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Archive for the ‘Recovery’ Category

The core of who I am

A few months ago, I suddenly felt unsafe in coming to this blog and expressing myself.  I felt judged and I felt hate coming from some of the people who live in my computer.  I felt vulnerable and if anyone knows me, I *hate* feeling vulnerable.  I hate it so much, I sometimes block myself off from people so that I won’t feel it.  At all.  I build a wall up and I make it so high and so thick, not many people can break it down or are willing to even try.  I block my thoughts, emotions and opinions down so deep, when I finally take part of the wall down, it’s like a gusher spewing forth.

The core of who I am is that I am honest, I am compassionate and I am courageous.  I will never lie about what I’m going through – self inflicted or not.  I will never beat around the bush on this blog.  I express myself and I tell you exactly what I think.  I take from my personal experience, I learn from it and I express myself.  At least, I used too.  I stopped doing that for awhile.  I’m done with that.  I’m back.

This is not only my safe haven, but this is my way of writing down the things that I go through and think so that I can go back later and see how far I’ve come.  I’ve come a long way, a very long way.  I grew up in a single parent household where my mother taught me the integrity, honesty and compassion I would need to trudge forth in my life as an adult.  She gave me her wisdom and her ideas and her love.   She also gave me her respect.  She respected me enough to know that whatever I go through, I will end up landing on my two feet stronger and smarter than ever.  My mother and my brother have always been the two biggest supporters I’ve had in my life.

I grew up the child of an alcoholic.  I grew up without a proper father figure.  I’ve learned and grown from this information.  Yes, I let it sometimes lead me down the unhealthy path, but I always find my way back.  I always end up learning something from that unhealthy choice I made six months or nine months or five years ago (whatever the case may be).  I am a compulsive gambler.  I started gambling illegally at the age of 16 when I was in high school.  I would go to the Sundance Casino (now Fitzgerald’s) and gamble until security carded me and I’d pretend I left my ID in my car.  I wouldn’t go back for weeks.

I sought treatment for my problems and the therapist referred me to gambler’s anonymous.  In 1998.  It took me 3 more years and a family member to get me into the rooms and to consistently go to meetings.  I learned about who I am and what makes me tick.  I learned how to accept myself, even with my defects of character and not beat myself up over them.  I learned how to accept people for who they were and love them despite their defects of character.  I’ve learned courage and serenity and wisdom.  I’ve learned how to live on my own and enjoy it, for the most part.  I’ve learned who I am, what I stand for, and what I believe in.  I stand in my own truth.  I am not perfect.  I’ve never claimed to be.

When Todd died, I sought treatment for anxiety and depression.  I still seek help for these two things.  I don’t know if it was his death that just brought it all up and forward or if I’m just still stuck in a rut sometimes.  But I get help when I need it – it just may take me awhile to finally get off my ass and do it.  Thankfully, because of the GA program, my Higher Power, and some of my friends, I know when I need a little extra push to get off my ass.

I’m not happy all of the time.  I don’t know anyone who is.  I do know that though, for today?  I am happy as I can be.  Could I be happier?  Hell yes.  I could be living within an hour or two of my family.  I could be sitting in my mother’s living room or my brother’s house with my nephews fighting over who is going to sit next to me.  Those things would make me happier.

The core of who I am has not changed.  I still have the same sense of humor.  I still have the same amount of compassion for people in my life; past and present.  I still believe in myself and have learned to give myself room to grow and room to make mistakes.

I am 100% accepting of the fact I am who I am.  I am comfortable in my own skin, I am still honest, I am still compassionate, I am still a woman of integrity – even though I do make some bad choices.  I have learned how to forgive myself, which in turn, makes it a little easier to forgive others.  I have learned it’s okay to make mistakes.  I have learned it’s okay that I still miss Todd with every breath I take.  I’ve learned it’s okay to miss friends I no longer talk to.  I have grieved, cried and sobbed over some lost friendships.  And I’m okay with that.  I’ve made new friends and I’ve learned to be me again.  The core of me.

The core of me and my personality has remained the same, yet changed and grown and evolved.  I’ve gone through so many different evolutions, I’ve been worried about losing who I really am.  Through the grace of God, I have not lost the core of who I am.

