Freedom!

“A life of reaction is a life of slavery, intellectually and spiritually. One must fight for a life of action not reaction.

—Rita Mae Brown

All woman in recovery confront their reactive habits in relationships. Whether we came to recovery as a codependent or as an addict, we soon must face how much other people’s behavior has been a cue for our own reactions. There is always a three-part process in any reaction—first, the other person’s behavior; second, a moment of choosing a response; and third, our reaction. But in our spiritual slavery, we don’t notice the choice stage. It feels automatic. It may feel as though the other person made me do it.

No amount of changing on someone else’s part can change us. We are becoming more responsible for our own lives and for our own behavior regardless of others around us. There is liberation in noticing the choice stage. It is tough to follow through on our choices, but when we do, it is truly a sign of a grown woman or man. Then a remarkable thing happens—our self-esteem rises.

Today, I will pause to notice the choices I have in the moment between someone’s action and my reaction.”

 

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The Turning Point

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This seems to happen monthly for me and is mostly hormone induced – need to get more vigilant around taking my evening primrose 😉

I have had a series of little awakenings lately and I am just so grateful! To get 100% honest, I am a little scared and my heart is really sprinting around with anxiety. The change is coming – it has to, because the pain of staying the same has become greater than the fear of change. The last leaves have fallen off of the autumn trees and the season has exhausted itself… No more holding on, I just need to let go and accept that the winter has come.

Aside from the soon to be altered state of affairs. I have realised I am a validation addict and that it is a undeniable need that I have always tried to look outside of myself to fulfil. Initially I needed very little validation, but in the progressive nature of my illness, I find myself thirsty for more, yet I find no body of water full enough to begin to quench it. I need you to tell me I am good enough, that you are happy with my work. I feel exhilarated when you do, but the high wears off quicker each time and it’s not long before I’m a shaking mess in the corner, waiting for my next hit.

How to change my childhood tape? How do I give myself what I am longing for others to provide? I don’t know how and it is in that admission that I can humbly ask God. Everything I have wanted in life, I have had the ability to get – this has been proven time and time again, so where does the doubt come in?  “Ask and you shall receive.” – Please help me believe.

I always feel like I want too much, or it doesn’t make sense or how can I possibly have it all? It came to me in the shower tonight – It’s not just about people, it’s about animals too.
Rehabilitation: “the process of returning to a healthy or good way of life” – It is about people, places, things – rehabilitation and restoration – I’m writing this and it makes no sense what soever, but I think I have just figured out my goal. Another member sent me a number of an equine therapist, I called her today. I didn’t speak to her, but I left a message. She sent me a text wanting to connect. So it begins… Watch this space!

 

Therapist or Horticulturist?

My therapist is really the biggest gift in my recovery! My analytical brain tries to pick apart her method, because it is so darn effective!!! I am sad to say, I can’t work it out, despite my best efforts.

In recovery, having the opportunity to be sponsored and to sponsor women, I see the effectiveness of sharing my experience so that others gain perspective. My sponsor does the same for me. My sponsors listen to me and I listen to my sponsees… Thats all it’s really about. I know as an addict, the moment someone tells me what to do I shut off. I have experienced women shutting off to me when my control defect comes into to play and I start barking out “suggestions” – haha!

What I can’t wrap my head around is, if she is not bringing the conversation back to program, not giving away any of her own experiences and not only listening…. HOW does she inspire such action??? She is an enigma. She has given me a few videos to watch and a few books to read, asked me to write 4 letters and that is all since February… What I have done though is:

Written out my dreams and the running themes I have seen in them
Done a timeline
Drew up a loss graph
Drawn 8 different ego states
Done exercises in the book
Written up an earning history
Collected images for my vision board
Written up a relationship history

Thats all without her even asking. Another thing is I go into my sessions and she either breaks me, where I walk out like a wounded animal OR we have a really nice chat, I ask her loads of questions, we laugh a lot. I feel like I leave and nothing deep has even been touched on. I go about my business as usual and when I wake up in the morning and open my front door… All of a sudden there is a tree there that I have never seen before. Excuse the figure of speech, but I really know no other way of describing this phenomenon of awareness that is so profound, that it literally smacks me in the face. Unexpectedly I see something that I have never seen before, or something has just grown over night.

