Friday, July 31, 2015

Something Lost, Something Gained

My Cochlear Implant
Dear Readers,
Last November, I had a cochlear implant. 
I have had a hearing loss for most of my life, but over the last 10 years it declined very quickly.
I still use a hearing aid in my other ear, although it doesn't help much.

The implant helps me hear speech better, but it does not allow me to enjoy music.
This is nothing that can be learned.
It's how the implant works.
I used to play piano, sing, and play guitar.
I loved singing and playing with my students.
My ear before the implant had enough tones to hear melodies.

Now, I can't.
The implant doesn't let me understand melodies.
This has been the hardest thing for me to accept, and I can still cry about it if I think about it too much.
I know I should be glad I can hear speech better, and I am.
But music was a part of my soul.

I am linking a site to you here, that lets you hear what I hear when there is music.
My husband finally understood what I was feeling after listening to this.

I find myself going through the stages of grieving. 
I go back and forth between sadness and acceptance.

At first, when I stopped drinking, it felt like a loss. 
It still can when I'm in my low moods.
But the difference is, I am finding something else.
By not drinking I am finding a more active, happy life.

All through our lives we have to deal with losses; loved ones die, children leave home, pets die, we lose a physical ability, divorce, and so much more.
I am telling myself, there is no time table on grieving.
I don't have to be "happy" about my loss of not being able to hear music.
I can be happy for my speech, and sad about music.

I am not writing this because I feel particularity down today.
I am writing this to just explain a little bit more about me.
Retiring, stopping drinking, and my implant operation have been three big changes for me in the past year. 
When I put them together, I must give myself a little "You are doing okay, kid!"

With Hope on Day 330

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Lazy Summer Days

Baseball in Minneapolis! Go Twins!!

Eating out is Fun!
Dear Readers,
I have been a poor blogger friend lately!
(Thank you, Anne for spurring me on!)
I have been letting summer take over my brain, and my thinking has slowed down.
If I have the choice of writing a post or playing a computer game…well.
However, I haven't been a complete slug!

I had the honor of meeting a delightful sober blooger, A Rewarding Life, at a cool coffee shop.
We shared our stories of life and sobriety, of loss and of love.

Also, this week, I tried kayaking on one of our lovely city lakes. I know how to canoe, so after a little bit, I felt comfortable. It was a calm, peaceful day. I really loved it.

Summer is a wonderful place to be here in Minnesota, as we know the cold will be coming.
It's a time to have deck nights, go to baseball games, eat at outdoor cafes, bike, and hike.
Sometimes, it just might be naps, or reading a book.
I have been doing this all.

This week I was recounting some of my funny and not-so-funny drinking times to some close friends. We were having drinks on a patio outdoors, wine for them, AF beer for me.
It helps to keep remembering why I am choosing not to drink.
It wasn't a matter of just drinking a little bit too much once in awhile.

As long as I don't think about whether I am happier not drinking, then I am.
As soon as I start to analyze it, I get anxious, and start to wonder.
It really is better for me to just stay in the moment happy.
To just not drink today.

But in the end, I have to ask myself, am I happier in the long run not drinking?
I know I am.
So is my husband.
Sometimes, doing the right thing, doing the hard thing, will lead to a happier life.

With Sunshine on Day 327

Friday, July 17, 2015

Exploring Life on Day 316

Dear Readers,
Riding City Bikes by the Mississippi

As I think about my life before I started drinking heavily, it was filled with outside fun. I never thought twice about going for a long bike ride, camping, skiing, and just being outside.
(Granted I was younger!)

As I started to internalize stress, and my drinking increased, my fun factor was shrinking.
Instead of going outside, I went to bars.
Instead of going for a hike on Sunday, I would go to a late lunch with my hubby just to get a drink.
Or several.
We started to fight over how much I was drinking on the weekends. I wanted a drink even before I had wine with dinner. I had to have it.
If I couldn't get it, I'd pout.
What happened to the fun-loving outside girl I knew?

Now I am exploring life again.
It might not be as fast or hard as when I was younger, but I am learning to be true to myself.
There is such freedom in this.

Last weekend, we rented green city bikes and rode by the Mississippi River.
Donut Love!
We walked over bridges.
We stopped at a local donut shop.

These are the things that cheer me, that make life full. 
Drinking never filled my soul the way this simple Sunday did.

