Busy is Better

It is only mid-August but it feels like summer is coming to a quick end. Fall is right around the corner. The neighborhood kids start school tomorrow which means more traffic and school buses!

I have been busy and some days it is hard to get everything done, other days there is not enough to keep me going. Being busy is good for me. If I am too idle, I get up in my head and start thinking and analyzing life. Busy is definitely better. I am happy. I am grateful that I no longer have to work. I have time for friends, volunteering, AA, workouts and whatever else comes along.

The engagement party was a success. A lot of fun with family, soon to be family and some friends. During their weekend visit, Allie and Pat visited a few wedding venues here and Bingo ….. they found the perfect spot in Mt. Adams, Cincinnati. It is a beautiful old monastery that has been converted into a wedding venue. We couldn’t be more excited. The only downside is nothing was available in 2023 so the wedding is May 25, 2024. A Saturday over Memorial Weekend. It seems so far down the road. It does give us a lot of extra time to plan, save money and for the MOB to lose some more weight. Gotta look at the bright side!

The results from the breast reduction are good. I am all healed up. I still have some follow up appointments with my surgeon, but they are now few and far between. I have decided since she also has a staff that does cosmetic skin enhancements, I am going to have my first facial peel on my next visit. It is time for some old lady skin care. I am back full force at the gym with my trainer. My diet is ok. I am not exactly on the plan perfectly for the program I am doing, but I am eating way better than I have in the past so I guess that is a win. I have my body scan this week to check my measurements, I am not looking forward to it. I feel like I have had little or no change in the last 6 weeks. I have less than 2 years to get into wedding shape. I also want to be healthy. My glucose readings have been higher. I talked to my family doc and she did not like the numbers. I unfortunately had to go on a low dose of diabetes medication. I am not happy about this revelation, I am starting to feel my age and I don’t like it. My achy joints and arthritis are probably side effects from the Ulcerative Colitis. It sucks!

I have started back to my volunteer gig. I joined up again with the event committee. We are planning our big bunco fundraiser for 10/1. Looking forward to working on this event. It was super fun and profitable when we did it before Covid. My sponsor and I are hosting a going away party for a dear friend who is moving. I offered up my home for this. It is next week. 40+ have been invited, 25 have responded that they are coming – I have no idea how many people will end up at my house. Luckily our new outdoor space: patio, pavilion and landscaping will be almost complete. Just waiting on the granite countertops. I just need to chill about this gathering as it is stressing me out. We are also in the midst of planning our family foundation annual golf outing which takes place 9/19. It is not my year to be in charge so I am just doing what I can to help. A lot of event planning is currently happening and keeping me on my toes.

With fall coming, I am excited that football is starting back up. I love my Cincinnati Bengals. I am looking forward to having friends over on our new patio to watch games and hang out. Summer seems to have gone by really fast. They say the older you get the faster time goes by and boy is that true!

So for the life and times of me ….. I am just busy.

The Engagement and other Life Events

I haven’t written in long while, I am just out here trying to live life on life’s terms ….. which isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Sometimes it is a downright battle, but let us not go there right now.

Allie and Patrick finally got engaged. The official engagement date was 5/21, so it has definitely been a minute or two. With all her snooping, she was still surprised. It was sweet, They were at a park in Dallas with the dog – they were going to go on a picnic but forgot the blanket so they just walked around and he popped the question. He had a party with friends planned for after the proposal and even had her bestie fly in from Chicago to complete the surprise. We are truly excited to welcome Pat and his family into ours. We have no wedding plans as of yet. There is still the decision as to where the wedding will be …. Dallas or Dayton/Cincinnati. We have said our peace and given our thoughts, but it is their wedding and they must decide. We have an engagement party planned for a couple of weeks from now here as they will be in Ohio for a wedding. It is just family and very few special friends. I will update after their visit.

With it being summer and the 4th of July holiday there have been a lot of drinking events, but I am holding my own. There are moments when I wish I could drink ….. take part in the jello shots. It is such a drinking culture that sometimes it is difficult not to feel left out. I love my sober life and my sober friends – but ………..

Ok so the really big news, because we all knew that Allie and Pat were going to get engaged, that was just a matter of timing …… I finally got a breast reduction. it has been 8 weeks since the surgery and I am doing great. The wounds are almost healed and I am finally able to do things around the house and in life in general. It was a rough go not being able to carry, lift or push anything. There was pain, but it wasn’t anything like I thought it would be. I only took 2, well maybe 3 Percocet …… 2 that were desperately needed and 1 , well, not so much.. I just survived on Tylenol and Motrin for several weeks. The wounds were gross and took a lot of cream and gauze. The surgeon took out a total of 6.75 lbs of breast. I am getting used to my new size ….. now it is time to get rid of the love handles and old lady belly. I found it interesting and refreshing that the anesthesiologists asked if I wanted a different cocktail that wasn’t (addictive type) narcotics. My sober friends and I joke that anesthesia for a very few short seconds is the best, but anyway I did tell him to give me whatever would best and I could deal with it. I got 20 pain pills with this surgery. I still had my 18 from my kidney stone. Good news, I finally emptied my drawer of all the pain meds and handed them over to Steve to get rid of or hide, not sure which he did. I did say hide don’t pitch, but you never know. The pills after all this time were “talking” to me and I was really struggling. Taking that extra Percocet when I wasn’t sure if I really needed it scared me enough to take action, I have been seeing my surgeon every couple of weeks for post op. I am thinking only a few more visits and I will be good to go.

With the breast surgery my diet went to shit. I have been on a new program (that I paid a pretty penny for) it has a lot of accountability and pretty straight forward and kinda strict guidelines. I was all in before the surgery and losing weight but since surgery I have not been able to get in the right frame of mind to go all in. I am eating better, but half-assing the program. I am pretty discouraged with it right now and I hate going for my check ins because I am running out of excuses as to why my weight is staying constantly the same. It is rough. I want to eat and I want to drink like a normal person – ugh!

Well, that is the Life and Times of Me for the last couple of months. I am at a crossroads trying to figure out what my life is for and what I should be doing with it. Stay tuned, I may or may not ever figure it out.

GONE

This post is an update post from an entry titled “No Words for This One”, November 3, 2021 about a sponsee in a domestic violence situation. 

Kerry is her name and her (husband) has destroyed her. Those that I have spoken to who knew of him described him as a monster … some say he was worse than a monster.  He was manipulative, controlling and in his own eyes all powerful.  These things I only know of from what I have been told.   She was a victim, stuck for too long in a bad situation.   She was scared to leave and scared to stay.  She had a psychotic breakdown, was hospitalized and finally free of his abuse.  She also had the problem of addiction / alcoholism.   With years of his abuse, she also had some mental issues; severe depression and anxiety with PTSD.   She moved in with her parents to try to heal and get her life back. Her so called husband has had custody of her 11-year-old twins.  This alone broke her heart.   

Wednesday of this week I got a phone call from a friend while I was on vacation in Florida.   Tuesday (February 8th), my dear sweet Kerry committed suicide.  She hung herself.  There are no words for this one.  I am devastated and heartbroken beyond words. There is sadness mixed with anger mixed with guilt. I know I am not responsible, but a part of me still wonders what I could have done differently and if I could have helped her more. I am making myself crazy with all those what ifs.  My heart hurts for her family and all those who knew and loved her.  It is sad that she felt no hope, no way out and no peace.  We had a text exchange on Saturday.  We were starting to work a little bit on small steps of gratitude.   I wanted to give her hope, I wanted to give her light, I wanted to give her peace.  I was always so worried about her and what she may or may not do. I knew she was hurting, but I did not really expect this.  Mental illness is real, domestic violence is real, being over medicated is real and suicide is real!

I am having a hard time processing this all, I can’t imagine what her family is going through.  I am lucky to have a great support system and fellowship in recovery.  I have been surrounded by love and support.  Being a sponsor to someone is a special sort of bond that is hard to explain. Kerry called me Mama, even though she was 41 and I am 54. 

I am just sad. There have been a lot of tears. Sometimes out of nowhere the tears will flow.  It felt unreal until I saw the actual obituary.  I feel anxious and sick.  I know I cannot undo what has been done, but those what ifs will continue to haunt me.

Thanksgiving Eve Reflections

The house is quiet and it gives me time to reflect. I have had some ups and downs, but I have so much to be Thankful for. We will gather tomorrow with family at my brother’s house ….. 14 of us. Allie and Pat will be home for a couple of weeks at Christmas time, so I will be missing them. This time of year I like to tell the people who have made a difference in my life how much they mean and how they have helped me overcome. Mostly my recovery sisters, but also some special friends received a I am Thankful for You letter in the mail.

I have been thinking a lot about where I have been and where I am at now. I am scheduled to give my lead at the AA meeting on Sunday. It has been about 1.5 years since I have done this. The more I try to organize my thoughts, the more anxious and flustered I get. I am just going to have to “let go and let God” speak through me. In the past I would write everything down, sometimes I would use the notes, sometimes just a glance at them. It was more a control issue …. being in control and knowing what I am going to say. Last time, it was short notice and I did not have time to prepare. I just told my story and it worked out beautifully. I am going to try it again this way, but right now my thoughts are all jumbled. I was hoping since it was Thanksgiving weekend, the crowd would be smaller, but I have a feeling the opposite will be true. I am nervous. My mom wanted to come, since I don’t always share with her all the gorey details, but I am not ready for that yet.

I am also about 8 days away from my 7 year sobriety anniversary, which is also cause for reflection. 7 years is a big deal. I first went to treatment in 2007 and it took me 7 years to finally surrender and admit to my innermost self that I had a problem. My sober day is 12/2/14. I will get my token on the following Sunday from my sponsor.

Sometimes life does suck, but as one of my AA friends says …. “You sometimes have to embrace the suck”. But really despite the crappy days, life is good. I love life sober. I love the fellowship I belong to. I am grateful for all I have and my wonderful family and friends.

Happy Thanksgiving ….. Be Grateful!

No Words for this one

The halloween party was fantastic. We had such a great turn out and a lot of creative costumes and yummy chili. Of course some things weren’t as I would have them, but it was okay. I am still learning to let go of control. I would love to post pictures, but it is an anonymous program.

So many things in life our out of our control. I want control, I want to be able to take care of those I love and i want to fix things and make life better. I have to remember that serenity prayer for acceptance, courage and wisdom.

I have a sponsee, my very first. We started working together about 6 years ago. I was just over 1 year sober myself. She reminded me of myself in terms of having a hard time staying sober. We had a lot of friends in common and just clicked. She moved, we tried to stay in touch some, but we all know how that goes. She has always though held a special place in my heart. She is a lovely person.

She recently came home to live with her parents. She had to leave everything behind. Even her 11 year old twins. She was in a domestic violence situation. Her story is like so many others that we hear of, one of control, manipulation and violence . The kids are okay and she sees them a couple of times a week and talks to them daily, but they are 2 hours away in another state and they want their mother.

Her (husband) has been planning, controlling and running the show for years. He has documented her alcoholism and the psychotic break she had when she could no longer take the abuse. He is trying to paint the picture of an unfit mother. She is anything but. His actions have destroyed this lovely lady.

My friend is broken. She is void of happiness and life. She has no self worth, she is depressed, she is isolating, she is scared. She is currently sober despite everything. We met the other day at my house. I just needed her to get out and she needed reassurance that she was okay. We talked, we cried. My heart is broken for her and her kids. I want to control the outcome of this, I want to fix this for her, but there is nothing I can do except, I can be a friend, I can love her, I can pray for her and I can listen. I want to be able to do more. But this has to just play out. She only has supervised visitation with her children at this point because of the ugly picture her (husband) has painted. They meet at the end of the month in court for unsupervised visits and the custody hearing is not until next June. A year after she fled the abuse. She doesn’t think she can last that long in the current climate of things.

I needed to write this. I am trying to process. I can’t imagine how she is trying to process. I am afraid for her. Her children are her life and without them she has no will. It is hard for me to imagine someone that is supposed to love you to do the things he has done to her. I can see her desperation and despair. Her eyes show it. The thing I did tell her is that I still see a spark and we have to use that spark to fight. I will be with her every step of the way. I am grateful she has a loving parents who are helping her and taking care of her. She is getting outside help, but nothing seems like enough.

I have no control in this situation. My friend doesn’t have much control at this time either. The (husband) holds the cards and I can only pray that that will change in time. The children have seen some of the abuse and are witnesses to the truth. God please help this woman and her kids and help me to have the right words to comfort and support her.

My heart is shattered.

Moving Along

My life is in disarray!

The house sold in 3 days. We had the condo we put money down on, but got freaked out that it might be too small for the duration. We looked at a house and put an offer in but we could not come to terms. Found another condo and its perfect for what we need … and that is where we will be resting out heads for the time being. It is a main level with a walk out lower level with a lot more space than the original condo. Only down side is we lost our money that we put down on the first condo – breach of contract. We are closing on the condo next Friday 10/30. It has been a whirlwind. Lots of anxiety and uncertainty.

My house is half packed up and half livable. We are doing a little bit every day – seems like we are always going for more boxes. We certainly have a lot of stuff and a lot to do! Movers are scheduled for 11/12 so we can get the condo ready and move some things ourselves.

In the midst of all we have going on, tonight we (Steve and I) are having dinner with my long lost friend. The one that I recently reconnected with over lunch and her husband. I am feeling a little anxious about this. We were a fun foursome and we loved to drink. They have no idea about my addiction problem and I don’t plan on telling them. The drinking situation could be tricky and I am not sure how I am going to react … I am sure there will be questions . A drink would help me relax in this situation – we all know though how that would end, so I am not even going there! I have been craving a drink lately, maybe it is all the anxiety, I am not sure. Better than a drink though, I think would be some Xanax. But that is not going to happen either. I still think I have that one Valium in my purse.

Best news is that Allie is coming home next week to see her childhood home one more time, to help us pack and just visit. I am really happy she is coming. It will be nice to have a full house for a few days.

And those who are wondering about the Whole30 Diet. I am totally off that bandwagon, but need to get back on some type of diet and exercise program – I have gone to the other extreme since the Whole30 thing. The key I know is moderation and food choices. With all the moving stress, I haven’t been doing it. But I gotta get my head in the game and just do it!

That is it ….. The Life and Times of Me.

Life and Death

Breast biopsy can back normal ….. what a great relief that was!!! My family Dr. was awesome and got the news to me bright and early via MyChart so it was great news to wake up to after a somewhat sleepless night.

I have to admit the procedure was not as bad as my imagination let me to believe it would be. The Dr and the tech who took the biopsy etc, were very kind and wonderful. I was a little sore, but really had no side effects. I am thinking that the procedure was more tolerable because of the drugs – I didn’t get my favorite (Xanax), but did get a prescription for Valium. 10 mg before the procedure and all was well. I still have one 5 mg tablet riding around in purse. What I will do with it, not sure. I am an addict – it is very difficult for me to just throw it out. But one pill will do nothing for me except ignite my craving. I am too far along in my sobriety journey to do something stupid.

I didn’t tell many, but didn’t really keep it a secret … I just don’t like people to worry about me (especially when it turns out to be nothing). But the prayers, care and concern by those who did know somewhat helped to calm my anxieties. Talking with my sponsor and my therapist were a tremendous help

It is crazy were your mind can go. Mine went to; I am not ready to die. This is interesting coming from someone who at one time wanted nothing more than to die. In my prayers, I found comfort and was ready for whatever the results of the test may be. I knew in my heart that I am not done here yet.

One the subject of addiction and death, one of the younger girls that has been attending our women’s meeting for the last month or so O’D on heroin. It is really sad. One of my dear friends was her sponsor and she is beside herself. Molly, was her name and she was supposed to get her 6 month token on the day she died. Addiction and alcoholism can be a fatal disease (as can breast cancer). It is cunning, baffling and powerful. I have been thinking of my own mortality with the biopsy and the death of Molly.

Life is fragile and I have learned we should not take it for granted and I hope that I never do.

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.