BeYOUtiful

1_BeYOUtifulMos (revised 4:28:17)(Gimp wht) DbH copy 

BeYOUtiful

by Dee Harris

You Don't Have to Be

   It’s taken me literally a lifetime, my lifetime up to this point, to finally be comfortable in my own skin.  Today I can gratefully and humbly be OK in my own skin and to love myself for who and what I am – the real me – the me who was born innocently and without human and worldly interactions 63 years ago.

   Of course when I entered the real world I was immediately introduced to people who would form my life.  Most enhanced my life and made it evolve and flourish; I was allowed and encouraged to mature and blossom.  But something happens when entering the real world where not all people are so caring and nurturing.  Some are downright mean and hateful.  These people, too, would shape my life.

   In school when the other kids would make fun of us, that hurts.  When we feel stupid in class because we don’t know the answers, we feel shamed.  When we don’t meet our parents’ expectations, we feel unworthy.  When we can’t live up to our partner’s hopes in our relationship, we start to experience self-doubt.  When our boss reprimands us for not pulling our weight, we feel panic.  

   All of these feelings create that overwhelming knot in our guts that we’re unable to abandon.  These feelings and experiences, too, start to sculpt who we are today and our opinions of ourselves.  And, all too often, these feelings of unworthiness start to outweigh who we really are – that innocent and unscathed child at birth who is, and always will be, an important part of who we are.

   For me, when I felt the effects of alcohol that horrific knot in my gut of being the square peg trying to fit into the round hole started to diminish.  I felt I fit in.  I didn’t care anymore what you thought of me.  I got to be the real me.  But that real me came from my head and not my heart.  And it was just concealing what was in my head, not truly what I thought about myself.

   Fast forward a few decades.  I find that I am using alcohol more and more to escape reality.  And then I find that I no longer have a choice in using alcohol; I have to drink everyday.  As a matter of fact, alcohol is consuming my life and life is getting in the way of my being able to drink the way I want to, or need to, which is constantly and to the point of no return…blacking out or passing out…and then doing it again and again.  I find that the chapters in my life contain more and more stories of incomprehensible demoralization and that I no longer have control over my drinking but that drinking has control over me.

   Where am I going with this?  My story, my journey, my life has brought me full-circle back to that child who can be herself.  Yes, I’m an adult now and I have responsibilities.  I have learned manners and have learned how to behave in public.  But I can now unlearn what I so took to heart from my experiences and relationships from my decades in this society.

   You see, when I finally hit my bottom with my drinking, I got help.  I was so sick and tired of living that life; I was exhausted of not only the lying and hiding, but never getting good sleep, good food or exercise.  I came to in a 28-day treatment facility for alcoholism.  I learned about the disease.  I did what was suggested and attended AA meetings.  I learned to ask for help and to be rigorously honest.  I got a sponsor.  I worked the Steps.  And there, my friends, is where the miracles happen!

   Working Step 4 (“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”) is where I learned how fear-based I had been living my life up to that point.  And, yes, it stemmed from my life experiences.  I no longer have to, let those experiences shape who I am today.

   It’s so freeing to be able to peel away the onion skin, one layer at a time, one day at a time, and learn that I am worthy because before getting sober I would look at my reflection in the mirror with my hand shaped like an “L” placed on my forehead and I would call myself a loser.  I hated myself.  I loathed myself.  I was a waste of space on the planet.

   But today I realize that I have gifts and that YOU have gifts.  We all have defects of character, things about ourselves that we don’t like, that don’t serve us, that we can or maybe not.  But those defects don’t have to determine who we are or what we think about ourselves.  Let’s change them or make the best of them. OK?  And let’s remember our unique gifts, those wonderful attributes that others wished they had…and let’s share those gifts.

   And when we can turn our negatives into positives, our pessimism into optimism, our helplessness into hope, then we can be our real selves and know but more importantly feel that we are worthy to be on this planet and part of humanity.  When we can get out of ego and live from our hearts we will know from intuition (that feeling in our guts) that tells us what’s right and what’s wrong.  When we respect those feelings and take the path that serves us, we can then share what we’ve learned with others to do our best to make their journeys more palatable.  Yes.  We can inspire!  That’s where are journeys are leading us…

   Please remember “You don’t have to be what other people want you to be.”  Be YOU.  BeYOUtiful!

