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.

 

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You Mean It WASN’T all my Fault?

Recovery is tough but life is a lot tougher when I am not in Recovery.  Not learning that I have a Pandora’s box inside my heart that fogs up my brain was tougher. Some people have said in meetings, “I didn’t know what I didn’t know.”  I sure didn’t!  The fun/odd thing is that while I worked the Steps I learned some things but it feels like SINCE I worked the Steps I started thinking differently and I have learned much more about myself than I ever could have imagined.

It has been more than a year since my first trip through the Steps.  There is a meeting in our area that uses the “Came to Believe” book as the foundation for the format of their discussion.  A couple weeks ago I was sitting in that meeting.  Following along with what was being read.  I could have sworn I heard something in my ear say, “It’s not your fault.”  I was startled.  Sure we are sitting in a church basement and the choir is practicing upstairs but I heard it. After a minute or so, I just relaxed and the meeting went on.  I went home and sort of forgot about it.

Meditation

I meditate.  If you have read this blog you may know I meditate often.  A couple times a day alone when I can and once a week in a group.  This is the cross-legged kind, I focus on my breath and have done visualization and some other kinds. If you have never meditated before, I highly recommend it.  Seems weird at first, but so did not drinking, then after time, I could feel the difference.

The next morning I was in my usual meditation routine and as I was ending and saying the Third Step Prayer, I heard the voice again, though this time it was a whisper and this time “IT” used my name.  “Janis, it’s not your fault.”  I sat there with that, not so jarred this time, but curious and over the next few days meetings and situations kept being put in front of me that pointed to how I have looked at things for probably 30 years.  I have a couple of posts on my mind in the next few days.

It may not be your fault either, stay tuned.

 

“Empty” Nester in Reverse

My Sponsor tells me I work really hard and need to be kinder to myself.  Things take time, “Life on Life’s Terms” can be a hard thing.

My Dad

I think I have talked about him before.  He is 78, and all my life my Mom would say, “You’re just like your father!”  That was even before their divorce in 1987.  I am like my father.  Some might say he is an alcoholic, some might say he is a dry drunk.

Now I have to say, he is in Hospice and he is dying and my heart is broken.

One of the reasons I even GOT sober was because I saw him aging badly at my uncle’s (his brother) funeral 3 years ago, It stuck in my head. I thought, “If I am just like my father, I don’t want to be like THAT as his age.”  Dad has prostate cancer, spinal stenosis and Alzheimer’s.

Dad is a Type A personality.  Before a series of heart “events” in the 90’s, he drank Dewar’s.  A Scotch guy all the way.  Lots of it.  In fact at one point his wife (who doesn’t like me AT ALL), mentioned something to the effect if he had not “done something” about his drinking they would no longer be together.  So he stopped.  I don’t believe he ever went to an AA Meeting, but I don’t know that for sure.   Certainly, knowing the type of person my father’s wife is, I can imagine me thinking, “Well, if you were in my life, I would drink too.”  ~Classic alcoholic excuse.

Fast Forward

Last Friday, my phone rang and it was a number I did not recognize, I had just hung up from a client call and wanted to get some notes down, so I let it go to voice mail.  A few minutes later, I checked my voice mail and it was “Broom Linda” – my father’s wife.  In a very “Sir-ly” tone she told me some news and without rewriting the words to you all- he is now in Hospice Care.

This was not a surprise to me, tho I have not spoken to “Broom Linda” in a few years.  My Dad has been in a Nursing Home and I have been sneaking in to see him, so I saw how things had been going. He was stable until he got pneumonia that landed him in the hospital for a couple weeks.  And now, it has been determined there is nothing further that can be done.  He is alert, he can speak, he isn’t very mobile, but the next infection will probably do him in and the Doctors are not sure that this last one is completely cleared from his system.

She told me this even though our last conversation ended with her telling me that the next time I would hear about my father, would be in the paper-in these parts that means the Obituaries.  After she had finished, I thanked her for her kindness in telling me this news and that I appreciated her thinking of me and I meant it.  We were cordial.

Now What?

I have called his Hospice Team and learned that we are weeks and maybe a few months away from his demise. Unless there is an infection, then all bets are off.  Since that call, several relatives have contacted me and we have replayed the feelings and the scenario over and over. Broom Linda does not really like any of us, so we all have that in common.  But none of them is as close to him as me.

