Saturday, October 22, 2016

Up, Down, All Around

Dear Readers,
I am sorry I have been absent from the blogging world for a little while.
I think I just needed a break for a bit.
But not to worry, I am still here!
Centennial Lakes

Most of my time away has been good.
Mr. UT is good. 
His labs came back as precancerous, but not cancer.
So he will have to go back in 6 months for another check up, but the doctor seemed happy overall.
I have been reading books, going to yoga, and going for long walks with a friend and Mr. UT.
I am still loving my volunteer job and going to meetings.

Our fall season has been beautiful, and I can't help but show you a few photos I took of this season in our city.
Last Night! 

But I have been struggling with a few things.
Fall can be a tricky season.

With fall comes parties, and with parties come the thoughts of wishing I could drink.
I won't drink, but the thoughts still come.
Just the last few days have been hard.
The most important thing I have learned about thoughts about drinking is to tell someone about them. I don't keep them hidden, so I can stay accountable. 

With fall comes fading light, and with fading light, comes some low energy and isolation for me. I find I am spending time watching endless election news, which makes me upset.
I am isolating a little bit.
I know I should reach out, but tend to sit in pajamas and veg out.
I am also playing way too many computer type games, for way too long.

I have also been struggling with insomnia. I have been so tired, and that makes my thinking and my mood so low.
I have tried magnesium, cutting back on caffeine, computer time, all the things I am supposed to do, but sleep eludes me. That makes me miss golfing, and some of my favorite yoga times, as I can't get up early enough. It makes it hard for me to read or post on blogs.
The one thing that does seem to help is walking outside, in the daylight, for at least 45 minutes.
The problem is, I can't make myself do this by myself.
So unless my friend can go with me, I don't go.

I think on my strong days, I need to shore up more support for myself. I can set dates to meet people at meetings, for coffee, or for exercise. That way, I won't have to think of doing this on a gray day when my energy is low. 

Today I made it to yoga, am writing this post, and will read as many blogs as I can this weekend. 
We have a small dinner party tonight, with all of our good friends.
It's so nice out, I am even wearing flip flops!

Big Hugs to All,
On Day 779,

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Mr. UT's Update

Here we are this summer!
Dear Readers,
Mr. UT had his operation yesterday, and it went very well. 
His surgeon was able to remove the polyp the easier way, so he was home the same day.
Now we have to wait for the pathology report to be sure there was no cancer. 
More waiting, but the doctor said if she saw anything that seemed like it was cancerous, she would have done the more invasive procedure.
(Read here for my first post about his operation.)
Thank you all so much for your thoughts and prayers!

We can walk now, but will have to wait a week to do more of our active fun stuff!
So today we went for a short walk, and will hunker down for binge watching House of Cards tonight!

With so Much Gratitude, 

PS - I reached my 25 months sober anniversary on October 4! 

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Drinking Dream

My Dad and I at my Wedding!
Dear Readers,
Yoga often brings up some powerful memories and feelings.
One time, a year after my dad had passed, I broke down sobbing in a class.
This morning during class, I suddenly remembered I had a drinking dream last night.

I don't remember all of the details, but I do remember some of the feelings.
I was inside some sort of building, and I was with another person that I knew.
I remember I was feeling frustrated and anxious.
There was a cupboard with alcohol in it.
The other person and I got it out.
I think it was whisky or something like that.
I poured a drink, and put it on a counter.

At some point I put the drink back in the cupboard, without drinking it.
Then, all of a sudden, my dad was standing next to me, and told me he was proud of me for putting it back.

When my dad was alive, he struggled with his drinking, especially later in his life.
My brother, sister and I were lucky that his drinking didn't effect us growing up. 
We had much fun going camping, golfing, skiing, all because my dad loved to learn new things, and he taught us the love of learning.

But after we had all married and moved out, his drinking really increased.
It was not fun for my mom, or the family when we gathered at special occasions.
He had classic alcoholic behavior....hiding bottles, getting drinks for family so he could sneak drinks in the kitchen, behavior changes from nice to mean.
He couldn't stop, and didn't want outside help.
He tried to quit on his own, but that didn't work.
It was only after he developed Parkinson's disease that he was able to cut down.

I do not like drinking dreams, and I am so lucky I have had only a few.
They make me anxious just thinking about them.
So it's no wonder I pushed the dream away, and it didn't remember it until my yoga practice.

But they also can teach me.
This dream reminded me that I used to drink when I was frustrated about work.
I'd work myself up to be very angry or resentful and then drink to calm myself down.
The dream told me that my dad really did want to quit, but he just didn't know how.
And that he loved me.

Today, hubs and I are going shopping, although the sun is shining and it's so pretty outside, we might need to change plans and go biking!

With Much Love,
On Day 758,


Saturday, September 24, 2016

Being the Cool Sober People

Dear Readers,
Something cool happened last night!
Mr. UT and I went to a trendy downtown place to eat.
We brought along a bottle of Fre Brut (alcohol free champagne).

When we showed it to the waiter, he told us his girlfriend doesn't drink, and he was interested in how this tastes. We told him to have sip.

Then one of the managers came over and asked if she could try it.
We said, sure!
They both came back later and said it tasted like one of their real champagnes.

Having people actually wanting to taste our AF drink was a new one for us!!
It made dinner so fun!
I really did feel like one the cool people, not drinking!

I have to say this was the first dinner where I really felt free being sober.
It's such a wonderful feeling!

Much Love,

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Life I am Making

Our Evening Walk..Minneapolis
Dear Readers,
I am slowly understanding the effects that drinking had on my life.
It kept me from participating in a full life.
It kept me trapped in my child-self, the one that wants what she wants right now.
It kept me trapped by keeping me inside, in the dark bars.
It kept me away from being close to my husband.
It kept me away from learning how to be an adult.

