I finally checked my blog and saw that I had two more followers the other day so I feel obligated to write. You see I was going to wait until I could write that I had finally figured it out, that I had the answer and I had been living the happy life of sobriety for several months. Didn't happen. Instead life's been basically the same cycle since I started this darn blog. I do great for most of a month and then I go straight to hell for a week. The cap'n is fed up with me, I'm fed up with me. I've been off the booze for 3 days but I feel really sad. And then tonight I got bad news about a project I've been involved in, one that I thought was going to redeem me. Luckily I can't blame what is happening on my drinking but I feel like I'm being punished. I feel like I've been riding an undeserved wave of good luck for too long and now it's time to pay my due. I've used up my last chance and now I'm really going to have to prove myself before things get better again. Maybe that is the incentive I need. Plus I think I've developed an ulcer. Just one more thing to worry about. The cap'n says I love to worry. He is so, so wrong. I'm sitting here on this computer when I should be in bed because I'm trying to exhaust myself so I don't toss and turn all night. Or maybe I'm trying to make amends. God,I hope it works.
Monday, November 1, 2010
Well, would you look who's back? I keep thinking I should wait until I'm in a better mood before I write this blog but God knows when that's going to happen so here goes. I'm not going to go into what happened. You've heard it all before. Same old rigamaroll, song and dance. Same old shit.
So last night I'm lying in bed replaying every embarrassing incident that I've had a leading role in in the last 10 years and I had this whole other blog planned but as you will surmise my co-writer had other ideas. I had just about cringed and mortified myself to sleep when this scene from my 1st grade popped into my head. I swear to "you know who" this really happened.
When I was in 1st grade I had this friend I'll call "Bertha", not because she was fat but she was bigger than your average 1st grade bear. Anyway Bertha loved to play on the see-saw but because she was bigger than the rest of us, most of the kids usually refused. As most of us know, to adequately see-saw you kind of have to have an equal playing field. So Bertha, would go around to all the kids asking them to play on the see-saw with her and one-by-one they would all refuse her. Then she would come to me. By this time, me being me, I was feeling very sorry for her. Apparently, even at this young age without the aid of alcohol or drugs, I was already suffering from short-term memory loss. So on her "cross my heart" promise to play fair and not use her weight advantage unfairly I would gingerly crawl onto the see-saw. Things would go pretty well for the first couple up-and-downs and then Bertha all of a sudden would get this demonic smile on her face and gleeful look in her eye. I would start shaking my head and pleading with her not to do it but Bertha was past the point of no return by then. Instead of braking her downward passage with her feet, Bertha would put all her weight into it. When her ample butt would hit bottom, my upward progress would terminate with a mighty jolt. Unable to hold onto the sweaty handbars, up into the air I would soar for an all too brief moment before I crashed in a cloud of dust and gravel onto the schoolyard ground. And Bertha would just laugh and laugh and laugh her fat little ass off. And yes, I fell for this over and over and over. Kind of like Charlie Brown and Lucy and that f'ing football.
I'm sure we all can figure out what that sad little memoir is a metaphor of. Apparently, it has always taken me a long time to learn my hard lessons. I have no advice today and I'm still see-sawing on how I'm going to handle my drinking. I've been sober for five days now so that's a small comfort. I have been drinking a couple of glasses of red wine at night. I ask myself, "Why?" I don't like it. It's not enough to get me high. It doesn't even relax me. What's the point? I guess it's just fulfillment of some sense of entitlement. I deserve that glass of alcohol at the end of the day. Moderation may work for some people, but I still find myself thinking about that drink at the end of the day all day long. How I'm going to handle it, or whether I'm even going to drink that day. It takes too much of my brain space and it's exhausting. I'd really like to just abstain and be done with it but the pattern of my last 6 months shows when I try to do this, I usually decide to eventually get back on that see-saw with harder landings each time.
So, no answers and no plans. I'm just out there doing my best to avoid all the Bertha's and Lucy's. Today I'm thankful for a husband that softens my landings.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
Today I'm thankful for fresh starts and earplugs.
Good Monday morning, my two faithful readers. I don't know how manic it will be. I'm feeling a little tired and grumpy. I've gotten into the habit of getting up around 5:00 am just so I can have some alone time and some blissful silence. The minute, the cap'n gets up that TV goes on and it doesn't go off until he goes to bed. It drives me crazy! We live in a small old A-frame and I've taken to closing myself away in the back bedroom just to escape the infernal noise. There that's my spew for today.
Of course, the three glasses of wine last night could have contributed to my grumpiness this morning, too. Yes, you might have noticed I didn't put an abstinence day count at the start of this post. I fell off the abstinence wagon on Friday. We took a lunch train ride through the mountains and it called for a bottle of wine that we split between us. So I didn't make the recommended 30 again but I'm okay with that. I've abstained 40 out of the last 50 days and I think I've learned the lessons that abstinence has to teach. Just as I suspected, going 30 days without a drink is not a cure-all. You don't wake up on day 31 as a new person that no longer suffers the uncontrollable urge to drink. How do I know this since I've never made it to Day 30? I've read enough testimonials from people that have and have slid right back into the old habits. So why bother suffering through those 30 days? For me it was magical! I didn't say it was a magical cure-all but it was magical all the same. It was a time of reaquaintance. A time to renew a relationship with a world I had forgotten existed. A time filled with days that I couldn't wait to jump out of bed and start the day. A time filled with conversations with friends and family that I didn't stumble through, forget or regret. A time filled with real feelings, good and bad, not dulled or exaggerated, just genuine.
It was also a time to reacquaint myself with me. It was like getting together with an old school chum (I guess I'm feeling British this morning, too) that I hadn't seen for years. It was scary and exciting. Would I recognize her? Would I even like her? I did recognize her but she had changed. She was more confident then I remember. She was funnier and her wit was quicker. She still shares my fashion dysfunctionality but she does manage to brush her teeth and hair every day. She's genuine. She doesn't make excuses or hide her faults, while she's not proud of them, she accepts them as part of her and deals with them instead of avoiding them by hiding behind a bottle. She faces every day with gritty determination and, best of all, hope. She knows she is capable of handling whatever task is presented to her without the crutch of alcohol. I'd hate her if she wasn't me, or the person I could be. I think I like her. I definitely want to get to know her better.
Back to those three glasses of wine. I'm ambivalent about moderation so far. Since Friday, I've drank two days (I abstained on Saturday because I just didn't feel like drinking, It was a novel experience to say no when I'd given myself permission to drink). I've drank more than I had planned and more than recommended by the moderation theory experts, but I've been able to put the brakes on and I haven't woke up with any hangovers. I feel a difference from when I was abstaining, though. A lessening of my enthusiasm. Maybe I'm just sleep deprived.
So I'm out there today to do my best to un-grump myself and get to know "me" a little better.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Day 22 of abstinence from alcohol. Today I'm thankful for generous hearts and the nature sponsored light show over the mountains last night.
With three weeks of abstinence officially behind me I think I've figured out the 30 day abstinence is not some magical prescription that is going to alleviate my urge to drink or overdrink. Instead I think it is a time of reacquaintance. (Microsoft says this is not a word but I'm gonna use it anyhow). A time to reacquaint myself with what life can be without drinking. A time for others to become reacquainted with me. And especially, a time to reacquaint myself with "me". For me, it's like meeting an old friend I haven't seen for thirty plus years. I'm a little nervous. Will I recognize her? Will we have anything in common? How much has she changed? Will I still like her?
I do recognize her. She's more driven and more of a control freak then I remember (I wonder what caused that). She seems much more confident and brave. She seems so capable, I'd hate her if she wasn't me. She's funnier than I remember and her mind clicks a lot faster than mine. Oh, and she doesn't repeat herself near as much as I. She and I both have very giving natures but the difference is she is able to take action on her generous nature since she is not hindered with the handicap of drinking and its aftermath. Did I tell you that she doesn't repeat herself as much as I? She is as fashion dysfunctional as I am but she does manage to brush her teeth and comb her hair every day. We can both be a bitch at times but she knows when to put the brakes on before she causes irreparable harm. While it's a little uncomfortable at times, I think I like her. A lot! She is definitely a person I want to spend more time getting to know.
