Friday, August 18, 2017

Sobriety and Marriage


11th Grade 
Dear Readers,
On Monday, it will be Mr. UT's and my 41st wedding anniversary!
That is a LONG time! In fact, we met in 11th grade, and dated steady for 7 years until we got married!
(Well, except for 2 weeks in college when I broke up with him to date Peter, then decided life really wasn't greener on the other side!!)

I told hubs I don't even remember when or where he proposed to me! (He just shakes his head, knowing I have a very short memory except when it comes to food memories!)

When we were young we did not have much money, and yet we had a lot of fun. Camping trips, driving trips, little things that created a lovely life. We rented a little house and painted all the rooms in these brilliant colors. We loved that little house. (Except for the mice.)
When we had a fight, I'd run over to my grandma's house, a block away and my grandma and I would discuss the problem with men!
Our Wedding Day, A Long Time Ago!

We certainly had some very hard times during our marriage.There was a move to another state, where hubs found a job, and I fell into a deep depression due to losing my social support. I couldn't find a teaching job right away. I thought I wanted to leave my darling husband. I wasn't able to have a child. My depression was bad at times, and that often clouded my thinking. (Even writing about these times makes me feel the sadness.)

There were also so many wonderful sweet times. Times of love and joy. Times of travel, house fixing, bike riding, skiing, just plain fun. Mr. UT helped me in my classrooms, building shelves and helping me organize! There was much laughter in our house, as Mr. UT is very funny!

When I look back and see how we made it this far? Sometimes I am in awe!
We just never gave up. No matter what happened, we fought for our marriage. We had basically grown up together, being high school sweethearts. We had to learn, to compromise, to adapt, to change. We had to love unconditionally, even when this seemed so hard to do.
We also fought for each other. I wanted to protect my husband from all the bad things that could happen, and he supported me during all of my ups and down times and health problems. 

When my drinking became the biggest elephant in the room, we still never gave up.
It was a "we" effort, because truth be told, I am not sure I could have quit without his support. He stopped drinking when I did this last time, because he saw that I could not have alcohol in the house. It was too tempting.

Now, on the eve of our 41st wedding anniversary, and on the eve of coming up to my 3 years sober, we truly have found peace. Our love now is so strong, I know there is nothing that can break it. 

Perseverance, some stubbornness, willingness, surrender, forgiveness, honesty, and love and laughter. 
And Now!
These words are the words that hold our marriage together. 
I love you, dear husband.
Thank you for watching out for me, caring for me, providing for me, and loving me.

On Day 1,078, 
Wendy

Monday, August 7, 2017

Just For Today

Dear Readers,
Lately I have found myself feeling left out, about not being part of an "in-group".
I often feel very insecure when it comes to people. I will say something and then worry I said the wrong thing, or I talk too loud, and someone tells me to be quieter.
I often don't hear things people say in a group situation and so I either have to ask people to repeat, which gets old after a while for them, or I pretend I know what's going on, which leads to strange conversations. Sometimes I give up and leave.

I often want to be part of the "in-group" so much, that I forget to be happy with what gifts I already have!

Slowly but surely, I am learning that the secret to life for me, is being grateful. 
A woman I know, commented on the fact that Mr. UT is a wonderful guy.
I told her, I did not really appreciate him and all that he does for me, until I got sober.

Sobriety, (as Anne of Ainsobriety often says), is a gift.
It keeps bringing me new 'aha" moments. 
It gives me the chance to step back when I am upset or sad, and ask myself some questions, and then to be open to the answers.

And because I have lately had the feelings of being left out, I asked myself, "Why is it important to me to be included with these people?"
"What do I need or want that I am not getting?"

The answers that came to me were that I need and want connections, love and approval.
When I look at what I already have, and I discover that I have connections, love and approval right now.
I do not need to seek these things.
Instead, I want to appreciate the people that love me unconditionally.
This is a gift sobriety brings.

So, just for today, I will be sober, grateful, and probably a little loud!

With Love,
On 35 Months and 3 Days,
Wendy

PS - It was my birthday last Tuesday, and Mr. UT bought me a beautiful dress, and even got the right size!!
My Birthday Present from Mr. UT!!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Don't Give Up

Dear Readers,
Mr. UT and I went for long hike today, in a beautiful park.
When we had gone two miles we debated how far we should continue hiking.
We ended up hiking 5 miles in 92 degrees heat.

Half the time, I complained to Mr. UT about how hot, tired, and thirsty I was.
But Mr. UT just kept reaching for my hand when I was going up a steep hill, and encouraged me to keep moving.

And guess what?
When we were done, I was so very glad I kept going and didn't give up.
The woods and lakes were lovely, green and blue, and little frogs were hopping everywhere.
I felt good about getting my exercise out in nature, and having time to discuss life with Mr. UT.

