Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Silent Night.....

Another Christmas come and gone. It was the first Christmas I truly enjoyed since I was a child. Even last year, my first sober Christmas was marked with a kind of uneasiness. Like I was expecting the "other shoe" to drop at any moment. I was also scared that I wouldn't be able to cope with the stress of the season without a little help. This year was definately different.

Perhaps it's because I just let go. Let go of all the preconceived notions of what I thought the holidays were suppose to be like. I used to be so hard on myself. I had to have the perfect decorations, the perfect cards, the gifts everyone wanted, the perfect tree. I no longer feel this way. The picture cards of the kids turned out great, I put up an artificial tree, I wrapped a few presents with my daughter on Christmas Eve, and I released a much needed pressure valve.

What is it about alcoholics and perfection? Do we set our standards so high, that it's impossible to reach them? Because when failure comes we almost wallow in it. It always gave me an excuse to drink. OMG, this holiday stuff is too stressful, where's the Vodka? I just know something is going to go wrong! Or do we just love drama, and if there isn't drama we can surely create it. Or did I just finally grow up and realize that all of the stuff that I thought made up Christmas really didn't. In fact it has very little to do with the holiday. This was made ever so clear to me Christmas Eve night.

The two youngest were fast asleep, my hubby and oldest were watching TV, and I went out to attend the 9;30 pm candle light meeting at the Alano club. Our club is an old church, and when I got there the table was set up in a big square,and soft Christmas lights twinkled. The air had an aroma of chocolate and coffee, and the spirit of fellowship was everywhere. I sat next to my sponsor who was chairing this meeting, and as you spoke, you lit your candle. It was a gratitude meeting, and the gratitude poured fourth.

So many people who had spent a Christmas or two in jail. Others whose families had outed them. One young man had spent last year locked in his apartment with a bottle of booze, and two vials of pills, determined it would be the last holiday he would spend alone. His face glowed with a year of sobriety. He was happy to be in that room. Another member talked about dealing with his aging parents whose alzheimer's was so difficult to accept. How the steps of AA where making it possible for him to survive.

It was during this meeting, as I looked at the happy and grateful people around me that the true meaning of the season became quite clear. It's not the wrappings, the cost, the time. It's giving yourself the best gift you can give. Trust to a higher power, trust in your fellow man, and trust in yourself. This gift of sobriety can't be measured in money, or time, or effort. It's priceless, because it gives you the life you deserve. It gives you serenity.

The peace I felt this year was like no other. The train had stopped roaring down the tracks. I felt quiet, I felt peace. I wanted to ingrain in my brain the glowing faces of all my fellow AA's in that room. Miracles really do happen, and angels really do walk among us. My step felt light as I walked down the snowy sidewalk, and the church bells chimed midnight. Christmas was here, and I had just witnessed the best gift of all! Peace......

Thursday, December 22, 2011

What defines a person

In my first year of sobriety I took the role of "recovering" alcohol very seriously, as I should. Sometimes I think too seriously. I was letting the role of "recovering alcoholic" define me. Everything I did or said had my recovery in the background. I wonder if this wasn't a big of a defense mechanism for my own fear.

Fear that if I wasn't serious, then neither was my recovery. I was set on being a bit more serious, not so "flighty" as I was in my drinking days. I felt I had something to prove to those around me. That I was an example that should be followed. What a crock of "you know what"! The truth is I wasn't comfortable with my own sobriety. Like the disease I was letting it push me around. I was using it to hide behind. I was using my recovery to "be safe".

I didn't realize any of this until just last weekend. We were invited to an annual Christmas party, and I happen to wander into the family room where a beautiful wood fire was. I sat down next to the warmth when a person walked into the room and said, "oh, is this where the non-drinkers are"? I know they didn't mean anything by it, and this person knows I'm a recovering alcoholic, and yet I was a little taken aback. I should have replied, "no, this is where someone who wants to enjoy a nice fire goes"!

What this statement made me realize is that I don't want to be defined by my alcoholism. I'm me, just a person, not a drinker or nondriker. I have a disease, and I choose to not drink. However there are many other aspects of me: funny, witty, kind, compassionate, observant, intelligent etc. and I don't want to be labeled. I have no problem being a non drinker but it shouldn't define who I am. I sat amongst many drinkers and nondrinkers that night, and joked, and laughed, and had a great time.

And you know what? I didn't need to bring drinking into it to be myself. My alcohlism will always be a part of me. I will always need to be aware of the danger zone, but it doesn't dictate how I live. I choose not to drink. I choose to be sober. I also choose to laugh, and love, and live a full life! Alcoholism is a small part of me, the sober package makes up something so much better! Smiles......

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Put me down for the simple life....

At a recent AA meeting "J" brought up the fact that he was struggling with a decision. To stay where he was or to go back to Chicago from where he came. He's been sober three months, and now it's time for him to return home and he's torn. He knows that there's more job opportunities, friends, and family in Chicago, more stuff happening, but he doesn't want to leave our little town. When asked why, he said, "it's the first time in my life that my brain has been quiet. I feel peaceful from my head to my toes".

According to the AA big book we can go anywhere if we are spiritually sound. J isn't feeling it. He's worried that once he hops aboard the "crazy train" of his former life he will derail within seconds. To me this is a legitimate fear. Those playmates and playgrounds can be hard to leave behind. Or can they?

Many people took this dilemma as an opportunity to share what worked for them. Many told stories of how when they sobered up how their "so called good friends" never called anymore. One man said he's pretty sure those friends are still waiting for him to come out of the bathroom five years later! But what I really think it comes down to is how much you value yourself and your sobriety.

I am aware of how I now protect my sobriety. I often say to people when asked how I do it, "well, no drink tastes as good as sober feels". I truly believe that. I guard my sobriety like a precious treasure. I guess its because of self worth. I never realized that I deserved anything better than the mess I had made of things. I let myself fall into miserable traps over and over again because I thought it was my destiny. Sobering up gave me a choice. A choice to do things differently.

Did I have to change playgrounds. Of course. I can go to alcohol related events or places now that I am confident in my recovery but I didn't at first. It didn't feel right. Did I have to change friends? Not so much. But I don't get together socially as much as I used to because I love being at home with my family. I love my role as wife, mother, daughter, friend, worker, poet, writer, gardener, ect. but at one time those roles overwhelmed me. I couldn't do it all, of course not, AA taught me I am all those things, but one at a time. I set boundaries, I know when to leave, and I will not jeopardize my sobriety. In other words "I will go to any length" to keep sober.

To many people who do not suffer from the disease of alcoholism this "length" seems a bit over emphasized. I mean I've had people say to me, "you probably don't need those meetings anymore". Excuse me? I choose those meetings, because in those rooms people get me. I laugh, I cry, I never have to explain myself. I am 100% accepted and because of that acceptance my sobriety works. I do need those meetings, as I need my sobriety.

So I guess you can put me down for the simple life. I like my Friday nights, watching "GoldRush" in my pj's with my hubby and the kids. Popping popcorn, or making cookies, or singing the "Rainbow Connection" with my daughter at the "Muppets" movie. I spent too long thinking the grass was greener somewhere else. It never is, in fact it's usually brown. I'll keep my simplicity, because it helps me keep my sobriety. What about you?........

Monday, December 5, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas......

And I don't mean the fresh snow that fell this weekend, or the Salvation Army bell ringers, or the shoppers, the decorations, or the caroles. I mean the meeting rooms of AA. Where an average Saturday meeting is around 50, attendance is up by about another 30 people. Right before Thanksgiving I noticed the change, and its been steadily climbing for the last few weeks. I feel an anxiousness, a desperation, a totally scared out of one's mind kinda vibe.

This got me pondering. What is it about this year that can send people crawling out of their own skin. Is it the commercialism of Christmas? It's in the stores the day after if not before Halloween. The constant reminders of we have so many days before Christmas. The adds, the flyers, "Black Friday", "Cyber Monday"! Adds on TV showing people receiving flat screens, smart pads, smart phones, and for goodness sake let's not forget the a brand new Lexus with a big red bow in the driveway. Perhaps we set our expectations of what we think happiness is just a bit to high....

Or is it the landscape. Brown, barren, stark. A reminder that summer's kiss is long behind us, that (in my part of the country) the long winter lies ahead. All the flowers and leaves are gone, the grass is crispy white. The swings hang quietly in the fast darkening afternoons. The bare bones trees sway empty armed in the wind. Too often the sun doesn't make an appearance for days. This can have an effect on everyone.

Or is it that the year is in it's last month. All the things we set out to do last January and just a few accomplished! The diet, the marathon, the relationship, the finances, the on, and on, and on..... once again reminding us of what miserable failures we are. A whole year wasted and a new one fast approaching.

I see the desperation in people's eyes at meetings. They need something tangible to hang on to to get them through the holiday season. A guide, an instruction booklet, a way out, a glimmer of hope. Who has the answer? Where can I find it? How can I share it with those in need.

I was blessed with a lovely case of shingles over the Thanksgiving holiday. And there's nothing like nerve pain, a rash, and itching to give you a little perspective on what this craziness is all about. I've had a nutty year. Had to deal with some things that scared me to death, but I managed to wade through them. I think I started about 15 diets and failed everyone of them. Wanted to accomplish a million things and probably did 4 or 5. But as I layed in the quiet afternoon light on my bed while my daughter read to me, I stared out the window watching the big snowflakes fall and I realized, "it doesn't get any better than this!"

I find I create so many of my own demons. Including those that rear their ugly heads this time of year. I buy into all the hoopla and wind myself up, and start looking for the instruction booklet of how to survive, when it's right in front of me. I just need to step out, slow down, and actually enjoy whats in the here and now. I find myself humming Christmas songs at work, enjoying the lights on the trees as I drive home. Was excited about the first snow fall, and am looking forward to seeing family and friends.