She is changing the landscape of my life… At first I am so taken aback and almost a little afraid of the unfamiliarity, but after I manage to move through that fear (creatively I might add, because the once flat plateau of my being, is now dotted with trees and rocks and I am having to navigate more consciously – goodbye auto pilot) – I am gifted with a beauty and perspective

My soul is flourishing and my exploring spirit is no longer blind – I cultivate a beautiful garden at the core of my being. I get to go and sit there sometimes, fully present and truly blessed.

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“Act as if”

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Oh how life has changed in 7 days hahaha!. I am not in love anymore 😉 (Turns out I wasn’t in love, I just mistook love for intensity) – Thank God thats over! My friendship with my best friend is still in tact. My finances aren’t looking that bad, at least I know now what they look like. I just paid for my visa, so that will keep me in the country for at least another 18 months. I did the 1000 steps today in the Dandenong ranges with my client and just had a great day at the office.

I have an action buddy. We hold one another accountable. I told her I wanted to clean my room, do step work, do some uni work and brush up my resume for the internal vacancy with the company. I have done everything bar the resume, but now that I have put it on here, I am definitely going to look at it.

I will be brief tonight, but I can’t resist sharing; The thought of doing my resume actually scares the hell out of me. One sure way to gauge my level of self worth is by looking at my CV. If you ask me to write one for anyone else, I would ace it. Its funny, because I have always been able to see the potential in other people, but when it comes to me I am hopeless. So tonight, I will go about this exactly the same way I came to believe in a power greater than me… by acting as if. I just got on my knees and prayed regardless. Tonight, as per the suggestion of my action buddy, I am just going to write that resume as if I am my best friend writing it for me, then hopefully I will come to believe that too one day and do the great things I am destined to do if I just learn to have a little faith in me,..

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than one you are capable of living” – Nelson Mandela

 

The Ugly Duckling

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So my earlier post, I expressed a little resentment towards another member. I have been searching deep within to try to see why it bugged me so much. I think from a very young age I realised I was different. If anybody is in to numerology, each member of my family is a “7” and I am a number “2”, which on the number scale, are polar opposites. I love differently, I give differently and I connect with the outside world in a completely different way.

I outreached quite a bit about the way I work my program and the way others work theirs, just to get some clear perspective on things. Each member I spoke to told me they finished the 12 steps in one fellowship before moving on, but everybody has their own way. The old me would have tried to change, to avoid judgement, but fuck it! What I do is good enough and who I am is just right for me, despite the fact that I am different.

I am a lesbian with internalised homophobia as a result of conditioning. I was abandoned by my father when I was young, so naturally to hold on to the one parental relationship I had left, instead of letting my mom reject me, I rejected myself. I have asked the question before, what happened to that girl who used to dream of the sustainable horse farm? She is pushed so far down, with every other part that makes me me, because she is beyond afraid of being rejected for who she really is, because being gay is actually a huge part of that. “I don’t know what I would do if Tanya or Nicole ever came home with a black man. Actually nothing would be worse than one of them coming home with a woman!” – That was the day. It was said in front of the whole family. I was 16 and toying with the idea of girls in my head, until that very day. My family is just old school thats all, but unfortunately it has had one hell of an impact on my life.

It’s a lonely world living an existence with no place in the world. My family only accept part of me and I am too afraid to even venture into my new family, into the gay community. I have an amazing therapist though. She is facilitating my full escape from the closet. Don’t get me wrong, I am out. I have been out for 12 years, but admission and acceptance are two totally different things. I don’t accept my gayness and in turn I reject a huge side of who I am. When I was growing up I dressed like a boy. I loved it. I had male friends and I always used to check out what they were wearing. I wore a top hat and tails to my dad’s wedding and used to cringe when I had to put on the dress for my grandmother.

