Back from vacation and still sober! We were on Swan's Island which is a 30 minute ferry ride off Bass Harbor on Mount Desert Island (near Acadia National Park) in Maine. Nothing there but us, the seals, the birds, the deer and the water. My husband even saw a porpoise. The home we rented was down a 3 1/2 mile dirt road in the middle of the woods on the edge of the ocean. There are no stores, no restaurants, no theaters, etc. We kayaked, collected shells, read books, napped, played cards, had fires on the beach (or rocks I should say) and ate lobsters caught that morning as that is what is done by the 350 year round residents. The home we rented was top of the line so we got the best of both worlds, nature and nurture. Jacuzzi and steam, plush easy chairs, modern kitchen and a majestic ocean view from every room. Very grateful, very rested and very blessed. It was my first sober vacation probably since childhood.
I'll have to admit upon arrival it was tough not opening a bottle of wine to have with the noshes I'd prepared to relax on the deck and soak in the view. Really tough to break that pattern. But I have no doubt that doing so would have led to a second and third and who knows how many bottles. I would have then not enjoyed the next day and the days and nights to follow. Hungover &/or drunk, I would not have been able to kayak or walk the rocky shore with endurance or stay up to watch a movie or play cards with my kids. So I am grateful that by "chance" I chose a dry island to visit and my husband "forgot" to bring his beer. I think I have learned to think that first drink through to the end.
I spent time each morning and evening reading the stories in the Big Book and studying the steps. My big plans to embark on Step 4 were put aside for meditation and prayer. I wasn't avoiding it but in keeping with the purpose of the vacation, which was to reclaim peace and tranquility, it seemed the right thing to do or not do as it were. More for that in the real world. I did not go to the 2 meetings on the island that I was suprised and grateful to find (there are only 350 year round residents)and had planned to attend. For practicality, I didn't relish driving the 3+ mile unlit, unfamiliar dirt road back to our house in the dark and the timing also interfered with the sunsets I paid good money to see:) Secondly and honestly, I was chicken. I'm just getting comfortable in meetings and a strange place was a little scary. But the first part, and leaving my husband (he wouldn't come), really outweighed the chicken part or I would have forced myself to go so I feel good about my decision. I hope to visit a meeting outside my local area in the future, with any luck the one on Swan's Island. Sounds like a alot of excuses but I did honestly examine my motives and bottom line, I didn't drink according to my sponser. Helped me to learn to keep it in the day, balance and not to have expectations.
Anyway, I know we are not supposed to make big changes in our first year of sobriety but I do plan a career change. I told the boss I want to be a lobsterman (according to my husband a woman can run a lobster boat but there is no such thing as lobsterwoman). I could picture my life there. One day at a time.....
Tomorrow we leave for vacation. Today will be a frenzy of work, packing, shopping, etc. We have to anticipate all of our needs in terms of food, entertainment, etc. because there are no shops, theaters, etc. I think it will be perfect. Just us and the ocean. I plan to sleep, read, kayak, cook and just soak up the beauty of the Maine coast. The people who own the home we are renting sound very sweet and we are a test case for them as far as renting their piece of heaven. No pressure!
Last night's meeting was all about Step 4. This is the aunt and uncle group and I appreciated all of their shared experience. In many ways I am looking forward to getting this step done because it will pause for a lot of self reflection which I tend to avoid. It's like, yeah, I know its there but once I name it, it requires I do something about it. I've always been a stickler for self awareness but I haven't done much in the area of self improvement. And I sure I will find my old idea of self awareness is a big hoot.
The other big thing I took from the meeting was caution. I am learning that as many people there are in AA there are that many ways to do Step 4. There are BB thumpers, AWOL groups, worksheets and on and on. I think checking all this out is helping me to realize that I can be comfortable with however I get it done as long as I get it done and am honest with pure motives. That is what I will strive for. What I also learned there and elsewhere in the rooms is that AA is full of flawed people so be careful what you say in meetings and in Step 5. I can be very naive for a woman of a certain age and I tend to attribute pure motives to others. That's why I'm a paralegal and not a lawyer. I live in a fairly small community and the annonymity of this program can get lost. Or at least that is what I'm hearing. So proceed but with caution.
Anyway, my very mean daughter has said we cannot take her laptop with us. So I won't have access to a computer until Monday when she comes up. The kids are joining us on Monday because they couldnt' get the weekend off from their jobs. They both work in the same pizza place so it would be tough plus they both need the money. This will work as me and the Husband and I could use some alone time and they will have the weekend as well as the 4 hour drive to bond as brother and sister. And that is what this vacation's purpose was about. Connection, in more ways than one.