Only we can make ourselves feel anything. Only ourselves can buy into it all. I have to keep myself in check. I don't do well with stress (obviously or I wouldn't have shingles) so I'm taking a lesson from Linus this year, and hopefully I will get to know what Christmas is all about too.......

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Chic's rock!!!

Girl's rule and boys......are cool?! I can't slam on the boys as I am partial to them! But girls really rule when it comes to supporting one another. At Saturday's meeting J a woman who has been struggling all week asked if some women would mind having a first step meeting with her in one of the smaller rooms. So about elleven of us broke off and had a small women's group meeting.

I haven't been to a womens group meeting in over a year. We let J tell us what was on her mind, and then we went around and talked about what worked for us. The message that came out over and over again was that you had to do the work. You alone, we can love and support you but you must walk your own walk. It was so empowering to listen to the personal stories of some of the women I have been privledged to come to know over the last two years. I found myself taking away so much from their experiences, strength, and hope.

It never dawned on me that facing a large room of people could be so terrifing to people. I guess my mentallity is to jump right in, but that doesn't work for everybody. One thing I did realize was that I had learned to listen. Even when J was justifying things her partner was doing, justifying her own behavior, making excuses ect., I just kept my mouth shut and listened. After all who am I to tell her, what I myself didn't know not so long ago. You have to find out on your own. I'm still growing by leaps and bounds, I still have set backs, I still make mega screw ups, but I know to get right back up and into the game. That was something I never did before.

It was easier to throw my hands in the air and say "I give up". I didn't feel like doing the work, so I didn't and like J my life was in a constant state of chaos. But what I didn't relize was that this chaos wasn't normal. I had accepted it as the way my life was. Now I think back and say to myself, really?, You really thought that was normal. Not that there is a definition of normal but when you don't question things that should obviously not be happening, you are headed for trouble.

So now I have the luxury of sitting, and listening, and reflecting. I have the joy of thinking before I speak, of sharing what works for me, not giving advice, or preaching to someone but sharing. J is fragile, scared, confused, fighting surrender with every fiber of her body, and for once I didn't have the urge to jump up and fix her. Because I can't, because I finally know my limitations. There's only one person I can save, and that's myself. I chose to start that journey almost two years ago, and I'm thankful the road keeps stretching before me :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The promises do come true.....

Driving home from an away soccer game with six kids and myself in the van, I was able to do some reflecting despite the volume, and the giggling. It was a beautiful autumn evening. The colors on the trees were spectacular, and the sun was dropping low in the sky. Since we were driving through farm country fog was settling on the fields, making the deer that were grazing barely visible. What an awesome time to be alive! I kept thinking that over and over and thanking God. Two years earlier I would not have been feeling this way. I would have been planning how or what I was going to drink to unwind later in the evening.

Pretty pathetic I know. But I no longer beat myself up over it. What's done is done and I need to stay in the present, not dwell in the past. We stopped for a McDonald's dinner with the rest of the team, and then headed home. One of the boy's mothers came later to pick him up and we were laughing at the busy, animal (dog sitting plus we have a new four month old kitten) filled house she walked into. After saying our good-byes I began to pack lunches. So grateful once again for the simplicity of small acts. How I love my busy, jam packed life, and how sobriety lets me enjoy all the moments, good or bad.

My husband and I recently dealt with some things, that last year, I just wasn't ready to confront. I didn't quite have all the tools to do it well. This 'something' has been a source of contention for almost our entire marriage. It was always like a black cloud hovering on the horizon. I decided it was time to walk through the storm and lay it down. I knew it wasn't going to be pretty, but resolving or working through touchy things rarely are. We persevered, and I was amazed that we were able to get through the worst of it with little repercussions. The rest will heal in time. One baby step each day.

None of this would be possible without the program of AA in my life. I no longer have to run. I can turn, and face my demons and know that no matter what I will be just fine. What a way to fill an empty hole that was huge for so long. I feel so lucky that I have come this far in such a short time.

At last Saturday's meeting I heard a small voice introduce herself and say "and I'm an alcoholic", fresh from rehab. I sought out her face, and there she was in the corner. Trying to make herself invisible, misery written on her face, desperately seeking answers. It was a great meeting and I hope she keeps coming back. I remember all to well being where she is. You just want the pain to go away. But you need to work for it. That's the part so many people don't want to do. Myself included. There are days that I would like to run away. When my husband and I were in the middle of this mess I said to my son, "I just don't want to deal with this today", to which he replied, "that's not an option". How true!

So you trudge along. Sometimes gracefully, sometimes a big mess. But each day that the sun rises and sets things get a little better. You start to appreciate everything you took for granted. Even packing school lunches. I am grateful for a fresh new face at an AA meeting. It reminds me that I need to stay focused, that I need to work my program each and every day, because the Promises really do come true, it you work for them......

Monday, September 19, 2011

A funny kind of "reveal"

Being the soccer mom that I am (I drive five kids to practice every day) TI know how nerve wracking it can be when you have to drive to an away game. So I begged and pleaded for my good friend S. to go with me as she's very relaxed around kids, and could keep me grounded and focused. As we headed home in the dark we started to talk about AA, and Al-Anon. She has some experience in Al-Anon as a close family member of hers is alcoholic.

She talked about how she really enjoyed Al-Anon because she felt like she could tell anything in those rooms and those people wouldn't judge her. She felt safe. For so many of us this is true for the very first time.

I went on to talk about my first night in. I was running late so when I got to the club the doors of the meeting room where shut. I tried to quietly push the door open but of course it squeaked and then I saw the face of an older gentleman who smiled and said, "Come in, you're in the right place". How true that was!

It's funny but I never realized how amazing that first step through the doors is! I trusted no one least of all myself. I wasn't sure I was capable of making a sound decision, and yet here I was ready to pour my garbage out to a room full of strangers. Talk about learning to trust and trust fast. I could barely spit the word alcoholic out in private, and here I was saying out loud to 50 people, "hello, my name is Liz and I'm an alcoholic".

When I think back on those days they are so fragile. Like a castle made out of air. I learned to trust those people with my darkest secrets. I poured forth streams of junk to my sponsor, I laughed, I cried, I broke, and then piece by piece I began to put together the puzzle that would become me. Finally I learned to trust myself. That trust has carried me far.

So when people talk about a "leap of faith" i can relate. I asked God for the answer, he showed me the way. I trusted a room full of strangers, I trusted a program I knew nothing about, and I gave myself over to the will of God. A lot of people ask me what's the secret to success in AA. I smile because it was just revealed to me a few days ago, on the way home with a car full of loud fourth and fifth graders. Trust! Trusting with something you cannot see every step of the way. Funny how the most profound reveals happen in the strangest of places.....:)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bye Bye Pink Cloud

A few weeks ago I was sitting with a friend of mine who has a family member that recently did a 30 day rehab program. This program was 30 miles from our city and the individual was doing well. They had taken to the program like a fish to water, cleared up some of their finances, secured a better vehicle and had returned to work. In other words they were having a "pink cloud experience".

I remeber that experience. When for the first time in a long time you feel strong. You feel like everything is coming together. You want to go from point A to point Z and skip everything in between. You love this new euphoria. But wait there's something nagging me in the back of my mind. Oh yeah, my sponsor had told me about this pink cloud. I believe her exact words were, "this too shall pass". And boy was she right. My pink cloud opened right up and dropped me on my butt!

So it wasn't a surpise when my friend told me this morning that this individual has stopped going to meetings. Gets angry when she asks him how is program is going, and has even met some friends out at a local bar. She has no proof that he has been drinking but he avoids her if she asks. She is worried and scared and feels helpless.

It's amazing how little we think of others. We get a scrap of sobriety and suddenly we throw out everything we know and start to feel empowered. We can handle this all on our own. Except there's one tiny problem with this. We can't. We need to do what we've avoided all along, and that is work. Work through all the muck and mire that causes us to drink. If it was easy to stop drinking there wouldn't be a need for AA. But it's not. It sucks to take that journey one step at a time. I mean after all we are control freaks and we want so badly to control this disease.

So what to tell my friend. I know she was looking at me expecting some guidelines, some solutions. I don't have any. I just could share with her what worked for me. Staying in today, not looking back, and not looking forward. Support from AA, meetings, fellowship, and my sponsor. Working hard. Excepting the highs, sucking it up through the lows. One single step at a time. One 24 hours at a time. Shutting my mouth and opening my ears. And oh yea, surrender and willingness to change.

This I'm sure seemed like a tall order. I also had to remind her that its his journey and sometimes it takes a while to get the program. It doesn't always stick right away. Everyone does it at his or her own pace. She sighed. And I wish I did have the magic answer, but I don't.

However I do know that if you stick with it, life does get better. Does it get perfect? There is no such thing. You learn to live your life and to appreciate everything about it. This means the highs with the lows. You change, your relationships change, your beliefs change. But a whole awesome world awaits you if you are willing to do the work. And I still am learning, and changing. 19 months of sobriety and there are days I have learned nothing, I swear! The other day hubby and I got into an argument and instead of using the tools I have figured out, I fell right back into my old ways and things turned yuky! I was so mad at myself for letting those habits creep back in. But at least I recognized them, made a note to self not to repeat it, forgave myself and apologized to my husband.

We are a work in progress. But now I have a plan. I have a few resources to call upon when I get frustrated. I can take the good with the bad. I am realistic when I see a "pink cloud". I know that it will pass. I don't know if my friend's family member will make it or not. He may use again, he may start over, he might be just fine. I do hope that no matter what happens the fundamentals of AA stick with him. Because the promises do come true, and one thing I know for certain is "they will always materialize if we work for them" - AA 12 Step Promises......

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A new kind of "normal"

Erma Bombeck said it best, "Normal is just a setting on a clothes dryer".

