May 31, 2013

There Is Beer In the Fridge!

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 work in a small office, there is only 18 of us. My boss is a good lady who tries to make it a fun work environment; we have Wii game set and large screen TV, we get to wear jeans and have a pretty flexible schedule provided that your work is done on time. We are now in the crunch time for a mayor software release in two weeks. We have been working like mad, around the clock. The boss lady had decided to fill the office with snacks, candy and drinks. And beer! Yep beer. Now I wasn't a beer drinker, but I am an alcoholic, so it's all the same to me, no matter what container or type of liquid; if it has alcohol in it, it's game. (lol, ok there are a few exceptions!)
The Fridge
So today the mini fridge arrived, and everyone got really excited! Right? I would too, except... I don't drink. And, well I can't drink, and well I can but it makes me __________. Well you fill in the blank. Anyway. I know I've been sober for a while and you'd think this wouldn't bother me one bit, but I tell you, I have never just been able to be around alcohol for a long time; I get really squirmy, my head stars getting crazy.  Sure, it is in a fridge, in the kitchen, few offices down, it should not bother me right?
Well dag it, it does!! Ugh.
Yes, it's that feeling that I am missing all the fun. And wouldn't it be fun!? Work with a buzz, have the stress melt away. Laugh a little at nothing? Feel carefree? OMG. And no one would know! Oh but I told everyone... Dag. My head is swirling. Really, the damn obsession. I got so crazy in my head, I was ready to charge in my bosses office and tell her that I could not work under these conditions and that if I drank she would never see me again! Oh damn. I hate this.
Oh I hate this - cause now I am swirling in self-pity. Why me!? Well shit. Because.
I got nothing else. I guess like my sponsor said, I got to pull out the BIG tool box. Talk about it, pray about it, let it go. And stay out of the kitchen! -

Well I am doing ok today. I whined to my husband about it last night. Then I took my 4 year old for a walk around the block and things got settled in my head. I think this thinking that I have, about how I should not have these feelings at this point in my sobriety has to be smashed! And it is so easy to get wrapped up in my own selfishness, and make it all about me! Me, me, me! Lol! 

So I looked over the mini fridge again this morning, there is actually only one shelf filled with beer, the rest is sodas and water. Ugh. And I thought back and I couldn't remember seeing anyone drinking beer yesterday. How crazy that my mind made such drama of it all. It sure sounded like the entire office was filled with beer and everyone was partying!!! Right? Lol! Ugh.

So I am ok. I AM OK. I am grateful for the free sodas, popcorn, and candy! Yep!
Keep calm and carry on!

May 29, 2013

I Got to Sit On the Beach

Camping was awesome! But it was none stop going and not much of relax time - except when we took the kids to the beach. My husband stayed in the car with the baby because he fell asleep and I took the older two down to the water. It was cold, too cold to swim but the kids still splashed around and got pretty wet.

I sat on the beach and watched them.

Nothing to do.

Just sit.

I felt uncomfortable. I have to admit, I still don't know how to be when there is nothing to do. In the past, when there was nothing to do I just drank. It seems to be ingrained in me. Lol! I just don't know what do with myself. So weird. There were other people there from my camping trip, so I looked towards them in hopes of starting a conversation. We started a small talk of sorts... Then I said - This is so nice. Nothing to do. - they laughed. Then they all started exchanging stories of "When I was drinking ... " - and we laughed about how common our stories were. How doing nothing is so strangely difficult. It was quite amazing, that they felt the same way. This, I found comforting yet still weird. How come we are unable to enjoy the nothing? Hmmm... Maybe because it keeps us from being with ourselves. I sure didn't like myself when I was drinking! Ugh. But today, I no longer have those feelings, today I am ok in my own skin.

Finally the conversation ran its course and I looked out over the water. I decided that I was going to try to just be in the moment. I read this article not long ago, about how to be in the moment. I remembered this part of it:

"Listen to the world. The birds, the sounds of one car passing, the conversations of distant strangers, the cracks and creaks of the building as it heats and cools, the planes overhead, the footsteps of passers-by. The moment is all around you." - Live in the Moment -

I was able to do this for about 10 minutes... I think! It was really amazing. Very freeing. I felt like nothing mattered, just me sitting on the sand, the sound of my kids playing, the humming of the ocean, the whistle of the wind and the big puffy clouds in the sky.