If I had one wish for everyone reading this?  I wish you love, happiness and I wish you the fortitude to never lose the core of who you are.  No matter what.

Thanks for letting me share my inner most thoughts with you and for allowing me to let my vulnerable side show.

Until next time…

Some things I do and do not do

I’m working through that whole “not feeling safe” thing from my post yesterday.

I made this list up a few weeks ago when I was feeling kinda whiny and petulant. 

  • I am faithful and love my Higher Power, deferring all major decisions to Him.
  • I am compassionate
  • I am loyal beyond reason sometimes
  • I forgive easily and without regret
  • I love my family and friends
  • I love my recovery – no matter how shaky it gets sometimes
  • I am good at my job
  • I am a great listener
  • I give great advice (if only I could follow my own advice….)
  • I may struggle financially, but I am in a good place for my current bills & living expenses.
  • I may not have the highest IQ out there, but I am smart and intuitive
  • I am stronger than anyone (including myself) gives me credit for
  • I approach every situation with love and compassion – whether it backfires in my face or not, I do not let that stop me


  • I have not once made judgment on someone without knowing both sides of the story – and sometimes not even then.
  • I have never made someone choose sides in a situation and have never considered doing it.
  • I complain a lot, even when my life is good.  I think it’s just the woman in me.
  • I no longer enjoy just sitting around drinking.  I’d rather go out and dance it off or shoot pool while drinking and have a designated driver there!
  • I no longer enjoy gossiping maliciously about people, places and things.  It’s not who I am so I am working on not doing that anymore.
  • I no longer enjoy blogging as much as I used too or even using Twitter like I used too.  I do, however, still absolutely adore Facebook and everything on there!
  • I do not lie about who I am, what I was or what I did while I was gambling (and even after that).
  • In the last 9 years, I have not thrown someone’s past in their face or used it against them in any way.
  • I do not like my supervisor for work stuff, but outside of work she’s fun and a hoot to hang out with.
  • I do not enjoy being in school but I know that the long term goal I’ve set will benefit me and I keep trying to focus on that end result.
  • I no longer lack integrity and strive to do the next right thing – whether anyone is watching or not.
  • I no longer cry for attention when I’ve done something good for someone else.
  • I keep to myself more today than I did a year ago and I’m okay with that. 
  • I’m kind of digging where I’m at right now.

Taking ownership and possibly reversing my opinion

Recently, as I’ve mentioned before, I had some GA friends from Vegas in town last weekend (May 21-23).  They were in town for the Spring 2010 National Conference.   I made it a point to take time out of my school work to spend time with them.  I had too.  It was a great reunion with some awesome ladies.  I also got to meet people from all over the country and even a member from Moscow, Russia.

It was a wonderful weekend, we partied, we held our own little meetings almost everyday and we laughed and cried.  It was beautiful.  Absolutely what I needed.

What that weekend also did for me was remind me why I chose to live in this city and state.  They reminded how beautiful and peaceful it is here.  They helped me remember what made me choose this place when I moved so far away from them.  No worries, I’m still setting a long term goal of moving closer to family, I’m just not in as big of a hurry as I was a month or two ago.

I’ve been going through an anxiety attack for the last 15 minutes and I’m slowly finding my way out of it.  It’s the first one I’ve experienced to this level in quite some time and I don’t like it!  They always show up when I least expect it, that’s for sure.  I don’t even know what I’m so anxious about, but obviously there is something I need to look at.  Or it could just be “time” for me to have another!  I do know it’s getting within fidgety mode concerning the anniversary of Todd’s GA birthday and the anniversary of his death.

I have learned the very hard way to let myself feel exactly what I’m feeling and express myself accordingly with compassion and love.  I am missing him tremendously.  I close my eyes at night and I see his smiling face.  He’s been dead longer than I actually had him in my life and while on one hand it makes me feel a little weird, the other tells me it doesn’t matter how short a time I had him in my life, I had him.  Period.  He was absolutely, without a doubt, the best friend I’ve ever had in my life.  This is not to diminish the wonderful and beautiful friendships I have now, it’s just a fact.  On June 3rd, he would have had 9 years of recovery and on June 27th he will have been gone for 5 years.

