Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year!

Dear Readers,
This is my second sober New Year's Eve!
Last year I hosted a small gathering of friends. 
(You can read about it here.)
It turned out better than I thought! 
Well, not the food.

This year I am at peace with not drinking.
It is so calming to not have to think about drinking, how much I drank, what I said, what I did…oh the energy that took!

There are so many wonderful sober bloggers, whose advice is funny, true and full of love!
I thank each and every one of you.
Because as I see others make it, I know I can too.
We walk hand in hand, beside each other in this effort to get and stay sober.
As Prim said today, it is not easy to get sober and it is not a game.
It was the hardest thing I have ever done.

But now, I am reaping the benefits. 
And the most important one to me is peace of mind.
There is nothing that can replace the peace I have knowing I will wake up with no regrets over my drinking. 

I believe in accountability.
Without it, I would lie about my drinking.
It is too easy to say we want to be sober, but take no action.
The reason I tell people I don't drink is for me.
It takes away the shame and the lies.
It puts me in the light of truth.

We were not born to drink and die.
In big and small ways, I believe we are born to help other people.

There are many things I wish to change this year.
But when I look back over my older posts, I realize I have been working on the same things, and I still haven't made the changes I wish!
Oh well.
At least I don't have to start all over with a new list!

Happy New Year!
With Peace, Joy and Love,
Wendy 
On Day 453

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Why Did I Stop Drinking

Dear Readers,
So many people struggle with trying to stop drinking.
I was one of them.
It took me several years to first come to the acceptance I had to stop, and then trying to stop.
This was not easy.
Below is my story. It might be similar to your story.
I am sharing it in hopes it might help someone today.

I never thought I would grow up and develop a drinking problem.
I was an average Midwest girl who loved riding her bike, hanging out with friends, and reading.
I didn’t start to drink early in life. In fact, I didn’t drink until I was 20.
But when I did drink, it was a lot. I was a binge drinker from the very start.

There were alcoholics in the family, but I didn’t know that at the time.
My mother’s sisters, my father, and my grandfather, all had drinking problems.

I didn’t have an easy life health wise.
I suspect that some of my problems with drinking were a result of not knowing or learning how to cope with these issues.
I developed depression and anxiety.

I graduated with a teaching degree, married, moved, and found a teaching job in Minnesota.
I did not take life easily, and life didn’t make things easy either.
I was very sensitive.
I have a hearing loss and my speech is different because of the loss.
I also have almost no vision in one of my eyes, and it turns inwards.
Children made fun of me, and so did adults, asking, “Where did you come from?”
I wasn't able to have children.

I had no idea how to cope with the painful realities of life.
My drinking increased ever so slowly; with me having no idea it was happening.
I loved a good time, but felt ever so much better and funnier when I drank.
I would always be out for happy hours.
I loved talking to friends over a beer, and later wine.

It wasn’t until I was in my early 50’s that my drinking increased by bottles of wine.
It seemed it happened overnight.
I was staying out later and later at bars.
I did my lesson plans while drinking wine in bars.
Or martinis.
I often drove drunk.
I would drink too much at parties and throw up on the way home.
My husband and I were fighting over how much I was drinking.

I would run away to hotels after these fights.
Still drunk, I would buy more wine there.

Things were deteriorating quickly.
Teaching was getting harder, and I didn’t know how to cope with the demands.
I took life seriously, and when I couldn’t get every child reading on grade level I would get angry with myself.
I really did not like myself much. In fact, I hated my eye, my hearing loss, and my weight.
Drinking was the only way out for me.
I desperately wanted to escape.

School was out for the summer, and I started drinking at noon with friends and drank all day. I passed out at a friend’s house while in the bathroom.
She had to call the paramedics, who showed up with the police.
They knew me, because I worked in that city.
I was humiliated.
My husband had to take me to the hospital because he was unable to control me.

I decided to go into treatment for 30 days.
I went into an outpatient treatment center for four hours a day.
I tried AA.
By the next summer, I was drinking again.

