Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Coming Clean: Part I

 Men are not punished for their sins, but by them. ~Elbert Hubbard

Day 207 of Sobriety

I promised I would always be honest and I have a confession to make.  You might have noticed that lately instead of putting “Day # of Abs” up there on my day count I sneakily changed it to “Day # of Sobriety” and that is because I have drank in those 207 days.  Early in my sobriety, I think it was  in the first two or three months, I took four little sips of beer at four separate times.  Gasp!  It was early in my sobriety and I can remember that the days when I chose to imbibe in my four little sips were sunny and bright and warm, the kind of days for which cold bracing beer is just made and I just wanted that taste on my tongue for just an instant.  And that was it, that was enough.  I didn’t confess it to ya’ll at the time because I truly didn’t think it was significant, but then I read a post from a fellow traveler on this journey and he had taken a toast at a friend’s funeral and he was feeling very torn about whether to reset his sobriety date in AA and he was questioning the other members of the message board about what he should do.  From the responses he received, I realized that even though I might not attach much significance to those 4 little sips of beer, others do, and because I want others to recognize my sincerity and integrity and commitment in this vital venture of mine, I changed my Days to Sobriety Days instead of Abs Days and more importantly I quit taking sips of beer, or anything else.

So why did I not think those 4 little sips were significant?  Because at none of the times that I took those sips did I believe that I was jeopardizing my sobriety. I didn’t and still don’t, believe that any one of those 4 little sips would send me spiraling into a relapse.  And they didn’t. The Catholic religion believes that the difference between a venial and a mortal sin is that when you choose to commit a mortal sin you willingly and knowingly turn your back on God.  Those little sips were venial sins against my sobriety, I didn’t turn my back on sobriety.  I believe it’s the significance that we place on things that give them their power.  If I had believed those four little sips would trigger a relapse, they could have.  If I believed cooking with wine could steal my control and have me pouring a glass while I cook, it might.  If I believed that if I continue to go to bars and parties, I would eventually, inevitably drink, I probably would.  But those are the beliefs of others, they are not mine, and that is why I have not joined with some of the established establishments in this field, because if I started attaching the importance they feel I should on some things that I don’t think are all that important, I may start to believe, as they do, that I am destined to fail. And I will.

Where do I draw the line?  What is the difference between a sip and a glass or two of wine if I don’t attach any significance to them?  I don’t know, I just know for me there is a difference. Why, if they were not significant, did I wait so long to write abou tmy 4 little sips?  My surface response is that I always thought there were more important things to write about, but I’m sure down deep under the surface there is some avoidance of the issue involved.  I don’t want to spend a whole lot of effort justifying those 4 little sips because, then again, I’m attaching too much significance to them and giving them too much power.  

You might have noticed this blog is just Part 1.  There was an incidence during my birthday weekend that I feel jeopardized my sobriety more than those 4 little sips but in my commitment to be more concise, I’ll save that for my next blog. 

So today I’m just out there doing my best to avoid the near occasions of sin, no matter the significance or insignificance attached.

P.S. Sorry for the confusion to the early readers of this post, I forgot to put my title in the title slot. Lo siento.

P.P.S.  I just read through this post again and noticed all the errors that were there.  It's kind of a confusing post anyway and it was even more so before I corrected it.  My excuse is that we had to run into Merida early this morning and I wanted to post this before I left, knowing that by the time I got home I would have brain drain.  Instead, my brain hadn't had it's fill of caffeine or daylight yet and was still on snooze mode.  Readers of  the earlier non-improved post probably thought I'd started sipping again. Ja Ja Ja

Sunday, March 25, 2012

You've Come A Long Way, Baby

This is my post from last year about this time. All I can say about the comparison between my two posts today is WOW!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

