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Archive for July, 2009

First year of recovery

The first year of my recovery is a bit of a blur.  I remember some things and I don’t remember others.

The only thing I remember very vividly is the people.  I remember things they said and things they did.   I remember the recovery oozing from their pores and I knew I wanted that.

I wanted what they had.  I wanted to live and breathe recovery.  I wanted to live and breathe the Gamblers Anonymous program.

I went to several meetings per week in my first year.  They suggest going to 90 meetings in 90 days at first and then make a decision on whether the program would work for me or not.   I believe I made my choice on day 62 when I took over chairing the Saturday night 8pm meeting at the Unity Club.

No one in the meeting was willing to take it over and we needed both a secretary and a chairperson.  Guidance Code say the person who secretaries needs to have 6 months clean time – unless there are no members with more than 6 months clean time in the meeting.

On that Saturday night, I took over the secretary and chairperson positions.  For the next year and 9 months, I was the secretary for that meeting.   We would rotate the chair, but I remained as the secretary because no one else wanted to do it.   I felt it was my duty as a GA member to make sure those doors were open for the newcomer, like they were open for me.

I rarely, if ever, missed that meeting.  I finally gave it up to someone who was actually willing to give back to the program.   I continued going to that meeting for a few months, on a regular basis, until I moved to the other side of the universe.

I started going to the west side meetings when I had about 9 months in the program.  This is when I met my platonic soul mate (Todd) and one of the best friends I’ve ever had (M.H.).   The three of us became the three musketeers (or three stooges) and were pretty inseparable.

Todd & M.H. were such a huge part of my 2nd year of recovery – I’ll get to that tomorrow though.

On my one year anniversary, there was a celebration meetings at the Unity Club.   It was on a Saturday morning at 10am.  I had several family members and friends from outside the program there that morning.  My mom, my dad, my cousin J and my friend B were all there to support me.  It was wonderful!

I was blessed, overwhelmed and humbled by the fact there were 50 members in that meeting.  Some of them were sitting on the floor because there were no more chairs in the room.   I cried throughout the whole meeting and I just couldn’t believe how truly blessed I was to have found this group of people who understood me.

After being in the program for about 30 days, I asked S.S. to be my sponsor.  She was spiritual and lovely and beautiful and courageous and I wanted to be just like her.  I wanted what she had.  I wanted what she had gotten from the years of recovery she had.

We became wonderful friends and to this day, she is still one of the most important people in my life.  Since moving 1700 miles away from Vegas, she is the ONE person who has stayed in constant contact with me.  She calls me weekly – sometimes several times a week to check on me.

I’m not as good with picking up the phone like she is, but we do talk at least once a week.  I wouldn’t be here without her, that’s for sure.

I started working the steps in that first year.  Slowly and thoroughly, S.S. and I walked together as I found the mirror to my soul and learned things about myself.   She helped me realize it was okay.  It was okay to feel what I was feeling.  It was okay to be who I was.

She taught me I would be healthier and I could get better.  Everyday I strive to get better, not bitter.

My one year celebration was exactly that.  It was a celebration, not a graduation and the biggest, most profound message I received that day was to Keep Coming Back.

I’m glad I choose to keep going back on a daily basis.

Until tomorrow…

8 years ago today…

This post is VERY long (almost 1,000 words)  Just warning you now before you start reading, you may be here awhile!

Eight years ago, my life was saved. I felt like I was drowning in a sea of depression, loneliness and emotional bankruptcy.

I had just spent my entire paycheck (see the post below this one) and I had to go to work. I was working for the police department in Las Vegas and I was horribly ashamed and embarrassed by what I had done.

As I was sitting in my office, with my co-worker next to me, I called my dad’s sister – The Aunt. The Aunt had been in recovery for awhile and I knew she would know what I was feeling.

I called her in tears and anger. I was angry at myself. I was scared and I didn’t know what to do. The Aunt said to me “What time do you get off work?” When I told her, she instructed me to “pick me up after work – I expect you to be here before 6:30 and we’ll go from there to a meeting.”

At six, when I was leaving the parking lot of the substation I worked at, all I wanted to do was run. I just wanted to hide from everyone and everything. Instead, I let my anger guide me and I pulled into The Aunt’s driveway at 6:20 p.m. on Monday, July 30, 2001.

