Tuesday, October 17, 2017

"Jet Er Nok" ; I am Enough

Dear Readers,

"It's not the world that has changed, it's me that has changed." - Heard at a meeting

When I read all the sober bloggers, and think about my friends, family, and myself, I notice one of our underlying human themes is that we are not enough.
We cannot accept who are, always striving for more, wanting more, comparing ourselves, grasping.

I used to be so angry at myself for not being thin, for not being a better teacher, for not having more friends, for not being a better singer, for anything.
I used to not accept who I was.
There were times I hated myself.

It really is only since I have been in recovery for my drinking, going to AA, reading sober blogs, finding a good therapist, and finding a recovery group on Twitter, that I have slowly turned this around. I am learning about self-compassion. 

Recovery has allowed me to learn to be kind to myself. This is new to me. After all the hate and anger at myself and my body, I am learning to treat myself nicely. With love.

Recovery has allowed me to focus on what I have, not what I don't have.
Being grateful is one of the most important lessons I have learned to help me connect with my inner loving spirit.

Recovery has meant I realize I am part of the human race, and all of us suffer. 
Every human in the whole world has felt rejected, hurt, or have made bad choices.
When I forget that, I get focused only on me, my problems, and poor me.

I am learning my negative thoughts are not true. I can observe them, but not believe them.
Being kind to myself means I can be kind to other people. Forgiving myself means I can forgive others. 
I Love This Guy!

The world continues on, with good and bad things. People continue to hurt each other, and be kind to each other. Nothing has changed.
But I have. 

I do not hate myself anymore.
I am not perfect, but human.
I am enough.

With Loving Thoughts,
On Day 1,138,

Wendy


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

I Sing Red Leaves

Dear Readers,
I will be 37 months sober on October 4.
There is nothing I am more grateful for than being sober today.

Mr. UT and I thank you all so very much for your kind words, love, and prayers!

The good news is the lung doctor does not think I have any lung disease. He said the ER radiologist "over-read" the chest X-ray.
I will have a CT scan, and he will wait until he sees that to make final decision, but hubs and I are 80% hopeful!
Of course, we will still have to figure out what is going on with my breathing, but at least it seems we have eliminated all of the major bad things! 
It was a lesson learned, to wait until I have more information before I freak out.

Which is the hardest thing in the world for me...to stay present, and not project into the future.
The future is fantasy. 
I can plan for it, but how it turns out is out of my control.
I can plan trips, save money, look forward to spending time with hubs, but in the end, I know trips might be canceled, money spent elsewhere, and hubs might have to work longer than I thought.
I just don't know.

What I do know is, I want to be aware of the here and now. 
I want to pay attention to things that matter. 
I want to check up on friends and family and make sure they know they are loved.
To be sure hubs knows how much I appreciate him and all that he does for me.
To really listen to people before I jump in to offer advice.
To be grateful I have a roof and food today.
To make the bed and do the dishes.
To embrace the rainy and the sunshine day.
To say thank you to people.
To smile.
To be my highest self, today, right now.

I wrote a poem last week, when I was feeling a bit down about not being able to hear music. 
But I am so grateful I was able to get a cochlear implant so I can hear words. I can talk to people! What a wonderful invention! How lucky and grateful I am that I have health insurance that paid for this.
I have hope that someday the makers of the implant can make better software so I can hear music again, but if not?
I am still grateful. 
From One of My Many Walks!

I Sing Red Leaves

There is no music left in my ears,

There are only strange noises, 
That come out of the radio,
Like sticks banging and alien songs.

There is no music in my guitar,

Or piano anymore,
They don't speak to me in a
Language I understand.

Some days I cry,

Some days I can accept,
That my music lies somewhere else,
That my songs are of a different color.

Not deaf to all,

I hear music of good things,
I hear the beauty of nature,
I hear the sweet touches from my love.

Not deaf to the songs, 

That still sing in my head.

Can I not sing these in gratitude,

To all that I have?

I sing red leaves and blue sky,

I sing love and memories,
Some days I cry,
Some days I say yes.


With Hope and Love, 
On Day 1,124,
Wendy

PS - My friend in recovery, Dan Maurer, who writes the Transformation is Real, on FB, is also an author. He has a new book out, called Endure: The Power of Spiritual Assets for Resilience to Trauma & Stressthat I have read. bit.ly/ENDURE-Book


It's a beautiful book, with stories of people who have gone through different traumas and yet, are resilient.  In the book, Dan reminds us to focus on spiritual assets that will help with the stress; honesty, acceptance, gratitude, hope, faith and love.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Broken Body

Dear Readers,
My body just doesn't want to give me a break.
I have been struggling with breathing issues, which over the last 6 months have gotten worse.
I can't catch my breath if I do anything physical, even sometimes just doing the laundry is really hard.
The last time I played golf with a friend, I was gasping for air.
My primary doctor said I had asthma, then she said it's not asthma. She had my heart checked, and that was okay.

I haven't been able to do yoga, and kept having to leave because of not being able to breathe.
Last Monday night, I had to go to the ER after I left yoga because I couldn't catch my breath.
What they found on my chest x ray is that I have emphysema and fibrotic changes in the lungs.
So on Monday I will be going into see a lung doctor.

I have never smoked.
Of course, when I read about these lung problems on Google, I get even more upset.

It's been heavy week. My emotions are all over the place. I know I have no choice but to accept this, but it is scary none the less. 

I have made it through many health problems.  I know I will live with this one. But in the meantime, all I want to do is cry.


With Much Love,
On Day 1,119,
Wendy

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Color of Sobriety

Dear Readers,
Sunset on Garden Lake, Ely MN

Fall is here, and although the temperatures are still rather warm, you can feel it in the air, feel the light changes, see the changes in the leaves, and even smell it.

