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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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.

The Hard Truth

I must preface this post by saying that I don’t mean to be a pessimist, or Scrooge, I just feel that being in the ‘throws’ of the holidays its important to remember (for myself, I can’t speak for all my sober friends;), that my addiction is ALWAYS lurking.  It is always waiting for a weak moment.  It is always ready to pounce if I become to complacent.

I came across the following ‘letter’, that was given to me during my outpatient therapy almost a year ago.  It is a difficult piece to read, and unfortunately I can relate to much of it.  Perhaps that is why an uneasiness settles in the pit of my stomach every time I read it.  I’ve been ‘there’ and not that long ago.

The author is unknown,  their words humble me with each reading…

Dear Friend, I’ve come to visit once again.  I love to see you suffer mentally, physically, and spiritually.  I want to make you restless, so you can never relax.  I want you jumpy and nervous and anxious.  I want to make you agitated and irritable, so everything and everyone makes you uncomfortable.  I want you confused and depressed so that you can’t think clearly and positively.  I want you to hate everything and everybody-especially yourself.  I want you to feel guilty and remorseful for all the things you have done in the past.  I want to make you angry and hateful toward the world for the way it is and the way you are.  I want you to feel sorry for yourself and blame everything but me for your present condition.  I want you to be deceitful, untrustworthy, and to manipulate as many people as possible.  I want to make you fearful and paranoid for no reason at all.  I want to be in your dreams.  I want you to wake up all hours thinking of me.  I want your home life to be miserable.  I want you to constantly be in financial difficulty.  I want to take away your ambition and desire to succeed.  Should you win, I want you to come back soon, thinking you will win more, so I can take your last dollar and start the downward spiral again.  I  want you to borrow and steal from family, friends, and financial institutions so I can destroy those relationships.  I want you to sell the things that are dearest to you, for me.  I want you to ignore your family for me.  I want you to commit or consider commiting illegal acts for me.  I deeply appreciate how much you have sacrificed  for me.  The countless jobs and fine friends you deeply cared for-you gave up for me.  And what’s more,  the ones you’ve turned against yourself because of your inexcusable actions-I’m even more grateful.  And especially -your loved ones- your family, the most important people in the world to you -you even threw them away for ME.  I can not express in words the gratitude  I have for the loyalty you have for me.  You sacrificed all these beautiful things in life just to devote yourself completely to me.  But do not despair, my friend, for on me you can always depend.  For after you lost all the things you once held dear, you can depend on me to take even more.  YOU can depend on me to keep your mind, body, and soul in a living hell- for I will not be satisfied until you are dead.

Forever yours, Your addiction

Powerful stuff… Thank you to whomever wrote this difficult, but brutally honest piece.  I am grateful to have read this, shared this, and yes, even lived this.  I do not want to ever forget where I came from, respect the past, but gratitude and humility fills my heart to know that I don’t have to go back.  I have the power to make that choice.

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😊

A Gratitude List

A part of my program is a gratitude list, which is exactly what it sounds like.  Big or small, short or long, silly or serious; all  comprise my gratitude list.  Today is Thanksgiving & I have so much to be grateful for!

1. My Sobriety, first & foremost, without it, I have nothing!

2. M&M, my kids, the loves of my life! I found this note from my daughter the other day, she surprised me with it.  It wasn’t that long ago she was angry & scared of me…

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3. My family; especially my mom, who has supported, loved, “bailed out”, & has not given up on after many disappointments.  I love you mom😊

4. My sisters & their hubby’s who are always their for my kids & I , always….

5. My awesome friends, (you know who you are), I can count on you always & you all make me laugh &keep me on my toes.

6. My job, its more than a job, its a career I truly love!

7. AA, without the program & those I have met thru the program, I would not be successful in recovery.

8. This blog, & all those who read it, follow it, & those that I follow.  This experience has been way more than I ever imagined, & has been a humbling experience.

9. My health & my kids health.

10. The roof over my head, food on my table, heat, electricity, & water.

11. Books. This gal has to be reading something!

12. Music, especially Pandora.

13. Mitchell’s  Ice cream (need I say more).

14. My sock monkey blanket (yes, I have a security blanket).

15. Honesty, openness, & willingness, 3 traits that were often lacking before sobriety.

What a difference a year makes!

Happy Thanksgiving !  Be grateful, today & every day after!!!

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!