While I don’t let my mourning or grief totally consume me like I did the first year after he died, I do find myself (on certain days), just remembering all the good times I had with him and our group of friends.  I miss his smile, his laugh, the belly bumps we would do when we did well bowling.  I miss people watching and picking out the gay guys from the straight guys at the mall with him.  There.  I put it out there.  I miss Todd.  I miss my Will Truman.  I know that he is still with me in my heart and he walks with me everywhere I go, but I miss his physical presence.  And ya know what?  It’s okay for me to feel this way.  My grief journey is a life long thing that I have learned to integrate into my life and move forward with.  I don’t let it freeze me up (for the most part), but I sure do not stop myself from feeling it.

Until next time…

Ramblings of my mind

There are several behavior and character patterns that I’ve worked really hard to get out of over the years.  I’ve never made it a secret about some of my past and I’ve never lied to anyone about my past.

While I’ve never straight out lied about my past or anything going on with me now, I’ve  just left out some important information and to me, that’s as good as lying.

I’ve bared my soul for the world to see on this blog and I’ve found therapeutic suggestions and answers to my biggest dilemmas.

I’ve never been one to be outwardly cryptic on this blog, but today that’s changing.

They say confession is good for the soul.  Do you believe that?  Sometimes, I do believe it.  I confessed something over the weekend and while I felt better in one way, I felt worse in another.  One of my best friends helped me with that.  It gave me a little peace in talking to someone who is always there for me.

I guess it’s just one more stepping stone of growth to get to where I need to be.   Before I left Las Vegas, I had done some 4th step work on my issue with certain things in my life and I really thought I had learned how to live with that part of myself.   I thought I had moved past it and grown beyond it.  I have found out over the last several months, I really haven’t.   While I recognize it quicker and sooner, I still find myself in those patterns of self destructive behavior that do no one, especially me, any good.

At the same time as recognizing it and knowing what I need to do, I don’t do anything to change it.  I remain in the pattern and let myself swirl around this big whirlpool of self destruction.

I see the answers before me and I do nothing to obtain them.  I’ve remained involved in GA and I’ve been making sure to hit at least one meeting per week, if not more when I either feel like or I don’t.

I don’t think I’m finding everything I need in GA.  I have found ways to deal with urges and desires to gamble and I haven’t had one of those in years.   I’ve learned how to look at myself in my mirror and be objective and know when I’m sliding away from the side of right that I am usually so proud of.  Obviously, something is lacking within me and I don’t believe GA is offering me those answers right now.

I’ve considered outside therapy, but at this point, even with insurance, I cannot afford the co-pay.   I’ve looked into the EAP at work and find that while they don’t charge my insurance for the first appointment, they DO charge a co-pay.  I simply cannot afford to send more money out without more money coming in.  It’s so tight right now and for the next several paydays, I am just letting myself move slowly and take it a step at a time.   

In the meantime, while I wait to start making more money somewhere either online or outside of home, I’m going to continue going to my GA meetings and I’m also going to start going to one Al-Anon meeting a week, or more if they suggest it.

I have felt a lack of connection with the fellowship in GA and so maybe I can find whatever is missing on the inside at the other program.  Or it can help me look deeper in places that GA doesn’t go too. 

I guess we’ll find out.  It certainly won’t hurt me to go to those other meetings.  It might even help me to get off my ass and make a few changes that I know I need to make. 

For now, I’m going to continue what I’m doing to improve my self image and my self worth.  I will continue talking to those friends I know I can turn too and just hope that through all of this, I can learn from my mistakes and really, truly move forward with my life.

Rambling thoughts of a compulsive gambler

I’ve been pretty disheartened with the GA meetings here in Kentucky.

Bare with me as I express my feelings and thoughts on a few things.  Know that I’m hitting a meeting tonight and the last week where we had all meetings canceled really messed with my schedule, ya know?

I know that I miss the frequency of meetings found in Vegas. And I know I need to get to an acceptance level for this.

