Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Spirit Sisters

Finally, my first sober jewelry.  Thank you, Kathy. I love you!
I read a post on the mmabsers board this morning in which the member asked, "Who was the hardest person to tell that you were giving up drinking."  I thought about this and I thought back to how ashamed I was when I first started this journey, how I hid my first steps.  I lurked on the message boards, I cruised the sober blogs (I did this for years before I ever took my first step, or maybe that was my first step) always looking over my shoulder to make sure that the cap'n couldn't see what I was doing.  
There was another post on another message board the other day in which the member posted, "I don't want to be an alcoholic. Is that wrong?"  I had to laugh a little, this is what I replied to that post.

There's a funny metamorphosis that happens as you recover, at first you come in all ashamed, lurking on the message boards, afraid to post, hiding what you're doing on the computer from your SO, acting like your drinking when you're not around friends, ordering fancy fake NA drinks so nobody knows that you're confronting your problems.  Then as you get stronger, the shame slinks away and all of a sudden you are so proud of what you've accomplished, because it's a big f'ing deal, that you find yourself wanting to tell the carry-out boy at the grocery store that you're a recovering alcoholic.  Alcoholism is a disease or an addiction, not a badge of shame, depends on what you do about it.
Shame is one more barrier that alcohol throws up to keep us in its prison.  Break through! Break through!  You will be amazed at the number of people that are holding sledgehammers on the other side ready to help you and fight for you.  Ready to be so damn proud of you.
This is a letter I received from my sister, Kathy, the day before yesterday.
Sometimes I think about you and I cry---like right now, because I'm sitting here thinking how I admire your warrior spirit towards all your personal causes.
I think you're strong because you are kind and generous.  I think you are strong because of your gentle soul.
You are unique, brave witty and a gift.  I'm grateful to be your sister.  Although we do not call one another best friends, we are sisters.
I often mourn my absence from your life over the years and not being there for you in dark times.  I hope you know it was never intentional.  It has been my great loss.
You have told your stories in such a brave way and made me want to be brave even when I think I no longer can or want to be.
Enclosed is a necklace that I wear to remind me of you and the sister who truly embodies its message.  I hope when you wear it, you will think of us as "spirit" sisters on the same path to getting to the other side of all our fears.
Much love...kathy.
Break through to find your spirit sister or brother waiting for you on the other side and holding out a hand to pull you through.
Love you, sis! 

Friday, October 25, 2013


Several people have asked me how I managed to quit drinking and I always tell them that I had to find something or someone that I loved more than drinking.  These are my someone's.  Four years ago, I was asked to take charge of the Chelem Toy Drive and I knew  I couldn't do it and still drink.  I wish I could say I quit right away, I didn't but eventually my love for these kids, my love for my own kids and my renewed love for myself gave me the impetus to quit and stay quit.  I love them!  This is what I'll be busy doing until December 25.  I'll be busy begging for money, begging for raffle prizes, begging for toys.  And I love every minute of it.  If you want to keep up with the Chelem Christmas Dreams Toy Drive check out our Chelem Christmas Toy Drive Facebook Page and our Chelem Christmas Dreams Blog.

P.S. If you'd like to spend a couple days laying on the beach check out the raffle page on our blog.  Sorry, but I'm shameless when it comes to these kids.

Monday, October 21, 2013


The cap'n took me to a Moody Blues concert last week and I have to tell you, it did more to make me feel young than a facelift could.  I told the cap'n, "You know the lines in the bathroom aren't near as long when most the people in the audience are wearing Depends."  Even Graeme Edge, the drummer, said, "I can remember when all I could smell wafting up from the audience was grass, now all I smell is Ben-Gay."  He should talk, he's 72.  OMG!!

Seriously, it wasn't quite what I remember concerts being like.  There were no drunks passed out before the show began.  No stoned topless girls weaving around on someone's shoulders, although there were some Medicare enrollees still out there doing their best to re-live the 60's.

It was all a little bit...sad.

It's funny how our minds get nostalgic about things like that.  Things like getting drunk and stoned and making a fool of ourselves.  Funny how we look back and rank those times as the best times of our lives.

