Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Things We Do For Love

Day 26 of abstaining

It was 6:30 Friday morning and I was at my usual park for my morning gambol. My head was bent and my eyes are darting back and forth and I’m stopping to study every mud puddle I come across. I am steadfast in my pursuit. Finger to my lips, “Be vewy, vewy quiet. Because I’m out hunting. I’m not hunting wabbit, though, I’m hunting those bug-eyed, slimy, wart-pissin’ creatures we call frogs.” Why? Because my grandson wants one, that’s why. Nuff said.

Every summer during my “tween” years my dad would organize a frog hunt. It was a boys only expedition that consisted of a half dozen of my dad’s friends, theirs sons, and a couple of our home town minor league baseball players that stayed with us during the summer. They would head out on a Friday evening in a caravan of a couple of cars and Tommy Hines pickup camper loaded down with kids, and frog gigs and coolers full of pop and beer and a few of my dad’s bottles of homebrew thrown in. They’d return in the wee hours of the morning with the adults sporting hangovers, Tommy’s pickup camper sporting inexplicable dents in the side, and at least one kid sporting a gigged foot. As I look back, I wonder why I was always jealous of my brothers who got to go. A few days later we would have a big frog leg fry in our backyard, the mothers would load our picnic table down with potato salad, deviled eggs and chocolate cake, the dads would drink beer and we kids would run wild, relishing the rare furlough from our parents’ watchful eyes. I loved those nights. They are one of the treasured memories of my childhood. Unfortunately, while for my parents and their friends those nights were a once a summer special celebration, as an adult I tried to replay those good times on a nightly basis until they were anything but special.

But back to my own amphibian quest. You see, I love my grandson beyond measure and would do just about anything in my power to make him happy even if that included carrying a squirming, sticky-slick creature across the park to where he was conducting his own search. That’s always been the case, or so I tell myself, but then I remember last summer. There was a recent post on the mmlist from a father who had left his 2 yr. old daughter alone asleep at his home while he ran down the street to the convenience store to get some beer….again. His first post to the list was several months ago and it detailed the exact same scenario, his wife found out that he had left his daughter alone and he was in deep shit and was feeling like shit. Well, it was déjà vu all over again. Here is my response to him.

I thought someone resurrected your old post when I read this for the first time. Oh JC, I have to admit I was disgusted when I read you left your daughter again, I thought, "Doesnt' he know what could happen in five minutes?" I know you do know what could happen but that damn lizard convinced you that it was more important than your daughter, that old lizard whispered, "Nothing bad will happen." I tend to get very judgmental when I have a few sober days under my belt which explains my knee jerk reaction to your post, then I remembered about a year ago when I had my 6 yr. old grandson to myself up at my cabin. I thought he would be a great incentive to keep me sober. Yeah, right. It started out okay. I had a few cocktails the first night and we roasted hot dogs and marshmallows and told ghost stories. The next day we fished out of the stream, Grandma was a little hungover so she nursed wine all day. By the third day Grandma was wasted and by the fourth day I was sick and suffering those lovely palpitations wondering if my six year old grandson would know how to call 911 and tell emergency crews how to get to us. Nothing "bad" happened that week either but it damn sure could have and if it had I would have I'd never be able to live with myself. My grandson is staying with me again right now and I will not be drinking, last years visit taught me that my grandson means too much to me to throw him into the pot when I'm gambling with the lizard.

I didn’t receive a response from JC but I did receive several pm’s from people thanking me for posting my response. One was even from another grandmother who had made the decision to join Moderation Management after an incident when she passed out while babysitting her granddaughter. She had put the child down for a nap and woke up to the baby red-eyed and crying, the grandmother had no idea how long the child had been awake. I posted another post to JC.


I don't know if you are still reading the posts on this lists but I wanted you to know that I have received several private messages in response to my post. You are not the only one that has screwed up and put people you love at risk. You have been given the opportunity to change your actions now before there is any damaging memories for your daughter, your wife or you to live with. My grandfather was a mean drunk Kraut and I remember my mother telling me of a time he chased her and my grandmother with a knife. They had to hide from him in a shed. That is the memory that stuck with me as a young girl and I lived in fear of that man. A few years ago one of my mother's cousins told me another story of how my grandfather had stayed up all night rocking a very ill child of one of his relatives, I'm sure that was my "real" grandfather but I never got to know him because the "real" him was overshadowed by the monster that overpowered him when he drank. I want the people I love to be able to remember the "real" me.

So today I’m out there doing my best to keep it “real” and thanking God that my oldest son, the much idolized “Uncle Josh” has arrived to r

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Day 22

The grandson is visiting for the next 10 days so blogging may be hit and miss, he thinks grandma should be swimming or fishing or frog hunting instead. One thing she will not be doing is drinking.