I didn't go to the meeting tonight. I feel like I'm playing hooky. I'm just soooo tired. I knew this would happen, didn't I? And trying to get ready for our trip. Who am I kidding? I took a nap which was nice and didn't quite want to put it together to go out again. Wish I was brave enough to show up braless, all rumpled, scratching my belly and plop myself in my seat, smack my lips and say Hi,I'm Kathy, I'm an alcoholic. It's BIG, I can do the second part. It's probably BIG for everyone else that I can't do the first. I think my husband appreciated me being home though. Although I spent most of it online catching up with the blogosphere and my emails. Felt like the meeting I was missing. Now of course I'm worried about telling my sponser. That's the one stickler she's got... go to meetings. But I went this morning, she whined. See, I am going to have this conversation until I call her tomorrow at 3. OCD.
But I think my motives are pure. So I feel good about the decision not to go tonight. Or I'll feel good once my sponser gives me the absolution.
I am grateful for:
new friendships my son's return from soccer camp tonight Starbucks coffee chocolate almond fudge swirl ice cream sobriety Reality TV (well not all of it, but YES Big Brother much to my daughter's disgust) the cool breeze
I'm up way too early this morning and I know I will crash this afternoon but whatever. God's will, right? I need practice praying. I just don't really know how. Or maybe I do and I just feel stupid. I don't know. That's why I added the third step prayer above so that I can see it alot. I'm not too good at memorizing. My favorite part of that prayer is the request to relieve me of the bondage of self. I always liked to think of myself as selfless but I know now that was merely an aspiration not a reality. I was completely a prisoner of the alcohol I was pouring into myself and completely selfish for desiring the effect.
Last night we did the 11th step at the Step Sisters meeting. I am grateful for this meeting because getting ahead in the steps gives me hope. It gave me a place to go when I have trouble praying. I like the idea of meditation. Now I know what everyone is talking about when they say morning meditation and I know I will get there. Practice makes perfect or should I say, practice makes progress.
Talked to my sponser yesterday about my impending vacation next week. She cautioned me about doing the 4th step in a place where I may uncover stuff and need help. We are going to an island off the coast of Maine and it's got nothing. No shops, no restaurants, no LIQUOR, no nothing. Just us and what we bring and LOBSTER! I planned this thinking I'd be bringing booze over but again I think this is another case of God leading me to where I need to be. The main purpose was some R & R and a chance to reconnect as a family before my daughter goes off to college. Of course my kids are mortified but I think they are secretly looking forward to it. We will have internet access so I may still be around here. I've got so many books to read and I want to work on Step 4 but I might just figure out how to DO it and then do the actual writing when I get back. We'll see. I like my sponser because she respects my thoughts about how to approach sobriety and the steps yet also offers me suggestions. It's not my way or the highway. I thought I'd want more structure but I think that would just piss me off and also I'd just go for the A. Like algebra, an A student but don't ask me the next day what was on the test.
You know how you hear all those sayings at meetings and elsewhere. Meeting makers make it. Constant vigilence. Happy, Joyous and Free. I think they're true. There's a man who is at quite a few of the meetings I go to. He was one of the "uncles" at the step meeting I attended last week. Everytime he shares he seems to say something that hits a nerve with me. Not necessarily because I relate since his story is very different than mine. Maybe it is just seeing a man share his feelings so readily. My dad didn't, my husband doesn't.
Yesterday morning, one of the members celebrated a year and I watched this man because he looked like he was about to bust a gut he was so filled with joy for his friend to whom he presented the 1 year medallion. As Providence would have it, he spoke at last nights meeting as well. He said how much he loved the 12th step. Again he was beaming as related how he spent his day getting someone into detox and helping his family. He's had a lot of misfortunes but he is a happy man. I want what he's got and I was lucky to have the nerve to tell him so. (He said he wished more women wanted what he got:) I can't wait to get to the twelfth step. One step at a time of course!
I'm sort of in this weird zone right now. I know I am going in the right direction and that feels damn good but at the same time I am petrified as to where that will lead.
Had a fight with my husband last night. It was primarily due to the fact that we were both starving and the computer crapped out. I went to a meeting and he spent an hour on the phone talking to techies who speak broken English and getting nowhere. I got home and it looked to me like he was just sitting on the porch swing waiting for me. I guess then I made him feel bad that dinner wasn't ready. I wanted to be taken care of and he wanted me to take care of him. We both needed our mommies. But at the time I was just pissed, not really because dinner wasn't ready but because he never gave it a thought and wanted me to do everything, waited for me to do everything. Not to mention, the computer. I couldn't check in with my new sober friends. Shit this sounds so selfish.