Sandy Point, Virginia

May 23, 2013

Camping Sober

We are getting ready to go on our third camping trip since I got sober. I really love camping! But camping used to mean a three day drunk fest and coming back absolutely exhausted and then being hangover for days. The drinking from sunrise to sunset sure took a toll on the body and then the blackouts and passing out sure didn't help. OMG. I remember once going camping and telling myself to make sure that I pace my drinking because I didn't want to repeat the events of my last camping trip! - then, that ended up being my last camping trip. Not worth mentioning what happened. Ugh.

When I got sober, I thought, man I guess camping is out, how can you go camping without drinking? Who does that? I mean what do you do all day if you don't drink? Lol! Yep, I thought that!

Then I heard about the sober camping trip that was organized by my AA district group, I was absolutely ecstatic and scared at the same time! Will it be boring? What are we going to do? Will I know anybody? Plunging into new experiences sober can be quite overwhelming without the "trusty" courage in the bottle! Lol! But the idea of being around my kind of people was comforting, as well as reassuring that I will not be drinking. And that was good enough for me!

Our Mega Tent!
This year we are going along with a newcomer, mother of 2 and her husband who is not in the program - I always admire the spouses who are supportive; it's not easy to live or understand an alcoholic/addict - I got lucky, my husband is also in AA.

There are many thing to do camping, which BTW I would have never done on my drunk camping trips! During the day we can go kayaking, swimming or hiking, or just hang out the campsite. And being that this is an AA event there are several meetings a day and a huge night meeting, around the camp fire, that starts at 8pm and goes on till everyone is done sharing... Some 50+ people! Yep, all night long. So we still end up exhausted and dirty, but we do it all SOBER!

Events like this sure make me feel like I am not alone! I am not unique, I am not strange or an outcast, I am not the only one struggling or figuring out how to manage life sober! There is a huge part of WE in the fellowship of AA, and I am eternally grateful for that!

May 21, 2013

The Perpetual Happiness

I had an epiphany!

I have realized that I just want to be perpetually happy!

When I think about how hard I work at being happy, a certain cartoon from the 90's comes to mind. Ah - Yes - The Ren and Stimpy Show! This was a cartoon about a perpetually angry Chihuahua and a perpetually jolly cat. One day Stimpy, the cat, concerned with Ren's prolonged unhappiness, invented the "happy helmet" just for Ren. He put it on Ren's head and started turning up the dial. All of the sudden, Ren had a smile on his face, from ear to ear, and then he started doing house chores and singing - I. Am. So. Happy! - in a crazed voice. Lol!

Ren and Stimpy - Nickelodeon Animation Studio
I seem to have a "happy helmet" of my own and I just keep cranking it up until I am totally exhausted and I have driven everybody around me absolutely bonkers! Lol! What I seem to keep doing is that as soon as I feel some sadness or anger or something not quite right, I start going thru my preventive routine - I add an extra meeting, I call few people and I ask them how they are doing, repeat the Serenity Prayer several times a day, and I try to keeping positive by making gratitude lists! And I of course try to get my family to be happy too - whether they like it or not! LOL! Then, I usually just keep doing this until I feel better! This routine was very useful in early sobriety; it kept me focused on positivity and staying sober, but now...

I have realized that this has become another way for me not to actually deal with my feelings.

Yep. Avoidance. Not facing the facts. Not dealing with issues. I don't want to feel this way so I will just get all wrapped up in everything else! LOL! I guess escape can come in many forms, including working really hard on being happy and not letting myself actually feel.

So, my funk has finally past but not until I was able to stop and just sit in the feelings - this time, I saw that I was running in circles trying to be happy - again - but I was still feeling blah, and now I was absolutely exhausted too, so I just stopped. I sat with my feelings. I just let them be there. I told myself that it was OK to feel this way. The feelings started to dissipate. I realized then, than I can honestly just be, be in the moment and accept it as the moment where I am meant to be in.


May 16, 2013

Those Sober Feelings Again

“Hope is the feeling that the feeling you have isn’t permanent.” ~Jean Kerr

I have been trying really hard to get out of my funk. I have had several things kinda roll into one gigantic thing. First, I guess Mother's Day was a bit harder than I thought. I really miss my mom. Grief is a strange thing, it just kinda comes over in waves, sometimes very unexpected, sometimes understandably expected, and others at the moments that bring the most memories.

Then, we have decided after a really long consideration, to finally let go of our dog, who although has never hurt any of us, has become quite aggressive. I felt really sad that we had to make this decision, but after attacking a "walker by dog," my fear of who could be next was exceeding my limits. It has been three days without her now, and there is a definite void.

