Turn Yourself Around

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I’m at a turning point, I think I have been ‘here’ for a while, but haven’t fully accepted, or maybe haven’t been comfortable with the idea.  That may seem a little odd, especially when I reflect on what this post is about…oh progress not perfection… Of course there have been many turning points over the course of my young life. The biggest and most influential becoming a mother, getting married, getting divorced, and admitting I’m an alcoholic and getting sober.  I wouldn’t change anything that I have endured over the years.  This statement may seem crazy to some, and that’s ok.  It’s my life and I own it.

This is my turning point today.  I can finally say that I accept me for me.  Take it or leave it.  I have worked my ass off, not only in my recovery, but with just about every facet of my being.  I am not the shy, scared, sad, co-dependent, people pleaser that I was for many many years.  I no longer care what others think of me, (besides its none of my business).  I don’t have time for pettiness or drama, I spent too many years on that twisted ride.  I hope and pray to stay off it.  I do my best to live in the 4 Absolutes: Honesty, Unselfishness, Purity, and Love.  It’s not always easy, I’m in recovery, not perfect😉.

That being said, if it wasn’t for the program of AA and the journey I started a year and 4 1/2 months ago, and continue on everyday (God  willing), I would not be at this turning point.  I would not be able to say with confidence that I like me and the woman I am becoming.  I’m living in the moment , the best that I can, but I ‘m excited to see what’s in store 😊

Looking back at all the shit I went through and all pain I put my loved ones through I cringe, but seeing me today, it was worth it, and that’s a pretty big turning point!

My name is Katie and I am a grateful recovering alcoholic.

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Why me…Why not me?

I have been bouncing this question back and forth for the last few days and  guess you could say I had an “a ha” moment this evening.  For so long I have been asking myself why me???? Why am I an alcoholic? Why do I have to struggle to make ends meet? Why can’t I meet a guy who will sweep me off my feet? Why do I have to be a single parent? Why do I do the same thing (s) over and over and over again, expecting a different outcome, but always having the same result?  Which usually involves beating myself up over something or asking myself the question again, WHY??
Ughhhh its insanity, its a vicious cycle.  Alcoholic or not an alcoholic, I know many of you can relate!  All this “stuff” lingers and can cloud my serenity big time! I become irritable, impatient, and I find myself comparing me to others, whom I have no right to do.
Even though I don’t crave a drink or have the obsession (Thank God), these behaviors cause havoc, which if I don’t reign in, could lead to temptation in a very brief period of time, and  I don’t even want to go there…
So this brings me to my “a ha” moment.  Tonight I was at one of my regular meetings, a woman’s discussion group.  The topic presented as how we reel ourselves in and stay in conscious contact with our Higher Power, whom ever that is to be to each of us.  As I was listening, it dawned on me that I am damn lucky to be sitting in this chair at this moment…Its a miracle actually. A miracle that I am sober. A miracle that I have 2 kids who were not taken from me because of my drinking, and who geniuninly love me for me.  A miracle that I am present each and every day for my kids, my family, my friends, my coworkers, and my patients.   It s a miracle that I had a spiritual awakening.  A come to Jesus moment where I knew I could no longer live the life I was living and was willing to do ANYTHING to get sober and lead the life I was meant to lead.
Its a miracle that I survived divorce heartache, financial hardship, job strain, deaths, weddings, and holidays over the last year and stayed sober.  I am blessed, I am lucky,  so why the hell not me???  My story,  my experiences, may help another drunk or any individual who is experiencing life’s hiccups.   I didn’t wake up wanting to be an alcoholic, ( no body would choose to live in hell),  but I am grateful to God for  leading  me to sobriety.   Today I can say with confidence that I am a grateful recovering alcoholic.

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So Now What??…

I have been asking myself this question since January 3rd.  I think that is part of the reason I haven’t blogged lately.  Well, that and some serious writers block.  I just haven’t had any descent (in my opinion) ideas that I have been able to develop into a logical, published post, worthy to share .

Wow, that is an  alcoholic statement!  it just oozes with egotistical, controlling , perfectionists traits, or in my case character defects.  I think I answered  my own question!

You see, since my anniversary, I’ve been reflecting and brainstorming how to keep the tempo of my recovery going at a steady pace.  The last 2 steps of Alcoholics  Anonymous is a foundation for the rest of my life in sobriety.