I'll admit I was pissed off the whole day before just thinking about the concert.  Not the fact that it was the Moody Blues and I can only think of two of their songs that I like (If I never hear Nights in White Satin again, I will rejoice.) No, it wasn't the band that pissed me off.  I was pissed off because I couldn't drink.

There are trade-offs to this sober lifestyle.  One of them, for me, is that I'm never again going to "feel" the music as I did when I was drinking.  I'm never going to again say, "Oh my God, I looove this song.  This is my favorite song ever."  Over and over to every song that comes up on the playlist.

I miss that.  I really, really do.  And when I go to a concert, I want to feel that.  I want to drink.  But I can't.  Some people would say, "Don't go to concerts then."  Really?  

I have to keep in mind those trade-offs.  They add up to a whole lot more than getting drunk.  Here are some of the trade-offs to attending the concert sober last week.

1. The music was great and I really could appreciate it.
2. I know I wasn't one of those wild haired, tie-dyed weirdos bobbing and weaving and refusing to sit down like the Janis Joplin wannabe in front of me.  (Now I really sound like a bore.)
3. I was able to stroll the 16th street Mall in Denver afterwards because I wasn't so drunk that I needed to get back to the hotel to pass out.
4. I had a lovely memorable meal after the concert.
5. I felt great the next morning and was able to enjoy a fall day in downtown Denver without a hangover.

Tomorrow night I'm going to see Jimmy Buffet, time to check that item off of my bucket list.  I'm not worried, I know the trade-off's to staying sober, payoff is a more apt term, will be far greater than getting drunk.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Letting The Other Voices Speak

Last night I couldn't find the can opener.  I had looked in every utensil drawer, the dishwasher and tunneled to the bottom of the dirty dishes in the sink.  The cap'n has been gone for two weeks and the dirty dishes are out numbering the clean ones 3-1.  I finally opened every drawer in my tiny kitchen and found the can opener nestled among the dish towels.  Then I finished fixing my drink
and put the bowl of ice that I keep in the freezer on the floor in front of Mr. Stanley's dish.

Early dementia setting in? Quite possible.  Drinking again?  Hell, no!!!

It's these voices in my head that won't shut up and let me concentrate.

You see, I have this running monologue going on in my head whether I'm drunk or sober.  I guess everyone does.  You do, don't you? It's not just me that can't quit listening to my own self speak, is it?

These last few weeks, up here all alone in my cabin, it's the characters in my book that occupy my head.  Yeah, I'm still writing a book, but at least it's the same book and not another abandoned pile of scribbled notes to add to the piles of fledgling manuscripts I have stuffed in every drawer and cranny around here.

It is so refreshing to have other voices occupying my brain space these days, voices that have new things to say.  Good things to say.

For too long, an embarrassment of years, I had the same voices saying the same things, over and over and over and.....

"God, why did I do this again?" "Never again." Okay, just one."  Okay, just one more."  What the fuck, who cares?"....

I'll stop there, but I was just getting started on the  deafening monologue that played out day after day.  Most of you know that song by heart and can sing along.

Then, for awhile, there was a siege of different voices saying, "You can't do this."  "Just have one." "You can handle it this time." "You don't really want to live a life without booze, do you?" "What kind of life is that?" "Boring!"  "You don't want to turn into one of those people, do you?" "Come on, just have one."  "No one will ever know."  Blahdee, Blahdee, Blah, Blah.....

Then other voices started speaking up, they'd been there all along and now that the booze manifested voices were dying a slow, albeit lingering, death, this was their chance to say what they'd been waiting to say.

They said things like.  "Wow, look at that sunrise. Thank you, God." "You're strong enough to do this."  "You're amazing." "Look at you!"  "I'm so proud of you."  "OMG! I love those shoes."  "I think next fall I'll visit France." (I'm really going to do this one.) "Life's too short."  "I want to do it all." "I can do this." "You could be the next Danielle Steele." (Cringe.)

The new voices speak of possibilities and promise, chances to be taken and things to be discovered.

Finally there is room in my head for them. 

That's why I'm now able to hear the hero of my story, Blade, explain to the heroine, Sassy,  that he's sorry that he slept with her twin sister, Ilean, the one who'd lost a leg in a tragic mud wrestling accident years earlier. 