How true she is! What defines normal? I hear people describe their lives as "simple and normal." Or I've heard the expression, "she/he had anything but a normal
childhood. So this got me to pondering what is normal?

The normal in our household is that mom and dad both work. Mom during the day, dad during the afternoon and evening. Dad takes to school, mom picks up. Oldest brother babysits during the gaps and grandpa and grandma do in a pinch as well.

Mom goes to AA meetings, and its seen as a "normal" activity. I overheard my daughter telling one of her friends last week, "my mom goes to meetings at the club so she doesn't drink". She said it so matter of factly that it stopped me in my tracks. It's not a big deal to her, just something I do. Hmmmmmm

When I was a child people spoke about alcoholics in low voices. Like it was the worst thing in the world. My kids talk about it as an everyday fact of life. I guess it's just part of our "normal".

Then I realized that normal is whatever world you and yours live in. After reading "Running with Scissors" by Augusten Burroughs I was rather shocked that after a while this young man adapted his chaotic surroundings as "normal". I'm currently reading Alexandra Fuller's "Let's not go to the Dog's Tonight" her autobiography of growing up in Africa, loosing three siblings, a drunken half crazed mother, and standing for a first day of school picture holding an uzi. This was her "normal".

For you see, there isn't any one type of normal. I used to think there was and I spent years chasing a definition that wasn't even defined. It's the human spirit, its what you are used to. It's what your mind lets you cope with that becomes your kind of normal. And like two people no kind of normal is alike. Each one is uniquely different to you and yours.

Yesterday maked the beginning of the school year for our two youngest. Fourth and fifth grade. Much excitment the night before. Anticipation of seeing their friends again and having to adapt to new teachers. As I picked them up from school with two of their friends and dropped them off at soccer practice I realized that our normals are dictated by the here and now of our lives. It's not usual for me to have a meeting at school or the club in the evening, to have to stop at the grocery store, and to begin making a cheesecake at 9:00 at night.

Which is what happened last night. My oldest celebrates his 17th. birthday today, and he asked for a Red Velvet cheesecake and lazagna for his birthday supper. I had a meeting at school, and headed to the store afterwards and cooked until after 11:00 last night. My normal.

As I was making the cake I reflected back on when Alex was little. His dad has worked a second shift since he was two. Our "normal" consisted of just Alex and myself. We briefly lived in the historic district of our downtown before we purchased the house we now live in. We moved in right around this time and Alex had just turned three. I had just returned to college and we had so many good times. Due to the location of the place we were able to walk everywhere and we had our favorite paths. We would walk through the historical grounds, then to the angel blowing fountain and on up to the Mint cafe for cheeseburgers. When we came home, he would have a bath and then play by with toys while a fire crackled in the fireplace and I did homework. A sweet time of normal.

Now he's starting his junior year of high school. Looking at colleges, planning where he may want to live. His brother and sister have friends in and out all the time, and our lives are adapting to another "normal".

It's really quite easy when you think about it. Normal is just a setting on a clothes dryer. Life's normal is how you adapt to your ever changing seasons of life......

Friday, August 26, 2011

I want to go back to......

The last few weeks have been stressful. A lot going on in the personal life department and I no longer have my old friend alcohol to escape to so what does a girl do? I want to go back.....

to my grandparents house when I was a girl. I want to sit at the table and eat fresh garden grown leaf lettuce smothered in onions, garlic and vinegar dressing. My grandma always put it in a big blue pyrex bowl and let us eat it with our fingers.

I want to play with the neighbor kids, until dusk turns into dark, and my mother calls for us to come home, and millions of bugs buzz around the street lights.

I want to stand out in the driveway and gaze at the stars with my middle brother's plastic telescope.

I want to be sixteen with a million feelings all bursting forth while smiling at a very cute boy.

I would love to walk into the store like I did when I was 18 and grab the smallest size they had and it would fit great without ever trying it on!

I want to sit on a phone (a real phone not a cell phone) and talk to my bff's for hours.

I want to laugh so hard soda spits out my nose.

I want to run through the fresh white sheets on the clothesline at my grandma's house and run under the shade of their enormous willow tree.

I want to go to bed at night in the room that was my mother's when she was growing up and smell the fresh bouquet of pink peonies my grandpa placed beside my bed.

I want to escape it all. Just for today, or a few hours, or even for a few moments. However this is reality. My program has taught me to stay in today and to walk through the hard times. So say a small prayer if you can. The next few months are going to be a very bumpy ride for us. So please indulge me once in a while as I take a quick escape to things in my past that I treasure dearly. They can make difficult times seem not so bad. And I know "this too shall pass"......:)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


The more I know,
the less I understandAll the things I thought I knew,
I'm learning again
I've been tryin' to get down to the heart of the matter
But my will gets weak
and my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it's about forgiveness
Forgiveness- "The Heart of the Matter" by Don Henley

When I left college at age 21, terribly thin, depressed, I ended a two and a half year relationship that had only been good for a total of six months. I remember trying to feel real when I got home. I slept a lot, got a job, all my friends were away at college so I had a pretty quiet existence that spring. I remember turning on VH1 one day and this video was playing. I have always liked this song, loved the lyrics because I think somehow it speaks to all of us. I hadn't heard this song in years until the other day on the radio and it brought back such a flood of emotions I thought I might drown if only for a moment. Where had this come from? I thought I had gotten rid of junk like this in my fourth and fifth steps. Well there it was right on the surface and I had to deal with it. So I started sifting through the rubble and I knew quite quickly why it surfaced. It's the time of year. I never talk about this time of year but it has bothered me for years. It's the time when things begin to change. The night creeps in earlier, the daylight plays differntly in my yard, we school clothes shop, the smell of paper and erasers. But to me and in me this time of year right before fall brings a feeling of loss. Like time has always been slipping through my fingertips and I can't stop it. I'm anxious, I don't sleep well, I'm easily aggitated. My husband and I seem to argue more the end of August than we do any other time of the year. So this time I wanted to deal with this once and for all. So I needed to sort things out and there it was plain as day. One bad relationship after another ended around this time of year. A boyfriend that left for three years in the army, another for college, many I left, and how fall, and winter seemed to change the ever fun long days of summer. I still had a closet full of baggage. Twenty years later this junk was still washing up on shore and I was still picking it up and carrying it around with me. Guilt, hurt, anger, saddness were all mixed up inside of me. So I've been kicking this around for a few days wondering where or how I should get rid of it. Yesterday after registering my two youngest for school, I stopped at a local bookstore to pick up a book by an author I really enjoy. As the proprietor was checking me out, I asked about his wife who is a fellow recovering alcoholic. I know a little of her story, and I know she's pretty fragile, but I haven't seen her in almost a year so I wanted to make sure she was doing ok. We ended up talking for over an hour. He was so open and honest with his stories, and her journey, and I shared back that it was like a "mini AA meeting" right in the bookstore. We spoke about our marriages how he was like my husband, by some miracle still married to me. Then he said something, "You know all the words, all the actions, sometimes it's only time that heals all those wounds". And just like that a plug was pulled and all that baggage and junk I was carrying just sucked itself down the drain and far, far, away. It's about forgiveness, and when I think of those people in my past I have forgiven them, I can focus on the good times, but the one person I needed to forgive the most, I hadn't and that was me. It was time to let go, and I finally did. We said our goodbyes and as I stepped into the warm afternoon sun, things looked differently. I felt differently. Suddenly I was excited for the turning of the year, the back to school, the schedule change. For the first time in twenty years that icky feeling was gone. As I opened the gate and stepped onto our patio, a cool breeze touched my face and I drank in my surroundings. Change comes when we least expect it. I thought I had done so much growing, and changing, and cleaning out in my first year of sobriety that I never thought it would happen in my second. I now realize it's only the beginning. And getting down "to the heart of the matter" is forgiveness.....

Friday, August 12, 2011

Flash 55 Friday

We are all bare trees
stripped of adornment
standing alone and vulnerable
next to the sidewalk.
Our bark maybe bruised, scratched, at
times even missing and we
stand with our crooked arms bent
praising the unknown and
waiting for the harsh time to pass so
we can delight in the promise of leaves to come.....

Today is my daughter's ninth birthday. She of course is thrilled and is having a party later. So I'm taking a half day to pick up the cake, decorate, and concentrate on just her, the way it should be when you are nine :) Hoping you all have a wonderful and cool(if needed) weekend........

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The "up" side of sober....

I know I've said it before but I love sober anniversaries. Lately the only AA meeting I seem to get to is the elleven o'clock on Saturday mornings. This is one of my favorites as its the weekend, people are in a good mood, relaxed, happy to be there and this past Saturday was no exception. Not one but three anniversaries. A five year, a two year, and a one year. How cool is that! I know the two people that celebrated the five and the two year, but wasn't familiar with the person who was celebrating that awesome first year. That to me is such a milestone! I remember on my anniversary feeling like I was finally getting the hange of this thing called "sober". And also realizing that the rubber now hits the road. You have to continue practicing the 12 steps, you need to let the program filter in multiple areas of your life. You can't get soft, think you can do it on your own, in fact you need to rely on your HP and your fellow AA's more than ever. It's not a time to become complacent. C the man celebrating five years has an awesome story. He's a larger than life person, literally he's six four and his sponsor is a 75 year old man whose about 5'4. We like to call them "Danny and Arnold". Anyway C five years ago had nothing. No place to live, no family, no job, no license just the bottle. He had just gotten out of prison and had no where to go. He ended up at the Alano club and reached out to A and asked him to be his sponsor. The rest is history. C is a shining example of the miracles that are worked in this program every day. He's got his own apartment, a good job, a mother and a brother who love him, a driver's license and a great AA jail ministry. He's one of my favorite people at the club and we always hug and say, "hey keep coming back"! R the person celebrating his two year anniversary is another miracle. He was driven to the club by his wife and just about tossed through the doors of AA. She had had enough. I wasn't there for his first year but I've been told it was shaky and minute by minute. His second year has gone much better and you can see a peace that passes all understanding on his face. His gentle smile was radient as his sponsor presented him his two year medallion. I loved all the stories that were shared Saturday morning, all the laughter and the applause. Who needs a drug when you can get a high just hanging out with a bunch or recovering addicts. Afterwards I headed to the farmer's market to get some yummy fresh veggies, and grabbed a bouquet of fresh wild flowers on my way to the car. The kids were at the waterpark with my hubby, my oldest was working at the fair, and I started preparing food for the night's dinner as my parents were going to join us. The sun was streaming in the kitchen and I began to arrange the flowers in a vase when I realized that it was my eighteen month anniversary. 18 months sober, who would have thought. I was and will always be so grateful to my higher power and the program of AA. This program has taught me so many things, and one of the best is being able to celebrate the miracles of others. It takes you out of yourself and gives you the interest in your fellow man. I set the flowers on the table and got back to work, humming happily and enjoying the "up" side of sober......