All Out War

I just had another birthday. Another year passed and I haven't slayed this monster. Next year I will be 50 and I so hope to be able to say something else. I know I should look back and look at all the sober days I have accumulated, but today it just doesn't feel like enough. I'm not enough. Not strong enough, not smart enough, not good enough. I need to sit down and make a list of things I've accomplished this year. Maybe that would make me feel better, maybe it would make me feel worse. I reached out to an old friend on my birthday. She had slain this dragon 9 years ago and I asked how she had done it. She said, "Willpower." How simple and terrifying. I wanted a magic bullet. AA, church, ….something. But no just willpower. How daunting! And then she said she still sometimes really wants a glass of wine. After 9 years. That scared the bejeezus out of me. A poster on one of the boards the other day said it had taken him 9 years to learn to moderate successfully. I can't wait that long. So today I'm abs'ing. Tomorrow I don't know what I'll be doing but I'll still be fighting the fight. Wounded and bloody on the battlefield.
Yikes! What a depressing post. What can I say? I said I'd be honest. I think a lot of us, at least I did, thought that once we had won some those first few skirmishes the war with this monster would end quickly. Unless you are extremely lucky, it doesn't. It takes the really strong to see it through to the end. This enemy occupation of mine has been here a long time and it's not going to retreat that readily, dammit! So though I'm weary to the bones, I've not yet begun to fight. I'm beginning to get really pissed off.
So I guess my battle cry to you is simple, "Don't give up." If you've lost that first battle, if you've lost that 1000th battle, don't give up.
I out there today just doing my best to take that next hill.

Happy 50th Birthday To Me

The Cap'n reserved the presidential suite at a hotel in Merida last night for my 50TH!!!! Birthday. Flower petals on the bed and a big slipper tub jacuzzi smack dab in the middle of the room with no hot water. :( sad Oh well, TIM (This Is Mexico). Some friends drove in and surprised me and we had a very nice dinner under the stars at a beautiful restaurant. A table full of Italian tourists sang Happy Birthday to me in Italian. We walked back to the hotel through the Centro of Merida where the streets are blocked off every weekend and the restaurants set their tables out for diners. And of course there is music everywhere. (Merida is such a beautiful city and hardly anybody knows about it). The cap'n and I went for a carriage ride and then we came back to our hotel and sat on our balcony and watched the people until midnight.
Am I bragging? Yeah, but you know the best part? I stayed sober the whole time and I woke up without a hangover this morning on my 50th birthday. I can't wait to see what the next half is going to look like. Happy Birthday to me!
Now I better go get ready for mass.  It is the Annunciation, my mother loved to tell the story of how when she found out she was pregnant with her fourth child, me, she went to church and lit a candle and prayed to Mary.  She promise her that if her baby was healthy and was a girl she would name it after her.  Mom always like to point out that I was born on Mary's most important day.  
Oops! I think I just let a secret slip.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Fixin' To

"It's never too late to be what you might have been."
Overcoming Addiction Quote by George Eliot (November 1819 - December 1880)

Day 201

Another long absence to explain/excuse away, it’s such a relief to be able to be honest and not have to cover up my drinking anymore.  Last night we were supposed to go to yet another fundraiser and I just didn’t feel like it and called my friend who was throwing it to tell her that I wasn’t going to make it, a year ago she would have assumed that I was too drunk or hungover.  Not anymore.

I’ve been busy. Busy meddling in other people’s business and busy offering unsolicited advice.  Oh, and I didn’t have any internet service for three days which nettled me to no end.  And the internet provider didn’t even call to ask for my advice, which frustrated me even further.

You see, I’m a fixer.  I love to be given a problem and asked for a solution.  Okay, maybe I’m not asked for solutions all that often but I’m always ready with one if you do ask, or even if you don’t.  Except when it comes to my own problems.  Ah-ha!  I can remember sitting on my sofa in the dark, unkempt and miserable in the midst of shaky withdrawals and telling the cap’n how much I hated “this,” how I couldn’t do it anymore, how much I hated me.  He would reply, “Fix it.”

Oh God!  How simple that solution seems now but how insurmountable it seemed then.  If you’re just starting this journey, you’re probably saying, “Tell me how, tell me how.”  If you’re where I am, you’re probably saying, “Why did it take me so long.”  And if you’ve been sober for a while, your nodding and saying, “I told you so.”

The solution is simply quit drinking.  So I quit drinking and everything is hunky-dory, right? Wrong.  Drinking is like a big road block sign warning you that there is danger ahead and that you’re better off taking the detour then hazarding the potholes and dangers that lie ahead.  For years,  I kept taking the detours and they kept taking me further and further from my destination, in the end I didn’t even remember where I wanted to go, much less how to get there.

So now I’ve climbed over the drinking road block and I’m hitting different road blocks and I have decisions to make.  I can take another detour, or change directions, or try to hitch a ride with someone and go wherever they’re going, or I can just sit there and be stuck.  OR I CAN CLIMB OVER THE DAMN THING AND START REPAIRING THE DAMN ROAD.

