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  1. #1
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    Default Relapse Dreams. What SMART means to me.

    What SMART Means To Me

    I have relapse dreams a lot. I just had one this morning when I kept hitting the snooze button on my alarm clock. I had set it to 4 am so I could attend the 5 am UK meeting (I’m from Canada GMT time). I did not make the mtg My relapse dreams are just an annoying symptom of not drinking but to me they are important and I’m so glad I have them. The dreams “play the tape to the end” for me. I was at Walmart last night and in the same mall there is a bar and they were playing a live band and I could hear it from the parking lot. Instant feeling of euphoria of past parties at bars. Dancing, laughing and flirting. Self-confidence in a bottle. Then I imagine the AFTER. Oh what a nightmare! Stopped me cold.


    There’s also the neurological aspect of it and that explains the urges or the relapse dreams. There are actual physical neural pathways in our brain we make with repeated habits or thoughts and for me, finding that out was a relief because it explained so much. This is a visual I use frequently to explain a neural pathway –>Think of a steel cable. Steel cables are made up of individual wires that together form an nearly unbreakable rope of steel. The cable starts with one string and more strings are added to form a thick rope of steel. With each repeated though or behavior I strengthen that neural pathway. I took my first drink at 12 years of age. Though I didn't really start partying until I was 14 and binge drinking on weekends by age 15. Each time I took a drink another wire was added. Now that I am a non-drinker a new pathway in my brain is formed. The old one is still there but a steel wire breaks off and connects/appears in the new thought with the root of the steel still attached to the old thought. I imagine the sound a broken wire that unravels makes (think of movie sounds of one steel wire breaking off). After awhile it weakens until it's just a strand that will be there forever. Another visual I have is computer programming language. Using computer language to determine the direction of where you want the command you input to go. This is what SMART tools are, commands for your brain. In the Firefox browser at the very top left hand corner, hit Tools–>Web developer–>Page source. All that computer language to explain one web page! I have a very active imagination and tend to think in visuals especially destructive imagery. Though I am getting better at positive imagery. DISARM DISARM DISARM (Destructive Imagery and Self-talk Awareness and Refusal Method). Also the ABC's are a life changer.


    Typing this reminds me of how difficult it can be to believe in choice. Despite knowing the scientific part, I have these annoying roadblocks called emotions. I tend to go on Emotional Reasoning–>”I feel it therefore it must be true!” Emotional Reasoning is my downfall. ex) I feel like a loser therefore I must be a loser. Irrational thinking at it’s best. Quitting smoking is my latest project and I’m having a hard time forming the thought of being a non-smoker. My emotions are so all over the place with it. It’s driving me batty! (therefore I must be batty. LOL) my self-deprecating joke at myself. Too funny and ironic. Another project I have on-going is over-eating. I’m going through the defiant stage. Knowing medically and scientifically of what negative impact it does to my mind and body but still do it anyways! I replaced the drinking with eating. Yuck.

    The Stages of Change has 6 different parts to it www.smartrecovery.org/resources/library/Articles_and_Essays/Stages_of_Change/understanding_stages_of_change.htm . Though I am successful in the alcohol and am in Stage 5, I am in stage 1 or 2 of other issues. Smoking and binge over-eating. Though I have been a binge eater and smoker most of my life. I'm now absorbing how destructive it is. Knowing intellectually about something destructive does not make me stop it, yet.
    Knowing that I was being too hard on myself for not using the tools for every difficulty in my life, and it was a relief to find out that there are different stages to every destructive behavior on separate issues. Though you can get to a place where you absorb the tools totally and that are so ingrained into your subconscious and it works for everything. That is my goal. To reach stage 6. Graduation. Yes folks, there is a graduation stage and it's not a life time commitment to attend SMART classes/meetings forever.


    I do a lot of research myself because knowledge is power. I want to know “the why” as to what makes me tic. Don’t just tell me something and not explain why. Proof. That explains the scientific part of SMART for me. http://www.smartrecovery.org/ “SMART Recovery is the leading self-empowering addiction recovery support group. Our participants learn tools for addiction recovery based on the latest scientific research and participate in a world-wide community which includes free, self-empowering, science-based mutual help groups.” I've been doing research on how the brain works (not an expert) looking at MRI's and reading and looking at videos of the structure of the brain and what each part's function is. MRI of an alcohol filled brain vs one that's not. Or MRI's of what parts of the brain our emotions light up. Oh the destruction the amygdala "flight or fight" response can bring. The many numerous bio-chemical neurotransmitter changes in brain and body. Feel scared and have a lot of anxiety? Run away! Take a drink. This also explains my urges. It's so interesting!

    This is what SMART is to me. I am so grateful I found it. I did a google search for “alternatives to AA” nearly 20 months ago and I have been here ever since. I’m amazed at myself. And happy. And joyful. And like a child, filled with wonder and awe at becoming a believer of the power of choice and that it's not a disease out of my control.