   I’m so glad our paths have joined today.  I look forward to hearing about your journey or any feedback you would like to share.  With much aloha, Dee Harris

For those interested in checking out what I do when I’m not blogging, please check out my Art with a Message of Hope and Optimism at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and enjoy!

Advertisements

I Am Not Afraid of My Truth Anymore

 1_InsprPplMOS (DbH) copy

I AM NOT AFRAID OF MY TRUTH ANYMORE 

by Dee Harris 

Not Afraid of My Truth Anymore

     “My name is Dee and I’m an alcoholic.”  Holy moly.  One of the scariest things I ever had to say or do was admit that I am an alcoholic.  Especially in my first local AA meeting.  Dang.  There were going to people in there who knew me.  They’ll know what a loser I am and how weak I am.

   As a matter of fact at one of my first meetings I saw a friend go by on his bike in front of the club house and kid me about going to an AA meeting.  I quickly responded that I was going to the laundromat next door.  I felt so shitty I uncomfortably, but victoriously, told on myself in the meeting and later made my amends to my friend.

   And in that first local AA meeting there were, indeed, people I knew.  How could there not be?  I had lived in that town 18 years and was a grocery checker.  Unless they didn’t eat, we had met.  

   But something magical happened in that instant I entered the club house.  I got a feeling of “home”.  Damn, I’m home.  I’m comfortable.  I was greeted in this moment of overwhelming fear with open arms, hugs, understanding, and NO JUDGMENT.  No long-ended series of questions and words.  Simple.  Thank goodness, or I would have been out that door in a heartbeat.

   Backtrack a month.  I am going in for an assessment to see if “I qualify” to enter a 28-day treatment facility for alcoholism (an hour away from where I live so no one would no me.  NOT!).    I don’t know what they’re going to ask me.  I don’t yet know about rigorous honesty.  But they do.  They know an alcoholic is going to lie about their drinking habits and how much they drink.  I did.  I “passed” and spent over 28-days in rehab.

   And that first night when I lay in my bed I think that I don’t need to be here; I’m ok now.  I realize that alcohol is my problem and now I can go home and control, or even stop, my drinking.  But deep down inside I knew that wouldn’t happen as I had tried which seemed like forever, so I stayed.  

   Even when I called to make that appointment for the assessment and I was told that after that initial meeting I would be sent home and called back later to see whether or not “I qualified”, one of my first experiences with rigorous honesty appeared.  I said that if I was sent home, I would not return because my mind would think I am now ok because I admitted I had a problem.  I was told to bring my suitcase with me.

   The day before the assessment I want to yell from the roof tops that I am an alcoholic.  I’m going to get help and I won’t have to drink everyday anymore.  But I selectively let one of my neighbors know.  And my aunt and brother (I would have told my mom but she was on vacation in Hawaii).  I, of course, let my boss know.  And my husband and my two boys.  Something magical happened that day; the weight that I shed by admitting I had a problem was magical!

   And then on the morning of the assessment as I was getting ready to make the hour drive, I hear a knock on the door.  I know it is not my husband who had gone off to work.  I know it is not my kids who had gone off to school.  It was my auntie, grandma and brother who had driven two hours to take me, support me, love me to my appointment.  I break down crying, secretly.  I was full of guilt and shame for what I had allowed myself to become.  I was full of gratitude for the love that was apparent by their being there for me.  I was not worthy.  Why the hell would they drive all that way for the piece of shit that I had become?

   My husband and my boys don’t accompany me to the assessment.  Everything with them is blurry because most of my time with them is blurry.  I was a black-out, pass-out, closet drinker.  Only they knew the real me.  And that me was ugly.  And that ugly me is all I can remember of my life with them up to that point.  One who had to drink everyday to that place of pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization.  Many of them.  Many, many.