It has taken me awhile to appreciate all that I have learned. 
I sometimes think I haven't grown fast enough in my recovery, but then I look back and realize I am making progress!

One of the greatest things I have learned is that life is what I make it.
If I chose a word of the year, it might be "action".
I can let inertia take over, and when I do that, I always find I get down.
I can't wait until I "feel" like doing something, I have to just do it.
I have to "show up" for things.
Which for me is easier said than done at times, especially on grey days.
I have found that outside accountability helps me.
That's one of the reasons I told so many people about my sobriety...the accountability.

I can't let fear stop me from living a fuller life.
I was so afraid to pick someplace to volunteer, afraid I would be tied there forever, or that somehow I would be making a "wrong" choice.
Once I faced my fears, and just asked to help, I am finding so much happiness meeting new people, learning new skills, and going out of my comfort zone. 

(My volunteer job is working with a small non-profit foundation that helps people with opioid addictions. I am putting the link to their website here.) 
Our Favorite City Park

In the past few weeks, I have:
- Been to a cabin with friends - Hosted a dinner party where nobody drank alcohol
- Hiked and walked with hubs
- Golfed with hubs and friends
- Volunteered
- Been to meetings
- Seen friends at coffee shops and at my house
- Been to yoga
- Read several books
- Been to doctors, as I had a small kidney stone (not fun)

As I am retired, I count myself very lucky I have this time to give of myself as well as time for myself. But I also see that life goes by very fast. I can't take anything for granted anymore. 
Falls...Up North
That includes my sobriety. I am so grateful that I am sober today.

With a Cup of Coffee, On Day 749,

PS - Hubs will have his operation in two weeks.
We both have been calm while waiting, and just have been going on with our daily routines.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

2 Years!!

Year Two 
Dear Readers,
On September 4th, I am 2 years sober!
As I was looking back at my one year post, I noticed that much what I said then, still holds true now, so I am reposting it below.

Dear Readers,
Today I have been alcohol free for 366 days!
As I write this, I am sitting up on a deck by a beautiful lake in northern Minnesota, with my good friends, and of course my cute hubs.

The weather is absolutely perfect.

And I am good.

So what I have learned about not drinking?

1. Alcohol is not romantic. I had to really work on this. If anything, it made me too tired to have a nice night with my Loved One. Romantic is sharing conversation, holding hands, candles, smiles, and love. 

2. It took awhile. I had horrible urges when I first tried to quit, and I was not able to cope with them. I was very close to going on antabuse if the urges hadn't gotten better. But then, they did! 

3. No one cares if I don't drink. It's just my own perceptions that need changing.

4. I can choose to make myself miserable or happy about not drinking.

5. It is a change, and I need time to adapt to living a different way, learning to live life one day at a time. 

6. I couldn't do this alone. I needed and still need people to help me. Only people with an alcohol addiction really know what it's like. I love my on-line community, my AA community, my doctors, my yoga teachers and buddies, and family and friends.

7. I am learning to deal with depression and anxiety, again. I had them before my drinking got heavy. Then I started to try to drink all those feelings away. It surprised me that they didn't go away, and if anything are coming to forefront again. However, I no longer have the terrible  alcohol induced depression and anxiety. I am so thankful for that!

8. I love my yoga practice!

9. Giving up drinking does not solve all my problems. There are no easy fixes, except for these:

I no longer have the problems of drunk driving, falling down, sloppy speech, blacking out, hangovers, waking up in cold sweats, spending money, and hanging out in bars for hours. 
I am very happy not to make any more problems for myself, as I have enough normal ones!

10. Being scared is normal. I was very scared. I was scared of losing friends, coping without drinking, and going to meetings. But that went away with time.

In the future it is my hope and dream that I can keep letting go of the anxiety around not drinking. I have made great strides, but this is an area I still need to work on. The same goes for the "poor me, I can't drink" thoughts that can pop up at dinner parties, which are connected to some social anxiety.

I am working to grow spiritually as well as emotionally, because I know some of my problems are from lack of growth in these areas.

If you are still struggling, I want to encourage you to never give up. I know it takes work. It is one of the hardest things I have ever done. Keep searching for the best ways to help yourself. If one way isn't working try something else. I knew I needed to do everything, so I did everything. 

The best gift from being sober is peace of mind.

To all of you dear readers, I not only thank you for your help and support, I wish you a wonderful, glorious day!

With Much Love from the Northern Woods,
On Day 731,

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Some Worry, Some Faith

Dear Readers,
Yesterday we learned that Mr. UT will need an operation to remove a large colon polyp.
We met with the surgeon, and she walked us through what needs to happen.

The polyp is large and close to the top of the colon, so it has to be removed by surgery.
This type is precancerous, and as she explained, it can hide cancer cells in it.
It will have to be biopsied when it is removed.

She will try to remove it with a scope, but chances are, it will have to be removed by cutting it out, as well as part of the colon.
The colon will then be reattached. 

This of course can have side effects, including problems with bowel movements, and a possible chance of leakage where the colon is reattached.

I am nervous.
Mr. UT is nervous.
I have been through 11 operations.
Mr. UT has only been through one, his tonsils out when he was a little kid.
He will have to stay in hospital for about five days, and it takes about a month before he can go back to work.
The surgeon did not give us a, "Oh, I probably can get it with the scope."
She wants to be careful because it is easy to poke a hole in the colon, and that is another reason she would cut it out.

Mr. UT gave me the go-ahead to write about this, which is pretty cool, since he is way more private than I am!
I wish he could have the operation soon, but it won't be until early October. 
So this just sits there, in the back on my mind.
I know the anxiety we feel is normal.

All we can do is trust that all will go well.

With a lot on my mind,
Wendy and Hubs