Recognizing My Need For Recognition 

So for the second night in a row I’ve stayed after work, on my own time, working on some new enhancements to a Job Aide(aptly named Job Buddy) I’ve created for myself and is used widely in my department. I wasn’t asked to do it. I’m not paid to do it. No one is required to use it. Basically I just decided to take it upon myself to attempt to increase my job productivity by creating a reference tool to connect me quickly to the different resources so that I can provide a complete and accurate experience for the customers I help. It also serves to help me monitor the metrics which measure my success in my position.     I find myself getting frustrated because I believe that this tool has increased the productivity in my department but I’m not getting recognition for it.

Let’s break this down:

I’m upset because I’m not getting praise for creating a job tool that no one asked me to create.

This is insane. This is a character defect. As I process this I am realizing that this is connected to my self-esteem. I need to feel needed and that I am contributing. I want to be noticed. I’m glad that I realized this last night, because it was bringing me to a bad place. I am so grateful that my head is clear. This is the kind of thing that contributed to me making poor decisions such as getting drunk alone in my car and then driving.

So today when I go into work I will continue to work on my project for myself. It’s there to fulfill me and not others. If others see the benefit and I receive praise for my efforts that will be a bonus, but the real award will be the pride that I have in creating something that is helpful.

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Getting Back on Track

I’m having a difficult time getting back on track with my weight loss. Focusing on recovery has allowed me to slip back into some old habits. I’m trying not to be too hard on myself, but I definitely need to start to be a little more focused so today’s blog will be a list of objectives and due dates. All are welcome to help hold me accountable!

  • Drink at least 64 ounces of water daily.(12/6/16)
  • At least 30 minutes of cardio 3-4 times a week. (Mon, Wed, Fri, Sun)
  • Circuit/Weight training 2-3 times a week. (Tues, Thurs, Sat)
  • Smoking quit date: 12/15/16(last cigarette 12/14/16 before bedtime)
  • Resume tracking of food/calories with Lose It! App (12/6/16)
  • Back to Herbalife diet.(12/7/16)
  • Research other fitness activities besides Gym(12/6/16)
  • Organize bedroom and maintain daily. (12/8/16)
  • Go through mail pile (12/7/16)
  • Begin purge of basement(12/11/16)
  • Detail Clean car(12/11/16)
  • Schedule weekly Step work time wth Joe.(12/6/16)
  • Research community service options. (12/6/16)

Seems like a good list to start working on. Wish me luck!

Letting Go/Letting In

I had a conversation with a friend yesterday that gave me some things to think about. It’s about letting go. Letting go of the past and mistakes made. Letting go of people from my past who have no place in my present and future. I struggle with this big time. The worst part of this is I know exactly why I do this and it is one of the most problematic personality flaws I have.

I have written before about how I tend to blame myself for the actions and feelings of others. This is yet another coping mechanism I established years ago to battle lonliness. When I create an emotional bond with someone it is difficult for me to dissolve it. The deeper the bond the more difficult it is to break. The problem with this is sometimes these emotional bonds are very one sided. I have given my heart and trust to people who either didn’t feel the same way or themselves didn’t have the emotional fortitude to reciprocate. I am not saying that I shouldn’t have deep emotional bonds with friends and family, but I have to learn that every relationship needs to be reciprocal in all aspects. That can be a difficult task if the other party isn’t emotionally honest enough to also realize that about themselves.

In recovery I am learning about boundaries and specifically how important they are in every relationship. I am learning that I need to recognize them and also have them. I have to respect the ones people require and demand respect for the ones I require. My newfound quest for honesty is a key component in this endeavor.  Having an authentic relationship with myself is a good place to begin. Breaking down delusion and self-deprecation have been so difficult after years and years of using this to cope with nearly every physical and emotional challenge i’ve encountered. I’m encouraged by the fact that I am at least now cognizant of these character defects and am working towards finding healthy alternatives to cope with the difficulties of life.

Although I do not fully agree with all of the points my friend made yesterday with regards to completely cutting people out from your past who’ve hurt you, I agree that there is some work that I need to do on myself before deciding whether or not to let someone back in going forward.

Sixty Days

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DELUSION

I feel so strange about this. I think about where I was two months ago as opposed to where I am today and it feels like I crossed over into another reality. Most of my fears and anxiety, especially now that my DUI case is resolved have subsided, but I am still working very hard on at least one of my old fears. Delusion.