It would take about 4 more years and more humiliation for me to face the fact that this was not working. When I drank I would wake up sweating, with horrible thirst. I would binge eat. I had bowel problems and sometimes couldn't make it to the toilet in time.
I was blacking out and hiding bottles.

I retired from teaching as soon as I could, but felt lost.
Now I could drink all day.
Alone.
The bartenders were my friends.
The liquor store clerks were my friends.

One afternoon I was going to meet a friend for lunch, and later a massage scheduled at my yoga studio. I had an extra hour, so I went to a bar to drink. At lunch, I had more wine. Then I went shopping, and by now I was slurry, and stopped at my favorite bar for more. 
The next thing I remembered is when I showed up at my yoga studio and I had no idea how I had gotten there. I was crying about being drunk and my yoga teachers tried to help me. They called my husband to drive me home. 
Later I learned, after looking at my checkbook, that I had stopped at another bar. I have no memories about this.
I had to stop.

But I knew I needed more help if I was going to be able to so this.
I also know trying to quit by myself would not work for me.
It was too easy to lie to myself.

I reached out to as many people as I could.
I started Belle's 100 Day Sober Challenge.
A yoga teacher connected me to a wonderful AA sponsor.
I went to meetings.
I went to Women For Sobriety meetings.
I started a blog.
I got a life coach and a therapist.
I told all of my family and friends that I was trying to get sober.
I had to keep myself in the light, because I knew there was darkness in my soul that would try to destroy me.

In everything I do, and with everyone I meet, I am open to learning.
I am learning about self-compassion.
I am learning how to take care of myself, and love the parts of me I deem unlovable.
I am learning that yes, life and people can be cruel, but they are also a source of beauty.
I am learning just how strong I am.
I am learning to be ever so thankful for all that I have.
I am learning how to help other people get sober.

My story is a story of love.
It is a story of being human.

Without the love of all the people around me, who never give up, who encourage me, who support me, I wouldn’t be writing this.

With Much Love,
Wendy

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Memories

Dear Readers,
Rice Park in St. Paul, MN
We went out to a Christmas dinner in the city of St. Paul. It was a very romantic restaurant located in an old mansion. The food was lovely and the company even better! We stopped by Rice Park in St. Paul to see the trees.
It was gorgeous!
(And COLD!)

This is my second Christmas sober. When I read my posts from last year, it seems as if I didn't have too hard of a time. I don't really remember. But this year has not been difficult, even though I have been out and about.

There are many drunk memories I'd like to forget, but there was one that came to mind when we were at the park.
Two years ago, at Christmas time, we went to a show in St. Paul. I had been drinking all day at home, and of course wanted more when we went out. I had more before the show, and in fact, I fell into the row, and couldn't get up, as I was that drunk.

I couldn't hear the words, so we left, and went to a restaurant where I ordered more to drink. I had a partial blackout, remembering bits and pieces. 

This is in the past. It's gone. But the lessons are there to teach me. And they are so simple. Drinking makes nothing better.
It adds no joy to my life. 
Sober Love
It adds no happiness to my life. 
No clarity. 
I am missing nothing, except humiliation and embarrassment. 

I can now look back at the drunk Wendy and hold her with love and compassion. She didn't know any other way. She did the best she could.
In fact, I am proud of her, because she never gave up. She kept trying to find a way out of the madness. 

This year, after our very short walk through the park, hubs found that he couldn't unlock the car. As I was freezing, jumping around like a kid, he gave up. He had to climb through the trunk, through the back seat, to finally get the car door open.
I SO wish I had a picture of him all dressed up, seeing nothing his legs and feet sticking out of the trunk. 

It was hilarious!
(Well, at least it was to me!)

With Love,
On Day 472

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Guest Post by Mr. UnTipsy

Dear Readers,
Below is another post written by Mr. UnTipsy:


A Matter of Trust: 

Would I come home and find my wife drunk again?  Would I get a call from one of her friends asking about her or expressing concern about her drinking?  Would I come home again to find her missing, with no idea of where she was or when she would be coming home?
I lived with these questions and concerns for a number of years, long enough that the feelings and worries became ingrained in my mind.