"I thought it was you," Blade swore on the family trailer park, but he had to admit, he could tell there was something missing.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Voice

No, this isn't about Cee-Lo, Blake, Christina, and Adam, although I just started watching "The Voice" and I love it.  I have to say, "Adam is HOT!"

But instead I'm going to talk about the voice that swayed me off of the MM Moderation message board over to mmabsers and sobriety.  Colonel Parker, cp as he is commonly known on the boards, was a constant peaceful and serene voice amidst the chaos of counting drinks and planning abs days and moderation days and all the mindfucking that went on in my head when I was trying to learn to control that thing that had been controlling my life since my first drink.

He made it sobriety sound so...calm.  As it is.

Here is at what he recently shared about Joy.  I love it, I hope you do too.

One of the things that was discussed in Abs Chat this week was
happiness. Several of us talked about how we felt that was our
purpose. Two of the biggest benefits I have gotten from quitting
drinking are peace and joy. It's worth noting that is not what I expected
to happen particularly on the joy front.
Part of the problem that I have had is that I confused joy or happiness
with exuberance or ecstasy. I associated the buzz I got from drinking with
a happy feeling. I like happiness. A lot. So I chased it. Tried to hold it.
Each time it slipped away like mercury. The tighter I tried to grasp it the more
elusive it became.
When I quit drinking I fully expected a drab, boring, dry (haha) existence.
I was sure that my happiness had come to an end.
But something very unexpected happened. After going through withdrawal
and beginning to heal I began to experience a lifting of depression and
the fading of anxiety. I didn't trust it. I felt like it would only be a short
matter of time before the other shoe dropped and I was overcome by
depression,anxiety, sadness and would go rushing to a bottle. But it didn't
happen. Instead my joy increased. Beyond what I had ever experienced
One of the things that happened besides just the sheer physicality of
quitting was that I had to put in place certain changes in my perceptions
and thought and actions in order to remain sober. But each of these things
not only strengthened my sobriety but increased my joy.
My drinking was characterized by self-indulgence. My thinking was always
what's in it for me. That for me is poison. Instead I began to counteract that
by practicing joy. It arose out of letting go of selfishness and becoming
generous. I felt joy at others success and release of stress. I stopped thinking
of me so much and started thinking of others. Again, I didn't expect the
result. Drinking had caused me to collapse in on myself. Now my world became
more open, free, spacious.
Joy can be cultivated. It is not the buzzy, heady leap of getting what I want
nor is it dependent on nothing going wrong. It doesn't matter. It is natural
that both will occur. Joy is letting go of all that and just being satisfied.
My thoughts .
I like what Nagarjuna had to say about joy.

If there is a remedy when trouble strikes,
What reason is there for despondency?
And if there is no help for it,
What is the use of being sad?

So come what may, I'll never harm
My cheery happiness of mind.
Depression never brings me what I want;
My virtue will be warped and marred by it.

P.S.  If anyone is interested in joining us for abs chat tonight send me a pm at and I'll give you details on how to get there.  Also, someone pm'd me that they were unable to comment on my blog from the Safari Browser and since I haven't been able to comment on my own blog from IE for years, I think I need to fix this glitch.  If you're having problems commenting, could you drop me a line at the above gmail account.  Thanks.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

An Apology

To a friend out there:
That would have been like someone coming up to me and saying, "Why don't you just quit drinking?"  Yeah, right like I hadn't thought of that.  Neither helpful nor compassionate.  Lo siento, amiga.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

We Are A Village

“Was it you or I who stumbled first? It does not matter. The one of us who finds the strength to get up first, must help the other.”
Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

Sometimes I don't  have the right words, sometimes I don't reach everyone I'd like to, and sometimes, hey, people just don't jive with what I'm saying.  That's why I'm so thankful that I have this whole community of bloggers out there to turn to and to rely on.  One of us is going to be able to say what needs to be said in a way that gets through, when others can't.  Yesterday I shared Christy's Word's for the Weekend, not just here, but on my fb page and also on several message boards that I am active on.  I had a message back this morning from one of the members that said, "Thanks Kary, this post literally got me through a white knuckle moment."  Yay!

