Call Me Pollyanna…

Life has been dealing some tough hands around my house lately.  It is has been “Life on Life’s Terms” time of my Recovery in heaping helpings…

pollyannaSaturday night, I frequently go to a Speaker Meeting.  Of course it is all new, I am about 3 1/2 years in-a Day At A Time-and weekends were “party time.” I could drink openly and not sneak it.  Now I hang out with other alcoholics that are working to stay away from a drink.  Many are BEYOND the obsession and craving.  I have been (THANK GOD) for a long time, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think about the “good ole days” don’t play the scene all the way through, I only want to remember the good parts.

Sober and Awake

At 8:30 last night I was brushing my teeth and getting ready for bed, sounds exciting, right?  I heard a funny hissing noise and went to check it out.  It took a while, but finally it was discovered.  A large leak in a steam boiler in my house.  (I live in a 225 year old farmhouse) so things are old but the “furnace guy” had been over Thursday to winterize everything, clean, etc.

I called him – he too, was sober and awake.  Walked me through what to do to make it stop until he could get here in the morning.  The leaking (more like gushing) from the furnace stopped.  Then the work started to get to all the radiators that were leaking water too (all over the floors.)  It was a mess but doable.

It was 11:00 and a shower later I was getting to bed.  My furnace guy came and fixed it up by noon on a Sunday.  No charge.

Why I am Thankful

Often I am away on weekends.  If this had happened without an “intervention” there could have been extensive damage.  What ended up happening was an inconvenience not a disaster.  “Back in the Day,” I may have been drunk and not known what to do or perhaps not heard it at all.  Or even today, I could have been away for the weekend.  But I wasn’t, I was home and within 12 hours all was well.

Hangover

I don’t mind saying that I didn’t sleep very well, I was pretty freaked out right after it happened thinking about “what might have been.” Not sure what to expect when repairs were to be made.  And the guilt hangover that I would have had along with lots of damage if I had been drinking and didn’t know it was happening.

All of what could have happened, didn’t.  But I still have those instant old fearful feelings, leftover from old behaviors that I don’t do anymore.  $hit still happens and I am grateful that it all worked out.

 

*Thank you Queen of Your Own Life for the use of your image. 

 

 

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Acceptance

Usually when I someone tells me this I want to choke them.  I know “And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed…”

Blah, effing blah, effing blah all ready!

Isn’t It A Fine Line?

2dollarwatchSo often by the time I hear the word “Acceptance” from someone in the program, I am wound up “tighter than a 2 dollar watch.”  I am either pissed off and frustrated or sad and close to tears.  It is hard for me to identify when I accept something as it is or if I am avoiding dealing with it all together.

I go to this meeting that is mostly a group of Old Timers, it is small- sometimes 5 people sometimes 25.  It is a Discussion Meeting. It is a real anchor to my normal Home Group shelter meetings where the sobriety is so green you can smell it. Probably this other meeting at any one point there is a couple hundred years of sobriety present. Lots of wisdom in all shapes and sizes.

One of the Old Timers came in sat down next to me and was reciting and a whisper, “Acceptance, acceptance, acceptance.”  Of course naturally I figured he was talking to me, because at that moment everything in the universe revolved around me.

Decisions, Decisions

My whole life I have made snap decisions.  While some of them I could honestly say came from my gut.  All along my HP has been with me. I felt that I was being told to do something – I was listening. But near the end of my drinking, many of my decisions were emotion based, and based in reaction mode. Storm off, snap at someone.  I learned not to trust myself. When I first got sober, it was hard to know which decision was a reactive, emotional situation or an honest, gut, “God Bomb” moment. Today, I am trying very hard to “sit” with my decisions, especially those tough ones.

The Old Timer

Back to our Monday night Discussion Meeting…we talked a bit about life and the weather before the meeting but it wasn’t until he shared to the group about a very serious operation he is going to need in a couple of weeks. How he is frightened.  How he is hoping people could connect with him (he lives alone.) Maybe be willing to drive him to a meeting or two.  We all circled around him with phone numbers and learned the dates of his procedure.

The Lessons of the Program

His whispering “Acceptance” over and over had nothing to do with HIM telling ME what to do, HE was telling HIMself what to do.  Yeah, I learned humility too, that night.

 

 

 

The Sounds Of Silence

When I first got sober, my head felt like it was in a fog, followed by it feeling like it was mush.  And almost right away, I was sleeping thru the night again and wanting to take naps during the day.  My Sponsor said that was pretty normal as that is what Recovery is all about.

It wasn’t just not drinking, I was in Recovery mode, my mind and body were healing themselves at their own pace.  I had spent my whole life being impatient with things, wanting them yesterday, tapping my foot until things happened.  Recovery didn’t happen as quickly as I wanted it to or as I expected it to. I honestly think that as long as I CHOOSE Recovery I will be in it.  I do not believe that I will ever be cured. I feel that Recovery is part of my Journey of Life.

Just like when I was drinking, I had friends that were a little out of the norm, I have always loved people in general and in Recovery, I found lots of different people, mostly creatives from all creeds and colors. Meeting new people that were just like me underneath the color of their skin or the first language they spoke has been part of the joys of AA.