I went inside and we sat and chatted for a bit. At around 7:15 it was time to go to the meeting just up the street from the house.

At 7:30 p.m., I walked into the Unity Club for the first time. The Unity Club is located in Commercial Center off of Sahara and Maryland Parkway in Las Vegas. At the time, the club was on the second floor, facing Karen Avenue and above the bar that catered to an alternative lifestyle (read: transvestites were the main customer there).

I looked around this room that The Aunt had walked me into and I felt like I had nothing in common with any of the people there. What the hell are you doing, Sodapop? You are NOT as sick as these fuckers. Look at them. They are all losers! They’ve lost their houses, their spouses, their children. What did you lose? Just money. It’s just money. You can make more.

As I fought off that attitude of being better than the people in the room, I started listening to their message. I started hearing about hope and love and acceptance. I started hearing about ME in those people. I started hearing that I had a choice. I didn’t have to do this. I didn’t have to destroy myself.

Holy shit! Who knew!?!?

This meeting was supposed to last an hour and a half. Somewhere in the middle of the meeting, we took a 10 minute smoke break. I was so shy and reserved. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I didn’t want to relate to anyone. I stuck like glue to the side of The Aunt. I did not talk to anyone without her being right there with me.

I remember the face of every single person who was in that room. I could tell you their first name and where they sat in that room. I could tell you the color of their hair and how much eye contact, or lack thereof, they made with me throughout the meeting.

I remember sitting there and finally feeling like I belonged. I was finally among a group of people who would understand when I talked about the urge to go spend my paycheck and just forget all the problems in my life.

I was, as I like to call it, an escape gambler. I was not an action gambler. I didn’t gamble to get high. I did not gamble to get a thrill or adrenaline rush (although those things came along with my gambling, they were not my main focus of gambling.) My main focus of my gambling was to escape.

I did not want to deal with emotions. I did not want to deal with my shortcomings. I did not want to deal with other people’s shortcomings. I wanted to stick my head in the sand and hope that all my problems would just go away.

On this day in history – 8 years ago – my car was almost repossessed from where I work, I had not paid a credit card bill in almost 6 months and I couldn’t pay for anything else. I was broke. I was tired, I was hungry, I was lonely and I was bankrupt – emotionally and financially.

I grabbed a meeting list and a phone list while I was at this meeting. I was given a little yellow book (we call it a Combo Book) and a little gray book called “Towards 90 Days.” I was also given a little keychain with a red plastic thing on it that had GA in big letters and the word Welcome on it. I still have it.

Actually, I still have all of my key chains (Welcome, 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, 6 months, 9 months). I have several coins from my in between pinning years (you get pins on 1, 5, 10, 15, etc) and if you have a good sponsor, you get coins in between. I gave my one year pin to a fellow member when they received one year. I told him the stipulation was that he had to pass it on to the next person he felt needed encouragement the most at one year.

My five year pin is sitting in my jewelry box on my dresser, wrapped in a cloth of satin.

The program saved my life that day. All because The Aunt was willing to drop whatever she had going in her life and help me. She went to my first 7 meetings with me and continues to be a huge part of my life, in and out, of recovery.

It’s only through the Grace of God that I am here today and I’m grateful to be here.

Until tomorrow…

On this day in history (8 years ago)

For the next two or three days, I’m going to be doing some historical posts.

Eight years ago today, I was sitting in the Suncoast casino, playing a machine that played disco music every time I got to the bonus place.  WOOOOWEEEEE how awesome those little songs were.

I had just gotten paid 2 days previous and I was rolling through the last of my paycheck.

I can not tell you how many times I hit the ATM while I was in the casino.   I can’t tell you how many times I wrote a check, knowing I did not have the money in my account to cover said check.

I spent 8 hours in that casino.  It was a Sunday afternoon, I had no where to go and no one to call or answer too.   I was doing something I enjoyed – escaping life.

I loved being able to go to that casino and lose myself for hours on end.  Little did I realize I was losing myself and would end up in prison, jail or insane.  Or all three.

While I was sitting at the slot machines or poker machines or keno machines – whatever I played that day – I had this nagging fear in the back of my head.  I knew what I was doing.  I knew I was spending all of my money and had just gotten paid on Friday.   I knew I had an appointment with a bankruptcy attorney the following week and needed money for the fee.   I knew this.  I knew it all.

