Today day is the day one of my sponsees hit the one year sober mark.   My first one to do so and I couldn’t be happier.    I have had 5 girls over time and 3 or maybe 2 that I am actively working with.     I am so proud of this girl, she is doing the deal.   She came in to AA and sobriety and never looked back.     I wish I could have done it that way, but that wasn’t my journey.

One of my girls is actively drinking.   She got her 30 days a couple of weeks ago and then a 24 hour token last week and is back in the bottle.    I wish I could help those in active addiction more.   I just want to shake her and tell her there is a better way to live.   All I can do at this time is let her know that I am here for her when she is ready and pray for her and her son that is caught in her web of addiction.   I feel so helpless and it is not a good feeling.   As a sponsor, I feel a little bit like I have failed her even though I know it is her choice.   I can’t make her drink and I can’t make her be sober.

My other girl is doing well.    She had a relapse in September so she will be coming up on 9 months.    She has had some challenges that we have worked through and I think she has finally found some peace in her situation.

But as for my 1 year girl … I get to give her a special 1 year token on Saturday at the big meeting.   I hope I can find the words to do her justice.   1 year is a big deal.

I love being a sponsor even though it is challenging at times, I love helping others in the best way I can.    Sometimes though I feel like how can I help them when sometimes I can’t even help myself.   They keep me sober and honest with myself.    I don’t want to fail them, I want to be the best example of sobriety that I can be.

Meet Ollie

IMG_6111So this happened this weekend …. my husband and I were bored and took a trip to the local animal shelter, the next day we brought our new 8 week old little boy puppy home.  Crazy?, yes!  But we couldn’t resist.   We think his name will be Ollie.   We have tried out several names and this is the one that seems to fit the best, at least so far.

Our current dog is getting on in years and we have been toying with the idea for awhile, but not seriously and we were wanting an older dog, not a puppy.   Funny how things work out.   Our older dog, Sadie, is not overly thrilled with this new addition.  Hopefully in time she will grow to love him as we do.   Right now she is totally trying to avoid him.

Spring/Summer will be the perfect time to get this puppy trained.   I am not working and Steve is in between jobs and taking the summer off to really explore different opportunities and what he wants to do with the rest of his life.    We are blessed that we have the means to let him do this and the chance to spend some fun time together.

It is a crazy world we live in …. you never know what is going to happen when you wake up in the morning.

Empty Nest Again

Back on my beautiful back patio, chilling, listen to the birds sing and letting my mind wander some more.    I am blessed with my family and friends and the life I have despite the obstacles of addiction and at times mental issues.

This past weekend we celebrated Easter.   Both of my girls were home at the same time, the first since Christmas.   I had not seen Kirsten, the Chicago daughter since then.   It was so wonderful having a full house …. the two girls plus 1 boyfriend for a long weekend.   It is different with adult children our relationship has changed to an adult relationship.   Steve and I really enjoy our adult children, we had a lot of fun just hanging out with them and being together. We did the family Easter thing at my Moms house celebrating with my brothers and family … 14 of us in all.   And though it was very loud and chaotic at times, it was still wonderful.  I love having everyone together, the kids ages 2.5 to almost 24 enjoyed the Easter Egg Hunt, it was fun to watch the little ones and the big kids act like little ones.

Now it is Monday.    Allie and Patrick are back to work in Columbus.  We took Kirsten to the airport this morning for her flight back to Chicago and school and Steve left for an overnight business trip.   I went from a full house to just me sitting at home alone contemplating life. I am back to having an earache and sore throat  and sinus issues … which is making me more self aware that I am now alone and feeling a little sad.   I miss having my kids around, but they are spreading their wings and I am proud of them.    They are great kids or I should say they have turned out to be great people.

Really I should have nothing to complain about, I am truly blessed.

April 19th

Today is the anniversary of my first surgery to create my JPouch due to the disease of Ulcerative Colitis.    It was April 19, 2005 … 14 years ago.   It is hard to believe how sick I was in 2003-2005.   I couldn’t eat, I definitely couldn’t drink alcohol.   I was tired, irritable, very thin (says the now fat girl) and always in pain and in the bathroom.    I look back on those days and it was complete misery.