Peace

One of my friends has 18 years of sobriety.  He was from Native American roots photo_dreamcatcherand sported a beautiful white ponytail with a smile and a hug for everyone he sees.  I have spoken about him in this blog before. He is an open minded soul that is willing to take people at face value and forgives those that disappoint with a shrug and a smile saying, “But Janis, they are alcoholics.”  We will then give a giggle or two reminding me that in AA, the goal is to not judge people, we don’t take other people’s inventory, we accept and move on.

At one point he told me about something called “Noise sensitivity.”  I had never heard of that before except that I knew my father seemed to have been usually reactive to loud noises.  Mostly constant ones, songs we would crank on the radio as kids would often be accompanied by him yelling up the stairs with “TURN THAT SHIT OFF!” Telling my Mom not to run the appliances when he got home from work because he listened to machines, saws, drills, compressors, all day long.

Of course, we just thought he was a jerk (more on that another time), but I have come to learn his noise sensitivity was not something he could help.  The anxiety and his ill temper was part of the effect of that noise sensitivity.  When I got sober, I became keenly sensitive to all kinds of things.  My emotions were raw, I would cry at the drop of a hat and my feelings were just looking for a place to be hurt.  The whole thing reminded me of all the reasons I drank.  I didn’t want to feel, I didn’t know how.

Turning Down the Music

My friend suggested I try noticing how my mood was then I turned down the tunes or chose different, more calm music.  I knew that when driving was dicey in snowstorms, I would turn off the music altogether.  The noise outside certainly added to the noise inside – especially early on.  Now I am very aware of how noise affects me, I often leave a room when there are lots of beeps or buzzing and certainly if there are people shouting-even if they are watching sports.  And it helps me regulate my mood.  It seems that when I slow down, stop and check in on exterior noises it keeps things on an even keel for me.  Sure I still love to belt out “Me and Bobby Mc Gee,” but I am learning balance.  Who knew that this would happen?

Who knew that this would happen?

 

 

Being Nice to Myself and it was FREE!

My last post talked a little about “self care.” I had no idea what that meant.  I had lived in chaos either created by others that I hung out with or I created myself, I had no idea that there was such an idea as no chaos.  Chaos was my normal.  Chaos made me choose drinking, when I didn’t know how to deal with chaos/life.

Change of Pace

When I stopped drinking, I unplugged my coping mechanism.  But the chaos was still around me, the chaos was still in me.  And If I hadn’t had meetings to go to, I would have no idea that this was normal  but, there were other options other than drinking. And how would I? It was a lifetime solution and it was my father’s solution. This was my first introduction to being nice to myself. Giving myself credit for trying to do something different.  Something that certainly looked better.  Seeing people around a room, people that felt just like me and were dealing with life without drinking or drugs.  So I took a deep breath and said to myself, “I want this and I am working for it.”  That was being nice to myself.

Hypersensitive

Chaos for me hid in some very unexpected places.  People and family were obvious.  Traffic and my phone also obvious.  But what I didn’t know was that as I was in early recovery everything seemed overwhelming.  I was still in the detoxing stage I think. Though the shakes had stopped, I found I had fog in my head. I would cry or feel like crying.  Most of the time, I didn’t know why.  Again, someone in the fellowship told me it was “normal.”

If you drive, do you ever find that when you get into bad weather or a tense situation you turn off or down the radio without even thinking about it?  Well, that’s me.  I learned early in recovery that the music on the radio or on my ipod that I had been listening to when I was drinking caused some anxiety. Just hearing it. Some people called it a “trigger.”  It didn’t make me run to a drink, but it did make me feel that same chaos that over time may have made me choose to drink.  I stopped listening to that music like I had been.  I listen to it again a little now, but I have noticed that something more mellow helped to soothe me rather than “revving me up.”  I learned that listening to different music (or no music at all), was being nice to myself.

And it was FREE.

I Still Hate Sunday Nights

Sunday nights meant Monday mornings. In the old days, it was about pulling it together to go to work Monday mornings. It was only a few times I didn’t, I managed to function even at the end of my drinking days.

Same Ole Story
Now I am sober and as I have mentioned previously, I have not changed my job situation.  One reason, I am an owner in the company.  When I got sober I took my partners to lunch and apologized, explained that I was getting help.  They were as supportive as they knew how to be but since that conversation about 2 1/2 years ago, lots have changed.  One thing is, ME.

Truth
Being in recovery, I recognize things I never used to notice.  We are business partners and not close friends. We never have been.  We don’t and never have done anything socially.  I honestly don’t think they are capable of having real friends. Neither of them do to this day.  And of course, when I started going to AA and learning more and more about REAL relationships, the more the “notsoreal” relationships faded from my life.  This is the remaining relationship that I am in because I made a commitment that I am trying to live by.

