Living and being ok with being honest

I got myself through the probation time and had the tax audit. Both worked out fine. And in both I have been nothing less than absolutely honest. I think this is one of the nicest things of sobriety: not to have to lie anymore. The realisation that I am, for me, enough. Enough. Good. Entitled to be me as I am. Not setting my goals so high and wide that I have to be ‘not me’ to reach them.

Half way through my probation time I found out that I did actually not have a probation time because my boss had made a mistake in the contract. This was strange. Felt weird. I could not fit it in my mind so I decided to continue to think I had a probation time. That worked better.

I notice that my emotions still run high and wild, guess that’s part of the deal of being me. However there is this thought that someday I will be ok again. I have gone through 1,5 years of for me, unusual scarcity and financial trouble – which actually meant nothing more than paying the rent late, eating less meat, not going out for dinner, not buying cloths or going on a holiday for 3 years. That is not bad in comparison to most of the world. 🙂 I worked my way through and I guess I worked my way out. I am back at the education level which I should be working and doing ok.

My perfectionism and criticism are traits I need for this job but not in the quantity that they are supplied within so I have to deal with that too, otherwise I irritate my colleagues and loose respect. Also I need to learn to set boundaries, I do not have enough time to pick up other peoples slack. But my main focus is on keeping healthy and keeping my brain functioning without experiencing information overload. It requires that I go to bed on time and sleep well, so good sleeping habits are still on the agenda. Also it requires that I stop thinking about work after working hours. That is not going so well. Loads of tiny details I know I will otherwise forget. I do not have the right tools in place yet to not forget, apart from a to do list which only keeps growing.

I spoke about this with the external consultant. He noticed my love for perfection too and tells me I have no time for that. I asked him to help me if he thought I was going over the top on things. Perfectionism: if I am perfect they will love me. 🙂

Oh, my boss wife enquired after my sexual orientation today. I asked her why she would ask and what gave her the idea that it was not plain obvious. That was a question. She said that I had not proclaimed myself. I asked why I should have saying that I can scan the orientation from people without asking (that is mostly true, not always). And in the whole conversation which lasted 3 minutes I did not, other than that, reply to her question. It is strange, I felt I could not. I have no answer to this question. I like men for the ‘hunt’ but women are better in bed. I like women better as persons but energetically I find women not so exciting. I guess now I don’t have to pay back the tax money I can spend some money on the Ayurvedic doctor to get my yin and yang sorted out. It is strange to be 47 and still not know which way the wind blows. I do not feel I need to be honest about that. I do not lie either.

The questions also scared me; “Holy shit here we go again!” The experiences with my former boss still linger and at these questions immediately popped up as unresolved issues. Guess I left there too late after all. 🙂 / 😦 I don’t want to have to tell anybody I do not know shit about how it works within.

Funny thing is: I feel a lot better if, within myself, I let my orientation be undecided. Ghegheghe, it gives rest. The rest of not having to hunt or be something to be appreciated, behave some way to be liked. I feel much more balanced if I do not let my sex drive determine me. It is odd, like everything inside is out of balance, like I am standing on a see-saw that also rotates around the center, and then without the see-saw. But I guess I am currently more comfortable there. It might sound funny but this seems to be a spiritual ‘choice/process’ rather than a sexual one. Something keeps on saying: ‘humanity first’. I am learning to not label people by gender. Which, as I see now, I did thoroughly. Guess this is good. 🙂 I could also be experiencing the first signs of the getting older. 🙂 Dunno, we shall see.

I am happy that I quit. Not overly grateful, just happy in an obliged happy way because I am pretty sure I would not be alive right now. Mandatory happy. Need to work out what is keeping me from being really really happy. But now it is bed time.

Wishing you a nice day / evening.

xx, Feeling

 

Icelandic approach to addiction

Hi,

I found this article on the beautiful way Iceland has drastically brought down the number of smoking, drinking and drug using kids.

Iceland knows how to stop teen substance abuse but the rest of the world isn’t listening

In Iceland, teenage smoking, drinking and drug use have been radically cut in the past 20 years. Emma Young finds out how they did it, and why other countries won’t follow suit.

17 January 2017

It’s a little before three on a sunny Friday afternoon and Laugardalur Park, near central Reykjavik, looks practically deserted. There’s an occasional adult with a pushchair, but the park’s surrounded by apartment blocks and houses, and school’s out – so where are all the kids?

Walking with me are Gudberg Jónsson, a local psychologist, and Harvey Milkman, an American psychology professor who teaches for part of the year at Reykjavik University. Twenty years ago, says Gudberg, Icelandic teens were among the heaviest-drinking youths in Europe. “You couldn’t walk the streets in downtown Reykjavik on a Friday night because it felt unsafe,” adds Milkman. “There were hordes of teenagers getting in-your-face drunk.”

We approach a large building. “And here we have the indoor skating,” says Gudberg.

A couple of minutes ago, we passed two halls dedicated to badminton and ping pong. Here in the park, there’s also an athletics track, a geothermally heated swimming pool and – at last – some visible kids, excitedly playing football on an artificial pitch.

Young people aren’t hanging out in the park right now, Gudberg explains, because they’re in after-school classes in these facilities, or in clubs for music, dance or art. Or they might be on outings with their parents.

Today, Iceland tops the European table for the cleanest-living teens. The percentage of 15- and 16-year-olds who had been drunk in the previous month plummeted from 42 per cent in 1998 to 5 per cent in 2016. The percentage who have ever used cannabis is down from 17 per cent to 7 per cent. Those smoking cigarettes every day fell from 23 per cent to just 3 per cent.

