December 27, 2013

A Sober Year in Review – 2013

The coolest thing about having a blog is being able to go back and see how my life has changed and the growth that I have experienced. I don't usually see it in me until someone points it out or something happens that reminds me of the change. But being able to actually read about the different things I have learned is really amazing!

Here are some of my favorite posts of 2013!

I definitely believed that AA was not for me. I kept thinking that I had absolutely nothing in common with those sober AA people! And who the heck wants to be sober anyways! And the whole God thing they kept referring to was scary! And doing the 12 steps was even more freighting. Not for me, life sucked and I was miserable and there was no hope for me. That's what I thought...

I have been thinking about my "friend," who I have written about in The Odds Are Against US and who really is a family member. He is back to doing heroin after about a month of clean time. My heart is filled with fear that he will die before he can get any help and he does not want any help. He is at the point of absolute anger and denial...

My Illusion of Control 3/26

Control is a strange thing. When I control things and things go my way, I tend to feel good, secure and well... in control. But when things don't go my way I tend to try to control them even more! Now that I am sober it seems that the amount of control that I try to impose seems to also be proportional to my level of fear! Fear of... Well, that's the thing, sometimes I don't know what...

I have been reading tons lately, and found some really interesting and supportive information. I also noticed that many people out there are not so keen on the AA program, and that is OK. I wasn't either in the beginning! So, I was reading the reasons why people felt AA couldn’t work for them, and I started questioning if AA was right for me! (What?!) This seemed rather silly since AA has been a part of my life for so many years now, yet my brain entertained the idea…

I wrote this up yesterday when I was in the midst of myself made drama. I didn't post it because well, I forgot. But his morning on the way to work I thought about it again. This is what I wrote yesterday: So I need to write about this cause it is bothering me. I already talked to my sponsor and she told me to breathe and ask my higher power for strength and protection. But this is still bothering me...

I went one of my favorite meetings the other day. It was a beginners meeting. I love beginners meetings because I never want to forget what it felt like in the beginning. I had the pleasure of talking to a woman who has just relapsed after almost 2 years of sobriety. She was in great pain and was quite confused as to how and why the relapse happened. She said she had a hard time quitting again - "This thing is huge, it is way bigger than me!"...

I have been outing myself more and more. I hope I am not going against the AA traditions, but I am feeling like what is the point of being in recovery if no one knows and I can't share it and hopefully help someone else. So here and there I have just been disclosing more about being sober and my recovery. In talking to few people, I have realized that I tend to be more bothered by being the one not drinking than the people around me...

I have been thinking a lot about the many guiding powers in my life that helped me achieve and keep sobriety. I am so very grateful that I landed in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, where I didn't just clean the past, and learn how to live life, but where I met people that just wouldn't give up on me no matter what! SO, I think it is time for me to give back, and among the few things that I have in mind, I have also decided to start a new blog that is more focused towards others, rather than me - a place where people can find all kinds of helpful information, and inspiration that would optimistically encourage them to get sober...

I had a privilege this week to be a part of a group of volunteers that brings AA meetings to the local detox center where I live. It was an amazing experience and it brought out many memories of my own visits to detox, although I have never been to this one. As people introduced themselves around the room, there were quite a few visitors who have been there previously and who have been struggling with alcoholism or addiction for years. This was not like any meetings that I am used too. These people were in the first few days of getting off whatever they were on and still in the daze. What could I possibly say that would help them get sober?...

In early sobriety it was absolutely excruciating to ask for help. I mean, me ask for help? Never! But I had to learn to do it, it was either that or keep drinking, and the drinking gig was up for sure. And I needed help to get sober, I just couldn't do it by myself! So I learned, I started asking for help and found that there was plenty of people willing to help me! It was amazing. I didn't feel alone and I was able to learn how to deal with some tricky situations and go through some tough times and sober!...

In my last post The Little Miracles I talked about sharing - or whining more like it - at a meeting about some of my family members going on a skiing trip and me not being invited. The other part if that story was that they will all be gone over the Thanksgiving holiday and this will be the first year EVER that I will not be spending the holiday with my family of origin. I have known this for about a month now and of course the closer the holiday is, the more upset I have become. Ugh. I feel like my family just doesn't care about me and I am all alone...

Oh, what can be said about the wonderful holiday season!? It's stressful. It's demanding, it's exhausting. It sure can be a challenge in sobriety! But it is nothing comparing to the way I used to spend my holiday season... stressed out and drunk. Ugh. This year especially, I seem to have many memory bubbles of the Christmas past. It's not a bad thing necessarily, they just remind me of how far I have come in my journey. Wow, was that really me?...

December 20, 2013

Holiday Season Sober

Oh, what can be said about the wonderful holiday season!? It's stressful. It's demanding, it's exhausting. It sure can be a challenge in sobriety! But it is nothing comparing to the way I used to spend my holiday season... stressed out and drunk. Ugh.

This year especially, I seem to have many memory bubbles of the Christmas past. It's not a bad thing necessarily, they just remind me of how far I have come in my journey. Wow, was that really me? It's hard to believe it all when I look back and I totally see the craziness of my addiction; my actions that used to make sense to me, now seem so crazy! I was so completely a consumed by the drink, and nothing else seemed to have mattered.

I have that great memory of spending Christmas day at the local bar, after telling my family that I was severely sick and just couldn't make it out of bed. I remember the bar wasn't very full, there were also some other stragglers, or people also trying to ignore their family.

There was the one Christmas that I got drunk and was in a blackout for most of the day. I don't remember much, just waking up really early the next morning, riddled with shame, and running out the door before anyone got up. No one ever talked about that incident.

And there was that one Christmas that I took a bus to my parents’ house, because I gave away my license for a year when I chose to drive drunk. This might have been a perfect time to stay home and get drunk, but determined to keep up appearances as if everything was just ok, and this was just a minor incident, I found a way to get to their house, some 45 miles away. That’s right! And then I got drunk.

Oh... and there are more, but I don't want to waste any more of the space here with those memories. 

Today I have new memories. Sobriety gave me new life and and a new perspective. It gave me holidays spent with family, laughing and hugging. It has made me focuse on the important things in life, like my kids and my husband. Even giving presents has become a new richual; no onager focused on the appearances, I am free to chose gifts that really matter. And as I sit here, in front of our Christmas tree I am even more grateful for the gifts of sobriety. Who knew all this was possible? Certainly not me. 

