Chaos Meter

Chaos.  Oh, how I love thee!  Or at least I USED to love thee!  My therapist told me one time, to watch when I had space in my schedule.  To recognize it as SPACE and not to overbook myself.  I said to her, “OVERBOOK” is my middle name!  Just “being” is hard for me.  I stack up things to do, (mostly places to be), when I see an empty spot and assign unreal deadlines.

Or at the very least unnecessary ones.  The only person that is making a big deal out of this is ME!

I have managed to ditch most of my chaotic relationships since most of those were people I drank with. Back in the day, I would refer to them as to my “lunch dates.”  When I stopped drinking that sprint to the pub for lunch seemed unnecessary for me and uncomfortable for them. Almost as if there was a fear that my sobriety was contagious or something.  Sure I still see some of them, but it isn’t the same.  I AM NOT THE SAME.

Culling the Flock

Little by little the dynamics of my relationships changed.  It is no mistake that my new relationships are FUEL for me and the NEW person I am.  (Even tho I am not exactly sure who that is…)  Little by little I see myself being unavailable to the drama in others lives.  Just like I am able to smell alcohol on someone from 50 yards now, I see drama.

Butterfly

And like a butterfly, I am changing.  Some parts are not pretty at all.  Some parts are just sad.  I have a more than a decade old relationship with someone that needs to come to an end and I am sad about it.  What I was willing to accept from them and they from me just doesn’t work anymore.  I changed, They haven’t.

Guilty As Charged

I did the Steps, I try every day to LIVE the Steps.  I am NOT perfect.  But because I have done this, I work out with myself and my Higher Power every day.  He guides me through my daily life and my decisions.  Things that were how I did things then, things that were acceptable, now are no longer the case.  I no longer want to mistreat people or mistreat myself.  I now know the difference.

I think that is what in the Serenity Prayer is called WISDOM.

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About Last Night

Here is a post from the Speaker Meeting last evening, some of it is a reblog from a year and a half ago, the rest is pretty self explanatory:

What It Was Like and an attempt to share, “Experience, Strength and Hope”

The last year of my drinking was intolerable. And last 6 months I had a burning stomach, my terrible sleep patterns over the past 15 years got even worse. At the end, I wasn’t sleeping for more than an hour or two, when I would get up I would pour myself some vodka, search for something to mix it with. The last couple weeks if I ran out of vodka I would search the house for something, anything, that was in a box, considered something that “nobody drank.” Slo gin, weird brandy.

Returnable bottles were hidden, put in my car inside plastic empty grocery bags and thrown into unattended trash cans, often at fast food places or at “Do it Yourself” car washes. I stashed vodka in my car and showed up at meetings and friends homes with a “Go Cup” of coffee or a diet pepsi in a plastic bottle laced with vodka. I spent a lot of time making sure I had booze. Thank God I never got caught. Never got pulled over, no jail or hospital.

My Friends

Many of my friends were doing similar things and I believe they are still doing them now. One of my very good friends got pulled over by the police but didn’t think anyone would find out. She was convinced that her name would not appear in the Court News Section of the paper. Obviously, she was wrong. It was in the newspaper, I got lots of comments from people we knew, but she and I never talked about it directly. She lost her license and somehow managed to keep driving and keep that hidden while it was pulled. Seeing this from afar and never talking directly to her about it still didn’t stop me from doing my own drinking.

Every day I “functioned,” worked and interacted with people, managing my shakes, getting to lunch on time so I could “catch up with my friends” and drink of course, sometimes finishing out the day at the bar and somehow getting home safely (HP was protecting me) before dinner to avoid questions. I would pour a glass of wine and another and another…

I was haunted and possessed by “The Beast” alcohol that had taken over my life. I learned to avoid everything and everybody that posed a threat to my relationship with booze. I had to make sure I had it when I needed it and every day I needed it more and more.

The First Day of Summer 2013

About 3 days before I went to my first AA Meeting, I promised once again I was going to stop drinking, it was going to be different this time. By noontime, I felt so horrible that I met my friends for lunch and by 3:30 and several drinks later, I felt “better.” The day continued as usual. I slept about an hour at a time that night, each time waking up in a sweat. I paced and tried not to drink, but I did anyway. Finally, I decided to get a shower and look for a place to “take the edge off” and by 9 am I was off and running again. By 1:00pm, I was falling asleep in the parking lot of a well-known establishment in my car. I couldn’t believe that I drove home, Thank God, it was less than a mile away.

