Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Today I am grateful for:

1. As always, my sobriety.
2. A faith in something bigger than me.
3. A week with happy, healthy and delightfully normal grandkids.
4. Good old friends who open their home and heart to me.
5. Tiramisu for breakfast-that's why it has coffee in it, right?

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Dos Milagros

I've been spending spring break with the grandkids. Lucky kids, they have a grandma who poo-poo's theme parks and resorts, so they get to spend spring break in my old home town, Liberal, KS. Ok, in my defense, it was the easiest place to get them all together and their bachelor uncle loves having his nephews and niece invade his house for the week (the kids love it because he has all the expensive video game gadgets their parents can't afford because they have kids) and the parents love it because they get a week to themselves.
So, I was sitting in his living room this morning, pre-dawn, with one grandkid stretched out sleeping on the couch, saying my rosary and going through my litany of things to be grateful for. I got to my sobriety and I realized that a miracle had occurred actually two. The first was that I was sitting there pre-dawn with a house full of grandkids that their parents entrusted to my care, which would not have happened had I not quit drinking. The second one takes a little more 'splainin'.
See, in preparation for this teenage male invasion, my son loaded up his fridge with junk food, so much so that there is no room for ice. So, he stationed an igloo cooler outside just for ice, except, Friday night, before we arrived on Saturday, a friend stopped by and filled the cooler full of beer. There were still 18 beers in there when we arrived. Now, there are 17.
The miracle I realized this morning is that as I have been going back and forth at least a half dozen times a day to fill my glass with ice, I never once have thought about having one of those beers. The thought of them sitting out there hasn't dogged me all my waking hours, in fact, they haven't even crossed my mind. The other day, when I went to grab one for my old drinking biddy who stopped by, I never even considered grabbing one for myself, in fact, I didn't have one wistful thought about how much I miss the old days.
The obsession ends. It is replaced with something I hesitate to call normalcy because it feels like so much more.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

A Little More Treble, A Lot Less Bass

Image result for Drop the bass meme

Overcast and cool here today. I walked down to the market for my morning empanada de carne and I was one of the first ones there, the fruit and veggie vendors were still sitting up their stand but the grease was already hot in the empanada pan. Walking home, amidst the dogs still sleeping amidst the trash in the streets (Mexico has many virtues, but cleanliness is not one), I had to remind myself to say "Thanks." So I started my litany of things I had to be grateful for: I was walking, I was eating, I was seeing, I was sober....Which led me to wonder, way back when I was trying to quit, did I spend the days I woke up sober wallowing in gratitude, pride and happiness to the extent that I wallowed in shame, self-anger and disgust on the days I woke up after drinking the night before.
The answer is, "No." Oh, believe me, I felt pretty good about myself and those first hangover-free mornings were like a miracle to me every single sunrise, but I didn't spend all day gloating about how great I was or patting myself on the back because I was such a success. But, the days after I drank, I didn't just wallow, I buried myself in a stinky pile of self-hate and loathing that would take me days to dig out from under.
Why do we do that?
Why do we acknowledge our success but then kind of shrug it off and get on with our day but when we fail we become almost paralyzed in our disappointment in ourselves?
Maybe we need to adjust our settings-a little more treble and a lot less bass.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Audience of One

"There is no faster way to create enduring unhappiness than to act against your beliefs."

One phrase in the "Best Lent Ever" podcast really caught my attention today. "We should live our lives for an audience of one." I had just finished up posting a message to a long-time friend of mine on the MMListserv, a girl that I held virtual hands with as she weaned herself off alcohol. She and I have come a long way since then and she has become one of the most dynamic, self-assured women I know. Through her messages, I can see how much she values herself these days. She wrote this morning that an old friend is coming to visit her and she worried about he'll expect of her. It made me think of how much we worry about what our friends think when we first try to quit drinking or change our drinking in any way, it's as if they are an audience we have invited to watch our life and we are playing a role for them, even though we know, offstage, we are a totally different person. I don't know about you, but I'm kind of disappointed that Val Kilmer isn't Doc. Holliday in real life. We don't want people to be disappointed when they find out that the person they saw on that stage is not who we really are, so we stay up there on that f'ing stage for years-for me it was decades-and we use booze to keep us in our role. I lived a conflicted, divided life for way too long-that's why the voice in my head never shut up, it just kept saying, "Come on, you can do better than this. This isn't the role you were born for.."
I finally did come of that stage, more like tumbled off into the orchestra pit. It took a while to quit trying to play the role, though, I'd been playing it so long I'd forgotten who I really was. But I came back to myself when I no longer had booze leading me away. The Best Lent Ever refers to that "audience of one" as God, but I think it can also apply to ourselves. When you become brave enough to act as yourself, your authentic self, that audience of one in your head quits throwing tomatoes and sits back in awed silence to watch the rest of the show.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Trigger, and I'm not talking about a horse!