I am going to see him tomorrow.  Spend some time while he is still lucid, see if he is frightened.  We always can talk- even when it is about real stuff, I just want to be there to listen if he wants to speak,  while it is still possible.

I have read the third step prayer over and over.  I have a copy with me in my wallet.  Please if you are a person that prays, pray for us.

Seeing Another Alcoholic Before He Knows…He’s An Alcoholic

Never before have I responded well to people telling me what to do, especially when I knew I needed to do it.  And when an old college friend made amends to me a couple of years ago, before I knew I was an alcoholic, his words and actions spoke louder to me because he was making amends for HIS actions never even beginning to suggest any of my own.

That day, was a turning point for me and even though it took me another year to believe it myself, his loving amend was about him and not finger pointing at me.  He wasn’t someone telling me how to live my life.  It took a hopeless day of sitting on the couch with my stomach burning, body shaking and mind blowing to realize, I too, was an alcoholic.


 

Best Lesson

For me, the best lessons are ones that are not pushed at me or shoved down my throat.  I have learned most things in my life by watching to learn and then living to learn.  So as I approach 10 months (which is very GREEN, very new), I remember this humility gift that my old friend gave to me by just being there.  Because it was him on that very first day that I called when I had no idea what I was thinking, feeling or doing.  I sat in my car crying and blubbering over the phone to the very man that planted the seed by his own honesty that ANYONE could be an alcoholic.  Anyone. EVEN me.

Old Friends

Because of Facebook, I have made many more connections with old friends as well as new ones.  I am pretty sure I have mentioned this in this blog before, many renewed relationships that were long before I had any problems with alcohol.  In one case, after being reconnected, I made a simple acknowledgement of appreciation to the person for his support during a rough patch I went through back in high school. There were no amends needed but this program is teaching the importance of Gratitude and I am making it a conscious effort to express it more often.  Once I thanked him, we started talking on the phone and staying more closely in touch on Facebook.  We exchange what we are doing on any given day, how our jobs were going, what was happening around the household, we were being pretty frank.  We always were with each other all those many years ago, we just picked up from where we had left off.

The Lunch Whistle

The more he shared with me, the more I realized my old friend needs “the program.”  On many fronts, when he shares things with me, I hear them as if they were coming out of my mouth.  The Lunch Whistle sounded, “He is an alcoholic still doing research.” I can hear the sadness, the fear and the anger building. This is not the same sound of my high school friend, this is my old friend traveling down a similar road I have, only he doesn’t seem to know it.  Bloody Mary’s and Scotches included.

The Now

I started to share with him what my day is like in more positive ways. I mention meditation, I mention going to the pool, I mention feeling a lot better since I stopped drinking.  I don’t mention AA.  (Don’t yell at me, please.)  I stopped short of mentioning AA because it was almost like “something” told me I shouldn’t.  That my old friend needed a friend so that he was not alone.  It is very obvious to me that he is isolating himself and these emails or texts of affirmations from 800 miles away (me) are causing him to pause and ask questions about where he is in his life, I know this because he has told me.

If You Want What We Have…

I have been praying for guidance about this because I cannot “unring the bell.”  Once I tell my AA story I cannot take it back.  I am turning it over daily and still don’t feel as though the time is right.  We will see and stay tuned.  Thanks for listening as I navigate yet another new experience. Trying to put into practice what worked for me and what may have saved my life.

Cleaning Out the Locker, Part I

As I started the step work with my sponsor, I was very aware of the fact that I started procrastinating when the “Going Got Tough.”  But because of my impatience, there was also the urge to rush through things just to say I had done them so I could move on to the next thing. This happened when I may not have been thorough in my thinking.  I could “say” that I finished even though I honestly didn’t.

Dirty Laundry

I have it.  Perhaps you do too. That is why I need to work the Steps to have a method in dealing with those things that caused me to drink, drug or whatever I used in an unhealthy way to escape.  Escape from myself.  Escape from you.  Now that there is no drinking or drugging, how do I live?

A Milestone

When I was 16, I started working.  As soon as I could legally work, I worked.  I met new friends from many surrounding towns.  Now many of these people I participated with on a regional sports team and competed around the state and New England.  Because of my athletic discipline, I was developing physically and had the curves to prove it.  The sport I did was swimming. Swimming certainly allowed for less clothes than let’s say, basketball, but I failed to see that my swim suit showed a young woman and not the little girl I was still inside.