Thursday morning, I sat on my couch crying and whimpering but there were no tears. I felt dead on the inside and looked dead on the outside. My cheeks and eyes were puffy, I brushed my teeth and cut my gums because the shaking was so bad. I looked up an AA Meeting on my computer and there was one listed at the homeless shelter across town.

I couldn’t even think anymore, I got in my car and went to my first AA Meeting.

About two years before, a friend of mine from Boston that I dated in college looked me up on Facebook and sent me a message, “I have to work in Bangor today, would you have time to grab a coffee?”

I was really excited, I texted back, “Absolutely!”

He said, “Good, I have some long overdue amends that I need to make.”

I had no idea what he was talking about.

It wasn’t long into that day, when we were sitting at Geaghan’s, (a pub and restaurant), he had a coffee and I had an iced tea (pure coincidence), I cannot even image that I ordered that.

We caught up on the 30+ years, it had been since we had seen each other and finally he said, “I need to make some amends.”  Even as he spoke about what he was apologizing for, I didn’t remember it and certainly had no ill feelings toward him. I just was so happy that he was sitting across the table from me.

26 Years and Counting

He told me he had been in recovery for 26 years. I told him I was proud of him and we parted ways both of us happy to have seen each other. That was the first time the “seed of AA” was planted in my head.

The day before I went to my first meeting I called him. He offered to drive up and take me to a meeting. I knew he was serious. When we got off the phone he said, “Please call me if you go to a meeting, I want to hear your voice and even if you don’t go, I want to hear you anyway. I love you.”

That is how it was. And to talk about how it is now is ironic in a way. I went to Derald’s anniversary last night. I was touched and moved by his share with 28 years in recovery. Still raw and fresh.  When he asked me to Chair I really didn’t want to, but I have a hard time saying “No” to a program that has given me the opportunity to take my life back.

3 Years Ago

Ironically, 3 years ago, before I got sober, I remember sitting in the parking lot drinking a diet coke with lots of vodka in it, in my car in the parking lot of the Nursing Home my father lived in. I used to call it “Irish Courage.” I would grab a hand full of Altoids and sneak in to see him. (My stepmother hated my guts and didn’t want me to see him – I didn’t like her much either.)

But I would go see him “in secret” we would visit – it would be brief because neither one of us wanted his wife to show up.

Last Year 2014
At exactly this time last year 2014, I was holding my Dad’s hand in a nursing home. He was dying. Since Labor Day 2014, I made many “flying trips” to see him at the Nursing Home. If I had been actively drinking, I doubt I would ever have been able to make those trips,

But last year was different. Just prior to Labor Day, Dad had pneumonia and when he came out of the hospital and back to the Nursing Home he was put into Hospice Care. At that time, the Wicked Step Mother (whom I had not seen nor talked to in 5+ years – AKA when I was still drinking) felt that she needed to call me and let me know what was going on with my Dad.

I listened intently. I thanked her for calling me. I asked permission to visit him. (I still can’t believe I asked permission either.)

She said, “Yes, you can visit him. He is conscious but even tho I thought I would never call you, I just had to let you know.”

So that began the story of watching my father die. It was interesting because all the dirty laundry that I feared was going to appear, didn’t. My first few visits when  my stepmother was there weren’t easy- not easy for her or for me. When I was drinking, I used to say things to my friends like, “She makes me want to tear my hair out and eat it.” “I am one heart beat away from ever seeing that bitch again.” I meant it.

And even when I got sober, I refused to put her on my amends list.

The Sounds of Silence
There was a lot of silence while we sat with him. She often let me sit with him alone and I would help him with his dinner, read to him, play some of his favorite old songs, look at old photos.  When he was feeling up for it, we would talk.  I watched the angry and frightened child that was inside him trying to come to terms with what was to lie ahead.

I could see how Dad reacted when my stepmother or I would enter the room and the other was there, he felt the tension too.