But anyway, I just wanted to get on with preparing dinner and do it quickly and he wanted to discuss how to prepare the friggin' scallops and on and on. NOW, he wants to cook. Not to mention that he wanted me to back up all our files so that they could work on the computer. Are you kidding?? Anyway, things were said, I cried which is all I seem to do these days, it was stupid really. Of course, I pulled the "I knew your support was too good to be true" card and suggested he get his ass to Al Anon, (which I'd love him to do but don't think he ever will) And really, the whole HALT thing comes into play. And while I know that intellectually, even in the moment, I am just not equipped to handle it appropriately.
That's why I am positive I need to move on to Step 4 and move on regardless of how scary it is. I thought I'd hang around Step 3 for awhile and "perfect" my relationship with God. I know, I know, progress not perfection. I get it. Of course as I was praying on this all those crazy thoughts are coming in and I'm contemplating our divorce and what about my house, will he still pay college tuition and on and on. Thank God He calmed me down to a peaceful place. I need to talk to my husband about this stuff but we do not have an honest relationship. I think we have forgotten how to. And for him, he's got this new person to deal with who is no longer completely zoned out anymore.
We may have to start back at the beginning. I just hope we can. But then, I get ahead of myself as usual.
This has been an emotionally draining week. At yesterday morning's meeting, I just got overwhelmed and it wasn't by pain or exhaustion. I'm not sure what it was. They say keep it simple but it feels so BIG. I feel raw. It's a good feeling but I've got to release it and so I gave them the big ugly cry as Oprah says. Was hoping that time would run out before they got to me but of course it didn't so I had to share what I was feeling. And they got it.
Then I went to work and Thank God, the boss was taking a rare day off. It was one of those beautiful summer days, so I left early (who needs money anyway), and took my kayak to the lake. I needed to take some time and just stop. I paddled on out to the middle and upriver away from the madding crowd. I actually called my sponser from there and joked that maybe I was isolating but she assured me that I was just taking care of myself which was my intent. And then I just floated. It was wonderful. It gave me the opportunity to just relfect on this last month and where I've been and where I'm going. I talked and prayed to God and I brought my friend Anne Lamott with me (in the form of her latest book, Plan B Further Thoughts on Faith). I was able to gain some real peace and serenity. I felt God's reassurance through the gentle swaying of the trees. And I thought, this is MY church.
I know there will be big changes ahead for me as I go through this program some will be good and some will be bad but I will be able to live with them because I know I am being guided. When I left the women's meeting tonight guess what was there. A double rainbow. And it followed me all the way home. One woman said something that struck me. She said that she knew that God held her in His Hands because He carried her safely through her drinking days. That made sense to me. That's Grace.
I was not raised in a religious household. In fact I was not raised with any religious instruction or belief system at all. My father was a scientist and his philosophy was that when we (his children) reached the age of reason we could make those decisions for ourselves. The problem was that he gave us no tools to do so. Well, I shouldn't say that because he had 100s of books on different religions and raised us to question everything. I wouldn't say that he was an atheist but that he was seeking and did not trust organized religion. When I was a kid I wanted to go to my friends youth group at her Methodist church. My father wouldn't allow it. He wanted us to find our own way. (my friend's mother later ran away with the Methodist minister but that's a story for another day:) My father did find God at the end of his life which was a mindblower for me and my brothers. And I am grateful that he died in peace. I did my first heavy duty praying during his last week of life and I believe that was the gift my father left to me. Gospodi Pomiluj.
My grandmother (Dad's mom) would bring me to her church (Serbian Orthodox) when I stayed with her in the summer as a child and that is the concept of God that I have. But there aren't many Serbian Orthodox churches in New England. Many of my friends (and my Mom, though non practicing) were Catholic but as I grew older I had trouble with the Church's doctrine. When I was in college a guy I met in a bar (of course) tried to convert me. He was born again and called me and read Bible passages. I just though he was cute and he played guitar. Personally,I like Anne Lamott's approach to God. She found God in the bathroom. Another author (Frederick Buechler or something like that, he was an Episcipalian priest) that my Dad was reading spoke of church being wherever your two feet were and if they landed in a building called a church okay. I liked that as well. And I like Martha's concept of Alice. I keep singing to myself...Go ask Alice, I think She'll know.... Anyway, my point being is that I have no practice in faith which makes the concept of turning it over hard to wrap my brain around.