So today I'm out there doing my best to get to know "me" a little better.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Today I'm thankful for sober telephone conversations with my sons and a good supply of firewood.
Day 21 of abstinence has not yet dawned. 5:30 am and I'm up and outside with Mr. Stan to do his business. It's 34 degrees and I can smell the wood smoke from the fireplace. The sky is overflowing with stars and I am so glad to be out there and rested and well. Nothing big on the agenda today. I have a doctor appointment this morning, just a check-up. That was something else I put off when I was drinking, I was always afraid they'd palpate my liver and say, "What is the state of Texas doing in there?" So just a wonderful, normal day ahead. I feel lucky.
So today I'm out there doing my best to count my lucky stars.
Monday, October 4, 2010
It's been two days on the road so I'm cheating a little and posting a blog I wrote for my other blog. I think a lot of it applies. Whether we are abstaining or modifying we are finding ourselves in a new place in our lives and the changes can be scary. Oh, and I've added the lost verse that only the readers on this blog get to read.
I'm back in Kansas, the place of my birth and the following 40 some years. And while the cap'n cringes when I say this, it feels like home. It's hard to explain but it just feels like there is some kind of recognition deep in my DNA. My heart beats more sure. I know the smells and the feel of the air. The way the sunlight slants on an autumn afternoon is a touchstone for all other afternoon suns. I can tell what the day will be by the light that shines in my morning window.
I was born with wanderlust though. Always dreaming of faraway places and the unfamiliar. A wishful restlessness. And so I wander. To distant shores and lands that are as different as imaginable from where I came from. I'm not sure what it is I'm looking for but I haven't found it yet. I'm a little afraid that it's back here where I started. But it could be in Mexico. I had forty plus years to let Kansas seep into my marrow. I've been in Colorado for six "half" years and it's just starting to feel like home. I'll give my new home a fighting chance.
The cap'n is starting to sweat bullets while he reads this. Don't worry cap, I'm not ready to put the house in Mexico up for sale and move back to Kansas. Not even! I'm excited about our new life down there and the undiscovered possibilities. But just like anyone that moves on a boat or to a new place, foreign or not, I sometimes feel nostalgic for "home". That's okay. That's normal. But it's easy to mistake that homesickness for unhappiness with our new surroundings. It takes time and effort for strangeness to evolve into familiarity. It's scary, especially if you don't speak the language. And it's so tempting to surround yourself with only the familiar and do only the things that you already know how to do. But where's the fun in that? You have to confront the things that scare you, if you don't you are not giving yourself or your new "home" a fair chance. You will always ask yourself if you did all you could. Most importantly, recognize if it is yourself or the place you are unhappy with. If you are not happy or comfortable with yourself, no place is going to provide those things for you. (How was that for a Zen moment?)
However, if you have given your all and you've given it all the time you think you can spare, it's okay to say, "This isn't what I want." It can be heartbreaking to admit that the dream wasn't what you thought it was going to be. Plus, when you leave a "fringe" community like the boating or the expat community, you may feel or be made to feel that you've failed. You're abandoning ship. This is so not true. You tried. By God, at least you tried, which is more than most people do. It is more important that you recognize that you are genuinely unhappy and do something about it. If that means leaving and trying something else, so be it. Life's too short. I stayed on the boat longer than I should have. I waited until the cap'n admitted he was unhappy. I squandered some precious years and tinged a lot of happy memories with resentment.
Move on. Go back home if that makes you happy or keep searching until you find a place that feels like home. It's okay. You have my permission.
I will always ask myself if it was the boat I was unhappy with or was it me. I think I know the answer to that, but I'll never be sure. And when I say that I have to give Mexico a fighting chance, I mean I have to make sure that I am content with myself before I can judge whether I am happy with a place. Hey, you know what? That goes for people too. I mentioned that I've been looking for years for another "home" and still haven't found it. I think that is because "home" is within myself. Until I can get back to a place that I feel safe and in control, I will never have the comfort of "home". I will never find it if I continue to drink the way I have. So that is my first step. But stopping drinking isn't the only step I'll have to take. Now comes the scary part of confronting whatever it is that makes me drink. Now comes the challenges of learning to live a new way. Now comes the rewards of doing all those things that drinking wouldn't let me do.
So I'll be out there doing my best to do all I can to make it home.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Day 17: Today I'm "real" thankful for cosmic warning shots and "real" good non-authentic Mexican food. (The state where I live in Mexico in the winter is very proud of the fact that they don't serve Mexican food. They serve Mayan food. I wish those Mayans weren't so damn proud, the place could use a Taco Bell or at least some hard crunchy taco shells.)
I drove three hours west yesterday to my hometown and got together with my old drinking biddies. There is almost 30 years of history between us. We've been through childbirth and all things good and bad that come with children. Multiple husbands and all things good and bad that come with those bad boys. Affairs and divorces. The death of a spouse. Job losses and moves. A whole lot of nights spent either laughing uproariously or crying on each other shoulders. We might have changed husbands and hair color more times than we can remember but the five of us have been a constant. We started out as four but we added another soul to our elite group about 16 years ago. She's finally starting to fit in. There's a lot of mortar between the bricks of our sisterhood.
I was the first to show up at our host friend's house. She offered me the usual choices, wine, beer, or whiskey. I pointed to the jug under my arm and told her that this was my drink of choice for the night. Decaffeinated diet Pepsi. I explained to her about this journey I am on. She immediately started to tell me how proud she was of me and how worried she'd been. I cut her off with, "That's all I want to hear about that." and, mercifully, she shut up. I don't know why it bothered me so, except maybe it made the point that if people are concerned about me, I was worse than I thought I was and while I know that, I don't want to discuss it ad nauseum. I don't know if I'm feeling snarky because she was poking at my tender spots but I'm concerned about her, too. This friend uses religion as a crutch. Now while religion is probably the best crutch to have, when she goes all Tammy Fay Baker on me I know, from experience, she's masking some deep unhappiness. You know I love ya, God and you're my guiding force but, just like everything else, I don't want you force fed to me.
When the second friend showed up and was asked what she wanted to drink she asked, "What's Kary drinking?" thinking that would be her excuse to drink some damn good whiskey. She was disappointed to find out I was drinking un-anointed, un-adulterated Diet Pepsi. "To Hell with that!" she said, " Give me a beer." The other two eventually found their way and the first hour or so was spent catching up and reliving and rehashing. At one point there was an awkward moment of silence and I said, "What's this? This has never happened before." To which they all responded, " That's because when your drinking there's never any silence." It was funny and I laughed but it also reminded me of what my friends have had to put up with through the years. I remember the few times I was sober and someone was drunk and acting like, well like me, how uncomfortable and embarrassed I was for them. Now I know not all of you are blessed with the stellar personality that I possess and not all of your flaws can be resolved just by putting the cork back in the bottle but let me give you a little beauty advice. Alcohol only makes ugly uglier and bad habits badder.
The rest of the evening was spent listening. Really listening. One friend is going through one of the most horrific things a mother can go through. No her child didn't die. I'm sure there are days she thinks it would be easier if he had died. That's all I'm going to say about that. This morning I can sit here and feel blessed that I was there for her, "really" there for her. For once, I didn't have to be the center of attention. I didn't butt in. I didn't try to divert the attention on to me. All I did was listen and anybody that knows me knows how difficult that is for me. I was a "real" friend.
Last year when I left the last gathering of the coven, there was a DUI checkpoint smack dab in front of my hotel. I managed to sneak up the alley and come in the back way. Another cosmic bullet dodged. Last night I was almost disappointed there wasn't a checkpoint. "Come on, coppers, go ahead and stop me. I dare you. How sweet it is.