Delusion is a very common coping mechanism for an addict. Reading my old journals have provided me with an interesting insight into my history with it. I couldn’t quite articulate it when I was a teenager but I was constantly aware of my ability to do it. Some might say that it is a healthy fear to have and that checking yourself is an important part of recovery, but my fear lies in the fact that I worry that I am actually not doing as well as I think I am. I am constantly waiting for “the other shoe” to drop.I guess this is normal. I hope it is anyway.

I am looking into the future and wondering what that will hold for me. There are things I want to do and places I want to visit. The want is there, but the how is not. I am becoming a more organized person but there is still much work to be done there. I want to go back to school. I want to become a nurse, but the how is not so clear.

How:

  • Will I afford it?
  • Will I be able to work and go to school?
  • Will I be able to handle the stress of school and work?
  • Will I handle it if I am not smart enough to pass?
  • Will I deal with it if I find it is not what I want to do?

I don’t know the answers to any of these questions, but I am not afraid to try to find out. I know that I have the support of my friends and family and that certainly makes it easier. I just need to find the motivation to see it through.

MALICE?

          A story was related to me earlier this week that someone was gossiping and mischaracterized a blog post I wrote and implied that I had broken someone’s anonymity by writing about my experience. It made me very upset. My guilt set in almost immediately. I went back to the post and read and re-read it and it became clear to me that I, in fact, had not done so. The person who was allegedly affected agreed with me that their anonymity had not been revealed and we both moved on from it. In truth, I haven’t really thought about it at all which is huge for me because this is the type of thing that Brenda has, in the past, made me react in a destructive way.  Today for some reason I am compelled to write about this experience and how it relates to my sobriety.

        I’d like to think that the parties involved intentions were pure and that they were legitimately concerned about their friend’s anonymity. I wished those people had reached out to me and voiced their concern. It would have been easy to do. I thought about reaching out to them directly. No solution I could think of seemed appropriate. I realized that this issue, was not mine. That I had nothing to apologize for and that no harm had been done. I realized that for these people to have read my blog and made assumptions about who I was talking about means that they didn’t actually read the post or what the point of the whole thing was. They didn’t care about me. So why read it at all? Entertainment?  It seems malicious to me and I am not OK with that. I then remembered something that I’ve seen online and heard in countless TV shows and movies:

“What other people think of you is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.”

         There is so much truth to this. So this scenario is no longer renting space in my already cluttered brain.

 

Fellowship

“But, there exists among us a fellowship, a friendliness, and an understanding which is indescribably wonderful.” – Bill W.
“We commenced to make many fast friends and a fellowship has grown up among us of which it is wonderful thing to feel a part. The joy of living we really have, even under pressure and difficulty. I have seen hundreds of families set their feet in the path that really goes somewhere; have seen the most impossible domestic situations righted, feuds and bitterness of all sorts wiped out. I have seen men come out of asylums and resume a vital place in the lives of heir families and communities. Business and professional men have regained their standing. There is scarcely any form of trouble and misery which has not been overcome among us. ” – Bill W.

Interlock Device Installation Experience

Today I am having the interlock device installed into my car and the experience has been less than satisfactory. I am experiencing something that I have yet to experience since my DWI..Judgement. The “gentleman” who owns the auto shop I am at has been nothing short of rude the entire time I’ve been here. The whole experience has been horrifying. He’s been short, curt, dismissive and belligerent. I had to provide a credit card for the “insurance” on the device and since I only have a debit card he told me I had to provide the PIN. Now, working in banking and also not being a complete idiot I know NEVER to provide your PIN to anyone, but this guy had me by the balls and was brow beating me into giving it to him. Thankfully the Bank of America App allows me to lock my card and I will be changing my PIN as soon as I leave. I contacted the company I am leasing the device from about this and asked if this was standard practice and they said yes which is mind boggling to me. Once I have the device uninstalled in March I am going to Yelp the shit out of this dude…

Battling Brenda Mywille

As you may or not know from either knowing me or reading this Blog I refer to my addiction as Brenda. Brenda, is a 6 foot drag queen with a MAJOR attitude problem and I’ve recently given her a last name, and in the spirit of dragdom have provided her with a Puntastic last name. She is now, officially, Brenda Mywille.

Yesterday, Brenda tried some new strategies to get her way and I am happy to say failed miserably. She tempted me with many, many different scenarios and was thrwarted not only by my willpower, but also, I believe, my higher power protecting me in the most awesome ways. She tempted me with food, sex, money and alcohol. She was unsuccessful on all but one of these counts: Food. It was a hollow victory for her, however,  because even though I did not eat as I should, and promised myself I would, I did not  indulge in the manner in which she is accustom and that which she craved.

