Another New Day

I have never doubted the existence of a higher power.  Or at least I always wanted to blame Him for all the bad in my world.  Now that I am sober for a while I am actually watching things happen that I know I had nothing to do with, I know he is there.

Growing Pains

It is no secret that in the last couple of weeks I have been somewhat of a head case.  I haven’t been drinking but for me working the steps has really been exhausting mentally.  I have uncovered some stuff that I had no idea I had stuffed away and having it jump right out in front of me wasn’t something I wanted to handle without alcohol.  I did manage it through a lot of prayer and focusing on meditation.  Meditation is something I still don’t know much about but I am trying to do it at least once a day for 10 minutes and praying too.  Last week I used both every day just to soothe my head from spinning.  I also called my sponsor and went to more meetings than usual.  I can only think that is the work of my Higher Power reminding me to put my will in his hands.  I know this is what needs to happen but my knee jerk reaction is to try to do it my way even though I know my way has not always worked out all that well!

Demark

I know my Higher Power has a plan.  I know only He knows what that is.  I know I am in the plan but it isn’t my plan nor am I the only thing in the plan.  So I am trying to figure out where the point is that I am to live my life and where I am supposed to go along for the ride.  Where is the point of Demarkation?   I guess I will continue to pray about it.

This Weekend

I felt pretty peaceful yesterday, got some things done for work and for home even though it was a Saturday, when you own your own place it is often you just do the things that come up when they come up and not wait until the work week to do them.  Also with everyone I know on Facebook, it being the month of Thanksgiving, people are posting things they are grateful for.

Gratitude is under rated. A simple “Thank You” for people seems nearly impossible.  I remember my first AA meetings at the Homeless Shelter, these folks with nothing but a backpack with their belongings were surprisingly polite.  It was noticeable to me.

My Gratitude List

Most of the people that I know keeping Gratitude Lists are not like me.  And many are listing their Gratitude so others can see it not because they truly are grateful for anything but themselves. Until yesterday, I resisted having my own Gratitude List.  My Sponsor never required me to do it though I have heard about them in Meetings.  Yesterday, I was listening to an audiobook that once again mentioned them and I took it that my Higher Power was sending me a gentle reminder.  Start your list, Janis!  So I did.  I realized once I started writing things down, I really didn’t know what the hell I was doing.  So I went to Google and got some tips  3-5 things per day, pick a time, write the things down every day, not just for the month of November.  After a few weeks of doing it, coming up with different things every day, would change my thinking.  So I am trying it.  All the other things I have changed in the last 5 months, why not do this? At least I am not drinking…(add that to the list!)

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Road Sodas

In the last year or so of my drinking there was hardly a time when there wasn’t some kind of mixology going on in my car. In the early days it would be a beer, straight up in the cup holder on the way to camp. Or when we were fishing there would be a beer open some place but somehow I graduated.

The Famous Coffee Cup

On weekends or fishing trips, vacations where 24 hour drinking was not frowned upon and widely participated in, there was some sort of innocuous looking drinking vessel. One of my friends used a “sippy cup” and others reused fast food soft drink cups, that deteriorated into mushy wax coated messes after a couple days. But at some point the weekends, special occasions and vacation calamity turned into real life.

At The End

I was always carrying a cheap vodka bottle in the back of my car, wrapped up into a plastic grocery bag often with a towel around it or in a canvas grocery bag so people wouldn’t see it easily if they looked into the back of my car. People like professional friends or “police” if they  had pulled me over, which thank God didn’t happen.  I would carefully watch the level of that bottle in order to make sure I “had what I needed.”  Had what I needed until I could get to the store without anyone with me to know how much booze I would buy.

