Holding Strong

I’ve made it through two holidays in 11 weeks.  Building that sober muscle for what’s to come.

Spent some time yesterday morning with a relatively new friend.  A year ago, when we were  initially talking about getting together, she had just moved in to her new home a few blocks from me.  She had mentioned that she made “great” cocktails.

Of course being me,  I gently tucked that bit of info away (with excitement and anticipation) and kept silent as to my struggle with alcohol.  I most certainly didn’t want to go burnin’ any bridges.

In one of my last posts I mentioned my need for honesty if I was to remain sober.  This was exactly the type of situation to which I had referred.

Time to sing a new song.  To respond differently.  Time to decide what I really and truly wanted.

So yesterday I told her.

I didn’t share horrid details but enough so that now she knows.

I feel stronger for it.

Integrity is very important to me.  In myself and in those I choose to spend time with.  My integrity is in the process of rebuilding itself;  within myself and with those around me.  That’s what feels strong.

Healing.

I have been on the fence about my sobriety for many years.  On  again, off again sobriety.  Mostly off.  I was commitment phobic.  Double-minded.

Actually,  I was just another alcoholic not wanting to be an alcoholic.

My grand finale 11 weeks ago hit me where it hurts most of us the hardest; in the arena of pride.  Self image.  What others see.  Really see about us and in us.

I’ve been praying to see myself as I really am… not how I envision myself or would like to be.

It is good to be sober.  Thanks be to God.

 

 

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One Year for WTW; 2 Months For Me

Today marks one year since I began this blogging journey.  With a desire and hope. Although I had put down the glass countless times in the past 22 years, this was not the half-hearted effort I so often made.

I began it with Belle’s 100 day Sober Challenge.  I made it but then the holidays happened.  Along with the denial.

Moments of clarity followed by dissent.  More rebellion.

January 1, 1986 was my first honest effort at sobriety and I remained for 9 years.  August 15th of last year was my second.  I remained for 100 days.  June 20 of this year is my third.  I have 2 months.

Since meeting the 100 day mark two days before Thanksgiving last year this is my longest stretch without the wine.

My life today is unrecognizable from what is was just 2 months ago.  At that time I was hiding away in misery with a job I despised and a boss/owner that was just downright  nasty and unappreciative.  I was also mourning the (perceived) loss of my dear and most trusted companion to marriage and I was racking up thousands of dollars in dental bills.

Today I am sober.  I am working full-time at a job I wake up excited to get to.  I have been hugged and kissed and told how happy “they” are to have me back and how much I’ve been missed.  “They” being my former health food store customers.  Today I am overjoyed for my friend and his engagement.  Why shouldn’t I be?  We have been praying for each other for many years for this exact blessing.  I still have the dental bills but they will be paid eventually.  I know that whatever the Lord has for me in my future will be perfect.  It always is.  He can even turn the garbage I create into gold….if I am willing to participate.  To do my part.  To not lose hope.  To ask for forgiveness and to forgive.  Myself included.  Myself especially.

And then get out of His way.

A customer from the cheese shop stopped in and handed me a card.  He wrote:

“Dear Elizabeth,  I was saddened to learn that you were no longer at the cheese shop but happy to know that you’ve returned to your old position at the natural food store.  However, I must say without your smiling face and cheerful outlook, shopping there is just not the same.  I suspect I am not the only one who misses you but we all wish you well!”  Fondest Regards,  Toby

I am so undeserving and unworthy of all the Lord has blessed me with.  But He knows my heart and He is a merciful God eager to bestow His grace on those who love Him and seek to do His will.

Before coming to faith in Christ, I always thought of His will as confining, limiting, boring and uncool.

It isn’t.

It is my own will that is all of those things.  It only breeds sorrow and destruction.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”    Philippians 4:7

 This peace that passes all understanding is mine if and only if I choose to remain sober.  A lasting peace that remains even during life’s storms.

I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Him and this sober community.  I thank everyone for their patience in bearing witness to my moments of idiocy and support for my (rare) moments of clarity.

Prayers gratefully accepted.

 

 

 

 

Coming Out

I am trying something new.

I truly believe that anonymity is over rated.  Especially these days.  And especially for me.

And I know that it (or how I’ve used it) has kept me from recovery.  In a huge way.  There is something about speaking the truth.  As long as I held back this information, it kept me from fully accepting this aspect of myself.  I was using anonymity.  A lack of integrity.

Integrity: having moral or ethical convictions and doing the right thing in all circumstances, even if no one is watching you. Having integrity means you are true to yourself and would do nothing that demeans or dishonors you.