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Life is full of suprises. A saying that is said over and over again. I like to think of a "surpise" as something that is unexpected and enjoyable, and yet some of life's "surpises" are anything but nice. I've come to use the phrase "life on life's terms" instead. I found out early in recovery this was something I really struggled with. I didn't know how to handle the curve balls that came my way so instead of learning how to deal with things I just got out of the game. In other words it was much safer for me to sit in the dug out and drink. When AA helped me get back into the game I realized it wasn't so scarey and that with a little maneuvering I could hold my own. This was a huge point in my recovery. Facing the fear. I always thought of myself as someone who was in charge. Who jumped right off the end of the dock, I didn't need to wade in, that was for sissies. Little did I know I was the biggest sissy of them all. Facing fear or fears is done on a daily basis. Now if there's something I need to deal with I have to pull it front and center and get it done with. No more throwing it in the closet until later. Yesterday a friend was telling me about a young man that was killed in a car accident earlier in the morning. His family is devastated and yet they have lost another child a few years earlier as well. My mind split in about a thousand pieces trying to grasp at their losses. Then my friend said something that really struck home. She too has lost a child and she said, "it's hard to believe that so much tragedy can happen to one family. I've always felt like I had some insurance that I've already had such a horrific thing happen to me that there was no way it was going to happen again, but it does". We have no insurance against life. It just happens. I didn't panick when I heard her words, it was just the plain truth and it just sank in. This was what scared me the most. This "no insurance". Now I realize that there's nothing I can do, but deal with life on life's terms. I know this isn't any big revelation for most people but to me it was. Knowing that at any moment life can throw us a curve ball we may never fully recover from is scarey. But the difference in my life today is that it does not have to disable me. I'm not paralyzed to live because I'm so full of fear. My HP walks beside me, and walks through fear with me. He truley is a "lamp unto my feet". So life doesn't come with insurance, but really is that enough of a reason to not grab it and live it with all you have? I think not, it's a risk we all have to take......

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Monkey on your back....

Over dinner with friends Saturday night, I learned of Amy Winehouse's death. I knew of her music, that she was talented, but was often overshined by her addictions. Winning five grammies is nothing to sneeze at, and being called a genius by her peers is nothing to dismiss either. But was scares me is the fact that she couldn't outrun what chased her the most. Drugs and alcohol. We see this all the time. Many young stars dead by the age of 27. Gene Simmons commented that the secret to his long term success as a rock musician wasn't that he avoided partying and women, but he didn't get addicted to drugs. Drugs will get you everytime. Now there are people that will dismiss this young woman's death as a life of "overindulgence", imaturity, not giving a damn, selfishness etc. and I must admit that at one time I would have voiced that sentiment as well. How different it is when you sit in rooms with addicts, and when you yourself are one. When no matter how many days of sobriety you have just seeing a glass of wine can trip your mind up to say, "oh, you can handle this now, besides it's just one drink, what can it hurt?!" I do not pretend to have any answers, I only know that some people make it, and some don't. Russell Brand who has struggled with his own addictions summed it up best when he said of Winehouse, "When you love someone with an addiction you always wait for the call". For some that call might be a call for help, if they are lucky the call to surrender, but too often than not its the call that they have succombed. It's done, the demon is finally quiet. I no longer judge people who struggle with addictions. I struggle with my own on a daily basis. I know how fortunate I am to get this program and I also know that it can disappear in a day. Not too long ago I was shopping with a friend when my phone rang. I answered it and proceeded to listen to five minutes of non stop drunkaloge. This woman was sober for seven years, but a chain of events sent her right back into her addiction. The reason she drank on this particular day was that someone had removed the pot of flowers she had put on her parents grave. When I was finally given the opportunity to talk, I asked her to go get some coffee, she said she wanted to go to sleep, I told her to call me when she woke up. As I placed my phone back in my purse my friend asked, "where you able to help her?" I replied, "I don't know, but she sure helped me". She gave the jolt, the little pinch that says, "don't get to comfortable because it wasn't too long ago that you would have been in the same position with even less of a reason". I thanked God right then and there for the reminder. It's sad how society can feed off tragedy. When I see Lindsey Lohan laughing or smirking in court, I don't feel animosity, I just feel bad. Sooner or later that monkey will either be taken off your back by yourself, or it will hold on until the end. I have seen the look of dispair in people's eyes, they want so badly to escape but they just can't. It's heartbreaking. Another life gone, too soon. For me it's a reminder that my disease is still growing, the more I stay sober, the closer I am to a relapse. Take nothing for granted, for sooner than later there's a monkey looking for a new "owner"....

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Flash 55 Friday....


With cracked lips and dusty throat
she turns her swollen eyes upward,
bright flashes of promise
proceed a dry swallow
One, then two, and three
until a million splashes of water
penetrate unto her cheekbones and stream down her neck
as she parts her mouth and begins to
drink in the sweet gift of life.....

I've been observing the effects of the heat wave we are in. Due to cluster migraines my time outdoors has been greatly limited. However I was able to spend a couple of hours outdoors last Sunday working in the gardens and what I noticed as the sweat ran down my face was how parched mother nature looked. She needed relief, a cool drink of water. Later that evening a storm roared through and standing at the window watching it pour I envisioned the above poem, and watched in pleasure as she tilted her head back and drank in the cool rain.... hoping all is well with you and yours.....

Monday, June 6, 2011

Time to say good-bye....

I've been wrestling with the decision to go or stay. And for once I'm going to listen to that gut feeling inside: it's time to move on. This blog and you bloggers saved my life. You were a constant lifeline during my first year of recovery. The fact that so many people you don't even know can extend experiences, strength, and hope to a total stranger was just empowering. You were all and will continue to be a huge part of my recovery and I will take each one of you along in my thoughts, prayers, and in my heart. I wish all of you the very best in your lives, with your families, in your programs and in your dreams. Part of my decision is based on the fact that I am blessed with a rich and full life of God, family, friends, and program. My oldest leaves for New York in less than two weeks, my two youngest are busy enjoying the pools, the sun, and the freedom from learning. My hubby and I have numerous projects in the works such as a new roof, a new bathroom, new porch etc. so time will not stretch for it all. I will peek in from time to time to see what your lives are up to. This journey of mine would not have been possible without you. I treasure you all and leave you with my favorite poem by Mary Oliver:

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice --
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life you could save.

~ Mary Oliver ~

May all your dreams come true today, tomorrow and always!
DryBottomgirl :)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Off to the lake....

The two youngest finished school this morning, the oldest is getting ready for finals. The giant marshmallows and Hershey's chocolate have been purchased, the dog "frontlined" and soon we'll be driving to the lake. The whole family anticipates this first weekend at the cottage. Listening to crickets and peepers, an occasional call of the loon. Kayaking in the early morning is my favorite, reading by a fire all afternoon long, no cell phone towers, no computers, just the lake and all it's beauty. Wishing you all a wonderful holiday weekend. Stay safe, and make new memories. I leave with a 55....


Stealing down to the lake,
Careful not to disturb Mother Nature
as the dawn stretches her arms, and birds
sing their daily mantra, I quietly slip
the kayak onto the water and without
a sound I cut through the steam softly
rising in the air, and I’m in awe at the
splendor that lies ahead….

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Modern day miracles....

Sorry I haven't been blogging. Life has been too busy. We are starting to wind down and my two youngest start their last week of school. Memorial Day plans include a weekend at the cottage with cousins and family. Listening to the spring peepers, and the call of the loons while dozing by a campfire...we can't wait!!! I have been dealing with a nasty spring cold mixed with allergies and was so miserable by Friday that I cancelled all weekend plans and stayed home. I have to be careful to not take on too much, and being an alcoholic my brain tells me theres no limit to what I can accomplish. However my sponsor is kind enough to remind me that there is a word called "no" and that I need to use it more. Spring is in full blast. All the honeysuckles and flowering crabs are in bloom. My lilacs burst forth literally overnight. Spring has sprung but like fall it is too short a season in the Midwest. Summer is nipping at it's heels. Yesterday at the 11:00 meeting P celebrated 10 years of sobriety. I met P early on in my recovery when she came up to me with her phone number and encouraged me to keep coming back. P is a pretty fifty some woman with a glow that no amount of money could buy. She has a quiet class about her that most people spend a lifetime trying to find. She has a good friend G that lives in my neighborhood and one day I asked him what her story was. It turns out that P was a lot like me. Mother of three, a husband who was gone a lot, working woman, who to run away from all the stress in her life turned to drinking in the evenings. She became quite good at it, and even drank herself out of a liver. P came into recovery when her three boys were 15, 12, and eight. Ironically she found a liver transplant in AA. Shortly after receiving her transplant she and her husband divorced. An act that she says nearly killed her worse than the liver transplant. What's so amazing is she has the best sense of humor. She jokes around that for years she carried a picture of her ex in her wallet and when things got really bad she would pull it out so she could realize that nothing was worse than being married to him. Ten years later she just sold her house due to the fact her liver is in rejection, and she wanted to pay down her medical bills and simplify her life. She enjoys her two grandchildren, and loves the quiet pleasures in her life. She was in and out of the hospital all winter, and yet yesterday she was only concerned with others. She never complains, she exemplifies the program, and she truly has the most beautiful glow about her. It's always a treat when I get to see her. We talked yesterday and she was asking the ages of my children and when I told her she said, "you sobered up at the best time of your life", and I agreed. To the average person who has no problem with alcohol or drug addiction they simply can't imagine what a gift sobriety is. How your entire world changes. How everyday is brighter, even when everything goes wrong, because you are no longer obsessed with self destruction. Life is so deeply rich and I didn't realize it until I could take it in with a clear head, mind, and body. Today severe storms were rolling in and my oldest and I were standing on the back porch admiring mother nature's storm clouds when suddenly the smell of rain was so strong. I said to my son,"isn't that just the best smell?" and he agreed. There are modern day miracles all around us from the whiff of rain, to the laughter of a child blowing bubbles in the wind, to the warmth of the sun on your face, to my friend P. May we always be in tune to those miraculous gifts each and every day......

