Who me?

learning to see myself clearly

Friday gratitude…trying to avoid negativity

This has been a difficult week.  Those are the times that I need to focus on gratitude more than ever.

Today, I am grateful for my advisory students who are like a family.

I am grateful for this community and the positive feedback you give me.

I am grateful for the phone conversations I had this week with my oldest son who is 500 miles away.

I am grateful for the growth I have experienced during the past year that has enabled me to be truly helpful to my son and my students.

I am grateful that writing this list is making the negative parts of the week fade away.

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Clearing the noise in my head

How do you clear your mind?  This was the question posed by my friend on Saturday.  As I thought about it, it occurred to me that the answer wasn’t as simple as yoga, breathing, meditation, acupuncture…and all of those type of things I have mentioned.  I realized that it is deeper than that.

As an educator, I have spent over 25 years learning about how the brain works.  I learned, years ago, that when kids were working on things that were strongly right brained they talked less and didn’t seem to notice the passage of time.  I came to understand that this made sense because it is the left brain that perceives time and processes language.

I realized that when I thought about the kinds of things that calm me, they were primarily right brain activities.  I think that when I sit and run negative thoughts or over analyze things, that happens in my left brain.  Music, art, creativity, spatial kinds of puzzles, sudoku, watching and listening to the waves at the ocean, laughter, spontaneity all happen in my right brain and help pull me away from the things that drag me down.  It is when I do these kinds of things that time passes effortlessly and I relax.  Yoga and things like that work because I get lost in the music (right brain).

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Strength is beauty

Strength is beauty

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Yes, me.

If you go back to my beginning posts, you will see that I have been reluctant to declare myself an alcoholic.  I haven’t declared that I will never drink again and Tuesday, when I went to my first meeting, I felt very out of place.  Wednesday, I felt like an imposter.  My story doesn’t have a rock bottom.  I never dragged myself across hot coals to get a bottle.  Then I read this, I am a high bottom alcoholic on Emotional Drinking.  That was me.

Then I came upon another article, Almost Alcoholic, by the Sober Journalist, and I knew.  I am an alcoholic.  I just figured it out sooner than many.  I have spent the last 35 years in a spiral.  I would catch myself in an unhealthy pattern and pull it together, for a while.  Sometimes life threw me so much that I had to steel myself against it and power through.  I was the strong one when 2 of my 3 boys had drug and alcohol problems.  I was the one who held it together when my husband was killing himself with booze, he died June 2012 of liver failure at age 44.  Each time however, I would toast the end of the crisis and eventually find myself in a worse place than before.  I was lucky.  I was frequently in viewing distance of rock bottom.  I watched those around me reach it, but I would avoid complete disaster.

Last summer, one of my boys began his recovery.  In September, another of my boys and his girlfriend came to live with me.  We haven’t spent much time together in 7 years.  I was in a bad pattern and last week I decided that I didn’t like how I looked through their eyes.  Rebuilding my relationship with him and taking charge of my life is important.

Last night, I went to another meeting.  This one felt like home.  I knew I belonged, that I needed to be there.  I am an alcoholic.  I’m just one of the lucky ones who didn’t lose everything figuring it out.

 

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My first meeting…

My good friend had a relapse, a bad one, and as a result I went to her house to check on her after work yesterday.  An AA friend of hers showed up, too.  After a few hours of coffee, water and talking, the three of us went off to a meeting.  It was her home meeting and she was beside herself on the way.

When we walked in, many of her friends welcomed her back.  I was glad for her that she had such support.  She went up for a new 24 hour chip.  When I stood up I got a hug, but they were out of chips.  After the meeting, she helped clean up, my other friend and I waited in the hall until we made our way to the car.

In the car, my friend talked about how wonderful it was to have such an amazing group of women.  She asked me if I agreed, I tried not to answer, but she pressed me.  Not one person had introduced themselves, not one.  I stood up as a newcomer, no one reached out.  The other friend told me quietly that she had other meetings she preferred.  We exchanged numbers.  I will try again.  For those of you in the program, please don’t let that happen to anyone else.  It was awful.

I will say, I have never been more thankful for the support I have found here.  Thank you.

Today is Day 8.

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Watching a friend slip…

Wow, did I have a strange morning… a good friend of mine has taken a bad tumble off of the proverbial wagon.  Luckily, I saw her early, I think before any more damage could be done.  It fell to me to scoop her up and cart her home from work hoping no one else noticed.

The strangeness comes from the fact that I haven’t talked to anyone about my new sobriety.  I will go over to her house after work and see what needs to be done.  Maybe this will be the day I go to my first meeting.  The interesting part of this, as I turn it over and over in my mind, is how it has renewed my conviction.  I want to be sober.

 

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Why can’t I talk about this?

I am not sure why I haven’t talked to anyone about my decision to stop drinking.  It just happened.  Perhaps it’s time to give it some thought.

Today is the last day of a two week vacation from reality.  Reality has been tough for a while.  Maybe to understand I need to retrace the path that led me to this point.

I met my late husband in a local bar in 2008.  I was a regular.  I had recently found myself an empty nester and found it nice to know there was always a place where I could see people I knew.  It’s a draw to a lonely person to have a place where someone will make you laugh, where someone will be glad to see you.  The funny thing is, the alcohol was not the draw in the beginning.

Dear husband and I quickly retreated into our own world, an alcohol soaked world.  He moved in after he lost his licence and his job.  He would have dinner and drinks waiting for me every night when I returned home.  We had so much fun.

