Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Being Ready

Our Christmas Photo!
Dear Readers,
I was thinking about why I was able to stop drinking.
I think it all comes down to being ready because I didn't want the pain that drinking brought me.
All the tools in the world didn't help until then. 
I had tried to stop before, but I wasn't really ready.
I had to want to stop.

The pain of drinking became too much:

My depression was worse.
Hubs and I were fighting about my drinking. 
I started having blackouts.
I was driving drunk, and in constant worry about getting home safe.
I was crying.
I was falling down sometimes.
I felt shame when hubs found all my hidden bottles.
I felt ashamed of myself.
I had thoughts of suicide while drinking.
I went to yoga drunk.
People I knew saw me drunk in situations that embarrassed me.

In recovery language, I guess you would call this my bottom.
But whatever you call it, it was just too painful to keep drinking.

Now, I can honestly say:

I still suffer with depression, but it is very manageable.
Hubs and I now fight about who feeds the birds, or how to sort the laundry.
I have no more blackouts; I wake up knowing everything that happened yesterday!
I am driving safely, not putting anyone in harms way.
I cry only over real problems.
I fall down only when I run with my socks on the stairs.
My feelings of shame have left me, as I am not hiding anything.
I have no thoughts of suicide.
I am going to yoga with all my muscles intact, and I do need them all!
I just don't feel embarrassed anymore, except when I talk too loudly sometimes. 

I can make myself miserable over other things, but they pale in comparison to how miserable I was drinking.

Today, I choose not to drink.
I choose peace of mind.
I choose life.

With Much Love,
On Day 852,

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

'Tis the Season

Dear Readers,
Mr. UT and I bought and put up our Christmas tree this past weekend, and I must say, it brings me a lot of joy.
One year, a long time ago, I just didn't feel like putting up a tree, as there are times no one sees it except us.
I never did that again.
This tree is for us to enjoy, and to honor the Christmas season.
It brings light into the gloomy December weather.

Not drinking this holiday season has been way easier than the last two.
The first year was very hard, and my feelings were all over the place.
Last year was better, but I still thought I was missing something, especially at parties.
This year, I have no desire or wish to drink.

I am finding that although I still like an occasional party, I don't need to go to a party to be happy.
I like the connections with people, but I find that need taken care of in other ways.
I now like to leave parties early. 

I am ever so grateful I do not drink.
If there is ever a time that I wish I could, I think back to my life when I was drinking.
I was a mess. My depression was deep, and though not just due to drinking, it was made much worse by drinking.
I was driving drunk, putting myself and others at risk.
I would wake up and feel like a failure over and over, because I couldn't say no to wine.
Mr. UT and I would fight about how much I was drinking.
I would wake up with night sweats and so thirsty.
I had some yucky digestive problems.

One time, at a Christmas Party, I made Mr. UT take me out early so I could get some drinks before going. Then at the party, I drank a lot of red wine. I got so drunk that I threw up on the way home, all over the cute skirt I was wearing. I passed out at home.

Was that fun?
I can't drink. 
I am thankful I came to that understanding before my life was ruined. 
I am a "yet".
Many horrible things have not happened to me, due to drinking..."yet".
But if I start drinking again, all bets are off.

Today, at my AA meeting, I once again heard stories of faith, courage, and love.
It takes a tremendous amount of faith and courage to get and stay sober.
I had to have a lot of faith that I could live without drinking. Courage to speak up and get help. I had to learn to love myself, and pass along that love to other people trying to get sober. 

I now realize that I must be grateful every day that I am sober.
I can't take this for granted.
This is my life, and today I choose a life full of hope, rather than a life filled with fear.
I choose a life filled with peace, rather than one filled with turmoil.

With a Warm Heart on Day 824,

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Emotional Hangovers

Dear Readers,
Lately, I have been re-learning how to deal with all my emotions. 
I never really learned as a child, and got stuck in my teenage years.
Almost like I had teenage glasses that colored how I dealt with the world and people as an adult.
Which doesn't work so well.

