Here are two facts about me:
1. I am extremely prone to motion sickness. One of my earliest memories is not being able to stomach a trip to the local mall. Side note: we had a behemoth 1975-ish Chevy Impala, I threw up, and my two older sisters turned into contortionists… to this day I don’t know how they got so far into the opposite corner of the back seat.
2. I can be an extremely excitable person, particularly when I believe I am being delivered an injustice of any kind. Smart-alecky friends have been known to take advantage of this fact, and start rumors such as “Josie is the president of the Robin Williams fan club,” just to see me all fired up.
Now, knowing these two facts, imagine how I reacted when my cousin told me I should just go on an amusement park ride, because, “motion sickness is all in your head, and you can talk yourself out of it.”
Perhaps I should take him up on his offer, and allow him to sit beside me as we ride, I’m pretty sure that would teach him!
This glimpse into some banal facts about me is really just a backdrop into the real topic: how much of what we deal with is “all in our heads?” Despite my outrage over my cousin’s commentary, I have come to realize that I believe this statement more than I realize. Except, of course, when it comes to motion sickness.
One example, and I know I am going to raise a few eyebrows with this one, but I personally have a hard time with the disease concept of alcoholism. I am allowed to say that, since I am an alcoholic, along the same lines as: I can criticize my family, but you better not try. I certainly believe that I had an obsession, that, try as I did, I could not expel. I believe that if I choose to alter my mind again with a substance, that obsession will return, but disease? That is one that confounds this alcoholic. I don’t waste a lot of time on it, just like I don’t waste a lot of time wondering when I crossed the line from enjoying a drink to craving one… I just did, that is my reality, and I will, for today, deal with my reality.
But I find the “all in your mind” mentality pervades other areas of my life, and I’m wondering if it’s something I need to explore. Most recent example, and I have been giving periodic updates, but I have embarked on a fitness program. Long story short, I have gone from zero exercise to considering participating in a 5k. August was to be dedicated to training for this event, to see how much of a 5k I could run (versus walking), and how low I could get my time down. In my mind, if I could run at least half, and get my time under 45 minutes, I was set to do it.
And then, out of nowhere, I sustained an injury. I really mean out of nowhere, because I still don’t know what the hell happened. One minute, I’m jogging, the next minute, I almost fell over, because my leg couldn’t support me.
I could go into boring detail, but who really cares? I am not a physical therapist, and I have never, and I mean never, been an athletic person, so I have never dealt with a sports injury of any kind. So I look to my fellow supporters who have dealt with this, and I take every suggesting they give me (except go to the doctor, that is a last resort, and a topic for another post).
After an entire week of resting it, stretching it, icing it, I attempt to resume my training (treadmill this time). Within 3 minutes, the pain is back, and I am limping again.
Again, long story short, I try everything I can think of, but the minute my legs go into running mode, this pain comes back. So my husband, quite logically, says, “Well then just walk.” Sensible, right?
But, and here is the real point: I can’t wrap my mind around it. Seriously. I know it’s ridiculous, but I can’t make myself grasp the concept that I am restricted from the activity of running. I just keep thinking that I can figure out a way past this injury.
It’s this kind of thinking that reminds me that I’m an alcoholic, and that I will never be “cured” (of the disease that I still question in theory!). The normal person would just see that running is not working, and switch to another form of exercise. My thinking? I can beat this leg injury, dammit! Nothing so stupid is going to keep me from this goal!
I am off to meet a friend (from AA) for a walk in the same park I sustained my injury. I am going to explain this thought process to her, and she is (hopefully) going to help me see the error in my thinking.
The progress: that I know that there is an error in my thinking.
That I am choosing exercise over sitting around, that I am meeting a friend from AA with whom to exercise, and that I will choose walking over re-injuring myself until I can figure this whole thing out!
Thanks to my husband for capturing these waves!
I would apologize for my absence, but I promised a fellow blogger I was going to stop apologizing for my life, so I will say: vacation and blogging is like oil and water, in that they don’t mix well.
But, having spent a decent amount of time already on the beach, I’ve had some time to ponder the similarities between the landscape I am presently calling home, and my recovery. Actually, more than recovery, the similarities extend through life itself.
Sand sculptors abound this time of year, from the amateur (my two-year old nephew makes a mean upside-down bucket sand castle), to the most elaborate (I have seen ornate sand-constructed miniature golf holes that people can actually use). I have seen the sublime (my daughter’s rendition of a businessman, with tie on, was superb) to the outrageous (my brother-in-law’s mermaid was, let’s just say, generously proportioned). Here’s the thing about this art: no matter how perfect, or imperfect, the finished product is, the ocean will have its way with it, and when we come back the next day we will be looking at a blank slate.
Same with recovery, and with life itself: no matter how perfect or horrific my day is, no matter how accomplished or how unproductive I’ve been, no matter how many accolades I’ve received, or how many nit-picky fights in which I’ve participated, the day will end, and a new one will begin, and I will start all over again. This can be good news or bad news, depending upon the day I’ve had, but either way, life can only be lived one day at a time, and I start fresh every morning I awaken.
