Writing

I decided to take my writing to the next level. I enrolled in an online writing course ….. Getting Started in Writing. It starts tomorrow and I hope I know what I am doing. I enjoy writing, but sometimes I believe I have gotten in over my head, even with this blog. I thought with this online course it was best to start at the beginning, and that is what I am doing.

I have recently sent some personal essays and poetry in to various writing contests where I know I am in over my head. I have no expectations, but was encouraged to do so, so why not? I figured you gotta start somewhere. I am looking to extend myself as I continue looking for purpose.

I always have enjoyed writing and as a child I dreamed of writing a book. I always kept journals when I was a kid and through adulthood. I remember as I kid I snatached a book from the library on how to be a published writer. What was I thinking? Today, as an adult, I am very self-conscious about my writing. I never think I am good enough and I have no experience. I do have volumes of journals about growing up in the 80’s and my struggles with addiction as an adult. I have saved notes written between friends in middle school and high school. I have a lot of material to work with. I just need some advanced writing skills.

This writing class I am about to embark on will tell me what my next step will be in this writing adventure. If nothing else it will maybe help me with writing this blog (but that is its own course and one I may take later).

So as I take this writing thing hopefully to the next level …. keep reading and wish me luck!

To Be of Service

I have had a number of sponsees in recovery over the years. Some stay, some go back out, some move on to other sponsors. I am actively working with 4 ladies and sort of another and 2 are MIA. Regardless, I remain available to each and every one of them.

I recently got a new sponsee. Someone who has been in the program for a few years, wanted a change and really wants to put more effort in her recovery program. I am super excited to work with her. She did have 15 years before a relapse. We are on the same page about a lot of things. I think we can help and guide each other.

The same week I got a text from a sponsee that has been out “working on her lead”, who I had not heard from for at least a year +. She had had some consequences and was ready to give sobriety another try. We have just started working back on step 1. She is touching base every day and is definitely on that pink cloud of recovery. She seems ready, able and willing. I just need to get her to see the benefit of more meetings.

I have a coffee date planned with another sponsee later this week. This one does not go to meetings at all, but seems to be able to stay sober in spite of herself. I don’t her from her too often. Hopefully she will show up and I can catch up with how she is doing.

I have also had lunch and coffee dates recently with some program friends who needed an ear. I am happy to oblige.

Today I got to go to a friends house with a group of women in recovery to just sit outside and fellowship …. cookies and lemonade included. It was a wonderful afternoon with some ladies I don’t hang out with too often.

My husband asked me what I really wanted to do in this next chapter of our lives and I told him that I thought I was doing it …. at least part of it. I love my friends in recovery. And I really love being a sponsor and of service to others.

I am grateful that today friends can count on me. It feels good to be needed and helpful. This past week I have seen, helped, listened to someone in recovery each day. These women and men too are my life line. I have my tribe and I love each of them dearly.

Thank you God for using me to help others.

Old Friend New

Way back in the 8th grade a new girl moved into my classroom and we became life long friends, until we weren’t.

Even though we went to different high schools we remained the best of friends. We went to the same college and joined the same sorority. We fought a lot like girls will do. Sometimes we would go weeks without speaking, but always made up, until we didn’t.

As young adults we hung out. We went on many vacations together before during and after kids. My husband and I are the godparents to all 3 of her girls, they are the godparents to mine. Our children are close in age and were the best of friends until things changed.

We worked in the same business for awhile and shared a lot of friends and activities.

We were always there for each other or as I look back, I was mostly there for her. I saw her through her postpartum depression. I was very close to her Mom and I was there when she was dying. I often kept my friends kids and cared for them as if they were my own. I really loved these people.

When I was really sick with my ulcerative colitis and surgery was looming, I was in dire straights. We had a big fight over something silly but supposedly all about me and that is when I had had enough. I needed a friend and she couldn’t be the person I needed. Our friendship became toxic and just like that we were no longer friends.

About 20 years went by.

We would occasionally run into each other around town, it was bound to happen when you have people, places and things in common. By a force greater than both of us we even ran into each other on the streets in Barcelona Spain. Talk about a strange coincidence. We would always be cordial, but there was nothing more. I kept holding on to that resentment.

