My Ego is not my Amigo

I used to hear this saying all the time in early sobriety.  I was living in San Diego then, so I it definitely made sense to have a Spanish rhyme become part of the AA mantra that was going around.  Through the years, I’ve used this mantra in all areas of my life, not just recovery.  What I’ve realized is just how true this phrase is.  If you go back and read any of Eckhart Tolle, Marianne Williamson or Wayne Dyer’s writings, they all place a lot of importance on the Ego and how it is such an enemy to the human spirt and mind.   I’ve been reading the Illuminata Prayer book lately by Marianne and she talks about how our Ego ruins relationships because folks don’t want to put the time and energy into really doingthe work.  The work of separating mind from Ego.  Its hard stuff and it shouldn’t be brushed to the side.  Its where the real inner work of our spirit and who we are come together.

Which made me realize that anything worth having or worth keeping, requires work.  Careers, friendships, marriages, and relationships, as well as our physical, mental and spiritual health - they all require work.   Doing what we need to, and not just people in 12 step programs, it’s an everyday maintenance program.  Some days I just want to take a break from the praying, the journaling, the helping others and getting out of myself.  I just want to say Adios for a while, and coast along.  However, I’ve done this before and very quickly saw that if my spiritual well-being isn’t being exercised every day - I can get a bit koo-koo and then start trying to manage and control my life on my own.  Which turns into a disaster.    I realized I can’t sit idle and sometimes I even have to increase my daily regime.  I’ve started praying with my husband in the morning, reading a daily passage from a spiritual book and then doing a 5 minute meditation.  I’ve only been doing this for 3 weeks now, but so far, I’m feeling so much more fulfilled.  (Check back with me in a month!)

During my years in recovery, I’ve learned that the Ego is our biggest enemy.  It gives us a very warped sense of self, which in turns leads to an over inflated ego.  I can’t tell you home many times I’ve heard, “they relapsed and won’t come back (to AA) because they are ashamed”.  Our ego literally kills us and the only defense we have against any of this is that we need to get serious about who we really are.  Be true to our inner core and get honest with ourselves.  This is the hardest part about recovery.  Admitting we have a problem, and willing to be okay with the choices we’ve made in our life.  Recovery is about starting over and making new and healthier choices.  Choices that aren’t made by our Ego. 

I’m so grateful that I’ve walked my path in recovery and yes, I’m not much but I’m all I think about – so clearly I have an Ego issue as well.  But if I keep it in check and surround myself with others that call me out on my BS and make me accountable, I end up living a much more structured life - with balance and serenity.  My sponsor calls me out all the time because of my Ego and the best thing about it is that I listen and move forward and put “MY” best self to the side so I can reflect on being the kind of person God intended me to be. 

At the end of the day, Ego for me is Edging God Out and I know where that will take me.  So, yes, realizing that my Ego isn’t my Amigo is the best thing I can do for myself each day. 

Feeling comfortable in my own skin

I hate bathing suit shopping almost as much as I hate going to the dentist. I think both should be classified under worst things in life category for sure. 

Recently I’ve gained about 5 pounds – maybe 6.  I can see it in my belly and I don’t feel good about myself at all.  Has this changed my eating habits? Not yet.  I keep thinking something magical will occur and those 5 pounds will just go away.  However, with the Holidays behind us and a rapid push into 2016, I feel I have no excuses – especially because I live in Florida.  It’s warm here and we have glorious sunny days year round (not lately, but….) and there is no reason for me not to get out of bed at 6 am and hit the gym, go for a bike ride or take Lucy on that 30 minute walk.  Zilch. 

Back to my question of how bad do I need to feel before I have to forgo the bikini and throw on that fun sexy one piece?  I think I’m at a place in my life where I should be able to do and wear whatever I please without feeling self-conscious about my body.  You’d think that a women in her mid-40s is comfortable in her own skin by now.  Well, not this woman.  I’ve struggled with my weight issues for most of my life.  In High School, which goes back over 25 years ago now, I was an acceptable size 8.  I was never slim, but more so had an hour glass figure that showcased my buxomy 36 D bra size by my junior year.  By the time I was 19, I went through a bad break-up which had me imbibing in anything and everything; alcohol, food, cocaine, cigarettes, sex, anything I could do to fill that my never ending black hole.  I had ballooned up to 198 pounds and the sad thing was I didn’t seem very affected by this.  I knew I had gained some weight, but I seriously didn’t think I looked thatbad.  My dad had nicknamed me Mamma Cass – the famous 60’s singer from the Mamma’s and the Pappa’s; the lady who died by choking on a ham sandwich.  It was a family joke that was being tossed around and I barely paid any attention to it. 

