Thursday, September 30, 2010

Chain, Chain, Chain. Chain of Fools

Today I'm thankful for a wonderful husband that goes to work while I get to sit her and talk to you guys (all two of you) and that some chains are real and real strong.
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

Joe’s Place

Day 14: Today I'm thankful for good memories and a hot cup of orange spiced tea.
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

A Change Will Do You Good

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

To Hell And Back

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

If The Drinkin’ Don’t Killer Her, The Worryin’ Will

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.



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

Eternal Springs

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

Clean Underwear Day

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

Act Like A Normal Person Day

Today I am grateful that it is a perfectly normal day.

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?

Me: Uh-huh
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

Back From the Vacation To Hell

Three Things I have to be grateful for today: I'm back in CO, the aspens are turning, and I am back to being sober.

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.