Hello all. We are in for a wonderful experience today. You get to hear someone other than me!! Just kidding.
Sherrie is someone I met through FaceBook. She had written a book called My Sponsor Said. I bought it, really, for my sister. But I couldn’t resist reading it myself first. It was wise, poignant, lyrical. Last Friday I bought Sober On The Way To Sane, which is near the very top of my TBR list. Sherrie has written 33 books, 31 of which are available on Amazon.com. She writes for the recovering community, also writes villain-free fiction for kids, regular fiction for adults, poetry, and she designs coloring books for all ages.
Now, here’s Sherrie, in her own words:
My name is Sherrie and I am a member of both fellowships.
Thank you, Chris, for inviting me to be your guest here on Recovery Along Route 66; I am grateful to be here. I thought I would share with you a few pieces of prose I’ve written; each addresses a sticking point in my struggle to have strong boundaries or healthy relationships. I have an odd sense of humor and I hope you will bear with me; I mean well.
Yes, a lie is just a lie, but the truth also has problems. I relay the facts and the words take on a life of their own, leave out the backdoor and walk on down the road. They move to another town and never find time to come back for a visit even though, I am their mother. And woe to the woman who grows attached to credit or recognition for her ideas. These kidnapped prodigies are never ransomed but sold outright and their DNA not questioned or tested.
So, my advice is to love your words in secret and raise your notions behind high walls. If you are ever called upon to share your wisdom, lie. For even if you’re caught the risk is tolerable. Exposure is awkward but then again no one is looking, so, what is there to lose. A lie is just a lie but it stays home with you at night.
GOOD AS GOLD
Just because I’m as good as gold doesn’t mean that I win the prize. Doesn’t mean I get my way. Doesn’t mean I gain your heart. Being ‘extra special sweetness and light girl’ doesn’t secure my future.
It does prevent me from living my life as someone I don’t like. It contents me to keep my own company. It is a huge improvement over living as the raging fury I once was. Any destination I desire is more readily assessable from this amiable posture; in spite of inexpert yearning.
I can breathe past you if must be, walk down the road holding my own hand instead of holding a lung full of air. But I am the treasure. You must earn me never capture me. Appreciate me not devalue me. I’m good as gold. And please know that I am the prize.
I isolate from you, I isolate from others, I isolate from friends, isolate from G-d, I practice connecting by connecting with my sponsor, practice connecting with my friends, practice connecting with G-d, finally I am able to connect with you, the first thing I do is isolate us from them, my sponsor, my friends, my G-d, they are all now on the outside of the bubble of us and I must start again, only now I must try to maintain the you and me connection while at the same time connect with the rest.
Are we still us if I am connected with them? Are we still us if we are in the midst of the crowd I think of, the crowd I call, them? Just because they see us as us, refer to us as us, are we still us if we don’t feel like us to me?
If I don’t know us in the landscape of hordes are we still we? Isolation is an attempt at preservation, how can we best be preserved without being pressed in a book or jarred or jammed? You say let us be, and I say that’s how I got us; are you sure that’s how I keep us? And you hug me tight.
Thank you for sharing this journey of recovery with me. I would love to hear your thoughts about this post, it’s my first time being a guest blogger.
Thank you so much, Sherrie, for sharing your writing with us. I know I could relate on several levels. “Holding my own hand…” The isolation piece was a kicker for me…
Please do share your thoughts! Sherrie loves comments, right Sherrie?
Is this not a beautiful picture? I couldn’t resist it when I saw it. If I could get my heart started every morning on a cup full of sparkles instead of caffeine, I’d be all over it. That is SO pretty to me.
It made me think about what I need to fill myself with every day. Like, how does what I read, watch on TV, and look at on the internet affect me? How does who I talk to on the phone or in person affect my mood? How does what I write about or not write about make me feel? If I don’t spend time in knitting do I feel that loss of my center?
What about meetings? Sometimes who I sit with at a meeting affects my ability to share more . . . not freely, necessarily, but – without stumbling over my words? I get very nervous, and if I don’t know at least half the people at the table pretty well I get very skittish, like a cat.
