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.