But...I have no doubt that I have been led to this point. And the point I was missing was the "willingness". My sponser told me I was making this much too complicated. I've got the willingness. I've got belief and I do believe I've got Trust. How could I not? Everything in the last 30 days (and if I got right down to it, my life) is showing me that I am being guided. I have written about this before. Last night, I went to a Step meeting and what do you know, which step do you think they were on? It's almost too much. If there was any doubt in my mind it was erased last night. It was a small group of mostly older folks and mostly men. The women were glad to see me. I had seen a couple of folks at other meetings. The men were so jovial, joking around, elbowing each other, it was like sitting in a room with my uncles if I had any. After we read it was time to speak and I resolved to just listen. But that's hard to do when everyone is staring at you and you're the new kid on the block. I wanted to tell them how miraculous it was that they were doing this step and that I had picked (don't really think it was me) this meeting to attend so I did. They were wonderful and truly shared their ESH with me. One woman asked me to come back. I wasn't planning on it because there is another meeting I'd like to check out and these folks have obviously been together for a while and were quite older than me. But it was like sitting in a room with your aunts and uncles who love you and want to help you do the next right thing. I'm there.
"God, I offer myself to Thee -- to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!"
Yesterday was my 30 days and those "coincidences" kept showing themselves to me. A new friend was celebrating her 1 year at my morning meeting, many of my new blogger buddies had anniversaries and it culminated in last night the speaker was celebrating his 3rd year. But in additon to celebration it was also a day of warnings. I haven't had a desire for a drink but last night there were a few in the room who had just come back after having had that first drink which we know leads to many more.
I know that I could easily talk myself into a cocktail hour in spite of how good I feel and I must remember how many hours the the cocktail hour turned into. And how horrible those hours can make me feel. I can romanticize why I want a drink. I like the idea of a drink...ice cold beer on a hot summer night, crisp champagne for a cool celebration, a red wine glow in a candlelit room, gin & tonic on the veranda, sophisticated martini at a bustling steakhouse... yada yada yada. It's like a really handsome guy (sorry husband) who holds a lot of promise and then you find out he's a liar and a cheat.
I know I am powerless, I have come to believe and I am working on turning it over. That's a tough one for me because I have no practice, not sure how its done but I'm reading through the Big Book, and I like the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions introduced at a Step Meeting I went to, (you know how I like things spelled out) so I feel I will get there. And I've got a sponser now to lead me. Think I finally know what to talk to her about.
I got 2 chips yesterday. Is that legal? One in the morning and at the evening meeting the woman who handed them out wouldn't stop saying one month till I came up. I told them I had gotten one already but they made me come up anyway. It was sweet. I didn't want to keep it because someone at the morning meeting said that can be the only one you ever get. And so its the only one I want. So I gave the second one to my husband. Because he has stuck with me even though I am often not available to him. Between being drunk and now working on sobriety, he's put up with a lot. But he appreciates what I am doing now though I'm not sure he understands it. He did like the chip though. I'm happy to share this journey with him.
Well, everyday something else is revealed. Every moment it seems for me lately. Tonight I went to a womens step meeting they call Step Sisters. Just before going, my online sponser called me all the way from California. She is a member of the AABC group and had offered to work with me until I found a sponser. We haven't really done much, worked on Step 1 via an outline she sent me. We talked about my boss which I've posted about here and we talked about sponsership in general. She said she really called to get me used to talking to someone on the phone. Anyway, it was very nice to speak with someone I have just corresponded with via email and posts. And it did help having a conversation about my stuff and having someone not only relate to me but also validate me and give me a direction. Anyway,
I went to the meeting. Lo and behold a woman I know because our daughters went to elementary school together and hung out together this year was there. I have been waiting to see someone I really know at one of these. I've seen a few familiar faces but noone I know. We aren't really friends but we've talked as mothers do. She also worked where I worked in the restaurant but not at the same time and she's a musician and had played there to. Point being, I've known her for awhile and I always liked her. Very friendly, very open. The meeting was a good one. I liked it.
And then, drum roll please..... I asked her to be my sponser. Not sure if that is weird because I know her but I felt comfortable because I know her. It felt like I was brought to this meeting for this purpose. She agreed and we spoke briefly about what that might mean. For tomorrow it means I call her between 2 -3 which amazingly works for both of our schedules and then we'll figure out our schedules to meet. She was worried that she'd have to cart me to meetings which would be tough for her but I don't think I need help in that area. I'm doing about 2 a day, my 7 am daily meeting and then wherever I can find a 7 pm weekly meeting. Don't think I have one for Thursday nights but maybe I can have a night off??? I told her I had numbers but because I had been feeling pretty good about things, without a desire, I didn't know what to say if I called someone so I didn't. And she gave me a good response, at some point I will feel like having a drink and that's what the phone if for.