© Dave Imms

The way the country has achieved this turnaround has been both radical and evidence-based, but it has relied a lot on what might be termed enforced common sense. “This is the most remarkably intense and profound study of stress in the lives of teenagers that I have ever seen,” says Milkman. “I’m just so impressed by how well it is working.”

If it was adopted in other countries, Milkman argues, the Icelandic model could benefit the general psychological and physical wellbeing of millions of kids, not to mention the coffers of healthcare agencies and broader society. It’s a big if.

“I was in the eye of the storm of the drug revolution,” Milkman explains over tea in his apartment in Reykjavik. In the early 1970s, when he was doing an internship at the Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital in New York City, “LSD was already in, and a lot of people were smoking marijuana. And there was a lot of interest in why people took certain drugs.”

Milkman’s doctoral dissertation concluded that people would choose either heroin or amphetamines depending on how they liked to deal with stress. Heroin users wanted to numb themselves; amphetamine users wanted to actively confront it. After this work was published, he was among a group of researchers drafted by the US National Institute on Drug Abuse to answer questions such as: why do people start using drugs? Why do they continue? When do they reach a threshold to abuse? When do they stop? And when do they relapse?

“Any college kid could say: why do they start? Well, there’s availability, they’re risk-takers, alienation, maybe some depression,” he says. “But why do they continue? So I got to the question about the threshold for abuse and the lights went on – that’s when I had my version of the ‘aha’ experience: they could be on the threshold for abuse before they even took the drug, because it was their style of coping that they were abusing.”

At Metropolitan State College of Denver, Milkman was instrumental in developing the idea that people were getting addicted to changes in brain chemistry. Kids who were “active confronters” were after a rush – they’d get it by stealing hubcaps and radios and later cars, or through stimulant drugs. Alcohol also alters brain chemistry, of course. It’s a sedative but it sedates the brain’s control first, which can remove inhibitions and, in limited doses, reduce anxiety.

“People can get addicted to drink, cars, money, sex, calories, cocaine – whatever,” says Milkman. “The idea of behavioural addiction became our trademark.”

This idea spawned another: “Why not orchestrate a social movement around natural highs: around people getting high on their own brain chemistry – because it seems obvious to me that people want to change their consciousness – without the deleterious effects of drugs?”

By 1992, his team in Denver had won a $1.2 million government grant to form Project Self-Discovery, which offered teenagers natural-high alternatives to drugs and crime. They got referrals from teachers, school nurses and counsellors, taking in kids from the age of 14 who didn’t see themselves as needing treatment but who had problems with drugs or petty crime.

“We didn’t say to them, you’re coming in for treatment. We said, we’ll teach you anything you want to learn: music, dance, hip hop, art, martial arts.” The idea was that these different classes could provide a variety of alterations in the kids’ brain chemistry, and give them what they needed to cope better with life: some might crave an experience that could help reduce anxiety, others may be after a rush.

At the same time, the recruits got life-skills training, which focused on improving their thoughts about themselves and their lives, and the way they interacted with other people. “The main principle was that drug education doesn’t work because nobody pays attention to it. What is needed are the life skills to act on that information,” Milkman says. Kids were told it was a three-month programme. Some stayed five years.

In 1991, Milkman was invited to Iceland to talk about this work, his findings and ideas. He became a consultant to the first residential drug treatment centre for adolescents in Iceland, in a town called Tindar. “It was designed around the idea of giving kids better things to do,” he explains. It was here that he met Gudberg, who was then a psychology undergraduate and a volunteer at Tindar. They have been close friends ever since.

Milkman started coming regularly to Iceland and giving talks. These talks, and Tindar, attracted the attention of a young researcher at the University of Iceland, called Inga Dóra Sigfúsdóttir. She wondered: what if you could use healthy alternatives to drugs and alcohol as part of a programme not to treat kids with problems, but to stop kids drinking or taking drugs in the first place?

© Dave Imms

Have you ever tried alcohol? If so, when did you last have a drink? Have you ever been drunk? Have you tried cigarettes? If so, how often do you smoke? How much time do you spend with your parents? Do you have a close relationship with your parents? What kind of activities do you take part in?

In 1992, 14-, 15- and 16-year-olds in every school in Iceland filled in a questionnaire with these kinds of questions. This process was then repeated in 1995 and 1997.

The results of these surveys were alarming. Nationally, almost 25 per cent were smoking every day, over 40 per cent had got drunk in the past month. But when the team drilled right down into the data, they could identify precisely which schools had the worst problems – and which had the least. Their analysis revealed clear differences between the lives of kids who took up drinking, smoking and other drugs, and those who didn’t. A few factors emerged as strongly protective: participation in organised activities – especially sport – three or four times a week, total time spent with parents during the week, feeling cared about at school, and not being outdoors in the late evenings.

“At that time, there had been all kinds of substance prevention efforts and programmes,” says Inga Dóra, who was a research assistant on the surveys. “Mostly they were built on education.” Kids were being warned about the dangers of drink and drugs, but, as Milkman had observed in the US, these programmes were not working. “We wanted to come up with a different approach.”

The mayor of Reykjavik, too, was interested in trying something new, and many parents felt the same, adds Jón Sigfússon, Inga Dóra’s colleague and brother. Jón had young daughters at the time and joined her new Icelandic Centre for Social Research and Analysis when it was set up in 1999. “The situation was bad,” he says. “It was obvious something had to be done.”

Using the survey data and insights from research including Milkman’s, a new national plan was gradually introduced. It was called Youth in Iceland.

Laws were changed. It became illegal to buy tobacco under the age of 18 and alcohol under the age of 20, and tobacco and alcohol advertising was banned. Links between parents and school were strengthened through parental organisations which by law had to be established in every school, along with school councils with parent representatives. Parents were encouraged to attend talks on the importance of spending a quantity of time with their children rather than occasional “quality time”, on talking to their kids about their lives, on knowing who their kids were friends with, and on keeping their children home in the evenings.

