Friday, April 14, 2017

Communication by Mr. UT

Communication

Why is it so hard to talk with a loved one about their drinking problem?

Mrs. Un-Tipsy and I talk a lot, about a lot of things.  Truth be told, she does most of the talking, but I do listen, and I’m usually not shy about giving my opinion or view point.  However; I admit that when it came to her drinking problem I was at a loss as to what to say or if I should say anything at all.

We had our share of arguments about her drinking and what it was doing to our lives.  When I found hidden bottles of wine in the house I didn’t know the right way to approach her about it.  Should I yell or should I ignore it?  If I ignored it was I enabling her?  If I yelled was I just driving her away?  It was difficult to sit down and have a conversation without it ending in a fight.  She was in denial and I was frustrated, mad and hurt.  I felt helpless and that was not a feeling I was used to.  Understanding her addiction was difficult.  Why was she putting herself and our future at risk?  Why couldn’t she see what was happening and what it was leading to? Talking about it with her was a struggle for me.  I was always uncertain about what to say or how to say it.  I didn’t want to drive her away but I couldn’t let her ruin her life without a fight.  When she finally stopped drinking I was elated and scared.  I didn’t know how much to praise her about her decision and her progress.  I wanted to show support and offer as much help as she wanted or needed.  But was I doing it too much?  Were my offers of praise helpful or was I just bringing it up too often and reminding her of her past drinking?

Mrs. Un-Tipsy is a very strong woman, despite her occasional doubts.   She is unafraid of introspection and what she might find there.  She has used this introspection to gain understanding and help her continued sobriety.  I on the other hand have a very limited capacity for introspection.  Perhaps it’s a man thing or the way I was raised but I have a simple straight forward view of life and my place in it.  So I am impressed at how much Mrs. Un-Tipsy is willing to continue to look into herself and search for answers and strength.  But was it my lack of introspection that made communication difficult?  In the past, this difference of viewpoints contributed to my hesitation to talk about her addition.  Even today when I read Mrs. Un-Tipsy’s posts I sometimes learn new things about her struggles in the past and in the present.  With each new revelation I have a bit more understanding about the depth of her struggle and her strength.  I’m sometimes brought to the brink of tears reading of the pain she went through. 

Should I tell her again how proud I am of her or is it too much?  That question can only be answered by the person working on their sobriety.  As you struggle with your addiction remember to communicate with your family, friends and other loved ones.  They want to help but sometimes they just don’t know how.  Let them know what they can do to make your struggle a little bit easier.


Mr. Un-Tipsy

PS -  From Wendy: If you want the perceptive of a loved one who lives with someone with an addiction, please read this beautiful blog Real Life 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Gifts of Sobriety On 31 Months

New Saw, Happy Guy!
Dear Readers,
Mr. UT has been busy working on a house project. 
I am so grateful to be married to a guy who cooks, cleans, builds, fixes, mows, and makes coffee every morning. 
(He is banned from doing laundry, however!)
Not sure how I got so lucky!

On April 4th, I was 31 months sober.
I continue to be mindful of the gifts that being sober brings.

This is not passive, but an active awareness of all of the good things being sober is bringing to my life.
I have to be open to receiving these gifts, and I have to be active in my self-growth to pass along gifts to others.
These gifts are endless, and they continue to bless me each day.

The gift of being grateful, in all areas of my life, has opened up to me since I have been sober.
I didn't have this gift before, never knew it really existed.
To be able to find a reason to be thankful in almost any situation, is changing my life.
I have the choice of being resentful, or being grateful. 
When I choose resentment, or self-pity I am choosing to be unhappy.
When I choose to be grateful, I am choosing contentment.

The gift of freedom, means I can live my life in an open, loving way.
It means I have peace of mind.
I can open my eyes each morning, and I know I didn't hurt anyone because of my drinking.
It means I no longer hide who I am.
It means I can share myself fully.

I am learning to accept the gift of living life as it is, not as I want it to be.
Drinking made me want everything to be different, and filled me with resentments, anger, and envy.
Acceptance brings me peace.
I can let my life flow and not fight it at every turn. It's exhausting to be fighting life.
I am learning to accept that other people's lives are theirs, not mine to try to control.