True Story. My dad used to have a favorite barmaid he called "Duck". She had gargantuan breasts and every time she would turn around my dad would yell "Duck!" So today I'm out there doing my best to duck bullets and keep it "real"
PS: I like talking but I don't like talking to myself. As you might have garnered this may be your only chance to get a word in edgewise so leave a comment, dammit!
Thursday, September 30, 2010
You all know my tendency to perambulate. I'm freakin' Forrest Gump except I hold by the walk don't run policy. The town that I'm rambling around in at present has an inordinate number of dogs chained up in their yards. In my experience a chained dog is usually a mean dog. I don't know if he was mean before his cruel, shit for brains, owner put him on the chain or if the chain made him mean. It doesn't matter because he's mean now. Who can blame him? There he sits all day long watching the world pass by just beyond his reach. When he runs to join it, he is jerked back by the neck and reminded of his place in the world, his limitations. The people that pass by don't help him. They are scared and repelled.
Alcohol was that chain for me. It kept me on the fringe of my life. It allowed me to only go so far before it jerked me back. Plans for tomorrow? Next week? Next year? All held back. Leashed, along with my dreams. But now that chain is getting weaker and some of the links are about to give way. Soon I'll be free to chase my dreams.
So today I'm out there trying my damnedest to break that chain and catch up to my dreams.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
The friend I was worried about passed away last Friday. Dean was actually my dad's friend but he became mine. My dad moved back to his small hometown after my mom died. He bought a big old house on main street and collected a motley crew of friends. Dean was one of the crew. My dad and he had been friends in their younger days and he had graduated high school with my mom in an even smaller nearby town. Every member of the crew kept a jug of their favorite poison in the liquor cabinet and when their work day was done they would come in the backdoor without knocking and fix themselves a drink and sit down at the kitchen table and talk, and argue, and play cards, and sometimes get drunk. My brothers and sister didn't much care for the crew (my brothers and sister don't drink). They saw them as unsophisticated old drunks. I loved those guys. I saw them as friends.
In later years, my dad had several health setbacks and I went to stay with him for several months on a couple of occasions. I was the nurse, I was close, and I was convenient. That's how my brothers and sister saw it. I saw it as an opportunity to help my dad, my best friend besides the cap'n. It wasn't always easy, but it was a privilege. Through all the ups and downs, the crew still came by and broke up the monotony of my and dad's day. When I needed a walker or rails put on the back porch stairs after dad's stroke it was his crew that I called. And they always answered. When we needed comic relief they were there with their small town gossip and petty squabbles. When dad was able, we'd head down to the VFW where the same five old men were always hunkered around the bar. Rounds were bought and cards were shuffled. I'm sure my brothers and sister were concerned about the care that dad was getting but I wonder if they are lucky enough to have friends like these. I am.
The day before my dad died was a football Saturday. Dad was frail but he sat at his usual place at the kitchen table and all the other chairs were full as the crew watched the game on the big screen TV. We talked, and squabbled, and laughed and got a little drunk. That night Dad went to sleep and didn't wake up. I can't imagine a better send off.
The crew talked about buying the house just so they'd still have their favorite place. Joe's place.
P.S. Not all drinking memories are bad memories.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Today I'm thankful for changes and heaters in cars.
Day 13 (I'm pretty sure):Good morning to my loyal readers, all two of you. Did I mention I love comments? Anyhow… Years and years ago I went to comedy club in Denver and I remember something one of the comics said. He was a recovering drug addict and alcoholic. He said he would snort a little coke and that would make him too nervous and jittery so he'd drink some beer to bring him down then he'd get to feeling to down so he'd snort a little coke….In the end, he said, he figured out he was just trying to feel normal. (That's all I remember about that night except that he was very intolerant of us drunks in the audience. I hope he found a new venue for his act.) So this morning I felt a little jittery so my first thought was to have just a little Jack Daniels to smooth things out. Old habits die a slow death. But I didn't and it was just for nanosecond that I actually considered it.
The good news is that the jitters are not from alcohol withdrawal, it's been 13 days so I hope I'm past that. These were caffeine jitters. I thought while I was giving up alcohol I might as well revamp my whole life. Unfortunately, I forgot to tell my system. I used to mix my JD with diet Pepsi and as you know I drank a lot of JD and diets. Well now, that I'm not cutting my diet Pepsi with JD I got concerned about the amount of caffeine I was drinking so I switched to decaf Pepsi. However, in the morning I still drink Diet Mountain Dew (I've never been a coffee drinker) and unfortunately they don't make a decaf Mountain Dew. I mean that's kind of Mountain Dew's whole purpose. So this morning I've got a little caffeine rush. I can live with that.
Oh and I'm also on a diet. Too much at once? I thought so too. But one night I was having one of my late night chats with God:
Me: I'm thinking about going on a diet but that's probably too much right now.
God: Why's that?
Me: I should probably just concentrate on my not drinking right now. My whole focus should be on that.
God: Why's that?
Me: Well, that's what "everybody" says.
God: Who is "everybody"?
Me: The authorities on the subject. All the organizations.
God: What am I? Chopped Liver?
Me: Well, what do you think?
God: You're asking moi? I am honored. Seriously Kary, I think now is the time to try to make all those changes that you wanted to make but drinking wouldn't allow you to. Change your life as much as you can for the better so that you have even more reasons not to go back to drinking. The better your new life is the more unrecognizable and unattractive your old life will be.
Me: That makes sense.
God: You think?
Me: What if I fail?
God: At least you tried and isn't that what this is all about. What if you succeed? You sure as hell can't do that if you don't try. If you fail, just get right back up and try again. God knows, I mean, I know you're good at that.
Me: Okay, I'll try
God: That's my girl.
So I'm going through some reconstruction here and just like all construction projects there's a lot of debris. I have to tear some things down before I can rebuild and I'm sure there will be a lot of do-overs but hopefully the finished product will be better than even I expect. So along with the not drinking, I'm dieting. I have a problem eating when I'm drinking heavily and I do lose weight but I don't think that's a good diet plan. I'm pretty sure the toothpick legs, nine month gestation cirrhotic belly is not a good look for me. I'm also exercising and writing. I was reading the moderation board the other day and several of the posters said they used drinking to slow them down. Hell, it didn't just slow me down it paralyzed me. Now, I lay in bed at night and instead of passing out my mind races with thoughts and ideas. I worried for a bit that I might be manic but I figured out that this was just a backlog of brain activity that had been dammed up by alcohol.
So today I'm out there doing my best to stay normal and change at the same time.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Day 9: I can tell fall has arrived in KS. Up to now I've been actively seeking shade on my daily rambles but today I was looking for the sunny side of the street. Luckily, I found it. So today I'm grateful for sunny spots on the way and the fact that Kansas doesn't have many trees.
I've been putting this off but it's time to relive the vacation to Hell. Where I fell of the wagon, dropped my basket, and just generally f'd up.
But first some background story.
We had been living on our sailboat in the northern Bahamas for 5 years. We loved it but I always had the feeling we had arrived 10 years too late. Housing prices had gone through the roof, clicks (sp?) had formed, and really all the groundwork for social improvement for the inhabitants had been done. However, we managed to find a role we could play. Social directors. For five years we instigated and participated in every major drinking event in the island chain. And while I'm sharing my sordid past, I have another confession to make. My name isn't really Kary May. Kary May is my evil twin who lives on Guana Cay in the Family Islands of the Bahama's. In the Bahamas, when I would go up and introduce myself to someone and they would reply, "We already met you over on Guana. Don't you remember?" (Oops!) I would reply that they must have met Kary May, my evil twin. I would then go on to explain that Kary May is the one that dances with trees and poles. She doesn't dance with men because they always spin her too fast or dip her too low but she still manages to fall down. Yep, Kary May is a hoot! I wish I could say I left her behind in the islands but she still shows up now and then.
