Wednesday, May 31, 2017

How The Heck Are You 5/31: Magic and Dark Spells

I'm enjoying a streak of happiness and I'm going to enjoy it for all it's worth while it lasts. Now, if I were to go back and look at my posts of a week ago, I would probably roll my eyes at my dramatics, but that's how quickly we can change and why we so often tell each other to hang on just one more day. So many things can change in a day or a week or a minute. We see this all the time in the recovery realm, people who feel completely hopeless one day, can become totally different people in the space of a week-it's magic and the magic is brought about by sobriety, whether you reach that sobriety by not drinking at all or by drinking within the limits you have set for yourself.

I had at least three different conversations yesterday with people who have struggled with their drinking for a long time, and the common thread was perplexity. These brilliant people just couldn't figure out why they drink when they don't want to, when they know they feel better and happier when they don't drink. We decided the most logical explanation is that alcohol casts a dark spell over us and ensnares us. (these were people who wanted to quit drinking completely). The only way to break the spell is to not drink. Duh. I guess the point is, we're probably never going to understand it, but, thank God, we don't have to understand it to break the spell.

And, on another note, I ran across some interesting websites yesterday I thought might give some food for thought. These sites may cause some controversy for those who have found or are finding sobriety through traditional methods but I'm a big believer that everyone has to find what works for them instead of trying to make something work for them.  I listened to Beej, our MM member who is a Harm Reduction and Mindful Meditation Coach-(podcast coming soon to the MM website) and she said if she could tell people who are looking for help one thing it would be to approach recovery with curiosity. Explore it. It's going to be the rest of your life, you need to make it what you want it to be.

And here's Beej's website:

How The Heck Are You?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

How The Heck Are You 5/30/2017: Predictability is Under Appreciated

Just a gentle reminder

Good morning all! I seem to be in a serene period right now, God knows I needed it. Funny how that happens, how I can get pushed to my limit, to the point that I'm ready to give up, make a plan to give up, then everything smooths out and, once again, I feel like I can go on fighting.

Kind of like when I can't stand my hair any longer so I make a hair appointment and then the day of the appointment my hair looks better than it has in months. Kind of like when I was trying to figure out this drinking thing, I'd be ready to throw the towel  in (although I don't think you can ever do that once you start this fight), then I'd have one small victory, or more often, one more horrendous fallout from drinking and I'd decide I had more fight left in me. Those horrendous fallouts may have seemed like failures but usually they were the impetus I  needed to change...until I got enough sober rewards to stack up against them.

I think one reason things have seemed calmer in my world is that I'm back in a routine. This last winter in Mexico was somewhat chaotic, packing up and moving from place to place every few weeks. Now, I know I have months in front of me in which I don't plan on going anywhere. I can do my morning routine of saying my rosary and writing my morning pages, taking my bath, walking the dog... Routine grounds me and, for me, after years of the chaos of getting drunk every night and being hungover every morning, it is a privilege I never take for granted. Just last night I marveled, once again, at the fact that I actually have a bedtime routine.

Boy, I'm gabby this morning. Your turn, how the heck are you?

Monday, May 29, 2017

How The Heck Are You? Memorial Day 2017: Freedom

I've been whining a lot lately about being trapped and feeling helpless, but the fact is, I've never been trapped, I've always had the choice to stand up for myself, to fight! Sometimes I just chose not to. For many years, I convinced myself I was imprisoned by alcohol, but I never was, I just chose not to fight my way out of my prison. Then, when I finally decided to fight my way out, I surrendered, many times, and I convinced myself that I wasn't strong enough, that I'd never win, that the fight was hopeless, that I might as well give up, even that I didn't even really want to win. All so I could surrender and drink, because that was easier than fighting.

There was no enemy, no jailer, no locked door, no gun to my head keeping me in misery, I chose to keep myself imprisoned, I chose to not fight for myself. Oh, don't get me wrong, there were opponents, almost too many to count-addiction, habit, relationships, regrets,  fear, lack of self-esteem, lack of self-love, lack of commitment, ....if I wanted I could conjure up as many opponents necessary to convince myself that the battle was lost, I might as well just surrender and drink.