I was anxious, I was clinically depressed.   I was on so medication to treat the UC that nothing worked to help the depression and anxiety.   That is really when my love affair with Xanax started that I eventually would be come addicted to.    I was on high doses of prednisone which made my mental symptoms worse, but it was the only thing that would remotely control the pain and bleeding from the UC.   At the time it was a pitiful existence.

I had my surgery at the Cleveland Clinic which was tops in treating bowel disease.    I was so apprehensive to have this surgery.   It scared the hell out of me, in fact I was pretty sure I was going to die having this surgery or die if I didn’t.    If you don’t know what a JPouch is look it up, it is complicated, but in a nutshell they remove your diseased colon – which was all of it and create an internal pouch for waste from you small intestine.    In 2005 it was an open surgery where the cut you open to remove the large intestine, today it is way less invasive.   I had an illeostomy bag for 3 months and another surgery in July to remove that and connect everything.

It is the most painful and traumatic thing I have every been through.   With both surgeries I would say it took about a year to fully recover to my new normal.

During this time I became very spiritual.   Praying the Rosary, Novenas and just talking to God.    I felt very close to my higher power during this time and probably would not have survived with out my faith.   I even had the anointing of the sick before the surgery.   It helped me cope.

Even after I recovered the anxiety and depression lingered.    The Xanax usage continued to increase and the drinking was a problem, because internally my make up was now different and I had the brain of an addict.

Today, 14 years later, I am healthy, I am sober and I can eat just about anything (and obviously I did to make up for lost time).    I am grateful for the healing this surgery has brought me.   They say you are not cured after you have the surgery.   Problems still can arise, but they are few and far between.   I thank God for the miracle of medicine and all the people who took care of me and my family during that time.

I always remember April 19th.


Now What ……

I am sitting here on my beautiful back patio enjoying a the warming weather of spring.  Just thinking and letting my mind wander.    My life is good … on the outside.  No seriously it is good and I feel guilty for not been happy and joyous.   It has been about a year since I have quit working and I am still trying to find myself.   I volunteer, work with my sponsees go to AA meetings, see my trainer and hang out with friends and family.  What is there not to love about this life.   I just don’t know, I need more purpose.   I am feeling what is the point of all this life stuff and know there has to be one.

My therapist suggests that maybe taking a class would help keep my mind busy so I am thinking about what I want to do.   I do enjoy learning and a class would give me something to focus on … but what?    I am researching online courses and it is overwhelming.   I did find an inexpensive site with a lot of options of work at your own pace classes which might be a good place to start, I could just dabble in something and see if it goes anywhere.    Steve and I are also contemplating a yoga class – which could be helpful with our anxiety and stress and overall lack of flexibility.   I am starting a bible study class this week so that is something too.   There is also a “class” of sorts I want to take about breaking the barriers to exercise, diet and health (since I have done very little in that arena as well).  I have got to do something more with myself.  I have  just got to get up and do it!

So obviously I am still in this funk.   I am not sure what it is about, but it is making me crazy.   I just don’t want to feel this way and it does make for some crappy days.  I don’t want to drink and/or drug, but it would sure take the edge off.   I just have so much to loose if I choose to go that route.   Like I said before, I have some great friends in recovery that I love with all my heart and I do not want to loose that.   I also (usually) enjoy working with others in the program.

I guess I just have to feel the feels and keep acting like life is as good as it is, because I am sure it will be again soon.   I just seem to cycle through these down and anxious periods.  I really am blessed and grateful, I know I have it good.    Lets just be Happy, Joyous and Free.

Great isn’t always great

So I have been feeling a little out of sorts as of late.   It doesn’t help that I have been fighting the ear / throat / cough stuff that has been going around.    I am still working on the anxiety, though I have found some relief.    I am not sure what has me feeling a little crazier than usual.