Anyway, after five years we were tired and we decided to take a trip to Mexico for a change of scenery. On the last day of our trip, on our way to the airport we stopped to look at a house and fell in love. We arranged to rent the house for a month. In that month I fell in love not only with the house but also with the opportunity to do good in the poor fishing village in which we would reside but most of all I loved the idea of being able reinvent myself. The community in which we found ourselves was a new one comprised of expats that wanted to better their surroundings and the lives of the natives that they were living amongst. We had just witnessed this being done in the Bahamas and we had a lot of great ideas. Best of all these people didn't know Kary May and if I had my choice they never would.
We spent our first winter in Mexico this year and unfortunately Kary May did show up but except for a few appearances (karaoke on my birthday comes to mind) I was able to keep her out of the public eye. At the end of our 6 months when I was asked to help with our local Christmas toy drive I jumped at the chance. I threw myself into it and in my usual manner I've taken over (in my defense, nobody else wanted to take charge) and I'm sure I've managed to step on a few toes. But I'm doing a helluva job.
Our planned short trip in September filled me with both eagerness and trepidation. I was eager to get down there and help with a fundraiser we had planned and prove to everybody and myself that I could do it. But I also was afraid of once again surrounding myself with people that had way too much time on their hands to drink. I had done that for the past 12 years and look where that got me. Even though I wasn't in charge of the fundraiser, I was helping and I thought that would be enough incentive to keep me on the straight and narrow. Wrong!
The night before we flew out, after 17 days of abstaining from alcohol, I decided to have a couple of drinks. The couple of drinks turned into four or five. But I was okay and the next day, I don't think I even had a hangover but I had a couple of "spookers" on the flight to Houston and then a couple of glasses of wine in the airport, a couple more drinks on the flight to Mexico. And now my cycle had begun. By the third night I wasn't sleeping. This is what really does me in when I'm drinking, my inability to sleep. Because then I wake up in the middle of the night and I'll have a couple of glasses of wine just to relax and then, of course, I feel like crap the next morning so I have to have a couple of shots in my orange juice just to get going and get done what I have to do. This time what I had to do was go around to local businesses and ask for donations for our toy drive. Which I did. With glazed eyes and bourbon on my breath. But I got it done. Barely . By Day 5 or so I couldn't even leave the casa. I walled myself in and all I could manage to do was float around in the pool. I didn't cook. I didn't eat. I didn't even go for a walk on the beach the whole time I was there and it's right outside my door. This is so sad! It's pitiful. My heart goes into a funny rhythm known as "holiday heart" which is a merry way of saying atrial fibrillation. It has a tendency to do this with alarming frequency almost every time I drink anymore. That is because when I do drink, I drink too much which is just fine with my heart, it just doesn't like it when I try to stop. It usually eventually converts back to a normal rhythm on its own but this time I took some medication to help it. Obviously, I've been through this before and yes, it's never going to happen again. Blah, blah, blah…
So by the night of the big fundraiser I'm not drinking but I'm in a haze from the medication I took and, of course I keep feeling my pulse just to make sure I'm not getting ready to keel over. I get through it and it's a success but no thanks to me. I helped. But I know it wasn't to the best of my ability. And that pisses me off. And that makes me really sad. Another lost opportunity. Another lost chance to prove to myself what I'm capable of.
I'd like to say I didn't drink the rest of the trip, but I did. Not as much, I was too exhausted. The last of the trip was just a blur of exhaustion. By the time I put feet back on U.S. ground I hadn't slept in well over 24 hours. I had a couple of drinks on the way to the airport at 0400 in the morning and a couple more on the flight home but I haven't had any since.
It's good to be home.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
All the problems you face today are going to go away, unless you worry them to stay.
Problems like worry. Worry is a magnet for them. If you just "let it be," the current worrisome condition will not even be part of your life a short time from now.
If you worry enough about it, however, you can be sure it will stick around. So, just do your best around all this...then turn it over to God. Yes? ~I Believe God Wants You to Know
Another snippet stolen from a fellow blogger's blog. Scott you need to get back to blogging, I about read all of your archives. http://sippiambrose.blogspot.com/
Day 7: I'm a worrier and I come from a long line of worriers. I used to tease my mom that if she woke up one day and there was nothing to worry about, she'd worry about the fact there was nothing to worry about. Of course, that remark has come back to bite me on my ass because I'm just like her. I don't obsessively worry about everything but when I do worry, I do it up right. I'm like that little cartoon character that walks around with the cloud over his head saying, "Woe is me." I know that worrying is the world's biggest waste of time. I know I should "Let go and let God. But how the hell do you do that? When someone says to me, "I just don't worry about it" I want to wrap my hands around their neck and give them something to worry about. Is there an on/off switch somewhere that everybody's keeping secret from me? (I might be a little paranoid, too) I used to have a dimmer switch. Alcohol wouldn't take the worry away completely but it least it would dim it a little bit but at some point I'd have to turn the lights back up and deal with the mess that was causing my worry. Plus I'd have to deal with all the other messes I made while I was bumping around in my "dimness". It also helps when you're worrying to always imagine the worst possible outcome. It makes your worrying worth it. I mean why worry that little Junior has a sticker in his thumb when you can worry that the sticker inevitably will become infected and eventually gangrene will overtake his whole dominant arm leading to amputation and now you can worry about how you're going to pay for that fancy new prosthesis. Aren't you glad you're not married to me? I just fill the capn's days with sweetness and light.
Oh, did I forget to mention that I'm worried today? Not about me and my drinking for a nice change, but I'm worried about a friend. There's still a bottle of my favorite dimmer switch right to the left of me (I can see it from here) but I think I'll keep the lights on full wattage today in case a friend needs me. So today I'm just sitting here doing my best to act like I'm not worried, even though I damn well am.
Today I'm grateful that I still have friends to worry about.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Today I'm grateful that my dog, Stanley the killer bichon, is blind and I can see and that it's not the other way around.
Day 6. I've got this funny feeling…and it's hope. I'm sitting here watching my dog. Stanley is about 16 years old and totally blind. We drag him everywhere, the poor thing. He's been up and down the East Coast and the Bahamas on a sailboat, lived on a mountain where all variety of animal view him as a possible appetizer, Mexico where the fleas are bigger than he, and worse of all Kansas where it's almost a blessing he can't see cuz he ain't missing much. It's almost like a cruel joke we play on him, kind of like moving the furniture around on Helen Keller. Just about the time he gets used to a place and has figured out where his food and water bowl and the largest pieces of furniture are and he's just about quit running into the walls we pick up and move him again. Brand new hazards to figure out. I imagine if I were him, I'd sit in a dark room and refuse to move and whine all day. But he keeps on plugging and his tail keeps wagging. I'm not sure he knows he's blind. I think we forgot to tell him. Maybe I am a little bit like Stanley. I hope so. No matter how many times I hit the wall, I bounce back and just keep trying. And today my tail is wagging.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Day 5 of abstinence (alcohol abstinence in case you stumbled on this site by accident). At least I think it's Day 5. I'm not keeping track that strictly this time. If you've been to Day 5 as many times as I have you don't get real excited about it anymore. But still it's something to celebrate. It beats the hell out of the alternative. So here I go, "Woohoo, Day 5! High 5, Day 5!" Okay, 'nuff of that nonsense. Soberworld is just okay today. As you can tell I'm not giddy, but I'm not depressed either. I'm wary, worried and most of all weary. Probably because I was up at 5:30 am which was 4:30 am yesterday because yesterday I woke up on Mountain Time and this morning I woke up on Central Time. Plus I woke up several times last night and instantly panicked because I thought I wouldn't be able to get back to sleep but then I had to remind myself that I wasn't drinking and I hadn't drank in 5 days (see above) and I should be able to sleep fine. So I'm sitting here at this faux cherrywood desk in this oh-so-familiar hotel room and there is a 1.75 liter of Jack Daniels sitting right to the left of me over in the entertainment center. A month ago, hell a week ago during my vacation from hell, I would have poured me a little toot just to get the juices going. I thought about it this morning, but just for a millisecond because while driving from Mountain Time to Central Time yesterday we came upon a wreck on the side of the road. It didn't look bad. No broken glass. No desperate black tire marks. Just a person. On the side of the road. Lying down. Head and body completely covered with a tarp. Except for one foot with a gray sock on it. So I'm not going to have that rejuvenating toot this morning because I know I don't want to be drunk or hung-over when I die. I know a lot of people enter heaven in that state, I don't want to. I wonder if there is a holding tank at the "pearly gates" for us drunks. Does St. Peter have a breathalyzer or make you walk toe-to-toe before you get in. Maybe you have to quote obscure scripture passages. If so, I'm screwed even if I'm sober. I've always said, "I'm Catholic. We don't read the bible we just believe whatever the priests tell us."