So last week I was sitting at one of these roadblocks, feeling trapped, and considering my options. Okay, enough already with the damn road construction, I’m going to speak plainly.  I was frustrated with a certain situation (How’s that for plain speaking?) and I was feeling trapped.  I was so sick and tired of someone else deciding what my options are.  So I decided I need to go back to work.  I mean really, here I am bellyaching and worrying about not being able to afford to live in CO and here but I won’t get off my lazy ass to support the cause?  But the problem is my ass ain’t just lazy, it’s scared.  Probably more scared than lazy.  But my ass is tired of being scared and lazy.

So I contacted some travel nursing agencies and I was actually getting past being scared to being excited while I was filling out the application packets.  One of the jobs I was really interested in was in a state that I don’t have a license in. “Just a tiny speed bump,” I thought. “All I have to do is apply for a license in that state.” WRONG!  Come to find out, in order to receive licensure in that particular state I have to prove that I have worked 520 hours in the past two years in the state I am licensed in.  I haven’t.  Major roadblock.  But not insurmountable, all I have to do is clock some hours in my home state.

I went to the website of the hospital in which I worked for 20 odd years and yes, there was an opening in the OR.  Great, right?  I wasn’t so sure.  The OR director is the same one who was my boss for a few years and we always had a good relationship….I think.  The last time I inquired about working there a few years ago, she told me that they didn’t need me, that their surgery schedule wasn’t busy enough.  That was true, but as an alcoholic, I always get to wonder if my drinking had anything to do with it.  Let me make it clear, I never went to work impaired, not unless you count hangovers, in that case I was impaired for 20 years, but I’m sure the apt description, “She’s a damn good nurse, but you know she’s a drinker” that I had heard applied to several of my esteemed colleagues was applied to me as well through the years.

I could have detoured around the discomfort of applying for a job back at this facility and applied at another facility in the state, but I really wanted to refresh my skills in a place that I was familiar with, plus, I needed a good reference from this supervisor to apply for other jobs.  So,…gulp…I emailed her about my situation and prepared to wait for the verdict.

I didn’t have to wait long. She emailed me the next morning, “I’ve been thinking about you,” she wrote, “I could really use you while some of the new staff is training”.

Alleluia! One more roadblock kicked to the ditch along with one more fear that my drinking had left more potholes to fill.

So I’m fixin’ to get my lazy, scared, old ass back to work.  There are a lot more roadblocks to get rid of before I can go back to work, and going back to work is just one more leg of the journey, but God it feels good to be back on the road. 

Damn good!  

So today I’m just out there doing by best to keep jumpin’ those roadblocks, fillin’ in the potholes and fixin’ the road that lies ahead.  I’m fixin’ to get to where I’m goin’.

P.S. In reference to the picture above, it doesn't seem to matter how far I go, I always end up back in KS.  Can someone tell me how to delete the "No Place Like Home" app in my ruby red slippers?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Beach Boogie

Day 185 of Sobriety

I had other plans for my blog today, actually I was torn between writing about newfound honesty or my plans to go back to work but I guess my Co-Writer decided nobody wanted to read about that sh%$ because when I decided to take a walk to more fully formulate my profound thoughts on the matters, he hit me right between the eyes with a “sign.”

I hadn’t gone far, actually I had just reached the end of my calle, when right in front of me was an older man making his way to the beach.  He was using a walker with wheels and you could see his legs were stiff and strictured and his progress was slow in the soft sand. Now I could stop right there and make this a whole blog about perseverance and not giving up and living your life in spite of your infirmities and burdens.

But that’s not the point.  I haven’t given you the full picture yet.  

Hanging off the front of the walker was a white plastic chair, one of the flimsy ones you see everywhere, the ones down here usually have the Modelo or Sol beer logo on the back of them.  Now I could stop here and write a blog about stopping in our struggles to take a moment to sit in the sun and enjoy its warmth on our face and know that all of the pain and hardship is worth it.

But you still haven’t got the whole picture.

Because hanging on the side of the walker was a boogie board and don’t you just know that as he pushed that stubborn sumbitch of a walker in that unrelenting sand his eyes were focused on that cool water that lay in front of him and all he could think of was that soon he would be able to move effortlessly in its merciful buoyancy and when he had swum as far and fast as he could go the waves would send him racing back to shore.  

I’m not sure of the lesson in that, I’m lazy today and I’ll let you come up with your own instead of supplying you with yet another one of my sophomoric analogies.

Oh, you still don’t have the full picture.

He was wearing a Speedo.

I’m not sure what the lesson is there either, but the complete picture makes me smile.

