5 months solid

Tomorrow I will hit the 5 month mark.

It’s been relatively easy as my grand finale is still fresh in memory.  I drive by the cheese shop on my way home and see the lights on in the back room knowing the gang are all kickin’ back at closing time.  With cocktails of course.  And then there’s the liquor shop right next door to them.  No chance of running out.

The mental gymnastics I go through in that 2 second drive by are remarkable.

It looks cozy and inviting.  The camaraderie.  The bliss of checking out.

But it’s all fake.

One big illusion.  Take away the alcohol and it’s gone. All that’s left is the aftermath. The self-destruction parading itself as a good time.  What the…?  It seemed so real.

Maybe next time will be different.

Those 6 words have kept me enslaved to alcohol for 50 years.  Yes, I’ve had periods of sobriety but I’ve fallen over and over and over…..all because of that innocent sounding statement.

And it is only by the Grace of the good Lord that I am still here.

Most nights as I pass the shop, I see my thoughts for what they are and smile.  The yetzer hara  attempting to have its way with me.

Sorry, you best move on.  Ain’t going to happen.

But driving home from work Saturday night I got hit bad as I passed the shop.

I prayed.  Real hard.

And then the image came.  The 4 day binge.

  Repulsion replaced the craving.

Thanks be to God.

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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.

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.

 

 

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.