“God gave me you for the ups and downs. God gave me you for the days of doubt. For when I think I’ve lost my way, there are no words here left to say. God gave me you.” Blake Shelton


Wow. So checking back in here I realized I’ve been away for ten days! What happened?? No relapse, no hospitalizations, no drama…thanks to my sober friends. I’ve been a part of the world; that’s what “happened” to me.

Not that life has been a walk in the park. It’s been more like a slow shuffle over some rocky terrain. But the beautiful part is that I managed to do so sober. God has been awakened in me and I feel His presence. I seriously feel like I have a cheerleader talking to me and telling me, “If you do the next right thing, <not pick up a drink>, I can see you through all of this.” It’s been amazing.

The first close call I had with a relapse came shortly before Christmas. One of my daughters (16) lied to me and went drinking and driving out in the countryside with friends one Saturday night. This wasn’t the first time. So we talked… well, I talked. She stared at me with hate only the devil himself can dish out. She decided she no longer wanted to have me as a part of her life. I am too stressful for her and cause her negativity and self-doubt. I suggested until she is ready (still waiting; sorry no Disney ending here today) to follow my rules and to be respectful to me, her step dad and half-brothers, she is not welcome to be here. A boundary. I actually set a boundary. Sober. Mark that in the history books.

Living with said boundary can be heart wrenching. The day she left and drove back to her dad’s was the day I almost caved into alcohol. My husband was out of town for the day and was unavailable. So, I called my sponsor, another sober friend, my brother. I reached out and I turned it over. The heaving, deep, guttural tears came and they came hard. “Feel the feelings I told myself. This is where this shit gets real.” A big part of me wanted to grab a bottle of Captain and just “OBEY!” But, I didn’t. This is one of the reasons those who have come before me in this process have said NOT to keep alcohol in the house. Glad I listened. God also provided a beautiful ice storm that day so even IF I did want to run to the nearest liquor store (3.8 miles away), it was impossible.

So, I was spared that day. I lived one minute at a time. My older, sober daughter was a huge help to me. She played with the little ones and kept them occupied so I could make my calls, get a hot bath, and journal. Then, I could be present in their worlds again. Whew. Crisis averted.

The next blow was the death of my good friend. Never in my life have I experienced the gift of genuine love in a friendship. This woman is the face of courage, divinity, peace and love. She fought cancer for four years despite the doctors initial prognosis of less than six months. She wanted to live and live she did. Her smile was contagious truly. When she walked into a room, conversations would pause so we could say hello and be a part of her life. She had the gift of making every one of us feel like we were individually her best friend.

I look at her life as a beautiful map for this program:

1. Treat yourself with love, kindness and dignity NO MATTER WHAT. She was gentle with herself after chemo (for a day) and then jumped back into teaching right beside the rest of us. Being sober, we have to put our air masks on first before we can help anyone else. She knew this, lived this, and put that mask on so swiftly and carefully we never knew she needed it and then went out to serve others.

2. Live your life in the hands of God. She believed He would always provide. She never faltered on this belief. She didn’t question her cancer nor did she complain. She accepted this fate and moved on. Like alcoholics, we have to accept and admit we are powerless and that someone greater than ourselves will put our house back in order. She turned her cancer over to God and let Him deal with it so she could live and keep a positive focus on the world in front of her; the world she was so deeply connected to.

3. Live and let live. There are certain people in this world where gossip and negativity have no place. She was such an individual even before her diagnosis. There was an aura about her where my thoughts could literally be turned happy just by being in her presence. What you put in your mind is what you put out. I believe this as I watched her live her life. Only good emanated from her. She was consistently doing the “next right thing.”

So we laid her to rest yesterday. As I drove home, the song “God gave me you” by Blake Shelton came on. And it’s true. He did put this gift of a woman in my life. I was blessed to see someone live life on life’s terms and still flourish, still be an instrument of peace, and still have deep belly laughs despite her pain.

I know today that my Higher Power is loving me truly and deeply. He is allowing me to face the demons in my life clean and sober, No, it hasn’t been easy. I’ve cried more in the past days than a person does reading a Nicholas Sparks series. But the point is, I have been able to genuinely feel the anguish in my heart. Crying has never made me feel so alive. And I’m okay with that.

But, I will end on a funny note. Partly because I wish to TRY to live my life like my friend chose and partly because it’s just damn funny.

