I love to share my experience strength and hope with others, as you guys ALL help me in being a better sober person and I believe its all about helping others and being of service. This memoir is raw, honest and inspiring as I’m very open about my alcoholism and drug addiction. Blog by Nancy Carr.
I met Doug a couple months ago when I attended the Light Hustler Retreat in LA. He was one of the first people I met, and I had already heard about him before I even met him! Doug reached out to me a couple days before the retreat to see if he could interview me for a book that he is compiling,”Titans of Recovery” which is going to be a selection of many other recovery titans that are all striving for the same thing – to be able to share our truth and live out loud in our recovery to help others. Doug is one of those people that when you meet him, you know he is serious about his recovery, and his love for all things healthy, as he is a fitness junkie and an amazing personal trainer. Since Doug interviewed me, I figured I’d interveiw him for my Relationship interview series. And this is what he had to say:
What was your relationship with Alcohol/Drugs/Food before you got clean and sober?
I used drugs such as cocaine and oxycontin to feel better about myself and cope with trauma, stress and anxiety in a very unhealthy way. I used food to manage stress too. When I would get nervous or anxious, I would make extremely unhealthy choices to feel good. Fast food, pizza, Chinese food, you name it I ate it when I got stressed out.
What is your relationship with Alcohol/Drugs/Food today?
I have been drug free for nearly a decade. I will occasionally have a drink here and there socially. I never had an issue with alcohol. There was actually a time I didn’t drink for years. I now have many healthy coping mechanisms in my life to help deal with stress, anxiety and depression that comes my way at times.
How were your relationships with your family before you got clean &sober?
Horrible. They were superficial and all I cared about was myself and what I needed to do to score/sell drugs.
How are those relationships today?
My relationships with family are ten-fold what they used to be. I have a great relationship with my Mom, grandparents and brothers. My Dad and I are much better than we used to be. I am now able to have deep meaningful relationships with people and actually care about them. Whereas before all I cared about was myself.
Regarding your prior romantic relationships – how did your addiction affect those?
I had no interest and/or esteem to get into any sort of romantic relationship during my drug using/dealing days. I was worthless back then, and was roughly 40% body fat and a flat out piece of junk. I didn’t think I would make it through my 20’s.
What is your current relationship status today?
I am Single. (Hint, hint for any ladies out there! – Don’t kill me Doug!)
How has this changed since being sober?
Well, just the types of people I am interested in has changed. I know what I want and when I am dating someone, if I see signs of things that go against what I want, I get out. Sometimes I hang around too long being that I try to give folks the benefit of the doubt.
During my 20’s I had to recalibrate my entire life. I was on probation until I was 25 and then started my career as a trainer when I was 24. So between those two things, I had to take a lot of time to work on myself and figure out what I wanted in life. I got lucky to surround myself with many great mentors and friends to help guide me on this subject, but I am by far not perfect.
Do you have relationships with pets and if so, how has that helped with your recovery?
I love dogs. I have a rescue named Shadow. He definitely helps me a lot. He has taught me a ton about gratitude as well. He is so happy to see me everyday – no matter what. I wish we could all learn more from dogs. They cherish the small stuff.
Do you have a relationship with and/or a Higher Power, God, the Universe, The Spirit ?
I have a relationship with Jesus. I am not one of the Evangelical types that jam it down your throat. But, I am a Christian and I believe in God. With that being said, I also respect other forms of spirituality.
How is your relationship today with Society at Large?
I do my absolute best to be a beacon of hope. I give maximum effort on a daily basis to help others transform into the best version of themselves. This can be through my social media platform, my business or just hopping on the phone with someone to bend an ear.
What have you been able to contribute?
I have helped hundreds of people change their lives through fitness, but more importantly I use my passion for helping others to help inspire hope in people through my platform, daily activities and any other way I can to help encourage others in an authentic way.
Doug Bopst is an award-winning personal trainer, author, speaker and business owner. Those credentials and accolades are a result of his own transformation. He is a former felon and drug addict, sentenced to a few months in jail due to getting arrested for selling pot. He chose to use his time locked in that small cell to beat his demons and reinvent himself thanks to a combination of faith, family and fitness. He is the author of two books: “From Felony to Fitness to Free,” about how people can turn a negative into a positive and make the most of their second chance, His second book, “Faith Family Fitness,” encourages readers to grow closer to God, believe in themselves stay mentally, physically and spiritually fit.
I was asked recently at a meeting by a newcomer about drinking near Beer, which is basically Non-Alcoholic Beer -that actually does contain trace amounts of alcohol. I told her what I was told early on, “drinking anything non-alcoholic is like a junkie putting a needle in his arm using water as his drug”. Its a trigger, its a slippery slope and in my opinion it just doesn’t make sense. I wrote about this a few years ago and thought I’d share it again, especially now that we are entering the summer months of beach parties and cerveza!
