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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Yesterday May Have Been a Little Too Much

Having a little bit of time under my belt, every now and then something happens and I am reminded…”Girl. you are in RECOVERY, take it easy.”  At least now I know that is what it is and not something REAL!  Most importantly, I don’t need to drink over it!

On The Road

I have a getaway cabin that my family uses.  I am slowly trying to convert it into my “Writing Hamlet” from my “Party Place.”  It is a nice place, not fancy but it has the ammenities.  It is a few hours from where I live.  About a month ago, I made a plan for the cable guy to come and upgrade my services so I get better internet.  As usual, I try to combine the visits over at the cabin with REAL work – customers along the way. Yesterday my day started at 4:45am and I was “wide open” until about 3pm when I got here.

Because I was driving near the graveyard where my Dad was planted, I decided to take a detour and stop by and say “HI.”  We have a section that is occupied by several of my family members, I have been there often.  Before Dad, I would visit my grandmother, his mother.  My grandmother and father were very close.  They were there for each other for some pretty rough times.  And she created a lot of his unintentionally.

We haven’t had a lot of snow this year, so mostly the little lakeside spot was muddy and wet with some ice remaining in the road.  I got there, got out of my car and felt -nothing. Before my Dad died, I would always feel “something” there, I used to eat lunch on the tailgate of my truck , with a Rolling Rock and talk with my grandmother.  She never answered back, but I felt as though she was there. Somehow my soul would feel less conflicted when our chats were over.  But not yesterday.  I felt an emptiness that was just eery.  I swept the ice off the plaques and left.  I said goodbye with tears in my eyes and my heart ached.

Lady In Waiting

My brother and I don’t talk often, not for any particular reason, he lives in another state and we are very different people.  Last night we actually talked on the phone. I texted him a photo of the grave and he asked me how Dad was. I proceeded to tell him how I was feeling, no booze worries, I just talked. Said that I felt like people would haul me off if I talked about it with anyone. He said he felt the same feeling.  He felt like my grandmother waited for my Dad and they both left together.  I understood.

Sensitivities

Even as tired as I was from driving a couple hundred miles and working for hours, I was restless and could not sleep.  Finally when I did get to sleep, I slept fitfully. This morning I feel more settled, glad I talked to my brother.  He is in mourning too, even though he isn’t one to talk about it.

Back to Basics

Recovery is a process.  I need to recognize once again that I work for not drinking TODAY. Living “One Day At A Time.”  Some days baggage gets unloaded and it is more overwhelming than expected.  It is just growth. Someone said in a meeting once, “Pain is a touchstone of spiritual growth.”  For now, I will bask in the gratitude of the sunshine and that today is FRIDAY!  And I am sober.

 

Creature of Habit

When I was drinking I had my habits.  Mostly my drinking habits.  In the end, my life revolved around when and where I could drink.  My nerves were so frazzled, my self-esteem so fried, I had to know when the next opportunity would avail itself that I would be able to get that drink.  Just to “take the edge off,” I would say to myself.  I found myself scheduling my day around it.  It is hard to believe now that was how my life was, but it was.  Once I stopped drinking, going to a lot of meetings and doing the Steps -has really changed everything.

A Routine

In my first few weeks of Recovery, one of my friends told me about how important a routine was to filing some of the edges off alcohol abstinence and mental detox.  He told me about the acronym HALT (Hungry Angry Lonely Tired).  I had no idea what that meant and like most things, I thought it was silly. But I began to notice eating something healthy (Hungry), getting enough sleep, (Tired) were 2 things of the acronym that were vital to my first 90 days.  The “Angry and Lonely” were unavoidable for my first 6 months, but in meetings,  it did make me aware of how normal I was to feel that way.

Even though my routine isn’t rock solid, I do try and go to bed at the same time every night, get up about the same time every morning.  Grab a nap in the middle of the day when I can – usually the weekends.  I have said in meetings when I got sober, I turned into a toddler.  I need my sleep.  When I don’t get it, I’m screwed. I get impatient, frustrated, overly sensitive.  All feelings that get me closer to a drink.  When I do get my sleep, the whole day seems to go smoother.

Sleep Tolerance

I can wake up in the night and not get back to sleep a couple of times in a week without problems, but if I go to bed later than usual a couple nights AND my dog gets me up and I can’t get back to sleep, I really feel it and need a nap!  I have mentioned before in this blog, when I was drinking, I was hardly sleeping at all and hadn’t slept well for years, but that stopped 2 1/2 years ago.