Christmas Eve my husband pulled me aside and told me he did not tell his dad I wasn’t drinking. But he said, “He thinks something is up. You may want to talk to him.”

I was comfortable enough in my sobriety and I trust my father-in-law so I did. I said, “You’ve noticed I quit drinking and I want you to know why.” His eyes got huge, “Am I getting another grand baby???”

Oh, the dear sweet man. At that single moment, I wish I were pregnant. (ONLY at that single moment.)
“No, I have decided I want to be the best person, wife, mother, friend, daughter-in-law that God intended and I cannot do that with the presence of alcohol.”

He hugged me like never before and told me he was proud of me. Something my own father never did.

Yeah, God gave me some pretty great gifts this Christmas.

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The worst lies are the lies we tell ourselves. We live in denial of what we do, even what we think. We do this because we’re afraid. We fear we will not find love, and when we find it we fear we’ll lose it. We fear that if we do not have love we will be unhappy.” Richard Bach


So I have just been bumping along pretty nicely for the last 41 days checking in here, AA meetings, with my sponsor, my therapist, my brother.  Yep, all is good here- just ask me.

God. I am such a good liar, I don’t even know when I am bullshitting myself. And without getting into a self-deprecating rant, I have to explain. (Those of you who have been in recovery for some time can skip straight to the comment section as I am sure this is nothing new.)

I had a dream the other night that I had a “fuck it” night. I was with my in-laws celebrating the holidays at a local bar. My intent was to have a one inch glass of wine and be done. But, we know how the story goes. One inch became one glass became two bottles. By the end of my dream, I was “white girl wasted” dancing on the table, laughing at myself, screaming to hear others speak because the music was blaring. I was having a blast in my dream. Then, in my dream, I woke up. I felt terrible, cried, and moved my “sober day counter” back to one.

When I physically woke up, I was sweating. I quickly hopped into the shower in hopes of washing away this nightmare. But, my mind wasn’t going to let me get away with the thoughts that easily. Nope, I had to beat myself up, go through the gamut of “I told you so’s”, and be a bitch to the people around me without expressing the real issue.

I was having a huge relapse of denial. I didn’t want to believe that my dream could be so powerful, so powerful I felt the music beating, I smelled the wine, I heard myself laughing. But the reality is, I did have that dream. The possibility of me relapsing with alcohol are very real, but I didn’t want to admit it. Damn. My Ego is so much bigger than I gave it credit.

I talked to my sponsor about the dream. She asked me if I believed I was accepting Step One. “Well, YEAH! I’m going to meetings, counseling, journaling, sitting here with you.” Man, I am such a bitch sometimes when I don’t get out of myself and get a new perspective. But, God love her, she laughed. 

“Oh. So your drinking every day, not being present for your husband or kids, your anger, your “fuck life” attitude, your depression. That was all working for you, huh? Sounds pretty unmanageable to me.”

Damn. Busted. Reality. One of my favorite lines is, “You can’t bullshit a bullshitter.” Whelp. It’s true and it’s time I figure that out so I quit wasting my sponsor’s time. 

Some days, the fear of my reality can be overwhelming. But, I say “I am staying in the moment. I am doing the next right thing. I am not drinking.”

And that’s great. It truly is. But it is not enough to say the slogans. I have to dig deeper and get real. The big thing is I have to quit lying to myself. I am an alcoholic. I am not able to drink ever again. My sucky moments will pass IF I continue to WORK the program. Showing up to a  5K but never stepping past the start line didn’t earn anyone any medals.

Not that I am looking for medals, but surely you get the metaphor.

And God forbid I nurture myself and come to love myself. THAT would be weird.

“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.” William Shakespeare


The other night at an AA meeting, a guy mentioned how he felt like he was acting in his newfound sobriety; he was really uncomfortable. He said while he enjoyed being sober, he didn’t like how foreign he felt in his own skin.

His comment struck me but not in the way he felt or even in his interpretation. I thought back to being a young girl and wanting so badly to be an actress. I thought being able to assume a role and make others really believe who you were portraying was really something. So, I dreamed of this, practiced in private in my room and auditioned for plays- I even made one once, but quit because my mom found the schedule inconvenient. So for years, I secretly longed to be an actress.

The joke is on me.