So if your struggling a bit this season, I hope that you give sobriety a good chance. It can at times be a difficult journey, especially during the holidays, but let me tell you, hold on and keep sober! Your life will change in amazing ways, and you will not be able to recognize the wonderful person that you have become! You will find happiness in simple things, and you will no longer have to carry shame and guilt of the past. You will find the confidence and humility in living an honest life. You will have new relationships that you will cherish forever. You will laugh more and actually feel happy! You will finally become the person that you were always ment to be! 

Yes, all this is possible sober! 

December 1, 2013

Life, Death and Sobriety

There are so many things running through my head today. My husband and I are on a 3 hour drive to visit a friend whose husband died unexpectedly last Tuesday.

We knew them both from the rooms of AA. They got sober together and I met them through my husband when we were dating. They came in the same year I did and they have been a part of our sober family since. They got married in sobriety and had a baby girl who is now 3. Unfortunately they seperated last year and things seemed to be falling apart,  but they were working it out. Now he is gone. The end. Hard to believe. Sooo hard to believe. I wish I could do something to help our friend through this difficult time. I went to the store and got flowers, and a teddy bear for the little one and a pie, and I had this overwhelming feeling... Helplessness.

Yesterday was my step mom's two year anniversary since she has passed. It was extra difficult to hold the tears back. My daughter and I went to the grave site and put a little Xmas tree up. When we were done, I just stood there, I couldn't get myself to leave. She was my step mom for 32 years. She was my mom. I miss my mommy.

So today I am trying to keep the attitude of gratitude. It's hard. I am sad. I am angry. I am anxious. I am sober.

I am sober!!!

And if I wasn't sober I would not be on this trip right now, I wouldn't have a great sober family, I wouldn't be able to be of service to my friend. Instead I would be getting drunk and feeling sorry for myself, unable to be there for anyone. I wouldn't be able to be present and take life as it is. Then I would be filled with shame and guilt for not doing anything.

Today I know that life is not always peaches and cream, there are rough patches, there are stumbling blocks, there is death. There is also life. Precious life. Sober life! Life that needs to be cherished and enjoyed!

November 25, 2013

I Am Not Alone

In my last post The Little Miracles I talked about sharing - or whining more like it - at a meeting about some of my family members going on a skiing trip and me not being invited. The other part if that story was that they will all be gone over the Thanksgiving holiday and this will be the first year EVER that I will not be spending the holiday with my family of origin. I have known this for about a month now and of course the closer the holiday is, the more upset I have become. Ugh. I feel like my family just doesn't care about me and I am all alone.

I also feel extra emotional about this because since my mom passed two years ago, we have seen each other even less; it seems that she was the glue that held us together. Thanksgiving was also the last holiday we spent with her - it was quite difficult as she was no longer able speak or move on her own. It was a very hard day to get thru and last year it was a very hard day to get thru without her.
But now that I have been sober for a while, I often feel that since I am sober we should be a “real” family! I feel like maybe I could be the glue that keeps us together, especially being the only woman left. maybe my house could be the house everyone gathers at! Unfortunately, I just keep forgetting that I can't just change my relationship with my family because I have changed! I spent many years avoiding them because I was too busy drinking. I was never there for them at all, and I do still feel somewhat guilty about that. So I really think that I am having unreasonable expectations about our relationship, that's for sure.

So all this has been swirling in my head for the last month, and since it appears that I have misplaced my gratitude, the Month of Gratitude has certainly helped! You see, nothing has actually changed in my family dynamic, we have always been sort of aloof. But once again I am looking for something out there instead of focusing on things right here in front of me! And I have seemed to have forgotten that I have a family of my own - husband and three kids and really awesome in-laws. These are the important relationships that need to be nurtured and appreciated! And my family of origins is still there, and they do support me and are proud of me, I do know that. But they have their lives and that's ok. I am not alone, not in the least bit!

The world doesn't change because I got sober.
But I change the way I view the world!

November is the month of gratitude!

As I mentioned in the Month of Gratitude post, here is my list for the past week:

Day 19: I am grateful for my awesome husband.
Day 20: I am grateful for my dear friend Mary who has been keeping me sane this week! 
Day 21: I am grateful for coworkers who make my work day less stressful.
Day 22: I am grateful for Facebook - it's an amazing way to stay connected with my sober network.
Day 23: I am grateful for a reminder of how my life used to be, it sure brings things in perspective.
Day 24: I am grateful for yummy dinner at the in-laws.

What are you grateful for?

November 24, 2013

The Little Miracles

Yesterday was one of those amazing days...

I went to, my now favorite, meeting at the shelter. A little old lady with many bags, pushed herself through the door about half way through the meeting. She asked if she was too late and could she come in. We welcomed her in! She sat down and asked if she could pray for us. The chairperson went to her and explained the rules of the meeting and told her that she could pray at the closing of the meeting. This all happened during my share, in which I was talking (whining more like it) about feeling left out from a family event because I don't drink and how I was jealous of that grand fun time that they were having skiing and partying in the low the Alps of Europe. - Blah blah blah, right? Not that I could have gone anyway!

So, the little lady prayed for us at the end. I couldn't hear her voice well, but what caught my ear was, "He looks after us and provides exactly what we need, exactly when we need it." Them as I was walking out, a friend stopped me and said, don't you see, he is looking out for you? You didn't get invited so you wouldn't be tempted to go and maybe end up drinking! - and wow... A light bulb moment! That's it! I mean even if financially I could, or I didn't have a family to take care of, that would have been the worst place to be for me - around all that drinking! Sheesh. I have no business being there at all!

I felt really amazed, because when I was drinking I was so blind. Blind to everything except for booze. I couldn't fathom this kid of a situation or see the beauty of it or feel the connections. I am not a strong believer in coincidences. I do believe that things happen for a reason. Today, my eyes and heart are clear and open and I can see things around me that I would have never imagined before, and which now fill my heart with joy and gratitude.

November is the month of gratitude!