But wait–let me back up a second here. My super sponsor and I were talking about books and what we read, and she said that if she reads horror, like Stephen King and stuff like that, it affects her too much in a negative way. Now, I can read Stephen King-like stuff all the livelong day and it does not put me in a negative mood. But let me read some self-help book that tells me I’m doing something wrong – and I’m in a pissy mood the rest of the day.
So the only self-help I need in my life at this point is Al-Anon related material. That’s what I can fill my cup with.
I used to be able to watch the different Law and Order spin-offs all the time. Now I can only watch the main one and Criminal Intent (okay, okay, because I have a thing for Vincent D’Onofrio, happy now? ) He’s married. So I have to admire from afar. I still watch The Waltons on The Hallmark Channel, and I once watched a whole 24-hour marathon of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. If you remember that, I’m your friend for life. Too much violence isn’t a good thing to fill my cup up with. Humor is great.
My mom thinks I’m too open on here, and on FB. Psh. It’s my blog. And —okay, I’ll be more careful on FB. I don’t exactly have to say where I’m going, or where I am. I still think she worries too much. I guess that’s what Moms do. It’s one of the many ways they offer their love up.
And I’m babbling. What positive ways do you have to fill your cup on a daily basis?
Um . . . chocolate truffles that is. Reading to me is second nature, like breathing. I carry a book with me everywhere. Really.
You never know where you might get stuck waiting for a train, or waiting in a long line at the grocery store, and that’s where a Kindle never fails to come in handy, or a small paperback, even if I’ve read it before. Because if it’s honestly great, I can get so lost again, just like that.
I’ll never understand writers who say they don’t have time for reading. I think to myself, ‘Don’t have time for it?’ How can you not have time for reading? I consider good reading, even bad reading, essential to good writing.
When I sit down to a book I’ve carefully chosen and picked out, even better one that I’ve waited to be released . . . like the one I just finished, Elizabeth Haynes’s Into The Darkest Corner: A Novel, it’s amazing. It’s been . . . erm, a while, since I had sex so can’t quite compare it to that. But It’s like opening a box of chocolate truffles. The best kind, knowing they’re all going to be good. No messy surprise flavors you’re going to bite into that you haven’t been prepared for. Only great surprises, bursting into your heart and into your mind, exploding onto your taste buds like a rain shower. Good Lord, it’s the best thing. If you haven’t run out and bought this book, what in the world are you waiting for? Mums the word, I’m not saying a thing. My lips are tightly sealed. There are enough reviews on Amazon if that’s what you are looking for.
But please, gentle readers. If you don’t read novels, if you don’t read fiction for fiction’s sake, for the very lifeblood of your beating heart, please take up my challenge and start today. Start now! There are so many good novels out there. If you need some recommendations just ask me in the comments and I’ll give you several. I don’t just read thrillers, I read all varieties, from Christian inspirational to creative nonfiction. I’m voracious and I can almost never get enough.
What do you like to read? What turns you on? What is your “chocolate truffle?” Tell me about it in the comments! Let’s get a “friendly” debate going about the best books out there. Don’t be shy.
Right, I was going to post more pics of Tweetybird. Well, I got sidetracked by preparing to write my novel, Where is Faith?, for Camp NaNoWriMo, starting tomorrow. I promise I’ll post pics tomorrow. Pinky promise.
Today I want to talk about a book I’m currently reading and about how a certain passage resonated within me. It’s a YA novel called Clean by Amy Reed, about a group of teens in a rehab together. They are asked to write essays about themselves, what got them in their situations and so forth.
One of the teens, Eva, writes so beautifully, she breaks my heart. Here is an excerpt: Do you remember? Do you remember being solid? Do you remember life before the hole? Before you were empty and needed to be filled? There was a time when everything was enough. There was a time you didn’t try to get out of your own skin. Remember.
I cried when I read that, because I do remember that time. It was when I was three years old riding my tricycle and when I was five years and my mom gave me a huge birthday party with all my friends over. I can see everything, smell the grass outside, see the trees in our neighborhood, all my friends smiling, I can remember playing red light green light, red rover (memories get mixed up, so I may have been older here).
Then there was the hole. Really it was a void. That’s why I picked that picture. It was a void so huge nothing could fill it. I tried to fill it with food, with fixing people, with trying so hard to be perfect, with trying to please other people, with anticipating every need. . . I even tried to fill it with screwing up in college when the other stuff didn’t work. I tried to fill it up with self harm and suicide attempts and dark, dark thoughts that would never go away.