Image result for Trigger horse meme

My post on the MM boards the other day:
Hi all,
I kind of fell of the internet recovery support planet for the month of February, sometimes I need a break from the focus on recovery and need time to go out and start my days acting like a "normal" person-it doesn't take long for me to remember I'm not a normal person and just like thoughts of drinking inundated my head for over 3 decades, thoughts of recovery and reminders that I am a person who still has to think about not drinking on a regular basis invade. No, I didn't drink. Instead, my break from recovery consisted of starting out my days taking my morning walk, messing around in the garden, and not getting on the computer until high noon. I needed that time away to re-infuse my enthusiasm.

So, I'm back. I was reading through the Fabuary thread over on the MM Forum and one post in particular caught my eye. The writer said they were bored because they avoided doing the enjoyable things they associated with drinking. I know that a lot of people do the same thing, but I didn't. One reason I didn't check-out AA when I decided to quit drinking is because I knew they were going to tell me to avoid bars and people who drank, for a year. I could not do that and did not even want to do that. My spouse still drank heavily, all my friends still drank heavily, and besides, some of my favorite places are bars, not the loud music blaring party bars or hip-chic wine bars, I love peeling paint, scarred up floors, torn leather booths, main street small town bars where the same old cronies show up every afternoon at the same time to take their seat at the bar. I grew up in those places, I sure didn't want to avoid them.
I guess, because I had that mindset, bars have never been a trigger for me, my heavy drinking friends have never been a trigger either. Some things that were once triggers, like beautiful sunsets and hot days no longer bother me, you can't really avoid those things. However, I do still have triggers, things that make me very melancholy for the old days, times that make me think, "These are the special times I should allow myself to have a drink." I can't really avoid these either, but I still don't drink, I just let myself feel sorry for myself for a bit. Here's a handful of them: country music, hotel rooms, airports, swimming pools, sidewalk cafes in beautiful cities.
Not that many anymore, thank God. Of course, there are emotional triggers too and they run the gamut from boredom to anxiety to sorrow, can't avoid those either but I have to say, rarely is my first thought, "I could sure use a drink" these days and never do I think, "I deserve a drink."
My point is, one month doesn't get you to the point that you are able to enjoy life without alcohol, especially if you are avoiding everything else you enjoyed. The triggers are going to be there, somewhere, no matter how hard you try to avoid them, so why not go out and face them so they lose their power because one thing I've seen over and over on here and I know firsthand is that boredom is the number one trigger that causes relapse. Life is blah for a while after you quit drinking, don't make it more blah by avoiding everything and everyone you love.
Just my two centavos.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Picking Up Where I Left Off

“As we plant in tears, we shall harvest with joy.” 
― Lailah Gifty AkitaPearls of Wisdom: Great mind

First my apologies. I don't know if anyone will still be out there following this blog, but I am sorry for abandoning this blog for so long. I found myself spread too thin and I let the thing that got me started on this path, go. That just doesn't seem right, does it? So, I'm back.

I'm not sure how much more I have to say on the issue of drinking, I think I've said everything and if what I've said in the past wasn't enough to get anyone to change their life where drinking is concerned, than I doubt anything I say further on the subject, will do the trick. I have come to believe it is a decision that each person makes when we've decided to quit lying to ourselves and telling ourselves that we can keep doing what we've been doing and still have the life that God intended for us.

We've got to decide we want to find that life, more than we want to keep drinking, or getting drunk. Yes, I still believe that moderation-because I've seen it- is a possibility for some people, but unfortunately, for our generation, and in our current society, admitting we have a drinking problem still has so many negative connotations attached to it, we tend to wait until our chances at gaining back control are very slim. Still possible, for some, but not without a lot of work and time spent, and more commitment by the barrels than quitting completely takes. It puts off finding that intended life just that much longer. I base that on what I see day in and day out  over at Moderation Management. The ones that find peace the quickest, are the ones that quit.

But, don't fret,  I'm not quite bottomed out on the subject. I still run into lessons every day in pursuit of personal growth where the lessons I learned when quitting drinking apply. I've been participating in the Best Lent Ever Series and, yes, while it reminds me of so many familiar lessons, it also brings home the fact that I am now free to use those lessons on other areas of my life. Catholic or not, I think this series is phenomenal-and the daily videos are short but packed with opportunities of self-reflection-and, no, they're not paying me to say that. lol

One thing I've realized is how much drinking stunted my growth in all areas of my life, for most of my life. If you looked at my life from the outside, you might not see it, especially in my early drinking years. I was ambitious. I formed a family, I went to school three different times, completing degrees each time. I excelled at work. All the while drinking very heavily and waking up every morning hungover. I worked hard to get where I got, but, now I wonder how much further I could have gone. The last decade of my drinking became solely focused on managing my drinking, just trying to get through the day, there was definitely nothing left to give to other areas of growth. Then, the last two years of of my drinking were spent on trying to quit drinking. You cannot imagine what the landscape looked like to me once I cleared alcohol out of my fields. For the first time, I could see clearly what I had to work with, who I was, and what areas were easy to cultivate and grow things in and what areas were full of rocks that needed to be dug up and cleared. One field at a time. I definitely have a better idea of what areas I'm virtuous in and what areas need more fertilizer and less manure. Lol