my recovery
    1 x
    OceanSky
    Junior Member
    Posts: 13
    Joined: Mon Aug 30, 2021 8:04 am

    Re: Reflections

    Mon Aug 30, 2021 9:08 am

    Thank you @PnorkelPW for this thread. I’m reflecting today on how much I need to connect with others grappling with similar issues. It’s hard doing it on one’s own. Support is so valuable for me in recovery. ❤️‍🩹 Lockdown is hard alone and everyone preoccupied with their own lives. Struggling alone. Hard to be open and authentic when there is no-one to listen. I keep trying but keep grappling with relapse on lonely days. It’s hard. Thank you for this forum. 🙏🏻
    1 x
    PnorkelPW
    Peer Worker
    Posts: 196
    Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 3:14 pm

    Re: Reflections

    Thu Sep 09, 2021 8:22 pm

    I've done a lot of thinking this week and this just kinda poured out of me this afternoon...........hopefully someone finds some identification and if not just writing it and getting it out of my head has been an immense help. I encourage you to write your reflections sometimes too.

    I’ve employed some self care this week and spoke to my bosses about not attending work and using a combination of flexible work hours and time in lieu. It’s meant that I’ll work at my own pace but not be expected to do a full week either. I can just do what I feel I’m up for which ensures I stay on top of my workload but also give myself the space to grieve and reset as necessary.

    I can’t stress the importance of self care enough in life but especially for those in recovery. I’ve been able to recognise through my journal that self care has dropped off lately and this has a domino effect on my life. As self care drops off, my sleep drops off, diet is next and any exercise then goes out the window. What I’ve been able to recognise is that that this hasn’t been sudden……….it’s been a slow steady decrease in self care and a resultant lack of motivation to do anything. I’ve been throwing myself into work as a distraction from life during lockdown in an attempt to keep me busy………this has only resulted in an increase in stress and burnout. What’s happened is that addiction has reared its head in another way for me because I’m one of those people who finds that addiction isn’t just about substances…….it’s also about behaviours. Sure substances are my main issue but gambling, sex and porn play big parts as well. There’s one I don’t mention much and that’s that I’m also a workaholic………..because I really don’t like admitting it.

    Some may scoff at that but for me it’s dangerous. You see, for me addiction is about anything that takes me away from myself and has a negative impact on my life by giving me a negative escape from reality. I used to love losing myself for hours in a TAB just staring at the screens and forgetting about what was happening outside those walls. The same used to be said for watching porn for hours, surfing the apps for sex or getting a massage with a “happy ending”……….it just took me away from what was happening for me for a while in the same ways drugs and alcohol did. At times I’ve been addicted to exercise and healthy eating but they have a positive impact and if I’m balancing it with the rest of my life then I’m okay with that. All the other stuff has a negative impact though because it’s short term, doesn’t make me feel any better in the long run and just adds to my guilt and shame.

    It’s when I’m doing things to avoid life that I need to be worried and for a while now that has been work. I work late which means I don’t allow time for self care. I do extra work on weekends which results in a lack of self care. I don’t get as much sleep because I stay up watching television trying to wind down when reading a book or doing some light exercise or meditation would be better choices. What’s happened though is that I’ve lost the motivation to do that stuff because I’m tired. Being tired ends up in my body needing more energy which gets interpreted as needing food and I make poor choices because it’s “easier” and my body is craving sugar. When I work so much I stop calling friends and that results in a negative headspace because I know what I “should” be doing. As all this happens I end up unhappier and that’s dangerous because it can lead to thoughts of finding happiness in any of my other addictions. All because I have this constant feeling of being “busy” but which could be avoided by me employing better boundaries.

    When my friend died at the start of the week I thought I was okay. I thought I could just push through and I had my daughter as a distraction for the first couple of days. I’d spoken to work and decided to take Monday and Tuesday off and thought I was okay. When I dropped my daughter off Wednesday morning though I knew I needed more time and that work wasn’t the “distraction” I needed. I’m grateful for that though because it demonstrates the work I’ve done on myself over the last few years and that I’m not just recognising the warning signs but taking action on them. For now they are just warning signs but my past is littered with occasions of ignoring these and ending up in lapse and relapse.

    It’s been important for me to take this time out and hit a reset button. I’ve wallowed for a couple of days and feel like I’m coming through the other side but that wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t take the time out. I know there’ll be more grieving in the future but it was important I didn’t ignore it. I had to give myself the time to feel the grief and not push it away with work or any other “distraction”. I’ve learnt the importance of feeling emotions be they happy or sad or anything in between. At times like this though where big emotions are at play it’s even more important that I feel them. Sit in the discomfort and move through it so that I can move on. It doesn’t mean that I won’t feel the sadness in the future but it means that the emotion won’t be as “big” because I’m working through it.

    I know my work patterns and self care patterns need to be addressed. I know the balance of my life needs to be addressed and that boundaries need to be implemented. What matters now is that I take the action on this. There’s no shame in admitting that life gets tough sometimes and that I need a time out. Once upon a time I thought it was tough to just keep going no matter what……..now I know that the real strength is in putting my hand up and saying “I’m not okay” or “I need some help”. Life isn’t meant to be done alone and as today is RUOK Day I want you to answer two questions really honestly………..The first is easy………RUOK?????............but then get brutally honest and ask yourself………..are you REALLY ok????

    If not then call someone and reach out for help. I spoke to my bosses who were amazing and gave me the space I needed. No one has all the answers and we need people to help us………..who do you need to talk to help you?

    Thanks for reading and I hope you’ve found some identification
    2 x
    PnorkelPW
    Peer Worker
    Posts: 196
    Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 3:14 pm

    Re: Reflections

    Thu Sep 09, 2021 8:26 pm

    Thanks @OceanSky ...........I'm glad you've found some identification.

    Have you tried any AA, NA or SMART Recovery meetings during this lockdown at all? They can just be a great way to feel some connection
    0 x
    BonsaiBeginner
    Junior Member
    Posts: 21
    Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2021 2:30 pm

    Re: Reflections

    Thu Sep 09, 2021 8:53 pm

    @PnorkelPW thank you for sharing. It really is hard to admit that everything is not okay and especially admit that you don't have a healthy relationship with work. It is so socially acceptable to be a workaholic. With all the self care and wellbeing focus at the moment, I think the point missing is that knowing when to say no and really take time out to rest, reflect and grieve is essential.

    Yesterday I admitted to myself that I was not okay and finally made the call to my GP. I was lucky to get an appointment and have started back on antidepressants and booked in for counselling. The antidepressants have some side effects and are hard to withdraw from when I am coping but I know that they will help me detach from my emotions and the unhelpful thoughts. By the time I see the psychologist I will through much of the stress that has worn me down but I know I will still be working through my alcohol issues.

    I am determined to stay sober again this weekend and am grateful to have found this forum.
    2 x

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