So today I out there doing my best to not act like a girl when he wants me to hold a frog or get a fish off the hook.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Whatever Works

Day 21 of abs.

I'm really busy today, busy itching.  I have been spending most of the last month in a hotel room and other than a couple of weekends at home we have been in the same hotel and the same room.  I noticed the first week that I stayed here that I developed some really itchy bites but I was in the throes of a vicious HO and withdrawl and had other maladies that required more of my attention.  I just thought they had some high testosterone mosquitos up here.  The next couple of weeks I might have noticed a few bites but they were small nuisances.  This week I have bites all over my torso and they don't go away in a couple of days like mosquito bits they just get worse.  They get hard and even more itchy.  I peeled back the sheets on the bed this morning, I had done this before and found nada, but this morning paydirt. You guessed it. Bedbugs! Two of the little suckers.  They don't look like the pictures I googled but they're bugs and they're in my bed and I'm itching like crazy.  On a better note I did find a great antedote for the itchy bites.  Yesterday I was scratching myself to death and didn't have a car and was wondering what I had in my toiletrie bag that would relieve the itching and painful swelling.  Hmmm. Ah-ha! Hemorrhoid cream! (Hey even though I'm not drinking life can still be a pain in the ass sometimes and I travel prepared.)  It worked like a dream.  Okay I know you're thinking "Ewww!" But hey, whatever works. 

So today I'm out there doing my best not to scratch where it itches no matter how much I want to.

Oh, the trials of life in soberland.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant. ~Author Unknown

Day 20 of abs. This is usually about the time that just one won't hurt me but I still feel pretty strong. I'll get by with a little help from my friends.

I'm sorry I didn't blog yesterday but the cap'n had the day off and that always throws a kink in my schedule. For a long time he didn't know about this blog but he does now. He doesn't want to know about it but he does.

The bugs are so bad here right now that this morning I decided to bypass the parks where I can't open my mouth without taking in a mouthful of gnats and take my walk in a residential area. I love to look at the houses and their lawns and flowerbeds and try to decide what kind of people live there. I can be very judgmental. The loyal and patriotic are pretty obvious with their stars and stripes bunting hung from their porch and their red, white and purple (that's as close as you can get to blue) petunias in their window boxes and the bronze eagles on their mailboxes. They're a little too fervent for my taste and I hurry by before the owner can bustle out and invite me to the next Tea Party rally. I smelled a "cat lady" (How come there are no cat men?) from a half of a block away today and sure enough as I got to her house there were cats in every window and staring down from the branches of the trees. I'm not kidding, you could smell cat a half of a block away. I'm not a cat person. I find them menacing and arrogant and a little alien-like and that house just goes to show how much power they can wield over a person. But let's march onward. Here's a house that boast precision down to every little blade of manicured grass. Their fresh wood chip covered beds hold perpetually trimmed evergreens and there's not a weed to be found. The only flowers are geraniums in two planters flanking the front door. This is obviously the work of a landscaper, the homeowners are probably too busy or just don't have the inclination to get their hands dirty. I don't like them, they seem too in control and lacking in personality, but that's okay because they probably wouldn't like me either. I do have to admit I went by another house like this one this morning and had the same reaction until I spotted a tree swing with a wide plank seat hanging from a tree branch right in their front yard for everybody to see. I decided I already liked these people a lot. Let's move on. Here's a two story white house with pink shutters and pink everything else. There is a pink rose wreath on the door and a wrought iron garden set painted pink. Pink hollyhocks spring up around all sides of the house. This town has more hollyhocks then I've ever seen in one town. It must be a town law that every house has to have hollyhocks, which isn't a bad idea at all. The residents also seem to have a penchant for those old bicycles with the balloon tires, wide seats and a basket attached to the upright handlebars. They don't ride them, they use them as yard ornaments. I've seen at least five yards with these in them and the pink house has a pink one propped up against the front of the house among the pink hollyhocks. I saw the owner out one morning and she had on a pink tee shirt and pink leggings and she was bent over like those corny wooden cut outs that were so popular a few years ago (at least they were in the down home towns I frequent) where all you see is the woman's behind while her farmer husband is standing next to her copping a feel. Anyway she was bent over in her pink leggings watering her pink hollyhocks with, you guessed it, a pink watering can. I'd bet if I could have seen her hair it would have been pink too. I'm sure she is one of those always jolly ladies that's always baking cookies or crocheting Kleenex box covers for her neighbors but I'm going to avoid her like the plague if I see her in the grocery store.