Life has problems, and now I have the gift of learning how to work with these problems rather than over-reacting to them, running away from them, or numbing myself.
I still tend to over-react at first, but then quickly settle into an acceptance or problem-solving mode. I am able to help those around me by having this gift. 

I talk a lot about breathing, and I credit my yoga practice for opening this gift to me.
Breathing helps calm me.
I breathe through problems, both mental and physical ones.
When I there is a body part hurting, breathing into that body part relaxes it, and helps it heal.
When I am struggling mentally, if I breathe into the feelings, it relaxes the tight hold that feeling has on me.
Breathing helps me relax into my daily life.
I breathe in love and joy, breath out anger and resentments.

These are only a few of my gifts.
Big gifts, small gifts, are there for me if I choose.
Today I choose them.

With The Gift of Love,
On Day 948,
Wendy

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Isolation, Loneliness, and Sobriety

Dear Readers,
It is now proven that isolation hurts us. It makes us sick, depressed, and in some cases leads to death.
Some people are isolated due to a number of issues, some of which can't be changed, such as health problems or being unable to find transportation to get out and about.

Other people isolate themselves.
There are times I isolate myself, especially when I am sick or depressed.
Which ironically makes me more sick and depressed.

When I was drinking, I sometimes drank with friends. 

Sometimes I would drink alone at a bar, but felt "connected " with the bartender or other drinking strangers. 
But at other times, I would buy a bottle and drink alone at home. 

When I isolate myself now, I feel very lonely. I sometimes feel very lonely in a crowd, too.
Loneliness is a feeling that will wash over me.

Being retired contributes to isolation and my feelings of loneliness. 
I no longer have that built in community with my fellow teachers and students.
Also, I do not live near my family members, so I do not have that loving community.

When I feel lonely in a crowd, it is because I feel left out, or I feel different in some way.
This leads me to isolation as well.
However, I am growing up, and I have been learning how to be an adult living in an adult world.
If I can accept that I am really just fine being Wendy, that I don't have to be the life of the party, (not that I ever was), I am calmer, and can navigate social situations better.

I am working hard to breathe through the loneliness, not just ignore it, or say it's wrong or unimportant.
It's telling me something.
It means I am missing the human connections I need.

I am working hard to find ways to make fun and meaningful connections with people.
Volunteering has helped.
I feel very fulfilled after my time of helping people.
I have also found some lovely souls in the recovery community.

I make "playdates" with other teachers, going for walks or having coffee.
My yoga community helps too. 
I am working on keeping up with my oldest and dearest friends, because I can get lazy at times, and I put off calling them. 

Blogging helps me connect with people. When I read blogs, and leave comments, I know that somewhere out there, other people understand and care.

The most important step I can do to help myself when I feel lonely is to reach out to other people.
It's hard at times, because sometimes it feels as if I am the only one doing the reaching.
My adult self now understands that many people have much more going on in their lives than I do.
There are other people who are thrilled I reached out to them.

For my continued recovery, as well as having a happy life, I must keep reaching out, and keep myself from being isolated.
It helps other people, and it keeps the loneliness away for both of us.
I can't sink into the "poor me" place, as that is a lifeless place to be.

Sobriety is such a gift.
I don't want to waste it, or throw it away by shutting myself away in my house.
Being sober has made me happier, and I want to pass that along to other people, as others before me have passed it along to me.
I want to continue to see the little surprises that are happening along the way, little boxes of joy that open to my delight!

With Loving Thoughts,
On Day 946,
Wendy

PS - This week, I focused on loving my body. 
I had another cold, but I was so kind to my hard-working body.
It fought the cold, and today I was able to go to yoga!
Happy, happy, happy!
I also treated it to a pedicure and now I have lovely blue toenails!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Body Anger, Body Acceptance

Dear Readers,
Last week I was angry at my body.
I was angry it gets sick so much. 
I was angry it hurts a lot.
I was angry it stopped hearing.
I was angry it can't do yoga everyday.
I was angry I can only see out of one eye.
I was angry at my dry eyes, that I can't drive far on many days.
I was angry at it for all the past surgeries I had to have, for all the diseases I have had.