    I have my down times, extreme downs sometimes. Oh the wonderful emotional roller coaster ride of clinical depression. Old behavior: “Alcohol, meet depression, you’ll feel better, really, trust me.” Well duh, yeah! For a short period of time! Acceptance in dealing with the fact I have clinical depression is hard. ABC’s help a A LOT. Without SMART I would have taken that drink automatically to escape it. Which is really backward thinking since alcohol is a chemical depressant. That was my old neural pathway in action. Oh, don't forget anxiety/panic attacks. The wonderful world of anxiety. I rarely have them any more when before I was a bundle of anxiety that seemed to be unceasing.


    I came to SMART originally for alcohol. Now I use the tools for my extreme emotional roller coaster rides to beat it down or at least slow it down to a kiddie roller-coaster ride. Ever been on one at the fair with your kids? Gentle rolling ride but still has scary parts to it. Unlike the adult rides with extreme highs and lows! I know I will have the depression maybe for the rest of my life. It’s such an integrated part of me. Scientifically and genetically proven. They have found a depression gene in our genome DNA strands. Medications help me. But the SMART tools make it easier. Depression is a word thrown around a lot to explain any low mood by everyone but real depression is that, REAL. www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/what-causes-depression.htm. There are a lot of medical research papers you can look up to verify what depression is.

    The people here, "SMARTies", are incredible! The facilitators with their format knowledge and dealing with your DOC (Destruction of Choice) is irreplaceable. Dictionary definition: ir·re·place·able;adjective \-ˈplā-sə-bəl\ : too valuable or rare to be replaced : not replaceable. Sometimes I feel like it's the Oscars, giving out the golden statue to each and every one of them. The epiphanies I get are the greatest. I absolutely love SMART. It has been a life changer. Knowing that I am not the only one going through this and some people having the same reactions about something that I do is invaluable. Or hearing stories of others that make you think "outside the box" to get out of thinking in black and white and into color. Then there is the sense of humor of other "SMARTies" and I find that very joyful. Oh the laughs and jokes I hear! lol To be able to laugh a real laugh again!

    This journey of mine is not "recovery" it's "discovery". There is so much more I can say but I'll leave it at that.



    I just realized I just typed out a book just to explain relapse dreams. Oh well. It is what it is.
    ~~ Choice. What a concept. ~~

  2. #2
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    What a great post lovestorms. I could take your name off and put mine on and it would convey my sentiments almost perfectly. Ain't SMART wonderful?
    "By not caring too much about what people think, I'm able to think for myself ..."- Albert Ellis

  3. #3

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    DOC- Destruction Of Choice. That hit home. I"m going to use that expression for now on. Thanks for a fine post lovestorms.

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    thanks billyt and albertasam thanks for reading my book!
    ~~ Choice. What a concept. ~~

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    'destruction of choice', ha! Nicely worded.
    Wherever you go, there you are

  6. #6
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    Thank you Lovestorms, what a fabulous post! Should be required reading for newcomers. I relate so much with adding depression to the fight against doc, which made the challenge even more daunting. My past included alcohol, but thanks to smart, I have chosen to proceed with a sober lifestyle. Now....... the cigs must go! Best wishes to you.

  7. #7

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    Lovestorms that was exactly what I needed, great post! I'm new to SMART and learning everyday how and what makes me tic. I really thought I was alone in this but see that I am not. Keep up the great work!

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    Quote Originally Posted by lovestorms View Post
    This journey of mine is not "recovery" it's "discovery".
    Hi lovestorms, thank you for writing this. Do you mind if I steal your "recovery" vs "discovery" aspect of being free from destruction of choice? SMART "Discovery" has been my path, so I'm not really stealing. I expect it is for most people here. Thanks for capturing its essence.

    I am I_am_Ned
    I see no reason in what you just wrote to drink

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    Ned, hello! Go right ahead
    Geez and canco hang in there. It really does get better even when it feels like you are making no progress at all.
    ~~ Choice. What a concept. ~~

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    I joined SMART May 4, 2013. I have been DOC free for 21 months having quit on April 11, 2013. I was trying to recall when my stop date was (thinking all this time it was May 11, 2013) but I remember being sober for a few weeks and searching online for another way other than AA. 21 months! Wow. It's been a trip. Keep with it guys. Do not give up on yourself. Life is so much better on the other side.
    ~~ Choice. What a concept. ~~

  11. #11
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    A beautiful post, thank you for sharing. And congratulations!!!

    Mel =)
    I'm not telling you it is going to be easy, I'm telling you it's going to be worth it.

  12. #12

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    Really nice, It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.

  13. #13

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    "Choice. What a concept." I love it -- my posts recently have been dealing with the idea of choice -- an concept that you'd think would be easy, but isn't! But as I begin to realize I really do have choices, I feel better and better. I am a depressive (read the Harvard article) -- so far I'm doing OK. Maybe I can choose not to be depressed?

