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.


August 1, 2013

Those Dirty Thoughts Sober

As the finale to our vacation I took the 2 older kids to the near by amusement park for the day. We had a blast! I think I am totally addicted to seeing my kids having fun, and laughing, and being excited! The four year old just kept saying, more, more! Very cool!


The normally 1.5 hour drive took double the time, plus the 90 degree weather plus the 90 percent humidity, and what seemed like miles of walking and endless squabbles between the siblings, WELL... it all had made me absolutely exhausted and grouchy! - I need a damn drink and a cigarette! Like. Now. A Shot of Tequila! - my inner self screamed! - oh no, I hope that no one heard that. - as I looked around. Lol! Strangely enough those thoughts no longer scare me. I just laugh about them, but really, it took me a while to get to this point in my sobriety. But it's like, I know now that it's just a thought. And I want to drink because I am an alcoholic. And just because I think it, doesn't mean that I have to react to it, at all.

I have million thoughts going through my head each day. I can't possibly react to all of them, (and I don't think I would want to!) but I used too react to many, almost automatically. If I thought I, I did it! I suppose this is a good method for getting things done, for positive pursuits in life, like going back to school or getting sober. But not so easy to deal with when those damn dirty thoughts about drinking creep in. I used to say them out loud to my husband - I want a drink!- it used to freak him out, but I told him that it was just a thought... and it will pass... but by saying it out loud, it was no longer inside of me, festering. I think that's why at many AA meetings they ask if anyone has had a desire to drink, I think I have only heard someone speak up a handful of times, in my years of AA, but honestly who among us has not had a desire or though about a drink not ever in sobriety? Sheesh, I still do!

But knowing that my thoughts and feelings pass and change, and giving myself the time to acknowledge that in the next 15 minutes (or so) I will most likely feel totally different, is one of the best tools for staying sober. Because I might feel like I want a drink, or a drink seems appealing, BUT I don't have to have a drink. Today I have a choice!