   Backtrack to the day before the assessment.  It was my day off but the day prior I had hit my bottom.  I had not come to when my kids came home from school to get ready for work like I did forever.  I had passed out and missed my shift at work.  The red light was flashing on the answering machine.  The message was from the night manager who was concerned whether or not I was ok; it wasn’t like me to be a no call/no show.  And that night manager was one of my best friends (and still is) but I couldn’t call her back.  I just couldn’t.

   So I fish like I had done so many times before.  Fish for answers from my husband and my boys as to whether I had called back and, if so, what I had said.  I don’t remember getting a response from them.

   So on that day before the assessment I knew I had to talk to my boss to let her know what had happened.  What kind of excuse can I make up?  But I was so sick and tired of making up excuses, living a life that was a lie.  A life that was full of hiding.  I was exhausted.  So I told her the truth, on the phone, because I didn’t have the guts to look her in the eye.

   She listened.  She offered empathy, kind words and support.  She got me into a recovery program that changed my life, saved my life, gave me a life, and I shall forever be grateful.

   So one day at a time I get better.  I go through the 28-day program for alcoholism.  I am the poster child for AA and do everything that is suggested to me there.  But something inside of me is missing and I can’t put my finger on it.

   So after about seven years I one day at a time get worse.  I go to fewer meetings, do less service and stop reaching out.  And then one day when offered a drink on automatic pilot I  reply that I haven’t had a drink for 13-1/2 years so no thank you.  That drink was left there for me in case I changed my mind.  

   At that point in sobriety my mind was once again king.  It was running the show.  My ego had once again taken over.  I had forgotten how awesome it was to live from my heart with my Higher Power in charge.  I had forgotten what it was like to be humble and grateful.  I had forgotten what it was to be a newcomer.  And I had forgotten that unless I give it away, I can’t keep it.

   So I drank that shot of tequila.  And IMMEDIATELY, and I mean IMMEDIATELY, the disease, the devil, whatever you want to call it, reared its ugly head in victory and yelled, “MORE!”  So my friend gave me another.  And the lying, cheating, hiding and all the negativity that alcoholism smothered me with once again took priority in my life.  That quickly.  Positivity and optimism turned to negativity and hell.

   Today I realize that shot of tequila and that friend who left it for me was a God Shot, a message from a Power Greater Than Myself that I have a purpose to share my experience, strength and hope with others suffering from the disease of thinking, whether it be alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling, overeating, sex, shopping, abandonment issues, abuse, or life itself.

   Today I am not afraid of my truth anymore.  I am comfortable in my own skin.  I can be who I was meant to be and love myself, with all my character defects.  I no longer live in fear that you won’t accept me, judge me, talk about me.  You’re on your journey and I am on mine.  When our paths cross (like they are right now) I can give you the respect you deserve for your opinions even though they might not be mine.  That’s the beauty of life and the humanity placed on this planet.  I shall learn from your opinions and experiences and become a more compassionate person.  And I shall share my compassion with those who enter my bubble.

   Thank you for crossing my path.  I look forward to hearing about your journeys.  With warmest aloha, Dee Harris

   For those interested in experiencing another avenue of my sharing my experience, strength and hope, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and enjoy!

Detachment

1_WsdmCourgMOS (Gimp wht) DbH copy

Detachment

by Dee Harris

Detachment PDF

   In AA I’ve learned that I have no control over people, places and things.  Keeping that in mind and, more importantly, in my heart, has taken a huge weight and self-chosen unnecessary burden off my shoulders.  Before getting sober I thought I was some intellectual guru who could get anything I wanted, if I put my mind to it.

   When I discovered that no matter how hard I tried, how smart I was, how many college degrees I had, I could not go a day without drinking, I realized I had to try a new approach.  Well, not really.  I didn’t choose to black-out that day and miss work.  But that’s how my life in recovery started.

   Working the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous has changed how I look at life and how I look at and feel about myself.  Taking that step back and looking at things objectively sure put a different perspective on my way of thinking and my attitude.  When I look at the part I played in the resentments I carried on my shoulders, the lightbulb slowly started to shine its light.

   The Serenity Prayer helped me tremendously in early sobriety and still does today  Simple and beautifully stated to get me back in the moment and out of my ego:

God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.

