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Old 12-16-2012, 10:58 AM   #1 (permalink)
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not liking purgatory

It's time to move beyond this place I've been stuck for years. Neither using nor in recovery. Sitting on the fence, keeping my option to use open, but not actively using. It's an addict's purgatory.

I've long wanted to find a sponsor and work the steps but allow pretty much everything to stop me. A big reason is the possibility of not finding the right sponsor. Reading threads here I found this in the thread "My First Sponsee," about what a sponsor is, and what a sponsor is not.

What you are not:
his parents
his boss
a bank
the daycare center
a dumping ground
a 24-hour hotline
a complete network in one man
a professional marriage counselor
a psychiatrist
a medical doctor
superman
God/Higher Power

What you can be:

Hopefully, you're someone who's on a further page in your recovery, so able to help with understanding stepwork.
A caring but objective listener
Someone with whom he can check things out with.
If he chooses to be honest with you, you can help hold him accountable for progress in recovery.
A voice of sanity in the often crazy times in early recovery
Honest.

Yes yes yes, THIS is the person I want to find as a sponsor. I wish I could send out a mailing so only applicable applicants would apply. Where to find such a person. I don't want someone to solve anything for me, I just seek guidance. How to begin knowing if the person you choose is right? I'm quite concerned that if I get the wrong person I might end up in a bigger mess than where I am right now. Maybe this is just another stall tactic I'm employing. I'd rather work through everything on my own. That keeps me quite stuck, obviously.
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Old 12-17-2012, 12:59 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Hi I'm in a similar place. Purgatory is a good name for it. I'm not using, but still do a lot of the stuff I've always done: isolate, procrastinate, obsess over things like my job and the future, be depressed. Yes, I'm clean, but I'm trying to change my life, learn to love myself and find serenity.

I've been attending NA meetings for about 10 months. I finally got a sponsor maybe 6 months ago or so. He's not a perfect fit for me, but he does have the qualities in your second list, and he has a lot of clean time. My program is still dragging, but I think that's on me, not him.

Do you go to meetings? Is there anyone you can talk to about this? Maybe someone you can talk to about sponsors, before you ask them or someone else to be your sponsor. Maybe you'll have to attend several groups before you meet someone you can relate to and click with.

Some people get temporary sponsors. I don't have a whole lot of experience, or progress in the steps, but I heard someone say if you're your own sponsor, than your sponsor sucks. Yeah, the stall tactics. I know a lot about those.
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Old 12-19-2012, 11:56 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Hey, thanks for your words here. I wanted to delete this post the day after writing it, thinking it was just rambling. Good to see someone else out there who can relate.

I went to a meeting today, first na meeting in about 5 years. AA meetings were never quite the right fit, always a step off-beat. Good people there to be sure. Probably not a sponsor though. Most of the 11 in attendance have less clean time than I do, are younger than me, and while working the program well, some for years, they seemed to be struggling with things quite different than myself. I won't let that stall me out. There was one person, with 10 years clean, who seemed stable and approachable. I'll return next week and perhaps find a way to talk with him, see if he can connect me with a sponsor outside that small group. (I'd ask him, he seems ideal for the person I'd like to find as a sponsor, but it's my understanding that a sponsor is supposed to be of the same sex.)

So we keep working at proceeding forward. Best to you in your pursuits as well.
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Old 12-19-2012, 01:40 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I don't know your drug of choice, but there are many people in my NA group whose drug of choice is alcohol, and just prefer NA to AA, or go to both. People in my group always talk about doing the "next right thing" and that sounds like what you are doing.

I am proud of you. If you are like me, than you know this stuff isn't easy.

It's also hard because I (we?) want to exhibit patience, but also make progress in the program, while overcoming doubt and fear.
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Old 12-20-2012, 10:05 AM   #5 (permalink)
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At least trying to do the next right thing. What that is isn't necessarily obvious. Patience and progress are a delicate balance to achieve. I have moments where the "next right thing" seems so perfectly clear, that being, renounce the drugs entirely and proceed on with a drug-free life. How freeing and right that sounds! It's exciting to consider, but then reality kicks in, and reminds me I really like (am addicted to) those drugs I'm leaving behind. Simply walking away suddenly isn't so simple an option.