A law was also passed prohibiting children aged between 13 and 16 from being outside after 10pm in winter and midnight in summer. It’s still in effect today.

Home and School, the national umbrella body for parental organisations, introduced agreements for parents to sign. The content varies depending on the age group, and individual organisations can decide what they want to include. For kids aged 13 and up, parents can pledge to follow all the recommendations, and also, for example, not to allow their kids to have unsupervised parties, not to buy alcohol for minors, and to keep an eye on the wellbeing of other children.

These agreements educate parents but also help to strengthen their authority in the home, argues Hrefna Sigurjónsdóttir, director of Home and School. “Then it becomes harder to use the oldest excuse in the book: ‘But everybody else can!’”

State funding was increased for organised sport, music, art, dance and other clubs, to give kids alternative ways to feel part of a group, and to feel good, rather than through using alcohol and drugs, and kids from low-income families received help to take part. In Reykjavik, for instance, where more than a third of the country’s population lives, a Leisure Card gives families 35,000 krona (£250) per year per child to pay for recreational activities.

Crucially, the surveys have continued. Each year, almost every child in Iceland completes one. This means up-to-date, reliable data is always available.

Between 1997 and 2012, the percentage of kids aged 15 and 16 who reported often or almost always spending time with their parents on weekdays doubled – from 23 per cent to 46 per cent – and the percentage who participated in organised sports at least four times a week increased from 24 per cent to 42 per cent. Meanwhile, cigarette smoking, drinking and cannabis use in this age group plummeted.

© Dave Imms

“Although this cannot be shown in the form of a causal relationship – which is a good example of why primary prevention methods are sometimes hard to sell to scientists – the trend is very clear,” notes Álfgeir Kristjánsson, who worked on the data and is now at the West Virginia University School of Public Health in the US. “Protective factors have gone up, risk factors down, and substance use has gone down – and more consistently in Iceland than in any other European country.”

§

Jón Sigfússon apologies for being just a couple of minutes late. “I was on a crisis call!” He prefers not to say precisely to where, but it was to one of the cities elsewhere in the world that has now adopted, in part, the Youth in Iceland ideas.

Youth in Europe, which Jón heads, began in 2006 after the already-remarkable Icelandic data was presented at a European Cities Against Drugs meeting and, he recalls, “People asked: what are you doing?”

Participation in Youth in Europe is at a municipal level rather than being led by national governments. In the first year, there were eight municipalities. To date, 35 have taken part, across 17 countries, varying from some areas where just a few schools take part to Tarragona in Spain, where 4,200 15-year-olds are involved. The method is always the same: Jón and his team talk to local officials and devise a questionnaire with the same core questions as those used in Iceland plus any locally tailored extras. For example, online gambling has recently emerged as a big problem in a few areas, and local officials want to know if it’s linked to other risky behaviour.

Just two months after the questionnaires are returned to Iceland, the team sends back an initial report with the results, plus information on how they compare with other participating regions. “We always say that, like vegetables, information has to be fresh,” says Jón. “If you bring these findings a year later, people would say, Oh, this was a long time ago and maybe things have changed…” As well as fresh, it has to be local so that schools, parents and officials can see exactly what problems exist in which areas.

The team has analysed 99,000 questionnaires from places as far afield as the Faroe Islands, Malta and Romania – as well as South Korea and, very recently, Nairobi and Guinea-Bissau. Broadly, the results show that when it comes to teen substance use, the same protective and risk factors identified in Iceland apply everywhere. There are some differences: in one location (in a country “on the Baltic Sea”), participation in organised sport actually emerged as a risk factor. Further investigation revealed that this was because young ex-military men who were keen on muscle-building drugs, drinking and smoking were running the clubs. Here, then, was a well-defined, immediate, local problem that could be addressed.

While Jón and his team offer advice and information on what has been found to work in Iceland, it’s up to individual communities to decide what to do in the light of their results. Occasionally, they do nothing. One predominantly Muslim country, which he prefers not to identify, rejected the data because it revealed an unpalatable level of alcohol consumption. In other cities – such as the origin of Jón’s “crisis call” – there is an openness to the data and there is money, but he has observed that it can be much more difficult to secure and maintain funding for health prevention strategies than for treatments.

No other country has made changes on the scale seen in Iceland. When asked if anyone has copied the laws to keep children indoors in the evening, Jón smiles. “Even Sweden laughs and calls it the child curfew!”

© Dave Imms

Across Europe, rates of teen alcohol and drug use have generally improved over the past 20 years, though nowhere as dramatically as in Iceland, and the reasons for improvements are not necessarily linked to strategies that foster teen wellbeing. In the UK, for example, the fact that teens are now spending more time at home interacting online rather than in person could be one of the major reasons for the drop in alcohol consumption.

But Kaunas, in Lithuania, is one example of what can happen through active intervention. Since 2006, the city has administered the questionnaires five times, and schools, parents, healthcare organisations, churches, the police and social services have come together to try to improve kids’ wellbeing and curb substance use. For instance, parents get eight or nine free parenting sessions each year, and a new programme provides extra funding for public institutions and NGOs working in mental health promotion and stress management. In 2015, the city started offering free sports activities on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and there are plans to introduce a free ride service for low-income families, to help kids who don’t live close to the facilities to attend.

Between 2006 and 2014, the number of 15- and 16-year-olds in Kaunas who reported getting drunk in the past 30 days fell by about a quarter, and daily smoking fell by more than 30 per cent.

