Wednesday, July 21, 2010

No Doors Shut....

The past has been swirling around me of late. We spent the weekend celebrating the impending marriage of an old friend of my husband's. I knew these guys when I met my husband when we were in our twenties. I did a lot of damage then. There were many remember whens this weekend and all I could say was that is why I don't drink anymore. Another example of why I shouldn't drink. and on and on. We went on a ride and stopped at this bar...its not really the type of place I ever hung out unless I was already drunk. It was really sad. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and we were in this dirty smelly bar with bras and other paraphenalia hanging from the ceiling. And there was a woman there that just so reminded me of myself. The life of the party. With a shot in one hand and a cigarette in another. Looking for love in all the wrong places. I was overwhelmed with gratitude that this is not my life. And grateful that I didn't have to opine on it to our friend who's life it is. I could just stand in my sobriety and drink my seltzer water quietly. But I won't be doing that again. I'll skip the next ride.

I always say that I was in denial about my alcoholism. That because certain things did not happen to me I was able to justify my drinking. As long as I wasn't "there" I must not be an alcoholic. But that isn't the real truth. The real truth is that for at least the last 10 years of my drinking I HAD conceded to my innermost self that I was an alcoholic. I knew it. That's why I lurked around AA websites and online groups. The trouble was I drowned that concession in alcohol and I was completely unwilling to concede it to YOU. Because that might mean I'd have to do something about it. My pride, my ego, my self will made it more important to prove that life was manageable WITH alcohol. I am so grateful that on that first day of sobriety something changed that had nothing to do with me. And that after 2 weeks of bouncing my head against MY way yet again, willingness arrived to make the concession to YOU and go to AA.

I am giving it ALL to God today. Or at least trying to. An old flame has contacted me on facebook. It has me a little freaked. I suppose I could have ignored his friend request but that didn't seem right. It was a relationship that was soaked in alcohol. We were very young. I was hurt and I owe him an amends. Which was my other reaction...oh shit now I know where he is when its time to do that. Maybe now is the time. And of course there is always the thought of what if.....and I cannot go there. So as my sponser says, I don't have to go anywhere. Just stay in today's moment...I don't know why this has happened and nor should I try to explain it or control it. It just is. So I shall allow the universe to flow as it should. I had just written about this guy in my fourth step when BAM! We will be amazed before we are halfway through......

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I listened...

An oldtimer this morning said that at some point you've got to listen to someone. I am very grateful that this happened for me. In spite of myself. It occurred to me that listening is what I have been doing these last three years from the very first day. I read a blog that very first day and I listened. I started writing. And when I got responses to my posts, I listened. You told me to go to AA. And when my online group talked about AA and how it worked, I listened. And I went to my first meeting. And when the wonderful lady from California called me so I could get used to talking to someone on the phone, I listened. I got a sponser that very day. And when my sponser told me to call her every day at 3 and to meet with her once a week, I listened. And we did the steps. And so I continue to listen..I listen to what you tell me to do and what not to do, what works and what doesn't work, and I hear how to stay away from that first drink. And it involves a much richer life than I could have ever imagined and is taking me places that I had long ago left behind. I think this is what the Grace of God must mean...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Luge Shots

I went to a party last night for some old neighborhood friends who are moving to Chicago. I haven't seen them in awhile since we moved away and our sons who were elementary and middle school friends drifted apart as kids can sometimes do as they move into high school and college. It was good to see them and a few other parents who showed up. The elementary school our children attended was a very special neighborhood school and there is a certain bond there, even if our kids don't necessarily feel it anymore. And even though I too felt the bond, this was a place that I remember well in terms of hiding my drinking. I can remember many many hungover mornings walking my children to school. I waitressed at night then and would drink every night after my shift until the wee hours. Avoiding talking to the parents on the playground worried that I reeked of the night before. I never did really take a morning drink to quell the feeling. I just suffered through until my next shift, sometimes downing a few beers beforehand just to get to work. I remember calling in "sick" to my stint reading stories to the kids, my parent volunteer shift in the library or field trip chaperone. Or not calling in sick but suffering through and not really enjoying the moment but feeling that constant state of panic, anxiety and fear. Until it would be over and I could go home and have a glass of wine which always turned into more. I tried to do what was right for my kids and I managed in the way a "functioning" alcoholic manages. Getting by for appearances sake. And looking back its hard not to wonder just how well I functioned. Well, I don't wonder, I know what I missed. It makes me sad sometimes. This is me, not shutting the door on it.