In my first year of sobriety there were so many new things to learn and test out and that first year for me was pivotal in building a strong foundation of recovery. I did what I was told – I was a good little soldier. I did 90 meetings in 90 days (more than that actually) and I got a sponsor and started working the 12 steps. My life quickly got better and I was so relieved to be living a life of honesty and integrity.
I remember in my first month I was out to dinner with an old friend, and she knew I had recently quit drinking, but this was the first time I was out to dinner with someone that wasn’t in the program. I felt weird, awkward and not comfortable at all, as she and I used to drink a lot together. I ordered a non-alcoholic beer. The thing is, it tasted like normal beer. It was odd and I didn’t think I should drink it, but I drank the whole thing and something just didn’t feel right. I didn’t tell my sponsor. I didn’t tell anyone. A few months later found me back home visiting my family for an engagement party and the same thing happened again. Here is how that story goes:
“He brought non-alcoholic red wine to the party and he knew I quit drinking also. He poured some for himself and asked if I wanted to have a glass. I figured sure, why not, it can’t hurt, and I’ll feel more comfortable at the party with a wine glass in my hand. I was nervous taking a sip, and it tasted like cheap red wine. I remembered that taste and I liked it, which made me leery about drinking it. I remembered hearing about how people would relapse on non-alcoholic beer and wine and thinking that could happen to me. I was concerned that I would pick up somebody else’s wine glass that looked like mine, and then it’d be all over. I thought about just drinking then and saying screw it, I’ll get sober again when I get back to San Diego, this is just too difficult. If I can drink this glass of non-alcoholic wine, why not just drink a normal glass? One glass won’t hurt. I looked at Suzy and she asked, How is it? Is it weird? Are you sure you should be drinking that? I thought for a minute and put it down and looked at her. You know, I can’t drink this, it’s too slippery of a slope for me. It’ll make me want to drink a real glass of wine.”
Again, I was in a situation where I didn’t feel comfortable and I thought I needed that liquid courage to make me feel okay in a social situation. Moments after this occurrence, I remembered a story my sponsor had told me where she had relapsed because she started drinking non-alcoholic wine. If that wasn’t God working in my life at that moment – then I don’t know what is. I’m so grateful that story popped into my head and my girlfriend had the wherewithal to ask me how I was feeling.
I soon then shared this story at a meeting and when it ended a wise woman in recovery came up to me afterwards and said, “I’m not going to tell you what to do, but drinking anything non-alcoholic is like a junkie putting a needle in his arm using water as his drug” . It’s kind of like the AA adage, “You walk into a Barber shop one too many times, you’ll end up getting a haircut.” Yup, I get it – no need to test this out anymore.
In my time in sobriety, and in speaking with other people in recovery, I have found that alcoholics unanimously recommend staying away from non-alcoholic beer and wine stating that it will trigger cravings and induce relapses. I can completely agree with that statement. I don’t know why I didn’t start drinking after those two occurrences, because both tasted like booze. For me, I had to play that tape in my head. I had to go back and remember what would occur if I started drinking again. Inevitably it would start out okay at a nice ritzy bar or restaurant, but fast forward a few hours into the night and I’m at the local watering hole looking to score drugs and find others that will partake with my lifestyle. Why I do know this scenario? Because this was my life for over 20 years. I know it well.
So for me today, I relish in going out to restaurants and looking at the Non-Alcoholic Beverage Menu. I love ordering a fruity Lemonade, a fizzy flavored water or just a plain Iced Tea. Because for this Alcoholic, no fake booze drink is going to take away the amazing life I have today in recovery. It’s not worth it as being sober is worth so much more.
I recently met a friend for lunch and after we were done and walking over to our cars, my friend laughed and said to me “You are so funny with that visor thing”. I looked at her and commented, “What? I need this thingy! – my car seat gets really hot!” We both got a chuckle and waved goodbye.
Driving away I thought to myself, What’s the big deal that I use a sun shield? Is it that dreadful and uncool? Or is just that she thought it was funny? She didn’t have one, is it dorky to use them? I don’t know and at this point in my life, I am not losing sleep over it. It’s all about comfort today. Comfy shoes; rarely wearing high heels, unless a special occasion comes along – which is maybe twice a year. Comfy jeans; no more tight fitting, lie on the bed fiddling with the zipper, having my muffin top smooshing over the skinny jeans. Comfy hairstyle and makeup; wash, shake, and scrunch, with minimal if any blow dry, or even easier, getting a blow out at the local Blow Dry bar. Minimal makeup; BB cream and mascara work well; rarely putting eyeliner or even shadow on. Too much to wash off at the end of the day.