I am also thankful I went on a hard walk to find sobriety.
And yes, I complained to Mr. UT about how hard it was, how left out I felt, how I didn't think I could keep going.
But he, along with other people, offered me their hands, and pulled me along when my energy was sinking.
They talked me through my fears.

If I had given up on my road to sobriety, I would have never found the joy and peace of mind I have today.
Being sober brings me joy.
It brings joy to my marriage, joy to my family, and joy to all I meet in the world.
It brings joy when I water my flowers, volunteer, do the laundry, and have coffee.

It's not as if I am running around happy all the time.
I still have crabby times, tired times, sad times and angry times.
But there is an underlying joy and peace of mind knowing that these times will pass, and that I can meet any challenges that face me with grace.

It occurred to me last weekend, as Mr. UT and I ran around the city having too much fun, that I didn't miss drinking at all.
We went a museum, a sculpture garden, walked by lakes, and ate ice cream galore. (It was National Ice Cream Day!)

Now I am sore from our hike, my back is killing me.
I'm still a little crabby.
And I am so happy that I am still walking on the path of sobriety.

With an Iced Tea,
On Day 1,052,
Love, 
Wendy 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Grievance Stories

Dear Readers,
When I was in college, I had to do a supervised teaching semester in a kindergarten school. I went to meet the teachers and the school.
As soon as I returned home, I was informed by the dean of education, that they didn't want me to teach there.
He said It was because of my speech.
I was deeply hurt. This came out of nowhere. 
I was sent to see the speech and hearing clinic at the university, and found out that I had a hearing loss, and because of that I had a lisp.
I had no idea.

Later, when I first started teaching, I was hurt by another teacher.
She reported me to the superintendent, saying I shouldn't be teaching because of my speech. 
It was a horrible time. I almost quit teaching. I went into a severe depression. I didn't know who to trust on the staff, as she told many other teachers.

For many years I told these grievance stories, over and over. I struggled to let go of the hurt and pain. I was so angry. One night, many years later, in a drunk stupor, I called the teacher who reported me to the superintendent, and raged at her. 

These are but a few of my grievance stories. Stories where I have been hurt, but struggle to let them go, to learn from them, but not carry them. I first heard of the term grievance story from a book called Forgive For Good, by Dr. Fred Luskin.  Here is an excerpt from an interview he gave on Virtues for Life:

"A grievance is created when we take a normal life event that is painful, make it very personal as opposed to something that just happened, and then exaggerate how personal it is. Then we practice this pattern over and over, and forget that there are other ways of looking at the same situation."

When I was drinking, my grievance stories were about how horrible work was, and about how everyone had wronged me. They were magnified by the alcohol. I would sit for hours with my drinking buddy discussing everything that I was resentful about. 

Now, you can't rush the healing from these real hurts. 

In order for someone to forgive, "They have to have done some grief work about their loss or wound. They have to have done some grieving of it, which means that they have felt the pain and acknowledged their loss. Also, that they’ve looked at how they handled things and said, “Could I have handled it better?” So a lot of inner exploration and again going through these stages of grief. Then when these stages have been explored, you can look at letting it go. So you can’t forgive too early before you’ve had a chance to grieve the loss. That’s the biggest obstacle that people run into.

Now, one of my biggest grievance stories is about how I was hurt by being left out, or not being included.
My other one is being angry at my body for making me deaf, and the loss of hearing music. 

I really do have a choice. I can continue making myself feel bad, or I can change my story.
In terms of feeling left out, or feeling hurt, I can choose to see that in most cases, nobody tried to hurt me on purpose. If I reach out to people, I feel strong and happy, rather than wait to be invited some place.

I can choose to forgive my body for making me deaf.
I have had to grieve the loss of music. (A cochlear implant changes music and makes it sound very strange, and unpleasant.)
Now, I am telling people how lucky I was to be able to have insurance to cover a cochlear implant, so I can hear speech. 
I am telling myself and other people how happy I am I can hear birds, and hear people talking! I can hear speech on the radio now, too! 

Real life takes work. I just don't want to sit around moping about all the hurts I had past and present. 
By taking drinking out of the equation, I have been able to heal and let go of the resentments much faster. But I still have a ways to go.

In college, the dean found me another school to do my supervised teaching of kindergarten, and the teacher there was warm, loving, and I thrived. 
In the case of the teacher complaining about me, the district office put me in a different elementary school, and there I also thrived. 

Being grateful for all that I have, and remembering I can grieve, and then move on, helps me change my stories from a poor me Wendy, to a strong Wendy!

With A Sunny Walk,
On Day 1,044
Wendy

Thursday, July 6, 2017

When Pigs Fly

Pricilla Likes to Stay on the Ground
Dear Readers,
Yesterday I impulsively bought a flying pig for my yard. Mr. UT really didn't think we NEEDED a flying pig, but I did.