In Vegas, there were close to 90 meetings a week, every day of the week. Most days, there was a meeting at 8am, 10am, 1:30pm and 8pm. Other days, there were even more with ones starting at 4pm, 6pm and midnight on the weekend.

Here in Louisville, we have a total of 9 meetings per week – which is a lot for more of the areas around here, however for me, having “grown” up in the program in Vegas – it’s not enough. The membership numbers here don’t even compare to the ones in Vegas.

I’m in a different city and state and I need to learn to accept it the way it is, only changing what *I* do.

I’ve made a list of what makes me so unhappy with the meetings here and the fellowship in general.

  • Lack of structure & discipline in the meetings.
  • Hearing about nothing but gambling while in the meetings. (I am used to hearing about recovery, not the disease)
  • The ability to go to a meeting at any time of the day, 7 days a week.
  • The way the meetings start and end at the listed times on the meeting list.
  • Being able to miss a week of meetings and make it up within the weekend (ie: Miss my work week meetings because I’d rather sleep! & go to two or three on Sat/Sun)
  • The way people would not be judgmental or angry at me for not making meetings – but still staying in touch with me to make sure I’m actually alright.

I’ve been tempted to start going to NA or AA meetings on a regular basis, just to get some recovery shot into my veins.

When I’ve gone to the NA meetings here, I’ve heard recovery and disease and most of all, stories of hope and love.

While I HAVE heard some of those similar stories in GA meetings, it’s mostly about how they used to be – not how they are now.

Am I judging them? Possibly.

Although, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that I want to hear recovery stories, rather than disease/gambling and horror stories.

During my sharing, I do touch on how I used to be, but I try to focus on how I am now.

I do know, however, that if I were to call any of the GA members here in Louisville, they would be there for me the exact way the Vegas members were.  They would help me as much as possible and do what they could for me.

The fellowship is what I need to focus on and I think that will help me get back into that level of acceptance I’m lacking at the moment.

Looking for structure and discipline

7 and a half years ago, my life was undisciplined and I had no structure.  The only place I found those two things was at work.  And even there it was hanging by a thread.

I look to my GA meetings for those two things.  I look for that structure.  I look for the discipline of the meetings.  I look for being responsible.  I seek these things in GA because without GA, I would not have them.

Since I moved here, I know I’ve complained about the way the meetings are conducted.  I’ve complained about the lack of structure.  I’ve complained about the lack of discipline of the person(s) leading the meeting.   I have a format that I distributed and it seems no one here wants that structure of the format.

I got to my meeting last night 15 minutes after it started.  I apologized for being late and found they were still reading the book and had not even done announcements yet.  Ummm yeah.  15 minutes for that?  WTH?

This meeting is scheduled from 7pm until 8:30pm.   To me, these meetings should start on time and end on time.  Promptness is something else I look for in GA.

At 8:30, they were still letting people share past that and I finally left at 8:40p.m.   I told GB, who was sitting next to me that I had to go.  I got up, put my coat on and left.

I know this is my issue.  I know this frustration at the lack of discipline and structure is about me, not really about them.  However, I also know that if we don’t seek and find that discipline and structure, it’s a waste of time.  I’m trying to change who I was, I’m trying to be a different person.  I don’t want to be the same undisciplined person I was before this program.

I miss the meetings in Las Vegas.   I miss the promptness of starting right at the start time.  I miss the prompt ending of the meetings when they are supposed to end.

What is so hard about ending these meetings at the time they are scheduled to end?  What is so hard about introducing this discipline and structure?  We’re addicts.  And as addicts, some tend to push away change and figure if they are “clean” or “abstinent” that’s good enough.  It’s not good enough for me.  I want that clean time.  I want that time away from a bet/my addiction but I do not want to remain frozen in time.   I want to grow and learn and see what this world has to offer me.

Until next time…

Moments of clarity

I have these moments. Moments when I can feel change within myself. Moments when I know it’s time for another evolution of my life, my emotions, my way of thinking and living. Sometimes it manifests itself in different ways.

For me, this time, it was the NA meetings I’ve attended as a guest. I’ve been spending the last few days online, looking at different 12 step program literature.