And, that's what I did over and over and it took sighting death in my very near future to finally stand up and truly fight for my life and to keep standing up and refusing to surrender. That's what it took for me to be a soldier for myself. I am in awe of you that fought your way to freedom earlier and I salute you. But in the end it doesn't matter who wins early and who wins late, because the battle is all our own, we are fighting alone. We aren't fighting for others and they can't fight for us, as much as we want them to, as much as we keep waiting for someone to step forward and pull us over the line to freedom, it's never going to happen because we have to cross that line all on our own. The soldiers on the field with us and the veterans on the other side can't fight our battles for us, they can't save us, unlike "real" soldiers on a battlefield, they can't throw themselves on a bomb to save us. We have to finally climb out of our foxholes and fight our way, all the way, without backing down and without going back. Freedom from drinking is an individual privilege, you have to earn it, but all you have to do is choose it. Every day. Over and over.

Today is Memorial Day, a day to honor soldiers who fight for freedom. I'm going to continue to fight for mine and I challenge you to stand up and fight for yours beside me. I can't fight your battle and you can't fight mine but we can keep reminding each other to keep fighting.

Today, I'm feeling courageous and grateful, how the heck are you?

Friday, May 26, 2017

How The Heck Are You Roster 5/26/2017: Home

These little boys are too-cool teenagers now.

I am so loving being back here at my cabin. Went for a walk yesterday and actually broke into tears when I saw a trout darting around in our little pond. So many memories of grandkids catching their first fish here and me wading into freezing water to rescue bobbers from the bobber-eating tree. For all my big talk of finding some place else to live, I don't know if I could.

Making plans to see the first batch of kids and grandkids over the weekend. That's the thing with marriages, they don't just involve two people. For today, I'm going to enjoy what I have and not focus about what I could have.

How the heck are you?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

How The Heck Are You Roster 5/25: Bring It On!

Good morning all! Have been traveling back to the states in the last two days and today I will finally get home to my cabin in the woods. I can't wait, although I'm not sure how long I'll stay there. I'll be off to see the kids and grandkids, probably next week and then...well, I don't know. I have a few places I want to explore. Sunflower made the comment at Abs Chat last night that her husband-who has joined her in her abs quest, lucky girl-said, "We are starting a new chapter in our life." I'm ready for a new chapter and I'd love the cap'n to join me, but if he doesn't, I can't keep re-writing the same old chapter. I don't want to spend the rest of my life dealing with a drinking problem, his or mine.

I am excited and hopeful this morning, more than anything. Change is coming and putting it here in front of you guys helps me commit to that change. We are never stuck, no matter how how big the wall in front of us is, usually all it takes is removing one brick and the rest of the wall starts coming down, or at least it opens a window onto what's waiting for us on the other side.

How the heck are you?

P.S. Thanks to all of you who wrote and offered your support. I love you all. But, one thing this recovery journey keeps teaching us is that change is hard and scary as shit, but, boy, is it worth it!

Monday, May 22, 2017

How The Heck Are You 5/22/17: Another One Of Those, "Life's Too Short" Posts

Can't really say how I am this morning, a little tired, a little depressed, but also hopeful and excited? I kind of remind myself of me when I decided to do something about my drinking problem-I feel beaten by my current circumstances and I am at the point I know I have to surrender this battle and I need to move onto battles I can win. Things have to change. "Have to" not, "should" or "I wish the would" they "have to" change. Without going into detail about what those circumstances are, I'll just say I am having more and more difficulty being happy, and I am one of those fortunate people that generally have a positive sunny outlook, so I need to go unearth that part of me again. So, we leave day after tomorrow to return to the states and I have made my mind up to embark on an exploration of how and where I actually want to live the rest of my life, or at least for the next year or two. Because life really is too short to live it unhappily.

I know this is very vague, but I'll keep you posted.

On that note, How The Heck Are You?