What do you want to be when you grow up Nicole?… “A boy” hahaha! I had fire engines and I would only buy Ken. I didn’t care what you thought of me, all I wanted to do was wear the baggiest mad dog pants and t-shirts and caps and ride quad bikes and horses. Climb trees until I broke my arm, ride faster on my bike until I took off half my face. Climb on the roof of the house and jump onto the lawn, just me and my best friend: Josh, Allister, Matthew and there was one in nursery school, but I cant remember his name. Today it’s weird. I hold my own with the boys, but I don’t quite fit and I definitely don’t fit with the ladies either. I am a little odd, but thats ok, not too sure I have found my tribe just yet (been looking in all the wrong places really!)

9 July I will try a lesbian party (trying to keep calm and not back out) – I have hosted lesbian events back home, they have been quite fun when I am too drunk to have any inhibitions, so this is really a whole different kettle of fish. I am going with some sober ladies, so at least I’ll be safe on the sobriety front. Do I know what to expect? No, idea! I guess I am just going to have to go and pray and try and sit through the uncomfortability – In the name of finding a family I fit in to 🙂

Positive Self Talk

This morning I am feeling energetic and inspired. I would love to say “great”, but I am consciously taking steps not to judge my emotional state of being, because the feelings will still be there whether I think they are good or bad. I have really caught up on some sleep in the last two days and as a result I have started to dream again. I have also been off coffee now, this is day 3, naturally my craving for sugar has spiked, but being the addict I am, I am not surprised my addiction is trying to manifest. The disease is cunning, baffling and powerful and, I find, quite creative, when it comes to finding ways in.

Today I am grateful for the awareness around this. That even when I want to eat a whole slab of chocolate, I don’t have to judge myself for it. After years and years of using all kinds of substances, people, places and things to put on top of my emotions, I am really not surprised that my first instinct is to reach outside of myself to find what I truly have the ability to manifest from within. It starts with the way I talk to myself. A gentle, judgement free approach to self.

This morning I woke up at 5:15am. I left my dream book next to my bed and I had a great dream to fill it with. I have been married to myself for over a month now and leaving thoughtful things all over the place to make my life easier makes me one grateful wife. It is the little things! I didn’t need a coffee and thank God the withdrawal headache is gone. I have had the opportunity to work some more program last night and this morning. That paired with some R&R, has really just put me into the best space.

Yesterday, after a conversation with another member, I felt quite low, a little resentful actually. He questioned my program and the fact that I hadn’t finished the steps in any of them. Part of me got my back up, I know this is my stuff, because after writing my earning history, I really see that being a non finisher is a distinct pattern in my life. So I did inventory on it and shared this with my sponsor, so that I don’t hold onto the resentment, because I really don’t want to be sick over resenting a friend. There was a huge part of me, that thought, “Tonight, I am going to sit down and hammer out the rest of the steps in the drug program and I’ll show him!!!”, but then reading one of the symptoms of under earning is: the compulsive need to prove – I decided against that idea.

I have an action buddy in the money program. I gave her three tasks that I was going get completed yesterday, so I did those and felt absolutely amazing! I am feeling exhilarated and my life is just getting better and better, so why do I feel the need to prove myself? It is my understanding of the program, that you continue to work the steps even once you have finished them and I have every intention of finishing them, in my own time though. People in the love & money fellowship all have 15 years+ sobriety and each of them say how lucky I am to have found these rooms so early in my recovery, how they wish they could have found the different fellowships so early. I also have just expanded my 12 step network, by exposing myself to much older cleaner members, but role models, who have healthy relationships and are financially secure, because they have brought God into every aspect of their lives. Through these programs the connection has grown on an international level. I speak to a woman in Spain, who would have helped me set up in Europe if my visa didn’t work out here. A woman in Scotland, my sponsor lives in Sydney, I outreach with women in UK and USA.

I am writing this post to self validate really. When I look at it like this and see how my life has changed inside and out as a result of the hard work I am putting in, I don’t question what I am doing. I am still an alcoholic under earner, sex & drug addict avoidant with codependent tendencies hahaha! I will still need every fellowship today as much as I will in 20 years time. I accept this.

