Out

With a little over 2 1/2 years in Recovery and not a public “crash and burn” there are still many people in my life that don’t know I am IN RECOVERY.  Many of my old friends and family know I am not drinking. Most of them have no idea the pain I was in before I made that decision.  When I isolated, drank in private, seemed to pull it together when needed, I liked to consider myself “high functioning.”  But like all things in Recovery, there are unexpected blessings and challenges that come with a quiet surrender over a public, desperate one.

Wreckage

I am grateful to my Sponsor and to people in meetings reminding me how cruel I was to myself.  How I actually detested myself.  And because I hated myself so much it seems, I put more energy into being cruel to me than to others.  (Although I had my fair share of amends to make.)  I have some family members that I have not told of my alcoholism. Many of them I don’t see, except big family affairs and Thank God I never acted out in their presence.  I do have a favorite niece that I have wanted to tell.  I only see her a couple times a year but she is a lot like me.  She is 34 years old.  She has a lot of my characteristics.  She has a step-father that drank a lot, therefore, she barely drinks at all.  The impression was made on her that “some people shouldn’t drink.”  I had been looking for guidance to my Higher Power about what I should say and when should I say it.

The Light

This past weekend, my niece and her boyfriend decided to make the drive to our camp.  He 2014-07-04 05.52.36wanted to ski and she just wanted to hang out with my Mom and I.  I did a couple 3rd Step Prayers but decided I wouldn’t force it or avoid the subject.  I wanted to go to a meeting Saturday, I didn’t want to lie about where I was going.

It wasn’t long after they arrived, everything was unpacked we were sitting around listening to music and talking.  She brought up something about her stepfather and his drinking and all of a sudden I just said, “Well, you know I stopped drinking a couple years ago, I learned I was an alcoholic.”  She said, “Well Auntie, I knew you stopped drinking and seem lot more mellow these days.”  I said, “Yeah, I feel a lot better.  I had no idea what was going on with me until I started going to AA Meetings.”  She said, “I am so happy for you and I am proud of you.”

Certainly, not how I expected to tell her and certainly not how I expected her to react.  But I guess I got what my Higher Power decided was best.  It was so much easier and natural.  Honest.  Not some kind of big family meeting, just she, her boyfriend and I in conversation.

The weekend went great.  The skiing was great.  And I am once again grateful.  Just like the old timers say, “When I get out of the way, things go so much smoother!”

 

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“Recovery is a Collaboration between Your Intellect and Your Spirit”

A couple weeks ago I went to a local publisher’s Open House on a lark.  In fact, I don’t even know how I happened to receive the email but I did and I went.  It was a beautiful Saturday in January, the place is located on the coast of Maine it took about a little over an hour to find.  It was an effort, I gave up my Saturday, but I am learning that this book project is not mine, it’s ours.   I am being led.  Every time I put this idea down thinking that this is just a place for me to throw out thoughts from my spinning head, something like an unsolicited email comes to me inviting me on a “blue bird” day to an Open House to a place I had never heard of before.

Maine Author’s Publishing is a place that is more than a publisher.  They nurture writers MAP_booksand the writing process.  The classes they offer are reasonably priced and tailored to the inspiring writer. There is a “Buffett” style of services, you pick what you need. Perhaps there is a place like “MAP”  in your area? If you are from Maine, I certainly recommend them as a place to network at the very least, connect with the writing community and perhaps if is your cup of tea, publish something. Some of these writers publish 100 copies for their family use.  MAP will help when bigger places have no interest.

Writing Coach

I met someone special when I went there and like most things with this book, I am amazed at how special she is.  She is a Writing Coach, she offers classes as well as one-on-one coaching.  After I “pitched” (which I had no idea that was what I was doing), my idea to her she gave me her card.  After a few follow up emails, we agreed on a place to meet for an hour’s coaching to start.

The meeting flew by and she was incredible. I have been working on this book on and off since my Sobriety Date in 2013, not being sure until a couple months ago that this was what I am supposed to do.  I have some skills at being organized, writing, have this blog plus tons of other notes.  But what I don’t have is direction, priority.  I don’t know “First things First” when it comes to writing and PUBLISHING a book.  Direction is what she gave me.  Now I know what Writing Coaches do.  In “Recovery Speak” she is my Writing Sponsor. She helps keep me on the beam.

Early in our meeting she said, “Recovery is a Collaboration between Your Intellect and Your Spirit.”

I think I have a winner.  Stay tuned.  The next few months are going to be a whirlwind with Experience, Strength, and Hope at every turn.

I Get What I Need When I am Willing

Sandwich SignMeetings are important to me.  I love them.  I am active in my Home Group at the Shelter and enjoy outside meetings from my Home Group.  My Home Group is responsible for a meeting every day. 7 days a week – Early Bird Grapevine, Monday thru Friday.  Saturday is Living Sober and Sunday is 12 and 12.  If I could only go to the Shelter meetings I would make a meeting every day.

People have referred to the Shelter Meetings are the “Front Line of Recovery.” “White knuckle” sobriety.  Lots of relapses, many newcomers.  And though I am dedicated to the Shelter Meetings, I find for my own Recovery, I need some exposure to some long term, (or old timers) to balance things off.

Shelter Meetings remind me of how it was like to be in Early Recovery.  Other meetings with people having years of sobriety, help me know how to live in Recovery. It is perspective.  The Shelter Meetings are helpful in getting a double dose of gratitude and the stories remind me that it isn’t any better “out there” since I entered my new life.