Anger, self-pity, resentments, fear, and jealousy are a few of the emotions I am learning to see though my adult eyes. 
How do I deal with these very strong emotions without drinking?
How do other people deal with them?
I have noticed that the longer I am sober, the better I am able to handle these emotions.
I have a chance to hit the pause button, and not just lash out or react.
Talking through issues calmly really helps, especially with someone who will listen.
Sometimes I even find the best advice on-line.

I am learning to challenge myself when it comes to these feelings.
I am learning to look a little deeper.
What are they telling me?

I know the negative feelings will pass.
I know I have to sit with them just for a minute.
I don't have to act on them right away, and maybe not at all.
Not drinking means I don't act out in the drunken e-mails, crying over the phone, and drunken anger.
I might have to take action on something, but only after my calm has returned.

Comparisons make me feel bad about myself. 
I tend to see all that I lack, or wish I was more out-going, or more popular, or a better writer, and on and on. I want people to like me. I know that most of my negative feelings stem from feeling not good enough. I sometimes seek constant reassurance.
On my emotional fragile days, I have a little bit harder time dealing with these feelings.

I come back to gratitude, because that is the one true thing that helps me change my focus from the negative to the positive.
I have so much.
I have a home and a loving husband.
I have a loving family and friends.

Taking positive action is another thing that helps me feel empowered.
If I feel left out by a friend, the best way I feel better is by texting a positive note to another person. Almost instantly, I feel better.
If I find myself always focused on one person, or one situation, it often means I am not living my life. I am living their life. 
Volunteering, reading and commenting on sober blogs, are other positive actions that help me feel better about myself. 

Self-compassion, self-acceptance, love and reaching out, are the hallmarks of my growth.
This is an on-going learning process, just as learning to stay sober is on-going.

This was my third sober Thanksgiving, and it was wonderful.
We went to my sister's home, and had a yummy dinner with some of my darling nieces and nephews!
There were ten adults, one baby, and five dogs!
Happy Thanksgiving!
The dogs were so funny! They were running around under the tables, popping up once in while, looking for a little snack. 
The really cool thing was, no one talked about political things. 

I love my sister and her children, and this was the feeling I chose to focus on.
There was wine, but there were AF drinks as well.
I had no feelings of wanting a drink and so happy I am not drinking.
I didn't get that yucky feeling of being tired and hungover.
I was downright perky!!

Today Mr. UT and I went for a walk, as it was another gorgeous day here!

With a Warm Heart,
On Day 814,

Monday, November 14, 2016

A Long and Winding Road

Golfing in November is Awesome!
Dear Readers,
Over two years ago, not only did I stop drinking, I had a cochlear implant.
I had also just retired from teaching the year before.
Three big changes, all at once!

I hope you can read my post about my cochlear implant if you haven't already,
It explains how much loss I experienced.
I lost the ability to "hear" music.
The post is called Something Lost, Something Gained.

Now that I can't hear much in my other ear, I am glad I had the operation. Without it I couldn't hear people talk, and that is very isolating.
My hearing got progressively worse as time went on, and it was one of the reasons I retired from teaching. I couldn't hear the children, the fire alarm, or the phone.

I still struggle to hear, and have to use closed caption when watching television.
I miss a lot of conversation in movies or at plays.
I miss conversations in yoga, and in any big room.

However, I am ever so grateful for being able to hear what I can.
I can even hear birds now! 

I have written before about grieving and loss. It is part of our human condition.
Some of my losses have been my co-workers, a place to belong, alcohol, and hearing and music.
I feel as if I am on the other side of my grieving for these losses.
They are still with me, but no longer so hurtful. 
But this took time. 
I had to cry, I had to be mad, I had to talk, I had to hug, but then I had to accept a new reality.
I had to move, and not stay stuck.

Many of us, in the early days of quitting drinking, write of the loss we feel.
It is a real loss, and not a loss to brush off.
For many of us, alcohol was our friend.
This was true for me.
But I have replaced the alcohol friend with real friends, and real experiences.
This helped me heal from the loss, and has made my life so much richer.