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Living in the dark.....

Literally. Yesterday an afternoon storm rolled through the area. Winds at over 60 miles an hour. I was training with a colleague when all the power went out at work. It was finally restored about 10:30 pm last night. I picked up the kids went home only to fine out we were out of power, and guess what? We still are!!! Not to mention huge pine branches snapped and lying all over our yard. Luckily none of them fell on the gardens or caused damage. Just a big mess. So what do you do with three children staring at you? and no power? Go shopping. Sam needed some new flip flops, Alex some new shirts, and Grace needed styrofoam balls for her planet report. We managed to waste a few hours bumming around and then headed home confident that the power would be on by now. Nope. Now it's late in the evening and we are loosing light. So I put everyone into action. The kids went out to start hauling branches, and I sorted backpacks, made lunches, laid out clothes, and gather pj's. I also dug out lots of candles, flashlights, matches, and turned down the beds. The kids came in and we headed to grandpa and grandma's so they could finish homework and shower. Confident once again the power must be on we headed home. Only to see the telling flicker of candles through my neighbor's window as we pulled into the driveway. It was going on ten pm so we lit candles and headed to our rooms. Once Sam was tucked in, I blew out his candle, Alex took one to his room to finish reading a book for history and Grace and I headed upstairs. It was fun to read Laura Ingalls Wilder's "By the Shores of Silver Lake" in the candlelight. The soft flickers of shadows on the ceiling, entertained Grace and lulled her to sleep. I slept restless hoping to find the power on this morning but no deal. Charles took the kids to school, and I headed to my parents so I could get ready for work. Confident once again the power must be on I phoned my husband only to hear "nope". I can't image the people in the South or anyone for that matter without power. I went to my laptop only to remember our wireless was down. I must have turned the light switches on from habit 100 times only to realize they didn't work. Boy I would not have handed this well in the past. This would have been a perfect reason to drink. But having three pairs of eyes staring at you all expecting you to know what to do makes a difference. I was so thankful to be sober and clear headed. I needed to be the mom and not wrapped up in my own pity party at the weather's inconveniecing us. My kids were great. They just did what I asked and no one freaked out. I was able to reassure them that we would be just fine. Now I just hope that the power comes on sometime today. I value their trust, and I don't want them to start to panic. Living in the dark shines a different perspective on things. You can't do as much. You are limited by candles. You appreciate the small conveniences you do have. It keeps you humble. I hope you are all in the "light" today and that you never take it for granted in your day to day lives.I know I won't every again.....

Monday, May 9, 2011

And in the second year of sobriety....

I was teasing my sponsor the other day:"You forgot to tell me that in the second year of sobriety your life gets crazy busy". She laughed and said, "it's amazing how fast those hours spent drinking are filled with living life once you stop". How true it is. The only thing I can say is that by Monday I'm more tired than I was on Friday. But really I'm not complaining. Last Thursday night when I attended the release party for the MUSH publication I was presently surpised to find out that two of my poems had been published. We each received a copy of the publications, and it was awesome to sit and listen to so many talented people read their pieces. The food was provided by a local Italian deli, (nothing like cheese, and Italian meats) and the weather even broke into late evening sun. A good time was had by all. Friday the Center for the Visual Arts had their annual auction. My oldest child had submitted a painting for this fundraiser. My girlfriend called in the afternoon saying she couldn't use her ticket so could I? Of course! An evening of art, auctions and once again good food is right up my alley. Alex was so nervous about his painting but it sold after two bids, so he was feeling much more self assured and was starting to plan what he would submitt for next year's gala. It was great to spend this time talking with people in our community and he enjoyed meeting other artist's as well. I love to watch my children interacting with other's accross the room because it gives you a different peek at their personalities. Saturday found hubby working, Alex off to another city for Cultural Fest, and the rest of us headed for a greenhouse and then home for planting. Sunday my two youngest and I sang with their classmates and mom's for Mother's day in church. And then it was home to spend the day the way I wanted, working in my flower beds. This isn't work for me, it's pure enjoyment. My parents came for dinner, and it was so nice to crawl into bed full of sunshine, fresh air and exhaustion. I try to follow my program by staying in today. But as I opened the frig. for some milk this morning, one click glance at the calendar and the only free evening this week is Wednesday until I realized Grace and I need to finish her planet report. Yikes! In an instant I started to panick, my mind started racing, how can I get all this done, and now hubby is back to working in the afternoon and evenings. And then I looked down, and on the counter was a small silver coin, and on it the serenity prayer. Grace had taken it out of my jewelry box and had left it on the counter. God must have had a plan, so I read that serenity prayer, and took a deep breath. "No problem, I thought. I got this." I poured the milk on my cereal and turned on the morning news to get the weather report. You know we have so many little sayings in AA that people could consider mundane or tacky but for me they work. Take it easy, one day at a time, keep both feet in today etc.....I didn't live like this before. I had one foot in the past and one in the future. No wonder the present is so busy for me. I stood their for a moment feeling like I was standing on a train platform. I needed to make the decision to get on the train and get where I needed to go, or stay back in fear. I took a deep breath, then jumped aboard. Today I choose to not let life pass me by......Hoping all you awesome mom's, aunties, and women had a great Mother's Day!!!!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Betula Papyrifera

There you are old friend
another winter past
your posture is more bent,
your white coat a little
worse for the wear.
I'm glad to see you at your post,
guarding the point.
As the bow of the canoe drifts
across your reflected image,
I pay tribute to your loyalty,
See you soon noble birch.

Here it is, the "published" poem. I have the "release" party tonight, and have been asked to read my poem. I have always loved birch trees. How they stand out in the landscape, tall and proud. As I was writing out the monthly calendar, I reflected on how differently life has become. We are busy beyond belief. Life that held hours of empty drinking, no longer even holds five minutes of free time. If it's not raining the kids want to be biking. Last night my son even talked me into bahaaaing down a grass and dirt covered hill. What fun that was and I didn't flip off the bike.(personal family members will tell you I lack coordination). I had to text my sponsor to assure her I was ok, just busy living life, and that I would see her at Saturday's meeting. She was glad I checked in, and glad that life is full. I am a little nervous for tonight, so wish me luck. Today I get the pleasure of saying: "I am grateful that my cup runneth over", and I hope you are too.....

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

My favorite book....

Justine Bieber and I have something in common. Our favorite book is: To Kill A Mockingbird". The first time I read this book I was a sophomore in high school. Trying to survive the breakup of yet another poor choice I had made. My English teacher was Mrs.Brown. Very petite, dressed in fitted jackets and skirts, pretty, and always sat on her desk when she taught us. We spent about a month on this book, and I loved it. I love the truth that Harper Lee wrote with. She didn't sugar coat the past, just laid it all out in (excuse the pun) black and white. The turning point for me is when Jem thinks they have the jury licked. They can't find Tom Robinson guilty, and yet the jury does. There dies the boy and in steps the man. The injustice that is so hard to explain. So hard to swallow and yet as we get older, we tend to understand it more. It's not such a raw sharp enlightenment as it once was. Boo Radley had it figured out, it was much easier to just stay inside. I have read this book every year since then. If you do the math that's 26 times. I have most of the dialogue memorized, and I always find something new. In my opinion Harper Lee was a genious. My oldest read the book last year. He liked it but couldn't quite see my facination with the book. I told him I had an awesome teacher, who really made our class understand all the awesome tidbits of wisdom that are tucked into that book. "Whatever, mom" came the reply. So last night like an old friend I picked up the hard covered copy that my mother gave me years ago (from the 60's) and began my annual spring journey through this literary great. They say the written word can change your life and this book changed mine. I saw the end of my own childhood as scary, and the end of innocence made me run. I buried that fear in a bottle, until through my higher power and AA I was able to deal with that pain. To read through the pages of injustice, and to mourn the outcome of an innocent man. This book means even more to me now, than it did then. Do I have "Bieber Fever"? No! But I must say for a young man he has great taste in books....Is there a book that is special to you?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Dancing Sober....