To All My Friends in Recovery: Thank you.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

There Isn't a Quick Fix

Dear Readers,
I am good.
I am sober and blessed with good people and things in my life.
I don't have to worry about going hungry, or having a place to live, having clean water, or war.
The only thing I have to worry about are my own thoughts and feelings, not only about not drinking, but life in general.
My thoughts can make or break me.
I can rejoice in what I have, or get dejected because of what I wish I had.

My thoughts around being sober are mostly good. 
I can still feel sorry for myself from time to time, especially at dinner parties.
Instead of praying for those feelings to go away, I was told by a wonderful long-term AA member to pray for acceptance of those feelings. 
It seems like a paradox, but by asking for acceptance, I think I am saying my feelings and thoughts are valid, but changeable.
If I get angry and yell at them to go away, I am denying how I feel.
But I don't want to get stuck wallowing in self-pity.
All I can do is state how I feel, and ask for help.
All I can do is vocalize my thoughts and see if they match reality.

This same kind gentleman assures me it will get better with time.
I told him I'd give him 5 years, and he better be right!

Can I trust that the process is the solution?*
I can't have all the answers right away.
Can I trust that by showing up, reading, listening, laughing and praying, things will get better?
If I reach out, I will get help.
But it still is a process.
Processes take time.

I saw this saying today by Nancy Leven:

Honor the space
between no longer
and not yet.

And this is what I will do.
Honor this space, this process, knowing that if I continue on this path, I am healing and all will be well.

With Love On Day 313

*(From the book Love Idol, by Jennifer Dukes Lee)

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Fourth of July!

Dear Readers,
Here is a WONDERFUL post for 4th of July from UnPickled!
Called Your Own Personal Independence Day!
If you are still trying to get or stay sober on this holiday, read her post!!
Mine is nice, but not that helpful!!

Guess what the five top drinking holidays are in the US?

1. New Year's Eve
2. Christmas
3. Fourth of July
4. St. Patrick's Day
5. Thanksgiving

I got this information from a short article in Netscape.
I do know that between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, Americans spend the most money on alcohol. It's like a party for two months!

None of this information surprises me.

I do wonder how many people drink more than they will admit.
Or dismiss problem drinking as, "everybody drinks too much at parties and holidays".
Or at ball games, or just after putting kids to sleep, or after a hard days work, or on weekends…

From Psych Central:

  • Problem drinkers and alcoholics love the holidays because there are more social occasions to drink. They say they feel more “normal” because the occasional drinkers are also more likely to abuse alcohol during this time of year. Consequently, people with alcoholism drink and drive more frequently. Unlike occasional drinkers, they have a high tolerance for alcohol and can consume large amounts before showing effects.
This was so true for me. I never realized it until I read it today. All the social drinkers would drink more, so that meant I could drink a lot more. This was true for me at weddings, parties, or anytime people were drinking! 

Yesterday my hubby had off. 
We went golfing, went out to eat for breakfast, walking around a downtown lake, and went to fireworks! I was so tired!
Today I am hanging in while he does lawn work.
Then it's off to a party with close friends. 
This is the first time I am not anxious about not drinking or being around wine at a small party. It is becoming a normal part of my life. I am a warm, loving person without it. Maybe not rowdy, drunk fun, but still fun.

Love on Day 303

Friday, July 3, 2015

Gifts on Day 302

Dear Readers, 
On Wednesday, I woke up to a surprise! My dear Loved One left me a lovely present and note on the table, for my 300 days! 

But, every day I stay sober I receive gifts, not of the material kind, but of another kind.

The biggest gift of all is peace of mind. 

Life is hard enough without making it harder for myself.
This week I watched a young lady cry at our AA meeting. She keeps relapsing and was in such pain. At 13 days, her boyfriend told her he would not stay with her if she drank again.
That pain is what I will feel if I drink again.

There would be drunk calls and emails, drunk crying and fighting, and drunk driving.
The peace of mind I have knowing I don't do this anymore is something I love.

Learning to deal with life as it comes, with real emotions, not running away or escaping, is another wonderful gift. This means I am growing in my emotional maturity. 

I can see things clearer more often now. I give my love easily, but I am learning not everyone wants my love. Or needs it.
I am more accepting of that. I might be hurt, but most of the time, no one does it on purpose. I am learning to step back and see things from a different perspective. 

I love the gift of helping other people, and I am learning to do this by just showing up. When I go to a meeting or post a comment on a blog, I am not only giving a gift, but I am receiving one. I can't explain this, I just know it.

Recovery is showing me many gifts, and all I need to do is be open to accept them!
With Peace on Day 302