What has become clear to me through the past couple weeks of once again debating what to do next, or whether to do anything, is that remaining inside my own head isn't going to get me anywhere, except quite likely back into the drugs again. I can't just avoid coming into contact with them forever, which has been my modus operandi for the past six years.

The drugs, by the way, are pot and the whole spectrum of hallucinogens. There is no more complete escape than tripping, no-one can touch me there, and everything seems so right with the world when doing them. No doubt, no fear, when there. That's hard to let go of. So now trying to replace it. No, it's not easy. So we carry on to figuring out the next right thing to do.
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Old 12-21-2012, 08:10 AM   #6 (permalink)
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My difficulties have been basically two things:

1. I loved and miss getting high. My doc is pot, but I have tripped many times, too, and had many good times on mushrooms and acid. But my desire to use again is tempered by where I ended up from smoking pot every day: isolated, depressed, and in a job and home that make me unhappy and disappointed. At the end, smoking just made me paranoid, alone, and a little insane. From your post, it doesn't sound like you're at this place, but make sure you are being honest to yourself about all of the good and bad that results from using.

2. Sober reality. This one is harder for me to deal with. My feelings about my current lot in life are no longer numbed, and I have to face the regrets and mistakes I made as a a result of being a career pothead. And whatever issues I had as that made me want to be high all the time way back when I started, these haven't gone away. I really understand what you mean about trying to replace that feeling-for me getting high was my reason for living and getting through the day, and the spirituality, and sense of being in the now (, although completely artificial and false,) that came with it, are gone. I'm working the NA program, but I'm not sure if that will do it for me or not.

Pot and psychadelics are tricky, too. They don't seem as blatantly harmful as "harder" drugs, and a lot of people use them without any problem, so that can cloud my judgement, too.
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Old 12-21-2012, 11:01 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I don't think we're supposed to miss getting high, but it's a truth, when I think about it, I do miss it. So I try not to think about it.

Where you found yourself in habitual daily use of pot mirrors my experience.
For 20 years that is what I looked forward to every day, that escape at the end of the day. Of course it wasn't limited to the end of the day, but without fail, it was an everyday occurrence. The isolation and unhappiness grew. Eventually leading to divorce and a financial restart after 15 years of marriage. Important, though difficult, changes there.

You hit on a most important point with, "And whatever issues I had as that made me want to be high all the time way back when I started, these haven't gone away." This is what we need to address, it seems. Those reasons why the escape we found in drugs was/ is so compelling. What are we trying to escape, or hide from. Probably something inside ourselves.

Whether or not working the NA program will provide the answers is a good question. I know of the steps but haven't worked a single one, at least not with a sponsor, hence I've gotten nowhere with them. Certainly it could help provide insight, maybe offer direction.

I tried a therapist, twice in fact. That was such a waste of time I laugh now thinking of it. The suggestion to "get out in nature, make time for yourself, let the natural world inspire you" was one therapists advice. Ha, he didn't have a CLUE what he was talking about. He had no idea that's precisely what I did when tripping!

I don't much talk about my doc because they're generally not considered addictive, not in the way other drugs are. People pick them up and put them down, routinely. They're not obsessed by them. Which is why it's so hard to find anyone to relate to when talking about this. It's a difficult addiction/ obsession to explain in any rational way.
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Old 12-25-2012, 12:14 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Hi andisa,

I have read this and some of your other posts. There are a lot of similarities between my feelings and many of the things in your posts. Unfortunately, I can closely relate to the chicken thread, too.

I don't know if you can relate, but one of my problems is that I think about things too much, and tend to over analyze everything. That, and fear can paralyze me from taking action and trying something new.

I can dwell on all the things I'm not comfortable with in NA, for example, and how I am different from others in the program. But I see people in the rooms who have transformed their lives in a way that is very real. I want some of that, so I will continue to try to progress, at least for now, and make myself do some things that I don't like and make me uncomfortable. I know that what I've been doing in the past isn't working for me. That is clear. And the program is not easy, but it is simple. I make it complicated.

