From drudgery to habit…

I am up early this morning…. my head has been working me over.  Lots on the go with family, work, business, taxes, …. just life really.

I am both employed and self-employed.  My wife and I run a business that has thankfully been working out.  My job outside of the business is stressful but rewarding enough to keep going… yet I am conflicted.  My heart is barely in it, yet I value the income and benefits.  Gratitude is my best antidote to the nagging voices in my head that try to discourage me.

I slept only a short while last night, then my head woke me up and wanted to tell me about how life sucked.  “Ya, ya, whatever”, is my typical response then I move as quickly as I can to filling my mind with the authentically good.  I stress, ‘authentic’, because this isn’t just an exercise in fluffy feel-good.  It is not just another self-deception that things are good when really they are bad.

Things that need attention need attention.  Like paying bills, caring for family, raising kids, eating right, staying sane.  Amidst the challenges, there is so much to be grateful for.  I have a great marriage.  Amazing when I think about it.  I will spare the details of everything I love about Mrs. Chaz, but suffice to say she is amazing in my eyes and I am grateful for her.

Gratitude did not come naturally to someone like me who is predisposed to both depression and anxiety.  The medical community figures that the basis for my anxiety and depression is not of a nature nor severity that it is treatable by medication, but rather the core of my conditions stem from a collection of bad habits of thought.

So my task and focus over the past several years has to been to continually become more skilled at, more habitual at, redirecting my thinking to the positive.  And it works as long as I do it.    Which is a reason I am up early blogging.  Blogging is part of my discipline of redirecting immersing my brain in, and redirecting my thoughts toward, positive things.

At first it was drudgery.  I hated it and didn’t trust it.  It was counter-intuitive on a core level.  ImageFrankly, it was like passing a freakin kidney stone.  I felt like the annoying, fictional Stuart Smalley character trying desperately trying to kid myself that all was well when it wasn’t.  Yet, the truth was, much was already good, and even more was getting better.  But my unrecovered self wanted no part of it and tried everything to invalidate it.

I was so self-deceived, I didn’t know what positive looked like.  Positive to me had mainly been a chemical buzz or a pipe dream of one day in the future when everything was perfect, but until then, I had little to no skill to recognize the positive, let alone redirect my focus to it in the heat of  the battle of negativity bombarding my head from within.

One day though, and I can’t really tell you all of the reasons why, the shell of the nut of my thinking cracked, and a small amount of light shone in.  Question began to appear in my head, “Could this be real”?,  “Can I trust this”?, “Is there value in these positive everyday things like a roof over my head, my health, my less-than-perfect family, my job, this country, God, and those annoying people in those bleak rooms of AA”?

That was all it took for me to try trusting it for a day.  Or in some cases a minute.  It was drudgery, but to whatever degree I could, I did it.  And I sought help doing it.  Any time my thoughts tried to pull me down the sewer, I would muster all that was within me, and redirect toward the positive, and ask for help doing so if I absolutely had to.

Some say “Trying is lying”, meaning if you only try and not do, you are kidding yourself.  Well, the applications of this saying are limited.  Because try was all I could start with, and it worked.

What started as drudgery became like a trusted friend.  It became more familiar and more frequent.  I found I redirected more often, and many times without realizing it.  This was a process that took years and lots of support and learning.  I have talked about it, been counseled about it, blogged about it, read about it, shared about it.

Then, on a morning like this morning, awakened by the remnant of my dark thinking, trying to tell me numerous negative things, without even realizing it, I simply said, “Ya, ya, whatever” to those voices and went out to my office to connect to some positive thinking.

I didn’t even realize it til I got to the office that the choice was barely conscious.  It was mostly habit.  I even made a pot of coffee on the way.

So what was once insurmountable, and kept me in bed depressed for days, and on an occasion or two, hospitalized, has grown through a phase of painful discipline and eventually to a level of virtually effortless habit.  Wow… that is a lot to be grateful for!

Yet here we are in 2013 and this is nothing new. How many years ago was it that someone wrote, “… whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is fair, whatever is pure, whatever is acceptable, whatever is commendable, if there is anything of excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—keep thinking about these things”?

Wow… this stuff is finally becoming real!  And helping me in a time when my family and I need it the most.

Ciao.

Chaz

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About Chaz

Husband, father, brother, son, friend. Sober member of AA. Grateful for the life God gave me and for the happy struggle of recovery.
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10 Responses to From drudgery to habit…

  1. Caddo Veil says:

    Bless your heart, Nephew!! The things you say are so familiar to me! I KNOW about depression and anxiety (though I’ve mostly talked about my past depression, the 2 ailments/conditions usually come in a combo-package, and I still deal with a bit of “nerves”). I remember when I was younger, my pipe dream always began with–“when this is over, my life will be good and I’ll be happy, finally”. And I know what you mean about “bad habits of thought”–I, too, had to learn to “exercise” Gratitude, which promotes positive thoughts, until it became my new improved healthy life-giving habit of thinking. Sometime last year, a friend I met here on the blogs, also told me about the fictional “Pollyanna”–who plays “the Glad Game”; and I love it! Even when things weren’t so good, Pollyanna would say something like–“well, we can be glad it’s not raining”; just anything, to redirect her thoughts positively. My life isn’t perfect, it isn’t what I dreamed of as a young girl–but it’s SO Much Better in the last 2 years, because of my Encounter with Jesus. He helped me dump all the “stuff” that was in my head so we could make a new start; like the well-respected Bible teacher/speaker, Joyce Meyer, says: “your worst day WITH God is better than your best day Without Him ever was”. As I come up on my 2nd anniversary of freedom, peace and happiness/Joy, I’m still pinching myself–“can this be true?” Last night when I was praying, I said, “Lord, I still can’t believe you delivered me from depression–after I finally gave up asking You to; I can’t believe You loved me so much that you didn’t want me to die miserably unhappy.” I know I tend to gush, when I’m here–but I really feel you are my true nephew, that we have some significant things in common. I’m just so blessed to know you, even a little–and I’m so thrilled and proud of you for all you’ve accomplished with God’s help. And I’m so happy that you and “Mrs Chaz” have each other–what a wonderful gift and blessing! I’ll continue my prayers for y’all every night, you can count on it! God bless you BIG–much love from your Auntie Caddo

