Letting Go

Like I said in my last post, I was to give my lead (my addiction journey) at my Sunday AA meeting.   Well ….. I am proud to say I did it!

I was surprisingly calm.   I am usually a basket case before a lead.   I didn’t have the time to worry about it with only 1 days notice.  I usually would have not accepted a last minute offer or I would have spent the 4th of July at home practicing and writing instead of enjoying the holiday.  I was not a bit nervous and had no anxiety.   Very strange for someone like me who is an anxious person to begin with.    

In the past, I would practice practice practice, make notes and write down word for word what I wanted to say.   This time I decided it was time to let go of the control and give it over to God.     Just letting go of the outcome had a peaceful affect on me.   I like to be in control.   Letting it go is not my usual way.

I have been doing much better of giving over control of other things as well.   There is an upcoming picnic for our club, planned by my social committee.   I have given over control and am letting others help.   Things may not match perfectly,   the cake not be decorated as I would have chosen and I am letting folks bring whatever they choose.   I like things to be a certain way when I am planning something.    Life as we know it will not end if things aren’t perfect, in fact I will probably be the only one to notice.

Back to my story or as we call call it my lead ….. it came off well.   People in the rooms laughed with me when appropriate, they listened with open ears and the comments afterwords were encouraging.    I talked for approximately 40 minutes with no notes, no practice and no idea of what I was going to say.  I let God have control over my words and it worked.   It took away the fear and anxiety and I just spoke from my heart.  When it was over, I was not sure exactly what I said, but all the feedback was quite positive and it felt good.   I felt relieved that I could get out of my comfort zone and do this.     Who knows now what I will be able to do next.

It has taken me years to loosen the reigns of control especially in giving a lead.   I have given several during my 13 years in the program, but not once I have let go until this last time.   I know I am finally making progress, I am learning more about myself and I am trusting the process.    All good stuff.

So instead of just saying the words; Let Go and Let Go, I have to practice what I preach!

Freedom

Pool day, fireworks and more fireworks ….. Yes it is the 4th of July 💥

The fireworks start going off days before the 4th at least in our neighborhood with the big city shows and crazy neighbor shows tonight. A lot of big cities and towns are closing shop again and having shelter in place rules due to an increase in the COVID virus A few cities even around here have required mask wearing. But in my small Ohio suburb, life goes on for the most part.

Even though things in this country are a little crazy with some unrest, I am still grateful to be living in the USA. Maybe because it is all I know, but from what I know, Yes … I am. Is our country perfect … not at all, but I am grateful for the freedoms we have and the life I have.

This morning at the AA meeting we talked about the Freedom from alcohol and drugs on this Independence Day. It was a great discussion and gave me pause to really think. Today, I have the freedom of choice. There once was a time when I needed and had to take the pills or have drinks. By the Grace of God, today I more often than not make good choices and there is a freedom in that. Freedom to be the person I was meant to be. With the pain pill incident, I had a choice and I chose well. In this Country we are free, thanks to the founding Fathers and those who serve and I am so very grateful for that too.

I have the choice to be the hand in AA to be there for others and to be of service to the group. I was asked to today to give the lead tomorrow morning. Not my favorite thing to do, but if you can do it, you should do it. I choose to be honest and say yes to be of service. I usually have a lot more time to prepare and I make a huge deal out of it, writing it all out, color coding and practicing. I am trying something different this time. I am just going to trust God will give me the words and speak from the heart. I know my story and can tell it as I see fit tomorrow. It is a little nerve wracking and out of my comfort zone, but I have to have faith. I have found a little freedom in going with the flow for this lead which is kind of amazing for this control freak. Freedom from worry and stress is a peaceful feeling. I just must not think too much about it. I will let you know how it goes. It may be good, it may be only 15 minutes long, I may stumble through it. I am just going to do what I can. These are my friends and they may laugh with me, but never at me. It will be ok.

Freedom comes in many forms. We should appreciate and enjoy each freedom we have been given …… Freedom is a Gift!

The Pain Meds

I love being sober.   I love the life I have created, the friends that I have made and the people I may help by being sober.   The gifts of sobriety are too numerous to count.

