Author Archives: kberman

Recovery Means Turning Toward People

5642629979_aeba31d43b_bA few months ago, God put the perfect person in my life. If you were to meet us, you would quickly think that we have nothing in common but are instead exact opposites. But the main thing we share is our complete belief that life goes better when you trust God. Reaching out toward others and accepting their help and support makes our life much easier.

1.  From Through an Al-Anon Filter:

Amends

I have reached a point in my recovery, where I rarely become angry. When I do, I am able to count to ten, remain silent, or speak without heat.Since this last operation, I find myself more short-tempered with all the appointments, visits, chemo treatments, dressing changes for my PICC line (a catheter inserted in my upper right arm and left in for the entire duration of the chemo, six months) trips to get bloodwork, and waiting waiting waiting to be able to do all of the above.

On Tuesday I had to go see a chemo oncologist for my regular bi-weekly checkup, to make sure I was healthy enough for the next treatment. I was sent from pillar to post to try to get the dressing change, because I kept being told by ward and clinic clerks “Oh, we don’t do those here, go there, and they’ll do it for you.” I went back and forth several times before suggesting that one clinic clerk come with me to tell the other, that someone over there was supposed to do my dressing change. I then waited for another hour and a half, so by the time I was called, I was feeling quite annoyed. I’d forgotten to bring a book to read, so was reduced to either Economist magazine, or home decorating.

When I did get in to see the doctor, I was short with her, and said that I didn’t appreciate being kept waiting for an hour and a half. She gave me several reasons, and we talked about it a bit, but I was annoyed, and stayed annoyed throughout the 10-minute visit.

At home that night, I felt that I owed this doctor an amend. So, knowing that the chances of me being able to catch her long enough to make an amend face-to-face were slim to none, I wrote her a two page apology.

This morning she called me at home to thank me for my apology, and we talked for a bit. I’d explained what is going on for me, how I’m struggling with the limitations imposed upon me by the second surgery, and waver between acceptance and anger. She revealed that her daughter had undergone the exact surgery, and asked if she could refer me to another specialty doctor who might be able to help. I agreed, apologised again, and we parted on good terms.

I felt the enormous relief that comes to me after I’ve made an amend that I know I need to make, and I also found my eyes welling up with tears. Had I not been willing to make the amend, we would most likely not have ever spoken about the limitations, we’d just have discussed the cancer. God puts these people into our path, and it’s our choice to either turn away, or turn towards them.

2.  From Oh for the love of …me:
Therapy

So I made an appointment with a therapist yesterday.

Close your mouth – it’s not THAT big a deal.

Okay…maybe it is.  It’s no secret the way I feel about therapists.  I have three and two of those were a disaster.  The third could have probably turned into something but that was during my quit/relapse phase and I wasn’t ready to hear what he had to say.  Add to that the therapist that my nephew had when he lived with us that not only robbed us of our money but then refused to assist when we were fighting for custody and…

Well, you get the picture.

But I can’t shake this depression! I’ll go for a few days and be okay (not good…just okay) and then I find myself back into it again.  It’s not the crying nonstop (yet) it’s the “I don’t give a fucks” which are far more dangerous.  I’m bored.  I have no initiative to DO anything and so I stay bored.

If it walks like a duck…then it’s probably a depressed duck.

So yesterday I pulled up the website for my psychiatrist’s practice so I could make an appointment with him and get his opinion when I saw that they just added a new therapist.  Hmmm….  I kept reading.  Turns out he specializes in addiction, cross addictions and adult children of alcoholics.

Whoa.  Rewind.  I read it again.  Then I called and made an appointment.

THEN on the bus on the way home, I read my Twitter feed (which I only read when I ride the bus which I haven’t done in weeks…just sayin) and there was a post from a website that I frequent called Band Back Together - here’s a blurb from their website

Welcome to Band Back Together, a community weblog open to all, created by Aunt Becky from Mommy Wants Vodka.

Who are we? We’re The Band.

We’re a band of survivors. We’re here to put a face to everything once kept in the dark. We’re here to show the world that you can go through hell and come out the other side.

So, pull up that old tattered leather chair and make yourself a drink. Pull your skeletons from their closet and make them dance the tango. Alone, we are small. Together, we are mighty.

We are all connected.

We are none of us alone.

Share your story.

It’s time to get the Band Back Together.

I can’t read it all the time because frankly, it’s just too depressing.  But it gives a voice to people who don’t feel they have one – they do good work people.

ANYWAY, the tweet in question was one on adult children of parents with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  The level of anxiety reading that damn thing created made me cry…on the bus…with other people…not the snotty ugly cry but still.  I sniffled all the way home.   Hmm…

So let’s recap – 1. new therapist that specializes in the effects of my father; 2. specific post about the effects of my mother = latest brick upside the head from God.

So I’ll go and see what this guy has to offer.  I have to do something.  I’m not myself and while I’m not opposed to changing my meds, I want to see what a little talk therapy will do before I go that route.  I feel like I’m in a rowboat with no oars and so I’m drifting into a storm.  My oars – smoking, alcohol, food – have been cast aside and I don’t know how to replace them.

