Addicted to Drama

I read somewhere that we get a dopamine burst even in times of worry and pain. I thought, “How can this be? I thought dopamine was just for pleasure?”

I found this Article in psychology today which helps explains it:

“….in the moment, anger feels good; it feels like the thing to do. It overrides all other moral and rational brakes in the brain because it originates from our primordial, original limbic system: the brain center of our most automatic emotions like fear and desire.”

And as far as the dopamine release:

“What happens is that anger can lead to similar “rushes” as thrill-seeking activities where danger triggers dopamine reward receptors in the brain, or like other forms of addiction such as gambling, extreme sports, or even drugs like cocaine and methamphetamines. Anger can become it’s own reward, but like other addictions, the final consequences are dangerous and real…….”

In life’s tragedies, sorrow, unbearable grief, and pain, it’s easy to let to
resentment and bitterness live in our hearts and breed discontentment. We let our space be filled with rumination of what has been done TO us–especially if that’s where we feel the most comfortable.

Even if we have good reason to be angry there comes a time when it’s causing more distress to hang on to it than let it go. Living with anger and ruminating on what others have done to us, drives wedges between those we love. Even those of whom the anger is not directed, will feel our discontent because we can never be truly free to be our authentic selves if we hold on tightly to anger.

It’s very difficult to break out of these patterns of thinking. Certain triggers activate our emotions and automatically seem to make us react or lash out in anger and spite. Surprisingly, we may be so used to reacting that it doesn’t even feel like we are lashing out. Some personality types will even be offended if you suggest they are lashing out or even overreacting. Whatever anyone else thinks, WE know when we are miserable and when our moods seem to be dependent on others’ actions. At some point, hopefully, we can have the desire to make a change and create emotional boundaries.

How to disengage from conflict: Learning healthy boundaries about not trying to manipulate situations, mindfulness, meditation, counseling. Also joining positive support groups, not those with toxic angry vibes which perpetuate our victimhood.

Many people believe that God alone has the power to turn weakness into windows through which his glory can shine through.

Whatever method you use to work through your emotions, as long as you feel yourself becoming less reactive, and more authentic; then we can celebrate progress.

After all, when we are feeling content and emotionally stable, we can lean into helping others do the same, thereby contributing to the healing of the world. 

Happy Independence Day🇺🇸

I’ve been camping this weekend away from the traditional fourth of July celebrations that I’m used to. It’s been a somewhat peaceful, but very hot get-away. We’ve went boating on the beautiful clear waters of Strawberry reservoir, picnicking on the sandy driftwood beach and four-wheeling to a beautiful mountain vista with wildflowers galore.

The Fourth of July always makes me miss my parents and especially my dad. when I see Smokey the bear in the parades it reminds me of my dad’s last days working for the forest service as a part of the forest service senior citizen program. How many parades I watched him march in as a part of the National Guard. He took his role seriously & loved his jobs. He was in the Korean war as a young man them went to both desert storm wars as the oldest member of the states National Guard. He believed in freedom by following the laws that helped us obtain that. He wanted to do the right thing, but sometimes he fell short like all of us.

Most of us have never fought in a war, but we all enjoy the benefits of freedom.

I’m extremely grateful for free agency & personal choice & those who made that possible for us all & all who continue to make it possible. Lately it seems a lot of those freedoms have been questioned and turned upside down. Our freedom to question those AND and turn them upside down is also a freedom. Respecting all choices seems to resonate most with me.

This weekend has been a much needed break from the last week of my emotional roller coaster. I think there was one day I didn’t break down & cry over my son’s release from jail and all his legal problems related directly to his addiction.

As I made my strawberry cream cheese French toast today (pic to follow when I get better service); I was thinking how many times in the past I’ve felt restricted & chained to something that limits my freedom -(pre-addiction). At the time, I thought they were such inconveniences, but I’ve never felt the powerlessness of being chained to loving an addict.

We are sometimes told to:

Walk away, detach with love, let go and let God.

These things seem like great phrases to repeat but not so easy to implement; and also may not be appropriate for all situations all the time.

We do have The Freedom to handle our unique cases any way we feel is necessary, and we also have the power to find our own peace with those decisions – despite what any one or any group tells us.