Step 11; Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

Step 12; Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

In a nutshell, Staying involved by going to meetings, setting up meetings, leading discussions,  sponsoring,  and sharing my message (just to name a few).   This seems to be the easy part (none of it is actually easy), but the part that makes the most sense to me.  I guess I am scared that I am missing something, that I am leaving a piece out?… I have completed the 12 steps with my sponsor, who sometimes knows me better than myself.  I also expect to revisit Steps when necessary.   I have a home group, a group of ‘sober sisters’, I pray (need to do more of this), read a lot of literature on recovery and addiction (I choose too), and  oh  yes, this blog, and all the fellow  bloggers I have ‘met’, and admire.  (We are on this journey together).

Sooooo am I making  this way more complicated than it has to be, while on my quest for perfection???

Why am I hesitant and scared as I go into year 2?  Am I worried I will pick up a drink? Not really, (not being arrogant, I know what I will lose if I do),  Am I living in the 4 Absolutes? (honesty, unselfishness, purity, & love), I do my best.  Am I grateful just for today, and mindful of the past?,  For the most part.  Have I forgiven myself?  …. need to work on that… Am I happy?  Yes.

I think my character defects get the best of me at times.  I think I am often so aware and ‘on guard’ of my addiction ‘speaking to me’ (think letter I shared from my addiction), and worry that something is going to go wrong (because so much has gone wrong in the past especially before sobriety), that I am too hard on myself and often ask, what’s wrong or now what?…

Is it validation  I am searching for? I honestly don’t know the answer to that.  Yes? Sometimes?

Gosh, the 2nd year of sobriety just may be more difficult than the first when it comes to peeling away the layers of feelings, in order to maintain emotional sobriety and serenity.

I don’t want to end this post on a negative note, although I do believe I have brought up more questions than answers.  But you know what?, I feel calm and serene as if I’m being told ‘its going to be ok’…

Remember  its progress, not perfection.

What a difference a year makes!!

You could never know what its like

Your blood like winter freezes just like ice

And there’s a cold lonely light that shines from you

You’ll wind up like the wreck you hide behind that mask you use.

And did you think this fool could never win

Well look at me, I’m coming back again

I got a taste of love in a simple way

And if you need to know while I’m still standing you fade away

Don’t you know I’m still standing better than I ever did

Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid

I’m still standing after all this time

Picking up the pieces of my life without you on my mind

I’m still standing…

Elton John

                                                                                   

I’m here, I have arrived.  1 year, 365 days, 8,760 hours.  Although to get technical today marks my last drunk, tomorrow marks my 1st sober day.   I get confused as to which day is the official anniversary, so I plan on honoring both😊.  There would be no sober date without the last drunk date.

Holy cow!  A lot has happened over the last year!  The biggest, waking up in a hospital, ashamed, sad, and scared; but utterly relieved that I didn’t have to lie or hide or feel like crap anymore…I had Surrendered, and Admitted that I was completely Powerless over alcohol.  I was so ready to feel better and move on.  Little did I know how difficult that would be. Through  heartache, resentments, anger, dishonesty, selfishness, and depression (just to name  few),  I have persevered and found my true self, a scared, lonely, unhappy little girl, to no fault but her own.  I discovered the reasons for my addiction, more importantly, why I fed the disease.

Glenda from the Wizard of Oz said it best; “You’ve always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.” (I know I’ve used this quote in a previous post;)

That power includes genuinely liking me, for who I am, I am exactly who, where, and what I should be, (this is still a work in progress, darn control issues;).   My faith and spirituality has changed and grown immensely.  My kids have their mom who is present every day and love them more than words.  I have a job that I am truly passionate about, and my coworkers and patients can depend upon on me.  And my family and friends’ know the real and healthy Katie.

I am entirely grateful to those who have saved my life (some remain anonymous, but I know who you are and carry you close to my heart).  Without the program of AA, my ‘sober sisters’, sponsor, the Cleveland Clinic alcohol and drug recovery program, and most importantly my higher power(God), I would be broken, or in jail, or dead.  By the grace of God I’m still here, standing, excited for the future, but living in the moment, one day at a time.

 

The 1st’s in Sobriety

Let’s try this again….. sorry about the “technical” err, user difficulties😉…

Over the past 11 months a lot of stuff has happened, a lot of firsts and without a drop of alcohol.  Events that in the past would have required a drink, or 2 or 4…. you get the idea.  The divorce, a breakup, financial strain, birthday parties, summer festivities, class reunion, the day-to-day hassles and hiccups life throws at you, when I used to respond with, “I need a drink!”, and most recently, first dates.

