Who me?

learning to see myself clearly

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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Take time for yourself

soul happy

 

Today is a better day.  Last night, I took my own advice and took care of myself.  I spent a relaxing evening with my dogs, reading and knitting.  I watched a little tv and listened to some good music.  I ate healthy food and drank water.  This morning I feel a little more like myself.

I feel more like the self I haven’t been for a while.  And that is good.

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Always remember to breathe…

ww sunshine

Today is day 15 and I am having an easier time seeing the sunshine.  I know myself and I have to stop when I feel anxious or stresses and take a deep breath, or ten.  I need to gentle myself through this time, give myself permission to rest, to be less productive, to breathe.

I had gotten away from reading last fall.  I know books feed my soul.  I just finished my third book in the past two weeks; that is progress.  I know creative things feed my soul.  I finished a pair of socks that have been on my needles since June.  I began another pair yesterday, it feels good to hear the click, click with beautiful music in the background.

I must slow myself down and stop to enjoy those things.  Simple things will be my sunshine.  Last night it was laying on my bed and having my three dogs all lay down around me.  This morning it was visiting with a student I really care about and hearing about her progress.

I have a lot of good in my life.  The sunshine will be my focus.

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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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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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First Friday staying in

Okay, that only kind of sucked.  Dinner was good.  I made a parsnip, carrot, potato gratin and pork roast.  At least, I am eating well.  The strange thing is that I don’t mind time alone, in fact I need it.  I am just so conditioned to going out on Friday night that it was hard not to feel lonely.    I know that I am going to need to find some new friends and activities to fit a sober life.  Small steps.   For now I’ll just concentrate on one moment at a time.  Right now, think it’ll be a movie on my crowded couch near the fire.

Crowded couch, just the usual

Crowded couch, just the usual

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Cooking to distract myself from Friday night

Yesterday, I got to thinking about the overripe bananas sitting in the kitchen.  Looking to distract myself, I decided to search recipes.  Mind you we were snowed in, so I needed to work with what I had on hand.  Unfortunately, there seems to be a shortage of banana cookie or cake recipes that aren’t full of oatmeal, nuts or cinnamon.  All of those things were in short supply, so I did nothing.  Today I had better luck, I found a cake recipe.  It  didn’t go as planned.  A metaphor for my life.

When I went to take the first layer out of the pan, let’s just say it was soft.  Not to be undone, I put them back in the oven.   Maybe I’ll just euthanize this one (cake for dinner anyone?  it has eggs, flour and fruit)  I can pretend I only wanted a one layer cake.

No danger of this becoming a cooking blog

No danger of this becoming a cooking blog

This was aspiring to be a banana cake with white chocolate chips and  coconut butter-cream frosting.  At least it was a fabulous distraction and it did taste good.  Sometimes you just have to make the best of things, even when they don’t turn out the way you plan.  I’ll take this one with a big glass of milk.  Have a peaceful weekend.

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Nature seemed to know I needed exercise and other ways to fill found time

Progress

Progress

The storm has passed. We have more than a foot of snow; it’s hard to tell how much when it blows around so much. Surprisingly, my first of several trips out to shovel felt pretty good. I know I need to get moving more.  Fortunately, it doesn’t feel cold when I’m lugging tons of snow.  And the dogs certainly love it.

more to enjoy

more to enjoy

Today is another found day, so I will keep myself distracted with simple things.  I enjoy sitting by the fire with my knitting, listening to music or a good movie.  I enjoy playing with the dogs in the snow.  Maybe I’ll do some baking and cook a great dinner tonight.  However it goes, I’ll be gentle with myself.  I think that is key.  Wishing everyone a peaceful Friday.

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