Then two wonderful things happened. First, I became a born-again believer. That was a very good day. March 5, 1997. I don’t push my beliefs on anyone, but I’m not ashamed of them either. Then, I keep thinking it was longer, but it was only around September of last year, I found Al-Anon.
Now, I have that W- in front of the Hole again. I know and feel what it means to be whole. Not all the time, because sometimes I forget and slip back, but most of the time. And it feels . . . FANTASTIC.
Met with my boss at the Book Nook. We went over some procedures, that I hadn’t known and apparently a few others hadn’t known either. She gave me a bag of yarn. I was so touched. It reminded me of my love for knitting, and made me want to go ahead and begin my Einstein Coat project. People can be so wonderful. I’m amazingly touched.
I’m exhausted; tired down to my bones; dog tired. I have not been sleeping well the last couple of nights. I know why, and it’s because I haven’t been praying enough, and haven’t been “letting go and letting God” when I am afraid. I shouldn’t even be afraid, if I’m working my program right.
Well no, I take that back. Feelings are feelings. They come and go, like thoughts. There’s not much we can do about them.
In other news, I finished reading “Eat, Pray, Love” finally. I loved this book. It’s not a book I would have picked up on my own, you know? I mean I didn’t even see the movie. But Paula Balzer, in her book Writing & Selling Your Memoir suggests several different memoirs to read if you’re writing your own. I’ve read this one now, and Drinking: A Love Story, which I also loved, for different reasons.
They are about different subjects, for one thing. “Eat, Pray, Love” is about a woman who, after her divorce goes on a pilgrimage to discover what she wants for herself and spends a year divided equally between Italy, India, and Indonesia. She eats her way through Italy, prays her way through India, and loves her way through Indonesia. It’s a funny, serious, charming, and informative book.
Liz Gilbert also has a totally different voice than Caroline Knapp, of “Drinking: A Love Story,” which I had finished just before I started Liz’s book, so that took a lot of getting used to. Caroline’s story is starkly honest, and is exactly what the title says. It’s about the love story between a woman and wine and other alcoholic beverages, but her first love is a crisp, white wine.
Caroline takes us on her journey with candor and also wit, but pulls no punches, and we are led all the way through to her struggles in rehab and through that to living life sober, to making friends soberly, shopping for groceries stone-cold sober, going to a party sober, etc. Highly recommend both.
Now I’m reading Lighting Up: How I Quit Smoking, Drinking, and Everything Else I Loved In Life Except Sex. It’s another memoir, not recommended by Paula Balzer, but I’m reading it because I read it once a long time ago, and with chronic fatigue syndrome I can read things a second time and it’s like reading it all over again for the first time.
Susan Shapiro is seeing a psychoanalyst to quit smoking. Her voice is wry and emotional, and the book is hard to put down.
I pray I sleep well tonight, and that you do too. What do you do when you don’t sleep well? How do you help yourself sleep?
If you have a sister or brother struggling with the disease of alcoholism, and need help, look no further. Sober Siblings, by Patricia Olsen and Petros Levounis, M.D., M.A., provides some of the best help out there on the subject. In fact, it is the only book I have encountered so far in my search on alcoholism that addresses the difficulty of the sibling relationship.
Through Patricia Olsen’s own personal experience, along with personal stories throughout the book of other siblings of alcoholics, as well as supplemented by the experience of Dr. Levounis, Sober Siblings offers practical tips and advice on several topics.
From the Introduction, “To love an alcoholic is to watch in despair as that person sinks to a level he would never willingly choose.” (p. 1) To me it’s like Patricia Olsen really gets it, and I sensed that more from her personal knowledge than anything else. I mean, no one wakes up and thinks, “Gee, I think I’d like to be an alcoholic when I grow up.” But some people still believe it’s within one’s control and willpower to choose. In this book, Olsen and Levounis make it clearer than ever that alcoholism is a disease that robs one of willpower, self-respect and many other things before it’s through.