    • Chaz says:

      Thanks Auntie Caddo….. well one thing for sure, people who have known depression/anxiety (D/A) can relate to other D/A people in completely unique ways.

      I am sure we have all faced the intolerance of others who haven’t a clue or are in fact, skeptical, that D/A exist and have such power. It often feels viewed as a character weakness…. not unlike many aspects of alcoholism.

      So glad your found reprieve and so glad to hear of your relationship with God. You are in good hands!

      Now, I don’t easily align wholly with the disease concept of alcoholism or D/A. I believe both behave, “In a parallel way to a disease”. Now this is my definition for me so I am not meaning to preach here. But in defining them in this way, it stops me from feeling like a victim and allows me to emphasize my responsibility for my part of my recovery from both.

      The medical community did not have the answers I needed for either. Not a criticism, more of an observation. My flavour both were, so far, not of the type that a known medical cure could be found.

      So I did what worked and I continue to practice it. One day that may change and a medical treatment will arise, but just for today, redirecting my thoughts is parallel to the medication I would take for the conditions that are parallel to the diseases.

      Glad to hear you found what worked for you. I have heard many people find dramatic reprieve and in fact, deliverance, in their relationship with God. I do believe in healing on a supernatural level. Understand it? No. I have two friends who cleaned and sobered up without ever setting foot in AA or a Dr. office. Dramatic stories of supernatural acts of God. One completely unexplainable where by all accounts, the guy should be dead form a cocaine overdose, but instead, awoke after having seen what he called, “Men in white suits come into his room and tell him he would wake up the next morning fine”. Now anyone who knows coke will tell you…. you don’t sleep! It is a stimulant. And he consumed a lethal quantity of it and another substance. He awoke the next day just as the visitors told him. He believed they were angels. He was a rough, tough businessman with all the money he needed and no desire to know God. Yet this event turned his life around completely and he sought out God, had a supernatural experience, and has remained a servant of God for 20 or more years.

      So I believe it is possible! Why some people have a supernatural touch of God and others of us go through a process is none of my business. It just is. And I can be happy all the same for me or them.

      Thank you so much for your ongoing encouragement and considering me family! I am so glad to hear that your journey.

      Sincerely,

      Chaz

  2. Number 9 says:

    Wow that was a lot of work and you did it! I suffered depression and anxiety and went the medication route so my thinking sort of corrected without all the courage and effort you went through. So impressed. And so much self-knowledge! I have to do my taxes too. Ugh

    • Chaz says:

      The work I did not do willingly at first. Well I suppose that can’t be completely true because we must contribute some amount of willingness. But I would say I was flailing in the darkness on pure faith at the outset. Had I not received an early return on my efforts, I may have not continued doing the work. But gladly, the small victories kept me going until they consolidated into a big leap forward.

      Gratitude is all I can say about how I feel about it all. Why was I blessed this way? I may never know in this lifetime.

      Also…. to keep going where I was going and have my kids see me crash and burn was also motivating to turn around. I did not wan this for them. I refused to let them have a Dad like this even though I was the Dad like this for a time.

      So there was lots to it. But I will give God the credit for directing traffic in this whole thing. Mysterious ways they say 🙂

      Thanks for the reply. See you on the blogs.

      Chaz

  3. Debbie says:

    Thank you for once again sharing so honestly. We can always count on that with you, Chaz .. and really need to hear that things aren’t always easy, so we can persevere in faith , through our own struggles. I was one who received His help to be rid of alcohol / drug abuse .. depression and suicide. .. just by going to Him and praying to want to want to stop and be free. And each day I have to keep remembering to direct my thoughts too . ..to let them be taken captive by Christ.
    God bless you each and every day, and your family .. .who are blessed to have you too!

    • Chaz says:

      Thank you for your encouragement Debbie. There is truly much to be grateful for. Our enemy works against us in many ways. For me, the main attack seems to be on my thinking. Our culture has adopted so many false perceptions and expectations and only by staying in touch with God’s will for my life through all of the tools he’s given me have I been able to remain free of falling into the same pit.

      Thank you for celebrating his power and grace with me.

      Chaz

  4. mommabella3 says:

    Progress…Love It! Keep pushing forward 🙂

  5. judikruis says:

    I found it that way too Chaz. The renewing of the mind takes effort and a biggie is recognizing when the junk tries to sneak in again. Thanks for sharing your process.

    • Chaz says:

      Thanks Judi…. yah… whatever reason the old stuff wants to sneak or sling-shot its way back…. who knows why. But it tries to stage a comeback none the less. Thats when we have to stand our ground and accept and thereby exercise the gifts given to us. Easy enough to accept once…. the real stuff starts when we we are under pressure to slide back. It is these times, if we choose the new way, we become even stronger in our renewal.

      Thanks for stopping in.

      Chaz

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