The Job

Because of swimming, school and my job, everything was changing for me rapidly.  I developed some self esteem because I was a good swimmer, held records, friendly and popular.  I developed discipline to go to practice, go to school, go to work.  My friends and I were too busy to get into much trouble.  You may call us Jocks and perhaps we were but I generally view it as we had different goals than other kids and didn’t have a lot of time to get into much trouble.

Boy Meets Girl

At my job, I met a boy from the next town that was 3 years older than I was.  He was funny, he was in college and I liked him.  He wasn’t particularly handsome but he lit up my world whenever I saw him at work.  That was a new feeling for me. He had a car and a license.   I had the same name of a girl that he used to go out with.  They had broken up, he had told me the reasons but it seemed to me that he was on the “sad” end of the stick.

One day after swim practice he picked me up.  We went for a ride out to an island and watched the sunset and talked.  Knowing my father had a very strict curfew, we both knew the time we had.  On that day, our friendship turned into a relationship.  I went from being “one of the girls” to being “his girl.” He wasn’t overly possessive but we became a couple and I felt safe and loved and respected around the whole situation.  We held hands and kissed occasionally.

As our relationship grew, the summer came to a close and he went back to college.  We were still “an item.”  I was a sophomore in High School and he was in a fraternity at a University 2 hours from where we lived.  We only had house phones then,  lots of long distance calls and letters.  Fall meant an increase in swim practice.  Because of my ability as a swimmer, I swam on the Girls Team, practiced with the Boys Team and also with the regional team.  I swam and swam.

Fall Regionals

I qualified for the Thanksgiving Regional Meet to be held at the same University that my boyfriend attended.  I was the leading backstroker for that Meet.  Meanwhile, I was just excited to see my boyfriend, whom I had not seen since September.  Regional events drag on for days.  Lots of down time waiting for your turn. I snuck off to see my boyfriend, who’s fraternity house was just down over the hill from the pool.  It was a Saturday night and when I went into the house in my High School Swimming Uniform everyone was happy to see me.  The whole time I knew I was “sneaking around,” I knew I couldn’t stay long.  Breaking rules wasn’t my normal way of operating so I was pretty nervous.  They ushered me into the House and found my boyfriend.  He along with many others in the house had been drinking.  I had never seen him this way.  And as a swimmer I was not supposed to be around alcohol, much less out of the pool.  I would be ineligible to compete if anyone had found out.

After a big smelly hug and a “I am so happy to see you!!  How did you get away?”  My boyfriend and I left the main dining room and went to his room for a brief “one on one” visit.  The minute I got into his room he grabbed me by the arm and pushed me against the back of the door hard and pressed himself and his lips against mine. I would rather not go into the details of what happened next.  But let’s just say, I didn’t plan on losing my virginity that way.  It was rough and painful.  Even though I begged that he stopped, he didn’t.

He Passed Out

I put my bathing suit back on hoping that it wasn’t torn, the rest of my school uniform and ran the best I could, back to the pool crying.  My legs were shaking and I was aching inside and out.  I snuck back into the locker room hoping no one would notice that I had been gone.  I had broken a lot of rules that would get me in serious trouble but all I could think about was my broken heart and lost virginity.

More later…

Merry Sober Christmas…to Me!

I need to keep the “Singleness of Purpose” in the forefront.  And I also need to rejoice in it when I succeed.  But I when I am hanging on to the life of sobriety by a thread, keeping the “Singleness of Purpose” is great but rejoicing or giving myself credit for doing so, I am not so great at.

December 25

While my life is sorting itself out and I am trying to learn how to live, life goes on around me, yet I am right in the middle of it.  When I go to meetings, I hear every one’s tail of woe, I find it easy to find gratitude mostly that I am not them.  But as I drive away, the dread of being me rolls in like fog over the bay.  Then I think some more. I get really pissed at myself because I really have so much to be grateful for and I say it over and over again, write it down, try to turn anything that is negative in my thoughts around to positive. That isn’t helping today.  When I refocus on my “Singleness of Purpose…” I made it through Christmas without drinking.  No say it again, louder this time…“I MADE IT THROUGH CHRISTMAS WITHOUT DRINKING!!”  

