It’s all Virtual

Zoom virtual meet ups have become the thing that is holding everything together during this time of stay at home orders and isolation.

The key for me is the virtual 12 step meetings that I am attending almost on a daily basis.  It is helping me to stay somewhat sane.   It is important to connect with my tribe, my peeps, my friends even though it is only virtually.  It is comforting to be among like minded folks and the fellowship.     AA Zoom meetings are taking off like wildfire across the country.  But AA’s aren’t the only ones meeting virtually.

Friends are getting together for virtual happy hours and meet ups.   I was in a virtual happy hour conversation with some of my old sorority sisters the other night.  There were 6 of us.   They are drinkers, I was a drinker – they don’t know I am now in recovery.   I haven’t seen some of them in 25 or so years except for Facebook interactions.   I will admit it was fun to see them and catch up some.   But of course the conversation turned to alcohol consumption – where they drink, what they drink, who threw up last from drinking, when we would all get together for the next drinking event, even my beloved Xanax was mentioned  ……. I was starting to get that stinking thinking and triggered by all the “fun” drinking talk and memories.  I had nothing to add to the conversation and I felt awkward.   It was pity pot time, why do I have to be different?

What I realize today after the fact, as much as I love those girls from college, they are no longer my people.  Sure I could join them in a drink, but that is not who I am today.    I am not going to lie, I would love to be able to hang out with them and be part of the group that I once was.   But I have grown and I have evolved into a different person from what I once was.   I hate that drinking is the bind in some relationships and such a part of our culture.    More than anything with the drinking conversation I got annoyed.  I excused myself from the virtual group and conversation and went on my merry way, to call those who are now my friends, my peeps, my tribe and that was were I belonged.

Quarantined

It is official:  The state of Ohio has issued a “Stay at Home” order.   Only essential services are open.   You can go out to work if you are essential or one can go out to get food … that is about it.

Today is officially the first day of the order.   I started yesterday, so today is day #2 of full stay at home mode for me.   We had been staying home quite a bit before the order so it does seem like it has been going on longer.   We are to be at home at least until April 6th.  which is about 2 weeks.

With my Ulcerative Colitis, even though I no longer have my diseased colon, I am considered an auto-immune patient.   With this coronavirus that is one of the population that should be more careful and may have worse systems of the virus if you should get it.

One of the things that I had continued doing was my 12 step meetings.  Now that the virus is starting to spike in Ohio and we are asked to stay home …. I am going to have to join the virtual meeting crowd.   Our club is still open for those who choose to go in person.   I personally think we should not be open, but I understand those who need the in person aspect.  We have spoken to our local police department and they are aware of who we are and what we are doing and why we are still open and they are ok with it.  Being on the board, I feel like I am abandoning the club and the people, but I also have to look out for myself.    I had a really hard time coming to terms with the fact that I shouldn’t be going to in person meetings.    This is another good lesson for me in giving up some control of my responsibilities.    I am not the only person in the program that can do what I do.

Our business is still open and Steve is still occasionally going into to the office to help navigate this new normal for the company.   I hope and pray he does not bring any of the virus home and that our employees stay well.   They are taking a lot of measures to keep everyone safe and well.

So day #2 of me being home, I am doing what I can to keep myself busy and entertained. It will be interesting to see how this whole thing plays out.   We all hope it will be quick with a low number of deaths and those affected, but only time will tell.   If everyone would heed the words of the government and stay home we could get over this a lot sooner.   I am trying my best to keep taking it one day at a time, but it is still scary!!!

 

 

 

My Corona

With the whole world in an uproar with the coronavirus – everyone is trying to find their new normal while staying home in quarantine and/or social distancing.   It hasn’t been easy for anyone and everyone has had to sacrifice something.

I think this is a good lesson in common human decency.  Some people have it and many don’t.   Who are those people who are hoarding all the goods, being rude to store employees doing their best and selfishly going about life possibly spreading the virus?  I can’t say I have totally stayed home.   I have gone to the grocery, AA meetings, restaurants for carry-out and of course I have been out to get my daily chai tea latte from the local coffee shop.    I don’t think those activities are too hateful and we are being mindful of others and ourselves while doing these activities.

My girls both are at a pivotal time in their lives.   Both are in limbo.   Graduation is postponed until August.   Jobs will be hard to find and moving may be impossible.  We are all having to sacrifice, this is just how it is affecting my family.   It is a small inconvenience when you look at the rest of the world and what people are going through.   We are lucky that we have what we need and that we have the means to help our children through this should they need it, for that I am truly grateful.

I know it is going to get worse before it gets better.   We all have to be prepared and be willing to hunker down at home as much as possible.