There is an acronym that I’ve learned to recognize the warning signs of relapse. It is H.A.L.T. It stands for:

HUNGRY

ANGRY

LONELY

TIRED

I definitely experienced all of these. I was headed for a relapse yesterday, but I did not succumb and I am so grateful for that.

On Saturday nights I go to my “home group” AA meeting in Providence. The speaker That evening was great. I always enjoy when I can identify with what the speaker is talking about and I did with alot of what he was saying. I spoke at the meeting and shared some insights about my recovery I’ve been thinking about. After the meeting a gentleman with whom I’ve spoken with on several occasions paid me the best compliment. He said “Your spirit beams recovery. You are doing amazing.” That made me feel fantastic.

Brenda, however, was not having it. Her first attempt at breaking me down happened almost immediately. I started thinking “Am I coming across as pompous and arrogant about my recovery? Am I talking too much at meetings? Are people who have been sober for a long time rolling their eyes at me when I speak with confidence about the program and my sobriety?” She got her foot in the door. Then I was approached by an aquaintance  know from the bar scene. He was genuinely happy to see me and said lovely things to me and gave me words of encouragement, but I was very uncomfortable for some reason. I asked him questions about if it was difficult to work in nightclub being in recovery? His answers made alot of sense. Brenda saw this as an opening to try to convince me that I was ok, and that I could go to the Eagle to hang out and socialize with friends.

That evening, Greg and Anthony were hosting an event for Bear Providence(a group I founded with Greg when we were married) at the Eagle in Providence. I knew there would be a bunch of guys I hadn’t seen in a while there and I seriously considered going. I knew that Greg and Anthony would have my back and watch out for me and I had actually considered it earlier in the week. To further the thoughts of going another acquaintance who was chatting with my sponsor mentioned that he was considering going and told me to let him know if I was going to go.

Brenda had her hooks in me at this point. I pictured her enacting the nail painting emoji. At this point I started to panic a bit and said to myself “Look, you’ll be fine if you go, but its still early, go home, finish your sandwich from lunch, play some Rummy on your iPad and then at 10:30 send the guy who was considering going a message to see if he was going and make your decision then.” And that’s what I did.

When 10:30 rolled around I did as I said, and thankfully, he determined that he was not going. I was off the hook. I felt an immediate sense of relief. Brenda was furious. She then started working overtime to get her fix. I found myself trolling the hookup apps with the determination of a dehydrated man crossing the Sierra. I’d cast a line and come back empty. This happened over and over for an hour. I wasn’t even attracted to half of the guys I messaged. I was just looking for some companionship, some comfort.

Something inside me changed when I clicked on someone’s profile that I thought I’d never messaged before and to my surprise there was an existing chat log that I did not remember. It was from October 2, 2016: The day I decided to become sober.  A chill went down my spine. Brenda cried out in horror “Noooooooooooooooo!!!!” She knew that she had lost and that my Higher Power had won. I read the incoherent chat log and the response from the poor soul who had the misfortune of contacting me that day. I typed in the message:

“Hello. I just wanted to send you an apology for the last messages I sent to you. I was in an extremely dark place on that day and I humbly ask your forgiveness for my behavior on that day. I am not that person any longer.”

His reply:

“Wow. I have never seen anyone do something like this. It takes alot of strength to admit ones problems and ask for forgiveness. No worries, man. I’d forgotten about it until now. Good luck to you!”

A sense of peace came over me. This was an amends. I was filled with a sense of pride and accomplishment and for the first time since I was a child I kneeled down next to my bed, placed my hands together, bowed my head and thanked my Higher Power for the gift he provided me.

Thanksgiving Gratitudes

Happy Thanksgiving, All! I hope everyone who reads this has a safe, sane and sober holiday! I am going to take the easy way out today and do a gratitudes list instead of digging in deep into some situations that have come up within the last several days that are preoccupying my brain. The good news is that I have my support system in place that keeps me in check. While I am concerned that my “pink cloud” stage may be coming to an end and the real work is about to begin, I am confident that I’ve made the right connections and established the healthy habits(the blog specifically) to make it through the next stage of my recovery. So bring on the list!

