Everything in moderation

Moderation isn’t something I ever practiced much.  I am finding out that it’s not what I did so much as it is the way in which I did it.

There is a reason I am an alcoholic.  I can’t have just one of anything.  I never have been able to.  If one is good, twenty is GREAT!  If one vitamin is good, than four will make me superwoman.  Although I am no longer a smoker and have not smoked in years, I was a hard core smoker.  It wasn’t that I enjoyed the taste or the smell of smoke, in fact; I didn’t like that part at all.  However, I smoked a pack and a half a day for 15 years.   I think I just loved having something to do.  It was something for me to obsess over.  I would think “When can I go out and have my next smoke?  How many do I have left?  Should I go buy some now so that I don’t have to stop later”?  Same thing with drinking.  It used to piss me off when someone would whip out one of those tiny wine glasses at a party.  Trying not to drink the whole glass at one time was difficult and filling it up all night made me feel like an alcoholic!

bucket

Looking back it is a pattern I have had most of my life.  I find that I am restless and at odds if I don’t have something to obsess over.  It is a form of numbing, a way of diverting my attention.  If I am constantly thinking about food, smoking, exercise or alcohol then I am not in my head thinking about life.  The obsession allows me to escape.  I don’t have to think about anything else.  I’m addicted to addiction.  If I stay sober long enough I will eventually become addicted to it as well.  Just as I am an annoying reformed smoker, a workout Nazi, and a newly crazed yogi, I will try and be the world’s best recovering alcoholic.   And this is why I am also a grateful member of al-anon.  🙂

I realize my behavior is not healthy.  It is something I am working on.  Before, if my kids made their beds I would just come behind and make them again.  If my husband cleaned the kitchen I would come out and after a quick inspection, wipe it down once more.  At Christmas time when I was making cookies with the kids, I didn’t allow them to do a whole lot more than watch in fear the cookies would be screwed up.    I could cite a thousand more examples but you get the point.  Um…excuse me bartender! I’ll have anxiety mixed with a splash of obsessive compulsive disorder and a twist of perfectionism on the rocks.

Last night at my Al-anon meeting the speaker was a “double winner”.  She said something that made me think.

She said “I practice Al-anon.  I never perfect it but I do practice it.  Some days I am on and some days I’m not, but every day I wake up and I practice”.

I liked that.  I keep looking around these meetings looking for the people that had mastered this stuff.  I just want someone to tell me how to fix it.  I want to overcome this and move on.  I’m not scared of a little hard work.  I’ve never backed down from a good fight.  So when the people in these rooms tell me just don’t drink today, and keep coming back, it really irritates me.   “What do you mean?  I’ll never perfect this stuff”?    No.  I won’t.  And although I may never have a perfect batting average, I have decided that every day I will show up ………..and I will practice!

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Words to live by

It’s amazing how powerful our words can be.  A few years ago I read the book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary D Chapman .  In the book Chapman suggests that everyone has a particular love language, a specific way in which they feel love.  My love language, it turns out, is words of affirmation.  I have always been sensitive to what people say.  I can still remember specific things that people said to me as a child.  They stick with me and in some cases really define me.  I remember my parents always complimenting my older sister on her grades, her intellect, and her organizational skills.  They would say things like I was the funny one, the musically talented one and definitely ”not so organized” one.   It’s not that they didn’t think I was smart or that my sister wasn’t funny, it’s just that those characteristics stood out and were talked about.  By hearing those words over and over, I came to the conclusion that I was not smart, I was a goofball, a “ham”, and a slob.  I truly believed that.  Now, that is NOT what they said and definitely not what they wanted me to believe.  However, I actually played that part throughout my adolescence because I thought that was my role in the family.  I know now that is not what the intent was and they never meant those words to make me feel bad but it’s an example of how words can impact a person without us even knowing it.

I can remember specific put downs by friends.  I remember them so vividly I can tell you what the room looked like, how it smelled and what temperature it was outside when they said them.  I would believe things people said to me as if it were gospel.  My sister used to say I was a marketing team’s dream because if your commercial was even half way good, I was buying whatever you were selling.  Yes….I purchased Nads, Bumpits, TaeBo and countless other goods sold late at night on t.v.  But just as words affect me negatively, a good compliment can keep me going for days.  It is a natural high for me.  Saying something nice to me can instantly turn you into my best friend. 🙂

I’m not saying it’s good to let words have that kind of effect on you, but for me they do.  It’s one of the reason I drank.  I would drink in anticipation of what you might say to me.   I would ponder why you said that to me.  The little voice in my head would say, “What did she mean by that?  I wonder how long she has been thinking that.  Who else thinks that”?  Sick!  I know. 🙂  But wine or vodka could quiet that bitch right down. 