So today I'm out there doing my best to find my sunny disposition and no, I don't think I'm going to die today but I'm abstaining and wearing clean underwear just in case. And saying a prayer for those on the side of the road.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Yesterday was stew in my own juices day. The rush of relief and joy that I had on Day 1 had given way to the usual recriminations. I kept thinking to myself, how many times have I done this, how many times have I told myself this was the last time, how many more times will I do this? I have no right to feel hopeful. Stew, stew, stew. Fester, fester, fester. Rot, rot, rot!
In the afternoon I decided to go for a walk up the mountain to get out of my funk but my funk decided to come along. About half way up the mountain, God decided to join in too. I guess he's never heard the bit about three's a crowd.
Me: "I'm walkin' here."
God: "Can't you ever leave your drinking behind?"
Me: "Whaddaya talkin' about? I'm not drinking. Although a cold beer sure sounds good."
God: " I mean your constant dwelling on it. Can't you just look around at all this and think how beautiful it is instead?
God: You've got tunnel vision. Just like the only part of you that you can see right now is your drinking. It's such a small part of you. Maybe that's been your problem. Instead of concentrating on your drinking why don't you start concentrating on the rest of you. It's time to move on. I command you! Think of something else!
Me: Nice try. Okay, okay. I'll try.
And I spent the rest of the day trying. I really did. But even last night as I was watching High Times At Ridgemont High I flashed back to a high school dance and me down on all fours puking my guts out on the shoes of a policeman ( I kid you not. You think he would step back.) and thought "Jesus! I'm a grandmother and still drinking 'til I puke. How pitiful is that?" Did I really think after 30+ years I was going to be able to do this? Who was I kidding?
And then I thought, "What is my other option? Stop trying? It's Day 2 again for me, but you know what? One of these Day 2's is going to be my last Day 2. This could be it.
So I declared today "Act Like A Normal Person Day" I gave myself the day off from dwelling on my drinking past and worrying about my future drinking. It's quite liberating. Maybe everyday will become "Act Like A Normal Person Day". I hope so. God, I hope so.
"Are you listening?"
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Yikes, I thought I had posted that I had fallen and hard. See that's how bad it was, it's a complete blur. Day 18 and I thought what the heck I'll have one and I'll just moderate. Kerpow! The proverbial snowball. From that first drink I start trying to drink myself back to "normal" which means I have to drink just to function until I can't function anymore and then the weaning process starts. Luckily, I did well weaning myself off (it was still utter hell) but today, a new Day One for me was easy and such a relief. I took a hike up my mountain this morning (4 days ago I could barely get up the stairs.). The sun was shining, the aspens are turning and I set down by the creek for a minute just to think. And I burst into tears. I don't see another Day One as a failure, I'm just so f'ing happy and relieved I made it back. I kind of knew when I started this 30 that it was a bad time for me because of this trip coming up but now I have a new resolve and about 60 days in front of me that I get to practically be a hermit. Life is good today!
I will post about the Vacation to Hell next week when I have more time to write. I feel lucky to be alive.
Monday, August 30, 2010
Sobriety is not likely to give us the equivalent of the euphoria we got from drinking, but a great sense of well-being based on realistic expectations is more satisfying than the ridiculous mental states we sought in drinking. Living the right kind of life will bring its own rewards. ~Walk in Dry Places
I borrowed this from an especially wonderful blog that I have been lurking on for years, Attitude of Gratitude. At times it, and other blogs, have been my salvation in my "lone" quest for sobriety.
Today is day 15 of abstinence for me. I haven't felt that euphoric rush that I've experienced in my other recovery attempts. Maybe I've become disillusioned. Maybe I've become realistic that this is not that easy or simple. A few days of sobriety does not a lifetime make. So I'll celebrate my halfway mark with some trepidation and keep watching my step.
I was watching a Katrina 5 year anniversary report on the news the other night and they were interviewing a priest whose church had been destroyed in the hurricane. It had been quite a struggle to rebuild the church and it still had a ways to go. The priest said, "If you look at the progress on a daily basis it can seem overwhelmingly futile. But if you look back on a few days, a week, a month and see how much you have accomplished, then you recognize your accomplishment." That rings so true in my reconstruction project on myself. On a day to day basis a walk, a bed made, a meal cooked, a telephone call made, an apology offered doesn't seem like much but multiply that by 15 and it seems like quite an endeavor for me, especially compared to the past. Even more remarkable is the register of the things I didn't do. No hangovers, no sleepless nights, no drunken phone calls, no bodily injuries, no burned bridges, no lost memories. I can still experience euphoria and the good thing is won't be drowned in recrimination the next day.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
First off let me say I came this close (fingers spread about a micron apart) to drinking last night. I was just being a bitch all day and I didn't like myself. The poor cap'n couldn't say or do one thing right the whole day and I almost had a drink just so I'd be nicer to him. I'm not sure what held me back but I think it was a combination of things. First I have this ridiculous belief that God and I have some weird barter system set up that if I continue to be "good" he will reward me. I know that this is not how it works and God loves me no matter if I have a drink or not but I like to hedge my bets. You see, along with being an alcoholic I am a recovering Catholic and still suffer the lingering effects of a parochial childhood. Because of this I am also "cursed" with unwavering honesty (boy, has that got me in trouble a time or two). So I made a vow on this blog to be honest and I really wanted to have that drink or two last night and then not tell about it but what would be the point? I'd still know I had that drink and this blog would become some fairytale and there are enough of those out there. The final thing that kept me from having that drink last night was that I partnered up with a fellow 30 day abstainer on the moderation board and I didn't want to let him down, plus….I still want to see what happens…After all tonight is the lottery and if I continue to be good….who knows.
So a very short synopsis of me. I started drinking when I was 14 to fit in like everyone else. I became the party girl of our little town in the Midwest but that was short lived because I also became pregnant. Knocked-up and married at 18 but still managed to go to college and become an LPN by the age of 20. Drinking only on the weekends during this period but man, did I look forward to the weekends. An unhappy marriage, and a traumatic initiation into the concept that really bad things can happen to good people didn't help. By the age of 27 I had three sons. One is a nephew who we adopted after his mother, two siblings, and grandmother (my sister-in-law, niece and nephew, and mother-in-law) were killed in a fire. And, no, that was not my traumatic initiation, it was worse. At 30 I began an affair with a man that I had been in love with for 10 years (I'm not sure where I stowed my honesty at that time), resulting in a very ugly divorce and more scars than the battlefield of Antietam amongst the participants and our innocent victims. More guilt, more drinking. One happy note, my cohort in the affair and I married and are still married and very much in love 18 years later. The blended family adolescent years followed and I wouldn't wish that on anyone, more drinking. Then the cap'n and I bought a sailboat and sailed off to paradise, except there wasn't much to do in paradise. You can get pretty tired of snorkeling after 12 years so I drank. I grew to hate the boat, the lifestyle, and me. We went for a visit to Mexico for a change of scenery, fell in love with a casa on the beach in an pitifully poor, pitifully ugly little fishing village, put the boat up for sale, bought the house and swore that this would be the beginning of a new life for us. A life in which alcohol is not the main component. And now I split my time between my little A-frame in Colorado and Mexico. When we bought the house in Mexico I made a vow that the first thing that people in Mexico thought of when they thought of me would not be "drunk" or "party girl". My drinking would no longer be my defining trait. I'm working really hard on that. As always I'm doing the best I can.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Yesterday was an icky day. Not good. Not bad. Not fun. When you are in the bondage of drunkenness and hangovers sobriety seems like some kind of utopia, always shiny and bright. I'm here to tell you it aint so. Sometimes it's icky and dirty and stinky and worst of all boring. And you can't even have a drink to pretty it up. It's kind of like a really bad date that never ends.