Alcohol Doesn’t Freeze

At least it didn’t for me and where I live it can be sub zero and even 30 below at night in January. Damn cold, even if you are vodka. Last winter, I was up to camp and that day I left, I knew there was going to be no way I could sneak anything out of camp for the morning “chills.” I would have to resort to my stash in my car. So I made a cup of tea and put it into a travel mug as I watched myself shake to pour it into the mug, I was hoping no one was watching. I climbed into my car and proceeded down the wintry road, wondering where I could pull over and add a dash of courage to calm my nerves. We had high snow banks so this was to be tricky. I did find a store and under cloak and dagger, I managed to quickly unwrap the stash, pour it into my tea and return the bottle to the bag and the travel mug to the cup holder without incident. I was never sure if the shaking was from my withdrawals or from the stress of “getting caught” dumping several ounces of vodka into a travel mug parked in my car on the side of the road. It probably was some of both but the feeling of relief I had as I brought the travel mug to my lips and downed my first “fix” of the day of now ICED TEA – what was hot was now freezing cold with ice floating in it from the cold vodka I had dumped into it.

THAT was Insanity

I remember hearing in meetings the term “insanity” thrown around like it was nothing. To me, insanity meant a person with urine stained pants, shouting out obscenities at innocent bystanders or the like. It certainly wouldn’t be someone like me, employed, running a thousand miles an hour, making things happen. But was I?  I was doing so many things like mixing booze in coffee, tea, diet pepsi from a fast food joint, from sunrise to sunset and I thought I had it all figured out. And people now haven’t come up with anything earth shattering to mention that they knew I was showing up to meetings, engagements, etc. with a buzz on. Actually that buzz was a leftover shakefest that needed to be dealt with along with some sort of “minty finish.”

Definitions Change as Time Rolls On

I mentioned what I thought insanity was above. But now looking back at it I can think of so many deceptive moves that my disease did for me that has made me redefine insane and insanity. Sure I didn’t walk down the street and point at the sky and talk to it or randomly yell at people. But I smuggled booze in tote bags, hid them behind bookcases in my bedroom at camp so I could add some of my medicine to something that looked nonalcoholic when I made the excuse to go make my bed. Meanwhile stressing out at the possibility that someone may find my stash or knock over my tote bag.

Hell no, that isn’t insane…

Treading Water

Well I haven’t done anything rash since my last post except pray more, meditate, call my sponsor a couple times and doubled up on meetings.  That is all I have in my toolbox right now and I am using it.  Sometimes I just have to get out of my head!

Thank God For Different Meetings

I am grateful to the fact that I live in an area where there are many meetings throughout the day and many options to the type of meetings we have.  After being in a fog yesterday and just having a general feeling of doom and sh*ttiness, once I got my blog post written I learned that I needed another meeting.  Usually when I have a “monkey brain” with twists of fear/sadness/anger included, well in the old days I drank.  Yesterday I didn’t.  Last night I didn’t. Instead I went to a Discussion group with my Sponsor.  Not a big group, but lots and lots of sobriety.

Process Process Process

I got a call from the Medicine Man and we just “processed.”  I love that, no judgement, no advice, no pressure, just blah, blah, blah.  Neither one of us expected to FIX anything or even give extensive advice.  We both shared other stories that had nothing to do with how we were feeling individually.  You know, like friends do.  Alcoholics make great friends.  Since I “joined” this group of folks, I have found some of the coolest people on the planet. AND I have found some of the coolest people on the planet that I knew OUTSIDE of AA were in the program and I had no idea.  They just were relaxed folks and I liked them. Now I find our they are Alcoholic!!   HA HA HA!!

Standing Still

It isn’t a bad thing.  And this morning I went to a meeting and I am going again tonight.  I haven’t solved anything or done anything.  Most importantly, I didn’t drink.

If Nothing Changes…then everything changes?

Some days I feel really frustrated that my problems are still my problems.  Life is still life.  But I am finding that all this “honesty” is really putting a crimp in my style.  Dysfunction was so much in my life that I had no idea how screwy things were and when I started to feel, out came the old anesthesia bottle and it numbed the feelings, made the feelings seem less intense.  And then the haze was welcome but now it is clearing and I cannot live in lies anymore.

I Hate Surprises

I am not too fond of surprises.  I didn’t even like my 40th Birthday Party, well once I got drunk it was ok but before that I didn’t like it.  Once something gets stewing in my head I don’t really like that either.  Because well, that means I have to do “something.”  And I am not one to do “nothing” even when it may make sense.  Without alcohol I used to put off decisions all the time.  It made life easier or it felt like it at the time.