The connection to what you say to me and how I feel about myself is enormous.  Now, try living with me.  My poor husband comes home after a long day at work.  I have cleaned the house, folded the laundry and made his favorite dinner.  He puts his briefcase down and sits at the table.  He takes one bite and starts to chew his food.  “How is it”?  I ask.  

“Great,” he says.  

“Well, you didn’t say anything about how nice the house looks?” I reply.  

“It looks good,” he says.  

“Also, I folded every piece of laundry we own today.  How about that”?  

You now understand why he is a recovering alcoholic as well.  Not really.  He was screwed up way before I ever met him. 🙂

In all seriousness it is hard for me to hear words, speak words, or read words without them having a major impact on me.  Sobriety intensifies that.  So now I have to surround myself with words that inspire me.  I hang around people (like you) who have great words of wisdom to share.  I go to meetings and hear people speak of recovery.  I read self help books.  I write.  I have great phone conversations with my Mom, my sister and my friends.  I listen to my kids talk about what happened at school.  I surround myself with powerful words!

I am a lover of inspirational quotes and sayings.  Some people collect teapots, or baseball cards but I like to collect words!  I find them, write them down and read them over and over. 

Words can change the way we look at the world or even the task at hand.  Some words I am loving lately….

“It’s impossible,” said pride.

“It’s risky,” said experience.

“It’s pointless,” said reason.

“Give it a try,” whispered the heart.


Some things change after 83 days

  1. I water my plants.  My beautiful flowers used to be dead by June.  I was way more concerned with “wineing” me than “watering” them.  My husband keeps telling me “Wow we have a great batch of flowers this year.  They have really bloomed and lasted so much longer than in years past”.  Hmmmm how miraculous?!
  2. I eat ice cream.  This one kind of pisses me off.  I never ate sweets before.  Now I can’t get enough of them.  I treat myself to this ridiculously good turtle sundae every Friday night after our couples’ AA meeting.  Holy mother of God!  I’m gonna stop right there because now I am craving one and it’s only Monday.
  3. I don’t cry over spilled milk.  When my kids used to spill something it could send me over the edge.  Today my daughter came up to me and said “Mom I spilled”.  I told her “That’s okay.  Guess what everybody spills”.  She asked “Do you”?  I said “Yep!  I sure do”.  Her smile melted me.
  4. I enjoy things besides drinking.   Who knew?  Don’t get me wrong.  I was good at drinking….No I was GREAT at drinking.  I had it down!  I could find any excuse to drink and do it with the best of them.  It took years to perfect my craft, but I did it, and I was quite good.  Now I fill my time painting furniture, practicing yoga, taking pictures of my kids, writing blog entries, shopping for antiques, cooking and reading.  I plan on working hard to become as good at these things as I was at drinking.
  5. I clean my house less.  So I had a bit of a break through recently.  I used to wake up hung over and would clean my house from top to bottom.  It was like some sort of penance I would give myself.  I also wanted you to think that I had it all together.  I guess I felt out of control so I would control the things I could…..my house?!  Now I have more important things to do.  I would rather take my daughter to the park than fold the laundry.  I don’t care anymore if you think I am not the perfect wife and mother.  My kid thinks me pushing her on the swings is pretty great.
  6. I laugh with my kids.  I always loved my kids.  However, they did manage to get in the way of my drinking.  A lot!  They were cute and all but they would want to play and talk when all I wanted to do was have another glass of wine.  Now I would give my right arm to get that time back.  As much as I wish I could do it over, I can’t.  So today I chose to laugh often with them.  We dance, we play, and we act ridiculously silly.  I could just drink that laughter through a straw.
  7.  I love my dog.  Okay don’t send me hate mail.  I always liked him…well…a little. We got a dog about a year ago for our 3 daughters.  Of course I am the one who takes care of the little mutt.  I really wasn’t much of an animal lover before.  To be quite honest, taking care of him was just another thing that took up time in my day that I could be drinking.  However, now that I am not drinking, I really LOVE this dog.  I love everything about him.  I love getting up early and letting him out (being of service).  I love taking him on walks (clearing my head).  I love the way he follows me all over the house just to rest at my feet (loves me unconditionally).  I love that he saw the really ugly me, that I hid from the world, and still thinks I’m pretty cool.
  8. I listen to my husband instead of planning my rebuttal.  God this is BIG.  More than I ever wanted to drink, I wanted to be right.  I was never one to pass up a good argument.  I could live off the victory of winning a disagreement for days.  I didn’t care much what it was about, but the high of the win…..well that was just about ecstasy for me.  Now I listen.  I apologize when necessary.  I even think my husband has a good point every now and then. 🙂
  9. I found friends that have real hobbies and interests.  The people I used to hang out with and I, always shared the same hobbies and interests.  DRINKING!  We loved to get together and sit on someone’s patio for a drink.  We would set up play dates just to drink.  We would volunteer for things together so that we could drink.  We would make an excuse just to stop by and stay for a quick drink.  The friends I have now talk about their love of cooking, or writing, or singing, or gardening.  These people are passionate about what they love to do.  It makes me feel alive to hear them talk about their hobbies and the hundreds of things that interest them.  Oh and an added bonus….now I can actually remember what they like to do. 🙂
  10. I don’t procrastinate.  Oh my!   Was I the queen of procrastination???  Well yes I was. 🙂 I used to have to get nice and loaded before doing things that I wasn’t interested in.  I could put off picking up the phone and calling to make an appointment for weeks.  Now if I have an important call to make, I just do it.  I also cut all of my fruit when I get home from the grocery store instead of throwing away whole cantaloupes and watermelons at the end of the week.
  11. I workout with purpose…..well at least a different kind.  I used to go to the gym to sweat out the toxins from the night before.  Now I go to relax and to get STRONG!  It makes me feel good that the regulars at my gym are not getting high from the fumes coming off of my hung over body.   I’m a giver like that. 🙂
  12. I sleep like a baby.  UGH!  The anxiety alone was enough to make me want to kill myself.  I would wake up with horrible 3 AM anxiety when I drank.  You know the kind.  I would think to myself….”Okay that’s it.  No more drinking”!  I could keep it up until about 4 PM the next evening when I would inevitably manage to get that absurd thinking out of my head.  Crazy talk is all that is!  Cheers!  Repeat performance night after night.  I had a longer run than Cats did on Broadway!  Now I close my eyes at night with no regrets, I quickly fall asleep until I am awoken by my 3 year old.  Quietly she taps me on my shoulder at 7 AM and says, “Mom I’m ready for breakfast”.