Everything seems to be going well.    I gave my AA story (my lead) a few weeks ago and that definitely caused me a lot of anxiety, but it went well and I got a lot of positive feedback from the group.    I also got a new sponsee so that puts me back at 3 since one of my girls did not last long.   I planned a fun St. Patrick’s Day party at the AA Club that I am involved with and there was a great turn out.   To read this and to see what I have been doing it sounds like things should be good in the AA world.   I just feel in my head that I am not feeling the AA way.   Stinken Thinken.  I am getting tired of being sober.   I want to feel and practice what I preach.   I love the program and my sober peeps so it is not logical that I feel this way.  I really don’t have any plans to drink,  but a shot of Wild Turkey always makes me feel better when I am sick.

My sober friends and my sponsees do keep me busy and usually grounded.    I probably need some gratitude …. I know my sponsor would make me do a gratitude list if I complain and maybe thats what I need.    I know what to do and I know how to do it.  I just don’t want to.   So I will sit in this discomfort until I realize how silly I am being. There are just so many drinking events and sometimes it just sucks being the one drinking water or worse being the one who can not go at all because its all about drinking.

Oh poor me,  poor me …. Pour Me a Drink!

Death and Gratitude

I was texting with my oldest daughter and she told me that a friend of hers had passed away, when I asked her what happened it only took one word …. Fentanyl.

The drug culture today is so scary.   I had met this young man on a couple of occasions and I do remember him.  He took Xanax laced with the Fentanyl.  It took me back and shook me to my core.

Xanax is my drug a choice and what ultimately led me to treatment and sober living.  I never bought it off the street, I always got it from the pharmacy.   But had I gone much further in my addiction, I could see myself going to the streets.  Things were getting that serious.  I did look at getting drugs from the internet.  I even went so far as to pay the “sign up” fee, but I never went through with it.    I am so grateful I didn’t quite reach that point.  I am grateful that I got the help I needed, even though it took me several years and many relapses to get to this point of sobriety.

This young man who died is my daughters age … 23.   To young to die.  Drugging in todays society is so much more intense than in years past … It is deadly.  I feel for the family and friends of this young man who was really just a kid.  I am really sad for a life lost.   But I can find gratitude for how how my life has turned around.

Recovery is a beautiful thing

Anxiety Issues

So I have been experiencing a lot of anxiety lately.   I can not pin point one exact cause.  I think there are many.    I am an anxious person by nature and have been diagnosed many years ago with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

I have been having some panic along with the anxiety and the usual symptoms of racing mind, racing heart, pain in the chest area, sleepless nights and that feeling of doom.  With the symptoms you think the worst … heart attack.   But I have had enough anxiety over the years to know it is not, but it doesn’t stop the anxious thoughts.   I have been to my therapist who suggested some reading materials and deep relaxation breathing.   I have seen my doctor who confirmed I was not going to stroke out and suggested some of the same things.     The thing is I get so caught up in my anxiety that I am too  paralyzed to do anything.     I try to ignore the symptoms, but they are always there.   It sucks!

I follow the Cleveland Clinic on Facebook since that is where I had my UC surgery and this ironically popped up on my page today …. Anxiety 9 ways to keep it at bay:

1.  Think of yourself as a firefighter putting out the flames of anxiety with cool breaths

2.  Cool down anxious thoughts by thinking about what you can and cannot change about the situation.

3.  Get some perspective by considering how the situation will impact your life in 5 minutes or 5 years.

4,  Sooth your system – try some yoga stretches or find some other gentle ways to calm your body.

5.  Talk it out by sharing your feelings with others.

6.   Don’t ignore, something needs your attention.

7.   Rule out other causes that may be medical issues.

8.   Wait it out, ride the wave as this too shall pass.

9.  Be mindful and stay in the moment.    The game of 5 ….. name 1 thing you can taste, 2 things your can smell 3 things you can touch right now 4 things you can hear and 5 things you can see see in the immediate environment.