Then.....I have a friend that I love but he too holds great affection for all things alcoholic, just like me.  He's been confronting it and I'm so proud that he has turned to AA for help and even though he hasn't found complete success yet (does anybody know of anyone that was able to succeed the first time they quit?  I'm curious.) he keeps at it.  We all know that's what is important.  I had contacted him a few weeks ago on fb chat but hadn't heard back and the first thought I had, as usual, was "Did I do something to piss him off?"  That's my fall back first reaction, a relic of my drinking past.  Then I remembered how I was whenever I "relapsed" and was ashamed to face others in the recovery community.  I just didn't want to hear it.  I already had a constant thrum of "loser, loser, loser, sounding in my brain.  Anyone's kind display of concern was just going to make it worse.  Yesterday I saw that my nephew was on fb chat and I thought, "What the hell. Ruth, my mom, is gonna be pissed at me if I don't reach out."  So I typed in, "Hey you, what's up?"  Then I got up to do something and while I was putzing I decided,  Ok, I'll just ask, "Did I do something to piss you off?"  I just can't let go of that.  But when I got back to the computer, my nephew had replied with a request that I call him.

So, of course, I did.  We had a great conversation.   He's back in AA and in the course of our conversation we both talked about how we had dodged the DUI bullet, and we'd always thought it was just waiting for us around the corner.  I hung up and was reading the blogs and "Whammy" there was Paul's blog The Verdict describing in great detail the nightmare my friend and I had just been discussing.  The "yet" we knew was waiting for us if we kept drinking.  So, of course, I sent the link to him.  Another great phone conversation followed.

Then...last night I'm on fb again.  No, I don't live on it as the cap'n claims,  I just check it a couple million times a day.  A woman that I met briefly years ago had seen my link on fb to the article on the Sober Nation Facebook Page and she'd been reading my blog.  Could she call me?  I have to admit, I hesitated, not because I don't want to talk to her, but because I'm afraid I won't have the right words.  I can only share my experience and that may not be the one that touches her, the one that gives her the foundation to build her own new life on.

That's where you step in, amigos.  I know that if I don't have the words, one of you will.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Some More Fellow Travelers

I never miss checking out my friend Christy's Word's for the Weekend blogs on her Running on Sober Site. They are always profound and cool, but this weekend's quotes and music blew me away.  Just more proof that we are not alone out there, in our persons, in our thoughts or in our hearts.  Check it out.  And no, I'm not shirking my duties to write a blog, if I could think of anything more meaningful than what these people have already said, I would.  But I can't. 

Thank you Christy for doing this every weekend.

Words for the Weekend: Squeeky Clean and Sober Edition

Friday, October 4, 2013

Tomorrow: Whaddaya Gonna Do About It?

We must always look to the future. Tomorrow - the time that gives a man just one more chance - is one of the many things that I feel are wonderful in life. So's a good horse under you. Or the only campfire for miles around. Or a quiet night and a nice soft hunk of ground to sleep on. A mother meeting her first-born. The sound of a kid calling you dad for the first time. There's a lot of things great about life. But I think tomorrow is the most important thing. Comes in to us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday.  ---John Wayne

That's the Big Man talking up there.  God, my dad loved him.  He's right you know, every day we have a new chance.  What are we going to do with this brand spankin' new day?  How many more tomorrows are we going to waste?

A lone campfire for miles is a wonderful thing, he's right about that, too.  It's snowing up here today and I've got a fire going and I hope it doesn't let up for days.  I hope I don't see anyone for days.  Used to be, I'd drink those days away, but now I think I'll just savor the quiet and calm and beauty.

Of course, we're never really alone these days, with our cell phones and internet.  I came out of the closet about this blog the other day when I put a link to that article I wrote for sober nation on my "real" facebook page.  It was scary.  I'd already "come out" on fb on my two year soberversary, but my blog was my one piece of anonymity I was holding on to.  No more.

There was a major influx of hits on this blog the day the article was published and there was a flurry of well wishes and pats on the back on my facebook page but all of that has already died down.  That's ok. 

That's not why I wrote the article. 

A couple of people commented on my fb post that the article resonated with them, there were a couple of pm's from people asking that I pray for them, and I've gained a couple of more followers to my blog.

That's why I wrote the article.  In the hope that just one more person would gain the courage to reach out and realize they didn't have to do it on their own.

There's a whole bunch of campfires out there.   Welcome.

Damn, the sun just came out.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013