When we married in May 2011, he already was showing signs of illness.  I figured that he’d go to a doctor when he got on my insurance.  Well, it took 11 months to convince him.  Finally, I made a doctor appointment.  Unfortunately, because he didn’t have a doctor it was going to be 4 weeks before he could get in.  By now, he walked with a cane.  I did everything around the house.  There were no more dinners waiting for me when I came home.  I took care of him and loved him unconditionally.  I still believed in our future.  I had hope.

Our first anniversary, a Friday, was the first time he failed to send me an email in the morning.  He was feeling so poorly he didn’t get out of bed.  The next day, I thought his color looked off.  He didn’t drink much that weekend, he was feeling rough.  Monday, I finally convinced him he couldn’t wait for the appointment.  He agreed to go to urgent care the next morning.  That night he slept on the couch, he felt too unsteady to climb the stairs.  The next morning he couldn’t walk and he was clearly yellow.

I called my friend, Jim, who is one of two full-time firefighters in our small town.  He came with an ambulance.  25 days later my dear husband died, having never come home again.

I rarely left the hospital during that time.  I didn’t drink.  I did go to my doctor and get a prescription to help.  Afterward, I rarely drank and did a pretty good job of weening myself down to only a pill a day.  I was numb without help.

I had 3 months off of work.  I was a hermit, but I thought I was okay.  Eventually, I wandered out to my old watering hole.  Old friends welcomed me warmly and I was on the slippery slope.  It doesn’t really matter the details, but by this past fall I was out at least 4 nights a week.  I told myself all kinds of stories about why it was okay.

In October, my 24 year old son, his girl friend and their dog moved in.  I began to see myself through their eyes, not that they ever said a word, and I didn’t like what I saw.  A few Saturdays in a row hung over on the couch, growing credit card bills, a missing bumper on the back of my car…

When my winter break arrived, I was worn out and depressed.  The kids went south for the holiday and I was alone.  I didn’t leave the house for 5 days.I turned down Christmas invites.  I couldn’t face someone else’s happy holiday.  I went to the bar at the Chinese place up the street alone on Christmas; that will make you reflect.  When NYE came around and I was back in the same spot, I was not happy.  The next day, I considered the fact that I had only left the house 3 times in 10 days, twice to go to a bar and once to pick up my damaged car, I needed a change.

I started this blog and my journey to sobriety alone here with my dogs.  Tomorrow I have to go face the world.  I hope it’s kind to me.  I need to build new routines, so many of the old ones feature drinking.

I think it may be a control thing.  I am not ready to let anyone into my world.  We’ll see how it goes when I go out into theirs.

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Treating ourselves well

Being good to myself…that’s what this is really about isn’t it?  I need to care more about my health and emotional well being.  I’ve been working on being kind to myself since my husband died in June 2012.  I am getting better at it and I suppose this is the next step.

Thanks to Belle, from the 100 day challenge.  http://tiredofthinkingaboutdrinking.wordpress.com/   I am thinking about treats.  So, what are the treats that will make me feel cared for?

  • breakfast at my favorite diner
  • a pint of great ice cream
  • some wonderful new wool for knitting
  • flowers
  • a pound of fabulous coffee

It looks like tomorrow will be another snow day.  I think I’ll spend some time looking for new recipes and cook myself a wonderful dinner.  I enjoy cooking and as you can see from the list above, food is a good motivator for me.  Perhaps I should plan time for some yoga as well.

Today’s inspiration:  The joy my dogs find running in the snow.  By the way, it’s impossible to get three running dogs in a photo while slipping on an icy driveway.

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Take a deep breath…enjoy the snow.

After I wrote my post yesterday, I spent a ridiculous amount of time thinking about  whether I would drink again or not.  So, I think the answer lies in the question.  If you have to ask, the answer is clear.  Why is it so hard for me to commit to quitting?  I didn’t drink yesterday.  I was fine.  I know it is the right thing to do.  For today, I will take a deep breath and enjoy the snow.

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Beginnings

sart

I’ve never paid too much attention to the new year, resolutions and the like, but somehow this year is different.  I have just made it through my second holiday season without my dear husband.  This year I spent most of my time alone.  Today is the final day of a 12 day vacation from work.  I only left the house three times.  Two of those were to eat at my neighborhood bar.

Just three miles from home, it’s a nice friendly place where I can always find a friend to talk to and a bite to eat.  I met my late husband in a similar place and lost him to liver failure five years later.

I have paused to consider my drinking before.  I have cut back before.  I never considered myself an alcoholic because I could go for days without drinking.  I could stop after one or two.  It’s time to face that fact that it still isn’t healthy.

I spend too much money on booze.  My friendships seem to focus around drinking.  I am the friend people call to go out, they don’t call me to go on a hike.  I am the friend my dear friend who’s in recovery calls when she falls off the wagon.  I don’t want to be that friend.  I know she calls because I’m not judgmental, but I would rather she called because I make her recovery easier.

I have spent a great deal of time since June 2012, when my dear husband died, thinking about what feeds my soul.   Summer went well, I hardly drank at all.  I was productive.  I was alone.  Fall was okay, but winter is difficult for me.  I hate the cold and the darkness.  I find that I lack the ambition to cook and eat well.  It is too easy to go out.  I know there will be people to talk to and someone it is more important to me now.

This is my new beginning.  Today I begin a new chapter.

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