As I look back, I am sad that I missed her kids, my godchildren, growing up. That we denied our girls their friendship. They are all young adults now.

This friend reached out to me years ago to get together for lunch to talk and catch up and at the time I was just not in a good place and could not handle it, so I did not do it. She reached out again last week and today we had lunch.

I was stressed a little about what may transpire, but it was actually a really nice 2 hour lunch. We talked about a lot of things; kids, families, common friends, sorority sisters old times and life in general. Of course we did not cover everything ….. as I am not sure where this reconnection is going. She has no idea what I have been through with my alcohol and pill addiction or my involvement in the recovery world. I don’t feel comfortable enough to share those secrets. But maybe they aren’t secrets. What about if there is a next time and we go out for drinks and dinner, then what? I know I am getting ahead of myself as we have made no plans for another get back together. It is the age old question on whether or not to disclose addiction issues.

She will never be my best friend again, but we don’t have to be enemies. Hopefully we can start anew and renew our friendship and move on from here. Her mom, I know is smiling from heaven she always was rooting for us.

Let’s just live and let live

Virtual Graduation

 

BCD29C23-E1FE-461E-A9FD-B2A2F76FC11F.JPGThis was supposed to be the postponed date for my daughters college graduation. Again we were supposed to be in Chicago this weekend celebrating this occasion with family and friends.   With the number of COVID cases rising it too, along with everything else was canceled.

It was a nice uneventful online ceremony.   The usual speakers.   The highlight was Loyola’s 101 year old Sister Jean speaking to the graduates.   She is an icon at Loyola, in Chicago and in the world of college basketball.  There were break out sessions for the different colleges at the university,   The whole thing took about an hour.

The graduates received a special graduation package to open during the ceremony.   It was a nice touch for an unprecedented situation.

I guess I shouldn’t complain, we had front row seats in the comfort of our own home.  I missed though all the pomp and circumstances and the celebrating as I am sure all the graduates did as well.

Kirsten and her friends have taken this all in stride.   It is not the graduation anyone wanted or planned.   Entering the next chapter has not been easy for these graduates.  Jobs are difficult to find in the midst of this pandemic.   In time I am sure everything will work out we just have to have a little more patience with the world right now.

Times are not ideal for many, I know a lot of people are struggling right now and have way bigger problems than a college graduation ceremony.  It puts things in perspective when you take the time to think of others who may not be as fortunate as we are at this time.

I know Kirsten will find the perfect job in God’s perfect timing.  She has a lot to offer and wants to save the world we live in for future generations.    I have faith that she can do it!

Go forth and set the world on fire Kirsten and fellow Ramblers!  Loyola University Chicago, Class of 2020.

 

Day 8 / Whole30

Ok so it is Day 8 of my Whole30 diet/program and I am becoming weary.    The enthusiasm is gone for the both the diet, cooking and the label reading.  I am dying to step on the scale to see if any progress has been made to my weight or body composition (which is a no no on this program).

Am I doing the program perfectly, nope ….. but I am doing the best I can.   In the last 8 days I have broken down and had a Chai Tea Latte – though sugar-free and with non sweetened almond milk, 4 times.    It is like an addiction I can’t quite break.     I can barely stomach food in the morning so I drink a chai.    I can barely stomach all the meat and vegetables at any time, but I am trying my best to eat it, but sometimes I just want to puke!  I am tired mostly of the upset tummy.   With my internal set up with no colon and a shortened small intestine  – I don’t know if I can handle all this whole food stuff.  Too much of a good thing may not be good, cause I sure am feeling it.  I am craving carbs!

I want to eat healthy for the long term and get healthy, but Wow – this is difficult!

So for now I will continue to do the best that I can and if I have to cheat a little bit, I am still doing better and eating better than I have in a long time.  It might not be the whole reset of the body and mind that is the purpose of this diet.   This all or nothing thinking has to go!!!!

 

Whole Food Challenge

Today is day 1 of my whole30 challenge.    It is not a diet of sorts but more of a way to reset your body and mind and along the way hopefully some weight and inches will come off.