Friday, May 19, 2017

How The Heck Are You 5/19: Regrets Revisited

“The key question to keep asking is, Are you spending your time on the right things? Because time is all you have. ” 
― Randy PauschThe Last Lecture

I've been thinking a lot about my How The Heck Are You post from yesterday, and questioning if I was being honest about my regrets. The thing about regrets, is once you start tracing them back, wishing you'd done something different, it never stops. If I'd never started drinking at all, I wouldn't be the person I am now and I finally like the person I am now. Would I like the person I would be if I hadn't struggled with drinking? Would I be as proud of myself? Would I choose not to fight as hard for things I want because I didn't know I was strong enough?

See what I mean?

I stumbled across the quote above this morning when I was looking for the daily MM facebook post and I guess I would have to say that I wish I hadn't spent as much time fighting to keep drinking. Because, while I might have lived more life in the 30+ years I drank, I've grown more in the 6 years since I quit. 

But, then again, I realize I needed every one of those struggles and battles to come to the decision I made to quit.

See what I mean?

 So...ok, one regret-I wish I would have reached out for help earlier, I wish I hadn't struggled so long on my own because it was the support of others reminding me to keep going that kept me on the path I needed to be on.

Thank you guys, I love you.

How The Heck Are You?

Thursday, May 18, 2017

How The Heck Are You 5/18/2017: Demon Rum? Not The Way I Remember It

Some people who are vacationing down the beach from us stopped in for some drinks and conversation yesterday afternoon and stayed and stayed and stayed, so I got very little done that I had intended to get done. That's ok, because all the while they were drinking I was thinking, at least I won't be hungover tomorrow so I'll be able to catch up. Can't begin to tell you how much of a  difference that makes in the stress level. Of course, if I'd been drinking, I would have just told myself that getting drunk was worth it, because make no mistake I would have gotten drunk, then today I'd be full of self-disgust and in a panic because God knows how long the hangover would last-at the end of my drinking they could last a week-and I only have four days left to get everything ready to go back to the states...And, I can honestly say I didn't miss drinking for one second yesterday, never even thought about it even though it was going on all around me. I still find that a miracle after all these years.

The woman was a natural moderator-she had one glass of wine and got happy. I joked and told her, "You're who I wanted to be when i grew up" but the truth is I never wanted to be that kind of drinker, I wanted to be the gal who could drink with the big boys and tell raunchy jokes and shoot pool and scratch where it itches no matter who was looking-and I was very successful at all of that for many, many years-except shooting pool, I always sucked. There is a part of those years I regret-I now know that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't drink like I did and be as good a parent as I wanted-but other than that, which I agree is huge, I don't really regret the years I drank.  It was fun and I made a lot of good friends and i would have kept doing it if it would have remained fun, or for me, if drinking hadn't started trying to kill me.I have a problem with books or programs that demonize alcohol and tell us it has no role in life except as a destroyer of lives. I disagree. Some recovery organizations and recovered people spend so much time trying to convince us, people who love/loved drinking, that it's a horrible thing, alcohol, and all those years must have been horrible years no matter what they felt like when they were happening, after all that hell it should be easy to give up the demon drink, and we must recognize what a horrible presence it was in our lives. But that's the problem for most of us, we don't view all the time we spent drinking as horrible and destructive because it wasn't, not all of it, for some of us, not any of it was destructive but we recognize it might be heading that way.

Here is how I look at my relationship with drinking, we had a good time and when we no longer enjoyed being together and I recognized it was never going to get better, we were never going to be able to go back to what we were before, it was time to part ways. But I do have fond memories.

How The Heck Are You?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

How The Heck Are You 5/17: Write It Down!

Pretty darn good. Yesterday, I stuck to Pierre's regimen of writing down my priorities and dividing them into 3 "hard" tasks (tasks at the top of my priorities) and 3 soft (tasks I wanted to get done but I could let slide for a day or two). I didn't accomplish everything on the list, but I completed the ones that were most important to me, which are also the ones that I have the hardest time facing. Not because I don't enjoy them, really, but because I don't think I'm up to the task. The hardest tasks are the ones in which I challenge myself. No surprise there.