Jim’s Thankgiving Day Gratitudes List

(No particular order)

  1. My Family – I have come to realize in the past year the importance of my family in my life. They have shown such love and support to me and I will forever be grateful. I used to feel so alone and like an outsider, but I realize now that those feelings were misguided. I am an important part of my family and I take that role very seriously.
  2. My Friends – My entire life I have searched to amass as many of these as possible. I have, in the past, not been very selective. This past year has shown me the difference between a friend and an acquaintance. People who I consider my friends these days more likely fit into the “family” category. You guys know who you are. Some of you have been there my entire life, some of you for a few decades and some of you for just a few years. All of you hold your own special place in my heart. Thank you.
  3. Alcoholics Anonymous – The program works. It has saved my life and given me back that which I never thought I had ever had or ever thought I could have…my sanity.
  4. Smitty and Spanky – My cats are such a wonderful source of strength for me. I know this may sound strange because they are pets, but my relationship with these wonderful creatures and the love and devotion they show to me has gotten me through most of the troubling times in my adult life. The eight months I spent without them was one of the worst times in my life and having them back truly began my journey to sanity. I am very lucky to have had Smitty for almost 17 years and Spanky for almost 14 years. I know that there will be a time in the not so distant future when they will both move on and I plan to cherish every moment I have with both of them while I can.
  5. My job – Although I am not completely fulfilled in my career, my job has afford me the time and resources to regain my life, health and sanity. While it may frustrate the hell out of me on a daily basis, when I am there, I work as hard as I can, because without that job I would not be where I am today.
  6. My sponsor – Joe has opened my mind to the world of possibilities I see before me. I respect him so much for reaching out to me and seeing my sick soul and offering a path to sobriety. He is an inspiration to me and I will work very hard to honor him by leading a sober, sane life.
  7. My Mom – Along with everything stated in #1, I have to include a separate gratitude to her. I’ve given my Mom alot of sleepless nights. I don’t know that I can possibly ever make up to her everything that should be, but I will continue to attempt to do so every day for the rest of our lives.
  8. Finally…Me. Yes I am grateful for me. I am grateful that I have allowed myself the patience to strive to get better. I am grateful that I have forgiven myself for the things I shouldn’t have blamed myself for in the past and the strength I have to move to forward.

That’s it. I wish you all the happiest of Holidays and a prosperous New Year!

Deconstructing Jimmy: Honesty

My good friend Kath warned me before I started digging into my old journals from the troubling times in my early teen years to make sure I was in the right mindset to do this and to have a plan to deal with any emotional responses I have from whatever I discover. This was fantastic advice and I am so happy she made me think about that before I did. So with a solid coping plan in place I dove in and what happened has been absolutely fascinating.

When I read my journal entries I am reminded of the emotions I had and the intention behind it. What’s also very interesting to me is the style I wrote in. From entry to entry I wrote in a different “person”. Some are told in the first person and in the present. Some are told in the third person like I was writing about someone else long ago but in reality it was what was happening to me at the time I was writing it. Just fascinating how my mind worked. I remember specifically that the way I wrote was implied that someone would read it, not in a personal(this is only for me)way.  To that effect some of it is intentionally not honest or accurate with respect to my feelings. It was the emergence of a deeply rooted coping mechanism. Some of my entries are passive-aggressively attempting to control the emotional response of the reader to a specific conclusion: sympathy.

This coping mechanism led years of emotional dishonesty to almost everyone I’ve ever known. I think that as a child and adolescent I felt so powerless over my world that the only way for me to deal with my feelings of lonliness, self-loathing and shame over my sexuality was to use my skills of perception and empathy to manipulate. As an actor, I am great story teller. I know how to embellish and take artistic license to make a better story. The best way for me to explain this would be an example of a trait of mine specific to story telling:

I can’t think of more than a few movies, TV shows or book plots that  I’ve read or seen in the last 25 years that has surprised me. I realize that Hollywood recycles plots and plot devices repeatedly and that this is not a particularly uncommon skill but I also know that my mind “plays the tape to the end” very quickly upon the start of a story. To this end, I know how it works. I know how they do it. It’s what makes me a good story teller and a completely effective liar.

It may sound like I am being very tough on myself. I am. This coping skill has allowed me to have control over uncomfortable situations I was not ready to process for a long time. Honesty, especially self-honesty, is one of the most important part of recovery, and this is one of my biggest challenges. Reigning in “Brenda” has helped with this. This has probably been one of the most scary and deeply intimate admissions I’ve made here, but it is important to me to work on changing my behavior with regards to this and start to be as honest and authentic as I can be.

The Journals of Young Jimmy Carroll #1:November 1989

As I mentioned in my post yesterday I came across all of my old journals that I had thought were lost in a move. Thankfully, for your entertainment, they were not.

I started journaling after my parents separation. Reading through what I have of it so far is intense but very therapeutic. I feel incredibly blessed that I have these journals to reflect back upon. It helps me make sense of the root of many of the issues I am working on right now.

I figured it would be good to share this. I made the first one very light and had many a good laugh about it. My apologies to my highschool “crushes” named in this video, especially Collette Demars who, is a lovely person.(Collette, I thought you’d get a kick out of this.)

So without further ado…here it is: