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.

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!

At Home …. Still

Well, we are going on close to a month of this stay at home order.   I have been keeping fairly busy with various tasks around the house.   I still have not really been anywhere.  Going out each morning to the little coffee shop in town to get my chai tea latte and coffee for Steve and Kirsten is usually the highlight of my day.    I have met up with a couple of friends as we sit in our cars at a distance to chat.   Face to face interaction with friends is very much needed.   I especially miss my in person sober tribe.

I have been doing the zoom AA meetings quite regularly, but it is starting to get old.  I have not been able to totally pay attention in the zoom meetings.  I have been very easily distracted in those meetings.   I desperately need to get back to the in person meetings.   Though our club is still open and operating, I am just not comfortable at this time in light of the virus and the stay at home orders.    I miss the fellowship of the meetings.   I have had drinking dreams and using thoughts and desire, by the grace of God I have not acted on those thoughts.   I do know that nothing good would come from it.   But too much idle time is not good for this addict and there is a lot of time with not much to do!

I have been trying to stay in contact with friends from the program and staying in touch with my sponsees.   I did a 3rd step with one of my girls via Facetime and I have another step meeting scheduled.  Working with others and getting out of self for bit is very helpful during this time of quarantine.   But still it is not face to face so it is a very different kind of step work.

I am trying to do some little task from home from where I volunteer.   We had a volunteer zoom meeting the the other day and it was nice to see some of the ladies I have been working with.    I have also done some virtual get togethers with my sober peeps, just to chat.    We are all trying to do the best we can to stay connected.

There are a lot of zoom meetings in the recovery community from all over the country and the world that one could join.  I have been sticking with my clubs meetings, but maybe need to try some others for something a little different.   I love how everyone in recovery is trying to help those in program stay the course.

I am still trying to find the gratitude.   I have everything I need.   We still have money coming in, we have food, we have a nice home to be isolated in and we are healthy.   I am trying to choose to find the good.   I am not going to say it is not difficult, because it is.  There is still fear, fear of getting the Covid19, the fear of the economic impact and just fear about what is happening in the world.    So many things that I can not control.

Life especially right now is so unpredictable and I have to stick with taking it one day at a time to try to keep my sanity while I am staying home.

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.

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.