Lies
One partner put his house on the market and has moved his family about 400 miles away.  At the time, we were told that it was a temporary thing, there were some elder care issues. Once the FOR SALE sign goes up it seems less than temporary.  The sign was up before I knew.  The idea was perhaps growing the business.  To this date, a year and a half later the business is not coming in.  He only criticizes this area and repeats statements that he believes we are backward here.  Then the other one has become a Department Head at a local university and is dividing his time significantly – he lives more than an hour away and recently complained that he is working 80 hours a week.  The 80 hours is not for our company.  I have a hard time feeling compassionate when it is his choice to put his commitment with our company on the back burner and we are supposed to move all our schedules around to accommodate these two men, for meetings, calls, etc.

Third Step
I don’t know how many times I have recited the Third Step Prayer in the parking lot before I have gone into my office.  I manage to get through the days but again, here I am on a Sunday night feeling major anxiety.  They treat me like shit, they treat our employees like shit unless they want something.  I have told both of them things are not acceptable but since I “outed” myself as an alcoholic they have distanced themselves even further than before. I am tired to talking to brick walls.

Test
I know my HP won’t give me anything more than I can handle, but it is hard to reach down and believe that it is all going to work out the way it is supposed to.

Loving the CrossFIRE

I often go to a meeting on Sunday night at 5:00pm in the next town.   Last night, I was thinking I wasn’t going to go, then my Sponsor texted me and asked if I wanted to ride with her to that meeting.  (She hardly ever goes to that meeting.)  I took that as a sign, when my Sponsor asks me to go to a meeting with her, I go.

Quiet Ride

This particular meeting is about 25 minutes from my house.  I usually drive alone and I have time to listen to Public Radio on the way and again on the way home. Riding with my sponsor meant, she drove and we talked the whole way.  She shared with me a situation she was dealing with and I could feel the anxiety she was feeling. The meeting was a good one but as we talked on the way home, she was getting pretty wound up – I could see she was applying her “situation” anxiety to some of her existing feelings of some of the folks at the meeting.

By the time I got out of her car, I was jumping out of my skin.  She apologized for getting so jazzed and thanked me for being her sounding board.  Once I got into the house, a football game was wrapping up and our favorite team was bringing it down to the wire, behind by a field goal.  WHAM!  I felt that when I walked into the house.

Agitation

For the rest of the evening, I was agitated.  What I should have done was take a bath or something else relaxing, I just couldn’t.  Instead, my OWN anxiety started churning about work on Monday and our Staff Meeting Monday afternoon.  I tried to meditate before bed and I did sit, but my mind was still racing.  There is a lot of things up in the air with my job and Sunday nights and Monday mornings have managed to become anxiety machines in their own right.  Taking on my Sponsor’s battles (which she never asked me to do), was a bad idea. The funny thing is, I made all these choices, I did all of it, knowing it was going on and I just chose to let it keep on going.  I mean this is stuff that makes me drink and I need to look at this seriously.  So here I am spilling my guts to you guys, understanding now – it’s Monday.  Thanks for listening.

Did You Forget Me?

It is obvious that it has been a long time since I have done a post. Somehow I have managed to delete my writing TWICE tonight and if I delete this time I will scream – not drink, scream.

First, I need to process, that is why I do this blog, I am not sure if many people read it even, I hope if you do, you enjoy it and it helps a little. Recovery is hard work and some days REALLY SUCK. Today was one of those days for me.

What has been going on:

  • On June 20, I celebrated 365 days. SOBER! 1 YEAR!! No booze. My friend Andy and his wife came up to my celebration. You may remember me telling you about Andy, it was he that got me to AA. A year before I got to AA, Andy was in town for a business trip (he lives 4 hours away) he contacted me saying he wanted to get together, he needed to make amends. I had no idea what that meant but I hadn’t seen him for 20 years and I was happy to see him no matter what the reason was. We got together (and thank GOD I drank iced tea.) He made his amends and that planted the seed for me. Though I wasn’t sure and even now, don’t know what those amends were for, I realize they were for him and I was happy for that. But of course “The Higher Power” was at work and when I was wondering if I needed to go to AA, it was Andy that I called. He also drove 4 hours through a snowstorm to celebrate my 6 month anniversary with me. One of the many gifts of “The Program.”
  • A couple days later I ended up in the Emergency Room with an asthma attack. In fact there have been a couple of asthma and breathing issues this summer. My allergies kicked in, I was a mess and so began a 3 month stint with various steroids which I am now off – but about 15 pounds heavier! I am learning that I used to soothe my anxiety and everything else with vodka – I hadn’t had a full blown asthma attack in about 20 years.  That is an intro to another topic later on.
  • Drove to and from my nephew’s High School, 16 hours in a car with my mom we left her house at 5am to catch a Ferry at 9, got there just in time to make the 8, got to the Graduation, slept over, drove back the next day and was home sweet home by 8pm. WHAT A WHIRLWIND. I think the prednisone helped – I am not known for sleeping when I have to take that crap!
  • We had family vacations, a couple deaths and I didn’t drink. It is all of course due to a shit load of meetings and all the other stuff I hear at all of those meetings. I have worked the steps and am doing my best to live them.

So that is that. Day 448. Giddyup!

More posts on the way, but I needed a “catch up” post, well you know, because that is how I am!