As I mentioned in the Month of Gratitude post, here is my list for the past week:
Day 11: I am grateful for a fun filled, sober day spent with my 3 kids.
Day 12: I am grateful for the basic necessities of food, water and shelter. My heart goes out to the people of the Philippines.
Day 13: I am grateful to for this joke my 4 year old told me today: What does an elephant take on a vacation? His trunk! LOL!
Day 14: I am grateful for all the sober tools I have collected over the years.
Day 15: I am grateful for the awesome sober women in my life.
Day 16: I am grateful for Nana's help and love!
Day 17: I am grateful for meetings; it feels like being home!
Day 18: I am grateful for being able to see things as blessings and not as problems.

What are you grateful for?

November 10, 2013

AA Gratitude Breakfast

Today I had a great pleasure to be able to attend the yearly Gratitude Breakfast sponsored by the district area group of Alcoholics Anonymous. I have never gone before and let me tell you, it was astounding! I mean what else can be said about 600+ sober drunks in one room - laughing and hugging like we had no worries in the world? Breathe taking! Empowering, fulfilling, gratifying? I don't even have enough words to describe this accurately at all!

The most wonderful part of this huge meeting, was the sober countdown, starting with an elderly man with 46 years of sobriety all the way to a man on his day 1! Tears were flowing out of me like crazy... Tears of joy! It's truly amazing to see that we can stay sober for 46 years! But of course the most heartwarming was to see the newcomer on his day 1 - the most important day and the most important person in the room. You see, it's not the time that is the most difficult and most amazing, it is that very first step when one makes a decision to get sober. Making that first step can open doors to a whole new life! Yes, it may be a bit scary and overwhelming but if you are struggling with alcohol you already know that story, that life is quite predictable - taking a chance at sobriety can't possibly make it any worse! Wonderful; things happen in sobriety and with time you won't even believe how amazing YOUR life can truly be! 

So, I am filled with joy and gratitude. This breakfast with 600+ sober people really made me feel safe and at home; nowhere else I feel this way. I am so very grateful for all the people in the AA fellowship, they have saved my life!

November is the month of gratitude!

As I mentioned in my last post Month of Gratitude, here is my list for the past week:

Day 2: I am grateful for not sleeping this beautiful Saturday away because I am hungover.

Day: 3 - I am grateful to be able to spend fun time with my family instead of avoiding them.

Day 4: I am grateful for all the people in my sober network who help me along on my sober journey every single day.

Day 5: I am grateful for being able to cuddle on the couch with my son tonight.

Day 6: I am grateful for the awesome people in the sober blogosphere.

Day 7: I am grateful for having the courage today to speak up for myself.

Day 8: I am grateful for my day off, by myself, for myself and sober.

Day 9: I am grateful for my family and friends who made date night possible.

Day 10: I am grateful for an amazing sober birthday spent with some amazing sober people.

What are you grateful for?

November 1, 2013

Month of Gratitude

I have been going thru some shtuff and I am grasping at things out there to make me happy; I am looking for more, for better, for greater! Spinning my wheels and going nowhere!

Sometimes I wonder where that comes from, I have everything I need! I have a great family and a good job and a car and a house, all things that I never had until I got sober! How amazing is that! But I go through these times when I feel like me and all that, is just not enough. Others are better and have more! All I can figure is that this is ego driven. My ego thinks I should be more and have more and strive for more! And that same ego, I know, will lead me to a drink.

So I have been talking and listening to my amazing AA family and I have been going to a meeting held at the local shelter. It's a sobering reminder of where I was before I got sober, well I didn't live in a shelter but I sure was close to being homeless. But the people there are always friendly. I tend to try to do some small talk with them, which I am not good at, but in hopes to give some support and show care and hope, I make myself do it anyways. And guess what? It fills my heart with joy, because I am learning way more from them than they are probably learning from me.

And here is the key I have figured out: it really is all in the perspective and it is all within us. I found that people at the shelter can still be hopeful and joyous. They still keep their heads up and look to the future with positive eyes. And here I am whining about things I don't have! Blah blah blah...

I am truly learning. Life has become good in sobriety and sometimes I forget where I came from. I start taking things for granted and forget the gratitudes. So my friend told me that November is the month of gratitude, which is something people do on Facebook; once a day they post what they are grateful for. This is some perfect timing for me and I am going to do it!

I'd like to also post here. Once a week I will post my list for the past seven days. I would love to hear from you too, we can keep inspiring each other! I am going to start today with what no doubt, I am the most grateful for:

November 1: I am grateful for my sobriety!

What are you grateful for today?

October 20, 2013

Asking for Help Sober

In early sobriety it was absolutely excruciating to ask for help. I mean, me ask for help? Never! But I had to learn to do it, it was either that or keep drinking, and the drinking gig was up for sure. And I needed help to get sober, I just couldn't do it by myself! So I learned, I started asking for help and found that there was plenty of people willing to help me! It was amazing. I didn't feel alone and I was able to learn how to deal with some tricky situations and go through some tough times and sober!

Now, five years into sobriety I find asking for help absolutely excruciating again! I mean after five years I should be able to deal with about everything, right!? Ohh.... My ego is talking... It has had me suffering in silence just so that my disease can start creeping up on me. I've had the fuck its again and the constant bowling ball in my belly and the unbelievable urge to run! Run away from it all! And well... Get drunk. This. Scares. Me.

So I finally asked for help! I shared at a meeting about my struggles with a work situation that I have been trying to deal with for a few weeks now. It has set me in total fear mode and made my head fill with crap... The old crap - I don't know how to do this therefore I am not good at this and I will most likely fail. And then I will be a failure! The truth is that I have too much on my plate and I am trying to do several jobs for the now empty positions and I am overwhelmed and exhausted. This is beyond my means and I know it. No matter how hard I will try, I cannot do all of this.

But by sharing my struggles I found that several people at the meeting have experienced this at some point in their lives and have gotten thru it! Ahh... That alone is a great relief! I am not alone and I am not unique. They gave me some really awesome advice on how to slow myself down, break the tasks into smaller pieces and just do what's in front of me. I was also reminded the the world will not blow up if I make a mistake, if I don't get it all done and if I am not the best in all the tasks! Wheeew! That was good to hear because for some reason I really get in my head and I just get so petrified that the world will just blow up! LOL! 

And most off all I was reminded to stay connected to the fellowship especially if I get too overwhelmed and get the fuck its and wanna get drunk. This is really the most important. Staying sober is the most important, way more important than any job and even the world blowing up! If I drink everything is out! If I stay sober, I will get thru this and gain some new insight and strength that I am sure will be needed another time in my life. 