A New Day

I love mornings. I love the quiet, watch the sun rise, I am not in a good mood particularly, but I do have time alone and get up early to have time alone.  I pray, meditate (like cross-legged on a cushion) and ease into my day. Get dressed and hit my morning meeting at the local Homeless Shelter.  I get my dose of gratitude and fellowship behind me prior to most people arriving at work.  It starts my day off right.  This can’t happen every day, but most days, even weekends.

The idea of a routine, soothed my body and head early on and today it still does.  I think subconsciously my system started trusting me again.  “Yes” we will get some sleep, “Yes” we will get some lunch.  Small routine tasks keep my mind from carrying on by itself.

Give It a Try

If you are new to Recovery, take the next week, make an effort to go to bed at the same time every night (within a half hour), get up – set the alarm if you have to – and get out of bed, start your day.  Don’t just lie there and be lazy. Let your system know you are up for Recovery today.  This Day.

The Itty Bitty $hitty Committee

I don’t mean to offend anyone by that title.  Everything I write about in this blog falls under 3 overall categories:

  • Experience
  • Strength 
  • Hope

And I have heard people reference to the things that spin around in their heads.  I have written about that before.  For me, it is negative self talk that I never knew happened, before I stopped drinking.  I never knew a lot of things before I stopped drinking. It amazes me when “I stop the music in my head” or “Get out of that bad neighborhood that is between my ears” (all terms I have heard in meetings),  how much I realize that I am not the center of the universe and that I AM ENOUGH -just as I am.

One of my most favorite recovery people said the other day, “Most of the things I worry about never even happened!”  Another one said, “I lose sleep about the snow I am worrying about shoveling in 3 days and the storm goes out to sea – then I get angry about that!”

Look At Us

Seriously, as  write this I am writing it for you and ME, if we sit in the “here and now” and be grateful for what we have and who we are, our lives will feel more peaceful, don’t you think?  Our Higher Power didn’t make us so we could torture ourselves, we are here to help one another.

Reading Facebook- giving and getting positive and inspiring comments all help, in addition to the “face to face” recovery work, meetings, service, etc. keeps me healthy and most likely make the people in my day to day world happier too.

It’s January and we are beyond the darkest days and longest nights of the year, I need to make a special effort to be that “Grateful Alcoholic that doesn’t drink.”

Having a Holiday Plan to Stay Sober

When I first got sober, it was hard to imagine a day without a drink.  And at times, it was hard to imagine an hour without a drink.  Thank God and my home group, kept me glued together, let me know of things that were outside my comfort zone and took me to events before I dared to show up by myself.

“We Will Love You Until You Love Yourself”

This saying is one of the very many I heard when I first came in.  It is also one of the very many that has changed in meaning as my recovery has grown and deepened.  At first it meant, someone welcoming me when I showed up to a meeting I had never been to. Or when I shared something painful, a compassionate look or a gentle touch of someone that sent the message to me “You’re Not Alone.”  I needed to have lots of those moments to realize this was the real deal – This Place –R E C O V E R Y was where I belonged. Somewhere along the way, I was able to begin to give back to my home group, my friends and the program of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Because this fellowship filled my heart with love so then I could love.

It is okay if your family of origin makes you crazy.  It’s okay if you need a break to get away.  And it is really okay, if you can find someplace safe, safe and sober to run to, to recharge the batteries, to stay sober. Especially, if you are traveling out of town, or even back to your home town, take a few minutes to look up some meetings.  Find out where they are and what time they are being held.

Make A Plan

Even though my family may have not have been driving me nuts at the very moment, I have a plan to have a meeting in the schedule each day. I find it helps me maintain.  It gives me my space and time to salute and nurture my recovery.  If you are up here in Maine, we have Alca-thons over the holidays that hold meetings 24 hours a day during the tough times of the Holidays.  Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, we have something going on that is a sober alternative.  I know in my house holidays where the HIGH HOLY DRINKING DAYS of the year and we all knew where we could stock up when some of our favorite stores were closed.

Stock Up on Meetings

Instead of searching for a “Beer Store” (as my Dad would call it), I make sure I don’t have to search for a meeting because I all ready know where one is and where my real friends are!  I can leave chaos and find serenity.

Happy New Year!

Nothing Like a Good Snowstorm!