Other examples of things I have a hard time changing include getting out of a job I'm unhappy with, succeeding in relationships, and many more.

I can beat myself up for lack of progress, and regrets, but the program says "Easy does it". I try not to be hard on myself, but it is deep in my nature.

I see a therapist who I like very much. She sounds very different than yours. She suggested that I quit smoking, and I told her that would never happen, that it was completely unimaginable. A few days later, I stopped, and started attending meetings, (and filling my free time doing other healthy things). I went just for something to do and hang out with people who weren't getting high.

I will be thinking about you, and hope you find happiness and peace. There will be ups and downs. I look forward to hearing how you progress through this journey.
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Old 12-27-2012, 08:47 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Ha, you have or have had chickens too. "Fowl beasts!" my grandma used to say. She could never understand my choice to keep them. They really are disgusting creatures but I really do enjoy keeping the flock.

Very good hearing from you here. This would be a very lonely thread without you. Exemplary of the relative loneliness I, and apparently you as well, experience in this complicated mindgame that is addiction. While at the same time we're not unique among addicts. Over-anaylsis complicates things for us. I'll never denounce comprehensive analysis of anything, for it offers so much insight and besides, it's mentally entertaining. Problem being however, we can find ways around just about anything. Between that and the paralysis of fear, we effectively can keep ourselves very stuck.

It's very encouraging to read of your willingness to forge forth beyond your hesitations and reservations. I've attended three meetings in the past week and keep coming back because the program does appear to be working for them. And I find solace in the fact I can relate, on some level, with their experience. To have a place where I can openly address what I'm thinking and have that met with a round of genuinely listening ears and nodding heads is a welcome change from shaking heads with their frustration and confusion, hurt and anger. I don't even consider going that route anymore.

But in that the secrecy still abounds. Relationships! They shouldn't be so complicated. People are so complicated.

If what we've done in the past isn't working for us something has to change. You write about not liking your job; can you make a change? Our work is such a fundamental cornerstone that shapes and affects our lives, to have a job that's not well-suited to you is a drag on you and your life. I so encourage you to find work you enjoy. I do not take for granted that I have work I genuinely love doing. In that I can invest so much of myself, and find so much escape, if you can call it that. An investment of time and mind and energy that is worthy. It makes everything else about life so much better.

I've been toying, seriously, with the idea of quitting smoking, which as you say, sounds impossible, and yet, I've done it before with success, sometimes for years, and years. Pick up that first one and it's right back in the old boat, sometimes for years, and years.

Don't be too hard on yourself. From my vantage point it sounds like you're making solid steps in the direction you choose, rather than allowing addict-brain to choose for you. Your story and thoughts are encouraging. Thanks for your friendship here.
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Old 12-28-2012, 09:04 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Like this thread a lot. Thanks everyone!
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Old 12-28-2012, 09:06 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Oh wow. This thread really resonated with me. Purgatory is a great description. Not using , not being happy not using . Wanting to move on but feeling sickly comfortable in ones misery.
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Old 12-29-2012, 04:58 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Good to have company here, both of you.
Midlife...curious what you're doing to move on. We have to make a move in order to start.

I made the statement at Friday's meeting that by the next meeting on Wed I'll have quit smoking. That's the intent. I can do that. The flip side says forget it, and stop going to meetings. Powerful forces dueling it out.
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Old 12-29-2012, 01:04 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Not too much ATM. The thing about this purgatory as you call it, even through it feels like hell, it's strangely familiar and comfortable in its uncomfortableness.

I'm going to start seeing my counsellor again in the new year, posting on here, ad try to find some online meetings.
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Old 12-29-2012, 06:18 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Just to be clear, I don't raise chickens. I am the chicken.

Andisa, I am trying to take steps to make the positive changes in my career and elsewhere. It's just that they are little steps. For instance, I have worked on my resume and look at job postings, and I have spoken to a friend of a friend, who is a very successful and respected person in my field, for help. These are little things, but more than I've done in a long time. And I'm clean.

