Today I am 3…!

And not looking back.

Well… except for the occasional review of history.  The present moment sometimes requires that re-assessment for optimal growth.  It’s called a searching and fearless moral inventory.  The 4th Step.  I’ve done many and will continue to do so.  Too often pointing the finger only leaves us stuck in our own muck and mire. But I am so weary-  oh so freakin’ weary, of making the same mistakes.

You see, I’ve been a slow learner.  An extremely, painfully slow learner.  Maybe the lessons that I’ve been needing to learn over the past 10 years have been strongholds-  iron hard lessons about character and personality.  They need to be confronted with a raw and brutal honesty.  Blindspots- named such for good reason.  Most times it takes an epiphany or breakthrough to reveal them.

And when they are finally revealed, seeing these behaviors and issues in ourselves can be incredibly painful.

But true freedom is just around the corner from here.

I think I’m finally up for it.  Lord, please help me to be up for this.

Now that I’m typing, I’m not sure I’m ready to reveal the exact circumstances of this stronghold…. that’s also something I’ve struggled with.  How much to reveal?  Vulnerability.  The difference between honesty and privacy.

What I will say is that it is all about emotional control.  Emotional sobriety.  Emotional intelligence… EQ

Or lack of.

It’s also about maintaining sobriety vs being alcohol free.  Now being AF all by itself is a huge accomplishment.  But growth and change and true freedom all require work.  Heavy lifting on the psyche.  Without the emotional control that comes with being sober, things can get pretty ugly.  Fast.

The term is dry drunk.

And I believe that is exactly what I’ve been experiencing for the past year.  Since last spring when the chaos began.  A chain of events, probably around 8 or 9, separate and unrelated events occurred in my life over the course of about 3 weeks, give or take.  I’ve not gone to AA meetings this time around but I began attending daily mass.  Last spring I stopped attending due to one of these “events”.   Had to do with another parishioner.  A male parishioner.  I’ve had traumatic events happen in my past that have centered around men.  I also grew up with a violent, morose, alcoholic father.  Until I was 8 or 9 anyway.  Enough time to leave it’s mark.

Let’s just say I have issues.

With men and with boundaries.  The boundaries could apply to everyone, not just men. Actually, I’m going to re-phrase:  I have had issues.  Because I am healing and becoming healthier in both those respects.  I am changing.

Can I hear an Amen?

‘Cause it’s been damn hard work.  Damn hard emotional work, lemme tell ya.  But I’m determined.  Where there’s a will there’s a way.

So I’m owning it.  Or rather, I’m going deeper.  I’ve owned it my whole life.  Thank God, I found a fantastic therapist and I’ve been “let go” from my job….. nice way of saying I was fired.  But it’s been an absolute blessing in disguise.  I handled myself with grace and integrity; much different than I would have even 2 months ago.  It’s given me time.  Time that I’m using wisely and productively.  Clearing, cleaning and organizing.  Both in mind, body, soul and environment.

I am becoming my own best friend.

This pandemic has triggered such deep stuff in me.  Things from childhood that I thought were gone.  It’s the layers of an onion analogy.  I wrote a post about the scars left behind a little over 3 years ago.  Not long after, I hit my final bottom.  Pray to God it was my final.  I take nothing for granted.  Especially my sobriety.  I had 11 years sober at 40 years of age and went out again.  It took me 22 years to get back.

So while I’m not looking behind me, sometimes a review is necessary….and that’s ok.

Thanks be to God.  And every one of you. 🙏

Chop Wood, Carry Water

I am writing this as much for myself as anyone.

The ability to lay one’s life down for his brother produces perfect love.

And “Perfect love casts out all fear.”  1 John 4:18

I can feel the anxiety growing.

Not so much in myself but in the “energy field” we all live in.

Stop thinking and trying to figure it all out.  We can not.  And the mind and thoughts will tend to bring us down.  We need to stay with our deepest knowing part of ourselves.

Our heart.

The only things we have control over are ourselves and our ability to stay grounded, centered, aligned, balanced.

self-less.

Breathe. Be in your body.  Feel the sensations.  Ground yourself. Center. Align yourself with love, not fear.  State your intention to remain loving and helpful to others in need.

Do the next right thing.

Where have you drawn your strength from in times of need?  

I draw strength from my faith in Jesus Christ.  This has been my path.  We all have access to the Creator inside our hearts.  Ask for the truth of who you are.  It’s time to let all the pretense fall away.  Pray for higher, unselfish wisdom and guidance.

TRUST.

Pray for all those suffering and in need.

They have always been there but in our blessed lives, we have tended to not notice.

