Sunday, September 16, 2012



I want to thank you guys for your extremely kind accolades on my making it one year in sobriety and I promise I will take the time to address each of them tomorrow but first I want to thank you for pulling me back from the cliff this weekend. 


As I said in my last post, the cap'n and I were meeting up for a romantic interlude (under the guise of a Stanley, the blind killer bichon, exchange) this weekend.  There is this sweet little mountain village in the Southeast corner of Colorado called Cuchara and it is the only advantage I can think of to living in the Southwest corner of the state of Kansas as opposed to the Northeast corner of Kansas, we are closer to Cuchara.  My parents used to take me there as a kid and back then it was one block long consisting of a general store, a cafe, and a smattering of rustic log cabins surrounding it, now it is still one block long with three cafe/bars, a couple of  stores, a hotel, lots of realty offices and quite a few swanky model log homes cluttering up the mountainside.

There is a bar there called "The Dog Bar" which allows dogs in, it even has AA meeting times posted for the dogs of Cuchara.  And yes, of course, I have been drunk there before, a smattering of times.  The only two things I remember about the last time was that I had an argument with a fellow bar patron about a Jerry Jeff song and the hellacious, hangover plagued, six hour drive home to Kansas the next day.  That must have been before I started drinking myself well in the mornings after.

None of this was on my mind as I was driving up Friday afternoon, I was too busy basking in the golden glow of the aspens and the accomplishment of this year, but as I drove closer to the cabin I felt a little pang when I remembered there wouldn't be a drink waiting for me at the end of the drive.

We went to the Dog Bar for a hamburger that evening and all the locals (I don't think there are any real locals in Cuchara, I don't think anyone is actually from there, I think they all wandered in from Kansas and Texas and some of them just refused to go home) were starting to get  their Friday night loud on.  The band was tuning their guitars and one leggy blue-jeaned, down-vested blonde chick at the bar kept "Woo-Hooing" every time someone strummed a chord. Man, that bitch got on my nerves, couldn't be because she reminded me of someone I used to be, could it?

The band didn't seem to be in a hurry to get through their warm-up and the cap'n and I were exhausted so we payed our tab and headed back to our little rental cabin.

The cabin was perfection.  Just a tiny little thing with an iron bed loaded down with blankets and flannel sheets and a big picture window looking over a meadow pond and the snow dusted peaks in the distance.  We put our stockinged feet up on the coffee table and counted the stars reflecting on the pond from the comfort of the couch in the front room.

The next day we drove the mountain roads, oohing and ahhing at the autumn colors, like everyone else and all the while I was thinking of other autumn roadtrips and missing that cold beer in my hand.  At about two o'clock in the afternoon the cap'n asked me where I wanted to go next and I told him I'd be happy to sit on the deck of the cabin with a good book so we headed back.

The sun was shining and the dusting of snow had already melted off the peaks, I settled in with my Kindle and the cap'n went into fix himself a drink.  I was hit with a tsunami of nostalgia.  All the warm sun-filled afternoons of sitting with drinks in our hands, happy to be alive and congratulating ourselves on our lot in life, came rushing back and I was filled with such longing. I was homesick for the little arguments over whose turn it was to fix drinks, the delight and promise of a freshly made drink in my hand.  All so much bullshit, I know, I know.  But still.

When the cap'n drove over to the office to settle up with the manager that hadn't been there when we pulled in the night before, I picked up his drink and I thought, "Just a sip."

And I took one.

And I put the glass down and picked up my Kindle.

Then I looked at his glass again and thought, "Maybe after a year, I've learned my lesson.  Surely now I would recognize if I was getting into trouble and I could stop."

And I picked up the glass and took another sip.

And I put the glass back down.

I looked over to where the capn's vehicle was still parked over at the office and the thoughts started running together in my head, "It probably wouldn't take much to get a little high, just a little buzz, I don't want to get drunk, I just want a little buzz, maybe one more sip would do it."

And I hurriedly picked up the glass and took another sip.