BECAUSE I have no idea how to be “normal”.  I have no idea how the non-addicted people of the world process their feelings, thoughts, events, etc.  I never learned and I’m tired of relying on other people, substances or meds to do that for me.

Time to get to work.  Time to chart my own course.

Namaste

Photo credit.

Sex. Sober sex.

Sex. Sober Sex. And Everything Afterwards by afteralcohol:

The first boy who kissed me did so in daylight. We stood under a weeping willow in a public garden when he bent his head to mine, and I remember every second of it. Even through my thrilled astonishment I was startled by the sheer size of his mouth, which didn’t seem as if it could possibly fit closely with mine except that it did. All the time I was kissing him I was thinking a million things about the experience, an exquisite blend of nerves and glee and sheer arousal. I was sixteen, sweet sixteen and the light shone dappled through the willow leaves.

I remember the first time I made love, as well. I was dating a beautiful loser, the sort of boy put on the earth entirely to provide teenage girls with their first summer romance, and we experimented together as teenagers do, whenever and wherever the opportunity arose.

I was sober both times. Alcohol had entered my life, but it was a party drug, not a pre-requisite for living. We were far too broke back then for alcohol to be anything but occasional; most days we chose nicotine over food, let alone contemplating a luxury like wine.

I’m not sure when sex and alcohol became inextricably linked, but I don’t think I’m alone in that association. Even without getting into the murky issues around teenage sex, consent and exploitation, there is a very strong societal link between alcohol and intimacy. Expensive wine on a date, the licentious names given to cocktails, the word cocktail, alcohol marketing – the message is very clear that if you want to get laid, you need to open a bottle.

And it’s not surprising. Drinking with somebody is an excellent way to create a false sense of intimacy, as well as lowering inhibitions and enhancing our desire for others – the famed ‘beer goggles’ are true, it appears. If you’re not sure if somebody fancies you enough to take their clothes off in front of you, getting them drunk is an effective way of stacking the cards in your favour.

But if you always drink before having sex, then you come to rely on it. Just as we become convinced that alcohol gives us courage or sparkle or confidence in social situations, we come to think of it as necessary for creating intimacy.

When we strip away the alcohol, we have to re-learn the skill without it. Most of us have blogged about finding ourselves perfectly able to hold our own at a party drinking only Perrier, or our discovery that herbal tea and a scented bath are better at relaxing us than a Chardonnay ever was.

But I absolutely refuse to believe that I’m the only one who ever felt a moment of anxiety at the prospect of sober sex.

Sex is an act of trust, every time. We strip away our defences with our clothes, and stand before our partners with our flaws on show. Good sex, in fact, demands that we don’t self-censor; nobody can properly enjoy sex if they’re worrying that their moans sound odd or their tummy fat bulges in certain positions. You can have sex with your clothes on, but you still have to be naked underneath.

Alcohol is custom-designed to help with all of this. If you’ve ever been the loud tactless person closing down the bar, you already know all too well how alcohol overrides social inhibition. If you’ve ever snogged someone you’d ordinarily shun, you know the ease of attraction that it lends. Drunkenness is an abrogation of self, and sex demands that self gets out of the way.

So. Sober sex. What a daunting prospect, right? Suddenly there’s nothing shutting down the millions of thoughts going through your head, no blurry edges obscuring your self-view. Your limbs are suddenly all present instead of melting into your partner, and oh, goodness, you can’t seriously be expected to … say … or do … those things, surely? Not sober!

Enough generalities. You want to know how it is for me. And here is where I wish I could tell you that it’s a million times better, because finally we’re conjoining our true, authentic selves without barrier or artifice. And to some extent, that’s true. Often, that’s true.

But there are differences, and – you know, I’m figuring out why nobody blogs about this now, because, well, yeesh – sometimes those differences don’t leave everyone as happy as before. And this does come back to consent, in a way. What I have found is that there are some things that I am no longer comfortable with. Things that I used to drink in order to feel comfortable with. This isn’t a matter of consent in an awful, sordid way, whereby one partner is pressuring and the other is numbing themselves to get through an ordeal. Nothing like that. But sometimes, in an intimate relationship, there are things that you know might make your partner very happy, but which are a little tiny bit over your comfort line. But you love and trust your partner, so what you do is you blur that line a little bit, so that you can meet them where they are, enthusiastically and willingly. And that’s great where there’s no power issues or abuse going on. I think everyone pushes their comfort levels a little bit where intimate relationships are involved, sometimes; agreeing despite being tired, making the effort to enjoy something new, maybe pulling on some frilly knickers that aren’t that comfortable. But because this stuff is so intimate and so integral to bodily autonomy, it’s not so easy to just talk yourself into it – for it to work, you have to feel it too. And wine, for me, answered that tension.

I can tell myself all I want that it’s about boundaries and self-respect and authenticity, but at the end of the day, sober sex is not the same. It’s better, and it’s worse, and it’s definitely more frequent. But it’s not the same.