Drove home and cried again. I'm sick of crying. I'm not going to wear makeup anymore because it is pointless. But at least this crying is not because I am sloppily drunk, or frustrated or sad. It's more of a relief and release. And also an incredulous feeling of belief, of Grace. It just seems so.
Anyway, this is good. I feel good. Like I just did the next right thing.
"God, I offer myself to Thee -- to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!"
I have been reading this prayer every day for almost 30 and it just has so much more meaning to me now. Relieve me of the bondage of self. May I do Thy will, not just Thy will be done. It is not a passive expression. (light bulb moment!) As an oldtimer (I like the word elder better but that's just me trying to change things:) said in one of my early meetings... "It's like sitting in a garage and waiting to become a car." I think that is what I was expecting when I pray "Thy Will be Done". Not knowing much how to pray, that's what I usually repeat to myself.
I feel armed.
BTW: ( I feel like I am running home from first grade to tell my parents I learned to read :-) My Monday night meeting (notice I said MY) has been looking for a coffeemaker and I had told them last week I could do it (we're supposed to step up, right?) and they were going to vote after the meeting last night. A man spoke up last night and said he really needed and wanted the job. So I backed off and told the chairman I wanted him to have it and she could certainly consider me a backup if he could not come through. (He seems to be struggling). She then asked me if I wanted to be Secretary (last week they said they wanted someone with at least 3 months and I didn't think I was ready to commit to that responsibilty anyway). Yikes, but I am not supposed to say no and they voted me in. So, I am now Secretary of the Monday night group. What are they thinking!!! But it was so pleasing to be accepted and congratulated. I won't be just slinking in and slinking out of the meetings. And guess what else? I am in charge of the member phone number list! Maybe I'll start using them now.
At tonight's meeting the speaker shared how she had her first drink when babysitting. She found some creme de menthe and drank until she got drunk. That was not my first drink. Mine was when I was hanging out with the older boys across the street. I must of been about 14 or maybe 15 and they were drinking whiskey. I don't know how much I drank but I got really drunk. They walked me around the block about 100 times before they let me go home. I guess that was the very beginning. But what hit me tonight was she reminded me of when I babysat for my father's collegue. They entrusted me with their baby. It must have been around the same time as this first drunk. At some point while I babysat, not the very first time but maybe the second, I found their sloe gin. Yuck. But I drank it. I smoked their cigarettes too. Benson & Hedges as I recall. I know I was driven home drunk more than once. My babysitting career did not last long. I wonder why??? Who was I fooling? I had forgotten all about this. Blocked it I think. I did a lot of shit when I was in my teens but I always remembered it as not really hurting anyone but myself (well, my family). I was "experimenting". What an idiot. Thank God nothing happened to that baby.
Anyway, today was a tough one for meetings. I felt really out of place. Not sure why. The morning meeting was at a sober house and we sat outside because they wanted to smoke. I was okay with that but geesh the smoking was getting to me. But the sharing was really important for me to hear. Tonights meeting was a difficult one for many as the funeral for a beloved member was held today. I had thought I might go because this man was important to so many who are becoming important to me. I didn't but it is just as well because I probably would have felt even more uncomfortable.
But I am not drinking. I am working with a woman from the AABC on my steps until I get a real sponser which I may be getting closer to finding. She's terrific. I'm reading the Big Book. Halfway through How it Works. Reading Martha's (Bouncing off the Bottom) book and loving it. A good companion read as I go through the steps. So in that sense it was a good day.
Went to my husband's family reunion yesterday. It was a nice time. On the beach. This has always been a non drinking event. Or should I say, it was always supposed to be a non drinking event. That was the rule. Like my family, there are many alcoholics in this family. And before my time apparently alcohol had caused many of these reunions to end in violence. So.. no alcohol. But of course those of us who couldn't imagine such an event without alcohol always managed to smuggle some in and manage to drink our way through it. If we didn't or couldn't bring our own we knew someone would. One cousin used to set up his truck outside the facility like an open bar. Of course the teetotalers knew this was going on and disapproved but in our view they just didn't know how to have a good time and they had no idea that our red solo cup was filled with wine or beer or a gin & tonic. (yeah, right)
These are people that we only see once a year and up to this year, I would spend most of it, clandestinely drinking alcohol. Finding it, hiding it, going back for more. The more it wasn't allowed the more I drank. My own and everyone else's. By the end of the day I was shitfaced but I was always a happy drunk so I'd invite everyone back to our place to drink some more and swim in the hotel pool. My husband would get pissed. Only the drinkers would really come because it was completely inappropriate to have a party at the pool. Especially when it was closed but we did anyway. He'd hang out because it was his family but he would be pissed. Meanwhile our kids would be swimming or we'd put them to bed. Hotel managers would eventually break the think up.