I am so grateful for my friends in AA and the fellowship! Nowhere else I am able to get this amazing support and real life tools to help me get thru the thought times! 

October 9, 2013

Invite to a Winery

So it finally happened, our normie friends invited us to a drinking event! I got this lovely email the other day, here is a piece of it:

"We are planning an outing at the Winery in the country this Saturday with the kids. It is beautiful there – beautiful scenery/outdoor area where you can ample or buys local wine and cheese. People bring lawn chairs, blankets, picnic dinners, and hang out and drink lots of wine of course!"

Oh I think my heart skipped a beat for a bit as I read it! Sounds like so much fun, we should go, they are bringing their kids, and it's a picnic... never mind the Winery part. That's ok, I mean how bad can it be, its not like going to a concert, or something, right!? And then a bowling ball fell in my stomach. Confusion... Any wine event used to be the place to be for me, at least in the early days before I settled to drinking out of a 3 liter box.

In my mind I have already created and elaborate party, amidst the Winery fields and people dancing and drinking and having fun! Sort of something like straight out of the 18th century. Big dresses and wigs and all! And wine flowing like water! LOL! Well, I sure live in some dream land sometimes! Lol! But reality is... I have to be honest with myself and a winery is not a safe place for me!

So now what? I guess I could say, thank you, but we are busy or I could say the truth. And I don't want to get another invitation like this. I guess it is time to tell them!

I talked to several people in recovery to get some ideas on how to say it all. Then I wrote a short reply. I thank them for thinking of us and inviting us to the even. Then I explained that my husband and I are in recovery and the winery would not be a safe place for us to be. I also mentioned that we would love for them to come over for a cookout sometime. I figured that way they would know that it had nothing to do with them, we just can't be around lots of drinking.

I felt really good about the email, though a bit nervous when few days went by and they didn't reply. But finally they did and said that they would love to come over for a cookout! Wheeew.

This wasn't as easy as I though it would be. I though I was totally ready to just let the world know that I am sober. And at many times I am, especially when I am in a situation like someone tries to hand me a drink or asks me to happy hour. But maybe this was different. I like these people and there was a small part of me thinking that I might lose their friendship. But I suppose if they had an issue with us being sober than the friendship wasn't worth it anyway.

My sobriety has to come first!

October 1, 2013

Sudden Change and Growth

What can I say about change! I want to be open to it when it happens; I want be able to see the opportunity and I don’t want to see the heartache that it may cause me.

I was thinking today about changes and how I react to them. Sometimes I am able to just say oh well, I will get used to it, and sometimes I am just in the NO and get stuck there! For instance the new iOS 7 for iPad come down, I excitingly downloaded it because well, I love new and improved things! BUT it turns out that it is quite a change and half of my apps are not working as they should anymore. What do I do? Well I get to the desktop computer where things are still as they were and get done what I need.
Now for my second example I would like to tell you what happened to me at work today. I was offered a new position (!), sort of a lateral move, no pay increase was mentioned, but my boss tried to pep me up with how great I would be in this new position. And as I was staring straight at her and trying to ingest this, this stuff I was hearing, my insides were screaming out! NOOOO! Why no? Because it was managing the software support department! I hate support – customer support, software support, any support!! Why? Because people who need support tend to be not so nice, ok they tend to big f....n a—holes! I get it, they are frustrated and things may not be working as they should but damn it! Haven’t any one heard of catching more bees with honey! OH MAN. I don’t want to do this! I just don't have the mental capacity for this job - I have done it before! I don't want to do it ever again!

This all came strangely enough right after I published a post on my new blog called “You Can ChangeYour Path” and of course now as I am sitting here, and thinking, this is much easier said than done sometimes. As it also happens that I read a great blog post over at Sober Identity ~ Reprogramming an Addictive Mind called A Confused Mind Says No - AND I think that I have a confused mind right now!
Nonetheless, I have learned in sobriety, that I don’t have to make decisions right away, I can take some time, I can sleep on it and hopefully when I wake up, I might not be screaming NO, I might just be whispering – I don’t wanna… But in this instance I had no time, the current manager of the support department, was leaving, and today, sort of unexpected! So here I am, my guts are screaming and I am about to burst and I want to run – or just burst! But instead… I actually spoke up! As best as I could, I explained why I did not want this position. I was asked if I could at least do it temporarily. I offered to help out for 2 weeks and report back with my final decision. My boss said OK.
WOW. I feel so grown up! LOL! Like a real adult, like I chose a path, like I made a decision for me, like I didn’t let someone run over me, like didn’t just say yes in fear of saying no! Like I didn’t just “people please!”
…but I still don’t want this change.
What will happen? I don’t know. I am going to sleep on it… and keep sober J

September 24, 2013

Meeting at the Detox

I had a privilege this week to be a part of a group of volunteers that brings AA meetings to the local detox center where I live. It was an amazing experience and it brought out many memories of my own visits to detox, although I have never been to this one. As people introduced themselves around the room, there were quite a few visitors who have been there previously and who have been struggling with alcoholism or addiction for years. This was not like any meetings that I am used too. These people were in the first few days of getting off whatever they were on and still in the daze. What could I possibly say that would help them get sober?

I tried to remember how it felt when I was in detox and what came to mind was the "jumping-off" place, the place where you can't stand drinking any more yet, at the same time, you can't imagine your life sober. I was stuck in that place for a long, long time. And I remember at some point reading this passage and being filled with sudden hope for my future.

This is from Chapter 11, A Vision For You, page 152 in the AA Big Book.
Now and then a serious drinker, being dry at the moment says, “I don’t miss it at all. Feel better. Work better. Having a better time.” As ex-problem drinkers, we smile at such a sally. We know our friend is like a boy whistling in the dark to keep up his spirits. He fools himself. Inwardly he would give anything to take half a dozen drinks and get away with them. He will presently try the old game again, for he isn’t happy about his sobriety. He cannot picture life without alcohol. Some day he will be unable to imagine life either with alcohol or without it. Then he will know loneliness such as few do. He will be at the jumping-off place. He will wish for the end.
We have shown how we got out from under. You say, “Yes, I’m willing. But am I to be consigned to a life where I shall be stupid, boring and glum, like some righteous people I see? I know I must get along without liquor, but how can I? Have you a sufficient substitute?”
Yes, there is a substitute and it is vastly more than that. It is a fellowship in Alcoholics Anonymous. There you will find release from care, boredom and worry. Your imagination will be fired. Life will mean something at last. The most satisfactory years of your existence lie ahead. Thus we find the fellowship, and so will you.
“How is that to come about?” you ask. “Where am I to find these people?” You are going to meet these new friends in your own community. 
I love this passage! I sure wish that it was placed earlier in the book because this to me is so powerful and depicts the state of the "jumping-off place exactly how I felt. But reading this gave me hope, because it said that there is a substitute - there is a solution - the fellowship of AA, and right in my own community! And that was so true, these "new friends" gave me hope and strength to finally, after many years of struggling, to finally get sober!