Also, the second anniversary of Aunt Dawn's passing is this weekend, she died unexpectedly, within one month of being diagnosed with cancer.

UGH. My head is all over, and my heart is full of stuff, some pain and some love. Lots of feelings.

I have tried to stay positive and not in self-pity, and I think I have done ok with that. And I've been trying really hard to manage my feelings by turning them into something positive, but... I just don't have the strength anymore! It has just become too hard to be all great and chipper and turn things into positives! I think sometimes it is ok to just feel. Maybe this is how you're supposed to deal with feelings?

If I was still drinking I would have been plowed all week long, I mean to the max, like none-functioning. When I was drinking I had no idea how to deal with any feelings of any kind, I drank because i was happy and I drank because i was sad. And once I was drunk I didn't have to feel anything! I must say, I do miss feeling nothing...  I think my default "setting" is wanting to feel nothing. Well, I suppose that after twenty some years of feeling nothing it may take a while to be ok with feeling anything...

But I want to do this in a healthy way. Maybe by trying so hard to fix how I am feeling, I am actually not dealing with the feelings. Pain is part of life, and I can’t avoid it. I think I can only minimize it by accepting it and dealing with it well. That means feeling the pain and knowing it will pass. Feelings do not lasts forever; I might just need to sit in the discomfort and wait until it passes.

I know that there are many things to be grateful about, but today I am just letting myself feel what I am feeling. And tomorrow...

May 14, 2013

Celebrationg a Happy Mother's Day Sober

Yes, I am a bit late with this post. I've been hanging in self-pity because my mom is gone and my husband did not live up to my expectations of my perfect Mother's day. Sheesh!! Bit self-center, still? Ya think!? Ugh. And I do miss my mom something awful. All these occasions used to be special and especially spent with her! But now they are no more. Just memories. But I am so very grateful that I have a wonderful mom in-law who has graciously opened her home and heart to me. What a gift! Soooo..... I am turning this crap in my head around; time to make a gratitude list...

I am grateful to be sober
I am grateful to have a loving family
I am grateful to have great kids
I am grateful to be able to be present for life
I am grateful to have had the chance to live a better life

I am grateful ______________________________________(you fill in the blank)

Happy belated mother's day to all the great moms, aunts, grandmas and teachers! It takes a village!!! And how grateful am I? I can't even put it into words. Being a sober mom sure beats being a drunk one! Let me tell you!

I lost custody of my daughter when she was five months old! Ugh. Things like this you may only hear on the news, right? Drunk, neglectful parents in some remote part of the country! Well maybe that's what most people would think, but we are just a middle class folk, living in the burbs... Yes, this happens in the burbs too. Anyway, she was put in a temporary foster care, while the county tried to figure out if we were fit parents. They cleared my ex and ordered me to go to rehab. For the next 6 months I got to see my daughter in a tiny little room, for an hour, once a week. My first mother's day, I got an hour with her, at my ex's house, with a county Child Protective Services supervisor present. Oh, I still have those memories etched in my head, crystal clear, never to be forgotten.

Today, I don't have to deal with any of that. Today, being a sober mom is the best gift I could give myself and my kids. Today, I am there for my kids and I am capable of taking care of them the right way. I am able to meet their needs and hopefully guide them in the right direction. It's not always easy, parenting is hard, but I am able to face the issues and come to some resolutions. I can lead by example.

And I get to hug them and tell them that I love them every day!
Only, because - I am sober.

May 10, 2013

Why Sobriety is My Priority

A conversation with my coworkers about the cost of childcare and working vs staying at home has left me feeling a bit... Ah I guess feeling like... Oh should have stayed at home with my kids. I have three kids and they are all growing up in daycare. I can't help but feel like I am not doing enough. But honestly I can't be a stay at home mom; the time alone is just too slippery for me and I am afraid that I would start drinking again.

See, today sobriety is my priority. It has to be. If I drink again I will lose everything, I am sure of that. 

When my oldest was born, my ex and I decided that I would stay home with her. When she was three months old, I started drinking again; when she was five months old, I lost custody. In just two months my drinking was completely out of control and I ended up in rehab. And I didn't get sober until she was 5 years old. How crazy is that!? So I am scared.