What is strange, is that I got an email tonight from one of my readers, asking me something about AA related material. So this sent me on a research mission to figure out the answer. I don’t know if I answered the question, but it gave me a few new websites to ponder.

In turn, I found the Al-Anon/Al-Ateen website. Al-Anon is for the family and friends of alcoholics. Practicing their disease, in recovery, or living sober but still “drunk.”

Is Al-Anon for me? I’m going to “bold” the answers that I say yes too.

Al-Anon is for families, relatives, and friends whose lives have been affected by someone else’s drinking. If someone close to you, such as a family member, friend, co-worker, or neighbor, has or has had a drinking problem, the following questions may help you determine if Al-Anon is for you:

Do you constantly seek approval and affirmation?
Do you fail to recognize your accomplishments?
Do you fear criticism?
Do you overextend yourself?
Have you had problems with your own compulsive behavior?
Do you have a need for perfection?
Are you uneasy when your life is going smoothly, continually anticipating problems?
Do you feel more alive in the midst of a crisis?
Do you still feel responsible for others, as you did for the problem drinker in your life?
Do you care for others easily, yet find it difficult to care for yourself?
Do you isolate yourself from other people?
Do you respond with fear to authority figures and angry people?
Do you feel that individuals and society in general are taking advantage of you?
Do you have trouble with intimate relationships?
Do you confuse pity with love, as you did with the problem drinker?
Do you attract and/or seek people who tend to be compulsive and/or abusive?
Do you cling to relationships because you are afraid of being alone?
Do you often mistrust your own feelings and the feelings expressed by others?
Do you find it difficult to identify and express your emotions?
Do you think someone’s drinking may have affected you?

Guess what all this means? I’ll be heading to a meeting soon. The sooner the better.

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Lacking structure

I realized what I’ve been missing for the last year in the GA meetings I go to. When I came here, I thought the meetings strange and unruly and just annoying. I eventually got used to it, but still find myself a little peeved by the end of some meetings here.

Tonight, I went to a meeting in another fellowship, someone I sponsor in GA was celebrating 11 years in this fellowship.

I got to the church over in J-Ville and it felt more like the meetings in Vegas. Different fellowship, identical emotions. As I walked up to the entrance of the church, I stopped to finish my cigarette and there were some people already out there smoking. They engaged me in conversation and we talked for about 5 minutes before I headed in to meet my sponsor.

My sponsoree was at the front of the room (as is the tradition in celebration meetings in this fellowship), so I sat next to her.

The chair person of the meeting called the meeting to order at exactly 7:30. She read through a format already provided (like in the GA meetings in Vegas) and we proceeded with the readings (much like at a GA meeting.)

Since it was a “birthday” celebration, there were two specific speakers that My Sponsoree had chosen to speak at her celebration meeting. In this fellowship, you get to choose the format of the meeting when it’s your celebration. However, the meeting ends PROMPTLY at 8:40.

As the meeting progressed, we listened to the readings from their text book (it’s much like the yellow book we read from in GA), they did key chain presentations. People getting 30, 60, 90 days, 6, 9 and 12 months or 18 months. And above and beyond that, “multiple years of recovery.”

After the key chain presentations, the chair person called on the speakers. The two speakers did their speaking and then My Sponsoree’s sponsor in THAT fellowship presented her with a coin recognizing her 11 years.

My Sponsoree then spoke for a few minutes and the chair person read announcements. We then joined in a circle and recited the Serenity Prayer.

Structure. The meeting started at exactly 7:30 and ended promptly at 8:40. In the last bit of the format provided, the chair person said that if you didn’t get a chance to share, get with someone after the meeting was over. Simple.

Structure. Each speaker was set to a time limit and if they started going over, the chair person motioned to them to start wrapping up.

Structure. No cross commenting. No people telling me, right after I’m done sharing, their perspective on what I shared. No people interrupting the speaker to insert a joke.

Structure. Promptly beginning and promptly ending when it’s supposed too.

Structure. This is what I miss most about my meetings in Las Vegas.

I believe it’s time I email someone back there to send me a format and then start seeing how they would take it here.