And I put the glass back down.

But I didn't feel a buzz so I reached for the glass again and I thought, "What can I think of that will make me put this glass down?"

And I thought of all the kind things you guys had said about me on my one year soberversary and the faith you have in me.

And I didn't take a sip.

And I put the glass down.

And I didn't pick it back up.

When I got home this afternoon, I checked my email (there had been no internet at the cabin) and there was an email from my brother who had found sobriety almost 30 years ago through AA  (Shining Examples) and he congratulated me on my year and once more hinted that I should try AA.

"You know, honey, you can't keep it if you don't give it away." he admonished.

I am so thankful that all of you gave it away to me this week.  I will do my utmost best to return the favor.  I know I am guilty of sometimes of reading other blogs and thinking I have nothing to say that hasn't been said or that I can't relate to what the writer has written or even in a pique of adolescent petulance thought, "This blogger never comments on my blog, I'm not going to comment on hers." but really just saying you have faith in the person to get through whatever issues they are dealing with and to stay sober makes such a difference.  It did for me. 

P.S. Now about those sips, I'm choosing to put the emphasis on the fact that I stopped rather then the fact that I started.  I'm not going to let those three little sips take anything away from what I have accomplished, instead I'm going to acknowledge them as reminders that the wolf is still at the door and he's going to keep huffing and puffing, trying to blow my house down, and I've got to keep building my house stronger by, yes, writing this blog, participating on the message boards, reading and commenting on other blogs and giving it away every chance I get.


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    1. Kary, a place in Colorado holding many memories of drinking days is Steamboat. We (my family and extended family) went there a few years ago as we used to do annually. The long driver through the Poudre and then through the prairie permitted me a lot of thinking time. And I caught myself "thinking" about how easy its going to be to score alcohol (abundant on our trips there). Its a weird phenomena when you go some place that has drinking memories. I have learned that to process these thoughts PRIOR to leaving for the location and getting some good ol blog feedback can be very effective for maintaining sobriety.

      Oh, and glad you didn't cop a buZZ!!!! :)

  2. Ok, so if I remember correctly, you are not involved in AA and are doing this in your own spiritual way?

    I congratulate you on your year. I have not read enough of your journey to know exactly what has been your process without a 12 step program. Where do you find your support?
    The Cap'n (I'm assuming is your partner), still drinks?
    What is going to protect you from the next three sips becoming four? If you are not going to AA, what is your game plan for protection?
    I went to an AA meeting tonight and one of my dear friends had "gone out" for three days, not only on alcohol, but on shooting heroin. The ONLY way he is going to live is to come back to a room full of people and a set program. I cried for him.
    I apologize for not getting your full story yet. It takes a lot of time for me to get things done with my children yanking at me all the time. You may have answered these questions already.

    I'm glad you had a beautiful trip.

    1. Hi Catherine,
      While Kary certainly does not need input on her behalf; I really want to ask you how it is you missed where she finds her support!! Especially following a blog post where she illustrated how she obtains support.

      I got sober through AA and have a pretty fair understanding for how the program works. My second question to you is how do you make AA work while still searching for a HP? (see your last post)

      I'm not interested in a debate, just curious about some noted contradictions.

    2. Catherine,
      I'm grateful for your questions because it makes me step back and look at my recovery and evaluate whether I have "enough" recovery.

      I agree with almost everyone of AA's traditions, and am a big believer in my Higher Power, God and I count him as one of my biggest supporters along with a whole realm of angels and saints and dear departed former drunks. My pursuit of my spirituality and my relationship with God is hand and hand with my sobriety and the realization that God has a higher purpose and much better life planned for me then the one I was living and it is up to me to find it is the mainstay of my recovery.

      My other means of support are my husband, the cap'n who, yes, does drink but supports me fully in my sobriety, my kids who I am making amends to and who are so relieved that I am sober, my friends, drinking and non-drinking who I know would trip over each other to knock the glass out of my hand if I chose to drink, my readers here, my fellow bloggers, the members of the mmabsers and moderation management message boards. I think I have a pretty awesome support system and there is always someone just a click or phone call away.

