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,

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,