At one point when he was sleeping, I said, “Linda, I know this isn’t easy for either one of us, but I just wanted to take responsibility for some of the living hell you have lived through being married to this guy. I am very sorry. I hope that we can help each other through this sad and heartbreaking time.”

Power of Prayer
I prayed. I prayed a lot. And I went to a lot of meetings. I called my sponsor. I didn’t know what else to do, I couldn’t think, I was on autopilot. I called it “GOD-O-PILOT” but I didn’t drink. I actually didn’t even think about drinking once. I didn’t realize that I didn’t have to know what to do.

God did for me what I could not do for myself.

And on the night of the clocks changing last year, my father died at 1:10 am. My stepmother was with him and I was sleeping at my Mom’s house.  Linda called me when he died and I drove over in the driving rain and wind to say “Goodbye.” And as my stepmother and I left the nursing home together, I asked the nurse what time he had died, she looked up at the clock and her face went pale and she said, “Right now. Exactly now.” They had changed the clocks back so the time was exactly one hour from when he died.

I realize that this isn’t the traditional, “What it was like, What happened and What it is like now.” but it is where I am today.

The last couple weeks, I have doubled up on my meetings, I have told some of my AA friends where my head is at, I have talked to my sponsor more. I have taken opportunities to do longer meditations (:45 minutes/ day) than normal. I have tried to get sleep-even though I haven’t been that successful. And I really don’t feel like drinking. I am sad. I am supposed to be sad. This idea of feeling my feelings and dealing with them is all new territory.  I am not angry, frustrated or resentful – those are the feelings that I need to watch out for.  Especially the resentments.

I am not alone. I have you guys and I am so grateful for that. I never have to be alone again. My Higher Power is always with me I know, I just have to notice.  Coming here tonght telling you where I am at, “Living Life on Life’s Terms,”  sober has been more helpful than I thought.  And not crying myself through this has been a surprise.

Thank you for listening.

Here I am Again!

I have completely left this blog behind in my recovery journey.  I am not sure why, I think it is very possible that my poor self-image and “Good things don’t happen to me,” attitude, is shining through.

There is Good News…I am sober, still sober, since June 20, 2013.

It has been so long since I wrote in this blog I actually forgot how to log in.  Here are some bullet points on what has happened since my last post- September 14, 2014.

  1. My Dad did die – on November 2, 2014. (That’s a year ago today.)
  2. My Stepmother “Broom Linda” and I didn’t kill one another either.
  3. I didn’t drink, I  hardly thought about it, even tho I was around most of the reasons that created the feelings inside me that I poured alcohol over in the first place.

Yesterday, I got a text message from a friend that asked me to speak at a Speaker Meeting.  I didn’t want to, honestly. This time last year I was traveling back and forth- to see my Dad and last night was the night I would have been sitting with him holding his hand.  I knew I needed a meeting, but  I just wanted to sit in that meeting (that has been asking for support) and be there.  This man that asked, means a lot to me and there was no way I could say no.

Back to Basics…Again

I didn’t really want to go to this Speaker Meeting and stand at the podium and blubber and not be able to say anything helpful to anyone or myself.  So I pulled up this old friend of mine, my blog.  This blog.  Went back to an old posting around a year of sobriety and started from there.

I created a little speech that I will post in the next post later on today.  I knew I needed something written down to keep myself on track.  I am not particularly fearful of Public Speaking, (almost everything else, but not that.)

Turns out, it was quite cathartic.  My Higher Power knew that it would be, ofcourse I seem to be SHOWN to BELIEVE.  I am not sure what was more helpful the writing down my feelings or being at the head of the room telling people how I was getting through some of the hardest times of my life WITHOUT drinking and WITH the program.

Let’s Hope I Remember that I am Responsible

I know there are tons of words in the recovery and mental health game.  I know that they are real.  I know that still many people use things as crutches or blame their situations with choices they make onto others.  As an alcoholic it is how we think.

The Blame Game

Everyone’s recovery is different.  And everyone’s disease effects them in its’ own unique way.  As humans in the world, we have our own circumstances.  Some of us come from a long line of alcoholism and abuse and still others end up being the only alcoholic in the whole family tree.  We are all different.