AA has been a challenge.   Our club is still currently open.  I am sure it is only a matter of time before we are mandated to close.   Recovery fellowship and meetings are so important to the recovering addict / alcoholic.   It is amazing how this recovery community from across the country and the world have come together putting meetings online in different forms.      We have set up virtual meetings at our club.   I think we finally have it set up and ready to go.   Some people are still going to meetings in person while others are opting for the virtual type.   I feel it is a personal decision.   I somehow got “elected” to put together the virtual meetings for our club.   With the help of a couple others, we did it!   It was a lot of trial and error.  But I am proud that I figured it out as I am the least technical person I know.   I think I am ready to go to virtual meetings, but being one of the point people for the virtual, I also feel I have an obligation to be at the meetings in person to “broadcast” via my computer to those at home.  The state has asked that no more than 10 people gather, our meetings have had more lately.   We have a board meeting tomorrow and I believe we are going to need to set some parameters to limit numbers of people in the meetings in the midst of this virus outbreak.   We too need to be careful of not spreading the coronavirus among us and to others.

Our family restaurant and manufacturing business is still open – we are mainly delivery and carry-out so we are allowed to still operate.   I pray for the wellbeing of our employees and am grateful that our doors are still open and that we can provide jobs to many.   As a company we are doing what we need to to keep everyone safe.

These are very scary and uncertain times for everyone across the world.   I mostly anxious about the economy and what is going to happen.    My mental state has been surprising better, but the anxiety is real.

All we can currently do is take one day at a time and practice love and tolerance … and Pray!

Original Care Team

I had a wonderful care team made up of my primary care doctor, my psychologist and my chiropractor.   Each one of these people were essential in helping me deal with my Ulcerative Colitis, depression/anxiety and in helping me to get sober.  They were an important part of my life and making sure I continued to live.

My primary doctor worked really hard in trying to control my Xanax intake and my obsession with self harm.   He referred my to my GI doctor who in return referred me to the Cleveland Clinic for colon removal surgery.   He took good care of me after that surgery and took my phone calls at all hours.  This physician really cared about me, was a family friend and went the extra mile to ensure my safety and health. He retired (2015)

My therapist worked with my doctor.   It was her who called him and said I needed treatment for the addiction to benzo drugs.   My therapist helped with so many mental challenges including my diagnosed clinical depression and general anxiety disorder as well as the addiction / alcoholism and the self harm.    She knew me most times better than I knew myself.    I always told her I would never let her retire because I needed her in so many ways.   She retired (2018).

My chiropractor who became a friend was a great help during my illness.  When I could not eat due to the effects of the Ulcerative Colitis she delivered supplements to my home.  When my mental health started getting wacky she referred me to the local psychologist who became my therapist for 15 years.   She has helped me through thick and thin.   It was my friend and chiropractor who I went to when I was told I had an addiction issue from my therapist to ask her thoughts and what I should do regarding going to treatment.  It was her who took me to my first AA meeting.  She helped me heal from my car accident.   She has taken care of me and my girls and has been a great asset to our health.   Today was our last appointment …. she is retiring.

The above care team was the best and they all went far above the call of duty to care for me.    I don’t know what I would have done or where I would be without them.   Probably not alive.   Even though I have grown and have a handle on my mental health for the most part and little problems with the no colon / Jpouch I feel like I am now left to my own devices.   I don’t do well with change and things have changed greatly and life continues to move on.

I have a new therapist who I can really connect with who I saw on occasion in past.  It is a good fit and she is very helpful to me.    She is always there to return a phone call at all hours and to talk me down no matter what the problem.   I have a new physician, I like her, but she doesn’t know me like my original doctor or my (real) history.  Medicine has changed and it is almost impossible to get an appointment when needed.  I will try the new chiropractor at the office, but it won’t be the same.    I retired so I can not complain when others do the same especially since they are older than I.

So really I have to put my big girl pants back on and embrace the change.   I do miss those from my original care team but it has been years since my surgery, my mental health diagnosis, and addiction.  They have all moved on and maybe I need to do the same.

New Day Gloominess

Some of the gloominess lingers, but you would not know it.   It is a feeling way down deep inside of me.  I am certainly not as bad off as I was just a few weeks ago, maybe the med change and therapy has helped …. I don’t know.    I have an appointment with my therapist tomorrow and a follow up with the Dr. about the meds.   Not sure what to say or do.

It is hard though to be too gloomy, I just got home from a week of warm sunshine and beaches in Siesta Key.  It was good to get away with Steve.   My Mom and her husband, one brother and sis in law and my 3 year old niece were also there.  Caroline really made the trip more enjoyable and exciting … everything is exciting to a 3 year old.  She is such a good girl and a lot of fun.    Some of the time though all the family and activity was just too much for me to handle.    I did get an afternoon alone while everyone else went off on an adventure.   It was much needed and helpful, although I could have used more.

