Henny Penny

When I was drinking I always waiting for the sky to fall.  And most times, it did. When I have looked back at my drinking career, I tried to really understand what role I played when drinking.  When the party was on, so was I.  I had a few blackouts, yes.  BUT most of the time I was the person that kept my wits about me to a degree.I would grab my friend that was on the pool table or fighting with her boyfriend and get us out of trouble.

I Had My Rules

  1. When I went home with someone or someone came home with me, I was traveling alone.
  2. If  there was dancing, no dipping
  3. And NO shots.

I often traveled alone. Once my marriage broke up, my broken heart seemed to need alcohol, needed the soothing of alcohol, the forgetting of alcohol.  I couldn’t fix my feelings without it. I never realized that I had married a guy that I wanted to fix either.  When he abandoned me for another woman, I couldn’t live peacefully without numbing myself to live on without him.

On The Outside 

People would see someone smiling, laughing, someone that was fun to be around. But things weren’t like that on the inside.  As the years rolled on and I turned into a daily drinker just to keep my head on my shoulders, there was no party.  There was no laughing or smiling.  There was the whimpering of the broken heart I could never get beyond.  My decisions laid over the top of this volcano of smoldering emotion that only knew extremes.  And before I did “The Steps,”  I never knew that this abandonment thing was something rooted in my ex husband’s  childhood, my childhood  and my father’s childhood. It was a pattern and I never stopped long enough to see it.  To accept it.

The Waiting Gamehennypennysleeve1

I was just like Henny Penny, waiting for the sky to fall because an acorn hit her head. Even when nothing at all was happening, it would feel like something was about to cause my my world to cave in.  Abandonment is a hard thing to sort through, especially when you have no idea that it is there. In my case, I married a guy that had abandonment issues, similar to those of my father.  I never figured it out until I did The Steps and I learned.



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.


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.


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.