Rose Colored Glasses

Working the steps and having the fog lift, my life has just gotten more complicated than I want it to.  Like many of us, patience is not a virtue of mine either. As some of my long sober friends have said, “It’s hard work.”  I had no idea what that meant.  These days I seem to understand it more and more.  I find myself spinning around with little or no resolve.  One thing in particular is a relationship thing that I need to change drastically.  It happens to be with my business partners.  I am not sure how long I can go along with the charade that I was going along with before I got sober.  And as soon as I had a couple meetings under my belt I talked to them.  I thought I would get support or at least understanding.

I Just Cannot Live This Lie Anymore

If I only won the lottery I would walk away right this minute.  Since I am an owner I am pretty invested but to “sell out” my interest isn’t an option.  The value is negligible.  I have little or no savings I have invested for the long haul but the haul is over and I need to get away from this.  Last night I was awake spinning my wheels and I know it was because it was Sunday night and today is Monday.  I am looking only at myself and what part I have in it.  But I also am one person.  The two others have chosen to distant themselves from our company and our employees as well as from me.  Missing staff meetings, being late for staff meetings for one excuse or another.  Meanwhile I sit there and stew.  I don’t know what my next step is, I just know where I am standing right now and the only thing that is good about it is, I don’t have a drink in my hand.

The Day of the Jester

It’s funny when I was drinking, I didn’t realize that everything I did and how I acted was followed by an exclamation point.  The more alcohol, everything became CAPITALIZED  and in BOLD.  The  !!!  just got bigger and bigger until the only thing that was larger than life was the train wreck I had become.

“Chip” Club

I am not sure of the origin or why we have poker chips to mark our time in sobriety but we do. The first few months are plastic chips then they turn into some sort of metal-ish chip.  Again, I am not sure of why the colors are what they are or why they are poker chips but they become pretty special and the origin doesn’t matter.  At the end of our meetings (as I believe with most AA meetings),  the chips are held up and announced to the group to mark time in sobriety.  Some presenters have their own little funny saying when they hold up the chips. Like one man said when he held up the RED chip for “30 days and a thousand nights” and tho we all laugh it is because we all know how much “One Day At A Time” can mean and stringing 30 together is an accomplishment – especially when it is your first 30 days.

Purple

On Saturday, I celebrated my 5 month.  I collected my PURPLE chip in front of my home group. It was a small turn out but those close to me in AA, either came to the meeting or sent me a text.  My Sponsor came and she chaired the meeting.  It made me feel pretty special.  I call the Purple Chip the JESTER chip, because for me in the past 5 months and working the steps I can really see some not so attractive things about myself.  One of the biggest things that I have always known about myself is that I have a sense of humor about pretty much everything.  Sometimes that sense of humor gets turned on it’s head and it cuts like a knife into people.  When I was drinking, I don’t believe I always knew it was happening and sometimes (it gets worse…) I did not care.  Like I was even happy about it.  Pretty disgusting when you think of it.  Dumping on someone else because I think they deserved it.  And it made me feel better.  What a demon I was to do that.

Amends

Today, I met with my Sponsor and we were going through my “Amends” List. I cannot even begin to tell you how many people I need to apologize to because of this “pleasant” little flaw of mine.  Many of these “zingers” I am not sure I remember but I am sure that will come to me in time.  So Janis has some work to do.  Hopefully I wont get discouraged and throw in the towel.  I appreciate all of you for listening to me tonight.  I also appreciate my Sponsor for not making me feel worse than I all ready do.  I am really sure this is a “WE” program and with the grace of God, I will become a better person because of it.

Stop Raining On the Parade

There is no doubt that AA Meetings have a certain flow, rhythm, personality.  There are some meetings I go to BECAUSE of the personality.  When I first stopped drinking, I would hear people say, “This is a good meeting, lots of newcomers.”  or “This is a good meeting, lots of sobriety.”  But no matter what some meetings just end up leaving you feeling flat.

Getting Fed

My aunt always used to say that she went to church to “Get Fed.”  I wasn’t sure what that meant and since I was a rebellious type and it was church, I wanted no part of it.  But that is the way it is at AA Meetings for me.  The “Keep Coming Back” is something we all joke about at one point or another.  One of us says something in a tone of frustration or grief toward themselves and the only answer is, “Keep Coming Back.” Meaning if I “Keep Coming Back” the answer will be shown to me, only I am the only one that can find it.  Our fellows in AA say that to us in support of the craziness we may be feeling in our recovery.  They cannot fix it for us but they can love us through it.

