Too Much Thinking

It has been 7 months since my friend and sponsee, Kerry, committed suicide. She has been on my heart and in my thoughts a lot the past several days/weeks. So many things remind me of her. My heart lights up when I remember her smile and my heart breaks as I remember her despair. I still feel a little guilt over her death, I know it has nothing to do with me and what I did or didn’t do for her, but it is still there. I miss her.

I am doing well with my other 3 sponsees. I am trying really hard to be what they need. I am still not altogether ready to add any other women to my group of sponsees. I am still a little spooked by Kerry’s death as a friend so accurately put it. I often think I am not doing enough, but in reality I am doing what I can.

When I think about this world we live in I get very anxious. The current environment of the world is so unsettling. Sometimes, I think it is just scary to be alive during this period of craziness. I am frightened for the future and for kids today, they have so much pressure. People just need some common sense.

There is good in the world. I love the stories of people helping people. Kindness needs to be a greater force.

I have been working on some writing projects again. Mostly personal essay type stuff. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous is writing a 5th edition and looking for personal stories as is The Grapevine, so I am trying my hand at my recovery story. In writing and reading my story and how I got to active addiction, I often think, am really an alcoholic/addict. That high bottom and lack of consequences rears its ugly head and makes me question everything. I guess it is better to be sober and question than to be out there using and messing up life. It is crazy that these thoughts still pop up after over 7.5 years of sobriety. I know we can’t rest on our laurels as that alcoholic demon is always waiting and making us question things ….. every thing!

So when I sit and think and let my mind go, well it is not always a good thing. But the grief, the anxiety and the uncertainty is real. I have to feel the feelings so they can be processed properly. Obviously, today I have time on my hands and my mind is going wild.

In reality; I love my sponsees and helping others, I love this country and I love my sober life. It is just that too much thinking tends to cause that stinking thinking. They say going upstairs (in your head) alone is dangerous. So I share my thoughts here and with my dear friends, who by the way are recovering alcoholics. When sharing, the too much thinking dissipates ….. just a little. Have to keep living life on life’s terms and make the best of it.

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.

MONEY $

I got a message the other day from a lady I used to sort of sponsor. She never really embraced the AA recovery route. She wanted to talk and had a question for me. Well, we know where this is going, right?

She had called a few weeks back just to check in and give me an update on her life. She seems to be doing well. She called at the perfect time as I was feeling low and like I had no purpose in life. She told me how much I have helped her and that I am always there for her and for that she is grateful ….. wow, wasn’t expecting that, but it made me feel good. We ended the call with the promise to get together to further the conversation. She is sober and taking another route to sobriety. I know everyone has their own journey, some can do it without a twelve step program, I am not one of those people.

We aren’t really friends, I think of us as more like acquaintances and maybe from her point of view I am a little bit like a mentor. But I rarely hear from her. We met from a mutual friend, and my goal was to help her get sober.

Fast forward to this week when I got the text ….. “I have a question, can you call me” As soon as she opened her mouth and started talking I knew where this conversation was going. It is always so awkward when some comes right out and asks for money. I have loaned money or I should say given money to an “acquaintance” friend in the program and got burned. I have also loaned money to a great friend in the program with no problems. The thing is, I feel guilty not helping out. I have money. But I don’t have the trust in this person and that there is the difference. She is not my friend and I feel a little used and angry.

I don’t know why I have so many mixed emotions about this. I can not be the bank for those in need this way. I do donate money and time to organizations that I believe in. We have worked hard to get to the place we are in life. I am grateful to have what I have and to be able to do the things we do. I won’t mention the fact that my husband would not be happy if I loaned money to another miscellaneous friend. He is okay with the loans I have given my real friend, as she is his friend too.

I have got to know I did the right thing, and move on. What are your thoughts?

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.

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.

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.

Freedom to Choose

I was at a twelve step meeting the other day …. I forget the topic, but we were reading from “As Bill Sees It, The AA way of Life” and we read a passage on the Freedom to Choose and it really got me to thinking more about the choices we have in life.

When I talked with my sponsor (in the past) about really wanting to drink or other things with a possible negative outcome, she would always tell me in part that the choice was mine.    I didn’t like that or understand it, but now I do.   In the past while in active addiction, I really didn’t have a choice.  Sober,  I always have the choice to do what is right or to do what is wrong.   My journey, my choice.

In the “As Bill Sees It” reading it says:   “Looking back, we see that our freedom to choose badly was not, after all, a very real freedom.    When we chose because we must this was not a free choice either, But it got us started in the right direction.   When we chose because we ought to , we were really doing better.  This time we were earning some freedom, making ourselves ready for more.   But when, now and then, we could gladly make right choices without rebellion, hold-out, or conflict, then we had our first view of what perfect freedom under God’s will could be like.”

For awhile I felt trapped into being sober, like I had no choice because of my commitment to my sponsees and my position on the board at our local meeting club.   In reality I chose to do things to help keep me in line and to keep me sober and doing the next right thing.    I always have the choice to give up those things and return to a life a despair.     My journey, my choice.

Today, I like the choices I have made in staying sober and my commitment to helping others.   My life, my family, my friends are all better because of the choices I have made in the past several years.

Today I choose to be sober …. Happy, Joyous and Free!

And the Point Is …..?

Does anyone ever really think ….. What is the point?

I often ponder why I was put on this earth and what I am supposed to accomplish.   It is a heavy question and a burden.

I know I am supposed to be a good person of faith, love and compassion.   But is there more?    Was I put on this earth to suffer with my disease of Ulcerative Colitis, addiction, depression and anxiety so I could help and be of service to others?   Surely I didn’t go through those things for no reason …. the outcome of those issues is that I am a stronger more compassionate understanding individual.  Maybe it is all to help me grow into the person that I am supposed to be.   I don’t know.

For awhile I thought my purpose was to be a Mom and it was, but my children are grown and on their own now.   Yes, I am still their Mother, but in a different capacity.

Maybe there is no point after all and it is just life and then we die.

But I have to believe there has to be a purpose to this journey here on earth or there wouldn’t be a point to be here and to participate in this life.

I often pray to know God’s will for me and the only thing that I know for sure is that He wants me to be Sober and of Service …. maybe that is the point and the only point and I  have to let that be enough, but is it enough?

 

Podcast

I have been getting a little out of  my comfort zone lately.   The biggest thing that I did was today, I was interviewed about my recovery story and my thoughts on addiction for a podcast.    I have decided being totally anonymous really isn’t helping anyone.  I do have this blog where I discuss my issues with addictions, but doing this podcast takes it to a whole new level.   I was really nervous about doing this and sounding like a dork, but luckily I get to hear the final edit before it posts.  I really hope it turned out well and that it will resinate with someone who listens.  Being uncomfortable for a minute is worth it if it helps someone.

Turns out it wasn’t so bad doing it after we got started.   It was just like talking to a friend.  I did stumble some but hopefully that will be taken care of in editing.  I am anxious to hear how it turned out and totally trusting my interviewer, Nick.

Nick has a great website called Open Discussion Movement and I think you should check it out at https://ODMovement.com.   A lot of great stuff on addiction issues and he has a wide range of guests on his podcast with different experiences with addiction.

Getting out of your comfort zone every now and then feels good.   It is definitely a growth experience.    My sponsor told me just the other day how much I was growing and changing … and that  my friend is a good thing.