I am on my thin side these days, but I have been very heavy in my past.
In fact, and this is hard for me to admit, I used to hit my body because I hated it for being heavy.

I was expressing this anger to a friend, and she stopped me.
Here is when I accept my body. I can dance, I can hear the beat of the music.
She reminded me of all the things my body can do.
I can walk with my feet.
I can do yoga several times a week.
I can type.
I can see with my eye.
My brain can hear with my implant.
I can hug with my arms.
I can make the bed.
I can eat.

I can move.
I can love.
I can make love.

Since when did I think life is easy, that I will never have pain?
Why am I comparing my body to other people's bodies?
Why am I asking so much from my body, that it be perfect?

As I was searching on-line about being sick and still loving your body, I ran across this article, that has some wonderful messages in it...

"This self-criticism is not only painful but also tremendously wrong. My body’s job isn’t to meet anyone’s expectations — not even my own, really. Its job is to give my soul a way to live on this earth. My soul is here, and it likes the world, and that’s success. My body is a success. My body is successful."

"The body also provides a basic link to the deeply physical nature of life. There’s a reason humans are not bodiless souls floating around (metaphorically) in a purely cerebral existence. We are intrinsically physical creatures, designed for lives full of physical joys and adventures and sensations that can only be experienced through the body. We have eyes to see, ears to hear, tongues to taste, and skin to feel the difference between silk and sandpaper and a summer breeze."

Yesterday in yoga, I kept repeating to myself, "Thank you, body."
It really helped me feel stronger, moving slowly towards acceptance.

My body works so hard.
Today, I say, "Thank you, body. Thank you for helping me type this post. Thank you for healing me from my addiction. Thank you for helping me live."

With So Much Love,
On Day 939,
Wendy

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A Strong Craving

Dear Readers,
Last Saturday, in the middle of my yoga class, I had an intense craving.
I haven't had one of these for a long while, so it surprised me.
I couldn't dismiss it right away, it kept popping up during yoga!
It very specific, tied to a cute wine bar in a trendy shopping area, where I used to go drinking before I would shop.
On Saturday, I had something to return in that shopping area.
So it makes some sense that I had an urge, except I have been to this area many times with no urges.
I was also very tired and was sick, and I wonder if that had something to do with the craving.

I have learned to never hide these strong urges or cravings, even if I don't have them very often.
In my AA, a man with many years sober, told of having an intense craving himself.
That shows me they can pop up even after a long time sober.

The disconcerting thing about this urge is that I kept entertaining the thought for a little while.
It shows me once again, how powerful addiction is. 
It hijacks my brain. It's tied to memories, tied to feelings, tied to people and places. 
It is even tied to my body, being tired and sick.

I am so grateful I do not suffer from many strong cravings anymore.
But I also know I must never take my recovery for granted.

The craving went away by the end of class.
I told Mr. UT, and he and I went together to return my item.

Here are some coping strategies I have used when I have had urges, taken from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism:
  • 1. Remind yourself of your reasons for making a change. Carry your top reasons on a wallet card or in an electronic message that you can access easily, such as a mobile phone notepad entry or a saved email. 

  • 2. Talk it through with someone you trust. Have a trusted friend on standby for a phone call, or bring one along to high-risk situations.

  • 3. Distract yourself with a healthy, alternative activity. For different situations, come up with engaging short, mid-range, and longer options, like texting or calling someone, watching short online videos, lifting weights to music, showering, meditating, taking a walk, or doing a hobby.

  • 4. Challenge the thought that drives the urge. Stop it, analyze the error in it, and replace it. Example: "It couldn't hurt to have one little drink. WAIT a minute—what am I thinking? One could hurt, as I've seen 'just one' lead to lots more. I am sticking with my choice not to drink."

  • 5. Ride it out without giving in. Instead of fighting an urge, accept it as normal and temporary. As you ride it out, keep in mind that it will soon crest like an ocean wave and pass.

