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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Homeless and Not Helpless

My “Home Group” is at our large Homeless Shelter in our city.  It was the first AA Meeting I went to, the first AA Meeting of the day in our area.  I am not sure what horrified me more that day, that I was at a Shelter or that I was at an AA Meeting.  Once I got there and sat down the rest is history.  Everything has grown on me since then.  The program and the people in the shelter that I see every day.

Snow Day

I got to the Shelter this morning, it had started snowing and the roads were getting greasy. I was in a little bit of a “mood” because of the driving.  I was making coffee and there was a lot of buzz around the coffee machine, most of the outside smokers were inside because of the weather.  People were talking and many of the folks there know me.  I turned around and I saw what I thought was someone slip on the floor.  Then I heard someone say, “He’s having a seizure, get help.”  Instantly people knew what to do, except me, I froze in my tracks. Off to my left, one of the “Homeless Relapsers” (as described by him), who has the miles of pain on his face, took me by the lower arm and says calmly, “C’mon Dear,  let’s get over here. “He guides my arm gently and we walk over to the side of the room.

In the meantime help is with the victim, I said, “I have never seen anything like that before.” (it is still going on – foam and shaking, etc. ) He said, “Yeah honey, I could tell, here I was grateful it wasn’t me…”

Shelter Life

Many of the folks in the Shelter are “on the run.”  From drugs, alcohol, relationships.  Each person has a story.  The place is its own community, it’s own heart beat.  Many folks attend our meetings, many folks “graduate” from the Shelter and move on.  Get housing, jobs, a new life.  Many graduates come back to our meetings to maintain perspective of “where they came from.”

Blessed

This morning I got perspective from where I came from.  Not to say that I was going to have a grand mal seizure but how do I know what may have happened if I was still drinking?  It wasn’t getting any prettier I know that for sure.  I feel so grateful that my friend (that who on the street I would have crossed to avoid 8 months ago), was gentle and kind because we are both in the same boat and helping each other

Knight in Shining Armour

The last 3 posts were done in order to explain a situation that happened last week.  As I have mentioned, I was working the Steps and completely out of the blue feelings overcame me.  Writing those posts helped and I appreciate your sticking with me.  This blog helps in so many ways.  I am happy that people read it and I truly hope it gives strength and support to others.   For me, there are good days and not so good days.  Last week was a string of several bad days in a row, all brought about by an innocent contact from someone that rescued me from the abyss I had been living in back in 1978.

Spring

The procedure I had in New York kept me out of the water for a couple weeks and there was a significant blood loss that really wiped me out.  But I swam anyway.  Not particularly well, but I did swim.  I went to practice and went through the motions.  After a month or so, I was physically back to fighting speed.  Since I am a documented asthmatic, we told everyone I had been having a rough patch with asthma and again people accepted it and forgot about the strangeness of the situation.  I stuffed it deep inside. Until just recently, I realized how deep it was.  I learned early how to “fake it till I make it.”

My Brother

My brother is 2 1/2 years older than I am.  The “offender” was his age and one of his high school friends that he had left behind when he went into the military. At the time, he was serving at a base about 5 hours from where we lived.  I told him nothing about what had happened and neither did my parents.  It was not uncommon for my brother to show up with friends from far away places at our house or camp for a home cooked meal or at camp for a party.

In the late summer of that year, on one of his trips to visit my parents and I were at camp.  He showed up with a car full of buddies.  It was a great time of cribbage games and laughs.  I was still swimming and under age, there was no alcohol for me but it didn’t matter, we played guitars and had a great time.

After that trip, my brother showed up with one of the friends he brought to camp at one of my swim meets.  It was great to see him and after that visit, we started writing letters.  Then talking.  I had not been involved in anyone since that Spring and this man was kind, quiet and extremely caring.  Many times, I thought he knew what had happened to me.  I continued to burn up the pool, get through high school and think about college.  My new friend was very supportive, showed up at the occasional meet (after driving for hours) and sat next to me on the bleachers, cheered me on. I always felt safe.

An Item

It was known after a while that we had bloomed into a couple.  Kisses and hugs, no sex.  To think back on it now, I don’t know he did it.  The last thing on my mind was sex, but I could crawl up into his arms and he would hold me close.  One day we were riding in his car somewhere and I just blurted out a very small abstract of what had happened to me before I met him.  I don’t remember what it was exactly but I remember  him saying, “I knew someone hurt you, I felt it.  I want you to trust me, I would never hurt you that way. Ever.”

Geyser

I sat in his car sobbing and trying to apologize for being so damaged. I couldn’t stop crying.  I didn’t unload the whole story. But once I had started, I needed to know what I was saying wasn’t going to cause him to leave me too.  I told him about my father calling me “Whore.”  All he said was, ” Everything is going to be all right.  Just as long as I never, ever meet this guy.”