So I have to keep reminding myself that my sobriety has to come first. I often hear people say that they don't have the time for meetings and "joining" a group, that it takes too much time out of the things that are important in life. But the truth for me is, that the time I put into working on my sobriety benefit everyone. I know that when I go to a meeting, or call my sponsor, or work on steps, I always feeling better, I am more relaxed and able to deal with life with more compassion and patience. And sometimes taking care of me means not putting myself in slippery places, where I might or might not be ok. I don't need to challenge my sobriety anymore. I just need to take care of it.
This had to be a lifestyle change for me, I suppose sort of like people who are highly allergic to let’s say peanuts, and have to make sure they do not eat anything that might have had even a trace of nuts. It they don’t take this precaution and change their diet, they might die. The most common barrier to taking care of oneself is the belief that we are selfish if we do. But in fact -if I don't take care of me, then I am useless to everybody else.

The best example of putting yourself first are the pre-flight instructions: when the plane is going down and the masks fall out of the ceiling, passengers are instructed to make sure to put the mask on first, and then help others; you can't help others if you die first.
My kids know the days that I go to the meetings, sometimes I have taken my daughter with me if I needed to, (with a portable DVD player and head phones) but I don't miss my meetings. This is my medicine. This the medicine that works for me. And people ask, after five years, you still have to go!? Aren't you cured? Well, YES... Yes, I still have want to go. Just like anything worth keeping, I must take good care of my sobriety. This means continuing doing the things that keep me sober, or avoiding things that might not, like staying home with the kids.

On a side note: I had a tough day at work yesterday, very overwhelmed with a project that we are to release in six weeks and it seems like an impossible task! My coworkers talked about dealing with the stress with bourbon. I got resentful! What about me? What the hell do I have? –
I have the gift of sobriety and awesome sponsor who emails me this:
"What could you not accept, if you but knew that everything that happens, all events, past, present and to come, are gently planned by One Whose only purpose is your good? Perhaps you have misunderstood His plan, for He would never offer pain to you. But your defenses did not let you see His loving blessing shine in every step you ever took. While you made plans for death, He led you gently to eternal life. "

May 7, 2013

New Memories in Old Places

Somewhere around 3 years sober the memories of my drinking past started visiting me quite often. It almost seemed that everywhere I turned there was a memory, like the one of that store I used to buy my wine at where the clerk new me by name, or that restaurant I got trashed at, or the piano bar I tried to play piano at  - LOL! - yes that did happen! And there were those other ones too, not so funny, like the time I pulled into someones driveway because I was too drunk to drive anymore, and I was woken up by a man pointing a riffle in my face - yep that did happen too.

Old Town, Alexandria 
from Google Images
So when I recently got this lovely email from my sober pal, about wanting to get together and take the kids somewhere new, I was really excited, yes time to make new memories!

She wrote:
"We went to a wedding in old town last weekend and walked around after the wedding. It's so nice there, there are many little shops, and art galleries, and the whole waterfront is just gorgeous! There was so much going on! Lots of street performers (magicians and musicians), a big candy store, and a beautiful park on the water. Are you up for going there? We could take a picnic and kites. Let me know!"

Interesting enough I knew this "new" place all too well, and the description of how I remember it was quite different! 

My reply:

Old Town, Alexandria 
from Google Images
"Oh gosh, Old Town Alexandria, I used to party there plenty! It was so crazy how my brain just went thru the memory lane as I was reading your description. My favorite bar was there, I watched the last episode of Seinfeld there! Oh, so many memories, OMG, I was thinking, yep I had that nice date in the park, which was my attempt of having a nice, "not so drunk" picnic... yep and that one time when I went to that sports bar and I got cut off on my 5th Long Island Iced Tea... and the other time when we went bar hopping for my friend's bachelorette party...  and once my friend scraped her brand new Mustang convertible as she was pulling out of the spot in the parking garage, after our evening of drinking... and I drank right on that waterfront pier too, poured the wine in my soda cup... Oh and I met bunch of Harley dudes at the Starbucks once, too! Good times, well... some, and some not so good! Some just drunken stupper. UGH. I think it's time to make some new memories there!"

I've been thinking about this all day. I have made so many memories thru my drinking. There is no place in my area that is memory free! How can I make new ones! But I have in fact made new memories in old place already. I used to drink quite often at the Town Center close to where I live, but now we go there to enjoy the Concert on the Lawn summer series with the kids. Ha! So, I am really excited, I am looking forward to replacing those Old Town memories too!