My freedom thoughts this week are to lovingly accept my son’s freedom to choose. To lovingly maintain a connection with him with boundaries, so I can feel at peace if it’s our last interaction. Also I am working hard on accepting my other family member’s freedom to choose their thoughts and actions (or non- action) toward him. It’s not my job to tell them “You’ll be sorry if something happens to him”. It’s not my job to thwart their pain or their coping mechanisms for this devastating attack on our family. My job is me.

As I’ve stated in previous posts, it’s so incredibly important to at least try to decompress when going through anything difficult AND even for “normal” life’s daily stressors, to help ‘prevent addiction from starting. It’s a balance in all things & keeping priorities always in check.

Hope you enjoy your holiday weekend reflecting on what’s important to you. Even if you don’t have those things presently, having them in your heart is enough.

Here are a few pictures from my small-town America Fourth of July in the past and my current trip to the mountain lakes of Utah. Enjoy🇺🇸🚀🇺🇸🚀🇺🇸🚀🇺🇸🚀🇺🇸🚀🇺🇸🚀

Alcohol is NOT Exempt

I know I usually write about addiction in the form of opiods, but I actually have some intense interest in the fallacy (?- is that the right word?) of alcohol dependance.

Since it’s so widely shown, glamorized and basically accepted, on the movie and media scene; and since it’s even politically correct (does that even mean the same thing anymore?) to laugh at an alcohol meme; it sometimes gets overlooked as the horrible, slow killing addiction, it is, or can be.

So I was happy to see Matthew Ward’s An Open Letter to Myself About Sobriety post on Medium.

“We live in an opioid epidemic. The articles about it come out every week. People are addicted and dying and it’s horrible. According to the CDC, there were about 47,000 deaths related to opioid use in 2017.

So, it might surprise you that according to the same CDC data, there were about 88,000 deaths related to alcohol use”.

Originally published in The Ascent

If someone you know insists that they have it under control, there’s a great questionnaire on The government’s website SAMSHA
This is the very same website that the social media influencers will give you when they say they “have access to rehabs all over the country” including the ones they ‘broker’ for, if you have good insurance.

But all that aside, if you need help please  CLICK or CALL. I’ve called it and they’re very informative. There’s also tons of articles on this site for moms of teens and everyone. This site is our tax dollars at work, so use it.

Meanwhile, if you have managed to quit, or moderate your usage, or even thinking about it; I’m sure the thought has crossed your mind of what would you do instead of drinkng?

It’s sounds like an easy enough question, but those who spend hours and hours with their ḂḕṠṮ ḞṙḭḕṆḊ will understand this fear.

No worries,  Benya Clark (from Medium again) has the answer. He listed cooking, drawing, and running as his top three.

Now to those who are used to massive amounts of dopamine that substances provide; these are going to sound boring. And they probably will be at first. Until the natural Dopamine sources get built back up, you’re going to have force yourself, with some good accountability partners maybe, to start small and build up the habit—
Ya know-

ᴊᴜꜱᴛ ʟɪᴋᴇ ʏᴏᴜ ᴅɪᴅ ᴡɪᴛʜ ᴀʟᴄᴏʜᴏʟ ᴏʀ ᴅʀᴜɢꜱ

Boredom, ingrained habits in the brain, and the lifestyle of connection  that all and drugs bring; along with this lack of Dopamine; is the reason for allot of relapses. People feel alone, lost, and bored, without their old coping mechanisms.

The good news is, new friends, new coping skills, new job opportunities can and WILL happen when you don’t have the consequences that addiction brings. You will mostly have your FREEDOM back. You won’t be enslaved to the time and MONEY.

THIS Article quotes the average American spends $22,600 over 40 years drinking 1 – yes 1- cocktail a week. ($11). There’s a Spending calculator you can use HERE. I guess it’s variable what constitutes “too much” spending on alcohol. I certainly would not use that to predict if someone is addicted.

It’s surprising how much addiction actually cost – just for the point of sale. Not even touching on the money from jobs lost, fines, insurance, and the many  other fees that go along with alcohol & drug use.

Drugs are a completly different story when it comes to money.I would say you can quadruple those numbers, easy, if a movie star or wealthy person.

It’s all very sad.

Not sad for the business end, but sad for families and children.  

It’s not a fact that escapes people with a substance use disorder (SUD- not addict). It’s one thing that contributes to their shame and blame of their condition. So much so, that I think it keeps alot of them IN that very cycle, because they think they can never pull out successfully or make up all that money or fix all that they’ve broken.