    Thanks for the great post!

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    The best thing I've ever done for myself was finding SMART. Making choices to change my life around regardless of whether or not I have depression, is the key for me. I was a mess when I got here but I can tell you that I have improved greatly with the depressive cycles by 80%. They are few and far between. When the low moods hit me, I just keep telling myself to wait it out, it will pass. And it's due in a large part of me working the tools. Three cheers for SMART The two tools I'm fond of, that have helped me tremendously are the ABC and DISARM tools to combat negative irrational beliefs. Read the other tools too when you can, there are many that can and do help. And don't be afraid to ask the facilitators and meeting helpers questions if you get stuck. They are the kindest people I have ever met. I wish you well on your journey of discovery. I"m glad you found SMART. Also, it's best to talk to your doctor about your depression because everyone is different and reacts differently. I can't stress that enough. Welcome Rebecca.
    ~~ Choice. What a concept. ~~

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    Lovestorms-
    I just came across this thread. You have a wonderful perspective and imagination. Your imagery really made sense to me. Thank you for being here.

  16. #16

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    Thanks. I needed that!

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    Lovestorms you have done a truly wonderful thing here
    Would you please give me permission to share this post with new members?
    Wonderfully powerful and empowering.
    Thankyou

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    Quote Originally Posted by HughK View Post
    Lovestorms you have done a truly wonderful thing here
    Would you please give me permission to share this post with new members?
    Wonderfully powerful and empowering.
    Thankyou
    Yes, go right ahead. Thanks for the compliment.
    ~~ Choice. What a concept. ~~

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    Wow....I see you wrote this a little while ago and I just found it today. Why did I find it?? Because chat is down and it was ...well they can edit this....pissing me off...so I wandered and found this. Talk about looking for new ways and new things. Have you ever noticed you can drive down the same street and not see the changes that have happened? I have....this was a new way of looking at things for me. Thank you! D

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    Completely what I needed to read. Thank you for your post..

  21. #21
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    You're welcome Welcome to SMART.
    ~~ Choice. What a concept. ~~

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    This post gives very good understanding to me. Thank you for sharing this.

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    Update: I have quit smoking and have been smoke free since the first week of March 2015. Nearly 6 months now!! Yay me!


    Now I'm working on the emotional over-eating. And I still haven't touched a drop of alcohol since April 11, 2013.
    ~~ Choice. What a concept. ~~

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    Fantastic lovestorms
    What got me sober was trying to get sober. Every time I lapsed, picked up, drank, I was thoroughly beaten. I thought at those times "there is no hope for me" Yet, when I had recovered from those thoughts just a little, I thought "have another go!" It was a lot of little sparks, rather than a flame, that got me here.

  25. #25
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    Thanks Hugh
    ~~ Choice. What a concept. ~~

  26. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by HughK View Post
    Fantastic lovestorms
    Really loved it.
    Last edited by LMR555; August 3, 2015 at 7:00 AM. Reason: removed link to commercial site.

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    Congrats Lovestorms!!
    Great work and choices. Thank you for sharing.
    "Discover the Power of Choice!"

    “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb

    Join the team as a SMART Message Board Volunteer!! It can encourage growth and joy. Or support with a donation http://bit.ly/passthehat

  28. #28
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    Thank you all
    ~~ Choice. What a concept. ~~

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    Amazing post. I've been struggling in AA for 4 years.

  30. #30

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    Thanks for the great post.

  31. #31
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    I've been reading success stories here on this thread and I've come away with an amazing feeling of the incredible strength that lies within each of us. I look at the amount of work you all have put into your recovery/discovery journey. It just amazes me, to see growth blossom right in front of my eyes. To hear someone's voice (during voice mtgs) verbalizing with the tentativeness and vulnerability of hope and the promise of what can be to being previously filled with desolation and hopelessness. I am so happy to be a part of SMART.

    I have been DOC free now for nearly 3 years. April 11, 2013. I'm pretty sure I haven't been without alcohol for that amount of time since I was a young wee lass and discovered the euphoric effect of alcohol. It was like a light switch went off in my brain when I finished that first beer at a party. I have been smoke-free for 11 months now, my stop date with that was the first week of March 2015. Not sure of the exact date.

    Don't give up. Keep fighting. If you fall, get up. Even when if feels like you have learned nothing at all and still continue to do the DOC, truth of it is, the knowledge is still inside of you and you cannot unlearn what you have just learned no matter how hard you try to do the ignorance is bliss thing. It does sink in, the SMART tools, and one day *boom* they''ll be stuck there forever. I bet if I drank now after all this time, the tools would come up and smack me back and forth across the face ruining the euphoric feelings I would have usually gotten which is really a waste of alcohol. Oh the horror of wasted alcohol.
    ~~ Choice. What a concept. ~~

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