UnTipsy Teacher has been sober for over fifteen months now.  She has worked so very hard and I’m so proud of her strength and determination.  She has come so far despite several challenges including some health issues.  In the past she would have retreated to a drink or several drinks to “relieve” her stress.  Instead, now she faces those challenges straight on with a clear head and a great sense of humor.  Did I mention how proud I am?  Well I am.
Still, I find myself facing the same old worries from time to time.  If she is late returning home from an outing, I may feel a twinge of the old worries.  If she isn’t home when I return from work, my old concerns whisper to me, adding a bit of doubt.

Now I want to make this clear; UnTipsy Teacher has done nothing in the past fifteen months to warrant this reaction.  She has embraced her new found sobriety and is an inspiration to many of the people who know her.
No, these feelings and unfounded concerns are my fault, and I do my best to banish them as soon as they rear their ugly head.  I don’t voice them because they are unwarranted and unfounded.  I’m not sure how long these feelings will persist.  They have certainly diminished over the past year or so.  Yet every so often… there they are.

The fact that uncertainty still remains, shows just how deep the effects of over drinking can extend among friends and family.  While my occasional struggle with doubt is nothing compared to the struggle others face as they work to gain sobriety, it is still a hurdle that we face.

Over drinking is a problem that affects those surrounding the drinker as well as the problem drinker.  Like a pebble thrown into a pool, the ripples spread.  Trust isn’t a right, it must be earned but lost trust can be regained through actions and words of reassurance for both the person in recovery and their loved ones.  It doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time.

As the holiday season nears, it is a good time to remember why you’ve decided to stop drinking and recommit yourself to that path.  It is also a good time for folks like me to recommit ourselves to helping our loved ones with words of encouragement and trust.


Mr. UnTipsy Teacher

With Love On Day 465

Monday, December 7, 2015

15 Months and 3 Days


Tree is Up!
Dear Readers,
My cataract is gone, and I have a new lens in my eye.
I don't know exactly how much this surgery will help me with some of my vision problems, as some time will be needed to heal the eye. 
I did drive today, and I didn't run myself or anyone else off the road, and that's a good thing!
I still have light sensitively, which is a bit disappointing, but I am hoping this will get better.
It was the lack of depth perception that was really scary, and that seemed normal today!

The one thing I can see are ALL of my wrinkles and this I do not like! (Hubs gave me an ultimatum this weekend…"Stop talking about your wrinkles!" We know how this well this worked. Huh. How long have we been married?)

Today I went to an AA meeting, and I needed to see some real people. Being cooped up in the house is not fun if it's not my choice. So it felt like such a great freedom to drive myself around, and go out!  I am so very glad I went. These men and women are a supportive group that lets each person be himself/herself. And because I am a hugging kind of person, I can give and get a lot of hugs!! 

I try to be positive at these meetings, because drinking has caused so many people so much pain. When I share, even if it's part of my former pain, I want new people to see there is another way, and it's good. Many of the long term sober people do this, too. They share all the positive things that have happened to them once they turned away from the darkness of drinking. 

Life is good without drinking. 
In fact it's better, because I get the good stuff without the problems that come from drinking too much.
Yes, I can go out and have fun and not drink. 
Sober life is funny, it's crazy, and it's always interesting.
I laugh, I cry, I get mad, I hug, and I kiss hubs.
Especially now, as he just brought me dinner!!

On Day 459
XO
PS - I will start to catch up on your blogs tomorrow!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Post-Op

Dear Readers:
(A post op post. As dictated to Mr. Un-Tipsy)
I just wanted to take a moment to let you all know that my eye operation went very well.  I saw my doctor today for my post operation exam and he was very pleased with the results.  As soon as I get my new glasses I'll be able to type, post and drive again.   

Thank you for all of your good wishes and kind thoughts.  

