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.

 

 

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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.

Red Letters

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…

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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.

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.

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.