So today I’m just out there doing my best to get my boogie on and strut my stuff, infirmities be damned!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Girl With Kaleidoscope Eyes

At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities.
Jean Houston
Day 183
I passed the six month mark three days ago, and several very profound, I’m sure, blogs that I meant to sit down and write have escaped my brain never to return.  

My world is a kaleidoscope these days, every slight spin more and more fascinating and enthralling. This morning is made up of bright fragments of birdsong, orange and fuchsia hibiscus blossoms, the sway of palm fronds, the morning surf and warm sand.  There are fragments of expectancy, and worry, and laughter and tears in there also and as the day whirls around me they will click into their various spaces and all of it will come together to form a perfectly beautiful, ever shifting mosaic.

From Wikipedia: the word "kaleidoscope" is derived from the Ancient Greek καλός (kalos), "beautiful, beauty",[2] εἶδος (eidos), "that which is seen: form, shape"[3] and σκοπέω (skopeō), "to look to, to examine",[4] hence "observer of beautiful forms." [5]

I am an observer of beautiful forms, my life is beautiful, beauty.  This is an apt description of who I am these days.  A couple of people have commented to me in pm’s and in person that I have made sobriety seem easy, effortless, maybe too much so, but they forget I didn’t blog about or share my first 3-4 years of this struggle, or maybe they haven’t read my first year of this blog when I was still trying to moderate. But the plain truth is, my life did become so much easier, so much more effortless, when I simply quit drinking. Believe me, there are still days that the sun doesn’t shine through the end of my kaleidoscope and all of the sharp fragments look dark and gray and no amount of spinning changes the view.  But those days are the minority now, they had their time in the majority when I was drinking and I couldn’t find the sun through my constant cloud of booze.  Now I know the dark days will pass and the light will shine through again and all my brilliant little pieces will click and find their vibrant beautiful niches.

I must ever remind myself that what I hold in my hands is a fragile contraption of reflections and tiny fragile bits of me and if I am careless and drop it all those brilliant little pieces will spill onto the warm sand to be washed away by the morning surf.

So today I’m just out there doing my best to hold on tight and not let my ever spinning world make me dizzy.

P.S.  Years ago one of my favorite students gave me a kaleidoscope, he said it symbolized himself, simplicity and plainness on the outside but ever-shifting beauty on the inside.  It got lost in one of my moves and I’ve been looking for it for years. I probably gave it away when I was drunk.  I need to go buy me another kaleidoscope.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Letter To My Son

Day 179

A little background:   My oldest son is 31. He is single and hasn't had a girlfriend in quite awhile because he feels he has too many financial obligations right now to take on the expense of a girlfriend. He is very pragmatic, almost to a fault.  He has a Bachelor's degree which is one of those useless degrees (he was in a hurry to graduate because his girlfriend at the time was in another college faraway). His last single best friend just got engaged at Christmas. He lost his long-time, "going nowhere" job about 6 weeks ago and immediately lucked into a well paying but also "going nowhere" job.  In the midst of his job crisis, he applied for re-admission to K-state, he received a letter a week ago that they had accepted him in the engineering program.

This is the email I sent him yesterday.  I feel so blessed, proud, relieved, hopeful,....that I am able to say these things to him. I have been very open about my struggles with him and he has been supportive all along the way.  I am so grateful that I did not destroy my relationship with my kids, I can't change the view when they look back, but I have the opportunity to make the future outshine the past.

Hey guy,
I've been thinking about your letter from K-State, as you know I'm really into miracles these days and I think God sends us miracles every day, we just have to be looking for them and be careful not to ignore them.  Some miracles are obvious and almost blinding in their brilliance, but there are some that we have to dig for, some that take a lot of work before we can fully see their beauty.  But like diamonds, these miracles are the most valuable and the longest lasting.

I think God has been saving this miracle for you, Josh.  He was waiting until he knew you were ready to do the work for it.  He knew that now is when you could fully appreciate it, that you would do the right thing with it. All those things you thought were missing from your life will be waiting for you, he needs you to concentrate on the miracle he has given you right now.

Don't worry about how you'll be able to do it, he will provide the means.  Last night when you said you might work two years to be more set financially, my first thought was, "If God wanted you to go to school in two years, he would have waited two years to send that letter."  I'm always impatient, I want things to happen right now.  Maybe you're right and that is why God provided your current job for you, maybe it is a means for you to go in the direction He has intended for you. Just don't let yourself get distracted with everything that you think needs to be in place before you go back to school, go in search of the answer of whether to go now or later.  It's there, you just have to find it and not ignore it.