For years, I HAVE been an actress and  a damn good one, too. I fooled all kinds of people around me: I was happy, in love, brilliant, interested in the conversation, willing to help. The list goes on and on.  For decades, I was a chameleon for wherever life took me. Need a friend? I was happy to oblige, but inside I would be terribly bored with the pretense forcing myself not to yawn. Need me to be a volunteer? A tutor? Sure, no problem. All the while on the inside, I was resentful, angry, tired, irritable. Even when I spoke with one of my sisters the other night and told her I am an alcoholic, she said, “Really? Are you sure. I would have never guessed.” Of course not. I was taught to put my best face forward; I took that quite literally.

And so I carried on and with each new role I assumed, I lost a piece of me. Or rather, a piece of me was never formed. I thought for so long I was doing a pretty good job in my various roles, too. But, when someone would get too close and be on to me, I would create more drama and with uncertain resolve, push the individual away. I especially “liked” when others would push me away or mistreat me for then I was given opportunities to work harder and to perfect that given role. I would also reaffirm that I wasn’t worth a genuine relationship.

Finally, this past November, the mask became unbearable and it began to crack. My husband knew and gently reminded me to be true to myself. The conundrum is that I didn’t know who I was, who I thought I might be or who I thought I COULD be.  I had pretended for so long; I even recall thinking, “One day, my boss is going to walk into my class and tell me she has know how fake I am and that I really shouldn’t be here.” Before I decided to admit the gig was up, I went to a series of doctors to have tests run. I didn’t feel well and was sure I was dying. I probably  could have saved a ton of time and money if I had been honest about the amount of alcohol I had been consuming. But, THAT would be so weird…to be honest.

So, I am retired from acting. I never walked the Red Carpet nor did I win an Emmy or an Oscar. But the truth is, the world of acting was exhausting: the hours, the makeup, the various roles, the rewritten scripts.

Today, I check my gut. And I stop and think. I talk to myself more and I ask what it is that I want, need, or feel. The beauty is that my memory is better. When I don’t lie, i only have one story to recall. I am learning more about myself each day. Some of it I like and embrace; others pieces I have to table for a bit and reevaluate later; still others I discard and freely.

My costume is so much lighter, too. The layers and layers that had built up over the years were truly that of a Shakespearean damsel (and always in distress, I might add).

And while I can’t see myself heading out the door to a nudist camp any time soon, I sure feel liberated in the lack of  layers.

“The right thing to do and the hard thing to do are usually the same.” ― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free


Today’s a hard day; I’m not going to lie. I’m not in the mood to see the positive, the growth, or the silver lining. However, since I cannot get to a meeting due to sleet and ice moving in to my area later, I’m going to have to behave like the adult I want to become and suck it up. So,in a sense, welcome to my online meeting.

God, grant me the serenity

to accept the things I cannot change,

the courage to change the things I can,

and the wisdom to know the difference.

Being a parent is no easy task and having a teen-aged daughter is no exception. Having a teen-aged daughter who acts, thinks, and responds to others just like her mom does makes the pot even sweeter. Coming to realize the creature in my care is a near-mirror image of myself is rough. Also, whether we like it or not, society looks at our children as a reflection of how well we have parented these said beings. And, I have to – to some degree- hold myself partly accountable for why she acts like she does. So, when over the past year I have learned she has been out drinking, getting high, and being promiscuous, I did what most parents do: her dad and I (divorced for over 12 years) got her help, sent her to a treatment center, took her to a therapist, got medication, and grounded her. That should “fix” it. Problem solved.

So, why am I hurt, angry, and fed up that the behavior didn’t change this past weekend? I mean, after all, I did all the right things. I dealt with the problem; I sought help: I opened up and listened round the clock.

Um, hello. Can I interrupt this regularly scheduled rant?

Come on, Self. Who in the hell are you fooling? If I am honest, I have to realize that what I am slowly figuring out over the past 30 odd days took me 30 YEARS to admit. Why in the hell do I EXPECT her to be any different? I sure as hell didn’t learn from my alcoholic father’s mistakes. I had to live them, hurt in them, make mistakes (some often over and over). But, I expect something better from her. In fact, I even said to once to start acting more like a lady!  Yeah, because back when I was in college, chugging from a pitcher of beer after “losing” in quarters and then getting kicked out of the bar was so Kensington Palace-worthy. Sometimes I wonder where my drinking self and thoughts have come from.