My addiction manifests and I simply deal with whichever area it decides to manifest into, because if I don’t deal with the shame associated with this money stuff, it will drive me to use. If I don’t deal with the relationship stuff, I might find myself in a really toxic relationship, which either, will make me want to use, or my default, I end up wanting to commit suicide. I am happy to binge eat on any of these emotions, so if I put on weight, that too will have me wanting to use to get skinny again. Do I have a drug problem? YES! Huge one actually! But it is all this other stuff that will drive me to taking a drug. I honour my recovery too much to leave it unattended.

“Letting Go of Old Beliefs

Try harder. Do better. Be perfect.
These messages are tricks that people have played on us. No matter how hard we try, we think we have to do better. Perfection always eludes us and keeps us unhappy with the good we’ve done.
Messages of perfectionism are tricks because we can never achieve their goal. We cannot feel good about ourselves or what we have done while these messages are driving us. We will never be good enough until we change the messages and tell ourselves we are good enough now.
We can start approving of and accepting ourselves. Who we are is good enough. Our best yesterday was good enough; our best today is plenty good too.
We can be who we are, and do it the way we do it—today. That is the essence of avoiding perfection.
God, help me let go of the messages that drive me into the crazies. I will give myself permission to be who I am and let that be good enough.”

Hazelden – The Language of Letting Go

Feeling the Shift

I started in the financial program at the beginning of last week and have been obsessing about everything else since. I wanted a distraction from the shame on that subconscious level. I had all the tool and started to work the program, but I was doing it on my own. Things were shifting, but I was still feeling overwhelmed.

I reached out yesterday for the second time after joining. I had done some phone meetings, spoken to a woman who got me in touch with all of the resources and I played around a bit with possession consciousness and the energy was definitely shifting. I was listening at meetings and actively looking for a sponsor, with no luck. I listened to a woman last night talk about her investment properties and the yoga studio she had on one of them. She sounded awesome. I tried calling her earlier that day with no luck. She sent me a text after the meeting and we arranged a time to talk this morning.

She is now my sponsor and gave me a whole bunch of tools and apps to kick me off in this new program. She shared her strength, which gave me hope! I can be an under earner and recover from it – it didn’t feel like that at the beginning of last week. I was consumed by shame, where now I feel there is really light at the end of the tunnel. I also picked up my action partner yesterday. We call each other everyday and share and give one another feedback. Also we hold one another accountable for our actions.

I woke up this morning from a dream, which is great, I stopped having those for a while (Not enough REM sleep for the brain to start dreaming to repair itself and update storage) – I have a withdrawal headache. I gave up coffee yesterday. I did it as a kind of natural thing, not by “deciding”, but rather just not doing it. I thought my withdrawal headache was from this finance stuff (I thought, Wow, this is powerful), but it was just the coffee hahaha!

The obsession around my friend has left me, thank God. Some heavy emotions came up after yesterday’s meditation, which I am so grateful for, because I am back on track today. I am motivated and inspired and not just sitting in the shit anymore. I have started to take little steps towards the solution. I am excited, walking towards freedom from this!

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The Power of Choice

It’s the third step again! It really is my favourite step and for me it’s all about courage and trust. It requires that I have enough courage to take a leap of faith and trust that God will have my back.

I have just chosen to change sponsors. This has been one of the hardest decisions in my life, because my gay male sponsor (who I am not at risk of sexualising) is an amazing human being and one of the best sponsors I have ever had. He really has got so much strength in recovery and such a strong message, I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for him. Unfortunately every time I saw him, I was overwhelmed with shame… it was intermittent and hard to pin, plus it flowed in between moments of greatness, so I always questioned myself. This is trauma “bondish”- Trauma Bonds

It is through him that I realised that I actually have daddy issues. For me having a male sponsor was just not working out anymore. I need nurture. I chose a woman in recovery, who I absolutely admire. She is a strong heterosexual woman, who really has her shit together. She is a power house financially. She is doing sober dating. She surrounds herself with strong women who are in healthy relationships and she is just so insightful.

