Remaining Teachable

Unless you subscribe to the school that says ignorance is bliss, one arguably fun thing about recovery is that the layers of your own personal onion keep unfolding. You discover more and more about yourself as you go along. I think there’s a grand myth that once you have a few clean and sober years under your belt, you’re fixed. Ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom. Cured. The thought just made me snicker out loud in my living room like a maniac. Because nothing could be further from the truth. If all goes well, I will have 7 years of recovery next month..and I still have my fair share of issues to slog my way through. The good news is that most people could stand to do a little “issue slogging”, so I’m not alone.

One can ascertain a lot about my present brand of crazy by either observing my recent purchases or peeking at my shopping list. The items I have collected lately include 3 pairs of athletic shorts, other assorted articles of athletic wear, and a beginners yoga DVD. The items I have on my “to-purchase list” include a book on living with adult ADD and a Missy Elliot CD.

This is a hilarious amalgamation for a number of reasons. Those of you who know me are fully aware that I hate the idea of doing anything that requires exertion or sweat. I was possibly the most awkward girl in my high school gym class. The poor teacher didn’t even know what to do with my lack of eye-hand coordination. I can’t eye-hand coordinate, make my limbs look natural, or do math above a second grade level. It’s just who I am.

Missy Elliot is there because she’s my go-to for what I like to call “ass-kicking anthems”. When I need to get pumped up, Missy is my girl. And lately I need some help to get in the mood for ass-kicking.

I have a lot going on. Not only am I managing a day job, a (struggling) photography business, and a sparsely updated blog, I’ve also started a (successful) social media campaign called “Human Too” to combat stigma against addicts and alcoholics. If that list doesn’t perfectly illustrate my ADD, I don’t know what does. On top of that, my body is changing in a way I do. not. like. If I could sum up turning thirty in two lines, I would say this: Don’t expect to even LOOK at a dessert ever again without gaining two pounds. And don’t expect to drink coffee on a road trip without almost (or actually) peeing your pants at least once.

That brings us back around to the shorts and the yoga DVD. Lately, I’ve gained some weight.  My unhappiness with this has delivered me face to face with the fact that food has become just another drug for me. In fact, it really always has been just another drug for me, but I HAD a great metabolism so I could live in happy denial. Stressed? Donut time. Bored? How about a cookie? Or a cupcake? Or a bag of cheesy popcorn? Or a bowl of sugary cereal topped with whipped cream? Or just a plain old bowl of whipped cream with a spoon? Because god damn it all, I have NO VICES LEFT. No credit cards. No weed. No Jack and Pepsi. And MOST CERTAINLY no bat shit crazy women.

It sucks to get honest and admit that food is another item on the list of things I need help managing. When I was a teenager I got really sick and really thin. People reacted positively to the weight loss. Since then I haven’t experienced being any other size and my self image is struggling. I’m used to being a notch or two above sick looking. Now I just want to get to a place where I feel healthy. I’m hoping the fake-it-til-I-make-it approach will work. If I LOOK like I can run a 5k, maybe I’ll get to FEELING like I want to run a 5k. And let’s face it – that flexible waistband feels a HELL of a lot better than trying to squeeze my ass into last summer’s clothes. But I’m not living under the delusion that I’m going to jump right into running. Ohhhh boy, just the idea is funny. I’m starting off small with some regular walks, irregular sprints, and possibly some light yoga. There are muscles in my body that I forgot I even had.

In my last post I talked about how the group I joined for 8 months helped me to stop jumping into things so quickly and also to stop quitting. I’m still doing really well with that. I haven’t quit my job. I haven’t quit any of the things I’ve started (blog, business, campaign). I haven’t decided to sign up for a 5k or join a Cross Fit gym. I’m trying baby steps. (A. Find shorts that don’t cut off your circulation. B. Stretch out muscles that you forgot existed. C. Stop pounding carbs.) The other thing that helped was when the gears of my brain finally clicked into place. I was on a marathon of self-berating about my perpetual career woes when a tiny, timid little part of my brain piped in and said “Hey, you remember when you were a kid and you got diagnosed with ADD?” I did some reading, and my whole adult life finally made sense. The 18,000 tabs always open in my head, the inability to complete one task without starting 10 others along the way, the boredom, frustration, and irritability at work, the constant noise in my brain, the success I have when I’m hyper-focused on a task I like…

I think it’s important to acknowledge that sometimes a recovery program can’t address all of your needs. Before I’m able to explore other career options, it makes sense that I’m going to need some help treating my ADD.

I SUFFERED at school. If I go back to school or back to a professional work setting, I don’t need to suffer anymore.

Sometimes this whole growth thing can be a little overwhelming. Especially with a noisy brain that NEVER. SHUTS. UP. But at the end of the day I am so thankful. My life may not be perfect, but the beautiful thing is that I KNOW myself. I am aware of who I am on a very deep level and I become more and more in tune each day. I seem to remember an ad on TV that says “Know More, Do More”. That is a great summation of what recovery is all about. When I’m not in the process of actively learning, I’m in the process of actively dying. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I think I would prefer to remain teachable.









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