May 4, 2013

AA Step Nine - Made Direct Amends

 - Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

AA Big Book, Into Action, pg 82.
I finally plunged into Step 9, after creating the list of people I have harmed in step 8. Oh, this is some task I tell ya! But I am ready to clean house and do this! I met with my sponsor and went over the step and discussed who I should make amends to as soon as possible and who I should not make direct amends to at all. We also talked about the importance of remembering that while doing amends I do not criticize or point out the wrongs that the person had done to me, if there were any. This step is about cleaning my house not theirs. Here I need to have kindness and compassion so that I can heal and forgive myself as well.

We also read Chapter 6, Into Action in the AA Big Book, and discussed how to go about making amends. I had many questions - Why can't I just apologize? What is the difference between apologizing and making amends? Why make amends instead of apologizing?

My sponsor shared an article with me about making amends; the author suggested that you don't just say "I am sorry," but ask for forgiveness instead, because saying I am sorry is like closing off the door to forgiveness. Of course I had to do some more research... haha, just clear my mind a bit more and be ready - this is my perfectionist side. lol!

I looked up the few words:
Definition of apology: A regretful acknowledgment of an offense or failure.  
Definition of amends: Reparation or compensation.
Definition of forgiveness: To renounce anger or resentment against.
I also found this little bit on the Hazelden* website:
How do amends differ from apologies? An amend has to do with restoring justice as much as possible. The idea is to restore in a direct way that which we have broken or damaged--or to make restoration in a symbolic way if we can't do it directly.
Say, for example, that I borrowed 20 dollars from you and never paid you back. If I go up to you and say, "Gee, I'm sorry I borrowed your 20 dollars and spent it on drugs," that would be an apology. Making amends is giving your money back to you. -
Hmmm... I though, I have done a few amends in the past, but I think that I just apologized. But I think that I have a clearer understanding of what I am about to embark on. I am still a bit fearful. But I was determined to take this step, so every time the feeling creeps up, I pause and ask my Higher Power to guide me and release me from fear. OK, I think I am ready. :)

*Hazelden helps individuals, families, and communities struggling with alcohol abuse, substance abuse, and drug addiction transform their lives. Our locations across the United States help people at all stages of the treatment and recovery process, supporting them with our Twelve Step-based model that is the modern standard for addiction treatment and recovery services. - for more information please visit their website at

Click HERE to read the AA Step Nine.  

May 1, 2013

Tulips for My Mom

Today is my mom’s birthday; she passed away in 2011.

Tough day… I am trying to write something up, but my thoughts are just running around, through the memories… good and bad, and all mixed up. I am a bit discombobulated.

I am truly grateful that I was sober when she passed. I heard people in the rooms of AA saying that many times, but I just couldn’t quite understand it, I mean, who wants to go thru losing a parent let alone do it without relaying on alcohol!! I would have probably been drunk of my @ss - living in oblivion and hoping that I would never get out! But I was sober, and I was there, and that was quite miraculous.
It was definitely the hardest period in my sobriety on so many levels. Having to deal with my own emotions as well as with my dad’s, and brother’s, and other family members, was quite challenging. While everyone was coping with alcohol, I was coping with AA. Going thru this time really felt like my first few months of sobriety; footing unbalanced, lots of emotional pain, a great fear of the unknown, and the utter feeling of powerlessness. I was just trying to make it thru, 24 hours at a time.

But I did get thru this difficult time, and sober. I used the same tools that I have learned in AA; I was Hanging on to Sobriety. I went to a meeting and called my sponsor almost every day. I constantly practiced Step 3 - Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. It was absolutely crucial, I had to turn it over, I was most definitely, not in control of this. I also called someone in my sobriety circle before every visit with mom and I checked back with them on my way home. I often repeated the Serenity Prayer over and over in the midst of falling apart. I finally understood why my sponsor insisted that I call sober women and build a support network! I can’t imagine going thru this on my own. Did I feel like drinking? Yes, there were few times where the pain seemed to much to handle. But, I had a remarkable support system of amazing sober women who kept me sane and told me every day that I was going to get thru this and sober. And I just believed!

In the very end, I ended up making the last decisions and phone calls when it was time. My dad asked me to help him with this because he just wasn't able to. This was a very extraordinary request to me because no one has ever depended on me at this level when I was drinking… and no one could.

Sobriety is such an incredible gift. Going thru this time was the most challenging yet insightful period of my sober life. Those last weeks of my mom’s life had been etched in my heart forever. I am so very grateful that I was able to be there for her and for my family, and that I remained sober.

Happy Birthday Mommy! I hope there are huge fields of tulips in heaven!