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!