But what’s also clear is it’s important to take care of ourselves if we are a sibling of an alcoholic. It’s important to know what is our responsibility and what is theirs; to decide what sort of relationship we would like to have; creating and maintaining appropriate boundaries (even to know what a proper boundary looks like); to honor our feelings; and find help and support for ourselves.
There are wonderful examples of how to communicate effectively with our alcoholic sibling. Real examples, with actual scripts to practice. I found this very useful.
Family interventions are no longer thought of as a useful tool, as they are too confrontational to the alcoholic. It’s considered more helpful to confront the alcoholic on a one-to-one basis, one family member at a time.
It’s not an easy read. There’s even a section which discusses cutting off all ties with the alcoholic if it’s too difficult to maintain a relationship. This is as a last resort sort of effort. The authors are not at all judgmental, and provide stories of people in the book who had to do just that. It’s all very individual, as all alcoholics are different and all sibling relationships are unique.
All-in-all, I highly recommend this book. Professional expertise interwoven with personal experience and stories from other siblings make for a very well done work.
My family physician – also board-certified in psychiatry – and I go back a ways. I checked with the receptionist, and their computer only goes back as far as 1995, but it was a return appointment, so we’re figuring at least 1994.
That’s a long time to know someone. It hasn’t been all smooth sailing, because I used to be a lot sicker than I am now. As I sit here, and I know I’m in for a wait, sometimes as long as three hours, I think of the progress that’s been made. Today, I come to Dr. Sack’s office with a bag of tricks to engage me. There’s a knitting project, two books I need to finish reading for possible review, and of course an old-fashioned notebook and pen to write this blog post for later transfer to computer when I get home. Plus my smart phone so I can stay in touch with FB friends and all of that. God forbid I should lose touch with the world for a minute.
When I first began coming here, through the wayback machine, I was much angrier and impatient. I was in the throes of borderline personality disorder”, which – if you click on the term it will take you to a great website that describes and explains the symptoms and characteristics.
I remember feeling rage and paranoia that other patients had been called back into rooms before I had. Numerous times I’d storm the poor receptionist’s desk. “Do you have any idea how long I’ve been waiting? My appointment was at such-and-so, and here it is two hours later! I demand to be seen!” Like it had never occurred to me the other patients waiting in the room had been waiting just as long if not longer. Bless their hearts, they took that vitriol, and gave back nothing but calm, clear, kindness.
Part of the problem, I realized much too late, was my panicky feelings at being jam-packed in a waiting room filled with sick people. I wasn’t physically ill, I was mentally ill, and didn’t want to add strep throat to the mix if I could help it. Also, I did not know then that I was dealing with claustrophobia, which has still not left me today.
There is a theory bandied about that people can “age out” of borderline personality disorder, and I think that is what has happened with me. Then too, with the advent of cell phones, when the waiting room is packed, the receptionist is kind enough to take down my cell number and call me when it’s time for me to come back into a patient room. And, like I said at the outset, I bring things to engage myself and to keep myself busy.
It’s nowhere near perfect, but I’m a work in progress.
I’ve been doing too much. Going to about four Al-Anon meetings a week, attending two lectures on alcoholism followed by sharing times afterwards, which amounts to two 3-hour evenings a week, reading all the literature on alcoholism I can get my hands on and then some. I had to take back all the books I had taken out from the library on the subject. My sponsor made me. I couldn’t exactly take back the 30+ I have downloaded to my Kindle.
I’ve been accepted to work on a collaboration with 13 other writers. Also, just been accepted to do a weekly book review for a blog. So I have to, I guess, RE-prioritize my life.
It’s not about the alcoholic in my life. It’s about me. Starting today, I’m paring down my reading to Al-Anon related literature (mainly the Big Book of Al-Anon and my meditation books, like One day at a time in Al-Anon), and the books I need to read for review.
Also, I’m writing a non-fiction book this year called “Undertow: Growing Up With An Alcoholic Sister.” I’ve only written the outline so far, but that took some serious work.
So, I’m only going to keep my favorite one or two Al-Anon meetings. Only going to the skills building and sharing meeting on Tuesday night. One or two open talks. LOTS of rest and sleep. Walks with Lucy so I can talk with God about all that’s going on (that’s whom I choose to call my Higher Power; if it helps you, fine).
The life unexamined is not worth living. Didn’t someone famous say that?