I didn’t really feel like drinking while I was away.   I was around a lot of alcohol.   My Mom had about a dozen bottles of wine and alcohol just sitting on the counter.    It would have been easy to have a slip.    Who doesn’t want to have drink on the beach?  I miss it and I don’t miss it.   It is hard to explain.

I really miss my routine and my recovery peeps when I am away.   I am such a creature of habit and a homebody.    Though I do enjoy getting away on occasion, I mostly like being at home.    I did not go to any recovery meetings last week and that makes me a little antsy.   We got home yesterday and I have already been to 2 meetings to make up for lost time.

So will the gloominess continue to linger or is a new day dawning on my funky feelings.  I guess only time will tell.     Today though I can find the gratitude and good and that is progress!

Depression

It has been almost a month since I wrote about being gloomy, well that gloomy turned in to full blown depression.   The definition of depression “feelings of severe despondency and dejection” …. I can’t explain why or how, but that self-doubt is ever present. Feelings of misery, unhappiness, melancholy, loss of joy and energy is just the tip of the iceberg.    I can minimize the symptoms and act as if all is well …. usually, but that takes a lot of energy and that energy is hard to come by.     

I have seen my doctor who doubled the dose of my antidepressant and have been talking often to my therapist.   I have clued few others in on my despair and even fewer on the darkness.   I had to take a leave from the gym, even though I know work-outs help with the endorphins and is a good thing,    I haven’t been to my volunteer “job” in weeks or really gone out with friends since last time I wrote.   I have no desire.

The one thing I am doing consistently is going to AA meetings.   I have realized to drink or use would only make this thing much worse than it is.   I am reaching out to my sponsor who has been very helpful with little kind words, advice and love.     I have tried working with my sponsees to get out of myself, it works maybe a little bit, but it is mostly annoying.  I am doing what I can in that area.    The AA club is where I feel the most comfortable right now, being with my peeps whether I participate in the meeting or not is just where I feel most secure and can just be.

My husband is trying to be understanding and comforting, but he doesn’t really understand the tremendous amount of energy it takes to just exist.  He tries, but also worries because last time I went down this path it was really ugly.   I get it and am trying to be understanding of where he is coming from.  I have forced myself to go out more than once if just out to dinner or the grocery store.

I don’t know if it is hormones, the gloomy weather or just my mood cycling around in a bad way, but whatever the case depression is no joke.

Is there light at the end of the tunnel?

It’s a God thing

Well I must admit, I have been a little gloomy lately and for no apparent reason or maybe a lot of reasons.  My life is good and for some reason I was getting a bad case of the F-its and that is fuck everything including my recovery.    I was just sick and tired of it all including my AA meetings and the club which I usually love and just bored with my life in general.  So what does one do … I was starting to skimp on my meetings and reaching out.   I preferred to just sit home on my pity pot.  I cancelled my workout trainer, I did not go to volunteer and blew off friends.   To begin to isolate is never a good sign, at least for me.

I spent a Saturday night last week with some (non alcoholic) friends.   We sat at a bar at a wine restaurant for 3 hours, it seemed harmless at the time, but in reality it might have been a trigger for the desire to take a drink and a bout on that pity pot.   Watching the bartender sling drink after drink especially lots of wines was difficult, but at this point in my sobriety should have been harmless as it usually does not bother me.    My state of mind was not spiritually fit at the time and it probably was not a good choice.

Thank God, I have a strong recovery and that I am connected to the program and the club even when I don’t want to be.   It saved me.    It has been a difficult week.   My God always has my back though and is consistently doing for me what I can not do for myself.    I begrudgingly went to a meeting and lo and behold I got a new sponsee.   Just the thing I needed to get out of myself.    Service work always keeps me sober!   Starting to the work the steps from the beginning with a newcomer and getting back into the big book will be good for me.    My other sponsees ….. well lets see;  One is currently out drinking, and one doesn’t go to many meetings,  another has been procrastinating on step 3, and one is working a program.   None call me.    So getting a new girl to start fresh puts some life back into my program.    I will be picking up my meetings again to see her, be accountable and to set a good example to my new sponsee and for my own sanity.   I really do know what I need and what I need to do.

Saturday night this week, I had a group of sober girlfriends over for a game night while my husband was out of town.   At first I was a little put out that I had planned this and just wasn’t feeling it, I just wanted to sit home alone.  But again, it was just what I needed when I needed it.    There were about 10 of us and we laughed until we peed our pants,  ate, drank (no alcohol of course) and were merry.   Hanging with my peeps was just what my soul needed.