At the moment, participation in Youth in Europe is a haphazard affair, and the team in Iceland is small. Jón would like to see a centralised body with its own dedicated funding to focus on the expansion of Youth in Europe. “Even though we have been doing this for ten years, it is not our full, main job. We would like somebody to copy this and maintain it all over Europe,” he says. “And why only Europe?”

§

After our walk through Laugardalur Park, Gudberg Jónsson invites us back to his home. Outside, in the garden, his two elder sons, Jón Konrád, who’s 21, and Birgir Ísar, who’s 15, talk to me about drinking and smoking. Jón does drink alcohol, but Birgir says he doesn’t know anyone at his school who smokes or drinks. We also talk about football training: Birgir trains five or six times a week; Jón, who is in his first year of a business degree at the University of Iceland, trains five times a week. They both started regular after-school training when they were six years old.

“We have all these instruments at home,” their father told me earlier. “We tried to get them into music. We used to have a horse. My wife is really into horse riding. But it didn’t happen. In the end, soccer was their selection.”

Did it ever feel like too much? Was there pressure to train when they’d rather have been doing something else? “No, we just had fun playing football,” says Birgir. Jón adds, “We tried it and got used to it, and so we kept on doing it.”

© Dave Imms

It’s not all they do. While Gudberg and his wife Thórunn don’t consciously plan for a certain number of hours each week with their three sons, they do try to take them regularly to the movies, the theatre, restaurants, hiking, fishing and, when Iceland’s sheep are brought down from the highlands each September, even on family sheep-herding outings.

Jón and Birgir may be exceptionally keen on football, and talented (Jón has been offered a soccer scholarship to the Metropolitan State University of Denver, and a few weeks after we meet, Birgir is selected to play for the under-17 national team). But could the significant rise in the percentage of kids who take part in organised sport four or more times a week be bringing benefits beyond raising healthier children?

Could it, for instance, have anything to do with Iceland’s crushing defeat of England in the Euro 2016 football championship? When asked, Inga Dóra Sigfúsdóttir, who was voted Woman of the Year in Iceland in 2016, smiles: “There is also the success in music, like Of Monsters and Men [an indie folk-pop group from Reykjavik]. These are young people who have been pushed into organised work. Some people have thanked me,” she says, with a wink.

Elsewhere, cities that have joined Youth in Europe are reporting other benefits. In Bucharest, for example, the rate of teen suicides is dropping alongside use of drink and drugs. In Kaunas, the number of children committing crimes dropped by a third between 2014 and 2015.

As Inga Dóra says: “We learned through the studies that we need to create circumstances in which kids can lead healthy lives, and they do not need to use substances, because life is fun, and they have plenty to do – and they are supported by parents who will spend time with them.”

When it comes down to it, the messages – if not necessarily the methods – are straightforward. And when he looks at the results, Harvey Milkman thinks of his own country, the US. Could the Youth in Iceland model work there, too?

§

Three hundred and twenty-five million people versus 330,000. Thirty-three thousand gangs versus virtually none. Around 1.3 million homeless young people versus a handful.

Clearly, the US has challenges that Iceland does not. But the data from other parts of Europe, including cities such as Bucharest with major social problems and relative poverty, shows that the Icelandic model can work in very different cultures, Milkman argues. And the need in the US is high: underage drinking accounts for about 11 per cent of all alcohol consumed nationwide, and excessive drinking causes more than 4,300 deaths among under-21 year olds every year.

A national programme along the lines of Youth in Iceland is unlikely to be introduced in the US, however. One major obstacle is that while in Iceland there is long-term commitment to the national project, community health programmes in the US are usually funded by short-term grants.

Milkman has learned the hard way that even widely applauded, gold-standard youth programmes aren’t always expanded, or even sustained. “With Project Self-Discovery, it seemed like we had the best programme in the world,” he says. “I was invited to the White House twice. It won national awards. I was thinking: this will be replicated in every town and village. But it wasn’t.”

He thinks that is because you can’t prescribe a generic model to every community because they don’t all have the same resources. Any move towards giving kids in the US the opportunities to participate in the kinds of activities now common in Iceland, and so helping them to stay away from alcohol and other drugs, will depend on building on what already exists. “You have to rely on the resources of the community,” he says.

His colleague Álfgeir Kristjánsson is introducing the Icelandic ideas to the state of West Virginia. Surveys are being given to kids at several middle and high schools in the state, and a community coordinator will help get the results out to parents and anyone else who could use them to help local kids. But it might be difficult to achieve the kinds of results seen in Iceland, he concedes.

Short-termism also impedes effective prevention strategies in the UK, says Michael O’Toole, CEO of Mentor, a charity that works to reduce alcohol and drug misuse in children and young people. Here, too, there is no national coordinated alcohol and drug prevention programme. It’s generally left to local authorities or to schools, which can often mean kids are simply given information about the dangers of drugs and alcohol – a strategy that, he agrees, evidence shows does not work.

O’Toole fully endorses the Icelandic focus on parents, school and the community all coming together to help support kids, and on parents or carers being engaged in young people’s lives. Improving support for kids could help in so many ways, he stresses. Even when it comes just to alcohol and smoking, there is plenty of data to show that the older a child is when they have their first drink or cigarette, the healthier they will be over the course of their life.

© Dave Imms

But not all the strategies would be acceptable in the UK – the child curfews being one, parental walks around neighbourhoods to identify children breaking the rules perhaps another. And a trial run by Mentor in Brighton that involved inviting parents into schools for workshops found that it was difficult to get them engaged.

Public wariness and an unwillingness to engage will be challenges wherever the Icelandic methods are proposed, thinks Milkman, and go to the heart of the balance of responsibility between states and citizens. “How much control do you want the government to have over what happens with your kids? Is this too much of the government meddling in how people live their lives?”