30 days ….. No sugar, dairy, grains, legumes, soy, carrageenan, MSG, sulfites or anything like a baked good even with approved ingredients and NO CHAI TEA LATTE (my morning breakfast and drink of choice) Like the title of the diet – only whole foods.    Yikes!   This girl likes to eat and loves her carbs and her sugar-free chai latte with almond milk (no sugar substitutes either).

I am embarking on this journey with Ann, my friend and sponsor.   Hopefully we can support each other through the end of our 30 day commitment.

Day 1 and I am excited and pumped to do this.   I am a little leery that I won’t make it.   I am either all in or all out.  Like most with addiction issues, it is either all or nothing.  Today, I am all in.   I have bought the books and my fridge is stocked with approved foods.   With alcohol and pills and even other food diets, I always tend to relapse if I don’t have my shit together.    So that will be key for the next 30 days.

I have got to do something about my weight and health and hope this will be the beginning of it.

I am guessing if I can give up pills and alcohol I should be able to do this for 30 days.   My hope is at the end of the 30 days when you reintroduce foods back into your diet that I will have reset my eating habits.

I believe eating and my chai became my new addiction, it is now time to reign it in.  Steve and Kirsten will eat the dinners and food I prepare for meals, but they are not all in.   Heaven forbid they quit drinking alcohol for a month.  I will not judge their choices.

Today, I was tired and sluggish in the afternoon.   Missing my caffeine.  Took a nap.   Was hungry so I had  dinner at 5:00 PM.   Hopefully I can get through the remainder of the evening.   There is always fruit to be eaten.

I can do this, right?  Wish me luck!

Pool Party

My baby niece turned 4 yesterday,  It seems like yesterday that she was a tiny thing.   It was a unicorn pool party and of course our little Caroline was adorable.   she has a boat load of girl cousins from both sides of the family …. there are 11 of them.   My 2 girls, 25 and  22, my youngest brothers kids 17,15 and 11 then the cousins on the other side are 13, 10, 8, 5, 2 and our 4 year old birthday girl.   Quite the range of cousins, but all girls!  All were there except Allie who has recently moved to Texas.

Then there are the adults.   Family and friends who are like family.    Everyone is an Aunt or Uncle besides the grandparents.     Caroline is a lucky girl to have so many adults to love on her and spoil her.    Caroline really knows how to get along and act with adults, like I said she is adorable!

These pool parties, even a birthday party for a kid, some how turn into a drink fest.     There were fancy slushy drinks in hollowed out pineapples – with alcohol of course …. and lots of beer and white claw type drinks.     Who doesn’t want to drink on a hot day at a pool party, right?    And for me it was ok not to drink …. that is until everyone has had a little too much and I got a little too irritated.       I know I have lost that luxury to drink and my problems should not affect how others drink or not drink, and it doesn’t bother anyone but me.     I was definitely bothered.     Some know why I don’t drink, others don’t.    Some offer me drinks which I politely decline and others claim I am grumpy because I need a drink  (at the end of the night when most are pretty lit).   It can be quite annoying and trigger the poor me feelings.

Sometimes when a lot of drinking is happening and I know it is time to go ….. it is difficult to pull Steve away (not usually, but sometimes).  He was clearly enjoying himself and the beverages a little too much.    Why do I get so angry and as one friend said grumpy?   drinking is one thing, drunkenness is another and my tolerance varies.    I still feel awkward when everyone is at that point and I am left with my seltzer water.   I don’t like it.    I have to know myself and play that tape all the way through of what will happen if I do enjoy the drink.   I know it will not end well for me.     Finally I just gave the final warring …. I am leaving NOW, with or without you.   A wise friend suggested  that he “get on that bus” and go home.   lol.

I feel good today ….. no hangover.    But I still feel irritated.   I am playing that passive aggressive game.    Stupid.   No one knows I am angry, but I definitely am not being what you would call nice.

I need to get over myself and let others live their lives as they see fit, but I can not let their choices affect me and my sobriety.     The party started at 1:00 PM and I finally got to leave at 9:30 PM (with a little break in between to feed the dogs).   That is long birthday party for a little girl.   And let me tell you those kids where still going strong, just getting out of the pool as we were leaving.   To be young again and to be able to drink again …… that ship has sailed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!!!