The disease of addiction though, is cunning, baffling and powerful.   It wants to see me use, it wants to see me dead.    My diseases recently reared its ugly head that made me questions everything I know and love.

It started about 10 days ago, with a medical procedure.     I had my no colon version of the colonoscopy, a pouchoscopy.   A test to take a look at my Jpouch that is sort of the same monster of the colonoscopy.   In the past when I had my check ups at the Cleveland Clinic with my surgeon no anesthesia was used.   New hospital and new surgeon, a lot closer to home and the use of anesthesia.   Yay!!!  because the other way in my opinion was barbaric.  I am an addict.   I like anesthesia.    My drug of choice was a sedative.   The all day sleep I got after the procedure and that kinda groggy feeling was all too familiar.  Ok, so it really was no big deal.

That was a Friday,  fast forward to the following Monday and I had my hand surgery for carpal tunnel.   I just had a local for that one – numb hand and fully aware and awake.    But that one came with pain pills, though it is not my drug of choice it is still a good drug!  I took one as soon as I could with the still numb hand as directed by the doctor and took a nice nap.   Took another one for the next 3 nights.  Good sleep.    Ok, so no problem, I am taking them as directed.   It is when the pain isn’t enough to warrant the pain meds that the problems begin.

When do you stop, how do you know the pain is really over?   I believe you know, I knew.    But those damn pills where still there and they wanted me to take them.   They never stopped singing that sweet song as my sponsor said.    Spoiler alert:   I did not take the pills.   I struggled, I fought with myself, I obsessed, I stressed.   I held the pills, I counted the pills, I even tried to smell the pills.   All this and I was just a little bit stronger than the disease …. this time.    I talked to my therapist and I emailed with my sponsor.  They both told me to do what I knew to do – hand over the pills to Steve to get rid of for me.    God knows I could not throw them out.   But I did not want to.    Why I felt the need to hang on to them and torture myself with their presence is beyond me.   I finally caved and slightly mentioned it and before I knew it they were gone.   I had so many mixed emotions, relief and anger both.

Later I come home to an empty house and searched high and low for those meds.   I have had a moment of the fuck-its. Steve is good at hiding things … too good and I am angry and grateful.    This disease plays you …. the you that is sober and the you that is still an addict.   It can be very confusing and all consuming.   It is exhausting.

I know the pitfalls of addiction.  I know the benefits of being sober.   The disease of addiction will rear its ugly head whenever and however it can.    I know I could easily fall for it.  It is cunning, baffling and powerful as it showed it self to be this past week.

I am still not sure if I am over it yet.  Yikes!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now 53

Today is June 9th ….. My birthday and I am now 53 years old.    Time keeps marching by.   This year I am in Sarasota Florida with my husband and 22 year old daughter,  We bought a condo here with my brother and friend.   It is nice to get away, but you all know I like home best.

I went back and read the post when I turned 51 and all the gratitude I had for life.  Today I am still grateful, but life seems so much more complicated, out of control and in need of a makeover.

We are getting through this COVID 19 pandemic.   The lock downs are letting up and stores are opening, but people are still afraid and wearing mask while keeping distance.  Only so many allowed in restaurants and stores.  A lot of people are still out work and it is difficult to find a job. Most people are just over the whole thing.  But all are unsure of what will happen next and what our new normal will be.

Then comes the Black Lives Matters protests over the killing of a black man by a white police office.   I get the disgust, uproar and the protests, but I hate to see all the rioting and other people killed because of it.   Yes we need change and equality.   I get that, but destroying property and causing trouble is not to me the answer, but then again what do I know about being black … nothing.   All I know is that the rioting is scary and that we need a new normal of acceptance of all people.

The other thing that is going on is that one of my younger daughter’s friends passed away … the reason they are thinking is getting hit with tear gas at one of the above said protest.   We are still waiting for confirmation of the exact cause of death.  Rumors are flying around, people are harassing the family and social media is going crazy.  Definitely a hard time for the family and friends of this young woman and also this mother.

So this year on my birthday I am struggling to make sense out of life, struggling to stay sober and struggling to stay sane.    I just wonder what this world is coming to.    Sometimes I even struggle with what to pray for and about right now while things are in such upheaval.