What if she says no???

 

So I finally got a hold of the woman I was going to ask to be my sponsor.  When she answered the phone I stumbled around but finally got out the words…”Would you maybe be willing to possibly be my temporary sponsor”?  Whew I did it!  That wasn’t so hard.  “Kristin” she said.  “I would love to but my sponsor has told me that I should not sponsor others at this time.  I am not sure if you know or not, but I am a licensed therapist and it was getting to be too much for me to council women during the day and after hours as well.  I am so sorry!  I really would like to but I have to follow orders on this one.  Do you have anyone else in mind”?  I quickly apologized and responded “No but I am sure I can find someone.  Really it’s no big deal.  I am so sorry to bother you.  I totally understand how busy you are”.  God I felt so stupid.  She followed up by asking me “So tell me, how have you been”?  We talked for about a half an hour.  What a fantastic talk too.  She was so honest and open and really wonderful to talk to.  She made me promise to call her while I was on the lookout for a sponsor.  I told her I would.  When I got off the phone, it occurred to me, that I had asked someone a question, I had been turned down and really nothing bad happened.  It was a revelation for me.  Sometimes the answer will be NO and that is okay.  I don’t need to drink in fear of hearing no or in disappointment from hearing no.   I didn’t die of embarrassment.  The world didn’t stop spinning.  It was just NO.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.  Thanks God for that gentle lesson that I so desperately needed to learn.  Thank you for putting this lovely woman in my path and for the wonderful conversation we had.   Now I am ready.  Will you please introduce me to MY sponsor? 


Today it’s all good

Well last week was a bit of an ass kicker. I was in a funk and I just couldn’t get myself out of it. I was so incredibly full of self pity. Poor me I can’t drink! Poor me I don’t go to happy hours ever again! Poor me I can’t drink with my neighbors in the street anymore. Poor me I can’t get lost in a bottle to make the time pass. Well I am glad to report I am OVER that self pity today. Good lord I was in it deep!