Ah, finally we're getting to my favorite one. It's a small white cottage with a peaked roof and a wide porch with a porch swing and a wicker rocker out front. There's a bicycle here too but instead of being propped up for show it is laying where some kid left it as he dashed into the house. I'm sure he's been told not to leave it there hundreds of times. The flowerbeds bloom in a random riot of colors as if the owner didn't want to take the time to plan and plot. Some of the taller plants are planted in the front instead of relegated to the back and the daisies seem to be taking more than their share of the space. A bee buzzes happily among the chaos. The smell of fresh cut grass and honeysuckle mingle in the air. There are weeds popping up among the flowers and a few dandelions are showing their stubborn little yellow heads here and there but you can tell a loving hand is at work here. This owner obviously has a full life with lots of joy but all its messiness too. She works hard to make life beautiful but sometimes it just gets out of control. Sometimes she gets too busy to tend to everything. Her nails are probably chipped and her roots are probably showing. Sometimes she wishes she could escape it all.  She makes mistakes. She's not perfect but she's trying the best she knows how.

I wonder if when people look at me all they can see are the weeds and the cracks in the sidewalks instead of what's blooming inside.

So today I'm out there doing my best to tend my garden and thanking God for concealer and cheap plastic surgery down in MX.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sunday Morning Dreaming

We'll see the sun come up on sunday mornin'

And watch it fade the moon away

I guess you know I'm givin' you a warnin'

'Cause me and moon are itchin' to play

I'll take you on a trip beside the ocean

And drop the top at Chesapeake Bay

Ain't nothing like the sky to dose a potion

The moon'll send you on your way

Moonlight feels right, moonlight feels right

From the song Moonlight Feels Right by Starbuck

Day 18

I’ve long dreamed of a parade of convertibles with their tops down winding their way down a southern east coast interstate. We’re the only cars on this lonely stretch. It’s 2 am and the full moon is lighting our way. I’m in the lead car and my friends are following behind. A cool 80’s southern rock station is playing on the radio, the cap’n is at the wheel and I’ve got my feet up on the dash and my head layed back, counting the stars and singing along with the radio in the sultry night air. At about 4:30 am we pull into some all-night greasy spoon for some “joe” and red-eye gravy and grits then hit the road again. As the dawn is starting to lighten the sky we pull off to the nearest beach. Hatteras, Outer Banks, Wrightsville, Carolina…we’ll hit them all. We pull old blankets and picnic baskets out of our trunks and head over the dunes. The seabirds are awake and wheeling out to sea and there are still some stubborn stars and the waning moon hanging around when the first sunrays start to turn the lingering indigo of the night sky to lavender and pink. The lights on the shrimp boats are winking on the waves. When the sun peeks over the horizon my friends pour wine and toast a new day while I watch with my arms wrapped around my drawn up knees. Perfectly happy. The morning show is over too soon and we jump back in our convertibles, tired and no longer alone on the lonely road. Before long we pull into an old 60’s style motor inn and sleep the heat of the day away in the blissful arctic air of our window air conditioning units. As the sun is bidding adieu we venture out of our cocoons and head for Shem Creek in search of a crab shack where we dance barefoot on its rickety docks until the clock strikes midnight. Then we hit the road again. Wanna come?

Today all my dreams seem like possibilities.

So today I’m out there doing my best to dream up new possibilities.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Amy Winehouse Dead At 27

Day 17

Amy Winehouse died this morning at the age of 27. Tragic. But I have to admit one of my first responses was, Well, she finally got what she wanted. Then I reminded myself, it wasn’t what she wanted it was what her addiction wanted. I wrote on one of the message boards how sad it was that while onlookers on the sidelines can see the train coming, the ones caught on the track of addiction are blinded by its bright lights. I need to amend that. I think they can see that train coming but addiction has them tied up to the tracks like one of those damsels in distress in the old movies. A lot of would be heroes tried to ride in and save Amy Winehouse but it was up to her to save herself. Her addiction was stronger than she was and this time the train won. Years ago a friend told me that everyone should try heroin at least once because it was so unbelievably wonderful. I’m glad I said, “No, no, no, no, no, no. “

Today I’m out there doing my best to stay on the right side of the tracks and pay attention to the warning lights.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Amazing Grace