I do look back and realize how privileged my life has been despite all the issues I have faced.   I had everything I needed during the COVID lockdown,  I am not in a city where violence and rioting is going on and my children are alive and healthy.    I can get the health care I need and the addiction treatment I need.  I have a loving stable family and many friends both in and out of recovery.     We have the means to survive.

So on this day, June 9, 2020 I am 53 years old.    The world is in chaos, but I can still find the gratitude I need to keep on Keeping on!!!

My Dad

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I will always remember May 28, 2010 …. The day my precious Daddy died.  He died suddenly with no waning of a blood clot to his heart.   This year, 2020 it has been 10 years since that day and I remember most of it as if it were yesterday.

I remember the middle of the night phone call ( 1:30 AM) from my Mom, arriving at the same time as my one brother, the hospital emergency room, the announcement call of time of death, calling to tell my husband that my Dad was dead and then Steve showing up with the girls who were 15 and 12 at the time and then calling a few close friends.  We gathered as a family around my Dad and said the Our Father.   To this day, 10 years later I can not say the Our Father with closed eyes without seeing my Dad in the ER and tearing up a little.

Growing up, my Dad and I were very much a like with our Italian tempers and often butted heads.  When I went away to college is when our closer relationship started.  My Dad was my biggest cheerleader and his support was always unwavering.    My family, Dad, Mom, 2 brothers and I all worked in the family pizza business.   I remember being in the office that Thursday before he died and the ordinary conversation we had before I left for home. I had no idea that would be the last conversation I would have with my alive Dad.

My Dad taught us well.   He was a family man, with a great belief in our Lord and Savior.  I know he is with his God in heaven and that gives me some comfort.  My Dad had done succession planning for the business with my brothers ( I chose not to be an equal owner operator – I wanted to be a mom to my children, not a business owner). Our company was like family and his death really had an effect all the employees and the community as a whole.   My brothers and our office staff did not miss a beat in keeping things going for our pizza chain and dough business.  My Dad did well.

I took my Mom home and stayed with her through the morning.    My brothers cleaned up the bedroom before we got there.   Neither of us slept much.   The TV drowned out our emotions.   Stupid TV informercials in the middle of the night early morning.

I don’t know how I became the strong one in the family during this time.    I planned and organized most of the funeral with some help from the family.   I was numb and just going through the motions.  It took me a long time to actually get to the grieving part.

I can not begin to say how many people were at his visitation.   The line was hours long for the duration.  I remember certain friends being there.  The support I had from my AA friends was incredible.  I probably would not have gotten through that time with out that support.   The actual funeral was beautiful with a packed church.  My Mom wrote a little something that the priest read and I remember his 4 grand daughters taking up the gifts for communion.  It was a special moment.   My Dad was liked by everyone.   The celebration of life afterwords held in a reception hall was full of wonderful stories and memories of my Dad.

I wish my Dad could see the successes of his children and grandchildren and our business.  He never got to meet my brother’s wife, Carey or little Caroline.   But I know he sees them.

They say over time memories fade and people forget.    I know many will never forget my Dad, He made an impact on many in our community especially his dear family and friends.

Our family is gathering on Sunday for a day of celebration of his life and to share our memories and grief.   I feel sad today missing my Dad.   I also feel grateful to have been born to such great and loving parents.    Life is for the living, but we can still cherish and miss those who are no longer with us.     So many memories ….. I will never forget my wonderful Daddy ❤️ .

The Overdose

Some people can drink alcohol and others can not.    Those who have crossed that invisible line will never be able to drink like a normal person.   We have an allergy.   A disease of the mind, body and soul.    The obsession that only an addict / alcoholic knows.  We were once spiritually empty and now we are full.   Recovery is a beautiful thing.

I have a dear friend in my 12 step program who lost his son this week to an overdose.  He lost his daughter 10 years ago to a motorcycle accident.    Sometimes life just doesn’t seem fair.  Why do some of us make it to recovery while others do not?  There are so many people out in the world who do not know how great a sober and clean life can be.