So I close with a quote I read from University of Washington:

Grieving such losses is important because it allows us to ‘free-up’ energy that is bound to the lost person, object, or experience—so that we might re-invest that energy elsewhere. Until we grieve effectively we are likely to find reinvesting difficult; a part of us remains tied to the past.
Grieving is not forgetting. Nor is it drowning in tears. Healthy grieving results in an ability to remember the importance of our loss—but with a newfound sense of peace, rather than searing pain.

With A Wish For Peace,
On Day 802,

Friday, November 4, 2016

Touched By Addiction

Dear Readers,
Today I have been sober for 27 months, or 792 days.
This makes me happy!
It makes Mr. UnTipsy happy, too!

Last night I was reminded of how many people have been affected by addiction.
I volunteered to help at a training session for people who want to learn about opioid addiction and how to administer a life-saving drug to help someone who has overdosed.
(You can read about it here.)

There were 16 people, and they ranged from college age to seniors.
There were nurses, students, moms, friends, and even one man who heard about this foundation on television and just came.

Every one in that room was addicted to something themselves, or had family or friends who had addictions.

One of the volunteers spoke about her son who died of a heroin overdose. 
She told of the pain of trying to get first responders to carry Naloxone, the drug that can help someone survive an overdose.
Another lady cried at the end of the session, and what she shared was deeply moving.
This was the first time she could talk about her husband, who died of an overdose, because of the stigma around drug addiction.
She cried because she didn't know what to say to her 8 year old child about his dad's death.

I am being awakened to the wide ranging problem of addiction of all of its forms.
It is an eye-opener for me. 
We as a nation struggle with addiction and yet the stigma and shame around it abounds.
It makes me sad.

I share my story as an alcoholic with people as I am not ashamed, but I sometimes try to be "funny" when I tell my story to make people more comfortable.
I rarely use the word alcoholic in general public, and say I have stopped drinking, or that I was drinking too much.

I hope and pray that one day we can really help people recover.
Not shame them, jail them, deny them housing, but to really put money forth to find solutions.

I am so happy I no longer drink.
I have peace of mind every day I wake up.
I have peace of mind every night I lay down.

With Much Love,
On Day 792,

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Living Right

Dear Readers,
Golfing in Fall!
Last weekend I went to a small dinner party with our closest friends, and for the first time, I didn't miss drinking!
Everyone else was drinking, and I didn't care.
It didn't bother me, and I didn't get pouty!
It was so freeing!

At my last AA meeting we discussed "right living". 
Right living for me means I keep honest about drinking. 
I had to be brutally honest with myself in order to quit drinking and look at how I was affecting not only my life, but the people I loved, especially Mr. UT.
It means telling on myself if I have a drinking thought.

Right Living means I get out of my own head and help someone else who might be struggling.
Sometimes that might be with drinking, but it might be with someone who is lonely.
The very best way for me to be less lonely is to help someone else.

Right living means, I take care of the things I need to.
It means something as simple as making my bed and doing the laundry.
It means managing my money.

Right living also means taking care of my needs, too.
It means I stop drinking too much coffee.
It means I do my exercise.

Now, this is not always easy for me, but it is getting better.
Volunteering is fun, but doing things around the house that need to be done, is not.
Taking care of myself is not easy.
I want to be lazy.
I want to sit around all day.

In recovery circles I hear the saying, "Do the next right thing". 
I like that.
It means taking responsibility for myself.
It means I give myself a gentle push to look at what I need to do to make my life and other people's lives a little bit better.

With a Big Hug,
On Day 786,

PS - Mr. UT and I read the book Detroit Muscle, by Jeff Vande Zande, after reading about it on Walking in Sober Boots, blog. The main character, Robby, has a drug addiction. I was unsure if I could relate to a guy who loves cars. But, after reading it, I realized Robby could be anybody, a guy or a girl, with an addiction. His family holds secrets, as many families with addictions do. 
As Robby tries to make amends, not everyone is ready to accept them. But the ending makes me hopeful that Robby will make it! 

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,