This year though it was nice. I didn't drink. Actually, not sure whether anyone did but I'm sure it was there. Gee, in previous years it seemed like we all were. I spent my time actually talking to people about their lives and mine. Not ending conversations so I could sneak off to fill my cup. Not saying inappropriate things that would come back to haunt me. Actually, remembering conversations. It was relaxing. Enjoyable. Pleasant. My family had a nice time. One of the young cousins, my daughter's age has had issues with drugs and alcohol and was discussing her participation in AA. I was happy and sad to hear it. Happy that she is getting help and sad that she had to. Grateful too that my daughter has thus far not jumped off that cliff. I am feeling a guilty though because I did not share with her my last few weeks as a member of AA. Wondering if I should have. I didn't feel there yet. I am in the rooms but not sure I am outside of the rooms. I can with my husband but not sure I'm ready to announce to the world. What does that mean?
I've been posting alot of stuff I am finding along the way but not too much about me. I didn't go to the meeting this morning and I'm feeling a bit out of sorts. I have the day off today because my mother in law is visiting and when the alarm went off at 5:30 I was just so tired I felt I needed more rest so I rolled back over and slept for 2 more hours. I do feel more rested but I also miss those people and I can't wait until tomorrow to get back. We have to leave early to visit family but I will do everything in my power to make sure we leave after the meeting. And if I can get to a meeting in between activities today I will do so. Friday night is the woman's group so I'd like to get to that.
At some point earlier I asked myself how did I get here? (okay, get the Talking Heads out of your mind now:) Well that's too long a story for now but the last time I was sober for any length of time was back in 2004. The Christmas of 2003 was the first Christmas since I had found my mother in an alcoholic stuper in the squaler that had become her home and which resulted in her contracting the disease WKS. From New Years Day of 2003, it had been one hell of a roller coaster ride. We had to move her here, into an assisted living facility after 3 months of hospitalization and then emptied and sold her house. Her brother, my uncle died as a result of alcohol. He was found in his home weeks after he had fallen in his bathroom. He lived far away and I couln't take care of him at the same time as my mother. I had to make a choice. I had to empty and sell his house which had been my grandfather's. My brothers were around but not much help. All this time, even though much of what was happening was a result of alcoholism I kept drinking. I guess I was what would be called a high functioning alcoholic because I was able to do all of this and work but then I would drink until I passed out at night. Dealt with life hungover everyday and drank it all away in the evening. I slowed down when this stuff began but the drinking always progressively got worse.
This all culminated to that Christmas of 2003. I was making dinner and drinking the whole time. Probably from the morning when I started the cooking. I don't remember. My mom was over and she was still out of it. Very much in a fog and not quite with it. My brothers called and I spent some time talking to them. I think I was smoking then because I was out on the porch and all of a sudden the smoke alarms go off and the house fills up with smoke. It was pure chaos. I was clueless. I pretty much had forgotten the expensive roast in the oven. I was talking away, drinking my wine, smoking my cigarettes, sittiing outside in the middle of winter and isolating myself from the people, my husband, children and mother who were in my house. We saved the roast and ate dinner but I don't really remember anything after that. Pure Blackout. I apparently called more people on the phone because I left rambling messages and they called back later in the week and I had no idea. I really scared myself and decided to stop drinking. I did but it only lasted about 6 months or so. Once summer came I started again, you know the routine, maybe I'm not an alcoholic after all, I can control it. I didn't do anything but stop drinking up to then. No AA though I did lurk on the AABC on yahoo but as I have learned that is just not enough. I did successfully quit smoking that summer though. That actually seemed to increase my drinking. Whatever I was missing from the cigarettes I must of transferred to alcohol. And as we all know, it progressively went from my intentions of once as week or one a day to full blown every night drink till you pass out and all the disgusting physical problems that come with it.