Yes, I did for the first time in about 25 years I danced sober. I wasn't sure how I would feel but once out on the dance floor surrounded by friends it was fine. Funny to see what or how other's dance and then to decide that you don't care how you look so you let go and just have fun. My hubby was out of town this past weekend and I attended the wedding of one of our friend's son by myself. I wasn't anticipating any great time, thought I'd be home right after dinner. The ceremony was beautiful, and since their was a block of time before the reception we all went to one of our friend's house for drinks and munchies. The host and hostess are so much fun and right away I had a diet 7UP in hand. It was great to catch up on what our friend's had been up to since I had been sick for the last big social event. We all headed over to the reception for an excellent dinner. They toasted with champagne and I toasted with diet soda. Afterwards we all sat around laughing, and joking, and then the dancing began. How can you not dance to music from "Saturday Night Fever"? It was a hoot. I wasn't uncomfortable at all. As the night went on and the volume got louder I knew it was time for me to leave. I said my good-byes and headed home. Reflecting on the way home that I can barely remember a time when I danced sober. I never had the courage, and with a drink in hand it gave me the perfect excuse if I danced like a fool. Tonight I had fun and I didn't care what people thought of me. I would wake up Sunday morning refreshed after a good night's sleep and have a productive day minus a hangover. It's nice to come to the point of being able to go anywhere as long as you are spiritually fit. I also know that if the situation becomes uncomfortable I can leave. I have choices today, something I didn't have before. Also being able to drive yourself home without worrying about being pulled over is another plus. There was a reason my husband had to be out of town at the last minute, and that I needed to go to this wedding by myself. I needed to be alone and prove to myself that I am able to be in the same room as alcohol. To seperate myself from my friends as the one who has the problem finally makes sense to me. Believe it or not this was a huge growth experience for me. It's nice to know that I do know how to handle every situation as it comes. Tonight I pick up my Master Gardener Certificate and handbook. Yes, I passed. I found the results out on Friday. It was a hard test, and I was over analyzing it so much that I finally just turned it in to get it out of my hands. Unfortunately the high today is 45 and it feels like the second of November rather than May but we're hanging in there. Hope you are all having a happy Monday.....

Friday, April 29, 2011

Flash 55 Friday


A dull gray stone
darkens as it splits
the translucent barrier
and sinks to rest on
a sandy floor. Fast
flowing concentric circles multiply
across the glassy surface
reaching out to infinity
in an amoeba like existence
of a clear blue world
only to be interrupted
by a water bug oblivious
of his untimely intrusion....

Trying to have thoughts of the lake after three days of rain and cold. We are suppose to have a break of one day before rain sets in again. Regardless of weather we have a busy weekend planned so I hope you all stay safe and dry......

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hiding from yourself.....

Last night at the "Daily Reflections" meeting we talked about an interesting subject. How when you first come into AA and you get that first taste of sobriety, how you need to protect it. Guard it against anything that may take it away. One man said he drove five miles out of his way every night so he could avoid driving by the bars he once inhabited. He was afraid that there might be some "magnetic pull" the would yank his car over to the building and he would start drinking. Another person said they attended 3 or 4 meetings a day because they were unemployed and they were so scared of having nothing to do. It might lead them back to drinking. I could relate. I avoided TV and my leather chair. You see that was my drinking post. A lovely stressed Italian leather chair, the kind you sink into at the end of a day. I would prop my feet up on the ottoman and proceed to drink myself into numbness, with the only physical movement being to get up to refreshen my drink or use the bathroom. Of course this would also involve mindless channel surfing so I could occupy my mind while I was on the way to oblivion. So when I first sobered up I was terrified of that chair. Heck the room for that matter. I couldn't sit in that chair without a drink so I just avoided it. I started going to bed to read, and catch up on 15 years of sleep. I was always a night owl my whole life and now I was going to bed at 8:30. I even did this on weekends. I just felt that if I sat in that chair I would drink. What I didn't realize is that I didn't trust myself to not drink. I was trying to trust my HP and let go and also trying to control the situation as well. Even on the weekends I went upstairs early. I remember my husband asking out oldest, "what's up with your mom and going to bed so early?" to which our teenager replied, "I think she's afraid of her old drinking chair". How right he was. I was running scared. So scared that I didn't even know if I could trust myself in my own home. Eventually as the months went on I knew that my HP would keep my on the straight and narrow, and the urge to drink was gone, I could start to trust myself. One day when I was cleaning, I looked at that chair. It no longer held any power of me, so I moved it to the other side of the room, and put a different chair in it's place. The spell had been broken, my HP and the program of AA was doing for me what I could not do for myself. Now I get to bed around 11:00. I can mill around the house at all hours and do not need a drink in hand. I guess it wasn't all for nothing, I really did need to get rid of my dark circles. So it's ok to go out of your way, to protect your sobriety at all costs. Sooner or later it will no longer matter, you will know how to function in all circumstances and that it a wonderful gift to have. Out of curiosity has anyone else done/avoided and past behaviors to avoid drinking?.......

Monday, April 25, 2011


Is there anything better than an AA meeting when a person in celebrating their sober anniversary? How about an AA meeting with three people celebrating sober anniversaries! At this past Saturday's meeting that is precisely what was happening. Three anniversaries: 4 years, 8 years, and 15 years. What was particularly interesting was that all three had been raised by alcoholic fathers, and everyone of them said they would "never be like their dads" and yet all three became alcoholics. The person celebrating four years came into AA through her brother. He was just getting out of lower D and she had come to see him and she was drunk of course. He was always talking about AA, and the big book, and meetings, so finally one day she said, "enough, I'll go with you just to shut you up!" Fortunately for her, she never looked back. In her second year of sobriety she took a job transfer to another state and her brother was so worried that she might fall off the wagon, but she never did. What an awesome moment when her brother presented her with her four year coin, and told everyone how proud he was of her. There wasn't a dry eye in the house. Another lady was celebrating her eighth year. She came into the program at 25. Big time drinker and it was so neat to hear her talk about how much her life had changed in eight years. She's married, the mother of two beautiful children, happily married, and holding down a job. You could watch her glow with pride at her accomplishments. She said, "not only did I stop drinking, but I built a life I never imagined would or could be mine". Finally the person celebrating 15 years is a man I know from the Thursday night meeting. When I first met this person I was terrified of him. He spoke the truth, and very directly. He is never worried about hurting your feelings if it means he's going to keep you sober. At a meeting last summer I wittnessed him chew a young girl up one side and down the other. After the meeting I overheard him talking to her telling her that he only did it because he wanted her to stop playing games and get sober. He really does have a heart of gold. I have gotten to know him much better these past months and he's a man who walks the walk not just talks the talk. There are many people who love to tell you a twelve step program escpecially AA doesn't work. But I disagree. If you could have sat in Saturday's meeting,and heard those testimonies, and saw those proud, happy faces, there wouldn't be a doubt in your mind just how powerful this program can be.....

Friday, April 22, 2011

Winds of change and circumstance.....

Some weeks are just full of it. Full of "living life on life's terms". Two people at work are dealing with personal family issues. Both are health related, one is a spouse, the other a father. I just received an email update on one and now it's hour by hour. Sigh. My hubby was approached last week with a job offer to work for someone he has worked for in the past. He really liked the current company he's employed with but they are fading fast, and have been since November. This new job involves a shift change once again, but one I'm used to and can handle just fine. It was much harder when the children were smaller but now they can do many things for themselves. The money is less but then there's the factor of "a job vs. no job" so we'll manage. It's a good opportunity for him, with room to grow. So after much thought (and me keeping my mouth shut believe it or not) he decided to take it. I could tell he is feeling much better now that he accepted the new job, and handed in his resignation. Sometimes I think a fresh start is the best. Gracie our youngest has had stomach flu since Wednesday. She has managed to keep a bite of food down and some Sprite since 9:00 last night. So the household is a bit sleep deprived. I did stay home with her and was able to get all the laundry done and the entire house cleaned. What you can do in a day! And now we fast approaching Easter weekend. Oh did I forget to mention that it snowed Tuesday night into Wednesday. I was assured that we are done with winter since it's now "snowed on the Robin three times". Let's hope the old wives tale is true. I can't take another snowflake! Life is in limbo. The good is holding hands with the bad. It's times like these that I am so thankful to God, his plans, letting him be in charge, and having a program in AA to act as a guide. A guide to staying in the moment. A guide to not taking a drink so all the "bad" feels a little better. Learning to reach out to people has been a lifesaver for me. One of the above mentioned people who is dealing with a sick family member had made it clear that they do not want to talk about it. We at work are respecting this decision, but it is not easy. You can see the pain, the exhaustion but pride and privacy are pushing away what could be a useful support system. I can remember when I was like this. Hide everything, take everything on myself, I don't need help, I'll handle it. What a big dose of garbage that is! There's a reason we have other people in our lives. To reach out, to laugh maybe instead of cry, to just know there's someone else sharing your pain is a source of comfort. I now see what happens to people in the rooms of the meetings when they are locked tight. Proud, and private, they generally relapse. Afraid that throwing the laundry front and center will produce judgement, and criticism. I have found that by sharing some of the more difficult problems in my life, I am able to lighten the burden. It allows people to see my soul, to know me as a feeling, hurting human being. Yes, I'm in pain, yes it will pass. So when I wittness people struggling with wanting to keep their burdens to themselves I feel sad. I know it's none of my business, so I pray, and wait. Wait til the hard shell starts to crack, and then I'll hold out my hands and help them catch the pieces. May you all have a joy filled holiday weekend with the ones you love, and who love you back......

Monday, April 18, 2011

Looking at the differences....