My friend is not the first one I know to loose a child in this program.   A few I know have lost children to this disease and another to murder.   Brothers, Fathers, Mothers, Sisters, Friends have all been lost,.  Despite these heartbreaks losing a child has to be the toughest (though I can not be the judge of that).    Amazingly, these friends of mine have been able to remain sober and lean on the fellowship, their higher power and the 12 steps to see them through.    I have the upmost respect and awe for those who can remain sober and steady in the face of tragedy.     I don’t know if I would have as much grace, I can only pray that I would.

We feel the pain of the death of another addict / alcoholic.    We know the struggle, the pull, the obsession.   We think of ourselves and but for the grace of God it could have been us, it could have been me.

We went over Step one and powerlessness at the meeting today.    The deceased young mans best family friend was there (along with my friend, the Dad)   She realizes now how close death can actually be if she does not get clean.  It was heart wrenching.    We or I must never forget how close death actually was and can be if I choose to go back to pills and alcohol.    We, the alcoholic / addict are powerless over  people, places and things.   We must change everything in order to survive.

I am at a place in my life where I can be around alcohol and people who drink moderately.   When friends and family get drunk and silly and stupid, well that is where my tolerance ends.   I know for me what I can and can not handle with others and the drinking …. its all about the people, place and things.   Some we can handle others we can not.

For my friend, I am really sad.   His son had been to meetings at out club.   My friend tried tirelessly to save his son from those demons.  In the end though he had to save himself …. both my friend and his son.

No Cap, No Gown

This is the week we were supposed to be in Chicago for my youngest daughter’s college graduation.   We had an awesome week planned with graduation celebrations and a roof top party with family and friends.  As we all know the world has changed and life has been canceled or I should say put on hold due to the coronavirus.

I am sad for the class of 2020 missing all the pomp and circumstance of the graduation season.   I am also sad that the next chapter is also put on hold as it is hard to find a job right now and the economy is crap.   All the plans and hopes that Kirsten and her roommates had to stay in Chicago to work and live are not panning out at this time.  Most likely they will all have to go home to figure out the next step.

Loyola University Chicago, The Institute of Environmental Sustainability had a virtual graduation ceremony last night.  There was no Cap and no Gown, but it was nice to have some closure for the past 4 years.   It was a different kind of graduation.   The school is scheduling an in person ceremony for all graduates in Chicago for early August, but it still will not be the same.

Kirsten has had a wonderful 4 years in Chicago at Loyola.   She has grown into lovely, compassionate, outgoing, world traveler who is very driven.  She was once a homebody, but no more.   I am really proud of my girl and all the things she has done.   She has worked super hard and graduated Magna Cum Laude.    She wants to change the world and I think she just might.

Though the world is in chaos at the moment, there is a new young crop of college graduates who are ready, willing and able to take the world by storm.  Though there may be no Cap or Gown at this time, it does not take away the achievements of this class.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

25 Years Old

Today my oldest daughter turns 25 years old.   How could that sometimes sweet, sometimes sassy little girl be all grown up and 25 …. and how can I already be 52?
She has always been independent and a little stubborn, well ok a lot stubborn.

My first baby, born May 3, 1995.    She was a about a week over due and had to be induced.    We went to the hospital at 6:30 AM and 12 hours later we had a little human who was totally dependent on my husband and I.    I will never forget the doctor handing my new baby girl to my husband and then my husband showing her off to my parents ….. hello I am the Mom and I need to see my baby!  She had to be forced out and was born with a little cone head, but she was still perfect (her head shape is now fine) and it was love at first sight.

My little girl has grown up to be a caring, hardworking, loving, independent, world traveler.    I could not be more proud of her.   She may not have found that perfect career yet, but she is still a very loyal and hard worker and I know she will land on her feet and find her passion.

She is finding her way in the world.    My girl and her boyfriend of several years are picking up and moving from our home state of Ohio to Dallas TX next month.   I am really excited for them to experience this and grow in their independence and as a couple.    If I am being honest, I selfishly like them closer to home, but it is not my life or my journey.

My wish for my children is that they are happy, caring, productive members of society and that they never forget where they come from.  I just want them to be good people and they are.