Will Someone Just SHUT HER UP?

My Mom and her 16 y/o dog is here for the holidays…I am grateful for a Mom that is of sound mind and can take care of herself and her dog-most of the time.

Power is out…A multi day ice storm brought our area to a grinding halt, many still have no power and this is multiple days.  We lost power for several hours but he have it now, I am so grateful.

Our Pellet Stove is broken…for the thousandth time.  I am thankful for blankets and power, again. (the list goes on but I will spare you.)

Down the Road

Things will be different.  My Mom is aging, we got power back.  So many things could be worse.  I hear it every day, I think I will hit another meeting tonight, there is one just down the road.  For that I am grateful, most of all.

Scrambled Eggs

Sometimes I swear that if someone were to look inside my head all they would see is scrambled eggs.  Yes I am living my life “One Day At A Time” and I am not drinking.  Today I got up, it is Monday and I swear my head is floating up above me like a balloon, I need to keep hanging onto the string.

I Thought I Could be Normal

A couple months ago, I felt like life was floating along like a gentle stream and I was a leaf floating along in it. No big blow-ups. no drama, no drinking or drugs.  This went on for quite a while.  I was going to meetings, working, living life.  I was so relieved that I didn’t have to stress out knowing where I may have hidden my bottle or how I was going to get into it without anyone looking.  I have so many situations where I am in tight quarters that it was getting harder and harder to get “my licks in.”  That stress is gone.  Trying to get on the road to see a client without shaking to death before or while I was there, that stress is gone.  Finding bars open early enough in the day that were “under the radar” to satisfy my habit, that stress is gone.  So why today I am a nervous wreck?

I Got Up Late

This morning the bed was warm and in New England it was dark, setting up for a dreary day.  My meeting is at 7:30am and I dragged myself to it, the reading was good but my thoughts were scattered all over the map.  I got home and my dog had thrown up.  I cleaned up, went to my office (which is in my house) and couldn’t get inspired to do anything even though there is a list of things I need to do.  A couple hours of staring at the screen and doing some menial tasks my dog threw up again.  This time I was pretty nervous, he seemed to be having trouble, I took him out and walked around with him. Shortly, we came back inside. Things weren’t right. I decided to call the vet, my heart was racing and I was really nervous.  Probably the last time I took the dog to the vet I was “comfortably numb” actually I am sure I was, I was anxious then because I didn’t want to be caught!  And the last time it was for shots for the dogs- no sickness. When I called the vet’s office they were nice and accommodating, said they could sneak me in an hour or so.  My heart was racing and I was inches from tears.

I Gotta Get Real

I turned my music over to something more “zenny” meditated for about 15 minutes to try and get my heart to pump inside my chest. Yes my dog was sick but right now he wasn’t yacking up everywhere, he was calm. I put the kennel in my car.  It was snowing, so I was a little concerned with the roads and wanted to leave earlier than usual.  But I was trembling.  I love my animals so much.  My boyfriend seemed pretty relaxed about the whole thing but I couldn’t get past it.  He didn’t even go with me.  I prayed in the parking lot before I went in, cited aloud how grateful I was that the vet could see me and that I had money to pay for it.

Wait and Watch

My dog was happy to see the vet – even tried to hump his leg a few times.  He jumped onto the exam table and was just his silly old self.  After poking and prodding, I went home with a 6 pack of expensive food and a “let’s wait and see” diagnosis.  My dog was acting fine, didn’t have any more throwing up episodes since. My vet knows me well enough that I don’t just haul my dog up there for nothing.  He took extra time to visit and to assure me that all the things he checked for blockage, obstruction, inflammation didn’t seem to be present.  From what he could gather it is an old hunting dog proverb, what they don’t roll in, they eat.

I AM Grateful

Right now I am so grateful that my dog seems to be OK. I am grateful that the vet could get me in and it didn’t cost me a fortune.  My heart is still in my throat.  Since I got home I have done nothing.  I tried to settle down and work but couldn’t.  I am also thankful for this BLOG!  And thankful I can write out my feelings and read back over the entry and see what is happening with me.

One Week Away

I am one week away from having 6 months.  I feel like I have come a long way and I have done a lot of work.  My days now are completely different than they were 6 months ago.  I guess I should accept progress over perfection.  But it is hard. Thanks for being on this roller coaster with me.