I continued throwing money into those machines like I had money to burn.  I even won at one point.  I had $800 or more in the machine at one point.  I continued playing.

I continued playing until I had nothing in that machine and had hit the ATM several more times.

I walked out of the Suncoast Casino at 9pm on a Sunday evening and all I wanted to do was die.

Once I walked out into the desert heat of Las Vegas, I realized what I had done.  While I knew it during the gambling, I didn’t really get it until I had no more money left.

I was in tears by the time I got to my car.  I was hysterical.  I couldn’t drive like that, so I sat in my car, smoking cigarettes I spent $6.50 on in the casino machine.

I sat there for a good 30 minutes before putting my car in gear and heading home.

As I was driving on the freeway, all I could think about was dying.  I had never thought of physically hurting myself until that day.  Thankfully it was the first and last time I wanted to physically hurt myself.

The next morning, I called my dad’s sister and asked for help.

Until tomorrow….

Looking for the sleepy

I am usually dead tired by now.  I’m usually getting ready for bed and turning out my light.

However, I am not sleepy and I refuse to go to bed until I am.  I’m watching the local 10pm news and then will consider it again.

I had a pretty good day at work today.  I have so much crap to do and it’s a little overwhelming, but I’m not freaking out totally yet.

You’ll remember I bitched about having to create a spreadsheet for every employee of the FD that is covered under the union contract.  This totals about 490 out of the 516 employees that we have.

In this spreadsheet, I needed a column for every pay period from now until 2011.  It has complicated formulas and a list of all the payroll codes we use.

Once those were created, I password protected them all and now I’m back into them.   I get to go through each person on the payroll and enter their information from each pay period.

I’ve been pretty busy, so I didn’t get the first pay period of the FY done yet, so I’m working on that now.  Great fun, I tell ya!  I’ll be doing this each pay period until the contract is renewed.   At least I know I won’t run out of work anytime soon!  LOL

Someone at work said something today and it got me to thinking.  Do I encourage my friends?   Do I make sure they know that I believe in them and have faith in them?  I’d like to think that I do.  I’d like to think that I make it known how much faith I have in them and I express it at every chance I get.

We were discussing friendships and how this person’s best friend from childhood has suddenly stopped supporting her and encouraging her to get through whatever it was she was going through.   It had not happened recently, it was just something that came up in conversation.

Once we were done, I went back to my spreadsheets and started thinking about my friendships.  I have a bad habit.  I have a habit of expecting people to treat me the way I treat them.  While I know this is the Golden Rule, after all, I need to stop expecting it.  When I expect it, I get disappointed because not everyone is going to live up to my expectations.

Again, it comes back to me and MY actions and reactions.  As long as I’m doing the right thing and striving to remain on the side of right, I’m going to be okay.  I need to stop focusing on what everyone else is doing and not take ownership of their stuff.

And just to remain accountable for my own shit, I missed my one meeting tonight.  I had planned on leaving here at 7:30 for the 8pm meeting.  I got busy packing and throwing things out and lost track of time.  No excuse, no reason to miss it.

And now I will be picking myself up by the boot straps and putting myself back on track.

Until next time…

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Baby steps, baby steps, baby steps

I met with my GA sponsor Friday evening before the meeting.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve started making small goals to attain weekly.  I’ve also started making some committments with my sponsor, on a weekly basis.

I made a committment to meet him and his wife at church today.   It seems so insignificant, but I haven’t been to Southeast Christian in a while.   If you remember, I had been searching for a church where I felt a part of, not apart from.  SECC has almost 20,000 members as a whole.  I feel very lost and insignificant there.

However, I love the sermons and I love the connection I feel with the two main pastors.  I am taking baby steps to get back into going to SECC.  There are three services each week, so I’ve made a commitment to try one of the other two services next week.  Saturday at 5pm, Sunday at 9am and 11:15am are the services.  I’ve always attended the 11:15 service, which is the most popular one to attend.

I’m wondering if the other two services will be less crowded and I will feel more comfortable in my own skin there?  It’s time for me to find out.

I had a great time being involved in the Blogathon yesterday.  I did a few shifts blogging for Doctors Without Borders over at Therapy In the Making.

I signed up for two shifts.  The first shift, I did four posts and the second I did two.   It was awesome reading all the other bloggers I was teamed up with, as well.