Anyway, there were all sorts of people at the party. Parents from the neighborhood, family, old childhood friends, co-workers. And many were drinking up a storm. In the backyard they had this luge thing made out of ice that you see pictured above and they would pour the alcohol of your choice down the luge to your waiting mouth. I would have loved that back in the day, though it was said that the ice sucked up a lot of the alcohol. What was really great about the party for me was that my friends mother is also an alcoholic. I saw her at a few meetings early on, which of course freaked me out the first time...OMG, my cover is blown....and she had given me her number to call. As my program progressed, I never used it and we apparantly attend different meetings as I don't see her too much. Once in awhile from across the room. The first thing she said to me when I arrived at the party was how are you doing? I knew what she meant. It wasn't as the mother of my friend looking for small talk but as a fellow member of AA. Are you sober? And I said I was great. When the luging started and our little group of neighborhood parents started jumping on the bandwagon, she looked at me and said..I won't be doing any luges and I looked at her and said the same thing. It felt great to have that comraderie that only she and I knew about.

So today is Sunday morning..i was going to go kayaking with a church group but they cancelled under threat of rain. It's beautiful so I will go to a that I haven't attended in quite some time as it fell to the side as I explored churches and found something there. At the time. Today, I need to hear the Big Book and then I will take my kayak out on our little lake and maybe do some writing out there. Try my hand at making a Cioppino, south beach style. And then WORLD CUP!. I've really enjoyed the games and though USA did not make it I have watched the teams progress. Was hoping Germany could etch it out since my daughter is there now and it would have been a lot of fun for her. As it is, she is consoling her German friends who were in tears and couldn't even watch the consolation game yesterday. Europeans take their I'm going to take my program seriously today..have a good one! xo

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Hard Part

So the hard part won't be making this change....this past weekend helped me to affirm that. The hard part will be telling my boss of 10+ years. It's just him and me and it will be like leaving a marriage. I will have to get past the feelings that he cannot survive without me, that he will be angry, all the projections I have. I left a job once just before I got married. I had been managing 3 stores for this small business and wanted to get into something more national since we were moving out of state. When I gave my notice, the store owner, swore at me and threw a book and said this is a fine time! He apologized later but I had been unprepared for that. So now I suppose I'm overpreparing but at least this program tells me that I must stay in the day and today I am NOT leaving my job and won't be for awhile. I have to take classes, perhaps get something part time in the field. I'm just going to let it happen and when the time is right I will know. It's overwhelming sometimes to have that level of Trust. And I don't always but its getting there. My boss loves what he does and has given me a what you do and do what you love. I will bring that in with me when it is time. I will remind him of our client who has PTSD and how I was more concerned with HER well being than with handling the case. That is what he does, what he loves. Anyway, that is not for now. For now, I will just take the actions as they unfold. Part of the actions is finishing my damn fourth step! My sponser has suggested we set a deadline of September. I think having an end time will help. And I know from my previous fourth step that more will be revealed and that whatever anxiety I am feeling may very well be alleviated. I just have to Trust.

I wish I was going to San Antonio. But alas, I will have to live it vicariously through you bloggers. Have a wonderful experience.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Do What You Love, Love What You Do

I have struggled with coming back to the blog and write because I think its just that I have so many discoveries of late I don't know how to put them into words. So perhaps I should begin at the beginning..or not really the beginning but the beginning of adult choices. I went to college to be a social worker. I think instinctually I had a desire to be of service to others...idealistically, I wanted to save the world. But because of my alcoholism and its underlying causes and conditions, namely, what I like to call defenses of charachter, a/k/a self...I ran. My beginning of the end of my social work career came during a retreat weekend with a class. The professor had us watch the movie "Ordinary People" to spark discussion. I don't remember too much of that weekend to be honest. I remember falling apart during my share because I couldn't articulate my feelings with respect to the mother, my mother, my family. I drank alot with people I barely knew. I didn't feel safe. I remember going to the professor afterwards but I couldn't ask for help. I needed help but I could only tell him that my Dad was upset resulting in the professor telling me I was immature. I quit my waitressing job. A triangular relationship exploded and I lost my best friend who took off with the boy I liked. And ultimately, though I'm not real clear on the timeline, I dropped out of school. I didn't want to be a social worker anymore. I used to say that I had social worker burnout before even becoming a social worker. Ha Ha. Looking back, I suppose, the program did an excellent job of weeding a very sick person out. And I did know that I wasn't capable of making decisions that could affect people's lives. I had no idea that all these things happen for a reason. I had no idea that I would come full circle to this place again.

