Forced Reflection

swing sober identity

Being an addict can feel, initially, like obligatory reflection. Reflection—one of the things that drives us to drink in the first place. We aren’t good feelers.

As I look back on my early recovery I can see that everything was exacerbated. Good feelings were REALLY good and bad feelings were REALLY bad. I never knew how to stop the pendulum from swinging all the way through to the other side. Honestly, I never even knew you could stop the pendulum from swinging. I thought this was how it was for everyone. It never occurred to me that people who didn’t have alcohol dependence actually felt and functioned differently than me. I thought they just handled life better. I was always trying to handle life better.

It was a while before I realized that my alcoholic brain wasn’t working at full capacity. It didn’t know how to switch gears for the task at hand. It had two modes: great or horrible. Rarely do I remember a time I felt peaceful—genuinely peaceful.  Somewhere in that first year sober I remember, with certainty, having the “peaceful” feeling, but I thought I was just bored. It took me another few years to understand the difference between the two.

Bored = Nothing to do.

Peaceful = It’s ALL good, even the stuff I don’t think is good.

Sometimes it bugs me that it took until I was 40 to get sober. How did I manage all those years? I guess I didn’t.

One of the big lessons (that never gets old in recovery) is the idea that we reflect on past behavior. (It’s a fine line, too. To look without obsessing; to look and grow from knowledge gained.) We are to acknowledge past error without judging self or others. I never met a person who didn’t judge and certainly no addict that didn’t judge themselves or others harshly. So looking and not judging was foreign. It is through repetition, however, that I have learned this tool pays big dividends.

Big Dividends, How?

When I feel that discomfort toward self or another I can be confident I am judging. Judging, no matter how politely I package it, still hurts me inside. I have to get to that place where I can rise above it and look down on it. Look down on all the players (self-included) and acknowledge that everyone was doing the best they could at the time. The best they could at the time—based on the information in their head. It’s not my job to say what is or is not in their head.

When I get here (mentally here) I am free. I can forgive you, forgive me, and move forward without that ache in my heart. It is so nice to wake in the morning without an ache in my heart over little things that happened yesterday. It is so nice to not need to drink because I hate the way I feel inside, I’m not disappointed in what I did or said, or, what you did or said.

Yes, I had to be willing to look at me and work on being a better version of me each day.

And yes, I still have to force myself to look anytime I feel that old familiar ache within. My sobriety depends upon it, but now, so does my peace of mind.

A quick shout out to all my fellow recovery bloggers. I celebrated 12 years clean and sober on March 10. I couldn’t have done it without you. We recover together. Thanks for years and years of loving me as I grew to love me.

And ... in case you didn’t have a chance to listen, I actually like this interview . Go figure? LOL. Thank you Paul for 45 fun minutes of reflection. Listen and discover some of the research on how addicts are different and what you can do about your addiction.


19 Responses to “Forced Reflection

  • Congratulations on spending 12 years in the light Lisa.

    I listened to your interview, it was enjoyable and enlightening.

  • Congrats on 12 years Lisa!!! Loved the interview too. And I just love you! Thank you for all your wisdom. Hugs.

    • Thanks for the kind words. I’m so glad you listened to the interview. I don’t usually like my voice on interviews, so it was growth for me to not react to myself. (Actually, it was growth for me to post the link. LOL) Your friendship means tons to me. The longer I blog, the longer I find my people and share my personal journey. You are one of those gals for me, so thank you for all the wisdom you share. I hope we are blogging for many years together. ♥ hugs

      • Ha. I would have never thought that you didn’t like your voice in interviews. You sound so nice and and your voice has a really soothing and flowing sound to it. I love it. But you know, I don’t like the sound of my voice either. Hehe. I have an accent and I mispronounce words all the time. So I am embarking on a new adventure to get over this dislike… Can’t say what but it’s in the works!

        Thank you Lisa! So happy to trudge this road with you!