  • 6. Leave high-risk situations quickly and gracefully. It helps to plan your escape in advance.

I am sending a prayer of peace of mind for anyone who is suffering with cravings today.

With Much Love,
On Day 936
Wendy

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

No Longer Hostage

On Our Walk...The Beauty that Fills my Spirit
Dear Readers,
Alcohol was bankrupting me emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
It was holding me hostage, and slowly strangling me.
My goodness was being eroded, my growth stopped.

It was not the solution to the problems I thought it would be.
It did not give me courage, in fact, it made me more fearful.
It did not make me brave, instead it made me a coward.
It did not give me confidence.
It did not make me pretty, nor a better teacher, nor richer.
It did not make me happier in any area of my life.

It did not make me a better wife, sister, daughter, or aunt.
It did not make me think clearer.
It did not make me wiser or stronger.
It did not make me kinder, and instead made me angry and bitter, full of resentments.
It did not make me feel less lonely.

It just stopped me dead in my tracks. 
I could not move forward in anyway until I stopped drinking.
Only since I stopped drinking have I been able to look at myself with less delusions, and with more honesty and clarity.

I believe we are all connected in this life. When I feel different, or feed into my self-pity, I lose that connection. Everyone has times of feeling different, feeling fear and anger.
As soon as I set myself apart from this understanding, or as soon as I see my problems as worse than another person, I suffer.
I suffer because I fail to understand the much bigger picture of life.
We need each other, and we need to forgive ourselves and others.
We need to support each other, because no one can do life alone.
My 91 Year Old Mother, Still Strong and Lovely

Today at my AA meeting, I had an intense feeling of being connected to my fellow humans who struggle with the same things I do. I saw more in common than I did differences.
All ages, races, genders have the same human struggles.

Today, I am living and loving my life sober.
More often, I am able to forgive myself for my mistakes, and let go of my perceived mistakes.
I am learning that there is no perfection, not for myself, not for other people.
Now, I am able to give freely of myself, not only to other people, but also to myself.

With Joy and Love,
On Day 929,
Wendy

PS - We just went to Boise, Idaho, to visit my mom, who lives with my brother and sister-in-law. This visit filled me with so much love.



Friday, March 3, 2017

Obstacles

Dear Readers,
I just am so thankful for this on-line healing community.
Thank you for your support. I know if I post something here, I have a world of people holding my hand.
I truly love all of you for sharing your strength with me.
My depression has lifted, and although I am still sick, I feel un-stuck and ready to go!

I am so thankful for my hubs, who loves and cares for me in a way I can't even describe.
We met in 11th grade of high school, and dated steady until we got married.
That's a long time of loving.

I thought of this topic for awhile, and wondered what held me back from getting help for myself sooner.

Of course, my biggest obstacle was denial.
I wasn't that bad. I felt it would be horrible to be labeled an alcoholic. To be honest, I think some of that came from watching my dad's alcoholic behavior, which was not pretty.

Another huge roadblock for me was the fun/social aspect of drinking.
I felt that I was funnier, had more fun, and was invited to more places drinking.
That is something I did not want to stop.

When I was teaching, Friday nights were big drinking nights. I would have too many, sometimes starting at happy hour, and then lying to hubs and having a lot more at home.
Why? I needed it to relax. I deserved it. How else would I de-stress from the week?
This too held me back.

When I dug down deep, I thought of another obstacle...my ego.
I really felt superior to non-drinkers. I thought they were religious nuts or were boring.
This was hard for me to admit.

I think some of my drinking was a rebellion of sorts. Like a teenager, I said you can't make me do anything. I'll drink if I want to. I refused to see reality. 

At my AA meeting the other day, a woman said:


 What happens when you drink?
How is that working for you?

Yikes. That really cut to the core. It certainly didn't work well for me!

I learned, and continue to learn from the word "willingness".
I was finally willing to see past the obstacles, and face the truth.

With GIANT hug,
On Day 911,
Wendy

PS - Prim has a good post about willingness, and you can read it here!