I will try, especially the breathing that was suggested by my counselor and doctor while I ride the wave waiting for this to pass.

Due to my addiction I can not take benzodiazepines especially since Xanax and Ativan were my drug of choice.   That leaves me with Buspar and Hydroxyzine.  If I take enough it will kind of take the edge off, but what I really need is a healthy dose of Xanax,  Even my Dr. said that nothing was as effective as the benzos.    But it is not worth the possibility of another addiction crisis.   The odds of me taking them as safely as prescribed are not in my favor.    So like I said above I just have to ride this one out and do what I can to minimize the effects.

Anxiety sucks and is not for sissies!

Snowy Day

The holidays are over, the kids are gone, it is mid January and we are having our first major snow of the season.    It has been a long day and mostly lazy with the exception of shoveling the driveway.   Yes we shoveled our very long driveway as our snowblower is tucked away way in the backyard in the shed … of course!    The snowflakes are large and they keep coming, our clean driveway is no longer.

It is cozy with the fire, the football game on the TV and a book within reach.   Something though is missing ….. the kids.    Allie has been gone for a couple of weeks and Kirsten left yesterday.   It is quiet.   The kids have been out of the house for awhile, but it is always hard when they leave after having them home for month, well at least one of them was home for a month.   The other is a real adult with a teaching job she had to get back to.

So with the kids gone, the holidays over and Steve’s travel schedule picking up, it is time once again to find myself.    I find myself in that lull between being super busy with the holidays, vacation and entertained with the kids to getting started again with finding my purpose.  I started volunteering some in November and I need to pick back up on that,  I have to get myself back in gear to getting healthy and loosing some weight (I have lost 13 lbs so far with gaining just a couple back over the holidays) and I really need to be connecting better with my sponsees (but that is mostly on them).    I look at the calendar and see many empty days.  What will I do to fill the time?  The days of running kids around or even having them home is over.   I have to fill my time with me.  Volunteering, AA, my Trainer and various appointments and of course girlfriend time .. is it enough to fill me?

Snowy days when you are stuck inside sure do give you a lot of time to think.   As they say in recovery; we will just take it one day at a time and enjoy each moment … even the snowy ones.



Christmas Vacation

Steve, the girls and I spent Christmas this year in Key West, Florida.    It was nice to be with the kids together for a week in the sunshine.   Our time together is limited since Allie lives away and Kirsten is still in college.    We had a good time.

I did miss getting together with the extended family and our Christmas tradition of making braciola for Christmas dinner that my Dad started when the kids were young.    A tradition that the grandchildren insist on keeping since grandpa passed away in 2010.   It is a great memory we all share and a tie that binds the family.     But going away every couple of years is my little family tradition – this was our 3rd Christmas away and one we may not be able to do much longer as my kids get older and get on with their lives.

In Key West there was a lot of drinking and bar hopping.  I did well, drinking is not an option, but it sure did look good and I felt a little left out.   I managed.    We went on a couple of fun excursions … we did a food tour, a sunset cruise and got out of our comfort zone and went to our first drag queen show.     The drag show was so fun and entertaining.   The food tour was informative and delicious and of course I was the only one not again not drinking alcohol.   The sunset cruise was just ok, beautiful sunset, but too many people.

I am glad we went and that we had some quality family time.  But  Christmas just didn’t seem like Christmas this year, it was just another day in the sun and I really did miss being home with the rest of the family.   I still have a pile of gifts to give.

On another note ….. my therapist is officially retiring at the end of the year.   So I  had my last appointment with Judy before our trip.   It is weird.  I have been going for so long … like 15 years or so.   She has seen me through so much and knows me so well.   I feel like we have broken up or something, that the relationship is just cut off.   I really don’t know how to process it.    I do have someone else – I have switched over to seeing Shelley, the person who was originally our marriage counselor.   But it is change and I don’t do well with change.     I will always be in therapy, I just need it!

I still have trouble with change and control …. and fear of missing out.

Vacation was wonderful, but there is no place like home!!!