Courage to change the things I can.

And wisdom to know the difference.

   Remember, I have no control over people, places and things; therefore, I can’t change them, nor is it any of my business.  I’ve got to remember that just like I am on my own journey through life, so is everyone else.  Sometime in my life, even though I was told not to touch the hot iron, I got burned by it.  Only then did I take more care in preventing such pain.  So I won’t deprive you of your awesome journey and learning experiences.

   And I shall no longer let what you think or say about me lead me to react.  I won’t be hurt nor resentful.  I won’t lash back nor storm away.  You’re entitled to your opinions and actions.  Again, not my business because I have no idea what your journey has put you through to treat me in such a way.

   And today I have a Higher Power over to whom I can turn my will and life.  My God of My Own Understanding has my back, introduces me to who He sees fit, provides experiences He feels will serve my purpose of sharing my experience, strength and hope.  I only have to answer to my Higher Power who doesn’t expect perfection from me, but just to do my best.

   So I no longer have to react because I now know that everything happens for a reason, just perfectly.  I just have to ask for guidance to learn that reason, to share it, to provide hope and optimism.  So step back into the present moment, see the whole picture, and savor how you will grow.

   So when I was sober for over 13 years I wasn’t experiencing harmful cravings.  But I had stopped going to meetings, helping fellow alcoholics, being of service, and so on.  But more importantly, one day at a time, my old thinking came back and I stopped living from my heart.  I found myself being more judgmental and, although, I thought I was in close communion with my Higher Power, my brain was telling me that and there was no one around to call me on my bullsh*t.

   So when offered a drink, although I stated I hadn’t had a drink in over 13 years, my friend said she would leave it for me just in case I changed my mind.  I could surely cop a resentment about this but I look at this perfect moment as a God Shot and with endless gratitude.  

   You see, that drink yelled at me and I had no defense.  I feel that AA meetings pay my sobriety insurance policy.  Being active in the fellowship also allows me to be in service to the newcomer (I was once a newcomer and am a newcomer once again).  I had forgotten what it was like to be a newcomer…the shame, the guilt, the cravings, the rationalizations.  And, unless I give it away, I can’t keep it, so I forgot how valuable my sobriety was…and lost it.

   Immediately that first shot of tequila yelled at me, “More!”  So my friend brought me another and the lying, cheating and hiding once again filled my life that had been so positive, optimistic and hopeful for so many years.  I am so thankful for this relapse for getting me back right-sized, humble and grateful.  I shall never again stop paying my insurance premiums.

   So today I get to use all my energy in a productive and positive way.  I seldom get feelings of anger, anxiety or depression and when these arise I know to check whether or not I’m in H.A.L.T. (hungry-angry-lonely-tired) and I know that if I turn it over to my Higher Power, these feelings, too, shall pass; they always do.  I get to experience peace and patience, and contentment and self-love and -acceptance that I never experienced before, knew I was lacking, nor cared to find.

   My Higher Power and the AA fellowship has taught me how dangerous life can be for me if I get back into my selfish, destructive, ego.  By going to a meeting or by being of some other type of service, I get to experience the feelings of happy, joyous and free.  I remind myself to be mindful, respectful, loving and compassionate so that I can make eye contact with you when we meet and I shall learn what God intended me to learn today.  It is not all about me today; it’s about how can I be of service to YOU!

   I am not a saint.  I am not perfect.  I am a human being who still makes bad choices.  But today when I realize the yucky feeling that bad choice has put in my gut, I learn to steer clear of making that bad choice again.  And I learn to apologize when my actions or words have been inappropriate or hurtful; I’m just trying to keep my side of the street clean and get through life with a clear conscience.

   So today I do the best I can, stay close to the AA fellowship, be of service, stay mindful and in the moment.  Doing this allows me to be humble and grateful for a Power Greater Than Myself who is in control and this God of My Own Understanding has given me the most wonderful life in sobriety that I could have never dreamed of!

   If you find yourself struggling, please reach out to me, someone you can trust, or a wealth of support groups available to you.  Know you are not alone.  Know there is no need to feel guilt or shame; it doesn’t serve you.  Know that everything in your life has and is happening for a reason…just perfectly…to make you the best you that you can be!