So today, I am grateful for AA, my husband who has stuck with me, to God for allowing me to live, for the hot tub at my mother in law's hotel that I'm going to rest my weary bones in later, air conditioning, and my children who I see every day enjoying my sobriety in spite of themselves and their teenagedom. Oh yeah, and also headaches. I keep getting headaches lately and it is so weird to experience a headache that is not cause by alcohol. It's just puzzling me. Very strange. Not sure why I'm getting the headaches. They're not debilitating or anything but I am grateful that they are not hangovers.
This strikes home especially given the title of my blog so I had to share it. I'd say fear of Judgment is what kept me away from AA for so long.
written by VICTORIA S. SCHMIDT
We live in a world that thrives on judgment. All one has to do is listen to the media and we see and hear someone sitting in judgment over someone else. Sadly, this demeanor has become inculturated and trickles down into our everyday lives. I have made many mistakes in judging others. I know that I have been quick to judge other people before I even know what is in their heart. Some years ago I judged my brother harshly and it caused a deep hurt in our family. It separated us from the love that we shared for each other. It wasn't until I sought forgiveness that our relationship was restored.I decided some time ago that I needed to put my judge and jury to rest. It lacks true Christian charity to judge a person harshly when we do not know what is truly in their heart. When I'm tempted to bring out my judge and jury I remember the Beatitude that Jesus spoke, "Blest are they who show mercy; mercy shall be theirs." God knows I have struggled to learn this lesson. The amount of mercy we show to others is the mercy that will be shown to us. On my journey toward becoming more merciful I seek a humble heart that allows me to always seek forgiveness and mercy. Mercy toward others and ourselves softens the harshness of life. -----------------------------------------------------------
VICKI SCHMIDT lives in Springfield, Illinois (USA). She has a missionary heart that has been formed by thirty years of missionary work around the world. She currently serves as Director of Theresian World Ministry, an international Catholic women's organization.
The most useless thing to do: Worry The greatest joy Giving The greatest loss: Loss of self-respect The most satisfying work: helping others The ugliest personality trait: Selfishness The most endangered species: Dedicated leaders The greatest shot in the arm: Encouragement The greatest problem to overcome: Fear Most effective sleeping pill: Peace of mind The most crippling failure disease: Excuses The most powerful force in life: Love The most dangerous pariah: A gossiper The world's most incredible computer: The brain The worst thing to be without: Hope The deadliest weapon: The tongue The two most power-filled words: I Can The greatest asset: Faith The most worthless emotion: Self-pity The most prized possession: Integrity The most beautiful attire: A smile The most powerful channel of communication: Prayer The most contagious spirit: Enthusiasm The most important thing in life: GOD
I heard this song, Pain, on my way to book club last night. At first I thought, whoa, this is about SEX (nothing wrong with that of course:), but then as I listened, it is to me more about feeling. I drank to numb those feelings be they pain, anger, tension, sadness, and on and on. And I thought I drank to celebrate the good feelings but really I just erased those. So feeling relaxed, happy, funny? How nice. Have a glass of wine. Celebrate into oblivian and wake up numb. Anyway, the song hit me (no pun intended). Good head rocking song, too. Take from it what you will.
Did my book group last night. All took the margarita train but me. Luckily we are also all about the food so that helped. I had no desire but it did feel like odd man out. No discussion about my lack of a cocktail. Linda said do what I've got to do. These girls have been with me a long time. They know me. They know I need this. Hell, we all met when we worked in a bar/restaurant as young mothers. Back in the day, after work, get off shift, count our tips and drink and don't stop till the manager kicks us out. Go to another bar until closing time. If we're lucky, one of the single folks will be having a party and go there too. We won't talk about it as it may hit too close to home for a few of them but not all of them. A few just usually have one or two at the most at book club. But they have watched me overdo it for years. They have driven me home. They have watched me fall. I left last night once the party girls got going. I used to be a party girl. I would have stayed until there was nothing left. I would have had a bunch of margs and then I would have polished off a few bottles of wine. Maybe driven home with one hand over my eye. Idiot. It felt good to have that over.
I went to my morning meeting. Almost didn't because I wanted to sleep in but once I was up I was so happy I did. You know the phrase when you see a good movie, I laughed, I cried. That is how meetings are too me. Someone says something that just really makes me cry. A man celebrating the dragonflies in his front yard. Someone says soemthing laugh out loud funny. It's all recognition. I like not feeling alone. This is a good day.
I am grateful for dragonflies, my country, my friends, my life, music, the Grace of God.
HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY! CELEBRATE YOUR FREEDOM FROM ALCOHOL!
