Eight little-known signs of alcoholic behavior

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During the quarantine, many people have turned to substance abuse to feel more comfortable in their own skin. The truth is alcoholism and drug addiction are diseases of apathy. The addict does not want to care. But they care too much and it must be quelled. Here are some little-known signs of alcoholism that also apply to drug addicts that maybe useful during this difficult time of involuntary isolation.

Of course, we all know the easy way to spot an alcoholic: red face, preoccupation with alcohol, unable to stop drinking once started, etc. etc. But today I am going to share with you some insight on the characteristics of an alcoholic you may not know. Keep in mind, that what applies to spotting an alcoholic also applies to spotting a relapse because drinking alcohol is only a symptom of a greater problem inside the heads and hearts of people inflicted with the disease.

The Eight Signs

1. Anger and resentment- This is nothing new to someone who is in AA. The whole book is written around this subject. Alcoholics have a pattern of being angry and resentful. Often, on social media, one can see someone with hostile posts. This is a time to grow a bit suspicious. Alcoholics are triggered by what they deem to be unfair acts against them especially when it comes to close relationships. The disease makes it very difficult for the alcoholic to not take someone’s actions personal. However, in recovery, people learn that even the most atrocious acts of unkindness are not personal and people are taught to believe what other people say about them is none of their business.

2. Comorbidity- Almost all alcoholics have secondary afflictions of the spirit, mind, and body that manifest prior to the age we begin drinking. Many suffer from anxiety and depression. These symptoms pre-date substance abuse. have. In recovery, alcoholics are bonded by identifying in each other the same twisted personality traits. It seems like everything each alcoholic feels is always to the extreme. Alcoholics are incredibly sensitive. In alcohol. they look for relief in caring so much about anything and everything.

3. Big Plans but No Follow Through- The brain of an alcoholic is very different than that of a person who is not inflicted with the disease. The pleasure centers of their brains are not naturally full and it takes action every day to get into a pleasurable space. Alcohol replaces action in a way that thoughts of big ideas, sometimes brilliant ideas, are never completed due the fact that the intake of alcohol gives the alcoholic the same reward response as if they had actually followed through on goal or a task.

For example, if an alcoholic wakes up and decided that the lawn must be mowed, if they pick up, it is highly likely they will never mow the lawn or get anything done because alcohol creates a feeling of an accomplishment in the reward center of a person’s mind, leaving many tasks unfinished. This is why in recovery action is far more important than thought. Someone in relapse will begin slowly not to accomplish anything that is important for daily functioning and in the grander scheme of life.

4. A Track Record- This is very hard for alcoholics to see. They feel things are happening to them independent of their drinking. They believe that they are just unlucky. It is very difficult for an alcoholic to link their drinking as a consequence of what they choose. An alcoholic does not have to be drunk to make bad decisions. Once again, drinking is only a symptom that masks what drives a person to be reckless, irresponsible and sometimes very foolish. And the next thing they notice is that multiple situations are transpiring at once: but they cannot figure out why.

For instance, they get in fights with significant others, their bills are not paid or they lack money, their health deteriorates and most importantly, they stop doing things that they usually love, all at the same time. When someone is in their disease it is almost impossible for them to be accountable because their disease wants more alcohol. This is incredibly hard for a normal person to understand but it true.

5. Unhealthy Boundaries- It is hard to know if the inability to have healthy boundaries starts in the family of origin, which are likely full of other alcoholics or if it is just the nature of the disease. But alcoholics do not have healthy boundaries. They are often promiscuous, codependent and often expect others to do for them what they should be doing for themselves. They are abusive and they let themselves be abused. They do not know where they begin as a person and others start. This is very hard to master even in sobriety because of the extreme feelings and thinking that tend to create scenarios both in their heads and in their lives that cross lines of respectability and human decency.

6. Great Senses of Humor- Recovering alcoholics know how to laugh at themselves. They are usually very funny with off-color remarks and ideas. The way they view the world is quite different than a normal person and they are not afraid to embrace that side of themselves because they are usually rewarded by other people for it.