I’ve noticed over the past couple of years that I’m not really living out loud with the glamour and glitz that I used to find appealing and comfort in. I’m not saying my life consisted of any real glamour or glitz to begin with, but I did like to dress up when I was leaving the house and trying to stay fashionable with the latest trends. However, it got exhausting, let alone expensive. I’d rather spend $45 on flat comfy shoes, than getting the latest uncomfortable toe peep wedge heel.
I’m happier staying in at night than going out. I prefer hiking with my husband and dog on a Sunday vs being at a beach party. I’d rather hang out with an intimate group of friends than attending a big Birthday party. I realized I’m an Introvert. I did this and got 7 out of 8. I’m totally down with that today.
Years ago I had to be on the go All.The.Time I had to be in the know of what was hip and happening! Who were the cool people? How could I emulate them? What was THE place to see and be seen? Today, I’m quite the opposite. The less interaction I have with most people the better. I have a t-shirt that says, “Sorry I’m late, but I didn’t want to come.”
This has all been a result of having over a decade of being sober. Living a sober, relaxed, well earned, authentic and genuine life. Sobriety brought me everything the fast track fun lifestyle did, and more. I was just a gal with a second DUI, who walked into an AA meeting and said, “I may as well give this a shot, I’ve got no other choices right now.” And being that naïve ignorant thinking person, I’ve become what I’m happy to be today. Free from alcohol and drugs, toxic people, seedy bars and drug dens and free from my imprisoned life I was leading. I didn’t know there was another way to live, until I did.
Today, I’m okay being safe, easy-going, comfortable and happy in my skin with my old crepey skin and all the other real-life happenings of 51 year old’s. Being sober and following some simple suggestions have proved to be my anti-aging miracle. So, if I have the sunshade up in my car and I step out wearing boyfriend jeans, and my flat Sketcher walking shoe, so be it. It’s all about having the awareness and knowledge that I’m ok; safe, comfortable and sober!
I get to (very blessed I know!) live in this glorious part of Southern California where we have very available treatment centers and sober living homes. I was reflecting recently on my stint as a Sober House Manager as a woman I know recently opened up one in my neighborhood, and actually it looks amazing and welcoming! It was a once in a lifetime kind of experience was for me, and it was also scary. I was lucky that it didn’t endanger my sobriety, it made it stronger and better. I wanted to share a post I did for XOJane a couple years back – hope you find this helpful, but most importantly that you realize how grateful you are for having all of these amazing resources that are available to those of us in recovery.
It was during the economic downturn where I found myself without a job and no steady income. A friend through the Fellowship came to me about an opportunity. One where I could have free room and board, my own private room and I would be able to keep Lucy. Said friend was getting ready to open a sober living home next month and she needed a House Manager. By this point in my sobriety, I was almost five years sober and I ran a good program – I had a sponsor, worked the steps, and I did what I was supposed to – I had my shit together. It was an easy decision to make and within two weeks, I moved into a gorgeous 5 BR fully furnished home with a pool and ocean view. It was like moving into my own private Golden Door Spa home – until the sober housemates showed up.
Our first client was fresh from the local 28 day Rehab and she too was as fresh as a 19 year old girl could look. Dewy perfect skin, gorgeous healthy hair – an attractive woman who was soft spoken. Heroin addict, who didn’t look like she had every spent a minute with a needle in her arm. But I and Boss Lady soon found out that most young female addicts were just that. Heroin addicted and sparkling fresh. None of these young girls resembled skid row Heroin addicts. They were all sent their by their parents and none wanted what I had. During my ten months as House Manager, there were 5 young women in particular; all attractive, all H addicts and all very good liars, cheats and manipulators. But isn’t that what addicts are? You bet your fake urine drug test they are. We had had to learn the ropes the hard way. We soon figured out that they were buying fake pee and that they were in cahoots with their housemates and would trade pee when needed. When we caught on to the fake pee, we had to start following them into the bathroom and watch them pee. We learned that you could insert a tube of fake pee into your vagina and pop it with a pin to give you a steady urine stream.
We also had to dole out their Suboxone® individually and watch it dissolve into their mouths as these girls were swapping pills with each other. One girl came back from a weekend pass saying she had caught the flu from her Mom and that she was really ill. Within 24 hours we realized she was dope sick and had to kick her out of the house as it was her third strike. She had had a few months clean prior to that relapse.