With a new eye on Day 455.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Sweet Fur Love

Turkey, please!
Dear Readers,
This was my second sober Thanksgiving, and it was a sweet treat!
I saw some of my family, who live in another state; my sister, her husband, and some of my nephews and nieces.
I love them so much.
I met and held my new great-niece, so snuggly and cute.
And then of course, there were hugs and licks from the fur friends.
Dogs are important in my family.
We grew up with them, love them, and they hold a special place in our hearts.

Dogs have helped many of us heal.
Hubs and I had a dog, named Wolf, who helped me through a tough job situation, depression, and other medical issues. I used to walk for miles with Wolf. 
Wolf and Me

Although we don't have a dog now, we will when hubs retires. 

This Thanksgiving, sober, was calm, loving and warm. I have some social anxiety, but had none this time. In the past I always felt like I had to prove something to everybody. That I had to be funny, or cute, or dressed lovely, or anything other than just myself. 

I can get hyper in social situations. Drinking helped ease some of that, but of course, I would have more and more, and then I'd get obnoxious and loud. This year, I used breathing to help calm myself down. My Loved One talked me through my fears, and had me breathe. It really helped. Then I could relax and be there for my family. Including my fur family.

With Slobber and Love On Day 453

Friday, November 20, 2015

Hope

Dear Readers,
Last night my hubs and I went to the Christmas Carol play.
I couldn't hear any of the words, but I stayed for the whole performance.
Why?
Because it just brought joy to my heart. The costumes, and pageantry were beautiful.
The story is one of hope.

Hope is a word that is helping me through life.
I want to bring hope to people who are struggling with drinking.
There is a good life without drinking.
When I was drinking, I didn't always have hope.
I quickly went into a depressed state, where I couldn't see the joys I had right in front of me.

When things go wrong, as they will at times, if I can turn from the disappointment, or fears, and face things with the knowledge that things will be well, then I am stronger.
Life works out, one way or another, and I have very little control over most things.

But drinking took away that hope.
Drinking made me think there was only one way, and that way was defeat and fear.
Alcohol is a liar.
It promises you the world but robs you of everything.

My father-in-law is in a nursing home now, but he is safe.
Instead of getting so angry about the situation, I talked calmly with everyone, and brought some hope and peace to my husband.
This wouldn't have happened if I was still drinking.
I would have gotten drunk and angry and stayed that way.

My eye surgery is on December 2.
I have hope.
I will pray for my surgeon that all will go well.
It's all I can do.
It's out of my control.

If I were drinking, I would have gotten drunk last night, or tipsy, and cry over my inability to hear the play, and my eye problems.
It would have been "poor me" all night.

But I do have control over the way I approach life.
Today I choose not to drink.
And today I choose hope, a feeling of trust.

With Love on Day 442
Wendy

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Life on Day 433

Tonight by the Fire
Dear Readers,
I have now been sober for 433 days, or 14 months and 7 days. 
I love seeing the days add up! I think it gives me a sense of satisfaction. 
A sense that, yes, I am living a life without drinking.
In fact, a good life, a better than before life!
(It also means I am that many days older, and THAT does not always make me happy!)

Last night I found myself a little bit stressed and slightly crabby, although hubs would probably say a little bit more than a little. 

I have only one good eye.
My other eye sees some blurry shapes and colors.
My one good eye now has a cataract that has been growing and causing a great deal of problems for me.
Driving has been becoming harder, to the point that I can only go a few miles around by my house, even during the day.
It's very hard for me to read on the computer or see in anyplace with bright lights.
So I will be getting cataract surgery.
Now in my "bad" eye, I had cataract surgery to preserve the vision I do have.
But after that surgery, my retina fell off.

It was reattached, but I worry just a little bit.
Although complications are rare these days for cataract surgery, I do only have one seeing eye.
And bad things did happen to my other eye.
But I don't have a choice. 
I will have to take this risk.

We are also helping my husband's 87 year old father move out of his apartment this weekend. He lives in another state, and it's tough. He has some dementia and short term memory loss. He has a safer place to live now, but it's has been stressful. 