Today in Maine we are having a snowstorm.  One of those all day specials.  Started around 6 this morning and still going strong. Our office is closed but as a “Distributed Workforce” we can work remotely as a normal way of doing business.  This was one of the reasons, I was able to isolate and drink privately.  As long as I could type and respond when needed, no one suspected that I had a “problem.”

Snow Days were Snow DAZE

When the weather is frightful the bottle is so delightful!  On these stormy days, most of our business conversations online with each other were about the travel, school closing early or being canceled.  I could hold it together for that and meanwhile “pace myself” alone at my desk and my computer screen. There is something cozy about being nestled in to my home office, garage door closed. Knowing I had stocked up.

Today is a Different Snow Day

Last night a friend of mine in the program sent me a text saying “There is no reason for you to drive tomorrow, let me pick you up for the morning meeting.”  WOW that was a gift.  Our morning meetings as I have mentioned previously in this blog, are at a Homeless Shelter in our city.  We never cancel.  There is so much early recovery happening, we knock ourselves out to make sure the meeting is opened.  So often it is the only meeting people get to – they LIVE there. The homeless shelter never closes.

At 6:55am the lights of my friend’s big 4 x 4 truck come up my driveway and off we go.  And at 7:30 the meeting goes on as scheduled. Someone living at the shelter had made the coffee for us and others helped set up the room.  As the meeting unfolded in the usual “round robin” discussion format, one in the group said, “WOW, wouldn’t this be a great day to sit home and drink!”  It was true.  In another life, that would be what I was doing and about this time of the morning, I would be battling off the shakes with a little vodka latte.

Today, I have worked steadily most of the day with a break for a romp in the snow with my dogs.  The snow is still coming down steady, we should be at about a foot before it is done.  And here I am comfortable in my skin not struggling with hiding ANYTHING.  Freedom.

Thank you Higher Power and my friends in AA that helped me stay sober today.

“Alcoholism Wants You DEAD But It Will Settle for Miserable”

Another meeting gem.  This quote is one of the hundreds that I have heard in meetings and many of them I have written down in a book that I carry in my purse.  Especially in the early days of Recovery, I would hear things and sometimes I didn’t understand them at all.  Or I would be offended or fearful. Later on, I may have heard the exact same thing, a different day, later on in my Recovery and I may have had a completely different understanding or feelings around it.

I understood that “Alcoholism wanted me dead but would settle for miserable.” Because I was miserable, and like Step 1 says, “my life was unmanageable.” Early on, I knew that was true.  But I had no idea to what extent Alcoholism wanted me to be miserable, I only knew I was indeed miserable when I came into the Fellowship. As the days have gone by, I have learned just how miserable and self-loathing I had become.

No Magic Wand

There was no wrinkling of my nose, snapping of my fingers and “TA DA” everything was great again. I still am not all that kind to myself.  I want to be prettier, I want to be thinner, I want to be in better physical shape.  But in time, as long as I stay away from a drink, I have faith I will get there.  Another term used often was “Self-Care.”

While drinking, I only took care of myself enough so people didn’t smell booze on my breath, I carried around eye drops or blamed my bloodshot eyes on allergies (which I do have allergies but not 365 days a year). I did just enough to get by, so people wouldn’t know I was in crisis.  That I was a drunk.

Starting Small

It has taken a while, but I stopped punishing myself for everything that went right or wrong.  I took up yoga and started meditating.  I started shaving my legs regularly, may sound silly before I didn’t notice if I was shaving my legs or underneath my arms, I pretended that I didn’t care, when in reality what I was doing was spending lots of energy not caring and continued to harm myself by drinking constantly.  Harming myself was something I would learn to become a master at, along with manipulating myself.  If you asked me when I was drinking if I was harming myself, I honestly think I would have chosen not to answer the question or made a joke of it. I was my own worst enemy.

At The End of the Day

Before bed and after my prayers, I usually put lotion on my feet.  Thank my feet for carrying around my body all day. Last winter I didn’t even get cracks in my heels! Felt great!  I also try to write a few things down on a Gratitude List.  3-5 things, nothing huge but it’s a way to take some inventory of my day and be grateful for the little things. I read a few passages. None of these things cost much, most cost nothing, except time and focus on me and that I count for something.  That I matter.  If I don’t stop and notice, I won’t change.  I don’t want to be miserable anymore.  Doing these small things consistently have changed my life.