7. Moderation in Moderation- Alcoholics are all or nothing thinkers. Balance is just not a part of their vocabulary. If they eat, they eat a lot. If they exercise, they exercise to the extreme. And if they love someone, their love comes at the price of suffocating or isolating the person who is involved with them.

Furthermore, because the alcohol is filling their pleasure and reward systems, they don’t see much reason to change. They have a history of doing everything in our life to excess. Once again, they have a blind spot. They are unable to match their thinking with their behavior. They do not see the link unless they are practicing being mindful. It is doubtful that becoming moderate ever becomes easy for someone even they have years of sobriety. Each day moderation must be managed. That is why it is helpful to go to meetings, have a sponsor and be able to tell on ourselves to a therapist or other care professional. Otherwise, they slowly or quickly unravel into some sort of extreme.

8. A Need to be Special- Alcoholics almost always feel that they do not fit in. Because of this, they have a desire to be more “special” than their peers. They truly believe they are superior because of it. But at the same time, being special creates a distance which in turn breeds loneliness. One of the greatest things an alcoholic can learn is to find the similarities they share with my others if they ever want to enjoy a fulfilling relationship.

This list is not extensive. But it can tip a person off to know if someone has a problem with an alcohol problem. I usually can spot someone right away. However, it is seldom useful to tell a person that they are alcoholic. An alcoholic usually can figure this out on some level and either desperately tries to hide it or is willing to seek help.

The best way to endure and deal with this quarantine is to be creative and productive. That may take a little more effort for a recovered alcoholic, but it probably the best outlet they can find besides exercise and eating healthy.

Beware of Air: A New Version of Ourselves

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I prefer to wash my hands to the beautiful lyrics of ACDC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.” But you can do whatever you want. It seems like every day is Groundhog Day and the end is nowhere in sight. It is funny, though, because no one seems to know what day it is anymore and it has only been two weeks of isolation. Every single one of my neighbors took out their trash a day ahead in complete social conformity believing that it was Trash Day when it was not. Confusion runs amok and we are all reacting the best we can.

This major shift has cast upon us a new world that will never be the same again. The way we live, shop, eat, work, and interact will morph us into a new society. This pandemic is a catalyst for change and for unifying our species as one. And at the same time, death seems one breath away.

Still, never in our lives have we been faced with the idea that we are all just one person. For this pandemic does not recognize race, ethnicity, sexual identification, nationality or preference of self. This is the first time that humanity must work together as a whole community without borders to save our own lives and the lives of others. And we are in fear of not having toilet paper!

The magnitude of this event is completely shocking: displayed readily by the highs and lows of people interacting the only way they know how, through memes and social media. Our lives have been condensed to living with few distractions and entirely facing our own selves in our own skin. Unless you have borrowed someone else’s skin and that would go against our newly integrated law of social distancing. (Kids do not try this at home.)

Faced with this new norm are choices. I have already made a few. First, I reveled with humor faced with my possible demise. And I hope that trend continues to last. Then, I sunk into depression: a familiar darkness I have felt many times before. But I knew what to do.

In the throes of despair, I asked myself questions that truly will shape who I will become in the aftermath of this utmost urgent time. Who do I want to be when this is over? Oh, I could be hospitalized, quivering in a room with no locks waiting for my next dose of Valium. That is entirely possible. I could be on the floor, altered and discombobulated, in front of my son who is already terrified. Or, I could be the best version of myself.

And I choose the latter. When this is all over, whatever that means, I want to be fit, healthy, accomplished in ways that are aligned with my soul. I want to be loving, kind, and strong. For the lack of distractions beckon me to focus on myself for once in my life while I live in the bubble of my home for endless days unknown.