I'm beginning to wonder if AA has a bad reputation. I know of several people who have told me they have a drinking problem. These people also know I belong to AA and that it has worked for me where everything else has failed. I was talking with an aquaintance the other day and they remarked that they had been researching alcoholism and that they really needed to get help. So without thinking I blurted out, "I would be more than happy to take you to an AA meeting!" To which came out of their mouth, "God no, I'm not going to AA!" and just the tone of voice made me feel like they felt better than the program. They started talking of alternatives and of course my mind went where it wasn't suppose to go "easier softer way" and I wanted to say (but didn't) "when all else fails and you are ready to go to AA I'll be here". This got me to thinking that the mention of "AA" must conjure up certain images in people's minds. I remember early on when a member told me to seek out the similarities rather than the differences. I didn't have a problem with that. I was so grateful to see heads nodding in understanding when I spoke about things or experiences. I felt validation that I wasn't so different or unique. That other people from every walk of life suffer from the same affliction I do. It doesn't discriminate. So why does AA seem to be shunned by a lot of people? Is it because the media has glamorized addictions? I mean in Hollywood if you have a problem you can check into numerous rehabs, some with spa like ammenities. Or you could be on "Celebrity Rehab?" or in and out of rehab like Lindsey Lohan? Do people think we're just a bunch of bums sitting around in a church basement? Or is it the work? The twelve steps? I think for some people they just want to stop drinking. They don't want to know the reason they drink. Just stop the action and that will be enough. But is it? I was thrilled when I found some insight to why I did what I did. Now I know to stay away from certain behaviors or situations that could cause an urge to reach for alcohol. I can get to a meeting, pick up the phone, completely remove myself from an environment that may not be healthy. In Augusten Burrough's memoir of drinking "DRY" he is confronted by his coworkers who want him to get help. He thinking he's really going to stick it to them and asks to go to rehab at a place for homosexuals in Duluth Mn. He is envisioning a spa like atmosphere, perhaps meeting a new companion, etc. When he arrives he is in shock. The facility is old, most of the letters missing on the sign. The inside is worse. A steril undecorated atmosphere with cafeteria food included. However after resisting for a while he starts to learn something about himself. He starts to make a few friends, and he stops drinking. When he heads back to New York and unlocks his apartment door he is shocked by what he sees. Almost every square inch is covered in empty bottles. Gone is the glamorization of drinking. Sure a cleverly decorated martini glass filled with booze and a bunch of girlfriends living it up after work certainly looks more fun than sitting in a dimly lit room talking with people who are struggling with a disease that too often runs their lives. To me I never bothered with those differences. I was just to happy to find the similarities. I am no different than anyone else that sits in those rooms. My brand of alcoholism wasn't any more special than yours. I simply choose to stop the maddness, stop the chaos. So when I feel that snubbing, or that dismissal of a AA, the program that has given me so much, I try not to let it bother me. I know it works. I see the miracles it performs on a daily/weekly basis. But instead of saying something out loud, I simply think in my head, "well, when you are ready to really get serious, I'll be here, and AA will welcome you with open arms". Any thoughts?.....

Friday, April 15, 2011

In search of time for me......

Crazy week. Way too much going on. The last two months of school in the spring are the worst. My teenager is swamped with field trips, papers, tests, deadlines etc..he has his nails chewed to a new all time low. My younger two have field trips, class events, lock-ins, birthday sleepovers etc. It's gottten so bad that I had to schedule an afternoon off to fit in a final check on Alex's foot that he had surgery on. I'm running in one direction and my husband is going in another. I feel overwhelmed! Like I've slipped below the surface. This is not a good place for an alcoholic to be in. It's worse than thin ice. I was going over some things with a collegue this morning and she leans in and says, "did you ever just slip up and take even one sip?" I looked at her and said, "no why would I?" to which she replied, "well people say it's so hard to quit drinking and you made it look so easy, that I just thought".......What I wanted to say is "You thought wrong!" then this person went on to say, "hey, you're doing so good I bet you don't even need those meetings anymore!" Every fiber of my being stiffened! "Not need meetings anymore?" The day I do not need meetings anymore is the day I feel I'm cured, and I'm far from cured. Now in this person's defense they don't quite get the whole "recovering" alcoholic bit. I am forever a work in progress. There isn't another option for me. It's been proven over and over to me that God and AA are doing for me what I could not do for myself. I haven't hit a meeting all week, and I'm ready to crawl out of my skin. Every nerve is crying, "I need to talk to people who understand me! I need my AA peeps!" So I went into my office, shut the door, closed the blinds, and set my head on the desk. "God grant me.....I am always amazed at how many times God speaks to me per day. Today he used a coworker to say, "Liz you need a meeting". I need a realignment. I need to be in a room full of people that suffer just like I do on a daily basis. They get me, they don't question me, they know just what I need. So I will hit a meeting on my way home from work tonight. I don't think I can make the weekend without it. I hope to catch up on blogs today, and I hope you all have a happy spring weekend. We have snow, ice, and rain coming tomorrow. Only in Wisconsin......:)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Taking yourself as is.....

It never amazes me how life unfolds exactly as you didn't plan it. Take this weekend. I decided to "neutralize" my daughter's bedroom. It was a rather wild room painted in colors of aqua, purple, yellow, green and hot pink&black dots. Very fun, but a little "overstimulating" for a rather active child. So we decided to paint it. A girl project. In other words my husband wanted no part of the deal. In his exact words,"If you girls want to do it great, but count me out." And yes, he could be excused as he was fighting a cold. Both her brothers consented to help so off we went to the store. Grace chose a beautiful blue/violet wall color. Very soothing. With soft black accents I knew we could make this room rock. We choose some fun accessories and headed home. We started with emptying the room and then the fun really began. There I was staring at a dark aqua ceiling that had to be painted white. No big deal, I've watched my husband do this millions of times. So I started and needless to say four neck breaking coats later and the ceiling was white. Time to do the walls, which was rather easy since the color covered beautifully. The work continued into Sunday and me thinking that I would be safe, crawled into the same paint spotted clothes I had worn the day before, put a Hannah Montanna headband on (hair sticking out in all directions) no make-up, and my glasses which were splattered with a million white paint spots. The weather was warm and stormy, I was sweating like a pig, and while I was hanging her new curtains my daughter runs into the room, "Mommy some old people are here to see you, I think it's your grandfather". Which would be interesting since both have been dead for years so I say, "Well bring them in honey, mom's a little tied up right now". A few minutes later in walks my godparents. I love these people! My godfather Jack turned 85 on Saturday and you would never know it. I had left a message on Saturday and since they were out and about on Sunday they decided to stop in. And look they brought there middle son whom I had a huge crush on when I was in high school. He flew home for his dad's birthday. Now married (to a woman I really like) and father of two children we haven't seen each other in ten years. He looks great, fit, trim, and tan and then horrified I remember what I look like. UHHHGGGGG this always happens to me! As he's crossing the room to give me a hug my oldest child and husband are standing in the doorway barely able to control their laughter. I had no where to go! No bag to pull over my head. My only hope was that I had at least brushed my teeth that morning but I was so exhausted and sore from working all weekend I couldn't remember. What does a girl do! Now why don't people stop over on Saturday when at least I had makeup on! Thanks God for family. My kids were so busy entertaining everyone, showing them around, showing them their rooms, that I completely forgot about being self concious of my less than "charming" look. They stayed for an hour and we all promised to get together for a cookout this summer. Later on my oldest and I were putting Grace's room together and I was telling him all the stories of our two families and all the fun we had when I was growing up. I went on to say I was mortified that I looked the way I did when they stopped to which he replied, "You looked great mom, you worry to much about stuff like that, no one cares. Besides aren't you glad they stopped over?" And yes, once again thank you God for giving me another humbling moment. "Yes, I am really glad they stopped", I said. And the amazing thing is I meant it! It is what it is, and I am what I am, and either way life's sweet little moments shouldn't be overshadowed by self conciousness. So as usual instead of me teaching my children they taught me. Just be yourself and everything will work out fine.....

Friday, April 8, 2011

Flash 55 Friday

Young Artist

Paint me a picture
of your mind's eye,
full of grand landscapes
and minute detail
Wash it in color I
would never expect
shading, and highlighting
your dreams and cityscapes.
Reality, fiction, duality
and composition, be it oil,
watercolor, carbon or pastel
Sign your name with a flourish to
mark this age for all eternity......

Our oldest child is an aspiring young artist. He has been able to draw from a very early age. This year his art has really exploded and with each class he takes it's exciting to watch his talent grow and grow. He is painting a canvas to go on auction for the Center of Visual Arts fundraiser in May. When he is done I will try to post it. He's also finishing a painting for my hubby's and my bedroom but has some touching up to do. He like most artist's is highly critical of himself. Starving artist or not we will back him all the way and hopefully he will be able to work doing something he loves....The sun is shining, the snow is melting, and I hope you get kissed by the sun this spring weekend.....

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Zero Accountability...

This morning while working at my desk I overheard a conversation between our companie's dispatcher and a truckdriver. My door was cracked open enough to hear the both of them clearly. This man was definately opinionated. He had a view point on everything from the president (who was nothing but an idiot) to all the "queers" in the military, to "there wasn't anything wrong with George Bush" to "who the hell is going to run for president next time". He kept calling Mike Huckaby "Huckleberry" and he ranted and raved for over a half hour. I woke up with a migraine on the right side of my head this morning, and after he left I can tell you it was quickly spreading. The dispatcher knowing that I had listened poked her head in and said with a "devilish" smile, "you're tongue bleeding yet?" I just laughed. By now I should be used to this sort of thing. Talk like this is pretty common in the factory part of the business I work for. During the last presidental election there were many heated debates between workers, and if you thought outside the box you were labeled "one of those bleeding heart librals!" I can only imagine what has been said about me. I heard comments when I pierced my nose. My favorite being, "why would a mother of three want her nose pierced! What kind of message is she sending those kids!" Well to know me you would laugh at that statement. I look like a pretty conservative person, but I definately think out of the box. This is an area in which my hubby and I clash, but when my ultra conservative brothers are complaining about my liberal ways he always says, "she definately has her own opinions". And really I could care less what you believe in. My opinion is just that my opinion. Yours belongs to you. If you have strong convictions about something by all means defend them, but do not try to make me feel that I am wrong, or evil, or helping ruin society because I feel differntly towards something. I can't stand that form of "smug" judgement that comes from people when they think it's their way and no other. If no two people are created the same then why should we all think the same way? I even see this in the rooms of AA. People who feel meetings and traditions can only be run in a certain fashion. Only certain books can be read, you must live a severe tacturn way of life once you sober up. And there's the other extreme where people sit and hand you every excuse as to why they drink and remember it's never their fault. I didn't want it to be my fault either when I came in. I used to think "I drink because I'm a working mother of three, with a husband who works every evening, no help, I have to do everything, I'm so everwhelmed that the only way for me to relax is drink'. No, instead of actually looking at the situation and taking responsibility for my life I wanted to blame everything and everyone. I was the victim, how could I also be the problem. Because I was the one with the disease of alcoholism. I had to take accountability for my actions. I didn't want to but if I wouldn't have done it, I never would be where I am. I would still be drinking. It's always so easy so flip out words, to throw accusations, to act as if you have all the answers. It's much harder to accept your own part of the blame. I tend to be more quiet about things, as where before I would have jumped in and shot my mouth off, upsetting myself and another person. Now I just know that I have to take care of my own self. We can have different ideas and opinions. There's not a "good side" vs. "bad side". And growth comes in not trying to change someone else's mind to match yours. Listen, evaluate, and learn from other people. You may just be surprised at what you uncover.....