In Iceland, the relationship between people and the state has allowed an effective national programme to cut the rates of teenagers smoking and drinking to excess – and, in the process, brought families closer and helped kids to become healthier in all kinds of ways. Will no other country decide these benefits are worth the costs?

I like all of it, but I think especially the concious commitment parent make to make sure that kids don’t partake in drugging or drinking so kids can’t say: “But everybody does it.”

I am happy that I quit. Hope you are happy that you quit too. 🙂

I passed my probation time and the tax audit. Which is good. 🙂

xx, Feeling

World of hurt

New jobs are tough. New jobs and saying goodbye to a lost love is double tough. The thought ‘I am gonna fucking drink this all away.’ popped up. So, time to write and sort stuff out. What is in the way, is The Way and whatever it takes is what it takes. 😦 Not enjoying this road down into the darkness of loss and loneliness. And then again: if I am not enjoying this? Why am I here, looking at it? Energy flows where attention goes. I mean, I might as well go do something nice which brings me pleasure, not? 🙂  Yeah, that would be a good idea. 🙂 Not there yet though. Guess I always need to go through the dark stuff in order to work in out. Here goes the rollercoaster on its way down. Not promising a way up but let’s see if I can get there. 🙂

So, what happened? I’m in a new job where I need to get the company ready for a certification and the general quality of the staff who actually needs to bring a certain quality of produce is lower than I had expected. So I consulted with my boss to get two of my former collegues in; the nice guy and his collegue friend. Both of them get on very well together, are good workforce, likeable and communicate well at the workfloor. And… more importantly: they had been talking about leaving and wanting to get away continuously for a year so I thought they were interested in a new function. The nice guy even asked me for a job when I told him where I worked. However, my boss’ firm also supplies the holding of my former employer so… we can not make it too obvious, that would be unpolite-ish. I sent a Facebook message to both ex-collegues to check out a vacancy site and to call me after. Can’t make it too obvious because of the damage my old boss could do to my new boss. The vacancy description was vague in order not to alert my former company. And then the guys never called. And they did not read my next message checking up on them. I phoned the nice guy on the number he had left me to be a reference and somebody with  another name picked up. In the conversation that followed I noticed that the person picking up was very drunk and possibly stoned too because way out there and very giggly and sluggish speach. I could not make out if it was the nice guy or not. I can not imagine him giving me the wrong number for a reference. I can imagine him being totally angry with me, specifically after what follows:

Last night I dreamed that the nice guy met. He and I have been in love with eachother on and off over the last year but it never connected because of my doubts, his doubts and the scary boss combined. Everybody tried to put us together, both male and female collegues and the boss. After a while he reacted with anger and despise to that, towards me, I felt that he was reacting to the confusion. But maybe he did indeed despise me. Dunno. And then he would turn around and be ultra nice again. Confusing and painfull but I had other things on my mind: surviving my boss sober. Well, last night I dreamed that we saw each other today and that we did not speak because he thought that I thought that he was not good enough for me blablablabla. And I was too flabbergasted to say something, felt unwanted and denied. It left me crying when waking up. Being dream-met with despise and doubt was hurtful.

Today I left work early. On my way home on my bike the nice guy was oncoming traffic on the bike path. I could not believe the strange world I was travelling in. I mean, Amsterdam is not big, it is a 1.000.000 people village but to meet somebody? On that stretch we have a 10 second window to actually meet eachtother. His workinghours are normally way later. The ‘nice’ guy saw me and turned even darker than his mood was / looks already were. Shit he looked bad; all bloated and at least 10 kilo’s heavier than I had last seen him. And dark, dark, dark, brooding, in psychological pain, haunted, angry. He did not say anything. He did not stop. I only looked at him in a sort of neutral face, not smiling, just being internally checking myself if I was still sane. This strange mix up of the dream world with the daily world was confusing. Seeing him and his face turning angry was very hurtful. When I came home I unfriended both ex-collegues on Facebook. And now I am sad. Having difficulty holding myself together. Falling apart here. The betrayal is big.

The above happen last Friday.

Useless inbetween story: The other day I had dreamed of the bookstoreman and he became oncomming traffic too. He ignored me too. It is a strange world in which I travel. You know, I have been wishing that things would become clear, would unfold. That I would get proof of the weirdness of my life, of the energetic connection between people. That it is indeed possible to communicate ‘through the air’ (yes this is getting even more weird ;-)) with people as I have suspected all my life. At the evening I met the bookstoreman I biked through Amsterdam deciding ‘on feel’ what route to take to the place where I need to go and then, like a sniffer dog, bike into the person I was looking for. I was so sure I would meet him I had taken the books I still ow him. I don’t know where he lives or works or, well. I do not know anything about him since a year. But it is possible. I know, that is why it is happening. And fuck they don’t give a shit. That is also possible unfortunately. 😦

I am guessing that this is a point where I could go insane or possibly move into a psychoses or so. Well, that’s how it feels. And sorry to be putting these vague experiences onto you. This is where I am logging my experiences on the strange road to clarity and through the dark fields that sobriety can bring. The weirdness of these happenings have a cross over quality of the dream state into the daily state. And I guess it is true that there is much more ‘out there’ and possible. Not sure how to incorperate it into my own life without having the feeling I am losing my sanity. Worrying about that makes turns up the pressure by the way. Better to sit back and see where it takes me without opinion, without wanting to pin it down. But that scares me. The tendency to judge, to have an opinion has the function to make life comprehendable but it also limits the experience, cuts it off, breaks it into pieces which can be judged and clung to instead of giving myself the ability to see the whole, overwhelming, picture. I wish I had somebody who could help me with this.