"Yesterday:"( bellying up to the bar) "I don't think I've seen you around here before."
Me: "Oh, you've probably seen me you just don't recognize me. You probably saw me when I was smiling or laughing uproariously and loudly. I might even have had booze shooting out my nostrils I was laughing so hard."
Yesterday: "Oh yeah! I remember you. Aren't you the one that always got everybody out on the floor dancing?"
Me: " That was me! Remember when I used to talk all the girls into getting up on the bar and dancing?"
Yesterday: " I do. Remember that one Super Bowl when you and the gang climbed up on the bar and mooned everybody?"
Me: "Yeah, I remember that. But I was too drunk to get up on the bar so I just lifted up my shirt and showed my tits."
Yesterday: "Ah yes. The Sag Sisters, Flopsy and Droopsy. How could I forget?" You were sure proud of those two."
Me, sighing and nodding: " Good times. I did use to have fun, didn't I?"
The door of the bar swings open and someone walks in.
Me: "Oh shit! Don't look!" (I put up my hand to shield my face)
Yesterday: "Who is it?"
Me, whispering: "It's Tomorrow. She's a bitch."
Yesterday: "She looks nice enough. Kind of shiny and bright."
Me: "You don't know her like I do. She makes me sick."
Yesterday: "Well, don't look now but she's coming our way."
There's a tap on my shoulder. I cringe
Tomorrow(chirping annoyingly): "You can't hide from me. I found you."
I spun around on my barstool.
Me: "Wow! Tomorrow, you look different! Did you cut your hair? Lose weight? I barely recognize you."
Tomorrow: "Thanks. Hey, you want to get together sometime and do something besides moan and puke for a change? I can be really nice if you'll let me."
Monday, August 23, 2010
I tore off my old dead toenail tonight. You remember, the one I killed in my water ballet incident. As I gave it Last Rites, right before I flushed it down the toilet, I vowed that all future amputations, fractures, lacerations, concussions and pregnancies will be committed in complete unadulterated sobriety. I pray. Now the pregnancy, that would be a real miracle. A simply horrible one.
Day 9 of abstinence is also down the proverbial toilet. Bring on Day 10. That's the best I can do.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Last night I looked out from my bedroom window and watched as the full moon silvered the forest while its creatures skittered and fluttered in their moonlit world.
This morning dawn's pearl light painted the wall of the cabin as I watched the sun come to the mountain and gild the tips of the pine trees with gold.
Later I will walk the mountain roads as that sun warms my shoulders and my heart will celebrate these simple, wonderful miracles.
All mine because I am sober.
Another simple, wonderful miracle.
Sappy, huh? That's okay. I'm feeling kind of sappy this morning, it sure beats the hell out of feeling nauseous.
I didn't win the lottery. But that's okay, too. Gawd! Wouldn't it be awful to be hangover when you won the lottery? Just another reason to stay sober.
Gonna go do the best I can, and today that's pretty damn good!
Friday, August 20, 2010
Congratulations to me! I've made it to Day 6. I'm not going to get too excited because, as they say, I've been here before but still it's good to be here. I have a confession to make. I'm sneaking around behind the capn's back. I haven't told him about this blog yet. Heck I used to sneak around when I was just writing in a journal. It's not that he would be mad or stop me from doing this because, as he likes to say, I'm gonna do it anyway. But he wouldn't be 100% supportive either. Not yet. He'd be concerned. He'd be a little afraid of who he's gonna end up in bed with when this journey is done (of course, he's also skeptical, with good cause, that I'll even complete the journey). It could be a stranger. It could be somebody he doesn't like. I'm a little afraid, too. But I already know I don't like who I am right now and I want to finally reacquaint myself with the real Kary May. I want other people to get to know her too. People have such a one dimensional view of drunks. You're a drunk, that's all they seem to see. They can't see around that image to see the rest of you. I'll admit,I didn't mind pointing my own finger at someone and labeling them as nothing but a drunk, not giving them any other worth until I saw all the fingers that were pointing at me. I am more than a drunk. I always have been. Now it's time for me and everybody else to discover how much more I am. I'm pretty sure the cap'n will still love me.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
As my dog would say yesterday was "ruff"! Shitty in more ways than one. I live at 10,600 feet and just returned home from working in the flatlands on Monday. Usually by day 5 or 6 after returning home I am so sick I think I'm dying. I've alway attributed this to my celebratory over drinking. But now I know there is a altitude component involved too and the drinking sure didn't help matters. So I was sick as a dog yesterday and then in the evening I received news that an old drinking "biddy" of mine had died. I admit it I poured a glass of red wine, stared at it, took a couple of sips and then threw it down the drain. Please don't throw me off the abstinence bus because of that digression, it wasn't worth it. Still feelling crappy In my drinking days I would have got up during the night and had a bottle wine to help me get to sleep and I'd be having a little bourbon in my Mountain Dew this morning just to make me feel "better". Most people have this misconception that drunks are drinking to get drunk, hell, most the time I was just drinking to get "normal". Day 5 here I come.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
You probably think I fell off the wagon and am stuck in the muddy ruts somewhere. I'm not yesterday was Day 3 of my abstinence and it was glorious. There were not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything I wanted to get done. So much better than laying on the couch in the throes of a vicious hangover counting down the hours until I can go back to bed and try to go back to sleep. Today is Day 4 and it's what I like to call a molten lava sh%* day. I always like to imagine that my cells are ridding themselves of all the poisons I've forced on them and are finally able to take a deep breath of fresh, clean air. I wish my memory cells would do the same. Seems that I'm spending the day rehashing everything that I've ever done wrong, every embarrassing moment….I wrote this in my journal on one of these days in one of my previous recoveries…
In my transient lifestyle, I found myself wandering the paths of another park. This one was not littered with the refuse of humanity but that was okay because I was feeling pretty bottom of the proverbial garbage pail about myself. It was one of those weeks when I had found myself to be embarrassingly human and even though the bruises weren't readily observable to the human eye, I was feeling pretty tender from the ongoing onslaught I was inflicting on myself.
The cap'n kept trying to reassure me that I was a good person, a nice person, a kind person but….he has to say that because he loves me and he was desperate because it ain't fun living with me when I am in this state of mind. So I didn't believe him.
So I'm on this path early one morning and I see an elderly gentleman ambling toward me. He has the rolling gait and the vacant stare of a Parkinson's patient. I am really in no mood for any kind of encounter but my good manners kick in and I smile and say, "Good Morning."
The man's vacant eyes light up, and he says, "Not everyone is friendly. I just passed a couple and said Good Morning and they didn't say anything back." He says, "I speak to everyone."
I go a few more steps down the path and dissolve into tears. I know that man was God.
P.S. Please don't write and tell me I'm a good person, that's not the point of this little article. Instead I challenge you to stop yourself today every time you tell yourself that you're stupid, fat, ugly, weak…..You're human and you're doing the best you can!
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Alright, I lied again. I said I wouldn't be blogging this weekend but it seems my co-writer has other plans. I thought he was the one that made that rule about not working on Sundays. I guess not. He also has other ideas about how to handle this blog. I was content to sit here and blog away and have no readers and I guess no commitment. Kind of like I was doing in that stack of journals that I've been collecting for the last several years. That way if/ when I fail nobody is there to witness my downfall. But noooooo… he decided I need to "share" so I started searching for moderation forums and I found one, moderation.org, and I joined, and I posted, and I committed to 30 days of abstinence.