To find meeting in your area please visit the Alcoholics Anonymous website: How to find AA meetings. 

September 14, 2013

Everything Changes Sober

"XXXIII. Forever grateful." That was my sponsors Facebook status this morning!

Is that freaking amazing!!!?? 33 years sober! If you ask her how she does it, she will still say one day at a time. Wow, that's many days. She is a wonderful woman who has always been there for me and has been a crucial part of my recovery! I am so grateful for her!

I remember in my early days in the rooms hearing someone having 20 years and me thinking, really, why!? how!? Then later the thought changed to ok, maybe 10th years but 20? - you should be cured by then I think. Then again the thought changed to wow, that is incredible, how did they do it? And now, I feel like wow, that's very cool, that could be me!

So all this got me thinking how things continuously change. My thoughts are so different than they were even a year ago! Things that seemed like catastrophes at the time, today seem like just some rough times that I got through and experienced huge growth.

I know in early sobriety I had many nevers and always type thoughts, I will never get sober for good, I will never be happy, I will never get married or have kids, I will never have a family, and I will always be a drunk, I will always be alone, I will always have a crappy life.

Things that I thought were unattainable at some point, well, it seems that they are right in front of me and i believe that it has all happened only because I am sober!

September 9, 2013

Normie Friends Update

I wrote back in April about our new Normie friends, and how excited I was to make friends beyond our 12 step circle. You can read about it HERE.

You have to understand a bit of our (me and my husband's) backgrounds to really appreciate this strange excitement about making Normie friends! We both had such a hard time getting sober that we have been totally immersed in the AA fellowship - way beyond meetings! We have gone to all the special events, dances, picnics, celebrations, bonfires, countdowns, sober-thons and conventions! Not to mention that we met in AA! So basically all the people that we socialize with are in the program, or sober. So, really, having friends outside of that circle is like stepping into the wild unknown! LOL!

Well, things could not be better with our new friends! We have seen each other a lot lately, our kids have been hanging out at the pool together and taking turns coming over for play dates. We have many things in common, our daughters were both born in September, our husbands have the same first name, which at times can be quite confusing (LOL), and both of us moms are not native to the USA. Last weekend they even invited us over for a cookout! Things are just grand!

My husband and I decided that we were going to tell them that we were in recovery, just to make sure of course that they were not going to push a drink our way. As we entered the backyard area, the husband offered my husband a beer, to which he plainly said - No thank you, and I added - We don’t drink! - you know just in case, but the conversation quickly went to the list of all other beverages they had to offer. Huh!? No pushing it on us, not trying to convince us to have one? Cool!

Then we sat around the kitchen table after chatting up in the backyard. I looked around the area and noticed that they had a lot of alcohol around their house - well they had a “standard” liquor cabinet, a full wine rack, and a random bottle of vodka on the kitchen counter - for cooking? Hmmm. Of course I always notice these things! LOL! All that really got me thinking… Is that a lot? Maybe they are alcoholics? Oh shoot, and they are not in recovery so that’s a bad place for us to be. But maybe that’s not really a lot, maybe that is how much Normies ordinarily have? Then out of the blue, I had that moment, oh, they are party people? Then, I actually imagined that if we were drinking all together, we would be having so much fun! OMG. Are you kidding me!? Did my mind really go there? Sheesh! I know the ending to that story, and I am not going there!

Anyway, back to those alcohol amounts! After pondering for a while if that was normal, it hit me like a lightning bolt! I never had alcohol around my house in those amounts! WHY? Because it never stood the chance to sit on my shelves, or in the wine rack or in the liquor cabinet, - kitchen counter? - hell no!! If it was there I drank it! Yep, I drank it! I had to buy alcohol every day, I didn’t collect alcohol – if someone brought me a bottle of wine as a gift I drank it that night!

So there you go, I am still an alcoholic, I still have some odd thoughts that I know separate me from the Normie -- contrary to my thinking, there was no crazy party, and no one got drunk! We all had iced tea and grilled chicken, and we carried on and laughed like old buddies. So once again, I am reminded that yes, when it comes to alcohol, I am different! But I am glad that I can now laugh about it all, and be OK with it, because there was a time when I though that I was never going to have any friends in sobriety!

September 2, 2013

Weekend With Family Sober

My family has descended on our house this weekend. This was not planned at all, as matter of fact we had a low key weekend planned with just few activities so that the kids would be rested and ready for the first day of school. But instead my family come over on Saturday and my husband's family on Sunday. I am absolutely exhausted, my back burst and I am still trying to get the house back in order!  - but, enough whining. :)

I was actually thinking how different these times are now. First of all, when I was drinking, no one was allowed to just show up at my house, uninvited and without calling way in advance. I mean, I had to do lots of prep work, clean the house, get rid of the empties, and get my self semi-sober so I could function and pretend that everything was perfect. Than I would buy a bunch food from the fancy gourmet store,because that would give that appearance that I had money! (of course I didn't, but there was always a credit card in my pocket!) And then there was the trip to the "beverage" store!

Yes, I spared no expenses to keep up the appearances. LOL! And I did it all this by myself; I was the hostess, the bartender and the chef all in one! I would also stress out about it all, to the max, actually I couldn't even sleep at night and drank way more just to "cope." I had to be perfect, the house had to be perfect and the "party" had to be perfect. This had to be the event that everyone talked about for days!