I attended a conference this weekend for the non profit organization "To Write Love on Her Arms" I became aware of this suicide prevention group after my friend died. Supporting them seemed a very small way to feel as though I was doing something. I didn't do much. I joined their facebook group. Voted for them to be awarded funds and read their materials. And then they came to town and spontaneously I decided to attend. I've been toying with the idea of going back to school and reentering the human services field, most likely in the field of substance abuse but I have a lot of self doubt. I felt this from the very beginning and my sponser and therapist laughed and said I was right on target. Everyone in recovery wants to become a counsellor. But I think I knew it was a bit more than that. But I waited. They say when you are not sure to do nothing. I have a good job, make decent money and pretty much have job security. But I hate it. So anyway, I've been talking about this for 2 1/2 years. Scoping it out. But staying put. Taking no steps. But I finally did and went to this conference. I went with no expectations but I hoped to learn something that would help explain my friend's death. It didn't really. There is no real explanation. But there is understanding. And that first day, sitting in a room, it was a bar actually, believe it or not, with all these kids..who were going to school or just out of school...I felt exactly at home. The hair on my arms were raised and my emotions were overwhelming because I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be. And everything in my life had led me to here, my broken family, my broken education, my broken relationships, my broken body, mind and spirit and my friend's suicide. And there is beauty in that brokenness., The beauty of the Truth. Pieces to put togehter. Without the brokenness there would be no pieces. I don't know what I will end up doing. I do know that I'm checking out a certificate program at our local community college. I know that I have choices today that I didn't have when I was all clogged up with alcohol. I know that there are still defenses that are yet to be broken. But I know that when they break...I am not meant to fix them. Because they are beautiful.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Running Dialogue

Last night I got my medallion from my women's group. And my sponser said some wonderful things about me which choked me up. I was thinking about how uncomfortable I get when people say nice things about me or praise my work in recovery, tell others I walk the talk, share what wonderful things I do, how quickly I seemed to "get it" and on and on. I heard someone say in a meeting once that his problem was comparing his insides to other people's outsides. And I heard a woman speak this morning about the real recovery are the bits and pieces inside that noone but God sees. Your innermost self as the Big Book describes. "We had to concede to our innermost self that we were alcoholic." I "forgot" to let my morning group know in advance that it was my anniversary. But I think the real truth is that I didn't want to hear all the congratulations because I didn't want to hear the running dialogue inside my head:
They don't really know you if they did they would never say this
Guess you pulled one over on them
You don't deserve this
It's not true, It's a lie
You are Bad, don't believe them

and on and on......the "twisted thinking"....and as I do the work on my fourth step I am uncovering the real truth in my fears...fear that I am unworthy, less than, unaccepted, unloved. And all the evidence to the contrary as evidenced by these wonderful people in my life is not enough to conquer the running dialogue. I will still beat myself up.

And on the flip side....the balancing a not to believe for a second that I..the big ME...has anything to do with anything. Pride is just another word for fear. If these good things are true, real...its because of a Higher Power in the job is to connect. And I am so grateful to AA for showing me how through the twelve steps. I pray that someday the inner dialogue will go away. I am convinced that it will because the obsession to drink went away as promised. The physical and mental aspect of my disease is gone, erased..I am neutral about alcohol. And though that's no small thing..erasing this inner dialogue is where the rubber meets the road. Its the solution to the spiritual malady from which I suffered and continue to suffer. I only want one channel.....that of peace. I know it is possible because our book tells us it is...and because I experience glimpses of it...but I also know it is an ideal..and that I may never reach it but as long as I "patiently strive" towards that ideal I am closer, and better, and that is evidenced in my own life because I can write this about the inner dialogue and speak to it and not keep it a big, dark secret.

A man from our morning group celebrated his year anniversary today and he shared that a year ago he had tried to commit suicide, that he had planned for it and he had been excited about his plan. I identified with that..not with the suicide part..that's not part of my story..but the fact that he thought he had found a solution to his problems and he was exicited for it. How wonderful that he did not suceed in HIS solution and that he found the REAL Solution. That is something to be excited for and I am. xo

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Busy as a Bee

My friend is coming for a visit next weekend. She's the one I was supposed to go to London with last September who broke up with her boyfriend of 10 years just before. At the time I was full of worry about the lost deposit on the trip and she was full of worry about whether she was doing the right thing. It's amazing how more and more examples of what stepping aside and letting go and letting things happen as they may....usually and almost always work out better than anything we could have planned. A New Employer as they say. So instead of what we had originally planned, I went on this fantastic trip with my family and she's getting married in September to a wonderful man. Unfortunately, she had to move to Indiana but she's coming back for a visit with her Stepsisters and to make wedding arrangements and staying with me. I'm going to have an open house Saturday night for our Tuesday night group where we can present her with her 5 year medallion that she missed while away.