What is the right thing to do? Well, first and foremost, I am her mom so she must be disciplined. But I also have to set boundaries, get honest about how I feel, and expect that she is going to make mistakes along the way. It is my responsibility to set the parameters, but, ultimately, if she wants to drink, she is going to sneak somehow. Please don’t read this as my condoning underage drinking. Even in my lowest times, I cringed when other adults would offer my college-aged daughter alcohol because, “You know she’s drinking at school anyway.” Well, maybe so, but I would not be the supplier.  Also, to ignore the situation and to act like I’m not in a position to say anything because I am an alcoholic is absurd. This is NOT the time to beat myself up and say it’s my fault. True, I modeled some pretty crappy behavior yet I can also model some great ways to act, too.

I do empathize with her. But, I do not have to walk away because of the faults, the trait, and the genetics I have passed on to my child. The right thing is the hard thing to do.

No one called it tough love because it was easy…and that not only applies to my daughter but to me as well.

“Courage is fear that has said its prayers.” – Dorothy Bernard


Today as I am home from work with a sick little guy, I have extra time to reflect on where I am in my journey. Physically, I am well. I kicked the flu’s butt, am well rested, and happily fed. Mentally, I am in a decent place. I have a meeting to look forward to later in the day when my sponsor will present me with my 30 day coin (We’re a little late, but this is not- I am learning- about perfection!).  My work is caught up and I can sit back and have some tea. Spiritually, though, I am a bit depleted. I have not done the readings or the reflections for the day. I asked myself why I haven’t done so today or really any day with any regularity. So, I think about it and realize that somehow I have to figure out a system to which I can stick…but as usual, I have over thought the process, made up excuses, and got way ahead of myself about what rigid time won’t work for me because in three years I might oversleep.

Did anyone notice I mentioned that I am not supposed to go about my sobriety being perfect? Egad. When I take the time to stop and to evaluate what is working for me, I also take a moment to think about what isn’t. My spirituality isn’t working for me because I am not working for it. I have mulled over times, places, the hows…on and on and on about just how my daily reflections and meditations should “look.” For  a woman who hates to be judged on appearances, I sure have that notion engrained in my head. In the meantime, i have deprived myself of some great conversations with my Higher Power because I am too worried about “getting it right.” The funny part is, if I have never had it right, how can I be wrong?

So, I redefine spirituality. In fact, it’s become pretty generic. For instance, if I have cried, I count that as having prayed. That’s my Higher Power speaking to me telling me to soothe my heart. If I am experiencing anger, that’s great. I know not to act on my anger, but rather, I welcome it because it’s an emotion- something I have stuffed with alcohol for 34 years. If I am quiet and pensive, I allow the thoughts to mull in and out without giving too much credence to them. After all, I have begun to not trust what is permeating in my brain because it is likely a bunch of negative crap anyway.

I know my Higher Power is working for me. I think He has been for years and it’s just now that I am recognizing if I step aside, He’ll do wonders for me.

So, today, I feel courageous. I believe that the fears I have wanting to rear their ugly heads and bring me down are going to have to take a hike. I have to defragment part of my hard drive so I can make some room for my spiritual growth.

And that feels pretty good.


Today, I am sober 34 days. I did not set out on this journey in search of what I am finding by any stretch. I was thinking, “I need to get sober so I don’t destroy my marriage, my kids, my liver.” And, at the time, those were (and are, I might add) great reasons. However, the more I am on this path, the more doors I cannot believe are cracking open. (It is important to note, I did NOT say flying open.) No, I am getting small glimpses into a much, much bigger picture. And to be frank, some of it scares the hell out of me.  

One of the main areas I have uncovered is rather odd: I’ve discovered that I am actually very shy and introverted. The idea of being in a room full of people is intimidating to no end. I like to be alone because then I can isolate and not have to “be” anybody. 

But, this is troubling. I drank generally when I was alone. So being by myself is a HUGE trigger. I literally have to force myself to call my sponsor and other women from my group. I worry about what I will say, if they will think I am dumb, or if they are bored being on the phone with me. All of these thoughts are irrational and unfounded. Besides, their world does not revolve around me contrary to what my Ego wants me to perceive. People on the “outside” would be shocked because over the years, I did a pretty good job presenting a confident, outgoing, almost larger-than-lfe personality. Sadly, this is not the woman I am on the inside.