Fall brings both beauty and anxiety for me.
For with the beauty of the fall leaves, and cool crisp air, also comes anxiety of the dark days, and low light that bring on low energy and depression.

Perhaps it's my mood today, although I feel good, maybe I'm just in a reflective mood.

Life is colors for me. I color things in my mind, see emotions in color, and breathe colors in and out.
Blue is the color that beings me the most peace. It's my protective color, and when I wear blue, or see blue, it's calming. 
Grey is my depression color.

Yesterday, I met a woman who looked sad. She was smiling, but I could see pain in her body and face.
Later I found out her son was in treatment for the 15th time. 
I felt so sad for her. I wished hope for her and her son.
I think that colored my world a little grey. 

My past drinking did not just affect me, but everyone around me. Even people I did not know, such as the clerks in quick shop stores, where I'd go and buy a bunch of junk food after drinking. They must have known I was drunk, and who knows how that affected their day, perhaps they went home feeling a little grey.

Addiction was stealing everything that was good in me. It was stealing my vibrancy, my joy, my love. It was stealing my happiness, my creativity, my empathy. 
Golfing! 

And in place of the goodness, my drinking was giving me pain, anger, resentments, judgments, and selfishness. 

My addiction to alcohol was bringing my marriage a great deal of grey. It was eroding all the good things between hubs and I. My recovery has meant the return of the calmness of blue.
We are happier now, and I like happy. 

With Much Love,
Wendy

Monday, September 4, 2017

3 Years!

Dear Readers, 
On September 4, I will be sober for three years.

For over 15 years we have gone up north to a cabin with several sets of friends, where we canoe, hike, and swim. It's beautiful up here with the lake, the woods, and huge rocks. 

But this is also a hard weekend for me.

I have a difficult time with my social anxiety, because there are many people, and I struggle to hear. 

It is also a big drinking weekend. 
In the last few years, before I stopped drinking, I would get very drunk. I would sneak wine, I would get very moody, trip over things, and isolate a lot. I tried to use drinking to deal with my social anxiety.

The first two times I came up here sober, seeing all the wine bottles, and other drinks, made me very anxious.
This year, at 3 years, was much better, and I had few worries around other people drinking. 

I wish I had wisdom for everyone about how to stop drinking and be happy.
I was reminded in a post by Primwho has been sober for about 4 years, about the decisions we need to make to get and stay sober.

I thought about that, and looked at the choices I had to make each day to be sober today.
After my last slip, I had to make that hard choice...do I continue this unhappiness, or do I stop.
Day after day, I had to make choices, or decisions about drinking or not drinking, about reaching out for support or keeping a secret. 
Day after day, I had to make a choice about facing life with a poor me attitude, or one of gratitude. 
I had to make the choice of staying sober, or driving drunk. 
So many choices, so many decisions, but I kept choosing the one that brought me peace of mind.

Slowly and surely, time passed, and here I am.
I never want to go back to the pain I experienced when I was drinking.
I do not want to bring that pain back to my husband.

I do want to continue being happy that I stopped. I have more joy and life now.
Do I have problems? Of course, and I shutter to think about how I would handle them if I were still drinking.

This is a process, and it is on-going. The life-giving choices of not drinking are much easier today. But the thoughts of drinking are still with me. Recently I was driving by myself about an hour from my home, and I was going to be gone all day. I felt free driving by myself.
I passed several places that whispered to me to come and stop and have a drink. No one would know.
I made the choice to keep driving past, reminding myself that the addiction voice is strong.
It's why I choose to continue to write, to read, to go to meetings, to help other people in recovery.

Life is better sober. 
It's really as simple as that.

Thank you to all of those who are on this path with me, because I truly can not do this alone.

With Love,  On 3 Years, or 1,095 Days.
Wendy

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Hope

Dear Readers,
Addiction is tough. It kept me lost, and in denial for many years.
I refused to believe I had a problem. I refused to believe that I couldn't moderate.
I refused to believe my husband who told me I had to stop drinking.
Even after having to go to the hospital after drinking all day, and passing out, I refused to believe I had a problem.
Even after coming home drunk, falling down that stairs, I refused to believe I had a problem.
Even after falling down at a broadway play, I refused to believe I had a problem.

I am not sure why one day I was able to stop, why one day I was sober for another day, or why one day I had hope.
I had hope I could keep going.
I had hope that things would get better, that cravings would stop, that I wouldn't feel so strange at parties, that life would seem less difficult.

I had hope that I could find the pieces I had missing inside of me, that I would find my way back to Wendy, or discover a new part of me. 

And these things are happening. 
I am finding my way back home. 
I am no longer in denial, and I have hope that each day something good will happen. 

I have met so many people who are in recovery from both drugs and alcohol, and each one of them teach me something, each one shows me what hope looks like. Their lives all have hope, an expectation that things will be okay. They show me what hope looks like, even when things are overwhelmingly hard.

They take life as they do recovery, one day, one moment at a time.
They teach me that hope and gratitude go hand in hand. They are so grateful for all they have even if they have little, grateful for all the good things that happen in a day.

I have hope now. I had lost that when I was drinking. 
There is hope for everyone who is struggling. 
I often hear people say, "We can and do recover."
I see that every day. I read blogs that show me this every day.

I close with this quote, from a poet who writes children's poems, one I often read to my students when I was teaching.

Listen to the mustn't, child. 
Listen to the don'ts. 
Listen to the shouldn't, the impossibles, the won'ts. 
Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me... 
Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.” 

With Hope, Love and Gratitude,
On Day 1,087,
Wendy

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