I had a migraine when I woke up this morning, but I decided to go to church anyway, because I had made that committment and I wanted to keep it.  I’m working on learning how to (again) make these small committments and following through on them.  I had gotten into the habit of just not following through and it is totally not like me.

I’ve made another weekly goal and that is to attend my two meetings for my two programs and church.   As I work through this funk, there have been very few people who know exactly how I’m feeling about stuff.  My mom, brother and BFF in Vegas are the only three people I’ve talked to about everything I’m feeling.

And even then, it’s actually more just my BFF in Vegas.  Since she and I reconnected, she calls me everyday on her way home from work at 3pm Vegas time.  It’s 6pm my time and I make sure I’m sitting in a place to relax and have my phone with me.

She doesn’t let me isolate.  She calls me until I answer.  LOL  If I don’t answer the first time she calls, she will continuously call until I answer.  This has only happened once or twice, but she’s already told me that’s what she’ll do.  I love it, although I don’t really think she needs to take ownership of my isolation in the way that she has.

I am going to go lay down, try to get rid of this headache and watch the NASCAR race.   I was supposed to go up to Indy for this to meet an old friend Multi Comm days, but we both had to cancel due to financial constraints.  Ah well.  We’ll plan for something else some other time!

Until next time…

What will you be doing today?

For me, I will be cleaning, packing and organizing.  I will also be encouraging some of my Blogathan buddies, as well as posting for a few hours over at Colin’s place.

There is a team of 8 of us.   A few of them, I do not know or I would link to them.  But the others involved are Colin (of course), me, Miss Monique, Miss Dana and Dave2 of Blogography.   We’ll be taking shifts and blogging every half an hour.   The charity of choice is Doctors Without Borders.  What an incredible organization!

Beyond that, I have no plans for the day.  I currently have all the windows open (it’s only 75!) but it’s supposed to warm up at some point, so I’m sure I’ll be closing them soon!

Enjoy your Saturday!

Until next time…

Kicking it into gear….

I made a commitment to myself a few weeks ago, to really kick start things back into gear with my recovery.

I committed to one GA meeting a week and one Al-Anon meeting a week.  So far, so good!

I met my sponsor (GB) about 30 minutes before tonight’s meeting so we could start going over what I had done for Step 8 (Made a list of all people we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all).  It was an awesome 30 minutes and if we had not had the meeting to attend, we would probably have stayed out there discussing stuff for hours.

I felt really good about getting back into things and I’ve been given some assignments that I’m going to start working on in the morning.  The goal here is to do it everyday for a week and then go from there.

One of my many problems is over-comittment or under-comittment.  I either over-commit myself and end up bailing on some or I under-commit and become complacent.

I am searching for that happy balance somewhere in the middle.  I’m sure it will take me awhile to get there, but it’s a good goal to have.

There are a few other things I’ll be doing throughout the week as a part of my goal and I’m actually looking forward to the healing process that will come from all of this.

Someone on my FB friends list mentioned that they had been worried about me and maybe they should have called.  I’ve noticed a trend with addicts that even when we are worried about someone because we haven’t seen them or heard from them, we tend to stick our heads in the sand and ignore it.   It’s not that we do it intentionally or maliciously, we just do it.

As an addict, I’m a very selfish person.   I stretch and strain sometimes to show compassion to others.   I stretch and strain to actually pick up the phone and check on someone in the program.

While it would have been an awesome feeling to hear from some of my GA friends during my little funk here, I’m thinking I had to go through it alone as far as I could and then reach my hand out.  We’ll see, I suppose.

A part of me has been letting my feelings get hurt.  Very badly.  Simply because of what people in the program do not do.  Hello!?!? I have no more control over what people do NOT do as I do with what they DO.   Sheeeesh  Let me just take on the whole world’s feelings and what not.

On that note, tomorrow is the Blogathon.  I won’t be participating for the whole 24 hours, but I will be doing some posts over at Colin’s little neck of the woods.   We will be blogging for Doctors Without Borders, which is a wonderful organization.

I never really knew what they did until I agreed to help with the Blogathon.  So I went to their website and read all about it.  WOW!  What a worthwhile cause.   I’m blessed and humbled that I’m going to be a part of it.

Until next time…

By the end of the night, SHE apologized to me…..

Sometimes, being able to “talk” has it’s advantages.

Earlier this evening, I heard someone wailing and crying as they ran up the stairs to the Train Wreck’s apartment.