So, I'm starting on a journey today. I've started down this path before but something always draws me back. The fear of the unknown? The comfort of the familiar? Probably a little of both. This time I really want to make it to my destination. I have no road map, just a path I must stay on. I know there will be mountains and valleys. I know there will be potholes and times that I will want to detour and take an easier route but if I veer from the path I could become lost and it could take me a long time to find the path again.
I'm traveling light. I'm leaving all the excess baggage behind. It costs me too dearly and slows me down. Sometimes the idea of packing it up and taking it with me keeps me from taking the journey at all. All I'm taking with me is a comfortable pair of shoes and hope. That's all I need for now. I'll pick up anything else I need on the road.
My shoes are laced, and I've got some extra hope in my backpack and I'm hitting the road. Wish me well. I'll write. Gonna do my best to get to where I'm going.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
I won't be blogging on Sats and Suns. I have another blog I have to write or I'll never hear the end of it. I will tell you I'm hungover this morning. (I told you I wouldn't lie.) I drank a bottle of wine last night. I don't know why. Used to that wouldn't even affect me but I must be becoming a lightweight and that's a good thing. The hangover isn't going to make it into the Hangover Hall of Shame but it's just bad enough to piss me off and remind me why I don't want to have them anymore. I swear I'll do the best I can today. See you Monday.
Friday, August 13, 2010
"We cannot change the past, but we can change our attitude toward it. Uproot guilt and plant forgiveness. Tear out arrogance and seed humility. Exchange love for hate --- thereby, making the present comfortable and the future promising." ~Maya Angelou
I dreamt I watched the Perseids meteor shower last night. It was so real that I actually had to convince myself this morning that I didn't get up in the middle of the night and go outside to watch it. That's another thing I sacrificed to my years of drunken slumber, all those fantastical dreams. All those nights I could have spent in George Clooney's arms in Dreamland wasted. (sigh!)
Started out my walk this morning with a positive attitude (relax, it stayed that way). I decided to imagine myself as I would like to be. I pictured a slender woman with flowing silver hair dressed in a gauzy cotton, brilliantly embroidered peasant blouse and long skirt. Tan bare feet with a beautiful pedicure and a little silver toe ring on the little toe of my right foot. I'm sitting at a ornate wrought iron table on the shady veranda of my casa in Mexico. And I'm busy writing the follow-up to my number one bestseller.
Now here's the real me. A generously proportioned woman with sweaty artificially enhanced blonde hair pulled back in a haphazard ponytail with smudges of yesterday's mascara under her eyes. She's dressed in one of the capn's (the husband. We lived on a sailboat for 12 years. 12 very long years) old t-shirts with a fraying collar and a pair of Walmart shorts that have a hole worn in the seat. The toenail of her big toe on the right foot is black and the other toes look just about as bad. She's sitting at a faux cherrywood laminated desk in a Best Western hotel in central Kansas typing out a blog about alcoholism.
Obviously, I've got a good imagination. But one thing I know. I can become that other woman if I really want to. There is nothing impossible about that. Well, maybe the bestseller is out of my hands but I can write a book and try. Here's another thing I know. I will never achieve that if I continue to drink the way I have. I may have an okay life but I will never have everything that is within my grasp is I don't let go of that bottle and its grip on me.
I think it was on a Day 7 during one of my other recovery attempts, I was out walking (Surpise! Hey, at least I wasn't stumbling, or even worse, tumbling) and I was getting to the end of my walk. I don't know if the sun was shining just right or there was a certain smell in the air (so many triggers out there) but I really wanted a glass of wine waiting for me when I got home. So for the last few blocks there was this argument going on in my head, "I'll just have one glass of wine" and "No, you can't have any wine." Back and forth. Back and forth. Finally I stopped and said, "Okay God, I'm shutting up and handing this over to you." I silenced the argument in my head and just quit thinking about it. I walked a few steps and God said, "Don't you want to see what happens?" It stopped me in my tracks. I could see my future pretty clearly if I continued to drink, it looked exactly like my past. But I had no idea what my future would be if I didn't drink. That route hadn't been programmed in yet. I did want to see different scenery. I did want to see where that road ended up.
Did I fail? Yes. But I got a little further down the road. I could almost see what was around the next curve and it made me want to try it again. I haven't reversed all the way back to the starting point and that's a good thing. 2 steps forward and one step back.
As you know, I'm letting myself have that glass or two of wine now. It seems to be working out. I've been doing a pretty good imitation of a normal person. Several nights I've actually dumped the second glass out. I'm drinking red which I don't like so I sip it. Only another alcoholic would understand why you drink something you don't like just so you'll drink slower just so you still get to drink even though you have no intention of getting drunk. Makes perfect sense to me. Hey, I'm trying the best I can and I know you are too.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
I just got back from my morning ramble. The area our hotel is in has a lot of old stately homes and I love to walk past them and people them with happy families. The homes are about 100 years old and I imagine how proud and excited their original owners must have been when they moved into their dream homes. I imagine the table set for Thanksgiving in the formal dining and I can see the Christmas tree in the parlor and the wreath on the door. Such a loved and well taken care of home.
And then right smack dab in the middle of the block will be one that has been forgotten. Neglected. You can see that it once was lovely but now the weeds sprout through the cracks in the sidewalk and the paint peels. It's off kilter windows are so dull with dirt and grime that sunlight barely filters in. I always wonder how someone could let such a beautiful home get in this state. Where are its happy people?
I imagine it happens insidiously at first. A few dandelions go unnoticed. There isn't enough time or money for paint this year. It snowballs. Upkeep becomes daunting and the repairs overwhelming until the very foundation of the once treasured home starts to rot and crumble. The happy family thinks the house is hopeless and walks away. Soon someone comes in and declares that the house is no longer safe for habitation and it is condemned. It will be torn down and forgotten except for wispy memories of laughter around the Christmas tree, the smell of turkey wafting upstairs from the kitchen on a Thanksgiving morning.
Unless. Unless someone sees that under all those layers of neglect is still something beautiful. Something worth saving. First we'll have to rid the house of the pestilence that is eating away its foundation and the foundation itself will have to be replaced with stronger, hardier stuff that can better weather the attacks that will be inflicted on it. It will be stronger than it ever was. Next we need to tear down some walls to make its spaces more welcoming and comforting to its inhabitants. Finally, we'll paint it with bright colors and plant beautiful plants so we can show the world that we are proud of this house and it is loved, once again. It'll be hard work, sometimes it will seem insurmountable, but it'll be worth it.
I am that house.
Out doing the best I can today.
P.S. I've said that I believe in most if not all the beliefs that AA professes. My favorite belief is that if you get "better" the miracles will start happening. I totally believe this. One of these days I'll explain my relationship with God but anyway my writing this blog was kind of a bargain with him. I live in a poor village in Mexico for part of the year and I have become very involved in a Christmas Toy Drive down there. I have started an online raffle to raise money for the drive but it has been difficult getting prizes donated. Since I have started this blog the donors for prizes have been coming out of the woodwork. This morning I really didn't want to sit down and write this so I was wasting time on the computer as usual and there in my email was a major prize donation. So I got the message. Thanks, God.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Let's just get this out of the way because if I ever do get any readers it is sure to come up. I think AA is a wonderful organization. I believe most if not all of its beliefs. It has saved millions of people including my brother and several of my friends. So why not me? I don't do well with organized activities. I'm not good at you have to be here at this time, this many times a week, and you have to do these things in this order. If you could see my thighs, you'd know how well my organized Pilates class worked out for me. Does that mean I'm not committed to my recovery? I don't think so. I've just always done better doing things my way in my own time. A member of AA might say that I'm not ready to admit that I have no control over my drinking. And they might be right. But they could be wrong, too.
I've written other blogs and I know one of the ways to get your word "out" is to start doing the message board/forum circuit and casually mention that you have just written about yada yada yada on your blog or to add you website to your signature on your posts. Pretty soon the hits start coming. So I went to one of these boards yesterday to lurk. It scared the hell out of me. I'm doomed! Not because I don't believe what they are saying or that I don't think the "steps" are important. I believe! I believe! But I'd fail because I hate meetings.