The meetings here are AWESOME! Please do not misunderstand where I’m coming from.

I just miss the structure and accountability and stability that a structured meeting gives me.

The meetings here start out with the chair person asking each of us to read from the yellow combo book. The whole yellow combo book is then read. We do announcements and then every single person in the room is expected to share.

You don’t HAVE to share, but you HAVE to introduce yourself. If you try to not share at all, even your name, someone will call you out in front of the whole group of people.

Sometimes I like to just sit and listen. Sometimes, taking the ear plugs out and zipping my trap is the best thing I could do.

I miss my structure. I need to find it.

Until next time…

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Venturing into the unknown

At the GA meeting last night, a new friend invited me to go to her celebration of 11 years in another fellowship.

I feel very blessed that she would want me to be there for this celebration.

It’s across the river in Souther Indiana and I’m quite looking forward to it. I’m sure I’ll feel the way my three bitches felt when going to a meeting for the first time.

I’ve never been to a different 12 step meeting, so this will definitely be worth it to me. I’m only nervous about one thing, and since I’ve already expressed myself to both Miss Monique and a co-worker, I’m not going to talk about it here.

Today was Platoon 2 and I got to see one of the most beautiful people ever created. He’s married though, so I try very hard to pretend he does not exist. LOL Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

I do have to say though, Platoon 2 day is NOT as fun when my favorite Major is not working. He’s on Platoon 1 now. Is it Thursday yet?

I worked an hour and a half overtime with Manager Lady. We had a few things to finish up with the cleaning of files and what not. Tomorrow, Shred It will come in and take it all away. I will then be the proud owner of a shitload of boxes for my packing and cleaning up phase here.

Once all that is taken out, we are going to stay and clean and rearrange stuff. I’ll be sure to take a t shirt though because today, I had my sweater on and I thought I was going to die from heat exhaustion while working.

I came home from work and made some chunky soup. It was tasty!

Until next time…

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I have a disease within me….

Hi, my name is Sodapop and I’m a compulsive gambler.

I think about my recovery a lot. It forms my days. It starts me on a journey throughout the day of how I will try to live my life. My whole way of thinking and living changed when I stopped gambling. It had to change, otherwise I would have died.

I have a compulsive gambler inside of me, waiting to show her ugliness. I have a disease that tells me there is nothing wrong with me. I have a disease that is not visible to the eye of a passerby. I have an addiction that is not visible physically and is not substance based.

I have a healthy, fearful respect for my disease. I know that it sits quietly, waiting for me to get into that mental blank spot where it can talk to me and make me believe it. There is a song by Three Days Grace called Let You Down. The moment I heard it, I knew it was my disease talking to me…..

Trust me
There’s no need to fear
Everyone’s here
Waiting for you to finally be one of us

Come down…
You may be full of fear
But you’ll be safe here
When you finally trust me
Finally believe in me

I will let you down
I’ll let you down,
When you finally trust me
Finally believe in me

Trust me
I’ll be there when you need me
You’ll be safe here
When you finally trust me
Finally believe in me

I will let you down
I’ll let you down, I’ll
When you finally trust me
Finally believe in me

I will let you down
I’ll let you down, I’ll
When you finally trust me
Finally believe in me

Never want to come down
Never want to come down
Never want to come down

(Down, let you down)

I will let you down
I’ll let you down, I’ll
When you finally trust me
Finally believe in me

I will let you down
I’ll let you down, I’ll
When you finally trust me
Finally believe in me

Those lyrics fill me with rememberance of how I was when I gambled. Those lyrics speak to me as if my addiction is speaking to me.

I have never forgotten my last bet. When I first came into the program, some old timers kept reminding me to never forget that last bet. “Once you forget that last bet, Sodapop, you’ll go right back out there. Because you forgot the pain.”

My last bet was July 29, 2001, Sunday evening at approximately 9:44 p.m. I walked into my first GA meeting at 8pm on the following day, Monday, July 30, 2001. I hope I never forget the pain of those two days. I hope I never forget the pain of turning my life around to what it, and, who I am today.

Thanks for letting me share….

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