We also had women in the house that were traditional alcoholics who really wanted to get sober. These women were a little older and they had more life experience. They too would try and hide their drinking. Their relapses weren’t as routine as the H girls were, and in addition to random drug testing, we also performed random breathalyzer tests – it was a revolving door of wondering who was high and who wasn’t. Since I was the House Manager of the home, I was privy to everyone’s schedule as I was normally driving them around to meetings or job interviews or to gym – but I developed friendships with some of them – and just when you think I’m her friend now, she won’t lie to me – they spin their addict web of lies. This job had me feeling like I was a Doctor as I was on call 24/7, even on my days off, there was no respite for me. I’d be sitting in a movie and my phone would start blowing up with texts and phone calls: She didn’t make curfew, she needs a ride to work tomorrow, she needs to visit her Mom, she and she got into a fight tonight, Lucy ate her stuffed animal – and on and on it would go. It got to a point where my own sanity and sobriety were at risk. I couldn’t go to a meeting and share about “what was going on with me” nor could I confide in anyone at the house. My sponsor was on speed dial, as were my other sober sisters. I soon heard the alarming statistic that anyone working in the recovery community has a much higher chance of relapse. As soon as I heard that I knew I had to up my recovery and started focusing on me and my program more. I went to Boss Lady and confided in her that I needed to really take care of myself and my program. The last thing any of us wanted was a drunken House Manager. I never really wanted to drink, but I had access to the safe where we housed all the medication and some of those pills were addictive. A little harmless pill would be nice – just to take the edge off. That thinking kept churning around in my mind – but luckily someone else would relapse and I’d be jarred back to the reality of the disease. Cunning, Baffling, Powerful and it was happening every day right under my nose.
After ten months, my life took a drastic turn and I was summoned by my family to move back East and assist with my ailing mother. It was January and moving back East wasn’t something I was longing for – – but I’d much rather babysit and take care of my own Mother than keep trying to be a Mother to some who weren’t ready. I have stayed in touch with some of those young girls and although they still needed to live their own journey of addiction and recovery, most are all now clean and sober. They are the lucky ones, as am I.
It seemed harmless. The whining started about a month ago. A lot of it. Lucy whined when she wanted to go out or when she knew me or Daddy were about to enter the front door. This kind of whining seemed more urgent. I took her to our Vet who we love and trust. Dr. Campbell thought her arthritis was getting worse and that she was developing cataracts, all quite normal for a boxer mutt at age 13ish. Our Vet gave us some medication and we went home being grateful that she’d get better. Four weeks later her whining was getting worse, and more frequent.
I rescued Lucy almost 10 years ago from a Boxer rescue in Lakeside. She was in a house with over 30 other dogs, most Chihuahua’s in small crates, with about 10 Boxer mix mutts. The backyard was pure dirt and dust and the sweet old lady was doing the best she could, and clearly couldn’t turn any dog away. She brought out a few Boxers, and when Lucy flopped out, she came to me immediately and had the sweetest disposition of the brood. It was a fit. I named her after a Grateful Dead song, “Loose Lucy” – as her name was Princess when I got her – seriously?
When I rescued Lucy I was 4 years sober and had wanted a dog for a long time. Lucy is my first baby. No children here, it was just Lucy. She was my protector and guardian and best buddy. Lucy was my reason to get through life – when I didn’t want to move forward. I had to show up for her – every day and she taught me unconditional love. She was with me through my first break-up, my job loss in ‘08, my stint as a sober House Manager (with her in tow), and my Mom’s passing. In January 2010, she partnered up with me on our first move in sobriety where we drove cross country through the hot desert of Arizona, the hurricanes of Mississippi and the cold and blustery turf of my home town of Valley Forge, Pa. We were met with two blizzards within 48 hours of our arrival and if she was anything besides adorable in that snow, she was resilient, easy-going and quite accomodating. Lucy was with me when I met my husband and when he asked me early on in our courtship, “What’s important to you in this relationship – what are the must have’s?” I replied, “My must have is that you love my dog as much as I do and then we’ll be ok.” Their love was so strong and fierce. She’d wait for him at the front door to come home every day. When I’d say to her, “Daddy’s home!” she’d start jumping around in a circle and howling. I have the videos to watch, I hope I don’t wear them down. She moved back with us in late summer of 2016 when we moved back to her home town of San Diego. She had come full circle.
Last week the whining was continuing multiple times a day and her GI health was extremely poor for. We ended up taking her to the ER on Saturday after she collapsed on the sidewalk. After running tests and waiting with angst and worry, we were told she had a condition called Insulinoma; a type of pancreatic cancer. This caused her insulin to be extremely high, while her glycemic count was extremely low – so low they were surprised she was even alive. This explains her behaviors over the past month, the whining, the lethargy, the fogginess and so on. We now know. With this unexpected and tragic news we were able to spend the next 48 hours with Lucy and love on her and be with her and take her to her favorite place, the beach. She was happy and content prodding along the sands and dipping her paws in the Pacific. But she knew. I know she knew.
