Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Drowning in a Sea of Change

It has been forever. From what seemed like a winter that would never end to a hot and muggy day such as June 26, it seems an eternity. So much has happened. Life in all its frailty has burst through the surface of my life since I last blogged. To name a few changes: both my brothers (after 27 years of marriage) are getting divorced, our oldest son has graduated High School and is already registered at his college for classes in the fall. I overcame my dread of interstate driving in a busy city, and a very beloved Aunt has passed within three weeks of diagnosis from cancer. Many more things have happened but I've stopped counting. Sea of change was getting too deep.

I thought perhaps we could just ease into spring but life rarely goes as planned. With all this turmoil comes a fresh perspective. Marriage on its best day is hard work. People change, they evolve, life stomps in and demands its own way and we rarely survive the tantrum. Its strange to watch lives built together for so long slowly dissolve. People have to start over and rebuild what they never imagined, a life without their signifigant other. Children even grown are affected, two households emerge as well as feelings of anger, betrayal, and bewilderment.

Children grow up. I didn't think taking our oldest to register for classes would be emotional. Guess again. They seperated the students from the parents and off they went. They showed us the saddest movie clips possible in regards to children leaving the nest and all of us moms and dads cried. I watched my son walk in the cafeteria surrounded by his peers laughing and talking and I let him be. I quietly finished my lunch alone. At the end of the first day I texted him the magic question: "Can I go to the hotel?" or "do you want me to stay for the last session"? He found me and said "GO" and as I was walking away he ran up behind me and said with the biggest smile on his face, "I'm so glad I choose this school"! I couldn't be sad at that statement now could I?! So I climed in the car and headed into the city. All alone, not having driven an express way in years. Thank goodness for smart phones and GPS. I hit rush hour traffic but made it to my hotel and found that I was upgraded to a king suite at no extra charge. The place was built in 1917 and when I entered the softly lit marble lobby, with its pillars, and fabulous architecture, Frank Sinatra was softly crooning and I knew I was right where I belonged. My favorate Italian restaurant was only three blocks away so on a gorgeous summer eve I dined "el fresco" and took in the sights and sounds of the city. I loved being alone and remembering a time when I was 18 and wanted to live and work in the city. My fear of driving the expressways long forgotten. The next day we met up after he had registered. He was full of news from having spent a night in the dorms, meeting people, getting the courses he wanted etc. I also met some pretty cool moms and came away with a new friend or two. Our happiness was short lived.

One day back at work and my cousin sent a message. My beloved Aunt who was given 3 to 4 months was going within days. I needed to get there ASAP if I wanted to say good-bye. The next day we made it. They had doubled the morphine but her blue eyes still twinkled, and she was as beautiful and gracious as ever. I was able to tell her all that I wanted to say. And that is a privlege to be able to do so. Back to work on Friday and had to pull a backyard garden graduation party out of no where for Saturday. We had planned it for months but now 24 hours away I had to hit it into high gear. With a lot of help from so many awesome people we pulled it off. The yard was lit with lights, a tent, all the beautiful flowers, good food, great friends, and a very happy graduate. Not to mention the rain stayed away until late in the night. We did it, but right before the party started my dad came and told me my aunt had passed peacefully only an hour before. My heart was heavy and light at the same time. As I have said before life and death often hold hands. I've seen it a lot.

So while I have been drowning in the sea of change I have learned to savor even the unsavory. There are lessons to learn, and pieces of myself that need to be submerged in order to grow. I have shed tears for a loved one, felt empathy for those going through difficult times, and have experienced getting ready to have a child leave the nest. Do I feel wiser? I'm not sure but I can tell you, I do feel blessed, and I know I am richer for all of these changes...

Friday, March 15, 2013


I don't post a lot anymore. Partly because I'm busy and also because I'm in a good place. This blog was a tremendous help to me in early sobriety, and I still peek in at other blogs and garnish knowledge and wisdom from them but find the need for me to ramble to be less and less. However I recently came accross something that I felt like sharing.