I wish I could say I am handling these life issues with grace and ease.
I am not. At least not all the time.
I get frustrated, angry, and overwhelmed.
I get worried.
And that is normal. 
What brings me peace, is that I am able to go on in spite of problems. 
I am able to talk out my feelings, write out my emotions, and change the ending to my story.

I could not do this while I was drinking. 
When I was drinking, I would get frustrated, angry, overwhelmed, and then stay that way.
Which led to more drinking.

So last night I did some writing and I reminded myself that I wanted to be cheerful for my hubs this weekend. For his father. To support both of them.
I wanted to approach life problems with grace, with understanding that I can get scared, and yet, I can go on, and be happy.

And then, I found this quote:


“Be of good cheer. Do not think of today's failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.”

― Helen Keller

With Love,
Wendy

Monday, November 2, 2015

Not Boring!

Dear Readers,
As I sit and write this, I am in awe of this autumn in Minnesota. It continues to be simply glorious. It is warm, sunny, with the bluest skies I have ever seen.
Knowing the cold is coming soon, I am soaking this up.

I had several more sober learning experiences this week.

The first was a surprise birthday dinner party, where out of eight women, I only knew the birthday girl. I met some of the women by myself at the bar, and I told them up front that I didn't drink. In fact, I made it a joke, saying I was the birthday girl's old, boring, not drinking person. Of course then I had to prove I wasn't boring! I was so comfortable not drinking, even though the other women had plenty of wine. I was just myself, and making an occasional joke that was funny.

Then, On Halloween night, my hubs and I had a fire in our outdoor fireplace on the driveway, as we waited for the kids to come.  My hubs got us dry ice, and we put it in our fuzzy grape juice. We had cheese, crackers, pumpkin cookies. The kids loved it, calling it the bonfire. 
Halloween With Dry Ice and Fuzzy Grape Juice!
What a fun night!

Alcohol would not have made either of these nights more enjoyable or happy. In fact, I know my hubs and I would end up arguing, and I would have been driving drunk. Instead I was funny, happy, and laughing.

I am finally understanding of the time needed to heal from drinking. 
Not only time for my body and brain to heal, but the learning that must go on to make the leap from drinking to happy sober, not just sober.

Waiting for the Kids 
With each new experience, I find I am gaining strength, with each day that passes I also gain strength.
Everything is so much calmer.
And I have to say, this truly is a miracle.

With Fun and Delight, 
On Day 424

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Who Is Your Hero?

Dear Readers,
Sometimes I wonder what to write, after having been blogging over a year.  But then I remember that writing this blog not only has helped me stop drinking, it might help someone else, too. At least that is my hope.
It's also healing. By writing down my thoughts, I have to clarify them, and sometimes I realize how mixed up all my thoughts are.
I don't have to have great words of wisdom, although I'd like to be able to write an occasional gold nugget here and there. 

I was looking back over my old posts, and came across this one I called, 
Be The Hero of Your Story:
Dear Readers,
I heard this on Dr. Phil. 
(I know. But I am retired!)

I love stories with a hero.

A person who saves the day.
Rescues the princess (or prince).
Who frees the animals from cages.

So, who is my hero?

It can ONLY be me.
I am the only person who can save me from 
Drinking too much.

I can get help from everyone,

I can get support and love,
But in the end,

It is me 


Who chooses to use that support and love.

Who chooses to take that help,
Who choses not to take that drink,
Who chooses to fight, 
To save me.

For some reason this one spoke to me today.
I have to laugh a little bit at my early writing, as it seems so simple to me now.
But, I am very proud of myself for continuing to blog.

I have to be responsible for taking care of myself and my life.
As soon as I see myself as a victim, I am on the losing side of a battle.
I certainly didn't pick having problems with alcohol, but I can't ever play the "poor me" card. Ever.
The way I was headed would have meant losing my dear husband.
I would have gotten at least one DUI.
I would have had financial troubles.
I would have ended up in the ER room again.

Today, I am trying to choose to see only what I have gained, what I have, and what I love.
Most of the times I succeed.
That's all I can ask of myself.

With Wonder Woman, On Day 420