Yeah, Midlife, the comfortable rut, I know all about it. Like my feet are stuck in the mud. Or like a big, heavy ball that I cannot seem to push over that bump. Not happy on drugs and not happy clean.

My therapist told me that when the pain of my current situation becomes greater than the fear of change (and rejection), I will do something about it.

But it takes action.

Midlife and andisa, posting in this thread is something. A very good step. And sharing your goals here. So what will we do next? I don't know but I am trying to believe in myself and I believe in you guys. I will share my progress and will keep an eye out for yours.
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Old 12-29-2012, 06:23 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I am so, so encouraged by this thread. Not happy that others are where I am but that people get it! Hallelujah! My friends irl look at me like I'm a alien! They try but I don't think they can ever completely understand (happy for them!)

Next for me is that I have to get rid of my last little vice altogether (occasional drink which has the potential to take over). Something I have never had too much of a prob with and definitely not my doc.

I was in full recovery for 9 years from substance abuse but the eating disorder kept me down. And in purgatory. So sick of not living life to its potential. I'm going to ring the counsellor after New Years.
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Old 12-29-2012, 07:02 PM   #16 (permalink)
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You guys sure make for a great read. Thank you.
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Old 12-30-2012, 05:10 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Being chicken keeps us all dashing for cover when we don't feel secure. A learned safety precaution to protect ourselves. We can choose to remain safely protected our whole lives, living in less-than-preferable conditions, or we can see what else is available. But we can't see any of it if we're hiding under a box in the barn.

For us it appears small steps outside the barn are the way to proceed. Testing the waters for fear of drowning in a current so fast we can't swim. Maybe that's the result of having been swept up in a current before in which we had no control.

I think often about the illusion of control. We really have very little you know. All we can control are our actions, and reactions.

Beautiful what you say Fate, "I will share my progress and will keep an eye out for yours." Little things can make a big difference.

Midlife, it's appearing to me that to keep indulging in the non-doc is just a substitute for the doc. I've never had a problem with alcohol, i.e.the occasional glass of wine, and smoking cigs pales in comparison to what I got from pot, but there they are, filling the gap, I suspect, as a placeholder. They have no place in recovery.

MN Nice, yah, sure, you betcha.
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Old 12-30-2012, 06:01 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Yes I agree but I've only just come to that conclusion.today.

Still definitely relate to the purgatory thing. Have spent many years completely sober but avoiding all further change. Keeps me kind of teetering on the edge, looking for easy ways out.
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Old 01-01-2013, 04:22 AM   #19 (permalink)
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I'm thinking purgatory is a state of mind more so than a state of being.
True, being an edge-teeterer or a fence-sitter or a chicken-in-the-barn-squatter puts us in a state of indecisive limbo, but there can be good, sound reason behind our caution in many areas of life. Keeping options open, maintaining a position of safety, and freedom to choose another way are positive contributors to a well-designed life. So we don't let them go. That we extend those conditions to drug use or other areas of life where they aren't so positive is natural, albeit not productive. Balance!

What I'm getting at here is perhaps we take a step outside this mental state of limbo and look at things a bit different. Beating ourselves up for not being where we want to be then beats us down. We end up feeling like we're not moving forward, or in the direction we want to go. And in some ways it may well be that we're not. I know how I remain stuck, based on fear, and avoidance. Yep, I definitely still live that way. Some of that may never change. But I'm thinking it need not be so much a negative, so incapacitating and draining and consuming as it is. I allow it to be a suppressor.

Maybe if I (we) stop being so hard on ourselves for not being where we want to be, we can then focus my energy on getting to where we want to go. Keeping in mind my general direction, with acceptance of who we and where we are, and with that, proceed more gently forward, cautiously, calculating each move, choosing as wisely as we can.

Acceptance, balance, progress. Those are the words of I focus on.
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Old 01-13-2013, 04:06 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Hi andisa and midlifecrisis. I'm just thinking about y'all. I hope you are hanging in there. Don't give up and don't use!
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