Of course all that was just a facade. This was not the real me or anything about me or my life. I was a mess and my life was a mess but I was definitely not gonna let any of my family members know. So ultimately, I didn't have many gatherings with my family. :/

This weekend was an absolute opposite! People showed up, people left. We made food when we were hungry and snacked on things I had in my pantry. There was no alcohol served! - it never is in my house anymore, and I think I am going to keep it that way. We drank lots of ice tea and coffee, and we grilled up a storm. Kids laughter and adult chatter filled the air. The house was semi-clean, then messy, than really messy, then cleaned and then... messy again! It felt like home! Our home! It felt like I always imagined my home to be!

This is sobriety in action for me. I remember when people were telling me this is how it was going to be when I go sober and I didn't believe them. But it is happening, right now, and right before my eyes. This is once again, another awesome example of why I continue my sober life!

I have a new blog on WordPress called Sober Courage - check it out!

August 29, 2013

AA Step Ten - Continued to Take Personal Inventory

AA Step Ten - Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, Step Ten  
I learned a whole lot more about the effects of my drinking on the people around me and my relationships with them while making my amends in Step Nine - AA Step Nine - Made Direct Amends. Now I get to keep my house clean by doing the daily inventory in Step 10.
I have pulled out few lines from the Twelve Steps and Twelve traditions that really resonated with me. Interesting enough this step is not just about admitting that you are wrong, but a whole lot more that is crucial to our growth as human beings.
Can we stay sober and keep emotional balance under all conditions? -  Forward of the Twelve Steps and twelve Traditions.
Wow, what a question. That seemed unattainable for me in my early sobriety, I mean some catastrophic event - I would think that would make it OK for me to drink, right? Then, in my third sober year, my mom lost her battle with breast cancer and for the last few months of her life I somehow found the courage to stay sober, - you can read more about it: Tulips For MyMom. During that time, I truly realized that there is nothing in this whole wide world that drinking would ever make feel better, in fact, because alcohol is a depressant, it makes things even worse. Instead I was able to walk through this time with clear and open heart and be of service to my mom and my family. The key for me was to stay diligent in my program, close to my Higher Power and connected with other alcoholics! 
It is a spiritual axiom that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us. - Twelve Steps and twelve Traditions,Step Ten, pg. 90.

From Google Images
I didn’t like that statement the first time I read it! Really? Something wrong with me? Not you, not them, not the world, ME? But this is true, and the best example is when I take things personally; for instance when my brother decided to visit a friend for Thanksgiving instead of spending it with us, and I got very upset at him, and wallowed for days about how I have no family and no one loves me – was that the truth? NO, my feelings had to do with the abandonment issues that I suffered through my turbulent childhood, nothing to do with my brother being invited to go skinning in Europe over the Thanksgiving school break. As soon as I recognized what I was really feeling, I was able to let it go and be happy for my brother.

This has become an amazing tool for being in tune with my own self and my behavior. Sometimes my behavior may be based on something very simple, like HALT - hungry, angry, lonely, and tired. Sometimes it may be bigger like something reminding me of my childhood, or a way someone treated me. It may also stem from the fact that I am not in acceptance of myself therefore I have a hard time excepting others. Here I need to do the personal inventory; was I unkind? Was I jealousy, angry or resentful? Did I have predetermined opinion? Was I judgmental, or in self-pity? And when I was wrong I need to promptly admit it. Of course like with any inventory we must be sure not to indulge in "pride in reverse" - from Step 4 - where instead of taking an honest look at our wrongs and where we can improve, we use the inventory to indulge in a pity party.
We not be discouraged when we fall into the error of our old ways, for these disciplines are not easy. We shall look for progress, not perfection. - TwelveSteps and twelve Traditions, Step Ten, pg. 92.
Yes! Progress not perfection! Thank god because I can't do perfection, I mean I try, I think I am a perfectionist for sure, but that doesn't mean that I don't make mistakes, most likely it means that I probably make even more mistakes! Lol! So progress not perfection, sounds good, it lets me feel like it's is a moving force that is never still but continuously allowing me to grow and change.
An honest regret for harms done, a genuine gratitude for blessings received, and a willingness to try for better things tomorrow will be the permanent assets we shall seek. - Twelve Steps and twelve Traditions, Step Ten, pg. 95.
And the above is definitely my favorite line! That's exactly what this step is about! I love it. I get up in the morning and I feel inspired! That is all I need to do every day!

August 25, 2013

The Answers Will Come

My daughter spent a lot time with her dad last week, she didn't want to go to another camp and since school doesn't start for another two weeks and her dad was available, she spent the days with him. Last night at dinner she sort of unloaded. I wasn't expecting it, of course, and I didn't know how to react so we just listen and try to comfort her.

She told us that her dad drank alcohol during the day and smoked many cigarettes and was agitated when she told him he shouldn't do those things so much and told her that he was an adult and he could do whatever he wanted.

Now, her dad and I were drinking buddies, I mean more than that, but really that's all we had in common. It always seemed to me that he drank more than me, and I could never keep up with him.While  most of the time I got drunk he never appeared to be drunk! Yet, he drank through out the entire day and every day. At the custody case I was declared an alcoholic, he was not. I went to rehab, he did not. I could never figure out why I couldn't drink like him. Lol. Anyway, it doesn't matter, because I am sober now and he is still... well, exactly the same.

My daughter knows that I am allergic to alcohol - that's how I explained it to her. And I have told her that not all people are allergic. And some people drink and it's OK. But to hear her describe how she saw her dad drink, and I am not going to go into details here, but it definitely sounded bad. She said his mood changed and he ended up falling asleep on the couch.

Hearing all this was absolutely heart breaking. I don't even have words to put together. I am scared. I am mad, I am so sorry that she has to deal with this. You see, she knows what drunk is, she remembers my last drunk! UGH.

So after talking, she asked if I could talk to him. Well, shoot, I wanted to F****n wring his damn neck. I wanted to throw all the shit he ever threw at me for being an alcoholic and damaging our daughter right back at him! I wanted to make him feel as small as he made me feel every time he pulled out the You're the alcoholic, not me! I wanted to .... Oh the list could go on and on. I felt so damn angry!

But I sat on it. I waited. I gathered my feelings. Then I called him - I think my HP was looking out for me because I felt like this call, no matter what and how I said it, would start world war three - but he didn't pick up. I left a message. I told him what she said and told him that he needs to be more considered and curb his behavior when she was with him. He called back and left a message saying that... He was an adult. 