Let me try to explain my problems with an illustration. Years ago I was the head of a department at a college (you can substitute any organization here because it happens in them all). We were required to attend a number of meetings a week. My program was a new program that I was developing and I had a lot of work to do and when I could have been accomplishing something I was stuck in meetings. Some people love meetings (I guess they have all their work done). In the years I was there we rehashed the same issues over and over and over…you get my drift. While I was looking at my watch the meeting lovers were arguing their understanding of the issue and how things should be done. If one capitulated I would think I was home free but then the other one would say, "You know you might have been right." And then they would switch sides.
I want to find a solution and act on it even if it's wrong, not talk it to death. When I worked at the college I had a secretary. She had the easiest job in the world. I never gave her anything to do. I figured by the time I explained what I needed her to do, I could do it myself and it would get done the way I wanted it. Hell, if I joined AA, I'd probably try to rewrite Bill's Book in the first month. "Can I get a vote on a color change here? Don't you think blue is so last year?"
Anyway I digress (I usually do), but you can substitute any organization in the previous scenario. Including AA. I lurk on several alcoholics blogs and you hear it on all of them. Squabbles and disagreement at AA meetings between the people that already have their "work" done. Not about the message but about the interpretation or the way to deliver it.
Another problem I have with some recovery programs is their "Our Way is the only True Way to Salvation" attitude. I am a nurse and just like there should be no "cookie cutter" medicine, there should be no cookie cutter recovery. The other day I was reading an article about Anthony Bourdain, the chef, and after the article there was an area for comments so the same 7 people that have nothing better to do with their time can tell us how they feel on everything from genocide in Darfur to the state of Lindsay Lohans hair extensions. And of course, I have nothing better to do with my time but read what these enlightened few have to say. Anyway one of the anointed 7 said that he had read that Bourdain, a recovering heroin addict, sometimes drinks at special events. This soothsayer went on to predict a swift and fiery downhill slide for Bourdain because he, the commenter, had himself gone through a 12 step program and he knew that this was the fate of any recovered addict that takes a drink. Who says? Where did that blanket belief come from? Bourdain was a heroin addict. Do I believe that for some people that one drink might be the trigger that hurls them back into addiction and alcoholism? Sure! I think I might be one of them. But I'm not going to make a sweeping judgment and a one-for-all verdict for everybody. Speaking of Lindsay Lohan, in the middle of her jail debacle, an addiction physician made the comment on the Today Show that maybe it's time to step away from the total abstinence thing and start teaching other behavior modifications because, obviously, for some people the total abstinence thing isn't working. She got shushed pretty quickly. But maybe….she's right.
My point after all this is, there are a lot of us out there that are not cut out for the AA ride. That doesn't mean we are hopeless. That doesn't mean we don't want it bad enough. That doesn't mean we're doomed. It just means we haven't found "our" ticket out yet. And we're doing the best we can today.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
The cap'n and I often travel for his work and today I am in Kansas, not far from where I lived most of my life and actually in the small town where my dad grew up. I dropped the cap'n off early at work and came back to the hotel room and donned my tennis shoes and went out for a meander. No high school tracks or power walking for me. I like to ramble aimlessly through neighborhoods watching people go about their early morning tasks, sweeping their porches, taking their trash cans down to the curb. The kids are jumping on their bikes trying to squeeze out every drop of these last days of summer. I love the tick, tick, tick of the sprinkler as it anoints the glistening grass. As I walk on I feel a tightness in my chest, an ache in my throat. I am grieving. I've lost so many of these mornings and I want them all back. But I'll never get them back. They were stolen from me. Booze was the thief. But I was the one that left all the windows and doors unlocked and let him in. He stole my sun dappled mornings and still winter nights. He robbed me of giggles and tear sprouting belly laughs, wrenching sobs. What he didn't steal out right he dulled, tinged, lessened, depleted. Alcohol has my past, God please help me guard my future.
Monday, August 9, 2010
It’s been over a week now and I’m still haranguing myself and I’m black and blue all over although it’s not visible to the human eye (except for the aforementioned toe). I finally quit yelling at myself and said, “Okay God, I’ll shut up and listen now.”
Yes, I talk to God. And he talks back. Swear to God! I don’t want to get too heavy on the “God” thing right now but he insists on being a co-author. I don’t really care if you believe or not or what you believe in. He doesn’t either. That’s not what this blog is about. I just have to make me shut up long enough to listen.
“Forgive unto yourself as you forgive unto others.” (See, I know that’s God because I don’t use the word “unto” a whole lot)
“Dude, (I’ve had my 6 yr. old grandson for two weeks) that’s not how it goes,” I replied.
“Who says?” says God. “The point is, if your brother had done the same thing, would you forgive him?”
“My brother doesn’t drink.”
“You get my point!”
(I think he was gritting his teeth)
“You promised you’d start the blog”
“I want to wait until I have a success story,” I whined. See God and I had been talking about me doing this blog for years but I kept putting it off. I had kept a journal of my many attempts at prolonged sobriety but I kept waiting for those milestones. I thought l’d wait until I was sober for a year to start a blog so I could be an example for others. Hasn’t happened yet. 100 days? Hasn’t happened yet. 28 days? Nope.
I haven’t even been sober one day if you prescribe to the popular theory that an alcoholic has to quit drinking completely in order to gain sobriety. But never mind that, that’s not what this blog is about either apparently according to my co-author.
“There are plenty of success stories out there for people to read,” God said. (That made me feel a lot better.) I need someone to write about what it’s like to want it so bad but still fail…
“You can count on me for that,” I said drolly.
“…so they won’t feel alone.” God finished.
“You know, this could make a great book like Eat, Pray, Love except we could name it Drink, Detox, Live”
“No, book deals, Kary”
“No, movie deals, Kary”
“It wouldn’t have to be Julia Roberts that played me. It could be a lesser actress. Someone like Lindsay Lohan.”
“Lindsay’s just a kid. She doesn’t have your baggage.”
“So you’re saying there could be a movie?”
So here’s the blog per request of God. No success story, no advice, just my experience.
What’s its purpose? I’m not really sure. I guess one purpose is for me to succeed in reaching my idea of acceptable sobriety. As I’ve said I’ve tried journaling in the past, it hasn’t worked. I guess I, oops I mean “we” (should I capitalize “we” if God is included?) thought if I put this out there for public consumption it might give me more impetus and if I hear from others more support to help me reach my goal and maybe it will help others along the way. If I want support from outsiders why don’t I try AA or rehab? I have my reasons that I am not ready for those options yet, although a month ago there was a day that if I could have found someone to take care of my dog I think I would have checked myself in. They are both lifesaving options but I’m not ready for them yet.
There are several purposes this blog is not the purpose of. It is not here to judge, preach, criticize, or promote one form of recovery over another. I would love to hear from others going through what I am but please don’t shove your form of salvation down my throat. Believe me, if I haven’t tried it, I’ve at least considered it. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear about “your” experience with it.
What is “acceptable sobriety” for me? I’m trying to figure that out, too. I guess I’m following a form of moderation right now, allowing myself to have 2 glasses of red wine a day. I know, I know the American Heart Association says only 1 glass for women. I’ve tried total abstinence and I’m very familiar with the first week, somewhat familiar with the second week but after that it’s back under the old wagon wheels for me so I’m giving this a try. Oh, and yeah, I’ve tried this before, too. The only difference this time is that I have you, my loyal readers along with me. That is if I get any readers. I guess I may have to do it for any future loyal readers I may have.
At times it may seem that I am taking all this too lightly, believe me I’ve had too many nights lying in bed with my heart pounding so loudly that I couldn’t sleep, praying that it would stop and praying that it wouldn’t stop, swearing I would never put myself through this again to take it lightly. It’s just that self-deprecation is a lot easier to read than self-pity. Oh yeah, no book deals.
I can only make two promises: I won’t lie and I won’t give up.