Our healthy brains KNOW it can be done, but remember,  their brains are technically damaged or at least temporarily hijacked in the areas of emotion, self control & that darn jacked up reward center.

My favorite person with a SUD-turned Doctor, says it best in this video. If that link doesn’t work- here’s next best one. Nicole Labor. Also buy her book and stuff… She humanizes addiction because she’s been there. Even while in Med school!

Regardless of where you or someone you love is at in their consumption journey, there is no reason to not at least have the conversation about how they’re doing and where they feel they want to be in 5 years.

Study after study, and -headline after obituary-  show that all addictions are progressive, leading to jail, death or recovery. So early intervention is paramount. It is a treatment condition. Despite the statistics shown, you can be part of the 21 million Americans who are in some form of recovery rather than the 88k who die every year due to alcohol related deaths. 

Empty Chairs

This time of year is bound to drudge up painful feelings for those who have lost a child or have a prodigal son or daughter who is lost in addiction or otherwise estranged. The happy music, with families dancing around the warmly decorated fireplace, is almost too much for moms like me who are worried sick about their child or children.

We go through the motions of forced shopping, baking, decorating, even if it’s the bare minimum. We think no one will notice, as long we do our “due- duty”.

But they do.

My husband sees the pain on my face as I order gifts online, knowing that I can’t order anything for my oldest son.

He sees me plan our family Christmas party which is a 35 year tradition, knowing that ‘the boy’ won’t be there.

My other kids notice the endless memes I post about “sitting with someone in their darkness” and “help the homeless, it’s someone’s brother, son or Dad.”

They long for the days when I wasn’t so hyper- focused on the “least happiest child”.

Hell, I long for those days! The days before addiction hit our family. I watch with happy tears, a video from Christmas 2016. My son, in his brand new custom- built- by -him house with it’s cobalt blue Christmas lights shining brightly along the perfectly planned ranch beams. It was the picture of success. A successful business, a beautiful family, a warmly decorated house, with plenty of presents under the tree.

My son happily unwraps the gifts in the “saran wrap game” we were playing. He slams it down in true bigger- than-life style that was all his own. Everyone laughs! The sounds of his little girl gleefully giggling at her daddy breaks my heart.

How long has it been since she saw him? 10 months now. How she must lie in bed and wonder what she did wrong.

I hate hate hate this disease.

And no, I will not argue about the cause of this nightmare. Disease or choice.

To me it’s doesn’t matter. Pain is pain. Even if I didn’t have a loved one experiencing the horrible consequences, I’m not going to play judge or jury on someone’s life.

No one would choose the consequences of Addiction. They wanted the benefits of a drink or a pain killer. They didn’t want the excruciating torment that follows.

So here we are. The holidays again. How to be in the spirit? ⛄🎄⛄🎄

My nurse practitioner friend, whom I did confide in, said I needed some stabilization meds, but how can I take the very thing that started this nightmare? 💊.

Yes I know.

Even my professional sense says that it’s different. I won’t abuse them. I’m not going to get addicted to antidepressants.

But I resist. You see, I have this underlying Hope.  This theory that every day he’s alive means that EVERY DAY could be the day he chooses recovery and ‘ I ‘ will be all better.

With the law bearing down on him, you would think.  But his wretched master is a cunning one. “H̷E̷” (the wretched master) tells the most outrageous lies EVERY damn day. And my smart, quippy, entrepreneur son believes them!!!

My son, believes that just one more day will make everything ok. One more day of👹 u̷s̷i̷n̷g̷👹, then he will be ready to stop. But that day never seems to come.

So meanwhile, I have to find a solution.

I’ve always peached gratefulness, but where was mine now? When my little baby granddaughter sends me a video singing

🥶”千尺ㄖ乙乇几” 🥶

in true 2 year old free-spirit form! 🎶👯🎶👯🎶; My heart melts. I Must find a way to ᴍᴀᴋᴇ sᴘɪʀɪᴛs ʙʀɪɢʜᴛ again.

I can’t let others drown in my misery.

Even if my going through the motions means I add a little song to those motions.

What if I add a beautiful handmade ( dollar-store) ornament to each of their gifts?

What if I actually bring the JOY that I so desperately want myself to my other equally deserving beautiful family members?

What a beautiful thing. To create pleasure out of such pain. I think they call that alchemy….

I call it JØɎ.

In gratefulness we find our true freedom 🇺🇲