I am so sad. I feel despised and I have no clue as to why. Why ask me to put in a word with the boss and then not react to a vacancy? Why not contact me? Why pass me by while looking me right in the face. What the fuck did I do?! Or maybe; what the fuck did my boss tell him. There’s also a possiblity. Or maybe he is not really happy that I move on and make more money than he does now. He often told me that he feels like a loser who has done bad with his life and career. I don’t know and there is little use trying to work out why and what and try to think for him. Need to let go.

So, again, I have proven that I fall for guys who do not like me. Fuck this hurts. Fuckerthefuckfuckfuck. Well, no fuck, that’s the problem. :-/ Sigh. Funny thing; why, if I think to, at times, have the ability to open up to another experience world where things like biking through town and meeting the person you were looking for, do I not ‘imagine’ that to be somebody who likes me. 😀 Ghegheghe… funny, not? I don’t think it works that way; it is not me sending these guys to meet me. It is me opening up to the energy of these people and energetically sniffing them out in another plane. I do not think it is such a strange thing to do. Not sure if that means I am crazy or just have a different experience.

I dislike having to sort issues like this out in my probation time. In the 2 weeks I have been in this firm I have built up a 160 item to do list. The consultants guiding the company through the process doubt if we can make the certification in such a short period but my boss has committed himself to the shareholders and some important big new clients. I have been stepping up to meet the expectations of this job in these 2 weeks. I feel like I have only done a tiny percentage of what I have to do. Every day I grow in the way I conduct myself, the way I organise, in the 3 kilo procedures and legislations I read, the new software I study, the abbreviations. Every day I bike the 20-25 minutes home and try to relax and put it out of my head. I realise that I feel insufficient, always have. That I think I need to make up for some failing I have. That I am never good enough. That someday people will find out and hang me.

The other day I thought that with being sober for more than 2 years at a first try, I now belong the the 1% of people who actually did that. I am not proud because I know I had to otherwise I would be dead. So, I mean, that’s not really a choice is it? Then this 1% combined with another thought where I once did a nationwide schooltest and scored a 99% score. That meant that only 1% of the kids of that year in the Netherlands scored better than I did. I came home and at proudly telling this to my parents my fathers first reaction was; “Yeah, I always thought that you lacked something” – can’t remember the exact words. They cut deep. The other day I tried to think myself complete by adding the 1% to the 99%.

I don’t want this life anymore. I find it too difficult to be me. Not sure how other people do that; be them. It hurts. Things hurt and I have no clue as to find what I am looking for. I always feel incomplete. Broken. The book on the lost twins described that nicely how people who have lost a twin keep on treating every person they meet as their lost twin: trying to connect at hearts level. I do that. I get personel even before I know your name, well sort of but yeah, almost literally. I open up like we have know eachother for 20 years. All in the search for that what I feel I am missing. The rest of me.

Somehow the thought of being in a relation gives me the idea of being whole. But I know from experience that this is not so. It does not take long for me to feel locked up in a relation. So many things I do not understand about life. I see a lot of people who are in a relation and miserable. Sometimes I think I would prefer that. I know it takes me 5 minutes of that misery to realise that I don’t.

Loneliness, it is the longing version of being alone. We have needs and we have desires. Loneliness as I have the longing version after somebody who is obviously not into me is the desire version. It is like addiction. I had the need to relax, wind down and hurt less and I desired alcohol.

Ok, now to get out all the nastyness out of my system: it has taken me exactly 2 weeks to fall in love with my new boss. (yes, go ahead, unfriend this miserable moaning blog, I think I would… literally). Which is one of the reasons why I felt so much in need of the nice guy because that would be a good distraction. Not? Whoops, so much for ‘love’; “I am in love with somebody else which is unsuitable, yet again, but you can serve as a nice distraction.” Gosh. You! Yeah you reading this: when in a relation, stick with what you have. It is messy out here. 😀

Sigh. My god, how did I ever survive me? Ooh yeah, I did not. I drank. Ok, so currently I am ‘only’ sorting out what I should have learned as a teenager. Double sigh. Tripple sigh. {Insert harsh language of your liking} {Repeat}

Notice how my post get erratic and long now I did not meditate for a week? I find that interesting.

It is Monday today, spoke with my new boss. He had received a call from my former boss about not taking her staff on last Thursday. Guess that explains why the ‘nice’ guy did not speak with me. Somehow it came out somewhere. Not sure how. I guess I will never know because ‘nice’ guys is not going to tell me I guess. Lucky me I have a conversation online where he asks me for a job and yes I will show that to my new boss. Shit this hurts and it is no way I would like  to start a new job but I guess if one does something which is not 100% kosher the results will be as unsavery.

My boss informed me that he did not want to tell me my former boss had called. I was so shaken that I left it at that. He very much dislikes her, he used to work with her and actually finds her very unlikable. 😦 Boss gossip.

Back to Sunday. Yesterday I called my sister in law, we had video contact and her 12 year old son walks into the conversation saying something. I did not reply immediately at which he replied: “Are you traumatised now?! Dad says you are traumatised soooo easily.” At which my SIL sort of starts laughing in a ‘this is funny but you are not supposed to say that’ and (so?) he repeats; “Yes! That says that you are soooo easily traumatised, he does!” At which he started laughing. I unplugged Facebook and shut down both my phones immediately. I have deleted all messenges since without reading or listening and I have replied to them today that I do not want contact. To hear this demeaning comments about the man who in his earlier year egged on his friends to assault me, threaten me, rape me, who put a knife to my throat, who lied about everything to my parents, who did not object if anybody made untrue comments or statements about any of it. Who stood by chuckling at my powerlessness during all this. I had no response. Still do not. My SIL made the same ‘let’s not take this serious’ kind of noises which were so very, very familiar. I was afraid of this coming up. This remark about being traumatised has run through conversations earlier, the kids fence with it whenever I comment on them being insensitive about something. My brother has mentioned it earlier.