It's amazing the power that writing a goal down has for me. So simple, yet for some reason, it grounds me and gives me a roadmap for the day, from the minute I write it, I know it's there, waiting for me to reach it.  Oh yeah sure, I used to write down "I will not drink today" over and over, day after day, and didn't reach it the majority of the time. But it was there waiting for me. Goading me. Reminding me I still wanted it.

Yesterday I reached my goal which makes reaching for it again today so much more possible which makes everything seem so much more possible. I find that to be true concerning just about everything, dieting, exercise, NOT DRINKING! If I can get one day under my belt, I'm off and running. The power of ONE DAY is amazing too. ONE DAY! That's all it takes to turn the direction of your life. I know it's schmaltzy and some people will say over simplified and over used in the recovery world but I'm calling bullshit on that. That which is necessary cannot be simplified too much or used too much. Today could be the ONE DAY that I'll look back and point at and say, "Right here, on May 17, that's the day everything began to change."

Today is one of those days when the world seems to be an open door and I just need to walk through. Tomorrow I might come up against some doors I have to push open or pick the lock on to get to where I want to go. Tomorrow I may not reach my goal, but I'll keep writing it down so I don't forget how much I want it.

How the Heck Are You?

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

How The Heck Are You? Roster 5/16//2017

I have been posting almost daily "How The Heck Are You?" reports on the various message boards I participate on and I thought, "What the heck? Why don't I just share them over on my blog at the same time and give some of my old friends over there a chance to chime in with how they're doing too? Kicks me out of the guilt cellar for neglecting my blog and gives me a chance to stay in touch with the first community I joined on this journey. So here goes:

Been down in the dumps for the last few days and can't really pinpoint why. I'm looking forward to getting back to Colorado and the states and kids and grandkids and good beef. I'm going to throw a roast in the oven the minute I walk in the door, we can find steaks down here in MX and hamburger but I've never found a roast. I love the smell of one cooking all day in the oven and it's always cool enough where we live in Colorado that the added heat from the oven will be welcome.

All my kids called on Mother's Day. i know that sounds like it's not that big of a deal, most mother's kids call on Mother's Day, but on Mother's Day seven years ago, I spent most the day convincing myself that it would be okay if my kids didn't call, that I understood, they were busy, I'm hard to get hold of....then, I finally asked myself, "When did I get to the point that I was accepting of the possibility of my kids not calling?" How had my relationship with my kids reached the point that they might not want to call me on Mother's Day? It was on that Mother's Day that I decided no matter what, by the next Mother's Day, I may not be assured that my kids would call, but I would be assured of the fact that I had done everything within my power to return my relationship with my children to the level at which it had once stood, before I let my drinking convince me that it was ok not to put my relationship with my kids first. It was that Mother's Day that I decided that, even if I had to go to AA, my drinking would no longer stand between me and the things I wanted most, one of them being a close relationship with my children. It was that Mother's Day that I took my first "step." I wasn't sober by the next Mother's Day, but I had spent that year wrestling with my drinking problem with all my might and learning and repairing myself. It wasn't pretty, not at all. War never is. War is never won without losing a battle or two or hundred. War is only lost if we surrender.

My youngest son texted me this year, "Mom I love you more than you'll ever know. I'm so thankful for who you are and the mistakes you've made." I'm not sure how to take that. In one way I wish I was the mother whose kids didn't admire her because of her mistakes, in another way, as I replied back to him, if my mistakes made it so my kids feel like they can talk to me about anything, i'm happy.

That Mother's Day seven years ago, was a turning point for me, a day when I said, by next year at this time I will be a different person, a person who is doing everything she can to become a person she wants to be. And, a year later, while it may not have looked like it, even to me, I was becoming that person. This year I am making the same promise to myself. "Next Mother's Day, I may not yet be the person I want to be, but I will know I'm doing everything within my power to become that person.

How the Heck Are You?