This is where God’s timing comes in. Liam and I are traveling to Philly this Wednesday to visit family. God gave us our time to be with her and to celebrate our love and our life with her. To know that she won’t be suffering while we are gone, or having to take multiple medications by the dog sitter, or worse yet her collapsing and passing on while we are gone. That’s not a risk we were able to afford. This is God’s gift to us. The blessing of his timing. He wanted us here to be with her before she needed to go. A blessing of the best kind because we can glory in her life, and remember all of our amazing memories (hundreds in my iPhone) with her with peace, contentment and joy. All the while knowing that she’ll be taken care of by all the other doggies up there – as they too are frolicking around on the beach with the soft sand, sunshine and the glistening blue water – waiting for her.
Lucy Caruso Clough
“Until one has loved a dog, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
As I pulled up to the curb of the non-descript address on a typical sun drenched LA Friday afternoon, all I could see was a banged up metal door frame that looked like it could lead into a dark and suspect alley; but I knew better. Evasive dingy doors in LA always led to hip welcoming venues. The B Hive was warm and inviting and I felt a sense of calm walking up the stairs to the meet and greet lobby. The Hive held numerous rooms; for sleeping and retreating purposes (yoga, meditation, group rooms to hold workshops in, massage room, etc – you get the gist). The bedrooms were raised platforms beds with billowy and white comforters placed upon them with sparse but fresh décor.
The first ever annual Light Hustler’s retreat weekend was happening and we were all giddy with enthusiasm. I knew this was going to be a truly amazing and inspirational event, just by the organizers alone; the super accomplished and inspirational trailblazers in the nationwide recovery community – Anna David, Ryan Hampton and Garrett Hade. Not even including the forward thinking and motivated attendees; ranging from Doug Bopst, Julie Reiser, Stewart Michaelson, Rosemary O’Connor, Tim Ryan and many other courageous attendees. My initial plan was to stay with a friend in Brentwood, however an overnight spot became available and since Brentwood may as well have been in Riverside with the crawl of traffic it took me to get back to Hollywood, I was excited and eager to join in with the other female Hustlers.
Our Friday night started out with the Light Hustler’s storytelling event. A monthly event that Anna David had been doing for years; not always the same headlining title; but the same format. Sober comedians telling their most embarrassing and hilarious tales from their drunkalogs, and even from their recovery days. We are sick people, just trying to get better. No judgment. The venue was Open Space, in West Hollywood and this show was SRO; standing room only (in case some of you Millennials weren’t sure what that acronym was). Anna was one of the storytellers, along with a great line up, including comedian Bucky Sinister and Allyson Weinhold. The Hustlers had reserved seating in the front rows, where we all felt like VIPS; because we were! What ensued were funny rants on snippets of their lives up until that evening and the laugh tracks were non-stop.
Saturday had us up with breakfast burritos and a full day of sessions and activities for the Hustler attendees. These ranged from a renowned EMDR therapist and meditation teacher, Dr. Stephen Dansinger, to Ivana Grahovac, Outreach Coordinator from Facing Addiction, who shared her story while insighting us to share ours to make an impact within the recovery community, to the ever cool Brandon Johnson from Rock to Recovery showing us how our thoughts and stories can easily be made into a rockin’ song! As insightful, inspiring and collaborative the day was going one of the best parts of the retreat was getting a Tarot Card reading by Erin Smith – who literally knew my mind and my psyche! Along with a soothing and healing session of Reflexology by the calm angelic Nicole Rothman.
With the day winding down and all of us wanting to bond even more, we walked over to our group dinner Wood and Vine; a very urban woodsy kind of spot with a delicious array of small plate shares. After being on the go all day, by the end of dinner I knew my inviting and fluffy bed was awaiting me and having a comfortable sleep while you are away is always a bonus. I’ll be sure to Yelp a 5 star review to the Be Hive for their accommodations.
Sunday morning found us with another yummy breakfast and having some of our own participants sharing some intimate stories with us – what a great way to keep our connecting going with everyone. We had Fee Bell sharing her funny story about why she was nicknamed Chardonnay, to Julie Reiser sharing her touching story about her food addiction and how she’s turning her story into a source of hope for others that are looking to heal. We also were treated to an emotional and touching practice of breath work by the Mortified founder, David Nadelberg. As someone that has done breath work a few times, I found Dave’s practice the most loving and healing to date. Our retreat closed out with Priscilla Caiza, a Heal Your Life Workshop coach and instiller of how Daily Affirmations should be included in your daily practice.
By the end of the retreat, my heart was full with love and connection and spirit. We were hugging, exchanging phone numbers, carpooling to the airport and all of us asking the same question, “When is the next one?”
I recently went walking with a friend of mine on the beach and she was asking me about my Memoir, and why I wrote and it got me thinking about the WHY of it. This is somehting I wrote for my Blog a couple years ago and I thought I’d reshare it – to understand the WHY.