Not sure when there is an end to the pain.Guess there will be because there always is at some point.

I am happy that I quit. If I had not I am pretty sure I would have killed myself over this. This backstabbing from various directions all at the same time. 😦

I have learned by now that pain goes away after a while. That I need to take care of me. That no matter what I always have myself. It is a lonely disposition. Currently I prefer it to people. However I did call friends to speak with. And one of them even said: how good of you to call, this is different from where you came from. 🙂 So I guess that is progress. :-/

I find it difficult to concentrate at work. 😦 And my to do list has gotten up to 165 items in these 2 weeks that I work there. All items are tasks of at least 2 hours. One could call it job security. I feel insecure wether I can actually do this. Scared that my former boss spoke ill of me about this. Off to bed. Need to be sharp tomorrow. A woman who loves herself would love herself and not run for the pain, acknowledge it but possibly not make it my dayjob. I have another dayjob. Need to get through my probation time.

I am happy that I quit. 🙂 No spellcheck, off to bed.

xx, Feeling

28 month sober – 1 week new job

Just wanted to post this because it somehow very much reminds me of my life.

Work is good, I am happy that I quit because I could never ever have done this job while drinking. My boss told me yesterday that he was very, very, very happy that he had hired me. I guess that is a compliment which also stretches out to me. 🙂 So that is good.

He has the same name as the nice guy I fell in love with at my former workplace. Sigh. And then the gods started playing with my head by sending in 2 other guys with the same name this week. So every morning I meditate and in that meditation discover if and how I am attached to the nice guy and let it go. In that letting go, which actually looks a LOT like what I did while quitting drinking, I realise that I am alone and can stand on my own two feet. Also: that the sort of addictive way I have in dealing with guys is, well, addictive. It is mist I create to not be clear, a ‘get away’ from what is. And the funny thing is: when I cut all these energetic threads I actually feel better so I do not understand the ‘need’ for it. Apart from me having an addictive personality and having difficulty with being at ease. 😀

So yeah, happy that I quit. Spending Christmas on my own. Need to really take 100% care of me and me said: not going to visit the family because I don’t feel like it and I need all my energy to cope with this new function. It has nothing to do with the function before. I did half a day of production work this week, just to get an idea. The rest was office/procedures/speaking with consultants on the trajectory we’re setting up. Not sure if we will get the certification.

From what I have learned discipline and procedures need to be way tighter than they are in this new factory. Which is why I asked my boss to set out a vacancy to try get two of the employees from my former work in the company. It is a bit tricky: that would be almost half of the former companies staff and the former company is a customer of my current company so… tricky. But then again, these guys have been looking for an opportunity to leave and now it is here. Not sure if they will follow, I have the feeling things have changed there since I left. But is would be good. Would safe me a LOT of work in training and get them the job they were looking for, not sure if they like the colleagues though, the whole company is so diverse that about 20% speaks Dutch, 30% English and the rest something Englishlike or another European language. German I speak, Spanish I can follow to understanding what it is about, Italian a little less but Polish? Pfff…. Not sure if it is going to work, my intentions are not entirely selfish so I feel I am being manipulative so, well, that is never good.

My head/concussion has not been bothering me but I need to really take it easy in the evening, back to having no evening appointments otherwise ‘the light turns off’ in my head. Lucky me: I have flexible working hours! And a day extra to spend because I started working a day before my contract started, and… a 36 hour workweek. So! Hey! I can sort of have 7 hour workdays and that = good for me. Still I have about 4 kilo of certification procedures to read over Christmas, getting paid for it though, not gonna do free overtime for this salary. He’s got my consultancy brain for 500 more than a production worker. Well, I should have stood up when he offhandely offered that. In hindsight it was sooo clear that he was open to negotiating. Ghegheghe…. my head was somewhere else: can I do this job, is it not too early, is it not too difficult? Actually I’m fine with the salary. I also realise that I do have to really keep a tight grip on my priorities and focus otherwise I will drown in the procedures, rules and fear of not being able to do it.

Just now that I am writing it has turned the 25th of December and I am 28 months sober. Happy that I quit. With the meditating I experience a lot of progress again in myself, I needed that, I was getting worried about the lack of clarity I was experiencing, the addictive mind was looking too much for distraction. I meditate till my mind is still and then a little longer. I got into a daily routine, then the job happened and now I need to incorporate this routine in my every days schedule again. Working on it. 🙂

Sending holiday greetings from The Netherlands. I am happy that I quit. I am happy that you quit. If you did not, I would really appreciate if you will consider quitting (again).

Now that I am back in a job which is more at my level I am feeling less ashamed about my drinking and what I ruined with that. Still pissed off about wasting away a lot of money by not working and living of my savings/inheritance. I have difficulty looking that in they eye. 😦 I actually feel I can only be totally cleaned of ‘this’ when I earn back that money. I am thinking this prolonged shame is something which going through the 12 steps might change. But I am not ready to let go, know that too. I feel the shame is some sort of ‘security blanket’ in a negative way. Well, by the time it is time to let go, it will go. 🙂

xx, Feeling

Journey To Being Alcohol Free – K.B.’s My Naked Life Story — This Naked Mind

I found this a beautiful post about mindset and drinking.