Listen to the media if you want. That is a definite rush and will keep you away from yourself. Fight on social media about how “right” you are about some opinion. But I do not speak in opinions, I speak only of experience. And experience has taught me to be more silent and listen. Conflict is a short-term rush much like a drug that makes a person feel high. I see why it is happening. Fear shoots cortisol throughout your body which immerses your body in fight or flight until it is processed through your kidneys and livers. Get high if that is your thing. But, know there is no escaping yourself. The only way out is in.

Fear is a great motivator. But so is love. And I will not be reduced to social conforms and sheep-like tactics. It is a time to beat to your own drum unless you drop dead but at least you know you did with glory. So I challenge you to be the best version of yourself and to recognize the state of affairs lies completely in our own, hopefully, clean and washed hands. No one can save us but ourselves. This is a time of unity and an opportunity to actually live as one: an opportunity we all said we strived for but have yet to achieve.

Take what I say as you please. I know there are haters and lovers and extremely numb people who may read my rant. But, consider this an opportunity to come together, for once, and focus on our similarities while we live in isolation so we can save lives on a global scale. Forget America First. We lost that the day the virus began.

 

1992: When I knew EVERYTHING

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1992 I believe speech…

I believe we choose where we are in life.

I believe nothing should be lemon-scented.

I believe ATM’s are the root of all evil.

I believe anyone looks attractive after 8 beers.

I believe Elvis is dead.

I believe in memories.

I believe everyone should fulfill as many sexual fantasies as possible.

I believe Cindy Crawford should be shot and killed.

I believe Hitler was the devil.

I believe in remote controls.

I believe leaf blowers only work on Sundays before 10:00am.

I believe we are as beautiful as we feel.

I believe raisins taste exactly how they look.

I believe Bill Clinton did inhale.

I believe there is a sixth sense.

I believe in destiny.

I believe in taking a pillow to the beach.

I believe Michael Jackson can do whatever he wants with his face.

I believe blame is irrelevant.

I believe people walk through life never knowing their surroundings.

I believe marriage is not hopeless in the 90’s, just harder.

I believe in wine without dinner.

I believe what comes around goes around.

I believe everyone deserves the time of day.

I believe fleas are immortal.

I believe in tipping well.

I believe in life after death.

I believe people who have too many secrets go through life misunderstood.

I believe menstruation is a cruel joke form God.

I believe in order over freedom but never over equality.

2016 where I am now

I believe fate and character are one in the same.

I believe I am lucky to be able to afford lemon- scented anything.

I believe ATM’s are the last of our problems.

I believe anyone looks attractive after they bought my meal, made me laugh and bought me eight beers.

I believe Elvis dead but he did not die from a jelly do-nut overdose like my mother said ended his life.

I believe I have a photographic, autistic memory that irritates all boyfriends, marriages and all friend.

I no longer blush at the idea of sexual fanasies.

I think we should leave Cindy alone, plus her husband is a babe.

I believe  Hitler was the devil and an antecedent how social groups react under fear and pressures given any knowledge of Global Studies.

I totally did not foresee the expansion and technology of remote controls.

I believe we are as beautiful as we ACT.

I REALLY DON’T CARE ABOUT BILL or his WIFE.

I KNOW there is a sixth sense.

I believe destiny is an illusion.

Pillow are necessary everywhere.

Michael Jackson. Too soon?

I believe blame is irrelevant unless you are married. Then it is solid truth.

I believe people walk through accept the reality that they are given, regardless of the truth.

I believe marriage is always harder regardless of the time in history.

I believe in dinner. But wine is good if you don’t have it every day.

I know what comes around goes around and I try to be of service at all times.

I believe fleas are immortal in arid climates.

I believe the morning doesn’t always save us.

I know there is a higher power.

I know nothing lasts forever except love.

I believe there are casual moments which are really wasted time as we could just get to know each other.

I STILL BELIEVE IN TIPPING WELL IN ALL CASH!

I know there is an afterlife. I have experienced it in many occasions that are undeniable.

I believe in order over freedom but never over equality.