When I was drinking, I often blamed people for the situations I found myself in.  Many of my friends would piss and moan about something someone they knew did or didn’t do and therefore they were angry with them.  I don’t mind saying, when I heard others complain about someone we knew, it made me wince knowing how ridiculous this blame game was.  It made me think twice when blaming people myself.

Just Another Meeting

The other day one of my AA friends came in to a meeting and I could tell that he had a lot on his mind.  While he seemed happy he was hurried and late to the meeting.  When it came time for him to share he started down one path and near the end of his share he mentioned (almost in anger) that his wife was partly to blame for his addictions.  She enabled him.  He said it with such intensity I was surprised.  I could feel myself feeling disgusted. Yes, perhaps his wife bought him alcohol.  But enabling?  C’mon, get real buddy!

Enabling

I have never looked up the word “enabling” and I am not going to right now because I have a definite opinion about taking responsibility for what I have done to myself.  If I was a child and unable to make my own choices or legally able to purchase alcohol then “OK.”  BUT to blame a spouse for what is normal buying of alcohol for an adult is a cheap shot.  Especially, since the spouse is not an alcoholic.  Double cheap shot.  How does a non-alcoholic even know what it is like to be dealing with the demons we deal with much less to be blamed for them?

Another’s Inventory

Shouldn’t do it and I did.  But I truly love this man as a brother and I needed to get this off my chest.  This diatribe happened nearly a week ago and it still makes me angry.  So I ask myself, “Why, does this matter to you so deeply to last in your head so long?”  I cannot answer that.  Once again I need to learn from this and not do it myself.  I wonder if my Higher Power is trying to teach me something here?

 

Taking Anothers Inventory

As a newcomer to AA, terms like these were completely foreign to me.  I had not been in and out of AA like many nor have I had therapy so I did not understand the recovery jargon.  Hell, I was shocked that I was sitting in a Homeless Shelter wondering if  I had a problem with alcohol, wishing I didn’t, while at the same time, hoping I did.

Self Detox

That first day almost 7 months ago, I am not sure how I got to my first AA Meeting.  I mean I drove there.  I remember sitting on my couch wishing I were dead, looking for the earliest AA Meeting I could find on my cell phone.  I had never walked this path before.  A friend (whom I mentioned in this blog in other posts), had looked me up a year before to make amends. That surprise meeting from someone I hadn’t seen in 20 years, changed my life.  It got me thinking.  A year later, I decided to see if AA was something that could help my mixed up head and life.  In the coming months I learned that so many people around me had gone to rehab or several rehabs.  I probably should have too but I was so ashamed I was going to push myself to go it alone with the people of AA.  I felt awful.  I felt awful for a while but I say this because so much of the first few months are a blur now.  I know that by looking back at my entries in this blog I can recall a lot more because this blog is here than if I hadn’t written it.  So physically and mentally I felt a jumbled mess.

Code Words

People in AA don’t think they are “code,” and now I understand the words too.  One of the first terms of “Taking Another’s Inventory” was a term I had no idea what it meant.  Being a business person I had an idea what the word “Inventory” was.  But in regard to recovery, I had no clue.

The Steps

As I work through The Steps, I learned about my inventory, then the light went on.  I understood what my inventory was.  I wrote it down.  I thought about it.  I wrote down some more and thought about it some more.  So I got to the point at being pretty intimate with my “fearless, moral inventory.”

Once I worked through my inventory, I really knew the possibility of me as a person, to turn the tables on someone else without taking any ownership of their actions.  What my actions may be in any given situation.  And if I have nothing to do with it, then I need to stay out of it.  And NOT take someone else’s inventory.

Some days it’s easier than others but it is after all, “One Day At A TIme.”

 

If Nothing Changes…then everything changes?

Some days I feel really frustrated that my problems are still my problems.  Life is still life.  But I am finding that all this “honesty” is really putting a crimp in my style.  Dysfunction was so much in my life that I had no idea how screwy things were and when I started to feel, out came the old anesthesia bottle and it numbed the feelings, made the feelings seem less intense.  And then the haze was welcome but now it is clearing and I cannot live in lies anymore.