What a joy it is to sober up and be present in one's life. I would have missed out on a lot if I would have kept drinking down the path I was headed on. My oldest son Alex was very instrmental in my early recovery. A freshman in high school at the time and active in the winter sport Curling. He made sure that he was home every night in time for me to head to a meeting. Since my husband wasn't exactly talking to me at this time it was wonderful to share my 30 day chip, my 3 month chip, my 6 month chip with someone who was so supportive. Thank goodness my other two children were small enough where they didn't really remember why mom was going to meetings every night. Now they love to look at my AA medallions and they know I still go to meetings but its just everyday life to them.

A few weeks ago I was getting a scholarship ready to mail that Alex had filled out. I came across the essay and started reading. He talked about feeling dumb and inferior to his classmates because he struggled in school. He shared openly how relieved he was when at age 12 he was finally diagnosed with Dyslexia. Then he went on to talk about how he had to learn how to believe in himself. He would be the one to make the change. No amont of tutoring, or extra homework help could make him achieve what he wanted. It had to come from inside. He talked about his jr. high grades and that by the end of his junior year in high school he couldn't believe the amount of change he had facilitated in himself.

When he registered for his freshman year he was told to take an easy math course, that he could opt for sign language instead of foreign language and that he should request extra time on tests. He said these recommendations seemed too easy to take advantage of so he selected a math course much higher, and German I, and didn't ask for extra time on tests. He wanted to see what he was capable of not what other people expected of him. Now just a little over two months from graduation I am happy to report the following: He has been on the honor roll consecutive times, he lettered and medalled academically, he is a member of the National Honor Society, the Interact Club, a Safe School Ambassador, he works at the GAP, has been accepted to an excellent private liberal arts college, received a merit and art scholarship towards his tuition and has completed four years of math, science, foreign language, did very well on his ACT's, never asked for a minute of extra time and will graduate with 12 college credits. This was his journey. My husband and I only encouraged, but he took the reigns and he did this. He didn't just talk the talk, he walked the walk.

He in many ways is my inspiration. To go from a C/D grade average to A's is such an accomplishment! He will be the first to tell you, "I'm not exactly naturally smart but I'm determined and very hard working." This in turn keeps me determined and very hard working. When I was a year into sobriety he started to really change. You could see there were definate things he wanted to do and he started to achieve them. I can't take credit for anything that he has done but I do think when he saw that I would be ok, that I had a program and people to help me stay sober he felt secure and strong enough to stop worrying about me and to take care of himself.

He makes me a better person, he makes me want to keep on being sober for years to come. I know that my husband and I have been very blessed with our three beautiful children and I am so glad that I have been sober through almost all of his high school years. What a gift to be able to watch someone grow, and shine. So thank you Alex, you are an inspiration to me, to never let anything stand in my way. That there really is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow....

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Happy Birthday to me....

Today is my actual birthday. 44 years old. But today marks an even more important day, my sober birthday. It allows me to only be 3 years old. 1096 days ago, I drank my last drink. Vodka and diet coke. I have no idea why I drank that particular blend, I was always a wine drinker, or a fun martini. I guess if I think about it it does have some signifigance in the fact that it reflected where I was in my alcoholism: bored.

Pain and boredom lead to sobriety. No one quits drinking when they are having fun. I knew I was no longer having fun three months before I entered AA. It had just become a necessity. A necessity to get through the day, the problems, the life. I remember thinking on more than one occasion before I sobered up ,"there has to be something better than this." And there was, and is, and there will continue to be.

I had lunch with some friends. Lots of laughter and banter. As I left to run some errands I began reflecting on the past three years. So bare with me as a take a look back on the last three years...

The first year was a roller coaster of emotions. High, low, medium, happy, sad, laughing, crying, etc. What a ride. I was so busy peeling back the onion layer after layer that I felt like I was living in a wind tunnel. So much to learn, so much to fix, so much to remember. Thank God that I had the sponsor I did. A no nonsense gal who took my hand and walked with me every way through the 12 steps. It is a year I will never forget. My "baby" year in so many ways.