Today, I was home with the flu. That left  me alone for nearly ten hours. I never thought I would welcome being sick in my life. Yet, it served a few purposes. One, it was a distraction from drinking. I was alone and not once did the idea of tying one on cross my mind. Something about fading in and out of a constant nap without having to be anywhere was rather soothing to my soul. Two, the illness provided me a time to take care of me. This included drinking tea on the couch with my favorite blanket, taking a warm bubble bath, and reading dumb smut novels…none of which I take time to do with any regularity. And finally, the time alone let me think, which turned out not to be terrible.

So, the being alone part turned out to be okay. But, the problem is I don’t live a cloistered life. I have to get out, to socialize and to learn, slowly, who I am. I have to work very conscientiously on taking steps to being social without alcohol. This is scary and I honestly don’t really know how. I never dreamed being sober would let this issue surface. Yet, I can deal with it. I spent years being the life of the party as a pretense; now, I am learning how to avoid taking the back seat until I can figure out my “stuff” because I know I will use that as a sober coping method so I just fade away.

I was so worried about people seeing the real me so I drank in an attempt to create a persona others could live with…but not me. How many times did I allow myself to be the butt of a joke, the topic of gossip, the one to be pitied? In my false bravado, I evolved into someone I didn’t even know let alone like.

But, the beautiful part is, I have a new lease on life today. I get to be in the driver’s seat and make the calls. Slowly, I am taking my time to gain the confidence I never developed. I am pushing myself out of my comfort zone, and it feels nothing short of weird. That’s okay, though. The notion that I no longer have to pretend who I am for an audience is rather liberating. I know I’ll make mistakes along the way, but as long as each day, I do the next right thing, I’ll be better off than I was.

 

“Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.” John F. Kennedy


Kennedy’s quote could have very easily been written by people who practice and diligently work the 12 Steps. it is a gentle reminder to myself that this “sober thing” takes not only time but also patience and work. I am not going to have my issues fixed overnight. (eek, passive voice…at least I am recognizing the victim role today). I am going to have to be open, to be introspective, and to be willing to know that being sober isn’t the end all be all to good health.

Friday, I called a woman from the group I attend and complained of the anxiety I had facing the day. How do I calm down? What should I do? She so kindly expressed pause, pray, proceed. Oh yes. I can do THAT! So, I thanked her and hung up ready to tackle this anxiety in a newly applied perspective.

But, that didn’t happen. I let the old tapes play without realizing it. I forgot what she said nearly as soon as I hung up. I went about my day, got myself worked up, drug others into my crap, and rallied support. All behaviors I swear I want to change.

She called me after work and off I went on my rant, a completely different issue I created from the morning one. All she said was, “Are you going to go to a meeting tonight?”

Nope. I had an excuse for that too. My husband had to work late and I had (insert victim voice here ) NO ONE to watch my children.

So, naturally, as the night wore on, I didn’t feel better. In fact, I felt worse. So, my husband returns, we talk briefly and I start crying. I finally figure out that I am angry. Most of my anger is self-directed. I am angry at myself for getting worked up; I am angry for allowing other people to dictate my mood for the day; I am angry with myself for feeling the false security in making sure I had enough other people to agree with me so I was justified in my frustration. All very sick, very old tapes.

The feeling that disturbs me the most is the fact that I reached out, called a sober member, heard her words, and then failed to put into action the very advice I sought. The feeling is disappointment.

But rather than spend another day wasted, I am going to call the dear woman, explain what I figured out and tell her to please either hang up next time or directly call me on my bs (OR maybe allow her to deal with me how she sees fit; she does, after all, have a few more years sober than I do…)

The bottom line is, this process is long, painful, and uncomfortable.I didn’t really see that the first 30 days. Why? Because I was too busy worrying about not drinking and acting as if I were working a clean, honest program. Cunning, deceitful, and powerful. I fell right into my old behavior under the guise of sober health. HA! Will this happen again? I’m sure of it. Maybe, though, it won’t take me 24 hours to call myself out.

I also have to recognize that this behavior has 44 years on me; the erosion of the old behavior is going to take some time. So, for today, I have to do the next right thing. Yesterday is gone; tomorrow is not here. Today is my concern.

In the meantime, I have a phone call to make.