Having many children with us (18 total!) of prime boogie-boarding age, I spend a lot of time standing by the water and doing head counts (and frequently saying to whoever is standing next to me, “I don’t see this one, do you!?!”). My time in this position has taught me something: stand still for too long, and I’m going under… the sand. The longer I stand in the same position, the deeper my feet get buried, which makes me more and more uncomfortable, and becomes more and more difficult to climb out of the hole I’ve created.
And so it is with recovery, and with life: stand still for too long, and I will stagnate. The minute I’ve got the idea in my head that “I’ve got this,” recovery-wise, then I am headed for the proverbial fall. And it’s equally true with life itself. If I’m not always trying to grow, trying to improve, looking for new experiences, then I am burying myself, and over time it will get more and more difficult to stretch and grow.
Finally, we have had a recurring problem with the cyclical currents in the ocean: right around the same time every day, we have to pull the kids out of the water, show them how far the ocean has pulled them, and instruct them to keep looking at either the lifeguard chair or us as a gauge of how far they are being pulled. The lecture is effective for about 3 minutes before we have to pull them out and tell the exact same message.
I am certainly not a scientist, but my experiential understanding is this: there is no fighting the pull of the ocean’s current. You can attempt to manage it by periodically swimming against it, measuring yourself against a fixed object on the shoreline and adjusting yourself accordingly, but you are going to be pulled whether you like it or not.
I can, and have, lived in denial of my disease called addiction. I have attempted to figure ways around it, I believed I could find a solution to it, I have even tried to pretend that my addictive behavior was normal. All that got me was further and further away from my ultimate goal of peace with myself and my place in this world. Nowadays, I choose neither to ignore it nor to “solve” it. Instead, I accept it as part of my life, and I manage it as effectively as I can, one day at a time. Just as I have instructed my children with the current, I have yardsticks with which to measure myself, and on a daily basis I make sure I am aware of where I am on the recovery yardstick, and I make adjustments on a daily basis.
Next post will center around my philosophical musings on the Fudgy Wudgy man who is always tempting my children with his treats. Until then, I want to say I miss my blogging friends greatly, and I anticipate with relish the idea of quiet computer time so I can “catch up” with all of you!
Having some alone time to put fingers to the keyboard!
Another stellar Monday meeting… 14 attendees, which ties the record!
The beauty of running your own meeting is having the authority to tailor the content to suit your own life circumstances. I really needed to hear a well-known story in the Big Book, and since this is the first Monday in May, I got to select it. The image above is an oft-quoted paragraph from the story entitled “Acceptance is the Answer.”
I have written about this story several times in the past 15 months. When I was just starting out, I attended numerous meetings that featured it, until I finally grasped its importance, and now I only get to hear it when I choose it (which I do, at every opportunity). If you have a copy of the Big Book, pull it out and read it… it contains a powerful message.
Why is it so difficult to accept people, places and things exactly as they are? I know, as an alcoholic/addict, that it was in the acceptance of my disease that I found relief, and a solution. So why is it so tough to use that same formula with the rest of life?
When I perceive that I’ve been wronged, I will lose serenity in an instant, and it becomes astonishingly difficult to climb out of the hole I have dug for myself. Once in the hole of resentment, I have perfect recall of all past times I have been similarly wronged, and the hole becomes deeper. I react in kind, believing myself justified because, after all, I have been wronged! Of course, I am conveniently forgetting the old adage that two wrongs do not make a right… and the hole gets deeper.
So how do I climb out of the hole? Reading the paragraph in the image above is an excellent start. When I can truly accept others as they are, and look to what I can change (my thoughts, my actions/reactions, and, consequently, my feelings), I start living in the solution rather than the problem. And when I live in the solution, rather than the problem, the problem tends to dissipate.
Today, I am starting with the man (woman) in the mirror, and I’m asking him (her) to change his (her) ways!
Using Michael Jackson lyrics to support recovery is a miracle…
Those who do not find time for exercise will have to find time for illness. -Earl of Derby
I really hate exercise. There, I said it. I hate dressing for it, fixing my hair for it, planning time in my day for it, driving to it (the gym), and even walking up to the elliptical machine. About the only part I like about the whole process is getting into my car and driving out of the gym parking lot.
But I have been hearing a lot lately about the idea of “mind, body and spirit,” and I know, in my heart, that I am sadly lacking in the body part of it. But man, just writing this post makes me sigh. Yet another stupid mind shift I need to figure out.
So I’ve been thinking about how I can apply recovery to the whole physical fitness gig. And the first thing that came to mind is the title of this post. Act as if you are into physical fitness. Another expression is “fake it ’til you make it.” So, in that regard, I got up this morning, and even though I looked longingly at my jeans and sweater, I instead dressed in gym attire. And I told my son to ask me if I went to the gym when he gets home from school. And I acknowledged to my husband that I have about an hour free in my schedule that I could fill with a trip to the gym. And I’m writing to all of you now.
Accountability. I really hope tomorrow I write with a happy update…
Believe it or not, sharing this inner turmoil is a miracle. I cannot stand talking about the gym before I actually do it, so hopefully this is the mental rearrangement I need!