In late 2003, I was 36 years old and typing in my journal about how f&*#@ up my life was with alcohol and drugs — my life was spinning out of control and I was too scared to ask for help. Soon after this journal entry, I received my 2nd DUI and knew I needed to do something different, but wasn’t sure what that would be? I was quickly nudged by my attorney to go to an AA meeting and get a court card signed to show the judge some mercy on me. GASP! I didn’t want to as I didn’t want to give up the two things that made me the happiest – drugs and booze. Six weeks after that piece of advice, I walked into a meeting – I sprinted out at the end of that meeting and ran home and drank two bottles of wine that night. That whole next week, all I could think of was that meeting and what kept running through my head was HOPE. Maybe I should give this sobriety thing a try? I’ve got nothing to lose. A week later I went to my second meeting and I haven’t looked back since.
I started journaling more and more about my life and my experiences that had led me to that AA meeting and by early 2005; I had compiled a 250 page manuscript for my own Memoir, “Last Call”. I worked with an Editor and attended writer conferences and symposiums while trying to get an agent or a publishing house to show some interest – no such luck. So I went about my daily living in getting and staying sober and moved on in my professional career.
My memoir literally sat on my book shelf for over 10 years until a friend of mine urged me to self-publish it through Amazon Kindle. In early 2015, I took that plunge and it’s been an amazing journey of self-discovery (again) love, and being of service to others. One thing that makes me the happiest is to get that email from someone saying how much my Memoir helped them see their addiction clearly, and that they weren’t scared to ask for help because of my experience. That, my friend, is what keeps me blogging, connecting and doing whatever I can to help others in their sobriety plight.
I listen to Sirius and Pandora when I’m driving and last night one of Prince’s songs came on and it still caused that emotional tear that it does when I hear his music nowadays. I was wondering why this one still stings and its because – well read below, as I wrote about this a couple years ago next month…and I didn’t know at the time that it was a drug induced death, and did that make it any worse? Not really, because I get addiction and that pain as well. I felt more love for you because of that. So, yes the pain is still there, not as sharp, more dull – but it can still evoke emotion in me – more than I care to admit.
Prince – Why this one hurts so much.
Over the past few days I’ve been just as sad and distraught (is that too strong of a word?) as the global force of humans has been over the loss of our famed US Artist Prince. I have to say, I wasn’t a big Bowie fan, so that one didn’t sting as much, and I was a big and still am an Eagles fan, and Glenn Fry was very sad too – but this one hurts to the core – to the I need a tissue and I’m gonna cry a bit while I listen to this song or hear this tribute or watch this person say how Prince affected their life. I don’t know if it’s because I’m in the right genre when his music burst onto the radio scene back in the 80s (I’m in my late 40s) or if it’s because he’s was the coolest most badass entertainer who had these bitchin clothes and a mysterious personality – but it hurts.
It’s only been a few days and I still find myself listening to the tributes and following the news about his death. One of the biggest questions is “how did he die?” and I guess I could write a whole other piece about that, but I’ll wait until the toxicology report comes back, because if he was trying to manage pain with a doctor prescribed opiate, then yes, that’s a whole other article where I could bitch and complain about god damn doctor’s prescribing pain medication to anyone, let anyone healthy vegans who don’t use drugs or drink, to manage their pain – but I don’t know the full story there, so I’ll leave that be for now.
For me personally, Prince embodied more than just an amazing talent who was a great humanitarian and only wanted to help others with his gift of song writing and kindness. He was part of my teen years and my coming of age – he gave us license to say “Shit yah” and let loose. He gave us energy, dance and inspiration to be whoever, and whatever, we wanted to be. Not that I crafted my life because Prince was my sole inspiration, but because I could feel him more than the others. I could feel that pain of wanting to be loved and accepted and I could understand what his lyrics meant and I got it. I could feel carefree and I could be okay with doing the hand gestures that collided with “I would die for you” and I could connect with my girlfriends in such a way that only one artist could make us do that – Prince. Granted I too loved MJ and Madonna (and still do) and I was a follower of the Grateful Dead, but that’s a whole other connection that lasted for years, and still does. However, with Prince he is reminding me and bringing me back to that time in my life where I didn’t have any responsibilities, car payments or TO DO lists. It was so much easier back then – driving around in VF park with your car windows down, singing lyrics light heartedly and laughing and hanging out. Life was just easier than for our generation. No social media, no worry about being home before dark – life was real and you could taste it. Little did we know it was probably some of the best times of our life, and for that I’m forever grateful for Prince and The Purple Rain.