Happy Anniversary

10 months, 305 days, over 7,000 hours….. sober…. big deal? kind of… I didn’t make it this far the first time around.  To many it may not seem that 10 months sober is a reason to celebrate or even worth mentioning.  But to me it represents the hardest work I have ever done, which at times has been incredibly painful.  I have learned more about the real me in 10 months than I had in my previous 38 years.  Everyday I wake I am grateful for another day of sobriety.  I pray that if it is Gods will that I will stay sober another day. I  am given the opportunity to make the right choices, be present to those I love and encounter, be honest, be patient, and admit when I am wrong.  Is this difficult at times? Yes, I’m sober, not perfect😉.  But going back to the dark, lonely, and sad world of addiction is just a place I absolutely do not want to re-visit, ever!

10 months ago, I awoke in a locked unit, a detox unit.  Terrified, yes, more importantly, an overwhelming sense of relief. I was done, finished, exhausted.  I had surrendered. While hospitalized, I wrote a letter to my addiction, a goodbye of sorts.  I  recently came across it and would like to share it.

01/2014

I suppose you could say we started out innocently enough.  Warm and inviting, “giving me” a sense of self-confidence (or so I thought), to a gal who was desperate for even a glimmer or shred of confidence.  When we were together I became funny and flirty, engaging, and confident.  I was led to believe that I belonged in any situation, and was liked by everyone.

Over a few years, your ugliness and true intentions began to appear, but I was not ready to give you up or break away.  I was not willing to notice our abusive relationship.  My reputation as “Fun Katie” or “Life of the party” became not so much fun anymore.  Broken promises of only one drink, or being the designated driver, was occurring more often than not.  I was becoming obsessed with you-even when I “thought” I didn’t want you.  You became all-encompassing in my day-to-day life!  I could rationalize why you were so important to me, more so than my loved ones.  How sick is that?  I said NO MORE!

But you are a temptress, just like an abusive relationship.  I kept coming back, thinking this time it will be different.  I thought; I can stop drinking anytime!, only one drink!, I haven’t had a drink in 2 weeks, so its ok to drink tonight, or work is so stressful, it’s the only way I can unwind!  So many lies, so many excuses, so much manipulation, and so much un- manageability.  I was broken and defeated, your grasp on me was slowly killing me.

We did break up for a brief period, and life was ok.  I was putting the pieces of my life puzzle back together.  Unfortunately I became too vulnerable, and you seduced me.  How did this happen again?  Those around me couldn’t grasp how I could take you back.  Why wasn’t I strong enough to just stop and walk away?

I am truly blessed with loved ones who got me the help I so desperately needed and desired.  The relief (overwhelming), that I finally surrendered and admitted that I was powerless over you (alcohol), felt like I was finally able to breathe after nearly drowning.

You are but a symptom of this horrible disease called alcoholism.  I am completely powerless to you, but I know what I must do in order to keep me well and sober.  Just as chemotherapy is the medication used to treat cancer; meetings, the 12 steps, my sponsor, being honest, humble, and patient are my medication.  Everyday is a battle, But I simply need to follow my treatment plan on a daily basis.

I am slowly realizing that I don’t hate you, what good would that do for me and my recovery?  I need to learn to respect you, (keep you enemies close).  You can be awakened at anytime and our destructive relationship could be rekindled.  It is Completely up to me to use the tools I have been given and learning to use every day.  By the grace of God, I have been given another chance, and to that, I am eternally grateful.  I cannot and will not underestimate your power, but  most definitely will not give you anymore power.  I have too much to live for!

Signed

A grateful alcoholic.

10 months ago I was defeated and scared, today I am full gratitude.  I think that’s a reason to celebrate.

The C word

“Nobody told me how hard and lonely change is”   -Joan Gilbertson

Isn’t that the truth?!  Lately, I have been feeling like I am traveling on an endless road of change, and even though I am surrounded by love & support, I feel like I am alone at  times. So much has changed over the last couple of years, both positive and negative, that I take pause for a moment, chuckle to myself, and think my God must have a wicked sense of humor!

Obviously my drinking affected every aspect of my life and major life changes were necessary in order to save my life, my children, my relationships, my job, …EVERYTHING!   Over the course of my recovery I am learning other aspects of me that could use a tune up.  Wanting to control every aspect of my life, striving for perfection (high expectations),  and being way overly sensitive to just name a few….  seriously, I was a b!#$h! 😆. And I am ok with saying that.

Working on all these changes in behavior and attitudes is not easy and can be lonely.  I have lost friendships and relationships over the course of this journey. In all honesty, I wish these individuals would see me as the woman I am today.  But, it’s not my place to wonder what others think of me.  I must be attentive to my behaviors and make changes if warranted. It takes courage and it takes willingness, two required steps that at times, I just don’t feel like or want to risk taking.  I’m allowed to feel this way, I just can’t stay in this mindset, because I will fall back into old behaviors and attitudes and I definitely do not want to go back down that path.  So I will continue to travel (at times trudge) on this road of change for the better, with those who support me.  Who knows who or what I will find along the way😊