By the time I was 22 I had quit my office job and was waitresing and found myself on my feet all day long - 11 am until 10 pm most days.  I gave up eating red meat and just focused on working in the restaurant industry – which for an alcoholic coke fiend like me was a perfect career choice.  The weight started falling off and I started feeling better about myself.  This whole process took about two years and by the time I was 25, I decided that having a 36D+ wasn’t going to work for me long-term.  I opted to get a breast reduction and walked out of the hospital with a respectable 36C, and again soon thereafter I was able to shed some more weight and was back down to my size 8.  However, my alcoholism and drug addiction kept humming right along. 

Very soon the trend setting Tankini blasted onto the scene and I jumped into that with full gusto.  I was feeling okay with my body – but seriously I didn’t care that much as all I really cared about was boozing and doing blow.  Those were my two best friends for over 20 years and they didn’t disappoint.  I never went to the gym, or worked out.  I would flirt with it here and there, but nothing ever took.  Fast forward to 2004 when I got sober.  I was 37 years old and within the first few months of getting sober, I started to really take care of myself and be more health and fitness focused.   I was living along the coast of San Diego and it was pretty easy to be healthy in that environment.  I started running along the beach, doing hot yoga, working with a personal trainer and eating uber healthy.  I became very SoCal and fitness trendy.  I started looking healthy – in all areas of my life. Yay for me.  I embraced this lifestyle for the first few years of my sobriety while living in California.  In 2010, I moved back East and was able to continue a moderately healthy lifestyle; Bikram, CrossFit, going to a Gym and Hiking Valley Forge Park, however, the eating healthy wasn’t as good as it could have been, darn those Philly Cheesesteaks.

Now at almost 12 years clean and sober, I find myself stagnant.  I’m older, I’ve had some injuries over the past few months that have curtailed my physical health and I’m back in my corporate career working more than the average 9-5. Needless to say, none of these things are excuses.  But today they are.  Not seeing much progress here, but then again, I’m better than where I was 12 years ago.  And ya know what? I’m totally okay with it today because I like who I am and feeling physically good is an added bonus.  I am comfortable in my own skin today, maybe not all the time, but its progress not perfection.  So, I better get out my one piece, and the two piece as well.  Off to Miami next weekend to see Madonna and I'm sure I'll be ready to Vogue. 

Relapse sucks!

I say this without ever experiencing a relapse.  I say this because of my experience seeing others come in and out.  I’ve led a charmed life in sobriety in that I didn’t get sober at my first meeting, I got sober at my second meeting and I haven’t looked back since.  Mind you, not every day is amazing and I’m skipping around with my spiritual unicorn saying YAY! No, life gets lifey and I get the “F” its – but it’s what I DO that saves me from myself, because at the end of the day I want to drink and escape and numb out.  I’m an alcoholic, that’s what we do.  I’ve just realized that my God has a better way for me and when things have gotten to the shitty “F” it point, I do what I was TOLD to do.  I call someone, I get to a meeting, I pray and I play the tape.  The tape starts out with me at a really nice upscale restaurant/bar and it ends with me at some disgusting dive bar with the scum of the earth people looking for blow and whoever else wants to party with me.  That was my life  - for over 20 years – check out my book to learn more.

But today I say Relapse sucks because someone I’m close to relapsed – again.  Its sneaky, it’s always in waiting and it changes things.  No matter how many times I’ve witnessed someone else’s relapse, it’s never easy.   It happens and its common and it just effing sucks.  Selfishly though, it keeps me sober.  It makes me realize how our disease is always doing push-ups.  The pilot light is always on.  I recently watched that HBO documentary, “Heroin: Cape Cod, USA”, it was the saddest thing I’ve seen in a while about addiction.  I know our country has a huge opiate addiction problem, but I never knew the nitty gritty insides of it until I watched this documentary.  My heart goes out to these addicts and their families.  I go to Al Anon and it helps me, because it teaches me how to take care of myself and not the alcoholics/addicts in my life.  It kills me though when I hear the parent who has a child hooked on Heroin.  Sadly, the statistics aren’t good with 85% of Heroin addicts starting out as prescription pill patients.  They got into a car accident or had some kind of surgery and their Doctor prescribes Vicodin or Oxycontin – whichever it is.  Three out of four of these patients will become addicted and soon will turn to Heroin - because they can’t get any more pills from their Doctor and can’t afford the prescription.  Its easier to turn to the streets and star using H.  It’s so fucked up that these pharma companies and Doctor’s can’t seem to prescribe something else - that isn’t as addictive.  This industry needs to step up and take some responsibility and stop blaming the drug addicts that they are manufacturing.  It’s like is McDonald’s responsible for the obesity problem in the US? It’s the same exact thing as it all comes back to addiction.   Addiction kills and doesn’t care who you are.  Food, alcohol, drugs, sex and unhealthy behaviors  - they all suck. 

I’m praying 2016 will be the year that you don’t relapse anymore and get clean and sober.  That’s all I can hope for – me included.