I also think that God gives us miracles, but he expects us to make them grow, to pass them on, to do good with them.  I said that God waited until now because he knew you would do the right thing with His miracle. Keep that in mind, a miracle is kind of like a pyramid scheme, the more people that benefit from it, the more reward you get.  The rewards may not be what you think you need, instead, if you take care of them and let them grow where they are supposed to, they will exceed your imagination. “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.”
― Maya Angelou

I also think God has given me the miracle of a second chance to be there to support you in a way I was not able to the first time you went to college. I don't know what the means will be or how I will obtain them but I have full faith that He will provide them.

I think if my Mom would have sent me this letter, I would think she was crazy. lol

Love you, 

He wrote me back and said that he didn't think I was crazy at all, he understood perfectly everything I said.

I am blessed!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

4:00 pm

“Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances. ”
Maya Angelou

Day 177
I have a lot of catchin’ up and a lot of ‘splainin’ to do but I can’t do it all at once.  Well, I guess I could, but I won’t, I’ll just start with the last few days.

I went to Chichen Itza and I was so excited and full of anticipation before we left, I just knew I would be filled with wonder and awe at its mysticism and majesty.  And I was except…the cap’n and I went with another couple and our housekeeper and the whole time I kept thinking, “I wish I was here by myself.”

Don’t get me wrong, I love everyone that went with me and I had fun and a lot of laughs with them but they get to drink and I don’t.  “Waaaahh!!!”  I spent the entire trip feeling envious of this fact.  Let me make it clear, I didn’t want to drink, but I was still envious.  Does that make sense?

So yesterday when I got home, I was cranky from walking around the ruins for four hours, and cranky because, once again, it was 4:00 pm and these days 4:00 is just 4:00.  While everybody else can look forward to 4:00 pm, or whatever time they designate to start drinking, I no longer have that sense of anticipation about any hour of the day.  I knew yesterday when our guide was droning on and on, the other members of my party were thinking about when they could get to a cold cervaza.  And I was jealous.  Even though I knew they were suffering slight hangovers, I envied them that expectation of relief and reward.  Diet Pepsi just doesn't have the same allure.

I was still cranky when I entered the mmabsers chatroom last night and I whined to everybody about it.  A little later, another “chatter” stated that she wanted to go back to abs’ing but she was scared to death about going through withdrawal, she’d gone through it before and her heart did those funny things that hearts like to do when you quit giving them what they want. They get cranky, too. I started describing my withdrawal experiences and tactics and I advised that I always made sure I drank lots of liquids with potassium because I couldn’t eat when I was withdrawing and would literally go days without eating.  I said that I sometimes drank the tomato based juices but I always worried that when I threw up, (that’s a  “when” not an “if)”, I wouldn’t be able to tell if I was throwing up blood.

I looked at that line after I typed it.  I was incredulous.  Had I really, just minutes before, been bitching and moaning because I didn’t have “happy hour” to look forward to anymore.  Really?  

No, 4:00 pm is nothing special anymore but I’ve got every f’ing hour of the day back to look forward to and that is a freakin’ miracle.  And I better never ever forget it.

So today I’m just out there doing my best to remind myself of the wonder and awe that is hidden in every second of every "bless my lucky stars" day .

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Alive and Well

Day 172

I used to get so disappointed when my favorite bloggers quit writing their blogs and moved on, thank you Pammie and Mary Christine for staying the course, I always thought that their sobriety had quit being a priority, that it was no longer at the forefront of their life and they had better things to do after a couple of years in sobriety.  Now I know that is not true, instead they just get too darn busy.

No, I'm not going to quit writing this blog, as a matter of fact after a couple of weeks of letting it fade to the background, I realize that I once again need to make it a priority in my day to day life.  I feel myself slipping.  Not slipping back into drinking but slipping in my appreciation of this new life I've been given and slipping in my responsibilities to my fellow passengers on this journey, and slipping in my efforts towards my spiritual and physical well-being.  And I know that if I let those things slip away again, I will fall.

Nothing bad has been going on, I've just been busy picking up those scattered pieces of my old life and trying to make them fit into my new one. It's looking a little chaotic and there are still a few pieces missing (Stanley probably ate them) and I need help figuring out where they all go. So tomorrow is the start of a new week and a renewing of my old resolve and I'll be back to pestering you on a regular basis.