I Hate Surprises

I am not too fond of surprises.  I didn’t even like my 40th Birthday Party, well once I got drunk it was ok but before that I didn’t like it.  Once something gets stewing in my head I don’t really like that either.  Because well, that means I have to do “something.”  And I am not one to do “nothing” even when it may make sense.  Without alcohol I used to put off decisions all the time.  It made life easier or it felt like it at the time.

Rose Colored Glasses

Working the steps and having the fog lift, my life has just gotten more complicated than I want it to.  Like many of us, patience is not a virtue of mine either. As some of my long sober friends have said, “It’s hard work.”  I had no idea what that meant.  These days I seem to understand it more and more.  I find myself spinning around with little or no resolve.  One thing in particular is a relationship thing that I need to change drastically.  It happens to be with my business partners.  I am not sure how long I can go along with the charade that I was going along with before I got sober.  And as soon as I had a couple meetings under my belt I talked to them.  I thought I would get support or at least understanding.

I Just Cannot Live This Lie Anymore

If I only won the lottery I would walk away right this minute.  Since I am an owner I am pretty invested but to “sell out” my interest isn’t an option.  The value is negligible.  I have little or no savings I have invested for the long haul but the haul is over and I need to get away from this.  Last night I was awake spinning my wheels and I know it was because it was Sunday night and today is Monday.  I am looking only at myself and what part I have in it.  But I also am one person.  The two others have chosen to distant themselves from our company and our employees as well as from me.  Missing staff meetings, being late for staff meetings for one excuse or another.  Meanwhile I sit there and stew.  I don’t know what my next step is, I just know where I am standing right now and the only thing that is good about it is, I don’t have a drink in my hand.

What is Progress?

Sorry if I left anyone in the lurch.  And thank you for the emails asking if I was okay, lots of this typing that I do, I just kind of think I am dumping my head out onto the kitchen table and looking at what I see.  Most of the time, it looks like goulash.  Not sure what is in it some days and certainly not sure what comes out of it.  Most of the time, I think I am the only one looking this blog and reading it, never to realize the little community that comes here.  Thank you very much for caring.

Small Percentage “Make it”

Within the first few weeks of AA Meetings I would hear people say, “Only 1 in 30 make it” and it used to piss me off.  And to be honest, it still does.  When people actually take the time to figure out, tell others so others can repeat it and it goes viral, I feel like we are kicking ourselves in the face.  Setting ourselves up to fail.  Giving me an excuse to fail because “Only 1 in 30 make it.”  AA, to me, is a “can do” program.  And when you think you can’t do or your head is full of goulash, you can go to a meeting, into a room where people “GET IT.” Perfect strangers can help you get through it and NOT fail.  And the beauty is, often the person helping you is equally helped.

Day 117

Yes, today is Day 117.  Since my last post, I have collected a green chip (that is in my pocket) and Thursday, God willing, I will collect up a Blue Chip.  4 Months doesn’t seem like a long time but if someone told me that I would be feeling like this 4 months ago, I wouldn’t believe it, much less be able to describe it.  When things get screwy in my head or I forget something, I don’t have to wonder about it anymore.  Like, “Was I drunk when I promised or did that?” “Oh no, I have some blank spots in that situation, what happened?”  The list of anxieties go on and on.

“It Works If You Work It”

Today is today and that is what I have.  Nothing to drink and I am not consumed with the idea. I have been working the program, trying to keep things normal yet trying to do and think differently.

Albatross

My initial goal for this blog, was to use it as a processing point for me.  I write things for people, I have proofread as a profession, I write for technical companies, so writing comes naturally for me, more so than speaking to someone.  ESPECIALLY when it is the processing of feelings.  AND I don’t have to count on others or have an audience to listen to me.  So, as I was getting up every morning, going to the shelter for an AA Meeting and often going to more than one in a day, I was ‘Workin’ it.”  And not really feeling like I wanted to blog about it because it was becoming a routine of living instead of a struggle for survival that the blog writing helped me sort through.  I don’t want the blog to become some sort of Albatross around my neck like the Ancient Mariner.  This blog is therapy not punishment.  Just like at one point Booze was my friend I thought until one day it wasn’t.  So rather than to stop blogging I still will as my thoughts are sorting and I hope to see you there!