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 if we hang in there and continue the trek, peace will be found around the corner from there.

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 how much I’m ready to reveal regarding the exact nature of this stronghold.

What I will say is that it’s all about emotional control.  Emotional sobriety.  Emotional intelligence.  Also known as EQ.

And my incredible 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 needs to be cultivated in sobriety,  things can get pretty ugly.

The term is dry drunk.

 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 but I am healing and becoming healthier in both those respects.  I am changing.  Actually, God is changing me.  This is way bigger than me.

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 wonderful 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. 🙏

Finding Our Way Back

“The way home every single time is this:

After my worst failure, after I am convinced this time I have gone too far and destroyed too much, I must believe who God says I am.

I am not defined by my erratic behaviors but by something so much deeper, infinitely strong and constant.  I am a new creature.

When I find myself risking to trust this way of seeing, the power of the lie begins to vanish and that increasing confidence in who I really am becomes the bedrock that will break my shame and addiction so I get to live free for the rest of my life.”

…….Traylor Levvorn

Although this quote from the film “The Heart of Man” relates to sexual addiction, all addiction stems from the same misguided attempts to make ourselves whole.

I’m coming up on 3 years sober and free and in spite of tremendous upheavals and emotional pain in my life, and I know that I am far from alone in this at this time, I still remain with no desire to drink or medicate myself.  Thanks be to God.

Haven’t been around as ya’ll know…. I’ve been on an extended self-directed retreat of solitude.  I am blessed to be able to afford myself this opportunity.

Ending this with one more quote from the same film.  William Paul Young, author of The Shack, is the author of this one. 

See you next time I come up for air. 

“We have no idea about the truth of our beings.  We do not know how relentless this affection is that will pursue us, wrap itself around our brokenness and sing us into healing.

We matter.

Every single one of us matters and the choices we make matter.

Every choice to forgive, to be kind, to be authentic, to open up our inside worlds to tell our secrets-  these things change the cosmos- not just inside you, but inside this whole created universe in which we dwell

Who you are matters and who you’re becoming matters.

You’re the one He left the 99 to go and find.”

 

With much love and prayers to all of you amazing warriors.

And thank you…. I wouldn’t be sober without all your love and support.

🙏❤️🙏

 

Image Credit:

“IMG_6587” by {studiobeerhorst}-bbmarie is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

 

The Great Awakening

Redefining What Is 

And just like that, the busyness suddenly stopped.

And everything became quiet while reality grabbed hold and fear gripped the world.

And, in mere days, what was once important no longer was, and what was necessary was redefined, and what was needed found a way, and what was to be, slowly became so, and the people listened, and God waited.

And what followed would be remembered as The Great Collective Pause.

And the children stayed home, and the parents that could, worked from home, and families played together, and they took walks together, and they cooked and they ate together.

And they smiled, and they laughed, and they cried, and they cuddled, and they reassured each other, in spite of their fear and worry.

And in the forced stillness they began to pray, and God listened.

And while everything was closed, the air became cleaner, and the water became clearer, and the sky looked bluer, and the sun shone brighter.

And answers that at one time were lost in the chaos of too much, were unearthed in the presence of simplicity, and the winds of Mother Nature whispered of rebirth, and the picture of life began to change.

And the people prayed for guidance and mercy, and God heard hearts calling his name, and He answered.

And neighbors checked on neighbors, and friends called to cheer, and hearts began to heal, and rifts began to close, and egos began to crumble, and love flowed like rain, and life took on a slower, softer pace.

And parents remembered, and children learned, and people let go, and ‘I’ became ‘we,’ and we became one, and the consciousness of humanity turned its face toward love.

And what was broken began to heal, and what was missing was found, and what was no longer needed faded away, and the world shifted so abruptly on its axis that everything stopped spinning such that all that could be heard was the angels trumpeting our return to God.

Chris Coyler, March 22, 2020

Image credit: mysterious landscape by lxrowe@deviantart.com

My Tree

“If we walk in the light as He is in the light…” (1 John 1:7).

For many of us, walking in the light means walking according to the standard we have set up for another person. The deadliest attitude of the Pharisees that we exhibit today is not hypocrisy but that which comes from unconsciously living a lie.

                                                                    From My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers

🙏

Choose love over fear.

Perfect love casts out all fear.

Love will save us. Not hate. Not fear.

Not Judgement. 

If you feel a need to blame or judge, first look within. Then cast the first stone….if you can.

Stay strong.  Stay sober. 

Each of us has a part to play in this healing.

Because…

every one of us has played some part, large or small, in getting us here.

Help someone in need. You won’t need to look very far.

May the Lord pour out His abundant Mercy and Compassion on us all.

 

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

 

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.

Pride and Control

There is a little Napoleon that lives inside of me.

Napoleanna.

 The incident in second grade is as vivid for me as if it happened yesterday.  By the teacher’s reaction, I knew that my behavior was inappropriate but I didn’t know why.  She never explained, at least to me, and I was left feeling confused and unsettled.  I don’t think she ever contacted my mother; the “problem” was never mentioned.  Although on second thought, parenting was low on the list of priorities.  We were feral children.

And so it remained for me to figure out.

It’s taken a very long time.

On the day to which I’m referring, I was assigned to the “safety patrol”.  The duty included keeping everyone quiet and orderly as we waited for the bus to take us home.  Once the bus arrived, everyone was to walk single file to get aboard.  And to do it quietly.  No talking or, God forbid, laughing or joking.  Complete silence.  We’re talking second grade here.  Probably about 25 to 30 little bundles of light and energy.

Well, I just began pulling kids out of line right and left and ordering (shouting?) others to “Be quiet!”.  “Shut up!” was often a favorite saying in my family of dysfunction so it wouldn’t surprise me if that’s what came out.  It was only a matter of moments before I was stripped of power and left awkwardly dazed on the sidelines.

Now anyone who knows me, knows I take my responsibilities most seriously.  Some might say overly so. It was as inherent to my nature then as it now.  They also know I’m a very black and white thinking type of gal.  A good portion of my “work” has been to allow  those shades of gray and other colors entrance into my thought processes.

Rigid is not good.

Not in body and not in mind.

Everything in nature needs to bend.  Needs to be yielding and flexible to survive.

This theme of pride, control and rigidity has run in and out of my life creating havoc whenever I was riding its wave.  The good news is that I really think I’m working it out.

 The stronghold.  The blind spot.  What I haven’t been able to see about myself.

There are things we know and there are things we know we don’t know.  For example, I know that I know how to cook.  I also know that I don’t know how to speak Spanish.

But… most important to learn are the things we don’t know that we don’t know.

This is not a typo.  It’s a saying I first heard way back in my self-help days at a Landmark Forum.  A kinder, gentler version of E.S.T.

 Much of my soul-searching has been like this:  sometimes when I gaze up at the night sky I can see a star off to the side in my peripheral vision. But the moment I turn to look directly at it, it disappears.  Gone.

It’s become more important than ever that I learn how to lead without dictatorship.  To direct others with the understanding they are not me and may have their own way of accomplishing a task.  And to offer correction with respect and dignity.

To love those around me as I would love myself.

My new position is challenging me to stay self-aware but with the focus on others.  A challenge that is only happening because of my sobriety.

Today I turn 62.  Today I am sober.

Today I have 117 days by His amazing grace.

It’s been a long tunnel.

I can see the light.