This child made me a Mom 25 years ago.   It hasn’t always been perfect, but I wouldn’t change a thing.   I have a fantastic relationship with both of my adult daughters.  I am grateful for my girls, my husband and the life we have made.

 

Trials and Tribulations

April 25, 1992, 28 years ago I married my best friend and for life partner.   I don’t feel this old and that I could actually be married to someone and the same person for over half of my life.   We have been through so many trials and tribulation and the fact that we are still together and love each other is no small miracle …. there is a force greater than us, we belong together.

We met in 1988 at Ohio University and for me it was love from the start.

We have been through illness, addiction, accidents, deaths, raising children, sibling issues, moves, separation, some things I just don’t want to write about and this quarantine.

I never would have survived my Ulcerative Colitis, colon removal surgeries and recovery with out my faith and the encouragement and care of my husband.   It was rough and life altering to say the least.  We got through it together. Addiction was also my problem.  I hid it very well from everyone including Steve, but when the shit hit the fan and I needed help, he was my biggest supporter.    He definitely knows now when I need a meeting or to be with my sober people.  He can’t totally understand the issues of addiction, but he does his best.

The death of my Father, 10 years ago, was a major blow for all of us as it was a sudden, with no warring death.   Steve and my Dad were very close.   My Dad was a Father figure to Steve and he was my biggest cheerleader.   We were able to weather that storm together.   We all still miss him terribly.

Life hasn’t always been a bowl of cherries.    At once point we were very close to divorce, but by the grace of God, we over came.    The separation from a job 1.5 hours away came at the time we needed the space from each other.   He got an apartment and came home on the weekends for the kids.    It was rough one, but we both had a chance to use this as a growing experience and to learn more about ourselves and each other.    With the help of therapist we gave it another try and for that I am grateful.

This quarantine has us together almost constantly and it has been good.   We genuinely enjoy each others company and doing things together.   I will admit though time apart is also good  😊  But for the most part we are surviving this time at home together.

Life happens and life happens to all of us.    I am so grateful that there was a force that kept bringing Steve and I together.   April 25,1992 was a day that changed me to a Mrs. and guided my life to be what it is today and for that I am eternally grateful.

Meeting Time

I have been feeling a little isolated from my tribe during this time of quarantine.   I had been doing zoom AA meetings and some meet ups with friends.   It is not the same in any way shape or form.   I have been missing the personal interaction, the hugs and the fellowship that takes place before and after meetings.

With that being said, I had been getting complacent with my meetings.   Zoom was just not getting it done for me and I have been getting irritated with the technical difficulties and with everyone looking to me to get them fixed.   I was getting nothing out of these meetings … I just could not pay enough attention, so I quit logging on.   We all know that no meetings is not the correct answer.  I was getting very irritable and just feeling out of sorts being “off schedule”.     I think a lot of the state and country is getting sick and tired of the isolation.   We want to stay safe and healthy, but we also want to get back to life outside of our homes.

So I made the bold decision to go to a meeting in person.   I have mentioned before that our club is still open for meetings.   I had not been to an in person meeting in over a month.  It felt good just walking into the room.   The chairs are socially distanced, we don’t hug one another or hold hands during the Lord’s Pray.   But still … some people just got too close. No one wore a mask (including me).   I loved being in a meeting, but at the same time did not feel totally comfortable with it.    I think the media and everything has everyone so scared of contacting the coronavirus we just can’t relax while we are out, I know I couldn’t.   It doesn’t help that I am one of those people they talk about that need to be extra careful due to the auto-immune disease.

I don’t think it is time yet for me to be at in person meetings, but I am not sure what to do now to get a meeting.   I am probably going to have to continue to suffer through those zoom meetings, it is better than nothing at all.   I also think I need to try some other zoom meetings away from the club …. ones I am not in charge of.    What I really need to do though is pay attention during the meetings and not get so easily distracted.

The million dollar question is when will all this be over?    When will we find our new normal way of life in light of this pandemic?    Everyone is getting anxious, I know I am.   I really need to reconnect with my people and I look forward to when we can do that … in person!