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,