I never meant to cause you any sorrow
I never meant to cause you any pain
I only wanted to one time to see you laughing
I only wanted to see you
Laughing in the purple rain………
We all have personal storms we have to deal with, often daily. These storms, if we are not prepared, often strike head-on, and without warning. They are called the Calm as We Face the Storm. They have the power and the surge of a title wave. But we all have within us, the ability to stay calm as we face the storm. As we feel it approaching, our response to this danger must be immediate. We stand on the brink of being consumed, washed away as this flood of emotions, fear, and always anger, seeks to wash over and take us to that out-of-control riptide of emotional insanity. How do we stay calm as we face the storm? We learn the art of detaching from others’ emotional distress.
One way to come out of the other side of this storm is to not inhale and make about us, anyone else’s feelings, or their exhibition of outbursts and fears. We watch in a detached calm and allow others be who they are without reacting. Whatever is going on with someone else is always their truth about them, what they want, need, or how they feel. It is not about us. The choice is ours to deflect or to react.
We focus on our breathing. Returning ourselves to calm is the protection we need to not give our power and energy to others outbursts or demonstrations of attention.We gain clarity and sharp perspective as we realize there is nothing at all to prove. No matter what the engagement, the noise or the enticement, we are the calm as we face the storm of others reactions.
Practicing a mantra that speaks to our inner-knowing can be a strong shield against the storms that want to entice us to deep waters. We repeat this mantra until we feel the words move from our head to our heart and become a part of who we are.
Acceptance says we never have to face any storm alone. Inviting a Higher Power to walk with us can be the assurance necessary to invoke the calm we seek and together, we face any storm that comes our way. We do so with confidence and with grace for by now; we are not walking alone. We learn to trust ourselves.
The more we open ourselves up to positive and encouraging thinking, to journal, recovery and other healthy avenues, we develop an impenetrable core that nothing can reach unless we open the door to our heart and let it inside.
Our love of self-becomes the steel necessary to withstand any storm no matter the destruction around us because of honor, love, and trust of our inner-knowing and our Higher Power, without question or resistance.
As mentioned in my blog, “Gratitude, a Change in Perspective,” we remember words from Dr. Wayne Dyer where he says, “When you trust in your inner vision, you’re trusting the same wisdom that created you.” Please join me, as together we write our truths that speak, “We are the storm!” We are the vigilant, the tenacious, the courageous ones that remain calm, in the face of any storm that comes our way. With practice, we watch our own unfolding come true. I invite you to come back often, and to opt-in for snippets from my book and more insightful reads just for you!
*Harriet Hunter has been journaling now for forty-plus years. Recently she’s developed a six-week model of writing entitled, “Journaling With a Purpose.” and has facilitated this training to women in Prison and retirement homes the last several years. The passing of her daughter became the catalyst to put together her forthcoming book, “Miracles of Recovery,” a 366-day Inspirational for those in and around recovery. When she’s not preparing final edits for her editors review, she spends time writing for recovery publications, doing service work in and out of recovery, playing with her two dogs and taking care of her home and surrounding two acres of wooded land.
You can find out more about Harriet by visiting her website at Harriethunter.org, or by emailing her directly at HarriethunterODAAT@gmail.com.
So for today, my 51st Birthday, I remembered last year how I blogged about turning 50 and how it was really affecting me and it was – a lot! This year hasn’t been that horrible, I mean I’m still managing the 3 areas that plagued me last year; Fashion concerns, Men-o-pause and Health issues, but I just know how to maneuver them more gracefully now.
Age is really just a number and I feel like I’m still in my 20s, mentally that is. Not physically, emotionally or spiritually. All those areas have greatly improved and there is the happy dance I can do. Emotional maturity, in sobriety, is where the growth is. I’m managing my emotions much better than I did last year and as I can feel it. I don’t react, I don’t flip out, I don’t snap – as much as I used to. Not saying all those things have been lifted from me, like the obsession of alcohol was over 13 years ago. This whole life thing for me is all about progress and striving to do better the next day. I can brush off my mistakes easier and keep going forward. I can change the script on how I think life issues, problems, grievances and joys should work out – and that comes down to trusting God.
In case you didn’t happen to read my post from last year, I thought I’d share the full post – as most of it still rings true for me, at 51! So, Happy Birthday to me!
I don’t know where that came from or who thinks it’s actually true or what media outlets are throwing the half decade a big party; Today; http://www.today.com/health/americas-favorite-age-its-50-new-poll-says-8C11144329, but as someone who turns 50 in a few days, it’s an emphatic No!
So I’m going to preface this post with three things; One: I am only sharing what is going on with me. Two: This is not meant to be a laundry list of my angst’s, just my personal observations. Three: I normally write about recovery and sobriety, but this is about my Emotional Sobriety! And the only other thing I will say is that after I share this article I won’t complain or mention the half decade milestone again. Ever.