Learn daily the lesson of trust and calm in the midst of the storms of life. Whatever of sorrow or difficulty the day may bring, God's command to you is the same. Be grateful, humble, calm, and loving to all people. Leave each soul the better for having met you or heard you. For all kinds of people, this should be your attitude: a loving desire to help and an infectious spirit of calmness and trust in God. You have the answer to loneliness and fear, which is calm faith in the goodness and purpose in the universe.
What is a home group?? I went back to that morning meeting. What's good about today. I like it because its postive. There was someone there who was struggling with being newly sober. They just found out they lost a member who od'd. There were concerns about the upcoming 4th of July holiday. Doesn't sound positive does it? But it was somehow. Everyone managed to turn their fears into something positive. I've always tried to live my life from the power of positive thinking. Does it always work? No way. But I love that I found a group that starts there.
When I was at this meeting last Wednesday, I told them I was new and the woman next to me urged me to claim the 24hr to 29 day chip. She was there today and just about pushed me to stand up so I did. It was a wonderful experience because of the response. I do have a regret though. I wish I had turned around and handed it to the guy who sounded like he just had a day, if that. I want him to come back. I think I understand about needing to share it now. Is it weird to feel like I can offer someone ESH at only 3 weeks? I don't know. I just felt it.
And I think I knew I was in the right place when we held hands to say the Lord's Prayer. I couldn't get through it. Tears just started streaming down my face. Up to now, I've been weepy but this could have very well turned into what Oprah calls the ugly cry. The group leader for today just gave me such a comforting hug as did several others. I got a list of the members and numbers. Is that a home group? What does that mean for my participation in other groups? They keep announcing that the Monday night group I attended needs support and a coffeemaker. If I make coffee for them does that mean its my home group? I'm confused. Maybe this is what I should be calling the temp about?
At least I'm not confused about whether I want to drink or not. I DON'T!
I am grateful for my daughter who wants to have dinner with us tonight I am grateful for Ruth who says the Lord's Prayer gets her too I am grateful for Chickie who wagged her finger so I'd claim the chip I am grateful for Sonya who shared her need for a sponser for accountability I am grateful for Joan who knits through meetings and makes me feel comfortable I am grateful to be sober
Just came home from a meeting. First repeat meeting for me. There hasn't been a meeting I haven't taken something from and this week will be full of second times with the exception of Tuesday which will be a first. Anyway, this afternoon's speaker was a very pleasant Irishman. Loved hearing his brogue and he made me think of my Irish Friend here in the blogosphere. He told his story and one of things he talked about was his fear of failure and that it helped get him through the program. I think that has something to do with how I feel right now and now that I'm in it, meaning AA and recovery, I'm in it to win it. Just diving in whole heartedly. As I feel better and better, it occurs to me, well, maybe just maybe I CAN take a drink and be okay. Test the waters if you will. Why does this thought even occur to me? It's not like I haven't tried and done this before. And that is where AA and posting and yahoo and my family really help. I've got accountability that I never had before. If I take a drink it is an admission of failure the first time I get drunk. Oh I'm sure I could do a convincing performance of a person who could just have one or two, but as in the past it would progress until I'd be hiding how much I drink.
So, normally I would think a fear of failure a fault or a negative but in this case I think it helps. Keeps me in line. I left a message for my so called temporary sponser. Kind of glad she wasn't there because I really didn't have anything to say. I just told her that I felt okay and was checking in because I thought that was what I was supposed to do. When I get to a point that I am able to sponser someone (which I know I shouldn't be thinking of but I am so whatever!) I want to be sure to remember that the sponsee (me) could sure use some directions. Who, What , Where, When and Why and even more importantly HOW.
Okay, I've got gratitude for 6 things:
Kayaking with my friend Marianne this afternoon. Getting all the laundry done too The Swan that allowed us to get close Getting the kayak on top of my car with no help The concert for Princess Diana
"But the first salt wind from the east, the first sight of the lighthouse set boldly on its outer rock, the flash of a gull, the waiting procession of seaward-bound firs on an island, made me feel solid and definate again..."
-Sarah Orne Jewitt
From the Bondage of Self Going Sober: June 11, 2007
To live a spiritual life we must first find the courage to enter into the desert of loneliness and to change it by gentle and persistent efforts into a garden of solitude. --Henri J. M. Nouwen
So Far Away by Stain'd
And So It Continues....
"There were in her at the moment two beings, one drawing deep breaths of freedom and exhilaration, the other gasping for air in a little black prison-house of fears. But gradually the captive's gasps grew fainter, or the other paid less heed to them; the horizon expanded, the air grew stronger, and the free spirit quivered for flight." Edith Wharton