I believe that hysterectomies can be the root of all happiness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Jason

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You ask me if there were any happy times in my life and I struggle to answer. The truth is I have had many intermittent happy times throughout my whole life. Happiness is not a rite of passage onto this earth. It ebbs and it flows. It is not “the end all be all” for me.

Happiness comes to me through my relationships; memories that flash through my head like snapshots of which I am able to feel over and over no matter how much time has passed.

You know what I loved? I loved playing cops and robbers at Russ’s house with you and Shelley and Justin. I loved decorating you up like a Christmas tree when we lived in Santa Barbara. I loved hearing “I just called to say I love you,” by Stevie Wonder as Dad walked into the living room, I walked down the stairs and you walked in the door. We all sang in harmony and not a time passes that when I hear that song do I not I relive that joyful time.

I know you say you and I are are always overcoming things instead of getting ahead. If that is so, so be it. I do not question life anymore. I just try my best to live life on life’s terms. I never say “why me” because between the pain I have received handfuls of miracles.

I feel very blessed that we are so close. That we do not even have to speak to know what the other is thinking. We are a team and I love you more than anything on this earth. You make me happy. Paige makes me happy. Bailey makes me happy. Jenny makes me happy and so  on and so on.

We are not defined by critical moments although I choose to share about them now. We are defined by the love we experience. I remember one time I asked you how to keep love in my life. “You accept the love you are given and you give it back.” You replied without a hitch. I was twenty one at the time and I realized at that moment I was not able to accept love. A year later I met my first husband. You helped me evolve so I could be a person that accepts love. YOU DID THAT.

There is so much freedom in humility and one of the biggest rewards is happiness. I have the humility today to share my darkest secrets because I am strong and I am humble. Hiding who I am is never going to be my style no matter how many feathers I ruffle. I will go on being honest, choosing integrity and participating with love and by doing this happiness is always manifested.

You are my memory. That makes me happy. Don’t worry if I felt pain. Pain is part of the picture for growth to develop. Does it make me stronger? I am strong anyway. But love and happiness makes life feel amazing. And I treasure those moments.

And with that said…we are in this together all the way through and that makes me happy because I could not ask for anyone more unique and beautiful as you.

 

Success

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The morning of my meeting with the administration staff and my father, I was extremely nervous: crawling out of my skin nervous. I was in big trouble and it had been chasing me for three years at that point.

Sometimes I wonder how I thought I could ever get away with all the self sabotaging I was doing to myself with drinking,doing drugs, smoking pot, smoking cigarettes, ditching school and failing almost every class.

At the time “the future” and “consequences” simply were non existent to me. And oddly enough, not many people knew how much trouble I had really created for myself. I was told I seemed happy and always positive. I didn’t mean to hide my shame. I just cared more about what people thought about me than I cared about myself. And this was a problem I carried into adulthood. But I digress.

So…we are in Mrs. Merriman’s office: all of us. I felt three very concerned, incredulous pairs of eyes staring at me. The room was small and the walls were caving in. But some how I mustered the strength to argue my case against getting kicked out of school against all odds.

My GPA was non existent: maybe a low low F, nothing better than that. I had 89 credits to make up to graduate: whereas most seniors had less than 45 credits to pass. This was going to be a tough sale. And so it goes…

I presented my poster board (these were pre-PowerPoint days) and I started by explaining in meticulous detail of how I would make up the classes and raise my GPA in order to graduate.

First I would take ROP which stands for Regional Occupational Program. I could earn 15 credits after school by being in this class. Much to my surprise this class was very helpful to my life because it gave me an upper-hand on how to present myself at job interviews, what to wear, how to fill out the application and shake someone’s hand: all strategies I still use to this day.

In addition, I agreed to take a class  at 530am once a week and agreed to work 30 hours a week for 15 credits. I struggled with this class because I was reckless and I kept quitting jobs. Throughout the year I worked 13 different jobs to earn those credits.

As for ditching school, Mrs. Merriman suggested that I spend 2nd period with her helping out at the office. I truly enjoyed this idea and finally became well known to the most of the staff in a positive way.