Figuring out that our relationship with alcohol isn’t healthy might not be the hardest part. The journey to being alcohol free can be a story of try, try and try again. K.B.’s Naked Life story is about not giving up and finally finding freedom that will last. Do I Have A Problem? I want to…

via Journey To Being Alcohol Free – K.B.’s My Naked Life Story — This Naked Mind

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First day new job

Gheghe, I have 4 draft posts on ‘first day new job’ since it was last week. Never finished them because too exited. I am process coördinator now in the same branch with the same product as I was in. Actually I have moved to the chique big brother of the former company. Last week was my first day and today my second. It is all pretty overwhelming because I came in at the beginning of the introduction of a new process and I am the one who needs to roll it out in the company supported by two external consultants.

Last Thursday was my first day, Friday was tax check day where the tax office was doing a semi standard check on my admin over 2014. Not sure what the outcome is yet. If it is bad I might have to pay back a money. We will see. I was so stressed out I could not move for several days. This total freeze is my go to mode. However I did manage to do some meditating as well and that helped a little. I could now see it happening in stead of being caught up in it 100%, so I guess there is some ‘space’ developing.

I think I should check out how I spent the first days of my former job because I have been freaking out ever so now and then. Yesterday night I was convinced that I would be fired today. I was totally out of control panicky. However again there was a little space for ‘reality’ (?) because I assumed that I was in panick mode and could take a tiny, tiny little distance. It took me 2 hours to fall asleep and I woke up several times. I remembered from when I worked as an employee, before I started my own business that in a lot of nights, specifically Sunday nights I would not sleep well, freak out of things I was sure  I could not do. I assign a lot of my serious drinking to that feeling, I would on weekdays, drink an average amount, not to get drunk but to be able to sleep.

Again, I guess what is in the way is The Way; so now it is time to learn about this insecurity and related panick. I am not joking when I say: that at those moments I would rather not be alive. Would be a bad joke anyway, but it is not a joke. No idea where it comes from apart from not being able to deal with insecurity, failure and ‘not being good enough’.

I remember I always had this reaction to having to do something I thought I could not. This immensely overwhelming fear of failure. It is a very unpleasant even to think of it. And in these modes it is very difficult to do what a woman who loves herself would do because the first thought is to assume that I do not have rights to loving myself. 😦

I am happy that I quit because yesterday I could realise that I was in a freeze instead of only being frozen and I have taken deliberate action to get me out of that freeze. Only worked for seconds but hey, Rome was not built in one day and learning to bike also took me several days, so continue. What is in the way is The Way.

Today I will take better care though and go to bed in time. 🙂

I wish you all a very nice sober day / evening.

xx, Feeling

Spoke with my neigbour on drinking

I have a neighbour, she is wildly fantastic but she drinks like crazy. I am afraid I can say her out of touch drinking actually kept me going too because ‘she was really addicted’ and ‘in comparison I am pretty much ok’. And STILL I have the urge to tell you how much she drank and how this was x more than I did. :-/

This morning at 12:00 she came up the stairs telling me my cat wanted to get inside. She had already been drinking then and stumbling over her tongue. 2 Hours later I had to return some borrowed tools to her boyfriend and we ended up talking like we used to do. We look a lot alike: very open, on the surface there is not a lot to hide. We came to speak about drinking, she knew from drunk nights years ago that I thought I had to quit. And she knew that I had quit so now she asked me how long I had not been drinking. I replied that this was more than 2 years. She’s a party girl so she thinks life without drinking is very boring. I don’t know, it can be for her. I told her that I actually enjoy my life way better and that the more intense experiences and better and opener contact I have with friends and family help me in life. It makes me feel better.

Dunno, we spoke, she told what bothered her, I spoke of the ‘door to Lalaland’ of which we had broken the hinged by overusing the door. She liked that. I guess by now I realise that I should have listened more to her worries about not drinking. I did not push anything on her. By now I know that people only quit when it is their time. The best friend of her boyfriend died last week age 40 because of an acute liver failure. They process this by drinking. I would have. I am happy that I do not do this anymore.

Well, to me I am VERY HAPPY that I did not in one second feel the urge to convert her and for me that is a BIG win. 🙂 I guess for the world too. 🙂

Currently staying up late because I don’t want to go to bed because I don’t want to have to deal with tomorrow. Tomorrow brings a day where I need to de prep work for the tax check on my admin over the year 2014. 🙂 These inability to deal with adult issues. Ghegheghe. Well, I did make some improvement because over the last 2 weeks I have been meditating every morning for about 20 minutes and today I even did some yoga. That has been ages ago. And… surprise: I felt SO MUCH better. Just some easy bends and stretches, nothing fancy but very good. And a little confronting to realise how much I have let myself go. I have built up a lot of muscle in my former job but only legs, back, shoulders and arms. I did let my belly go. 🙂 So belly practice it is.

Ooh, you won’t believe what relieve I feel over actually having a job. And OBVIOUSLY I would not be me if I did not go out to spoil that relieve by saying ‘its not signed yet’. While meditating in the morning these thought obviously come up and then I let them go. As one yoga teacher once said: “Like ships on the horizon: you watch them but do not get attached, they show up and they disappear and it has nothing to do with you.” I think learning to do this is an important ability in life. This is how I dealt with cravings and how I looked at the different types of traps which could lead to drinking when reading the Jason Vale book on quitting drinking. Read the text and feel where it connects to me. Not sure how to explain that well. Anyway, I feel the meditating makes me more stable and less rollercoaster. Why did I not do this before??

Ok, bedtime. 🙂 I wish you a beautiful sober week filled with experiences which help you along on your path. I am very happy that I quit.

I am thankful for; my body which responds so clearly and joyfully to some yoga action, which, while walking in the supermarket now tells me very clearly what supermarket racks not to even go to because it only shelves rubbish food and which houses my soul in this world. Not sure why yet but I guess that it is good and there because it so. 🙂

No spellcheck. Off to bed here.

xx, Feeling