F***k! I don't give a damn if he is an adult or not, he needs to be a parent! So crazy, yet I know that if I was still drinking I would  have probably said the same thing! Oh man, I though his drinking was way down. I guess he has been hiding it well and since our drop offs and pick ups are at school, I don't get to actually see him often. 

This is not right. I know that. But I don't know what to do next. She is supposed to stay with him next week again. I am scared. What I want to do is not let her go over there, EVER AGAIN, but we have joint physical custody and he has the legal custody. Anyway, it appears that the tables are turning. I need to make a plan. I need to talk to my sponsor, I need to talk to my sober mom friends. I need to talk to a lawyer? I know I need to do something for sure! I just don't  know what that is yet. But OMG, thank god I am SOBER! That alone gives me strength!

And... I will ask my Higher Power for guidance... I know that the answers will come!

ps. I have a new blog on WordPress called Sober Courage - check it out!

August 22, 2013

I Am Branching Out

I have been thinking a lot about the many guiding powers in my life that helped me achieve and keep sobriety. I am so very grateful that I landed in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, where I didn't just clean the past, and learn how to live life, but where I met people that just wouldn't give up on me no matter what! SO, I think it is time for me to give back, and among the few things that I have in mind, I have also decided to start a new blog that is more focused towards others, rather than me - a place where people can find all kinds of helpful information, and inspiration that would optimistically encourage them to get sober!

From: Google Images
There is also another reason for my new blog. I have been struggling with the anonymity part of AA, in the sense that although I do believe that it is a very important part of the fellowship and it was the reason I felt safe as a newcomer, I also feel that it has served me it's purpose and I no longer need the anonymity. That is not to say that I am no longer going to be a member of AA - I will continue and I will stay within the anonymity there - but to say that I don’t want to infringe on the traditions that are the core of the fellowship. It just seems that where I am in my sobriety doesn't seem to go well with the anonymity anymore. I am who I am!

I believe that anonymity can be helpful especially to the newcomers, because of the overwhelming stigma that is still associated with alcoholism and other addictions; but this is not a morality issue, this is not a choice of weakness or lack of self-control. No one ever wished to be an alcoholic when they grew up! This is a powerful disease, and I think it is time that these stigmas are broken! Getting sober should be an amazing decision to make for anyone, instead of a shameful one. And admitting that you have a problem and need help should empower people, not make them feel worthless. Sobriety should be celebrated, not kept like a dark secret!

So, saying all this, I have started my new blog, it is called Sober Courage. I hope you stop by!

I am also looking for some guest bloggers, to write posts about how they found courage to get sober or how they are finding it right now. I want this blog to celebrate sobriety! I want it to be the inspiration for others to say YEAH, I CAN DO THIS!

Please let me know if you are interested to be a guest on the Sober Courage blog. You can email me directly at Thank you!

p.s I still enjoy my own ramblings (LOL!) so I think at least for now, I am going to keep this blog going too – well I hope I can, I am feeling a bit like I am over my head here, but I think that is just my ego talking! LOL!

August 19, 2013

The NOT AGAINs of Drinking

There is this saying in the rooms when people with high bottoms refer to the consequence from drinking that have not yet happened for them, but still could if they drink again - they call them the "not yets."

Last night at the meeting, the leader talked about her "not AGAINs." She talked about how the "not yets" are hard for her to measure. Since she doesn't know what they could be, they just don't seem real to her. But the "not agains" she knows very well; if she picks up, all the agains will happen... again!

She went on saying that again she would think she has it all under control, and she could just have a few, again she would end up drinking way more, again she would wake up with a horrendous hangover, again she would stumble to work, again she would be waiting anxiously to drink after 5pm, again she would get drunk with no intentions to do so, again she would be hangover, and on and on! Again she would have done something stupid, and again she would feel shame and guilt! And again she would have to crawl back to the rooms and again she would have to start over!
"Not again!" She exclaimed at the end.

I know I can't capture the power of her lead here, but I tell you, I was in tears! Seriously. I still have some "not yets" I am sure, although I had several serious consequences caused by my drinking (You can read about it in My Journey section). We all have not yets, and yes, they are hard to believe sometimes, because we tend to think that, well that can't/won't happen to me! But the "not agains," OMG, I know all of those! I've been there many times, it doesn't get better, it's just the same viscous cycle, over and over and over again, except each time it gets worse! It never gets better! I have never heard anyone say, oh "I went out and it was fabulous!" - and well if it was I suppose they wouldn't be back in the rooms, right?!

So on the flip side, I am going to end with this:
I am so very grateful to not have to drink again, and that I am feeling good this morning again, and that I never have to feel shame or guilt again, and that I am sober again!

Happy sober Monday AGAIN!

August 14, 2013

Bloom Where You're Planted Sober

Making the best of what is in front of me has not been my natural instinct. And being happy with what I have is not either. I am used to getting in the self pity mode and then envy takes over, and I am miserable and feel like I will never measure up to others. I can be a very harsh judge of my own self.

When I was drinking the envy that I felt, was just another reason to drink. As my friends were buying houses and getting great jobs, I was still "partying" and enjoying my "freedom." Comparing myself to others was constant and it kept my head occupied for days. At the same time, I actually did nothing to "get" those things that I though I should have. Somehow I just thought they should all just happen! There seemed to be a big difference between how I thought life happened when I was drinking, and how it really happen when I was drinking! I never thought it was my drinking that held me back or was the cause of my troubles. I just blamed others for not being where I should be in life or where I though I should be in life. I always thought it was my bad upbringing, or lack of money, or bad luck, or of course just being me.

After I got sober there was this period when I was trying to catch up to everyone else. Having had lost at least 15 years to alcoholic drinking I felt way behind. So I went back to school, got the good job, got married, bought a house, and had kids. Ahhh, finally I have arrived I thought! Strangely enough that remained me of the time when I was partying at the Plaza hotel in New York city and I totally felt like I have arrived - sort off the topic, but it was just an interesting observation about how life changes and things that used to be important change too! 

There is always going to be someone out there that has everything that I do not! I have realized that for me envy is caused by a dissatisfaction with my own perception of me; I, for some reason, feel inferior to the person I envy. Why do I feel inferior at all? I believe this is related to shame. Shame of being an alcoholic. And years of believing that I am nothing. But today I am a sober alcoholic, I live an honest life, and I have a good life. I have all that I need.

I am enough, I have enough, I do enough.

