Warning signs and detours

Written on the morning of Friday, January 9th:

This is embarrassing.

As I write this there is a mild throbbing in my head.

Stomach, queasy.

Just woke up, feel like going right back to sleep.

To my immediate right there is a trash can with barf in it.

And some empty food wrappers strewn about the floor.

And four empty beer cans.

I am certain that I sent a woman a picture of my penis last night.

Actually, ya know what?

No. I am not embarrassed.

Humbled, yes.

I have been boldly declaring the possibility of total recovery, after all. And I have lived in accordance to that declaration to what I figured was the best of my ability. And thinking quite highly of myself all the while.

So yes, humbled.

But not embarrassed. And not discouraged.

Written in the afternoon of Friday, January 9th:

What happened last night, some may refer to as a relapse.

Not me. I refer to it as overpriced heartburn.

Nausea wrapped up tight and express delivered from last night to today.

On this blog, I have been writing a series called Liberated Living.

It is about how people who have a history of excessive, uncontrollable drinking, drugging, overeating can heal and live without fear of slipping and falling back into destructive patterns.

So, oops.

Liberated Living shall resume as soon as I know with certainty that I am still, well, living liberated.

Though this “intermission of my recovery” seemed to have snuck up on me like Solid Snake on Shadow Moses, it was definitely preceded by warning signs.

So self-assured I was, I did not heed those signs until it was perfectly clear that a crash was imminent.

Looking back and identifying the signs is useful because next time around the mulberry bush they will be blaring in their obviousness.

Here are my warning signs:

1. Loss of receptivity

Being receptive to others was one of the cornerstones of getting my life in order last September.

Receptive to the psychiatrist’s recommendations for meds, for instance.

But it goes beyond that. Also, receptive towards family, friends, clients, co-workers, random strangers, whoever else.

Not just receptive to what they say about me. Just receptive in general!

Receptive, without prowling about to force in my two cents. To truly listen to others, to appreciate differences.

Another sign of receptivity is how I react to people when they interrupt whatever I am up to. In a receptive state, I am curious about others even when I am busy. I find that, within reason, being open to people and caring about their thoughts and feelings even when I am engrossed in my own projects is valuable on many levels. It creates and nurtures mutually satisfying connections and a sense of intimacy. It shows loved ones that they are indeed loved and very important. Furthermore, enjoying these connections with others has the added benefit of producing inspiration and synergy that complement my creative projects (and hopefully theirs!).

During periods of non-receptivity I tend to withdraw into a world where my personal priorities trump the rest. People probably feel ignored by me when I am like that, and they should. Because they are!

When I am being receptive I get on Facebook and genuinely pay attention to what people are saying. I watch the videos they post, read their articles. In the comments I ask questions more than make statements. Basically, I care.

First time I noticed a decline in my receptivity was a couple of months ago during an appointment with my therapist.

He proposed a theory about my past that I was uncomfortable with. I told him I thought he was barking up the wrong tree, but he persisted.

In a receptive state I probably would have considered what he was saying, at least let it absorb before making up my mind. But instead, I shut down nice and tight.

It should be made clear that there is a big difference between being receptive and agreeing with everything people say. Maybe my therapist was completely off track, but truth is, I wouldn’t know.

Because I was not listening.

I left feeling angry, and canceled my next two appointments due to the discomfort I was convinced would ensue.

While canceling those appointments did lead me to question the strength of my stability, it seemed a non-issue since all else was going so well.

However, looking back on this now provides considerable clarity.

Honestly, it is encouraging that this warning sign first appeared two months ago. Why? Well, because if I had fully been mindful of what was happening and known how to respond to the warning signal of diminishing receptivity, I could have nipped this reversion in the bud several weeks before it became a tangible issue.

Moral of the story: give a bleep about what other people say and do. Agreeing is not the most important thing. Processing and respecting is.

2. Making and breaking plans

AKA “flaking out.”

Making plans with friends with the very best of intentions. Canceling at last minute because I am tired.

Why am I tired? Must be the meds…

(if the meds were people, they would be absolutely sick and tired of all the blame I have placed on them)

3. Compromising values

In September I was known to say I was 99% vegan.

In October, down to 95%.

November, 93%.

December, 90%.

January, wait, what, I am a vegan?

4. Torpor

Another word for laziness. But torpor is a shorter word than laziness, let’s use that.

5. Complacency (not utilizing my tools)

This is an extension of torpor.

True story: I have every tool I need to manage any challenge I have ever faced.

I know how to observe thoughts objectively without engaging. How to process emotions I that do not serve my highest order of good. How to instantly relax tension from any area of my body. How to harmonize my nervous system and move energy through my body. I know how to turn irrational thoughts into rational ones.

I have had amazing teachers and learned incredible, life-altering lessons.

Does it sound like I am bragging?

I’m not.

Saying, it is kind of sad that I know all that and take it for granted.

It’s like having a full plate but not eating. Even with all those starving children in the world.

This happens because once a high level of momentum is built, life starts to feel like it is carrying me instead of me carrying it, lugging the world around in my shoulders.

Then, the tools stop seeming so necessary. There is no hole to climb out of anymore.

But when complacency kicks in, the hole is happy to come back for an encore.

6. Craving

And here, of course, is the culmination of it all.

After several months of craving-free life, suddenly (as if out of nowhere) eating a little too much sounded like a good idea.

Then, a little more. Little more.

Can always do better tomorrow, right? So it is no biggie if I eat a little too much today

(a major justification– and another big, fat warning sign)

After a few days of slight overeating, then the urge for beer popped up from the ether.

Oh, beer, how I have not missed thee.

And by then it had reached the point of no return.

Well, I am sure I could have gotten out of the trap somehow.

But I didn’t. So, moot.

Thus, I drank. Pigged out a bit. For old time’s sake?

I woke up with a hangover and a pissed off, stretched out belly.

And immediately resolved to course correct and flip this experience around.

A positive object lesson in realtime recovery.

I knew right away, I would tell the truth about what happened. No secrets. Not from family and friends, and not from you.

When I start lying, I may as well stop trying.

And this blog does not work at all without honesty. It would be rendered completely useless.

Then again, I wondered:

Is writing about my slip up going to be a discouragement to others?

I have already written enough about dying down in the grime of destruction. To continue doing so would be simply masturbatory at this point.

So, I knew and I still know:

If this slip up becomes more than a slip up, my work here is done.

Nothing more to say.

I have no further business writing about recovery if I am not living it. Otherwise, I am a real realtime rearend.

But you know what?

I think I’ve got this.

Can back pedal. Tweak a few things that went wrong. Apply the tools. Work this out.

My only promise to you is that I will not make empty promises.

And no man can say who shall emerge victorious.

But if I were a betting man, I’d bet on me

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