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!