I do not at all understand the mystery of grace, only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.
Anne Lamott
Day 15 on my march to permanent absence.
I was reading an article this morning about AA's Twelve Steps. It addressed myths that people have about AA. As you know if you read one of my earliest blogs, I do not believe AA is a choice for me. It's not because I don't believe their "beliefs", I agree with most of them fervently. It's because I don't like to feel obligated to follow one association's rules, guidelines, steps…whatever you want to call them. I like to take a little bit of ingredients from each one of them and add a few ingredient from my own cupboard and then mix them all together until it tastes just right to me. Have I got my mixture just right yet? I hope so, but I have a tendency to keep messing with things and adding a little of this and a little of that (usually too much wine) until it's unpalatable and I end up throwing it away. I'm hoping this time I don't mess with perfection, or what seems to be close enough to perfection.
Oh, the other reason I haven't tried AA is because I hate going to meetings. Of any kind.
But as usual I have wandered clear off the track. Anyway this article said one reason that people use as an excuse to not join AA is because their belief is that your belief in a Higher Power is fundamental to recovery which the article says is not true. It says that if you do not believe in a higher power replace that phrase with the word "grace" so I decided to look up the definition of grace.
Grace: elegance, beauty, and smoothness of form or movement; Dignified, polite, and decent behavior; A capacity to tolerate, accommodate; or forgive people; A capacity to tolerate, accommodate, or forgive people; A pleasing and admirable quality or characteristic.
For those that do believe in a higher power: In Christianity, the infinite love, mercy, favor, and goodwill shown to humankind by God.
I don't think I can ever have too much grace, I think I'll add a liberal portion to my mixture.
So today I'm out there doing my best to live my life in grace and thanking my Co-Writer for the recipe.
P.S. Here's the link to the article: 12 Steps to the 12 Step

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Walking Straighter

Day 15 of abs

Damn Country songs!! There’s nothing like them to make you feel guilty. I couldn’t listen to a country station on the radio for a year after my divorce. This morning I was driving around, feeling pretty good about myself and this country song, “Please Walk A Little Straighter, Daddy” comes on. It’s all about a son whose father is an alcoholic and how he’s trying to look up to him and he’s asking him to quit drinking. Boy, did that send pangs through my heart. If I could go back and erase every memory that my sons have of me being drunk, I would do it in a heartbeat. I don’t know what I was thinking back then. Drinking at high school football games when they were playing, drinking when their friends were spending the night, drinking when I was preparing a pre-Prom dinner for my youngest son and his date and another couple and my son turned to me and said, “Do you really think I can’t tell when you’re drinking, Mom?” in front of his friends. I was so ashamed and embarrassed. How do I think he felt?

I’ve always thought I would never abuse my children, but I did.  I never thought I was that bad.  It wasn't like I was the drunk dad in the movie "Hoosiers".  But I was bad enough.  I gave them ugly and shameful memories. The shame was not theirs but they had to bear it. They deserved so much better. My sons are grown now and those memories are a permanent part of them. I can’t undo the past, all I can do is try to redeem the present and future and be the mother they deserve.

If someone is reading this that has young children, please give them memories of a parent of which they are proud. Do it for you, for your children and for me.

So today I’m out there doing my best to make new memories that won’t erase the old ones but hopefully they’ll outshine them.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


“Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps”

The origin of this descriptive phrase isn't known. It refers of course to boots and their straps (laces) and to the imagined feat of a lifting oneself off the ground by pulling on one's bootstraps. This impossible task is supposed to exemplify the achievement in getting out of a difficult situation by one's own efforts.

Day 14 of abs

I remember early summer mornings of my childhood my brothers would be forced out of bed at the ungodly hour of 6:30 am. That’s pretty tough for a kid during the summer. They would mount their Schwinn bicycles, still half asleep, and ride halfway across town to the church. It was their week to be altar boys (they call them servers now since girls are allowed to carry out the duties) for the morning mass. I know that they weren’t “called” to do this, Mom and Dad made them. My oldest brother likes to tell the story of how he and fellow altar boy, Steve Barrows, would sneak the communion wine after mass and how he would ride home with an 8:00 am buzz at the ripe age of twelve. He is the other alcoholic in my family but he learned his lessons by the time he was thirty and has been sober for twenty-eight years.

The summer mass server at the church I am attending in the mornings here in this little NW Colorado is the same one every day. Poor guy! He is at least 70 years old and he does double duty as a communion minister. I guess parents don’t make their kids get up to serve mass these days. His hand shakes a little as he presents the host to the communicants and sometimes he chimes the bells a little early during the Consecration of the Host but he doesn’t use that as an excuse not to do it. Today as he preceded the priest in he stumbled and fell at the raised altar. He got right back up, thank God, and went on carrying out his duties during the mass. I don’t think most of the churchgoers even noticed since they were looking at their prayer books and reciting the entrance prayer but I’d bet that through the rest of the mass, that little stumble was all the server could think about.

Instead of congratulating himself on getting back up and carrying on through the mass or even the fact that he showed up every day when no one else would, right now he’s thinking about the fall. How embarrassed he is at his frailty instead of being proud of his strength of will in standing back up and turning to face the rest of us and carrying on. He’ll do it again tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that.

So today I’m out there doing my best to stay upright but reinforcing my bootstraps JIC.