I have been trying to not get involved in the shit, so I stayed inside and ignored it.   And then I heard glass shattering and more wailing.  *le sigh*

I opened my door to see what was going on and the girl above me started talking to me about TW’s escapades tonight.  Oh boy.

I went in and got the whole story.  First of all, she is drunk.  Let me premise this whole post with that statement.  She is drunk off her ass.  Again.

We started chatting about how her mom had upset her and she was throwing shit around.  She then started screaming at me for “disrespecting” her by going to the office instead of her the first time she got a letter threatening eviction if she kept it up.

We argued for a bit, her yelling, me raising my voice a little bit and telling her I refused to take ownership of her actions.   I told her I can only own my own shit and so I told her no disrespect was meant, I talked to her face to face the night it happened, I didn’t feel there was a respect issue.

I did, however, tell her that the next time she does something, I will come to her first before going to the office.

She told me she got another letter, which I had nothing to do with, so I made that clear.   I told her, in front of the Crazy Chick’s daughter that until someone starts paying my rent, I will continue complaining to the office until the shit stops.   I pay too much to listen to that shit.   The daughter ran downstairs immediately and went next door.  So this tells me I may start having trouble with the Crazy Chick.   Awesome.

Train Wreck asked if she could walk me downstairs, so I said sure.   We just spent an hour chatting about things and somehow we got to a point where she asked me to be her roommate in a different apartment complex.  LOL

I don’t know how I avoided that shit, but I changed the subject and we moved on.   I let her take my alarm clock, since I use my phone, and her phone is dead at the moment.  She can’t find her charger – which is what started this whole episode off.

By the time she walked out of my apartment, she apologized for yelling and screaming at me and said it wouldn’t happen again.   Awesome.  I don’t want to stick around to find out if she’s telling the truth.

I’ll be calling the office tomorrow and letting them know I want a different one bedroom.  Period.  I do not want to stay in this building.   I’ll worry about getting people to help me move later, right now, I need a different apartment.

Until next time…

Co-dependence and the recovering compulsive gambler

How the fuck did I get here?  Not only am I in recovery for MY addiction, but I am now in recovery for my reaction to and development from my father’s addiction.   How crazy is that shit?

Co-dependency – (from Merriam-Webster) –  a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (as an addiction to alcohol or heroin)broadly : dependence on the needs of or control by another

For me, this means I depend on you for my feelings.  I depend on you for my outlook on myself.  I depend on you for love, validation and respect.   I depend on you for my self worth.

What bullshit.

I’m learning to NOT depend on you for any of that.  I’m learning to depend on ME for all of it.   I’m learning to depend on myself and what is within me for that self worth I find so distant right now.

Al-Anon has taught me quite a bit in the last month since I’ve been going regularly.  It’s frightening.  I look in this mirror of co-dependence and I do not like what I see.   I do not like it one little bit.  I will also go through these little thought processes of not wanting to deal with that shit yet.  It makes me not want to go and face myself.  But how healthy is that, really?

However, I’m working on it.  I’m working on me and I’m working on my own little evolution.  One thing, if anything, GA has taught me is the self awareness to know when I’m heading down the right path.   I’m definitely heading down the path that will teach me what I need to know.

I say the word evolution a lot, but it’s the only one I can find that describes what I’m going through most of the time.

I am constantly changing and evolving.   Most of the time,  I change for the better and sometimes, just sometimes, I change for the not so better.  Ya know?

I’ve been anxious and fidgety.  I’ve been lazy and angry.  I could sit here and list every wrong I think you’ve ever committed against me.   I could sit here and list every that is wrong with you.   I could sit here and look in your mirror and take your inventory all freaking day long.

However, I don’t feel like doing that.  I barely have enough energy to look at my own fucking inventory most days to be worried about what the hell you are doing.   And besides that, GA taught me not to take your inventory.   I’m not responsible for your inventory.

I’ve learned in the last month that one of my many characteristics from my childhood is feeling that I AM responsible for the way you feel.   I’ve also learned in the last month that I’m really not all that responsible for much of anything.   I’m responsible for me, my actions, my words and my heart.

I’m responsible for doing the next right thing for me and making sure my side of the street is cleaned daily.

Today, my street is clean.  Today, I take responsibility for myself, not any of you.

Until next time…