   With warmest aloha, Dee Harris

For those interested in inspirational quotes to keep you centered throughout your day, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and enjoy!

…Until I Got Sober

1_RockBottomMOS (Gimp wht) DbH copy

…Until I Got Sober

by Dee Harris

don't stress it

   I never knew what peace was until I got sober.  My life was busy, sometimes overwhelming; but isn’t everybody’s?  I found myself drinking everyday just to take the edge off; but doesn’t everybody?  I’m no different than anyone else.  I didn’t know I didn’t have peace.  I wasn’t looking for it.

   I never knew what contentment was until I got sober.  I never prayed for it like I did for peace or happiness or wealth or to stop drinking.  But it came…when I got sober.  And it’s awesome.

   Happiness.  Hmmm…  I thought I was happy.  I had everything I needed pretty much.  My health, marriage, two kids, a job, two cars, house, dog.  I just didn’t know how void, how empty, how dark, my life was until I got sober.

   And I was in charge.  I had a college degree.  I’m smart enough to get whatever I want in life.  I didn’t need a God.  I felt churchgoers used God as a crutch.  I didn’t need a crutch.  I was too smart.

   Ew.  Who is this egotistical person?  That person was me.  And today I realize that no matter how smart I thought I was, I couldn’t outsmart the disease of alcoholism.  And no matter how I didn’t need a god in my life, it was a Power Greater Than Myself that got me sober and gave me a purpose for living.

   So it is what it is.  It was what it was.  It’ll be what it’ll be.  Don’t stress it, right?  Right.  Because of my intended journey through life, which includes the disease of alcoholism (by the way, it could have included drugs, gambling, overeating, sex, shopping, sexual abuse, abandonment, the list goes on and on…), I am in a place right now that is perfect for me.  I know that now.  I didn’t know that then.

   So on my journey I found myself unable to go a day without drinking.  Drinking was my life and that’s pretty much all I could think about.  I was a functioning alcoholic.  I was a closet drinker.  Most who came into my bubble were unaware of my disease.  They may have had suspicions, but didn’t realize how sick I really was.

   On my journey alcohol was my god, my best friend.  Life itself got in the way of my drinking and I started to get really sloppy and more out of control.  Numerous doctorates nor genius IQs could get me out of this one.  When one day I didn’t show up for work, the incomprehensible demoralization that we hear about in AA struck me down.

   I listened to the answering machine with a message asking if I was okay and this wasn’t like me.  I was also a blackout drinker so I didn’t know if I had responded to this message from work.  My husband and my boys were used to and fed up with the drunk I had become so it was difficult to fish for answers as to whether I had called work, what I had said, etc.  Humiliating.  I knew I had to do something; I needed that job.  I couldn’t just show up to work for my next shift as if nothing had happened.  My omnipotent college brain searched all possible answers and my teensy-weensy shoved-on-the-back-burner insignificant good and loving heart came to this conclusion, “Be honest and ask for help.  You’ve hit rock bottom, Dee.  You can’t go on like this anymore.  You’re sick and tired of being sick and tired.  Just f*cking do it!”

   So today I don’t stress it.  I don’t stress having to drink everyday.  I don’t stress about hiding and lying.  I don’t stress about trying to be someone I’m not.  I am just me, but not “just” me but a me I am proud to be and comfortable in my own skin and accepting and grateful for my story.  That wouldn’t be had I not asked for help that one lonely, lifeless, dark, demoralizing day I missed work.

   Today I understand more clearly the disease that is alcoholism.  Today I am not alone with this disease and have a fellowship of like-minded, non-judgmental and loving individuals in AA, and today I have a Higher Power that is key in my life of “Don’t Stress It.”  And the icing on the cake…the gifts I receive when I share my experience, strength and hope with you.  So, please, let me know how I can help to get you “Don’t Stress It.”  I love any and all feedback.

   With much aloha, Dee Harris

For those interested in what I do when I’m not writing, please check out my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com.  Mahalo and enjoy!