There is much to be done.  As Bob Dylan put it:  “You’re gonna have to serve someone.

Will it be yourself?  Or the other?

The following is the full and original version of our Serenity Prayer:

God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Amen.

I can’t imagine where I would be right now if not sober.  Curled up drunk and scared and of no use to anyone.  Or to God.

Thanks be to God for giving me the grace of sobriety.

 

 

 

One and done. Farewell…for now

I began WTW because I had a desperate desire to put down the alcohol; not because I wanted to write.  But I began to witness this amazing sober community of strength and support and (mostly) non-judgemental attitudes.  And these people were doing it!  Living sober.  And some had been living it for years.  AND…..they were happy.

So I wrote.

I felt it might be my last shot.

Well here I am with 1 year and 2 weeks today.  Unrecognizable at every turn.  I’m at peace with who I am in sobriety and who I am becoming. I am full of hope and look forward to pursuing my remaining years as a sober woman.  By God’s grace, I will pass from this world to the next sober.  One of my goals is to be a kinder, gentler version of myself.  Emphasize the positive traits, temper down the character flaws and defects and mix well with a lot of love!  I’m down 15 pounds although part of that was leaving the cheese shop! I love my job now and the people I lead.  The gratitude most days is overflowing.

I don’t even blink now when someone asks me why I don’t drink-  so rude to begin with.  I just look deadpan at them eye to eye and say “Oh you go first and tell me why you do.”  Usually there’s an awkward silence and then some mumbling.  Gets ’em every time.

  Should someone ever actually take me up on it and list reasons, they’ll be listing all the reasons I don’t.

I do not need to drink anymore.  Not that I’m cured, oh no way.  But way deep down inside of me I feel like a non-drinker.  If it weren’t for the lifetime of wretched memories, it would feel like it’s never even been a part of my life.

BUT…..

you all know we all have “those” days.

That’s why it’s so important to work hard to develop those emotional/mental/spiritual muscles and strong self-care routines early on.  The healthy habits will help pull you through those times of tests and trials.  Along with lots of support from those who’ve gone before you.

So…..

this will be my last post for the foreseeable future.  I’m leaving the blog in place should I feel inspired.  Right now though the thought of writing is painful.  I want to enjoy it- not feel burdened by it.  It’s just not happening for me now.

I will leave you all with two things:

The first is a link to one of my sober heroes latest blog post.  This year did not come easy for me.  I started to become a chronic relapser.  Her posts are always uplifting and in this latest she writes of why it’s so hard to get/stay sober.

Tipsy No More

The second is something I read during my morning prayers last week.  I immediately thought of this sober community.  It is written from one Christian sojourner to another;  someone he’s never met.

“It is not surprising if, despite being far apart, we are present to each other….because we are members of one body, we have one head, we are steeped in one grace, we live on one loaf, we walk on one road, and we dwell in the same house.”      St. Paulinus of Nola to St. Augustine

Peace and Love to you all and may you be blessed.

HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!

Looking Back @ 1 Year WTW…almost

1 month from today, pray to God, I’ll have 1 solid year of sobriety.  It’s hard to believe but then…it’s not.  It’s been a battle hard-won.  Twenty-two years of head banging, inner conflict and torment.  Knowing the truth.  Trying to deny it. Work around it. Trick it.  Ignore it.

Anything but face it.

The powerlessness.  The unmanageability of my life although most of the time, I put on a pretty good show.

The wreckage.

The withering of my soul.

Oh yeah, there have been times when the blinders came off and moments where the truth sunk in- even a spirit of willingness.  Usually after a humiliation.  But the willingness came more from an attempt to redeem myself; in my own eyes as well as for those around me- a bargaining chip- an action originating in pride to soften the sting of idiocy.

The willingness was for the wrong reasons.

But now…everything has changed.

I have not had even one day of taking this sobriety for granted and I’m still in awe that I truly am a new creation.

Thanks be to God.

I’ve had an aversion to all things electronically social these past 3 or 4 months.  Kind of like I overdosed. So, I’m unsure as to how long I will continue posting here on WTW.   While I do enjoy and derive great satisfaction from the finished product when I post, it’s a long and arduous process.  Perfectionism makes it way too time consuming.

But I don’t want to just disappear. I’ve spent most of my life doing just that and it’s a pattern of old behavior that needs to go.  And it leaves me feeling unsettled when others do the same.

While I suffer deeply for connection, it’s the thing I have always feared the most.

I used to love the A.A. saying “Live and let live”.  Most selfish people do.  We take it to mean “Ask  nothing of me and I’ll ask nothing of you”.  Perfect.