She explained to me about the power of choice, by sharing her experience and I think it has literally just started to resonate with me. There was a point in my recovery where my best thinking could be arrested. It was the point that I realised 3 seconds into a fantasy that I was doing it, and thanks to the help of God, I was able to arrest it and examine what had just happened prior, for me to want to escape into my head like that. The day it happened, I had just spoken to my gran on the phone and she just dismissed me and then when I expressed my feelings to my mom about it, she just laughed it off, saying, “You know how the women are in our family” – I am not surprised I drifted off into my head, because the theme of rejection, followed by being laughed at was one that stems from my early childhood and when I was feeling that way when I was 5 years old it was pretty painful and the only way I knew how to survive was to disappear into a nicer world… The one that lives in my head.

It was thanks to the fantasy that I realised this and actually I can use it as a tool to help reconnect me with my feelings. Often if I examine the nature of the fantasy, rather than what it is about, I start to be able to pin point the unmet need. The need to be seen, the need to be heard,  the need to be rescued or the need to rescue, etc.

I just spoke to my friend. The conversation was raw and honest as usual. It was authentic and gave me a lot of food for thought. She recited the prayer, “God remove the fear from my life, so I can see the truth about myself”. After the conversation I felt the obsession creeping in and by the grace of God, I was able to arrest it and focus on writing this. I made a choice, I chose not to engage. I feel powerful now, but I know this strength does not come from me, how can it? Even after my best efforts, I was nowhere. Without God, living life is like trying to eat soup with a fork. I have a big bowl full of abundance, yet no matter how fast I move I am still hungry.

I choose recovery and I choose to remain in my power. My disease is powerful, but nowhere near as powerful as God. Now all I can do is meditate and really get to the bottom of what the feeling is that I am trying so hard to escape. I definitely feel shame around the money stuff and fear around abandonment… I think it is time for me to go back into my childhood and look at where this is coming from. I am grateful for the perspective and for a solution. Recovery, for me, though painful, is not about suffering. It is about feeling and being and through that knowing. Knowing myself just that little bit better, so I can really start to look after me.

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Where did She come from?

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Oh gosh, I have resistance to writing about this, because its so close to home and it’s really caught me off guard, but I have to be honest. It’s like I say to people in the rooms – “I am all program, Program, PROGRAM… until, something shiny walks past!”

Hahaha, it’s like one day I was walking along minding my own business, when I accidentally tripped and fell on her face. – This is not what happened, but I really don’t quite know how this happened and what this, actually even is.

I met a really good friend when I went up for a convention, not too long ago. It was that trip that I took the advise of my sponsee, when she told me to write out what my perfect girl looked like, after I mentioned that I wasn’t even sure if I had a type. I wrote it out, didn’t think much of it, but on the plane ride home, upon reflection, I realised I had just described, my new friend, soon to be my best friend. I just laughed about it (be careful what you wish for, Nicole. It will manifest!)

The diary entry has long since been forgotten and I have had the opportunity of getting to know one of the most incredible souls I have ever come across. She is now my absolute best friend and naturally, having had the freedom to be so vulnerable with her, I automatically sexualised her. There was such a huge part of me that felt shame and slightly perverse. I constantly had to question my motives for everything, to make sure I had no ulterior motive and that my intentions were pure. I am proud to say that my intentions were pure and that I had no idea anything would amount from this. Let’s not forget my incredible track history, which has led me into a program for this kind of addiction. She has become such a good friend, who I love so unconditionally, I was afraid/I am afraid, rather, of loosing her.

I got honest about my feelings and she didn’t reject me. I pulled away a bit after doing that, in an attempt to withdraw. I thought the feelings were gone and after a some time apart we reconnected over dinner. The feelings were strong, but by the end of the night they had subsided and I breathed a sigh of relief. I had moved through the feeling and got to the other side – Thank God that was over! – hahaha, not even close! The next day the feelings came back 10 fold and after we had a confronting conversation, I admitted to her that, that was where I had gone again and it ended on a very uncomfortable note.