Instead of writing in normal paragraph form, which now I’m too lazy to read, (this must be another upside of turning 50) I will break it down into 3 areas:
I’m getting ready to head out to Palm Springs in a couple weeks with some other hot 50 year olds to celebrate us, and we rented a swag house with a huge pool. I just went bathing suit shopping. I am having a funeral for the skimpy stringy bikini. I can’t anymore. I weigh the same I did a few years ago, but the middle now is a pouch with wrinkles. No matter how many planks or crunches I do (I could do a few more) the pouch has dropped its anchor. In addition to the bathing suit horror, is the arm flab. Can I continue to wear sleeveless? Spaghetti straps? That’s on a case by case basis for now. I find myself wearing the cute jeans still, but with the flowy blouse, the oversized sweater and the cute wrap over the T-shirt. No need to belt that shit up anymore. I’m also getting grayer by the day. I used to go 3-4 weeks until a root touch up was needed, now it’s about a week until they highlight themselves out of hibernation. The hair mascara is my new BFF. Last but not least is my Granny Panties. I can assure you my husband are less than thrilled. I’m not actually wearing the full on granny, but it’s getting there. I like the panties that cover most of my belly. It’s more comfortable. It’s all about the comfort for me. No more thong or cheekers or anything that represents a doily. Can’t do it.
So really, what’s on pause? Is it my lack of libido, is it the brain fog/memory eraser or is it my psycho-ism? I’ve been able to manage the psycho-ism and the libido (mostly) by HRT. But my brain fog tortures me every day. My word association is nowhere to be found and remembering if I just brushed my teeth 10 minutes ago seems to be the new normal. Yeah, I hope this pause picks up again – very soon. I heard it’s here to stay for 5 years? WTF? I will be 55 by then and I will have a whole host of other issues to harness by then. I’m beginning to think it’s all one big conspiracy. For what I don’t know, but it makes sense to me today. As far as the Psycho-ism, when my Menopause arrived hard at my door step I was a bi-polar freak. I was whiny (more than normal), I was depressed and I cried at everything. I mean everything. Lucy not eating her food (she’s a dog), losing to my husband at tennis, and watching a TV show that didn’t have the ending I wanted. Yup, tissues were tucked into my long sleeve t-shirt for all.
I’m a generally quite a healthy person. Until recently. My body aches are an everyday normalcy, I need to take out a loan for my dental work and I’m wearing a Thermacare wrap almost daily for my lower back. What gives here? It’s all just wear and tear. I’m not 25, 30 or even 40 anymore and I’ve beat up my body a lot through the years. But this is my lot right now. I’m saving the best for last. My worst one is the Incontinence! Who can’t make it to the bathroom anymore? Me! I find myself leaking pee right before I get to my commode? Yes, it’s arrived. Albeit, it’s too soon for me to be at Costco investing in a lifetime supply of Depends, but a panti-liner will have to suffice. For now.
So as my laundry list continues to grow, I also realize that for once I can also finally breathe… Ahhhhhhhh. And realize NONE of it matters. Does it matter if I look good in that bikini? Does it matter that he didn’t call me? Does it matter that I didn’t get around to traveling the world? Does it matter I’ve never bought any real estate? Does it matter that I made a bad career misstep? Does it matter that I didn’t have children? (Well, maybe, but no time to obsess on that now). I am at where I am at. I know I’m enough and I’m doing the best I can with what I’ve got. My excitement for the future is that I’ve got another 25+ years to try and achieve some of the above.
Let’s talk about the benefits. The biggest one is having the wisdom I have today by going through my lost 20s, my disappointing 30s (until 37, that’s when I got sober) and my coming of age 40s. I’ve loved a lot of people and I have lost some along the way. That’s ok because today I get to be married to a man I love, I get to have a career that challenges me and pays the bills. I get to have a loving family, an adorable pooch and the sheer joy from of knowing that it is enough. Speedbumps and all. The icing for me is I get to have the most amazing group of friends; real intimate friendships with women. These lovely ladies hail from all over the country; some are part of my authentic sober posse and some I’ve known for over 30 years! How lucky am I? I’m lucky that I get to age with these women and share the sweet, as well as the sour.
As a good friend of mine, who is over 50, shared with me today at coffee, “You are never going to look as good as you look today”. That put it all into perspective for me, no more looking back, it’s all about looking forward and accepting that this is where I’m at and it’s not a cruel joke from the universe, a lot of people turn 50 and live to tell about it! Chin up sister!
I am just filled with gratitude that is a party for me next week celebrating my Birthday milestone in all its glory and fabulousness that I can embrace. I just hope I can get to the bathroom in time.
*I know Psycho-ism isn’t a real word, so I made it up for this article. Thanks.