PS.  Really God you didn't need to make that poor man fall just so I had something to write about.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

That'll Never Happen

Day 13

Thank you to everybody that wrote on the message boards how much they appreciated yesterday’s blog and gave me such precious encouragement on my quest to total sobriety. You guys are the best. Several wrote that the blog would help them make the decision on whether to mod or abs. I’m glad, that is the “purpose” of this blog. I will pass on the kudos to my Co-Writer.

I haven’t had any strong urges for which I’m grateful. It is pretty easy right now since the cap’n is working and he doesn’t drink much and we’re in a town where we don’t know anyone so there’s no pressure from anyone to drink but that’s never been my problem, I don’t need any pressure or a crowd to drink. As a matter of fact, I prefer drinking alone that way nobody interrupts me when I’m talking. LOL! Last evening we were grilling some chicken in a little park right next to the hotel here and I ran back to the room for another glass of wine for the cap’n and felt a twinge. It wasn’t an urge just a momentary sadness at the little drinking rituals I’m going to miss. The playful arguments of whose turn it is to freshen the drinks, the clinking of glasses, the toasts to a beautiful sunset. But then I thought of the things I wouldn’t miss. I made a list of things that will never happen if I don’t drink again.

1. I’ll never ruin a white blouse, a rug, or a computer with spilled red wine. (This one has happened and it was a friend’s computer. She still talks to me).

2. I’ll never wake up with a stranger in my bed (I’ve woken up with strange men but not strangers.)

3. I’ll never get a DUI (Knock on wood, that has never happened).

4. I’ll never wake up with splinters on the inside of my thighs and scabs on my knees (I’m gonna miss that).

5. I’ll never sing Janis Joplin’s “Me and Bobby McGee” at karaoke night again (by order of all the patrons of La Playa de Chelem bar and restaurant).

6. I’ll never embarrass my grandson by falling down at his wedding reception (if I do it will be the high heels fault, not because I’m drunk).

7. I’ll never wake up in my own vomit or worse (Oh, the good times!)

8. I’ll never have to wonder why my best friend, sister, husband…is no longer talking to me (?)

9. I’ll never get to see flying monkeys or pink elephants (Dang!).

10. I’ll never maim or kill myself or an innocent husband, wife, child, family, friend… because I was driving while drunk (Thank you, God!).

Today I’m out there doing my best to keep adding to the list.

Monday, July 18, 2011


Day 12
Someone on the Moderation Management List asked me to write more about why I decided to permanently abs instead of continuing to try my hand at moderating. I've been putting off writing this blog all morning because the commitment I made yesterday still scares me and I have moments where I wish I could take it back and because the reasons are so many and some of them are so hard to put into words. But I'll try. Here goes.
It just doesn't make any sense anymore. As I said on the WFS (Women for Sobriety) message board yesterday. I'm a smart woman but I have continued to let alcohol fool me. "It's" good at it. For a long time, "it" masqueraded as my best friend. "It" was always there when I need "It". If I was lonely, "It" kept me company. If I was sad, "It" made me laugh. When I felt awkward, "It" gave me confidence and when I doubted myself, "It" reassured me. When I was afraid, "It" gave me courage. "It" was there through the good and the bad times.
Then "It" turned on me. "It" made me lonely. "It "made me sad. " It" made me awkward. "It" made me doubt myself. "It" made me afraid. "It" physically and emotionally abused me. But like the abusive spouse to which "It" is often compared, "It" kept drawing me back with the promise that "It" would stop hurting me and it would be good between us again. "It" never lived up to its promise. The abuse got worse and "It" told me I couldn't live without "It", that nobody wanted me or liked me without "It". I found out "It" was wrong. I opened the door to the prison in which "It" held me and saw another world out there waiting for me. I got brave enough to step outside a time or two but something would always scare me, or make me sad, or lonely, or unsure, or sad and I would run back inside to "It". But it was too late. I'd had a glimpse of that other world I wanted to see more of it. I kept sneaking through the door and I started going further and further. I still got sad, and scared, and lonely and unsure but not as much  as when I lived with "It". I found out that others still liked me and wanted me and I started liking myself again. When I used to be in one of my recovery modes, half of me praying that I didn't die and the other half hoping that I would, my husband would say, "I want my wife back." I want her back too. So I've closed the door and I've left my key behind. It's time to move.
When I was driving around this morning trying to pinpoint the main reason that I feel this time is "the time" for me my Co-Writer nudged me and said,
"I have a purpose for you and it sure as hell isn't living your life as a drunk."
I started crying and I knew that was the main reason that I'm not going to risk my life again.
So today I'm out there doing my best to fullfill my purpose and live up to my potential.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Another Life Choice