My second year was one of challenge. My sponsor told me it was time to fly and I didn't want to leave the nest. I was terrified. What if I couldn't put all these tools and steps into place. It took me a bit to stand on my own two feet and to feel that I was ok on my own. Many things happened in my life during this year. Things that I would have drank over if I hadn't been sober. I somehow made it through them and never took a drop. This was my "learning to walk" year.

My third year. A year of grace. Grace from God, grace from life, grace from the program. This is the year I learned to breath. I finally put the stick down that I had been carrying for the last two years. I didn't need it anymore. I have learned one of the basic lessons of life: to be kind to myself. I'm good just the way I am. Not that I don't have faults that need work, an ego that needs to be kept in line, and a lot of learning to do. I just no longer feel that I have to micromanage everything. I have over thought, over talked, over analyzed in vain and for what? So now I cut myself some slack. I don't skimp on my program, I enjoy it. This is my "learning to run" year.

So what's next? A high school graduation for our oldest, then off to college three hours away. More time with our youngest as they move through junior high and onto high school. Time to garden, time to write poetry. Time to cook, time to laugh, time to cry, time to live life. A friend recently said, "we are all sick, hurting, and need to be taken care of". I am so happy that I can take care of those around me and myself. So no matter what lies ahead, it will be welcomed. Happy or sad, its my life. One that I never thought would be this good.

I need to give a shout to my sober anniversary sista "Sober Julie" over at Sober Julie Doing Life. She is awesome. It is such an honor to share sober anniversaries. She inspires so many people every day with her story, her joy, her happiness. She inspires me and I am humbled to be her blogger friend.

So now I will leave you with one of my favorite Anne Lamott quotes :"I do not understand the mystery of grace-- only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us" and I am so grateful that it found me. Blessings and love to all of you, and now I know there's a chocolate cake somewhere with my name on it......

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sometimes life is so not what you expect....

I haven't blogged in a while. I find the longer I'm sober the more time I spend living. Last week I sent a random text to my sponsor asking how she was surviving the frigid temps we were having and she immediately called my cell phone. Our friend A had died the night before. He drank himself to death.

A was one of the first people I met in AA. He had walked through the doors eight months before me. I remember him coming up to me at the end of my second meeting because I had said something that he could relate to. I had told the story of how when I took the recyclables out I would deposit one or two empty liquor bottles in my neighbors bins to I wouldn't look like such a lush. Turns out he did the same. A friendship was born. We would always say "hey neighbor" because we lived on the same street. I often saw him outside with his two beloved dogs when the kids and I would go bike riding. We always waved and exchanged a few words. I knew he was going through a divorce and that he had lost his job but he was always upbeat and so grateful that he was in recovery.

Last spring the divorce was finalized and thus began the unraveling of A. He fell off the wagon and ended up in rehab. He was fighting to come back. I would give him a ride home once in a while after a meeting and the last time we sat and talked I noticed the sparkle or light in his eyes was gone. His posture signified his defeat.
Last Monday night he went home and started a party for one and never came back.

Its funny how little you know about people. His obituary told a story that I knew nothing about. He was a successful business man, a president of a lumber company. Father of three grown children, active in boy scouts, even received the "order of the arrow" from them. He hunted, fished, golfed, skiied, and lived a rich full life. My friend D and I attended his wake yesterday. He was cremated but there were so many beautiful picture boards and memorabilia that it took a long time to take it all in. So many happy having fun pictures. Laughing and loving life. This is an A I never knew. He was in fact quite humble about his life.

The last time I saw him was two weeks ago at a Saturday meeting. He was slunk deep in his chair, unshaven, large black circles but still managed a heaty "hey neighbor" greeting. Now I won't have the privilege of hearing that again. He has left an empty space around the table.

Afterwards a bunch of us talked about our loss. We asked how other people were doing that we hadn't seen in a while. Many are back out there hoping to cheat death one more time. For my friend A there wasn't one more time. There won't be another time for others either.

I'm not sure what makes people go back out again. Life is too much, or staying sober is too difficult, or they've just given up and want to give in. It's heartbreaking. A was only 56. A lot of living still left to do. So as I'm approaching my third sober anniversary I am reminded that the disease is one small drink away. It makes me shudder to think that its always that close. Good bye A, may you find the peace you were so desperately searching for......