      What keeps me from taking 4 sips next time or blowing it all together? The same thing that made me put that glass down, my acknowledgment that I'm an alcoholic and that drinking wasn't going to solve the problem, my accountability to the people that have faith in me and to myself and my Higher Power, and my own pride and self-love.

      As illustrated by your friends relapse, no recovery program is foolproof. I'm happy with my recovery, I think it worked for me this weekend, if it does not continue to work, I will find other additional means of support.

    3. Hi Dawn,
      I was merely replying to her post with my own thoughts. I was not implying that AA is the way, though apparently that is how it came across.
      I was asking her questions not as a way to preach the "right way" to recover, but to find alternatives, for myself to explore (as you say I am still searching).
      I thought that the purpose of blogs was input, and questions, and reflection.
      I also stated that I had read only a few of her posts and that I was certain that I had missed many answers to questions I was asking.

    4. Hi Kary,

      Thank you for your thoughtful post. I guess I should have qualified that the only solution for MY FRIEND will be a set 12 step program. Perhaps for me too. I am not fortunate to have the network that you have. The only place I have found where people care about me that much is AA. It is also the only place I have found that is teaching me to find my own higher power. I was raised by no-one, and certainly with no God to speak to, so I get it where I can. Re-reading my post, I really was speaking for myself, although it does sound a little preachy, but if you knew me you would know that I am soooo very loose and accepting of anything that works. I was just bleeding and on my knees a year ago and AA rooms is what lifed me up. I need only speak for myself.


    5. Catherine, I think it is natural and honorable to advocate something that has saved our lives,as AA has done for you and so many others. Through some lucky happenstance I ended up with two very loving and devout parents who brought me up in a religion that at times I rebelled against, turned my back on for a time, and still question but it did give me an unshakeable belief in God, even if sometimes I tried to shake free of it. I could see that if I didn't quit drinking soon I was going to lose my network of friends and family, God knows how they hung on as long as they did, and maybe then I would have turned to AA to get the needed support.

      I am so glad you found AA.

  3. Kary - I'm going on three years and only did AA for a few months and that was at the beginning of this year. It is possible to get sober and stay that way without AA FOR SOME PEOPLE. A great many others could not do it without the program. I truly believe each of us finds our own way.

    Now - as for those "sips"? My takeaway is that you were ABLE TO PUT DOWN THE GLASS AND NOT PICK IT BACK UP!!! I am so in awe of your strength and commitment right now I can't even tell you.

    Bravo my friend...bravo!!!


  4. Your weekend away sounds lovely, and i understand how the memories of earlier times lulled you into thinking you could go back to how things used to be (oh, those good ol' drinking days). You had a few sips then pulled out your trusty toolkit and remembered all the love and support you have here.
    Good job, KM. Thanks for such an honest post xo

  5. You guys are awesome! Truthfully, I did not place that much significance on those sips but because I knew some people would see those sips as the first steps down the slippery slope to relapse, I worried about even posting about them. But I swore I'd always tell the truth on this blog and as much as I wanted to avoid some of the feedback I thought I might get, I knew I had to post this in case someone else was going through the same thing. That way we could find out together that a slight slip does not always trigger an avalanche, but those slips are good indications of where our weaknesses lie. You guys are awesome, I know I already said that but it's worth saying twice.