Needless to say, I'm trying to get ready for that. For some of us, living in a two story house can be dangerous. I can keep the downstairs relatively orderly and clean...but how do we do that...we shove everything upstairs! My daughter's room has been in a state of flux since she went away to I try to turn it into an office/guest room. Well now its done! YAY! And my closets are cleaned and the bathroom is decorated. It makes me happy. Sadly, even with the sign "USE ME" on the hamper, my son will continue to throw his clothes on the bathroom floor, LOL! I told him to take a look at the two other bedrooms so he can absorb what a clean room looks like. I have to take responsibility that he was not taught this so I can't have any expectations from him.

Doing these mundane chores used to be the perfect drinking occasion for me. And they'd never get done, big suprise. Instead, I enjoyed the England v. USA match as I organized and was so happy USA did not lose. While we were in England we were able to catch the Premier League championship game that Chelsea (my son's favorite team) won so I do have an affinity to certain English players but I'm USA all the way. Will watch Serbia play this morning..I'd love to be there, my brother is as he has his dream job where he gets to watch and talk about soccer and get paid for it. So I am enjoying following his journey.

Back to work!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

So here I am...3 years and still sober. I spent the day yesterday doing much of what I've been doing. I went to my morning meeting. I hadn't made any special notice that it was my anniversary. I guess we are supposed to put our name on a calendar so they can pass a card around. I wasn't sure cause we have a member list as well that contains our sobriety dates. So I figured what happens will happen. And yes they need the calendar. But we do chips every day and they end with asking whether anyone has a yearly so I stood up then. And the woman who did the chips was the very same woman who encouraged me on the the day I received my 24 hour chip so it was special to me. The founder of the group scolded me for not letting anyone know...I didn't really do it on purpose but to be honest I was glad that What's Good About Today did not revolve around my anniversary because that is what would have happened and its embarrassing. After she scolded me, she came back and congratulated me too. I'm all for celebrations so maybe it was wrong not to let them make a big deal out of it...but I felt good.

I went to work and we are slow so I spent much of the day catching up on bloggerville in between phone calls and tasks. Writing my post and reading others. I went back and read my early days of sobriety and how I felt. If it had not been for this outlet and the ability to have these meetings between meetings where I could put ALL my focus on sobriety I'm not sure where I'd be. So maybe its wrong to spend work time on personal stuff but its what I needed to stay sober and become a worker among workers. It's a balancing act.

I spent the afternoon with my mother. She's an alcoholic who is permanently disabled with Korsakoff's syndrome. No chance of recovery but she doesn't drink. Instead her disease now manifests in hoarding and obsessive compulsive behavior. We try to manage it with medication and she is seemed good since adding an antidepressant. I was able to bring her to the facilities computer and share her grandchildren's facebook photos and the like. This was quality time that we have not spent in years. So it was encouraging.

And last night I spoke at a woman's meeting I attend so that was good. And then all the shares I tried to avoid at the morning meeting were spoken and it was special. These are the woman who are a part of my life and I love them. They are role models and they are compadres. As usual, afterwards I feel like I didn't say what I wanted but I guess I said what I needed. And I was spent. Went to a comedy show with my sponser and her friend. It was really bad and I had to make my exit.....that bad.

So what's new? I've lost 43 lbs since September. South Beach diet style. I don't like to say I'm on a diet but that I changed my diet. Sugar free, Low fat, whole grains..the way we are supposed to eat if we want to be healthy. I can only imagine what would happen if I actually exercised...I've been trying to get into a discipline of walking and it will come..I have a bad back so it hinders progress....but I know I'll get there. I enjoy interacting with my friends on Facebook...maybe why I haven't been here so much. I'm STILL writing my fourth step...with occasional lulls. I guess its just that since I went through the steps in that first year with my ass on fire..this time is more to help me increase my conscious contact..break down those ego driven barriers...and so my ego gets in the way sometimes as does that 5 syllable word for sloth..procrastination. But I need to do it..I paused the ninth step so I could do this.....and I know that is the step that will set me free....I'm still married to the same man..still have the same job (though I so want to change that [the job not the marriage]..but my Sponser says wait...I'm not sure that I will). I sponser 2 is on her fourth step and not rushing..and the other is anxious to get there. I still put my hand out whenever I can and I've learned that NOTHING is up to me. Still practicing Centering Prayer as my primary source of meditation though like everything my discipline experiences lulls.