I started slowly to rebuild my trust and he was the reason.  We dated for 3 years.  There was no sex, he treated me like a china doll.  It was my Higher Power helping me heal, helping me to grow up.  This part of the story is over but there is more that will be told later on that had come to light during my Step work.  The Good News is he isn’t angry at me now and didn’t feel like my apology was necessary.  More on that later.

Ready, Set, GO!

Nearly 200 days ago I stopped drinking.  And “One Day At A Time” I pray that I will make the 200 and go on for many more days.  But there it is, one day at a time, many downs and many ups.  When I received the coin, “Nothing Changes, if Nothing Changes,”  I had no idea what that meant.  I have a little bit of an idea that “Everything Changes if Everything Changes.”  It all needed to.  Some days it is exciting, some days, it is overwhelming.

Happy New Year !

It is only natural that the onset of a  New Year creates the thought of a new beginning and a closing of a door on the past.  This year as I work the steps it seems even more important to reflect, learn, act.  As an alcoholic, I suffer from acting impetuously or procrastinating. There never seems to be anything in my life that is middle of the road.  When I was drinking, I would always say, “I don’t know a gray area, I only know black or white.”  This continues to be true.

Singleness of Purpose

I have talked about this several times and on some days especially early on,  just not picking up a drink was all I could muster.  Between that and “Keep Coming Back” were the most helpful things for me. I still try my hardest to keep those things first and foremost in my mind.  I started this blog to help me sort things out in my head.  And blogging is a format I understand and have enjoyed the feedback from others that are also in recovery.  Feedback was an added benefit that I had no concept of originally.  I also think that because of my alcoholism I had to stop and realize what was happening with me.  What made me tick.  Drinking was the elixir that squelched many, many things I was unable to face in life.  At the same time it numbed my creativity, my writing and God only knows what else.

What’s Next

Now it is time to move on. As I have worked the steps, I also have looked at goals in my life.  What do I really want to be when I grow up?  I have always said I wanted to write. I feel comfortable in it.  This blog, along with many other writing “assignments” are part of my exercise for writing.  The process of recovery will still happen but now it is time to put some goals to this blog that will allow me to grow more.  When I started, it was just to dump my brains out so I could maintain the ultimate goal of not drinking.  That could be daily, weekly or whatever.  Now I want to bring some order and discipline to my blogging.  I see it with Catherine (who’s blog I read religiously – Addicted to Dimes),  I see how her writing has really progressed and her inspiration to others is so giving.    So for now, I will see you once a week (at least), right here.  Talking about my recovery and referring to other blogs and back to other posts.  It is still “One Day at a Time.”

And Away We Go…

6 Months

Last week I picked up my silver chip.  Six Months – no drinking.  Parts of me think that 6 months is an eternity, while other times it doesn’t seem that long at all. I sat in a chair in a homeless shelter thinking I would die and hoping I wouldn’t, on the eve of the first day of Summer.  The longest day of the year, certainly felt that way to me.  I jumped from meeting to meeting that day because I didn’t know what else to do to not cave in to drinking.  It is my first time in AA.  All I heard in that first meeting was, “Keep Coming Back” and that was all I could do.

Making Amends

I have spoken in this blog before about an old friend of mine that looked me up on a business trip and wanted to “make amends.”  This happened about a year before I decided to go to AA. I had no idea what my old friend was making amends for but I was so happy to see him and even happier to see him at peace, I couldn’t imagine why he felt he needed to apologize for.  As he struggled to explain what his life was like before he got sober some 20+ years before, I was part of that life.  I also was drinking then.  The day we reconnected, I was thrilled with my choice of an iced tea at a local pub.  I have no idea why I did not order my normal “pop pop” but I didn’t.  He drank coffee and we had a great visit.  While he made his amends, he planted a seed.

Higher Power

I spent the next year after swilling down vodka, dodging bullets both professionally and personally.  I have no idea how that happened.  I have no idea why I didn’t end up in jail with a drunk driving charge.  I have no idea why there was such a rapid decline into the abyss of alcohol those last 6 – 8 months.  But it happened.  And now that I look at it, I was treading water for many years as a high functioning alcoholic with an angel on my shoulder. For that I am grateful.  Grateful beyond belief.

Each Day Had A Thousand Hours

In the early days of my sobriety I had reconnected with my “Old Amends” friend and asked for his help and support.  He gave it to me with love like something I had never felt from anyone.  It is hard to explain.  Over the months we have kept in touch and he has made sure to answer my calls or return them quickly. When my head is making me crazy, he has been that old familiar feeling of a friend that can help me laugh at myself. He has known me for 30 years and has been one of the angels that has gotten me through.