That’s not what it means.

Thank you to all my fellow bloggers (you know who you are) who have seen me through to this amazing point because while I give the glory to the Lord for my sobriety, He sent you, His angels, to me.

 

 

Ramblings @ 9 Months…

Don’t expect much here.

Why’s it I have so much to say in my head and the minute I sit down here, it’s all gone?  It’s been about 6 weeks and I’ve got 5 or 6 post titles saved with a few lines in each but haven’t been able to complete even a one.

I think it’s March Madness.  My own.  Nothing to do with basketball.

It’s always the worst month for me mentally and emotionally.  Weather weary.  Wardrobe weary.  Tired of the black and grey.   Brighter colors attract attention and I’d rather not be noticed.

I’m yearning to stay in but anxious to move out.  At odds with myself.

I always feel like I’m hatching in the spring.  Most times I don’t really want to. Just leave me be.  To ramble away…..

Nine months of sobriety feels like a lifetime- in a very good way.  I’m still in awe of the fact that sobriety has become who I am.

I am sober.

I don’t drink.

I don’t even think about it.

It’s no longer even a part of my thought process.  Strange…  it’s almost like alcohol was never a part of my life.  Even on the bad days.  And seriously, there’s been more than a few of them.

Makes me a little suspicious actually.

What hasn’t felt so good is the growth.  I guess it never does.  At least while it’s happening.  The rewards of perseverance come later.  Sometimes much later.

But I trust they will because I trust in the One who began His work in me.  He will not leave me unfinished.

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”  Philippians 1:6

By His grace and mercy @ 9 months, 3/20/18

 

 

The end of myself

1.25.18:

I’ve been coming to the end of myself lately.  You know when you think you’ve made great strides and then BAM, it hits you.  They hit you.  All those nasties you thought you left behind.  Character defects.  Personality flaws.  With a little (or a lot) of the mental combat thrown in.  And self compassion is nowhere to be found.  No matter how much you dig.

So what’s happening here?

Despair at what I see.  The black hole that always seems to suck every good thing into its swirling oblivion.  The black hole always seems to appear after a time of seeing the positive changes and growth within myself.

It’s the all or nothing mindset.  And pride and ego are usually not too far away.

And what’s missing?

Gratitude. Compassion. Mercy. Grace.

Mercy is not getting what you deserve.  Grace is getting what you don’t deserve.

I’ve received more than an abundance of both in my life.

2.4.18

Doesn’t take much work these days.  Actually, it takes an enormous amount of work in the form of surrender and humility.  But I’m willing.  It turns around what in the past would have been the beginning of one of those “dark nights” my soul knows all too well.

So much has happened in the last 8 months.  Yes, sobriety happened.  But I had 9 years of sobriety at the time I was 40 years old and I am so much more now.  I was happy and joyful then.  Stable to a degree.  But I am so much more than that now.

I am healed.  

Not from alcoholism but from the fractured and broken emotional bones of childhood trauma.  From the self-inflicted pain of young adulthood.  From the desire to self destruct.

I am healed.

Of all the self-hatred I nurtured.  The perceived notions, hidden from consciousness in the well of confusion and abandonment, that I did not deserve to love or be loved.

I have learned well what it means to be “saved”.  I always hated that. Not the thought of salvation but the question:  “Are you saved?”

I never realized what that truly meant.  Never realized I needed a savior.  Never wanted to admit it.  But I did.  Eventually I did.  Realized it and admitted it.

Asked for it.  Begged for it.  With every part of my being.

You see, Heaven and Hell exist here.  They are not some fantastical places up in the sky or in the bowels of the earth.  You have the choice of living in either one right now.  You have the choice only if you surrender your pride and arrogance.  The false belief that you can save yourself.  We all need more than ourselves.  The one who created us knows what we need to live in peace and joy.  You can’t ask yourself; you didn’t create yourself.

Only the inventor knows for what purpose he created his invention.

15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.  Deuteronomy 30:15-16

I am healed.

I have chosen life over death.  Heaven over hell.

I am healed.

Thank you Jesus.

 

Image credit: Cielo e Infierno (Heaven and Hell) | by Dibus y Deabus

 

Know You

So much has happened and is happening in my life that I am overwhelmed to write a post- don’t know where to begin. Miracle after miracle- the most major is that I have 7 months sobriety! By God’s grace and mercy. I found Hayley because she found me first…. just like it happens with the Lord. Whether it’s anxiety or alcoholism or any other form of enslavement, let Him set you free. Thank you Hayley, for sharing your gift.  You have the voice of an angel.