I am going to shake this gloominess off and get on with my life and listen to my God’s will for me.   I don’t always know what God’s will is, but I do know it is to be sober, be of service and to be happy, joyous and free!

I thank God for my sobriety and for doing for me what I sometimes can not do for myself.

Our Old Puppy

Our puppy, Sadie Belle, a tan/blonde beagle lab mix, is now an old dog.   We have been through this before, but it is never easy to watch your beloved pup age.   They can not tell us what is wrong and what hurts, we can only take the cues.    Sadie has been on medications for arthritis, is lumpy with fatty tumors and with skin tags on various parts of her body and a growth of sorts on her leg.

Sadie went in for surgery today to remove the growth ( I am not a vet and can’t remember what it was called) and several skin tags.   While she was under we had an X-ray done to check the arthritis.   Sadie is home and doing well.   Her limp on the right side was getting worse, so there was no surprise when arthritis showed up, the severity is rather alarming though.   She also has a bone spur in the area.   We were sure it was her shoulder, but it is all in her elbow.

I too am experiencing arthritis (in my hands) so I understand the discomfort.  But what do we do next for Sadie?   There are several options.    Surgery is not really one of those options because of Sadie’s age.  There is laser therapy and the better option of a lubricant type of shot.    The shot has to be given monthly at the vet clinic, a pain to do yes …. but our dogs are part of our family and she is worth the expense whatever we decide.

We got Sadie as a nine month old puppy from the humane society.  She has been there with us through thick and thin.   I will do what it takes to make her comfortable in her senior years, it is the least I can do for all the love and loyalty she has given us for the past 12 ish years.

We go back to the vet to get her stitches removed in a couple of weeks at that time we will make our plan.   For now, we have pain meds and a few other things to make her more comfortable.

We don’t know how long anyone, human or animal will be on this earth.   We just take it one day at a time and love with all we have.

 

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One Last Winter Break

Winter break is in full swing for my college senior.    Mom here, is having mixed emotions.    This will be the last time she will be home for any length of time.   After graduation, her and her roommates are planning to stay in Chicago.   Chicago is a 5 + hour drive, not hateful, but not very close to home.    My oldest, is talking about moving from Columbus, Ohio (a 1.5 hour drive from home) to Dallas TX.    She has a couple part time jobs in Columbus, but has not settled in with her career.    I am proud of my independent girls, but I also love it when they are home.

I will have Kirsten home for a little less than 4 weeks and Allie for 4 days.    I will cherish the full house.  I don’t know when we will all be home under the same roof again.    The empty nest is getting emptier.   It is real world time for my girls.   I am not sure what that is going to look like.   2020 will be an interesting year, but exciting.   There are so many unknowns that we will get to watch unfold for our children.

It is definitely a bag of mixed emotions that I am trying not to dwell on.   I will live in the moment and enjoy the Christmas / winter break season with my husband and my girls as well as extended family.   This may be the last year for all our family traditions.   I can not project what the future will bring so I will not worry or stress about it until next year.

As I have learned in my 12 step program, I will stay in the now, be present, take it one day at a time and have gratitude.

5 Years Sober

I made it!!!!  A few days ago I got to celebrate 5 years of continuous sobriety.   It is by no small miracle that I can make this claim.   I came into recovery in 2007, with a lot of unwillingness to take the actions required to remain sober.   By the Grace of God, I kept coming back to the program of AA after each relapse.    I had to continue to pray for the willingness to be willing.   After 7 years of half measures, the willingness finally came.

One of the things that changed for me was finally getting honest with myself about my addiction issues, getting my side of the street cleaned up, following direction as well as being of service.   After my last relapse …. my sponsor told me to stop the “keep coming back” and just “stay!”    Just staying in the program, WOW, what a concept.   That one word had a great impact on my current progress in recovery.

I am truly blessed and grateful for the life I have to today and the people in it.    The fellowship of AA is my lifeline.    I have a wonderful group of women who are my biggest cheerleaders and best friends along with my loving husband.

I got my token last night at my favorite women’s meeting with a lot of my special friends in attendance.   That support, friendship and love is what it is all about.    The kind words from my sponsor were inspiring, the congratulations from friends, gifts and cards all made me feel good and like I am finally embracing this thing called sober living.  There were a few tears from those who have been with me since the beginning.  Everyone was truly happy for me and in my corner.   I was overwhelmed and humbled by all the celebration for sober me.     I do not necessarily like being the center of attention, but it was a wonderful evening with the meeting and a celebratory dinner with 12 close friends from my tribe.

On this day I am happy and grateful to be able to say I am in recovery.     Life is good, I hope and pray I can continue on this path.