I can proudly and confidently say that I got through the good, the bad, and the ugly with my sobriety intact.  To the “normie”(what we alcoholics call the normal social drinker), this may seem like no big deal, but to those of us who are recovering alcoholics, it is a very big deal.  As each event or situation comes my way and my sobriety remains intact, my confidence grows, and I grow more peaceful and content within.  Spiritual growth perhaps?

When I say confidence, I don’t mean cocky, I am not, nor do I want to become complacent.  My sober life today includes a core group of special women, including an awesome sponsor, who I am in constant contact with each and every day.  This group has my back always, and vice versa.  They will and have called me out on my shit.  Going into events or situations, I always have a plan, including exit strategies.  I know when to decline an invitation if I don’t think it will be  “safe” or comfortable for me.  I realize that some may not understand my reasoning, others may be offended, but my sobriety comes first and foremost.  Yes, even before my kids, (gasp), because if I do not protect my sobriety, if I decide to test the waters, so to speak, I would jeopardize and most likely lose everything that I have worked so hard to obtain and achieve.  The most  important  being the relationship with my kids.

So as we are in the “throws” of the holiday season, and I am venturing into the world of first dates, I am relying on all the tools I have collected over the last several months.  I must say that with each situation and or event that is  a “1st” in sobriety, I feel so incredibly grateful and humbled.  I  did this, I am doing this, and I will continue to do this, God willing.  And maybe, just maybe, my experiences, my story, can help another who maybe struggling.

Sobriety aint so bad😊

Pinky Swear

I am blessed with 2 awesome kids, a boy who is 2 and a girl who is 8.  I often refer to them as M&M (as I will when I write).  They truly are the loves of my life! They are hilarious, kind, loving, smart, inquisitive, and creative (of course I’m not biased;)).

Fortunately their dad and I want what is best for them and we both love them unconditionally, even if the two of us are not married anymore.  I am truly grateful and humbled that they call me mommy.

My drinking “took off” after M was born in 2006.  I recently came across journal entries where I wrote that I was concerned with my drinking and that I was going to change my ways for the sake of my family.  Wow!  Well, that never happened and the drinking escalated. Every family event, holiday, and impromptu gathering required alcohol, wine to be specific.  I recall several of my daughter’s birthday parties being wasted, and sadly and selfishly I don’t recall much else.  In the evenings, when I should have been playing with my daughter I was drinking.  When she asked me to read a story I told her to wait, because I was “busy”.  I missed many nights tucking her in….

When M was 6, her brother was born.  Her little brother idolizes his big sister, who acted as a little momma while their real mommy was drinking.  Late afternoon it was time to uncork the bottle, a few hours and a couple of bottles later, M was a better mommy.  In the spring of 2013 I entered rehab voluntarily.  I “left” my kids, the loves of my life for 18 days… they didn’t understand why their mommy left …. nor was it fair that they even had too.  It was the hardest 18 days, being away from them.  Upon my return, I was told that M compared me to Miss Hannigan, Carol Burnett’s character in Annie….. whoa !!

Here I thought M didn’t know about my drinking, I didn’t think it was affecting her…… seriously??!

When I relapsed in January, M&M witnessed my behavior.  I believe in my heart of hearts that God wanted me to witness what my actions had done to them, because I should of been in a blackout, but the sheer look of terror on M&M’s face is ingrained in my brain.

It took a few days for M to talk to and feel comfortable around me, and rightfully so.  When she was ready, we talked (at a 7 yr old level) and I apologized.  She had me pinky swear that I would never drink again.  That was 10 months ago…..I pray every day that I keep that promise and I am grateful each night that I kept the promise, to her and myself.

M didn’t deserve to be forced into adult situations, she doesn’t deserved to have a mom who is an alcoholic.  Neither does little M, but by the grace of God, he wont remember his mommy as a drunk, but his sister will.  Fortunately, I have been, and will continue to be open and honest with both kiddos.  I won’t keep this a hush-hush topic.  I welcome the honest conversations as they come, age appropriate of course.

Today, I live in the present and am present for M&M.  I think this is the best way to keep the pinky swear I made  over 10 months ago.  I continue to work on forgiving myself for being absent in M&M’s lives.  I know I must keep the past in the past, but those feelings of guilt and shame creep up time to time.  Fortunately I have the tools and support to process those feelings.  More importantly, I  have the unconditional love of  M&M. I am one lucky mommy!