My Lucky Day

On my Silver Chip Day, I got a text from my old friend.  I expected a “Congratulations!”   But what I got was “I am 8 miles out, save me a seat!”  I couldn’t believe it.  We had had a sizable snow storm and he lives 5 hours away!  AND this was a week day!!  I  figured he was kidding but saved him a seat anyway.  Just as the meeting was getting underway, there he was coming through the door, my knight in shining armor.  Smile on his face and outstretched arms, my old friend had driven all this way just for me.

Bond of Steel

It seems that the bonds of the AA fellowship are something I could never have understood before last Summer.  While I realize that our relationship is far and away from JUST the fellowship, it is the fellowship that has taken two broken people and brought them together again.  I do believe my Higher Power has this huge plan that I am but a chess piece.  I just have to wait and see what move he has for me now.

Treading Water

Well I haven’t done anything rash since my last post except pray more, meditate, call my sponsor a couple times and doubled up on meetings.  That is all I have in my toolbox right now and I am using it.  Sometimes I just have to get out of my head!

Thank God For Different Meetings

I am grateful to the fact that I live in an area where there are many meetings throughout the day and many options to the type of meetings we have.  After being in a fog yesterday and just having a general feeling of doom and sh*ttiness, once I got my blog post written I learned that I needed another meeting.  Usually when I have a “monkey brain” with twists of fear/sadness/anger included, well in the old days I drank.  Yesterday I didn’t.  Last night I didn’t. Instead I went to a Discussion group with my Sponsor.  Not a big group, but lots and lots of sobriety.

Process Process Process

I got a call from the Medicine Man and we just “processed.”  I love that, no judgement, no advice, no pressure, just blah, blah, blah.  Neither one of us expected to FIX anything or even give extensive advice.  We both shared other stories that had nothing to do with how we were feeling individually.  You know, like friends do.  Alcoholics make great friends.  Since I “joined” this group of folks, I have found some of the coolest people on the planet. AND I have found some of the coolest people on the planet that I knew OUTSIDE of AA were in the program and I had no idea.  They just were relaxed folks and I liked them. Now I find our they are Alcoholic!!   HA HA HA!!

Standing Still

It isn’t a bad thing.  And this morning I went to a meeting and I am going again tonight.  I haven’t solved anything or done anything.  Most importantly, I didn’t drink.

The Day of the Jester

It’s funny when I was drinking, I didn’t realize that everything I did and how I acted was followed by an exclamation point.  The more alcohol, everything became CAPITALIZED  and in BOLD.  The  !!!  just got bigger and bigger until the only thing that was larger than life was the train wreck I had become.

“Chip” Club

I am not sure of the origin or why we have poker chips to mark our time in sobriety but we do. The first few months are plastic chips then they turn into some sort of metal-ish chip.  Again, I am not sure of why the colors are what they are or why they are poker chips but they become pretty special and the origin doesn’t matter.  At the end of our meetings (as I believe with most AA meetings),  the chips are held up and announced to the group to mark time in sobriety.  Some presenters have their own little funny saying when they hold up the chips. Like one man said when he held up the RED chip for “30 days and a thousand nights” and tho we all laugh it is because we all know how much “One Day At A Time” can mean and stringing 30 together is an accomplishment – especially when it is your first 30 days.

Purple

On Saturday, I celebrated my 5 month.  I collected my PURPLE chip in front of my home group. It was a small turn out but those close to me in AA, either came to the meeting or sent me a text.  My Sponsor came and she chaired the meeting.  It made me feel pretty special.  I call the Purple Chip the JESTER chip, because for me in the past 5 months and working the steps I can really see some not so attractive things about myself.  One of the biggest things that I have always known about myself is that I have a sense of humor about pretty much everything.  Sometimes that sense of humor gets turned on it’s head and it cuts like a knife into people.  When I was drinking, I don’t believe I always knew it was happening and sometimes (it gets worse…) I did not care.  Like I was even happy about it.  Pretty disgusting when you think of it.  Dumping on someone else because I think they deserved it.  And it made me feel better.  What a demon I was to do that.

Amends

Today, I met with my Sponsor and we were going through my “Amends” List. I cannot even begin to tell you how many people I need to apologize to because of this “pleasant” little flaw of mine.  Many of these “zingers” I am not sure I remember but I am sure that will come to me in time.  So Janis has some work to do.  Hopefully I wont get discouraged and throw in the towel.  I appreciate all of you for listening to me tonight.  I also appreciate my Sponsor for not making me feel worse than I all ready do.  I am really sure this is a “WE” program and with the grace of God, I will become a better person because of it.