This is going to be a quickie.  We all have things we'd rather be doing on a Sunday than read my blog.  Sunday is for new beginnings and it is a new beginning for me.  I have made the decision that the only route left for me to take is total and permanent abstinence from alcohol.  I joined a new message board this last week, Women for Sobriety but I'll admit I still wasn't convinced.  Then someone responded to my introductory post that she got exhausted thinking about all of my Day 1's, Day 10,s Day 19's.... so I went back and read back over my blog this last year. Come on, who was I fooling? Only myself.  Was one more stab at moderation going to be the ticket?  I don't know, I never will.  I just don't want to waste any more of my life on any more "one more times".  As Andy Dufrain said in the movie Shawshank Redemption, "It's time to get busy living or get busy dying."  I know which one I'm choosing.  I may stumble a long the way but I won't be attempting moderation again, it's a done deal.

I have heard from several people that they are starting their individual journeys today.  Whether that be moderation or permanent abstinence, you have my best wishes.  Just remember, if you fall get, back up, if you stray down a wrong path, turn around, if there's a boulder blocking your way, go around it, climb over it or tunnel under it, and listen to your internal GPS, it knows where you need to go.
Safe Travels, my friends.
So today I'm out there doing my best to travel light and leave the burden of alcohol by the wayside.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Vigilant Saturday

Day 10 of abs.

I'm back on my mountain for the weekend and it's good to be home. Yesterday afternoon could have been a trigger for me because I always want to celebrate any arrival at a destination with a glass of wine or something stronger. I did have a slight urge but I ignored it and it went away pretty quickly. No big deal. I know that my treacherous time comes around day 20. That's when I think I'm bullet proof and can handle a glass of wine or two.

I usually like to pretend I'm not a drunk on Saturdays. That doesn't mean I drink on Saturday, it means I try to act like I never drank so I don't fret about it all day. I try to channel a non-drinker (my brother, Mike, in my case) and think like he does all day. For example, I know he probably got up this morning and started thinking about which dirt bike he wants to work on today or how he's going to get out of the 10 mile bike ride his wife has planned and damn, he wishes the lawn didn't need mowed. I know at 8:00 am he's not worrying about if or when or how much he is going to drink today. I try. Obviously it doesn't always work since I'm sitting here typing this blog about drinking but I have found the longer I go without drinking the less it inhabits my brain. Other thoughts start to crowd it out. Thoughts and plans that drunkenness and hangovers wouldn't move over to make room for.

I went for my usual walk this morning with my arsenal I tote up here in the mountains. Pepper spray and a walking stick for any predators, man or beast, I might encounter, dog biscuits for my pooch pals, and lipstick in case today is the day I run into George Clooney on the trail.

Two weeks of being gone have wrought few changes on my usual route. The harebells, phlox and potentilla are in rambunctious bloom. My rambunctious four legged pals remember me or they remember the treats in my pocket. As I walk on up the road out of the "city" (Park City is a 1880's settlement of about two dozen cabins ) the road gets less populated and I grow more vigilant. I have to keep on the lookout for any dangers that might be lurking in the form of a bear of mountain lion or weirdo or crazy-ass ATV driver. I keep watch ahead of me and behind me and above me (bears sleep in trees) and beneath me (those damn rocks get me every time). And of course, my eyes are always peeled for George. The only thing I spot today is a doe crossing the road a hundred yards in front of me.

So today I'm out there staying vigilant against any glasses of wine or shots of Jack Daniels that might be lying in wait for me. Just waiting to clobber me or make me stumble at the same time I'm trying to pretend they don't exist.

I am not going to think about drinking for the rest of the day….right.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Life Choice

Day 9 of abs

There is another park I sometimes stop off to walk at after I drop the cap’n off and before I go to mass. I usually have time to make one round of it before it’s time to head for the church. Yesterday I noticed that everybody was lapping me. Even the older people. Even the dog walkers who had to stop several times to let their pooches do their thing. That’s okay. I’m not really there to exercise I’m there just to be. I’m there to notice the army of tiny frogs hopping across the sidewalk, the buzz of the dragonfly as it whizzes by, the fresh morning smell of the day. I’m choosing to be fully a part of life because sometimes I choose not to be.

Every time I sober up I get a new lease on life. Like the cancer survivor, the air is clearer, the grass is greener and the sun shines brighter. Cancer is an abnormal growth of cells. Something strange that happens in our bodies, sometimes through no choice of ours, and our body doesn’t like it. Alcohol is a toxin I choose to put in my body that destroys my cells and mutates them. It makes unwilling little monsters out of them. My body doesn’t like this either. And just like cancer, alcohol metastasizes. But it doesn’t stay in my body, it metastasizes to my soul and then it spreads to my husband, to my sons, to my grandsons, to my friends….and on and on and on. Sometimes I go into remission and I’m so thankful and so joyful and relieved and I swear I will never choose to make my body and soul sick again. But I do. Unlike the cancer patient, I choose to get sick again and again and eventually, if I don’t choose to stop this vicious cycle, it will choose to kill me.