 Now that doesn’t mean I have left all discretion to the wind (I wouldn’t tell a prospective employer- at least not in the interview)  but I’ve been examining my own tendencies and reasons for “hiding” my alcoholism.  My main and most cherished excuse from fully accepting who I am and to remain anonymous- what will they think?

Only a small part.  Tiny part as compared to the real reason.

Even in friendships where I knew I would not be judged I withheld.

Why?

The unwillingness to fully commit myself to sobriety.  Bet you more savvy folks knew that was coming.   I wanted a back door.  Just in case. Guess what else?  These were also friendships in which the other may drink but have no issues.  You know.  They can take it or leave it.  But I wanted to reserve the right to take it when we were together and none of the discomfort of having outed myself.  Oh- I take it back. I’m not really…you know…. I’m ok now.   HA!  Busted.

If I wish to have a sober life for whatever time I have remaining in this world then it is time to drop the facade.  Time to own it.  Time to come out.  And really, at this point, I’m not so sure I really give a crap about what others think of me…. a benefit of wisdom or as in my case, age.

Certain things become less important as one grows older… and old.  And other things, things we never much cared or thought about become like gold.

By His power and Grace @ 6 weeks.

 

about face

30 days.

Of rigorous honesty and soul searching.  With myself and those close to me.

Of sobriety.

It’s a new beginning.  And an ending.

Blessings in disguise.

With each passing day, I am more and more relieved to be done at the cheese shop.  Not proud of the exit but it was a much-needed and overdue humbling.  It has brought me to the place where I can say without a doubt that alcohol no longer has any place in my life.

Worth the price.  The shame.  The humiliation.

Leaving behind the walk-in full of alcohol.  The liquor store next door.

The constant references to alcohol as in “What wine would go with this cheese?”.

The Friday and  Saturday happy hours before closing.

Being the punching bag for the owner’s frustrations.

It was all worth it.

I have been working part-time since the start of April at a natural food store.  Worked there as a buyer and wellness consultant for 11 years prior to the cheese shop.  Last week the owner called me in to the office and asked if I would be interested in a full-time position.

It feels like I’ve come home.

Only He can turn the garbage into gold.

 

a cringeworthy surrender

Saturday June 17, 2017

I arrived to work at the shop and was told to leave.

Monday June 19, 2017

I arrived to work….  and was “terminated”.

Tuesday June 20, 2017

I left it all behind me.

For however long the Lord sees fit to give me life.

I’m finally ready to own up to it.  To write about it.

That case of wine in just 4 days….my first binge.

And my last.

It will be my last only if I can change my constitution.  From what the Big Book describes as being “constitutionally incapable” of being honest with myself to one of raw and brutal, face to face look in the mirror truth-seeking.

And God’s grace.  Although I must be runnin’ low in that account.

The following is an excerpt from one of my earlier posts…one that has almost ended up in the trash countless times because of the denial embedded within it.  I’m glad I saved it- so I can contemplate my own BS as difficult as it is to read through.

“I’ve been reflecting on why it was that my drinking was much worse before I first became sober…  when I started drinking again, after nine years sobriety, there was not the progression I had so often heard of in A.A .   Even though my tolerance did remain high, I didn’t drink anywhere near to the extent that I had in the past.”

Yeah well.

The progression has arrived and it’s apparently made up for lost time.  One of my many “yets” has become my reality.

I really couldn’t believe the total and absolute loss of control.

I do now.

It’s over.  I surrender.

It’s true.

 It takes what it takes….and then some.

dear neighbor

You don’t know me.

I don’t know you but I know who you are.  You dated a friend of mine a while back and I witnessed the happy pics of you on Facebook when you were together.  They were pics of when you were dancing at the old hotel in town.

You looked beautiful.

I could tell that you were a drinker because, well, it takes one to know one;  but it wasn’t obvious.

I know things didn’t work out and you are in the same situation you were before, which wasn’t good or healthy.  I’m sorry and I so want to reach out to you.  Things…relationships, work, life in general….everything can be different.

You are in my prayers and if our paths cross again and you are sober I have promised the Lord that I would offer my hand.

In the meantime, I thank you.

You began to enter the cheese shop but stopped short.  No, the package store is next door….you realized it but not before my glimpse of you left me dumbstruck.

It was about 5 o’clock “happy hour”…

You looked as if you just got out of bed.  I couldn’t tell if your cheek was black and blue or if it was a last-minute smear of blush to try to look “presentable”.  You had a smile on your face that didn’t match your appearance.  It was more of a grin divorced from reality.

It broke my heart.

I know you won’t remember coming out for more.

I’m truly sorry…..

but

I have gained from your misery.

You have unknowingly made me stronger….

your face is etched sadly and forever in my mind.

There but for the grace of God go I.