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Guest Post By Mr. Un-Tipsy

This is a post about thanks.

I want to thank everyone who has reached out to Un-Tipsy Teacher over the past few years to offer help, prayers, suggestions or just warm heartfelt wishes.  All of these acts let her know that she is not in this alone.
Dancing The Night Away! (Well until 10:30!)

Un-Tipsy Teacher began her struggle for sobriety over two and a half years ago.  After several earlier attempts to quit drinking had failed, she realized that she couldn’t do it all alone. This time she opened herself up to everyone and began to write about her life with and without alcohol.  She invested time, energy and herself in her recovery.  She explored AA, Women for Sobriety, family, friends and read sober blogs.  She reached out for help in many directions.  What she found was a vast community of generous people who shared her struggles and offered hope.  She found support from family, friends and complete strangers.  I’m always amazed at the support shown for Un-Tipsy Teacher’s struggles from all of the many folks on the internet.  People who read and comment on her blog have had a major impact on her well-being and her continued success in maintaining sobriety.  As she reads other sober blogs about peoples’ struggles and successes she learns something new which helps her understand something about her own life.  She feels a kinship with other people.  She shares the joy in their successes and feels a loss when they struggle.  She is invested in each one of you.   Un-Tipsy Teacher looks forward to comments each time she posts a new blog.  She shares these thoughts with me and always yearns to reach out and help these people any way she can.  She has met many people at AA meetings and other areas of her life who have shared their successes and failures. This is the strength of the sober community.  It’s also the strength that is out there for anyone willing to seek help in their fight for sobriety.

Un-Tipsy Teacher found that the help is there but you have to ask for it.  She had the courage to open up her life and she received the strength and support that she needed and still needs.  The point is, if you open yourself up to ask for help you’ll find it but only if you are willing to work for it.  Recovery isn’t a “one size fits all” process.  I think that means you may need to look at as many options as possible until you find something that works for you.  It might be one thing that helps or it might be a combination of things but something will work, you just need to keep looking until you find it.  Once you find it, hold on tight and never forget why you started this struggle in the first place.

I’m grateful to all of you who have helped and continue to offer help to Un-Tipsy Teacher along the way.  It is this strength of community which can help all of us.

Thank you.

Mr. Un-Tipsy

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Depression

Dear Readers,
I am at my favorite coffee shop, where seem to be able to write the best.
My home is too comfortable, and I can distract myself too easily.

I have suffered from depression for many years.
I take anti-depressants, use a happy light, exercise and do all of the things that are supposed to help.

I am also suffering from a lack of sleep, now going on for over 8 months. 
I think this is making my depression come back with a vengance.
I am seeing a sleep psychologist.
He has started me on a strict sleep deprivation cycle which slowly resets your sleep cycle.
I am up to 6 hours of sleep a night.
I was getting 4 to 5 hours of sleep, so I am going in the right direction.
This takes a lot of time, but I am very motivated to make this work.

It's hard for me to read social cues, and combined with my hearing loss, it makes any kind of social situation with more than one person very hard. I misread people, and I don't always understand how groups work, which also leads to depressed feelings and thoughts.

I also get depressed when I am sick, and I have been sick for over 2 weeks.

I am crying as I write this, because I made a fool out of myself at yoga today, due to my depression and inability to read social cues.
But strangely, I also feel better just writing about this.

Writing is healing. I must remember this, and write sooner when I am feeling this way.
I often think I must have a theme or something profound to write, but I fail to remember that by writing about my depression, I might be able to help someone else.

I know that my depressed thoughts are not reality. I think depression is a combination of body and mind not in balance. 
To help myself today, I will go for a walk in the sunshine with hubs.
(We have some today!!)

There are times I just can't seem to control this disease. 
I guess I have to accept that as well.

And so I pray for all of the people who live with depression.
You are not alone.

Much Love,
On Day 905,
Wendy

Unconditional Love

Dear Readers,
Life has been busy lately, and that is all good.
Mr. UT and I both have colds, which stinks, but we carry on as best we can.
I have been having bouts of depression, and I will write about that in another post.