The next day she called me with some stuff she had started unpacking about herself and afraid of the connection between us, I was a little apprehensive about our plans to meet up at the end of the weekend. I was not controlling any of this, for a change (and I guess that’s where my pattern has broken), I was merely just showing up. This is getting even harder for me to write, because as I am writing, I am realising things and the conflicting questions: Is this love? or Is this obsession?

We went for a beautiful drive down the coast, we stopped off at the most gorgeous organic cafe for breakfast. It was there that the conversation started to get confronting again. After a beautiful breakfast and the crack bleeding along the top of pandoras box. We moved back into the car to continue down the coast. It was here, amongst scenery fit for any movie set, that we started to have the conversation. She opened up to me about her feelings, but because this was unmarked territory for her, she had a lot of shame around it too. She opened up and I opened up and one just bounced off the other, until we were both so raw and exposed and just moved into complete authenticity. It was beautiful! It was overwhelming! But most of all it was amazing, because it was in that space that we both realised, we could have these feelings and were healthy enough to make the choice not to act on them. This fact alone was my life saving breath, indicating that I don’t have to loose my best friend, just because I like her. More importantly, I don’t have to loose myself.

I wish that were the end of the story, and I guess if I got this blog post out this morning, it would have been. Instead, my brain has gone into complete obsession about her today. I was totally distracted and that is not healthy for me and just an even clearer indication, that I am not ready to be dating anyone. I have 3 fellowships on the go, 2 jobs, volunteer work, university and some insanely heavy therapy sessions… The last thing I can do right now is a distraction. Do I think I am loosing it? Do I think I am crazy not to pursue the girl who has bought me flowers, cooked me dinner, spent the whole day totally engaged with me in some of the most beautiful place in Victoria and who I love so unconditionally and is just so easy and comfortable to be with? YES!!! I think I’ve lost my freaking mind!!!! But I am going to do it anyway and honour my commitment to myself. I have 6 more months of no relationships and I need to stick to that. I owe it to me.

I am praying for help to let go God. I have faith.

What will be, will be.

Letting Go

I had a really interesting weekend. I started to connect with myself and my life on a whole new level. I absolutely love my job and I guess for me one of my 10 esteemable acts is to enrich people’s lives and my job gives me the opportunity to do that. I am truly so grateful.

This weekend has been the breeding ground for revelations and I think it is in large part to the action I am putting in, using the tools of yet another fellowship. This weekend I learnt about possession consciousness.  It’s all about getting rid of what you don’t use or need (in my case some clothing that I never wear) to make room for new things. It is also a way of putting faith and trust into the universe that I will be looked after. On Saturday it was the simple act of getting rid of 5/6 items of clothing that I just don’t wear, they don’t make me feel good. I dropped off these things at the op shop on my way to work. It was no walk in the park, the night before I had so much fear and resistance around doing it. In the morning I just woke up and asked for God’s help and God did for me what I have been unable to do for myself.

The significance of this was something I would only encounter the next day. I listened to a speaker tape on Saturday afternoon, which provides an assessment on relationships and to measure up how they actually add value in my life. If the relationship is all about me giving it gets a -1, if it is all about them giving, it gets a +1 and if it is neutral it gets a 0. Each relationship will get scored in the financial department (is it costing me -1, is it costing them +1 or neutral 0), in happiness and so on. How does this relate to the possession consciousness? Well life is getting me to look at things: Do I use this? Is it serving me? Does it make me feel good? And if its not, I can walk away from it and make room for new relationships, by putting faith in the universe and my Higher Power that I will be provided for if I just let go of what is no longer serving me. The way I see it, is if I am standing with the people I choose to have in my life and I am surrounded by 20 negative (not necessarily bad people, just not good for me) and 1 positive, a new friend would probably find it really hard to get through the crowd to meet me, the opportunity might pass me by and why? All, because I want the security of having lots of friends… This has to change for me.

That’s not where it ends, but I unfortunately have run out of time. All I can say is that so many things have changed and are about to change, but instead of being afraid I am excited. I have trust, God has got me, all I have to do is let go and enjoy the ride.