Today I say YAY me I haven’t had a drink in 77 days. Hooray for me! I play with my kids and do fun activities with my family. Go Kristin! I get to do all sorts of things I used to love like paint and write. These are things I lost all interest in when I drank. I have a life now. I wake up and have a whole day waiting for me to do something GREAT. My kids love that I LISTEN to them now. I pay attention to them. I laugh with them. My husband and I have a new relationship. My sister and I have fantastic talks about things that REALLY matter. I have always loved talking to her but now I have such an appreciation for the kind of relationship I have with her. She is my “temporary” sponsor while I am still in the process of finding a permanent one. Did I mention she is NOT an alcoholic but damn she can set me straight! 🙂

I just love accomplishing things….ANY things! When I drank I didn’t care so much about what got done and what didn’t.

Sponsor update! So I left a message because she didn’t pick up. Apparently she is out of town and will be returning today. Hopefully she will call me but if not, I am feeling brave enough to call her back. Before sobriety I would have looked at that as “stalking” her. Now I am learning to ask for help. I am just doing the work. I Wake up and thank God for the amazing life He has given me. I go to meetings! I call other women in the program. I do something creative. I do fun things! I just keep on doing it day after day. People in recovery tell me this is how it works so I am following direction. The other night after a meeting this man who was celebrating 32 years came up and hugged me. He congratulated me on 73 days. I said “Oh my gosh! I have nothing compared to you”. He said “Kid, it’s a lot harder to get 30 days than 32 years. You’re doing great. Keep doing it”! What an awesome thing to hear. I am so grateful for the amazing people God is placing right before me. Blessed am I.


Will you be my sponsor?

I went to a women’s only meeting last night. The topic of discussion was step 8.
Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

The thought alone makes me want to drink.
Over and over each woman spoke of how necessary it was to get a sponsor and work the steps. I sat quietly and listened as each one shared their experiences and talked about how relapses occurred when they didn’t fully engage in the program.  Well I do not have a sponsor nor am I working any of these “so called” steps. Quite frankly, I used to have to drink two glasses of wine before ordering a pizza over the phone and now I am supposed to just walk up and ask someone to be my sponsor. It seems a bit intimate and therefore weird to ask someone I hardly know. These women seem nice enough, in fact, a little too nice at times. Like the first time I walked in and they all jumped up to greet me like I was their long lost sister. Given the circumstances I guess I am.
Well today is the day! I am going to ask someone to be my sponsor. I thought if I wrote it down and told you all then I would have to grow some balls and just do it!  Wish me luck! I have someone in mind and instead of a glass of wine I am sipping a hazelnut coffee with cream.  How come I feel like a 7th grade girl at my first boy/girl mixer…I’m such a major DORK!


71 days and counting…

71 days I ago I had my last drink.  Okay I had my last 6 drinks.  Vodka to be exact.  The whole bottle.  (They were big drinks).  It was a low I don’t think I will quite forget.  No matter how hard I try to block that day from my head I believe deep down that God made it all unfold the way it did.  He wants me to remember that day.  He wants me to feel that shame and pain.  He also wants me to move forward. 

I am a wife and a mother of three beautiful little girls (sweet girls that have probably seen too much).  I pretended to be the perfect mother.  I pretended to have it all together.  Every move I made was to keep my authentic self hidden from the world.  Success for me was not letting anyone know who I really was.  As much as I controlled and pretended to be perfect, my life was completely out of control.

I woke up each morning hung-over.  I would make the kids breakfast, snack and lunches for the day.  Run around and clean up the kitchen, start the laundry and head to the gym.  I would volunteer at my kids’ school.   I would tell myself “No one who had an addiction to alcohol could do all of that”.

Every occasion became an occasion to drink or the truth was I created occasions so that I could drink.  I would drink on trips to take my kids apple picking, I drank at school talent shows, I drank at CYC soccer games, I drank as we walked my kids around to Trick or Treat.  It seemed normal.  Drinking was legal after all and I was of legal drinking age.

So here I am.  How in the hell did I get here?  Part of a club of people I never wanted to join and yet the very same people who are saving me from myself.  I am grateful to be a part of this community of recovering alcoholics.  Each day I have to surrender and let people see ME.  It’s the hardest thing I have ever done.  I have feelings of jealousy and am more insecure than I was in high school.  I am so worried I will be left out.  No one will like me anymore.  My friends will abandon me.  I am a 40 year old woman and I can’t shake this feeling.

So today I am grateful for you!  All of you out there who share your stories of recovery, who send messages of hope, who make me laugh a lot!  THANK YOU! Thank you for showing up and being real and allowing me to be real right back atcha!


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