Road Trips

When I travel for work, I try to attend meetings also. Sometimes my travels take me to places where there is one meeting per week or none at all. Often times the meetings are scheduled outside of my trip.  Still, I seem to manage to make one and people are usually friendly.  (Not always, some meetings people don’t introduce themselves at all. My sponsor told me once that my goal should be to attend a meeting without any other expectations. That has been great advice on the road or in my hometown.)

Last week, I was in an area where there were plenty of old timers.  Not only were they old people (I am in my early 50’s) but they had 15, 20, 30 years under their belts.  They all know each other, in fact, there was a knitting group of 6 women that only talked to each other.  The men sat with their arms crossed and would speak when spoken to only.

Friendly Reminder

As the meeting got under way, I was glad that I was there, though still I did feel like an outsider.  I decided that when I returned to my Shelter Group, I would make more of an effort to look out for visitors and do my part in helping them to feel welcome. Summer is coming and there is a lot of tourism that brings people through. We made a sign recently and put it out front so folks wouldn’t have to be intimidated by coming to the Shelter and wondering if they were in the right spot.

Sometimes being “turned off” shows me things I need to see.  I needed to feel left out so I would be aware of what I can to do reach out the hand of AA on my turf.

 

Full Throttle Senses

As I frequently mention, I am not a Doctor, a social worker or a counselor of any sort.  My trainer was called “LIFE.”  Mine.  Experiences are mine and shared experiences with others. When I share on this blog it is merely an attempt to sort out things happening with me in hopes that someone reading may connect and find comfort. The daily journey with our disease is unique to each of us.  I find that knowing I am not in this fight alone, it is more possible and my “daily reprieve” lets me live a life without being consumed with the thoughts of wanting that drink.

Here Come Those Tears Again…

Early in Recovery, it seemed that I would cry at the drop of a hat.  When I started meditating in a class of non-alcoholics in the prolonged silence the tears would stream down my cheeks. And in that silence, I was thawing out. I was thawing out in safety and that needed to happen.  All those years of “stuffing” bubbled up and when there was no alcohol to “soothe” them, they just flowed freely.  I survived and it was not a bad thing.

I find now that I need to be keenly aware of what some people call “triggers.”  Personally, I am not a person that is “triggered” by one thing  inasmuch as I am a “cup runneth over” type.  Controlling those things that fill my cup, the good and the bad is critical to the “Happy, Joyous and Free” factor of my life.

For Example:

As I write this today, I write in silence.  No background noise except the occasional dog bark, cars going by outside my window.  I don’t have the music on.  Most of the time I do have music playing and I select the type of music based on how I feel that day.  I was up and doing a radio show before 6am which is fun and exciting for me, lots of switching gears and interaction. By 8:30 I am getting into my “real job” and I can feel the effects of “over-stimulation.”  (All the coffee doesn’t help either.)  ONAIR

What Does This Mean?

Now that I am in Recovery and sober I feel things.  After a couple years, I am beginning to be comfortable with those feelings.  Rather than dulling those feelings with booze, I try to manage them with the sounds, smells, and visuals in my workspace.  By doing this, I am not only allowing more serenity in but not being snappy or sarcastic with others around me.  A smart-ass comeback isn’t always funny, especially when I am reacting to something rather than responding thoughtfully.

If you are early in Recovery, take a look at your environment around you.  What things can you control? Music or talk on the radio, the places I go before and after an appointment (quiet and calm or busy and loud) even the aromas around me, seem to help me manage my day.  I never knew it could be that easy, but then again I never bothered to notice because I was drinking it all away.

How about you?  

110 % is a Tough Number

I am a “pedal to the medal” type of person.  When I “sign up” for something, I am all in.  No 110%Then a short time down the road I realize I am unable to do 110%, I get frustrated, blame myself for being a failure and take my RESERVED seat on the “Pity Pot.”  I cannot speak for other alcoholics and addicts but for myself, this is definitely the case.

Singleness of Purpose

When I came into the Halls of Alcoholics Anonymous, I was beaten.  Beaten down by myself, by my disease. Unlike many, I had not arrived at my first meeting after a hospital stay or fresh from prison.  My first couple meetings (which were at a Homeless Shelter), I questioned that perhaps I wasn’t an alcoholic and I don’t mind saying that scared me more than thinking I WAS!  For the first time in my life, I was in a room full of people where I felt I belonged.  We all came from different backgrounds but we had one mission.  NOT TO DRINK.  We all had a “Desire to stop drinking.”  That was all that mattered.

Doing Things Differently

During early recovery, I remained focused on learning how to live without a drink in my hand.  Since most of the time I “boosted” my coffee, tea, diet pepsi, anything I was drinking with vodka.  (I used to call it Vitamin V.) Then subsequently, I needed to learn how to live sober.  Almost every thing I did in my day, allowed me to be drinking something.  I would go to meetings with a Diet Mountain Dew laced with vodka, I never got caught. It took a lot of planning but that was how it went and my buzz was secure.

A New Way of Thinking

Since doing the Steps, I was able to recognize things about myself that I never knew.  Knowing these things have been so helpful to my life today.  I learned that I often set myself up for failure.  I take everything so seriously, dive in and cannot maintain the level of dedication that I start with. Today, I am putting one foot in front of the other and taking notice when I need to be kinder to myself.

The only thing I have to do 100%  (and not 110%), of the time, is to never, ever forget I am powerless over alcohol.