Today I choose not to drink. Today I choose life.

So I’m out there doing my best to choose only the “choice” cuts of life.

P.S. Sorry! I’m sure the alcohol/cancer metaphor has been done to death but that’s what my Co-Writer chose today.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Random Act of Kindness

Day 8 of abs.
My Co-Writer is my muse and most of the time he comes through for me but early this morning when I was trying to think of something to write…Nada, nothing. So I said, "Hey you gotta help me out here cuz I got squat." It looked like it was going to be a quick "Hi, this is day 8, I'm not having any urges, I didn't do much yesterday but it was a good day. Gotta go. Bye." (You can tell who is the real writing talent in this team. I'm just the typist).
So…I went to mass, again. My new mass habit reminds me of stories of alcoholics that don't have a drink for years and then after one they can't get enough. I think the mass habit may be a little healthier for me. And I know I can stop whenever I want. The homily wasn't too inspiring and I was still wondering where my muse had gone when I noticed a man sitting at the end of the pew in front of me. He's been there every day that I have. He's very old and he has that tattered and hollow look that homeless people carry. On another morning I had noticed a wobbly old bicycle leaning against the side of the church. It had electrical tape around the handlebars for hand grips and also covering the entire seat. I wondered if it was his. This man looked far too frail to be riding a bike. He had a glove on one hand and his jacket was twisted around his back. I thought maybe he was trying to fashion some kind of sling out of it.
He left as soon as the priest started to make his way out of the sacristy. I wanted to follow him to see if the bike actually was his but as Father Preisner scolded me years ago when he caught me sneaking out of mass early, "Kary May, you never leave mass before the priest." As soon as the priest exited, I hurriedly genuflected, crossed myself and headed down the aisle. I was the first one out but there was no sign of the old man. I crossed to the side street where I had parked and there he was. He wasn't on a bike. He was stopped on the sidewalk and another one of the churchgoers was helping him put his jacket on correctly.
Tears came to my eyes.
Years before he died my dad broke his shoulder and it was essentially frozen after that and he couldn't move it. He learned to work around it and dress himself and even kept up his woodworking and lawn care. Then he had a stroke and, luckily, it affected that same side but he had to learn to do all those things over again. I can remember how he would have to thread his bad arm through the sleeve of his jacket and then sling it around his shoulders to his good side to put the good arm in. Sometimes it would take several tries to get it right. I hope that if it had been twisted like the old man's jacket was someone would have helped him like this kind fellowman did.
So today I'm out there doing my best to be ready should a chance to practice a random act of kindness happen by.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Kicking and Screaming

Day 7 of abs.

I really didn’t want to get up this morning, but I did. I woke up cranky and stiff from sleeping another on a hotel bed. Then I really didn’t want to take Stanley, the blind killer bichon, out for his morning duties but I figure since I have the privilege of going first thing in the morning and several times during the night it would be unaccountably cruel not to take him out first thing. Especially since he’s prancing around and looking hopefully at me (well, he’s kind of looking towards me since he’s totally blind). So I took him out and it was pouring rain and I’m thinking, I really don’t feel like going to mass this morning so if it’s still raining I won’t. No, mass is not held outside but I was looking for excuses. I dropped the cap’n off at work at 6:20 am and it has stopped raining but I have 40 minutes before mass starts and I decide to get my Walmart run out of the way for the day and I decide if I don’t get done in time for mass, I won’t go. I made it out of Walmart in plenty of time so I went to mass and there was a lesson waiting there for me but I’ll save it for another blog. (I can hear the sighs of relief) After mass I went to McDonalds for my daily breakfast burrito, it was the only thing I didn’t have to talk myself into this morning. As I’m pulling out the drive-through I realize I still need to go for my walk. Ugh! So I turn the steering wheel toward the park. When I get there I can see that the little river that runs through the park has flooded and a good portion of the park is covered in water and from what I can see, the way to the paths I like is blocked. I say to myself, “This is a sign that I shouldn’t walk today.” But I know me and I know that I am, once again, just making excuses. I parked the car and made my way through the wet grass to a clear portion of the walkway and from there I can see a bridge across the river that isn’t under water and I know I can make it to the paths (and the bathrooms which was going to be my next excuse).