Agendas

There are those that come to meetings with an agenda.  Many times that agenda conflicts with the “Single Point Of Purpose” of AA as well as the Tradition to place “Principles over Personalities.”  Sometimes depending on how intense the message is, if it attacks someone’s share or is blatantly hurtful I shut down and get angry on the inside.  I don’t say anything to the person because I really don’t have that much sobriety under my belt (tomorrow is Purple chip day in fact) to take on someone with a lot of sobriety that just has a hair across their a$$.  The other part of me writes them off and doesn’t want them around.  (I know add them to my list!)

Laughter is the Best Medicine

This happened a while ago at a meeting I was at and so was my friend (I call him the Medicine Man) was there too.  I must have had a look of horror on my face when I was leaving and he stopped me.  We briefly talked about what had happened and he whispered in my ear, “Pay no attention dearie, he is an alcoholic!”  I started laughing.  It broke the ice on the anger I was holding on to.  Of course he was right.  Alcoholism is a disease and each person is effected differently and each person has so many other issues (which is why we have the steps), just because the alcohol is out of the equation doesn’t mean the person isn’t a SOBER train wreck.

When this happened this morning at our early bird meeting, this man had a lot of things to say to people and about people, what they should do and what they should not do, once again, I found myself retreating inside. I was angry. He lashed out at the group and at people that had asked the group for support.

When I got out of the meeting, I called my sponsor, she and I had heard this guy before and she said, “He’s an alcoholic.  Just let it go.”   I didn’t really want to let it go and now several hours later I am still hanging on to it or I wouldn’t be writing about it.  I am reminded of the first time I heard that from the Medicine Man and it makes me smile all of a sudden.

It Takes a Village

So one guy has messed with my head today while so many others have been such a gift.  Medicine Man and my Sponsor keep perspective for me and you all are here to read my thoughts and I appreciate it.  I am not going to drink today and tomorrow morning I am going to pick up my 5 month purple chip, because I am an alcoholic.

When “Journey Road” is Under Construction

When I first stopped drinking I felt so horrid that just LIVING through it was all I cared about.  I did not go to the hospital, so I don’t want to overstate this but I had no idea how awful alcohol withdrawal could be – I know now that others have had it and have it  much worse than I did.

Resisting the “Check Off”

I am learning so much about myself these past few months some days I am drained.  I am still working and performing my job duties but there have been days I have flopped into bed at 7:30 at night and slept right through until 5:30 or 6 the next morning.  I feel beat but not BEAT UP, which was how it used to be.

Recovery Can Never Be “Checked Off”

My personality defects list includes lack of patience.  Lots of times that means I get a job done quickly only to “get it off the list” even though I do it in haste.  As far as I am concerned I have it done, I can move on to the next task.  Sometimes that rushed thing comes back to haunt me. Living is a journey I guess, people have said that to me before and I never really understood it.  Recovery is on “JOURNEY ROAD” for Janis.  And some days the road is bumpy and other days the road isn’t so bumpy.

Journey Road

When I was drinking, Journey Road‘s Bridge was washed out.  The river underneath where the bridge was, was flowing with vodka.  Every day I would wake up and take a swim in the river.  Near the end, I would try to wade across without falling in, finally I realized I needed a boat and get out of the river all together. I had to forge that river to get to the other side.  When I got to the other side of the river, the first few miles  of road were full of potholes, lots of bobbing and weaving. I had to go slowly to get through it without falling back into the puddles or if I went too fast, I would damage myself.  I think that is why I get so tired some days.

Me First, Me First

I am now trying to do some things for myself.  I used to do alot of things when I was drinking, going to the gym, etc. but my mind was in a different place.  I started doing yoga recently, I have someone I exercise with so I can do the things I want to do without pain.  It is a date 2x a week and yoga once a week.  It finally feels right to take time to do things right instead of just doing things to get them “off the list.”  So Journey Road is definitely “Under Construction” for me but I am on it and meeting new friends that join me every day.