I had an wonderful opportunity to meet Irish Friend of Bill and johno in May as my family went abroad to visit my daughter in Germany. I felt like I was encountering celebrities and it was wonderful as these two women were the very first to find me in blogland and encourage me and guide me to and through AA. It was a trip of a lifetime for us and we had the best of times and the worst of times..."European Vacation" style.
I learned on this trip that I have an unshakable foundation as described in the 12 x 12. I wasn't able to get to meetings that i had lined up between logistics and timing but I stayed sober and felt great. Did get to a meditation meeting in London though and it was great. Would have loved to check out the meetings in Germany and Czech Republic but maybe next time. I'd love to get to San Antonio but this trip took a lot of finances from us even with the tax refund that funded most of I'll have to wait till the next one.

Have a great day......its good to be writing again.

ps: the sign is from around Windsor Castle.....took all I had not to steal it:) xo

Friday, June 11, 2010


Hey There...its been awhile. Today is three years for me. Three years ago I woke up on this was a Monday...and I was soooooooooooooooo hungover. I hadn't passed out, I hadn't blackout...but it had been a weekend that I had planned to quit drinking yet again and I hadn't. The day before was a nice day and I spent it on my porch reading and drinking wine...then I made dinner and I drank wine...then we watched the Sopranos finale and I drank wine. And then I went to bed. And when I woke up I was sick...again. And I couldn't go to work...again. I was shaking, my insides had siezed in a constant feeling of panic and anxiety. I looked like shit. I stank. I could not pull it together. So I faked a cold and called in sick and I layed down on my couch full of the "bitter morass of self pity." But I was restless and discontent...I was really angry with myself and full of shame...and a thought came to me that I could not go on like this and I didn't want this to be just another day. I knew I could just fall back asleep and sleep it something big and gross and I'd feel physically better, this was my practice and I'd drink again...but I didn't want to drink again. So I went to my computer....I went to the AA Beginners Group on Yahoo and read their posts.....I'd been lurking there for a few years thinking maybe I had a problem...maybe I could learn something that could help me solve the problem...I didn't really want to do anything....I just wanted to feel better. I wanted to be able to have a drink and not feel this way. I didn't know I could never have a drink. That the first one I spent so much time justifying and rationalizing was the one that got me every time. I thought maybe I needed rehab so I looked for ones in my area...there was a doctor who wrote articles on alcholism in our local paper and I looked him up. Then I stumbled upon the Top 100 Sober Blogs....and started reading....actually I read a blog called Journey to Recovery by Red Headed Gal and I very much identified with her. I spent my day on the computer doing this stuff and then I went to bed. I didn't tell my husband I was planning to quit...I just didn't have a drink for that one day. Then the next day I thought maybe I should start my own blog....journal...I'd never done that before. And I thought, maybe I should follow some of the suggestions I'd read in the book Living Sober...and that the members of AABC talked about. And so I started my own little progam taking a little of this and a little of that and then I wrote about it here. And a few people found me and welcomed me...made some suggestions.....redirected me...until after about 2 weeks of trying it alone....I knew it wasn't working this little program of my own design and I took the plunge...I went to my first AA meeting and I've been going ever since. It works. But I can't just sit there and expect to become sober just as you can't sit in a garage and expect to become a car. I had to take the actual steps....and I did and the obsession to drink was lifted. When I understood that my body reacted to alcohol in an abnormal way, my guilt and shame at my inability to control my drinking subsided...and when I learned there was a Solution and followed the guidelines in How it Works..I experienced a Spiritual Awakening that replaced all desire for alcohol and provided me with a way of experiencing and looking at the world with new eyes. And though I had no idea a Spiritual Awakening is what was did. And it may not be a thunderbolt or white may not be conventional in any sense...but Its a new beginning. and I am very grateful.

So the apples are for my teachers..for all of you bloggers who share your lives and offer such inspiration and support, for the members of AABC who carry the message to people like me, afraid and ashamed, to Bill W and Dr Bob for discovering and sharing the solution that worked for them..because before that there was no solution. It was graveyards, looney bins or the streets. For my sponsers and the women and men of my community who make going to meetings a profound experience. For the people in my life who cause me pain and suffering that I learn how to grow, for my family who continues to support me and teaches me to practice these principles in all my affairs. I am surrounded by Grace and it is beautiful. Thank you...xoxoxox