I finally start up the paths. I make a turn and I find myself in what I can only describe as a cathedral of trees. The sun is shining through the branches that arch above me but there are leftover raindrops falling from their leaves and the blades of grass bordering the path are glistening. There is steam coming off the trunks of the trees. I swear I just walked into one of those pictures I look for on Google images. Of course, I didn’t have a camera but it didn’t matter because a camera wouldn’t have been able to catch the raindrops falling or the glistening of the grass, it wouldn’t have been able to feel the sun and the damp or hear the birds. It was a living portrait just for me, just for that moment. If I had talked myself out of going on that walk, I would have missed it . And I wouldn’t have even known what I missed.

And that’s why I’m not drinking today.

So today I’m out there doing my best to not miss out.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Bottle Is Not Redeemable

Day 6 of abs’ing. Last night I was busy beating myself black and blue. In the last year I’ve managed to pretty much humiliate myself in front of most of my family members with my drinking. Up to now, I’ve always been able to comfort myself with the fact that all my friends and family still love me. And I think they still do but they’ll probably start avoiding me. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a mean or confrontational drunk but I’m a stupid drunk and an annoying drunk. I used to be a funny and clever drunk, at least I thought so. Maybe it’s because I’ve had more sober moments in the last year, I am able to see myself more clearly. I was definitely a more functional drunk and I can no longer claim that lofty title. Before, I could say I never let anybody down and I can’t say that anymore.

So, yep, this morning I was pretty black and blue. I dropped the cap’n off at work and headed to mass. It’s becoming a habit. Now that religion isn’t being forced down my throat I’m finding I like it, I even crave it. I’m not so sure it’s the mass that I crave though, this morning, unbeknownst to me, there was no mass. I stayed anyway. There is just something about sitting in that quiet old church with the sun glowing through the stained glass that makes me feels so safe, so loved and, for lack of a better word, so serene. Actually there is no better word.

So I was sitting there in all my serenity this morning staring at a stained glass window of the crucifixion made brilliant by the morning sun and I started telling my Co-Writer about how I felt last night and trying to shut up long enough to hear what he had to say about it. “Redeemer!” I swear to “You-Know-Who” the word flashed in my head. This is how I know when he is talking to me. A thought I never would have thought of is just there, in my brain. I’ve heard the word “Redeemer” a million times but I always thought of it in general “Savior of the Masses” terms. I’m sure I’ve said, “God is my Redeemer” a hundred times but I never thought about how it could apply to my life. (Help me out here, God, I’m having a hard time explaining this). I guess I always thought of “Redeemer” in the broad term of only redeeming my soul to get me that ticket into heaven. I never thought of God as being able to help me redeem myself to the people I love or to myself down here on terra firma.

How is he going to do this? I’m not sure but I’m going to ask him to. I think it might be as simple as asking for the strength to be the best person I can be. Over and over and over again. If you don’t believe in a higher power, just keep asking yourself to be the best person you can be. Over and over and over again.

I am redeemable!

So today I’m out there doing my best to rack up some frequent sober miles towards my trip to Redemption.

P.S. I keep telling my Co-Writer to lay off the religious stuff because He’s driving away the masses but sometimes he insists.

Monday, July 11, 2011


Okay, back on the path. And speaking of paths…I went for a walk in a new park today. It had a great path. One that was, of course, unfamiliar to me. Parts of it were wooded and curved and I couldn’t see what was beyond the next bend. There were some straightaways where I could see far enough ahead that I could see that they were taking me in the direction I wanted to go, others, I could tell, were going to take me far out of the way and I turned back. Several times I ended up in places I’d already been before. Some of it was shady, some of it was sunny. Part of the path was on uneven ground and some of it was over smooth walkways. Tomorrow I’ll be a little more familiar with the path, but I’ll probably still stumble a couple of times. I might get lost and end up in a place I’ve been before. I can only pray that it is a place I want to be or if it’s not that I can find my way back to the right path.

The new path I’ve decided to take in my journey to control my drinking is: A 30 day abs and then one more, very committed, very structured, very determined, very disciplined attempt at moderation. If I fail then I will permanently abs. I’m sure I’ve probably planned this route before, but I’m going to try it one more time. It’s kind of like a dream vacation that I’ve dreamed of taking for years and it keeps getting cancelled for one reason or another. I still believe if I’m determined enough it will happen.

So today I’m out there doing my best to map this path out.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


I just wanted to post a quick note to say I'm still alive and back on the abs side of the see-saw.  I had a couple of not so good weeks where I managed to abs 3 days of each of the weeks but binged 2 days each week with another 2 wasted weaning off and not sleeping.  Ugh! I'm so tired of this!
10 words to describe me at this moment:

Okay, that's more than 10 but that last one is the most important.

So today I'm out there doing my best to come up with happier descriptions for tomorrow.