Mr. UT thinks I am getting a little bit daffy in my older years, as I keep adding animals to my yard. I have Bunter, the squirrel, (thank you Barb), and Hedgie, and now Pricilla, the flying pig. Oh, and I forgot I have a dragonfly, too. (But he's really a bug not an animal).

These little guys bring me delight when I go out in the yard and see them. We also have many real squirrels, birds, rabbits, deer, fox, and chipmunks.
If I am ever bored, I just go outside and sit quietly and all of a sudden there is a zoo out back! (Oh, I guess Mr. UT is right after all about being daffy, although I prefer the word eccentric!)
Ready to go to breakfast!

Mr. UT and I had a delightful sober holiday!
Four long days of biking, golfing, seeing a bad movie, going to yoga, having friends over for dinner, and riding our bikes to breakfast.
(Well, Mr. UT doesn't go to yoga, so he mowed the lawn.)

This was my third 4th of July sober.
I did not miss drinking this year. I am seeing more people who don't drink, or don't drink much, as opposed to when I was drinking, I was only open to seeing people who drank a lot. I have changed what I do now, and instead of shopping and drinking on the 4th, I am shopping and not drinking!

It feels lighter, being sober.
Things have lightened up.
Even the gray days are not so heavy on me.
The heat is not as oppressive.
I don't worry quite as much.
Things don't have to be so perfect.
My hurts are not as deep or last as long.

I joined Twitter today, and have been laughing all day long.
I joined to meet up with the wonderful people I have met in the blogging world, who support each other at  #recoveryposse.
This will be another support for my recovery, and will also bring me much needed laughter.
And laughing, like loving, is so healing.

With a Bike, a Bug, and a Pig,
Bunter
But NO gnomes allowed!

On Day 1,036,
Wendy

@untipsyteacher

Hedgie





Friday, June 30, 2017

Who Am I?

Dear Readers,
A young man that works for the foundation I volunteer for, read some of my blog posts, and said it reminded him of a poem, written by a Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was in a Nazi concentration camp, and would soon be hanged.
Green but Buggy! Run! LOL

It speaks to the doubt I often have about a public face and private face, about not knowing who I really am. The confusion of wondering what is my purpose, of being both happy and depressed, of being outwardly smiling and inwardly confused.
I know I am not alone in this suffering.

Now, I have had wonderful things happen in my life, and I am not comparing what this man went through to my problems.
But the poem speaks to the bigger issue of being human, and the feelings and struggles we all have.

Today, I am not suffering.
I am happy in my volunteer place, packing kits with the life-saving drug, Naloxone.
I am happy kissing Mr. UT.
I am happy writing this post.
I am happy giving support to other people.
I am happy at my coffee shop where I love to read and write.
I am happy at my AA meetings,
These stairs are good for my legs!
I am happy walking outside in the park, with green surrounding me.
I am happy at yoga.

Being sober has made life so much easier, calmer, and I have gained peace.
Peace to know nothing is forever, feelings come and go, helping other people feeds my soul, and I am okay.

It's a beautiful poem.

Who Am I?
"Who am I?  They often tell me
I stepped from my cell's confinement
Calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
Like a Squire from his country house.

Who am I? They often tell me
I used to speak to my warders 
freely and friendly and clearly,
as through it were mine to command.

Who am I? They also tell me
I bore the days of misfortune
equably, smilingly, proudly,
like one accustomed to win.

Am I then really that which other men tell of?
Or am I only what I myself know of myself?
Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
Struggling for breath, as though hands were compressing
My throat, yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness,
tossing in expectation of great events,
powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance,
weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
faint, and ready to say farewell to it all.

Who am I? This or the Other?
Am I one person to-day and to-morrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
And before myself a contemptible woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me like a beaten army
Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?

Who am I? They mock me, these lonely question of mine,

Whoever I am, Thou Knows, O God, I am thine."


Below are two sites that give more information about his life and the meaning of the poem.

http://www.marksturgess.org/blog/who-am-i-a-poem-by-d-bonhoeffer
http://www.dbonhoeffer.org/who-was-db2.htm


With Love,
On Day 1,030,

Wendy

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Montreal Vacation

Dear Readers,
We are on vacation this 
week, in Montreal, Canada!

I am sorry I will be unable comment much on your blogs, as I am using our I Pad.
But I will try to read them, and like them, and catch up with comments when we get home.

The coffee here is super yummy!
The people so nice.
Not missing drinking at all.
I'm enjoying sparkling water and tonic water with lime at our dinners and on our roof top terrace. 

I learned a few basic words in French, and this is what I say...

Je suis désolé, je ne parle pas français
...which means, I am sorry, I do not speak French!

While I was watching the news, there was a report about the opioid addiction problem
in Canada. The Canadian Health Board approved three safe injection sites in Montreal.
Here is the news article.


Hugs to all of you,
On Day 1,020,

Wendy