Next I would go to adult school and make up several classes. This was actually incredibly easy because it was independent learning and did not require a lot of my time.

Lastly, I would take the 45 credits like the rest of seniors were required to do. And in four years I attended TOHS I finally got to know my peers. In the prior years I hung out with people much older than me and I deceived myself that I could care less about people my own age. Actually, the truth was people my own age made me extremely nervous. I felt inferior and I did not know how to have real social relationships so I always tended to be hang-out with people that were older because that sense of competition was not present.

 

At the end of year, I was sitting in Mr. Coffman’s class surrounded by all the football guys goofing off when we were all handed a performance report. I opened my eyes and I tried not to cry. I was graduating but I ranked 520 out of 540 in my class. That mean 20 other students did worse than me. Furthermore my GPA was an .006 (if that existed!) And in all my glory of successfully fulfilling my goals I still felt like a bottom feeder. In fact, I never told anyone until years later.

Regardless, I was given my cap and gown. I walked across the podium hearing my name being announced and threw my cap in the air with all my peers of the class of 1990! From that point further, I knew if I took action I could probably overcome any issue that came way. And for me that was the safety I needed to go out and live on my own in the great big world.

Big Trouble

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One frightful day, I returned from ditching two classes, totally high.  I was called into the vice-principal’s office. Mr. Eckland and I had met on many occasions but this time was different.

“Where were you for second and third period?” He asked staring straight into my eyes. “I was cleaning my kitchen.” I said and that was absolutely true.

My dad was suffering from some sort of clinical depression and our house was covered with stains, dry hot dog on the counter, vegetables dying in the fridge, and other expired food strewn all around the kitchen. The floor was filthy and even after two hours I still had not  cleaned it enough.

Well, this didn’t go over well and I am pretty sure they administration became concerned about my home life. My dad was called in and Mrs. Merriman,the attendance officer,  along with Mr.Eckland began to take a hard look at my academic profile.

A meeting was set with my father and me to meet with the two of them. Mrs. Merriman reviewed the facts with my dad that I was not going to graduate next year do to all the D’s and F’s I had in my classes since freshman year.I am sure my father was alarmed because a friend of mine was making fake report cards for me stating that I was receiving all A’s and that my attendance was excellent.

But the jig was up. Mrs. Merriman said I needed to leave Thousand Oaks High School and begin attending Conejo Valley Continuation High School. Now don’t get me wrong. I had plenty of friends at that school but I was honestly scared to attend. I imagined people forcing me to take PCP and classrooms out of control. The school had a reputation for troublemakers and I definitely had earned my spot there, however, I truly thought I was better than that school. It was unimaginable to me to that I would be kicked out of school at all!!!

First, I started brainstorming. I would take the GED. School would no longer be in the way of my social life if I chose that route. But several friends talked me out of taking the test and I was in utter panic.

Mrs. Merriman had put me on a probationary period and I still ditched class so she set up another meeting  where I knew it was over.

The class I had ditched in the first place to clean my kitchen was a child learning class taught by Mrs. Williams. I did not like the teacher and she had no reason to like me. But Mrs. Williams noticed the day before the big meeting that I looked exceptionally distraught and she approached me.

I began to cry and told her the dreaded news. She listened and she said nothing judgmental. I thought this was a waste of my time until she said, “I have a plan.”

And her plan was the hardest undertaking of my life thus far.I was two grades behind in credits and I had only attended school 25 percent of the time.  But she had far more experience than me and  she began to teach me how to negotiate and persuade with concrete ideas and not tears.

I began to be hopeful. The plan was developed around a presentation on poster board showing what classes I would attend, before school and after school to make up the credits.Yet I wondered how I could ever actually accomplish this painstaking plan she and I set forward in order to graduate on time.  I would see the next day if the plan would work or not. My presence at Thousand Oaks High School was wearing thin. Could I convince the administrators and my dad that I found a way to graduate?

We will see…