I was thinking of a young man in my AA group yesterday, who had recently relapsed, and is sober again. He was in tears saying how grateful he was that he had a group of people who still accepted him. He also said he was honest with a therapist for the first time ever.

How much does unconditional love factor into getting sober?
I wonder where would I be, if my hubs hadn't stuck with me through my attempts to moderate, or quit.
If my loved ones had punished me for my drinking, I am not sure I could have gotten sober. If hubs had divorced me, and my family refused to talk to me, I would have felt a deep, deep shame, and more hate about myself, but would it have helped me get sober?
For me, their love, encouragement, and support was vital.
I was loved and accepted despite having an addiction.

More importantly, I needed to be brutally honest with myself, down to my very core, finding all the hidden dark corners where the bottles and secrets were hiding, and bring them to light. 
I wonder if honesty is another form love, where I love myself enough to do the work to be healthy.

I have so much hope for the young man, as he was working through the denial that is keeping him stuck in the pain of addiction.

Each day I stay sober, I am grateful.

Much Love,
On Day 905,
Wendy

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Protecting My Sobriety

Dearest Readers,
For the Beauty of The Earth
Mr. UT and I went for a walk when we FINALLY had a sunny day!
We really love, hiking, holding hands, talking about anything and everything, and connecting.
It really is the best way we listen to each other.
(Well, we can't escape each other when we are out, so if we fight it's a long way home!)

I was thinking about how I protect my sobriety, as I never take it for granted.
I love a holistic approach, where all of my body, mind, and soul are respected and love.

Physically, I keep going to my yoga classes, as I find exercise so important in keeping me sober. I walk with hubs. I find that the peace of mind I feel after being out in nature, or moving my body with grace, helps me stay calmer and connected to what my body needs.
It helps me think things through, like a form of meditation.

Connecting with other people in recovery, helps protect me both spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. I go to AA meetings, and at my meetings I hear stories of strength and hope.
I share my story at first step meetings and that reminds me of how far I have come and why I never want to go back. We hug, meet for coffee, and I see all of these wonderful souls struggling with the same human emotions I have. 

My blogging world has protected me, immensely. The joy and pain we share, shows we are all human, and we really need love and support. I thank you all so very much.

By volunteering in the recovery world of opioid addiction, I have found a community of people who remind me every day of the importance of and the strength of recovery. They are so joyful. This protects me as this little bit of helping I can give this community brings me gratitude many times over.



Spiritually, I protect myself by praying, keeping a gratitude list, reflecting on the vastness of nature, and being open to feel the touch of God though other people. I pray for all the people in recovery who are struggling, that they find acceptance. I pray for all of those people with disabilities, that they find comfort. I pray for all the people who have pain; mentally, emotionally, and physically, that they find the strength, support, and the love they need.

I keep a gratitude list, and every night, I write one or two things I was so thankful for that day.
This is a powerful tool. It protects me by helping me see all the good in the world.

Nature always brings me joy, by seeing its vastness, beauty and even destruction it brings.
Here, I can feel the touch of God.

I have had several gifts this week, that I would describe as spiritual, or God working through people. They have only happened to me now that I am sober, because, I am open to listening, feeling, and accepting these gifts. People who have listened to me cry. Who have hugged me. Who have gifted me their wisdom and their stories. They touched me deeply.

Slowly changing my eating habits, is helping to protect me. My kidney doctor has helped me with this. As I have to eat way less salt, and drink way more water to keep more stones from forming, I am finally able to choose more protein, and stop eating chips. This keeps my blood sugar levels more stable.
And I have been eating an apple or other fruit for a snack. Of course, ICE CREAM has very little sodium!! 
The only problem with water is that I have to pee a lot more!

I am strong. But I am stronger with a huge support system around me.
If I am aware, I will receive many gifts. 


Today we had another day of sun. It was pure joy.
Laundry done, sheets changed, kitchen picked up, blog written, helping with a training for my volunteer job tonight, and coming home to lights on and hubs waiting to be sure I am safe.

These are my gifts today.

With so Much Love,
On Day 882,
Wendy