  6. You know it's funny but the last couple of days with Mr D back from overseas and having one glass of red wine every evening I've been struck by those glasses on the bench and how ridiculously easy it would be for me to pick it up and have a sip. While he's in the bathroom or something I have had a few moments.. It's almost as if after reaching one year the absurdity of how easy it would be to have a quick little sip has really struck me. Honestly - just the same as how it struck you! And a wee thought .. 'just me here alone one little sip". Girl .. you are so amazing and strong and robust and honest and warm and real ... but promise me .. don't dance with that devil again! Pull back .. big picture. Who needs that shit? You had always given alcohol the power to make this weekend special and it doesn't have that power... your magical memories aren't about the booze, they're about the love and magic you have with the cap'n. We just need some more sober memories to blot out the boozy ones. That booze doesn't make anything better. Take care big hugs and love xxxxxxxxxxxx

    1. Mrs. D, as always I'm glad you've got my back. Here's the big picture, three little sips on a Saturday afternoon and I've spent the last four days justifying them, studying them, regretting them, explaining them, re-explaining them, dissecting them,....once again my mind has been plagued by thoughts of alcohol and I've already wasted too many precious years. Let's move on.

  7. Yes, I know that nostalgia you described so perfectly. Those triggers can be incredibly sudden and overwhelming. I'm glad you put the glass down and didn't keep drinking. Keep going strong and thank you for sharing your experience with honesty. We are rooting for you.


  8. I read this post earlier and have been haunted by it. Am retired and read recovery blogs often. I have also had continual sobriety for 28 years (in AA) and would never consider nor have I heard of anyone being so foolhardy as to "flirt with the devil" and take impulsive sips of alcohol. Not because you forfeit your sobriety date but because it can be devestating.

    Sorry to be so blunt but alcohol is a killer for some of us.


  9. Thank you for your concern, Sarah, I really do appreciate it. One definition of flirting is to "deal lightly, casually, or flippantly with someone or something." I don't think that is what I did. I slipped. I had a moment of weakness, I don't think I am the first person to do that. I am not taking it lightly, casually or being flippant about it, if I was, I would not have written about it, I would have dismissed it as unimportant.

    I wish I hadn't taken those sips, but I'm not going to let them erase everything I have done to reach this point. I have made the errant comment that I don't think they were that significant, that is wrong. They are significant, and if I don't see them as such, I won't make the changes I must make to avoid it happening again.

    In regards to forfeiting my sobriety date, I won't be posting my "Sober Day Tally" anymore because I am sure that to someone like you who has not faltered, it would be a slap in the face to claim the same sobriety as you have accomplished. It would be to me, if I were you.

    So maybe I have surrendered my sobriety date, but in my heart I will always recognize September 13, 2011 as the day I made the vow to stay sober. Mine is not a perfect sobriety, but I'm proud of it.

  10. I am proud of any alcoholic who doesn't drink - it is the natural thing for us to do. You wiil be okay - you sound as if you want this badly - I certainly did - couldn't live with alcohol any longer.

  11. Hi Kary, We've "passed each other by" in lots of mutual friends' comments, but figured I'd stop by and officially say hi.

    I was really impressed with your post and your honesty, even about those "less than ideal" personality traits of hurt feelings and petulance. I experience the same, I think that's just part of the human condition.

    I also appreciate you dissecting those few sips and what you were thinking and feeling. That's super helpful to me and others, and its a good reminder of that "wolf" that still sleeps dormant, but with one eye open, in us all. The fact that you could put it down and not pick it up, says it all.

    Confession of the day: I'm glad you took down the widgit thingee, thank you. It was the reason I'd stayed away. It was childish and petulant of me, and I should have just said something, but I didn't know you and I didn't know what to say... so I'll just apologize and say thank-you. And I really like your blog.

    ~ RoS (

  12. Not child and petulant at all, I'm afraid I'm not as cyber-cautious as I should be and some day it may come back to bite me.

    I still feel childish about saying anything but I'm glad I did, I had no idea that the silly widgit thing was making people nervous, heck it decided all of a sudden that I was posting from Idaho, just a 1000+ mile deviation. Anyway, it's gone for good.

    There are getting to be so many of us sober bloggers out there and it's a wonderful thing, I remember when I first started looking I could only find a handful, but it is hard to keep up with us all, and there is just so many minutes in the day and now that we have lives that aren't limited by alcohol there's just so much waiting for us to do. I understand if you can't come by often but I'm glad you did happen by. Now I need to repay the visit.