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Can you please get me the Moon?

Last night I was finally able to attend an AA meeting that I haven't been back to for a while. It's a little distance from where I live, but it's hosted by my friend M, a smaller intimate meeting that reads the Daily Reflections and then we each share our experience, strength, and hope as it relates to the reading. There were some metaphores going on in reference to the moon. Many interpretations were given and it was an excellent meeting. For myself the reading struck home at my imaturity when I first came through the doors. I had the mentality of a 17 yr. old. Locked away in my young mind I was in a 41 year old body, but still seeking parental and peer approval, still thinking the world revolved around me, still be selfish in my needs and wants, and completely oblivious to the destruction I had been delivering for years. My mental state assured me I was fine, "just stay where you are and no one will get hurt." Hmmmm, cunning, baffling, and powerful? You bet. Because when the smoke began to settle and I saw all the debris that was left I got really scared. And what is the reaction of a scared child or young adult? Run! and run far I did. Way into the back of my mind. So you imagine how terrified I was when my sponsor informed me that I was going to go from 17 to 41 in a matter of months. Can I have a "hall pass"? or perhaps be excused to the nurses room?" I'm not feeling all that up to "growing' right now. But the beauty of AA is you are so busy staying sober and working the steps that you don't even realize how much you are growing. You start to become someone you never imaged you could be. And before you know it your biological and mental state are one in the same. It wasn't until I was done with my sixth step that I paused for a moment and realized that teenage girl was gone. My relationship changed with my parents, my siblings, my spouse,friends, coworkers, and children. Boundaries went up, that needed to be up, and I finally started to participate in the roles that I needed to. So what about the moon? The moon analogy represents my impatience. I want it all and I want it now. Go get me the moon! I don't want to wait for a sliver, a half, or even a three quarter, I want the whole moon, front and center. But wait there's a catch. The times I have grown the most are when I'm on the dark side of the moon. Out of the light. We need to have things in stages, or it would overwhelm us and we would give up. So the phases of the moon represent the ebb and flow of every day life. There are times when darkness will surround us, and there are times the light from the moon will illuminate us. I have really struggled with patience and learning to wait this past year but I think I see a sliver of light at the end of the tunnel. Six weeks ago I submitted some poetry to the UW Marathon Campus's spring Mush publication. It's a publication of poems and short stories, that the public is welcome to submitt to. I was told I would hear by March if a piece of mine had been selected. March came and went. Not hearing anything I just chalked it up to inexperience as a writer and moved on. What a delightful way to start my Monday when I opened my email and there it was "You've been approved!" One of my poems is going to be published in their spring publication. There's a kick off party that I'm invited to, and it also explained the rigorous process that each piece of writing had to go through before it could be voted on and accepted. I almost fainted. In the past I would have driven myself crazy with the fact that I had failed, should I contact them, etc. But this time when I accepted it right away and moved on something great happpened. So there are important phases to go to before the full moon. Those tiny steps in the darkness help build your character so you can really shine in the full light of the moon. So yes, there are times when I still want the whole moon, but I now know how important it is to wait in darkness, to ensure that when it shines, it shines brighter than any expectation I may have had......

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Wishing I had the answers....

I love Saturday meetings. They're largely attended, people are relaxed and in good moods. Laughter fills the club, the meetings flow, and you leave refreshed and renewed for the hours that lie ahead. As the meeting was starting I saw the doors open and my friend R slip in. He holds a special place in my heart because he was the person who answered the phone the day I called the AA hotline. Two things he said, made me feel like I was ready to go. I have used those same words of wisdom on other people and they have remembered them as well. I hadn't seen R in months, but I ask mutual friends of ours how he's doing. He's in school, so I know he's busy, he's divorced and tries to see his young son as much as he can. However when he walked through the doors yesterday I was shocked. His hair was longer, uncombed, his clothes ragged, his blue eyes worn out. He kept his eyes down and headed for a seat in the back. When he sat down he looked across to me and nodded. I know R's story. My husband and I heard his testimony last year. He's had a tough road but he's also been an inspiration to many others. And you know my alcoholic mind, all I could think about is "what the hell is going on?" The meeting got under way and there were two new people there for their first time so we had a first step meeting. I love first step meetings. I always learn so much and yesterday was no exception. I know those meetings give me way more than I can give them. After the meeting a bunch of us were standing around talking and laughing when R tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around and held my arms open. He walked into the embrace and just let his whole weight fall. Now I'm only 5'3 so I shuffled us over to the chairs before I fell down. My friend is broken. Now that my cold heart has melted in AA it feels when people are broken. I quietly said, "what's going on"? For the next twenty minutes out it came. Still in school, no job, locked in a relationship in which the other person pays for everything so she holds it over his head, has no where to go, feels trapped, they fight all the time, she gambles constantly, and on and on and on....I sat and listened. Thank God AA has taught me to listen. When he was done he looked at me and sighed. Now I realize that my friend is on a bit of a pity pot but when you're in that place the last thing you need is someone pointing out the obvious. So we looked at some options he may have not considered, talked with a few other people, and in a little while R started to look a little better. But then he looked at me and said, "sometimes I hate coming here, and hearing how happy people are, how great their lives are, and I'm five years in and I thought things would be so much better for me by now, and they're not. Sometimes I really think God is trying to bust my chops." Yikes I was in desperate need of an answer. So I quickly said the serenity prayer. Then I looked and my friend and said," I wish I had the answers. I don't. People aren't problem free because they're happy. We just have choices now. When I was drinking I had no choices. You have choices, they might not be clear at this moment but they're there, and they will come. Life is testing you, not God. He wants you to cling to him, and maybe the outcome won't be what you're hoping for. Maybe you will make it through this with your faith intact, and that's what he has designed for you." I had to get going, so we hugged and I started down the sidewalk knowing that I don't have any answers. I can only do for my friend what he once did for me. Share my experience strength and hope, and pray that it will be enough.......

Friday, April 1, 2011

Recovered vs. recovering......

Yesterday, sick of paperwork, crabby employees, and endless task lists, I took the afternoon off. Did grocery shopping(only had to give away one whole leg and half an arm)because the price of food baffles me, and I do not indulge! Just the basics cost a small fortune. Not to mention the teenage vacumn the consumes non stop in our home. After the groceries were put away my two youngest children and I went to see Diary of a Whimpey Kid Roderick Rules! For anyone unfamiliar with these books, pick one up at your local bookstore and read a few chapters. They are very funny, and you will be able to relate. I liked the first Whimpey Kid movie, and really liked this one. We all laughed, hooted, ate way to much buttery popcorn, and had an enjoyable afternoon. I dropped them off, threw a kiss to my hubby and headed back out the door for my seven o'clock We are Not Saints Group. My buddy D celebrated his seventh anniversary last night. I have known D for almost a year now, he and his wife met in AA and were married last June. A lovely couple. D started his recovery in jail. His sponsor spoke of the first time he met D at a jail meeting. He said lots of guys come to meetings just to get our for a while but few have the desire to change. He knew when he met D that this man was different. He desperatley wanted to get and stay sober. It was a very touching story, so awesome to hold his seven year coin and bless it. Not to mention that D is now a chef, and he made the most awesome cake. As we sat around eating cake and drinking out coffee we talked about recovered vs. recovering. I hear some people say they are grateful to be recovered alcoholics. I guess for me that's not an option. Recovered suggests a solution, an end. This program doesn't end. Well it does for people who walk away from it, but it's a program of growth and change. Perhaps these people have been cured from the urge to drink. It is one of the promises that I am so grateful for. But being fully recovered would mean to me that there is no more room for growth, or improvement. There's always room for that. And let's not forget humility. I need daily doses of that to keep me real. When I feel smarter, better, or judgmental towards people, a warning bell goes off in my head. I need to work my program! I need to focus on me, get back to the business of me. I will always be a work in progress. I don't want the end. I want growth, and the wonder of living, and that can only be found by being willing to take chances, learn from your mistakes and grow. After discussing this topic for a while other people started to talk about how after you are sober for a while you feel like you have all the answers. One man said he was just on fire after the first year. He was going to save everybody, especially his brother. He ended up embarrassing his brother in front of his peers and retreating with his tale between his legs. A lady talked about how after her first year she had the solutions for everyone. At Christmas time she bought AA big books for her parents, her brother, everyone she knew that was an active drinker. Needless to say these gifts were not to happily received. She said her mother gave hers away to Goodwill. We all laughed and sympathised because we had all been there. So in order for me to be genuine I must remember that I am not recovered. This disease is a part of me, and even if I'm not drinking it's actively progressing, just waiting for the day when I take a drink. I do not want that day to happen. So I will keep my eyes, ears, mind, and heart open for change and growth. Because as I've said before "if you're not growing, then you're dying".....