The longer I am sober the more comfortable I am with me and my life. I have no reason to envy others, not that I ever had a reason, really! And I realize today that I have been given a second chance at life, and that alone is worth more than any "perfection" out there. My life only has to be perfect to me :)

Sobriety ROCKS!

August 11, 2013

Dad's Birthday Party Sober

I know, I know, another post ____ Sober! LOL! But for real, there was a time that I didn't think I could do any of these things sober! So here is another...

Sto Lat - Hundred Years
a birthday wish in Polish
My dad's 75th birthday party! Wow! I don't know where the time goes. My dad is still very young in his spirit, as a matter of fact he is looking for a girlfriend, which feels weird to me because my mom has only passed away 2 years ago! So mind you, I got that sort of hanging in my head, thought I am trying to accept it and I know my dad is lonely, so it would be nice for him to have someone to spend the rest of his life with.

Anyway, my dad and I exchanged few phone calls before the party, and during one of them my dad asked if I was going to be OK, because everyone will be drinking and he knows that it can be difficult for me. Wow! This was a first! It felt really nice that he had asked and I told him that if I feel uncomfortable I will leave, and I thanked him for asking. It is so nice to be supported!

So today was the party, and twenty some people were coming and me in the kitchen... Ugh. Yes it felt quite overwhelming! Thank god my mom in-law was there to help me out! She is also sober and a great support, and we have loads of fun together! My husband and dad in-law were watching the kids, so that was very helpful too! But, I felt quite frantic trying to figure out how to get everything ready and I wondered how my mom ever did this all alone; she never let us help her, she always did everything by herself! It feels really weird to being her kitchen.

I miss my mom...

I took a deep breath before we started and once again reminded myself to be of service.

And so, here we were,  my mom in-law and me, trying to get this thing going, in a kitchen that neither of us knew well and with my dad who had very specific directions on how things should be, and apparently plastics or paper anything was not allowed! So we just kept saying OK to his requests! And the good china was dirty because it hasn't been used in a long time and so where the good glasses and the silverware and no time. UGH. But we worked it all out and before we knew it the table was set and the food looked great! I kind of laughed about it all, because sometimes I am still wondering why I am so anal about things myself... Lol!

Then there was the instance when my 14 month old fell down the stairs and busted his lip and I think, because I was already stressed, I completely freaked out! - I am going to spare the details, but the miracle here was that I quickly apologized about overreacting (AA Step Ten at work!) and every one hugged and made up and everything was OK! And most of all the baby was OK, although he has a big fat lip :( 

So, the wine, and the beer, and the champagne were flowing and I was waiting for people to start getting trashed - yes this is my dad's 75th bday party and I think people will be getting trashed like at some frat party! I am not sure why I always think that but this was definitely not a frat party! Lol! And the drinking actually was not bothering me, I think it was because I was just to busy to care. But, I did have a weird moment when I had to move a bottle of wine to make room for a plate of food on the table. I actually said out loud - Wow this feels weird, I haven't touched a bottle of wine in 5 years! - and I laughed, but no one else thought that was funny! Sheesh! LOL! 

So even in the midst of the crazy stress, and the baby getting hurt, and the booze flowing, all and all, a very successful party, I have to say! I am so very grateful for all the people that supported me, my husband and my in-laws and my dad! I don't think I would have be able to get thru this type of  event sober and happy without them! Thank you!

And lastly, we were sitting on the deck when a beautiful butterfly sat on a one of our guests hand. We were all standing there in complete wonder and strange silence. Butterflies are deep and powerful representations of life. They are a symbol of powerful transformations. Some people also believe that butterflies are the spirits of loved ones. Hmm... so. very. cool.

August 5, 2013

Using Recovery Tools Can Help with Parenting (Part 2)

Tough weekend on the parenting front! Ugh. We had two kids sick, and one hormonal, and guess which one was the hardest to deal with!? Yep, the hormonal, almost ten year old daughter. She tested us to the absolute limits, about anything and everything! I am beyond exhausted. I haven't felt this totally out of control and frustrated in a long time - how do I stop this!? Definitely not my best parenting moments – oh and wouldn't a shot of tequila just eh be so lovely about now! Ha Ha. This sounds familiar! LOL! I know it's just a thought, but I am kinda getting tired of it. It still seems to be my default setting, and my very first thought when I am at my wits end. Ugh. I really want to change that, I want to have a new thought. I want to have a new default setting! I read somewhere that it takes 21 days to develop a habit, so I am going to try to re-set mine. I am not sure to what yet, but it has to be quick and let some frustration out - and it can't be screaming for tequila, even if it is just in my head! Lol!

So the whole thing has left me rather blah, and since I don't like being blah, I am trying to come up with some of the positives about this weekend.

The biggest thing that I have realized was that there was definitely some surprising growth for me! I have found, again, that the same tools I have learned through the 12 Steps in AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) that I use to keep from drinking, I can also apply to keeping leveled through some tough situations. For instance, I repeated the serenity prayer quite often, I went to a meeting and shared about it. I called people in the program to get things off my chest. And I prayed, asking my Higher Power for strength and ability to make the right decisions - and to help me keep my ego right sized.

Then, when my daughter told me that she was very angry and felt like she was going to blow, I suggested to her few things (that I have learned in AA) that she might try to help her calm down. We talked about taking deep breaths, listening to music and reading a book. Also I suggested that we maybe call someone, like Nana. We did some breathing and listened to music and talked... lots of talking... Unfortunately all this worked just temporarily but I know we will have a chance to practice some more in the near future! Lol!

I also found myself repeating things to my daughter which I have learned in the program:
  • We are only in control of ourselves.
  • Do the next right thing.
  • Let it go.
  • Find acceptance.
  • This too shall pass.
Of course, these were the same things that I was trying to keep in mind as I struggled with her emotional outbursts loaded with tears and yelling and lots of eye rolling. Oh goodness, someone help me! Lol! I only hope I can find the patience for all of this, because I know in the old days this would have been a huge reason to get plowed and completely check out! But I don't have that "luxury" anymore - ha ha some luxury that was, sheesh! So today I want to learn a better way to deal with life's frustrations, because I know life is not always peaches and cream, but I can still get through it sober! 

A GOOD day is when everything goes my way and I don't drink,
A GREAT day is when nothing goes my way and I don't drink.