Hayley Boden

There was a very difficult period in my life when I felt so incredibly lost and lonely and I didn’t know which direction to turn.

I was suffering from acute anxiety that was crippling me in areas of my everyday life.

To look at me I was the picture of health but inside I was a mess and completely lost.

It wasn’t until I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour that I truly discovered who I was and ‘found myself’ and found fulfillment in Him.

Jesus desired for me to know Him in the same way that He knew me.

Below are lyrics to part of the chorus of the song ‘Know you’:

 I was lost but you came to find me 

Leaving the many you would come to draw me back to you                    

I was empty but you…

View original post 329 more words

Loss without the wine

grief.  

I’ve never grieved without drinking.  I’ve lost both parents, 2 brothers, numerous friends and others.  But never without the obliteration of alcohol.

My brother Richard and I have a special bond.

My first memory of him was watching a summer storm together… I was about 3 or 4 and he is five years older so he was around 8 or 9.  As we stood at the screen door looking outside at the thunder and lightning, which us kids always loved and found thrilling, he looked down at me and said: “I’m going to marry you some day, you know.”

He is now dying.

After a 2 year brutal and exhausting struggle with throat cancer, he’s being called home.  Mid-December, my 2 sisters and I took a road trip up to where he lives near the Canadian border.  To hug him, to love him and to say goodbye.  It was a 5 hour trip each way.  He didn’t know we were coming.

Because he would have told us not to.

Not because he didn’t want to see us.  He most likely didn’t want us to see him so helpless.  He wouldn’t want us to worry.  And his battle had left him totally spent.  Head sunk down on the table spent.

I don’t remember a time when his life has ever been about him.

Richard is a stubborn, self-reliant Vermonter through and through….with a huge heart.  A soft heart.  And a servant’s heart most of all.

As I write this, I’m wondering if this is his moment….. Or is it now? An hour from now?  Or a day.  Only the Lord knows.

What I do know, is that a part of me will be leaving with him when his soul takes flight.

I want to be awake and ready at the exact moment he finds his freedom.

I’ve spent the day in prayer, candles lit, gazing at the last picture we took of him and me. And gathering together all the photos I have of him with me and the rest of our brood.

And resting.

Because grief is exhausting and it’s only just begun.

Through it all I have remained sober.

Thanks be to One who set me free.

 

I am the toddler on the right. Richard is standing behind my sister holding me.

I talk too much.

  Especially when it comes to certain men.

Certain men that I find appealing.

And really, there are not many that turn my head.

It has little to do with looks and everything to do with demeanor and character.  I mean, I’d rather he not be a hunchback or anything.  But when that special combination arrives in front of me and the interest appears mutual…..

I give myself away.  Just like a happy pooch.

Happypup

I remember my mom always said: “You need to keep some mystery about you.”  I hated that!  It seemed dishonest but I’ve always had a tough time distinguishing between what was appropriate to share and with whom.  It’s all been very confusing for me.

I can appear to be aloof because I am somewhat reserved.  I dislike small talk and having to make conversation.  If we talk, let’s get down to it.

I want to know what feeds your soul.

And you can be sure I will tell you what feeds mine.  Along with the long drawn out history of the why, who, what, where and how.

But because this takes a lot of energy, let’s only do this if we think we can make a go of it. You know… be friends and all that.  I’ve not only approached my romantic interests this way but my women friends as well.

Sometimes I wonder about myself.  Less often than I used to… but still.  When I look at myself, I see a mess of bloody contradictions. Definitely not gifted in the social arena.

I remember reading somewhere in the blogosphere:  “People should earn the privilege of hearing your story.”

If you are the owner of that quote, please claim it!  I would like to thank you.  I’ve actually started keeping a journal of all the amazing bits of wisdom I’ve read along with the wise men and women that “spoke” them.  I want to give the credit where it’s due.

Because you have all been my healers and helpers.  

Of course GOD is the master healer because He led me to you all, but I would not be here sober had I not found this amazing and nurturing community.

The good news is that I’m getting used to being in my own skin. With sobriety I have peace.  A growing acceptance of the things I can’t change and a strong desire to change what I can.  So what if I don’t have all the answers.  I do know I am a person of solitude and quite happy with my independence.

I know that my path is total devotion to the Lord.  If He sees fit to give me a partner to share in that devotion, my social idiosyncrasies won’t matter…I’ll be loved just as I am.

As I am loved by Him.

In ending, it just struck me that a little mystery is a good thing.

A beautiful thing.

A GOD thing.

Merry Christmas and Peace on Earth to all.