  • Congratulations on the 12 years. I identify and relate to so much in this post. If I keep my sober act together in 2months I’ll also passed the dozen years mark – how the hell did I achieve that?! I was 41 when I started to figure this all out – like you say how can you (dis)function as an adult for so long?
    Also I remember in my first 18 months at least I had a three month pendulum but it swung to “It’s all great” stayed there then in an instant swung to “It’s all terrible”. Like you I had no concept of serenity or peace of mind. I got there eventually…

    • Somehow, I’m thinking the next two months won’t be a problem for you. LOL. I’m with you. I just wanted 12 days or 12 months. I did not sign up for 12 years. So glad I stayed. So glad I keep connecting. That’s the one thing I love about recovery bloggers … no matter how infrequently I post, or others post there is simply just love and support. Looking forward to celebrating many more years together. ♥

  • catlinwellness
    8 years ago

    Congratulations on your anniversary! Thanks for sharing the interview link, it’s nice to hear your voice 🙂

    The Judge is one of my most challenging mind monkeys…but, like you I now have tools to use and a louder Wise Woman to call upon. In my drinking days I couldn’t hear my Wise Woman – I tuned her out and didn’t trust her.

    Thank goodness we can learn new skills, like listening, in recovery.
    Blessings to you!

    • I forget that so many of my blogging friends have never heard my voice. Funny to me, since I feel like I spend the day talking. LOL. I like your reference to the ‘Wise Woman’ within. I am learning that she is always there, but she is so quiet, I sometimes don’t bother to listen above the loud chatter in my head. Thank you for your support and your blogging in recovery, as well. You bring the wholeness of proper health to my mind on a regular basis. Friends … if you’re in need of a wellness coach look no further. Hoping we both never stop learning. Blessings my friend. ♥

  • 12 years. What incredible time to have sober! I related a lot to the first part of the post. I never knew a ‘middle-ground’ in anything. Ecstacy or depression. It has taken a while to grow accustomed to the middle-ground. It is NOT boring, you are right. How often I can think it boring rather than peaceful. The mundane is miraculous to me!

    • I so love this thought “the mundane is miraculous.” It never ceases to amaze me how the simplest thought could so elude me my whole life. What was I chasing? Wait, what am I chasing. Even in this moment of today, I have already forgotten that “it’s all good.” I am so grateful for the anniversary wishes and for friends to share recovery. Blessings. ♥

  • 12 years… I was close! Congratulations, Lisa, and a big thank you for showing us all how it is done! The interview was spectacular!

    • You teach me as much as I teach you. I don’t ever want to stop learning. I am grateful for your friendship. Love you darling.

  • Hi Lisa,

    Congratulations on your recent 12th anniversary. I’m now in my 10th year also…and i agree about the feeling of being at peace now we no longer drink. It took a long time to make this adjustment, but regrets or negative feelings about events or actions are no more, those days are over. This is a great, almost euphoric feeling that seems to grow with the passing years. Like all of us in recovery, we all wish we’d started sooner!


    • With abundant gratitude. I feel luckier and luckier as the days pass. I am blessed for this community: A place to grow and be vulnerable and a place to allow myself to be loved. A place to learn to love myself. Hoping we celebrate many comments as the years pass by. ♥ Thanks for your kind words James.

  • Thank you for this post, I can very much relate to your description of the pendulum of emotions. I am new to this community, but I am excited to read more of your writing!

    • Thanks for commenting. The online recovery community is amazing. It’s healing to put our self out there and be known. Looking forward to getting to know you better. I see you have a blog so I’ll come and check it out. ♥ Lisa

  • muchmorethansober
    8 years ago

    Boredom has been my biggest struggle, but I am slowly overcoming it. There should never been a valid reason to exclaim, “I’m bored!”, there is so much to do in this life, but switching gears from drinking to ward off boredom to sobriety and being proactive in your life, is difficult sometimes. Thanks for this post, I love your writing.

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